Monthly Archives: March 2011

Courageous or Stupid?

A friend of mine introduced me to this quote by Anias Nin not too long ago:

Life Shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

It’s one I’d like to live by, but by and large don’t. For the most part I’m a gutless wonder, especially if I don’t know the odds of something, or if the odds are against me.

I’m not into taking risks.

Not a good thing for a writer who wants to be published. I don’t know the actual numbers, but I’m sure my chances of winning the lottery are greater. The only reason I pursue it (although my motivation is in the toilet at the moment), is because God won’t let me not pursue it. One thing God is better at more than my three-year-old is the constant barrage of “do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it . . . ” ad infinitum. Sigh. So I keep going, at times not so much because I want to, but to get God to be quiet (He never does, though. He merely finds something else to give me a hard time about).

A few entries ago I bragged about how I was hired to be the new technical editor of AugiWorld. Since then, they changed things around. Instead of one technical editor for the entire magazine, they created content managers for each software discipline. That includes standard AutoCAD, Civil and Manufacturing to name a few. The president of AUGI emailed me a while back to let me know, and asked if I was interested in writing articles.

I expressed I would love to. The hard part isn’t writing the articles, it’s thinking up a subject. Even though I’ve used AutoCAD since 1991, I don’t consider myself an expert. It’s such a massive program, I bet I don’t use 20% of its capabilities. How can I write articles imparting knowledge I don’t think I have enough of?

It’s fear holding me back, I admit, and I’m using that old adage: “Write what you know” as an excuse. Funny considering I’ve always hated that phrase. It’s an excuse not to write and not to broaden one’s knowledge and experiences.

But then an idea surfaced. There’s another program developed by AutoDesk called AutoCAD Map 3D (which comes as either a stand-alone program or part of the Civil package). This program has all the functionality of a CAD program, but with GIS (Global Information System) capabilities added. If you’re not sure what that is, think Google Earth. It’s basically a graphic database program where a person can search for almost anything using a graphical interface. For example a GIS application is for emergency services such as police and fire. They have GIS systems that not only have the addresses of homes, but floor plans, gas and water line locations. With a few mouse clicks, they can access all the information they need. Befuddled blind, yet?

I’ve used Map 3D for quite a few years, but only for converting existing data. I’ve not developed any database system from scratch. Since we’ve been hired by a few smaller communities in our area to develop a GIS system for their towns, it’s now important for me to learn more about Map.

So I asked the AUGI president if anyone’s offered to write articles about (or be a content manager for) AutoCAD Map.

He wrote back a few minutes later:

Yea, YOU!

We would love to have that!

Question: do you feel that would it fall under the Civil Content Manager, or are you suggesting you as the Map Content Manager?

Let me explain.

A content manager will work to ensure we have at least 1 article in their “industry” per issue (monthly).

Chris Fugitt is the Civil Content Manager. He is generally concerned with Civil 3D. So if you don’t feel the product needs an article per issue, then I would just assign you to work with Chris for whenever you want to write.

However, if Map (and Mapguide? GIS?) is a topic that could use the coverage in each issue (which is your call, not mine), then assigning you as the Map Content Manager would make more sense.

I spent over an hour debating whether to offer to write an occasional article or take the deep-ended plunge and tell him that Map deserved an article for each issue. The rub is that if I offered to be the Content Manager, I would have to write an article if no one else volunteered. How could I do that if I barely know the software?

Two things convinced me to offer to be the content manager. One, with a deadline every month to write an article, I’ll be extra motivated to write. Second, it’ll force me to learn the software.

My response included the admission that I don’t know the software very well. But, I added, I’m not the only newbie to Map. Many of the articles will include the things I learn along the way. I can’t be the only person just starting out with GIS and Map. After all, the whole point behind AUGIWorld is to teach both new users and veterans the finer points of a robust and highly versatile program.

Since I offered (and since he hasn’t written back which I’ve learned means he’s accepted my premise), I’ve downloaded all the tutorials and user guides available for map. They’re all in Adobe Acrobat format which means I can load them onto my Nook. I realized just this morning I can keep my Nook right at my computer and go through the tutorials that way without having to print out a hard copy. Good thing, too. The tutorial book is 438 pages, and the users guide is (I’m not kidding) 2180.

So I’ve changed the “write what you know” phrase to “write about what you want to know.” I want to learn AutoCAD Map, and writing articles about it on a deadline will encourage me to do just that.

I hope.