3 Geeky Highlights from 2013, More On Deck for 2014

In our final Mac Geek Gab podcast of 2013, John (F. Braun), Pilot Pete and I collected and shared our thoughts about our favorite moments from 2013 and also what we're looking forward to as 2014 comes into our respective time continuums. I thought today was as good a day as any to highlight those here in written form, too (OK, well, typed form... I am a geek, after all).

Secure Email

With a tip of the hat to both the NSA and Edward Snowden, it made great sense to re-explore a geeky interest in secure email during 2013 and, indeed, I began using S/MIME and GPGMail again on nearly every email I send out (and if you reply to me, you can then use my key to encrypt all future communications). We discussed this initially in Mac Geek Gab 463, but really all you need to do to get yourself setup is walk through this great S/MIME tutorial that Allison Sheridan and Bart Buschotts put together.

Geekier (and Better) Wi-Fi Setups

We had two great Wi-Fi-centric episodes (and many more Wi-Fi discussions) in 2013. The first was MGG 453 in June, literally hours after I finished talking with iStumbler's (and formerly Apple's) Alf Watt. The revelation there: in networks with mixed frequency spectrums use the same SSID for both bands.

For example, instead of caling your networks "davethenerd 2.4GHz" and "davethenerd 5GHz" I simply now call them "davethenerd" and let the clients (and base stations) negotiate and decide which is best. I've tested this extensively in several homes and 100% of the time it gets it right for me ... and makes setup way simpler. Kudos to the engineers who build the stuff that makes life simpler for the rest of us.

The second Wi-Fi episode we did was just earlier this month, MGG 477, where we dug into router selection, setup schemas and more. Nothing specific to share from that one, other than the fact that we've found the latest routers from both Apple and Buffalo to be top-notch for home Wi-Fi setups, especially if you have to run more than one base station to cover your entire home or office.

Better App Discovery

With so many iOS apps available it's hard to know which ones are the best. Sure, iTunes has reviews, but who are those people, anyway? I tend to trust my friends more than I trust random strangers, though there are some random strangers whose reviews I'd like to follow, especially if they already use a lot of the same apps that I use.

This year we got that question answered. Michael Johnston came on MGG 475 to tell us about his new site, Applr, which is a social engine for learning about new apps from your friends and, yes, from strangers who also seem to have similar preferences.

Great stuff, Michael, and it was a pleasure to have you on the show, too. We'll be doing more guests in 2014, as well.

And I suppose I can't finish my wrap-up up 2013 without acknowledging that, yes, for the first time I was able to use my iPad gate-to-gate. That shouldn't feel like as big of a deal as it was but, hey. We're there now.

Mac 30th Celebration in 2014

In about three weeks there's going to be a fantastic group of people gathering in Cupertino, California at the Flint Center to celebrate and reflect upon 30 years of the Macintosh. January 25th is the day (because the 24th is a Friday and Saturdays are easier to do these events!). If you're anywhere near there – or can make travel plans to get there – come attend with us.

It's going to be a blast. Members of the original Mac design team will be there, friends of Steve Jobs wll speak, plus some very special guests. And if that's not enough, the Macworld All-Star Band (yes, yes... the very one in which I play with Paul, Bryan, Chuck, Bob, Chris, and Duane) will be capping off the event with that which we do best. OK, well, it's that which we do, and we're going to do our best at it.

Macworld/iWorld in ... March 2014!

My feelings on large trade shows are not something I've been shy about sharing on MGG. In short, I'm seeing less-and-less value from shows that are focused on nothing but the exhibit hall. In 2013 I attended MacTech (again) and Çingleton (for the first time) and really found that the biggest benefit I get from traveling to events is the face-time. Smaller events basically force that upon us with total immersion schedules wherein we eat 3 meals a day together, go to events together, and really get to know everyone there.

Contrast that to CES (where I'm heading next week) and it's all about a monster-sized Expo floor where no one really ever spends time with each other. People hang out with people they already know, and there's absolutely no camaraderie-building happening with new relationships.

The reality is that the Internet has replaced the Expo floor in terms of product discovery (though I do find tightly-focused events like Pepcom and ShowStoppers to be quite helpful). I either can learn everything I need to learn about a product from its website, or I need to spend an hour or two (sometimes more) with it in my office to really grok what it's about. The Expo floor is of no value to me in that regard in today's world. Instead I prioritize people-time. Email me about your product, but when we're face-to-face let's just be humans talking about our lives, our families, and our hobbies.

And yet somehow Macworld/iWorld has been able to deliver on that people-time goal for me despite that still being in the "large" show category (there's more than 500 people in attendance). I'm especially looking forward to the show this year because of the timing: March is a much better time to get to see folks, especially with CES being at the beginning of January and everyone being so frazzled from that.

And yes, we'll be doing Cirque du Mac 11 this year. Want to sponsor it? Let me know. There are still a few slots available.

Most of all I'd like to thank you, our readers and listeners, for making what we do each day possible. I get sappy about this on the show sometimes, and for good reason. We truly do love what we do, answering your questions and helping you out while we all learn new things. It's not an easy job, but it's a fantastic one, and I truly do appreciate each and every one of you.

And I like hearing from you, too. WIth that in mind: what stood out for you from 2013? What are you looking forward to seeing in 2014? Let me know in the comments!