My virtual water cooler — Chieftalk, the Chief Architect user forum

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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In praise of Chieftalk

When you run a solo shop and spend most of your day working alone in a home office, the work may be stimulating but the workday can get a bit lonely.  Although my husband will talk my ear off about pickleball and baseball, he has absolutely no interest in discussing the uses and relative merits of slabs vs. soffits vs. polylines.  In fact, I’d be stunned if I found out that he even knew what those terms meant (in relation to 3D modeling, anyhow)!

But luckily, when I was just starting out in this business some years ago, I found a wonderful resource provided by the Chief Architect company for users of its software:  the ChiefTalk users forum.  There is also a similar resource for users of CA’s consumer-level “Home Designer” products, called HomeTalk.  I actually started out on HomeTalk when I was still using Home Designer Pro, and “graduated” to ChiefTalk a few months later when I upgraded to the professional level software.

I’ve visited a lot of user forums over the years, and I’ve never found any that are both useful and friendly to the degree that ChiefTalk and HomeTalk are.  I learned quickly that some core users are apparently ALWAYS online, willing to answer questions about how to use the software or to help solve problems (which are almost always attributable to user error, of course). These folks rarely get impatient, no matter how many times a question may have been asked before.  Although they might respond with “Have you tried searching the archives?” or “What version of the software are you using?” or “We can help you better if you attach an image or plan,” once a new user understands the forum etiquette and protocol, they are always generous with their time and expertise.

what the heck happened? image - my first question on the Chieftalk forum

Image from one of my first “What the heck happened here?” posts on Chieftalk

As my skill level grew, I stopped asking so many questions and found I was able to start giving back by providing occasional answers and advice in my area of expertise, rendering and raytracing.  By then, the ChiefTalk regulars felt like friends — people I looked forward to interacting with on a regular basis.  We joke around and get silly sometimes, occasionally have heated arguments and discussions, but ultimately get along just fine most of the time.  There is actually a separate sub-forum called “Chatroom” on ChiefTalk (and another one called “Way Off Topic,” accessible via secret password only) for discussions outside the typical software Q&A realm.  We’ve shared important life events like weddings and new babies with each other through pictures.  Some of us have ventured off in different directions, learning together and sharing our successes and failures in constructive ways.

So Lew, Allen, David, Louis, Kay, Bryce, Wendy, Pat, Jintu, Jonathan, Chris, Scott, Pam, and all the rest — even though I’ve never actually met any of you IRL, after all these years you definitely feel like my friends and colleagues.  I’m indebted to each one of you for generously sharing not only your knowledge and expertise, but other important parts of who you are.

I encourage everyone to check out ChiefTalk, if you’re a Chief Architect user — or whatever user forum seems most appropriate for your interests — and work hard to create your own group of  “virtual water cooler” buddies.


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9 responses to “My virtual water cooler — Chieftalk, the Chief Architect user forum

  1. Awwwww… you are welcome Dr. K, and thank you!

    My experience is very similar to yours. Times I was going under, the forum folks jumped in and swam me to shore. I have always been amazed at their willingness to help. I will always be grateful.

  2. Hi Dr. K, Thank you.
    It’s an honor to be counted among the elite.
    Reading ideas and techniques from well-meaning friends over at ChiefTalk is priceless.

  3. Hi Kathy! I owe my career path largely to the folks you mention on Chieftalk too. What ever do you mean, all user forums are not like Chieftalk? Just kidding… I know they are as unique and wonderful as you say. They are always my first line of help when I have a technical problem and are super generous with symbols, how-to’s, ideas and encouragement.

    I also started out with the ‘home version’ of Chief. Back then it was 3-D Home Architect and was produced by Broderbund. I don’t recall there was any sort of a forum, but when I purchased my first Chief seat, I quickly discovered it. The chat room on Chieftalk was my entry into the world of social networking… I didn’t know it then. But I discovered it was just that when I ventured into those we are now all familiar with –like Twitter and Facebook. Who knew?…I’d been doing it for years!

    For sure, I am so glad to have met you too!

  4. Kathleen,

    You’re welcome. Thank you too.

    Now…I’ll be expecting a check in the mail for reference to my name 😉

  5. Do you have a Facebook fan page for your site?

  6. Life Should Be 3D

    CastleView 3D has a Facebook page — join us at http://www.facebook.com/CastleView3D!

  7. I truly appreciate this blog. Much obliged.

  8. What a great story, very inspiring! This is the story that newbie in 3D should read to inspire of what they’re doing.

    BTW, great resources Kathleen.

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