Thursday, 3 November 2016

AU2016 Survival tips (or, AU2015 survival tips, Rev2.0)

Autodesk University 2016 is fast approaching; in just a week, thousands of Autodesk users and leaders will gather once again in Las Vegas to meet, mingle, share, network, and learn.  I have had the good fortune to attend several previous AU’s (This year marks my 11th AU), and have some suggestions to help improve your AU experience:

If this is your first AU, I strongly encourage you to attend the AU Orientation on Monday at 5:00-6:30.  You’ll learn all about the conference and get great advice on how to maximize your conference!  You’ll also get your first opportunity to network with other attendees.

Network! Probably the most valuable take-back from AU is the networking  (since many courses are online nowadays, anyways.)  Bring business cards, chat up people, sit at a table of strangers, introduce yourself! If you are shy, check out Frank Mayfield's excellent Introvert's Guide for some great tips.  Find peers and connect with them, and share successes and challenges: it'll be far more valuable than the pure tech side of the conference! 

Want to meet others and get some fresh air?  Meet up with Shaan Hurley and his run/walk events: they will run 5K and walk 2k on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings!

Take a certification exam, they are usually free at AU. The best time to beat the crowds at certification is first thing, I mean FIRST THING in the morning, otherwise there will certainly be a long queue.  

Go to the AUGI Annual Meeting on Wednesday at 5:45 and afterwards collect an AUGI beer mug, or 'beverage receptacle' to add to your collection! If you aren't an AUGI member, stop by AUGI booth (2771) at the exhibit hall and sign up: it's free! 

After the AUGI Meeting, head over to the Party at the Promenade near the Linq and unwind with your fellow attendees!

The keynotes are awesome, make sure you check them out, and if crowds aren't your thing, remember, the keynotes are live-streamed, you can watch them from the comfort of your room if you like.  Don't forget the Closing Keynote on Thursday!  
The AU App is great for keeping track of your schedule, but I always print a hard copy at 25% scale and tuck it in the back side of my AU credentials.  It’s instantly accessible, since you’re always wearing your name tag.

To preserve battery life of your mobile device, turn off all the extras in your phone, such as Bluetooth, NFC, and Location services.  

For international visitors, turn off data roaming too, unless you get yourself a travel package for your mobile. 

Make sure you have your battery charger with you, bring a spare battery or a portable charging pack along; you’ll probably notice your phone battery gets depleted faster away from home.

Las Vegas is the desert, and it’s really, really dry, so remember the following:

Wear comfortable shoes: there’s a LOT of walking, it might be close to a quarter mile from the elevators to the conference entrance.  By week’s end, your feet will be sore and tired.  Help them out by making the walk as comfortable as possible.

There is a 'secret' shortcut to the expo: instead of taking the hotel elevator to the casino level, and walking the big loop through the casino,  get off the elevator at the Canal shoppes level.  A quick walk alongside the canal, and over a bridge or two, and you'll be at level 3 of the Expo!  This area is also reasonably quiet, with benches for relaxing, and uncrowded restrooms!

Typically, you get a conference bag.  Use it!  Take it with you, and every time you see tables with bottles of water, toss a couple in your bag. 

Take chap stick with you; the air is dry, and you’ll likely need it.

Rest up! AU days are long, they start early, and go late.  A few hours’ sleep goes a long way; get it while you can. 

Remember: Pace yourself! You need energy for the entire week!

For the most comfortable room, request a humidifier for your room when you check in; the extra moisture will help!

Leave space in your luggage for any shopping or exhibit hall freebies you may acquire while there for the trip back home.

International travelers, make sure your passport is valid and not expiring soon. Also for international folks, I try and use my credit card as much as I can, instead of cash, since buying $USD always comes with a exchange fee, but credit card companies typically only charge the current rate, without a fee.

A taxi from McCarran to the Venetian will cost between $20-$25 USD.  There are shuttles available, too, at $7- $10 per person.

Try and take a few hours and be a tourist!  Here is a gem from Steve Shell: 
"And if you do manage to get out and be a "tourist".....go downtown to the restaurant in the Golden Gate casino (at the Plaza Hotel end of the Fremont Experience) if like Shrimp Cocktails!    This a must eat thing to do in Vegas..just ask any local.    It is only around 3 or 4 dollars and is huge and has killer cocktail sauce."

See a show, or just take a stroll and sight-see.  Make time and get outside for some fresh air every day.

I hope these few tips help make your AU2016 the best it can be!  See you there!