On August 14th 2018 I got an email from Richard Doyle and Rachel York inviting me to the 4th Annual User Advocacy Day at the SolidWorks Corporate office in Waltham MA on September 10th 2018. What excitement and what an honor. When I thought of the 3 million seats of SolidWorks Sold and there are approx. 20 people invited to this event every year, wow that is only .00067% of the total SW User Population, so being picked is still better than the “Win The Lottery” ratio of .000001% - but really, to be singled out like this is an honor. I jokingly emailed Rachel York and told her that it would be great if any of the main Development guys would pick us up at the Train Station, then I could talk to them about enhancements to make the product better, etc… Well, Rachel being Rachel, did it again, she’s over the top, a few weeks ago I got an invite to have a meeting with Matthew Lorono and Jody Stiles Things didn’t work out as planned as both Matthew and Jody weren’t there, however I did have an interview with Marlon Banta who is involved with PV360, we had a great meeting for sure.
One day I noticed the return date, 911, wow, we needed to go through 3 major Northeastern USA Cities, suppose there is a 911 repeat, yeah stupid things went through my mind, all for naught, because on the way back we had a stop at Grand Central Station, and yes there was a lot more security on duty then there was on the way up, or so I thought. They even took two dogs through the entire train, wow, amazing, it was relax & SW reflect time..
Only about a week prior to leaving did I find out that Dan Pihlaja was also invited, which was totally awesome. We were invited to represent the Forum Community, not sure if I did it justice or not, but I was there and did my best..
9:45 on September 9th 2018, my wife Miriam and I boarded the Train in Lancaster PA and had an hour or so layover in Philadelphia, too bad I didn’t know of anyone that owned a “Under Dog Mask”, how cool would that have been to walk into South Boston Train Station yelling E A G L E S…. Thinking it over, I think I would have quickly slipped it off and stripped over another person’s head, because who do we meet at South Boston on 6:15 Sunday evening??? … (Hordes of Patriot Fans), yes hundreds of them. After that I could picture myself in a body cast being sent home in a stage coach, yeah pulled by 4 horses, all the way from South Boston to Southeastern PA and feeling every bump, oh well..
When SolidWorks does any event they almost always out do the event prior to it, right, especially if Rachel York has anything to do with it, because I think that when we arrived, Miriam & I were the only ones ever to be escorted by a full Fire Company Brigade, to Hyatt House Boston in Waltham, it was totally amazing, blinking lights and all, but we didn’t hear any sirens. The first people that I saw was Dan, Richard and Rachel standing outside on the sidewalk, then my bubble was burst when they told me that it was only an automatic fire alarm and the Fire Department just got there, I still believe that Rachel broke the glass and pulled the leaver.
Inside we had a chance to meet some of the other invites as well, Kameron Smith , awesome finally meeting him and a few others. After spending a few minutes inside, I excused myself and went out to call Rick Becker, here he was in the parking lot already waiting on our call, talk about awesome, Rick drove over 2 hours to come and meet Dan, Richard, Rachel & I, wow. The Forum Comrade goes over and beyond helping people figure stuff out, or telling Students to pound sand, the Helen Love Letters, Car Phone Holders, Points – oh my points are frozen (right Richard, we did talk about points), Chetam, being part of the SWFU…… or guiding people to the available training material on My.Solidworks.com or just doing it for them. Rick & I went inside so Rick could meet Dan and the others, plus I had a gift for Rick, back in Feb the Superbowl bet went my way with the Eagles beating the Patriots, Rick and I had a small bet going. The gift was a Large Replica of a Sucker. When I saw that at the Candy Stand, I knew exactly what, where and how, Rick was getting that thing, which I put inside a Christmas Bag. Miriam was like, “That’s a Christmas Bag”, I said, “I know, but see the word Joy that was printed on the outside” yes it was a Joy giving it to Rick.
After that Rick, Dan & I went to Relish Burger Bristo, which is a high end Burger shop, listed in the menu was cup of Clam Chowder 9 bucks and Burgers starting at 14 or so.. We had an enjoyable evening sitting their listening to Dan, incredible story…. Later Tuesday I found out that Rick got to Bed around 2:30am, but I know he thought it was well worth it.
I always fall short of my, get up in the morning intentions, (my get up and go has got up and went), but this was a bad time for this to happen, you always do room service call in the morning, right, well since we got to bed a bit late I thought I would set the alarm clock instead of calling the front desk, well needless to say I got up about a ½ later then I wanted to because the alarm clock never went off, this was enough to miss my first shuttle ride, but way early enough for the 2nd shuttle, I was still over at SW Corp by 8:15, plenty of time for breakfast and to meet a few people.
The evening before Rachel asked me if I would tell the Dave Bear story first thing in the morning and I said “sure”, so I had been trying to mentally prepare myself, but we got started a little later and I thought fine, that’s off the list and we won’t get to it, even though in the morning I would have been prepared, but not later in the day, after I put my guard down..
Richard and Rachel did all the introductions and even the The "Kitty Dump" - Watercooler - Trash it Here - Food For Thought - Talk About Whatever Here name came up, which brought some chuckles, but in reality the Kitty Dump took the Forum more in line with what SolidWorks Corp, wants the Forum to be. When a topic is posted, keep it focused and on-target, the Dump is a much needed relief valve. The atmosphere at SolidWorks is awesome to experience, finding a few feelings in attempt to explain what I felt, casual, serious, but at the same time humorous, and most important is the concern for the SW Communities feelings and they also listen in on the Forums. The overall experience that I felt was that I am using an International Industry Leading Design Software that is used to design many, many products.
The agenda was as follows….
Just as I thought I’m getting out of telling the Dave Bear Story, not so fast….
Late in the afternoon we were almost ready to break from the Classroom setting and go do the Robot Races, when Rachel said to all, "We would like John to tell us the Dave Bear Story before we split up", well, I wasn't prepared, because I knew that Dave had already had picked up the box and was probably opening it as we speak, but I know the time wouldn't have held out that way, but anyhow, I got all choked up, because here I was, my mind is flying a zillion miles a second, that somewhere within the confines of the building where I was right then, there was all those people that said "Yes" when they were asked to help out with Dave’s package, and another thing, I was within the confines where one of the Industries Leading Design Software is Designed, Made, Proofed etc, and I had to think of the Forum Community pulling this thing together, I had to think of the Great People that SolidWorks has employed, all this came flying at me right then and there, wham, like a Blender on Steroids. I do remember to be asked to go up front to speak instead of sitting where I was. So when I got up I said please don’t ever ask me about SolidWorks, because I won’t quit, I love SolidWorks, in fact I love everything about SolidWorks except the SolidWorks "Expired Subscriptions" will be switching to a “full backdating” format 1/1/16 . I also had to think of God giving Dave another chance to finish the truck that he started, so yeah Dave Bear, I did get to tell the story, but not without tears, really I tried to apologize to the audience, but then I really didn't care, Dave your story was repeated, in a brief moment I got the point across that the SolidWorks Forum & SolidWorks Corporation is a great cause to be a part of. I also mentioned that the Alin Vargatu Challenges should be recognized at SWW with a Dave Bear award, I told them I have no idea what they need to do, but it would be great if they did and the reason I wanted to nominate Dave as the name on the award, is because of his great story.
Link to Dave's Story
Dave Bear Award statement (added afterwards)
As for the Dave Bear Award… Kinda hard putting words to the feeling, first of all what created a sensation so to speak was when Dave mentioned that he used SW specifically for a Mind Stimulant, plus every friend of his was concerned for his wellbeing and a few of us spread the word and shared his story, plus this created a sensation of good will internationally, plus when SW came up to bat, it put it into another perspective, I so wished I was there to hand Dave the box, all of this crossed and came together as a well-planned event, Dave just happened to be in the Crosshairs, so right now all I can say to Dave is to suck it up and take it in and enjoy life.
The Alin Challenges need recognition at SWW for sure and the reason I would nominate Dave Bear as the name on the award with Dave's story is that, he didn’t give up, he pulled through and he proved he can live, he stepped up and he's ready to go, ready to give, ready to help and ready to live….
After that we went to do the Robot Races, where Dan and his team won, ours went faster, but it didn’t know when to turn or when to stop, so we were going to go for the kill and just go in a straight line and take the 12 second penalty and we would have easily beat Dan and his team, by probably 10 seconds or more even with the penalties, but our driver Robert Maldonado, (Rob is from our VAR in the New Jersey Office of Design-Point Solutions), had a hard time driving straight, but we had a great time..
what an awesome atmosphere and experience, had a great conversation with Jim Wilkinson & Suzanne Locke, plus others, all kinds of drinks & hors d'oeuvres kept making the rounds, choices of Fish, Fillet Mignon and Chicken were some of the choices, best Fillet Mignon I ever had, awesome. Miriam & I were sandwiched between Mike Sabocheck and Dan Pihlaja, this was awesome, I had met Mike a few times before..
At 8:30 Richard took Miriam & I back to the motel and but just before we left, Jim gets up and asks Dan, John Sweeney & I to come over, which was the Passing of the ONE and TWO hat, pictures are posted in Richard's post. Just before I left I told Dan to stop in our room so we could talk one more time, so a little after 9 Dan knocks and I think it was around 12 when he went to his room…
We had to leave the Hotel @ 6:00 am the next morning, which was uneventful considering Dan & Rob’s return to the Airport, so our return home was relaxing and on time at every stop, plus we were just as glad to be at home again, right like our mini Poodle Taffy, it took her about an hour to settle down, what a trip
Overall what was the feeling? Over the years I had visited a lot of Large Corporations across the East Coast and the people of SolidWorks are amongst the elite in all Industries. I can try and express it this way, it was enjoyable, it was an honor, SolidWorks is more than “Just” another company, SolidWorks Corporation is about their People, the People are all about being Courteous, Helpful, and Professional and you couple that with Character, the end result is Awesome, it’s great being a part of SolidWorks.
So when you struggle using SolidWorks, a huge percent of any issues are Lack of Training, Workflow, Design Intent and User Input, that’s my take..
Again a heartfelt Thank You to Rachel York and Richard Doyle, it is truly an honor to know you..
Mark Johnson - Said it Best - If you Crash send your report - and Don't Wait till SP3, the quicker you can report issues the better...