Get ONXRT: Live from The Archives Volume 10 Before It’s Too Late!

WXRTI can’t even explain to you how much I miss WXRT. XRT is the best rock radio station in Chicago, and now that I’ve lived in several other cities, I can say that it is one of the best (if not the best) radio station in the country. Every year (or almost every year), XRT releases a recording of songs from their archives of concerts it has sponsored in Chicago. ONXRT Volume 10 hit Chicago area Starbucks stores earlier this month, and my brother, Greg, was kind enough to pick up a copy for me. Not only is it a great collection of songs by artists like The Pretenders, Chris Cornell, and The John Butler Trio, it also helps select Chicago-area charitable organizations. From XRT’s website:

Proceeds of ONXRT: Live From the Archives, Volume 10- will benefit the Little City Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Greater Illinois Chapter. The Little City Foundation ensures that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are provided with the best options and opportunities to live safely, work productively, explore creatively, learn continuously and play pleasurably throughout their lifetime.

The MS Society Greater Illinois Chapter works to end the devastating effects of multiple Sclerosis, fund research, provide more services to people living with MS, offer professional education, and further advocacy efforts.

If you live in Chicago (or if you know someone who does), run out and get yourself a copy before they’re gone. These CDs quickly become collectors items. You’ll get some really good music and help two great organizations.

Back to The Drawing Board

It has been brought to my attention by my Internet Explorer-using friends that my blog theme looked terrible in IE. What’s funny is that it looked great in Firefox and Safari. Internet Explorer has always been the problem child of the web design community because it does not adhere to standards as well as it should.

Although it really bothers me to do this, I have switched my blog back to the default WordPress theme until I can either find a theme that looks good in all browsers or until I figure out how to fix my old theme.

Thanks to everyone that pointed out IE’s complete disregard for Internet standards.

Update: Okay, I have to admit that it was my bad HTML code that caused my blog to look all funky the other day. It wasn’t IE’s fault. IE still sucks, though. 🙂

I Want My Last.fm!

Last.fmI admit that I’m a little late to this party, but I love Last.fm! It’s an incredibly simple concept. You go to their website, type in the name of an artist you like, and music by that artist and similar artists starts playing in the music player that is embedded in the site. If you want to take it a step further, you can create an account and download the Last.fm software for Mac, Windows, or Linux and listen to music on your computer without using a web browser. The nice thing about the software is that it can keep track of the music you listen to in iTunes and on your iPod. Last.fm calls the process of tracking your listening habits “scrobbling.” Basically, information about all of the tracks you listen to using iTunes, an iPod, and Last.fm is collected and stored in order to develop a personal listening history. Once you have used Last.fm long enough, your personal Last.fm radio station based on your tastes should be all you need to fill your day with music that you like.

One of the things I like best about Last.fm is that I have been able to discover new music that I never would have heard on the anemic radio stations here in Saint Louis. There are links to Amazon.com to buy the currently playing tracks, or you can do a quick search in the iTunes Store. Since moving from larger radio markets like Chicago and San Diego, I have not found a good source to hear good music, and Last.fm is perfect for those purposes.

If you enjoy music and have access to a computer throughout your day, check out Last.fm and enjoy.

Why the Fuss Over iPhone Development?

Apple iPhone

Okay, I have to admit that I do not own an iPhone so my opinion may be a little off here, but why is there such a fuss over being able to develop for the iPhone? As a techno super freak, I keep up with a lot of technology sites and blogs through my favorite feed reader, Google Reader. It seems like there has been at least one post a day about something to do with hacking the iPhone so you can run native third party applications. At this point, I have to admit that these posts have me a bit bored and annoyed.

If Apple had intended the iPhone to be an open development environment, they would have kept it open and made it possible and incredibly easy to develop applications using Xcode. Third party applications are good for business so Apple must have had a very important reason for not allowing native development.

Instead of wasting all of this time and effort on hacking the iPhone, all of these obviously talented and dedicated developers should be focusing their efforts on developing the best web applications possible to work with the iPhone. There are some great examples of iPhone-optimized sites out there like Facebook, Digg, OneTrip, and Meebo. I know that a connection to the web is required to run these applications, but with Wi-Fi and the cellular network, how often are iPhone users really without an active connection? The web now provides a very powerful development environment, and it really is time to focus on creating the best iPhone web applications the world has ever seen. Focus guys, focus.

George Harrison Catalog Added to iTunes

George Harrison

I have written about the eventual availability of the Beatles music catalog on iTunes before here, here, and here, but Apple and the band have fooled me each time. Yesterday, George Harrison’s catalog was added to iTunes so now all four of the former Beatles are available through the store.

I have always been a fan of the songs George wrote while he was with the Beatles. His songs had a different vibe than the typical Lennon-McCartney compositions, and George brought sound elements from all over the world into his music. I remember listening to my dad’s vinyl copy of All Things Must Pass when I was a kid, and I eventually bought the remastered CD when it came out. Great memories!

This time, it’s pretty clear there is only one more big release that these fine gentlemen and their estates can announce. That’s right; I am once again predicting that the Beatles catalog will soon be added to the iTunes Store. You have to admit, it is the perfect time. People are starting to think about their holiday shopping, and what better gift can you give to a Beatles fan than every track the Beatles ever recorded and then some? Maybe Apple will offer something similar to the package they put together for U2. How about a Beatles iPod packed full of tracks you can’t find anywhere else? Now that sounds like something worth the wait.

New Zunes Are Out, But Does Anyone Care?

Microsoft Zune

Last night, Microsoft launched the second generation of their Zune personal media players. In all honesty, the players actually look pretty sharp although they resemble Apple’s previous generation of iPods.

The big question is whether or not anyone will actually care that there is a new version of the Zune available. In all of my travels, I have not yet run into one person who owns a Zune, and most of the people I work with are technology workers. I would have expected to see at least one of those guys with a Zune especially considering their allegiance to Microsoft’s server and development products, but that is not the case at all. I’m sure most of you can guess which player they have. That’s right; it’s an iPod! Even with people that usually swear by Windows and Microsoft’s other products, they turn to Apple for their music and video playing pleasure.

Engadget did a nice side by side comparison of the Zune and iPod, and on the surface, the Zune has a wider feature set, but they left out one very important specification. They left out the cool factor. Apple has created an aura of cool around their products like no other company in history. When it comes to cool, it is very difficult for a company to compete with Apple, and in the media player business, cool matters. People don’t want to walk around or ride a train or plane with some lame piece of hardware. What would people think? They want the coolest thing on the market, and right now, that is the iPod.

I am glad to see Microsoft is introducing new Zunes because it will push Apple to make their products even better, but I’m afraid that the poor old Zune will be an afterthought before it even gets started.

Congratulations Scott!

My good friend, Scott Driza, announced a new venture yesterday called TheMortgageMess.com. The company’s products aim to help borrowers with risky loans avoid foreclosure and keep their homes. With the credit market the way it is right now, it is good to see legal and mortgage experts get together to help borrowers.

TheMortgageMess.com’s main products are state-specific Mortgage Success Kits and a Hardcore Credit Repair Kit. I think these products will be especially helpful for borrowers in states like California where it is almost impossible for a normal person to purchase a home without getting an interest-only or other unconventional loan.

I would like to wish Scott and his partners good luck in their exciting new venture. If you find yourself with a mortgage you cannot afford because of rate or payment changes, it may be worth your time to check out TheMortgageMess.com to see if they can help.

Are You Telling Me My Power Mac Is Almost Vintage?

I read on TUAW last week that the next version of Mac OS X will come very close to making my Power Mac G4 a vintage machine. It seems the minimum system requirements for Mac OS X Leopard will call for at least an 800 MHz G4 processor. If not for all of the upgrades I’ve done over the years, my poor old 400 MHz Sawtooth would have been history a long time ago. I mean, really, it’s almost eight years old! Right now, I’m running a 1.4 GHz G4 processor and an upgraded video card. I also have 1.5 GB of RAM so I should be in okay shape. It should be interesting to see if my Mac chokes on Leopard. It runs Tiger like a champ so I have high hopes.

I have resigned myself to the fact that this will probably be the last Mac OS upgrade for this computer. I have heard rumors that the next version will only support Intel-based Macs, but I find that difficult to believe with all of those G5 Macs out there. I do suspect that G4s may be put out to pasture. My Power Mac has served me incredibly well over the last eight years, and I’m sure I will be just as happy with our next Mac, but it will be sad to see it go. With its four hard drive bays, it will probably continue to be used as a media server, but we’ll see how that goes when the time comes. I wonder what Macs will be like by the time the next version of Mac OS X comes out. I have to admit, it will be fun to have a nice new machine around the house. You can’t beat that new computer smell! 🙂

Two Business 2.0 = One Fortune?

Not long ago, I wrote about the downfall of my favorite magazine. This afternoon, I went out to the mailbox and found my copy of the last edition of Business 2.0. The magazine was wrapped in a plain white cover with a thoughtful little note from Time notifying me that Business 2.o was no more and that I would be receiving Fortune going forward. The note didn’t stop there, however. Not only would I not be receiving my favorite magazine anymore, I would be receiving one month of Fortune for every two months remaining on my Business 2.0 subscription.

I don’t know about any of you out there, but this just doesn’t add up to me. Why in the world would Time think it was a good idea to unilaterally decide that their golden child magazine was some how worth twice as much as one of their other magazines. The big problem for me is that Fortune is worth nothing to me. There is a reason I read Business 2.0 instead of Fortune, and telling me that I will be losing half of my subscription months and be getting a magazine I don’t even like to read is like rubbing salt in the wound.

Now, I understand that a lot of the old Business 2.0 team will be moving over to Fortune so I’m going to give them a chance, but you can bet that they’ll be hearing from me about the little stunt they just pulled. There should be a one to one conversion from Business 2.0 to Fortune. That is really the only fair thing that Time can do for its loyal paying subscribers.

Microsoft Announces Office 2008 for Mac Versions and Pricing

Microsoft Office 2008Earlier this week, Microsoft announced versions and pricing for Office 2008 for Mac. According to TUAW, there will be three different versions to chose from: Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac for $399.95, Microsoft Office for the Mac Home and Student Edition for $149.95, and Microsoft Office for Mac Special Media Edition for $499.95. Other than the Home and Student Edition, consumers will get a break on the price if they are upgrading from a previous version.

Professionals will most likely need to go with the standard or Special Media Edition in order to get Exchange support, but home users will be well served by the Home and Student Edition. This edition will compete directly with Apple’s iWork and free services from Google including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. Home and student users will need to really take some time to determine if they can live with only being able to work with these products online. If they can, they may be able to save $150 and use Google’s services instead. If they need to be able to work offline, Apple’s iWork may be an option. The suite is maturing, and it now has all of the same applications that are included in Office other than Entourage, and Entourage can easily be replaced by the Mail, Address Book, and iCal applications included on every Macintosh.

With Apple’s and Google’s applications available to home and student users, Microsoft will have a very difficult time convincing these users that they need to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of Office. I, for one, will not be running out and buying Office this time around. It just doesn’t make sense for me to spend money on a productivity suite from Microsoft when there are cheaper or free alternatives.