Thursday, December 18, 2008

Engineering Tips

If you are an engineering professional and haven't heard of - WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? And of course, for you computer techies there is as well.

Continuing my discussion of online resources for designers and engineers, I have to recommend a visit to eng-tips. This is a website catered to engineering professionals because it has forums for every facet of engineer and design - from hard topics in specific disciplines down to the softer topics of ethics and computer programs. And the best part, the posts are peer-reviewed. There are no moderators on this site. Well, no specific moderators per se because every member is also a moderator by using the red-flag link. The red-flag notifies site management about a possible abuse to the codes of conduct every member agrees to prior to becoming a member. Also, members are also reminded of the main points each time they post.
Promoting, selling, recruiting and student posting
are not allowed in the forums.

This is what makes eng-tips one of the best online locations for engineering knowledge. You don't have to worry about flame wars, students posting homework questions, or getting spammed by recruiters or salespeople. The threads tend to stay on topic; answers are quick and to the point, saving you valuable time; and there is no finger pointing either. Posters can't blame a moderator or administrator for censoring posts because the entire community reviews posts and determines their worth. This allows for very easy, open discussion on a variety of topics without worry of recourse because of a difference of opinion (so long as the post is tactful and professional). How many times have you criticized Autodesk or SolidWorks on their forums only to find your post removed? It's OK to air dirty laundry on eng-tips so long as the post follows the site codes of conduct.

So if you have that tough engineering problem that you can't find text-based resources to resolve, try a post on If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to see everything that site has to offer. Add some forums to your threadminder, even if you just have a passing interest in the topic. You never know what you may be able to learn.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

SpaceClaiming - The Online Community about CAD Tech

In my last post I talked about engineers using social media. I'd like to continue the discussion and highlight a few of the regular places I visit to get my CAD Tech news fix.

Back in May, I made a plug for Novedge Pulse. This is my main RSS stop because it collects all the blogs I normally read. The one-stop shop for blog entries saves me plenty of time each morning as I browse for the day's latest highlights. Well, it so happens that Franco Folini has continued to expand his online offerings to the CAD world. Although not brand new, SpaceClaiming is social networking site that is still building its membership.

Originally developed to be an online community for SpaceClaim users, it has since grown into a collection of members across the entire CAD industry. And, it continues to grow and expand every day. Based on the NING platform, the organization of the site confuses me, but I'm growing accustomed to it the more I visit. I'm even finding it useful since it allows for the vast exchange of information through any medium: text, images, video, blogs, forums, comments, private messaging, calender, and of course group memberships. Who knows, as I grow more comfortable with SpaceClaiming, I may even branch out into other locations like Facebook or Twitter.

So if you are looking for a single place to find a collection of information, take a peak at SpaceClaiming. A word of warning though, give yourself some time to digest all it has to offer.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Solid Edge Wiki

Design News has an interesting article out about how engineers and designers can, and should, utilize social media to improve communication and break down barriers.

Personally, I believe things like micro-blogging are more in line with text messaging. Sure, it's a method of communication, but it's really only a passing fad until the next best thing comes along. That does not mean it is totally useless. It just means that us conservative engineers tend to wait things out a bit before jumping on the band wagon. And what will most likely happen is that micro-blogging and other social media websites with grow their philosophy into a more evolved, and secure, method of sharing thoughts, ideas, and other constructive communications.

But one thing that is obviously useful today, and is not a passing fad, is the wiki. I'm sure we are all familiar with the Wikipedia. The power of the Wiki is undeniable. The ability of a community of users to add and edit the information makes wikis incredibly informational. Heck, even the World of Warcraft has a wiki -

But, for those of us deeply routed within the CAD industry, this powerhouse of information is typically relegated to the "Knowledge Base." Knowledge bases are great. They have information and the information is searchable. But, they are developed by a limited group of individuals under a specific corporate directive. If we've learned anything from open source, it is that information should be free and easily available to the public. Enter, the Solid Edge Wiki.

This is not a new resource, per se. It has been around for a while thanks to its host, Jason Newell. The Solid Edge newsgroup community has entered quite a bit of relavent information, but it could always use more. For Solid Edge users out there, check it out and feel free to post those little Solid Edge tid-bits. For other CAD users, where are you wikis?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Print 3D

A quick and easy way to get parts rapid prototyped directly from your CAD software.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to drive a little free advertising to my engineering and design consulting business. If it ever gets off the ground, one of my goals of expansion was to be a rapid prototyping service provider simply because it doesn't take a prophet to realize that rapid manufacturing is going to be the standard of the future. Why not get into the ground floor?

Short of the initial capital expenditure in buying the RP equipment, my other problem is finding space to house the equipment. Well, those are actually the easy issues to resolve. The difficult issue is overcoming the competition by providing better, faster, and cheaper service than everyone else, especially when the services can be easily outsourced to less expensive parts of the world. Say for example... India.

How does one do this?
1) Provide a safe and secure online mechanism to upload CAD (or STL) models.
2) Provide on online quote mechanism that gives instant quotes, or at least 24 hour turn-arounds.
3) Provide accurate finished parts within a short period of time (preferably 24 hours + shipping).

I have to admit that when meeting these 3 items, my abilities would fall short and it is yet another reason I have yet to expand into this arena. But, it certainly looks like Deelip has done so by founding Print 3D Corporation.

Print 3D Corp has done everything correctly.
1) They provide a free plug-in to most CAD systems making uploading safe, secure, and very easy, using native CAD geometry (no STL translation on the user end**).
2) Part of the plug in provide instant quoting.
3) Part of the plug in provides signing up for an account with Print 3D making payment easy.
4) Incredibly fast turn around, with user choice of delivery options.

So the only question remains, Deelip, how good is the quality of the finished part? And, why did you choose an example of a handgun assembly for your instruction page?

The only thing lacking from Print 3D is the option for the user to choose material, finish, and color of the RP part. That may be a limitation of the plugin, or just a limitation on available RP hardware. Either way, it's room for improvement.

**Footnote, Print 3D made a wise decision having the user send native CAD files and performing the STL translation internally. A bad translation, or one where the user ignored options, could easily set the finished part too course or too fine, thus affecting delivery and end-item quality. Only experienced RP operators should translate to STL because they know what settings work best for their equipment. If an RP operator only accepts STL files, make sure - as an end user - to strictly define your finished product and work with the RP provider before hand to be certain the STL file you provide is capable of meeting your final requirement.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Holistic Engineering

Fancy buzz words aside, the more I read about the "latest" methods of engineering education, the more I am grateful to have graduated from the school I did.

So what is Holistic Engineering? Quite frankly, it's the ability to look at the big picture. In terms of engineering education, it's teaching engineering students how to look at the big picture and how to communicate it to others.

My alma mater was on a trimester system and the first two years were packed full of core competencies. Sure, there was a bit of statics and dynamics in there, but mostly it consisted of chemistry, physics, language, mathematics, and social sciences. It wasn't until my Junior year that I got to start playing with the cool stuff and realized why I paid so much in tuition. It also wasn't until my Junior year that I got into the specialized engineering classes, the interesting ones that made the first two years worth while. (Sadly, a lot of student burned out in the first two years and never got to see experience the fun.)

A decade later, a study has been published ( stating that my school has it all right, yet some people doubt the necessity of a strong foundation and instead prefer to make specialists out of every student.

I'm sorry, but those people are wrong. Engineering degrees should be degrees that teach students how to learn. The cutting edge technology being used in industry today can not be taught in schools. The only way for engineering students to thrive in the real world is to have the general tools necessary to learn and adapt to the specialties they will be exposed to in industry. The authors of the above listed article have the right idea. I just wish they would have included other engineering colleges and universities that teach the same philosophy.

Let's take a look at this from another direction.

Engineers have historically had a problem with informing the public as to what exactly engineers do. The problem is not with the vast expanse that is engineering: mechanical, civil, electrical, structural, aerodynamic, bioengineer, and all the subsets and other disciplines I can't possibly mention in the space of a blog. No, the problem is with the ability of engineers to communicate. I don't want to draw a broad stereotype, but engineers typically focus on the specific details and can not find common ground in explaining how we view the world compared to how the public sees it. Personally, I strive to not use jargon and to explain things on the most basic level, even when conversing with other engineers. I strongly believe that this is the best skill taught to me and the thing that has carried me so far along my career.

Perhaps an education that focuses on general knowledge and includes more of the "soft studies" will provide engineering students with the tools necessary to not only learn and thrive in their environment, but to be able to communicate that environment to everyone else, thus promoting the profession. It seems to me the answer plaguing our most basic problems has been in front of us all along, teach undergraduate students how to communicate and learn. Specialties can be taught on the job or at the graduate level.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fundamental Canons of Engineering

Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:
  1. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
  2. Perform services only in areas of their competence.
  3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
  4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
  5. Avoid deceptive acts.
  6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.
You can view the entire Code of Ethics for Engineers from the NSPE website via this link.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wanted: Temporal Engineer

Contrary to popular belief, time is not linear.

Just like the world appears to be flat when looking out to the horizon, time appears linear because we exist on such a finite distance of the curve that it acts linear within the segment. I'm looking for a temporal engineer willing to share theories on time/space interaction.

That, or I've just been watching too much SciFi lately.

View the article posted today (Oct 1, 2008) from Fox News.,2933,430943,00.html

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thread-Safe ACIS

Spatial announced today the release of the Thread-Safe ACIS Modeler.

To sum up why this is so exciting, developers can now use ACIS to take full advantage of multi-core hardware. The modeling operations show near linear scaling. This not only means potential for performance gains on current hardware (once this release of ACIS gets implemented into your solid modeling software), but also allows for growth of future hardware upgrades.

And if we know anything about the consistency of the industry, this announcement means that Parasolid is not far behind.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Engineering Positioning Statement

"No profession unleashes the spirit of innovation like engineering. From research to real-world applications, engineers constantly discover how to improve our lives by creating bold new solutions that connect science to life in unexpected, forward-thinking ways. Few professions turn so many ideas into so many realities. Few have such a direct and positive effect on people's everyday lives. We are counting on engineers and their imaginations to help us meet the needs of the 21st century."

NAE's Committee on Public Understanding of Engineering Messages

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

September is Shaping Up

Siemens has announced the release of SE with Synchronous Technology and it is available for download for maintenance paying customers, with hard media set to ship at the beginning of the month. The hype will finally get put to the paces and maybe, just maybe, someone will be able to verbalize what Synchronous Technology is in terms parametric CAD users can comprehend.

Alibre is poised to release v11 sometime in September as well. You can get a sneak peak of it at
Several improvements have been leaked, so I'll highlight my favorite three.
  • The repository is being replaced by the Alibre Vault, based on M-Files technology.
  • Many user requested enhancements.
  • Faster performance on larger assembly models and 2D drafting.
Some other improvements that are also in the public domain is the fact that Alibre has moved away from Microsoft Virtual Java. That in itself is a huge change, and one I'm glad to have finally happened. Hopefully the change to the base code allows for more 3rd parties to add onto Alibre. For example, one Alibre user has already updated his Open Office Connect add-on to work with v11. That's great for all of us home users that use Open Office instead of the Microsoft suite.

Rumor has it that assembly and drawing performance is nearing that of the competition. Alibre still doesn't handle large assemblies well (5000 to 100,000 parts), or complex drawings, but at least 500 part assemblies are usable. I don't know of too many people who have more than 500 parts with a (sub)assembly anyway. Drawings are still a bit of an effort to make MIL-Spec ready, but it can be done.

One announcement that I'm very dissappointed in is the removal of Team Design. This collaboration technology is what made Alibre unique and worth the investment even by companies entrenched in another CAD package. Now, Alibre is just another MCAD package except that it lacks certain functionality and usability of the more mature products. Tack on the fact that Alibre's prices are steadily increasing, although still much cheaper than the competition, and I find myself with a CAD package that may not be worth maintaining. By the time I bolt-on all the add-ons and 3rd party programs to get the complete functionality I require - and learn those programs - I spend nearly as much money and a lot more time maintaining proficiency than if I just spend more for a CAD package that has those items built in and utilizing a common interface.

Call me an enginerd, but this is going to be an exciting month. Keep an eye out for the Alibre Design v11 Design Contest. The last one had some gorgeous renderings submitted; I can only imagine what this season will bring.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tips Welcome

I mentioned in my previous post how much I enjoy Seth's Blog. As an engineer, I practically despise the marketing engine that forces me in a direction I'd rather not take with my designs. But, for some reason, when a common sense thinker like Seth posts, I can't but help find myself a little wiser for looking at the world in a different light. Not only that, but I find myself taking more time to change my habits; habits that were not bad to begin with, but can still be improved.

So today comes the topic "Ads are the new online tip jar." I concur with his post that I consider myself smarter than the average bear and not willing to waste my busy time clicking on webpage ads. I even have Ad-bloc Plus add-on for Firefox. Yet, I have ads on this blog. Why? Because most of my readership is also too smart or busy to waste time clicking on the ads and hopefully the site is organized well enough that they do not intrude on the content. Maybe they even reinforce it. (How would I know? I can't see them.) In other words, for absolutely no effort on my part and hopefully no distraction to my readers, I may get a few "free" pennies here and there.

I admit that there are several websites that I gain valuable knowledge from in my day to work and play life. Yet, I don't recognize the author of that website. Perhaps it's time to say a little thank you by occassionally taking the time to click on their ads, and give them a few pennies. They took enough time to add the content, the least I can do is thank them for it. I paid a lot more for my education that what I'd be spending by clicking on an ad, so why not?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Save Your Gas

and don't bother attending the Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology Launch Event.

Why? Because it was canceled.

Nevermind the confirmation email you have in your inbox.
Nevermind the data-mining phone call you got from Siemens verifying your registration info and reason for attending.
Nevermind the reminder email you got just 2 days before the event; the same email that states there is still room for others in your company to register and attend.
Nevermind the website that clearly shows the event's scheduled date and time.

Nope, all those things don't matter.
What matters is the time you wasted in traffic driving to the event. Non-value added time that will never be reimbursed.
What matters is the inconvenience to the hotel receptionist trying to find your conference room for you.
What matters is the inconvenience to the conference room manager who has to spend time verifying why some paperwork says Siemens is registered today, but other paperwork says they are not, so no room was set up. Which employee is going to be inconvenienced now for the "slip up"?

What matters is the total loss of confidence I now have in Siemens and the local VAR. Is it so hard to verify the registration list and send out an email, or make a few phone calls notifying participants that the even has been canceled before they waste their precious time? I'm just happy I didn't have to drive up from Tucson for the event.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Spatial Releases 3D Contraint Manager

Spatial recently announced their new and/or improved 3D Constraint Manager.

I can't say I am familiar with this product in the past, so it is another one of those new or new-to-me questions. My main question is thus, why? I am doing some research to find customers who have implemented a Spatial solution for the CAD/CAM/CAE software, but I'm not having much luck narrowing the field down to the customers utilizing 3D Constraint Manager.

D-Cubed, now owned by Siemens, remains a part of the Seimens/UGS Open Solutions portfolio. As far as I know, this hasn't changed recently and many CAD/CAM/CAE vendors are fully entrenched into D-Cubed's 2D and 3D constraint management tools. Why is Spatial focusing on this? What product? What customer? Do they really have that much better of a product to be able to usurp the competition?

Needless to say, I am very interested in seeing where this product evolves. Between Catia v6 and what looks like a direct competitor to Synchronous Technology, ACIS's amazing ability to generate and heal complex surfaces, Spatial's Interop Suite that may one day make working with any native file a breeze in any other program, and now a 3D Constraint tool, Spatial's well-rounded portfolio is set to be the full-solution provider for any up-and-coming CAD vendor ready to take over the market with the next revolutionary idea.

Spatial Releases ACIS v19

Spatial issued a press release announcing the next version of ACIS 3D Modeler and the 3D Interop Suite.

I have been impressed with Spatial and their continued focus on interoperability. Of course, I don't think ACIS will ever make it to the de facto standard like Parasolid, nor make it to an industry standard like STEP, but they continue down the path none-the-less putting just enough competitive pressure on Siemens to continue improving. Kind of like AMD is to Intel.

One thing that is very interesting, and I don't know if it is new to ACIS or just new to me, is the 3D Springback for the press metal industry. This one appears to be a part of their analysis suite and focusing on tool and die makers. Personally, I think the real power in this one would be if it can be integrated into the design side as part of the Sheet Metal environment in CAD programs.

Not surprising in this release is the 3D Interop portion being focused on the improved data sharing between Catia v5 and Solidworks. Perhaps Spatial/Dassault is seeing a little pressure from Seimens and Seimen's interoperability between native NX and native Solidedge. Of course, the fact that Catia and Solidworks don't use the same kernel makes the interoperability that much more of a challenge. If Spatial can make Catia and Solidworks share native file formats at least as smoothly as NX and Edge, perhaps ACIS will be the new de facto standard. Keep at it Spatial.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Engineering Lawyer

People haven often told me that I should be a lawyer. I really don't know what it is about my personality that motivates them to the point of vocalizing their opinion, but it happens... frequently. I have to admit that I have thought about it, and it would probably help me in my run for the presidency. But, considering that running for president may just be a dream, perhaps my limited time is better spent on a Master's in Mechanical Engineering, or Engineering Management, or even an MBA.

Speaking of litigious email situations, I recall an instance when working at a small aerospace company in the Pudget Sound area. I was a fresh grad, only working there for a few months, maybe a year. I was in the Tool Design department and kept busy. Our department did the original conceptual design and released drawings. We then threw the drawings over the wall for manufacture and the Tooling Liaisons took over. Once it hit the floor, the Manufacturing Engineers worked with the Liaisons to troubleshoot any issues. Rarely did the original designer or engineer get a follow-up call. Until one day...

This particular Liaison was known to be difficult. Of course, being new, I wasn't aware of the fact. She calls me up one day and starts ripping me a new one. I politely request information in an email since I wasn't able to get an answer right away, and that would have to ask my Lead how I proceed (as there were specific rules on how to charge to jobs and I needed to learn). He enlightens me and I politely respond to her email with all the answers I am able to provide. She writes back, again with an attitude. Let me tell you, she portrayed emotion in her email just fine. I answer back again, politely, and CYA by copying my Lead. It wasn't really CYA, because I needed to inform him of my actions anyway as well as have him give a sanity check. She would reply just to me, I would reply and copy my lead. This happened several times. We get to the a point where her only reply is "You should be a f'in lawyer." I dutifully brought that one up to my Lead and he just laughs, finally filling me in on the well-known personality of this particular person. She's lucky that I wasn't overly offended by her emails and that enough people within the company knew her in person. I'm not saying she couldn't use a lesson in email ethics, but a simple phone call or walk up from production (or vice versa for me to take the initiative to walk to her area) would have resolved the issue much quicker.

So perhaps I would make a good lawyer. Perhaps having a law degree is beneficial for an engineer. I have pointed out obvious areas where knowing legal precedence would benefit an engineer, especially a self-employed one. Here are some more examples:
contract law
conflict of interest resolution
business law
patent law

And if you decide that being a self-employed contractor isn't for you, I hear patent attorney's make good money. Of course, they aren't really engineers with law degrees so much as lawyers with engineering degrees. Is there a difference?

Ethics of Email

Libel: A written, printed, oral, or pictorial statement that damages by defaming a person's character or reputation.
Slander: A false and malicious statement injurious to another person's reputation.

I had an eye appointment last night. I arrived a little early so started looking through the magazines. He had no interesting titles, so I picked up one of the medical trade journals he had on the table and thumbed through the headlines. I found some interesting headlines, probably because they were a bit techie, and realized that the medical profession is going through a learning-growth curve that engineering has been treading on for a while.

The article started out dealing with online security. For those not in the U.S., a directive has been issued to transfer to Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Basically, your personal medical records go in a national database and then you can go to any doctor anywhere in the States and they'll have your current, and complete, medical history. That's the theory, anyway. The issue comes in with hacking and security, privacy and HIPAA, as well as usual online netiquette. (Face it, we believe and forward more junk email than we ever did snail-mail chain letters.) As part of the netiquette, there was a bit of a comparison to online ethics as well, and how flame wars, heated arguments, and miscommunication often occur as we hurriedly send out that last email for the day, only to see a nasty reply in our email the next morning.

I attended an NSPE seminar on electronic safety. It covered topics on file transfer, proprietary information, and other measures to take to protect proprietary intellectual information. But no where in that seminar was anything on drafting a proper email and leaving out the emotion.
"Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts."

Email is used quite frequently between team members, coworkers, customers, and vendors. When a problem arises, emotions often rise to the surface as budget and schedule become critical. Pressure from management to meet the project metrics has everyone tense. What happens next, somebody on the team comes up with an idea. Someone else on the team thinks it is stupid and blatantly says so. A flame war has started. But it isn't just an argument between the two individuals, because each one is using the convenient "reply-to-all" button to make sure others hear the words of the idiot they're conversing with. In that case, I renamed the reply-to-all button the CYA button, because that's what it gets used for.

What we forget to realize is that each of those injurious and spiteful words we flame to the next party are often libel, especially when others hear of it directly. Not only that, but there is written proof of the act.

So take that extra minute and proof read your emails. Only reply to those who need the information contained within the text. Don't use reply to all to Cover Your Ass. If the email discussion has gotten that far, it's already too late. Call the person or go their desk. Face to face is the easiest way to resolve an electronic miscommunication.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Don't Fight an Idiot

I love reading Seth's Blog. It really doesn't have much to do with my industry, education, training, or career, but it is still a very good read. His comments are full of so much common sense, do I dare say pragmatism, that I sometimes schmack myself in the forehead and say "Duh." I know I'm not the only one. His posts often remind me of Bill Engvall's stand up comedy routing "Here's your sign." (Bill even has a blog.)

We've all had a sign handed to us. We've all said things that are readily apparent and after the words leave our mouth wonder why we wasted the breath. But every now and then, someone bothers to challenge your idiocy. For those moments, remember this advice given to me long ago.

Don't fight an idiot, they'll just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

CAD and a Sense of Community

What I find interesting in the world today is the sense of community a person feels from a group of total stranger merely because they interact with them on a daily basis through some form of online correspondence. I think we all know that emotion doesn't get portrayed well through electronics: sarcasm, dismay, hatred, or humor just to name a few. Emoticons just don't fully encompass the level of emotion one feels when typing. So how is it we bond to certain individuals through online medium? I know what you say, but I don't get the entire meaning of the words without the displayed emotion, either through facial features, vocal inflection, or body language.

Knowing this, we still find ourselves bonding to certain groups or not others. Personally, I find myself bonded to the SolidEdge bbsnotes, the Alibre Design forums,, and The Hunting Lodge (a World of Warcraft community). Of all the people I converse with daily, I have met maybe a handful face to face. Why is it I haven't bonded with the Solidworks community, or the NX community, or TeamCenter. Why is it as a Seimens product holder I'm not welcome into the NX or Team Center Enterprise Community? (Don't take that too literally, I'm being facetiously factitious to make a point.) Why do some people bond to those groups but not SolidEdge or Alibre?

What I find even more interesting is being branded based on guilt by association. Members of other communities brand me into one just because of my association with one. I'm ousted from their community no matter what I do, or what I have done.

I learned about a sense of community when taking Sign Language classes. Like so many analogies, picture a bullseye. The bullseye defines the rings, or stage, surrounding the deaf community.

The outer most ring is hearing people. They just don't understand. They think deaf people have a handicap, or are less intelligent because they can't communicate in the same manner as hearing people. They are either ignorant or naive. (There is a difference, a very definitive difference between being ignorant and naive. Perhaps that's a topic for another soapbox.) They will never be welcome into the deaf community.

The next ring is people who take a sign language course. They are at least working on communicating with deaf people and welcome to a certain degree. They still don't "get" what it is to be deaf, but at least they have educated themselves past the stereotype.

The next ring is people who are related to a deaf person. This person usually signs. If they don't, they are often cast into the outer ring, but sometimes not. It is situational. They not only communicate with the deaf, but they also have a first hand understanding of what it is like to live in a hearing world. The difficulties that deaf people must overcome that hearing people take for granted: ordering through a drive up window, talking to a bank teller or grocery check-out clerk, using a telephone in an emergency, and the list goes on. Of course, they still don't really "get it" because they don't have to do it. The moment their deaf relative isn't around, life goes back to "normal."

The inner most ring is being deaf yourself. This is the deaf community. Anybody who is not deaf will not reach this bullseye. The few hearing people that do pretty much are surrounded by deaf and live a deaf livestyle. Even hard-of-hearing people who sign 99% of the time may not ever make it into this ring.

I use Solid Edge because my full-time employer has that tool equipped.
I use Alibre Design because it is the affordable CAD package for my side-job that does pretty much everything I need in a CAD package.
I don't use SolidWorks regularly. I have a license of NX available just to use to communicate with suppliers and customers that use NX. I no longer use CATIA in a production environment. Perhaps that is why I don't fit within those communities. Since I'm not deaf, I just don't get it.

Yet I'm guilty-by-association. Just because the means by which I happen to be proficient at a certain CAD package, which is the measure by which I gage myself to be an authority to talk about a certain topic, places me as a zeolot for that package and incapable of being unbiased and objective. I'll stake my license on that not being true, and anyone who knows me personally will be a character reference to vouch for that. Again, even the best chosen words don't necessarily give the entire message.

So you may see me talk about other CAD package here, just to highlight things that I find neat or interesting. But I will not at any time profess to be an expert at anything beyond the tools I use. If that makes me a zealot, or a biased unobjective bigot, so be it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

SE with Synch Tech - Living up to the hype

I had the privilege of attending a half-day seminar, kind of a sneak peak, of Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology. It was offered by the local reseller to a select group of users. Personally, I was greatly appreciative of the opportunity because I know the company-wide roll out of this release is going to require a lot of internal training. Getting a head start with some real interaction, not just tech sheets or youtube videos, will aid me in the task of outlining the training manuals.

So far, the best article I have seen written on the subject is this one by Raymond Kurland of the TechniCom Group.

Before I get too long winded, let me state that it is not all hype. Let me also clarify that no matter what other cad users or vendors say, this has NOT been done before. This is totally new, totally unique, and you will not find anything like it in any other MCAD package if the patents are water tight, ever.

For all others who have tried, let me sum up Synch Tech with a short phrase: It is all the power of a parametric modeler without the inherit problems of a history tree.

Some highlight benefits:
  • You can still work the old way if you choose to.
  • File size of part models will be smaller.
  • Inherit with smaller part files is faster loading of assemblies.
  • No time wasted regenerating a model after a modification.
  • No time wasted trying to find the relationship that allows you to change what you want to change, and only what you want to change.
  • Live Rules - SEST's on-the-fly brains behind it's ease of use really is robust and intelligent, yet still allows user full control over its intelligence including over rides.
  • Persistent Rules - You want to use live rules for quickness and ease-of-use, but need to control design intelligence or intent? You can by applying persistent rules. To create an axiom, it is similar to assembly relationships and/or geometric constraints.
  • Preventing modification - You want to lock down specific geometry to prevent accidental change due to live rules associations or inexperienced users? You can by locking it down with a persistent rule that will FIX or GROUND the geometry.

One downfall that will require clarification upon release -
Sketches get absorbed into the solid. Once you create a solid from the sketch, the sketch disappears. We didn't get into the assembly environment much during the seminar. I didn't expect to since the first release incorporates ST in the part environment mainly, with tools in assembly (no sheet metal until next release due out shortly after SEST v1 is released). The reason I dislike the idea of sketches being absorbed and loosing associativity to the solid model is because I often use layout sketches, some may call them skeletons.

SE has spent the last few releases really tweaking the use of layout sketches in part and assembly, only to throw them away with ST? Doing so also throws away decades of tried and true design methodology because it is often best to start with a concept sketch, then build from there, rather than start by laying details in a solid model. If I begin with a layout sketch, I want to be able to utilize the effort I put into that sketch for the entire design which means it still needs to be associative to all the geometry that is based off of it.

I'm really looking forward to the initial release. More importantly, I'm really looking forward to how far this technology can go once it is in the hands of the masses and they start supplying user feedback. SEST v2 is already in development, so I don't expect to many user requested enhancements to make it there, but v3 is sure to be a whopper.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Time for a plug: Novedge Pulse

The power of social networking - and the internet is a way to make it happen.

If you haven't already, put together a LinkedIn profile. It's more professional than myspace and so far I haven't had anyone flame me on that site. It has also helped me expand my awareness. Take for example: bloggers, people, websites, and communities I never knew existed but either directly or indirectly have an affect on what I do. (Check out my profile by following the link on the right.)

One such person is Franco Folini, President and Owner of Novedge. We "met" through a shared LinkedIn group. He's already got a great website with great products and I'd recommend anyone to take a look at them. Recently, Franco put together Novedge Pulse. It is a mashup of various CAD and industry news and blogs all conveniently located in one place. If that wasn't convenient enough, it is peer ranked so the most interesting or useful items of the day show up at the top of the list. For so many of you who are like me, time is of the essence. RSS readers are a great way to skim what's new, but the Pulse improves upon it.

I am happy to say, without any effort on my part, this blog has been added to Pulse. Thank you Franco, for helping me get the word out to even more people. I consider it an honor to be included.

So save yourself some time and check out Novedge Pulse. While you're there, give me a beat.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Junk Mail

Spam, I can't stand it, but every now and then a piece of junk mail hits my mailbox that I just have to open. Usually, they just get ripped up without even opening them, but today I got a "keeper."

What will you do with your Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology?

That was the heading across the outside of the envelope. What the bleep is Forensic Psychology and why are you sending it to an engineer? The funniest part, this went to my work mailstop and it had my title on it for my job description that I haven't had in years. Tell me you wouldn't be the least bit curious to open it up and see what's inside.

Two things are wrong with this.
1) This particular university that is advertising its master's programs does not filter the mail lists it purchases. HELLO! It states right on the address that I'm a "Tool Design Engineer." Save yourself the 41 cents + printing cost and send it to someone else.
2) This particular university is obviously struggling, because any mail list that has my old title on it is at least 4 years old. Perhaps it's time to either update, or purge, your mail merge.

Needless to say, Forensic Psychology has very little to do with determining failure modes of a bolt, but it may still apply to engineering. Beyond Psych 101 in your undergrad, or business psychology for those who, like me, had that during the coursework as well, this program could help decipher the logic, or should I say lack of, some equipment users who just can't seem to follow directions.

How often has an engineer had to disposition a discrepancy and determine cause and corrective action?
How many causes are operator error? (Or pilot error? Or human error? Or however you classify the disassociation between brain and hands?)
How many times do you facepalm yourself, wondering how anybody could be so bold to not stop doing something at the first sign of failure?
Wouldn't it be nice to, since as engineers we are required to anyway, have a better understanding of how people are going to mishandle our designs in a way that seems intuitive to them?
A Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology may just be what you need.

Send me a reply if you want more information on this fascinating profession. I wonder if I can get PDHs for it?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grand Challenges for Engineering

Since it's debut on the Siemens PLM Software Blog, the CAD pundits are having a go with the Challenge. I personally like Evan's the best, so far.

But how about a vote for none of the above?

OK, fine, I'll play the game. For those of you who don't know, the correct answer is energy. Why, because without it we can't have the rest. Now that I've played, can I go back to why I vote for none of the above?

Simply put, it is the Grand Challenges for Engineers, yet it says nothing about the state of engineering. These are engineering tasks that may be challenging. What do engineers say?
The difficult I can do right away, the impossible may take a while.
That's because all engineers look at problems as a challenge, not an obstacle. These challenges may be difficult today, but why? We know from past experience that tomorrow, these concepts will be taught in grade schools. So why fret over a technical objective?

Personally, I think these are challenges simply because of greed. Yep, some company is looking at these technologies wondering how it can make a fortune on it rather than looking at in with regards to how it will benefit mankind. As an engineer, our duty is to protect the health and welfare of the public. Deadlines and budgets come into contraint only because society says I need to pay for gas and groceries, and I need to remain employed to collect a paycheck. If I didn't, I'd engineer for free. Given time and resources, engineers can accomplish anything.

I think a better set of challenges for engineers would be:
  • Sharing our ethics with other professional disciplines.
  • Profess the benefits of licensure.
  • Remove obstacles from engineering for the benefit of people, rather than the benefit of corporations.
Feel free to add your own.

One Continent, One Country

One day, I will run for U.S. President and this will be my slogan.

Honestly, the world is more intertwined now than ever before. As the old saying goes, the world is getting smaller. Well, not really, but each individual person is more closely linked to a person on the other side of the globe via faster travel, the internet, and a sharing of knowledge. Granted, cultural issues aside (for all you Brits who sit around in pubs discussing politics), with more and more people populating the globe a lower percentage is taking note of global issues. But, for the most part, groups of people are taking note of and are becoming more globally aware.
  • Engineering and design services being outsourced.
  • Manufacturing being outsourced. (Funny, every country seems to have these problems. Where are they outsourcing to? Note that I embolded seems since no one seems to have consistent factual data to make a undisputable claim.)
  • The economy of one country is dependent on that of several others.
  • International aid groups help during times of natural catastrophe.
  • Industry standard organizations are writing more and more specifications for the international community that utilizes those documents. (It's not just ANSI, ASME, ISO, or DIN anymore. They're still called that, but ASME, ISO, and DIN apply to more than U.S., Europe, and Germany.)
What's even funnier is how everyones' zest for self-preservation seems to cloud the obvious facts that political boundaries are currently doing more harm than good.
NAFTA - who needs it if the U.S., Canada, and Mexico were all one country - the North American Union?

The U.N. is dead. I say it to make a hard point, not to criticize the U.N. From my history studies, the organization was never given any real authority to effect its responsibility. Most certainly, parts of the U.N. play a vital role in the global atmosphere, but unless the countries in the U.N. utilize their own resources to support the U.N., well, let's just say it is to easy for non-U.N. countries to ignore them. And it may be my limited exposure based on media's portrayal, but it certainly seems to me that the U.N. has lost focus on the good of the globe and instead each individual company has focused on the good of "my nation."

What's the fix? One continent, one country. Remove political borders from areas of the globe that share similar geographic and cultural traits. The European Union is having a go at it. Why aren't the rest of us? The U.S. used to be the melting pot, but with faster travel and instant communication, any person has access to any person from around the globe - including their culture. I think all of us are a bit of muggles now, even if you are a pure blood, just due to more global exposure.

So let's take it to the next step. Let's fix the outsourcing issue. After all, outsourcing to Mexico is not outsourcing if Mexico is the same country. If Antarctica can rule its entire continent, why can't the rest of us. Europe and Australia have a good start. It's time for the rest of us to realize "my back yard" is not as important as "our back yard."

Respectfully submitted,


Continuing Education - PDH Credit

There is an interesting topic on discussing states that do not require continuing education.
States that do not require PDHs for Professional Engineers

I understand that policies not specifically designated to the federal government are reserved for the states, but something as important as protecting the health and welfare of the public deserves to be consistent across state lines.

I, for one, am against requiring PDHs for maintaining licensure. The post I made on the site clearly states that only idiots don't get continuing education simply because they don't have to. But really, the extra burden on the State Boards to audit engineers; the varying requirements among states that each engineer is licensed in; the personal burden to document and track all education hours; and the variation among states for what qualifies and what doesn't is what makes me believe requiring continuing education is pointless.

I think it is time that a model law is developed that all states follow.

There are plenty of engineering organizations and societies that are now international. Those groups could band together and develop a plan for the U.S. to create an acceptable, and consistent, definition of what a good engineer should do in terms of continuing education. Each state would adopt the model law.

1) Create a central database of acceptable activities that qualify for PDH.
Companies that supply training seminars, conferences, or online training can apply to have their activity accredited.
2) Allow all professional engineers to maintain an account in the online, web-based database to log the activities they have participated in. Each state board can verify an engineer's qualifications via the database. Customer's, clients, and other concerned citizens can also verify that the engineer providing a service is current.
3) And more (because obviously all the details aren't going to be worked out in a blog).

Of course, how does all this get paid for? By each state board. How much will each state board save by having a 3rd party host the database? The cost of time, infrastructure, and manpower to self certify all of their engineers in their state has now been outsourced. It's no different than outsourcing contract labor for any other service. Each state pays their rental fee for the database with the savings they accrue from not maintaining it themselves.

I think it would work. Comments?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Licensing of Software Engineers

If I was one, I wouldn't get licensed.

As a licensed engineer, you accept liability for the health, safety, and wellfare of the public. Also, you have a certain legal obligation for negligence.

If I write error-prone code, that causes a business down time, does that mean I am personally liable? As a licensed engineer, I think it does.

Maybe licensing software engineers will be a good thing. Forces the person to verify code more to avoid those troublesome conflicts, lock-ups, and crashes that cost users dearly. Can you imagine all the lawsuits as corporations sue individual P.E.'s for negligence based on error-prone code, or code that allowed hackers or viruses to infiltrate?

I'm all for licensing for engineers. I think licensing software engineers will force code to be better written based on the personal liability for bad code. I also think that industrial exemptions will be rampant for software engineers and hardly any will bother. Where's the benefit in licensure compared to the liability?


B+30, that's the short name for engineers requiring a Bachelor's Degree + 30 additional credit hours before getting licensed.

I'm sitting in the hotel room in Columbus, MS on a 2-day business trip. Like usual when on travel, I didn't sleep well. But the one good point of traveling on business, I get to catch up on reading trade journals. In this case, because the first leg of the flight from Phoenix to Atlanta was long enough, I watched the Simpons Movie, too.

In the latest edition of NSPE's PE Magazine, reader comments continue to discuss B+30 and the relavent articles that have appeared numerous times in this magazine. It's time I sound off on this topic.

B+30 is horse rubbish.
1) Any good engineer is going to seek out additional education, either in the form of advanced degrees, seminars, or other continuing education, whether it is required or not.
2) Engineering is such a misunderstood profession that marketing it to students as a career path often falls short. How many grade school kids do you know that aspire to be engineers? Personally, I hear police officers, doctors, teachers, fire fighters, and astronauts. I don't hear engineers.
3) With the potential "crisis" looming over engineering shortages, forcing higher education levels - and increased cost, will not motivate more people to enter engineering.
4) Cost is a huge issue. The engineering profession, at least in the US, is becoming a commodity. Salaries are marginal for the level of responsibility an engineer absorbs. Add increased school costs so fresh grads start deeper in the hole is not a solution to this growing concern. I compare it to Physical Therapists. They are at a time in their field that a doctorate is required to practice, but they don't get paid doctor's wages. Why would anyone want to be a physical therapist anymore? If I were in school and had to spend that many hours on a degree, I'm going to spend them in a field that pays better.

There is also a lot of discussion about the type of education new grads are getting. Most certainly, more technical knowledge has accumulated over the years and it must be dispersed to engineering students, but perhaps the classroom is not the best way to do that. Instead, let the classroom teach some of the soft-skills that are also needed to enter the workforce: ethics, accounting, law, team development, etc. and let the industry mold the recent grads to the specialist positions they need.

I will say one positive thing about B+30. When it comes to making the engineering profession more of a revered profession like doctors and lawyers, requiring at least a master's level degree in order to become licensed is probably the only way. Until that point, engineering will continue to be just a commodity. But, a definitive difference between engineer and designer will have to be drawn, with engineers compensated appropriately.

This is a hot topic and I have plenty of opinions. But this is a blog, not a white paper. Hopefully the points I mention here are enough to build further discussion.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Synchronous Technology

Did I call it our what?

Siemens, in their much anticipated "webinar" announcement of their new technology, dubbed Synchronous Technology, is the epitome of Direct Editing functionality. Personally, it looks a lot like SpaceClaim, but with the same parametric tools as it always had to get the model initially created.

It's nothing new even though they claim it to be, but it is still exciting to see this technology come to the forefront with so much marketing momentum behind it. I also like the idea that the main-stream CAD packages are implementing this technology so the companies that already employ those solutions do not have to suffer the slings and arrows of a multi-cad environment. But what does this say for SpaceClaim's future? I've said it before (but not in this blog) and I'll say it again, Alibre would be wise to partner or acquire SpaceClaim before somebody else does. Within one version Alibre could also have the same type of "synchronous technology" in their solid modeler and continue to compete with the entrenched mid-range modelers. Having SpaceClaim technology also reduces the need for advanced surface features, something Alibre has stated they are not interested in pursuing but is much desired by users.

How long do you think it will take Solidworks to have their version of synchronous technology?

See the Siemens webcast here.

Granted, it doesn't say much specifically about SE therefore many of the specifics have not been answered. Perhaps the remaining bullet points of my rumors and ruminations for SE v21 may still come true.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Joe Greco Community Award

I just finished reading Evan Yares' latest blog post about the name change of the award from the Cad Society.

Living so close to Joe, I never got a chance to meet him. Too bad for me. But I think the name change of the award to honor Joe is a great idea. Personally, I am still looking for an industry pundit to write CAD articles as well as Joe, with the same excitement and unbias direction as he did. Too bad I can't plug myself for the job. I'd love to do that.

My congratulations goes out to Evan. He is a fine recipient of the award, especially considering his personal relationship with Joe. Receiving the first award in Joe's honor seems more than fitting.

Articles about the award.
Cad Society News
Cad Society Press Release (link broken?)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

COFES Crashers

Just like in Wedding Crashers, I had a back story and headed up to COFES 2008 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. But security was tight. Every attendee had this giant name plate placarded to their chest via a lanyard around their neck. Anyone without one really stuck out. No penetrating that security.

So instead, I just hung out at the hotel bar hoping to see a face I recognized and maybe buy a Margarita or Bloody Mary. That didn't work out either. Instead, I decided to be happy with the original reason I made the drive up to North Scottsdale.

I had arranged a meeting with Mr. Paul Grayson of Alibre, Inc. The intent of the meeting was just to put a face to the names of the people who have been conversing online for years. It was a meeting between user and Director on the state of the program and where it should be headed. Since I never told Paul that I would be writing about our meeting in my blog, nor did I set it up like an interview, I'm not going to quote anything specific from the meeting, but I will give general highlights.

Alibre is in good hands.

The meeting was a lot of casual chit chat to get to know one another and really get to understand the two sides of the software: developer and user. Occasionally, we did tackle some current topics with Alibre Design.

If you read my signature file on the Alibre Forums, you will see that I list two things that could make Alibre's future brighter. The first one is more development in the 2D tools of Alibre. I am happy to state that Alibre is focusing on improving the usability of 2D as well as making it align with ASME and ISO drafting standards. The second item in my signature file is to focus on Alibre's unique features. To me, Alibre's unique features are it's online collaboration, peer-to-peer team design, and repository. Any solid modeler can go head-to-head on a feature per feature comparison, and in a version or two will be tied again. Why not focus development on something that makes a software unique? This is where Paul and I agree, but alas Greg Milliken, who happens to be in charge of the development plan, disagree, and rightfully so.

Greg has focused heavily on developing new features for Alibre. I whole heartedly agree that it was needed. Let's face it, having more streamlined workflows and more & better features means I can create my design faster and subsequently improve my bottom line. It's great, and it was needed. But the features that make Alibre unique have taken a secondary importance lately, and I feel that it is time to put a new focus, at least one version's worth, on improving those tools.

Shortly stated, Paul and Greg have gone a few rounds on which direction Alibre should head. I am both happy and sad to say that Greg is currently winning by TKO. (Apparently, Greg is much more athletic than one might expect at first glance. Then again, I've only seen his head shot on the Alibre website - can't judge too much from that.) Either way, with two heads-of-state both firmly entrenched in the "proper" direction of the software and company, I can rest assured that all aspects are at least being considered. Tunnel vision is not a problem. And, sooner or later Paul will win one match and we'll see a version that makes improvements to Alibre's unique features in addition to enhanced solid modeling features. I continue to look forward to each new version of Alibre.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rumors and Ruminations: Solid Edge v21

"The biggest release since v1"
"The next big breakthrough"

Both of these quotes are part of the marketing effort flying around by the new Solid Edge owner, Siemens. I haven't heard such grandeur since the inventor of sliced bread marketed his idea.

So what could this possibly entail? Strap on your tin foil hats and shine up that crystal ball, here we go.

From the Solid Edge newsgroup, we have heard that the acquisition by Siemens has been a good thing for UGS' product line. Plenty of resources have been added to development and marketing. That lends me to believe the hype, but what is the hype about?

* My guess, GUI overhaul. First and foremost we're looking at a Vista, i.e. MS Office 2007, interface. A brand new GUI is the only thing as unique as an original launch of the software. But there has to be more because a simple GUI change will not "change the world of digital product development."
* More interaction among the Velocity Series of programs: CAD (SOLID EDGE), CAM (NX CAM EXPRESS), CAE (FEMAP EXPRESS), as well as document management and workflow (TEAM CENTER EXPRESS) has to be a part of it. The world is no longer just CAD based. The entire value stream must be optimized in order to have a huge breakthrough that will change digital design.
* A change to DirectX from OpenGL. I have to list it as a separate item, but really it is a part of the GUI change and utilization of the Windows graphic libraries. Remarkably, I'm not totally against this change. Alibre has been using DirectX and I have not come across any issues with it vs. OpenGL. I kind of like the ability to use less expensive graphics cards and maintain the same level of performance.

To be a bit more facetious, what if bigger just means it ships on two DVDs instead of one?
What if bigger just means they added more features? C'mon, in v1 all the features are new. From that point on, it's just an incremental addition of features. Perhaps they've doubled the number of features, or commands needed to create a feature, or something just as ridiculous.

OK, so maybe not so ridiculous is that they are all new features. Why isn't it ridiculous? Look at CoCreate or SpaceClaim. It's a whole new way of performing an old method of CAD. SE has been developing their Direct Modeling approach for a few years. Is v21 the epitome of that effort and therefore SE is no longer parametric in the way we are used to parametric being defined? Personally, I hate the sketch-and-extrude method of modeling. I think it is slow and resists creativity, not to mention functionality for future, unplanned changes that differ from the originator's design intent.

Here's my hope: Solid Edge v21 is a completely new architecture with a brand new concept of parametric solid modeling tied to a more efficient value stream throughout the entire workflow of engineering, design, and manufacturing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rumors and Ruminations: Introduction

From time to time, I will post a topic called Rumors and Ruminations. In these posts, I will join Mr. Peabody in the Wayback Machine and collect a sample of CAD rumors from all mediums at my disposal. I'll then insert them into my shiny new crystal ball and go Back to Future in an attempt to guess what is in store, and how to best plan for it.

Like all crystal balls, even the new shiny ones are a bit foggy or cracked. And, I will only gather rumors and information from sources available to the public. Note: These may not be public knowledge because some of the sources require membership or subscription. I just want to iterate that nothing I use as rumors is affected by my involvement with NDAs, alpha/beta testing, or other relationship with companies I am writing about. As such, not all of my sources can be quoted or linked to.

So put on your tinfoil hats and be ready to join me for a fun-filled trip as part of a Futurological think tank.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Vision Statement

So what makes my blog any different than the thousands of other blogs already out there, and on similar topics. To define that, I guess I should tell you what I plan on writing about and what in my background gives me authority to write about it.

I am a licensed professional engineer in the great state of Arizona. I work full time for a defense contractor and do a little side work under a keep-the-house-liability-coverage called Wertel Enterprises, LLC. I have an inherent understanding of CAD, Configuration Management, best-practices, and similar items. I'm also a pretty darn good mechanical designer and engineer who understands what it takes to produce something, not just make it look good on paper.

In this blog, I'm am hoping to develop a broader relationship with fellow CAD bloggers, like the Solidworks blogsquad, Deelip Menezes, and even the CEO of Alibre Design. I'm also going to discuss topics important to engineers, not just CAD designers, such as outsourcing and the importance of licensing. Finally, since I'm relating this to a personal blog more than a business blog, you'll even see some highlights of my latest pwning in WoW and how hunters are FTW regardless of the latest nerfs in 2.4. (I'll refrain from shortcuts except when applicable to the WoW community.)

So that's it. I'll field all questions and comments as quickly as possible. Please open up a dialog with me about any on-topic discussion that you'd like. Flames are even welcome, if they are constructive.

My business website...
My business email...
Note, this blog has my personal email, but please refrain from using it. If you do, I will most likely reply from my business one.
My full-time job is completely unrelated to this blog and my opinions and writings do not reflect any views held by my employer.

Welcome to the Jungle

After much postponement and delay, I finally succumbed to my friends and have started a blog. I didn't' realize it was so easy to do. The hardest part was deciding on a name for my blog.

The Power of a Thesaurus
Harangue: Not exactly the first thing people would think for a name, and not mine either. Actually, I'm under the philosophy that one should keep a dictionary by their desk AND USE IT. And no, MS Word(tm) might find typos, but it is not a dictionary.

I thought of those early influences in trade journals that I frequently read and couldn't help but being drawn to the style of Anthony Lockwood's Diatribes in DE magazine. His style and grace is one to be admired. Not to mention, I too lack tact (no offense Anthony). But diatribes was already taken.

Considering I have a tendency to be long winded when it comes to topics I am passionate about, some would call it soap-boxing, harangue fits the definition. Thank you Mr. Webster. Sorry Bill, Word just didn't do it for me.