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May 27
Future versions of QuickTime to offer recapping...

A new patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that may hint at interface changes in upcoming versions of QuickTime.

Patent number 20100132005 is for recapping media content. It relates generally to the field of media and, in particular, to playing, viewing, and controlling video or other media.

The invention involves a system in accordance with the present invention may include one or more processors, memory that receives instructions from the one or more processors according to a clock operating at a frequency, one or more programs stored in the memory, with instructions to: open a media file or receive a media broadcast that may be stored locally or remotely; play the content of the media file or media broadcast at a default speed; and control the play of the content with control features such as a feature for recapping earlier media content. The inventors are Windy Chien, Gary Stewart and Robert Kondrk.

Here's Apple's background and...

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May 27
Apple patent involves beamforming audio for ... TV,...

I've been dubious that Apple would release its own TV set. But a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office hints at that. Or it could involve some sort of future Mac or Apple TV accessory.

Patent number 20100128892 involves stabilizing directional audio from a moving microphone array. It relates to the field of audio beamforming; and more specifically, to the aiming of audio beamforming.

The patent involves a device that includes a microphone array fixed to the device. A signal processor produces an audio output using audio beamforming with input from the microphone array. The signal processor aims the beamforming in a selected direction. An orientation sensor--such as a compass, an accelerometer, or an inertial sensor--is coupled to the signal processor. The orientation sensor detects a change in the orientation of the microphone array and provides an orientation signal to the signal processor for adjusting the aim of the beamforming to maintain the...

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May 27
Greg's bite: Could Apple's iTunes Store fix...

By Greg Mills

I just finished buying airline tickets for my wife, daughter and myself to fly to Florida for my sister-in-law's wedding. I hate the tricks, extra fees and taxes that get tacked on after you think you have a good deal. Apple has a way of fixing the most egregious tasks we face and making it as close to fun as spending money can be.  

The current system for buying airline tickets on-line is nuts. You have tons of web sites that claim to be the cheapest all, clamoring to sell the same seats, all at different prices. It has
been said that normally, passengers on the same flight have paid as many as 10 different prices for the very same flight. To me that sounds like a system failure.  

Part of the problem is the stupid hub system where you can't fly anywhere without changing planes at a hub. I have flown from Kansas City to Atlanta just to get on a flight to Los Angeles.

The airlines churn ticket prices to the point...

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May 27
Safari and the prospect of 'official'...

John Gruber of "Daring Fireball" (http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/05/25/chrome-beta) hints that Apple might release a "proper extension API" (application programming interface) for Safari at June's Worldwide Developer Conference. I hope he's right. It's long overdue since both Firefox and Chrome offer extensions.

Still, it's hard to imagine Apple "opening up" its web browser, since Jobs & Company like to have near-total control over all their products and technologies. On the other hand, Firefox and Chrome have both put the pressure on Safari, and the ability to tweak the Safari experience as you'd like would certainly appeal to a lot of users.

Extensions are software add-ons for web browsers. Among the bazillion Firefox and Chrome extensions are ones that let you: do screen captures, prevent Flash content from running without...

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May 26
Greg's bite: Microsoft reorganizing due to...

By Greg Mills

The news is full of Microsoft reorganization stories.  "The Wall Street Journal" and others report poor numbers on everything Microsoft in the mobile division except the Xbox -- which is not mobile anyway.  

The famously lame Windows Mobile OS sank from 10.2% of the market to 6.8% in the last year. Keep in mind, there are "smart phones" out there that can only run the Microsoft OS and are thus stuck with the OS until the day the phone is trashed. The decline is due to the lack of new phones running the Windows OS being sold. The numbers can only tank further since the iPhone has gone viral.

Has anyone hear of a cell phone called "KIN"? According to "Wired", Microsoft launched a smart phone by that name running the Windows OS two months ago. The KIN is already a flop as Amazon has discounted the more powerful versions by 50% and cut the low end KIN down to one cent with a contract for service.

Not only has an in-house cell...

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May 26
There's life in those CDs, DVDs still

Okay, so maybe I'm not such a dinosaur after all. "Macworld UK" (http://www.macworld.co.uk/digitallifestyle/news/index.cfm?newsid=3224278) reports that a Hewlett Packard survey of over 1,000 UK consumers, aged between 16 and 60, shows that, despite the rise of services such as iTunes, folks (besides me) still like their CDs and DVDs.

HP's survey found that 86% of the population access some form of digital media, the survey revealed consumers attach very little monetary or emotional value to the digital content they own. For example, 68% of consumers still prefer photographs to be physical rather than digital. Sixty-four percent prefer CDs over MP3s and downloads when purchasing music. And 75% preferred DVDs when it came to films, while a massive 95% still prefer reading books traditionally.


Not...

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May 25
Apple patents involve Final Cut Pro, the iPhone,...

Apple has been granted patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving Final Cut Pro, the iPhone and laptop housing. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7,725,828 is for the application of speed effects to a video presentation. Some embodiments provide a method of specifying speed effects for playing a video clip. The method defines a set of speed effects for the video clip. It then displays in real-time a presentation of the video clip that accounts for the set of speed effects defined for the video clip. In some embodiments, this method represents the playback speed of a video clip in terms of a graph that is part of a graphical user interface ("GUI"). This graph is defined along two axes, with one axis representing the playback time, and the other axis representing the content-time (i.e., the time within the video clip). In these embodiments, a user can change the playback speed of the video clip by using a set of GUI operations to...

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May 25
The iPad, Curated Computing and a closed Mac

A lot has been made of last week's forecast by RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky that predicts Apple is now selling more iPads than Macs. And it's garnered some speculation that we may see Macs that are more iPad-like.

Abramsky says that, by his estimates, Apple sells more than 200,000 iPads per week in the U.S., a total greater than the estimated 110,000 Macs sold stateside every seven days. Obviously, people love the Apple tablet, as well as the iPhone and iPod touch, so I do think we'll see future Macs that adopt features from the iPhone OS.

In fact, Forrester Research (http://www.alacrastore.com/research/forrester-Apple_s_iPad_Is_A_New_Kind...) says the iPad will ushers in a new era of "Curated Computing" -- a mode of computing in which choice is constrained to...

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May 25
Greg's bite: the secret to Apple's lower R...

By Greg Mills

As an inventor and R&D guy myself, it comes as no surprise to me that Apple is spending far less for its research than it's competitors. We ran an article yesterday with numbers that
put Apple's R&D expenditures at one-seventh that of Microsoft with similar market caps between the companies.  

Look at what is coming out of the two companies and you wonder how Microsoft is blowing so much money. The truth is that Apple is just innovating better at a low cost, not that Microsoft is wasting so much more than typical companies their size.

The difference between the two  companies is like comparing the Zune to iPod touch. The conventional method of R&D is to put a rough product idea before the brain trust and ask them to do it better. The problem for Microsoft in competing with Apple is that by the time Microsoft identifies the next big thing, Apple has already done it so well it is hard to improve. By the time you...

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May 24
Greg's bite: video out limitations on the iPad

By Greg Mills

I love my iPad, but I am finding that there are some limitations I didn't expect. I was planning to buy an Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter but read the reviews first on the Apple store info page for iPad.

The reviews all expressed frustration that the US$29 device will only output a VGA video signal for specific apps. That has killed my interest in it for the time being.

So far Keynote, the Movie App from Apple that comes on the iPad and Netflix are about it for that function. Clearly, the issue is software and has to be allowed by each app that does that trick. I put out feelers to find out, but hopefully future iPad OS incarnations will allow full display mirroring.

Showing your video or screen on a video projector or a TV screen with the exact display seen on the iPad is sort of an expected ability. I have used that feature with my MacBook Pro on occasion. That way I can use Safari and web sites to document...

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May 24
The iPad is changing the info, entertainment...

The iPad is causing the entertainment and information industries to undergo a paradigm shift in the delivery of content and services to consumers, according to a new report from Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com).

The impact started on day one. Apple said it sold over 300,000 the first day the iPad went on sale in the US and that over one million iPad apps were downloaded. With the iPad, Apple created a leisure media device that is at home curled up on the couch for a relaxing read, propped up in the kitchen as a helpful digital cookbook or playing a movie in the bedroom.

Content producers and owners are no longer limited to stationary TV sets, mobile phones with tiny screens or computers that place entertainment in a secondary role. The major TV networks, online video services, newspapers, magazines and book publishers are turning the iPad into a hybrid TV/...

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May 21
Greg's bite: Apple and the cool factor

By Greg Mills

No one who ever sees many movies or TV programs could possibly miss the many placement of Apple products on the screen. The cool factor that Apple has cultured is passed on to actors who appear to use a Mac.  

From "Forest Gump," whose money man purchased stock for him in a "fruit company" (Apple) and made him rich, to "Independence Day" where a virus to implode the alien invasion was implemented with a Mac, the use of a Mac instead of a PC means something.

The chic factor that surrounds anything with the Apple logo on it puts the product and the user into the aura of coolness. While HP had to pay Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City" to switch to an HP PC, most Apple placements in movies and TV shows are not paid appearances. Apple does donate products for placement but does not pay for them to be shown, per se. That coolness factor is worth billions and was carefully cultured by the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" advertising campaign...

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May 20
Say hi to Google TV; hey, Apple, time to get serious...

If Apple is going to move the Apple TV beyond the "hobby" stage, now would be a great time to do it. Google has entered the web video format arena with the introduction of its WebM format, which will integrate both web browsing and cable TV with one device running its Android operating system.

Said device is slated for a fall debut -- and, make no mistake, it will be a competitor to the Apple TV. In fact, if Apple doesn't start taking its own product seriously (browser support, anyone?), Google TV could be an Apple TV killer.

Thursday at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco, some leading industry players teamed up to announce the development of Google TV, an open platform that adds the power of the web to the television viewing experience with the goal of ushering in a new category of devices for the living room. Intel, Sony, and Logitech, together with Best Buy, DISH Network and Adobe, have joined Google on stage to announce their support for Google TV....

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May 20
Apple looking into contextual ads on iDevices

Future iPhones, iPod touches and iPads could serve up advertisements or discount coupons to users based on their current location or activity, per a new Apple patent (number 20100125492) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is for a system and method for providing contextual advertisements according to a dynamic pricing scheme. Systems, methods, and devices for providing electronic advertisements according to a dynamic pricing scheme are provided. For example, a method for providing an electronic advertisement according to a dynamic pricing scheme may include transmitting an advertisement to an electronic device belonging to a user and receiving marketing factors indicating a likelihood that the user will be receptive to the advertisement.

The advertisement may be configured for display on the electronic device and at least one of the marketing factors may be received from the electronic device. A price for providing the advertisement to the target...

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May 20
Apple patent involves audio beamforming

An Apple patent (number 20100123785) involving a graphic control for directional audio input has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates to invention relate to the field of audio beamforming, and more specifically, to the aiming of audio beamforming.

A device to provide an audio output includes a microphone array, a signal processor, and a graphic user interface (GUI). The signal processor is coupled to the microphone array to perform audio beamforming with input from the microphone array. The GUI is coupled to the signal processor to display a plurality of audio sources, to receive a selection of at least one of the plurality of audio sources from a user, and to provide the selection to the signal processor for aiming the audio beamforming toward the selected audio source. The selection may be made by touching the display.

The device may further include a camera and the GUI may display an image received from the camera as the...

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May 20
Apple patents hint at Apple TV updates

For those hoping for a long-overdue update/overhaul to the Apple TV, two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office offer hope. They hint at future Apple TVs that can be controlled by HDTVs and DVRs, as well as some iPhone/iPad-ish features.

Patent 20100123834 is for a system and method for capturing remote control device signals. The invention relates to media processing devices, and to systems and methods for capturing by a media processing device remote control device command signals, such as navigation and playback commands, from a plurality of remote control devices.

Methods, systems, and apparatus for learning remote control command signals by a media processing device. In one aspect, a method includes activating a learning mode of operation, presenting an instruction to actuate a control associated with a secondary remote control device, capturing a command signal transmitted by the secondary remote control device while the learning mode is...

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May 19
I'm dubious of a change in Apple's Final Cut...

AppleInsider said that Apple's Final Cut Studio suite of video post production apps is getting a "significant makeover to better target the software to the mainstream of Apple's customer base rather than high end professionals." The site may be right, but I just can't see it happening for a couple of reasons.

Quoting "a person with knowledge of Apple's internal Pro Apps plans," "AppleInsider" says Apple has shuffled around management within the Final Cut team in order to retarget its efforts to more closely match the needs of the majority of its customers. Apple's Mac customer base has steadily shifted from desktop models to notebooks, while also broadening out from a high end creative niche to a wider installed base that includes more prosumer and advanced home users, the article adds.

That's true. But it seems to be that there's little sense behind a major tweak in the Final Cut Pro strategy for two reasons:

One: Final Cut Pro is a...

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May 19
Opinion: betting against Apple is historically...

The story of major cell phone companies that dismissed the iPhone rank among the business decision nightmares that rank way up the list on the worst business decision ever. When business classes list the biggest blunders of the history of business, the biggest might well be IBM's screwup that inflicted Microsoft on the world ... sort of like a long term tech plague.

IBM's early PC entry needed an operating system, and the genius brain trust at IBM figured they wouldn't sell enough of them to warrant writing the software themselves. So they offered Bill Gates the chance to write and sell the system software that would run on the new PC. If IBN had simply written a system software package for their hardware, Microsoft might not have occurred.   

Another blunder: Adobe figured Apple was not the highest priority and took their sweet time launching Mac OS X software. Consequently, they got left in the lurch when the OS took off.  Now they are seeing the error of their ways...

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May 19
OmniVision image sensor sounds like an Apple product...

OmniVision Technologies (http://www.ovt.com ) has introduced the OV2720, the world's first 1/6-inch, native 1080p/30 high-definition (HD) CMOS image sensor designed for notebook, netbook, webcam and video conferencing applications. Hmmm, sounds like something we might see in future Apple laptops -- or perhaps a next gen iPad.

Based on OmniVision's 1.4 micron OmniBSI backside illumination technology, the new 1080p sensor delivers video conference quality HD video recording in a small enough form factor to meet the module size and height requirements of today's thin notebook designs. The OV2720 is currently sampling with multiple tier-one customers and is slated to go into mass production in June.

iChat capabilities were expected by some in the first version of the iPad. Of course, that didn't happen. But we could see it in iPad version 2.0. Also, it sounds as if the OmniVision sensor migtt allow for higher def...

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May 18
Apple patents involve DVDs, query results, more

Several Apple patents appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office today. Here's an overview. Patent number 7,720,354 involves embedded access for digital versatile disc (DVD) independent of DVD player software.

An operating system extension is used to implement embedded information on a DVD. The operating system extension examines DVD sector addresses requested from the DVD hardware. When address associated with an embedded link is requested, an application program that can run the embedded link is started, and the embedded link is provided to the application program. The system of the present invention has the advantage that it does not require modifying the DVD software program and thus can be used with a variety of different DVD software programs. The inventors are Freddier Geier and Stefan Bauer-Schwan.

Patent number 7,720,860 is for query result iteration. Systems and methods for processing an index are described. A pulse...

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May 18
Could AT&T's HSPA+ plans convince me to buy a...

Could this be the move that finally makes me get an iPhone? AT&T is purportedly planning on upgrading its wireless network to support the faster HSPA+ protocol, and plans to make the service available to some 250 million customers in 2010.

Currently, I've not bought an iPhone due to the crappy AT&T wireless service in my neck of the woods. Truthfully, I've been holding out for a Verizon-based Apple phone. Can AT&T change my mind?

News of the planned network upgrade came from AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey at a Reuters event, reports "Engadget" (http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/14/atandt-to-cover-about-250m-people-wit... ). This could means lots more iPhone 3GS owners could be able to access Internet-based content faster by the end of the year....

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May 17
Despite war with Adobe, Apple promotes CS5

Anyone who follows Apple news is well aware that the Cupertino company's relationship with Adobe has been very rough as of late. For a long time Apple has refused to allow Flash on the iPhone, and, more recently, Apple amended its iPhone developer agreement to prevent cross-compilation of apps shortly before the release of Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) which includes a feature to do just that.  

Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Adobe co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock have written open letters to the world expressing their disagreement with each other's viewpoints. So imagine my shock when I saw a promotional e-mail in my inbox yesterday from Apple titled "The all-new Adobe Creative Suite 5. Get yours today."

This was crazy! How on earth could Apple, in the midst of a war of words and opinions with Adobe, invite all of its own e-mail subscribers to buy an Adobe product, especially CS5 -- one of the software packages that Apple recently banned from being able to make...

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May 17
Opinion: Apple mobile hardware's lousy fluid...

As a mindless Apple fan boy, I am quick to tout the coolness of Apple products but tend to wink at vulnerabilities.  Sorry about that, but the worst Apple product exceeds the garbage the competition puts out most of the time. 

Today's op-ed piece, however, will blast Apple in a way I never have before. In many respects Apple hardware exceeds the rest of the industry in quality and durability. Apple customer service is generally incredibly helpful and they go the extra mile for customers. Still, there are a couple of areas where improvement could be made.

I read with some degree of empathy about runners who sweated while caring their iPhones in their pockets. They took the moist iPhones back only to be rebuffed by Apple repair service, due to "fluid damage." While it is not a reasonable expectation to go scuba diving with an iPhone, it seems like greater humidity resistance could be achieved across the board. The reason laptops, iPhones and iPads are cool is because...

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May 17
More 100-year-olds using new technology

Forget the cliche that you can't teach old dogs new tricks. Evercare by UnitedHealthcare has released its fifth annual Evercare 100@100TM Survey (http://www.Evercare100at100.com), and it blows that cliche away.

The national poll of 100 Americans turning 100 years of age or older this year reveals that centenarians are staying connected to family, friends, current events and pop culture and are increasingly using the latest technologies, including text messages, IMs and iPods, compared with two years ago.

More than 80% of the centenarians surveyed say they talk to/communicate with a friend or family member daily. The survey also uncovered an increase in the number of centenarians who say they are using text messaging, IMs, iPods and other technologies.

Eight percent of centenarians surveyed say they have sent someone a text message or an instant message, compared to just 1%...

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May 14
Opinion: iPad is a revolutionary device seeking its...

Well, I've had my iPad a week now and I am still struggling with the billion dollar question: what do I do with it? I have an iPad, iPhone and a MacBook Pro, so which device do I use for which tasks? There is redundancy in many functions, such as email, among my multiple devices.

The same general question came up when the laptop replaced the desktop commuter for most of us. As laptops became more powerful and sported larger screens, the convenience of being able to fold it in half and carry with you became the preferred computer form for many people. Laptops now outsell desktops. (An aside: I wish MacBooks more water resistant due to the risks of the mobile world.) Wireless Wi-Fi, powerful new chips and a meaningful battery life made that happen. You know Steve Jobs and the crew at Apple are thinking the same thing. But what does the iPad replace?

I have been carrying my new iPad with me these days and find that it's really nice for checking email and checking my...

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May 14
Hey, Apple, beef up the input resolution capability of...

I'm still hoping a future iMac will offer Blu-ray playback, at least as a build-to-order option. I also hope said upgrade will improve its support for input resolutions. Especially if Blu-ray support isn't coming.

The EDID (extended display identification data) embedded in the iMac display only accepts two input resolutions: 2560 x 1440 and 1280 x 720. This limits its effectiveness with a device such as the Kanex XD, which lets you connect a PlayStation 3, Xbox or Blu-ray player to a 27-inch iMac and use it as a display for these gadgets.

The first resolution isn't supported by PS3 and Xbox because the highest resolution output supported on those is 1920 x 1080, or 1080p. Since the iMac doesn't recognize 1080p input resolution, the sources must be set to 720p for proper video pass-through and for the iMac to recognize. No biggie when it comes to the video games consoles, but a disappointment if you want to watch Blu-ray movies via the Kanex XD, in all their 1080p...

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May 13
Future Apple products could have carbon composite mold...

An Apple patent (number 20100119634) for a carbon composite mold design has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to the formation of carbon composite based components, and, more particularly, to the use of molds to form such carbon composite based components.

A mold assembly or system includes a moldbase that holds mold inserts and has embedded fluid lines to facilitate cooling during part formation. Mold inserts combine to form mold cavities that receive carbon fiber and resin components to form a carbon composite based part. A permanent release coating along a mold component surface that contacts the carbon fiber and resin components facilitates the release of the finished part from the mold component.

Guide pins and guide pin receiving holes facilitate accurate alignment of mold components. Ejector pins within respective ejector pin shafts help eject a finished part from a respective mold component. An ejector pin shaft...

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May 13
Apple patent reflects location-based iPhone service

An Apple patent (number 20100120450) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that hints at a location-based service for the iPhone. It relates to location specific content on a mobile device.

Systems, methods, and computer program products communicate location information associated with a device, such as a mobile device, to a server. Content identified by the server is received at the device, from the server and/or from a content service. The content can include an application associated with the location information. The content received at the device is displayed on the device only while the device is at or near a particular location identified by the location information. The inventor is Scott Herz.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Mobile devices have grown more powerful and feature-rich and now include such features as personal digital assistant (PDA) capabilities, cameras, Internet access, Wi-Fi access, etc. Software...

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May 13
Apple eyeing 3D display system

3D is all the rage at the movies and more vendors are making 3D HDTVs for the home. And Apple has noticed. A patent (number 200118118) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a three dimensional display system.

Per the patent a three-dimensional display system would provide a projection screen having a predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function. Three-dimensional images are respectively modulated in coordination with the predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function to define a programmable mirror with a programmable deflection angle. The inventor is Christoph H. Krah.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Modern three-dimensional (3D) display technologies are increasingly popular and practical not only in computer graphics, but in other diverse environments and technologies as well. Growing examples include medical diagnostics, flight simulation, air traffic control, battlefield simulation, weather...

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May 13
The iPad won't kill Apple's products, but it...

Some folks are predicting that the iPad will kill off many of Apple's products since the company is touting the "magical device" as having features of laptops, netbooks, ebook readers, iPods and more. The iPad won't kill off many Apple products (though if I were the MacBook Air and iPod touch, I'd be worried) but it will change them.

Survey data from Alphawise, Morgan Stanley's internal research team, indicate that iPad sales are hurting sales of the iPod and the MacBook. The survey shows that 44% of iPad buyers had chosen it over a laptop. Of that number, 24% had foregone buying a MacBook while the other 20% had nixed a PC notebook purchase. The survey also found that 27% of users would not buy a desktop as a result of their iPad purchase, with 14% of those not buying a Mac desktop, and the other 13% passing on a PC.

What's more, earlier this year, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster surveyed 448 iPad buyers and found that 99 % of respondents had not considered...

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May 13
Verizon, Apple, the iPhone: will they, wont' they...

We're still playing the "will they or won't they?" guessing game as to if and/or when there might be a Verizon version of the iPhone. But I think -- or maybe I'm just hoping -- that we'll see one sooner rather than later.

The rumor mill is abuzz that Landor Associates is working on an advertising campaign” for Verizon for an upcoming iPhone. "CrunchGear" (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/05/11/rumor-landor-associates-working-on-...) says that Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch.

This suggests a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer, but goes against another round of reports that say that Apple and AT&T's...

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May 12
Will the iPad go mass market?

The iPad is unlikely to reach mass market anytime soon according to Simpson Carpenter (http://www.simpsoncarpenter.com/), a UK research group. All of the iPad’s perceived advantages were seen to be filling a niche or too use-case specific, such as reading eBooks, consuming content on the train, or making presentations, notes "TechCrunch" (http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/05/12/report-the-ipad-wont-go-mass-market-...) reporting on the group's study.

Also, while the majority of those interviewed thought the iPad had the "wow factor," they couldn’t justify the purchase price, the article adds. “In our view the iPad will take longer to achieve the sales growth and wider market impact of the iPhone," says...

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May 12
Verizon, Apple, the iPhone: will they, wont' they...

We're still playing the "will they or won't they?" guessing game as to if and/or when there might be a Verizon version of the iPhone. But I think -- or maybe I'm just hoping -- that we'll see one sooner rather than later.

The rumor mill is abuzz that Landor Associates is working on an advertising campaign for Verizon for an upcoming iPhone. "CrunchGear" (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/05/11/rumor-landor-associates-working-on-...) says that Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch.

This suggests a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer, but goes against another round of reports that say that Apple and AT&T's...

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May 11
Apple patent shows horizontal/vertical docking station

At least iPods, iPhones and iPads work in both vertical and horizontal orientations -- and Apple wants you to be able to dock 'em in either position. A patent (number 7,715,187) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that involves methods and apparatuses for docking a portable device that has a planar like configuration and that operates in multiple orientations.

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

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic devices include a docking station for providing a convenient interface for transferring data between the electronic device...

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May 11
Apple patents involve senors, computer systems, linked...

Three Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 7,714,265 is for an integrated proximity sensor and light sensor. Apparatuses and methods to sense proximity and to detect light. In one embodiment, an apparatus includes an emitter of electromagnetic radiation and a detector of electromagnetic radiation; the detector has a sensor to detect electromagnetic radiation from the emitter when sensing proximity, and to detect electromagnetic radiation from a source other than the emitter when sensing visible light. The emitter may be disabled at least temporarily to allow the detector to detect electromagnetic radiation from a source other than the emitter, such as ambient light. In one implementation, the ambient light is measured by measuring infrared wavelengths. Also, a fence having a non-IR transmissive material disposed between the emitter and the detector to remove electromagnetic radiation...

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May 11
Seeking the right posture using the iPad

Now that it has been "hands on" for a few days with iPad, the issue of posture while using the device comes into play. It is sort of an acknowledgment that how you hold the iPad is a user
issue, coming from the screen orientation lock switch -- which, from what I read, was added or finalized late in the development process.  

While the gravity oriented screen is cool, it you are reading in bed, holding the iPad so that the screen is horizontal is a nice touch. That feature could have been software based from the settings screen, but it would have been a major hassle to lock and unlock the screen when going from a prone position to sitting up.

While iPad is not really heavy, holding it at the right distance from the eyes does get tiring. I find myself propping it up a lot. I invested in a silicone cover that keeps it from sliding when inclined.  The keyboard docking station combo Apple is offering really supports the laptop mode of use. I have found the touch key...

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May 11
A couple of things Apple should fix

Overall, I like my Apple products. However, there are at least two things I'd love to see Apple fix immediately: a) the miserable way of sharing Pages files between an iPad and a Mac, and b) iMovie.

The British term "rubbish" (and some even less complimentary terms) comes to mind when I try to sync documents between iWork on the iPad and Mac. In fact, it's the main reason that I think the iPad is ill suited to anything beyond rudimentary content creation (though it's great for content consumption).

In fact, you can't really sync Pages documents at all. You must manually import and export them from the iPad. Not only is this cumbersome and very "un-Apple-like," but it creates versioning problems.

To export a document from the iPad, you must first open Pages on the iPad, go to the “My Documents” area, choose the document you want to transfer to your Mac and export it in the format of your choosing. Then connect the tablet device to your Mac with the sync cable....

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May 10
Hands off my iPad

Friday morning the FedEx truck pulled into our driveway and set the stage for the turf war over the new iPad to begin. Ironically, later on the same day I had to turn my workhorse MacBook Pro in at the Apple store due to a one pixel wide vertical line that just showed up on the display the other day.

A bit of research indicated it was the dreaded graphics card defect common to some older MacBook Pros. I got in under the three-year deadline for a free repair. As I told the Genius at the Apple store who asked me if I could get along without my laptop for a week, well, I just got my new iPad ....  So here I am, with only my new iPad and iPhone to do my computing for a whole week.

My first impressions are that Apple has another sound hit. The device is impressive and addictive in the extreme. My 10-year-old is one of those kids who has grown up around computers. She talked me into giving her an old iPhone for Christmas with the ploy, "Dad, if I had an iPod touch I wouldn'...

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May 10
Initial 3D TV tests find that images pop -- but there...

There's been a lot of hype surrounding the launch of 3D TV, but is the new technology worth buying right away? I'm dying to buy one (assuming I had the moolah, which I don't).

"Consumer Reports" tested several new sets in its labs -- the first hands-on evaluation outside the manufacturers' facilities -- and found that the sets live up to their advance billing, but the average consumer shouldn't rush out to buy one. The results of the magazine's tests of two Samsung LCD sets and a Panasonic plasma TV with 3D capability are impressive. Full results are published in the June issue on newsstands May 4 and online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org. In a nutshell, the 3D images had excellent depth, color, and high-def details, creating a compelling 3D picture as good as a movie theater.

However, for consumers who are satisfied with their current HDTV and aren't burning to have the latest...

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May 07
Traditional book retailers face trilogy of threats

Today’s reader can “curl up with a good book” in a variety of non-traditional ways -- library books, e-books, or books bought online. All these choices, however, threaten the health of traditional brick-and-mortar book retailers.

The Mintel research firm (http://www.mintel.com) says that e-book options like the iPad and Kindle, the popularity of Amazon.com and even local libraries pose significant threats to traditional book retailers. Online book sites have cornered a significant slice of the market share that once belonged to traditional bookstores from 2007-2009, as they enjoyed a 7% increase in sales at the same time traditional retailers were hit with an almost 10% decrease. This disparity further suggests that bookstore owners must act quickly if they want to maintain the upper hand on the book retail market.

“The lower costs of ordering through the Internet, either for physical books or e-books,...

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May 06
Apple patent is for multidimensional widgets

An Apple patent (number 20100115471) for multidimensional widgets has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves, as you might guess, implementations that relate generally to graphical user interface.

Systems, methods, computer-readable mediums, user interfaces and other implementations are disclosed for implementing multidimensional widgets. A multidimensional widget is a three-dimensional object with application surfaces, and each application surface is associated with a widget function. Multidimensional widgets can be modified by adding functions or grouping with other widgets. The inventors are John O. Louch and Imran A. Chaudhri.
Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A hallmark of modern graphical user interfaces is that they allow a large number of graphical objects or items to be displayed on a display screen at the same time. Leading personal computer operating systems, such as Apple Mac OS.RTM., provide user interfaces in...

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May 06
Apple patent involves pan and zoom in video sequences

An Apple patent (number 20100110303) for a look-ahead system and method for pan and zoom detection in video sequences has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to analysis of motion in video sequences and, more particularly, to identifying pan and zoom global motion in video sequences.

The system and method use motion vectors in a reference coordinate system to identify pans and zooms in video sequences. The identification of pans and zooms enables parameter switching for improved encoding in various video standards (e.g., H.264) and improved video retrieval of documentary movies and other video sequences in video databases or other storage devices. The inventors are Adriana Dumitras and Barin G. Haskell.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The analysis of motion information in video sequences has typically addressed two largely non-overlapping applications: video retrieval and video coding. In video retrieval...

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May 06
Apple patent would let devices ID users by their heart...

Forget passwords and fingerprint technology. Apple is eyeing ways in which its devices can identity users by their heart beat. An Apple patent (number 20100113950) for a seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is directed to an electronic device having an integrated sensor for detecting a user's cardiac activity and cardiac electrical signals. The electronic device can include a heart sensor having several leads for detecting a user's cardiac signals. The leads can be coupled to interior surfaces of the electronic device housing to hide the sensor from view, such that electrical signals generated by the user can be transmitted from the user's skin through the electronic device housing to the leads. In some embodiments, the leads can be coupled to pads placed on the exterior of the housing.

The pads and housing can be finished to ensure that the pads are not visibly or haptically distinguishable on the...

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May 06
Apple patents involve power functions, hash functions...

Five Apple patents that only the most tech savvy could love (though I'm sure they're great patents) have appeared at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 20100111415 is for computations of power functions using polynomial approximations. Per the patent, a power function is approximated over an applicable data interval with polynomials determined by means of a Chebyshev minimax approximation technique. In some cases, multiple polynomials may be used to approximate the function over respective ranges of the desirable interval, in a piecewise manner. The appropriate polynomial that approximates the power function over the range of interest is derived and stored. When the power function is to be applied to a particular data value, the data value is first evaluated to determine where it lies within the applicable interval. The constants for the polynomial associated with that range of the interval are then retrieved and used...

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May 06
Note to Apple: Blu-ray is catching on

New research from The NPD Group (http://www.npd.com) shows that Blu-ray is, indeed, catching on. Which, it seems to me, shows that Apple is making a mistake in ignoring the technology.

In the home, flat-panel TVs has grown to 64% in 2009, up from 61% in 2009 while the percentage of households with two or more flat-panel televisions remained flat. The broadening penetration of HDTV coupled with lower player prices, however, proved to be a boon for standalone Blu-ray players, which nearly doubled since last year, going from just 6% in 2009 to 11% in 2010. Deep discounting during the 2009 holiday season was one key factor behind this increase.

On a related note, Wi-Fi is becoming a must-have feature across a range of devices, as network connectivity migrates into the living room, reports In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com). Digital televisions, Blu...

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May 05
Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and security

Everyone knows that Microsoft products are the main targets of malware and hackers, and Adobe products are catching up in this regard. What's more, some pundits think Apple may be next.

Marc Maiffret, co-founder and chief technical officer of eEye Digital Security, told "InfoWorld" (http://www.infoworld.com/d/security-central/the-security-hole-baton-pass...) that "most people in the Apple world have a false sense of security and an elitism."

"I took some heat recently for saying Apple was way behind Microsoft on security," he says. "Look who they just hired for security -- Window Snyder, who played a lead role in helping Microsoft turn around their security. That shows the company starting to move past the...

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May 05
Opinion: The magic of Apple is hard to replicate

I read with some amusement that Microsoft dropped their tablet concept project within a month of iPad being released. Redmond knew when they had been licked -- which was before the race even started.

A tablet PC running windows is nothing special enough to matter. Even a novel form factor and a touch version of Windows was no match for iPad. The power of the Mac OS X in various modes and the infrastructure of the iTunes store, along with the reputation of Apple hardware, was enough to trump the mediocrity we have come expect from Microsoft. Despite the bravado and mocking of Apple by Balmer and company, one only has to handle an iPad to know it is going to be game changer and the price is right.

Hiring an Apple employee has also been tied, without the desired effect. Look at Palm. Trying to match the iPhone magic has been elusive and getting enough developers to launch apps using the Palm OS has also been impossible to repeat. I think even with the virtually...

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May 04
Apple patents involve digital audio input, video...

Apple patents involving digital audio input, video acquisition and more have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a look at each of them.

Patent number 7,710,294 is for an externally clocked digital audio input, determining a valid clock and muting audio during synchronization. The present invention relates broadly to digital input in a computer device. Specifically, the present invention relates to clock synchronization in a device that supports digital audio input.

Methods and apparatus for determining the existence of an external clock over a digital input port on a computer. In one embodiment, the external clock is validated, and a lock is performed when the clock is valid. Whenever a loss of the lock is detected, and, if a re-lock is likely, the apparatus is muted so that audio artifacts that would otherwise be heard are minimized. The methods and apparatus also provide automatic re-locking to the external clock when a...

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May 04
Floating in middle Tennessee...

So many of you have emailed about how I'm doing with the recent disaster in my neck of the woods, I simply don't have time to write each and every one. But your thoughts are more appreciated than you can imagine. But here's the short version....

The Great Flood of 2010, they're calling it. Nothing great about it. Middle Tennessee got the most rain in history over the weekend and into Monday, and there were floods everywhere. Eleven people died (and maybe more; that's the tally as I write this).

So all things considered I'm lucky. Not happy, but lucky. My basement has 13 inches of water in it. My stationary bike and my Bowflex are ruined. My comic book collection is ruined. And some of my electronics stuff was ruined. In case you think I was nuts for putting all this down there, let me just say in my defense that my abode and home office is located on a HIGH hill and not in a flood plane.

Anyway, as my son Matt and I were rushing to get stuff out of the...

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May 03
TV widgets/, apps alter how folks access Internet...

Most consumer electronics (CE) device manufacturers are introducing software platforms that support widgets -- also called TV applications, reports In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com). And this sets the stage for a new market and alters how people will access Internet content -- from news, web-surfing and purchasing, to watching Netflix movies and YouTube.

TV applications are small, self-contained software programs that can be plugged into a web application to access a wide range of content. Due to their broad scope, TV apps are rapidly becoming a ubiquitous product requirement for nearly all web-enabled, consumer electronic devices.

“By 2013, TV applications have the potential to generate over $1.7 billion in annual revenue,” says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst. “Our primary research shows consumers already have a moderate interest in TV Widgets. An innovative web-enabled CE device and service from a...

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