Word of the day: Cool

Today I went to visit that temple of geekdom that is Macworld in San Francisco. It certainly attracts an interesting cross-section of people; kids with their friends or parents, suited business people, die-hard Mac fanatics – the last easily spotted as they will probably be wearing an XL mac t-shirt, faded through repeated washing.

There was also a pretty interesting cross-section of products there, reflecting the huge diversity of activities undertaken by a group of people united only by a hardware manufacturer. Something that helped it stand out from most trade shows and other exhibitions was the large number of live demonstrations of software and hardware going on. There was also a common feature to these presentations – “Isn’t that cool?” or “This is so cool”. This phrase was used by presenters all over the place, but also people in the audience at the presentations, and people around the exhibition hall. Of course this might have more to do with being in California than anything else!

In between presentations on the Apple stage, they were running a variety of their very cool iPod TV ads. I found the contrast between the excellent dancing in these ads and the likely dancing skills of most of the audience quite amusing.

Highlights of MacWorld:

Tiny 5MP cameras from Canon. The remarkable thing about these is not their size as much as the combination of tiny size and 5 megapixel sensor. Of course it compromises by having a small lens and no optical zoom, but still looks very neat.

Mac mini – it’s so much smaller than just about any other desktop I’ve seen. Best advice for people thinking of switching to this from their PC is to wait 4 or 5 months until the next version of the operating system is released (Mac OS X 10.4 or tiger) so that it will come bundled with the box.

iPod shuffle – so small and light, with an incredibly unMac-like price – barely more than the cost of a similar-sized USB storage device, which it will do as well.

Pages – Part of the new iWork suite, this looks like it is going to be a useful word processor, combined with desktop-publishing features, which is something that MS Word is really not designed to do.

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