Cruising for some hints

Thanks to Macworld , I’ve been involved in several events over the last year or so that have been new experiences for me. I participated in two MacBraniac Challenges at Macworld Expo, for instance, and just recently attended my first-ever Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. This fall, another new experience will be added to the list when I participate in my first-ever Geek Cruise, as a speaker on MacMania 5. Not only is it my first-ever Geek Cruise, but it’ll be my first time on a cruise ship (not counting a few longish ferry rides in my youth).

I’m quite excited about the upcoming cruise. And no, not just because it’s going to some really cool destinations, such as Belize and Cozumel. But also because I get the chance to talk with and present to a number of fellow Mac- and OS X-heads, all of whom share my interest in the platform. And though I get to do this annually in my Best of Mac OS X Hints sessions at Macworld Expo, the cruise should offer a much greater chance for interaction with everyone—at Macworld, I’m usually standing on a podium, speaking to a room of several hundred. On the ship, I’ll be talking to smaller groups in a classroom setup. I’m really looking forward to being able to see and speak to everyone in my sessions.

Sessions. Ah yes, exactly what will I be talking about? I’m slated to give four talks during the trip:

  • Top 20 all-time Mac OS X Hints: My 20 personal-favorite tips and tricks, picked from (as of today) the 9,203 that we’ve accumulated on macosxhints.com over the last five years. To be perfectly honest, I have way more than 20 favorite tips, which is a good thing, as it means that most of what I’ll be presenting isn’t a rehash of things I’ve presented at Expo (though I do have some all-time favorites that have been shown before). I’ll also be using any extra time after the presentation to (hopefully) answer any OS X questions people may have.
  • Amazingly Cool Utilities: I’ll be demoing a selection (20 or so) of my favorite third-party utilities and applications—mainly programs that aren’t mainstream, but can help you be more productive, or that add nifty features to your system. I’m planning on showing a fair bit of hands-on time with each program, so you can get a sense for exactly how it works, instead of just reading about it on a slide.
  • Getting started with iWork: Inspired by my Inside iWork ‘06 training video, I’ll be demonstrating how to use both Pages and Keynote, the two programs in Apple’s iWork ‘06 suite. I’ll explain how the inspectors work, how to use styles in Pages, how to work with animation (builds) in Keynote, how to work with charts and graphs, and much more.
  • A Non-Geek’s Introduction to Open Source Applications: This will be an interesting session, I think. I’m definitely not a Unix wizard, by any stretch of the imagination. Five years ago, I knew basically nothing about it. However, while building and running macosxhints.com, I’ve come to learn a fair bit about the “dark underside” of OS X. The purpose of this session is to introduce those who might be interested yet somewhat leery of Unix to the wonderful world of applications that are out there. I’ll cover some basic Unix commands for use with Terminal, and then I’ll discuss how to install and use some open-source web-based applications, such as Geeklog, which powers macosxhints.com.

    The tone will be decidedly non-technical, as I don’t have the background to give a technical presentation on this subject. Instead, I’ll try to describe in plain language each step of the process, from start to finish. (Those who would like a more formal and knowledgeable exploration of the Unix side of OS X should sign up for Randal Schwartz’s session, A UNIX Guide to OS X—he’s forgotten more about Unix than I could ever hope to learn!)

Hopefully I’ll be able to make all four sessions informative and entertaining for everyone. I’m really looking forward to my first MacMania cruise, especially the opportunity to get to know some of the Macworld/macosxhints readers in a more personal environment. The fact that we’ll be doing this on a boat headed to some amazing destinations is just icing on the cake!

If you're thinking of coming on the cruise, or have any suggestions about what I should talk about during my sessions, let me know in the comments thread attached to this message.

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