MacWorld Attendance Booming


Yesterday IDG announced it already has over 28,000 registered attendees. That is pretty amazing considering we are still four months away. I know it was popular to predict the end of Macworld with Apple pulling out but the re-engineering of the event (and moving it to February) may prove to make it bigger than ever. If you decide to go to Macworld this year, make sure to check out one of my sessions.

Speaking at Macworld


I am pleased to announce I'll be presenting two sessions at Macworld Expo and Conference in February. The descriptions are listed below. If you are planning on attending, let me know. I'm already planning these presentations to be something special.

Mac at Work

Feb. 11, 2010, 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

While creative professionals and students have always "seen the light" and used Apple Macintosh computers, the business world has traditionally shunned the Macintosh platform. Up until very recently, the only apples you’d find in business were in lunch bags. That, however, is changing. Macs are starting to pop up in the strangest places including boardrooms, corner suites, and courthouses all over the place. This session will tackle some of the most common work related tasks and explain Mac specific tools to conquer them. Topics will include: mail, task management, word processing and number crunching, presentation tools, PDF management, note taking, project management, business graphics, and billing. There will also be a discussion of how to help Macs play nicely at the workplace including networking with the Enterprise and sharing data with PC colleagues.

This session is for people who suddenly find themselves with shiny new Macs but no idea where to start or those with older Macs but want to go beyond Microsoft Word. The session will describe software and hardware advice, tips, and recommendations to squeeze all the juicy goodness out of that Apple on your desk and, better yet, make participants look fantastic to their bosses, co-workers, and clients.

You will hear about software recommendations, tips, and workflows for using your Mac to do the most common work related tasks better, faster, and with more panache.

Numbers Lab: Spreadsheets with Flair

Feb. 9, 2010 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Apple's Numbers application isn't like the worn out spreadsheet programs you are used too. While it certainly can crunch numbers with the rest of them, Numbers is much deeper allowing you to sort and organize just about any information and share and report your data like no other spreadsheet application. Attendees at this interactive presentation will create Numbers spreadsheets and learn several intermediate to advanced Numbers techniques in a fun and entertaining environment.

This session is for all Mac users looking for a better way to manage information and supercharge their Numbers prowess.

Attendees will learn:

To build and customize Numbers sheets and templates
Formula and function power tips
How (and when) to make compelling charts and graphics
Numbers' robust reporting and printing tools
The best techniques for sharing their Numbers data with Mac and PC users
How to customize the Numbers interface and templates to their own needs.

Macworld Moves to February


Today IDG announced 2010 Macworld moved from January to February 9 - 13, 2010. The location will remain at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. I spoke with several developers, exhibitors, and attendees at this year's Macworld and the one point everyone agreed to was that having the event the week after New Years and the same time as CES was madness. I think the move to February was a good thing and should make it easier for attendees and exhibitors alike.

Free Expo Hall registration for Macworld 2010 will remain open, for a limited time, so if you are thinking about it, go register. I've been to several Macworld expos and for me the experience has always been defined by the community, not the Apple booth, so start making your plans now.

A Lawyer's Take on Macworld

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In addition to my job at Macsparky (the business card really does say "Chief Slacker"), I have another job that actually pays money as a business attorney. So every year in addition to looking for things new and geeky at Macworld Expo, I also take a look for tools useful in the practice of law. Here is this year's take:

Daylite Touch

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Marketcircle's Daylite has become the “go to” applicaiton for running your law practice. This year they had a strong presence at Macworld including numerous demonstrations, presentations from the David Allen company, and previews of their soon to be released iPhone client. It supports full synching with your Daylite database. This is excellent news for Daylite users.

Livescribe Smartpen


Livescribe’s Pulse Smartpen is coming to the Mac. This is, essentially, a computer in a pen. It records all pen strokes and then recreates the pages on your screen. It also records audio while you are taking notes and indexes it to your notes. You must use their paper (printed with the required microdots to give the computer context) but I could use this every day in my practice. This could also be a nice gift for any university students in your life.

FileMaker Pro 10

The new version 10 of FileMaker took several lessons from their consumer product, Bento. It still uses the same file format so the upgrade should be relatively painless. With features and improvements such as persistent sorting, dynamic summary reports, and editable table views, it is clear this upgrade is all about the user experience.



MacSpeech has now been with us a year and the software is showing its maturity through increased stability and additional features. Speaking with the developers I was most impressed with their sense of urgency. These guys are working hard to leverage the Dragon engine on your Mac. If you are practicing law without this tool, you are missing out. Give your fingers a break and check this one out. You can read my full review here.



The Mac software community has exploded with task management applications. I have been running my practice out of OmniFocus now for a year and a half and consider it the best tool for the job. It allows management of tasks by both project and context, allows for easy capture of new tasks from anywhere on your Mac, and includes a robust, syncing iPhone application. Furthermore, it is fully supported by a reputable Mac developer, the Omni Group. The cost for both a desktop and iPhone license is under $100 and while there are cheaper solutions, I've not seen anything better. You can read my full review here.

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Omni Booth at Macworld 2009

Microvision Projector


One of the most notable new technologies was Microvision’s laser based projector. This tiny projector (about the size of an iPhone) easily fits in your pocket and projects at 10 lumens. Because it is laser based, it focuses at any viewing distance. It looks really sharp and you can get 2 hours of projection off the battery. The unit is expected to be available this summer in the $500 price range.

Timeline 3d


While Timeline 3d has been out now a few months, BeeDocs' presence at Macworld should be noted. The developer continues to refine and polish this excellent timeline application that is extremely useful in presentation work. You can read my review here.

SMART Digital White Board

These digital white boards combine the benefits of your analogue whiteboard with the technology of your Mac. This could be useful both in the conference room and the courtroom.

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Who wrote that?

iWork 09

While a lot of people still refuse to look at iWork as a serious business tool, I continue to make other attorneys look bad using Keynote. It just about 10 years ahead of PowerPoint. The new improvements, particularly "Magic Move", will save me hours of fiddling. The increased mail merge hooks between Numbers and Pages will increase your ability to set up forms. I still must admit I do all of my serious writing in Scrivener (review here). Regardless, for me Keynote is worth the price of admission.

While Apple appears to keep focusing its energies toward the Mac as a consumer device, the third party developer community continues to develop excellent resources allowing you to get the edge in your practice with your Mac.

Getting Social at Macworld 2009

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The social aspect of Macworld should not be underestimated. Imagine being surrounded by 14,000 fellow mac geeks in one big pool of geek soup.

Of course you can hone your geek skills in any of the number of conferene tracks but this atmosphere manifests itself in many ways. Groups of attendees spontaneously drop to the floor of conference halls and whip out their laptops of the conference halls to share their latest cool application and applescript mojo. People break out into arguments over the best use of PHP while simultaneously complimenting one another over their vintage T-shirts. Strangers walk up to you and tell you about the latest booth swag with a conspiratorial grin. It really is a fantastic gathering.

In addition to meeting users, you also get face time with your favorite developers. I have reviewed software and hardware for several attending developers and it truly is a pleasure to meet these people who work so hard on making fantastic Mac products. Not only does it afford you opportunity to catch up but also a chance to explain particular requests. The developers are there to hear your feedback and Macworld floor discussions often result in new features and tweaks in your favorite applications.

This year, IDG also introduced “Birds of a Feather” sessions allowing groups of interested users to have an after hours conference room to discuss particular Mac topics. I attended one hosted by Adam Christianson of the MacCast where several experienced podcasters shared their tricks.

In addition to the show room floor friendships, there are a variety of nightly parties and gatherings. This year I attended several. On Tuesday night, and hosted an excellent gathering at Jillian’s (across the street from Moscone.) At it I made several new Apple friends and got to reconnect with some older ones. I also got to commiserate with Arnold Kim about MacRumors getting hacked in the middle of the Keynote.

My favorite Macworld party remains the Cirque du Mac. The Macworld Allstar Band played including folks such as Bob “Dr. Mac” Levitus, Chris Breen, Dave Hamilton, an others. This year it was held in a burlesque club (turned PG rated for the geek crowd) and included a trapeeze artist.

The best social aspects of Macworld for me, however, is the reunion of friends. Meeting up with my gang of podcaster friends makes the trip absolutely worth it. We shared many meals and laughs and I already look forward to seeing them next year. A well placed grenade at the below lunch could have put a serious dent in Mac podcasting.


Macworld 2009 Best in Show Awards

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Having spent three days exploring the halls and conference rooms of Macworld, it is time for the Macsparky Macworld 2009 Best in Show Awards.

Most Promising New Application


I reviewed BusySync several months ago and still use it regularly. BusyMac is taking the next logical step releasing their own calendar application, BusyCal. It is not ready yet but they had a good looking version at their booth. While at first you may wonder why you would pay for a calendar application when iCal is free, after spending some time with the BusyCal beta, I’m very interested. This app was clearly designed by people aware of iCal’s shortcomings. BusyCal provides a variety of features not available in iCal including:

* Bonjour Sync
* Google Calendar Sync
* Multi-user editing
* Security
* Offline editing
* Graphics, icons, and themes
* Sticky Notes
* Live Weather Feeds
* Rich Text
* Recurring ToDos
* List views

It works with and syncs out of the iCal database so it will cause no problems with your MobileMe sync. It will retail for $40. Keep your eyes posted for this one.

Best iPhone Case
Griffin Clarifi


This case actually fixes the iPhone camera with a sliding lens. With it you can take pictures of documents, business cards, and menus that are actually in focus. This makes mobile Evernote much better.

Best Mac Accessory
Ecamm Network BT-1 Bluetooth Web Cam


Although most Macs have a built in camera, this wireless bluetooth camera releases you from the fixed position and works to about 10 feet. It charges from a mini-USB cable.

Best Screencasting Application


While Screenflow has been on the market some time, it is new since last year and certainly deserves a “Best in Show” award. This paradigm shifting screencasting application changed the game for all screencasters.

Best Hard Drive

G-Technology, the same folks that made a portable hard drive that still worked after being run over by a truck, have come up with a Raid-0 solid state drive drive that screams. Data transfer rates top 60MB/sec write and 75MB/sec read speeds when using FireWire 800. Using eSATA, it blazes up to 195MB/sec. This drive is obviously for the high end video market priced at $2,199 for 500GB. This is a sign of things to come and it is good to see G-Technology taking the lead.

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For us mere mortals, they also have the perfect Time Machine Drive, the G-Safe. It simultaneously writes to two independent hard disk drives providing instant back up of your time machine as you save it. For instance, the G-Safe 500 GB includes two 500GB drives and automatically puts one copy of everything you save to it on each drive. I think the 500GB model, priced at $449, is perfect for an external time machine solution.


Best Booth

Great Mac repair and upgrades combined with the “Back to the Future” De Lorean (including the “Mr. Fusion” upgrade). How could you go wrong?


Best iPhone Application
Smule’s Ocarina

Ocarina is the fantastic 99 cent iPhone musical instrument. The Smule booth featured a regular serenade of Ocarina music and other fun audio iPhone applications. Everytime I walked past it, people were listening. Also, during David Pogue’s Macworld Live, Ge Wang, one of the Smule developers played several songs on it along with David Pogue. It was incredible. I really need to learn how to play my Ocarina.

Best Mac Gadget
Livescribe Smartpen


Livescribe’s Pulse Smartpen is coming to the Mac. This is, essentially, a computer in a pen. It records all pen strokes and recreates the pages on your screen. It also records audio while you are taking notes and indexes it to your notes. This is very slick for students and anyone who frequently takes notes.

Best iPod Accessory
AudioEngineUSA W2

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I recently reviewed the new Audioengine W2 wireless iPod/iPhone transmitter. It was the best iPod accessory in Macworld this year giving you a pain free wireless solution for playing your tunes directly from your pocket. Audioengine also displayed a set of unpowered speakers using their same technologies for users providing their own amplification (pictured below).

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Best Work from the Mother Ship


While Apple’s keynote has already been dissected ad nauseum, I spent some time working with the new applications and am impressed with several things:

* iPhoto face recognition is impressive, well implimented, and very useful. How long until this finds its way into Aperture? My magic 8-ball says six months. The incorporation of geo-tagging is a nice;
* New Keynote features and transitions - Chocolate covered goodness. Some of the new animation features will be immediately useful to me.
* Creating Pages forms fillable with Numbers spreadsheets is probably useless to most but very helpful for me.
* Additional functionality in iMovie - It is much better. This should please those that were unhappy with the rewrite in iLife ‘08.

Best in Show
The Macworld Experience.


The best in show award this year goes to the Macworld experience. There was nowhere else in the world this week that I could learn about some of my favorite Mac software and hardware, make new and lasting friendships, attend great parties where it IS cool to talk about Quicksilver, AND I got to dance with YouTube’s Matt. For this reasons, I’m naming the entire experience as this year’s best in show.

Where's MacSparky? Macworld Edition


Things have been busy on my end lately and I'm going to be heading up to Macworld Expo Tuesday morning. While I fully intended to have my plans set by now, sadly that hasn't happened. I can, however, report the following:

Mac Roundtable Recording on Show Floor

I'll be participating in the live Mac Roundtable recording on Wednesday January 7 at 4:00 p.m. at the Mac Learning Center in Booth 3036 in the North Hall. Along with me will be several of my favorite Mac Podcasters. Please stop by and say hello.

Other Interesting Events

I'm also planning to attend several events:

Following the Mac Roundtable recording, Adam Christianson of the MacCast is organizing a user event that should be social and fun.

IDG is also planning a town hall meeting Wednesday night concerning the future of an Apple-less Macworld.

The Cirque-du-Mac party Wednesday night should be a blast. This one requires a ticket but they are not impossible to obtain.

David Pogue's Wednesday morning Letteresque spoof of a Mac based late night talk show is always entertaining.

Leo Laporte is giving a speech Thursday morning. I have no clue what he will talk about but he is always intelligent and entertaining.

I'm sure there will be more. Follow my twitter at "macsparky". My most important Macworld advice is to make some friends and have fun. See you there.

iMacworld on your iPhone


For those of you lucky enough to get to Macworld this January, IDG has recently released its own iPhone app, iMacworld. Currently it has details of show exhibitors but IDG is promising further updates. I assume that will include maps, conference schedules, and related useful information.

Now I'm going to cross my fingers that AT&T has adequate Edge and 3G coverage. Last year it was insufficient and the iPhone was of little use with no signal.

Macworld Hulabaloo

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Wow! The Mac blogosphere experienced 5 alarm fire today when Apple announced that January 2009 will be the last time it participates in Macworld and Steve won't be giving this year's keynote, Phil Schuller will. Apple explains that the significant cost of its participation (probably in the millions) just is not a wise investment. Hmmmm. I find that one a little hard to swallow from a company that reports quarterly profits with the word billion. (that is nine zeros.) The other common explanation, that Apple doesn't want to be tied to IDG's schedule and forced to make major product releases after the holidays, makes a lot more sense.

My reaction to this news is mixed. On one level, I'm disappointed. If you've ever been to Macworld, the huge Apple booth is imposing and lends a certain level of credibility to the event. On the other hand, last year I was at Macworld 3 days and spent about 30 minutes total in the Apple booth.

For every attendee, Macworld is a different experience. Some people arrive to find distributors for their new iPod cases, some people go to develop valuable business relationships. The parts I enjoy most are connecting with new and old friends and and finding great new Macintosh software and hardware to share with the macsparky faithful.

So, on its surface, Apple's 2010 pullout really doesn't affect my experience. If this pullout turns into a slow death spiral for future Macworld expos, that would be tragic. The annual east coast Macworld died shortly after Apple pulled out. Nevertheless, I have hope for Macworld. It is just such a different experience than any other trade show I've ever attended. There is a spirit camaraderie and I'd hate to see that end.

Macworld 2009 Web Brochure


My friend Adam over at Macworld Bound pointed to an excellent virtual brochure published by the Macworld promoters, IDG. I've posted on this before. If you can get away for a few days and want to bask in all that is Mac geekiness, I highly recommend it. I had a fantastic time last year and look forward to returning in January. Now if I can just convince IDG to give me another press pass. Regardless, I will be there reporting back to the MacSparky Nation.

Macworld Bound 2009


Last year I was fortunate enough to get to spend a few days in San Francisco at the Macworld Expo. I must admit, however, that my Macworld experience did not follow the usual path you would expect. I spent the majority of my time slumming the halls meeting tons of great readers, podcasters, developers, and other miscellaneous mac geeks. Indeed, I would have to say the best part of the experience by far was all of the great people I met and new friends I made. I made a point of finding people to eat meals with, visit events with, and even troll the display booths with.

For the benefit of this website, getting to shake hands with individual developers and have them answer my questions made a huge difference in my ability to report and review for the past year. Another nice benefit of the trip was my inspiration for the resurrection of the Mac Roundtable which is doing quite well again.

I had so much fun that I just recently booked travel arrangements for my return. If any readers are going to be up there, let me know. I'll be there Tuesday through Thursday. I thought about going to the Steve-Note but when I realized the extra expenses for that would be about $450 plus a night on the sidewalk, I decided I could avoid the reality distortion field for another year. Also, if you are planning on heading up, don't miss visiting Macworld Bound, where you can get great tips and information for your trip.

Macworld 2008 Sessions Online and Free

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I spent most of my time at Macworld connecting with friends and collecting promotional shirts from vendors. (I think I ended up with seven). I didn't register to attend any of the sessions except those on the show floor.

Well today I discovered that video for most (all?) of the sessions is now online for free at Macworld Encore. The presentations include the keynote slides and are very well done by some of the smartest people in the Mac community. I don't know when I'm going to find time, but I am definitely going to watch several of these.

Macworld Commentary on MacReviewCast


Before leaving San Francisco, I recorded a short narrative of some of my impressions from Macworld 2008. The recording was published this weekend in the Surfbit's MacReviewCast episode 143. The recording was extemporaneous so there is no transcript. If you are interested, you'll have to go download and listen. I assure you it is all pure genius inspired ... umm ... entertaining.

A Lawyer's Take on Macworld 2008


In addition to being an affirmed Mac geek, I am also a lawyer. So as I spent the last several days talking to developers and roaming the halls of Macworld, a few things in particular got me excited about practicing law with my Mac.

Macbook Air

Apple's new machine is a real eye catcher. It is just three pounds and manages to keep a 13 inch monitor. While this would be really nice for the roadwarrior or running around in depositions and trial, the $1800 price tag makes me look twice. If you really need thin and are willing to sacrifice a bit of functionality (no ethernet or firewire) you may want to check it out. I'm sticking with my Macbook Pro for the time being.


For those of you former PC users who miss having DragonDictate in your toolbelt, fret no more. I was never a big fan of iListen, but the folks at at iListen recently acquired the license for the Dragon recognition engine for use on the Mac. Their new product, MacSpeech Dictate will be releasing next month and looks fantastic. I spent about an hour at their booth and am very impressed. I also watched David Pogue fawn over it as it produced very accurate and quick results.

I wasn't alone in my opinion that this product will change things. It was one of the "Best of Show" award winners by several publications. Put this one at the top of your list for productivity boosters.


I'm a big fan of the Omni Group applications. I use OmniOutline, OmniPlan, and OmniGraffle to manage much of my caseload. I got in early on the beta of their OmniFocus task management application and it was just released as a 1.0. This application is fantastic for keeping all the plates in the air. I did an extended review of it at

I talked to the folks at Omni and they are going to do everything in their power to get these applications on the iPhone once the iPhone SDK releases.


For the small offices that don't need the expense of a server but want to sync iCal calendars between multiple desks, there is a great little application called BusySync. For a cost of $20 per computer, you get seamless bonjour and net syncing between machines. They have a new version due out soon that will also allow for Google calendar syncing.


FileMaker is the best application for database intensive solutions. If you are running a small practice, FileMaker's smaller application, Bento, looks really robust.

Billings and Daylite

Marketcircle continues its place at the top of small office management software. They had a nice booth and made regular presentations. I was unaware of some of their interesting add-on products like Daylite Delivery and the FileMaker connector. These guys fill a very particular niche.

Fujitsu ScanSnap

I love my Fujitsu ScanSnap. It is a reliable, fast scanner with a small footprint. Now they have a portable version, the S300M, that retails at $295 and looks perfect for those depositions on the other side of the country.

Smart Board

Smart Technologies has a very impressive device you install over your LCD television that allows you to create a virtual white board like you are John Madden. The price point is steep. I was told "around $5,000" but it sure is nice.

Storage - Drobo and TimeCapsule

While TimeCapsule is aimed as a consumer device, 1TB storage with a built in wireless "N" router is a pretty attractive product.

I was also impressed with the Drobo that allows you to drop up to four swappable drives in with no headache. Interestingly, if you pull out a drive while it is running (or if the drive dies), Drobo automatically moves the data around to protect its integrity. The Drobo device costs $500 without any drives.

For all of you Mac lawyers, I highly recommend visiting Macworld sometime when you get a chance. Not only will you find some great tools for your practice, you'll probably have a good time while you are at it.