A Visit to SolidWorks Corporation

Posted on December 30th, 2006. Posted In SolidWorks Community

So I went to SolidWorks Corporation yesterday to see where SolidWorks, the software that enabled me to get the job that I have, is made. When I started my blog, there were people who helped me get things going and who, still, help me out. These people work at SolidWorks, and I wanted to be able to put faces to names as well.

Getting there from my sister’s house was a breeze. SW is located in an unassuming building. Were it not for the address being prominently displayed I would have driven right by it. I was given a tour by Nancy ohmygodIforgotherlastname (Sorry, Nancy…you should have given me a card…). She walked me throught the maze of offices explaining what everyone did. She took me by Jeff Ray’s office and he and I chatted for a few minutes. He came across as a very down to earth kind of guy; very likable and easy to talk to. While I didn’t get to ask him the the tough "Barbara Walters" kind of questions I wanted to, I did pick up a few tidbits. (An aside – I didn’t actually have any tough questions. I’m just not a "hard hitting" journalist. Actually, I’m not a journalist, I just pretend to be one so I can review cool stuff.) I asked Jeff whether they, management, paid attention to the negative comments made on the various forums and what they thought/did about them. He told me that they did, in fact, pay attention to them. He went on to say that they had meetings where comments, complaints and concerns could be aired without fear of retribution, including ones gleaned from the forums. He went on to emphasize how improvements were driven by customers. If I recall correctly, 92% of the changes came from customer suggestions.

I next met with Efrat Ravid, Director of Marketing and Alliances, and Nick Iwaskow, Solution Partner Marketing Manager. For most of you, this wouldn’t matter but, for me, it was important because of the nature of my blog. While I won’t bore you with details, suffice it to say that things should be picking up, review-wise, for me.

Next was lunch. Nick and I were joined by Patrick Cook and Eric Droukas. Patrick and Eric work on the web side of things and both, but especially Patrick, help me with my blog. Lunch was excellent, the service exceptional and the conversation was completely off topic. It was great! Especially the waitress. She combined just the right amount of sass with service to make our dining experience one that I’ll remember for quite some time.

After lunch, Patrick and I discussed some "blog" stuff and then I was on my way. If you’ve actually made it to the end of this post, I’m surprised. *I* stopped reading two paragraphs ago…

Remember to watch for my review of the SpaceExplorer and your chance to win it or a SpaceNavigator!

Free Stuff from 3DConnexion

Posted on December 28th, 2006. Posted In SolidWorks Community

Ok my loyal readers, I’ve got stuff to give away from 3DConnexion. I’ve completed my review of the SpaceNavigator and I’ll get to the SpaceExplorer once I return to Seattle. I spoke with Rick Lando about what to do with the hardware once I was done with it and he gave me the go ahead to give it away. I then spoke to the powers-that-be at SolidWorks, as they are the ones who so generously sponsor this blog (I think I got the better end of that deal…), and this is how you can win one of these controllers: In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting my review of the SpaceExplorer. In it will be a link to a downloadable survey. The first two people to find me at SolidWorks World and turn in their surveys will win the controllers.

I would hope that I’ll have other things to give away in the future. For those, I’ll come up with some other idea. Actually, I’m not that smart. I’ll have someone else come up with a good idea and then claim it as my own.

So keep an eye out for my SpaceExplorer review, print and fill out the survey, then find me at SolidWorks World. How will you know me? I’ll be the good looking guy walking around looking completely lost. That, and I’ll be wearing a nametag. Also, if you go back through my posts you will find a picture of me…

SpaceNavigator – Worth the money?

Posted on December 27th, 2006. Posted In Hardware Review

Is the SpaceNavigator worth the money? I’d say so. Its compactness makes it great for travelling (I’m presently on the east coast…supposedly on vacation), yet it’s tough enough to endure the trip. When you pick it up, you can feel its robustness. It has what appears to be a stainless steel base with gives it some weight so that it doesn’t slide around your desk. While it only has a single programmable button, the ability to manipulate your model will help to improve your efficiency.

One thing that I’ve heard complaints about with any of 3Dconnexion’s controllers is difficulty when trying to rotate in large assemblies. While I can’t speak to really large assemblies, I know that I don’t have much trouble in the assemblies I deal with. I think it’s just a matter of practicing and learning how to fully use the controller. Once you’ve become comfortable with it, I think you’ll find that moving around in large assemblies isn’t that hard at all.

I would definitely say that the SpaceNavigator is worth the money. How can you go wrong with $59? Check out 3Dconnexion’s website for details.

SpaceNavigator & SpaceExplorer on my desk!

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

First, for those of you who don’t live in western Washington/Northern Oregon, the news had it all wrong, we didn’t have a windstorm, it was a nor’ easter. I grew up on the east coast and I know what was is. I’d even argue that it was a category 1 hurricane. Granted, it was a lowly one, but I have friends who are still without power and aren’t supposed to get it back until after Christmas.

Now for the reason I’m writing. I came into work this morning and sitting on my chair was a big box from 3Dconnexion. "Yes, Christmas came early," I thought. With trembling hands I cut the tape trapping my new toy. Reaching in, I gently removed the bubblewrap and there, lying on the bottom of the box was not one, but two smaller boxes. Rick Lando, of 3Dconnexion, sent me a SpaceNavigator and a SpaceExplorer to try out! (Thanks, Rick!) Now I’m in a super quandry…which one do I try out first and, given the fact that I’m going on vacation next week, do I take one with me? This is going to require some thinking, something I’m not too good at.


First impressions? Beefy, ergonomic, well put together. The motion caps on the Navigator and Explorer have the same feel as the one on my SpacePilot. I’m excited to see how they perform…once Ifigure out which one to try first…

Man vs. Machine

Posted on December 15th, 2006. Posted In SolidWorks Community

New from the SolidWorks Marketing Department, watch Mr. Torimoto, the world’s greatest origami master, go up against SolidWorks in a robot creation race. After watching, you can order your own origami robot kit! Click here to watch the video and order your kit. At the very least, the video is entertaining!

Sheetmetal Tip – Creating cuts in bends

Posted on December 15th, 2006. Posted In Instructional

I’ve seen this come up a lot in various SolidWorks forums, so I figured I’d go ahead and post a little something about it.

When you need to insert a cut on a bend in sheetmetal, you need to use the Fold and Unfold commands, not the Flatten command. If you use the Flatten command, your cut feature will end up suppressed when you unflatten the part. To unfold a part, simply click on the ‘Unfold’ button. A dialogue box will pop up requesting a fixed planar face and the bend(s) you want to unfold. Click on a planar face, then the bend(s) you want to unfold. You can also have SW grab all the bends automatically. Once done, hit the check mark and your part will unfold and you’ll be able to create your cuts. When you’re finished with the cuts, hit the ‘Fold’ button. A dialogue box will pop up asking for the same stuff as the first one. Simply make the same choices you made when you unfolded the part, hit the check mark and you’re done.

I hope this helps!

Pinion Software – Let’s talk protection

Posted on December 13th, 2006. Posted In Software Review

Pinion Software has a great product for protecting documents that you need to send out to suppliers, customers or vendors. Using their Desktop Packager ($299), you can determine how long someone can view the document, whether it is password protected or whether they can print it. You can set an activation date, determining when someone can first access the document(s). Then there is the Mission Impossible choice…"this document will self-destruct in…" Literally. You can set a time for the document to self-destruct. That’s pretty cool right there. They offer other products as well, such as Pinion SecureCD, Pinion Sanitizer and others, ranging in price from $299-$4995.

The Desktop Packager, which is just one of their products, works with a multitude of applications. You can also encrypt native SolidWorks files (.sldprt, .sldasm). When the recipient gets them, they’ll open up in eDrawings while retaining their security settings.

I found the "pintecting" of documents to be easy and straightforward. After "pintecting", the document can be distributed through any means while maintaining the security options. Recipients of the .PINION file will need the Pinion Receiver (available here) to be able to view the encrypted file. Again, simple and easy to use.

If your company finds themselves in need of a product to protect distributable documents, I would highly recommend Pinion, and I’m not the only one. Cadalyst, CAD User and SC Magazine all recommend Pinion as well. Huh…for once I find myself in good company.

Going to SolidWorks Corp, what would you ask?

Posted on December 11th, 2006. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I’m heading back east at the end of the month for a much needed vacation. I’m looking forward to seeing my parents and sisters, nephews, nieces and friends. My sister lives outside of Boston, not too far from Concord. So I figured I’d find out about stopping in to see SolidWorks Corporation from the inside. A couple of phone calls to those who help me with the blog and I have a visit arranged (thanks Patrick and Nancy). Rumor has it that I’m going to be able to meet one of the executives while there. Now, I consider myself just a small fish in the scheme of things, so I’ll be quite flattered if I do get to meet John or Jeff. However, this does pose a problem. What do I ask them? Sure, I have a couple of questions, but what would you ask them? I’ll post the questions and the answers when I’m back.

3dConnexion – New Stuff Teaser

Posted on December 6th, 2006. Posted In Hardware Review

Rick Lando is teasing me, so I figured I’d pass it on. He sent me an email verifying my shipping address. I can only assume it’s because he’s shipping me something. What they’re shipping I don’t know, and that just doesn’t seem right. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll graciously accept whatever they send me. Being the typical guy that I am, I love new gadgets…especially when I get to play with them! (Side note to Mr. Doyle – In case I haven’t said it before, thank you!)

For those of you that don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about here, 3Dconnexion has released two new products, the SpaceNavigator:

and the SpaceExplorer:

They have also…oh, just go here and read the press release. I’m too tired to type it all out. And if you don’t know what a 3D Motion Controller is, you can find that out here.

Ok, I’m done for now. I’m suffering from sleep deprivation and could easily end up rambling on for pages…

i.get.it – SolidWorks Training online

Posted on December 5th, 2006. Posted In Software Review

While it’s been about a year since I’ve used iKnowledge Solutions’ i.get.it online training, I do remember that it was a big part of my being able to pass the Certified SolidWorks Professional exam. While I did find the online videos somewhat clumsy, they were definitely helpful. i.get.it is the only eLearning tool for SolidWorks. They cover all the major areas of SolidWorks, including PDMWorks and admin tools. They also cover "what’s new" topics for each major release of SolidWorks. This can be extremely beneficial to those companies that can’t get people out to the local VAR’s rollout.

I will say that, while i.get.it was still CADPO, I did find it to be somewhat cumbersome. Granted, part of it may have had to do with my inclination to be less than patient with online ‘stuff’, but I do believe it needed some streamlining. I, honestly, don’t know if iKnowledge Solutions has improved the user experience or not, but I hope they did. Sure would be nice to find out so that I could accurately report back to my 5 (yes, the count has gone up!) loyal reader.

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