Service Interruptus

The ManuSoft web server has been humming along steadily for the last 7 years on an old Compaq server running Windows 2008. You may have noticed that it’s currently offline. Actually the server is still humming along just fine – it’s just that nobody can connect to it.

I had some connections with the IT guy at a local printing business, and for practically no cost I had been using two static IP addresses over their T1 connection. Unfortunately the IT guy has since moved on, leaving nobody there with the ability to manage my connection. My sweet deal was destined to collapse eventually. That’s exactly what happened last week when they had some configuration changes made to their network.

I’ve now moved this blog to the cloud (Windows Azure), and I will be moving the rest of the services to the cloud over the next week or two. Wish me luck!


Although my blog has become relatively stagnant, the rest of my life has been changing — and there are even bigger changes ahead.

My children have been growing into adulthood one by one, and my parenting time has been shrinking as a result. To take up the slack, I bought a bike a few years ago and started riding it on the many local bike trails. Initially cycling was a way to get healthy and enjoy the outdoors, but it has turned into much more. Riding a bike is great exercise, but it’s also a fantastic social activity when you do it with friends, and I have made many new friends in the very large and growing cycling community here in Ohio.

The last few years I’ve also been racing my bike competitively in the many amateur bicycle races held during the spring and summer. I never played organized sports as a kid, so this has given me an avenue to explore an unfamiliar side of myself.

While cycling has changed my life in many ways, even bigger personal changes are on the horizon. I’ve been divorced (or as I often say, “married to my bike”) for many years, but even that will be changing later this year — unless she changes her mind before we seal the deal.

In addition to the many personal changes, I’m also making some professional changes. I’ve accepted a contract offer to join the software development team of Belgium based Bricsys, maker of BricsCAD. I will continue my philanthropic work, including work on the OpenDCL project and my participation in online ObjectARX, AutoLISP, and C++ programming forums. I will continue maintaining and supporting ManuSoft software products. I will even continue blogging here and writing for upFront.eZine, but maybe my focus will shift a bit.

I’m looking forward to all these new challenges, and excited to see where this new road leads. Thank you for travelling with me!

QuikPik 4.1 Adds Classic Title Bar Feature

Those of you with bad eyesight (and the rest of us throwbacks) will appreciate the new ‘Classic title bar’ feature in QuikPik 4.1. This new feature addresses AutoCAD 2009 and later versions of AutoCAD with the fancy schmancy title bar and menu bar.

Out-of-the-box (not customizable):

QuikPik ‘Classic title bar’ (Windows 7 Aero Theme):

QuikPik ‘Classic title bar’ (Windows 7 Classic Theme):

If you already own a QuikPik license, you can get the new version by logging in and downloading it again from the link in your order detail. If you don’t own QuikPik yet, try it out by installing the shareware version — and if you like it, buy it!

New ManuSoft web site

After over 10 years of the same infrastructure and the same look and feel, the ManuSoft web site has finally been given an overhaul. The original web site used Perl scripts that I wrote myself to serve up pages by patching together a header, table-of-contents, and main content frame and displaying it either as a 3-frame web page or by using an HTML <table> to format the layout. It wasn’t exactly pretty, but it functioned well and served its purpose for a long time.

So what prompted the new design? Primarily my desire to make it easier for customers to download updates to previously purchased software. The old web site used a rather simplistic authentication system that resulted in me spending a lot of time looking up order numbers for customers who had lost their order information. There also was no automated way for customers to update their own registration information, so I had to do that as well.

The new web site requires only a user name and password, both of which can be retrieved or reset simply by entering the email address for the account. Hopefully this will reduce the need for manual intervention. If you purchased ManuSoft software in the past, please visit the Customer Service page now to activate your account (in the Legacy Account section).

I used Joomla for the content management system and VirtueMart for the shopping cart, both of them heavily customized. The template I chose doesn’t work correctly with IE6, but later versions of IE, FireFox, Opera, and Chrome seem to work pretty well (except that, ironically, my Google Translate widget displays incorrectly in Chrome).

I think the new site looks a bit nicer and more modern than the old one, although it’s still amateur by most standards. As long as it serves its purpose of making both yours and my job easier, I’m satisfied.