Wow, this week has flown by. It’s been two days since I updated and most of it was a blur. I actually intended to write about my experience yesterday but I was so tired I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Thursday was the first day of intense breakout sessions. There were twice as many as the day before and it was even harder to choose what to attend. I was able to see “Making Ideas Happen in the Creative World” with Scott Belsky, “Good vs. Great Design” with one of my personal favorites Cameron Moll, “Everything I know I learned from Video Games” with Dave Werner and “Variations on a Rectangle” (magazine design) with DJ Stout.

Probably the most helpful, especially in terms of design and inspiration was Cameron. It was a really great session with lots of insight on pushing your ideas to the next level. The video game session with Dave Werner was also interesting from a software standpoint. They’ve developed a great product in Atmosphir that’s essentially a “create your own game” platform. It looks very slick and I hope they succeed with their product.

We also had the chance to visit the exhibitions themselves and pick up some schwag. When I say some, I mean 6 bags full. I actually beat my previous record of “free t-shirts” from a computer conference in high-school with a resounding 9 shirts. A couple hats, toys, books and even a messenger bag are all mixed in there along with all the brochures and info sheets about various products. There was actually quite a number of paper companies, which I found rather odd. I was always under the impression that designers usually found and then used a printer that suited their needs and that the decision for a specific brand of paper was usually up to that printer. I guess a designer could ask for Monadnock paper instead of Mohawk, but I doubt a printer is going to go find, buy and ship in a special paper from some unknown paper company just for a certain job. More likely they’ll just suggest something similar from what stock they have. Who knows.

Paper is something that both facinates me from a strictly product standpoint as well as is a non-issue for me unless we’re talking about photo papers. Regardless, it was interesting to talk to people about their various products.

Thursday I decided to take it easy and just chill at the hotel. These sessions are hours long and we’re walking everywhere so I was pretty tired. My coworkers and I go some food and called it a night early.

Today I got up early and went to the “Early Morning Photoshop Show” presented by Adobe. It was probably the best session from the entire conference. I got more out that hour and a half than most anything so far. There are literally hundreds of little, tiny updates and changes to the CS4 Suite that I hadn’t figured out yet. It was very interesting to see how and why Adobe has updated what they did. By the way, if you have CS4, you’re going to want to check out the Configurator app. Trust me.

After that there were a couple less memorable sessions and a couple pretty good ones, including “Web Strategy that Works” with Mark O’Brian. The main focus of that was web clarity, marketing, search engine strategies and other random tips but the real focus was on creating and maintaining a creative writing schedule, something I’ve struggled with from time to time. There were a few good tips on staying true to your content, how to get over writers block, that sort of thing. Very helpful.

That’s about it for today. Lauren is driving up from Houston to join me for the weekend and I’m really excited about that. We haven’t been able to get away for quite a while and I think we’re way overdue. I’ve got a couple more classes first thing tomorrow, but after lunch we’ll be on our own and we plan on exploring Austin a little bit. I haven’t had a chance to go see the capital yet, so that’s definitely on my to-do list. I’ll try and share some pictures when we get back.

Matt out.