Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The View from the Strip...

Well, we're back and just about caught up from our trip to AU2008 in Las Vegas, and I must say, overall we had a great time! This was my first time at AU as both sponsor and speaker - and it certainly made for a busy event!

The logistics of the conference are a sight to behold; even in an economic downturn, there must have been more than 8,000 delegates in attendance. Simply feeding and watering such a horde of enthusiastic CAD aficianado's was an impressive logistical feat!

The venue itself has to be seen to be believed; we stayed at the Venetian Resort, which is enormous! The walk from our suite ('room' doesn't do it justice!) to the exhibition hall took about 15 minutes! And yes, I did forget my laptop and had to make the trek back at least once! The attention to the interior detail was fascinating, with faux tapestries, ceiling montages, and even a frighteningly realistic blue sky above the shopping mall. It took me a moment to realise that I was still inside the building; and when we sat at the bar for a quick afternoon drink, my wife asked the waiter if we could sit 'outside'! :) I could tell from his wry smile we weren't the first! We then sat over a beer, to be entertained by a mini-opera just yards away!

There were a couple of moments which might have detracted from an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable week. When setting up the booth, a rather over-zealous security guard insisted we have our name badges re-printed because they were missing a label (which meant queueing again for 30 mins). And the Autodesk 'help' committee tried to charge me $25 for a replacement badge when I left it in my wife's handbag (she was shopping, naturally!) - even though I tried to explain we were spending $5k on a booth! Ah well, I guess they were just following the rules.

From a business perspective, I'd say the show was a resounding success. This year, CADsmart was involved in a new format for the AUGI Top Daug competition, which went remarkably smoothly. Over 500 assessments taken over two days, on 32 machines, and just two software crashes - a credit to Ed and Martin on our technical tem, for building such a stable app. The results were posted live to a 'Top 10' scoreboard throughout the event, and the eventual winner was determined by a drafting 'shootout'. Great stuff!

We also launched our new Revit skills assessment, which was tremendously well received. Over 100 companies signed up to trial the software, so we're looking forward to receiving their feedback in the coming days and weeks. We'll be creating an Imperial data set in the next few weeks, for those firms who refuse to work in the real world :) (just kidding!) and will be adding Structure and MEP content in the new year.

Tony & I delivered our class on making the move from AutoCAD to Revit to a full room, and received some good scores on our feedback survey, which is nice to hear.

And so to the gambling; we did have a dabble on the last day, just to be polite! Tony, Mel and I started with a 'pot' of $25 each and here's how we did; Tony - lost it all on a spin of the wheel. Myself - ditto (although I went red 18 and it came up red 19 - so near and yet so far - probably 6 words which sum up the history of Vegas!). Mel - hit the craps table, feigning an innocent ignorance, and walked away with $150, to the amusement of the croupier, who knew a hustler when he saw one! :)

And so, we left Vegas as winners, in more than one sense. Next year's event will be at the Mandalay Bay. Think I'll try my hand at Black Jack...


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