As readers of TidBITS Talk know, I held a pair of informal events at Macworld Expo in New York last month. I chose not to announce them in TidBITS itself (though they were on the Hess Events List) to keep them to a manageable size.
Ice Cream Social -- Tuesday night before the show, I coordinated the TidBITS Ice Cream Social, where everyone met in the lobby of the aggressively hip Paramount Hotel and then walked to a nearby Ben & Jerry's for ice cream. The staff seemed slightly put out at a group of 36, but after trying to driving us out by cranking the music, they gave up. (Luckily, we'd all finished our ice cream by the time I decided it would be polite to cede the store to a just-arrived crop of girls wearing Barbizon School of Modeling t-shirts.) Many of us ended up back at the Paramount lobby, where we commandeered the Paramount's unusual chairs for several hours. The Paramount folks asked us not to take pictures of the lobby, but Pekka Helos of the Finnish MacMaailma magazine got a few pictures of the group outside. Pekka wasn't the only international attendee - Philippe Lopatka came from Switzerland and Dave Fitch from Scotland. A pair of our translators were also able to make it - Jacques Germans of the Dutch team and Elana Pick, who has helped with the Russian translation. It was an unqualified success, and we'll definitely continue the tradition.
Underground Tour -- In the morning of the last day of the show, I led a 90 minute tour of Macworld Expo for a small group of about ten people. I had literally no idea how it would work out, but figured that we'd cruise the floor together for a while, looking at interesting booths and talking with some of my industry contacts. The random floor cruising was difficult with a group of that size and ultimately unsuccessful, but the informal meetings I'd set up for the group worked extremely well. We first stopped at the Main Event Software booth, where Cal Simone, president of Main Event and one of the Mac world's top AppleScript experts, showed off his new Scripter Personal Edition, an AppleScript authoring tool that makes getting into AppleScript far easier than Apple's minimalist Script Editor. Then, at the booth of TidBITS sponsor Dantz Development, Dantz's vice-president of marketing, Craig Isaacs, gave us an overview of what was new in Retrospect 4.3 and what we could expect from Dantz when Mac OS X became available. Finally, Jeff Robbin, one of the authors of Casady & Greene's SoundJam MP, demoed SoundJam, chatted about what he was working on for the next version, and even graciously accepted an interface suggestion regarding SoundJam's alarm clock feature.
In fact, the tour reflected closely how I do the floor at a trade show - I wander up and down the aisles looking at booths and products until I meet someone I know, which then requires a fifteen to twenty minute conversation. It's great fun and extremely useful for my line of work, but I ended up frustrated that I hadn't been able to cover more ground with the tour. Plus, if all of the 25 people who had signed up had actually come, I think the group size would have been unwieldy.
I'll continue to think about better ways of organizing tours for future shows, and I suppose it's appropriate if the tour ends up working like TidBITS, where we're happy to write longer articles to cover topics in depth. Keep in mind that in any case where space is limited, I'll probably announce first to contributors and on TidBITS Talk before opening an event up to the full TidBITS audience. Just another reason you might want to check in on TidBITS Talk in email or on the Web.