About Me

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Ewloe, United Kingdom
Writing, tweeting, debating and occasionally getting a little over-excited about 3D Printing. But always aiming to keep it real!

Thursday 27 January 2011

I Don't Dispute the Value of Exhibitions and Events, But ....

the chatter emanating from Texas — SolidWorks World 2011 — this week has been prolific, and, to put it bluntly, largely irrelevant.

Whether it is in the form of blogs or tweets, often both, the "information" hitting the net is more representative of the social- / celeb-centric world that we live in rather than any applicable business / software solutions for everyman! There may have been one or two notable exceptions.

SolidWorks World has a tradition of being the place to be in January for any serious reporters/Editors in the 3D software sector. It still is, apparently, but it's no longer an exercise in reporting on new developments and applications, rather it is a flimsy excuse for a piss-up — or should that be piss-take — with plenty of bitchy comments flying around.

Kevin Bacon's appearance on stage seems to have been the highlight, although it seems no one there could work out why! (That little snippet, however, has subsequently been topped by Will.i.am's appearance for Intel.) Interested parties can also find plenty of information on boring sessions and glazed eyes all round, bets taken between delegates to break the tedium, and an endless description of what they are all eating and drinking. Soooooo not interested!!!

Seems pointless all round really, particularly the unnecessary (and extensive) addition to the T&E budgets of the media.

Surprised — hardly; irritated — definitely.

Sunday 16 January 2011

The End of the Solido Era?

A report issued by Globes, Israel's Business Arena, on Thursday last is starting to cause a stir within the 3D printing industry — and rightly so. The report states that: "Sources inform ''Globes'' that the company has laid off its entire staff of 30 employees and entered receivership."

This is coming as somewhat of a shock to many, in that the company had only recently reported significant investment followed by a pretty full-on marketing campaign. Unfortunately, if the report is accurate, the investment did not fully manifest and the company had no where else to go. If this all bears out, then I will be sorry — I could see the very real potential of this 3D printing technology but I do believe that Solido had misplaced aspirations and missed a trick. This middle of the road technology was above average in its capabilities. When I say "middle of the road" I am referring to where is was positioned within the market ie ahead of the RapMan, Makerbot genre and behind Dimension, ProJet et al. Unfortunately, rather than picking one side of the road on which to productively compete, Solido tried to be both. User feedback on the Solido 300 is very positive, and I have seen some of the models that can be produced and was impressed. However, I reported on my dismay at the company's deceptive approach to its pricing last year. Hidden costs never go down well in the long run!!

Monday 10 January 2011

Understanding & Appreciation Takes Time

The worlds of additive manufacturing and 3D printing continue apace as 2011 gets well and truly underway. One clarification in my own mind is that these two worlds are distinct and very different. As with 2010's early posts, when I committed to regular posting, which in the main, I think I have achieved, I want to up the ante again this year, and challenge myself, particularly when things get much busier towards the end of the year, which they tend to do. However, to kick this year off, I am going with a little sentiment bolstered by true motivation. You have the comment section to disagree .......

I have been working and reading a little over the Christmas and New Year break, which marks the two year anniversary of my freelance career — the greatest joy of which is that, in the main, I get to pick and choose my schedule, particularly over holiday periods, unlike in my previous life, when school holidays tended to clash with critical deadlines, and the prioritised family time was often sidelined for more pressing 'priorities' that needed attention asap.

The new year is also the 21st anniversary of the passing of my paternal grandfather — a man whom I loved and respected greatly throughout my childhood and adolescence. I do not bring up this second anniversary to evoke any sort of sadness or maudlin thoughts, rather it is to share a nugget of advice — priceless in my opinion — that this lovely man shared with me as I started out on my university career, just a few months before he died, but which has stayed with me to this day and it influenced me greatly in my decision to go freelance. 

After a partisan expression of how proud he was of me and that he had no doubts that I would succeed at whatever I chose to do in my future career etc etc; he imparted this wisdom — "There is something else that I want you to remember, even if you don't quite understand it now: never look back with regret and always double check your priorities. It is important to remember that no one lies on their deathbed and wishes that they had spent more time at work." 

I didn't push him for further explanation at the time. At 18, I understood the concept of regret in terms of hair styles and fashion choices, maybe even wasted time on boys that were definitely "the one" — until the next day, anyway; priorities were defined in terms of subject choice and where to work that summer; and looking back was a case of assessing the previous weekend with my friends. But as with most teenagers, I assumed I knew exactly what he was talking about and agreed.  With hindsight — but without regret — I would like to have understood the thoughts and the experience behind the knowledge rather than guessing at them. Fortunately, what I did do 21 years ago was to write down what he had said to me and ponder on it at various times over the next two decades. At the close of the last decade, I came to fully understand — and greatly appreciate — precisely what he was telling me and I was able to benefit from it immensely — I still am. 

What on earth prompted me to share this? I think it was to do with numerous recent conversations that have illustrated to me that everyone has to deal with day-to-day priorities, and very often it is too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. I was lucky enough to have great wisdom imparted that was to influence me at a major crossroads sign, I feel lucky and privileged to have benefitted from it and believe there is no harm in passing it out to anyone that can benefit from it also — whether now or in 20 years time!