Today I took the day off work and travelled to London to go to MacExpo at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Going up the escalator into the main hall was to enter MacGeek heaven, valhalla and nirvana, all at the same time. Choc full of geeky goodness.
There were many highlights of the day: getting my hands on one of the new 17" iMacs was great fun, as was seeing rows of people in the mirrored drive door G4 games arcade blasting seven bells out of all manner of demons, aliens and Nazis. I must also thank the nice women at Crumpler Bags, who were very good about me repeatedly destroying their stand.
Three products really stood out: TypeIt4Me, Six Degrees and the delightfully-named Sketchup.
TypeIt4Me is a fairly long-standing utility which allows you to set up abbreviations which get automatically expanded into any piece of text you choose when you press the space bar. For example, the anchor tags in this entry were added by just typing atag then space. For some reason, I hadn't come across it before, but when I saw Riccardo Ettore (the author) demonstrating it, I bought it on the spot. It's super-quick, it's super-useful and I can already see that I'll curse whenever I have to use a computer which doesn't have it installed.
Six Degrees is an intriguing idea, which is similar in some ways to Zoé that I mentioned a little while ago. It has a great GUI and seems very intuitive to use. It can also work out the connections between any files, which would be great for trying to keep track of which of my "paper_final_version" files is actually the final final version. At the moment, it only works with Entourage as an email client, but they said that they are planning support for Apple Mail in the near future, which is great.
And finally, Sketchup. I caught the demonstration by accident about half way through, then sat through the rest with my jaw hanging open. Sketchup is a 3D design program, which is incredibly intuitive. It's hard to convey without seeing it for yourself, but you can create amazingly complex structures just by creating simple geometrical shapes, then pulling or pushing them out into 3D. You want a column poking out the top of your building? Easy, just draw a circle on the roof, then pull it out to the length you want. It really seems incredibly powerful.
I was waiting to speak to one of the guys on the stand after the demonstration, along with a few other people. I got chatting to a man who was similarly impressed ("Two words. A. Mazing"). To give you some idea the impression this software had on all of us, at one point he gasped audibly, grabbed my arm in excitement and said, "Look at that!". And I'm not even an architect or design student.