Friday, October 22, 2010

Why YOU Should Attend MacTech Conference!

I recently posted just a brief mention of it, but I felt I should explain in greater detail why
I'm more excited about MacTech Conference than I've ever been about a conference, even CES or Macworld.
Did that get your attention? If you're a geek, it should have—and you should read on to find out why I'm so excited about it!

When and where?

MacTech Conference is just around the corner—November 3–5, 2010.  It's based at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, just around the corner from Universal Studios Hollywood, near Los Angeles. This is an amazing hotel which recently underwent a $30 million renovation. It's also near the historic Griffith Observatory (I'll get back to that). There's more information on the hotel and travel here.

Who will be there, and who's it for?

MacTech Conference is primarily for IT professionals, developers, and other geeks who use, manage, or develop for Apple products like the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. People from numerous companies and organizations will be in attendance, including Apple, Google, Disney, Sony Pictures, Adobe, Texas Instruments, Parallels, VMware, Western Digital, a number of science and technology labs, lots of universities including MIT and Stanford, several school districts, and many others.

The keynote speaker is Andy Ihnatko, the beloved Chicago Sun-Times tech journalist and co-host of MacBreak Weekly on Leo Laporte's This Week in Tech podcast network. Macworld VP and Editorial Director Jason Snell will host a special panel discussion on trends in virtualization with representatives from VMware and Parallels, including the inventor of Parallels Desktop. There are a number of other speakers covering a variety of topics, including Misha Leder from Google, Wil Shipley of Delicious Monster, Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software, Adium and Growl developer Peter Hosey, and more. And of course, I'll be there too. ^_^

With hundreds of attendees rather than thousands, MacTech Conference is the perfect size for a conference of its kind. It's big enough that you're guaranteed to meet lots of new people, make new friends and connections, and get to personally meet and chat with a wide array of great people from the Apple community. It's small enough that you won't get lost in an enormous mob of attendees. In part, it's very much in the style of TED or "unconferences" where everyone in attendance is viewed as an equally important person, and the presenters are also there to learn from everyone else.

What is there to do at the conference?

MacTech Conference is so much more than just sitting and listening to people speak. It's a fully immersive experience, with entertainment and all meals included.

On the first night of the conference, attendees get an exclusive evening at the beautiful Griffith Observatory and planetarium. When I say exclusive, I mean the observatory will close early that day just so our group can have private access for the evening.

While we're on the space theme, MacTech Conference will also host the first public showing outside a university or research setting of Mac-based planetary exploration rovers controlled by iPod touch, demonstrated by Professor Wolfgang Fink from the University of Arizona and formerly from Caltech—read more about the rovers here.

On the second night, we'll all head over to Jillian's for another exclusive evening of entertainment (dinner included, of course), featuring bowling, billiards, and video games including Guitar Hero.

Anything else?

Yep! Attendees also get a one-year subscription to MacTech Magazine (or a one-year extension for current subscribers), a conference t-shirt, and (optionally) their name and details listed in the conference directory for networking with others at the conference. If you want to get an Apple certification, you can take a certification exam on the last day of the conference (more about that below). The main conference page teases that "there will be a few surprises along the way, too."

How can I attend?

Register as soon as possible; the conference is coming up fast! If you register by Friday, October 29th, 2010, you either get a free Apple certification exam (worth $200) with the full conference price of $899, OR you get $100 off the price of registration (bringing the conference price—including all meals and entertainment—down to $799). Hotel accommodations are extra, but you have your choice of hotels in various price ranges (I recommend calling the Sheraton first to ask whether rooms and special conference rates are still available), and if you need to reduce your expenses you can split a room with another attendee or stay with someone you know who lives in the L.A. area.

To get one of these conference registration discounts (through October 29th), and to let MacTech know that I invited you, register here:

If you can't make it, please share this with friends or coworkers who might be interested in attending.

I hope to see you at MacTech Conference!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Meet me at MacTech Conference!

To all my readers who might be IT professionals or developers, I want to let you know that I'll be at MacTech Conference from November 3-5, 2010 in Los Angeles.  It's going to be a really fun event, and I'd love to meet you there!

For more details and a link to save $100 off registration, please see my post about MacTech Conference on my security blog.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Telltale Games Cheats Strong Bad Fans, Mac Gamers

Strong Bad gives Telltales Games
the "Double Deuce"
I was so excited when Telltale Games announced it was going to bring its games to the Mac.  I only knew about the company because it developed Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People (SBCG4AP), a popular PC and WiiWare game based on the Homestar Runner universe.  I was thrilled to find out that Telltale Games was even going to let people vote on which game would be the second one to get ported to Mac (the first was Tales of Monkey Island, which was released simultaneously with the Mac announcement).  Strong Bad should have been a shoo-in; it was up against Sam & Max and Wallace & Gromit, and early numbers indicated that the latter wasn't even close to getting the most votes.

Naturally I was dismayed when the announcement came that Sam & Max had won (by a very, very slim margin; I checked the votes earlier in the day).  But it wasn't a fair fight at all.  The good folks at Telltale Games made a critical error in the voting form; Sam & Max (which was listed first) had its vote button preselected, so anyone who accidentally submitted the form without first changing their selection would unintentionally cast a vote for Sam & Max.  But that wasn't the only problem.  To make matters worse, the form only allowed one vote per IP address.  If you accidentally voted for the default selection instead of the one you really wanted, you had no way of changing your vote or casting an additional vote for the one you had intended to vote for.  Furthermore, there was no way to check on the current status of the poll before voting, so some people probably cast their one and only vote for Sam & Max when they expected to be able to go back and cast a vote after finding out who was winning so far.

What about households with more than one gamer?  Since only one person per IP address could vote, whoever got there first stole the opportunity from everyone else who lived in the same home, worked at the same company, or otherwise shared the same IP address with other gamers.  I understand trying to prevent clever individuals from stuffing the ballot box using methods such as deleting cookies or voting with multiple browsers or multiple computers, but one vote per IP address simply wasn't a fair way to do things because it prevented many people from being able to cast a vote at all.  And what's more, for most home users it's actually fairly trivial to change one's IP address and vote again, so even restricting the poll to one vote per IP address couldn't really have prevented determined individuals from voting as many times as they wanted to.

Perhaps prefilling the voting form wasn't an oversight after all.  Might it have been a devious plot by the company (or at least the webmaster) to give their favorite game the edge it needed to win the vote?  Maybe Telltale Games had already been working on porting Sam & Max to Mac and didn't want to put it on hold to work on Strong Bad, so they decided to give Sam & Max a little boost.  Whatever the case, Telltale Games did a disservice to Mac gamers with their loaded poll and overly restrictive measures to try to prevent ballot box stuffing.

Thanks a lot, Telltale Games.  I mean, seriously, thank you for turning to the light side and committing to Mac development, and thanks in advance for eventually bringing Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People to the Mac, but no thanks for your bias towards that other game.

Oh, and when SBCG4AP finally comes out for Mac, I want a review copy.  Thanks, ol' pals!  =)