22 great iPhone/iPad apps for event professionals

App_Store

Two years have passed since the last update of my favorite iPad/iPhone apps for event professionals. Apps continue to be born, evolve, and, sometimes, die—so it’s time for my latest list of event professionals’ great apps!

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How to delete ALL mail messages from iPhone/iPad in one step

How to delete ALL mail messages from iPhone/iPad in one stepYes, there is a way to delete all your unwanted iPhone/iPad emails from the Mail app in one operation! No more left-swipe:tap Trash for every individual message. No more Edit: tap the single open circle next to every individual message and finally tapping Trash. And you don’t need to jail break your device.

If you leave your iDevice on for a few days and come back to find a few hundred messages on it that you’ve already downloaded elsewhere this trick will save you time and irritation. I didn’t discover the method—it’s far from obvious—but found it on one of many Apple discussion threads bemoaning this irritating hole in Mail functionality.

GOOD NEWS UPDATE [added October 3, 2015] IOS 9.0.2 finally displays a “Trash All” button after Edit is pressed! If your phone won’t handle 9.0.2, the following procedure is often successful; read the comments for a detailed description of hundreds of people’s successes and failures.

BAD NEWS UPDATE [added September 25, 2016] IOS 10 has removed the “Trash All” button. Who knows why? The procedure listed below (the original 2014 post) still works for many people.


It works! I present to you this great tip from shashbasharat found on MacRumors (slightly edited for clarity).

How to delete or move ALL emails at once in non-jail broken ipad or iphone
It took me weeks of research to figure out finally how to decode this yet another secretive secret of apple. There is a perfect way of deleting ALL emails at once without jailbreaking your iphone or ipad…and here it is:

  1. If any of your messages are marked as unread: Open Inbox >> Edit >> Mark All >> Mark As Read [added May 21, 2014 by Adrian; this extra step makes the difference between success & failure for some.]
  2. Open Inbox >> Edit  >> Check/select the top message; it will highlight the Move button.
  3. Press and hold the move button and, keeping your finger on the Move button, use another finger to uncheck the message that you had checked earlier.
  4. Lift all your fingers off from the iDevice screen and leave it alone. Wait until all your messages pile up on the right hand portion of the screen (in ipad); iphone will give you the actual number of emails it has selected for the action.
  5. Choose trash to delete all of them or any other folder where you want to move them. Remember this will replicate your action on the server so you will ACTUALLY move them or delete them on the server and not just the iDevice.
  6. After moving all messages to the trash you can leave them there for the scheduled cleaning or empty it right away. To empty immediately go to the trash folder and touch Edit. The Delete All button shows up at the bottom of the screen. Hit it! You’re done!
  7. If you do not see the effects of your actions on the server make sure you have enabled your email accounts for such actions.

Tips

  1. Allow enough time (could take several minutes depending the number of emails to be moved) for selecting the emails to move. Your screen may be unresponsive for a while. On an iPad you will see them zoomed out on the right hand side of the screen. On an iphone you will see a message showing you the actual number of messages selected.
  2. Avoid purging very large number of emails, the mail app might freeze or crash. If your inbox has thousands of emails change your sync settings to store less emails in your inbox.
  3. [Added Jul 20, 2014 by Adrian] Many people have reported needing to repeat the above procedure several times before it succeeds. (I too have found this to be necessary a few times on my iPhone but not on my iPad—go figure.) So my final tip is to repeat the procedure 3-4 times if the mail doesn’t disappear the first time. In my experience, if your messages disappear momentarily and then reappear, repeating the procedure will eventually make them stay deleted for good.

7 more great iPhone/iPad apps for event planners

App_StoreThree years have flown by since, excited by my immediate purchase of the original iPad, I shared 13 great iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch apps for event planners. I am still a big fan of five of these apps (Simplenote, DropBox, Square, Evernote, and GoodReader) while the remainder have been discontinued (WifiTrak and, sadly, TweetDeck), or superseded in my affections (Adobe Ideas, Beat the Traffic, Box.net, Instapaper, iTalk, and WeatherBug) by other apps.

My original iPad is now in my wife’s hands, and my Tumi Alpha man purse (je t’adore, read the reviews!) contains these days an AT&T iPad 3 (fits in the Tumi perfectly), a Verizon iPhone 5s, and a second generation iPod touch holding music and podcasts which, with the addition of an $8 SODIAL FM radio transmitter, I use solely to pump audio into my car radio as I drive.

It’s time for an app update. Here are seven more apps that I actively use and enthusiastically recommend to event planners:

BirdbrainBirdbrain ($2.99)
If you are active on Twitter (and I’d argue that most event planners should be) Birdbrain is a fantastic way to manage your Twitter network. The app provides an excellent overview and management of your followers and those you follow. Birdbrain handles multiple accounts, makes it easy to investigate anyone on Twitter, allows you to track unfollows as they occur, list people you’re following who don’t follow you, display mentions and retweets, and provides informative statistics showing changes in your Twitter stats over time. The only feature I’d like to see added is the ability to show inactive accounts you’re following. Recommended!

WazeWaze (free)
Waze is my favorite traffic and navigation app of the many that I’ve tried. Unlike traditional GPS units with traffic updates that I’ve often found to be woefully out of date, Waze uses information from its own users to detect traffic snarls and reroutes you on the fly when necessary to avoid that accident that happened up ahead five minutes ago or the rush hour traffic jam building up on the interstate you normally drive on to get home. Purchased recently by Google, my only concern is that the company will start using my location in nefarious ways. If I start seeing annoying ads promoting the tattoo parlor I’m passing by I’ll reconsider. Until then, this is an amazing app that has saved me hours of driving and frustration, and shown me countless new neighborhoods as I bypass traffic where other drivers sit fuming.

flywheelFlywheel (free app, $1 per trip surcharge)
Flywheel is my latest app love, recommended to me by my fashionable younger daughter when I was visiting her in San Francisco last month. Unlike Lyft, SideCar and Uber, Flywheel uses legal licensed taxi services to get you where you want to go. Currently, the app allows you to effortlessly hail cabs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Daytona Beach, Miami, Naples, Atlanta, Louisville, Lexington, Lansing, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Dallas, San Antonio, and Seattle (and they say more cities are on the way). Once you’ve set up an account tied to a credit card (this takes just a few minutes), hailing a cab requires just two taps on your phone. You can then view a constantly updating display of the time before the cab arrives (never more than a few minutes in my experience), watch the cab approach on a map, and talk directly to the driver if necessary. You have a couple of minutes to change your mind; if you cancel after that you’re charged a $6 fee. The service costs $1 per trip, and your desired tipping percentage is built into the app. You never need to give cash or a credit card to the driver.

All this beats stepping out into the street in the rain and waving frantically at a cab that blithely drives past you!

foursquareFoursquare (free)
Foursquare started as a game (be the mayor of places, win badges, and have more points than your friends) and a way to see where your friends are and what they’re doing. I live mostly in a rural area and, while I have occasionally discovered and met up with friends I didn’t know were near me, my main use of this service is to store a searchable history of where I’ve been. When did I drop off that luggage to be repaired? What was the name of that great place I ate dinner with Susie in Atlanta? When exactly was I in Anguilla in 2009? Foursquare’s history of my check-ins is often useful in unexpected ways. And, yes, I admit it, it’s fun to triumphantly win back the mayorship of my favorite local restaurant once in a while…

gateguruGateGuru (free)
GateGuru is an airport information app that was purchased by TripAdvisor in June 2013. While it attempts to replicate some of Tripit‘s functionality, I use it to scope out the places to eat (aka amenities) at airports. The traveler’s reviews, while sometimes spotty, usually allow you to pick out the best place to satisfy your current gustatory desires, and I’ve occasionally found a real gem tucked away on Concourse C that I’d otherwise have missed.

googlevoiceGoogle Voice (free app, most but not all services are free)
Google Voice has been around for years and has a bazillion options, many of which I don’t really understand. But that’s OK, because I find it very useful for two things: a) transferring calls made to my cell to my office phone when I’m at home where my cell phone doesn’t work (ah, the joys of living in rural Vermont) and b) texting. Now let’s be clear: I hate texting and refuse to pay the inflated rates that carriers charge for it on my cell phone, but sometimes it’s the only way to communicate with some people (especially my two younger kids). Google Voice to the rescue! I can text for free from my free Google Voice number, which works with strangers as long as I let them know in the message that it’s me, Adrian Segar, texting them.

Incidentally, though I haven’t yet used this feature, calls made using Google Voice from outside the U.S. to U.S. numbers cost just 1¢/minute; a pretty good rate!

opentableOpenTable (free)
OpenTable allows you to make free reservations at ~30,000 restaurants in the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the UK. No more phone calls to a restaurant only to get an answering machine, having to leave a message, and wondering whether you’ll get the reservation you wanted or not. The app works quickly and many reservations give you OpenTable points which can eventually be redeemed for a discount off your meal.

Well, these are some of my favorite apps that make it a little easier to travel, communicate, and eat while I’m on the road. What apps have I missed that are especially useful to event planners that you think should be added to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

“Dear Valued AT&T Customer”

weasel - coniferconifer - 4612194466_500ace216e_b

Just received this email from “AT&T Chief Privacy Officer” <IPAD.06132010.001563@econfirmation.att-mail.com>. It’s a good example of a weasel apology.

Dear Valued AT&T Customer,

Recently there was an issue that affected some of our customers with AT&T 3G service for iPad resulting in the release of their customer email addresses. I am writing to let you know that no other information was exposed and the matter has been resolved.  We apologize for the incident and any inconvenience it may have caused. Rest assured, you can continue to use your AT&T 3G service on your iPad with confidence.

Here’s some additional detail:

On June 7 we learned that unauthorized computer “hackers” maliciously exploited a function designed to make your iPad log-in process faster by pre-populating an AT&T authentication page with the email address you used to register your iPad for 3G service.  The self-described hackers wrote software code to randomly generate numbers that mimicked serial numbers of the AT&T SIM card for iPad – called the integrated circuit card identification (ICC-ID) – and repeatedly queried an AT&T web address.   When a number generated by the hackers matched an actual ICC-ID, the authentication page log-in screen was returned to the hackers with the email address associated with the ICC-ID already populated on the log-in screen.

The hackers deliberately went to great efforts with a random program to extract possible ICC-IDs and capture customer email addresses.  They then put together a list of these emails and distributed it for their own publicity.

As soon as we became aware of this situation, we took swift action to prevent any further unauthorized exposure of customer email addresses.  Within hours, AT&T disabled the mechanism that automatically populated the email address. Now, the authentication page log-in screen requires the user to enter both their email address and their password.

I want to assure you that the email address and ICC-ID were the only information that was accessible. Your password, account information, the contents of your email, and any other personal information were never at risk.  The hackers never had access to AT&T communications or data networks, or your iPad.  AT&T 3G service for other mobile devices was not affected.

While the attack was limited to email address and ICC-ID data, we encourage you to be alert to scams that could attempt to use this information to obtain other data or send you unwanted email. You can learn more about phishing by visiting the AT&T website.

AT&T takes your privacy seriously and does not tolerate unauthorized access to its customers’ information or company websites.   We will cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation of unauthorized system access and to prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law.

AT&T acted quickly to protect your information – and we promise to keep working around the clock to keep your information safe.  Thank you very much for your understanding, and for being an AT&T customer.

Sincerely,

Dorothys_signature

Dorothy Attwood
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Chief Privacy Officer for AT&T

Please do not reply to this email. This address is automated, unattended and cannot help with questions or requests.

© 2010 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T and the AT&T logo are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property.

Four comments:

  • Has AT&T has invented mind-reading software that can determine peoples’ intent? The email asserts that the people who obtained the email addresses and ICC-ID  “maliciously exploited” AT&T’s failure to secure private information, “deliberately went to great efforts”, and “distributed it for their own publicity”. Smearing people by assigning them ulterior motives for which you have no evidence is an old propaganda trick. It helps to deflect attention from your own culpability.
  • Speaking of culpability, AT&T apologizes “for the incident and any inconvenience it may have caused ” but not for their negligence in setting up a system that allowed public access to private information in the first place. Come on now, AT&T, you can do better than that. How about: “AT&T apologizes for the lapse in our security that allowed this information to be obtained”? That’s what a proper apology looks like.
  • AT&T provides no explanation as to the consequences of publicizing my ICC-ID. I don’t care about exposing my email address, since it’s already strewn all over the internet (though I can imagine that some people are not pleased that their email address was exposed). But I have no idea what the ramifications are of exposing my ICC-ID to all and sundry. What should I look out for? Telling me to “be alert to scams that could attempt to use this information to obtain other data” is useless pap.
  • We should judge people and organizations by what they do, not what they say. When what is said is at odds with what is done, trust is broken. I don’t expect perfection, but the fact that AT&T avoids admitting that they screwed up makes me skeptical that “AT&T takes your privacy seriously.” Or that I can “Rest assured, you can continue to use your AT&T 3G service on your iPad with confidence.” Well, AT&T, I’m not assured.

Frankly, receiving this email reduced my trust and opinion of AT&T. It would have been better for them if they had never sent it.

#fail.

13 great iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch apps for event planners

I’ve had my 3G iPad for two weeks, and it’s already changing how I work. And not just when I’m away from the Mac Mini and MacBook Pro in my office. Here are my current favorite iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch apps for an event professional, most of which are free. (Unless specifically mentioned, you can assume that all apps work on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.)

simplenote_largeSimplenote, free, premium version $8.99/year
I purchased Pages for the iPad but haven’t used it yet. I rarely need elaborately formatted documents. What I do need is a simple text editor that imports ASCII, RTF or HTML files, backs up my writing safely, and synchronizes it across my mobile and office computers.

That’s exactly what Simplenote, combined with copies of Notational Velocity (free, open source) on my office computers do. Anything I write in Simplenote on my iPad gets saved and backed up to the Internet cloud (on a free account at Simplenote). When I open Notational Velocity on an office computer, my notes there are synchronized. Similarly, any notes updated on my office machines are synchronized to the iPad when I open Simplenote. All communications are encrypted.

The premium version of Simplenote removes small ads that appear at the top of the Notes column, and adds automatic version backups (like Dropbox, see below) and a few other features. The ads aren’t intrusive, so I’m staying with the free version for now.

Both Simplenote and Notational Velocity offer blazing fast search and support thousands of notes.

For just pure writing, safely backed up and synchronized, you can’t beat the combination of these two free apps!

Dropbox_IconDropbox & Box.net, both free
What if you want to access other kinds of documents on your iPad? I’ve been using the wonderful Dropbox and handy Box.net for some time on my office Macs, and now there are iPad and iPhone clients for both.

Dropbox works very much like the Simplenote premium service described above when installed on Macintosh computers. All contents of the Dropbox folder on a computer (Macintosh, Linux or Windows) running Dropbox are automatically synced when new files or changes are detected. You don’t have to be continually online; all changes sync once your computer has an Internet connection again. You can create shared folders, allowing several people to collaborate on a set of files.

The free service gives you 2GB of space on Dropbox’s servers, which is plenty for me. A nice feature is that the server stores the last 30 days of versions of your files, so you can revert to an older version if needed. If you want more storage, you can pay $9.99/month for 50GB or $19.99 for 100GB, with these paid plans including the storage of unlimited older versions of your files.

The Dropbox app allows you to access your Dropbox files on your iPhone or iPad. Image, music, movie, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, HTML, and text file formats can be displayed by the app. <https://www.dropbox.com/help/80> Unlike the desktop versions of Dropbox, files are not stored automatically on a mobile device but are uploaded on request by marking them as Favorites.

Dropbox also includes a web interface to your files, so you can access them (and older versions) from any Internet connected computer.

While I was writing my book, I stored all my important files on Dropbox. It gave me great peace of mind to know that up-to-date versions of my book’s many files were being automatically saved remotely and on all my office computers.

box.net_iconBox.net supplies similar functionality to Dropbox, except that it doesn’t have a desktop client. The free Box.net service is limited to 1GB of web-storage and a rather paltry 25MB file size limit. Paid plans are available, but they are less generous than Dropbox’s. Since Dropbox added file sharing features I don’t use Box.net much, but it offers a simple way to provide sharing of files with others and another 1GB of free web-storage is not to be sniffed at. The mobile app makes it easy to share a file via email.

square-logoSquare, app free, card transaction fees extra
Square is a neat inexpensive way to easily accept card payments for small amounts (up to $60). On the iPad you can create lists of the items or services you sell. It took me just a few minutes to set up Square for selling my book three ways—paperback, ebook, or combo—at a presentation or trade show. When you sign up for the service, Square sends you a free card reader that plugs into your iPad or iPhone. You can also process cash sales and send receipts to a buyer’s email address. Square provides a complete downloadable record of all your sales.

Square charges reasonable card fees: 2.75% + $0.15 for a swiped card and 3.5% + $0.15 for a keyed-in card. These are the only charges for the service; there’s no monthly fee or minimum and no contract or merchant account required. This would be a great app for selling promotional items at events.

goodreader-logoGoodReader, $0.99
GoodReader is an inexpensive app that allows you to transfer large files to your mobile device, by Wifi or from an Internet cloud server, and reliably view them. Like the Dropbox viewer, it supports a wide range of file formats. Unlike other mobile file readers, GoodReader has no problem rapidly opening, displaying, and responsively scrolling through the 350-page ebook version of Conferences That Work and other large files I’ve thrown at it.

instapaper_logo1Instapaper, free, Pro version $4.99
Overwhelmed by cool articles on the web that you don’t have time to read right now, but don’t want to forget? Instapaper can help! Just set up a free account, add Instapaper’s <Read Later> bookmarklet to your browser’s toolbar and click it to save any webpage for later viewing. While you’re waiting for your car to be fixed, open the Instapaper app and browse an optimized text-version (nice) or the full graphics version of the pages you’ve saved.

The Pro version is optimized for the iPad, and adds some features I don’t need, but I’ve had no problem running the free iPhone version on my iPad.

TweetDeck_LogoTweetDeck, free
Until Twitter comes out with a free version of Tweetie (at which point I’ll reconsider) my favorite Twitter client for the iPad is Tweetdeck. It makes full use of the iPad screen, showing two columns in portrait and three in landscape mode. The URL shortener works reliably, though I miss the tweetshrink button available in the desktop version that’s useful when a tweet is just a few characters too long.

AdobeIdeasLogoAdobe Ideas, free, iPad only
Need to make a rough sketch? Give Adobe Ideas a whirl. What you draw is vector-based, so you can enlarge or reduce drawing elements with getting an attack of the jaggies. It’s easy to zoom the canvas too, so you can make it larger if your drawing gets more complicated than you originally expected. Separate drawing and photo layers allow you to annotate photos, which could be useful for adding notes to photos taken during a site visit. And a 50-level undo allows me to erase the frequent mistakes I make when I try and draw anything.

wifitrakWifiTrak, literally priceless!
On researching this useful app, which I purchased last year, I discovered that Apple, in March with very little explanation, removed all wifi access-point finders from the App store! (Luckily it is still available on my touch.) This is a shame, because the Wifi networks discovered by my iPod touch’s and iPad’s settings are only a subset of what these devices can actually connect to. WifiTrak is able to find useable access points that my iPod Touch otherwise does not see. I hope that this app will be restored to the Apps store so that you can take advantage of its superior performance.

beath_the_traffic_appBeat the Traffic (iPhone & Touch), Beat the Traffic HD (iPad), both free {No longer available as of September 2017}
What event professional doesn’t want to avoid backed up traffic while driving in town? This excellent app provides live traffic maps, showing traffic speeds and accidents in most major U.S. cities. It even includes live traffic cam feeds in places! A touch can only use the app if it’s connected by Wifi; not very practical while driving. I don’t recommend Beat the Traffic for solo use while driving, but a passenger can help you avoid traffic snarls, and the twenty minute future traffic prediction available on the iPad version can be quite helpful.

evernote_logoEvernote, free, Premium service $5/month or $45/year
Evernote is my go-to application for capturing information I want to be able to find in the future. I use it mainly for web pages, but it will file text notes, pdfs, spreadsheets, photos, voice memos, and screenshots too. Evernote clients are available for most mobile and desktop operating systems. Everything captured is made searchable—you can add your own tags if you like—and can be stored in specific categories (“notebooks”) if desired. The iPad version takes full advantage of the large screen. Your notes are stored on Evernote’s servers and locally and are synced to your mobile device and to Mac OS X and Windows computers running an Evernote client.

You can upload up to 40MB per month (with a maximum single note size of 25MB) using the free Evernote service, and this has always been adequate for me. The Premium service raises the upload maximum to 500MB/month with a maximum single note size of 50MB, and can store any kind of file.

iTalk logoiTalk Lite, free, not officially supported for the iPad but seems to work just fine
Want to record a conversation, a speech, or the amazing jazz quartet that’s playing at your event?
This useful app turns your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into a high-quality recording device that’s very easy to use. There’s a iTalk Premium version for $1.99 that omits small ads and doesn’t limit the size of a recording that can be emailed. The app includes iTalk Sync, which allows you to transfer your recordings to a desktop computer via Wifi. If you have a touch, you’ll need a microphone and I highly recommend the $25 Belkin TuneTalk Stereo which plugs in to the dock connector and provides amazing quality for such an inexpensive device.

WeatherBugLogoWeatherBug Elite for iPad, free
This is currently the best weather app I’ve found for the iPad. Everything is available from one well-designed screen: weather current conditions, forecasts, animated radar, temperature, windspeed and pressure maps, live weather cam images and more. There’s an iPhone/touch version that I haven’t tried. I downloaded the big kahuna app in this category, The Weather Channel, which looks gorgeous but crashes repeatedly on my iPad and doesn’t display animated maps correctly.

There they are, my favorite 13 apps for event professionals. Which apps do you like? Let us know in the comments, and feel free to disagree, suggest alternatives, and correct any errors that may have crept into this review!

One unexpected reason why I like my new iPad

3G apple-ipadEvery couple of weeks, in the free hour between my afternoon yoga class and evening men’s group, I head to the local library to work on my laptop.

Until yesterday.

Having just received a new 3G iPad, I left my heavy MacBook Pro behind and brought the iPad for its first test outside the office. I also brought Apple’s Keyboard Dock which combines a solid external keyboard with a convenient stand that holds the iPad upright. The combination was less than a quarter of the weight of my old laptop. Nice!

Here’s what surprised me while working at the library desk. The iPad, like the iPhone and iPod Touch, does one thing at a time. To switch apps you have to press the Home button, which suspends what you’re working on, and pick the next app. Writing an outline in Simplenote for an upcoming presentation and want to check your e-mail? Press Home, touch Mail, read mail, then press Home, touch Simplenote. Annoying, right? After all, any inexpensive netbook can run several programs at once and flip between them with a single mouse click.

Well, actually, I liked using the iPad better because I got more work done.

On the iPad, the app you’re currently using takes up the whole screen, so I wasn’t aware that more email or Tweets or stock price changes or new blog comments or <enter what distracts me here> had arrived. So I was able to concentrate on what I was working on. And the extra press/touch needed to switch apps acted as a small but significant disincentive to frequently multitask—so I stayed in my outline much longer than I would have done if I’d been using my laptop.

Yes, I admit it; I could use my laptop in exactly the same way if I was more disciplined. But, usually, I’m not. So this behavior of the iPad environment works for me in a situation when I want to stay focused on doing one thing.

I should be clear; the iPad isn’t going to be the optimum platform for all my work. When I’m moderating a chat, and need a Twitter client open plus multiple browser windows to research topics that surface, the iPad is not going to be my preferred computing platform (though dedicating it to one app during the session might well be useful). But my brief experiment confirmed that, for much of what I do away from the office, the iPad is a viable, and in one way superior, platform for getting things done.

Would using an iPad help you get things done better? Or would your life benefit more from the continuous availability of a multitasking computing environment?

Five lessons event planners can learn from the iPad launch

Seth Godin wrote a powerful post today—Secrets of the biggest selling launch ever—about why Apple sold 300,000 iPads on the first day. Here are five of his secrets that are 100% relevant to the fundamental challenges facing event planners today.

Seth Godin head

2. Don’t try to please everyone. There are countless people who don’t want one, haven’t heard of one or actively hate it. So what? (Please don’t gloss over this one just because it’s short. In fact, it’s the biggest challenge on this list).

Designing events so that they will appeal to the least adventurous attendee guarantees the same-old snooze-fest. Event planners need to aim higher and use innovative formats, even at the risk of jolting people who didn’t expect to be jolted.

3. Make a product worth talking about. Sounds obvious. If it’s so obvious, then why don’t the other big companies ship stuff like this? Most of them are paralyzed going to meetings where they sand off the rough edges.

How many events have you attended that you still remember years later? (Or a month later?) It’s possible to create events that are memorable. And the best ones are memorable not because they had great content or great presenters, but because wonderful, unexpected things happened there. We know how to create events like this: by using participant-driven approaches. But we are afraid to take the risk of trying event formats that are different. If we event planners won’t take the risk, who will?

6. Create a culture of wonder. Microsoft certainly has the engineers, the developers and the money to launch this. So why did they do the Zune instead? Because they never did the hard cultural work of creating the internal expectation that shipping products like this is possible and important.

Until we fully embrace the belief that it’s possible to successfully employ powerful interactive formats at our events, we’re going to be churning out more Zunes than iPads.

7. Be willing to fail. Bold bets succeed–and sometimes they don’t. Is that okay with you? Launching the iPad had to be even more frightening than launching a book…

Apple has been willing to make mistakes: the Lisa and the Newton come to mind. You can’t have great success without risking some failure.

Every time I facilitate an event I welcome the possibility of failure. Not the kind of failure where the event is a total bust—I’m not that far out on the edge—but the failure of a session’s process, or the discovery of a flaw in a new approach. And you know what? The new things I try that succeed more than outweigh the failures I experience. And, extra bonus, I get to learn from my mistakes!

So take some risks with your event designs. Have the courage of your convictions, trust your intuition and be willing to make mistakes.

9. Don’t give up so easy. Apple clearly a faced a technical dip in creating this product… they worked on it for more than a dozen years. Most people would have given up long ago.

I think we face a long hard road in changing peoples’ perceptions of what is possible at an event. It’s not easy to challenge hundreds of years of cultural history that have conditioned us to believe that we should learn and share in certain prescribed ways. But the rapid rise of the adoption of social media has shown that people want to be active participants in their interactions with others, and we need to change our event designs to satisfy this need when people meet face-to-face.

I’m willing to work on these issues over the long haul. Will you join me?

4 reasons why I pre-ordered an iPad

iPad presentation
I am not an early adopter of technology. My closest brush was to buy the original MacBook Pro three months after it was introduced in 2006. It’s still my current laptop.

So why, twenty-five years after I began work as an independent IT consultant who never subjected his clients to the bleeding edge, have I pre-ordered a 3G iPad that won’t even ship until late April?

  1. Apple got the finger interface right. Yes, the finger interface. Other tablets required styluses in addition to the ten fingers we were born with. Apple built an interface for the iPhone from the ground up that worked better with our fingers than anything else anyone has ever made. The iPhone/Touch offers amazing usability on a 3” x 2” display—an incredible feat. I can’t wait to see what is going to be possible on a screen with over five times more pixels. It’s going to be fantastic, I can tell you that.
  2. I can write on the iPad. My right thumb doesn’t bend the way it should any more, and doctors have told me investigative/corrective surgery’s not worth the risk. And I never learned to touch type. (If I had, forty-five years ago, I’d have had severe carpal tunnel syndrome by now.) Anyway, I can’t thumb type on any small screen device. And even if I could, I wouldn’t enjoy writing long blog posts and emails on one. The iPad gives me the best of both worlds; a large virtual keyboard on which I can hunt and peck for quick text entry and a proper keyboard I can plug in when needed.
  3. I can stop lugging around my laptop for 99% of my trips away from the office. My MacBook Pro is a 7 lb. beast. Yes, I chose it four years ago and I’m glad I did. I wrote my book on it wherever I went, and its large screen upped my productivity significantly. But the book is published and I don’t need that big screen any more. An iPad and keyboard weighs a third as much. The case doubles as a wedge that props up the screen. Nice! Using iWork and the dock connector, I may even be able to run presentations from it (though the resolution may not be high enough for fancy speaking engagements).
  4. Application development heaven. If I still developed software, I would be dreaming up applications to run on the iPad. In fact, I don’t like to think about what could be done with this device, because if I did I’d be tempted to ditch my Conferences That Work evangelism and delve into building a killer app for this platform. (I’d probably make a lot more money too.) Well, I’m not going to develop apps for the iPad, but a lot of people are. And they’re going to create a second cycle of revolutionary applications that are an order of magnitude more impressive than the thousands of significant apps that exist now. Am I sticking my predictive neck out here? I don’t think so.

These four reasons, together with Apple’s track-record (yes, I know it’s not perfect) for quality products, are quite enough to convince me to pre-order a unit, something I’ve never done before. By the end of this year, we’ll all know how this turns out.

There’s only one downside as far as I can see. My wife is under the impression that once I get my iPad I won’t need my iPod Touch any more. But honey, I will. We’ll work it out—her birthday is coming up. I’ll think of something…

What do you think about the iPad’s adoption? Do you agree with me that the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades? Or do you think I’m nuts?