Macworld 2012 — Thoughts, Reflections, Reactions

After spending three full days experiencing the joys of my first time at Macworld, I thought I’d share some impressions and reactions.

The Expo Floor

As Hackett so eloquently put it, I expected the show floor to be and endless series of little kiosks “hawking iPhone cases I have no interest in.”

Turns out, that wasn’t too far off. But, my friends and I did come across a couple diamonds in the booth-babe-laden rough:

  • Olloclip is a very cool iPhone camera lens doohickey that slips over the built-in camera giving you wide-angle, macro and fisheye lenses. It didn’t take long to sell me on this thing and it shows in my Instagram feed.

  • StudioNeat is a little outfit that makes the Cosmonaut stylus for touch screens as well as the Glyf line of products for the iPhone. I’ve had a Glyf for awhile and love it, so I upgraded to the Glyf+ kit (which includes some extra things) and grabbed the Cosmonaut for when the kids and I feel like drawing on the iPad.

Tech Talks, Sessions or Whatever They’re Actually Called

Truth be told, the official goings-on of the conference itself weren’t the primary reason for my coming here. My friend and fellow OmniFocus nerd David Sparks had a couple of presentations on the schedule and I definitely planned on seeing those (which I did), but that was about the extent of my plans as far as official Macworld stuff. I did end up seeing a handful of other talks, but not many more than I had planned.

My favorite talk was definitely the 40 Tips in 40 Minutes with David, Brett Terpstra and Merlin Mann. In many ways, it felt like I was watching some kind of strange nerdy game show where the contestants had to quickly and substantially improve the productivity of the entire audience before being fed to the sharks. It was funny and informative and went a long way toward cementing all three guys—all of whom were previously personal heroes of mine—into my personal productivity hall of fame.

The other talks were fun, for the most part:

  • Mac Power Users live recording with Rob Corddry — An interesting conversation with a (relatively) non-techie celebrity about how he uses Apple gear to get his stuff done. Not a whole lot of new info for me, but it was definitely entertaining.

  • Jason Snell, Andy Ihnatko and John Gruber on the future of Apple — Gruber and Ihnatko are two of my favorite writers on the web, so there wasn’t much chance of this talk being a dud.

  • David Sparks showing off OmniFocus — Nothing like watching the master at work. Even as a veteran OmniFocus user, I came away with a couple of new tricks I didn’t know before hearing David’s talk.

  • A bunch of Mac pundits talking about the apps they love and what’s wrong with them — This sounded like it would be much cooler than it was; didn’t care for it.

So, yeah, the talks were fun and everything, but the real reason I came to San Francisco (and the reason I’ll be back) is the hands I was finally able to shake.

The Nerds

As you can probably imagine, I met a metric buttload of people during the conference. Long-time Internet buddies as well as new friends make up the following list. Namedropping!

Being able to finally shake hands and have drinks with some of my favorite Mac nerds was definitely the highlight of trip. Even though I’ve been chatting with the likes of Ben Brooks, Shawn Blanc, Stephen “Patrice” Hackett for a dog’s age, it was a pleasure to spend so much time with them during the trip. Really a quality group of guys.

Our regular crew also included a few other blokes who I didn’t know as well at the start of the trip, but ended up having many meals and drinks with: specifically Thomas Brand (Dr. Egg himself!), Matthew Panzarino (starlet of TheNextWeb) and the inimitable Pat Dryburgh. Cut from the finest cloth, these guys. I was also extremely fortunate to finally share a drink and some great conversation with James Marwood, long-time Twitter pal and a real gentleman.

Of course, I didn’t live in a cave before coming here, so I was bound to encounter a couple of familiar faces: David Sparks was absolutely cutting it up everywhere I looked. Mike Vardy—old friend, man about Internet and one of the funniest Canadians alive—was a great addition to any party lucky enough to include him.

Finally, the fly-by’s; the folks I met briefly (and may or may not have known beforehand), but who definitely made my time here a damn site better. And, since this is a blog, here’s a list!

(I’m absolutely sure I forgot more than one person — you’ll have to forgive me)

Like I said, the people are what make things like this great; thanks to everybody who was nice to me and put up with my stuttering, mumbling ass.

The Food

I won’t go too far into this, but the food was fantastic and I’ve basically spent the last 4 days declaring thermonuclear war on my own liver. I did eat fish eggs, though. Also, if you ever find yourself in San Francisco, don’t miss Blue Bottle (for coffee, light breakfast) and be sure to order a pint of Anchor Steam on draft.

Anyway, moving on.

The Tech

As previously discussed, I only brought my iPad 2 (equipped with my trusty ZAGGfolio), iPhone 4S and Kindle with me. I’ve done a fair bit of writing, note-taking and communicating these past few days and I never once felt like I needed a real computer. I know it’s not any kind of laptop replacement, but I’m discovering more and more just how damn good the iPad is for a great many things.

Next Time

As I said on the Twitter, I had a hell of a good time here at Macworld. I have no idea how much longer the show will be around—many long-time attendees seem to think it’s got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel—but I’ll definitely be making my way up here next January.

Until next time :)

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