So I'm quick to point out flaws in Apple products, mostly because the rest of the world, including the tech and mainstream press, just gives them a pass. I have, however, had a few notable and positive Apple-related experiences in recent days. And they bear some discussion.

iPhone 2.1 software update. So far so good. I haven't dropped any calls since updating, yet, and my 3G experience has actually been noticeably better in a few places, which surprised me. Have they actually fixed this thing? I can't say yet, but I like what I see so far.

Genius. It's more "serendipitous" than "genius," but I like this iTunes 8 feature because it makes good playlists. Consider the act of manually rating all of your songs with 1 to 5 stars and then trying to create playlists out of that. In some cases, it works fine ("best songs by a certain group") but in others, it just falls on its face ("all 5 star rated songs, which will include songs by both Van Halen and new age pianist David Lanz in my case). Genius is fun and it adds a crucial feature iTunes has never had in any viable form: Music discovery.

iTunes 8. OK, Apple has slowly converted iTunes into a Windows Media Player clone over the years, but one thing they've finally gotten right in 8.0 is performance. iTunes has always been a dog in Windows, and it's still not up to WMP standards, but it is also much better than it was before.

Apple TV. I've had every digital media set-top box through my home recently and you know what? The Apple TV still beats them all. How is it possible that not a single Windows-oriented hardware maker has come even close? This is shameful. Adding to the shame: The Apple TV is something of a joke on the Apple side because it sells poorly. What the heck is wrong with people?

MobileMe. No, MobileMe still stinks, but at least now you can remove it. And if you do a clean install of iTunes 8 for the first time--get this--MobileMe isn't even installed. This proves that Apple at least occasionally listens to its customers. The best feature of MobileMe, then, is that you don't have to have it installed behind your back.