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 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.

Amazon MP3

It looks like Apple’s iTunes Store finally has some competition. As has been rumored for some time now, Amazon has released a beta version of Amazon MP3 to the public. Amazon MP3 sells their music in MP3 format using either a 256 kbps variable bit rate or a 256 kbps constant bit rate. According to GigaOM, songs sell for either $0.89 or $0.99, and albums sell for between $5.99 and $9.99. The iTunes Store has DRM free AAC files at 256 kbps, but they cost $1.29 per song. Most of the albums still cost $9.99.

Amazon has a slight advantage as far as price is concerned if you can find the music you want to buy. The selection is still skimpy compared to the iTunes Store, but I’m sure this will change soon enough. I’ve also never been a big fan of how Amazon displays its product information, but it’s not bad enough to turn me away from shopping with them. Apple definitely has the ease of use advantage over Amazon MP3 because everything is contained in the iTunes software although Amazon provides the Amazon MP3 Downloader that will automatically add purchased files to your iTunes library.

Based on the beta version of the store, Amazon has a very promising product here. Apple will soon find themselves with some work to do to either either lower their prices to match Amazon or prove to consumers why they should pay a $0.30 or $0.40 premium for the DRM free songs. Apple, it’s your move.

Cubs Win!The Magic Number just dropped to zero! With a big shutout win by Big Z over the Reds and with Greg Maddux and the Padres beating the Brewers, the Cubs are officially headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. It’s been so hard to get excited about the post season with all of the division lead changes lately, but it’s finally over. Now I can finally grow back my nails and start dreaming of a Cubs-Red Sox World Series!

It’s been a wild ride this summer, and I’m so happy that the Cubbies stuck with it and kept fighting all season long. It’s going to be awesome walking around Saint Louis with my Cubs hat on with pride. You wouldn’t believe the dirty looks I’ve gotten wearing that hat around here. I can’t wait to see what these goof ball Cardinals fans have to say now.

Go Cubs!

You may have heard by now that Microsoft is offering downgrades to Windows XP for people that bought PCs with Windows Vista installed. For business users and professionals that use applications that have not yet been updated to work with Vista, this is a very good thing. I can’t imagine that large enterprises are even thinking about migrating to Vista yet, though. All of the large corporations that I have worked with so far are very risk averse, and they do not usually migrate to new versions of software until at least one service pack has been released. In some cases, it takes two service packs to make them feel comfortable about going through a huge migration project.

In the case of home users, I’m not sure I see the need to go through the trouble of downgrading. My wife and I have had a Windows Vista PC pretty much since Vista was released, and it has been reliable for the most part. It runs pretty quickly which is to be expected from a Core 2 Duo processor, a ton of RAM, and a good graphics card. I suppose if the machine was running XP, it would really fly, but we’ll stick with what we have.

I do have to add a caveat to this post. When the beta of Mac OS X came out, I installed it right away on my Power Mac G4, and I never went back to OS 9. I guess I’m trying to say I don’t mind going through a few growing pains. For the record, Windows Vista is a lot more ready for prime time than Mac OS X was when it first came out. Of course, Windows Vista is not a complete rewrite like OS X was so I can see why people expected more from Microsoft.

Like a lot of you out there, I have been using news readers like My Yahoo!, iGoogle, NewsGator, and most recently Google Reader to keep track of all of the news and information that is important to me. Instead of jumping to forty or more sites each day, I can go to one place and read all of the latest updates. If I choose to, I can jump to the sites to read specific stories to make comments.

One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is when a publisher only includes the title of an article in their feed. This does me no good whatsoever, and it is very annoying. A title is not enough information for me to decide if I have any interest in reading an article, and I cannot be the only person that feels this way.

Publishers need to provide at the very minimum a summary of every article in their feed. My preference is that the feeds to which I subscribe include the full text of each article. For publishers that are concerned about losing advertising opportunities, there are many companies that provide products to help monetize feeds including Google, FeedBurner (now part of Google), and Pheedo. Providing the full text of articles provides a better experience for news consumers, and I suggest that all publishers change their feeds to include full text. Just give me the full story, please.

I have been keeping track of for some time now. The first thing that got my attention was the high quality themes that Small Potato produces. In fact, this blog uses one of his themes, Pride. Recently, Small Potato started a series of posts called WWMD or Wpdesigner Weekend Must Do. The series is meant to help all of us bloggers improve our blogs one weekend at a time.

His most recent post focused on staying within your niche. I had been using categories more like tags , and I had amassed quite a long list. This got me thinking that maybe I was losing focus. I have since converted most of those categories to tags, and I feel like I have a much more focused blog. The next time I write a post, I will be reminded to keep focused on technology, music, and sports. That’s not to say I won’t write about other topics from time to time, but I need to get focused so all of you out there know what you can expect when reading Probstisms.

Whether or not you use WordPress for your blog, is worth a visit. Check it out when you have a chance.

Well, tonight is my daughter’s birthday party so my house is full of 3rd grade girls. Needless to say, it was in our best interests to get Noah out of the house so the girls could enjoy their evening.

Our night started with our first visit to Costco. That place has everything! If there ever was a reason to get an extra freezer, that store is it. Costco is the Target of the warehouse stores. It’s a much better experience than Sam’s Club.

Our next stop was McDonalds for dinner. In fact, I’m blogging from the Playland right now. The No-Man is going to be tired tonight! It always amazes me that he can keep up with kids much bigger than him. Thank goodness there are some nice kids here this time. On our last visit here, the Playland was invaded by future hillbillies so this is a nice change.

It’s getting pretty late so I’m not sure if we have another stop in us or not. I bet some frozen custard can keep Noah awake for a little while longer. We just need another hour or so. There’s nothing quite like an evening out with a two year old, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Google DocsI read earlier this week on TechCrunch that Google had officially added presentations to Google Docs. This addition has been rumored for some time, and it’s finally here. Presentations is a web-based tool to create electronic presentations in a way that users of Microsoft PowerPoint will be very familiar. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that PowerPoint has, but I have never been a big fan of all of that worthless eye (and ear) candy anyway.

Google now has a very impressive suite of products that can handle all of the communications and productivity needs of both home and business users. I will write a more in depth review of Google’s products in a later post. Let’s just say that I won’t be buying the next version of Microsoft Office any time soon. Stay tuned!

Business 2.0This morning, I read a very nice post from Michael Arrington on TechCrunch about the final issue of Business 2.0. Like Michael, Business 2.0 is one of the few magazines I read every month from beginning to end. The magazine fits my business style much more than any of the stuffy business magazines like Fortune. In fact, it was their cover story, Blogging for Dollars, that inspired me to really start taking my blog seriously.

I really hope that Business 2.0 comes back in some form after all is said and done. It sounds like many of the people working for Business 2.0 will be moving to Fortune so hopefully the editors will not squash the ideas and style that made reading Business 2.0 so much fun. I guess this means my subscription will be transfered over to Fortune as well although I haven’t heard a word from the publisher about this.

Michael also mentioned in his post that TechCrunch and Business 2.0 held discussions regarding a possible merger. I would love to see some of the people at Business 2.0 move over to TechCrunch. It is already one of my favorite news sources, and it would only get better with the addition of the Business 2.0 team. I have a strange feeling we may see exactly that in the not too distant future.

Best of luck to everyone over at Business 2.0, and thanks for all of the great articles over the years.