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Autodesk 360, Part 4: Synchronization With Autodesk 360

September 27, 2012 5 comments

In Part 3 of this series, I showed you some of the collaboration functionality of Autodesk 360. We are now going to look at how we can synchronize our documents and drawings using Autodesk 360, using a fixed location (PC on a network) and a mobile location (iPad on a remote site with Wi-Fi), like in Part 3.

Your Documents Are Ready To Go, What Happens Now?

In Part 3 of this series, I mentioned that your documents were already synced. The synchronization tools you get with Autodesk 360, either in your fixed location or your mobile location, give you great flexibility. Especially if you are mobile on a tablet such as an iPad. Any changes you make using AutoCAD WS (for example) can be synced up to Autodesk 360. Be aware, though, that you can store ANY kind of document on Autodesk 360. We are talking MS Word or Excel docs, not just drawings and models.

So like in Part 3, you’re logged in with your Autodesk ID and you have synced your existing documents from your fixed location (PC on the network) to the cloud (Autodesk 360).

Autodesk 360, logged in, with MS Word docs highlighted.

Autodesk 360, logged in, with MS Word docs highlighted.

Making And Syncing Changes In A Fixed Location

I have selected one of the Word docs I have uploaded, which are the three previous parts of this series. The selected document is “Intro to Autodesk 360.” You will notice I have control over comments (right-hand side) and I have commented “This document needs to be archived.” Currently, this document is NOT set to be shared. Public sharing is switched OFF (bottom). If sharing was on, the comments function is a great way to add “unofficial” comments on any document, drawing or otherwise, almost like you would talk to each other on social media, a bit like Windows Live Messenger, for example. It is a superb way of working in a fixed location and letting the staff on a site know what needs to be done, aiding productivity. There is also the facility to download the document, which I will discuss in a moment.

Screenshot showing download, comment and sharing functions.

Screenshot showing download, comment and sharing functions.

So, if I clicked on DOWNLOAD now, Internet Explorer (IE9 in this case) prompts me to Open or Save the document.

MS Word document waiting to be downloaded from Autodesk 360.

MS Word document waiting to be downloaded from Autodesk 360.

I am going to OPEN the document and as I have MS Office on my laptop at my fixed location, Windows will open the file for me and I can then get on working, regardless of where that document came from, which could have been a remote site on the other side of the world, again aiding productivity.

If I go back to my overall list of Autodesk 360 documents (just click on Documents at the top of the Autodesk 360 screen), and I hover over the document, you will see small icons highlighting that I have made a comment on the document.

When I click on the Actions icon (arrowed) and click on Versions on the sub-menu, Autodesk 360 give me a chronological order of the versions of the same document, allowing tracking of the document and its various versions.

Actions sub-menu showing Versions function.

Actions sub-menu showing Versions function.

The versions of the document are displayed on the browser screen as shown below:

Screenshot showing document versions.

Screenshot showing document versions.

I can upload a new version of the document, or if I click on the small clock icon, I can revert to a PREVIOUS version if required. Autodesk 360 prompts you about this if you decide to do it.

The option to revert to a PREVIOUS version of the document.

The option to revert to a PREVIOUS version of the document.

Making And Syncing Changes In A Mobile Location

So let’s look now at our mobile location. I am running Autodesk 360 and AutoCAD WS on my iPad, and I am going to change a drawing using AutoCAD WS.

Upon logging in to Autodesk 360 on my iPad, I see the recent history of the MS Word document. So, my changes have already been synced live in the cloud in Autodesk 360. This speeds up collaboration time, especially when working together as a team on project drawings where the masters are stored on Autodesk 360.

iPad screen showing live updates already synced in Autodesk 360.

iPad screen showing live updates already synced in Autodesk 360.

Using the same process as above to find a drawing this time, but using the iPad remotely on a Wi-Fi connection, I have downloaded the drawing A3 Training.dwg in to AutoCAD WS for the iPad.

A3 Training.dwg open in AutoCAD WS on the iPad.

A3 Training.dwg open in AutoCAD WS on the iPad.

If some changes are made to the drawing on AutoCAD WS REMOTELY, these changes will be synced to Autodesk 360 immediately when the drawing is saved. I have added two red circles to the drawing, as shown below.

A3 Training.dwg showing the two red circles added.

A3 Training.dwg showing the two red circles added.

After selecting Done in AutoCAD WS, the drawing is saved. I then need to select Sync in the drawing list and the new revisions to the drawing (the red circles) are then saved to that version of the drawing in Autodesk 360 as well.

Drawing list in AutoCAD WS showing drawing used and Sync button on iPad.

Drawing list in AutoCAD WS showing drawing used and Sync button on iPad.

Once the remote sync is complete (on AutoCAD WS), the fixed location can then check the changes on their Autodesk 360 back at the office.

By clicking on the Actions icon like we did before, and selecting Document Activity, you can see that the drawing was synced in Autodesk 360 only minutes before.

Autodesk 360 at the fixed location showing where to find Document Activity on the Actions sub-menu.

Autodesk 360 at the fixed location showing where to find Document Activity on the Actions sub-menu.

The Document Activity list for A3 Training.dwg with the recent sync highlighted.

The Document Activity list for A3 Training.dwg with the recent sync highlighted.

If you refer back to Part 2 of this series, I showed you how to use Autodesk 360 to work with updated drawings and how you can collaborate with your stored documents in Autodesk 360. With the addition of AutoCAD WS on a mobile device (in this case, the iPad), you now have the ability not only to collaborate, but design on the fly, using a mobile device and show the document changes in Autodesk 360 as you go.  I stated that this leads to faster implementation of your design on site or on the factory shop floor.

Faster implementation and, as you now see, easy remote syncing of both drawings and regular documents makes for a much slicker workflow. The remote location using Wi-Fi and any kind of enabled tablet (not just an iPad, it could be an Android device, even a Kindle Fire) allows any organization to work GLOBALLY and almost anywhere.

The cloud is here and it is being used in many ways already. Autodesk are providing some superb tools that can be used with some of the cutting edge devices that are out there, such as the iPad, the Motorola Xoom (amongst many others). This technology WILL (and already is) revolutionizing  the way we work with not only CAD, but with all the documents used in the design process such as specifications, OEM manuals and the like. A typical example was the MS Word document in this part of the series.

As I said in Parts 2 and 3, it will allow us to embrace the mobile device movement and start to mobilise the CAD office/function in ways we never thought possible.

This is Part 4 of 4 for this series, so I bid you farewell for now but keep an eye for further blogs about tablet devices and mobile workflows!

Author: Shaun Bryant

Autodesk 360, Part 3: Collaboration Between Fixed and Mobile Locations

August 1, 2012 8 comments

In Part 2 of this series, I showed you some of the functionality of Autodesk 360. We are now going to look at how we collaborate using Autodesk 360, using a fixed location (PC on a network) and a mobile location (iPad on a remote site with Wi-Fi).

Your Documents Are Synced, What Happens Now?

You’re logged in with your Autodesk ID and you have synced your documents from your fixed location (PC on the network) to the cloud (Autodesk 360).

Logged into Autodesk 360.

Logged into Autodesk 360.

Using AutoCAD 2013 In A Fixed Location

As mentioned in Part 2 of the series, all of the Autodesk 2013 product range now include an Autodesk 360 tab on the ribbon interface. We will be using this in a fixed location when you are already logged in. Click on the Online tab on the AutoCAD 2013 ribbon interface.

The Online ribbon tab, after log in.

The Online ribbon tab, after log in.

So, right now, you will have your Autodesk 360 browser window open (it works best in Microsoft IE9) and your AutoCAD 2013 is done and uploaded to Autodesk 360 ready to go. That is your fixed location all set.

Using Autodesk 360 In A Mobile Location

So now we need to think about the mobile location. I am running Autodesk 360 and AutoCAD WS on my iPad, so let’s check this out.

I first use my browser on my iPad (normally Safari by default) to logon to Autodesk 360. Once I am logged in, I can browse my documents in my Autodesk 360 folders. In this case, it is the AEC Plan Elev Sample Drawing, already loaded in Autodesk 360. I know this is a default sample drawing, but for speed’s sake, use this as the drawing you have just loaded up from AutoCAD 2013 to Autodesk 360, using the Online tab in AutoCAD.

Autodesk 360 (logged in) with sub-menu highlighted.

Autodesk 360 (logged in) with sub-menu highlighted.

I can click on the button shown and on the sub-menu, I can open up the drawing from Autodesk 360 using AutoCAD WS on my iPad.

Upon clicking on the Edit in AutoCAD WS option, I am prompted to install AutoCAD WS on my iPad from the App Store, if I haven’t done so already.

If AutoCAD WS is already there on the iPad, you just load up AutoCAD WS and the new drawing will be there in your drawing list, as shown below (drawing is at the bottom of the list).

AutoCAD WS, with the loaded drawing highlighted in the list.

AutoCAD WS, with the loaded drawing highlighted in the list.

You can now open the drawing in your mobile (remote) location on your iPad and edit the drawing accordingly based on whatever data you have at that location. You can now see the value of AutoCAD WS on a mobile device, as per my first series of articles about AutoCAD WS.

AutoCAD WS, with the loaded drawing ready for editing.

AutoCAD WS, with the loaded drawing ready for editing.

If you refer back to Part 2 of this series, I show you how to use Autodesk 360 to work with updated drawings and how you can collaborate with your stored documents in Autodesk 360. With the addition of AutoCAD WS on a mobile device (in this case, the iPad), you now have the ability not only to collaborate, but design on the fly, using a mobile device and show the document changes in Autodesk 360 as you go. This leads to faster implementation of your design on site or on the factory shop floor.

The cloud is here and it is now. Autodesk are moving forward fast with this technology and it WILL revolutionize the way we work with not only CAD, but all the documents used in the design process such as specifications, OEM manuals and the like.

As I said in Part 2 of this series, it will allow us to embrace the mobile CAD movement and start to mobilise the CAD office/function in ways we never thought possible.

Stay tuned for Part 4 of this series, where I will show you how changes in documents and drawings are synchronised using Autodesk 360.

Author: Shaun Bryant

Vectorworks Cloud Services: Reduce CPU Computing Times, Improve Collaboration in 3D Workflows

July 4, 2012 2 comments

When people think of cloud computing, benefits such as convenience and portability often come to mind. After all, the cloud may or may not deliver a faster experience for users of CAD solutions when compared to desktop processing. With this in mind, why then is cloud computing garnering so much attention these days?

It’s simple. The real benefit lies in the significant speed gains that emerge in your workflows. So if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs and monitoring your desktop CPU as it churns away at processing complicated client presentations, a cloud-based workflow could drive some needed improvements.

For example, under normal circumstances, if you want to generate a set of construction documents in PDF form, containing 10, 20 or even hundreds of sheets, sections and details on your local machine, this process can tie up your desktop for a considerable amount of time and lock you out from working. This forced downtime will vary, depending on the complexity of the viewport update and render.

Utilize the cloud, however, and the steps are basically the same, but you gain the benefit of being able to use your desktop during the process. This is because the calculations needed to generate sections, elevations, renderings and Building Information Modeling (BIM) data shift from the desktop to the cloud.

Cloud Services From Vectorworks

To synchronize and compute presentation and construction documents in the cloud, simply drag your Vectorworks file to the Cloud Services Desktop App’s project folder on your CPU, and wait for a connection. The file may reside temporarily in a queue based on load. Next, the remote server processes your file just as your desktop would, and results are automatically downloaded to your desktop or mobile device.

Vectorworks Cloud Services Portal

Cloud servers are very capable from a hardware standpoint, and can manage multiple file instances at once, meaning uploads won’t interrupt your workflows. Additionally, the Vectorworks Cloud Services sync can be automated to occur based on a user-defined schedule —sort of like a “set it and forget it” option.

Vectorworks Cloud Services users have up to 5 GB of storage capacity, and files are transferred over a secure HTTPS connection to and from the cloud, encrypted with AES-256, a U.S. government adopted security standard. Stored files are similarly encrypted. We also use Amazon Web Services for our cloud infrastructure, which enhances reliability and availability by providing redundancy and multiple data centers worldwide. (Read more about cloud security at http://aws.amazon.com/security/).

Leveraging Mobile Devices

Another benefit of the cloud is that it lets people use iOS hardware they already have to be more productive. For example, our cloud product features the Vectorworks Nomad app, which lets users browse through and share their designs from any computer or web-enabled device, such as an iPhone or iPad. So whether you’re at your desk, in a meeting, on the job site, or on vacation, you can view, mark up, share, and synchronize Vectorworks files across your devices and with your colleagues. The app runs on any iPhone or iPad that has iOS v5.0 or later, and an Android version will debut later this year. (The Vectorworks Cloud Services desktop app requires OSX 10.6.8 or newer and Windows XP SP 3, Windows Vista SP 2, or Windows 7.)

Vectorworks Cloud Services

Today’s iOS hardware relies on Wi-Fi and 3G or 4G data networks, which makes them a perfect conduit for communicating files processed in the cloud.  So just imagine the possibilities as these mobile devices become more powerful and as the services to match these capabilities also grow.

Vectorworks Cloud ServicesIn the meantime, CAD software users can take advantage of their iOS hardware to access files in a practical way. And from a project management perspective, it’s all about increasing the efficiency of employees to do more. Embrace cloud services and you’ll make your workflows and your teams more efficient.

Author’s Note: Vectorworks Cloud Services is currently available for free to members of Vectorworks Service Select, a subscription program that provides customers with the latest product releases and updates, as well as priority technical support, and VIP access to downloads and a growing library of on-demand learning tutorials. Visit www.vectorworks.net/cloudservices to learn more.

Author: Jeremy Powell, Director of Product Marketing, Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.

Autodesk 360, Part 2: What Can You Do With It?

June 20, 2012 5 comments

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced you to the new cloud-based collaboration tool from Autodesk, called Autodesk 360. In Part 2, I am going to show some of the functionality of Autodesk 360.

Once You’re Logged In, What’s Next?

Once you’re set up with your Autodesk ID and you’re logged in, what exactly can you do? What services are available? Well, if I went in to detail, I could write blogs about a mile long that would take you a week to read, so let’s go with something simple.

Autodesk 2013 Product Range

All of the Autodesk 2013 product range now include an Autodesk 360 tab on the ribbon interface. To keep it simple, I will work with AutoCAD 2013 on a PC workstation or laptop to show you how this all works.

Click on the Online tab on the AutoCAD 2013 ribbon interface.

The AutoCAD 360 Online ribbon tab.

The AutoCAD 360 Online ribbon tab.

You will see a group of ribbon panels that are grouped and incorporate relevant icons to work with Autodesk 360 from the AutoCAD 2013 application. The benefit here is that you can collaborate from AutoCAD straight to the cloud to other AutoCAD users and, more importantly, other Autodesk cloud users, who may be using other Autodesk products.

A typical example of this goes back to my previous blog series about AutoCAD WS, which features heavily in Autodesk 360 right now. As long as you are logged in to Autodesk 360 (click on the Autodesk 360 icon to do this), using the Share Document icon allows you to share the document (our drawing) in either Autodesk 360 or AutoCAD WS.

The Online tab panels and icons, with Share Document highlighted.

The Online tab panels and icons, with Share Document highlighted.

Autodesk 360 now updates in your browser, prompting you to Refresh List.

Refresh List

Refresh List

Once refreshed, Autodesk 360 updates your document list, and you can see the new document. In this case, it is an imperial drawing called Autodesk 360.dwg. Autodesk 360 shows you all 5 layout tabs available in the drawing.

Autodesk 360 with the refreshed document list.

Autodesk 360 with the refreshed document list.

So, if I now select one of the layout tabs in the refreshed document (drawing), I can start the collaboration process. As you can see from the screenshot below, I have plenty of tools to work with in Autodesk 360. I can toggle between layout views, I have a thumbnail view and I have zoom and text tools as well.

An Autodesk DWG layout open in Autodesk 360 with various tools highlighted.

An Autodesk DWG layout open in Autodesk 360 with various tools highlighted.

Now, the tools shown are purely for use in Autodesk 360 but if I select the Actions pulldown menu, I can then start collaborating via AutoCAD WS as well. Clicking on Edit Online in AutoCAD WS opens up another browser tab with AutoCAD WS and providing you are logged in, you can start to work on the drawing using AutoCAD WS.

Actions pulldown showing Edit Online in AutoCAD WS.

Actions pulldown showing Edit Online in AutoCAD WS.

AutoCAD WS can be used on a number of platforms, as per my previous blog series — PC, Mac, tablet and smartphone to name a few. This is where Autodesk 360 starts to really prove that the cloud will totally change how we work with Autodesk products.

AutoCAD WS with the drawing from Autodesk 360 ready for editing.

AutoCAD WS with the drawing from Autodesk 360 ready for editing.

As I have said before, Autodesk will revolutionize the way we work with Autodesk 360. It will allow us to embrace the mobile CAD movement and start to mobilize the CAD office/function in ways we never thought possible.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series, where I will start to show you have to synchronize your local/network locations to Autodesk 360.

Author: Shaun Bryant

Autodesk 360, Part 1: What Is It and How Does It Work?

May 23, 2012 4 comments

I was fortunate to attend the Autodesk Media Summit in March this year and discover the company’s new cloud initiative, Autodesk 360.

What Is Autodesk 360?

Autodesk 360 is the customer-centric cloud computing solution with a difference. Not only does it act as a cloud storage solution, but also provides CAD software and services based in the cloud to free up your hardware’s processing power. It also allows you to run mobile apps on your enterprise mobile kit, such as tablets and netbooks, even smartphones.

So How Does It All Work?

Getting on to Autodesk 360 is very easy. Go to the URL 360.autodesk.com and all you need to do is get yourself an Autodesk User ID (the usual username and password thing). Once you have an Autodesk ID, you can log on to Autodesk 360 for your FREE 3GB of storage space. Using your Autodesk ID, you can also log on to any other Autodesk ID controlled webpage as well.

The Autodesk 360 front page.

The Autodesk 360 front page.

Once logged in, you can utilize the Autodesk 360 services whatever mobile device you are using: laptop, tablet, phone. Notice the link to AutoCAD WS (the topic of my previous blog series here on CADspeed). Also, as an Autodesk Subscription customer, you gain access to even more 360 services using a credit system, where you buy cloud time on a pay-as-you-go basis. Plus, you get 3GB of storage space, just for signing up.

The Autodesk 360 front page once logged in.

The Autodesk 360 front page once logged in.

The major benefit of Autodesk 360 is that you can access it anywhere you have a connection. So any device with that capability can be used.

I can see Autodesk 360 being a great hit with CAD and project managers who want to “manage” their CAD function. They can see all their drawings and documents in one place and, better still, they can collaborate (using the likes of AutoCAD WS and Design Review) and distribute project documents and drawings (to other Autodesk 360 users). This can be done on something as compact as a tablet like the iPad, or an Android device like the Motorola Xoom.

For the mobile CAD user, laptops are getting smaller and more compact, so full CAD apps can be used in conjunction with Autodesk 360 and with the provision of “heavy” services in the cloud, such as rendering and analysis, it could bring the requirement of a “brick” like laptop to an end!

Autodesk have revolutionized the way we work with Autodesk 360. It will allow us to embrace the mobile CAD movement and let us concentrate on our design and management processes while the cloud does all the heavy lifting for us.

In Part 2, I am going to show some of the functionality of Autodesk 360.

Author: Shaun Bryant

AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management – Part 4: Managing Your Move to AutoCAD WS

January 31, 2012 5 comments

Welcome to the fourth part of the series of AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management (FM).

In Part 1, 2 and 3, we talked about operational methods for easily managing our space in our building from the cloud, using a tablet device and AutoCAD WS. Let’s now look at AutoCAD WS from a management level, rather than an operational level.

Managing Your “Move”

FM is always associated with office moves so, pardon the pun, we now need to look at managing our “move” to AutoCAD WS, as compared to traditional methods, such as issuing FM drawings via regular email.

AutoCAD WS is available on PC (as the AutoCAD plug-in) and Mac (as the AutoCAD for Mac plug-in) and as a full cloud application via your web browser. It is also available as an app on the iPad and iPhone and all appropriate Android devices (both phones and tablets) using the App Store and Android Market respectively. The major benefit here is there is no capital software cost involved as AutoCAD WS is free to download.

The full range of AutoCAD WS applications. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

The full range of AutoCAD WS applications. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

The choice of software obviously depends on the platform being used, PC or Mac, but fundamentally they are the same and the workflow does not change.

Deployment

AutoCAD WS on the web requires an account to be set up for each user on the FM team. This is the foundation of AutoCAD WS. It is a cloud application. Each user needs an account with a user name and a password.

Then, depending on how the user will use AutoCAD WS, they install the appropriate app or plug-in.

On an organizational level, this would have to be rolled out either by the IT team or possibly the CAD management team.

The basic deployment structure would be as follows:

  1. AutoCAD WS web account — all FM CAD personnel.
  2. AutoCAD WS plug-in for AutoCAD (Windows) — all Windows-based AutoCAD users.
  3. AutoCAD WS plug-in for AutoCAD (Mac) — all Mac-based AutoCAD users.
  4. AutoCAD WS for iPad/tablet — all site-based personnel who collaborate with office-based AutoCAD users.

Workflow

Using the basic deployment above, the office-based AutoCAD users can share FM drawings with the site-based AutoCAD WS users and vice versa. This allows for collaboration of the FM drawing function and, in turn, uses the cloud. Also, bear in mind that the use of AutoCAD WS incurs no extra software cost!

Training

AutoCAD WS is not difficult to use and any training can be done in a minimal time frame of hours, not days.

Taking all of the above in to account, it should be reasonably painless to set up an AutoCAD WS function within any FM CAD team, again, proving that AutoCAD WS can provide a 24/7 timeline and allows drawing management and revisions to be shared to the cloud within the FM CAD team, using both office-based and site-based hardware.

Author: Shaun Bryant

WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 4: Secure Your WiFi Network

January 26, 2012 3 comments

Secure Your WiFi NetworkWelcome back to our series on WiFi networks. First, we explained the difference between the two major types of WiFi. Then we explained how to get your wireless network… uh… wired up and helped you decide the right WiFi format for you. Now let’s talk about security.

Secure Your WiFi Network

Before you get to work performing all of those high speed transfer of giant files, you have to consider security. Of course we know that every computer on your new-fangled wireless network has antivirus and firewall software installed. Doesn’t it?

But the dance of techno security doesn’t end with those two moves. In order to make sure you don’t have unwanted traffic eating up your bandwidth and eavesdropping on your traffic, you need to secure your WiFi network.

Fortunately new wireless routers come with security solutions built in. All you have to do is access your router’s front end through your browser and activate your wireless security. We suggest using WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access II) but WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security will also provide protection, although to a lesser degree. Be sure to read your routers documentation to learn all about securing your wireless network. While you are at it we STRONGLY suggest changing your wireless router user-name and password. Just be sure to remember this information. If you take your laptop or tablet to a new location that has a secured wireless network, you will need to ask for their network password before you can access it. See, security keeps out strangers!

In Conclusion

Now you are ready to go out in the world and stay connected wherever you find a WiFi signal! With your new knowledge you can check your mail at the coffee shop, play World of Warcraft at the library, or even get some CAD work done using AutoCAD or AutoCAD WS at your favorite Chinese restaurant! You can even use your new wireless network at home to stream Internet content to your smart TV or gaming console. The possibilities are endless and all because you cut the wire and went wireless!

Author: Curt Moreno

WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 3: Choosing a WiFi Format

January 24, 2012 3 comments

Which WiFi Technology Will Work For You?Welcome back to our series on WiFi networks. First, we explained the difference between the two major types of WiFi. Then we explained how to get your wireless network… uh… wired up. Now we’ll help you decide the right WiFi format for you.

Now that you know the differences between WiFi-G and WiFi-N, which WiFi will work for you? Well the answer to that question depends on what sort of wireless shenanigans you have planned. But it is the most important answer of all, because the wrong choice will lead to disappointing results.

Which WiFi Where?

The differences between the two flavors of WiFi discussed in Part 1 is about a bit more than speed. It is also about future proofing your investment. While WiFi-G is widespread and your existing laptop or tablet probably has the correct WiFi component, it is also old tech. That is why it is so widespread! If it were new tech then it wouldn’t be so widespread. Bummer, huh?

In addition to availability is WiFi-G’s limited bandwidth. As we noted in Part 1, WiFi-G has a maximum bandwidth of 54 megabits per second. On a good day. Whereas WiFi-N has maximum speeds of 300 megabits and above! Doesn’t six times the data transfer speed sound enticing? We thought that it might. Luckily WiFi-N equipment will also work on WiFi-G networks. So you’ve got the best of both worlds! But like WiFi-G, it has a drawback: availability.

Since WiFi-N is newer technology, you will not find as many WiFi-N routers at your local coffee shops and elsewhere. In addition you will find that only the most recent laptops and a few tablets have WiFi-N components already installed. If you are not fortunate enough to have such a unit, you will have to purchase a WiFi-N adapter. These units are available at most big box electronic stores and are sold by companies like Linksys and Belkin but do cost more than WiFi-G adapters.

Which WiFi Will Work?

When deciding which WiFi network type is right for you, you must consider the type of work you plan on doing. Does your work consist of test documents and the odd spreadsheet? Is tending your farm on Facebook the most intensive thing you do on your computer? If you have this sort of light workload, then WiFi-G is more than you can handle! Actually even if you have more technical duties WiFi-G will work, just not as quickly.

However, if your daily routine has you working with large video or audio files then WiFi-N is for you. Transfer rates of 300 megabits or greater per second can cut downloads from sites like Dropbox and personal servers to a fraction. You’ll find that your upload rates will be much faster on WiFi-N versus WiFi-G also. So when once you have that important presentation done, you can upload it and the accompanying videos with no problems!

Stay tuned as we finish up this series with the important discussion about securing your network!

Author: Curt Moreno

WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 2: Setting Up a WiFi Network

January 19, 2012 4 comments
The WRVS4400N 4-Port N Gigabit Security Router with VPN from Cisco Small Business

The WRVS4400N 4-Port N Gigabit Security Router with VPN from Cisco Small Business.

Welcome back to our series on WiFi networks. First, we explained the difference between the two major types of WiFi. Now we’ll explain how to get your wireless network… uh… wired up.

Setting Up A WiFi

Even though WiFi networks are “wireless,” at some point they must be plugged back into a wired, physical network. Normally this connection happens at your wireless access point, which may or may not also be your router. This type of unit is very common in big box electronic stores and sold as “Wireless Routers” by companies like Linksys and Belkin and many others. You may even already have such a unit installed and not even realize it.

The connection runs from this access point to the broadband modem via a physical cable. That cable is the bridge between the wireless and wired worlds, so the type of cable is very important.

Network Cables

Network cables classified as CAT 5 are rated for a maximum speed of 100 megabits per second. While this is fine for WiFi-G, it will become the bottle neck for WiFi-N networks. This is the dirty little wired secret of a WiFi network!

In order to get the most out of your WiFi-N investment you will have to make sure that all cables in your “wireless” network are rated as CAT 5e (enhanced CAT 5) or higher (CAT 6 or CAT 7). This category of cable will give you maximum transfers rates of 300 megabits per second and greater.

Stay tuned as we explore choosing a WiFi format, securing your network and other WiFi goodness that cutting the cable can bring you!

Author: Curt Moreno

WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 1: WiFi-G and WiFi-N

January 17, 2012 3 comments

So the whole world has gone mobile. Where we once had been tethered to our desks, chained for productivity’s sake, we are now free to roam the corporate wilderness. People are grabbing their tablets and laptops and running out the door to continue working at the job site, in coffee shops, and from home. And thanks to the wonders of wireless networking, you can keep right on working just about anywhere you go.

You are set up for wireless networking, aren’t you?

The WiFi Basics

Today it seems as if there is no place you can go and not be covered in wireless networking (WiFI) coverage. The price of access to everything the Internet has to offer is usually covered by simply having the right equipment to access the wireless network. Despite terms like “802.11a,”Wireless G,” and “Dual Band Networking” being prepared to take connect to most wireless networks is fairly straight forward.

We could go over EVERY flavor of WiFi there has ever been, but come on, this 2012 and we are data professionals. We’re not interested in ancient technology. That leaves two wireless horses in this race: 802.11g and 802.11n. Sound sort of intimidating, but it’s not. Just think of them as WiFi-G and WiFi-N.

WiFi-G

By far the more widespread wireless networking technology installed today is 802.11g compliant. This specification of WiFi can carry a maximum data transmission of 54 megabits per second. this means that you could transfer 1 gigabyte in about 2.5 minutes across this type of network, at maximum speed. Of course, due to factors like interference, temperature, and distance, you will probably not be transferring at maximum speed. On average it is safe to double or even quadruple that time, under normal circumstances.

WiFi-N

Newer, and thus faster than WiFi-G, is WiFi-N. Technically known as by it’s specification code, 802.11n, WiFi-N has a maximum transfer speed of up to 300 megabits per second. That is almost six times faster than WiFi-G! This means you could theoretically transfer 1 gigabyte across a WiFi-N network in less than 45 seconds! Theoretically. Unfortunately WiFi-N is limited by the same mitigating factors as all WiFi networks. This means that due to distance and other factors your WiFi-N network will most likely not operate at maximum speed. Once again, doubling or even quadrupling transfer times are normally considered a safe estimate.

Watch this space for more about wiring your wireless network, choosing a WiFi format, securing your network and other WiFi goodness that cutting the cable can bring you!

Author: Curt Moreno

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