For those of you who didn’t make the trek yourself (and why would you, unless you’re a fanatic Mac user or live in the Bay Area), here’re some brief thoughts on the MacWorld Expo this year. You can mostly ignore if you don’t care about Macs, but I have to say that more people are considering or making the switch!
First, the MacBook Air is unbelievable. It’s just SO thin! It’s hard to believe it’s a full computer. The way it uses wireless to remove the need for backup and accessing CD/DVD is very well thought out. You’ll have to have another Mac (or a PC) to do media stuff, perhaps, but that’s more peripheral. And I’ve gotta love the tag line: Thinnovation (sounds so familiar :).
Microsoft’s Office 2008 for the Mac is available, and is finally reasonably priced (Home/Student Edition; I don’t need Exchange capabilities). I just bought iWork, but Pages doesn’t have outlining, plus I’ll want to read the new Office XML formats, so I snapped it up. Apparently it’ll support 3 licenses, so it covers the whole house, too. I may not trust the OS, but the apps can be a requirement. (NB: iWork covers 5 licenses, so it’s around the house too).
I also bought Parallels, the virtualization software that lets Intel-powered Macs run Windows (supposedly runs XP better than VMWare’s Fusion, the main competitor, and I’m SO not going to Vista). It supposedly lets me use the license for XP from my old copy of Virtual PC (an emulator, that was unusably slow). I don’t intend to run Office, but I sometimes need Internet Explorer with Active X for various client stuff (as I was doing last week, with some over-the-top security plan). We’ll see how it goes!
The floor was covered with neat covers for iPhones, iPods, and even your laptops, accessories like input devices (keyboards), stands and furniture, etc. Also, of course, software. There’re usually expo-only deals, so I ended up saving more than the cost of the Bart ticket and lunch by coming down (but not by much, since I didn’t buy much, the only other thing was a keyboard cover for my laptop).
Apple made other announcements besides the MacBook Air, including a hard drive-equipped wireless router to automatically handle backups for the whole network, some iPhone/iPod Touch software updates, and iTunes movie rentals. Much as I like the Air, I think that the latter is the really interesting move, business-wise. The 24 hour limit on watching time after starting will be an initial deal-breaker (we often take 2 nights to finish a movie), but other than that there’s a real potential switch here in terms of the relationship between consumer, distributor, and producer.
I’m trying to recall what else I saw that’s of interest for elearning and more. There’re some Mac training companies, but that’s not really what I mean. I guess the one thing, besides cool software like Graphic Converter and OmniGraffle, was the fact that The Brain is now Mac compatible. The Brain is a tool that lets you link concepts together in ways that reflect their conceptual relationships. Jerry Michalski has publicly been creating his brain for years now, as a great demonstration (and a personal tool). It can currently be used to collaborate via a server version that uses the web (though potentially P2P soon, apparently), and it’s the type of knowledge sharing and collaboration tools I think we need to advance organizational innovation.
All in all, a fun way to spend the day (I also got to spend some time walking the floor with mentor/colleague/friend Jim Sky). I’ll have to let you know if more reflections emerge, but as I say when I talk about mobile learning, we really have magic these days (c.f. Arthur C. Clarke’s “any truly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”). Our limitations are between our ears, now, no longer the technology.