August 2008

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Many of the useful tools and utilities you’ll find on this site are released as what I like to call CollegeFundware, which is basically shareware with a bit of a twist.

You may use the software for a reasonable period of time for evaluation purposes. But if you like the software or if you want to keep using it after you have evaluated it, you are required to license the software by donating some amount to a college fund. Feel free to donate as much as you like, and please keep in mind that no one is “getting rich” off your donations.  Choose an application…  Text Import Wizard  Parameter Wizard  Point Import Wizard  Spline Wizard  Primitive Wizard (Saw Mill)  Dovetail Jig 

Select an application, then click Donate Now.
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Donations are handled by PayPal and are secure. You don’t need to be a PayPal member to donate.

The cost of college increases at a rate about twice that of inflation, so when these little kids end up going to college, it’ll probably cost at least US$300,000 EACH for a decent public school, and about US$500,000 for a private university. I averaged these numbers to estimate US$400,000. So if I can get 200 people a month to donate US$10 each (or 100 at US$20 each, etc) then maybe I’ll be able to afford to send them to the schools they want to attend. Big goal? Yes, I know. (Of course if you happen to be wealthy and benevolent, you’re welcome to donate the full US$400,000. =)

Copyright Notices 

The software on this site is owned by Alex Franke. All rights in the product including copyrights, licensing rights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, design rights, engineering rights, moral rights, and any other intellectual property rights belong to Alex Franke — even movie and book rights =). These rights are not transferred to you or anyone else when a donation is made or a product is licensed or registered. No part of the product may be reproduced, published, transcribed, disassembled or reverse engineered, transmitted electronically, mechanically or otherwise, stored or translated into any language in any form, by any means, for any purpose other than your (the licensee) personal use, without the express written permission of me, Alex Franke.

Affiliations (or rather the lack there of)

I am not affiliated with Alibre, Inc. I don’t work there nor and I paid by them in any way. I am however totally sold on their design products, which I believe are about the coolest things since sliced bread (not that I remember the advent of sliced bread), and I’d encourage everyone and their mothers to look into their product offerings if they’re even slightly interested in 3D modeling.

I am not affiliated with Microsoft, Inc. I don’t work there nor and I paid by them in any way. I sure wish Bill or Steve would donate to these college funds, though. =) Yes, Microsoft is big and has created a lot of billionaires, but I think it’s a darn good company, especially since they’ve started offering free development tools.

Limitations of Liability

The software is provided as-is, and under no circumstances (including negligence) shall I (or anyone I know or love) be liable for any damages, either direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, etc. There are no warranties or any kind, express or implied, including implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. You assume the entire cost of all necessary maintenance, repair or correction or any problems or defects that might be discovered in the software, while using the software, or as a result of installing or attempting to use the software.

Another Way to Register

Don’t believe that this is actually going toward the kids’ education? In you want to register in a more direct way and can afford to wait a bit longer for the registration information (so it can be entered manually), then you can choose one or more gifts from the kids’ Amazon wish lists. Be sure to include your name, email address, and the product you want to register in the gift note when you place your order.

Amazon’s affiliate program can be big business, and many web sites rely solely on Amazon affiliate program referral frees for their income. It’s a good business model for because it helps drive traffic and sales to their site, and it’s a good deal for the affiliates because they get a small piece of the pie by creating links to products that are encoded with their affiliate IDs. 

But because affiliate information can be encoded into product links, there are also a lot of people out there who try to “hijack” affiliate revenue on web sites by posting links to products that use their own affiliate tags or IDs. 

This article will describe a couple of different methods for creating product links with encoded affiliate IDs, and will introduce a tool that site owners or content publishers can use to help thwart affiliate revenue hijackers by making it very easy for users to create appropriately tagged product links.

About Amazon’s Affiliate Program

First a little background. When you click on a link encoded with someone’s affiliate tag ID, then anything you add to your cart over the next 24 hours or so, and then later purchase, will be credited to that affiliate. An affiliate usually earns about 4-7% of the total purchase price. Usually 4% on electronics, but usually about 6%+ on tools, books and other stuff. It doesn’t change the price for you, or cost you anything, and the affiliate knows nothing about you personally — just that a particular product was credited to him. If you use a link that’s encoded with a different affiliate ID within the 24 hours, then that affiliate will start getting credit.

Using an Product Link Generator

Probably the easiest way to create affiliate tag-encoded links to specific products is to use an product link generator, such at the one below or even the one on Amazon’s affiliate network (although that one doesn’t do as much). 

The benefit of this link generator is that you simply supply an affiliate tag and an ASIN (product code) and click Create. And what you get back is the complete code for a link that includes lots of pertinent information (like price, savings, an image, and rating) and that, when clicked, will give referral credit to the affiliate whose tag you specified — as a direct link, as HTML suitable for adding to a web page, or as BBCode suitable for adding to a forum post. 

Prepopulating Your Affiliate Tag for Referral Credit

If you’re a content publisher or web site owner and an affiliate, you can provide a link to this affiliate link generator to your users that will prepopulate your affiliate tag. For example, if your affiliate tag is “ccdc-20”, then simply append “?afid=ccdc-2” to the end of the URL ( and your affiliate ID will be pre-populated on the form for your users. This will make it a lot easier for your users to create detailed product links that give you referral credit.  

Generating Product Links With AWS

There are also a couple of ways to create product links in code and on the fly. The first and most reliable method is to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) to generate the product link for you. To do this, you must register not only for the affiliate program, but also as a user for AWS. When you do this, you will be issues an Access Key that must accompany each AWS request.

wsAmazon.AWSECommerceService c
     = new wsAmazon.AWSECommerceService();
wsAmazon.ItemLookupRequest req
     = new wsAmazon.ItemLookupRequest();

// The ASIN to look up
req.ItemId = new string[] { "B012345678" };

// The data to fetch
req.ResponseGroup = new string[]
     { "Offers", "Images", "ItemAttributes", "Reviews" };

wsAmazon.ItemLookup lu = new wsAmazon.ItemLookup();
lu.AssociateTag = "My Associate Tag";
lu.AWSAccessKeyId = "My Access Key";
lu.Request = new wsAmazon.ItemLookupRequest[1] { req };

wsAmazon.ItemLookupResponse resp = c.ItemLookup(lu);

wsAmazon.Items[] items = resp.Items;
wsAmazon.Item MyItem = items[0].Item[0];

Creating Product Links On the Fly

If you don’t want to have to deal with setting up an AWS account and programming your way through the AWS specification, there is another still effective (but less reliable) way to create the product links. As of October 9, 2006, the following is currently the best (and safest) way to generate an Amazon affiliate link on the fly (by hand), according to the Web Services team at They say, “Associates who wish to manually construct URLs do so at their own risk.” But this method does allow Amazon associates to “get data in their reports about the number of times their visitors click through to [the given product] (which is necessary for qualifying for certain compensation premiums that are offered in some of our international locales.”

To use this method, start with the following string and insert the ASIN (Amazon product number) and the affiliate tag or ID you wish to receive credit for the referral.[Product ID]/?tag=[Affiliate Tag]&linkCode=asn&creativeASIN=[Product ID]

Replace “[Product ID]” with the Amazon product ID or ASIN, and replace “[Affiliate Tag]”with the affiliate tag you wish to receive referral credit.