Breezing to Juneau

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As I write this, the MacMania VI cruise is located off the coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands heading toward Juneau, which we’ll have reached long after this dispatch is posted. According to this large map I’m looking at just outside the MS Oosterdam ’s Internet café, the outside temperature and the ocean temperature are basically identical (48°F), and the wind is described as a “strong breeze.”

Now, in case you’re not familiar with nautical language, there’s a strong history of misstating the truth—“Honest, I swear, that fish I caught was at least three feet long!” In this case, a “strong breeze” in nautical lingo is not what you might be thinking of (pleasant kite flying weather, for example).

Strong breeze is actually an official name from the Beaufort Wind Scale, which goes from Force 0 (Calm, under 1 knot of wind speed) up to Force 12 (Hurricane, over 64 knots of wind speed). Strong breeze is the term for a Force 6 wind, which is blowing at between 22 and 27 knots—that’s 25 to 31 mph. Add in 25 mph of forward boat speed, and the effective wind on deck is right around 50 mph (depending on the angle of the wind, of course). And that, by way of a long-winded explanation, is why there are very few people walking about on the deck outside this window: put together 48°F temperatures and 50 mph of wind, and it’s really, really cold out there!

MacMania VI

The Geek Cruise sessions started Sunday morning, with Joe Schorr, Apple’s Aperture product manager, kicking things off with his 3.5-hour Introduction to Aperture course. I was going to sit in and try to learn some stuff, but when I saw how full the room was, I decided it was best to leave the space for other attendees. To ensure that every attendee would be able to participate in the Aperture courses on this cruise, Neil Bauman (Insight Cruises’ president) and Joe Schorr did something pretty cool: Every attendee received their very own fully-licensed copy of Aperture at Saturday’s kick-off function. This is a product that sells for $200, and every Geek Cruiser is going home with their very own copy. I’m not sure who originated the idea or what it took to make it happen, but it’s a great one.

There are now 50-plus people, including my step-father, sitting down and learning about a program that they otherwise probably wouldn’t have bothered with. From Apple’s perspective, this is a good thing, because at least some of those folks will probably choose to buy the next version when it’s released. And from a Geek Cruiser’s perspective, it’s a great thing, because you're receiving a $200 program for free.

My sessions started Sunday night, with an evening discussion on Tiger versus Leopard. A few months ago, when I was putting together this session, it was going to be very interesting. I was planning on showing Tiger and Leopard side by side, demonstrating key changes in both the system itself and its bundled applications. With Leopard arriving a month or two before our sail date, I figured the timing would be perfect. Then, as you all know, Apple delayed Leopard until October. Uh oh—no side-by-side comparisons involving Leopard on this cruise!

Instead, I focused my talk on the publicly-known features of Leopard, along with some idle speculation on what I hope the infamous “missing features” (which Steve Jobs alluded to during last year’s WWDC Leopard demo ) just might be. (New Finder, anyone?).

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