Amazon takes on Apple with DRM-Free Music

Amazon takes on Apple with DRM-free music.

I’ve used iTunes since it was first released in 2001. When music was first sold via iTunes, I bought into the idea right away and stopped buying CDs altogether. I didn’t care about DRM and I didn’t care about bit-rates. When they started selling TV shows, I didn’t hesitate to buy shows like Heroes, Lost, South Park and Lil’ Bush. When they started selling iTunes Plus tracks, I bought those too. The idea of paying a little more for better quality, unprotected music made sense to me.

Then Amazon started offering DRM-free tracks, and they started offering them for less than copy-protected, lower-quality tracks on iTunes were selling for. Initially, I resisted. I told myself that nothing could work as well as iTunes. But then I tried AmazonMP3. Yeah, there’s a couple of extra steps involved in buying and downloading a track, but it’s worth the extra quality and cost savings.

I haven’t bought from iTunes since. It’s still my player of choice, and I still get TV shows from it fairly often, but now that there’s a viable alternative for buying music, I’m not sure I can go back.

Safari 3.1 Released

Safari 3.1 Released – new version has limited support for HTML5, embedded fonts via CSS and more. It’s a pretty solid release, but much more needs to be done to reduce the memory footprint of the app on Windows.

WTF Apple. srlsy?

WTF Apple. srlsy?
So… in order to get functionality that probably should have been included with the iPod touch to begin with… you’re going to charge me $20 for it. Are you out of your effing gourd, Apple?

This is in bad form, especially considering this product is only around four months old, and today’s update was software only and available for free to people who buy the iPod touch today.

I can only hope that the decision to charge for these wasn’t Apple’s idea. After all, if you had an iPod that could almost everything the iPhone could, what motivation would people have to get get the iPhone?

Nike+: 3rd Week

Nike+ Goal: Burn 5000 calories in 4 weeks.

Today marks the start of my fourth week of walking with Nike+. Here are some stats so far:

  • Number of Workouts: 11
  • Total Time: 5.8 hours
  • Total Calories: 5845
  • Total Distance: 15.35 mi
  • Average Pace: 23’06″/mi
  • Farthest Workout: 2.56 mi
  • Fastest 1-Mile: 20’51″/mi

I have not been tracking weight loss, though I should. (I’m hoping to buy a scale here in the next month or so.) So far though, I am really pleased with my progress. I feel better. My pace is quickening with each walk. I’ve logged some fairly long walks, and each is helping to build my stamina more and more.

I set several goals for myself after my first walk with Nike+. This morning I accomplished one of my goals: burning 5000 calories in four weeks. I succeeded with 8 days to spare. My next caloric goal is to burn 6000 calories in four weeks. It’s a little more aggressive, but not impossible. As far as my other two goals are concerned:

  • Walk 50 times in 16 weeks: I have walked 10 times. I am current 1 walk ahead of my target.
  • Walk 100 miles in 16 weeks: I have logged a total of 13.3 miles towards this goal. I am 5.1 miles behind my target, but I’m confident that I’ll be able to regain momentum in this area by walking more frequently. I’ve been averaging around 3 walks a week. This week I’ve walked four times, and plan on walking at least two additional times this week. If I can bump my average to around 6 walks a week, logging at least 1.1 miles per walk, I should be able to reach this goal without a problem.

Walking has become a game of sorts for me. Yes, there are obvious health benefits that come with exercise, but right now I am enjoying the improved walk times, pace, distance, etc. AND getting exercise. It doesn’t feel like work or a chore, because I am having fun with it.

RunnerPlus has been invaluable with keeping track of my daily progress. Look for another update in the coming weeks.

iPhone owners to get $100 credit

Fact: Early adopters always pay too much for new technology. Yesterday’s announcement that the iPhone would be receiving a $200 price drop created a pretty strong backlash. Enough so that an Open Letter to iPhone Owners from Steve Jobs was posted to the Apple website today. Long story short, if you bought an iPhone anytime in the past two months, you’re entitled to a $100 Apple Store or Apple Online Store credit for use towards any Apple products. Sure, it’s not the $200 extra you paid on the iPhone, but heck… it’s a down payment on one of the new iPod nano’s you’ve been drooling over since yesterday.

Safari on Windows

Safari 3 Installation Welcome Screen

I think that it’s pretty safe to assume that by this point you’ve either used Safari on a Mac or you haven’t. I’ve used Safari for a number of years, but it has never become my browser of choice. Why? Quite simply: Firefox is more extensible and Camino is quicker on a Mac.

The introduction of Safari 3 to XP and Vista definitely changes the playing field. It’s tough to say whether Safari will enjoy the same sort of growth that Firefox has experienced over the past couple of years, but being available on both Mac and PC now certainly can’t hurt.

Browser Testing

Safari 3 Beta on Windows is going to make browser testing that much easier. Seeing as the iPhone will use Safari as it’s browser du jour, Windows designers/developers will be able to develop and test applications for it without having to own a Mac. I own two older Macs, and will test sites in Safari from time to time, but it’s never been a high priority for me. (Heck, even my site has some issues with the footer in Safari… which I hope to address soon.)

Safety

Because it’s not heavily integrated into Windows, you breathe a little bit easier knowing that the browser (probably) isn’t going to suffer from the same problems/exploits that Internet Explorer has to deal with.

Typography

Safari’s also going to change the way you view things on the web. Seriously. Have you seen how gorgeous typography looks in Safari? Microsoft ClearType can’t touch it. Neither can any other browser on Windows. I can only hope that Microsoft and Mozilla see Safari on Windows and work to improve how type looks in the browser. Aliased type is easier to read, and gives sites more of a printed-word feel, in my opinion.

Gateway Drug

Oh, and did I mention that Safari is yet another Apple gateway drug? Between Quicktime, iTunes and now Safari, Apple is attempting to bring part of the Mac experience to PC users. The best thing Apple ever did was open the iPod up to Windows. It makes sense for Apple to release (free) software for the PC as long as it serves as a mechanism to get PC users to buy Mac hardware.

All in all, the introduction of Safari can only be a good thing for users. It probably won’t become the browser of choice for a number of them, but having a choice is what’s most important.

An Apple Retail Void

Apple Retail Map*sigh* So many Apple retail stores, and yet, the nearest stores to the Augusta, Georgia area are at least two hours away. Apple now has over 170 retail locations globally, and a majority of those are in the continental United States. Augusta (specifically Columbia County) or even Columbia, SC would make prime locations for an Apple Store, and yet we’re not feelin’ the love.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are lots of other “Apple Retail voids” in the country… some much worse than in our area… but I think Apple’s missing a big opportunity in our area. Ours is filled, and I use that term loosely, by a dedicated Apple section in a CompUSA.

  • Columbia County is one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Georgia.
  • The 2005 population was 103,812 and growing quickly.
  • The median income for a household in the county is around $55,682, and the median income for a family is around $61,232.
  • More County facts: We have grown from 9,525 in 1950 to more than 100,000 in 2004. Rapid growth has transformed this county from a rural neighbor of Augusta to the major suburban county in the second largest metropolitan area in Georgia. There are many reasons for our rapid growth (65% during the ’80s and more this decade) – a growing and diversified job market, a premier school system, affordable land, open spaces lending an air of the countryside, and a stable, conservative county government. Columbia County is predominantly residential and includes a highly-skilled workforce. Household income levels rank third among Georgia’s 159 counties.

Please, please, please, Apple… consider making a home here.

Cisco and Apple Settle

So, the Apple v. Cisco showdown has finally been resolved. Hallelujah.

AppleInsiderCisco and Apple settle iPhone trademark dispute

Cisco and Apple said Wednesday that they have resolved their dispute involving the “iPhone” trademark.

Why do I get the impression that this is far from over? Sure, they’ve declared a cease-fire… but what’s going to stop Cisco from firing back when/if the iPhone becomes incredibly popular? Cash… hard cold cash. And stacks and stacks of it. Oh yeah…

Under the agreement, both companies are free to use the “iPhone” trademark on their products throughout the world.

This dillutes the iPhone brand for both sides. Sure, Apple will probably promote their iPhone as the “Apple iPhone”. And most people (I hope) are going to be able to tell the difference between a VOIP phone and a cellphone. But is the market big enough for two iPhone products? Only time will tell.

Both companies acknowledge the trademark ownership rights that have been granted, and each side will dismiss any pending actions regarding the trademark.

Translation: “Apple gave us enough cash to have amnesia. We’re BFFs now! Wait, what were we talking about?” – Cisco

In addition, Cisco and Apple will explore opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security, and consumer and enterprise communications.

Other terms of the agreement remained confidential.

Sounds like Cisco got what it wanted… plus, loads of cash. What did Apple get out of it? A monkey off of it’s back, and freedom to continue using a name essentially thrust upon them by the public and media. Don’t get me wrong, I like ‘iPhone’… but it’s very vanilla… People were going to lynch Steve if he didn’t deliver the goods.

Design Quote

Fantastic quote by famed Apple product designer, Jonathan Ive:

“I don’t want to see a designer wagging his tail in my face. I want to see a problem solved, and in a way that acknowledges its context.” – Jonathan Ive