A Short “Break” . . .

I had really hoped to keep churning out the “Look Back at SolidWorks World” posts, but things got a little bit busy in December.  I’ll get into this more later, but we’ll just say that it was probably my busiest month of the year.

Here is a teaser shot of how I started the month –


And a teaser shot of how I finished the month –


After winding down a little, I have started working on my other posts, and you should see those soon . . . After all, SolidWorks World 2016 is only 3 weeks away, and I wanted to have these done before I head to Dallas!

SolidWorks World 2007 – A Look Back

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

After attending SolidWorks World 2006 in Las Vegas, I knew that I wanted to do it all again the next year.

There was a lot going on in my life leading up to SolidWorks World 2007 . . .

I revived the local User Group, renamed it “SolidWorks User Group of Nebraska” (SwugOne), and held a HUGE meeting with SolidWorks CEO John McEleney as the Keynote Speaker.  I believe there were 78 people at that meeting – a record that held until September 2015.

SolidWorks World 2007 would be the first conference that I could attend as a User Group Leader – This was really exciting for me!

If I remember correctly, this was around the time that SolidWorks started a news feed in the task pane.  I do remember very clearly the day that a note popped up that said Steve Wozniak was going to be one of the guest speakers – I called Richard Doyle and started the conversation with a barely coherent  “Is it true?!”  After clearing up some confusion “Who is this? Is what true? What’s going on?”  Richard confirmed that Wozniak was indeed going to be speaking at SWW07 in New Orleans.

(I’ve pretty much idolized Woz since I was in Junior High, so this was HUGE for me.)

My wife and I finalized our travel plans, and began the countdown.  This would be the first time either of us had been to New Orleans, and we were excited to check it out.

The stars aligned for me once again, and I took a job with the local SolidWorks Reseller (VAR) in January 2007.  In the User Group community this is sometimes known as “crossing over to the dark side” – User Group Leaders are very enthusiastic about SolidWorks, which makes them very good prospects for VAR’s, but it puts a lot of stress on poor Richard. (I think I am still apologizing to him for this career move.)

This was shortly before the conference, so I had to get everything switched over from “Attendee” to “Reseller” so that I was legit and I could attend all of the “Reseller” sessions.  This would also be the first year that I could proudly wear the Yellow Badge emblazoned with “Reseller”

(Not sure why, but this kind of made me feel like a “Rock Star”.)


Leading up to SolidWorks World 2007, there was an online game that you could play to test your knowledge.  The coolest part about this was that a cartoon version of John McEleney was placed over a picture, and I ended up “standing” right next to him! (Yup, that’s me taking a picture in the partner pavilion!)


On to the SolidWorks World 2007!


There was so much that happened that it will be very hard to keep this somewhat brief, but here goes . . .

One of the presenters was a gentleman that was heading up the team that did the work to repair the damage that was done by Hurricane Katrina. (Did I mention that we were there less than 18 months after the storm?)  I think that people were a little bit nervous when the location was announced at SWW06, but it seemed as though everyone was impressed with how much had been done to breathe new life into New Orleans.

There was also some talk about a little company that was using SolidWorks to help design an entirely electric car, you might have heard of them . . . Tesla Motors.

I had recently heard about the new Saw Stop table saws, but I had no idea that they used SolidWorks for the design.  Saw Stop makes an incredible product, and we are lucky enough to have one in our Maker Space at Innovation Studio.

This was around the time that Google started testing Google Labs with some success, so it was only fitting to create “SolidWorks Labs” – You know the Treehouse tool . . . this is where it was “born.”

It was announced that DriveWorks Xpress was now going to be included with EVERY seat of SolidWorks.  (About 9 months after the conference I became a DriveWorks Certified Application Engineer.)

One of the innovative new products designed with SolidWorks was demonstrated – The Moo Bella Ice Cream vending machine – put in your money, make your selection, and in about 45 seconds, you would get a bowl of freshly made ice cream!  (This was available in the partner pavilion, and yes, it was AMAZING!)

On to the highlight of the conference for me . . . Woz!

This was the first time that I was at the doors for the General Session well before they were opened, and then I SPRINTED to the front row seats.  I thought that it was a great presentation, and I hung on every word.  It’s a little funny in retrospect, I remember so many people saying that they couldn’t understand him because he was talking so fast, and didn’t seem to get much out of his presentation.  I heard rumors that Woz thought that he had a certain amount of time, when he actually had a lot less time, but he still tried to fit the entire speech into the abbreviated time.  He was basically telling a lot of the stories that were in his book “iWoz” – The book had just come out, and I had already read it, so I was still able to enjoy the crazy fast presentation.  As soon as the General Session was over, I RAN over to Jeff Ray, and tried to calmly ask him if it would be o.k. if I asked Woz for an autograph – He said yes, just be respectful – so I did . . . Having been a fan of Woz for decades, I obviously had a copy of his book to autograph, but I also had a $2 bill (Just like me, Woz is a fan of the semi-rare and unusual $2 bill – so when I handed it to him and asked him for an autograph, his eyes lit up, he smiled and said “oh, you know about the $2 bills” – Made . . . My . . . Year!)  I have heard so many horror stories about meeting your heroes, and I am so happy to say that this was all that I could have hoped for and more!)

  • Side Note, my wife saw Woz tooling around New Orleans on a Segway while she was out exploring.


I think that there was some other stuff happened . . .

When they were getting ready to announce the new features in SolidWorks 2008, they played a really cool Space Video that spanned all of the versions of SolidWorks and showed when key tools were implemented – it was such a cool piece of animation!

In keeping with the space theme, they turned on a light that resembled a teleporter, and brought in Leonard Nimoy as the Surprise Guest!  I think it is a safe bet that there were a few Star Trek fans in the crowd, and he was met with a HUGE applause.

It was announced that SolidWorks World 2008 would be held in San Diego.

One of the really cool side stories was that the reseller that I just started working for was the top in their territory, so our Territory Sales & Tech Managers took us out to dinner at Brennan’s.  If you are a “foodie” you might know that this is the place that invented bananas foster.  (Yes, it was PHENOMENAL!)  Also on the foodie side of things – Cafe du Monde!  (I would probably be there a couple times a week if I lived in New Orleans!)

Another Amazing Conference!

SolidWorks World 2006 – A Look Back

They often say that there is nothing like the first time.

When it comes to SolidWorks World this was definitely true . . .


Flashback to 2002-2003

I was working for a company that had just purchased SolidWorks.  Having already used several other programs, this was a truly refreshing change, and I never looked back.  I quickly found a User Group in the area, and got involved.  I also found out about this “little” annual event known as “SolidWorks World.”  I asked my boss if the company could send me to SWW2004 – no dice.  The next year I asked if it would be possible to go to SWW2005 – it was not going happen.


Shortly thereafter, I decided that I was just going to have to send myself to SWW2006 . . .


The timing couldn’t have been better – my girlfriend and I had been talking about a vacation.

The location couldn’t have been better – neither of us had ever been to Vegas.

That’s right, SolidWorks World 2006 was going to be in Las Vegas . . . which meant it was also the perfect time to get married!


We immediately started planning, and I signed up as soon as registration opened.  Since I was spending my own money to go to the conference, under “Company Name” I put “Free Agent”


During the time leading up to the conference, I became the VP of the local SolidWorks User Group.  In December of 2005, after giving a presentation at the User Group meeting about how my company uses SolidWorks, I left the company for a new opportunity.  Two weeks later I took and passed the CSWP exam (Yes, the EIGHT hour exam!)


Enough backstory, on to SolidWorks World 2006!


We arrived in Vegas on Saturday so that we could do some sightseeing before the conference began.  I think we went to get our Marriage License around 3 or 4 am on Sunday (Remember, we have been planning this since July/August, so this was definitely not a “whim” – I think someone was just a little anxious.)


We went to the Opening Reception on Sunday night and were blown away by the displays in the partner pavilion.  We ran into a couple people from our User Group talking to Jeff Ray (VP of SolidWorks.)  We told him that it was our first conference, we were super excited to be there, and we asked him if he knew about anyone else from the conference that was getting married while in Vegas.  He said he didn’t know of anyone else that would be exchanging vows, and then proceeded to ask a few questions about our plans.


The next morning in the General Session Jeff congratulated us and announced our upcoming nuptials to 3700+ SolidWorks fanatics.  That day at lunch we went to the top of the Stratosphere, got on the Big Shot, and exchanged vows!



There were so many great things about the conference . . .

First and foremost, getting married!  This will always be the best part of the conference!



The “special guests” were Adam & Jamie from the Mythbusters.

This picture was taken when we got back to the conference center after getting married.


The offsite event was held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Still one of my all-time favorites!


My wife and I were able to take some pictures with John McEleney (SolidWorks CEO)


We met a TON of great people (several of which we still talk to on a regular basis.)

The best part was getting to drag race a pair of Audi TT’s on the drag strip.

(She totally smoked me off the line, but I barely snuck by her at the finish line for a close win.)


The Tuesday morning General Session completely nailed it – on every seat there was a bottle of water and a package of aspirin – hilarious and necessary all at the same time!


On Wednesday morning in the General Session they announced where the next SolidWorks World conference would be held.  You could hear a pin drop in the room when they announced that SWW07 would be held in New Orleans.  (As we were sitting in the room, they were still cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana a mere 5 months earlier.)  They assured us that there was a lot of work being done, and that The Big Easy would be ready for us in one short year.


As is always the case, the week went way too fast, and I learned so much that my head was still spinning for at least a week after I got home.


I went to SolidWorks World 2006 with a girlfriend and came home with a wife . . .



Best . . . Conference . . . Ever!

Coming up – A look back on SolidWorks World

We are now about 70 days away from SolidWorks World 2016 in Dallas, TX.


I thought that this would be a good time to recap some of my favorite experiences from SolidWorks World.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll post updates looking back on past conferences. If all goes well, I should be able to write something about each of the nine conferences that I have been lucky enough to attend. If you have any moments that were special or memorable, please share them in the comments.

Too many irons in the fire . . .

I jumped on to the blog the other day, and noticed that I have not made an update since January of 2013!  This was more than a little bit disheartening, as my plan was to make regular updates.  It is time to try to make that change.

So, what’s been keeping me so busy for nearly two years?

Probably the same things that keep everyone busy – work, family, hobbies, and so on.

Earlier this year I was appointed to handle the SWUGN Representative duties for the Southern Region – http://blogs.solidworks.com/swcommunity/2014/05/catching-up-on-swugn-news.html

This has given me the opportunity to help start new user groups, resurrect old ones, and most of all, getting to visit the different groups in my region!

I plan on making posts about my visits to some of the other User Groups, some of the people that I have met, and all of the great things that I learn in the process.

One of the things that I have noticed is that my blog posts tend to be a little bit on the long side, so I am going to have shorter posts, but do it more often – I’m hoping that this “idea” will help . . .

SolidWorks World – Day 0 – Part 2

Was not able to start the update last nifty (due to having a little too much fun at the opening reception – really, really tired from all the standing and walking.). I started writing the blog entry really early this morning, but wasn’t able to finish before heading out for General Session this morning. Decided to take a few minutes between sessions/during a session to do a quick write up.
So . . . What happened on Day 0?
I passed on the CAD managers boot camp (again), I’m no longer able to attend the AE Workshop, and I didn’t get in on any of the discussion sessions, so Jade and I did some wandering around. We started out by getting registered, scouting out some restaurants, speaker check-in, and exploring some of the area resorts. We came back for the opening reception – I helped run the SWUGN booth while Jade acted as a “tour guide” for some friends that are here for the first time. Met a lot of really great people, and saw a bunch of old friends that we only get to see at World. Went straight from the opening reception to the tweet-up, didn’t get to see everyone that we wanted to, because several of our friends were elsewhere watching the football game. (They can run, but they can’t hide – we’ll find them!)
Long day, lot of fun, lot of friends, the learning starts tomorrow . . .

SolidWorks World 2013 – Day 0 – Part 1

There isn’t a whole lot to say about Sunday yet, because it’s still “what are you doing awake at this hour” o’clock.
SolidWorks World is really beginning to feel a lot like “old home week” or a “friend reunion.”
Jade and I actually arrived yesterday so that we could do some exploring and be here for registration first thing this morning. One of the best things about getting to World on Saturday is getting to see a lot of the “regulars.” This year we were kicking back having dinner outside a restaurant (isn’t Orlando great in January?) and we were able to greet several others on their way to the ESPN sportszone for a casual gathering. (I hadn’t been paying too much attention to twitter yet, so I didn’t know about the gathering until we saw Charles (Culp) headed that direction.) I told him that we would head over when we were done eating. By the time we finished our meal, we had seen Puckett, Herzberg, Sabatka, and many more. When we got to the Sportszone, the line was out the door and it was PACKED. We were told to take life into our own hands and line jump because there were still spots open at the table. Rather than risking an uprising, a decision was made to head back to the hotel for some much needed rest & relaxation. I’m sure that everyone had a lot of fun at ESPN, and I’ll probably regret not going, but after getting up at 3:30am to catch our flight here, I was really tired.

Remembering Wayne Tiffany

It has been quite a while since my last post, and I really wish that this one was full of boring SolidWorks tips and tricks.

This morning I found out that Wayne Tiffany had passed away during the weekend after a fight with cancer. Those of you who are active in the SolidWorks community should already know Wayne, as he made it a point to meet as many people as possible every year at SolidWorks World. Wayne would often hang out in the registration area with Richard Doyle and help welcome attendees to the event (which is why he was usually one of the first people that I would see upon arrival.) Wayne not only loved SolidWorks, but he loved to share ideas, tips, and tricks. His enthusiasm for the SolidWorks Community was completely unparalleled. Wayne played a HUGE role in helping me get the SolidWorks User Group of Nebraska (SwugOne) up and running. It was not unusual for him to travel hundreds of miles to give a presentation for one of the User Groups in his region. His sessions at SolidWorks World were almost always “standing room only” – he was also well known for giving a quick, impromptu presentation in the hallway if you weren’t able to make it to the scheduled session.

Farewell old friend, you will truly be missed.
– Todd

Alive Day

So, what exactly is “Alive Day”?
This is the commemoration of an event could have easily ended your life, but it didn’t.
(My sister-in-law calls it “Beat the Grim Reaper Day” – Hers is February 17th.)
My “Alive Day” is February 28th. On that day last year I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I was driving home from work, I had just dropped off the guys in my carpool, and before I left the parking lot I called my wife and left her a message that I should be home in about 15 minutes.
I started driving home, and the last thing that I remember was getting into the turn lane at a major intersection. The next thing I know, I was waking up with several doctors and nurses around me in the intensive care unit, and one of them was telling me that I was involved in an automobile accident. From the accident report I found out that I was in the turn lane waiting for the light to change, when someone turned across traffic, hit an oncoming car, which was then deflected into my car. I saw nothing, and the impact caused my head to hit the door frame, which immediately knocked me out. After I saw what had happened to the car, I was not only surprised to be alive, but to still have the ability to walk. I spent 2 days in ICU, and another 2 days in a regular room in the hospital. I had three broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and the blow to the head that knocked me out left a scar and a damaged optic nerve which caused severe double vision. Most of these healed within a reasonable amount of time, the vision is still on the mend. My vision has improved significantly, however I still have a prism lens in my glasses to help “align” what I am seeing, and I can pretty much count on at least two really good headaches a day.
The most important thing is that I am still ALIVE!
The fact that I am still here is amazing, especially when you consider that they pulled me out of this –

Damage to my car from the Accident

I happen to share “Alive Day” with a good friend of mine named Jeff. His “event” was about 5 years ago when he was serving our country in Iraq. The Humvee that he was traveling in hit a roadside bomb –

Roadside Bomb

Everyone in the Humvee was o.k. and they were actually driving it again within a month or so thanks to the amazing Army mechanics.

It shouldn’t take a life-threatening event to give you the desire to live each day to the fullest.
(That should fall in the capable hands of family and good friends.)

Now, go do something amazing – because you are still ALIVE!

Farewell 2011, Hello 2012

There has been a lot happening this year, this includes a lot of ups and downs. I’m not a big fan of making resolutions, but this year I would definitely like to increase the frequency of posts. The last post was a teaser about an upcoming post about some of the features in the Toolbox – this will still happen, hopefully soon. Until then, have a safe and happy new year!