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

Virtual Macstock Was Here!

Virtual Macstock LogoI had two thoughts on my mind as Virtual Macstock came to a close last Saturday:

Wow, that actually worked!

and…Man, Virtual Macstock was a BLAST!!

We had speakers in their virtual green room, chatters in the chat room, and avatars zipping around the Macstock Lounge — thank you Marina! — and then folks jumping between them all throughout the day.

Just Like Macstock.

And, if you didn’t catch it, we even had a MyMac.com recording session taking place in the Lounge. Just…Like…Macstock.

Dang Guy and Gaz, that episode was fun! For anyone who missed it, be sure to catch it and all the Virtual Macstock attendee cameos, right here: https://www.mymac.com/2020/07/mymac-podcast-811-aliens-hack-skype/

THEN, don’t miss Allison Sheridan’s look at how High Fidelity and Jitsi Meet (used for the speaker green room) worked in concert to bring a little extra “real” to the virtual. Her blog post on some of the tech we used for Virtual Macstock is here: https://www.podfeet.com/blog/2020/07/virtual-macstock-tools/ and you’ll also hear Steve and Allison chatting about High Fidelity in this week’s NosillaCast here: https://www.podfeet.com/blog/2020/07/nc-794-2/

Allison also shared a human connection story with me where an attendee, Brian, met them in the Macstock Lounge and, later, caught up with them again in the NosillaCast live chatroom!

Just Like Macstock. Awesome!

Okay, I know it wasn’t exactly “Just Like Macstock” in every respect, but it sure was great seeing all the folks I’ve met and become friends with throughout the years hanging out and having a good time. That was the point of Virtual Macstock. And that absolutely was…Just Like Macstock.

It just makes me long for the next in-person Macstock even more. Can’t wait!

Accessing the Live Stream Encore

Virtual Macstock EncoreDid you miss some of the live stream? No problem! The encore is playing in the Virtual Macstock Main Hall!

We had a little glitch with the actual recording of the live stream lopping off the beginning and end of the day(!!), but I was able to download a full copy and re-upload it separately.

To access the encore presentation, just log in to your account at https://macstockconferenceandexpo.com/virtual-macstock-2020/

Once logged in, you’ll see the full video embedded on that page.

*PSST!* Want to jump to a certain talk? No worries, I won’t tell! Unfortunately, YouTube Chapter Markers can’t be embedded on the Macstock site, so you’ll also find a direct link to watch the encore on YouTube with Chapter Markers to make it easier to find the talk you’re looking for.

The live stream will be available on the Virtual Macstock Main Hall page for all Virtual Macstock Passholders through August 1st, 2020. EXTENDED: through August 8th, 2020

Macstock 2021 Weekend Passholders will also have the videos added individually to their Digital Pass to watch any time.

Virtual Macstock is Coming!

The rumors* are true!

Two weeks from today we were slated to gather for the 6th annual Macstock Conference but, despite our best wishes and hopes, prudent caution and doing right by Macstock’s attendees took precedence, and Macstock 2020 was officially rescheduled for July 2021.

But I didn’t want to leave things at that. I miss you guys!

So the planning gears kicked in and, as those gears turned (albeit slowly), the idea of doing something Macstock-related on the “weekend that would have been” began to take shape.

Soon, much like the first Macstock back in 2015, Virtual Macstock began to take on a life of its own.

So, What’s Virtual Macstock?

I’m glad you asked!

Virtual Macstock will take place Saturday, July 25th, from 11am – 4pm CDT, and is a free, “drop in as you can” type event that’s available to anyone who’d like to stop by and check in on the sessions and the live stream, ask questions in the chat room, or even check out the “hallway track” we’ll have set up for you to hang out with Macstock friends you may not have seen since last year!

Here’s the best part: If you purchased a 2-Day Pass to Macstock 2020/2021, YOU’RE ALREADY REGISTERED!

And if you haven’t, registering for Virtual Macstock itself is completely free.

Of course you’re always welcome to purchase a Weekend Pass for what is now Macstock 2021, and that will register you too. Even though Macstock 2020 has been officially postponed to July 2021, if you purchase a Weekend Pass to “Macstock 2020” before July 26th, you’ll be signing up for 3 Days of Macstock 2021 at Macstock 2020 pricing!

Will There Be Sessions Like Macstock?

You bet! What would Macstock be without them?!

With so many amazing presentation submissions this year, Virtual Macstock is my opportunity to help introduce you to some of the speakers already accepted for Macstock 2021!

And it’s a pretty darned great selection of speakers if I do say so myself. With faces both new and returning, this inaugural edition (*hint, hint*) of Virtual Macstock is scheduled to feature only a small slice of those heading to Macstock’s stage in 2021 including (in no particular order):

Mike Schmitz
Brittany Smith
Jay Miller
Chuck Joiner
Allison Sheridan
Josh Rensch
Elle Newman & Brett Terpstra

and Joe Buhlig

We’ll be spending 20 mins with each of them** discussing all sorts of topics including previews of next year’s talks, cool projects they’re working on, or maybe something exciting going on in their life that has to do with the “World of Apple”.

AND, as time permits, we’ll throw things over to my pal Dave Ginsburg who’ll take the reins as “co-host” throughout the day as we chat live with speakers and ask them YOUR questions from Virtual Macstock’s live chat!

In addition, all talks will be available for 7 days following Virtual Macstock for everyone who signs up — and if you’ve purchased a Macstock 2020/2021 Weekend Pass, the talks will be available indefinitely as part of your Digital Pass for Macstock 2021.

That’s the plan anyway! How’s that sound to you?

Sounds great! How Do I Sign Up?

Did you buy a Weekend Pass to Macstock 2020/2021? You’re all set! Just sign in on the 25th with the same account used to purchase your ticket(s).

Otherwise, you can register for Virtual Macstock 2020 by itself right here: https://macstockconferenceandexpo.com/product/virtual-macstock-2020/

All Details for taking part in Virtual Macstock will be sent to you before the event.

Wrapping Up…

I’ll say this: Virtual Macstock feels very much like the first Macstock to me.

Put together on a shoestring with little idea whether it would work or not, I’d say we’ve had a pretty good run with Macstock the past 5 years. And I’m very much looking forward to the next 5 years of Macstock…and beyond!

Yes, things sometimes go wrong at Macstock — it wouldn’t be Macstock if it didn’t! 🙂 — and with all the digital balls we’ll be juggling on the 25th, I’m certain something won’t go quite as planned during Virtual Macstock, but, hey, as I’ve found out these past 5 years, Macstock and the amazing community of folks who come back year after year has been worth it!

I can’t wait to have you join us for Virtual Macstock on July 25th…and then to see everyone once again, in person, at Macstock 2021!

Mike

* Rumors to the extent that they’ve existed — almost exclusively — for quite a while now deeply entrenched within my head.

** 20 minute sessions will be pre-recorded to help keep things moving, but we’ll have time to chat and answer questions with many of them LIVE after their talk.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Macstock 2020 Postponement

Making the Call… We’re Moving to 2021 2022!

*NEW* FEBRUARY 2022 UPDATE #2: Where we’re at with the next Macstock, what needs to happen before we can get together again, and a couple ideas I have for the Macstock community in 2021.Though I can’t confirm the dates quite yet, I’m now targeting July 2022. For details, check out my video here on the Macstock YouTube Channel.

Macstock Update 2021 and Beyond

ALL PREVIOUSLY PURCHASED TICKETS TO MACSTOCK 2020 WILL BE HONORED FOR THE NEXT IN-PERSON MACSTOCK CONFERENCE!

FEBRUARY 2021 UPDATE: Due to the ongoing global pandemic, Macstock has been officially postponed to a future date yet to be determined. Estimated future dates below have been modified to reflect this update.

ALL PREVIOUSLY PURCHASED TICKETS TO MACSTOCK 2020 WILL BE HONORED FOR THE NEXT IN-PERSON MACSTOCK CONFERENCE!

UPDATED: October 18, 2020 – Tentative Dates Temporarily Removed Until I Can Confirm Dates and Capacity Limits

This is a long one folks, but if you’ve been planning to coming to Macstock 2020, please read through to the end.

It seems so long ago now, but it’s only been a little over 4 weeks…TO THE DAY…since I launched the Early Bird Sale for Macstock 2020.

And it’s been just about 4 weeks since I posted the Macstock 2020 COVID-19 response page.

Since that time, I’ve received so many encouraging emails from folks who’ve registered for Macstock 2020 and told me how much they’re looking forward to a little bit of normalcy returning to our lives — and that Macstock 2020 was going to be their celebration of that return to that world.

It was that encouragement, plus the guidance of health officials locally, nationally, and internationally that have kept me cautiously optimistic throughout all this.

After all, it’s only been about 3 months since the start of 2020.

Which meant that, as of a week ago, there were still 4 months to go until Macstock weekend. Not even half-way to Macstock!

But with everything changing, quite literally, on a daily basis, it’s become increasingly harder to predict where things will be next week let alone July 25th.

So I made the determination about a week ago that I was going to set TWO Milestone Dates for Macstock 2020: April 25th and May 25th.

That’s 3 months and 2 months prior to Macstock weekend.

I figured one of three things would happen:

1) If things take a turn for the worse, then I will announce on April 25th that Macstock is postponed until next year.

2) If things look okay by April 25th, but aren’t markedly better by May 25th, then I’m postponing until next year.

3) If things ARE markedly better by May 25th, and I could assure a SAFE environment for Macstock’s attendees, then we might just be able to pull it off!

As the week wore on, it became increasingly obvious that none of those scenarios SHOULD play out. The decision needs to be made now.

So this is not the letter I planned to post today.

It’s the letter I have to post.

I can no longer simply look at the impact COVID-19 by itself will have on Macstock weekend, because even if the pandemic disappears tomorrow, next week, or next month, there are longer lasting side-effects on Macstock, it’s attendees, and our ability to come together for Macstock’s 6th year this July.

In the end, deciding to host Macstock in 2020 is about more than if the virus has run it’s course:

  • It’s about personal safety for you and your families.
  • It’s about financial stability for attendees, presenters and volunteers.
  • And it’s about doing the right thing for those who’ve entrusted me to bring everyone together each year in a safe, warm, and welcoming environment.

I want to assure everyone that Macstock is very personal for me and my family.

We’re a household of two small businesses, and bringing everyone together at Macstock by creating a fun, educational, community-focused atmosphere is a big part of what I do with mine from January through August each year. But we’re small businesses none-the-less and, like so, so, so many of you, this pandemic is hitting us hard. So Janet and I understand all-too-well the economic impact COVID-19 has had on everyone the world over.

But, in addition to that, I’ve PROMISED all who’ve written to inquire about Macstock’s status that I will do right by you.

So that’s what I’m doing.

As of today, Macstock 2020 is officially postponed to July 2021 (DATES TBD).

Read on for more details…

Coming Back BIGGER and BETTER!

Here’s what I’m going to do for everyone who purchased a ticket for Macstock 2020 (and those who haven’t yet):

  • I’m going to expand (the next) Macstock 2021 Weekend to THREE days so I can bring you even more of the amazing speakers who’ve submitted talks to me this year.
  • Everyone who already purchased a ticket to Macstock 2020 will have their ticket automatically transferred to (the next) Macstock 2021 and get those 3 days of Macstock 2021 at no additional charge. There is nothing you need to do for this to happen. If you purchased a ticket to Macstock 2020, this will automagically become a (future) Macstock 2021 ticket unless I hear otherwise from you.
  • To take it one step further, anyone who purchases a ticket to Macstock between now and July 26th, 2020 (the end of what would have been Macstock 2020 weekend) will attend (the next) Macstock 2021 at this year’s pricing!
  • Yes, the cost of a Macstock ticket will go up next year to account for that extra day, but not until after July 26th, so if you haven’t decided to join us yet, this is your chance to save really big on Macstock 2021!
  • Dates for (the next) Macstock 2021 will be finalized as soon as I can set them with the conference center, but I’m targeting Friday July 23rd – Sunday July 25th, 2021 (DATES TBD).
  • Finally, Macstock 2020’s refund window will be extended until further notice to allow for cancellations if you decide next year’s finalized timing doesn’t work for you.

I Still Want to “See” You in 2020!

In addition to “plussing” Macstock 2021 for everyone, I’ve been playing with ideas to strengthen the Macstock community for those days and weeks we’re not all gathering in the halls of the Luecht Conference Center, and I have a few things in mind that I’ll be announcing in the coming weeks.

Specifically, if you’re all up for it, I’d really like to do something the weekend of July 25th and/or 26th. Perhaps a free LIVE event?

Details are still very much crammed in this empty cavern of a skull I affectionately call my “head”, but as soon as I have some plans in place that I can share, THIS will be the best place to hear about them.

(I’m also open to suggestions!)

So that’s it for this time.

I can’t tell you how much it genuinely pains me to write this letter.

But it’s the right thing to do. And doing the right thing is the promise I’ve made to all of you.

PLEASE don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions, comments, concerns, ideas, or…just to say “Hi”. I will miss seeing you all. But even if we can’t see each other in person this year, we have next year to look forward to! It’s going to be a great one!

Stay safe. Be well. And thank you very much for your patience and understanding at this time.

See you at (the next) Macstock 2021!

Mike

Macstock and COVID-19

Current Status as of April 11, 2020: Macstock 2020 will be postponed to July 2021.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Macstock 2020 is officially postponed to July 2021. For more details, please see the following post:

https://macstockconferenceandexpo.com/macstock-news/important-update-macstock-2020-postponement/


April 5th Update: Milestone dates added.

There are two new “milestone” dates for Macstock 2020: April 25th and May 25th. These are new Major Go / No Go Dates for Macstock and represent 3 months and 2 months prior to Macstock 2020 Weekend.

With the rapid spread of COVID-19 abroad and here in the United States, I’ve been monitoring the situation very closely the past few weeks, watching what other conferences & events scheduled for this summer are doing, speaking with local health officials here in my area, as well as taking counsel from organizations such as the World Health Organization and the CDC.

At the moment, Macstock 2020 will be held as scheduled.

As news of the pandemic continues to change (seemingly on an hourly basis), so might the plans for Macstock 2020. Rest assured, I will continue to keep a very close eye on the situation, and I will act responsibly for the health and safety of everyone within the Macstock community.

This page will be updated as the situation evolves. Thank you all very much for your patience and understanding.

Mike

UPDATED 03/22/2020: added link to Resources for Large Community Events & Mass Gatherings

UPDATED 03/15/2020: added latest mass gathering guidance from the CDC

UPDATED 03/15/2020: added statement from Illinois Department of Public Health

 

Actions I’m Taking for Macstock 2020 in Response to COVID-19

  1. Making a “Go/No Go” decision each week as we get closer to Macstock 2020.
  2. Cap Macstock ticket sales at 60% capacity of the conference center, so Macstock attendees can spread out comfortably.
  3. “Permanent” Early Bird pricing so nobody is pressured into deciding to attend before they’re ready to.
  4. Limit number of attendees who can enter the breakout room to 50% capacity for deeper dive sessions.
  5. Working with our venue to reinforce best practice health and food handling protocols including frequent and proper hand washing.
  6. Establishing proper hygiene protocols for all volunteers and attendees.
  7. Providing all Macstock volunteers educational material on recognizing symptoms and preventive measures for COVID-19.
  8. Asking attendees and volunteers to stay home if they are sick, showing symptoms of possible illness, or have potentially been exposed to the virus within 2 weeks (14 days) of Macstock. For those who are/may be affected, providing options for transferring your ticket to Macstock 2021, donating/transferring your ticket to another attendee, or obtaining a refund.
  9. Working with McHenry County Department of Health, WHO, and CDC for guidance as we move closer to Macstock weekend.
  10. Developing a postponement plan for Macstock 2020.

UPDATES

03/22/2020: ADDED Resources for Large Community Events & Mass Gatherings

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/index.html

03/15/2020: Statement from Centers for Disease Control on Mass Gatherings

The CDC issued the following directive on Sunday, March 15th:

Guidance as of 3/15/2020

…in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

With two weeks left to go in March, all of April, and then half of May to hit the CDC’s 8 week mark, it looks like we’ll have yet another 8-10 weeks after this recommended cancellation period until Macstock 2020 Weekend. I’m hopeful, of course, the COVID-19 outbreak will weaken by the end of this 8 week recommendation period and we can run as planned.

If it becomes necessary to do so, I don’t want to make the postponement/cancellation of Macstock a last-minute scramble for anyone, so I will be watching developments and make a decision that will have the least impact on the Macstock Community.

03/15/2020: Statement from Illinois Department of Public Health

I received the following statement via email in response to my direct question regarding Macstock 2020:

In Illinois, all large-scale events exceeding 1,000 individuals must be cancelled until April 11. We are encouraging that community events of 250 or more be cancelled or postponed until May 1, including personal and social events. Citizens should consider this in their personal lives and consider refraining from attending events of this size if they are not cancelled or postponed. https://www2.illinois.gov/Pages/news-item.aspx?ReleaseID=21245

I consider this is a fluid statement and subject to change. Again, I will continue to seek guidance as we get closer to Macstock 2020.

 

Here are a Few Resources and Metrics I’ve Been Using

  1. Updates from the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC
  2. Organizations and Events within the US similar to Macstock (WordCamps, Local User Groups) that have canceled gatherings and events scheduled for late June and beyond.
  3. Local community recommendations, Macstock’s partners (conference center, hotels, and caterers), and, of course, the Macstock Community’s thoughts and sentiment.

Helpful Links and Resources

  1. Basic Protective Measures against the Coronavirus (via World Health Organization)
  2. How to Protect Yourself (via the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  3. Statement from Hilton on the Coronavirus (Hilton is the parent company of Macstock’s preferred partner hotel, the Hampton Inn of McHenry)
  4. Statement/Travel Advisory from IHG on the Coronavirus (IHG is the parent company of Holiday Inn, a partner hotel of Macstock 2020)
  5. Master List Of All Major International Airline Coronavirus Change And Cancellation Policies (continually updated – via Forbes)
  6. US airlines are waiving fees and canceling flights as coronavirus spreads (continually updated – via Vox)

Welcome to Macstock 2020: Early Bird Sale Underway

Are you still feeling the effects of the time change this past weekend? I sure am. But with Macstock’s 6th Anniversary coming up this summer, I’m thinking positively: I didn’t lose an hour early Sunday morning. With Leap Day just the week before, I gained 23!

So what did I do with those extra 23 hours? Well, I worked hard to finish up the Macstock 2020 website so I could finally announce that Macstock’s Early Bird Sale is officially underway!

And this is shaping up to be another great year for Macstock! Not only will this summer bring you our sixth year of talks by some incredibly talented presenters, but Macstock 2020 also marks six years of meeting up with old friends and making new ones. Six years of new experiences like the MyMac Game Show and the Macstock Short Film Fest. And six years of celebrating the Apple community that brings us all to Macstock each summer!

And if I may share a little teaser: there’s someone working hard on another celebration that will take place at Macstock this summer, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy on this one…at least for now. But it’s been 15 years in the making and I’m excited to bring it to Macstock’s stage on Saturday the 25th.

If you would like to join in the fun and community spirit of Macstock, then pick up your Macstock 2020 2-Day Weekend Pass during our Early Bird Sale for $70 off the regular price! But our Early Bird sale only lasts so long. If you’re planning to join us July 25 & 26, be sure to get your tickets and book your room today!