sesam is Péter Szilágyi, Engineering Manager at IBM Cloud, residing in Budapest, Hungary. This is his playground.

Macworld '09

I think it’s interesting how I wasn’t much moved by the feature list Apple unveiled at the 2009 Macworld upon reading until I saw the keynote Phil Schiller delivered. 

I gave up on trying to not read spoilers before watching the actual keynote. I am subscribed to too many Mac-related feeds just to do that. And also there are all the social networking sites, blogs, instant messengers that are buzzing with the news. So I read the lists and thought to myself: is that it?

Now even though I’m still quite disappointed by the lack of any Mac mini related announcements I started to like a lot of things just by watching the keynote.

For example the face recognition feature they built in the new iPhoto with Facebook and Flickr integration. Seriously, how cool is that? I’m sure the technology is nothing groundbreaking, but really does any desktop software do anything similar on the current market? Especially one shipping for free with a newly purchased computer? I’m quite eager to try having iPhoto create nice lists of pictures of my family, to check how well the algorithms deal with aging, etc.

Then there is the geotagging, which I guess critics will point out isn’t much more than Google maps built in. But the important thing is that as simple a feature as that it is still implemented with such finesse and attention to detail that is an Apple trademark.

The “it just works” is not only a slogan, I can see there is an actual desire by the engineers to make that true.

For example when Norbi left for Hungary he left his printer behind. It was simply too big and heavy to carry or send after him. So I got to use it and I plugged it in the MacBook. I waited, but nothing happened. No bubbles telling me that new hardware was connected, no pop-up questions if I wanted to search for a driver. Little did I know, that the printer was actually ready to use.

I only figured it out after checking the Print & Fax section of the System Preferences: there it was, Canon Pixus iP4200, ready to print. And all I did was plugging it in. Had I tried to print something right after connecting the USB cord, it would have been done. Simple as that.

Another time I recommended gmail to my brother, primarily because of the IMAP protocol. He was using the old black MacBook, the one I almost killed. He later told me he was a bit worried before he tried to set up the gmail account with OS X’s Mail. The unfortunate side effect of me being the tech savvy person in the family is that no one else really needs to know computer related things, they just ask me. So he was unsure if he could enter a correct server, select a port to use, etc.

However, the process went quite differently. First Mail asked what kind of mailbox he’d like to set up, where he selected gmail. Then he was prompted for the address, which he typed in. And that was it. Mail started to synchronise with gmail, and his emails appeared in the inbox. Simple, effective.

Apple can be accused of being all marketing, but so far I have a lot more positive first-hand experiences and reliable recounts of Macs being useful and jaw-droppingly user friendly than any other product. There must be something with these white, or lately aluminium-coloured, boxes that fills an auditorium with people just to listen to a speech about them. And I don’t think it’s just because of fanboys or brainwashed consumers.