Archive for January, 2012

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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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

Q&A with CADspeed: Remote Graphics versus Virtual Desktop

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

FirePro RG220 Remote Graphics cardEditor’s Note: Q&A with CADspeed answers CAD hardware questions from our readers. This question was a response to Tony DeYoung’s recent blog series about remote graphics.


Could you explain the difference between remote graphics and hosting a virtual desktop by running a VM session from a server with MS server 2008 and RDP or Citrix? It seems exactly the same. This also seems similar to the way Onlive gaming works — just the graphics are being sent. Another question you might be able to answer: can the RAM & graphics card be dynamically shared or are they allotted and dedicated to the VM session?


The quick answer is the FirePro remote graphics solution can be used in either a 1-1 remoted solution (e.g., one remote workstation running AutoCAD with a FirePro card providing graphics to one user) or a 1-N multiple VMs remoted solution (e.g., one server workstation running two copies of AutoCAD each in a VM, with two FirePro cards providing high performance 3D graphics to two users).

The card does not virtualize it’s own 3D driver, so it can’t dynamically allocate some computing to one user and leftover computing ability to another (which is what Microsoft does with RDP for non-3D graphics).

The real advantage of remote graphics is that you can have one workstation “server” rather than four individual workstations (or workstation laptops). And, of course, the security of having all data remote.

Have a question about your CAD hardware? We’ll try to find the answer. Contact CADspeed.

Author: Tony DeYoung

AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management – Part 3: Managing Your Room Changes from the Cloud

January 11, 2012 3 comments

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

In Part 2, we talked about how easy it is to manage our space in our building from the cloud, using a tablet device and AutoCAD WS. This time, we are sharing from FULL AutoCAD using the AutoCAD WS plug-in.

Managing Your Room Tables from the Cloud

Quite often, the FM manager needs to get revised FM CAD information to a remote facilities site within minutes to make sure that the work is done with as little time lapse as possible, in different time zones, for example.

An FM drawing in FULL AutoCAD with a room areas table. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

An FM drawing in FULL AutoCAD with a room areas table. (Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Now, the issue is the facilities manager in London wants to convert RM-0012 and RM-0013 into the one room, RM-0012. He needs to get the changes over to the facilities technician in Abu Dhabi working on the new hotel design, who is running AutoCAD WS on a tablet device (an iPad, maybe).

Step 1

Using full AutoCAD, the manager in London has already shared revision 2 (Rev2) of the drawing that shows the TWO rooms. The manager makes the necessary changes to make RM-0012 one LARGER room by erasing RM-0013.

Rev 3 of the FM drawing showing changes that need to be made. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Rev3 of the FM drawing showing changes that need to be made. (Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Once the drawing is saved, the FM manager UPLOADS the drawing to the cloud with the AutoCAD WS plug-in and then SHARES the drawing with the FM technician on-site in Abu Dhabi.

Sharing the FM drawing using the AutoCAD WS plug-in. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Sharing the FM drawing using the AutoCAD WS plug-in. (Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Step 2

The FM technician in Abu Dhabi receives an email from the FM manager in London on his tablet device.

Email received by FM technician on tablet device. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Email received by FM technician on tablet device. (Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Step 3

The FM technician chooses to view the drawing in AutoCAD WS online (as shown in figure above).

So, this time, the AutoCAD WS plug-in for full AutoCAD provides the 24/7 timeline and allows drawing management and revisions to be shared to the cloud, on a tablet device.

Author: Shaun Bryant

RAID for the CAD Workstation

January 6, 2012 Leave a comment

RAID-1 can be used in a workstation.

RAID is an option you’ll likely want to consider for a new workstation, depending on the model you choose. The acronym stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, and refers to the redundancy that provides reliability and data security. By far, the most common options offered in workstations are RAID modes 0 and 1.

RAID 0 is a misleading term, as it actually implements no redundancy, but focuses on raising storage performance instead. By “striping” interleaved data across two drives, read bandwidth (but not write) essentially doubles. Unlike RAID 1, each additional drive in a RAID 0 configuration adds incremental storage. The downside? Not only does RAID 0 lack fault tolerance, but because your system is now relying on all drives to function, it is more prone to failure. If you have twice the number of the same drives, you are twice as likely to lose data.

RAID 1 is straightforward data redundancy, typically mirroring data onto at least two disks. Disks in the array can fail without compromising data integrity as long as one remains healthy. Because data is redundant, you are essentially sacrificing half your capacity in return for fault tolerance.

Where your data is stored and how often it is backed up can help you make the call on RAID 1. If your sacred data is on a server or shadow copies are being made frequently, you can probably pass on RAID 1, as you are effectively implementing redundancy already. But if your unique copy of data resides for extended periods of time on your individual desktop machine, RAID 1 can be an attractive option.


RAID-5 is just one level of RAID -- there are many configurations available.

Several other RAID modes are available. RAID 5, supported on some models, offers a performance boost in disk-striping plus the fault-tolerance benefit of redundancy. The drawback of implementing RAID 5 is that it requires a minimum of three disks, thereby limiting its utility to higher-end, higher-price machines.

Author: Alex Herrera

Mobile Vs. Deskside: CAD Workstations Don’t Follow Conventional Rules

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

A disconnect has been emerging between the perception and reality of mobile workstation sales and usage. Since its emergence almost a decade ago, I’ve viewed the mobile workstation as a slam-dunk when it came to replacing conventional corporate/consumer notebooks, as they are far more appropriate devices for hard-core graphics professionals. But especially recently, the buzz about mobile machines becoming more than road-warrior tools — but instead deskside replacements —has gotten louder.

Now, I haven’t been talking up a major shift to mobiles, despite the buzz, as I’ve maintained there are fundamental reasons workstation users won’t make the move en masse the way the mainstream has. While the mobile workstation has indeed established itself as a major contributor (roughly a quarter of all units sold), desksides are still the dominant majority. Mobiles remain a critical tool for the hard-core workstation user, but unless that user’s really out of the office for the majority of his time, the mobile isn’t going to replace the deskside, at least not in the majority of cases.

A while back, Intel CEO Paul Otellini officially declared the end of the desktop’s reign as the leading PC form factor, having been passed in volume by notebooks (and all its derivative mobile forms). But as one might expect after thinking about typical professional usage models, the workstation market doesn’t play by the same rules.

Unlike broader PC market, deskbound workstations still outsell mobiles

Unlike broader PC market, deskbound workstations still outsell mobiles ~3:1. (Source: Jon Peddie Research)

Contrary to the perception of some, the mobile form factor’s share of the workstation market has been flat for the past two years (bouncing around the 25% level) and really hasn’t changed that much since four years ago, when it accounted for about 20% of sales.

Now there’s no doubt the mobile workstation will remain a vibrant and valuable segment of the workstation market — and might take the place of desksides in niche pockets to address special circumstances. But the fact that its share flattened after a strong period of growth reinforces the notion that it won’t be a broad-based replacement for its more traditional, fixed-location sibling

Would you give up your deskside CAD workstation for a mobile? Why or why not? Leave a comment and let us know.

Author: Alex Herrera