Off-Road WWDC: Day Four

I won't bother you with the overview or links to previous entries in this series. By now, I assume you know what's going on. Today's installment of my WWDC "off-road" coverage looks at food, both at the WWDC and outside the building. Plus a look at parties and other social events. And, oh yes, a couple of sessions.

Thursday 3:00 PM

Yesterday, I attended a session on the new Cut/Copy/Paste/Undo features in iPhone OS 3.0. As you would expect for a developer conference, the talk was all about how to implement these features in programs, rather than offering a end user perspective. Still, I learned some worthwhile tidbits. Without revealing details, let me just say that there is a way to implement Undo via buttons rather than having to "shake to undo." Still, shaking looks to be the primary way most apps will handle undo. Beyond that, Apple appears to have done a fine job of porting the basic cut/copy/paste editing structures from Mac OS X to the iPhone. Just another week and you'll be able to see for yourself.

They serve lunch here at the WWDC every day. It's free (or more accurately, you paid for it with your conference fee). Considering that they have to feed over 5000 people in an hour or so, they handle it exceptionally well. You have a choice of three different box lunches: beef/ham, chicken/turkey, or vegetarian. The specifics vary each day. You just get on a line and grab the box you want and sit down to eat. Typically, I was eating within a minute of walking in to the dining room, no matter how crowded it was. And the food was decent, sometimes even good.

Which is more than I can say for the food immediately surrounding Moscone. Almost all of it sucks. Especially if all you want is a quick, decent and not too expensive lunch. For dinner, your options expand to include some quality places, such as Lulu and Thirsty Bear.

Saddest of all is the Metreon building across the street from the WWDC. Once a thriving indoor mall, it now feels like a ghost town. The few remaining (mainly chain) restaurants are almost empty -- even at the lunch hour. There is a sign saying that a new collection of restaurants are coming in 2010. If they offer halfway decent food, they can't come soon enough. I only hope that the Metreon itself can survive that long. I wouldn't be surprised if it declared bankruptcy before the year is over.

Speaking of food, I don't want to leave the impression that good food is hard to find in San Francisco. Quite the contrary. The City has some of the best restaurants in the world. And more of them than you'll find almost any place. According to Lonely Planet "There is one restaurant for every 28 people" in San Francisco; 10 times as many per capita than any other city in North America.

You just need to walk a few blocks from Moscone to start finding them. Which is what I and my fellow Mac Observer compatriots did last night. We headed up Powell to Scala's Bistro for dinner. We had some fine Mediterranean-style food, complete with a waiter that was so attentive that I thought he was going to sit down and join us for dinner at one point.

From there, it was off to a couple of parties. Wednesday is really the only night that vendors can host parties at WWDC (Tuesday and Thursday are taken up with Apple-sponsored events). I stopped in at the Macworld party at Jillian's, where the room was packed and noisy, full of food and drink and people having a good time. From there, it was on to the SmileonMyMac party at Two. More quiet, but at least I could have a conversation without shouting. A special thanks to Jean MacDonald (good to meet you!).

You may find it a bit odd for me to spend all this time discussing social events at the WWDC. But you wouldn't if you were here. Virtually every developer I have talked to agreed: The best part of the WWDC is the social interactions. The contacts you make, the things you learn from talking to other developers are more valuable than any of the sessions. Which is saying a lot, because the sessions I have attended have all been very well done (especially considering that the presenters are engineers with presumably not much speaking experience).

I had to miss a special lunchtime session today, where Dennis Wingo talked about recovering images stored on tapes taken during flights to the moon back in the 60s and 70s -- and the use of Apple products in his recovery efforts. The feedback I heard in the hall regarding the talk was all very positive. Wish I could have gone.

Later today, I'll be heading to an "iPhone Configuration Creation and Deployment" session. Then it's the WWDC Bash at Yerba Buena Gardens tonight. More on these events tomorrow.