Third Device

I’ve been considering which devices to take on vacation this year, and strongly considering leaving the laptop at home. We will be traveling in Europe in Switzerland and northern Italy, and also a few days in Amsterdam. The coach and the hotels are all supposed to have WiFi, but the laptop for me is only really necessary for work stuff – which I hope to avoid (since, you know, I’ll be on vacation).

It got me thinking about Steve Jobs’ introduction of the iPad, where he noted that “we all have a smartphone and/or a laptop” and wondered if there was room for a third category device. That device in the middle turned out to be the iPad. After Jobs’ keynote, I didn’t think I’d want/need an iPad. But for those couple months every time I was on the couch and wanted to look something up on the internet, I sure felt like a 9.7 inch screen would be better than a 3.5 inch one. So, I got one on day one.


The vacation packing list made me think about the three devices, and if I had to give one up which one would it be? The laptop, the tablet, or the smartphone. And, really, it wasn’t much of a debate. If I had to give up one it most definitely would be the tablet. I just can’t imagine giving up a “full desktop operating system” experience all the time, nor can I imagine not having an iPhone for staying connected away from home.

But what if you had to give up two? Which one device would I keep. Now that’s a much more difficult decision. And, based on my last decision you’d think it would be either the smartphone or the laptop. But, in fact, if I could keep only one it’d be the tablet! Very capable for “productivity” but still the kind of device that isn’t a pain to carry.

In other words, the iPad is at once the most expendable … and the least expendable.

Bad App Icon, Disney

Disney is extending the experience for their theme park guests beyond phone reservations and paper park maps. They are moving purposefully this year into their “NextGen” initiative where guests can do a number of things from their smartphones including making meal reservations and managing FastPass reservations.

The app that does this (or, soon will…) is called the My Disney Experience. And here’s the iPhone icon for the app.


Anyone else feeling what I’m feeling?  That this is a really ugly icon.

The Mickey Mouse shape is quite well-chosen, as this design marks the RFID-based keyless entry to the parks and at many attraction entrances. Thus, the phone icon supports the physical locations where guests will leverage this next-generation experiences. But unfortunately that Mickey logo isn’t the only thing on the icon.

Why is there that awkwardly-placed Disney banner on the icon? Who would be confused that this app wasn’t from Disney? Their most famous corporate spokesperson is right on the icon! Who is going to say “where is that Disney app? I see the Mickey Mouse one but where is the Disney one?” Nobody, right?  You didn’t see Apple put their logo on top of the original “iPod” app on the original iPhone. Why would Disney think that they needed to put their name on icon?

The text-description for the app says “Disney World” so why not leave the Mickey logo alone? Because Disney puts that corporate banner on many of their apps as some sort of consistent branding strategy. This is corporate synergy at it’s worst. That Disney banner is just plain ugly.

Election-Season Pandering I Can Get Behind

Ever since the Mac was introduced in 1984, I’d been closely following Apple in the news. At the time, it was quite a big deal that Steve Jobs and the company had set up a cutting edge factory in Fremont to produce the Mac. It turns out that since demand was not as great as expected the factory ended up costing Apple a bunch of money. They ultimately abandoned the factory.

When I moved to Fremont in 1995 I always thought I’d try to find the factory but this dream was never realized. Until yesterday.

As it turns out, that very factory has been in the news lately. Seems that Fremont’s Vice-Mayor and current candidate for Mayor Anu Natarajan was leading the City Council to declare the factory site an historical location. This seemed timely, not just for Natarajan’s tight battle for Mayor but also of course on the first anniversary of Steve Jobs’ dead on October 5. Unfortunately, as reported by the Mercury-News, the efforts to grant historical landmark status were stymied by the rules indicating a location had to be more than 50 years old before that status could be granted. Which, in the tech industry, might as well be ancient history. Heck, new new iPhone is more powerful than the laptop computers Apple was making less than ten years ago – and a factory that produced Macs almost thirty years ago isn’t old enough? Ironic.

Mac Factory in Fremont
Mac Factory in Fremont

As for the City Council’s efforts, this is clear and obvious political pandering. But, you know what, I actually don’t fault them a single bit for this. In fact, I support it. For a city with a reputation of “there’s no ‘there’ there”, it would be nice to point out that Fremont does have a history that doesn’t involve suburban sprawl or green-energy punchlines in Presidential debates.

The news article was useful in providing the location for the factory and yesterday I was mere blocks away for Quinn’s baseball game. So, I drove over to 48233 Warm Springs Blvd to snap shots of the facility. You can compare the entrance today to the archival footage in the video below.

Mac factory in 2012
Mac factory in 2012

Quinn is Flying

Here’s an example of how creative my son Quinn is. We were exploring the Oakland Museum of California yesterday when we ran across a wall with this light display to set a mood for the history of the 1960’s.  But Quinn thought the wall could be used in a different way… to fly. A little creative camera work with my iPhone and ten minutes later it was posted to YouTube.

MacWorld 2010 Impressions

This Thursday and Friday I participated in the annual migration to San Francisco for the MacWorld Expo. I’ve been going each year since the early 1990’s and it’s always a great place to see what’s happening in the Mac marketplace (and the iPod, iPhone, and iPad marketplace…). The big news this year was that Apple was not participating, causing some other companies to avoid the show as well.

This year, for the first time that I can remember, I actually went for two days. Mostly this was due to the Featured Presentations that were made available to all attendees, including those with just Expo passes.  Director Kevin Smith was a big draw, and his Q&A session was hilarious but still very informative for those interested in film. I also managed to catch the Best of MacWorld session, Leo Laporte’s Late Night session, and bit of John Gruber’s session about Apple. All great stuff!

Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith

The Show Floor

A few observations. It was crowded, especially on Thursday. The show floor was smaller but it felt far more crowded. Many good companies offering their wares. I ended up buying a lot more stuff than normal this year (as a show of solidarity for the Mac community!).

Drive Savers Great Apple Logo
Drive Savers Great Apple Logo

It was nice to see Microsoft at the show, but they didn’t do much with their floor space except to have costumed icons running around. They announced Office 2011 for Mac on Thursday but weren’t even demoing in their booth. In past years they have done a good job doing presentations about their products but this year they weren’t doing any of that. Gotta give Microsoft an “F” for that. Or, perhaps, an “E” as in Entourage.

Entourage Icon
Entourage Icon

I definitely enjoy the smaller vendors too. Nicknamed “Tiny Town” this is often the best place to see small companies with interesting products. This year, I picked up BusyCal and an iPhone app for planning trips to Disneyland. You can get up close and personal with the developers who can still have demo computers and such to help sell their products.

Tiny Town
Tiny Town

On the other hand, there were problems in a new “Mobile Showcase” area that I am calling “Micro Town.”  Rather than one booth, we had four app developers in the same sized place. This place was crowded, though as you can see it didn’t stop some from including “Booth Babes” to try and perk up interest. One vendor we enjoyed checking out was selling a Slingshot game that we really liked.

Micro Town
Micro Town
Quinn Tries Slingshot
Quinn Tries Slingshot

This year Julie and the boys had the day off from school so they spent some time with me on Friday. Here are the boys about to head onto the floor of the Expo. Quinn even found a (fake) iPad!

MacWorld Here We Are!
MacWorld Here We Are!
I have an iPad!
I have an iPad!

The boys and I did also have some time to explore the Yerba Buena Gardens above the Moscone Center, including a very interesting play structure and their Carousel.

Moscone Center View
Moscone Center View
Big slides
Big slides




The Greatest Thing Steve Jobs Ever Did

As a member of Toastmasters I’m interested in improving my public speaking skills, so I have a keen eye for those who do this well and those who don’t. As such, Steve Jobs is well known for his “Steve-Note” keynote presentations. And Steve’s had thirty years of highlights as a public speaker. But none have topped the introduction of the iPhone at MacWorld Expo in January 2007.

Steve was really in the zone on this presentation. He knew he was going to blow people away with the product but his delivery had it all: effective gestures, dramatic pauses and vocal variety, and a killer multimedia presentation.  He was well-rehearsed and didn’t fumble any lines. He had a great set of product demos as well. I love the part where Steve calls Starbucks live and orders 4,000 lattes to go.

If you ever want to see what great technical speeches look like then this is a great place to start. And be sure to see the guest speaker from Cingular (now AT&T), Stan Sigman. The guy was following Steve’s best keynote every and read his speech from large note cards!  The guy is probably better know as “note card guy” than for being the President of AT&T.

There’s probably not a month or two that goes by when I don’t rewatch part of this presentation; it is truly inspiring and I am still in awe of how great it was. Apple has kindly made it available for download and replay.

Another great outcome of the speech was a remix from Simon Bachofen called “Who Wants a Stylus.” It plays off the part of the presentation where Steve says that Apple is releasing three products, an iPod, a Phone, and an Internet Communications device – only to reveal it is only one device! The remix was so great that someone made a music video out of it. Check it out!

Happy Birthday Macintosh

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Macintosh. It’s hard to believe it really has been 25 years, but it really was 1984 when the Mac was introduced (you remember the 1984 Mac commercial, right?).

So, in the honor the Mac’s birthday I thought I’d run down all the Mac models I’ve owned over the years. 

Macintosh – 1985
This was my first Mac, an original Mac model that I later upgraded the RAM to 512K. I got it after high school for use when I entered UC Santa Barbara in 1985. I had previous used my Dad’s Mac and had even used a LISA a bit when one of the guys at Gunn High School’s “home computer club” had one at home.

I later turned this original Mac into a MacQuarium, using instructions I had to have sent via postal mail..


Mac LC – 1990
This was first low-end color Macs and I got one. I really liked the modular design, with the monitor separate from the “pizza box” CPU box. I loved the Apple Extended Keyboard back in the day.

Mac LCIII – 1993
Actually, this was a logic board upgrade for the LC, so it was like keeping your computer but getting a faster, more capable version of it. If I had to name a favorite on this list, the LCIII would be it. I used it the most for “home” use like games and such, and in it’s day it was quite a good computer.

PowerMac 6100 – 1996
Bought this second hand when I wanted to move to the PowerPC platform. Still kept the same monitor and keyboard. This was basically the power version of the LC, as it used the same “pizza box” style enclosure.

iMac Rev B – Lime – 1999
The Rev B was a big revision to the iMac (much more so than the forthcoming Rev C and D). This was a workhorse iMac but was soon replaced by…

iMac DV – 2000
I got this to use iMovie and actually did do some home videos this a bit back when Riley was young. The graphite color was interesting though I kind of miss the Lime model. I also used a Rev A iMac at SRI for some time, though it was not my primary work computer. Overally, I really liked the original iMac design, as it certainly was a true successor to the original all in one Mac that started it all.

iMac G4 – 2002
Picked up one of these flat-panel iMacs with the lampshade arm for the monitor. This was a big performance boost and to this day still runs a lot of software (it currently resides in Quinn’s room).

PowerBook 12″ – 2003
There are a ton of people who still think this was the best PowerBook or maybe Apple’s best notebook ever. By this time we were a multi-Mac household but two computers still wasn’t enough. I took this on some trips and even started podcasting on this using the built-in microphone.  Riley is using this as his primary computer now.

iMac (Intel Core Duo) – 2006
I jumped on the Intel bandwagon right away and this is still my primary Mac. I really like the matte display and the screen resolution is just about all I need at 1440×900.

MacBook – 2007
This is Julie’s computer, though I use it from time to time especially on trips.

MacBook Pro – 2007
I use this model at work and it’s sooooo much nicer than the ThinkPad I had before.

So, I’ve purchased ten Macs in twenty five years for home use. The last one was purchased two and a half years ago. Looks like I’m due…

I Scored with the MacWorld Checklist!

One of the best parts of this year’s MacWorld Expo sort of happened organically. I had seen the wonderful post on Joy of Tech with this year’s MacWorld Expo checklist, and I thought it was amusing. Then, it was blogged about on The MacCast blog and on Justine Ezarik’s blog. So, it was a little bit in my mind – but as I was attending for only one day I didn’t think I’d try to “conquer” the list.

Then a funny thing happened. I started to see the celebs. And then I started to get really obsessed with completing the task. How’d I do? Really well, as you will see.

Here’s the 2009 MacWorld Checklist from Joy of Tech.


I didn’t get photos of a couple of these. First was Merlin Mann, who I believe is the fellow in glasses in the bottom right next to Walt Mossberg. I’d met Mann a couple times and definitely saw him in passing while on the show floor.

Next, I did see Scott MucNulty when he did a presentation at the Peachpit Press booth. He wrote a book about WordPress and overall I already knew most of what he presented (which was a good thing, for me anyway). I didn’t realize McNulty was on the list or I would have taken a photo.

When I saw Andy Inhatko I did remember he was on the list. Here he is signing copies of his latest book. 


Next up is another author, David Pogue. He always draws a large crowd to the O’Reilly booth and sadly I missed his Wednesday morning keynote speech. Next year I’m doing the Conference portion of MacWorld as Pogue has already agreed to do another keynote.


The celebs started coming fast and furious after this…

Chris Breen at the MacWorld Magazine booth.


Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (in the black and white shirt, sitting on a stool).


Now I realized I could really cash in with some of these people on the checklist. So, I checked Justine’s twitter account and saw that she was literally around the corner doing a workout (no, I don’t know what that means). When I came up to her and and asked if I could take a photo for my checklist, she laughed and said sure. This is Justine Ezarik with her buddy Karen. 


Next, I headed off to the MacWorld Expo “Town Hall,” led by main man Paul Kent.  My suggestion for MacWorld 2010? Provide everyone with a Joy of Tech Mac Celebrity Checklist!


After the Town Hall I headed off to the Podcasting Birds of a Feather gathering. Along the way, I saw a couple guys from MacHeads the Movie trying to pimp their showing of the documentary film. The checklist doesn’t name names and the guys I saw were kind of anonymous. So, I’m counting this. Another checkmark for my list!


At the Podcaster gathering I ended up sitting right near a couple celebs. First is Don McAllister.


Then I saw the man with the smooth voice. That’s MacWorld’s Chuck Joiner in the lower left near the stage.


All in all, including the “non-celebs” on the list, I ended up seeing 15 out of 25 from the checklist. A pretty good job, if I do say so myself! 

MacWorld 2009 Impressions

I attended the MacWorld Conference & Expo on Wednesday. I had intended to post my comments that night but a comedy of errors caused me to miss one BART train, wait 15 minutes for another, and then end up taking the train all the way to Dublin where I had to turn around and transfer again to get back to Fremont. Took me over two hours to get home from San Francisco!

Moscone Center - Home of MacWorld 2009

MacWorld 2009 was great as always. I arrived in plenty of time for the opening of the Expo floor and met my father who was also attending that day. Here we are in the Apple booth, where a kind Apple employee took our photo. Apple had a nice display for their iLife and iWork products, and their usual stage. They also had a nice display of their recently updated MacBooks. However, the other side of their area was kind of bare, like they had intended to announce something and dropped it at the last minute (can you say “updated Mac Mini?”).  The iPods were on display and getting no foot traffic, hence the perfect location for this shot.

Frank and Kevin Crossman at MacWorld 2009

Overall, the traffic and activity seem on par with past years, though obviously next year without Apple may be another matter. Here are some of the things I saw at MacWorld.

I did like the display of iPod Touch and iPhones that Apple had on display. I got to play with some great iPhone Apps and try them out. Saved me some money on some I was considering purchasing – now I won’t. But, I did see some that looked coo.

Apple App Store

You gotta love how Apple gets the attendees to fetishize the Apple hardware. People were literally waiting in line to touch the brand-new Apple MacBook Pro 17″ notebook computer. Where was I in this photo? Yep. Standing in line.

Brand New 17" MacBook Pro Gets Plenty of Attention

I must say I liked the look of this 17″ MacBook Pro. I’m really a fan of the matte screen option, which is what I use on my MacBook Pro at work. I am not a fan of glossy screens.

Now the cool thing about trade shows like MacWorld is the thing that companies do to draw attention and get people into their booths. Beejive had their “booth babes” dress up as bees. And it was very memorable since I took this photo. I think they make some sort of instant-messaging client for the iPhone. See how that costuming has paid off in the mind of the consumer (me)?

Busy Bees at Beejive

Google took a different approach with this iPhone Charging Station. I didn’t need to use this but glad I had the option! It was funny to see people waiting to get charged up – one woman screamed at another guy that “your iPhone is finished” so she could get a turn. The guy charged up and demanded “No! See this… that means it isn’t charged yet!” Yeah! Duh!  The things people do for free electricity…   Google also had a British phone booth to use as a YouTube uploading station. I went in but couldn’t figure out how to use it, so I left.  Google would probably like me to mention their brand-new Mac version of the Picasa photo management app. But I don’t care, so I didn’t look at it.

iPhone Charging Station at Google's Booth

Here we go for the hands-down best booth at MacWorld. The Delicious Monster folks are know for their beautiful software, Delicious Library. And this year, they decorated their booth to look like the software itself. Plus, they had these girls dressed up as “Delicious Librarians” (no, I’m not kidding. They even had name badges that said Delicious Librarian). I guess there was something about this outfit that had some appeal for the MacWorld attendees.  And, giving credit where it is due, the librarians did seem to know their stuff.

Delicious Librarian

All in all, a great time at MacWorld Expo 2009!  All photos courtesy my iPhone.