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Top Ten Tips for Mac OS X Con 2004

by Derrick Story

This year's Mac conference is going to be unlike any event O'Reilly Media has ever hosted. As I was sitting in a planning meeting earlier this week, it dawned on me that we'll also have to prepare different to maximize our experience during the last week of October.

The following ten tips will help you get the most out of this event. So right after you book your flight, refer to this list for your final preparations.

Tip 1: Start thinking Tiger. We are going to dig into Tiger on the first day of the show (Tuesday). If Mac OS X 10.4 is important to you, don't miss the first two feature presentations that morning. Wiley Hodges (Apple: Xcode, Java) and Chris Bourdon (Apple: Tiger project), followed by Sal Soghoian's session (Apple: Automator), will immerse you in the next version of Mac OS X. ADC will set up shop at the conference and be available for more discussion. Plus, it looks like there will be some developer-specific news that you'll want to take advantage of. If you're an ADC member who has a seed version of Tiger, be sure to have it with you and available on your laptop. Also, please remember to honor your Apple NDA while at the conference.

Tip 2: Get your audio together. This conference is for the ears as well as the eyes. Not only do we have one full day of audio tutorials and two days of music sessions, we're featuring Stewart Copeland (The Police), Xander Zoren (Apple), Joseph Saracino (DigiDesign) and all of the people they will attract at this show. Regardless of the level in which you're involved with music now, it will be elevated after this experience. Make sure your audio apps are up to date and you have your iPod, and don't forget your headphones. The iTunes music sharing via Rendezvous will be intense. The opportunity to learn sound engineering will be everywhere around you. Get your head into music now so you can take full advantage of this opportunity while you're there.

Tip 3: Bring the extension cord for your power adapter. I'm not even going to insult you by reminding you to bring your PowerBook or iBook, but don't forget the extension cord for your power adapter. Sometimes socket real estate becomes quite sparse on those power strips and there isn't room for the power adapter itself. Those with standard plugs will live to compute another hour while others have to fold up camp.

O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference

Tip 4: Pack a stash of munchies. Yes, there will be light breakfast and lunch, but sometimes you might want to roll through a series of afternoon and evening sessions and delay your dinner until later. If you're forced to choose between a growling stomach and a cool special event, you might be tempted to opt for the meal. Have some munchies on hand to curb your appetite and give you maximum scheduling flexibility. By the way, protein foods, such as dry roasted peanuts, stave off hunger longer than carbs that convert directly to sugar. By way of reminder, we have the ADC reception and Andy Ihnatko on Tuesday night, and Real-Time Filmmaking on Wednesday night. You'll want to be there.

Tip 5: Cut your rooming costs in half. O'Reilly facilitates a room sharing list where you can team up with another conference attendee and cut your rooming costs in half. And if you enable Internet Sharing (in the Sharing Preferences panel), you can take advantage of the in-room Ethernet connectivity for half the price too. (Of course, you have to have an AirPort card installed in your laptop to do so.) Even better, get a roommate who has an AirPort Express.

Tip 6: For secure connection to your server, test your VPN setup. Don't wait until you arrive at the hotel to test your VPN setup. Open the Internet Connect application on your Mac, go to File -> New VPN Connection, enter your account info, and test your configuration from home. That way, if you need to consult your system administrator, it's a friendly request now when he has time, as opposed to a last-minute emergency stacked on top of the other ten problems he's trying to solve.

Tip 7: Bring extra business cards. Yes, it's a digital world and you can send your VCard to new acquaintances via iChat or email, but sometimes introductions happen in hallways, restaurants, and elevators. A paper business card is more practical. Make sure you have a few in your pocket, just in case you make a great business contact.

Tip 8: Find someone with wheels. The Westin Santa Clara is a great hotel to hang out in, but over the course of the week you're going to want an occasional change of scenery. The best way to explore the local area is by sharing a car with someone else. "I buy if you fly" is a great way to repay the driver's generosity. And if you're looking for something different to eat, this is one of my favorite Santa Clara restaurant listings.

Tip 9: Plan a trip to Fry's and the Apple Store. If you haven't experienced an Apple Store yet, the Valley Fair location is only minutes away from the conference site. And for sure, don't miss this opportunity to wander lustily through the Fry's Electronics store in nearby Campbell. This is geek heaven on earth, and it's only a short drive away.

Tip 10: Get a cool laptop bag for on the go. Yes, you'll get a very nice O'Reilly canvas bag at the show, but in all honesty, it doesn't protect your computer very well. And your all-purpose backpack stuffed to the gills with every accessory your own will get way too heavy after a day or two. There are a number of lightweight, stylish cases available, such as Marware's SportFolio line of cases for $39. Your laptop will be protected and your shoulders will thank you.

All of these tips assume that you're attending our Mac OS X Conference that begins on October 25th in Santa Clara, CA. If you follow these preparations, you're in store for a week of intensive OS X.

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

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