Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

My last post was about a month ago so since I have a bit of time I figured I post something.  While October was a pretty busy month as I noted in my last post.  November has been more laid back.  Other than Thanksgiving the biggest event was the first North Carolina Local User Group (NCLUG) meeting in Raleigh.  Gave a short presentation on MicroStation XM/V8i (online at which went pretty well.  The meeting it self was a great success.  We had over 60 attendees and I think everyone had a good time.  Hopefully our February meeting will be as well attended.

Other big news is that I finally got a Google Wave account.  Now just need some people to "wave" at.  I have some invitations so if you would like to wave with me about this blog or other things let me know.  Wave is very interesting but it takes some getting use to.  question is - what is it?  Super email,  a wiki on steriods?  What?  Whatever it is it is interesting and I think it can become a great collaboration too. 

Other than that hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October is almost over.

It has been a busy, busy month (actually 5 weeks). Two "major" conferences, two weeks of training, and a NASCAR race have made for a busy "month". First the Conferences. I attended the 51st annual International Highway Engineers Exchange Program (IHEEP) conference in San Antonio, Texas Sept 21-October 1. It was my 20th consecutive IHEEP conference and one of the most enjoyable. The Texas Department of Transportation really knows how to put on an enjoyable and professional conference.

To see what went on this years meeting check out the following links:

The PowerPoint presentations from the conference have now been posted on the TXDOT web site and can be accessed from the following link .

The pictures taken by TxDOT photographers throughout the conference have been posted on Flickr:

main page:
page with pictures sorted by event:

Check these links out when you get a chance and don't forget next year's conference will be hosted by the Michigan DOT in Dearborn, September 26-30, 2010. It's not to soon to start making plans to attend. Check out the conference website at

The other conference I attended was the Bentley Roads & Bridges conference held last week (Oct. 19-21) in Charlotte, NC. While it was a bit cooler than usual in Charlotte the conference was 'hot".
Bentley kept the delegates feed, hydrated and busy for a solid 2 1/2 days. Every session and workshop I attended not only was informative but interesting as well. This was Bentley's first conference where all the Road and Bridges products met together. InRoads, GEOPAK and MX users finally got together and see how the other "half" works. Bentley is in process of combining it's three
Road Design products in one Bentley Civil Product and it seems to be going pretty well. I can't wait to get my hands on the MicroStation Civil release of V8i SS1.

As for the 2 weeks of training I attended a Roadway modeler class in Raleigh and taught a GEOPAK class to some our GEOTECH users in Harrisburg, NC.

The race in Charlotte was fun but COLD. While it did rain a bit at the race we didn't get wet, which was good because we probably would have froze to our seats if we had.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sun virtual box, Windows 7 and Ubuntu too

I writing this entry via Firefox running under Windows 7 evaluation copy, build 7100, within Sun's Virtual Box 3.0 on my dell inspiron 530 running XP. Now that is a mouthful if I do say so myself. Additionally I can also fire up Ubuntu 8.10 or 9.04, run a Joomla or Wordpress virtual appliance either at the same time or by themselves. Just a few short years ago that would have taken at least 4 different PC a server and all the networking stuff to connect them. Now I can run them all on one PC. Amazing and relatively easy.

The question I have is - If I can do all of this on my "home pc" without spending a cent why can't companies like Bentley, Autodesk or Trimble provide me with functional easy to use virtual applications for CADD.

For example how about a Plotting appliance that I could set up anywhere to handle work group or office plotting. How about a project/file management or survey management tool that I could run under what ever OS I want to, be it Linux, Window or Mac OS?

Why do survey data collectors cost thousands of dollars when I can get a netbook for $250 that is 2 or 3 times more powerful and versatile than any data collector on the market. Not only that but I can buy 4 or 5 for the cost of one data collector! Am I the only one that sees this or am I missing something? With the economy the way it is and the need to "do a lot more with a lot less" why aren't there any "engineering netbooks"?

Something to think about...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Facebook, Twitter and DOTs

Departments of Transportation's like most large organizations are slow to change and even slower it seems at embracing new technology.  The question I would like to pose is "Can DOTs use Facebook and Twitter (or technologies like them) to improve internal and external communication?"

The answer is.....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Busy Month

It has been over a month since I have posted anything to R cubed so I guess I should bring you up to date.  So far June has been a pretty busy month.  Visited an old high school buddy in New Orleans and attended the HEEP Area II meeting in Baton Rouge, LA where I gave a presentation on DOT's use of the Internet and what the future holds.  Attended my parents 50th wedding anniversary in Wheeling, WV this past weekend and got to see a lot of relatives that I haven't seen in several years.  Funny in this time of instant communication how easy it is to not keep up with one's extended family.

Back at the office the NCDOT is making plans to upgrade our 1500 CADD machines to MicroStation V8i and all the software that goes with it.  In addition we are fighting our Security people over how tight they are locking down the Departments XP images and  registry access.  In addition we are not only upgrading our existing software from MicroStation V8 to V8i but we are also "upgrading" a portion of our CADD PCs from windows 2000 to XP.  I know welcome to 21st century...

Along with that I have been messing around with Sun's soon to be Oracle's VirtualBox software to run Ubuntu and Window 7 along with windows 2000 and XP.  Pretty cool product.  Additionally I have also become a regular Facebook user and a part time twitter.  Which I am finding to be interesting tools to say the least.  I've always said that the internet is about communication and these products are proving the point (just ask the Iranians).

Well that's a quick wrap up of what I've been up to.  Now I need to figure out a simple, easy yet readable way to display a series of annual reports on the HEEP website.  Also don't forget to Buy Understanding Microstation V8 XM in 2D: A Basic Guide FOR XM and V8i Users. from Stipes Publishing.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buy This Book

If you are looking for a book new CADD book to read (with lots of pictures and arrows) then look no farther than the new, (hopefully to be best seller) from Karen Coen-Brown and Randall J. Robinson (that's me) - Understanding Microstation V8 XM in 2D: A Basic Guide FOR XM and V8i Users.

It is available now from Stipes Publishing for the amazing low price of $49.80. For more details and to order a copy visit

or contact

Stipes Publishing L.L.C.
204 W. University Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
P.O Box 526
Champaign IL 61824-0526

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Conferences and Cost

Well 2009 is really starting to take it's toll on conferences. Last month Bentley canceled the BE Conference that was scheduled to be held this May in Charlotte, NC. Which really sucks since Charlotte is just down the road from my house and I was looking forward to attending.

Then a couple of days ago I received a email for Paul Fort in NJ informing me (and others) that the HEEP Area I meeting that was being planned for June was canceled mainly due to State DOT Travel Restrictions. Which is a short sighted shame (not on Area I's part, but on the states). Bentley also cited the travel restrictions as a reason for the BE cancellation also. (Although I think it may have been a money saving thing for Bentley not its customers).


It is a shame that agencies, organizations and company's cut back on travel and training when the economy is down. You would think it would be just the opposite since their work loads are down they would have time to train, learn new skills and make personal contacts, which will help them thrive in the future. But that makes a bit to much sense I guess.

So what is your organization doing, building for the future or hunkering down for the quarter?

P.S. check out HEEP.ORG the Area II and International meetings are still on and you won't find a better conference deal anywhere...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Night

Seems like Sunday evening is one of those times that I actually get a chance to "play" around on the computer.  Today I have installed Ubuntu 8.10 on a virtual machine on my PC.  Pretty cool actually, I used Sun xVM VirtualBox to create and ubuntu virtual machine (PC) and installed Ubuntu 8.10 linux on it.  SEEMS to Work well and was very little hassle to install.  I used Ubuntu as my main operating system on an old PC about 2 years ago but switched back to XP to help update a MicroStation book.  Anyway I had been wanting to get back to playing with linux and the VirtualBox seemed like the way to do it.  I'll try and keep everyone posted.

Also today I converted two albums I had on cassettes to mp3s.  While it takes a bit of time it is pretty easy.  Just pop the cassette into a portable player, connect it to my PCs line in and fire up Audacity and hit play.  Once the cassette is done I label the tracks and save them to the hard drive.  Wish there was a quicker way but it works.  Only have another couple hundred cassettes and albums to convert.

Finally spent some time on Facebook,  while I think it has a lousy interface it is a useful way to keep in touch with friends and family.  BTW I have created a HEEP Group on Facebook to try and keep up with my fellow HEEPers.  If you get a chance check it out.  

That's if for now...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Versions

Hard to believe that it is already the middle of February.  It seems like Christmas was just a couple of weeks ago and now it's tax time.  So what is happening these days?  In the CADD world Bentley has released MicroStation V8i and Autodesk just released AutoCad 2010.  So everyone has good bit of updating and testing to do.  It looks like AutoCAD 2010 adds some new features but continues on with most of the 2009 interface in tack. 

Likewise MicroStation V8i continues the interface enhancements from MicroStation XM.  This will cause a lot of state DOTs some problems since I would say the majority of them are still using MicroStation V8.  So those moving to V8i over the next year are going to have their hands full.  Learning the XM interface and the V8i enhancements.  Hopefully the gains will be worth the pain. 

Likewise, GEOPAK users will also have the addition of the InRoads roadway modeler to GEOPAK to deal with.  Which while it will cause a bit of a workflow change but I think most people with find it a worthwhile one (guess templates won out in the end).

At least we won't have to worry about a new operating system introduction for a while.