Five for X – Wednesday at Macworld

As I sit here in the media working room pondering the expo and it’s events over the last few days, I can only come to one conclusion: 50% complete is the key to this Macworld Expo & Conference. While there were many announcements and happenings on Wednesday, nothing lived up to the pre-show hype, and nothing was 100% complete. In fact, this entire expo seems like one big work in progress, and I will give you five instances to prove my point.

I arrived for the keynote on Wednesday at 5:35 AM, placing me second in the media line. I was able to get a picture of the first two in the User Conference line, who arrived at 1:30 AM on Wednesday morning. Now if that isn’t commendable, what is? As the morning went on, more and more media arrived, and I met many old friends and many new ones. It was turning out to be a really good day, or so I thought.

1.) Tending to the herd
Traditionally, the media line is like a herd of cattle. If you have never seen a group of grown men and women push, shove, and run for something like kids running onto the playground for recess, it’s quite a sight. What’s more, I’m guilty of it myself. Sad, really. I remember last year, when I was one of the first ten in line, only to end up about 20 rows back in the media section, because of IDG’s disorganization and lack of a battle plan, so to speak.

This year was better for sure. They swiped everyone’s card upon entrance to the North Pavilion (the holding ground for the cattle), which prevented everyone from the outside line from gaining place in the inside line. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all cookies and cream, and no numbers were given (which would be a easy and affordable solution), so it was a mad dash into the keynote hall. I ended up in the 2nd row, no complaints, but it could have been a lot worse, and it was for a few of my colleagues. So while some things were better, others were not. 50%

2.) The day’s first fiasco
Steve is on stage, and everything is great! He even proceeds to announce 10.1. And as he is demonstrating the new upgrade to Apple’s work in progress operating system, the digital camera he is using proceeds to not work. Steve and keynote blunders do not mix, though, and he decided to throw the camera off the stage – literally. I am assuming his intention was to break the camera into pieces. So while he may have damaged the camera, it did not break in half.

It was quite a sad site, really, to see the CEO of a major company throw a temper tantrum characteristic of a preschooler on his first day of school. The camera was thrown, but it didn’t break. Mission only 50% accomplished

3.) Ten dot one
10.1 looks awesome, that’s for sure. It’s new found speed, stability, and features are sure to make it a hit with the Macintosh community. As I was sitting in the keynote hall watching Steve demonstrate the dot one wonder, I was thinking to myself “must upgrade now.” But that was not meant to be, as Apple announced it would not ship until September. 10.1 looks great, but without actual hands on use, another 50% is applicable in this instance.

4.) 10 on X Ð Adobe
Wow, Illustrator really looks great running under X. But where is Photoshop? Not even a demo, even of resizing a photo or free transforming something. How about a blur filter, or rendering a complex image. Nope, nothing, because Photoshop was not shown, or even mentioned. There are three main graphic design tools, and Adobe owns two of them. But only one was shown running on X.

Another extremely interesting product shown was IBM’s ViaVoice, but it is completely dependant on 10.1. Alas, another product teases us and then slips out of our reach. Adobe and IBM both are only 50% there on this one

5.) The Media Working Room
Two words – sardine can. The media room conditions are deplorable, as always. This year, though, they have free lunch, refreshments, and Airport base stations! Two years after Airport is introduced, they finally get it right! Unfortunately, the size of the room and the size of the Press kit room detract from these new improvements. The improvements for the media are not half-bad, but 50% is still the key number here.

Now, that’s enough complaining already. There were some quite positive announcements on Wednesday worthy of mentioning here. The show floor is really great this year. Food is available for purchase right on the floor, and the Mac Beginnings sessions are immense for people just getting into the Macintosh. Vicomsoft and Alsoft are both showing versions of their flagship products for Mac OS X.

Vicomsoft’s Internet Gateway 7 offers many useful improvements over previous versions. New Users and Groups features allow configuration of the Gateway’s powerful Internet filtering and access controls for individuals or groups of users. A major revision of the Internet Gateway’s logging facilities now provides administrators with comprehensive information on Gateway activities, including DHCP assignments, filtering and firewall events. And in my opinion, the best improvement: The product option sets have been simplified to provide standard, plus, pro and education configurations. Moreover, Vicomsoft is offering a 15% discount on Vicomsoft products and upgrades for visitors to their #1737 party table. And buyers of the OS 9 version will be eligible for a free OS X upgrade when it is released later this year.

Finally, I think one company is getting it right. Unfortunately many more did not, and Apple was one of those.

And so, another dance is coming to a close, and I couldn’t be happier. The show this year was in a way, one big coming out party that suffered from horrible timing and some unknown blunders. If 10.1 had been available immediately, Mac users would have been elated, and many more OS X native products would have shipped. If Steve hadn’t thrown a temper tantrum on the stage, perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this column right now. But something was off in that keynote, there was something wrong. The timing was not right, and this coming out party was only 50% what it should have been, and what it had the potential to be.

Perhaps San Francisco will be different. Perhaps next year will provide that spectacular “knock your socks off” product we’ve been waiting for…


Adam Karneboge

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