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Macworld Expo 2000 NY Other Superlatives

In addition to notable hardware and software products, there were a number of superlatives that just don't fit into standard categories - interesting booths, Web resources seen at the show, noteworthy events, or inspired handouts.

Best Font Resource -- Since almost everything I do is online, I enjoy the aesthetics of fonts more than I actually use them, but I'm still impressed with MyFonts.com, a Web site devoted to fonts that's clearly done by font aficionados. You can use the TypeXplorer tool to browse MyFonts.com's 10,000-font database by adjusting thickness, width, height, and other font variables. When you find a font, MyFonts.com displays a graphic preview, and clicking the "testdrive" link lets you type in your own text and see it in the selected font at the size you choose. Although I haven't tried it, the Identafont Tool also sounds neat - if you see a font that you can't identify, you can scan in a sample, upload it and Identafont tells you the closest matches in the MyFonts.com database. You can browse by font styles, font names, font designers, or font foundries, and whenever you find a font, MyFonts.com can show you fonts from the same designer, foundry, or that just look similar. And of course, many of the fonts you find at MyFonts.com are available for sale so you can add them to your collection. [ACE]


Most Valuable Free Handout -- Tekserve, a New York City Mac repair shop on West 23rd Street, was giving away a 25-page booklet answering some common and not-so-common Mac questions. It was literate, well-organized, clear, and remarkably technical and comprehensive, covering a number of topics that have arisen recently on TidBITS Talk, such as the various keys you can hold down at startup (which was also a TidBITS quiz subject), and the difference between the several flavors of SCSI. You can't pack up your Mac and send it to Tekserve; they accept only walk-ins (no appointment needed). This almost made me wish I still lived in the Big Apple; readers who do might want to give them a look. [MAN]

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Adding Insult to Injury -- Shortly before Steve Jobs's Macworld keynote address began, I realized I'd been lied to earlier, when I asked if the auditorium I'd found, with podium, colored lights, and massive video screens, was the site of the keynote, and the IDG World Expo staff member at the door had said "Yes." Watching the keynote by video wasn't as much fun as seeing it live, but I figured I'd survive, although I was annoyed that I'd arrived early enough to get to the keynote itself, had the woman at the door simply been honest.) I regretted my decision when the audio from the main auditorium kept cutting out, but I was stunned when Jobs announced everyone at the keynote would get a free Apple Pro Mouse. Giving a free Apple Pro Mouse to the people who attended the keynote was a great way of apologizing for the widely disparaged hockey puck mouse. Unfortunately, Jobs didn't actually mean "everyone" - unlike the 4,000 people in the main auditorium, the 3,000 people in the overflow room didn't have little tickets attached underneath their seats that they could trade in for a mouse, and were appalled to be told, "You can only have a mouse if you went to the keynote," when they had. Apple thoroughly and unnecessarily irritated these people, when, with a little planning, it could all have been avoided. Even a change as simple as Jobs saying "Everyone in this room gets a mouse" would at least have made the distinction clear, but as it was, a great PR stunt was blunted by a foolish mistake. [MHA]


Best Toddler Tchotchke -- SanDisk, makers of those amazingly small Compact Flash and Smart Media memory cards, took this one hands down with the Laser Balls they were judiciously giving out to interested show goers. Trade show giveaways make great toddler toys, and the high-bouncing Laser Ball proved popular for the flashing LED and alarm-like sounds it made upon contact with the floor. I'd had little experience with SanDisk's memory cards until MacHack, when projector problems forced me to transfer my presentation to a friend's machine using his Nikon 990 digital camera's 64 MB Compact Flash card with a PC Card cage as a removable RAM disk. The Compact Flash cards come in sizes from 8 to 192 MB, and the even smaller Smart Media cards range from 8 to 32 MB. [ACE]


Big... Really Big -- They don't have William Shatner, but dealmac does have an army of staff and users who prowl the net for the best deals on Mac-related bargains. The company's new "mydealmac" service lets you subscribe to a custom email notification service that lets you know when there's a great deal to be had on something you're looking for. We knew these guys were worth checking out when we spotted long-time TidBITS sponsor Small Dog Electronics prominently featured as a vendor. [MHA]


Booth Most Likely to Rook You In -- The French company Intego wins this award for their giant inflatable castle tower that looked like one of Godzilla's chess pieces as it towered to the ceiling in the Javits Convention Center. Around the base of the tower Intego showed off their personal firewall NetBarrier and a new anti-virus program called VirusBarrier. VirusBarrier features background scanning, automatic repairs, automatic updates via the Internet to address new viruses, and an elegant interface. Unfortunately, we were unable to confirm at the show or on Intego's Web site if VirusBarrier could handle macro viruses (the virus library included listed only resource viruses), and Intego folks couldn't tell us about the source of VirusBarrier's virus library or its repair methods. [ACE]


Most Hypnotic Sales Spiel -- When I first heard about Nisus Email, my reaction was: "What are they smoking over at Nisus Software?" It's an email program with essentially no interface; instead of giving you a place to type and read messages (and instead of storing your mail itself), it sends and receives mail as ordinary text files organized in designated folders. In other words, you create a text file, including headers, using an ordinary word processor; you save it into a certain folder; and Nisus Email sees it, parses it, and sends it out. In spite of my skepticism, I was utterly enchanted with the presentation by Nisus's Mark Hurvitz, who really had me thinking this was a brilliant new paradigm for doing email and the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then as soon as I walked away, the thought struck me: "But why?!" - and I was a skeptic again. But don't let my waffling stop you from trying the free demo. [MAN]


Most Serious Bugs -- As a PR stunt, Jason Whong, who used to work for game developer Ambrosia Software, vowed to eat live bugs if any bugs were found in any Ambrosia products released during from the third quarter of 1999 to the second quarter of 2000. Bugs were found, and even though Jason had moved on to another job at Green Dragon Creations, he still showed up at the 3dfx Interactive (makers of high-end video cards for gaming) booth to debug a number of hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, mealworms, and other crunchy critters (see the Ambrosia link below for a full list, including recipes). I'd say that eating the bugs took guts, but Jason ate those too. Bleh. And for those of you who just can't resist, check out Utterer.com's photo galleries for pictures of Jason and the bugs (and for those of you with sharp eyes, a picture of me that I'll explain at some future date). [ACE]

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