A quick walk of Macworld.
I wanted to walk the entire floor, and take pictures of cool things along the way, and after two full days here, I have seen maybe 50%. This show is big, and it is crammed full of people.
Digression: As I walked to BART (the local commuter train) last night, I saw two business men standing on Market Street in San Francisco trying to get a cab. One looks at the other and says, “Why can’t we get a cab tonight?” To which the other answers, “It is all these damn Mac geeks.” Made me smile, because there was a long line of cabs at the convention center, just waiting for people to use them and few were. Most of the Mac PEOPLE I saw were walking!
Anyway, here is my random ramble through Mac World, part 1. I hope to take some more pictures on Friday, and post them here on Saturday.
But first, I, like David Every, spent some time in the Apple booth. A word to Apple: your booth people REALLY need to loosen up. Maybe it is just not fun to work there any more, or maybe they are tired of the same questions al day, but my time there on Wednesday was ANYTHING but fun and many of the Apple both people are acting like jerks. Besides displaying serious attitude problems, they seemed totally annoyed to have to actually talk to people in most cases. Seemed especially true around the MacBook and new iMacs. I watched person after person try to ask questions, only to see an Apple booth employee roll their eyes or, in many cases, just walk away. Also like David, when they say my media badge, many walked away immediately, afraid to talk to me. Others said nothing at all as if they did not hear me, and some would answer with Apple’s typical “no comment” stock answer.
What are you hiding Apple? Afraid the press might all discover that the new Intel Duo Chip is not as fast as Steve claims? I am taking bets here, because Spec benchmarks are NOT real world tests, and when it comes to real world tasks, what will we find? Afraid we might see that applications in Rosetta, while very cool that they run, actually run slow? Oh yea, no real software yet, so we will just have to wait and see won’t we. As if you all don’t know. I, however, was actually asked to stop playing with a new iMac 20” when I launched Photoshop (in Rosetta) and tried to apply a complex filter to an image. As the Mac sat and spun and spun, the Apple rep took the mouse from me and said, “OK, let me take over.” Truth be told, it did take a long time. Much longer then a machine that runs at 4 times the speed should have taken, even running in Rosetta.
But frankly, I was impressed as once again as Apple makes a major hardware or software transition and make it happens seamlessly. The new Macs, while not as speedy as I hoped, seemed to run everything just fine without problems. It was impossible to tell that there was not a G4 or G5 inside these machines, they looked and behaved just as all Mac have always done. Kudos to Apple for making yet another difficult transition looks easy.
As for buying? Well, I have been asked this question a lot these last few days. This is my personal opinion only: On the iMacs, I will wait for more native software to be available, and the second generation of the chip before I buy. While good, Rosetta is not super fast, and I see little advantage to buying a new Intel Mac this early since the G5’s will be supported for some time to come. AND, I remember buying an 6100 when the PowerPCs first came out and so much software was running in the 68K emulator, it damn was it slow. Again, while seamless, the 6100 was not as fast as my 68040 Quadra 900 series machine even though Apple kept telling us how fast the original PowerPCs were. Eventually, after about a year and the 8500 series came out, it became a lot faster. If you still want speed, get a dual or quad G5. A year from now, when the next Intel chip is out, and it is faster, and more software is Intel native, then will be the time to consider the new machines in my view. Still, if you are in the market for a new PowerBook, and you are not a high power computer user, the new MacBook is a very cool product. The new MacBook is thinner than the 15” today, with a slightly larger and much brighter screen as well, and for basic office and travel productivity, it will be a great machine.
Ok, now, back to the convention floor, already in progress (thanks Bill)
3D Weather was an interesting program. Reminded me of Google Earth in a small way, with real time live updating clouds and weather patterns, and some closer views of the earth from space. Unlike Google Earth, this is $29.
John Nemo and I checked out the Brenthaven booth. Brenthaven has gone color, with bags in blue, brown, and two-tone black/gray. In my usual quest for the best bag, I was pleased to see a new messenger style bag from them, also in some cool colors, which they hope will compete with some of those from Timbuk2. I hope to review one soon, and I will let you know. My quest continues (Note, their bag is for the 15”, so I will have to use my 12” PowerBook this time.)
This is typical of the crowd as you milled around the floor.
DeepFreez for the Mac. An interesting program that snapshots and then freezes the configuration of your Mac. Should it crash, when you restart, it goes back to the frozen configuration. An interesting idea, and I hope to play with this to see if it really works. Basically, this freezes your main drive, so what happens when you read mail into Entourage and then crash. I suspect this will take a lot of work to get right, but when set up correctly, will make your machine nearly fool proof.
EyeTV is out with version 2, and some other cool products, including a small ATSC HDTV tuner for the Mac. Turns your MacMini into that living room media center you always wanted it to be.
This entire area was dedicated to games for the Mac, Not much larger than last year, but a LOT more people playing!
Virus and Spam blockers were showing up on the floor from new companies. Seems that some of these companies have logged 10 to 20 Ad-ware or phishing programs attacking the Mac lately. This is one company trying to protect your Mac. Seems with the loss of tools from Symantec (what DID happen to Norton System Works and do you think they will ever come back) many companies are hoping that you, like others, have had enough of disappearing software for the Mac from Symantec and will try something new.
A quick pass through Intuit to ask the magic question: Now that bozos at H&R Block have left Mac users in the weeds, will TurboTax be able to read in last year’s TaxCut files so people can switch to TurboTax. Seems the answer is “NO” I am sorry to say, but I made a strong request that they seriously consider it soon. Write Intuit if you are a previous TaxCut person; let them know you will but their software if they will solve your issue. I was a Beta tester of TurboTax this year, much more solid than previous years.
This was a very cool product from a company called iSee. You slip your iPod into the back of this unit, and it turns the HD inside your iPod into a digital video recorder. The larger screen was MUCH better for viewing videos than a video iPod, and this can be set up to record shows as well. Hope to see a review of this product soon. Very cool.
This year, LaCie was into some very silly new case designs. They hired designers from around the world to design some new cases. Above, John is with Melissa from LaCie holding small, plastic cased USB drives. Unfortunately, this picture does not do the color justice, as this was baby blue and a BRIGHT shocking pink. But wait.
LaCie has some other silly looking drives too. The Lego looking blocks are actually a new drive design that stacks, no surprise, amazingly well. Sitting in front of the block drives is LaCie’s new rugged portable drive. To me, this looked like digital voltmeter in orange.
On a more serious note, LaCie introduced the world’s smallest (I am guessing here) RAID drive. This small box, which sort of looks like a digital projector, houses two small 2.25” dick drives to create an amazingly small 320GB Raid 0 drive.
And lastly, one of my favorite products this year from LaCie was a portable drive with a thumb scanner built in. Your data can be encrypted onto the drive and protected by you’re your fingerprint. I have often worried about, “What if I loose or someone steals my portable drive?” Well, this takes some of the worry away. While adding a small incremental cost, you can allow up to 5 people access to your drive. Look for a review of this product later as well. Very cool.
Sorry for the crappy picture, but MacControl want to bring home theatre automation to your Macintosh. With both on-screen controls, or with the addition of a $400 VERY universal remote, you Mac becomes the media control center for your home.
This small little device is controlled from you Mac and interfaces to IR blasters. When you send a command to your Mac, this device will translate it to a command to turn on your stereo, TV, plasma display, VCR, or other remote controlled device. There is even a web interface under development to allow a web pad or small web browser (like an Audrey maybe?) to control you living room fun. This device was still a little early, but look for it sometime this year.
A cool idea from Mophie (and hi to a regular MyMac readerI lost your card, please email me!) for your iPod. First, you put your iPod in one of their cases. Then, this case can easily slip into one of a number of accessory cases (see the gray iPod case and the black accessory case) to add not only additional protection for your iPod, but new functionality as well. In this case, the iPod has been put into an FM transmitter case for listening in the car. See them at www.mophie.com. Of all the iPod accessories, this one was my favorite!
Netopia continues to show us new improvements to Timbuktu. New this year is the ability to actually lock out the keyboard and or screen on the computer you are controlling. Trying to fix someone’s Mac remotely and they keep messing with the mouse or keyboard? Simply lock them out and continue your work. Do not want them to see you type names and passwords? Remotely turn off their screen. Yet another cool release of Timbuktu from Netpoia.
Speaking of Timbuk2 (different spelling), John is checking out that lime green case back there to match his line green cap! (Where is your cap here John?) Lots of new designs and colors from bag maker Timbuk2, one of my favorite bags, as you well know.
As the sun sets on another day of Macworld, I am heading home. Let us know if there is something you want to see and if you post it here soon enough, we will try very hard on Friday to take a picture and post it the next day.
I am off to catch the train.