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The Biltmore

June 13, 2021

Filed under: life,review,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 13:11

My wife and I stayed on the Biltmore property in Asheville, North Carolina last week. I knew little about it prior to booking the trip. The more I learned about it, the more interested I became. The 250-room home, covering 16,630 sq meters (179,000 sq ft), is the largest in the U.S. and resembles a European palace. It was completed in 1895 by owner George Washington Vanderbilt, the grandson of Cornelius H. Vanderbilt, who created enormous wealth from railroads and shipping. The mother of CNN’s Anderson Cooper is Gloria Laura Vanderbilt. Her grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is George’s brother.

The mansion includes 35 bedrooms and 65 fireplaces. We spent a couple hours inside but did not see all of it. Several rooms and spaces stood out. The large swimming pool was interesting, especially given that pools and swimming were not common back then. The primitive nature of the gym was captivating, yet not that different from those of today. The setting of pins in the two-lane bowling alley was not automated, but the design made it easy to return the balls to the players.

                                

The technology in the building was years ahead of its time. An elevator, powered by electricity, was functional in 1895 and is still operating today. We saw it taking people up and down. A much smaller version for food and tableware, called a dumbwaiter, is adjacent to the kitchen. The house included five electric refrigerators, including a walk-in unit. The home’s 43 bathrooms were complete with plumbing, bathtubs, and toilets, but only two had sinks with running water. I recall my parents not having indoor plumbing in their farmhouses 40+ years later.

I found the visit to the Biltmore house intriguing. I had no idea a home with such impressive technology of the time was in the U.S. We stayed at one of two hotels on the property, making it convenient for visiting the many gardens and hiking/biking trails, winery adjacent to our hotel, and mansion. Both staff and visitors were extremely friendly. I highly recommend a visit to the Biltmore.

The Ride of a Lifetime

May 16, 2021

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 05:59

I recently finished The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger. It has become a new favorite of mine. Iger served as Disney’s CEO from 2005 to 2020 and led the entertainment giant to a period of enormous growth. Early in the book, it became clear that he is incredibly bright, hardworking, passionate, and caring of people. He is a person of great integrity and is a terrific role model.

                                                           

As CEO, he guided the acquisitions of Pixar for $7.4 billion, Marvel ($4 billion), Lucasfilm ($4.06 billion), and most recently, 20th Century Fox in 2019 for $71.3 billion. The first three had generated nearly $34 billion for Disney at the box office, as of August 2019. Under Iger’s leadership, the company’s net income increased more than 400% and market capitalization grew from $48 billion to $257 billion.

Everyone in business should read this book, not because of Iger’s success, but for who he is as a person and leader. He discussed an almost countless number principals throughout the book—ones that most of us can apply at work and in every-day life. Few titles receive an average score of 4.8 with more than 10,000 ratings at Amazon. When you read it, you will know why.

Custom Rings

April 16, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,review — Terry Wohlers @ 15:47

I recently discovered The Future of Jewelry (TFOJ), a company that produces custom jewelry. It was founded by sisters Casey and Janine Melvin. Both left law school to start the company in 2017 and serve as co-CEOs. TFOJ’s initial focus has been on custom rings. I had the opportunity to test-drive the company’s customization platform recently and designed a ring with our company logo on it. The experience was good, and the design turned out nicely, as shown in the following images.

                           

The steps involve choosing the style of ring and selecting and designing parts of it. I chose the Oxford style from six options. I then picked silver for the material and entered my ring size of 19.5 mm. After uploading our company logo, I experienced some difficulty in getting it to produce correctly on the face of the ring. It was because our logo has a 3D effect and shading, so the problem was not with the TFOJ platform. I adjusted the logo to omit these effects and it created perfectly. The platform supports the importing of JPG, PNG, and BMP, as well as STL, OBJ, and GLTF, which was a nice surprise.

The TFOJ workflow involves a high-resolution 3D printer to produce patterns for the investment casting process. The company outsources precious metal casting work to a network of companies in the U.S. I have not yet received the custom ring because I ordered it just days ago. My experience with the platform was so good that I decided to create and order a second one with a different logo. I am looking forward to receiving both. Thanks to Casey and Janine for developing such an interesting and easy-to-use platform for producing custom jewelry.

Best Products of 2020

December 28, 2020

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 06:55

Each year, I name my favorite new products. This year, the first three revolve around biking, a safe and invigorating outdoor activity.

Signal Peak bike from Fezzari ($3,250): Fezzari, a direct-to-consumer company, does a fine job with its bikes. I bought two from the company in May, including this rugged mountain bike. I rode it an estimated 45-50 times, the majority involving good mountain trails, with some being quite challenging.

S-Works Power Saddle from Specialized ($300): A major part of this saddle is 3D-printed using technology from Silicon Valley-based Carbon. It is an excellent product, although not inexpensive. It is out of stock, which was the case the last time a checked months ago.

KAC Overdrive Sports bike carrier ($400): This is a good product, especially if you do not want to spend twice as much for a carrier. I was prepared to do it, but better-known brands were out of stock for months. I paid $280, but the higher price is still worth it, in my view. (KAC stands for Kick Ass Carrier.)

                                        

Fire HD 10 Tablet ($150): My favorite products of the year are not all about biking. The Fire tablet version I bought has a 257-mm (10.1-inch), 1080p HD display and 32GB of storage. I use it mostly for reading newspapers and checking weather and snow reports. I like it a lot better than my older iPad.

IPSXP ice/snow crampons ($17): This is my first pair of crampons, so I am unable to compare them to other products. Even so, it is hard to go wrong with this product at such a low price.

LED garage lights ($32): I am not sure how I got by without these lights for so long. You will see and find things in your garage you did not know you had.

AmazonSmile: It is identical to Amazon, except that the company donates a small percentage of your purchase to a charity of your choice at no cost to you. The company is supporting hundreds of thousands of charities, including many relatively small ones. If you use Amazon, use AmazonSmile instead and share a percentage with your favorite charity.

Best wishes to you for a safe and virus-free 2021. I hope it is also filled with new, interesting, and useful products.

3D-Printed Bike Saddle

June 14, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 07:20

On June 3, 2020, Specialized announced the commercial availability of the first 3D-printed cycling saddle, the S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror Technology. A major part of the saddle is made with technology from Silicon Valley-based Carbon. The lattice-structure design is said to improve rider comfort and performance by absorbing impact and improving stability.

I received the saddle on Friday and the new design exceeded my expectations. I had read about it and saw pictures previously, but holding and studying it provided a far better appreciation for what went into the product. After shooting images of the new saddle, I mounted it to one of my new bikes from Fezzari, a relatively small but excellent consumer-direct manufacturer in Utah. Bikes from Fezzari have received many favorable reviews from the likes of Bike Magazine, Bikerumor, and Mountain Bike Action. I absolutely love my Signal Peak mountain bike and Catania road bike, both from Fezzari. I highly recommend both.

My first ride using the new saddle was short, but I found it exceptionally comfortable. I was told the saddle is designed for road bikes, but since my Catania it currently about two hours away, I tried it with the Signal Peak. It may handle the rigors of rocky trails, but I do not know, so I am checking with both Specialized and Carbon. Meanwhile, I plan to use it on one or more long road bike rides later this week in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I will try to share more after then.

With the new 198-gram (7-oz) saddle, Carbon and Specialized reduced the overall development process from a typical 18-24 to 10 months, while creating and testing more than 70 designs. Carbon’s 3D-printing technology reduced the design process from six to two months. Design iterations occurred in as little as one day. These are among the benefits of using 3D printing to develop a new product.

The new saddle is Carbon’s third production application in sporting goods, after running shoes from adidas and custom football helmets from Riddell. The S-Works Power Saddle sells for $450 and the company is currently sold out of them. In recent months, I have found that bikes and bike accessories have been difficult to get. Biking is an activity that people believe is safe, healthy, and fun, especially during a pandemic. If you’re looking for a comfortable bike saddle that is believed to improve performance, take a close look at the S-Works Power Saddle. Based on what I have read, seen, and experienced, it is a special product.

Best Products of 2019

December 30, 2019

Filed under: review — Terry Wohlers @ 08:50

Most years in the past, I have named my favorite products and services of the past 12 months. For this year, I’ve selected six that have made life better and more interesting.

Dell XPS 13 Laptop – My only concern when getting this computer was its screen size. It turns out that it’s the perfect size for small spaces on planes and in airports and hotel rooms. It’s a great product and I recommend it highly.

Amazon Prime – I can order some products on Saturday and receive them on Sunday. The shipping cost: $0. In any given week, we will order one or more products for free next day or two-day delivery. If you use Amazon Smile, the company donates 0.5% of your purchases to a charity of your choice. Everything else is identical.

SiriusXM App – If you are a SiriusXM subscriber, get the free phone app. With it, you can access all channels. It’s great for listening to music or the news when you’re out and about or at the gym.

WhatsApp – When Facebook acquired this company for $16 billion ($4 billion in cash and $12 billion in Facebook shares) in 2014, few had heard of it. When traveling, I use it to message and talk with others who have it. What’s especially nice is that if wi-fi is not available, WhatsApp uses mobile data, meaning that you can talk from almost anywhere at little or no cost.

HP LaserJet Pro M15w – This $109 wireless laser printer is the smallest in its class. Footprint: just 35 x 19 cm (13.6 x 7.5 inches). The cost of operation is a fraction of most small, low-cost inkjet printers, and it’s fast, reliable, and easy to use.

Three Bears – This new ski lift, which opened last week, is the latest at Copper Mountain. It takes you to terrain that was previously accessible only by the Tucker Mountain Snowcat and 30+ minutes of hiking. We got on it six times last week. If you like extreme skiing, check it out.

I hope to uncover another group of great products and services in 2020. Best wishes to you for a fantastic New Year!

Bangalore

October 5, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,review,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 16:25

I visited Bangalore, India for the first time last week and the experience could not have been better. The people were extremely friendly, with many approaching me and speaking as if we had met before, although we hadn’t. I was lucky enough to spend time at interesting and successful companies, including 3D Product Development, Intech DMLS, and Supercraft3D. All three are vibrant, focused on additive manufacturing products and services, and at the forefront of AM in India.

I got two very different views of the city. A surprising number of large and notable companies that you may know little or nothing about operate out of Bangalore. Examples are HCL ($8.6 billion in annual sales), Infosys ($12.1 billion), Tata Consultancy Services ($20.9 billion), and Wipro ($8.5 billion). HCL became the first Indian IT company to reach market capitalization of $100 billion. These and other companies offer design and engineering services, and a few, such as Wipro, have a growing AM services business. These companies and their work and people are impressive.

The view of these giant and successful companies was conflicting when compared to much of the rest of Bangalore. The narrow streets were constantly clogged with cars, scooters, cycles, and motorized rickshaws. Traveling a distance that should take minutes took an hour or longer. Many of the sidewalks and curbs were crumbling and lined with coils of wire and other debris. The city is in desperate need of infrastructure improvement and updating. I was told the streets were not designed to handle such growth over the years, and trying to fix them now is next to impossible. Funding for a mass transit system would be outrageously expensive and is unlikely, according to those I spoke with.

Bangalore is an intriguing place to visit and I’m glad I did. It was a privilege to participate in the 11th NASSCOM Design & Engineering Summit, which was the primary reason for the trip. Visits to the Bangalore Palace, the State Legislature building, the city’s oldest and best known bazaar shopping district, and two microbreweries made the trip even more interesting. The food was incredibly flavorful and outstanding. Best of all, I spent quality time with a couple friends from India and met many new ones that I hope will develop into lasting relationships. Bangalore offers differing views of itself, yet I look forward to the possibility of returning.

Martin and Short

July 15, 2019

Filed under: entertainment,event,review — Terry Wohlers @ 18:00

Steve Martin and Martin Short were in northern Colorado on Friday for a two-hour show filled with comedy and music. Martin and Short are among my favorite comedians. They have been in many movies and television programs such as the Three Amigos and Saturday Night Live. Martin also starred in Father of the Bride, The Jerk, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Parenthood, The Pink Panther, and many others.

The evening began with clips from classic movies and SNL skits to warm up the audience at Budweiser Event Center near Loveland. Martin and Short then appeared to a warm applause and launched into hilarious stories about friends, family, celebrities, and themselves. Throughout the evening, the two took many friendly jabs at one another. They had the audience laughing and in tears. I’m glad my wife and I, along with friends, attended the show.

In the coming weeks and months, Martin, 73, and Short, 69, will perform in other parts of the U.S., as well as in Canada and New Zealand. If you like good, live comedy from two of the very best, book an evening with them. You won’t regret it.

Lee Kuan Yew

June 4, 2019

Filed under: future,life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 16:15

I recently finished a book titled Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World. Lee Kuan Yew, commonly referred to as LKY, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore and served in this capacity for three decades. I am unaware of another person with such clarity of understanding in so many parts of the world. His knowledge and insight are extraordinary.

In easy to understand language, LKY drilled down deeply into the past, present, and future of China, India, the U.S., and other parts of the world. His wide-ranging discussions included geopolitical, social, economic, healthcare, education, and religion. He even discussed how a dominant language in a given country, such as China, will impact its future.

The book is written in question/answer format, which is a little unusual. The content, however, made up for it. Amazon customer reviews—103 total—gave it 4.9 out of 5 stars. I recommend it highly.

Favorite Products of 2018

December 29, 2018

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 19:09

Nearly every year at this time, I look back at the products I purchased and like the most. The following is a summary.

Data projector ($350): Buying a data projector is not as easy as one would expect. The first one we purchased was said to have 2,500 lumens, but it was anything but bright. We returned it in favor of a ViewSonic projector with 3,600 lumens. It’s a great product, especially for the relatively low price.

Projector screen ($97): This 16:9, 254-cm (100-inch) screen is exceptional. It’s easy to transport, stand up, and take down. It comes with a carrying case that makes it even better.

Travel brief ($379): This is my second ballistic nylon laptop brief from Tumi. My first one is still like new and our son is now using it.

Stackable wine rack ($32): We liked the first one so much, we bought two more. Each bamboo rack stores 18 bottles.

Snow skis ($748): The Soul 7 HD skis from Rossignol are superb. They are not inexpensive, but they’re worth every penny.

Ear protection ($20): If you attend concerts or other events where sound can be excessive, consider this ear protection filter product from Westone. My wife and I each got a pair for the recent Eagles, Zac Brown, and Doobie Brothers concert.

Small USB fan ($14): Whether you’re working or relaxing in an area that’s a bit warm, consider this little gem from Opolar. The five-inch, USB-powered fan is well designed, offers two speeds, and is quiet.

 

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