A Year in Review: Macstock’s Past, Present and Future

The winter holidays are a time of reflection. A time to step back and give thanks for those around us: Our friends. Our family. All those closest to us that we hold dear.

And as we come to the end of another Macstock-less year, I’ve been thinking about all of you. A lot. And I’ve been thinking about the next time we can all get together again, in person, in a safe and healthy environment. But I’ve also been reflecting on the past and the joy brought to me, my family, and the community because of Macstock.

I had no idea when I cobbled together the first Macstock in 2015 how much each and every one of you would come to mean to me. Just yesterday, I delivered a package to a friend of mine here in Illinois that will help make her husband’s Christmas a special one. But I could only do that because another friend of mine, a friend I met because of Macstock (and, I should add, lives half-way across the country) took a trip to a regional store near his home, picked up an item that could only be found there, and shipped it out to me in time for the holidays.

And that’s not the only story of generosity and friendship to come out of Macstock. Far from it! I could fill this newsletter with those stories. Stories of selflessness. Stories of fellowship. And stories of love. Who knew how prescient Macstock’s logo would be when I sketched it out on a piece of scrap paper nearly 12 years ago:

Peace. Love. Mac.

That’s what makes the Macstock Community so special to me. That’s what makes Macstock so special to my family (most of whom you’ve all met at Macstock as they tirelessly “volunteer” to help make the weekend a successful one). That’s what makes Macstock so special to our presenters and volunteers. And that’s what makes Macstock so special to everyone who’s ever made the trek to Woodstock and became part of the Macstock family.

Macstock is about getting together and enjoying each other’s company, our shared history, and, of course, our expertise, and I am so very grateful for the community that’s supported and helped grow Macstock throughout the years. And I’m especially thankful to all of you patiently waiting for Macstock to resume once again. Your overwhelming faith and trust in Macstock (your faith in me!) to do right by you means the world to my family and I.

So as we enjoy the company of those who mean the most to us this holiday season, I wanted to use this year-end newsletter to take a quick journey to Macstock’s Future, Macstock’s Present, and Macstock’s (Recent) Past. But rather than invoke the spirits of the holidays (let’s face it, other than the Ghost of Christmas Present and the bounties of generosity and goodwill it brings along for the ride, those other two ghosts can be real buzzkills!), I thought we could, instead, climb into our favorite time machine and do a little time traveling together!

(I tried to find out if the device itself in H.G. Well’s “Time Machine” [https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/35] had a nickname…like Ol’ Betsy or some such thing. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem it did. If you know differently, let me know! For now, I’ll just say: our Time Machine — only because we don’t need that “relative dimension in space” bit.)

While it seems that elusive light at the end of the tunnel that was oh-so-close only a month ago just got a little further away with the omicron variant, as you travel to Macstock’s Future with me, please take the survey mentioned below and let me know your thoughts on getting together in person once again. It may be in 2022, or it may be later, but I know we’ll get there with a little patience and by all working together to put this pandemic behind us.

Take care, be safe, and be kind*,

Mike

* Those who follow Disney news through various YouTube channels may recognize that I’m paraphrasing one of my favorite Disney vloggers, David Erickson, of “Fresh Baked” [https://www.youtube.com/c/FreshBakedDisney]. He signs off nearly every episode with the words “be kind to one another” and I like it so much — and the idea is so very important — that I decided to borrow it. Thanks David!

Macstock’s Future: What’s in a Name?
PLUS: A Macstock 2022 Survey!

Time for a Name Change?

Okay, Macstock will ALWAYS be “Macstock”, but as Omicron rears its head and we’re faced with the important questions I pose within the survey below, it started to feel silly … like, really silly … to continually change how I referred to the next Macstock by year.

Macstock 2020.
Macstock 2021.
Macstock 2022(??).

Plus it was confusing for people. Wait…is Macstock 2022 the same as Macstock 2020? What happened to 2021? We had a Macstock in 2021 and 2020. Didn’t we? No, wait, that was VIRTUAL Macstock!

ARGH!!!!!

(Listen to the exchange Allison and I had at the beginning of her Virtual Macstock talk this year for a real life example!)

SO, I’m officially changing the NEXT Macstock’s name from Macstock 2022 (or whatever) to — insert trumpet fanfare here — Macstock VI.

I know. A bit anticlimactic isn’t it? But that simple change will make it easier for everyone to remember, and it’ll give us all something concrete to latch on to.

What’s the next Macstock? Macstock VI (or “Macstock 6” if you prefer, I’m not picky)

Plus, like bow ties, roman numerals are cool. Just ask George Lucas.

And if you guys still like to use a year, you can easily say: Macstock VI in 202x (more on that in just a second).

So watch for those changes to slowly make their way through the Macstock website and other references just as soon as I can make them.

Take the “Macstock in 2022” Survey!

I need your help!

Hosting Macstock takes planning. Scheduling. Booking.

Call it what you will, but to successfully host Macstock in summer, I typically need to begin arranging hotel blocks and booking the conference center nearly nine months in advance.

And while Janet and I toured many potential conference centers earlier this year, I’ve yet to reserve one for 2022.

Why?

Because doing so is an important decision and takes real commitment. (read that as “financial commitment”.) And, to be honest, in the age of COVID-19, it’s not something Macstock can afford to do, only to cancel later. It’s not fair to the venues, hotels, caterers, restaurants, promotional printers, or anyone else involved in making Macstock a successful weekend for everyone each summer.

It’s also not fair to you or to Macstock’s presenters.

Everyone involved needs to make plans to attend. Arrange flights. Book hotel rooms. Take vacation days. So when those plans suddenly change or are outright cancelled, that’s a financial liability everyone must bear.

So after two years of postponing Macstock, always thinking things are finally starting to look good for hosting in person again, along comes another roadblock like Omicron to throw a monkey into the wrench (that’s a “Mikeism”. Just accept it.)

So, yeah, I’ll admit, I’m at a bit of a standstill when it comes to making a decision on 2022.

But that’s where YOU come in! I’ve said time and again that Macstock’s Community is the key to its success, so I’m turning to you for help.

And while I realize you can only answer this survey based on what’s known about the state of COVID-19, travel, and other factors at this very moment, by taking this survey, you can help me gauge your current interest level in attending Macstock next summer. And that will allow me to make a better-informed decision on Macstock’s immediate future.

So please take a moment to let me know your thoughts on attending Macstock in person. Either in 2022 or beyond.

And while the survey itself is completely anonymous, if you would like to share your thoughts or comments on Macstock’s future with me directly, please email me and I’ll be happy to reply personally.

The survey will automatically close on January 10th.

Thank you!

Macstock’s Present: Have You Met Jim?

In the newest episode of Macstock Stories, we chat with Jim Rea about his history with Apple and developing for the Macintosh, the origins and development of the database app, Panorama, some cool use-cases of Panorama, and what encouraged him to attend his first Macstock in 2019.

Jim is a Mac developer ever since there were Macs, the founder of ProVUE Development, author of Panorama, and a frequent contributor to MacVoices.

Macstock Stories is a limited run series that focuses on the folks who attend and support Macstock each year.

Everyone has an interesting story to tell, and this is Jim’s!

If YOU have an interesting story to tell, whether it’s a cool project you’re working on with your Apple gear or a favorite story from past Macstocks and you’d like to share it with the Macstock Community, reach out and let me know!

Macstock’s (Recent) Past: Revisiting Virtual Macstock 2021!

Did you miss any of the Virtual Macstock 2021 live stream? If you have a VIP Pass or a 2021 Digital Pass you can watch and re-watch your favorite talks on demand!

To access your Digital Pass for Virtual Macstock 2021, just log in to your account at
https://macstockconferenceandexpo.com/2021-digital-pass/

Once logged in, you’ll see all 6 individual talks from Virtual Macstock 2021 embedded on that page.

And that includes Wally Cherwinski, Brett Terpstra, Rick Cartwright, Mike Schmitz, Allison Sheridan and …

Wait a second! Six you say Mike?? That’s right! We may have missed Kelly Guimont’s talk during the live event, but we got it for all you Digital and VIP Passholders and it’s ready to watch any time! Just like our other talks, Kelly had fun with this one and I hope everyone gets a chance to watch it.

So that’s 6 great talks on demand!

And while watching those talks, don’t forget to support ALL your favorite Macstock presenters from Virtual Macstock or even Macstocks Past! Show them your love for all the hard work they put into supporting Macstock each year by supporting them! Subscribe to their shows, give their software a try, buy their books, and read their blogs! And don’t forget to hit them up if you have questions about any of their projects, I’m sure they’d love to hear from you!

PSST! Have questions or troubles accessing your Digital Pass for Virtual Macstock 2021 or earlier? Be sure to drop me a line and I’ll be happy to help straighten things out for you!

Macstock Stories: Jim Rea

In this episode of Macstock Stories, we chat with Jim Rea about his history with Apple and developing for the Macintosh, the origins and development of the database app, Panorama, some cool use-cases of Panorama, and what encouraged him to attend his first Macstock in 2019.

Jim is a Mac developer ever since there were Macs, the founder of ProVUE Development, author of Panorama, and a frequent contributor to MacVoices.

Macstock Stories is a limited run series that focuses on the folks who attend and support Macstock each year.

Some Links to Know:

http://provue.com/
http://forum.provue.com/
https://twitter.com/provuejim

Everyone has an interesting story to tell, and this is Jim’s!

When I announced the postponement of the next in-person Macstock to July 2022 back in February, I also announced Macstock Stories, a limited run series that focuses on the Macstock Community: the very folks who attend and support Macstock each year. If YOU have an interesting story to tell, whether it’s a cool project you’re working on with your Apple gear or a favorite story from past Macstocks and you’d like to share it with the Macstock Community, reach out and let me know!

Virtual Macstock on The Geekiest Show Ever

Geekiest Show EverThanks to Elisa and Melissa for having me on the show this week! I had a great time taking a look back at the beginnings of Macstock and sharing a little peek at what’s headed everyone’s way at Virtual Macstock in September and Macstock 2022 next July!

From the show notes:

On episode 362 Elisa speaks with Mike Potter, founder of the Macstock Conference and Expo, about Virtual Macstock 2021. The first Macstock took place in 2015, and is a great way not just to learn, but to meet great people in the Mac community. Mike gives us the lowdown on this year’s virtual conference, and a sneak peek of what’s to come for Macstock 2022.

source & download: https://www.geekiestshowever.com/gse362-virtual-macstock-2021/

Listen Here!

IMPORTANT: Virtual Macstock COVID-19 Policy Updates

From the beginning of this pandemic, one of the driving forces behind my decisions to postpone Macstock twice from July 2020 to, what I hope will be, July 2022, is your safety and the safety of the Macstock community. After all, Macstock’s heartbeat — the very thing that brings us back year after year — is the community. And if I can’t keep that community safe to the best of my abilities, then what’s the point?

So when I announced the VIP Passes for Virtual Macstock this year, I did so with the confidence that everyone who wanted to attend could do so with the assurance that I was doing everything I could to protect you and the ones you love from COVID-19 and its potentially devastating effects. And those efforts included capacity limits, mask requirements for the unvaccinated, and then, later, further capacity limits combined with a mask requirement for everyone.

Unfortunately, since announcing Virtual Macstock’s VIP Pass, the positive direction that we’d been headed combating COVID-19, not just within the United States, but around the world, has taken a decidedly downward turn due to newer and more deadly variants of COVID-19 such as the Delta variant that is currently infecting a large segment of the population.

In fact, as of last Friday, McHenry County, Illinois — where Macstock is located — was upgraded to a Highly Transmissible county by the CDC giving us the dubious honor of joining so many other areas of the country that are also branded with a big, red, blotch on the ever expanding map of COVID-19 that was, only a few months ago, looking much better.

So with that in mind, to meet insurance recommendations, and in order to provide the maximum amount of safety and comfort to our in-person guests at Virtual Macstock, effective today, I’m implementing the following NEW COVID-19 PROTOCOLS for ALL Virtual Macstock VIP Pass attendees:

  • In addition to the reduced capacity of 40 paid VIP Passes that I implemented on August 8th, effective August 16th, 2021, EVERYONE 12 AND OLDER WHO ATTENDS VIRTUAL MACSTOCK 2021 IN PERSON — and that includes all VIP Passholders, Volunteers, and Speakers — MUST PROVIDE PROOF OF VACCINATION AGAINST COVID-19 at the registration desk to be admitted. Those who cannot provide acceptable proof of vaccination will be turned away.
  • Second, while masks are not currently mandated by the State of Illinois or the City of Woodstock, face masks are highly recommended by the CDC for everyone while in public places and indoors. Therefore, Macstock will also strongly encourage the use of face coverings for all in attendance. However, with everyone in attendance vaccinated, face masks will not be required unless required/mandated by state or local governments at some point prior to September 25th, 2021.
    UPDATE! As promised, the rules have changed AGAIN. Effective Monday, August 30th, the State of Illinois is reinstituting a statewide indoor mask mandate requiring facial coverings within indoor settings like Virtual Macstock, regardless of vaccination status. So please be sure to come with your own mask that can be worn comfortably over your mouth and nose during the entire time you’re inside the Stage Left Café attending Virtual Macstock.
  • Finally, because I understand this is the third time I’ve changed the rules on you since announcing the VIP Pass, effective August 16th, I am eliminating the $10 processing fee from refunds as well as extending the window to receive a full refund on your VIP Pass to September 18th. This means, regardless of the circumstances that might require you to ask for a refund, you will have up to one week prior to Virtual Macstock to decide if you’re unable to attend for any reason and/or meet the requirements of providing proof of vaccination.

There’s a limit to what I can do to protect the Macstock Community. While keeping you safe is my priority, I can’t protect the Macstock Community alone. I need your help and I thank everyone for your patience, understanding, and willingness to respectfully comply with our policies for the safety of all attending.

A Look Toward Macstock’s Future

As an event that thrives on social interaction and community building, Macstock will not survive on virtual alone.

So if Macstock is to enjoy another 5 wonderful years, we need to get back to a place where not only can we host Macstock without the specter of COVID hanging over our heads, but we can do so in a way that encourages the participation, fellowship, and community that we’ve come to love about Macstock.

To get to that point for Macstock 2022 next July, I believe that, for the moment, we’ll need to look at the current state of Virtual Macstock’s VIP Pass and its COVID Protocols as the model for Macstock 2022…at least until we can finally put this pandemic behind us.

Thank you everyone for your support.

Mike

Virtual Macstock is Back!

For 6 years we’ve gathered in the halls of the Luecht Conference Center the third or fourth weekend of July for a fantastic weekend of Macstock (okay, okay, technically the FIRST year it was the third weekend of June, and last year we gathered virtually, but bear with me a moment here!)

And while we’re currently full steam ahead to gather in person once again for 3 days the fourth weekend of July 2022, things are going to be a little different this year, because this year, in exactly two months, we’ll be gathering the fourth Saturday of September for the first ever hybrid Macstock event: Virtual Macstock 2021!

(If you missed the announcement video, you can watch that here)

That’s right, on September 25th, Virtual Macstock is back!

And I’m inviting YOU to join me.

The best part is, we took what we learned from last year and made this year’s Virtual Macstock even better! Because for the first time since 2019, for a limited number of guests, you can attend in person, with a new Virtual Macstock VIP Pass that’s available to anyone who’d like to take part in the day, along with me, LIVE at the Stage Left Café in Woodstock IL.**

That means you now have three ways to participate in this year’s Virtual Macstock:

  • You can attend virtually from anywhere in the world via our live stream.
  • You can purchase a Digital Pass and join us live and watch again later on your own schedule.
  • Or you can purchase a VIP Pass and be there in person!

** Please note that in keeping with the times and putting the safety of the Macstock Community at the forefront, the VIP Pass ticket sales will be limited to a maximum of 60. Please read and understand the FAQ / T&C for this year’s Virtual Macstock if you plan to be there in person! Macstock’s safety rules may change prior to Virtual Macstock. If you have questions, please check the FAQ for the latest updates or Contact Me!

What Else is New?

For those attending virtually, we’ve got a new, improved, virtual lounge with multiple rooms and live video & audio direct from your Mac to better see who you’re talking to! And just like last year, our lounge offers spacial audio within each room so you’ll better hear others you’re close to, but can’t hear those who are far away.

Not enough? Don’t forget the day’s live stream where we’ll be chatting with some of Macstock’s presenters who’ll be giving you snack-size talks that preview their full presentations coming your way at Macstock 2022!

This year’s presenters will be joining us both virtually and in-person and I’m working hard to confirm everyone who’s been invited to speak at this year’s Virtual Macstock, but some of the speakers you’ll recognize from past Macstocks include Wally Cherwinski, Kelly Guimont, and Rick Cartwright. How’s that for a start? And that’s just about half the line up!

And, of course, we can’t forget my good buddy Dave Ginsburg who’ll be at Stage Left Café to co-host the day with me!

Will You Join Us?

Virtual Macstock is back for its second year and with three options to join in the fun, HOW you take part is up to you!

Whether it’s watching the live stream, chatting using video and audio in our new, improved, virtual lounge, hanging out in our chat rooms, or, for the first time since 2019, enjoying the in-person feel of Macstock with a limited seating VIP Pass, we’ve got more options than ever to stay in touch with your friends while waiting for Macstock 2022 to get here.

You may Register for Virtual Macstock Here

Hope to see you there!

Mike