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Nov 18
Greg's bite: KinOneM and KinTwoM

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Nov 18
Apple will do iWork for Windows

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

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

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

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

-- Dennis Sellers

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

By Gaurang Donovan

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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Nov 17
iTunes needs a new name, maybe an overhaul

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

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

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

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

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

So perhaps...

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Nov 16
Apple patents range from level shifters to scroll bars

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Nov 15
Consumer demand strong for 3D movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patent number 20100285763...

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Nov 11
Unplug and learn to be still

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nov 09
Apple patent is for light sensitive display

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nov 08
Kinect would have made a nice fit at Apple

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

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

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

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Nov 08
Comcast just gets worse and worse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nov 03
Whither USB 3.0 on the Mac?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nov 02
Greg's bite: the cloud is coming upon us

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Nov 02
Of Macs, Xbox Kinect, FaceTime cameras and gesture-...

At the "Back to the Mac" event on Oct. 20, Apple Steve Jobs explained why there are no plans for Macs with touchscreens: touch interfaces don't feel right in a vertical plane and you don't want to touch your iMac's screen. This means trackpads and the Magic Mouse are the interfaces for the future Mac OS X/iOS integration. Beyond that, I think Apple might take a lesson from the Xbox and its new Kinect technology.

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

Kinect responds to how you move. If you have to kick in a game, you kick. If you have to jump in a game, you jump.

What's more, Kinect is designed to respond to the sound of your voice. Just say “Xbox” to...

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Nov 01
Macs, Blu-rays important to how content, entertainment...

A recent report by The NPD Group (http://wwww.npdgroup.com), a market research company, shows that no one -- not even Apple -- should underestimate the Mac or the Blu-ray market.

According to NPD’s report, as the industry grows consumers are beginning to access a broader array of content and services, and they are doing so from more devices. Although 75%of U.S. consumers (age 13 and older) did not connect or download content in the previous three months, 15% connected and downloaded content via a Mac or PC; 6% connected with a video-game player; 4% connected via smartphone; and 2% connected via a Blu-ray Disc (BD) player or a digital video player, like the Apple TV or Roku.

With their low prices and rising penetration BD stands to be a prime avenue to deliver broadband content to the consumer’s living room, says Russ Crupnick, vice president and senior entertainment analyst for NPD. Connected...

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Nov 01
Greg's bite: the decline and fall of Microsoft

By Greg Mills

Those who read Greg's bite regularly may have noticed I tend to dump on Microsoft and the pope of Anti-Mac, Steve Ballmer.  It seems I am not alone as numerous articles have come out lately which confirm my observations, exactly.  Some have speculated that Microsoft will actually go belly up even after Ballmer is forced out. They are riding the Windows PC Operating System monopoly into the ground.

Microsoft has been chronically late to respond to new markets and have been ridiculously smug about it. Recently, the clown of high tech, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer went on and on about the Vista Windows 7 smartphone OS being early? My question for Mr. Ballmer is "early in what respect?" By the reckoning of those in the best position to know, Mobile Vista 7  is about three years behind the Apple iOS.  

That is very late to the party Mr. Ballmer, not early. Considering Apple is not sitting on their laurels, as they seem to do a lot at...

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Oct 29
Greg's bite: Trojan attacks Mac OS X in the wild

By Greg Mills

There have been reports of a trojan attack on the Mac OS X. While not a reason to panic, a "trojan horse" bit of malware has been making the rounds. The malware is called a trojan because it appeals to our vanity somehow and gets us to accept something with a hurtful thing inside.  

It runs a Java applet and is cross platform so Windows users are also vulnerable. The next Mac OS X security update will likely protect you, but for now just don't download the bait.

The epic story of the Trojan Horse is from ancient times where a walled city had been under attack for a long time and the invaders failed to breech the walls. Rather than give up, the invaders built a large wooden horse with a space inside to hide some soldiers. The invaders rolled the horse up to the city gates and then left the area to make it appear they had given up.  

The Trojans rejoiced that they had won and hauled the horse inside the walls, considering it...

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Oct 29
Future Macs will have no built-in optical storage or...

I've been reading the tech tea leaves lately, and I'm predicting that within two years, perhaps sooner, Macs will ship with no optical storage or hard disk drives. In other words, the new MacBook Airs are a glimpse at the future of most all Macs, not just Apple laptops.

My forecast is that all Macs -- except the Mac Pros -- will, sooner rather than later, ship with SSDs only. As prices drop, the capacity of the SSDs will increase. Still, it's going to be a looong time before they're price comparable with hard disk drives (HHDs), and folks need ever-bigger HDDs as their digital content increases. Though some companies might want you to store all your data in "the cloud," I contend that most folks will also want a local copy -- as in their home or office -- of their tunes, movies and photos.

For this reason, I think Apple will begin selling its own line of HDDs when the Mac line moves to all-SSD (excepting, as I've mentioned, the Mac Pro). One advantage of this is that...

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Oct 28
Apple wants to build better looking, simpler displays

Apple wants to make displays are there simpler in design and even better looking, according to a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 20100271767 is for microperforated and backlit displays having alternative display capabilities.

A visual display having microperforations, backlighting and contrasting surface finishes is disclosed. The visual display includes an opaque base object having a front surface and a plurality of microperforations therethrough from the front surface to a back surface. Each microperforation has a diameter of about 100 microns or less, and numerous microperforations are arranged into an overall pattern, such as a logo, text or advertisement.

A light source placed proximate to the back surface passes light through the microperforations to be visible at the front surface, such that the overall pattern can be visibly perceived when the light source is turned on. A contrasting surface finish formed on the front...

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Oct 28
Apple patents involve multi-connectors, microphone...

New Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office involve multi-connectors, microphone lines, RAW imaging processing, and EMI switching circuits. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 20100271790 is for a multi-connector assembly. The invention can relate to multiple-connector assemblies for use in, for example, electronic devices. Each of the connectors are constrained to another connector by aligning one or more complementary sets of reference features. A locating bracket may be used to couple multiple connectors together. Alternatively, the connectors may be coupled to each other directly. The electronic device also may include a retainer coupled to the connectors (either directly or indirectly through the locating bracket). The retainer and a surface of one of the connectors may form a single plane to which an end cap of the housing may be coupled, thereby accurately locating the end cap with respect to the connectors. The present...

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Oct 28
Apple plans to simplify the connection of iOS devices...

Apple wants to make it easier to use your iOS devices with other audio components, per a new filing at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 20100273356 is for an apparatus for connecting two electrical devices together.

Methods and apparatus are provided for connecting together two audio components that have different size connectors and/or a different configuration of electrical contacts between them. In one embodiment of the present invention, an audio adaptor is designed having an audio plug of one size to mate with a first electrical device, such as an integrated mediaphone such as the iPhone, and an audio jack having a different size to mate with a second electrical device, such as a conventional cell phone headset having a single earpiece.

In that instance, the plug would be a four-prong, 3.5 millimeter stereo device, while the jack would be a three-prong, 2.5 millimeter monaural device. The adaptor includes circuitry that takes one audio...

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Oct 28
Apple working to make products even more scratch proof

As evidenced by a new patent (number 20100273538) at the US Patent & Trademark Office, Apple is working to make its devices even more scratch proof. The patent is for nitriding stainless steel for consumer electronics products.

It involves cost effective system, method and apparatus adapted to provide a nitride layer on stainless steel used for the manufacture of consumer electronic products. In addition to providing a durable, hard surface that is both scratch and impact resistant, the nitride layer allows for the natural surface color and texture of the underlying stainless steel to remain visible to the user. It is this natural surface color and texture of the stainless steel that adds to the aesthetically pleasing appearance of the consumer electronic product thereby enhancing the user's overall experience, says Apple. The inventor is Douglas Weber.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The stainless steels owe their resistance to corrosion...

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Oct 28

Greg's bite: a look at Apple's plans

By Greg Mills

Let's look into a crystal ball today and imagine Apple product areas that might be hot in the next few years. We know that cool electronic things find first a needful niche to fill -- a niche that that may or may not be realized by the general public.  


But when Steve Jobs goes on stage and launches it there is a collective gasp as the crowd "gets it," and the undiscovered itch then has to be scratched. People suddenly want the new Apple Chrome Reverse Dismophlange Phlange and Steve sells them like hotcakes. Apple ramps up production and the coffers at the bank swell by a few more billion. The Mac OS is tweaked to operate the new device and everything Apple sells briskly.

As an inventor, I know that there are three general types of people in the world. There are those with the ability to see the need and imagine a novel solution, there are those who can't see the novel solution, but understand it when they see it, and then there...

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Oct 27
Apple and the top 10 'Strategic Technologies...

The Gartner research group recently highlighted the top 10 technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2011. Most of them affect Apple, mostly in a positive way. The top 10 technologies are:

° Cloud computing.Though I still don't think most folks want all their valuable data and files (including music, photos and videos) in "the cloud," Gartner thinks the next three years will see the delivery of a range of cloud service approaches that fall between the two extremes of open public to closed private. Vendors will offer packaged private cloud implementations that deliver the vendor's public cloud service technologies (software and/or hardware) and methodologies (i.e., best practices to build and run the service) in a form that can be implemented inside the consumer's enterprise.

Many will also offer management services to remotely manage the cloud service implementation. Gartner expects large enterprises to have a dynamic...

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Oct 27
Greg's bite: Apple's acquisition speculation

By Greg Mills

The press is full of speculation as to what Apple might be into regarding the acquisitions department. Not many companies have over 50 billion dollars sitting around. While the income from the savings amounts to a lot even at a fairly low interest rate, Apple might make more in a sound investment in the form of buying the right companies.  

Sony stock bumped up on the rumor that Apple might buy them. With a market cap of about 35 billion dollars Apple could acquire them but the big question is why? I speculated Sony might be a good buy for Apple three years ago in an article published by MacDailyNews.com.  Here is the link to that article.  http://www.macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/15331/opinion/  .

The reasons it might make sense then still make sense today. Sony is now worth about twice what it was during the market crash of a couple of years ago, but the company is still depressed considering its history and...

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Oct 26
Apple patent is for simplifying pairing of wireless...

Apple wants to make it easier to pair wireless accessories with host devices, per a patent (number 7,813,715) that has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates to wireless devices and, more particularly, to pairing wireless devices for authorized data exchange.

Techniques that facilitate pairing of wireless accessory devices with wireless host devices are disclosed. Advantageously, the improved techniques permit pairing of wireless devices without requiring user entry of pin codes. In one embodiment, a wireless accessory device, such as a headset or earphone, can be paired with a wireless host device, such as a mobile phone or media player. The inventors are Chris McKillop and Chris Wiebe.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "The invention pertains to improved techniques that facilitate pairing of wireless accessory devices with wireless host devices. Advantageously, the improved techniques permit pairing of wireless devices...

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Oct 26
Apple eyeing ways to rank relevance of information...

An Apple patent (number 7,823,214) for a system for ranking the relevance of information objects accessed by computer users has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's directed to information access in multiuser computer systems, and more particularly to a system for ranking the relevance of information that is accessed via a computer.

Information presented to a user via an information access system is ranked according to a prediction of the likely degree of relevance to the user's interests. A profile of interests is stored for each user having access to the system. Items of information to be presented to a user are ranked according to their likely degree of relevance to that user and displayed in order of ranking. The prediction of relevance is carried out by combining data pertaining to the content of each item of information with other data regarding correlations of interests between users.

A value indicative of the content of a document can be...

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Oct 26
Apple patents involve video encoders, data storage,...

Three Apple patents involving video encoders, data storage systems and electronic devices have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7,822,118 is for a method and apparatus for control of rate-distortion tradeoff by mode selection in video encoders. The system of the present invention first selects a distortion value D near a desired distortion value. Next, the system determines a quantizer value Q using the selected distortion value D. The system then calculates a Lagrange multiplier lambda using the quantizer value Q. Using the selected Lagrange multiplier lambda and quantizer value Q, the system begins encoding pixelblocks. If the system detects a potential buffer overflow, then the system will increase the Lagrange multiplier lambda. If the Lagrange multiplier lambda exceeds a maximum lambda threshold then the system will increase the quantizer value Q. If the system detects a potential buffer...

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Oct 26
Mac OS X + iOS = Apple OS

Currently, there's Mac OS X for, well, Macs, as well as its "little brother," iOS, for Apple's mobile devices. However, Mac OS X Lion, which will prowl next summer, will introduce iOS features into Mac OS X proper. That's a trend that I'm sure will continue.

In fact, I think it won't be long before there's no Mac OS X or iOS as separate entities. There will simply be one operating system known as Apple OS. The features of the two now-separate, but kin, operating systems will merge into one, scalable system.

Writing for "InfoWorld" (http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobilize/say-good-bye-the-mac-os-hello-mios-4...), Galen Gruman predicts a merged Mac OS and iOS that "will be able to scale across Mac Pro workstations, MacBook laptops, iMac and Mac Mini desktops, iPads, and iPhones --...

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Oct 25
Greg's bite: Android app developer blues

By Greg Mills

The well oiled machine that is the Apple iTunes/App store is a far cry from the Android apps stores. While there are stories in the press about various app developers beginning to write apps for the Google smart phones, there are also just as many stories about developer's serious problems dealing with that loosely controlled  "go to market" system.  

Google engineer Andy Rubin was quoted as saying the Android platform is "still seeing the 1.0 version of the ecosystem." The race to quantity has resulted in a quality program for Android Apps. The percentage of apps that crash all the time are much higher that what we see in the iOS platform. Looser controls mean less quality for the end user.

While developers moan and groan about Apple's stringent and less-than-transparent review process and express great anger at their control over both content and the working of the apps, Apple developers who do things right get paid. Some of...

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Oct 25
3D TV likely to succeed -- but it will take time

It's too early to tell how much 3D TVs will take off -- though it looks as if they're shaping up to be a success over the long haul. And that means we'll eventually see 3D supported on computer displays. But that's likely to be a while.

While 3DTV has been the topic of much industry excitement and hockey stick adoption forecasts, recent research conducted by Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) suggests that it will remain very much an event-driven technology, attractive to a select group of consumers.

The survey, which polled 4,800 residents in the US, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, measured consumer interest in, understanding of, and willingness to pay for 3DTV services. Despite the fact that those who have seen cinematic 3D are largely impressed with its quality -- 69% overall say they were “somewhat” or “very” impressed -- translating those...

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Oct 22
Greg's bite: where Apple leads, PCs follow

By Greg Mills

When Apple obsoletes technology a groan generally goes up from both people used to the status quo and hardware companies that are directly affected. Remember the demise of floppy drives and the near death of FireWire? Such a groan went up when Apple recently launched the new MacBook Air laptops that, like iPad, iPods and the Apple TV uses flash memory instead of a hard drive.  

While the cost for storage using flash memory is higher per gig of memory, there are distinct advantages to going with solid state memory instead of a mechanical rotating disk that is prone to crash. In time, all hard drives will fail. A hard bump at just the wrong time can sometimes destroy a hard drive and leave the user with a sudden data loss. Sometimes a strange noise will give a warning, but the sudden hard drive crash without a warning is common.

I am lucky, so far, and have never had a hard drive go bad, but there are a lot of folks that have had a...

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Oct 22
Why no backlit keyboard on the new MacBook Airs?

Maybe it was to preserve battery life, but there's no backlit keyboard on the new MacBook Airs. I think that's a mistake on Apple's part.

I've always found the backlit keyboard one of the most useful feature on the Apple laptops I've purchased. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so. You can check out a thread on the Apple Forums about the lack of a backlit keyboard: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2620491&tstart=0 .

If you want to let Apple know that the new MacBook Air needs a backlit keyboard, you can fill out a form at http://www.apple.com/feedback/macbookair.html on this and other comments on the MacBook Air.

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