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Nov 30
Apple patents range from virtual keyboards to media...

Several Apple patents have been granted by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7844914 involves activating virtual keys of a touch-screen virtual keyboard. A touch location is determined based on location data pertaining to touch input on the touch screen, wherein the touch input is intended to activate one of the plurality of virtual keys. Each of the plurality of virtual keys has a set of at least one key location corresponding to it. For each of the virtual keys, a parameter (such as physical distance) is determined for that virtual key that relates the touch location and the set of at least one key location corresponding to that virtual key. The determined parameters are processed to determine one of the virtual keys. For example, the determined one virtual key may be the virtual key with a key location (or more than one key location, on average) being closest to the touch location. A signal is generated...

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Nov 30
Apple patent involves handling special windows in a...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7844902) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for an apparatus and method for handling special windows in a display. It could foreshadow some changes in upcoming versions of Mac OS X.

The apparatus and method for handling special windows in a display comprises a window manager in an operating system that is called by application programs to create special windows. The window manager embeds static key signals including encoded special window information, such as the coordinates of a window area to be specially processed, into a video RAM. An existing video interface scans the video RAM and transmits display information, including the key signals, to the display.

The present invention further comprises a window decoder in the display, that detects the key signals, extracts the encoded special window information, and controls display circuitry performing the desired special processing. The key signal encoding scheme does not...

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Nov 30
Apple wins patent for 3D display system

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7843449) for a three-dimensional display system. Don't expect Macs with 3D displays anytime soon, but they may be coming -- and without the need for special glasses, if Apple has its way. After all, Intel's Sandy Bridge processor will debut in January and will certainly arrive in Macs next year. And the processor offers native support for 3D stereoscopic video playback (as well as Blu-ray and USB 3.0).

The patent -- invented by Christoph H. Krah -- involves a method of displaying three-dimensional images providing a projection screen having a spatial filter defining a predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function. It also: determines the left and right eye locations of at least one observer in proximity with the projection screen; projects left and right sub-images of a three-dimensional image toward the projection screen; and angularly and intensity modulaties the left and right sub-images respectively in coordination...

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Nov 30
Blu-ray disc sales grow 80% year-over-year

I'm pretty sure we'll never see Apple support for Blu-ray playback on the Mac platform because Steve Jobs is convinced all movie purchasing will soon be via download (I think he's wrong), but I'm still hoping that Apple will at least provide the "hooks" in Mac OS X to allow third parties to release plug-and-play Blu-ray players for my favorite computing platform.

And I think there's plenty of evidence that this makes sense. According to figures released in October by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, consumer purchases of Blu-ray Disc software reached US$1 billion by Sept. 30. Sales increased 80% over the same period of 2009.

Hardware sales also continued to climb, with over three million standalone BD players sold in the first nine months of the year -- a year-over-year increase of 104%. This brings the total installed base of Blu-ray playback devices in the U.S. to 21.1 million units. DEG president Ron Sanders (also is president of Warner Home Video) has...

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Nov 30
Greg's bite: Apple's Living Room Aspirations...

By Greg Mills

As an Apple fan and a believer in the wisdom of most of what comes out of Cupertino, I bought the most recent Apple TV device and have used it quite a bit since it was first launched. As I noted in this space on a number of occasions I think there is an opening for Apple to challenge the cable/satellite TV content providers, since a lot of people hate them, but it won't be easy and it is not happening yet for Apple. The numbers aren't right yet.

We see the decline of physical media for digital video content delivery, to be sure, but what is replacing video tapes and disks isn't steaming video over iTunes, but rather NetFlix and other streaming content providers with affordable, flat rate monthly plans. Apple TV's iTunes video content available for streaming is way too expensive; the one-off, rental "go to market plan" needs drastic reworking to succeed.

When you analyze the video content offered by Apple TV and the attempt to rent...

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Nov 29
Holiday survey looks good for the iPhone, iPad

PriceGrabber, a part of Experian, has released its second holiday spending consumer behavior report, "A Deep Dive into Online Holiday Spending Trends." And it's good news for the iPhone and iPad.

In PriceGrabber's holiday survey, consumers were asked which smartphone they would prefer to receive as a gift this holiday season. The iPhone took the lead, with 47% of consumers choosing the iPhone 4 over other smartphones. Twenty-two percent of shoppers prefer the Motorola Droid, and 13% choose the RIM Blackberry Torch as the smartphone they would like to receive.

When it comes to devices that consumers prefer for e-reading, 59% of consumers selected the iPad as their device of choice. Twenty-one percent of consumers pick the Amazon Kindle. Five percent selected the Barnes & Noble Nook, and 3% choose the Dell Streak as their preferred e-reader.

Tablet computers are forecast to be one of the most popular technology gadget gifts this holiday season. The number of...

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Nov 29
Greg's bite: Iran should sue Microsoft, Steve...

By Greg Mills

Despite repeated attempts to purge industrial controllers running Iranian plutonium centrifuges and the control systems of their new nuclear reactor (still not on line) the Stuxnet worm continues to wreak havoc.  

One has to take a fresh look at the situation and the legal situation posed. While no one has come forward to admit they wrote the Pulitzer Prize worthy malware called Stuxnet, the facts are plenty clear where a giant portion of the blame lies: Microsoft Corp. and its CEO Steve Ballmer.

Much has been written over the years about the "Apple tax," or additional cost of owning and running Macs as opposed to Windows PCs. The truth is that the pendulum has swung in the other direction in the last few years. If you run Windows of any flavor you had better sign up for an anti-malware service or plan to suffer the consequences. While certainly the Mac is becoming a much larger target for hackers due to increased market...

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Nov 26
Apple patents involve credential authorization,...

Four new Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 20100200729 is for server computer issued credential authorization. Methods and systems for authenticating computers is disclosed. The methods and system include issue a credential from a first computer to a second computer. When the second computer authenticates to the first computer, the second computer transmits the credential and a first challenge to the first computer. The first computer determines whether the credential is valid, computes a first response to the first challenge, and generates a second challenge. The first computer transmits the first response and the second challenge to the second computer. The second computer determines whether the first response is valid and computes a second response to the second challenge. The second computer transmits the second response to the first computer in order to verify and...

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Nov 24
Greg's bite: more Stuxnet mischief/Big Brother...

By Greg Mills

My post today is loaded with a number of issues of interest to Apple High tech fans.  

° The iOS 4.2.1 Magic Disappearing Folder Trick I discovered a 0 day bug, in the iPad iOS 4.2.1, just released a few days ago, that Apple was completely unaware of.  I call it "the magic disappearing folder trick."

Here is the way it works. The proud iPad user, who has just updated the iOS on their iPad, laboriously sorts a few hundred apps into the cool new folders and drags them to the home screen or the first two or three screens and figures iPad app organization is complete. (In my case a precious 11-year-old daughter has downloaded a zillion kid apps that I have little interest in.  So I put them in new folders named Games1-7.) 

Then, sometime later, a number of app updates showed up as a red number badge on the blue App Store button. The user mashes the app button and chooses to update some apps over Wi-Fi. You sign in the iTunes...

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Nov 24
MacNews, MacTech on scaled-back Thanksgiving Day...

The "MacNews" and "MacTech" web sites will be following a scaled back schedule this week in honor of the observation of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. We'll be "closed" on Turkey Day itself and will only run critical announcements on Friday.

The gang at MacNews and MacTech wish our readers and advertisers a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 23
Greg's bite: Lost Folder Bug in iPad 4.2.1 ?

By Greg Mills

One of the features in iPad 4.2.1 iOS that is quite helpful is the folders function for sorting apps into categories that recover many of the 10 screens that you can scroll through.  

I loaded the iPad 4.2.1iOS yesterday and began to play around with it. My 11-year-old daughter had downloaded tons of games that I have little interest in -- I haven't launched "Whack a Mole",  personally so far -- so  I spend an hour sorting out 180 apps into games 1-5, weather, graphics, news, etc. I got 10 full screens of apps down to two pages of thoughtful folders, where I can find things I wanted -- and all on only two screens worth of real estate. There are only 10 screens available.

This morning I went to the Apple App store and set my iPad to download 14 updates that were flagged as having new code for the new iOS. When I got back I was shocked to find that my hour of sorting the apps into folders was apparently lost. All the files I set up...

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Nov 23
Apple granted patents for iPhone 4 and iPad designs,...

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Among them are design patents for the iPhone 4 (patent D627,778), the iPad (D627,777) and the iPhone/iPod touch graphical user interface (D627,790). Other patents granted are summarized below.

Patent number 7,840,543 is for a method for sharing groups of objects. The patent is for a method of sharing a group of one or more objects between a plurality of users, in which one or more of said plurality of users is able to change parameter data of at least one said object. The method comprises storing at least one version of each said object; when an object is changed, creating a new version of the object, the new version of the object comprising additional data relating to the creation of the new version; storing the new version of the object together with any version of that object before the change; providing all versions of the object to each of said plurality of users; and using...

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Nov 23
CEO Annual Holiday Study looks good for Apple

The Consumer Electronics Association’s 17th Annual Holiday Study (http://www.digitaltips.org) shows that this year consumer electronic sales will reach the highest level ever reported. And it looks good for Apple.

Despite an overall decline in gift spending, electronic spending jumped 5% from last year's numbers. That equates to an average of US$232 a person to be spent on electronics this holiday season.

So what’s on the top of this year’s holiday wish list? Here’s what the Consumer Electronics Association found to be the top 10 list: notebook/laptop; iPad; eReader; iPod/iPod touch; video game system; digital camera; big screen TV; TV (unspecified); computer (unspecified); and desktop computer (unspecified).

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 23
Greg's bite: the paradox of the Internet

By Greg Mills

I can barely remember when the Internet began to burst on the scene. My first recollection was when my brother, an art professor, mentioned in a phone call about connecting his computer to the Internet.

In those days you had to buy a separate modem costing a few hundred dollars which hooked up to your computer with a clunky serial port cable connector. The modem was the size of a cigar box and ran so slowly it was absurd over a phone line. The very early Internet was text with limited domains and not much in the way of browser software.

About the time the Mac came along a graphic browser called Netscape changed everything. I took a class on the Internet at the local community college and was dazzled by the color displays and search engine that allowed fast research on a lot of subjects. At that time, Yahoo was the big gun in search engines. Google wasn't on-line yet.

The vast potential of the Internet was just dawning on...

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Nov 22
Will the Internet, mobile TV market change the pay-TV...

Is Internet-delivered TV and video content (IPTV) emerging as a threat to traditional pay-TV? In truth, IPTV, in the form that has matured over the past decade, has simply become another type of pay-TV.

Like cable and direct-to-home satellite TV before it, IPTV involves the delivery of high-quality video content to a captive consumer device over a managed network, except that some or all of the content is delivered using broadband Internet Protocol access. The fact is that IPTV, as a set of technologies, represents both a threat and an opportunity for all legacy pay-TV operators, regardless of whether they are cable operators, satellite providers, ISPs or even telcos that offer the TV portion of triple plays by reselling satellite services, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/045be8/...

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Nov 22
Greg's bite: Android fragmentation and Windows...

By Greg Mills

I watch the smartphone situation closely and have discovered articles that illustrate the less-than-viable competition facing the Apple iOS platform. With a new system for the iPad platform coming out any day and iPhone, flying off the shelf, is there anything out there to compete with Apple? If you mention the Android phones or the lame Microsoft platform, guess again.

While Microsoft Vista 7 is being pounded as too little too late by most reviewers, the flood of money Ballmer and company are spending will make some headway in the less astute cell phone buyer market. The embarrassing lack of apps is being hidden first by large blank tiles on the screen of the new Vista 7 cell phones instead of apps and now, it seems by downright fraudulent advertising.

Microsoft, historically, never unwilling to tout vaporware, has done it again to Vista 7 phone buyers. If you buy a Microsoft OS phone expecting it to run "Angry BIrds" since the...

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Nov 19

Greg's bite: Apple's industrial footprint...

By Greg Mills

Sometimes what I write hits a nerve, and I get email from readers giving me fresh information they found. My article regarding what I consider false claims that Apple has gone rogue drew an email from a reader.  

He sent me a link to an article and actually an embedded half hour Video TV news story that ran recently in Australia that loosely linked Apple with Chinese pollution in general and worker injury specifically. It turns out this is old news and not quite what it appears.

The story was researched and written by Steven McDonnell of ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation, not related to ABC news in the USA). The article was well written on the surface, but failed to actually connect Chinese pollution in general or worker injury specifically with Apple's industrial footprint (http://www.abc.net.au/...

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Nov 19
I'm an iPad/MacBook Air man

Well, my goal of using my iMac as my main computer and an iPad with a keyboard as a secondary system for writing articles, checking email, etc., just never panned out. I simply missed having an Apple laptop when I was away from my iMac for an extended period.

Using an external keyboard with my iPad worked okay for short articles, brief email responses and the like. But when I'm doing my daily workload -- which involves jumping between Pages, Mail, Safari and iCal, among other apps. The iOS just isn't up to snuff for that just yet (we'll see if iOS 4.2 changes my mind).

But I do love my iPad. So now I own it and an 11-inch MacBook Air (standard except that I sprung for the 128GB solid state driver rather than the 64GB model). I use my iPad for media consumption (surfing the web, watching videos, reading ebooks, etc.) and my MacBook Air for creating (writing articles, doing research, responding to email, etc.).

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 18
Fiber-in-matrix material patent could hint at future...

An Apple patent (number 20100289390) for a reinforced device housing has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office -- as first reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) that could result in even lighter, but even tougher, iOS devices.

The patent -- invented by Kevin M. Kenney -- is for a housing for an electronic device or other object formed from a fiber-in-matrix material. A layered fiber-in-matrix type material, such as CFRP, may be used. A spine made from CFRP may support, and be attached to, a CFRP skin. The CFRP spine may be a unitary frame that imparts strength and rigidity to the overall housing and also form at least some of the corners of the frame. In some embodiments, the spine may be rectangular.

The skin may be formed from multiple layers of CFRP type material stacked atop each other. Each layer may be cut at one or more corners to expose at least a...

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Nov 18
Apple patents involve radio services, simulcasting

Two Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office indicate the company is looking into ways of beefing up radio services in other iOS devices besides the iPod nano -- and perhaps teh Mac.

Patents 20100291861 and 20100292816 are credited to Apple's Freddy Anzures and team mates Henry Mason and Lucas Newman. The patents were originally filed in Q2 2009. Assignee names don't have to appear on patent applications until they've been grantted. 

Patent number 20100291861 is for content selection based on simulcast data. Per the patent a computer system receives information snippets from a mobile device. The information snippets are extracted from a simulcast of a data stream of a radio broadcast received on the mobile device. The system identifies content metadata from the information snippets. The content metadata describes one or more features of the radio broadcast.

The system selects a radio station from a radio station repository based on attributes of...

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Nov 18
Greg's bite: KinOneM and KinTwoM

By Greg Mills

I read an article that had me checking my calendar to make sure April Fools Day had not sneaked up on me. I was quite sure it is fall and April Fools Day jokes are out of season.  

"Electronista" is running a news article that indicated that, never learning from a good beating, Ballmer and the gang at Microsoft that can't shoot straight is trying again to sell Kin, an underpowered/overpriced smart phones through Verizon. When you can't sell a pile of cow crap because people understand what it is you are trying to sell them, cutting the price won't help.

The Kin was pulled after only six weeks, and there were rumors that they only sold 8,800 units in the grand launch a few months ago. It is unknown how many of the 8,800 Kins that were sold were sold to loyal Microsoft staff. The problem is that the Kin phone is sort of a bastard phone, not quite a full smart phone and a little bit more capable than a standard, just a cell phone...

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Nov 18
Apple will do iWork for Windows

It's probably just a matter of time before Apple ports its iWork apps to Windows. This would be a move that makes sense for a variety of reasons.

The main one is that a Windows version of iWorks would mean more sales of the bundle that includes Pages, Keynote and Numbers. More sales would equal more money to invest in further development of iWork. Apple could then truly turn iWork into a serious Office competitor for those folks who don't need all the bells and whistles of the Microsoft software -- and most folks don't.

Apple could still make the Mac version of iWork "special" by hooking into Mac OS X and iOS features. The company has (sorta) done this already with Safari and iTunes.

So what of iLife? Can we expect a Windows version? I think not. I predict Apple will keep this as a Mac-only suite of products that come free with every Mac. Sort of an extra enticement to buy Apple computers.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 17
Donovan's views: iPad launch: Melbourne, Bondi, 7...

By Gaurang Donovan

On a cold morning three days before the official first day of winter, Melbourne and its two Apple Retail Stores at Chadstone and Doncaster shopping malls provided a warm welcome for the international launch of Apple's iPad for the retail customers who did not already order their iPads through the Apple Online Store.

The line of people waiting at the one-hour-earlier-than-normal opening of the store numbered over 250 buyers at the Chadstone store and over 230 buyers at the Doncaster store. One hour after opening people were still entering the queue that extended into the mall and numbered over 80 in each.

This was not a bad turnout, but the larger iPad numbers are in the courier deliveries for the device. "The Sydney Morning Herald" reported on a bulletin board commentator identifying himself as a driver for a large courier company operating in Australia (but perhaps not known so well outside the country) as having 7,800 iPad...

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Nov 17
Greg's bite: Jobs and Apple gone evil? Not so

By Greg Mills

Those of us who have been Apple fans for over 20 years are struggling to grasp the fact that the little fruity company we grew comfortable with over all those years is suddenly poised to become the most valuable company in the entire world. While the grasping, self serving, "dumb as a bag of hammers" Microsoft path to wealth through the dark side of the force is well known and despised, Apple has a much better reputation for customer satisfaction.

Recently, the stellar success of Apple has bred some rabid hatred from the declining ranks of the PC world and its fan boys. The tongue-in-cheek, (or tongue sticking out rudely) Pope of Anti-Mac, spouts mindless dribble about Malcrosoft being early in launching Windows Vista 7 and its smart phones. Meanwhile, Apple has been racking up billions of dollars and steadily wearing down the barriers to the Mac and iOS platforms, taking over the various niches in business and the consumer markets that...

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Nov 17
iTunes needs a new name, maybe an overhaul

Recently, iTunes was given a new icon (removing the CD), but I think it's time the software received a whole new name. Or, even more radically, is broken up into several different apps.

When iTunes was launched in 1999, it was a simple music player with the ability to do MP3 conversions. Now iTunes is houses music, movies, shows, podcasts and audiobooks. It's the conduit to your iPhone, iPod and iPad. And it's a link to an online store for buying media.

It seems it's time for a name change. iMedia, perhaps?

Or perhaps iTunes on the Mac could be broken up into multiple apps, as it is on iOS devices. It's gotten a bit bulky and and cumbersome on the Mac.

On my iPad there's the Video app (for movies I've bought online and self-made videos), the iPod app (for all my music), iTunes (the online store) and the App Store (for buying apps). (The iPod app also has music videos listed, but it seems to me they should show up in the Video app.)

So perhaps...

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Nov 16
Apple patents range from level shifters to scroll bars

Five new Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7,834,662 is for a level shifter with embedded logic and low minimum voltage. In one embodiment, a level shifter circuit may include a shift stage that also embeds transistors that implement a logic operation on two or more inputs to the level shifter. At least one of the inputs may be sourced from circuitry that is powered by a different power supply than the level shifter and circuitry that receives the level shifter output. Additionally, the level shifter includes one or more dummy transistors that match transistors the perform the logic operation, to improve symmetry of the level shifter circuit. In some embodiments, certain design and layout rules may be applied to the level shifter circuit to limit variation in the symmetry over various manufacturing variations. The inventors are Brian J. Campbell, Vincent R. von Kaenel, Naveen...

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Nov 16
Greg's bite: censored by Apple for the NSA?

By Greg Mills

Since the Islamic attack on the US by Bin Laden's boys, the burden on the US Government and us as citizens has been increasing dramatically, to protect us from further similar attacks, or worse. This has cost a lot of money for increased security and some lost freedom for us as citizens. I am a veteran of the US Army. I love my country but have serious issues some times with our government.  

I recently had an article I had written "lost" in the either of cyberspace despite 10 attempts to send it to my editor as email. I wrote an innocent article regarding dealing with spam, particularly Nigerian bank fraud spam. That article in email form, was somehow filtered out and not delivered from my .Mac account to my editor's email, a number of times over a week's time.  I suspect that there were key words in the article, that, in combination, were enough to convince a security filtering system at Apple that my message might be related to...

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Nov 15
I (gulp) agree with Microsoft in its new Apple-...

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I concur with Microsoft on a recent ad in which it takes a dig at the Mac over its lack of Blu-ray support.

The ad pictures a PC laptop running Windows 7 and a Mac laptop on a long flight. The PC passes the time by playing "Avator" on its built-in Blu-ray player. The Mac says "this is so cool," while watching the Blu-ray version of the blockbuster movie on the Windows PC.

Macs, of course, have no support for Blu-ray playback. And with Steve Jobs' goal of making us us buy all our media -- music and video -- from the iTunes Store, they probably never will. And I think that's a mistake.

Jobs apparently thinks Blu-ray is already obsolete and that the future of movies is in digital downloading. But the facts don't support this, at least not at the present time. Worldwide Blu-ray player shipments are expected to more than double between 2009 and the end of 2010, and the numbers from ABI Research (...

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Nov 15
Greg's bite: stopping Nigerian bank fraud email

By Greg Mills

I no longer get much Nigerian Bank fraud email, since I developed a policy to deal with that.  When you get an email, "You have won $50,000,000" or your unknown distant, long lost uncle died in South Africa and left you a million dollars, that is called Nigerian 419 spam and the email is really from a crook who wants to steal you blind.  

The scammers take a doctorate or official sounding banker's name for themselves. Masked behind the respectable facade is a dirt poor thief, hunched over a junk PC at a cyber cafe somewhere in a third world country. Some people don't know that if you give a thief your bank account routing numbers, that while they promise to deposit gobs of money into your bank account they actually plan to use the information to withdraw your money through the international banking system.

If email sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true, so don't be taken in. Most people just delete such junk email...

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Nov 15
Consumer demand strong for 3D movies

Sooner or later, Macs will probably go 3D. A new International 3D Society (http://www.international3dsociety.com) survey says though virtually 6 of 10 adults (59%) have yet to see a contemporary 3D movie, those who have seen a 3D movie, three-fourths (74%) feel that today's 3D movies are better than 2D movies, among whom 30% say 3D movies are "incredible."

The study showed that 3D movie viewing is directly correlated by age: 18-34's have the highest propensity to have seen a 3D movie, followed sequentially by each succeeding age group. The survey of 1008 adults was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for the International 3D Society, Oct. 7-10.

"Consumers are excited by the 3D movie experience," says Jim Chabin, president of the International 3D Society. "And with 6 in 10 Americans still having yet to see a 3D movie, the growth opportunities...

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Nov 12
Apple's data center and an Apple home server

Apple's upcoming US$1 billion data center could become the hub for an all-streaming broadcast network, says tech pundit Nike Carr, as reported by "InformationWeek" (http://www.informationweek.com/news/global-cio/interviews/showArticle.jh...). And I think an Apple home server could fit into the picture.

"Apple increasingly views its mainstream computers, from iPod Touch to iPhone to iPad to MacBook Air, as media players, with 'media' spanning not just audio and video but also apps," Carr wrote in an email. "From that perspective, the North Carolina data center can be seen as essentially a broadcasting system that will enable Apple to make the shift from a downloading model of media distribution to a streaming model. It's a proprietary broadcasting system (not...

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Nov 11
Apple wants to improve sound capture in its mobile...

An Apple patent (number 20100284525) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows that future Apple mobile devices may sport a microphone array for improved sound capture.

The patent is for the transfer of multiple microphone signals to an audio host device. The invention involves an audio communications host device has a communications network interface, digitizing circuitry, and a headphone jack. A demultiplexer has an input coupled to receive a signal from a pin of the headphone jack, and multiple outputs coupled to inputs of the digitizing circuitry, respectively. An uplink audio processor receives digitized microphone signals from multiple outputs of the digitizing circuitry, and in response delivers an uplink signal to the communications network interface. The uplink signal contains audio from one or more of the digitized microphone signals. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. The inventors are Wendell B. Sander and David John Tupman....

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Nov 11
Apple patents involve light sensing device, radio...

Apple patents involving a light sensing device, radio presets between a portable media player and an accessory and remote control signal learning and processing by a host device and accessory have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 20100282953 is for a light sensing device having a color sensor and a clear sensor for infrared rejection. A light sensing device has a first filter to block visible light in a light path. The light sensing device also has a first color sensor and a clear sensor, to detect light in the light path after the first filter. A light intensity calculator computes a measure of the intensity of visible light in the light path, based on a difference between (a) an output signal of the first color sensor, and (b) an output signal of the clear sensor. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Chris Yu John Tam is the inventor.

Patent number 20100285763...

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Nov 11
Unplug and learn to be still

There's an Eagles song called "Learn to be Still." That's something I think most of us Americans could learn to do. We're always busy, and we're always "plugged in."

We have our desktop Macs, our laptop Macs, our iPods, our iPads, our iPhones. We're always talking, emailing, looking up stuff, Tweeting, Facebooking, etc. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel guilty if I'm not doing anything.

There's a saying (though I'm not sure who said it) that "there's no clocking out if you're always plugged in." And while most Americans say devices like smartphones, cellphones and personal computers have made their lives better and their jobs easier, some say they have been intrusive, increased their levels of stress and made it difficult to concentrate, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/...

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Nov 10
User convenience the focus for Apple on upcoming OS...

The recent Apple patent for "scrollable menus and toolbars" indicates that Apple will continue to add similar features to iOS and Mac OS X. As I've said before, I think eventually there will only be one operating system, Apple OS, in computer and mobile versions.

The patent in question also shows further evolution of the Mac OS X Finder with the replacement of hierarchical computer menus by a scrollable window, in which functions would be more clearly displayed and navigated by gestures. Those gestures on a Mac would be made on a laptop trackpad, Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad.

At last week's MacTech Conference, Mac guru pundit Andy Ihnatko said Mac OS X Lion shows a move toward non-hierarchical menu structures and "uni-tasking." ("Multitasking is 95% a lie," he said.)

With the scrollable menus and toolbars patent, you'll be offered a menu that includes several selectable menu items assigned a particular order for scrolling through a selection window based on...

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Nov 09
Apple patents involve displays images, memory objects...

Apple was granted four patents today by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following isa summary of each.

Patent number RE41,922 is for a method and apparatus for providing translucent images on a computer display. It involves producing a translucent image over a base image created on the display screen of a computer system by a selected first application program, and conducting image operations either on the base image created by the selected application program with reference to the translucent image produced, or conducting image operations on the translucent image with reference to the base image of the first application program.

The first application program runs on a central processing unit (CPU) of a computer system to produce a base image, and another application program referred to as the overlay program is run to produce the translucent image such that portions of the base image which are overlapped by the overlay image are at least...

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Nov 09
Apple patent is for light sensitive display

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7,830,461) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for a light sensitive display. It relates to touch sensitive displays that could eventually be used with iOS devices.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Touch sensitive screens ("touch screens") are devices that typically mount over a display such as a cathode ray tube. With a touch screen, a user can select from options displayed on the display's viewing surface by touching the surface adjacent to the desired option, or, in some designs, touching the option directly. Common techniques employed in these devices for detecting the location of a touch include mechanical buttons, crossed beams of infrared light, acoustic surface waves, capacitance sensing, and resistive materials.

"For example, Kasday, U.S. Pat. No. 4,484,179 discloses an optically-based touch screen comprising a flexible clear membrane supported above a glass screen whose edges are fitted...

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Nov 08
Apple patent is for scrollable menus, toolbars for Mac...

As first noted by "Patently Apple" (http://www.patentlyapple.com), a new European patent filing (publication number WO2010126782) has emerged that describes a new system of "scrollable menus and toolbars" -- apparently for both Mac OS X and iOS

Some embodiments of the invention provide a method that defines several menu items having a particular order. The method provides a display area for displaying a portion of the menu items in the particular order. The method provides a selection window in the display area for indicating that a menu item is presently selectable.

The display area is also for receiving input to (i) scroll the menu items through the selection window in the particular order and (ii) select a particular menu item when the particular menu item is displayed in the selection window. In some embodiments, the display area is a linear display area, while in some embodiments it...

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Nov 08
Kinect would have made a nice fit at Apple

Leander Kahney of "Cult of Mac" says (http://www.cultofmac.com/how-apple-almost-got-microsofts-kinect-game-con...) that Apple was the first place that PrimeSense, the company who developed the technology behind Microsoft's Kinect camera for the Xbox 360.

Kinect is a motion control system for the game console. It can can sense and respond to users' body motions as well as their voices. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360, it enables users to control and interact with the console without a game controller. Instead they use gestures, spoken commands and/or objects and images.

Kinect responds to how you move. If you have to kick in a game, you kick. If you have to jump in a game, you jump. What's more, it's designed to respond to the sound of your vo...

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Nov 08
Comcast just gets worse and worse

I'm not sure what it says when my cable provider has one of the slowest web sites around. I'm talking about Comcast, whose new Xfinity branding must stand for infinity slow.

I recently tried to add three new email accounts to my Comcast Internet account. The Comcast Customer Service page -- which should have been dubbed the Customer Disservice Page -- repeatedly ground to a halt and timed out. Something that should have taken 10 minutes to accomplish took an hour.

Considering that Comcast's prices go up every month -- after the one-year sign-up special is over -- you're gouged, I'm looking for other options. I'm considering dropping the Comcast cable TV service and going with either Dish TV or DirectTV. And if/when the iPhone comes to Verizon, I may drop Comcast telephone and go without a LAN line.

Right now I'm at Comcast's mercy when it comes to an Internet connection. But when other options become available in my area, perhaps I'll bid adieu to the big C...

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Nov 05
There's still plenty of room for serious Mac...

Think there's little growth opportunity for the Mac? Think again. The Toffler Associates (http://www.toffler.com/) think tank says there are more than one billion personal computers in use today -- and that number will double by 2014.

Apple now has around 10% of the computer market in the US and is approaching 5% worldwide. And that percentage keeps on going up.

Imagine Apple nabbing 10% of more of a billion computer sales over the next four years. That's a lot of Macs. Also, in the latest Toffler Associates they predict that:

° Companies will increasingly follow the Apple/iPhone model of creating value, not by creating products (in Apple’s case, apps), but by hosting the marketplace and charging to connect consumers to producers.

° The world will enter the “Petabyte Age,” where data saturation is the norm.

° Widespread quantum computing will be a realistic possibility in the...

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Nov 04
Apple patent to prevent inadvertent starting of a...

A new Apple patent (number 20100281415) -- invented by Timothy Wasko and Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- is for a three-state icon for operations that's designed to prevent inadvertent starting of an operation on a computer.

The icon has a first state which conceals a second state. Upon selection of the first state with a computer pointing device (i.e., mouse), the icon will change to the second state. Upon selecting the icon in the second state, the operation on the computer will start. Accordingly, only upon selecting the icon in the first state and then the second state, the operation will commence on the computer thereby preventing accidental startup of the operation. Once the second state has been selected, the icon will change to a third state which indicates that the operation is proceeding on the computer. The inventors are Timothy Wasko and Steve Jobs.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A user interfaces with a computer using a graphical user...

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Nov 04
Apple patent is for reading DVDs independent of DVD...

A new Apple patent (number 20100278513) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is looking for ways to make it easier for Macs to read commercial DVDs. The patent involves embedded access information for DVDs independent of the DVD player software.

Per the patent, an operating system extension is used to implement embedded information on a DVD. The operating system extension examines DVD sector addresses requested from the DVD hardware. When address associated with an embedded link is requested, an application program that can run the embedded link is started, and the embedded link is provided to the application program.

The system of the present invention has the advantage that it does not require modifying the DVD software program and thus can be used with a variety of different DVD software programs. The inventors of the patent are Freddie Geier and Stefan Bauer-Schwan.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The...

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Nov 04
Apple working on ways for securely sharing data over...

A new Apple patent (number 2100278345) shows that Apple is working on ways for securely sharing data over mobile devices. The patent is for a method and apparatus for proximity-based pairing of mobile devices.

The invention relates generally to authorizing communications between network enabled devices. More particularly, it relates to secure instant pairing of mobile devices based on proximity to authorize communications.

A method and an apparatus that establish a first communication channel or pair with a target device in proximity to a source device are described. A pairing message is sent to the target device in proximity to the source device over the first communication channel from the source device. A secret and an identifier associated with an application are included in the pairing message. In response to receiving the secret back from the target device for a second communication channel, pairing data of the application are sent to the target device over...

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Nov 04
Apple patent shows planned for beefed-up gaming on iOS...

According to a new patent (number 20100279768) Apple is eyeing ways for iPhone/iPod touch/iPad users to use features of the devices --- such motion detection, GPS and camera -- to play and compete with others in a real-life 3D space.

The patent is for interactive gaming with co-located, networked direction and location-aware devices. An interactive game environment includes two or more co-located, networked, direction and location aware interactive game devices. The game devices share a common reference coordinate frame (e.g., a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate frame).

Each game device maintains its own device state (e.g., position, orientation, time) in the reference coordinate frame. Each interactive game device shares its device state with the other interactive game devices using communication technology (e.g., Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular). Each interactive game device can use the device states of the other interactive game devices to project the relative...

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Nov 04
Apple patents involve media devices, LED selection,...

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 20100277877 is for a folded flex assembly for a personal media device. Systems and methods are provided for media devices including a housing, a frame disposed adjacent to the housing, a support panel that is integrated with the frame, and a flexible circuit that is disposed adjacent to the support panel such that the support panel provides support for the flexible circuit. The inventors are Richard Hung Minh Dinh, Tang Yew Tan, Erik L. Wang and Phillip Michael Hobson.

Patent number 20100279674 involves remotely locating and commanding a mobile device. Methods, systems, and apparatus are presented for processing a remote lock command message. In one aspect, a method includes receiving, by a mobile device, a remote lock command message comprising a lock command and specifying a passcode to be set by the mobile...

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Nov 04
China will play a key role in the growth of the Mac,...

The Mac has over 10% market share in the U.S., but under 5% globally (though both those figures would skyrocket if you figured in iPad sales, as I think you should). I think that number will grow at a significant rate, especially with China figured into the equation.

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty says in a report co-written with Mathew Schneider, that "China is undergoing a 'megatransition' from being the leading producer of goods to the leading consumer of them" and that there's "evidence of strong uptake of Apple products among higher-income China consumers."

If their numbers are right, Huberty says Apple then would have to grow revenue by just 19% and operating income by 11% in the rest of the world to hit the current consensus two-year EPS [earnings per share] growth forecast of 21% (and our 22%)."

The report also says that Apple's brand is already preferred by urban Chinese. A November 200 Morgan Stanley survey of Chinese handset users in tier 1/2...

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Nov 03
Whither USB 3.0 on the Mac?

As reported at various Mac news and rumors sites, Apple CEO Steve Jobs supposedly sent one of his succinct emails to Mac user Tom Kruk, who asked why Macs still didn't support USB 3.0. Jobs allegedly wrote: “We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example.”

Whether you buy that or not, there are plenty of users who are unhappy that consumer Macs don't include USB 3.0 and perhaps eSATA. And what to make of the fact that even the Mac Pros don't support those technologies (though you can sorta overcome this with PCI cards) or FireWire 3200.

As I've said before, I think Apple plans to replace ALL those port with Light Peak by mid or late 2011. But there's good reason for folks to be unhappy about the lack of USB 3.0 support. The peecee world has oodles of USB 3.0 goodies to chose from. Mac users can use 'em, too, but only at USB 2.0 speeds. And a "PC World" report (...

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Nov 02
Apple wants to simplify the process of editing video...

A new Apple patent (number 7,827,489) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple wants to make it easier for professional filmmakers to edit to tape. A method and apparatus is described that allows edited media to be recorded to a sequential storage device is disclosed.

An edited time based stream of information of a source media is displayed. The edited time based stream is transferred to a sequential storage device to be recorded using an icon where the icon represents a function to be performed on the storage device. The inventor is Randy Ubillos.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Editing is generally the art of making subtle adjustments to a material or materials in a form that communicates a message with maximum impact. In the area of video editing, the editor defines and shapes the video and/or audio until the message to be delivered is accomplished. Generally, video editing may be divided into two categories: linear video...

| Read more »
Nov 02
Greg's bite: the cloud is coming upon us

By Greg Mills

Don't forget to vote! I voted already to flush the inverted toilet bowl building on Capital Hill and against virtually every local incumbent running in my district in Kansas. Personally, my "change" is run out. I want my congressional delegation to experience the unemployed situation and deep recession, first hand.

The upcoming Mac OS update and the pending iPad 4.2 update, both expected any day now, will continue to enhance interconnections between everything Apple and Wi-Fi related. The iPad, Apple TV and the new MacBook Air all point us towards wireless Internet connection of all Apple computing devices, with less reliance on mechanical hard drives and less local flash memory being required.  

The cloud comes rolling in. The new trend in Apple devices to reduce local storage and rely on the cloud for storage of everything streamed to us is happening. Streaming content is just being accessed over the Internet -- and downloading...

| Read more »
 
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