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Macworld San Francisco 2005 Notes

Macworld SF 2005: iPod shuffle


This year's show was the smallest I've ever seen it. Less than half the size of the show at its peak. No longer using halls on both sides of the street, only the one larger hall had booths. That hall was further reduced by filling the left and right sides of the hall with huge non-booth areas: gaming computers, internet cafe, a John Lennon bus, a stage where loud and annoying bands would drown out conventiongoers trying to talk with vendors, and so on. Apple had a huge booth that consumed the middle 10% of the floor. Lots of empty space in that booth, which made it a nice oasis. But even outside the Apple booth, the crowd was small enough that you could walk around freely, rarely get jammed in behind anybody or goosed by an inconsiderate backpack wearer.

iPod shuffle

Do not eat iPod shuffle.

$99 for a 512MB USB thumb drive that also plays music? Wow. These things are going to fly. Apple will have a near-monopoly on the digital music player market. I already own an iPod and find myself seeking any way to justify purchasing one. At only $99, it is almost below the spousal approval line, and almost purchasable solely for its shiny new toy factor. Almost.

Andrew mentioned that he dropped his full-sized iPod at the gym, where it promptly fell onto a treadmill and shot off the back of the treadmill track. I can imagine the horror as the heavy iPod bounced around, doing unspeakable damage to the hard disk. Or not: those little hard disks seem remarkably resilient, his came out undamaged, and my three unscheduled iPod gravity tests have also failed to damage my own iPod.

But if you drop an iPod shuffle, it's like dropping a RAM stick. No moving parts. Light enough that it won't dent its own corners with its momentum.

I also find it clever that they turn the complete lack of a screen (and thus lack of control) into the iPod's main feature: "You can't control what song will come up next! That's cool! Because we say it's cool!" Way to go, Apple marketing!

Mac mini

I used to own an old Mac Quadra 605, the very first sub-$1,000 Mac. I made quite a living on that thing for many years. Even upgraded it to a PowerPC 601 with an add-in card, just so that I could do some PowerPC work for one of my clients.

Now there is a sub-$500 Mac. For $500, I can plug a box into my network that can be a file server, print server, telephone answering machine, video recorder, and a Mac? Wow.

Every year, my parents complain that their Dell PC has once again become unusable, infected with viruses, spyware, and adware. When they asked my advice for a PC purchase, I advised them to purchase a Mac. They ignored my advice, but are happy to ask me to clean up their PC. Last time I wiped their drive and reinstalled Windows 98 for them, I swore that would be the last time, and that next time, I would just get them a Mac. Well, it just became several hundred dollars easier to follow through with that threat.

The Mac mini is going to be an excellent box for switchers. Plug in your existing monitor and keyboard, and stop using that crusty old Windows 98 box.

Gaming Zone

Unsold booth space becomes a videogame zone

There were a ton of Macs set up playing all the latest in Mac games. Luckily there was only one Myst IV computer, and I was able to escape without purchasing a game that could suck away valuable study and programming time.

Carina Software: Voyager

I have been a Carina customer for years. I ran Voyager on my very first Mac II way back in the 80s. It is a fantastic desktop planetarium. I live on the outskirts of town, so I can see far more stars than I did when I lived in the city, but it is still so nice to have the stars right there at your fingertips.

It was quite a delight to bump into Andrew MacBride at the Carina booth. Nice to see a fellow Mac programmer get paid to write Mac software.


If we ever get an iMac, I'm planning on getting a BlueTooth keyboard and mouse. no cables on the desktop. MacAlly had a set for $100.

They also had a nice little graphics tablet for $50. About the same active area as the Wacom tablet I use now, but without all the extra inactive area around the margins. A smaller tablet might be easier to lug around as I do my Japanese homework in various places around the house.

Boinx Software iVeZeen

A nice little video recorder that uses your iSight camera. Could be handy, and for $10 (show special), how could I say no?

Yeah, I already own EvoCam that has a perfectly functional record function, and I never use that feature. So maybe I could say no after all. But iVeZeen has a nice one-button interface, using EvoCam to record is... more complex.

I also liked their Mousepose freebie that makes it easier to see the mouse.

Delicious Library

I'd heard about this product from Dan Wood's weblog ( It lets you scan in your DVD, CD, book, and game library into a database, using an iSight camera as a UPC scanner. I suppose I could get a real UPC scanner instead of the iSight, but why bother?

Actually, "why bother" was my top question for Delicious Library. I mean, if I want to know what books and DVDs I own, I can walk over to my bookshelf and look at the books. Why would I want them all in a database? The answer is "because now you can loan them out and keep track of them." And that's good enough for me. If I can export my library to a web page that my friends and coworkers can peruse and borrow from, that's just perfect. I've got tons of overpriced computer books just collecting dust on my bookshelf.

Also, the software is just beautiful. I love the way the books appear to sit on woodgrain shelves, or metallic shelves while you're scanning in the inventory. Little touches like the tags on the edges of the shelves. Lush.

And now that I think about it, my bookshelves are crammed with books, stacked two deep and so full that I cannot really walk over to my bookshelves and see what I have. I have to shuffle stacks of books around and dig for what I want. So another reason to use Delicious Library: find the older books buried under newer ones.

Scanning UPC codes with an iSight is a little tricky: you can't see the red laser beams like a real scanner, so you kind of just aim and hope. But once you get the lighting and angles right, and learn to avoid reflections, it works quickly, and feels more like play than a chore.

It even works with Japanese titles: when I set the preferences to read Japanese, my Maria-sama books come up with full cover images and Japanese information. Delightful.

Now I need to find a day to roll through the library and scan.


I've been a BBEdit customer for years, but I stopped at BBEdit 7 and never upgraded to version 8, because I really don't use or want all those little HTML editing tool palettes, or CodeWarrior integration, or all the other features they keep loading into an editor whose menus are the exact opposite of "bare bones." It takes me 5 minutes to find anything in BBEdit's 20-page preferences dialog. But its code editing is good, its syntax coloring is worthwhile.

It's only $50 to upgrade to version 8, and they did add some Perforce integration that I might use. Then again, I use the p4 command line so much, that I probably wouldn't.

What I really need is CTags integration, and BBEdit 8 has that, too. Hmm.


Special $29 Macworld pricing through January 31, 2005:

A nifty slideshow viewer. It can take any folder on your hard disk and present a slideshow of the images in that folder. Not all that groundbreaking. The interesting part is that it can also crawl a website and cache all the images it finds, and then show those images in a slideshow. I aimed it at my own site and it worked.

I'm kind of ambivalent about this product. In many cases, crawling a website for images is considered antisocial behavior, since the crawling absolutely pounds the poor web server's bandwidth charges.

But for only $29, it's not a bad little slideshow viewer. I can't really ask for more. But it lacks a few features that prevented me from buying it on the spot:

Power Support: Japanese iPod Covers

There was a small collection of beautiful Japanese patterned covers for iPod mini and fourth generation iPods. Looked like wrapping your iPod in washi paper. Unfortunately, my iPod is a cursty old second generation model, and these covers do not fit it. Oh well.

Ovolab Phlink

Turn any Mac into a telephone answering machine.

I still remember the old days of the Mac Geoport phone adapters. The idea was to turn a Mac into a very expensive, complicated, and unreliable telephone answering machine. What was a horrible idea back then sounds like a wonderful idea now (really). Unlike the old Geoport days, current Macs are reliable and system crashes are rare. We have enough CPU and serial bandwidth to easily handle telephone audio.

The UI on this product was fairly nice. I liked how the receiving Mac could even broadcast incoming telephone call information across the home network, so any Mac on the net could pop up a little screen with the caller ID information.

The $150 price tag is a little steep for an answering machine replacement, but for the hardware and software, actually quite reasonable.


I saw a little booth selling a word processor and a spreadsheet. I wavered and almost went over to look at the products. I'm so sick of using crusty old AppleWorks for my spreadsheet. But I would rather continue to limp along with AppleWorks and hope that iWork will someday soon include a spreadsheet.

Mike Dautermann

Bumped into Mike, he's doing well. Lots of Mac programming work out there if you know how to find it. Good for him.

Ken Hong

Old outrigger canoe racing buddy. Big-time dragonboater. He's still racing. We need a club in Walnut Creek!