If You Can’t Innovate Obfuscate

What prompted this post was reading today about conjecture over Windows 9. My eyes kind of rolled back in my head at the title but I had a look anyway before they rolled back to far. Part of the article was conjecture on what MS would have to offer to get people to continue to spend gobs of cash with them. What would they have to offer? Indeed considering the state of affairs in most companies what is there to offer that buyers would VOLUNTARILY spend cash on.

I am not a code writer nor am I an expert OS tweeker. So what appears to me is what appears to the vast majority of all users I would imagine. And what appears to me is innovation stagnation. Other than this execrable ribbon bar monitor real estate hog what has MS really done for some time now? And the same for über cash cow MS Office. Tweaking around the edges it seems to me without anything really profound or new. So what you do in these cases is change the wrapper and call it new. Drum roll for the ribbon bar which I still see no reason for and which was a PITA in the CAD field to all I spoke to.So we have to relearn how to do the same things all over again for no purpose. Think about it, did this ribbon bar paradigm bring anything to you except the consumption of your time to learn new so MS could claim innovation? And WIN 8 with all those cool new hand gestures. I have had a Dell M6700 for a while now with the touch screen and quite frankly with the option to work however it pleases me I hardly ever use gestures. But then I am working with mine and not playing or showing friends how cool it is to make things zip around without a mouse. So we have the New Big Deal for Win 8, an environment designed for touch screens. The unparalleled thrill of having a 24″ smart phone and how cool is that? Now this window dressing did not bring anything of value to most users so MS had to relent and change things so you could work the way you used to. I think that is conclusive proof that the innovation ceiling has been reached doing things the same old way. Change for the sake of change again. I for one am not going to adopt Win 8. I know Win 7 is not “optimized” for touch screens but I see enough of the functionality to know this is not for me.

Now a word about tech Neanderthals. This is about the time you cutting edge super wonders chime in with how I am a foot-dragging Neanderthal who just does not appreciate new. I dare say that out of my own pocket in the last couple of years I have spent far more than most of you on innovation and buying into more productive ways of doing things both mechanically and in software. I search and look for innovations and better ways and I am an early adopter when it makes sense to do so. The very first time I saw direct editing in SE before ST1 was released was enough to convince me this was powerful in so many ways that I could not afford to do without it. It took until ST3 before what I saw became user-friendly reality but this was new for the sake of users and not new for the sake of new. It was not new window dressing meant to gull the unknowing or naive into coughing up the dough. Now I know that the idea of direct editing has been around for some time but how to make it work really well and with power and precision and wrap it up into a user-friendly package? Plus it required a certain amount of compute capabilities which were not here until recently, or so I have been told. I looked at Ironcad years before I had a look at SE ST. Ahead of its time but it just never clicked with me like the very first time I saw ST. I assume there are serious limitations with it and that is why it has never gained much market share. The idea was sure interesting though. I think Direct Editing is the last powerful thing that can be done for CAD as we know it and it was the last unused innovation arrow that will hit the bullseye for CAD. Until there is a new paradigm for how shapes and data are created and at the age of 60 I don’t expect to see it.

SW has been moribund for years now and the parent company has run into both technical and philosophical social media oriented barricades they may not be able to surmount. SW World 2014 End of Life convention is going to be full of smoke and mirrors. Don’t look at the man behind the curtain look over here. Look at our shiny new old CGM kernel stuff we have for you because we can’t do it with parasolids. So lets put an, ahem, “CAD Ribbon Bar” or “The power of 3DExperience Social Engineering Group Think Power of Cloud Compute” monikers on our stuff and call it cool to hide the fact we have run out of ideas and or talent.

Adobe has not brought about much that I can see that is remarkably better than what has been out there from them for years. Incremental improvements. New improvements of mediocre import they make available to cloud buyers only is all I see.

Autodesk has not been much of an innovator either but they have been a prolific buyer of talent and market share and they do have a plan. And it is the same plan as all the above companies have and it is the same common thread that ties them all together and brings me to my main premise for this post.

When you run out of things people will voluntarily buy, when you run out of true innovations and you can no longer sell yourself on provable new benefits and features to your buying market what is left? Why the Cloud of course. It is the last refuge of those who see that their existing customers could do quite well with permanent licenses and not send you another dime for years and years because what they already have bought does everything they need. The closest thing to a new way out there in CAD right now is SE. It is not coincidence that they are the only major CAD company that is not pushing you into the cloud. They are going to draw customers from the existing pretty much static sized CAD customer market from their competitors because they are the only ones doing really good stuff right now.

Autodesk is my favorite set of bald-faced liars. They stand there and look you in the eye and babble about unlimited compute power when you are using cad and cam programs that have core limits. And yes they do on the cloud too so you just go ahead and slurp that Kool-Aid these guys serve up. Throw in all the connectivity problems and the additional layers of software and software problems that they are going to heap on this and add in no ability to guarantee security and just where is the compelling reason we all should voluntarily buy into this junk?

So scratch the voluntary cash transfers and move on to pay to play. THIS is the new innovation which of course accrues benefits to those who created it and not buyers and it is the last resort of companies that fear a level competitive playing field and who have run out of new things to sell their customers. I believe this whole cloud thing is solely about digging into your pockets. There is a reason why none of these companies have been able to present proof of concept at this time for complex cad creation on-line. Yes I know there are some things out there in controlled laboratory condition dog and pony land but I have yet to see a typical connectivity situation proved out and a concise list of all expenses from every angle that typical users are going to have to pay created. In other words no proof it works better and saves you time and money. Remember, this is from the same group of people who can’t bring enough solid innovation to you to sell their stuff on its own merits. Nor is there any indication they intend to maintain loss leader costs on their programs with a guarantee of time duration for them because the sky is the limit as soon as they figure they can get away with it.

I figure that in this time of fiscal austerity sub rates are dropping for many software companies or they see them dropping in the future. Now one of the chief weapons companies have had over time is user lock-in. Traditionally this has been accomplished with proprietary ways of saving and using data that makes it hard to go elsewhere with it and fully use it. And the expense of new programs and training add to this. Today this is not enough security and thus the creation of a chattel instead of a customer market. Or so they hope. Make your customers work under the above conditions and then add to that the forced archival of their intellectual property and then also make them pay to use it forever and withhold access to their data if they do not pay. The destruction of permanent seats will be a key part of this if these guys can get away with it. There is nothing benign here and it is all about heaping on costs to a captive market in ways that will guarantee and grow profits for all involved except YOU the customer. It is why none of these guys layout with proof the benefits to you. What true proof can liars bring to the table anyway? Remember the fraud of unlimited data forever for iPhones utilized as incentive to get people there? Remember what happened to costs when a certain critical market size was reached?

So remember the rules of engagement for the CPA MBA attitude of corporations that figure earning your business is too hard. If you can’t innovate obfuscate. Tune in to the latest episode of this new way as the MIRV Bernard Charles straps his iPhone and iPad on and launches for San Diego. Or check in to the latest words of feudal overlord wisdom from Carl Bass as he tells you what you are going to do instead of selling you on what you should do or want to do.

4 responses to “If You Can’t Innovate Obfuscate

  1. Enjoyed your post Dave.

  2. You foot-dragging Neanderthal! Hey, that’s what you called yourself. I had to do that. 😉

    Anyway, I want to speak a little bit about the lack of innovation that you are not seeing from Microsoft. I would have to say that you are not looking far enough out. They have produced some pretty good products if you look at how you are going to change the big picture. They (MS) have realized that having the same experience across devices is critical to keeping a healthy “ecosystem”. (I used that word because I know you love it. Say it with me “ecosystem”).
    If you look at MS and how entirely ingrained we are with MS Office and you ask yourself “How do I extend the ability to work, yes I said work, on other devices using our products?” You have to come to realize that it is not a simple task. It requires a complete redesign from the ground up. When you look at this you see that you have to start with something basic that will work across all device types. That leads you straight to the ribbon-bar. That’s where everything starts and you build off of that. The ribbon bar can be used with a mouse or a swipe on a touch screen. That is a core technology of theirs.
    Now, you start to build your applications so that you can share your data across all the devices without having to copy or email yourself your own data. This gives you the Skydrive- which by the way works with Windows 7 too!
    Yes, I like this ecosystem. I have a Windows phone, a Surface tablet (not the Pro, yet), a Windows 7 laptop and an Xbox 360. I share files across all these devices using a similar interface (ribbon-barish). Yes, even the Xbox has swipe capabilities with the Kinect capabilities.
    Their is a lot happening here and I am excited for MS to how they can bring this technology to other applications. I have a blog posting on using Kinect to navigate and work on 3D models. http://deliveringlearning.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/a-future-cad-gui/

    Thanks for the posting.

    • Hi Ryan,
      I am not so into this immersive life experience thing. It is a choice and here is what I see for those who participate. Yes you are connected. I see connected everywhere I go. I see husbands and wives eating out and both are texting during the meal and not talking. Fat little kids who never get exercise are sitting there with some sort of electronic gizmo. Your Skydrive account emails are being data mined whether you know it or not. This same tech is setting it up so you will be tracked when you go to the mall. Got an embarassing problem and shopping for answers? iPhones will be able to through GPS locate you inside of buildings to within a couple of meters soon if not already. There is an amusing side to this though. Picture the straight laced pillar of the community who went somewhere he should not have. So he sits there with his boss and boots his laptop up and there is a made for him with tracking add. Could be just a medical condition you want no one to know about, could have been that trip to Las Vegas and now you are busted but people will understand that tracking goes on and it is an indication of what you do. So connected means also you have sacrificed all remnants of privacy and this will effect you in ways we can’t imagine and many will not be so benign. OK I can concede that a common interface across all products would be of value. I don’t know how much of that commonality is really happening. There are times when I think about getting a smart phone but then here goes another monthly must pay bill and I have survived for a long time quite well without it. My GPS serves for the only thing I would use it for anyway and no monthly bills. I can see swiping on a little screen. I can’t see it on a larger and I have the choice. Occasionally it is nice to touch and not click for a command but I don’t really see other uses for it as I am not a fan of waving my arms in the air all day.

      If the cloud ever does succeed it will be because of people younger than me who never had the freedom I had as a kid and never had the chance to see life as it could be without all this stuff. No I don’t mean tech is bad but the percentage of our lives given over to this is. I see the difference between my two daughters families. One lives in the city and is connected. The other lives out in the country and is not. The city kids are bored and whiny and quite frankly I don’t have much use for them. There is no line of electronic demarcation there. Personally I live out in the country to get away from people whose company I like but I like to have to drive to see them. If you don’t understand that I am not sure how else I could explain it. People and gizmos are so far from being everything in life. Super uber dudes will brag about having the new Google (boy, there is a benign bunch of people) remote house and thermostat. When the enviro Nazis in government decide how much energy you may use and when they will appreciate that you payed for and installed the monitoring devices they need to assess your flagrant life style accordingly. Look around you Ryan and just think of the negative ramifications of this stuff to. It is never going to remain a tool for your use and convenience only. Oh by the way, have you used up your allotment of monthly mileage and had your car shut down or fined this month? You think looking at todays government this is not on the way if they can get away with it all you super connected snitch on your self types? And pay to do it to yourselves too which is what cracks me up.

      They had a test in Barcellona a while back with RFID’s. Hey why not go there to and be super connected. This bar had it set up so people who chipped themselves could walk in and have their favorite drink served up without having to ask. I read recently about a security breach where a shopping cart was filled with data snoop goodies that you could not see and it was capable of hacking into the the RFID’s around it. You see super connected cool, I see a not to distant future where nothing is private including your time and I choose not to go there. Connectivity is a seriously two edged sword and you will find this out one day. I prefer only that which is neccessary and my definition means as little as possible. It has never hurt my business nor my life.

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