Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

“Necessity is the mother of invention”. This phrase rang true for me, or in this case the mother of investigation, when I finally got frustrated enough with time being wasted dealing with an all too common problem of late.  It is AutoCad related so if you have no interest in, or use for AutoCad I won’t be offended if you just skip over this post.

First off, what are AEC Objects and why are they such a problem?  AEC objects are custom objects used in some flavours of AutoCAD to represent items like doors, windows, walls, etc.  When these drawing files are opened in other versions of AutoCAD that don’t use AEC objects these objects are called proxy objects.  Usually a warning box is displayed letting you know of this when you open the dwg file.  The problem is sometimes these proxy objects need to be edited or changed, and the only way to do that is to explode them, which creates its own set of problems.  Typically parts of the proxy disappear.  For instance a wall may have windows and doors embedded in it until you explode it and they disappear and the wall fills in the area the window or door was.  Not good when you don’t notice, or have to redraw them by hand.

This is the problem we were having.  Entities disappearing when we exploded the proxy objects.  We used to be able to save to an earlier version of AutoCad and the objects would be automatically converted to entities but that process no longer worked in the current versions of AutoCad.  As I said, necessity, and frustration caused me to spend a little time investigating since I figured there must be a better way.  Low and behold, enter the EXPORTTOAUTOCAD and AECTOACAD commands. (yeah i know, “enter” – bad pun)

The EXPORTTOAUTOCAD and AECTOACAD commands create a new drawing file and explode all the proxy AEC objects into editable AutoCAD objects.  The information stored within the AEC objects is lost in the new file, but the former AEC objects can now be easily modified and manipulated.

aectoacad
The commands have a number of options you will need to pay attention to:

1.  Filename: This is the name of the new file you are creating.  It’s best to use the Prefix or Suffix options to create a unique filename and avoid overwriting your original file.
2.  Prefix:  Added to the beginning of the filename, the default is “ACAD-” which helps differentiate from the original file.
3.  Suffix:  Appended to the end of the filename, the default is “no suffix” which is what i use.
4.  Format:  File format for the new file. Options are r14, 2000, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013. – typically just select whatever version of Acad you are running.
5.  Bind:  If the Bind setting is set to Yes, Xrefs are bound to the drawing. Blocks, layers,styles etc. are merged into the new file. If set to No, the links to the Xref are retained.
6.  bind Type:  There are two options when the Bind option is set to Yes: Bind and Insert. When Bind Type is set to Bind the Xref name is added to the beginning of block, layer and style names, when Insert is used, the names of blocks, layers and styles are merged into the new drawing.

Hit enter and wait for a few moments (depending upon size of file, number of AEC objects and speed of computer) and presto, all done and ready to be edited and cleaned up as you see fit.

Hopefully this will help some of you who struggle with this issue as we do, or more precisely – did.  It is a definite time-saver, especially with some architects we deal with, and in a business where time is money, saving any time at all is a good thing.  Especially in this world were deadlines have gone from weeks to complete a project, to mere days.  I think it’s a conspiracy by the coffee makers to keep us so busy we have to drink more in order to do our jobs, but that may just be the caffeine talking.

barkerp

laptop-deathknell“So you must have got the 5, how do you like it?”
I looked on confused for a moment,… “Oh, the iPhone 5, yeah I did.”
In a world where tech moves so quickly being asked about a product I’d been using for more than a couple of weeks caught me off guard. (at least that’s my story and not that I’m getting old).
My response, once I got my head around the meaning or the question was simple. “I love it”.
That’s the short answer anyway. The long answer isn’t much different though, all in all a very positive experience. As with anything new if you delve in and immerse yourself in it you can pick it up fast and the subtle changes to the iPhone are such that I hardly notice them until I pick up a 4s or 4 and look at the screen. Where did the extra line of apps go?

I’m getting a little off topic, but bear with me, it’s a short trip down a sidetrack eventually leading to the point.

I am typing this on my iPad, because as I said the world of tech moves quickly. I did a post about that new toy recently (here) so I won’t get into that again, but suffice to say, between the iPad and iPhone 5, my laptop is getting lonely I think, and in reality, the iPhone is being put down more often now in favour of the iPad because I can see more of what I am typing, etc.  (again, not because I’m getting old and my eyes are failing) Sure it’s no 60 words a minute but its a pretty good keyboard all things considered, maybe not as good as an actual tactile keyboard but definitely easier to use and transport around when space is limited.

From where I sit, typing away on my iPad or iPhone more than I do on my laptop, I think Microsoft is onto something with their latest foray into the tablet market, the “Surface“.  Sure, they are late to the game, but they may be the one pushing the tablet in the direction it needs to go.  A replacement for traditional laptops.

Most of what we do when mobile is word processing, gaming or content consumption, and the heavy lifting is done on other devices. As tablets become more and more powerful, the line between them and the traditional laptop fades. Really, the main difference between my iPad and my MacBook Air is the size of the hard drive. If I could get an iPad with a 250 gb drive in it I’d be as happy as a…. well, you know how that expression goes.

Whether its Microsoft’s way with a connectable keyboard, or taking Apple’s route of using bluetooth connected keyboards, the end result is the same, we are quickly heading towards a real shake up in the mobile computing world.  Tablet sales are climbing at a crazy rate, seemingly at the expense of laptop sales.  Desktop computers settled into their place in the world some time back and will always have their place in the work environment.  I don’t see them going away for a while, maybe a shift in the way people use them though, becoming more like a server and storage area for our mobile devices.

As for which tablet will become king? At this point, Apple has a good lead, but Microsoft has its own army of followers that are pretty loyal and will quickly either jump on that train as their first tablet or switch from the Apple one.  Either way, the sales will come at the expense of the laptop.  Their time is limited as people as well as the business world keep adopting the even more portable tablet.  Especially when it comes to travelling, I rarely see laptops being used in airports anymore, it is mostly tablets, and mostly iPads .  Sure many people will still keep using laptops, but more as a replacement for a bulky desktop computer than a portable device they carry with them.  As with phones, when it comes to tablets, you hitch yourself to an engine and hope you are on the right track, but thankfully another train will be coming along shortly so you can easily switch if you find yourself going the wrong way so their really is no wrong choice.

What’s with all the train references you may ask? Well, its Christmas time and I keep looking at the tree with the battery operated Christmas train slowly making circles around it, between the presents over and over again, the little chiming of Christmas tunes ringing out from the engine.  A stark contrast to the laptop’s death knell I’m hearing in my head.

barkerp

(This is a guest post by the developer Digiarty.  From time to time I get notified of new software directly from the developer, such as below.  I don’t always have time to do the reviews myself especially when time limited contests involved, so I allow the developer to supply the info with only minor editing on my part.  After all its my blog, I get the final say.  In this case, I’ve used this program for years myself and have reviewed it previously.)

Read on…

Having jailbreak on iPhone allows me to unlock the iOS restriction so that I gain more access to iPhone. In a similar way, if you want to make full use of DVD, say, make digital DVD backups for safe storage, you need a DVD converter to bypass the copy protection and convert DVD to videos to have further edition or playback. It is truly a pleasure to be informed of the new WinX DVD Ripper Platinum and its Thanksgiving giveaway information.

The developer, Digiarty Software, has launched a giveaway in honor of (the USA) Thanksgiving holiday to provide everyone with unlimited serial keys of new WinX DVD Ripper Platinum. For a limited time period, you can grab a serial key for free and download this software from http://www.winxdvd.com/giveaway/. The giveaway is going to expire on 11/27.

Note:

  1. If you are a lucky person who got the Thanks version for free, please activate with the serial key before 11/28;
  2. If you fail to get new version of WinX DVD Ripper Platinum during Thanksgiving period, you can still enjoy it in full and final version at http://www.winxdvd.com/dvd-ripper-platinum/ (Life time technical support and update are supported)

To handle WinX DVD Ripper Platinum is not a hard task as there is already a how-to instruction on its UI that has been renewed. I can load a piece of DVD and then get conversion started quickly and easily. It almost takes a short time to complete the conversion under dual-core and I think it could be much faster as it allows 8 CPU-core maximally with rebuilt core.

What I am going to use it for? Actually I’d like to convert 1 or 2 pieces of DVD to MP4 playable on iTunes, or I may sync the output files to iPhone. A tip to make full use of it is you can select “add mp4 to iTunes library after conversion” in the “Option”. The latest version has over 300 profiles settings for almost all popular mobile phones and tablets like iPhone 5, iPad 4 and Mini, WP8, Surface RT/Pro, Samsung Galaxy SIII, etc. Apart from the portable device support, WinX DVD Ripper Platinum is capable of converting DVD to various video formats saved on hard discs for further playback, conversion, air stream with AirPlayit, edition, and so on.

Well, it is very easy for average users to handle with the basic instruction. If you request for more outstanding performance from the output files, I think WinX DVD Ripper Platinum will meet your needs as well. But the premise is that you have to get familiar with the advanced settings. You can set the tags, adjust video bitrate, switch audio channel, change display language, clip segment and so on to balance the output files before you start conversion. By the way, you can also extract audio files from DVD saved as MP3 or AAC to create some music.

…that is the question

The most common computer question I get after “Does this seem like a virus to you?” is “Should I replace my computer or not?
This may be a rambling reply, so get comfy, in the end there is an answer.

In this society where we tend to always want the latest best new thing, we often forget that we don’t always need to replace, sometimes an upgrade of key components can breathe new life into a computer.  Replacing the hard drive for instance.  If you have the option, then an SSD can make your computer run that much faster.  Especially when paired with bumping up the ram.  Max it out if possible.  If you are running a current Operating System (OS) then you shouldn’t have any software limitations to how much you can access and use.  Check with the technical specs for your specific computer and it will tell you what the max RAM is.  In the case of an Apple computer, check with Mactracker to confirm.  (http://mactracker.ca) Sometimes the Apple maximum is not the real maximum the device will support.

I mentioned “current OS”.  That is because older versions of Windows had maximum accessible ram caps, but that was changed with vista and Win7 and if you are not running one of those, then that is a good indication it may be time to check and see if your current PC is even capable of running a newer OS.  The latest Mac operating system has minimum system requirements to run smoothly and quickly and won’t install on older hardware, same with Windows.  You can check easily if your system will allow you to upgrade to the latest OS, which if it can’t then yes, it may be time to upgrade or replace.  For Mac, again, Mactracker is a great tool, as is the Apple website under support, in the Technical Specs for the OS you are thinking about.  Mountain Lion for instance is here… http://support.apple.com/kb/SP654.  Similarly with Win7 you can check here… http://windows.microsoft.com/is-IS/windows7/products/system-requirements. The Microsoft site above will also allow you to check your PCs compatibility from the site if you allow it.

Bare in mind, these are the MINIMUM requirements.  Some things may work, but slowly, so take it with a grain of salt.  If you are close to the low-end of what is required, tweaking the graphics will help to speed things up a little.  By that I mean turning off the fancy visual effects such as the “genie effect” in Mac OS dock, or disable Aero effects in Win7.

If you are already running a current version, or in some case, current enough, then another thing to do is keep it clean – both the hardware and the software. By clean I mean getting the dust and crumbs out of it as well as by removing unneeded software/apps/programs/files.  A full hard drive takes longer to access files and also causes havoc with programs looking for temporary space.  Any OS will try to allocate a chunk of space from your hard drive for file swapping and temp storage while you work, and some programs require more than other depending upon their undo files, etc.  It surprising how a little spring cleaning can help speed up your computer.  Getting back to the dust issue, a good rule of thumb for desktop computers is to open the case once a year and carefully blow out the innards with canned compressed air.  I typically do this with a vacuum running next to it to catch all the dust before letting it back into the house/office.

If you are having the hard drive replaced or adding extra ram to speed things up, the shop/person doing it for you will typically physically clean out the inside of the computer.  Ask them to check the operation of the system fans and power supply fan while in there too.  A system not properly being cooled will also have troubles and can cause slow downs or in severe cases, system failure, shutdowns or damage.

If you’ve tried speeding up what you have, have updated it as much as you can and still aren’t happy with the speeds, then at least you have a good clean system as a spare, or a hand-me-down, or better yet maybe a hand-me-up.  Once you’ve got your new computer and transferred all your files/data/programs, why not give your old one to your parents or grandparents, odds are it is better than they already have and they will appreciate the gesture of finally paying them back for all the things they gave you growing up.  It may be better than giving it to your kids, who if they are like mine, want the newest toys on the market anyway.  Also, it is nice you are familiar with the system, so that way when they ask you questions about how it works, you’ll be able to help them out easily.  One last perk is you are keeping it out of the landfill, and giving it a little extra life, which always feels good to me when I’m justifying buying the latest and greatest for myself.

Use the tech-shuffle to your advantage, there is usually someone who will be thankful for your hand-me-down/up devices.

barkerp

p.s. –  for all your Shakespeare nuts, yes I know the image of the hand holding the skull doesn’t go with the “to be or not to be” scene in Hamlet, but I’m taking artistic license, Horatio.

Summer for me is a busy time. Seems like the days are full from the sun coming up to when it goes down with very little time to do anything but try and stay ahead of all the chores.

For kids, at least for mine, it seems to be a time to goof off and do very little except maybe recharge, relax and sleep in often.  Thankfully it only lasts about 2 months or I fear mine would turn into gelatinous masses before school started again.  Speaking of back to school, that’s what an email I received a couple of days ago reminded me of, only a few more weeks and those little couch-potatoes will be trying to get back into the routine of getting up and living on a schedule like the rest of us.

My friends over at Digiarty are doing their best to give us an easy way to rip some of those DVDs & BluRays to our portable devices in order to help pass the time in the car as we all squeeze in those last family trips this summer.  This one is for both Mac users and Windows users who want to rip media from DVDs or BluRays to formats that work with your iDevices.

As always, their software, which i’ve reviewed numerous times over the years, is very user friendly, self-explanatory, very fast (about 45 mins to rip a standard length BluRay movie) and very capable.  In short it is just a pleasure to use, but like all good things the giveaway is time-limited and only lasts until the end of August.  Don’t be confused by the name either, this software isn’t just to rip to iPads, it also rips to iPods, iPhones and AppleTVs. (check if out here)

Now getting back to what I mentioned in the title of this blog, there is a little potential slip from the developer that excited me a little.  In the email it stated … “This DVD ripper can rip both protected and regular DVDs to iPad (even iPad mini), iPhone, iPod, Apple TV with high quality. It works well on Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion/Tiger/Leopard/Snow Leopard.”

even iPad mini” – sounds like a definitive answer to whether or not we will be seeing a smaller format iPad soon doesn’t it.  So don’t wait, go grab your copy of the software while the getting is good, its free and you’ll be ready for your new iPad mini when it comes out this fall.

tcg.