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neotko

Why I don't want to be a Moderator on Ultimaker Forums

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There are many reasons so let's start by the beginning

When Sander told me years ago ++ to contribute to the Ultimaker UMO+ stuff, I was eager to help, made two or three guides for fancap, @Amedee firmware and something else, it was a blast to share stuff with Ultimaker Users. The feeling was super, contributing to the forum community, you know, giving back some of that know-how from the great guys of this forum. Because when I arrived here (old forum) it was so great, ideas popping here and there, sharing, focusing on Open Source, developing together to make better stuff, not for UM but for the UM users. That was a great feeling man.

Time went by, I was invited to see UM headquarters with other guys, that was a blast, seeing UM how they work, getting feedback of ideas, hearing & seeing UM prototypes, now that was awesome.

But time went by, saw the UM3 and the new focus of the UM brand. But I was already on the circle, you know when you start to roll is hard to stop and thing about what's going on.

I did give feedback, I found stuff that I found disturbing for me as a maker. Simple stuff, like for example the Security on the UM3 firmware that forces the firmware to be sign by UM. That's just great for companies, and makes perfect sense if you are a big company to focus on where the money is. Security... So... If you want to change the UM3 firmware you need to know Linux, access it, do some stuff here and there, and indeed the programmers did told me how, and that's it. Ok, so is easy? No. Can a simple maker like me try to share improvements to the firmware with basic stuff? Like changing esteps, or making a new feeder and sharing how to install it on their um3? Well realistically no. Can be done? Sure can be done just check Bondtech tutorial of how to do it, is anything but easy. Anything can be done, but the level of know-how it's just way too much. But even so, UM did improve that, they added a Gcode python to send basic gcode and be able to order the machine to do what's told. But again, using Linux, dev mode, going in, and accessing it. All that barriers raise the level of complexity and cut down basic makers that could make modifications, like for example we didn't a ZGE for the UM3 because of that... And that level/barrier is exactly the biggest issue I see on UM now. Machines that are focused on plug and use, machines where you hardly can open freely and change stuff. But no for this UM3 because it has ESD issues (electrostatic discharge). Ok.. So you better don't get your hands on the boards. Well I did, I didn't damage a thing. So maybe I'm not so negative (pun intended).

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So... Let's go back to analyse all this.

A company that is open source at its birth, now doesn't close the doors, but make's it harder for simple users to change basic stuff. So, what's next? What's on the UM3 future now? Closed machines with more and more complex systems? Well maybe. And it might even make sense for a big company to buy a machine that isn't modder accessible. But remember one thing, the most interesting part, FOR ME, of a UM machine was that you can change your components on your own, open it, change the board, replace X component and keep printing. But now, is a machine that isn't supposed to be fixed by the operator? So ofc they made the Cores, a fantastic Cartridge like system that allows companies (100€ each) to just replace and use and keep printing. That's indeed a great idea, for a company with money, but also makes it more complex for normal users to go in and dig, and mod, and make new interesting parts. But again, let's not forget 3dsolex and their Hardcore, sexy name btw. Hardcore is a Core that allow the users to change the nozzles, with nozzles made for the Hardcore (wow is a horrible name) and use their nozzles... So... You have UM brand Cores, with their design, very hard to do maintenance if something as silly as a damaged nozzle, and you get the other (even more expensive option) 3DSolex design that uses their own nozzles. And you know what? At least Ultimaker will publish Open Source files for it. 3DSolex just made a quick patch to sell nozzles without giving back not even a single bit back to the Open Source. So they use a different nozzle size, nothing compatible with anything else, and it's for 'the greater good' of users that want other nozzles sizes... So great for them, but again modders, open source creators, get zero.

And at this point you ask, well this guy is ranting all the way. Well lets go back to the main point.

Why I don't want to be a moderator of UM

Well, you give feedback to UM. That's a privilege. But you get zero in return. One of each 50 feedbacks get an answer. And also that might make sense, it's a big company, this isn't the garage guys with open source in the hearts, this is well lubricated machine to sell machines that work. So where's the innovation? (wait for it). When you share and share, there's a point where you stop and thing, why I'm sharing to these guys instead to just the users? Why I'm keeping information just for UM love. What have they do for me? They allowed me to go into their offices (well that was amazing indeed) they did give me an um3 machine (that I only used 4 months and I find incredibly unfinished and with a very lack of precision and is IMO a bad printer compared to previous models).

But let's step back... I'm tired of giving to UM. I love the community, I don't want to have information that I can't share, because ultimately the user and sharing info it's been my source of happiness. But sharing info with UM is in the end just sharing information for free to a company that wants to build machines for corporations. The Open Source of UM is dead, OFC OFC they do share Cura but more on that latter. They are just a company that will publish some files after a year, and at this rate (you know exponential repetition of events) the next machines could easily go to 2 years, IF they even share something. And let's rant a bit, let's talk about that patents. They did that to 'protect' themselves. That's awesome, they say they are on the big leagues, and they probably are. But also, there's a point where developing and open source is lost on the way. You can protect yourself by just releasing the project to the whole world, make it open source... But no, they are on the big leagues, they need to patent their stuff so they don't get sued by the Stratas of the world (and I bet that's a real and totally possible outcome) but again, the feeling to me, a simple user of machines that wants to share know-how, it's that there's nothing to gain there. And by 'nothing to gain' I don't mean money, I mean knowledge. I mean sharing, making, building with others on the community, sharing ideas... You know, the old community feeling.

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Now you will say, Hey dude, they make Cura for free so shut up!

Well, that's indeed true. But also 100% wrong. They make Cura to sell their machines with very specific settings to improve their machine print quality. And by side effect sometimes they make a better slicer. How much of the 2.X new options are for Dual/PVA/UM3 heavy-slow print head? Well I could make a big list, but let's go to the basic. UM3 can't print faster than 40-50mm/s that's just plain reality, beyond that the heavyweight of it can't manage it. Also it has a very small overspec misumi bearing that can't distrubite the weight or center of gravity of the print head. So, the solution? Print slow on corners, AKA low jerk/low acceleration. For example when you open Cura and you check the Speed you get a 70mm/s WOW THAT'S FAST. Ok now you unhide all the hidden options by default and you see the reality. Low accelerations, low jerk moves and overall a very slow machine. Have you checked the infill quality? Well there's where that 70mm/s is. Does it matter it looks like crap (the infill) if the print finishes and seems ok at a newb eyes? Well I try to go beyond the click-print and learn, share and know how stuff works, just because like Ultimaker in the past, I'm a maker at heart. And hiding real speed with profiles, telling users to don't experiment, saying to use UM materials to print. That's not me, that's not the club where I want to reside.

And going back to the Cura is free. Remember, Cura is made to make their printers shine, sell their filament, with their settings and make a easy printer. So, yea they give Cura for the world, but to sell printers. Don't kid yourself. They give to a point.

Man you are such a drama queen!

Maybe maybe. Also I'm a guy that loves to make stuff. Sharing back to UM isn't what I was hopping it could. What do I get for sharing my ideas like the CeramX glass bed? I get Tomnagel saying that their glass is ok. Ok it IS NOT. It should be better, it should improve. They should aim at higher limits than just a 0.15 error rate (up and down so you can have 0.3 error on it) for a Bed Glass. They should learn from the feedback given of parts that where wrong on the beta stage, parts that did arrive to the customer without them changing them. So IS YOUR Bed wrong? I bet 5 beers to anyone that no more than 50% of the users have check the bed flatness. Just because most users don't print big stuff and the Patented Automatic Calibration hides most of the stuff. So maybe if you print with a full bed you might see a bed flatness error, you can complain and get a new bed glass? Yea. But why they don't step forward when the problem presents give accurate information to every user (not just to the Distributors) Ofc ofc why would a big company tell users that their customers might have a bad glass? Well, IMO just to show that they care about quality. Hiding stuff like this just shows how much of how they want to operate.

So... Why UM isn't the company I was hopping

They have incredible talented guys. Their workers are top-notch (no sarcasm here). But the whole boat is going to a sea of big companies that isn't for me. If you sell stuff related to UM is perfect to be a moderator, you can sometimes even make an insert. But if you want to share stuff you can do it anywhere else. This forum over the time has become more and more like a hot line for help, no developments, no new ideas (except some users that are just amazing). For example, why UM did change the boards on UM2 to 4 stepper chips instead of 5? Well many reasons, but logic dictates that is to favour UM3, and because 'UM2 doesn't support 2 extruders so there's no need'. Ok for me, a modder, a maker, a guy that just loves to make stuff and change it, that's a slap in the face. OFC OFC you can buy a UM3 board... But it has different plugs and doesn't work as it is... Oh ok.. So is that hard to make the board to allow external chips? Well the other day I saw one on aliexpress made by china sellers that don't share back from open source. You know, like 3Dsolex with their developments. (yea that was a 2x1 rant). Now going back to the subject. There's nothing here to be gained on a knowledge level, there's no further development on an intellectual level. Helping users, like a free-hotline isn't what I want to do on my free time, but ofc I sometimes find an interesting post and helps users like they did help me when I started. But on an intellectual level, being a guy that sometimes help randomly that's something I can perfectly do just as a normal user, no need to be a moderator for this. So what advantages has a moderator? Well, sometimes you get gifts, that's nice! Yea, but I don't like UM3 at all, I find it totally unappealing, from their view of Open Source, to how it works, to the way they solved the hardware with tricks on Cura. But I do recognise that it prints with 2 materials, and if you don't care about speed it can do it very nicely.

To sum up.

There's nothing to learn by being a moderator. UM doesn't make me gain experience points. Thing of it as a game. There's a point where you max out, and you need to move on to a more interesting game.

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Completely reasonable Neotko.  The open source ideal has been slipping away.  Predictable and somewhat excusable for a company trying to sustain in a capitalist and litigious market environment.

I for one have greatly appreciated your efforts here troubleshooting with users and  moderating.  Your technical contributions and passion for open source printing have been outstanding.

Thank you

Matt

How difficult it must be for a company to allow such an off script message persist in their social media.  My hat is off to UM if it is allowed to stand / age off the front pages.  Could be damaging if it were to grow.

Edited by Guest
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Hi @Neotko, thank you for sharing your feelings with us. I understand your reasonings and like everything in life grows and evolves it can happen that two grow in somewhat different directions. It's good that you came to realize that you don't feel like gaining anything from this anymore and you decide to make a change and commit more to the community side of Ultimaker instead of the company side.

I think there are some nuances to your post, some experiences are a matter of interpretations and sometimes it is a matter of having different goals. Like you have clearly stated that you are a maker at heart who wants to open everything up and potentially modify it all, as a company we try to walk that thin line between reliability and openness. That means we sacrifice some openness in some cases (by having more advanced hardware/software/firmware) for the sake of reliability, but also the other way around. We'll always embrace and value the importance of being open and that will always be a cornerstone of Ultimaker. But perhaps not as big of a stone as your maker-heart desires. And that is fine.

It goes without saying that you have been of an incredible value to Ultimaker and our community, and even though you prefer not to be a moderator anymore, I sincerely hope you will continue to be an active member of our community :)

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Don't encourage people to tinker? Wait what? We hide most of those settings to make it easier to get in to. The fact that all those settings are there (much to the dislike of some voices in the company that want to hide the "technical bits" of our software) means that we promote you from doing exactly that.

So yeah, Cura is developed by us to make money. Of course it is, we're a company. That's what companies do. But if it was just about that, this isn't the way we would have done it in the way we are doing it. We wouldn't have made a system that allows you to add machines that aren't ultimaker machines.

So to answer your question; Yes, you are over dramatising something that is going on. To go even further; it's not true. Do do have some points in what you say, but you are dead wrong on that point.

As for the patents; Releasing early and often is indeed one strategy. But it doesn't give equal amount of protection. If you only release, you never have bargaining chips. A large part of the protection that UM has is indeed by means of releasing ideas and technology, but in order to play in the big league, you need a bit more.

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Hi @Neotko..

thanks for sharing your feelings.. your feelings are your own and I'm happy this is at least still a safe place to share those feelings and those feelings are respected.

While I disagree with some of the decisions made by Ultimaker in their product marketing, development and support, the decisions are theirs to make and in the end, Ultimaker has proven they can run a company that sells worldwide, and I have not :)

For a company like Ultimaker, I understand there is a fine line to walk between doing what is good, and ensuring your employees do get paid at the end of the month, and ensuring your stock holders are happy too.

Here's where you lost me;

I believe Ultimaker has always encouraged people to tinker, and has always been there for the community. just look at things like the UM2+ kit, the UMO+ and very simple, the fact that you can still order parts for the UMO and the first UM2 printers. there are many companies out there who simply stop selling spare parts after 2 or 3 years. I know UM has gone out of their way to ensure these parts are still there.

then to encourage tinkering, how many times has someone like Daid not responded to questions posted on the forum of people that wanted to tinker with the UM3 firmware? loads of the development team, from mechanical to software to firmware, are active on this forum and are actively helping people. UM could easily say, stop wasting time on stuff that has no commercial application, but instead they encourage and allow people to respond and post here.

You are confusing different printers with different applications.

the UMO(+) was the tinker machine. many experimental kits are out there, from both UM as well as third parties.

the UM2(+) was not intended as a tinker machine, but a nice machine to run on your desktop. great. there were certainly options for tinkering, and they helped everyone out who wanted to do that. it was much less aimed at tinkering though. when dual extrusion was announced it would not be coming to UM2, they made changes to the boards to no longer support 2 extruders. simple business decision. You say that it is intentional to discourage tinkering, I'm saying that it's a hard sell if 1 out of 1000 printer buyers want to use the second extruder, to keep that in there. it just makes no sense. I would agree with you if everyone buying a new UM2 was expecting to put a second extruder on.. but that's not reality. it would be nice if people would be able to buy a UM2 board with 2 extruder connectors from the store, but I just can't see ground for the arguments you are trying to make there.

then to the UM3. the UM3 really is meant as a ready-set-go machine. you complain about the more expensive print cores, I think they are extra ordinarely cheap. they are the hot end, heater, temp sensor, heater block, nozzle all in one. 100 excluding VAT is not expensive for that. your argument is basically that UM has lost their way since their newest machine is not fully moddable on software and firmware level by someone who doesn't really know how to do it?

I think you are seeing the UMO, UM2 and UM3 as successors. I don't see them as successors, I see them as seperate offerings that exist next to eachother. if i want to get a very tinkerable machine, i get an UMO. no-think-next-next-finish machine? UM3.

so IO think you've always made great contributions and I hope you keep doing so. you don't like the UM3? great, then don't use it :)

I see no evidence of your claims to be honest..

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I can appreciate your point of view. But I also would miss your input on many things as I have found them to be illuminating and cool ideas.

Even if you left as a Mod, I would hope that you stick around to offer your experiences as insight.

Guys like you are light years ahead of me and I appreciate all of you helping us out that are new.

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@ Neotko, I understand your step really and would like to thank you for your time and efforts you spend to assist here, discuss issues, gain and share experience and bring the 3D print forward.

Your words also acts like a kick to also share my thougts... I visit this place randomly, but nowadays more seldom as before. And I contribute less.. Reason is simple: the time I started here to learn was full of fruitfull discussions about how to gain knowldedge, find new solutions or sharing thougts and ideas - and of course also somtimes to place stupid questions :-)

But in the meantime I feel sometimes, that a friendly "RTFM" might be the only suitable answer as the time for gaining knowledge and fruitefull discussions is mostly gone, swaped away by industrialization and "plug&play" menthality just want to "do" but not "understand". Anyway, it's maybe the wrong place to share my feelings, but as mentioned, somethimes you get a kick to do so...

So @Neotko, thanks for sharing your thoughts, thanks for being a long-time mod, thanks for all the knowledge you shared and hope to keep you here as a very well experienced user :-)

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....But in the meantime I feel sometimes, that a friendly "RTFM" might be the only suitable answer as the time for gaining knowledge and fruitefull discussions is mostly gone, swaped away by industrialization and "plug&play" menthality just want to "do" but not "understand". Anyway, it's maybe the wrong place to share my feelings, but as mentioned, somethimes you get a kick to do so...

 

I am not sure that you can blame the plug-n-play mentality on the company or the forums, but rather the evolution of things. This is not the first time I have heard or seen this. Although I am new here, I have been on a lot of forums over the time between now and the old CompuServe days. It seems that as things go, this is how the populace grows as an industry matures.

In my short time here, I have been astounded at how many people come in and actually seem to want to troll the forums that the UM3 does not do enough right off the bat or any problems that are not that difficult with just a bit of searching.

There are some misleading things such as buildplate size and other minor things like having to learn the language that does create a bit of a "Durrhhhh" moment for anybody new. But when someone comes in to complain that the G-Code from Cura is only for the UM series or just does not have that one last feature, it can be frustrating. I experienced this first hand with many of my students, the digital natives, as they are called, know less about how computers work than I do with the excuse being "There was nobody who taught us." When I started, there was nobody to teach us, at all, so we researched, tore into our machines and software and THEN became the people who taught them.

I can get the frustration of those who came before those of us who are new. But there is a natural evolution happening and it is required to continue to grow and succeed as a company.

Although, it would be cool to have a division that does cater to the tinkerers and a division that moves forward to compete on the current trajectory.

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You're certainly entitled to your opinion and you've made some interesting comments. I don't entirely agree with many of them but I appreciate the lively discussion that follows.

I am pleased that machines like the UM2+ and UM3 are very user friendly. For the price tag, you get a lot and ready to go out of the box. I'm not nearly the tweaker/tinkerer you are, so I can't speak intelligently about the patent issues you mention.

I don't feel Ultimaker is following the same path that MakerBot took.

My suggestions to Ultimaker seem to be listened to ...and I feel they are working on them. The slowness of this forum, the lack of documentation/tutorials/videos on new versions of Cura and so on... The community is what brought me to the Ultimaker in 2013, knowing there was so much support available from staff and other customers. Seeing the forum get so laggy and slow has been frustrating and makes browsing them painful. But, I patiently sip my coffee and wait a minute for each page to load...just like the old dial up internet days!

I hope you aren't going anywhere, I certainly like tapping into your vast knowledge.

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