In San Francisco during February 9-13, 2010? Attend the Macworld Expo for free! (The Expo pass is a $25 value. Offer expires August 30, 2009.)
2010 will be the first year in which Apple, Inc. itself is not officially a part of Macworld Conference and Expo. This comes after a noticeable slowdown after last year’s Macworld, during which Steve Jobs was conspicuously absent due to serious illness, and Apple marketer Phil Schiller adequately — but unglamorously — filled in as keynote presenter. It’s up to David Pogue, tech pundit and pianist beloved and admired by much of the Apple community, to step in for next year’s keynote — (Pogue calls it the "The Anti-Keynote") — which, if nothing else, will probably be entertaining for geeks and music lovers.
At the Macworld Town Hall meeting last year, IDG World Expo vice president and general manager Paul Kent asked attendees what we’d ideally like to see in an Apple-free conference. I suggested making the event a little "scrappier" and more community oriented — following, at least in part, the "unconference" or BarCamp model of self-organizing with regard to user panels and discussions. Kent smiled and said he liked the word "scrappy," so hopefully I will have had a tiny bit of influence on Macworld 2010.
There’s been much conjecture among Macworld attendees and tech industry pundits as to whether Macworld is sustainable without Apple’s involvement. The fact is, it all depends on how well the event is organized and how much interest there is among Mac enthusiasts and sponsors — which no one will know until the event itself. At a small group gathering at last year’s Macworld, Ilene Hoffman opined that the Mac user group population is aging, simply because young people are no longer inclined to join user groups. A computer has become like a phone or TV or stereo; almost everyone in the industrialized world knows how to use one.
So, if the historical driving forces behind Macworld are absent on the one hand (Apple, and perhaps some key exhibitors or sponsors) and increasingly irrelevant on the other (user groups), what’s the draw?
What I’ve liked about Macworld has been only peripherally about Apple; the gathering is a focused industry conference that showcases technology for all kinds of purposes, many of which center around some type of creativity: music, video, photography, visual art, design, writing, programming, recreation, small business, travel, and education. If this aspect of the event — the general creativity — is enhanced, it’s possible that Macworld could be even more enjoyable for attendees. Kent himself remains optimistic, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of his adept management.
I’ll see you at Moscone Center in February 2010.
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Posted August 12, 2009 by Mariva in business, city, community, innovations, social, technology, travel
If you’re in the market for a commuter bicycle, be on the lookout for the collapsible, theft-deterrent Biomega Boston. The Biomega Boston features a cable that locks into place as a structural part of the frame. In order for the bicycle to function, a key is inserted into a lock that keeps the cable taut and firm; without the key, the cable is slack and the frame collapses. The bike, once the cable is slack, can be folded for easy storage in the office or at home. (If a would-be thief cuts the cable, the bicycle is rendered unrideable via collapsing frame. For the owner of the bicycle, though, the cable can be replaced to restore function — although the ease of repair and theftproofness is debatable.)
The design of the Biomega Boston is so cool and innovative that it’s on display in the current San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibit 246 and Counting: Recent Architecture + Design Acquisitions. (When I came across it during a recent museum trip, the key was in the lock and I was half-tempted to grab the bike off the open display board and ride away. I’m guessing, though, that I might not have made it very far — and my museum membership would most certainly have been revoked!)
Biomega offers other lightweight but sturdy models that are popular with commuters and bicycle design aficionados. Keep in mind, though, that in aggressively hilly cities like San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, the limited number of gears typically on a commuter bicycle may not be enough (unless you enjoy consistently walking your bike up steep hills). If your commute involves a lot of ups and downs, I recommend investing in a bike with at least 18 speeds, and practice shifting gears effectively to ascend and descend those hills with ease.
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Posted October 17, 2008 by Mariva in city, fitness, gadgets, innovations, technology, travel
You know you’re wearing something distinctive when strangers — men, women and children — approach you on the street and say, "Cool shoes! Where’d you get those?"
Crocs makes a variety of slip-on active footwear, each model available in a rainbow of colors. I wear my Cayman Crocs (an updated version of the original Beach model) everywhere: at home, at the beach, in the river, on the street, at casual restaurants, in the shower. They’re cheap, waterproof, colorful, low-maintenance, appropriate for many types of weather and downright futuristic-looking.
The only downside is that one’s feet tend to sweat in them, and while socks mitigate the sweatiness, they make the footwear look not quite as cool as sans socks. Still, though, I plan to pick up spare pairs in pink, purple and turquoise.
Posted April 4, 2006 by Mariva in fashion, recreation, travel
Mardi Gras is a bittersweet celebration in New Orleans today. If you’re not there, you can vicariously experience the sights and sounds through the All Things Considered New Orleans radio diary and make yourself a traditional Mardi Gras king cake. You can also listen to my friend Farai Chideya‘s moving News & Notes piece, "New Orleans Resident Revisits Levee Break."
Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Posted February 28, 2006 by Mariva in arts, community, edibles, holidays, news, travel
The Solutions catalog offers all sorts of, well, solutions — or, as the company puts it, “products that make life easier.” Lest you think that Solutions products are akin to Kenji Kawakami’s 101, 99 More and The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu, check out this sampling of potentially useful items:
If you need help with home improvement or getting organized, Solutions also provides a handy list of free clever tips.
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Posted February 22, 2006 by Mariva in decor, entertaining, gadgets, gifts, home, innovations, kitchen, resources, travel
When you’re away from home — whether spending a lot of time at the office or going on a picnic or a trip — you’ll appreciate Minimus. Here you can stock up on a plethora of individual- and travel-size products, including food and beverages, laundry supplies, personal care and over-the-counter medicines. You can also purchase preassembled kits and care packages of snacks, mini-meals, personal supplies and medical kits — some specifically for men, women, college students, air travelers, campers and even cold and flu sufferers. Many kits make ideal care packages for military personnel. And speaking of the military, the preassembled package called the "military field kit" — comprising an emergency blanket, a small flashlight and a rain poncho — is something you may want to keep in your car or home storage area.
Posted January 24, 2006 by Mariva in edibles, gifts, health, home, resources, travel
Even if you don’t believe that the average person is chronically dehydrated, it’s generally a good idea to drink fresh, clean water as often as you’d like. I seem to be thirsty all the time, so I never go anywhere without a water bottle. Because of its durable and unbreakable nature, my container of choice is the Nalgene bottle, which never compromises the taste of water. It’s the perfect companion to the Thermos food jar.
There’s no question that Nalgene makes bottles extremely well. The company’s founder was an innovative chemist who developed unbreakable laboratory instruments and containers. Today, Nalgene is known in the scientific world for its wide assortment of Nalgene Labware, in addition to its consumer products for outdoors enthusiasts and travelers.
I have a variety of narrow-mouth bottles; my current favorite is the "Pretty Pink" 32-ounce bottle, although I like the "Sage Green," "Sapphire Blue" and "Vibrant Violet" translucent shades as well. A MiniGrip bottle fitted with an Easy Sipper (with a flexible straw threaded through the drinking hole) is perfect for staying hydrated during a long road trip.
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Posted January 17, 2006 by Mariva in health, innovations, kitchen, resources, travel
Archie Bunker once mused, “You got your Thermos here, see? You can put coffee in it and it stays hot, or you can put beer in it and it stays cold, right? So my question is, how does it know?" Clearly, Archie never grasped the concept of insulation; nonetheless, Thermos products — three decades ago — worked so well that they seemed like magic.
Thermos has been updating its line of products, including its signature beverage bottles. The container featured here ain’t your parents’ Thermos. This lightweight, double-wall vacuum-insulated Food Jar with Folding Spoon comes with a stainless steel folding spoon that fits neatly into a storage compartment, which, by the way, has enough room to hold condiments and other small items. The Food Jar keeps your meal hot or cold, just the way you (and Archie) like it — and it looks cool to boot.
Posted January 13, 2006 by Mariva in gadgets, gifts, health, home, innovations, kitchen, travel
Friday movie collection
Friday Night Lights movie
NPR’s Talk of the Nation: Science Friday (program site)
Bike Friday: folding travel bicycles
Photo Friday: weekly photo challenge
Illustration Friday: submit your artwork based on a weekly topic
Friday Feast: a five-"course" series of questions designed to make you ponder
Friday Harbor: a town in San Juan Island in Washington state (web directory, island cam, port)
Fine Friday: traditional Scottish music
Friday Night Live Partnership: a teen safety and mentoring project
Finney’s Friday Free Stuff: free offers for various useful products and services, served up every Friday by consumer reporter Michael Finney
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Posted January 6, 2006 by Mariva in community, entertainment, fun, innovations, movies, news, resources, social, travel
Does it fly? Can it cry? Can you eat it? Is it blue? Can you throw it? The Mind-Reading Electronic Question Game is a cool-looking device that can guess an object that you’re thinking of (although I can’t imagine that it could come up with obscure band names and scientific terms). Good for long trips, waiting rooms, bored kids and party ice-breakers.
Or you could just play 20 Questions online for free.
Posted December 19, 2005 by Mariva in entertaining, entertainment, fun, gadgets, games, gifts, home, innovations, social, travel