Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

Another year is winding down and I just want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As a little "present" for my faithful readers (you know who you are...even if I don't) check out the new Bentley Community Web site at I think it is going to be a pretty good place to hang out in the new year. So see you around the web.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Where are the MicroStation Blogs

Ever notice that there are a lot of AutoCad blogs and not many MicroStation blogs? With the end of Autodesk University in Las Vegas there are lots of blogs out there talking about what went on. After the Be Conference I didn't see but one or two.

I guess my point is why does Autodesk sponsor corporate blogs while Bentley doesn't seem to care about them? Now maybe there are a bunch of MicroStation Blogs out there that I haven't seen so if anyone knows of any let me know, I'd like read them.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

A HEEP of things

The 2007 International Highway Engineers exchange program (HEEP) concluded last Thursday night and I’m just now getting a chance while I wait for may daughter to finish her weekly piano lesson. 396 attendees saw a variety of excellent presentations that ran the gambit ffrom CADD usage to Xerox plotting solutions. As usual a great time (see pictures) was had by all and a whole bunch of information was exchanged in both formal and informal settings.

First, I would want to congratulate Ms. Diane Gunsch as being the recipient of the 2007 Ken Close Award which can be given by the HEEP President to anyone he or she considers a person who represents the ideas, philosophy and mission of the HEEP organization. Diane has exemplified what HEEP stands for as a member, area director, HEEP president, ESP director and most of all a good friend. So Diane, congratulations again, on being the 2007 Ken Close award winner and welcome to the club.

So other than Diane’s award what went on tat HEEP his year? From my view the two hot topics this year are - Automated Machine Control and 3-D Design. With every session of these topics well if not over attended. This really isn't surprising since the “3D issue” has been festering for a while (come to think of it for as long as I have been involved with cadd – now going on 20+ years). The funny thing is that a lot of smart people thought we put this issue to bed in the mid 90's with the GEOPAK vs. InRoads debate. Guess what it looks like the 3-D philosophy of Inroads won and it is leaving the GEOPAK states with painful choices about which direction they need to go. The choices that I see are.

1. Hang on to GEOPAK make due and hope the product changes
2. Hang on till Bentley delivers a “NEW” civil product (possibly Power Civil XM)
3. Switch to InRoads
4. Or the most radical one - Switch to Autodesk 3-D and AutoCAD...

All of these will cause great amounts of Pain for the DOTs use and our engineering groups that currently rely on Geopak to produce “plans". The question that we will be asking is what level of pain can we accept and where do we see our organizations and the highway industry going. I feel this is last time we are going to get this chance to decide before outside forces decide for us. We live in interesting times....

In addition to the 3-D design discussions there was a lot of talk about how the move to 3-D will effect the organizational, professional and legal aspects (if any) for our staffs, our organizations and the public.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A HEEP of information

The 48th annual Highway Engineers Exchange Program (HEEP) International meeting is less than three weeks away. I can't recommend this conference strongly enough. If you work in the areas of Highway and Bridge design, construction or maintenance and having even a passing interest in computers and technology, then this is a conference YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS.

The 2007 conference is being hosted by the NY State DOT and the NY thruway Authority in Albany, New York September 15-20. The conference theme is - "Promoting Advances in Transportation Technology." Here are just a few of the many interesting and diverse presentations at this years conference:

Emerging Technology and the Implications for State and Local Government
- Tom Cowper, NYS Office for Technology, Statewide Wireless Network

3D Models for Machine Guidance Systems
-Ryan Forrestel, Cold Spring Construction

Practical Experiences with Terrestrial Based LiDAR
-Michael Loose, PennDOT

BRASS-PIER(LRFD) analysis/design program

-Micheal J. Watters, Wyoming DOT

Use of 3D Model with On-Site for Inspection
-Phil Klimczak, NYSDOT, Kevin Jackson, Bentley

And even yours truly is doing a little presentation entitled

When Jumping Over the Moon Watch out for Asteroids

Please come and see these and many other presentation on the use of computers by the North American and European Departments & Ministries of Transportation. YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Buddy can you spare a floppy drive?

Saw this posting on Evans Yares blog (EvanYarescom) and it got me to thinking (again)....

The Ticking Time Bomb

BBC News reports:

"The growing problem of accessing old digital file formats is a "ticking
time bomb", the chief executive of the UK National Archives has warned.

Natalie Ceeney said society faced the possibility of "losing years of critical
knowledge" because modern PCs could not always open old file formats."

How many of you out there truly think all your stored data is safe? Even if your hard drives don't fail, how long will your tapes and CDs, DVD last? Or even a better question -- will you have any computers that will be able to read the media your data is now stored on?-- in 10 years? how about 20? Floppy drives are just about gone, as are omega zip drives. It won't be long till CDRs are just a memory. It is some thing to think about.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Management Back Asswards

It has been said that "education is wasted on the young." In other words when we have the chance to learn and explore the world, we aren't old enough to understand what a great opportunity it really is. Only after we are older do we realize all the things we could of done and learned if we had only known...


I think a corollary of this saying should be "management is wasted on the old." If you look around at any organization you will notice that most the upper management not only is "old" but it looks and thinks remarkably similar. While they all may not be “old white guys” they all seem to think like them.

I find it funny how you can walk into any company or organization in the world and ask the newest employee (after he/she has been there a few weeks) what is wrong with the it and he/she can tell you. But in 20 years time this same employee who is now in management can't.

This is because in general we only promote people who think like ourselves. By the time this young guy is promoted into upper management he is thinking just like the guys who promoted him. I think this is the main reason that the AEC/Highway industry hasn't been able to keep up with the technology. Sure everyone uses CADD today and very few current designer even know what a lead holder is (was). It is also the reason that very few of our senior management and engineers could actually use the tools they buy to design anything.

Because of this we are still printing paper plans and working in two dimensions instead of building from interactive models in three dimensions. I've been working in the Civil CADD area for over 20 odd years and we (with just a few isolated exceptions) are not doing anything with Civil CADD software that we couldn't do 20 years ago. It is such a waste. Just think were we might be today. If only. Am I the only one that feels this way?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ubuntu and things

I have a few minutes so I thought I would test out my new firefox addon called ScribeFire.

I'm using Scribefire running on Firefox running under Ubuntu Linux 6.06lts on an old HP pavilion 7867 computer. You know what?It runs flawlessly. It is faster, more stable and up to date than my main windows xp computer. If you haven't given Linux a spin yet I highly recommend that you download the latest Ubuntu release and give it a try. You will be glad you did. Especially if you need an addtional PC around the house or office to read email and surf the web.

About the only thing I can't do under Ubuntu that I can do under XP is run MicroStaiton or Autocad under it. My question is why not? Especially MicroStation which use to run under a varity of "unix flavors". I would even be happy with a slim down version (aka powerdraft) that would run under linux so that I could run it on slimmed down hardware like Palm's new ultra portable. Be a great cheap way to get MicroStation out into the field at a very competitive price... Anyone listening? I hope so...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

CADD in 2057

For the past several weeks the editor in chief of the Inovate Daily Newletter has been running a series of on again off again articles on the future of CAD in the next 50 years. Since this is the kind of topic I enjoy thinking about I decided to blog about it a bit.

While I don't have the slightest idea what the future holds or where CADD will be in 2057 (for that matter I probably won't be around to care). I think it might be informative to look at where I thought CAD would be today. As the saying goes "those that don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it".

Back in 1987 when I started using, learning, supporting and talking about CAD I thought it would be much different in 20 years than it turned out to be. Other than the improvement in computer technology CAD hasn't changed very much at least in the Highway/AEC business. I have often said we are doing nothing today that we couldn't do 20 years ago... and that is really sad.

20 years ago I thought that by the year 2000 (at the latest) CAD would allow civil engineers to practice what I call "Real Time Engineering". That with the expected advances in technology, hardware and software design highway and bridge projects would be designed, built and managed concurrently. Although we have the technology, what I didn't count on or understand was the nature of the beast.

The Civil Engineering world changes slowly. It is not enough to have the ability to do things you have to have the will and drive to not only use CAD but to apply it. While we have had the CAD and computer technology for over 20 years we have never been able to change the way the Highway/Bridge/AEC community thinks and works. So even with all the wonderful tools we have at our disposal we still basically design and build highways just as we always have.

So I hope that in 50 years my "dream" of real time civil engineering comes true but if history is any indication the CAD systems of 2057 will still be stuck at the turn of the century.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

2007 HEEP Area V

Just back from the HEEP Area V meeting in Budapest Hungary. Where I and my fellow "heepers" had a great time not only visiting, but discussing things with our counterparts from the the TEM Countries. I'll post a bit more later and post up a few more pictures.