There has been a lot of noise bouncing around the Internet this morning that NBC has chosen not to renew their agreement with Apple’s iTunes Store. NBC had to give Apple a 90 day notice to pull out of their deal or it would have renewed automatically at the end of this year.

I’m not sure if NBC is using this as a negotiating tool or what, but it seems like an awfully dumb move on their part to pull their content from one of the largest digital media retailers in the world. I understand that all of the television and movie studios are experimenting with online delivery, but the iTunes Store is a proven model that works very well for all parties involved. Do you think that NBC would ever pull their DVD box sets out of Best Buy or Wal-Mart stores? That wouldn’t happen in a million years. iTunes Store provides a way for the studios to make money on each individual episode of their shows that they distribute freely over the airwaves. This just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

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I read on Mac Rumors yesterday that Apple and Volkswagen may be getting together to work on integrating Apple products more tightly into VW cars. If this is true, I think it’s a great move by both companies. They both target the same demographic of customers, and they both have the “cool” factor.

Let’s think about what Apple products would work in an iCar. There will definitely be iPod and iPhone integration. The VW will come with a radio head unit that is completely integrated with the iPod and iPhone. Perhaps the controls will be displayed on a large screen in the center of the dashboard powered by Mac OS X. From that display, the driver can control the phone, music, video, and Internet assuming an iPhone was connected to the car. An iPod would provide music and video. Besides the large dashboard display, each headrest will have its own display, and the displays will be capable of playing different media at the same time. The passengers in the back seat will be able to plug in their headphones and enjoy their very own entertainment.

Now, just imagine if you and three of your friends jumped into your iCar, and all four of you have your own iPhone. Near each seat is an iPod/iPhone connector so each of you can plug in your iPhone. Not only will the connector charge your iPhone, the driver and front seat passenger will be able to control the media on all of the devices from the dashboard display. How cool would that be?

Besides iPod/iPhone integration, the iCar will have HD Radio and Satellite Radio built in as well as a GPS system completely integrated with Google Maps. Of course, the interface will have Apple’s normal touch of style so all of the features are easily accessible while driving.

Integrating Apple’s media products with a Volkswagen has a lot of potential. What do you think the iCar will be able to do?

This Is Where We LiveMy day job requires me to wear many different hats depending on the projects that are active at any point in time. One of my main responsibilities is report design and development using the latest and greatest version of Business Objects. Basically, it’s my job to gather and present data in a way that is meaningful and helpful for our clients. I have always been a stickler about presentation regardless of the media so when I develop a report for a client, I want the layout and format of the report to be perfect. I want my clients to be able to look at a report and quickly and easily see how their business is doing. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using graphs to visually display the data.

I read a post from Smashing Magazine that had some great examples of how companies are getting more and more creative about displaying data. Some of the examples make regular graphs look completely antiquated. My favorite example by far is a 3D map from Time showing the population density of the United States. Readers can easily understand how to read the map, and it is visually stunning. Companies like Business Objects need to be keeping an eye on these great new ways to visualize data so they can add the functionality to their products. I know our clients would love to see their data in new ways like the examples in Smashing Magazine. Very cool and exciting stuff.

Via (How to Change the World)

Not that I find great pleasure in saying this, but I told you so! This morning I wrote that I thought Apple would be announcing a special event soon and that they would be introducing new iPods and the availability of the Beatles catalog on iTunes. Well, it looks like I may have been right on with this one. Check out this post from AppleInsider. The media invitation appears to be based on the Cover Flow feature in iTunes so the news is most likely related to the iTunes/iPod/iPhone businesses. The kicker is that Apple used a quotation from the Beatles final press release as the caption: “The beat goes on.” I am so glad I have next Wednesday off so I can keep up with all of the live blogging that is sure to happening.

Ringo StarrIs it just me, or is there a trend developing here? This morning, Ringo Starr’s catalog was added to the iTunes Store. So now we have Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr on iTunes. That’s three out of the four Beatles!

Here’s what I think will happen next. In the coming weeks, George Harrison’s catalog will be quietly added to the store. Then Apple will officially announce a special event, and the rumor mill will go crazy trying to figure out what Apple has up their sleeves. My guess is that they will use the event to introduce new iPods using technologies perfected during iPhone development, and they will bring Paul and Ringo on stage to announce that Beatlemania has officially come to iTunes. Heck, maybe they’ll even play for us!

Now that would be an announcement worthy of a special event!

Woz and JobsI saw this super cool Lego set on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) earlier today. I mean, really, how sweet would it be to have a Lego set designed in your honor?

The company behind this brilliant piece of art is called PodBrix, and this is not their first Lego set featuring Woz and Jobs. Previous sets include a Jobs keynote address, a Woz minifig, and a recreation of the 1984 Apple Super Bowl ad.

I think this is my new goal in life. I need to do something cool enough that someone decides to make a Lego set in my honor. Now that is a real sign of success. 🙂

Mark Cuban, known to most as the wacky owner of the Dallas Mavericks, wrote a post on his blog, Blog Maverick, on Friday that’s getting a lot of attention. In the post, he talks about how he thinks the Internet is dead and boring. This is the comment that’s getting everyone excited. If you read further into the post, what Cuban is saying is that he thinks the Internet has matured into a stable platform and has become a utility. It has stopped evolving. When he says Internet, he is referring to the network, not necessarily the content that runs on the network. I’d have to say that I agree with him on this point. The Internet is finally stable enough that developers and designers have been able to create some incredibly useful and entertaining products. If Internet browser makers and web developers didn’t have well defined standards to follow to build their applications, we would not have the rich experience on the ‘net that we have today. Does anyone remember when Yahoo! was just a text page? That site would look awfully dull and boring today.

Now, just because the network is boring, it doesn’t mean that the content and the technologies that run on the network have stopped evolving. The opposite is actually the case. New and exciting sites and applications are released every day, and the content on the Internet is richer than ever. I think we have a long way to go to tap the potential of the current Internet, and hopefully, I’ll be able to contribute in some meaningful way.

With all that said, I am looking forward to see how the next generation of the Internet changes the way we live. Just imagine the kind of content we’ll see when every house has a 100 Mbps connection to the Internet. How about 1,000 Mbps? Should be pretty sweet!

Via (TechCrunch)

Google ReaderHave you tried Google Reader yet? If not, you’re really missing out on a great tool to keep track of all of the news and information that’s important to you.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Google Reader is an RSS reader. RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Basically, an RSS feed allows content providers to syndicate their content through a standard file format that can be read by any program that has been designed to read that format. Many programs and web sites support RSS. Some that you may have heard of are My Yahoo!, iGoogle, Newsgator, and of course, Google Reader.

I have used most of the major RSS feed readers out there, but I’ve never found one that met all of my expectations. I used Newsgator for a while, and I liked it, but it never really made its way into my every day routine. Recently, I gave Google Reader a try, and I’ve been using it ever since. It provides a simple 2-click process to add new RSS feeds, and it displays information in two different views: an expanded view and a list view. When reading a post, you can add a star (just like Gmail), share the post through your Shared Items page, email the post with direct access to your Gmail address book, and add a tag to the post. All of this functionality is built into a very clean and simple interface.

If you’re looking for a tool to keep track of all of your favorite news sites and blogs, I highly recommend Google Reader. You’ll find yourself getting through your news and views faster than ever before.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how productive you can be when you are working remotely with people all over the world. As someone who does this every day, I am of the opinion that you can be very productive when working in a remote location. Not only have I worked on very successful teams at work that have been disbursed all over the planet, I also managed to get my Masters degree remotely by collaborating with other students and instructors in different parts of the country and the world. In some cases, I worked with military people stationed in South Korea and consultants shipped off to India during our classes.

The most important part of working remotely with other people and companies is that everyone commits to taking advantage of the best technology available to make everyone as productive and successful as possible. When this happens, a remote team can be just as successful or even more successful than a team that is together in one place. The team members learn how to communicate differently using online tools like IM, email, and newsgroups, and because everything is in writing, miscommunication is less likely. I believe that communication actually improves in successful remote teams. The proper tools mean all the difference in the world when it comes to working remotely.

I wrote about online collaboration tools back in May 2005, and that post is still very relevant today. In a post coming soon, I will investigate using Google’s suite of web applications to collaborate with people all over the world. Stay tuned!

MeeboMeebo is one of those web apps that kind of sneaks up on you. I tried it a while back, and I thought it was a pretty cool idea. Then I tried it again and again, and now it’s something I use every day.

For those of you who are not familiar with Meebo, it is a very easy to use web application that allows you to connect to all of your instant messaging services on one web page. Meebo supports MSN, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber. You can sign up for a Meebo account and save your settings for all of your IM accounts and use one sign on for all of them. When you have an account with all of the major IM services, using one account to sign on to all of them is pretty useful.

I use Meebo most often when I’m out of town for work. I don’t want to install a ton of IM software on my work computer so Meebo really provides a great service so I can communicate with my family when I’m away from home. I’m actually finding myself using it on computers where I have the IM clients installed. It’s really that good. The site is even designed to work perfectly on an iPhone if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Try it when you have a chance. You won’t regret it.