Shaan Hurley has a new post about the AU2010 Blogger's Social in his Between The Lines blog.
"The event is for bloggers who actively blog on Autodesk product and events not really for blogs about their unicorn training, bacon weaving, or wicked butter carving skills."
Shaan, I happen to be very proud of my butter carving skills!
j/k, I'm actually crap at it. My artistic skills just aren't that great.
Yet, back in the day, I was a pretty good manual drafter, if the job was mapping, or transportation and utility design. I just wasn't much good at architectural stuff, despite winning 3rd place in the state high school archie competition my junior year. And my hand lettering was (and is) awful.
Eventually AutoCAD came along, combining what I did with what I was highly interested in (computers) and things changed up some. My main weaknesses became unimportant, and I started to understand what it was that made my work good in spite of them.
First off, I realized that what I liked about the work was REPRESENTING something, be it a subdivision, a road, a building, bridge, whatever, in a precise way. CAD let me be even more precise in the representation, and that's a big thing, but MUCH bigger is the skill I didn't realize I had.
It isn't enough to show the thing, you have to present it in an understandable way, with (only) the details and annotation needed to so that a builder can grasp the elements and the processes needed to turn the representation into the real thing. I've always had this attitude if the engineer gets huffy over how many hours it took to do such a simple plan sheet, I've done a good job.
I wish more of them understood that. It ISN'T simple, but the ability to make it seem so is why I'm still at it today. AutoCAD is a tremendous help, because it separates the representation from the page. That is becoming much more so now; with Civil 3D and Revit you develop the model long before you develop the plan sheets that show it. CAD gives you a lot more freedom when it comes time to develop those plan sheets, too - you can try different views, closeups, sections, etc. to give emphasis or clarification where needed.
You can't do it if you don't know the subject. I used to get assignments like, "Make us a new map set of the city at 50 scale, overlaid on the topo/ground feature drawings we got from the aerial mapping company. And I'd do it, because I know the stuff you need: plats, surveys, deeds (gotta learn title searching), even some of the history involved.
The same is true in most design fields. A lot of CAD monkeys are afraid that they will be replaced as engineers come out of school with CAD skills. That may be true if you are the type of drafter that can only draw details from sketches. If you work to know CAD the very best you can, work to understand the subject the best you can, and finally hone that communication aspect that the shavetail engineer does NOT have, don't sweat your job. You are a Designer, not a drafter.
So how do you get the CAD skills notched up? Grab all the training you can. Read blogs, ask questions. Be willing to use your own time for this stuff, too. Insist on getting your due help from the company, though. Subscription users have access to home installs, training modules, as long as your CAD manager and IT guys aren't too lazy to make them available to you. And ask for a trip to AU. Ask every year, in writing. The worst that can happen is they they say no, but if you never ask they'll never say yes.
I asked, and it worked. Several times. I still ask, but the answer doen't matter. I'm going, because it helps me improve my skills, and the people I see there are now friends that I want to see again. Among them are some of the top CAD brains out there, especially bloggers.
Improvement of my skills, and knowing these people, is why I started blogging. A great way to understand a subject better is to figure out how to explain it to somebody else. And like Chris at C3D Reminders says, it's a great way to file little bits for you OWN reference. He and Robin Capper both say that searching a question often finds them a link to the answer - on their own blogs!
I wish I was more prolific with it. Sometimes the motivation is hard to develop, like when work gets piled high. I think I do OK, and maybe have done some pretty good posts. Even if there is a post in there on teaching a Unicorn to fetch. Or maybe like a series I'm working on now - using ArcMap to get around things CAD doesn't do that well, so that you can then use CAD to finish the job using what ArcMap doesn't do well.
This is EklectiCAD, remember, and I am trying to help you and me get the job done.
And you know what? Check out a lot of the "top" blogs out there, and many don't post any more often than I do. That's no excuse, I still want to do better. I like and read what "they" do, and wish there was more. I hope there is somebody out there that wishes I'd do more.
Less than two weeks now until my flight to Vegas. Hope to see you there!