Particle Debris (week ending 1/30) Waffled Windows

Boxee is building a buzz. That's the software package that one can install on a variety of hardware to access TV onthe Internet, for example, Netflix, Hulu, Joost, and others? What's the catch? There is no catch. All of these sources are available on the Internet, Netflix if you have a paid subscription. It's just that no one, for various business reasons, has made it easy to connect all these Internet sources to an HDTV.

Boxee has done that, and it's available for the Apple TV. Here's an introduction to Boxee over at the New York Times.

There have been rumors of an Apple TV "Take 3" update in February. If Apple gets it, they'll figure out how to jump in, go to bat for the consumer and sell a whole lot more hardware. (And iTunes content as well.) Right now, Apple has its head in the sand because it's isolating the Apple TV customer, just like everyone else with their boxes. Boxee might not survive, but the idea will.

The Boxee Blog documents their work.

I have a copy of Windows 7 and have been experimenting with it in Parallels 4. So far, it's running fine. The first and last task I had for IE was to download FireFox 3.

Some writers have suggested that Microsoft is leaning too far backwards to appeal to home users. After all, the whole purpose of Windows 7 is to appeal to those people who decided to pass on Vista. That's why Windows 7 is arriving so quickly, maybe before the end of 2009.

The problem is that, in an attempt to make Windows 7 look simpler for home users, Microsoft is about the business of re-arranging the deck chairs to hide a lot of the functionality of Vista. That squishy middle ground between the consumer and the enterprise, quicksand, is something Apple doesn't do. Enterprise users are free to dig into Mac OS X with UNIX-y geek details, but enterprise users won't like Windows 7 trying to be something it isn't. Worse, one story said that Windows 7 will delete Active Directory support for the home edition - likely to simplify and reduce the footprint. Yikes!

Also future Windows versions are moving to a more modular basis, according to Computerworld. Key features will be dropped to make the next Windows work on modest hardware, and customers will be nickel-and-dimed to add components they might need. Apple has taken a different approach: they've modified Mac OS X but only for specific hardware, like the iPhone and the Apple TV. That seems more sensible to me. Was moving to UNIX the smartest thing Apple ever did? Very likely.

Every one has a favorite list of the best iPhone apps. However, we seldom think of a list for scientists. Over at My Biotech Life, a list of the ten best iPhone (and touch) apps for bio science was published.

Almost every night, on the shows I watch, I see adds for all the cool things one can do on an iPhone. It's almost as if the competition doesn't exist. (Or doesn't have any money.) See the ads named "Check," "Fix," and "Read" in the previous link.

How could a week go by without me mentioning Netflix? The company announced on Thursday that the number of their Blu-ray subscribers jumped dramatically from 500,000 to 700,000 in just one quarter. (Netflix has over 9 million subscribers.)

CEO Reed hastings said that the surge is due to the rapidly falling prices of Blu-ray players. Anyone who doesn't see the magical hand of Hollywood orchestrating all this is not paying attention. Blu-ray's future is secure.

Finally, for all those who followed the Obama Girl during the U.S. Presidential campaign, and wondering what's next, the New York Times reported this week that the group behind those videos, Next New Networks, is retooling and gearing up for technology parody. According to the NYT, Apple is not exempt. Check out Barely Digital's skewerings. The Obama Girl is scheduled for cameo appearances. Joy.