iTunes 4.9 released today, and I couldn’t be happier. The newest update has built-in podcast catching abilities, and I’m very impressed so far. I was counting the days until I could uninstall iPodder. Read more about it here and here.

Also, updates to the line of 4th gen iPods.

Anyone who has talked to me about technology stuff the past 5 months or so knows that I’m a tremendous fan of Apple computers and the iPod. It hasn’t always been this way. When I was working at the newspaper, we used old iMac desktops that got the job done, but the experience never really blew my socks off, mainly because I used OS 9.2 on the Macs, and Windows XP on my home machines, and in contrast XP just looks cooler than OS 9.2.

I realized Apple might be onto something when Lauren and I bought our first iPods a few years ago, and I was able to use iTunes. I quickly learned that iTunes was a superior piece of software, encompassing everything that I believe software should be: usable. This is not to mention that iTunes also allowed me to buy music legally, song by song. I bought a Mac Mini a couple months ago, and I quickly realized that OSX is superior to Windows in many ways. In order to become more fluent in OSX and third party apps, I’m now trying to do all my “serious” work on my Mac. That is to say, work that pays the bills.

Last week I forced myself to do some consulting work on the Mac. Mainly lots of formatting and style stuff in Word. This allowed be get my hands into the guts of Mac Word, and I was ultimatally impressed. I’m a tremendous fan of the MS Office Suite, especially Word. But I’ve always used it on my Windows machines, and not so much on the Mac.

The palettes are much more defined and intuitive in the Mac version, and I was more quickly able to save versions of the documents on my flash drive, which appears on the OSX desktop, as opposed to having to dig for it in the My Computer directory on my Windows machine. In short, my work got done faster and better.

The Mac community is also at my service when I need help. Whenever I get caught in a rookie predicament, I log into MacRumors and post a question. I usually receive geek help within minutes. Not a bad experience so far.

Wired has an article today about a pretty impressive piece of technology:

Eugene Mulvihill has constructed a $50,000 Wine Scanner to determine the chemical composition of wine without opening the bottle.

“When you spend $1,000 you want the wine to be perfect,” said Mulvihill. “You are spending more on the wine than the food, and you expect that to be fresh.”

Lubbock City Councilman Gary Boren had some inspiring words in an e-mail sent to me today in response to my proposal for the wireless downtown project.

Mr. Boren seems to agree that a free wireless network downtown would indeed be an asset to the community. The initiative has now been passed on to the Revitalization committee for review. I also look forward to meeting with civic leaders who would like to discuss this.

Lauren and I were downtown last weekend and perused several areas that would be likely candidates for hotspots, although nothing is concrete yet. It was still great to walk the streets and think of how downtown might be different if we were able to introduce a greater technology presence to the area…Undoubtedly, this would provide a remarkable service to both businesses and consumers.

Two weeks ago I was in Austin, and was amazed to see the wireless influence occuring downtown, especially at area businesses and parks. I was so inspired, in fact, that I contacted representatives who played a major role in spearheading Austin’s initiative, Richard MacKinnon and Jon Lebkowsky of Austin Wireless City. Both have provided some excellent initial information for review, and Jon offered to make a trip to Lubbock to help us out, an offer we will no doubt take him up on once we get some more feedback from the City. Lauren and I look forward to having Dr. Rich Rice over for dinner this week, largely to indulge in steaks and lay out the plan of action from here. Rich is literally a walking encyclopedia on fundraising and grant writing initiatives such as this, and he’s also already established in local and national initiatives involving technology, literacy and education.

Bringing free wireless to downtown Lubbock is becoming more and more of an exciting project. Today, I set up a meeting with Dr. Alfonso Sanchez of the TTU Community and Workforce Academy. I had the pleasure to work with Dr. Sanchez last summer on some of the work he is doing with Dr. Rich Rice to bring technology in the form of computers, hardware and connectivity to an area that has none.

In our everyday lives, its easy to forget the luxury that we have in being able to look up information, order prescription medicine, or communicate with loved ones online. Its difficult to consider that there are entire portions of communities that go without this luxury-turned-necessity. This wireless project has the opportunity to be an important element in not only generating greater traffic and revenue to downtown in the form of access to patrons of coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and parks, but also to provide connectivity to those who don’t have access to it otherwise.

This is why I’m working to bring free wireless to downtown Lubbock. This project really sells itself when you look at the facts, and weigh the benefits.