When a security guard stopped Glenn Fleishman from going back up the escalator for a news briefing with Apple last week, he knew this wasn't...

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When a security guard stopped Glenn Fleishman from going back up the escalator for a news briefing with Apple last week, he knew this wasn’t Macworld Expo.

Instead, Glenn, who writes the Practical Mac column in our Personal Technology section, was at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), a five-day conference held by Apple in San Francisco for a sold-out crowd of 5,400 programmers and designers who create software for the Mac OS X and, of intense interest last week, the iPhone platforms.

Unlike the Macworld event, at which media receive special badges with their names, WWDC handed out clip-on media tags.

And where Macworld allows pretty much full access to the trade show and buildings, WWDC is more restrictive, including nondisclosure agreements that ban discussion of tips, tricks and advance looks at hundreds of sessions outside of the keynote address — think Steve Jobs — the first day.

When stopped by the guard, Glenn called an Apple contact about getting back upstairs, who apologized and sent down a fresh-faced college intern to escort him. (The intern was later tasked with the exciting job of escorting him back down to the first-floor restroom facilities before he was seen out of the building. He was allowed to enter alone, however.)

“Apple stage manages every last thing they can,” Glenn wrote. “When my briefing finally happened, over an hour after the scheduled time, I was again escorted, this time down a quarter-mile hallway to a draped room.”

Other briefings are conducted in larger screened areas with sofas and expansive views.

“Yes, Apple tries to bring iPod polish and iPhone pizazz even to the press briefing rooms, along with an iron grip of control,” Glenn said. “And, as usual, they succeeded on both counts.”

Spotting a leopard

Of course, WWDC had more than the marquee event — Jobs’ unveiling of the iPhone 3G.

Playing to its developer audience, Apple revealed Snow Leopard, its name for Mac OS X 10.6.

Here’s Glenn’s report:

“Snow Leopard will have essentially nothing new for users that they can put their finger on. It’s all on the back end, the stuff that underlies what we do.

“Apple’s brief statement on Snow Leopard — its name even an indication that it hangs off the current Leopard release — is that they’re putting a pause on new features in favor of performance.

“Apple says Snow Leopard will be available in about a year. That alone makes it clear how much of the company has been devoted to the iPhone and its operating system, which has the same roots as the full-blown Mac OS X.”

Look! No hands

Here at Download Central, we can feel our hands beginning to be strangely repelled by cellphones. By July 1, we suspect, the break will be total.

That’s the day Washington state’s hands-free law goes into effect, a law that requires the use of hands-free means to phone calls while driving.

Not that we couldn’t already tell by the rapid increase in the number of product pitches for Bluetooth and other devices we’ve received by phone or e-mail over the past several weeks.

Plantronics, a leading headset maker based in Santa Cruz, Calif., even has a Web site (www.plantronics.com/handsfree) devoted to helping drivers “prepare for hands-free laws.”

It’s a marketing site, naturally, with products mixed with information about the laws.

No doubt Plantronics — and other device makers — have a good amount riding on the changes.

On the record

Acquisitions: Vertafore, of Bothell, a maker of software and services for the insurance industry, has signed an agreement to acquire Sircon, based in Okemos, Mich.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com.