January 31, 2005
Let the beverage buying begin...


Once again, the Apple iTunes/Pepsi promotion has begun. Last year the promotion was a million song give-away with one out of three caps on specially marked bottles of Pepsi products being printed with a winning code for a free song download at the iTunes Music Store. This year there are two million caps in circulation AND with each code redeemed, you are entered in a sweepstakes to win an iPod mini. One iPod mini per hour will be given away during the promotion which lasts until April 11. Put your fingers down, your socks back on and put the calculators away - it's a total of 1,680 iPods up for grabs. You can only redeem 10 songs per day, but at that rate you'd have to drink enough soda that diabetes and a kidney transplant would most likely be in your future. But hey, it's your body. Who am I to stand in the way of a free Blue Merle download?

It remains to be seen if the codes will be available at 7-11 stores on the sides of Big Gulp cups like last year. The bonus at 7-11 is that you can get whatever kind of soda happens to tickle your tonsils instead of being limited to Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist.

Commence fizzy, sugary, tasty beverage consumption and let me know if you end up scoring an iPod mini. I'll keep you up to date on my progress as well.

Posted by todd at 02:53 PM
Most Influential Brands

applelogo.jpg minilogo.jpgIt's like deja vu all over again. If you've been reading since this time last year you'll remember that I posted on the 2003 most influential brands report from Interbrand. Well, the votes are in for 2004 and I'm happy to say that Apple made it to number 1 in 2004 beating out Google who claimed the top spot in 2002 and 2003. Selling more than a million iPods a month in the final quarter of 2004 bringing worldwide iPod users to a respectable 10 million helped vault Apple to the top spot.

Google slipped to second place and MINI slipped from third to sixth in 2004 being nudged down by IKEA at number 3, Starbucks at number 4 and Al Jazeera at number 5 - go figure.

I have to say that I'm pretty impressed that MINI is still in the top 10 influential brands worldwide in its fourth year of production. A lot of people thought the MINI would be a fad but I'd venture to say that fads have much shorter lives than four years. To me, and a lot of others, the new MINI is a continuation of a revolution that started in 1959 with the first Mini. I don't think we'll see the new MINI as the next VW Beetle, mainly because MINI is only allowing about 35,000 cars to be shipped and sold in the U.S. each year. That's 35,000 out of approximately 8 million cars sold in the U.S. every year. So as much as people tell me they see MINIs everywhere, only about four out of 1,000 cars on the roads is a MINI.

So there you have it, two of my favourite things, Macs and MINIs, once again reign supreme. The really funny thing about the two products is that each of them has a relatively small, some say insignificant, market share in their respective markets. You can draw your own conclusion from that, but I say that Apple and MINI are two companies that have put quality, design and style ahead of mass marketing and the traditional global domination goals of most products. Macs and MINIs are not for everybody but if you are a fan of quality, style and innovation, I highly recommend them both.

Posted by todd at 10:46 AM
January 15, 2005
Pimp my MINI


Here they are - our MINIs new "shoes". The weather's been pretty sketch here lately so I'll post some better photos once it warms up and I get a chance to wash the car.

All I'm missing is Xzibit telling me that I've officially just been pimped.

So far, I like the ride of the new non-runflat tires. They're much softer.

BTW - I now have road hazard protection in case another flat occurs.

Posted by todd at 04:07 PM
January 11, 2005
Let's get small

Well the Macworld keynote presentation is over and, while I didn't get to watch live, I simultaneously surfed three different internet feeds of the keynote's play-by-play. What I learned is that this year, apparently, Apple has put everything in the dryer on high. Yes, it's Steve Jobs' version of "Honey, I shrunk the Macs." Annonced today was the Mac mini (man I love that name!) - pictured to the left - the latest desktop Mac weighing in at 2.9 pounds and is just barely bigger than 5 CD cases stacked - 6.5" square by 2" tall. No keyboard, mouse or monitor included but at $499, who's complaining. I paid $499 for my 10 Gig iPod less than three years ago. I may have to get one just because I can.

Next on the list of new gear is the iPod Shuffle. The newest and smallest member of the iPod family weighing in at three quarters of an ounce and smaller than a classic pack of Juicy Fruit. The iPod shuffle comes in two flavors - 512 MB or 1 Gig for $99 and $149 respectively.There's no display but as Apple's ads for the new baby-pod say, "Life is Random" and therefore you can listen to your roughly 240 songs in random order or by album. I'd say Apple's targeting the PC user market with this one because of it's USB 2 only connection and inexpensive price tag. Yes, I just said PC people are cheap. We've always known that the biggest complaint from the PC world has been that Apple's gear was too expensive. Well, you all win with the advent of a sub-$500 Mac and an iPod for a single Ben Franklin.

A handful of other Mac software apps were announced but nothing earth shattering for me. Mostly consumer based stuff which I guess is good for the masses. No new laptops or speed bumped processors or anything. Most of the new stuff is scheduled to hit Apple stores on the 22nd of Jan. You can bet I'll be there contemplating the purchase of a new Mac mini. We'll see come a week from Friday.

Oh, and I'll still take the time to watch the keynote address when it's posted but I won't be in a hurry to do so.

We'll return you to your semi-regularly scheduled MINI Cooper news and fun tomorrow.

Posted by todd at 02:03 PM
January 10, 2005
A crappy 9 hour tape delay

As many of you know, I'm quite a fan of all things Mac and I stay up to date on all the latest technology as much as the various forms of media at my disposal will allow. I look forward to the San Francisco Macworld Expo each January as much as any kid looks forward to Christmas and birthdays. Each year the Macworld Expo is kicked off with a keynote presentation, usually, by the King all things Apple, his Steve-ness, CEO of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs. I cancel all appointments, turn the phone off and settle in each year for the live webcast of said keynote address so I can get my yearly dose of Apple-y goodness. This is the time where his Steve-ness shows off new gear that will soon empty the bank accounts and max out credit limits of the Mac faithful - yours truly included.

But the Grinch has come to Macville and pulled the plug on the live webcast this year. Damn! From a press release this morning I learned that there will be a NINE HOUR DELAY before the presentation is available for online viewing. That means I have to wait until 8 PM CST and by then I will have already learned everything that was announced during the keynote address via various news channels. It's like having the Superbowl tape delayed until the next day for cryin' out Pete's sake!

What I'm really worried about is that the reason behind the ax of the live broadcast is not the fear of a wardrobe malfunction or even an embarrasing technical glitch of Microsoftian proportions but that Apple doesn't have much to show this year. No speed testing "bake-offs" between Macs and PeeCees. No U2 appearances. No must-have new gear and no " just one more thing..." from Mr. Jobs. That's what I'm afraid of.

I guess by this time tomorrow I'll know whether I even need to take the time to watch come 8 PM in the evening. I pray that my hopes will not be dashed. I may not sleep well tonight.

(BTW, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek about losing sleep. The alcohol should take care of that.)

Posted by todd at 01:09 PM
January 06, 2005
Microsoft stumbles

During his annual keynote speech at the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates suffered technical glitches thanks to his Windows operating system...

"During a demonstration of digital photography with a soon-to-be-released Nikon camera, a Windows Media Center PC froze and wouldn't respond to Gates' pushing of the remote control.

Later in the 90-minute presentation, a product manager demonstrated the ostensible user-friendliness of a video game expected to hit retail stores in April, Forza Motor Sport. But instead of configuring a custom-designed race car, the computer monitor displayed the dreaded "blue screen of death" and warned, "out of system memory."

The errors which came during what's usually an ode to Microsoft's dominance of the software industry and its increasing control of consumer electronics prompted the celebrity host, NBC comedian Conan O'Brien, to quip, "Who's in charge of Microsoft, anyway?"

Gates, who was sitting next to O'Brien on a set staged to look like NBC's Late Night set, smiled dryly and continued with his discussion."

The whole story is here.


Posted by todd at 12:31 PM
New stripes, ice and a flat tire update

During the ridiculously warm weather we had last new year's eve day, I gave the MINI a much needed wash and decided to finally pull off the factory bonnet stripes. I had been meaning to do this for some time. I was initially just going to replace the stripes with similar stripes only a little bit longer so they wrap around on each end because the factory stripes stop about a quarter of an inch short of each end of the bonnet. Anyway, I thought I should experiment a little and this is what I came up with.

Since I wasn't sure I was going to want to keep the stripes, I used a temporary vinyl I use for mocking up designs. It's not as permanent as the high performance 8-year vinyl I normally use so it's easily removable. I think I like the new stripes. If I decide to make them permanent, I think I'll outline all the white with a dark blue pinstripe to fold in the colors of the Union Jack on the roof. Now I'm left waiting for another warm spell to fiddle with it some more.

Speaking of warm spells, we've been having the exact opposite of that lately. A lot of ice, some snow and a dose of cold is on the menu this week. 50,000 plus people in the KC area lost power Tuesday from ice bringing down powerlines and trees into power lines etc. The picture below is of my neighbor's yard across the street where a fairly good sized tree decided to give out under the weight of the ice. Luckily it fell away from their house.

The MINI is parked safely in the garage and at 16 months old has still yet to be driven in wintry weather. The Scion drives like a champ on snowy streets so why bother. Plus, with the flat I had last week, the MINI is rolling on three factory runflats and one Dunlop performance tire. My flat couldn't be repaired and the only tire available was a $200 Dunlop 9000 Sport. Very nice tire, but I'm not eager to test the performance of the MINI on mismatched tires. My plan is to get new wheels and tires in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned...

Posted by todd at 11:34 AM