Issue #495 : : November 14, 2006
C o n t e n t s
CAD Vendors Are Tracking You
CAD Vendors' Duplicity in Globalization
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Here's one for readers to be wary of. Stuff on the Internet, such as this e-newsletter, is free because of the subsidy from ads. On the face of it, that's all. But there is a hidden financial subsidy more insidious than advertising: data mining.
Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live, MySpaces -- all free, but behind the scenes, database programs compare and contrast your clicks, search phrases, and page-views. "It's user generated behavior that is being sold down the river for 2 tickets to the Mets game and a Gmail client," writes Steve Gillmor at gesturelab.com/?p=16
For example, you make Google's PageRank work. Google compares the search words you enter with the URLs you click -- along with billions of other search phrases and resulting clicks. What was formerly an act of innocence (clicking a link to get more information) has now devolved into information collection, tracking, and selling. You may have heard the phrase, "We all work for Google now -- for free."
Over the weekend, John Markoff described in the 'New York Times' the "Web 3.0" nightmare scenario where all data is cross-tabulated to provide you with "perfect" answers. "We are going from a Web of connected documents to a Web of connected data." www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/business/12web.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all
Who's Collecting Your Data
free2Design software sends think3 data about which commands you are using.
AutoCAD 2006 and 2007 ping Autodesk's servers each time you start your computer. In a conference call with financial analysts, the company's ceo noted that those pings tell Autodesk know which version of AutoCAD is being used by customers. I don't know what other information is collected, because Autodesk doesn't make it plain.
(The AutoCAD Startup Accelerator software is added to your computer's Startup list so that it loads automatically. For AutoCAD 2007 it's C:\Program Files\Common Files\Autodesk Shared\acstart17.exe and for AutoCAD 2006 it's C:\Program Files\Common Files\Autodesk Shared\acstart16.exe.)
While Autodesk lists the information sent from your computer each time AutoCAD crashes, the company doesn't make clear what information it is collecting the other times data is sent by AutoCAD to the mother corp.
Alibre originally required that your computer be connected to the Internet for its free XPress software to work; after customer complaints, they removed the restrictive requirement.
UGS includes the following in their licence contract (thanks to R. Paul Waddington for uncovering it):
"UGS reserves the right to embed a software security mechanism within the Software to monitor usage of the Software to verify your compliance with this license. Such a security mechanism may store data relating to the usage of the Software and the number of times it has been copied, or may communicate with computers controlled by UGS over any type of communications link to exchange communications and report data relating to the usage of the Software and the number of times it has been copied."
How to Frustrate Data Collectors
Some of the ways to frustrate the data collectors:
Perhaps someone should set up a Center for the Defense of CAD Data Privacy. Something to think about.
It is now the season of vendor end-user events, the vendors' big chance to impress on their customers just how vital the "new new" is to increase productivity, reduce cycle times, increase design iterations, decrease costs, increase quality, better connect the enterprise, and so on.
Name our pain/worry-point, you get the message. The basic story is: buy our stuff, deploy our technology, and retain/enhance your competitive edge in globalizing markets. Invest and win, etc. I've just sat through a load of these this past month.
We are all aware of increasing globalization, that there are more qualified, cheaper, eager engineers and designers in emerging economies like India and China. Manufacturing has, by and large, migrated to these countries and now, we are told (and we see the early signs thereof), that design is to follow. If being an engineer in the West isn't tough enough already, the message from CAD vendors is that it's going to get even tougher.
Boiling the Blood
The folks spreading this joyful message are typically your CAD suppliers, and I'm one who's exposed to the CAD vendors' patter more than most. In the past I've referred to it as "tough love," but over the last year I'm getting information that really is making my blood boil.
In these days of globalisation and collaboration, vendors should be aware that their sales practices and habits are equally capable of being monitored (by users) as the vendors vie to get marketshare in what they obviously see as their next conquest, the Chinese market. Increasingly, I am receiving reports of vendors giving away their software to gain marketshare in China. They give it away to beat each other, and, I have been told, because they think the Chinese firms would use pirated copies anyway. So they might as well use legal copies for free, and then the vendor knows who's using their stuff.
One vendor openly talked to me about making their software easier to pirate so they can win marketshare without having to invest in the expense of setting up sales and marketing offices in China. I guess this the "freeware" or "blindeye" method of software distribution. For CAD vendors in the 1980s, the rule was that you had a pirating problem when sales of third-party user manuals were greater than software sales. Nowadays, as long as it's happening in China, it seems to be a good thing.
The CAD Arms Race
The marketing message for the West is about customers spending more money with their vendor of choice to equip themselves with legitimate tools (and on yearly subscription) to beat off the competition from global players. Meanwhile, on the other hand, many vendors are giving away the software to the very overseas competition we are being warned against. Such duplicity from our vendors is shocking!
If CAD tools really are the weapons of mass innovation, as vendors would have us believe, surely they should not be further adding to the stark imbalance by equipping already low-cost countries with armaments of the same calibre for free.
It would appear that CAD software vendors have weighed up the future battle for engineering design and manufacture, and have decided who is going to win. It's not you or I. They will profit while they can, and then use the revenue generated in the West to subsidize their future marketshare in the next engineering economy.
[Martyn Day is Group Editor at EDA Ltd. He runs his own Weblog at www.martynday.com .]
A summary of CAD industry news you may not have read elsewhere, or that I found interesting:
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Capvidia and Jotne EPM Technology this week launched EDMmodelServer that implements the EN9300 standard for archiving 3D data and the verification of 3D STEP models. www.capvidia.be and www.epmtech.jotne.com
CADopia v6 SP3 Standard Edition now directly inserts parts from 150 manufacturers affiliated with ThomasNet.com. Download an eval version from www.cadopia.com
SYCODE releases Mesh To Solid v3, their mesh-to-solid conversion software. www.sycode.com/products/mesh_to_solid/index.htm
LMS introduces Rev 6 of LMS Virtual.Lab Structures structural modeling and analysis. The new release has full meshing capability. www.lmsintl.com/virtuallab
COMSOL adds the Acoustics Module for examining mechanical wave phenomena in structures and fluids. www.comsol.com
nPower Software announces Power NURBS v2.0 with support for 3ds Max 9, 64 bits, and intelligent design change propagation. npowersoftware.com/pressreleases/pressreleasePowerNurbs_11_06_06.html
Strata is beta testing Mac (universal binary) versions of its 3D software, 3D CX and Foto 3D, while its Live 3D gets PDF 3D export. www.strata.com
With PTC's acquisition of ITEDO, Seemage is offering a 40% discount to current licensees of IsoDraw, IsoView and IsoCompose until the end of January. www.itedotradein.com
Cyco Software releases AutoManager Meridian 2006B with a new Web user interface, improved Citrix support and enhanced CAD support. www.cyco.com
CoCreate Software announces version 14.50 of its CoCreate OneSpace Model Manager 2006 PLM software. www.cocreate.com/rd/145
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These news items were posted during the last week at the WorldCAD Access blog < worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
NVIDIA unveils its new CUDA technology for its GeForce 8800 and Quadro graphics cards. It uses hundreds of processors to solve complex computing problems,and promises to be up to 100x faster. You'll need to use NVIDIA's new C compiler for you software to take advantage of the 128-core systems. www.developer.nvidia.com
Seminars & Conferences
15th Annual International Conference on ISO9000 is Feb 25-27 in Orlando FL USA. Early registration gets you a free Apple iPod or PalmPilot or 1GB flash drive or digital camera or a pass to Disney Theme Park or Universal Studios. www.iso9000conference.com
Visimation specializes in Visio customization, and Brett Newman tells me that their new Web site is at www.Visimation.com
People/Companies on the Move
STJ2 Consultants Limited changes its name to CADFMconsult. www.cadfmconsult.co.uk
Orange County investors acquire the assets of privately-held K-TEK Solutions, a provider of CAD-related services.
Cyon Research sells CADwire.net and Targeted Advertising Consortium to Tangra Solutions, operated by Rick Stavanja, former vp and cto of Cyon Research.
Punch Software buys CADSoft Solutions. The company earlier raised US$9 million in debt financing, and hired Paul Bay as its new ceo from Ingram Micro Inc. Two years ago, the company raised $25 million in venture financing. Its CAD software is popular in the retail market.
Letters to the Editor
"I was wondering if you had any idea what happened to ImpactXoft. Did they close, merge into Catia, or still going? It seemed like a great product based on the Catia V5 kernel.
"According to their Website that once existed,
they were 15% owned by Dassault. I guess that
would make SolidWorks and ImpactXoft
The editor replies: "News about ImpactXoft died around 2004. I don't know what happened."
Re: RAND Worldwide Acquires CAD/CAM Systems
"Pleeeeases -- Far Eastern Canada! Like we are
so far East we are an Eastern Country. How
about '...located in Atlantic Canada'?"
The editor replies: "As you may have guessed, this was a joke by a far Westerner to indicate that Altantic Canada is even more eastern than Eastern Canada."
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"I really enjoy reading upFront eZine. It
captures what is going on in several CAD
markets and the content is very straight
forward. Keep it up."
Spin Doctor of the Moment
"We felt that any business that's built on the
bedrock of music we should share in."
"Bubble 2.0 is all about data-mining and
getting suckers to work for free -- this last
is called 'user-generated content' or 'citizen
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