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MacWorld 09 — A Particular View

Hello happy reader,

This time around, I’m writing about some of the stuff I found interesting at the show; storage, IT infrastructure, tools to aid creatives, and just plain fun stuff. Here we go…

First up, The Omni Group had current versions of their apps at show special prices. I use their OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle quite often, and I like ’em!

Next, Creaceed demo’d v2 of Hydra, their HDR image comp’ing app. I’ve been doing this manually since Photoshop got Layers but, it’s nice to see some smart ’ware to speed the process. They gave me an ad at the booth with a 25% discounts until the 11th, but I couldn’t find any mention on their site…Go fish.

At the Micromat booth, I got a demo of TechTool Pro 5, a soon–to–be released version that a complete overhaul of the app. In conjunction with the stellar DiskWarrior, TechTool Pro complements Alsoft’s app with deep hardware diags and benchmarking. Thet’ve got a free upgrade if you buy now.

The folks at Pantone showed off ColorMunki, an easy, all-in-one color profiling toolset for digital workflows. One nice feature that stands out, especially at its price point, is its ability to profile a projector as well as a monitor and printer.

One print–on–demand vendor, Blurb, showed their books. Glossy pages, with satin, casewrap covers, these puppies are a narrowly focused alternative to my pioneering favorite, Lulu. Not sure who’s cheaper but, always good to have some competition in any particular vertical.

Sun Microsystems promoted their VirtualBox virtualization technology. It seems to have most all the convenience and under–the–hood features of other packages, like VMware’s Fusion, but it also runs on a wider set of platforms and hosts a much wider variety of OSs, including DOS, OS/2, Windows back to NT, Solaris and OpenSolaris, along with many flavors of Linux and OpenBSD. Oh, did I mention it’s free?! BTW, if any of youz guys out there have any experience with VirtualBox, please jump in and give us your thoughts.

I’m beginning the process of researching a book, so my interest was piqued when I rolled by The Storyist booth. Turns out their Storyist app is a story development tool for novelists and screenwriters so, not so good for me but maybe cousin Ann could use it? I’m stickin’ with InDesign for now…you may want to use the “MACWORLD2009” coupon code at their store.

For those of you who just can’t seem to get enough screen real estate, NEC was showing their curved, ultra–wide 42″ display with 2880 x 900 native resolution. That’s a 3.2:1 aspect ratio! This $6500 puppy is not a trad LCD unit so the depth is quite substantial relative to what we’ve come to expect. They also showed what appeared to be a reference monitor for broadcast applications but, for the life of me, I can find no mention of it on their web site. Again, if any of youz guys out there have any knowledge of this piece, please jump in and comment.

Storage–wise, ioStorRocstor and CalDigit all had a nice variety of Firewire and eSATA enclosures and shiny boxes to stash your files. I found out that Rocstor and Verbatim both have 3 year warrantees on their turnkey desktop products, which is nice if you’re the type to buy pre–built, off–the–shelf drives. CalDigit demo’d a very slick, small form factor, quad interface product, their VR, that houses two removable drives in a very quiet, hardware RAID’d enclosure. The price is very nice as well, considering their competitors offer something similar at a substantially higher cost.

Are we having fun yet? I had good fun listening to Focal’s XS 2.1 multimedia sound system. If you like the sound of Focal’s products, which I do, and need an all–in–one desktop audio solution, then you’ll love this system. It includes Burr–Brown DACs, two small, stand–mounted 2×30 W satellites with an integrated, USB–attached iPod dock and a 70 W compact sub that crosses at 130 Hz. Very nice overall sound quality; neutral, effortless sound at reasonable loudness from a well thought out package. The dock works without your computer, includes iTunes sync’ing, and cost $100 less than a B&W Zeppelin.

WebDNA promoted their server–side Apache/IIS enhancement that, according to them, “…replaces server-side scripting languages as well as database systems like MySQL.” If you shy away from PHP or Perl, then take a look at their stuff. Use the “MacWorld_09” discount code at checkout if you decide to jump on it.

I’m getting hungry so, last up, I’ve been tracking Livescribe’s Pulse SmartPen since before it was out of the oven. The Win version has been released but drivers for Mac OS aren’t out of beta yet. It’s close though and, at the booth, they confirmed that a 3rd party is building a handwriting–to–text recognition add–on for the product, which is what many people want.

Well, all for now…Until next time, continue to geek.

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