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Dec 09
Apple patents involve Lion's Launchpad, further...

Two Apple patents (20100313156 and 20100313165) regarding an user interface for multiple regions have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. They involve the Launchpad feature in the upcoming Mac OS X Lion -- and perhaps future tweaks to the Expose feature in Mac OS X.

Launchpad is designed to make it easier than ever to find and launch any app. Similar to the Home screen on iPad, you can see all the apps on your Mac displayed just by clicking the Launchpad icon in the dock. Apps can be organized in any order or grouped into folders, and you can swipe through multiple pages of apps to find the one you want.

User interfaces for multiple display regions are described. One embodiment provides an array of non-overlapping windows that are created from a set of overlapping windows, and a user can select one of the non-overlapping windows to obtain an enlarged view of that selected window while keeping the other windows in their non-overlapping state.

In...

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Dec 09
Apple looking to improve interaction between iOS...

Two new Apple patents (number 20100312932 and 20100312931) at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is working to make it easier to connect iOS devices to peripherals. The patents relate to connector interfaces and more particularly to a connector interface system that's utilized in conjunction with media players and their accessories.

The patent are for an interface and protocol to allow a media player to communicate with external accessories over a transport link. The protocol includes a core protocol functionality and a number of accessory lingoes. Examples of accessory lingoes include a microphone lingo, a simple remote lingo, a display remote lingo, an RF transmitter lingo, and an extended interface lingo.

The inventors on both patents are Emily C. Schubert, Wang Chun Leung, Gregory T. Lydon, Scott Krueger, Paul Holden, John Archibald, Lawrence G. Bolton, Donald J. Novotney, John B. Filson and David Tupman.

A media player stores media...

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Dec 09
Apple may beef up speech recognition on future iPhones

Apple is considering beefing up contextual voice commands and speech recognition on future iPhones. A patent (number 20100312547) at the US Patent & Trademark Office is for contextual voice commands and involves speech recognition.

Among other things, techniques and systems are disclosed for implementing contextual voice commands. On a device, a data item in a first context is displayed. On the device, a physical input selecting the displayed data item in the first context is received. On the device, a voice input that relates the selected data item to an operation in a second context is received. The operation is performed on the selected data item in the second context. The inventors are Marcel Van Os, Gregory Novick and Scott Herz.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Speech recognition can be used to convert spoken words to machine-readable input, such as key presses, using the binary code for a string of character codes. Typical speech...

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Dec 09
Apple: don't even think of abusing that device

Apple plans on making sure you pay if you abuse your Apple product -- then want a refund. A new patent (number 20100312920) at the US Patent & Trademark Office is for a consumer abuse detection system and method.

Embodiments disclosed in the patent provide systems, devices, and methods for detecting the occurrence of consumer abuse events in electronic devices. In one embodiment, a system includes one or more sensors coupled to an abuse detection sub-system for detecting the occurrence of an abuse event, wherein upon detecting an abuse event, a record of the abuse event is stored by the abuse detection sub-system.

The system further provides a communication interface configured to provide a first mode of diagnostic communication and a second mode of non-diagnostic communication through a common input/output port. When using a diagnostic device, the diagnostic mode of communication may be enabled, thus allowing the diagnostic device to access consumer abuse event...

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Dec 09
Apple patents range from geography detection to...

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

Patent number 20100312519 is for automatically identifying geographic direction. Automatically identifying a geographic direction (e.g., a heading relative to true north) is disclosed. Responsive to a correction trigger event, geographic position data that identifies a geographic position of the device can be obtained. A magnetic declination based on the geographic position data can be obtained. A magnetic heading of the device can be obtained. A geographic direction based on the magnetic heading and the magnetic declination can be identified without user intervention. The inventors are Ronald Keryuan Huang and Patrick Piemonte.

Patent number 20100312510 involves dynamic compass calibration in a portable device. Per the patent, the magnitude of a sensed, raw magnetic field in a portable device is monitored over a given time...

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Dec 09
Time for a free MobileMe

It's time for Apple to offer its MobileMe suite of Internet services for free -- and, along the way, make the experience of using it better.

In fact, offering a free version of MobileMe -- which is now $99 per year -- may be part of what's coming when Apple opens its ginormous new data center in North Carolina. Apple excels in many ways, but have a way to go to match other cloud services.

I'm not sure how many folks subscribe to MobileMe, but I doubt that Apple's making a bundle off the Internet suite. But offering it for free would be a nice enticement in luring more users to the Mac experience. After all, one big advantage is that you can use MobileMe to automatically syncs your email, contacts, and calendars over the air across all your devices. Heck, if Apple made it possible to sync iWork docs in the same way, that would also be a boon for iWork sales on the Mac OS X and iOS platforms.

There's no evidence that MobileMe has been a big success. If Apple made...

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Dec 09
Greg's bite: the evolving face of computing

By Greg Mills
I found an interesting illustration on an Australian news web site that says a lot. While the story was about Chrome, the unreleased beta of the new web-based Google OS, it foreshadows a three-way platform race that Microsoft has baldly bungled. Apple has eaten away at the numbers and Chrome threatens to do more of the the same, as Microsoft repeatedly strikes out when trying to expand beyond the Windows PC OS monopoly.  

When you have absolute monopoly numbers -- north of 90% in computers worldwide -- that run your OS by default, it is hard work to screw up so badly competitors beat you at every turn.   Steve Ballmer has been able to do it. Ballmer, as the face of Microsoft, has certainly been a distraction at a minimum -- and has overseen a disaster, financially. Microsoft has lost half its market cap since January 2000 when Bill Gates retired to spend his money. Had Ballmer also hung up his "gone fishing" sign in 2000, would things...

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Dec 08
Greg's bite: WiKileaks, Googlization, Android...

By Greg Mills

WiKileaks. Sometimes I go awhile between hearing from readers, then hit a nerve, and get email either agreeing or disagreeing with what I have written. As could be anticipated, WiKileaks got some reader feedback. It was thoughtful and well written, but I am still of the opinion that for government to work it needs some ability to have a dialogue with various points of view not anticipating ideas or comments floated to be the fodder of headlines in the newspapers of the world.

The notion of the right of the people to know everything is wrong, in my opinion. Our national security requires the ability of the government to maintain secrets. The asses at WiKileaks are not qualified to know what unanticipated consequences might be the result of the massive amount of information leaked. Actually, the issues are not so much liberal vs conservative but anarchy vs cohesive government. Do I think the government can be fully trusted...

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Dec 08
Should the iPad count as a mobile computer? Yes!

Recently, "ZDNet" asked, "Should the iPad count as a mobile PC? And I say "certainly."

After all, DisplaySearch rightfully put the Apple tablet in the computerC category with its Monday release of the "Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report "(http://www.displaysearch.com/cps/rde/xchg/displaysearch/hs.xsl/101206_ip...). Do so and Apple is the number one personal computer maker in the U.S. and number three globally.

“A lack of competitive tablet PC products from other brands continues to drive Apple’s market share in the mobile PC segment," says Chris Connery, vice president of Large Format Displays at DisplaySearch.

Why shouldn't the iPad be...

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Dec 07
Apple looks at ways to improve air cooling on Macs

Apple is eyeing ways to improve air cooling techniques for its computers, including the Mac Pro. An Apple patent (number 7849302) for an apparatus for air cooling has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

An apparatus for air-cooling an electronic device is disclosed in the patent. A contoured panel channels a flow of air within the housing of an electronic device so as to channel the flow of air more directly over heat producing elements such as the microprocessor and peripheral cards. A sensor can also be employed to determine whether the panel is present and properly placed. If not, measures can be taken to reduce the heat generated by the heat producing elements. For example, a warning can be displayed, or the microprocessor can be instructed to enter sleep mode. Steven Holmes and Douglas L. Heirich are the inventors.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "As electronic devices increase in processing power and speed, their processors...

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Dec 07
Apple granted patents for iPod dock, MacBook Air, more

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office, including design patents for the iPad dock, MacBook Air and multi-touch technology. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7848527 is for dynamic power management in a portable media delivery system. Per the patent, a consumer electronic product (e.g., a portable media player ported to a media delivery accessory) is powered by a limited capacity DC power source (such as a battery or mini-fuel cell). The consumer electronic product limits the maximum allowable sound pressure level (SPL) that can be produced by the speakers. In one embodiment, the maximum allowable SPL is based upon an amount of stored energy available in the limited capacity DC power source. The inventors are Jesse L. Dorogusker, Donald J. Novotney, Scott Krueger, Robert Michelet and Jeffrey Allan Hammerstrom.

Patent number 7849141 involves training a computer storage system for...

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Dec 07
Expect to see Sandy Bridge Macs by spring

I'll be very surprised if we don't see a Sandy Bridge-based Mac by spring. I suspect it will be iMac -- with MacBook Pro and Mac Pro versions to follow. The question is: what new features will Apple introduce with the processor, which offers some intriguing possibilities?

Intel purportedly plans to introduced its next-generation processors during a Jan. 5 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show. According to an invitation sent to the press, Intel PC Client Group general manager Mooly Eden will show off the new processors, which will include the "world's fastest processor." The new processors are expected to replace the Nehalem line of chips currently used in Apple's Core i5 and i7-equipped iMacs and MacBook Pros. Six and eight-core chips will also follow later in 2011.

Desktop chips will reported range from dual 2.5GHz Core i3s to quad 3.4GHz Core i7s. Regular notebook should be able to get dual 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz Core i5 and i7 chips in the first batch of processors,...

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Dec 07
Greg's bite: WiKiLeaks threaten us all

By Greg Mills

The recent leak of a considerable cache of secret diplomatic cables underlines a significant issue that will have a profound effect upon us all.

To add insult to injury, the criminal mastermind behind all this has threatened to unleash even more secret information that is already downloaded but sealed with 256-bit encryption. That massive file only needs a key posted on the internet for thousands of copies of this new, and according to him, damaging information to also be released.  

The Googlistic notion that everything written ought to be posted on line certainly has limits even in a democratic society. There are certainly embarrassing things every government does that might need to see the light of day but the ass behind Wikileaks is not qualified to make that determination. The liberal slant that makes it wrong to go to war over any justification leads to movements like Hitler led in WW2. As the English philosopher Edmund...

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Dec 06
Greg's bite: Motorola's Android Droid 2...

By Greg Mills

A Texas man claims his Android phone exploded in his ear. The guy claims he was just talking on the phone -- and boom! Some smart phone models are duds, and some brands bomb out in the market place, but this is a first.   

Incredibly, the phone still works, which leads to the question what part blew up? Normally, when an electronic device explodes, it is a battery that overheats due to a dead short and the gasses expand the metal case of the battery until it explodes or just oozes lithium paste out. The explosion of an electronic device is not the sort of giant fire bomb where a car is thrown up into the air with a flash of billowing flame and smoke, like you see on TV, but you don't want to have it happen in your ear. Aron Embry of Cedar Hill, Texas. says there was a loud pop on his Android phone, and he discovered later his ear was bleeding. He went to the ER and got patched up.  Motorola is investigating, but hadn't...

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Dec 06
Study: US pay-TV subscribers want universal access

TelcoTV 2010, a video conference and expo focused on the US service provider market, has published a study titled "Telco TV Customers: How Keen on Multiscreen?," which explores US pay-TV subscribers' attitudes and usage of mobile and online video, and revealed important conclusions about multiplatform TV services. And it makes you wonder if there aren't some great opportunities for the Apple TV and Apple's upcoming data center in North Carolina.

"The survey found that a number of pay-TV subscribers were interested in accessing TV shows from anywhere in the world via a computer or mobile device, even if they had to pay a monthly fee of $10 per month for this capability," says TelecoTV in the study. "The survey also found that out-of-home access to TV services was an important criterion for some subscribers when selecting their pay-TV provider."

The annual study of US pay-TV subscribers was conducted by Heavy Reading (...

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Dec 03
Companies that Apple might buy (but probably won'...

Apple has over $50 billion in cash. CEO Steve Jobs has said the dough is available should Apple decide to make any "strategic purchases." So what companies might be a good "strategy purpose" for our favorite tech company? Yesterday we looked at Netflix; today we'll consider AMD.

There are some good reasons why Apple might consider scooping up AMD. Analyst Rob Enderle says Apple could want the company for its Fusion technology, which will be the first blended high performance GPU/CPU part. Enderle notes that Jobs already values the graphics side of his platform more than the number crunching side and this would give him exclusive access to the only blended part in the market -- and one that particularly favors Apple’s graphics intensive platforms.

"While Apple has never been a fan of AMD, they actually liked and used ATI a great deal and the idea of getting out from under Intel is likely appealing to them as well," says Enderle. "Apple likes its suppliers to jump to...

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Dec 03
Companies that Apple might buy (but probably won'...

Apple has over $50 billion in cash. CEO Steve Jobs has said the dough is available should Apple decide to make any "strategic purchases." So what companies might be a good "strategy purpose" for our favorite tech company? Yesterday we looked at Netflix; today we'll consider AMD.

There are some good reasons why Apple might consider scooping up AMD. Analyst Rob Enderle says Apple could want the company for its Fusion technology, which will be the first blended high performance GPU/CPU part. Enderle notes that Jobs already values the graphics side of his platform more than the number crunching side and this would give him exclusive access to the only blended part in the market -- and one that particularly favors Apple’s graphics intensive platforms.

"While Apple has never been a fan of AMD, they actually liked and used ATI a great deal and the idea of getting out from under Intel is likely appealing to them as well," says Enderle. "Apple likes its suppliers to jump to...

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Dec 02
Apple working on phyics-based graphic user interface

Future Apple operating systems may be even more "animated," based on some work Apple is doing. An Apple patent (number 20100306680) for a framework for designing a physics-based graphic user interface has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A graphics development framework for designing physics-based graphical user interfaces is described. According to one embodiment, visually linkable patches are displayed in a first window of a graphics development framework, where the patches represent a graphics composition which when rendered, animate a physical movement of a graphics object of the physics-based graphical user interface.

A feedback patch is displayed to visually provide a feedback from an output of the composition to an input of the composition, such that a subsequent physical movement of the graphics object is determined based on a previous physical movement of the graphics object, without requiring a user to program source code of the displayed...

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Dec 02
Future Mac keyboards may be illuminated, more colorful

Apple is eyeing ways to make its Mac keyboards more colorful and more informative. A company patent (number 20100306683) for user interface behaviors for an input device with individually controlled illuminated input elements has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Methods and apparatuses are disclosed that provide user interface behaviors for input devices with individually controlled illuminated input elements. Some embodiments may include receiving a request for input device lighting from a program, determining illumination information for light sources coupled to input elements of an input device based on the request, and dynamically controlling illumination of the light sources based on the illumination information.

The illumination information may include brightness, color, and/or duration. The input device may constitute a keyboard with individually controlled illuminated keys. In some embodiments, the illumination may present information...

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Dec 02
Apple wants you to iCruise with your iOS device

Apple wants you to iCruise with your iOS device. A patent (number 20100306075) for systems and methods for accessing cruise services using a portable device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is directed to systems and methods for accessing cruise services using a single, integrated application available to a portable electronic device. Through the integrated application, a user can access and control cruise services throughout all aspects of the cruise experience, including before booking a cruise, before boarding a cruise, while on the cruise ship, when a cruise ship is docked at a port, and after the cruise has finished.

In some embodiments, the integrated application can provide the user with notifications of available cruise activities. For example, unsold cruise activities for cruise activities that can be purchased can be identified. The user can then be provided with a notification of the unsold cruise activity, provided with an...

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Dec 02
Greg's bite: iPad Folder Bug, NetFlix, iPhone,...

By Greg Mills

iOS 4.2.1 folder bugApple is working on recreating the iOS 4.2.1 disappearing folder bug. The bug has been reported to me by six readers, so far.  

The steps that may or may not result in the folders disappearing are.  

° Load the new iPad iOS 4.2.1 on to your iPad.

° Sort apps into folders  

° Download app updates to some apps in folders over Wi-Fi before syncing iPad with iTunes.  

° All Folders disappear and apps are spread out randomly.  

I was contacted yesterday by Apple and can thus confirm they are now aware of the problem and hopefully will fix it with the iPad iOS release scheduled for mid-December. Apple does a great job of fixing issues like this that aren't dangerous but a nuisance. 

NetFlix has grown to the point it consumes 15% to 20% of the Internet bandwidth in many locations in the US. Those of us with unlimited data plans may find caps put on...

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Dec 02
Apple patent is for magnetic connector with optical...

Apple may revamp -- or perhaps replace -- its MagSafe connector for its laptop line. An Apple patent (number 7841776) for a magnetic connector with optical signal path has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Circuits, apparatus, and methods that provide a connector system that can supply both power and data to a mobile computing or other type of device using a single connection. Further examples also provide a power and data adapter that can provide power and data to a mobile computing device using a single cable. Further examples provide an easy disengagement when a cable connected to the connector is pulled. One such example provides a magnetic connector that uncouples without binding when its cord is pulled. Another example prevents power from being provided at a connector insert until the connector insert is placed in a connector receptacle. The inventors of the patent are John C. Difonzo, Chris Ligtenberg and Michael Culbert.

Here's Apple's...

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Dec 02
Apple patents range from image selection to card...

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

Patent number 20100306684 is for a graphical representation of out-of-bound image selection. The patent is directed to differentiating between portions of a selection area that are within the boundary of displayed information and portions of the selection area that are beyond the boundary of the displayed information. In some embodiments, the graphical representation of the selection area can change based on the position of the selection area relative to the boundary of the displayed information.

In particular, the representation of portions or regions of the selection area that are within the boundary of the displayed information can be different than the representation of the portions or regions of the selection area that extend beyond the boundary of the displayed information. For example, the electronic device can provide different fills...

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Dec 02
Companies that Apple might buy (but probably won'...

Apple has over $50 billion in cash. CEO Steve Jobs has said the dough is available should Apple decide to make any "strategic purchases." So what companies might be a good "strategy purpose" for our favorite tech company?

My "MacNews/MacTech" writing compadre, Greg Mills, thinks Apple will buy Netflix. There are some good reasons why it should. Apple could beef up its presence in the television/entertainment area. And Netflix is a strong company -- and getting stronger.

An analyst with Gleacher & Company, says (http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewarticle/articleid/4613650) the transaction would make sense. "You know, Apple wants to be the first company to seamlessly integrate the home office and the living room," he says. "What's limiting them now is basically content and better broadband into the home....

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Dec 01
I'm dubious about a 7-inch iPad -- or one with a...

A "Digitimes" report (http://www.digitimes.com) -- quoting the Chinese-language "Economy Daily News" -- says the next rev of the iPad will add five "distinct new features." However, I'm dubious about at least one of them, as I am about reports of a 7-inch model.

"Digitimes" says the five new features include "video phone, better mobility, USB port, new display technology and 3-axis gyroscopes." The gyroscope, video phone (actually, a camera for use with Apple's FaceTime technology) are pretty much givens. The "better mobility" refers to an even thinner and smaller iPad, something that's also likely if reports -- based on discovered patents -- that Apple is considering an iPad made of a fiber-in-matrix material such as CFRP prove true.

However, I don't think we'll see a smaller iPad. Why? Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said that the 9.7-inch display on the current iPad is the optimum size for features...

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Dec 01
Greg's bite: Microsoft Mobile Vista 7 crashes and...

By Greg Mills

The big returns are really coming in regarding Microsoft's Mobile Vista 7.  I mean big numbers of phones physically being returned by customers to the cell companies who sold them.  

Big as in a very large sales disappointment for both cell phone companies around the world and cell phone hardware manufacturing partners who were willing to give the Kin crew one more chance. Numbers like 2% of all new phone sales being the new Microsoft phones isn't good news for Redmond.  

The street analysts who spelled out the high expectations for Microsoft's new, but "too-late-to-the-party, unsupported by developers, last ditch stand" smart phone OS platform have to be factoring in a further decline in Microsoft stock. Hit one out of the ball park they did not.

Mobile Vista 7 phones just working and having some novel graphics was not enough to wow either the stock market, developers or consumers who have to consider the strong...

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Nov 30
The iPad at seven months in the wild -- what...

By Terry Jarrell
Apple Consultants Network

Thinking back to this past April, it's hard to believe iPad has only been with us a little over 7 months. The world has changed considerably since then with the explosion of the Apple App Store, and so many others scurrying to release their take on the most successful electronics device in history.

The real story is in iPad users themselves and how there has been an awakening, in a major way, to so many professional industries that had previously been stuck in older, inefficient ways of doing business.

It doesn't take a wild imagination to imagine medical professionals loving iPad. The MacPractice app for iPhone was released a couple years ago but now, the iPad app really brings this functionality home. Med pros can access their patient data literally from anywhere they have an Internet connection, safely and securely. The larger screen is perfect for viewing photos and interact with other...

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Nov 30
Apple patents range from virtual keyboards to media...

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

Patent number 7844914 involves activating virtual keys of a touch-screen virtual keyboard. A touch location is determined based on location data pertaining to touch input on the touch screen, wherein the touch input is intended to activate one of the plurality of virtual keys. Each of the plurality of virtual keys has a set of at least one key location corresponding to it. For each of the virtual keys, a parameter (such as physical distance) is determined for that virtual key that relates the touch location and the set of at least one key location corresponding to that virtual key. The determined parameters are processed to determine one of the virtual keys. For example, the determined one virtual key may be the virtual key with a key location (or more than one key location, on average) being closest to the touch location. A signal is generated...

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Nov 30
Apple patent involves handling special windows in a...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7844902) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for an apparatus and method for handling special windows in a display. It could foreshadow some changes in upcoming versions of Mac OS X.

The apparatus and method for handling special windows in a display comprises a window manager in an operating system that is called by application programs to create special windows. The window manager embeds static key signals including encoded special window information, such as the coordinates of a window area to be specially processed, into a video RAM. An existing video interface scans the video RAM and transmits display information, including the key signals, to the display.

The present invention further comprises a window decoder in the display, that detects the key signals, extracts the encoded special window information, and controls display circuitry performing the desired special processing. The key signal encoding scheme does not...

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Nov 30
Apple wins patent for 3D display system

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7843449) for a three-dimensional display system. Don't expect Macs with 3D displays anytime soon, but they may be coming -- and without the need for special glasses, if Apple has its way. After all, Intel's Sandy Bridge processor will debut in January and will certainly arrive in Macs next year. And the processor offers native support for 3D stereoscopic video playback (as well as Blu-ray and USB 3.0).

The patent -- invented by Christoph H. Krah -- involves a method of displaying three-dimensional images providing a projection screen having a spatial filter defining a predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function. It also: determines the left and right eye locations of at least one observer in proximity with the projection screen; projects left and right sub-images of a three-dimensional image toward the projection screen; and angularly and intensity modulaties the left and right sub-images respectively in coordination...

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Nov 30
Blu-ray disc sales grow 80% year-over-year

I'm pretty sure we'll never see Apple support for Blu-ray playback on the Mac platform because Steve Jobs is convinced all movie purchasing will soon be via download (I think he's wrong), but I'm still hoping that Apple will at least provide the "hooks" in Mac OS X to allow third parties to release plug-and-play Blu-ray players for my favorite computing platform.

And I think there's plenty of evidence that this makes sense. According to figures released in October by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, consumer purchases of Blu-ray Disc software reached US$1 billion by Sept. 30. Sales increased 80% over the same period of 2009.

Hardware sales also continued to climb, with over three million standalone BD players sold in the first nine months of the year -- a year-over-year increase of 104%. This brings the total installed base of Blu-ray playback devices in the U.S. to 21.1 million units. DEG president Ron Sanders (also is president of Warner Home Video) has...

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Nov 30
Greg's bite: Apple's Living Room Aspirations...

By Greg Mills

As an Apple fan and a believer in the wisdom of most of what comes out of Cupertino, I bought the most recent Apple TV device and have used it quite a bit since it was first launched. As I noted in this space on a number of occasions I think there is an opening for Apple to challenge the cable/satellite TV content providers, since a lot of people hate them, but it won't be easy and it is not happening yet for Apple. The numbers aren't right yet.

We see the decline of physical media for digital video content delivery, to be sure, but what is replacing video tapes and disks isn't steaming video over iTunes, but rather NetFlix and other streaming content providers with affordable, flat rate monthly plans. Apple TV's iTunes video content available for streaming is way too expensive; the one-off, rental "go to market plan" needs drastic reworking to succeed.

When you analyze the video content offered by Apple TV and the attempt to rent...

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Nov 29
Holiday survey looks good for the iPhone, iPad

PriceGrabber, a part of Experian, has released its second holiday spending consumer behavior report, "A Deep Dive into Online Holiday Spending Trends." And it's good news for the iPhone and iPad.

In PriceGrabber's holiday survey, consumers were asked which smartphone they would prefer to receive as a gift this holiday season. The iPhone took the lead, with 47% of consumers choosing the iPhone 4 over other smartphones. Twenty-two percent of shoppers prefer the Motorola Droid, and 13% choose the RIM Blackberry Torch as the smartphone they would like to receive.

When it comes to devices that consumers prefer for e-reading, 59% of consumers selected the iPad as their device of choice. Twenty-one percent of consumers pick the Amazon Kindle. Five percent selected the Barnes & Noble Nook, and 3% choose the Dell Streak as their preferred e-reader.

Tablet computers are forecast to be one of the most popular technology gadget gifts this holiday season. The number of...

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Nov 29
Greg's bite: Iran should sue Microsoft, Steve...

By Greg Mills

Despite repeated attempts to purge industrial controllers running Iranian plutonium centrifuges and the control systems of their new nuclear reactor (still not on line) the Stuxnet worm continues to wreak havoc.  

One has to take a fresh look at the situation and the legal situation posed. While no one has come forward to admit they wrote the Pulitzer Prize worthy malware called Stuxnet, the facts are plenty clear where a giant portion of the blame lies: Microsoft Corp. and its CEO Steve Ballmer.

Much has been written over the years about the "Apple tax," or additional cost of owning and running Macs as opposed to Windows PCs. The truth is that the pendulum has swung in the other direction in the last few years. If you run Windows of any flavor you had better sign up for an anti-malware service or plan to suffer the consequences. While certainly the Mac is becoming a much larger target for hackers due to increased market...

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Nov 26
Apple patents involve credential authorization,...

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

Patent number 20100200729 is for server computer issued credential authorization. Methods and systems for authenticating computers is disclosed. The methods and system include issue a credential from a first computer to a second computer. When the second computer authenticates to the first computer, the second computer transmits the credential and a first challenge to the first computer. The first computer determines whether the credential is valid, computes a first response to the first challenge, and generates a second challenge. The first computer transmits the first response and the second challenge to the second computer. The second computer determines whether the first response is valid and computes a second response to the second challenge. The second computer transmits the second response to the first computer in order to verify and...

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Nov 24
Greg's bite: more Stuxnet mischief/Big Brother...

By Greg Mills

My post today is loaded with a number of issues of interest to Apple High tech fans.  

° The iOS 4.2.1 Magic Disappearing Folder Trick I discovered a 0 day bug, in the iPad iOS 4.2.1, just released a few days ago, that Apple was completely unaware of.  I call it "the magic disappearing folder trick."

Here is the way it works. The proud iPad user, who has just updated the iOS on their iPad, laboriously sorts a few hundred apps into the cool new folders and drags them to the home screen or the first two or three screens and figures iPad app organization is complete. (In my case a precious 11-year-old daughter has downloaded a zillion kid apps that I have little interest in.  So I put them in new folders named Games1-7.) 

Then, sometime later, a number of app updates showed up as a red number badge on the blue App Store button. The user mashes the app button and chooses to update some apps over Wi-Fi. You sign in the iTunes...

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Nov 24
MacNews, MacTech on scaled-back Thanksgiving Day...

The "MacNews" and "MacTech" web sites will be following a scaled back schedule this week in honor of the observation of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. We'll be "closed" on Turkey Day itself and will only run critical announcements on Friday.

The gang at MacNews and MacTech wish our readers and advertisers a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Nov 23
Greg's bite: Lost Folder Bug in iPad 4.2.1 ?

By Greg Mills

One of the features in iPad 4.2.1 iOS that is quite helpful is the folders function for sorting apps into categories that recover many of the 10 screens that you can scroll through.  

I loaded the iPad 4.2.1iOS yesterday and began to play around with it. My 11-year-old daughter had downloaded tons of games that I have little interest in -- I haven't launched "Whack a Mole",  personally so far -- so  I spend an hour sorting out 180 apps into games 1-5, weather, graphics, news, etc. I got 10 full screens of apps down to two pages of thoughtful folders, where I can find things I wanted -- and all on only two screens worth of real estate. There are only 10 screens available.

This morning I went to the Apple App store and set my iPad to download 14 updates that were flagged as having new code for the new iOS. When I got back I was shocked to find that my hour of sorting the apps into folders was apparently lost. All the files I set up...

| Read more »
Nov 23
Apple granted patents for iPhone 4 and iPad designs,...

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Among them are design patents for the iPhone 4 (patent D627,778), the iPad (D627,777) and the iPhone/iPod touch graphical user interface (D627,790). Other patents granted are summarized below.

Patent number 7,840,543 is for a method for sharing groups of objects. The patent is for a method of sharing a group of one or more objects between a plurality of users, in which one or more of said plurality of users is able to change parameter data of at least one said object. The method comprises storing at least one version of each said object; when an object is changed, creating a new version of the object, the new version of the object comprising additional data relating to the creation of the new version; storing the new version of the object together with any version of that object before the change; providing all versions of the object to each of said plurality of users; and using...

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Nov 23
CEO Annual Holiday Study looks good for Apple

The Consumer Electronics Association’s 17th Annual Holiday Study (http://www.digitaltips.org) shows that this year consumer electronic sales will reach the highest level ever reported. And it looks good for Apple.

Despite an overall decline in gift spending, electronic spending jumped 5% from last year's numbers. That equates to an average of US$232 a person to be spent on electronics this holiday season.

So what’s on the top of this year’s holiday wish list? Here’s what the Consumer Electronics Association found to be the top 10 list: notebook/laptop; iPad; eReader; iPod/iPod touch; video game system; digital camera; big screen TV; TV (unspecified); computer (unspecified); and desktop computer (unspecified).

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 23
Greg's bite: the paradox of the Internet

By Greg Mills

I can barely remember when the Internet began to burst on the scene. My first recollection was when my brother, an art professor, mentioned in a phone call about connecting his computer to the Internet.

In those days you had to buy a separate modem costing a few hundred dollars which hooked up to your computer with a clunky serial port cable connector. The modem was the size of a cigar box and ran so slowly it was absurd over a phone line. The very early Internet was text with limited domains and not much in the way of browser software.

About the time the Mac came along a graphic browser called Netscape changed everything. I took a class on the Internet at the local community college and was dazzled by the color displays and search engine that allowed fast research on a lot of subjects. At that time, Yahoo was the big gun in search engines. Google wasn't on-line yet.

The vast potential of the Internet was just dawning on...

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Nov 22
Will the Internet, mobile TV market change the pay-TV...

Is Internet-delivered TV and video content (IPTV) emerging as a threat to traditional pay-TV? In truth, IPTV, in the form that has matured over the past decade, has simply become another type of pay-TV.

Like cable and direct-to-home satellite TV before it, IPTV involves the delivery of high-quality video content to a captive consumer device over a managed network, except that some or all of the content is delivered using broadband Internet Protocol access. The fact is that IPTV, as a set of technologies, represents both a threat and an opportunity for all legacy pay-TV operators, regardless of whether they are cable operators, satellite providers, ISPs or even telcos that offer the TV portion of triple plays by reselling satellite services, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/045be8/...

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Nov 22
Greg's bite: Android fragmentation and Windows...

By Greg Mills

I watch the smartphone situation closely and have discovered articles that illustrate the less-than-viable competition facing the Apple iOS platform. With a new system for the iPad platform coming out any day and iPhone, flying off the shelf, is there anything out there to compete with Apple? If you mention the Android phones or the lame Microsoft platform, guess again.

While Microsoft Vista 7 is being pounded as too little too late by most reviewers, the flood of money Ballmer and company are spending will make some headway in the less astute cell phone buyer market. The embarrassing lack of apps is being hidden first by large blank tiles on the screen of the new Vista 7 cell phones instead of apps and now, it seems by downright fraudulent advertising.

Microsoft, historically, never unwilling to tout vaporware, has done it again to Vista 7 phone buyers. If you buy a Microsoft OS phone expecting it to run "Angry BIrds" since the...

| Read more »
Nov 19

Greg's bite: Apple's industrial footprint...

By Greg Mills

Sometimes what I write hits a nerve, and I get email from readers giving me fresh information they found. My article regarding what I consider false claims that Apple has gone rogue drew an email from a reader.  

He sent me a link to an article and actually an embedded half hour Video TV news story that ran recently in Australia that loosely linked Apple with Chinese pollution in general and worker injury specifically. It turns out this is old news and not quite what it appears.

The story was researched and written by Steven McDonnell of ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation, not related to ABC news in the USA). The article was well written on the surface, but failed to actually connect Chinese pollution in general or worker injury specifically with Apple's industrial footprint (http://www.abc.net.au/...

| Read more »
Nov 19
I'm an iPad/MacBook Air man

Well, my goal of using my iMac as my main computer and an iPad with a keyboard as a secondary system for writing articles, checking email, etc., just never panned out. I simply missed having an Apple laptop when I was away from my iMac for an extended period.

Using an external keyboard with my iPad worked okay for short articles, brief email responses and the like. But when I'm doing my daily workload -- which involves jumping between Pages, Mail, Safari and iCal, among other apps. The iOS just isn't up to snuff for that just yet (we'll see if iOS 4.2 changes my mind).

But I do love my iPad. So now I own it and an 11-inch MacBook Air (standard except that I sprung for the 128GB solid state driver rather than the 64GB model). I use my iPad for media consumption (surfing the web, watching videos, reading ebooks, etc.) and my MacBook Air for creating (writing articles, doing research, responding to email, etc.).

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 18
Fiber-in-matrix material patent could hint at future...

An Apple patent (number 20100289390) for a reinforced device housing has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office -- as first reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) that could result in even lighter, but even tougher, iOS devices.

The patent -- invented by Kevin M. Kenney -- is for a housing for an electronic device or other object formed from a fiber-in-matrix material. A layered fiber-in-matrix type material, such as CFRP, may be used. A spine made from CFRP may support, and be attached to, a CFRP skin. The CFRP spine may be a unitary frame that imparts strength and rigidity to the overall housing and also form at least some of the corners of the frame. In some embodiments, the spine may be rectangular.

The skin may be formed from multiple layers of CFRP type material stacked atop each other. Each layer may be cut at one or more corners to expose at least a...

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Nov 18
Apple patents involve radio services, simulcasting

Two Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office indicate the company is looking into ways of beefing up radio services in other iOS devices besides the iPod nano -- and perhaps teh Mac.

Patents 20100291861 and 20100292816 are credited to Apple's Freddy Anzures and team mates Henry Mason and Lucas Newman. The patents were originally filed in Q2 2009. Assignee names don't have to appear on patent applications until they've been grantted. 

Patent number 20100291861 is for content selection based on simulcast data. Per the patent a computer system receives information snippets from a mobile device. The information snippets are extracted from a simulcast of a data stream of a radio broadcast received on the mobile device. The system identifies content metadata from the information snippets. The content metadata describes one or more features of the radio broadcast.

The system selects a radio station from a radio station repository based on attributes of...

| Read more »
Nov 18
Greg's bite: KinOneM and KinTwoM

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

| Read more »
Nov 18
Apple will do iWork for Windows

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

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

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

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

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Nov 17
Donovan's views: iPad launch: Melbourne, Bondi, 7...

By Gaurang Donovan

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

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

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

| Read more »
 
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ACDSee (Photography)
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ProTube for YouTube (Entertainment)
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64GB iPod touch on sale for $249, save $50
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16GB Retina iPad mini on sale today for $199,...
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