Thursday, December 08, 2005

New CADD Site

A couple of weeks ago I became aware of a new CADD Website that deals mainly with MicroStation but also covers a lot of general CADD topics.

The Name of the site is:

Eat Your CAD and it’s URL is

Check it out when you get a chance you won’t be sorry.

Friday, October 21, 2005

TiddlyWikis and CADD

Every major CADD program on the market that I am aware of is “Internet Aware” now exactly what this means and what value it actually adds is anybody’s guess.  I recently gave a presentation on applying internet technologies to CADD and Engineering and I think several of these technologies could prove very useful to both individuals and organizations.  (If you missed it you can download from the sidebar.)

One of the technologies I talked about was a WIKI.  I recently came across a variation of this technology after reading a post on Joel Orr’s PLM blog.  This variation is known as a TiddlyWiki.  While a regular Wiki requires a web server and a database.  TiddlyWiki requires only a browser (either Firefox or IE 6.0>) to work properly.  Exactly what is a TiddlyWiki?  I guess you could say it is a webpage on steroids.  By using JavaScript you have basically a self hyper-linking, free form database contained inside a single webpage.  I know it sounds a bit strange but take some time and check out a few of the various flavors … I think you will be astonished.  

The place to begin is the  TiddlyWiki home site at  

You will be glad you did

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Observations from Bismarck

The 46th annual Highway Engineering Exchange Program International Conference is History. I would like to congratulate the North Dakota DOT, HEEP President Diane Gunsch and her staff for putting on a wonderful conference. Not only did they take great care of the conference delegates but they put on a top notch technical program as well.

So what was everyone talking about at HEEP? One word – GOOGLE.

More specifically GOOGLE EARTH. If you haven’t looked at it RUN don’t walk to the nearest browser and take a look at it. It is truly amazing. How do they do it? More importantly how do they make money? Not only is the product amazing in it’s own right but it can be “hacked” very easily to make it do what you want it to. It can become with a little work your own FREE personal GIS. Dilip Dasmohapatra from the Alberta DOT showed me how he was able to use GOOGLE Earth to display, locate and do a fly around of any bridge in the Alberta bridge database by just typing in a bridge number. If I was ERSI I would be worried to say the least.

Next thing people were talking about – The Old Days.

More specifically we miss the competition between CACIE, Intergraph, GEOPAK, and Bentley that we had at HEEPs past. Now that Bentley owns all the civil design packages that are worth anything we are basically at their mercy. Some of you who aren’t involved in the highway design world might say, what about Autodesk? (They did buy CACIE). In the highway design world AutoDesk isn’t even an also ran. Their new Civil 3D product looks interesting but since it can’t (or won’t) read and write MicroStation dgn files, they don’t stand a chance in this market. Unfortunately for AutoDesk highway design is STILL ALL ABOUT THE DATA Files.

If all the vendors would agree on using and supporting a single XML standard then maybe we would be able to select software on the basis of features, performance and support. But I won’t be holding my breath.

Talking about XML if you want to what a single XML standard could look like then check out the TRB TransXML Project NCHRP 20-64 at:

That’s it for now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Top of the HEEP

If you aren’t doing anything the week of September 10-16, 2005 you might want to think about spending a little time in Bismarck, North Dakota at the 46th annual Highway Engineering Exchange Program International Conference. It is a cozy little gathering of 300 or so highway engineers and information technologists talking about using computer technology, to design, build, and maintain our nation’s highways and byways.

If you want to know how the Departments of Transportation in the United States, Canada and Europe are applying computer technologies to civil and highway engineering then there ISN’T A BETTER CONFERENCE IN THE WORLD. In fact if you just want to find out how to use CADD and talk to people who use, manage and live it then Bismarck is the place for you. Don’t take my word for it come and see for your self you won’t regret it.

For more information visit the HEEP website at or the 2005 International Meeting’s website at . If that isn’t enough I’ll be giving two wonderful and thought provoking presentations that you can’t see anywhere else. Hope to see you there.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Standards, standards and standards

The funny thing about standards is that there are so many. Except when you need to find some.

I've found CADD standards are a little like that. Everybody seems to have them but can you find them? In the "old days" most of us keep our "CADD standards" in a 3-ring notebook or some other type of binder. While these "standards"were easy to use and generally find they were (still are) a pain to keep up to date.

Along came the web and voila out went the book. We couldn't wait to get everything out on the internet. The problem is that while this made the distribution of our standards easier it made them a bit more difficult to use. Now instead of reaching for the "manual" you had to connect to the web (assuming the network was up). Now while I still prefer the "written word" we still have the same problem we had before -- How to keep the stuff up to date?

There has to be a good, easy and affordable way to create, collect, DOCUMENT and maintain cadd standards for publishing in both electronic or paper form. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In State Outsourcing

It's funny you can't pick up a newspaper or magazine these days and not see an article about some company outsourcing this or that service to India or some offshore country. What's even funnier (if it wasn't so sad) is that you never read about an organization or business using the tools that make outsourcing possible to make their organization or business more competitive and productive.

For example say you have an open engineering position in the capital city of a state yet the best candidate for the position lives 200 miles away in another part of the state. Let’s also say that the person wants the job but for various reasons doesn't want to move. Should he or she have to? In today’s world I don’t see why it would be a requirement. Unless the job demands that you be in a specific location 24/7 (like running a hotdog stand) and you can always move the hotdog stand. Just about any “professional” engineering or computer job can now be done from just about anywhere. Given a high speed internet connection, a phone and the proper software you can do design and programming work from just about anywhere. For that matter you can manage hundreds of people doing just about anything from anywhere you want to. The days of looking out the office window to make sure everyone has his or her head down over a drafting board is long gone.

So the next time you think read an article about outsourcing this or that job give some thought by how you can take advantage of the tools and technology of outsourcing to expand your staff and fill vacancies while keeping the jobs and experience “AT HOME” or at least in the same state.

We all talk about the “virtual organization” it’s time to start building them!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

What ever happened to manuals?

I'm sitting in front of my trusty Dell with an old digital Pentium 11 laptop sitting beside me running a CD version of Damn Small Unix (DSL) trying download a copy of open office to try and run on the laptop from a pen drive.

I got to thinking "Whatever happened to manuals?

Anybody know? Back when I first got started in CADD with and Intergraph VAX and Clipper workstations everything had a manual. The hardware manuals for the VAX and Clippers were volumous. So were the original manuals for IGDS, MicroStation and Autocad. Now, if it wasn't for windows help there would be no help at all ( which there isn't).

Now it seems that everything is either available on-line or in .pdf format. What are you suppose to do if your network connection isn't working or you don't have one? How about getting adobe to work properly these days?

Is it to much to ask that every program come with a least ONE Reference Set of Manuals? I mean when you are paying $4000.00 a copy for CADD software is that to much to ask? No one has any trouble printing and including a EULA inside the box -- Do they? If it is a matter of cost pass it along. Since manuals have vanished from the packages I haven't notice any decrease in price to compensate for the omission -- Have you?

Just something to think about the next time you have CADD problem....

Saturday, May 21, 2005

How this blog thing works

Now that I have my own BLOG "What to do...What to do..."

What I hope to do is add my two cents what is going on with CADD and how engineers are using technology in the real world. Or at least in my part of that world - Highway and Bridge engineering.

Now while I'm a bit new to this "blog thing" I do occasionally give presentations ( the latest was in May at the HEEP Area V /TEM meeting in Lithuania) and have written a few articles over the years dealing with the use of CADD and Technology. If you would like to check a few of them out visit the PC Trans website.

So Stay tuned I think this is going to be fun....

Friday, May 20, 2005

First Post

Welcome to my blog. I've been meaning to set one up for a while and finally got around to doing it. As the saying goes

...And So It Begins...