First, I’d like to apologize to anyone who may have stumbled over the previous iteration of this post. After seeing what Ricky and Rob had written regarding this very subject, I realized that I needed to step up more.
At SolidWorks World 2006, there was a dispay featuring a wide variety products designed in Solidworks. For me, the coolest thing was the Koenigsegg CCR.

Maybe it was because they let me sit in it but, nonetheless, it’s a sweet car. (You can see more here.) While looking at pictures (renderings…sorry, Rob) of products designed in SolidWorks is nice, being able to see them and touch them is ten fold better. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of products, all designed with the same software. As Rob said, "How cool is that!"

Think your product has what it takes to be chosen? If you do, click here and nominate your product today.

M90 Review…Photoworks/Animator

Posted on September 29th, 2006. Posted In Hardware Review

Yesterday afternoon I met with a local SolidWorks guru to get some pointers on the melding of PhotoWorks and Animator. The M90, working off of the battery, performed quite well (or at least I think it did). Rendering time was less than 10 seconds/frame. Granted the rendering time is highly dependant on a number of factors, but I was pleased as, I believe, was "The Guru". The power usage didn’t seem overly taxing. I had about 60% battery life left after an hour of work with the processors cranking for most of the time. Thanks, again, for your help Adam.

On a side note, watch out when you’re working with animator. Even with ‘Disable View Key Creation’ checked, it still created them. Thankfully, the animation we were working with was only a quick demo I’d done and not a final product! We did end up with an "interesting" animation though…

Please let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to try out on the M90. I want to be sure that I completely review this machine.

M90 Review – Day 1

Posted on September 28th, 2006. Posted In Hardware Review

Okay, first things first. I, believe it or not, made a mistake. It does run dual displays. One just has to be smart enough to set it up correctly. I’m very pleased about that. The amount of time it would have take to clean my desk so that I could rearrange it would have been insane.

So far, after one day, all is well. (Sadly, I had to spend too much time this morning trying to figure out why my install didn’t want to work properly, but that’s another story…) I am impressed with the speed. While I didn’t get into anything overly large, there wasn’t a single hiccup with it at all today. I did mess around with PhotoWorks for a bit and completely pegged out the processors, but not for a long period. One nice thing is how quiet it is. With my old Compaq, the fan was obnoxious. With the M90, it’s whisper quiet. It does put off a lot of heat, so you’re not going to want to have it on your lap without something in between its base and your thighs…

I’ll post more about it as I get more into abusing it.

Dell M90 – It’s here!

Posted on September 26th, 2006. Posted In Hardware Review

First, to anyone keeping their fingers crossed, thank you. It arrived on today’s UPS shipment!

My first impression? Nice, very nice. I like the look; very sleek. Set up was quick and easy. I’m pleased, too, to see that the screen is clear with no missing pixels as I’d heard sometimes happens. The specs:

Dell Precision M90

Intel 2 Duo Core 2GHz Processor

T7200 60GB Hardrive


nVidia Quadro FX 2500M PCI Express w/ 512MB memory


Running Windows XP Pro with SolidWorks 2007 SP0 installed.

Yes, I’m excited! So far, everything has met my expectations for this machine. I couldn’t be happier. Granted that could change once I started pounding on it but I’m optimistic. I would say, thusfar, that this machine is as quick and powerful, if not moreso, than my previous desktop. The only complaint I have is its inability to run dual external monitors. I’ve gotten used to my 21" & 19" digitals. Now I’m going to have to settle for the 21" and the 17" of the M90. Ah, such is life.

I’ll report back as I begin to take my new toy through its paces.

Administrative Images

Posted on September 23rd, 2006. Posted In Instructional

Do you have multiple seats of SolidWorks? Are you maintaining them individually? Silly Admin, create an image! It doesn’t matter if they’re network licenses or not, maintaining them through an administrative image is the way to go.

We only have four seats of SolidWorks, but I maintain my three seats of Office Premium (the fourth is a stand-alone Office Pro) through an admin image. It doesn’t take too much more time on the front end to get everything set up, but the amount of time it saves you not having to deal with service packs individually is worth it. Even setting up batch files to install Cosmos, SolidWorks Explorer, or PDMWorks (enterprise) is fairly easy. I know virtually nothing about HTML, API, or any of that stuff but, with a little help, I was able to do it.

As a CAD Administrator, you owe it to yourself to learn how. Click here to get the basics. Have more questions? Contact your VAR or you can email me.

About Me – The Main Tool

Posted on September 22nd, 2006. Posted In Personal

So, I figure if I’m going to be posting reviews about software and hardware mainly for SolidWorks users, you should know a little about me. That way you won’t think I’m just some uniformed hack.

My name is Jeff Mirisola. I’m a Certified SolidWorks Professional and, hopefully after next Thursday, a CmfgT. I’ve been using SolidWorks for about 7 years now. Presently, I’m a CAD Administrator for HySecurity Gate Operators in Kent, Washington. I spend my days converting our old AutoCAD drawings over to SolidWorks, redesigning for cost down and converting our "smart" part numbering system over to our new "dumb" part numbering system (I could go off on a tangent here about how much I hate "smart" part numbers, but I’ll refrain…for now). I manage the four seats of SolidWorks that we have and help teach the other users here. I also manage most of our controlled documents.

While our assemblies here are small (under 150 parts for most), my former position had me creating assemblies that regularly exceeded 1000 parts. For some, that’s not much, but it’s a far cry from where I am right now. It was at my previous job that I taught myself SolidWorks. I worked for Genie Industries as a production worker. An injury forced me into an office job for the materials department, which was followed up with a request from the, then, head of our plant’s engineering department to move over to Technical Manuals. At the time, all of the illustrations were simple 2D graphics. I’d seen the engineers working with SolidWorks and, through a bit of finagling, I was able to talk my boss into letting me experiment with it to see if it wouldn’t work well for the parts manuals. From there, I was off and running. OK, running might be a bit of an exaggeration. I stumbled a lot. I didn’t receive any formal training; rather, I relied on the help files, picking the brains of the engineers (not that there was much to pick), and our VAR. By the time I left Genie, I was one of the "go to" people for SolidWorks questions. The first manual produced using SolidWorks was for Genie’s Z-20/8. As it was my first real foray into all things SolidWorks, I’m quite proud of what I was able to accomplish in that manual. I believe that all of Genie’s parts manuals now rely on SolidWorks illustrations.

Outside of work, I’m a divorced dad of 3 rambunctious sons who are my world. I enjoy spending working with my hands (working on cars, landscaping, construction projects), playing Texas Hold ’em, and just enjoying life.

I don’t know that this has been of any use to anyone, but I thought I’d just share a little about me with you. Below is a picture of me at a HySecurity event wearing my Genie gear, much to my boss’s chagrin.


Dell M90 – Coming soon

Posted on September 20th, 2006. Posted In Hardware Review

Watch for my upcoming review of the Dell M90. I ordered it today and expect it to be here in just a couple of weeks. I’ve been using my Compaq Presario (AMD Athalon64, 1.25Gigs RAM, nVidia GeForce4 440, 40 Gig hard drive, 15.4" widescreen, WinXP Home) for a year now, although the laptop itself is almost two years old. It’s been good to me, but lately it’s been having a hard time with SW ’06 and it flat out won’t run SW ’07. After reading some reviews and doing a little research, I settled on the M90. What’s the configuration? I honestly don’t remember. (I know, I know, a little too young for the Alzheimer’s to be setting in…). I believe, and I will confirm this in a later post, that it has the Intel 2 Duo core, nVidia 2500m, 2 Gigs of Ram and an 80 Gig hard drive with a 17" display, running XP Pro, and a CDRW/DVD combo drive (I already have an external DVD burner, so why spend the extra $$). Naturally, I feel like a kid just before Christmas. It can’t get here soon enough!

So, dear reader, stay tuned for the upcoming adventures as I take my new laptop out for a test drive…

If you have anything in particular that you want me to do to, er, with it, let me know. I want to put it through its paces.

SolidWorks World 2007

Posted on September 15th, 2006. Posted In Software Review

While this is supposed to be a software and hardware review blog, I just wanted to take a few moments to talk about SolidWorks World. I attended SolidWorks World 2006 in Las Vegas and was completely blown away. It was complete sensory overload. The lights, the buildings, the people (and there were some *strange* ones).

Then, of course, there was the convention. 3500 people gathered together to learn about SolidWorks. The networking opportunities alone make the trip worth it. The presentations are interesting, well planned out, and not overly long. Plus, they’re packed with great information that you can start to use as soon as you get back to work. While the SolidWorks help files cover a lot of what you need to know as a user, the "hidden" nuances can only be found by mistake or if someone lets you in on it. The latter occurred at virtually every presentation I attended to last year.

We’re a small company (<40 employees) with only four seats of SolidWorks. Three of us are already registered for SolidWorks World 2007. Any company that relies on SW as their main design package owes it to itself, and its engineers, to send someone. The reward, IMO, greatly outweighs the cost in the long run. The amount of time I’ve saved managing our seats simply because of the CAD Manager’s Boot Camp has probably paid for 1/4 of last year’s trip. Add in everything else I learned, and we’ve surely come out ahead.

Check out Matt Lombard’s post about SWW, or Richard Doyle’s.

Hope to see you in New Orleans!

SpacePilot – An Odyssey

Posted on September 13th, 2006. Posted In Hardware Review

See, it took me no time at all to post my first review!

While I don’t remember exactly when I saw my first SpacePilot, I knew that I had to have one. Look at it, it’s COOL! It’s streamlined, it has lots of buttons to press, and an LCD screen! C’mon, who wouldn’t want one?

I finally got one and am I glad I did. Granted, I lost about a half day’s work while I messed around with the buttons, configuring them (and re-configuring them). Then there was play time with the  "controller cap," as it’s called. I’d just sit there and watch my parts fly around my screen, spinning all over the place…

But once I was done messing around, I found the SpacePilot to be a definite time saver. Less movement. Fewer button clicks. Easier to get to where I wanted in the graphics area. While I don’t have hard numbers for what I’ve saved, time-wise, I don’t think that the 30% claim made by 3Dconnexion is too far off. As of right now, they’re having a 14-day trial offer. I say you’d be a fool not to take them up on it! At only $499, it’ll pay for itself in no time at all.


Posted on September 13th, 2006. Posted In Software Review - Create custom images

A few weeks ago, I met Richard Doyle at the SWUGN Summit in Seattle (where’s my parking money, Richard?). During the course of one of our conversations, I mentioned how I’d like to get more involved in the SolidWorks community. Richard suggested I become a blogger and, voila, here I am! The cool thing is that I’ll be able to try out different partner products and then give you my unbiased opinion. (Note to vendors: I *can* be bought).

I’m truly looking forward to this opportunity, and I promise to be fair and impartial (despite the above note). I’d appreciate any and all feedback as I learn how this all works, so long as it’s all positive and encouraging.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully, I’ll have my first review up in no time!

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