Strange New World: Picks of the Week

This week's picks have us placing our health information in the hands of almighty Google, returning to the couch to watch some Netflix, and planning a trip to Pittsburgh for a hockey game. Here are the Picks of the Week:

1. Google Health

Google's foray into health care goes live this week. Well, maybe not so much live, but it's the permanent beta that Google is famous for. Google Health is not like WebMD or other health Web sites.

It's a place to keep all your medical information in one area. Site users enter all their health information into their profiles and the site alerts users to drug interactions and gives other helpful news. You can even upload your medical records.

The site is more of a medical portal than an Internet doctor's office, which is good because that's what Google does well. It has an index of medical Web sites and will help you locate the right doctor for you once it has all your info.

There may be some security concerns, though. You tap the site with your universal Google log in, and with so many services now under that, if someone gets your Google password he or she would have access to extremely personal details about you.

2. Netflix Player by Roku

Netflix, the online DVD rental company, recently launched a successful streaming movie service. Now, by teaming with Roku, it has managed to take these movies from the PC to the TV.

The new player competes directly with the Apple TV set top box, but it only costs $100 upfront. It works with your existing Netflix account and is automatically updated when you update your queue online. When movies you would like to stream become available, it lets you know.

It also has some stellar connectivity options (HDMI, S-video, composite and component ports). The tiny device isn't quite as sleek as the Apple TV, but it is small enough that you won't notice it. It doesn't have access to the complete Netflix library, but Netflix is updating the library of streamable movies all the time.

3. Stadiums Get High-Tech

In a country where we can barely build a bridge, we're in the midst of a stadium building boom. According to the Sports Business Journal, $27 billion has been spent on college, minor league and pro sports facility construction here in the United States over the past 10 years. While we think America might be better off if we spent that kind of money on some other things, like better broadband networks, we love the innovation that goes into these buildings.

Take Pittsburgh. This newly high-tech city is scheduled to open a new hockey arena in 2010, and plans are in the works to make it a technological marvel. The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Pittsburgh Technology Council asked local tech companies to pitch their ideas for the Penguins' new home, and 63 companies answered the call.

We didn't get to see specific ideas, but if you take a look at the companies that made pitches, it's a safe bet there is some very cool stuff in the works for the new place. There will be fancy video boards, and touch screens for ordering your hot dogs and beer. There will be support for fans with their smart phones, including game-specific content. Heck, there was even one company that apparently wants to use robots to clean the floors in the new place -- you know we love robots!

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