Sometimes Old Is Better

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dsc00040.JPGI've been working on my 1963 TR4 over the last few weeks.  Total rebuild of the front and rear suspension.  What strikes me everytime I purchase parts is how great the web site is at Moss Motors for finding and buying parts (http://mossmotors.com/Shop/ViewProducts.aspx?PlateIndexID=29142). Certianly the images are done the old fassion way and therefore you can't rotate and zoom in, but being able to get at the level of detail they have is great.  I only wish I could interact with the data in 3D, see an animation of the assembly step, get dimensional data, find information such as torques, and see the assembly within the whole car…  Well that is what Seemage would add to this site...

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Those guys really “get it”

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Last week, I blogged from Microsoft’s EMEA partner summit. It’s been very busy since I returned, but I wanted to take a moment to tell you all about the experience I had of having a roundtable with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The topic of discussion among Steve and the partners was “the impact of government policy on innovation.”

Far from being transparent on this topic, I think Steve was genuinely engaged with the partners in the room (all of whom except for me were European partners) and what struck me most was how engaged and attentive this guy was to everything that was said.

For our part at Seemage, we think Microsoft really “gets it” now in our space, and is bringing to bear all its astonishing technological capabilities to really help customers manage and collaborate on all kinds ...

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Use Whatever CAD You Want – CAD versus Mockup

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multicad.jpg

I was just reading the comment from R Weztel on "Wishful Thinking" (http://www.3dmojo.com/2006/10/16/wishful-thinking/#comments) and I got thinking about something I have long been thinking about…  Is CAD a Component design tool or an Assembly/Product design tool????  The CAD companies would certianly tell you it is a Product design tool, but after you visit 100's of cusotmers and look at their woking practices you find they constrain the tools to Component design tools.  A great example of this is the RULE many customers have about "Assembly Features (Features made in the assembly mode of the CAD system)".  NOT ALLOWED!  This is very interesting because the functionality is very powerful.  But the confussion of relations it creates reek havoc in the user community…

The reality is modern ...

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Industrial art, Seemage genre

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The other day, I was watching a Seemage animation of how to put a wooden puzzle back together. And I was struck by two things. First (and obviously), I was impressed with how much more easily I was able to learn to do the puzzle. That's what this amazing new technology is all about, I thought. Then, a second realization came to me: "This is really beautiful. It's almost like an art form."

This second idea got me thinking about industrial art. And while machine-created animations about machines aren't new, Seemage adds something new to the art form, something new enough to warrant a genre (and a place) all its own.

In short, I'm fascinated by this stuff. Check out the one below we posted on YouTube. We're thinking about making a series out of it...

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My Seemage moment

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So, there's always the abstract argument — and I've been learning a lot making that argument here — for product information everyware.

Then, there's the reality of knowing how PIE could make a difference for customers and companies.  I was struck by that last week…here's the story:

I have a ThinkPad which I love because these products aren't just assemblies of commodity components. They have been heavily engineered (at least the IBM-developed model I use was). And there's a long tradition of excellent product support in IBM hardware products, coming from the mainframe days. In fact, one of the unseen advantages of pre-Lenovo ThinkPads was that IBM's service approach to them was largely the same approach it took towards its high-end equipment.

I needed a new CD-ROM/DVD drive...

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Getting good information to the herd

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Chris, who as you can see has been "suffering" in the south of France at a Microsoft executive event Cool, didn't completely forget about the rest of us. Yesterday, he sent me a link to a long but well-written post that poses some interesting questions about how you might, for example, service well a product via outsourced telecenters in India.

One question the writer raises is something we believe strongly we have the answer to:

"Firms like Dell Computer which depend upon call center functions have already determined that foreigners who speak impeccable English (possibly better English than some Americans) may still not understand customers and provide acceptable service...

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Microsoft understands it’s all about people

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ms.jpg

I'm here at the Microsoft Executive Partner Summit (eps) in the South of France, Canne.  Beyond the weather and food being great it is clear that Microsoft understands organizational value and enterprise performance is fueled by people.  From technology to marketing Microsoft is focused on people.  The ads are great and the solutions are better.  At Seemage we are 100% focused on technology that drives individual productivity and this is why we are so excited to be supporting Microsoft in the launch of Vista. 

Look for us on stage at a Vista launch coming to you soon.

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Wishful thinking

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I had no sooner finished my earlier post today on the myopic nature of the CAD world than I ran across this post from the CEO of Alibre lamenting the slow pace of conversion to 3D.

I know why Greg is frustrated. [But at least he isn't trying to get AEC users to 3D. Talk about impossible! Manufacturers get the the benefits of 3D directly (whether you believe there are any or not…and I do). In AEC, the benefits are dispersed along a supply chain from architects to constructors, diluting any apparent benefits.]

But, ramblings aside, what really struck me about Greg's post is that Alibre and all the others are still battling for the CAD dollar in a saturated market...

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What does geometry mean to a marketer?

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As part of my usual routine of preparing topics to blog about on 3DMojo.com, I have a Bloglines list of the CAD blog world. (If you haven't seen Bloglines yet, you should check it out. It's a wonderful way to organize your blog world, IMHO).

What struck me this morning is how internally focused all the CAD blogs are. I couldn't find one post — not one — that talked about the relevance of 3D information to anyone outside the engineering world.

The best I could find is someone who got a free lunch from the AutoCAD team (how far off into the Z axis do you think that lunchtime discussion was?) from an Autodesk blogger who got to stay in a hotel with beauty contestants

While everyone enjoys a good human-interest story, even more interesting is this survey from Roopinder Tara in which not on...

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Pay attention to Mother Wikipedia

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There are a lot of folks who think that Wikipedia often gets it wrong. I am not one of them. In my experience, especially in tech, it's usually pretty authoritative. For things like politics, I am sure there's bias, but it's usually pretty easily seen.

So, today, I was poking around in the definition of product visualization. It's been recently updated, and one quote really caught my eye:

"People from many disciplines and with varying requirements across an organisation need to view and manipulate product data in different ways. CAD is the traditional tool of the engineer who needs to create and edit the geometry, but others need to see this data or convey information in other ways to that of the engineer" 

That kind of says it all, doesn't it? In short, even the Wikipedia editors reali...

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The CAD doctor is in…run for your life!

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We're not the only ones to have a field day with Airbus's problems with the A380. Now — surprise, surprise! — the CEO has resigned after only three months in the role. I know CEOs (mostly of tech companies) and, of course, I've worked for a few. These aren't people who resign after 90 days unless they think the situation is so hopeless they see no other alternative. (It's interesting, though, isn't it, that there's never a shortage of replacements ready to take on the role today someone else thought was impossible yesterday.)

Anyway, I feel badly for Airbus specifically and the EU in general for becoming the poster-child for an inability to overcome business nationalism. After all, Airbus was about building an European alternative to Boeing, not a French, Spanish, German and/or British o...

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Drive-thru PLM?

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Chris sent me a link last week to Dassault's announcement of CATIA PLM Express, asking (rhetorically, of course) if this was like "drive-thru PLM".  That is, does it taste good, but leave your product engineering effort short of nutrition?

Maybe…but one this is for sure. Whenever an enterprise company talks "express" or "small business edition" you can be certain of two things. First, you are going to get all the technical baggage of the enterprise system. And, second, whatever they've "removed" or "reduced" to differentiate the small business version from the enterprise version is certain to be the one or two things you really want or need...

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CAD unplugged

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Sometimes, it's better said by someone else. We've been going on at some length here about why 3D design data is a corporate resource and why it should be — actually must be — part of the very fabric of what manufacturers do in their businesses.

But in an email exchange with a reporter whose readers are interested in manufacturability, we got this comment:

"Most of our readers live in a world where they’ll take part geometry in whatever format they can get it so that the process of CNC programming can begin. A common complaint is that the geometry is poorly suited for this purpose. Beyond that, the world of CAD and PLM and all that is somewhat remote. "

Read it again…slowly. "The world of CAD and PLM is somewhat remote...

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“SOA” means lots of little explosions all over your company

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As an old programmer and wanna-be geek, I must say that I think distributed systems are way cool.

But, for the life of me, I can't make heads-or-tails of the idea of SOA in CAD and PLM as promulgated by Dassault.

Their "vision" of SOA seems to be about breaking down very-high-function client applications so they can be hosted on WebSphere. Well, that's great for IBM, of course, but it doesn't seem to make any logical sense to me. None at all.

CAD designs aren't "processes" that exist out on some network somewhere that — for scalability reasons — need to be repeatedly called or which need grid-level hardware support to be executed in small little pieces. After all, engineers sit at a machine and design things...

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Babel, European style

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It looks like I wasn't the only one thinking about the impact of non-mutually-intelligble CAD systems and their effect on EADS's A380. Both this post and, in particular, this Bloomberg story, have the gritty details. Suffice it to say that despite being "one company," German and French CAD systems kept their own identities inside Airbus despite the overwhelmingly obvious need to integrate them.

In short, it created an engineering tower of Babel, which has cost billions. Clearly, this will become the subject of many business school case studies.

The real question is, what now? While we don't know specifically what Airbus is doing, it's probably a good guess that they are not integrating CAD systems in the middle of this megaproject...

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Not to pile on too much…

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…but you simply have to wonder if the continuing problems on the A380 are the most vivid example possible of the cost of not using 3D design data as a corporate information resource.

I'm no aeronautical engineer. But even as an amateur, I have a kind of wide-eyed appreciation for the complexity of this undertaking.  And I don't want to sound critical of EADS or its CAD suppliers.

But I think everyone would agree that the unique multi-country ownership structure of EADS has determined a supply chain reality that is very different from what a normal supply chain might look like. (Apparently, Boeing is doing much the same with the 787.)

My question is: could the wiring delays, which as far as I understand it are about coordination along the supply chain, have been reduced or even eliminated...

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LAME Ain’t no MCAD Excuse

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Yesterday, Ralph Grabowski wrote in upFront.eZine (#488, I think…the current one isn't on the website as I write this) about the fidelity of CAD files produced by the TTF technology coming in Acrobat 3D.

That got me to thinking about whether or not CAD file fidelity makes any difference…which in turn got me to thinking about MP3.

Audiophiles routinely despise MP3, accusing it of introducing "digital artifacts" to the music along with other nasty impacts on the "purity" of the music. But MP3 has achieved through ubiquity an astonishing expansion of the uses of music. From portable digital players to podcasting, MP3 as a universal format has never been about exact fidelity. Instead it's about collaboration. And I mean a very broadly defined definition of collaboration in which people can a...

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How’d you like to kill a product you haven’t shipped yet?

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This week, we're taking a look at the economic impact of not having product information everyware, especially when it comes to the the most important thing your company does: getting its product out the door.

Today's speculation focuses on Sony's new PlayStation 3 console. If you have any doubt about the importance of this product to Sony, just keep in mind that Sony shipped 2.5M units in their Q1.

Now, Sony has announced that it has delayed shipping the PS3 in Europe, cut the price in Japan and added an important new feature, HDMI.

I suspect that the HDMI feature isn't being added to the PS3. Instead, I suspect that HDMI was always in plan…but as a new model, an enhancement to the shipping version. In essence, Sony is killing the first release of the product before it even ships.

We've ...

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Is being serious enough?

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I know it’s not that smart to stand in front of a marketing juggernaut (unless, of course, it’s the one we’ve got rolling here at Seemage).

And while the hint of forward progress is pretty clear this time, I still just don’t understand all the adulation being thrown at Acrobat 8. The leading CAD blogs are alive with the news that Adobe is “serious” about 3D this time. At least two different posts (one here ; the other here) are repeating this theme.

It’s gonna be no surprise to the readers of this blog (and by the way, thank you to those of you who’ve been reading and to those who’ve subscribed to our FeedBurner feed) that we think there’s a big difference between the attempt and the reality.

What’s upside down about all this coveage of Acrobat 8…what’s lost in all the talk about this new...

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Come see us at ASUG

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One of the best examples of our vision of product information everyware is when Seemage is used with SAP systems. Because the Seemage system isn't about visualization, but instead is about the delivery of 3D design information to the user in the exact form and place it's needed, Seemage is the ideal integration mechanism between SAP enterprise systems and the 3D design repository.

Chris Williams, our CEO, will be presenting on this topic at tomorrow's ASUG meeting in Dallas, TX.

May I make two suggestions? First, make sure to catch Chris's presentation to learn more about the ways that SAP systems reach new levels of effectiveness when Seemage is the integration point for 3D digital design data...

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Shopping anyone?

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Over at CAD Insider, Roopinder Tara has posted an interesting poll: "Why Do You Buy CAD Software?

I must say, this is a lot of fun. It's one of those questions — along with "why are humans on the planet" — that's puzzled me ever since I first got into the industry. And there are more than a few giants in the industry (can you spell A-D-S-K?) who can't really tell you why anybody is buying from them except they got lucky with two decades ago, had a hit and now live off the fact that CAD is the ultimate "sticky" app.

Interestingly, the list of items in the poll sheds light on what's next for users, and ultimately technology companies looking for Act II.

Check out #11: Ability to read/write existing company design data. 

You won't be surprised to hear we think that should be numero uno...

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You heard it here first: PIE aren’t round, PIE are good for your 3D data

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Next big thing

Funny thing about technology…everyone always says, "we are going to have to move slowly, deliberately towards" [you fill in the blank here with the name of the disruptive CAD technology].

And it does, indeed, start slowly. But then, there's a moment when the next generation has crept up and become so ubiquitous that nobody even remembers they didn't think it would happen.

I saw this up close and personal in the AEC part of the CAD world. For years, people told me that 3D in AEC would never happen. I remember being in the room when Dave Lemont invented the term "Building Information Modeling" and the others there (except for me, of course) said, "Ugh..feh! Do you mean 'building' as a gerund or a verb?" They hated it…and ridiculed me for promoting what was an inspired description of the nex...

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Savior? Or Soma vendor?

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What to make of the news that Right Hemisphere is the recipient of New Zealand government largess?

At least one blog I've been reading from NZ is, as you might expect, all for government funding of technology companies.

I'm not so sure, however. Make no mistake about it, having funding is the life-blood of any startup. And I do understand that many countries outside the US have, as a matter of policy, industrial policies that encourage high-technology with direct government support.

But (and those of you who are reading this outside the USA can now roll your eyes), I believe that real innovation in technology comes from the brutality of the marketplace. And part of that brutality is the discipline that commerically-motivated investors bring to their funding decisions.

I am not saying that...

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Eye candy, or data vs. documents

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Yesterday, my colleagues and I sat through a webinar presented by Adobe on 3D PDF. I gotta say, I feel really sorry for the poor folks at Adobe who scheduled this thing. On the original date, they had "technical difficulties" that forced it to be rescheduled for yesterday. Yesterday's presentation could be said to have been just short of a disaster for them as the demo couldn't be seen. Hey, this happens to all of us.

But there was enough content (just barely) to get me to thinking about the real differences among the approaches our competitors take to leveraging 3D information.

The fundamental model of Adobe 3D is…drum roll, please…a document. Surprised? Not really, I am sure.

What we could see of the demo showed… "get it into a portable document format, then collaborate on the document"...

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I’d like a #2 meal with a large side of 3D, please

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Today, we want to ask you to consider the downside of ideas like "immersive product development" when these ideas become a kind of code-word for "single-vendor solutions". Or what we'd call single-vendor dependency.

Ideas like IPD are fine…we're all for it. But they are concepts and frameworks. It's the fiduciary responsibility of the evaluators of these concepts to make sure they don't take the easy way out and simply order a "#2 meal, large size, with a diet CAD system" like you would a value meal at a fast food chain.

Implementation of these end-to-end concepts is what's important, and implementing them successfully requires multi-vendor solutions...

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