Particle Debris (Week ending Nov 7)

I am extraordinarily suspicious cloud computing. I think it has its place for corporations who want to make their data available to all their offices and travelers in a uniform way. However, for home users, it's just crazy.

The reason it's crazy for home users is something every Apple customer who follows Apple and Steve Jobs understands: Control. You want to own your data and have access to it when you need to, not when it's convenient for some company.

Moreover, that private data is stored on some server in the sky and could be compromised. Finally, once all your data is on their servers, those service providers will figure out a way to charge you to access your own data.

I can buy a terabyte of storage now for about $250. I can back up that terabyte of data for another $250. I won't be doing any cloud computing anytime soon.

Moving on.

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and that means Black Friday.
I really don't like the sound of that term, but it's innocent enough. It's that time of year when some merchants move their books from the "red" to the "black," that is, profitable for the first time. Still, I'd love to see a better term used.

And that means many of you will be shopping for an HDTV and/or a Blu-ray player. Watch The iPod Observer next week; I'm planning a novel approach that won't be the ordinary buyer's guide or Top Ten Secrets article.

Speaking of HDTV, there's been a lot of news lately on Netflix, and so long as Netflix is making news with its aggressive plans and announcements, when it's of interest to Mac and Apple TV users, we'll cover it.

In fact, I think the all the Netflix moves in 2008 got to its biggest competitor, Blockbuster. We didn't hear much from them for a long time, but on Thursday, Blockbuster chairman and CEO Jim Keyes revealed that his company is preparing a set-top box that would deliver movies on demand. Additional details were not made available.

That's news, but that's also a blunder. If such a service and box is being planned, it's far too late to being playing things close to the vest. Home Theater magazines for Christmas are already in the mail, and it's even too late to think about reviews on the Internet. Worse, in these tough economic times, who's going to buy another box for the living room that does only one thing?

In my opinion, Blockbuster is too late and too clueless.

Finally, I saw an amusing article at Wired about how the U.S. Air Force is lamenting the free-wheeling nature of the Internet and wants to re-write the rules to avoid the hassle of all those nasty people constantly attacking their systems.

When I was at Apple, I formed a personal opinion about the Air Force and the Army. The Army was tech savvy and used Macs when appropriate for added "genetic diversity" and security.
The Army's CTO was a sharp guy. On the other hand, the U.S. Air Force had, in my view, an almost antagonistic relationship with Apple. According to the USAF, Microsoft products were the ultimate solution for all their needs, and Apples were dismissed as toys.

Now, after all these years of Windows mania, the USAF is fed up with all the threats, viruses, break-ins, malware and wants to rebuild an exclusive club, with new protocols and technologies, that will insulate them from the pain of the Internet.

Welcome to the club.

"We'll start with blue," said Information Directorate chief Donald Hanson, using the military term for friendly forces. "If you're not blue, you can't come in," he said according to Noah Shachtman for Wired.

If the USAF hadn't sold its soul to Microsoft and instead focused on advanced UNIX and security technologies, and used the best of the open source solutions available, they'd have spent a lot less money and be in better shape today. Instead, they're issuing a request for proposal (RFP) to help them get out of the fix they put themselves into.

In my tax paying, security minded opinion, the whole course of action has been an expensive mistake.