We call it maintenance for a reason.

I drive a Volkswagen Passat. It’s reliable, well built and comfortable. It takes me all over our vast country and sometimes far into the vast country south of our border. I can and do rely on it daily. In sales, a good car is mission-critical equipment.

So when it’s time for an oil change, my car gets it. The German engine requires synthetic oil and the bill is always in excess of $100.00. A tune up is north of $500.00. 4 wheel brake service for that car exceeds $1000.00. I don’t skip these things when they are due.

I don’t enjoy forking over the cash. But I enjoy walking down the side of the highway even less, if you get my meaning.

The oil change or tune up is really a marginal increase in performance. It’s scarcely noticeable.

Maintenance items add no new capabilities. New brakes and fresh tires do not convert my car into tractor or a Ferarri or a power boat. Obviously. But that’s not the point of maintenance.

Maintenance prevents problems in the future. Maintenance provides a smooth and reliable continuation of the benefits my car has given me since I got it.

I count on my car, so I can make my living. Taking care of it makes sense. It almost goes without saying.

Except when you have to say it.

We’ve all seen rolling death-traps on the roads. A contractor’s truck, flakes of rust spraying in every direction with each pothole, bouncing beachball suspension that long-dead shock absorbers have given up on. One headlight works. Neither taillight does. There’s some sort of cable dragging sparks down the pavement. And it’s leaking…something. Under the grime and rust and dents is a company name and phone number. Not only is this a bloody awful representation of as business but it’s a clear case of neglect for something that is important to conducting business at all. Stranded on the shoulder of the road, or worse, upside-down in the ditch is no way to get a day’s work done.

Being frugal, carefully watching expenses – these are good business practices. Letting your capital investments rot away in neglect is neither frugal or careful. Some might actually call that irresponsible. I’ll just say it’s not a good idea.

You get my point.

‘Hey, isn’t this blog supposed to have something to do with software?’

Well, yes.

I like cars. I like driving cars. And as regards the citizens across the wide vistas of North America, pretty much everybody understands the benefits – the necessity – of automobiles.

So rather than attempting to explain the good sense of yearly software maintenance, which may involve forays into the unfamiliar (or incomprehensible) digital world, I use my go-to analogy – cars.

If something was worthwhile buying and is important to use, then look after it. Your cars, trucks, machinery and software investments – if they provide you a living, update them regularly – and they’ll continue doing so into the future.

Oh, and by the way, when you update your Alphacam software, you get 2 full releases during the one year coverage period as well as a year of tech support. So that’s like getting 2 new cars every year with a brand new warranty each year.

Just sayin’.

And now for a barely-related mention.


One of the most popular uses of the internet is the dissemination of cat pictures.

One of the least popular uses of the internet is reading somebody’s blog post.

But, a very popular other use for the internet is viewing videos. Youtube and Netflix are huge hits.

So, coming in the near future, Vectorline posts, where something is worth mentioning, will be mentioned in video format.

Stay tuned.

And here’s a picture of a cat. Enjoy.



Yo Ho HO!

It’s nice to be popular. You’ve got to love it when people like you.

But it’s not too cool when somebody likes you so much that they end up abducting you. Depriving you of your liberty for the express purpose of appropriating your exclusive attention…well, that’s a criminal act. Doesn’t matter how super-terrific you are or how much your abductor appreciates your company.

But hey, if you both agree to hang together, then by all means. Get married. Buy a house or cottage or cave dwelling together. However you come to terms is up to you as long as there’s mutual agreement and mutual benefit. It’s the one-sided, all-for-me, too-bad-for-you option that lands the absconder in trouble.

Check out Steven King’s book (and movie) Misery to see how that plays out.

In the software world, popularity was once measured by how easily available your product was as a “crack” or pirated version. Crackers would reverse engineer the most
popular software and make the fully operational, but protection-disabled, versions available for download on sketchy websites and torrent providers.

But things are changing.

Perhaps, in years past a blind eye was turned to these software pirates. The rationalization may have been that they were benevolent, but misguided youths. Maybe they were just flexing their formidable tech skills and showing off by breaking the protection schemes of highly trained developers. They were perhaps just leveling the
playing field that seemed so stacked in favor of inscrutable, EULA-spewing software giants.

But now we live in a world where the WannaCry virus has held thousands of computer systems for ransom. Malware proliferates with the speed and tenacity of real-life viruses. People with prodigious coding skills and profoundly lacking scruples are just as likely to provide cracked software as they are to write worms and viruses, sometimes combining the two for ill-gained profits.

“I found a free download.”

Well, my friends, sorry to sound so cynical, but “free” typically means “cost unseen.” Anyone who has been involved in business for more than a couple of weeks knows
that everything worth having has a cost attached somewhere, somehow. Is it a deferred or hidden profit? An exchange of one type of value for another? A lead, a referral, an advertising opportunity? Or a penalty just waiting to be triggered?

And with cracked software, a backdoor to your private data, a call from a lawyer or an invoice from the copyright holder may present an unbearable cost.

As a re-seller of proprietary software, Vectorline does not have the technological means nor the legal prerogative to pursue violators of the Alphacam license agreement.  But Vero Software certainly does. Protecting the substantial investment any business commits to their product is not only reasonable, but expected.Doors have locks for a good reason.

Modern software companies can and do pursue civil and criminal action against users and distributors of pirated software. The costs, if you are caught, can be many times more than a legally purchased license. Is the risk worth it?

Here are the facts:

– You are legally responsible for software downloaded and activated on your company’s computers regardless if it was undertaken by employees or “consultants”.
– Every instance of that software represents another license and the software company can and usually will expect compensatory payment for each license.
– In many jurisdictions, copyright violation and software piracy is considered theft and can result in criminal charges.
– Many “free” downloads of cracked software contain malicious code included by the hackers who post them leading to viruses and ransomware that can disable your computer, or your network and prevent access to your data.
– Using cracked software is the modern equivalent of buying stolen tools to operate your business. Anyone with more than a few years of trade experience will recall how shops who operated using stolen goods were regarded by their peers and the business community

“So this guy came in to help us with the new router for a couple of weeks and he installed     Alphacam for us!”

“Oh, really? How much was that?”

“He only charged us a hundred bucks, so we installed it on every computer!”

Most. Expensive. Alphacam. Ever.

Alphacam licensing, like many large manufacturing and engineering software suites is no trival matter. Software activation technology leaves an irrefutable fingerprint that can lead directly back to the individual pc on which it is installed. This is actually a good thing that protects rightful users of the software by ensuring license privileges are available at all times and updated immediately as required. Bad news, however, for anyone using a crack.

Even if you didn’t do it yourself.

Getting help from someone who installs pirated software on your pc – whether it’s Adobe, AutoDesk, Microsoft or countless other brands – is no help at all. That person puts you and your company at risk and leaves you liable for damages and possible criminal charges. They endanger you and your business and deprive rightful income from the many highly-qualified developers and technicians who make top-level software like Alphacam possible.

“Yeah, but I needed it…”

It’s flattering, but still unsettling, that someone would love your product so much that they would break down the door of your shop in the middle of the night to help themselves to it. You would, of course, be well within your rights to try and prevent them and to try to get compensation for your loss afterward.

At Vectorline we are not police. We offer a world-class product with industry-leading service for our many appreciative customers. So, to that end, a piece of advice:

If you have an un-licensed or pirated version of Alphacam on any of your computers, delete it immediately and give us a call. We will ensure you get the right product level and integrating support to get your production running like never before. It’s our passion to get Alphacam in the hands of those who will use it to grow their business and create products and profits they never imagined before.

You will have training, support and resources at your disposal as a registered Alphacam user, provided with our decades of experience and backed by the largest independent CAM company in the world.

And, ah… let’s leave their lawyers out of it.

“Buying Software”

“Buying Software”

As software resellers, we talk about selling software and our
customers talk about purchasing software. This is the conventional
terminology in our field.

But really, what we do is sell licenses. Our customers buy
licenses and the Alphacam division of Vero software issues the
licenses for the software we offer.

Not unlike an automobile license or a driver’s license, a
software license is actually no more than permission. You are
permitted to operate a vehicle on the public roadways with a
driver’s license (in some countries it is even called a driver’s
permit). Depending on your level of license you are permitted to
operate a motorcycle, car, truck, truck with air brakes etc.

So too with an Alphacam license. You buy a license of Essential or
Standard or Advanced or Ultimate and you are given permission to
open and run that level of software and use it to become as
productive – and make as much money with it – as you like.

If you have one license – just like a car – any number of drivers
or users can operate it – one at a time. If a second software
license is needed, then it is essentially like getting a second
car. Now 2 users can operate it concurrently.

A bit of confusion has occurred in the past where someone has
requested another software “key” (as in usb dongle). Each usb key
contains its own license and therefore permits an entirely
separate user system to operate. It’s a whole other “car”, not
just another key to the same “car”.

And because I’m a big fan of cars and driving, I’ll push this
automotive analogy a bit further:

We will often encounter a situation where a CNC machine has been
purchased secondhand, complete with a pc and an Alphacam
installation on it. The new owner of the machine would like to
update or add a license to their Alphacam system, only to discover
that the Alphacam installation needs to be transferred to them

Alphacam (the company proper, not the software) is the licensing
authority for its own intellectual property (the software named
Alphacam) and as such requires the new owner to pay a license
transfer fee to become the legal, registered user of said

This is like buying a car. You must re-license it in your name to
use it legally on the public roadways. You can’t just use the
previous owner’s license plates and expect to motor on without
getting into some problems. The seller of the car has no authority
over the licensing of that car – only over it’s possession. And so
with software.

We don’t buy or sell software. That would mean trading in the
source code and all the profits that accrue to its merchantability.
It would be like buying a factory. And the price would be
commensurate with that level of transaction.

Neither do we want to buy all the roads in the country. We just want to
use them. So we get our driver’s license and we buy plates for our
car. This allows us to drive, explore and wander to our heart’s
content. We can ply our trade down the highways and meet our
deadlines by traveling anywhere the road leads.

How valuable is that?

Well, just imagine conducting your business or even just living
your life without access to the public roadways.

Now imagine trying to get your products made and your business
organized without the benefit of software at all. Would you be
competitive? Would you be profitable? Would you still be in

Software licenses make this affordable for you and profitable
enough for software developers that our business can exist at all.

The licensing model puts tremendously powerful technology in our
hands, as a commonly available commodity.

If you had to buy this technology outright, the millions it would
cost would put it out of reach of all but the largest companies.
The rest of us would be hacking, chopping and filing away on big,
dumb blocks of stuff with hand tools – figuring it all out with
pencils on scraps of paper and offcuts.

When you look at it that way, licensing is the democratization of very powerful competitive advantages. It allows the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of man-hours of input costs to be capitalized by you and your organization, all at a reasonable fee.

Technology is for People, Not Machines

For all the impressive things that Alphacam can make a CNC machine accomplish – for all its creative and productive potential – it is nothing if a human does not use it. Machines, software and technology in all their diverse applications, are nothing without the operator, the programmer and without the customer.

If you don’t use our software, or can’t use it – if you never buy it – the power that is otherwise at your fingertips goes unrealized.

And here’s the point that’s often overlooked in the software business, and many other businesses too.

The point of our business is people. They must buy our product. They must be the ones who learn how to use it – how to get real value from it. Our customers are human beings who apply the tools we provide them to solve their problems, create value and make their own customers happy. When we recognize that and facilitate their success, then we achieve success ourselves.

For What It’s Worth

What’s the value in software?

After all, isn’t any piece of software just a long series of ones and zeroes?

Ones and zeroes aren’t mined. They’re not grown, planted, fed or nurtured. They exist only as representations of an abstract idea. Quantity, placeholder, or discrete element in a series, the binary digits are used to trip microscopic switches in a computer processor. They are limitless in number and available to all. As such, they have no intrinsic value for trade.

And yet, compose them carefully, apply meticulous sequencing and the result can be a work of sublime complexity and sophistication. The intelligence applied to the creation of long strings of only 2 basic numerical elements is now responsible for much of our world’s operation. But viewing that sequence in raw form gives no clue of the power of that embedded intelligence. Only through dynamic application does it become apparent. And that power is transformative in our world. It is creative. Its is productive. It organizes and reveals and manipulates with a speed and fidelity unmatched by manual means.

For many it’s hard to comprehend how 2 simple digits repeated, organized for a cascading swirl of high and low voltages through a microprocessor, could hold the value that some software systems do. The explanation of the time input in the programming and testing of software is lost on them. The individual study of arcane computer languages, the development and refinement of those languages and the subtleties of weaving multiple lines of logic throughout long, complex codework certainly sounds like lots of time spent and work invested. But the literal-minded cannot get past the obvious fact that the end product is 111001111100010100010 etc. in a very long, thin, spiral on a plastic mini-frizbee with the name “Alphacam” printed on it.

Those of us whose business it is to promote software might mention how much you can achieve with this product. But that carries weight only if you can visualize where and how it is useful. There are people who only use Alphacam to cut rectangular parts from plywood. This should not be surprising. There are physicists driving taxicabs and medical doctors delivering pizzas. The under-utilization of potential, although not always so extreme, is still a hallmark of our modern world. If the job is only worth $10 an hour, even a million-dollar intellect wouldn’t get a penny more. The software’s value, like the man’s is in what it CAN do, not in the mundane purpose it may be used for.

So, sticking with the same analogy for a moment, think of the pizza delivering doctor. He came from overseas, a fully trained, experienced physician, with less than perfect English and credentials that don’t match our system. He could likely save your life in an emergency situation. That’s probably worth a lot more than a pizza.

But he’s really just a sequence of DNA pairings isn’t he? Four elemental nucleotides combined in a specific sequence to grow that particular man. They are the same four basic items that resulted in you, your friends, neighbors, kids, good, bad and indifferent people everywhere you look. In fact, those nucleotides exist everywhere. All creatures great to small have them. They’re not much in of themselves. But in a particular sequence, well, they could be a tiger for example – one that eats you and the foreign doctor and your pizza too.

But wait. The sequence of Dr. Pizza makes him a man. And to our sense of morals and propriety, that alone bears merit. But what makes him special, a really valuable individual in the correct application, is his experience and his training. In essence, the intelligent direction of the discrete moments of his past have accumulated to create a product of substantial worth in our world. He may not differ in fundamental, compositional makeup. He may not be currently set to high-value work. But the dynamic application of his input programming, to its highest potential can be the difference between life and death.

OK. So Alphacam programming is not life or death stuff, I’ll admit. But the potential difference between how it is used and how it can be used can be almost as stark. It’s a bunch of ones and zeroes – true enough. But ones and zeroes that translate uniquely into a collection of tools that allow you to create and refine an infinite number of products.

This software product has a parallel to our human experience. Like every man is built and pre-loaded with all the capacity for great works, software achieves its greatest accomplishments when used beyond the conventional.

Explore how far you can go with Alphacam and the value becomes obvious. Explore how far you can go as a human being and your value becomes obvious to the world.

RELEASE 2015 Coming Soon!

If I were a marketing guy I might say something like:

“The very exciting new release of Alphacam will soon be out. 2015R1 marks a total
redesign of the user interface with a ribbon-style menuing system for cleaner, more
task-specific functionality”.

But I’m really more of a software enthusiast so what I’d like to tell you is that the new
version of Alphacam looks pretty cool and has a very modern feel to it.

As of today’s writing, the final release has not yet been unveiled to the world at large.
But Beta 2 has been in the hands of the testers for some time so it won’t be too long
now. New look, new functionality and new features are a certainty but their finalized
form is still being tweaked.

As for the release date , Alphacam is saying sometime in October. Whether that’s the
beginning or end of the month is unknown. What is known is that this is a major
redesign and Vectorline will be offering some very exciting promotional pricing to get this
new release into the hands of new and current Alphacam users.

So stay tuned.

When 2015R1 comes out we’ll post more information on the release and the discounts
–  and maybe a video or two.

It’s New!

So, for anybody who’s noticing such things, you will have undoubtedly picked up on the obvious change in the Vectorline website.

It’s new. It’s fresh. And it more accurately reflects our ongoing focus on Alphacam.

Alphacam is a great product. Of course I’m going to say that given my occupation. But moreover, there are a lot of other people who agree with me. As time goes on and I get time to connect with the past customers that make up the Alphacam fanbase, I’ll be posting their comments and their stories. We have a lot of shops who are very excited with the things they are now achieving with my favorite software.

In the meantime, poke around vectorline.net a bit. You’ll see the European case studies, where Alphacam enjoys a large user base in metal and stone shops.

Have a look at our training info for all the things you can learn about Alphacam and the products section for the many innovative systems  Alphacam produces.

You’ll notice there are many videos for the visually inclined. The latest release, previous release and new features videos cover some of the coolest functions available in Alphacam. I’ll be adding to these to keep things fresh and up to date in the following months and beyond.

And stay tuned here too.

I’ll have tips and tricks on using Alphacam. Look for videos on some of the lesser-known, but truly superb add-ins available with Alphacam, coming soon to this very page.

Vectorline.net has a goal, by the way. It’s goal is to be an informative resource on all things Alphacam. It’s goal is to be YOUR Alphacam source. And it’s my goal to do all this in a way that might even be interesting and fun.

We’re a bit different at Vectorline – but in a good way.

Check back soon. Same CAD channel. Same CAM station.

The First Post

A blog about manufacturing software? Who’d read that?

Well I guess you would.  At least this once anyway.

It’s not that CAD/CAM is boring – far from it in fact. It’s just that it’s not sexy or salacious in the way that Hollywood blogging might be. It’s not consequential as world politics. It’s not the quirky, offbeat and viral stuff of internet legend. And no, we have no pictures of cats.

But everything you touch in this world has some reference back to CAD/CAM processes. Even “handmade” is made with tools that came off a cnc machine somewhere – Roy Underhill notwithstanding. And if that’s not cool then consider this:

Most of the people I meet in this business started like I did. They took a college course, got a job in a shop somewhere and took to learning a trade because they really liked making things. You can make a living exerting your will upon big, dumb chunks of stuff in this world and end up with something exceptionally beautiful or highly useful. I’ve met a lot of people who get a real charge out of that.

I don’t know about you, but I still do.

When I discovered that computers weren’t toys, that they were actually tools I could use to do stuff – and better yet, make stuff – I was hooked. CAD was power. CAM was power squared. Once I gained proficiency in that computer assisted environment my ability to create things grew exponentially. I could make a lot of things  really accurately, really quickly with all sorts of complex and precise details.

Now not only could I crank out the mundane bread and butter stuff, but I could invent, create tools, devise part relationships without wrecking a single piece of material, and generally take my work to the level of an art. And after more than 30 years in the grown-up, working world, I still find this the coolest thing. And rather than abdicating my human work skills to a machine, I have magnified them. I can pretty much make anything that I can draw. And with good software I can draw anything I put my mind to.

Imagine elevating your skills and creativity with dead accuracy and executing your intent with the steadiest hand modern technology can devise. This is in fact, what we are doing in CAD/CAM. I’ve been saying this for 15 years to my Alphacam customers. Artists, scientists and inventors of bygone eras would have gone crazy with the technological wonders of what is now commonplace. But just because it is commonplace does not make it any less of a wonder.

Most CAD/CAM websites focus on the rational, engineering and financial considerations of a software package. But the power software like this puts in the hands of a craftsman runs much deeper. I’ve seen the eyes of stoical journeymen light up when they come to realize what they can do with these systems. They see and I know – it is amazing stuff. Through these means come truly stunning products, efficiencies impossible any other way and the creation of not just bits and parts, but an amazing lifetime of work.

So, yeah, you could say I’m still excited about this line of work even after all these years.

It’s just too cool not to be.