Macintosh Computer Expo 2004
the MCE 2004 6 meg Quicktime movie
Can you imagine a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?
"Is someone monitoring the door?" called out Lorene Romero,
NCMUG (North Coast
Macintosh User's Group) president and energetic chair of the Mac Computer
(MCE) committee. Billy Nickerson, volunteer coordinator responded quickly,
her that all was well. It was shortly after 8 o'clock this Saturday morning
at the cafeteria
of Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC). By this time, about 15 volunteers
had already been
on duty for almost an hour.
The rented tables had arrived and were unloaded by a cadre of hardy
gentlemen, led by
Alan Kantor, keeper of the 'table map'. Tablecloths were immediately
being draped and
clipped on by a half-dozen people with the rhythm of a well-oiled machine.
After all, this
is a well-oiled machine. Savvy negotiating by Barbara Brown finally
landed a company
that consistently delivered and picked up on-time and with everything
that was ordered
(at a reasonable price).
A few volunteers made the transition this year to be a part of the
MCE Committee. The
commitee, composed of over a dozen members, typically starts planning
the event as
early as April, and meets monthly until the event in September. MCE
is the annual
fundraising event for NCMUG. It is also an important time for the club
to connect with
the community and the local community college. SRJC co-sponsors the
NCMUG, providing the excellent venue.
Nate Freidman worked his magic on the wireless set-up and Linda Chatham
moved into a
seat at the raffle table, where she spent most of the day. Vendors
who had arrived early were a bit disappointed that they could not get in
away and start set-up, but Lorene assured them that as soon as the
tablecloths were up,
they would be welcomed in.
I know MCE is here somewhere...
The doors open
It was worth the wait. The crowds were moderate, but
consistent throughout the day. Advertising work by Teddie Pierce paid
off. Kasey Galang, representing Macworld Magazine, was ready to take
subscriptions, especially for to their new digital music magazine,
Playlist. NCMUG member Rodney Jonk was the first to renew his membership,
advantage of a show special. Newcomer, Scott Meinzen, of Total Training,
heard about the event from a friend. He was looking forward to showcasing
his company's close association with Adobe systems and demo their training
tools. Further down the aisle, another software vendor, Runaway Training,
stood ready to meet the expo crowd. Lee "Rod" Roderick and
Steve Miller, from Las Vegas were doing their first show ever. Rod
smiled and spoke confidently, "We can't fail." Faculty members,
Barbara Heiman and Johanna James had barely erected their informational
when they began to answer questions about
upcoming computer courses at SRJC.
Circus Ponies is cooking up something new
28 vendors filled the cafeteria with a wide range of products and
services. There was software, hardware, books, magazines, services,
college course information, and, of course, NCMUG tables to register
new members and renew existing memberships. Membership secretary Joan
O'Brien was proud to report the final figures. Over twenty people became
new members and 35 renewals. NCMUG vice-president Michael Sauer pitched
in with Joan to take memberships. The NCMUG raffle table was busy most
of the day. A handful of lucky folks won book packages from O'Reilly
books, copies of MS Office 2004, 4th generation iPods (yes, iPods!),
and, last but not least, an iBook!
Membership Secretary, Joan O'Brien was busy all day
This year's crowd was heavy with Baby Boomers and those I'll call Boomer-plus.
There were many young boys (and a couple of girls) checking things
out with their father, mother or grandparent in tow. John Howes and
son Nick are regulars to the event, driving the approximately one hour
from San Francisco. Not many teenagers attended.
Author, iLife guru and Garage Band afficianado Jim Heid, led off the
day's speakers with a trip down Mac memory lane and a peek at his crystal
ball. In a lively Keynote-powered presentation, Heid played
clips from Steve Job's first MacWorld keynote speech where he quoted
Bob Dylan "times
they are a'changin". Since the introduction of the Macintosh,
according to Heid, storage devices have become smaller and much cheaper,
has gone down in price, displays are bigger and cheaper, and audio
capabilities have improved exponentially. Jim believes that "You
might say that personal computers have finally become powerful enough
to become truly
personal." If he is correct, we may see the following trends emerge:
1. Still and video cameras will merge (with phones not far behind).
2. Digital wallets will proliferate (iPods will go beyond music) 3.
will be everywhere.
Twelve-year old Connor sat in the audience with his grandmother. Heid
remarked that Connor was fortunate that he didn't have to go through
all of the ëearly' days, of the personal computer. Learning of Connor's
age, he remarked, "I have software older than you are, that I still
Using himself as an example of what's to come, Heid explained how he
will bring two storage devices on his next vacation, leaving his Powerbook
behind. He'll use a Belkin adapter for his iPod to download digital
images from his camera. He'll also back-up to a second device, a Smartdisk
device that runs Linux. It has a color screen so you can view your
images, or even play them back through a TV.
NCMUG member Dick Dennis was impressed with the presentation. Dick
said that this was one presentation that "kept you awake". As an
avid amateur videographer, he looks forward to solutions that make the
process of converting his video to DVD just a bit faster.
That's right, one of the first public showings of the G5 iMac
Macworld magazine editor Jason Snell gave the audience his take on
the Mac, past, present, and future, including vintage Macworld magazine
in his review. Mac present was embodied in his showing of the new G5
The device demonstrates Apple's continued focus on eye-catching
design that partners with function.
Snell's crystal ball shows the next version of the Mac operating system,
Tiger. Snell proposed that Apple is letting the need for improvements,
not the calendar, drive the next upgrade, so it may not be ready until
How about a Powerbook G5? Snell
says this product is hot, that temperature folks. This is a big design
Lastly, home entertainment could be merging with a Apple computers.
Snell pointed out that the G5 iMac can be used as a TV screen. With
to be removed from the elegant stand it is perfectly balanced upon,
perhaps we'll be seeing more of these machines in our living rooms
As the day progressed, it was easy to spot computer users looking
for the student lounge or the faculty lounge in order to catch one
45 minute presentations. Signs were everywhere and only a few people
needed hands-on assistance. Concurrent sessions followed the keynote,
so it was necessary to choose between such options as OS X maintenance
(Ronnie Roche), Photoshop CS (Mike Descher), MS Office 2004 (Vitaliy
Kuznetsov), Macworld magazine's latest (Jason Snell), and the world
of OS X wireless (Tom Negrino and Dori Smith). NCMUG webmaster Stephen
Henry organized a cool jam session on Garage Band that ran through
showcased musicians Jonathan Seff from Macworld Magazine with NCMUG
members, Chip Dunbar and Donald Pasewark, adding their own instruments
into a computer jam,
Heid and projected
screen. The full song was played and enjoyed by everyone as an iTunes
piece at the end of the session.
Back on the show floor, I spoke with Enrique Quintero. He and Doug
Cox had driven from Fresno that morning to set up his small display
design company, selling food and drink recipes to keep handy on your
iPod. With a cooler of ice tea and a supply of cups, Enrique chatted
through the afternoon with colleagues, customers, and potential customers.
John Hershey, new to the NCMUG board and MCE committee, was everywhere
with his digital camera. Kathy Aanestad, another MCE committee member,
was not far behind with her digital video camcorder, recording bits
of the event to prepare a music video overview. With her mini-DV cam
to a monopod, Maria Arguello, Maria Arguello, is the Regional Liaison
for On-Line groups and the President of Main Line MUG of PA, also covered
the event from beginning to end.
This year the Herb Festival was a bit further away from MCE, due to
construction on campus. That didn't inhibit the mix of sage and software.
faithful made the trek through lavender, candles, massage, and incense
to sample the vegetarian fare. A handful of herbalists were seen at
the expo, but not as many as in past years.
Vitaliy Kuznetsov from Microsoft
Several attendees were seen carrying home Wacom Technologies' new Intous
3 graphics tablets. Education software vendor, Creation Engine was
responsible for several of those sales. Mike Hogan from MacChug, a
Chico Mac User
group, was proud of his new tablet. It was worth the multi-hour drive.
His only regret was that he didn't know about the Herb Festival. "My
wife would have loved it.", he said.
Plastic bags with purchases from Peachpit Press, and O'Reilly books
were noticeable. MacHome and Macworld magazines, along with sampler
Set-up and clean-up at this event always amazes me. As the clock headed
close to 3:30, vendors started breaking down their booths and volunteers
whirled, once again, into action. Although there are never as many
volunteers at the end of the day, as at the beginning, it went pretty
this reporter was drawn away from pen and paper, heading out to pick
up informational signs that had been placed nearby. Within 45 minutes,
the tables were cleared, struck and stacked, ready for pick-up. The
floor was being swept and everything was put back in its original order.
Billy Nickerson handed off the last piece of SRJC equipment to be
the last item." He said with relief. "We're five short on the
shouted out. They were soon found, just out of sight toward busy Mendocino
Avenue. John Nouveaux
was carrying a banner and frame back to the venue, looking forward
to the day's end. Ronnie Roche gathered trash and dumped the leftover doughnuts
in the bin. (Leftover doughnuts? This is a busy group.)
From this ...
to this in 45 minutes!
As I headed out, I spotted Lorene Romero and Leigh Cockrell (designer
of this year's MCE poster) making the trek to gather up the banners. "Can
you go down the block and get the last two?" asked Lorene, in her ëjust
one little favor' voice. I headed down the street. The last sign stake
had been pounded into the ground with the exuberance of a volunteer
who forgot that it would need to be removed at the end of the day.
well- meaning passerby was unable to extract it for me. I eventually
persuaded it out with a rock hammer. (Doesn't everyone keep one handy?)
I was sweating profusely from my workout, but it gave me a chance to
think about how events like MCE happen, and after a few times through,
actually become, dare I say it, routine.
During the Garage Band jam session, Jim Heid was trying to name his
music clip and couldn't quite land in the right place. Jonathan Seff,
guitar support to the jam told him, "Just keep clicking." "Just
keep clicking", Jim replied, "I think that will be the name
of my next book." The crowd laughed and Jim finally clicked in
the right spot.
There are several keys to NCMUG's success in making this event "Just
- A strong networker at the helm. One who is not
shy about asking for favors.
- Clear goals
- A dedicated long-range
- A troup of event-day volunteers, ready to do their
shift, then enjoy the event.
- Celebration of a job well done.
Well done NCMUG.
Article by Veda Lewis