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Aug 04
Apple eyeing ways to improve air flow in upcoming Macs

A new Apple patent (number 20110189004) shows that the company is working on ways to improve air flow in upcoming Macs.

The patent involves a fan inlet and method. method and apparatus to improve air flow in an air circulating fan assembly by forming an inlet opening in a fan assembly is disclosed. A static air pressure profile is calculated along a top portion of the fan assembly configured to operate in an enclosure.

The shape of a section of the inlet opening in the top portion of the fan assembly is changed based on a pressure contour of the calculated static air pressure profile. The method is repeated iteratively one or more times using an inlet opening changed by a previously calculated static air pressure profile when calculating a subsequent static air pressure profile.

The inlet opening is positioned in the top surface of the fan assembly so that the centroid of the inlet opening is laterally offset with respect to the rotational axis of an impeller...

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Aug 04
Apple working on inductive charging system for...

Apple is investigating ways to create an inductive charging system for devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, per a patent (number 20110188677) for "using an audio cable as an inductive charging coil" at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

According to Apple, the disclosed embodiments relate to a technique for inductively charging an electronic device. This technique involves winding an audio cable for the electronic device around a charging mechanism multiple times so that one or more conductors in the audio cable form an inductive receiving coil.

Next, a magnetic field is created through the charging mechanism to induce a current in the inductive receiving coil. Finally, the induced current in the inductive receiving coil is used to charge a rechargeable battery for the electronic device. The inventors are Fletcher R. Rothkopf, Anna-katrina Shedletsky, and Stephen Brian Lynch.

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

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Aug 04
Tablets will overtake consumer computers, but so what?

Tablet sales will overtake consumer desktop and notebook computer sales, according to Dr. Joseph Reger, Fujitsu's chief technology officer. He may be right, but I think that, in the long run, it's no big deal. At least for Apple.

According to "The Register" (http://macte.ch/zXRLI), Reger thinks tablet sales are going to cannibalize consumer desktop and notebook sales, because consumers want to consume content more than they want to create it with a keyboard and mouse. Reger cites the success of iPad as evidence of this. He's convinced that the "disadvantages" of the computer will help ensure that tablet devices sales will overtake consumer computer sales in 2016 or so, notes "The Register."

He's probably right, but those of us interested in content creation will still need a computer. The tablet is good at many things, but it can't handle all the chores a desktop can.

Besides, the iPad looks to...

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Aug 03
Greg's Bite: Explorer IQs story was bogus?

By Greg Mills

I was amused by a recent story that was picked up by major news sources as proven fact: that Microsoft Internet Explorer users were less intelligent than those who use other browsers. =CNN, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, Forbes and other major news outlets were also taken in by the hoax. Shades of April Fools' Day! It all seemed so logical and smacked of serious research. That most people bought the premise is quite telling. (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14386833.)

People who tend to use software with a generally bad reputation, with constant malware attacks specifically targeting it, are as smart as people who use a browser that almost never has such problems? Who is spoofing whom? While the story seems to have been an elaborate hoax, intelligence is measured in a lot of different ways. Self-flagellation has...

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Aug 03
iTunes overhaul? It's about time

Rumor has it that iTunes will soon be overhauled, possibly resulting in full integration with the company’s upcoming cloud-based storage service, iCloud, reports "Digital Trends" (http://macte.ch/FoqI9). If an overhaul is planned, it's about time.

According to a post on iDownloadBlog, iTunes “will be revamped from the ground up,” resulting in a slicker and cleaner interface compared to previous versions. “The basic layout of the iTunes UI hasn’t changed since the first version,” the post says. “This new update will have a completely different UI and better iCloud integration. So we’re not looking at a simple lick of paint here; more of a total rebuild."

iTunes needs a major overhaul or else a new name. In fact, it should be broken up into several different apps as has happened on iOS devices.

When iTunes was launched in 1999, it was a simple music player with the ability to do MP3 conversions....

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Aug 02
A note about Lion and multiple Cinema Display...

"MacNews/MacTech" reader John Kitchen recently alerted me to a, er, situation, for lack of a better work, involving OS X 7 and Cinema Displays.

With the new 27-inch iMac, some pros and power users may wish to connect two 27-inch Thunderbolt Cinema Displays for a massive amount of screen real estate. This set-up works as expected in Snow Leopard, but Lion is a different story.

"Take the case of the Aperture (just as one example) user who likes to see his/her work in full screen detail on the center screen, while having access to, say, Mail, Safari, the Aperture User Manual and the APTS training for Aperture certification on the other screens," John says. "Makes sense, right? While this works just fine with Snow Leopard, under Lion, the second and third screen contents is overlayed with an impenetrable grey linen pattern, which reduces those displays to being very expensive fake linen.  There is no way to simultaneously view all three screens with any screen in full...

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Aug 02
Apple patents involve product design, iMovie, motion,...

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

Patent 7,992,097 is for select drag and drop operations on video thumbnails across clip boundaries and involves iMovie. A computer-implemented method includes displaying, within a user interface in a digital media system, a media pane, and a project pane, displaying, within the media pane, a thumbnail group representing a media item, the thumbnail group comprising one or more thumbnails, enabling a user to select, from the thumbnail group, a segment of the media item, and enabling a user to transfer the selected segment to the project pane. Randy Ubillos is the inventor.

Patent 7,990,398 is for matching movement behavior in motion graphics and involves Apple's Motion software. Computer-implemented methods and media bearing instructions for matching movements of objects are described. In one example, the method can include...

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Aug 01
Greg's Bite:Robots, Browsers and Demand for Apple...

Posted by Greg Mills

Robots to replace Chinese workers?
The assembly line in China got a rude wake-up call from Foxconn's founder recently. Terry Gou has announced that he intends to replace up to 1 Million hard working assembly line workers with robots, within three years. The economics of robots can be pretty compelling. The cost, maintenance and installation of robotic assembly line automation can be very competitive with human workers. See: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-07/30/c_131018764.htm

However, given the wages of Foxconn workers in China running at about US $175 a month, one has to ask why doesn't Apple gear up with a hoard of robots and move assembly back to the Untied States? If the economics of automating makes sense for Foxconn in China, why not...

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Aug 01
The Northern Spy: Lions, finances and a tech rant

By Rick Sutcliff

The Lion no longer sleeps tonight but has been released. This update will perhaps go a little more slowly than some, because of the large number of applications out there that require Rosetta to run under OS X -- an option no longer available under Lion.

The Spy himself has some such, and they have conveniences and/or functionality that has not yet been provided in newer applications. Besides, he has other fish to fry. How times have changed since he was a beta-testing, high risk adopter. The latest cat is not a high priority for him. Indeed, he has more interest in keeping his iPod Touch up to date with the latest and greatest, and has become far more conservative with his main work platform, where he needs rock solid stability with a suite of applications that do the job, and never fail.

Meanwhile, back at the financial statement,Apple recently released yet another quarterly result that blew...

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Aug 01
Location analytics market to reach $9 billion in 2016

As a result of the recent “locationgate” controversy (centering on Apple’s and others’ logging of the location of mobile devices as they are used by consumers) the location-based services (LBS) and advertising (LBA) markets have come under intense scrutiny, with privacy legislation a major focus.

However, ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com) believes that this temporary debate won't prevent the future success of location-based services, marketing and advertising, all of which will be based on location analytics -- the aggregation and analysis of location information to identify trends that will enable new services and more effective advertising.”

The firm forecasts size of the location analytics market to reach US$9 billion in 2016. At the moment, the initial LBA trials are largely focused on geofencing, with impressive results. However, the real power of LBA will come through social,...

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Jul 29
Greg's Bite: Apple vs HTC, S3 Patents invalid!

Posted By Greg Mills

Recently it came out that HTC won one in the legal mega-spat with Apple. HTC had just paid $300,000,000 to S3 for five patents, two of which, had been just found to be infringed by Apple in a separate infringement complaint by the US International Trade Commission. Eager to have something to hold over Apple, HTC bought the patents, apparently not knowing they had just been found to be invalid by the US Patent Office in a re-examination of the patents.

See: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/s3_patents_apple_violates_rules_u... While this article mixes legal terms incorrectly, the basic information is sound. The correct term for issued patents that are later found to be "invalid" is not that they are "unpatentable". The term "...

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Jul 29
Macs with double-high resolution displays may be...

OS X Lion incorporates support for displays packing four times as many pixels as they do today. So perhaps we'll see Macs with their own version of the Retina Display soon.

Currently the "HiDPI" mode remains inaccessible unless you've downloaded Apple's Xcode software development tool. It contains a graphics test application called Quartz Debug and it enables HiDPI modes -- which allow developers to supply 2x-enlarged images to support double-high resolution displays -- in Lion's Displays control panel.

Lion features icons in sizes up to 1024×1024, and a desktop background at a resolution of 3200×3200. Like the iPhone 4′s Retina Display, HiDPi modes mean that user interface elements will remain the same size, but everything will be twice the resolution and twice as detailed.

Imagine a 27-inch iMac (my model of choice) with 3840 x 2160 resolution. The current high-end model has "only" 2560 x 1440 resolution. Such a display requires quite a bit of processing...

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Jul 28
Patents show Apple has 3D on its mind

Two new Apple patents (number 20110175902 and 20110182520) show that 3D is on Apple's collective mind. The former is for a multilayer display device.

Said includes a first layer operable to display a first display signal comprising a first group of data, a second layer positioned in front of the first layer and operable to display a second display signal comprising a second group of data, and a first graphics processing unit connected to the first layer. The first graphics processing unit may be configured to transmit the first display signal to the first layer.

The multilayer display system further includes a second graphics processing unit connected to the second layer. The second graphics processing unit may be configured to transmit the second display signal to the second layer. Peter H. Mahowald is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic components, devices and/or systems utilize two-dimensional display...

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Jul 28
Future Apple portables may have jelly rolls --...

A new Apple patent (number 20110123844) shows that Apple is eyeing ways to improve battery life in its laptops and iOS devices via a battery with multiple "jelly rolls" enclosed in a single pouch.

Disclosed embodiments in the patent -- entitled "pressure-relief mechanism to improve safety in lithium-polymer battery cells" -- relate to a battery cell which includes a weakness for relieving pressure. This battery cell includes a jelly roll comprising layers which are wound together, including a cathode with an active coating, a separator and an anode with an active coating. The jelly roll also includes a first conductive tab coupled to the cathode and a second conductive tab coupled to the anode. The jelly roll is enclosed in a flexible pouch, wherein the first and second conductive tabs extend through seals in the pouch to provide terminals for the battery cell.

This pouch includes a weakness which yields when internal pressure in the pouch exceeds a threshold to...

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Jul 28
Apple, the auto industry needs your help

Perhaps Apple should approach car companies with a new division to create passenger environments. 

In an online journal (http://macte.ch/iFsXv), Alan Cooper, founder of the Cooper interactive design consultancy, says the Ford Motor Company has "just convincingly demonstrated that being an excellent industrial manufacturer doesn’t automatically mean that you are an excellent maker of digital technology."

Despite Ford’s improvements in manufacturing quality, their overall ratings fell drastically this year due solely to the poor software interaction on their dashboards, he says. What's more, a recent article (http://macte.ch/7mRSD) in the "New York Times" discusses Ford’s plummeting fall in user rankings this year, focusing the blame on their new touch screen interface.

"Primarily, the steep decline was attributed to consumer...

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Jul 28
Apple patents involve cable structures, headphones

Several Apple patents involving cable structures and headphones have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patents number 20110180302 and 201108303 are for compression molded cable structures and methods for making them. Per the patents, wired headsets are commonly used with many portable electronic devices such as portable music players and mobile phones. Headsets can include non-cable components such as a jack, headphones, and/or a microphone and one or more cables that interconnect the non-cable components. The cables can be manufactured using different approaches. The inventors are Jonathan Aase, Paul Choinirere and Greg Dunham.

Patents number 20110180962 and 2011082459 involve molded splitter structures and systems and methods for making the same. Per the patent, wired headsets are commonly used with many portable electronic devices such as portable music players and mobile phones. Headsets can include non-cable components such as a...

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Jul 27
Greg's Bite: high tech patent suits

By Greg Mills

The tech news has had a lot of stories regarding patent enforcement suits lately. Apple is plaintiff in a number of suits against almost every other electronic device company out there. The smartphone war is being fought in both the market place and in the court room.

You have certainly noticed the notation something like US 7,554,332 or Patent Pending on many of the products you buy. Those numbers are US patent serial numbers as some aspect or design element of the product has been found by the US Patent Office to be not obvious and both novel and useful. US Patents have evolved over the years, but, actually, the right to patent novel inventions is specifically provided for in the US Constitution.

The US government has the sole authority to issue US patents. The US Patent office wades through hundreds of thousands of patent applications each year. A lot of patent applications are denied, and a patent is never issued for the...

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Jul 27
The value of 'freemium' games -- and the...

Digital distribution of games is disrupting the retail portable game category.  At the heart of this disruption is the proliferation of iOS and Android devices, which is doubling as a powerful portable gaming platform and challenging Nintendo DS and Sony PSP for gamer mindshare, according to the folks at Flurry (http://www.flurry.com), a mobile application analytics and recommendation-engine company.

Now if only my dream of having the ability to "upsize" iOS games for the Mac would come true.

In previous reports (2008 - 2009, 2009 - 2010), Flurry measured that iOS’s and Android’s revenue share of the U.S. portable game software category exploded to 34% in 2010 from just 1% in 2008. Over this same time period, the company calculated that Nintendo’s U.S. portable game revenue share contracted to 57% from 75%. 

All the while, Nintendo chief executive, Satoru Iwata, has remained outspoken, calling...

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Jul 26
Mac will top 12% US market share within a year

The Mac's share of the U.S. personal computer market rose to nearly 11% during the second quarter of 2011, with Apple representing the only major computer manufacturer to report double-digit growth in a market that contracted by more than 4%. My prediction: by this time next year Apple will have 12-14% of the personal computer market in the US and will be in the top five global manufacturers.

The IDC research group says that Apple shipped 1.917 million Macs in the US during the three-month period that ended in June. That's a 14.7% increase over the year-ago quarter. That made Apple the number three computer vendor with a 10.7% market share. That's up from 9% during the year-ago quarter.

Rival research firm Gartner also gave the Mac 10.7% of the US computer market, but said Apple shipped 1.814 million systems stateside. Per Gartner, that represents 8.5% growth compared to its 1.671 million actual shipments during the year-ago quarter.

Neither research group...

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Jul 26
Apple granted patent for H.264/AVC coder

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7,986,731) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for an H.264/AVC coder incorporating rate and quality controller.

A rate control system is disclosed for video coding applications. The rate controller assigns a quantization parameter for video data in a picture in response to complexity indicators indicative of spatial complexity, motion complexity and/or bits per pel of the picture.

A virtual buffer based quantizer parameter is proposed based on a virtual buffer fullness analysis and a target rate estimate, which is derived from the complexity indicators. A second quantizer parameter is proposed from a linear regression analysis of quantizer parameters used to code previously coded pictures of similar type (e.g., I pictures, P pictures or B pictures).

A coding policy decision unit defines a final quantizer parameter from a comparison of the two proposed quantizer parameters. The inventors are Barin Haskell, Adriana...

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Jul 25
Two Features Lion Didn't Deliver, yet?

Posted by Greg Mills

Lion delivered a lot of new features. However, some rumors and wish list items didn't get fulfilled upon Mac OS X 7 reaching Gold Master status. One of the most likely rumors that didn't pan out is a system wide "speech to text" feature. The text to speech feature has been around since before Apple even went to the Mac OS X from the older Apple Systems.

Speech to text is a lot harder to implement with the quality Apple demands before an app is launched. While there is a chance the Nuance / Apple connection will result in an Apple app sold for an additional price, recent leaks of iOS 5 developer releases indicate that feature might be an iPhone / iPad trick. I have an iPhone Nuance app that was free, but only works with short clips. It does work pretty well.

Having the feature on your Mac could be very powerful and useful. Imagine dropping an MP3 file onto a speech to text icon and having your computer spit out a...

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Jul 25
Apple's smartphone opportunities seem boundless

Good news for Apple: cellular handset shipments grew 12% in 2010 to 1.5-billion units, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). That's in comparison with 2009's negative 1.3% growth.

The research group predicts a strong, but more traditional growth in 2011 of 4.3%, but smartphones will continue to do better, growing 15.4% to the 318 million level this year. Though Samsung and Apple are growing faster, Nokia continues to be the leading handset vendor.

However, Nokia's average handset selling price is among the lowest because of their huge share of the low-end markets in China, India and Africa. Nokia still reigns as the largest vendor of smartphones, but smartphone vendor Apple is catching up.

The cellphone continues to be the physical and market magnet that is pulling in the functionality of digital cameras, PDAs, MP3 players, GPS navigators...

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Jul 22
Popularity of tablets changing consumer purchasing...

Six million U.S. broadband households are changing their 2011 consumer electronic purchase plans to get a tablet such as an iPad, which is cannibalizing sales in other device categories and inspiring an additional four million households who had no previous intentions to purchase a computing device this year.

That's according to data from the Parks Associates' research group (http://www.parksassociates.com). The group says the products at greatest risk of losing sales are other mobile Internet devices, including netbooks, notebooks, and e-readers. Tablets will also have significant impact on content publishing, including newspapers.

“One year after the launch of the Apple iPad, tablet adoption reached 13% of U.S. broadband households (approximately 10.5 million), slightly below current netbook and e-reader adoption rates,” says Jennifer Kent, a Parks Associates’ mobile research analyst...

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Jul 21
Greg's Bite: Apple to bid on 1300 more patents?

Posted by Greg Mills

Bloomberg reports that another patent auction is coming up where Apple and Google will be going head to head. This time it is over about 1300 patents being sold off by InterDigital. The power of the patent portfolio is well understood by the industry as the iOS and Android war goes forward. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-20/google-said-to-be-among-compani...

Google is long on innovation but short on patents to protect its projects. Apple has the advantage of having developed the iPhone and iPad under wraps and patenting the heck out of both ground breaking products before they were released.

Google is playing catch up, but has been caught using the logical but Apple patented...

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Jul 20
China to be increasingly important to Apple

China is a country that's going to be increasingly important to Apple. For instance, according to recent report by the Distimo app store research group (http://www.distimo.com),t he download volume in Asian countries grew significantly in the past six months in the Apple App Store for iPhone.

While other (Western) countries saw a decrease in download volume during the same time frame. China recently became the second largest market after the United States. And let's not forget 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.

Last year Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said in a report co-written with Mathew Schneider, that "China is undergoing a 'megatransition' from...

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Jul 19
Mobile cloud services could challenge smartphone home...

Mobile handsets have become full-featured media servers capable of connecting automatically to other consumer devices such as TVs, picture frames, game consoles, and audio systems.

DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct certification programs are poised to simplify wireless connectivity for consumers. But new mobile cloud services may provide even easier access to consumers’ media content.

“Wi-Fi Direct enables a device to connect directly to another device without a wireless network. DLNA-certified devices discover other certified devices, eliminating the need for a consumer to configure the connection,” says ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com) senior analyst Victoria Fodale. “Both programs help mitigate the difficulties that consumers often face when connecting devices at home, and both bring wireless technology further into the mainstream market.”

ABI Research expects that both Wi-Fi Direct-...

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Jul 18
HTC Stock slides, Patent work around?

Posted by Greg Mills

HTC, reeling from the first actual finding that Android infringes upon the Apple iOS has seen its stock slide. HTC announced it intends to buy back as many as 20,000,000 shares of its stock to support the value.

It has been suggested that HTC and the other Android handset makers need to simply find a workaround for the infringed Apple technology. What those who suggest that a workaround will solve the problem really don't understand what is going on. The patents HTC was found to have infringed are older, much less significant patents than the ones yet to be heard.

One of the infringed patents relates to the software trick where web URLs and phone numbers are identified within text, they are colored and underlined then they then automatically become clickable links. This was a patent Apple already had in the portfolio when iPhone was developed.

When you click on a URL discovered in the text, Safari is opened to...

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Jul 18
Consumers still positive on Blu-ray

Apple's not a fan, but, according to the NPD Group, there has recently been "significant and healthy growth" in the purchase and use of Blu-ray disc set top boxes and Blu-ray video content in the U.S.

Based on information from NPD's latest update to the "Entertainment Trends in America" report, 15 % of U.S. consumers reported using a Blu-ray player in the prior six months in March, up from 9% the prior year. By way of comparison, 57% of U.S. consumers reported using a standard DVD player in 2010, which is unchanged from 2009.

According to NPD's "Blu-ray Disc Report, 49% of PS3 owners are viewing Blu-ray movies on their game consoles at least once a month, which is also adding to the base of physical-disc users. Year-over-year sales of set-top Blu-ray player units increased 16%.

According to NPD's "Blu-ray Disc Report," there is evidence that Blu-ray is beginning to offset the loss of DVD customers. The research group estimates there are currently 116 million...

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Jul 16
Greg's Bite: The Android Platform is in Deep...

Posted by Greg Mills

The recent US International Trade Commission finding isn’t the end of the war between Apple’s iOS platform and the Android platform, but drawing first blood may be significant. Had the ruling been related to something trivial like the shape of buttons, for example, HTC could have simply gone to round buttons instead of square buttons.

The particular patents found to have been infringed relate more to basic system organization that underly the very foundation of the Android OS. Further rulings will no doubt find additional infringement on more Apple patents that are even more specifically related to smart phones and mobile operating systems.

I looked up the Apple patents cited and they are so broad, Apple’s attorneys must be delighted. The ITC finding of infringement isn’t just related to HTC, but rather all Android phones. The finding is really more against the Android OS than HTC. See:
...

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Jul 15
Cellphone privacy concerns only a short-term barrier

The recent kerfuffle over iPhone tracking and other privacy concerns will barely be a speed bump in the evolution of location-based services (LBS) because there is simply too much money at stake.

The Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) wireless media strategies (WMS) report, “The $10 Billion Rule: Location, Location, Location,” predicts consumer and advertiser expenditure on LBS to approach US$10 billion by 2016, with search advertising accounting for just over 50%. Although location providers will have to offer greater transparency to users about how they capture, manage and store user location information, this requirement won't deter growth of consumer LBS.

Amid fears that location data is being misused and that user privacy rights are open to abuse, location services have recently made headlines. However, mobile users are increasingly demanding search, map and...

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Jul 14
Mobile media nearing the mainstream

On-the-go use of the Internet and apps is approaching mainstream status, according to new research from Knowledge Networks (http://www.knowledgenetworks.com). And that's good news for Apple, as it's the big dog among mobile media device makers.

The Knowledge Network study shows that 38% of U.S. homes -- roughly 45 million -- now have at least one Internet- or app-capable mobile device, such as a smartphone (such as an iPhone), tablet (such as an iPad), or iPod touch. The proportion grew five percentage points in one year, which equals an increase of over five million homes.

This technology puts the world of media -- video, audio, gaming, and text-based --in consumers’ pockets, almost everywhere they go. Its adoption is therefore providing a host of new opportunities for brand interactions.

During the same 2010 to 2011 timeframe, smartphone ownership grew by about 50% at the...

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Jul 13
Greg's Bite: Law Enforcement Warrants for...

Posted by Greg Mills

FaceBook has secretly been providing complete files on its users to law enforcement. Most of the time the FaceBook users never know their information was given to the police. The policy decision to advise users or not of the warrant is for FaceBook to decide. FaceBook prepared a manual for warrant proceedures they appear to have reproduced for law enforcement. See http://cryptome.org/isp-spy/facebook-spy.pdf

I guess they figured it would be far better for FaceBook's pubic relations not to reveal the warrant disclosures of FaceBook users. People might get nervous about doing the FaceBook thing altogether if that were to be publicized.

Reuters found that Federal Judges authorized 24 search warrants for individual FaceBook accounts prior to 2011. So far in the year 2011 FaceBook has gotten 11 Federal Warrants for...

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Jul 13
Apple may have iOS security perception problem

nCircle, a provider of automated security and compliance auditing solutions, recently announced the results of the nCircle 2011 Smartphone Study. And it shows that Apple may have a security perception problem.

The results are based on a survey of 551 respondents in the IT security industry, including senior management, IT operations, security professionals and risk and audit managers. Highlights of the study include:

° Seventy-one percent respondents identify Google Android devices as presenting the highest level of smartphone security risk, a considerable increase from 39% in 2010.

° Security concern about Apple iOS devices is also high, with 60% of respondents assigning the highest level of smartphone security risk to these devices.

° Sixt-two percent of respondents say their companies have a smartphone security policy, compared with 58% in 2010.

° Only 56% of respondents say their companies enforce their smartphone policy, a dramatic decrease...

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Jul 12
Global computer shipments to grow just 4.2% this year

Worldwide computer shipments are now expected to grow by just 4.2% in 2011, down from a February forecast of 7.1%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) "Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker" (http://www.idc.com). But if the Mac continues to be the exception to the rule, it will grow even faster.

A combination of declining first quarter shipments, an increasingly conservative economic outlook, relative saturation among developed market consumers, and competing products will lead to slow growth in 2011 before a rebound in 2012, says the IDC research group. For 2012 through 2015, growth is still expected to fall in the 10 to 11% range.

Consumer computer purchases have been a cornerstone of computer growth over the past five years. During this time, a transition to low-cost portables helped drive purchases by new users in emerging markets as well as replacement and secondary systems in more mature...

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Jul 11
Greg's Bite Is “.Secure” the solution for hacking?

By Greg Mills

Internet insecurity is such an issue with the US Government they are considering adding a new “.secure” main domain to the .com, .info and .gov that we are used to. Even the porno people have .xxx, so why not add a secure domain for the government and other agencies that require better security?

The problem the US Government has is that we in the USA are a nation that is build foundation-ally, upon a constitution that include certain “unalienable rights”. These rights are carefully crafted upon the bill of rights, which includes the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This...

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Jul 11
Mac OS X 7 Lion, Update or not Logic

Posted by Greg Mills

With all the stories that are going to be posted in the next few days or weeks on Mac OS X Lion, the adoption of the newest system is a slam dunk for many of us. There are those however, who are still running the OS that came with their older computers.

Some people aren’t up on what is going on with the platform they are using and really don’t care. That is their right and hey, if email and surfing the web is all a person cares about, perhaps even $29 for an update to Lion is a poor investment for them. Some older computers won’t even run Lion, so the issue is moot for them anyway.

I have a sister-in-law who was storing her all her documents in the trash. The trash had never been emptied for a couple of years. When I updated her system for her, somehow the trash got emptied and the screams of anguish were gut retching to say the least.

Who is so detached from the proper workings of the computers they use...

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Jul 11
Lion, iCloud, iOS/Twitter integration to impact...

Apple used June's World Wide Developers Conference to announce new tools that could impact the creation and flow of news and new business models for journalism.

Keith Politte, manager of the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Technology Testing Center, monitored the June 6 announcement and suggests that Apple’s new Mission Control, iCloud, and the iOS integration of Twitter offers many interesting opportunities for the media industry and the communities it serves.

“iCloud offers to lead many people, including journalists, to cloud-based services. Apple has a good selection of core and media apps to be integrated into the new service,” says Politte. “Regarding Lion, Apple seems to be applying lessons learned from iOS, such as multi-touch gestures and embedding into the Mac OS, which has interesting implications for interaction design and journalism information design.”

Politte is the manager of RJI’s Technology Testing Center, located at the University of...

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Jul 08
Mobile Data Hogs

By Greg Mills

AT&T, (No Bars in More Places) and Verizon (Can you hear me now?) have both been phasing out unlimited data plans because of the wasteful habits of a few customers. Those who have a habit of watching streamed movies over the cell network have screwed up the situation for the rest of us.

I recently went to an AT&T 250 Megs a month iPad data program for $15 a month, instead of the phased out $30 unlimited program I was on before. My usage was close enough to the 250 Meg limit on the old plan that I was wasting about half my iPad subscription money each month.

While I average about 250 Megs a month, sometimes circumstances cause me to go over. When that happens AT&T is good enough to bombard me with constant reminders that my data is just about used up and they offer to charge my credit card for another 250 Megs.

The information on Data rolling over into the next month seemed hard to find at AT&T.com...

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Jul 08
HDTVs, Blu-ray players top US consumers’ wish lists

Blu-ray is, obviously, never gonna come to the Mac platform, and I'm dubious that Apple will release its own television set -- but, who knows on either count? Stranger things have happened.

ABI Research (http://www.abirsearch.co ) recently released the first part of its “Technology Barometer: Connected Home & Computing,” which surveyed 2024 consumers in the United States about the consumer electronic products in their households (device types and numbers), home networking, and purchase intent (device type, brand, and features critical to the purchase decision).

Among the significant top-line results, some 24% of the respondents indicated that their highest-priority purchases over the next six months would likely be of HDTVs (24%) and Blu-ray players (17%). About 60% of the households surveyed said they already have one HDTV.

"As consumers replace older TVs, there really isn't much...

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Jul 07
Greg's Bite: HP TouchPad tear down vs iPad2

By Greg Mills

When I was a kid I got in trouble on many occasions for taking things apart. It drove my father to distraction and got me a number of lickings with his belt, along with a serious brow beating. I remember his taunting statement, “how arrogant of you to think you could improve something an engineer designed”!

Well, its 55 years later and with 12 US Patents to my name, I can say with certainty, improving something an engineer designed is no big thing. Engineers do the dumbest things sometimes. I have a Sharp microwave oven with the start and stop buttons so textually obscure, without plenty of light you can’t find them quickly. Why would the popcorn button be so obvious with a nice bold logo and the start and stop buttons be hidden in a world of text?

There is a company that does the industrial equivalent to the kid who tears things apart, iSuppi of El Segundo, Ca. ISuppi employees stand in line to buy the next big thing in...

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Jul 07
Jail Breaking Apple Devices is Foolishness

Posted by Greg Mills

Jail breaking the iOS before the system is even released, is a sign of the times. There is a certain arrogance in the soul of those who “JailBreak” Apple devices. Allowing a device to do things they weren’t designed to do has an appeal when there is a valuable feature that is locked out by Apple strictly to protect Apple’s income. But often what is jail broken is really the security that is part of what makes the device so attractive in the first place.

Years ago it was a cottage industry to hack PC into running various flavors of the Mac OS. Obviously, Steve Jobs threw a tantrum and code and chips were added to stop that nonsense in every way they could think of. I guess there are people who have nothing more to do with their time than to try to get a junk PC to run Mac operating systems. At a dollar an hour, they could have purchased a Mac. Go figure....

Jail breaking iPhone to run on other cellular networks or to...

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Jul 07
Expect Lion to prowl within the week

I expect we'll see OS X Lion begin to prowl no later than Friday, July 15. According to various reports/rumors, it's reached "Golden Master" (the final version before release).

Normally, there's a two-week period between software reaching Gold Master release and Apple software reaching consumers. However, Lion is being released through the online Mac App Store, so it could happen quicker than usual. In fact, I won't be shocked if Lion were unleashed any day now.

As we've reported before, Lion will cost US$29.99, buy you have to have Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard") already running to install it. By the way, "Computerworld" has a good article on preparing your Mac for Lion. You can find it at http://macte.ch/10S8U .

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 06
New MacBook Airs may be even more advanced than...

The new MacBook Airs are due any day now, and I'm excited about them, especially if reports are true about some high-end tech they'll be using.

Apple will adopt "Toggle DDR 2.0," a 19-nanometer process for NAND flash memory, according to a a report from the "Macotakara" (http://macte.ch/KyGcE) web site. Toggle DDR 2.0, an industry first, sports 64-gigabit flash chips manufactured using 20nm processes that boast a 400Mbps transfer rate. That makes these toggle DDR 2.0 chips about three times faster than toggle DDR 1.0 (a 133Mbps interface) -- or 10 times faster than the 40Mbps SDR NAND flash currently in use.

Apple's current SSDs offer read and write speeds of over 200MB/s, more than four times the 400Mb/s -- or 50MB/s -- offered by Toggle DDR 2.0. Apple would be chaining multiple chips together, however, providing the performance required to match or exceed today's technology, according to the "thinq"...

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Jul 05
Apple looking into macroscalar processor architecture

A new Apple patent (number 7975134) at the US Patent & Trademark Office involves a macroscalar processor architecture.

In one embodiment, an exemplary processor includes one or more execution units to execute instructions and one or more iteration units coupled to the execution units. The one or more iteration units receive one or more primary instructions of a program loop that comprise a machine executable program. For each of the primary instructions received, at least one of the iteration units generates multiple secondary instructions that correspond to multiple loop iterations of the task of the respective primary instruction when executed by the one or more execution units. Other methods and apparatuses are also described. Jeffry E. Gonion is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background of the invention: "As clock frequencies continue to rise in response to increased demands for performance, power has also increased, while deeper pipelines have exhibited a...

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Jul 05
Apple patent involves music synchronization...

An Apple patent (number 7973231) has popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a music synchronization arrangement. The invention generally pertains to a hand-held computing device.

More particularly, the invention pertains to a computing device that is capable of controlling the speed of the music so as to affect the mood and behavior of the user during an activity such as exercise. By way of example, the speed of the music can be controlled to match the pace of the activity (synching the speed of the music to the activity of the user) or alternatively it can be controlled to drive the pace of the activity (increasing or decreasing the speed of the music to encourage a greater or lower pace). One aspect of the invention relates to adjusting the tempo (or some other attribute) of the music being outputted from the computing device.

By way of example, a songs tempo may be increased or decreased before or during playing. Another aspect of the invention...

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Jul 05
Apple patent is for multi-point of sale software

An Apple patent (number 7971782) for a multi-point [of sale] transaction system has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to temporarily pairing devices to complete transactions; and more specifically to temporarily pairing at least one handheld communication device selected from a plurality of handheld communication devices with at least one payment terminal selected from a plurality of payment terminals.

Computer implemented systems and methods for conducting transactions are disclosed in the patent. In one exemplary embodiment, a method includes receiving transaction information corresponding to a transaction initiated with one of a plurality of handheld computing devices. The handheld computing device is associated with one of a plurality of payment terminals. The transaction is completed and the association between the handheld computing device and the payment terminal is terminated. Khawaja Shams is the inventor.

Here's Apple's...

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Jul 05
Greg's Bite: Microsoft loses strategy VP

By Greg Mills

When I read stories in the press about defections from Microsoft's executive suites, I consider the overall long term business situation at the Redmond campus. Since Ballmer took over from Bill Gates in 2000, Microsoft has shed half its market cap.  That is a fact. 

Rather than a string of successful new product launches, it looks more like a laundry list of epic product disasters when one considers Microsoft's failed strategies and dismal product failures. Anybody want a Kin phone?

There is a "me, too" element in Microsoft's genetic makeup. From the Windows OS inspired by the early Mac OS, Microsoft has followed the leader.  

From a strictly financial theory, attempting to emulate only successful products ought to be cheaper and more successful than actually innovating in-house.  Flawed planning, marketing and execution of product development has plagued Microsoft since Bill Gates retired to spend his money.

If I...

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Jul 05
E-book reader use in the US hits double digits for...

If Apple's iBookstore can keep expanding the number of titles it carries (I think it has around 100,000 titles compared to 700,000 or so at Amazon), it could have a bright future. The share of adults in the United States who own an e-book reader doubled to 12% in May 2011  from 6% in November 2010.  

This is the first time since the Pew Internet Project (http://pewinternet.org) began measuring e-reader use in April 2009 that ownership of this device has reached double digits among U.S. adults. Tablet computers haven't seen the same level of growth in recent months. 

These findings come from a survey conducted from April 26-May 22 among 2,277 adults ages 18 and over, including surveys in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the sample is plus or minus two percentage points.

Both e-book reader and tablet computer adoption levels among U.S. adults are still...

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Jul 05
Apple wins iPhone, Migration Assistant patents

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

Patent number 7975242 is for a portable multifunction device, method and graphical user interface for conference calling -- in other words, the iPhone. Per the patent, in some embodiments, a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display performs a method that includes: displaying a phone call user interface on the touch screen display, wherein the phone call user interface includes: a first informational item associated with an active phone call between a user of the device and a first party, a second informational item associated with a suspended phone call between the user and a second party, and a merge call icon; upon detecting a user selection of the merge call icon, merging the active phone call and the suspended phone call into a conference call between the user, the first party, and the second party, and replacing the phone...

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Jul 01
Greg's Bite: California's Internet sales tax 

By Greg Mills

Benjamin Franklin said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Margret Mitchell, in her book "Gone with the Wind," written in 1936, added another given us guys have a pass on: childbirth. She glibly stated, "Death, taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them."  True and true, do I ever hate April 15!

The Internet has been a boon to the US economy for both giant online stores and the smaller mom and pop e-stores that pop up. E-commerce has become such a factor in the national economy that states that are scraping the bottom of the barrel for money are taking a fresh look to see if they can apply more taxes to the Internet cash flow.

California leads the other state governments in innovative ways to tax the poor chumps who live in their respective states. Having lived in California for a good chunk of my lifetime, I saw for myself the effects of invasive and over-...

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