Austin trip to meet customers

Austin, TX has long been on my todo list for work travel. There are a lot of great SOLIDWORKS customers in the Austin region. Come last week, my long awaited plans came to fruition. This was a busy trip.

  • Visited several customers in both San Antonio and Austin.
  • Conducted a limited Alpha Test and received a lot of great feedback.
  • Presented at the local SOLIDWORKS User Group: CTSWUG
Central Texas SOLIDWORKS User Group meeting in Austin
Full house at the CTSWUG on April 17, 2019.

User Group Meeting and Support

My presentation at the user group meeting covered the topic of Model-based Definition in the context of SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS MBD. It’s a topic I’ve presented many times. (NASWUG, NSWG and SWW17)

Jeremy Browning also presented a lively demonstration that evening on how to model in a manner that utilizes SOLIDWORKS tools with maximum efficiency and resiliency.

Thank you to Nadia Shea and Jeremy Browning for their efforts of support during my visit. Also, thank you to Steve Calvert for his efforts, including the change of the date for their user group meeting to suit my travel.

Also, While in Town

While in town, I was able to indulge local flavor (literally); perhaps a bit too much.

There was also a chance to take in a few of the regional sights and sounds from time to time, of course.

Great Trip!

However, the focus of these trips is to interact with SOLIDWORKS customers. This allows us to learn from our users about how we can improvement our products to better suit their needs in future releases. In this regard, this trip was a great success! Thank you to everyone who meet with me and participated in the local SOLIDWORKS events!

My unorganized #SOLIDWORKS User Group tour – #swugn

This year, I’ve been on a kind of unorganized SOLIDWORKS User Group tour.  I’ve presented at user groups in Tulsa, OK, Denver, CO and Seattle, WA.  The diversity of meeting locations never ceases to surprize me: hotel conference rooms, high school machine shops, college meeting rooms, libraries.  BTW, I’m not pictured in any of the photos below, as I was the one who took these photos of other speakers at these events.

In Tulsa and Denver, I presented on Drawing Views.  As simple as this topic may seem for many, even experienced users have told me they learn something new when I talk about Drawing Views.

In Seattle, I presented on SOLIDWORKS drawing functionality that has been added since SOLIDWORKS 2013.  Even though most of the capabilities I discussed were available since SOLIDWORKS 2014 and 2015, even seasoned users of SOLIDWORKS 2016 jumped up with excitement as they found out about “new” functionality.

Tulsa SOLIDWORKS User Group

Tusla, OK


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Northern Denver, CO


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Southern Denver, CO


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Seattle, WA

User Group meeting last evening

Hari Padmanabhan and myself presented at the Center Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut SolidWorks Users Group (CMNC-SWUG) yesterday evening.  The meeting was very well attended.   It’s prolly the largest user group meeting I’ve seen.  However, from what I understand, this is par for the course for this region.

Hari gave a very detailed presentation on SolidWorks Animation.  He demonstrated functionality on solid models of real-life toys that he had also brought in.  He  also did a great job of explaining the differences between the three modes within Animation, called Animation (simple point to point movement), Basic Motion (game engine physics) and Motion Analysis (complex physics model).

My own presentation covered DimXpert and TolAnalyst.  DimXpert is one of those capabilities that seems to be under utilized because people are simply unfamiliar with it.  It is a powerful and fairly easy to use tool.  It’s not a whole lot different than dimensioning a drawing, except that DimXpert dimensions and tolerances actually have a fundamental understanding of what they are controlling.

Technically, CMNC-SWUG is my hometown user group, so I’ll be looking forward to their further events.

Ontario SolidWorks User Group meeting, mid Dec 2011

Some would say that travelling to Ontario in December is foolish.  It is wet, snowy and very cold.  Well, call me a fool.  I visited Toronto to present at the December meeting of the Ontario SolidWorks User Group.  It was cold, but not much different from Massachusetts.  It was a little rainy, again no difference from where I live.  No snow!  This time of year should’ve been nothing but snow everywhere.  Then again, Massachusetts also had not snow at that time.  Maybe I’m not so foolish afterall.

I presented on Advanced SolidWorks Customization Techniques.  This is a preview version of what I will be presenting at SolidWorks World 2012.  This is a presentation similar to one given a few years before at a SWUGN Technical Summit, now updated for SolidWorks 2012.

Several discoveries were learned on this trip.  I discovered the locals believe that Toronto has the “worst traffic in North America”.  That’s an arguable yet still valid assessment.  Rain, no matter how slight, makes the traffic unbearable.  And, even with reduced crowds due to rain, a SolidWorks Employee can draw people from miles (er, kilometers) around to a SolidWorks User Group meeting.  Oh, and one more thing.

This is Canadian Slice Pizza: bacon, pepporini,  mushroom, and of course, cheeze.  It’s apparently normal to serve it on a corrugated paperboard as a stand-in for a plate.

Yes, it’s called “Canadian” in Canada.  Quite tasty, and it is a combination of toppings that I’m not quite so unfamilar with.  Thank you to Chris White for organizing this event and to everyone who attended!

 

Story of the revival of SolidWorks Yahoo! Group

The story of the SolidWorks Yahoo! Group revival began way back in Feb 2006. I was looking for new macros to improve work flow on SolidWorks at my company. I looked everywhere online. One of the places I found was the SolidWorks Yahoo! Group. It was fairly active, with professional participation in discussions about SolidWorks. There was a problem, however.

I tried to contact the group owner, but never got a reply. Eventually, I started looking into why the group was unmoderated. The owner had disappeared; bouncy, bouncy. No one else was assigned to run the group, so the group was left to the elements, those dreaded spammers. Well, the rule with Yahoo! Groups is ownership cannot be transferred except by the owner. Since the owner was bouncy, there was no hope. I forget about the group for awhile. Then, in November 2006, I checked it on a whim. It appeared that SolidWorks users where still actively using the group to post questions and answers.

This got me thinking that maybe, just maybe I could take ownership of this group to revive it. So, I contacted Yahoo! Groups with the following feedback comment:

Are you a… Member

Subject: Other

Type your feedback here: The moderator of SolidWorks yahoo group is not maintaining it, and has a bouncy email address. How does one claim control over a group that is experiencing this kind of neglect [but] still has large potential value to its members?

I waited for a few days before receiving this boiler plate response:

In a message dated 11/28/2006 11:49:36 P.M.
Pacific Standard Time, egroups-feedback@cc.yahoo-inc.com
writes:

Hello,

Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Groups.

I have received your email and you are asking on how does one claim control over a group. I appreciate you contacting us and I’ll be glad to assist you on this matter. I have checked the Yahoo! Group “solidworks”, and it shows that the owner’s account was bouncing. However, in as much as I would like to accommodate your request, I cannot appoint a new owner or moderator to the group as specified in the terms of our Privacy Policy. What I usually suggest is for you to contact the Group owner regarding this issue of handing over group’s ownership. You may send an email to: SolidWorks-owner@yahoogroups.com In the event that the owner can no longer be contacted, one alternative is for you to create your own group and send out invitations to those people who you would like to join your new group. I appreciate your utmost patience and understanding with regard to this matter. If you have any other concerns, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.

Regards,

Shelley, Yahoo! Customer Care

Well, the bureaucratic wheels are churning. There was even double-speak that was self-referencial. At this point, I know I have one chance at getting what I want. My reply will have to be forceful and direct, including points that cannot be argued. Here’s my Hail Mary:

Yahoo,

Thank you for your reply.

I do realize that there is a Yahoo policy against the transfer of ownership
for yahoo groups. However, in light of this situation with SolidWorks yahoo group, I (as a Yahoo customer) feel that such a rigid and absolute rule on the matter is counter productive to members of Yahoo Groups in general (not just in regards to SolidWorks yahoo group). Though I don’t speak for the SolidWorks Corporation, the name “SolidWorks” is a trademarked name whose customers would benefit from having the only Yahoo Group that bares that exact name being made active again. Customers are users that are working, educated professionals that seek convenient interaction with other customers of SolidWorks. A new group creates confusion and increases the lack of interest in using Yahoo Groups at all for this purpose.

Also, if the current state of SolidWorks yahoo group is an indicator, with so many groups without reachable owners or moderators, Yahoo Groups appears to be cluttered, which makes Yahoo Groups less valuable as a service. As a matter of customer service, I request that you reconsider your policy in regards to the transfer of ownership for groups whose owners are bouncy for more than six months. Moderators should be able to claim a group at that time. If no moderators exist, members should be able to petition for ownership directly to Yahoo. To avoid spammers from taking charge of groups for professional purposes, set criteria for the approval of those petitions.

Matthew Lorono
Santa Clara, CA

The reply I then got surprized me. Yahoo! Groups staff stepped up the plate.

Hello Matthew,

Thank you for
writing to Yahoo! Groups.

We appreciate your comments on this matter and can understand your concerns.

Because your group is not currently moderated, we may be able to appoint a new moderator for the group. If you would like a new moderator for the group, please start a poll using the group’s polls feature and list the member names of a few members, who would like to be a moderator, as choices for the poll. Please announce the poll to your group and ask the members to vote on who they would like to be moderator. Once the poll has closed, please email me back and I will appoint the “elected” moderator. I do apologize for any inconvenience.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.


Regards,
Gidget, Yahoo! Customer Care

The squeaky wheel gets the grease! This is how we do it! And I even got a reply from some girl with an overly cute name.

So, I left a message on the group asking for volunteers. Two people piped up. Of those two, only one had a history of contributing to the site, Chris McCormack. So, I put him up, and myself as the two options in the poll. A month later, I closed the poll and notified Yahoo! Groups staff. I wondered if I would hear from this “Gidget” again?

Gidget (Customer Care),

Per your requirements (see Customer Care email below), I have run a poll for the SolidWorks Yahoo Group to determine a new “elected” group moderator, because the group is not currently being moderated. Two individuals with a history of contributing to the site were self-nominated for this poll. The person with yahoo id maccormackc (Chris McCormack, who is cc:’d on this email) won the poll results. Please appoint maccormackc as the new group moderator for the Yahoo! Group SolidWorks as soon as possible.

Thank you for your prompt action in advance.

Matthew Lorono

Well, Gidget did not respond back. However, Derek did respond back with the happy news.

Hello Matthew,

Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.

The situation you describe has been completed.

We apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused you. Please be assured that we’ll do our best to prevent such problems in the future. If you continue to experience the problem, or if we can be of assistance in another matter, please let us know by replying to this email. If you can describe in as much detail as possible the problem you are having, any steps you take leading up to it, how frequently it occurs, and the exact text of any error messages you receive, it will help us to provide a solution more quickly.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.

Regards,

Derek, Yahoo! Customer Care

Derek was no Gidget, and his response didn’t make much sense, but he gave me what I wanted, and that’s all that mattered! 😉 After a couple of days, Chris and I began to revive the group, adding content, removing spam, banning spammers, approving new members, etc. And
it appeared to be getting the attention it deserved! Icing on the cake was when Richard Doyle joined the group soon after the revival.  Kudos!

Issues presented to SW Developers at T-VSWUG Meeting

At the T-VSWUG Sept 10th meeting, the forum was open to whatever happened to be on the people’s mind regarding SolidWorks.  Being face to face with members of the SolidWorks developers team brought out the inner need to express our frustrations.   Just some of the points brought up included:

  1. On drawings, dimensions and centerpoints to hole wizard holes should not detach when the type of hole is changed in the model.
  2. “Link to BOM” does not appear to be useful; or it is not obvious that this is the option to pick when it is needed.
  3. Make fly-out menus and menu bars more consistent (RMB clicks, LMB clicks, etc).  One problem is that the same function (such as Open Part) appears in so many different locations, depending on what is currently displayed in SolidWorks.  Make common functions appear in a more predictable fashion, relying less on context and more on general user interface consistency.  SolidWorks development team has started improving user interface inconsistencies since 2007.  2009 will further address these issues.
  4. Allow the user to use a logical center of rotation while in sketch mode.
  5. Generally, let the user choose a fixed point center of rotation within a model or assembly.
  6. Limitations preventing cropping and breaking out of detail views continues to annoy users.
  7. Create a weldment-like system for handling sheet metal parts with hardware, so that sheet metal parts can be a single file instead of an assembly.  My addition to this is that there should be a focus on creating a library of features for standard insert hardware (instead of a library of discrete parts for that hardware). 
  8. Support some sort of silkscreen function that will allow users to apply images to a part without jumping through hoops, and will not screw up a model when exported to other formats.  Maybe even develop this so that silkscreen documentation can be produced right from the model.
  9. SolidWorks Corp is attempting to apply ASME and ISO standards accurately for documentation relying of 3D models (instead of drawings), such as DimXpert.  However, the current 3D model standards (such as ASME Y14.4-2003)  are inadequate to address the growing reliance of solid models and the move away from drawings.  SolidWorks Corp should take a more active role in influencing the ASME and ISO bodies to implement useful future 3D modelling standards.  I suggest SW Corp work directly with these groups, and should even gain representation on their decision making boards.

These points, among others, were well received by the developers.  Some other points brought up already had solutions.  Some solutions involved functionality that which some may not have been aware.  Other solutions have been resolved on newer versions of SolidWorks, which some users are not yet using.

One point not received well (though politely) was the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that SolidWorks have a “What’s Lost” section to their manual to alert users to keystroke changes, menu changes, and any functionality that has been “removed” in the new release.  Perhaps, more detail about actual changes can be addressed in the “What’s New” section for each release.

I will address the discussions regarding SolidWorks release cycle, backwards compatibility, and running SolidWorks on Macs in up-coming articles.