Thursday, November 24, 2011

Comfortably numb

I've been thinking about the user experience lately. And I've come to the conclusion: It's amazing what you can get used to.

Case in point. CET Changed the behavior of the Schemes dialog pop up box. It used to pop up in the upper right hand corner but now it remembers where it was last and pops up there. This is so much nicer. I forgot that it bugged me and I simply got used to it.

This happens to power users all the time. We find work arounds or just get used to it. But the bug is still there.

As a trainer and a power user I’m in a unique position to watch new users get frustrated by bugs that have long since stopped bugging me. This fresh perspective is something most of us gloss over.

A couple weeks ago I was training some designers who are dealing with very badly drawn furniture symbols.  They learned to deal with them by redrawing the symbols correctly. All this extra work because the people who drew the symbols originally haven't responded to their complaints. Like most of us, after a while you stop complaining and just deal with it.

My challenge to you is, UNITE.

You need to make yourself a thorn in the side of the software companies.That's what I do. A lot of times complaining to a huge company like Microsoft or AutoCAD makes you feel like you’re the only one not clapping at the end of a rock concert. Smaller companies are different. They tend to care about complaints. CET, CAP, ProjectMatrix, and others like them fall into this category.  

A lot of my students say they don't have time to report the little things but I say if we all complain a little, maybe they will fix it.

Every thing they fix is one less thing you have to remember when using the software. And that makes your job a tiny bit easier. All these tiny bits add up.

So instead of being numb to the weird idiosyncrasies, tell someone.  

If you don't know who to tell, tell me.

I'll tell them!  

Be thankful!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vegas Baby!

The CET User Conference in Las Vegas last week was excellent!  I saw a lot of old friends, met some new ones and learned some new tips as well!

One thing I can away with is I am more inspired than ever to learn SketchUp better. Aidan Chopra from Google SketchUp spoke and he was excellent.  I really see where it can work with CET but also with CAP & ProjectMatrix. With specials being so important it's nice to have a 3D drawing tool that I can use to create customs in, export to ACAD or CET and add intelligence and then render. I bought the Pro version last week for $500 to be able to import/export ACAD symbols but that seems like it will be worth it once I get good.  And it won't take me long to get good!  Three reasons:

  1. It's easy - my 9 year old son plays in it and he taught himself. I figure if he can I should be able to.
  2. There are loads of videos and tutorials online to help. 
  3. It's fun.  I find myself playing in it when I'm supposed to be doing something else.
I might use SketchUp for sketchy renderings too but I think my use will be mostly for specials.

Tip 2
Another great tip I got from the conference was to use Movie Maker for presentations.  Whether you are doing walk thoughs or just have renderings and text it was a FREE way to pull stuff together.  I downloaded it today and will check it out.  I am all about FREE software!  

Naturally it wasn't all about work - the food and the costume party were great. There were some very creative costumes. I'm not sure I want to see the photos! I had plenty to drink so I was at my BEST dancing! LOL

Thanks for reading,