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The Inside Scoop on the O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference

by Derrick Story
08/12/2004

Some things in life are good right from the start. When I saw the TiBook at Macworld years ago, I knew that this was the beginning of a great line of computers. The first time I opened iTunes, I knew that from now on, this would be the center of my digital music universe.

I have that same tingle about this year's Mac OS X Conference. The program is stacked with some of the finest speakers and luminaries in the Mac OS X space. You may wonder how I know so much about this event. Well, let me introduce myself: I'm the program chair. You could say that I'm the ultimate insider.

And what I want to do today is bring you inside, too. It's one thing to look at a program grid and say, "Wow, that's impressive." But guided tours are always more informative. It's like exploring Edinburgh Castle. It looks neat when you walk around inside, but only a tour guide can show you where all the bodies are buried. So let's start snooping around.

Digital Music and Stewart Copeland

The focus of this conference is programming and system administration, which I'll cover in a bit. But we have a full-fledged Digital Music Track this year, too. Why? Because this is a booming opportunity on the Mac platform right now. And your skills are needed to keep the momentum rolling. But you can't help with things you don't understand. The Digital Music Track will get you up to speed quickly, providing you with an introduction to the tools and workflows in the industry.

Also, it doesn't hurt to understand a little about the people you might be working with, namely the artists. We couldn't think of a better guy than Stewart Copeland to make this introduction. First, Stewart is a Mac guy. Second, he's a big time musician who reached the top as a drummer with the Police. Currently, he's enjoying great success as a composer. He was just nominated for an Emmy for his music in Dead Like Me. Finally, I can say that Stewart is truly a nice guy who has a wonderful sense of humor. You are really going to enjoy his keynote on Wednesday morning.

Each morning begins with keynotes in the ballrooms so everyone can get their engines revving for the day.
Each morning begins with keynotes in the ballrooms so everyone can get their engines revving for the day.

Insanely Great Mac Track

What the heck is this? Well, here's what I was thinking: I believe that Mac OS X is far and away the coolest platform in the world. It works for geeks and newbies alike.

Because of the versatility of this platform, I was receiving proposals that just didn't fit into normal categories. So I created the IGMT to accommodate all of this very cool stuff. Go to this page and scan the sessions. Doesn't it make you feel good that this is your platform of choice? And that's exactly what this track will do. Not only will you learn new things that you can apply to your life today, but you'll feel good while doing so.

Yes, and you can tell your boss that it isn't all fun and games. You will learn stuff. Lots of stuff. It just happens to be fun while doing so.
Yes, and you can tell your boss that it isn't all fun and games. You will learn stuff. Lots of stuff. It just happens to be fun.

System Administration

I'll be honest here. I knew this was a track that had to be strong for the conference to be a success. So I approached it with the seriousness and intensity that it deserves. But I wasn't really thinking thoughts like "cool" or "fun" while doing so.

Well, the speakers who proposed sysadmin talks had a different idea. They know that "useful" and "practical" don't have to be dull. And my gosh, did they ever light me up with their suggestions. Take a quick look at the System Administration Track. Yes, there are the words you'd expect -- enterprise, installation, maintenance, and networking. Now look closer. You start to see things like Distributive Computing with Xgrid, or you might notice that Taking Mac Installation and Maintenance to a New Level is led by a sysadmin at Pixar Studios, or that the Integrating Mac OS X into an Enterprise UNIX Environment talk is by a technical staff member from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

This track is anything but dull. We have sysadmins who are working in big-time environments and are coming to Santa Clara to share what they know. I'm positively thrilled with this lineup.

Andy Ihnatko told me recently that he just loves this conference. Why? "Because I'm a geek and I get to speak geek at the O'Reilly show." Andy will be joining us again, fully armed and dangerous.
Andy Ihnatko told me recently that he just loves this conference. Why? "Because I'm a geek and I get to speak geek at the O'Reilly show." Andy will be joining us again, fully armed and dangerous.

Programming

This track is solid. Very solid. Let me just throw out a few names to give you an idea: Dan Wood, Brent Simmons, Scott Anguish, James Duncan Davidson, Aaron Hillegass, Tim Monroe, Stuart Halloway, and many more -- all top-drawer. Not only will you learn about the ins and outs of Cocoa, but you'll have a chance to get the scoop on Subversion and the history of Unix, and even learn how to run your own software business from guys who have succeeded at it.

Take a look at the Programming Track, and I think you'll agree that this is an all-star lineup. And each one of them is looking forward to helping you discover the things you need to know.

Keynotes and sessions are great, but hanging out in the mezzanine with a power strip, your buddies, refreshments, and wireless networking ain't bad, either.
Keynotes and sessions are great, but hanging out in the mezzanine with a power strip, your buddies, refreshments, and wireless networking ain't bad, either.

More, Oh Yes, More

We're very fortunate to have Sean Fitzroy joining us on Wednesday night. His team created the short movie Pie in the Sky using all Mac equipment. What's interesting about Sean's project is that he had 48 hours to conceive, write, shoot, and edit the movie. It was all a part of the 2003 Boston 48-Hour Film Project, and Sean's team won it. In this Wednesday night special session, Real-Time Filmmaking on Mac OS X, he'll show you how he pulled it off.

Oh, and have I mentioned yet that we have Andy Ihnatko on Tuesday night, David Pogue on Thursday morning, and the singing Cocoa programmer, James Dempsey, for our Tuesday afternoon break? Ah, well, as I said, there's a lot going on at this conference. I hope you have a few minutes to review the site and get a feel for what's going on.

David Pogue is working on a great new talk for this year's show. He's going to take us into the future of Mac OS X.
David Pogue is working on a great new talk for this year's show. He's going to take us into the future of Mac OS X.

And we're not finished yet. I still have some great things in the works. More to come soon.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.


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