Low End Mac

Macworld Expo Coverage

San Francisco Log

With our oldest son turning 18 in a few months, we decided this might be the last chance for a big family vacation, so we took the whole family to San Francisco. Thanks to Priceline.com, airfare and hotel accomodations were far more affordable that would normally be the case. We flew into San Francisco Saturday night.

We reached our hotel, the Ramada Plaza, at about quarter to ten local time - or about 12.45 a.m. back home in the Eastern Time Zone. After putting our luggage into our rooms, we crossed Market Street for some food and drinks at Burger King. Then time to crash.


This is the first trip to San Francisco for all of us, so there's a lot to explore. We looked through the booklets and magazines, then decided to start with City Pass. This would give us seven days of transportation on the Muni: cable cars, streetcars, and buses. It also included admission to the SFMOMA, Exploratorium, a cruise around the bay, and more. Since we're several blocks from the Moscone Center and even farther from most sites, the transit pass alone is invaluable.

After breakfast in the hotel restaurant (good but expensive), we headed for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) to buy our City Passes.

After a short tour of the SFMOMA, we caught a trolley to Fisherman's Wharf, where we spent most of the day. That included the bay tour, which brought us around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge. That was an especially chilly part of the day; those of us with heavy coats were grateful for them.

Sunday evening we dined on SOMA Pizza, two huge pies with our favorite toppings delivered to the room. Between six of us, we still had half a pizza left for breakfast.


Our first priority on Monday was a power supply for my wife's iBook, which was getting low on power. Off to CompUSA, which was unable to help. Well, net completely - they did send us to MACadam Computers, on Folsom "between 4th and 5th."

Well, that was off by several blocks, but we did find MACadam, which is an Apple-only computer store stocked with almost anything imaginable. MACadam is probably unique in using the Twentieth Anniversary Mac for its point-of-sale system. They had no problem supplying a power adapter and an AirPort card. On the other hand, they do charge $154.59 for the AirPort card, something Apple and most other vendors sell for $99 or less.

By now the sun was coming out, so back to the Ramada Plaza to drop off our coats and charge up the iBook's battery. Next: take the F Line back to Fisherman's Wharf and a tour of Alcatraz. Not only a fascinating tour, but a great place to get photos of the city. (One of the boys took this photo, which has only been enhanced to cut through the haze.)


Macworld Expo began on Tuesday with Steve Jobs' keynote address, where he unveiled far faster Power Macs and the PowerBook G4, along with some new software - and a final release date for OS X.

The whole family spent most of the day at the Expo, where my wife found some impressive educational software - I'm hoping she'll write a report on that, since it's well outside my area of expertise.

One of the great things for me was using AirPort for the first time. At this Expo, they've set up AirPort access in the media rooms, making it quick and easy to get onto the Internet for email and site updates. This is a great technology; I'm hoping to set up an AirPort network at home once I get my PowerBook G4.

As for San Francisco itself, we discovered Carl's Jr., a great place for breakfast. It's not as fast as McDonald's, a little more expensive, but with great portions and very tasty sourdough sandwhiches and breakfast burritos. We had lunch at the Metreon, a showplace for Sony's latest technology with a good variety of restaurants in the food court.


On Wednesday, Brain (#2 son) and I went to the Expo. We managed to get closer to the PowerBook G4 and remain impressed with it. We'd each like one, although it's well outside his budget at this time.

We tried to make it through both halls at the Moscone Center, looking for interesting new technology and good buys. I picked up a five pack of Retrospect client licenses, since I'll need another license when I get my PB G4.

I also bought a Contour MiniPro Mouse, a small USB optical mouse complete with a storage case, at the show special price of $30 (normally $37.95) for my wife's iBook - and a second one in anticipation of my new PowerBook. The MiniPro has two buttons, and the larger button can be one of five different colors (graphite, indigo, blueberry, tangerine, and lime).

Although the iBook has the best trackpad to date, I still find it much faster and easier to work with a mouse when space permits. The MiniPro is an excellent choice for portable use, and the storage case protects it while keeping the cord from getting tangled. (The cord comfortably runs around the back of the iBook, allowing comfortable mouse use on the right.)

After the Expo, the family found a great Mexican restaurant, Chevy's. Most of us are big fans of Tex-Mex; we frequent Don Pablo's and Carols O'Kelly's regularly at home. We found Chevy's a cut above; the chicken flautas put to shame the ones I love at Don Pablo's.

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