The MacMini HDTV revolution

Yesterday I was over talking with the team behind Retrevo, the consumer electronics search engine.

We all agreed that Apple TV sucks. More on that in a minute.

But we all notice a trend: hooking MacMinis up to your HTDV. I think it’s a revolution. Revolutions always start small and among the weirdos.

Dave Winer had been on me for a while to get rid of my AppleTV and get a MacMini. As with other revolutions that Dave has started it took me about 1.5 years to get what he was saying and see the brilliance in it. Seriously, he showed me RSS for 1.5 years before I really started using it.

So, a few weeks ago I bought a MacMini, partly to get Dave off of my back and partly to help him test his new software, releasing today.

Now I’m pissed that it took me so long and I’m pissed at the industry that it just doesn’t get what’s coming and they keep trying to lock me into closed boxes like the Apple TV or the Xbox. I have an Xbox too, and a Media Center, so hear me out where I’m going.

Putting a MacMini on my TV is geeky. It’s not for everyone. Damn, I sound just like someone who discovered the Apple II back in 1977. Only the geeks got personal computing back then. Most people thought personal computers were stupid, back then. Heck, Wozniak offered to HP and Atari a chance to build his personal computer. They turned him down because revolutions in this business never are very obvious at the beginning.

Anyway, how is this a revolution? Ask my son. He now plays World of Warcraft on our 60-inch screen. He never really cared about the HD screen before. Or, look at Maryam. She loves putting pictures of Milan up on it. She also is crazy about Dave Winer’s new thing. More on that in a second too.

But why is this a revolution? Easy. It has a Web browser. It’s amazing how often I use the Web browser on the TV. “But you can’t read the fonts,” I can hear you saying. That’s not true. On the Mac keyboard you hold down the “Ctrl” key and then use your mouse’s wheel to zoom in and out.

The MacMini has totally changed my TV into something that’s NOT just a TV anymore. It’s revolutionary after you use it. Especially when you compare to the Xbox’s Media Center Extender (no Web browser) or the Apple TV (no Web browser) or my DirecTV box (no Web browser).

Why isn’t it a mass-market revolution yet? Three reasons:

1. They haven’t seen Dave Winer’s new software running on it.
2. The MacMini is too expensive to be a consumer electronics purchase (it costs about $700, and the Nintendo Wii demonstrated that consumer electronics needs to cost closer to $300, which is what the AppleTV costs, but the AppleTV doesn’t come with a Web browser so is ultimately crippled and will never participate in the new HDTV revolution).
3. It still seems a bit weird to hook a computer up to a TV (although the MacMini is ultra quiet, and cute so that it overcomes two of the previous objections that people had to bringing a computer into the living room).
4. Too many people assume a TV is just for watching TV and haven’t considered doing anything else on it. Sounds like the cell phone market before the iPhone, huh?

Anyway, what does Dave Winer’s new software do? It puts pictures up on my HDTV. “Huh, that’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard,” I can hear you saying. But didn’t you also say that about Twitter? About IM? About the PC itself back in 1977? Yeah, yeah, you did, own up to it.

But it doesn’t just do that. It brings YOUR photos into my house if you put them on Flickr and I add you to my TV set. Even better, it puts professional photography up on my HDTV. Amazing images from around the world.

I love having great photography on my TV from my friends and from the best professionals around the world.

Oh, and the AppleTV does suck. I gave it to Patrick, maybe he can sell it to you so he can afford to buy a MacMini for his house.

Putting a MacMini on my HDTV was the best gadget purchase I’ve made this year.

UPDATE: I’ll demo it live over on as soon as it’s released. Dave tells me that should be tonight sometime, although it’s software so we’ll Twitter about it as soon as it’s done.

UPDATE2: we’ll be demoing it LIVE at 9 p.m. on my Qik channel. You can participate by leaving comments — I’ll see those on my cell phone.

Dave Winer's thoughts on the meaning of Amazon's infrastructure

Dave Winer: Amazon removes the database scaling wall.

I’m calling this “open infrastructure.” It’s totally shocking to me that Google and Microsoft are just letting Amazon take developers over this way. I would NEVER have predicted that a “retailer’s” infrastructure would be used by so many startups. Totally amazing. This is going to develop as one of the biggest disruptions of our time. Where is Ray Ozzie? Oh, Steve Gillmor seems to know what Ray is up to but it’s amazing to me that Ray is letting Amazon take over the infrastructure platform world and all sorts of developers with it. Watch what happens next year as Amazon moves this infrastructure into enterprises. Of course I’m sure that all the Enterprise Irregulars will say I’m smoking something illegal, but let’s meet up again in a year and see what happened.

A new way to surf the New York Times

If you’re a news hound you won’t want to miss what Dave Winer shipped yesterday. It lets you dive into the New York Times by clicking on an outline. Thanks Dave, this is MUCH nicer than even the far flashier, but much more heavyweight “readers” that Microsoft did for the New York Times.

But, the problem is that most people won’t understand this cause it looks too simple.

If you don’t get what Dave is doing, that’s OK. It always takes ME about a year to really get his more disruptive stuff. I thought RSS was too simple when I first saw it too.