The point to COFES isn't to attend sessions listed on the schedule. The sessions are just the framework from which to hang conversations between attendees, as co-founder Brad Holtz puts it. (See figure 1.) COFES is short for "congress on the future of engineering software." Here, I relate some of what I heard and overheard.
Figure 1 COFES was founded by Brad Holtz (pictured) and Evan Yares
- - -
The theme of #COFES2017 was complexity. Conclusion: All of reality is complex, and there is a lot about complexity we don't understand. For instance, even though science has mapped out all 350 neurons of a worm, we still don't know how neurons motivate the behavior of worms -- let alone neurons in humans. Well, it's science that doesn't understand it.
One take-away from complexity keynote speaker Melanie Michell is that Long-tail distributions are more normal than Normal (bell-curve) distributions. As Michell tries to find the last slide in her talk, someone in the audience yells out, "PowerPoint is a complex system!" Speaking of which, why is much software still too complex for most regular people to master, even after ten years of iPad'ing?
The former owner of a CAD company is asking us sitting with him at the lunch table if the firm's software should revert to its original name. Everyone replies in the affirmative. He figures the firm lost millions due to the name change some years ago. A new owner had changed the name to show the software had a new owner. The software remained the same, but the new name slid it into, shall we say, obscurity.
Amada Piao, a COFES intern, presents a poster of her thesis topic: using blockchain technology for infrastructure projects (see figure 2).
Figure 2 Outline of thesis topic applying blockchains to our world
Sitting next to me at a pre-COFES event is a Silicon Valley developer with a new 3D CAD product, still in stealth mode, using the kernel from C3Dlabs. He plans to let me tell you all about it in August, maybe.
Former ceo of CadKey Bob Bean describes to me how he got into his new IoT business: his $3,500 guitar had cracked from too little humidity. So he formed Blustreamcorp.com and now sells a $50 humidity, temperature, and Impact sensor that reports its readings every 30 minutes via Bluetooth. Its battery lasts two years, he says, and it's been picked up by several guitar manufacturers.
The owner of a Russian CAD software firm tells me that he sees two realities today: the one invented by the media and politicians, the other that the rest of us live in. He says he experienced no problems traveling to the USA, and once here he found Americans welcoming him as he toured the Grand Canyon and Segway'd his way through a part of the Arizona desert.
A former IBM employee describes how a report he wrote may have been partly responsible for the break-up between Dassault Systemes and IBM.
Then there is the story of the owner of a CAD system who decided to have the kernel rewritten to make it modern. After spending several million dollars and ten years, the kernel was revealed. After two months, it went dark. The programmers had decided to throw in compatibility with competitors, to which a much larger competitor objected. CAD vendors have to walk the fine line between insufficient compatibility with competitors and too much of it.
The oldest attendee is said be 90; the youngest are interns from universities.
Marc Halpern hosts a most energizing roundtable on the future of products. (See figure 3.) John Deere comes in for special condemnation by attendees, as Deere now uses an EULA to prevent farmers from repairing their own tractors, such as during the uber-busy harvest season -- when Deere has insufficient technicians to do the work.
Figure 3 Marc Halpern hosting The Future of Products mini-session
Steve Wolfe asks at his session why MCAD software doesn't just add needed screws, bolts, and other fasteners automatically, based on size of holes in 3D models. Mr Wolfe has the distinction of launching the very first newsletter for the CAD industry, CAD Report, in 1980.
Heard at a seminar: "Deterioration data is a good way to determine which parts are more likely to wear out years in the future."
At one mini-session, a consultant relates a story of how Autodesk apparently is cranking up subscription fees upon contract renewals. In the case he reported, the mandatory fee allegedly went from $4.9M to $9.4M to pay for "necessary" add-ons, like consulting. The problem, of course, is that if any firm on subscription says No, the software simply stops working with the next 30-day check-in.
Joe Walsh in his presentation of ASSESS -- analysis, simulation, system engineering software summit -- says that simulation is the most demanding application, computing-wise. (See figure 4.) The purpose of ASSESS is to figure out how to solve the upcoming problem of getting access to simulation, more quickly. There are not enough specialists to carry out the upcoming demand for simulation: the solution is not to reduce number of clicks from 3 to 2 as demand will soar 10,000x, ASSESS feels. Instead, 'democratization' is needed in simulation, a term another ACCESS presenter says he used to mock the term (quite rightly!), but no more. I'm sorry, but as an ex-engineer, the idea of letting 'anyone' (including non-users) employ simulation is frightening. http://www.assessinitiative.com/
Figure 4 Joe Walsh presenting ASSESS during a special session
A pro-cloud speaker at a pre-COFES conference contends that CAD users are more prone to try software if they do not need to install it, making cloud apps more accessible. Browser-based CAD allows developers do A-B testing, he reports, where half of users get one version of a new feature, and half get a different version. Onshape has shown that a broad CAD system with multiple simultaneous users is possible, but was very difficult to implement; they certainly needed that $160 million in funding, he says. The speaker concludes that broad CAD tools are giving way to single-purpose apps. New types of users, who are not typical CAD users, will employ them.
Then there is the mainstage speaker who worried about other people living in silos, listening only to echo-chamber opinions. From the presentation, it is clear the speaker does not realize he also lives in a silo. Self-awareness, folks!
- - -
The big news about COFES itself is that Brad Holtz officially handed over the planning and running of COFES from his for-profit Cyon Research to a new non-profit COFES Institute. Mr Holtz and his team ran the event for 18 years, but now it will be presided over by Vincent Caprio and his staff. COFES 2018 will be back at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, April 12-15, 2018. http://www.cofes.com/
Sponsor: Okino Graphics
== Professional 3D File Conversion/Viewing/Rendering Software ==
For over 2 decades Okino (Toronto) has provided mission-critical 3D conversion software used extensively by tens of thousands of professionals. We develop, support and convert between all major CAD, DCC & VisSim formats. Robert Lansdale (CTO, email@example.com) tailors each package to the specific conversion requirements of each customer.
Popular formats include 3ds Max, Maya, C4D, LW, ProE, SolidWorks, Inventor, SketchUp, DWF/DWG, DGN, CATIA, IGES/STEP/Parasolid, 3D PDF/U3D, JT, FBX, Collada & more. We know data translation, and provide immaculate developer-to-customer relations. http://www.okino.com
And Now the Rest of the News...
Posted to our WorldCAD Access blog in the past week or two:
On April 25, Bricsys is holding an evening for future architects, designers, engineers interested in BIM. See http://events.bricsys.com/
martynday (@martynday on Twitter): Autodesk dealers were encouraged to sell perpetual licences b4 end of deadline +then encouraged 2 convert them 2 subs #wrong
Here's something different: FEA for rendering software. Vectorworks acquired the Braceworks 3D FEA (finite element analysis) add-on for Spotlight from DeerSoft. More info about Braceworxs at https://www.deersoft.de/ . Puzzle solved! Software previously known as Braceworxs is being renamed 'Braceworks' following the acquisition by Vectorworks so that product names match -- ending with -works.
InspectionXpert isadding balloons to PDF drawings, including scanned ones, using OCR to capture tolerance values. https://inspectionxpert.com/
Alright then. "Industry 4.0 refers to the intermeshing of the value chains in development, production, service and sales using state-of-the-art information and communication technologies." Reading some press releases is like taking Melatonin. "A broad reaching multi-industry initiative with a primary goal to facilitate a revolution of enablement that will vastly increase the availability and effectiveness of engineering simulation."
ASSESS Initiative is holding its second annual ASSESS Congress Nov 1-3 2017 in Potomac MA. Limit: 150 attendees. Purpose of ASSESS is to figure out how to solve the upcoming problems of getting access to simulation, more quickly. http://www.assessinitiative.com/registration/
Should Paypal.me not operate in your country, then please use www.paypal.com and the account of firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or mail a cheque (US$ or CDN$ only, please) to upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd., 34486 Donlyn Avenue, Abbotsford BC, V2S 4W7, Canada.
"Since the ultimate limits of possibility can only be discovered by perpetually transgressing the present limits, a technological view of nature and truth commences an interminable revolution against every antecedent order or given limit." - Michale Haby "A More Perfect Absolutism"