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An Impressive Facility

January 22, 2011

Filed under: additive manufacturing,education,manufacturing,review — Terry Wohlers @ 16:19

I’ve had the opportunity to visit many educational facilities over the past 20 years, but I have never seen anything like the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT) in Florence, South Carolina. This new, world-class building offers the best of the best: an 800-person auditorium with a 2,700-watt surround sound system; a conference and exhibition center that can seat 800 people at tables; classrooms and CAD labs with the latest audio/visual equipment; and a beautiful executive boardroom. Top management at Fortune 100 companies would salivate over the place, including the dramatic lobby and open floor plan.

SiMT offers equipment and space for design, prototyping, and manufacturing. The 3D/Virtual Reality Center is one of only six Interactive Digital Centers in the world. Separately, two spacious labs house four large-frame additive manufacturing systems, including a new Fortus 900mc from Stratasys.

A visit to the facility earlier this week refreshed my memory of how impressive it really is. SiMT held a very successful forum on additive manufacturing in February 2010, which I had the privilege of attending. Planning is now underway for the second forum, which is scheduled for April 19, 2011. Add it to your calendar and plan to visit this one-of-kind facility. I hope to see you there!

Software Downgrades

January 9, 2011

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 08:47

We have been “upgrading” our IT infrastructure over the past few weeks. The plan was to move to IMAP, Google Apps, Google Sync, and cloud computing. Upon completion, our contacts, mail folders, and calendars would always be synchronized on our desktops, laptops, and mobile devices no matter where we are physically located. As part of the process, we would update our Microsoft Office software and other applications required by the infrastructure change.

Has the process been painful? No, that’s far too mild. At one point, disaster would have been a better description. That period is behind us, fortunately, but we still have a lot to do. I’m able to concentrate on projects once again without encountering problems every step of the way.

I don’t know what Microsoft was thinking when it developed Office 2007 and 2010. I have yet to find a single feature that makes me more productive, but I can certainly point to a lot that sucks time out of my day and increases my blood pressure. PowerPoint is horrible and Word is worse. In my opinion, 2007 and 2010 were downgrades from 2000 and 2003. Both of these older versions are rock solid and their user interfaces are intuitive. Most buttons, menu items, etc., are where you’d expect them to be. This is furthest from the case in 2007/2010.

Some wonder why companies hesitate to “upgrade” when new software and Internet tools and “capabilities” become available. Software companies often introduce new versions of their products only to have something “new” to sell to customers. After 10, 15, or even 20 years of development, how much better can the software become? Sometimes, it gets worse because they make changes that are not improvements. They move in the opposite direction—with or without knowing it—and complicate our lives in the process.