Mon. Nov. 15, 2021 – which is crazy, since that means we’re half way thru November

Cool and clear, with sun! Supposedly for the next few days the weather will be nice. I hope so. It was Sunday, with a bit of dark scattered cloudiness in the afternoon, clearing later.

I spent Sunday cleaning the house, hoeing weeds in the raised beds, greeting my returning pack members, and generally doing home front things.

Later in the evening, I sat down to do some quick drawings for my install this week. Oy vey. When I was doing it full time, I used a specialist CAD package tied to a DB for system layout drawings. I even bought my own copy when I went independent, for $1500 US. It’s been a while, and I don’t even have it installed anymore, but I looked and I can D/L the fully functional demo for free. So I did. And 8 years later it still sucks. The main selling point is their library of symbols for all the av gear you might put in the drawings. 1200 manufacturers, many thousands of symbols. And they suck. Balls. Still. Back in the day I ended up drawing about 1/3 to 1/2 of the symbols myself and I am still seeing the same thing. No rack gear symbol for Directv receivers? REALLY? They have schematic blocks for the DVRs, but no “front view” for the rack layout drawing.

Worse, the style of all the symbols is horrible. I’d need to print C size or bigger just to get text labels that were readable, and since that used to be one of the major problems with the software, I’m not even sure that would work.

I’ll be taking a big drawing pad to site, free handing the layout, and then drawing it from scratch in Visio. At least in Visio I can produce a good looking drawing that accurately and simply conveys the information needed. And once I get back in the groove, I’m almost faster producing the ‘stencils’ than looking them up in the other software and adding them to the drawing.

The same company also produced a tool that was the best in the business for what it did. It was called ‘Rack Tools’ and let you build drawings of equipment racks from their library of symbols, or easily add your own. I started my old version up, it phoned home (said there were updates, and asked, but I said Yes) and then bricked itself saying it wasn’t supported any longer. Flocking Axholes. I can’t even use the old version anymore? can’t open old drawings and print or copy them out…? I’ll reinstall the software, and not update, but iirc it phones home to ‘register’ so that might not even work. Who nukes your installed copy without warning? Jerks, that’s who.

Proprietary tools that self destruct are the absolute worst. And anyone who builds them that way sucks. I hope you get ransomwared out of business you jerks.

So that’s what I’m doing this week, starting today. Rip and replace, with some reused gear, that I’ll find out about today when I meet my partner on site. I don’t like ‘winging it’ for things like this. I like to solve as many of the issues before starting the work, because I know there will be plenty that arise as we go. But it is what it is.

Stacking some FRNs with this project, and for a while at least, they are a useful thing to stack.

Stack some of your own.

nick