I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
- Psalms 34:4
A Day At Mac Expo
Wednesday 11 January 2006, 1:01 am
Keywords: Computer Topics
I stayed up last night to read the three latest issues of
MacWorld magazine, see what I might be missing in the world of Mac,
and to determine what I might need to seek out at the show.
Consequently, my day started a little late.
First, I headed to
where I found live coverage of the keynote speech in progress.
The technology they used to update just one line of the page
every minute was pretty cool.
Eventally I dragged myself out the door, to Starbucks, to the
gas station, and then 50 miles up the peninsula to San Francisco.
The garage at Fifth and Mission was full, and I was directed to
The Ellis-O'Farrell Garage, on the other side of Market Street.
About the same walking distance to Moscone, but it took extra
time to get there, and getting out afterward was a PITA.
Registration was pretty simple compared to previous years. I already
had a badge that I'd ordered online (for free!) So I just had to
bring it to a booth where they swiped it and put it in a holder.
is a replacement for PowerPoint for use in church services. It displays
song lyrics, Bible passages, or anything else you might want to project.
When projecting song lyrics, PowerPoint has the problem that the user
never knows exactly where in the presentation he is. So if the verses
of the song are sung out of order, it's hard to go back and forth to
the correct slide. LiveWorship displays all the slides on one monitor,
and the actual selected slide on a second monitor that is also connected
to the projector. The slides come with "templates" (background images
or even video). The program runs on both Mac and Windows. I'm going to
get my church to try it out.
Berklee College of Music
has an extension program where you can study music online.
They also had a catalog of books published by their press.
Near their booth, I found stacks of free magazines, Mix,
Remix, and Electronic Musician. I picked up the magazines
and the brochures. Will take a look at them later.
has colorful camera and laptop bags, but they are way too expensive for me.
I had a long talk with the people at Red Rock Software
about their program DeltaGraph. It is available for Mac and Windows,
but not for Unix. I was inquiring how I might use it on the web site
for displaying various kinds of data. It turns out I'd have to write
a script to download the data from the site, feed it into DeltaGraph
and write the output to a picture file, then upload the picture file
back to the web site. This would involve a strange combination of
shell scripts, AppleScript, and perhaps Automator (should I ever
upgrade to Tiger). Sounds like fun. Worth $200 just for some fun?
I'll have to take another look at Fetch, from Fetch Softworks
I used to use it many years ago on System 7. But not so much recently
for one reason or another. Maybe it used to be free, and now it costs
money? But I've not been all that happy with the alternatives I've
tried: CyberDuck, Captain FTP, RBrowser, and Yummy FTP. Anarchie
was always my favorite in the old days, but it has evolved into a mondo
expensive tool for sysadmins.
I grabbed a card for TypeIt4Me
a program that expands your abbreviations. Useful if you type a lot,
which I do. This is the kind of program that always intrigues me, but
once I buy them I never use them as much as I expected to. Will take
another look at this one.
is a program that allows you to catalog your books, CDs, videos, and
games. I really need it, especially for books. But it requires an
iSight or some other firewire camera. I have a Logitech Quick Cam,
a USB device. When I tried running the program a year ago, it actually
crashed my Mac when I tried to access that camera. It takes a heck of
a lot to completely crash Mac OS X! I told them of my experience and
they asked me to try it again. The program has had several upgrades
this year and whatever problem I had then, should be gone now. I could
just buy an iSight camera at a show special price of $139, but that's
not much of a discount, and anyway, it is really worth that much to
catalog my books?
had the latest version of Peak LE 5 from Bias
selling for $79. In past years I've been able to buy it for only $49.
Bias has also increased the upgrade prices on their web site.
Since this is the program I use a lot but also hate, maybe it's time
to think about switching to one of its competitors, like Sound Studio
had a show special of $99 for Toast 7 with Jam 6. Maybe I'll switch
to using that instead of Peak. I've been using Toast 5 Titanium for
years, and I've felt no need to upgrade, but this upgrade pricing is
hard to resist.
was selling Retrospect Desktop 6.1 from Dantz
for $97, but it's hard to justify paying anything at all for software
that gets such poor reviews. I used to love Retrospect on System 7,
but now the personal versions get no respect. When I do backups at
all, I used Backup Toolkit which I think has evolved into Prosoft.
But mostly I just drag a bunch of files from one disk to another.
The MacAlly booth
had something called the
that lets you orient your PowerBook vertically. This raises the
height of the screen and gives space to put a keyboard in front.
I've been looking for something like this for a while.
The folks at the MacAlly booth also showed me something called the
NDAS External Enclosure. It is a 3.5" hard drive enclosure that
has USB 2.0 and network connections. I guess NDAS stands for
"Network Direct Attached Storage" and you can find out more about
it on the Ximeta web page
According to the MacAlly people, the advantage of NDAS over NAS
is that the drive doesn't actually have an IP address or appear
on the network, but you must install a driver on each PC or Mac
that will have access to the drive. I'm trying to find an NAS
drive that I can use to backup my Mac and Mary's PC, but the
NAS units I've seen have one or both of two problems: (1) the
disk must be formatted with a proprietary format, (2) the drive
is compatible with only PC (usually) or Mac (rarely), but not
both. This particular unit is $99 but you must supply your own
drive. The drive can be formatted for either Mac or PC. They
suggested I format it for PC first and then Mac, but that didn't
make any sense to me. I would want to use the Mac to format
two different partitions. They also suggested I just format for
PC and the Mac would be able to read and write to it. Hmmm...
had some interesting computer tables called the iGo, but the keyboard
trays aren't large enough for my ergonomic setup, and the $333 price
tag is more than I pay for a more-capable Anthro Cart.
is a program that helps you post and manage eBay auctions. I've bought
lots of stuff on eBay but never bought any. Now I find that I need to
sell some items from my dad's estate. So maybe now is the time to start
selling on eBay. Not having tried to use eBay's tools, I don't know
whether something like Garage Sale is really necessary. But I suspect
it is. Again, will take another look at it.
Ok. I bought something!
sells ink cartridges for my Canon i560 printer for $4 each.
I bought three black and three of each color last year, and I just
popped the last one into the printer last night. So I bought enough
to last another year. It costs more than refilling the cartidges
from a bottle, but it's a lot less bother. And they tossed in a
sampler pack of all their photo papers.
I promised to take a look at ReadIris Pro 11 OCR software from
I have a 100-page book scanned into PDF as pictures. I'd like to
convert it to text. Is it worth $99 to do this? And will it work?
I've never used any OCR software that actually worked. If I found
one, I might be scanning square dance fliers "right and left."
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
has leather iPod cases that look as good in person as they did in
the magazine photos. But they weren't selling at the show. A look
at their web site shows that they are available for 4G-5G and Nano,
but maybe not for other models. I expect that my 2G model is too
thick for even their largest case.
I found one neat book each at the O'Reilly and Peachpit booths.
Well, actually I found lots of books at each booth and the Wiley
booth as well, but I found these two books that just tugged at me.
Bulletproof Web Design by Dan Cederholm
shows how to avoid mistakes that prevent your web page from reaching
the widest possible audience (that is, the widest possible range of
Designing Interfaces by Jennifer Tidwell
covers some areas that seem similar to the
I studied in school a few years ago:
affordances, visual hierarchy, navigational distance, and the use of color.
The book vendors at Expo usually offer a discount of 20-25 percent,
but even that is more expensive than just buying them on Amazon
(and opting for free shipping).
I have a couple of gift certificates for Borders and Amazon that
should just about cover it.
has a 30 percent discount on just about everything, if you call them
on the phone and ask for the show special. I'm interested in the
Anthro Cart, and I have some specific needs. For years I've used a
pretty big 4x4 foot corner unit with separately-adjustable CRT and
keyboard shelves. It's pretty cool. But last year I donated my
21-inch CRT to the church and got this wonderful 19-inch Acer LCD.
So I don't need nearly as much space as I did before. I figure I can
get the keyboard and screen into a 30x24 inch space, have a cozier
setup, and free up some space in my office (probably for another
has a need little product called the Half Keyboard. I don't really
want to type on half a keyboard, but what I really do want is to
have a portable ergonomic setup. I use a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard
at home, but typing on the PowerBook keyboard while traveling is
painful to my wrists. The Half Keyboard might work if either (1)
I could obtain the other half keyboard also, but it's not available;
or (2) I could just use the Half Keyboard with my left hand and the
regular PowerBook keyboard with my right hand. I might be able to
find a comfortable separate wrist position. What I can't figure
out is why Matias charges $99 for a Half Keyboard and $49 for a
full keyboard. I think someone there flunked math.
Anybody know anything about the Virtual Training Company
They have lots of CD-ROM based instruction, even on technical topics
Are these things really worth $99 a pop? (Or two for $99, show special.)
I don't know. I dno't know how I would figure it out except to buy a
Ok, I spent some more money. Other World Computing
had a couple really great products that I could not resist. A new
battery for my iPod 2G was only $10 on a closeout. The iPod, which
I bought on eBay last year, until now played for only a couple hours
or less even on a full charge. I know this because I fall asleep to
it, and awake a couple hours later to find it dead. The new battery,
from Newer Technology
is supposed to last 20 hours. I'll be happy if it gets only half that.
The battery came with small tools and instructions, and the recommended
video on their web site really did help.
For $45, I also got 512 megs of RAM for my PowerMac G4. I'm so happy
with the PowerMac, that after three years I'm still nowhere near
tempted to replace it. It is the Dual 867 MHz model. It runs rings
around my 867 MHz Powerbook. Maybe I should have bought RAM for the
PB instead? This latest addition brings me up to 1.75 GB in the PMac.
And of course it installed easily and works well so far.
I spent a long time at the Oak Tree Software booth.
They make Accordance Bible Software
I've always found this software too expensive, but we discussed
different ways I might be able to reduce the price for me by buying
only certain sets of modules. The standard Library CD comes with
four different packages that can be unlocked at different price
levels. There is also a Bible CD that has various
Bibles that can be unlocked individually. And there is a Scholar CD
that has other references like Kittel, NIBC, and K&D. But I need
such an eclectic set (KJV, NASB, NIV, Hebrew, Greek NA, Greek TR)
that I'd need to purchase a module here and a module there, which
gets expensive quickly. Don't know if we can come to an agreeable
solution, but I'll take a look at it.
After visiting the Oak Tree booth, I was running out of time. Only
a few minutes until they turn out the lights. I ran to the Sonnet
but it turns out they don't have any upgrades available for my
PowerMac. Ok, I'm happy with the PowerMac, but if I could spend
a couple hundred bucks for a speed bump it would be worthwhile.
I thought I saw one somewhere but I guess it wasn't Sonnet.
They do have SATA cards. Can I boot my PMG4 from a SATA drive?
Finally, one more purchase. I saw this in the magazines last night
and it was too funny to pass up.
Comic Life Deluxe Edition from Freeverse Software
lets you make a comic book out of your photographs. You can add
speech balloons, captions and special effects lettering.
I took lots of pics of the kids at Christmas, and this will be a
fun way to present them.
The program gets
from MacWorld and
Now it's very late, and I still need to figure out what I'm going
to buy when I go back tomorrow. Maybe I'll study tomorrow and go back
to the show on Thursday.