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.