Macworld 2011 and Paul Kent, VP of Macworld

As we began the countdown until Macworld 2011, we were lucky enough to interview Paul Kent, the current VP of Macworld. If you’re not familiar with Macworld, Macworld is a four day celebration that entertains and educates Apple aficionados. Macworld showcases cool software, hardware and accessories to go with your favorite Apple devices. Though Apple left the signature event in San Francisco, Macworld 2011 has still increased the amount of attendees. Kent said there should be about an increase of 25% of last year – awesome.When I say I can’t wait for Macworld, I really mean it. I found out last year that Macworld Expo has an enormous amount of Mac enthusiast like myself and The Real Mac team. The people that when watching a keynote, they start saying, “Steve, you did it again. I liked the last thing but really you out did yourself (again).” The people that are enthusiasts of Apple and the “Mac lifestyle”, and who love to see what’s next. However, if you did not know, Macworld Expo is not the latest and greatest from Apple, but from all the great companies that have one main goal, make the Mac better for the user.

From Apps to Add-ons, many vendors are there to show you what they’ve got. The two main vendors I am looking forward to seeing are Code Weavers, and TUAW. Code Weavers had an application to bring all your games and applications from the PC – oh Windows to your Mac. TUAW is one of our favorite sites at TRMG.

Another thing we are excited to see is the Mobile App Showcase. Macworld offers the unique opportunity to meet with developers of applications that you use in your daily life. Macworld offers the Mobile App Showcase. The Mobile App Showcase truly allows you to meet the developer who created the app you love on your iPhone or iPad. Last year was when Macworld first implemented the showcase, but this year the showcase is about twice as big as last year, and will most likely be just as packed as last year, with lots of developers showing off apps that are in the App Store and a few showing awesome new apps that may not have even hit the App Store yet.

If your looking for something to do during January 26-29, come by the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Macworld is the place to converse with other Apple fans like yourself. And, if you happen to see The Real Mac roaming the Expo floor, stop by and say “Hi.” We hope to see y’all there!


Exclusive Interview with the Man behind his Jarvis

If you read the article posted a little while ago entitled, “J.A.R.V.I.S. I.S. H.E.R.E.!” much excitement and awe must have went through your brain. Chad Barraford, the creator behind his digital life assistant, or more commonly called, ‘Jarvis’ was kind enough to spend ten minutes of his time and talk about Project Jarvis. Project Jarvis has emerged from a simple concept after the movie, “Iron Man” to something Barraford depends on and uses on a daily basis. Want to read our interview with Barraford, see below.

I understand you are a Mac enthusiast, how did it start?

I was originally a PC fan, like a lot of Mac Users, and I got job working for Campuses of Design when I was at UMass Dartmouth maintaining a large-scale banner printer and that was when I was first exposed with the Mac and fell in love with it.  When I first got out of College, I started working at Apple as one of their Mac Geniuses at their Burlington, Massachusetts Store. I got more in love with the Mac and I have been following ever since.

How did Project Jarvis start?

Project Jarvis started from an inspiration from the movie, “Iron Man.” When I first saw the film, like I think other people though of in terms of a very similar of “I love the idea of the Jarvis character, but I probably won’t see that in my house until I’m eighty years old.” As time when on, I kind of though to myself that I could do some of the Jarvis System that was portrayed in the film. It started off as a simple idea of, “What if my apartment or house had it’s own twitter account?” What would it ‘tweet’, what would it ‘talk’ about, what would it let you know and how would you communicate with it? It started off with just a Twitter concept and it just grew and grew and grew to voice, IM, SMS. Expanding its capabilities from just simple Netflix, package tracking, and home automation to tracking my GPS coordinates and more advanced things.

How is Jarvis powered?

He is powered by a four-year-old Mac Mini with 1.3GHz of processing power, and one gig of ram and an eighty gig hard drive. It’s pretty old, pretty slow, but thankfully what he does, does not require a lot of processing power or memory. What really does require a lot of ram and processing power is the speech recognition software of him.

How do you “talk” to Jarvis

I bought an xTag Repo microphone and I hooked it into Mac Speech Dictate and so that when I speech to Mac Speech Dictate, which the command is “Jarvis”, it basically takes speech I give it and puts it to text and converts it to a command for Jarvis to be interpreted and executed.

What other ways do you ‘speak’ to Jarvis?

Twitter, IM, SMS, Command Line, RFID Tag, and Email. I think I built about eight or nine means of communication depending on the situation I am in. I found that I needed to find the most efficient means of communication whether I’m: in my bed, on the bus, in a movie theater, or what. I found that over time I would build more ways of communicating.

Can you explain more about RFID Tag and how it works with Jarvis?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, it’s been around for quite some time and we are seeing a lot more where people’s company card and you swipe it to your company and it is essentially the same thing. I thought what if I could build my own RFID tag reader using an Arduino as the micro controller and the parallax reader and developed my own design as well as programmed it.

What do you find most useful about Jarvis?

I spend less time on Facebook, Netflix, packing tracking sites and other web services anymore, because when ever something happens that I want to know about, it is portrayed to me in live time either through his voice or private Twiter account. It is really convenient for me because instead of me looking for the content, the content comes to me. So, I am more connected than I was before and more informed.

What is future plans for Jarvis?

Yea, there really is no limitation. It is a gigantic industry, if the industry really does start on a mainstream scale. Some ideas I have, are through the GPS coordination. Right know Jarvis knows my GPS location at all time and right know I’ve only integrated that into the weather. So, when I ask him for the weather he will respond upon relative to where I am on the planet. There is a lot more that you can do with that. Maybe he can send me text messages when items happen relative to me from Google News. For example, a fire or a car accident or an event that occurs I can be aware of it almost instantaneously as soon as Google finds out about it. Another is through biosensors, to sense my heart rate like when I am getting to stressed out and to relax a little bit-that can be helpful. There are no limitations it is really your imagination, you can accomplish just about anything. About everything in the world is Web 2.0 there are so many great APIs, RSS feeds, KML feeds it really makes it easy. There are so many databases and sources that it is really amazing what you can do.

Are you planning or have you already purchased an iPad?

There is a slight chance that my work will be able to get me one, but I am going to wait for version two. I can almost guarantee that version two be a lot cheaper. Probably cheaper by two hundred dollars in price, and probably include a built in webcam for iChat video conferences. I think you will be able to see some pretty remarkable things like college students will be able to purchase their books online. They might have had to spend eighty bucks but they can spend about fifteen bucks and have them on your iPad. I think it will be remarkable to see where it heads in the next six months to a year.

I know you were a former Mac Genius, what would you say to any aspiring Mac Geniuses?

The Mac Genius job is an excellent experience. I really enjoyed my time there; I learned massive amounts of information. Meet great people and spending time in Cupertino, California to get my certification and training was one of my best experiences of my life. I really appreciate my time there, but it is a very difficult job. You’re really pushing and have to deal with some difficult people. It definitely has pros and definitely has and cons. If you’re real big in buying Mac gear, the discount definitely helps in that area.

I want to personally thank Chad for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us about Project Jarvis. It was a pleasure to converse with him.


Interview: Matthew Dornquast CEO of CrashPlan

At MacWorld, we were able to interview some interview some amazing people, one of whom was Matthew Dornquast. He has programmed in mostly all programming languages: python, C, C++, javascript, and more. At an early age, Matthew learned how to program. He first began programming because he wanted more lives in a video game. Then started to get more complex and he began to wonder what would the end of the game look like. He started to learn how to create programs by looking at open source programs. He would modify them and see what would happen. Below is the interview with Matthew and I. CrashPlan is a backup program that comes in two flavors: one for personal use (CrashPlan) and the other designed for enterprises (CrashPlan Pro)  and works on basically every platform: Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, Solaris, and more. If you backup your data to CrashPlan Central – CrashPlan’s 5,000 square feet underground data center of a former bank in Minneapolis and data backups are verified 24x7x365. Prices for CrashPlan are extremely inexpensive. To backup a single computer at 2 terabytes, it only cost $54.00 first year, $99.00 the second and $125.00 the third. Though I don’t know many people who would need 2 terabytes a year worth of backups, just know you have the option.

Nick: How did CrashPlan begin?

Matthew: Every great piece of software starts with a programers itch, a niche, where something that you want that the computer does not do. My case, new daughter. I had one of the first digital cameras and it took crapy photos, but it was the only photos I had and I ripped my music collection from CD to MP3 that I cared about, and too much work to replace. So I thought about how to back that up. While I could go to a hard drive, but what if that fails? I could  go to a RAID a series of drives where if one fails the other one still works. Well, that’s good but I live in Minnesota and if I put it in the wrong place, lighting or a flood, I could still loose it all. So it had to be off site. I started  to look at off site backups and no one was really doing anything. There was one company that looked like they might be doing it, but I did the math and it looked like even if it worked, it would cost me like $10,000 a year – WOW! I don’t have $10,000 a year. All I want is my stuff at your house for free! So I went to work, talked about it with a couple of my friends and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if” and we said “Yea, that’d be easy”. So we started building it, and then we found out after two years later that it wasn’t that easy. Three years went by and we realized this really wasn’t easy its hard, but eventually we built it. We came to MacWorld in 2007 and said, ” Hey guys you should try this!” They gave feedback and we just listened, added more features, got more money, and did that year after year.

Nick: What would you put in the next release of CrashPlan?

Matthew: The next thing is that we need to put in what our customers are demanding and we keep track of what they ask for. They want to be able to backup there photos to the hard drive and their finances to the cloud. Right now, CrashPlan lets you backup, but they have to be in both spots. So finance and photos have to be on the hard drive and on the cloud. So, we want to implement backup sense where you can choose what you want to backup where.

There are many key points about the launch of CrashPlan: Original itch, you have to have a passion, then you build it yourself, the second thing is unrealistic sense of optimism – they thought that building CrashPlan was going to be easy. They were stubborn and kept building and now we have the best backup software in the United States. About 1 in 3 people use CrashPlan to backup there computers outside the United States. I want to thank Matthew for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to me. He not only talked to me about CrashPlan, but he also helped me with questions I had about programming and helped point me in the right direction. If you would like to check out CrashPlan, you may do so by clicking the link CrashPlan.


Interview: James Ramey, VP of Sales at Codeweavers

At MacWorld, we were lucky enough to interview James Ramey, VP of Sales at Codeweavers. Codeweavers is a Minneapolis based software company that enables Mac OS X and Linux users to run Windows applications. Through the usage of open source software called Wine, Codeweavers is able to allow Windows based applications to run as if they were native applications. When you first switched from a Windows PC to a Mac, you might have been gloomy because you could not play Counter-Strike or had to buy a new license of Microsoft Office (Which is not cheap!).

Codeweavers has two different flavors of software, CrossOver Mac/Linux and CrossOver Games. The price CrossOver Mac are two different prices, $39.99 Standard, and $69.95 Professional. The reason for the difference in price is because of the time of support. CrossOver Mac Standard gives you 6 month of Level 3 Support, so you are able to get the important updates. In CrossOver Mac Professional, you receive 1 year of Level 2 Support. In addition, you also have a copy of CrossOver Games ($39.95). The difference between CrossOver Mac and CrossOver Games is with CrossOver Mac you are able to run enterprise applications (I.E. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, etc.) and Windows only games. CrossOver Games is geared more for gamers, so it only gives you the ability to run Windows games.

If you are using Parallels or VMware Fusion to run specific Windows applications like Counter-Strike, CrossOver Games would provide you with a much faster experience for an even less price. In order to use Parallels or VMware Fusion, you first need to buy the software (About $80), then a Windows License (About $150 depending on version), and then configuring. Even if you were using BootCamp, you would still need to purchase a Windows License. In short, if you are looking for a way to run your favorite Windows only game, or use Microsoft Word, CrossOver Mac or CrossOver Games is the perfect solution for you!