selection in keyin lists

I referred to this briefly in last week’s blog about mouse selection, but on further reflection I think it’s important enough to give it its own article: the KeyIn dialog boxes let you interact with the drawing too.

Graphical Selection 

Take KeyIn Boundary Conditions for example.

KeyIn Boundary Conditions with too many similar items

Here I want to edit the pressure on the left side of my dam, but I have six boundary conditions, all of them are red, and I didn’t do a good job of naming them.  I can tell by the symbol it isn’t one of the standard Fixed BCs but how can I remember which of the other three it is?

Easy.  Instead of selecting an item in the list, click on the edge of the dam itself.  As your mouse approaches it the cursor changes to the “Line Selection” cursor, indicating that there’s something you can click on.  When you click, it figures out you’ve clicked on the “Reservoir pessure” boundary condition and selects it in the list.

Multiple Selection

Most lists in GeoStudio (such as the list of BCs above) also support multiple selection, allowing you to change properties on more than one item at a time.

In my example above I have two “Reservoir pressure” BCs because I’m running some experiments.  They’re both Fluid Pressure with the same elevation but different gamma values.  I can select both, change the elevation one time, and both will have the new elevation while retaining all their other properties (gamma, name and colour).

When more than one item is selected, you’ll notice those fields where each item has different values will be blank; where every item has the same value the value will be displayed.

Multiple selection in a list

Multi-selection in lists follows the standard Windows approach:  ctrl-clicking (holding down the Ctrl key while you click) items in a list will add to the selection; ctrl-click a selected item to unselect it; shift-click to select a range of items (everything between your previous click and this one); double-click any item (or press Ctrl-A) to select everything.

And of course you can use the single selection, line selection and rectangular selection techniques we saw last week to graphically select straight from the drawing.

mouse selection

Continuing with last week’s theme of efficient use of your mouse, this week I’ll show the three ways to select things with the mouse.

There are three ways to select objects on your drawing:  single selection, line selection and rectangular selection.

Single Selection

This is the obvious one that everyone knows:  click on an object to select it. 

Note, though, that in some modes you also have to pick what type of object you’re going to select.  In Draw Materials, for example, you first pick from the dialog box whether you want to assign the material to regions or to lines.

Draw Materials

Line Selection

Line selection is probably the least obvious one, but it can be very helpful.  Hold down the Shift key and click once.  Continue holding the Shift key and you’ll see a dashed line following your mouse around.  Click a second time to complete the selection.  Everything on the line between the two clicks will be selected.

Line selection (also referred to as “shift-selection”) is especially useful for selecting points or lines along an angled surface.  For example, drawing boundary conditions on a slope.  (This was even more useful in v6 and older versions where you were applying BCs to the nodes, without the luxury of being able to simply click on a the line.)

Using line selection to apply a boundary condition

Rectangular Selection

Rectangular selection is another common one most of you will be familiar with.  Drag a rectangle (click the left mouse button and move the mouse without releasing the button) around the objects you want to select.  Any object that is completely contained by the rectangle will be selected.

It’s mostly because of rectangular selection that some modes (like Draw Materials) force you to choose what you want to select.  Since materials can be applied to regions or to lines, if you dragged a rectangle around a couple of regions we need to know whether your intent is to apply the material to those couple of regions or to all the lines.

All of the Draw modes support these three basic selection types, as does Modify Objects.  Even some of the KeyIn dialogs support graphical selection–try KeyIn Materials, for example, and click on a region in your drawing.  Draw Graph supports even more advanced selection, but that will be a topic for some other time.

Do you have any tricks you’ve learned that help you make the most of GeoStudio?  Leave a comment so we can all benefit!

using your mouse wheel

Knowing how to use your mouse wheel can make you more efficient in a graphically-oriented application like GeoStudio.  The more you can do with your mouse, the less time is spent moving your hand from your mouse to your keyboard.

Zooming 

In GeoStudio, like AutoCAD, the mouse wheel can be used for zooming.  Spin the wheel up to zoom in, or down to zoom out. 

Furthermore, whatever point your mouse is over will remain in that spot, while the rest of the drawing zooms in or out around it.  That makes it very easy to zoom in to a point of interest, then zoom out and back in to another point without having to touch the scrollbars or toolbars.

Panning

Your mouse wheel can also function as a third button.  It’s often referred to as the “middle mouse button”.  Press it over a GeoStudio window and your cursor will change to a “hand”.  Keep it pressed while dragging the mouse and your drawing will move.  It’s the same as using the scrollbars except you can move horizontally and vertically at the same time.  (And arguably more intuitive!)

Right-Clicking

Long before context menus became standard, we used the right mouse button to exit the current drawing mode.  That’s still the case in the main window–right clicking will nearly always exit the current mode or close the current dialog box. 

Within other windows, however, like Draw Graph or KeyIn Materials, right-clicking will display a context menu of useful commands.

Some people prefer the keyboard, so we make sure that the mouse is never required to get a job done (except for actually drawing something on the screen–it’s tough to get around that one!), but if you’re a mouser, these tips will put you on the road to efficient modeling.

hardware recommendations

One of our users asked me recently for advice on picking the best hardware configuration to run GeoStudio.  His office was buying new computers for their engineers and since they used GeoStudio heavily they wanted the best possible configuration within their budget.

The System Requirements on our web site are obviously pretty basic.  And they don’t tell you where you should spend that extra budget to really get the most bang for your buck.  Here are my suggestions.

Processor

GeoStudio 2007 is multi-threaded, meaning it will take full advantage of multiple CPUs or cores.  Don’t worry too much about processor speed: get at least a dual-core CPU and your solves will be nearly twice as fast.  The improvement will be more obvious the larger your typical mesh sizes.  Here’s a graph to give you a rough idea of the speed improvements additional processors will give you.

speed gain by number of processors

GeoStudio 2004, on the other hand (version 6), is not multithreaded, so additional CPUs will not typically help unless you’re running two analyses at the same time.

Additionally, GeoStudio is optimized for 32-bit CPUs.  You may as well get 64-bit CPUs and a 64-bit OS because that’s the way the industry is headed, but that won’t translate into better performance with GeoStudio today.

Memory

After investing in a dual-core CPU, the next biggest bang for your buck will be memory.  With the price of memory these days you shouldn’t use less than 2 GB.  Go with 4 GB if you can.  Large meshes use lots of memory, and if you don’t have enough RAM then your operating system will be swapping data back and forth between disk and RAM, which will really slow things down.

Graphics

Any self-respecting graphics card with basic 2D acceleration will be able to handle GeoStudio’s graphics just fine.  Until we get into 3D, you don’t need to worry about your graphics card.  (Note that Seep3D is a whole other question–it definitely needs a good OpenGL-accelerated card.  But that’s beyond the scope of this blog.)

Disk

CPU and RAM are obvious.  But these days process and memory are getting so fast that they are less likely to be the bottleneck any more.  The next place to spend money is on a fast hard drive.

If you’ve used version 4 or earlier of our products, you’ll remember the hundreds of files a typical solve would spit out.  It’s only gotten worse!  With version 5 we introduced the .*z files (.slz for slope, .sez for seep, etc), which just hid the mess of files in one zip file.  Version 6 changed that to a .gsz, which combined all the files for several different analyses into one zip file.  And version 7 is worse yet since you can have as many analyses as you want all in the same .gsz file.  While the solver is running it is reading and writing and zipping and unzipping at each iteration and time step.  Contour isn’t quite as bad as Solve since it’s not writing results, but it still has to read a lot of data.

Scott Guthrie recommends programmers buy faster hard drives, but his advice is appropriate for GeoStudio users too.

Laptops:  Most laptops come by default with a 5400rpm drive, which is pretty slow.  Consider spending another $55-$100 to upgrade to 7200rpm instead.

Desktops:  Desktops normally ship with 7200rpm drives.  I recommend getting 10,000rpm or higher instead.  It could also be beneficial to go with a RAID 0 striped configuration, which splits data across multiple drives, lowering the seek time.

Conclusion

CPU and RAM are still the most important ingredients in a fast computer, but it’s the number of CPUs that counts, not the speed.  And if you still have money left over in your budget, get yourself the fastest hard drive you can afford.  You won’t regret it.