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Inside General CADD Pro is the new e-book by Ralph Grabowski in PDF format. This 300-page tutorial and reference book is available by email, ftp, or on CD.
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AEC Systems is Sold, Again
There was one trade show we made sure to attend each year. Myself, I went to the A/E/C Systems June event 14 times in 16 years, plus a couple of the fall events. Like other trade shows, unfortunately, it fell victim to the Internet. Attendance drooped from the all-time high of over 25,000 (1989 in Anaheim) to less than 5,000 last year (also Anaheim).
A couple of years ago, the original owners sold it to Penton Media, a company that produces 140 other trade shows. VP Jeff Forker said last October, "We are eager to bring A/E/C Systems back to Washington DC in 2003. It is one of the most active areas in the country for new construction and renovation. In addition, we had one of our most successful A/E/C System events in our 23-year history at this venue."
The eagerness did not last. Penton last month sold the spring and fall AEC Systems show to Dallas-based Hanley-Wood <http://www.hanley-wood.com >, a media company that covers the residential construction industry with shows (like World of Concrete) and magazines (such as 'Big Builder').
Ceo Michael Wood recognizes that AEC Systems had a great past ("...these shows grew to be the premier technology events for architects, engineers, and contractors...") but have not been doing well: "During the last several years, [they] have been negatively impacted by the technology slowdown and industry consolidation. Declining attendance and improved education are two areas that will receive immediate attention by Hanley-Wood." [Curious that the impact of the Internet is not mentioned.]
Hanley-Wood announced vague changes for this year's show:
This implies the show: (1) will change its focus; and (2) might not take place in Washington DC.
For next year, the plans are:
New person in charge is Galen Poss. Purchase price was not revealed. In its 3Q, Penton reported revenues of US$48.6 million (down from $61.5 million a year earlier), and a net loss of US$282.9 million.
Bentley Keeps On Acquiring
When Bentley Systems announced last year its intention to sell shares to the public, it said one major reason was to have the money to acquire other companies. Later in the year, it dropped the plan to go public; the lack of extra cash did not stop it from acquiring companies anyhow. [Curious, eh?]
Last year, it bought Rebis; last month, it bought Cadac; and yesterday it bought Infrasoft <http://www.infrasoft-civil.com/ >. Infrasoft has software for civil engineering design and infrastructure management for MicroStation and AutoCAD. The purchase price was not announced, but Infrasoft ceo Rick Fiery hinted it involved Bentley shares.
The purchase will help Bentley compete against civil engineering software from Intergraph, Autodesk, and others. Bentley says that Infrasoft's technology will "expand its initiative to support users of the DWG file format." Bentley will continue to support AutoCAD users of MX software, but no doubt hopes they will migrate to MicroStation eventually. Infrasoft is currently an Autodesk Partner.
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In unrelated news, Bentley is starting a 70-city world tour in February, featuring new material from "the forthcoming releases of MicroStation" and other products. [Could this be MicroStation v8.1? I thought it was supposed to ship last fall, but I can't find any recent info about it at the Bentley Web site.] http://www.v8worldtour.com
PTC Restates Earnings, Cuts Back on RAND
Un-Happy New Years for Parametric Technology, which announced 2 January that it needed more time to "complete its analysis of the maintenance revenues from its service contracts."
The company says that "a more sophisticated automated accounting system" discovered "US$20 to $25 million of previously recognized maintenance revenue, which should have been deferred and recognized in fiscal 2003 and later."
The share price fell 25% on the news, and now trades around $2.15, well down from $8 a year ago. Instead of breaking even, the company now expects a loss for 1Q03.
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In unrelated news, PTC continues to reduce its reliance on RAND International. PTC last month shortened the expiry date on its distribution agreement with RAND, from October 1, 2005 to December 31, 2003. In addition, the discount Rand gets is reduced to match that of other PTC dealers. Explains PTC, “By restructuring our distribution arrangements with RAND, we are better positioned to focus PTC’s global VAR network on selling PTC-related products and services to current and future PTC customers and to enhance the overall effectiveness of our distribution capabilities.” [Translation: we make more; RAND makes less.]
Brian Semkiw, ceo of RAND Worldwide, said, "It is very important that everyone fully understands our position with respect to the Pro/ENGINEER technology: this agreement changes absolutely nothing about either our dedication or our ability to continue to do what we do best, which is to maximize the productivity of companies using Pro/E."
Matrox was keen that I test: (1) its AutoCAD driver; (2) the bundled AEC-VIZ utility; and (3) its triple display capability. I ran into a problem even before installation: Perihelia has drivers for Windows 2000, XP, and Linux only; that meant my son had to first upgrade his computer (I wasn't going to contaminate mine!) from Windows 98SE to Win2K. Matrox had recommended I download the latest drivers, rather than use the CD. That failed until I also downloaded 20MB worth of .Net stuff from Microsoft's Web site. Despite being the "latest" drivers, I found a couple bugs in the install, which Matrox says they're now fixing.
AutoCAD Driver: Yup, it has a display driver for AutoCAD, but I couldn't tell that it made a difference. No driver-specific options to tweak, either. It does, however, link to AEC|VIZ...
AEC|VIZ: A separate app that displays DXF, DGN, and 3DS (but not DWG) 3D drawings in a VRML-like environment. A link with AutoCAD let me send a drawing (such as opera.dwg) direct to AEC/VIZ, and after a moment I could zoom, pan, tilt, and fly around.
Comments from Stefan: "It's kinda cool. Zoom is a bit temperamental. Nice, it has an undo [of the last view change]. It would be good if it had a lock to prevent going 'underneath' the model [keep z=>0]."
The point to AEC|VIZ is using it with multiple monitors. The idea is that you run AutoCAD on one (or two) monitors, and AEC|VIZ on the other. AEC|VIZ shows the 3D rendered (and clipped, if necessary) model; you manipulate the view in AEC|VIZ, and then click a button to send that view to AutoCAD. AEC|VIZ, in effect, controls the viewpoint, zoom, etc, in AutoCAD. Matrox says AEC|VIZ is faster than AutoCAD's 3dOrbit command for large assemblies. In addition, AEC|VIZ records walk-throughs and redlines, which can be packaged with a viewer, and sent by email.
Triple Display: This part I wasn't looking forward to, since it involved unhooking the the LCD monitor from my wife's computer. In the interest of advancing human civilization, however...
The Perihelia has two connectors to handle 2 digital displays, or three analog displays, and/or two video outputs (RCA and S-video), and combinations thereof. There's one correct way to connect two monitors to three possible connectors -- and five wrong ways. I finally got it right after breaking down to read the manual. The Perihelia driver works with multiple monitors in three ways:
Users have come up with alternate uses for the three monitors. One, for example, displays three different floors on the three monitors, allowing him to design services (electrical, plumbing, etc) between floors. Another displays the assembly drawing on one screen, and works with part drawings on the other screens.
Below the Radar
A summary of CAD industry news you may not have read elsewhere, or that I found interesting:
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Intergraph is suing Dell, HP, and Gateway for infringement on three cache memory management patents. Intergraph said it had warned the companies back in 1997. The company is taking action now after winning a similar suit against Intel. "The settlement with Intel did not include licenses for Intel's customers -- the original equipment manufacturers that incorporated an Intel processor with non-Intel products in their computers," says Intergraph.
'CATIA Digital Digest' asked, "From which CAD system do you typically receive data -- other than CATIA?" The response from readers:
[I find the low numbers for SolidWorks and Inventor fascinating.
Do this mean that those users are isolationists, or that they don't
do much business with CATIA users who respond to surveys?]
Autodesk began shipping Revit 5 in December. Price was not announced.
VX Corp released VX v7, its CAD/CAM software. Price was not announced, other than being "value-priced." http://www.vx.com
ARCHIBUS released FM Web Central for accessing facilities and infrastructure data over the Internet. The company says is has over 100,000 users. http://www.archibus.com
Cimmetry Systems is shipping AutoVue 17 with real-time collaboration, extended EDA visualization, and updated format support. http://www.cimmetry.com/FileFormats17
People/Companies on the Move
Rowse Company is merging with Professional Software Solutions under the name of Professional Software Solutions (ProSoft). Reason for the merger: "We feel that we can provide even greater benefit to our mutual and prospective clients than by continuing to prosper on parallel paths."
CGarchitect.com stopped Web sales after its online merchant account provider charged back over $7,000 due to the fraudulent use of a credit card at the online store.
Nemetschek reduced the size of its managing board and supervisory board to help cope with the "changed general economic conditions."
"There were little inaccuracies the graphics card review:
- Liv Stewart,
Public Relations Specialist
Computer News Summaries
The Palm Legend 168 PDA being sold in China has a 240x320 display, MP3 player, SD/MMC slot, 33MHz DragonBall CPU with 16MB RAM, jog dial, virtual Graffiti, runs PalmOS v4.1, and is priced at only US$240. - pdaGeek
MicronPC is changing its name to MPC this year.
Research by George Zieman gives the this reason for falling CD sales: Major labels cut production 25% over the last two years. (The industry released 27,000 titles in 2001, down from 38,900 in 1999.) While sales fell 10%, revenue fell just 4%, yet revenue per release increased by 34% over the two years. - http://www.azoz.com/music/features/0008.html
New software, same story. "The Microsoft Business
Solutions division of Microsoft Corp is remaining circumspect about
the new release date for its CRM software, following its last-minute
announcement on Wednesday that it would not make its end of year
delivery deadline." - ComputerWire
IBM is finally killing OS/2, that operating system released in 1987 that was going to be "a better Windows than Windows." Because OS/2 code is partly owned by Microsoft, IBM cannot release OS/2 as open source. [At one point, IBM was giving away OS/2 v2 free, which is why I have a never-used copy on my shelf.]
"Prices of printer cartridges look set to drop thanks to a new EU law that will ban printer firms from forcing consumers to buy their own-brand refills." The ruling directs printer manufacturers to leave out chips from their ink cartridges that prevent use of cartridges produced by other manufacturers. - The Register
Hitachi is upping the capacity of IBM's MicroDrive to 4GB, and plans to target consumers.
Following its merger with PlanetCAD, Avatech Solutions is showing a loss of US$5.6 million on revenues of $1.5 million over the last four quarters. http://biz.yahoo.com/fin/l/p/pcd.html
LightWork Design spun-off its MachineWorks Division as an independent company, MachineWorks Ltd. focused on CNC simulation and verification software.
Microsoft in mid-December completed its US$96 million acquisition of Vicinity, better known for its Mapblast.com online mapping service. - CNET
Securities regulators are investigating the timing of an ATI Technologies profit warning in May, 2000, and stock trades by officers and directors preceding the announcement, which sparked a plunge in the company's share price. - Globe & Mail
The upFront.eZine stock index is at www.cadwire.net/to?upfrontezine/stocks
The WorthWhile Web
Brand New CAD Books
"Doctor Walt’s CADKEY 20+ Primer"
"Doctor Walt’s CADKEY 20+ Fundamentals"
"Doctor Walt’s CADKEY 20+ Super Solids."
Control: Modeling, Design And Simulation"
10 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide"
Letters to the Editor
"I'd like to hear some discussion about some fine-detail
issues. How about some discussion of problems like creating a part-number
system, finding cheap manufacturing control software, finding cheap
inventory control software, training people to use the software,
figuring out a bill of materials, developing a sales-order system,
hashing out a serial-numbering scheme for the products, and so on.
Re: Porting AutoCAD to Mac
"Porting AutoCAD to the new Mac's means reviving the UNIX
version. All new Mac's run a BSD (Berkeley System Distribution)
Unix with a Mac UI."
"As I'm sure you know OS X is based on Unix, so the first
thing you need is a Unix port for AutoCAD. Then, you'd need to adapt
that port to work with Apple's Aqua interface guidelines.
The editor replies: "I know about the UNIX port'
my purpose is to dig at Apple for: (1) claiming it's possible move
from Windows to the Mac painlessly; and (2) claiming to want to
hear from us Windows-codependents -- not!
Spin Doctor of the Moment
"You should never speak to a reporter about eBay business
unless an eBay PR representative has approved the conversation.
In all cases, an eBay PR representative will be present when you
speak to a reporter."
"Now that IT budgets are tight, the same companies who claimed
that they could help customers drive revenue in the new economy
are now saying that their products will help lower IT cost and increase
productivity. Each one has a spreadsheet model or an 'independent'
analyst case study on hand to back up the claim.
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