My MacWorld 2008 [updated]

I hope you all will permit me a non-campaign and non-school related post. Enjoy!
Those who know me know that every year I go to MacWorld. This year was no exception. I love walking every nook and cranny of the show floor looking for new and neat stuff. This year was no exception. I never seem to have enough time to get to everything I want.
Well anyway, hear are my impressions.
Deals! Deals! Deals!
Let’s start with the important stuff… the deals! Some of these end very soon so act now. Here are the deals that tempted me.
  1. Buy Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 Mac 10% of with promo code MACWORLD08 at the Adobe store until 1/31.
  2. RAGE Software - show specials on all products until Friday - coupon code MACWOLRD08.
  3. Kensington MacWorld 2008 deals on there cool mice and other products until 1/21/08
  4. Aspyr gives you $5 off some releases until 1/25 (coupon code: MACWORLD)
  5. SmithMicro Macworld 2008 Store has deals until 1/27. VMWare Fusion is a good option. Most of the others don’t really interest me.
  6. SmileOnMyMac.com: 20% off - dealmac.com. I’m going to get PDFpen for filling out PDF forms. They have other interesting stuff too. They also have an education store that gives 30% off.
  7. Home design studio from Punch! Software - 20% off until 2/15. Need home design software. I guess we’ve been doing too much remodeling talk lately (kitchen, media center, bathrooms next...).
  8. Western Digital MyBook Studio hard drive can be had for 20% off with coupon code MAC2008 until 1/31
For even more deals check out dealmac: “expo” deals
Best of Show
Here are the Macworld Best of Show winners that turned my eye the most.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac
One word: Awesome!
The killer feature for me is
PhotoMerge. It allows you to merge group shot photos to big the best shots of everyone. I could have used this for our Christmas card picture. With kids always one is looking at the camera and the other isn’t. Check out the demo to really understand.
This feature alone is going to get my to pre-order this. And of course it has all the standard photo editing and managing tools. $89 pre-order deal.
Eye-Fi
Super cool! I walk up to their super small booth and this guy comes up and says, “Want to see the demo?” He then takes my picture and wirelessly it gets uploaded to iPhoto. It’s amazing they fit a wi-fi radio into an SD card. A 2 GB SD card is $99. A bit pricey, but super convenient. Perfect geek toy. While I was standing there he found out he was best of show at MacWorld. They also got an award at CES the week before.
BusySync
This is a nice little program that can sync iCal calendars between your local macs. In the next version they’re adding Google Calendar support. I’m real tempted to pick it up. I live and die by my calendar, so have it in sync everywhere would be nice.
Best of Bryan Show
So what did Bryan like best at the show?
OmniGroup
I always visit OmniGroup. I own most of their products including there just released OmniFocus (which also got best of show). I learned that they’re working on OmniGraffle 5 and that it will be able to read binary Visio files, which is great for those of you who work in Visio shops. I like Visio, but there’s something about the elegance of OmniGraffle that makes it just feel easier to use even though it doesn’t have nearly the same stencil set and feature set as Visio.
1Password
This is a program I love. It makes all those internet passwords effortless to fill in and works in all Mac browsers. I highly recommend it. I met one of the main developers. Nice guy from Ontario, Canada. He told me they’re in beta on a My1Password website that will allow you to access your passwords form anywhere via the web. He said his goal was to keep it very inexpensive for 1Password users. He just wants to cover the cost of server hosting and bandwidth.
Games
The usual game Mac companies were there (Freeverse, Aspyr, Feral) as well as EA. Nothing that interested me too much except for Battlefield 2142: Macintosh. I played that for 2 minutes and was hooked. It’s next on my list just as soon as I finish Command and Conquer 3.
At
Aspyr I talked to a real nice tech support guy about my problems running Empire at War. It was refreshing to be taken seriously. I’ve always liked Aspyr’s customer friendliness.
While
Belkin isn’t a game company, they had one of the more interesting gimmicks I’ve seen in a while. They had a champion Quake player who goes by the alias PMS Missy. If you could kill her once in 3 minutes playing Quake 4 you got a Best Buy gift card. Needless-to-say I got schooled. I went back later in the day and found out that no one scored a Best Buy gift card. It’s amazing, but video game playing has gone professional. PMS Missy and PMS clan do challenges like this all over the place now. If only I knew playing video games was a career option. Happy
Cameras
So I decided to look for a new digital camera. It’s amazing how much they change every year. Mines three years old and I feel in the dark ages. More on my camera search later, but I have to say MacWorld is a nice place to compare and contrast. Casio, Nikon, and Canon are all there showing off their latest.
Apple
Turns out I didn’t get to the apple booth until only a half hour before the show closes. Ugh! Here’s my take on some of the announcements.
  • MacBook Air Another elegant and amazing Apple product. Even though my rational mind says it’s not the right laptop for me, I can’t help wanting one. Darn Apple! This was is totally worth going to the Apple store to see in person when it’s out. Check out the videos of it’s multi-touch trackpad. That was very cool! You can bet it’ll make it’s way into the other MacBooks.
  • Time Capsule Everyone’s talking about MacBook Air, but for me this was the most exciting announcement. I recently decided I needed more disk space for backups. This combines a disk and an 802.11n base station at an extremely competitive price (1 TB $499). Amazing! I’m totally getting one.
  • AppleTV I wanted to see this, but didn’t get to. I’m very interested to see how much better take 2 is.
  • Apple iPhone Yes, I know it’s awesome. I’m waiting for 3G though. The new apps they released are very nice.

iTunes Library Sync Saga
I’ve been looking for a way to keep two different sized libraries in sync. I want a small library on my laptop and my full library at home, but I want ratings, play counts, and new additions to all be relatively easy to sync.
I stumbled across an application named
SuperSync that syncs two iTunes libraries over a network. I bugged the developer a bit and then decided what the heck, I’ll buy it and try it.
A few hours later I stumbled across ANOTHER iTunes library sync program —
TuneRanger.
I’m honestly not sure which one is better or how they differ, but I’m going to start with the one I bought. Both programs are cross platform (i.e. on Windows too).
Miscellaneous
Here are some miscellaneous things that I noticed on the show floor.
  • FastMac - They over a wireless 802.11n card you can install yourself (for the brave) in your MacBook Pro - $59 at the show; $99 normally. Good to know that option is out there.
  • Guitar Center offered the - MIDIsport Uno for $39. It provides a MIDI to USB interface for 1 device. Perfect for me to plug my keyboard into my Mac and use Garage Band to rock out! Alas
  • Harmony One remote: This replaces the excellent Harmony 880 remote which I own. It has much better buttons and a cool touch screen. Retails for $250, but you can get one for much less. Also look for close outs on the 880.
  • I love my Belkin Flip VGA keyboard/monitor switch. They announced a DVI version last year, but somehow I missed that it was actually shipping. Belkin : Flip DVI-D KVM Switch with Remote - (Part #F1DG102D) - $149
  • Yugma looked interesting. They were talking about a cross platform Skype plugin. They support Windows, Vista, Mac and Linux — truly cross platform. Might be good for work.
  • Intuit rewriting Quicken Mac from the ground up. This is major! The new version is expected in the fall, but it won’t have the same feature set of the 2007 version. Update: More details in the MacWorld article. I feel for the Quicken Mac team and applaud their bold move. Quicken 2007 is an ancient code base probably even still compiled in Code Warrior. Getting to Intel native would be a major undertaking (much like the Office 2008 team just took years to do). Instead they’re doing it all in Cocoa and giving it a true Mac look and feel. On the down side they aren’t likely to have any of the investment, stock, and 401k stuff. Quicken Online, their new all online product, may help bridge the gap by providing investment and stock hooks.
  • I bought Swift Publisher from Belight Software in the December Macupdate Promo. I found it so easy to whip up a flyer that at the show I upgraded to the retail version with like 23,000 clipart images.
  • TechTool Pro 5 is coming in March. I own TechTool Pro 4, but thankfully have had no need to use it. For better or worse I’ll upgrade when I’m in desperate need.
  • DiskWarrior from Alsoft - Version 4.1 coming next week with full Leopard compatibilty. Show price was $79; it’s regularly $99. Very well regarded product, but again I’m going to wait until my hour of need.
  • Elgato Systems - didn’t get as much time to look at these guys as I would have liked. They always have an excellent show special if you’re in the market for their products.
  • Mac Office 2008 - I am going to upgrade. Being Intel native is nearly reason enough. Exchange support is in Entourage 2008 supposed to be a bit better too, which will help me at work. (updated)
Furniture section
What’s more exciting?! We’re redoing our office and I was keeping an eye out for more pleasing laptop stands like the Rain mStand - $49. But other than that I didn’t find much, except for the weird stuff at Anthro. Not my style.
I know from first hand experience that being in a chair all day is hard on the body. I’m always interested in the latest. I stumbled across
Swing Seat, which make an interesting approach. It was quite comfortable and they seemed knowledgeable about how to customize your chair for you. Prices where in the $300 to $400 range, which isn’t too bad for a good chair. But for now I’m sticking with what I got.

Updates: Fixed broken links and noted that OmniFocus also got best of show. Much deserved.
Updates 2: Added Quicken, Entourage, and Exchange articles

My History with Fremont Schools

I have been involved with Fremont school issues since 1992 and was a student in Fremont schools since 1979.  Here are some of my accomplishments.
  • Advisory Commission on Instructional Equity (2007 to present)
  • Board of Education Trustee (2006)
  • Financial Advisory Committee (2003 – 2006) – Served as Chairperson in 2005.  Advised the district on $9 million in budget cuts in 2003.  I worked to develop the district’s User Friendly Budget.
  • FUSD Educational Facilities Financing Corporation (2004 – present) – As president of the board of directors, I signed the $18 million loan required to build the new MVROP facility at Kennedy High School.  The loan is to be repaid from the sale of the Liaola site.
  • Superintendent’s Technology Advisory Group (2005 – present) – A joint effort by staff and the community to establish a FUSD technology vision and technology advisory committee.
  • School Services State Budget Workshop (May 2005) – As FAC chair I was invited to attend the May Revise workshop.
  • Technology Task Force (2003-2004) – Member of this superintendent-created 6-month task force
  • Citizen’s Facilities Committee (1998-99)
  • Graduate of Fremont schools – Washington High School, 1992
  • FUSD Student Board Member (1991-1992) – Served on the board during the 1991 Measure A bond and the approximately $5 million in budget cuts.
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