Cannot Wait for Angry Birds Rio!

We here at the Probst residence are extremely addicted to Angry Birds. I’m talking five completely out of control cases of Angry Birds fever! Well, it would be an understatement to say that all five of us are very excited to get our hands on Angry Birds Rio in March. Check out the trailer below. If the game is half as good as the trailer, we’re all in for a treat.

Vonage: Facebook’s Phone Company

With the release of the Vonage Mobile App for Facebook, it appears Vonage is attempting to become the mobile phone company for all of those Facebook users out there with iOS-based and Android OS-based devices.

The solution is incredibly easy from a user’s perspective. All it takes is a free download from the App Store or Android Market to get the app. Once installed, the app asks you to connect to Facebook, and that is really all there is to it. The app displays a list of other Vonage Mobile App for Facebook users who you can call for free over Wi-Fi and cellular networks as well as a list of your Facebook friends that are available via Chat.

Tapping into the enormous Facebook user base is a smart move for Vonage. Let’s face it, the company advertises like crazy, but if it can provide a quality service for a massive user base like Facebook, perhaps it can convince some people to switch their home phone over to Vonage as well. The key here will be to get the non-geeks to actually give the app a try. If that happens, I see good things coming Vonage’s way.

Blogging from 36,000 Feet

When I first started blogging, never did I imagine that I would be writing posts on an iPod while connected to the Internet on a plane at 36,000 feet, but that is exactly what I am doing. Thanks to Gogo Inflight Internet, I have been able to spend my flight getting caught up with email and chatting with my wife on my way home from a business trip. Now that is truly an incredible thing. Gogo seems to be quite fast, and I have even been able to watch YouTube videos posted on Facebook. The price is really not all that bad at less than $8.00/day, but I cannot say for sure if I would have spent the money if I had not been on a per diem for my trip. Future flights without Wi-Fi will seem so lame now that I have experienced being connected while flying. If your next flight offers Wi-Fi, give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

Dell’s Windows 7 Support Fails

Although I would love for our home to be a Mac-only home, the reality is that we bought a Dell laptop two and a half years ago so my wife could go to school and use the software she needed for her program. The laptop in question is an Inspiron E1505 with a fast Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a dedicated ATI graphics card. It came with Vista Home Premium which had been nothing but trouble since day one.

So, when reviews of Windows 7 started coming in and were positive, I was excited to finally rid our lives of Vista so my wife could have a more stable computer to do her photo editing. I figured that the computer more than met the requirements of Windows 7, and it couldn’t really get much worse.

Only one problem. Apparently, Dell feels our computer is obsolete already. Here is Dell’s list of computers that have compatible drivers for Windows 7. I especially like their suggestion of buying a new computer if your computer is not on their list.

So, if I’m reading this list correctly, Dell sold a computer to me two and a half years ago that is not officially supported by them on only the first Windows release since I bought the computer. This is just shocking to me. It’s not like I bought a piece of crap computer for $600 that I wouldn’t expect to last more than a year or two. I bought a computer that has enough horsepower to last.

The fact is that the computer more than meets the minimum requirements of Windows 7, and Microsoft’s utilities think the computer is ready to go for the new operating system. Needless to say, I have installed Windows 7 on the computer using the drivers that ship with the operating system. Microsoft even had a couple driver updates for some of the components available after the completion of the installation.

I am incredibly disappointed in Dell for not updating their drivers for all of their shipped computers that meet the minimum requirements of Windows 7. All PC makers should be required to maintain their drivers until the requirements of Windows exceeds the abilities of their computers as they were shipped. There is no other approach that makes sense.

So, Did I Switch to MobileMe?

Well, dear readers, I promised to get back to you and let you know if I ever made the switch from Google Gmail and Google Calendar to the MobileMe suite, and now that it’s been a year, I figure I better let you know what happened.

Well, this is pretty simple folks. MobileMe has done absolutely nothing to convince me to transition from the Google application suite. MobileMe kind of reminds me of plain vanilla ice cream. Not the kind made with natural vanilla but the kind that has a yellowish tint made from imitation vanilla. It seems that at some point, my expectations for web applications has gone well beyond the customer that Apple is aiming to please.

It seems that Google is on the other end of the spectrum. It constantly works to improve its applications and produces impressive web applications using the latest technologies. That’s not to say that Apple isn’t doing the same with MobileMe, but the functionality that Apple produces is so simplified that it seems like something that was introduced five years ago. I’m sure there is a market for that type of thing, but it’s not a market I fit in anymore.

So, why am I sticking with Google? Well, it’s all about innovation and it’s all about standards. As I said before, Google seems to constantly improve its mail, contacts, and calendar programs. It is a leader in providing communications solutions like Google Talk and Google Voice. It is constantly on the cutting edge.

What’s even more interesting is that Google supports industry standards so thoroughly. Want to use any modern email program to access your Gmail account? No problem, Google has you covered with POP and IMAP. Want to use a modern calendar application to access your Google Calendar? No problem, Google has you covered with CalDAV.

Needless to say, I am still in the Google camp, and I am deeply entrenched at this point. Gmail (including chat), Google Calendar, Google Voice, Google Docs, YouTube, etc. It is going to take something so magical and so game changing to claw me away from Google that only one company on the planet has the ability to pull it off.

Come on Apple, MobileMe is not nearly good enough. Impress me! Convince me that you have the creativity and ability to produce something so game changing yet so right that everyone will want to use your web applications. You’ve clearly done it with the iPhone. Now do it one the web.

Probstisms Now Supports Facebook Connect

I am very excited to announce that Probstisms now supports Facebook Connect through the Disqus comment system. This means that when you write a comment on Probstisms, you can log in using your Facebook account. Not only will the comment appear on Probstisms, it will also appear in your Facebook news feed. Disqus has indicated that we can expect more great Facebook integration in the future.

Happy commenting everybody!

Why I Can’t Wait to Get My Hands on iLife ’09

On Tuesday, Apple announced the next version of their iLife suite. I have been using iLife since the very first version and have faithfully upgraded with the availability of each new version. While each version has had its own nice new enhancements, I am drawn to this newest iteration more than its predecessors.

What is so special about iLife ’09? Well, let’s start with iPhoto. The features that interest me the most are Faces and Online Sharing. Apple has included face detection and face recognition functionality in iPhoto for the first time, and I could not be more excited. Almost all of our photos are of our kids or friends and family, and I spend a significant amount of time tagging and categorizing our photos by person. The Faces feature will make it so much easier for me to manage out photos that I might actually be able to post new photos before they’re old and dated.

Going along with the Faces feature is the new ability to share photos on Flickr and Facebook directly from iPhoto. I have been using FlickrExport from Connected Flow for quite some time, and it is a great iPhoto plugin, but I am excited to see Apple embracing online sharing sites other than its own MobileMe. Both Flickr and Facebook offer APIs that Apple has been able to use (I assume), and it also appears that Apple has worked directly with both of these companies because the functionality seems to go beyond functionality created by other companies. As a Flickr and Facebook user, I am excited to try the new integration with iPhoto. I have avoided posting any photos on Facebook because I already use Flickr, but now I should be able to share the same iPhoto albums or events in Flickr and Facebook with a click or two. What’s really cool is that the Faces feature in iPhoto works with the tag feature in Facebook. Cool stuff.

I am also excited to give the new GarageBand a shot. With the new MacBook, I will finally be able to connect our Roland digital piano to a Mac via MIDI to see what kind of music I can create. It should be fun to see what I can do. It’s been a long time, but I’m sure it will all come back to me. The piano and guitar lessons will help me along, I’m sure. Plus, how cool will it be to learn Roxanne from Sting and Proud Mary from John Fogerty? I’ll post anything cool I come up with.

Once I get my hands on iLife ’09, I will report back and let you know if it lives up to my expectations. Based on what I saw in the keynote, it certainly looks like an upgrade that everyone will find useful.

Taking Over the iPhone

So, I managed to talk my wife into letting me take her iPhone with me to the kids’ swimming lessons. I thought I would try out the WordPress app to see how well it works. I have to say that it is very impressive. What is even more impressive is the iPhone’s spelling checker. I haven’t been able to fool it yet with my fat thumbs. I guess I need to step up my attempts to get my company to switch from BlackBerry to iPhone. 🙂

Apple’s Finally Talking about MobileMe

I have a lot more to say about MobileMe than this post, but that will need to wait for when I have more time. For those of you going through the pain of the .Mac to MobileMe transition, Apple is finally providing status updates to let us know how everything is going. There’s only one post so far so it is yet to be seen how much they’re actually going to tell us, but this is a step in the right direction.