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RE: Paper Space - was: Engineering Education Reply to Bill P. from Gerard

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Scott,
When I wrote this I was thinking back to AutoCad 2002 which I did not
like. I did not like being tied to an Internet base Cad program and
losing the privacy that I have when drafting in a system based program.
It seemed that I lost everything I liked with the Softdesk add-on that
became the Architectural Desktop (albeit hidden on the disk without
instructions to install it). I have no idea what is involved or included
in 2004 but I don't think it meets my needs as I don't draw three
dimensionally and can now pick and choose any detail or setting that is
on another drawing and drag it into Architectural Desktop 2. 
I took a look back at Windows XP and what I found was that you can
install any program using compatibility mode because Microsoft did
consider backward compatibility. Simply right click on the setup file
and choose Properties. There is a tab that is titled Compatibility and
it allows you to set the file for compatibility back to Windows 95. I
would assume that they will not drop this feature - even DOS based
programs will work within their own window if you know how to us XP. I
did not like 98 or 98SE and this changed when I upgraded to XP which is
much more stable and allows for better use of memory - and this helps in
AutoCad to keep sessions open with more pages and other programs that
can work concurrently (not necessarily multi-tasking, but concurrently
running multiple programs at the same time).
 
Your dad may have been able to use his backup program if he installed it
using the compatibility mode mentioned above. The problem is that it is
not easy to find out about all of the features that are hidden in the
software - the users forums are a great help on this. I remember when
AutoDesk wanted to cancel their user's forum and their MVP users decided
to keep it alive so as to support all of the users who complained about
the possible loss of support. It only takes some dedicated people to
keep a good idea alive and to prevent orphaned software. The same was
found with the Excel spreadsheet forums that were in jeopardy of being
lost. If someone wants to volunteer time and web space to helping
others, those that need it will end up flocking to the place. I happen
to be hooked on programmable remote controls for my home theater and
other TV's, DVD and VCR's throughout the house. I found for less than
$30.00 I could find a remote (the One for All Remotes) that will allow
you to hook up a cable to your computer and change the configuration of
the remote buttons to service all of the features of every media device
in your home including X10 home automation. A small group of Hackers
started the JP1 forum on Yahoo and now moved it to a site called Remote
Central (http://www.remotecentral.com) that provides free software and
maintains a library of advanced codes for most electronic devices that
are controlled by their own remotes. The One for All, Universal Remotes
such as those sold by Radio Shack and others are all programmable and
these guys are doing it for the challenge and to provide support to a
small group of addicts like me. My point is that software need not be
orphaned and there are always those zealots like me to keep the support
alive. Your dad's headaches would have been solved if he knew where to
obtain the answers.

In short - this isn't a Microsoft issue, it is an AutoDesk issue related
to upgrade now or pay the price. However, this does not mean that the
software becomes orphaned as the AutoCad user groups and discussion
forums will most likely keep each version alive for a long time to come.
True, few people would be using Version 2.5 (the first AutoCad version I
started with) but this doesn't mean that if you had a question on using
the software an answer could not be found.

I have been disappointed with other software that continues to try and
renew member information to keep using the software. Keymark requires
the user to renew (no cost) their license every 63 days - and I stopped
using Keymark products. I received a notice that a software developer
has just completed their Internet based software access - you do the
calculations online and have no software to load - only a serial number
or license to use the software. Boy this scares the hell out of me. What
if I let the license lapse and need to change something that is two
years old? Do I have to pay to make the change or am I protected? Is it
a money issue or does the developer believes it is the best way to go
because they can constantly upgrade the software without sending out
patches? If this is the case, when will you know you have an inaccurate
analysis - before or after it is submitted and how much work will you
need to do to correct the error? If a program changes daily, is the
printout compatible with what's been done before? 

All of these questions lead us to how we will address our software needs
in the future. When I purchased AutoCad Architectural Desktop 2 it was
somewhere around #3,000.00 retail and cost me $1,500.00 for an upgrade
from a prior version, now the retail price is up to $5,200.00 and is it
worth it - not to me as I don't use most of the features, but I rely on
AEC (the old Softdesk add-on) that is no longer part of the newer
package. Also, I don't want to change over to a new proprietary DWG
format when I can simply give my current DWG format to almost anyone
using software and have some or most compatibility. AutoDesk is making
us pay the penalty for protecting their proprietary format that would be
best if it were compatible with other CAD software. Their response has
been that DXF is available but we all know that we lose something in the
translation with DXF.

This reminds me of the evolution from Toyota's Corolla when it was the
lowest priced car in the line. Each year new features were added and
soon a lower priced car replaced the Corolla until it became more of a
luxury filled midsize car. This is when I decided to keep my cars and
get rid of that new car addiction. It never felt better than to have two
cars that I own nothing on and have years of service left. I just wish
software would follow the same course and provide me with protections
rather than sales gimmicks and fear factors.

Enough for a Saturday night - Gandalf was at the opening of the last
Lord of the Rings movie fund raiser in Palm Springs last night. $50.00 a
ticket but I did not go. Still, I was pleased to find out how visitor
friendly Gandalf was to those who showed up just to meet Ian
McClellan(?). Seems that he is a real person who appreciates his
audience and enjoyed the experience. I have a great deal of respect for
actors who don't think they are above their audience. I have often
thought that the real hero's of film have been the directors and authors
of the stories they bring to the screen. Actor's are normally secondary
until you find one who is gracious about personal appearances.

I'm waiting for December 17th - on the 16th I'll sit through both prior
DVD so as to try and maintain the continuity. I loved the books and this
movie, albeit lacking some good parts from the book, is a very good
rendition of the Trilogy. I just wish it would have started with the
Hobbit.

Regards,
Dennis 

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu] 
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 7:16 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Paper Space - was: Engineering Education Reply to Bill P.
from Gerard

Dennis,

See comments inserted below:


On Fri, 5 Dec 2003, Dennis Wish wrote:

> One final bitch - AutoDesk will no longer support Autocad 2000 AEC
after
> mid-December or January. I have been getting ads from my Autocad
dealer
> that if I upgrade to AEC 2004 it will cost me $1,800.00 +/- but if I
> wait until after January (or whatever the date it) I will have to buy
a
> new station for $5,200.00 (+/-). This is a rip off and a royal insult.
> However, the question is how long Windows platform upgrades will
support
> the older version of AutoCad. I don't want to upgrade. I tried 2002
and
> hated it. I would move to another program, but I like the 2000 AEC
> package - I'm comfortable with it and can produce drawings the way I
> like them. I don't want to be forced into spending money on the threat
> that the operating system in the future may not support the older
> version. Most of you who have installed 2000 AEC on an XP machine
> understand. You can do it, but you need to identify the installation
> program in XP's Compatibility Mode. If this will work for the next ten
> years, then I will refuse to change. If not then I'll start looking at
a
> less expensive CAD system to move to. There should be no time limit on
> upgrades - this is extortion in my book.

What you don't like that wonderful Micro$oft tactic?  The whole "you
better upgrade now cause we are going to raise the price if you don't"
is
something that we have Micro$oft to thank for (at least they have been
the
most vocal or most press covered entity doing it).  It is something that
has arisen because they realize that some of their products really don't
have enough commonly used features to justify people upgrading.  So
people
don't want to upgrade, so Micro$oft and others are trying to come up
with
other ways to keep the revenue stream flowing.

>
> Sorry, but every time a company refuses to support their product after
a
> number of years, we are forced to buy something more than we need.
> Fortunately, I have the disks and don't need to register online to
keep
> using the product. Watch out for those products that take this choice
> away from you.
>
> Dennis
>

On fundamental level, I agree with you.  Many times I find no real need
to
upgrade the OS or key programs cause I will not likely use the "new"
features.  A prime example of this is Retrospect (a backup program).  I
use it to back up my dad's computer.  He is currently at version 6.0.
At
one point he was at version 5.0, which was working more than fine.  Had
all the features that a single user with a single computer needed.  But
then, he upgrade to Windoze XP.  Retrospect would not longer work.  He
needed to upgrade to version 6.0 to get it to work with Windoze XP.
Never
mind the fact that he did not really need ANY of the new features in
version 6 (all of which were really aimed at large computer setups that
automated backing up across a network).  Now, he is at 6.0 but got a new
computer that has a new DVD burner in it to use for backup rather than
my
SCSI Tarvan tape drive.  But, they no longer "support" version 6, but
rather are at 6.5.  So they only provide driver updates for newer backup
devices for version 6.5.  So, in order for him to backup to his DVD
burner, he will have to upgrade to version 6.5 even though he needs NONE
of the new features.

OTOH, I can see the practical side of the issue from the software
companies point of view.  First, they don't want to be supporting
multiple
versions of the software.  It sucks up resources and money.  After all,
I
am sure that you don't like the idea of having to "support" the design
of
structural systems per the 1994 UBC, the 1997 UBC, the 2000 IBC, the
2003
IBC, the 1996 BOCA code, the 1993 BOCA code, the 1990 BOCA code, etc.
That would mean more codes that you have to be "current" with.  Now, add
to that the fact the some (but not all) users want/need and will use
some
of the new features.  Take M$ Office 2003.  The biggest "new" features
in
the collaboration/XML stuff.  Most don't give a rat's tushie about it,
but
there are those who will use it a lot.

And that leads to the bottom line.   Money.  Money.  Money.  It takes
money for companies to support their product, but how do most of these
companies get their money...by selling new licenses or upgrades.  This
puts me in a little of a bind.  As I said, I agree with you on this
issue
from a fundamental/theoretical point of view.  But, then I also believe
that if I pay a "significant" amount of money that entitles me to free
support from the company.  But, if EVERYONE does that but does not buy
upgrades...at some point the company does not have enough money to
continue to provide free support to me on my older version of the
software.  Thus, the reason companies have started charging for
case-by-case support or yearly maintance/support fees (both of which I
am
not too fond of).  Some companies do this well.  I have no problem with
paying a yearly maintance fee to RISA or the makers of TEDDS.  They
support their products well.  I have issues with the way that Micro$oft
and even Apple deal with support issues, even when you pay.  I don't
mind
the pay per incident concept too much, but many companies even charge
you
if it turns out to be a BUG with their program.  This is where I
DEFINITELY have a problem...too many software companies take the
attitude
that once the software is out our door, it is no longer our problem.  If
there is a bug, that means that you have to pay to upgrade.  Uh, no.  I
paid decent money for a working product, which means I expect to get a
working product that supplies the features advertised.

Regards,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI


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