Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Favorite AutoCAD/LT social media sites

Do you enjoy reading? Are you interested in topic specific blogs? Have a Twitter account but not sure what to do with it? Google+ not being a plus in your life? What about Pinterest? Facebook? LinkedIn?

In no particular order, we are going to list some of our favorite social media authors and where you can find them on the big wide web. Pick one, pick a few, each is delivered differently so you decide which best suits your needs and lifestyle.

But first, since you are reading our Blog, here are the other locations where we post if you are interested in exploring with us:
TWITTER  *  GOOGLE+  *  PINTEREST  *  FACEBOOK

Blogs

If you like a good read, and like to seek them out, blogs are great: they get into a level of detail you can find useful and helpful. Our favorite AutoCAD/LT specific blogs are:
Twitter

This is a great way to follow others that post often, read what they offer when you want, without going out hunting for them. At 140 character limit, these posts do tend to be short, sweet and to the point. You never have to post anything to stay on, but if you do, remember that the entire planet can see everything you write and post, forever.
Consider following these folks:
  • CADdigest: CAD news from Roopinder Tara and Ralph Grabowski
  • Cadalyst Magazine: Celebrating 30 years of delivering news, advice, tips, and product insight.
  • CAD Setter Out: Tips, Tricks and Tutorials for AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor.
  • AutoCAD Tips: Useful tips and LISP routines for everyday AutoCAD users.
  • CADnotes: Tutorials, tips and tricks to increase students and professionals productivity.
  • BCBENTON: CAD Writer, blogger, trainer & Author of AutoCAD Fundamentals & Advanced AutoCAD Techniques.
  • AutodeskHelp: Customer service crew at your beck & call 24/5 M-F in English. Ask them anything.
Google+

Do you live and breathe everything Google? Gmail and Google Apps a part of your daily routine? Google+ is made for you. Not as easy to understand as the other social media sites, and somewhat clunky, it's catching on and worth using if you are already a Google freak.
  • CADnotes: yes, they are even here, you might as well follow them soon.
  • Autodesk: news, views and information about current and future products.
  • Paul Munford: Cad Setter Out owners and blogger.
  • Scott Sheppard: Get the insider scoop from the Labs at Autodesk.
  • CAD-a-Blog: tips and tricks and info about AutoCAD.
  • Autodesk Help: catch them here too, 24/5 M-F.
If you'd rather join and participate in communities instead, consider joining some of these:
  • AutoCAD: Talk about AutoCAD, tech support, wishes, ideas...etc
Pinterest

So if you are not familiar with this social media site, think of it as a visual 'favorites' pin-up board for websites you want to keep track of for future reference. It can be organized into specific categories or if you like it can just be a dumping ground for future reference.
YouTube

This video website has many Channels dedicated to many items, AutoCAD being no exception Here are some of our favorites:
Facebook

Not just for connecting with friends and family, many companies and users offer professional pages for you to "like" and connect with other users.
  • Autodesk: They are everywhere.
  • AutoCAD: Tips, news and more.
  • CADXpert: sn interesting page with topics ranging from CAD to just about anything else.
  • AutoCAD Library: Share DWG files with others here.
LinkedIn

The site for Professionals to network and stay connected, they also host many professional and software forums like AutoCAD. Check these out:
OTHERS

For sites with no specific host, we recommend the following:

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

4K and Touch Screens, Part Two: is AutCAD/LT up to the task?

In our last post we discussed the new trend of 4K High-res displays and how they work in Windows 8.1. We continue with our review with hands-on use of AutoCAD/LT 215 and see if there have been any improvements with it and the use of Touchscreens.

Touchscreens

With the retirement of my last full Windows 7 touch screen tablet due to fading battery life, it was time to purchase a replacement. My criteria have not changed: modest screen size (no larger than 13") so I can use it in tight spots like airplane trays, job site shelving/sheet-rock stacks, overall light weight, long battery life, Windows 8.1, USB3 ports, built-in keyboard that can disappear when I don't need it (AutoCAD is still very keyboard-centric), and equipped with a high speed processor: light weight and small power brick if possible would be a bonus.

A 2-in-1 360-degree rotating keyboard laptop quickly became the ideal choice for me. A full laptop that could be converted easily to a tablet without the need to keep track of additional loose peripherals is going to be what I needed. After some effort reading reviews and trying out many units at computer stores and trade shows, I chose the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, equipped with the latest generation Intel mobile processor, a High Res display, 512GB SSD harddrive, thin, light weight, long battery life, and a great built-in keyboard that tucks away. Unlike the Surface Pro and other Tablet-only mobile PCs, the keyboard is solid, built-in, not a plastic cover "Bluetooth" that doesn't work in your lap or while standing with it in your hands. It flips away when I only need to use the device in Tablet/Touch mode.

The experience you’ll have is all about the size of the High Res/4K display and how your computer’s operating system can deal with it. For example, if you have a small High Res Display like that on the Microsoft Surface Pro or this Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, everything will be extremely tiny on it. You’ll fit a lot of content on the screen, but at the cost of barely being able to read any of it — only if you get up close and squint.
Windows OS and many applications offer a variety of tweaks to make life better on the higher-resolution displays popping up on High-Res laptops and tablets. These features help fix the problem of tiny interface elements, making them appear larger — but still sharper than they’d look on a lower-resolution display. Windows 8.1 Update has the best scaling features of any version of Windows yet, and even it isn’t perfect. Many applications — even Microsoft’s own applications included with Windows — look blurry when they’re blown up to appear larger on a high-resolution display.

AutoCAD/LT is one program that offers little to help fix this problem. Here is a screenshot of AutoCAD/LT2015 running on my Lenovo without any 3rd party fixes, click on it to enlarge so you can see the issues:

This TIP here helped fix AutoCAD/LT, click to this image to expand and compare with the one above:

Besides fixing the text and icon sizes, it also made everything in AutoCAD/LT a little 'bigger' and kind of robbed me of some screen real estate. AutoCAD/LT also complains on startup that the screen display settings are below it's minimum requirements when it's obviously not:


Since this is not a laptop/tablet used for production, these limitations do not bother me as much but it does illustrate the need for Microsoft, in conjunction with Autodesk, to address this display issue urgently and in more detail. Microsoft does offer tips to address these limitations for Surface Pro users, but based on reports and feedback posted online to date these also appear to be partial measures.

AutoCAD/LT Usage

So how does AutoCAD/LT 2015 work? As good as it did on my previous Windows 7 Tablet: average use time on battery is over 2.5 hours with a mix of AutoCAD, MSOffice and light Illustrator/Photoshop use while I'm on site, in a car or on a plane. AutoCAD still is not designed for touchscreens, even with the added "Touch Select Mode" button that appears only on touchscreen-equipped computers/laptops. Zooming, Panning and Moving objects is similar to my previous experiences with tablets, but this time being able to have a full time keyboard at the ready simply speeds up drafting immensely. Right-Clicking is a chore on touchscreens using your fingers, and precision drafting/moving/copying is all but impossible with a finger unless yours as the size of a child's. I use a stylus equipped with a small rubber tip to navigate and draft in AutoCAD: the Ribbon makes touch-use easier to do, but if you are an AutoCAD user still stuck on classic toolbars/buttons and pulldown menus your frustration level will escalate rapidly and may help turn your tablet into a free-flying frisbee sooner than you wish or can afford.

Here is how to simulate the use of a tablet PC on your desktop PC, so you can understand personally what the challenges I mentioned above are:
  • Move your keyboard out of reach. Really, out of reach.
  • tape up/do not use the mouse right-click button: if you have a scroll wheel you can use it, it will replace a touchscreen's easy zoom in/out and pan ability.
  • Now use AutoCAD to draft your next half-dozen tasks in your file.
  • Every time you need to use the keyboard, move the keyboard to type, and as soon as you hit move it back out of reach before you continue on screen.
  • Repeat working like this for 15-30 minutes.
  • Now raise your hand if you still want a Tablet without a built-on hardware keyboard.
Do you use a Windows OS Tablet like the Microsoft Surface Pro with AutoCAD? What's been your experience? Leave a comment. ◦
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

4K and Touch Screens: is AutoCAD/LT ready for both?

Three years ago I wrote about my experience with AutoCAD/LT with my first ever full Windows Tablet HERE. How have things changed with Windows 8.1, new touchscreens, high-res monitors and more?

4K displays

The allure of these, especially for CAD users, is strong: more pixels, content designed for 4K look almost impossibly crisp; games and CAD programs hardly need anti-aliasing because the “jaggies” between pixels become almost unnoticeable; and fonts are rendered as if they were printed on paper and then stuck behind the screen. A better experience overall, right?

The Challenge for computer monitors: when a 4K television is sent a source with a resolution below its native resolution, it will use a scaling algorithm to compensate for the difference. HDTV makers have spent a lot of time researching the best way to accomplish this, and televisions ship with respectably quick processors (usually based on ARM architecture) to deliver fast, high-quality scaling.
Computer monitors have no such hardware, and just do what they’re told by the video card and the operating system. If a program says its main menu should be 500 pixels tall, you’re getting a menu that’s 500 pixels tall. So, as pixel count increases, that menu becomes smaller, and smaller, and smaller, until it’s so small it can hardly be used.

Microsoft has responded to this issue with a variety of features, including built-in scaling and font calibration, but the pace of the company’s response has fallen behind the advance of technology. How?

PC Gamer offered the best explanation HERE.
Jamie and Adam went a little further at CES and posted this more detailed review HERE.

Think you are immune using an Apple MAC? Read THIS for an honest review.

What does this mean for AutoCAD/LT2015 users: tiny icons, oddly displayed text sizes at the commandline, and more. Click on this screenshot to see the problems in more detail.

While the real fix needs to come from Microsoft and Autodesk (and almost every other software manufacturer who's software you use), the tip HERE seems to work well for me for many software (including AutoCAD) on my 4K monitor.

4K isn’t even the latest new thing anymore. Some manufacturers are now pushing “5K” monitors with an even higher resolution: Apple sells an iMac with a 5K display designed to be a 4K monitor with screen space allocated for application toolbars and tools.

Touch Screens

With the market full of interesting full Windows OS capable and seriously portable devices such as Microsoft's Surface Pro Tablet, along with offering HP, Dell and Lenovo to name a few, the attraction to be fully mobile with AutoCAD is hard to resist.

Follow us in our next post as we review if AutoCAD/LT can be useful on these devices. ◦
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Where is AutoCAD/LT to download?

If you are just looking for an Autodesk product download you should be able to find it at the Autodesk Customer Service Virtual Agent. First, you should do the following to prepare:
  1. In the preferences or options area of your preferred browser, remove pop-up blockers and allow access to all *autodesk.com sites.
  2. In the preferences or options area of your preferred browser, delete cookies, temporary internet files, and history.
  3. Turn off your personal firewall or VPN, if you use one.
  4. Disable UAC in Windows, temporarily.
  5. Close and reopen your preferred browser.
  6. Now follow these instructions: http://knowledge.autodesk.com/topics/account-management/software-downloads/download-methods/virtual-agent
Note: as of today, the date of this posting, Autodesk only stores product versions from 2015 down to 2012. If you use one of these versions go and get it now, today, and store the download somewhere safe to use later. Because once Autodesk stops making it available you will be hard pressed to find it ever again.

DWGTrueview (DTV) 2014 download links can be found in this post:
http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/Installation-Licensing/TrueView-download/m-p/4427763#M68123
DWGTrueview (DTV) 2015 64bit Download is here:
http://download.autodesk.com/esd/dwgtrueview/2015/SetupDWGTrueView2015_ENU_64bit.sfx.exe

There are several download links for older products on this page that may help you: ftp://ftp.autodesk.com/prodsupp/downloads/
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

The serial number you have entered is not valid

When you attempt to open the freshly installed software it asks for the serial number of the product. You enter the serial number listed on the back of the product case/box, but it is rejected with the message "The serial number you have entered is not valid". So what's going on?

If this is an older version of AutoCAD/LT, usually when you see that type of error it means that the license has been marked upgraded or returned. To have your license status verified, please contact the Activation and Registration team directly:

  1. Visit http://knowledge.autodesk.com/contactus
  2. Select “Activation & Registration” or “License Management”
  3. Select appropriate subtopics from the pull-down menus
  4. Select “I Still Need Help”  if you need personal assistance.

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