SASPUG turns 20!

Posted on March 16th, 2016. Posted In SolidWorks Community

Last night we celebrated the Seattle Area SolidWorks Power User Group’s (SASPUG) 20th anniversary and, from what I’ve heard, a good time was had by all. […Read More…]

SolidWorks World 2013 Wrapup

Posted on January 24th, 2013. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I’m 35,000 feet above the U.S. in a plane fighting headwinds that are going to cause me to be 35 minutes late, which they didn’t tell us until after we were airborne.  On the one hand I want to curse United for not having WiFi on board, but where I somehow ended up in economy plus (awesome amount of legroom and extra tilt when reclining), I’m going to call it a wash. I just hope my ride waits for me.

SolidWorks World 2013 was as I remember SolidWorks World to be; lots of walking, lots of people, lots of cool tech, lots of info and little sleep. All of that adds up to an excellent time. Mostly.

Let’s start with the downside of this year’s event. As many people pointed out live, during the morning general sessions, the partner talks were tedious. We, the captive audience, understand that these large companies fork out huge sums of money in support of SolidWorks World and, because of that, it keeps attendee fees down and allows for the special events, among other things. They should get their time on the big stage to toot their own horns. Aside from nvidia, the other presentations were so absolutely mind-numbing. Nvidia’s wasn’t much better, but enough so to make it stand out in my mind. I don’t remember what the others even talked about, but I do remember that nvidia helps with the graphics in Tesla automobiles. I think it’s important for these partners to remember that they’re going to be talking to a room full of pumped up people. The energy is always so high when everyone is in there. The partners need to feed that energy. Stay away from your boardroom presentations. Pump up the music, get excited yourself and entertain us! Getting up there and talking to us like we actually want to hear what you have to say only causes us to tune you out.

While I’m driving this bus, let’s talk about what I saw as another major faux pas. The SolidWorks community lost one of its greatest champions last year, Wayne Tiffany. Wayne was an incredible individual and was honored on Tuesday, and rightfully so. His sons were there, Richard Doyle was on stage fighting tears, as we’re many of us in the audience. This heartwarming moment was sandwiched in between two sponsor presentations. I took exception to this, as did others. To follow up something so poignant with a sales pitch was wrong. Sorry, SolidWorks, you dropped the ball on that one.

I’ve already bitched about Bernard’s boardroom financials seminar he put on Monday, so let’s move on to all the good that happened.

Monday’s special guests were Sage Cheshire Aerospace, the team that allowed for Felix Baumgarter to break the speed of sound while free falling from the edge of space. What these guys did will help advance future record breaking attempts. The fact that SolidWorks played a played a part in it is icing on the cake.

Tuesday, we were given a sneak preview of Skynet. Dr. Vijay Kumar, Engineering Professor at the University of Pennsylvania  showed us how his autonomous quadcopters simply do as they’re told. No specific leader, just a common goal to accomplish. You should really check out this video from day 2. My question is this: how long before they become aware?
Thankfully, that was all tempered by the next customer, Festo. Elias Knubben, Head of Corporate Bionic Projects,talked about Festo’s bionic division and how they work to mimic nature as close as possible. In this video, you’ll see a robotic bird flying. Not with propellers, not with jet engines. With wings that move just like a bird’s. God forbid those birds become autonomous like the quadcopters. It gives me shivers just thinking about it. Someone needs to alert John Connor.

Wednesday was all about kids building rockets. Tom Atchison, of Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation, told us the story of how his foundation is helping kids learn about space by building rockets. Kids. Building rockets. Man, where was this guys when I was a kid? You can check out the whole video here.

While I missed the usual special guest speaker, and another year of it not being Jessica Alba, what I did really enjoy was that all of the speakers were SolidWorks users. That was something that has been missing in past sessions. The ways that people are using SolidWorks excites me, makes me want to learn, and do, more.

I hope that at next year’s SWW, SolidWorks thinks a bit more about the attendees’ experience during the general sessions and helps the sponsors keep the energy levels high with exciting presentations and not boring, boardroom presentations.

That being said, man was it good being back at world. Thank you, SolidWorks, for the invite to SolidWorks World. I had a blast!


Its like its the day after Christmas; all the toys have been played with, food and drink consumed and the relatives have left. Now, I just have this weird empty feeling. Not as bad as losing your best friend, though. Close, but

As Ive come to expect, SolidWorks put on a great show. I really liked the layout of the Anaheim Convention Center. I didnt feel like I had to walk miles to get to wherever my destination was. Which isnt to say I didnt do a lot of walking, cause I did. Im quite confident that I lost a couple of pounds. Well, extremely hopeful anyway. As has become the norm these past few years, I spent more time observing than attending with most of my observing taking place in the Vendor Fair. Its here that I thank those companies that have given me the opportunity to try out their products, while meeting with new companies. The amount of partner products out there is pretty impressive. There are times when I want to say theres an app for that, then look over my shoulder to be sure the Apple police arent coming after me for copyright infringement. This years Vendor Fair was well attended by vendors from all segments of the industry: rapid prototyping, CMM, CAM, PLM, PDM, etc. Need a model of a human body for your Weird Science experiment? Zygote has your back (and frontleft foot). Design automation? DriveWorks or TactonWorks will duke it out for your business. How about a new computer? Boxx, HP and Dell will regale you with stories of why there PC kicks the other guys butt! What about a cool 3D model of your completed Weird Science experiment? Zcorp, Objet or Solido would be more than happy to impart their wondrous knowledge of all that is 3D printing upon you.

One of the greatest things about SolidWorks 2010 was the arena where the general assemblies were held. Rather than a large conference room where the people in back had to stand to see, the Anaheim convention center had an arena with 2nd and 3rd level seating. I think this helped to get everyone close to the stage. It also seemed to lessen the running of people to get to the front of the venue. A lot of people seemed quite happy to sit in one of the upper levels. James Cameron was a great choice as the keynote, too. Much better than Wozniak a few years ago.

Id say my biggest complaint was the Tuesday night event, a complaint that is being voiced by many. It was held in the same huge room that we ate breakfast and lunch in and was really a step down from previous years. An Aerosmith cover band was the entertainment and BBQ was the food. For a 3D software conference event, it was rather one dimensional. Too loud, too dark, too few seats, too few food choices. Im trying to find out why there was such a deviation from years past. If I get anything, Ill let you know.

Would any of the above stop me from going to San Antonio next year? Hell no! I think the plusses way outweigh the negatives and wouldnt miss it for anything. I hope to see you there.

SolidWorks World – February 2, 2010

Posted on February 3rd, 2010. Posted In SolidWorks Community

Wow, what a day its been; not that its actually over yet. I just returned to my room to relax a little bit before heading over to Jon Hirschtick’s room. He was kind enough to invite the Twitterverse over and Im not one to turn down such an invitation.

Right now, this is turning out to be the best SolidWorks World I’ve been to yet. Why? Honestly I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it’s the venue. Maybe it’s the people. Maybe it’s James Cameron. Maybe
All I know is that I’ve woken up each day raring to go. Looking forward to seeing what the day has in store. Part of it could be the fact that I’ve remained sober every night, but I think that’s a small part of it. I’ve just felt really comfortable this year, almost like I’m at home. Whatever it is, I’m lovin’ it!

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty, shall we? Today was the day for James Cameron. Much like Sir Richard Branson last year, Jim was interviewed instead of just speaking to us. Jon Hirschtick had the honor and did a damn fine job. I was simply amazed at Cameron’s grasp of engineering, among other things. The guy is brilliant. We got to see an 8-minute behind-the-scenes video of the making of Avatar. I was really impressed with the technology they used. Each actor had a small camera, attached to a small boom, recording their every facial move. I remember talking about how realistic the facial expressions where after seeing the movie, now I know why. The innovations that were created before, and during, the making of Avatar will probably change movie-making, as well as TV. I think it will be a good thing. Imagine being able to feel immersed in every show like you did when you saw Avatar. If you haven’t seen it, what the hell are you waiting for?

I spent more time in the vendor pavilion, lining up more products to review for all of you. Coming in the not-too-distant future will be DriveWorks Solo and ElecWorks. Ill be meeting up with SolidNEST tomorrow to, hopefully, line something up with them as well. Ive had conversations with the guys from and will be loading up their software soon as well. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that Dell might be sending toys my way, too. All-in-all, the review cycle looks to be heating up.

My very first solo presentation went well, I believe. I’m optimistic that SolidWorks Crashes & Slowdowns was well received. I was damn nervous at the beginning, and admitted as much to the audience which, by the way, was much larger than I’d thought it would be. The session was also on a live feed, so there were people watching me that I couldnt see. (Hmmm, thats actually kind of creepy when you think about it.)The bonus to it being broadcast is that I’ll get a recording of my session. I’m sure my boys will love watching it with me once I get it. It’ll provide plenty of material for a pick-on-dad session.

Next came Stump the Chumps II. So far, we’ve been hearing nothing but good things so far. However, I’m waiting for Mr. Doyle to weigh in. We’re also thinking of a format change for STC III. It’ll involve coolers of beer and the movie Animal House. I dont want to give up all the details though. Just keep an eye out when they release next year’s agenda.

Every year there’s plenty of shwag to bring home to the kids. I have to say, though, that this year’s haul is the best yet. First, Ill never be short handed again thanks to Solido:

Next, from Julie at Z Corp, is my new friend, Jane:

Today is the last day of SolidWorks World 2010. Bummer.

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