How many subscribers?

I read an article that included the number of Netflix subscribers. I got to wondering how that number compared to other subscription entertainment services. I did a quick googling and found the following.

TiVo - 2.3 million

XM Radio - 3.2 million
Dish Network - 10.4 million
Sirius Radio - 1.1 million
Netflix - 2.6 million
DirecTV - 4.2 million


Media Center Project

If you haven't already checked it out, there is some amazing stuff going on over at the Mac Media Center Project. The forums are an interesting read. I hope something real comes out of all of the discussion.


Mac mini plans

I plan to buy a Mac mini. I have big plans for it. I'm relatively new to Apple computers, so I have a few things to learn. Over the next few weeks I plan to keep a log here of what I'm learning and what I'm looking at getting to build my new toys.

To start, I'm waiting for Tiger before I buy my Mac mini. There are things in Tiger, Dashboard for one, that I want and I don't feel like upgrading within a month of getting my Mac mini. So what tasks am I looking to throw at the Mac mini?

* iTunes - I want to move my entire iTunes collection on to the Mac mini. It currently lives on a Windows XP box and I'm running out of space. I'd prefer to keep the entire thing on one drive, so I'm going to need a few dozen gigs.

* iPhoto - I have an iBook at work so I've had a chance to play with iPhoto a lot. I love it. The new version in iLife '05 looks even better. I have a lot of photo sets begging to be turned in to nice productions, whether those be movies or photo books.

* DVD Player - My biggest goal is a DVD server. I want all of my DVDs to be available at the touch of a button. I don't want a 400 disc DVD changer. I like having the discs in their cases if I need them. I don't want more components in my AV stack. The problem is I'm going to need a bucket of hard drives if I'm going to keep full rips around. I blog more about this later.

* DVR - Again, I'm going to need a lot of disc, but DVArchive running on the Mac mini would give me a nice place to dump off some shows when the ReplayTV is getting full.

* Superdrive - I don't yet own a DVD burner. Adding one to my Mac mini is only $100. It's more than many on the market, but I'm hoping to ditch my WinXP box at some point, so why would I want to buy hardware for it? The Superdrive will let me burn all of those iPhoto projects and who knows, at some point I might start doing visuals to go with my DJ mixes.

* Garage band - If nothing else, this will be fun to play with for a few afternoons.

* Bluetooth development - Apple's Bluetooth software is easily the best I've seen. I've got a few apps in mind that would be fun to write. I might even get excited about programming enough to do it outside of work again.

* iPod syncing - I really like that I can store contacts on my iPod but syncing them up is crap. I don't want to use 4 different apps that must be manually started. It just needs to happen. I need to look in to this a little more, but I think Address Book plus iSync is going to be what I need.

I can already see where this is going and I think I'm falling right in line with Apple's plans. I'm going to get a Mac mini and feed it so many tasks that eventually I'm going to need a Power Mac or iMac to go in the computer room to help the little buddy out. Now, when does the 1TB LaCie FireWire drive that costs $200 come out? I'm going to need a few of those.


ActiveSync - More bane than boon

Why oh why is ActiveSync such a stinking pile of crap? People like to talk about how great their OS is based on how often they have to reboot. For me, I'd hardly ever reboot XP if it weren't for the devil that is ActiveSync.

Why does ActiveSync lose its mind and refuse to sync up so often? As near as I can tell from a little googling, ActiveSync was first released (as ActiveSync) in August of 1999. Microsoft has had over 5 years to make this thing bulletproof, yet I have problems with it daily, and I'm not the only one. I would think that a tool that is so important, not only to their developers, but also to their Windows Mobile users would always work.


Mac mini madness

Ok, time for me to weigh in on the Mac mini.

I think the Mac mini will be a success. I'm not convinced it will be a massive success (yet), but it will be a success. Why?

- It has a face. It has a name. That means it has an identity. I think Apple's focused product line is a good thing. Can you name Dell's product line? Can you name Sony's or IBM's? I bet you can name a good portion of Apple's. That's important. People like to feel like they are part of something. Now it takes just $499 to be part of the next computer world shake up.

That shakeup is the switchers, the virgins, and the bis. No, you didn't accidently browse to one of "those" sites. I'll explain the terms, be patient. Apple already has switchers. I think the Mac mini will draw even more. The virgins are those kids that got iPods and love them. As they age, they'll need a first computer. The Mac mini is that computer. The parents already have a spare monitor sitting around from when they upgraded to an LCD. Shell out $500 and that kid is rocking. The parents are happy because they got their PC back and the kid is happy because they'll have the hippest computer on the block.

- Media center - This is for the Bis. I guess this is me. I'm a Windows guy at home, but I so long to be something else. I "grew up" on Unix, but I've never really cared for Linux. I've dabbled off and on with Linux, but it was far too do-it-yourself to ever penetrate my free time enough to get a foot hold. I first started looking at Apple again with OSX. I loved that it had a command line. I loved that vi came installed. I loved that it looked and felt nicer than Windows. I started to covet it. I got an iPod and I adore it. I use it for hours every day. I often tell people it is the 2nd best piece of technology I ever bought (my ReplayTV is the 1st). I'm ready to buy a Mac. I will buy a Mac mini and become a bi, meaning I won't turn off my Windows PC...yet. Who knows? Maybe I will end up a switcher, but my job will keep me a bi for quite some time.

The Mac mini will become my media center. It will house all of my purchased iTMS songs. I hope to make it serve up ripped DVDs (my own collection MPAA!) If I can add on DVR on the cheap, it will be that too. I know a few other guys that will pick up a Mac mini for these same purposes. I'd imagine there are others like us.

- iLife - Apple needs to push this more. Any PC moron can convince someone to not buy a Mac mini when they start talking about Mhz and RAM quantites. The Mac mini isn't about specs. It's about an experience. It's about a small shape. It's about quiet operation. It's about fewer wires. It's about software that works and software that works together! iLife is an incredible assortment. To buy comparable apps on the Windows side would cost a mint. Conveniently, the PC morons ignore this. Buy the Mac mini for what you see, keep it for what you don't :)


- The Mac mini will do well its first year. I'm going to guess 3 million units, which is quite a bit more than Apple is selling in any current computer product.
- An accessories market will take off, just like it did for the iPod. Get ready for Mac mini shaped peripherals like big harddrives, HDTV tuners, digial audio break out boxes, add-on burners, and multi-port power cables to connect it all.
Get ready for wall-mounts, hardcases, and Mac mini sweaters.
- The case modders from the PC world will try their hand at the Mac mini. We'll see a glowing Apple logo (like the notebook computers) in no time. We'll see installation in cars, walls, and PCs. We'll see a terrabyte setup, and we'll see clusters of these installed, just for the hell of it.
- OSS for OSX will grow. More and more of the "linux guys" will migrate to Apple and they'll want their software there. Expect more ports and more new products.
- Libraries and schools everywhere will pair the Mac mini with whatever cheap monitor they can buy in bulk. Again, the software included with the Mac mini is just about all a school would ever need. Maybe they'll add the iWork suite, or even Photoshop CS, but outside of that, they have quite a bit to keep the kids productive, and happy.

One last thing. Put Bluetooth in when you buy a Mac mini. It isn't a bad technology. It's a good technology. In fact, Apple makes Bluetooth work better than anybody. Even if you don't use it now, you will find uses for it in the future.

Ulrich on iTMS

Back in November I was telling you how much I was digging Ulrich Schnauss. I just saw that they put his album "A Strangely Isolated Place" up in the Electronic section of the iTunes music store. I suggest you go give it a listen. "On my own" and "In all the wrong places" are two of my favorites.