Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Desktop Capture

The desktop screen capture in the sidebar is courtesy of a fun free utility I have been playing with called SCWebcam.  Think of this as a combination of Snag-it and a webcam but for your computer desktop. 

Here are a couple of the listed features that I find very useful:
  • Automatic capture and FTP Upload with configurable timer
  • Improved configuration interface, and far more human-readable error messages
  • Saves image as JPG or PNG with variable quality, size, and thumbnail functionality. Choice of several image resize engines to balance quality with speed, and image can be sized by percentage or absolute pixel size
  • Optionally minimizes to the system tray, with visible countdown
  • Detects screen saver, locked workstation, and logoff/shutdown, and can upload an 'offline' image at those times
  • Capture can run in several reduced priority modes to minimize the impact to your system - good for games!
  • Autorun and Autostart available through configuration switches
  • Text caption with selectable font, color and location
  • Ability to capture the Desktop (including translucent windows), only the Active Window, and/or Still Video Frames from a Video-For-Windows compliant webcam or other capture device (such as TV card)
  • Ability to run in local mode without FTP upload step
  • Built-in WWW server - serve your desktop or even a small web page right from your own PC!
  • Full scripting system allows complete flexibility over the image processing and upload steps. Several sample scripts are provided for those not interested in writing their own.

    I plan to keep the images updating a few times daily and the webcam will be coming back soon...

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


This is a quick tip for those who wish to use Mental Ray materials in VIZ 2005. 

In order to take advantage of using the Mental Ray materials from the browswer you must enable the mental ray extension (off by default). 

To enable this go to the Customize>>Preferences... menu, mental ray tab and check the following:

happy rendering...

Monday, July 26, 2004

Walking woes

Bad combination does this make:
1 pair new shoes (worn 3 days)
1 very rainy day
1 soccer match without substitutes

results = blisters with lacerations the size of silver dollars on both heels...

I will spare you the picture(s) but the skin got me thinking about the many different textures skin can take on.  Character modeling and rendering has so many additional items to worry about than straight architectural modeling and rendering...

And for your blister care try the following link.

Monday, July 19, 2004

AutoCAD Blocks

Do you use acad blocks? Do you use the same blocks in multiple drawings? Ever need to update the blocks?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions then this posting is for you. I recently gave a refresher/updated materials course for a few AutoCAD users and part of this involved different methods of using blocks and redefining existing definitions in different drawings. If you need to accomplish this here are a few examples of ways to accomplish this:

1. The ability to have a block in a drawing and manipulate the block(s) by redefining/changing all instances can be done with the refedit command, or by recreating the block and using the same block name. This will update all the blocks in the current drawing of the same name.

2. If you are defining your linework for an object to become a block in an external file you can use the "insert" command with the browse option to choose the external file to override blocks in your drawing of the same name. If this is not working the most likely issue is that the file was wblocked out as a block to a file of the same name. If so explode the block in the external file to simple linework and purge the block from this drawing and save the file. The insert command>>browse option will now insert the file as desired.

3. If you are wblocking information out to an external file or block library as blocks and not linework you can use DesignCenter (Ctrl + 2) to redefine blocks in your drawing. To accomplish this open DesignCenter and browse using the folder tab to the file and expand the sub-files and select the blocks option. Nowright click the block you wish to redefine in your current file and choose "Redefine only" to update the block definition. You can use the "Ctrl + Tab" and/or "Ctrl + Shift + Tab" key combinations to cycle through open drawings and repeat as needed.

4. Of course for those of you who would rather type, script or use lisp you can still use the alternative -insert with the = option (-insert , ExistingBlockname=path of drawing and FileName, choose "yes" to redefine the existing blocks in the drawing).
Example -insert, MyBlock=C:\WorkingFiles\MyBlock.dwg which will replace all instances of the block "MyBlock" with the information from the drawing "MyBlock.dwg". This is very similar to Step 2 above and has the same limitations of requiring linework only in this file.

*5. Of course you could always use a small bit of lisp code to swap one block out for another, courtesy of David.

(princ "\n SWAPBLK")
(setvar "cmdecho" 0)
(setvar "osmode" 0)
(prompt "\nSelect blocks to be swapped to another:")
(setq SELECTIONSET (ssget) COUNT 0)
(setq NBLK (getstring "\nName of swapping block:"))
(repeat (sslength SELECTIONSET)
(setq ELIST (entget BLOCK))
(setq ELIST (subst (cons 2 NBLK)(assoc 2 ELIST) ELIST))
(entmod ELIST)
(entupd BLOCK)
(setq COUNT (+ COUNT 1))
(princ "\nSWAPBLK loaded.")

This should help you to understand a few of the many ways to use blocks more effectively in AutoCAD.

Happy cadding...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

EVAUG - July Meeting

The Eastern Virginia AutoCAD Users Group next meeting will be July 14, 2004.


6:30-6:50pm - Meet & Greet - We will start the meeting off with some food and drinks. This is a great chance to see old friends and meet other CAD users from area companies.

6:50-7:00pm - Introduction to the Group

7:00-7:30pm - Topic #1 - AutoCAD 2004/2005 - Tool Palettes- You may have seen this at the demo's, or seen others using it but wondered how the tool palettes work and how you can customize and use them to their full potential. If so then this session is for you.

7:30-7:40pm - Short Break - This is a chance to chat, eat, stretch and/or carry on a corner discussion.

7:45-8:30pm - Topic #2 - Building Systems - Part 1 of a 3 part series. This first session is a presentation highlighting the major aspects of the Autodesk Building Systems program

8:30-8:35pm - Wrap Up, Prize Giveaways and Dismiss

Thanks to everyone who supports and attends these meetings, the EVAUG would not continue to grow in its current direction without your active participation.

Task Manager

I mentioned many months back a few products I use for time management. With most of the consulting and freelance work I do MS Project would be way overkill as a simple spread sheet would suffice.

Creating a task list is simple and in only minutes each day allows you to look back to see exactly where your time has gone. If you do rendering or animations, even part time, and are not tracking exactly how much time you are spending on each task you should really consider this step to accurately gauge how much time similar jobs will really take. More on this in a future post...

Behind the scenes I have been using a great product from Safari Software called Masterlist.

They are getting ready to release Masterlist Professional and it is in beta right now. If you are interested in testing this product, visit this section of the site.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Books and learning

As you have probably noticed by now I have have been updating the look of the blog, more to come over time like all great things. In doing this I have also added a link to the side called "reading" to track my choices and selections in reading material.

Speaking of books I received a brown wrapper package from Thomson Distribution Center that contained Illustrated AutoCAD 2005 Quick Reference, unfortunately the package only contained the book and nothing else.

I have an older illustrated guide from Ralph(R-12 Dos era) that was/is a great resource and after years of use is tattered and torn, this new one will make a great updated resource. To the individual(s) who sent this, thank you.

happy reading...

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Animation School...

I mentioned it briefly before but here is a little more indepth information about Animation Mentor.

Coming soon...

Monday, July 05, 2004

Input this...

As you know I love testing, using and playing with a host of different technology devices as $$$ permits (hint to companies looking for someone to test/play with cool gadgets, e-mail me). =)

Well the floppy keyboard has been replaced by a standard keyboard and as far as input devices go I have used everything from tablets (3 button - 16 button pucks), numerous roller/track ball input devices, pen input, etc... Well a buddy recently brought me back an gift from the AIA show in Chicago, an "Autodesk Mini Optical Mouse", complete with a roller wheel and more...

The image below shows a few of the devices I use on a typical basis (Wacom tablet, Microsoft trackball). I threw my hand in there for a scale comparison to show the size of the mini-mouse (tiny device on the left).

Well at first I laughed when LC gave it to me, but after his persistance in trying to get me to use it for 2 hours I finally gave in. The first 30 minutes was strange as it is quite small, but after another hour of working I did not notice the size being an issue. Now a week + later I just realized that the only other input devices I have used is my tablet for sketching/graphic touch-up. The other cool item about this device is that it has a retractable cord (see the silver item at the top of the picture), this also detaches completely from the mouse for storage/travel too.

I checked the Autodesk Store, but cannot find these for sale anywhere. If you have a few and would like to get rid of them or know where I can get more for my LUG, drop me an e-mail.

happy inputting...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

CAD Background Fun

Ran across this cool tip from CAD Forum. Not only gradients but also images...

Thanks to Dylan for being my cad background for this example... =)

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