Windows 8 and Remote Desktop.

When you connect to a Windows 8 virtual computer or workstation via remote desktop there are some things that you should be aware of.

1. Logout of the session, don’t disconnect unless you really mean it.  Logging out release your session and closes your open programs and thus saves your work.  If you disconnect it is like simply “walk away” from the computer, all your applications are still running and your work is not saved.  When you reconnect you will be right where you left off. Disconnecting from a session is fine if you are aware of that.   Please don’t use disconnect as the end of day approach, you want to log off.

To logout of your session, press the Windows Key on the keyboard to return you to the Start Screen from there click on your name (upper right corner)  then pick sign out.

To disconnect from your session simply pick on the X to close your remote desktop software.

2. You can think of the Start Screen (formally know as metro)  as a full screen start button. Press the windows key on your keyboard to activate it and to deactivate it.  You can also use the Windows key to exit a full screen app.   Here are some other shortcut keys you should be aware of.

  • Alt-F4, Close an application
  • Win-I, take you to the setting screen here you can restart or power off your computer. Be careful in a remote environment about shutting down your computer.  You can turn in on remotely, so a call or trip to the office may be in order to turn it back on.
  • Win-L, Locks your screen.
  • Win-D, take you to your desktop mode, desktop mode is the fancy new term for the old interface we know a love.

3. To remove items from your Start Screen right click on the icon and at the lower part of the screen pick “Unpin from Start”.  Hint: you can control click on the icons to select more that one, then right click and pick “Unpin from Start” to remove multiple items at once.

4. If you can’t find your application you can search for it.  Press the Windows Key on your keyboard to return you to the Start Screen. Start typing in the name of the program, Windows will search for the application for you.  Don’t forget to look to the right because you may need to tell it is a setting instead of a app.

Once you get the hang of using Windows 8 you will feel right at home, and wonder how you ever used the Windows 7 or even XP.

Hopefully this little tips will help you with your transition to the brave new windows world.

 

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Troubleshooting Autodesk License Manager

Autodesk License Manager is not too troublesome to install and to make work, it either works or it doesn’t. When is doesn’t work there are a few things that you can check. Here is a list of basic things that I check when there is a issue with the Autodesk License Manager.

ADLM V4 vs V6

This refers to IP Version 4 and IP version 6, not the version of the Autodesk License Manager. If you don’t know which one you need you need the IP Version 4 edition of the license manager.

LMTOOLS

LMTOOLS is the utility that creates your AutoCAD License Manager Service and where we always start troubleshooting. The tab that is used the most for troubleshooting is preforming a Preforming Status Enquiry from the Server Status tab. Here you will see if the license file is actually formatted properly and working. Any error here will need to be corrected in the license file.

Checking your Autodesk License fie with LMTOOLS

Checking your Autodesk License fie with LMTOOLS

Firewall

Firewall is the next thing to look at, if you don’t have access thought the firewall your workstations can’t get a license. The ports you need to open in the firewall on the server are TCP 2080, 27000-27009.  These ports do not need to be open to the internet, just within your network.

Name Resolution

Proper name resolution or DNS is the backbone of any network. Without name resolution you will have timing issues trying to get a license. If you can’t get good name resolution you will need to tell your workstation the IP address of your License Server using the ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE variable, set that to @IP Address (example @192.168.1.10) See  Autodesk tech document “How to specify license servers using the ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE environment variable” for more information on setting environment variables.

To check your name resolution use NSLOOKUP from the command line, once in nslookup type the name of you license server, you should see something like this.

How to read a nslookup session

How to read a nslookup session

You will want to do a NSLOOKUP on both your server and a workstation.

Checking connection from workstation to server

The quickest way to check if you can talk to your license server from your workstations is to use Internet Explorer. Here are the steps:

  1. Start Internet Explorer
  2. type http://”License Server Name”:2080, so in our example I would type http://bim9fileserver:2080.
  3. You should see a screen like this.  If you don’t then there is a problem with connecting to the license server from your workstation.   Try again using IP address, if that works its a DNS issue.  If that doesn’t work check your server firewall.
Successful check result using Internet Explorer

Successful check result using Internet Explorer

 

One of these checks should at least point you in the right direction. From experience its either name resolution or the windows firewall causing the issue.

Bill.

Oh, and don’t forget to check the Default Gateway in your IP settings.

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Turn off Server Manager 2012

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 has a bunch of new things to learn and of course they changed a few things that we have learned a long time ago.  On of which is to turn off Server Manager when you logon to the server.

To turn off the server manager do the following days steps:

  1. Make the Server Manager screen active
  2. Click on Manage (Upper right corner)
  3. Select “Do not start Server Manager automatically at logon”
  4. Pick OK
  5. Press Alt-F4 to close server manager

Done.

I think the same person wrote this option as the person that wrote some of the Group Policy options.

 

 

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Hubba Hubba

Time to finally finish the front break job by replacing the rotor on the 1967 Austin Healey Sprite. I did not want to replace the rotor because I was afraid that the front bearing would explode on me when I removed the hub. Well when I had to replace the swivel axel on the drivers side because of the broken bolt and did not run in to any issues. I decided that removing the hub was not as bad as I read.

When I removed the hub today on the passengers side, the rear bearing was toast. The bearing came apart and now what was going to be a couple hour job replacing the rotor is now a multi-weekend project as I need to order a replacement bearings and seal. The hard part is figuring out how to remove the rest of the bearing from the axel without causing more harm.

Austin Healey Sprite front axel with bearing attached

Austin Healey Sprite front axel with bearing attached

Possible actions:

  • Chisel the thing off.
  • Use a drimmel cut off wheel and try to cut the bearing almost to the axel and then break it off.
  • Use the spare axel I have. This will be the last resort, even though it would be the easiest. But I would not learn anything, or get experience should I need to get something off I don’t have a spare of.

I went with the cold chisel method first. So to Lowes I go to get a chisel, yea I don’t have one get over it. I also picked up a 15/16th socket to put the axel nut back on. I did I not want to use the crescent again as I did I not want to damage it further. I kept the rubber o ring thing that came with it on so I could use them later if I wanted to protect something, it might be a good idea later. A few light taps later the bearing race came off the axel. I had to use the chisel alternating sides as I went to get the thing off.
20130105-190232.jpg

I guess thats what I get for thinking it was going to be a easy job.

Now I can order the replacement carb springs and the other things I need for my trunk kit.

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First Roadside repair on the Sprite today.

Took the 1967 Austin Healey Sprite out for a drive today, the last time I drove the Sprite the idle was too high after driving for a bit.  So I decided to take it out to just to see if the problem persists.  This time instead of the idle going up to 2000 RPM it decided to jump to 3500-4000 RPM.  Makes it kind of hard to drive, unless you are racing of course. Looks to me like my first roadside repair in upon me.

I decided to pull over and see what was up with the sprite. Good thing I purchased a tool kit for the car.   I was thinking it was one of the clamping bolts  as my troubleshooting skills switched from computer to car.  Clamping bolts were the last things that I touched that could cause it issue. Of course it could be anything, but clamping bolts seemed like a good place to start.

Looking at the motor, with it still running, I pressed down on each of the clamping bolt to see if one was loose. The I noticed the real cause of the problem, the rear spring came off of one end. After reattaching the spring everything was one with the world again. Back home I went to give the car a full look over.  I want to take that drive to Redrock Canyon soon, but not until the car is running without issues or maybe a bit warmer out.

Note to self of stuff to get / put in the car.

  • Check tool kit in the car and put what is missing back or add to.
  • Purchase new springs and put old springs in car part box.
  • Get car parts box.
  • Get points and condenser and spark plugs and spark plug socket for the box.
  • Get some working gloves for the trunk
  • Get wire brush for trunk kit.
  • Get a spare tire.

All in all it was a good outing today, a little cold but that’s what a scarf is for.

Bill.

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How to Restart a Windows Virtual Workstation

Why would you need to restart a Windows Virtual Workstation, hey it’s still windows.  Just like any normal Microsoft Windows computer you need to restart it every now and then.  The main cause of issues that require a restart is those pesky memory leakMemory leaks are simply when an application does not release all the memory it asked for. The solution to release the all the memory is to restart your computer. The problem lays when you are in a virtual or remote environment there is no restart button from the start menu.

Here are the steps to restart a Windows Virtual Workstation:

  1. Press the start or Windows button.
  2. Type in the search area: shutdown -r
  3. Wait.
Restarting a Virtual Windows Workstation

Restarting a Virtual Windows Workstation

The only word of caution, don’t use -s, -s shutdowns the computer. It kind of hard to turn on a computer remotely.

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BIM Clouds hey, what’s it really good for

If you answered “Absolutely nothing” I would have to disagree with you.

Most posts about I read on the internets about BIM Clouds, or in this case Private BIM Cloud computing, talk about the technology and how much money, if anything, it will save in hardware and software costs. When I first started creating Private BIM Cloud I too had my blinders on and only thought about the hardware, software and other infrastructure costs. I did not take me very long to open my eyes and look around at the larger picture.

Let’s talk about how Private BIM Clouds affect your business and changes the way it operates. Here are some positive effects of Private BIM Clouds:

Collaboration

Lonnie and I consider this to be the holy grail of BIM. We have all seen presentations for years, even decades, where all the trades are in a circle with BIM in the middle and arrows pointing to the center.  Ever ask yourself how the arrows work and what technology they were.  I did, thats how discovered a way to create Private BIM Clouds. Using a Private BIM Cloud the model can be stored in a single location, no more sync or uploading the model everyday. Everyone on your core design team works on the same dataset at the same time. Changes are made real time, everyone is working together to create and to achieve the same goal.  That goal is a better-coordinated design on time and on budget. Private BIM Clouds make true project collaboration possible.

Utilization of human resources

When the great recession hit, every company had to make difficult choices to stay alive. Cutting expenses, personnel costs by layoffs or reduction in salary, even looking at they way we did business. Most of us found that we keep key people in the company, but our “experts” were no longer located in the same city, state or even country. Branch office connection was the genesis of the Private BIM Cloud. We needed a way to meet our deadlines without the cost of non-reimbursable travel.  What I developed is a way for our highly qualified staff to work together from anywhere; I brought the user to the data electronically not physically. We no longer had to bring people in from other cities for weeks to meet a deadline; we leveraged the Private BIM Cloud to work for us, utilizing the investment in technology to lower our non-reimbursable travel expenses.  This savings alone paid for Private BIM Cloud.

Getting your weekend back

Ever had to go in the office for a quick fix, to find yourself there all day. Fly cross-country to go in the office on Saturday to finish something you could have done on the plane. Working anywhere, anytime on any device is what Cloud Computing is for.  Utilizing a Private BIM Cloud on the plane or in a design meeting you can utilize all the recourses in your office. The recourses can even be human recourses in your office. Imagine going to a design meeting having your entire staff working with you remotely, there is a lot that can be done when you centralize your data.

The hardware, software and setup costs pale in comparison compared to the items above. Your human cost in time and money is by far your largest cost, next to health care but that’s a different post by a different author.  We should all be looking at the “real” cost savings, stop trying to find the forest though the hardware. Granted Private BIM Cloud technologies are not the best fit for every company, but for the companies that find the advantages to Private BIM Clouds, its advantage is quite clear.

I invite everyone to look at the larger picture and discover how just the four examples I gave above are just the tip of the iceberg.

BIll

 

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Windows 8 and Autodesk Software.

I wanted to bring everyone up on the status of Windows 8 and Autodesk software.  As you know Windows 8 is new, and with anything new there is change.  Windows 8 is a big change for Microsoft, with Windows 8 Microsoft is trying to create an Operating System and is at home on your desktop PC, laptop, tablet or even a phone.  Creating this as you can imagine may cause issues with compatibility of older applications, AutoCAD being the oldest.

I am sure that Autodesk is hard at work trying to come out with patches or updates to support Windows 8, and we will see them soon.  In the mean time Autodesk has release an official list of “Supported Applications”, here is that list (as of this writing):

  • Autodesk 3ds Max 2013
  • Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2013
  • Autodesk Maya 2013
  • Autodesk MotionBuilder 2013
  • Autodesk Mudbox 2013
  • Autodesk Softimage 2013
  • Autodesk SketchBook Designer 2013

You can find Autodesk’s official document here: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/ps/dl/item?siteID=123112&id=19048377&linkID=9240617

Here at the BIM9 Brain Trust Lab we are currently testing Windows 2012 Server and Windows 8 and are finding that it is working quite well. But you need to remember that we can’t test everything and there may be issues during use in a production environment.

It is best to proceed with caution, and to be aware that if there is an issue Autodesk may not have a fix right away. Does this mean that Autodesk will not support a customer that is running Windows 8, in my humble opinion, the answer is maybe, because Autodesk needs feedback of what is broken they may be willing to help. Autodesk may also just say, “I am sorry but that is an unsupported platform.”  But at the end of the day, it’s really up to the customer to decided if they want to be a guinea pig or a trend setter.

Good luck and may your Private Cloud be with you.

Bill.

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What is a Private BIM Cloud?

As I am sure most people know I am one of the co-founders of BIM9. What you may not know is how and why BIM9 came about. Both Lonnie Cumpton (the other co-founder) and myself worked at a design firm that had many of the same set of issues every design firm has today. How do you connect several offices to the same Revit file at the same time?  Better yet how do you allow the extended design team to work on the same network at the same time? We used Riverbed and big bandwidth in the early days and spent all kinds of money to get it tuned it. Between the cost of big pipes and the Riverbed appliances we knew that a better way had to be available. The challenge of course is that most of the I.T. solutions and consultants did not understand Revit. At the same time the Revit consultants did not really understand IT. At BIM9 we bring the IT and Revit together, we have developed what we call a private BIM cloud solution.

The concept is simple. We can either provide the hardware or convert hardware that you provide into a private BIM cloud (PBC). A PBC can be one or many systems depending on how many people you want to support. A typical I7 CPU with 32GB of RAM can support up to 5 Revit users at once. Once the PBC is created it sits on your network behind your firewall and turns your network into a private cloud. You can access the PBC from inside or outside your network. The external access security is handled by what ever system you have in place today, typically a VPN. When you access the PBC all of the processing (running of Revit) is handled directly on the PBC. This means you never have to copy or replicate the Revit files to another system. We use the same central file process that you use today. The difference is that we can remote control the PBC from any device connected to the internet. When we created the private BIM cloud concept we had three primary goals.

  • No Copies – We wanted a system that did not create copies of data. We knew that centralize data would allow users to access it in a controlled manner. We believe in moving the user to the data not moving the data to the user. The trick of course is to move the user to the data without changing their physical location.
  • Hardware Flexibility – We wanted a system that can be installed on most available hardware. We did not want to create a solution that required a proprietary hardware configuration.
  • Price Friendly – We wanted a system that cost about the same amount or less money that companies currently (should) spend on local hardware for Revit users.

We are happy to say that the current BIM9 solution meet all of these goals.

BIM9 is a very open company the “secret sauce” is just our expertise. When BIM9 comes to your office we bring a high level of IT and BIM expertise and use it to help solve your issues. One of our services will even transfer that knowledge to your staff.

You can find more information at bim9.com

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First Implessions of Microsoft Surface

The BIM9 team was lucky enough to get a Microsoft Surface for AU this year to show off in the booth. Our intention is to show it connecting to our Private BIM Cloud. I can say it does that quite well.  No issues or custom apps to get to connect it, just use the Remote Desktop Connection software that is built in. The coolest thing is you can use a mouse, and use the mouse in Revit via a Private BIM Cloud!

My unscientific testing start by deciding not to read any of the documentation or watch any of the tutorials. I wanted to see if what I have learned about using computers starting in the 80’s, and my experience using tablets starting with the first iPad would carry be though.

Tablet or Netbook?

First impression is it a nice tablet. My second impression, after using it, its a nice netbook. Because it’s built on Microsoft Windows 8 it still feels like a PC. My first try turning on the tablet I pressed the volume button,  holding in the volume button in for a few seconds for some weird reason did not turn it on. Then I figured out it was not the power button.  Ok, first thing I felt dumb about, but that’s not Microsoft’s fault. One thing of note the volume button is not a rocker, its actually 3 buttons, Volume UP, Down and Mute.

Next was setting up the device and trying to connect to remote desktop.  I first tried to use the device without the keyboard/cover. I needed to find Remote Desktop Connector, I know that in Windows 8 I just simply type “Remo” and search would find it.  Trying to find the on-screen keyboard in the interface formally know as Metro was note as easy as I would have liked . You see when in Metro you simply type what application you want to use.  Typing does not bother me a I came from the world of AutoCAD and would type chamfer and redraw many time a hour.

Once found the all applications tile I was able to find Remote Desktop Connection, then it took me to the previous Windows interface, or the classic interface if you will. There I found the on-screen keyboard button. The Surface would play a different tone then you type, which became quite annoying, weird part was it played the sounds with the type cover. Good think I found the volume button earlier.

Now I have tools I need to connect to the Private BIM Cloud; A Mouse, A Keyboard and the Remote Desktop software. Connecting to the Private BIM Cloud was exactly like connecting from my Windows desktop, in fact all the setting and options are the same.  Once connected the remote experience was quite good,  I would say very good in fact, almost perfect. Just had the normal cursor lag in AutoCAD, Revit worked great.

Now let talk about the Surface itself. I decided to write this review using the surface so I could experience it in all its glory.  I attached its keyboard, I did not get it connected right the first time,  I am now wondering how many tablets they broke making the TV spot we have all seen. Once the keyboard connected, I popped the kickstand out no click, more of a ping than a click. The keyboard itself is rather difficult to get used to, you want to press hard on the keys but the lighter you type the easier it is to type. At this point in the review my fingers hurt.  So I a going to take a break.

Day two:

I noticed that the type cover has the fuzzy cleaning stuff on the outside. Which is a good idea but in practice it just collects dust and other stuff.  The magnetic charger as difficult to attach it, the fit was too tight for the charger attachment to just simply fit in. Over all I would rather have a more plastic type outside on the cover.  Also the felt on the working side looks to me like it would get dirty fast from the oil in your skin.

Enough if the negative stuff. lets talk about what Microsoft did right. (switching to real keyboard now)

Comparing surface to the iPad and Samsung tablets, I would put the surface right in the middle of the two. It’s much better that any android table I have used, but not quite as easy to use as the iPad. If you are trying to decided between an ultrabook or a tablet, then the surface is for you.  If you want a pure tablet then you may want to look at the iPad.

  • The build quality of the surface is very good, much better than the samsung. It’s not quite as good as what Microsoft states, the connectors are too tight and for magnetic connectors you need to guide them to get them connected correctly.
  • Computing speed.  The Surface is a very snappy little computer.  I was surprised how good it’s performance was. I did not run in to any speed issues or did I wait longer than I expected to start any applications.
  • Office 2013. Microsoft has included a preview version of up and coming version of Office 2013. A nice touch is Microsoft will be updating your Surface to the shipping version of Office 2013 when it’s ready. What makes me wonder is why the Office team at Microsoft could not ship Office with Windows 8.
  • Windows Logo is the home button.  I guess if I would have read the instructions I would have know that.

Bring it to the Surface

Overall, I like the surface but I would still use my iPad for twitter. But I would sure use a Surface to use it to connect to a Private BIM Cloud and run Revit. Would I purchase one? If my iPad and MacBook Air were long in the tooth and needed to be replaced I would really thing about getting one.  Of all the negative and positive things I have said about the Microsoft Surface, the biggest missing feature is LTE or any form of mobile internet. Without LTE its very hard to recommend Microsoft Surface.

 

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