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Thoughts

Introducción a Fusion 360

The free meetup events and the no-shows

By | 3D Printing, Events, Thoughts | No Comments

Today I am a bit angry, but I can’t do much in respect apart from venting out through my blog as a megaphone to share my pain.

The 3D Print Barcelona group about 3D Printing exists since 2013, and we perform events through meetup platform from the beginning.

Fusion 360 módulo Sculpt

Fusion 360 interface in Sculpt module

 

Today it was my turn, an introduction event to the Autodesk Fusion 360 tool. I’ve been using it for some months now and I love it.

So I felt I was empowered enough to give an Introduction session, obviously with the corresponding prep work that was a couple of days.

During the 2h that the session lasted we were going to see how to model a revolver starting from a picture model.

Revolver S&W_60_3in Fusion360 Revolver SW render

I obviously modeled this before hand to have a clear view of the steps to follow. Here is a picture of the real revolver and a simplified version render.

The damn no-shows

The question is that for today we had RSVP of 27 people.

From these years experience I am used to see that more or less 1/3 do not show and do not cancel or anything at all. We are so civilized.

Buttoday, after an hour and a half preparing the eventes in place setting up all the computers software, only 8 out of 27 came.

And honestly after this shock I looked backwards and realized that there is a growing trend this last year in this no-shows behaviour. Which is to RSVP for an event andthen don’t show up, don’t give notice, don’t cancel, or anything at all. If it was a third in the past, now I think it’s more around half or even more.

I was once in a Woocommerce event, free of course, where more than 20 people had RSVP and I found myself there with just two other guys that sowed up. I was really feeling bad for the presenter who had all the chairs setup and in place for a normal group size.

I don’t know what can be done about it, but I surely have an opinion in respect, and this is that I find it completely unacceptable.

Introducción a Fusion 360

In today’s event

Solutions

There is in fact no miracle solution. I was once in meeting of meetup groups organizers to discuss the topic of no-shows and how each one was trying to solve it, with no clear conclusion.

There are groups, e.g. those of mountain activity, that directly ban the members after two no-shows because in general it implies to leave someone else without room. or if he drives to leave others with no option to come. But applying this implies creating a list and checking in every event, to setup and perform a no-show control for every member of the group. Then the group instead of being a meeting of happy and open people becomes something else. And this control job is not appealing to anyone.

Other groups request a symbolic payment of 2-3€ because when people pay they think better what they do in terms of RSVP and they value more the event. It’s sad but it is like this. But the drawback is that it implies someone has to become responsible for the money collected, and worse, those who cancel within the appropriate timeframe are entitled to a refund and you will have to manage a new control again.

Others just send email reminders stating that there is limited room and they have to cancel if they don’t come. It has some effect but I don’t think it is much. When we have done this we kept having no-shows. It is tru that for this Fusion360 event the date was scheduled before summer, and it can ahppen that people that RSVP at that moment already forgot, but unless the platform is not working as it should anymore they keep receiving messages in particular with the event details update few days before.

In our meetup group 3D Print Barcelona we are not in favor of setting up controls or any other coercive measures. We like to spread  and share our knowledge for free, and the reward is the people that appreciate this and then join us to share also themselves.

But these behaviours sort of blur the group intrinsic motivation, which is just a pure hobby.

The future ahead of us

I don’t know what I will do in the future, I think the next event I will be presenting myself and that implies preparation work is going to be paid, as per this experience. For the usual events in presentation format with no preparation required like Introduction to 3D Printing that we are used to perform, I don’t care if people does not show becuase we don’t have RSVP limits or anything like this.

In any case, I keep for myself the satisfaction of being useful for those eight people that came today and enjoyed the event at full 😀

If anyone has any suggestion, I really welcome them in the comments!

And I take the opportunity to remind that on Saturday, October 28th we organize the Printer Party, an open event for everyone. More info at 3D Print Barcelona.

 

Feria in3dustry

Cambio de vida

By | Startup, Thoughts | No Comments

After 17 years working for a multinational and at 46 years old I’ve done a change of life, a big bet that I hope works well.

It did not happen overnight, well the exit yes obviously, but I had entrepreneurial desires that became more and more strong. At the beginning I was thinking about starting up something and it was like looking at a megaproject like buitnding a castle on my own, but then I got myself involved in the meetup groups related to startups in Barcelona (strongly recommended). Her ethe majority of people has around 25 to 33 years, so less risk averse that older people to say it nicely 😛

When there are no kids, no mortgage, etc everything gets easier: change of job, live with no income for a while, change of country, etc…

Kudos for the people who start businesses with kids, mortgages and other responsibilities on top!! it’s not my case so risk is lower for me. The truth is that my mother, who was from the conservative generation with the concept of a lifetime job, would have had a heart attack!!

In these groups there is usually networking time and people talk about their projects and somehow you get caught with this atmosphere.

I got bored of the current format “I have an idea – build a team – pitch and more pitch – raise interest from an investor that wants to multiply its investment 10 times – …”. The TV show “Silicon Valley” shows it very well, don’t miss any opportunity to watch it!!

In my case I prefer businesses that generate revenue form the beginning and grow organically. No “change the world” and no “take the world”…

After this I moved into action and did some attempt as a side project with members of the 3D group. It did not work out but I saw it was feasible to build something. That was two years ago. It was the moment to build a DLP 3D printer, now there are even too many…

After this project and some other stuff related to 3D y came back to focus on my mountain activities, with always great satisfaction 😀

LynxCross gym

But the need stays there, and at the beginning of last year I joined Christian Ducos and Flor to open a gym. It was not an usual gym and it was more a proof of concept to see how the methodology worked. It’s called LynxCross. Functional training where climbing walls is an important element in the high intensity circuits that we practice there. Wood walls and holds and climbing with socks, a new concept for all public that is working really well.

Christian already designed the activity like more than a year ago before we joined our forces, in an indoor boulder. And we have been defining the activity in this year and a half, since in fact we all came from rock climbing and we changed the concept to leave the climbing shoes out. You can check a good article in Catalan in TimeOut.

Christian is fully dedicated to the gym and we have been growing organically with the resources we had, so if it requires a certain amount of dedication form my side it is not full-time requirement and in fact I could not make a proper living form it now. Now that we have plans to open a second center we’ll see….

Here you can see my crazy partner having fun in a moment he did not have clients months ago 😛

Every Friday at 19h30 there is a free Introduction session. It really works because people can try by themselves and make their minds if they like it or not. The usual client profile is a person that is bored already of doing workouts with machines or weights.

Circuito Lynxcross

An example of an Intro session. Practicing a LynxCross cricuit

To have a better idea of what we do the best is to look at our Instagram account. Plenty of creativity, signature of Christian!

Natural Robotics 3D printers

But I kept having interest on 3D printing, and so I joined Héctor Esteller to start a company to design and make 3D printers. It’s not the best moment for consumer segment, the hype is over, but for professional it still works and will continue working.

I spoke with Héctor a year ago already but I had too many things starting at the same time so each one followed his path. We kept seeing each other frequently with the 3D Print Barcelona group, in fact we perform together the Introduction to 3D Printing talks with a very good connection, and finally we met again this year.

And we started Natural Robotics. With a filament 3D printer, the Delta Black, that Héctor had already developed and tested some time ago, and with good expectations with our SLS low cost prototype, the VIT. So I just jumped into this, plenty of stress for some months because I had to combine activities in both projects with my job in the multinational, and now fully dedicated to both.

 

Feria in3dustry

In In(3D)ustry fair in June in Barcelona

The thing I most enjoyed since the very first day of my new life, especially with the current hot weather, is to not have to ear a suit anymore. I love going with shorts and flip-flops 😀

How can go back now haha. I had already abandoned the tie a while ago at least…

And the other thing is not having an alarm in the morning. But here I have to find a balance because I am a night guy by nature. I was already going to sleep late when I had work schedule and now without time schedule pressure well…no comments…my body will adjust over time, I can pretend to change everything in a row!!

I will active and in Barcelona in August so if you have any topic you need to know, you want to know more about my experience because you are in a similar phase, etc… glad to talk over a beer.

Ethereum

Ethereum and The DAO

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I followed the Ethereum evolution since last summer.

Ethereum

Ethereum was sort of the step beyond the creation of Bitcoin. It still uses the blockchain structure but instead of just focusing on cryptocoins, it can manage any type of contract, in fact it holds a piece of code. So they are called smart contracts.

The blockchain, through its decentralized network of users, performs the validation of the contracts. You can build anything over the Ethereum structure, like more cryptocoins, any type of transactional service to the point that you could even get married in Ethereum, have a land registry in there and track all real estate buy and sell transactions, even a decentralized organization. Up to your imagination.

It is really powerful. Many startups are working on services on top of it.

It is so powerful that a group of banks are also looking at the blockchain concept to build a private blockchain network among them and simplify their internal transactions, especially in the validation aspect. It is expected to bring high levels of savings just because of that, in addition to the immediacy of validation and reduction of risk.

Ethereum raised a cryptocoin to fund the foundation that works on the development. It is the Ether (ETH), which is available for trading in several trading services such as Poloniex or Kraken. Since July the ETH value has multiplied several times its value and now there is also a substantial increase due to the release of The DAO.

DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization. It is based on Ethereum and it is an organization based on software. The DAO is a type of smart contract that allows to run a decentralized organization. The first DAO to appear is The DAO and was created by Slock.it team and funded during this month of May. The participants exchange ETH for DAO tokens. The tokens owners have capability to submit proposals to The DAO and to vote upon proposals The DAO has received. There is a Curator role to avoid misbehaviors, for example someone having the majority putting a proposal to take all the ETH sent to him.

The DAO is a piece of code that manages ETH in fact, so it cannot own things and, even the huge amount of funding it is taking (as of today 143 million dollars), it cannot act as an investment fund. But it can sign contracts with contractors, when this has been voted in a proposal. More details in this TechCrunch article.

There is a high expectation with The DAO, I am concerned that the speculation is really high here. And there is also a lot of uncertainty. As the funding gets bigger and bigger and the only possible activity is to request services we will see the ability to bring some ROI there. Anyway the destiny of the DAO will be driven by the proposals and the token owners votes. We don’t know if there are any major investors that could strongly influence its direction with their votes.

This is the first experiment of a decentralized organization, and in fact Ethereum provides the infrastructure to build more DAOs on top of it. Let’s see how this evolves.

I see a lot of potential for community driven activities where there is no owner and no need for a foundation, particularly in open source ones.

For example let’s say a repository of models for 3D printing. There are many repositories out there but the most relevant are linked to a 3D printer manufacturer e.g. Thingiverse, Youmagine and Pinshape. This dependency on a “for profit” company is not very reassuring. So we could build a DAO with small contribution from several people. It has less risk than a crowdfunding since the funds use is decided by proposals vote of the members and you can steer the destiny of the DAO through participation.

Something to think about…!

Yoda ABS

3D printing – the hype is finished

By | 3D Printing, Thoughts | No Comments

We are all human and we cannot avoid to get excited. This explains some of the bubbles, magnified by the natural drive to greed for some people.

3D Printing for consumers

We also suffered this with 3D printing. In fact, it follows the natural cycle that Gartner points in the Annual Hype Cycle Chart.

lt’s interesting to see in this blog the evolution of Gartner charts since 2012. Consumer 3D printing moved from the peak of Inflated Expectations to way in the Trough of Disillusionment. However, Enterprise 3D printing is approaching the Plateau of Productivity.

 

gartner-hype-2012-to-2015

The effect is already visible, with several movements and announcements:

Pinshape joins Formlabs

3D Printing for Enterprise

In Enterprise 3D Printing there is not much to say. The industry existed for thirty years, formerly known as Rapid Prototyping and it will continue to grow. I don’t know the 2015 stats, but until now and for all these years this industry experienced annual growth rates of 25-30%.

Whv? Because 3D printing has obvious advantages for prototyping. In addition, during this hype period new fabrication techniques and tools, or substantial improvements, have moved 3D printing from the prototyping scenario to final product fabrication. This is the case of aeronautical companies, automobile, health and others that benefit of 3D printing fabrication of high value added products.

lt is true that 3D printing allows making objects with complex geometries, impossible to build in another way. So they simplify the fabrication process, add lightness and strength with maximum customization, and these advantages keep spreading into more and more industries. Enterprise 3D printing will not stop growing since there is a clear driver for improvement.

Conclusions

On the other hand, the consumer 3D printing is decreasing. Deception among consumers?
Probably. The manufacturers also deserve it somehow. I remember pictures of Makerbot a couple of years ago where they were showing objects that were not made with their own printers, pure unfaithful marketing. The consumer has not been properly educated, giving the impression that it was another home appliance and as easy to use as an appliance, only thinking about selling and selling more. While in fact the printers have maintenance, have problems, bottom line you need to be patient. And all this to make objects that are not wonderful in fact.

You reap what you sow, so here it is: Disillusionment.

In our 3D Print Barcelona group we have been using 3D printers for years, and we make clear the constraints and limitations in our Introduction events. Sooner or later you will have to deal with the 3D printer. Our group events continue to be fully crowded, so I cannot tell from this if there is a downward trend.
In fact events like “3D printing workshop: from your mind to your hands” had a waiting list longer than the attendees numbers. We scheduled another session and we had waiting list again. What is special here? it is hands-on. We explain how to make the whole process starting with the idea, modeling with an application, slicing to transfer it to the 3D printer and finally the printing.

There is no star use case for consumers. For example, 2D printer avoided people to go to the printing shops then. I think it was more about comfort than price, since the price per liter of the ink is way higher than any other liquid on the planet. Now 2D printers are also in a downward trend because the smartphones adoption has made us all more digital. One example: you don’t need to print the ticket anymore to attend an event, or the boarding pass to board a plane.
In 3D printing you have two options as a consumer:

  • You model objects yourself
  • You download models from a repository

Using only the second option does not justify the cost of a 3D printer. However, there was a study that concluded that printing your day to day objects was even cheaper than buying them so you could offset the printer cost.
When I started in 3D printing 3 years ago I thought modeling was the bottleneck, the one thing that prevented 3D printer massive adoption at home. I was thinking about the long learning curve of a CAD application then. But when I see software so intuitive as TinkerCAD, I think this is not the problem anymore.

The problem is to have something to print. And I am not talking about the usual Yodas and vases. I am talking about something that people need, in the broader sense of need.

Leaving hobbies particular cases apart and the prosumers who use the printer for some professional or almost professional activities, what people around me is printing at home is:

  • Replacements and repairs. Old spare parts that broke and there is no replacement. You model it and you print it. e.g. an old microwave button.
  • Objects improvements. Tuning stuff. e.g. a bicycle support, GoPro accessories.
  • Practical customized objects. e.g. small drawers to keep something in particular, USB cables support to fit at your table, etc.
  • Decoration. The vases and the Yodas!

Yoda ABS

You have to be passionate about the topic to get involved, honestly.
How many 3D printers may be parked somewhere at people’s home? Who knows…
Anyway I am ta king at macro levels. The big sales and consumer industry growth are gone, does not mean that there are niches that will continue to grow.

In prosumers it’s obvious, the DLP 3D printers bloomed and there are more and more jewelry shops that use them. Designers need to see their creations quick and with the ability to perform iterations, no sense to order it outside since you offset the printer cost pretty soon.
Makers are always making stuff, it is a nice tool to combine with other things.
And we have the hobbyists. They find multiple options to apply 3D printing in their hobby. If it is related to small dimensions they may need a DLP 3D printer, for example for train models.

Let’s see how this evolves in the following months.

Silent Running poster

Silent Running, the movie

By | maker, Thoughts | No Comments

I recently watched the movie “Silent Running“. It is a sci-fi movie from 1972, predecessor of the well known Star Wars from 1977.

Silent Running poster

I did not know about the film before, and in fact I do not even remember how I ended up watching it. It was reading a reference somewhere, as it went in my ToDo list but unfortunately I don’t record any context about how tasks get created.

This is not an epic movie, there is action but not with the intensity we are used to nowadays. In fact it is a claim for preservation of our environment, with music from Joan Baez to add it to the ecologistic atmosphere.

Here the trailer:

The plot starts with a spaceship where its crew has been growing nature for several years: trees, plants, animals, etc.. nature that does not exist anymore on Earth and as a way of preservation attempt to restore it later. There are several ships with the same purpose.

But the team lead is requested to destroy everything, and then things happen but I am not going to explain more otherwise I would be spoiling the movie 😉

I thought it was not a very notorious film, but I was amazed with the amount of information available in the Web.

Things that make Silent Running special

  • the drones design: It is a real hack, given their small size. They were managed by amputees, custom made for each actor, using their arms as if they were the drone legs, giving a lot of humanity to their movements. They can be reprogrammed, e.g. there is a scene of a nice poker game.
  • the spaceship: That was a real old-fashion maker stunt of 8 metres long. Making the spaceship model took 6 months. There are shots taken near and with travelling, similar to what we see in Starwars some years later. Would have been easier with 3d printing, right?
  • the karts: they have a nice design. You just want to drive them!

Silent Running drone

Source: cyberneticzoo.com

To summarize, I believe it is another of these cult films that you must watch once if you are into sci-fi. The plot is not very well reviewed by critics, and I also found it lacking of content while the message is however pretty clear. On the bright side, the FX and the acting of Bruce Dern are really good.

Enigma

The Imitation Game movie

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I just watched “The Imitation Game” movie based on Alan Turing‘s life and his involvement with breaking the nazi encryption codes during World War II. The machine used to encrypt messages was known as Enigma.

Enigma

The Enigma machine

The movie is based on the book “Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges.

There are of course some inaccuracies, as you usually find in any Hollywood movie where the story and the entertainment is more important than a good depiction of any real fact.

Anyway, yes it entertains and I recommend to watch it. This one is purely focused on Alan Turing’s character and personality, sort of intend of a biopic.

I also watched another film some years ago that I remember more interesting to me, because there was more focus on the Enigma machine, the decryption process and techniques. But also full of inaccuracies, for example on the Polish involvement. In this case the film was presented as fictional so nothing to complain 😉

The title was simply “Enigma“.

 

Back to the Imitation Game movie, what I found a bit nonsense is that the title is based on Turing’s work in 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” where he defines a test to be able to identify if an individual is a person or a computer, on a loose description. Check here for more details.

Anyway, the funny thing is that the film mainly shows his work in Bletchley Park as cryptoanalyst to decypher the Enigma codes, and there are only few minutes dedicated to the question of computers thinking. Why this title? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a marketing decision. In any case, the title is not representative of the film at all.

NYSE

Gamification and stock exchange

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A couple of years ago I took a MOOC course about gamification. I was short on time so I just watched the videos and skipped evaluations. I didn’t need any certificate, just desire for knowledge.

It’s still available and really recommend it. Very comprehensive and clear examples, also bringing guests to explain specific topics. Link here: Gamification at Coursera.

I also have people I know that invest in the stock exchange. Funny thing, I made the connection that people engage so heavily and is able to loose so much money because of the gamification elements it inherently contains.

In fact in Spain we say “jugar a la bolsa”.

“Bolsa” is the stock exchange and “jugar” can be translated as playing but also as gambling. Popular wisdom makes it clear!

NYSE

According to Bartle’s types, I think the stock exchange traders fall into the Achievers category. Check this article for interesting content on gamification elements.

 

What are the elements from stock exchange that relate to gamification? from my point of view, quite many:

  • learning curve and mastery. People get more experience as they trade, win and make mistakes.
  • direct and immediate feedback. People can get immediate feedback on how they are doing with their decisions. If strategy is good there are immediate rewards.
  • clear goals. Earn money, right? but the challenge is to master when to sell if a stock price is increasing, before it starts falling. So the goal is to earn as much money as possible.
  • meaningful choice. People decide which shares to invest in, when to buy and when to sell. They have access to information to make meaningful decisions.
  • increasing challenge.  The more experience the more different types of derivatives and other products they can trade. And the more they want to earn,
  • reload or infinite lives. People can loose a lot of money, their whole fortune, but there is always the feeling people can recover. “One more game and I win!”
  • socializing. People meet and chat with other traders, have references of people with more success, sort of leaderboard.

If you are curious to know what type of gamer you are, check the quiz on gamerdna.
[Update March 2017: site is no longer available]

Founder Institute

I left the Founder Institute

By | Startup, Thoughts | No Comments

This week I left the Founder Institute.

Founder Institute

For those that have not heard about it, it is an accelerator program for startups compatible with your current job. Sessions are held one evening per week for four months.

The main reason to leave is that I moved to another project in December. The program, that has standard objectives for the whole world, went into a mismatch with the priorities I have for our startup ClarityFab (we make 3dprinters).

So you end up doing work that, even if it is for your startup, has lower priority than other tasks where you really need to focus.

In addition, the sessions have presentations from mentors about the different topics throughout the startup creation: customer review, revenues, legal & IP, etc. However, as I’ve attended a significant number of events startup related over the last year, I actually was not finding myself learning anything substantially new.

There is a piece that can be improved from my point of view. The program is setup like a competition system where only the best projects survive (you can join another project if yours is weak). It reminds to me the philosophy quite American style like “only the best make it”.

But in fact, if you have some weaknesses what makes sense is to get special support for the weak topic (groups of participants are created with the intention that the group provides support). You join the program just for this, to get help. If you have to do it on your own you then just don’t need to join any program.

Where I see a good proposition. If you have hard work capacity and you want someone to push you to build a startup in 4 months this is a option fully compatible with your day job. Accelerators usually require full-time dedication from the very beginning.

Some advice. Do not underestimate the amount of work to be done, if you want to do it well.

Now fully dedicated to clarityfab.com! This week we closed our search for an office 🙂

PS: opinions expressed here are personal and my own.

Titanic Gym

UX in traditional businesses

By | Platform, Thoughts | No Comments
Titanic Gym

The first class gymnasium and the only one onboard Titanic

I am a member of a chain of gyms in Barcelona.

And I am seeing how the User Experience is decreasing from time to time through a strategy in search of revenues not very well defined, and of course looking for cost reductions but in elements that are too visible for clients.

We talk a lot about UX in websites, but it is also important in traditional businesses. The fact is that for a website it is relatively easy to know the impact of changes in user experience. You have a full set of metrics and you can do A/B tests to know what works ans what not.

In brick & mortar, it is more blind direction, except for the direct feedback from customers if you are willing to listen to it.

In case of gyms they are lucky that there is a lot more friction for a provider change and there is some room for clients tolerance when something goes worse.

 

Some examples of changes that I consider a mistake.

Use the same premises to provide low cost service

This implies there are people that do not have access to some services and then you need to build barriers inside: vending machines for towels, oblige the client to identity identification with a card or a bracelet to get access to any of the normal services anywhere inside the gym (classes, towels, locker rooms, ..). Uncomfortable…

It would make more sense to open low cost centers, but in this case there is additional investment need, of course.

Reduce costs in elements that are really visible

In example to change towels to something that looks more like a napkin. There is clear dissatisfaction from clients.

The trick is that in the Internet you just jump to another website that keeps delivering the service you are used to when something gets worse in the current one. But in this case it is a small decrease in service that the client will finally accept.

My big doubt is, looking at the claims unattended,  how much you can decrease the service level perception to get the clients change directly to another provider even with the burden that comes with it.

Any experience worth sharing in brick & mortar UX?