SolidWorks World 2011 – Sunday

Sunday was relatively open for us to spend some more time exploring San Antonio – nothing on “the schedule” until the early evening Opening Reception at the Partner Pavilion.  I wasn’t signed up for any of the certification testing, I was not participating in the alpha testing, and for the first time in several years I was not attending the AE Workshops (These are for the Application Engineers that work for SolidWorks resellers.)  My only immediate plan was to hit registration first thing in the morning (word to the wise, get it out of the way as early as possible to avoid waiting in lines.)

As predicted, registration was a breeze, no lines whatsoever.  I picked up all of my “goodies”, and I dig the backpack – quite compact, yet it holds a ton of stuff.  I had a chance to chat with Richard Doyle (User Group Head Honcho) for a little bit.  It is always great to see Richard – I worked with him a lot when I was starting the SolidWorks User Group of Nebraska (SwugONE) – He is definitely one of the people that helps bring the SolidWorks Community closer together and feel more like a big family.  (Richard was also one of the first recipients of my “business card/keychain/bottle openers” – If you got one, you know what I’m talking about, if not, look for me at SolidWorks World 2012 – I’ll have a new variation.)  Wayne Tiffany was also milling about the registration area, always good to see him and catch up on all things SolidWorks.  (Wayne is a User Group leader from KC, and a perennial SolidWorks World presenter.)

After wandering around all day, it was time to go to the Opening Reception.  The Partner Pavilion was jam packed with vendors, attendees, and all kinds of cool products that were designed in SolidWorks.  The opening reception is a great time to mingle, chat up the various vendors, and see all of the new technology.  I left the opening reception a little early to head off to the tweetup.

This year the tweetup was held in conjunction with a User Group leader gathering, so there were a lot of familiar faces.  It was nice to finally meet some of the people behind the tweets.  It might be because I’m watching the Oscars, but I feel the need to name just a handful of them;  Josh Mings (SolidSmack) – Had to chase him down for some of the sweet new SolidSmack stickers, Lou Gallo (SolidWorks Heard) and Jeff Mirisola – was “stuck” between these two at a DriveWorks certification event years ago, always good to see these guys, Ed Gebo – user group leader and all around cool guy, Charles Culp – actually grew up very close to where I now live (it is indeed a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it), Anna Wood (SolidMuse) – benchmarking guru and Red Wings fan, Phil Sluder – King of the Tips & Tricks presentations, Scott Baugh – It was very interesting talking to another person that used to work for a reseller and is now back on the user side of the fence,  and Matthew West (SolidWorks) – we have him to thank for putting together the tweetup, he did an awesome job – here’s hoping for many more!

After a crazy long day it was time to catch a few hours of sleep before the first General Session of SWW11.

SolidWorks World 2011 – Saturday

Time to tell the tale of SolidWorks World 2011.

I thought that it would be a good idea to break this up into small chunks over the next couple of days, so I will start with our arrival in San Antonio on Saturday . . .

My wife and I thought it would be fun to go to San Antonio early and explore the city, and I am so glad we did.  San Antonio is a beautiful city with really nice people (our cab driver Ray was incredibly welcoming and full of trivia.)  We checked into our hotel, dropped off our bags, and hit the riverwalk to find some of our friends that also flew in early.  On the way to meet up with them, we ran into several attendees and a couple of the Territory Technical Managers from SolidWorks that I used to work with during my time as an Application Engineer.  I was surprised by the number of people that were arriving on Saturday – there are a few sessions and certification testing on Sunday, but the conference itself doesn’t “officially” kick off until the opening reception Sunday night.  I hope to see more of this in the future – do yourself a favor and spend a day wandering around the host city before diving into the conference.  I think that we are going to start staying another night after the conference to unwind and hang out with new friends.  This tip was shared with us on Tuesday when Phil Sluder was paying tribute to Michelle Pillers (more on this in an upcoming post.)

I knew that this year would be a lot of fun, because there were 3 people from our local user group (SwugONE) that were attending for the first time.  There is nothing quite like your first trip to SolidWorks World, and it was exciting to be able to share this experience with them.  We spent most of the day hanging out, wandering up and down the riverwalk, visiting the Tower of the Americas, and enjoying Tex-Mex.  Plans were made for Sunday’s activities, and then we finally called it a day.

I was fortunate enough to win my conference pass in an early bird contest through the SolidWorks blogs.  I was extremely stoked about this – I wasn’t able to go to World last year, and this year wasn’t looking very promising.  Having been to SolidWorks World in the past, I can honestly say that it is really a drag when you aren’t able to attend. (Following the proceedings via twitter just isn’t the same as being there.)

3, 2, 1 . . . Launch

Welcome to the official launch –

I have been dragging out the launch for far too long.  I wanted to have everything finished and perfect, but then I decided that it would be best to allow it to evolve over time.  There will be empty links, blank pages, and incomplete areas for awhile.  There will be changes and makeovers while I find what works and what doesn’t.  I thought that I would start with some posts and start to fill in some of the other information as I go.  Soon it will be expanded to have tips, tricks, tutorials and so much more.

My original intention was to have the website up and running in time for SolidWorks World 2011 (which it was, thanks to a ton of help from my friend M.O.)  I thought that it would be fun to blog about the events of SolidWorks World while I was there, but then I decided to just take it all in and do the writing later.  It has now been a month since we were headed to San Antonio, and now I am ready to start writing about the adventure.  Stay tuned . . .