Particle Debris from the Week of April 14

/> It's been an interesting week. Intuit got through the tax deadline filing without a major hitch, and TurboTax for Mac OS X just keeps getting better and better. No one likes collecting receipts and documents and ploughing through the endless questions, but TurboTax makes it almost fun.

A few years ago, H&R Block abandoned its Apple customers for one year without warning and with no explanation. While they're back on the Mac now, that brief encounter with Tax Cut left a bad taste in my mouth. After that fiasco, I'm back to TurboTax and haven't looked back.

On Monday, Blockbuster started thinking about buying Circuit City. I saw it as handwriting on the wall for those brick and mortar companies that simply rent plastic discs. Jeff Gamet, TMO's Morning Editor, and I noticed that in Denver, a chain called Hollywood Video is going out of business. Big companies have the resources to at least try to act to control their fate, and poor Hollywood Video looks like one of those that hasn't been able to. Even so, I question whether Blockbuster has the technical savvy, if it does acquire Circuit City, to integrate it into their operations and make money. After all, Circuit City just passes on products made by others. That's not a prescription for profits.

Speaking of acquisitions, there was an intriguing opinion article at 9 to 5 Mac on Monday about how Apple may have just hired an attorney who is an expert at acquisitions. Lots of people have made predictions and suggestions about what kind of company Apple might acquire. Sun is certainly not one of them. Neither should Circuit City or any other retail chain be on the list. The best one I've seen lately is Adobe -- that would sync with Apple's ambitions in content creation. A plus is that the two companies aren't very far apart, Cupertino and San Jose. It's intriguing thinking about it. But when it does happen, we'll all sigh, smack our heads, and say, "Of course!"

I'm not sure about the date on this one, but I ran across an article pointed to by one of our readers about how the Switched Digital Video system being tested by the cable companies, through its research arm, CableLabs, is designed to torpedo CableCards and the intentions of Congress. In my opinion, I don't think so. SDV is essential if the cable companies, sans optical fiber, are ever going to successfully challenge satellite providers DIRECTV and Dish Network. CableLabs is already working with TiVo on integrating the SDV boxes to allow continued, unattended recording. Anyone else who says their equipment is not compatible has been asleep at the wheel. It also just shows how slow the U.S. Congress can be dealing with technologies. Laws that try to promote competition are an oxymoron.

The true value of a fiber optic connection, and some of the headaches, were described by Max Kalehoff on Friday when he had Verizon install FiOS, short for Fiber Optic System. For $99/month he's getting phone service and 20 Mbps on the Internet. In my case, I'm paying for an official 6 Mbps with Comcast, but in the past I've routinely averaged 10 Mbps downloads. The other day, doing research for an Apple TV, I ran Apple's suggested speed test at the very bottom of the Apple TV technical specifications page. You'll need a connection with 6 Mbps to be happy with an Apple TV. Here's what I got.

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That's not so bad at all, but I admit, I'm in a neighborhood where I'm not sharing a lot of bandwidth with tech-happy neighbors. By and by, we'll all get to the holy grail of 100 Mbps into our homes.