Performance issues caused by McAfee anti-virus software

If you are experiencing sluggish response times and slow refresh rates of the user interface of your 2011 Autodesk products your McAfee anti-virus software may be the culprit. 

The final verdict is not in yet but rest assured that the elves at Autodesk are burning the midnight oil to resolve the issue.  There have been reported cases of the following:

  • McAfee products appear to misidentify DWF as a threat.
  • With the on-access scanning technology enabled, there can be a slow response time due to the McAfee product actively scanning Autodesk files.
  • McAfee products appear to spend a long time examining Autodesk installer files, which can impact overall computer performance. It also appears to misidentify the installer files as corrupted.
  • When attempting to browse to a directory that contains a zip archive, chm file, or installer, the explorer window freezes and there is a delay before it will display the contents of the directory.
  • With McAfee enable, opening a CHM file can take as long as ten minutes to display and the application interface will appear frozen during this time.

Autodesk technical solution TS15893641 prescribes the steps and settings necessary to get you back in production.

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Civil 3D 2011 Update 1 display and stability issues

Immediately after installing Civil 3D 2011 Update 1 to my machine at home my crosshairs began flickering.  It so happens, this is a known issue possibly having to do with unsupported graphic cards or graphic drivers.  The update may provoke other issues such as random crashes, blurred vision, and erections lasting longer than four hours. 

Ok… that joke was obviously in poor taste and at the expense of the billions of men suffering from erectile dysfunction.  I apologize.

The solution is detailed in Autodesk Technical Solution TS15851876 and simply involves toggling the hardware acceleration in your video settings off and then back on.  It quickly solved my problem and saved me much pain and embarrassment.

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Autodesk Performance Monitor

I see a lot of machinery over the course of a day and I can certainly attest to the fact that some of us are background people and some of us are icon people.  I’m in that first group.  My desktop background isn’t much but it’s special to me and my preference is for it to be relatively uncluttered. 

I tell you this because a new gadget sprang forth from Autodesk Labs earlier this month called the Autodesk Performance Monitor and it may deserve a spot on your desktop.  It’s a Windows desktop gauge that displays the virtual memory utilization of your AutoCAD products. 

Our Civil stuff loves physical memory and when it runs out it resorts to disk space to help things along.  When this occurs your performance may drop significantly, especially when working with complex objects such as corridors or grading groups.

The Performance Monitor displays a color-coded status bar that shows the status of your system resources.  It’s cute in a colorful sort of way and it only works when you have an AutoCAD product running.  It may even prove useful to those of us ignorant to the power of the Windows Task Manager. 

What caught my attention was the fly-out window that appears when you double-click on the status bar.  The fly-out displays more detailed information on memory usage along with suggestions for AutoCAD system variables to speed things up if performance begins to drag.  This can be extremely useful information.

It works on both 32-bit and 64-bit Vista and Windows 7 operating systems and is simple to install.  I learned new things about AutoCAD system variables in the first two minutes I used it. 

So, whether or not you choose to display the Monitor isn’t really important.  Your desktop background can be the same source of comfort and joy it has always been.  But when work gets intense, the Performance Monitor is a good tool, and for those of us struggling with marginal system resources a little help is always welcome.

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AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 Update 1

Autodesk has released AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 Update 1, the ubiquitous fix for a variety of issues.  It includes all previous hotfixes for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 and those included in AutoCAD 2011 Update 1.1 and AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 Update 1.

Before applying this update, make sure that any customizations made to the user profile (such as, customizations made to the support file search paths, print file customizations, printer support file paths, redirections, custom template settings, and so on) are exported to a secure location, then imported and reapplied after the update has been successfully installed.

You cannot run an automatic uninstall to remove this update. To restore your version of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 to its pre-update state, uninstall AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 and reinstall it.

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Improve Drawing Performance

If you are struggling with marginal system resources and wrestling with a large drawing containing an abundance of hatched areas, Autodesk has provided yet another simple little performance trick to help us out.

The system variable, HPQUICKPREVIEW,  controls the automatic preview of a selected hatch pattern as you move the cursor across a closed area.  This is a good idea but unfortunately is known to cause performance issues in large, complex drawings.

Again, it’s a handy tool so don’t turn it off unless… you are experiencing performance issues.  Performance issues?  Is that vague enough?

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AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 Feature Alert: Watershed Analysis

Program Feature AlertI was recently contracted as a designer on a low impact design, 200-acre subdivision development with open ditch drainage and pertinent utilities.  The intent was to take advantage of the natural drainage patterns of the property, as much as possible, and keep lot grading to a minimum.

As you might guess, delineating drainage areas was critical to the design but we were not able to perform this analysis using Civil 3D 2011 in any reasonable amount of time.  Ultimately, another program was used to perform the analysis.  

  1. The original surface was created using the property boundary as a data clip boundary and then adding an 800,000 point LiDAR text file.  (The points were NOT imported into the drawing.)  By defining the data clip boundary first the surface properties indicated only 90,000 points were used from the LiDAR file.
  2. A data shortcut was created from the surface and the drawing saved as a base surface drawing.  The surface shortcut was then referenced into a new drawing and the drawing saved as a design drawing.
  3. Efforts to generate the watershed sub-areas in the design drawing were abandoned after several hours.  Attempts to generate surface slope arrows were also abandoned for the same reason.
  4. As a check, I attempted the analysis on another, albeit, smaller surface.  The program quickly created watershed sub-areas and slope arrows.
  5. Smoothing was applied to the referenced surface but both analysis methods again failed.
  6. Surface simplification was applied in addition to the surface smoothing and again both analysis methods failed.
  7. Surface simplification only was applied and again both analysis methods failed.

I posted this issue on the Autodesk Civil 3D Discussion Group but without response from Autodesk.  I thought their policy allowed for some interaction on user posts but I could be wrong.  One user successfully generated sub-areas from similar data but it took almost eleven hours. 

This concerns me as more and more of my clients are attempting to use sonar, lidar, and laser-scanned point clouds in the design process.  I am now a man on a mission.

Windows 7 (Ultimate 64)
AMD Phenom X2 550 Processor @ 3.10 GHz
ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series
8 GB RAM
AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 (64)

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AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010 Update 3.1

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010 Update 3.1 was released today, (all together now…) addressing a number of known program issues.  I am aware that not everyone will find the sarcasm reflected by my use of italics and parenthetical asides very funny.  On the one hand, I do feel guilty in finding humor at the misfortune of others.  On the other hand,  it’s easy for me to laugh.  I don’t have to push out this update to hundreds of users.

For those of you that do not know the drill by now I have copied most of this post from the last update announced just a few weeks ago.  As always, backup all program customizations to a secure location before installing the update.  Then import and reapply after the update has been successfully installed. 

If you intend to install the AutoCAD Civil 2010 Subscription Advantage Pack do so before applying the update or the installation will fail. 

You must have administrative privileges to install the update.  You may be prompted for the original installation media or network image.  The update can be deployed over a network using the Deployment Wizard. 

You cannot uninstall this update.  Civil 3D 2010 must be uninstalled/reinstalled to restore it to pre-update condition. 

Download Autodesk technical solution DL15407692 for installation instructions and other details.

This update will apply to the following versions of Civil 3D 2010:

  • Civil 3D 2010 Version 3 (Update 2)
  • Civil 3D 2010 Subscription Advantage Pack
  • Civil 3D 2010 Version 4 (Update 3)
  • Civil 3D 2010 Subscription Advantage Pack with Update 3
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Civil 3D System Requirements

I see a pattern developing here.  A tech doc detailing system requirements for one version is posted one day, all versions the next.  A little patience and I think I can cut down on my number of posts.

If you are using the 32-bit version of Civil 3D you should have at least 4 GB of RAM and be employing the 3 GB switch.  Also, if you are upgrading hardware it’s time to move off the XP operating system.  Vista and Windows 7 both have superior memory management capabilities.

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Civil 3D 2010 System Requirements

Two things stand out to me in this tech doc: 1) 32-bit Civil 3D requires 4 GB of RAM in order to take advantage of the 3 GB switch, and; 2) Windows 7 and Vista operating systems offer superior memory management over the Windows XP operating system. 

RAM and operating systems are certainly easy targets when it comes time to save money but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  We need the proper tools to do our job.  Shame on you if your job is to dig the hole and you show up without enough shovel.

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Civil 3D Updates & Service Packs

Those of you out there like me that struggle to keep up with such things may find this document very useful.  It’s a list of Civil 3D hot fixes, updates, and service packs for the last nine releases.  Almost.

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