Let's Get Physical
I've identified three categories of physical activities that happened a lot during this conference. Unfortunately, I only prepared for one of them.
1. Walking. Lots and lots of walking. This is the one I prepared for. I've been doing a couple laps around the neighborhood each day for several weeks, and that exercise served me well.
2. Standing. Standing in line. More standing in line. Even more standing in line. And yeah, some more standing in line. Oh, and also some standing around during the social mixers. And don't forget about standing in line. Oddly enough, I found that even though the standing really wore on me, as soon as I started walking I was fine. I don't know exactly how to prepare for this, but I'd suggest simply standing for a 1/2 hour several times a day. Maybe shuffle forward a couple feet every few minutes. For bonus practice, hold your laptop bog.
3. Sitting. I thought the worst seats on this trip would be on the airplanes. I was wrong. On Monday I was thanking and asking for another, on Tuesday I was able to keep to name, rank, and serial number, but by Wednesday I was giving up state secrets and begging for mercy. In order to prepare for this, I suggest finding a nice concrete block, and bringing along a small sheet of plywood for a backrest. Sit on this for an hour, four times a day. You probably still won't be adequately prepared, but at least you'll be more ready to accept the almost total loss of the concept of personal comfort. Chances are you won't be able to sit on the end of a row, so as you sit practice keeping hold of your laptop without crossing your legs.
This is the first conference I've attended where all of the content was provided by the host company. Every single lecture was given by Apple employees. I don't think I can adequately articulate how much less useful PLM World and SolidWorks World would have been with exclusively UGS- and SW-provided content. Certainly, it is nice to get information direct from the horse's mouth, but there is so much valuable knowledge in the user base. On average, the useful information acquired that can be immediately applied tends to come from user presentations. This is largely due to the fact that the host company is mostly talking about what's coming up. The next version of SolidWorks, the next version of NX, etc.; capabilities that aren't even available yet and won't be for months. Users stand up and talk about what they've been doing for the last year, and provide a little reality to combat the unicorns and roses offered by the company. I was already overwhelmed by the amount of information that Apple provided, but I can't help but wonder how much more valuable and tangible information I could have acquired from a few decent user presentations.
Brush With Greatness
I didn't get to meet everyone that I wanted to, but I did wind up being surprised at the numbers I did encounter. Several book authors, several of my Twitter followers, and so on. It's tough to meet people when all you know is a screen name. Who knows how many times I walked past someone I would have liked to meet, but didn't know that's who they were. I did see a couple of people I would have liked to talk to, but didn't have a convenient situation to do so, and judging from Twitter there were a significant number people present that I would have loved to meet but never saw. Maybe next year, on the assumption this whole programming gig lasts long enough to justify a return, I'll have to send out some emails in advance to arrange meetings.