SolidWorks World – The real Day 1

Posted on February 9th, 2009. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I don’t know that I’ve ever said this, but I truly love being a blogger for SolidWorks. It’s provided me with some wonderful opportunities, both professionally and personally. Take today, for instance. As a blogger, I wasn’t subjected to the cattle-callish nature of trying to get a good seat that so many others are. It’s reminiscent of the days when rock concerts had general admission and people would push and shove to get the best seats. None of that for the members of the press, we have reserved seating up front. Truly a wonderful thing.

Today’s general session started as one would expect with Jeff Ray coming out and talking about this year’s SolidWorks World, the attendance compared with last year’s, and the fun we could expect. He then talked about how he’d promised changes last year and told us how he felt that SolidWorks had done over the course of the year. When all was said and done, he gave their progress a B-, admitting that there were still areas that needed work. I agree with that statement, though I wonder if a B- wasn’t a bit generous.

Next up was Jeff’s interview with Sir Richard Branson. Not the normal keynote speaker time, but a one-on-one interview ala "The Tonight Show". I gotta say, Sir Richard is a pretty affable guy. Funny, engaging and he came off as being pretty down to Earth. It was most apparent in his nervousness. Apparently, he doesn’t like to talk in public like that. Kudos to him for doing it. You’re probably thinking he got paid a ton of money for it. Well, you’re wrong. His speaker fee was donated to his charity. Everyone I’ve spoken to truly enjoyed listening to Sir Richard (do you have to keep calling him ‘Sir Richard’, I don’t want to break protocol here…). He had a couple of funny stories. In one, he talked about when he was just starting up Virgin Air and called Boeing to buy a used 747. In the end he was asked, given the name of the airline, were they going to go all the way. Naturally, that cracked me, and everyone else, up. He also spoke of a time when British Airways was having a publicity event. (At this point, I missed a bit because of the people in front of me who were talking). Whatever it was that BA was trying to raise wouldn’t go up. Sir Richard, upon hearing this, "scrambled" one of his airships and had it fly over the site with "BA can’t get it up" in lights.

I spent a fair amount of time in the vendor pavilion today and lined up some new products to review for all of you. Among them will be the new offerings from SolidProfessor, Vuuch, Zygote Ergonomics and solidThinking. TactonWorks will be coming in the near future as well. The product that I’m going to test out first is Xpresso. Imagine having an add-in that will greatly lessen the number of times you need to use your mouse while aggravating your coworkers at the same time (my spin on it, not theirs). In a nutshell, Xpresso is voice command software for SolidWorks. If it works as well as the demo I was shown, it could very well do away with my beloved ‘S’ key. Stay tuned for that one coming out soon.

SolidWorks World 2009

Posted on February 8th, 2009. Posted In SolidWorks Community

It’s Sunday and SolidWorks World has has almost started. There are a ton of people here, with more arriving by the minute. I’ve been here since Thursday night and I’m glad things are starting to kick into high gear.

I’ve done a bit of wandering around and the layout doesn’t seem too bad, maybe just a little spred out. I’m really looking forward to the Welcome Reception that starts at 5:30. It’ll be our first chance to see what partners are here, what they’ve brought and their new offerings. For me, it’s when things really start. It’s when I start lining up products to review.

Last night I went to my first ever "Tweetup". There were a good number of fellow "Tweeterers" there and fun was had by all. I would like to offer a public apology to the girl in the Mickey Mouse hat. I meant no offense. I suspect, though, that she doesn’t read this but I just wanted to put it out there. Should I run into her before I leave, I’ll be sure to personally apologize.

As I’m writing this, Alex Ruiz is to my left and Ricky Jordan to my right. Both are posting to their blogs as well.

Thought I’d post a picture of my badge, too, just because.


Flying to Orlando

Posted on February 7th, 2009. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I started writing this yesterday while flying to Dallas. Unfortunately, the TypePad application on my iPhone crapped out on me, so I’m just now posting it. The upside of it is I added to the original text, making it an even better post. Well, it had nowhere to go but up anyway…

I’m sitting on a plane flying towards Dallas, the first leg of my trip to Orlando and SolidWorks World 2009. I have no idea what state I’m flying over. All I can see is a patchwork of flat land through the hazy clouds. It’s good that there’s something to look at outside or I’d probably be trying to make small-talk with the gorgeous blonde sitting next to me. Given my luck with women lately, I’d probably end up being escorted off the plane by members of the DFW Airport police. Yeah, the flatness outside is much better than the curves next to me…right.

Tomorrow is when the fun really starts. Lunch with an old friend, a roundtable discussion with SolidWorks and some of my fellow bloggers followed by my first ever “tweetup”. Good God, when did I become such a geek? Sunday, I’ll be…um, she’s talking to me! More later.

Ok, I’m back. After landing early at DFW, followed by a long wait on the tarmac which resulted in us getting to the gate late (ah, the irony), Tina and I parted ways. She had to catch a flight to Houston, I needed to find food. I’m sitting in a TGIFridays, waiting for my fish and chips to arrive. How bad could fish and chips be in Texas?

On Sunday I thought I had more to do, but I only see one thing on my calendar. I can’t talk about it because it’s a surprise, or at least I think it is. I’d hate to be the one to let the cat out of the bag, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut. I am contemplating taking the CSWP exam, again, just to see how different it is from the last two times I’ve taken it. Well that, and I’m interviewing Jeremy Luchini on Tuesday and would like to be able to speak intelligently about the exam and how its changed over the years. I suppose it’ll depend on what sort of hijinx Alex gets us into Saturday night. So long as that uber-geek doesn’t get me arrested, it’ll all be good.

It’s now Saturday morning and I’m sitting in my hotel room, finishing this post. Last night, after checking in, I spent some quality time with some people from SolidWorks. It was nice to interact with them outside of “business”.

I’ve been checking twitter, and many more twitterers and bloggers are converging on Orlando. Tonight’s tweetup should be a blast, if last night’s precursor was any indication.

Stay tuned, my loyal reader, there’s more to come.



What a week!

Posted on February 3rd, 2009. Posted In Personal

It’s only Tuesday, and I’m already having a great week. I received a job offer yesterday that is going to simply rock. I’ll be working at, doing a multitude of things: designing, redesigning, 2D to 3D conversion, line improvement, lean manufacturing, trouble making. The best part of all of it is I’ll be working for a former boss, one whom I greatly respect and consider to be the best manager I’ve ever had. Actually, the best part of it is I’ll only be 15 minutes from home versus the 230 miles away that I am now. Couple all that with the fact that I fly to Orlando on Friday for SolidWorks World, and you’ve got the ingredients for a great week!

I’ll be posting as much as possible from SWW. I have a couple of interviews lined up, plus I hope to line up some more product reviews. With all the vendors that’ll be there, that shouldn’t be too hard to do. It’s good to have such great things to look forward to during these tough times.

Remember, too, only 11 more days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training!

Yakima SWUG

Posted on January 30th, 2009. Posted In SolidWorks Community

Last night I had the honor of presenting at the first meeting of the Yakima SolidWorks User Group. Jeff, John and George did a great job putting it together and they had a great turnout for their first meeting. 22 people showed up to be awed by my ‘Tips & Tricks’ presentation, followed by a Q & A session. Ok, so "awed" may be a tad strong, but I did get at least one "ooh!" and an "ahh!". The group was very engaged, an excellent thing. Good questions, enthusiasm and camaraderie. I can see YSWUG being a very successful group. Hopefully, the local VARs will step up in their support.

Their next meeting will be in April. If you live in the area, keep an eye on They’re going to be loading up the page with info, including an impressive list of online resources the Jeff has gathered over the years.

On a separate note, I can’t wait to get on a plane next Friday and head down to Orlando. SWW, here I come!

Design for the Future

Posted on January 22nd, 2009. Posted In SolidWorks Community

My good friend and Geek-in-Charge at The SolidWorks Geek, Alex Ruiz, is throwing his weight (notice I’m leaving out the obvious cheap-shot) behind Design For The Future, a charity drive for under-privledged kids at the Orangewood Children’s Home in Orange, California. Why is he doing this? Because Alex lived there as a teen and now he wants to give back. Please head over to Alex’s site and read more and give what you can.

So SolidWorks has extended their "get certified for free" deal until, effectively, the end of 2009. Ugh. I don’t know why this bugs me, but it does. Maybe it’s because when I originally took the CSWP exam, it was ~$500 and an 8 hour exam. Granted, my VAR at the time gave me a discount on the price, but not on the exam length. Somehow, this whole "free" thing, along with the shortened time, seems to lessen the certification process. When I retook the exam, as an AE, I noticed that the exam was easier. Yes, I’m sure the intervening years helped with my knowledge of SolidWorks, but there seemed to be less pressure, less angst, even though I had to get at least 90%.

I considered passing the CSWP (both times) a major milestone for me. It meant a lot to me to be able to say I was a CSWP. Not only did it show that I was quite proficient with SolidWorks, but it showed a dedication to it both in money and time.  Now it’s free, easier and 1/3 the time.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just grumpy. Maybe it’s the TES (twitchy eyelid syndrome) I’ve been dealing with for a week. Maybe I’m just sleep deprived. Maybe I’ve been so swamped at work that I haven’t been able to come up with a better blog post. Ugh.

SW 2009 – First Impressions

Posted on January 14th, 2009. Posted In Software Review

As I mentioned in a post last week, I finally have SolidWorks 2009 on my desktop. Unfortunately, the project I’ve been working on all these months just got shelved, so I was only able to mess around with the files a little before we archived. However, they’re firing up another project and, it would appear, they’re going to keep me around. This will provide me the opportunity to create a similar project, mostly from scratch, in 2009.

My first impression of 2009? Not too bad, but it’s a first impression with limited use. The install went smoothly, I haven’t had any template issues and nothing seems too amiss. I am developing a love/hate relationship with the dynamic sketch dimensioning. First, it didn’t appear to work. Then I realized you had to tick the ‘Keep Dimensions’ box. Ok, no worries there, though not overly intuitive. However, between the dimensions and auto-relations, I keep getting sketches that are over-defined. I’m hoping it’s just because I’m being an idiot and not one of those new features that are only half done. Time will tell.

Creating a sheet metal part from a solid is pretty slick. I created a semi-complex part and SolidWorks gave me a sheet metal part in no time. I’ve always been a proponent creating sheet metal parts as sheet metal from the get-go. With this new functionality, I could definitely see myself changing my stance. Again, time will tell.

While I opened up the "old" project’s drawings in ’09, and they did open faster, I really haven’t gotten into any of the new functionality available. That will come in a few weeks when we start producing the drawings for the new project.

Currently, I’d give SolidWorks 2009 a ‘B-‘. I haven’t experienced any of the issues I’ve seen reported elsewhere but, aside from the sheet metal improvement, I haven’t seen anything Earth shaking either. The sad thing is I’ll be at SolidWorks World in just a few weeks and on the last day we’ll see a preview of SolidWorks 2010 which will only wet my appetite for all the new functionality.

Time will tell.

Going Green with SolidWorks

Posted on January 12th, 2009. Posted In SolidWorks Community

Using SolidWorks, companies are helping out the environment. There’s the BigBelly® trash bin, a solar powered trash compactor. Trojan Technologies has come up with water disinfection system using UV-light. Greentec Systems has the Reee chair, made from recycled video games. Now enter, Island Sky® Corp. They’ve come up a way to transform water vapor from the atmosphere into potable water. They have a home/office model as well as a larger model. Designed completely in SolidWorks, they can deliver up to 1100 liters of water a day!

You can check out the press release here.

Finally, 2009 is loaded!

Posted on January 9th, 2009. Posted In Software Review,SolidWorks Community

I’ve been waiting since it was released to get my hands on SolidWorks 2009. Yesterday, the waiting was over. I’d gone back to my apartment for the day when I got a call from the boss-man informing me that IT wanted to load it and could I come back in. 6 minutes later, I was at the office with the 2009 DVD in my hands. Because I’m testing it, before full release, I created a separate install folder and the install went flawlessly.

I waited until this morning to start playing with it. So far, it’s only locked up once which is a HUGE improvement, compared with all the problems I’ve had with ’08. I’m slowly going through and seeing how the various sub-assemblies, main assembly and drawings react. I’m truly hoping that the performance improvements that have been reported hold true. With all the performance/stability issues I’ve had in ’08, even a 25% improvement would be welcomed.

Stay tuned. As I go through things, I’ll keep you all posted.

FYI – The assembly stats are:

total number of components: 5060
total number of bodies: 11,689

The main assembly file is sitting around 50+MB. The various drawing files range in size from 3.5MB to 40+MB. I’m especially interested to see how ’09 handles the larger drawings, once I’ve converted everything.

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