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Monday, January 15, 2007

Macworld 2007 Recap

My intent at the start of my travels for MacWorld 2007 was to provide daily updates on my goings-on and derring-dos. Hah. With all the hours in the show hall, and Dinners (with a capital D) every night, I quickly learned that there was almost no time for writing.

This entry will attempt to provide those details which I can recall…

My previous entry finished on Monday morning, and mentioned my plans for the day. This is where we'll pick it up.

Monday

Booth Setup

Bare Bones rented a 2-meter booth in the "overflow hall". There was room there for two presentation stations, or one station and stacks of literature, window stickers, and CD's. They chose the latter.

When I arrived (30 minutes early), nobody and nothing was at the booth. No boxes, no computer, no literature, nobody from Bare Bones. Nobody. So, I spent some time chatting with the guys from provue (makers of Panorama), and then went back to my hotel room.

Back to the booth again at 2:30. The "media rental" guy was there, and was annoyed that we hadn't received anything yet, so he made a call and five minutes later the computer (Dual G5 tower) and the display (30" Apple Cinema) were delivered.

The mac had the wrong display card for that display (only 64 MB of vRam), so it was only able to drive it at 1200x800. I thought that was actually a *good thing*, as it was for presentations, not "daily use." Eventually everybody agreed (or at least agreed to give it a shot), and I'm glad: the display looked great if you were standing back a few feet. We often had large crowds watching our demos, and the low-resolution display made it possible for them to see everything we were doing.

Brian Arrives

Brian arrived in the area a bit early, but I couldn't leave until 3 so he found a parking space over on Mission St. and then walked over.

We met up outside, and I took him downstairs to the show entrance. Couldn't take him past the doors for the lack of an Exhibitor badge, and the 90 year old security guard was clearly prepared to Take Him Out.

Eventually Rich came out, they met, we all chatted for a minute, and then Brian and I found his car so we could go…

Touring Fisherman's Wharf

Oh the tourist-trappiness. It was nearly overwhelming. Every shop offered kitsch at off-season discounts.

In the mid-nineties, while traveling all over the country at the behest of RR Donnelley's sales people, I'd been to San Francisco with Dirk Samuelson (an RRD employee). We found a shop, somewhere, with some very high quality sweatshirts and I bought a couple for my girlfriend, Corinne. Only recently did those sweatshirts wear out enough to require dumping, so I picked up a couple more. I couldn't find anything quite as nice as the old ones (isn't that always the way?), but I did my best by looking at the offerings of every single store.

Brian with Alcatraz

Brian picked up some chocolate for his girlfriend (whose name happens to meet Macrobyte's standards, even though he hasn't worked at Macrobyte in many years ;-). Then we dropped our packages at his car and returned to Pier 39 for some pictures of the sea lions and us in front of Alcatraz.

After the pictures, he drove me back to the Marriott and then headed back out of the city.

Brian worked for me at Macrobyte for over a year, and we've been friends for over a decade, but that was only the second time I've met him!

Tuesday

Breakfast at the Garden Terrace again, this time with Patrick Woolsey (Rich Siegel's partner at Bare Bones) and Ciaran Benson (who worked the booth with us all week).

After eating, Patrick and I went down to the hotel's Shipping & Receiving dept. to pick up the t-shirts and schlep them over to the hall. Ciarnan went to the printer to pick up data sheets of BB's products.

Once we were all at the booth, we only had two things to do: collate all the data sheets and media kits, and fold a couple hundred t-shirts. Ciarnan worked on the paper while I folded.

Eventually, I figured out how to fold the shirts so that the Bare Bones logo was centered on the front. I showed Patrick and a volunteer from another booth how to fold them. With three folders we made short work of the pile.

Then I helped Ciarnan finish with the media kits and data sheets, just as hundreds of visitors swarmed the show floor.

Rules of the booth: drink a lot of water, use the Purel (hand sanitizer), and ask everybody if they have a question. Most will say "no," immediately before asking a question.

Rich's Friends

A bunch of Rich's friends came to the booth toward the end of the day, expecting that Rich would join them for dinner. He had other plans already (see below), but they still hung out at the booth for at least an hour. The bantering was fun.

Someone fussed that BBEdit doesn't support a certain, very simple file type used by Mac programmers. So that night I started throwing a module together, hoping to finish it by the end of the show. Didn't quite get there, but I did have it fully functional by Sunday night. (In fact, it's already in that gentleman's hands and is being beta tested.)

Dinner with the New Rock Stars

Brent had written to a small group on Monday night about having dinner on Tuesday. In his words, "A post-keynote, post-first-day dinner with a few smart folks sounds like just the thing." Apparently, a typo resulted in my receiving the invitation also, but rather than point it out I simply accepted. ;-)

So, Tuesday night we met at the top of the escalators before walking to the restaurant. Attendees included Brent Simmons, Buzz Andersen, Gus Mueller (his page mentions meeting me, in a funny way), John Gruber, Niall Kennedy, Patrick Woolsey, Paul Kafasis, Rich Siegel, Ted Leung, myself, and possibly one or two others whose names I can't remember (sorry!).

Update: Here is Ted's picture of the dinner.

I don't remember what I ordered, but it was terrible. Yuck. Niall — sitting right next to me — made me very jealous with his gigantic, juicy hamburger. Wah.

After the introductions, we mostly talked about the death of Apple Computer, Inc. (the pundits were right all along!), the new Apple TV, and the iPhone. Most notably, the lack of 3rd party app support on the iPhone, which bit everybody in that group right in the tuckus.

Oh, and I told my...

Funny John Gruber Story

What John Gruber story? OK, here:

BBEdit 8.6 added support for the Markdown language. (Markdown is like HTML shorthand, basically.)

Writing the Markdown support for BBEdit was very challenging. This is a language that's designed to be processed once, to convert the markdown to HTML. Speed of processing was not a consideration. However, I (that is, BBEdit's Markdown module) need to process at least part of the Markdown content with every keypress, so as to figure out what to color and how to color it.

While John was beta testing the module for us, he had a bunch of very particular bug reports and feature requests. He wanted everything to be just so. It was tiring, but I appreciated it because we needed a lot of testing very quickly.

Then he submitted one last bug report. Apparently, inline links can have titles (which I knew), and those titles are delimited by quotes. Here's an example:

This is some [linked text](<link_url> "link title").

The syntax docs on John's site said that inline link's titles were delimited by double quotes. Markdown.pl, John's implementation of Markdown in perl — the canonical Markdown interpreter — used double quotes to delimit link titles.

John's bug? He pointed out that even though it's not documented, and the interpreter doesn't actually support it, it's (somehow) a bug that BBEdit did not support 'single-quote delimiters' around the link titles.

(I still think it's funny, but I guess I can see why nobody else would.)

Wednesday

I don't remember much about Wednesday except the MacSB dinner, which was a couple blocks from the show.

After walking down there, I almost went into the wrong place. The restaurant I could see had a sign that said "Chaam Cafe," so I assumed I'd been given the wrong name. However, as I drew near I saw another restaurant next door, and the part of the sign I could read said, "t Cafe". I found out Thursday that others actually went into Chaam Cafe, and two of those with whom I spoke enjoyed a Mac-related party with a bunch of people they didn't know, and got a free meal out of it!

I ate with Paul Kafasis of Rogue Amoeba, Jerry Kayne, and Willian Van Hecke from The Omni Group. However, the restaurant was very crowded and I was tired, so I left as soon as I was done eating.

Thursday

Breakfast

As with every other day on the show floor, we had breakfast at the Marriott. Rich joined us this time, and Agnes (one of the Omelette chefs) recognized him immediately and asked where he's been all week!

"The Fetch guys" sat with us.

MacBrainiac Challenge

Rich was the captain of the developers team for this year's edition of the Macworld game show, which pit the developers against the reporters with trivia questions. Chris Breen was the host.

At the last question — which was actually a challenge, not a question — the teams were tied. The challenge was to send Chris an electronic birthday greeting from their computer (one computer per team), without using email and with the understanding that his laptop was completely off the air.

The solution was to send an SMS message to his cell phone, from iChat. The contact info had been pre-loaded onto both machines, but you had to know how to use iChat with SMS. The reporters tried to use text-to-speech to have their mac deliver the message to Chris vocally, but that answer wasn't accepted. (This really annoyed Andy Inhatko.) Frankly, I think the only reason it wasn't accepted is that it's not the answer they expected. The question should have specified that the solution had to work whether Chris was in the room or 1,000 miles away.

Anyway, the developers won.

Show Floor

My Yojimbo demo was in full swing by this point.

The last couple days of the show mostly blurred together, but I think this is the day that Merlin Mann interviewed Patrick at the booth for about fifteen minutes. You can watch the video, here.

Patrick is about 6' 4" (Update: that said 6' 1" originally. Sorry Patrick. All you little guys look the same!) and weighs a good and very solid 280-290 pounds. Throw in the dark hair, the beard, and the low, rumbly voice and you'll see why I call him Paul Bunyan. :-) Put a knit cap on his head, a plaid, flannel shirt on his shoulders, and an axe in his hand...

Rich wasn't around for most of the day. He spent all day meeting with press people, being interviewed about BBEdit and Yojimbo.

Dinner

Rich made dinner reservations for us at a Chinese restaurant, Brandy Ho's. I walked all the way (a couple miles) in, which felt great. Man, what a city for people-watching. (Corinne wouldn't have enjoyed the walk quite so much, but as I walked I thought about how much she would have loved seeing all the people.)

In attendance at dinner: Rich, Patrick, Naomi (BB's PR person), Sandy (former BB marketer), Sal Sahogian.

Yeah, that's right. I had dinner with Saul, who you all know. :-D

He told a very funny and very memorable story about his days as a nightclub manager in NYC. No room to retell it here, but the best line was, "Sal, I'm starting to get upset," said in a very quiet voice.

After dinner, Rich joined me for the walk back and we mostly talked shop until we had to split for our separate hotels.

Friday

Friday was a blur of exhaustion, sore throats, and Yojimbo-demo-burnout. ;-)

The show ended at 4 PM on Friday instead of 6 like the rest of the week, and most of the hall was rolled up by 4:30!

I couldn't find anybody at the show who was actually selling iPods (how crazy is that?), so after the show I walked to the Apple store to buy one for Corinne. Picked up a 30 GB black (which she seemed to really like when I gave it to her Saturday).

Apollo

Update: I met Apollo on Friday, for the first time ever. Not sure how I forgot this when I first wrote it up, except that I was tired of writing!

(Apollo is a cyclist from the bay area, who has made some very generous donations to my PMC fundraising efforts in the last couple of years. He also had a horrendous bike accident that nearly ended his cycling for good.)

He works right down the street from the Moscone Center, so he took an extra-long lunch break to meet me and see the show. Rich and I were out wandering the show floor (after a friendly, thirty minute chat with the tm boys). We had stopped to talk to a known BBEdit user who happened to be 6' 6" tall (Rich said he felt like a hyphen between us), when this stranger walked up and said, "You must be Seth Dillingham!" He figured it out based solely on the fact that there were two guys there wearing BBEdit t-shirts, and I was really tall!

The most notable moment for Apollo, though, was clearly when the cute Australian boothbabe stepped in front of him and offered him some information about some product. Let's just say she could have sold him any software... ;-)

Apollo went back to the BB booth with me, experienced The Yojimbo Demo, took a couple pictures, and went back to work. Nice to meet you finally, Apollo!

Bare Bones took us out for a huge steak dinner at Harris' Restaurant. A little too far to walk (I was told), but totally worth whatever it takes to get there. Wow. Second best steak dinner I've ever had, and certainly the best ever at a restaurant. This was a celebratory "family dinner," with Rich and Patrick, Naomi, Ciaran, and myself.

Saturday

Saturday morning I packed my suitcase and caught a cab. There were five people in line ahead of me for the cab, but they all got on a shuttle.

Took the taxi to Rich's hotel to pick him up, and then to the airport. So far, it was all smooth...

Airports Schmairport

My itinerary said United Airlines, but when I tried to check in with United they told me I was supposed to go to US Air. GRRRRRRRRR. That's in another terminal about 500 miles away. So I said goodbye to Rich and hurried over there (though I had plenty of time).

Check-in took forever because my bag was overweight. This also cost me $50. It took them 20 minutes to print the receipt for that $50. This meant that by the time I got to the security line, I was already pretty frustrated.

Beep! That's me, trying to go through the metal detector.

"Sir, you'd better take off your watch and your belt. If you beep a second time, we have to do a personal inspection." That sounded ominous.

Beep! That's me, trying to go through the same metal detector with a tiny, forgotten pillbox in my pocket. I had to strip down to just shorts and t-shirt and stand in a phone booth which is rigged to detect eplosive residue. After that, the "personal inspection." I had to stand with my arms out the sides, palms up, while they wanded me from head to toe. This is all done right out in the open, of course. For your protection.

I checked my anger. Humiliation is the order of the day when you fly, now. It's the next best thing to security!

On the flight to Philly, I sat next to a Java programmer who was very jealous of how fast my MacBook Pro could wake from sleep (he had a Dell), and an old consultant to the printing industry who knew all about the startup of the RR Donnelley Lancaster West plant (which is where I met Corinne). He even thought he recognized her picture.

Philly to Providence was just a 40 minute flight, and I sat next to a couple who cuddled and made out the entire time. Touched down in Providence just a few minutes early, and walked straight to the baggage claim...

... and right past Corinne, who stood there looking amused. I realized what I'd done just a second too late. ;-) (In my defense, I was expecting her to be waiting for me outside, and I was trying to read the signs to see where my bags would come in.)

Thank you, Bare Bones, for letting me help out at the booth. It was a great week! (And it's even better to be home!)

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year, One and All

2006 was a good year for me and mine, in many ways.

To all of my family near and far, to my ecclesia here and worldwide, to all of my friends new and old, close or distant:

Happy
New Year!

Hoping 2007 will be even better, for all of us...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

NetNewsWire 2.1

Brent has announced the release of NetNewsWire 2.1

NetNewsWire IconNetNewsWire 2.1 has been released!

This release of NetNewsWire includes new features such as NewsGator syncing, posting to del.icio.us, sending articles via email, printing, and sorting subscriptions by attention. It’s also a universal binary and includes lots of performance enhancements and bug fixes.

This is the first new release since NewsGator bought Brent's company, Ranchero Software, last year. I've been beta testing 2.1 all along, but I haven't been participating on the list because I've been so busy! (Which is a good thing, considering.)

As you'd expect from Brent, this is a solid update. The synchro with NewsGator is smooth as butter, which is truly an impressive feature you have to see to believe. Read your feeds on your Mac at work, then when you get home you find that the items you already read at work are marked "already read" there, too. Away from your computer, but need your news fix? NewsGator's online service is *also* kept in sync with your copies of NetNewsWire.

Very cool. It's nice to have an intel-native build, too. ;-)

Saturday, April 1, 2006

A Better History of Apple

This is the best and most amazing history of Apple I've ever read.

You could tell, just from looking at him, what the strain of trying to tame that beast for Steve had cost him. Others took up the challenge, but the RDF just wasn't the same, or as reliable.

And, of course, you know what that meant to Apple, and to Steve.

But a few years ago, I was working with Guy Kawasaki on...

Thanks for the link, Brent!

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

NewsGator Buys NetNewsWire from Ranchero, Gets Brent Too

I first saw a story about this on Jim's Have Browser, Will Travel, and was quite surprised. Ranchero Software (Brent and Sheila Simmons) has sold NetNewsWire to NewsGator (one of the 'big dogs' in the RSS world).

The Q & A at NewsGator's site answers a lot of the questions I saw (or thought of) when I started looking around for more information, but here's the answer to my own question:

Q: Brent, I thought you loved being an independent developer. How could you work for another company?

Brent: I did love being an independent developer, absolutely. But I also love the idea of being able to take NetNewsWire to the next level and work with a bunch of smart folks who share the vision of RSS everywhere.

While there is still so much we — my wife Sheila and I, Ranchero Software — could do as a small independent company, we couldn’t possibly do everything NewsGator is doing. We couldn’t, on our own, deliver syncing across all these devices and platforms, even though our customers were asking for it.

Since us buying NewsGator wasn’t completely realistic, we decided to join NewsGator. ;)

What he doesn't say, of course, is just how many Millions and Millions of Dollars he got from this deal, so I guess we'll just have to speculate. ;-) I hope he did very well, and that his deal's value doesn't depend *entirely* on NewsGator's future stock value. (I think they'll do quite nicely, but that's beside the point.)

Actually, this move doesn't surprise me all that much. I do remember wondering if something like this would happen, back when NewsGator acquired FeedDemon and it's creator, Nick Bradbury (who officially welcomes Brent to NewsGator here).

The Q&A also mentions MarsEdit, which is now looking for a home. I'm surprised about that... NewsGator took on TopStyle, Nick's HTML editor, but not MarsEdit, a weblog editor. Would MarsEdit seem to be at least as 'in sync' with their other product offerings? Strange.


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