MacHack Will Go On

The legendary Mac geek gathering will continue after Apple moves its developers conference to the week before.

Despite a looming conflict with Apple Computer Inc.s revamped conference schedule, the management company behind MacHack on Tuesday announced that the storied gathering of Macintosh programmers would go on.

Expotech of Grosse Point Park, Mich., announced that the 18th annual MacHack will run as originally scheduled, from June 19 to 21 in Dearborn, Mich., despite the fact that Apples Worldwide Developers Conference is now due to kick off two days later.

Apple last week announced that it was rescheduling WWDC from May to June. WWDC is now slated to run June 23 to 27 in San Francisco instead of in its traditional home in San Jose, Calif. Apple said it needed the extra five weeks to prepare a preview release of its next major Mac OS X upgrade, dubbed "Panther."

Carol Lynn, conference manager of Expotech, told eWEEK that while it was "too soon to really say," the change to the WWDC calendar hasnt yet prompted any cancellations by MacHack attendees or speakers. She said prospective attendees can obtain a penalty-free refund for their $525 registration if they put in a request before April 1.

While Apple developers have spoken at previous MacHacks, Lynn said no Apple staffers are officially attending this years gathering. She said that MacHack organizers were not apprised in advance about Apples WWDC plans—"I dont think anybody was"—and that she hasnt communicated with Apple since the announcement.

"Speakers, sessions, travel plans, people have had arrangements in place for months now," Dave Koziol, MacHack conference chairman, said in statement. "Our dates may make it difficult for some to attend both conferences, and we intend to work with them to find ways for them to continue to participate."

"What Apple says at the Worldwide Developer Conference is all nice theory, how things should work; what our sessions do is delve into how things do work. Sessions like these provide the return on investment for companies and individuals," Avi Drissman, MacHack Sessions chairman, said in the statement.

With its traditional launch at midnight Thursday; its range of technically savvy guest speakers from Apple and third-party developers; and its Hack Show, where programmers compete for the best Mac hack; MacHack has become legendary among Mac cognoscenti.

Among recent MacHack highlights: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak took to the stage in 1997 to criticize the companys purchase of NeXT Software, a move that returned Steve Jobs to the company and provided the basic technology for Mac OS X; Eric S. Raymond spent five hours preaching the gospel of open source to an opening-night crowd in 2000; and key members of the original Mac team reunited to field audience questions at the 2001 edition of the show.

In addition to MacHack, the changes to WWDC seem likely to impinge on Apples participation in Julys Macworld Expo/New York. Sources have reported that Apple will scale down its participation in that show after a dispute with show organizer IDG World Expo over the latters announcement that starting in July 2004, it will relocate the show to its Boston birthplace.

Sources said Apple CEO Steve Jobs may sit out his traditional Macworld Expo keynote appearance, and IDG is planning to rename the show to reflect its focus on the content-creation market. A spokeswoman at Framingham, Mass.-based IDG said the company hopes to announce its New York plans this week.

IDG World Expo Japan in December canceled Macworld Expo/Tokyo for 2003, citing lack of support by key exhibitors, apparently including Apple.

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