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Jun 04
Greg's bite: can the iPad save journalism?

By Greg Mills

Frankly, the blunt answer is yes, but not necessarily in its current business model -- and many publishers will not make the transition. I laughed when I saw where some well known national magazines launched an app and were charging US$5 an issue for an electronic version of a print magazine you can subscribe to for $8 per year -- for 12 full color magazines delivered to your door.  

People are not stupid;at least most of us are not that stupid. Perhaps as a novelty, one might spend $5 on one electronic magazine, just to see what it is like. A thriving business model requires a long term willingness for consumers to buy a product. Gouging will not work long term. 

Advantages of electronic publishing are cost related.  If that cost advantage is not passed on to the electronic consumer, the electronic magazine product will not sell. While the cost of publishing a paper magazine varies according to circulation, at least half the cost...

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Jun 04
Blu-ray 3D demoed for computers

Earlier this week I talked about the possibility of a stereoscopic (ie, 3D). Whether or not they're Macs, 3D computers look as if they'll arrive sooner than I expected.

CyberLink Corp. is showing visitors to this week's Computex expo a demonstration of PowerDVD 10 ULTRA 3D that enables Blu-ray 3D movie playback on computers. With PowerDVD, consumers will purportedly be able to enjoy full 1080p high-definition stereoscopic video on Blu-ray 3D movies.

PowerDVD is the first software player to receive Blu-ray 3D certification from the Blu-ray Disc Association. Optimized with CPU and GPU hardware acceleration, PowerDVD delivers two 1080p frames to create a hi def, 3D video effect in the display. PowerDVD outputs to all main 3D formats, including sequential, row-interleave, and checkerboard too. It also enables 3D graphic menus and 3D subtitles for a full 3D experience.

Now I have no idea if or when Apple might bring 3D technology to, at least, a build-to-order Mac....

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Jun 03
Apple could aim particle gun at DRM violators

A new patent (number 20100138654) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a system of digital rights management (DRM) that would identify the authenticity of a device based on the unique physical emission properties of a "particle gun." The invention invention relates to DRM and more specifically to authentication or hashing functions.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The field of DRM involves code protection, code obfuscation and various other software security mechanisms. Cryptography is one such way to protect information. Cryptography is the practice of hiding information; encryption is the process of converting intelligible information (plaintext) into unintelligible information (ciphertext); and decryption is the process of converting ciphertext back into plaintext. Authentication is a software security mechanism that establishes or confirms an entity as authentic, or true.

"Hashing is also often utilized in...

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Jun 03
Greg's bite: the age of Ballmer must end

By Greg Mills

Some readers must think I am anti-Ballmer. But really, without Steve Ballmer I would have to find some one else to criticize -- and with the Microsoft exec it's so easy.

Who else has ridden a stone cold, worldwide monopoly into the ground? Since Mr. Ballmer took over at Microsoft in 2000, it has lost half its market cap. From US$500 billion to 250 billion dollars.  Hello, Bill Gates ... Earth to Gates ... come in Bill ... can you hear me now?

While Bill Gates doesn't have to eat in soup kitchens, he has lost ground a far as his net worth goes. Ballmer's claim to fame is mostly related to being lucky enough to have been a roommate with Bill Gates early on. 

Really, copying Apple only goes so far.  At some point you have to do something new and compelling to grow a major tech company. Not even being able to keep your bread-and-butter, slam-dunk, monopoly PC operating system working well is a very bad sign.  

I read...

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Jun 03
Are we heading toward a post-PC world?


In what is bound to make Mac users like me a bit uncomfortable, in his interview at the "All Things D" event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the post-PC (that's "personal computer," by the way, not a Windows system) has begun. And I'm sure he feels the iPad is a milestone in this transition.

"PCs are going to be like trucks and are going to be used by fewer and fewer people," Jobs said. "This transition is going to make people uneasy. When you start to enter the post PC era it’s going to make people uncomfortable. We’ve embarked on that. I don't know when it’s going to happen, but the transition has essentially begun."

My take: the personal computer era will never end, though it will change and evolve over time. Sure, more devices such as the iPad will be introduced. For some folks, they will replace the traditional computer. As for the computer itself, as I've said on numerous occasions, I think future Macs will increasingly merge features of the iPhone OS with Mac...

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Jun 02
Greg's bite: regarding the iTV rumor in iPhone...

by Greg Mills

With bits of information the Mac rumor mill conjures up both interesting and unlikely product ideas. Historically, Apple can be expected to repeat product concepts over time and improve them as technology allows. We can know what Apple has been thinking recently by what it has shown us in the past.

Consider that the Newton was a forerunner of the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The Newton was ahead of its time and not supported by the modern parts we see today. In many respects, it is sort of like the helicopter, which was invented by Leonardo Da Vinci 400 years before the internal combustion engine, which was required to actually make it fly. Sometimes ideas are too far ahead of the general development of technology and thus can't be done in their day. But given time ...

To an extent, the Apple TV suffers from the "ahead of it's time" syndrome. Internet pass-through speeds have been a bottleneck, but that's getting better. Remember...

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Jun 02
Is a stereovision Mac in our future?

Somewhere down the road we're going to see some revolutionary Macs. In the near future they'll have USB 3.0 support and (please, Steve) Blu-ray playback support. And who knows? This Mac might be one of the first stereovision personal computers.

Jon Peddie Research (http://www.jonpeddie.com), a research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, has just completed an in-depth look at the emerging Stereo 3D (S3D) computer market. (S3D involves playing back 3D images.) The report finds that the S3D market is poised for rapid growth in the immediate future. Close to one million dedicated S3D computers will ship in 2010. That number will grow to 75 million by 2014 as S3D becomes ubiquitous.

Although most computers will be S3D capable due to the GPUs that are in them, not all will be S3D computers because they need a special monitor, glasses, and appropriate content. However, S3D computers will be...

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Jun 02
Greg's bite: reading between the lines of Jobs...

By Greg Mills

I carefully read the reports of the Steve Jobs interview at the "All Things D" event and was struck by the blunt truthfulness of the man. Certainly, he had to be very careful about every word he spoke. But it was obvious that his feelings are real about his passion, great products and betrayal. 

The historical dispute arising when Microsoft appropriated the Mac's "look and feel" for Windows 1.0, now over 20 years ago, seem to be repeating itself with Google. Apple is sort of in a Catch 22 situation where it must trust other companies that it needs for core support, only to see the guts of its greatest hits stolen or at least emulated closely enough to hurt Apple and divide the market. The Google Android phone OS is likely to be the strongest competition to the iPhone OS. Palm bit the dust, Windows Mobile is a joke and RIM is only holding its own.

Jobs commented that Apple isn't doing search even though is Google doing smart...

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Jun 01
Apple granted design patents for the iPad, iPods,...

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

Patent number D616892 is for the ornamental design of the iPad. The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonthan P. Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satgzer, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number D616863 is for the design of the fifth gen iPod nano and D616864 is for the design of the fifth gen iPod classic. The inventors are the same as those above. Those inventors are also credited with patent D616881 for the MacBook Air.

Patent number D616899 is for the ornamental design of a media device the clip-on style iPod shuffle). The inventors are the same as those above.

Patent number D616886...

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Jun 01
Tim Cook's commencement speech: 'I believe...

By Gaurang Donovan

Apple's Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook gave a commencement speech as his alma mater Auburn [Georgia] University on 14 May. It received a modicum of media coverage but that is not totally unexpected given how Apple is often covered in the past.

The coverage was hardly on par to what other current public appearances of other much smaller or less successful companies' executive leadership receive at times. But Cook's commencement speech reiterates much of what has been practiced quietly at Apple to achieve such a successful comeback over the last 13 years or so and it does provide me with even more confidence that Apple's leadership team is still very well grounded in what it is trying to achieve. Just keep doing it.

You can view the speech as an iTunes U podcast or YouTube video. 

...

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Jun 01
Of SSDs and sticker shock

In my recent review (http://www.macnews.com/2010/05/27/review-owc-extreme-pro-re-ssd-blazingl...) of the OWC Extreme Pro RE SSD [Solid State Drive] I said I loved the drive but "only" gave it an 8-out-of10 rating (I rarely bestow a nine and almost never a 10) because the price is somewhat prohibitive (the 100GB model is US$400). Was I being fair?

As someone who disagreed with my rating pointed out, "if you ever did a processor upgrade in a G3 or G4 machine (or even earlier) wasn't the cost worth it to rev up the machine?" The answer to that is, of course, "yes." And I'd LOVE to have the 2TB hard drive in my iMac replaced with an SSD of similar volume (that is something that will be an affordable option sometime down the road).

So here's a recommendation for...

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Jun 01
Greg's bite: the history and future of computer/...

by Greg Mills

Back in the beginning of computers putting information in was hard work as numerous switches had to be thrown a certain way to generate results. The punch cards had to be cut and processed.  Then keyboards were used (about this time IBM screwed up and helped Microsoft take off).

A Zerox research group conceived the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and someone showed it to a fresh face in the crowd who immediately saw the future Mac interface. Foolishly trusting Microsoft to launch needed software that would run on the new Mac computers and to not steal them blind, Steve Jobs showed Gates the graphical interface. At that point Gates was driven to create a graphical interface that worked as well as the new Mac Operating System.

Apple, in time, sued and later settled rather than waste money pursuing Gates and Company. The Apple/Microsoft relationship has had its ups and downs but, seemingly, Apple was long on innovation and Microsoft...

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May 28
Greg's bite: Department of Justice looks at the...

By Greg Mills

In the title of this article, I am speaking of the Giant Electronics Firm, not the city by the same nickname. It seems incredible for those of use who took no end of ridicule over the year that we were "one of those": un-PC Apple computer, non-conformists.  

We were told our computers were too expensive and that the end of Apple was in sight. Remember the statement, "I think Apple computers are easy to use, but they don't do anything since there isn't enough software for the platform."

We saw Microsoft deliberately sabotage PC software to not open documents on a Mac. We saw Microsoft dominate the market in both operating systems and business software that was so "standard" it was only by the grace of Gates that Apple survived at all.

Well, a new age has come upon us and the tables are turning. A number of issues caused this to happen. First, despite years of promises and billions of dollars spent on R&D, Vista was...

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May 28
Global stagnation to continue in home video...

Hmmm. Could Steve Jobs be right about the future of movies, as well as music, being digital and online? Maybe. According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, the global home video market is poised to see further declines in the years ahead.

Global revenue from sales of DVDs and Blu-ray declined more than 4% in 2009, to US$35.7 billion, and is set for another 2% drop in 2010, according to the research group. At the same time digital distribution channels such as iTunes for home video entertainment aren’t developing fast enough to offset the decline in packaged media formats.

The total packaged media market, including both retail and rental of DVDs and Blu-ray, is projected to decline 3% in 2010, to $53.3 billion and by 12.6%, to $48.1 billion by 2013.

"The future of the home entertainment market is within digital distribution of home video," says Martin Olausson, director of Digital Media Research at Strategy Analytics. "We...

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May 28
Greg's bite: Water over the top of the dam

By Greg Mills

The press is churning out story after story about Apple finally beating Microsoft out of being the top tech company spot, as far as market cap goes. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this is only the first of the major indignities that are looming ahead.  

It boils down to this: Apple has launched a series of major hit products that each represent a virtual monopoly in their class, while Ballmer & Company have suffered embarrassing gaffs that have crippled their future and perhaps the PC platform itself. 

Realistically, Microsoft has been cruising for years on their laurels as being the main operating system for all PCs but Apple's. The question for the PC minions of the world is not which operating system to use but rather which version of Windows will you fight with to keep your computer working.

My metaphor about the dam is based upon the problem you have when water goes over the top of an earthen dam and erosion occurs....

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May 27
Apple patent is for 'on-the-go shopping list...

A new Apple patent (number 20100082447) for an "on-the-go shopping list" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to handheld electronic devices (think iPads and iPod touches) and, more particularly, to systems and methods for conducting shopping-related transactions with a handheld electronic device.

Systems and methods for providing shopping-related information to a consumer are provided. Embodiments of the system allow a consumer to create an electronic shopping list by scanning products. In some embodiments, shopping-related information may be obtained for items in the shopping list, such as pricing information, product quality, consumer ratings, and other information that may help a consumer to make an informed purchasing decision. Other embodiments allow a consumer to obtain and compare retail prices offered by several retailers for products in the shopping list. Still other embodiments provide a store-wide network that allows a...

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May 27
Apple patent involves earphones, headsets

An Apple patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that could hint at a new iPhone headset. Patent number 20100128887 involves detecting the respositioning of an earphone using a microphone and associated action.

The invention relates generally to an earphone. More particularly, this invention relates to detecting the repositioning of an earphone that is worn by a user.

A system detects the repositioning of an earphone that is worn by a user, and changes an operation mode of a host coupled to the earphone. Within the earphone is a pressure transducer that detects a pressure change caused by the repositioning of the earphone. A signaling mechanism sends a repositioning detection signal to the host in response to a signal from the pressure transducer indicating the detection of the pressure change. The inventors are Jae H. Lee and Wendell B. Sander.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Earphones (also known as earbuds or...

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May 27
Future versions of QuickTime to offer recapping...

A new patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that may hint at interface changes in upcoming versions of QuickTime.

Patent number 20100132005 is for recapping media content. It relates generally to the field of media and, in particular, to playing, viewing, and controlling video or other media.

The invention involves a system in accordance with the present invention may include one or more processors, memory that receives instructions from the one or more processors according to a clock operating at a frequency, one or more programs stored in the memory, with instructions to: open a media file or receive a media broadcast that may be stored locally or remotely; play the content of the media file or media broadcast at a default speed; and control the play of the content with control features such as a feature for recapping earlier media content. The inventors are Windy Chien, Gary Stewart and Robert Kondrk.

Here's Apple's background and...

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May 27
Apple patent involves beamforming audio for ... TV,...

I've been dubious that Apple would release its own TV set. But a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office hints at that. Or it could involve some sort of future Mac or Apple TV accessory.

Patent number 20100128892 involves stabilizing directional audio from a moving microphone array. It relates to the field of audio beamforming; and more specifically, to the aiming of audio beamforming.

The patent involves a device that includes a microphone array fixed to the device. A signal processor produces an audio output using audio beamforming with input from the microphone array. The signal processor aims the beamforming in a selected direction. An orientation sensor--such as a compass, an accelerometer, or an inertial sensor--is coupled to the signal processor. The orientation sensor detects a change in the orientation of the microphone array and provides an orientation signal to the signal processor for adjusting the aim of the beamforming to maintain the...

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May 27
Greg's bite: Could Apple's iTunes Store fix...

By Greg Mills

I just finished buying airline tickets for my wife, daughter and myself to fly to Florida for my sister-in-law's wedding. I hate the tricks, extra fees and taxes that get tacked on after you think you have a good deal. Apple has a way of fixing the most egregious tasks we face and making it as close to fun as spending money can be.  

The current system for buying airline tickets on-line is nuts. You have tons of web sites that claim to be the cheapest all, clamoring to sell the same seats, all at different prices. It has
been said that normally, passengers on the same flight have paid as many as 10 different prices for the very same flight. To me that sounds like a system failure.  

Part of the problem is the stupid hub system where you can't fly anywhere without changing planes at a hub. I have flown from Kansas City to Atlanta just to get on a flight to Los Angeles.

The airlines churn ticket prices to the point...

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May 27
Safari and the prospect of 'official'...

John Gruber of "Daring Fireball" (http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/05/25/chrome-beta) hints that Apple might release a "proper extension API" (application programming interface) for Safari at June's Worldwide Developer Conference. I hope he's right. It's long overdue since both Firefox and Chrome offer extensions.

Still, it's hard to imagine Apple "opening up" its web browser, since Jobs & Company like to have near-total control over all their products and technologies. On the other hand, Firefox and Chrome have both put the pressure on Safari, and the ability to tweak the Safari experience as you'd like would certainly appeal to a lot of users.

Extensions are software add-ons for web browsers. Among the bazillion Firefox and Chrome extensions are ones that let you: do screen captures, prevent Flash content from running without...

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May 26
Greg's bite: Microsoft reorganizing due to...

By Greg Mills

The news is full of Microsoft reorganization stories.  "The Wall Street Journal" and others report poor numbers on everything Microsoft in the mobile division except the Xbox -- which is not mobile anyway.  

The famously lame Windows Mobile OS sank from 10.2% of the market to 6.8% in the last year. Keep in mind, there are "smart phones" out there that can only run the Microsoft OS and are thus stuck with the OS until the day the phone is trashed. The decline is due to the lack of new phones running the Windows OS being sold. The numbers can only tank further since the iPhone has gone viral.

Has anyone hear of a cell phone called "KIN"? According to "Wired", Microsoft launched a smart phone by that name running the Windows OS two months ago. The KIN is already a flop as Amazon has discounted the more powerful versions by 50% and cut the low end KIN down to one cent with a contract for service.

Not only has an in-house cell...

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May 26
There's life in those CDs, DVDs still

Okay, so maybe I'm not such a dinosaur after all. "Macworld UK" (http://www.macworld.co.uk/digitallifestyle/news/index.cfm?newsid=3224278) reports that a Hewlett Packard survey of over 1,000 UK consumers, aged between 16 and 60, shows that, despite the rise of services such as iTunes, folks (besides me) still like their CDs and DVDs.

HP's survey found that 86% of the population access some form of digital media, the survey revealed consumers attach very little monetary or emotional value to the digital content they own. For example, 68% of consumers still prefer photographs to be physical rather than digital. Sixty-four percent prefer CDs over MP3s and downloads when purchasing music. And 75% preferred DVDs when it came to films, while a massive 95% still prefer reading books traditionally.


Not...

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May 25
Apple patents involve Final Cut Pro, the iPhone,...

Apple has been granted patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving Final Cut Pro, the iPhone and laptop housing. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7,725,828 is for the application of speed effects to a video presentation. Some embodiments provide a method of specifying speed effects for playing a video clip. The method defines a set of speed effects for the video clip. It then displays in real-time a presentation of the video clip that accounts for the set of speed effects defined for the video clip. In some embodiments, this method represents the playback speed of a video clip in terms of a graph that is part of a graphical user interface ("GUI"). This graph is defined along two axes, with one axis representing the playback time, and the other axis representing the content-time (i.e., the time within the video clip). In these embodiments, a user can change the playback speed of the video clip by using a set of GUI operations to...

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May 25
The iPad, Curated Computing and a closed Mac

A lot has been made of last week's forecast by RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky that predicts Apple is now selling more iPads than Macs. And it's garnered some speculation that we may see Macs that are more iPad-like.

Abramsky says that, by his estimates, Apple sells more than 200,000 iPads per week in the U.S., a total greater than the estimated 110,000 Macs sold stateside every seven days. Obviously, people love the Apple tablet, as well as the iPhone and iPod touch, so I do think we'll see future Macs that adopt features from the iPhone OS.

In fact, Forrester Research (http://www.alacrastore.com/research/forrester-Apple_s_iPad_Is_A_New_Kind...) says the iPad will ushers in a new era of "Curated Computing" -- a mode of computing in which choice is constrained to...

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May 25
Greg's bite: the secret to Apple's lower R...

By Greg Mills

As an inventor and R&D guy myself, it comes as no surprise to me that Apple is spending far less for its research than it's competitors. We ran an article yesterday with numbers that
put Apple's R&D expenditures at one-seventh that of Microsoft with similar market caps between the companies.  

Look at what is coming out of the two companies and you wonder how Microsoft is blowing so much money. The truth is that Apple is just innovating better at a low cost, not that Microsoft is wasting so much more than typical companies their size.

The difference between the two  companies is like comparing the Zune to iPod touch. The conventional method of R&D is to put a rough product idea before the brain trust and ask them to do it better. The problem for Microsoft in competing with Apple is that by the time Microsoft identifies the next big thing, Apple has already done it so well it is hard to improve. By the time you...

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May 24
Greg's bite: video out limitations on the iPad

By Greg Mills

I love my iPad, but I am finding that there are some limitations I didn't expect. I was planning to buy an Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter but read the reviews first on the Apple store info page for iPad.

The reviews all expressed frustration that the US$29 device will only output a VGA video signal for specific apps. That has killed my interest in it for the time being.

So far Keynote, the Movie App from Apple that comes on the iPad and Netflix are about it for that function. Clearly, the issue is software and has to be allowed by each app that does that trick. I put out feelers to find out, but hopefully future iPad OS incarnations will allow full display mirroring.

Showing your video or screen on a video projector or a TV screen with the exact display seen on the iPad is sort of an expected ability. I have used that feature with my MacBook Pro on occasion. That way I can use Safari and web sites to document...

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May 24
The iPad is changing the info, entertainment...

The iPad is causing the entertainment and information industries to undergo a paradigm shift in the delivery of content and services to consumers, according to a new report from Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com).

The impact started on day one. Apple said it sold over 300,000 the first day the iPad went on sale in the US and that over one million iPad apps were downloaded. With the iPad, Apple created a leisure media device that is at home curled up on the couch for a relaxing read, propped up in the kitchen as a helpful digital cookbook or playing a movie in the bedroom.

Content producers and owners are no longer limited to stationary TV sets, mobile phones with tiny screens or computers that place entertainment in a secondary role. The major TV networks, online video services, newspapers, magazines and book publishers are turning the iPad into a hybrid TV/...

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May 21
Greg's bite: Apple and the cool factor

By Greg Mills

No one who ever sees many movies or TV programs could possibly miss the many placement of Apple products on the screen. The cool factor that Apple has cultured is passed on to actors who appear to use a Mac.  

From "Forest Gump," whose money man purchased stock for him in a "fruit company" (Apple) and made him rich, to "Independence Day" where a virus to implode the alien invasion was implemented with a Mac, the use of a Mac instead of a PC means something.

The chic factor that surrounds anything with the Apple logo on it puts the product and the user into the aura of coolness. While HP had to pay Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City" to switch to an HP PC, most Apple placements in movies and TV shows are not paid appearances. Apple does donate products for placement but does not pay for them to be shown, per se. That coolness factor is worth billions and was carefully cultured by the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" advertising campaign...

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May 20
Say hi to Google TV; hey, Apple, time to get serious...

If Apple is going to move the Apple TV beyond the "hobby" stage, now would be a great time to do it. Google has entered the web video format arena with the introduction of its WebM format, which will integrate both web browsing and cable TV with one device running its Android operating system.

Said device is slated for a fall debut -- and, make no mistake, it will be a competitor to the Apple TV. In fact, if Apple doesn't start taking its own product seriously (browser support, anyone?), Google TV could be an Apple TV killer.

Thursday at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco, some leading industry players teamed up to announce the development of Google TV, an open platform that adds the power of the web to the television viewing experience with the goal of ushering in a new category of devices for the living room. Intel, Sony, and Logitech, together with Best Buy, DISH Network and Adobe, have joined Google on stage to announce their support for Google TV....

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May 20
Apple looking into contextual ads on iDevices

Future iPhones, iPod touches and iPads could serve up advertisements or discount coupons to users based on their current location or activity, per a new Apple patent (number 20100125492) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is for a system and method for providing contextual advertisements according to a dynamic pricing scheme. Systems, methods, and devices for providing electronic advertisements according to a dynamic pricing scheme are provided. For example, a method for providing an electronic advertisement according to a dynamic pricing scheme may include transmitting an advertisement to an electronic device belonging to a user and receiving marketing factors indicating a likelihood that the user will be receptive to the advertisement.

The advertisement may be configured for display on the electronic device and at least one of the marketing factors may be received from the electronic device. A price for providing the advertisement to the target...

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May 20
Apple patent involves audio beamforming

An Apple patent (number 20100123785) involving a graphic control for directional audio input has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates to invention relate to the field of audio beamforming, and more specifically, to the aiming of audio beamforming.

A device to provide an audio output includes a microphone array, a signal processor, and a graphic user interface (GUI). The signal processor is coupled to the microphone array to perform audio beamforming with input from the microphone array. The GUI is coupled to the signal processor to display a plurality of audio sources, to receive a selection of at least one of the plurality of audio sources from a user, and to provide the selection to the signal processor for aiming the audio beamforming toward the selected audio source. The selection may be made by touching the display.

The device may further include a camera and the GUI may display an image received from the camera as the...

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May 20
Apple patents hint at Apple TV updates

For those hoping for a long-overdue update/overhaul to the Apple TV, two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office offer hope. They hint at future Apple TVs that can be controlled by HDTVs and DVRs, as well as some iPhone/iPad-ish features.

Patent 20100123834 is for a system and method for capturing remote control device signals. The invention relates to media processing devices, and to systems and methods for capturing by a media processing device remote control device command signals, such as navigation and playback commands, from a plurality of remote control devices.

Methods, systems, and apparatus for learning remote control command signals by a media processing device. In one aspect, a method includes activating a learning mode of operation, presenting an instruction to actuate a control associated with a secondary remote control device, capturing a command signal transmitted by the secondary remote control device while the learning mode is...

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May 19
I'm dubious of a change in Apple's Final Cut...

AppleInsider said that Apple's Final Cut Studio suite of video post production apps is getting a "significant makeover to better target the software to the mainstream of Apple's customer base rather than high end professionals." The site may be right, but I just can't see it happening for a couple of reasons.

Quoting "a person with knowledge of Apple's internal Pro Apps plans," "AppleInsider" says Apple has shuffled around management within the Final Cut team in order to retarget its efforts to more closely match the needs of the majority of its customers. Apple's Mac customer base has steadily shifted from desktop models to notebooks, while also broadening out from a high end creative niche to a wider installed base that includes more prosumer and advanced home users, the article adds.

That's true. But it seems to be that there's little sense behind a major tweak in the Final Cut Pro strategy for two reasons:

One: Final Cut Pro is a...

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May 19
Opinion: betting against Apple is historically...

The story of major cell phone companies that dismissed the iPhone rank among the business decision nightmares that rank way up the list on the worst business decision ever. When business classes list the biggest blunders of the history of business, the biggest might well be IBM's screwup that inflicted Microsoft on the world ... sort of like a long term tech plague.

IBM's early PC entry needed an operating system, and the genius brain trust at IBM figured they wouldn't sell enough of them to warrant writing the software themselves. So they offered Bill Gates the chance to write and sell the system software that would run on the new PC. If IBN had simply written a system software package for their hardware, Microsoft might not have occurred.   

Another blunder: Adobe figured Apple was not the highest priority and took their sweet time launching Mac OS X software. Consequently, they got left in the lurch when the OS took off.  Now they are seeing the error of their ways...

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May 19
OmniVision image sensor sounds like an Apple product...

OmniVision Technologies (http://www.ovt.com ) has introduced the OV2720, the world's first 1/6-inch, native 1080p/30 high-definition (HD) CMOS image sensor designed for notebook, netbook, webcam and video conferencing applications. Hmmm, sounds like something we might see in future Apple laptops -- or perhaps a next gen iPad.

Based on OmniVision's 1.4 micron OmniBSI backside illumination technology, the new 1080p sensor delivers video conference quality HD video recording in a small enough form factor to meet the module size and height requirements of today's thin notebook designs. The OV2720 is currently sampling with multiple tier-one customers and is slated to go into mass production in June.

iChat capabilities were expected by some in the first version of the iPad. Of course, that didn't happen. But we could see it in iPad version 2.0. Also, it sounds as if the OmniVision sensor migtt allow for higher def...

| Read more »
May 18
Apple patents involve DVDs, query results, more

Several Apple patents appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office today. Here's an overview. Patent number 7,720,354 involves embedded access for digital versatile disc (DVD) independent of DVD player software.

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 are Freddier Geier and Stefan Bauer-Schwan.

Patent number 7,720,860 is for query result iteration. Systems and methods for processing an index are described. A pulse...

| Read more »
May 18
Could AT&T's HSPA+ plans convince me to buy a...

Could this be the move that finally makes me get an iPhone? AT&T is purportedly planning on upgrading its wireless network to support the faster HSPA+ protocol, and plans to make the service available to some 250 million customers in 2010.

Currently, I've not bought an iPhone due to the crappy AT&T wireless service in my neck of the woods. Truthfully, I've been holding out for a Verizon-based Apple phone. Can AT&T change my mind?

News of the planned network upgrade came from AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey at a Reuters event, reports "Engadget" (http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/14/atandt-to-cover-about-250m-people-wit... ). This could means lots more iPhone 3GS owners could be able to access Internet-based content faster by the end of the year....

| Read more »
May 17
Despite war with Adobe, Apple promotes CS5

Anyone who follows Apple news is well aware that the Cupertino company's relationship with Adobe has been very rough as of late. For a long time Apple has refused to allow Flash on the iPhone, and, more recently, Apple amended its iPhone developer agreement to prevent cross-compilation of apps shortly before the release of Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) which includes a feature to do just that.  

Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Adobe co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock have written open letters to the world expressing their disagreement with each other's viewpoints. So imagine my shock when I saw a promotional e-mail in my inbox yesterday from Apple titled "The all-new Adobe Creative Suite 5. Get yours today."

This was crazy! How on earth could Apple, in the midst of a war of words and opinions with Adobe, invite all of its own e-mail subscribers to buy an Adobe product, especially CS5 -- one of the software packages that Apple recently banned from being able to make...

| Read more »
May 17
Opinion: Apple mobile hardware's lousy fluid...

As a mindless Apple fan boy, I am quick to tout the coolness of Apple products but tend to wink at vulnerabilities.  Sorry about that, but the worst Apple product exceeds the garbage the competition puts out most of the time. 

Today's op-ed piece, however, will blast Apple in a way I never have before. In many respects Apple hardware exceeds the rest of the industry in quality and durability. Apple customer service is generally incredibly helpful and they go the extra mile for customers. Still, there are a couple of areas where improvement could be made.

I read with some degree of empathy about runners who sweated while caring their iPhones in their pockets. They took the moist iPhones back only to be rebuffed by Apple repair service, due to "fluid damage." While it is not a reasonable expectation to go scuba diving with an iPhone, it seems like greater humidity resistance could be achieved across the board. The reason laptops, iPhones and iPads are cool is because...

| Read more »
May 17
More 100-year-olds using new technology

Forget the cliche that you can't teach old dogs new tricks. Evercare by UnitedHealthcare has released its fifth annual Evercare 100@100TM Survey (http://www.Evercare100at100.com), and it blows that cliche away.

The national poll of 100 Americans turning 100 years of age or older this year reveals that centenarians are staying connected to family, friends, current events and pop culture and are increasingly using the latest technologies, including text messages, IMs and iPods, compared with two years ago.

More than 80% of the centenarians surveyed say they talk to/communicate with a friend or family member daily. The survey also uncovered an increase in the number of centenarians who say they are using text messaging, IMs, iPods and other technologies.

Eight percent of centenarians surveyed say they have sent someone a text message or an instant message, compared to just 1%...

| Read more »
May 14
Opinion: iPad is a revolutionary device seeking its...

Well, I've had my iPad a week now and I am still struggling with the billion dollar question: what do I do with it? I have an iPad, iPhone and a MacBook Pro, so which device do I use for which tasks? There is redundancy in many functions, such as email, among my multiple devices.

The same general question came up when the laptop replaced the desktop commuter for most of us. As laptops became more powerful and sported larger screens, the convenience of being able to fold it in half and carry with you became the preferred computer form for many people. Laptops now outsell desktops. (An aside: I wish MacBooks more water resistant due to the risks of the mobile world.) Wireless Wi-Fi, powerful new chips and a meaningful battery life made that happen. You know Steve Jobs and the crew at Apple are thinking the same thing. But what does the iPad replace?

I have been carrying my new iPad with me these days and find that it's really nice for checking email and checking my...

| Read more »
May 14
Hey, Apple, beef up the input resolution capability of...

I'm still hoping a future iMac will offer Blu-ray playback, at least as a build-to-order option. I also hope said upgrade will improve its support for input resolutions. Especially if Blu-ray support isn't coming.

The EDID (extended display identification data) embedded in the iMac display only accepts two input resolutions: 2560 x 1440 and 1280 x 720. This limits its effectiveness with a device such as the Kanex XD, which lets you connect a PlayStation 3, Xbox or Blu-ray player to a 27-inch iMac and use it as a display for these gadgets.

The first resolution isn't supported by PS3 and Xbox because the highest resolution output supported on those is 1920 x 1080, or 1080p. Since the iMac doesn't recognize 1080p input resolution, the sources must be set to 720p for proper video pass-through and for the iMac to recognize. No biggie when it comes to the video games consoles, but a disappointment if you want to watch Blu-ray movies via the Kanex XD, in all their 1080p...

| Read more »
May 13
Future Apple products could have carbon composite mold...

An Apple patent (number 20100119634) for a carbon composite mold design has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to the formation of carbon composite based components, and, more particularly, to the use of molds to form such carbon composite based components.

A mold assembly or system includes a moldbase that holds mold inserts and has embedded fluid lines to facilitate cooling during part formation. Mold inserts combine to form mold cavities that receive carbon fiber and resin components to form a carbon composite based part. A permanent release coating along a mold component surface that contacts the carbon fiber and resin components facilitates the release of the finished part from the mold component.

Guide pins and guide pin receiving holes facilitate accurate alignment of mold components. Ejector pins within respective ejector pin shafts help eject a finished part from a respective mold component. An ejector pin shaft...

| Read more »
May 13
Apple patent reflects location-based iPhone service

An Apple patent (number 20100120450) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that hints at a location-based service for the iPhone. It relates to location specific content on a mobile device.

Systems, methods, and computer program products communicate location information associated with a device, such as a mobile device, to a server. Content identified by the server is received at the device, from the server and/or from a content service. The content can include an application associated with the location information. The content received at the device is displayed on the device only while the device is at or near a particular location identified by the location information. The inventor is Scott Herz.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Mobile devices have grown more powerful and feature-rich and now include such features as personal digital assistant (PDA) capabilities, cameras, Internet access, Wi-Fi access, etc. Software...

| Read more »
May 13
Apple eyeing 3D display system

3D is all the rage at the movies and more vendors are making 3D HDTVs for the home. And Apple has noticed. A patent (number 200118118) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a three dimensional display system.

Per the patent a three-dimensional display system would provide a projection screen having a predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function. Three-dimensional images are respectively modulated in coordination with the predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function to define a programmable mirror with a programmable deflection angle. The inventor is Christoph H. Krah.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Modern three-dimensional (3D) display technologies are increasingly popular and practical not only in computer graphics, but in other diverse environments and technologies as well. Growing examples include medical diagnostics, flight simulation, air traffic control, battlefield simulation, weather...

| Read more »
May 13
The iPad won't kill Apple's products, but it...

Some folks are predicting that the iPad will kill off many of Apple's products since the company is touting the "magical device" as having features of laptops, netbooks, ebook readers, iPods and more. The iPad won't kill off many Apple products (though if I were the MacBook Air and iPod touch, I'd be worried) but it will change them.

Survey data from Alphawise, Morgan Stanley's internal research team, indicate that iPad sales are hurting sales of the iPod and the MacBook. The survey shows that 44% of iPad buyers had chosen it over a laptop. Of that number, 24% had foregone buying a MacBook while the other 20% had nixed a PC notebook purchase. The survey also found that 27% of users would not buy a desktop as a result of their iPad purchase, with 14% of those not buying a Mac desktop, and the other 13% passing on a PC.

What's more, earlier this year, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster surveyed 448 iPad buyers and found that 99 % of respondents had not considered...

| Read more »
May 13
Verizon, Apple, the iPhone: will they, wont' they...

We're still playing the "will they or won't they?" guessing game as to if and/or when there might be a Verizon version of the iPhone. But I think -- or maybe I'm just hoping -- that we'll see one sooner rather than later.

The rumor mill is abuzz that Landor Associates is working on an advertising campaign” for Verizon for an upcoming iPhone. "CrunchGear" (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/05/11/rumor-landor-associates-working-on-...) says that Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch.

This suggests a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer, but goes against another round of reports that say that Apple and AT&T's...

| Read more »
May 12
Will the iPad go mass market?

The iPad is unlikely to reach mass market anytime soon according to Simpson Carpenter (http://www.simpsoncarpenter.com/), a UK research group. All of the iPad’s perceived advantages were seen to be filling a niche or too use-case specific, such as reading eBooks, consuming content on the train, or making presentations, notes "TechCrunch" (http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/05/12/report-the-ipad-wont-go-mass-market-...) reporting on the group's study.

Also, while the majority of those interviewed thought the iPad had the "wow factor," they couldn’t justify the purchase price, the article adds. “In our view the iPad will take longer to achieve the sales growth and wider market impact of the iPhone," says...

| Read more »
May 12
Verizon, Apple, the iPhone: will they, wont' they...

We're still playing the "will they or won't they?" guessing game as to if and/or when there might be a Verizon version of the iPhone. But I think -- or maybe I'm just hoping -- that we'll see one sooner rather than later.

The rumor mill is abuzz that Landor Associates is working on an advertising campaign for Verizon for an upcoming iPhone. "CrunchGear" (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/05/11/rumor-landor-associates-working-on-...) says that Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch.

This suggests a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer, but goes against another round of reports that say that Apple and AT&T's...

| Read more »
 
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Thanksgiving is nearly upon us! You know what that means? Eating too much turkey, watching the Big Game, and spending time with family (whether you like it or not). Oh, and that scary Black Friday thing, but we won’t talk about that here. For those... | Read more »
Kingdom Rush Origins HD Review
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Jumptuit Launches One-Tap Windows 8.1 iTunes...
Jumptuit has launched Windows 8.1 support for One-Tap iTunes Sync. with which Windows 8.1 users can now easily sync their iTunes libraries with Microsoft OneDrive. Jumptuit provides easy access from... Read more
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27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on...
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21-inch 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $979, save $1...
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B&H Photo has lowered their price on the 13″ 1.4GHz/256GB MacBook Air to $1059.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $140 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this... Read more
Save up to $400 with Apple refurbished 2014 1...
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New 13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $8...
 Adorama has the 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. B&H Photo has the 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook... Read more
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