3Dconnexion 3D Mice now support Vectorworks 2011

It seems that I cannot have too many technical articles on SolidWorks Legion without also having straightforward product announcements in the mix.  I’ll have a couple of articles later this week that cover a topic I found to be interesting regarding glass standards by Paul Bieber.  For now, here is a product announcement from 3Dconnexion.

3Dconnexion announcements

Vectorworks3Dconnexion has announced that their full line of 3D mice now support 2D/3D AEC CAD design software.  By full line, I assume they are talking about currently supported 3D mice, such as the SpaceNavigator and SpacePilot.  Anyway, 3Dconnexion claims the following.

3D mice further enable professionals to draft any shape, on any plane, and in any view in an intuitive manner that augments the simplified and unified design experience offered in Vectorworks 2011.

When working in the true 3D modeling environment in Vectorworks 2011, 3Dconnexion 3D mice provide a level of design interaction that is unattainable with a traditional mouse and keyboard.

My own experience with 3Dconnexion

It should be noted, as a matter of disclosure, that 3Dconnexion did give me a SpacePilot PRO back in 2008.  They did so with no strings attached.  I can say whatever I want about the device (and I have).  In general, I have found the device indispensable.  It took time to become that valuable.  However, I must admit, when I find myself reaching for a 3D mice at someone else’s workstation and its not there, I know just how valuable the SpacePilot PRO is to me.

In other 3Dconnexion news

One more item for the day.  3Dconnexion has a design challenge.  The purpose of this challenge is allow users to show off their 3D skills.  This challenge is also promoting the fact that 3Dconnexion has a Facebook page.  For more information, check out their website.

3Dx Facebook Contest

3DConnexion SpacePilot PRO reviews are up…

I don’t normally post articles on holidays.  This one is just a short notice that I’ve added a synopsis of all my articles about the 3DConnexion SpacePilot PRO as a single review on epinions.com, which is a bit more detailed than my review on Amazon.com.  (The standards are a lot higher for reviews on epinions.)  The epinions review doesn’t cover every detail from my long list of articles about this product, though hopefully it covers enough.

3Dconnexion adds new functionality to existing toys

A few months ago at SolidWorks World 2010, 3DConnexion announced that they are adding 3D mouse capabilities for SolidWorks.  Their 3D mice now have a function that automatically and continuously determines the optimal center of rotation for any current view.  When a model is fully in view, the center of rotation is the center of the model.  When zoomed on a particular area of the model, the center of rotation becomes the center of the view.  This makes the exploration and navigation of the smallest details on the largest models much more intuitive.   This new function is called Auto Rotation Center.



Auto Rotation Center is displayed on the view pane of SolidWorks models or assemblies in the form of a translucent blue bubble.   This bubble has three display states which are chosen by the user under 3Dcontrol pulldown>Properties>Part/Assembly section>Show center drop down.  It may be always displayed, displayed in motion only (when the 3D mice is in use), or never displayed.

I’ve been using this new functionality since Feb 2010 in real world scenarios.  Early on, I did have some initial issues with this function working properly on my computer system and version of SolidWorks.  3Dconnexion did fix the bug I encountered.  Since then, I’ve been impressed with this new function.  So much so that I don’t even remember not using Auto Rotation Center with my SpacePilot PRO.

An additional capability 3Dconnexion has added to their 3D mice is the ability to pick a new center of rotation from a point on the 3D model.  With the Auto View Rotation, I’ve actually not used this other function even once.

So, if you have a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse which is currently supported, I recommend checking out their website to download the latest driver.  Then turn on Auto Rotation Center.

One word of warning, installation of this new driver will wipe out any custom button mappings, so be prepared to remap your device’s buttons.  (This won’t be an issue for new installs, of course.)


How to use sticks safely on PCs (USB Safety part 2)

  1. cancelthatviewDo not plug a stick in to a computer that does not have updated and active virus protection software.
  2. Do not use a stick for both home and work.  Keep these uses on separate sticks.
  3. Do not plug your stick into unknown computers.
  4. Do not plug unknown sticks into your computer.
  5. When first plugging a stick into a computer, a prompt should come up with options of how to view the items on that device.  Always choose the Cancel button.  This should prevent malware from running automatically.
  6. To access a file or start legitimate software, simply navigate to the stick using My Computer or Windows Explorer and LMB double-click on the item.
  7. If you suspect that a stick is infected, you may be able to use virus protection software to clean it.  However, I will err on the side of caution by simply destroying the stick.  Of course, this option is not as practical in the case of large external hard drives.

Malware and your USB stick (USB Safety part 1)

For us old-timers, there is a memory of the old days when we passed around floppy disks (floppies) to share computer programs, data files or images.  Floppies where great because users could easily read and write to them.  It didn’t take long for viruses and other malware to begin spreading through the sharing of floppies.  In fact, floppies from unknown sources where often handled with suspicion.  People would frequently scan floppies using anti-virus software.  These days, the floppy disk has almost completely disappeared, along with the issue spreading malware on them.

A whole generation of people has grown up without an easy-to-use read/write exchange media similar to the floppy disk.  For a long time, sharing data was in the form of CD-ROM and DVD.  These require special software to create and read.  They also don’t allow new information to be added to them once they are created.   It is very difficult for malware to spread via these formats for that reason.

With the advent of the USB memory stick or thumb drive (sticks), we now have a new easy-to-use read/write exchange media.  Usage of sticks has increased drastically in the past couple of years.  Us old-timers have looked upon these sticks with the same suspicion we use to reserve for floppies.  I never allow sticks from unknown sources to be plugged into my computer.  People who are new to the realities of the Information Age (particularly, younger people or others who have just started using computers within the past few years) don’t have this same prohibition.  I’ve witnessed people gleefully passing around sticks to share files or run software on various systems.  I’ve watched as people would use their sticks for both work and personal purposes (back in the old days with floppies, this was an absolute no-no).  As a result, industry is now witnessing computers and networks get infected, just like the old days.

Such usage of sticks has rebirthed the spread of malware.  According to Trend Micro, sticks and other types of external drives are highly common sources for the spread computer virus infection.  The problem is getting worse very quickly.  Companies and private users are now faced with this new onslaught of malware.