See the MCE 2005 Quicktime movie

MCE 2005 Recap

by Veda Lewis

Okay, so Rick Myslewski, editor of MacAddict magazine, was up front about it when he admitted at the Mac Computer Expo (MCE) keynote that he spends more time with his computer than his spouse. How many of us would be so honest? That comment came during a session where he and authors Tom Negrino and Dori Smith were pointing out the pros and cons of switching from a PC to a Mac. The aesthetics of the Mac were a big point with Myslewski, given the great amount of time we spend with our machines.

Hundreds of Mac and PC users made the trip to Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC), to listen to speakers and check out vendors with the latest and greatest in software, hardware, publications, and accessories for the Mac, PC, iPod and beyond. Co-hosted by the North Coast Mac Users Group (NCMUG) and SRJC's Computer Information Sciences department, the event claims to be the largest of its kind in Northern California, outside of Macworld that is.

This year's theme was "Switch to Tiger". Several of the free workshops held throughout the day focused on the advantages of Tiger, Apple's latest operating system.

The keynote speakers gave fascinating insight into their views on the future of the Mac. They discussed the impact of the new Intel chips coming in Macs. Look for the Rosetta translator to slow down older non-native applications and drive some programmers crazy as they will be required to make significant programming upgrades to keep up. Meanwhile, Apple will be doing all it can to make it difficult, if not impossible to run OS X on standard, dirt cheap Intel boxes. Long distance Airport systems are in the wings (20 miles?). But I digress, you can find out more about what's happening with Apple by reading other articles. This piece is about MCE.

Smooth is the operative word this year. It was the 13th year the event has taken place in its conversion from a swap meet to a vendor expo with free workshops by respected experts such as Photoshop master Bert Monroy. The MCE committee meets for months planning this event. The networking skills of event planner Lorene Romero, NCMUG president and principal of Sharp Tongued Consulting, guided the group to a great mix of vendors who have an opportunity to sell product and get noticed in the Northern California Mac Users community.

Kris Kuevler, of Talking Fingers, a company that has written software to help children learn to read since the Apple IIe came out, showed off their current product that is running on OS X. Janice Wendt, of nik multimedia found this year's attendees had more interest in editing and actually printing their photographs than in past years. "We're losing a part of our history.", she stated, explaining that for awhile, people got caught up in taking hundreds of photos that just sit on their hard drives, or the hard drives of their family and friends. These can be lost when hard drives fail, or a computer is stolen. This may be the beginning of a new phase in the digital community, returning to leaving a legacy.

The SRJC cafeteria held about 40 vendors while three different workshop/presentations took place in nearby rooms. The talks, usually running about 45 minutes, to 90 minutes for the keynote panel, allowed people plenty of time to visit the show floor. As an attraction for visitors and a fundraiser for its outreach program, NCMUG held an all-day raffle. An iPod-Shuffle was raffled off each hour, along with lots of books, hardware, and software donated by the vendors.

Maria Ayala, of Greater Works Printing and Graphics, Inc. was a member of the planning committee this year. She worked hard, handling printing of the poster designed by Leigh Cockrell, raffle tickets and numerous other products. This reporter caught her viewing the digital art exhibit showcasing impressive work done by NCMUG members. I interrupted her to tell her that she was an iPod shuffle winner. Happily, she followed me to the raffle table to pick up her prize. Once there, Linda Chatham pulled out her prize and gave it to her, checking and double-checking the prize sheet as she had been doing all day, with a smile.

The smiles are a major part of the 'cool' factor of this event. Most of the crew are veterans, but there are several newbies learning the ropes. The die-hards show up at 7am ready to carry tables, place table cloths, unload chairs, place signs and banners, inflate balloons, move trash/recycle bins, set-up banners, you name it. The exhibit opened at 9:30 with about two dozen attendees waiting to get in. Many of them stopped first at the membership table where they could renew their membership for 13 months for the price of 12. Just another incentive for attendance. Other people headed for the raffle table to get tickets in for the first of the hourly raffles, held at 10am. Club member Herbert Buss was the winner of the first iPod Shuffle. After that rush, the vendors were the next target. From there, some fanned out to workshops then returned to take in more of what the vendors had to offer.

Thirsty and hungry attendees and volunteers found satisfaction at the van provided by Mobile Perks from Sebastopol. Unfortunately, the Herb Fest, usually held on the same day as MCE was not held this year. Some club members missed the scents and sounds that the many booths added to the commons area outside the cafeteria.

The best hands-on workshop, in my opinion, was the podcasting session by author Jack Herrington. He shared many tips on recording the best audio you can for your podcasting product. Such tips as using two microphones when doing an interview (one for the interviewee, one for the interviewer), are very valuable to those of us exploring, or just curious about, the world of podcasting. Jack will be our speaker at the November meeting.

The event was scheduled to end and 3:30. At about 3 o'clock, clean-up volunteers began reporting for duty. Miraculously, by 4 o'clock the tables were broken down and stacked outside. The bags of tablecloths rested atop the stack, ready for pickup by the vendor. Karen Bell, new in the position of volunteer coordinator, did a great job, you guessed it, with a smile.

Meanwhile, the double row of monstrous trash bins which had to be moved to accommodate the table layout were pushed back into place by a few burly men and gonzo gals.The perpetual motion machine wound down by 4:30, as the room had been swept, chair stacks, rolled away and everything removed to leave the room as we had found it.

Now we could all go home and try to spend more time with our spouses, family, and friends.

Views of past
Mac Computer Expo's

2001 | 2002 | 2004

Slide Show of 2002's MCE