Tag Archives: Delcam

Autodesk’s Greed Imposed Fatal Hemorrhage

FEED ME Seymore

FEED ME Seymore

As short as two and a half years ago I was in awe of the assembling of the pieces of a software juggernaut. HSM and Delcam had been bought up by Autodesk under Carl Bass who was himself a man who actually used this stuff and understood shop floor manufacturing. From an actual user viewpoint and not like the current head mucky muck with Autodesk who can only count dollars. There is a huge difference between these two mind sets. But I figured that Carl was putting together a manufacturing ecosphere and getting this set of tools in front of students and future business owners/ operators in ways that would bear large amounts of fruit in years to come.

Just as fascinating as it was to see the assembly of the juggernaut is the speed with which it all now comes crashing down. It looks like perhaps Carl was also an advocate of subscription Hell for Autodesk’s customer base. Whether he was also for the gutting of R&D for product development and the huge price increases I will never know. I like to think he left the company because the Anagnost faction conspired with the new hostile investor types who had bought their way to seats on the board to remove him. Unbridled greed with the Anagnost and hostile investor types VS the guy who may have wanted subscription Hell to but perhaps would have stayed closer to the Adobe model than the rape and plunder Anagnost model.

To me Carl showed foresight and planning and methodical conquest of rivals but still providing value to customers. Anagnost on the other hand is the bare face of greed and conspiracy with people who do not use their software products and could care less about users. All they see is someone who promises to deliver a captive market held not by voluntary exchange of money for goods and services but rather squeezed out of people who theoretically have to pay and have no alternative to paying whatever the extortionists want. Living in a purely capital gains world unlike anything this country has seen before quick quarterly stock manipulation to generate fictitious improvements is the new way. These guys want to cash out and then leave when it all turns south and find another Vulture’s roost to occupy for a while. No longer is it what goods or services will make money but how can we lie to the world about share value so we can churn the market and get rich through theft. This then is the new Autodesk.

Remember when companies were bought and sold for steady revenue streams and stock buyers looked for steady dividends to live on? Capital gains were considered the icing on the cake but not the cake. It was something to be hoped for but dividends were king. This was the historic norm up until the late 90’s when the consequences of Clinton selling the Lincoln bedroom to influence peddlers freed banks to embark on wholesale plunder of manufacturing by being able to invest or offer financial services not at all related to lending. This has led to stocks being grossly overvalued by historic norms by the traditional metric of cost to dividend ratios being chief amongst investor considerations.

So we come full circle to the world of Autodesk today. Autodesk sells software products to people like me. Well let me rephrase that, used to sell to me. We make long-term use of the software to build real world things and we use it for decades at a time throughout careers offering services and physical goods to customers who have a standard of quality we must meet. If we don’t they will go elsewhere. We have to take a long term view of the productivity and stability and the improvement of our software tools because it is our life blood.

Piranhas now inhabit the Autodesk leadership and are creeping onto the board and what can we chew up and on today is now the future planning metric. Feed me so I can leave when the body is consumed and go find another body.

Here are two links. https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/moving-to-subscription/bd-p/2017 will take you to an Autodesk forum they would rather you did not know about. Spend time here and see what actual users who have to think in terms of decades and careers think of what Autodesk is doing. Next up is http://www.seekingalpha.com/amp/article/4077637-autodesks-position-continues-become-precarious for a stock analysts thoughts on Autodesk’s eight underwater quarters in a row and their future.

One of the huge things hardly discussed in my opinion is the forcible breaching of security and losing the ability to protect IP by Autodesk forcing people to have to work online. The most egregious offender is Fusion360 which demands you go online and save all edits and files to a remote server where you have to rent your data back forever to use it. Apparently Autodesk is also working on license verification which has to allow online access from your workstation which is supposed to be secure and not go online to get permission to run. Theoretically this was supposed to happen “only” once a month but comments on the Subscription forum are indicating this could be as much as a daily occurrence or more. This is for all subscription services and automatically breaches all your confidentiality agreements when you are forced to go online to check in. It is just a matter of time before huge breaches of security occur to an Autodesk customer because of this. Autodesk is certain this will happen to by the way and you can verify this by reading the TOS where they spell out they are NOT liable for any damages incurred by having to go online.

This then is the true regard this new wave of management has for its customers. Sit down shut up pay up and don’t whine and complain. FEED ME SEYMORE!!! The only important thing in this whole wide world view of theirs is their plans to get in and cash out (wouldn’t you like to see Baked Bean Anagnost’s golden parachute he is assiduously preparing so no matter what his rear is covered in gold).

You buy anything from Autodesk and pin your future livelihood to it you better think long and hard about how they regard you. Most telling I think is the bean counter mentality referenced in the Seeking Alpha article where Autodesk states they are cutting R&D. Now this coming from a company that has already dropped the ball on adding value to existing software through improvements is quite revealing. Years go by without significant program improvements and problems linger for years without being fixed. Read what is said by satisfied customers about this on the Subscription forum.

Today regard the new Autodesk Juggernaut. Rather than eating up market share it will be eating customers. Autodesk is looking for new hors d’oeuvre’s,
customers and it could be you if you are silly enough.

Autodesk And The Future

Last week at IMTS it was my privilege to attend the Customer Advisory Board for primarily Autodesk CAM products namely HSM all flavors and Fusion 360 the same. Delcam lives in a bit of a different world and hardly anything regarding them came up and I don’t recall an actual current Delcam user there.

I took three pages of notes on things I found relevant or interesting and still have not settled upon how to word what I saw and heard. The meeting gave me pause though and I find myself rethinking what the future holds and why for CAD and CAM. This will take three posts so bear with me and read them all. If you have not figured it out yet I am not a Twitter type individual and I believe many things can’t be covered in a few paragraphs unless you wish to do so superficially. I want to know and understand and I assume you do too.

There is a dividing set of paths regarding industrial software coming up and two directions people will take. The first which is where I reside and intend to stay is permanent seats for the sake of user control and security. About security. I heard the oft repeated tedious straw man argument that surely since we all do banking and purchasing online, that we trust our money online, the same must hold true with the intellectual property that resides in our designed products. I had to explain yet again why this is most emphatically NOT true. It goes like this.

Every month you receive a consise update on all your online financial activity and you can verify everything that has transpired. If there is fraud and you catch it within a reasonable time frame, and you are given tools to do so with monthly statements, you will be made whole. This week I had to fiddle around with my credit card company while purchasing some stainless steel funnels. Money was going to an unusual place and they wanted to know it was me before they approved the transaction. This happens more than I wish which tells me that financial transactions online are way to porous to threats and this irritation is one of the tools to combat fraud. But you can be made whole here for damages.

Your intellectual property goes away and there is no finite way of auditing what it was and when it was that I know of. Plus what is the value? The cost of R&D plus marketing plus tooling and raw goods and wages and all that stuff needed to bring a product to the end-user. What is the value of something where inspiration may only strike once in a lifetime? Add into that the potential which may not be possible to calculate until there is a history of sales to predict by. Trivial things like Hula Hoops or Pet Rocks sound really stupid until you realize that the person who did it became wealthy off of it. And that in this day and time the Chinese knockoffs can get your product to market quicker than perhaps the original designer could who had to jump through the legal and governmental imposed whatevers whereas the thief in China did not. China is not the only threat they are just by far the worst one.

So once a month or more your financial transactions are comprehensively scrutinized and if you have to go online with your intellectual property it is a crap shoot and the best you can do is best practices to stop hacking. Financial things are covered and not one company involved with online intellectual property from the server farm to the software author your ISP and the internet backbone will do the same for the life blood of your company. Read the EULA or T&C of any one of those outfits and see for yourself. I did and you won’t believe how little faith they have in the online security of the services or products they sell to you.

One of the “exciting” possible future things was the idea of Blue Tooth communication between PC’s, smart phones and CNC equipment. Yes you too can stand in front of your mill with your smart phone and edit your CAM program on the fly and update your workstation file and on and on. Made to appeal to the lazy side of people this wonder would allow instant communication and CAM plan updates blah blah blah. I do that quickly now with my workstation and USB Flash drive which is all of maybe eight feet port to port. We won’t however talk about the little blue tooth receiver planted in the weeds next to your shop that also receives all your lazy man’s time-saving of seconds or a few footsteps. The real-time savings of course accrue to the dude who got your CAD and CAM data and did not have to do anything other than record it. He will surely be excited. But yes I guess the cool factor was there for those who like this sort of stuff.

All that being said though I think that in many ways Fusion 360 and the people who use it are going to be a big influence on the future. Far more profoundly than I thought possible before I met actual users and why they were there and what they were doing with it. I still sit and think of this each day and wonder just how much of what I have taken for granted will reside on one fork of the path and just how much over time will migrate to a way of operation that is wide open to security problems as I see it. Which leads to the question of just how many small guys need that security? That need that security at the permanent seat or full-blown design and machining software price? That would not be able to start a business with really scarce capital unless software was cheap.

The numbers of people who are actually using Fusion360 after downloading and not an aggregate of downloads and not used + downloaded and then used like many report as the valid number is huge. No I am not allowed to state the number we were told but if that number is true it is staggering. I see no reason to doubt it either by the way.  I was impressed with the Autodesk staff present compared to the ones I have met elsewhere with other companies for the no BS blow smoke up your rear attitude they had.

Autodesk is I think the world leader in aiding startups to begin and prosper with relevant software. They generate huge armies of students that know the products and do not have to be trained nearly as much since they have the basics from school. Solid Works (not Dassault’s nightmare Catia however) does this second best but waaaay behind. Siemens UGS has no clue how far behind they are and I think of Solid Edge and how you can’t find anyone to hire 99% of the time already trained. Well maybe only 95% but who cares. Solid Edge is incredible design software compared to Inventor but you would never know it since you can hardly find users of it plus the only integrated CAM product for Solid Edge namely CAMWorks is not user friendly or reasonably priced. UGS and now Siemens are to blame for this. Autodesk lets you use full-blown seats of sadly now subscription only software for FREE if your company makes less than $100,000.00 per year.

The idea that I first had about the Autodesk Juggernaut steamrolling the competition a couple of years ago was most thoroughly reinforced last week.

At IMTS a few things I found of interest. CAMWorks was set up in a smallish sized booth with not much traffic I could see. Gee I wonder why? Mastercam had a TON of sales demo dudes and as far as I could see way to many of them twiddling thumbs. They were quite proud of finally adopting the ribbon bar and organizing their GUI better many years after most of their competition did. The new Mastercam has been well received though by local users I know so this is a good thing for them and their long suffering users. Esprit had a high volume demo stage but I don’t think there were high volume sales being generated. Vero was there and did not look to be a hopping joint. Autodesk had a number of sales guys, maybe to many I don’t know you tell me but they also had lots of constant traffic especially for HSM and Fusion 360. Delcam not so much and since the price of Delcam products can jump up to $80,000.00 at times I can see why not. CAM competitors to HSM and Fusion need to be very afraid for their future.

Haas from what I was told was busy from the beginning to the end. You had to force your way through their booth. I went there Friday afternoon on the last day of the event and was stunned at the traffic. There was no other machine tool builder there I could see with even a reasonable sized crowd to compare with what Haas had. Of course I am a Haas guy and a buy American first guy if possible and love American manufacturing success stories that profile how ingenuity can thrive even in the communist state of California. Hey Haas, get a move on and go to North Carolina where you will be appreciated for the jobs you create instead of being an “enemy of the environment” and “capitalistic swine oppressor of the working class”.  Or Tennessee perhaps near by my shop would also be nice 😉 We like jobs here and no state income tax and we Tennessee Deplorables keep the socialists confined to college campuses and liberal newspapers few will read.

Coming up in the next week or so two related topics. The future with Fusion 360 and why it matters and the culture I found associated with the Autodesk employees I met primarily on the CAM side of course.

 

Update 9-23-16

Speaking of security. So today Yahoo is caught and forced to admit that up to 500,000,000 users may have been compromised. No that number is not a typo. This started in 2014 and is just now public knowledge. Unlike financial monthly statements which provide auditing capabilities the intellectual property of all users at Yahoo was jeopardized  for up to two years and none the wiser except for the crooks and perhaps Yahoo since I assume they must have had some knowledge of bad things going on. If they did not that is even worse and this is a prime example of online peril if you are forced to go there.  Can you picture AWS in this situation with your data? They can and that is why their T&C absolves them of any liability where YOUR stuff is concerned. How I love the cloud, let me count the ways.

Sachem Head, Bloody Knives And Plundering For Autodesk?

What is in a name? My company for instance is called Fieldweld. I chose this years ago as my very first for pay job as an independent contractor was welding a bush hog in a field. I intended at that time to do mostly welding in the field so Fieldweld suited me just fine. You inquire as to the name of most companies and there is a story behind it that makes sense when you find it out.

SO what about Sachem Head one of the hostile investor firms attacking Autodesk? http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/21/travel/havens-weekender-sachem-s-head-conn.html and http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sachem

The search is easy just type in “Sachem Head historical meaning” and off you go. From the first page the two references above were garnered. The NY Times one has as its first paragraph lead in sentence “SACHEM’S HEAD takes its name from a violent part of its history. A 1637 skirmish between the Mohegan Indians, allied with the English, and the Pequots on what is now Bloody Cove Beach led to the beheading of a Pequot sachem, or chief.” It then goes on and talks about an exclusive residential area that has no jobs and where people must travel to earn a living. Kind of like a great place for a hostile investor firm head to live in or aspire to I guess.

The second one from freedictionary is
sachem
Also found in: Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
sa·chem (sā′chəm)
n.
1.
a. A chief of a Native American tribe or confederation, especially an Algonquian chief.
b. A member of the ruling council of the Iroquois confederacy.
2. A high official of the Tammany Society, a political organization in New York City.

So take your pick. Chop off the head of the Indian Chief or be a member of the most corrupt NYC administration group ever in a city that has thrived on corruption since the early 1800’s as a way of life. Which sterling attribute does the chief honcho of Sachem Head aspire to?

What this says to me is someone who intends to eliminate existing leadership and or it’s policies whether right or wrong because we have this short term goal of stealing wealth from the company and the stock market buyers of Autodesk. It also says to me that there is a mercenary me first mindset irregardless of the affects upon the victim mentality which intends to make lots of money not by earning it but by fraud and theft. This is what I call it when the long term investors and customers who bought into a stable and productive forward looking outfit are now going to be cast aside by a hostile 5.7 percent holder of Autodesk shares. Thank Bill Clinton for this as the rules that allow this all started under him and have continued under Bush and now Obama who has allowed it to become an even bigger monster with his corrupt Dept of Justice.

Chop off the head and steal the loot and leave before the corpse starts to get peuwee! So what is in a name anyway? Wouldn’t you like to know just why this Sachem Head name was picked? After September 30 the kid gloves come off and the true face of this nice group will be revealed. Pay attention to this because I don’t think this bodes well for the victims.

Simple Things Can Ruin Your Day

It is funny how we adopt “common” wisdom so often without research. We trust those around us who are doing similar things to give us good advice and most of the time they do. Recently I ran into what could have been a very expensive problem because I trusted similar things advice. A Haas tech rep told me that if I don’t run the mill on parts that once a week I should at least run a program that will keep ball screws lubricated. I ran this program the other day and walked off. The next day I go and look and laying on the Y axis way cover was my Cat40 holder and now broken end mill. Here is the culprit responsible.

no name retention knob

no name retention knob

Shops around here have told me that they save money on retention knobs and typically look for cheap prices or used but in seemingly good condition knobs from places like EBay. They also never torque these things in but just crank on them until tight. Now I know every person by that metric has a different torque value. Since my arms are pretty big I crank them down.

The end result of something like this can ruin your spindle at worst with damage to the inside of it from a loose Cat40 holder clanging around. This is a very expensive repair and will eat up both your time and money. I talked to Technology Sales in Chattanooga TN which has supplied me for years and we got off onto a whole world of things I had no idea of. None of the people around here who have machine shops do either as far as I know.

JM and no name retention knobs

JM and no name retention knobs

Now I happened to have some used JM knobs in use and I will talk about what I observed with them shortly. For now though look at the difference in the construction of the no name and the JM knobs. Now go here and read https://rktorquetest.wordpress.com/pdf-downloads/ . These articles are six and seven years old but the information is current and in searching I could not find anything that supersedes what they talk about with a newer better design. The tooling guy at Technology says there is nothing better and the customers he has that try them migrate solely to the JM knobs rather quickly. These ran me $28.00 each and it is just one of those funny things we machine shop owners do at times. We balk at high prices in some areas because we just don’t know there is an underlying reason to spend the dough anyway.

Judging by the studies done and the specified torque value for the Haas style knobs of 22.5 to 25 foot pounds I was probably only three to four times what I should have been. I have no doubt the no name knob was also not good from the very start but I exacerbated the whole situation with the gorilla torque method. JM also sells a knob socket which you can use to correctly install knobs. In all the shops I have been in I have never seen or been told about this.

JM retention knob torque socket

JM retention knob torque socket

I switched to Schunk hydraulic holders for my HSM Adaptive cutting because you get perfect concentricity on your end mill center line which gives better life and cut quality. I did not realize however that typical retention knobs would introduce measurable distortion of the tapered shank on the Cat40 holders as one of the articles in the web link demonstrates. I could prove to my own satisfaction they were telling the truth by looking at my holders which had been in service for some time.

The ones with the used JM knobs even though no doubt over torqued showed an even contact pattern on the tapered shank. The ones with the no name wonders showed a ring of contact at the top and bottom but very little in between. I can see with my own eyes what they were talking about. I and can also easily believe because of this that there were induced inaccuracies from distortion of the tapered shanks as the study said.

I think it would be time well spent for any milling machine owner to investigate what practice your shop uses and make changes before it comes back to bite you like it almost did to me. Save your spindle and improve your surface finishes and accuracies in one easy step.