If you're on vacation this week, then ignore this post.
If you're not on vacation, then there are two places to be this week, NI Week in Austin and the IEEE EMC Symposium in Denver. I've been to both many times, but neither this year (long story).
NI Week has turned into perhaps the premier event for instrumentation. National Instruments shows off their latest and greatest every August, usually in spectacular fashion at the keynote address. These addresses are truly multimedia presentations with technology demonstrations that open your eyes, wide. NI president Dr. James Truchard gives his vision of the company and the future of technology, with a certain knack for being right.
While the technology demonstrations delight the crowd, I still maintain that the biggest cheer at an NI Week keynote came from a small but significant announcement some years ago. That was the day that NI announced it had caved into requests to add the undo feature to LabVIEW.
The NI community of users, developers, and system integrators take the products seen at NI Week and turn them into applications that range from automated test systems to robotics to scientific exploration to embedded systems. If you're not at NI Week, then the best way to make believe that you're there is to follow it on Twitter #NIWeek. If you're at NI Week, be sure to say hello to our roving reporters, Janine Love and Larry Desjardin.
If you're in Austin, be sure to hear some live music on Sixth Street. Austin is known as the "Live music capital of the world" and with good reason. In fact, Austin is the only place where I will still buy music on CD. That's at Waterloo Records, on the corner of Sixth and Lamar. It's about a 10-block walk from the convention center. I've made that walk several times in the Texas summer heat.
Waterloo Records, Austin
The photo shows the front of the store, but while you're there, sneak around the side of the building to Amy's Ice Cream at 1012 W. 6th Street. Then, walk diagonally across the street to the flagship store of Whole Foods Market. If you have a Whole Foods in your area (there are many here in Boston), then you must see this place.
You absolutely must see the bats at the Congress Ave. bridge. Every night at dusk, you can see over 1 million bats fly out for their evening meals. It's quite a sight. But, nobody ever tells you to see them come home in the morning. It's a different experience.
When the bats leave in the evening, they fly out smoothly from under the bridge. It looks like a giant wave. But, they don't come in the same way. One year, before NI Week was big enough to occupy the convention center, the IEEE EMC Symposium was in Austin on the same week. I had a breakfast meeting at a hotel just on the other side of the bridge from downtown. I parked near the convention center and walked over the Congress Ave. bridge at 7:00 a.m.. Here's what happened.
You see, when the bats come home for the day, they fly high over the bridge, pull in their wings, and fall. Then, just before hitting the bridge, they open their wings and swoop under the bridge. If you walk the bridge when they're coming, it rains bats. It's a scary moment the first time you see it. But, people were walking across and not even looking. That's when I realized it's perfectly safe.
To Page 2: EMC Symposium