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Slideshow: CAD Jockey's Holiday Gift Guide
12/21/2011

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These days, who doesn't want the luxury of mobility in a workstation? Dell's Precision M4600 15.6' mobile workstation features the second-generation Intel Core i7 processor Extreme edition and 1,600MHz system memory options; it's priced starting at $1,678.
These days, who doesn't want the luxury of mobility in a workstation? Dell's Precision M4600 15.6" mobile workstation features the second-generation Intel Core i7 processor Extreme edition and 1,600MHz system memory options; it's priced starting at $1,678.

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Rob Spiegel
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I want the zSpace platform
Rob Spiegel   12/21/2011 10:13:31 AM
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Nice slide show, Beth. Now that's a coll selection of pricey gizmos. I particularly like the Sketch tool and the zSpace platform.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Beth Stackpole   12/21/2011 10:17:01 AM
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Don't CAD users have discriminating tastes? I think the zSpace platform is pretty cool as well and really has the potential to change the way CAD users interact with 3D models. If money is no object, the Planar 3D monitor is also pretty exciting in terms of adding a new dimension to how CAD users interact with models.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Rob Spiegel   12/21/2011 2:04:30 PM
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They also have very expensive tastes. I would imagine the high cost of these products is in part because they go to a specialized audience -- a small one -- and thus the technology will not get commoditized. Or maybe it's simple because of the complexity of the technology.


Beth Stackpole
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Beth Stackpole   12/22/2011 6:32:12 AM
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I think it's more a matter of complexity of technology. Having a platform that is well tuned to process and visualize highly complex 3D modeling data requires a whole lot of processing horsepower and top-of-the-line viewing capabilities, all of which have come down in price, but are still no where near commodity levels. And obviously for this slide, we had to highlight some of the more expensive, unique items.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Rob Spiegel   12/22/2011 12:04:19 PM
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With these complex tools that require substantial processing horsepower, I would imagine there is some really opportunity to shift some of the complexity, and processing to the cloud. Has cloud computing entered this world in a big way yet?


Beth Stackpole
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Beth Stackpole   12/22/2011 12:14:10 PM
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Good question, Rob. I wouldn't say cloud has entered this world in a big way--yet! But we definitely saw some significant signs that it will be a factor. Both Dassault and Autodesk, big players in the CAD/PLM/design tool space, unveiled their cloud strategies this year.

As with the whole mobile app scenario, we're not likely to see traditional desktop CAD translated to the cloud platform, mostly because the heavy-duty graphics and 3D rendering might see performance degragation in the cloud. CAE has a lot of potential in the cloud--being able to offload heavy-duty simulation processing to servers somewhere freeing up the desktop for other work or enabling far more complex simulations. Some of the lifecycle components of PLM, quality management functionality, requirements functionality, service and support functionality, those are good candidates for the cloud as opposed to the core product data repository or PDM information, which companies are likely hesitant to put outside of their own IT infrastructures.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Rob Spiegel   12/22/2011 12:39:09 PM
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Yes, that's what a figured. Some aspects of processing and storage would naturally go into the cloud as in-house servers have difficulty keeping up with processing and memory. And from following your stories in this area it looks like digital opportunities are growing in every direction.

I know security is always a concern at first, especially when it comes to the IT folks who might get nervous when the design staff starts talking about storing company IT on somebody else's server.

The question that usually ends the conversation is this: Where is your financial data safer, on your bank's computer or on your own? Followed by: How many times have you lost email archives through your own disc crashes, and how many times have you lost email archives on your providers system?

 

Beth Stackpole
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Beth Stackpole   12/23/2011 12:33:35 PM
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That's a great way to frame out the security issue, Rob. I think increasingly companies are feeling more comfortable and confident in the cloud as a safe harbor for corporate data, financial or product-related. In fact, in many ways, I don't see IT as the stumbling block to design tools in the cloud--they've already made the leap with other core business systems like ERP and CRM.

More likely, it's engineering management that probably less familar and has less experience with this new delivery model, thus has more concerns. Also, performance is a huge issue when there is so much intensive graphics processing work to do. Doing it on a local system in many ways is still a better option than offloading tasks to the cloud and having to deal with limited bandwidth for data transmission.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Rob Spiegel   12/23/2011 1:20:29 PM
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You're right about performance being an issue. Somebody else's system can go down leaving you stuck. I've seen that before. Yet in sales situation, I've heard cloud people start asking questions about the security and reliability of the in-house system, with questions such as "Tell us about your firewall." And of course, the customer has nothing compared to what the cloud company can offer.


Beth Stackpole
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Beth Stackpole   12/27/2011 8:18:43 AM
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Absolutely, cloud providers have a secure infrastructure that few companies, especially smaller ones, can rival. It's more a matter of getting familiar with the model and feeling comfortable. Some companies, particularly those in highly regulated industries like health care and finance, also have restrictions on where data can reside, thus the multi-tenant nature of cloud services and the fact they have no control over where and what servers are processing rules out the model for them.

jmiller
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
jmiller   12/29/2011 1:55:36 PM
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I like the continuing effort to bring more and more to the CAD users.  And as the market understands which of these higher priced solutions are being purchased I think the industry identifies which solution they can bring down in price for the more conservative engineers.  Let's face it, some companies won't spend $300 on a fancy mouse but a dedicated designer might spend $100 on himself if it will make his job easier.

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: I want the zSpace platform
Alexander Wolfe   1/3/2012 9:11:33 AM
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Well done guide. I didn't get any of these for Christmas, though if I had a choice I'd pick the Planar's SD2620W stereoscopic LCD wide-screen display. There's more good stuff (that I also didn't get) in the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show Preview Slideshow.

William K.
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Cad Jockey's holiday gifts
William K.   1/17/2012 11:04:41 AM
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While SolidWorks 2012 is undoubtedly a great version and a good value, it is a bit to expensive to be in most folks gift giving lists. It took a lot of selling to get an employer to purchase it, and they did make quite a point about how expensive it was. Of course, that organization was also cheap on pens and paper, so it was to be expected, I suppose.

But it was an interesting list, so thanks for the article.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Cad Jockey's holiday gifts
Beth Stackpole   1/17/2012 12:26:16 PM
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Point taken, William. I know a lot of the stuff on the list was pricer and most likely beyond the budgets of most people buying for CAD jockeys. I was really looking to have some fun highlighting some of the cooler, abeit, pricey technologies that are out there that might impact the design process.

jmiller
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Re: Cad Jockey's holiday gifts
jmiller   1/24/2012 5:16:57 PM
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And if one didn't get what they want for Christmas, a well timed tax refund could be easily invested in one of these little gems to improve ones' performance.  I do love to hear about the new cool stuff.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Cad Jockey's holiday gifts
Beth Stackpole   1/25/2012 6:38:54 AM
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A tax refund and the President's State of the Union address last night where he talked up American innovation and keyed in on what needs to be done in terms of jobs reskilling could be just the right impetus for someone to decide to outfit themselves with the latest technology, hoping to better position themselves to solve some of these pressing engineering-related challenges.

jmiller
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Re: Cad Jockey's holiday gifts
jmiller   1/28/2012 8:51:04 PM
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Good point.  Add to that the fact that every time I take a look at the unemployement percentages and wanted adds I see opportunities for engineers.  I think young people reading this should feel pretty positive about the chances of finding a job come May.  However, don't let that keep you from learning a new skill or two. 

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Cad Jockey's holiday gifts
Beth Stackpole   1/30/2012 6:21:11 AM
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I think the president's recent SOTU message and all the talk about the need to promote STEM education just highlights how much opportunity there is for engineers, yet how important staying trained on the latest technologies is to American's future.

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