Now that we’re back, unpacked, and somewhat caught up on email, laundry, grocery shopping, and all of those other chores that await when you return home, I can write a little about the past week.
Macworld is still fun, but its even more fun when Pam comes along, because it really just turns into a mini-vacation for both of us with Mac nerd activities thrown in. We got there on Monday night, only a little late. Our hotel was the whimsical and friendly Triton Hotel, a boutique inn on Grant Street, right by the gate to Chinatown. Besides the decidedly off-the-wall décor, they had a free wine and beer happy hour every day, and the young and hip staff frequently hit the switch to open the front doors for us so we often felt like we were making grand entrances (and exits). While the room was small, it was certainly usable, and the free wi fi Internet in every room wasn’t too shabby either.
Rather than get up at 3:00 AM to get in line for the Keynote (like some people I know) we arose at a decent hour and spent most of Tuesday at the two show floors, seeing new products and occasionally bumping into old friends. We had a great dinner at the nearby organic foodie restaurant ‘Roots’ (no relation to the Canadian clothing chain), including a Duck confit salad and an exceptionally delicious ‘Dungeness Crab/Mac & Cheese’ dish that I think should become a classic.
On Wednesday, I managed to make it to several Conference sessions. The one on using the new Finder in OSX Leopard turned out to be far too basic for me, so I left early and dropped into a nearby session on using the iWork applications (and got some very good tips on Numbers, the spreadsheet package in iWork). I also went to a session on iLife which was heavily weighted toward using iPhoto, although I did get a better feel for how to edit in the new version of iMovie. I guess you could say that it was a highly ‘i‑centric’ day. In the evening Pam and I decided to go out for some lighter fare, and ended up in a small Thai restaurant that oddly enough was the very same site (a 1938 diner that has seen countless restaurants) where I had first discovered fusion cuisine in Barbara Tropp’s now long-gone China Moon Café of the mid 1990’s. It was sad to think that restaurants, like the people who run them, are all too mortal.
On Thursday I caught a few more sessions, but I really wanted to spend a bit more time at some key booths (Parallels, Microsoft, Filemaker, and El Gato were all on my list), as well as make a short trip to the Apple Store to get…(drum roll, please) an iPhone. Now, with the swiftly shifting sands of the jailbreaking of Firmware update 1.1.2, the new 1.1.3 Firmware update that adds new functionality, and the soon-to-be released Developer SDK next month, I’m frankly a bit torn as to how to Unlock this phone. While hardware solutions might be the the most effective, I really would like to be able to update the phone like everybody else, especially to add the whole new raft of 3rd party applications due to hit in the coming months. So, I’m going to have to go slowly and carefully, with the goal of getting my iPhone working in the least invasive and destructive way (hopefully without sawing off pieces of my SIM, or doing some other destruction). It would have helped if Rogers would finally offer the iPhone, but if Telus rolls out GSM and offers it first, I’ll switch carriers before you can say “Ring”. Hear that Rogers? You’ve kept me (and thousands like me) waiting long enough, so I’ve got zero loyalty to you.
On Thursday evening we, we met with an old friend of mine for dinner (at a nearby bistro — Steak with Bordelaise sauce, Frites and Leeks Vinaigrette — Oh yeah!), and then took a taxi to Davies Hall, where we heard the San Francisco Philharmonic. They gave a concert of Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 (with the flute soloist being Timothy Day, an old friend of my parents who even performed a piece of mine years ago), Xenakis’s surprisingly beautiful and affecting L’Ile de Gorée for harpsichord and large ensemble, and Schubert’s 9th (‘The Great’) Symphony in C Major. I hadn’t heard Michael Tilson Thomas conduct since I briefly met him many years ago in London, so it was great to see how he had matured as a conductor. The orchestra was first-rate and played everything beautifully, and I had to admit that I was probably grinning for nearly all of the Schubert —it’s a fun piece, full of good ideas, great tunes and rich colours, but I also know it really well. I could have almost sung along for the whole performance (but I didn’t, thank goodness for Pam and all the rest of the people sitting around me).
Friday morning, after a light breakfast (incredibly buttery croissants from the Café de la Presse next door), we headed on to the airport, and caught the Qantus 747 home. By 3:30, we were back, which takes me to the chores I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Now it’s late Sunday night, and having gone through my mail for work, I see that I have a busy week ahead of me. Oh well. The iVacation is definitely over.