Strange New World: Tech Picks of the Week

If elected, Obama will reportedly create a cabinet-level chief tech officer.

Oct. 24, 2008— -- This week, as our strange new world continues to weather its economic crisis, our thoughts turn toward big events in the future. If that dude from Illinois wins the election, he might appoint an uber-nerd. If you planned on doing your holiday shopping at Circuit City, you might want to get there soon. And if you have a TiVo, you just got movies on demand, as well. Here are our picks of the week:

This Country Needs a CTO?

BusinessWeek reports that if Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wins the presidency, he would create a cabinet-level post of chief technology officer for the United States. Some of the names being mentioned in connection with this post are Internet heavyweights, like Google's Vint Cerf and Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos. Some say that Obama might go another way and choose an academic, like Princeton computer science professor Ed Felton. While this is all speculation, this post sounds like a great idea. It might be time to centralize all the major technology issues under one guy. This "Geek Czar" could sort out issues, like nationwide broadband integration and take the "whitespace" issues off the Federal Communications Commission's plate.

TiVo Gets Into the Movie Business

OK, that headline is a little misleading. There is no new TiVo Studios, but it is getting into the movie distribution game. TiVo announced that its subscribers will soon be able to rent movies from Disney and several independent filmmakers, right from the TiVo box. The movies will all be in standard definition, and pricing starts at $2.99 each. Classic films, like "Dumbo" and "The Fox & the Hound" are now available, and new movies, like "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" will follow shortly. TiVo is doing all this through a deal with digital entertainment provider CinemaNow. TiVo users will actually be able to rent movies via CinemaNow's Web site (on the PC or with a mobile phone) and the movies will be waiting on the TiVo box when they get home.

Circuit City to close up to 150 stores

It looks like big-box electronics store Circuit City might be the next victim of the economic situation. The Wall Street Journal reports that it might have to close as many as 150 stores. The rumor is that the company is going to wait until after the holiday season to file. This might be bad for the company but could be a boon for consumers. One man's misery could mean another man's new plasma TV. Look for great deals at Circuit City as we head toward the end of the year. We recommend not spending the extra money on the extended warranty, though.