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Carrara Wiki – A Call for Dialogue
Posted: 17 April 2013 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The Problem:
There is a tremendous amount of information available “out there” on Carrara – through the forums, YouTube videos, personal websites, etc. While this is wonderful, it also creates a number of problems. And these problems are the source of my biggest frustrations with the product.

For example:
1) The User’s Guides only covers about 30% of what I need to know. And 80% of what is in the guides I may get to someday, but not today. (BTW, the primary User’s Guide (V7) is now 5 years old.) And conducting a web search for a specific topic, to learn more about a certain technique, or to get an answer to a specific question, can be very time consuming. Since I use Carrara as a hobby, I don’t have a lot of time searching for what should be more readily available.
2) The Daz3D forums contain a TREMENDOUS amount of useful knowledge, experiences, how-to suggestions, techniques, and tips about how to use Carrara more effectively. But I find purely most of this information purely by accident while reading through the various threads. Further, I doubt I would have found this information using a Google search. Some users, such as Dartanbeck, post tutorials and other material on the forums, but it is difficult to know whether this is an effective way to reach the user community.
3) It is hard in advance to identify the best sources of information about a specific topic. I might have to scan 5-10 locations to get information I am looking for.
4) Information about Carrara is not organized by level of expertise. You might have to scan a number of sources that cover things you know to find what you are looking for.
This is not a complaint thread. However, I assume that others are experience similar problems and have similar frustration. What is needed is a way to better organize, and supplement, all of the information that is available.

The Vision:
My personal vision is that there could be a Carrara wiki that would become a community-based resource, symbiotically shared by everyone in the community. More specifically, I envision the Carrara wiki to be a place people could (1) share their knowledge, discoveries, techniques, and tips about Carrara with others who are struggling to understand how to use the tool, and (2) get answers or ideas about how to use Carrara more effectively, whether they are a beginner or expert.

I do NOT envision the wiki to be (directly) a replacement for either the Daz3D forums or the Carrara user guide, though the guide is sorely out of date. Instead, the guides and forum threads should be referenced appropriately within the wiki pages.

Here are some ways I see the wiki site being different.
1) Unlike the user guides, the wiki would be organized by how people think and work with the application. That is, I like to imagine the wiki as more of a “how-to” guide, rather than a document that provides a list of Carrara features and windows with technical descriptions.
2) No one person would guide or direct the wiki. There would be no leaders, committees, or control groups deciding what is in or out, or how information is to be presented. Everyone participates in an egalitarian and equal style!
3) The wiki would be organic. It would grow and flow constantly and dynamically, morphing and changing to fit the needs of the user community.
4) People would be able to edit and add new pages as needed, or to the same pages, same paragraphs, and even the same sentences. For example, you might be reading information someone wrote, and have a thought about how an idea could be expanded. You can edit it directly and insert your thoughts on the spot!
5) The wiki would contain a web of interconnecting internal links, as opposed to just a hierarchical or sequential structure of information. Any wiki page can link to any other. This allows users to surf through the pages of information via links; that is, the interconnecting links become MORE important than the hierarchical structure of the site. This also reduces duplication of information.
6) The wiki would also contain a lot of external links and references. The wiki would not duplicate what has already been created and captured (in text or video) elsewhere, just reference it. The wiki then would become a way to capture and organize quality information that is already on the internet.
7) The wiki could be used to conduct community surveys on a variety of topics. It could even potentially become a communal voice to help Daz3D prioritize upcoming features and fixes.
8) The knowledge shared would be communal. Authors would contribute not for personal gain or recognition, but because they want to see the Carrara community thrive and grow. Everyone wins when we all produce better results!

For the first year owning Carrara, I waited for Daz3D to publish a revised User’s Guide. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it isn’t going to happen in the near future. Besides, I would rather their expend their limited resources on enhancing the product as opposed to writing guides.

Further, I would not expect Daz3D to be responsible for collecting all of the personal experiences of its users and creating a comprehensive guide. This has to be the responsibility of the user community. We should steward our own community knowledge!

A Call To Action:
So, last week, I did some research on free wiki hosting sites, and took the initiative to start up a Carrara wiki on Wikia.com. Over the past week, I have been testing the host’s capabilities - services and features. Now with 10 wiki pages started, I believe the site would be adequate to meet the Carrara community needs. It is a very small start, but I am confident it is quite possible to create a great wiki.

Here is the link to the wiki. Go to the wiki site, check it out, and then post your thoughts on this thread.  http://carrara.wikia.com/wiki/Carrara_Wiki

I invite EVERYONE to get involved. It is human nature to value what we contribute to. Once you begin adding to the site, you will want it to succeed, and you’ll begin to encourage others to contribute.

A Call For Discussion:
What I believe is needed to discuss at this point (ordered by my personal priority).
1) Carrara Wiki – Should there even be a wiki site for Carrara? Is there enough interest that one should be created?
2) Hosting Site –Is Wikia the right location to create a wiki? In the week I have used it, I found it simple and easy to use, and it seems to offer a number of features. But if anyone has experience working with another Wiki hosting site, now is the time to discuss and decide!
3) Structure – How should the information be presented. I started a basic structure, but others need to offer their thoughts and suggestions. For example, it makes sense to present information based on the readers’ current experience level with Carrara – such as: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. My frustration working with the User’s Guides, as an intermediate experienced user, is that it is hard to sift through all of the beginner and advanced level material to get an answer to a basic question.
4) Content – It seems to make sense to start with identifying and linking (as external links) some good, already-existing tutorials and step-by-step descriptions, lessons learned, and other tips. And then using the wiki pages to fill in the gaps.
5) Format – Should there be a standard look and feel? If so, how should that look? It is easier to establish a format early rather than late (which would require a lot of rework). I have my own thoughts, but am interested in hearing others’ thoughts.

Are there other points that need to be addressed?

Thanks for reading this thread. Please add your thoughts. 

Tip: If you do decide to add to the wiki, I suggest you create a Wikia account before editing. I don’t think that is essential, but it is easy to do, and it makes it easier to see who is adding materials to the pages.

I will continue to add to and expand the wiki over the coming weeks and months, as I have time.

Measures of success:
Finally, here are some ways we could measure the success of the wiki. The first two are easy to measure.
1) Continuous increase in the number of hits per month
2) Continuously growing number of pages
3) People begin referring to the wiki on the forums
4) People get others to contribute their knowledge to the wiki

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Posted: 17 April 2013 07:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I personally hate the Wiki format. It’s extremely limiting and forces all information to fit into a “narrative” paragraph order. In 3D where processes are interrelated, where systems effect aspect of other systems, and there are about 10,000 ways to skin a cat, Wikis are sorely lacking.

I have proposed that we convert the “old” Carrara Cafe forums into a Topic Based Infopedia… Currently anyone can log into Cafe to add a tutorial or quick discussion in forum format. I have attempted to organize the old forums into aspects of using Carrara (and there are MANY aspects, so I’m sure there’s more work to do). Currently some tutorials are up under each category but it’s by no means complete. And I need to add a section for Import/Export…. But this solution exists NOW, does not need any debate or consensus, and is a system that everyone is already familiar with. Extra benefit is there needs to be no competition over information, just post a new thread or add to an existing one.

We have tools and information NOW, but I agree it would be much better with more community input. At this point I do not agree that we need ANOTHER Carrara destination. There is a TON of info out there on individual websites and youtube, getting it all collated and available by topic is the thing that needs to happen.

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Posted: 17 April 2013 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’d be open to seeing either (both!) formats in use. The hard part is getting the momentum going.

Dartanbeck’s big catalogue of info goes a long way to organizing stuff (insofar as his mind can be organized! smile ).

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Posted: 17 April 2013 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I totally agree with Holly.

Creating another source of info isn’t what’s needed.

Collating all the information into a single source for the information which is abandoned in the old Daz forums, and also linking the new info from the new Daz forums and Cafe forum , with links to video tuts, or examples,. appropriate to that section of information. would be a much better idea.

but that’s a lot of time and work..

We still have the ability to Ask any questions here,. or at the Carrara cafe,
if you can’t find any tut’s or written info.
most of the time, you’ll get a pretty fast reply.

I also disagree with the lack of info in the C7 manual,.. it covers the way carrara works, and at least 80% of the features.
it’s still the best single source for learning Carrara.

I agree that it needs to be updated,. but the community was offered the chance to participate in doing that,. and with a total of three volunteers,. it quickly fell apart. (time, work , real-life etc)

for Bullet physics,. (still in development)  it’s tricky to write a manual or post tutorials for something which WILL change as the engine is integrated and adjusted.

For genesis,. (only in the 8.5 beta) which hasn’t been released,. it’s perhaps a bit early for any documentation to be released,.
but there are people here who are working with Carrara every day, who can help.

smile

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Posted: 17 April 2013 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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holly wetcircuit - 17 April 2013 07:30 AM

I personally hate the Wiki format. It’s extremely limiting and forces all information to fit into a “narrative” paragraph order. In 3D where processes are interrelated, where systems effect aspect of other systems, and there are about 10,000 ways to skin a cat, Wikis are sorely lacking.

I have proposed that we convert the “old” Carrara Cafe forums into a Topic Based Infopedia… Currently anyone can log into Cafe to add a tutorial or quick discussion in forum format. I have attempted to organize the old forums into aspects of using Carrara (and there are MANY aspects, so I’m sure there’s more work to do). Currently some tutorials are up under each category but it’s by no means complete. And I need to add a section for Import/Export…. But this solution exists NOW, does not need any debate or consensus, and is a system that everyone is already familiar with. Extra benefit is there needs to be no competition over information, just post a new thread or add to an existing one.

We have tools and information NOW, but I agree it would be much better with more community input. At this point I do not agree that we need ANOTHER Carrara destination. There is a TON of info out there on individual websites and youtube, getting it all collated and available by topic is the thing that needs to happen.

Holly, thanks for your thoughts. BTW, I have watched/read several of your tutorials and posts, and want to thank you for your contributions.

I am wondering, however, how you would suggest “getting it all collated and available by topic is the thing that needs to happen” if it is not through a wiki site. Maybe we are using different words to mean same thing? I was trying to say that the wiki could form the basis for a “Topic Based Infopedia” (using your words), by reference and links as much (or maybe more) than by content.

As far as I know, all forms of internet integration tools (not just wikis) have the same limitations. yet I consider other options (forum formats) to have even more severe restrictions. For example, only an author can edit his/her own forum post. While anyone can add response posts, since posts in the same thread are presented sequentially, a valuable response (or additional note) might be 10-20 pages after the initial one. So it can be a challenge to trace these nuggets. In fact, I have found many “threads” on the DAZ forums to have multiple threads of conversations. This is not bad; it’s streams of consciousness. It just is of little value when attempting to do archeological “data mining.”

And with V8.5 (hopefully?) being finalized soon, and with V9 on the horizon (?), this information can become dated. And I don’t know any forum posters that goes back and revises their posts based on learning new techniques or using new features. Yes, some stuff on the old Carrara Cafe forum are wonderfully useful. I have found some of them, even posts you have made. But there are no filters or easy ways through all the shaff short of reading them to find the golden nuggets.

If you visited the meager work I have put into the wiki so far, you may have noticed it is quite easy to provide cross-links and references. You can literally “surf” a wiki if it is properly structured. Maybe it is that I am still new to Carrara, but I have worked with very complex software apps before. Conceptually, I think it is possible to create a wiki that supports the “10,000 ways to skin a cat.” Maybe I just need to prove to myself it either can or cannot be done. My experience is that tools don’t force people into a narrative sequence; people’s thinking does.

Maybe you can post more about your thoughts/ideas about what a “Topic Based Infopedia” might look/feel like? I would like to know more on what you have proposed in the past and what response(s) you got on the topic. Maybe I am just retreading the same tire. wink

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Posted: 17 April 2013 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I like the way 3Dcoat has their software training.  The majority of it is free and of course there are paid tutorials, but the large portion are free.

What 3DCoat has done is they have an official channel for training on youtube and Vimeo.

My favorite is Vimeo because it allows for higher quality videos.  This would of course that someone be in charge of this training who could officially represent DAZ and Carrara and more importantly is a good trainer. smile

Take a look at 3DCoat Vimeo and see if you think that would work for training in Carrara.

http://vimeo.com/channels/3dcoat

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Posted: 17 April 2013 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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3DAGE - 17 April 2013 08:11 AM

Collating all the information into a single source for the information which is abandoned in the old Daz forums, and also linking the new info from the new Daz forums and Cafe forum , with links to video tuts, or examples,. appropriate to that section of information. would be a much better idea.

but that’s a lot of time and work..

We still have the ability to Ask any questions here,. or at the Carrara cafe,
if you can’t find any tut’s or written info.
most of the time, you’ll get a pretty fast reply.

I also disagree with the lack of info in the C7 manual,.. it covers the way carrara works, and at least 80% of the features.
it’s still the best single source for learning Carrara.

I agree that it needs to be updated,. but the community was offered the chance to participate in doing that,. and with a total of three volunteers,. it quickly fell apart. (time, work , real-life etc)

for Bullet physics,. (still in development)  it’s tricky to write a manual or post tutorials for something which WILL change as the engine is integrated and adjusted.

For genesis,. (only in the 8.5 beta) which hasn’t been released,. it’s perhaps a bit early for any documentation to be released,.
but there are people here who are working with Carrara every day, who can help.

smile

Thanks, 3DAGE. Maybe I did not communicate my first post very well or suscinctly, because I fully agree what is needed is “Collating all the information into a single source.” I agree it would be a lot of work, but distributing a lot of work across 30 interested part-time users would reduce the workload. I for one am ready for action!

One difference between producing a user guide and producing a wiki site is “schedule.” User guides are products. Work goes into them to produce a “final” thing. If one is to be produced, they must be driven by a delivery date, costs and workload restrictions, predefined (and shifting) requirements, and defined content all created in advance. Once it is final, it is not changed.

A wiki doesn’t work on any of these things. It is egalitarian, driven by the winds of time and user focus/interests, and with no set finality. Much like the learning that is going on now in dynamic cloth (draping), bullet physics, and the use of Studio Genesis and other sources, the site should reflect the current collective knowledge (by reference and content). When one shifts from seeing the world as being some future end-state to always being a WIP, then it is never too early to produce documentation.

There is one other aspect of this. Group (creative) learning occurs exponentially through individuals sharing their own creativity. Each idea tried (especially those failed) sparks other ideas. Regarding Genesis, e.g., if everyone was sharing every inch of progress made and every failed attempt to do something (as it was occurring), progress towards a more complete end-state would occur much faster.

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Posted: 17 April 2013 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Garstor - 17 April 2013 07:53 AM

I’d be open to seeing either (both!) formats in use. The hard part is getting the momentum going.

Dartanbeck’s big catalogue of info goes a long way to organizing stuff (insofar as his mind can be organized! smile ).

Thanks Dartanbeck. Agreed.

BTW, I have found Dartanbeck’s info thread incredibly useful (and suggest everyone have a read). I cannot speak though about the mind that ushers those words forth. wink

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Posted: 17 April 2013 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Oops! Almost forgot that 3DCoat has a Wiki Manual here.  It’s a fine example of what can be done in the way of training.

http://3d-coat.com/wiki/index.php/Doc:Manual

Here’s a link to a sample page on textures.

http://3d-coat.com/wiki/index.php/9.7_Textures

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Posted: 17 April 2013 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Design Acrobat - 17 April 2013 08:26 AM

I like the way 3Dcoat has their software training.  The majority of it is free and of course there are paid tutorials, but the large portion are free.

What 3DCoat has done is they have an official channel for training on youtube and Vimeo.

My favorite is Vimeo because it allows for higher quality videos.  This would of course that someone be in charge of this training who could officially represent DAZ and Carrara and more importantly is a good trainer. smile

Take a look at 3DCoat Vimeo and see if you think that would work for training in Carrara.

http://vimeo.com/channels/3dcoat

Thanks for the thoughts, DA. I had a quick look, and in fact, have watched a few of their videos. And agree, they produce quality work!

My (personal) concern is that this is controlled by a company, not the user community. I could see training materials like this (both for free and purchase) being referenced from the site, but that it would not directly constitute the site. I still believe the community would be better served with a more egalitarian style of site than one directed and controlled by someone appointed to be in charge. For example, who would “officially represent” the community? How do you define a “good trainer”?

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Posted: 17 April 2013 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Design Acrobat - 17 April 2013 08:56 AM

Oops! Almost forgot that 3DCoat has a Wiki Manual here.  It’s a fine example of what can be done in the way of training.

http://3d-coat.com/wiki/index.php/Doc:Manual

Here’s a link to a sample page on textures.

http://3d-coat.com/wiki/index.php/9.7_Textures

Thanks! BTW, I noticed their wiki is powered by MediaWiki, which was the other service provider I looked into. wink

And I like the layout and format they were able to create for the wiki. Maybe I selected the wrong one. =/

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Posted: 17 April 2013 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Hello FractalDemensia

I like your idea, but I agree with Holly and the 3DAge.
We already have plenty of sources of information, but we need a way to bring it all together.

It’s hard to do that as a community because we all have lives and the volunteer thing is time consuming and subject to the winds of fate.

I do wish the company would break down and hire someone to write a proper book (even if it is only in pdf format) that would be “Secrets of Carrara.”

I thought if I could get enough time, I would sit down and write one, but the giant client I had on the hook fell through, so that was no longer possible for me. I was going to sit down and go through every tutorial, the manual, and various video tutorials and learn the software from the ground up.

Let’s keep thinking aloud. It’s good for us.

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Posted: 17 April 2013 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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FractalDimensia - 17 April 2013 09:07 AM
Design Acrobat - 17 April 2013 08:26 AM

I like the way 3Dcoat has their software training.  The majority of it is free and of course there are paid tutorials, but the large portion are free.

What 3DCoat has done is they have an official channel for training on youtube and Vimeo.

My favorite is Vimeo because it allows for higher quality videos.  This would of course that someone be in charge of this training who could officially represent DAZ and Carrara and more importantly is a good trainer. smile

Take a look at 3DCoat Vimeo and see if you think that would work for training in Carrara.

http://vimeo.com/channels/3dcoat

Thanks for the suggestion, DA. I had a quick look, and in fact, have watched a few of their videos. And agree, they produce quality work!

My (personal) concern is that this is controlled by a company, not the user community. I could see all of these training materials (both for free and purchase) to be referenced from the site, but that it would not constitute the site. I still believe the community would be better served with a more egalitarian style of site than one directed and controlled by someone appointed to be in charge. For example, who would “officially represent” the community? How do you define a “good trainer”?

It’s kinda like “The only person who can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” wink The definition of “good” is a personal, subjective thing. Shouldn’t we all be empowered to decide what is good for ourselves? I am fairly sure I don’t want someone else making that decision for me. smile

The people who does the videos for 3DCoat is a moderator on the forums and I suppose a spokesperson for 3DCoat.  On occasion, he will invite another trainer to do more in depth training videos.

The key here is consistency in training, its location and presentation so that the user knows where to look for training and assistance.

I understand the concept of Carrara Café, but to me the format they have is puzzling to me and finding training on a “slow” server is not optimum for broad usage.

Keys for me to show training is:

1.  Consistency in format and branding associated (Make what Carrara - Carrara Like - not Daz Dolls Part 20)
2.  Has a key person or persons designated and responsible for software training
3.  Has inclusion of guest trainers and/or commercial training under one roof
4.  Has a viable, easy access suggestion section for viewers of the software
5.  Has frequent or at least updated training that includes the current implementation of the software
6.  Easy access, click and pick video, instruction manual topics or discussion links.
7.  Others that I cannot think of right now, but I’m sure others can narrow the list. smile

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Posted: 17 April 2013 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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tsarist - 17 April 2013 09:16 AM

Hello FractalDemensia

I like your idea, but I agree with Holly and the 3DAge.
We already have plenty of sources of information, but we need a way to bring it all together.

It’s hard to do that as a community because we all have lives and the volunteer thing is time consuming and subject to the winds of fate.

I do wish the company would break down and hire someone to write a proper book (even if it is only in pdf format) that would be “Secrets of Carrara.”

I thought if I could get enough time, I would sit down and write one, but the giant client I had on the hook fell through, so that was no longer possible for me. I was going to sit down and go through every tutorial, the manual, and various video tutorials and learn the software from the ground up.

Let’s keep thinking aloud. It’s good for us.

Tsarist, I think I need to edit my initial posting. It clearly didn’t hit the target! I agree with “We already have plenty of sources of information, but we need a way to bring it all together.” This is what I was suggesting, only more specifically to describe the mechanism to integrating these sources.

I’ve posted other thoughts in response to others here, so won’t repeat them. Only that I am fully open to consider an effective way to make this happen. Thinking is important before you jump into the pool (“Do I REALLY want to jump into THIS pool???”), but sooner or later you have to jump in if you want to learn to swim. wink

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Posted: 17 April 2013 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Design Acrobat - 17 April 2013 09:23 AM

The people who does the videos for 3DCoat is a moderator on the forums and I suppose a spokesperson for 3DCoat.  On occasion, he will invite another trainer to do more in depth training videos.

The key here is consistency in training, its location and presentation so that the user knows where to look for training and assistance.

I understand the concept of Carrara Café, but to me the format they have is puzzling to me and finding training on a “slow” server is not optimum for broad usage.

Keys for me to show training is:

1.  Consistency in format and branding associated (Make what Carrara - Carrara Like - not Daz Dolls Part 20)
2.  Has a key person or persons designated and responsible for software training
3.  Has inclusion of guest trainers and/or commercial training under one roof
4.  Has a viable, easy access suggestion section for viewers of the software
5.  Has frequent or at least updated training that includes the current implementation of the software
6.  Easy access, click and pick video, instruction manual topics or discussion links.
7.  Others that I cannot think of right now, but I’m sure others can narrow the list. smile

DA, I understand exactly where you are coming from. I wonder though, short of DAZ taking this tiger by the tail and owning it, who will be annointed (or will usurp?) the authority to make decisions such as those required to achieve these objectives? For example, if someone offers training on a topic but it is not in the right format (#1), would it not be included? Who decides this? It’s not that I don’t agree with the value; it is that I can’t envision how the Carrara user community as a whole can make this happen. Maybe you can expand on this point?

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Posted: 17 April 2013 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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FractalDimensia - 17 April 2013 09:46 AM

Tsarist, I think I need to edit my initial posting. It clearly didn’t hit the target! I agree with “We already have plenty of sources of information, but we need a way to bring it all together.” This is what I was suggesting, only more specifically to describe the mechanism to integrating these sources.

I’ve posted other thoughts in response to others here, so won’t repeat them. Only that I am fully open to consider an effective way to make this happen. Thinking is important before you jump into the pool (“Do I REALLY want to jump into THIS pool???”), but sooner or later you have to jump in if you want to learn to swim. wink

Sorry, if I misunderstood you. I actually started writing my response after reading 3Dage’s response.
I got busy and literally just got back to writing you.

 

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There is a serious tendency toward capitalism among the well-to-do peasants.
Mao Tse-Tung

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