Hoo boy: The first day on the show floor

Aaah, there’s nothing quite like cruising the show floor at a big convention. It’s overwhelming, it’s over-stimulating, but it’s tons of fun.

In the Expo’s South hall alone you’ve got major software application developers like Microsoft, Adobe, and Google all conducting tutorials and training seminars; you’ve got access to every iPod or iPhone accessory you ever wanted, and about 18 million more that you never knew you wanted, from big names like Samsung and Shure right down to local retailers from all over the country; and of course you’ve got the Apple store as the giant hub of it all.

One of the best-looking booths I saw was for a bags company called Crumpler. It was this giant, intricate castle made of cardboard. Somehow I stumped the people working there by asking what the bag’s selling points were. Eventually they showed me a professional photographer’s backpack with lots of handy compartments for lenses, cameras, film, etc. The bags all looked nice, but a little too much like Timbuk2 bags design- and color-wise.

The coolest product I came across was the Axiotron Modbook, “The One and Only Tablet Mac.” (I just noticed it won the Best of Show prize at last year’s Macworld Expo.) It was a completely functional MacBook inside a tablet computer, meaning you don’t use a mouse or keyboard, just a pen that uses Penabled digitizer technology from Wacom. I played around with it in Photoshop, drawing stuff and erasing it. My favorite part was that the non-drawing end of the pen actually worked like an eraser, so it’s more of a digital pencil. I really enjoyed using it, I think tablet computers are very futuristic and therefore cool. Not sure how typing out a long blog post would go on one though… maybe I’ll get the chance to go back and ask.

The most interesting application I discovered today was Storyist, which is essentially a fancy word processing program that bills itself as “a powerful story development tool for novelists and screenwriters.” Its major features are a page layout screen, where you can view your novel or screenplay in an appropriate view; a storyboard where you can keep little notecards and have your backstory, character descriptions, etc. right there in front of you the whole time you’re writing; and a project manager that lets you organize and search the entire project. While Microsoft’s Word does piss me off a lot, I’m not sure I’m ready to plunk down the cash for Storyist, even though I do think it’s got a lot of handy features. I’m mostly just glad to see someone innovating in the word processing field, you don’t really see that every day.