Although I would love for our home to be a Mac-only home, the reality is that we bought a Dell laptop two and a half years ago so my wife could go to school and use the software she needed for her program. The laptop in question is an Inspiron E1505 with a fast Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a dedicated ATI graphics card. It came with Vista Home Premium which had been nothing but trouble since day one.

So, when reviews of Windows 7 started coming in and were positive, I was excited to finally rid our lives of Vista so my wife could have a more stable computer to do her photo editing. I figured that the computer more than met the requirements of Windows 7, and it couldn’t really get much worse.

Only one problem. Apparently, Dell feels our computer is obsolete already. Here is Dell’s list of computers that have compatible drivers for Windows 7. I especially like their suggestion of buying a new computer if your computer is not on their list.

So, if I’m reading this list correctly, Dell sold a computer to me two and a half years ago that is not officially supported by them on only the first Windows release since I bought the computer. This is just shocking to me. It’s not like I bought a piece of crap computer for $600 that I wouldn’t expect to last more than a year or two. I bought a computer that has enough horsepower to last.

The fact is that the computer more than meets the minimum requirements of Windows 7, and Microsoft’s utilities think the computer is ready to go for the new operating system. Needless to say, I have installed Windows 7 on the computer using the drivers that ship with the operating system. Microsoft even had a couple driver updates for some of the components available after the completion of the installation.

I am incredibly disappointed in Dell for not updating their drivers for all of their shipped computers that meet the minimum requirements of Windows 7. All PC makers should be required to maintain their drivers until the requirements of Windows exceeds the abilities of their computers as they were shipped. There is no other approach that makes sense.

It is with great excitement that I introduce you to Donnell Probst Photography.

My wife, Donnell, is very passionate about everything she does, and she has had a love for photography for most of her life. She has an amazing eye and really takes wonderful pictures. She is now officially fulfilling her dream of being a professional photographer, and I am beaming with pride. My wife totally rocks!

From a geeky perspective, I have been insanely impressed with the speed in which she has picked up Photoshop and WordPress. These two applications are not the easiest in the world to really figure out, but Donnell is already rocking both of them. Awesome!

Please take some time and check out her website. If you live in Saint Louis or even Chicago, please schedule a photo session with her. You will enjoy the pictures for many years to come.

I had one of those experiences this week that was just so good that I wanted to share it with everyone.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you already know that I am participating in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event here in Saint Louis on October 10th. The goal of the event is to raise funds for Autism Speaks so they can continue to help fund research, educate parents, and raise awareness of Autism among many other things that they do. If you would like more information, please visit my personal page on the Walk Now for Autism Speaks website.

I work for a fairly large company so earlier this year, I started making calls to see if the company would get involved in some way to help me support the cause. My request went all the way to the head of HR for the entire company! With his support, my HR contact really got the ball rolling at the local level here in Saint Louis.

Now, let me give you a little background. I work from my home with a group in our company that is located in San Diego so I had no previous contact with the offices here in Saint Louis. I had never met or talked with anyone from the local offices. That is what makes the rest of the story even more wonderful.

Getting back to the story . . .

With the help of my HR contact, I was able to get in touch with the manager of the local office, and he jumped at the opportunity to help me in any way he could. He put the office manager in charge, and she ran with it. She put together flyers, got local restaurants to donate food, and planned everything. So earlier this week, I attended a luncheon at the office with people who I had never met. In addition to the donated food, people made their favorite dishes to share with everyone. It was quite the feast!

When it was all said and done, these generous, kind strangers had not only donated their time and food, they had managed to raise over $200 in donations for Autism Speaks! This really says a lot about the people that work for my company and the people of Saint Louis. I will be forever grateful for what they did to help me and my family support a cause that is very important to us. My hope is that this kind of thing becomes a regular occurrence for my company in Saint Louis. It’s a lot of fun to help the community, and it’s nice to know I’m not a lone ranger for my company in the area.

Well, dear readers, I promised to get back to you and let you know if I ever made the switch from Google Gmail and Google Calendar to the MobileMe suite, and now that it’s been a year, I figure I better let you know what happened.

Well, this is pretty simple folks. MobileMe has done absolutely nothing to convince me to transition from the Google application suite. MobileMe kind of reminds me of plain vanilla ice cream. Not the kind made with natural vanilla but the kind that has a yellowish tint made from imitation vanilla. It seems that at some point, my expectations for web applications has gone well beyond the customer that Apple is aiming to please.

It seems that Google is on the other end of the spectrum. It constantly works to improve its applications and produces impressive web applications using the latest technologies. That’s not to say that Apple isn’t doing the same with MobileMe, but the functionality that Apple produces is so simplified that it seems like something that was introduced five years ago. I’m sure there is a market for that type of thing, but it’s not a market I fit in anymore.

So, why am I sticking with Google? Well, it’s all about innovation and it’s all about standards. As I said before, Google seems to constantly improve its mail, contacts, and calendar programs. It is a leader in providing communications solutions like Google Talk and Google Voice. It is constantly on the cutting edge.

What’s even more interesting is that Google supports industry standards so thoroughly. Want to use any modern email program to access your Gmail account? No problem, Google has you covered with POP and IMAP. Want to use a modern calendar application to access your Google Calendar? No problem, Google has you covered with CalDAV.

Needless to say, I am still in the Google camp, and I am deeply entrenched at this point. Gmail (including chat), Google Calendar, Google Voice, Google Docs, YouTube, etc. It is going to take something so magical and so game changing to claw me away from Google that only one company on the planet has the ability to pull it off.

Come on Apple, MobileMe is not nearly good enough. Impress me! Convince me that you have the creativity and ability to produce something so game changing yet so right that everyone will want to use your web applications. You’ve clearly done it with the iPhone. Now do it one the web.

Good morning all. I have been wanting to test out the newest version of AIM for iPhone to see if the push notifications really work as they suggest, and I am quite happy to report that they absolutely do.

What does this mean to you? Well, if you often send SMS messages to people with an iPhone or BlackBerry (and many other phones), this means that you can send messages via AIM in real time using your data plan instead of using your alloted SMS messages.

Additionally, AIM for iPhone allows you to send SMS messages for free to any of your iPhone contacts with mobile numbers via your AIM account. So not only can you communicate on the AIM network using your data plan, you can also communicate using SMS via AIM using your data plan. This seems to me like a great way to avoid spending money on an extra SMS plan.

What makes this extra special nice is that you can also communicate in real time with your AIM buddies using their computers as well. Can this get any better?

There are two versions of the AIM app on the iTunes Store: a free version supported by ads and a $2.99 version with no ads and landscape keyboard capabilities. For some, $2.99 is a small price to pay for a landscape keyboard.

Happy messaging!