Schnitger Corporation

Morning coffee: goodbye Sochi, hello new week

Morning coffeeWelcome to a new week. If you were off last week, welcome back; we missed you. Grab a cup of coffee and an apple (or, let’s be real, a pastry) and let’s do a quick recap.

It’s the Economy …

Last week was relatively quiet on the economic news front, though civil unrest in Colombia and the Ukraine led to unease across two continents. Today, Egypt’s interim prime minister announced that he and his government had submitted their resignations to the nation’s president. This type of news is never good for people’s confidence about the future, but stock markets turned higher today, after reports surfaced that business confidence in Germany was higher than expected and the EU and others started talking about a financial assistance package for the Ukraine.

PLMish Deals and Earnings

3D Systems continued its acquisitive ways last week, snapping up Digital PlaySpace (DPS), which the company says is platform that connects brands, retailers and consumers to 3D-printable play. Right now, that means dollhouses, as DPS’ and the Dreamhouse Designer Facebook app “combines home design, gaming, and community sharing to deliver a vivid 3D create-and-make experience”. Kids and parents can personalize and print design elements on a Cube printer or via the Cubify website.

We’ve got earnings news from ANSYS, Autodesk and Cimatron later this week, which will shed some light on what’s happening in our little part of the world. Too, the announcements should shed more light on the world of CAM — from the perspective of a merged Autodesk/Delcam as well as from a specialist provider.

Saying Goodbye to Sochi

So, what did you think? I love the Olympics for the opportunity to watch sports I would never, ever actually try. Those skiers and snowboarders are nuts! But curling — now that’s intriguing. The Discovery Channel has a great exploration of the physics of curling. Did you know they sprinkle the ice with water to make bumps? They also take a look at the physics of ice skating, if that’s more your thing.

Remember the Under Armour suit designed for the speed skaters? The company’s CEO says it’s not the suit’s fault and pledges big to help the US team tweak the suit for a win in South Korea in 2018.

I didn’t see most of the closing ceremony, but have to offer a shout-out to the dancers whose humor made the whole thing bearable. If you remember, two weeks ago at the opening ceremony, one of the snowflakes didn’t morph into a ring. Last night, they fixed that.

Best Story of the Week

How do you debug a giant, first of its kind airplane? This article, from Business Week, talks about how Airbus is putting the A350 through its paces. The issues for modern airliners aren’t construction reliability (though that is, of course, a concern), but center on the millions of lines of code that watch every aspect of the plane’s operation. A bug could cause unscheduled time out of service, erasing any profits made by fuel economy improvements or squeezing in extra seats or cargo — getting it right has big rewards. It’s worth a read, though you could just skip straight to the cool airplane graphics.

A quick update. I participated in my first Kickstarter campaign a while ago, for Strawbees, a kit of small plastic connectors that turn drinking straws, cardboard boxes and other household materials into erector sets. Kickstarter and/or the Strawbees team have been marvelous (or canny, to keep interest high), sending out updates every few days. Last week, they let the backers know that the project was funded to 4.6x the original goal. The Kickstarter experience has been good so far; for a small investment, I feel like I’m part of something new, cool and exciting. We’re still on plan to get our kit in early April; I can’t wait!

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