I'm Back

For those of you who thought that I had fallen off the face of the Earth . . . I’m back! Yes, it’s been a month and a half since the last time I posted anything to my blog, and it’s been even longer since I posted anything new on my podcast, but at long last, the drought is over. Things have been pretty busy since the move, and we’re still working on finding all of our things. That includes our camera so unfortunately, there are no new pictures to share with everyone. Don’t worry, though. We’ve dedicated ourselves to finding that camera and taking a bazillion pictures. Now that the weather is coming around, we should be able to take some great shots of the ocean from the end of our street. I’ll post some new pictures as soon as I can. Keep in touch with me by using the contact page on my site, and I promise to keep the site more up to date. Until next time . .

Finally Moved

Well, we’re finally done moving out of our old house. It took a lot longer than we could have expected, but I guess it wasn’t so bad considering how busy we are with the kids, school, and work. Anyway, I’ll post pictures soon so you all can see our new place. I’ll also try to get some shots of the view from our street. We’re at such a high elevation that we actually have two views of the ocean.

DocBuilder.com Document Automation Challenge

My buddy, Scott Driza, started DocBuilder.com Incorporated back in 1999. Scott is a great programmer and has written several books and articles on document automation. He got me in to the document automation business while we worked together back in Chicago, and thanks to his initial push, I know a thing or two about programming. Right now, DocBuilder.com Incorporated is having a Document Automation Challenge. For between $10 and $50 per page, the company will automate any document in Microsoft Word. Check out DocBuilder.com for more information.

Yet Another iPod

Yesterday, Apple (AAPL) released yet another iPod model to further their dominance in the portable music player market. The 1GB iPod nano is perfectly priced at $149 and should draw interest from the people that have been holding out for a cheaper iPod with a screen. The price drop for the iPod shuffle to $69 for the 512MB model is really going to put pressure on the competition. No company has come close to the integration and ease of use that the iPod/iTunes combination provides.

The latest company that has succumb to the power of the iPod is Dell (DELL). You’re not seeing things. I mean that Dell. The company quietly exited the music business yesterday. Check out this article from The Motley Fool for more information. Now, let’s hope that this news translates into a higher stock price for Apple.

Moving

Isn’t moving the most enjoyable experience ever? I barely feel like we’ve even moved into our current house. Anyway, because the owners of the house we’re renting are moving back to town, we had to find another place to live so starting March 1st, we’ll have a new address on the other side of town. The nice thing is that we’ll have a back yard that the kids can play in, and I’ll be fifteen to twenty minutes closer to work. The bad thing is that like everything else in California, the prices for renting went up last year.

New Wynton Marsalis Music

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been listening to more and more jazz music on a daily basis. I think seeing Wynton Marsalis in an iTunes commercial reminded me of how cool jazz music really is. I’m not saying that I haven’t been listening to jazz, but it has taken a back seat to rock and blues music in my daily listening.

I wanted to take some time to comment on a couple new albums I’ve been in to lately. The first is Wynton’s new live album, Amongst the People: Live at the House of Tribes. The album contains six songs, and all but two are over ten minutes long. All of the musicians stretch out and play some great solos. For me, this album ranks up there with some of the best live albums that I’ve had the privilege to hear like Wynton’s Live at Blues Alley, Cannonball Adderley’s In San Francisco, Art Blakey’s Ugetsu, and Duke Ellington’s At Newport. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I would definitely recommend giving Amongst the People a listen.

The other album I’ve been listening to a lot lately isn’t really an album at all. It’s a three-song session Wynton did for iTunes. I have a feeling Wynton went into the studio with these three songs for the commercial, and they ended up picking Sparks. All three songs are brief by normal jazz standards which should make them more accessible to the masses. They’re also fun to listen to because they have a certain level of humor and attitude. I hope to hear more of Wynton in a quartet setting in the future if this is the kind of result we can expect.

Well, I need to get back to listening.

Macworld Expo Wrap-Up

Okay, I’d like to apologize for taking almost a month to comment on what happened at Macworld last month. Every time I’ve tried to sit down and write anything, something else comes up, or I find myself passed out on the couch. Anyway . . . as expected, Apple (AAPL) came out with some really great new stuff. The Intel Macs came out six months early starting with the new iMac. From what I’ve read, these things scream when they’re using software written for the Intel processors inside of them. Even with the transition layer, old PowerPC software runs very well. I really think that once all software has transitioned to run natively on Intel Macs, individuals and businesses will think twice about buying a Windows (or is it Windose) machine. The Macs will look and run too well to pass up.

Apple also introduced the new MacBook Pro which is pretty much the notebook computer I’ve been waiting for all these years. If only I could justify the cost to get one. Hey, if any of you have a suggestion on how to convince my wife and me to get one of these, I’m open to suggestions.

Apple also updated the iLife and iWork packages. I have to tell you, I wouldn’t enjoy working with digital photos and digital movies nearly as much without iPhoto and iMovie at my disposal. Those two programs make it so easy! Then there’s iTunes. I think no comment is necessary about how iTunes has changed the world.

Anyway, that’s my wrap-up of the announcements at Macworld. I can’t wait to see what Steve Jobs has up his sleeve for the next Apple event. Until then . .

Macworld Expo 2006

Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s the time of year when the King of the Reality Distortion Field presides over the Mac universe to let us know what is and should be the next big thing. I always look forward to each Steve Jobs keynote because of the anticipation and buzz it causes. The media has, of course, been all over this year’s Expo. For some reason, I feel like something insanely cool will be introduced tomorrow. There’s bound to be something introduced that will change the way people think about or use their computers. My hope is that there is a mix of hardware and software announcements so I have some new programs to play with on my trusty Power Mac G4. In either case, I will be glued to my Mac news sites to keep up with what’s going on up in San Francisco.

Now, I would like to throw in my two cents about what I’d like to see Apple (AAPL) do tomorrow so here it goes.

Intel-Based Notebooks

Apple needs new notebooks like it needs air. The iBooks and PowerBooks feel slow compared to Windows-based notebooks. It’s time for Apple to release Intel-based notebooks and let a real comparison of Mac OS X and Windows XP commence. For the first time in history, Apple and Microsoft will be playing on the same field, and a real, meaningful comparison of the two operating systems can be performed. My bet is that OS X will blow the socks off of Windows XP, but only time will tell.

What is this iWeb thing?

I have seen a few rumors referencing some new web page creation tool from Apple. My hope is that Apple took a page from the Microsoft playbook and just bought RapidWeaver from the guys at Real Mac Software. RapidWeaver is one of the best programs I’ve ever used, and as far as I’m concerned, it is already an iApp. It would fit seamlessly with the rest of the iLife suite of applications and would make .Mac even more valuable.

Now, if I could have everything I wanted in a web development program, I would have RapidWeaver with the ability to create PHP/MySQL applications automatically. It would be great if I didn’t have HTML pages and CSS files spread out in directories for each photo album. RapidWeaver could create the PHP-based pages and create a MySQL database to store the data for each of the albums. To make the application completely easy to use, they would need to find some way to make it insanely easy to upload the web site and database to .Mac or other hosting service that supports PHP. I have no doubt that the guys at Apple and Real Mac Software could pull off something like this.

So that’s about it for now. We’ll all know more tomorrow morning.