Day one of MacWorld/iWorld Expo 2014

Today was day one of the formal part of MacWorld/iWorld. Yesterday was a day of all day sessions, and a day of the MacIT conference, which runs in parallel to the show. I’ve been tweeting out a bit today on my personal twitter account – @michaelrowe01. The great thing about today was that I did the kick off session and a few other talks, but also got to spend some time walking around on the show floor. I didn’t take many pictures, but I did get to meet a few cool apps and app developers.

The first was Tappd – This is not Untappd (my favorite beer tracking app), but a social application recommendations tool that is hoping to address the problem that many of us have with the app store… the inability to find cool apps. I had a chat with @martinuttly and it seems like they may have something here. The App is free and they do not take funding to “improve” app visibility in their app. All of the recommendations are based on Tapps, i.e. recommendations from people in your social network. You can follow people you trust, and get their recommendations. I have installed it, and if you want to follow me in the app, I am using my twitter ID above.

I also had a chat with the team from Cloak. Cloak 2 is a very easy fire and forget VPN solution for the Mac and iOS, that seems to have a really good model. For $2.99/mo you can get a 5GB account of secure data. For $9.99/month you get unlimited encrypted data. But what is the neatest feature for me is that you can configure you device easily and sync it across all of your devices. When you define your account you can indicate which networks you trust. When you device is on that network, it will not enable the VPN, but anytime you are not on those networks, the VPN kicks in automatically. Very cool!

I got to see the developers of my favorite must have app – 1Password. The guys at AgileBits, always have a team of people on the show floor who can answer your deepest technical questions. While this is MacWorld/iWorld they have a version for Windows, and for Android. The Android version is only a reader for now, but there are rumors that a fully 1Password 4 version should be coming out soon! I can now fully recommended 1Password for people regardless of what platform they are on.

And finally I got to see my buddies over at Reallusion. They are showing off their latest cool toy for the Mac – FaceFilter. This tool is great for people who don’t have the time to learn all the ins and outs of PhotoShop but would do want to touch up portraits and other pictures with people in them. I hope to get a chance to play with this app soon and provide a deeper review.

I will try and get a few pictures tomorrow…and will add them to the blog.

Final Day – Future visions

It is always amazing to me how fast this week goes. Saturday came and went, and I am flying home today. I went to two sessions and then spent the rest of the day on the show floor, deciding to skip my last planned session. This ultimately was the right decision, as I got time to see people and booths in more detail.

The first session I went to was on creating eBooks without pulling your hair out.

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My simplistic expectation was that this session was going to focus on Apple’s iBooks, I am so glad that I was wrong. Serenity Caldwell, an associate editor at MacWorld Magazine, and the editor of many of their Super Guides, went thru the workflow of creating three types of eBooks (text only, text and pictures, and text, pictures, animation and video) and how to target the three major platforms – ePub (non-DRM), Mobi (Kindel DRM), and iBooks (Apple’s proprietary format). She explained the tools you need to pick up (both OSS -Open Source Software, and for pay), and even included some of her own code snippets to help you get started… I learned a lot.

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The second session, was a follow-up to a session I went to last year – Student Projects from the Hawaii Prep Academy boarding school on the big island of Hawaii. I have really enjoyed these student presentations, as they show all the passion of science that I had at that age, and they come up with some really innovative ideas. I hope to post a video montage, since I shot a bunch of video on my iPhone. The one and only complaint I had was that their teacher spent too much time telling you about what you were about to see, as well as what they learned, what they used, etc. that the students didn’t have much time to show off their work, nor did they say anything much more than the teacher. I think next year they should let the students talk more. The first student was working with HDR (High Dynamic Range) pictures to build VR (Virtual reality) maps of their campus and the Keck observatory. The second student showcased work she was doing using the Emotiv Epoc headset to research how we react to music. I’ve had one of these at home for a few years, and the technology and API is amazing! The third student utilized the headset to control a AR Drone quadrocopter. The Fourth student was doing research on recognizing patterns in electrical usage within hotels, with the goal of reducing the extreme cost of energy. At the current time, electricity on the Islands is 4 times the cost of the most expensive mainland costs. She got this idea after doing research on DNA. She can now look at a set of waves and tell you what is a Laptop verses a refrigerator. They are also working on identifying GMO in food. Another student showcased how she build a radio telescope and can pick up the Doppler shift of Jupiter. And the final presentation was a student who is from Italy and is studying the three types of waves caused by earth quakes. This is important because the third type, can predict Tsunami’s and since Hawaii is receives no other warnings based on Latin American earthquakes this is critical information. The interesting aspect was that school can get three free sensors from Quake Cather Network, this is a crowdsourcing effort sponsored by Standford. I am going to see if I can order a set for myself.

The rest of the day I hung out on the show floor, and got to see the iPad based robot from Double Robot that allows you to be at the office and interact with people from anywhere in the world. I talked to the guys from AgileBits, Smile, CrashPlan, BlueMicrophones, Ecamm Networks, and many many more. I will try and post some more detailed reviews of some of the other people I talked to and whose software I recently picked up.

Looking forward to going back next year!

Upcoming activities

So, what have I been up to lately? Shortly after my last blog entry I got sick. Very sick. The kind of sick that you basically lay around for two or more weeks, and can’t even think straight enough to read. What a pain. The good news is, that’s over now. The other news is, I also perform light opera in my spare time, and have been cast in a local performance of Pirates of Penzance. Come see the show in march – http://www.durhamsavoyards.org . January is also the month that I go to what used to be called Macworld Expo. So I will probably be pretty quiet on the blog for a bit.

So this has given me time to start thinking about how to get more engagement on this site. This is tough, since I post an entry when I have something to say. I don’t post just to drive traffic… But I want to have a dialog with other developers locally. So the question that comes to my mind is, what do you think the largest challenge is to get your app the viability that it deserves?