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Oct 05
Greg's BIte: Apple expectations, Sprint

Posted by Greg Mills

The Apple rumor mill, which we at MacTech contribute to, tends to build expectations for Apple product launches that sometimes go over the top. Had Apple called the iPhone 4S the iPhone 5, there would have been a very bad buzz in the press that the update was insufficient to get the name iPhone 5. The rumors that seek to fill the information void that Apple intentionally creates, generate expectations that each product launch is the end all, do all electronic bunker-buster of all time.

Sometimes, technology in chip development, for example, holds up an Apple product. Some analysts are speculating that the LTE G4 chips available today are just too big to fit the iPhone's slender form factor. Cost is also a consideration when you are planning on building 75 million of anything. Apple has gross margins to kill for, just ask any competitor forced to sell things at a loss to be competitive with them.

The roll out of the...

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Oct 05
Some thoughts on the 'Let's Talk iPhone...

Apple held its "Let's Talk iPhone" event yesterday, so here are some random thoughts on what transpired -- and what didn't.

New CEO Tim Cook and the gang (Scott Forstall, Eddy Cue and Phil Schiller) did a fine job at the presentation. They showed that you don't have to have Steve Jobs (still the ultimate showman) to put on a gee-whiz event, especially when you divvy up the duties among such a talented bunch of Apple execs.

My crystal ball was a bit cloudy. I predicted an iPhone 5 with built-in voice technology, and perhaps a 4-inch screen and beefed up camera. The revamped iPhone was dubbed the 4S and does have built-in voice technology and an enhanced camera, but retains the 3.5-inch screen.

I predicted there would be no low-end, contract-free iPhone. There's still no contract-free Apple smartphone. However, the iPhone 4 will also be available for US$99 and the iPhone 3GS will be available for free with a two-year contract.

I predicted that Sprint and...

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Oct 04
Apple patents involve server provider activation, DMA...

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

Patent number 8032181 is for a server provider activation with subscriber identity module policy. Systems and methods for activating a mobile device for use with a service provider are described. In one exemplary method, a mobile device having a currently inserted SIM card may be prepared for activation using a signing process in which an activation server generates a signed activation ticket encoded with SIM policy data that corresponds to the combination of the device and one of a number of SIM cards belonging to a set of SIM cards defined by the SIM policy data.

The activation ticket is securely stored on the mobile device. In another exemplary method the mobile device may be activated in an activation process in which the device verifies an activation ticket against information specific to the device and SIM card in accordance with the...

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Oct 04
What I'm expecting at Apple's 'Let...

Apple will hold a special "Let's Talk iPhone" event today at 10 am Pacific. Topics rumored to be discussed and/or unveiled include iOS 5, iCloud, an iPhone 5, an iPhone 4S, iPod updates and Apple TV updates.

Here's what I'm predicting:

° An iPhone 5 with 1GB of RAM, built-in voice technology, and perhaps a 4-inch screen and beefed up camera.

° No low-end, contract-free iPhone 4S.

° The announcement of Sprint and T-Mobile as iPhone carriers.

° A specific release date for iOS 5 and iCloud (though they won't roll out today).

° New iPod touches and iPod nanos. No Apple TV updates.

We'll be covering today's special event so check back in and see how well my crystal ball works.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Oct 03
Greg's Bite: Zune is dead, Sprint gambles the farm

By Greg Mills

The high tech miracle, a true cosmic wonder (pictured in the brown jacket), has officially been rendered obsolete. Actually, the high tech wonder on the right is the now obsolete item, Microsoft's Zune Music Player. Bill Gates, also wearing a brown jacket, shown on the left, is still alive and doing his best to spend his money well, as Ballmer is doing his best to run Microsoft further into the ground. I wonder if Gates will relent now and allow his kids to own an Apple iPod now that the Zune is dead?

The history of Microsoft's Zune is similar to a street with so many pot holes the notion of it ever having been blacktop is long forgotten. The Zune was to be the Microsoft carbon copy of Apple's iPod and allow Microsoft to make a lot of money selling Zunes and music on-line. The Zune never really took hold in the market place. Microsoft could clone the electronics, but not the Steve Jobs sizzle, the chemistry that made everyone want an...

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Oct 03
The Northern Spy: looking at HP, RIM, Nokia and more

By Rick Sutcliffe

Hewlett Packard appears to have taken comments made here last month seriously enough to take defensive measures. But let's be realistic.
First, changing CEOs at this juncture (nearly 50% share value lost) is like tossing a single sandbag into the raging torrent pouring through a broken dyke.

Second, hiring Goldman Sachs Group to plan a takeover prevention strategy is a whistling in the wind. As the Spy said, they have transformed themselves from predator to prey. What remains to be seen once the various interested parties have done their due diligence is whether the takeover attention will come from a turnaround specialist, a breakup artist, or someone in the industry for whom the technology, talents, and patents have residual value.

Third, when you are but reactively defending against the consequences of your own errors and failures, you tend to create more new problems than you fix old ones.

Fourth, can HP (or...

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Oct 03
Tech can't fill all the needs of life

A recent Cisco Systems survey found that video systems and interaction are taking an increasingly larger portion of a person’s day and overall life.

Workplace chaplains employed by Marketplace Chaplains USA are finding that while everything is changing, becoming more efficient and moving faster, some things don't change. Personal chaplain interaction with employees is the best solution for helping each one with the many personal problems hindering workplace progress and efficiency.

In the Cisco survey, Senior Vice President Marthin De Beer, said most people and employees use video technology to access essential and professional services.

"Video is happening and it’s happening today," he said in his report. By comparison, more than 2,500 Marketplace Chaplains in 43 states serving more than 2,400 client locations report most employees still seek out chaplains for face-to-face discussions about the hurts, joys and hopes of life.

"The fact a chaplain has...

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Oct 02
Greg's Bite: iPhone leaks galore

By Greg Mills

As I write this Sunday morning early, all the Apple news sites and a lot of regular news sites are running leaked information about the iPhone launch, scheduled for Tuesday. The normally tight new product security has been breeched by even Apple in a couple of ways. What seems clear is that Apple is moving to capture greater market share with more cellular carriers to be offering iPhones and with both a lower end and higher end offering. The iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 appear to be the two new iPhone models to be announced Tuesday.

There are two main markets the cellular carriers all support. They call the two plans "post-paid" and "pre-paid." Generally, the post-paid segment is the cream of the crop and the real money for the networks. This is the plan with a contract, generally for two years, where you get a red hot deal on a phone, or a free cell phone in exchange for signing up. With iPhones, you just pay a portion of the cost of the...

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Sep 30
The iPod classic, shuffle probably coming to an end

A new rumor underscores what I've suspected for some time: the iPod classic and iPod shuffle are coming to an end.

The former -- though the very best value in iPods (160GB for US$250) -- uses a hard disk drive -- and Apple's current, true love in storage is sold state drives. As for the shuffle, it's basically an iPod nano without a screen.

I'll miss the iPod classic. It bears the most resemblance to the original iPod. It goes back about 10 years and has seen six generations. So take a bow, iPod classic, you've served us well.

As for the iPod shuffle, I've never owned one and never seen the point. I like my digital music players to have screens, so I can have more options. The shuffle debuted in 2005 and has gone through four generations.

If you're a shuffle fan, feel free to scoop some up before (assuming I'm right) they disappear. As for me, well, sorry, iPod shuffle, but I hardly knew you.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 30
Greg's Bite: RIM pulls the plug on PlayBook?

By Greg Mills

Rumors that RIM is pulling the plug on PlayBook and letting hundreds more employees go have been denied by RIM. Collins Stewart analyst John Vinh thinks the PlayBook is about over. He wrote that RIM has “stopped production” of the tablet and is “actively considering” getting out of the tablet market. This rumor was supported by those in the know in Asia, so there must be something to the rumors ...

However, rumors aside, prices for RIM's PlayBook at Best Buy have been cut again, down from US$499 to $399 to $299. The latest cut was to respond to the Amazon Kindle Fire that will sell for $200. It is thought Amazon will lose about $50 each on every Kindle Fire they sell.

You don't cut prices on products that are selling well. You cut the prices to unload soon to be discontinued products. (See...

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Sep 29
Apple to beef up head-to-head comparisons in online...

Patent number 20110238699 at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on head-to-head comparison features for its online stores.

The invention provides a comparison of a set of similar items includes: receiving from a first member of an online community a selection of a stored prior comparison created by another online community member of a set of similar items; providing to the first member a template for the comparison, the template being at least partially pre-populated using data from the stored prior comparison created by the other online community member; and receiving from the first member a submission of the comparison, wherein the comparison includes one or more modifications as made by the first member to the template. The inventors of the patent are Kenneth N. Chang, David A. Koski, Pedraum R. Pardehpoosh and Ralph E. Zazula.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In the context of online stores, a user or...

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Sep 29
Apple eyeing gyro-facilitated video stabilization

Apple is working on a control system for video processors that selectively control the operation of motion stablization processes, per a new patent (number 20110234825) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

According to the invention, motion sensor data indicative of motion of a mobile device may be received and processed. A determination may be made by comparing processed motion sensor data to a threshold. Based on the determination, motion stabilization may be suspended on select portions of a captured video sequence. The inventors are Yuxin Liu, Xiaojin Shi, James Oliver Normile and Hsi-Jung Wu.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Video stabilization is a class of video processing that removes unwanted shakiness from videos captured from portable camera devices such as smart phones, personal entertainment systems laptop computers and/or camcorder. The goal of video stabilization is to revise an original video sequence to mimic a sequence...

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Sep 29
Apple looking into wireless interference mitigation

Apple is working on ways to lessen wireless interference on devices such as the iPhone, per a new patent (number 20110237246) for "Wireless Interference Mitigation" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent involves mitigating interference in a mobile wireless communication device by using an estimation of the performance impact of interfering signals generated by a wireless cellular transmitter and received by a co-located wireless local area network receiver. Wireless local area network frequency band usage is modified based on the performance impact estimation and the state of the wireless cellular and wireless local area network connections.

The estimation accounts for properties of the wireless cellular transmitter and wireless local area network receiver as well as operational characteristics of the wireless cellular and wireless local area network connections. Indranil Sen is the inventor.

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

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Sep 29
Apple is working on a hybrid drive

A new Apple patent (number 20110238887) has popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office, showing that Apple is working on a hybrid drive that combines hard disk drive (HDD) and flash memory elements.

Per the patent, a hybrid storage device that includes a hard-disk drive and a flash memory is described. When control logic in the hybrid storage device receives a request from an external device to write a block of data to a logical address in a first portion of an address space that maps to the HDD, the control logic writes the block of data to the HDD.

However, if there is a change in environmental state information of the hybrid storage device during the write operation, the control logic writes at least a portion of the block of data to a logical address for the block of data in a second portion of the address space which maps to the flash memory. Note that the address space may be common to the external device and the hybrid storage device. Khalu Bazzani is...

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Sep 29
Greg's Bite: Kindle Fire not an iPad Killer

By Greg Mills

The web is loaded today with Kindle Fire news stories, some suggesting the dread iPad killer has landed ... Not really, not for a lot of reasons. A souped-up book reader that can also run a version of the Android OS, but has a small screen and lackluster features isn't comparable to the iPad.

As Steve Jobs noted, the smaller size screen reduces actual square inches of usable surface on an inverse squared. Smaller screen sizes were tested at Apple and rejected. Keep in mind, there are rumors that the new iPhone will sport a larger screen and sort of fill-that-gap in the product line defined by the Kindle Fire. I submit that the next direction screen sizes will go is up, not down.

Apple will also introduce retina iPad screens sooner than later. The higher resolution doesn't mean much until you compare regular TV to HDTV. Wow, what a difference it makes.

Remember a year ago when the electronics shows were full of iPad...

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Sep 29
iPad killing computer sales? Not Mac sales anyway

The common theory is that the iPad is killing personal computer sales. Actually, that doesn't seem to be the case. It's killing PC sales on some levels, but not Macs.

In fact, two CitiGroup surveys conducted November, before the iPad 2 was released, at least hints at the possibility that tablet popularity increases receptivity to other gadgets. In a November 2010 survey (before the iPad 2 was released) 3% of survey respondents said they owned a tablet.

In a new survey by Citigroup, that number jumped to 18%. Interestingly, computer ownership also jumped, from 62% to 81%. And smartphone ownership increased from 28% to 59%.

Instead of cannibalizing computer sales, the iPad may actually be making more folks more comfortable with technology. That means more Mac and iPhone sales.

Peecees? Well, not so much.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 28
Apple, let's fix this full-screen glitch in Lion

Overall, I like Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion"), but aside from having to re-learn gestures, which have gone "natural," the multi-display, full screen situation is a major pain.

Go full screen with an app -- and Apple has highly touted the full screen feature -- and a second or third display attached to your Mac goes kablooey. You just get an empty, gray linen-like background on all but your main screens.

This is something that Apple needs to address. I'm an iMac owner. What if I wanted to connect a 27-inch Thunderbolt display or two (yeah, like I could afford that)? Why can't I have three monitors with separate full screen documents?

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 27
Apple granted patent for smart pen for portable...

The US Patent & Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent (RE42738) for a smart pen in regards to portable computers (think iOS devices and Mac laptops).

Per the patent, a portable computer arranged to rest comfortably in the hand has a small display screen. Accelerometers capable of detecting movement of the pen with respect to gravity provide input to a microcontroller which selects a response from a number of viewing modes. The pen may be held in either hand and the output message to the screen will be oriented according to the location of the pen. Full personal digital assistance functionality may be incorporated in a relatively small plastics casing and functions, such as calendar, contracts the like may be incorporated. Hillary L. Williams is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "According to the present invention there is provided a portable computer including movement detection means responsive to movement of the computer...

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Sep 27
Features I want to see in Mac OS X 10.8

Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion") hasn't been with us long, but I'm already considering what I want to see in Mac OS X 10.8. Features I'd love to see include:


° The ability to rename, delete and trash folders from the Open and Save dialog boxes. Apple should pay big bucks for Default Folder and just roll this into the operating system.

° An expanded Disk Utility that can optimize and defrag Mac volumes.

° The ability to start up from a Time Machine back-up and carry on working, like we can when using SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner. In other words: system cloning.

° Auto-font activation in FontBook.

° Receipts in Mail so you know when sent email has been read.

° Support for multiple TimeMachine backup profiles that are location aware so it will automatically switch from one backup volume to another when I move between home and work.

° The return of color to toolbar icons, sidebar icons, windows and scrollbars. I mean, c'mon, Apple ......

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Sep 27
Apple patents involve SRAM cells, distributed...

Apple has been granted patents involves SRAM cells and distributed computers by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent 8027213 is for a mechanism for measuring read current viability of SRAM cells. Per the patent, a mechanism for measuring the variability of the read current of SRAM cells on an integrated circuit includes the integrated circuit having an SRAM array including a plurality of SRAM cells. The integrated circuit may also include a selection circuit configured to select a particular SRAM cell in response to a selection input.

An oscillator circuit such as a ring oscillator, for example, on the integrated circuit may be configured to oscillate at a frequency that is dependent upon a read current of a selected SRAM cell during operation in a first mode. A frequency determining circuit that is coupled to the oscillator circuit may be configured to output a value corresponding to the frequency of oscillation of the oscillator circuit....

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Sep 26
Greg's Bite: Oracle Seeks to Kill Android

By Greg Mills

Android is turning out to be, as Steve Jobs likes to put it, "a bag of hurt," Not only are all the Android handset makers fighting Apple in courts and import agencies around the world, Oracle has Google over the barrel for intentionally using patented Java without a license. The intentional part will likely cost Google a bundle as Oracle has found a "smoking gun" set of email proving that Google, at the highest levels, knew and intentionally used Java in the Android OS without a license.

That a company whose intellectual property is infringed can get money damages is well known. That remedy is by far the most common outcome since money is the end product most companies seek from their technology. Apple and Oracle may take the less traveled road and simply demand that the infringing companies cease and desist from further infringement in the future, while collecting damages from past infringement. (See...

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Sep 26
Mobile operator shared data plan trend accelerating

While the iPad and other tablets are hot Products, the expense of requiring separate mobile broadband plans for each device to connect to 3G or 4G services has been Prohibitive.

The Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytic.coms) recently examined the emerging trend to offer multi-device data plans to drive adoption of additional 3G and 4G connected devices. They found that, recently, leading mobile operators such as Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility in Canada, Telefonica Movistar in Spain, Orange Mobistar and Proximus in Belgium have launched multi-device plans.

SFR France will launch an extra SIM option on one of its mobile data plans by end of summer. In the US, market leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T have both said that they envision family data plans at some point in the near future.

“Our Strategy Analytics survey research shows that consumers with multiple...

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Sep 23
Greg's Bite: Apple joins electronic civil rights...

By Greg Mills

Apple, having been stung in the recent iPhone tracking flap, has joined another industry group to lobby for better definition of privacy rights related to data on mobile devices, the cloud and ISP servers.

As electronic devices and modern miracles such as GPS have become mainstream, the old standards of what is private and what is public have become blurred over time. The constitutional right to privacy of our homes, papers and effects has become less clear, and the goal of the Digital Due Process Organization is to push for legislation that will clearly define the right of privacy vs the right of the government to search without a warrant. Go to http://digitaldueprocess.org for details.

While few of us would argue that anything ought to be private if a court orders a search warrant upon probable cause a crime has been committed, law enforcement tends...

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Sep 23
Turn iTunes to iMedia -- or simply break it into...

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

That makes sense. But I think an even better idea would be to break iTunes into different components as it is on iOS devices. The software has become too bloated.

When iTunes was launched in 1999, it was a simple music player with the ability to do MP3 conversions. Now iTunes houses music, movies, shows, podcasts and audiobooks. It's the conduit to your iPhone, iPod and iPad. And it's a link to an online store for buying media. iTunes is no longer a properly descriptive name. iMedia is a good one, but I'd prefer the "break it up" approach.

On my iPad there's the Video app (for movies I've bought online and self-made videos), the iPod app (for all my music...

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Sep 22
Apple looking for cable that works with iOS devices,...

A new Apple patent (number 20110225812) shows that Apple is working on all-in-one data and power cable that can charge and transfer files between iOS devices and Macs.

The "Power Adapters for Powering and/or Charging Peripheral Devices" patent includes a housing that contains electrical components associated with the power adapter. The power adapter also includes a data port provided at a surface of the housing. The data port is configured to provide external power to the peripheral device. The inventors are Daniele Deiuliis, Andrew Bert Hodge, Jeffrey L. Robbin, Stanley Car Ng, Eric W. Anderson and Anthony M. Fadell.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present invention relates to apparatus and methods for powering peripheral devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to improved techniques for powering and/or charging peripheral devices through a data transmission line.

"The invention pertains to power adapters that...

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Sep 22
Greg's Bite: Flummoxed HP fires CEO

By Greg Mills

Flummoxed means confused and bewildered, not dead. When Steve Jobs pronounced the iPad competition flummoxed, he said what he felt and he was right.

HP, formerly the most prolific PC box maker out there, threw in the towel on its Touch Pad, a Palm OS touch screen tablet, and, while they were at it, decided to get out of the PC business. Not only did the Apple iPad kill their mobile device entry, the Mac is killing the PC business as well. The stock for HP gyrated wildly into a downwards spiral and has lost 47% of its value over the short term of its just fired CEO, Leo Apotheker. (See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-22/hewlett-packard-shares-reeling-... .)

This...

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Sep 22
Computer price wars won't hurt the Mac

Jonny Evans of "Computerworld" recently pondered (http://macte.ch/a5Gcj) whether an impending price war between computer vendors such as Acer and Lenova will hurt Mac sales. I don't think so.

"In truth, this is a game Apple's been fighting a long, long, long, long time. Apple's Macs have never been the cheapest on the market, and even that short-term commitment to a sub-$500 Mac with the Mac mini and (earlier) the education-only eMac did little to dissuade PC purchasers that the company's kit is pricier than most," writes Evans.

However, when it comes to the Mac, as with all Apple products, most folks are willing to pay a little more for better quality. Mac sales have increased at record rates even during this dismal global economy. During the 12 months that ended in late June, the Mac brand achieved an impressive 22.86% gain in revenue for a total of $20.38 billion.

Apple sold 3.76 million Macs...

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Sep 21
Ultraviolet, iTunes and the Apple-shaped hole

While seamless device portability for high quality content has become the hallmark of successful digital media strategies, Ultraviolet -- a competing digital content and device ecosystem to iTunes -- must address a range of challenges if it's to drive meaningful consumer adoption, according to a new study from the Strategy Analytics Digital Media service (http://www.strategy.com).

The broadly-backed Ultraviolet initiative may struggle in the face of Apple dominance in the digital media content and device landscape, according to the research group. The question is: does Apple have a viable alternative? iTunes, in its present form, isn't. Apple and Disney aren't part of the Ultraviolet alliance and are purportedly teaming up for a competing solution called KeyChest.

“Given the scale of the challenges facing Ultraviolet it is just as well that the strengths and capabilities of its backers are the most...

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Sep 20
Patent is for ordered inverted index on the Mac

A new Apple patent (number 8024322) for an ordered index at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows the company is eyeing ways to improve searching on a Mac through methods such as an ordered inverted index.

Per the patent, systems and methods for processing an index are described. A postings list of items containing a particular term are ordered in a desired retrieval order, e.g., most recent first. The ordered items are inserted into an inverted index in the desired retrieval order, resulting in an ordered inverted index from which items may be efficiently retrieved in the desired retrieval order.

During retrieval, items may first be retrieved from a live index, and the retrieved items from the live and ordered indexes may be merged. The retrieved items may also be filtered in accordance with the items' file grouping parameters. The inventors are Wayne Loofbourrow, John Martin Hoernkvist, Eric Richard Koebler and Yan Arryouye.

Here's Apple's background and...

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Sep 20
Apple patent involves podcasting support

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8020762) for techniques and systems for supporting podcasting.

The improved techniques can pertain to creating, publishing, hosting, accessing, subscribing, managing, transferring, and/or playing podcasts. According to one aspect, a client application can subscribe to podcasts and then automatically monitor the podcasts for updates to be downloaded. In the event that user interest in a podcast becomes inadequate, downloading of further updates can be restricted. According to another aspect, a podcast can be subscribed to through use of a portable subscription file. According to still another aspect, podcast feeds can be enhanced to include segment elements and other metadata. The inventors are Anne Jones, Thomas Dowdy, Jeffrey Robbin, Mike Wiese and Stephen Davis.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A media player stores media assets, such as audio tracks, that can be played or displayed on the media...

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Sep 20
iMessage, iChat and FaceTime

According to MacRumors (http://www.macrumors.com), Apple is working on building iMessage support into Lion's iChat instant messaging software. That only makes sense as it's a natural progression.

iMessage is a messaging service will be built into the upcoming iOS 5 , due this fall. You'll purportedly be able to send text, photos, videos, locations and contacts. You'll be able to do group messaging, track your messages with delivery receipts and optional read receipts, see when someone's typing, and encrypt text messages.

With the ongoing blending of OS X and iOS, iMessage support on the Mac seems inevitable so Mac users and Lion users will be able to send "imessages" to each other in real time.

I also hope Apple gets around to "opening up" FaceTime. FaceTime is a video calling app that lets you communicate between Macs, iPad 2s, iPhone 4s and iPod touches. It was supposed to be a...

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Sep 20
Apple wins patent regarding solar cells

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8022571) relating to power management circuitry and solar cells. The patent is directed to methods, systems, and apparatuses for implementing circuitry that can be used to control multiple solar cells to generate power for a portable electronic device.

For example, in response to determining that one or more of the solar cells is generating a reduce voltage output (e.g., due to a partial obstruction of one or more of the solar cells), the connections among the solar cells can be configured to generate a constant preset voltage, as long as a subset of the solar cells is operating. The voltage generated by the solar cells can then be boosted to a value suitable for powering the portable electronic device and/or any of its individual components.

As another example, the connections among the solar cells can be configured to generate a startup voltage to directly power the portable electronic device and/or any of its components....

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Sep 20
Apple files patent for query result iteration

An Apple patent (number 8024351) for a query result iteration has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and methods for processing an index are described.

Per the patent, a pulse in an inverted index refers to a group of items that do not occur in any other pulse in the index. When processing a query against an inverted index in which pulses are present, the query is processed against a single pulse. The end of the pulse is determined based on the characteristics of the pulse and the linked list nodes that comprise the postings lists from which the index was generated. In some embodiments, index updates are applied to the query result obtained from a single pulse to provide an efficient and up to date query result. The inventors are John Martin Hornkvist.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Modern data processing systems, such as general purpose computer systems, allow the users of such systems to create a variety of...

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Sep 19
Greg's Bite: Windows Strategic Plan

Posted by Greg Mills

The press, especially MSNBC, is loaded these days with glowing stories about Microsoft's Windows 8. I do not claim to be an expert on anything Microsoft, as I avoid their software like the plague. In my experience, OS X almost never crashes, but when it does go down, it is normally a Microsoft app that did it.

I have noticed interesting differences between Apple and Microsoft in their strategic approach to mobile platforms. That is the focus of this article.

Apple launched the iOS to support the iPhone. Modern mobile computers and smartphones require a robust operating system that can do the cell phone functions as well as run iPod, camera, GPS, web and apps. Built upon the fresh and clean iOS foundation they expanded the iPhone iOS to run on iPad as well. In the Apple world we have the Mac OS X which runs Apple personal computers and the Mac iOS to run mobile devices. Apple is betting that mobile computers will...

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Sep 19
Internet-connected devices in the living room under-...

Interpret (http://www.interpretllc.com) -- an entertainment, media and technology market research firm -- recently released two Interpretations reports: "The State of Internet-Connected Living Rooms" and "Streaming Music: Will It Replace the CD and MP3?"

The "Living Rooms" report reveals that although Internet-connected devices in the living room have Proliferated to over half of U.S. consumers, they remain underutilized for TV and movie entertainment. For example, according to Interpret's New Media Measure syndicated study, only 22% of those who own a gaming console connected to the Internet have used it to stream a movie or TV show, and among owners of set-top boxes such as Apple TV or Roku, that number is even lower (18%). Obviously, Apple has a lot of catching up to do in this area -- and plenty of room for growth.

The "Streaming Music" report discusses the impact that streaming and "...

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Sep 16
Can Apple 'save' the consumer 3D market?

3D TV in homes has gotten a tepid reception, but Apple seems to have big plans for 3D technology. Patent number 8018579 for a 3D imaging and display system indicates that 3D manipulation may be part of future Mac OS X and iOS devices.

A three-dimensional imaging and display system is provided in the patent. Apple says that, despite all the current 3D solutions and technologies, there's a need for an "uncomplicated, economical, yet highly effective 3D input devices for computers."

Such devices need to be able to detect, analyze, and measure objects located in a 3D volume, and to observe and track motions (think Microsoft's Kinect technology for the Xbox). Apple is eyeing devices that would be designed compatibly for use with 3D graphically intensive activities.

They need to be capable of operating by optically sensing object or human positions, orientations, and/or motions. For reasons of cost as well as user convenience, they should be compact and capable of...

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Sep 15
Greg's Bite: Samsung was leaking Apple secrets

When electronics parts companies land a contract with Apple the business can be quite lucrative. Apple uses a significant supply of electronic parts of all types and demands the newest and best of everything. The wonderful news that you are now doing business with the largest company in the world is tempered with a contract that ties you in knots regarding secrecy, quality controls and details too numerous for this article.

One of the most important issues to Apple is secrecy. Working in a black box environment is critical for Apple to have an extra year or so before the copy cats reverse engineer Apple products and launch a "me-too" iWhatever.

Samsung, in addition to its line of retail electronics products, manufactures and sells an amazing variety of parts to Apple. The love/hate relationship between the companies is well known. On one hand, Apple likes the Samsung parts that make Apple products sparkle, but at the same time Samsung has abused its relationship with...

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Sep 15
'Consumerization of IT' looking good for...

Dell KACE (http://twitter.com/#!/DellKACE) has announced the results from a new global survey of nearly 750 IT professionals on the effect that personal devices have on business demonstrating the growing "consumerization of IT" trend. And the survey shows some positive results for Apple.

Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed reported their personal devices have created the need for organizations to support multiple operating systems. What's more, 60% reported a greater demand for support of Mac OS X since the introduction of the Apple iPad and iPhone.

The survey finds that many (62%) IT managers feel they lack the necessary tools to properly manage personal devices. Conducted by Dimensional Research and commissioned by Dell KACE, the survey revealed 87% of companies have employees that use some kind of personal device for work including laptops, smartphones and tablet computers but are unable to effectively protect corporate data and intellectual property as well as...

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Sep 15
Apple patent involves RFID device circuitry

An Apple patent (number 20110221575) that has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows some of the company's plans for RFID device circuitry. It relates to radio frequency identification (RFID) circuitry, and more particularly, to electronic devices that can selectively cause the RFID circuitry to provide a message indicative of an event associated with the device.

Per the patent An electronic device with RFID circuitry is provided. The electronic device is operative to instruct the RFID circuitry to provide a desired message indicative of an event associated with the electronic device. For example, if the electronic device experienced some type of system failure, the device may instruct the RFID circuitry to provide a message indicative of that failure. The inventors are Tyler Mincey and Andrew Hodge.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "RFID circuitry is used in a variety of different applications. For example, RFID circuitry can...

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Sep 14
Greg's Bite: Windows 8 new blue screen of death

By Greg Mills

Wow, Microsoft has certainly improved Windows 8. Now, when the obligatory hourly reboot comes up -- oh my gosh, did you save your work? -- a remodeled "blue screen of death" pops up complete with an artistic flare. The standard blue screen now has some text advising the ever compliant PC user that the time has come again to reboot. (See http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/42056/blue-screen-of-death-windows8 .)

I propose an alternative PC blue screen where a giant message reads "Get a Mac! You wouldn't have had to reboot." That is, in effect, exactly what a lot of people are doing these days -- refreshing their computers with a mobile computer or Mac. I am doing some Faux wall art right now for a lady that is really ticked off that her brand new printer takes the day off a lot and won't...

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Sep 14
Could widespread adoption of HTML5 hurt Apple?

The widespread adoption of HTML5 for Web apps could cut Apple’s operation profit growth by 30%, with Microsoft, Google and carriers benefiting, Bernstein Research (https://www.bernsteinresearch.com) predicted -- as noted by "Macworld" (http://macte.ch/6CLU8). Which, if true, would be pretty ironic since Apple has touted HTML5 over Flash.

When the iPad was introduced in early 2009, Steve Jobs famously rejected Adobe Flash in favor of HTML 5 for providing media c

The financial researchers at Bernstein Research envision widespread adoption of HTML5 will affect iPhones and iPads, reducing margins for the former and lowering market share for the latter, the article adds.

"Rough scenario analyses says that even a modest impact in each of these areas could cut our estimated Op. profit growth forecast for Apple...

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Sep 13
Apple patent involves encoding video data

An Apple patent (number 8018994) for selecting encoding types and predictive mode for encoding types and predictive modes for encoding video data. It's directed towards selecting encoding types and predictive modes for encoding video data.

In some embodiments, a method of determining encoding type and predictive mode(s) selections for a macroblock of a video frame is provided. In some embodiments, a general method 1) selects the encoding type (16.times.16 or 4.times.4) that is initially considered for a macroblock using an encoding type selection algorithm (based on an attribute of the macroblock that is easy to compute), 2) if the 16.times.16 encoding type is selected in step 1, consider the four 16.times.16 prediction modes that may be used on the macroblock using conventional methods or an improved 16.times.16 predictive mode search algorithm based on distortion thresholds, and 3) if the 4.times.4 encoding type is selected in step 1, select the 4.times.4 prediction mode...

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Sep 13
Apple eyeing ways to improve iPhone antennas

Apple is eyeing ways to beef up the antennas on its iPhones as well as perhaps other iOS devices, per a patent (number 8018389) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is entitled "methods and apparatus for improving the performance of an electronic device having one or more antennas." It involves an electronic device comprising a first conductive unit and a second conductive unit disposed such that a gap exists between the first component and the second component. The electronic device further includes one or more components disposed along the gap and configured to counteract one or more capacitance effects in the gap, wherein at least one of the first conductive unit and the second conductive unit represents a part of an antenna. By counteracting the capacitance effects in the gap, certain radiation attributes of the antenna, such as radiation efficiency, can be improved.

The one or more components are also employed to counteract one or more...

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Sep 13
Greg's Bite: HTC, drug testing app needed

By Greg Mills

The US president of HTC has been widely quoted in the press proclaiming his research indicates that iPhone is no longer cool with young people. Is there an Android app for finding out just what hard drug or alcoholic mind bender the guy is on?

Apparently, you hear what you want to hear and ignore the rest of what is said. It seems Martin Fichter, the regional manager for HTC asked some students, in a not-too-scientific survey, if they thought iPhone was still "cool." Some unnamed student thought since her dad had a iPhone, the cool factor had worn off for her. Poor baby. Get that girl a Zune and Kin phone right away. The Android is so Apple looking, I am sure she wouldn't want one of those. (See http://www.geekwire.com/2011/htc-boss-windows-phone-7-...

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Sep 13
Let's see third party support for iMovie

Overall, I like the latest version of iMovie ('11), finding it an improvement over iMovie '09, which was a big improvement over iMovie '08, which was a major downgrade from iMovie HD. However, the latest version still lacks one of the features I liked most about iMovie HD: third party support.

I wish Apple would allow third parties to release themes, special effects and transitions for the video editing app. Years ago that was possible. Companies such as GeeThree made some great extras for iMovie, and they're sorely missed.

Apple allows third party add-ons for iDVD and iWeb, as well as Pages and Keynote in the iWork suite. Why not iMovie?

At one point, Apple obviously wanted folks who wished to do anything beyond iMovie's rudimentary capabilities to move up to Final Cut Express. However, FC Express is gone, and we're left with iMovie and Final Cut Pro X (or iMovie Pro, as its called by those who hate the totally revamped software).

Most of us aren't...

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Sep 12
Greg's Bite: Windows on a Tablet?

By Greg Millls

Microsoft, stung by critics and stockholders alike, for missing the mobile revolution, is still playing catch-up on smart phones and now tablet computers. Apple is merging the iOS with OS X in many respects and Microsoft has taken a cue from Apple to do something similar with it's flagship PC operating system and at least the look and feel of the new Windows Mobile OS, according to reports.

What really caught Microsoft off guard when Apple blind sided them with the mobile reveloution called iPad was a sense of history. They had tried to port Windows XP to a tablet device and the entire project was scrapped since the "tablets" of the day were more like slabs, half the size of a door and WIndows for the PC really didn't scale worth a hoot. Bill Gates wisely decided to pull the plug on the entire concept.

That was then, this is now. Capacitive touch screens are so much better, smaller and cheaper than they were ten years ago;...

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Sep 12
More consumers spending on TV streaming, subscription...

Consumer attitudes toward video access are changing, moving away from ownership and rental models to streaming and subscription services, as connected CE and smart TVs Proliferate in the U.S. and Western Europe, according to Parks Associate (http://www.parkassociates.com).

The research group says that, in a six-month period, US online video subscribers spent about US$50 on average for video subscriptions while a la carte video typically garnered less than half that amount. From 2009 to 2010, the number of purchased movie and TV-show downloads dropped by 56% and movie-rental downloads fell by 70%.

The largest countries in Western Europe have penetration rates for connected CE in broadband households comparable to the U.S. Thirteen percent of broadband households in France, Italy, and Spain have an active smart TV, compared to 14% in the U.S. Germany has the lowest rates of device...

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Sep 09
Greg's Bite: WIndows 8 gets Fast Boot

Posted by Greg Mills

Always hopeful that they can do something right, Microsoft is launching Windows 8 within days. MSNBC, (the MS stands for Microsoft rather than the dreaded disease multiple scololsis), has recently posted a breathlessly hopeful story on the new PC OS. (Keep in mind, the author was told to write a story about a major product sold by the owner of his company.)

"One of the most obsessed over features of Windows is its boot time, according to Windows chief Stflagellatingeven Sinofsky. As such, he says in a blog post, Windows 8 will boot so fast it will make the relatively spry Windows 7 seem Vista sluggish". When I read the headline on that story I had a mental image that can be seen under my picture.... WIndows 8 being booted really fast. See:...

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Sep 09
Apple television sets, apps and retina displays

According to a new industry study, by 2015, 47% of flat panel TVs shipped will have Internet connected features, but the user will still need to connect them at home -- sometime that daunts many users. And this is where Apple will step in.

So far only 40% of connected TVs are connected, and these may well be the early adopters. There's a big opportunity here, and I believe that Apple will take advantage of it next year and unveil its own line of HDTVs. Yep, I've changed my opinion on this and now believe that Apple has the goal, and potential, of shaking up the television business.

"If retina display is ready for prime time (pardon the pun) on the iPad 3, the bigger breakthrough will be if they can deliver retina display to any screen size. If so, how difficult will it be for Apple to create a screen that looks (and acts) like a very, very large iPad?" says "The Sun." "Much of the initial dissent about the value of Apple's iPad when it first launched was that it was...

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Sep 08
Is Scott Forstall the 'next Steve Jobs'?

Neil Squillante, writing for "The TechnoLawyer" (http://macte.ch/1l48j) says the "next Steve Jobs" exists and is already working at Apple. Who is it? Tim Cook? Jonathan Ive? Nope. Squillante says it's Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS Software. In fact, he thinks Forstall will follow Cook as CEO some five to 10 years down the road.

"With Apple's roadmap set for at least five years, the company doesn't need another Steve Jobs at the helm for a while," writes Squillante. "Instead, Apple needs a Steve Jobs waiting in the wings for its next pivot when it redefines computing … again."

Squillante doesn't knock Cook in his blog, but says Forstall is a "Steve Jobs creation" (having had Jobs as his mentor for years) and the likely long-term heir to the throne.

"He's also young [he's 42]. Shortly after graduating from Stanford in the early 1990s, he worked at NeXT, one of the two...

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Angels In The Sky (Games)
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Micromon (Games)
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