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The Mac is Back!

I know, I know, it never went away. But when I flew to Boston seated next to Greg Jozwiak a few years ago (at a “down” time in Apple’s fortunes), and when the Apple stock price lost half its value in after-hours trading in 2000 while I was [a Netscape guy] seated at my desk at Apple (no causal relationship :-)  ), a lot of us secretly wondered what we would use for a computer in our future if anything bad happened to Apple…

I have attended all but one of the opening days of exhibits at Macworld San Francisco for over 15 years. When I was fortunate enough to work for a company that valued my Mac expertise 😉 , my employer would even buy me a pass that allowed sessions and keynote. When I did not, I even took a vacation day to make sure that NOTHING interfered with my attendance. Today’s opening day of exhibits was the grandest that I have seen in about 10 years!

No, today was not easy. Exhibits were to open at 11 AM. I had to balance my arrival time in San Francisco with getting enough sleep. I arrived at the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station in Dublin-Pleasanton at about 7:30 AM (too late). Dublin and Pleasanton BART parking filled up shortly after the station was initially opened. Through the years, they have added more and more parking space, and now a parking garage is under construction. Folks have exploited the parking shortage by charging a $1/day fee for the crowded lots. I drove around for awhile, and then drove to the Castro Valley BART station, one stop closer to San Francisco. It was the same story. BART has aggravated the morning shortage by reserving many spots until 10 AM, so that later commuters would have a place to park. At least Castro Valley does not charge to park! I continued my journey to the next stop, Bay Fair, and managed to find a place to park. Bay Fair (in San Leandro) is roughly half of the distance from Livermore to San Francisco.

If your community implements public transportation, be careful that it is prepared to cope with SUCCESS!

The trip to San Francisco was uneventful, but the story at the Moscone Center was one of very bad logistics. Moscone West would not open its doors to allow people to pick up their badges, even if they had preregistered, until Steve finished his Keynote at about 10:45 AM. Usually, people can pick up their badges, and then wait for the doors of exhibit halls to open after the Keynote. Today, thousands stood outside Moscone West waiting for the doors to open. It almost seemed like it was deliberate, for the Press. :-)

After the doors opened, the lines forming to pick up badges merged to become mob-like (but polite). The placement of one “pick-up-your-badge-here” station, at the bottom of an escalator bank, was particularly unfortunate (or stupid, if you don’t believe in fortune). In any case, I am good in crowds, and succeeded in picking up my badge with some of the earliest folks to do so.

Some notable memories are: a very nice lady from Parliant, an Ottawa company whose excellent software (and hardware) I use in handling telephony (Mac only), a helpful salesperson from Parallels who asked me what I was going to do with their demo software (I replied “benchmark it against VMware‘s”), a presenter on Filemaker 9 (no, I did not win the upgrade), and a very helpful engineer from Apple.

I told the Apple engineer that I was a little disappointed, because the laptop that they released at the show (the MacBook Air) was not the laptop that I hoped they would. I told him that I thought that Apple will sell a lot of the MacBook Air laptops, to managers who think that reading email, attending meetings, making decisions, or barking orders for 8 hours a day over a telephone (as one of my former directors used to do) qualifies as “work.” :-) In any case, those are the folks who have the money, and creating and selling products for the people who have the money is generally a “good thing.” :-) I told the Apple engineer that I will have to wait for the corresponding version of the MacBook Pro, with lots of power to push pixels around and lots of screen territory to display them. After all, I have been waiting several years already, since it is important to gauge the right time to upgrade hardware, if one cannot do so frequently. The MacBook Air is a wonderful machine, just not the one that I need right now.

The tone of the show was that of a party: Google was there in force, a Garmin rep gave me a CD of their software to facilitate handling GPS data between Garmin hardware and Macs, there were a lot of presentations on podcasting (audio and video), photography, music on Mac, and the usual big booths from the “heavy hitters” (Adobe, Canon, Epson, Google, Microsoft, Filemaker, Nikon, HP, Casio, and many, many others). When Apple is doing well (and they are doing VERY well right now), the numbers of vendors, attendees, and the overall tone, change.

I look forward to finding time over the next day or two to watch Steve Jobs deliver his Keynote (in a QuickTime replay). I always watch Steve’s Keynotes, because I think that almost all of us can learn a thing or two about presentations and demonstrations from the man. Regardless of what you think of Mr. Jobs, you will almost certainly have to agree that he is a master of presentation, and that he illustrates the value of preparation in his deliveries.

The Mac is Back in force. Vendors and customers are at Macworld 2008 San Francisco in the largest numbers in (my) recent memory. With a little bit of luck, I may even get to return to the show later in the week.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo  

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