Here's wishing everyone the best in the coming year.
My wife, her sister, her nephew, and her niece saw the Alvin and the chipmunks movie. Our daughter, my wife's brother-in-law, and I saw Avatar. We thought the 3D was OK but believe the story would be equally compelling in 2D. Although it is based on the time honored boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back theme, somehow it all seems so new in the lush virtual environment of Pandora. I guess you could say Autodesk software is one of the heroes of the movie. All three of us gave this movie the thumbs up.
I am blogging this from my iPhone.
Experiencing Autodesk technology in the theater is alive in the lab.
"I really love my television
I love to sit by television
Can't live without my television
TV is king
You're my everything"
"TV is King," Remote Control, The Tubes, June 1979.
As part of moving into this townhouse, we purchased two new televisions, My friend, Tim Barrios - the first guy I know to have purchased an HDTV compatible TV way back when, is in the market for a new TV. He asked me a few questions about our TV, so I thought would turn it into a blog article. We are off this week, so I won't have much "company news."
Our family room downstairs is adjacent to our dining area. Both the family room and dinette are have large windows.
With so much light coming into the room, I worried about the picture getting washed out by the natural light. This led me to investigate the Samsung UN55B8500 which has a great contrast ratio. According to the Samsung web site:
For images that are stunningly true to life you need the 3 Cs: contrast, color and clarity. Ultra brilliant Samsung LED TVs have them all. 7,000,000:1 Mega Contrast provides an incredible range of brightness - from pure blacks to pristine whites. Advanced Color Processing enables a wider range of natural colors and provides greater depth for a vibrant, captivating picture - even with subtle colors. Plus our Auto Motion Plus 240Hz technology eliminates virtually all motion blur leaving your picture smooth and crisp - and your jaw dropped.
I purchased it at Best Buy.
I have had the TV for a few months now. Though the Tubes lyrics I quoted are an overstatement, I love it. We also bought a Samsung UN55B8000 HDTV for our bedroom which is upstairs. Through the UN55B8000 is a fine TV, and get me there is nothing wrong with it, the UN55B8500 is just better. The picture is just more stunning.
As part of buying two TVs from Best Buy at the same time, the salesman threw in two Samsung Blu-Ray players. In addition to playing standard DVDs, these players play Blu-Ray DVDs which are the HDTV equivalent of DVDs. Besides playing discs, the players can be connected to the internet. I did this by wiring one directly into my Linksys. I connected the downstairs player by purchasing a wireless adapter for the player. With either player connected to the internet, I can use a built-in user interface to connect to Blockbuster, Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora.
The remote even has color coded buttons to make navigating the user interface easy.
I have a Nextflix account so I can watch movies instantly. Using my computer I add movies to my "Watch Instantly" queue. When using my player, I select a movie from the queue, and Netflix streams it from their servers to my player which then gets displayed on my TV. This includes high definition. The picture looks great and bandwidth does not seem to be a problem.
Not all movies are available to be watched instantly. For some of the new and popular titles, Netflix members need to rent the DVD or Blu-Ray disc.
For YouTube the resolution is lower than HDTV, but it is quite convenient to be able to stay abreast of the latest viral videos without having to log on to the computer.
Pandora is a free music service based on a database. Experts listen to a piece of music, rate its characteristic like style, mood, tempo, arrangement, use of instruments, etc., and put this information into a big database. As a Pandora user, I select a seed song or artist that I like and Pandora selects music that is like my selection using the information in the database. It's like having your own personal radio station that only plays music you like.
So there you have it. Some tid bits about our TV and how we use it.
Talking about technology during the holiday season is alive in the lab.
Autodesk is observing a company furlough for the next 2 weeks. With the exception of staff dedicated to manning our critical systems, all United States employees will take time off with a combination of holiday and vacation. So although it may seem like something's amiss with the RSS feed for this blog, it really just us relaxing. And if you don't get an immediate response to your Autodesk Labs feedback request like you normally do, fear not, we'll reply as soon as we get back. We will return in 2010 ready for action.
Senior Product Manager, Mark Evans, and Software Architect, Steve Voorhees, report that we released an update to the Project Blustreak technology preview. You can get more information about Project Bluestreak at:
The new release includes the following new features and enhancements:
Messages: Users can now send messages to members of their network within Project Bluestreak. Your network includes those users who have accepted your invitation to be contacts or who are co-members of a Bluestreak group. We’ve included a notification setting that controls whether you will receive an email notification when you have a new message in Project Bluestreak.
Open a File from the Activity Stream: Any time a file to which you have access is uploaded or modified, an entry is created in the activity stream on your home page or group page. Now, each such entry includes a link to open (download) the file so that you don’t have to navigate to another page to do so. If you have notifications set to tell you about file changes, you don’t even have to switch to the Bluestreak web site; you can open the designated file from the notification email.
Password Change: From the settings page in Project Bluestreak, you can now change your login password.
Corrections: And, in response to your feedback, we have fixed many defects and polished many elements of the user experience.
Thank you for continuing to be part of the Project Bluestreak community! Keep telling us how we are doing at email@example.com.
Evolving our BIM social network is alive in the lab.
Originally I was going to use Facebook solely to communicate with my friends and family. Then contacts from my Autodesk blogging started to surface. So my Facebook use became a mix of business and pleasure. I was unsure of where the lines were: Personal Life and Professional Life: Never the Twain Shall Meet?. Ben Cochran had a similar thought when he was guest blogging for me during my sabbatical: Facebook at Work?.
Last week I attended a meeting with Peter Yewell who is a Director for National Accounts at Facebook. Peter covered the new security and privacy features of Facebook. He was keen to note that the Facebook site is not what Facebook considers their product. Instead it's an environment where people feel comfortable sharing information and building a network of relationships. My meeting with Peter got me to look at my Facebook usage more closely. I discovered that I can use the long-standing Facebook Lists feature to segment my social network into Personal and Professional contacts. This way my relatives like my brother Warren in New Orleans don't have to hear about an update to the Inventor Publisher Technology Preview, and journalists like Roopinder Tara don't have to hear about our daughter Stephanie in Chicago learning to scrape ice off of her windshield.
Maybe I am late to the party since lists have been around a while, but I see using Facebook lists is a WIN-WIN. The gist of Peter's talk is that Facebook users can select with whom they want to share information on a piece by piece basis.
Aligning information sharing based on personal and professional bases is alive in the lab.
Over the last two weeks, I have been retiring items from the Autodesk Labs site. I want to shorten the menu pull down to make room for new technology previews next year. Rather than totally remove the old technology previews from the site, I have simply moved them to the graduates page. The exception to this rule is when a technology preview expires. When it expires, it's gone. As it stands now, we do have some that will expire soon.
So be sure to test these out and provide your feedback before they do.
Reminding everyone that time is of the essence is alive in the lab.
This is our fourth and final graduation for the month. It's the end of our year end close out sale. Everything must go. Our prices are insane. We're making room for next year's technology previews. As such the technology preview for the Shrinkwrap Add-in for Inventor has also run its course.
Thanks to everyone who downloaded and provided feedback on this technology. For Inventor 2008 or 2009 users, the installer can still be downloaded from the Autodesk Labs Graduates page.
Product Manager, Patrick Aragon, was interviewed at Autodesk University talking about Project Dragonfly. You can see the video of this interview on one of these sites:
The AEC Café site also features the text of a short question and answer interview with Carl Bass at AU that includes a brief mention of Project Dragonfly:
So check one of these out. You can also get more information about Project Dragonfly in our press release:
Giving you more than just an Autodesk Labs web page to read is alive in the lab.
The technology preview for the Navigation Tool for AutoCAD has run its course.
Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on this technology. For AutoCAD 2008 or 2009 users (or the associated vertical solutions), the installer can still be downloaded from the Autodesk Labs Graduates page.
It's our end of the year closeout sale. We're making room for next year's technology previews. The technology preview for the JT Translator Add-in for Inventor has also run its course.
Thanks to everyone who downloaded and provided feedback on this technology.
Autodesk Labs is all about feedback. Way back when I was the Software Development Manager for Volo View, Jason Pratt was our Marketing Manager. When Jason and I would argue over what features to implement next, Jason would chide me with "Why don't I just post my request in the Autodesk newsgroups - then you actually might do it?" You see I have been a fan of direct user input for a long time. But I digress.
The Design Review team would like to get your insight on Autodesk Design Review. Please take a few minutes to complete their survey. The survey should take about 8-10 minutes. Your answers will be combined with those provided by others to make important business decisions.
Spreading the word about gathering direct customer feedback is alive in the lab.
The technology preview for the CATIA V5 Import Translator for Inventor has run its course.
Thanks to everyone who downloaded and provided feedback on this technology.
Retiring the old to make room for the new is alive in the lab.
Autodesk is running a brief survey of how users share their designs. Our goal is to understand which formats are commonly used for sharing and why these formats are used. Your input is extremely valuable -- please participate.
Thanks. Your input shapes the future of our technology.
When our daughter Stephanie was in 5th grade, she and her classmate Lisa Curtis won a Waste Management essay contest with their story entitled "Bobby and His Composting." Since then Lisa has not given up the fight for a greener world. As part of her college studies, Lisa spent months in Africa helping families replace burning forest wood with use of biogas. This summer as a White House intern, Lisa had a 30 minute conversation with President Obama - in Swahili no less. Lisa is in Copenhagen right now representing her college as world leaders meet to discuss an agreement to reduce greenhouse gasses. Recent polls show that as economic woes persist, public concern for climate change is dwindling.
What if more people knew about the cost-effective opportunity in the building sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with better energy efficiency?
What if decision makers understood how building technology can help accelerate improvements in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry and create a greener, more sustainable economy?
We created RETROFITS for this very purpose: to raise awareness about the benefits of greener, more sustainable buildings. The on-line game is the core of the program. See if you can make the leader board, then share it with your friends! There is also a short video (created in Maya) and an animated banner free for distribution to all. So here's where It's Alive in the Lab readres can help:
Doing our part to help Lisa in her quest is alive in the lab.
As part of our townhouse remodel, we had a tankless water heater installed. Its predecessor was a gas water heater whose life expectancy was 15 years. Ours was 20 years old. So rather than awake one morning to the prospect of a cold shower, we preemptively had a new water heater installed.
As a company, Autodesk is doing everything it can regarding sustainable design. The Sustainable Materials Assistant for Autodesk Inventor is available as a technology preview on the Autodesk Labs site. The Autodesk corporate web site has a full section on sustainable design. So it made sense to us to select a tankless water heater. The premise behind tankless water heaters is that energy is saved by heating the water as needed rather than heating and maintaining hot water at the ready.
Our unit is a Noritz N-0751M-DVC. It is an indoor wall-mounted unit that vents to the outside. It has no pilot light using a direct ignition mechanism instead. It operates at 15 to 150 psi. The water holding capacity is only 0.2 gallons. It can increase the water temperature up to 45 degrees with a flow of 7.5 gallons per minute.
The initial factory temperature setting is 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Out of the box, the controls allow you to set a desired temperature between 100 and 120 degrees. At 110, we found that our water was not hot enough and took quite a while to reach a usable temperature. So we tried 120 degrees. That still seemed to take longer than desired. The Noritz unit has override controls that let the owner increase the upper limit to 140 degrees. After setting the override, we have our temperature set at 125 degrees. We do not have young children and the accompanying worry that they might inadvertently scald themselves. With our son at boot camp, we are what they call empty nesters.
Despite having the setting at 125 degrees, it still takes quite a while [1 minute, 11 seconds at full blast or about 3 minutes on normal flow] for hot water to reach our master bathroom faucets. I have resorted to brushing my teeth with the water running, a wasting water no-no taught to us as children, so that I have hot water for shaving by the time I am done with my teeth. Apparently, the tankless water heater trades off increased water consumption for lower energy costs. This is a viable strategy until the day comes when the cost of clean water (a scarce commodity) outstrips the cost of energy (e.g., solar). Recall that we installed a solar water heater in our first house in 1982. So given the long-term prospects, I cannot recommend tankless water heaters at this time. Water is predicted to eventually be so scarce that its discovery on the moon is now being celebrated. We could supplement our household unit with a smaller on-demand unit specifically located at the sink where I shave, but that may come at a later day.
Sharing first-hand experiences with sustainable technology is alive in the lab.
Now that AU is behind us, and we can breathe again, it's time to welcome Willy Luce to the Autodesk blogosphere. Willy is a pre-sales engineer with the AEC Division of Autodesk France. For the last 4 years, the division has: carried out localization and French standardization of AutoCAD Civil 3D, supported the sales teams, and worked with the network of French retailers.
I guess Willy wants to give Gwenaël Bachelot (Geospatial - Made in France) some company. As Web Marketing Manager, Eric Wright, noted when he alerted us to the creation of the new blog "Test your French." Alternatively French-challenged site visitors can use translators like Babel Fish. Oh my hovercraft is full of eels.1 Welcome aboard Willy or should I say Bienvenue à bord de Willy.
Our own Brian Mathews gave a briefing to the press:
Check it out.
I don't usually read fiction. In fact I never do. I normally read books by scientists like A Brief History of Time, Surely You Must Be Joking Mr. Feynman!, or Uranium. Shortly after moving into our townhouse I met our neighbor, Jeptha Boone, who lives across the street. I told him that I was originally from New Orleans. He had spent a brief moment in time in New Orleans and enjoyed the food and the people. He asked if I had ever read A Confederacy of Dunces. He felt that book captured the spirit of the people of New Orleans.
I was intrigued. Since we had last week off, I read the book. The story chronicles the misadventures of one Ignacius J. Reilly - an overweight, underachieving, and overeducated adult who still lives with his mother. The book takes its title from a Jonathan Swift quotation:
When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
The book has many colorful characters but what really held my interest were the authentic references to New Orleans. Street names like Constantinople, Elysian Fields, St. Charles Avenue, and Canal Street bring back sweet memories. Places like D.H. Holmes, the Prytania Theater, and Maison Blanche are places I have been. To this day, although I grew up eating red beans and rice flavored with "pickle meat," I cannot find anyone in Phoenix or the Bay Area that sells it. I had to laugh when "pickle meat" came up in the book not once but twice.
A Confederacy of Dunceswas written by John Kennedy Toole. Among other things he taught at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now called the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which is my alma mater. Sadly Toole took his own life in 1969 despondent over his inability to get his manuscript published. His mother picked up the cause and brought her son's work to print. A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981.
We have scheduled maintenance on our servers that will affect the availability of our discussion forums. The down time will occur from
Friday, December 4, 5:00 PM PST
Saturday, December 5, 3:00 PM PST.
Though this affects all discussion forums, the Labs forums that will be unavailable include:
Thank you for your patience and continued interest in providing us with feedback via these forums. I am old school. I still refer to these forums as newsgroups. I still use the Outlook Express Newsreader.
Moving our discussion forums to a more robust environment is alive in the lab.
The ADN plugin of the month for December is the Layer Reporter for AutoCAD 2007 (and later) that was written by Terry Dotson, from DotSoft, and edited by Kean Walmsley for publishing on his blog: Through the Interface.
The plugin generates a report of the layers used within an AutoCAD drawing. The report formatting can be customized and the customized settings are applied when the tool is used on other drawings. The resulting report can be printed or saved to a web page (HTML or MHT) or plain old text file.
Sweetening the pot to help others to develop their own plugins is alive in the lab.
Product Manager, Abhijit Singh, contacted me a while back about a new Inventor Publisher Technology Preview he wanted to get feedback on from the Autodesk Labs community. Autodesk Inventor Publisher Technology Preview is easy-to-use software for creating interactive 3D product documentation - from assembly instructions to operating procedures, repair instructions, and more. You can deliver clearer and more comprehensive technical instructions to your customers. Now that I am back from my sabbatical, I was happy to update the Autodesk Labs site. Having recently released the Piping Design Technology Preview, it's been a busy time:
Like many of our technology previews that start small and then grow larger, to ensure the best experience for those participating, the download of the technology preview is limited to the following geographical locations: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States. We hope to expand to other locations in the future. So if you are in one of these designated locations, please take this for a spin and let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's raining technology previews! Soliciting your feedback is alive in the lab.