MI can safely say that this was my most enjoyable (and exhausting) Autodesk University so far. This post contains a "blow by blow" account of my involvement in this year's event, to give a feel for what it was like (from my perspective, at least).
Before AU proper I attended two great events: our ADN conference - attended by upwards of 400 people - and Autodesk's inaugural Design Computation Symposium. I found it very interesting to see some of the capabilities of algorithmic design, an area I've started to get involved in and a theme that continued during the course of the week.
You'll probably have seen a number of video blog posts on "Through the Interface". Members of the AU organization team threw a Flip video camera at me at the beginning of the week, to shoot and upload small videos to be linked from the AU Daily website as part of the "Blogsxperts" team. Lots of fun!
On Monday evening the ADN team held a party at the ESPN Zone - a great location for a party. One of these days I'll get time to to play on some of the games there, though: I never seem to get around to it, as there are always lots of people to catch up with.
A short night's sleep: even though I was very tired the jetlag kicked in with a vengeance. That said, I probably managed to sleep for around five hours, which isn't so bad for AU.
As the main conference started, I had a real treat: a project I'd been working on for the last few months was shown during Carl Bass' keynote, in front of probably 8,000 people (I know that not all of the 9,000+ AU attendees were there, but it seemed like a huge crowd nonetheless).
I enjoyed this year's main stage: it was slightly lower key than last year's, but I felt that made it feel more real - even if some of the wilder technology demos from last year (and I'm especially thinking about the very cool, immersive digital cities demo that unfortunately gave me motion sickness) are actually making it into production use today.
The rest of the morning was spent in internal planning meetings.
In the afternoon I was part of the "AutoCADAPIs: Meet the Experts" panel, and in the evening I attended the Blogger Social followed by a party hosted by the AutoCAD team.
Tuesday night I slept for eight hours - a rare treat in Las Vegas and definitely worth writing about! :-)
On Wednesday morning I spent time at the ADN booth in the Exhibit Hall, and took the chance to meet with developers and colleagues. During one of my calls home my wife asked me about the weather. I paused to consider the question... I hadn't actually been outside of the hotel (and its connected conference centre) since arriving on Sunday night. So I went for a 20 minute walk, which turned out to be the only time I managed to get out during the whole week (the weather was great, though).
Things started to heat up on Wednesday afternoon, as I delivered my first class, "There's more to .DWG than AutoCAD®". 45 people attended, and so far just over half have submitted feedback (overall 9.2 out of 10).
Once again, I was in bed just before midnight. This time, however, the clock tower at the Venetian woke me up at 4:00am. Having slept well the night before and still suffering from some vestiges of jetlag, I was doomed: no more sleep for me that night. So I got up and went through the morning's demos while watching a couple of episodes of the second season of Dexter that I'd just bought on DVD.
My first class on Thursday was "Enrich Your DWF™", and there were a surprising number of attendees given the start time of 8:15am (66 attendees, 31 feedback surveys, overall rating of 8.57 / 10).
Straight afterwards I went across to our AU Unplugged event, which we'd hoped to use to gather input to help steer AutoCAD's .NET API. This is the second year we've tried holding one of these sessions, but while last year we had four attendees, this year we only managed half that. Yes, you read that correctly. And they were both from the same company. We should probably rebrand our sessions as "AU Unattended"? <grin><sigh> Maybe it'll be "third time lucky" next year...
After lunch I delivered my final class of the conference, "AutoCAD® .NET - Developing for AutoCAD® Using F#". According to AU Daily, this session ended up being one of Thursday's most highly rated AU sessions, which was really nice to see (42 attendees, 20 survey responses, 9.62 / 10). Given our experience, this year, I expect we'll deliver more advanced content next year - we've certainly seen a desire for it, and it's certainly something my team can bring to the AU table (so to speak).
In the evening I met up with some old friends and attended the closing party, which included the Design Slam finals. I was dead on my feet by this time, and knew I had a flight out of McCarran at 8:30am, so once again I retired relatively early.
I caught a taxi at 6:45am and flew back out to Geneva via Newark, where I had just enough time in transit to so some Christmas shopping at the Smithsonian Museum Store. I've mentioned before that I don't usually sleep well on planes, so this is a reasonable way to gauge my level of fatigue by the end of the week: I slept through both flights on the way home.
The above diary of this year's AU event really only covers activities/events I attended or was involved in. I would like to say, though, a huge thank you to the members of my team who put their hearts and souls into making the event (and especially the Developer Track) a success: Stephen Preston, Mikako Harada, Dongjin Xing, Fenton Webb, Gopinath Taget, Wayne Brill & Jeremy Tammik. And also the members of our Engineering teams who delivered classes or participated in panel sessions as part of the Developer Track: Davis Augustine, Albert Szilvasy, Bill Adkison, Peter Funk, Reva Revadigar, Kevin Vandecar, Anthony Hauck, Brian Ekins, Ashutosh Tambe, Doug Redmond & Nate Holt. Apologies to anyone I've missed.
For those of you who have persevered - or skipped down - to the end of this article: if you attended AU this year and have feedback on how it went, please do send it to me by email or post a comment - we'd certainly appreciate it. See you next year!