Particle Debris (Week of July 28)

Ther e was a boatload of debris this week. But before I get to that, I'll have to backtrack a little on Apple TV. Back in April, I wrote an editorial about how the Apple TV is very focused and designed not to bewilder the average customer. Things have changed in just 3 months. In the fast-paced world of digital entertainment, the competition is exploiting Apple's severe focus as a weakness. In addition, Netflix is moving fast, aggressively and smartly, even outmaneuvering Apple. So I can't really disagree with Dan Frommer's editorial on Friday. Apple needs to step up the possibilities on the Apple TV or drop from perceived hobby to perceived failure. In this case, perception will carry great weight.

Last week, Mac360 took a close look at Thunderbird and declared that, as a free e-mail program, it's not ready for prime time. The principal complaints were that it's ugly and that it's a complete doofus when it comes to importing e-mail from other apps. Those two items alone are enough to disqualify Thunderbird. I can't disagree.

On Tuesday, IBM announced an Eclipse plug-in that can scan and check code as it's written to uncover coding errors before they work themselves too far into the development cycle. It looks very cool, especially since it can spot security weaknesses. However, it's not cheap, so its really for large enterprise or government organizations. Check it out.

Also on Tuesday, an article I read linked to a very interesting Apple Time capsule, an occasionally humorous retrospective on the growth and use of Apple computers throughout the years.
It's worth a look.

Have you ever wondered how to share apps between two iPhones you have? iPhone Matters wrote up the procedure on how to do it. Because iPhone apps are so small and easy to install, detailed licensing issues are foggy. However, this procedure depends on using a single iTunes account, and the iTunes procedure leads one to believe that the app belongs to an authorized account, not to a single iPhone or iPod touch. Just my opinion.

Cell phone users in California are finding it hard to put that phone down while driving. Handheld mobile phones are illegal when driving since July 1, and the CHP is raking in the dollars from people who can't resist holding a phone to their head while driving. Lame excuses abound. All you iPhone users in California beware - and get that Bluetooth headset soon.

Buggy iPhone 2.0 software is driving Hadley Stone crazy, and he's compared it to Mac OS 9. Someday, we'll look back at the primitive OS on the iPhone, and its crashes, the way we do now when we recall OS 9 extension conflicts.

On Wednesday, I saw a story about local TV news having a death wish. [Subscription may be required.] It really struck home because I spent a lot of time reading, gathering and pondering news. The Internet is where it's at, and most young people are getting their news from reliable Internet sources while the older people are watching Katie Couric with ads for Depends and Viagra. Local TV news is indeed headed for an awakening. The question is, are they powerless to control their fate -- just like the dinosaurs?

Here's a great "serves you right" story. A hacker has been owned by his own work. Hacker H.D. Moore who developed the Metasploit hacking toolkit had his own Website affected by his own hack. Can you spell karma?

On Thursday, I read that the Flip camcorder is the number one selling camcorder in the U.S. Why? Because it appropriates six basic rules for product design from Apple. Recently, TMO reviewed that great little video camera, and there's definitely one in my future. If you're jealous of those Johnny-on-the-spot videos that make the news or YouTube, all you need is one of these in your pocket. For $100.

Finally, On Friday I noted that the FCC has slapped Comcast's wrists for blocking BitTorrent traffic and violating the principles of Net Neutrality. There was no fine levied, but Comcast and other carriers are now on notice. I liked this part: "The commission affirmed that it can and will enforce an open Internet and network neutrality principles."[Applause for FCC please.]

To that end, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published a tool, called Switzerland, on Friday that allows one to test one's ISP for signs of interference with Net Neutrality principles. It's a Python app that you'll have to run from the command line. I've urged them to develop a GUI app for the Mac. We shall see.