Thursday, July 31, 2008

Worksets - Save to Central "Key" Message

From Autodesk's Performance document mentioned in THIS POST:

When attempts to Save to Central (STC) collide, Revit-based applications display a dialog notifying that another user is currently saving to central. Cancelling Save to Central will prevent queuing the save request, allowing the user to continue to edit the local file before another Save to Central command.

Written another way... You can either leave the message alone until Revit returns to deal with your request or you can choose to cancel your STC. I usually leave the message open and wait for Revit to "get back to me". Their suggestions is to choose Cancel which allows me/you to continue working, the other user's STC will complete sooner/quicker and then we can use STC which in turn will complete faster.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Resize - Repeat Scale

You can always learn from students. While discussing the Resize tool a student asked if they could do "something", in other words..would "xxx" work...or do what she expects. Well truthfully I had never thought to do it and I said that I thought it should so we tried it and it worked! Oh...you want to know what it is?

When you use the Resize Tool (Graphical Option), Revit remembers the ratio of the change and it displays it on the Options Bar. If you use Resize again you can change the Option to Numeric and click a reference point on screen and whatever is selected will resize by the same amount.

In this instance we were resizing three copies of the original image in several views. We could have pasted new copies of the first item, correctly resized, but since they were already positioned "correctly", using resize on the same reference point meant they'd all resize and be in the correct spot without any extra work.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Worksharing/Worksets - Hardware Matching

Revit's platform team has compiled a document called:

"revit_platform_2009_model_perfomance_technical_note"

It is available, at least, via the Subscription Center. You'll have to log in to gain access to it there.

I'll mention one specific item in this post for now:

Attempt to keep project team workstation specifications equivalent. A dramatically weaker machine specification used by a single team member can reduce overall project performance.

Moral of the story, don't let support staff access the model with their mid 90's era pc's (exaggeration perhaps) to enter data into schedule for example.

This isn't in the document, I'll add it here, the above reminded me of it:

When Saving to Central (STC) stay until it finishes succesfully. If it fails, any error message that might occur will need to be resolved. If you have wandered away or are in a meeting this error message will very likely prevent others from using STC successfully.

I've posted a copy of the document HERE assuming that Autodesk wouldn't object to any Revit user having it regardless of subscription status. It is possible that they might ask me to remove it however. If so it will be removed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Revit Curiosity - Revit Civil

A frequent request among Revit users is more site tools. In fact it was the number one AUGI Revit Wishlist item last year, which was submitted to Jay Bhatt (Senior Vice President, Architecture, Engineering and Construction Solutions) at Autodesk University 2007 during the AUGI Annual General Meeting.

The site tools we do have work pretty well at their given task. This begs for the next level. Simple equation, with each improvement in work flow a new greater expectation is created because, "This works so easily...why doesn't it do xxx too?"

So I wonder what we mean by more site tools?

I believe that we want tools that allow us to prepare and "finish" planning exercises as well as fully articulate our design for both documentation and presentation purposes. I don't believe that we (architecture)(okay maybe some do) want tools for hydrology or that we truly intend to compete with the technical expertise of our civil design consultants. We ARE looking for a way to "democratize" the design of these elements so that we can better inform our discussions with our consultants.

I'd like these (at least):

Define road profiles and then describe where they will go relative to our project and at what elevations they will do so.
Curb/kerb tools to describe how these relate to the design of our roads.
Drain representation that alters the site or road/curbs.
Retaining walls and site topography alteration accordingly.
Contour definition by more means than points, such as sketching lines.
Bi-Directional relationship between civil data file and toposurface (if civil data is updated the surface updates)
Solid vs. Surface Topography to support subterranean work such as tunnels.

Ideally the effort applied to drafting such items in a conventional 2D drawing would create a 3D version of same. Autodesk would like us to consider the Civil 3D product as the tool for this work. For a Civil design firm perhaps it is. I respectfully submit that it might be similar to using a scientific calculator to figure your grocery bill. A bit more power than I need.

If we accept or agree that architects usually start projects and the other trades get involved later (hopefully this will change too) then we must recognize that it is therefore necessary for architects to make many decisions (to express ideas) early on and document those decisions/ideas effectively.

Site tools are an important part of this process and for Revit to exclude them diminishes its effectiveness as a complete solution. Revit needs to provide tools to allow architects to get their designs approved in as efficient manner as possible. Adding site tools to the Revit toolbox would be big help!

P.S. We could include parking lot design tools and landscape design in this equation as well. There is existing content (not comprehensive though) for these tasks but it can be argued that there is not a discipline oriented process for them however. We'd be much better off if there was.

Revit Extensions for Revit Architecture 2009

Scott Latch (Revit Architecture Technical Product Manager) Announced the following today at the AUGI Revit forums.

Revit Extensions are a series of easy-to-use applications that extend the capabilities of Revit Architecture 2009 software in key areas, including modeling, coordination, and documentation. Specifically, the extensions provided in this executable file are: Grid Generator, Freeze Drawings, Compare Models, Text Generator, Elements Positioning, and Microsoft Excel®-based Model Generation.

Nice to see these tools shared with Revit Architecture! Be sure to check them out!

In order to access the extensions you must check in at the Autodesk Subscription site, log in.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - Edit Button

This is specifically leveled at the new EDIT button that appears when you are working in the family editor and using the sweep & swept blend solids and voids.

I'm referring to this Options Bar arrangement including the Edit button.


In the past releases a sweep only required you to click Sketch Profile and sketch it. Now there is an extra button, the EDIT button to get to sketch. This one:


If you weren't aware of it, you can click to select the profile origin to get access to the Edit button on the Options Bar to start sketching the profile though.


This allows you to ignore the issue of which one is Profile 1 and Profile 2 if you can't remember which way you sketched the path in the first place. It seems likely that the Sweep inherits this functionality because of the swept blend, not because it really needed the extra click.

If we were to plan well we'd make all our profiles first and then just choose to load and apply these profiles instead of clicking the Edit button. But we know how many well laid plans end up. I could do without an extra click, the goal after all is reducing the "clicks". Happy to have the Swept Blend and will endure the extra click.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - Sneaky Buttons

I wrote THIS POST ages ago now, August 25, 2007 to be exact. My time flies!

I call any button in Revit that doesn't look like "normal" buttons that we are used to, "Sneaky". The most sneaky of all is the little rascal in the Family Editor that lets you associate parameters to other parameters. This is the one.


Yeah the one with no tool tip...no hint what it might do. For those afraid to click on stuff it can be positively paralyzing. Just try telling someone like that to click and watch the hesistation. They're thinking, "Is Steve trying to make me crash Revit or what?".

I think this sneaky button is definitely a Reviteristic.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Railings and Baluster Patterns

Railings leave much to be desired in terms of truly flexible design. When you need to create a railing that requires different baluster panel sizes, in particular at its ends, things start getting fussy.

This is an example of a railing that has been "designed" to use two different panel sizes. The overall length of the railing must be factored in at the outset. Railings are just like wallpaper which has a defined "repeating" pattern that must be plotted/planned out before beginning work.

Assuming that the pattern requires a repeating 24" typical panel interupted now and then with an 18" panel for a design esthetic as well as finishing up with 18" panels at each end because the overall length "required" is 20'-0". These are nice clean numbers obviously and if the real world defined some messy dimensions, the first and last panel's size(s)would need to be adjusted to match those messy numbers.

This is the final result, a 20'-0" railing with 24" and 18" panels.


This is the Baluster dialog captured in two stages because it wasn't possible to capture a scrolling window for some reason with SnagIT.


This is the rest of the dialog.


This is the sketch length, one long segment @ 20'-0" long.



The key parts of this pattern:
The first panel uses a 9" offset which is half the panel width
The distance from center to center between 18" and 24" panels is 1'-9"

When laying this sort of thing out you need to start with the overall required length. Define how many "normal" panels fit and what is left over. Then decide whether you are splitting this left over amount between start and end or placing it entirely at one end. Once you've figured this out you can start defining the railing baluster pattern.

I've posted the example project file that these images are based on HERE.

An awesome improvement to railings would be to permit a baluster to flex like a curtain panel in a curtain wall. Ironic a bit because if I recall correctly the very early railing tool was the curtain wall tool or vice versa?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dept. of Subtle - Solid fill

Really subtle...the stock fill pattern "Solid fill" is spelled with a little "f" whereas all or nearly all other names in Revit's stock features uses Titlecase. Therefore it "should" be Solid Fill, capital "F". Subtle, yes but it actually made the ballot at the current AUGI Revit wishlist cycle!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - Activate Dimensions

Temporary dimensions just show up when you select an element. As a model matures and there are more elements Revit may "decide" that displaying the temporary dimensions would take too long to calculate and instead present a button on the Options Bar called, not surprisingly, Activate Dimensions.



When you select elements, to copy or move them for example, you should also find the Activate Dimensions tool appears which will allow you to alter permanent dimensions too.

One interesting collateral benefit is you can select multiple elements that all need to move by the same relative distance by altering one dimension value on a string.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Changing of the Guard - AUGI Revit Community

I announced my plan to retire from my AUGI Revit community forum management and moderating roles at the end of the year in this THREAD at AUGI today.

I wrote the following:

Hello All,

I am stepping down from forum management and moderating at the end of this year.

I have had my "turn at bat" so to speak and I think that it is time to give the community an opportunity to have fresh "leadership" as well as to give others a chance to dig in to volunteer in our community in a broader way.

This means we have a little less than six months to sort it out.

I don't know how to do this, it is my first time. I don't know if it should be a voting process or a selection and appointment process. This is where you all come in... We need to figure out how to do this.

Please respond in this thread with suggestions for how this change over might best be done.

We currently have the following members as voluntering in some capacity for some or all of our community forums:

Jim Balding - Links Manager
Steve Stafford - Retiring
Wes Macaulay - Wishlist Manager
David Baldacchino - Tips & Tricks Manager
James Vandezande - Community Chairperson
Mr. Spot (Chris Price) - moderator
Ski South - Moderator
Tom Weir - Moderator RST
Paul Andersen - Moderator RST
Matthew Danowski - Moderator RME (awaiting activation)

BeeGee - still assigned though technically a retired moderator
czoog - still assigned though technically a retired moderator

This is also an opportunity for our existing volunteers to revisit their own needs and plans and decide if they wish to continue on or "pass the hat" as well.

Thanks for the opportunity to serve in this capacity! I hope that I haven't overstayed my welcome and I looked forward to what new leadership brings!!


If you are a member (or should be, join then) please contribute to the thread at AUGI to help guide the transition. THANKS for the opportunity to serve!!

Railing over a Wall

This subject comes up every now and then. An often overlooked feature of railings (yes they do need many more features)and stairs may help a bit. This example shows two railings following the profile of two walls. Railings want to be hosted by either a floor, stair or ramp and they "turn up their nose" at the idea of a top of a wall as a host.

The railings are following the wall profile and they are not hosted by the stair, they are not hosted by anything. Here's an image of the railing using wireframe.

The key to this is in the properties of the sketched line segments of the railing. This image depicts how each has been altered.


Access to these properties can be found on the Options Bar when a segment is selected. You cannot alter multiple selections at one time, select only one.

The bottom segment's settings.


The middle segment's settings.


The top segment's settings.


The middle segment is permitted to slope using its Slope setting and the top segment defines how much to slope. It is necessary to be careful where each segment starts and ends to define the desired slope. The other subtle part of this is that there is a bottom "railing" acting as the base constraint for the balusters so they don't project all the way down to the level.

I've posted an example Project File HERE.

Here's a video I made on November 11, 2009 and added to this post too.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Egress Math Error - Bug Report

For those who have downloaded the latest arc egress example, sorry! David Baldacchino pointed out a math error in my work. I've fixed it and have posted new files at the site again. I also tweaked the schedule formatting a tiny bit.

Download the fixed (project file) 2008 version CLICK HERE 2008 (792 kb)
Download the fixed (project file) 2009 version CLICK HERE 2009. (936 kb)

Download just the 2008 arc Family CLICK HERE. (188 kb)
Download just the 2009 arc Family CLICK HERE. (232 kb)

By the way, David provided me with an example that includes the arrow and dot but they can't resize with scale change so I haven't included that...yet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - Properties

When your cursor is in a view it's View Properties
When you select a view in the Project Browser it's Properties
When you select an element in the view it's Element Properties
When you select an element in the Project Browser it's Properties
When you select a viewport on a sheet it's Properties
When you right click on a sheet it's View Properties
When you are in sketch mode the Properties Button works on Sketch Elements
When you are in sketch mode the Element Properties moves to the Design Bar
When you use Keyboard Shortcuts it's PR
When you use Keyboard Shortcuts it's VP

Properties, Properties, Properties...there are probably more...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Egress Family - Arc Version

I've added a new segment that permits sketching an arc segment. The path length is derived from trigonometric formulas and is "close" enough for its purpose, I assume. You'll have to decide for yourself if you choose to use it.

Thanks to Mr. Raiz for the formula I needed to do the calculation. It is setup to use as a middle segment as I assume that it probably wouldn't be used to start or end. Arbitrary assumption perhaps. The "hard part" (meaning time to work it out is short right now) is getting the arrow to point in the correct direction relative to the arc.


To download the new 2009 version CLICK HERE 2009.
To download the new 2008 version CLICK HERE 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Accountability - A Strategy a Customer Could Love?

Read a blog post on this site today that Seth Godin provided on his blog.

There are numerous comments in various user groups, forums and newgroups suggesting that Autodesk could be more transparent, communicate better with it users/customers. The story goes that a publicly traded company must be very careful how it shares future leading communication(s). If done incorrectly it can affect that companies ability to collect and claim revenue earnings. I don't pretend to understand the subtleties of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Regardless every customer would appreciate greater insight into what we can expect from future versions of the software we rely on so heavily.

The concept is similar to the the "Take your child to Work Day" where Autodesk would bring a client(s) to their office and let them shadow someone around the office for a day. This would give that customer greater insight into what it takes to make software or whatever sort of person the customer wants to shadow.

The question is would Autodesk do it? Would customers want to? How many customers would get to? Is this something that Autodesk could pull off at Autodesk University in the form of video documentary and worksessions?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dept. of Scary Science - Beer Drinker Warning

[Surgeon General Warning: Politically incorrect humor follows which may cause increased beer drinking, see close of report]

Scientists have confirmed that men should be concerned about their beer consumption. Last month the National University of Lesotho scientists released the results of a recent study that examined the presence of female hormones in beer. Their theory suggests that because beer contains female hormones (hops contain phytoestrogens) that by drinking too much beer men will become women.

To test their theory, they had 100 men each drink 8 pints of beer within 1 hour.

They observed the following for 100% of their test subjects:

They argued over nothing.
They refused to apologize when obviously wrong.
They put on weight.
They talked excessively without making sense.
They became overly emotional.
They couldn't drive.
They failed to think rationally.
They had to sit down while using the bathroom.

They stated that since this proof is conclusive that no further testing is necessary.

Therefore please consider your beer intake.

Author unknown - shared with me by insensitive males that clearly need to get in touch with their feminine side. Interestingly another study suggests that excessive use of inappropriate sexist humor may cause men to drink more beer....

Using Google a search with the criteria "Hops and Phytoestrogen" yields this ARTICLE:

The female flowers of the hop plant are used as a preservative and as a flavoring agent in beer. However, a recurring suggestion has been that hops have a powerful estrogenic activity and that beer may also be estrogenic. In this study, sensitive and specific in vitro bioassays for estrogens were used for an activity-guided fractionation of hops via selective solvent extraction and appropriate HPLC separation. We have identified a potent phytoestrogen in hops, 8-prenylnaringenin, which has an activity greater than other established plant estrogens. The estrogenic activity of this compound was reflected in its relative binding affinity to estrogen receptors from rat uteri. The presence of 8-prenylnaringenin in hops may provide an explanation for the accounts of menstrual disturbances in female hop workers. This phytoestrogen can also be detected in beer, but the levels are low and should not pose any cause for concern.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nik Kershaw - Off Topic

Back in the early 80's Nik made the charts with a song called "Wouldn't it be Good". At least that's when I became familiar with his music. He sported the spiky hair typical of some artists back then. Today it is a bit less, he looks like he could be a Revit user even. Reminds me a little bit of David Light, its a compliment David! You be the judge? Nik...then David...David's a younger version?



The point is that Nik has continued to make music over the years even though he has all but vanished from the charts. Apparently a lot of musicians have discovered that they can make a comfortable living by focusing on their true fans. I read an interesting (to me anyway) article on this subject by Seth Godin and he linked to other writers that discuss this in depth.

If you remember his music and lost touch with his work then I invite you to revisit, get reacquainted. If you never heard of him I suggest you check him out. If you are fortunate enough to live in the UK you can still catch him perform live. There are albums available via iTunes in the USA and the UK iTunes (it has different options in the UK which I wish I could purchase, subject of another blog post). You can also get some of his work via The Store for Music (UK)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Save or Options or Options or Save?

Called me confused...RAC 2009 has changed the Save button location on me and well...everyone. I'm not sure how many times I've opened the Options dialog in the file Save or Save As dialog thinking I was clicking Save. I guess this means that I've been "Pavlov Dogged"?

Here's the RAC2008 dialog: (note the location of the SAVE button)


Here's the RAC 2009 dialog: (note the location of the Options button)


I realize this should be in the Dept. of Subtle but was this REALLY NECESSARY? I'm sure I'll adjust eventually. The new dialog box is also a bit larger than the previous one in that it has a minimum size that is smaller than the minimum size of the older on.

Dept. of Reviteristics - "Tab, Hover & Click"

The TAB key is a very important tool! Everyone will tell you so...but not everyone latches on to its use right away either.

For example, you want to select all the exterior walls, you just hover your cursor over one wall, press tab (once, don't hold it down or else you get "disco tabbing"), then click (yes the left button). All selected!

Users are prone to move their cursor away from the element they are hovering over which causes Revit to lose the highlighting they carefully TABBED to acquire. They also get confused about whether they should use the Right Click or Left Click, yes use Left Click.

Definitely truly a quirky Reviteristic.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - "Then Click in Empty Space"

This department deals with the oddities or characteristics that are uniquely Revit.

First up is the notion of "clicking in empty space". This is required to finish a dimensioning task or when you are done using the text tool. This simple task yields a considerable bit of confusion for a lot of new users. Once mastered we easily move on but it seems to be a very foreign concept and I get all kinds of looks when I begin to explain this technique.

All Revit is asking us to do is click somewhere, anywhere...as long as nothing is under the point of our cursor. Revit interprets this as "I'm done thanks!". It really isn't an unreasonable request, Revit just wants us to avoid picking another element so we can finish up.

This technique is also used to reset the Match, Trim/Extend, Align and other tools. We need to master it and it is easy...but it is definitely a Reviteristic.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Worksets and Purge Unused

Today an adventurous Revit user thought he'd use Purge Unused unsolicted. This during a day long excursion into the workset environment with fourteen concurrent users. We discovered this when I gave the gang the task of sketching some interior partitions on "their" floors and we were a bit surprised to find only three walls in the project. So I casually commented that could only happen if someone chose to delete them or use Purge Unused. At this point one of our gang volunteered, "oh I did that!". Much laughter and conversation ensued between the rest of us.

To fix the problem of missing stuff, we used Transfer Project Standards. That's when bumped into the next issue or gotcha.

If you create new elements in your local file while someone else uses Purge Unused in their local and they STC (Save to Central) first, guess what happens to your stuff.

It goes away! That's what!

Logical and consistent with the existing relationship of local files and central file. However it seems to me that Purge Unused ought to be a bit "smarter" or disabled except under special circumstances like working in a central with no other users or no other uses while in a local perhaps.

It was a first for me, nobody has used Purge Unused before without first asking about the feature. Remaining "half full" it's better that it happened during a training session than on a live project!

Monday, July 07, 2008

STRUG-OC Revit Structure User Group - Orange County

I attended the second meeting for this group last Wednesday night. I tried to attend their first meeting but I arrived one day late, on time but wrong day. I have no excuse except "knucklehead syndrome".

This meeting was a nearly full room of 20 and hosted by the Irvine office of KPFF and Avan Amalsad was the "hostess with the mostest". She ran a smooth show marred only by some "EyeTee" meeting jitters, a computer that wouldn't cooperate for a bit followed later by the third presenter's PC offering only the "blue screen of death". This second item struck Daniel Hebert with U.S.CAD but he was equal to the task quickly assembling an alternate model to do his discussion on the Copy/Monitor features.

Avan discussed some Revit basics and then spent some time covering using legacy details in a Revit project.

Margarito Garcia, CAD Modeler with Thornton Tomasetti gave a short and sweet run down on scheduling features. I think he whetted the attendees appetite for more so I bet he gets an encore at another meeting so he can go deeper into the subject.

Avan Amalsad found an ally in Ed Tallmadge of Kelar Pacific LLC to start this user group. He also started a group in San Diego called STRUG-SD.

Thanks to the KPFF staff who setup the room and stayed late to rebuild it as well as the firm's management for permitting the group to meet on site regularly. Be sure to show your support and attend the next meeting if you can. They meet on the first Wednesday of each month. If you'd like to contact Avan, just let me know and I'll pass your info along to her.

Portland Revit User Group - Summary

As I mentioned recently I attended this user group meeting while in Portland for the AUGI Board of Directors meeting.

This group was started several years ago (if I have my facts straight) by Darren Lewis with HDR. He later passed on the reigns to Gordon Price, a frequent contributor at AUGI, and with BOORA. This group enjoys the support of three resellers in their region, Imaginit, Ideate & PPI Group. They also provide the food and beverages for each meeting.

The meeting is held at the Multnomah Public Library and unlike a lot of user groups they meet during an extended lunch hour. This apparently is much more successful for them than evenings.

This meeting focused on the new features in Revit 2009. Gordon led the discussion and entertained comments all the while. The group was very gracious when I interupted occasionally with comments and talked about AUGI briefly. There were a little over 30 people in attendance which is off the usual mark of between 40-50. I attribute this to my presence, sorry!

Here's a shot of them in action or at least preparing to be in action. Note if you look closely you may be able to tell that Gordon is using an unsupported notebook, a Mac!


Well it may be a bit much to expect to see that...here's another shot of the crowd.


These were taken earlier, before the majority of the gang arrived or were still wandering a bit.

We wrapped the meeting by awarding the door prize, a Not for Resale (NFR) certificate that permits the winner to download the software of their choice from Autodesk (software that is available to choose from on their site, not all but many titles). I was also able to offer a special second NFR certificate in light of my visit.

One of the very tangible benefits of associating your local user group with AUGI is that Autodesk will offer up to four NFR certificates to your group during each year. Moses Drake with The Fa├žade Group was the lucky draw for the one I brought with me, congrats Moses!

This is a list of their board members:

D. Crawford Smith
Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects
www.zgf..com

Hakan Cete
Mulvanny G2 Architecture
www.mulvannyg2.com

Devon Lumbard
Degenkolb Engineers
www.degenkolb.com

Kevin Janik
Otak Architects
www.otak.com

Celeste Warren
Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects
www.amaa.com

Eric miller
BOORA Architects
www.boora.com

Keep up the good work!!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Nvidia Chip Reliability Issues - "Suffers Chip Glitch"

Just to add to the potential contributing concerns for those with performance issues and Revit 2009 products.

This report at Tech Trader Daily is a bit scary for the users of their products, here's the text from their article.

July 2, 2008, 8:38 pm

Nvidia Cuts Q2 Guidance; Suffers Chip Glitch
Posted by Eric Savitz

Nvidia (NVDA) shares have been clobbered in late trading after the company this afternoon warned that revenue and gross margin for its fiscal second quarter ending July 27 would be lower than previously forecast. The company now sees revenue for the quarter of $875 million to $950 million; the company had previously forecast that revenue would be down 5% sequentially from the April quarter, or about $1.09 billion. The company previously said it expected gross margin to be up about 100 basis points from the April quarter. Nvidia said the shortfall is due to end-market weakness around the world, the delayed ramp of a next generation media and communications processor, and price adjustments to its graphics processors to respond to competitive pressures.

The company also said it will take a one-time charge of $150 million to $200 million to cover “anticipated warranty, repair, return, replacement and other costs and expenses,” from a weak die/packaging material in certain versions of its previous generation GPU and MCP products used in notebook systems. “Certain notebook configurations with GPUs and MCPs manufactured with a certain die/packaging material set are failing in the field at higher than normal rates.” the company said in a statement. “To date, abnormal failure rates with systems other than certain notebook systems have not been seen.” NVIDIA said it has begun talks with its supply chain regarding this issue and will also seek to access insurance coverage for this issue.

In after hours trading, NVDA is down $3.95, or 21.9%, to $14.08.


Revit 2009 - Video Performance or Other Performance Issues

There have been numerous reports in threads at AUGI about users suffering from degraded performance on the same equipment versus the previous release (2008). The product team has been responding to these threads at times. Unfortunately overall it remains a bit ambiguous whether Autodesk hasn't been successful tracking it down or if they are satisfied that their diagnosis of video driver's causing this is the true culprit.

There is a perception among users that Autodesk does a poor job communicating with its customers. I wrote this in response to such criticism at AUGI and decided to repeat it here.

Autodesk could do more to make it more obvious they are aware of or dealing with reported performance issues. They could always do a better job of reaching out to us. The point (in the THREAD) about (responses) being buried in a thread is too true. They (Autodesk staff) don't have the authority to make a thread (at AUGI's forums) sticky so that blame falls to me and other moderators, sorry.

We could do a better job of communicating directly to them too. I wish it were different but reporting things here does not allow them to track and resolve issues effectively. I had lunch with Scott Davis yesterday. I may be speaking out of turn a bit but he shared with me how frustrating it can be for him to see reports here and then when he tries to do some digging on his "side of the fence" he finds no corroboration in support requests or if there are, only a few that too often lack enough data to solve anything. I fully realize that not everyone has the time to submit support requests. It does take time. But to truly resolve the issue they need data.

Side story...my wife worked for a copier company as a dispatcher (yes...she hated it). She was required to ask if the copier was plugged in and on before being permitted to send a tech. She was verbally abused and harrassed repeatedly by various firm's staff for asking such inane and pointless questions, "of course it is plugged in and on, what do you think we are, morons?" In nearly every instance when the dreaded, "the copier is dead" call came in she went through the motions and the tech reported back, "it was unplugged or it was off, the cleaning crew did it again supposedly". Some users don't do good troubleshooting, some don't know how, some can't be bothered. Others do a grand job.

On the tech side of the fence it is unfortunately pretty easy to become complacent, even presumptuous about reports when very often the defining data points to user malaise, old drivers, outdated hardware, couldn't be bothered to learn the feature fully, etc etc. It is also too easy to blame Revit for the issue because nothing changed on my computer, I just installed the new version and now it is worse. Sure looks like it must be Revit, it is a reasonable reaction.

Let's keep challenging Autodesk to communicate with us better and let's lead by example. If it is tech support requests they need, inundate them. If it is data they need...bring it on... They will either find it and resolve it faster or some of you will be correct, they'll continue to obfuscate and frustrate users and undermine their own intentions.

The past should indicate their willingness to resolve issues they can track down, the area calculation issue...the y2k8 date issue... and more going further back. This community (AUGI's Revit community) helped make them aware of each of those two issues I just mentioned. So we do have some power or voice, they just need the formal support request process so they can keep track of these things better. As searching these forums can easily prove, regrettably even with the improved search capablities and opening up the forums to the google indexing "bots" it can be hard to find that post we vaguely remember reading about last week...last month...last year.


So how can they communicate better?
  • Respond in user communities like AUGI faster, consistently,
  • Be First to Report
  • Use their Communication Center consistently
  • Dedicated Web location for on-going troubleshooting for ornery as yet undiagnosed issues
  • Email contract administrators prompting for support data, again for particularly troubling and difficult to diagnose issues, not every issue
  • Their own product blogs

At the risk of sounding bureacratic, they ought to have a product community relations "point person" for each version that users can grow to trust and help keep both sides communicating effectively.

All these and more will ensure that even casual somewhat unaware Revit users have a chance to help track down such problems.

VisionStation

I visited my old boss at WATG yesterday for lunch, Jim Balding. He showed me a piece of technology they have been using for some time now. It is called VisionStation and it is made by elumens. They acquired it from eon Reality.

Here's a screen capture from the website I visited:


It is technology aimed at providing a way to "experience it before you build it"
At first glance it looks like a satellite dish without the electronics at its focal point. A PC runs the show through a projector with a special lens hidden in a desk. It is really a pretty simple setup.

I managed to get "stuck" in a wall at one point and Jim said that it is possible to configure the model to prevent going through walls and such but the model I was working in wasn't. Eventually I got out of my predicament.

It was pretty interesting and I could see how a client might get jazzed about a proposal after visiting it this way. Thanks for sharing it with me Jim!

I took a couple pictures of it with Jim and while I was using it but the image at their site was so much better than my camera work I opted to use it instead.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Worksharing Monitor - Doesn't Work with Some Files

David Duarte posted a reply to a thread on this subject at AUGI stating that the Worksharing Monitor tool (available via Autodesk Subscription) does not detect activity with files that contain an additional period (.) in the file name.

For example: MyAwesomeProject.NoReally.central.rvt

I imagine this is because Revit uses an extra period (.) followed by four numerical values to define backup files.

For example: MyAwesomeProject.0003.rvt

Odd since that only really applies to stand-alone projects. Regardless this little bit of information may help resolve what otherwise seemed a bit mysterious.

Web Database and Revit Inside

I'm writing this here because I don't want to muddy the waters at the Revit Inside blog with a new post. First, thanks to every firm that has asked to be on the list. It has grown steadily and even more so lately. The number of requests has tripled in the last few weeks. Which brings me to the point of this post.

I lack the knowledge and time to take the Revit Inside list to the next logical level. I'd like to be able to provide a searchable list that provides more information to visitors and even makes the process of getting added more automatic.

I've received a number of suggestions lately that indicate to me that the list has reached the tipping point where it ought to become a bit more mature and informative. Let's face it I was selfish, I made it easy for me, sort of. It is just a list of hyperlinks to web pages. The burden is completely on the visitor to do the research. I still believe that responsibility remains with the visitor but I could do a lot more to make it easier to do that research.

For example a firm could provide: (based on some suggestions)
How long have they been using Revit?
How many active projects?
How many Revit users?
How many completed projects?
How many projects involving other Revit firms? (collaboration experience)

These are just a few of the possibilities. I don't want to get into judging a firm myself and thereby possibly insult or alienate a firm and its staff. So the site would permit each firm to do their own "talking" through various criteria.

The first step toward doing this is using a database. That's "easy", I know how to make databases. What I lack is the web side of making it accessible. Currently the blog is easy, it is free and hosted by Google's Blogger. Making it a web application means hosting elsewhere and that means cost. To avoid advertising or other funding approaches I'd like to first look at economical approaches. I could use "kindred spirit" help with the web development side. Are "you" interested? Let me know via steve at aecadvantage dot com.

Thanks to those who have contributed ideas, thanks for caring enough to do so.

Cheers!

P.S. Thanks to Chuck, the inspiration for it (Revit Inside) in the first place.

Export To File Error - Illegal Characters in View/Project Names

I posted this at the HOK CAD Solutions blog regarding this issue today and I am providing a link here just in case you don't visit their blog...yet...

Keep it Legal!!

Shell Shock - Vote for them - Off Topic

If you are a frequent visitor to AUGI or at least have been in the past you probably have seen posts by Steven Shell, the "Rock-n-Roll Architect". He's been a guitar player for more years than he'd probably want to admit, a "been there done that, washed the tee-shirt so many times you can't read it anymore" musician.

I received the following today asking for support of the "Tammies", the Tuscon area version of the Grammy's. I'd like to go on record as saying they are the best cover band I have yet to see!! How's that for an endorsement Steve?

So if you have seen them make sure you vote. If you haven't you now have one more reason to visit Tuscon, Arizona.

Here's the info:

Well, it's that time again, only different! The Tucson Weekly has published the finalists for the "Tammies", which are the music awards for local bands and musicians here in Tucson. This year however, they are trying something new in order to reach a larger voting base. The finalists for the critic's and reader's choices have already been selected by the mail in voting which happened a few months ago. They are now asking everybody to vote on-line at the web site address posted below here:

TAMMIES


If you would like to vote for any local band or musician, (Including....that's right....you knew it was coming).....Shell Shock, which did make the finals under the "Cover Band" category, please feel free to visit the web site and vote. Please remember, one vote per computer IP address and per individual.

As Steve says at every show, "Remember, if it weren't for all of you.....none of this would be necessary."

Thank you all for your wonderful support over the years and we look forward to seeing you all sometime this month!
Should you have any questions, please e-mail us at:

shellshockrocks at cox dot net
or visit our web site

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Acuity Brands Lighting Content - Release Two

From their site:

Based on your feedback from the initial beta test of Acuity Brands Lighting’s 3D product models, we made some changes and produced a new set of models. The new set is available for download on the downloads page. Key changes includes the following:

1) We have doubled the number of models in the beta set to include more of our frequently ordered products.

2) We are now using “ceiling-based” hosting for any luminaire that is typically attached to or recessed in a ceiling. (Our earlier hypothesis that making everything “face-based” gave you more flexibility actually disrupted your workflow.)

3) 3D DWG files are no longer included in the download of Revit family files, but continue to be available as a separate download.

4) We’ve improved our standards for artwork and Revit family files to make our files more consistent in both appearance and behavior.

As you use these models, please let me know what we can do to make the models more useful and productive for you. In particular, we’d like to hear any preference you have related to:

1) Type Catalogs. Should we continue to provide product type information in the separate, comma-delimited files? Or, should all types be embedded in the Revit family file?

2) Location of IES files. Our family files include a link to the IES file. Should we include the IES files in the download? Or, does that just complicate your file-management process?

Thank you for your support, and we welcome any feedback or suggestions.