February 11, 2006

Back to Orlando?

The trek to Autodesk University 2005It’s more than bizarre that only a couple of months after making the 28,000km return journey to Orlando for AU 2005 I’m about to do it again.

Advanced Visual Technology are a U.K. based company and their first ever user conference is at Disney Resort – The Yacht Club. It’s on Crescent Lake, near Disney's BoardWalk, and just a few minutes walk from the AU 2005 Venue!

It’s a small world after all.

January 29, 2006

Artistic CAD? - Meet Vespa

Vespa Scooter

At Autodesk University there was a lot of talk about “Vespa” but it didn’t refer to cute little Italian scooters (right).

What is Vespa? An “application concept” being previewed at AU. This is not a product, or even a beta, and the presentation was subject to a disclaimer* that you may never see any of it in a release product….

So what does Vespa do? The idea is to take precise, too precise, 2d output from CAD applications as an AutoCAD Drawing (.dwg) or Design Web Format (.dwf) export and transform it into an artistic sketch/illustration.

I can do that now with illustration/photo software? You can import CAD vector data into programs like Photoshop or CorelDraw/Paint and use their tools with the CAD file as background. I often do this for building elevations and it’s why I was interested. The difference is Vespa “knows” CAD.

VespaStart“Vespa knows CAD”, what does that mean?  It does not treat the CAD import as simple geometry. It applies artistic styling to lines, fills and objects in dwg/dwf files based on the CAD objects (lines, blocks, regions etc) and layer definitions.

How do you use Vespa with the CAD file? These screen captures from the AU Presentation Video show a 2D CAD export being opened in Vespa. The Style Palette (top left) has object styles which are applied to layers in the Layer Palette (top right) or directly to objects in the file.

VespaMidLine effects and fills are applied based on objects, layers and/or closed boundaries. Blocks can be replaced by objects containing an image or image collections. For example a single tree block can be replaced by a “artistic tree” or “artistic tree collection”. The variations within a collection could be applied randomly, simulating a human factor, or selected for each block insert.

These object associations are retained and all the Vespa objects are “Styles” with definitions that can be shared easily. You could create personal styles to match your hand drawing techniques, even scan hand drawn content to incorporate in Vespa styles.

The final image, below, shows shadows added to achieve a finished elevation suitable for a proposal. It’s fairly simple but took literally a few minutes to do.

VespaFinThat’s all wonderful, what happens when the CAD file changes? This the big difference between Vespa and paint/illustration software.

Vespa styles can be shared between files and users.  Once established a style template can be applied to other CAD files, other elevations/details in the project, in seconds. If the design changes just apply the style template to new cad exports.

This also allows multiple users using the same style template to achieve consistent results and maintain project or company standards.

Will Vespa help with concept design? At the time, I lamented the demise of Architectural Studio as it was the only tool in the Autodesk product line that even attempted to address the conceptual stage of the design process (for architecture anyway). 

There is a real need for tools to bridge the barrier between CAD and concept sketch/illustration. Photo-real or shade renders from 3D models are wonderful but the precision can be a barrier to communication. Often the client gets the impression the design is “finished” long before it actually is. The downside of hand/image based illustrations is they are slow to produce, individual and not associated to the CAD design. Maybe Vespa, whatever it becomes, will scoot into the void between hand Illustration & CAD Rendering.

I could use it, could you?

 * The Vespa presentation was not subject to non-disclosure but began with this disclaimer; “Autodesk makes no promise that anything you’re going to see will ever appear in an Autodesk product.  We will not comment on, indicate or otherwise hint as to when any of the things seen or discussed might or might not appear in the marketplace.  We also will not comment about potential pricing of anything you’re going to see.”

AU Review at "Point of Beginning"

Point of Beginning review the Autodesk University 2005 event.

AU at 13: Realizing Ideas - Point of Beginning.

Via CADwire.net

January 05, 2006

So DWF doesn't just mean Disney World Fun?

If you weren’t aware of Design Web Format (DWF) before Autodesk University 2005 by the time it finished you knew it didn’t just mean Disney World Fun.

From the “Connect the Dots” banners in the promenade linking the Dolphin/Swan to the giant “Dots” floating in the lagoon it was apparent that DWF was big at AU 2005. If that wasn’t enough there was always the risk of being mugged by a DWF, invariably when Shaan Hurley had his camera pointed at you… (he got me, but I got him)

DWF branding for AU  A lagoon full of DWF dots 
 Me, stalked by a DWF  Shaan (Mr Beta) Hurley gets DWF'ed
 
This wasn’t just another marketing push for DWF’s traditional role as electronic paper – view, print & mark-up revisions. From the Main-stage Presentation it was plain that DWF is being positioned as an “application neutral data sharing format”. All the Autodesk applications can publish to DWF, others with DWF Writer “Printer”, and anyone who can install the free DWF Viewer can view them. 
 
DWF’s contain true 2D or 3D geometry and object data which allows the model/properties seen in the native CAD application to be shared. The precision level, and what extended data is included, is controlled by the publisher when they output the DWF file. 
 
Expect to see increased use of DWF, maybe even applications based on DWF allowing Quantity Survey/Estimation, Facilities Management and Illustration in the future.

January 02, 2006

AUGI AGM & the AUGI Beer Bust

AUGI's new lookThe AutoCAD User Group International (AUGI) AGM was held in the huge main presentation room at the Dolphin. It was well attended (more than 1500) and there were some important announcements for all members and, maybe, your local user group.

Continue reading "AUGI AGM & the AUGI Beer Bust" »

January 01, 2006

Visiting Mindjet (MindManager)

Stunning Day in the BayAs mentioned previously I took the chance to correct an omission from my last trip to San Francisco and called in to see the Mindjet (MindManager) team.

As we approached San Francisco (from Orlando) I was listening to the Pilot Communication Channel on the aircraft. I was surprised United let you do that post 9/11 but it was one of the entertainment channels. As we were cleared to land the pilot got the usual call with approach details, runway assignment and std question “Do you have the airport in sight?”. His response was rather unusual; “Yes, we have the runway, I can see my car in the parking lot ready for a perfect weekend” which got a laugh from the controller.

Golden Gate over a silver seaAfter a quick trip to the city in the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit – light rail) I jumped on the Larkspur Ferry. As the pilot's response indicated it was a stunning day and the harbour was sparkling. As we passed Alcatraz and Angel Island, with the view extending beyond Golden Gate Bridge, I thought I’ve never seen San Francisco with it’s infamous fog!

The Mindjet Office is only a short walk from Larkspur Ferry Landing beside a rather large brick chimney – remains of a former brick-works. I first met Michael Scherotter (Business Solutions Architect). It was great to see, in person, someone I’ve known “virtually” for a couple of years. Michael has a background in Architecture/CAD Software but his Mindjet role involves researching/prototyping potential business applications for MindManager.

You can find his work at the experimental Mindjet Labs site including the second generation of the Design Web Format (DWF) Smart Map Part that initiated our email conversation. I hope some of the DWF based development mentioned at Autodesk University will increase the potential user base for MindManager in the CAD field. Combining project and CAD Data (DWF format) in maps is a powerful way to track and share complex project information.

Larkspur, home of Mindjet - MindManagerMichael introduced me to Michael Jetter (Co-Founder & CTO) – who I’ll call Mike in this post to save confusion – & Scott Quinn (Senior Product Manager). They asked how I used MindManager and listened, very patiently, to me rant on for ages. While I was showing them my maps, jumping all over the place the way you can’t in PowerPoint, Mike showed me how F3 (focus topic) saves a lot of zooming/manipulation even if not using the map in presentation mode. I used that tip at home as transcribed my AU notes (done as hand drawn maps because I still don’t have a Tablet PC…) to MindManager and presented them at a briefing.

I must admit I went to say hello, maybe learn a little more about MindManager, but was not expecting to demo how I use it to the guy who created it! I hope they learnt something from the raving Kiwi MindManager fan!

Mindjet - MindManager Larkspur OfficeIt was great to meet Mike as I had heard him on several Podcasts and knew a little about the unique circumstances that lead him to create MindManager from a Business Week article.

On returning home I ordered The Cancer Code, a book which details how Mike, Bettina & their team built Mindjet/MindManager into the business it is today. It arrived just before Christmas and I read it over the past couple of days.

It’s recommended reading; MindManager is remarkable software and is the result of a remarkable personal journey.

If you haven’t done so already; Try the software, buy the book.

http://www.mindjet.com

Mindjet MindManager 6 Podcast with Mike Jetter - via blog.mindjet.com

The Cancer Code – by Mike and Bettina Jetter with Hobart Swan
How a journey through leukemia led to software that changed the way how people work.

December 30, 2005

Surviving Geek Dinners - A guide for non-geeks

To be a non-geek at geek dinner must make for a long evening.  Maryam offers some advice to ease the pain. The all geek dinner is fairly rare for me, apart from Autodesk University, but being a geek can earn dinner invitations. My usual response:

“Dinner would be great, so what is wrong with your computer…”

Maryamie: The non-geeks survival guide for geek dinners.

2005 Blogging Highlights

Seems like the time of year to do a Blog related review of the year so here goes…

Continue reading "2005 Blogging Highlights" »

December 18, 2005

Autodesk University Main Stage Presentation download available

Scott Sheppard has posted video of the Autodesk University Main stage presentation.

This was a tour through the Autodesk Product line-up and preview of possible future technologies, that may or may not become real products. It shows a fictional company - Global Bubble - establishing a new office and manufacturing plant in Wellington, New Zealand. It was strange sitting in Orlando watching NZ being featured!

It’s a big (147 MB), or huge (465 MB), video file to down-load but well worth seeing. Also available (as separate 13, 65 or 96 MB down-load depending on format) is a tour of the completed building.

If you want to view it as presented at AU you’ll need a 20 x 80 ft screen, but it still looks great on a desktop monitor  

Autodesk – Discussion Groups – DWF – Autodesk University Main Stage presentation.

Running order of the main-stage presentation:

  • Start Time – Product/Concept – Process Shown
  • 00:00 – READ THE DISCLAIMER
  • 00:20 – Carl Bass Introduction
    • 02:00 – Vision of connected model based design
    • 07:00 – Technology to enable model based design
    • 09:00 – Connection enables…
  • 11:00 – Introducing “Global Bubble” & “Helios” – The fictional company/product used in the presentation
  • 14:00 – Jonathan Knowles Introduction
    • 15:00 – Product-stream & Inventor – Change order for equipment & functional design of new part
    • 20:00 – Map-server Enterprise – Find a site (in Wellington) – Combination of multiple data sources served in web based application & DWF publish.
    • 22:00 – AutoCAD – Concept Plan – DWF Underlay, Solids Editing, Display Themes
    • 25:00 – Revit Building – Parametric Building Information Model – Add a floor to “completed” building model
    • 29:00 – New PC Technology…
    • 30:00 – Civil 3D – Object Model & 3d DWF – Site Drainage Model
    • 33:00 – Vespa Concept” – CAD based Presentation Images
    • 35:00 – “AU Demo Viewer Concept” – Hyper-performance Model Viewer – View all the project models in one viewer at once
    • 40:00 – “Takeoff Concept” – DWF based estimation
    • 43:00 – DWF Composer on Tablet PC – Site workers use wireless connection to query CAD model for assembly, then mark-up parts order.
    • 49:00 – Toxic – Video composition and editing
  • 50:00 – “Global Bubble” & “Helios” Presentation Video
  • 52:00 – Wrap up
  • 54:57 – End

December 17, 2005

TypePad problems knock out my AU Photo Gallery

TypePad are having server problems again. Just after I finished posting, naming, commenting all my Autodesk University Travel Photos they disappeared. Hopefully they will return as the servers are restored & blogs republished today…

December 16, 2005

Autodesk University 2005 photos

My Autodesk University Trip photos are online including post AU Disney, Space Centre & San Francisco images.

Travel Photos 2005 (Autodesk University Trip).

Au2005KiwiFly (WinCE)

December 12, 2005

Home again, lots to catch up with...

Things have been a bit quiet here as I’ve just finished two weeks of “unwired” travel and have some catching up to do. It was nice to have a no computer break but there is much to write about regarding Autodesk University 2005, Orlando and the other visits I made on my travels. It was a great trip but it’s also nice to be home!

Although LotsofreadingI didn’t take a computer I used Type-Pad's “delayed posting” to get some AU content on-line during the conference. I prepared daily posts with my schedule then just added “live comments” when the Autodesk provided pool email machines were quiet. That was rare which is why the comments were brief!

Other than that I had a holiday from Blog authoring, management and reading. If you commented while I was away I’ve just approved all the backlog, sorry they took so long to appear.

I also have a few thousand RSS feed posts in my feed-list to review!

There were some major developments in the world of blogging software while I was away. New versions of two tools I use to read  and create content:

I’ve just installed both and will report on what I find, when I find it!

I’ll also get AU related content on-line in the next few days as I have a chance to review the last few weeks. AU 2005 was an amazing event!

Next year AU 2006 is back in Vegas and I’d recommend planning to be there. November 2006 is not that far away!

December 09, 2005

All aboard the Larkspur Ferry - Meeting the MindManager Team

I have a couple of days in San Francisco on the way home. A chance to catch up with a cycling friend and squeeze in one last software related visit! It seems like a strange way to schedule a holiday but it’s just another one of those small world stories…

Unlike last year, I won’t have time to visit Autodesk but will retrace part of that journey to meet with the team at Mindjet, who make MindManager. I was close last time as going to Autodesk meant taking the ferry from downtown S.F. to Larkspur. What I didn’t realise, until I returned home, that Mindjet’s offices are right by the Larkspur Ferry Terminal!

It will be a great chance to meet Michael Scherotter who created the MindManager AEC DWF plug-in, among other things, and the rest of the Mindjet team.

December 02, 2005

After AU - ActiveWords?

I have some time in Orlando after AU. A chance to do… well, whatever you do in Orlando.

I actually have another software related “event” planned. A few months ago I didn’t know anyone in Orlando and didn’t know I’d be going there…

Aw_logo-smIn one of those small world coincidences I connected with Buzz Bruggeman & Peter Weldon of ActiveWords earlier this year after discovering their product and blogging about my experiences with it.

Knowing Buzz isn’t that remarkable as he seems to be everywhere and know everyone!

It is remarkable that ActiveWords are based in Orlando and I will soon be able to meet both Buzz & Peter in person!

I learnt of ActiveWords via Hobie of Mindjet (MindManager). There is another small world story there…

December 01, 2005

Autodesk University 2005 ~ Day 4 Schedule

  • CAD Management Issues from A to Z ~ 8:00am to 11:30am

Today it wrapped up with a neat session on CAD Managment. A bit different as got to work in groups to share issues, strategy which was a great way to meet more people. A bonus was winning the Kona coffee - thanks Yoshi.

Now its off to check out some theme parks and whatever...

November 30, 2005

Autodesk University 2005 ~ Day 3 Schedule

  • Getting along: Coordinating architectural and structural design with Revit Structure ~  8:00am to 9:30am
  • Looking into the Crystal Ball of Drawing Management ~ 10:00am to 11:30am
  • Leveraging BIM Downstream: Real-World Examples of Using BIM Data Throughout the Project ~ 1:00pm to 2:30pm
  • Materially Speaking: Autodesk® Architectural Desktop and VIZ Render ~   3:00pm to 4:30pm
  • Take Your (Revit) Family to the Next Level ~  5:00pm to 6:30pm

Early start after a late night; the BSD breakfast at 07:00 was the first time I've had breakfast since being here!

Today was a mixture of Revit, Vault (wow that's cool), something new (I can't talk about) and then a bit more Revit.

The morning session covered how Revit Structure can work alongside AutoCAD, ADT/ABS and Revit Building and the results and limitations of import/export between them. Have a much better understanding which will be useful as we trade content with RB/RS consultants.

Lynn Allen did a demo of Vault, design content management, which was very impressive. Currently its a manufacturing tool (AutoCAD, Inventor) but would be very useful in our office as manages archiving and publishing of versions as designs change...

I gave Lynn an All Black Kiwi Santa Xmas decoration which seemed to be appreciated.

Finished with a Revit Family session (how to create/structure Revit Family content) in which David Conant showed some very relevant techniques for someone with lots of fittings to model. It was good to see him here after missing his very brief visit to NZ last month.

Tonight is the big bash at Disney MGM Studio Theme Park. They chuck out the public early, so we have sole use of most the rides. Lynn Allen said they won't be operating the childrens "Little Mermaid" ride but nobody seemed too upset. Other than that MGM is all AU tonite and the boat is leaving, which is why this post ends here.

November 29, 2005

Autodesk University 2005 ~ Day 2 Schedule

  • CAD Manager's Notebook 2005 ~   8:00am to 11:30am
  • General Session/Keynote Presentations ~ 1:00pm to 3:00pm
  • Industry Sessions ~  3:30pm to 4:30pm
  • Between the Lines: Autodesk Beta, Feedback, AutoCAD®, DWF™…and More ~  5:00pm to 6:30pm (Host: Shaan Hurley Between The Lines ~ AutoCAD Blog)

Well, today began with Roberts CAD Manager Session, great to take a class with someone whose articles are a must read. Then it was what I call the Corporate PR Sessions. Not really fair as they showed a bunch of stuff that was extremely relevant to what we do. I'd love to get a video as the feature was based on a imaginary company setting up a new Head office and Manufacturing plant in located on the waterfront in....

Wellington, New Zealand!

The technology shown is not all available now, but on the way, so cant really say any more...

Maybe DWF will connect the dots...

The keynote speaker was from Disney Imagineering, very topical, so now have some appreciation of the technology that goes into making the 27,000 acres of theme park I'm in the middle of and the others around the world. They just opened one in Hong Kong and he showed a little of the massive work done just to create the land its built on. Two years of reclamation relocating sea bed to seashore!

Then it was on to Shaans Feedback session where I met several other testers I had not already seen. Now its the AUGI International Meeting and relocated Industry Party. It was outside but now in a tent, no not because of a hurricane, just some rain. Its not always sunny in Florida!

November 28, 2005

Autodesk University 2005 ~ Day 1 Schedule

  • Autodesk® Revit® Tips and Lessons for CAD Managers ~ 8:00am to 9:30am
  • The World's Greatest Training Secrets Revealed! ~ 1:00pm to 2:30pm
  • Complete Display Control in Autodesk® Architectural Desktop ~ 10:00am to 11:30am
  • Autodesk® Architectural Desktop Stairs and Railings - Explained ~ 3:00pm to 4:30pm
  • Autodesk® Architectural Desktop Modeling Tips and Tricks - Thinking Outside the Box ~  5:00pm to 6:30pm

A quick post between sessions.

Just finished Phil's Revit session and ducked out of Matts ADT Display session for a short meeting. Apologies for the typos, using a public machine so cant take too long.

AU is bigger than ever, Shaan Hurley told me approx 5200 registrations this year and looking around I can believe it. Met nearly all the "Kiwi invasion" already so doing better than last year Mike!

November 27, 2005

Getting to the World Of Disney

I met Darren Myles (LHT) at Auckland and we were on the same flights. Got away on time (19:00 Friday NZ ) and had a good flight. Was not the Air NZ 777 but was a refit 747 so had the entertainment to help pass the time. I watched "The Fastest Indian" which was great and "War of the worlds" which thought was mediocre. I did lived in the Bose Headphones, they make such a difference would not fly without them. Only hassle was two attempts to land at SF due to only one runway being operational. The plane ahead was a bit slow clearing the runway so we went around again. Didn't see much due to low cloud.  Getting thru San Fran was a breeze compared to LA last year. Although Thanksgiving weekend we were travelling on Friday when most were still recovering from their turkey dinner. Then was a direct flight to Orlando which was good as many the other Hubs were getting snow.

Arrived 20:00 Friday local so was awake about 29 hours.... In the shuttle was thinking glad I don't have a rental car as being half asleep, navigating, driving on the wrong side of the read would be tough. Then realised the shuttle driver was over the yellow line driving on the wrong side of the road as he was busy talking on the cellphone...  We did make it

Spent Saturday exploring the World Of Disney, just the part outside the park is vast, but leaving the real thing inside the ticket area till after AU. Met Shaan (A'desk Beta) Hurley for lunch. Was good to see him again. Also caught up with Phil Read (Revit). Think he was a little surprised to see me and pleased to hear some of our buildings are being done by consultants using Revit.

The Dolphin Swan is nice, if odd architecture, and after a day or two you get used to gardens that play Disney theme music. Its a totally Disney'fied world in here!

November 22, 2005

It's nearly Autodesk University time again!

Last year my trip to Autodesk University (AU) started on a dismal winter Sunday afternoon while reading the AU website, which had just sprung to life. I had heard AU was good and was thinking it would be cool to go, never having visited the USA. I even got as far as looking through the sessions, picking those I would do, what it would cost, and then…   

Au2005KiwiFly (WinCE)….a few minutes of irrational madness with the credit card & I was on my way to Las Vegas!

Well, the same thing happened this year. As I look out the window at a dismal grey wet evening* it’s nearly time for this Kiwi to fly.

The trek to Autodesk University 2005Autodesk have moved AU to Orlando, Florida. One reason mentioned was “less travelling” but they obviously weren’t thinking about the Kiwi AU’ers when they made that change. It’s 14,402km, about 20 hours flying/transit, this time but it will be worth it. That much I do know!

AU is the premier place to absorb all you can about Autodesk products you use everyday. Part conference, training & social… the common theme is among the 5000+ AU “community” is Autodesk CAD. There is so much talent is assembled in one place, if you are going for the first time prepare to be overwhelmed!

Another benefit was the chance to meet many people previously “known virtually” via discussion groups, email & of course all those damn CAD blogs . I also got to meet lots of new people at AU and will soon be able to see many of them again. Once bitten by the AU bug, you seem to come back.

I did get a bit of flack for being hard to find last time. I didn’t even manage to meet a fellow Kiwi AU’er, Mike Burke, until AU had finished! It was odd that we had to go halfway around the world to meet in person, bizarre that our paths didn’t cross during the conference. I was there all along, honest, even have photos to prove it! 

Whg-Legacy-LogoTo solve that this time I’ve stocked up with our regulation issue company shirts. If you’re attending AU look out for a rather unsubtle Bright Red Polo Shirt with the logo (right) on the pocket: 5,500+ wear it in NZ but I suspect I’ll be the only one in Orlando!

If you see me say hello, at least I’ll know someone reads this rubbish!

I won’t be carrying a computer unless someone donates a nice lightweight Tablet PC before Thursday (Yeah right!). If I can find an interweb machine without 4,999 people lined up waiting to use it I will be blogging, hopefully during AU. If you are going, see you in Florida!

* To be fair the weekend here was awesome. Viaduct Yachts and that Tower

September 10, 2005

Hey Boeing, where's the new AU plane?

I was supposed to be flying to AU via San Francisco in a shiny new Boeing 777. It would have been one of the first operated by Air New Zealand but looks like they might still be using the (very) old 747’s…

Stuff.co.nz: Air NZ could get millions for delay

“Air New Zealand could be in line for millions of dollars in compensation from aircraft manufacturer Boeing because of delays in the delivery of its new flagship 777 airliner fleet…”

“The aircraft was to start flying from Auckland to San Francisco next month when the present three-times-a-week service goes to six times a week”

Orders and deliveries - Randy's Blog - Boeing.com

“As you may have read, we will continue to deliver airplanes that have been completed. But due to the strike, our production facilities are at a standstill at our Everett and Renton assembly plants.”

August 13, 2005

Autodesk User Group International AutoCAD Wish List Ballot

Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) have posted the AutoCAD Wish-list candidates. The wish-list is presented to Autodesk during the AUGI AGM held at Autodesk University.

It’s your chance to vote and make your wishes known!

AutoCAD Wish List Ballot - Autodesk User Group International
(Requires free AUGI registration)

UPDATE: Shaan has a great post on the new AUGI wishlist format.

August 09, 2005

To Orlando and beyond - Autodesk University 2005

Last year after my first Autodesk University I said; “If at all possible, I will be there”.

They moved it even further away but the other day I e-mailed the travel agent…

“I’m thinking about maybe going to Orlando for a conference”

The reply; “Book today and it’s way cheaper than if you book tomorrow”

Au2005KiwiFly (WinCE)So I am going to Autodesk University 2005. You see, Kiwis can fly!

If you are going I look forward to seeing you there.

PS: Any ideas what to see, and what to miss, in Florida after AU are welcome.

January 15, 2005

Shaan has a Cool Autodesk University 2004 Video

Shaan has a Cool Autodesk University 2004 Video: 

[Via Between the Lines]

January 07, 2005

Diggin' Deeper

Found out today that McGraw Hill Construction.com has a Blog:

Diggin' Deeper edited by Judy Schriener.

There are great articles, some about AU 2004 and the AUGI AGM.

Found via Beside the Cursor...

January 02, 2005

Shaan's AU 2004 Photos

Shaan Hurley has a zillion Autodesk University 2004 Photos posted;

Link: Shaan's Autodesk University 2004 Photos.

January 01, 2005

My Autodesk University 2004 Summary

Autodesk University 2004 (AU) was the first I have attended. Given that it requires considerable investment, in money and time, to get there (from New Zealand) it was hard to know if the long trek to AU would really be worth it.

Many (including Autodesk) say AU is best the place in the world for Autodesk Brainpower, Training, and Industry Networking.

My one-line summary is “They are right!”

I learnt more in 4 days than I believed possible. It has taken several weeks just to process the notes and information collected. It will take much longer to implement what I learned. I can’t share everything but this article is a summary of what I went to discover and what I got from attending AU.

Perhaps it may be of help if you are trying to justify your attendance at the next AU. If at all possible, I will be there.

Continue reading "My Autodesk University 2004 Summary" »

December 10, 2004

Autodesk University Travel Photos

I have posted the photos from my San Francisco/Las Vegas Autodesk University trip. Still to sort and title them but will do that over the next few days. Was happy with the results of the night photography in Vegas. Many shot with long exposures using "found support" (railings, rubbish bins, posts etc) as had no tripod.

Travel Photos Autodesk University 2004

I have also added  photos to the AU articles posted over the last two weeks.

Autodesk University Articles

December 04, 2004

Autodesk University 2004 ~ Heading Home

Cnv00073_1 It was bizarre that Mike Burke (Connell Wagner Wellington) & I managed not to meet all week. Thanks to Beau, we got in touch and had breakfast together before flying out. Turns out we were both traveling on the same flights back to NZ. During the Las Vegas/Los Angeles we caught up with how we thought AU had gone. (Photo: Gambling in Las Vegas goes right to the boarding gate!)

Once in the international terminal at Los Angeles it was a bit of a worry to find the board listing flights had nothing other than the Flight Number and Destination. All the others had boarding gates, times, “status” etc that you usually see. What’s that about, no flight? Went around the corner to find another display with the full information, it was just a bad line on the LED screen!

Got to the gate and there was no sign of a plane but we were early. Over an hour or two several hundred people built up but at boarding time there was still no plane. It arrived after a while then they announced a delay. They were boarding using two lines & machines and as they called the sequence I joined the shorter line but it turned out to be slower. I presented my boarding card and the machine spat it back out. They tried again with no luck then keyed in the info. I could see the screen and was a valid passenger with no seat allocation available. I then heard “The credit card has been rejected, he can’t board” which caused a heart flutter till I remembered I didn’t pay by card. It was the people in the other line who seemed more than a little agitated. They now had a late plane; both boarding lines stalled and were looking a little stressed. I was handed a different boarding card and told, “You’ve been upgraded to business”. I didn’t argue!

It was nice up there and the extra space, better food etc was lovely on such a long flight. Reclining in Bose Quiet Comfort silence I decided that I could get quite used to this!

I was sitting next to a comedy writer for NBC who was heading to NZ to script a pilot show for “The Flight Of the Conchords”. NBC saw them at the Montreal Comedy Festival and signed them up. The concept for the show sounded great and we had a long conversation about NZ comedy, culture and how a Kiwi reacts to arriving in the US.

He had worked on Larry Shandling, NewsRadio (I loved that show), and recently a US adaptation of “The Office”. I told him it was one of my favorite shows and hoped he hadn’t wrecked it!  I gave him a list of my favorite comics/shows and he hadn’t heard of many (Little Britain, League of Gentlemen, Black Books etc). When he checks those out will probably wonder what kind of psycho he was sitting beside!


It will be great to see what becomes of this deal. A great end to the trip but now its back to the real world again!

December 03, 2004

Autodesk University 2004 ~ Day 4

Autodesk® VIZ Lighting: Get a Grip

For me AU finished with another Ted Boardman session. With the focus this time on lighting he took us through the setup of an exterior scene using standard lighting and an interior scene with radiosity. Again the emphasis was on “painting with light” to achieve a great image rather than technically accurate lux measures. Ted pointed out that although the lights are very accurate what you do with material setup has a huge effect on the resulting image anyway.

I was interested he recommended setting contrast to get a good “black level” then brightness (exposure) to lift the white levels. Many years ago a TV video engineer told me this is the correct way to set up a TV. With the normal room lighting on you turn all the picture controls down to minimum then lift contrast so that the white test pattern blocks are just visible in the blackness. Back off a little then lift the brightness till the whites are white but not washing out the black. Then lift the colour using colour bars and a skin tone as a reference. This usually results in a much dimmer image than the common factory presets but is a much more realistic image. Ted applied the same technique to the exposure settings in Viz.

I have just spent some time transcribing notes from my appalling scrawl to a Mindmap and it was amazing how much material Ted covered in a few hours. If you can get training from him I’d recommend it. This was the last session of AU and it was a great way for it to end.

I spent the afternoon visiting some of the Casinos then went in search of my latest favourite toy. On the flight over I sat next to a lady with some Bose Quiet Comfort headphones. I’d read about them and she kindly let me try them and nearly didn’t get them back! Cnv00009_1

The difference was staggering. Aircraft roar is reduced to a gentle hiss but conversation is still quite intelligible. I was listening to my Minidisc and with its standard bud earphones needed to have the volume up near 100% to drown out the roar. With the "BQC’s" removing all the ambient noise the same music level required less than 20% of the volume range. They are expensive (usd$300) but so good I immediately decided I had to get some for the trip home. A 12 hour flight with no real sleep convinced me!

There is a Bose store in the Las Vegas Outlet Center so I got them there and also did a bit of gift shopping. A nice surprise was a “free” Bose portable CD player that was an Xmas offer. The Outlet Center was packed as people chased bargains for Christmas. Virtually every major brand from every category was available there.

After getting some dinner I returned to my room and got a call from Mike Burke. Even though he was wearing an All Black shirt and I was mostly in Warehouse logo shirts somehow we had managed not to meet during the entire AU week – still can’t really figure that out but we did have quite different class schedules. Thanks to Beau Turner for getting a message to him!

Cnv00182I was just heading out the door to a show so arranged to meet for breakfast on the following morning. We were both on the same planes that afternoon so would have plenty of time to catch up – I thought...

The show was comedian Rita Rudner at New York New York. She was another BFM "Slightly Silly Show" regular. It was a great show except for one thing totally beyond her control. I was sitting in front by the stage next to a man from Manchester. We chatted a bit before the show and he said had been out late the previous night after flying in the day before. About ¾ through the show he fell asleep doing the nod & wake just before your chin hits your chest thing! I was sure she noticed and spoke to her signing books, after the show & sure enough she had. I suppose its not uncommon but it was a bit distracting!

I then wandered down to the Venetian (photo) as hadn’t got that far earlier in the week. I was interested to see it as years ago watched a documentary that followed the construction. I think it and the Bellagio are the more “tasteful” casino's if anything in Las Vegas can be considered tasteful! The scale and level of craftsmanship seems higher in these two.

December 02, 2004

We aren't on Revit yet Phil!

On the way out of the GIS function I met Phil Read and some others who were discussing the whole ADT/Revit thing with another ADT user. I first met Phil 4 (maybe 5) years ago when he was the Implementation Architect for “Revit Revit” (prior to Autodesk buy out) and came to our office. This was when Revit came to town in NZ and Phil’s mission was to assist with the migration to Revit.

I must have had too many beers as didn’t recognise him at first, oop’s! Thankfully he has a better memory than me!

He has the same role now for Autodesk Revit working directly with firms in training, project implementation, and establishing best practices. It was great to catch up even if he hassled me about not changing CAD platforms... yet!

Autodesk University 2004 ~ Day 3

From Autodesk® Architectural Desktop to Facility Management Reports

How to Misuse and Abuse Autodesk® Architectural Desktop

Inside Scoop: Content and Catalogs in Autodesk® Building Systems

Autodesk® VIZ Render: Worth a Thousand Words

The morning started with a session on Facilities Management With ADT. It was based around a 3rd party package, FaciliCAD, which coordinates AutoCAD/ADT object data with a SQL Database. There was a useful overview of the BOMA measurement standard. The reassuring news was that although BOMA appears simple implementation can be confusing and conflicting depending on who wants to use the measure. We have this problem and are using a “modified BOMA” scheme for our building measures.

I also got the chance to meet John Janzen who co-hosted this session. Earlier in the year I contacted him regarding his CADMIN ADT Content Standards Management product. It was good to meet him and get news that an update is soon due to his product. We will be getting this to bring the bulk of our legacy store files up to date as part of upgrading them to ADT projects. There is a mixture of versions in our plans dating back to our initial ADT 2 work in some cases. When you only revisit store plans to relay every 3 – 5 years a lot can of have happened in the software world.  I think migration of legacy content is one of the biggest hurdles facing the BIM concept. Computers change fast and buildings are around a long time.

How to Misuse and abuse ADT showed use of walls as countertops, doors as sinks, curtain walls as seating, parking and a few other tricks. It was a demo of how standard objects can be misused to good effect. This is common for us as we misuse ADT’s object for all sorts of things when creating fittings.

I met Tony Sinisi and Bill Glennie at the ADT expo booth. Bill was in the middle of demonstrating end cap creation on compound wall styles to an ADT user. In addition to saying hello I also learnt a few tips on end caps, thanks Bill!

Then was straight into another class with Rebecca Rickus on Content and Catalogs for ABS. It was a tour through the object types ABS offers (Parametric and MV Parts) and how its Catalog System is used to share them. I came to AU primarily to learn about ABS content as it is very different to anything seen in ADT/AutoCAD. There are not many users in Australasia so no local training yet. Thanks to these sessions I now have a good grounding into how it all works. I still have a huge amount to learn but at least now know where to start. Thanks to the ABS team for their efforts in the lab and other sessions.

The last session was a tag team presentation from James Smell and Paul Aubin. Between them they gave a great introduction to the ADT/Viz Render including the use of I-drop content, block substitution and web sourced IES lighting data. The resulting interior scene looked really nice.

The evening event was the main conference dinner and entertainment. Dinner was a Buffet and the entertainment opened with magician, Jay Alexander. I must admit I’m usually not that interested in magic, skeptical nature showing, but his act was a great mix of comedy & magic.

Don McMillan, an engineer-turned-comic, followed him. If that description had me worried he then announced he is the only comic known to feature PowerPoint in his act....

He started with a demo of common PowerPoint mistakes, proving every one by doing it to excess, and then launched into a multi-slide demolition of two well-known facts:

  • Engineers aren’t funny
  • Lengthy PowerPoint shows cause sleep-inducing boredom.

At end of a long day, towards the end of a long week, he had everyone roaring with laughter. He had some content directly relevant to AU, Autodesk and CAD mixed with general observations on the human condition. You can see him in action on his website, http://www.donmcmillan.com, including a demo video. It’s a 22 mb download but well worth a look. It was an excellent evening but not over yet!

I grabbed my camera and went on a Casino tour. Took a lot of photos hoping to capture the amazing night lighting (and night life) but won't know how they turn out until Friday. I hope Canons 300d replacement is out soon as will be going digital when its available. Film is great quality but limiting when you want to experiment with low light/long exposures etc. I missed the instant feedback you get with digital, next year...

December 01, 2004

Autodesk University 2004 ~ Day 2

Build Your Own Parametric Parts in Autodesk® Building Systems
Secrets of Autodesk® Architectural Desktop 2005 Revealed
Learn from the Leaders: Design Analysis and Autodesk® Building Systems
Creating Custom Content for Autodesk® Architectural Desktop Details
Rendering and Beyond in Autodesk® VIZ 2005

Cnv00043 Today started with a Building Solutions Division Subscription breakfast. This was in the form of a Question and Answer session with the BSD exec and ADT/Revit/ABS teams present.

(Photo: AU Foyer)

After that was a session Building Parametric Parts in Autodesk Building Systems (ABS). I met ABS product manager Peter Terwilliger who I have only known by email until now. Meeting many people formerly only known by web/newsgroup/email has been a great part of this trip.

Rebecca Rickus (Product Designer for ABS) led a hand’s on lab session that walked through making a parametric duct using ABS’s content builder. This was one of the things I most wanted to learn from AU and it was a great introduction. The Content Builder is unique to ABS and using it totally different process to normal ADT/AutoCAD content creation. It’s more like the rule based modeling seen in the mechanical solutions (Inventor, MDT) or Revit. Although I still have much to learn at least I now have an idea how to approach the tools and process.

Next was Secrets of Autodesk® Architectural Desktop 2005 Revealed with Reid Addis. He’s a familiar name from the ADT newsgroup. Although I had already found most already I picked up a few more useful tips from this session.

I had a first look around the exhibit hall and was late getting to lunch. As you usually get randomly seated for lunch it’s a great way to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds and industries. Today the seating was more defined as it was the “"Birds of a Feather" lunch. The idea is you meet people with similar industry focus.

As I was late I actually sat with mainly survey & civil users but was interesting to hear that the whole 2d/3d old/new platform battle in common to their industry also. Seems like many are impressed with Civil 3d but face migration & process hurdles to adopt a new platform and methodology. Sounds familiar!

The "Design Analysis with ABS" session demonstrated how ABS data can now be exported to specialist packages to analyze building performance (energy requirements), duct sizing etc and that the results of this analysis can be returned to the ABS objects. Useful but I’m not sure how relevant to NZ as need to see what analysis packages are used here.

From that it was into a session with John Janzen on creating detail content for ADT which taught me enough to decide its complex and probably not that relevant to our use. Still was interesting to see how the various XML, dwg and VBA content works together to create the 2d detail objects in ADT Details.

In the last session for the day Chris Bullen gave an excellent introduction to the Viz Mental Ray render engine in his session “Rendering and Beyond in Autodesk® VIZ 2005”. Mental Ray requires a very different approach to “lighting” a scene as it uses a different method than standard Viz. Unfortunately Chris was victim of a few network hassles, the dreaded “licence server problem” message, but with resourceful use of an attendee laptop presented a really useful session.

Cnv00020 The evening event was the BSD Industry Reception, which had a “Mad Lab” theme. Everyone was dressed in hospital gowns and offered test tubes of “reviving substances” as they arrived. This evening included the presentation of the Autodesk BSD Design Awards by Phil Bernstein & Lynn Allen. At the conclusion of this we were all invited to continue on to the GIS bash. They had a great band, Dr Ruth, playing and spent the rest of the evening there. (Photo: Luxor Casino)

November 30, 2004

AUGI Vs George Carlin

Cnv00036 This evening I went to the Autodesk User Group International’s AGM. This was followed by the traditional (apparently) AUGI Beer bust. I had to leave it a bit early as was going to the MGM’s Hollywood theatre to see comedian George Carlin . I’ve heard him frequently on NZ radio and was keen to see him live. I had booked it as his run finished mid-week. His show is a blend of observation, philosophy, linguistics and raw stand-up comedy. (Photo: MGM Grand)

It was a cutting edge commentary on the state of the world and the USA in particular. "If you're born in this world you're given a ticket to the freak show. If you're born in America you're given a front-row seat.” It was an excellent show.

He has just released a book "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?" and was extremely proud that it was both banned by Wal-mart and still selling well. If you want a sample listen to an mp3 version of The Ten Commandments section here (4 megs) from his website. (NOTE: Content May Offend)

Cnv00038 After that went around a few of the casino’s and learned the casino optical illusion is worse at night. Las Vegas should have a warning the opposite of those seen in some car door rear view mirrors. “Warning: Things may be further away than they appear”. The scale of the casinos mean you start walking thinking its not far. The catch is that it is they are huge and it is far! Not so bad until you combine the late night with a 7:00am start... (Photo: "The Strip")

Autodesk University 2004 ~ Day 1

Autodesk® VIZ Materials: Gilding the Lily Opening
General Session
Building Design and Construction Session

AU kicked off for me with a 3 hour Viz/Max session with Ted "Viz God" Boardman. I'd been told by Rich Sales he would be good and he was. The focus was materials and the content was real world solutions to problems most, especially me, struggle with in Viz. How to get good grass, tiles, reflections, highlights and more. Also learnt a lot about use of maps and mapping/modeling techniques. Awesome session.

Cnv00047 In the afternoon we had the whole conference together for the Autodesk Corporate introduction. It was held in a big ballroom and the first real chance to see all 4400 attendees together. After and introduction from Lynn Allen there were presentations from Carol Bartz and the Division VP's and others. Some nice content in this with examples from all the industries present (AEC, GIS, Civil, Mechanical, General etc). Also some sneak previews of stuff that "might be in a future release" of several products... (Photo: AU Stage)

After this we split into industry specific sessions. I was in the Building Solutions Division group and heard more about moves to continue Revit's development into Structural and Building systems. Interestingly there have  been strong statements about continued commitment to ADT/ABS but they didn't feature in any of the BSD live demo's. The 2005 releases show that some great work is happening with them and was a pity it wasn't featured. The message  they will continue is clear but marketing support push doesn't seem to back this up.

Cnv00044 Then we had the keynote speaker. Dean Kamen, probably best known for the Segway, gave an inspiring talk on the innovation. He had some great examples of how great technology doesn't always mean great innovation. The message was change is hard, but necessary, and keep your focus on solving the problem, not fixing a solution to the problem. A really interesting and thought provoking start to the week. (Photo: Dean Kamen presenting on Segway)

November 29, 2004

AU prelims - Monday 29th

Today I got registered and had one AU related meeting. Was great to be here early and beat the 1st day registration rush. Now people have the Id's you can see how many are involved. This is going to be the largest AU ever - over 4400 registered.

I also got my first look at a real live Wal-Mart. Not a very wonderful one, a short taxi ride away from the hotel in Tropicana blvd, but interesting to see. I cant say I was that impressed as the whole store looked old and was still in a mess after the Thanksgiving rush. Still I guess it worked as went to look but ended up spending $50.

Aucnv00012_1 Typical of me but also managed to get a bulk load of Butterfingers for a good price. These are a Nestle product my American friend Lynn begged me to bring some back as cant get them in NZ. She has a "Butterfinger Habit". I tried one but no danger of me eating them on the way home as they are awful!

Also met Beau "Will render for food" Turner (Photo: Beau Segwaying about) and had dinner with him. Yet another virtual friend met in reality. As I wrote he just flew past on a Segway? Tomorrow it all starts for real....

(Nice to be back on a real PC - thanks HP AU Internet booth!)

November 28, 2004

Las Vegas - Canyon Copter

Cnv00035 Had a look around the MGM Grand this morning. By NZ standards its huge, 5000+ rooms, 170,000 sq ft (17000msq) of gaming. Have a nice room looking along the strip towards the Bellagio.

I have tickets for a couple of shows, George Carlin and Rita Rudner, later in the week. Didn't go too far as I was being picked up for a helicopter ride. Did not want to get lost and miss it!

(Photo: Flying over MGM Grand on the way out of Vegas)

I went with MAVERICK Helicopters. The "Dreamcatcher" tour has over 2 1/2 hours flying time. We flew over Vegas to the Grand Canyon and landed in the canyon by the river. Descending to the floor gave a true scale of how large it is.

Cnv00009After some champagne and snacks we flew back over the Hoover Dam as the sun set. Stunning views and great views of the dam. Was good to see knowing the history from the "Seven Wonders..." programme seen on Prime. (Photo: Canyon Landing Spot)

By this time the sun had set and we flew over "Old Las Vegas" and along The Strip as all the lights were now on. Awesome to see but strangely familiar.

Credit for that goes to the Flight Simulator 2004 team as I had "flown The Strip" in it before leaving home. It looked surprisingly similar! (Photo: The Strip: Real and FlightSim 2004)

Au2004a_80_smallI think this was the best way to see the Grand Canyon (given the time restrictions) as you get the aerial perspective but also, by landing in the canyon, a true ground level appreciation of the scale of the place.

Looking down from an aircraft it looks big but looking up from river level its enormous. Most of the Canyon photos came out ok but as the sun went down I ran out of light as we headed back to Vegas & the Strip.

Luckily they record a DVD as you fly (it's your actual trip not a "canned one") so I have that as a record.

Fs2004strip_smallIt arrived about a week after I got home and is the full flight apart from the 30 minutes on the ground in the canyon  complete with pilot commentary, passenger voice and even backing music.

If you get to Vegas and want to see the Grand Canyon I recommend the Maverick Dreamcatcher flight. There are a lot of tour companies operating there but somehow I think I stumbled on the best - the web works sometimes!

Near new machinery (it was only days old!), great itinerary, live not pre-recorded commentary and a friendly pilot who was happy to chat & answer any questions.

Au2004b_6It was a real highlight of the trip. I really recommend the Maverick Dreamcatcher flight if you get the chance to do it.

Continue reading "Las Vegas - Canyon Copter" »

Las Vegas - Day 1

Arrived at the airport in SF to find no sign of my flight on the board. Due to the storms out east it had been canceled and I was moved to a later flight. Not really a problem as had a look around SF airport and managed to read a mag that arrived just before I left NZ.

The November DRIVER had a big feature on how GM are trying to become a car company again. Many of the models mentioned were at the SF Motor show that I went to last week. Had a great night to fly as clear skies made for a great view of SF as we left. We turned back over the city and flew south over Monterey Bay before heading to Las Vegas.

As nearly a full moon saw a lot of snow on the mountains. I heard on the radio reports that chains were required if driving. Got in late and after a brief "scout" to work out where I was crashed - 12 hours walking around SF city and airport since checking out with me. About 01:30 awoke to hear my cell phone ringing. My sister had got the time difference wrong! Talked with her and also my Dad and Step Mom who were visiting. Was good to catch up.

San Francisco Day 5/6 - Thanksgiving

Spent the morning in the city then went to see some friends I met cycling in NZ. Ginny & Paul live about an hour by train south of SF. I arrived to find Ginny preparing mountains of food. I had a lovely thanksgiving dinner with them, family and a friend. It was great as something we don't have in NZ so was my first. It was a traditional meal with a few modern twists to enhance it. As usual Ginny was impeccably organized and had a plan for the next day!

Next morning I awoke to find her back from completing a 50x100yd swim. She is a mad triathlete and was training for a marathon. Felt very lazy in comparison!

We all went for a drive down the coast to Monterey via the Pebble Beach 17 mile drive. Its a coastal drive past palatial mansions and around the world famous golf course. It was interesting to see but I wouldn't want to live there (as if)!

Cnv00165 After that went through the Monterey Aquarium which is in a converted cannery. Seems a little ironic that fish live where so many met their end. Its large and has tanks/displays displaying all the local marine live. The highlights for me were the Sea Otters and a really cool display of jellyfish (Photo).

They had huge Tuna in the "Bay & Beyond" tank and sharks (although not large as the ones in Auckland's Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter & Underwater World)

They then dropped me back at the train as its off to Las Vegas tomorrow so had some preparation to do. Once off the train the way walked up to Market Street/Union Square heading for my Hotel. Almost by accident I ended up at a cable car turnaround and for once there was no waiting line. I nearly left SF without riding one but have that ticked off the to do list.

November 25, 2004

San Francisco Day 4 - Autodesk

Shaans_photo_of_me_at_autodesk_2 After an early start - even managed the hotel breakfast that ends at 9:00 for the first time - called Shaan Hurley and arranged a visit to Autodesk. They are in San Rafael which is north of the bridge which presented a slight problem as I haven't bothered renting a car here. I was dangerous enough on a bike (keeep right!).

After a little bit of scheming figured the Larkspur Ferry would get me close enough to sort out the rest of the journey as I went and it did. Shaan kindly offered to pick me up but as I got off the ferry a bus pulled up with "San Rafael" on it. That got me to within a few miles, and a short taxi ride, of the Autodesk Offices.

Shaan met me at reception, looking just like his blog pic, and gave me a tour of the development offices. I got to meet many of the AutoCAD/DWF team that are familiar names on the forums. I now have some idea of the process and effort that goes into creating the software. It was great and I appreciated the time especially as all were getting ready for Thanksgiving and next weeks AU. Shaan also showed me some really cool stuff that's coming up especially.... well, I'd tell you if I could.

He kindly dropped me back at the ferry and made the mistake of hanging around to talk while the ferry docked. We both laughed at people getting off the ferry and sprinting across the car park to their cars. I later read that the Shaan was probably still gridlocked in the park as I got off the ferry in town 30 minutes later then still had to face the rush hour traffic to get back to the office. Sorry Shaan, guess I owe you a drink or two in Las Vegas!

Had a look around the Union Square shops but many were closing due to the holiday. Saw some nice stuff but as usual everything I liked was expensive; in US dollars. Why is it always like that!

Tomorrow I'm meeting Ginny for Thanksgiving assuming I work out the Cal-train system. Haven't been on public transport this much in years.

Photo stolen from Between the Lines :-)

November 24, 2004

San Francisco Day 3

Woke late again, not sure if this is jet lag or just being lazy. I suspect lazy...

Cnv00149 Was another great day and decided to tick of another tourist trail must see. Went to Alcatraz and it was well worth the trip. You buy a ticket but can stay as long as you wish and I was there for about 3 hours. I took a lot of photos again. There is plenty to see and an excellent audio tour of the prison. As it was a nice calm sunny day it didn't seem that horrible but then I remembered I could leave anytime! Some of the audio tour stories were interesting and I recommend it if you get there.

Cnv00127Spoke to a former inmate, Prisoner #1422 Darwin E Coon, (photo) who was there from 1959-1963 when it closed. He has written a book about his life, how he ended up there, and since leaving has overcome his past and built a new life. Really interesting and it bought the history to life.

Then wandered along the waterfront and thru the city. By this time it was about 18:00 and i found the Moscone Center where the SF Auto-show was on. Cnv00121

It was worth a look but not as big as I expected. Still I saw several cars "in the flesh" for the first time. I have decided I don't want a Mercedes SLR, Porsche Carrera GT or Ferrari 612 so that saved several million. I went into one hall and was amazed to hear Diane Shuur introduce her conductor/arranger Alan Broadbent and the orchestra. Wow they are they performing here I wondered? I then saw a Maybach with the door open. It was a DVD playing in the car and sounded as good as any hifi/home theater I've ever heard. Pity the Maybach is an ugly huge thing. (Photo: Back seat of the Maybach)

Cnv00117Also saw the new Mercedes CLS "4 door coupe". (photo) I'd seen it in mag's and couldn't figure why they considered it a coupe.Now having seen the real thing still can't. Its just a saloon with a lower roof-line and ugly curved back and that looks like it was lifted of an AU Falcon. It didn't work for Ford and it doesn't work on a Merc.

Felt a bit weird leaving he show then realized I hadn't eaten anything other than a Gelato and an apple all day (There is no food at The Rock). Found a Sony entertainment center and had a Steak dinner in the foodhall watching a 62" plasma screen in the Sony Style shop across from me. Decided not to bring that home (hard to carry) and saved another $20,000us. Then walked back to the Hotel via Chinatown.

November 23, 2004

San Francisco Day 2: Biked the Bridge

Apparently it was cold this morning but I don't know as slept in. About 10am I picked up a rental bike and headed for Golden Gate. Needed some film so popped into a camera shop near where I'm staying. The Chinese owner asked if I was Kiwi and it turns out his brother runs a superette in St Heliers, Auckland where I top up for "fuel" on some of my bike rides. Small world.Cnv00073

Anyway, with my usual luck, the bike got (out of a zillion rental bikes) started creaking a little when I put pressure on the pedal. No problem, i thought, they do that for miles. About 2.5 km later the entire crank and pedal dropped off. The creaking was not a loose crank as it appeared the bolt had failed....

After a nice walk around the waterfront pushing and scooting the one pedal bike I got back and set out again with a thoroughly checked new bike - no problems this time!

I headed out to the bridge but then over the hill to El Chimino, then through the Golden Gate Park (saw a bison), back through Presidio and headed over the hill to the bridge. The wind of the last few days meant no smog/fog and it was stunning. Got some great photos but not digital so will have to wait till I get home to see them - H'mmm Digital SLR....

Cnv00055Then rolled down the hill to Sausalito, had a lovely Gelato ($10NZ though), and jumped on the ferry home. By this time the winds had gone westerly and the fog that SF is famous for had started to roll in. According to my Garmin I biked, walked and scooted 52km today so think I've earned dinner tonight!

November 22, 2004

Auckland To San Francisco

Made it to SF OK although think have had my xray dose - I went thru 8 scans and one complete bag search (at check in at Auckland would you believe).
LA was very busy but waiting in line was entertaining as they were filming some reality show (3 camera crews following 3 couples).
Quick flight up to San Francisco at catch up on sleep. Today (Sun) had a wander down the waterfront and first decent meal, Calamari entree (dinner plate heaped high) and massive bowl of seafood stew. Hadn't eaten much other than airline/airport food so was nice. Weather is fine and windy. Apparently good as other wise would be misty. Going to rent a bike tomorrow and bike the bay (over GG Bridge, back by ferry). Just have to remember which side of the road to ride...

November 16, 2004

"It's actually happening"

Just getting the "It's actually happening" feeling for the Autodesk University trip. It seems like months since I booked because it is! I leave on Saturday for as have some time in San Francisco before the main event. Will be posting travel notes to the CAD Autodesk University category of the blog if I get the chance.

If you are going to be there I suspect I'll be the only one there wearing this logo...

Whglogo_1

Look forward to meeting you!

October 20, 2004

Check out "Dr. Lynn Allen's" new Video

Dr. Lynn Allen has another video on-line for Autodesk University attendees.

Do you have AUOS?
Get a diagnosis from "Dr. Lynn Allen"
(Windows Media Player)

The first in this series was:
How to Avoid "AUOS"
(Autodesk University Overwhelm Syndrome)
(Windows Media Player)

August 18, 2004

Autodesk AU Public Service Announcement

If its your first time at AU (like me) I recommend you watch the Autodesk Public Service Announcement on How to avoid "AUOS" (Autodesk University Overwhelm Syndrome). Unwittingly, I have been practising some of the steps recommended by Lynn Allen as AU preparation. Sleep deprivation and caffeine overdose are sorted. We don't have "Jolt Cola" or "Twinkie's" in NZ which presents a bit of a problem...
View: Autodesk Public Service Announcement ~ How to avoid "AUOS"

August 03, 2004

I'm going - AU 2004

The appearance of a new category, CAD Autodesk University, on the Blog is to signify that my "intention" of attending Autodesk University 2004 has become a certainty. Today did the deed and signed up so no going back now. It looks like I got the sessions I wanted so have a mix of ADT/ABS/Viz to look forward to and a bit of Las Vegas fun!

Future posts on AU will be in the new Category only.

BTW: Any suggestions on things to see, or to avoid, there or San Francisco (the week before) gratefully accepted…

July 30, 2004

Autodesk University 2004

I was about to Blog about this when I found Lee at Hyperpics has already done it. I have just started planning a trip to Autodesk University 2004 and to be honest its a little daunting. Getting there is a mere 11154 km (Auckland, San Francisco, McCarran) and deciding which of the hundreds of sessions to attend, actually which to miss, is a challenge. This will be the first time I have attended AU and there is so much to see, so little time.
Read Lee’s AU post here.