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Jun 15
Add Faces and Places features to OS X Address Book

Have you ever wondered why the OS X Address Book doesn't have a Faces and/or Places feature like iPhone? Also, why isn't it linked to iPhoto?

Wouldn't it be great to see the current group on a map with pins to show where people in your Address Book reside? Or to be able to click on a link in Address Book and have it take you to iPhoto to show that person's photos?

Finally, where is iWork '11? I thought it would have debuted by now. Perhaps Apple will release it along with Mac OS X Lion next month. Or perhaps I should say "them" instead of "it," as I suspect Pages, Keynote and Numbers will sold as separate items from now on -- and will available only on the Mac App Store.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jun 14
Apple patent is for custom content gift cards

An Apple patent (number 7,959,065) for custom content gift cards has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's for a customized gift card and methods for customizing the gift card with buyer-selected downloadable content.

Per the patent, a buyer may associate pre-purchased downloadable content with a gift card such that the card is “preloaded” for a recipient. The recipient may then redeem the customized gift card and download or access the pre-purchased content. The customized gift card may also include a buyer-selected image and/or personalized message on the face of the card. Alternatively, the customized gift card may have a generic design.

Various methods are provided for producing the cards and selecting the downloadable content, including purchasing the card online and having it delivered; buying a generic card and associating content with it online; and purchasing and preloading the card at a dispenser, or kiosk. The inventors are Michael...

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Jun 14
iWork and iCloud could be best buddies

I know of a few folks that hope that iWork will go the way of MobileMe and simply become part of Apple's upcoming iCloud service. I wouldn't mind an iCloud tie-in, but I don't want iWork apps to be "just" cloud-based apps; I still want copies of the software and the documents I produce on all my hardware.

That said, it would be great if iWork gets a real on-line collaborative component (or equivalent) that will make it a real small business and student targeted competitor to Google Docs. Perhaps a finalized, mature, iCloud-integrated version of the iWork.com service that's been in beta for about 100 years. Combined with free e-mail (.me and .mac), that would be a sweet public response to Google's Android.

Sure, the iAd thing was a shot at Google, but the general public doesn't really care about that. Public perception will be impacted more with real alternatives to things they see as useful to them -- e-mail, documents, calendars, etc.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jun 14
Apple patents involve antennas, camera flashes, more

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

Patent number 7,961,151 is for antennas for compact portable wireless devices and involves the technology behind the Nike + iPod program that includes a special transceiver that embedded in a running shoe. Shu-Li Wang, Juan Zavala, and Christopher Prest are the inventors.

Per the patent, the compact portable wireless device may be part of a piece of sports equipment. A compact portable wireless device may include a transceiver module that is used in communicating with equipment such as a handheld electronic device. An antenna for a compact portable wireless device can have a relatively small size while exhibiting high efficiency. A planar ground structure for the antenna may be formed from a circuit board on which integrated circuits have been mounted. A curved inverted-F resonating element may be attached to the ground structure. A battery...

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Jun 13
Greg's Bite: Apple obsoletes entire market...

By Greg Mills

I read an interesting story about the most damaged industrial sectors in the US economy. While Apple's name wasn't mentioned, several sectors in decline are either directly falling victim to decline because of Apple's business -- or Apple represents the possible salvation of those businesses.

The market research company IBISWorld did a study of the 200 market sectors in the US that had seen the most decline in the past 10 years, and then compiled a worst of the worst preforming sectors. Among the 10 greatest economic disaster zones are: record retailers, wired communications carriers, newspaper publishers, DVD game and video store rentals, video post-production companies and photo finishers.

Thus, 60% of the worst preforming market sectors are directly related to Apple.  While these sector companies are failing across the United States, Apple is thriving. What is going on here?

Record companies are going under since they...

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Jun 13
WWDC musings: I want iBooks on my Mac

It annoys me that I can't read my iBooks on my OS X devices. But unless I missed something in the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference keynote on June 6, that still won't be possible with Mac OS X Lion.

During the keynote, Apple bragged about the number of books that have been downloaded since the the iBookstore opened: about 130 million. iBooks, along with other digital content, will be able to be stored online via the upcoming iCloud service.

iCloud will let you download your iBooks to any device, but you can only read them via the iBooks app. And there's no Mac OS X version of the app.

Apple needs to change this. They may prefer that we read our ebooks and e-magazines on our iPads, but some of us want to be able to read e-publications on our Macs. In fact, a recent Forrester survey found that laptops are still the most-used device for doing so.

So, c'mon, Apple show the Mac some iBook love.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jun 13
Greg's Bite: the difference in opt-ing in and opt...

By Greg Mills

Personally, I don't do FaceBook.  However, my wife does FB and loves it.  Therefore, privacy issues in FaceBook's new geotagging pictures with names using facial recognition software residing on FaceBook servers, affects me as well as her.  Since I tend to show up in the pictures she posts on line, my pictures are included quite often.  

Someone on FaceBook can geotag pictures associating names with what were posted as anonymous pictures, and suddenly pictures have your name emblazoned on them.  This is done without your consent, soon name-tagged pictures will pop up anywhere on the net beyond your control.  Not everyone will like that idea.

FaceBook will soon recognize you, by default, on any of the anonymous millions of pictures found globally on FaceBook servers.  How do you opt out of that?  Some 200 million pictures a day go on line at that site.  

While FaceBook plans to ask the account holder if it is okay to tag...

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Jun 10
Greg's Bite: Apple roadkill

By Greg Mills

The press is full of interesting stories of Apple's roadkill this week. Leading the long list of the serially flummoxed is RIM, which has continued to lose market share and stock value due to stumbling about the market with lackluster products.  

One tech product reviewer likened the RIM PlayBook to a venereal disease. No one wants it. He has tried to return a loaner PlayBook he was asked to review by RIM, without success. In his words, "It (the PlayBook) is the herpes of tablets -- once you have it, you can't get rid of it."

He speculates that they don't even want that PlayBook at RIM's headquarters. The dual headed CEO situation at RIM is sort of like a troll, I guess. RIM has recently lost one-third of its value. Management at RIM places the blame squarely at the feet of Steve Jobs. They don't think Steve is a nice man. He ruined their thriving BlackBerry business. The truth is that, RIM has squandered its business due to not...

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Jun 10
WWDC musings: the Lion download only strategy

Apparently, Mac OS X Lion will be available via download only at the Mac App Store. I don't think that's a good idea for a variety of reasons.

What if you have slow online access? Apparently, Steve Jobs & Company think that everyone lives in an urban environment and has high-speed Internet access. That's not the case. According to the latest figures from the Office of Planning, Environment & Reality (HEP), approximately 21% of US citizens still live in areas with under 2,500 in population. That's one-fifth of Americans who conceivably may have trouble downloading Lion.

Apple may argue that they can go to the nearest Apple retail store or Apple dealer and download it there. Sure, but that's not nearly as convenient as ordering it on DVD and having it delivered to your door.

What if I want to do a clean install? How do I do that with a downloadable OS update (and apparently you have to be running Snow Leopard to install Lion)? Also, if your hard drive won...

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Jun 09
Greg's Bite: security breaches as a way of life?

By Greg Mills

CitiBank has just admitted it had 200,000 credit card accounts breeched early in May. It took them a long time to admit it and even now, they are keeping details about exactly what was compromised a secret.  

Confirming what was stolen is a problem for the pubic relations reputation of the company, and it confirms to the hackers exactly what they got. Citi has admitted they got account numbers, names, and contact information.  

With that information it is possible to charge against those accounts to the full extent of the credit lines. Those accounts can now be sold to unscrupulous individuals who will do just that.  

What is going on here? The list of hacked computer systems lately is like a who's who of American business and government. CitiBank, Google's GMail, Sony PlayStation and even the US Government have all been hacked recently. Insecure data storage is actually often because of lapses in the computer systems of...

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Jun 09
Apple looks to simplify displaying, navigating items...

Apple is looking at simpler ways to display and navigate items in a ordered list per a patent (number 20110138330) for the display of relational datasets has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. This could apply to both Mac OS X and iOS devices.

Displaying and navigating items in an ordered list within a graphical user interface for viewing and utilizing the data are disclosed. An ordered list of data items can be used to generate an icon that represents the contents of the list. The icon can comprise images that best represent the items in the ordered list by choosing images associated with the highest ranked items in the ordered list.

When the ordered list is selected by selecting the icon with a pointing device or keyboard the icon transforms to display an image of a currently selected data item with navigational controls. The navigational controls can receive inputs from a pointing device or keyboard to allow a user to navigate or browse through the...

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Jun 09
Future iOS devices could contain magnetometers

An Apple patent (number 20110131825) for magnetometer accuracy and use has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Future iOS devices could contain magnetometers.

According to the patent, a parameter related to the Earth's magnetic field can be used to determine accuracy of a magnetometer of a mobile device. In one aspect, a first instance of a parameter related to Earth's magnetic field is determined using data generated by the magnetometer. The magnetometer data can be based in part on a position of the mobile device with respect to the Earth. A second instance of the parameter can be determined using data generated by a model of Earth's magnetic field.

The model data can also be based in part on the position of the mobile device with respect to the Earth. The first instance of the parameter can be compared with the second instance of the parameter. An accuracy metric for the magnetometer can be determined based on a result of the comparison. An...

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Jun 09
Apple patent involves image processing

An Apple patent (number 20110135011) for adaptive dithering during image processing has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and method are provided for adjusting certain pixel values in an image.

In an embodiment of the invention, an average pixel value of pixels at given distances from a selected pixel are examined to determine if the pixel is in a high-contrast area. If the pixel is in a smooth color gradient transition area, the pixel value may be adjusted in some embodiments using an additional dither or dither pattern to reduce differences between the pixel values of the selected pixel and the additional average pixel values exceeding the lower threshold. The inventors are Alex Eddy and Nick Burns.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "When image data, such as data representing a photograph, picture, or video, is processed electronically by a computing device, the device may not be able to display the original image with...

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Jun 09
WWDC musings: movies, iCloud and the Apple TV

Overall, I was impressed with Apple's iCloud plans, and I will use the new cloud services. However, I will also back up all my data on physical media as I don't want all my tunes, photos, and documents depending on Apple servers (sorry, Steve).

Of course, Apple didn't mention video in the keynote. Perhaps they're still working out the details with movie studios, but I do hope to see videos as part of iCloud. In fact, I'd love to see Apple offer a service that offers a la carte TV program/movie watching that frees me from cable TV/satellite providers, but that may be a while in coming. If it ever does.

Also, there were no hardware updates announced at the WWDC keynotes, though there was speculation of revamped MacBooks Airs, Time Capsules and AirPort Extremes. Not to worry. They'll arrive. I also want to see an Apple TV with an A5 processor and capable of serving up 1080i movies.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jun 08
Greg's Bite: Find my Mac comes to Mac OS X Lion

By Greg Mills

Recent developer builds of Mac OS X Lion are showing a "Find my Mac" sort of Lo-Jack protection feature for locating lost or stolen Macs.

This works much as the iPhone and iPad security system. While no Macs yet have a GPS chip on them, using Internet routing information, available WiFi sources and other traceable data, it may soon be possible to track a lost Mac's physical location.  

Not only can the missing machine be found, it can be remotely wiped or locked down allowing only Safari to work. You want a thief to hook up to the Internet so you can find them. Presumably, bricking the computer will not be easy to fix without the password.

This function goes well beyond the recent cases where a thief is photographed surfing the web on a stolen laptop. If an owner of a stolen Mac wants to remotely wipe the hard drive and lock up the stolen Mac, they can do so. The only problem with wiping the hard drive is it disables the...

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Jun 08
WWDC musings: whatever happened to an 'open...

During the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, when I saw that things like versioning was a part of a set of application programming interfaces and technology that third-parties could incorporate into their own software -- and that other Apple services would be working cross-platform -- FaceTime kept popping up in my mind.

Wasn't it supposed to be a technology that Apple was sharing with the world and that would allow other devices and software to participate in the FaceTime world? Whatever happened to that? Makes me kind of dubious when I hear about the new stuff.

Apple said they would work with a standards body on getting FaceTime into the market. However, I think that's mostly a ploy. Apple doesn't need a standards body for that. The tech that FaceTime is built on is a collection of open source and licensed tech that Apple does a great job of tying together. All Apple really has to do is to release their code and any licensing dependancies and let the...

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Jun 07
Apple granted patent for touch screen video file...

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office, including one for a touch screen video file editing on iOS devices and, apparently, touch screen Macs (should any ever be released).

Patent number 7,956,847 involves gestures for controlling, manipulating and editing media files using touch sensitive devices. In other words, iMovie on iOS devices. Specifically, gestural inputs of a human hand over a touch/proximity sensitive device can be used to control, edit, and manipulate files, such as media files including without limitation graphical files, photo files and video files. Greg Christie is the inventor.

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,...

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Jun 07
Greg's Bite: the morning-after Apple events

By Greg Mills

Prognosticators of all things Apple are reviewing their previous posts to count off the things they got right and the things they got wrong. The realization came to me as I read a post on the event written by a CNN tech writer stating that the big event wasn't any big deal. When there are so many Apple hardware products that are ready to upgrade, why didn't any hardware at all get announced? Clearly new Wi-Fi servers are in the works, for example.

The answer is something CEO Steve Jobs has in spades: FOCUS. Apple plays the press like a violin. They know that only a few new things can get the full press treatment and, hey, why not split the product releases info multiple events to maximize the free press Apple gets? That free press is worth a fortune.  

Within a few weeks there will be special events where things like faster routers, new iPhones and the other cool new Apple products will be released. They will also get the major...

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Jun 07
WWDC musings: the Mac's place in a 'post PC...

Apple CEO Steve Jobs talked a lot about the "post PC" world during his Worldwide Developer Conference keynote on Monday. So does that mean the Mac's importance is dwindling? Hardly. It's just that the Mac is now one more device in Apple's expanding arsenal, instead of THE device as it has been in the past.

As Phil Schiller, Apple's vice president of worldwide product marketing, pointed out when he joined Job's onstage at the WWDC keynote, the Mac is doing incredibly well and its customer base continues to grow at a tremendous pace. There are over 54 million active Mac users around the world and growing.

The last fiscal quarter saw the PC market actually shrink 1% year-over-year, while the Mac grew 28 percent. The Mac has outgrown the industry every quarter for the past five years.

In fact, in total revenue for fiscal 2010, the Mac accounted for $1,846 billion in revenue compared to $957 billion for the iPod, $3,007 billion for the iPhone, and $831 billion...

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Jun 06
Greg's Bite: The Nokia/Microsoft implosion -- or...

By Greg Mills

For those constantly reading my blog, the Nokia transition to the Windows 7 OS, which I predicted would be a disaster for Nokia, seems to be gathering steam.  

Since Nokia announced they were discontinuing the bulk of the existing lines of Nokia smartphones and dumping the lackluster two mobile operating systems they had been using, the market has shunned both their products and the stock of the giant Norwegian company.  

Who wants a soon-to-be-discontinued smartphone? Anybody want to buy a nearly new Kin phone that won't even run WIndows Mobile 7? They do make good paper weights and conversation pieces if you buy them right (I'm thinking under a dollar).

Elop, the former Microsoft executive, publicly threw in the towel on MeeGo OS and Symbian OS, the two proprietary Nokia brand operating systems. They were so far behind both Apple's iOS and the Android operating systems, he knew it was throwing good money after bad to...

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Jun 06
The future of TV ... the Internet

Analyst Philip Leigh of Inside Digital Media (http://www.insidedigitalmedia.com) says the future of television is on the Internet. I think he's right, though this will take time. Leigh says here is how this will happen:

° First, content migrates to the Internet where it's accessed via browser-centric or app-centric devices.

° Second, the socket panel available on modern, flat panel TVs is the "Trojan Horse" will prompt the paradigm shift.

° Third, the future TV remote control units are likely to be smartphones and tablet computers using apps such as Peel.

° Fourth, eventually sponsors will demand that they only pay for TV commercials that are actually watched. This is already starting on the Internet. However, since conventional TV alrady has digital watermarks embedded in the audio stream, it can also be implemented in regular television via smartphones and tablet...

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Jun 03
Greg's Bite: Android Blues coming from Motorola

By Greg Mills

All is not rosy with a gentile fragrance of spring in the air at the Android handset camp. Various problems come up, with all sorts of consumer products, creating what is called a "product return factor."

Each of the cell phone networks have some sort of handset return policy so customers who have a problem with a certain phone from a defect issue to just not liking a handset, allowing free returns or exchanges for some period of time.

Those returned phones are packed up and returned to the manufacturer in exchange for factory fresh units. A typical return factor of 2 to 3% is considered acceptable as a cost of doing business. Hey, some people return solid gold bars. High return rates cost the manufactures a bundle.

Smartphones have certain eccentricities that can turn consumers off or please them.  The return rate on Apple products is normally low across the board due to the inherent quality of their products. I have...

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Jun 03
Greg's Bite: Apple's 10 likely WWDC...

By Greg Mills

Second guessing Apple is a growth industry, as the deeply held secrets that are seldom leaked early are dramatically confirmed by a beaming Steve Jobs only as products are launched. We know a lot based on what is already known about existing products and logically added technology that fits.   

Near the launch date of new products it is common for supplies to run tight or be out of stock entirely just days before a major announcement. Apple Stores and catalogue Apple merchants commonly run out of things that are about to be replaced by the next version.  

Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook does the magic of selling out the previous product just in time for the new product to be launched to avoid overstock of obsolete product. He does a remarkable job and has earned a great deal of respect for his skills in this complicated trick. Sell out too soon and lose sales, sell out too late and Apple takes back obsolete product they...

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Jun 03
Mac gaming slowly, but surely, on the rise

There are signs that Mac users won't be "second class gamers" much longer. Obviously, with Windows bigger share of the computer market, gaming companies have put most of their efforts into games for peecees.

One big boost to the Mac platform was when Valve launched a Mac version of Steam in 2010. The service lets customers buy digital copies of games through a piece of software that doubles as a download manager, game updater, and chat tool.

When it launched for Mac, Valve included an option called "Steam Play" that gave buyers a dual-license to any game they bought so they could install and play it on both a Mac and a PC with Steam installed. There are now over 160 titles, with the company's own software being released at the same time as their PC counterparts, says "CNET" (http://macte.ch/LchWZ).

Valve also brought its "Steamworks" suite to Mac. Steamworks offers key tools for developers...

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Jun 02
Future iOS devices could offer dynamic alerts for...

Upcoming iOS devices could offer dynamic, GPS-enabled calendar alerts and alarms, per a new Apple patent (number 20110130958) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent, entitled "Dynamic Alerts for Calendar Events," is for a computing device that can access a calendar entry having an associated time and an associated location, in a calendar application. The computing device can dynamically determine an estimated travel time to the location associated with the calendar entry. The computing device can provide an alarm indication for the calendar entry at a time based on the estimated travel time.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Mobile or other computing devices often provide a number of services such as telephony services, email communication, a way to organize addresses and contacts, a way to play media content, and other services. Certain computing devices may also provide a calendar application to keep track of appointments and a...

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Jun 02
Greg's Bite: The clouds all seem to leak data

By Greg Mills

As you can see by the image at the right, I have discovered an image of a prototype smartphone reportedly under development by the Nokia/Microsoft team. It turns out they have turned to another well known company for product form factor/design support.  This image has not been verified to belong to Nokia/ Microsoft, but looks suspiciously authentic.   

Moving on .... in the physical world, clouds leak water. Atmospheric water condenses on microscopic particles of dust in the air and "rain drops keep falling on my head." In the world of high tech, the notion of remote servers connected to the Internet with a personal space for a lot of people to share memory tend to both lose data and also lose control of that data.  

Google GMail security has just been breeched and this is only the most recent security issue for the cloud concept of storing your data of all kinds on someone else's server.  Just recently the Google Android platform...

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Jun 02
A message to the TV networks: quit hacking us off

Today's rant is peripherally related to Apple since you can watch TV on your Macs and iOS devices -- but it's directed primarily to the head honchos of the TV networks, especially NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox.

A piece of advice, guys and gals: quit making your viewers angry. You can do this by not leaving them twisting in the wind when you cancel a show that thrives on "cliffhanger" appeal.

Recently, such serialized shows as "V," "The Event" and "Chicago Code" were canned, so fans of such shows will never know how the storylines were supposed to be resolved. Sure, low rated shows will bite the dust; TV is a business. But it's bad business to treat your "customers" shabbily.

Cancel a sitcom or a typical police procedural and there are few dangling plot-lines that will leave us crying, "What happened?" I enjoyed the goofing, charming "The Good Guys" and will miss it. Still, I won't while away nights wondering what happened to the characters; I'll just pretend they...

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Jun 02
Apple patent involves systems, methods for receiving...

An Apple patent for systems and methods for receiving infrared data with a camera designed to detect images based on visible light has popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Center.

Per the patent, a system can include a camera and image processing circuitry electrically coupled to the camera. The image processing circuitry can determine whether each image detected by the camera includes an infrared signal with encoded data. If the image processing circuitry determines that an image includes an infrared signal with encoded data, the circuitry may route at least a portion of the image (e.g., the infrared signal) to circuitry operative to decode the encoded data.

If the image processing circuitry determines that an image does not include an infrared signal with encoded data, the circuitry may route the image to a display or storage. Images routed to the display or storage can then be used as individual pictures or frames in a video because those images do not...

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Jun 01
The Northern Spy: Mom, apple pie, the picket fence, a...

By Rick Sutcliff

In abstract terms, we've all heard about the American slogan "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (with a little manifest destiny thrown in)", the Canadian version "peace, order, and good government", or the French (belied by the very revolution that spawned the slogan) "liberty, equality, fraternity."

These have their idealistic attractions. So does Heaven. Meanwhile, more practical versions for this life may include that of the Old Testament -- something like "the blessing of God with a chicken in every pot, many arrows in your quiver, and leisure beneath your own fig tree", or here in North America, "Mom, apple pie, the picket fence, and a secure retirement." What ever happened to these images of long-term stability and the social fabric they represented?

Mom has been replaced by your very best and dearest (though never personally met) friend, whom you've known online an entire half...

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Jun 01
Is Apple losing steam?

Zacks Investment Research (http://www.zacks.com) says that Apple, the most prolific growth story in the tech industry over the past 12 months, appears to be losing some steam in recent times as shares have declined approximately 4% since the release of its second quarter 2011 results on April 21.

At that time Apple reported an incredible second quarter, with earnings per share of US$6.40 beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by $1.06 (19.9%) and increasing 92.2% year over year. Revenues surged 82.7% year over year to $24.67 billion. The results were driven by strong iPhone sales, record Ma sales and increased iPad sales, as unit shipments remained robust.
Apple expects revenues of approximately $23 billion for the third quarter of 2011, reflecting a year-over-year increase of approximately 46.4% but a slight decline of 6.8% sequentially. Of course, Apple's guidance is always conservative. However, Zacks...

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Jun 01
Greg's Bite: Apple foments stockholder uprisings

By Greg Mills

The "Arab Spring" uprisings in the world of politics is sort of a foreshadow of stockholder uprisings in the tech world. The iPhone/Android smartphone revolution has completely upset the cell phone market over the last five years.  

The stock values of the former heavy hitters in the cell phone industry have all taken serious hits.  The slowly swelling Apple Mac OS market share is also rearranging the PC hardware software business. Heads will roll.

RIM, once the darling of the cell phone industry is seeing its BlackBerry phone franchise decline markedly. The move to a color touch screen and the processing power to run apps took RIM by surprise a few years back.

There is a story that has circulated the internet that when Apple announced the first iPhone the promised battery life, among other features, seemed like an impossible breakthrough that RIM's engineers promised their executive staff Apple simply couldn't deliver. A...

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May 31
Greg's Bite: warrantless smartphone searches

By Greg Mills

I have been watching the press for stories regarding smartphone searches by the police. The outcome of the legal battle over the security of our phones data is very important.  

The amount of information held on smartphones is increasing exponentially, and we are finding there is often more there than the owner is even aware of. The problem of warrantless data searches vary substantially by states and regions.  

The right of privacy of our data held on computers at home is pretty well established. The problem is the mobile aspect of computers as in laptops and smartphones. When you are carrying your data around with you it is much less secure. While law enforcement would be unlikely to take your computer away from you without probable cause in some criminal case, such limitations are not in place for laptops or smartphones in some jurisdictions.  

I submit that the security of data must apply to smartphone and laptops no...

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May 31
The iPad is negatively affecting PC growth

Apparently the iPad is affecting PC growth, but not Mac growth. Citi analyst Walter Pritchard tells clients -- as reported by "Business Insider" (http://macte.ch/N8utN) -- that the growth of consumer PC sales (as in Windows systems) is about go to negative, apparently for the time ever.

One of the reasons -- perhaps the main reason -- is growing tablet sales. And we know that the top selling tablet by a long shot is the iPad.

And in what's great news for Apple, the iPad isn't affecting Mac sales. In fact, the tablet seems to be spurring sales of Apple computers with the "halo effect," along with the iPhone. In other words, non-Mac users buy an iPad or iPhone, and love the device so much that when it's time to buy or replace a computer, they go with the Apple brand.

Makes sense. Mac shipments grew 27.7 percent in March, a period that saw a 1.2% decline in total computer shipments. In fact, the...

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May 31
Greg's Bite: Beware of the Mac Defender ambush

By Greg Mills

Well, I read about it and now I have seen it myself. I was searching Google images for "Arabic decor" when, suddenly, I opened an image and got a number of pop-ups that warned me my computer was infected -- and also magnanimously offered to help me.  

I had the pop-up blocker on Safari turned on, so it overcame that feature. A number of Safari style small windows popped up as well as an app installation window.  I shut down Safari and checked my hard drive for "Mac Defender" and didn't find anything. Recent versions of Mac Defender don't even need authorization to load, so I was concerned.

It is easy to see how users who hadn't heard about that Apple specific malware could be taken in. The news on the web is that a Russian company called ChronoPay is involved. The financial controller, Alexandra Volkov of ChronoPay, has tentatively been linked to Mac Defender malicious rogue application. ChronoPay denies the accusation but has a...

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May 31
Apple patents range from QuickTime VR to iMovie

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

Patent number 7954057 is for an object movie exporter. Methods and apparatuses for compressing and/or transmitting and/or receiving data representing different views of an object are disclosed in the QuickTime VR-related patent.

In one method according to the present invention, the method stores a plurality of frames of an object wherein each of these frames represents a view of the object. The method then assigns a reference number to each of these frames, arranges these frames in a preferred layout, divides the preferred layout into a plurality of blocks having frames sharing spatial similarities, and compresses each of these blocks separately. The inventors are Xiaochun Nie and Christopher L. Flick.

Patent number 7954061 involves the creation and manipulation of Internet location objects in a graphical user...

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May 30
Greg's bite: John C. Dvorak, Court Jester of Tech...

By Greg Mills

Long known for foot-in-mouth statements, pundit John C. Dvorak has shown his utter contempt and envy for the Apple platform once again. In an article published by "PC Magazine" he actually roots for the recent Mac Defender trojan.  

The notion of "misery loves company" and basic juvenile, visceral envy come to mind. Long known to open his mouth only to change feet, Dvorak's mindless logic is typical of PC fanboys who hate Apple.

The court jester of tech thinks it is about time Mac users suffer the constant battle to keep their computers working the Windows world have been fighting since viruses, worms and other assorted malware came up years ago. Dvorak states that this should wipe the smug smile off the faces of Mac users. Gee, what business is it of Dvorak's that I have had numerous Mac and Apple devices over the last 25 years without a single virus, worm or trojan without ever installing virus protection software?

The...

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May 27
Greg's Bite: there are calls for Ballmer's...

By Greg Mills

The poor performance of Microsoft in the last 10 years has fundamental issues that will hobble the company for years to come. A stock hedge company has issued a paper demanding Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's head on a pike.  

Since Mr. Ballmer took over from Bill Gates in 2000, Microsoft's market cap has been cut in half. Once the most valuable tech company in the world, Apple passed Microsoft last year.

Failure to innovate is deadly for high tech companies. Gates is famously quoted as saying, "Companies that fail to obsolete their own products are doomed to see the competition do it." Innovation at Microsoft has been fraught with more failures than successful products during Ballmer's term as CEO.  

Apple launched the iPhone, and Microsoft launched the Kin Phone. The iPhone has become the de-facto standard for smartphones that the competition strives to match, and consumers compare all competitive phones with. The Kin was...

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May 27
Apple eyeing sunlight/sunglasses friendly displays for...

A new Apple patent (number 20110124260) for a display that emits circularly-polarized light has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and shows that Apple is working on improved LCD display for devices like the iPad and iPhone that are more sunlight and sunglasses friendly.

One embodiment of the present invention provides a display that emits circularly-polarized light. This display includes a display mechanism that emits linearly-polarized light and a layer placed in the path of the linearly-polarized light. The layer receives the linearly-polarized light on one surface, converts the linearly-polarized light to circularly-polarized light, and then emits the circularly-polarized light from another surface.

By emitting circularly-polarized light, the display reduces the perceived distortion found at some angles when the display is viewed through a linearly-polarizing filter. The inventors are John Z. Zhon, Wei Chen, Cheng Chen, Victor H.E. Yin and Shawn R....

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May 27
Apple working on light-transmission display system

Apple is working on a invisible, light-transmissive display system per a new patent (number 20110122560) that's appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The results could be things like light-transmissive, reconfigurable keyboards.

Per the patent, substantially invisible, tapered, light-transmissive holes are penetrated in a light-transmissive pattern through at least a portion of the light resistant material using a laser beam having a focal width less than the smallest diameter of the tapered holes. The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Richard P. Howarth, Daniele de Iuliis, Jonathan P. Ive, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Douglas B. Satzger, Calvin Q. Seid, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang, Rico Zorkendorfer, David Morgenstern and Paul C.L. Chow.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present invention relates generally to device display systems, and more particularly to invisible, light-...

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May 27
Apple patent involves safer batteries

An Apple patent (number 20110123844) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office showing that Apple wants to make the batteries that appear in its products safer. The patent is for a pressure-relief mechanism to improve safety in Lithium-Polymer battery cells.

The disclosed embodiments relate to a battery cell which includes a weakness for relieving pressure. This battery cell includes a jelly roll comprising layers which are wound together, including a cathode with an active coating, a separator and an anode with an active coating. The jelly roll also includes a first conductive tab coupled to the cathode and a second conductive tab coupled to the anode.

The jelly roll is enclosed in a flexible pouch, wherein the first and second conductive tabs extend through seals in the pouch to provide terminals for the battery cell. This pouch includes a weakness which yields when internal pressure in the pouch exceeds a threshold to create a hole which releases the...

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May 27
Apple patents range from video display to user input

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

Patent number 20110122954 involves decoding independent frames of a video display. A module may provide codec-independent services including determining frame display order, frame dependency sets, and queuing the dependency frames in advance so as to enable display of a video. The module enables a video to be played forwards or backwards at a variety of playback speeds from any position within the video. In one implementation, a device communicatively coupled to a plurality of decoders accesses a video that includes a plurality of frames. One or more of the frames are decodable by one or more of the communicatively coupled decoders. The device identifies a frame in the video that is to be displayed, and determines a plurality of dependency frames in the video upon which decoding of the frame to be displayed depends. The device provides an indication that one...

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May 26
No end in sight to Apple's retail success

Despite a tough economy and prices that some still perceive as too high (they're wrong; but that's another story), there seems to be no end in sight to Apple's retail success.

The company's brick-and-mortar retail stores are the world's fastest growing retail business, according to the National Retail Federation (http://macte.ch/Robvf), and their customers are among the most satisfied, according to a study by the Yankee Group (http://www.yankeegroup.com).

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Apple saw a compound annual growth rate of 40.9% in retail sales from 2004 to 2009. The 2009 figures (the latest compiled by the NRF) show that Apple's group revenue was almost US$37 million.

Meanwhile, the Yankee Group says that "Apple’s iconic retail business is already a story worthy of a Harvard Business School...

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May 25
Framework--Browser Exploitation Kit: Macs need not...

There are increasing reports of Mac OS malware and viruses, though, so far, the deluge that some security experts have predicted hasn't arrive. In fact, there's a new report that reinforces the Mac's security.

According to "The Hacker News" (http://macte.ch/evzkV), "Russo" is the creator of the Impassioned Framework--Browser Exploitation Kit, a subscription-based software vulnerability exploit service. This toolkit is designed to be stitched into a website and probe visitor computers for security holes that can be used to surreptitiously install malicious software.

Security weaknesses in the file-sharing website thepiratebay.org have exposed the user names, e-mail and Internet addresses of more than four million Pirate Bay users using this kit. Though Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Opera have all been affected, the effects have only been seen on Windows systems. Mac OS X and Unix systems...

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May 24
Could Apple be planning a dedicated video/still camera...

An Apple patent (number 7,949,250) for an electro-mechanical shutter control has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves the shutter in iOS devices and the iSight ("cellular phones and multi-function or smart phones"), but also hints at a "dedicated" video and still cameras.

The patent is for a method in a camera device having an image sensor and an electro-mechanical shutter mechanism. A constant drive current is applied to the shutter mechanism to close shutter at the end of a first exposure. Then, a decaying drive current is applied to the shutter mechanism during a readout interval for the first exposure. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the inventor.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "As discussed above in the Background, in an effort to obtain lower power consumption, the drive current of a bipolar electro-mechanical shutter mechanism should be pulsed...

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May 24
Amazon.com selling more Kindle Books than print books

Amazon is now selling more Kindle books than print books. It's going to be interesting to see just how successful Apple's iBookStore will be.

Amazon began selling hardcover and paperback books in July 1995. Twelve years later -- in November 2007 -- the company rolled out the Kindle and began selling Kindle books. By July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales, and six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books to become the most popular format on Amazon.com. Today, less than four years after introducing Kindle books, Amazon.com customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books -- hardcover and paperback -- combined.

Since April 1, for every 100 print books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle books. This includes sales of hardcover and paperback books by Amazon where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded. If included that would make the number even higher.

As of March, Apple had sold...

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May 24
Apple patents involves P-chassis, video conferencing,...

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

Patent number 7,948,576, won by Apple, is for a P-chassis arrangement for positioning a display stack. It relates to portable electronic devices and, more particularly, to a chassis which may be used to align a display stack with respect to a bezel.

Methods and apparatus for aligning a display stack with respect to a housing associated with a portable electronic device are disclosed. According to one aspect of the present invention, a chassis arrangement suitable for use in aligning a display stack with respect to a housing includes a first portion, a second portion, and a coupling arrangement.

The first portion is configured to engage the display stack, and the second portion is configured to enable the display stack to be manipulated when the display stack is engaged by the first portion. The coupling arrangement couples the first...

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May 23
Sometimes I don't want to be connected to the...

I love my iPad and iPhone, but not enough to take 'em to bed and wake up with them. But apparently some folks do.

The ability to stay constantly connected to the Internet is making consumers increasingly dependent on the cloud for their daily needs, Ericsson ConsumerLab (http://www.ericsson.com/thecompany/our-insights/consumerlab) research has found. And while the smartphone revolution may have started this trend, the research has shown it is app usage that is likely to make it continue. Apps are actually shaping the way people are using connected devices.

Behavior around apps is also creating a new set of expectations when it comes to connecting consumer electronic devices. Devices must be connected if they are to be useful. For example, 54% of US users of portable storage devices said that they wanted to be able to...

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May 20
Greg's Bite: Bug infestation

By Greg Mills

Some years ago there was a TV series featuring Tom Selleck as Magnum, a private investigator.  One of the ongoing themes was his "little voice." Call it hearing the still, small voice of God, conscience or an instinctive thought process.  

Sometimes lessons of life come to us this way. For me an epiphany of sorts came when I was mentally comparing a real life bug problem with those suffering non-Apple platforms. Malware is not the fault of the user. I regularly pillar Microsoft for all manner of bugs, viruses, trojans and blue screen of death crashes without any real sympathy for the millions of Windows users. Buggy software and insecure software cost the economy as much as the war on terror.  

The other day our 11-year-old daughter mentioned that she had trouble sleeping and was itchy. We figured it was just dry skin or whatever and dismissed it. That night as she went to bed, within minutes she was complaining again. My wife...

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May 20
The iPad will continue to evolve -- and impact other...

The iPad isn't going to replace tradition computers for the most part, but it will continue to evolve as the tablet market grows and influences the development of the personal computer.

The evolution of the tablet is due to the fact that consumers want something more portable than a laptop, more powerful than a netbook, and more comfortable than a smartphone. Last year the iPad set the benchmark for tablets on a global scale by selling more than 15 million units in a single year. This compelled pretty much every other major consumer electronic manufacturers to introduce competing products in the market, though, so far, none have been particularly successful.

Worldwide tablet market sales in 2010 was nearly US$9 billion, and it's anticipated that tablet unit sales will cross 100 million units by 2015, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). In 2010...

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May 19
Apple developing ways to make laptops run cooler

A new Apple patent (20110114295) involving heat removal in compact computing systems shows that the company is working ways to make MacBook Pros, MacBooks and MacBook Airs run cooler.

The invention relates generally to small computing devices such as laptop computers and in particular, providing a heat removal system that is efficient in both space and heat removal. A low profile heat removal system suitable for removing excess heat generated by a component operating in a compact computing environment is disclosed. The inventors are Brett W. Degner, Peteris K. Augenbergs, Frank Liang, Amaury J. Herestyn, Dinesh Mathew and Thomas W. Wilson Jr.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Compact computing devices such as laptop computers, netbook computers, etc. have become ever smaller, lighter and more powerful. One factor contributing to this reduction in size can be attributed to the manufacturer's ability to fabricate various components of these...

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