In speaking with a customer today about 3D models and their role in service information, they described a really simple but powerful use case. Part of the power of being able to rotate 3D models is not seeing the entire model from lots of different angles but from your current physical perspective.
Two scenarios were discussed:
1) A part currently in a service technicians hand and positioning the 3D model in the same orientation.
2) A person looking at the right-hand side of a complete piece of equipment when a 2D illustration only showed the left.
The utility of associating the virtual model with the physical product is obvious to me now, but I couldn’t have put it into words before today.
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Windows Vista took a step backward when it comes to the Quick Launch toolbar. You used to be able to undock the Quick Launch toolbar in XP and dock it to say the left side of your computer screen. No more. In Vista it is glued to the Taskbar with superglue! Not accepting defeat, I started looking for an alternative paradigm for my frequently used programs that would work with Vista. I found two programs that are based on the Mac concept of a taskbar.
The two programs that I reviewed:
RK Launcher is a free application that will allow the user to have a visually pleasing bar at the side of the screen that is used to quickly launch shortcuts. With support for themes, PNG’s and ICO’s and with smooth animations, it is a good Quick Launch replacement.
RocketDock is a smoothly animated, application launcher. It provides a nice clean interface to drop shortcuts on for easy access and organization. With each item completely customizable there is no end to what you can add and launch from the dock. Minimized windows can appear as icons on the dock.
In the end, I went with RocketDock. It seemed to supply slightly better customization support and seemed to work better with Vista. I would however recommend either for an XP based machine.
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I have recently been experimenting with various mind mapping software. A mind map is a diagram used to represent ideas, task and other things that are linked, arranged and then rearranged as more information becomes available. In the 80’s and 90’s sticking post-it notes on a conference room wall and connecting them with yarn would be similar to a mind map today. One of the advantages to mind maps is that in many instances you can put more detailed information behind the topics. That way any notes pertaining to a particular topic stays with that topic no matter where it ends up in the map.
In some ways mind maps remind me a bit of usecase diagrams in UML and I think that we will see more mind maps and usecases being used in topic oriented document design. Many of the mind map tools store or can export the maps as XML documents enabling a developer to write transforms that for example might create a DITA topic for each item in the map.
I’ve been experimenting with three applications:
Freemind is an open source project written in Java. I like the fact that the default storage format is XML based. The schema is simple to understand and allows you to create effective mind maps. It falls down in being able to associate additional notes behind topics.
Semantik formally known as Kdissert is my favorite if you are running Linux. This is a must have application. Unfortunately there is no windows equivalent which limits its appeal in most business situations. Semantik allows you not only to create complex maps with lots of topics but store additional information behind the items as well as links to other files. The topics and information can then be exported as a single document. Currently there is an export template for Docbook which implies that it would be fairly easy to make one for DITA.
Mindjet is commercial software and not cheap. I’d say this is a company that Microsoft should acquire like they did VISO back in the 1990s. It’s good at creating maps and placing content behind them and I think it would fit in perfectly with their Office Suite. The XML export isn’t the cleanest thing in the world (namespaces) and the file order needs to be studied carefully. On the positive side, once I get past those challenges I didn’t have any problems creating XSLT transforms to either Docbook or DITA.
Wikapedia has a longer list of Mind mapping software.
Microsoft has built in connections to popular blogging software in Word 2007. This blog entry is my initial test of publishing directly from Microsoft Word to the sgmlxml blog. This will be nice when I want to work on blog entries while disconnected on an airplane. This is a feature I hope OpenOffice offers soon as well. It helps keep desktop word processors relevant in an online world.
Way back in 2001 I bought my first e-book reader. It was about the size of a paperback book and was comfortable to hold in my hand. They went out of business at least in part because of the restrictions they put on the content you could upload to the device. They went out of business and I was devastated! I have to carry books and magazines again! Horrible.
Finally after years of waiting a new e-book reader has emerged from Sony. I went and played with a Sony Reader today. The reader is slim, sexy, and easy to hold in one’s hand. Definitely on my short list of must have tech toys.
Price: On the high side at $300 to $349. As a consultant and someone who travels all the time I think I fall into Sony’s ideal initial market. I’d be happy at something more like $200 to $250 which was the price of the 2001 reader.
Content: Sony at least hasn’t made the same mistake as others in this space and allows you to upload PDF, TXT, RTF and Word documents besides e-books. It will even play MP3s.
Additional Items: For 350 bucks you would think Sony could give you a nice book-like cover to protect your expensive device. Nope. Buy one on Amazon.
Back Light: I wish it had one. I really enjoyed reading in low light situations with my other reader. Just like a real book, the Sony Reader requires that you have a reading light. While not having a back light heps with battery life I think this was boneheaded.
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This is a great plugin for documentum.
- Extract the zip to elicpse\plugins directory< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
- Assumes you have Desktop Client Installed
- Copy dfc.jar and dfcbase.jar to the org.cah.eclipse.plugins.dctm.dql directory
- Your Shortcut to launch eclipse should look something like this “C:\Eclipse3_9M\eclipse.exe -vmargs -Ddfc.properties.file=c:\documentum\config\dfc.properties“
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