Antici… pation (Macworld Expo)

So here I am, waiting for the show. In a few hours, you’re going to be bombarded with every Mac website (including this one), discussing what was released. But I figured I’d relay a few stories about what it like being at the show, waiting for the release.

First, Pasadena high-society Women have nothing on Mac-Heads in the ways of gossip when it comes to MacWorld and new product announcements. “Oh, John, did you hear what’s going to be released? I heard Marsha tell Sally that Sue’s cousin who works at Apple told him that he read on the Rumor sites, that we’re getting” and so on. It is the talk of the town.

I went out last night with the Mac Managers get together; and it was both a rumor fest, and usual game of “My Company is dumber (listens to me less) than yours”. I was walking to the party exchanging stories of both types with little straight black Al. Seems if you’re one of two black IT people named Al in all of Macdom, you might want to make sure that people don’t confuse you with the other one; big gay Al. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Which reminds me of the other pastime at Mac shows; the parties or meeting – the places to go to gossip or tell stories. I’ve got more to do every evening, or off property, than during the day. There’s always this meeting or that event, with just you and all your virtual acquaintances, finally face to face. Talking, laughing, trying to explain that you were just kidding when you accused his parents of being brothers, and that you don’t REALLY think he has a pair of jack boots.

I’ve learned that Press people and IT people especially seem to have the ability to consume large quantities of intoxicating beverages. The first night I arrived consisted of a dozen geeks in a hotel room (mine and my roommates) with two bottles of bourbon and diet coke; that devolved into going to the bar so we could pay more for drinks, and have some food to absorb the alcohol. Sadly, I have a light case of colitis, and have never been a huge drinker, so this restricts my fun to an occasional beer or mixed drink. But being completely sober does give me time to people watch. My wife’s words keep going through my head.

My wife explained to me that in this world, there are Nerds, Geeks and Dorks. Nerds are people that just don’t have any social skills at all; in fashion, communication, or sense of people around them not wanting to talk or listen to the story and who are desperately trying to escape the conversation that the nerd won’t let them leave (and will follow them around still telling them the story that they are obviously trying to escape from, or at least the story-teller). Dorks, almost get it – they were either once nerds, but have grown, or they were never socially inept enough to be a real nerd. They wear reasonable clothes (with occasional faux pas), and they are the ones that may be aware enough to realize AFTER they told the joke that just missed, that they didn’t quite hit the mark. Nerds never realized they’ve leapt across the line, and need to go back. And geeks are the ones that may get it, but just don’t care, and ramble on about technology anyways, or will explain to your wife how the electrical system of her car or computer works, when she just wanted to know why it wouldn’t start or turn-on, and just wants you to shut-up and fix it.

According to my wife, I’m a geek, that would be a dork if it weren’t for her constant vigilance and reminding me that Red and Orange should never EVER be worn together. She doesn’t understand that while I might know better, there are some times that I just really don’t care. But with my wife’s enlightenment, I can now see that the Mac world is pleasantly littered with all three; geeks, dorks and nerds. Oh, and marketing/sales people that would rather talk about quotas and charming people out of their underpants than just the exciting technology (unless the technology leads to them charming someone out of their underpants). It makes for some amusing parties and events.

Now when it comes to gossip, I have some inside scoops; but Apple is good enough at disinformation that it could be wrong, I wouldn’t want to get the people I know in trouble, and it doesn’t really matter since Apple will release it in a few hours anyways. And with the degrees of stories that I’ve heard over the last night, I’m having a tough time remembering who said what – and if I thought the G5 Powered iPod was from a reliable source, or that nerd that kept following me around all night. I did have a plan to get confirmation; John Nemo, David Weeks, and I were in the press room, and just across the hall was the Expo floor. (Bakari showed up later, Roger and Owen will show up today). I suggested that John distract the guards, and since David is a pilot that he try to “fly” towards the draped Apple booth using a guy wire and circus stunts, and while the platoon of large security guards were firing up at him, I could sneak under the black drapes at the back with the digital camera, and get you all the real scoop on the latest releases. But my colleagues were too selfish (and self preserving) to do this for you. You should remember their lack of sacrifice.

I was talking to Shawn King of “Your Mac Life”, while we were both standing there, gossiping about what we heard was behind the black curtain, and he relayed that he took a picture of the curtains in Paris Expo a couple years back, just to get people excited about the show, and the security guards descended on him like vultures on a carcass; and promptly and physically removed him from the show – while he was explaining to them, “I wasn’t taking a picture of any machines, just the booth!” Fortunately, they forgot to take his pass, so he just returned later. But it seems, that even jokes about security and getting past the curtains have to be done in hushed tones, and while looking over your shoulders.

There are things I’m looking forward to. The energy and excitement of the Keynote is palpable. From waiting in line, to waiting in the world’s least comfortable convention chairs, you can sense the nerdish glee all around you. And you can give up any hope of being elevated to dork or geek status when the doors open, and people actually run for their seats because they are so excited. And that’s if you’re in the Press area – it’s worse for the unwashed masses in general admittance. The VIP’s are excitable too; they just hide it better and have escorts slowing them down (saving their dignity). But there are the usual downsides as well. My first day in, I went on a walking tour of the city. I sometimes drive to my mailbox, because a driveway is a long walk (or more because it is cold/snowing outside, but still). I had new shoes, with all the padding of Chinese peasant slippers, and I’ve already walked more at this show, than I did all last year, except for the other tradeshows. My dogs aren’t barking, they more sound like the kennel when the Fire-Engine or Ambulance goes by. And I’ve got four or more days of show to go. It is not uncommon to see young show goers ambling around like tired octogenarians by the middle of the show. A small price to pay, because we seem to return to site of self flagulation yearly.

Well, I’m off to stand in line and gossip, while eagerly waiting for Steve to hit me with his reality distortion field, and my three favorite words in the English Language, “one more thing”.


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