Appearing in Magic Chicago

Next week I'll be performing in Magic Chicago, a show that each month showcases different magicians to create a full evening of magic, mystery and wonder.

I'm a guest performer for the show on Nov 5, 2008. (That's Wednesday, the day after election day. Come celebrate or escape your sorrow!) I'll be honored if you're able to make it. Showtime is 7:30PM.


My performance includes a magical reenactment of a bad nightmare, insight into just what I do every day, pontifications about Silicon Valley, a tribute to my first magic teacher, and the realization of a 34-year old dream.

It's at the City Lit theatre, in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. The theatre is inside the Edgewater Presbyterian Church. (1020 West Bryn Mawr). Tickets are $20 at the door or can be pre-ordered at the Magic Chicago website.

For more info, press clippings, and ticket ordering see the Magic Chicago website.

Presenting with iPhone

This week I'll be presenting at a magician's-only conference in Las Vegas. I'll be discussing how home automation techniques can be applied to conjuring and the creation of performance spaces.


This will be the first home automation presentation I've given at a non-technical conference, and the first time I'll be presenting without a laptop and Keynote. Instead, the slides for my session will be projected using my iPhone, thanks to the Apple Composite AV cable. I used the excellent templates from KeynotePro to create the presentation, which worked quite well for me, and I was impressed with the quality and variety of their templates. The Keynote presentation is exported to PNG files, which are then shown onscreen from a photo album.

Tinderbox Breakfast

A highlight of my current business trip was this morning's "Tinderbox Breakfast" meeting held at the Cypress Hotel in Cupertino, California. I'm writing this while waiting for my next flight, so while there is much to say I'll have to be brief. This unofficial (non-Eastgate) event was reminiscent of the Chicago Tinderbox Day I attended, and regardless of the duration or location, it's fun to share Tinderbox tips and stories over a good meal.

Stefan had some interesting ideas about using the big upcoming changes that Mark has been (appropriately) crowing about online, we compared notes about The Tinderbox Way, and generally enjoyed the company of those who appreciate this unique and fascinating tool.

Oh, and I recommend the pancakes.

Phlink listens in

It's great to see Phlink keep getting better with each release. If you're not familiar with it, it's what I like to call a "telephony erector set" for the Mac. If you can dream up a phone-based process or automation that you want to create, you can pretty much put it together using Phlink.

In Smart Home Hacks, Matt Bendicksen wrote about how to control your home from any phone in the world, with some simple glue between Indigo and Phlink. And that's just one example of the tools you can knit together with the product. If you at all enjoy tinkering, I can't imagine that you wouldn't have a blast.

Phlink 3.0 was just announced, and if you buy the current version now, you'll get a free upgrade to the latest when it ships in February. The new version lets Phlink automatically record all incoming and outgoing calls, and adds integration with EyeTV so you can call your Mac from the road and schedule a new television recording. A neat idea, to be sure, but I think some of the best Phlink-based solutions come from the user community; I can't wait to see what people cook up using the new version.

Hello, this is your Mac calling

One of the more interesting, niche applications to come out of MacWorld Expo 2006 is Parliant's PhoneHerald. It allows your Mac to automatically call someone, deliver a message, and record or otherwise handle their response. For example, if you're the secretary for a large community service group, you might use it to gather RSVPs for an upcoming party. At the end of the day, you'll know exactly who has responded, who wasn't reached, and how many party hats you should buy.

PhoneHerald lets you piece together messages from pre-recorded snippets (voice, music, etc) and text files that are read over the phone using text-to-speech. (I know what you're thinking, based on the demo video, the quality sounds OK.) It does all of its work in the background, freeing you to use your Mac (but not your phone, of course) for other things.

Having a product like this for the Mac is good news, Parliant's Phone Valet is reliable and easy to use, and I'm guessing that PhoneHerald will be, too. This type of product seems to be quite popular for some businesses, particularly schools and pharmacies. (Which I know because I get at least one automated, personalized phone call a week from both of these sources. Unfortunately, they're calling for the previous owner of my phone number, but that's a whole 'nother story.)