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Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: Patch Panel

Musings on the 2003 WWDC

IT types finally get a room of our own

by John C. Welch


Welcome to a rebirth of sorts. Well, maybe 'remodeling' would be a better term. This is the second version of my networking & IS column for MacTech. No, the content is still going to be focused on networking and IT, with some AppleScript on the side. I haven't suddenly become a Cocoa programmer. But we're going to try and broaden the input range a bit. I'm also going to be the Network Administration editor, so with any luck, I'll be able to sucker, er, recruit some of my peers in the Mac IT community to contribute articles as well.

I think that's an important step to take. No one person can write well on every issue that affects IT. For one reason, there's no way for one person to have ultimate cosmic experience in the field. For another, the IT / Networking profession is simply too diverse. IT / Networking professionals get hit with an amazingly wide range of problems that most other jobs don't come near. I'm not becoming proficient with PDF, InDesign, and PDF forms because I'm bored.

So, this column, and related articles need to reflect that to be of service to the IT / Network professionals who read MacTech, or who don't think that MacTech has much to offer the non - programmer. So, hopefully, we'll be able to bring more folks into the MacTech fold, and that benefits everyone in the end.

Well, enough of that, on to the business at hand.

The 2003 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference

Outside of perhaps MacHack, the WWDC is the most important technical conference in the Mac world. In truth, it's the only technical conference for the Mac world. (MacHack attendees be calm. I'm not dismissing MacHack by a long shot. But it has a different focus than the WWDC and rightfully so. It's a programming conference for programmer seeking to push the limits of what the platform can do. That's not really what the WWDC is about.) I've always found it interesting that people in the IT field have blown off the WWDC because the weren't developers, when the fact always was that you could hit over 60% of the sessions and not see ten lines of code.

This year, you don't even have to make that excuse. There's an Enterprise IT track this year, and from the looks of the sessions, it's not just a handful of stuff to keep the IT types happy. The track is a serious collection of sessions that will give not only sysadmins, but internal/enterprise developers the kind of information that they need to better run their Mac OS X systems. There's also an Enterprise Feedback Forum. One note on the Feedback Forums. If you go to the WWDC, go to any and all Feedback Forums that affect you. You get a chance to talk to the folks making decisions for things like AppleScript, Documentation, Networking, etc. in a near one-on-one setting. The Feedback Forums alone are a fairly compelling reason to go.

That brings up another advantage of the WWDC: attendance. A typical Macworld Expo has a huge number of Apple people in attendance. Unfortunately, there's anywhere between 50,000 and 80,000 people all wanting to talk to them. The biggest WWDC I've attended to date had a little over 3,000 attendees, and more Apple engineers than at Macworld Expo. Do the math, and you'll see that getting face time with the people you want/need to talk to is far easier. But it's not just Apple people. Microsoft, Adobe, Netopia, Stone, Sybase, Oracle, HP, Xerox, almost any Mac developer that is working today will have engineers there.

Note that I'm saying engineers. If you want booth - babes, this is not the conference for you. But if you want to talk to the people writing the code, or managing the people writing the code, and making the decisions for the next code to be written, the WWDC is a gold mine of contacts. As an IT type, I have found that the friendships, both personal, and professional that I have made over the years at the WWDC have been worth the entry price and then some.

This year, we get a nice added feature, namely a first look at Panther, the next major release of Mac OS X. For IT / Network managers, this is another invaluable benefit of the WWDC. You get an advanced look at something which will affect your life, and you get to do it while the people making it are walking around the same room as you. That does tend to make getting your questions answered a lot easier.

As far as predictions go, I'm not making any. I'm not really sure what to predict, most of the information I'd talk about has been announced at the WWDC website, (, and for anything else, well, that's what rumor sites are for. From the session schedule, I'm going to be busier at this WWDC than any I've been to before, and that's saying something. Panther info is (obviously) high on my list, as is any hardware information I can get my hands on. I'd like to see more AppleScript sessions, but then, I always want that. I am pleased to see a session specifically on AppleScript for Sysadmins, and can guarantee that I'll be at that one. What I really need is the ability to clone myself for about a week, so that I can hit every session I want to hit.


So, again, welcome to Patch Panel, I hope it will give you the kind of information you need as an IT / Network manager to continue reading MacTech, or start a new subscription. I also hope to see as many of you as possible at the 2003 WWDC, so that Apple gets the message that taking care of IT is a good thing.

John Welch <> is an IT consultant for MIT Central IS, and the Chief Know-It-All for TackyShirt. He has over fifteen years of experience at making computers work. John specializes in figuring out ways in which to make the Mac do what nobody thinks it can, showing that the Mac is the superior administrative platform, and teaching others how to use it in interesting, if sometimes frightening ways. He also does things that don't involve computertry on occasion, or at least that's the rumor.


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