Autodesk University is the premier Autodesk customer event held yearly (AU History) where several thousand creative design and visualization experts descend on Las Vegas. They arrive wide eyed, craving knowledge from the best in the industry, and many seeking refuge from the seemingly endless Thanksgiving holiday turkey leftovers. They leave tired and full of valuable knowledge to make them more productive back at work.
I know I could have broken this into four posts but wanted to provide the entire wealth of tips in one place for you to select from. Think of it as a Las Vegas style food buffet of Autodesk University tips.
Event & Networking
- AU Dress Code: Dress business casual and comfortable. Remember this is a professional event where your peers and people you want to network with are at. This is not the place to wear shorts and that “I am a Chick Magnet” tee shirt.
- Business Cards: Bring plenty of business cards to hand out to the people you may meet and want to follow up with.
- Exchange info fast! Consider using the mobile app Bump to exchange contact info with others.
- Brain: Be ready for some of the best training and discussions anywhere. Also be ready for brain overload. Hopefully you do not get symptoms of PowerPoint overload Syndrome PPOS.
- Where am I? You should know how to get around the confusing maze of the Venetian. Casinos are designed to confuse and get you lost among the gaming floor. The mingling of the Palazzo and Venetian canals and shops can be equally disorienting to even the best of navigators, be prepared.
Venetian JPG | PDF
Venetian Complex JPG | PDF
- Hashtag: When posting photos, blog posts or updates on social media like Twitter or photo sites like Flickr please use the hashtag #AU2011. This way people can follow the event around the web and at places like http://hashtags.org/AU2011.
- Shutterbugs: Make sure to have a camera handy to capture the fun of AU and Vegas but also be aware there are some places you are not allowed to take photos such as the casino floor and some special AU events. A smaller camera or the phone camera is easier to carry around than 20 pounds of DSLR camera gear. Share your photos online using the free Flickr. You can post your photos to the AU 2011 Photo Group Pool http://www.flickr.com/groups/au2011/pool/ for everyone to see. I will be posting my phoptos to the group and my Flickr Photostream. As mentioned in tip 7, make sure to tag your photos #AU2011.
- Feedback: Make sure to complete the surveys at the end of the event to provide feedback to the speakers. You usually get a goodie like a cool tee shirt in return for completing the quick and painless survey.
- Meetups: A great place for meeting others after hours in the Venetian is the La Scena Lounge <http://www.venetian.com/Las-Vegas-Nightlife/Lounges/LaScena/>. Its also a great place to see people you know relax and loosen up, sometimes loosen up a bit too much.
- Share: Take back the knowledge you gained at AU to your office and coworkers.
Comfort & Health
- Hydrate: Drink lots of water. You will lose water faster than a fly in a microwave. Soda, coffee, and beer do not hydrate you.
- Caffeinate: If you stay out late make sure to grab a coffee. There are several coffee shops in the Venetian as well as a Starbucks right across the road.
- Don’t get Lizard Lips: Your lips by the second day will look like something off of a lizard, so keep them lubed up to fend off the dry desert air.
- Dragon Breath? You do not want to walk around and talk to your peers with breath that smells like a mixture of coffee, garlic, and road kill. Take some mints, gum or better yet you can purchase the Smartmouth product rinse or packets at Wal-Mart and it works magic for hours.
- Shoes: Wear comfortable shoes as the walking distances between rooms and the event can add up and you will feel it at the end of the day. I guesstimate I walk about 2-4 miles a day at AU.
- NomNom: Have some spare snacks for when you get hungry, perhaps granola bar or something to tie you over as your brain is running full power during AU sessions.
- Bad Air: Due to the dry air and constant smoke in the casinos, make sure to bring some eye drops and perhaps a nasal spray.
- Sleep: I am not sure if it is all the stimulation of the sights and sounds or if there is different oxygen levels but it is pretty hard to get to sleep at night.
- Wireless Security: Make sure if using the public wireless connection to have a firewall enabled to prevent someone from messing with your machine or gathering data.
- Antivirus: Make sure if you use a public wireless connection at AU this year to make sure you have updated antivirus enabled. Using any public WiFi connection can be risky and can easily allow infection of your machine if not protected. You can even use a free antivirus program like AVG or Microsoft.
- Watch Your Valuables: Keep an eye on your laptop and valuables. Like any place with thousands of geeks and cool electronics in one location, the crooks will be around in sheep's clothing.
- Keep Notes: Use an app like Evernote on your mobile or tablet to jot down notes during a session or those follow up questions for the speaker.
- Got Handouts: Download the course handouts and materials before AU and keep them on a mobile or tablet device for easy reference.
- Where Should I Be? Keep your schedule on a Mobile or tablet device for easy reference. The official AU Mobile App should launch the week of 11/14/11.
- Can you hear me now? You may not always be able to get a cell phone signal or Internet. Be prepared and don't panic. Take a deep breath and enjoy the lack of it. When you want to get back on the grid and Internet tubes, simply move to another area where there is coverage. Texts may be delayed at times due to the large amount of people texting so do not expect your friend to get your text immediately. Your “help I am being eaten by zombies” text may go undelivered for critical minutes.
- Gadget cables, cords and power supplies. You may run out of juice while at AU so carry some of the most needed power cords and chargers with you.
- Portable storage: Bring a USB key to exchange files quickly.
- QR Codes: Have a QR Code <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code> reader on your smartphone. There will be many QR codes at AU <http://au.autodesk.com/>. I will be using them in my presentations so people can capture an URL fast with a smartphone instead of needing to write it down. Another idea is to wear a QR Code on your shirt so people can grab your contact info blog url or twitter handle easily. I created a personal QR code landing page with all of my info.
- Cold in Hot Vegas: Do not be fooled by the palm trees along the streets and casinos, this desert oasis is only warm-hot 75% of the year. In winter it can be downright cold, and has even snowed. Bring a jacket and do not expect to dress in beach clothes if walking outside.
- Beware of a Lost Night: For superman it is kryptonite, for me it is the Rum Jungle at the Mandalay Bay and Studio 54 at the MGM. Be careful as even a simple walk into a club can be a challenge to get out.
- Lay of the Land:
Google Map of Las Vegas http://g.co/maps/bauc8
3D Nokia map of the Las Vegas Strip
Vegas Casino Maps: http://www.vegascasinoinfo.com/casino-property-maps.php
Strip and Downtown
JPG | PDF
- After Hours Dress Code: Make sure that if you plan on attending some events or venturing out to the clubs that you do not wear tennis shoes or a tee-shirt. Most clubs and finer restaurants enforce a dress code and normally do not permit sneakers or tee-shirt wearing guests.
- Vegas is the exception, not the rule: For those visiting the United States for the first time - it is important to understand Las Vegas is not a representation of the rest of the country.
- Blue Men and Drums: Great entertainment abounds in Las Vegas. There are so many things to see and do in Las Vegas but one I strongly recommend is the Blue Man Group located in the Venetian. It is an absolutely great show and I am not just saying that due to me being on stage with them a few years back during AU.
- Sin City:You do not have to drink, gamble or smoke in Las Vegas to have a good time after AU hours.
- Slap Slap: Ignore those card slapping people on the Las Vegas strip.
One last tip for both those attending and those not able to attend.
Sign up for AU Virtual
Make sure to follow me on this blog and Twitter for the latest AU info and photos before, during, and after the event.
My past AU photo galleries to get you excited:
Autodesk University Past Event Photos