Sirius’ XM Acquisition

For a really long time, I was very anti-Satellite radio. Why pay for something when you can get it for free? I just couldn’t understand why somebody would do such a thing!

When the head unit in my car stereo went out on my old car, I thought about upgrading to an HD Radio unit but couldn’t justify the cost of it … so I went with an HD Radio-ready unit just in case I wanted to upgrade. Luckily for me, only a few months later I bought a new car that had Sirius Satellite Radio pre-installed. At first, I was still kind of iffy on it, and being from Chicago, I had my favorite radio station, The Mix … and when I don’t have my Sirius, I definitely turn them on, but they had been doing this stupid social experiment, and that’s when I turned off over-the-air radio for good.

The choices that Sirius (and I’m going to be Sirius heavy here because I have never subscribed/used XM Radio) offers are amazing. Mainly, I listen to the music and talk stations as my two main staples. There’s a wide variety of point of views, from liberal left to radical right … and they seem to get along. Even the gay/lesbian station invites Fr. Dave from the Catholic channel on from time to time.

And for a number of months, there has been talk about an acquisition of XM by Sirius. Personally, I’m in support of the merger. While I’m not a share holder and therefore don’t have any say in the matter, CNN reports that shareholders of both have approved the acquisition to continue. Now, the only thing that can stand in the way is the U.S. Government … hopefully, it won’t be too bumpy for the two, but who knows. We’ll definitely see how it will play out.

I am very excited to see the combination of resources to focus on programming choice and flexibility of subscriptions rather than competition and customer retainment. From the same CNN article, it appears as if there has already been some preliminary discussion of the future choices that may be offered. You have Sirius, here, for a little more, pick some of XM and vice versa. Personally, I can’t see this going on for too long before they’re merged into one force. Why maintain two separate staffs, etc … But for my two cents, as little as they’re worth, I’m glad to see the acquisition move onto the next step. I know that Sirius has made a committed customer out of me (for now), so let’s see the service only get better!

Editor’s Note: Greg Probst is the author of Blue Sleeves Blog and is a regular contributor to Probstisms.

A New Probst on Probstisms

Today is a great day for Probstisms. I am very excited to announce that my brother, Greg, will soon be contributing content to the site. Like his big brother, Greg is a Mac guy and is into all of the latest and greatest gadgets from Apple and other companies. A love of music also seems to run in our family. Greg is almost nine years my junior so he will bring a younger perspective to Probstisms.

I look forward having Greg’s posts published here on Probstisms, and I think you’ll enjoy them too.

Welcome Greg!

Some New (Old) Posts

Some time ago, I wrote three blog posts as part of an application to join the blogging crew over at TUAW. Having not heard from them since I sent the application, I figure that it is time to make those posts public on Probstisms. All of the posts have been back dated to when they were written.

The first post is about the iPod halo effect.

The second post is about the Apple/Starbucks partnership.

The third post is a review of Google Docs from a Mac user’s perspective.

I felt pretty good about the posts at the time, and I hope you enjoy them too.

The Leopard Backlash

As my good friend, Scott Driza, so eloquently pointed out on his blog, Hobbub.com, there has been some negative press coming out about Apple’s latest operating system release, Mac OS X Leopard. While I haven’t had a chance to install Leopard on my own Mac, I find it incredibly difficult to believe some of the claims coming from historically pro-PC web sites and magazines. As far as I’m concerned, Walt Mossberg and David Pogue have given Leopard their seal of approval, and that’s good enough for me. Both of those guys know their stuff when it comes to the Mac so I trust and respect their opinion. While I also have respect for magazines like eWeek, I know that they are relatively new to the Mac scene so I take a lot of what they say with a grain of salt. I know their experience is mainly with Windows, and that’s cool because I use Windows at work and like to keep up with what is going on in that world too. Anyway, I have a feeling a lot of the negative comments about Leopard are being a bit overblown now that Apple is in the mainstream spotlight, and really, that’s a good thing because it will only make Apple work harder to make their products that much better, and that must really have their competition shaking in their boots. Many of Apple’s products are already industry standards for quality so just imagine the products they will introduce thanks to the increased coverage and pressure from the mainstream press and Wall Street.

For those of you that want to get the scoop on everything going on in the Mac world, I would suggest Macworld, TUAW, MacRumors, and AppleInsider.

Still No IMAP Love!

Google GmailLast Wednesday, Google announced the long awaited availability of IMAP for Gmail. Gmail has had POP access for quite some time, but POP just doesn’t cut it when you want to access your email from more than one device.

Now, I know some of you are thinking I should just access Gmail over the web, and you would have a pretty good point, but what happens when I’m 35,000 feet in the air or some other place where there is no Wi-Fi or cellular system? I want to use Apple’s Mail application with Gmail. I want to use Outlook with Gmail. I want to use my BlackBerry’s message application with Gmail. Basically, I want IMAP for my Gmail account. It’s been five days since the announcement, and I’m still waiting. Come on Google, hook me up.

A Fresh Start For An Eight Year Old Power Mac

The Mac OS X Leopard launch this weekend got me thinking about how I could get more out of my good ol’ Power Mac G4. I didn’t buy Leopard because I’m waiting to hear how it runs on G4 processors. Based on my experience with iLife ’08, Apple is clearly not optimizing applications for the G4 and its Velocity Engine anymore. Take iMovie ’08 for example. iMovie ’06 runs like a champ on my computer. I find it very difficult to believe that iMovie ’08 could not have been optimized to run on a G4. It does not make any sense to me. The performance of iPhoto ’08 is also a bit suspect on my Mac especially compared to the last version. Anyway, that’s a whole other topic.

The Leopard launch convinced me that it was time to give my Mac a fresh start. My hard drive was approaching capacity, and the performance of the machine was definitely starting to slow down a bit. To give a little background, the machine still had Classic (Mac OS 9) on it. It also had every file I had created in the last eight years. I’ll be the first to admit that a fresh OS install was way overdue.

With my internal 120 GB hard drive and 250 GB FireWire hard drive both almost full, I had a bit of a dilemma. It was time for another external drive so off to Costco I went. With a new 500 GB FireWire hard drive in hand, I was now ready to implement my master plan. The first step was to do a full backup onto my new hard drive. Once that was finished, I broke out my Mac OS X Tiger disk and did a nice fresh installation for the first time since who knows when. I have decided that my internal hard drive will be used almost strictly for applications. With over 140 GB of photos, music, and videos, I don’t want to keep my media files on the internal drive. I plan to use the 250 GB FireWire drive for my iLife media files. The drive will be a little over half full when I move all of my files over so I will have room to grow. That will leave the 500 GB FireWire drive to backup every file on my other two drives. That will give me plenty of room not only for a full backup but also incremental backups for the foreseeable future.

With my new setup in place, I feel like my Mac (barring anything catastrophic) should last for quite some time. I can see using this machine for at least another couple years. Now, don’t get me wrong; I would love a new iMac, but my Power Mac seems to be a lot more responsive so I am happy to keep on using it.

Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard World Premiere

Kyah Thinking Different

Being the good Apple soldier, I was one of those guys standing in a line in a mall hallway waiting for the Apple Store to reopen for the Leopard World Premiere. As I mentioned earlier, I even took my daughter (see very old, but cool picture above) to join in the festivities. It wasn’t until we got in line that she realized we weren’t going to an apple store; we were going to the Apple Store. It didn’t take her long to get into the excitement surrounding the event. The people in line were so fun and happy that it was hard not to get sucked into the moment. The Apple Store employees made it a lot of fun too by doing a count down and taking pictures and videos when people were finally allowed in the store.

Once the store opened, the line moved very fast. This was nothing like the time my brother, Greg, and I stood in line for hours just to see what the Chicago Michigan Avenue store looked like. We got into the store in plenty of time to get a t-shirt (yes, I have yet another Apple t-shirt now). The atmosphere in the store was electric. Judging by some of the questions I heard while walking around, I could tell many of the people were new to the Mac. Perhaps they were drawn in by the large line of people. With that many people, surely something incredible must be going on, right?

I do have to say that Leopard ran very well on the demonstration machines in the store. Of course, these are the latest and greatest Macs. It better run well on these machines. Quick Look was very cool, and Spaces turned out to be a lot cooler than I thought it would be. The new version of Mail looked very good. It makes me wish I could use a Mac as my regular every day work computer. Overall, the OS seemed to be very responsive and polished. I expected nothing less of Apple, though.

On top of everything going on with Leopard last night, something else grabbed my attention in the store. Obviously, most people outside of the Reality Distortion Field are drawn to the iPods and iPhone. I watched many people first gravitate to the tables with those devices. They clearly were not Mac users. In fact, one woman called the Apple Store the iPhone Store. Something cool happened with these people when they were done playing with all of the latest iPods; they started playing with the Macs! I think a lot of homes will have shiny new Macs this holiday season. Let’s hope this is a trend that makes its way into the business world too. With so many corporate applications now using web-based technologies, there is no reason a major corporation could not use Macs as their desktop solution. No reason at all. Sure, they may need to use Windows on the server side if they use ASP.NET, but if they use PHP, they could even have Macs on the server side. It’s all starting to come together.

On a personal note, something else really cool happened at the Apple Store last night. I watched first hand as my daughter officially got sucked into the Reality Distortion Field. First she played at the kids table with all of the cool applications for kids her age. Then she found the iPod nano. We were at the iPod table the rest of the night. She instantly figured out how to use it without any instruction from me. That says a lot about the iPod interface. She had a little more difficulty with the iPhone interface. You hear that, Apple?

We had a lot of fun at the Leopard World Premiere last night. Kyah is now an Apple evangelist, I talked a lady into buying an iPod touch for her kid, and we had some really good father-daughter time. I didn’t buy Leopard last night because I’m not convinced my old Power Mac G4 will be able to handle all of the cool features that are important to me. I would love to have it, though, so we’ll see what happens when 10.5.1 comes out.

Today’s The Big Day!

Mac OS X Leopard

That’s right, folks. Today is the day Apple releases Leopard into the wild! I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping to make my way over to my local Apple Store to geek out a bit and experience Leopard first hand. I may even take my eight year old daughter to get her sucked into the Reality Distortion Field at a nice early age. If you’re interested in participating in the Leopard launch, visit Apple’s web site to find the Apple Retail Store closest to you.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog is doing a great series of posts called 24 Hours of Leopard. The TUAW bloggers are examining the features in Leopard that interest them most. If you want to know about the latest and greatest version of Mac OS X, head on over to TUAW.

Can’t Wait to Catch That Leopard!

I finally had a chance to watch the Mac OS X Leopard Guided Tour over the weekend, and it looks awesome! There were many features presented in the tour that will most likely change the way people use their Macs. Here are some of the new features that I’m excited about.

Stacks

Stacks is a new Dock feature that allows users to quickly and easily view folder contents directly from the Dock. I see this as a great way to group files that need to be accessed often. As presented in the tour, it also makes a lot of sense to have a Stack for downloads so you can easily get to the most recently downloaded files without cluttering your desktop. Although it may take a little while for people to change their habits to take full advantage of Stacks, it will be a feature that people will really appreciate.

Quick Look

Quick Look is a new view within the Finder that allows users to preview certain types of files directly in the Finder. When you have several files in a folder that have similar names, Quick Look will make it very easy to find the right file. My only concern about this feature is that it may perform slowly on my poor old Power Mac G4. If the performance is good, I look forward to using this new feature to find my files.

Time Machine

Time Machine is the new backup feature built right in to the operating system. This one feature alone gives me enough reason to upgrade to Leopard. Having a solid backup routine is so important, and most people don’t do it because it is so confusing or time consuming to do correctly. Time Machine takes all of the guess work out of backup by performing hourly backups in the background. I think people will appreciate this new feature more than anything else included in Leopard especially when they go through a drive failure. As they say, it’s not if a drive will fail, it is when.

Mail

I really like the new version of Mail. For new users, the smart setup utility will make it incredibly easy to add new mail accounts. For services like Gmail, Yahoo, and .Mac, all you need to know is your email address and password to set up the account in Mail. This is a huge step forward for the less technically inclined out there. The new Notes and To Do features will make it easier to keep track of those types of things without having to send emails to yourself. I do this constantly so I know I will use this feature. The new Stationary templates also look really nice for the times when you want to add a little something extra to emails.

One thing that concerns me is that these cool new features will not make it into the .Mac web interface. As far as I am concerned, all features that are available in the desktop client should also be available in the web interface. If there is not a huge .Mac update on Friday, I will be very disappointed.

iChat

The new version of iChat looks fantastic! Sharing iPhoto Events and Keynote Presentations directly in iChat will make it possible to have very interactive online video meetings. It also looks like any file type supported by Quick Look can also be shared in iChat.

The new Backdrops will be really fun to use. Instead of showing the world my mess of an office, I can show cool patterns or even images. I will use this feature a lot!

Finally, Screen Sharing will make it insanely easy to collaborate with others online. I see this as a great way to work with others on projects as well as provide technical support to my family. I hope my Mac has enough horsepower to make all of these features work.

Leopard looks to be a very significant update to Mac OS X that will keep Apple at the forefront of operating system design. Thanks to Apple’s release schedule, it’s like getting a brand new Mac every year or so. This time, though, we may actually have to get a new Mac to take advantage of all of these cool new features. Damn you Apple for making me want to spend more money! 🙂