There’s only one promise that I have ever made where I recited a vow in front of witnesses, in a house of God, and signed paperwork afterwards. I, of course, am talking about my wedding vows. Given this level of commitment, it is the promise I hold most sacred. Improbable as it is, as I do not own a gun, I tell my wife of almost 33 years, Sheryl, that I am more likely to kill someone than cheat on her. After all, I never made a promise that I wouldn't kill anyone.
This past week my wife and I took a cruise on The Rock Boat. One part was spending a day on a Norwegian Cruise Line island called Great Stirrup Cay. Sheryl opted to sleep later that day so I took the tender boat from the ship to the island alone. Once there, I plopped our stuff on two beach chairs to stake our claim. While waiting for Sheryl to arrive, two hot girls from the adjacent chairs struck up a conversation. As we talked, I thought to myself, "I think they're hitting on me." I couldn't help but be reminded of Jason Sudeikis' line from the movie Hall Pass where the main character, while with his buddies in a singles bar, exclaims “Man if I wasn't married, I would be doing some serious damage up in here.” Then during our conversation, reality sunk in when one of the girls referred to me as “Sir.”
Comedian Chris Rock once said “A man is only as faithful as his options.” I think most men like to believe they have options but elect not to exercise them because they are better than the average man. Statistically I guess we can't all be better than average. In reality most of us just love our wives. I know I do. Integrity is hard to find among politicians, average Joes, and certainly how men are portrayed on television. Artist Arthur Wood once encoded a message into an album cover to be true to your words and your work. IMHO words to live by.
Fidelity is alive in the lab.
"Metal under tension — begging you to touch and go
Highway to the Danger Zone
Right into the Danger Zone"
— "Danger Zone," Top Gun Soundtrack, Kenny Loggins, 1986.
As I have mentioned before, I sit next to our robot. His name is Bishop. I use the term robot loosely since there is debate as to whether or not this is indeed a robot. A robot is supposed to be able to respond to its environment. This Universal Robot arm only does what we tell it. It will sense contact with something, like a human, and stop before hitting the person too hard, but other than that, it just responds to its set of preprogrammed commands.
Due to my proximity, a common question I overhear is "What does it do?" Our interest is not so much in what the robot arm can do, but how we humans tell it to do what we want it to do. We're investigating easier ways to program robots. Our customer, Bot & Dolly, made quite a splash by programming robots using a Maya-based interface. We'd like to go beyond that. Yes we could talk about theory, which we do, but we also want to include practice. And that's where Bishop comes in. Bishop is located on the 2nd floor of One Market. As part of our safety protocol, we have the ability to rope off the area when Bishop is in use. I guess you could say we're armed and dangerous.
A robot arm is alive in the lab.
With the NFL Super Bowl® coming up, here's something I thought I would share:
The video shows, Autodesk Flow Design, formerly Project Falcon on Autodesk Labs, being used to show what the wind might be like in the Super Bowl stadium.
As long as we are on the topic of augmented football reality, here's something else I'd like to share. It's my great idea. I should patent this, sell it to the TV networks, and retire now:
image source: howstuffworks.com
For fans who watched the Detroit Lions versus Philadelphia Eagles game, there was so much snow on the field that the numbers for the yard lines were graphics added as part of the broadcast.
image source: thebiglead.com
Fans at the stadium only saw the yard lines themselves that had been uncovered manually.
image source: KOIN.com
To those in attendance, the 30-yard line looked just like the 20-yard line. At home, we had a better experience.
Fantasy football is a popular pass time where people, normally friends, compete by drafting players and assembling virtual teams. The winner is the person who drafts and opts to play players with the best on-field performance as reflected in their individual statistics. In other words, "Did my group of players outperform your group of players this week?" With fantasy football being what it is, the data for most players is already being collected. It's probably collected for all players; it just get used by fantasy football for some positions (e.g., receivers=yes, offensive lineman=no). I am pretty confident that all of these different fantasy football leagues get their player data from the same big player database in the cloud somewhere. The TV networks should tap into that database.
So what if we superimposed the player's rank on the screen as the players are lined up before the ball is snapped?
original picture source: Lubbock-Avalanche Journal
TV viewers could look at the screen and make a prediction in their heads as to how a play might turn out. In other words, if the offense has a set of players on the field with relatively low numbers (i.e., good at their respective positions), and the defense has a set of players with high numbers (i.e., not so good at what they do), then TV watchers can surmise that the play may go as expected. Each play would be different as teams shuttle players in and out of the game. Once the ball is snapped, the rankings go away so as not to be distracting. In the fictitious scenario I have pictured above, a running play to the center's right might go well since the opposing defensive lineman is the worst second-string player in the league at his position.
So what do you think? Could we use technology to augment the game with visual statistics or should we just allow the commentators to keep running their mouths and take them at their word?
The gridiron with graphics might one day be alive in the lab.
* The Super Bowl is a registered trademark of The National Football League.
In a previous blog post I talked about my colleagues' work with robots:
Because I had an eye doctor's appointment, I worked from home two days ago. When I let my team know I was working from home, I explained that my fancy eyewear does not yet know how to 3D print itself. I still need to go to the ophthalmologist annually.
So when I came in yesterday morning, I saw that our robot was learning to draw.
I have mentioned what I think of modern art. I once paid $32 to go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MoMA) so I could see things like this:
So in my humble opinion, I think what the robot has drawn would quality:
I call it "Tangerine Peel Unrolled." I believe it will fetch millions of dollars at auction.
Sketchy behavior is alive in the lab.
Yesterday a package arrived.
Look closely at the label on the box:
Director of Strategic Innovation, Maurice Conti, and Engineer of Applied Innovation, Evan Atherton, were like children on Christmas morning:
What will come from this? For some reason I am reminded of a combination of:
Will the result be:
Actually, the box contained a Universal Robot UR10 robot arm (// more). Here are the specs:
Early on Maurice and Evan had to stop wringing their hands together. They did not get past page 6 of the user manual
before their evil plans were foiled:
The process started by drilling holes.
Then the robot arm was attached.
Then they decided to cut the steel mounting plate using a laser at our Pier 9 facility. It now mates with the desk.
The arm is controlled by inputting commands on a tablet.
I guess you could say Maurice and Evan are armed but not dangerous.
Canned laughter is alive in the lab.
"Well they blew the horns, and the walls came down."
— "The Walls Came Down," The Call, 1983
It's Friday which is the day I avoid serious blog posts.
We have a quote about design at the entrance to the Autodesk Gallery. The other day I came across it as it was being removed so the wall could be repainted. For example, you can see how Green Building Studio appears as Green Building Stud.
Fear not, a new quote will take its place after the painting. But as long as the current quote is coming down, I thought that Facilities could have some fun as they toiled. Parts could be removed strategically to form new sentences.
Well this didn't happen, but it could have been fun. Here's the wall awaiting the paint. I guess at least one thing remains constant.
Here is the wall for last night's Design Night.
Come see the replacement quote for yourself. The gallery at One Market is open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is free. Visit us.
Humor is alive in the lab.
Some customers welcome the cloud. Others would only use it if we pry their desktop keyboards from their cold, dead hands. So our plan is to continue to sell desktop applications bundled in suites that are augmented with web-based services in the cloud. So it was heartening to read Scott Adams' blog post today:
I was particularly fond of the quote:
"Designing a country from the furniture up would have been impractical twenty years ago. To do this sort of thing right, you need high end CAD software and the ability to visualize everything from the furniture to the street layout in 3D. You need smartphones. And you need a fiber optic Internet connection to every home."
— Scott Adams, Dilbert Cartoonist
We too see a world where everything is connected. Just like our transition from DOS to Windows, we see the world moving to a cloud/mobile/social platform. The smartphone and tablet are the new PC. Our path to get there is to support a variety of devices, old and new, until we all get there. Now that we have the cartoonists on board, surely the architects and engineers will follow. :-)
Diversity is alive in the lab.
On June 28, 2011, I had a visitor to my office window. I know the exact date because I posted on Facebook: "For some reason, I feel like I am being watched."
In June of 2013, one of our summer interns, Charlott Vallon, had a similar visitor. Or perhaps it was the same bird? Here is a speaker case that Director of Applied Innovation, Maurice Conti, and Charlott designed as her summer project:
Coincidence? Or does being peeped by a bird make a subconscious, but indelible impression? If biomimicry is the intentional design and production of materials, structures, and systems modeled on biological entities and processes, what is it if it is unintentional? The speaker now sits on Maurice's desk.
Pondering the origin of form is alive in the lab.
Who are those cool guys?
Why that's Autodesk Labs Program Manager, Scott Sheppard, and Autodesk Chief Technology Officer, Jeff Kowalski. What's the only thing that could make them cooler? Why 3D glasses of course!
Actually we were fortunate to attend Bot & Dolly's viewing of the new Gravity movie starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Other Autodesk luminaries in attendance included members from the Office of the CTO (OCTO): Arthur Harsuvanakit, Evan Atherton, Jon Pittman, and Maurice Conti. And it wasn't just OCTO, other parts of Autodesk were represented by Carl Bass, Greg Eden, Matt Tierney, and Rama Dunayevich. Autodesk was well represented.
Bot & Dolly's contribution to the movie involved hooking cameras and scenery to robots. The robots then moved the cameras and scenery to create special effects that look like weightlessness. This style of filming also prevented motion sickness for the actors since they remained stationary while everything else revolved around them. The effect on screen though is that the actors are moving. So it was not a shock to us that the centerpieces for last night's gala were small-scale replicas of Bot & Dolly robots and looked like:
Autodesk's connection to the movie is that Bot & Dolly use Autodesk Maya to program their robots. They find that this makes for an easier user interface than manual robot programming. If you want to get an appreciation of what Bot & Dolly can accomplish, check out this 5 minute video:
With regard to Gravity, for all you astrophysicists out there, I do have a question:
That's the one part of the movie I didn't get, but overall the event and the movie were stellar. Thanks Bot & Dolly!
Gravity is alive in the lab.
My blog post, Toilet Paper Should Be Loaded So It Rolls Off The Top, elicited the following response:
After I had responded, later that day I saw this on funny.com:
What are the odds?
When systems are designed, the external factors need to be taken into account. Normally the persona is the user, but in this case, it's the pet.
Q:Why is software design for an iPad like loading a toilet paper roll on a dispenser?
A: Both define a user interface based on hand gestures.
Coincidence is alive in the lab
I have no desire to become Autodesk's official scatological expert but on the heels of my Will It Flush? blog article, I thought I would address the age old question of which way the toilet paper should be loaded on the roll.
Obviously, the Autodesk Facilities department is pro-choice because the men's room has one of each:
Each stall in the men's room has two rolls. On the upper roll, the paper comes off the bottom (a.k.a. the under orientation). On the lower roll, the paper comes off the top (a.k.a. the over orientation). The problem with the upper roll is that when the paper comes off the bottom, it falls behind the metal plate of the dispenser. This is obviously a sign from a higher power that toilet paper should be loaded on a roll so that it comes off the top.
In surveys of American consumers and of bath and kitchen specialists, 60–70% of respondents prefer over. source: Barry Sinrod and Mel Poretz, The First Really Important Survey of American Habits, 1989.
Our CEO, Carl Bass, once told a story about systems and how the parts need to work together. It was based on an experience he had at the brand spanking new Denver airport. To be more sustainable by saving paper, the men's room in the airport had toilet paper dispensers that dispensed one square at a time. To ensure that each new visitor had a fresh bowl, the toilets would automatically flush when one lifted one's rear from the seat. The problem was that the paper dispenser was located just far enough away that as one reached for some paper, one's butt lifted ever so slightly from the seat. You guessed it — automatic flush. At one square per reach, the superfluous flushing process repeated itself many times. This is hardly what one would call a sustainable design. My guess is that this has since been remedied.
Of course, it could be worse. Someone posted this on Failblog.org:
The over/under debate is alive in the lab.
I am a very methodical person — to the extreme. Even something as simple as getting dressed is a process. Each morning I simply grab the shirt in my closet on the end. I then pick pants to go with the shirt. Done. I place clean shirts at one end of the closet and pull shirts to wear from the other end — that way my apparel rotates. I got the idea years ago from the movie, The Fly, where Albert Einstein was quoted as believing that man had a finite amount of thought, so he wore an identical outfit each day to avoid wasting thought on what to wear. I figured that I didn't have to wear the same thing each day — I only had to avoid deciding what to wear. My process provides variety as well as lack of thought.
My wife Sheryl knows I do this. Last night was Design Night in the Autodesk Gallery. The theme was how design affects fashion. Sheryl was attending the event with me. Knowing she would have to be seen in public with me, on Wednesday night as we went to bed, she flung open my closet door, and said "Let's see what shirt you'll be wearing tomorrow." She combed through the shirts and located the one on the end. It was the red/gray/black striped one you see in the picture above. She said that one would be fine. I said I would wear it with black pants. She said I could wear it with gray pants. I said I would since I wear black pants often. You see, already this conversation is more thought than I want to have about fashion.
On Thursday morning I got up at 5:05 am like I always do. I brushed my teeth, shaved, and showered. Sheryl doesn't have to get up as early as I do, so as I get dressed in our bedroom, I don't turn the lights on. Every day I put my shirt on first. I then select my pants based on the shirt. But yesterday, oh no, I didn't do that. I knew I should wear my gray pants based on the prior night's conversation. So I picked and put on my pants first. I then put on my shoes. I then grabbed and donned the shirt on the end. I left the house for work.
As I waited in line for the ferry, something didn't feel quite right. It turned out that I had forgotten to put on a belt. I guess the order of pants/shoes/shirt breaks my normal flow of shirt/pants/shoes/belt although I have no idea why. No big deal. My waistline is of sufficient girth to keep my pants up.
Once on the ferry, I got out my Autodesk badge that I knew I would need to enter the building. I normally clip it to my belt which of course I was not wearing. No big deal — I'll just clip it to my pants. As I did, I saw that I was wearing dark green pants instead of gray pants. I guess in my own Vladimir Putin-like not-yet-wearing-a-shirt excitement, I grabbed the wrong pants in the dark.
So there I was at an Autodesk event, centered on fashion, and I was clad in a mismatched outfit with no belt. I was a fashion rebel. Oh yeah.
Fashion is not alive in the lab.
A while back I posted a blog article that poked fun at two placards that were hanging in the entrance area of the 2nd floor of One Market.
I walked past those every day on my way to/from my desk. I was able to have fun with the verbiage since the word design can take many forms:
As part of the new Autodesk branding, our signs were recently replaced.
Now that our Autodesk Gallery is open on both Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, facilities places the signs outside our building to draw attention to the gallery.
I like the new verbiage. Sometimes design is no laughing matter.
Celebrating design is alive in the lab.
My wife and I live in a townhouse condominium that is part of a homeowner association (HOA). The HOA sewer system terminates at a point that is lower than the city sanitation system. As a result, our HOA has a dual pump system that carries the sewage upward to make the connection. When the system needs repair, it comes out of our monthly HOA dues. Lately, we've had lots of repairs. As it turns out, our pumps have gotten clogged because residents have been flushing inappropriate things down their toilets like mop heads or sponges. These costs could have been avoided. This waste is like flushing our monthly dues down the toilet.
I am always willing to do anything in the name of science. Having been a fan of the home version of The Late Show with David Letterman's running "Will it float?" gag, I thought I'd hold my own experiment: "Will it flush?"
I decided to test 4 types of materials (see below):
The first thing I did was fill 4 identical glasses with one and one-third cups of water (see below).
I then gathered samples of each material (see below):
I started at 10:15 am on Saturday.
I placed one material in each glass (see above).
At 11:00 am (45 minutes later) there was not much change. I could have posted several pictures like the one above from various points in the day. Instead, like cooking shows that have dishes prepared in advance, I will skip to the end — 4.5 hours later.
I saw only slight changes until about 2:45 pm (see above).
You can see that the Scott Bathroom Tissue is the most broken down (see above).
Next regarding disintegration was the Scott Naturals Cleaning Cloth (see above). They are indeed flushable. You can even see the cloudiness of the water from the lotion that distinguishes them from their dry counterparts. They don't break down as much as regular bathroom tissue, but they do break down. The package recommends that users flush no more than 1 or 2 cloths at a time.
On the other hand, the Kleenex had not changed at all (see below):
The Scott Paper Towel also had not changed at all (see below):
So the moral of the story is that toilet tissue and flushable cleaning cloths are indeed flushable. General purpose tissues (e.g., Kleenex) and paper towels are not. To shut down the experiment, I was able to empty the bathroom tissue and bathroom cloth glasses down the disposal. For the general purpose tissue and paper towel glasses, I was able to remove the materials, wad them up, and throw them in my green recycle container.
Flocculation is alive in the lab.
Educational TV show MythBusters co-host, Adam Savage, tells a tale of how, without the aid of any software, he manually crafted a complete Dodo bird skeleton by looking at thousands of web sites and photos.
Oh Adam, if only you had considered Autodesk ReCap Photo.
Many of you may recall photogrammetry technology when it was on Autodesk Labs as Project Photofly. ReCap Photo allows anyone to use the cloud to create 3D models from photographs via Autodesk 360. Since no one complete Dodo bird skeleton existed in one place, Adam could have used pictures from separate locations to create separate 3D models. He could then 3D print the individual parts that he could have then assembled together.
MythBusters is filmed on the old Alameda Naval Air Station which is walking distance from where I live. I guess I should have reached out to him. What a Dodo I am for not doing so.
Photogrammetry could have been alive in his lab.
Autodesk Labs is our home for free technology previews. When a technology preview ends, one of three things can happen:
The technology can graduate from Autodesk Labs. This means it is ready to take the next step. Often this could be entering a beta phase or being made available on Autodesk Subscription Center.
The technology preview can retire from Autodesk Labs. The technology is not necessarily dead, it's just that the next step has not been determined yet, so it's currently unavailable.
The technology can embark on another technology preview. If a team determines that they would like to get additional feedback, they can update the technology to extend the time-bomb that terminates its operation and/or incorporate some of the feedback they received during the original technology preview.
In discussing the Labs process with Software Development Manager, Rob Fjerstad, Rob remarked that technology previews are like trying to select the proper cheese. Upon reflection, I think he just might be right.
source: Hotel Club Travel Blog
|Limburger — Though most technology previews turn out well, some of them stink. For example, users were not so happy with the Visual Search technology preview we conducted a while back. This technology preview allowed users to draw a 2D shape, and the search engine would try to find objects that matched the drawn shape. I'll never forget one user who emailed us "I drew a chair and got screws."|
source: Wikipedia Commons
|Swiss — Some technology previews have holes. This is a known issue. After all, technology previews are just that -- previews. They are not fully baked. Though all tech previews work for the normal use cases, there certainly are edge cases where the technology will not be perform as expected.|
source: Hoegger Supply Company
|Mozzarella — Some technology previews are like toppings to complete a pizza recipe. These technology previews are often plug-ins for existing design applications like those brought to you by the ADN Plugin of the Month program. These plugins not only provide functionality but also include the source code so you can tailor them to your specific needs. See the catalog for 2012 and earlier applications. Newer versions (i.e., 2013 and 2014) have graduated to the App Center.|
source: Gourmet Food Store
|Parmigiano Reggiano — Some technology previews are "hard" as in associated with hardware. Not so long ago we did have a technology preview for using a Wiimote controller with Autodesk Design Review. We also created a technology preview of a Boomless Chameleon way before iPads were in vogue.|
|Brie — Some technology previews are soft as in software as a service. Many like Project Freewheel or Project Pinocchio require nothing to download or install.|
source: Food, Nutrition & Herbs!
|Bleu - Some technology previews are very popular and only get better with age. Technology previews like Inventor Fusion (now Fusion 360), Project Photofly (now 123D Catch), Project Dragonfly (now Homestyler), and Project Butterfly (now AutoCAD WS) were wildly popular.|
So if you have never tried one of our technology previews, come to the Autodesk Labs site and get started.
Unlike the varieties available in the Monty Python cheese shop, we have many active technology previews to choose from.
Humor is alive in the lab.
I'd like to have an argument. No you wouldn't. Yes I would. No you wouldn't. Yes I would.
The Autodesk Education Cage Match has launched! This six-week online debate takes the excitement of the live Cage Match events we held at AU and TED, and brings them to a global ring, where students (and non-students alike) can debate design themes in a fun and interactive manner. Unlike other social media campaigns that directly link to a product or activity, we're just looking to see people engage in lively debate.
The themes for the six weeks are:
Themes were selected after we conducted research on topics students were talking about online. Each topic was validated by our EDU industry leads, the consumer team, and the sustainability team. So we've put thought into coming up with the topics, so now it's your turn to share your thoughts with us. Although this was originally geared towards students, anyone (even 53 year-old bloggers like myself) are encouraged to participate.
Prizes? We don't need no stinkin' prizes! This is all about intellectual conquest and bragging rights! Facebook users can vote once per day. Be sure to cast your seven votes. Visit the Facebook page now.
Argument is alive in the lab.
The Point-Of-View (POV) Dispatch is our internal newsletter where the Corporate Strategy & Engagement team covers the big ideas that are important to Autodesk and its customers. It is issued monthly. This story went out today as part of our April issue.
Organizational Announcement: Welcome, Everybody, to CEO Staff
by Happi Peeples, SVP Human Resources
April 1, 2013
Agile. Lean. Streamlined. Responsive.
These days business moves at lightning speed, and in order to keep up, leading companies are taking radical measures to ensure that their organizations are simple and streamlined enough to respond to the complexity and controlled chaos of a hyper-networked global economy. Today, Autodesk becomes one of those companies... In a move of "extreme innovation," CEO Carl Bass will radically flatten our organization in an effort to increase communication, collaboration, and alignment among all of Autodesk's ~7,000 global employees.
To do this, effective immediately, he has transformed the previously Byzantine, hierarchical, and highly matrixed Autodesk organizational structure into a beautifully simple two-tiered system: Carl at the center, and everyone else directly reporting to him.* This change was sparked by comments indicating that our organization is seen by many employees as too complicated, and as changing too often; and this idea was reinforced by the release of Autodesk Research's psychedelic org visualizer," which showed that, in fact, the organization does, in fact, revolve around Carl. He decided to accept that fact, and reorganize accordingly.
[* Local laws and customs in some countries might not allow full, immediate implementation of this plan.]
Carl's A People Person — So He's Giving Himself More People
"I'm making this change to increase my own personal contact with each and every person in the company. As everyone knows, I'm a real 'people person,' so first of all this is a very natural move for me," says Bass. "With everyone in the company on my own staff, I will be freer to directly inflict my own personal brand of justice...uh, I mean management...on any situation, and on every employee."
Some key points about this bold organizational realignment:
Team Meetings = Company All-Hands
Now every team meeting will essentially be a company all-hands meeting — namely, a five-day affair that will be held in a former Air Force hangar in Northern California.
Span of Control
Orthodox management thinking is that the optimal "span of control" for a manager is about 7 people. Carl recognized, however, that at Autodesk we are better than that, and that he could increase our performance 1,000-fold by instantiating a span of control of 7,000.
One Manager, One Leadership Philosophy
Since Carl will be the only manager left in the company, there will no longer be variations in managerial effectiveness. As Carl recently said: "You know...people say I have a 'carrot and stick' management style — but the truth is that the stick works better, because I find I can't really hit people as hard with the carrot."
Performance Reviews Will Be a Breeze
With Carl himself directly reviewing everyone in the company, performance will be consistently measured, and more work extracted out of each employee in a uniform way.
Career Advancement: Solved!
We consistently hear that there are not enough opportunities for advancement at Autodesk, but this bold move solves that problem: as of today, everyone is a senior leader, reporting directly to the CEO. Congratulations on the promotion!
One Giant Headquarters — In Berkeley!
Construction has begun on a massive 3D-printed structure up in the hills of Berkeley that will eventually serve as our global headquarters, and house everyone in the company. This "open-plan" workspace will enable state-of-the-art communication and collaboration — meaning that Carl will be able to just yell out someone's name when he wants to talk to them. No more need for all that annoying email when everyone's within "hailing distance." And following in the footsteps of highly innovative companies like Yahoo and Best Buy, working from home will no longer be an option.
One. Big. Budget.
No more fighting over budget dollars. No more horse trading for resources among middle management. No more head fakes in which Carl approves something and then says it has to come out of your budget. With this new organizational structure, Carl will just decide what to spend, and it will all come out of one big budget: the CEO Discretionary Budget. This will eliminate tiresome budget discussions, not to mention the entire Financial Planning and Analysis department.
Organizational Roll Out
Autodesk HR will begin the rollout of this radically innovative plan in the very near future. The rollout will include:
HR will conduct 5 mandatory training webcasts on the rationale and implementation of this bold, thought-leadery organizational innovation;
We will be beefing up Carl's Workday and Kronos accounts, since he will be the only manager, and therefore nobody else really needs them;
All leadership training programs will be disbanded. We now have only one "Dear Leader," and he is already trained;
Last, but not least, we will be distributing some very attractive "origami starburst" org charts on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and screen savers to every employee, so that everyone knows exactly where they stand in the organization.
Please contact Nancy Wright to set up your weekly 1:1 meeting with Carl. And if you have any questions, please contact your HR business partner, or your new manager — that would be Carl!
[Legal disclosure: for the sake of Autodesk Legalr's blood pressure, the POV editorial staff discloses that almost everything in the above article is fabricated — Happy April Fools' Day, everyone! Note — April Fools is an informal holiday celebrated in many places in the world by people playing pranks and jokes on each other. Consider this organizational announcement as your April Fools prank from the POV editorial staff :-).]
Foolishness is alive in the lab.
You'll be able to imitate your iconic hoops hero in this adidas® On-Court long-sleeve shooting shirt. Featuring contrast-colored details and breathable mesh insert panels, this sporty shirt's NBA team graphics will have you showing your spirit. The embossed pattern and adidas® 3-S...
Sizing: Feels true to size
Pros: Warm Enough For Bay Area, Quality Construction, Stylish, Shows Off Team Pride, Authentic Look
Best Uses: Watching The Game on TV, At The Game, Around Town, Anytime
Describe Yourself: Sports Enthusiast
Charles Barkley once said that any man over 30 should not wear a team jersey unless he is on the team. A shooting shirt is a way a grown man can show team support without Charles making fun of him.
Despite the Mayan calendar, I predict we will make it through the end of the day. Many song lyrics come to mind:
"It's the end of the world as we know it..."
"When the flood calls
You have no home, you have no walls in the thunder crash
You're a thousand minds, within a flash
Don't be afraid to cry at what you see
The actors gone, there's only you and me
And if we break before the dawn,
They'll use up what we used to be
Lord, here comes the flood
We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood"
"In a hundred million years, when the planet disappears
You and I will stay and watch the world fade away
And in a million trillion years, when the stars all disappear
You and I will stay and watch it all fade away"
Where you are, I'll never know
But I'm still here
If you were right, and I was wrong
Why are you the one that's gone
I'm still here
But if it were the last day on earth, it's nice that it would be on a Friday, so we could finish the work week.
Optimism is alive in the lab.
In all of my life I have only fallen asleep on a flight one time. Normally I work on my laptop. On Southwest Airlines flights that have wireless service, I use it browse the web and process email. On a recent Southwest Airlines flight, the flight attendant announced that passengers could use the wireless service to track where the plane was along our travel route. So I did:
As we passed over the Grand Canyon, I snapped a photo with my iPhone.
In looking at the list of available capabilities for Southwest Airlines wireless service, I see that I can watch TV or watch the NFL RedZone instead of using the service to browse the web and process email. Perhaps my flights just got less productive?
Travel entertainment is alive in the lab.
On Monday and Tuesday there was an electric vehicle expo at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco - right next to our One Market office. I stopped by at lunch on Tuesday.
It was funny to see that these vehicles had stickers with estimated electricity costs for the year. Some of the modest cars had values like $600 whereas the sports cars had numbers like $1,900. So even in a world devoid of gas guzzlers like the muscle cars of the 1970's, there is still a dichotomy of energy use on types of electric cars. Who would have thunk it? The prices of the cars themselves ranged from $32,500 to $112,500 with the estimated cost of operation being proportional.
Electricity is alive in the lab.
I saw this on Facebook moments ago:
Today one of my colleagues gave me this:
What does it say?
Curiosity is alive in the lab.
I take the Oakland-Alameda Ferry to work and walk across the street from the Ferry Building to our office at One Market. As I approached our office door on the second floor I saw:
On closer inspection it reads:
So I went to our other door:
I guess someone is telling me to get back on the ferry.
Humor is alive in the morning.
My garage door was broken and inoperable.
For the past few days my wife and I have parked our cars a few houses down in publicly designated spots in our homeowners association. Today I worked from home so Madden Garage Doors could repair our door.
Now it's as good as new. We can now put our cars in the garage, and all is right with the world.
Having to work from home to greet the repairman made me long for a 3D printer. Many of these devices print using ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic. Like just a normal printer puts the ink on the paper to form the correct letters, 3D printers print by laying down a very thin layer of goop, and an ultraviolet light immediately passes over the material and cures it. The process is repeated over an over until the desired item has been built up one layer at a time. Unlike a lathe which strips material away from a block to reveal the desired shape trapped inside, this type of 3D printing is an additive process. Although 3D printers typically use ABS plastic, there are some that can print using titanium, aluminum, or cement. The alternative-material devices use lasers to cure metallic powder into solid metal.
There's a famous song "If I had a hammer..." Well if I had a 3D printer that printed titanium, I could have printed my replacement part and spent a normal day at the office.
Homework is alive in the lab.
On Friday I had the following blog post:
In case I get arrested in a foreign country, in that post I had original English for:
With the exception of Portuguese that I got from Milton Cesar Rocha, I used Google Translate to get the foreign language text of my three English sentences. That same day when Bart Blankendaal asked if I had gotten any humorous responses from the Netherlands, I once again used Google Translate to convert the foreign language text back into English. Here is what I got:
Dutch converted back to English:
French converted back to English:
Italian converted back to English:
German converted back to English:
Portuguese converted back to English:
Spanish converted back to English:
Monty Python's Flying Circus had a very funny skit about a tourist who attempts to buy tobacco but his Hungarian-English dictionary has the words all wrong. He winds up saying things like "My hovercraft is full of eels." I would say that "I would like a lawyer please." is different enough from "I would like a lawyer to please." that I can declare that my hovercraft is indeed full of eels.
Humor is once again alive in the lab.
My blog post last month about the Project Artoo Read Me document being localized into additional languages reminded me of this. Unfortunately, like many Americans, I am only fluent in English. Oh sure I studied Spanish in high school, but that was long ago. Now all I can remember how to say is Pablo esta in la bibliotheca. That sure will come in handy if I ever get arrested in Mexico or Spain. So here are three phrases that all Americans should learn how to say in every language.
Thanks to Milton Cesar Rocha for the Portuguese and Google Translate for the other translations. Hopefully my hovercraft is not full of eels.
Humor is alive in the lab.
Sketchbook Ink is available in the Apple App store for the iPad. Whereas SketchBook Pro creates bitmaps, SketchBook Ink creates resolution-independent bitmaps. Think of MacPaint versus MacDraw. I drew this up in under a minute.
I call it Sheryl in Wind. I know what you're thinking - "My gosh Scott - how do you do it?" I admit the resemblance to my wife is uncanny. That's kind of the point. This app is fun. You don't have to be any good at it to enjoy it. If you want to see some examples from people who do know what they are doing.
Unskilled drawing is alive in the lab.
I am 53 years old today. It's a Friday. I'll tell a story instead of blog about Autodesk Labs.
Curtis Baldwin was our next door neighbor when we lived in Scottsdale. When we got a wireless router, I set the service-set identifier (SSID) that it broadcasts to "Hey Curtis." This is the name that anyone within range sees when he/she looks for available wireless networks. Curtis didn't have a laptop yet, but I figured that whenever he did get one, the first time he went to connect, he would see my SSID, "Hey Curtis," and laugh.
When we moved to California we brought our wireless router with us. Though Curtis was no longer our neighbor, I left the SSID as "Hey Curtis" since our laptops were already set up and working, so why change anything? In our new condo I did notice another SSID called "close to the water," so I was tempted to change ours to "closer to the water," but I resisted the temptation.
Recently we got a new wireless router. Denise and Cheryl are our next door neighbors. Since I never really got to cash in on the Curtis Baldwin fun, I decided to repeat the process. I set the SSID for the new router to "Hey Denise and Cheryl." As it turns out, Denise and Cheryl happened to be out of town when I made the switch. As luck would have it, when Denise and Cheryl got back in town, they went to connect their laptops to their own wireless network. Their SSID is "close to the water," but it was not working that day. When they went to connect, they only saw "Hey Denise and Cheryl." They immediately assumed someone had hacked their network and had changed their SSID. They were in a panic. They rebooted their router and "close to the water" showed up once again, but they still saw "Hey Denise and Cheryl" and thought someone was watching them on another network. They noticed "Hey Curtis" was gone but did not associate that with their jocular neighbor. Sometimes actions do have unintended consequences. I am so sorry for scaring my neighbors. Apparently Denise and Cheryl are not the first to be alarmed by a suddenly-appearing SSID:
Antics are alive in the lab.
Right on, that bus done got me back.
Right on, that bus done got me back.
Well, I'll be ridin' on the bus 'til I Cadillac.
-- "Waitin' On The Bus," ZZ Top.
Technology Evangelist, Brian Pene, happened to snap this at lunch yesterday.
As the bus says, you can learn more about Autodesk training and certification at:
Advertising is alive in the lab.
Saturday Night Live was hosted by Eli Manning this past weekend. IMHO it was not as good as the one hosted by his older brother, Peyton Manning. The show did start off with a parody of Fox & Friends where Gretchen Carlson said:
"...Well, you can do a lot with Photoshop... I once saw a picture of a mountain with four presidents' faces on it. That's not real."
You can see it for yourself at:
Not only is it real, but VP of Reality Capture, Brian Mathews, made a 3D model of it using 123D Catch.
Check out 123D Catch for yourself at:
Well, you can do a lot with 123D Catch. To borrow a line from a Seinfeld episode, it's real, and it's spectacular.
Chuckling is alive in the lab.
On August 28, 2009, as an allusion to an old Saturday Night Live skit where Steve Martin repeatedly asked "What is that? What the heck is that? What is that thing?" I created a blog posting entitled:
The original blog post contained these same two pictures (above and below).
Today is Friday the 13th. How lucky that I now have an answer! Recently my wife and I had dinner at the home of the next door neighbor where that thing was located. As part of post-meal conversation, I pulled out my iPhone and pulled up the original blog article. Our neighbor took one look at the pictures and was kind enough to share the answer. The device was an air quality measuring device that was temporarily placed there to collect samples. Mystery solved.
The answer is alive in the lab.
I know today is Sunday, but Shaan Hurley and I have a busy week ahead, and we worried he would not have time to get to this post. So he decided to bang this out today while he had time.
I know many of you are anxious to try AutoCAD 2013. You want to see what new features like: command line enhancements, hatch editor, array elements, in-canvas property preview, and point cloud support are like for yourselves. Anxious as you are, you can hardly wait for your DVD to arrive in the mail.
Perhaps you have limited bandwidth and cannot download the installable image?
Well have we got a deal for you - 3D printing to the rescue. To test the accuracy of this delivery process, Shaan used his MakerBot to print his own copy of a Product Design Suite 2013 DVD. He then installed from the 3D-printed DVD on a virgin Windows 8 machine with success! Since the STL file is smaller than the download from the Autodesk site, Shaan is sharing it with you. For those of you with access to 3D printers, you can download the STL file and print your own DVD.
Please share your success or failures on this experimental delivery process with firstname.lastname@example.org. Apart from the fun of working with Autodesk 360 web services, these good old desktop versions of our applications in the suite, such as AutoCAD 2013, have some nice features that we find to be very useful.
Experimental software delivery is alive in the lab.
The 3D photo booth at AU was designed for transport. It consists of 7 travel cases containing the cameras and wiring.
The cases are arranged in a semi-circle with an entrance to step in. There is a red chair in the middle. While testing the booth at the AU exhibit hall, User Experience Architect, Mason Foster, was sitting in the chair while Senior Development Manager, Luc Robert, observed from the entrance. Here is one of the 36 images.
Funny. Peek-a-boo. I see you. If you would like to make your own 3D models using pictures:
Humor is alive in the lab.
This year we had two April Fool's Day pranks. For those not familiar with this custom, on April 1, many people play tricks on each other. Last year we announced Autodesk Love Maker 2011. This year, in keeping with our real theme of moving to suites, we announced:
Just like with Love Maker, the feedback to this one was all positive. Here's a sample:
"Great job! It is nice to know that Autodesk has a sense of humor…"
"You guys have Way Too much time on Your hands – Are you hiring? I really could use the Gray Hair Restorer feature; perhaps you should have considered Hair Restorer for some of us follicle challenged folks. Thanks for the laughs!"
"Can Procreation Design Suite 2012 provide tools that do more than Gray Hair Restoration? Is there anything in the package that can transform my children's passion for gaming into a passion for design?"
"Love this… Thank you. Laughter is almost better than coffee…"
"I give the Procreation Design Suite 5 stars… I could have used this years ago!"
Our second prank was more subtle:
This one really fooled some people. We had over 100 users with over 1.39GB of uploaded files. Here's some of what we heard back:
"All I can say is WOW!!!! I compressed a 15mb PDF into 1.4mb. This particular project has been a pain because the PDFs we share with clients have usually been above the 10mb email attachment limit. This forced us to either split it up into smaller files or put it on an FTP site. Zipping the PDF never resulted in anything special. I might lose a mb. This new technology has blown my mind."
"One of the coolest non-CAD applications you guys have come up with! 25MB 'pack and go' Inventor folder reduced to 2MB! I would use this every day if I knew it was going to be around for good!"
"The first file I tried took 5 minutes,. The other file type I tested was an installer for vlc media player, which compressed to around 10% of the original size, but took around an hour to compress. Thank you for the impressive tools you keep coming up with, keep up the good work."
"I can imagine massive compression being useful to Buzzsaw for file downloads. As long as the decompression is not too burdensome on the client CPU, I could imagine downloading files from Buzzsaw heavily compressed, to speed up the transfer."
So far, only one user was outraged:
"Autodesk forgot the part "international" in your company definition. That April Fool's day is a USA tradition, but not in other countries (like mine). When I login into the "official" labs blog for Autodesk, I don't expect a 'prank' or a 'joke.' Be serious with this and don't repeat that error assuming the entire world understands your (USA) habits."
All Project ZP basically does for compression is upload the original file to the web and store a pointer to the original file in the ZP file. For decompression, it retrieves the original file using the link in the ZP file. Thanks to software engineers, Stephane Negri and Eddy Kuo, who spent an afternoon setting this up.
Letting everyone in on the joke is alive in the lab.
Now that my previous blog posting has gotten the obligatory April Foolery out of the way, I am happy to announce a new technology preview on Autodesk Labs.
Our thinking was simple: Can we make data smaller by adding compute cycles to the compression process? We could, but if we did this on a typical laptop, it would take forever. So why not turn to the cloud? We had our Project Twitch servers already in place, so why not use them as a massive compression/uncompression farm? So give it a try and let us know what you think. There are a set of easy steps to follow on:
Working with data in addition to applications is alive in the lab.
Last year on April 1, we launched Autodesk Love Maker 2011. Due to its widespread popularity, we are happy to announce a set of expanded capabilities known as:
Please give this a try and let us know what you think at email@example.com. Your experience shapes the future of our technology. Your parenting skills shape the future of our next generation.
Scientific parenting is alive in the lab.
By now you've probably read our April Fool's press release:
The idea was the brain child of: Senior Manager, Executive Communications, Bill O'Connor, Autodesk Labs VP, Brian Mathews, Adviser to the CTO, Jonathan Knowles, and VP of Market Development, Jon Pittman. I came on board on April Fool's Day to post the press release and create faux Autodesk Labs pages that the press release could reference.
The "Download Now" link and "satisfied customer // more" on the Getting Started page point to interesting YouTube videos.
Some of the responses we have received so far:
"I love your April fool’s day press release! You had some people in our office wondering if this was for real. Very creative and fun! Great writing job." -- Sarita
"Fabulous!!! I didn't know that you guys had a sense of humor. I take back all of those things I said about you. -- Lynn
"So glad you guys did this!... Really good fun... I think we need a lot more of this kind of stuff..." -- Michele
"This is a really cool platform technology. Will you be licensing it to match.com, etc.? Looks like you missed the Valentine's Day FCS date, though." -- Anh
"Is the subscription evergreen or is there a need for renewal every year? ;-)" -- Swen
"This is absolutely hilarious. Where on earth did you find that ultimate geek singing that gawd awful ohohohohohohohohoh?" -- Caitlin
"Merci, thank you, grazie for making me smile, chuckle & laugh OUT LOUD. Trololololololololololo!" -- Elise
"You should create a box, Autodesk Gallery exhibit, and include customer stories but might want to refrain from live demonstrations. :-)" -- Richard
One of my Facebook friends did poke fun at us:
"I've heard people saying, 'I'll be f---ed if I use Autodesk software.' Now, thanks to this development, it's true!"
One Autodesk employee did note:
"Sometimes Autodesk can get a little stodgy; thank you for providing a very welcome blast of creative humor!"
Of course my response was:
"I am not sure you are allowed to call us stodgy? Have you checked with Legal?"
Thanks to everyone involved in this. Those who created the press release and the reading public who took this in the spirit in which it was intended.
Chuckling still remains alive in the lab.
Some say that love's a game, a random circumstance
I'm not the type to leave that kind of thing to chance
You might sit back and wait, but I'm taking off the gloves
I'm gonna crack this case like a scientist of love
"Love Science," 2nd Wind, Todd Rundgren, 1990.
We have a new technology preview available on Autodesk Labs.
Extending our technological expertise to other areas is alive in the lab.
Since today is a Friday, I typically shy away from technical blog posts, So here is something intended to be humorous. I was searching for a relative I have not been in contact so I typed in her name on Facebook. I found a few people with the same name but not her. I was amused at how many people had the same name. So I decided to try my own name. Here's what I found on the other Scott Sheppards:
National Scott Sheppard Day is November 8
This is a tribute to a sophomore at Eisenhower High School from years gone by. Apparently current students dress like this Scott Sheppard on this day every year. Attire includes khaki pants. By pure coincidence my wife, Sheryl, and I celebrate this day as our first date was on 11/08/1975.
The Scott Sheppard Appreciation Society
Here's a guy who makes unhappy people feel better. He has a fan club of 50 members.
Dr. Scott Sheppard
In the 80's when I was working on my masters thesis in computer science, I would run across these publications by an astronomer named Scott Sheppard. He has made some great discoveries. Oh to be an astronomer.
The night is clear.
When the stars appear,
I recite their names.
The farthest lights
Only now arrive
Wonder how they've changed
Freedy Johnston, "Farthest Lights," Blue Days Black Nights.
So then I tried Autodesk Labs Software Architect Ben Cochran. Here's what I found on other Ben Cochrans:
Elect Ben Cochran mayor of Worthington
This group has 104 members that would like to see this Ben Cochran become mayor of a city in Ohio.
I like the IDEA of ben cochran
This is a very exclusive group of 11 members who "were there that faithful night when I say things without thinking, and ben cochran finds them funny."
Ben Cochran and Abby Kitchener are the Best Parents Ever!
"This is for all the cool kids of family 11 who think that Ben and Abby are the best parents!" Though this is a different Ben Cochran, this one might actually apply to our own Ben.
You should try this with your own name. You might be surprised.
Keeping the topic light on a Friday is alive in the lab.
This post was inspired by Shaan Hurley who emailed me when he heard a song on the radio entitled "Dragonfly" by Shaman's Harvest. What if Autodesk Labs technologies had theme songs?
|2D to 3D||"3-D" by Cheap Trick|
|ShareNow||"Share My World" by Mary J. Blige|
|CATIA Import||"Catia" by Gianni Almani|
|DWG Export||"Export" by Hass|
|Feature Recognition||"Pattern Recognition" by Sonic Youth|
|Firefox Add-on||"Fire Fox" by Tristy Nesh|
|Google Earth Extension||"Earth Song" by Michael Jackson|
|iCopy||"Copy" by The Broken Beats|
|Fusion||"Freeway Jam (fusion)" by Jeff Beck|
|JT Translator||"J.T." by David Sanborn|
|Navigation Tool||"Navigation" by Patrick Nagel|
|Plugin of Month||"Plug-in" by Doksigen|
|Project Dragonfly||"Dragonfly" by Shaman's Harvest|
|Project Draw||"Draw" by Count Basie|
|Project Freewheel||"Free Ride" by The Edgar Winter Group|
|Project Newport||"Newport Waltz" by Dave Brubeck|
|Project Showroom||"Karn Evil 9: First Impression" by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer|
|RDB Link||"Mumbo Link" by Paul McCartney and Wings|
|Rhino Import||"Rhino" by Big Green Rabbit|
|Shrinkwrap||"Shrink the World" by Yellowcard|
|Solar Radiation||"Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles|
|STL Export||"Export" by 4 Promille|
|Sustainable Materials||"Where the Green Grass Grows" by Tim McGraw|
|Multitouch||"I Have The Touch" by Peter Gabriel|
|Graduates||"Graduate" by Third Eye Blind|
Have I missed any? Do you have any suggestions for something better? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having a little bit of fun on a Friday is alive in the lab.
In a blog posting from way back, I talked about When Images Go Bad.These errant images are the results of when our rendering server encounters a problem and the pixels go awry. The other day one of our lead developers, Seema Jaisinghani, was testing on her development machine and saw this:
This was not a case of the rendering process trashing the pixels. This was a case of the appliances getting dropped from the scene. George Peppard used to star in a show called Banacek where he was an insurance investigator who would figure out how valuable items disappeared. Perhaps we should get him on the case? Nahhh. Seema has already figured this one out. That's why we test this stuff before we go live on Labs.
Sharing a bit of humor is alive in the lab.
On Tuesday I wrote about Project Showroom = Temporary Sanity. Although the ONION article is faux news story whose sole point is humor, I do have my own Lowe's paint story.
We had a smudge on our ceiling. Though people rarely look above their heads, our house is on the market, so everything has to be perfect. Since the smudge was in the living room, and the living room connects to the dining room and entry way, it would be a big job to repaint the entire ceiling. In addition, the vaulted ceiling is 20 feet high at its apex, and I don't have a ladder that tall. So the clear directive is to get paint that is an exact match and perform touch up.
LOWE'S TRIP 1: My wife, Sheryl, went to Lowe's and collected samples. Although our ceiling is white, there are many shades of white. She brought home 10 of those sample cards. I got up on a ladder and held each card up to the ceiling. From below Sheryl would give the thumbs up or thumbs down regarding whether each sample was a close match or not. The color variations were very small, so it was tough to decide. Eventually I used scotch tape to affix each sample to the ceiling, got off the ladder, and we both evaluated them from below. We made our choice.
LOWE'S TRIP 2: I went to Lowe's, selected a flat white interior paint, and brought it to the paint center with my sample card. The paint department employee mixed my sample according to the card's specification. I brought it home, painted the smudge, and let it dry. It was too white, The repainted section stuck out like a sore thumb. It was worse than the smudge.
LOWE'S TRIP 3: We know Lowe's can match paint. We considered removing a small piece of the ceiling and bringing it to the store; however, with the house on the market, we hated to do that since repairing would involve texturing that would also have to be a good match. We thought the color swatch method was the way to go. So far we were 0 for 1. Then Sheryl had the bright idea that the A/C vent was the same color as the ceiling itself.
I removed the vent and brought it to Lowe's. I grabbed another white flat interior paint can and brought that to the paint center with my vent. That same paint department employee asked "Did that other paint not work out?" I told him the bad news. He scanned the vent to determine the mixture values. He started to mix the paint, but just before doing so - stopped, and said aloud "Why does this have any blue?" He went back and rescanned the vent and got settings that made more sense to him. It turned out that the original scan picked up part of the vent opening which was black due to its shadow. He mixed my paint using the second reading. He even painted tiny section of my vent and dried it with a hair dryer. We both could not tell where he had done so. It was a perfect match. I brought the second can home and painted the wall. It was an exact match, and we all lived happily ever after. Had the Lowe's paint department employee used the original scan readings, I would have made TRIP 4.
Since Project Showroom is based on real world appliances, fixtures, floorings, cabinets, counters, and wall paint, it will be great to see these combinations using model numbers that you can specify at the store. You can furnish your entire home, make purchasing decisions, and pick everything up in one trip.
Do you have your own paint stories? Let us know at email@example.com.
Personally feeling the pain that Project Showroom will resolve is alive in the lab.
During this past presidential election, Shepard Fairey created a now famous poster of Barak Obama. You can see it:
Now that this poster is all the rage, you can create your own at:
This is a software as a service offering in that all you need is a web browser. You can upload pictures of yourself:
Have fun with this on a Friday.