u p F r o n t . e Z i n e

hallowe'en? We've heard of it


Issue #710 |  November 1, 2011 

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In This Issue

1. The Cloud is Dead

     - Part 1: Readers Respond


2. The Cloud is Dead

     - Part 2: Twitterers Respond


3. Out of the Inbox and our other regular columns


The Cloud is Dead

Part 1: Readers Respond

Before I get to letters from readers, I need to reproduce this statement from Steve Johnson on his blog nauseam site <http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/2011/10/26/the-cloud-is-dead-is-not-what-i-said>:


"I'd just like to point out that it's Ralph announcing the death of the Cloud, and not me. Personally, while I agree with some of Ralph's points, I think there's life in the Cloud yet and the obituary is somewhat premature. My own attitude toward the cloud matches that of most of you, judging by the poll results here. I see pros and cons, and have strong concerns about many of the cons. However, I intend to cover both sides objectively."


- - -


"I smiled when I saw the heading. I have been saying this for a while. There are times when a smart phone or tablet makes sense. Being able to access some information at anytime or being able to carry hundreds of drawings, specifications and cutsheets with you can have immense benefits.


"However, there also times that 3x4' paper drawings and a couple of pens and pencils are the fastest way to record or convey information. And while pen and paper may get soggy in a downpour while you are recoding information up on a roof, they will not short out and die on you.


"As for the cloud? We are still some of those knuckle draggers that think 2D CAD is just fine and prefer to keep our documents secure and quickly accessible on our own computers. From what you said in your article, we are not alone."
      - Len Rafuse
      Vision Engineering


"Too biased. Unsubscribe me."
- Syed Athar Rizvi



"I think vendors see App In The Cloud as 'every dollar, every user, every time.' That is, if I can host your software and your data files, you can't sit on old versions without upgrading, can't pirate, and if I raise my prices by a couple points, I get the money from every subscriber. It's a beautiful thing."
      - Bill Stamp, chief software architect
      Synergis Software


The editor replies: "It certainly would stamp out piracy."


Mr Stamp responds: "I cant support piracy, obviously. But I think getting the dollars for upgrades can be hard, once your app has a full set of features We have users sitting on software three releases back, and supporting them with patches/etc can be really hard. Confession: I have, by the way, bought pet food on line because I couldn't get to a store."

"Most of today's users forget or never knew that PC stood for 'personal computer'. When introduced, they were hailed as the great breakthrough that freed us from the tyranny of being connected to a central mainframe computer.


"Shaan Hurley of Autodesk spoke at the AUGI CAD Camp in Minneapolis last Tuesday. My ears perked up when he referred to 'appropriate use' of the cloud. Examples he cited were things like Autodesk Lab's Project Photofly wherein you can upload a number of standard digital photos, and surprisingly quickly it hands back a 3D model of the object. I recall that he said that Photofly ran in parallel on something like 150 machines at one time for each specific problem.


"Other examples he mentioned included stress analysis of complex loadings on complex parts and assemblies, and of thermal and fluid flow analyses that simply aren't viable even on today's high-end desktop units.He made a brief passing reference to AutoCAD WS, pointing out the collaboration capabilities.


"Another appropriate application for the cloud is high-end photo-realistic rendering of very large models. For example, movies such as 'Avatar' and 'How To Tame Your Dragon' were rendered on rendering farms holding 20-30,000 CPUs. That's right: 20-30 THOUSAND. Try doing that in less than geologic time frames on a desktop machine."
      - Bill Fane



"One thing you did not mention is security. Why would I want to expose my company secrets to some master hacker who could hit the the cloud with a DOS [denial of service] bomb, and then hold everyone hostage for large sums of money to remove the blockade?


"And of course there is the Big Brother aspect of the cloud. There are only two kinds of computer storage devices: those that have crashed/been hacked, and those that are going to crash/be hacked!"
      - Bob Price


"Can you IMAGINE how much product MONEY the mega corporations (mentioned in your article) WASTED on MARKETING and FEEDING this stupid cloud scheme? (ie: We CUSTOMERs are paying for this nonsense!)."
      - Chris Cadman


"Liked the position you took. Now let's look into the details of what server-based computing can provide to those who know how to use it for competitive advantage."
      - Greg Robinson

"Regarding two million [AutoCAD] WS users uploading just 1.8 drawings per user. That would be the one or two drawings that each person needs to upload to decide that WS offers no practical value and then never returns, like I did."
      - David Wilcox


The editor replies: "Autodesk last week announced 'AutoCAD WS Passes 3 Million Downloads,' but this time left out the number of uploaded drawings. By comparison, an average Dropbox user saves nearly 5,000 files a year, although it would make sense that AutoCAD WS users upload fewer files than do generic users."


"IMHO there is one big reason why CAD vendors like the cloud: Control. The companies are able to force-upgrade their users. In Germany, many companies have the philosophy of only implementing even version numbers. This is over, when you use cloud-based software. No staying back on an older version, because the new one has a bug in a most-needed feature.


"There is no such thing as software piracy in the cloud. For 80% of the CAD users, the cloud (as is meant by the software vendors) is useless.


"On the other hand, running an 'Own Cloud' on my own servers is a very interesting concept. Get rid of software rollouts, because all the people in the company work on a single instance of the software with all the right settings and paths, plus a centralized storage. Access to road workers, use of mobile devices etc. There are interesting projects coming up such as owncloud (www.owncloud.org), which I am on the way to get it up and running for myself."

      - Ralf Steck
      Die Textwerkstatt


The editor replies: "That, and new sources of revenue in a largely mature industry."


"It was a delight to read your feature about the Cloud. As a peripatetic [traveling] engineer, the last thing I would consider doing is to put my data, and the tools used to work with it, where I can't be sure I can access it at all times.


"Maybe the time will come when there is global coverage of universally accessible fast internet, but I don't see that arriving anytime soon. Even developed countries have coverage holes. At the moment I am in a place where the internet speed (when it works) is like sharing a dial-up connection with 10 other people. (Clue: it's one of the countries mentioned here: www.economist.com/node/21526937.) It's enough hassle loading some web pages, never mind trying to do something interactive."
      - John Ratsey

The editor replies: "As I found on my recent trip, Manila airport has free Wifi, but Munich airport charges $14/hour. In Beijing airport, it was free after I allowed a machine to scan my passport -- but only after I spent an hour looking for the passport scanner, since the maps were out of date and the information desk staff had no idea what I was talking about. Even then, Google, GMail, and Twitter were blocked or throttled."

"Ditto on the cloud. Just another buzz word to go back to client-server computing, albeit many servers now. We had client-server systems 30 years ago, a PDP 11/70 with dumb terminals.


"Just another way to protect revenue when CAD is mature and there is no reason to upgrade. By having resources on the locked down, controlled server, it's easy to force renewal. Don't pay, it don't work.


"I work a lot with Eastern European countries and India. They do not want that model at all. They are highly educated, and want 100 % control over the source code. They want controlled costs, and the ability to take existing systems and make changes -- without huge consulting charges by Westerners.


"Just me, willing to say it the way it is because nobody else will."
     - Chris Hannukainen
      PCS CAD


"I've been saying that 'The Cloud' is nothing more than timesharing warmed over for the past several years. It's nuts for an app like AutoCAD with a large dataset, much of which can/should live in memory at the same time.


"Cloud is great for backup/sharing/field access of .dwgs and .pdfs on mobile devices, but to me seems absolutely ridiculous for everyday production use. I would hate to have my daily productivity limited by the often spotty/limited data access speeds and consistency offered by most ISPs, particularly those serving the small business market that is typical for A/Es."

     - Larry Leake, PE
      Leake Associates


The editor replies: "While I am impressed at how Autodesk is feeling its way through, I think it will be fascinating to hear the real-life experiences of users a year from now."


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The Cloud is Dead

Part 2: Twitters Respond

ralphg (Ralph Grabowski): "In upFront.eZine this week: 'The Cloud is Dead'. Well, someone had to be the first to say it http://bit.ly/tHHqBI"


bradholtz (Brad Holtz): "Disagree."


Civil3D (James Wedding): "Look past storage and virtual machines, the cloud (& more important, the infinite access to processing power,) is just being born."


GfxSpeakRSN (Randall Newton): "Scheduling the 'We make RG eat his words' Party."


solidmuse (Anna Wood): "ralphg Is in good form today with his upFront.eZine."


burhop (Mark Burhop): "I think 'k thx bye' is one word but otherwise good reading."


GfxSpeakRSN: "'Be careful of the words you use, keep them short and sweet. You never know from day to day which words you'll have to eat'."


ralphg: "'Shun advice at any price -- that's what I call good advice'. -Piet Hein (The only poem I recall from elementary school.)"


GfxSpeakRSN: "I remember WAY too many elementary school poems. Mostly the ones I learned on the playground."


olegshilovitsky (Oleg Shilovitsky): "Appropriate use of 'cloud', please"


PLMjim (Jim McKinney): "@Ralphg says the cloud is dead! bit.ly/uDz8TS Oh yea!?!? People said Elvis was dead too! Oh, wait..."


olegshilovitsky: "Let's define what is 'cloud', first." [Mr Oshilovitsky wrote his response in "Cloud, Head's-down CAD Drafters and Technological Analogies " at http://beyondplm.com]


burhop: "good point on definition. For some, 'online' = 'cloud' but that is not really right."


JonBanquer (Jon Banquer): "The cloud isn't dead. The cloud scam is just getting started."


JonBanquer: "In the mean time the geometry problem hasn't been solved and the major CAM system"


abausk: "Great minds think alike. [Russian] cloud - CAD [Russian] upfrontezine.com/2011/upf-709.h… via @ralphg, [Russian] goo.gl/KO0b7" [See English translation at http://translate.google.com]


abausk: "Good points. As for the cloud, I restarted Steve [Johnson]'s cloud series in Russian and reviewed Project Storm yesterday. Hype over nil."


ralphg: "Got my first unsubscribe: 'Too biased.' For some, being pro-cloud is not biased, 'twould appear."


GfxSpeakRSN: "Bias in elect eng is 'Force applied as a reference level in order to operate a device.' I guess you spun his motor too fast."


bcbenton: "I appreciated your article on the cloud but aren't opinions biased by definition?"


ralphg: "Opinions are never biased when they agree with yours!"


bcbenton: "funny how that works isn't it?"


martynday (Martyn Day): "Ralph Grabowski says the cloud is dead before it starts bit.ly/uMIYnu - One of the most utterly utterly bonkers rants I've read."


GfxSpeakRSN: "Perhaps we need an annual award, the Utterly Bonkers Award. Statue could be a cow's udder flipped 180."


martynday: "Not fair I would never win until Ralph retired, oh and DS would have to stop writing press releases too."


fpbhb (Frank Patz-Brockmann): Aka "The Emperor's New Clothes". Not so wrong ... RT @ralphg: "The Cloud is Dead." bit.ly/tHHqBI


SeanDotson (Sea Dotson): "Ironic that Ralph distributed his rant via 'the cloud'?"


ralphg: "Not, if you read what I wrote, oh, something about 'appropriate technology.' But, who needs to read."


martynday: "Believe me I read. You can't write off the cloud like that. I'm designing your 'end is nigh' sign now"


martynday: "You did the computing equivalent of saying the earth is flat. Not sure many would bother to argue with a 'nutter'."


abausk: "No. It's the equivalent of saying there is no need to consider the Earth's geoid when driving to work."


bcourter (Blake Courter): "Wow, the cloud debate is highly polarized. Seems to me ADSK is executing exceptionally well, creating offerings that enhance the desktop."


bcourter: "OTOH, Google Apps are still clunkier than Office on Windows 3.1. I don't expect many to desire interactive CAD on the cloud this decade."




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Out of the Inbox

David Prawel is running his annual Longview Collaboration & Interoperability Survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TWX6H3V. This would be the 7th annual.


Everyone's favorite PLM proponent Oleg ShilovitskyI last week opened Inforbix, his new business. The cloud-based Inforbix Product Data Apps helps designers find, reuse, and share product data -- " next-generation PDM [product data management] system," he calls it. More info through the corporate blog, including "Inforbix, Cloud, & Security Explained" at http://www.inforbix.com/inforbix-cloud-security-explained/


nVidia and VMware are working together to make it easier for 3D graphics to travel over the phone lines to "enable the remote delivery of high-end, workstation-class virtual desktops and applications for engineers, artists and scientists" using server-based Quadro Virtual Graphics Platform. Pix of it at work here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vmwarepr/sets/72157627516661870


The National Institute of Building Sciences's buildingSMART alliance now has a set of common BIM files available to help verify the exchange of data of a building's design. http://www.buildingsmartalliance.org/index.php/projects/commonbimfiles
    Also available: open-source bimserver.org software transforms large building models to smaller models containing only spaces and assets defined in the COBie [Construction Operations Building Information Exchange] specification.


CADMAI v4.3 is a framework for standalone CAD application or SOA, and it can be downloaded from www.cadmai.com\cadmai.zip


Aras is hoping that crowdsourcing will help it develop the next generation of PLM solutions. http://www.aras.com/projects


Dassault Systemes acquires Elsys whose software generates electrical schematics. http://www.e-elsys.com


Lattice Technology now has XVL Converter for 3ds Max v5. http://www.lattice3d.com

Tekla BIMsight is no-charge collaboration software for construction projects. Version 1.3 applies colors to objects, including transparency, and new support for layers filters data. Also improved: exchanging notes in open BCF format. http://www.teklabimsight.com.


NEi Nastran for IronCAD's finite element analysis software now runs inside of the user interface of IRONCAD and INOVATE, and an eval version can be downloaded from http://www.ironcad.com/research/solutionpartners/analysis/neisoftware (click Media Download).


TransMagic unveils TransMagic Release 9 to quickly find and repair errors in the geometry, and customizing the xlation workflow. http://www.transmagic.com


It reeks of desperation when a press release headline reads "UAE Court Joins International Community Confirming Versata's Ownership of Think3's Intellectual Property and Enjoining Italian Trustee" -- and the international community consists of judges in all of three countries. Equally, it's sad when the www.think3.com URL points to www.think3info.com, which consists solely of court documents -- no CAD info.


Letters to the Editor

Re: Advice for New PR Team
"Make sure you invite appropriate people and that you present appropriate information. This may mean holding more than one media event, or at least sub-dividing it into a larger one. CAD users who also happen to be 'journalists' want different info from editors and publishers, who are different again from financial analysts.


"More is not always better. A couple of years back, I attended a CAD media session with something like 140 attendees. At the end of the last day, we were invited to an optional hands-on session of the new release. The problem was that everyone turned up, even though there were only about two dozen 'real' CAD-using journalists present. The rest had never even seen CAD software before.


"Talk about a painful waste of time as the presenters tried to explain how to start a new drawing file to the non-users. We never did get into seeing the new features."
      - Bill Fane



Re: Graphisoft BIMx for iPads
"Yet another iPad app that requires a $4K purchase. Plus the cost of the BIM Explorer add-on. Plus whatever the BIMx app costs (have to contact reseller to find that out!)."
     - Bob Mayer, chief operating officer


"Aftercad is focusing most of its efforts on GameString these days. It's gaming-centric, so you'll need some sort of DirectX9 game or 3D app, and let you cogitate on what Adrenalin for CAD might look like next year!"
     - Christopher C. Boothroyd, ceo


Re: Out of the Inbox
"About your mention of andromo.com in your latest newsletter, I tested the service and it's really nice and well done (not like other services to avoid: appsbar). This is the result: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.andromo.dev4176.app4128 "
     - Patrick EMIN


Re: 'Software is not a solution... it is a tool.'e
"Perfectly stated! Thank you for doing so."
      - Peter Lawton


"Today's newsletter was a pretty good read. Even the rants were well thought out."
      - Rach

"Thanks for the very nice news. They are allways a usefull source. At this time, I am taking a few months off work, and I decided to stay in Beirut, Lebanon. I am wondering how the CAD scene might be here. If i get to know CADusers i will write something on my blog."
      - Jose de Jesus
      No more CADsualties



upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except during summer and Christmas vacation. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by 12,000 subscribers in 70 countries. Your comments are welcome at editor@upfrontezine.com! Deadline for submissions is every Monday noon.


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Entire contents copyright 2011 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $250 and up. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.

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