Monday, April 21, 2008

Tech Camp 2008

I spent last week with more than 900 AutoCAD geeks in Dallas, Texas at the Hilton Anatole Hotel. We were all there for the Americas Tech Camp 2008 to learn about the new 2009 Autodesk products and to improve our presentation skills. I truly had an enjoyable time!

First of all, I'm not at the level of society that frequently stays at Hilton Hotels, I live more on a Hotel 6 budget - so my room was a real treat!
I just love their beds and those soft feather pillows.

They had the best coffee maker in the room, too. You could make one or two servings, in either a big mug or a styrofoam cup with a lid if you wanted to take your coffee with you. What a good idea! Also, there was chamomile tea provided, which was lovely, and helped me unwind so I could sleep at night.

The hotel was a unique, beautiful building. The rooms are built around this giant atrium, with a translucent ceiling (glass I suppose), so the light changed inside depending on the weather and time of day. Inside the atrium was a full Mexican restaurant and a coffee shop, plus in the evenings there was a man playing the piano.

The only downside to the atrium was that from the conference rooms you had to walk all the way across that atrium to the opposite side to get to the elevators, to go up to the rooms. My room, of course, was near the conference rooms so I had to trek all the way back around. Was I ever glad I brought my walking shoes!
Maybe you're thinking all that has nothing to do with AutoCAD or Tech Camp, but it really was part of the whole experience.

I went to 2 classes to help me become a better instructor, something new that they didn't offer last year. Both of them were excellent! If any of you ever have the opportunity to attend training from DeFinis Communications, go! I learned so much from their "Presentation Skills Essentials" class that I want to hire them here to come to Boulder to train our entire staff.(Or we could go to California, now there's a thought...)

We all had to wear these badges, whenever you saw someone you knew right away whether they were there for AutoCAD training. The best part was there was a little map inside that booklet, I used it nearly every day to find my way around.

The next 3 days were all about learning to use the software. I signed up to learn about AutoCAD Map 3D. That wasn't too bad, I was able to do the exercises. But once we got to Mapguide Enterprise, I just got lost. I tried vainly to keep up with all the facts and methods they were showing me, and all the acronyms! They were throwing around so much alphabet soup I felt like I was drowning in capital letters - SDF and SQL and FDO and SHP and OMG get me out of here! But I am determined to learn it - I'll keep you posted on my progress.
On Monday night they had a picnic, all the free food and drink you wanted, it was delicious, tacos and fajitas and barbequed pork, plus the salads & desserts! It was so weird to be outdoors without a coat on - I had been in Minnesota visiting my parents , and they had just gotten a foot of snow only 2 days before. What a contrast!
Wednesday night they had a Pizza party, with the Autodesk team demonstrating the new features of AutoCAD 2009. It was fun; instead of dry lectures they were using a Jeopardy-type game, with prizes! I didn't get to play, there were too many people, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the party. To tell you the truth, I enjoyed it in my own way; I left early for some much-needed sleep!
One unexpected thing about the Anatole Hotel; there was a piece of the Berlin wall in the courtyard. We took pictures of it to show you all.

Last of all, for dessert - a little taste of the new look of AutoCAD 2009. I pasted together a few screen captures with some explanatory notes on them. My next few blog entrys will be covering the new features in depth - but here's a preview. See you next time!

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