Mindjet's San Francisco treat

The Macworld Expo exhibit hall is open for 29 hours from Tuesday to Friday next week, which, by my math, leaves you with approximately 67 hours of free time during Expo week to sleep, eat, and take in the sights and sounds of San Francisco. I can’t help you with that first area, but as for eating and sleeping, maybe I could point you in the right direction. Last year, Macworld ’s staff compiled a list of places around Moscone Center where you can grab a bite to eat in an iPod-friendly format. The latest Macworld Podcast includes some tips from Christopher Breen on making your way around the City by the Bay in a sane, safe manner.

But Mindjet may have done us one better. The software maker, in conjunction with users of its brainstorming and mind-mapping tool, has created a community map of the best things to do in San Francisco. The map, which you can see below, was built using MindJet’s flagship product, MindManager 6 (which earned a   -rating from Macworld in our recent review. MindJet created the map to commemorate the company’s first appearance at Macworld Expo next week.

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Return of the Expo Blog

By this time next week, we’ll be up to our eyeballs in Apple product news. Steve Jobs takes the stage at Moscone Center at 9 a.m. Pacific on Tuesday, January 9, and, by the time he wraps up his Macworld Expo keynote at 11:30 or so, we’ll have new hardware and software demanding our attention. For the remainder of our Expo week, much of the energy here at Macworld will be devoted to analyzing, examining, and opining on whatever gadgetry Jobs pulls out of his hat next Tuesday. It’s an exciting—and exhausting—time.

It’s also not a complete picture of the Expo experience. Because while Apple may be the most significantly company on hand for next week’s trade show, it’s still just one company. More than 350 other Mac developers will be on the show floor to display their latest hardware, software, and services.

And we plan on visiting with every last one of them.

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Macworld Live! with David Pogue

Steve Jobs’ keynote gathers much of the attention at Macworld Expo—and deservedly so. But it’s not the only featured presentation during the week. On Wednesday, January 11, New York Times columnist—and Macworld contributing editor— David Pogue presented his own version of a talk show, “Macworld Live!”

We could tell you all about the session—featuring guest appearances from “Joy of Tech” co-creator Bruce Evans, GeekCulture creator artist Liza Schmalcel, Garage Technology Ventures managing director (and one-time Apple evangelist) Guy Kawasaki, and CEO Phil Bates, as well as song parodies from Pogue himself. But we’d rather just give you the opportunity to listen in. Event organizer IDG World Expo has provided the audio of “Macworld Live! with David Pogue,” which we’re offering in two 45-minute chunks.

You can download part one (20.5MB) and part two (27MB) by clicking on the appropriate links.

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The Universal question

Most of the time, the question you’ll hear the most as you walk from one end of the Macworld Expo show floor to the other is something along the lines of, “What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen so far?” “What did you think of Steve’s keynote?” is usually a close second, at least for those who assume a first-name familiarity with Apple’s CEO.

But not this year. This time around, a different question was on the minds of Expo attendees, and it was directed squarely at most of the 300-plus Mac developers exhibiting their wares—“So, are you Universal, yet?”

Universal, of course, is the shorthand way of describing an application that runs natively on both a PowerPC-based Mac and the newer models powered by processors from Intel. And the question about Universal compatibility is more than just a way to break the conversational ice when you’re skulking around the show floor—it’s a critical question if you’re considering whether to buy an iMac Core Duo or, when it ships next month, a MacBook Pro.

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FileMaker's Expo showcase

Software created for FileMaker developers is never going to be a big draw on the Macworld Expo show floor—well, it is for FileMaker developers, I suppose, but the general populace is likely to just keeping walking past the booth. And that’s a shame, really, because I saw some pretty impressive things from the developers who set up shop in the FileMaker Pavilion, a group of kiosks just off to the side of FileMaker’s large display on the show floor.

Dr. Ron Smith is a Fayetteville, Ga., pediatrician who created a FileMaker-based paperless medical information system for his own practice a few years ago. Now he sells the program, PaperCutPro to other primary care physicians. Another developer, Christian James, was making its Macworld Expo debut to show of its PayGo SP point-of-sale software for FileMaker. It had one of the more clever names for a feature that I saw all week—the customizable aspects of PayGo are dubbed OpenSorta because they’re “sorta” open source. And .Com Solutions —which was on hand to show off the latest version of FMProMigrator software for migrating FileMaker Pro databases to MySQL, SQL Server, Access and other formats—was also showcasing software from another FileMaker developer, Actual Technologies. That product, Actual ODBC Driver for Microsoft Access, lets OS X users import data from Access databases using either FileMaker Pro or Excel. It sounds like an ideal way for Mac users in multi-platform settings to grab Access data quickly and easily.

But the FileMaker-based product that impressed me the most at Expo was a database analysis tool called Inspector from FM:Nexus. Sold and supported by fellow FileMaker developer Beezwax Datatools, Inspector analyzes a FileMaker database’s metadata, highlighting problem areas in a visually arresting way—namely a red dot. Hover over one of those dots, and a tooltip shows you what the problem is.

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Minding their business

Everyone has a company they feel a special affinity toward—mine is MYOB. It’s not that I find accounting software or business management tools particularly exotic. But I appreciate the fact that, while Intuit’s Mac version of QuickBooks languished unsupported between 1998 and 2002, MYOB remained an active presence in the Mac market. You have to appreciate that level of loyalty to a customer base.

And it looks like MYOB is going to remain an active presence among Mac developers for a while, thanks in part to a move late last year that received very little attention. That was when Australia-based MYOB Ltd. sold its U.S. operations to a group owned by members of the MYOB US management team.

There are two good things about the change in ownership. First, MYOB’s customers are unlikely to notice the switch, at least in terms of upheaval. And second? “We can focus on [the U.S.] market specifically,” says Tom Nash, a managing partner for the new MYOB US. “And we can concentrate on what [this market’s] needs are, specifically.” That gives the company leeway to introduce additional services to existing products—and maybe even explore adding small business products to its offerings.

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Photographic histories

While visiting my mom a couple of years ago, I found a box of old family photos. They were yellowed with age and cracked around the edges. Even my mother had trouble identifying many of the people in the photos. Our sense of family history was disappearing.

I put the task of scanning all of these old photos to my Mac on my to-do list. Two years later, it’s still there. The fact is, I’ve been overwhelmed by the size of the task. And I’m not just talking about the scanning, though that is certainly a monumental project on its own.

What I find even more daunting, though, is adding the personal information that will give these photos a sense of history and put them into context. I don’t just want to preserve the photos—I want to create something that I can share with others in my family to help tell the story of who we are.

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