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27.7.15

Where the [BLEEP] Did My Download Options Go?!

Back in March, Autodesk rolled out it's new subscription management site manage.autodesk.com. From a user interface perspective, it is a much more logical layout and you can actually search for products now.

There are many improvements, but one of the things that annoys the ever-lovin' stuffin' outta me is that the download options are more difficult to find for some products. The website encourages people to use the "Install Now" feature for many products.

I'm not a fan of the "Install Now" option for several reasons. When using this option, the install downloads files as it goes. For products with smaller installation media, that's not a problem, but some products are kinda big. The Install Now option requires you to be connected to the internet for the duration of the install and stay logged into your Autodesk account. If something fails or your connection times out, you need to start over.

The best way to download Autodesk products is with the Download Now tool. You can also use the Browser Download, which uses your web browser's download manager rather than the Akamai one (Akamai is the third party web delivery service that manages Autodesk downloads). Both of these options pull the entire installation package to your hard drive.

For some products, you can find the additional download options in the More Options menu.

However, many products don't have those options. Grr. To find them, you have to dig a little deeper.

Scroll alllllllll the way to the bottom of your products listing. You will see a button that says Download Products.

This will bring you to an interface that looks more like the old subscription site. From here, you will be able to find the Download Now or Browser Download option for your product.

More tips for downloading your product install files:

  •  Make sure you get all pieces. (Turn off your web browser’s pop-up blocker temporarily to ensure you download all the files). 
  • Pay attention to the name of the file. If you see that the name of the exe ends with 001_003, that means your are looking at one of three separate downloads needed.
  • If you grabbed the correct files, you will see “dlm” as part of the name. That stands for download manager.  You will see "dlm" in both the Download Now and Browser Download obtained files. If you wee "wi" in the file name, that means you have the web installer which contains a portion of the files you need. If you try to run the Setup.exe from a "wi" folder, you will receive a Communication Failure message. 
  • Save all the needed files to a directory on your hard drive. These are the files that will be extracted and used to start the deployment. (In the “old days” these would have come on a CD).
  • After all pieces are downloaded using Download Now option, the exe will try to self-extract. Your computer’s settings may prevent EXEs from automatically running, in which case you will need to browse to the folder where you saved it and double click. If you used Browser Download, you always need to double-click the exe to get the extraction started.
Have fun downloading!

21.7.15

Etcetera (Totally Random, and Maybe a Little Icky)

This crazy poem popped into my head last night. I hadn't thought of it in YEARS, but the following is a poem that I learned in my college wastewater treatment plant design class. At the time I remember thinking, "Like, oh.mah, gawd. So gross!"

Milorganite is a commercial product sold by the Milwaukee sewerage district (MMSD). It is the concentrated, heat-sterilized organic material left over after the wastewater sludge removal process (eg dried poop). Milorganite is short for "Milwaukee organic nitrogen" You can pick a 36lb bag up at your local garden store for about $15. MMSD essentially breaks even on it after the cost of making it minus the cost of not sending the sludge to a landfill.
Milwaukee is a land of cheer,
German cooking, ale and beer;
They eat and drink from morn' 'til night,
And then they make Milorganite
Their ball team is quite their pride,
It's fame has traveled far and wide.
The grandstand has a place in sight
Where they can  go and make Milorganite! 
After the game they go to dinner,
It does not matter whose the winner;
And after sleeping through the night,
Start making more Milorganite!
I state without equivocation,
This chore has keen cooperation;
It's manufacture is an art,
Where everybody does his part. 
Old men, young men, perfumed ladies,
Boys and girls and even babies;
Grunt and strain and do what's right,
To pile up more Milorganite! 
                                          -Author unknown (NOT me)

A poem. Now we're all culture-ified! 

15.6.15

2016 Install Workaround: Navisworks Updates Won't Append to Network Deployment

In most Autodesk products, the page where you can choose to download a service pack or add an MSI has been replaced by Autodesk Application Manager (AAM).


For Navisworks 2016 (all flavors: Manage, Freedom and Simulate) the AAM doesn't pick up the updates for some reason. You'll see an empty screen that reads, "Your Autodesk Software is completely up to date - there are no updates needed."

This is a known issue and luckily there is a simple work-around.

When you create a deployment, you will see an Img folder with the reset of the deployment stuff. Inside the Img folder you will see an INI file who's name matches the deployment name. For example, if I create a deployment called Navis_Man2016, there will be a corresponding file called Navis_Man2016.ini.

Open this file in Notepad. In this file locate the section:

#==================== Autodesk Navisworks NW

[NW]
PLATFORM=x64
At the end of this section (before the language pack area), add the following line:
UPI=NAVMAN&2016&ENU64&13.0.1237.08

Believe it or not, that's it. After making that change to the INI, your deployment will recognize what version it is, therefore it knows what updates to grab from the internet.

For Navisworks Freedom 2016 and Navisworks Simulate 2016, you will do a very similar thing.

Find the sections:
#==================== Autodesk Navisworks Freedom

[FREEDOM]PLATFORM=x64

and add:
UPI=NAVFREE&2016&ENU64&13.0.1237.08 

For Simulate find:
#==================== Autodesk Navisworks Simulate

[FREEDOM]PLATFORM=x64
and add:
UPI=NAVSIM&2016&ENU64&13.0.1237.08



Such a small line to fix such an annoying issue. 
Enjoy. 

8.5.15

My Love Affair with Revo Uninstaller

Installing software on Windows is like ripping open a feather pillow in a wind tunnel. You can tell where many of the files go, but there are hundreds of registry entries, user-specific files and other files that seem to get stuck in the unseen corners of your computer.

A common solution to Autodesk software problems is to "uninstall and reinstall". Running the traditional Windows uninstaller from Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs really only uninstalls a small portion of the product. As a support person, we often tell people to do a "complete" uninstall. I find that people either, 1) Don't know what I mean exactly, or 2) Lie about it, thinking I'm just making them do extra steps to be sadistic.

A true, complete uninstall involves:

  1. Running the uninstaller.
  2. Manually deleting the following 
    • C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014\
    • C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2014
    • C:\Program Files (x86)\Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014
    • C:\Users\[user login]\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\C3D 2014
    • C:\Users\[user login]\Appdata\Local\Autodesk\C3D 2014
  3. Go to REGEDIT.exe
    • Verify that the following keys were removed:
      • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Autodesk\AutoCAD\R1#.#\ACAD-D000:409\
      • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Autodesk\AutoCAD\R1#.#\ACAD-D000:409\
    • (If the uninstall completed successfully, these should already be gone - but I always like to check *just* in case.)
  4. Clear the contents of the %temp% directory.
Even following those steps may not be enough. If you search your registry for the product you uninstalled, there are still many cling-ons. Additionally, doing all those steps is a huge PIA. That is where Revo Uninstaller Pro comes in. 

Revo is worth the license fee of $30-$70 (depending on what version and how many licenses you buy) because it cleans all the leftover files and registry entries automatically. Even if the program does not appear in Add/Remove programs, Revo Uninstaller will find it. It's like a high-colonic for your registry. 

A feature I use frequently is the Quick Uninstall tool. This allows you to pick a bunch of programs at once and uninstall them as a batch.
You do need to stay close by to keep hitting continue, however. It does not delete or uninstall anything without verifying twice. 

There are three modes; Safe, Moderate and Advanced. I recommend sticking with Moderate. With Autodesk products, Revo will delete the Autodesk Shared stuff if you set this to Advanced, and you don't want that; it will break other products you have installed alongside the one you want to obliterate. 

The best part comes when it gathers leftover registry entries, files and folders. It is so satisfying to select all those checkboxes and click DELETE!

There isn't anything that Revo does that a half-way decent IT person couldn't do manually (or script out if they are 3/4 decent), however it is a lovely convenience. 

For those of you in large organizations that want to uninstall stuff using SCCM or similar, Revo has command line support

My $0.02. I'm not getting any kickbacks from the Revo people for writing all this (although if you happen to work at Revo and want to pat me on the head for endorsing your product, I'd love a free copy of the Revo Uninstaller Pro Portable!), I genuinely like the tool and have used it for years. 


24.4.15

Dispatch from Support: Civil 3D is Slow

I sent this email TWICE today.

[Greetings and niceties omitted]

Minimum requirements for Civil 3D is 4 GB ram. Even though the recommended is 8gb, my personal recommendation is 16gb (32 if people will be working with LiDAR data / 3D scans).

Having said that, the two most common causes for poor performance in Civil 3D are: a) poor data management b) attempting to work off a WAN.

1.      If users are not already, it is imperative that they start using Data Shortcuts.  This is a huge help in improving data management practices.
2.      If they are working from a WAN, test to see if the performance improves if the project is copied local.
·        Both Vault and Projectwise eliminate this problem by temporarily copying files local as the user works.
3.      Make sure the Civil 3D level of detail setting is on. The command line entry for this is LEVELOFDETAIL.
4.      Set the WHIPTHREAD setting to 3
5.      Turn off tooltips (this often helps a lot). ROLLOVERTIPS = 0
6.      If any support file search paths (in AutoCAD options area) are looking to the WAN for resources, this is another huge slower-downer.



Here is my artist's depiction. I call it, "Needing Better Data Management."
This wasn't part of my earlier email, BTW. Just a doodle that expresses how it feels to work on a HUGE file over a WAN and/or without good file management in place.

It's a good thing I'm an engineer 'cuz I suck at art. :-)

15.4.15

Dispatch from Support: Parlez-vous Civil 3D?

Today one of my customers asked about installing a French language pack for Civil 3D 2015. And here's what I found out:

Civil 3D 2015 (and other releases) does not have a separate language pack installation.  With Civil 3D you need to download the entire installation package in the language of your choice. The same is true with Map 3D.

The following products DO have separate language packs that can be installed after the regular deployment/installation:

“vanilla” AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT
AutoCAD Architecture
AutoCAD electrical
AutoCAD Mechanical
AutoCAD MEP
Autodesk Inventor
AutoCAD Structural Detailing
Autodesk Revit Architecture/Structure/MEP

For the above list of Products, go to Help and find the link to Download Language Packs.


For most other products, a separate download is needed.
















Some products such as 3DS Max* and Autodesk Advance Concrete*, and Infraworks 360* there are multi-lingual downloads in manage.autodesk.com For multi-lingual products, there will be a screen in the installation/deployment creation where you pick the product language.





*There are other products that have multilingual installations, but I didn't comb through the list to find them all.