I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve received a couple of emails, and a phone call, regarding the Dell M90 and graphics issues. So, thankfully, that gave me something to write about. Now I know that this has been brought up inumerable times, but I’m a master of rehashing so…

Just because you bought a brand new computer and it has the latest "everything" doesn’t mean it’s SolidWorks ready, especially when it comes to your graphics card. You need to be sure that whatever driver you’re using is approved for SolidWorks. How do you do that? Well, I’ll tell ya…You can go to http://www.solidworks.com/pages/services/VideoCardTesting.html and look through the list of drivers for starters. If you have a workstation that was built by Dell, HP or some other company like that, check their website for software specific drivers. You can also check the manufacturer’s website (nVidia, ATI). Just don’t assume that the "latest and greatest" is going to work. I’ve heard of many instances where someone updated their driver and their graphics went kablooey!

To quote Michael McGreevy (a true Red Sox fan will know him), "Nuf ced".

August 31, 2007 · Posted in SolidWorks Community  
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Jason Raak has been posting about his attempt to get his company to send him to SolidWorks World in his blog, RockSolid Perspective. He’s up to part 4 in the series. He’s talked about the "Bosses Justification Letters" you can download from SolidWorks, what he’s heard about SWW and testimonials from attendees. I posted a comment suggesting that he get testimonials from managers who’ve sent employees and get their perspective. To that end, I spoke with my old boss and asked him if he’d write something up. He gladly did it. I’d comtemplated just grabbing some quotes out of it, but decided that I’d post the whole thing. Bob is, without a doubt, the best boss I’ve had so far (easy Paul & Shayne, it’s only been a couple of weeks). Below is his testimonial.

Why a manager should send staff to SolidWorks World

By Bob Jordan, PE

Every manager looks for an “edge,” that ability to get more with less, and today to get yet even more with yet even less. This edge is becoming increasingly mandatory as innovative companies are springing up all around (and they are attracting top talent) and global competition is now a fact of life (inefficiencies are more glaring, and the lack of cost competitiveness is crippling).

Three things are required of a manager or a staff member: intense personal will (“guts, determination, persistence, etc.”), competency, and character. The manager has the role of executing the will of the organization through the people he has the privilege of leading. To do that requires that his staff be competent. Competency comes at a price (investing in training). The lack of competency comes at a higher price (missed opportunity, low morale, frustration, even the closing of a business). Specific to SolidWorks, it is clear to anyone in manufacturing that SolidWorks is the #1 method of communicating technical details between manufacturer and vendor. Whether you manage a manufacturing organization or are a vendor to one, being sharp in the modern uses of SolidWorks is a must-have. The vendor who is inept at this skill (especially the modern applications) demonstrates that their organization is sub-par and that he, the SolidWorks user, is not at the varsity level. This is a competitive disadvantage. The manufacturer who is not using the modern tools of SolidWorks looks poor to the vendor who is expert in the current tools.

Any manager can say “no, no, no,” and many (most) do. The professional manager will assess his investment in the ongoing training of his staff in modern manufacturing processes and say yes to those things that contribute to business value. This is what separates a good manager from a great manager. The good manager keeps the department reasonably productive, cuts costs which impress the brass above him, and has some morale problems and turnover issues (because the excellent people leave), but not too excessive. He gets product out and does what he’s told. The excellent manager has a highly trained, highly motivated staff that has creative ideas, are eager to learn, and stay with the organization. They can build on successes and don’t waste time redoing, or doing inefficiently, that which can be done once right and then they move on. Excellent managers focus on building people, and those people build product, good product. Great managers see farther than the good manager – the great manager raises the level of those around him by building his staff and his staff’s competency. There are not many great managers around, so one can be mediocre or even fair and make if for a long time (if his company stays in business).

I have sent my CAD Administrator, Mechanical Engineers, and entry-level CAD technicians to SolidWorks World. They come back with knowledge of the modern features of this key industrial tool. They develop systems for document control, for transmitting drawings to vendors, and for teaching and training others to use the tools. Our down-time was nil because they know installation and upgrade procedures forward and backward because they were taught this. They learn of time-saving third-party add-ons that save hours and hours in the workplace. They network with other users and have a rapid source for problem solving; they are motivated to attend users groups (after-hours and on their own time). In short, they are professional users of the language of manufacturing – SolidWorks.

The investment I make annually in SolidWorks World pays for itself in annual productivity, getting things done, keeping morale high, zero turnover of staff, and contributes to a culture of personal and professional continuous improvement and a performance culture. My CAD users did amazing things with SolidWorks – and that wouldn’t have happened without my investment in their development. Investing in SolidWorks World for my CAD users gave me an edge in my industry.

Bob Jordan is a licensed professional engineer and has been a manager/VP in manufacturing organizations for over 10 years, serving in regulated industries (aerospace, medical device) as well as non-regulated industries (industrial equipment, car racing). In his tenure as manager he has never had a staff member quit on him, and has often inherited low-morale departments, only to transform them into the department people wanted to be a part of. Bob has developed new product development systems, quality management systems, manufacturing processes, and educational programs for over 20 years.

August 24, 2007 · Posted in SolidWorks Community  
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So now that I’ve gone to the "darkside", as Matt says, I’m wondering why he, or you, would consider it the "darkside"? I know that I’ve had my issues when I was only a SolidWorks user, and I’ll be sure to do my best to not make the same mistakes. What about you? What is it about your SolidWorks VAR that pisses you off? What about the good stuff? My goal is to provide the best possible service that I can and to make every interaction with my customers a positive one. A lofty goal? Perhaps, but I don’t want to be the kind of AE that thinks he knows everything. Believe it or not, I *do* make mistakes from time to time.
So tell me your thoughts. Feel free to vent. The more feedback the better!

August 20, 2007 · Posted in SolidWorks Community  
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I got to thinking about things and realized that I should probably change the name of my blog. ‘Jeff’s Tool Shed’ just doesn’t seem appropriate now that I can’t do hardware/software reviews (see my Time for a change post). So I figured I’d ask the two or three of you who are still reading this for your ideas. As time goes on, I’ll be posting about my thoughts/opinions of SolidWorks as well as tips and tricks, cool tools, etc.

Any ideas? I suppose I could go with the simple thing and call it ‘Jeff’s Blog’, but that just doesn’t seem all that snappy…

August 15, 2007 · Posted in SolidWorks Community  
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Well, do you? If so, then you need to go here and read about the contest that SolidWorks and NASA Tech Briefs, along with COMSOL, Hewlett-Packard and the Hong Kong Polytechnic Universite, is sponsoring.

August 6, 2007 · Posted in SolidWorks Community  
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