At the risk of boring at least 1 ½ of the Faithful Four, this year's Apple Expo was the first I really enjoyed visiting -- and well worth it despite the absence of any stunning announcements. (Updated Friday for one bad typo -- a missing link -- and to add more points about Panther.)
Late on a quiet afternoon proved a good time to go and by sheer luck I met, in different parts of the vast hall, more than half a dozen people in the French Mac world I've wanted to say "Hallo" to for some time.
François introduced me to 'Soif': also a François and "the founder, the administrator, the web designer, the moderator, the sleepless, the sweeper" at MacMusic.
'Soif' omits to add in his little tale about MacMusic that he's an entertaining teacher, with colleagues who make difficult things clear.
He reminded me that their help site celebrates its sixth anniversary on September 29. (And TechSurvivors fêted its third yesterday, and is running a particularly clever banner right now.)
There are one or two things English-speaking musicians who find the bilingual MacMusic useful may not know.
The editor explained that they'd turned the site into "shareware" (I've previously commended the admirable way they did it) with "heavy hearts", but can now hope to cover costs as best may and also, importantly, "remain independent from advertisers".
If anybody out there is able and willing to help with French to English translations, the team would be delighted to hear from them, since they currently do most of this themselves, with a handful of volunteers. It's becoming a workload which needs spreading out more.
While the software pages are apparently the most popular among anglophones, 'MacMusic' would readily publish many more small ads in English. 'Soif' was surprised "they currently make up only a very tiny percentage of the total", but suspects this may be because people see the ones in French and imagine it's "not for them". On the contrary, those columns are open to all comers.
I saw some of a music-making demo at the stand, where 'Soif' played an active keyboard part, and the nice thing was that I even understood what was going on with the computer. Then my buddy and I split up again, and I last saw him clutching a glass of champagne with the 'Musicrun' (Fr) people, where what was going on was well above my head.
Apple products? Yes, there were quite a lot of those, which have been so widely covered elsewhere than I've little to add apart from personal impressions. The essence of Steve's keynote address has been on the Apple Hot News site for a day. It was mercifully brief, apparently.
Yes, the already famed, very functional looking Power Mac G5, with its 64-bit IBM processor, is one amazing beast to see in action. Its phenomenal performance is really far more than anybody but the greediest home user could want!
The Apple-IBM partnership will go places.
I know what Maya's for and even have a copy of the Personal Learning Edition' sensibly given away for free with some design magazines, but to watch this highly praised, heavy-duty 3D graphics software producing fine work in the hands of an expert with a G5 was a remarkable sight.
I also saw why Rainer said over a most enjoyable dinner last night that after getting his clutches on Panther betas, he returned to Mac OS X 10.2.x Jaguar with some reluctance! (More on that meeting tomorrow.)
Panther looks fast, and I've had no major complaints about Jaguar as it is. I kept returning from the various stands round the edges to keep an eye on a 'X 10.3 for Dummies' presentation on the "main square", which only scratched the surface of the new operating system, but sufficiently so to convince me that one of these days, I want that!
Novelties I saw the most of were Exposé, a major improvement along with the more user-friendly Finder, and some of the subtle changes that will make the Mail application better.
(Update:) The much revised 'Preview' application is also great news, opening very swiftly even with PDF files, faster it would seem than Acrobat. And I learned, from people who've been able to try it, that Panther is worth bringing to older Macs. If you're running at least a G3 with USB ports and don't really fancy upgrading your whole machine or can't afford it, laying down about $150 dollars (euros) for Panther could be a viable proposition. Something, I'd think, to keep an eye on Mac forums and comments for once Apple releases the cat.
I asked Rainer about a kind of "secure delete" trashing feature I'd seen illustrated in one of the betas by France's Univers MacWorld, but this came and went and may or may not be in the public release. In any event, there's the new File Vault for security freaks, which is far from proof against hardened hackers, but would still take some cracking.
A woman from SVMMac, often mentioned here, took one look at the press badge I'd asked for, since I didn't want to pay to get in, and said:
"I thought you were on strike!"
"Sorry," I replied. "To be honest, I don't know whether AFP is right now or not, but if they are, then I'm on both sick leave and strike."
For which she rewarded me with an attractive big coffee mug.
Most of the other people I sought out came from various software companies I've had dealings with on the 'phone. It was good to put faces to the names and to find that I can now give a passable impression of speaking geek and understanding it.
I had a quick chat with Yves Cornil (home page), one of the finest French advocates and historians of the Mac and a key player in this country's Apple User Group community. Mainly, I wanted to thank him for an invaluable list of French Mac sites I must have recommended to dozens of people for their bookmarks.
A bigwig from the French branch of O'Reilly was free for a chat and gave me some useful tips on where best to read up Unix and Open Source systems, principles and software further.
So the sometimes severe unpleasantness of the Condition has had its benefits, allowing me swiftly to make the most of this year's show after a summer of learning.
It was the Condition and exhaustion that took me away rather sooner than I would have left, but that was a wise move in another respect since I failed to leave my Visa card at home.
I bought two things.
I told the French Intego developers that I'd have liked to update their NetBarrier firewall to version 10.3, but the upgrade itself was "too expensive for me", despite the new features.
"Not here at the Expo it isn't," I was told, and when they knocked off the cost of a meal at the Canteen, out came the card.
And now I confess.
The "need" that had returned to "want" status turned into desire at the FNAC stand. I learned that September's special offer to members had been revised to five more gigabytes than announced. It could also be repaid over 10 months -- "or even 20 months if you want!" "No thanks, I do try to avoid credit these days" -- at an interest rate which may explain why people on the Beeb were saying nasty things about the French (and German) economy this morning.
The iPod -- oh yeah! -- is still in its sealed box, to be explored and played with tomorrow.
I walked away with the 20 GB model and now have no excuse for failing to back up all of my data, not just the essentials.
After all, even Wagner's 'Ring' cycle, in high-quality AAC format, would only take up a 10th of the space.
And they threw in a free extra or two for the music machine.
All in all, a thoroughly profitable three hours or so, without the horrible crowds of previous such visits.
Why was spending money so absurdly good for the mood?
11:57:11 PM link