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Dec 22
Here's hoping for 'people power' used...

IBM (http://www.ibm.com) recently released its "5in5" (http://macte.ch/Kilp9), a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.

Of course, you have to take lists like this (including mine, which are coming next week) with a grain of salt. After all, I'm still waiting for my flying care -- and have been since I was a kid.

That said, I hope that IBM is correct in predicting that "people power will come to life." Here's how IBM sees it:

"Anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured. Walking. Jogging. Bicycling. The heat from your computer. Even the water flowing through your pipes.

"Advances in renewable energy technology will allow individuals to collect this kinetic energy, which now goes to waste, and use it...

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Dec 21
A 3D iTV, perhaps?

Don't count 3DTVs out yet. Currys and PC World, UK electrical retailers, report that sales in 3DTVs have breached the 40% mark for the first time ever.

The retailer predicts that further sales in 3DTV sets will continue to peak. Earlier this year, the retailer reported sales in 3DTVs alone to have grown 500% since last year, with 3DTVs now accounting for two in every five TVs sold since the technology became more accessible to the mainstream market.

Sales generally within the home cinema technology have risen significantly, with Currys and PC World recording an 83% year-on-year growth in the category.  Hmmm, so will Apple's rumored HDTV (the iTV?) be offered in a 3D version -- if and when it materializes?

-- Dennis Sellers

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Dec 20
Apple granted seven patents

Apple has been granted several patent wins by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Design patent D650811 is for the second gen iPod shuffle design. The inventors are Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Jonathan Ive, Daniele De Iuliis, Richard Howarth, Steve Jobs, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Calvin Seid, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent 20110294551 is for missed telephone call management for a portable multifunction device. In one aspect of the invention, a computer-implemented method is disclosed for use in conjunction with a portable electronic device with a touch screen display. A list of items comprising missed telephone calls is displayed. Upon detecting user selection of an item in the list, contact information is displayed for a respective caller corresponding to the user selected item.

The displayed contact information...

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Dec 20
iPad, MacBook Airs forcing computer vendors to regroup

If you believe the "DigiTimes" (http://www.digitimes.com) site, the iPad and the MacBook Air are putting some serious smack-down on their competitors.

The DigiTimes research group says that notebook brand vendors are turning their focus to ultrabooks (a computer in a category of thin and lightweight ultraportable laptops, defined by a specification from Intel), which have better profitability compared to the traditional notebooks. Most of the notebook brand vendors are also turning away from the netbook market (a category of small, lightweight, legacy-free, and inexpensive laptop computers), says "DigiTimes."

Personally, I think there's a line so fine between an ultrabook and a netbook that it's almost indistinguishable. Regardless, the hottest selling "small" laptop around is the Air.

As for tablet computers, although players such as Acer and Asustek have launched quad-core tablets with...

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Dec 19
Is there a future for the telcos?

Is there a future for the telecoms? It's a question asked by Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) in a new report.

The industry is currently involved in a massive transformation. Since the arrival of the Internet, the focus of the industry has moved from providing defined end-products to becoming a facilitator in the development of a range of new products, companies, and indeed new industries.

Unfortunately ever since this change took place the incumbents have fought tooth and nail against these developments. They wanted to maintain their traditional products for as long as possible and mainly for that reason most have continued to defend their monopolistic structures, according to Research and Markets.

They lost the internet battle with the newly-emerging digital and social media companies; and they made a similar mistake in relation to mobile...

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Dec 16
Greg's Bite: SOPA, Congressional overkill

By Greg Mills

The Constitution of the Untied States grants the government the right to protect intellectual property for the benefit of inventors and writers. Patents, copyright, trademarks and the like are protected by federal laws. Those laws are subject to tweaking by the idiots in Congress.

Recently, in an attempt to further quash movie and music piracy, a bill was introduced that got the short name SOPA. The "Stop Online Piracy Act," however well intended, has apparently been so broadly written that search engines can be sued for simply listing web sites that engage in piracy.

Should Google be forced to be an online cop and decide if any of the web site they list are involved with Internet piracy? This amounts to an impossible task and subjects search companies to unlimited financial risk.

One would think the giant lawsuits where music companies sue individuals for illegally downloading music and get $80,000 per song is...

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Dec 16
Apple still one of the most agile companies in America


As Apple has grown -- and grown and grown -- some folks have said it's gotten so big that it can't possibly be as nimble as it once was. The late Steve Jobs ran Apple like it was a small, scrappy firm.

However, at least one person thinks Apple is still one of the three most agile companies in America. Mike Richardson, a former corporate manager and author of Wheel$pin: The Agile Executive’s Manifesto (http://www.mydrivingseat.com), and his point is that it’s agility that drives a company’s ability to compete in the business world. And he says that Apple, Ford Motor and Yahoo are three of the most agile companies around. 

"The passing of Steve Jobs, while tragic, will not end Apple’s reign at the top. In his time at the company, he instilled a culture of agility that will not go away," Richardson says. "Apple began at the dawn of the computer industry and it survived as a computer manufacturer...

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Dec 15
Apple working on low power backlight for a display

A new Apple patent (number 20110304597) shows that Apple is working on a low power backlight for a display. The invention provides systems, devices and methods for controlling backlighting in an electronic device.

In one embodiment, an electronic device an electronic device having a processor and a display assembly coupled to the processor. The display assembly being configured to provide visual output. The display assembly includes a backlight layer having one or more light sources. At least one of the one or more light sources is coupled to ground via a switch. The switch is configured to selectively operate the one or more light sources to adjust a brightness of the visual output. Edward Craig Hyatt is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Electronic devices such as desktop computers, mobile computing devices, personal digital assistants, cell phones and mobile media devices have become ubiquitous in today's society. They serve as...

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Dec 15
Apple patent reflects app recommendation system

A new Apple patent (number 20110303741) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is working on a system that would detect an external device and recommend compatible applications available on the Apple App Store-- and perhaps the Mac App Store.

A method for identifying an application usable with an accessory is provided. The method includes receiving an accessory identifier associated with the accessory, identifying an application protocol associated with the accessory identifier, identifying an application that supports the application protocol, and providing information about the application to a user device. A method for identifying an accessory usable with an application is also provided.

The method includes receiving information about an application, determining an application protocol associated with the application, determining an accessory that supports the application protocol, and providing information about the accessory to a user...

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Dec 15
Apple TV doing pretty well for a 'hobby'

The Apple TV -- Apple's set-box box, not the rumored Apple-branded HDTV (which we'll call the iTV) -- may still be a "hobby," per Apple's classification, but it's doing pretty darn well for a hobby -- and looks to do even better.

Apple has emerged as the leading player in the rapidly growing connected TV player market, according to the latest research from the Strategy Analytics Connected Home Devices service (http://www.strategyanalytics.com). According to the report, “Connected TV Players: Another Battlefield in the Smart TV War,” global sales of connected TV players -- also known as video streaming or Internet TV set-top-boxes -- will more than double in 2011, compared to 2010. Strategy Analytics projects that the market will reach almost 12 million units globally this year, with Apple alone predicted to sell nearly four million devices.

While connected TV players haven't...

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Dec 14
Perhaps Apple was right to ignore UltraViolet

In the past, I've felt that Apple should consider supporting UltraViolet. However, now I'm now so sure since the roll-out of the technology seems to have been flubbed.

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 purportedly keeps copies of films you've bought on remote servers for viewing any time on various devices. Starting this month, consumers can buy the first film discs offered with UltraViolet.

Sounds like a good idea, but so far it's not off to a great start. According to the "Associated Press" (http://macte.ch/SRxuP), when the studio introduced its first movies on the new "UltraViolet" format in October, consumers were led to believe they could buy a DVD or Blu-ray, register their ownership of the movie on the UltraViolet website and then...

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Dec 13
Will Apple roll out an iPad mini?

There are rumors that Apple will roll out an iPad mini in 2012. In the past I've doubted this; after all, the late Steve Jobs said the screen size of the current Apple tablet was the optimum size for what Apple wanted to accomplish with the tablet.

Now I'm less certain. I think there's a good chance that Apple will roll out an "iPad mini" to take on the very popular Kindle Fire. In fact, Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) says Apple is likely to launch 7.85-inch iPad mini in the third quarter of 2012 with LGD and AUO seem to be the potential suppliers.

Of course, next year will also see the roll-out of the iPad 3 with a retina display. And I wouldn't be surprised to see the iPad 2 still sold at a reduced price. In other words, look for there to be a line of iPads, as there multiple Mac and iPhone models.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Dec 12
Accelerating tablet adoption dramatically shifts TV...

The trend of viewing “live” and on demand programming on devices such as smartphones and tablets is accelerating -- with 76% of 18-44 year olds indicating they're watching more TV on these devices than just one year ago, according to research by video service management specialists, QuickPlay Media (http://www.quickplay.com/).

The report, which captured a number of trends showing shifting TV viewing habits, found that 44% of mobile TV viewers also prefer to catch-up with sports, news, and shows at times that suit them -- rather than during the live broadcast. The results come on the back of explosive growth of tablet devices.

Gartner estimates worldwide tablet sales to exceed 63 million units sold in 2011, a 261% increase over 20101 which illustrates the dramatic shift around how, when and where consumers are now watching "live" television and VOD content on their mobile devices.

The...

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Dec 09
An iMac with TV functionality? I'm there!

Here's one rumor I certainly hope is true as I've wanted it to happen for a long time:

In a note to clients -- as reported by "Forbes" (http://macte.ch/qmKzI) -- Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair thinks that Apple will bring some features of its rumored "iTV" to the iMac next year, in effect allowing the all-in-one to double as a television set. Apple hasn't announced ANY plans to make an iTV (an Apple-branded HDTV), so take this with a grain of salt. But I'm hopeful.

Blair thinks that a redesigned iMac in the first half of 2012 could be an intermediate step on the way to the iTV. What sort of redesign? An all-in-one with built-in Apple TV software and iCloud features.

"We think this makes sense because while we typically think about the newest TV’s hanging on the wall in large form factors, Apple could effectively start with what they already have on the manufacturing line and slowly push...

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Dec 08
Apple patent is for user interface for electronic...

An Apple patent (number 20110302502) for an user interface for electronic backup has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and methods are provided for storing and restoring digital data. The patent involves current, and probably future versions, of the Time Machine features of Mac OS X.

A method includes receiving, a first user input requesting that a backup interface be displayed, displaying the backup interface, the backup interface including a display area for presenting at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of a current view and a visual representation of the current view, the earlier version including a first element, receiving, while the backup interface is displayed, a second user input requesting that the current view be modified according to the earlier version, at least with regard to the first element, animating the modification of the first element as moving from the visual representation of the earlier version to the...

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Dec 08
Apple working on its own Kinect-like technology

A new patent (number 20110298798) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on its own Kinect-like technology. Kinect is a motion sensing input device by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game console.

Per Apple's patent a three-dimensional imaging and display system is provided in which user input is optically detected in an imaging volume by measuring the path length of an amplitude modulated scanning beam as a function of the phase shift thereof. Visual image user feedback concerning the detected user input is presented. Christoph H. Krah is the inventor.

The invention provides a three-dimensional imaging and display system. User input is optically detected in an imaging volume by measuring the path length of an amplitude modulated scanning beam as a function of the phase shift thereof. Here's Apple's background on the invention:

"Modern three-dimensional ('3D') imaging and display technologies are employed in widely diverse...

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Dec 08
All-in-one sales slowing, but the iMac will defy this...

After experiencing strong growth of 45-50% in 2009 and 2010, demand for all-in-one computers has already started cooling down with shipment growth for 2011 expected to reach only 31.1%, according to a new report from "DigiTimes" (http://macte.ch/2sMz3). I'm predicting that one all-in-one will defy that trend: the iMac.

"DigiTimes" says that the all-in-one segment will face an even bigger slowdown as it continues trying to penetrate into the desktop market in 2012, with annual shipment growth dropping below 20%, on shipments of 15.8 million units, adds the research group. This year shipments of all-in-ones will only account for 9.3% of the desktop market, lower than previous forecasts that expected double-digit penetration in 2011, according to the research group.

While the proportion will rise slightly in 2012, reaching 10.5%, the growth of the segment has reached a stable point and the AIO penetration...

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Dec 08
Apple eyeing high contrast liquid crystal display

A new Apple patent (number 20110298833) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is investigating a high contrast liquid crystal display.

According to Apple devices and methods related to high-contrast liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are provided. For example, such an electronic device may include an LCD with two liquid crystal alignment layers not symmetric to one another and upper and lower polarizing layers respectively above and below the alignment layers. The inventors are Enkh Amgalan Dorjotov, Zhibing Ge, Ming Xu, Cheng Chen, Bai Young Park, John Z. Zhong, Wei Chen and Shawn Robert Gettemy.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are commonly used as screens or displays for a wide variety of electronic devices, including such consumer electronics as televisions, computers, and handheld devices (e.g., cellular telephones, audio and video players, gaming systems, and so forth).

"Such LCD devices...

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Dec 08
Apple patent involves noise cancellation in portable...

An Apple patent (number 20110299695) for active noise cancellation decisions in a portable audio device show that the company continues to look at ways to improve the sound quality in its iOS and portable devices.

Per the patent, active noise cancellation (ANC) circuitry is coupled to the input of an earpiece speaker in a portable audio device, to control the ambient acoustic noise outside of the device and that may be heard by a user of the device. A microphone is to pickup sound emitted from the earpiece speaker, as well as the ambient acoustic noise. Control circuitry deactivates the ANC in response to determining that an estimate of how much sound emitted from the earpiece speaker has been corrupted by noise indicates insufficient corruption by noise.

In another embodiment, the ANC decision is in response to determining that an estimate of the ambient noise level is greater than a threshold level of an audio artifact that could be induced by the ANC. Guy C....

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Dec 08
Most of holiday budgets will be spent on electronics

TechBargains (www.techbargains.com), a deal aggregation website for electronics products, released its 2011 Holiday Survey, revealing that despite the weak economy consumers are still buying large amounts of consumer electronics this season. And since tablets are among the hottest items, it looks to be a happy holiday for Apple, as well as Amazon.

At least a quarter of all consumers’ holiday gift budgets will be spent on consumer electronics with 52% of shoppers expecting to spend between US$250 to $500. More than 50% of men and women surveyed plan on spending half or more of their budget on electronics, completely unimpeded by the economic downturn.

Electronics products will consume a large portion of the holiday gift budget for men and women with 39% of women and 37% of men stating that they will spend half of their holiday budget on consumer electronics. However, while they're spending...

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Dec 08
Apple patents involve cell power control, removing...

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

Patent number 20110300805 is for adaptive cellular power control. The patent involves a method of mitigating interference in a mobile wireless communication device by adaptively adjusting transmit power levels of a wireless cellular transceiver. A receive signal quality for a wireless non-cellular transceiver that includes interference from signals transmitted by the wireless cellular transceiver is estimated. The wireless non-cellular and wireless cellular transceivers are co-located in the mobile wireless communication device, and both transceivers are active.

An actual transmit power of the wireless cellular transceiver is adjusted based on the estimated receive signal quality to a level less than a requested transmit power. The estimation of the receive signal quality and the adjusting of the actual transmit power is periodically...

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Dec 07
Mobile device security issues slowing enterprise...

A survey conducted by the Enterprise Device Alliance revealed that IT administrators believe that the challenge of securing mobile devices is the largest impediment to acceptance by enterprises. This seems to be an area in which Apple could turn the tide -- especially if the rumors are true that new CEO Tim Cook is more amendable to the enterprise than was Steve Jobs.

Fifty-four percent of the respondents replied that preventing access to sensitive data from unauthorized users is the top concern slowing adoption smartphones and tablets for enterprises. Fifty-nine percent of the IT professionals said that another source of concern is the security risk should the devices be stolen or lost.

Despite these concerns, more than 90% reported that tablets are being tested in pilot or production deployments at their organizations. Though the respondents indicated that only 6% of the employees currently have tablets, they expect that number to increase 250% by the end of next...

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Dec 06
Apple patents involve GUIs, magnet array, more

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

Patent number 8072471 involves processing cursor movements in a graphical user interface of a multimedia application. Per the patent, amethod for processing a selected item in a graphical user interface of a multimedia application is provided. The method includes receiving a hot key input that specifies a function that is to be applied to the selected item and displaying a set of control guidelines associated with the hot key input. The set of control guidelines indicates cursor movement inputs needed to specify particular aspects of the function.

A method for transforming a received cursor movement in a first coordinate system to a transformed cursor movement in a second coordinate system is provided. The received cursor movement specifies a particular manner (e.g., aspect and extent) of a function to be applied to an item in a workspace of a...

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Dec 06
Prediction: Apple will roll out carrier billing in...

2011 was a year of unbelievable growth in the apps market. Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) estimates that more than 30 billion apps were downloaded across various connected devices.

This explosive growth will lead to increased competition for the coming year, along with validation that the app economy is real and here to stay, with more players entering the app space, according to the research group. Three predictions from the report, "2012 App Predictions: Phones, Tablets, TV’s, and Cars -- Oh My!" include:

° Apple will roll out carrier billing in emerging markets;

° Amazon and Nook app stores will account for more than 25% of Android downloads in the US; and

° A car manufacturer will partner with Android for a dedicated automotive app market.

Manufacturers, developers, and content owners recognize apps opportunities in...

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Dec 05
Greg's Bite: Mobile Device Insecurity

By Greg Mills

The location insecurity flap last summer really set the stage for the current public reaction to the Carrier IQ issue, which is going on right now. Frankly, when you fully understand the motives for the likes of AT&T, Sprint and other cellular networks in diagnosing and improving service, you can excuse them adding such software to the smartphones running on their systems. What is less forgivable is the lack of transparency in users knowing what software is lurking in the smartphones we pay a pretty penny for and trust with a growing amount of personal data.

While Apple responded within a day of the issue becoming a hot topic in the tech press, the Apple customization and use of Carrier IQ appears to have been more intrusive in the past. The major difference between Carrier IQ's function in Android phones and iPhone are strikingly different. Informed consent to diagnostic software being turned on and exactly what it does should be a...

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Dec 05
Consumers more connected to TV sets than ever

American consumers continue to expand the number of devices and platforms they use to view TV shows and movies, yet report no significant change in the total time they spend watching on the traditional TV set. Which is good news for Apple if, as myriad rumors suggest, it's planning its own HDTV set in 2012 or 2013.

An annual study of consumer video consumption habits conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates (http://www.magid.com) reveals that while more than 50% of online consumers watch TV shows and movies online at least occasionally, there is still growth in their use of On Demand, DVR, and DVD options. Surprisingly, the more alternative platforms that consumers use, the more they tend to spend on traditional TV subscription services.

Notably, satisfaction with HD service is at an all-time high among customers of pay television providers, including cable, satellite, and telco TV. TV purchase intentions...

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Dec 02
Greg's Bite: Carrier IQ info

Posted by Greg Mills

I contacted Apple Media Relations Thursday morning requesting comment on the Carrier IQ privacy issue on Apple products and got a phone call back with an official statement from Apple, at 4:30 Central time. This is Apple's Official Statement on Carrier IQ:

"We stopped supporting CarrierIQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update. With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so."

Apple iOS users can turn off diagnostic software on their devices. Go into the Settings menu and follow these instructions. On an iPhone or iPad with the 3G radio, turning the Carrier IQ software off is very...

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Dec 02
Solid Mac, 'disappointing' iPhone sales over...

I don't understand most analysts. The consensus opinion among pro pundits seems to be that iPhone sales for the holidays will disappoint while Mac sales will thrill.

Overall iPhone shipments in the holiday quarter could come in around 30 million units or below Wall Street expectations. I'm not sure what the Street was expecting, but 30 million units sounds like a lot of iPhones sold. (Academic studies have shown that insiders traditionally make higher investment returns than ordinary investors.)

Meanwhile, Barclays said that it continues to believe Apple can see further gains as it extracts more profits out of the traditional computer and mobile phone industries. According to its checks, sales over Black Friday and Cyber Monday were quite solid for Apple, largely in line with their own expectations. Barclays believes Macs have momentum overseas in the Apple's December quarter, as it expects unit growth of 22% year-over-year.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Dec 01
Apple eyeing ways to improve iOS device cameras

Two Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is working on methods of further improving the cameras in its OS device.

Patent 20110292246 involves automatic tone mapping curve generation based on dynamically stretched image histogram distribution. An apparatus, method, computer useable medium, and processor programmed to automatically generate tone mapping curves in a digital camera based on image metadata are described.

"Rather than having a static tone mapping curve for all images, the curve can be varied automatically based on, e.g., the brightness histogram of the image. In one embodiment, a certain percentage of the least bright pixels and a certain percentage of the brightest pixels can be disregarded, while the remaining pixels can be linearly stretched to encompass the original range of brightness values. Based on the distribution of the resultant stretched brightness histogram, slopes for the low end (S.sub.0) and high end (S.sub....

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Dec 01
Apple patent is for 'digital handshake'...

An Apple patent (number 20110293094) for a "digital handshake" between devices shows that Apple is looking at new ways sharing data between handheld devices -- and perhaps Macs.

The patent is is directed to a digital handshake for establishing a secure communications path between two electronic devices. Each device can capture an image of the other device using a camera (e.g., a front facing camera or a back facing camera) and extract, from the captured image, a key or seed associated with the other device.

For example, each device can display a seed to be identified from an image taken by the other device. Using the extracted keys or seeds, each device can generate, using a same process, an identical digital handshake key. The digital handshake key can then be used to define a secure communications path between the two devices and share information securely.

In some embodiments, a digital handshake key can be shared among several devices to create a multi-...

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Dec 01
Apple looking into automatic avatar creation

A new Apple patent (number 200110292051) shows Apple's continued interest in avatar creation. An an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character.

The patent involves a three-dimensional (“3D”) avatar can be automatically created that resembles the physical appearance of an individual captured in one or more input images or video frames. The avatar can be further customized by the individual in an editing environment and used in various applications, including but not limited to gaming, social networking and video conferencing. The inventors are Alex Tremain Nelson, Cedric Bray, Thomas Goossens, Merwe Rudolph Van Der, Richard E. Crandall and Bertrand Serlet.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Avatars are increasingly used in online social networking, gaming, and other communications, typically as a surrogate for an actual photograph of the user. Avatars offer a measure of privacy, while allowing the user to have...

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Dec 01
The Northern Spy: surplus G5s, Apple IDs, The...

By Rick Sutcliffe

The Spy recently acquired a few surplus G5s, and in the process of setting them up to be useful file servers and replacements for even older G4s at his home and church, (re)-discovered some interesting things about memory, disk drives, and both hardware and software compatibilities.

First is that all disk drives are not manufactured equal, quite apart from the Thailand flooding that means many aren't being manufactured at all. Two 250G Maxtor drives in an old G5 Quad, when inserted into a new (well, one year old) MacPro, could not be recognized. Evidently this is a known problem with this brand--they play well with some machines and not with others. 'Course, the Maxtor name is gone now, absorbed by Seagate, but perhaps this finicky behaviour is one reason why.

So, the Spy went out to his local NCIX store and picked up a new Western Digital Caviar blue 500G drive for the Quad. No problem getting that recognized, partitioned,...

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Dec 01
1-in-3 online consumers to use a tablet by 2014

How big can this iPad thing get? A lot bigger still, apparently, based on new data from eMarketer (http://www.emarketer.com), a "digital intelligence" research firm. The company says 1-in-3 online consumers will use a tablet by 2014.

Tablet devices, in their current incarnation, have only been available for a couple years, but the iPad has propelled them to rapid increases in ownership and usage. eMarketer estimates that by the end of 2011, 33.7 million Americans will use a tablet device at least monthly -- a rise of 158.6% over last year, the year the iPad was released.

Growth will slow to double digits beginning in 2012. However, the number of users will rise to nearly 90 million, or 35.6% of all internet users, by 2014. eMarketer’s previous tablet-related forecasts have focused on unit sales and the total installed base of devices.

These current estimates deal instead with usage, and...

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Nov 30
Should Apple pay more taxes? Create more US jobs?

Economist Martin Sullivan says Apple is no better than other multinationals that have been "painted as corporate tax dodgers by major media outlets." This would seem to contradict a Nov. 3 report in which Citizens for Tax Justice estimated that Apple paid an average effective U.S. tax rate of 31% between 2008 and 2010.

That's close to the ostensible corporate income tax rate of 35%, notes the "San Francisco Chronicle" (http://macte.ch/coRY2). Out of 280 companies in the study, only 49 had a higher effective tax rate than Apple.

However, Sullivan says "despite outward appearances, Apple enjoys enormous foreign tax benefits, just as GE and Google do. By taking advantage of lax U.S. and foreign tax laws, Apple has been able to book a large share of its foreign profits in low-tax jurisdictions and greatly reduce its tax liability in the United States and other major countries where it conducts most of its...

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Nov 29
Apple patent is for accessory power management

An Apple patent (number 8069356) for accessory power management has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It includes methods, apparatus, and circuits for managing power among portable computing devices and one or more accessories.

One example provides commands to improve power management between a portable computing device and one or more accessories. Other examples provide commands that may allow a portable computing device to charge at a maximum available current level while providing an accessory with sufficient current for its proper operation. Another may help prevent a portable computing device from drawing a high level of current that could be detrimental to an accessory, while others provide commands that may allow a battery pack to instruct a portable computing device to not charge its internal battery.

Another example may allow a portable computing device to determine which power supply among multiple power supplies should be used to power an...

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Nov 29
Greg's Bite: RIM PlayBook hits the dust

Posted by Greg Mills

The RIM PlayBook is being sold off at $99 as paperweights. Best Buy sold their existing PlayBook inventory that they had tried to return to RIM, unsuccessfully it seems. When they sold out at $99, it appears Best Buy has washed its hands of the worst dud since the Kin Phone Microsoft pulled from the market after about 6 weeks of humiliation and abuse in the press.

RIM has taken the "gang that can't shoot straight" title away from Microsoft as every BlackBerry and the PlayBook have failed to gain market share for the once big gun in the enterprise arena. The outages that mysteriously took down the RIM network and repeated dud smartphone models have really hurt the reputation of RIM. With a bill of materials for PlayBook of about $205, retailing them for $99 amounts to dumping them to clear shelf space.

It is hard to imagine PlayBook coming back at this stage of the game. The promised software that RIM failed to launch...

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Nov 29
CD format to be dead by end of 2012?

Take this one with a grain of salt, but "Side-Line Music Magazine" (http://macte.ch/r31IY) says the CD format will be abandoned by major labels in just over a year.

The article says the major labels plan to abandon the CD-format and replace it with download/streaming only releases via iTunes and related music services. That would, of course, tickle Apple immensely. The only CD-formats that will be left over will be the limited edition ones, which won't be available for every artist, sys "Side-Line." The distribution model for these remaining CD releases would be primarily Amazon, which is already the biggest CD retailer worldwide anyhow.

"It's a move that makes completely sense. CD's cost money, even when they don't sell because there is stock storage to be paid; a label also pays money to distributors when CDs get returned to the labels when not sold and so on," says "Side-Line." "In short, abandoning...

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Nov 29
Apple granted patents for shock avoidance, I/O...

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

Patent number 8068125 involves luminescence shock avoidance in display devices. Per the patent, a luminescence shock avoidance algorithm selectively limits the brightness level of a display device when the display device is activated in a dark environment to prevent the temporary vision impairment that can occur when a display device is activated in a dark environment. The algorithm receives the state of the display (e.g. on or in standby mode), and can optionally receive an ambient lighting value from an ambient light sensor and a user-selectable manual brightness adjustment setting to determine whether luminescence shock avoidance should even be triggered, and if it is triggered, how much should the brightness level of the display be limited. Kai Achim Pantfoerder is the inventor.

Patent number 8067701 is for an apparatus...

| Read more »
Nov 28
Greg's Bite: Apple Frightens the TV Industry

Posted by Greg Mills

The tech rumor mill is in overdrive right now over the prospects of Apple revolutionizing another major industry: television. The television manufacturers, according to reports, is in full panic mode not knowing what Apple is going to do their market share.

Razor thin margins are the norm, so losing market share without being able to quickly pare down expenses could be disastrous. Not knowing what magic Apple will do leaves them very worried. The 3D and internet connected TV never really pushed sales and these days, 55 inches and up displays are not that big a deal .... so what does Sony or the other TV hardware companies do?

The TV "software" business is so fragmented it is bewildering to both consumers and the industry as well. NetFlix and other internet downloaded video content providers struggle to keep up with innovation and they all know Apple, at least, has its feet wet in that industry. What revolutionary...

| Read more »
Nov 28
Consumers plan slight holiday budget increase

Shoppers expect to spend approximately US$748 this season compared to plans of spending $730 at this time last year, according to the Discover 2011 Annual Holiday Shopping Survey, which examines holiday spending intentions and trends for the upcoming holiday season.

Twenty-three percent of respondents indicated they intend to spend more in 2011, up from 13% that planned to spend more in 2010. Fifty percent of consumers intend to spend the same or more as they did last year; up from 43%.

One of the most important insights the survey revealed for consumer shopping intentions is Americans’ propensity to look to sites such as Groupon or Living Social for gift purchases. When asked if they would buy a gift through a group-buying site, more than half, 55%, of consumers gave a jolly nod to the idea, up from 22% who said the same last year. In 2010, just 6% of those surveyed said they had purchased a gift through a group-buying site, which more than tripled in 2011 to 20...

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Nov 23
Things for which I'm thankful

Thanksgiving is almost here in the US and the "MacNews" and "MacTech" web sites will be "closed" on Thursday and will be operating on a limited schedule Friday so the entire gang can celebrate the holiday with our families.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and I hope you do, too. I'm grateful for my family, my friends and my church. They're what life is all about.

I'm thankful for having a job when so many people don't. Which means I'm grateful to you, our readers, and to our advertisers.

I'm grateful that there are cool Apple gadgets in the world. They make life much more productive -- and fun.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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Nov 22
Apple patents involve text input, web feed content,...

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

Patent number 8065143 involves providing text input using speech data and non-speech data. Systems, methods, and computer readable media providing a speech input interface. The interface can receive speech input and non-speech input from a user through a user interface. The speech input can be converted to text data and the text data can be combined with the non-speech input for presentation to a user. Kazuhisa Yanagihara is the inventor.

Patent number 8065392 is for methods and systems for managing web feed content with an email client application. Per the patent, a web feed manager formats web feed contents from a web feed to allow a user on the email client application to read web feed contents as email messages with all the controls typically provided by the email client application for an email message, such as displays...

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Nov 22
Consumer Reports holiday poll looks good for Apple

Twice as many consumers will be spending less money this season (33%) than more (15%), according to a previous poll by Consumer Reports (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm). However, electronics and gadgets will be popular items this year -- and that's good news for Apple.

Seventeen percent of respondents to the pool plan to purchase an iPad. The Leapfrog LeapPad is on the shopping lists of 14 percent of adults, while one in ten (10 percent) plan to purchase the Apple iPhone 4S. Other items that were near the top of the list include: the Sesame Street Let's Rock! Elmo, the Amazon Kindle Fire, a 3D television set, Fisher-Price's Sing-A-Ma-Jigs, and an Internet-ready television.

The new Consumer Reports poll found that nine in ten (94%) Americans will shop in stores this holiday season, while 55% plan to shop online. Of those who will make trips to...

| Read more »
Nov 21
Don't blame me, blame my smartphone

In an always-on, connected world with a surplus of new devices fit for every function, location and context it’s no surprise that mobile phones are helping people multi-task and even duck out of awkward situations. A recent Yahoo! Mobile/Razorfish study (mobile.yahoo.com) reveals some intriguing gender differences in usage and ranks the smartphone as the highest rated device in the home with 75% of votes.

The more than 2,000 U.S. respondents that participated in the study -- which revealed that the iPhone 4S is the top searched mobile phone -- were asked questions on their multi-tasking habits and device preferences, bringing to light some interesting trends and valuable insights. The study found 52% of consumers use their mobile device to escape awkward situations. Women are more likely to use their phone as an excuse than men.

Overall men (59%) are using their web-enabled mobile devices most frequently for navigational purposes. And, not surprisingly, men were...

| Read more »
Nov 21
Consumer Reports holiday poll looks good for Apple

Twice as many consumers will be spending less money this season (33%) than more (15%), according to a previous poll by Consumer Reports (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm). However, electronics and gadgets will be popular items this year -- and that's good news for Apple.

Seventeen percent of respondents to the pool plan to purchase an iPad. The Leapfrog LeapPad is on the shopping lists of 14 percent of adults, while one in ten (10 percent) plan to purchase the Apple iPhone 4S. Other items that were near the top of the list include: the Sesame Street Let's Rock! Elmo, the Amazon Kindle Fire, a 3D television set, Fisher-Price's Sing-A-Ma-Jigs, and an Internet-ready television.

The new Consumer Reports poll found that nine in ten (94%) Americans will shop in stores this holiday season, while 55% plan to shop online. Of those who will make trips to...

| Read more »
Nov 18
Greg's Bite: Apple Mobility

By Greg Mills

Bit by bit more inside information is leaking out as to the various visions Steve Jobs had for Apple technology. The massive authorized book about Steve had a lot of insight into the grandiose directions he saw ahead for Apple. I read it on iPad, a fitting tribute to Steve Jobs. His life cut too short by cancer, it is hard to imagine the full spectrum of things he might have done if he lived to a ripe old age.

One news story that has recently hit the internet is that Jobs was thinking at one time of competing with the existing cellular networks using unlicensed spectrum. He would launch iPhone exclusively to work outside of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint using Wi-Fi and other public free frequencies to connect iPhones to the internet and thus the telephone network.

As I mentioned in a previous blog Tony Fadel filed a patent that Apple recently received for reselling unused bandwidth Apple hoped to buy wholesale from...

| Read more »
Nov 18
Smartphones moving toward world domination

An overwhelming 95% of people around the world now own cell phones, according to a new nine-country study by SSI. And smartphones are heading toward market domination, which is nothing but good news for Apple and the iPhone.

Hong Kong (99%), China (98%) and Sweden (98%) have the highest cell phone ownership rates, while the US (89%) has the lowest. Findings show that, among cell phone owners, 42% currently have smartphones -- and 58% are planning to make their next cell phone a smartphone.  

The highest rates of smartphone ownership are in China (68%) and Hong Kong (57%), while Japan (16%) and Sweden (33%) fall at the opposite end of the spectrum. Those countries that are lagging are likely to catch up soon, however, with almost half of respondents in Japan and Sweden intending to make their next cell phone a smartphone.

Of those planning to buy smartphones, iPhones are the preferred brand. If money were no object, almost a third of respondents globally say...

| Read more »
Nov 17
Apple eyeing weld check stations for laptop...

Apple is working on ways to make its Mac laptops even more durable, as evidenced by a new patent (number 20110285293) for weld check stations has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A method of manufacture for a portable computing device is described. In particular, methods and apparatus for assessing a quality of weld joints used to connect one or more components of the portable computing device are described. The weld joints can include one or more weld points. At a weld check station, using a vector network analyzer, a test signal generated can be passed through the weld joint and a response signal can be measured.

The measured characteristics can be used to assess a quality of the weld joint. In one embodiment, the vector network analyzer can be used to generate a number of high frequency test signals that are passed through the weld to perform a time domain reflectometry measurement where the weld joint can be accepted or rejected based upon the...

| Read more »
Nov 17
Apple power adapter would charge both a laptop, iOS...

Apple is working on an universal power adapter that could simultaneously charge a Mac laptop and an iOS device, per a new patent (number 20110278923) for a multi-output power supply at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, an apparatus for providing power to an electronic device may include a power input configured to receive an input voltage from a power supply, and a rectifier operatively connected to the power input and configured to convert the input voltage to a first voltage. The rectifier may further be configured to transmit the first voltage to a first power output operatively connected to the rectifier.

The apparatus may further include a power converter operatively connected to the rectifier and configured to convert the first voltage to a second voltage different than the first voltage and a first relay operatively connected to the rectifier to selectively prevent the first voltage from being transmitted through the first power output....

| Read more »
Nov 17
Tablets replacing notebooks for multi-screen TV users

Not surprisingly, but still good news for the iPad, is a a new study by Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) that says that tablets are replacing notebooks for multi-screen TV users.

TV viewers who use a gadget to surf the web or chat on Facebook while watching TV are migrating away from the laptop and toward the tablet as the preferred personal device, according to new research published by the research group. The report, "Multi-Screen User Behaviors in the Home," also found that, for those who own a laptop or a tablet, smartphone use while watching TV is limited to "alert" functions, like text or voice messages, rather than as a TV companion.

"The tablet is clearly becoming the primary TV companion device for advanced users," says Caroline Park, senior analyst and the report’s author. "Designers wishing to engage consumers while in the home/TV-watching...

| Read more »
 
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