| Cult of Mac

Programming Legend Bill Atkinson Says iPad Will Be a Hit


Programming legend Bill Atkinson demoes a mockup of his PhotoCard app at Macworld on a dummy iPad he made for himslef. Photo: Leander Kahney.
Programming legend Bill Atkinson demos a mockup of his PhotoCard app at Macworld on a dummy iPad he made for himslef. Photo: Leander Kahney.

SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD 2010 — Programmer Bill Atkinson, one of the lead authors of the original Mac system, says the iPad will be a big success — and that you have to play with it to understand the magic of the multitouch interface.

“This guy is going to be a real winner,” he said, holding up a model he’d made for himself to visualize how his PhotoCard app would look on the device. Atkinson took part in Guy Kawasaki’s Friday morning keynote presentation.

“Once you get it in your hands and play with it you don’t want to set it down,” he continued. “I think Apple’s got a hit on their hands here.”

Atkinson said he’d played with an iPad for a couple of hours. It’s not a laptop and its not an iPhone, he said, but an entirely new, third device. The magic is in using your fingers to directly manipulate elements onscreen.

Returning to using a mouse is like using a remote control, he said — clumsy and awkward.

Exclusive Preview: FastMac’s iV Line Will Juice iPhone Battery Life


FastMac principal Michael Lowdermilk shows off the iV Light prototype iPhone cover/battery pack/flash attachment.

SAN FRANCISCO MACWORLD 2010 — It’s hard to miss the FastMac booth at Macworld. Just to the right of the Expo floor’s main entrance, the growing gadget and peripherals company has a prime space on the first aisle that was chock-a-block with visitors clogging the walkway to peer in at product demos and snap up the company’s awesome Apple-oriented t-shirts on the conference’s opening day Thursday.

We received an exclusive demo of a product FastMac is rightfully excited about — an updated version of its iV extended battery and portable charger that could soon mute some of the widespread criticism of the iPhone’s anemic battery life.

Many products in the extended battery class are clumsy and brickish. Despite their utility they often fall into disuse because they fundamentally alter the sleek and sexy feel of the so-called Jesus Phone. The new iV, which will apparently come in two flavors, the iV Light and an as-yet unnamed version, could make many power hungry iPhone users rethink the proposition.

With a new, super light-weight construction and supple rubber-like feel, the next-gen iVs will come with a full enclosure for 100% protection of the phone in a form factor that barely increases the weight and dimensions of the naked phone.

With a built-in LED light that calibrates with the iPhone’s camera, still and video captures in low-light situations should help elevate iPhone photography to new levels of quality and creativity.

The still-unnamed product, which should be available “soon,” according to FastMac principal Michael Lowdermilk, will incorporate a red LED which, in combination with a free remote control app, will turn an iPhone into a universal remote that can be used to change TV channels, stereo settings and a host of other useful and disruptive functions.

With no looking back, Macworld is clearly moving on in the post-Apple era and companies such as FastMac stand to gain increased attention with innovative products such as the iV — this is definitely a company to watch.

Wandering Macworld In Search of Ways To Export Jobs From China


Prepress manager Graham Clarke is trying to bring offshore jobs back onshore by investing in easy-to-use masking software.
Prepress manager Graham Clarke is trying to bring offshore jobs back onshore by investing in easy-to-use masking software.

SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD 2010 — Graham Clarke, prepress manager at TravelSmith, a travel clothing website, is wandering Macworld in search of software to help him bring offshore jobs back onshore.

Clarke is looking for easy-to-use masking software, which will allow his company to bring a lot of image processing work — currently performed in China at rock-bottom rates — back to the U.S.

Travelsmith processes about 6,000 product images a year. Each has 10 or 15 masks, which are currently processed in China for $10 per image. “It’s very long, boring and labor intensive,” explains Clarke.

Clarke is taking a closer look at packages like Graphic Authority’s Photoshop Suite and Topaz Remask, which make masking easy.

“Now it’s like painting,” Clarke says. “It’s so quick and easy, why pay for the labor? If we’re paying someone $10 to do something that takes 10 minutes then it’s time to bring it back in-house. It’s ironic. What work went offshore is now coming back because it’s so easy to do.”

“Bumping” Contact Details Via iPhone Is Popular at Macworld


Liana Lehua of the Fittorrent website "bumping" her contact details at Macworld.

SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD 2010 — Years ago at Palm conferences everyone used to get out their Palm Pilots and beam contact information at each other via infrared.

The tradition is alive and well at Macworld, except people are using the popular Bump iPhone app. The free app transfers contact info wirelessly via Wi-Fi or 3G when two iPhones are bumped together.

Wandering the show floor, you can see people bumping their iPhones together. I saw one group of about six people standing in a circle bumping each other.

“I made them all do it,” explained Liana Lehua of the Fittorrent website, nodding at the rest of the group. “I don’t carry business cards, so everyone downloaded the app.”

Macworld Show Floor Is Packed on Opening Day



Woah, Macworld is Packed!

Much to my surprise and delight, the crowds are showing up in droves for Macworld. Though the gates opened just 30 minutes ago, the show floor is already crowded with attendees.

“It’s a zoo up there,” said one paserby who queued up to get an entrance badge.

True, the show is restricted to the Moscone Center’s smaller North Hall (instead of both South and North halls), and it’s not as jammed as some previous opening days, but it’s still a very healthy crowd.

To be honest, I’ve always hated the Macworld show floor. The throngs get old really quick, with people shuffling along in a Magadon dream, bumping you with rucksacks full of crap, or interrupting a briefing with dumb questions.

But still, I’d be sorry to see it go. So best of luck to Paul Kent and co. Long live Macworld!

Pogue’s Keynote Bodes Well For Macworld Without Apple



SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD 2010 — Helped perhaps by low expectations, David Pogue’s opening keynote here was a surprising success, playing to a packed, standing-room-only audience and bringing in a steady stream of laughs at Apple’s expense.

Pogue’s keynote was a variety show, with interviews, skits, singing and dancing — and a one-act play starring LeVar Burton as Steve Jobs.

Pogue also showcased the work of The Gregory Brothers, a quartet of Brooklynites behind Autotune the News.

Overall, the show was charming and funny light entertainment. A traditional Steve Jobs keynote it was not.

One of the characters in Pogue’s play managed to call Steve Jobs a “creepy vegan megalomaniac.”

That kind of thing would never fly if Apple were here at the show. And perhaps it shows what future Macworlds might be like without the anchor tenant.

The absence of Apple allows the show to be about the bigger topic — the Apple ecosystem — rather than being just Apple, and Apple alone.

“It’s liberating,” said one attendee coming out of the keynote. “I feel good about it. It’s not just about Apple any more.”

LeVar James plays Steve Jobs in a parody of It's a Wonderful Life. Jobs doesn't invent the Mac, and DOS 25.1 rules the world.

Pogue Kicks Off Macworld 2010 With Impression of Steve



SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD 2010 — New York Times tech columnist David Pogue just kicked off Macworld Expo with an impression of Steve — Steve Ballmer, that is, not Jobs.

Pogue stormed the stage grunting and whooping in an exuberant impersonation of the Microsoft CEO, who is famous for his Monkey Boy stage appearances.

“Steve Jobs would have been too obvious,” Pogue said.

It wasn’t a bad start to the Expo. Except for the obligatory song, Pogue is bringing the house down with a string of good jokes at the expense of Apple, AT&T and Twitter.

No Partying at Macworld: Parties Are Way Down


You can tell it's a party by the disco ball. CC-licensed pic by Steve Rhodes.
You can tell it's a party by the disco ball. CC-licensed pic by Steve Rhodes.

The best thing about Macworld was always the parties. MacWeek’s annual Mac The Knife Party was a drunken bacchanal for the ages; Peachpit and O’Reily put on nice literary soirees with cash bars; and Microsoft’s events always had fancy hors d’oeuvres.

Even Apple, a stranger to shows of public hospitality, once threw parties with generous helpings of food and booze. I got so ploughed at one event, I forgot my heavy laptop bag — computer, camera and all. Apple designer Jonny Ive kindly picked it up and lugged it about all evening until we ran into each other later at a nightclub, and he handed it back.

Top 5 Things To Check Out at Macworld 2010


Photographer/podcaster Lisa Bettany is first in line for the 2009 Macworld keynote. CC-licensed photo by Scott Meizner.

Macworld 2010 opens today. It is the 25th annual gathering of Mac users. That’s right, 25 years!

But thanks to the absence of Apple this year, this “Mecca for Mac Heads” may be the last. So check it out while you can.

  • The show runs for 5 days. The Expo showfloor opens on Thursday at noon.
  • For the first time since the eighties, it now includes a Saturday. Expect big crowds, lots of kids.
  • There’s 250 exhibitors, down from 400 last year. Here’s the Exhibitor List.
  • Attendance is expected at about 30,000 visitors. (But most Expo visitors this year got free passes instead of paying the usual $25 fee).
  • People are hoping this isn’t the last Macworld but consider the history. As Jim Dalrymple notes: “Apple pulled out of Macworld Expo Boston/New York — it failed; Apple pulled out of Macworld Expo Tokyo — it failed; Apple pulled out of Apple Expo Paris — it failed.”
  • Macworld Expo Floor Hours: Thu 2/11 12pm-6pm; Fri 2/12; 10am-6pm Sat 2/13; 10am-6pm
  • Twitter hashtag is #macworld2010

And here, in chronological order, is the top 5 things to do at the show:

Craigslist Ad: Wanted, Steve Jobs Look-Alike


Someone is looking for a Steve Jobs look-alike, like this guy, who was snapped at the San Francisco Dyke March in 2008 by photographer/comic Heather Gold. 

Someone is looking for a Steve Jobs look-alike for an “impersonator event” on Friday and Saturday in San Francisco’s SOMA — the area around Macworld.

The actual job isn’t specified, but looking like Steve is important, of course, but so is “punctuality.”

“If necessary, we can provide a black turtleneck and glasses,” the Craigslist ad says.

Pay is $100 a day. Wanna bet it’s handing out Gold Club flyers?

Full text of the Craigslist ad after the jump and check out our Gallery of Uncanny Steve Jobs Look-Alikes