Saturday, December 5, 2015

AU2015, the day after: I'm still here


The Autodesk Expert Elite Program recognizes individual Autodesk Community members (many of whom are end users just like you and me) who have made extraordinary contributions with helping customers by sharing knowledge, providing community leadership, and exemplifying an engaging style of collaboration that drives a healthy and valuable Autodesk customer community. They share their enthusiasm for Autodesk with their community, as well as representing the voice of the customer back to Autodesk.

As a member of this wonderful group of Autodesk Product Users, I am attending this year's Autodesk Expert Elite Global Summit, normally held after Autodesk University (AU): this is a great networking opportunity as well as a chance to interact with Autodesk Community and Support staff to explore how best we as EEs can extend our abilities and contributions.

The day started at 8:30AM with the official opening and introductions, followed by a very productive schedule filled with Q&As, Round Table discussions, Autodesk staff meetings, Autodesk Community-centric topics of interest to us EEs, support strategies we as EEs can employ to help fellow product software users like you.

And the mysterious Discussion Admin from the Autodesk Forums made an appearance: some say he was wearing a cowl, others saw a Lone Ranger style mask and hat. I simply averted my eyes and have no knowledge of what he looks like, just that he is male with a commanding voice.

So what do you, an Autodesk Software User, get out of this event? Hopefully better support from us EEs at the Autodesk Community and public Product Support forums. Why don't you join us there with your questions, software challenges and more, and see how we can help you. We might learn something new together.

http://forums.autodesk.com is where it all starts.

FitBit Count for the day: 25,742 steps (11.77 miles). Yes, I spent the afternoon and evening walking the strip and enjoying all the sights and lights.



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Friday, December 4, 2015

AU2015 Las Vegas: (the last) Day Three

Breakfast. Again. Same as yesterday. And the day before.

XI10614 - The Power of the Autodesk Community
The Autodesk Community serves up answers to millions of customers. Over 27 million customers in the last 12 months have visited the community. Are you an Autodesk Community user? The Autodesk Community shares product-use information that solves potential product issues and promotes best practices to proactively supply customers with the tools and information needed for successful product experiences. Come and join us for an engaging session led by the customer experts known in the Autodesk Community as Expert Elites. These customers will take you on a tour and share their insights to get the most out of the Autodesk Community forums.
Course Objectives: Learn how to navigate the Autodesk Community in its many forms, Learn about setting up user accounts and preferences, Learn how to effectively ask and answer questions, Learn general rules and guidelines of behavior.

The actual experience - An admirable job by four fellow Expert Elites and the Autodesk Staff that manage the forums. I think a little more rehearsal was probably in order, I always zone out if a presenter just reads from the slides being shown.
What I got out of it - Expert Elites are passionate about the Autodesk forums and want as many users to use this free tool for support.

GEN9992 - AutoCAD Super-Duper Click Savers
Learning objectives: Learn how to use some of the most effective tips and tricks that are out there for instant productivity, Learn secrets about AutoCAD software that trump repetitive steps and tasks, Learn how to use fewer picks and clicks and get work done faster on any AutoCAD software platform, Learn how to go from a click slave to a click saver.

The actual experience - So many good quality tips and tricks are offered in this course it's simply amazing. And they are all good, and totally relevant to the 2016 versions of AutoCAD/LT.
What I got out of it - many tips I simply forgot about were highlighted: this time I wrote these down so I would not forget. When it becomes avaiable at AU for all users for free you should seek this one out and download the PDF of the handout.

Expert Elite Summit Kickoff and Luncheon
Objective: Kick-off the Autodesk Expert Elites Summit which will reconvene on Friday, December 4th. Autodesk's Amar Hanspal will be joining the Summit Kickoff as very special guests for an open Q&A discussion.

The actual experience - Executive VP Hanspal introduced several future products that are about to be announced by Autodesk, and reaffirmed that the company is truly 100% focused on mobile and the cloud as the future of the company's software base.
What I got out of it - I enjoyed the real-food lunch and the open honesty from EVP Hanspal about were Autodesk is focusing.

GEN11219 - The Most Dynamic Class on the Block—Creating Dynamic Blocks in AutoCAD
Learning objectives: Learn how to create Dynamic Blocks with the following abilities: stretch, mirror, array, rotate, align, multiple insertion points, Learn how to limit block variations through lists and increments, Learn how to apply constraints and parameters to control block behavior, Learn how to implement Block Tables as well as the Lookup Action to quickly select the desired block iteration

The actual experience - This was a very well run class introducing the basics of Dynamic Blocks creation. The instructor covered in one hour what I could not find online as a training resource as a single document or class.
What I got out of it - Quirks in some aspects of Dynamic Blocks creation and how to work around them was of real value. I will be blogging about these and other tips I picked up soon.

IT10908 - Drawing from Experience: Tell All of 4 CAD Managers with Over 100 Years of Experience
Learn from the experiences of this panel of diverse CAD managers (R.K. McSwain, Robert Green, Kate Morrical, Curt Moreno) who are widely respected as leaders in their field. Hear their unique perspective and solutions to challenges faced by CAD managers from organizations of all sizes and backgrounds. Topics include understanding CAD standards, keeping up with rapidly changing technology, managing users, communicating with management and other non-technical people, budgeting, and much more.

The actual experience - An honest discussion about Cad Management, Cad Managers and their bosses, and CAD drafting/production roles were reviewed by all four, each with their own take about each topic.
What I got out of it - These four talented folks offered so many good ideas that I ended up Tweeting about them in rapid fire succession. Check them out HERE look for hashtag #ASK4AUExperts.

11907 - Autodesk University Closing General Session
Closing Keynote: Presented by Amar Hanspal, Sr. Vice President, Products. Like many kids growing up in India, Amar Hanspal’s parents wanted him to pursue what they considered a noble profession: doctor, politician, or even Bollywood star.  But he believes there is a profession just as noble, that of the engineer.  Join him as he celebrates the incredible work of the engineers and designers who solve today’s epic challenges of transportation, healthcare, education and access to clean water. Before you head off to the Closing Celebration, discover how you might use your skills to imagine, design and create a better world.


11920 - Bash to the Future
The After Party Objective: Curious what the future looks like? Then don’t miss the Bash to the Future, AU’s final hurrah. You’ll be transported to another world where you can touch the stars, drink with aliens, and chat with robots. Enjoy games, music, cocktails, and a futuristic feast that’s out of this world.


The actual experience - Way more fun that I anticipated.

AU2016 was announced: Nov 15-17 of next year.

FitBit Count for the day: 11,211 steps (5.17 miles).

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

AU2015 Las Vegas: Day Two

Breakfast. Again. Same as yesterday.

GEN10227 - AutoCAD Secrets Exposed
Learning objectives: Learn tips and tricks from other AutoCAD users, Learn to use the newer tools for greater productivity, learn about hidden tips that might take you years to discover, Get exposed to tips that apply to many versions of AutoCAD ranging from 2012 to 2016.

The actual experience - Jeanne Aarhus is a wonderful presenter/instructor and this is the second class in AU that I attended with her. She makes the class quite enjoyable, and even manages to make revealing tips I knew sound most interesting.
What I got out of it - I was reminded of two tips I had forgotten: you can control the spacing between MTEXT columns by dragging the ruler double arrows on the far right, and when you need to select a 1/3 of the distance between two points this command line entry works best 'Cal;Dist(end.end)/3

GEN13037 - Peer into the Future of AutoCAD
Michael Mizuno - Senior Product Manager, Autodesk, Inc.
This class will give you an overview of the future of AutoCAD® . The AutoCAD team will present new technologies, features, workflows, and tools that are designed to improve product knowledge, productivity, and efficiency of AutoCAD users across all industries.

The actual experience - New features of a future AutoCAD version were revealed and they are amazing. Sadly I can't tell you as everyone in the class was required to sign an NDA agreement.
What I got out of it - well, I can't tell you, but it's amazing.

Expert Elite Recognition Lunch
This is an opportunity for Autodesk to thank Autodesk Expert Elite unpaid volunteers for their continuous and valued contributions at the Autodesk public Product Support Forums. Want to know more about the Expert elites Program? Read all about it HERE.

The actual experience - at our table the AutoCAD program director sat with five of us and was a very interesting man to talk with about the future, the past, and the current state of all the software under his umbrella.
What I got out of it - that fuzzy feeling you get when you hang out with peers that are just amazing and the great Autodesk staff that support the program.

GEN11412 - 60 AutoCAD Tips in 60 Minutes
Presented by Lynn Allen - Evangelist, Autodesk
Learning Objective: If you want a plethora of power-user tips, be sure join Cadalyst Columnist and Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen as she takes you through a whirlwind of productivity techniques that are certain to improve your everyday drawing life. At a tip a minute, you’ll be sure to discover some top-secret AutoCAD software features that will remove tedium and boost your ability to meet project deadlines. She switches up the tips every year.

The actual experience - Lynn is simply the most amazing presenter Autodesk has, and simply turned this talk into a joyful show to watch and participate in.
What I got out of it - I learnt a tip I did not know: you can get a table to auto-populate and auto-number other cells easily by selecting two cells with numbers in sequence then selecting all the others below them.

IT11008 - Networking Autodesk Products Beyond Z
Learning objectives: Develop a sustainable licensing maintenance plan, Learn how to recognize early symptoms of problems and have action plans ready Learn how to manage license access and borrowing to realize maximum utilization efficiency Evaluate utilization reporting options

The actual experience - OMG, this was way over my head. Way over. What?
What I got out of it - (crickets noise)

IT10856 - AutoCAD Tool Palettes Master Class (Planning and Preparation, Not Perspiration)
Learning objectives: Learn how to create a completely fresh tool palette in a network location, Learn how to create, edit, and save tools onto your networked palettes, Learn how to boost productivity with scripts and macros hosted on your palettes, Learn how to hack your tool palettes without opening AutoCAD.

The actual experience - my fellow EE Paul Munford is an amazing presenter and showed us how he likes to manage, share and develop/innovate with Palettes to control office standards.
What I got out of it - I learnt about a tip: resorting the content of a palette by selecting all, CTRL+X to cut to the clipboard, then CTRL+V to paste.

11905: AUGI Annual Meeting
Objective (yes I am a memeber of AUGI, are you?): This session features the year in review and a look ahead for members of Autodesk User Group International (AUGI). Open to AUGI members and non-members alike, this session culminates in the presentation of the AUGI Wish List - the 10 top product improvement wishes for key Autodesk products. Attendees will hear about AUGI's accomplishments in 2015 and get a sneak peek of the organization's plans for the coming year. And there's a chance to win awesome prizes and Premier and Professional memberships. And of course, everybody leaves with an AUGI Beer mug for the annual AUGI Reception which follows immediately.

The actual experience - Continuing more modestly with the Star Wars theme, the AUGI president and other board members presented AUGI to those that don't know about this user organization, and with some fanfare presented Autodesk with the latest list of use wishlists for AutoCAD.
What I got out of it - a free beer glass.

12449 - AUGI Reception
Objective (yes, I am a member, are you?): Join thousands of members of AUGI (Autodesk User Group International)—the largest Autodesk community—whose motto is “Users Helping Users.” At this reception, you’ll enjoy making connections, comparing notes,  and checking out the latest technology exhibits and activities over a cold beer. Open to everyone, not just AUGI members.

Autodesk University 2015 Blogger Social Meetup Sign Up
Objective: The Autodesk University Blogger Social started ~12 years ago and morphed into a more formal AU Blogger and Social Media Meetup event is now in it’s 8th year will be held jointly with the Autodesk PR, Social Media Team, and Office of the CTO to show our appreciation for active bloggers and influential social media who cover Autodesk products and customers. In past years in addition to beverages and good conversation and networking we have had surprises such as having a Zero G 3D printer to be used in space from Made in Space and the Megabot team and I am working on some surprises this year as well. We might also get a few special VIP seats like we did last year to give away for the closing keynote.










The actual experience - a fun meet and greet experience were I got to meet some of the best bloggers out there.

FitBit Count for the day: 9,248 steps (4.22 miles).






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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

AU2015 Las Vegas: Day One



Breakfast
So how do you feed +/-10,000 attendees? in a very big hall. From 6:30-8:00, I joined the others for what is a very basic hotel breakfast that is there to kick start your day.

GEN10224 - AutoCAD Jeopardy (my first class)
Learning objectives: Learn to capitalize on AutoCAD knowledge to help others learn in a whole new way, Extend the knowledge of AutoCAD software’s capabilities.

The actual experience - This was as much fun as I hoped it would be. Set up like the game show Jeopardy, a very long list of quick fire questions and answers were needed for a very comprehensive list of AutoCAD commands, features, variables and functions that the whole class participated in. And there were prizes for correct answers too.
What I got out of it - I actually learned two things that never occurred to me before: "nudge" command works with SNAP distances, plus a good example of when SPACESWITCH command might come in handy.

11906 - Autodesk University Opening General Session
Join Autodesk CEO Carl Bass and CTO Jeff Kowalski as we kick off Autodesk University 2015.

The actual experience - Wow! sensory overload.
What I got out of it - It was fun to attend.

11917 - AU Lunch and Volunteer Opportunity Tuesday

The actual experience - food stations located between exhibitors at the exhibit hall.
What I got out of it - lunch and staring at exhibits.

GEN9638 - Forensic Cadology: When Good DWG files Go Bad
Learning objectives: Learn how to diagnose the cause of a corrupt DWG file, repair a corrupt DWG file, how to find (use) the most current backup file and learn best practices to avoid file corruption

The actual experience - This was an excellent class that offered very detailed instructions and guidelines for file recover methods, ways to try and avoid file corruption, and so much more.
What I got out of it - The methods I already use are still valid, but I was exposed to a better systematic approach that I will use in teh future.

GEN11005-L - The Power of Fields and Attributes in AutoCAD
Learning objectives: Learn how to create attributes and redefine existing attributes, insert fields, insert field with text/mtext, or use with attributes, Learn to use fields for complex calculation using elements property combining with formulas, Learn how to extract attribute/fields from the design data and output as AutoCAD Table or export as Excel or database file.

The actual experience - With AutoCAD loaded on computers for all of us class attendees to use, the instructor's intent was to present a hands on experience in creating attributes, fields, and links to external Excel files and Tables inside AutoCAD. Sadly he was ill prepared, seemed challenged by his own material and overall did little to provide anything warranting an "intermediate-advanced" class.
What I got out of it - Not much. Can I get a refund?

GEN11607-L - Exploring the 2016 Dimension Tools (in AutoCAD)
Learning objectives: Discover core concepts for AutoCAD dimensioning, new dimension tools in AutoCAD 2016, use all options within the new dimension tools, and Learn how to identify the best ways to edit existing dimensions.

The actual experience - This happened to take place in the exact same room as the class I attended before, but with a much better experience. The instructor had three test DWG files ready on each computer, walk us through the new DIM command features in AutoCAD 2016, and was very engaging and was not afraid to answer difficult questions.
What I got out of it - While I did not discover any new features I did not know about, I did learn how to fix a glaring AutoCAD 2016 problem when using Annotative Dimensions and Baseline Dimensions. Now I can go back to drawing these again. What's that fix? I'll blog about it later this month.

12448 - AU Community Reception
Objectives: lasses end the party begins. Join everyone in the Exhibit Hall for the AU Community Reception as they close out day 1 of AU. Take in a bite, a sip, a boogie, and lots of networking with thousands of like-minded professionals from around the world. Chat with AU exhibitors and see the latest technologies at work in the world.

The actual experience - food, networking, hanging out with exhibitors, and overall just a great way to wind down after a long and busy day.

FitBit Count for the day: 14,249 steps (6.52 miles).

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Monday, November 30, 2015

AU2015, the day before: Freshman Orientation


I arrived today, the afternoon before AU2015, to complete my Registration, get my access badges, get into my hotel room, and as all new "university" attendees, show up for the Freshman Orientation class held this afternoon.

Airport
Las Vegas Airport is a little confusing, looks more like a casino than airport, and depending on where you land you may need to take a train to the main terminal. I just followed everyone off of my plane and was led to where I needed to be to leave the airport.

Ride to Hotel
Getting here you have to decide if you want convenience (Uber or Lyft cars are my first choice), or if like me you want to see a little bit of "the Strip" by taking an airport shuttle ($9 one way), or you want to take an old school taxi cab and pay way much more, or splurge and get a Limo to your hotel (starts at $45/person). I enjoyed the Shuttle ride.

Hotel
I opted to stay at one of the two recommended hotels, The Venetian (The Palazzo is next door and equally close to the action). You can stay anywhere you want, but you'll have to figure out transportation if you're not into walking over. The place was packed with many AU attendees checking in but this hotel had a great system that moved the process quickly. I got a nice non-smoking room on floor 14 overlooking the pool area.

AU Registration
First thing to do after you drop your baggage in the room is to hop down to AU Registration to get your access badge. Autodesk emailed me a QR Code a couple of days ago and this automated the process: I don't think it took more than 5-minutes to scan my code walk over to get the print-out and lanyard (they required a photo ID to prove I was me first), then walk over to the 'merch" desk and pick up the complimentary AU2015 backpack.

11904 - AU Freshman Orientation 2015
Lynn Allen and others point out events and gatherings that should not be missed, plus get a preview of what’s in store for AU 2015. Well, that's what the intro to the class noted. This is slated to be 90-minutes long with a social/networking gathering afterwards. Lynn Allen was amazing, explained how this huge place works, how to use the AU2015 app, how  to find every event and function scheduled, and generally made us Freshman most welcome. Best 25-minutes of my time here so far.

A guest speaker got up and started talking about VUCA and managed to take a hall full of 500+ attendees to play the Marshmallow Challenge for 20-minutes, their enthusiasm fanned by the allure of $100 gift card for use at the at the Autodesk store. What is VUCA? What is the Marshmallow Challenge? Sadly I tuned out and felt this was a total waste of my time, but the winning team of the Marshmallow Challenge did construct the most amazing 39" tall structure that remained upright for the 15-minutes that I observed it: 3-engineers and 1-construction specialist were part of the team. Bravo!

A heart-warming videotaped story about training prison inmates with Autodesk software for careers when they get out was a nice touching story that closed out the event.

Expert Elite (EE) Welcome Reception
I ducked out 10-minutes before the Freshman Orientation class ended to visit with and attend a gathering of my fellow EE contributors (many are teaching or are participating in events at AU2015) at the Autodesk Forums and our Autodesk Liaison staff. It was good to see some familiar faces and meet new ones. If you are here at AU2015, look for us EEs wherever you are, we all have Expert Elite tags attached to the bottom of our ID cards.
Thanks to the Autodesk team for arranging it all.


It's time to get ready for a long day tomorrow. If you are interested, my FitBit logged 8703 steps today from the moment I stepped off the plane here in Las Vegas.


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