Sunday, December 30, 2007

I resolve...

I finally have a chance to sit down and crank out some work- but before I do, I wanted to jot down my New Year's Resolutions.

I resolve to...

...always read National Geographic cover to cover instead of just flipping through and looking at animal pictures then putting it on the shelf.

...stop buying pre-formed cookie dough for eating as a snack.

...only submit ONE Autodesk University class this year- and not get talked into submitting additional classes no matter how appealing the subjects may sound except if they sound really appealing and incredibly difficult to prepare.

...turn in my Autodesk University Class papers in on time.

...never buy anything because it is easier to buy it new than to dig in the attic for the one I already have.

...not to make a full pot of coffee when I know I will only drink one cup.

...never "accidentally" turn two pages at a time when reading an especially wordy book to Panorama. at least one smart book every month, even if it has words in it that I don't understand- such as "moderation", "sleep", and "vacation". Also, I will not skip any chapters in said smart books.**

...get off my butt and get my P.E. done in October. Mr. Probert got his last year, and as of today, he has finished his Masters in Civil Engineering (!). The ball is in my court, and after 10 years, I think it's about time I got the dang thing out of the way.

Happy New Year!!!

**So, I read Atlas Shrugged in college, but I skipped about 20 pages in the middle. You know, that long, boring and irrelevant soliloquy of a radio address that Galt does about 3/4 of the way through? Yeah, well, I read about 3 pages of it, decided that I got the point (blah blah objectivism, self-reliance, the meaning of life and the free market blah blah) and moved on hoping for some more sexual tension between Dagny and Galt, or Dagny and Reardon, or Dagny and the Railroad. If I happen to mention this fact to any die hard Rand fans, they look at me with so much disgust that I am tempted to reread the book and actually pay attention. But with so much Shopaholic and Jessica Darling to read, who has the time? Laissez-faire literacy, that's what I say.


Today I am listening to Winter Songs from iTunes Essentials Apple iTunes

Friday, December 28, 2007


After all, he is half Canadian...

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hope You Had a Great Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Panorama, Prospector and all of us Proberts.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Dinner Chez Probert

I've managed to close Civil 3D for a few hours (but of course I didn't shut down my computer). I need a break from raiding the household appliances for batteries as we put together this year's slog of toys. Steal from the smoke detector, flashlights and emergency radios, but leave those AAA in the remote alone!

Since Mr. Probert and I have long stopped traveling back to our respective homes for Christmas, we have become a Mecca of sorts for reveling grandparents and vagabond younger siblings.

The first crowd comes with white kid gloves for baseboard inspections and expectations of appetizers, wine glasses and placemats. My napkin rings better'd be in good order, and the tree'd best have ornaments on the visible side AND the side facing the wall. Right before the doorbell rings I employ the trick my father taught me as a child "Look at the tree and squint. If you see any gaps in light, you need to do some rearranging."

The second group is a little more forgiving. My office becomes a flophouse upon the addition of a few aerobeds and quickly fills up with laptops, musical instruments, polar fleece, hoodies and sneakers.

Our job is to keep the fridge packed with beer, bagels and brie (no cream cheese for this crowd) and to present the visiting relatives with a pair of smiling youngin' s for kissing and tossing in the air.

We are usually spared visitors on Christmas Day itself, but this year, I volunteered to cook dinner for my parents and one of my younger brothers. Though I am 31 years old and have been living on my own for over 10 years now, and I have hosted holiday meals for my in-laws on several occasions, my mother is thoroughly convinced that I am incapable of preparing a meal more complicated than the Blue Box. She offered to take us out for Christmas Dinner, but we live in the middle of Hell's Half Acre, and even his restaurant is closed for the birth of Christ.

While I make no promises to be the Ritz Carlton, I think we'll have a heck of a nice dinner with minimal fuss. In case you are still trying to figure out what to serve for dinner- here is my menu:

Cream of Beet Soup with Sour Cream, Parsley and Croutons

Rib Eye Roast with Mustard and Black Pepper (pg 269)

Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Parmesean (pg 236)

Crock Pot Au Gratin Potatoes

Steamed Asparagus

and my Mom is bringing some sort of Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake, which she claims has been more work than preparing an entire Christmas dinner and if it doesn't taste good she's going to be PISSED.

Back to battery pilfering... and coffee with Baileys so I can stay awake to meet Santa but be too drunk to remember...

Merry Christmas to All!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Civil 3D Rocks Christmas Mix

Our favorite tunes for the Holiday Season.

Civil 3D Rocks Christmas iMix

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Millsboro Public Library Thanks You for Your Support

So a few people have asked me "What's the deal with the ads on your blog?"

Well, it's an experiment.

At first I thought it would be nice if Civil 3D Rocks generated enough revenue to pay the loan on my farm every month (approx $1200 per month). When that didn't happen, I thought well maybe it can generate enough revenue to pay my mortgage (approx. $800 per month). Hmm. OK, no dice there. Car payment? No. Groceries? Nyet. Then how much money could I make from ad revenue on Rocks?

What could it possibly pay for?

This week, I figured out what your clicks can help me with...

Around Halloween, Pannie and I made our weekly trip to the library and borrowed this book:

It's one of those books that kids latch on to that adults HATE from the first reading. I couldn't have been gladder to get it the heck out of my house two weeks later.

A few days hence, I check my library account online and see that I haven't actually returned Porkenstein. Dang it. There must be a mistake. I returned every one of those stupid books, right? We had a similar experience with an equally annoying book (Time to Pee!). The librarian "tsk tsk"ed me while looking up over her spectacles-on-a-chain and accused me of setting a bad example for my daughter. Not only was I harboring illegal children's books but she knew for a fact that the week before Mr. Probert had the audacity to attempt to use my library card instead of his own. I was extremely pregnant at the time, so I waddled over to the shelf and located the craptastic piece of literature, then in an act of extreme irony, I shuffled off to the bathroom. I foresaw a similar confrontation in my future over Porkenstein.

In early October, Mr. Probert had set up our two man tent in the backyard so that he and Pannie could have a last few camp outs. Time passed and things got busy and the tent just stayed pitched long after it was too cold for sleeping bags and ghost stories.

Well, last week he finally packed the tent away. And guess what was inside? Freakin' Porkenstein .

So... Google Ads earn me about $0.10 per day which is equal to the daily rate for delinquent books at the Millsboro Public Library. Thanks to Civil 3D Rocks, I can thumb my nose at due dates once and for all. At least for one book at a time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Dad Would Have Stopped for Directions Sooner

I grew up outside of Philadelphia. While Philadelphia is not exactly in the snow belt, we are no stranger to the winter storm. Every winter, there would be a few big snowfalls. While our parents taught us how to drive in the snow, the typical response to such a storm was "Just stay off the roads". Schools would be closed, Dad would go into work late, and there really wasn't much to worry about since the roads would be clear in about 24 hours and it would be a good few weeks before the next big storm.

When I moved to Edmonton, I soon learned that this approach would not be appropriate. By Halloween it was -20 degrees Celsius with a foot of snow on the ground. There really wasn't much plowing done- the natives told me this was because though Edmonton received vast drifting volumes of the white stuff, it was "Friendly Snow", which I could only imagine was some sort of socialist snow that always said please and thank you.

And so that first winter in Alberta, I learned this: If you don't figure out how to get around in the snow, you won't be going anywhere for a long time. So you buy some serious boots and a serious hat and you never lose you gloves and you plug in your car and you get over it. There is no use commenting on the snow piling up outside the office window, because it ain't like you are going to be allowed to leave early. Kids go to school, trick or treat and show up for cub scouts during blizzards that would have had my family sitting around the fireplace in our pajamas for days.

After the birth of Panorama, I saw that this axiom applied to children as well. If I didn't figure out how to transport one squealing little person from point A to point B, I would never have a reason to put on makeup. Or to bathe for that matter. With the arrival of Prospector, the lesson was driven home even further. With Panorama, it was nice to get out of the house once in awhile and do some shopping or eat a meal. With Prospector, it has become a necessity. Pannie has to be driven to her samba lessons and her metal shop class. She would notice if we never went to the beach anymore or ask why she hasn't seen her Grandmother in a few years.

With Panorama, I hated my giant stroller and never took it anywhere. Or, mostly, I didn't take it because I had to completely dismantle it in order for it to fit in the trunk of my Toyota Echo. I looked on in disgust as other mothers pushed land yachts around the mall knocking over clothing stands as they balanced their lattes and razers in the cupholder-organizer trays. I wore birkenstocks and carried Pannie in a sling and knew that the pain in my shoulder was not really pain but the pride of doing parenting right.

This time, it's a little different.

Once Mr. Probert went back to work and the hordes of relatives scattered back to distant lands, it was just Me and Them. A pouty, sassy three year old with nap-denial and seemingly random potty requirements and a writhing, red-faced, screaming, nocturnal and super sized newborn who seemed to have read the "Book of Baby Panorama" and decided to do everything TOTALLY OPPOSITE of what she did just to keep me guessing and my mind sharp. Better than Soduku.

So I bought a serious mini-van with a serious DVD player. I keep the rear seats stowed so that I can wheel my stroller into the back of the van without even folding it let alone dismantling it. I'm not ashamed to plow through the mall with it now, in fact, I'd love to add on to it with a sidecar or maybe a dorm fridge. I've stopped packing suitcases (to much trouble) and now I just put all of our clothes and gear into a few laundry baskets.

So when Mr. Probert had some work in D.C. this week, I said "Count Us In!" and packed up the posse for some fun at the National Zoo.

D.C. and I have an arrangement. I refuse to use GPS or look at a map, and in return, it always allows me to wind up where I need to be. Eventually. I actually love driving in D.C. After my first experience of getting lost and almost causing a 10 car pile up around DuPont circle, I started chalking up my steering wheel and leaving really early. The streets of D.C. sing a Siren's Song of Alphabet, State Names and Numbers that lull you into a dreamlike state and you start believing that there is a structured grid system for the roads. Combine that with the spun sugar cherry blossoms, the sidewalk cafes and the charming Georgetown architecture and you're in such a haze don't even care that your gauge is below empty and not only are there no gas stations but no place to stop, period.

I've never driven around D.C. with kids in the car, but such a thought didn't cross my mind as I took a cursory glance at Google maps in the hotel before leaving. I actually said to Mr. Probert "30 minutes to go 13.8 miles? Whatever." I get everyone buckled in and shove off.

If purgatory is a place on Earth, it's where US-50 turns into New York Avenue. One minute you are cruising along a perfectly attractive limited access highway... then you are slamming on the brakes into a brick wall of jersey barriers, all day traffic and no left turns. Since I didn't think to jot down the directions, I couldn't remember if I was supposed to make a right turn or a left turn on Florida Avenue. When I get to Florida Avenue, I notice that you can't turn left, therefore the directions must have said turn right but I realize this in the middle of the intersection and hang a sharp left into a McDonald's parking lot where I manage to get back on New York Avenue going the opposite direction with no U-Turns in sight.

At this moment, Prospector decides that he didn't get enough at the all you can eat breakfast buffet and begins WAILING. So I make my next possible right turn into a bank parking lot, stop the car and feed him. As I am feeding him, I notice that we don't seem to be in a "bad" neighborhood... but it's some sort of Import Warehouse district. Then, a few police cars pull up. About 12 officers get out, put on reflective vests that say "POLICE" and huddle up into some sort of conference. I watch enough of the Closer to know that they'd be wearing vests, helmets and shields if some sort of shakedown was in effect, and I feel confident knowing I am probably in the safest place in all of the DC Metro Area since every cop in the city is right here.

I finish feeding him, strap him in and take off for another shot at Florida Avenue. Florida turns into U. No problems so far. The zoo is on Connecticut Ave. I pass Vermot. New Hampshire. Massachusetts, Rhode Island. I MUST be getting close- I'm in New England After all. Then I miss a turn, wind up back on Florida and begin my ritual "hunt for a way back". I apply Philadelphia logic "If this road is one way this way, the next will be one way the other way, and I can just make a square..." then SWOOSH, I somehow slingshot through a traffic circle, change lanes to avoid a kamikaze Metrobus and start passing California, Wyoming, Ontario... Now I'm not even in the right country.

Turning mistakes in D.C. are cumulative and you can almost hear the sound effects of a pinball machine as you drive. Ping! DuPont Circle! Slam! Logan Circle. Zonk! Mount Vernon Square. Blam! Road closings for some sort of March for a Cause. Game Over! Each circle with a park or center feature so attractive it seems like it was put there on purpose to distract you from the microscopic road signs, pedestrians licking ice cream cones and "right turn only" pavement markings that forcibly direct you into a mire of alphabet soup and "NW" avenues vs. "SW" streets. "Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!"


I wind up on the wrong side of the Rock Creek. Or maybe the Potomac.


Pannie has long since given up asking when we will be there to see the Pandas and she is looking a bit green from all of the spinning. "Mommy, why does the car feel like it just tipped over?" "Remember, Pannie, a U-Turn is only illegal when there is a sign that says so." I seek out the minivan compass for advice but it returns only a Sad Mac. Desperate for some solution, I trust my inner GIS and get myself back over whichever body of water I crossed and begin looking for a gas station or a starbucks or a paralell parking spot where I can front-in (not very good at parking this monster yet) and just as I am about to give up, Pannie screams "I SEE Z-O-O".

So Google Maps needs to revise their time estimate to from 30 minutes to 74 minutes. And someone needs to get me a car GPS for Christmas.

Looking for a Civil 3D book? Check out Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008

Friday, December 07, 2007

Other things that ROCK

If you don't watch this show, you must start immediately.
NBC has the best streaming episode viewer out there (and trust me, I watch a lot of streaming TV these days while up late feeding the baby) and you can also download episodes to watch offline.

Looking for a Civil 3D book? Check out Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008

Friday, November 30, 2007

Panorama Loves Swag

Autodesk Subscription served up this healthy breakfast and wizard hat for Pannie.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

AU SNAFU (2005)

I'm sitting in the Vegas airport getting ready to board my red-eye back home to Panorama and Prospector.

AU this year was more of a blur than normal for me. I flew in on Tuesday afternoon and I'm leaving on Thursday night. There were two big booth nights this year that were amazing fun but very draining. I always find it difficult to make time for meals, breaks and fun in the midst of so much good old fashioned CAD frenzy. It's even harder to make time to visit with old friends who have their own booths to run, classes to teach and clients to meet with. I mean, even the DWF Spot didn't have time for me. I didn't see him once. Or maybe he got fired... I can't be sure.

I was trying to remember the other years I attended AU. This was only my third time. Each year is marked with it's own interesting memories... but my favorite is from AU 2005.

AU 2005
Beth and I were super keen that year. We got up for breakfast at 6AM and had to be forced out of class at 6PM. We went to every single session and read handouts on the shuttle bus and at our hotels at night. It was fun, educational and uneventful with one big funny screw up as we were leaving.

We had called the BeeLine shuttle to take us to the airport at 545AM. A white van pulls up to the hotel. Beth asks the driver if he is our BeeLine shuttle. He says yes. We get in.

Beth's cell phone rings. It's our BeeLine Shuttle driver. He's waiting at the hotel for us. Hmmm...

After figuring out that our current driver is not a kidnapper, but merely a complete idiot, we decide to just let him drive us to the airport. Funny thing is- he wants to charge us $50, and between the two of us we only have $15. He drops us off with his tail between his legs and we go into the airport.

So... our terminal is decidedly dead. Our flight is not listed on the board. Lovely. Turns out our flight was cancelled. Not just cancelled due to weather or something, but totally and completely removed from the flight schedule. Weeks ago. I guess when we checked in for the flight down the airline didn't feel the need to let us know this. Yeah, ok, we should have confirmed everything again, but C'MON.

So here we were. 6AM. We had barely dodged being stuffed into a gunny sack and thrown into the Everglades, and now we had no way home.

Luckily, we didn't have to rent a car and drive the 15 or so hours back to Philadelphia. Air Tran hooked us up with some surprisingly affordable and comfortable one way tickets.

My way out this year was uneventful, almost pleasant really. And though it is hard to say goodbye to 9000 of my closest friends, I'm ready for it to be done.

But the fun is only beginning really... smell that? It's beta season.

Looking for a Civil 3D book? Check out Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Best Conference Drink Ever

Hot water with lemon and splenda... Helps the digestion and gets you going.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Two Sweety Tuesday

What a fine morning at PHL. The sun is just streaming into the lovely terminal b-c food court, almost blinding really, which is why I probably didn't notice that they took down the signs that formerly proclaimed "Free WiFi in the B-C Food Court!". But even the cost of a 24 hour pass can't keep me down today- I am on my way to AU!

Yesterday was a bad day- almost as bad as being forced to go back to using Land Desktop. My usually adorable son was doing his best screaming tomato impression. Imagine a fire engine. Only not quiet like a fire engine. Loud. And instead of just driving by, that fire engine moves in to your house, demands food and expects a college education.

Since I had Prospector in one arm and my mouse in the other, I played one of those cards all parents keep close to their chest- TV. Panorama spend the day alternating between staring at Blue's Clues on-demand with a dull look on her face and sobbing because I wouldn't climb into bed with her to watch it. The parenting advice I get from my mother is bad enough- try getting it from a jealous 3 year old. "Just put him in the crib and come play with me. But shut the door so we don't have to listen to him". Lovely.

As I sit here at the airport, I already miss them with a feeling that hits me deep in the gut. But I am soooo looking forward to actually sleeping tonight. Or not sleeping. Whatever- it will be on my terms and not on the command of my 15lb boss.

So far my pre-AU buzz has picked up momentum from light traffic, easy parking and no lines at check in. I was called "Sweety" by both my parking shuttle driver (male) and my prescreening security guard (female). I just finished at the airport spa where I got, if not the best the most thorough, lip-n-eyebrow wax of my life. It better be good- it LITERALLY took longer, cost more and was more painful than the delvery of Prospector two months ago. Hopefully the recovery won't be as long.

Even getting dressed this morning was a delight. I've pulled my EE shirts out of the back of the closet and I've got a new pair of jeans. Say what you will about Kimora Lee Simmons, but the girl can make a pair of jeans. Not only that, but she makes her delightlfully stretchy yet super fashionable jeans in my size- which right now is somewhere in the "gained weight while pregnant and still eating" category. All women need to get a pair. Or ten.

So I'm off to my gate. This year, I'm getting my picture taken with the DWF Spot. He'd better smile.

Looking for a Civil 3D book? Check out Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pre-AU Freakout

It's an annual tradition for me... I notice that I only have one week left before I will be up in front of two classes of 225 people each and the trademark Dana Panic sets in...

...will my datasets survive? will i remember to bring them?
...did i install the service pack on my laptop?
...will something embarassing pop up on my screen while i am presenting?
...will I burp mid sentence?

And then there is the "Will I be able to..?"

...pack up two kids for a week with grandma?
...lose 30 pounds of pregnancy weight and 10 pounds of fried turkey Thanksgiving weight in 4 days? and if not, do I have jeans that will zip?
...receive my Zappos order in time?
...contain my excitement in seeing AG after 11 months?

I've decided to do some mobile blogging and take lots of photos this year. Last year was such a blur so I am hoping some digital records will help me remember the good times. I've joined Shaan's flickr group Shaan's flickr group and I will try to post my photos nightly.

I'm arriving on Tuesday and leaving Thursday night to minimize my time away from my sweet little cherubs- so catch me Tuesday night at the Beta Reception and Beer Bust, Wednesday in classes and at the Wiley booth doing Mastering Civil 3D demos and Thursday teaching two classes and helping with one.

Looking for a Civil 3D book? Check out Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Farming Is Always Funny

Will these guys have a booth at AU?


A little bit sore from those CAD Standards meetings? Try some of this on those aching pains...


Looking for a Civil 3D book? Check out Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Engineering School Didn't Prepare Him For This

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Cure for Road Rage?

This hangs in my office.

It has been hanging here for over 5 years, so I didn't really notice it much anymore. I rediscovered it this week when I noticed Prospector was keenly interested in something on the back wall. I now position his baby seat so that he can see it at all times.

This giant smiley face (approx 2.5' X 2.5' square) is an actual road sign from a logging road in northwestern Alberta. (Alberta is in Canada. Go to Montana. Hang a sharp right. Drive for about 30 hours.)

We are not 100% sure of its actual intended design, but we have a guess. Logging roads are these awful, dangerous, narrow muddy affairs with ravines and such. If you fall asleep or get distracted you could easily become footage for a hilarious but tragic youtube accident. Perhaps this sign was supposed to surprise you with some unexpected sunshine,make you laugh and keep you awake for another 15 minutes.

Apparently, there is someplace in Scotland that also uses smiley signs: Speed signs reduce you to a smile.

The trouble is that they are so appealing that they wind up in home offices instead of out solving the worlds problems. Oh well.

Looking for a Civil 3D book? Check out Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Autodesk University Packing List

Has it really been a year? My jack-o-latern is fully rotten and I fried up my last batch of green tomatoes, so it must be.

The other day I pulled out my suitcase and made my shopping list of AU Essentials.


You'll be shaking hands with everyone from Pete Kelsey to the DWF Spot- and who knows where they have been. Last year, I was responsible for spreading some sort of frog voice-cough-plague to everyone who visited the EE both. I also learned that a bottle of cough medicine at the Venetian Apothecary costs more than my honorarium. So this year, I am coming prepared. No need to bring the Sam's Club super pack, just a travel sized packet of a few meds will go a long way.

  1. Prevent yourself from catching the post Thanksgiving blerg by using Hand Sanitizer. They come in almost microscopic travel sizes these days- you should really keep it in your pocket and apply all flippin' day.
  2. Though I am skeptical, I still take Airborne. I like the taste and I figure if it gives me just the slightest improvement in my immunity, it would be worth it.
  3. I also like Zicam. It may turn out to be Zi-scam, but I truly think that it has prevented me from getting ubersick when I use it.
  4. Everything gets sore at AU. Your brain. Your eyes. Your legs. Your throat. Your beer drinking arm. Your fat lip after starting a barfight over Scaling Viewports. Bring tylenol, advil or something similar.
  5. Nothing is worse that snaking a hacking cough on the plane then fighting it through classes. Definitely bring Cough Medicine and Cough Drops.
  6. If you have ever gotten sick on the road, you know how hard it is to sleep. I so wish I had brought Nighttime Cold Medicine with me last year.
  7. Strange food. Strange people. You'll suffer from at least one of the following: Hangover, Norwalk, Heartburn. Bring Stomach Remedy
  8. Vegas is dry. You won't drink enough water. You just won't. It might even be impossible. For this reason, you need to bring fiber. I know, I'm like your embarrassing mother who shouts through the grocery store- "Honey, are you still CONSTIPATED?" At least eat some fruit, OK?
  9. If you don't like water, bring something to make your water taste good, like those Crystal Light packets.


For 51 weeks a year, you can hide behind a screen name and an avatar... but at AU, you gotta face the public.

  1. Dry, smoky air, excessive free beer and late nights guarantee you'll wake up with red eyes swollen shut. Bring cucumber pads and Preparation H to fix the puffies. Also invest in a bottle of Clear Eyes.  This is especially important if your boss is traveling with you. Ladies- be sure to bring lots of concealer and some eye brightener.
  2.  Vegas is freaking dry.  Really freaking dry. Bring moisturizer, the best you can afford.  Slather on a night cream before passing out, and be sure to have a daytime weight lotion too.   
  3. Chapstick. See Number 2.
  4. Super duper deodorant. You don't want to stain the pits of the AUGI giveaway t-shirt. Also, we don't want to smell you. Walking through the casino on the way to class is stinky enough.


You will be walking. I am always taken aback by the sheer scale of Vegas. If you get put in the new tower or in one of the satellite hotels, you will be walking even more.

  1. Chewing Gum. The Venetian doesn't sell it. Last year I had to hock my Recorded Speaker watch for some very unsatisfying Mentos. Bring Gum. (Just don't spit it on the marble floors you slob.)
  2. Candy, lollipops, breath mints, Listerine strips. Your breath stinks enough already and the dry air doesn't help. Spare us all and suck on something. Also, sharing candy is a great icebreaker and might help you start a conversation with your favorite AUGI HotNews columnist or Discussion Group poster.
  3. Comfortable shoes. I mean comfortable. Shoes that are your actual size without big heels or narrow toes. That means sneakers, Sketchers, Doc Martens, something.
  4. Patch up your blisters with moleskin and Band-Aids.
  5. Powder can be used in your shoes and your "easily chaffed" areas to keep the damage to a minimum. Also apply liberally to keep your stink down and those of us sitting next to you comfortable.
  6. Last year I was on a hospitality floor. I wish I had brought earplugs.


  1. How will you know where the cool kids are meeting during the next break if you don't bring your Blackberry or pocketpc? Bore the world with hourly mobile blog posts and remind your spouse back home how you are in Vegas and they are at work through a series of one word text messages.
  2. Since you only see these people once a year, be sure to pack your digital camera. You need to collect a year's worth of blackmail material.
  3. All of the transfer cables so that you can get those photos up on flickr or picasa IMMEDIATELY. Digital photos are like milk- if you don't get them put up within 20 minutes they lose their appeal.
  4. If you are a speaker, don't forget your laptop. Duh. (Just a note to remind myself.)


  1. Travel Sized Space Bags will get all of this crap inside your suitcase. Bring a few extra for use in the...
  2. An extra duffel bag or foldable suitcase for all of the junk you will collect.


  1. Workout clothes. It just isn't going to happen.
  2. Work. It just isn't going to happen.
  3. A lot of money. Unless you plan on gambling or hitting up Versace, you won't need a lot of dosh. Make a game out of finding all of the free food-n-booze events throughout the week.
  4. Family Members. I seriously almost left my husband in Vegas after last year. AU is a total drain on your strength, your patience and your ability to care about anything else. Trust me, your wife is NOT going to understand why meeting Lynn Allen is such a big deal, or why you felt the need to get totally drunk at the AUGI Beer Bust. She will not be entertained by you treating her as sherpa for your swag on booth night, and she will not share your excitement when you shake hands with James Wedding. If you do insist on bringing family, come out a few days AHEAD of the conference and pack them back on a plane by Tuesday at the latest.

Pack well, fly safe and I will see you there!

Savage Truths

My mornings are defined by certain rituals. After a night of baby-roulette (will he wake? or will he sleep? where it stops, nobody knows!) I wake up to small fingers pulling my hair, poking my nose and demanding Nutri-Grain bars and orange juice. I stumble into the kitchen and make a full pot of coffee (of which maybe one sip will actually be consumed) then turn on the TV to my favorite channel, Noggin.

At 8AM, Noggin viewers are treated to a delightful little show called Oswald. It's not cerebral, like say Dora or Blues Clues, nor especially jaunty and musical like the Backyardigans.

As an aside, Mr. Probert always volunteers to wake up with the kids on Saturdays. I had thought it was because he wanted to give me a break. Turns out he just secretly enjoyed the Backyardigans. It's his favorite show after Prison Break. Which, by the way, is his favorite show because the hero is a Civil Engineer.

Oswaldis a great show for first thing in the morning because unlike those obnoxious children's programs with hard skill curriculum objectives and learning goalslike math, logic or reading, Oswald is a simple story of an urban octopus and his companion dachshund, Weenie. The official learning goals listed on the Noggin web site include the warm fuzzy hot cocoa soft and comfy skills here:

  • Language and Early Literacy Goals:
    • Familiarizes viewers with conventions of narrative and story structure
    • Develops listening skills
  • Social and Emotional Development:
    • Models positive responses to conflict
    • Demonstrates taking turns, sharing, listening to others, and polite behavior
    • Presents characters getting along and working together to achieve shared goals

Listening Skills? Positive Responses to Conflict? Achieving Shared Goals? Anyone who reads my postings to the Swamp knows that these are things that I need to study up on. Is there an AOTC available?

Even with my four minutes of sleep and spit up encrusted pajamas, I can follow plots such as "A Day at the Beach" and "The Big Balloon Rescue".

While I can handle the anthropomorphism of octopi and penguins, somehow their friends Daisy (a walking talking daisy) and the Snowman (a walking talking snowman that runs a snow cone shop) disturbed me just a little bit. I also wondered who paid for Oswald's apartment, piano and Weenie's vet bills when he clearly didn't have a job. Despite these shortcomings, I still watched alongside Panorama as she ate her "blueberry grow-bar".


The other day as the credits were rolling, I caught a name on the list that sent my heart into a tailspin.

The voice of Oswald is FRED SAVAGE!

How did one of the greatest television icons of my generation get reduced to providing the affected voice of a repressed purple octopus?

The year Kevin Arnold started middle school, so did I. He went ice skating, to school dances, passed notes, got acne and was stuffed into his locker alongside my friends and I. Year for year, Kevin mirrored my emotional turmoil and clean cut teen angst (ok, so we didn't have Vietnam to deal with- what's your point?).

I thought the worst day of my life was when I flipped by Animal Planet and saw Mario Lopez hosting Pet Star. (Panorama instantly perked up because she has become a big Dancing with the Stars fan thanks to evenings spent with my mother and her pathetically middle aged television taste.) To add insult to injury, Pet Star was featuring special guest Danica McKellar**.

This must be the same kind of Hell my parents found themselves in the 1980's and 1990's when my brothers and I knew the songs of their youth only as adapted advertising jingles, Paul McCartney as that "old guy" who sang with Michael Jackson and Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire.

Perhaps this bothers me because I wonder if my life has followed a similar path. You come roaring out of the gate. You swear you will never compromise. You will lead an exciting life where you take only the most interesting jobs. You'll never commute. You'll always be creative and adventurous and raise your fist to resist the shackles of your parents, society and the "man".

Then you fall in love- with a house, with a job, with a person, with a pack of children and you search for ways to pay the bills so you can fund this life you would have once considered "boring".

Then you realize that this IS the adventure.. that dreams change... that you can't be expected to define your life at age 15...and that maybe just maybe being a purple octopus is your new dream.

**I later found out that Danica McKellar kicks butt. She has a math degree and a book called Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail . I also saw her guest star on How I Met Your Mother. Phew.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Scenes from the Home Office: Markups

Me: Why is there green scribble all over this set of plans, Pannie?
Pannie: I colored it with my green crayon.
Me: Give me the green crayon.
Pannie: I can't
Me: Why not?
Pannie: I accidentally ate it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Soon, He'll want his own desk...

Right now, I am catching up on some documentation and Prospector is catching up on being cute and sleepy. In general, he's a great office mate.

He does, however, have his moments.

All told, he's in the top 3 office/cube mates I've ever had- tied with Amanda in Edmonton. Anyone that can talk me off the ledge and into a Squishy at Mac's at 3PM when it is pitch black outside and forty below in the middle of winter has a special gift. She also snored less than Prospector and always took care of her own lunch arrangements.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Unexpected Wisdom: Standing in Line

At swimming lessons this week, the kids were taking turns jumping into the pool. Panorama took her turn, then instead of getting back into the line at the end, she cut ahead of some of her small friends.

Me: Pannie, why did you cut in front of your friends? Everyone needs to take a turn jumping.

Pannie: I went to the back of the line, but someone was already there.

While this logic didn't really fly in the swimming lesson situation, I couldn't argue with its unexpected wisdom in the big picture.

How often do we just shuffle to the end of the line without asking if this is the right line to stand in, or if the end of the line is where we really want to be? Or, are we that person that is already there and letting others move ahead of us?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Scenes from the Home Office: Sunscreen

I share my office with Panorama (Age 3.5) and Prospector (age 6 weeks).

Me: Pannie, what are you doing?

Pannie: Putting sunscreen lotion on my hand.

Me: Um... ok. Where did you get sunscreen?

Pannie: From my nose.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Never Forget that the Party Chief Can Read Your Lips Through the Scope

I had always thought I was the most unenthusiastic rod person on the planet.



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Prospector has arrived!

Prospector has arrived!
Originally uploaded by danacadapult
Prospector arrived this morning... He already shows a preference for Autodesk over Bentley. Close to ten pounds of cuteness and delight. Panorama is very excited to be a big sister.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pregnancy Brings Out My Inner Tree Hugger

I have been spending a lot of time indoors lately. So I've been reading a lot of books. Being a republican and all, I've been avoiding reading An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It. But, it has been on my list for awhile and though I didn't ever doubt that global warming was an issue, I figured it was about time I did a little more homework on the subject.

Al Gore brings up some good points and has some very convincing science. I would like to save the world, I really would. But the thing that appeals to me most is saving myself some cash right now- and if that helps save the world, then doggone it, I will do it.

The first thing I latched onto is this nifty lightbulbs. A quote that struck me was this one from Fast Company Fast Company:

"What that means is that if every one of 110 million American households bought just one ice-cream-cone bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads. "

There is also a video going around the net on the subject:

The second thing that struck me was something I read in Maximum PC (pg 29 of this pdf

The headline reads:
"Put Your PC to Sleep and Save Hundreds of Dollars"

Here is another article on the subject:

At the very least, I try to turn off my machines overnight these days. I never really thought about how much it might be costing me. To save time on bootup, I just took just about everything out of my startup process and I really don't notice how long it takes. Maybe I won't be able to save the world or afford that Hawaiian holiday this year, but I could have a few extra bucks for the movies or planting trees or something.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Civil 3D Essentials for the Unborn Boy

So you know I could never approach a project as big as motherhood without my normal amount of research and hysteria, right? While pregnant with Panorama, I played endless Mozart and researched baby sign language. I made sure I had a well stocked toybox full of engineeringly appropriate baby toys such as blocks, gears, stackers and more.

This time, I stumbled upon an interesting book called While You're Expecting: Creating Your Own Prenatal Classroom. This book discusses methods for communicating with your blessed unborn as well as research and interesting anecdotes about exposing children to things while in utero.

The story that stood out the most was one about a cellist who was working on perfecting a certain piece throughout her pregnancy. She played the tune just about every day for several hours. When the child grew up and became a musician himself, he always had a particular and seemingly unnatural connection to that certain piece and never could understand why.

Other studies show that babies who hear a certain piece of music, or hear a certain poem read seem to recognize, if not prefer, hearing those sounds as newborns and babies.


Since April 15th or so, I have been talking out loud just about every single day about Civil 3D. I've lead an AUGI CAD Matinee, many CAD seminars, custom trainings and about 20 days worth of Essentials training. The Essentials training is the worst because I must speak quite loudly and I repeat myself over and over again for each class.

Does that mean Prospector will come out wanting to hear me read the AOTC? Will I be pacing the hallway at 3AM with a screaming baby only to find out that repeating "General>Toolspace" and "Pick, Right Click, Select Corridor Properties" is the only way to soothe him???

Another book I am reading is called Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences.

For Christmas, my Dad gave me The Female Brain which truly opened my eyes to the fact that despite my distaste for being called "Mrs. Probert", my BSCE and the lack of skirts in my closet, that my brain does indeed work differently from the male brains around me.

When Prospector turned out to be a boy, I wondered if I knew enough about boys... I mean... If there really is something to this Nature over Nuture idea, maybe I'd better study up.

So Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences talks about hard science- real studies of boys and girls, men and women. One thing that struck me is that little boys tend to think, act, draw and be motivated by "verbs"; where little girls tend to lean towards "nouns". For example, a little boy will draw a picture of a rocket flying and crashing into the moon, while a little girl might draw her friends and her on the moon with some trees and a kitten.

This explains why though my daughter does enjoy playing with her Cabella's hunting sets...

She tends to act out little stories with them, while her male pals and cousins tend to zoom them off of cliffs and have the hunter actually hunt things.

So I decided that though I will still buy Prospector his own kitchen set and a doll or two, I must embrace boyness to a higher level.

I can teach him how to change oil, train a retriever, and build a fire, but I am woefully lacking in my understanding of tying knots, building tree forts, setting trip wires and skipping stones.

(My husband, being Canadian and all, can teach him about hockey, tapping maples and making snow angels.)

I began to panic... then I found this book that contained all of the answers.

The Dangerous Book for Boys is 300 pages of everything a boy should know (or at least in the author's opinion). In addition to knots, treeforts and stones, it also covers pirates, important battles, invisible ink, essential grammar, coin tricks and more.

My copy arrived today, and since I have finished Harry Potter, I am hunkering down to read it and practice up my coin tricks. I have 43 days or less until Prospector arrives, and according to this book every boy needs to know 50 essential Latin phrases. Dang it. I should have ordered it last week so I only had to memorize one per day. Well, at least I already know Ad Hoc and Carpe Diem.

Land Desktop Users at the Cadapult CAD Clinic

It was nice to see the Land Desktop users make the trip to the CADapult CAD Clinic at the Atlantic City Aquarium yesterday morning. I managed to catch one with my phone camera during the break.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Something Better For Your Health Than Learning Part Builder

I have spent the past 8 or so days trying to build one part in Part Builder. I have decided that there are probably better things that a person can do for their overall body health and mental sanity.

This includes Eating Deep Fried Twinkies
Deep fried twinkies at the fair The deep fried twinkie itself
and if you don't like those, they also had deep fried Oreos or Snickers Bars.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Civil 3D Rocks Book List and Stuff

I used to keep a booklist, but I didn't have time to make it pretty. I found this neat way to make one on amazon, so I did. I'll continue to add more fun stuff to this list- including this year's summer reading assignments for all of you Civil 3D Rocks Book Clubbers out there. (Ok, for me at least).

Civil 3D Rocks Recommended Reads and Good Stuff

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Five Stages of Civil3Disillusion

This week I was working on some GIS data for a friend and a potential client. I had my google earth image, my google earth surface, a FEMA floodmap, soils information and land cover datasets all beautifully in place in Delaware State Plane coordinates.

I went to import the Sussex County Parcel boundaries and they came in somewhere in Ohio, which reminded me of the Five Stages of Civil3Disillusion. While the example here is Map related data, the same stages apply for any Civil 3D task you can think of.

Denial : "This dataset must be crap"

You instantly get on the Delaware Geospatial Data Committee newslist and compose an email proclaiming that while the website says that these parcels are referenced to DE83, they are obviously lying. You tried stripping out the .prj file and assigning several other coordinate systems (DE83F, UTM83-18N, etc, etc) and none of them work. You received about 10 responses from very intellegent people that all said they tried the dataset in various software packages from ESRI through Map 3D 2007 and they all worked. On to the next step...

Anger : "The Freaking Program must be crap"

Obviously, it must be Civil 3D's problem. You never really get past this stage in all honesty. Though you may progress and eventually reach the acceptance stage, the mean and scathing direct emails sent to Autodesk QA will always stick with you as the real reason for the problem.

Bargaining : "If I tell you what you want to hear, will you just get me close so I can finish the project?"

Sweet talking Civil 3D works on occasion. Pat it, stroke it. Add more ram, update your video card, play into its vices. Swear you will always follow the Parcel Rules, that your profiles will always be as long as your alignments and you will never complain about the lack of tags for general line labels. You remove the explode command from your CUI all together.

Depression : "I'm way too stupid to learn this program. I give up."

You follow the rules. You work with the toolspace. You watch the webcasts. You still can't find the place to set the code set style to an assembly or figure out how to use otrack to draw an arc in deed recreation. You post a few cries for help on the Autodesk Discussion Groups and are told to RTFM. Autodesk Support tells you it is a known issue and to just get over it. You take out the DVD and try to break it over your knee but realize you are so weak from spending all of these months in front of your computer that you can't break it in half. You try to uninstall it, but it won't let you. In a last ditch moment of desperation, you post to the Swamp. Someone reaches out of the mire to remind you that you are not alone. Thank heaven for the Swamp.

Acceptance : "The problem is between the seat and the keyboard."

After a few days, you take another stab at a fresh project. Your corridor builds like a dream and you save the client some money by moving the road around a high spot that you may not have noticed if you were using Land Desktop. Though your GIS data is still hopelessly lost in space, you realize that this minor setback is a drop in the bucket compared to what you have gained.

After a few days, you reenter the cycle by making a dynamic block that includes annotative objects and building it into a parcel label style.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Bloomsday?

I'm trying to get smart... catching up on the classics, you know- Dickens, Tolstoy, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Shakespeare, etc.

One of the books on the list is Ulysses. OK, it isn't just on the list. It's been on my shelf for about 5 years now just waiting for me to crack it open.

I guess tomorrow is the day I should start according to this article written by a guy I went to grade school with.

Sevenfold Path to the True Meaning of Bloomsday

Intersection Design

If you are looking for some information about how to model and intersection in Civil 3D, check out this link:
and this one, too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sites and Snakes

On my way in to teach at Cadapult this AM, I saw a big ol' black snake in the parking lot. Kevin, the architecture AE and my hero, threw his shoe at it. The snake reacted by slithering under Kevin's car, which made Kevin very happy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Still Alive

Though rumors have been flying and the occasional shrine erected, I have not fallen off the face of the earth.

Just got in today from Bel Air, MD (on the "other" side of the Chesapeake) and in the past six weeks I've been to Chicago, Ramsey, NJ, Lancaster, PA, and all points down I-95 and Route 1 in Delaware. I'm beat. Mix in wrapping up the last edits and tweaks of our book, throw in a moderate amount of gestation and the occasional nap, and that makes for a very unbloggerific mood. I'll be back soon...

Just a note that June 3rd marked the one year anniversary of the blog post that changed my life. Ha.

Monday, May 07, 2007

It's a Prospector!

I have been incredibly slammed the past few months so it is hard to believe I am more than halfway through my pregnancy. Sometime around Labor Day, we'll be meeting Panorama's little... BROTHER. Found out today. Very exciting news.

Though boys names are easy to come by in the Civil 3D world, we've decided on Prospector. It was a tough call though between Cannon, Corridor, and Label Toggle Pin.

I wish I could sit here and wax poetic on the similarities between a 3D ultrasound and a corridor rendering, but I must get back to work. I'm off to North Jersey tonight, then a busy month with the AUGI CAD Matinee, client visits and a trip to Chicago.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What I Learned at Tech Camp

Those of you who know me, know I carry around a little brown notebook that contains just about every thought and scribble I have ever had.

This week, I filled up the section called "To Blog" with all kinds of great Civil 3D and AutoCAD ideas. Those ideas will be written about on later next week once I get caught up on some work here in my home office.

So here I will recap what I learned after I closed that little notebook and FOR ONCE I did not take it along with me to dinner and beyond. I find it hard to believe myself.

I apparently forgotten a few things in my guide. First of all, the snacks out on the afternoon break of the first day are always the best- full sized candy bars, fruit, and other stashables. The TechCamp souvenir bag that you received when you checked in was actually given to you so that you could fill it up with snacks for the week. Don't forget the pony bottles of Perrier and Coke for filling the hotel room fridge.

You pack a 19" LCD for a trip to Disney World. I could have SWORN it was on the required list right after "Have 337 installed" and "Do your Prework".

I finally had a chance to meet some of the newer bloggers, and I especially enjoyed my poolside chat with Louisa from "Civil 3D for Beginners". If you ever considered leaving your career in CAD for a stint with the Peace Corps, make sure you check out Lou's Comparison before trading in your Red or Blue Army polo shirt for a pair of birks.

I haven't called or submitted a support request since last year when my login somehow got yanked during a database migration, so I hadn't had a chance to talk to the great new people in Civil Software Support in Manchester. Luckily, Autodesk had the good sense to bring a bunch of them along. They are happy, concerned, super smart and forgiving people who can shake a tail feather to any 80's song you throw their way. Did you know their manager was the 1987 regional breakdance champion?

If you leave your laptop unattended, little Canadian Corridor Gnomes will come along and write a special message on your desktop wallpaper. Occasionally, you will also find that your mouse is now controlling your neighbor's cursor. Those silly little elves.

A Pocket PC dropped in the Hot Tub will come back to life after 36 hours of drip dry, however a Palm Treo requires a blessing from Jeebus himself, or at least a call to the insurance company.

There are at least forty 70's and 80's hit tunes with the word "Funk" or "Funky" in them, and no shortage of wordplay that can be done with the word "Funk". If your last name was Funk, you might think that was cool.

Apparently being a pregnant workaholic doesn't mean that a gal can't have some small amount of fun. I mean, there is NOTHING more fun that Civil 3D, but when your eyes go blurry and there is not another Harry Potter to read until July, sometimes a few hours pretending desani is a a corona and pretending you have some rhythm isn't such a bad thing.

The knowledge base doesn't have a workaround for a missing AG, but the general concensus was that though we were desperately short of tall italian guys, that yes, it is possible to smile again. We always poured an extra drink for him just in case, but alas, it appears he was really not going to show up.

I am looking forward to seeing you all again at Autodesk University, because as we all found out....there is still so much dancing to be done.

And with that- back to the Salt Mines!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Read what Dana Reads

I read a lot of blogs. AutoCAD blogs, Civil 3D blogs, just about every kind of blog that has anything to do with anything. I have had one request for the list of blogs from my feedreader. Therefore, I figure there must be at least 100,000 more of you out there DYING read what I read.

So, if you are too lazy to go to Angel's blog and find the feeds for everything on his list, you can download my XML file here and import it into your favorite feed reader- such as Google Reader, Bloglines or others.

Save this XML file and follow the directions in your feedreader for import. (I did strip out the lamer blogs, such as my brother's myspace rants and the like.)

For information about reading blogs using a feed reader:

Friday, April 06, 2007

The $3000 Cell Phone Charger

I'll admit it. I have had an email addiction since I was 18. During my first week at Georgia Tech, I was assigned a seven digit alphanumeric code that would be my login, my email address and a fixture of my self expression. For the following four years, I would answer to "gt1912a" almost more often than I would answer to "Dana".

In the days before laptops and pdas, gt1912a would walk from Unix terminal to Unix terminal around campus on her way to class, lunch and swim practice and compulsively check her email and read the gt.discussion groups. We came up with elaborate telnet schemes so that we could login to the school servers over holidays and when off campus. (Can you imagine life before webmail? God, it was awful.)

As gt1912a grew up a little more, she became dlbreig@, then soon became dbprobert@, but she never lost that addiction to email. Hotmail made things easier, then exchange servers with web interfaces, then laptops with wireless... but not until this November when I obtained my first pocketpc/cell phone did I truly know what life could be.

I used to run into the house and turn on my computer before anything else. Still wrapped up in winter clothes or muddy boots or after six hours in the car with 3 cups of coffee and no rest stops, I would press send/receive just to see what I missed.

Now, I never miss a message.

The thing about the Brick is that the battery doesn't last too long, so if I forget to plug it in when I get home, it isn't ready for me next time I want to leave. So I am pretty diligent about plugging it in.

Well, the other night, I must have unplugged it. When I went to leave in the morning, the battery was hopelessly dead. To quote one of my favorite children's books "Oh doom and disaster what absense of mind...!"

Desparate for a solution, I dug into the tech bucket of stuff only to find no compatible car chargers. Our only AC outlet type inverter was in Mr. Probert's truck fueling his laptop, minifridge and electric razor so that wasn't possible....

Then a brilliant idea. I have an inverter that came with my laptop.... and a USB cord for the Brick... So I took this pile of wires and equipment out to the car. I plugged the laptop into the lighter and the Brick into the laptop. And I exhaled slowly with intense relief knowing that I wouldn't miss TenLinks that day.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

AUGI CAD Matinee May 17 in Philadelphia

I posted this already over on but on the off chance you land here on Civil 3D Rocks, I want to make sure you know about the AUGI CAD Matinee that is coming to town!

CAD Matinees are similar in style to Autodesk University Classes- 70 minute lecture style classes with detailed handouts and a chance to ask questions and learn new things.

To register and for more information visit the AUGI website, or this link:

Here are the agendas for the classes I am teaching:

AutoCAD® Civil 3D® 2008
(S1-4) Using Civil 3D 2008 for Stormwater Management Tasks
Instructor: Dana Breig Probert, E.I.T.
This class will show you how to harness the power of Civil 3D 2008 to assist in designing and performing a TR-55 or Rational Method Stormwater Management Analysis, as well as designing a pipe network for storm drainage. Though the case study used in this class is a drainage design, anyone interested in learning more about surfaces and pipe networks, and creating tables and expressions for any application are encouraged to attend. We’ll take you from building a surface from aerial topo data to complete surface analysis for pipe tables and schedules.

AutoCAD® Civil 3D® 2008
(S2-4) Building a Subdivision from Boundary to Plat with Civil 3D 2008
Instructor: Dana Breig Probert, E.I.T.
This class will focus on the parcel creation and analysis tools in Civil 3D 2008. We will leverage free GIS data such as FEMA floodlines, wetlands inventory and adjacent parcel boundaries as well as topography and image information from Google Earth to assist us in our initial design. Then we will go through Parcel creation best practices and create a labeled site plan. Finally, we’ll cover simple visualization ideas for effective public hearings and presentations

Come to the Possibilities Tour in Washington DC

I'm planning on attending the "Experience the Possibilities" Tour in Washington D.C. next Thursday, April 12.

There is an industry session in the morning and an AutoCAD Tips and Tricks session in the afternoon.

If you haven't seen Civil 3D in action yet, this would be a good chance to see it, plus a chance to interact with the local resellers and talk to people like me who are in the trenches.

Unless I run into some sort of family logistics issue (which tends to happen quite a bit when you have 2 dogs, a 3 year old and a husband who works for the DOT), I should be there for breakfast.

Here is the link to the FREE Registration:

Sunday, April 01, 2007

TechCamp Survival Guide

It's that time of year again, Reseller AEs! We have been called to the mothership for our annual pilgrammage to someplace-warmer-than-Anchorage for TechCamp (the Event Formerly Known as Bootcamp). This will be my fifth time attending TechCamp, so I figured I would share some highlights from Camps of Yore as well as some Tips for the First Timer.

February 2004- Regional Bootcamp Baltimore
I was about 20 days from delivering Panorama and I had the flu. People looked at me with a combination fear (timebomb) and digust (germ machine). Sheet sets were new and in about 2 years I would actually understand them. The Civil software (LDT) wasn't ready or something so I was dismissed early the second day.

October 2004- Civil 3D Mid Year Release in Chicago
This odd little bootcamp was over a weekend. I left PHL at 6AM and arrived just in time for the start of the first class. I would have been ontime if the cab I found actually took Visa like he had said he did at the airport and I didn't have to pace the hotel looking for an ATM. At lunch that day, I wound up sitting with Nick Zeeben, which is how we met and in about 2 years I would remember his name, despite meeting him at every AU and TechCamp in between. I still don't understand him.

April 2005-Civil 3D 2006 Release in Orlando
This is the camp where I learned: 1) Civil 3D changed my life 2) A burger in downtown Disney costs $40 3)There is an amazing salon at the Buena Vista Palace

April 2006- Civil 3D 2007 Release in Dallas
My first (and only) Bootcamp with Beth as my roommate. I learned it is less fun rooming with a technical person because you aren't interrupted at 3AM by someone coming in giggling, and you have no one to make fun of at breakfast the next day because they are currently sleeping through the alarm. I learned Civil 3D Rocks, and _almost_ remembered Nick's name this time. I didn't meet Jason at this Bootcamp, but he learned about snagit (thebest $40 ever spent) at this Bootcamp and a few weeks later he told me about it. So that is important. Also at this Bootcamp I had my first conversation with James Wedding.
"Hi, James, I'm Dana Probert"
"Dana, nice to meet you. I have to go troubleshoot a Vault install.

April 2007- Civil 3D 2008 Release (Prediction)
While the Tech sessions at Bootcamp could barely qualify as business causual, having sales folks around meant that there was a little bit of pressure to match their typically sharper duds, perfume, white teeth and good hair. So I predict that people show up for class this year in frayed jeans, stained sweatshirts and $0.99 flip flops.

There will also be decidely fewer women around, so the male AEs will probably leave with some money left in their expense accounts. It just isn't as much fun to buy six rounds of Bud Lite for a bunch of guys. This kind of plays into the fashion thing too... and I imagine we'll see some three day beards by Thursday.

Now for those of you that are new to the glam world of being an AE, you might need some pointers. Most of us Civil AEs came from engineer firms that didn't do work outside of a 10 mile radius of the office, so the idea of flying to an exotic location may be intimidating at first. Fear not. Here is your guide:

Don't bother installing the latest build before you get to Florida. When they say you should have it installed, it is just like they said when ICE had the pre-req of having installed XP from scratch.

They just have to say something.

In fact, don't bother to install software during the software loading party, either. It would be such a buzzkill to babysit "Install Express Tools? Yes" while you could be loading up on munchies and gossiping about how much weight Dana has gained since AU ("Dude, it's like she's pregnant*** or something!") and shedding a tear or two about how much you will miss AG's animated classes. ("I don't think anyone can take a swig of water midsentence like him, sniff")

Besides, there would be nothing to do during the first half hour of the first class if you had your install ready to go, because you know nobody else will.

As soon as you enter the hotel, before you even check in, sign up for the wireless service. Don't cheap out and try to piggy back on a free connection, after all, the company is paying for this! You need to make sure you can stay in constant communication with the home office, the sales staff, your mom, your gtalk contacts and the Swamp. Troubleshoot any VPNs, exchange server connections, POP accounts, etc. You won't be able to enjoy a second of the Florida Sunshine if you are worried about your wireless.

Choose your chair before you go in to fight the crowd for breakfast. Pick a row towards the back and a seat on the end. Arrange all of your stuff. Then remove at least one chair from your row and line it up with the extras in the back of the room. Go back to your seat and spread out a little. This will prevent anyone from sitting too close to you and will leave room on the table for the manga you brought with you to read during the lecture. If you can't stomach breakfast, go down in your pajamas with some of your gear then go back to your room and sleep until the very last minute. This seat you pick on this first morning is yours FOREVER. Unless of course you want to move seats tomorrow. Then the person whose seat you are taking needs to get over it.

Always leave at empty seat at your table at Lunch in case Lynn Allen wants to sit there. I even set an empty seat at my dinner table at home just in case... But last year, she actually did sit down with us. We, of course, were star struck and embarassed and silent. Althought I did say something that scared her away after she finished her meal. She may not be at tech camp this year since they separated it from the Sales Camp, but you never know.

Spend some time before you go reading the Civil 3D and LDT discussion groups and Blogs and familiarize yourself with peoples REAL NAMES. Don't make the mistake of picking on BlackDog7 when his real name is Johann Smith from CADtastic in Tulsa and actually sitting across the table from you.

It is also rude to address people by their blog name. At AU, I actually called Matt Castelli "Tapping into Civil 3D". How embarassing. You will probably need a guide for this. Latch on to some wizened old AE who knows everyone and have them point them out. Or better yet, we all wear name tags, sharpen up your reading skills.

On the flip side, it is handy to help people figure out who you are if you say something like "I'm Sandy Satchel, from LippiCAD in Memphis. I write The Civil 3D Files blog", but don't be surprised if it doesn't have the same ring as "I'm Anderson Cooper from CNN"

If a man from Florida wearing shorts and suspenders and a camoflague hat tells you to bring your pet potbellied pig to his pig reserve- DON'T DO IT. I'll let him tell the story, he does a much better job.

And this one is serious...

Do all of the prework and attend all of the sessions. I am planning on it- even though I helped write some of the material. Why? Because you can always learn something. The folks that are teaching the classes have a different spin on things than we do, the people sitting next to us also have different experiences to share. I know there are things I know nothing about (new features of AutoCAD, plan production, survey, etc) and things that though I may have banged on it a lot, I am still missing a lot of pieces (pipe rules). Though the material is designed to appeal to a broad cross section of AEs- from beginner to experienced- it will be easy for many of us who have been down this road before to say "There is nothing for me to learn here". But I personally know that I will learn a whole lot. I always do.

Now if I could just remember the name of that nice Canadian boy with the nice shoes who has a way with Part Builder.....

***Yes, I am.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

As if it could get any worse...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Never Put Your Heart in the Bracket

The first round is over, and my soul is heavy after facing the UNLV full court press and watching the Blue Devil turn pale as the blood drained from his face during the last minute of play... It was enough to make me cheer against Virginia Tech, despite the fact that I picked them, because my other "Tech"s were done and it just wouldn't be fair if they got to go on.

Two-thirds of the EE Civil Team is out- James with his Texas Tech squad, me with the Yellow Jackets- but Scacco is still alive since Purdue won.

I put my slippers on the wrong Cinderellas!

I had such hope that Penn could make this year the year that they got out of the first round and that between them and 'Nova there would be a Big 5 Final Four (as The BSAider said to me today- "I'm a sucker for the Palestra")

This is what happens when you fill out your bracket with your heart and not your head...

There are some shining moments though- Pitt is still alive (with some help from Canada), Winthrop could be the new Gonzaga and there is still plenty of ACC at the dance.

Good thing I am through with Harry Potter, cause I got a lot of ball to watch this weekend.

All I can say is... C'MON VANDERBILT!!