The iPhone Invasion Begins!

As I mentioned yesterday, Apple seemed poised to launch the iPhone in the UK, and Apple did not disappoint. Steve Jobs was in London for the special Apple event and announced that Apple would be partnering with O2 to release the iPhone in the UK. One cool thing for O2 customers is that they’ll be able to connect to the Internet for free via Wi-Fi at The Cloud hotspots. This is something Apple and AT&T should have done in the US as well, and hopefully they will soon. Free Wi-Fi is a huge bonus for customers. All of those T-Mobile Hotspots in Starbucks stores and airports would be a nice place to start. 🙂

Jobs in London for Apple Event

In about four hours, Steve Jobs will take the stage in London for Apple’s special event at the Apple Store on Regent Street. The store is considered Apple’s flagship store for Europe and is a great place for an event. Now that there have been sightings of Jobso in London, this event is sure to be significant. The safe bet is on the official launch of the iPhone in the UK and maybe other European countries. I’m still hoping for a Beatles announcement, but that might just be asking for too much. Now the only question is do I want to get up at 4:00 AM to catch the coverage, or do I just get up at my normal time and have a nice surprise waiting for me?

Holy Cow, It’s Ronnie Woo Woo!

Holy Cow, It’s Ronnie Woo Woo!

Believe it or not, we ran into Ronnie Woo Woo at the Cubs game on Sunday. What’s even more crazy is that after all of the games I’ve been to at Wrigley Field (and I’ve been to a lot), I finally get a picture with Ronnie at Busch Stadium.

From left to right, Disco Stu, Paul, Ronnie Woo Woo, and me (and two very large beers).

The Enemy’s House

Busch StadiumI am visiting the enemy’s house today, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. That’s right folks; I’m making my first trip to the new Busch Stadium to see the Cubs close out their series against the Cardinals. I can’t wait to see all of the dirty looks I get just because I’m wearing a Cubs hat. I get dirty looks walking around my neighborhood so the mean stares should be even more intense at Busch. It’s going to be awesome!

I have a feeling all of the wacky Cardinals fans will act like they have a chance just because they won game two last night so it’s a good thing I’ll be there to set them straight. At six games back and the Cubs and Brewers ahead of them in the division, the Cardinal’s season is pretty much over. My big concern right now is the stinking Brewers. They just won’t throw in the towel. Don’t they understand how much stress they’re causing for ever Cubs fan around the world?

Anyway, like the Cubs, I need to focus on one game at a time, and I can’t wait to see the Cubbies beat the Cards today.

Go Cubs!!!

When Is It Okay to Lower Prices?

iPhoneApple released details yesterday about how all of those early iPhone adopters can get their hands on their $100 Apple Store credit. Ever since Steve Jobs announced that there would be a credit for early adopters, I have been trying to decide if this is a good idea or not. On one hand, Apple dropped the price by a third after only two months on the market. On the other hand, how many times have you bought a technology product, or any product for that matter, and had the price drop significantly not long after your purchase? This happens all of the time! I know Apple is trying to make everyone happy here, and that’s a good thing, but does this set a dangerous precedent?

I bought an iPod right after they were released in 2001. I was the only person I knew that had one. People on the Metra would do a double take when they’d see me searching for a new song, and some of them would even ask me about the iPod. I felt like the coolest guy in the world. Early in 2002, Apple introduced a 10GB model, and of course I had a little bit of envy because I was quickly filling the 5GB of my iPod. Not for a minute did I expect Apple to give me my money back. I paid the price to have the latest and greatest Apple device, and it was well worth it. So what if a new 10GB model could be had for the same price?

That brings me back to the iPhone price drop debacle. Would such a huge uproar have occurred if Apple had released a 16GB iPhone at the same time as the 8GB iPhone price drop? It’s hard to be sure, but I don’t thing it would have happened. People would have had some envy for sure, but I doubt that they would have demanded their money back. Apple’s early adopters and Apple itself may have just slowed the release of new products by making it the company’s responsibility to pay back customers when new products are released. You can be sure that Apple and other technology companies will think twice when they have new products or product updates to release.

Consumers have determined that two months is too soon to drop prices. What is acceptable? Is one quarter (three months) enough time? How about six months? I guess we’ll find out the next time Apple has something revolutionary to release.

Is This When The Cubs Pull Away?

I haven’t written a whole lot about the Cubs lately. Actually, I haven’t written a whole lot this month about anything, but today is the day I get back on track. Anyway, I haven’t written about the Cubs lately because they’ve been stressing me out. One day they’re up; the next day they’re down. Basically, I haven’t wanted to jinx anything be getting too excited when the Cubbies are in first place.

With only fifteen games left, it’s time to close this thing out. The Cubs have three more critical games against the Cardinals, six games against the Reds, three games against the Pirates, and three games against the Marlins. With this schedule, the Cubs should be able win all or most of these series. The Cardinals and Brewers will beat each other up in a couple weeks so that should help the situation. I’m feeling pretty good about the Cubs chances this year. Is it possible they can pull off a coup and sneak into the World Series like the Cardinals did last year? I can’t wait to see how this all turns out. Hopefully I’ll have nails left by the end of the season.

Go Cubs!!!

The Power of Music and Childhood

My daughter, Kyah, has a birthday coming very soon, and the presents are starting to trickle in from relatives around the country. Uncle Terry and Urbis got her all sorts of cool gifts including an MP3 player that she’s been listening to almost daily. I hooked it up to my Mac to see how easy it would be to update it, and I put some Beatles music on there to see if it would work. Sure enough, it worked just fine, and I’ve been able to teach her how to turn it on and play songs. We’re still working on learning how to turn it off so we’ve burned through a few batteries, but we’re getting there.

Now that you know the back story, I can finally get to the point of this post. Kyah has really taken a liking to the Beatles which I think is one of the coolest things ever. I remember listening to the Beatles with my mom and dad so it’s nice to see another generation enjoying their music. Kyah said the coolest things I’ve ever heard a kid say in my life the other day. She was listening to “Here Comes The Sun,” and she handed one of the ear buds to me so I could hear what she was listening to, and then she says, “Dad, this song is really hopeful and joyful, isn’t it.” I was almost speechless when the words came out of her mouth. After a few moments, I finally responded, “Yes, Ky, it is very hopeful and joyful.” It’s these moments that remind me how amazing my daughter is. I mean, really, how many little kids can listen to the lyrics of a song and feel hope and joy? She’s going to change the world some day.

To Touch or Not to Touch

Unless you’ve been buried under a rock for the last week, you already know that Apple released an entire new line of iPods at their special event on Wednesday. The iPod shuffle has been refreshed with new colors, the iPod nano has a whole new look and feel, the iPod is now a classic, and the iPod touch is the iPhone’s younger cousin. Consumers now have more choices than ever when it comes to their iPod purchases.

Without spending time with the new models, it looks like Apple has a winning lineup for this holiday season. The thing that bothers me a bit is that if I were to buy a new iPod, I would have to choose between form and storage. I would love to have an iPod touch because of its incredible user interface and its new wireless features. The problem with the iPod touch for me is that it really has very little storage. My music library is humongous, I subscribe to many podcasts, I have a very large photo collection, and I have a ton of television shows and movies from my TiVo that I would love to take with me on the road. It would be incredibly annoying for me to constantly have to pick and choose which media to take with me if I only had 16GB of storage to work with. On the other hand, the new iPod classic has enough storage to hold every single one of my media files assuming I don’t put every single movie on there. The classic would be a huge upgrade over my 20GB iPod (dock connector). I would gain photos and video and a whole lot more, but I wouldn’t have Internet or the touch interface.

So, now you know my dilemma. Do I touch, or do I go with a classic?

Probstisms Review: Google Docs

With Microsoft once again delaying the release of Office 2008 for Mac, you may be rethinking your reliance on the folks up in Redmond for your word processing needs. Apple recently released iWork ’08 which helps fill the gap, but there are other options available that provide powerful, easy to use word processing at a very reasonable price (Free!).

Google Docs is Google’s entry into the word processing space. Docs provides an impressive list of features, and considering that the application is web based and free, the features are even more amazing.

Editing

If you are familiar with Microsoft Word or any other word processing application on the market, you will feel very comfortable with Google Docs. Docs provides all of the features you would expect to see like undo, redo, copy, paste, bullets, alignment, etc. You also have a number of fonts and colors to choose from although I would like to see more font families added in the future.

Docs also provides the ability to insert images, hyper links (including links to other Google Docs), comments, tables, bookmarks, and separators (including page breaks). For each type of object, the interface provides enough options to control exactly how the objects appear in the document. For example, when you add an image to a document, Google Docs can resize the image based on the setting you choose, and you can also set the alignment and text wrapping. This is all done with a few clicks on the mouse.

One feature that users will find to be very helpful is the Revisions feature. Docs automatically saves your document as you type, and it provides a very easy way to go back and see and revert to each revision if the need arises. Docs also provides the ability to compare different revisions (think Track Changes in Word). This is a very powerful feature and one that I expect will be used very often.

Collaboration

The most impressive feature of Google Docs is its ability to share documents with other Google Docs users. When you share a document, you can make other users collaborators on the document. Those users can make changes to the document while you are making changes. This is extremely useful when working remotely with other people around the world. This also makes the Revisions feature even more important in case one of the collaborators accidentally deletes or changes a section of the document that shouldn’t have been changed.

In addition to adding collaborators to a document, you also add viewers. As the name implies, these users can only view the document and cannot make any changes. This makes it possible to share documents with others while maintaining full control over the content.

With more and more people working remotely, the sharing features in Google Docs makes it very easy to work with other team members with real time collaboration.

Publishing

With Google Docs, it is very easy to publish your work so the world can see it in all of its glory. Users can choose to publish the document using Google’s servers. The document will receive its own web address (URL) that you can send to anyone that needs to see the document. Users can also choose to publish their documents to their own personal blog. Google Docs supports most of the major blogging services as well as several APIs for self hosted blogs.

Working Offline

As with other web-based applications, the one negative for Google Docs is that it cannot provide a seamless offline experience. Google has been working on a product called Google Gears which may be something that could make it possible for users to work in Google Docs while offline. If you would like to experiment with Google Gears, you can work with it while using Google Reader.

Without an offline mode, users must export their documents in order to work with them offline. Here, Google Docs provides many format options including HTML, RTF, Word, OpenOffice, PDF, and Text. Once you are back online, you can import the document back into Google Docs and continue to work with it through the web interface. Obviously this is not the smoothest user experience.

Conclusions

Google Docs is a very powerful word processing tool that has all of the features most users would need in a very easy to use web based interface. With its collaboration functionality, it is way ahead of most of its higher priced competitors. As long as you maintain a connection to the Internet, Google Docs provides a more than adequate replacement to Microsoft Word for Mac. If you’ve had enough of Microsoft’s word processing behemoth, I recommend that you give Google Docs a try.

So, Should I Be Excited about This Starbucks Thing?

At the special Apple event on Wednesday, Apple introduced a collaboration with Starbucks. Basically, if you go into a Starbucks Coffee shop with an iPhone, iPod touch, or laptop running the latest version of iTunes, you will be automatically connected to the iTunes Store and Starbucks Now Playing content for free. Really, how many times have you walked into a Starbucks and wondered what song was playing? Now, you can buy the song right from your iPhone, iPod touch, or laptop.

The announcement was pushed to the side by most of the media, but this partnership has huge potential. Let’s think for a minute about other restaurants that play music as part of their concept. Two that come to mind immediately are Chipotle and Potbelly Sandwich Works. Surely other restaurants will want to get in on the action.

If we take this a step further, where else do people listen to music while they may have an iPhone or iPod touch with them? Now, concert venues of all shapes and sizes come into the picture. It would be pretty cool if while you were at a place like the House of Blues listening to a concert, you could buy the song being played or perhaps even the entire album from the artist. This is especially true of opening acts that just blow you away.

Apple and Starbucks may have started something truly revolutionary with this new partnership.