Report from WWDC 2006

August 9, 2006

WWDC 06 BannerSo I’ve been at Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference for a few days now, and although a lot of the stuff I’ve learned is officially under nondisclosure agreement (and more importantly this site can be traced back to me with little effort) I can’t go on about it in too much detail. There are, however, some things that are general public knowledge that have struck my interest. Geek warning: if you are a grandma, this post may give you nightmares, possibly involving robots.

My predictions: My “what won’t happen at WWDC” predictions from last week mostly came true, mostly because they were obvious. I promise to post more controversial and arrogant predictions next time, giving people an opportunity to rebuke my claims, and me an opportunity to gloat when they come true anyway.

Dashclip: the next version of Mac OS X (10.5) will make it so that even a grandma can make a Dashboard widget out of a webpage. All you do is go to a webpage, hit a button, and select an area of the page. The first thing that came to mind when I saw this was, “what the farmer.” We saw in the Keynote presentation the example of making a Dilbert comic dashboard widget out of the Dilbert site. That’s cool, but I’m pretty sure the people who run the Dilbert site like their ad revenue, and Steve may have brought out great vengeance and furious anger from the guys over at Comics Copyright Cartel Co.

Stump the Experts: there’s a fun event here each year where a whole herd of Mac gurus (mostly Apple employees) get up on stage. The audience then tries to stump them with obscure questions, complete with prizes and fanfare. One question that was posed was: which Mac is known for being on the market for the shortest amount of time? An argument ensued between the Experts and the person asking the question, with people citing obscure Macs from 10 years ago or more, resulting in research online. Some 20 minutes after the question is asked, it occurs to another audience member that the answer is hideously obvious: the Mac Pro, the Mac we’d just watched Steve Jobs announce two days prior. Massive communal “d’oh!” moment ensues.

Meeting people: I had expected it would be fairly hard to meet a lot of “famous” people - people who I’d heard of or used their software. Not so! In the first two days I chatted up guys from Google Code, Adobe, Pixar, Fog Creek, Quicksilver, Unsanity, and Big Nerd Ranch, among others. Of course I’ve also talked to plenty of Apple employees, since there’s one Apple engineer for every four of us conference attendees. I even made one laugh - I must be a diety now or something.

Developing for 10.5-only: The new technologies that Apple is giving developers to play with are all really sexy and cool. What isn’t advertised loudly, though, that these things will only work if we make products that are 10.5-only. That is, programs that only run on Max OS X Leopard, which won’t be released until next year.

Back in the day when mostly geeks used Macs, the forced-upgrade approach worked fine since we all upgraded whenever something new came out, since “zomg new icons”. Nowadays, though, Macs are getting picked up by a lot of grandmas and other non-savvy users who won’t upgrade to OS X 10.5… or even know what OS X is! Apple has to be careful going forward with abandoning previous OS versions a bit too prematurely.

Geeky blog posts: I’m a huge geek, but you might not be. While I’m going to want to talk about geeky things, please comment and let me know if this kind of post is:

  • stupidly uselessly geeky (“Wtf, I can’t read this crap.”)

  • geeky but tolerable (“Uh, okay. Hrm.”)

  • interestingly geeky (“Ah, cool - makes sense.”)

  • not geeky enough (“Yeah yeah I know, more detail!”)

Even more importantly, if you’re a grandma, let me know… since in that case I should probably stop making fun of them.

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.