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Couch surfing 2.0

This past weekend saw my girlfriend and I buying a couch for my bedroom – I’ve wanted a comfortable reading and napping platform in there for ages, but always thought an armchair would be enough – and looking silly in the IKEA parking lot trying to get the flat-packed-for-our-convenience boxes into the back of her car. Assembly only took an hour, and it has to be said that Lady Gaga’s album “The Fame” is ideal for such brainless activity, if nothing else. Certainly it can be good for nothing else.

Apart from looking very out of place, this couch (I hereby name it Karl Lagerfeld) has changed the two-point dynamic of my bedroom space. Before, I was either in bed or sitting at the computer. This meant that I’d be online most of the day, either working or wasting time on the internet. Often, there was nothing to separate the two.

But now, a third place for my ass exists, and that has changed everything. No longer confined to this desk, strapped down by continuous IM messages and the climbing number of Unread Items in my feedreader, I’m finding it possible to finally sprawl out and read a good book or watch a DVD. Nobody enjoys a film from a computer chair.

It was all good going already, and then last night I rediscovered Boxee.

An earlier alpha version, tried out during the pre-Karl days, didn’t really appeal to me. For those who don’t know, Boxee is “media center” software that gives you a big, simplified interface for accessing your media from across the room with a remote control. Very much like Apple’s built-in Front Row, or the one that comes with some versions of Windows. So when I was seated right in front of the computer, there was no need for it. From the couch though, it’s incredible.

With just the simple old 6-button Apple Remote that comes with almost every Mac, Boxee not only gives me access to locally stored video files (if you rip your own DVDs [or even download films] or TV shows, it downloads cover art and synopses from the internet to accompany them, very slick), it also plays content from providers like Joost and Hulu (US-only), as well as video podcasts like BoingBoing.TV and Rocketboom.

Another alternative is Plex (Mac OSX only), which I’m about to try out today. Both programs sprang from the open-source Xbox Media Center (XBMC) project.

It’s got me thinking that one day, I won’t even want a traditional desktop in my home. A large, wall-mounted high-definition TV with a wireless keyboard/mouse on the couch can simplify things to just a single location: workspace, reading area, and bed. Kinda like this guy.

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