Posted on October 14th, 2013. Posted In Software Review

3DSync, based on Siemens’ synchronous technology, is touted to increase one’s productivity while working with imported data by a factor of ten. Basically, they’ve spun off a bit of their synchronous technology that they’ve had since 2008 and made it available to the CAD masses for US$1995.

[…Read More…]

Hey! I’m still here!

Posted on October 5th, 2013. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I am still around, even if I haven’t had anything to write since June. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been so busy, but that wouldn’t be truthful. I’ve just been at a complete loss as to what to write about. The last thing I wrote was actually for Develop3D magazine, though it hasn’t been published as of yet. Even then, it was about Solid Edge… […Read More…]

Stranger in a Strange Land – Epilogue

Posted on June 25th, 2013. Posted In Software Review


Where this was my first user convention that had nothing to do with SolidWorks, I was unsure of what to expect. Would it be as big as SWW? Would it be as fun? Would I end up with foot-in-mouth disease? The answers came slowly. […Read More…]

Stranger in a Strange Land – Day 1, Act II

Posted on June 25th, 2013. Posted In Software Review

My takeaway from this morning, sad though it may be, is that SolidEdge is obsessed with SolidWorks. Specifically, SolidWorks’ customers. I heard no other SolidEdge competitor named. That’s just my perception, however, and it may be a bit biased (though I don’t think so). I can understand it, SolidWorks is a huge target, but one would think Inventor would be in the crosshairs as well.
At lunch, there was a Q & A session for the press with all the muckety-mucks. It was here that I was introduced to Karsten Newbury, SVP and GM of SolidEdge. I was tempted to ask him what the deal was regarding SolidWorks, but he mentioned he’d like to chat later, so I put off asking him, for now.
I did pose the question to another SE employee, who shall remain anonymous, and their response was “wouldn’t you go after number one?” (I paraphrased, but that was the gist.) yes, I would, but singling them out in your presentation seems trite. Again, maybe it’s just me.
I’ll be asking Karsten the question tonight, when we go to the aquarium. I’ll also be doing my best from stopping a certain journalist from kicking penguins.

Stranger in a Strange Land – Day 1

Posted on June 25th, 2013. Posted In Software Review

It’s 7:15 and, due to avisit from Ms. Insomnia, I’ve been up most of the night. I think I got about 2 hours of sleep, which should make things interesting today. Hopefully, I can catch a fewz’s during one of the keynote speeches. I’m mostly kidding. The opening general session is two hours long…
Thus far, my interactions with the natives have been good. No derisive comments, no snobbery, no “neener, neener, neener!” I don’t get the feeling of excitement that one gets at SWW, but that may be due to the fact that I’m not a SolidEdge user. I am interested to hear Adam Stelzer’s keynote. He was the Lead Landing Engineer of the Mars Rover.
I’ve run into some people I know and been able to meet some that I only know through Twitter, including Mr. Burhop, which is always cool.
It’s getting close to general session time, so I’ll sign off for now.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Posted on June 24th, 2013. Posted In Personal,Software Review

Once again I find myself flying to a user conference, but it’s not for SolidWorks as had been the norm for the past 8 years is so. No, this time I’m flying to Cincinnati to attend Solid Edge University.
I have to admit to a bit of apprehension; why would Siemens invite me, a lowly blogger who focuses mainly on SolidWorks, to attend their conference? If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d guess they were going to woo me to their side with promises of fame and fortune. Matt Lombard would be the middleman, telling me all about the treasure that would be mine. Thankfully, I’m not. I’m quite sure the reasons are much more innocent than that. I suspect it has something to do with the article a wrote for Develop3d Magazine about 3DSync. I am interested to see how SEU compares to SWW. Honestly, I don’t have a clue about SEU. Yes, I realize I could have investigated it, but where’s the fun in that? I’m making this into an adventure, my own personal safari in the wilds of Cincinnati. Though, had I looked into it a bit, I might have noticed the blurb about “business casual” earlier than when I was at the airport. I hope jeans and t-shirts count as business casual.
I’ll be tweeting and writing about SEU over the next few days while watching out for Lombard bearing gifts.

It’s Been a While

Posted on June 20th, 2013. Posted In Personal

I’ve been horrible about writing of late. I could give you a bunch of different reasons, but the main one is I’ve just been focusing on life.

I lost my job back in March, and have been searching for work since then. It’s surprising how busy one becomes when unemployed. Every morning I think about what I need to do that day and then, WHAM!, the day is over and I’ve accomplished nothing on my list. Now, too, I have to get past the cabin fever that is setting in. While I could imagine living the life of the idle rich, living the life of the “I-don’t-want-to-be-idle-my-savings-are-dwindling” isn’t any fun.

I did write a review of Siemen’s 3DSync recently, that will be appearing in Develop3D in the not too distant future. Because of the article, or at least that’s my assumption, I’ve been invited to attend SolidEdge University next week. I’m going, but have absolutely no idea what to expect. The one upside is that I already have a title for my post about it. (If anyone from Cincinnati reads this, what is there to do in Cincinnati?)

I’ve also been approached about some other writing gigs as well as possibly doing some training videos. The articles will appear here, after they’ve been printed, so you’ll end up seeing posts that aren’t SolidWorks related. I do hope you find them interesting, though. I guess things are looking up a little.

If you know of anyone looking for help in the Seattle area, send them my way, would ya? I really want to get back to work full-time. You can point them to my LinkedIn Profile, or just have them email me.

My.SolidWorks.com – Growing Up

Posted on April 8th, 2013. Posted In SolidWorks Community

My.SolidWorks browse view

Last week, my.soldiworks.com exited beta testing and is now a full-fledged site. What is my.solidworks.com? I’m quite sure I touched upon it during world, but let’s go over it just in case, shall we?

In a nutshell, it’s like an electronic funnel for just about all things SolidWorks. You can find answers to questions or see latest posts from the SolidWorks forums. It’s all part of the 3D experience that Dassault has been espousing of late. Their plan is to add more services over time, while consolidating web properties, thereby making it easier to find what you’re looking for, be it insight, help or a place to share and discover.

Currently, the sources for my.solidworks.com are the SolidWorks forums, YouTube channel, Twitter feed, SolidWorks Blog and SolidWorks Teacher Blog, with plans to add more sources as time goes on. The Search sources include everything I just mentioned (aside from Twitter), and the online help with the SolidWorks Knowledge Base to be added ASAP. They also plan on adding mobile capabilities and an add-in to SolidWorks itself soon.

You’re able to filter what you want to see, or not see, bookmark articles for later reading or share them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or via email. There really is a ton of stuff up there right now to peruse through.

The obvious question is: is it any good? Frankly, I’m on the fence right now. I haven’t played with it too much, but there just seems to be a lot of stuff and it’s not readily apparent where the stuff came from. Not that I’m implying the sources aren’t good. I think, for me anyway, it’d be nice to know where an article came from. Then again, maybe I’m just being overly picky. I just think it’d be nice to have some more headers up there or something…

That all being said, go and check it out for yourself and then let me know what you think.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to play with a few different computer systems; Xi, Boxx, HP and Dell. While the first three were desktops, and pretty much equal, the Dell is my M4600 and a bit lesser than the others. Unlike other hardware reviews, I’m not going to list the system specs. Why? Well, the Xi and HP were work computers and, sadly, I’m no longer employed and don’t have access to the specs any longer. Dammit. Also, I’m not a hard core hardware guy like others I know (Charles & Anna). When all is said and done, I want a computer that does what I need it to do without giving me a headache. Three out of the four did/do just that.

Let’s start with my Dell M4600. It’s my everyday workhorse. It’s what I write these incredibly in-depth blog posts on. It’s what I do my surfing on. My software testing. My Facebooking and much of my tweeting. While it’s not as fast as the three desktops, I have had only two issues with all of the Dells that I’ve used over the years. One was a BIOS issue and, just last week, two of my USB ports started screwing up. In both cases, Dell tech support responded quickly and extremely satisfactorily. I know that others have had less than stellar experiences with Dell, but that hasn’t been my experience. Honestly, I just love my Dell just as I loved my past ones. My sons now use my 5-year old Dell, God help it.

Next is the Boxx 4050 Xtreme Series, which I just sent back to them. What an incredible machine! I mean it was absolutely rock solid and fast. I will admit that it’s a bit tough to go back to using SolidWorks on my Dell after experiencing the Boxx. If I remember correctly, it had a Windows Experience rating of 7.1, with graphics and processor both at 7.9. Speaking of graphics, they were incredible thanks to the Quadro2000 graphics card. It was a quiet computer, too. Where it was speeding along, I expected the cooling fans to be louder than the dull hum that I did hear. I think the biggest drawback is the ~$4,000 price tag attached to it. That can be quite a bit to swallow, especially for smaller companies. The upside is you get what you pay for; Boxx loaded this thing. There was something like 12 USB ports on it! Seriously, who needs that many peripherals? I so wish I could have kept it, but it’s way outside my budget.

The HP Z420 was a solid machine. Obviously, it wasn’t as fast as the Boxx, but it was fast enough for what I needed. I believe its Windows Experience rating was about 7.0 with only the processor sitting at 7.9 (SolidState Drive). It, too, was a very quiet machine. I really liked it and, if memory serves me correctly, it was only around $2,000 with the upgrades we put in. Well worth the money and a great value for what you get. I’ve heard, though, that they can be a bit temperamental and can be prone to slowdowns. In the short time I used it, I didn’t experience slowdowns, but did have one graphics glitch which disappeared with a restart.

Last is the Xi. Out of the box this was a demon child. As soon as I started it, one of the cooling fans was making noise. I called tech support and got them to send me another fan. No bueno. Still had the noise upon startup. Thankfully, as the machine warmed up the sound would lessen. After going back and forth with them, and opening up the box a few times, I was able to determine that it was the fan on the cooling tower that was causing the issue. I couldn’t quite figure out why, when it was a mechanical issue, that the sound would lessen after warming up. Nonetheless, that issue was finally fixed. The fan didn’t stop me from using the Xi, and it was fast computer. Its Windows Experience was around 7.0, with the processor and graphics up around 7.7. The graphics were excellent. Then I got a BSOD. I haven’t seen one in 10+ years and never on a brand new computer. What got me though way Xi’s customer service. Their cavalier attitude about it (“these things happen”) really didn’t sit well with me at all. I lost complete confidence in the computer and the company, and returned the computer. I’m still a bit torqued that they were so “meh” about the BSOD. What does that say about their product that something like that would appear to be routine? Needless to say, I won’t be buying from them in the future.

If I were to rate them based on performance, it’d be: Boxx, HP, Dell, Xi.

If I were to rate them based on reliability, it’d be: Dell, Boxx/Hp, Xi

If I were to rate them based on preference, it’d be: Boxx, Dell, Hp, Xi

These are my opinions. Take ’em or leave ’em.

This interview has been a long time coming. I first reached out to Mark back in September, but I didn’t mark his response and it got buried. I apologized to Mark for my disorganization. He, graciously, accepted my apology. Without further ado, let’s learn about Mr. Mark Lyons.

Mark Lyons

Mark grew up in Marlboro, Massachusetts as one of 10 kids in a blended family. Home life, as one might imagine, was a bit chaotic. He loved sports, focusing on baseball, had three paper routes and spent whatever free time he had at the Marlboro Boys & Girls club or fishing. One of his most vivid memories was when he was 15 and playing on a travelling basketball team. They went to play against another team out of Cambridge who had a player that stood 6′ 11″ at 15-years old. This player constantly knocked Mark’s shot attempts, sending them into the stands. Mark’s team lost to the Cambridge team and their star player, Patrick Ewing, that day.

Mark attended Assabet Valley Vocational High School with plans on learning printing. His family had a print shop in town and he planned on joining the family business. Part of the curriculum at Assabet required that students look at other trades and one of those happened to be drafting. Turns out, Mark was pretty good at it and opted for drafting as career.

After graduating from high school, he opted to join the workforce forgoing college. He worked began working at Hypertronics in Hudson, MA. His quick promotion to Drafting Department Supervisor, at the tender age of 18, was proof that he’d made the right decision.

From Hypertronics, he moved on to Digital Equipment and Prime Computer. Both of whom offered education reimbursement, which afforded Mark the opportunity to go to night school for Mechanical Engineering. Quite the go-getter, Mr. Lyons. It was also at these companies that he was got his first taste of CAD. Unigraphics and then Prime Medusa.

Mark’s career took off at this point. He went to work as a Senior Mechanical Designer at Bose. He worked designing speaker housings for automobiles, mainly supporting GM. His designs could be found in Cadillac, Camaro, Olds, Mercedes and Mazda. At the time, circa 1988, Bose hadn’t moved to CAD. Mark helped change that, though it was a bit before they were using a 3D package (Unigraphics). Being able to truly design in 3D Mark was moved around to various teams to design. He created designs for the first generation noise cancelling headphones as well as the Wave Radio.

The next natural step for Mark was to give back. Assabet recruited him to teach drafting. Talk about coming full circle, eh? He started teaching manual drafting, the AutoCAD. He spent 10 years teaching, getting the school involved in the FIRST robotics program while he was at it. During his off time, Mark had started playing golf, becoming quite good at it. He left teaching and went to work in the golf industry, as a player and teacher. After trying it for a time, he returned to teaching at Bay Path Tech in Charlton, MA. Again, teaching drafting in both AutoCAD and SolidWorks. Three years later, a position opened up at SolidWorks and Mark took it. In his words, he is “the 2D guy”. He is the DraftSight Training Specialist. He creates training material for Draftsight and loves it.

In his down time, Mark loves to spend time with his wife and kids. He also enjoys golfing, fishing and watching the New England Patriots. That, alone, makes him a-ok in my book.


Picture stolen from 3ds.com.

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