Last week, Maplesoft exhibited at NI Week in Austin, Texas, the primary conference for the National Instruments (NI) user community. They are best known for their data acquisition and testing hardware. More recently, through their software product LabVIEW, they have been becoming significant in the general modeling and simulation space. We had the usual booth + a couple of presentation slots. Some hilights and lolights of the conference (as far as we were concerned):
  • the general trend in engineering to apply more advanced mathematical techniques continues to grow. The NI community is a bastion of "old-school" engineering that is struggling to shift from a data-centric to a modeling and design worldview. To our pleasant surprise the number of visitors, quality of questions, attendees at our presentatation, all increased from past years.
  • the Numerical Math Consortium was officially launched. See Numerical Mathematics Consortium?" for details. The session however was very lightly attended. It appears that the engineering crowd has not yet caught up with math computation standards as a topic of general interest ... go figure.
  • we scored a (temporarily) free Apple iMac G5. The Apple rep was pushing free machines (for the duration of the exhibit) onto exhibitors whose software supported this platform (ours does) ... very cool machines and I learned a bit more about the Mac culture. BTW, does anyone have any comments or intentions on the newly announced Mac+Intel chip machines? Feel free to offer some insights.
  • I finally had a chance to explore Austin a bit. Got into town over the weekend and had a chance to tour a bit. Very pleasant though extremely hot place. Sixth Street entertainment district, Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library, Historical museum, and state capitol were part of the itinirary. Learning a bit about the history and culture of this particular state offers (IMHO) some insight into the various American dimensions of the modern world ... topic for another day.
  • business aside, the number one memory from the trip was the sight of a bzillion bats flying from the Congress Street bridge at dusk. This is a famous Austin activity ... crowds gather each night to see an endless parade of these creatures ... keeps the tourists coming and the mosquitos controlled.
I'm sure many of you are not the least bit interested in what we do at various conferences and things ... part of the goal of this post (among others) is to give you a sense of what happens behind the scenes at the company ... we can't all be griping about computation speed all the time :-) T4.

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