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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the Morgan Stanley research group...

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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Apr 14
You gotta love Comcast (not)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 13
Is Apple planning to reinvent TV?

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

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

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

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

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Apr 12
Apple working on making user accounts portable

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

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

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Apr 12
iPads making in-roads into the business market

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

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

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

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

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Apr 12
Apple wins gesture-detecting patent

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

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

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "There exist today many styles of input devices for performing operations in a computer system. The operations generally correspond to moving a cursor and making selections on a display screen. The operations can also include paging, scrolling, panning, zooming, etc. By way of example, the input devices can include buttons, switches, keyboards, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch...

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Apr 11
US digital music sales will overtake CDs In 2012

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 07
Future iPads could have e-paper features

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's Apple's background and...

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

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

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

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

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

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Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

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

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

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

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Apr 06
Apple eyeing combo USB 3.0/DisplayPort connector

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

...

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Apr 05
SSDs not going to replace HHDs any time soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the study Epitiro monitored performance of...

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Apr 01
Greg's bite: 1 Gigabit Internet issues

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Apr 01
The Northern Spy: the worth of a word

By Rick Sutcliffe

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

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

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Apr 01
Study of iPad users identifies obstacles for The Daily

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

Mr. Mundie stated in a...

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Mar 31
Apple investigating 3D cameras for iPhones, iPads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mar 31
Apple eyeing Spaces type feature for the iPad

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

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Mar 31
Apple working on a power adapter with an internal...

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

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

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

| Read more »
Mar 31
Are tablets just a fad? No, but ....

Katherine Noyes, writing for "PC World" (http://macte.ch/byR2m), says tablets are just a fad. I disagree with her basic premise, but she does have some good points.

Among Noyes' reasons for doubting the future of the tablets are:

° Limited functionality: "As far as I can tell, tablets do not offer any significant functionality that's not already available on a smartphone or notebook computer, yet they lack critical components like keyboards. In fact, you can get a laptop with considerably more memory and storage and a much better CPU for a significantly lower price, as my PCWorld colleague recently pointed out."

° They're inconvenient: "Unlike smartphones, the tablet form factor is too large to fit in a pocket or purse, yet it doesn't offer anywhere near the functionality of only slightly larger devices like notebooks and laptop computers."

° Waning excitement: "It's true that other...

| Read more »
Mar 31
Apple patents involve unibody design, map layouts

Two Apple patents involving computer housing and map layouts have appeared at the US Patnet & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20110073575 is for a computer housing and involves the "unibody" design of recent Apple laptops and iMacs. A visually seamless method of joining a first piece of metal and a second piece of metal is described. The first piece of metal is placed in contact with an edge of the second piece of metal. In some embodiments, the edge includes a sacrificial lip.

The first piece of metal forming a junction area with the edge of the second piece of metal, applying a forging force to the first piece of metal, the forging force having an effect of creating an extremely tight fit up between the first and the second pieces of metal, welding the first and the second pieces to form an assembly and forming a cosmetically enhancing protective layer on the surface of the assembly, the protective layer obscuring any visible artifacts on the surface of the...

| Read more »
Mar 30
Greg's bite: correction -- PlayBook runs Android...

By Greg Mills

Sometimes I miss something major, lost in the small print when I do my research. I discovered this morning that I made an understandable error in yesterday's post when I bluntly stated that RIM's soon-to-be-launched, PlayBook would run Android Apps.  

RIM announced with great fanfare on March 24 that PlayBook would be able to run Android apps. Well, that is sort of true, but sort of isn't completely true at this time, maybe ever.  Don't buy a RIM PlayBook based upon the promise of running Android apps.

With all the other "got ya" problems with PlayBook, even stating that it would run Android Apps isn't without major complications. It seems RIM is promising an "Android platform runtime app" (to be released this summer) that will enable Android v2.3 apps that have been specifically "adapted" by their developers for RIM's PlayBook OS to run in a "sandbox" environment. That means the Android apps may not be full featured when run on...

| Read more »
Mar 30
Anticipating the next iMac

In a series of Tweets (via MacNews.de), CNET's Brian Tong says he's received word from a "reliable source" that new iMacs will arrive in late April or early May. That's no surprise, and it's easy to guess at some of the features, though others I would love to see probably won't make the cut.

The updated iMacs will doubtless feature dual and quad Sandy Bridge processors, as well as Thunderbolt technology. The lower end iMacs will probably sport 2.3GHz and 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5s, while the high-end iMacs will tout 2.0GHz and 2.3 quad-core Intel Core i7s. The low end models will most likely sport integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with the main memory. The higher end models will likely come with an AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR5 memory or an AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

The revved iMacs will certainly sport Thunderbolt I/O technology. Developed by Intel with...

| Read more »
Mar 29
Apple patent involves antenna isolation for future...

An Apple patent (number 7916089) for antenna isolation for portable devices has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is far from finished with antenna implementations in future iPhones.

Per the patent portable electronic devices are provided with wireless circuitry that includes antennas and antenna isolation elements. The antennas may include antennas that have multiple arms and that are configured to handle communications in multiple frequency bands. The antennas may also include one or more antennas that are configured to handle communications in a single frequency band. The antennas may be coupled to different radio-frequency transceivers.

For example, there may be first, second, and third antennas and first and second transceivers. The first and third antennas may be coupled to the first transceiver and the second antenna may be coupled to the second transceiver. The antenna isolation elements may be interposed between the...

| Read more »
Mar 29
Apple patent is for dock that operates in multiple...

An Apple patent (number 7916467) for methods and apparatuses for docking in a portable electronic device that has a planar-like configuration and that operates in multiple orientations has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A docking system is disclosed. The docking system includes a portable electronic device capable of operating in multiple orientations including vertical and horizontal. The docking system also includes a docking station configured to mechanically accept and operatively interface with the portable electronic device in any of its multiple orientations including vertical and horizontal. The inventors are Steve Hotelling and Gus Pabon.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic devices include a docking station for providing a convenient interface for transferring data between the electronic device and other devices, such as a computers, speakers, monitors, and printers. The docking station may also include...

| Read more »
Mar 29
Greg's bite: bomb threat at Apple shipping -- and...

By Greg Mills

People do the strangest things. Yesterday the shipping department at Apple's Elk Grove, California, shipping facility got a bomb threat. After evacuating the buildings and doing a thorough bomb squad search, an explosive device was not found. Was someone pissed off about Apple's shipping delays? Hopefully, the cops will catch the hoax perpetrator.  

Allegorically speaking, suggestions that iPad 2 was going to "bomb" in the market place have been just as false at the explosive sort of empty threat. The Apple iPad 2 is flying off the shelf around the world.  The lines of eager Apple fans are queued up to pay up for the latest tablet computer that seems to be redefining what a computer means to consumers of downloadable digital data. The tablet computers doomed to "bomb" in the market place aren't found at Apple.

Naysayers incorrectly panned the iPad 2 as only a minor update to the iPad 1. Frankly, the iPad 1 was so far ahead of the...

| Read more »
Mar 29
2011 Apple Design Awards: the good news and the bad...

Apple has announced the dates of its 2011 Worldwide developer Conference (June 6-10), which will be home to, among other things, the 2011 Apple Design Awards. There's good news and bad news about the awards.

The good news is that, unlike last year, Mac apps will be eligible for the awards. In 2010, Apple caused quite a stir and a stink by only giving out awards to iOS-based apps. This increased the hoopla that Apple had lost its love for the Mac and that the company's focus would soon be on iOS devices only.

That's certainly proven to be incorrect. And the 2011 Apple Design Awards will honor both iOS AND Mac OS X software, which is great news. Unfortunately, those awards seem to be limited exclusively to titles available via the Mac App Store or Apple App Store, based on the wording at Apple's 2011 Design Awards website (http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/ada/).

That'...

| Read more »
Mar 29
Apple patents range from user interfaces to web clip...

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

Patent number 7917892 is for a user interface driven by dynamic state changes. A method for responding to changes to properties of component instances is disclosed. A routine, that is to be informed of changes that occur to a particular property of a plurality of properties of a component instance, is registered. The value of the particular property is detected as changed when the value of the particular property changes because of a change to another property of the plurality of properties. A call is made to the routine to indicate that the particular property has changed. Bradley D. Ford is the inventor.

Patent number 7914320 involves a cable connector assembly with sticky film. It includes an insulative housing, a plurality of contacts received in the insulative housing, a cable electrically connected with the contacts...

| Read more »
Mar 28
Will Apple license AirPlay to TV makers?

Apple is considering allowing TV makers to build its AirPlay media-sharing protocol into their sets, according to a "Bloomberg" (http://macte.ch/i3UoT) report last week. However, I'm dubious for two reasons.

But let me back up. AirPlay is a feature for streaming music, video and photos wirelessly from an iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to the Apple TV. The wireless technology is being integrated into speaker docks, AV receivers, and stereo systems from companies such as Bowers & Wilkins and Denon -- for audio only.

Under the expanded AirPlay plan, Apple would license its AirPlay software to consumer-electronics makers that could use it in devices for streaming movies, TV shows and other video content, says "Bloomberg." An expanded AirPlay would let users stream programming wirelessly from an Apple mobile device to a TV that carries the technology.

However, I have my doubts. Reason one: it would...

| Read more »
Mar 25
Greg's bite: RIM falls 10% over PlayBook flaws

By Greg Mills

As I have maintained, the prospects for RIM's PlayBook appear grim. The stock market took it out on them yesterday savaging RIM's stock prices. Analysts seem to agree with my assessment that RIM's days are numbered and that PlayBook is fatally flawed.  RIM's cell phone sales numbers have declined five quarters in a row.

Meeting Apple's iPad price points on PlayBook sounds like a great idea, but is there any profit left? RIM also has to cut in retailers and compete with Apple's sleek industrial manufacturing footprint.

As I pointed out yesterday, native RIM apps are lame. Just today it comes out they are going to enable Android apps to work on PlayBook. Forgive me if I miss something in PlayBook specs, as they are announced and changed on the fly.

From the latest information I have, PlayBook still requires a BlackBerry to work. That sounds nuts to me as it prevents wider assimilation in the market as one would have to put...

| Read more »
Mar 24
There's still LOTS of room for Mac market share...

I've long contended that the Mac is the most underestimated of Apple's crown jewels, lost in the adoration of the iPad and other iOS devices. Sure, there's room for growth of the iPad, the iPhone, certainly the Apple TV, and, yes, even the iPod. But there's also incredible room for Mac growth.

Eric Jackson, the founder and managing member of Ironfire Capital, has nailed it in a recent column (http://macte.ch/LaAHk) for "Forbes." He had this to say: "We know that Apple has focused on the education segment for a long time. The idea is to seed the next-generation of Mac buyers. Admittedly, such a strategy requires patience.  But, with the Baby Boomers retiring, the college kids coming into the workforce in increasing numbers, and a critical mass of Apple products (iPhone, iPad, and TV), there is likely to start to be a rapid increase in Mac usage. The last quarter saw Macs set a new record (3.47 million sold in...

| Read more »
Mar 24
Future iOS devices may be even more graphics driven

Per a new patent (number 201110071977) at the US Patent & Trademark Office, Apple is considering using graphics and multi-touch gestures in lieu of, or perhaps in addition to, text on future iDevices for accessing music, contact lists and more.

According to the patent, entitled "Segmented Graphical Presentations for Recommending Elements," systems, methods and machine-readable media are disclosed for providing segmented graphical representations of elements, such as songs, videos, pictures, graphics, or address book contacts. In some embodiments, an electronic device may identify remote and/or local elements based on a seed element and may display a segmented graphical representation of the seed element (e.g., a tiled album cover).

At least one of the segments may be associated with one or more of the identified elements. In response to receiving a user selection of a segment, the electronic device may perform any of a number of suitable actions based on the...

| Read more »
Mar 24
Apple planning further facial recognition enhancements...

Apple is already planned to beef up its Face recognition technology in iPhoto and perhaps iMovie, as indicated by a new patent (number 20110069085) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The patent is for generating slideshows using facial detection information.

Methods and systems are presented for automatically generating a slide associated with a slideshow. In one aspect, a method includes selecting an image for inclusion in a slideshow, where the image has associated facial detection information. A face location is determined in the selected image based on the facial detection information and the selected image is cropped based on the determined face location to generate a cropped image depicting the included face. The cropped image is inserted into a slide associated with the slideshow.

Further, an animation having a defined animation path can be associated with the slide. Also, the face location can be identified as a position in the animation path and the...

| Read more »
 
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