Monday, March 31, 2008

The Environmental Cost

A five mile construction project on California State Highway 46 is having a ceremonial first dirt moved today. It reminds me of the hidden, and largely undiscussed, cost of the environmental process. The section of highway from US Route 101 to CA State Route 99 has been known as a dangerous section of highway. A group was formed about 12 years ago to push to get funding for the project. The project received the funding, but construction was delayed to due to the environmental process. There are endangered species and wetlands in areas of the project(although in some parts of the country I don't think you would consider it a wetland) that have delayed the project.

I believe any delay caused by the environmental process is the cause for a portion of the deaths, injuries and accidents in this section of road much the same way the drug makers are liable for the period of time they leave a harmful product on the market after they know it is dangerous. In my experience in working with regulatory agencies saving and protecting lives is not even a goal, but delaying the project seems to be (whether intentional or intentional). In one example, while working on a bridge replacement project, the National Marine Fisheries Service representative came out and declared the project was not habitat for the species of concern. It took over the regulated 180 days to get the letter stating that the project was not going to affect the species of the fish, delaying the project and putting people's lives at risk. The final letter stated as such. Why the delay? I couldn't tell you, but the potential damage to human life was there as highlighted by the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota. Maybe someday we will once again value the lives of humans over that of a frog, trout or a wet patch of land and reduce the time of regulatory approval from 180 days to 30 days, think of all the lives and property that would be saved.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Drawing Conversion Scale - Example

Here is an example of using the Drawing Conversion Scale in a contour label. I wrote about the new feature in Civil 3D 2009 originally here.

To get the scale to be different sizes based on the viewport is fairly easy. Just create a new expression and add something similar to the line below:

IF({Drawing Scale Conversion}=600,0.1/12,IF({Drawing Scale Conversion}>1100,0.2/12,0.5/12))

For an English drawing the Drawing Conversion scale is the big number times 12. So in the example above the 600 scale relates to a 1"=50' scale. The 1100 is just below 1"=100' to capture any just below 1"=100'. The 0.1/12 represents what the text height is going to be (0.1"/12"/ft). Here is a picture of what the label looks like next to a conventional label.

As you can see the conventional label stays the same size regardless of the scale and the D.S.C. label varies based on the scale of the viewport and the ranges we set in the expression. Note in my sample any scales below 1100, excluding 600, will have a text size of 0.5".

Monday, March 24, 2008

Parcels Rules

Had parcel troubles today, needed to refer this to someone, again.

In case you haven't read Dana's post it has good information in it. The problems we were having related to Rule number 6 with two alignments and rule number 10. Don't have alignments that are on the same site be on top of each other.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When the Dust Settles

I interrupt this Civil 3D Reminders blog with an irrelevant post on current financial conditions.

I've often thought what it would be like to live through the early days of the great depression. Would one recognize what was coming? Or would it be something that one wouldn't realize the implications till after the fact? With the recent purchase of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase it reminds me of a book a read a few years back called the "House of Morgan". The "House of Morgan" is a historical look at the history of Morgan Bank from it's inception up to when it was broken apart into two entities, the commercial bank side, which became the modern day JPMorgan Chase and the investment bank side which became Morgan Stanley, in the wake of the market reforms after the crash of 1929.

In the beginning of the Great Depression Mr. Morgan and his bank led a consortium of banks to inject money in the financial markets in an attempt to stabilize the financial markets. Mr. Morgan and the other banks where unsuccessful in stabilizing the markets, in the aftermath the country fell into a Great Depression that my Grandparents lived through. One reason they failed was the lack of enough capital to stabilize the markets. Other factors contributed to the depression including the dust bowl and changes an increase of tariffs on imports.

Today a similar attempt is being made by the Federal Reserve Bank. While most people hear the news on the bank, the news doesn't seem to convey the possible historical ramifications of the actions. If the Fed succeeds at what it was doing it will be a footnote in history, much like the bailout of Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) a few years back. If the Fed fails the market will fall into a tailspin preventing the free flow of capital from investors to companies. If companies don't have free access to capital, the country is likely to fall into a recession.

While I don't feel a collapse is enough to drive the country into a depression, other factors could. One possible policy change is a turning away from free trade to one of trade restrictions. In a recession jobs are usually lost (or not replaced at a clip necessary to keep pace with young workers entering the workforce) and a knee jerk reaction is to blame other countries imports. While the vocal public sentiment may believe that free trade has harmed the country, we shouldn't forget that the United States is the largest exporter in the world (as well as the largest importer). Any restrictions of trade with our trading partners will likely result in retaliatory restrictions on our exports. This will would come at an inopportune time due to the falling dollar. As the dollar falls our exports become cheaper and imports more expensive, ultimately changing people's and companies buying habits. This realigning of the trade would help the US avert a depression.

While I could go on, I think I am going to stop here and hope the Fed is successful and inflation doesn't go out of control.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Looking to Complete the States

So far I have visits from 47 of the 50 states. I'm looking to get all of the states. So if you happen to be visiting Vermont, Rhode Island or Wyoming please take the time to visit this blog from those states. Thank you.

Kind of hard to believe no visits from Vermont, a state next to New Hampshire where the Civil 3D team is based out of.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Saw this today and didn't know you could do this with an AECPolygon. After you create an AECPolygon you can select the edge and cycle through some options using the Ctrl key. The first one offsets, meaning if you drag the edge it goes parallel to the original line. The second one adds a vertex, the third converts the edge to an arc and the last one Offsets all of the edges. If you haven't seen an AECPolygon, you may want to check out my older posts regarding them:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Formula For Slope

I'm not going to make a judgement on if this is the correct way or the incorrect way to do things, I'm just providing the math.

If you grade from a sloping baseline (be it a feature line or alignment/profile) the grade will be calculated perpendicular to the baseline. This is normal and customary in creating a road corridor; but may not be wanted when creating grading from a featureline. If you measure the distance perpendicular from one contour to the next you will find that the distance isn't an even number (if you use a 2:1 slope) but slightly off. To get the value to be exact use the formula below:


This is an Excel formula you can use to calculate the required slope:


Put the slope (Ex. 2, for a 2:1 slope) in E2 and the grade (in decimal form) in cell E1.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I Get It

This post really isn't about Civil 3D, it's more about the company called Tata. Maybe you haven't noticed, but they do a lot of stuff. Tata is an multinational Indian based company. I've read about them in newspapers, magazines and on the web. While I was having tea, Good Earth Cocao Chai Tea, I noticed they owned the Santa Cruz based company. I occasionally scan the adds above and noticed the was advertising on this site and noticed that the are an advertiser on the AUGI website. I'm a little bit amazed at there span of products they sell, from CAD program training to tea to steel to cars. I guess they could be called the India East India Company.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

DWG TrueView

I've encountered quite a few people who don't know about TrueView. It allows you to open and then save Autocad files from version 14 to 2008. So if you have someone request an older version of a dwg that you have sent them, refer them to TrueView so they can do the work of converting it to an older dwg format for you.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Microstation Fundamentals

I finished the Microstation Fundamentals from Prosoft. The book was easy to use and gave the basics of how to do things in Microstation. In doing the exercises I found that I really like using the command line in Autocad. In Microstation most of the commands, at least in the exercises, used toolbars and windows. It became frustrating not being able to just type tr for the trim command and having to use the toolbars. I realize I can use the Microstation command line feature, but with all of the other windows on the screen, it's hard to just type in a command and have it be recognized by the program.

Hopefully I can find a way to get Microstation to work like I want to, but right now it appears that it is mainly toolbar driven. I find I don't like toolbar driven programs for CAD, since I have to scan the screen to find the wanted toolbar, and I always seem to know where the keyboard is at in Autocad to type in the command.

I wrote previously that I didn't like the user interface in Microstation, and now that I know how to do the basics and where to find things, I still don't like it. The windows and toolbars and single drawing interface is really a bummer. The program needs to join the world of windows instead of feeling like a skin on a DOS program.

Some things to like in the program is the Design History. In Design History you can commit changes into the file and then go back and restore changes that happened in between your committing changes. I don't know how big of hit it is to the file size, but I imagine it can be quite large if you committed changes frequently.

And cells are basically blocks.

Next up is the InRoads Fundamentals.


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