CAD Software & Services

Jacko's Story

A lot of people come to me and ask me "how do you know so much about computers?". The correct answer is, over time I have learnt it all. No one is born with the knowledge skills we have. We learn and acquire everything over time by being taught, by reading or by experiencing. So the common computer adage I use is - you get out of computers what you put into them, not money, but time!

Granted, computers and technology have and continue to make life easier for us. But you need to invest time in learning technology to get the most rewards from it. Too many expect the technology to do their work for them, or wish they didn't have to read the instructions to make things work properly. The bad news is it doesn't happen that way. If you want to get the most out of anything you need to practice, practice, practice and then practice some more!

•   I have a musician friend that can sit down and play his guitar all night to a group of family and friends, never repeating a bar!
I say, "how do you remember all that?"
•   I have a mechanic friend that can fix anything mechanical and can identify a car by sound without seeing it!
I say, "how do you do that?"
•   I have an electrician that specialized in security and communications and can design and deploy hardware without knowing software!
I say, "how do you know that'll work?"
•   I go to the doctor and he diagnoses ailments we've never even heard of from just a few symptoms!
I say, "are you sure doc?"


My bad, the picture is over 10 years old, same as this story.... lol...


Computers are my hobby, and I am passionate about them. I can not get enough. From the early 1980's 'til today, I am still bewildered by what can be done by computers and how quickly technology progresses and evolves. The last decade it has so exponentially.

So there's no magic, no genius, just an enthusiasm to use and be spellbound by technology, and a willingness to learn.
About 15 years ago when I was applying for a IT position I decided to write out a basic outline of my computer 'experiences' to date. When I first launched this web site just over a decade ago I filled in some more. Now the nostalgic read that follows reflects my infancy years in computers and technology. This is a brief overview, I'm sure I missed or passed over heaps. And I believe I've experienced and learnt 10 fold since. So that is why I can answer so many questions to so many different people, on so many different technology topics.....

You should only proceed if:

>>> you have much time to spare.....
>>> you are in a relaxed and comfortable mood.....
>>> you've had a toilet break and the coffee machine isn't far away.....


Osborne 01 (Work)
Commodore Vic 20
Commodore C64
Kaypro II (Work)
Microbee 32 (Local Aussie)
Commodore 128 (with CPM)
Amiga 1000
IBM PC (Work)
Apple Macintosh
Commodore SX64 (portable C64+)
Amiga 500
Amiga 2000
Amiga 2500
Amiga 3000
Amiga 1200
Amiga 4000
Amiga 600
Apple PowerMac 6300
TOO MANY PC's TO SHOW: 386, 486, DX, PENTIUM et al


Atari 2600 (The Addiction Starts)
Nintendo Gameboy
Atari Lynx
Amiga CD32
Nintendo N64 (with Doctor 64)
Playstation PSOne
Microsoft xBox
Gameboy Advanced
Nintendo Gamecube
Playstation PS2
Nintendo DS
Playstation PSP (Portable)
Nintendo DS Lite
Nintendo WII
Microsoft xBox 360
Playstation PS3
Nintendo 3DS


D-Link NAS
Apple iPad
WDTV Live Hub

Part One

Computers are My Hobby!

Once Upon a Time..... a bit of nostalgia, a record of history, an aged CV.....
Here's some personal history I spat out once, and it really only gets me up past the turn of the century!
You pressed the button, now you must suffer. Get comfortable in your chair and get ready for a little tale.....
be warned, I know how to waffle.....

The Early Years.

My addiction with computers started over 25 years ago when I was given a Commodore VIC 20 home computer as a Christmas Bonus from my employer. I had a brief encounter with computers whilst doing a tertiary education course in Structural Engineering, but that was way back in the good old days when all computations where entered by punch cards.
•  Started using Osborne 01 Computer running CP/M.
•  Learnt how to get around in (original) Microsoft BASIC.
•  Learnt "what if" with Visicalc (then SuperCalc then Lotus 1,2,3 then Excel)
•  Set up form letters with Wordstar (then Scribble, Word Perfect then Word)
•  99% completed the classic "Colossal Cave" pure text adventure.
•  Got a Vic 20 as a Xmas bonus. Taught myself basic, Vic BASIC.
•  Moved up to Commodore C64. Did more BASIC. Played with sprites and SID.
•  Joined and commuted to "Sydney Commodore Users Group". Learnt heaps.
•  Did "Introduction to Computers" Tech College Course.
•  Got a game of "Connect Four" (that I wrote in BASIC), published in a leading Australian computer magazine. My first pay cheque from my new found hobby/addiction.
•  Became a games reviewer for "Personal Computer Games" magazine. Got paid to play games. Wrote reviews and dumped games to video tape. My hobby started paying for itself. Each month a bag of games was delivered to my front door. This was heaven.
•  Started as an AutoCAD User on NEC APCIII system.
•  Designed some 3D spreadsheets with SuperCalc for a building company.
•  Did "Advanced BASIC" Tech College Course.
•  Started "GOSCOM" - Gosford Commodore Users Group.
•  Wrote, edited and produced 32 page monthly magazine for GOSCOM. Had to know heaps to keep writing about the machine. Really got into hacking with C64 and its 1541 disk drive. Good old ICEPIC and turbo loaders.
•  A good friend started a C64 BBS (Bulletin Board Service) I used to marvel at a Commodore C64 with 5Mb Hard Drive and 300 bps modem. We used to be able to connect to other BBS and read the text as it spat onto the screen at a maximum 300 bps. Mind you this power pack computer cost as much as a good second hand small car.
•  Moved up to C128 and CP/M. Fortunately a C64 lived inside also.
•  Started "Data Processing Advanced Certificate" at Tech College.
•  Focus on programming, System Analysis and design.
•  Learnt a fair bit about "COBOL" programming (all now forgotten)
•  Moved into the Amiga 1000 scene. Amigas RuLeD from DaY OnE. There was NO competition for price/performance.
•  Started "EAST COAST Amiga Users Group" with 4 others. (2 now deceased)
•  Did Tech College Course in "C Programming".
•  Got stuck into AutoCAD AutoLISP and re-designed AutoCAD interface at work.
•  At work I learnt everything bad about Microsoft and DOS. Helped created/write a BASIC office management system which we still use today.
•  Fully customized our AutoCAD system for the type of engineering drawings we do.
•  Started into Amiga graphics and animations.
•  Got freelance work doing animations and corporate logos for "Central Coast Media Group".
•  Tried Digi-view for video input. Awesome at the time.
•  Learnt all about genlocks, interlaced graphics, time based correctors and all the good oil that any respectable Amiga User knew. You know NTSC, PAL and overscan!
•  Another friend started an Amiga BBS, which I was the token Co-Sysop.
•  Became the Amiga Public Domain Librarian, in charge of all the FRED FISH disks.
•  Edited, and technical adviser on a commercial "Amiga Tutorial Video" for Home Study Video.
•  Set up and sold first locally available Hard Disk Drives for Amiga computers. A mere $1200 for 10Mb external SCSI drive.
•  At home I joyed with AmigaDOS, multi-tasking, graphics, animation, video, sound and awesome games.
•  This is getting me up to the milestone IBM PC AT stage and then the mighty 386.
•  Really loved AREXX macro programming on a multi-tasking operating system (not dissimilar to HTML + Javascript)
•  Got involved with a group of friends/peers and formed a computer services company called BRUTE. We were doing DOS database browser programs for the PC. BRUTE comes from "Browser Utilities".
•  Most of my graphic and animation work for the PC was done on an Amiga A4000 with PC and MAC emulators. Much cheaper than a real one.
•  The Amiga still had Lightwave, Opal Paint, The Art Department and Scala (and true pre-emptive multi-tasking) which could not be matched on the PC nor MAC! The Amiga excelled at Desktop Video and ray traced (rendered) animations.
•  The Amiga also got a lot of us hooked on Desktop Publishing, and was really only beaten by Quark on the MAC.
•  The PC was just catching up some 12 years later.
•  Did "Computer Aided Drafting 1" and "Computer Aided Drafting 2" courses at Tech College. (aka TAFE)
•  Amiga died a slow and painful death. A cancer known as the company CEO killed it single handedly.
•  Making money from PC meant I finally had to jump platforms. Got a state of the art 486 PC (2nd hand-still cost an arm and two legs back then) to join the mindless PC scene.
•  I had already been using MicroSuck stuff for 10 years in the business environment. I knew what it couldn't do. Most of my Amiga peers at the time jumped with me.
•  BRUTE started to setup and sell computers and networks. We did several DOS browsers to make ends meet.
•  Finally I got a 486DX4/100 upgrade, a 24 bit flatbed scanner and Photoshop, and forgot all about Opal Paint.
•  WINDOZE 95 arrives (LATE). Hardware starts becoming economic. The revolution has started.
•  We produced an electronic "Sylvania Lighting Catalogue" on CD. I had to get the several hundred pictures off of the MAC/Quark platform across to the PC. This was done with an Amiga 4000 with Emplant Mac emulator and a SCSI DAT drive. Dumped from Mac (Emplant) to Amiga HDD. Everything was then TWIN EXPRESS'd from Amiga to PC. BTW I was able to edit a 100Mb file using a MAC emulator on a 4Mb RAM Amiga. I couldn't load the original on a 16Mb PC. Go figure.....
•  I edited all of the pictures with Photoshop and then wrote the on-line windows help file for the program.
•  We had to buy a CD burner for nearly $AU9,000 to make the product! Back then it was costing us $AU38 for each "coaster" we burnt!!! Of the first 10 pack of blankies we bought we toasted 8 on our office dual pentium 90 running NT.
•  Bought a MAC 75/100 Power PC to do graphics, animation and video. The sucker does speech recognition out of the box. Still no PC to match in this area. That's about all it's good for now though. Too little too late. The Amiga and MAC have both been steam rolled by WIN-TEL.
•  Lightwave and Scala have crossed platforms also and are still top dog programs. Still use them to this day on my PC ;)
•  BRUTE created an "Electrical Contractors Package" and a "Plumbing Contractors Package". I was a main designer, beta tester, created the on-line help and wrote and produced the 180 plus page "Operators Handbooks" that go with both programs.
•  We setup our own in-house BBS service and all got Internet accounts.
•  I was then responsible for our web presence and re-vamped our web site. Yes, BRUTE has it's own web presence at
•  My favourite pastime became the Internet. Can safely say I know all about the web from development, deployment, hosting and even SSL pages. Actually know what ISP, IP, URL, FTP, WWW, Gopher, HTTP, Telenet and all that other garb means.
•  Got the HTML bug and helped create, develop, deploy and maintain several web sites. A couple of examples being and

Original Personal Computer - PC.

Okay, now we've got 5 years of PC history to get through.....
I won't bore you with the trials and tribulations of using the original, totally underpowered, lackluster PC. I'll summarize the phenomenal growth to what is now considered the norm, or entry.

The original Intel 8086 grew to the 286AT, then 386, 486 with (DX and SX chips) to Pentium, Pentium II, III el cheapo Celerons and now 2 Gig Pentium IV. The viable clones Cyrix and IBM hung in for a while, with only the AMD Athlon and Duron systems fighting off a total monopoly. Climbing from a wonderful 8 colours to, 8bit, 16bit, 24bit and now the norm (32Mb) 32bit graphics accelerators. We were once offered a "Number Nine" 256 colour graphics accelerator for our ACAD system, for a mere $AU9000. The beeping beep of an internal speaker to the now norm of 128bit 3D surround sound with 800 Watt (+) subwoofer speaker systems. The wondrous single speed SCSI CD-ROM I bought (for more than todays basic full system) through 2x, 4x, 8x, 12x, 16x, 24x, 32x, 48x, 50x and the new 52x. But why not just get a new 3rd generation 10x DVD with 32x CD and 12x CDR/W built in. A mouse was not a PC peripheral, it was the MAC, Amiga, Atari and Unix systems that used those weird (haahaa) Graphical User Interfaces, not a humble PC. Now we have IntelliMouse Explorer with a CAMERA inside it and no moving parts. When you used CAD on a PC you had to buy a digitizing tablet as an input device, because Bill hadn't even dreamt of Windows let alone an input device for it! Printers, where do we start. We once had a 15 inch dot matrix that made more noise than my car, took about an hour to print out an A3 sheet, and then you had to play "join the dots" to make it look descent! I'm using a modest Epson 760 colour inkjet now at home, that can print out better than our local "Kodak" shop (on photo paper) for a quarter of the cost, and there's none of the running around I once had to do! My old HP 4L laserjet printer is also priceless. Today we have Windows XP. Finally an operating system that I enjoy. Very configurable, friendly and USEFUL. I now have USB ports in my "MS Internet Pro" keyboard (on my desktop ala Mac) so I can simply hot plug my dockable Kodak digital Camera, and external USB modem if I need to fax someone. My USB scanner now uses a simple wizard to scan and print pictures. A mouse click can burn audio CD's or backup my personal data to a CDR/W. Hot plugging peripherals and wizards make XP truly a joy to use. Internet sharing for dial-up and broadband is easy enough for anyone that is up to networking systems together. Just add OfficeXP Professional and the XP Plus Pack and you have everything that MOST Users will ever need. One of my systems is basically that plus AutoCAD LT 2002 and a FREE program from the Australian Taxation Department to keep track of my taxable income. (I gave up on MYOB, and Quicken as I am NOT an accountant!)

Take it how you want..... I'm not a PC supporter, I'm a PC User.....

It took all the die hard trailblazers (like me and my mates) to push the envelope for graphics and sound, to work out CD-ROM and CDR/W and DVD, want Twain and scanner support, push for multi-tasking, networking and USB. To use the Internet from a PC with (original) Mosaic, instead of a console terminal. We used IntelliCAD just to push Autodesk to make a MDI for ACAD. You guys can now buy your new 'you beaut' Internet PC with DVD and surround sound, add fantastic windows based CAD packages, and do marvellous other things because of some uncanny historic events. All the Unix, Amiga, Atari and MAC gurus migrated to the PC (through blunders beyond our control, not Bill Gates foresight) which pushed and aided the development of the PC to something akin to what we once HAD! If we hadn't come across then you guys would probably still be using PCs with 8 colours and an internal speaker. The Unix, Amiga, Atari and MAC communities are what forced the PC to get descent graphics and sound, and forge towards a true multi-tasking OS such as Windows 2000 and XP. You guys must be pleased that history went the way it did. Now the majority, even us Unix, Amiga, Atari and Mac converts, really do enjoy using the humble PC.....

What am I doing now?

I've now branched out into selling PC's from home. I sell custom systems for those that want my experience. I build the whole system. I only use components that I will stand by. I do very good value for money systems, not canary (cheap, cheap) systems. I do (selective) upgrades and basic repairs for some people. Yes, I am stupid!! ;)

Next Logical Step!

I now sell CAD and Web software. I only sell the programs that I know to be good, to people who need them. (I am a registered Microsoft OEM supplier, and BRUTE are registered MS developers). A lot of my knowledge and info comes from pre-release or beta information from being associated with Microsoft. I recommend registering to anyone that wants to keep up with what is happening, or coming, in the PC world. I want to be able to sell X-Box real soon now.....

When it comes to computers and CP/M, OS2, Linux, NT, AmigaDOS, MacOS, MP3, CDR, CDRW, JPG, INI, INF, CFM, ASP, FTP, WWW, Ethenet, Remote Access, Netware, CAD, Tablets, Digitizers, Scanners, Printers, Plotters, Digital Cameras, Video Capture, Rendering, MYOB, N64, PSX, GameCube, X-Box, DVD, VCD and many other computing terms and items, then I can honestly say "been there, done that". Being a CAD site I will tell you that I know the difference between .MNU and .MNS in ACAD! And I prefer AutoLisp to Diesel and ARX.

Computers and Me.....

I started waffling about Computers and Me, well at present I'll admit to 4 PC's networked in my home. Three for me and one for the family. I have several removable hard drives so that I can swap and play many configurations. The home/office setup consisting (currently-always changing) of:

(1)-Basic PIII-600/256 RAM/32Mb Riva TNT2 Graphics/Creative Vibra 128 Sound/17" monitor - My web server that can boot with Win98SE with Personal Web Server and ColdFusion for web development. It aids in simulating real world environments for ColdFusion or ASP development. I can multi-boot another drive in this system with Win98 with Xitami Web Server, with FTP and Mail Services. Or it can boot into Red Hat Linux with SMTP, Sendmail and Apache server. Another drive (primary purpose) has Windows 2000 and my broadband (satellite) internet connection setup.

(2)-My Athlon Thunderbird 700/384 RAM/Matrox G400 Marvel Dual-head/Creative 128 Digital Sound/DVD/17" monitor - My Graphics system for graphics and animation. Newtek, Adobe, ULead, Xara and Matrox. The Marvel G400 can capture video and has video out. It has a Pioneer 10X DVD attached to a Hollywood Express card with TV/Video out also. It has HDD cradles so I can boot Windows Millennium with working dual-head TV/DVD output to a composite monitor while I work. The composite monitor is perfect for previewing Video edits before committing to VCR, which is attached to the dual-head Marvel. Another cradle (cold swap) has Windows XP and Office XP. Worst thing is XP doesn't support dual-head for my Marvel G400, so I can't watch TV on a separate monitor. Oh yeh, this system has AutoCAD LT 2002 and LT-Toolkit 2002 Max for testing my LISP routines.

(3)-My favourite AMD XP1600/512 RAM/Matrox G450 Dual-head/Creative Live sound/70Gig Raid HDD/12x Justlink CDR-W/Zip Drive/19" monitor - It runs Win98SE with web development tools. It has my main office applications, AutoCAD 2002 and utilities. It has a Live card with Altec Lansig subwoofer system so I can rock while I work. This system can alternatively boot into Corel Linux, which I'm just getting into. Believe me, if you want an economic, friendly Linux Web Server, then look no further. Corel are on a winner.

(4)-Kids 233/32 RAM/15" monitor - This is basic system which really lets me test things out. You must have both ends covered when developing applications or web services. All PC systems are networked, except for the Corel Linux. I have an HP 4L Laser printer, an Epson 760 Inkjet printer and and Epson 1160 (A3 for CAD) printer available on the Network. Two systems have SCSI cards as I have an extra external SCSI Zip drive, several external SCSI Tanberg Tape backup drives, Sony DSS DAT drive and several other SCSI HDD available at will. I still have the PowerMAC 75/100 with AV-in, SCSI and speech recognition as standard. I also have an Amiga A600 with a miracle piano tutor for the kids. And there happens to be a Amiga CD32 game console set up in the garage with 20 plus CD games at their disposal.

My home/office offers a fairly broad based, and very useable computing environment for all, if I do say so myself.....

While I'm at it.....

I may as well give you my 2 cents on games. I despise games on the PC. You really do need too much computing hardware to play the good ones, and I am yet to use a descent (affordable) controller on a PC. I have fixed too many PC because a game stuffed up the video, sound, windows etc, to recommend PC games to anyone. With 3DFX, Voodoo 2, Voodoo 3, Riva TNT, Open GL, Direct X, GeForce, ATI and Matrox, there are just too many variables to make it practical. Our family has a Gameboy, Nintendo 64, Amiga 600, Playstation (modded), PSOne and Amiga CD32 to play games on. I like playing Zelda, Donkey Kong 64, Rayman2, Smash Bros, Mario Golf and Pokemon from cartridges that cannot wreck anything! We can play Championship Surfer, Tony Hawk, GT, GT2, and Colin Macrae off CD on the Playstations, again no fuss, nothing breaks. I will wholeheartedly support the new Microsoft X-Box when it is launched so that we do get more good games, hopefully affordable, on a COMMON hardware platform.

What does it all add up to.....

From my humble start with CP/M as a true novice, I believe I've gone down the good old hard road and have experienced and learnt things that will never be repeated. Moments and events that will never come again. This experience makes me proud enough to skite that I am -

•  Hardware and peripheral proficient on Amiga, MAC and PC.
•  I'm comfortable building Amiga, MAC and PC systems from the ground up.
•  Can setup full Windoze stand alone systems, any CAD system, or any Network system.
•  Can put together code or multi-media projects on Amiga or PC if I need.
•  Can do graphics, animations, sound and multi-media presentations.
•  Proficient with word-processing, database, spreadsheets and desktop publishing.
•  Know more about Desktop Video than anyone in Harvey Normans ;-)
•  Can create Windows Help files, corporate logos or animations.
•  Can do CD Authoring.
•  Can efficiently Beta test programs, or review games.
•  Can write program manuals.
•  Can produce printed Manuals.
•  Do not know anyone in my area with as much AutoCAD experience!
•  Know what AutoLisp is and can write it.
•  Can do HTML editing with Java scripting.
•  Can be called a Webmaster, or Computer Guru, and not blush.....

[last edited - October, 2001]

Part Two

The Decade Since

Well the decade since the above was written has just been mind blowing with developments. Things that only a handful of my peers and I could do are done daily by my wife and 12 year old daughter on a computer. Computers are now friendly tools, defined for what you want to do. They are also like cars forever needing services and maintenance and occasionally ending in a big crash.....

I haven't documented this last decade, and probably won't. Let's just say I have been as diverse and as consistent with my hobby as with the first decade. ie Everything keeps changing and I'm not afraid to keep learning.

Our household computing and gaming has changed a little, but we still like to try all the toys. You don't know what's good or bad until you've spent your hard earnt money on it and found out the truth for yourself. Read all the one sided for or against blogs in the world and you still haven't come up with 'your' own opinion. I like being opinionated, but I like earning the opinions.....

Currently (06/2011) our standard family of 2 Adults and 2 Kids, a dog, a mouse, a fish etc.... have 3xPC's, 1xHTPC (dedicated Home Theatre PC), 1x20" iMac, 3x Laptops, 1x NetBook, 1x iPad, 1x iPod, 4x NDS (+R4), 1x 3DS, 1x N64 (+Doctor), 1x Gamecube, 1x Wii (+rockband, +WiiKey), 1x xBox (dedicated to XBMC), 1x xBox 360 (+guitar hero, +mod), 1x PS2 (+singstar, +buzz, +guitar hero, +mod), 1x PS3 (+keaw 3.55), 2x WDTV (+B-Rad), 1x WDTV Hub and approximately 13Tb of media streamed through 3x NAS systems. Normal unlimited ADSL and a few smart phones thrown in......

Add in all the big screen LCD's for TV and PC's and I know why my electricity bill is sending me broke... lol.

The same summation applies, I've been involved with and done things with computers over the last decade that aren't going to be repeated in history.....

[last edited - June, 2011]

Part Three

The Years Ahead.

The journey continues and I look forward to the next decade. To me it is exciting to use AutoCAD 2012 daily (the incredible CAD power out-of-the-box). I'm still spending up to 12 hours a day in front of my PC's at work and home, but so much of it involves the new technologies. Visiting blogs and social networking sites, keeping up to date with the emails and news you choose to view. Processing hardware and software orders online, balancing creditors and debtors with your online banking. Using TV Hubs and media streaming to control how you relax, in lieu of relaxing when the program guide dictates.

[SIDENOTE] I got into computing so that I didn't vegetate in front of the TV 'Box'. Now I spend more time watching downloaded TV and video on a PC or Media player than real free to air or commercial programs on a real TV! Go figure.....

The standout has to be the maturing of the Internet, and how it has become intertwined in our lifestyles, a daily event in nearly everyones life, and an institution for some. I see the next big thing to be the 3rd generation 'tablets' (aka Pads) which will do for computing what mobile phones have done for communications. I love the new look Windows 8 previews showing a mature multi tasking friendly GUI OS that will be consistent from phone to pad to PC, with touch screen gestures to navigate and traverse and mouse and keyboard as well for primary applications.

I'm contemplating a new (not yet released) Chromium based netbook or pad to play around with, but may wait and let the scene mature. Unfortunately, the epidemic with is known as 'Android' (aka Goggle) has grown without proper direction like the old Linux and DOS days. It's sacrilege today to have something keep changing rapidly and making everything before it redundant. Android has raced from version 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and now 3.0 Honeycomb on all different hardware platforms, leaving many obsolete devices in it's wake. Someone has to nail down some hardware specs to satisfy the Chromium OS for at least a 5 year lifecycle for it to be taken into serious realms. Just my 2 cents.

Well, if you've made it this far and not dropped off from boredom then thanks for your time. Don't be afraid to keep learning and playing with the new technologies. I learnt early on that computers are really DUMB. They literally only know two things - on/off, high pulse/low pulse, Zero/1. So they can only do what you tell them....

So for now I wish you good health, happy family and never forget, Goggle is your friend!