Thursday, November 29, 2007

Autodesk University - Day Three

I started my day with a 8am lab and then I had one more class to teach this morning, and then I could finally relax a bit and enjoy the rest of the courses for which I had registered. So far, I had attended every class that I had signed up to take. In my opinion, all of the classes at this year's AU were excellent.

Of course, Thursday night is also the night for the headline entertainment at Autodesk University. This year, the entertainment selection had been kept secret until Thursday, when Lynn Allen finally told me that it would be a comedy night.

Lynn served as master of ceremonies. I didn't record the opening act nor the headliner, but I did capture a few minutes of comedy juggler Mad Chad.

When the comedy show was over, the band Tainted Love took over, playing cover versions of hits from the 80s.

Matt Murphy let his hair down.

We partied until the very end with Lynn and her husband Craig.

And even after the party officially ended, Shaan Hurley, Lynn, and a few others hung out for a while longer.

AU ends at noon tomorrow. I'll spend the morning taking a 3-hour hands-on Revit lab class.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Autodesk University - Day Two Evening

My Design Review and Rendering classes went well. I also got to attend some great classes, including a class on options and phasing in Revit taught by well-known author Paul Aubin.

But talk about the perfect end to a great day at AU. Proving that you've got to keep your eyes and ears open at all times, I caught word that there would be a special musical guest at the Autodesk Mechanical Solutions Division party, one of severeral parties taking place on Wednesday evening.

After first dropping in on several of the other parties, I made my way to Hall D, the same room that had been used for the main stage presentations earlier in the day. When I arrived, a Pecha Kucha was in progress and attendance was rather sparce, perhaps because the individual speakers were not all that compelling, and it was also difficult to hear them due to the terrible room acoustics. Knowing what was to come, however, we stuck around.

Sure enough, when the final presenter left the stage, the curtains rose to reveal a band. And not just any band: Dave Mason's band.

For those of you who don't recognize that name, Dave Mason is an incredible guitarist who has played with Traffic, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, and others.

A small crowd of probably less than 1,000 people got to enjoy an hour-long concert by this Hall of Fame guitarist and his incredible band. Some friends and I moved up to the very front, where we were able to lounge in comfortable couches, drink free martinis, and just bask in the fantastic music. Of course, we had to get up and dance.

As promised, here is one of several videos I shot during Dave Mason's performance.

I've uploaded several others to YouTube, including:
40000 Headmen
Mr. Fantasy
We Just Disagree


Autodesk University - Day Two AEC Main Stage

Here we are at Day Two of Autodesk University. This morning's first event for me was the AEC main stage presentation. Jay Baht began the presentation with a discussion of the forces and issues that will drive the creation of the built environment in the coming years: the increase in population movements from rural areas to cities, globalization, regionalization, and scarcity of labor, materials, and energy.

Jay was followed by Phil Bernstein who introduced a team of developers from Autodesk that played the roles of architect, structural engineer, MEP engineer, civil engineer, and so on, to demonstrate the interoperability between Autodesk's various products.

Once again, if you paid close attention, Autodesk dropped several hints about future directions, as well as making several announcements. For example, in addition to prominently showing off recent acquisition Navisworks, Autodesk also announced that it had just acquired Robobat, the structural analysis software developer. I would expect to see Robobat tools eventually find their way into Revit Structure.

The company also announced that hydrology functionality from Hydroflow would soon be available to Civil3D subscription customers.

The team also briefly showed what appears to be a new product called Autodesk Quantity Takeoff. Based on DWF, the program enables estimators to do accurate material takeoffs from Revit BIM models and then apply cost data to develop complete estimates. Autodesk first showed this product two years ago at Autodesk University in Orlando, Florida. At that time, it was just a brief glimpse during the mainstage presentation, and absolutely no mention was made of what the product was. This time around, the product name was clearly visible.

The high point of the morning, however, was a presentation by Bill McDonough, the award winning architect who has been promoting environmentally sensitive design for most of his career. My favorite line from his presentation, "Being less bad is not being good. It's still being bad...just less so."

Now on to a full day of classes. I'm teaching two classes today, one on Autodesk Design Review and one on rendering in AutoCAD, which is actually the first of two parts. I'll teach part two tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Autodesk University - Day One AUGI Meeting

I'm finding it a bit tough to write consistently while here at AU this year because there's simply so much going on that there's very little opportunity for down time. I also occassionally lose my wireless connection while I'm trying to post. But all-in-all, I must say that so far this is the best run AU ever.

This evening was the AUGI General Meeting, followed by the annual Beer Blast, which coincides with the opening of the exhibit hall.

Lynn Allen opened the AUGI General Meeting and introduced the current AUGI president.

As part of the meeting, my CAD Camp Experience video was shown. I'll eventually have that video available online on the CAD Camp website.

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass also showed up to say a few words. The the AUGI Wish List was presented to the various division vice presidents. The number one AutoCAD wish list request this year is the ability to import a PDF file into an AutoCAD drawing. Wish lists were also presented for Inventor, and for the first time wish lists were compiled and presented for Revit and Civil 3D.

The current board was recognized for their outstanding service.

Then we moved on to the exhibit hall for the annual AUGI Beer Blast. Donia Tabor-Hansen hosted a contest in the AUGI booth called Stump the Expert, which had people lined up

In fact, the turn out at the beer blast was incredible. It felt like nearly all of the nearly 10,000 people at AU were there for the event. At times, it was difficult to move. But there were plenty of serving tables and lots of beer and wine. If anyone went away hungry or thirsty, they weren't trying very hard

I spent some time in the Autodesk Labs area looking at some of the new technologies under development. One of the most intriguing was an addition to Design Review that will enable users to print out copies of DWF files, mark them up in the field using a special pen, and then transfer those markups back to the DWF file. I'll try to write more about this once I have a chance to check it out in greater detail.

Of course, back in the AUGI booth, Matt Murphy was on-hand to fulfill his promise to "buy a beer" for any CAD Camp attendee who stopped by. (Of course, the beer at the AUGI Beer Blast is free.)

Autodesk University - Day One Mainstage

It's now Tuesday morning and Autodesk University is in full swing. The first event of the morning was the mainstage presentation. That was after the amazing feat of feeding nearly 10,000 attendees. Food service this year is located on the lower level of the Sands Convention Center, in what was originally designed as a parking garage.

It was somewhat disorienting to walk into Hall D where the opening session was being held. In order to ensure that late arriving attendees didn't end up seated hundreds of yards from the stage, the room was set up in the round, with a bank of screens suspended above the stage and the room ringed with a series of large screens.

The opening general session was introduced by Lynn Allen, who encouraged attendees to talk to each other. This was not the week to be an introvert.

Lynn then introduced Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, who outlined Autodesk's vision for digital prototyping and the important role designers and engineers have in solving problems such as sustainable design.

Carl was followed by Yves Behar, founder of the award-winning San Francisco design firm fuseproject. Yves talked about his approach to design as showed off some of his recent projects.

Following Yves was Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski, who took full advantage of the surrounding screens as he gave attendees a glimpse of some of the new tools, technologies, and concepts that Autodesk is developing.

He was assisted by Jonathan Knowles. Among the new products that were demonstrated were a new product called Mudbox for manipulating design models as if they were clay, new freeform design capabilities in Revit that will enable designers to deform surfaces by pushing and pulling various grips, new 3D capabilities in Autodesk Impression (apparently codenamed Titan), and a new product called Newport that enables users to aggregate content from Revit, Inventor, and other sources to navigate and visualize projects.

Perhaps the most amazing future technology demonstrated was a new product called Metropolis to build digital 3D cities. Knowles was able to navigate through what appeared to be a detailed digital model of downtown Washington, DC in real-time. He was even able to move below grade to look at buried utilities, and made mention of another new product called Autodesk Utility Design.

Quite an amazing series of presentations. I can't wait to learn more.

Now I'm off to attend my first class: "Effective Collaboration with the Revit Platform."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Autodesk University - First Night

Here I am, back in Las Vegas for yet another Autodesk University. This is my 15th AU (that's a 1.000 batting average, for those who are keeping track). I've actually been looking forward to AU this year as an opportunity to slow down a bit. With all of the CAD Camp and other travel this fall, this will mark the first time since September 12 that I've gotten to spend more than three consecutive nights in the same bed.

Monday night marked the official start of AU with the annual Speakers' Reception. With more than 600 classes offered at this year's event, there were certainly a number of new faces among the instructors. But of course all of the usual suspects were in attendance as well.

Lynn Allen welcomed everyone to the event and provided a last minute pep talk.

Doesn't she look happy to be here?

Well, tomorrow's events start bright and early with an 8am mainstage presentation. I wonder how they are going to accomodate nearly 10,000 people at breakfast, not to mention fit them all into a single room for the mainstage presentation.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I just flew in from Birmingham...and boy are my arms tired

I must apologize for the lack of blog postings lately. The past few weeks of AUGI CAD Camp travel has taken its toll both mentally and physically. Since my last posting on October 17, we've done additional CAD Camps in Boston (10/23), Detroit (10/25), Portland (11/1), Vancouver, British Columbia (11/6), and Birmingham, Alabama (11/8). Along the way, I came down with a cold that persisted into this week. Nothing like getting sick BEFORE Autodesk University.

Anyway, I am back at home now and trying desperately to get caught up and to finish work on my presentations for AU. I've also been in Everett and Seattle teaching Revit classes at several architectural firms as well as meeting with prospective customers and existing AutoCAD and Revit users. Last night I attended the Puget Sound AutoCAD User Group (PSAUG) meeting in Renton, Washington. Tomorrow I'll be speaking at the Seattle Revit User Group (SEARUG) meeting at lunch and then at the Bellingham AutoCAD User Group (BAUG) meeting after dinner.

And lest I run out of things to keep me busy, I'm also making the final edits to the AUGI video that will be shown at the annual meeting in two weeks at Autodesk University as well as in the AUGI booth at AU.

I hope to see many of you at one or more of these upcoming events. Stay tuned for various updates on the latest AutoCAD news as well as stories of my travels. And remember to also check out the latest information about Revit on my Revit-Up blog.