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Ping Fu

December 23, 2005

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 07:52

Geomagic founder and CEO Ping Fu has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. magazine. She is pictured on the front cover of the December 2005 issue. Inside, an inspiring article details her years in China and the steps that led to the launching of her successful company. The text and photographs presented in the story grip your attention and show how this woman overcame almost unbelievable odds.

I have known Ping for many years and have a great deal of respect for her. Until I read the story, I knew little about her past. While in China, she was beaten, tortured, and put in solitary confinement for days. When she was very young, she watched the Red Guard attempt to drown her younger sister in a river. Ping went in after her and saved her life, but Ping paid a terrible price for it, as depicted in the article.

At 23, Ping was locked in prison by the Chinese government without being charged for any crime. She had no heat, light, or latrine, and she was expecting to be executed. Surprisingly, she was released days later and deported to the U.S. Upon her arrival, with almost no money, she learned English and enrolled at the University of New Mexico, then at the University of California – San Diego. Ping went on to write code for a software company in southern California, earning a six-figure income. She then left to pursue a doctorate in computer science at the University of Illinois and to work at Bell Labs. 

In 1990, Ping joined the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) to work in computer graphics and visualization. While at NCSA, she assisted one of her students, Marc Andreessen, with the development of an Internet browser (Mosaic), which later became Netscape. In 1997, she left NCSA to launch Raindrop Geomagic. The first few years were rocky. In 2001, she took over as CEO and the company immediately began to thrive. The first major sale ($1.8 million) was to Align Technology, the makers of the Invisalign invisible braces for teeth, although Ping credits the former CEO for establishing the groundwork. This year, the company will generate an estimated $15 million after growing 2,105% the past five years.

Ping Fu is a remarkable individual. With such a difficult past, one might expect her to be bitter. She is not. In fact, she is one of the most delightful, personable, and helpful individuals that you’ll ever meet. And she is exceptionally bright. It is a privilege to know her and to gain insight into her past. Inc. magazine considered the best of the best for the Entrepreneur of the Year and this distinction could not have gone to a more deserving individual. Congratulations, Ping!

Syncing Between Computers

December 11, 2005

Filed under: review — Terry Wohlers @ 09:02

Many people operate two computers. For instance, I use a desktop computer at work and a laptop when traveling. I run many of the same software applications on both computers and want to maintain an identical set of data files. For years, I would try to keep track of what’s what before and after each business trip without the assistance of any synchronization tools. I found that my system, or the lack of one, was cumbersome and error-prone, so I began to search for a product to help sync files between the two computers. After considerable time looking, I found and purchased LapLink Gold 12.0 and began using it. The product worked “okay,” but it too was slow and cumbersome. 

A couple weeks ago, a friend told me about a product named SyncToy from Microsoft. The description of the product was enticing, so I downloaded it. About a minute later, it was installed on my desktop computer, and in another minute, I was using it. Instantly, I found it incredibly simple and fast and so much better than LapLink Gold—software that took 2-3 hours to set up and make work with the assistance of phone support.

With LapLink, you are required to install and run the software on both computers. Before starting the synchronization, the two computers need to recognize one another and this takes time. SyncToy only needs to run on one of the two computers. The first step with both products is to review the folder pairs that you want to synchronize. With LapLink, this step would take 10-15 minutes, minimum. With SyncToy, it takes 2-3 minutes. And SyncToy makes it so much simpler and clearer. The second step is to initiate the actual synchronization, and it’s also easier and faster with SyncToy.

A very nice feature in SyncToy that is lacking in LapLink Gold is the deleting of files. If you delete a file on the first computer, SyncToy will delete the same file on the second computer, which is what you want. (SyncToy does not actually delete the file; it merely moves it to the Recycle Bin.) LapLink, on the other hand, finds the file on second computer and copies it to first computer, and that’s not what you want. So I would have to determine which files were deleted on one computer and then manually delete them on the other. LapLink does offer some interesting features such synchronizing remotely over the Internet and it works pretty well, but I never found a need to use it.

If you are in need of syncing files between two computers, give SyncToy a try. It’s now a shareware product but the last freeware version is still available from a number of sites including the one here.