Friday, August 31, 2007

Catching Up

It's been about 5 months since my last post and much has gone down. Work has been keeping me very busy with preparing and rolling out new CAD standards throughout the company. The Philadelphia AutoCAD Users Group (PAUG) has been continuing to grow which I'm currently serving as Vice President for 2007. Lastly I have a little one on the way, and it's my first, so planning and preparing is the task at hand!

Hopefully all of you have been keeping up with the latest engineering application offerings from Autodesk, Bentley and others and if your lucky enough to be on a Subscription, SELECT, or Maintenance program it makes it a little easier. So much to take advantage of and so little time to get up to speed with everything. I've always been the type of person to learn things on my own through trial and error which seems to have served me well over the years. This type of learning process has allowed me to have a much deeper knowledge of how things work and how to get around issues as they arise. That type of learning method is getting much more difficult to keep up with due to the reduced amount of time between new releases of software and major service packs.

I've recently decided to change gears and rely more on training resources before I dive into using new software products or versions. This allows for more time to figure out best practices, tips & tricks, and to find out known issues which I would have otherwise had to find out on my own. Even though this learning method for me takes away the potential of obtaining a deeper knowledge of how an application may function due to less need to troubleshoot issues as they arise but it may allow for a little more time for other things, face it, we're all looking for a little more time.

With that said, I'm sure those that still try to learn things on their own or are forced into that situation will have a little more underlying knowledge of an application but I'll have the extra time to find out about and avoided the problems in the first place. My new resources are the many free knowledge articles posted all over the Internet from professionals, software developers, and resellers. Blogs are becoming a much more dependable resource for up-to-date information about the bleeding edge of new software products and how their used. Vlogs (Video Blogs) are becoming free video-based training resources on specific tasks as well as providing solutions to questions or problems that would normally be time consuming to figure out on your own.

A person recently said to me, "it's better to admit that you don't to something to everyone than thinking you have a way to find the answers for yourself." That statement may be the underlying reason many people become members of User Groups, Discussion Groups, or Forums because if you share the things you don't know with others your bound to find many willing to provide you their potential solutions. Without thinking much about it, this may have been one of the reasons I got involved with the PAUG. Another reason I joined PAUG was to share my knowledge with others which has been gathered over my 15 year career using various design and engineering applications. My previous trial and error learning habits allowed me to obtain a very deep and extensive knowledge of how the various software applications and versions I've used over the years work.

Well, with all that said, I now tend to recommend formal training when budget and time permits. Many times training is obtained through your value added reseller (VAR), but I've also found many software company's offering training and implementation services via their own professional services teams. Always be sure to weigh all your options before implementing new versions of software or entirely new software products on your own.

That's my 3 cents for today.