Where to begin? Let’s rewind to last night and the “special event” at The Cowboy Dance Hall. I use quotation marks because it really should be called what it is, a bash. Party is too tame of a word. The bash was simply incredible. Kerri Dunne, and her team, hit a grand slam with this one. The location was the perfect size, and there were plenty of bars and serving stations so that lines were never discouragingly long. Aside from the time I spent playing Texas Hold ‘em (with play money), I spent the evening with friends, old and new. The band was excellent, and had the whole place hopping, playing cover tunes from the 1980′s. Lots of great rock, none of that wimpy pop crap. There was also a bull riding show that I hear was very entertaining as well. I don’t think it was a coincident that the music volume seemed a bit lower this morning when we entered the conference hall for the general session.
I’m not going to get into too much detail about this morning’s session. I’m quite sure it’s been written about quite a bit already. Let me just summarize it: SolidWorks 2012 sneak peek, cop cliches, SolidWorks AEC, fast modelers, Dell, 13 year old flute playing lock picker and Kevin Bacon. That should paint a clear picture.
I’m now on my way back to Seattle, and the real world. Though it’s more than a year away, I’m looking forward to SWW 2012 in San Diego.
I have a few interviews I need to transcribe, and will be posting those in the next few weeks.
Just a few more weeks until spring training. GO RED SOX!
Day two started early for me. Five-fricken-thirty in the morning early, and I don’t know why. Both mornings here I’ve woken up at 5:30 and, admittedly, that completely sucks. I’m getting off track though.
After a breakfast that consisted of a triple 20 ounce mocha from Starbucks, some cold French toast and cantaloupe, I made my way to the starting gate, er entrance, to the general assembly. For reasons beyond my comprehension, they have us wait about 100 yards away from the actual entrance to the hall. (The fact that there haven’t been any major injuries with 4,000 people rushing to get good seats is a small miracle.) Fielder Hiss started things off today talking about the Platinum Sponsors for SolidWorks World 2011, specifically HP. Honestly, it seemed a bit like a commercial interruption.
Up next was Richard Doyle. Frankly, I think it should be Sir Richard Doyle. The man is a knight of SolidWorks and should be recognized as such. As a matter of fact, from now on I believe people should refer to him as Sir Richard. Richard spoke a bit about the user groups and then presented the award for User Group of the Year to Chicago. Ed Gebo won User Group Leader of the Year. Richard then introduced Phil Sluder who was presenting the first annual Michelle Pillars SWUGN Community Award. Michelle was a founding member of SWUGN, a founder of the Seattle Area SolidWorks Power User Group and an advocate for SolidWorks and knowledge sharing. She passed away last year. This year’s recipient was Wayne Tiffany.
Fielder then introduced Jon Hirschtick. As he’s done in previous years, Jon brought up SolidWorks customers who were using SolidWorks for innovative products. First up was Dr. Bill Townsend of Barrett Technology. In addition to be SolidWorks’ very first customer, Barrett Technology is creating totally awesome robots designed to work in close proximity of Humans. Basically, if you get too close, it’s not going to accidently crush you like a bug. Using SolidWorks, they were also able to cut down the number of wires they needed from 100 to 4. That’s right, 96 fewer wires. Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? Oh, did I mention that the robot can also run for 20 minutes on 5 9-volt batteries? You’re impressed now. If not, you should check your pulse. The next customer was Mako Surgical. Using SolidWorks, reverse engineering and lots of smarts, the team at Mako have created an alternative to knee replacement. They even brought up an actual patient. This guy was walking TWO hours after surgery and playing golf 3 DAYS later. This was a guy who had such severe bone to bone contact in his knee that he was all but a permanent fixture on his couch and had ballooned up to 300 pounds. Knowing that I’m a candidate for knee replacement, this makes me feel much better about my future ability to move about.
Jon then brought up the Mike Pisani from Local Motors. If designing an open source car is something that interests you, you should check them out. Locally manufactured, open source designed cars. Each vehicle is a limited production run of 2000 that you, yes you, can build in just two weekends. Check them out at www.local-motors.com.
Last up were the guys from Bionic Builders, a new Discovery Channel show. What do you get when you cross an adrenaline junky amputee with an intelligent engineer susceptible to suggestion? Some crazy prosthetics for amputees, that’s what. Missing a leg but like to scuba? There’s an attachment for that. Specifically, a battery powered propeller. Rock climber? Yeah, they have an attachment for that, too. It even comes with a clip on the bottom so you can ride your mountain bike to that sheer rock wall you’re going to climb. Basketball player? They’re working on a leg that’ll help you with your vertical jump.
All in all, the product innovations shown today were impressive. Rather than your typical machine design, these guys were thinking outside the box, coming up with creative solutions for the curve balls that life sometimes throws your way. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s session when we get to see what’s coming in 2012.
Wow. I don’t know that I can say anything more intelligent than that. It’s been a pretty incredible day today. I woke up way too early to start with. How early? Starbucks wasn’t even open. I had to wait for that to happen.
Things started to pick up around 8:00 when we all started amassing for the stampede into the hall for today’s general session. It was while standing around that Alex Ruiz showed up wearing this absolutely awesome shirt:
Jeff Ray opened the day, as he has for the past 7 years. This year, however, was his final one. As most know, Jeff is moving on up into Dassaut corporate and Bertrand Sicot is taking over as CEO of SolidWorks. Jeff talked about how SolidWorks was involved with the Chilean mine rescue. Schramm Incorporated drill rigs were used for both holes drilled, while the drill bits came from Center Rock. When the first drill bit broke, a new one was designed on site, in Chile, in three days. Pretty incredible stuff, there. Oh, remember how Oakley provided sunglasses to all the rescued miners? Yeah, designed in SolidWorks.
Bertrand spoke for a bit with the most important thing being his assuring all that SolidWorks would always be available as a local install. It would never be an either/or sort of thing with regards to the cloud.He made mention of how well Draftsight has taken off, with over 300,000 downloads and 66,o00 activations.
However, nothing Jeff or Bertrand said was as awe inspiring, or as captivating, as the next two speakers. Gene Kranz and Jim Lovell of Apollo 13. We’ve all heard the story and/or seen the movie, but to hear the story from two of the men who lived it was incredible. Up until Gene started speaking, Twitter was rolling with tweets with the #SWW11 tag on them. By the time Jim joined Gene onstage, the Twitter stream for SolidWorks World had all but dried up.
Those two are incredible men, reminders of a time gone by. When Gene spoke, you could just tell he was a no bullshit kind of guy. To think that the lives of the crew were saved by duct tape, a sock and a manual box is just mind blowing. Even though I kept picturing Tom Hanks, Jim’s recounting was mesmerizing. No PowerPoint for him, either; 3×5 cards were his only media. I really don’t think I can adequately express what it was like to be so close to two bona fide heroes. Wow doesn’t even come close.
Currently, I’m in a plane 37,000 feet above the ground on my way to SolidWorks World 2011. This will be my 6th time attending SWW, and I’m just as excited for this one as I was my first one in 2006. For me, it’s a reunion, a learning experience and a vacation all rolled up into one trip.
As a wide-eyed newbie in 2006, I was unprepared for the size of SWW. I really didn’t know anyone and felt a bit lost. Over the years, as my blog picked up readers, and I met my fellow bloggers, other users and SolidWorks employees, traveling to SWW took on much more importance to me. My need to be there was greater.
Even though I know that those who read this blog also read other blogs, I still like to be able to share my experiences, my views. I think that where I’m fortunate enough to be able to attend SWW, it’s my duty to share it with as many as possible.
Then there’s the learning experience. While much of my time will be taken up with some interviews, as well as lining up new reviews, I still hope to be able to attend a few sessions. Learning the nuances of SolidWorks, from actual users, is a treasure trove of info that you won’t find in a manual or video training or from an AE. These people are like you and I, sitting in front of their computer figuring this stuff out.
Then there’s the Humanus SolidWorkus factor. While there are hundreds of thousands of SolidWorks users, it seems that only a small percentage of them are as enamored with it as I am. Being able to be surrounded by like-minded individuals helps to provide a sense of normalcy to my geekiness. I only wish it were more than once a year.
So whether you’re reading to learn more about SolidWorks, its partner products, or to experience SWW vicariously through me, I hope you enjoy the upcoming posts from San Antonio. I know I’m going to enjoy the experiences that will provide their content.
And so it begins, the annual migration of the Humanus SolidWorkus. These creatures, a subset of Humanus Geekus, come together once a year in a feeding frenzy known as SolidWorks World. They come from all over the world to gorge themselves on each other’s knowledge of SolidWorks.
To the uninitiated, the sight of thousands of these creatures can be a bit daunting. However, the vast majority of them are quite harmless. (There are a few who suffer from Gremlin Syndrome, where they become quite mischievous if they drink after midnight.) Unlike most species that migrate to the same locale each year, Humanus SolidWorkus changes it’s location each year. This year they are descending upon San Antonio, Texas. Are you migrating?