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Mar 22
Greg's Bite: Sprint, hot iPads, Google's 1...

By Greg Mills

Dear readers, I have been busy writing a textbook on the process of invention using the new Apple App "iBooks Author" and have been spreading my tech articles around with various publishers.  When I read things about Apple that bug me, I sit down a write about it ... therapy of sorts. When that happens, my friends at MacNews and MacTech lend me a soap box to express my views.

Recently Sprint, the ugly duckling of the US cell phone industry,  has come under fire from the market due to Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett cutting Sprint's stock potential due to the high risk of bankruptcy. Moffett figures there is a 50-50 chance the iPhone deal with Apple will actually be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Sprint admitted they were betting the farm on the iPhone deal. The more iPhones they sell, the more financing they need until the new accounts go into the black.

Moffitt recounts the long laundry list of major mistakes Sprint...

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Mar 22
Customers not happy with Internet service, TV service...

If Apple ever works out the details work an a la carte television viewing/subscription service, it can't come too soon for many folks.

A new research report published by Temkin Group (http://www.temkingroup.com) rates the customer experience of 206 large companies across 18 industries. This is the second year that the research group has released these ratings.

The research, which is based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers in January 2012, includes ratings of 11 Internet service providers -- AOL, AT&T, Cablevision, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, EarthLink, MSN, Qwest, Road Runner, and Verizon - and 10 TV service providers: AT&T, Bright House Networks, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network/EchoStar, Optimum (iO)/Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

While the study rated 21 organizations across both the TV and...

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Mar 21
An iBriefcase, perhaps?

Remember the briefcase? Sure you do. Since many folks -- including my buddy, J. Scott Anderson, who came up with the idea for today's topic -- do their work with an iMac/iPad/iPhone combination, I've been wondering what type of carrying accessory would be more appropriate than the old briefcase.

So what about a modern briefcase? An iBriefcase, perhaps? Rather than a focus on a legal folder, it would focus on today's electronics. Possible features could include:

° Solar panels on one side to provide power to internal USB ports for charging iOS devices;

° Security locks;

° A built-in Wi-Fi finder with an indicator on the exterior;

° Space for the inevitable folders/paper that you collect throughout the day;

° Space for a scanner and or printer (mobile versions, of course) that connect via Bluetooth to iOS devices;

° A configurable interior so that I can tailor it to fit a variety of iOS devices;

° USB ports internally for device...

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Mar 20
Apple patent is for tactile feedback

Some folks were disappointed that the new iPad didn't have tactile feedback features. However, a patent (number 8138896) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for tactile feedback in an electronic device shows that this is possibility -- for not just the iPad, but other devices.

An electronic device for providing tactile feedback is provided. The electronic device may provide tactile feedback using any suitable approach, including for example vibration, heat, electrical, visual, or any other type of feedback.

The electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to detecting any particular status of the electronic device, receiving any particular input, or detecting any suitable communication received by the electronic device. For example, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to identifying the current network of the device, the status of a particular electronic device component, or any other electronic device status.

As...

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Mar 20
Future Mac keyboards could have multi color display...

Future Mac keyboards may sport keys that light up with different colors depending on how they're being used, per a new Apple patent at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 8138687 is for a system for displaying multiple colors individually or in combination with one another. The system may emit red, green and blue light from light emitting diodes and may additionally provide white light to brighten the color provided by the red, green and blue light emitting diodes.

The white light source may also be used to increase the power efficiency of the system, thus increasing the lifetime of the system for displaying multiple colors. The white light source may be used to backlight the color provided by the red, green and blue light emitted by the light emitting diodes, or may also be used as an additional light source to the light provided by the red, green and blue light emitting diodes.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Embodiments...

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Mar 20
Apple granted patent for iPad Smart Cover

Apple has been granted a patent (8138869) for the iPad Smart Cover, a front cover for the tablet that snaps into space with magnetic hinges and which "wakes up, stands up and brightens up your iPad."

In the patent, a magnetic attachment mechanism and method is described. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach at least two objects together in a preferred configuration without fasteners and without external intervention. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach an accessory device to an electronic device. The accessory device can be used to augment the functionality of usefulness of the electronic device. The inventors are Andrew Lauder, Matthew D. Rohrbach, Daniel J. Coster, Christopher J. Stringer, Florence W. Ow, Jiang Ai, Jonathan P. Ive, Elvis M. Kibiti, John P. Ternus and Sean D. Lubner.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "An accessory unit includes at least an accessory body and a magnetic assembly...

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Mar 20
Should the next iPhone have a larger display?

There have been rumors that a future iPhone would sport a bigger display. According to a new study by Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) that's what many consumers want.

Existing smartphone owners in the US and UK seek larger mobile phone displays, compared to displays on their current phone, says the research group. The Strategy Analytics Wireless Device Lab report, "Smartphone Owners Want Thin Devices with Larger Displays," found that surveyed smartphone respondents prefer device screens in the 4.0-inch to 4.5-inch range, as long as the device is also thin.

Some differences in size preference exist dependent on the segment. Females are more likely to consider slightly smaller devices than males. Existing Android owners are more likely to seek larger devices than existing Apple iPhone owners.

"Almost 90% of existing smartphone owners surveyed chose a...

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Mar 20
Apple patents are for slide show navigation, data...

Several Apple patents have popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 8140975 involves slide show navigation. Per the patent, a slide show, integrated into an email application, displays images such as those included as an attachment to an email message. The user can view the slide show without exiting the email application. Slide show navigation controls are provided. An index sheet mode can be activated wherein a number of thumbnails are displayed, allowing easy navigation to any image within the slide show. Transition animations can be provided for clarifying operations such as activating and dismissing the index sheet. The inventors are Stephen Lemay, Gregory N. Christie, Marcel van Os and Hans-Werner Neubrand.

Patent number 8140809 is for computer implemented masked representation of data tables. In the computer software field, method and apparatus to obfuscate (mask or...

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Mar 19
This is how we waste our time at work

OfficeTime.net, creator of the popular OfficeTime time and expense tracking software for Mac and Windows computers and iOS devices, recently conducted a survey of working professionals on their Biggest Time Killers.

Fifty-three percent of respondents were business owners, freelancers or executives, while 39% work in professional "white collar" positions. Survey participants were asked to name their top-three time killers. "Email" was named as this year's biggest time killer by 47% of respondents.

Other top five time killers included procrastination (42%), social networking (36%), meetings (34%), and surfing the Internet (30%). Rounding out the Top 10 were non business-related conversations (24%), dealing with computer / technical issues (23%), "bureaucracy / red tape" (19%), travel time / commuting (14%), and playing computer games (10%).

To help counteract these Top Time Killers, OfficeTime.net offers its tips for prioritizing how people spend their time each...

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Mar 16
Walmart supports Ultraviolet; now the ball is in Apple...

In a move that will rev the iTunes-vs-UltraViolet battle, Walmart is offering a service that turns physical DVD/Blu-ray collections across the U.S. into digital movies.

The retailer's in-store disc-to-digital service offers the freedom to watch their DVD/Blu-ray collections from Internet-connected devices, including televisions, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and more -- just as iTunes/iCloud does. The service is powered by VUDU, a video streaming service, and involves the UltraViolet format.

UltraViolet is a cloud-based movie storage solution that the industry is betting (or at least hoping) will convince consumers to buy movies instead of renting them. How? The "digital locker" solution keeps copies of films you've bought on remote servers for viewing any time on various devices.

Walt Disney is the only major film studio not backing UltraViolet. Apple also hasn't announced support for the technology. There's speculation that Apple and Disney are...

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Mar 15
Apple working on ways for enforcing software licenses

When the success of the Mac App Store, Apple is looking for ways to crack down on software piracy. A new patent (number 20120066135) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a method and apparatus for enforcing software licenses.

Some computer software programs use so-called "resource libraries" to provide part of their functionality. There's usually a license fee required to use a resource library. Under current schemes, it's not always possible to charge the license fee to all users of a resource library, says Apple. This problem can be understood by comparing software structures that use resource libraries with basic software structures that don't.

The invention is for a method and apparatus for enforcing software licenses for resource libraries such as an application program interface (API), a toolkit, a framework, a runtime library, a dynamic link library (DLL), an applet (e.g., a Java or ActiveX applet), or any other reusable resource. The...

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Mar 15
Apple eyeing ways to let you momentarily enable a...

A new Apple patent (number 20120062206) shows that Apple is eyeing way to let you momentarily enable an electronic device. It relates generally to power control for an electronic device, and more particularly to a control mechanism providing momentary power and constant power states.

The invention is for a method and apparatus for providing intermittent or interruptible power to an electronic device. The circuit may provide power upon user initiation and interrupt that power in response to a user command, fault state, period of inactivity and so forth.

As one example, interruptible power may be initially provided to activate or "power up" an electronic device and constant power provided after the initial activation. The initial powering up of the device may be facilitated by closing two contacts. The circuit may continue to provide power after the button is released through a monitoring and/or feedback mechanism.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the...

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Mar 15
There'll be no iCar, but more iPhone-equipped...

There have been scattered rumors over the years that Apple would enter the automotive market (the iCar?). Take my word: that's not going to happen. However, you will see an ever-increasing Apple influence in automobiles.

Integration of the smartphone into consumer vehicles will become all but standard on new models, according to a new report from Juniper Research (http://www.juniperresearch.com/), which forecasts that 92 million vehicles will feature technology to integrate the smartphone into the head-unit by 2016. And you can bet the iPhone will be the most integrated smartphone.

New protocols such as MirrorLink from the Connected Car Consortium will help automotive manufacturers like  Mercedes and Toyota follow Ford in introducing technology that allows the smartphone to become a "hub," enabling mobile Internet, smartphone app and content access across the range of vehicles they...

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Mar 15
Apple patents involve tagging on mobile devices

Apple has won two patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office involving tags on mobile devices.

Patent number 20120062758 involves the relative positioning of devices based on captured images of tags and seems to involve the Places feature of iPhoto.

The patent is directed to determining the relative position of several devices by capturing representations of the device environments in which a tag is located. The devices can compare the captured representations to determine a perspective of the tag corresponding to each device. In some cases, a device can determine an absolute position relative to a coordinate system integrated in a tag. Using the positioning information, several devices can receive directions to come together at a particular meeting point. In some cases, several devices can operate an application that requires the interaction of several users of the devices (e.g., multi-player games).

The application can control the...

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Mar 15
Apple patent is for user interface for music sequence...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 2012006068) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for a graphical user interface for music sequence programming.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "If a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) user desires to create a musical pattern such as a complex drum pattern they can utilize MIDI programming and/or arranging audio loops. However, utilizing MIDI programming and/or arranging audio loops requires in-depth expertise in MIDI and audio editing, as well as some musical background including knowledge of complex rhythms to achieve musically pleasing results where all elements of a sequence fit together.

"Therefore users, particularly novice users, can benefit from a method and system for presenting a graphical user interface that allow a user to quickly program a musical sequence without music sequence programming expertise where all elements of the sequence fit together musically. Furthermore, experienced...

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Mar 14
iPad 3 will put more strain on corporate networks

Now that Apple has unveiled the new iPad, concerns continue to mount over the influx of mobile devices converging on the corporate network: namely whether companies have formal bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs that can handle the increased demand for bandwidth.

Brocade (http://www.brocade.com/index.page) -- a company that offers "network solutions that help the world’s leading organizations transition smoothly to a virtualized world where applications and information can reside anywhere" -- has revealed the results of a survey of 120 IT decision-makers, which found that:

° Almost 40% of respondents indicated that employees use mobile devices to access their corporate networks regardless of an official bring-your-own-device policy.

° More than 30% of decision-makers expect traffic on their networks to increase as a direct result of the iPad 3.

° Almost 40%...

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Mar 13
Apple patent is for transferring button status info

An Apple patent (number 8135891) for a method and system for transferring button status info between a media player and accessory has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present invention relates generally to electrical devices and more particularly to electrical devices such as media players that communicate with accessory devices.

"A media player stores media assets, such as audio tracks or photos that can be played or displayed on the media player. One example of a media player is the iPod media player, which is available from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. Often, a media player acquires its media assets from a host computer that serves to enable a user to manage media assets. As an example, the host computer can execute a media management application to manage media assets. One example of a media management application is iTunes, version 6.0, produced by Apple Inc.

"A media...

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Mar 13
Apple granted patent for syncing, transferring digital...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8135865) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer program products, for synchronizing and transferring digital media items.

One or more media items are received, from a network operating environment, at a first device. A first media database on the first device, including metadata associated with the media items, is synchronized with a second media database on a second device.

The one or more media items are moved from the first device to the second device. The one or more media items are copied from the second device to the first device.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The subject matter of this specification relates generally to digital media distribution services. In recent years, electronic online distribution of media items, such as music and movies, have become popular.

"A user can access a media service from a client-side...

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Mar 13
TV viewing on tablets ups monthly viewing times

A new report from Juniper Research (http://www.juniperresearch.com) finds that growing user satisfaction with mobile TV on tablets will push average monthly viewing times to 186 minutes per month in 2014. I expect the new iPad will increase that amount even more.

The report, "Mobile TV: Applications, Devices and Opportunities 2012-2016," finds that as users become more accustomed to viewing content on tablets such as the iPad, and as a wider range of content becomes available on tablets, consumers will increase their viewing times. This increase will be most apparent in North America where there is already significant mobile TV usage, and where internet TV services such as Hulu and Netflix are popular.

Juniper Research says a tablet is the ideal device on which to consume mobile TV content -- their large screen sizes and intuitive user interfaces allow almost everyone to browse for...

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Mar 12
Do you suffer from nomophobia?

Do you suffer from nomophobia, the fear of being without your iPhone? Apparently, lots of folks do.

First identified in 2008, it would appear nomophobia -- the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, is sharply increasing in the UK. A recent survey of 1,000 people in employment, conducted using OnePoll, discovered two-thirds of respondents fear losing or being without their mobile phone.

The study, sponsored by SecurEnvoy (http://www.securenvoy.com) -- which specializes in tokenless, two-factor authentication -- reveals that 41% of people interviewed, in an effort to stay connected, have two phones or more. When asked if they’d be upset if a partner looked at the messages and texts on their phone almost half said that they would.

Digging a little deeper, more women worry about losing their phones than men -- 70% of the women surveyed compared to 61% of the men. Yet it is men that are...

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Mar 09
'Post-PC' isn't a death knell for the...

At Wednesday's media event announcing the iPad HD and the new Apple TV, Apple CEO Tim Cook touted the "post-PC" era. He says that Apple's line of iDevices (iPods, iPhones and iPads) has sold 172 million units and now comprise 76% of its total revenue.

But don't take that as a death knell for the Mac. The computer still accounts for 24% of the revenue -- and 24% of Apple's income is a LOT of moolah.

That said, expect to see the Mac get more iDevice-ish in the months ahead. Apple doubtless plans to lure all those iPhone/iPad lovers to the company's computer platform.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Mar 08
Apple patent involves heat dissipation in a computer...

A new patent (number 20120057297) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple continues to work on ways to make its OS X and iOS devices run cooler. The patent involves heat dissipation in a computer device. More particularly, the invention relates to arrangements for protecting key components of the computing device.

Per the patent, the computing device includes a shock mount assembly that is configured to provide impact absorption to sensitive components such as a display and an optical disk drive. The computing device also includes an enclosureless optical disk drive that is housed by an enclosure and other structures of the computing device.

The computing device further includes a heat transfer system that removes heat from a heat producing element of the computing device. The heat transfer system is configured to thermally couple the heat producing element to a structural member of the computing device so as to sink heat through the structural...

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Mar 08
Apple eyeing a portable media device with workout...

Apple wants you to get in shape, it seems. A patent (number 20120060118) for a portable media device with workout support has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Improved techniques and systems for utilizing a portable electronic device to monitor, process, present and manage data captured by a remote sensor are disclosed. The portable electronic device offers a convenient user interface that can be visual and/or audio based customized to a particular application, user-friendly and/or dynamic. The portable electronic device can pertain to a portable media player and thus also provide media playback.

The invention relates to improved techniques and systems for utilizing a portable electronic device to monitor, process, present and manage data captured by a remote sensor. Apple says it can be implemented in numerous ways, including as a method, system, device, apparatus (including a graphical user interface), or computer readable medium.

As a...

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Mar 08
Some thoughts on Apple's new iPad...

It took me a long time to get onto Apple's online store and order a new iPad, but the trouble was worth it. The new Apple tablet looks to be incredible.

By the way, Apple calls it the new iPad. But what's its official moniker? The iPad 3? The iPad HD? The New iPad? I like "iPad HD," so that's what I'm going with until I see Apple officially calling it something else.

I do wish that Apple offered a 128GB version. Or at least an iPad with an expansion slot. We also didn't get the haptic display technology that some folks were predicting. But I wasn't expecting it. Of course, for the iPad 4, who knows?

The advance buzz on the iPad HD has been great. This is from "CNET": Neither the newest MacBook Air nor new Intel ultraportable laptops can boast that kind of display resolution and none offer a standard model with built-in broadband--and certainly not the LTE variety of 4G, which is considered the most promising. Even on the chip front -- considered a big...

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Mar 08
Apple patent involves situational locational relevant...

An Apple patent (number 20120056716) for a system and method for situational locational relevant speed reference has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to location dependent delivery of information to mobile data processing systems, and more particularly to a system for pushing situational location dependent content to data processing system devices traveling to locations for, or in directions of, that place which delivery content is designated as deliverable.

Situational location dependent information is transmitted from a server data processing system to a receiving data processing system. The server data processing system communicates with the receiving data processing system in a manner by pushing content when appropriate. A candidate delivery event associated with a current positional attribute of the receiving data processing system is recognized and a situational location of the remote data processing system is...

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Mar 08
Apple patents are for camera improvements

Three Apple patents have popped up that show that Apple is working on ways to further improve the cameras on its iOS devices.

Patent number 20120057073 is for scene-aware, automatic exposure control. Per the patent, scene-aware auto-exposure control process stabilizes changes in a camera's auto-exposure settings so as to reduce lighting and color flicker during image capture operations. A metric, referred to as the Modified Adjusted Luminance (MAL) metric, is defined to remain relatively constant as long as the lighting of the scene being captured remains relatively constant.

Thus, scene changes such as an object moving into, out of, or around in a scene do not significantly affect the MAL metric's value and do not, therefore, trigger an exposure adjustment. Once the MAL metric indicates a scene's lighting is stable, the camera's auto-exposure operation may be suppressed. As long as incoming frames indicate a stable lighting condition (based on the...

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Mar 07
What I expect from today's Apple media event

Apple will hold a special media event today at 10 am (Pacific). I (and the rest of the world) will be shocked if Apple doesn't introduce the iPad 3 (or will it be called the iPad HD?). I'm also expecting a new Apple TV (an update of the set-box box, not the rumored "iTV").

So what can we can expect from the iPad 3? Almost certainly a QXGA (1536 x 2048 pixel) display that exceeds the resolution of 1080p content. I'm also predicting a quad-core CPU with graphics performance exponentially faster than that of the iPad 2. Also good for better built-in cameras and support for Siri, Apple's voice-activated "the intelligent personal assistant" that debuted with the iPhone 4S.

I'm less sure whether the iPad 3 will offer support for 4G LTE connectivity; however, I'm going out on a limb and saying "yes, it will." I'm pretty sure Apple has 4G LTE lined up for iPhone 5 later this year; I think the company's tablet will get it now.

What I'm certain the iPad 3 won't...

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Mar 06
Patent shows Apple working on smaller optical disc...

An Apple patent (number 8132197) for mounting objects on a turntable has turned up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates relate generally to computing systems and more particularly to an optical disc drive (ODD) and shows that Apple wants to make such drives smaller in its Macs -- assuming, of course, it does do away with them completely anytime soon.

The embodiments in the patent describe an apparatus and method for a reduced Z stack slot loading optical disc drive (ODD). In one embodiment, an optical disc mounting assembly can be used to chuck an optical disc to a turntable. The optical disc mounting assembly can include a hub spring for spring loading a hub and a clamping mechanism pivotally connected to the hub.

In the described embodiment, in an extended position, the clamp is used to secure the optical disc to the turntable. The clamping mechanism can include a clamp pivotally attached to the hub at a pivot point. In the absence of the optical...

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Mar 06
Apple patents involve media gifts, managing data, more

Apple has been granted several patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Among them are the following:

Patent number 8131645 is for a system and method for processing media gifts -- as in Apple's various app stores. Various techniques are provided for the gifting between multiple electronic devices of media content provided by an online digital media provider. An offer and acceptance of a selected gift file is accomplished between a gifter device and a receiving giftee device using a near-field communication (NFC) connection.

If a connection to the online provider is available, the gifter device may transmit a gift request by which the gifter's account is charged for the gift file. Thereafter, a gift file created using DRM keys associated with the giftee's account may be downloaded to the giftee device. If a network connection is unavailable, the giftee device may transfer a locked gift file and a corresponding gift license to the giftee...

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Mar 06
There's strong growth potential for iMacs,...

I'm still dubious of rumors of a 14-inch MacBook Air for the Asian market (see http://macte.ch/5ybfW), but Apple has the chance to sell a LOT of laptops (as well as iPads and iMacs) in China in the days ahead.

According to the latest data from NPD DisplaySearch (http://www.displaysearch.com), the rapid growth of the China computer market is driven by the mobile computer segment, which includes notebooks, mini-notes, and tablets. Total computer shipments in the second half of reached 53.4 million, up 12.7% from the first half of the year.

China is the largest market for desktops and related displays (monitors or displays in all-in-ones), the number three market for tablet computers, and the number four market for notebooks and mini-notebooks. For the computer market as a whole, China is three, behind North America and EMEA [...

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Mar 05
Americans want to telecommute

I'm a telecommuter -- and let me tell you that it's great. Great for me, my family and the environment (I use little gas). Evidently, lots of folks would love to be telecommuting, as well.

TeamViewer (http://www.teamviewer.com), a provider of remote control and online meetings software, has announced the findings of its survey of over 2,500 American adults aged 18 and older, conducted online by Harris Interactive in January.

The survey, which was drafted based on TeamViewer’s experience in remote access to the workplace, found that most Americans believe that more people want the option to telecommute (62%) with an overwhelming percentage (83%) believing that telecommuting is on the rise. Specifically, the survey found that Americans believe:

° Smartphones and tablets are increasing the use of telecommuting -- 53%;

° Access to telecommuting is increasing -- 49%;

° ...

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Mar 02
AT&T: use of tablets on the rise among small...

More good news for the iPad and the iPhone (especially if a 4G version of the latter is coming, as many predict): when it comes to technology, small businesses continue to ratchet up their use of emerging wireless solutions, including tablet computers, 4G devices, and GPS navigation mobile apps. This according to the just-released "2012 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll" (http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=22312).

More specifically, the national survey of small businesses revealed the following:
General Wireless Technologies:

° Nearly all small businesses (96%) surveyed use wireless technologies in their operations, with almost two-thirds (63%) indicating that they could not survive -- or it would be a major challenge to survive -- without wireless technologies.

° More than four in 10 (43%) small businesses surveyed report all of their...

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Mar 01
The Northern Spy: To Excel or not to Excel

By Rick Sutcliff

The Spy has become a cautious adopter rather than an early one. As the reader of this space well knows, he has been unwilling (and unable) to upgrade from Excel 2004 because of his very heavy dependance on macros, which the 2008 version lacked. This in turn meant that he could not use Lion, as 2004 would not run at all in that environment.

Nor was he willing to convert all those macros to one of the open source competitors, even though VBA is a textbook example of how not to design a language, if for no other reasons than its complete lack of orthogonality and wretched documentation. The 2011 version has been out some time now, with the macro facility restored, and this has to be run on an Intel system, of which he has two (out of nine total). Since his main spreadsheet file is production bookkeeping software, harbours mission critical data, and he's had little time for experimentation, the process of certifying 2011 for this purpose...

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Mar 01
Apple patents tie together digital content...

Two Apple patents at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office show how Apple is working on letting you control, structure and organize your digital content across various devices, iCloud and the iTune Store.

Patent number 201200543679 is for a menuing structure for favorite media content. Technologies for generating a menu of favorite media items for presentation to a user are described. In one aspect, input from a user designating a show as a favorite show is received. In response to receiving the input, show information relating to the favorite show is displayed in a first graphical user interface.

The show information includes a plurality of shortcuts, each shortcut pointing to a corresponding episode of the favorite show, and indicia displayed concurrently with the shortcuts to mark unwatched episodes. In response to receiving the input, a pointer associated with the favorite show is displayed in a second graphical user interface. The pointer...

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Mar 01
Apple patents involve content delivery, content...

Apple has won three patents from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office involving delivery of digital content -- and ways to recommend digital content on Apple online stores.

Patent number 20120054302 involves location context for content delivery. The selection of invitational content to deliver to a user can be influenced by the user's current location. Periodically, the content delivery system prioritizes the invitational content that is eligible for delivery to the user based on information about the user and the user's interactions with items of invitational content. Upon resolving a location associated with the user's device, the content delivery system re-prioritizes the invitational content.

The re-prioritization can be based on the user's assignment to spatial-temporal segments or the user's proximity to predefined landmarks. An item is then selected from the re-prioritized invitational content and delivered to the user. The inventors are...

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Mar 01
Apple eyes ways to control device characteristics on...

An Apple patent (number 20120050307) for an ambient light sensing technique has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and shows that Apple is working on ways to control characteristics of electronic devices -- such as laptops and iPhones-- based on ambient light levels.

In one embodiment, the method includes receiving light at an ambient light sensor of a device and measuring components, such as color components, of the visible light. The component levels may be weighted differently by factors that vary based on the intensity of the light received by the ambient light sensor.

Also, the brightness level of a light source in the device or color output of the device may be controlled based on the weighted component levels. Additional methods, systems, and devices relating to control of an electronic device based on sensed ambient light are also disclosed. Peter H. Mahowald and Ulrich T. Barnhoefer are the inventors.

Here's Apple's background and...

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Mar 01
Apple granted patent for iMovie on iOS devices

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20120050012) for adaptive media content scrubbing on a remote device -- in other words, iMovie for iOS devices. The patent also hints at upcoming features of the software.

Systems and techniques are disclosed for controlling, from a mobile device, media content stored on the mobile device to a media client for presentation on a display device. Data can be provided from the mobile device to the media client for identifying the location of the media content and a playback time. Based on the data, the media client can obtain a portion of the media content associated with the playback time. Also, playback of the media content on the display device can be controlled by a user of the mobile device. The inventors are Thomas Matthieu Alsina, Bob Bradley, Alan Cannistraro, Scott Forstall, Amandeep Jawa, Nicholas V. King, Lucas Newman, Daniel Trent Preston, Jai Chulani and Jeffrey Robbin.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the...

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Mar 01
Less than 1-in-10 consumers interested in budget...

The latest poll results from Broadbandgenie.co.uk -- an independent broadband, mobile broadband and smartphone comparison website -- have revealed that just 8% of respondents intend to "definitely" buy a budget tablet in 2012. I would image most folks are saving their money for the iPad 3, which I suspect will go on sale in March.

The poll asked, 'Will you buy a tablet or iPad in 2012?' Of more than 1,000 respondents, more than half either weren't interested at all or already owned a tablet. Some 16.5% answered "maybe," while 17.5% intended to buy a top end tablet. Again, think iPad 3.

The result will be seen as another blow for makers of low-end Android tablets and cheaper models from other brands -- particularly BlackBerry, which has just released an upgrade for its heavily discounted PlayBook tablet.

"While Apple is going great guns at the top-end with its iPads, very little is happening of interest at the budget price point as yet," Broadband Genie editor...

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Feb 29
Wireless HD video the next frontier in CE connectivity

Rumors are swirling that a new Apple TV (the set-top box, not an Apple-branded HDTV) will roll out next month along with the iPad 3. I think those rumors are correct and that the revved Apple TV will finally offer 1080p high definition video.

And it would be just in time. Wireless high-definition (HD) video technologies are the next frontier in consumer electronic (CE) connectivity, streaming uncompressed 1080p high-definition video across the living room. The category is comprised of three technologies: wireless home digital interface (WHDI), WirelessHD, and Wireless Gigabit (WiGig).

The earliest applications for wireless HD video technologies were centered around the CE [consumer electronics] cluster and were used primarily as HDMI cable replacement. Today it has evolved into the computer cluster connecting mobile computers to DTVs. Significant future use will likely be for connecting mobile devices to digital televisions (DTVs). New NPD In-Stat (...

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Feb 28
Apple patent is for integrated speaker assembly

Among several Apple patents granted today by the U.S Patent & Trademark Office one of the most interesting is for an integrated speaker assembly for a personal media device. It involves an external multi-speaker system. Though the patent was filed in 2007, Apple has released no such system -- at least not yet.

Systems and methods are provided for media devices including a housing, a frame disposed adjacent to the housing, and an acoustic source that is integrated with the frame for emitting sound from the media device. The inventors are Richard Hung Minh Dinh, Tang Yew Tan and Derek Boyd Barrentine.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "This invention relates to personal media devices and, more particularly, to integrated speaker assemblies for personal media devices.

"The proliferation of compact portable personal media devices (e.g., portable MP3 players, portable video players, and media capable cellular telephones) has created a need...

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Feb 28
Internet TV growing faster than you think

The potential for the rumored Apple-branded HDTV (the "iTV") and a television-enabled iMac seems to be ripe. A new report from the Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) says Internet television is growing faster than most folks realize.

Internet television is a new form of television service that is delivered over the internet to TV sets and other devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets.
By 2016, there will be over 480 million "smart TVs" deployed across the globe, all of which connected to the Internet, according to Research and Markets. And that's not counting the around 100 million more that will be connected by other devices, such as games consoles, Blu-ray players and dedicated boxes.

It will have taken the cable, satellite and IPTV (Telco) TV industries over 60 years to build in excess of 500 major broadcast television networks that can...

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Feb 27
How to fight AT&T data-throttling: Small-Claims...

By Bradley Sniderman

Last week a Southern California judge awarded US$850 to an iPhone user because AT&T Inc. reduced his download speeds in an attempt to manage usage on its network. Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel found in favor of Matt Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in Simi Valley. Spaccarelli filed a small claims case against AT&T last month, arguing the communications giant unfairly slows speeds on his iPhone 4's unlimited data plan.

This article is intended to provide information on how to file a small claims lawsuit. It is NOT intended to offer any legal advice -- and none is offered. If you would like more details on small claims or other legal issues, please consult with an attorney.

If you own a smart phone, and many of us do, you probably enjoy the features that involve data streaming. From surfing the web and texting to video streaming, the applications for data streaming are virtually endless. Some users have data plans...

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Feb 27
'Mass' tablet market on the horizon

Stand back. There's no telling how big this iPad thing can get. A new report from Juniper Research (http://www.juniperresearch.com) finds that annual revenues from consumer mobile applications will approach US$52 billion by 2016 as consumer smartphone adoption accelerates in tandem with the emergence of a mass tablet market.

While smartphones will continue to comprise the majority of app revenues over the forecast period, the report noted that tablets -- which currently account for just 7% of global app revenues -- would comprise 25% of such revenues by 2016. And the iPad is far and away the top dog in the tablet market.

Juniper's report observed that the app store model’s pre-eminence faced the prospect of erosion in the longer term as HTML5 -- a markup language which reduces end-user dependence on plug-in app technologies -- facilitates the transition to a browser-based environment....

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Feb 24
Survey: Americans want to telecommute

I'm a telecommuter -- and let me tell you that it's great. Great for me, my family and the environment (I use little gas). Evidently, lots of folks would love to be telecommuting, as well.

TeamViewer (http://www.teamviewer.com), a provider of remote control and online meetings software, has announced the findings of its survey of over 2,500 American adults aged 18 and older, conducted online by Harris Interactive in January.

The survey, which was drafted based on TeamViewer’s experience in remote access to the workplace, found that most Americans believe that more people want the option to telecommute (62%) with an overwhelming percentage (83%) believing that telecommuting is on the rise. Specifically, the survey found that Americans believe:

° Smartphones and tablets are increasing the use of telecommuting -- 53%;

° Access to telecommuting is increasing -- 49%;

° ...

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Feb 24
Is the future of cloud-based systems cloudy or bright?

I think cloud computing has a great deal of potential. However, I'm not ready to trust all -- or even most -- of my data to the "cloud."

However, members of IEEE (http://www.ieee.org) -- a technical professional association -- are working to deliver on the promise of cloud computing by helping enterprises of all sizes address the barriers that can potentially reduce the adoption rates of this game-changing technology.

IEEE says prospective benefits of cloud-based systems are hard to ignore: significant cost reductions in the operations and maintenance of the IT infrastructure; extreme scalability and accessibility; fewer concerns about overloading servers or lack of storage space; and rapid deployment. Of course, challenges and perceived risks prevail, with lingering concerns about cloud security and privacy, performance unpredictability, and if the ultimate return on investment makes cloud adoption a fit...

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Feb 23
Apple eyeing ways to make keyboards thinner

An Apple patent (number 20120043191) for a single support keyboard mechanism at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is working on new, thinner keyboard for its portable Macs -- and perhaps desktop Macs, as well.

A keyboard mechanism for a low-travel keyboard and methods of fabrication are described. The low-travel keyboard is suitable for a thin-profile computing device, such as a laptop computer, netbook computer, desktop computer, etc. The keyboard includes a key cap that can be formed of a variety of materials in the form of a flat slab. The key cap is attached to one end of a support lever that supports it from underneath. In one embodiment, the support lever is formed of a rigid material and is pivotally coupled with a substrate on the other end.

In another embodiment, the support lever is formed of a flexible material and is fixedly attached to the substrate on the other end. The portion of the support lever that is attached to the...

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Feb 23
Apple working on ways to improve its microphones

According to patent number 20120046780, Apple is working on ways to improve the microphones in its various devices. The invention involves a composite microphone boot has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to consumer electronic devices and more particularly, methods and apparatus for providing microphone capabilities for consumer electronic devices.

A microphone assembly for an electronic device is described. The microphone assembly can include a microphone, a microphone boot and a printed circuit board. The microphone boot can be a composite microphone boot that is formed from multiple materials. A hardness of the each of the materials used in the microphone boot can be selected to improve sealing integrity and reduce shock transmission. In one embodiment, the composite microphone boot can be formed using a double-shot injection molding process. The inventors are Fletcher R. Rothkopf, Phillip M. Hobson, Adam Mittleman and Anna-Katrina Shedlesky...

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Feb 23
Apple patent is for a location-based profile on a...

An Apple patent (number 20120046040) for a location-based profile has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to location-based data processing on a mobile device.

Methods, program products, and systems implementing location-based profiles are disclosed. A location-determination subsystem can determine a location of a mobile device. A monitoring subsystem of the mobile device can be configured, using a profile (e.g., default configuration profile), to monitor states of a wireless connection between the mobile device and a communications network. When the monitoring subsystem detects an interruption of the wireless connection, a virtual geofence can be constructed around the location of the mobile device when the interruption occurred.

The geofence can indicate a boundary of an enclosed geographic area. The geofence can be associated with a diagnostics profile for controlling the collection of diagnostic data the mobile device. The...

| Read more »
Feb 23
Apple to overhaul iTunes Store? What about iTunes...

"9to5Mac" (http://macte.ch/dXs6P) says Apple is preparing its first iTunes Store redesign in nearly three years. The new design will purportedly be simpler and more user-friendly than the current design.

Apple is working on ways to enhance the speed and efficiency of finding new content, such as songs, videos, and applications, according to "9to5Mac." iTunes itself could also use some overhauling. Perhaps Apple will offer a new version that reflects the OS X counterparts in iOS, which do make more sense.

Last year MobileTrax (http://www.mobiletrax.com) analyst Gerry Purdy wrote an open letter to new Apple CEO Tim Cook, recommending that Apple change the name of iTunes to iMedia since they sell TV shows, movies and more, not only music.

That makes sense. But I think an even better idea would be to break iTunes into...

| Read more »
Feb 22
How about an Aereo chip in an iMac?

In my never-ending quest to come up with new features for the 27-inch iMac -- and you're welcome, Tim Cook -- which is one of my two favorite Macs, I had this thought: what about an Aereo chip in iMac?

According to "The New York Times" (http://macte.ch/UMOWa) an online television company called Aereo (https://aereo.com) has come up with a way to stream local television stations to paying subscribers on the Internet, "potentially forming a new cord-cutting threat for cable and satellite distributors." The company recently unveiled the service, and it will go live in New York City only (for now) in March for US$12 per month.

Aereo will stream all programming of the major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) and will include an Internet-powered digital video recorder. No cable or satellite channels are offered. However, the service will only work as long...

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