Last year, shortly after taking over the editor position at Macworld I asked you, the readers, to write to me if you had any ideas for improving Macworld. I gave you my email address, my iChat ID and my direct telephone number, and everybody thought I was crazy. Sure, I got a couple of er… odd emails. But most of the people that called, wrote and iChatted were really very helpful. It was a great opportunity to find out what Macworld readers are all about, and it helped me enormously to get to know you better. I’ve been here for almost ten years, so I’d like to think I have a good picture of Macworld readers by now, but it’s nice to actually be in contact with you.

After the success of that exercise I’ve decided to take it up a notch, and go where most editors fear to tread. I’d like to meet you all, face to face. Granted it might be difficult if you all showed up at once; 25,000 Macworld readers might resemble, well I’m not sure… Woodstock? Anyway, I had something more practical in mind - the UK Mac fan’s Woodstock - the MacExpo and Macworld Conference. We will have a big presence at the show this year, as it moves to a bigger venue at Olympia in west London.

This year marks a return to the venue for the UK Mac show. Though it has gone through many incarnations, there has always been some kind of Mac show in the UK. Initially it was held in Olympia, but in the late 1990s Apple and the rest of the market was on shaky ground. There was a dwindling number of vendors, and for that matter users, which meant the show became smaller and smaller each year. Eventually, the huge halls of Olympia dwarfed the show and it looked like the end for the UK Mac show.

Thankfully, it was bravely resurrected by its current custodians, in the Business Design Centre in Islington. So this return to Olympia is a triumphant one, and it promises to be the most successful show in quite a few years. Having outgrown the Business Design Centre, this year’s show has every chance of recreating the Mac boom years of the early 1990s at Olympia.

The Macworld Conference will be our biggest ever in the UK, with the likes of Emmy-award winning David Pogue, author of dozens of Missing Manual books, and Andy Ihnatko our back-page columnist holding seminars. I hope you are familiar with Andy, and I’m sure you’re dying to know, is he really like that? Yes he is, 24/7. Andy is the funniest super-geek you’ll ever meet. We also have Deke McClelland and Steve Caplin imparting their knowledge of Photoshop, which is frankly awesome. Martin Evening will be helping digital photographers get more from Photoshop and we also have Dan Logan, the design guru who is leading the redesign of Quark for its eagerly anticipated version 7 of QuarkXPress.

All these guys will be imparting their knowledge and wisdom in our conference, and I’m hoping to get some of them to join me on our stand from time to time too. On the stand this year, we will have a helpdesk where you can ask our Mac experts to solve your problems. You will get an experienced Mac guru to help you, it might be one of our reviewers, it might be me, or it could be David Pogue or Andy Ihnatko. Whoever you get, I think you’ll have a very good chance of getting your problem solved - if it is solvable.

In addition to my helpdesk duties, I also want to hear what you think of Macworld. You may need to make an appointment if I’m at the helpdesk, but if you catch me elsewhere just stop me and say hi. My only rules are please don’t butt in if I’m talking to somebody else, and if you happen to catch me while taking a comfort break, at least wait until I’ve washed my hands. Otherwise, it’s open season on editors. In fact while I’m feeling generous, if you see the editors of any other Mac magazines at the show, I’m sure they will be just as happy to get your feedback as I am.

Of course, I will try to help with any problems, but what I’d really like is to hear your ideas for improving the magazine - just to know what you want to read about, get help with, and the subjects that interest you helps us a lot. But don’t worry if you have something to say but can’t make it to the show. Macworld has recently embarked on a series of surveys that will take a more scientific approach to finding out what’s popular and what’s not. If you take a look on the contents page you’ll see a box offering the chance to win an Elgato EyeTV box. All you need to do is read this magazine, and spend ten minutes telling us what you think, and you’ll be entered for the draw.

This show is the highlight of the UK Mac calendar and people come for a number of reasons, but I can think of three main ones: people come to buy stuff, they come to learn stuff, and they come to get free stuff. Hopefully, we have already covered the buying stuff with our subscription offers - go on you know you deserve it. And with some of the greatest Mac minds on the planet at the Macworld Conference, plus some mere mortals like me at the Macworld stand, we should have the learning thing covered. So that just leaves the free stuff.

Well, I have big plans for the free stuff. I haven’t got the final tally on what we’ll be giving away just yet, but it will definitely include iPod nanos, Mac minis and much more.

As yet I don’t think we’ve figured out how we’ll be giving these things away - whether it will be a quiz, or a lottery. Perhaps we should have something like that Japanese Endurance show, where contestants are tortured for big money prizes. Just what would people do to win an iPod nano? Perhaps I should make sure we have enough ferrets on hand at the show...