Landing at New Orleans airport, the lady seated next to me asked if I was attending the IBM convention.
"IBM convention? No, the SoldWorks convention."
"Oh," she apologized. "It's just that you look like you're from IBM."
Must be my beard that gives me the IBM look.
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Internet access is going to be limited to the Press room at the convention center, because the wireless network is overwhelmed, and the Hilton-everything-is-a-service-charge-Hotel charges $13 a day for Internet access. ($250 extra if someone lights up in your non-smoking room. 75 cents for USA today. And the list goes on.) Hey! I thought New Orleans was trying to recover itself a tourist destination.
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From other blogs, you've probably read about a SolidWorks competitor running ads all over the city promoting the count of its users. Considering how much software that company bundles together (4 or so) in one package, I'd like to go mano-a-mano over copies shipped vs actually in use. Huh!
Curious. I didn’t see any such ads at the PTC event two weeks ago. SolidWorks must be the one this competitor really fears.
The first keynote showed off some features of SolidWorks 2008, which'll be shown in greater detail on Wednesday. Some new features:
-editing during hyper-realistic rendering of the model, including shadows and mirror-like reflection off the modeling plane.
- slimmer UI, with more tools appearing at the pont of modeling.
- and some that *ahem* were already found in AutoCAD last year, like live sectioning and pushpull (PressPull). What's nicer about the SolidWorks presspull is that a ruler-like indicator shows up, so you can see how far to press into the model or push out -- without guessing.
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Colonel Lewis Setliff, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers, was the "surprise" keynote speaker. He talks about the engineering effort to rebuild the southern United States after Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is surrounded by the ocean and lakes, with the downtown below sea level. The city is built on unique soil that is sinking inches per decade. The hurricane pushed a 20-foot wall of water against the land facing Gulf of Mexico. 80% of New Orleans was under water for weeks, resulting in $75 billion in damage.
His job was to rebuild the levees, pump stations, etc, by 1 June, the start of the next hurricane season, which thankfully did not arrive. The engineering effort was amazing, and he received a standing ovation. Still, there is the nagging question of why rebuild in this location?
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Also announced today is http://labs.solidworks.com with four initial projects that you can get you hands on:
1. DWGviewer Now -- I think it's an AJAX file viewer. So now we know why the competitor was advertising around this city. Maybe a better ad slogan would've been, "SolidWorks user: come home." Heh.
2. DWGNavigator -- with 3D Vista-like interface for viewing DWG files, pack and go (archiving), save in any version of DWG.
3. COSMOSexpressNow -- online testing of 3D sold models.
4. ZoomIn -- a bigger version of eDrawings. Reads "any" CAD file format, does assemblies of CAD parts, add backgrounds, animations, viewovers, sound clips, exploded views, export in several formats. Looks like some SolidWorks 2008 technology migrated to a simpler (free?) tool.
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Also demo'ed during the keynote was new technology from Liquid Machines: it prevents you from opening a Rev-A drawing when a Rev-B drawing exists.
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Oopsie of the morning. Great piece on MIT student engineers trying to create a 200mpg commuter vehicle. Spokeswoman refers to the thousands in the keynote hall, and the "six thousand in the whole world!" (She meant 6 billion.) That's okay.
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So, who's the blogger now?
I had to chuckle at one of the official SolidWorks employee bloggers writing about the media at this event. He wrote something along the lines of "SolidWorks World will have journalists who will bring you the information, and bloggers who will bring you the news."
Sheesh, if that's SolidWorks marketing’s idea of how the media world is divided, there's some educatin' that's gotta get on. Memo: journalists are also bloggers, but bloggers are not necessarily journalists.
It’s too bad when a really exciting product is the very first one that I get to see at a show. Could make a bit of a letdown for the rest of the week. Bunkspeed’s Tomas Tager showed me their near-instant radiosity rendering software priced at $495 and up.
Hate placing lights for rendering? Stick in a photograph and the software determines where the lights should be positioned.
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This is not your father’s redlining tool. Seemage’s Chris Williams showed me his company’s technical 3D and 2D publishing software. In particular, I noted the “Digger”, an innovative UI addition that digs through the model, casting aside parts that are in front – kind of like an intelligent slicing plane. The Digger UI is a circle with a number of controls on the circumference, such as lights, transparency controls, etc.
Also of note, the Tab key. As you pass the cursor over parts, they highlight; press Tab to remove the part from the view.
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My head is still buzzing from the nitro-powered racer SolidWorks showed off in the parking lot. After getting it running on alcohol, the driver reved it on nitro twice before several head bolts blew out.
The design still has a ways to go, and the world’s only 4-cylinder nitro racer has been under development for ten years. Why four cylinder? So that it is lighter and hence faster than eight-cylinder models.