The Vision Thing: The Andy Awards

Sometime on the evening of January 8, 2001, Macworld will reveal the names of the 30 best Macintosh products of the year, the recipients of our annual Editors' Choice Awards. Selecting Eddy winners is a long and arduous process, in which the best minds at our disposal and the only independent testing lab in the Mac market work for months to determine which - among the hundreds of products that shipped in the past year - are the best of the best. You can see right now who's been nominated at www.macworld.com/subject/eddy/.

Because so many products are evaluated and found wanting, it truly is an honor just to be nominated. And keep an eye on that URL; as soon as the awards are handed out, we will post the names of the lucky few to receive a golden statue.

The Eddy Awards are a survey of editorial preference. But with the support of the Macworld Lab and the 30-plus editorial experts who participate in the process, the result you get is as close to scientific as possible. And that's great. But it does leave one small hole: What are our personal preferences? What products do we use to sate our own Mac lust, and why?

That's where the Andy Awards come in. Like the Eddys, these prestigious awards are also based on a survey of editorial preference. It's just that it's only one editor's preference -- mine.

So without further ado, let me present the Andy Awards.

The Amazing Kreskin Award

The winner is: Google www.google.com. I will admit to being a bit prejudiced on this one, as I was a beta tester for Google for more than a year before it was released to the public. However, I got to be a tester because I've used so many Web-based search engines. And frankly, none holds a candle to Google. In my mind, the real test of a search engine is the telepathy factor: how often does it give me what I want on the first page of my search, when even I'm not really sure what I'm looking for? It's scary just how often Google gets it right the first time.

The Oldie but Not Moldy Award

The winner is: SonicBlue's Rio 500 MP3 player. There's nothing more annoying than that feeling you get when the state-of-the-art computer you bought just six months ago is now ready to be put under glass at the Smithsonian. Besides death and taxes, obsolescence in technology is the only thing you can't avoid. That's why I was so pleased when it turned out that my Rio 500 (one of the very first they made) wasn't rendered obsolete when the Rio 600 shipped -- and its value was even enhanced: my original Rio has twice the built-in storage of its shiny new sibling!

The We Know Better Award

The winner is: the Apple Pro Mouse. Yes, it's optical; yes, it looks cool; and, yes, it's not round. All good reasons to like the new Apple mouse, but not quite enough to earn it an Andy Award. No, the reason I'm honoring the new mouse is this: For years users have been begging Apple for a two-button mouse. So what does Apple do? Ship the world's first no-button mouse!

The Devil Made Me Do It Award

The winner is: Diablo II. Let's be honest -- we all know playing video games takes us away from the important things we should be doing. But we don't care; we want to be corrupted. When it comes to products designed to corrupt us, what could be better than a game about the Devil? I've lost more productive time playing Diablo II than I care to think about. But I have gained such inestimable benefits as sleep deprivation, alienation from my family, and having something besides general temperament in common with 100,000 teenage boys. And since I've finally won the game and freed myself of the Diablo II addiction, all I can say is, I can't wait to get my hands on the Diablo II Expansion Pack.

The Choice Editor Award

The winner is: Adobe ImageReady 2.0. Next to my e-mail, Web browser, and, of course, word-processing program, my most-used application is an image editor. I use image editing for a vast array of tasks, from building animated GIFs for my Web site to viewing photos from my digital camera. I have access to all the image editors available for the Mac, but I've found only one that does it all. No, not Adobe Photoshop . . . ImageReady. It slices, it dices, it opens everything, and it has easy and powerful text handling and a nice slate of effects. I've even grown comfortable using layers to edit complex images. Frankly, I find ImageReady to be superior to Photoshop. There, I've said it; you Photoshop and Fireworks fanatics may begin the flame mail.

The Timex Award

The winner is: WebStar Server Suite 4.2. When it comes to the Internet, I'm a competent amateur who doesn't have enough sense to be afraid to try new things. When I set up my first Web, e-mail, and FTP server in my son's closet, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Different software, conflicts, DNS configuration, caching -- it was a nightmare. Then along came WebStar, and my server hasn't had a down day since. (I wish I could say the same for my Macworld office e-mail.) It's reliable, fast, and flexible. When I want to try something new, there's almost always a plug-in available to do it. And administering the server, even from my office in San Francisco, couldn't be easier. It's the Internet hedonist's best friend!

The Swag Award

The winner is: Apple. When you work in the Mac industry, the one thing you can be sure of is, you'll never have to buy another T-shirt. To see what I mean, just come to Macworld Expo in January and walk the floor for a day. You're guaranteed to collect enough T-shirts, hats, bags, and useless tchotchkes to last at least a year.

Most of this stuff is wasted on me. After 17 years in the business, I have enough T-shirts to start my own Gap store. However, I did get something at last summer's Expo that I do use -- every day. In fact, I got it from a company not usually known for being free with the trade-show swag. Everyone who managed to make it into the main keynote hall got a free Pro Mouse, courtesy of Apple. I hope Apple not only continues this trend but also tries to one-up itself. I know -- how about a free iMac DV to everyone who shows up for Steve Jobs's keynote speech in San Francisco? I understand he's got a few spares lying around.

Most of this stuff is wasted on me. After 17 years in the business, I have enough T-shirts to start my own Gap store. However, I did get something at last summer's Expo that I do use -- every day. In fact, I got it from a company not usually known for being free with the trade-show swag. Everyone who managed to make it into the main keynote hall got a free Pro Mouse, courtesy of Apple. I hope Apple not only continues this trend but also tries to one-up itself. I know -- how about a free iMac DV to everyone who shows up for Steve Jobs's keynote speech in San Francisco? I understand he's got a few spares lying around.

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