Thursday, May 6, 2021

Diving into All Things Apple at MacWorld

In my last column, I talked about the major Macworld Expo Keynote

announcements, but those weren’t the only things that I saw of note at

Macworld.

This conference had a lot going on, in fact, almost too much. The show

floor was nigh-overwhelming in what was going on, well, everywhere. Some

conversations with the folks at IDG World Expo confirmed this.

They told me the only empty spots on the show floor were due to vendors

who hadn’t shown for various reasons. There were, I believe, two. In a

related note, IDG World Expo announced that Paul Kent, founder of

Mactivity and long-time Macworld Expo (along with other shows) Conference

chair had been promoted

to vice president in charge of Macworld Expo. Those of us who have

been teaching at Macworld Expo, and involved with the show for a while

are pretty much universally pleased at this. Paul and his team have

always done an excellent job with the conferences, and we’re all sure

that he’ll do the same with the show overall.

For many in enterprise IT, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry is a critical part of

our toolset — lawsuits or not. However, until recently, you really

couldn’t sync a BlackBerry with a Mac at all, and up until Macworld, you

had to buy sync software from a third party, namely PocketMac.

At Macworld, not only was BlackBerry there, but they announced a

licensing deal that allows all BlackBerry owners to get the PocketMac

software for free. Now, PocketMac was never what anyone would call

expensive, but it’s important from an image perspective if nothing else,

as it shows that RIM is viewing its Mac, using customers as a serious

enough number to be worthy of some care and feeding.

The other major handheld sync company, Mark/Space was present, as well,

showing off its Missing Sync line. Although they didn’t have a major

announcement ala PocketMac, they do have some of the best sync software

on the Mac for Palm, Windows Mobile, and Sidekick devices.

The latest revision to their Palm software supports Sync Services in Mac

OS X 10.4. This is a major addition to the product, (and one I hope shows

up in the Windows Mobile version), as it allows you to sync data, like

contacts, events, and notes, with multiple applications, whether you

directly sync with those applications or not. If you have a .Mac account,

you can sync that data with multiple Macs, all without having to connect

your device with any one of them.

I know many question the value of .Mac, but I think Sync Services, and

the potential it has in conjunction with .Mac, has a huge potential

value, especially as more applications integrate Sync Services support.

Garmin was perhaps the biggest non-keynote surprise of Macworld for me.

A company long-known for ignoring the Mac market — almost to the point

of hostility — they were not only at Macworld Expo, but were announcing

that they are going to ”immediately

begin to make its line of GPS and mobile electronics devices

compatible with Mac OS X version 10.4”. If you rely on GPS systems to

get your work done, for a long time you used Windows. You could get

third-party stuff to work with Garmin units, but getting support for new

units was spotty, and functionality wasn’t always there. Garmin

announcing support for the Mac will be a big help to Mac-using Garmin

customers in fields from physical training to sales.

The Session Side

On the conference side of the show, the lineup was excellent, as usual.

Presenting technical material, especially in a session that’s only 90

minutes long, and to an unknown audience of an unknown skill level is

tricky at best, but the presenters always manage to pull it off. This

year had more sold-out conferences, and standing room-only sessions than

I’ve seen in a while. The two-day Mac OS X Server Advanced Power Tools

session was sold out early, as was the AppleScript, Final Cut Pro Studio,

Acrobat and Photoshop sessions. There were quite a few Mac IT conferences

that had to be run twice to acommodate all the attendees who wanted to

see them. (The message for 2007? Register early. Arrive early.)

The Mac IT conference was, as always, full of sessions for use at every

level, from the server room tech to the corner office denizen. It was

quite possible to spend the entire week of Macworld Expo in sessions and

conferences, never hitting the show floor, and still getting more than

your money’s worth. The conferences have always been the not-so-hidden

gem of Macworld, and, at least in my opinion, a major reason for Macworld

surviving where other shows, like Comdex, have failed. Some things you

just can’t match on the Internet, not even with WebEx.

I know I haven’t covered even half of Macworld. I had thought about doing

daily posts, but honestly, Macworld is a week of constant activity, and I

realized I hadn’t planned correctly for daily posting at all. Maybe next

year I can pull that off.

But, as always, I got far more out of Macworld Expo than I spent on

Macworld Expo, and that’s enough to keep me coming back every year. (Oh

yes… From what I can tell, my sessions on SOX and Nagios went well,

even with the demo gods frowning on me in the latter. To all who

attended, and said such kind things to me afterwards, thank you very

much. It’s really nice to know that people get something useful out of

the hardest 90 minutes of my year.)

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