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Reading the future at Macworld Expo SF

As I ascended the escalator at Macworld Expo this evening, I read a large banner proclaiming Macworld Expo 2010 (January 4-8, 2010) to be “the start of a new era.”

Tonight I noticed the title of  Tom Krazit’s CNET article, reposted at CNN.com, to be “Apple’s last Macworld is beginning of new era.”

Coincidence? :-) Your call….

Macworld Expo 2009 is an interesting one. The Expo started out quietly, not at all like the polite chaos of Macworld Expo 2008. In fact, it was so quiet up until about half an hour before the exhibits opened at 11 AM, that I was actually a little bit worried. I attended a number of lightly attended Expos over the last 15 years at darker times in Apple’s history. At about 10:30 AM in Moscone North, a flood of people descended the bank of escalators. Later that morning, it was “shoulder-to-shoulder” in the aisles of Moscone South.

False alarm….

Of course, there was no Adobe booth, which would have occupied a good bit of space, but there was a LOT of activity and excitement.

Maybe it’s just me (I don’t think so), but one of the main questions that I ask in evaluating technology for my own use is, “Will the technology enhance the quality of my life?” (I have had technology thrust upon me as the result of job responsibilities that DEFINITELY did not enhance my life – pagers come to mind.) :-) One of the “two-edged swords” (technologies that can be used for “good” or “evil”) is the phenomenon of geotagging and its ramifications. I had a great time today speaking with four gentlemen from Google about possible uses of GPS coordinate data with my photographs and about Picasa for Mac (now released in beta). Also today, Apple announced the improvement of its iPhoto product (part of the iLife suite) to include capabilities for face determination (Is this a face?), facial recognition (Is this “Bob’s” face? And by the way, who is that other person in the photo at that location?) and geotagging information (Where was this photo of Bob and the other person taken?) – called “Faces” and “Places” by Apple. The facial recognition software makes guesses about the identity of faces in a collection of photos, based upon the identification in one photo, and asks the user for confirmation (that this is, indeed, “Bob”). Along with other EXIF data (e.g. the date and time of the photograph) that is present, there is a lot of personal information that raises security and privacy questions in my mind, especially if that information is “beamed” through the air. (It even raises security and privacy concerns in my mind if all the information passes through wires.) :-) But that is just me thinking about Folsom Street….

I have mixed emotions about the new 17-inch MacBook Pro. In addition to the obvious incremental improvements (GeForce 9600 GT graphics, strong unibody enclosure, greater color gamut,  cpu speed, bus speed, and up to 8 GB of RAM) over the previous (my own machine) edition of the 17-inch MacBook Pro, and the optional “nonglare screen” (thank goodness! Is the regular one the “glare screen?” :-) ), there was the mixed blessing of an integral battery that has up to 8 hours of battery life and which “can be recharged up to 1000 times” (more than three times the lifespan of typical notebook batteries – up to five years,” but which cannot be replaced (correct?). I am not sure that this feature would be on my list of requests, but maybe I don’t have as much money to spend on laptop upgrades as some Apple customers. (I am quite sure of that!) :-)

(Note added January 7, 2009: It struck me that if Apple had been less concerned with being able to advertise “The world’s thinnest and lightest 17-inch notebook,” it might have been able to come to a better engineering solution with regard to the battery. Perhaps the current solution is a “stop-gap measure” until better battery technology comes along. I thought about the new 17-inch MacBook Pro. When you buy it new, the clock starts ticking. Even if you sell it before it becomes a lifeless chunk of aluminum [maybe this doesn’t happen if you keep it plugged in?], the buyer of the used computer knows roughly how much life is left, at the most optimistic. What will this do to your resale value? Does Apple have other plans for preventing the machine from becoming a lifeless chunk of aluminum? I certainly do not know. I know that I am still pretty happy that I made my purchase of the previous, slightly less capable, machine during the summer of 2008.)

There were other iWork and iLife improvements as well, which you can read about. You can also watch Philip Schiller’s Keynote Address.

What will the future bring? Who knows? :-)

It probably depends a lot upon whether we use technology for good, to enhance the quality of our lives, or for evil.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide! If you don’t see what you want or would like to receive an email when new photos are up on the site, send us an email at info@cheshirecatphoto.com.

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