Frustrations when Entering the 3d Printing Market

It has taken me a while to jump into the 3d printing process, although I’m doing so with both feet. However, I am a bit amazed at the frustrations that I’ve encountered thus far:

1. MakerGeeks sent me the wrong 3d printer. Twice! Although they claimed it was an unusual error- it happened to me. TWICE. I wanted to support a smaller company but eventually just bought the Flashforge Creator Pro off of Amazon. Shipping was wicked fast (a few days) although the price was slightly higher. Sorry MakerGeeks, but I’m not endorsing you to others.

3d printer

The Flashforge Creator Pro 3d printer.

2. Setting up the Flashforge Creator Pro has been challenging. The Creator Pro is a much cheaper 3d printer than its more well-known competitor, Makerbot’s Replicator 2. But after reading this incredibly helpful Amazon customer review, I decided that the Creator Pro was the way to go. (Plus, the university I work at was having problems with their 3 Makerbots’ extruder heads…something that seems to be quite common, based upon what I’ve read online.)

One of the major advantages to Makerbot is the customer service and large user base. Flashforge does not have as large a customer base, and when I unpacked the printer (which was truly packed well, as many have commented upon), there was no instruction manual. Call me old fashion, but I’d like to have a printout of this.

So I had to go online and do some searching to find forums, videos, posts, etc. to help me along. There were many, and I will post the ones I found most helpful at a later date. But this was definitely something that has slowed my 3d printing process down.

3. One of the advantages of the Creator Pro is that I, supposedly, can purchase and use any filaments. In contrast, with Makerbots, if you don’t use their proprietory filament (which is, naturally, higher priced), you void their printer’s warranty. So I’ve been searching for all of the delicious filaments I could find. I wanted to start with the basic plastic (ABS and PLA- see my Dictionary page for definitions of these), so I, again, went with MakerGeeks because they extrude their own filament. Problem #2, or shall I say, #3, with them.

The filament spool from MakerGeeks is sized wrong for my Flashforge Creator Pro  printer.

The filament spool from MakerGeeks is sized wrong for my Flashforge Creator Pro printer.

The filament spool I received from MakerGeeks does not fit the Flashforge Creator Pro’s filament spool holder! UGH!!!! The photo I posted of it shows the filament spool holder that I jammed into the spool, which was not a smart thing to do on my part because the spool is supposed to move freely. (Like a spool of thread on a sewing machine does… and no, I did not take home ec in high school. I took shop class. Does this surprise anyone?)

Thankfully, I have two filaments and their original holders that Flashforge sent me when I purchased the Creator Pro. But man, oh man, this is yet another bump in the road.

With these problems behind me, I am now set to 3d print this weekend. My kids (2 and 5 years old) have been nagging me to print things for them. Isn’t that wonderful? They have accepted this microwave-sized, new technological device as normal already.

Wish me luck!

Rural living means slower Internet connection speeds

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, about 20% of the population lives in rural areas. While that does not seem like a lot in terms of percentages, it’s about 59 million people.

I am one of those 59 million people.

Rural home

While this may be an example of an extreme rural homestead, 20% of the U.S. population lives in rural environments.

I am writing this post because I am also a person who does not have a fast Internet connection speed at home because of where I live.

So what does this mean?

Answer # 1: CLOUD-BASED SOFTWARE IS NOT FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN RURAL AREAS.

Yes, I did mean to shout that because all to often, many people forget that what works well in an urban, or even suburban environment is impossible to do in a rural location.

In the case of cloud-based software, we probably can’t do it because we don’t have a fast connection. Personally, I’m avoiding upgrading my Adobe Photoshop 6 (and that’s 6, not CS 6) to anything that is a newer version because they are cloud-based.

I want the software that I have to install on my computer.

I do NOT want the software or services that make me connect to the Internet to use them.

Speaking of connecting to the Internet…

Answer #2: WE WHO LIVE IN RURAL AREAS WILL NOT WATCH LARGE VIDEOS OR USE STREAMING VIDEO SERVICES LIKE HULU.

Either we can’t get fast Internet connections or we can’t afford the ones that may be offered to us because they are so high-priced. If we rural folk have smart phones (and we do), why can’t we just use our smart phones to connect to the Internet or tether our computers to our phones and use this as a way to connect to the Internet?

Well we can, but now we are using our precious data minutes so we avoid anything that will cause us to go over our monthly limits.

So contrary to what is being advertised on TV by the cellular carriers, we are probably not watching TV on our phones. And this is assuming that we are even able to watch a video without the circle-of-death loading experience that assaults use when we try to even load the videos.

How long do you stay on a page when this happens?

How long do you stay on a page when this happens?

But isn’t the U.S. one of the top countries where we citizens have high speed Internet access? No. Shocking to some, but no.

Not only does the U.S. not have the fastest Internet connection speeds, but we also do not have the most people using high speed internet (on this link, look at the excel spreadsheets you can download under “Time Series by Country”).

Answer #3:

IT’S NOT NECESSARILY OUR FAULT THAT WE WHO LIVE IN RURAL AREAS DO NOT HAVE FAST INTERNET CONNECTION SPEED

In 2010, Finland law made it a legal right to have high speed internet for it’s entire populate. That was just amazing, I thought. And then I read that Finland had a population of 5.2 million and is about the size of Michigan (with our upper and lower peninsulas, of course).

Compare that to the U.S. and realize the facts are that:

1. The U.S. is physically large in size

2. 57 million of us live in rural locations

3. And of those that live in rural locations, many of us do not have high speed Internet access.

So please, when you read about all of the news of cloud-based this, or video that, or even the Internet of Things, understand that we rural inhabitants are excited by these developments, but they may just not be possible for us to use.

And now I must end this post because that animated gif I included above has enraged me fully.

Lawyers, put DOWN the PowerPoint!

I have taught undergraduates design for about 15 years, and one of my tools is creating and using PowerPoint slides. I am not alone in doing this, of course. Most professors create and use PowerPoint in their classes. It is old news- something students expect and if you do not provide them with your PowerPoint slides, they will ask you for them.

So when I attended last month’s ABA TECHSHOW, my jaw dropped when I heard lawyer presenters gush about how great it is to use PowerPoint in the courtroom setting. The general takeaway was that jurors were really impressed and moved after seeing PowerPoint slides.

I thought, “Stop. Just stop,” although I did not say a thing about this to anyone at the show because, well, I am not a lawyer.

But I did tell my students about it. And they just laughed. Hard.

As an academic, I overuse PowerPoint. I admit it. But it seems like so does the rest of those who teach.

(Lawyers, please listen to this next part.)

anti-powerpoint

Many jurors will not like seeing that the trial lawyers are using PowerPoint.

What happens when I turb on my computer at the front of the class and connect my PowerPoint slides to the projector is… the students’ eyes glaze over. And that is with the students who have their heads up! Others simply put their heads down and start tapping away on their phones.

Now I do believe being a juror is a different experience than being a student, but my point is this…

… If you have a juror who is in college, or went to college within the last 15 years, they have been forced to overdose on viewing PowerPoint.

I believe that one surefire way to disgust a juror who has a college education is to power up your PowerPoint.