Freesteel Blog » Another year, another Euromold

Another year, another Euromold

Monday, December 7th, 2009 at 9:22 pm Written by:

Team HSM on the rainy walk from Ibis to the Euromold hall

It’s not the same without Peter. And it’s no fun being stuck in a soulless Ibis hotel on the highway out of Frankfurt. I got deeply, deeply depressed on the second day of Euromold. There were a number of reasons.

Part of it had to do with seeing Myron Ebell hard at work swiftboating the Copenhagen climate talks. As most of the exhibitors unselfconsciously flew in to the annual routine trade show through Frankfurt airport, there’s obviously not a lot of sympathy for the extra-ordinary threat to the survival of the species following the pursuit of Business As Usual.

The interesting HSM stand that lacks a naked lady getting spray painted in silver.

And boy was Business As Usual usual this year, with all the same companies and all the same stands, this time mixed up a bit throughout Halls 8, 9 and 11 so that the Chinese exhibitors weren’t all stuck out on a limb in Hall 6 like last year with no one going past their stands.

No one ever seems to go out of business in the CADCAM industry. Everyone clings on like bits of lichen on a sea cliff: not going anywhere no matter how extreme the weather.

Also, more people this year seem to have replicated my algorithms quickly and in some cases moved ahead of them. The features include competent 3-axis milling, the Adaptive Clearing algorithm (seen in the form of the Mastercam’s herbaceous Dynamic Milling strategy), and the beginnings of multi-core processing. I can no longer think that I am special.

I was surprised by how hurtful it felt, so I guess I now know how everyone else feels when I go round showing off my latest tricks. Maybe that’s why no one liked it.

Tom explained that writing software is one of those jobs, like being a tax collector, where there is no way you can be popular. The users only ever do one of two things: (A) complain, or (B) be silent. And the nature of programmers’ psychology is that no one else’s stuff is ever any good. If there was some more sharing out of tricks and technical discussions among peers, maybe it would be a heck of a lot more fun.

Lost in a maze of escalators

You can’t put a price on disappointment and worry. I think I’m getting spread too thinly so that everything is feeling like it is going to turn out rubbish. I envy managers who sit while tonnes of other people do loads of work and keep them interested. I also watched too much CNN in the hotel.

I’m glad to be home at last, even though Becka seems to have gone off caving for the 3 days straight.

I have to fix up the pencil milling some more, and experiment with some triangulation routines. Then I should try to look at 5-axis again, which I have ignored for about a year. And all the while I’m supposed to be working on scrapers, and maybe doing some cave survey development.

The building in front of the hotel.

On the train I did the parse-processing of the CUCC expedition logbook from 1990. Here is an entry from a day in my life nineteen years ago:

1990-08-02 – Hanggliding:
Team Wings : Julian, assisted by Jeremy, not assisted at all by half the caving club, distracting, telling me to get on with it, admiring its aches and strains and cracks. Couple other pilots in carpark keeping well away and mumbling things about parachutes. On account of it all, had a shit take off and the glider started to disintegrate: battens springing out, left wing flapping noisily as a helicopter.

So decided to land as I was so awfully high. Jeremy kindly let me have another go. Picked up another hang-glider pilot and gave him a lift to his car whereupon he placed 40 shillings in payment on Rover’s front bumper.

This time the audience was smaller. A couple of young men with gliders on their car drove up as I was rigging, thought that the wind was shit, the glider was shit and they didn’t want to see any more of it. A couple of paragliderists were also walking all the way back down Loser, not flying, muttering something about kamakazees.

Which all goes to show it’s bullshit because I had a great takeoff, great flight (little rough the air though), got scared to go any higher when I looked for an instant down at the nose of Loser, so followed Rover along the road for some way. Some little muscles in my shoulders suffered in agony to make flying possible after a while, so I slipped off and landed. On my feet. Ground zero.

In addition, I was also reading the book Life and Death on the ‘Royal Charter’, The true story of a treasure-ship wrecked on Anglesey.

It’s a good book with a good story, but parts of it could have been moved into an appendix as it includes pages and pages of primary newspaper coverage from the aftermath of the disaster as unidentified bodies washed up on various beaches for months, like so:

North Wales Chronicle, Saturday, December 3, 1859

The following is a continuation of the progress made at Moelfre to Thursday last…
A male body, (flannel singlet, check shirt, large black whiskers), in an excellent state of preservation. Not identified.
A male body – six foot, very stout, £3 2s 6d on person, flannel shirt, Kerseymere trousers. No marks on linen.
A male body – Blue shirt, white flannel, black trousers, blue worsted stockings, flannel drawers. About 5ft 10 in; slight.
A male body – Dark cloth trousers, brown jacket, corduroy vest, checked fancy shirt, flannel shirt, worsted stockings, gold ring (onyx stone), an elastic belt with “Bat, Ball and Wickets,” two keys in pocket, a letter on person commencing “My dear Frank,” and concluding “your affectionate father, C.W. Wm. Haylard,” and a small keepsake with words “Hope is the anchor of the soul.”
A male body – Brown corduroy trousers, woollen drawers, red and black Guernsey frock, Crimean shirt, white flannel shirt. Height about 5 ft 10 in. On person £70 in gold and 8s in silver. Four gold rings, on one a double heart in a scroll, and on the others, bracketed hands holding a hoop with a heart inside; a pair of gold earrings, thistles pendant. Two portemonnaies.
A youth, about 14 or 15; blue overcoat , trimmed with black braid, short blue jacket, mixture trousers – no marks – much mutilated.

The Royal Charter was an iron hulled auxiliary steam clipper (it had sails and removable propeller) that was wrecked with an extraordinary loss of life in the Royal Charter Storm on its way back from Australia when its anchor chains broke. Its route took it counter-clockwise around the Antarctic continent and then directly up the centre of the Atlantic in 60 days.

Nowadays, sailing around the world to get places would be really good because we have much better materials than iron and canvas, and we have CADCAM systems, electricity, radar, satellite weather forecasts, and a high bandwidth global communications network. We don’t need no planes. We need a less ignorant attitude to work-time and travel. In 1859 people managed to have a pretty effective economy with a reasonably familiar lifestyle on the back of crap materials and no cars at all. If we can’t even imagine that we can organize a low carbon economy with all the extra technology that we have, then we’re absolutely pathetic and deserve to die off.

What the hell is wrong with us?

This is the happy Nano-truck, parked in the space between Halls 8 and 9. If you can explain its existence as a cultural artifact you will understand everything.



  • 1. Lisa Evans replies at 8th December 2009, 10:09 am :

    I really like your writing here — I mean this post in particular. I’ve been trying to work out why. I think it’s the mixture of personal reflection and good description of the things you care about.

  • 2. Daniel Santos replies at 9th December 2009, 12:31 am :

    “Tom explained that writing software is one of those jobs, like being a tax collector, where there is no way you can be popular. The users only ever do one of two things: (A) complain, or (B) be silent.”

    Hi Julian!

    Tom’s words are not quite accurate… I admire your jobs a lot and gave Tom all respect he deserves, after some years of complaining…. 🙂 I’m now silence stage… 🙂

    Glad to see Tom and René again in the pictures…

    Congrats for the blog and for the contributions… keep it coming…

  • 3. Freesteel&hellip replies at 24th December 2010, 9:43 am :

    […] The train to Frankfurt was deserted. The whole German Mastercam reseller network was staying in the IBIS hotel right by the station instead of the one miles beyond the festival hall in a wasteland. […]

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