28 Nov 2013

Autodesk University 2013 - Live Streams

This year's Autodesk University runs from the 3rd to 5th December and is being hosted in Las Vegas.  As most of us will be unable to be there in person, there will be live feeds streaming from the event to your browser of choice.

There are several keynotes and classes on offer covering a range of products and some of them shouldn't be missed including the opener from CEO Carl Bass, and CTO Jeff Kowalski discussing trends in design and technology.

Kean Walmsley will be covering reality capture in with Kinect and AutoCAD of which you can get a sneak preview of on his Through the Interface blog.
The ubiquitous AutoCAD 'evangelist' Lynn Allen will be demonstrating 60 tips in 60 minutes, and you can catch her AU 2013 primer presentation on YouTube right now:

The complete list of available streams can be found here.  I'm sure you won't want to miss any of them and given they'll be going live at USA Pacific Time (-8:00 GMT) you won't be irking your boss while on the job.

21 Nov 2013

Industry 4.0

Over 200 years ago the steam engine and mechanical power revolutionised the world and brought around the industrial revolution (glamorously portrayed in last year's Olympic Games opener in London).
The ability to effectively harness electricity then enabled mass production, and more recently the advancement of electronics and IT systems has further enhanced industry.  These 3 stages are soon to be succeeded by a fourth leap in industrial technology, known in Germany as Industry 4.0.

RFID chips, wireless communication, PLM software, and intelligent systems are on the increase in production facilities, and it is the goal of Industry 4.0 to have all of this technology tightly integrated with a view to comprehensive automation of the entire production cycle.  As with the previous 'ages' the crossover to 4.0 will be a steady process and isn't likely to be fully visible for another 40 years.

Smart communication between production life cycle stages remains the key challenge.  It is doubtful whether Bluetooth or wireless network types in their current forms can cope with the intensity of communication required while remaining highly stable.  The sheer volume of bespoke machinery that is supplied from a wide variety of manufacturers means that introducing new standardised communication methods will need to be addressed by an international organisation to prevent another format war.

In this respect, Germany has set aside €200m for industrial associations and research bodies, and the US has promised up to $1b.  It is hoped that governments will push for the introduction of better data transmission infrastructure that will support the increase in IT communication requirements.


Installation issues with Microsoft .NET Framework (error: 1603)

We've received a few support calls of late where Microsoft .NET Framework has interfered with the installation of Autodesk products.

e.g. "2013/4/4:16:35:22 PC Install .NET Framework Runtime 4.0 Failed Installation aborted, Result=1603"

This can be .NET 4.5 or previous versions and may be related to corruption.  Corrupted frameworks will render you unable to uninstall them from Add/Remove Programs.

This tool over at Download Crew will enable you to get rid of the framework of your choosing, and then allow you to proceed with your product installation.


18 Nov 2013

VRED - a new member of the Autodesk family

VRED is a high quality CGI rendering package that is used for concept visualisation and marketing promotions.  The software is akin to showcase in it's purpose but brings a whole host of production features and editing control to the table.
It comes in 3 versions: VRED, VRED Design, and VRED Professional.

A full feature comparison of the various versions of VRED available alongside Showcase Professional can be found here and make sure to watch some samples of it in action

12 Nov 2013

Autumn's Tablets

Have you joined the tablet revolution yet?  If not, now is as good a time as any with new offerings from every major player in the market.  There are brand new releases covering each format; iOS, Windows 8, Android 4.3, and Kindle's new Fire OS.

But which one to choose?  There's an article over at engadget that lists them side by side.  It's aimed at consumers rather than professionals, and consequently favours Apple.  You'll have to make your own mind up if you intend to use it for business.

8 Nov 2013

Glow-in-the-dark Pavements

A new material developed by a company called Pro-Teq creates a glow-in-the-dark effect when it is applied to a surface.  The first application has been used on a 140m stretch of Christ's Pieces pathway in Cambridge to great effect as you can see in the image below.

The surface looks impressive, but the luminosity is questionable as this
photo is over-exposed as can be seen by the bicycle light trails

The liquid material is enriched with luminous particles and once a protective layer is sprayed over the top, the result is an anti-slip surface which emits light based on the amount of solar energy captured.  The company states that customers have a choice of size and colour, and that the material is environmentally-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

The nightly longevity of the effect is as yet unknown, so if you've had a night out on the town in Cambridge please take a trip down and let us know if the lights are still on.

6 Nov 2013

GrabCAD - over 100k models to download

We posted a couple of years back about the launch of the GrabCAD community, where you can share and download models of everything from cars to gears, and animals to aliens.  Their library now holds over 100k+  models in total across various CAD formats.

While not everything is useful for engineering, there are still some good reasons to use the community.
You can:

  • View the model browser of a part you need to design and get tips on methods and technique 
  • Supplement an animation with extra background models (remember to give credit)
  • Test out your new 3D printer with something quick and easy
  • Use test geometry to run through your simulation package
  • Test the import functionality of your CAD application by downloading non-native models

    4 Nov 2013

    Modular Phone Handsets

    In the mobile phone world, the term 'upgrade' currently refers to exchanging your handset for a new one (and extension of your mobile contract for ~2 years), but Dave Hakkens has been hoping to bring the meaning more in line with computer terminology with his Phonebloks concept:

    When I first saw this, I appreciated the nobility of the idea but felt a little dismay as it is something I thought would be hard to convince the mobile manufacturing industry to get on board with.  I saw it as the type of concept that makes for great BBC viewing when it is trashed and thrown out of the window in the Dragon's Den.

    However, Motorola has just announced a new project called Ara which is the realisation of exactly what Dave proposed.  The vision is to do what Android has done for the software industry and bring open source modular hardware customisation to the smartphone market, and allow users to control the style, cost, and performance of their phones as they see fit (and ultimately reduce the size of hardware graveyards).

    Stay tuned for an alpha release of the MDK (Module Developer's Kit) this winter.