Mac Corner: Macworld Expo show highlights

By Larry Grinnell, Palm Beach Phoenix Apple Users Group

larry grinnellThe 2010 Macworld Expo has just wrapped up. Yes, it was smaller than previous years, but it was likely just as much the economy as vendors being cautious about the first Macworld Expo without Apple’s direct participation.

Macworld magazine just posted their Best of Show report, and I thought I’d share my observations for you, dear readers.

Canson’s Paper Show is a fascinating device that uses special paper and a camera mounted to a special pen to transfer your handwriting to your screen. Canson’s website has several descriptive videos that explain it far better than I can, but in a nutshell, it allows people in a business environment to sketch business graphics in a meeting or teleconference.

The special paper that’s key to Paper Show has a grid that is detected by the pen and the software, making it possible to build shapes and objects that give the appearance that you, the author, are a graphic designer. Once you have finished the graphic, it can be saved and printed.

Carina Software SkyFi is a WiFi to RS-232 serial device that lets you control your GoTo telescope with your iPhone or iPod Touch. Is that just the coolest thing or what? Because it’s WiFi, it becomes part of your Ethernet network, which in turn opens the possibility of controlling your telescope from an internet connection anywhere in the world. Use your telescope while on vacation, while working late, while on a business trip, o r… well … anywhere, any time.

For you neat freaks out there who want to reduce the number of wall warts that cover both plugs, and you have devices that can be recharged via a USB connection. The FastMac U-Socket is a standard duplex AC wall socket with a difference: it has two USB connectors on it. This is just the thing for recharging your iPhone, iPods, and other devices that, like I just said, can be recharged from a USB connection.  It just looks so right.

Parking your car in a city center (or pretty much anywhere else) is a pain in the, well, you know where. Frolicware, a developer of iPhone software, came up with AutoPark. This program helps you keep track of the time left on your parking meter, locate your parked car using the iPhone’s GPS, helps you locate your car in a multilevel parking garage complex, and more.

Do you have to commute to work? Most of us do. I commute about 90 miles round-trip every day to my job. Inrix Traffic Pro, another great iPhone app, keeps track of traffic reports, lets you see traffic cameras, and more. All for $10 a year or a one-time $25 fee.

Are you one of the lucky ones who have one of those neato 27-inch iMacs? I envy you!  The Mini DisplayPort offers a number of options for viewing video from external sources like a PlayStation 3 or Blu-Ray player, but the problem is that you need some way to get that high-definition signal into your iMac. High-definition video requires HDMI connectors (for copy protection, mainly). Kanex has engineered the HDMI to Mini DisplayPort connector to help you get that signal into your big-screen iMac. This makes it possible to use your iMac as heart of a home entertainment center when you don’t have room for a larger display.

Do you need to keep track of billing information? Marketcircle Billings Touch lets you do so with your iPhone and syncs with their desktop application, but can work just as well as a standalone application.

An interesting new market segment is the pico projector. The Microvision ShowWX is a small video projector designed for use in a small area, producing a much smaller image than the big projectors. This might just be the thing to view your downloaded YouTube videos in a bedroom or other small room. It comes with a cable to connect an iPod Nano, iPod Touch, or an iPhone.

Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite is a $10 mobile office application suite designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch that offers a full-featured wordprocessor and spreadsheet program, compatible with Microsoft Office applications. This could be a natural for the new iPad, too.

If you are an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad developer, SachManya Yapper (I love that name!), gives you easy online access to the kind of tools that iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad developers need, and makes it easy for many non-programmers to build applications.

Ten One Design Inklet makes your multi-touch trackpad function like a small Wacom tablet. Add the Pogo Sketch stylus and get pressure-sensitivity, too.

These are just ten of the top new applications that were shown at Macworld Expo 2010. Keep your eyes on the Mac media to learn about more of the new apps and hardware that were introduced at the just-closed show.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Readers are welcome to comment on this or any Mac Corner columns by visiting the Palm Beach Phoenix blog as well as by writing the editor of Palm Beach

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About Larry Grinnell: Larry has been working with Macintosh and Windows PCs for over 25 years and worked as a senior technical writer and IT support professional for a major midwest-based consumer electronics and telecommunications equipment manufacturer here in South Florida. His musings on a wide variety of topics from computers to jazz guitar to strange foreign cars from the 1950s can be viewed at the website. Click here to reach him by email.

palm beach phoenix logoWriters of this column are members of the Palm Beach Phoenix Apple User Group, a nonprofit organization for Apple Computing Device Users, recognized by Apple Inc., with the purpose of providing educational training and coaching to its members (students, professionals and seniors alike) in a cordial social environment. The club meets the second Saturday (1-4 p.m.) and fourth Wednesday (6-8 p.m.) of each month at the Fire Station #2, 4301 Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach (just two block south of Southern Boulevard). Click here to visit their website. Click here to reach them by email.

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