Category Archives: MWSF

iPhone announcement anniversary

Eight years ago today, the iPhone was officially unveiled.  Since I was working for Microsoft on Office:Mac at the time, I was at the Moscone Center.  We also officially announced Office:Mac 2008 (whose previous codename was Magnesium) that week, an announcement which got overshadowed by the iPhone announcement.

I remember that announcement.  Since we were going to announce Office:Mac 2008, several of us got to sit in the VIP section for the Stevenote.  Behind me in the VIP queue was the guitarist of Cheap Trick, which meant that I knew who the super-secret band was for the Macworld Blast party that night.  During the Stevenote, I sat next to my then-manager.  Just before it began, he told several of us that he was sick of seeing John Mayer at these things, and he swore he was going to storm the stage in protest if Mayer showed up again.  He didn’t, but we had a lot of fun coming up with what the headlines in the tech press would’ve been.

I also remember the announcement because that’s the time that I got blind-quoted by Cult of Mac.  I remember the calls that night to let the PR team know that it was me.  They told me that no-one else would notice this thing because nothing was going to get column inches if it wasn’t iPhone-related.  I was still freaked out.  They were, of course, right.  (It does mean that when I got approached a few months ago by the self-same writer of that story to do an interview, I laughed and laughed and laughed.)

Looking back at my blog post that considered what little we knew about the UX of the iPhone, it’s fun to see what I got right and what I didn’t.  I guess it’s a toss-up about whether I was right about scrolling behavior, since the iPhone and Mac scrolling behavior was divergent for awhile, but now has converged to the iPhone model, and scrollbars have mostly disappeared, too.  I was right about the apps that I can’t delete.  I still have a stock ticker that I never use, and there are even more apps that I can’t get rid of.  Tips?  Really, Apple?  Tips is like Clippy but even less useful.

My iPhone immediately replaced my iPod, and I effectively haven’t used one since.  Once my iPhone got Exchange support, and thus I could stop trying to use Exchange Web Access 2007 on my iPhone1, my iPhone became something that I didn’t let out of my sight.  And, ever since I got that launch-day no-subsidy iPhone, I don’t think I’ve let an iPhone out of my sight.  I’ve got an iPad to keep my iPhone company, too.  The iPhone replaced my flip phone, my Palm, and my iPod.  My iPad hasn’t replaced anything, although it has reduced my laptop usage some.  Perhaps when the iPad hits its eighth anniversary, it will have replaced more.

  1. Now that was a website not optimized for mobile!

MacIT 2014 presentations

I’ve been way too busy to write up a post about how awesome MacIT 2014 was this year.  For now, I’ll post public links to presentations that I’ve found:

For those of you who attended MacIT 2014, all of the presentations should be available on the website.

There were plenty of tweets during the week, including lots of pictures (many of which are pictures of slides).  The hashtags #macit2014 and #macitconf were the ones that I found the most useful.

Edited 2014-04-06, 21:12: added “Essential Security & Risk Fundamentals”.
Edited 2014-04-07, 10:10: added “Building Better Users”.
Edited 2014-04-10, 14:09: added link to github repo for Facebook’s IT tools.

  1. This is an Evernote shared notebook. As of 2014-04-07, Clif’s presentation is about halfway down in the notebook, past all of the stuff about iBooks.

on the eve of MacIT

On the eve of MacIT, I give you this wisdom from @sadserver

If you watch a movie of your life backwards, it’s about a sysadmin who regains youth/happiness as they forget more and more about computers

If you’ll excuse me, I’ll just go have a little existential crisis now.  If you’re at MWSF or MacIT, we can cry into our beers together.

MacIT 2014 call for speakers

The MacIT 2014 Call for Speakers is now live.  MacIT will be held in San Francisco, California, on March 26-29, 2014.  In short, we’re looking for people who have experience as Mac system administrators who want to share their expertise and network with other Mac sysadmins.

Personally, here are some things for which I’d love to see MacIT proposals:

  • creating heterogeneous IT environments — How did you go from a homogeneous environment to a heterogeneous one?  What did you learn along the way?  What would you do differently?  What caused you to move to a heterogeneous environment?
  • integrating Macs and iOS into enterprise IT — How did you manage the transition?  How did you train your staff?  What changes did you have to make to your infrastructure?
  • Mac virtualization beyond the desktop — Don’t get me wrong, I love the Fusion team and use it myself, but there’s a lot more to virtualization than just running Fusion on your desktop.  What are you using to provide a virtual Mac infrastructure?  What kinds of applications are you using in your virtual Mac infrastructure?  What kinds of users use your virtual Mac infrastructure?

The Call for Speakers has additional topic ideas, too.  Don’t feel limited by what I’ve listed here!

If you’re interested in speaking at MacIT but aren’t sure if you’ve got a good topic, I’d be happy to chat with you and brainstorm an awesome topic for you.  Just ping me.

it’s official!

It’s official!  I’m on the MacIT conference advisory board.  They get a girl and someone who knows enterprises, all wrapped up in one sarcastic package.  I’m not sure they realize what they’ve signed up for.

(Actually, I’ve been participating in this for months, but I’ve been excessively bad about getting a bio and headshot to IDG for inclusion on the website.)

submit your proposals to MacIT!

MacIT 2013, which is part of Macworld Expo, is looking for speakers to discuss topics of importance to the Mac IT community. It’s held in San Francisco on January 31 – February 2. Some ideas for topics include:

  • integrating iOS devices and Macs into Windows environments
  • OS X enterprise solutions
  • enterprise applications for Apple devices

The complete call for submissions, including more information and potential topics, is here.

I’ve just been invited to join their advisory committee, and I’ve spoken at MacIT and Macworld Expo several times before.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t also include the call for submissions for Macworld Expo.  The deadline for submissions to both events is September 9.

The difference between the two is that MacIT is for an IT audience, whereas the Expo is for a more general audience. For example, a few years ago (while working for my former employer), one talk that I gave at MacIT was how Exchange administrators can configure their Exchange environment to better support Mac users and troubleshoot issues that occur for those users, whereas my Macworld Expo talk was about how Outlook:Mac end users can take better advantage of Exchange features.

Please feel free to email me if you’d like to brainstorm ideas for potential topics, chat about the conference in general, or ask any other questions that come to mind.

upstairs, downstairs: thoughts on Macworld Expo

I checked out Macworld Expo this year.  I’ve gone every year since 20061, and I’ve always had a great time. But, speaking as someone who only got to check out the Expo and not the Conference, I just didn’t find Macworld to be a great event.  I was predisposed to loving it, and I couldn’t this year.  Based on some of the other articles I’ve read and conversations that I’ve had with others who attended this year, I think it’s an upstairs/downstairs issue.

Looking at the session list for the Conference portion of Macworld, it was awesome.  The Conference is broken into several tracks.  The Users Conference has fantastic sessions.  There were 6 Mac tracks and 2 iOS tracks.  The Mac part includes sessions, both beginner and advanced, across productivity, photography, and business.  The MacIT track is my favourite, but then I’m a geek.  That part of Macworld 2011 looked like it was just as great as it’s always been.

The Conference is, both literally and figuratively, upstairs.  This year, it was held on the second and third floors of Moscone West.  By all accounts, it was spacious and comfortable.  There was plenty of seating for the all-important hallway discussions.  Contrast that to the downstairs of the Expo.

The Expo is totally different now that Apple has left the building.  There are fewer companies represented there.  While some people have been joking for several years that the Expo had just been about iPod/iPhone cases, there were still lots of Mac developers there.  Even better, the booths were usually staffed by their technical team, so spending time in their booth was very productive.  As someone from an application team working in a booth myself, I really appreciated the opportunity to talk to the users of my applications, get feedback from them, and help them out with problems.  As a Mac user myself, I loved being able to talk to the developers of some of my favourite applications.  Sometimes this was giving them feedback, sometimes it was to request a feature, and sometimes it was simply to tell them that I love their apps.

With Apple being gone and many of the big players deciding to sit this one out, it left room for a lot of small players.  And a lot of these small players were in iOS development and accessories.  It was weird to see Thinkpads and Vaios on the show floor.  I’m an iPhone and iPad user too, but it’s still called Macworld.  I wanted much more Mac and much less iOS.

There were lots of tiny booths.  This meant that it was a good opportunity to meet some of the smaller vendors (albeit with the caveat that many of them were iOS vendors that I wasn’t as interested in), but it created a traffic jam in the aisles.  Moving through the aisles was bloody well nearly impossible.  Since the vast majority of booths were very small booths, no-one other than the booth workers could actually be in the booth.  To stop and see what was going on in a booth required that you stop in the aisle, which blocked everyone else from moving past.  This was even worse in the teensy four-sided kiosks that took up one corner of the show floor.  There were things in there that I wanted to check out, but the teeming crowds in that section made it too much of a hassle to go in and talk to developers.

Adding to the problems on the show floor was that there wasn’t anywhere to hang out with friends for those of us who were only downstairs.  A large part of Macworld, for me, is the networking aspect of it — that so-called hallway track.  At previous Macworlds, I got to see lots of my existing Macworld friends and make more of them.  This year, there were only a handful of tables at the back of the hall, which were generally taken up by people eating.  With the aisles full, there was no place to move to the side and talk.  The lobby only had a few chairs near the coffee cart.  There was no place to hang out, and no place to stand within a booth.  As a result, I lost most of the serendipity of meeting someone new.  I also didn’t run into old friends unless I had arranged something ahead of time, which further cut the networking aspect of it.

This year as someone who only got to spend time on the Expo floor, Macworld just felt like a non-event to me.  I know that part of it is that I didn’t get to spend as much time there as I have in the past2, but I also think that part of it is how the show evolved this year.

There’s a disconnect between the Expo and the Conference.  The Conference upstairs still is Macworld.  Having some iOS tracks in there makes sense, but the focus is on the Mac.  The Expo downstairs isn’t Macworld any longer.  The Expo is Appleworld — and I’m only calling it Appleworld because iOSworld sounds pretty lame.  There were still a few Mac developers on the floor, but even most of those were often showing off their latest iOS applications in addition to their Mac offerings.  The rest is all about iOS.

I can see why most of the Mac developers chose not to get floor space this year3  With an Expo that has become increasingly focused on iOS in previous years, taking part in the Expo is a big cost that has a questionable payoff.  There’s the cost associated with the booth: renting the floor space on the show floor, as well as putting together the booth.  These things are Not Cheap, especially for a big professional booth.  More importantly, there’s the cost to the engineering team.  As I mentioned above, most developers sent members of their technical team.  As a result, those developers lost a week of productivity.  This is worthwhile if there’s a benefit to the developer as well as to the community.  But without a critical mass of Mac users who are interested in discussing Mac software, there’s a much smaller benefit to the development team, not to mention only a small benefit to the Mac community.

I think that the disconnect between the Conference and the Expo has to be addressed.  I’m not sure what the best way is to accomplish this.  I hope that it can be done.

  1. Which makes me a relative noob, I know.
  2. Such as for the Office 2008 launch, where I got a hotel room at the W for the entire week instead of making the long trek home to Mountain View every night
  3. It must be said that I have no inside knowledge of why either my current or my former employer didn’t have a booth at Macworld this year.  This is only my opinion, not a representation of anyone’s decision-making process.