It’s a geek’s dream week: CES and Macworld. There have been two announcements that have caught my attention.

A photo of HP's MediaSmart ServerThe first is Microsoft’s Windows Home Server, which will be sold by HP and other vendors. It makes it easy to share files and stream video, music, and photos to PCs and Xbox 360s at home, access your files remotely, and automatically backup your data onto the server’s hard drives, which you can add or replace while the server is on. It’s aimed at homes who have more than one PC. The server does not have a display, keyboard, or mouse; you administer it on the PCs you already have via a web browser. And you wouldn’t have to do much administering at all ā€” the user interface looks to be quite simple.

Some geeks are already proclaiming that there’s no need for Windows Home Server, since there are already open-source NAS that you can install on top of a Linux box. Give me a break: Windows Home Server is meant for people who don’t know what “NAS” stands for and don’t want to administer a Linux box. I want one.

A photo of Apple's iPhoneThe second announcement is, of course, Apple’s new iPhone. It looks absolutely stunning, and the user interface looks way beyond any other phone or PDA out there. But now I have a few burning questions.

  • Can I write my own programs for the iPhone? It has some version of OS X.
  • How does the iPhone’s OS X compare to Mac’s OS X?
  • Can I upgrade the iPhone’s software like I can upgrade a Mac?
  • Can I get access to the accelerometer, proximity sensor, or ambient light sensor?

If I can write iPhone applications, then the iPhone would make a wonderful research platform for mobile devices. If not… well, it wouldn’t surprise me, since Apple has a history of being closed (see the iPod). I hope they prove me wrong.

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