There's a bit of difference between "computer literate", which hundreds
of millions of people are to some extent, and "programming literate"
which most of the computer literate folks aren't...
...and the extent of my CS coursework is an informal two-week APL
workshop in Poughkeepsie in the early 70's.
Enough other people have written compilers that it's not such a big deal
- but it should be enough to be able to claim some measure of
understanding of what it's all about.
A single language/compiler doesn't make one an "expert", and pride is
just baggage to be carried from success to failure.
Way cool. I learned APL about the same time. Just wish that there was a
cheap good full featured interpreter for it.
Well, actually it does make one an expert. Writing compilers is not
simple--a lot of students in courses with textbooks and being pretty much
stepped through it have trouble with them. Pride may be baggage, but so is
You're selling yourself short--it doesn't matter how you developed the
skill, you've got a lot more than you think you have.
I never thought this topic would come up (at least not to this degree)
in a woodworking forum, but while we're at it, I was the author of IBM's
X86 macro assembler for OS/2, short-lived though it was. It was called
"ALP", and we (95% *I*) wrote it to replace Microsoft's "MASM" when they
split from IBM in the early nineties to focus on Windows, taking all
their compilers with them... I also worked closely with IBM's C/C++
compiler lab in Toronto and the debugger lab in Lexington to make sure
all the tools played well together. I also have some code in IBM
Toronto's version of Microsoft's original linker (ILINK), mainly in
support of building the OS/2 version of the Mozilla browser with GCC.
Apart from perhaps CAD programs, compilers and linkers are some of the
most complex software tools out there. Morris certainly has my respect.
Free bad advice available here.
To reply, eat the taco.
Very impressive. I mentioned that I got addicted to computers long ago
when I thought it might help me some in drawing up some of the stuff I
was making in my shop. Actually, I couldn't draw stick figures very
well and I had managed to become rather adept at drawing 3 dimensional
desks, cabinets and so on. When I started computing in earnest it was
programing that grabbed me the most. I learned 6 or 7 languages, mostly
high level text processing stuff like AWK/GAWK/REXX but also some lower
level stuff like C. The connection to woodwork is pretty neat, and I
learned to build stuff with programing that *I* found useful, just like
building stuff out of wood. The same sort of creative juices were being
One of the first "languages" I learned was SALT, which came with a
communications program called Telix. This was before the internet and
people were using 1200 and 2400 baud modems. The guy that wrote Telix
also wrote the programing language that went with it. I was impressed.
Reminds me of the guys that wrote C actually wrote it as a tool in
developing UNIX, the worlds greatest OS... again, I was impressed.
Knowing you wrote your own compiled language tickles the heck out of
me... and again, very impressive.
Today, I'm obsessed with neither programing or woodwork. I tend to
waste a lot of time just fighting with people like Robocop just for
kicks. Not sure why I enjoy it, but I do, and have ever since the
When I was a kid of around 10 or 12, my brother who was 17 built a canoe
out of orange crates. This was in the early 50's, and the canoe is
still hanging in our garage, and it is a perfect wood canoe with canvas
wrap. Orange crates were made of 1/4 wood slats in those days. I'll get
a picture of it one of these days, it is really impressive. People used
to laugh when you would tell them you made a canoe out of orange crates,
until they saw it.. Anyway, the neat thing is he used a neighbors band
saw to do some of the curved cuts, and when I got married, I bought the
neighbors bandsaw, and all of his other Rockwell/Delta tools which I
still use to this day... They sure made nice tools in those days.
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I took a quick look at Ruby. It looks a helluva lot more fun than
autolisp, which I had to learn many moons ago but have happily
forgetten, except that I just about wore the ()'s off the keyboard.
That was a miserable experience. I don't particularly want to learn
it, but if I was starting from zero it doesn't look like a bad
environment to work with.
Those are reasonable questions. Nothing is free is this world; no free
lunches. Here's my pig-slanted view on who and what Google is.
Google is a public company, a profit making concern, not a philanthropic
interest. What is their product? What is their revenue stream? If you
accumulate enough of it, data becomes more than simply information. It
becomes knowledge. Knowledge is power, and power is money. Every month, they
serve up 6 billion lookups from their search engines. 6 billion times a
month, people go to Google to ask a question with an expectation of finding
Knowledge is their product. What is their revenue stream? Is it too much of
a cop out to say I don't know? If I knew and understood, I would be sitting
in a semi-tropic villa looking out on my own slice of paradise, not the
frost covered side street that fronts my winter wonderland middle class
suburban home. You only need to know this about money: nobody is standing in
line to give it away for free, not in stock exchanges on Wall Street, not to
entrepreneurs as franchise agreements, and not to unproductive companies.
Google is well funded; they're not doing this out of their own pockets.
So, what of Google Earth and Sketchup? Last month, GE added bathymetric
data -- ocean bottoms, sea floors -- to their maps. The version before, they
added deep sky astronomy. The version I have now has historical data, old
maps and old aerial surveys, back to 1994 for my area, older in other areas
where available. Knowledge is power, and power is money. To own it, they
have to give it away, or at least let you see it. They have it, and now we
do. It's a little circular, I know.
But what of Sketchup? What's the tie in? In every near future sci-fi
fantasy, somebody at a computer console has building plans and infinite
details of the topography. How did it get there? Yesterday, there was
nothing. Tomorrow, it's taken for granted. Where did it come from? From
public building departments, where plans are filed for building permits? It
could, but that would cost a mint. Alas, the cheapest route is a grassroots
approach. Here's a tool. Draw a box, take some pictures, and slap them on
the outside. Share it with us if you like; don't bother if you don't like.
It's a start.
There's also gmail, Google's "free" email service. What a coup that was.
Overnight, they effectively subscribed to every private email discussion
list. Is there value in knowing who is saying what to whom about what
subject? Somebody seems to think so; lots of somebodies with lots of money.
But we were talking of Sketchup. Knowing the motivations for its existence,
the capabilities and limitations are hardly surprising. There are no nurbs
or real curves, just triangle meshes. These are what GE can display. They
don't want or need deeply detailed profiles; the support for drawing that
simple sink cutout is abysmal. You could do it, in the same way pigs can fly
given enough desire and a large enough catapult. There are better suited
tools, animals more aerodynamic than that pig, for that job. Does that
denigrate the pig or Sketchup? Not in any way that I can think of. Half the
world won't eat pork in any fashion. So what? The rest of the clues are in
what SU does well. Take a couple of street-side photos, follow some simple
directions, and trace it into a 3D shape; post it to Google.
Does any of that stop you from drawing anything else with it? Of course not.
The more use you have of it, the more literate you become in its use, the
better the chance you'll actually use it for its intended purpose. It is
somewhat "dumbed down", both because of what Google hopes to achieve with
it, and also to make it accessible. And this brings us to the other
comments, on which I'll take a pass and not respond. All that needs to be
said has already been said, perhaps more strongly than I would have, but
that's just how people are.
So I send a file (pictured, as I doubt you could open the actual file)
(There are now hundreds of these kinds of sinks)
==========SU users can look forward to a few hours of misery, frustration, and
uncertainty trying to sketch that sink outline. Start to finish was 8
minutes using SolidWorks, all the tangents faired, dimensioned, fully
contrained, with the selected controlling dimensions distinguishable from
There is some ambiguity in the drawing, but maybe nothing major. It is over
defined, and the resulting shape is different depending on which dimensions
you take as defining, and which are reference. For example, the 576 1/2 came
out to 576.41 by choosing the radius and 128 1/2 dimension as controlling.
Overall, by prefering radius and tangency to the specified dimensions,
*most* center locations came out to less than 0.1 mm off the conflicting
dimensions, easily within the implied tolerance. There are some notable
exceptions. One was the 209 dimension. It becomes 204.83 if you let the 373
dimension drive it. Using the 209 as the driving dimension, the 373 becomes
372.95. The largest difference was the 110 1/2. It came to 122.64, a half
inch difference, if I let the other dimensions drive it.
What's the relevance to SU? For that matter, what is your comfort level with
ACAD LT or TurboCAD for something like this? Simply that there is a
difference between SU and the full CAD systems. One of the major differences
is specifying design intent. What is the relationship between on object to
the other, one arc to the next? One part to another? It doesn't matter much
for the block shapes we typically work with. But there is a difference.
Ok, I'll admit that this if the first time I have really tried doing this
much with SU, using arcs and circles but it took me 44 minutes to draw the
sink cut out diagram. I made a couple of silly mistakes that wasted time,
I spent 20 minutes trying to draw the whole thing rather than 1/2 and
mirroring the other half. But there was absolutely no misery or
frustration. 8 minutes is certainly faster but I did it with a program that
I have not been using very long and I have no investment in the software.
Agreed, a beginner with no drafting experience may indeed take a while doing
this same drawing but I doubt that I could have done it any faster using
I'm sick enough to think this was a fun way to spend the afternoon. It's
nothing against SU or ACAD. SW is a different class of tool, made
specifically to excel at this sort of thing. You can see the progression in
CAD capabilities in the evolution in car body shapes, from flat sided boxes
in the 80's to the faired, used bar of soap shapes we have today. Your 20
minutes is rather impressive. I wouldn't even try this in SU.
(It didn't take the *whole* afternoon. I helped a friend buy a used bandsaw
and cart it home in between.)
Geez, Mike where do you live that the afternoon is 44 minutes long, the
South Pole? LOL
I was just pointing out that Sketchup will do much more than many think it
can do. Obviousely having a mechanical drawing back ground is helpful in
solving some of the more complex situations when using SU. More expensive
programs have short cuts for dealing with those common situations.
Preacher; choir. Regarding that last bit, though... I fear I'm belaboring
it, and you have to be tired already of reading it, but it still needs to be
said. The "smarts" in the 2d sketch is a generalization of the parametric
solver, not just shortcuts for hard coded special, common situations. You
nail down the things you care about, a size, or a distance, or some other
relationship to some other part. This specifies your design intent. What
isn't nailed down are implicitly the things the solver can adjust to
maintain your intent when you later move things around or resize them. SU 7
Pro added the fledgling beginnings of this capability. I don't know much
about it, since I don't have Pro to play around with, but I expect it to
remain somewhat limited, simply because SU doesn't retain all that much
history of how the parts are created. For example, it doesn't remember that
you pulled a face X distance to create the part, so it can't later adjust
that distance in its solution. We'll see how that turns out in subsequent SU
versions. That should be an interesting area to watch.
8 minutes, eh? Not too shabby. *tips hat*
The dimensions are mostly illustrative, The 'meat' is in the .dxf file
itself, that is the one that drives all the toys.
As you know, when dimensioning anything with curvature, the beginning
and end of a curve can be a difficult to grab accurately.
In most cases I strip the dimensioning layer off before sending the
actual file off.
Call them a rough guide. The actual .dxf file will dimension more
accurately. (The architects are a different crowd than CNC Mill
r----> who has heard good things about Solidworks.
8 minutes, eh? Not too shabby. *tips hat*
========SW makes it easy. Toss on the tangent arcs, one after the other, and *then*
nail them down with dimensions. They're color coded blue until you place
enough dimensions to fully define them. The solver moves and resizes things
as you do this. It beats blazes out of going the other way, the familiar
drafting room way of finding the centers and tangent points and then drawing
It certainly wasn't skill on my part; SW did all the work. It's been a few
weeks since I even used it. To bring this around full circle, I've been
using SU almost exclusively in that time. ;)
No interest other than how cutting holes in counter tops requires much
in a CAD program, if anything. I've cut perfect holes for sinks using
just a tape measure and saw?
I can understand needing fancy CAD stuff with a CNC interface if you are
doing this, but as has been said over and over, SU is not a fancy CAD
program. I would imagine the sink companies have all the stuff
available for the $million CNC guys to use or plug into their fancy CNC
The picture looks easy enough to draw up with SU. I wouldn't be
surprised that SU drawings are not available now. I know I stumbled over
tons of company drawings of all sorts of stuff for use in SU.
Again, I would think the sink companies have this stuff available to
plug into the software used on most CNC equipment? I would guess the
standard CAD software is AUTOCAD, and just about everything should work
with autocad. I don't see many woodworkers buying autocad though, just
to draw up some cabinets or book shelves, or even figuring out how to
cut out a sink hole in a counter top.
I doubt the cost of the job means much to SU. Swingmans $300,000.00
house plans in SU for example. Interfacing with your $30,000 cnc
machine might be an issue, but for most woodworkers, SU is not only
perfect, if anything, it's over kill.
Nothing wrong with that. Still, I've installed a number of sinks,
cutting out the sink hole perfectly with nothing more than a tape,
pencil and saw... No fancy or non-fancy CAD program needed. As a matter
of fact, the only time I had a problem with a sink hole is when a
cabinet company measured for the counter top, and the counter top
company cut the hole and it was off by an inch. Not sure which guy made
the mistake, but probably the one using the expensive CAD program:-(
This is certainly a reason not to use SU I guess. On the other hand
I've never used a fancy CNC machine, but my first thought is it comes
with software to plug in simple design parameters, and for tricky stuff,
like a fancy sink, the sink company would have files for that purpose.
Does your CNC machine have proprietary software or does it interface
with standard CAD stuff like AUTOCAD? I would think most large
companies that make stuff that use CNC machines would have files that
could be easily plugged in so the client wouldn't need to draw up much
Don't know, probably will soon if they don't. I've seen lots of SU
stuff from large companies when perusing for SU info.
That's what I thought. Just seemed odd to me that a counter top company
would need all that fancy stuff. I do get the CNC stuff, but that is
still a little unusual for the typical woodworker. I'm pretty sure you
just bought one yourself, so until the recent past, you didn't have to
plug numbers into a computer to build a counter top, right?
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Quartz countertop? 30 mm thick? The edge of the cut-
Nope! But I thought you sent the Quartz tops out for cutting?
Nope, wrong. If I were doing Quartz, I would send it out same as you.
If I were doing granite, I'd let the granite guys do it. Everyday, run
of the mill sinks, tape, pencil, saw has always worked fine for me.
Don't think I would need Autocad, Turbocad, SketchUp or go to school for
drafting, design, anything like that for any of them. My guess is a
bazillion sinks have been installed perfectly without computer aided
More importantly, if I were designing a kitchen, and building all the
cabinets myself, which I have also done w/o any computer aided anything,
I would certainly use SketchUp rather than just the pencil and paper
I've used in the past. I would recommend anyone interested in designing
stuff on a computer before building it, give SU a look, it is damned
good. For those of you, like Kevin, that go to the wood shop to get
away from the computer, you certainly don't need SU or any CAD program
to build damned near anything.
If I had a million dollar counter top business I might buy a $30,000 CNC
machine and use whatever worked with it, but for sure, I would not slam
a piece of free software that so many people find a treat, particularly
if I were not interested in learning what all it could do.
So, to summarize, I don't blame you for using all that expensive
schooling and software you already have, but I do find you denigrating
something you admit to not wanting to "waste time" learning quite
stupid, even for you. Perhaps your time would be better "wasted"
checking everyones spelling and grammar?
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