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Aug 12
Apple wants to turn your gaming performance into a...

If you play video/computer games, have you ever wanted to capture your performance in a comic book? Apple apparently thinks you want to as a new patent (number 20100203979) at the US Patent & Trademark Office indicates.

Systems and methods are provided that record data in a videogame, such as a user's character and performance in the videogame, and generate a book, e-book, or comic book based on the recorded data. A narrative data structure generated from the recorded data may include pregenerated text and images, and may provide for insertion of the recorded data into the narrative data structure. The recorded data may be converted into natural-language text for insertion into the narrative data structure. In some embodiments, the system may record screenshots of the videogame and insert the screenshots into the narrative data structure as illustrations. The narrative data structure may be provided to a location for printing as a book or other publication or may be...

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Aug 12
Greg's bite: Apple's patent app drawing flap

By Greg Mills

I was shocked, as were many other Apple observers that an Apple patent application sported an obvious rip-off of the user interface of an iOS app on the Apple App Store called "Where To?"  Apple files hundreds of patent applications on everything they do.  

Playing the tech "that is covered by our patent" game in federal court requires all the legal ammunition possible, so they try to protect all their ideas. A recent Apple patent app that was published by the US Patent Office included an illustration, in line drawing form, that was clearly an illustration of an existing iOS App owned by someone else. This gaff was no doubt embarrassing to the legal staff at Apple and I bet someone got their butt in a sling over it.

Apple has a sort of "white knight aura" about it on intellectual property issues. Apple often the target of patent trolling artists hoping to cash in on Apple's success. While certainly, in a competitive market with a...

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Aug 12
Entertainment features on computers a 'must...

A shift is happening in the way young Americans prefer to experience entertainment, with approximately 60% of surveyed college students in the US now using their computers most, and not televisions, for entertainment, according to a survey by the Dolby company (http://www.dolby.com).

Now I would argue that this means Apple should consider offering Macs with built-in TV tuners (or bundled with Elgato hardware/software) and Blu-ray. Sure, Macs are selling like hotcakes. But that doesn't mean Apple can't make 'em even more desirable.

Of the students surveyed, 77% listen to music on their computers and 70% use their computers to watch video. In addition, 64% watch entertainment on their computers with others (regularly, often, or sometimes), as opposed to just 44%of the general population surveyed.

Of college students surveyed, almost 60% expect most entertainment to be computer-based in the future....

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Aug 11
Greg's bite: eBook author payment issues

By Greg Mills

I got an inquiry this morning from an aspiring author who wondered what the threshold amounts are for Apple to cut her a check. That would seem to be an easy question to answer, but little is available either by Googling the key words or by checking the Apple web site.  

All I found was this quote from the contract authors must approve to upload their eBooks. I pasted it into this article, and it seems to say that after Apple's cut is taken out and any taxes that might be due are removed the balance due the author is paid when the check is $150 or more.   

From Apple's: EBOOK AGENCY/COMMISSIONAIRE DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT, Section 5: Commission; Tax; and Reporting, paragraph (c) "After deducting Apple’s commission, and any taxes collected by Apple under Section 5(f) hereof, from eBook Proceeds, Apple shall either remit to Publisher, or issue a credit in Publisher’s favor, subject to Apple’s standard business practices, including...

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Aug 11
Microsoft's Mac vs. PC site has some points

Microsoft has launched a site (http://macosg.me/2/of) comparing Macs to PCs. Like it or not, some of their points are valid. Let's look at the Big M's main arguments -- and my thoughts on them.

Microsoft point one: "You can't get a Mac that ships with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless."

My take: Most Macs now come with a SD card slot, which should suffice for most folks. You can add a TV tuner from companies such as Elgato (although I wouldn't mind if I could get a multimedia Mac with this built-in). It's just a matter of time before Macs get built-in 3G wireless, I think. As for Blu-ray, well, Microsoft has a point there. Sorta. You do have to install a third party Blu-ray player on a peecee.

Microsoft point two: "Unlike Macs, many PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can browse online newspapers, flick through photo albums, and shuffle files and...

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Aug 10
Apple granted patents involving Mac OS X, laptops, the...

Apple has has been granted patents for the ornamental design of a computer display (D621,414, for Mac OS X), a keyboard (D631,402), computing device (D621,409, the MacBook Pro), packaging (D621,256) and an electronic device (D621,397, the Mac mini).

The inventors listed on these patents are Andre K. Bartley, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satzger, Calvin Q. Seid, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer. Also, several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 7,773,139 is for an image sensor with photosensitive thin film transistors. It involves an image sensor array includes image sensors having photo TFTs to generate photocurrent in response to received images. The photo TFTs each have their respective gate...

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Aug 10
I'm considering one of the iMacs, but....

I have a top-of-the-line previous gen iMac with a Core i7. Someone wants to buy it from me. I'm considering selling it and buying one of the latest, top-of-the-line iMacs. However, that would still cost me a little out-of-pocket expenses.

I'm still not sure the performance difference would be worth a few hundred bucks. The i3's are a big boost from the Core 2 Duos, but the i7 is still the i7. The graphics cards in the latest iMacs are more powerful, but other than that I don't see much reason to switch. Moving to an SSD will definitely speed the boot process up and some apps will feel a little swifter, but they're still way too expensive in my opinion.

If there was USB 3.0 support, I might consider upgrading. If Blu-ray playback was part of the upgrade, baby, I'd be there. But, right now, I just haven't convinced myself to make the move.

Thoughts? Write me at dsellers@applecentral.com

-- Dennis Sellers...

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Aug 10
Greg's bite: How to publish an Apple iBook

By Greg Mills

A lot of what the empowerment of the Internet is all about is allowing everyone to do what has been hard to do in the past. Streamlining and enablement create a sort of democratization of information.

That is what computers and the giant data bases create, as the Internet seeks out the remote pockets of people who have obtained access. Publishing a book used to be a game authors played with hard copy publishers, who had the power to make or break an author.  The  only other alternative was self publishing a book, which was expensive and likely a money loser as the hard copy book publishers also control the literary market place.  

Then the notion of on line e-publishing came along. That changed everything. The process of publishing that book that is sitting on your computer in a word processor file suddenly is becoming easy to do with any Intel Mac and a bit of software.  The process is likely to be streamlined soon.

I...

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Aug 09
Greg's bite: BlackBerry agrees to local servers

By Greg Mills

RIM and Saudi Arabis reached a compromise that allows BackBerry servers to be set up in country. The established business method is that all BlackBerry servers were once in Canada.

That hid the servers  behind Canadian courts and made national security agencies upset they couldn't monitor BlackBerry email and browsing habits of locals. Last week Saudi Arabia temporarily shut down service to 750,000 Saudi RIM phones to prove they we serious with RIM.  THe solution was to continue encrypting the data streams but put RIM servers in Saudi Arabia so the security agency can monitor electronic data on the severs. The data stream is only encrypted between the servers and the phones. The data is unencrypted once it gets on the server.

This solution is sure to be demanded and agreed to by RIM in other countries around the world.  This is disaster in the making for RIM as sure as a great storm brewing in the gulf means a hurricane IS coming...

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Aug 09
Despite down economy, smartphone market on an upswing

Notwithstanding the economic downturn, the smartphone market is on an upswing, with consumers increasingly seeking devices that are well designed with innovative features and applications such as touch screen technology, wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) and location-based service (LBS), according to notes Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/). And that, of course, is good news for Apple.

These devices continue to be status symbols in the consumer and enterprise markets, says Research and Markets. In the next couple of years, software is expected to play a major role in the mobile handset market, along with more standardized hardware design, adds the research group. And, again, Apple has a leg up on the competition in this arena.

Mobile operators are likely to partner with significant participants from the Internet community, the media and the entertainment...

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Aug 06
Greg's bite: Lights out for RIM in Sauda Arabia

By Greg Mills

As I mentioned in yesterday's Greg's Bite, RIM is in a bind right now over its method of serving data from a centralized location in Canada and encrypting data streams to customers.  

This secure system, which companies love prevents a serious security risk for the national security agencies around the world that have not been able to break the encryption.  Holding customer data on local servers is a system where security agencies are able to access customer data locally. Every other smartphone in the world, that I know of, uses the local servers of the cell phone providers in each country. RIM's advantage in using encrypted data streams as an advantage to sell its customers may be about to erode.

As I mentioned in yesterday's article, the advantages of RIM are an established business customer base due to security, the blinking red light and a clicking physical key board. The clicking key board is not exclusive to RIM and touch...

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Aug 06
How about cloud storage with a 'Make DVD'...

Earlier this week I asked if perhaps Apple was planning on replacing IDVD with cloud storage (something I'm personally against). But "MacNews" reader Wayne Folta has an idea that would make it more acceptable to folks like me who like having physical media.

"What if Apple would host your videos in their cloud, and then you could choose 'Make DVD' and assemble a DVD of your chosen videos and have a nicely-printed disc mailed to your chosen recipient?" he asks. "They already do this with iPhoto (get a photo book printed), so it might make sense. More convenient for mom and pop, who won't have to worry about burning a coaster, or trying to figure out how to get their DVD to look 'professional,' with a nice photo printed onto the top side."


Good idea, Wayne. Apple, are you listening?

-- Dennis Sellers

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Aug 05
Greg's bite: Blackberry caves in to Dubai

By Greg Mills

The conflict between RIM and Dubai has been resolved -- and RIM blinked. The issue is that access to Blackberry network data within individual countries is different than other cell phone services, such as an iPhone account through AT&T.  

The authorities can go to the various cellular networks to access account information of suspected terror or crime figures, with a warrant issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. The data resides with the cell provider on its servers. The RIM security problem has come up in India, Saudi Arabia and other countries that are beginning to monitor electronic communications on a national basis.

In some cases the cellular networks roll over and give full access to all information they have on an account, or, in the case of AT&T, they are a bit less forthcoming and demand a warrant for every bit of information they give up. Here Sprint is the easy cellular network to provide customer data...

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Aug 05
Apple wants their idevices to enhance your shopping...

An Apple patent (number 20100198626) involving systems and methods for accessing shopping center services using a portable electronic device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's directed to systems and methods for enhancing a user's experience at a shopping center. In particular, it's directed to providing a "heat map" to indicate popular areas of or products in a mall.

In some embodiments, an integrated application available on an electronic device can provide information for promotional and available sales of goods and services, allow a user to browse and search through available content providers of the shopping center, such as parking, restaurants, and clothing stores, to purchase content based on the personal needs of a user. In some embodiments, an application available on an electronic device can check for the availability of particular items and show ratings or reviews for stores carrying the items. In some embodiments, In particular, the...

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Aug 05
Apple patent is for integrating an electronic device...

A new Apple patent (number 20100198453) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and involves integrating a portable device with a bicycle. The electronic device can receive the output from sensors coupled to the bicycle and generate riding characteristics for display to the user.

The electronic device can in addition receive communications from other electronic devices and provide the communications to the user. In some embodiments, the electronic device can be paired with the devices of one or more other cyclists so that the cyclists can share riding characteristics and other information. This can allow the cyclists to ride as a team and better assist each other. The inventors are Jesse L. Dorogusker, Anthony Fadell, Andrew Hodge, Allen P. Haughay, Scott Krueger, James Eric Mason, Donald J. Novotney, Emily Clark Schubert, Policarpo Wood and Timothy Johnson.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Many bicyclists desire accessing different information...

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Aug 05
Apple patent involves software fingerprinting

An Apple patent (number 20100199266) involving software fingerprinting has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to analyzing software performance, and more particularly, to a system, method, and program for graphically presenting code execution data in order to quickly identify of areas of code which may represent opportunities for optimization.

A system, method, and computer program for analyzing code execution and software performance characteristics are disclosed. Samples of executing code may be taken based on any of a number of various triggers. For example, samples may be triggered based on function calls, such as malloc calls. Alternatively, samples may be triggered based on occurrence of a specified event. Code execution is graphically displayed such that certain patterns may be easily identified. Multiple redundant function calls and areas of code having excessively deep function calls can be readily spotted. Such areas represent...

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Aug 05
Hey, Apple, here's a company to buy: XStreamHD

Well, Apple, if you're not going to support Blu-ray playback, if you're determined that iTunes be the alpha and omega of music/movie/video/etc. rental and purchasing, and if you ever get serious about dominating the living room, maybe you should consider buying XStream HD (http://www.xstreamhd.com).

The company's goal is to oversee a major shift distribution of high-definition (HD) content to and throughout consumers’ homes by offering the first transport network to deliver Full 1080p HD video and 7.1 channels of lossless audio directly to the home. XStreamHD’s network -- first announced in 2008 -- utilizes existing geosynchronous satellites to transport HD content to its proprietary media server via a small aperture DTH satellite antenna for distribution to multiple media portals throughout the home.

Consumers will no longer have to endure tedious Internet downloads, wait in midnight lines, or...

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Aug 04
Sharp introduces triple-layer Blu-ray Disc media

I'll never quit harping on this until I get Blu-ray playback support on the Mac (which probably means I have a lifetime of disappointment ahead of me). But it still chafes me that I could buy an US$1,000 Dell and get a feature that I can't get on a Mac at any price.

And Blu-ray continues to gain ground and advantages. Sharp Corp. plans to introduce the VR-100BR1 triple-layer Blu-ray Disc media (write-once) that conforms to the BDXL™ format specification, the new multi-layer recordable Blu-ray Disc format, a world first. These new Blu-ray Discs will be available in Japan any day now.

This disc media product conforms to the new BDXL format specification that extends the storage capacity of Blu-ray Discs to 100GB, twice the 50GB storage capacity of existing dual-layer discs. This new format enables recording approximately 12 hours of terrestrial digital TV broadcasts approximately 8.6 hours of BS digital TV broadcasts. It expands the range of applications for Blu-ray...

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Aug 03
Apple wins patents for the iMac, Apple TV, more

Apple has won several patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office, including design patents for the iMac and Apple TV.

Patent D620932 is for the ornamental design of a computer (the iMac) and patent D620,953 is for the ornamental design of a media device (the Apple TV). The inventors listed on these patents are Andre K. Bartley, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satzger, Calvin Q. Seid, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number 7,760,903 is for intelligent interaction between a media player and host computer. Improved techniques for interaction between a host computer (e.g., personal computer) and a media player are disclosed. According to one aspect, interaction between a host computer and a media player, such as automatic synchronization of media contents...

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Aug 03
Greg's bite: piracy of Android apps verses iTunes

By Greg Mills

Remember the early days of the Apple iTunes store? There were a few brave music companies who posted their music, since the industry was reeling from rampant piracy. It was a free for all with music being stolen left and right.  

Napster and other web sites facilitated the "trading" or downright stealing of copyrighted music. It was such a problem the industry was convinced the Internet was going to kill them off financially. The Internet created a mentality that everything online was free for the downloading.  Copyright laws are still violated, despite serious laws and penalties. Sometimes some a poor miserable pirate is hung high with fines of thousands of dollars per stolen song, but the truth is you are more likely to win the lottery than get caught stealing copyrighted material and being fined for it.

Apple saw that intellectual property rights, patents, copyrights and trademarks had to be respected for a viable on-line...

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Aug 03
Does Apple plan on replacing iDVD with cloud storage?

Recently I lamented that Apple seems about to drop iDVD from the iLife suite. I think that's a mistake, but "Macsimum" reader John Konopka points out that Apple often gives us a replacement if they drop something.

Could it be that the giant server site that Apple is building in Maiden, North Carolina, will be the replacement for iDVD? Rather than burning DVDs Apple may want us to send movies to the cloud from which they can be accessed almost anywhere.

This won't satisfy the people making actual films, but it should be a fine YouTube replacement, John notes. True, but I still maintain that there's lots of us folks who would rather have physical media than our stuff stored in the cloud. Or at least in addition to cloud storage.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Aug 02
3D TV shipments projected to reach 3.4 million this...

Another reason why I think we'll see 3D Macs at some point in the not-too-distant future (say, within four years, tops): the DisplaySearch research group (http://www.displaysearch.com) forecasts 3.4 million 3D TVs to be shipped in 2010, with the market expected to reach 42.9 million in 2014.

Based on this forecast, 3D TV market penetration is expected to grow from a 5% share of total flat panel TVs in 2010 to 37% in 2014. Despite the forecasted growth for 3D TVs, the consumer electronics industry is running ahead of content availability, as 3D content for TV remains limited to a small number of movies, plus some sports events on pay TV, which are dependent on cable providers.

Blockbuster movies in 3D, such as "Avatar," won't be available for 3D TV in 2010. In addition, the low penetration of Blu-ray players, and especially HD broadcasts, outside of North America and Japan affects...

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Jul 30
The 'religion' of Apple

I'm one of the biggest Apple supporters around -- and have been even during its "beleaguered" years (when I actually did some freelance PR work for the local Apple education branch) -- but I certainly don't consider Apple my religion. Or a religion, at all.

I'm a Christian, and proud of it. On the other hand, I'm a fervent (well, usually) supporter of Apple products, but certainly don't worship them or the company that makes them. The same can be said of other Christians -- and Jews, Hindus, Muslims, etc. -- worldwide.

However, in a research paper published this month (http://macosg.me/2/m9) by two professors at Texas A&M University, the authors argue that the only way to understand the slavish adoration and over-the top financial success of Apple and the iPhone is to understand its minimalist, white-walled stores as the new churches of the tech generation.

"The religious-like behavior and...

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Jul 29
Apple wants you to dress up in its Virtual Closet

Pretty soon you may be able to dress yourself online in a Virtual Closet if Apple has its way. The company has filed two patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office for such a venture.


Patent number 20100191770 is for a system and methods for providing a Virtual Fashion closet. Fashion items can be added to the Virtual Closet. Outfits may then be created by combining two or more of the fashion items. In some embodiments, the Virtual Closet system can create recommended outfits based on weather, season, or the user's calendar.

The Virtual Closet system can allow a vendor to send recommended fashion items that may complete an outfit to a user for potential purchasing. In some embodiments, a social networking Virtual Closet can be provided. The social networking Virtual Closet can allow friends to see each other's Virtual Closets, recommend outfits to one another, recommend fashion items to buy, recommend fashion items to get rid of, recommend outfits to wear at a...

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Jul 29
Apple patent is for generating 3D model using portable...

Apple wants you to be able to use your iPhone, iPod touch and perhaps your iPad to be able to navigate a real-world environment via 3D images A new company patent (number 20100188503) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for generating a three-dimensional model using a portable electronic device recording.

According to Apple, an electronic device can load and provide an initial display of a three dimensional model (e.g., of an environment or of an object). As the user moves the electronic device, motion sensing components, positioning circuitry, and other components can detect the device movement and adjust the displayed portion of the three-dimensional model to reflect the movement of the device.

By walking with the device in the user's real environment, a user can virtually navigate a representation of a three-dimensional environment. In some embodiments, a user can record an object or environment using an electronic device, and tag the recorded...

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Jul 29
Apple patents involve accelerometer, deterministic...

Several Apple patents involving the accelerometer and other deterministic methods of navigation of the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20100188331 is for methods and apparatuses for operating a portable device based on an accelerometer. According to one embodiment of the invention, a movement of a portable device is detected using an accelerometer attached to the portable device. An orientation of the portable device after the movement is determined based on movement data provided by the accelerometer. It is determined whether the portable device is held by a user after the movement based on the movement data provided by the accelerometer. Locations of the hands of the user for holding the portable device are determined based on the orientation of the portable device. At least one interface that is not within the predicted locations of the hands of the user is activated. The inventors are Paul...

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Jul 29
Apple patent aims to make it easier to retrieve items...

An Apple patent (number 7,765,213) for an ordered index has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The company is examining ways to make the retrieval of information easier and more efficient on Mac OS X.

Systems and methods for processing an index are described. A postings list of items containing a particular term are ordered in a desired retrieval order, e.g., most recent first. The ordered items are inserted into an inverted index in the desired retrieval order, resulting in an ordered inverted index from which items may be efficiently retrieved in the desired retrieval order. During retrieval, items may first be retrieved from a live index, and the retrieved items from the live and ordered indexes may be merged. The retrieved items may also be filtered in accordance with the items' file grouping parameters. The inventors are Wayne Loofbourrow, John Martin Hoernkvist, Eric Richard Koebler and Yan Arrouye.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the...

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Jul 29
Apple looks at cooling electronic devices using...

Apple is always looking for ways to make its Macs run cooler. Now a company patent (number 7,764,493) for systems and methods for cooling electronic devices using airflow dividers has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

An electronic device can be provided with a heat-generating component and a cooling module for dissipating heat. In some embodiments, the cooling component may include a fan configured to produce an outflow of air, and a divider configured not only to direct a first portion of the outflow between a first surface of the divider and the heat-generating component, but also to direct a second portion of the outflow along a second surface of the divider. In other embodiments, the cooling component may include a divider and a pressure clip. A first portion of the pressure clip may be configured to exert a pressure on a first surface of the divider such that the pressure may hold a portion of a second surface of the divider in contact with the heat-...

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Jul 29
I'd hate for Apple to drop iDVD, but I suspect it...

The rumor mill says that iLife will be updated next month, going to 64-bit, introducing a "mystery" application and dropping iDVD.

It won't be surprising if Apple drops iDVD, but it will be disappointing. Apple -- or at least Steve Jobs -- seem determined to phase out CD and DVD support, hoping Apple users will go completely digital. And, no doubt, turn to MobileMe, iTunes and other Apple services for buying and storing all their content.

The rumor mill also says that Apple will continue to offer iDVD as a download. I hope that's true. And I hope that the app will continue to be updated as Mac OS X is updated. But I suspect it will simply be allowed to languish a la iMovie HD --- which, I maintain, was still lots better than the version of iMovie that now ships with iLife.

But the writing has been on the wall for awhile. When Apple introduced iLife '09, iDVD was barely mentioned. It wasn't updated and received no new themes.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 28
Greg's bite: Blue Screen of death=oil spill?

By Greg Mills

It is just coming out in the inquest over the largest oil spill in US history that the accident might have to do with a PC which was monitoring and controlling the drilling rig suffering a blue screen of death freeze.   

While it has not come out yet which operating system crashed, I don't recall ever having a blue screen of death event in my 25 years of using over a dozen various Macs . Hmmm, I wonder what operating system it might have been ....

The steady increase in business adoption of things Apple has a lot to do with overhead in the long term. How much time will be lost due to OS crashes? How many IP guys will it take to keep the servers up? What is the learning curve on the OS and the company computers in general? The old refrain, "Macs are great, but there just isn't software to do what we need to do that is available on Apple computers" is not really so relevant any more.

Smart phones are going the same way. As...

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Jul 28
Apple wins design patents

Apple has won several design patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office. Several others have also appeared. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7,7645,236 is for a broadband antenna for handheld devices (namely, iPhone antennas). Broadband antennas and handheld electronic devices with broadband antennas are provided. A handheld electronic device has integrated circuits, a display, and a battery mounted within a housing. The housing has a planar inner surface. A broadband antenna for the handheld electronic device has a ground element and a resonating element. The ground element and resonating element may have the same shape and may have the same size. The ground element and resonating element may lie in a common plane and be separated by a gap that lies in the common plane. The plane in which the ground element and resonating element lie may be parallel to the planar inner surface of the housing. Electronic components such as the integrated...

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Jul 28
Well, maybe I won't have to upgrade to the latest...

Well, maybe I won't have to update to the newest iMac, after all. I was expecting a wham-bam, gotta-have update to the all-in-one desktop, but found the latest rev a bit underwhelming.

Sure, all new iMac models come standard with Intel Core processors built on a new architecture. Based on Intel’s 32-nanometer process technology, these processors set new benchmarks for iMac performance. And the the ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB of memory is an option. But my iMac has a quad-core Core i7 running at 2.8GHz and an ATI Radeon 4850 with 512MB of VRAM. So how much of a performance boost would I honesty see?

I like the idea of the Magic Trackpad and the Apple Battery Charger. But they're US$69 and $29 options, respectively, so I can get them for my current iMac.

My present system was the top-of-the-line iMac when I bought it last October. So, unless I'm missing something, guess I'll save my moolah for an iMac update that offers some really must-have additions -- at...

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Jul 26
New iMacs, Mac Pros coming soon?

Various sources say the Mac Pro, the iMac and the Cinema Display will get updates soon, perhaps as early as Tuesday. Look for USB 3 support to be added, and perhaps Firewire 1600/3200.

I also suspect the new iMac will sport an HDMI port. What you almost certainly won't see is Blu-ray (which means Apple is still lagging Windows competitors in this area).

The new iMacs will probably pack faster Core i5 and/or i7 processors. I think there's a chance -- though perhaps a slim one -- that a high-end iMac might come in a six-core option.

As for the Mac Pro, look for Apple to go with faster six-core Xeon processors with perhaps a "low-end" quad-core model.

"AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) says the new rev of the Cinema Display will have a display resolution of 2560 x 1400 pixels. That sounds about right.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 26
The Northern Spy: Got your back up?

Got your back-up? The Spy has. Indeed, he is as much a back-up as a security paranoiac (refuses to connect to any network without interposing a firewall, for instance). He does not use the Documents folder on the boot partition.

Instead, his machines at work and at home each have a partition called "Files" where all working documents and email is stored (generally on a separate physical drive from the one with the boot partition). He carries about in his pocket a portable multi-interface drive, two of whose partitions are named FilesWork.bak and FilesHome.bak. The routine goes like this:

In the morning before leaving for the university, he backs up the Files partition at home to Files.bak. Upon reaching the ivory basement, he restores the latter to the Files partition on the machine there. When the day's work is done, he backs up to FilesWork.bak, and on reaching home, restores to the Files partition there.

A workable strategy? Yes, he rarely loses any files...

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Jul 26
38% of Americans hit (or nearly hit) by cell phone...

I know you just love talking on your new iPhone 4 (and, nope, no "antennagate" jokes here). But puh-leeze don't do it while you're driving.

U.S. drivers say they are seeing first-hand the danger of driving while distracted -- or DWD; add a new acronym to your vocabulary. A new public opinion poll conducted by Harris Interactive for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company shows nearly four out of 10 (38%) drivers say they have been hit or nearly hit by a driver distracted by their cell phone.

The telephone survey of 1,004 adults conducted in June confirms Americans’ increasing use of smart phone applications is creating new distractions behind the wheel in addition to talking on the phone and texting while driving. According to a previous DWD survey (conducted for Nationwide by Harris Interactive in April), among the millions of Americans who download mobile applications for smart phones, more than one in four admit to using those apps while driving.

“The number of...

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Jul 23
Greg's bite: Apple could help with India's...

By Greg Mills

There is a story in the international press today that tells how the government of India is touting an Internet connecting touch screen pad that runs Linux, with a browser, has PDF display capabilities, WiFi, 2GBs of memory and potentially email and other features.  

India has 250,000 villages that need to be dragged into age of the Internet. The prototyped device, called "Nano" is designed to offer communications for the government to interface with all the little villages and support educational programs, as well.

The second major stab at an affordable computer for the world's poor, the new pad has promise.  It's set to launch in early 2011. The XO "One Laptop per Child" program has not been able to meet its goal of selling their units under $100, as hoped. The rock bottom, no frills devices are hardly comparable to anything we would use in the US, but they do fill a crying need.  

The bill of materials alone, before...

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Jul 23
More voice enabled apps needed for iOS devices

We need more voice-enabled apps for our iOS devices. But let me explain. Macs have been able to handle limited speech recognition for a while now. And the new iPhone 4 has some additional speech control built-in.

That implies a Cocoa library, although as best I can ascertain, it's not a public library for developers to use. If I'm right, then Apple should go public with it, so that we can have more voice-enabled applications. For example, while you can use things like Vlingo or even Dragon to create voice text messages, they either cost more money to use or require extra steps to send a simple text.

An Apple Messages app needs to be able to use the speech recognition library to translate your speech into a text message and then be able to do text-to-speech to read the text responses back to you. Other phones are picking up on this general ability. Apple has the capability, and I'd love to see it used -- in the iPhone and iPad.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 22
Apple patent is for contactless plug detect mechanism

An Apple patent (number 20100182159) for a contactless plug detect mechanism has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. This is directed to systems and methods for detecting the insertion of a plug in a device port without physically contacting the plug.

For example, systems and methods are provided for detecting the insertion of an audio plug into an audio jack without using physical contacts placed in the periphery of the audio jack. In some embodiments, an electrically conductive element (e.g., a circuit board trace) can be provided on a surface of the port or within the port wall. When a metallic or conductive plug is inserted into the port, the plug can interact with the conductive element and cause a change in capacitance or induction detected by appropriate circuitry coupled to the conductive element.

In some embodiments, an optical sensor can be used to detect a plug placed in a port. In some embodiments, the electronic device can detect...

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Jul 22
Apple patent is for audio player with monophonic mode...

The patent is for an audio player includes an audio headset having two earpieces. A playback circuit provides one of a stereophonic program and a monaural program to the audio headset. The monaural program may be created by mixing channels of the stereophonic program. A mode control is coupled to the playback circuit and to the audio headset. The mode control detects when at least one of the two earpieces is not adjacent a listener's ear and causes the playback circuit to deliver the monaural program to the audio headset. The inventors ar Shaohai Chen, Phillip George Tamchina and Jae Han Lee.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A listener may utilize a headset in order to receive an audio program in private and personalized manner. Headsets typically include a right earpiece and a left earpiece coupled to a right and left channel of audio, respectively.

"There may be times when the listener may wish to listen to the audio program with only one of...

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Jul 22
Uh, Steve, folks seem to like those Blu-ray discs

And here's another reason I think Apple should seriously consider adding Blu-ray playback to the Mac: worldwide Blu-ray player shipments are expected to more than double between 2009 and the end of 2010, and the numbers from ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com) forecast continued growth next year, for a total of more than 62.5 million shipments in 2011.

In North America standalone Blu-ray players are expected to reach almost 18% penetration among TV-owning households, up from just over 7% in 2009. As interesting as this estimate is, it's just part of a larger picture.

"The solid growth in Blu-ray player shipments highlights a trend within the wider consumer electronics market," says industry analyst Mike Inouye. "Larger, fixed-location devices such as Blu-ray players and flat panel TVs are enjoying rapid adoption relative to many classes of small, portable devices. Specifically, portable...

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Jul 21
So how'd I do in my Apple financial predictions?

Apple announced record setting financials yesterday. I had made my predictions prior to the announcement. So how'd I do?

I predicted that Apple e sold 3.52 million Macs, compared to 2.6 million from the same period a year ago. Apple actually sold 3.47 million Macs, so I was a bit too optimistic in my prognosis.

I predicted that Apple sold 10 million iPhones during the quarter, compared to 5.2 million from the same period a year ago. Apple actually sold 8.4 million, so I was way too optimistic in this regard.

I predicted that Apple sold 10.1 million iPods during the quarter, compared to 10.2 for the same period a year ago. The actual figure was 9.41, so, again, I was too high.

Lastly, I forecast that Apple sold 3.5 million iPads during the quarter. In reality it was 3.27 million.

Seems the Street always underestimates Apple, while I -- at least this time around -- was too rosy in my crystal ball grazing.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 20
Apple patent is for visual expander for touchscreen...

An Apple patent (number 7,760,187) for a visual expander has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It seems to concern an upcoming feature for the iOS -- and perhaps Mac OS X.

A computer implemented method for a touchscreen display is disclosed. The method includes presenting graphical information on the touchscreen display. The method further includes detecting a touch over the touchscreen display. The method also includes expanding an area of the touch screen display proximate the location of the touch. The inventor is Peter Kennedy.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "There exist today many styles of input devices for performing operations in a computer system. The operations generally correspond to moving a cursor and/or making selections on a display screen. By way of example, the input devices may include buttons or keys, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch screens and the like. Each of these devices has advantages...

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Jul 20
Apple patents range from synching to circuit switching

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Apple patent 7,760,767 is for wide area peer-to-peer synching in a decentralized environment. A system and method are disclosed for synchronizing data between devices and more particularly for synchronizing data between a plurality of peer-to-peer devices in a decentralized environment where no one device stores the most "recent" or "true" version of the data. Embodiments of the invention relate concepts of discovering synchronizing peers, communication between peers using special techniques, and using a way station concept as an aid for both discovery and synchronization between peers that are not simultaneously available. The inventors are Bruce Nilo, Gordie Freedman and Toby Paterson.

Patent number 7,761,798 is for a system and method for controlling the screen appearance for a data processing system. In one embodiment, a data...

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Jul 20
What can we expect from today's Apple's...

Apple will announce its third quarter fiscal results today at 2 pm (Pacific). Here's what the Sellers Research Firm (that's me) is predicting.

I expect Apple to report net income of $2.9 billion, up from $1.8 billion during the year-ago quarter.

Apple will have sold 3.52 million Macs, compared to 2.6 million from the same period a year ago.

Apple will have sold 10 million iPhones during the quarter, compared to 5.2 million from the same period a year ago.

Apple will have sold 10.1 million iPods during the quarter, compared to 10.2 for the same period a year ago.

Apple will have sold 3.5 million iPads during the quarter.

We'll be covering the financial announcements, of course, so check back today to see how the Sellers Research firm did.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 19
Will tablet devices hurt sales of other devices? Not...

A new study by Rethink Technology Research found that about three quarters of the sales of tablet devices, such as the iPad, will be at the expense of the purchase or upgrade of another device in many case one with higher price tags and margins than the tablet.

Vendors will hope these will be companion products, acquired in addition to a phone or notebook, but that means the prices have to be keen, to encourage consumers in a recession to invest in a non essential item, says the research group. Even Apple has come in with an iPad entry price far lower than most had expected, and a recent research note from Credit Suisse points out that Apple management noted that it will remain nimble (pricing could change if the company is not attracting as many customers as anticipated). Remember, Apple slashed the price of the iPhone by $200 two months after it went on sale.

Apple stands to make margins of almost 43% on the new tablet, so has plenty of room for maneuvering, but...

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Jul 16
What I want in the next iMac

I suspect we'll see new iMacs introduced in the September/October timeframe in time for the back-to-school shopping season). Here's what I expect to see -- as well as some things I hope to see.

The next iMac will probably include USB 3.0 and HDMI ports. Naturally, it will include speed boosts; I suspect we'll see a high-end six-core model running Intel's 3.2GHz Core i7-970 processor. Or perhaps even the 3.33GHz Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, Both feature Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost features and support 1066MHz DDR3 memory.

Or perhaps -- though less likely -- the next iMacs will sport "Sandy Bridge" processors. The difference between the Nehalem-based chips of today and Sandy Bridge is that the latter's architecture takes everything down to 32nm -- including the graphics processor and memory controller -- while keeping it all within the same enclosure. (Intel plans to eventually transition to a 22nm process.)

Intel claims that Sandy Bridge will increase...

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Jul 15
Apple patent shows new dock connectors for idevices

A new Apple patent (number 20100177476) has popped up that shows the company is working on new dock connectors that would allow idevices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to be docked in either horizontal or landscape orientations.

The invention relates generally to docking stations for portable electronic devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to docking stations for portable electronic devices, which have planar like configurations and that operate in multiple orientations. Even more particularly, the present invention relates to improved techniques for transferring data and/or power between portable electronic devices and the docking stations.

The patent involves methods and apparatuses for docking a portable electronic device that has a planar like configuration and that operates in multiple orientations. The docking system includes a portable electronic device capable of operating in multiple orientations including vertical and...

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Jul 15
What should Apple do about the iPhone 4?

First off, let me note that I don't have an iPhone 4 -- and won't until I Verizon (or Spring or T-Mobile) carries it. The AT&T reception is just terrible where I live. Still, despite all the hoopla over the antenna/reception issue, I'd love to have one.

That's not to say that Apple doesn't have a major problem on its hands with the iPhone 4, though it's more of a PR problem than a technical issue. And if I were a betting man, I'd place money on the Apple NOT having a recall of its latest smartphone line.

Sure, "Consumer Reports" has said it can't recommend the iPhone 4 due to antenna/reception problems -- if there are indeed problems. And I'm personally skeptical that there are major technical problems with the iPhone 4.

I know four people who have bought an iPhone 4; none of them are having any issues. Well, at least no more than they did with their iPhone 3Gs or 3Gses (thanks, AT&T). Changewave Research says there's still an incredible amount of...

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Jul 14
Donovan's Views: more than one Hong Kong Apple...

By Gaurang Donovan

The others missed this in their reporting on Apple's China second entrance. The Hong Kong press included as far as I, and three others, can tell.

On July 8, Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Ron Johnson appeared and spoke at the new Shanghai Pudong store to media representatives a few days before the store opened. His talk was captured on video and you can find it through this link: http://macosg.me/2/iv .

In reference to the Shanghai Pudong store, he stated: "We view this store as kind for a launching pad for 25 stores that we will open throughout China by 2012."

At just past the minute mark of the video he continued: "We will be adding mores stores in Shanghai, in Beijing, our first stores in Hong Kong and stores throughout many of the cities in mainland China"

He said "our first stores in Hong Kong" implying more than one actual store was...

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Jul 14
What's in store for the Mac? Some of YOUR...

I've been offering my thoughts on what we might see in a Mac in recent columns. We'll conclude the series (for now) with a few thoughts from our "MacNews" readers.

Here's what Ray Comeau would like to see: "What I want to see in a future Mac laptop, is the ability to scan a document directly into a documents folder without the need to buy more hardware. Just imagine getting a piece of paper you need for tax purposes or legal reasons or for long term archiving and being able to scan into a doc folder at any place at any time. (In the airport waiting for a flight, in a clients office during a meeting, sitting in a presentation, etc.) I am not always in my office or home when need to scan a document. For road warriors this is a great practical addendum."

Loren Kruse says: "I believe we need to see a generation of software advancement for the Mac. I I would love to see a new touch interface for the Mac. Maybe a combo where you could still use the mouse but also use a...

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