Autodesk University 2012 is only two weeks away!
After attending every Las Vegas based Autodesk University, I have compiled a long list of tips for not only surviving but making the most of Autodesk University which will be held this year at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas November 27-29, 2012
Autodesk University is the premier Autodesk customer event held yearly 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.
Think of this post 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.
- Attend at least one or more of the Innovation Forums to see some of the most thought providing presentations and entertaining debate style cage matches. You won’t regret it, as so many were blown away last year. Think of it as a mini TED conference or Autodesk IDEAS conference.
- Stop in the Creative Studio and Education Lab make something fun as well as see all sort of creations and products and tools.
- 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 Mandalay Bay. Casinos are designed to confuse and get you lost among the gaming floor. The events and classes being hosted in both the Mandalay Bay and its adjoining The Hotel can be equally disorienting to even the best of navigators, be prepared.
Maps: Property map - Mandalay Bay
- Hashtag: When posting photos, blog posts or updates on social media like Twitter or photo sites like Flickr please use the hashtag #AU2012. This way people can follow the event around social media, the web and at places like on Twitter from the web at https://twitter.com/search?q=%23AU2012&src=typd.
- The famous Welcome to Las Vegas Sign is a very short walk from the Mandalay Bay but please watch for traffic as it is dangerous to cross to the median where the sign is located.
- 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 2012 Photo Group Pool http://www.flickr.com/groups/au2012/pool/ for everyone to see. I will be posting my photos to the AU2012 group and my Flickr Photostream.
- 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 Mandalay Bay is the Orchid Lounge. 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 to be alert for the days sessions. There are several coffee shops in the Mandalay Bay even a Starbucks on the way to the main conference center but the line can get long.
- 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.
- 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 Wi-Fi 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 Security Essentials.
- Static Electricity! Be careful and touch a door nob before touching your laptop. A few people including me fried their laptops due to all the static electricity built up on the carpets and the dry air. There is nothing worse than your entire laptop frying the day before your class session you are teaching and having to stay up all night to re-write and redo some content that was edited during AU. I have heard having a dryer sheet or coins in your pocket will help minimize static electricity risks.
- 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 and every year I hear of someone getting something like a laptop swiped even from leaving it in a class room.
- 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.
- Get 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. .
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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 or as the Kung Fu Drafter calls them “porn crickets.”
Last tips for both those attending and those not able to attend.
Sign up for AU Virtual 2012 as the key notes speeches and some classes will be broadcast and it is free all you have to be is a registered member of the AU website.
Make sure to follow me on this blog and Twitter for the latest AU info and photos before, during, and after the event. I will also be live sharing of photos and Socialcam video from behind the scenes and as in past years from the rafter high above the main stage presentation.
My past AU photo galleries to get you excited:
Autodesk University Past Event Photos
I am looking forward to seeing at Autodesk University in only 2 weeks (14 days.)