Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Software Authorization

Our salespeople often get calls from our customers when they have software authorization problems. I'm writing today to address one thing that comes up all the time.

If your Autodesk product won't authorize automatically over the internet, on the form you fill out to authorize via email they'll ask you to fill in your computer's server name and MAC address. Many customers call us wanting help to find these. The more computers have become "user friendly" the less we need to know about the workings behind the scenes, so the less we learn how to work on these kinds of things...

In order to find the server name and MAC address, first you need to get to a command prompt. In Windows XP (and I'm told in Vista too) go to the Start menu and find "Run". When you click on that, you'll get a place to enter a command. Type in "CMD" (with no quotes) and hit enter. This will put you in the old DOS-looking interface. At the prompt, type in "IPCONFIG /ALL" (again without the quotes) and you will see something very like this illustration. The Server name is displayed as Host Name, and the MAC address is displayed as Physical Address.

Write these down, I mean you actually have to use a pen or pencil, and paper, so you'll have them on hand when you contact Autodesk. The MAC address should be written with no dashes or spaces, by the way.
Voilà! as my French friends would say, which is a lot quicker than saying "There you have it" or "Here you go" or "That's it!". "Voilà" is one of the most useful words not in the English language.

This procedure can also be used if you want to obtain a license file before you install the Autodesk License Manager (AdLM) tools - in fact, that's where this information lives on the Autodesk website.
Another little tip - you can get to the C: prompt in Start>All Programs>Accessories if you have Windows XP.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

AutoCAD 2009 Update

Today when I opened my AutoCAD 2009, I received a notice to install an Update, which I thought was curious. I clicked on the link, and read through the Instructions for Updating my Product. At the bottom there was a link that said 'Read Me'. I clicked on it, because I was wondering what exactly an 'update' was. After telling me who should install this update, it had a listing for "Primary Issues Resolved by this Update". Curiouser and curioser. As I read through them, I realized, "Oh! This is a Service Pack!" ( I admit to being a little slow this morning)

I guess a service pack by any other name sounds much more sweet - a little less like fixing what was wrong, and a little more like adding more and better functions.
Here is a link to the Read Me file, which ought to be read. 2009 UPDATE READ ME.

The things that will be improved by this update are:
3D Visual Styles
Annotation Scaling
External References (xref) palette
Raster Images
Partial Open
Properties Palette
Remote text (rtext)

Individual little glitches have been fixed in:
.NET API - Annotation Scaling – Attributes – Blocks - Export a Layout to Model Space - External Reference ESW – Hatch - Hide/Shade - Menu Browser - Multileader (mleader) - Multiline Text (mtext) - Open/Save - Partial Open – Plot - Property Palette – Publish - Quick Properties – Render – RECOVER – Ribbon - Visual LISP - ZOOM

You'll have to go to the Read Me to find out what exactly they changed...

Also, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom and read the part entitled, "Known Issues with this Update". Your Ribbon customization could be affected after you install Update 1, so you'll want to know what's going to happen, and the work-arounds they list. Last but by no means least, the Read Me has instructions for installing this Update for network installations, so if that's you, be sure to read that.

And here is the link to Update 1, the eagerly awaited service pack for AutoCAD & AutoCAD LT 2009. I hope this slays all the gremlins that live in your computer's 2009 AutoCAD files.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Quick Properties

Our neighbors have this little black dog named Sassy, she's some sort of a Labrador Retriever mix, and she takes her responsibilities very seriously! She works really hard to be a good watchdog, barking continually at anyone who rides a bike or jogs down the road. Sassy wants to be so helpful, she's always at our door, ready to greet us. If there's a raccoon or coyote in the area, she will bark until it goes away - even if it takes all night! If one of us pulls our car into the driveway, she runs to greet us and then escorts us home. If someone comes by to visit, she's quick to let everyone know there's a stranger here. I appreciate her willingness to always be on task, but it does get to be a bit much.

WhenI was trying out the new Quick Properties, frankly, it reminded me a lot of Sassy. It's good to have, like a more-than-willing watchdog, but it can be annoying.

Unlike Sassy, however, Quick Properties can be turned off whenever you don't want it around.

How it works - When the Quick Properties button is on - (these buttons turn blue in 2009 now, what a good idea!) - if you select an object, a smaller version of the properties palette pops up right next to your cursor, with information about that object. Just like in the normal Properties palette, you can modify the object right there. It's really handy when you need it, and when you don't, just click it off.

If you right-click on the Quick Properties (from here on out I'm going to abbreviate that to QP) panel and choose "Settings" you can adjust how this QP panel operates. At the top, decide whether you want to show QP for all object types, or only for defined objects.
The middle section is labeled "Location" and here you can decide where the panel pops up. In Cursor mode, the QP panel pops up relative to the object you selected, and you can enter how many pixels away from your cursor it will be. In Float mode, my personal favorite, the QP panel always displays in the same position on your screen until you manually move it. (Kind of like tying up the dog!)

The bottom section is called Size Settings, and here you type in how many lines the QP panel will show when it first pops up. Any additional properties that you want to see will unfold if you hover over the fly-out triangle.

This was well thought out by Autodesk- if you choose "Customize" when you've right-clicked on the QP box, it puts you right into the Customize User Interface dialog box, with the QP section already open for you, creating two columns on the right side of the CUI box. Pretty slick! Whichever object you had selected in your drawing is the one currently showing, with the current properties selected in the farthest right column. You can check whichever properties you really want to see, and uncheck those you don't. Then in the other column, you can also edit any other defined object just by clicking on it. When you select a different defined object, different property choices will show up in the farthest right column, and you can choose which ones to show for every type of object.

I think if you give this a try you'll find it a good tool to have in your repertoire. Set it up so it shows the properties you need to verify the most often, and turn it on whenever you're fixing up someone's drawing. I'm sure Sassy would approve!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Humor for a Thursday Afternoon

This has been passed around since 1995, but I only got it a week ago. It made me laugh, and since today is a slow last-day-before-a-long-weekend, it seems like a good time to pass it along.

What if Dr. Seuss did Technical Writing?
By Gene Ziegler 1995.

Here's an easy game to play.
Here's an easy thing to say:

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,

And the bus is interrupted as a very last resort,
And the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort,
Then the socket packet pocket has an error to report!

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
And the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash,
And your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash,
Then your situation's hopeless, and your system's gonna crash!

You can't say this?
What a shame sir!
We'll find you
Another game sir.

If the label on the cable on the table at your house,
Says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
But your packets want to tunnel on another protocol,
That's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall,

And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss
So your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse,
Then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang,
'Cause as sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang!

When the copy of your floppy's getting sloppy on the disk,
And the microcode instructions cause unnecessary risk,
Then you have to flash your memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM.
Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your mom!

This was sent to me in an email, and I found the author information on the page :
There are a lot of other “if Dr. Seuss wrote…” parodies on this site that are really well done!
And please, if anyone knows whether the author I attributed this to is not the right one, please let me know and I'll change it. (Dr. Seuss books were my favorites when I was learning to read)