Oh, the places you've been

Ovolab which makes the telephony automation application Phlink, is showing a clever new app at Expo. Geophoto lets you browse your photos (or those on any Flickr stream) by location, rather than file name, date, or the other usual criteria. And it does it with a really cool interface—a giant globe, made up of satellite photos accurate to within half a mile, with thumbnails of your photos attached to wherever you took them.

The software relies on new longitude and latitude tags added to your photos. You can add those tags using Geophoto’s built-in database; type in “Golden Gate Bridge,” and Geophoto will apply the correct coordinates. Once those tags are in place, Geophoto will show you all the pictures you took on that trip to Egypt last year, when you zoom in on the Middle East. Once you’ve tagged a Flickr photo stream with the appropriate geotags, other Geophoto users can relive the trip, too.

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Microsoft learns less is more

I haven’t really had the exposure to the next version of Microsoft Office to make any definitive statements about any features contained in the Universal version of Microsoft’s office productivity suite slated for release in the second half of 2007. A 30-minute demo and a fleeting glance at publicly available materials are hardly enough basis to declare, with any amount of certainty, if Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is going to be a dream or a dud.

I do feel comfortable saying this, however: Based on what I’ve seen thus far, Microsoft clearly understands that the biggest problem with Office is not some sort of missing feature or capability, but rather, the fact that many users are unaware that features and capabilities they’re demanding already exist. By using this Office update to emphasize “discoverability”—this is a polite way of saying, “Your program is so massive, I have no idea how to make it do the things I want it to do”—Microsoft is acknowledging that it doesn’t need to emphasize new features in Office 2008. Rather, it needs to make it easier for us mortals to access the features that already exist.

That is why, when you open the upcoming update to Word, you’ll find a feature like Microsoft’s Elements Gallery, a sort of submenu that gives you quick and easy access to pre-formatted documents, tables, charts, and the like. Or why Office 2008 adds something Microsoft dubs the Publishing Layout View, which is a special workspace in Word for creating content-rich documents through pre-built templates and drag-and-drop graphics. (My notes about this feature contain the phrase “Kinda looks like Pages ” in all caps and underlined several times, just to give you an idea of what Microsoft may be aiming for here.)

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Expo survival tips: Connectivity

As a mostly stay-at-home guy, it seems that every year, as I hit the Macworld Expo road, I need to reacquaint myself with issues of connectivity. This year, as I vainly curse my PowerBook because it won’t send e-mail through the hotel’s network, is no different. With that, a couple of things to keep in mind for those who compute on the run.

You, your hotel, and SMTP

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Quark opens up the floor to questions

Quark has been operating in a benign spirit of openness lately, especially since its release of Quark 7. And it’s had some pretty positive responses to the release of Quark Interactive Designer 1.0 (   ), its new tool—affectionately known as QID—for converting Quark’s print layouts into interactive Flash projects for your Web site.

Over the past few months, Quark has hosted various forums for users and the press, in an effort to better connect with and gauge the priorities of its target market. And the company is taking another opportunity at Macworld Expo on Tuesday, January 9th at 3:00 p.m. in Media Briefing Room 252.

After giving Expo attendees a few hours to recover from Steve Jobs’ keynote address, Quark’s new president and CEO Ray Schiavone will play host to a “dialogue” with media, customers, and partners. Paul Schmitt, Quark’s vice president of product development, Jürgen Kurz, senior vice president, desktop products, and Richard Pasewark, senior vice president of sales and marketing will be on hand to cheerlead a QID demo by satisfied Quark customer, Factory Design Labs.

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'Twas the night before Expo

’Twas the day before Macworld, and all through the nets
Not a weblog was silent, they were all taking bets;
The photos were taken of posters afar,
In hopes that St. Jobs’ stuff would clearly show thar.

The faithful were ready, asleep in their homes,
With thoughts of Mac tablets a-dance in their domes;
As Phil with his keyboard, and Steve with his phone,
Prepared to present and to throw us a bone,
But out on the Web sites there was such a clatter,
I surfed to them all, to read up on their patter.

Come Tuesday, to Expo I ran in a dash,
A pause I did make just to get me some cash.
The moon on the heads of the other Mac nuts
Was a sign of how early we’d all left our huts.

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Trade show showdown

In year’s past, we’d spend this week before Macworld Expo checking in on that other tech trade show that takes places in January—the Consumer Electronics Show. (Or, to use its proper name, the Sprawling, Massive Consumer Electronics Show.) The past few years, CES began a few days before Macworld Expo. This allowed technology types with large travel budgets and unhappy home lives to make a Las Vegas-to-San Francisco swing through both shows. One year, our own Jim Dalrymple spent three consecutive weeks on the road, first at CES, then at Expo, and finally at the North American Music Merchants show —it took us until March to revive him.

Anyhow, that’s all ancient history this year, as CES and Macworld Expo take place at the exact same time . At the precise moment Steve Jobs takes the stage for his Macworld Expo keynote at the Moscone Center, Dell CEO Michael Dell will be doing likewise in Las Vegas. (Rumored topic of the Dell keynote: “Dell’s desktops—now more beige than ever!”) And while Jobs is wrapping things up with his “One more thing…” patter in San Francisco, Dell will be yielding the floor to Cisco Systems Chairman and CEO John Chambers for a thrill-a-minute talk about networking.

The excitement never stops at CES, I guess.

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Join our Flickr group for Expo

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well we certainly hope so, because there’s so much activity going on during Macworld Expo that we can’t possibly see it all.

So we decided to try a little experiment, and ask for a little visual help.

As a way to give our readers a glimpse into the workings of Expo, we created a Flickr group. Anyone can join the group and post their photos of the show. (You’ll have to create a Flickr membership first, but it’s free and easy.) You can also find the group in the Computers & Internet category, or by searching on the official title: Macworld Expo 2007.

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