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Apr 21
iOS security issue giving Apple a big, black eye

Apple once blasted Big Brother. Now some folks think it's becoming Big Brother with concerns over the company's "spying" features in iOS 4, a matter that's giving the company a big black eye. Maybe two.

Security researchers at Privacy International (https://www.privacyinternational.org) says that iOS 4 keeps track of where you go and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronized, according to "The Guardian" (http://macte.ch/RcpCR).

Like many others, US Senator Al Franken isn't happy with the situation, which he says raises "serious privacy concerns." He's sent a letter -- which you can read in its entirety at...

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Apr 21
Apple working on portable device covers with...

Think the Smart Cover for the iPad 2 is intelligent? Just wait. Apple is working on follow-up devices that may reach the genius level. An Apple patent (number 20110090626) for a cover for a portable electronic device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, the cover can include at least one electrical component. For example, in one embodiment, an electrical component can be embedded in the cover. When the cover is placed on or mated with the portable electronic device, the electrical component embedded in the cover is able to interact with electrical circuitry of the portable electronic device. Advantageously, the cover can not only provide a protective and/or ornamental covering for the portable electronic device but can also augment the electrical capabilities of the portable electronic device. The inventors are Quin C. Hoellwarth and Brett Gregory Alten.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Typically, the surfaces...

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Apr 21
Greg's bite: iOS 4 tracks your every move

By Greg Mills

The notion of privacy is a right only inferred by the Constitution of the Untied States rather than being a specifically enumerated right, such as those rights mentioned in the US Constitution's Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion is an example of an enumerated right.  

The courts have found that an inherent "expectation of privacy" in most situations exists for us all. Without a warrant the government may not search our homes or dig into our private papers, for example. Little did I suspect the iPhone and iPad I carry most of the time represent an incredible potential invasion of my privacy.

Apple has gone on record as supporting the right of privacy for users of Apple devices. Steve Jobs has publicly stated that tracking users of web browsers without them "opting in" for such tracking is wrong. I agree. 

Recently, it was announced that the Apple Safari web browser under Mac OS Lion would have a "do not track" preference...

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Apr 21
Apple patent is for an electronic sighting compass

An Apple patent (number 20110090244) for an electronic sighting compass has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates to a portable electronic device -- iPhones, no doubt, as well as, perhaps, iPod touches and iPads -- having a compass function and, more particularly, to a device wherein the compass function is integrated with a camera function to provide an electronic sighting compass.

Per the patent, a portable electronic device provides a compass bearing display juxtaposed with or superimposed on a camera viewfinder display. The device includes an image sensor and an electronic compass. When the device is held with the image sensor pointed in a generally horizontal direction, the displayed viewfinder image from the image sensor is combined with a graphic indicating a compass bearing corresponding to the imaging axis of the image sensor. The display may be presented as a linear scale to indicate off-axis headings as well. Achim Pantfoerder is...

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Apr 21
Mac beats the growth of PC industry overall -- again

Though iPad sales were less than anticipated and iPod sales were (as expected) down, Apple had a bang-up fiscal 2011 second quarter with great Mac and iPhone sales. So how did I do on my predictions? Let's see...

What I predicted:

iPhone unit sales: 17.7 million
iPod unit sales: 10.3 million
Mac unit sales: 3.7 million
iPad unit sales: 7.5 million
Revenue: $24 billion
EPS: $5.90

The real results:

iPhone unit sales: 18.65 million
iPod unit sales: 9.02 million
Mac unit sales: 3.76 million
iPad unit sales: 4.69 million
Revenue: $24.67 billion
EPS: $6.40

The Mac has been beating the overall PC industry in terms of growth for 20 consecutive quarters. But, as noted by (http://www.asymco.com) -- a site that offers "curated market intelligence" -- if you count the iPad too, the difference is astounding.

The bottom line is...

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Apr 21
Apple granted 'unibody' design patent

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20110088838) for self fixturing assembly techniques used in creating the "unibody" design of many Macs, including the portable line.

A process, apparatus, and system for joining at least two work pieces together using at least two adhesives each having substantially different cure times. A first adhesive having a first cure time is used to form a first bond between the two workpieces, the first adhesive having a first cure time.

A second adhesive having a second cure time, the second cure time being substantially shorter than the first cure time is used to form a fixturing bond. The fixturing bond maintaining the first and second workpieces in position prior to the first adhesive curing. The inventors are Peter M. Thompson, Martin Adamcyk, Timothy G. Van Vorhis, Arthur J. Lucchesi, Thomas A. Moore and Matthew B. Morris.

Here's Apple's summary of the patent: The outward appearance of a portable computing device,...

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Apr 21
Great companies, lousy stocks

By Bill Gunderson
of Gunderson Capital Management (http://www.PWstreet.com)

I’m selling my book on-line. Thanks to Google AdWords, they are flying through cyberspace.

Does that mean I am telling my clients to rush out and buy Google?

Not a chance.

Johnson & Johnson make some of the most trusted health care products in the world. Surely there is room in my list of 157 Best Stocks Now for such an important part of our national life. No. Not if you want to make money.

I’m using Microsoft products to write, send and read this article. Don’t even think about putting this in your portfolio.

These are all good companies. Great companies. But lousy stocks. Let’s see why.

When Google went public seven years ago, it made a lot of people a lot of money. When the company founders told Wall Street analysts they were not going to play the quarterly...

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Apr 20
Greg's bite: RIM's PlayBook teardown

By Greg Mills

As with most any piece of new electronic hardware, the iFixit site sends someone to stand in line to scoop up one unit for immediate teardown. They meticulously pry the darn thing open and prepare a parts list of the innards.  

They estimate the cost to assemble the device and what the parts list amounts to. Then they post pictures and cost to manufacture the new item for all the world to see (http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/BlackBerry-PlayBook-Teardown/5265/1).

As it turns out PlayBook is pretty well constructed and has four speakers, two cameras and pretty good memory and processors. Today at 3 pm (Eastern) iFixit will release their estimated cost to manufacture the PlayBook. They are working to identify all the chips and parts used to estimate a likely cost to RIM for each...

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Apr 20
My predictions for Apple's financial announcements

Apple will announce its fiscal year 2011 second quarter results this afternoon. As always, I'm offering my predictions on what to expect.

For the quarter, analysts are predicting net earnings of US$5.35 per share on revenue of $23.27 billion, above Apple's guidance of $4.90 profit per share on $22 billion of revenue. Apple's year-ago results for the second fiscal quarter of 2010 included net earnings of $3.33 per share on revenue of $13.50 billion. Here's my forecast:

iPhone unit sales: 17.7 million
iPod unit sales: 10.3 million
Mac unit sales: 3.7 million
iPad unit sales: 7.5 million
Revenue: $24 billion
EPS: $5.90

Tune in later today to see how I did...

-- Dennis Sellers

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Apr 19
Apple patents relate to Apple TV, iTunes, iTV

Apple has been granted two patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office for the Apple TV (referred to as the iTV in the patents) and iTunes. They could also relate to the rumored HDTV Apple is working on, if you buy into those rumors.

Patent number 7930650 is for an user interface with menu abstractions and content abstractions. Per the patent media menu items are generated within a media interface environment. Media menu item abstractions are generated, one of the media menu item abstractions arranged in a foreground position, and one or more of the media menu item abstractions arranged in background positions in the media interface environment. Selection of a media menu items transitions to a corresponding content menu interface. The inventors are Rainer Brodersen, Rachel Claire Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Mihnea Calin Pacurariu, Eric Taylor Seymour, Jeff Robbin and Thomas Micheal Madden.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Media devices, such as...

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Apr 19
Greg's bite: Apple sues and gets sued again

By Greg Mills

Anyone who reads a lot about Apple and the tech world run into articles regarding lawsuits over various patents, trademarks and other legal issues between the major tech players. One of the boiler plate lines in standard incorporations papers is the line that the new corporations can "sue and be sued." As a legal "person" corporations can be sued for the things they do or fail to do, especially performing or not preforming contractual duties. Corporations can also own real property and "intellectual property".  

Intellectual property amounts to ideas that are protected by law, such as patented inventions, copyrights, trademarks and the like. To understand the current legal bluster from Apple, one needs to recall the history of the company and the long running and bitter battle Apple fought with Microsoft over the look and feel of the Mac OS, which Bill Gates famously "used" to create Windows 1.   

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Apr 19
eBooks enjoy triple digital percentage growth in...

In what has to be good news for Apple and its iBookstore, the February 2011 sales report of the Association of American Publishers, shows that eBooks enjoyed triple digital percentage growth (202.3%) in February 2011 compared to February 2010.

The report, produced by the trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry, tracks monthly and year-to-date publishers’ net sales revenue in all categories of commercial, education, professional and scholarly books and journals. For February 2011, eBooks ranked as the number one format among all categories of Trade publishing (Adult Hardcover, Adult Paperback, Adult Mass Market, Children’s/Young Adult Hardcover, Children’s/Young Adult Paperback).

This one-month surge is primarily attributed to a high level of strong post-holiday eBook buying, or “loading,” by consumers who received eReader devices as gifts. Experts note that the expanded selection of eReaders introduced for the holidays and the broader availability of...

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Apr 19
Apple wins iPhone, iPod touch patents

Apple has been granted three patents relating to the iPhone and iPod touch by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 7928965 is for a touch screen RFID tag reader. The efficient incorporation of RFID circuitry within touch sensor panel circuitry is disclosed. The RFID antenna can be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel can now additionally function as an RFID transponder. No separate space-consuming RFID antenna is necessary.

Loops (single or multiple) forming the loop antenna of the RFID circuit (for either reader or tag applications) can be formed from metal on the same layer as metal traces formed in the borders of a substrate. Forming loops from metal on the same layer as the metal traces are advantageous in that the loops can be formed during the same processing step as the metal traces, without requiring a separate metal layer. The inventors are Michael Nathaniel Rosenblatt and Steve Porter Hotelling.

Patent...

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Apr 18
Greg's bite: RIM PlayBook pre-flops; Android...

By Greg Mills

RIM's PlayBook is badly flawed. As I have blogged in this space for some time now, RIM's PlayBook appears to be fatally flawed in a number of ways, coming out of the gate. The tech world, having become accustomed to vaporware from Microsoft that never arrives as advertised, is bracing for delays in RIM actually launching critical software for the half-baked PlayBook platform.

RIM thinks the BlackBerry faithful will buy PlayBook despite notable deficiencies such as no email client, GPS or radio versions of the tablet. Just about all the functions promised are not ready to launch with the hardware. This promises to be a "shoot your own foot" sort of product that might actually eclipse Microsoft's Kin phone. Did you know Kin phones won't run Windows Mobile 7?

With much fanfare RIM recently announced that the PlayBook platform would support Android apps running on a promised but non-existing Android run-time app. When...

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Apr 18
New study shows why kids are fat -- and need '...

Examining a new study by Ipsos OTX (http://www.ipsos-na.com) -- which looks at the media habits and technology usage of preschoolers and those in grades 6-12 -- makes it obvious why so many of the kids in the US are fat and in trouble.

Kids now spend 5.2 hours on average a day engaged with media. That compares to 4.8 hours two years ago. However, the growth isn't with computers, but with video games. Over five hours? That's way too much. Kids need to unplug and be outside playing and reading. I love my electronic gadgets, but there's more to life than my Mac and iPad ...

Speaking of which, currently, 10% of parents with kids 6-12 own an iPad, and 27% plan to buy one in the next year. Thirty-five percent expect to buy a tablet computer in the next year.

Ownership of connected/mobile and next-gen devices is up in households with kids (laptops, Blu-ray players, handheld gaming devices, gaming...

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Apr 15
An Apple smart TV could arrive sooner rather than...

I've repeatedly said I don't think Apple will release an Apple-branded television. Several other pundits disagree. In fact, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White thinks we might even see the company launch a "smart TV" this year.

In a note to clients -- as reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) -- he says Ticonderoga research "suggests this smart TV would go well beyond the miniature $99 second-generation Apple TV that the company released last fall and provide a full-blown TV product for consumers." He says the company appears to be "moving down this pace at a faster pace than the market expected."

"The combination of Apple's powerful ecosystem, industrial design savvy, powerful brand and ability to reinvent product categories could make Apple a powerful force in the TV world over the next few years," White writes.

Meanwhile, the Morgan Stanley research group...

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Apr 14
Greg's bite: blame Apple's iPad, PC sales...

By Greg Mills

As I scan the news for interesting information, sometimes stories just jump out at me. I particularly notice when a well known figure is proven dead wrong.  Some time back, Steve Ballmer stated in an interview that tablet computers were just another PC, dismissing the impending threat to the Windows PC OS. monopoly.   

(June 3, 2010) "Nothing people are doing on a PC is going to get less relevant", declared Ballmer," though some things will move to alternative devices. But many people will prefer a general purpose device to a lot of individual devices."

He said, "People will continue to want general-purpose devices (such as PCs) as well as devices they can carry in their pockets. But devices like the new tablets really are personal computers, just in new form factors."

The dismissive attitude that; "tablets are just a PC" is the perceptional problem Microsoft has had in not supplying the PC industry with a...

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Apr 14
You gotta love Comcast (not)

Sometimes dealing with Comcast makes me want to pull my hair out. Unfortunately, it's the only game in town -- or at least my neck of the woods -- for high-speed Internet connectivity.

I've already ditched Comcast's cable TV service and went with Dish Network as the Big C kept jacking the television portion of my bill up month after month. But I still have Internet and phone service through Comcast.

Recently, the company contacted me, telling me that my current modem/router wasn't allowing me to access my Internet connection at its fastest speed. "Would I like to receive a self-installable, new high speed modem and new router?" they asked.

Naturally, I said yes. The hardware arrived, I connected everything and activated the new set-up. Or tried to activate it. Comcast's online set-up never "took" despite my repeated attempts to make it work. It would accept my account info, then simply stall out when the activation process started. I was offered the opportunity to...

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Apr 14
Apple patents involves backup/restore, radio...

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

Patent number 20110087976 is for application-based backup/restore of electronic information. One method includes receiving, while a current view of an application is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting a history view associated with the current view of the application. The history view is displayed in response to the first user input, the history view including at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view of the application, the earlier version including a first element.

A second user input is received while the history view is displayed. The second user input requesting that the current view of the application be modified according to the earlier version, at least with regard to the first element. The current view of the application is modified in response to the second user input...

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Apr 13
Is Apple planning to reinvent TV?

Apple may be planning to reinvent TV if a new report (http://macte.ch/RwOTV) by research firm Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek is on target. Reinventing TV would be a MAJOR undertaking, but if any company could, it would be Apple, which turned the music world upside down.

Misek predicts that Apple is preparing a cloud-based video service that could go well beyond what the current Apple TV already offers. And, in fact, would challenge services such as Netflix and even the cable/satellite TV companies.

I've said before that I'd love to have an a la carte service in which I could pay for the TV programs and/or channels I want to watch rather than be forced to sign up for "bundles" of stations. Could Apple finally make it happen?

The "GigaOm" (http://macte.ch/EpmBJ) site says that all Apple has to do to make a service...

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Apr 12
Apple working on making user accounts portable

Apple is working on ways to make your user account truly portable, per a patent (number 7925712) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to multi-user computer systems and, more particularly, user account management for multi-user computer systems.

Improved approaches for enabling user accounts to be portable across different multi-user computer systems are disclosed in the patent. A user account created at a multi-user computer can be stored to an external, portable data store, thereby rendering the user account portable. The multi-user computer system, e.g., through its operating system, locates user accounts on not only in local storage of the multi-user computer system, but also in any removable data storage attached to the multi-user computer system. Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer and be presented with their user...

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Apr 12
iPads making in-roads into the business market

iPads are making in-roads into the business market. They may also be opening a door for the MacBook Air to "sneak in."

A total of 8.87 million tablet computers are being used by US SMBs [small to medium sized businesses], Techaisle's survey (http://www.techaisle.com) of 1,356 SMBs reveals. It is estimated that slightly over 50% have been purchased by consumers and used for business.

Reflecting its strong consumer roots, the iPad dominates among very small businesses; however, Android is making inroads among larger SBs and MBs. Overall, 64% of SMBs are single OS adopters.

Approximately 71% of SMBs are using tablets as an additional device rather than replacements -- which, I've long contended, is the long term future of the tablet computer. Of the SMBs who plan to buy a tablet in the next 12 months, 77% are repeat buyers. While most tablet purchases are intended to be add-ons to existing...

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Apr 12
Apple wins gesture-detecting patent

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7924271) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for detecting gestures on multi-event sensitive devices. The method can include detecting gestures on or above a multi-event sensor panel and performing an action associated with detected gestures.

Such action can include activating or changing a state of one or more GUI [graphical user interface] objects and emulate functions performed by a mouse or trackball input device. The inventors are Greg Christie and Wayne Carl Westerman.

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 making selections on a display screen. The operations can also include paging, scrolling, panning, zooming, etc. By way of example, the input devices can include buttons, switches, keyboards, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch...

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Apr 11
Greg's bite: indirect economics, 1 Gig for KCK

By Greg Mills

The ballyhoo that went up when Kansas City, Kansas, won the Google 1 Gig lottery was based upon the anticipated economic effects we hope to see here. Kansas City, Kansas has suffered from the recession, much like the rest of the country.  

Unemployment is a major issue for 9% of us. Real estate values have also suffered dramatically.  The effect of the Google network coming to town is a complicated parameter with possible side effects no one can fully foresee, most of them good. 

To our established local cable TV company, the Google 1 Gig network is an economic disaster. I have a TimeWarner Cable modem Internet bill on my desk as I write this for US$50 that will soon go to Google instead. No one is going to put up with the intermittent 6 Megs a second cable modem when they can have 1000 Megs a second on a more stable fiber optic network. Google promises to sell 1 Gig symmetrical Internet for current broadband prices to everyone....

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Apr 11
US digital music sales will overtake CDs In 2012

Steve Jobs said the day was coming -- and it is. US consumers will spend more on online music than CDs for the first time in 2012, according to the latest study from the Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com).

The report, "Global Recorded Music Market Forecast", found that total recorded music sales in the US declined by 7% to US$6.2 billion in 2010, driven largely by a 16% plunge in CD revenues, to $3.8b billion. In 2012 consumer spending on CDs will fall further to $2.7 billion, more than $1 billion lower than the 2010 level. But online music revenues will continue to grow, reaching $2.8 billion in 2012, therefore passing CDs for the first time.

"Digital music is not developing as fast as expected," says Martin Olausson, director of Digital Media research at Strategy Analytics. "While online revenues will expand further over the coming years, the...

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Apr 08
Greg's bite: the implications of 1 Gig Internet...

By Greg Mills

Here in Kansas City, Kansas, as we contemplate the Google 1 Gig fiber optic Internet coming to town, we are looking at our hardware. The notion of symmetrical 1 Gig internet will certainly push the envelope for hardware manufacturers, including Apple.

I got a number of technical correction emails from my editor and readers who tell me I got my megs, bytes, bits and gigs mixed up the other day as to decimal points. Sorry about that.  Hopefully, the content was educational, but only slightly tinted with technical error. I will try to untangle all that in the future.

At the KCK town hall meeting with Google the other night, to me the biggest bomb was the notion of upload and download at full 1 Gig speeds. The more or less standard of the industry seems to be roughly 10% of the download speed is enough for the upload speed.

Your computer talks to the web sites you visit ,and when you click on something the computer sends a...

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Apr 08
I'm dubious about an 'iPhone nano'

Rumors about a small, feature-limited, inexpensive iPhone have been circulating for some time -- and they've popped up again. I don't think we're going to see such a device. And at least some others agree with me.

In a note to clients Wednesday -- as reported by "Barron's" (http://macte.ch/dilFn) -- Needham & Company analyst Charlie Wolf expressed doubts that Apple could -- or would -- make a cheaper version of its smartphone without destroying the phone’s “iconic value.” The analyst doubts that Apple could cut corners on a new phone. And the iPhone's design is “monolithic” — so many parts are integral to it, such as the App Store, iTunes, etc. -- that making an iconic iPhone on the cheap is near impossible, writes Wolf.

He says that a smaller version of the iPhone won't work, as it would compromise the nature of video playback and app use. The only choice then is to try and cut out some memory or...

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Apr 07
Future iPads could have e-paper features

Future iPads -- and perhaps other iOS devices, though the Apple tablet seems the most natural fit -- could have e-paper features if an Apple patent (number 20110080417) is an indication. The patent is for systems and methods for switching between and electronic paper display and a video display.

Per the patent, control circuitry in an electronic device can analyze visual content to determine one or more features of the visual content. For example, the control circuitry can analyze visual content to determine the rate of change and/or color composition of the visual content. Based on the one or more features, the control circuitry can selectively enable the device's electronic paper display or the device's video display. The inventors are Gloria Lin and Andrew Hodge.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "This is directed to electronic devices with multiple displays. In particular, this is directed to systems and methods for displaying visual...

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Apr 07
Could future iOS devices have primary, secondary...

Could future iOS devices -- at least some of them -- have two displays? Seems so, as an Apple patent (number 20110080348) involving electronic devices with a primary display and selectively illuminated secondary display have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Systems and methods for selectively illuminating a secondary display are provided. An electronic device can include a primary display (e.g., a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen) and a printed segmented electroluminescence (secondary) display. The primary display can be used to convey visual content to a user, and the secondary display can be used to guide a user providing inputs to the device. For example, the secondary display can be selectively illuminated to provide one or more indicators that represent where or how a user can provide inputs to the device. The inventors are Gloria Lin, Andrew Hodge, Taido Nakajima, Bruno Germansderfer and Saumitro Dasgupta.

Here's Apple's background and...

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Apr 07
Apple plans to simplify back-up navigation on the Mac

Apple plans to simplify back-up procedures -- and finding files in back-ups -- per two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20110083088 is for navigation of electronic backups. Systems and methods for navigating within snapshots are provided. In one implementation a method is provided. The method includes receiving, while a current view is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting that a history view associated with the current view be displayed. The history view is displayed in response to the first user input, the history view including at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view, the earlier version including a hierarchical structure wherein a first element of the earlier version includes a second element.

There is received, while the history view is displayed, a second user input requesting that the current view be modified according to the second element. The method...

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Apr 07
Greg's bite: Google Gigs KCK, town meeting notes

By Greg Mills

One Gig per second fiber optic Internet is coming to KCK starting late in the year or very early next year. Google picked Kansas City, Kansas, for a number of obscure reasons that have a lot more to do with our blind luck than anything else. As it turns out a number of odd factors in combination, led Google to choose KCK to test the notion of: what happens if you provide 1 Gig Internet at typical cable modem prices to Americans?  

We are a test bed for innovation in applying super fast Internet access to do who knows what?  They are going to follow closely to see what happens here to figure out what would happen if 1 Gig was common in the entire US. What novel applications and businesses will result? 

Google is betting, and I expect rightly so, that serious internet  based innovation will result.   That innovation will get more people on line viewing Google ads and doing other things that makes their cash registers ring. Google is...

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Apr 07
One MacBook Pro or an iMac plus an Air?

Earlier this week storms and tornadoes raged through Tennessee, causing a great deal of damage. Two trees toppled on the road where I live, tearing down electrical, phone and cable lines. I was without power and Internet for over 24 hours, which is very inconvenient for an on-line editor.

For some time now, I've been using a 27-inch iMac as my main work machine (and only Mac) and using my iPad for a minimum amount of work when I'm on the road (which is rare). I love my Apple tablet, but quickly found out it doesn't cut it when I need be running Safari, Pages, Pixelmator and Mail -- and jumping back and forth between the apps.

To keep MacNews.com and MacTech.com updated as best I could, I borrowed my wife's aging MacBook Pro and worked from my church building, which still had electricity and Internet service after the storms passed.

This was very inconvenient, as I had to set up my Mail preferences and move various files over to my wife's MP Pro. It's made me...

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Apr 07
Apple granted patent for pulsed control of a camera...

Apple granted patent for Apple has been granted a patent (number 20110081142) for pulsed control of a camera flash by the US Patent & Trademark Office. An embodiment of the invention relates generally to electronic devices having a camera function (referred to here as an electronic camera device), and more particularly to techniques for controlling the camera flash.

Per the patent, input from a user is received, to take a picture. A camera flash is signaled to produce multiple flash pulses during a single shutter cycle of the picture. The amplitudes of at least two of the flash pulses are different relative to each other.

The picture is stored, including in its metadata information that describes the variable amplitude of the flash pulses that illuminated the scene when taking the picture. The information describing the variable amplitude of the flash pulses is used to deblur the picture. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the...

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Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

Apple has won a patent (number 7921187) for a newsreader for a mobile device.

Per the patent, providing information to a mobile device can include receiving a translation request from a mobile device, wherein the translation request includes a resource locator identifying information in a native format; accessing the information identified by the resource locator, wherein the information is retrieved from a local cache if available and otherwise is retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator; translating at least a portion of the information identified by the resource locator to generate a translated file in a supported format; and transmitting the translated file to the mobile device.

Further, the information retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator can be stored in the local cache. Additionally, the information identified by the resource locator can be cleared from the local cache after a predetermined amount of time. The...

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Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

Apple has won a patent (number 7921187) for a newsreader for a mobile device.

Per the patent, providing information to a mobile device can include receiving a translation request from a mobile device, wherein the translation request includes a resource locator identifying information in a native format; accessing the information identified by the resource locator, wherein the information is retrieved from a local cache if available and otherwise is retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator; translating at least a portion of the information identified by the resource locator to generate a translated file in a supported format; and transmitting the translated file to the mobile device.

Further, the information retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator can be stored in the local cache. Additionally, the information identified by the resource locator can be cleared from the local cache after a predetermined amount of time. The...

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Apr 06
Apple eyeing combo USB 3.0/DisplayPort connector

An Apple patent (number 7918689) for a reduced size multi-pin male plug connector has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It would combine DisplayPort and USB 3.0 connectors -- and, perhaps, Thunderbolt, as well.

Per the patent, receptacle connectors and male plug connectors having a reduced size in at least one direction can be provided. One example reduces height by not including a center contact tab or tongue, but instead places contacts on an insulator that is adjacent to a bottom portion of the receptacle. Another example may reduce width by reducing contact pitch, and may use a particular shape of contact to achieve god signal quality.

Receptacle connectors and male plug connectors can also provide support for one or more new high-speed communication standards, such as USB 3.0 and DisplayPort. Methods can provide one or more standardized connector components to speed connector design and manufacture of new electronic devices such as media players...

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Apr 06
Greg's bite: Apple's new touch screen...

By Greg Mills

Apple just had four more touch screen patents added to its portfolio yesterday. Touch screen patents are going to be gold in the coming federal lawsuit Apple has filed against every Android handset maker out there.  

The notion of inventing things and then patenting the ideas are what the US Constitution has given the right for inventors to sue if anyone uses those protected ideas. The timing of filing and receiving patents is longer than the patent office would like and the result is often unintentional infringement. Designing things that stumble upon the filed but not issued patents of others is always an issue for high tech firms.

When everyone in the high tech industry is struggling to come up with novel touch screen technology for smart phones and tablets, Apple with its head start, scarfed up a lot of somewhat obvious technology early on. This was long before the competition got to work on their products and parts.  

...

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Apr 05
Greg's bite: Google gigs Kansas City, Kansas

By Greg Mills

When out of the blue someone offers you a horse, it is rude to immediately check the horse's teeth right in front of them. Eventually, however, one takes a look at the finer details of the critter. Is it a broken-down, sway-backed hay burner or a fine race horse worth more than the family farm?

After a couple of calls to Kansas City Kansas City Hall, I got a city clerk to send me, by email, the 25-page agreement in PDF format, between Google and the city.  Considering the promised fiber optic network installation is worth several million dollars and represents a long term business deal for what amounts to a new Internet city utility, the document is pretty blunt and short. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.  I have digested the contract and present an executive summary with numbered lines below.

As I scrutinize the document it is clear that Google holds the high cards in making the deal with KCK.  While the obvious...

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Apr 05
SSDs not going to replace HHDs any time soon

Apple loves SSD [solid state device] storage, which is one of the darlings of the tech world right now. But the fact is that flash SSDs aren't going to replace traditional hard disk drives (HHDs) any time soon.

Why? They're much more expensive and most of us are continually increasing our amount of digital media so we need roomy, inexpensive storage.

Of course, if we all store our music, videos and other data (including apps and valuable documents) "in the cloud" as some predict, SSD-based computers might take the lead. But as I've said repeatedly (and I won't rehash that argument here), I don't think cloud storage is going to replace traditional storage, but will, instead, complement it.

That's why hot selling, SSD-based items like the iPad and the MacBook Air are rarely used as a primary machine. They're usually companions to a Mac or (gulp) Windows system.

There's no denying that the SSD has some advantages over the HHD. Mechanical failure is the...

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Apr 05
Apple granted patents for thin touch sensor panels,...

Apple has been granted patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving touch sensor panels, keystroke tactility arrangements,

Patent number 7918019 is for a method for fabricating thin DITO or SITO touch sensor panels with a thickness less than a minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment. In one embodiment, a sandwich of two thin glass sheets is formed such that the combined thickness of the glass sheets does not drop below the minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment when thin film process is performed on the surfaces of the sandwich during fabrication.

The sandwich may eventually be separated to form two thin SITO/DITO panels. In another embodiment, the fabrication process involves laminating two patterned thick substrates, each having at least the minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment.

One or both of the sides of the laminated substrates are then thinned so...

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Apr 04
Home Wi-Fi 30% slower than wired connection

If you want the fastest possible home network, you'll want to go wired, not wireless. Download speeds for consumers using Wi-Fi stations are on average 30 percent slower than they are for users of fixed connections, because of physical barriers and interference from devices like microwaves, reports "Reuters" (http://macte.ch/CNPg4).

Broadband research firm Epitiro said the differences are rarely visible when surfing Internet, but higher latency and bigger loss of data transferred over WiFi connection could well hurt usage of online gaming, Internet telephony or video streaming. He says the advice to consumers is simple.

"Set up your laptop at location at home where you get a good signal," said professor Andy Nix from Bristol University. "When you are far from the WiFi station, on battery, and your microwave is on -- the connection is not that great."

For the study Epitiro monitored performance of...

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Apr 01
Greg's bite: 1 Gigabit Internet issues

By Greg Mills

As I mentioned in my article yesterday, I live in Kansas City, Kansas, where Google is planning to launch a state of the art "1 Gigabit fiber optic Internet" system as a test. As news of this development came out questions came up that are slowly finding answers. The cost per month for residential service is expected to be similar to what broadband cable Internet costs now. That is from US$30 to $50 per month.  

One older city council member was quite upset that he only had 48 hours to decide how to vote on accepting Google's offer. I suspect he would slam the door on the Publisher's Clearing House $10,000,000 award team, as to not encourage door-to-door salesmen. Who needs all those tacky balloons anyway?

Yesterday I mused that the bottle neck for such blinding speed for a lot of people would be their computers and Wi-Fi routers, and that turns out to be true. The notion that one small fiberoptic strand coming into your home...

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Apr 01
The Northern Spy: the worth of a word

By Rick Sutcliffe

"The word processor is mightier than the sword" or so it has been said. (Well, the Spy just said it, didn't he?). More than that, the words a person speaks or writes are a window on the soul -- from one acquainted in the spirit with the spirit of love and truth come both; from one not so, the opposite. The lips, pen, and typing hands of the blessed yield blessings, praise, encouragement, and exhortation--a stirring to decency, honour, valour, and all things both good and sanctified.

In the hands of a great wordsmith like Winston Churchill, they become weapons, whether by directly attacking a foe, or by inspiring others to do the same. In the hands of an orator the likes of John Diefenbaker they are things of wonder, rapiers with which to conduct verbal fencing to the delight of all but the hapless opponent. (Who could forget "terminological inexactitude"?) Debates are not won merely by word selection, but by the skill and the...

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Apr 01
Study of iPad users identifies obstacles for The Daily

I like The Daily -- the first iPad only, digital magazine -- well enough, but to attract a large number of users and generate substantial subscription revenue, The Daily -- released by News Corp. in February -- will need to overcome a few obstacles with iPad owners who consume news online.

These obstacles include the perception among those with the greatest interest in news that The Daily’s content is lacking, that superior content is available elsewhere online for free and the expectation that apps are purchased through one-time transactions, as opposed to the recurring subscription model The Daily employs. Identifying these obstacles comprises the major finding of research on The Daily released by knowDigital, which funded and independently completed the study. A report detailing this and other key findings is now available for free download from the company’s website (http://www.knowDigital.com...

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Apr 01
Greg's bite: One bad apple to discontinue iPad

By Greg Mills

Craig Mundie, the chief research and strategy vice president at Microsoft lowered the boom recently and caused Apple management and Steve Jobs himself to reconsider the folly of manufacturing and selling iPads. The Apple iPad has no keyboard and Mr. Mundie thinks touch screen tablet computers are just a fad that won't last.  

Shaken to the core at that sage revelation, Apple hastily pulled the plug on the faulty iPad device, worldwide. Apple stock went into a tail spin and long, rowdy lines formed swiftly for people trying to return their iPad 2 at Apple stores around the world. The frantic rush was to get their money back before the refund reserve is gone and Apple goes stone broke.  

Since Apple also decided to abandon the Apple iOS in favor of Windows 7 Mobile, all iPads are now junk and iPhones are reportedly no longer working on the AT&T network. (Did the iPhone ever really work on AT&T?)

Mr. Mundie stated in a...

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Mar 31
Apple investigating 3D cameras for iPhones, iPads

An Apple patent (number 20110074931) for systems and methods for an imaging system using multiple image sensors has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is considering future iPhones and iPads that can take 3D photos.

Per the patent Systems and methods may employ separate image sensors for collecting different types of data. In one embodiment, separate luma, chroma and 3-D image sensors may be used. The systems and methods may involve generating an alignment transform for the image sensors, and using the 3-D data from the 3-D image sensor to process disparity compensation. The systems and methods may involve image sensing, capture, processing, rendering and/or generating images.

For example, one embodiment may provide an imaging system, including: a first image sensor configured to obtain luminance data of a scene; a second image sensor configured to obtain chrominance data of the scene; a third image sensor configured to obtain...

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Mar 31
Apple patent is for a self-adapting alert device

An Apple patent (number 20110077055) for a self-adapting alert device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. In other words, Apple is working to make sure that you don't miss an iPhone call even in a noisy environment.

Methods and apparatuses are disclosed that allow an electronic device to autonomously adapt one or more user alerts to the current operating environment of the electronic device. For example, some embodiments may include a method comprising providing a plurality of alert devices in an electronic device, determining an operating environment of the electronic device using a sensor of the electronic device, and actuating at least one of the plurality of alert devices that corresponds to the determined operating environment. The inventors are Dave Pakula, Matthew Hill, Ethan Larry Huwe, Fletcher Rothkopf and Richard Hung Minh Dinh.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Electronic devices are ubiquitous in society and can be...

| Read more »
Mar 31
Apple eyeing Spaces type feature for the iPad

An Apple patent (number 20110078624) for a device method and graphical user interface for manipulating workspace views has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It indicates that Apple is thinking of bring the Spaces feature of Mac OS X to the iPad. Actually, the patent could also mean Spaces for the iPhone and iPod touch, but, with their smaller screens, that doesn't seem practical.

On Mac OS X, Spaces lets you group application windows together according to the way you work and easily switch between them. You can organize each space just the way you want it.

Per the patent, in some embodiments, a multifunction device with a display and a touch-sensitive surface creates a plurality of workspace views. A respective workspace view is configured to contain content assigned by a user to the respective workspace view. The content includes application windows.

The device displays a first workspace view in the plurality of workspace views on the display...

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Mar 31
Greg's bite: Google fiber optic test city

By Greg Mills

I live in Kansas City, Kansas. I pay US$49.90 a month to Time Warner Cable for "Road Runner Turbo" Internet service. We had download speed this morning of 26.45 Mbps and an upload speed of .94 Mbps and a ping in 42ms. My iPad came in at 6.24 Mb/s download and .56Mb/s upload. Lithuania has an average speed three times what I do now. Just wait, Lithuania.

Our connection speeds vary, but while not super fast, we get by. Our Internet service comes in by cable modem. There is a coaxial cable that runs from the street overhead to the house and threads through the walls to a cabinet in the master bedroom. A little black box has blinking lights and a number of ethernet out ports.  

I have an Apple Wi-Fi device hooked up as well as an Earthlink phone box. We get passable speeds for Wi-Fi to a MacBook Pro, an iMac, an iPad and various iPhones. My daughter downloads movies a lot through NetFlix on her iPhone. We are a sort of typical Apple...

| Read more »
Mar 31
Apple working on a power adapter with an internal...

An Apple patent (number 20110074360) for a power adapter with an internal battery has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is working on a integrating rechargeable external battery pack -- with solar power features, no less -- into its standard charging cable for laptops and iOS devices.

Per the patent, the power adapter typically includes the battery as an integral component that is connected to a plug or other interface capable of mating with a power source, such as a wall socket. Thus, the adapter battery may provide power either to operate the device or charge a battery within (or otherwise associated with) the device even if the adapter is not connected to a power source. The inventors are Duncan Kerr, David Robbins Falkenburg and Michael Nugent.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Rechargeable batteries may be found in a variety of portable electronic devices, including laptop computers, personal digital...

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