MacWorld Expo 2011 – Worst of All

This is a guest post written by Imei Hsu as a follow-up to her MacWorld 2011 – Best of All post.

When I do something wrong, I apologize. Making errors can be embarrassing, which probably has something to do with why I’ve taken so long to share with the community my Macworld Expo 2011 Worst of All post, a.ka. face palm edition. I don’t like people to feel ashamed for what might be experienced as anything between, “WTF?” to “I don’t get it.” But here are my thoughts on this year’s MacWorld “Worst of All” picks.

Worst of All

iFusion – OK, I get that for those who work in an office space with more than ten employees who have iPhones, being able to turn your iPhone into a desk phone via Bluetooth using the iFusion could be a viable solution. I do not understand how a business owner would justify paying $169 per unit so you as an employee could enjoy a charging station and your music over the speaker without getting a neck cramp. Nor could I understand that the unit is only for iPhone, and not for other kinds of mobile phones, because what is the likelihood you’ll know what employees have iPhones (unless you bought them yourself)?

I also could not see the home market taking off with this either. I hardly know anyone who uses their landlines much. I could see a much older market finding this product useful, but I was left scratching my head. The handset phone market is dying, isn’t it? Do we really have use for the iFusion? Call it iConfusion.

Yet one more iPad case with a strap. – Anyone who has used an iPad and tried standing or walking with it immediately discovers that typing with one hand while holding it steady with the other takes a little practice. If I recall, that might have been what caused Chris Pirillo to drop my first iPad [BTW, I may already have a buyer for that one when I get the iPad2, hee hee]. However, at Macword Expo 2011, there were quite a few vendors specializing in iPad accessories dedicated to that strap issue. How many iPad case strap vendors does it take to cover a conference? Really?

I’ll admit there were just as many iPhone case vendors as well, but to their credit, quite a few of them had some interesting offerings, including one that made your iPhone look like an old cassette tape, and another that put more bling bling on your iPhone than Zsa Zsa Gabor and Queen Elizabeth combined. At least they were interesting. No picture here. To include one would be flog you with the one corner of the Expo I didn’t wish to revisit.

HatTV. – Or is it TV Hat? Apparently, they are one and the same! Debuting in 2009, the 2011 version comes in all black, converting outdoor mobile phone movie watching and gaming into a mildly pervy, voyeuristic, claustraphobic, and definitely morbid (a la guillotine hood) experience. Inside the hat is a magnifying custom lens and a mobile device holder; outside, the dark material keeps out the sun so you can watch your porn anywhere. But now, the vendor will suggest you to watch your porn while fondling your mate in bed in a seamless user experience. It was declared one of the weirdest products at CES 2010. When the vendor suggested one could cut a hole in the front so the camera could be used to film others for up to six hours of uninterrupted use (yes, he actually did say that in front of me), I laughed so hard I thought I might just throw up. Strangely, I imagine this product would do well in an elephant gift exchange or as a novelty gift in a Mac-centric adult toy store.

Spotty wireless coverage. – The two times I mentioned the spotty wireless coverage (you can get on for a few seconds, but like a speedy merry-go-round, everyone eventually falls off), my friends shrugged their shoulders and smiled. Apparently, this problem isn’t going to be fixed any time soon. But if you wanted to try out that new app you just downloaded, better remember to increase your data plan before attending MacWorld 2011, or it’ll cost you.

Thought: couldn’t vendors raffle away free wireless coverage for the day through their routers if we stood on our heads or flapped our lips about how much we LOVED their product?

Unimaginative booths with even less function. – My parents took us to some conventions back in the early 1980’s, and booths look about as boring then as they do now. I don’t need to remind you how much these spaces cost, and what great lengths some companies go to in order to build ceiling banners and structures to make their booths stand out. Problem: to make a temporary structure not look so temporary. Solution: be creative.

Rather than show you example after example of really plain and sometimes downright ugly presentations of booths, I’ll show you the one that did it “right”. Pictured here is the backside of the structure Gelaskins built. It reminded me of an urban street corner with planned art, and the front side looked like a bar where you could slide up and select from a menu of devices and designs. The fact that Violet Blue and Ben Metcafe are standing in front of it just makes it all that much more attractive.

Gelaskins got it totally right at the conference. At least no one dared to cover their entire vending space with brown paper and leave crayons behind (I won’t tell you what conference I saw that offering in).

The mini kioks were nice, but I had wished the entire thing was arranged a bit more like Disneyland and a bit less like a backyard carnival. Kudos to the small business owners who prepared for purchases by using Square. Boo to those who resorted to carbon-copy receipts (are you kidding? really?).

No road signs and no escorts

The big “face palm” of the Expo isn’t what you’d expect. Isn’t the live demos, panels, and presentations supposed to be the crowd gatherers? Didn’t we come here to learn something new? Instead, I heard some disappointing feedback about the workshops and presentations. Some complained how the presentations barely scratched the surface of the subject, lacking depth or direction. Some were in rooms tucked away from the main floor and poorly advertised. While the MacWorld App had up-to-date information on the locations and times of presentations and panels, I would have missed the best if people hadn’t grabbed me to come along.

I admit I missed a demo that sounded interesting. Some time ago, I had downloaded MorphWiz on my iPad, but I never really used it all that much. The app seemed to draw more “mehs” from other casual users. A man sitting next to me during a music demo started asking me a lot of questions, and the flirt-dork that I am, it took me a few moments to register that he was hitting on me. He wanted me to check out a presentation about to start in another room. I said no, simply because I was uncomfortable. Later, he returned to where I was still seated, saying, “You missed a really good presentation.You should have come,” and he walked away.

That evening, several attendees mentioned they had sat in on a “fascinating” music demonstration by the one of the creators behind the MorphWiz app, Jordan Rudess. Oops. That was the presentation the man had wanted me to attend with him! While I might not be a fan of MorphWiz because I am simply not familiar with the potential of the app, I am smart enough to know that you always start with the inventor if you really want to know the soul of an application. [Ladies: do not ask me if the man was cute. It’s a room full of geeks. They’re ALL cute.] Now, if there had been an indicator of what the actual presentation was going to be, I might have made a different decision. Redemption: I pulled out the app for the ladies and let them play on my iPad, which they had only seen in the demonstration. Score!

Will any of these things in the Face Palm edition of Macworld Worst Of All keep me from attending next year? Doubtful. But I hope next year’s offering continues to inspire, improve, and wow us in the same way as the Apple products themselves. While Macworld doesn’t have the kind of money Apple does, I am confident that Macheads the world over will think of ways to make it work. I am counting on it as a newbie to the world of all things Apple. If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t have changed my brand motto to got iMei?

B. iMei Hsu is a nurse psychotherapist, performance artist, guest blogger on Lockergnome, and writer for Lockergnome’s Psycho Nurse as well as her own webblog Hips For Hire. Her visit to MacWorld 2011 included a field trip to the Mothership, where she ended up coming home with a Mac-mini and a second iPad for Dj’ing. When she’s not playing Battlestar Galactica reruns for her Applehead iCat Siamese Charles-Monet, she’s heating up the dance floor and pouring the red wine in her art loft in Seattle, WA.

Macworld Expo 2011 Best of All

This is a guest post written by Imei Hsu.

Having never attended Macworld Expo in San Francisco before, I really did not know what to expect. Rumor on the street said Macworld would never be the same after Apple pulled out their involvement. Past attendees said the previous expo felt like people walking around in a state of shock and loss. However, Macworld 2011 was a brand new world, with new options, a few strange offerings, and a fresh outlook of things to come. In this post (and the following two posts) I’ll share Macworld’s best, worst, and a few categories I’ve created to help you understand why Macworld Expo 2011 was the place to be.

West is Best
This year’s expo was held in the West Hall of the Moscone Center, with two floors for presentations and the exposition floor. Instead of having the expo split in two buildings as it had been in the past, having everything in one building meant that you could slip between listening to a band playing mostly Apple-centric and techy songs (one being lyrics taken from a letter complaining about a jingle written for, pop into a workshop on how to create a song in less than sixty minutes in Garage Band in the Music Studio (sponsored by Berklee College of Music) , and catch a podcast of the Angry Mac Bastards on the Macworld Live stage without missing a single dubstep. If the expo floor needs to expand, this will no longer be possible. But for this year, the size seemed just right.

And the Winner Is

While it would’ve been easy to wait until all the Best of Show 2011 awards had been bestowed, I challenged myself to make my selections the first day, and then compare with officials selections later. Here they are.

The iPad was the clear winner, and we’re not even talking about having the iPad 2.0 on which to drool. Applications for iPad were abundant, and here’s a short list of a few of my faves:

  • 3D4Medical – I wrote about this educational app for medical clinicians, students, and people fascinated with the human body. With apps for the human heart, muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems users can flip, spin, and see cross-sections in beautiful 3-D color, we’ll no longer need laminated cards to educate patients about their bodies.
  • IK Multimedia VocaLive, iRig Mic and Amplitube 3 with iRig – While I already did a review on Amplitube and iRig with Ben Union, IK Multimedia is rolling out new apps that continue to amaze. Vocalists now have an effects processor, 4-track, and microphone made for the iPad called VocaLive. I’d post my demo here, but we’ve got a little something special planned for Lockergnome’s fans that is a real treat, so I won’t spoil the surprise. While the app is going to be available for iPhone and iPod Touch as well, I can tell you that it looks so much sweeter on the iPad, and I’m not surprised that it was the only way it was being shown on the expo floor. Editor’s note: I want!

  • SouthernStars’ SkySafari (Honorable Mention) – Southern Stars’ SkySafari app in the MacApp store gets my honorable mention because technically they are not new to the scene. They are the reinvented (and apparently, totally reprogrammed and coded) version of SkyVoyager for iPhone, which won Best of Show in Macworld Expo 2010. It puts 300,000 stars and 30,000 deep sky objects at your fingertips. They boasted being the only app that was able to clearly capture the total lunar eclipse back in December 2010. Check out the best demo of this remarkable app for astronomy lovers.

  • Music manipulation for the iPad/iPhone – When iPad DJ and entrepreneur Rana June Sobhany recounted her journey initiated with two iPads and a mixer, she mentioned that the original impetus for doing so was because she felt that a majority of exciting apps for iPad were going to be dedicated towards music creation and manipulation. She’s so dead on right about this, I’m dedicating an entire post to the options users have if they’d like to delve into a little music manipulation and DJ’ing through the expanding options and price points that are available since she burst onto the scene in April 2010.

Best Little Gadgets and Gizmos

A cursory walk around the Macworld Expo floor had me grumbling, “How many companies selling iPad sleeves with a handstrap do we need?” Honestly, there were a few too many vendors selling very creative clothing for your iDevices (or yourself!), replete with bling, original art, and clever sayings like, “iCandy” (I almost bought that one, but it was pink, which is not my favorite color, even if it does go with the slogan). If it caught my eye, it had better be worth getting. Here are my picks:

  • Glif Tripod Mount and Stand – The Glif was the cheapest and most eco-friendly solution to connect your iPhone4 to a tripod. This is what happens when two guys with no big company and no money to invest come up with a clever idea and get it in the hands of the public for a fraction of the cost of other solutions. And when it’s not on your tripod, you can flip the smaller end to grip the iPhone’s side and use it as a stand.

  • Impact Shield – Readers will laugh when they find out that Chris Pirillo was the first one to drop my iPad. Lucky for both of us, it landed on its back, and Chris has since dressed it up with a nice case from Griffin and a screen protector. But what if you’re a bit more of a klutz? You know that you can drop that little prized possession and watch the glass crack in front of your eyes. Don’t say, “Boo hoo.” Watch this little video, and see if you’d like Impact Shield’s super-protective gel wrapped around your Apple goodies:

Editor’s note: yes, that is a LEGO ring on my hand in the video. I must have been stopped over thirty times during the conference by people asking if that was a real LEGO. Yes, it is. No, I don’t have one that is upside-down to fit it. Go make your own.

  • Fling – Unless you want to go to an alternative dating site, be sure to look at and not for the coolest game controller for your iPad. The dual controls work like a joystick, and while I’m not a gamer, these inexpensive pieces might just turn me into one. Like I mentioned above, I chose this as a best pick, and so did Macworld, bestowing a Best of Show 2011 award. Suction cups make these easy to place and remove. Now cats and old people can play games on the iPad. Who knew? While it’s so new I can’t comment on their durability, they get the thumbs up from me. Editor’s note: I want!

Overall, MacWorld Expo 2011 had far more to offer than I expected. If it had been aisle after aisle of cases and accessories, I might have yawned. But with presentations to teach you just about anything you wanted to know to enhance your user experience, and fun apps to turn yourself into a sumo wrestler or a zombie, it was a playground for Apple lovers young and old; in fact, there were quite a number of kids floating about late Friday and all day Saturday. No one hardly paid attention to the booth babes, who were strangely plentiful for the size of the conference. No matter, because we were all pressing our faces into screens and didn’t notice.

Next: Macworld Expo 2011 Worst of All (FacePalm iFails)
After: The Everyday DJ and Musician for the MacEnthusiast

B.Imei Hsu is a nurse psychotherapist, dance artist, and occasional guest blogger for Lockergnome. She also writes for Psycho Nurse on Lockergnome, and hosts her own project. Imei purchased a Macbook in 2008, and slowly became an addict. She now owns a Mac Mini, two iPads, an iPhone4, and that sturdy workhorse, the MacBook with the now famous “Snow White’s Revenge” skin. She lives with her iPad-loving cat Charles-Monet in an art loft in Seattle, WA.

SkyVoyager for the iPhone

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Kevin has sent several videos to us that he recorded during Macworld 2010. This interview is showing us a demonstration of the SkyVoyager App. SkyVoyager accurately shows the sky from any location on Earth, at any time up to 100 years in the past or future. SkyVoyager can show you the sky in same the direction that you’re holding your phone. Shake the phone to activate its compass and accelerometer – now you can identify stars and planets by holding your phone next to them!

You can find any object in the sky by following an arrow that SkyVoyager points in its direction. If you have an older iPhone or iPod Touch, SkyVoyager supports the accelerometer built into your device as well. Tilting the phone now shows you the sky at the same angle that you’re holding your phone. You can stand still without having to twist and stretch your neck. Let your phone do the work for you by moving it around and trying out different positions and angles.

SkyVoyager includes more than 1000 descriptions of the constellations, planets, moons, and stars. It contains hundreds of images from NASA space missions and the Hubble Space Telescope. The descriptions are carefully researched and checked for accuracy prior to adding them to the App.

Thanks, Kevin, for an another excellent interview! Would you like to cover conferences, trade shows, and events in exchange for promotion in our YouTube channel and social media networks? Email me to facilitate the process!

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Do You Use VMWare Fusion?

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VMWare Fusion 3.0 is finally here, and is the best way to run Windows on your Mac. Using a Mac doesn’t mean abandoning your Windows applications and devices. Ditch your PC and safely run your favorite Windows programs alongside Mac applications, while continuing to use your Windows-only devices on your Mac. Instantly launch your favorite Windows applications directly from your Dock or the Apple menu bar at any time. Easily switch between apps and minimize them to your Dock, just like you would with Mac apps!

This video was recorded by Kevin during Macworld 2010.

Would you like to cover conferences, trade shows, and events in exchange for promotion in our YouTube channel and social media networks? Email me to facilitate the process!

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Do You Have a Drobo Storage Device?

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What device do you use for NAS (if anything)? I’ve only heard of the Drobo before, but I’ve never been sent one to review, unfortunately. Kevin recorded this particular “interview” at Macworld last week and I thought it would be good to post if only to ask the question: do you NAS or not?

The Drobo is a storage device that offers multiple hard drives. Drobo holds up to four hard drives, and supports up to 16TB on a single volume as disk sizes increase.

Drobo works with all operating systems, and is the right solution for your budget since you can expand at any time. Purchase as much – or as little – storage as you like up front, and add to it as needed.

Avoid the chaos of having multiple storage devices. Consider consolidating everything onto one expandable device.

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