Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

July General Meeting Report

Don Essick, Vice President, Macintosh

Things went much smoother for me this time. In the last episode, you will remember the Be demo fiasco. That is all behind us now. The equipment was all in place, just the date was changed and the change didn't make it into the journal. I'll bet there were some confused Pi members who showed up on 27th to find a cat show in our place. Hope they had fun!

The meeting opened with the usual Questions and Answers as I completed setting up the equipment. Tom Witte did his usual good job with help from various other members. Lawrence Charters, the outgoing VP for Mac was recognized for his long and successful tenure. We then moved on to club business. The general membership was asked, in accordance with the bylaws, to approve the expenditure of up to $12,000 of the organization's funds to purchase computers for the Pi's tutorial classrooms. This expenditure will allow us to offer more "hands-on" tutorials without requiring attendees to bring their own machines. The motion was approved.

There was also a discussion regarding the Volunteer Hotline numbers which appear in every Journal. The list is woefully out of date and many of the persons listed are no longer living in the area or are no longer Pi members. Please turn to the Hotline page of this or any other Journal. If you have expertise with hardware or software that you are willing to share with other Pi members, please volunteer to have your name listed. You need not be a pocket protector carrying geek. All you need is a willingness to help a fellow Pi member who is having trouble with a certain piece of hardware or software. Volunteer if you can by posting your name and contact info on the Volunteer board on the TCS.

The vendor demo was presented by Diehl Graphsoft (http://www.graphsoft.com/) represented by Dan Monaghan and Frank Barult. MiniCad 6, their flagship product is a Computer Aided Design package which works on both the MacOS and Windows.

The package has so many features, it would take hours to show them all, so Frank gave us a quick overview of several pre-drawn examples and modified them using the products features and tools. If you have ever tried to draw a floor plan or done any mechanical drawing on vellum with a pencil, you can readily appreciate the tool that allows you to draw a wall, window or door with just a mouse click. Even nicer, when you have finished your drawing, you can switch to the 3D view and "walk around" your project!

Many years ago, I worked with a CAD package which ate up a big IBM mainframe just to do only the 2-D part of the process. It used special terminals and plotters which cost more than a car too! MiniCad6 does all of this for less than $600. Unlike most of its competition, it also comes with a host of toolsets for most popular CAD uses, construction, engineering, landscape, train layout, electrical and even cross stitch at no extra charge.

An integrated database keeps track of the resources used in a drawing, something which comes in very useful in doing cost estimates. You can even assign properties to objects which will allow you, for example, to show how plants used in landscaping will look in the first year, after 1 year, after 5 years or 20 years. We also saw a demo of an upcoming feature which will use the database to provide a breakout of all of the parts of a project and provide cutting lists for the carpenters, calculates requirements for wallboard, painting and other tasks. We didn't get a definite answer as to whether this will be an extra cost option. There is also a capability (only on the Mac) to export models to QuickTime to create multimedia presentations. MiniCad6 can import or export files in DXF file format to and from other CAD packages.

Frank also attempted a mini-demo of a future product feature that will support QuickDraw 3D. It didn't work, unfortunately, but it will reportedly allow MiniCad to do 3-D rendering using textures, light sources and all of the other goodies associated with 3D rendering.

Next, we attempted a brief demo of Disk First Aid. This was an impromptu demo and of course it showed. I think maybe we will continue to do these, but with more advance planning and forethought. Perhaps a "topic of the month" coordinated with the Disketeria so that you can take home what you see plus other helpful utilities. Your suggestions are welcome to my e-mail address, don.essick@tcs.wap.org.

As usual, the meeting concluded with a drawing. The grand prize, a copy of MiniCad6 went to Joanne Newton. Other winners were: American Heritage Talking Dictionary: Sue Ware; America Online T-shirt and Software with 15 free hours: Judy Rumreich, Walter Forlini, Allen Kent; Firefighter CD-ROM game (Simon and Schuster): Stanley Schofield; Hyperstudio CD-ROM: Don Franklin, Charlie Stancil, Rich Shafer, Glenda Finley, Beth Leach; Iomega T-Shirt: Daniel Bairley, User Group Connection Mouse pad: R. B. Birdsong, Todd Haynes, Jan Bailey.

Our sincere thanks to Proxima for providing our projection equipment and to Graphsoft for coming to our meeting.

Send meeting comments to: don.essick@tcs.wap.org.

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