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Jun 06
Greg's Bite: The Nokia/Microsoft implosion -- or...

By Greg Mills

For those constantly reading my blog, the Nokia transition to the Windows 7 OS, which I predicted would be a disaster for Nokia, seems to be gathering steam.  

Since Nokia announced they were discontinuing the bulk of the existing lines of Nokia smartphones and dumping the lackluster two mobile operating systems they had been using, the market has shunned both their products and the stock of the giant Norwegian company.  

Who wants a soon-to-be-discontinued smartphone? Anybody want to buy a nearly new Kin phone that won't even run WIndows Mobile 7? They do make good paper weights and conversation pieces if you buy them right (I'm thinking under a dollar).

Elop, the former Microsoft executive, publicly threw in the towel on MeeGo OS and Symbian OS, the two proprietary Nokia brand operating systems. They were so far behind both Apple's iOS and the Android operating systems, he knew it was throwing good money after bad to...

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Jun 06
The future of TV ... the Internet

Analyst Philip Leigh of Inside Digital Media (http://www.insidedigitalmedia.com) says the future of television is on the Internet. I think he's right, though this will take time. Leigh says here is how this will happen:

° First, content migrates to the Internet where it's accessed via browser-centric or app-centric devices.

° Second, the socket panel available on modern, flat panel TVs is the "Trojan Horse" will prompt the paradigm shift.

° Third, the future TV remote control units are likely to be smartphones and tablet computers using apps such as Peel.

° Fourth, eventually sponsors will demand that they only pay for TV commercials that are actually watched. This is already starting on the Internet. However, since conventional TV alrady has digital watermarks embedded in the audio stream, it can also be implemented in regular television via smartphones and tablet...

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Jun 03
Greg's Bite: Android Blues coming from Motorola

By Greg Mills

All is not rosy with a gentile fragrance of spring in the air at the Android handset camp. Various problems come up, with all sorts of consumer products, creating what is called a "product return factor."

Each of the cell phone networks have some sort of handset return policy so customers who have a problem with a certain phone from a defect issue to just not liking a handset, allowing free returns or exchanges for some period of time.

Those returned phones are packed up and returned to the manufacturer in exchange for factory fresh units. A typical return factor of 2 to 3% is considered acceptable as a cost of doing business. Hey, some people return solid gold bars. High return rates cost the manufactures a bundle.

Smartphones have certain eccentricities that can turn consumers off or please them.  The return rate on Apple products is normally low across the board due to the inherent quality of their products. I have...

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Jun 03
Greg's Bite: Apple's 10 likely WWDC...

By Greg Mills

Second guessing Apple is a growth industry, as the deeply held secrets that are seldom leaked early are dramatically confirmed by a beaming Steve Jobs only as products are launched. We know a lot based on what is already known about existing products and logically added technology that fits.   

Near the launch date of new products it is common for supplies to run tight or be out of stock entirely just days before a major announcement. Apple Stores and catalogue Apple merchants commonly run out of things that are about to be replaced by the next version.  

Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook does the magic of selling out the previous product just in time for the new product to be launched to avoid overstock of obsolete product. He does a remarkable job and has earned a great deal of respect for his skills in this complicated trick. Sell out too soon and lose sales, sell out too late and Apple takes back obsolete product they...

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Jun 03
Mac gaming slowly, but surely, on the rise

There are signs that Mac users won't be "second class gamers" much longer. Obviously, with Windows bigger share of the computer market, gaming companies have put most of their efforts into games for peecees.

One big boost to the Mac platform was when Valve launched a Mac version of Steam in 2010. The service lets customers buy digital copies of games through a piece of software that doubles as a download manager, game updater, and chat tool.

When it launched for Mac, Valve included an option called "Steam Play" that gave buyers a dual-license to any game they bought so they could install and play it on both a Mac and a PC with Steam installed. There are now over 160 titles, with the company's own software being released at the same time as their PC counterparts, says "CNET" (http://macte.ch/LchWZ).

Valve also brought its "Steamworks" suite to Mac. Steamworks offers key tools for developers...

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Jun 02
Future iOS devices could offer dynamic alerts for...

Upcoming iOS devices could offer dynamic, GPS-enabled calendar alerts and alarms, per a new Apple patent (number 20110130958) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent, entitled "Dynamic Alerts for Calendar Events," is for a computing device that can access a calendar entry having an associated time and an associated location, in a calendar application. The computing device can dynamically determine an estimated travel time to the location associated with the calendar entry. The computing device can provide an alarm indication for the calendar entry at a time based on the estimated travel time.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Mobile or other computing devices often provide a number of services such as telephony services, email communication, a way to organize addresses and contacts, a way to play media content, and other services. Certain computing devices may also provide a calendar application to keep track of appointments and a...

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Jun 02
Greg's Bite: The clouds all seem to leak data

By Greg Mills

As you can see by the image at the right, I have discovered an image of a prototype smartphone reportedly under development by the Nokia/Microsoft team. It turns out they have turned to another well known company for product form factor/design support.  This image has not been verified to belong to Nokia/ Microsoft, but looks suspiciously authentic.   

Moving on .... in the physical world, clouds leak water. Atmospheric water condenses on microscopic particles of dust in the air and "rain drops keep falling on my head." In the world of high tech, the notion of remote servers connected to the Internet with a personal space for a lot of people to share memory tend to both lose data and also lose control of that data.  

Google GMail security has just been breeched and this is only the most recent security issue for the cloud concept of storing your data of all kinds on someone else's server.  Just recently the Google Android platform...

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Jun 02
A message to the TV networks: quit hacking us off

Today's rant is peripherally related to Apple since you can watch TV on your Macs and iOS devices -- but it's directed primarily to the head honchos of the TV networks, especially NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox.

A piece of advice, guys and gals: quit making your viewers angry. You can do this by not leaving them twisting in the wind when you cancel a show that thrives on "cliffhanger" appeal.

Recently, such serialized shows as "V," "The Event" and "Chicago Code" were canned, so fans of such shows will never know how the storylines were supposed to be resolved. Sure, low rated shows will bite the dust; TV is a business. But it's bad business to treat your "customers" shabbily.

Cancel a sitcom or a typical police procedural and there are few dangling plot-lines that will leave us crying, "What happened?" I enjoyed the goofing, charming "The Good Guys" and will miss it. Still, I won't while away nights wondering what happened to the characters; I'll just pretend they...

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Jun 02
Apple patent involves systems, methods for receiving...

An Apple patent for systems and methods for receiving infrared data with a camera designed to detect images based on visible light has popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Center.

Per the patent, a system can include a camera and image processing circuitry electrically coupled to the camera. The image processing circuitry can determine whether each image detected by the camera includes an infrared signal with encoded data. If the image processing circuitry determines that an image includes an infrared signal with encoded data, the circuitry may route at least a portion of the image (e.g., the infrared signal) to circuitry operative to decode the encoded data.

If the image processing circuitry determines that an image does not include an infrared signal with encoded data, the circuitry may route the image to a display or storage. Images routed to the display or storage can then be used as individual pictures or frames in a video because those images do not...

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Jun 01
The Northern Spy: Mom, apple pie, the picket fence, a...

By Rick Sutcliff

In abstract terms, we've all heard about the American slogan "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (with a little manifest destiny thrown in)", the Canadian version "peace, order, and good government", or the French (belied by the very revolution that spawned the slogan) "liberty, equality, fraternity."

These have their idealistic attractions. So does Heaven. Meanwhile, more practical versions for this life may include that of the Old Testament -- something like "the blessing of God with a chicken in every pot, many arrows in your quiver, and leisure beneath your own fig tree", or here in North America, "Mom, apple pie, the picket fence, and a secure retirement." What ever happened to these images of long-term stability and the social fabric they represented?

Mom has been replaced by your very best and dearest (though never personally met) friend, whom you've known online an entire half...

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Jun 01
Is Apple losing steam?

Zacks Investment Research (http://www.zacks.com) says that Apple, the most prolific growth story in the tech industry over the past 12 months, appears to be losing some steam in recent times as shares have declined approximately 4% since the release of its second quarter 2011 results on April 21.

At that time Apple reported an incredible second quarter, with earnings per share of US$6.40 beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by $1.06 (19.9%) and increasing 92.2% year over year. Revenues surged 82.7% year over year to $24.67 billion. The results were driven by strong iPhone sales, record Ma sales and increased iPad sales, as unit shipments remained robust.
Apple expects revenues of approximately $23 billion for the third quarter of 2011, reflecting a year-over-year increase of approximately 46.4% but a slight decline of 6.8% sequentially. Of course, Apple's guidance is always conservative. However, Zacks...

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Jun 01
Greg's Bite: Apple foments stockholder uprisings

By Greg Mills

The "Arab Spring" uprisings in the world of politics is sort of a foreshadow of stockholder uprisings in the tech world. The iPhone/Android smartphone revolution has completely upset the cell phone market over the last five years.  

The stock values of the former heavy hitters in the cell phone industry have all taken serious hits.  The slowly swelling Apple Mac OS market share is also rearranging the PC hardware software business. Heads will roll.

RIM, once the darling of the cell phone industry is seeing its BlackBerry phone franchise decline markedly. The move to a color touch screen and the processing power to run apps took RIM by surprise a few years back.

There is a story that has circulated the internet that when Apple announced the first iPhone the promised battery life, among other features, seemed like an impossible breakthrough that RIM's engineers promised their executive staff Apple simply couldn't deliver. A...

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May 31
Greg's Bite: warrantless smartphone searches

By Greg Mills

I have been watching the press for stories regarding smartphone searches by the police. The outcome of the legal battle over the security of our phones data is very important.  

The amount of information held on smartphones is increasing exponentially, and we are finding there is often more there than the owner is even aware of. The problem of warrantless data searches vary substantially by states and regions.  

The right of privacy of our data held on computers at home is pretty well established. The problem is the mobile aspect of computers as in laptops and smartphones. When you are carrying your data around with you it is much less secure. While law enforcement would be unlikely to take your computer away from you without probable cause in some criminal case, such limitations are not in place for laptops or smartphones in some jurisdictions.  

I submit that the security of data must apply to smartphone and laptops no...

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May 31
The iPad is negatively affecting PC growth

Apparently the iPad is affecting PC growth, but not Mac growth. Citi analyst Walter Pritchard tells clients -- as reported by "Business Insider" (http://macte.ch/N8utN) -- that the growth of consumer PC sales (as in Windows systems) is about go to negative, apparently for the time ever.

One of the reasons -- perhaps the main reason -- is growing tablet sales. And we know that the top selling tablet by a long shot is the iPad.

And in what's great news for Apple, the iPad isn't affecting Mac sales. In fact, the tablet seems to be spurring sales of Apple computers with the "halo effect," along with the iPhone. In other words, non-Mac users buy an iPad or iPhone, and love the device so much that when it's time to buy or replace a computer, they go with the Apple brand.

Makes sense. Mac shipments grew 27.7 percent in March, a period that saw a 1.2% decline in total computer shipments. In fact, the...

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May 31
Greg's Bite: Beware of the Mac Defender ambush

By Greg Mills

Well, I read about it and now I have seen it myself. I was searching Google images for "Arabic decor" when, suddenly, I opened an image and got a number of pop-ups that warned me my computer was infected -- and also magnanimously offered to help me.  

I had the pop-up blocker on Safari turned on, so it overcame that feature. A number of Safari style small windows popped up as well as an app installation window.  I shut down Safari and checked my hard drive for "Mac Defender" and didn't find anything. Recent versions of Mac Defender don't even need authorization to load, so I was concerned.

It is easy to see how users who hadn't heard about that Apple specific malware could be taken in. The news on the web is that a Russian company called ChronoPay is involved. The financial controller, Alexandra Volkov of ChronoPay, has tentatively been linked to Mac Defender malicious rogue application. ChronoPay denies the accusation but has a...

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May 31
Apple patents range from QuickTime VR to iMovie

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

Patent number 7954057 is for an object movie exporter. Methods and apparatuses for compressing and/or transmitting and/or receiving data representing different views of an object are disclosed in the QuickTime VR-related patent.

In one method according to the present invention, the method stores a plurality of frames of an object wherein each of these frames represents a view of the object. The method then assigns a reference number to each of these frames, arranges these frames in a preferred layout, divides the preferred layout into a plurality of blocks having frames sharing spatial similarities, and compresses each of these blocks separately. The inventors are Xiaochun Nie and Christopher L. Flick.

Patent number 7954061 involves the creation and manipulation of Internet location objects in a graphical user...

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May 30
Greg's bite: John C. Dvorak, Court Jester of Tech...

By Greg Mills

Long known for foot-in-mouth statements, pundit John C. Dvorak has shown his utter contempt and envy for the Apple platform once again. In an article published by "PC Magazine" he actually roots for the recent Mac Defender trojan.  

The notion of "misery loves company" and basic juvenile, visceral envy come to mind. Long known to open his mouth only to change feet, Dvorak's mindless logic is typical of PC fanboys who hate Apple.

The court jester of tech thinks it is about time Mac users suffer the constant battle to keep their computers working the Windows world have been fighting since viruses, worms and other assorted malware came up years ago. Dvorak states that this should wipe the smug smile off the faces of Mac users. Gee, what business is it of Dvorak's that I have had numerous Mac and Apple devices over the last 25 years without a single virus, worm or trojan without ever installing virus protection software?

The...

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May 27
Greg's Bite: there are calls for Ballmer's...

By Greg Mills

The poor performance of Microsoft in the last 10 years has fundamental issues that will hobble the company for years to come. A stock hedge company has issued a paper demanding Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's head on a pike.  

Since Mr. Ballmer took over from Bill Gates in 2000, Microsoft's market cap has been cut in half. Once the most valuable tech company in the world, Apple passed Microsoft last year.

Failure to innovate is deadly for high tech companies. Gates is famously quoted as saying, "Companies that fail to obsolete their own products are doomed to see the competition do it." Innovation at Microsoft has been fraught with more failures than successful products during Ballmer's term as CEO.  

Apple launched the iPhone, and Microsoft launched the Kin Phone. The iPhone has become the de-facto standard for smartphones that the competition strives to match, and consumers compare all competitive phones with. The Kin was...

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May 27
Apple eyeing sunlight/sunglasses friendly displays for...

A new Apple patent (number 20110124260) for a display that emits circularly-polarized light has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and shows that Apple is working on improved LCD display for devices like the iPad and iPhone that are more sunlight and sunglasses friendly.

One embodiment of the present invention provides a display that emits circularly-polarized light. This display includes a display mechanism that emits linearly-polarized light and a layer placed in the path of the linearly-polarized light. The layer receives the linearly-polarized light on one surface, converts the linearly-polarized light to circularly-polarized light, and then emits the circularly-polarized light from another surface.

By emitting circularly-polarized light, the display reduces the perceived distortion found at some angles when the display is viewed through a linearly-polarizing filter. The inventors are John Z. Zhon, Wei Chen, Cheng Chen, Victor H.E. Yin and Shawn R....

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May 27
Apple working on light-transmission display system

Apple is working on a invisible, light-transmissive display system per a new patent (number 20110122560) that's appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The results could be things like light-transmissive, reconfigurable keyboards.

Per the patent, substantially invisible, tapered, light-transmissive holes are penetrated in a light-transmissive pattern through at least a portion of the light resistant material using a laser beam having a focal width less than the smallest diameter of the tapered holes. The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Richard P. Howarth, Daniele de Iuliis, Jonathan P. Ive, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Douglas B. Satzger, Calvin Q. Seid, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang, Rico Zorkendorfer, David Morgenstern and Paul C.L. Chow.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present invention relates generally to device display systems, and more particularly to invisible, light-...

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May 27
Apple patent involves safer batteries

An Apple patent (number 20110123844) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office showing that Apple wants to make the batteries that appear in its products safer. The patent is for a pressure-relief mechanism to improve safety in Lithium-Polymer battery cells.

The disclosed embodiments relate to a battery cell which includes a weakness for relieving pressure. This battery cell includes a jelly roll comprising layers which are wound together, including a cathode with an active coating, a separator and an anode with an active coating. The jelly roll also includes a first conductive tab coupled to the cathode and a second conductive tab coupled to the anode.

The jelly roll is enclosed in a flexible pouch, wherein the first and second conductive tabs extend through seals in the pouch to provide terminals for the battery cell. This pouch includes a weakness which yields when internal pressure in the pouch exceeds a threshold to create a hole which releases the...

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May 27
Apple patents range from video display to user input

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

Patent number 20110122954 involves decoding independent frames of a video display. A module may provide codec-independent services including determining frame display order, frame dependency sets, and queuing the dependency frames in advance so as to enable display of a video. The module enables a video to be played forwards or backwards at a variety of playback speeds from any position within the video. In one implementation, a device communicatively coupled to a plurality of decoders accesses a video that includes a plurality of frames. One or more of the frames are decodable by one or more of the communicatively coupled decoders. The device identifies a frame in the video that is to be displayed, and determines a plurality of dependency frames in the video upon which decoding of the frame to be displayed depends. The device provides an indication that one...

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May 26
No end in sight to Apple's retail success

Despite a tough economy and prices that some still perceive as too high (they're wrong; but that's another story), there seems to be no end in sight to Apple's retail success.

The company's brick-and-mortar retail stores are the world's fastest growing retail business, according to the National Retail Federation (http://macte.ch/Robvf), and their customers are among the most satisfied, according to a study by the Yankee Group (http://www.yankeegroup.com).

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Apple saw a compound annual growth rate of 40.9% in retail sales from 2004 to 2009. The 2009 figures (the latest compiled by the NRF) show that Apple's group revenue was almost US$37 million.

Meanwhile, the Yankee Group says that "Apple’s iconic retail business is already a story worthy of a Harvard Business School...

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May 25
Framework--Browser Exploitation Kit: Macs need not...

There are increasing reports of Mac OS malware and viruses, though, so far, the deluge that some security experts have predicted hasn't arrive. In fact, there's a new report that reinforces the Mac's security.

According to "The Hacker News" (http://macte.ch/evzkV), "Russo" is the creator of the Impassioned Framework--Browser Exploitation Kit, a subscription-based software vulnerability exploit service. This toolkit is designed to be stitched into a website and probe visitor computers for security holes that can be used to surreptitiously install malicious software.

Security weaknesses in the file-sharing website thepiratebay.org have exposed the user names, e-mail and Internet addresses of more than four million Pirate Bay users using this kit. Though Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Opera have all been affected, the effects have only been seen on Windows systems. Mac OS X and Unix systems...

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May 24
Could Apple be planning a dedicated video/still camera...

An Apple patent (number 7,949,250) for an electro-mechanical shutter control has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves the shutter in iOS devices and the iSight ("cellular phones and multi-function or smart phones"), but also hints at a "dedicated" video and still cameras.

The patent is for a method in a camera device having an image sensor and an electro-mechanical shutter mechanism. A constant drive current is applied to the shutter mechanism to close shutter at the end of a first exposure. Then, a decaying drive current is applied to the shutter mechanism during a readout interval for the first exposure. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the inventor.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "As discussed above in the Background, in an effort to obtain lower power consumption, the drive current of a bipolar electro-mechanical shutter mechanism should be pulsed...

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May 24
Amazon.com selling more Kindle Books than print books

Amazon is now selling more Kindle books than print books. It's going to be interesting to see just how successful Apple's iBookStore will be.

Amazon began selling hardcover and paperback books in July 1995. Twelve years later -- in November 2007 -- the company rolled out the Kindle and began selling Kindle books. By July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales, and six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books to become the most popular format on Amazon.com. Today, less than four years after introducing Kindle books, Amazon.com customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books -- hardcover and paperback -- combined.

Since April 1, for every 100 print books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle books. This includes sales of hardcover and paperback books by Amazon where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded. If included that would make the number even higher.

As of March, Apple had sold...

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May 24
Apple patents involves P-chassis, video conferencing,...

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

Patent number 7,948,576, won by Apple, is for a P-chassis arrangement for positioning a display stack. It relates to portable electronic devices and, more particularly, to a chassis which may be used to align a display stack with respect to a bezel.

Methods and apparatus for aligning a display stack with respect to a housing associated with a portable electronic device are disclosed. According to one aspect of the present invention, a chassis arrangement suitable for use in aligning a display stack with respect to a housing includes a first portion, a second portion, and a coupling arrangement.

The first portion is configured to engage the display stack, and the second portion is configured to enable the display stack to be manipulated when the display stack is engaged by the first portion. The coupling arrangement couples the first...

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May 23
Sometimes I don't want to be connected to the...

I love my iPad and iPhone, but not enough to take 'em to bed and wake up with them. But apparently some folks do.

The ability to stay constantly connected to the Internet is making consumers increasingly dependent on the cloud for their daily needs, Ericsson ConsumerLab (http://www.ericsson.com/thecompany/our-insights/consumerlab) research has found. And while the smartphone revolution may have started this trend, the research has shown it is app usage that is likely to make it continue. Apps are actually shaping the way people are using connected devices.

Behavior around apps is also creating a new set of expectations when it comes to connecting consumer electronic devices. Devices must be connected if they are to be useful. For example, 54% of US users of portable storage devices said that they wanted to be able to...

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May 20
Greg's Bite: Bug infestation

By Greg Mills

Some years ago there was a TV series featuring Tom Selleck as Magnum, a private investigator.  One of the ongoing themes was his "little voice." Call it hearing the still, small voice of God, conscience or an instinctive thought process.  

Sometimes lessons of life come to us this way. For me an epiphany of sorts came when I was mentally comparing a real life bug problem with those suffering non-Apple platforms. Malware is not the fault of the user. I regularly pillar Microsoft for all manner of bugs, viruses, trojans and blue screen of death crashes without any real sympathy for the millions of Windows users. Buggy software and insecure software cost the economy as much as the war on terror.  

The other day our 11-year-old daughter mentioned that she had trouble sleeping and was itchy. We figured it was just dry skin or whatever and dismissed it. That night as she went to bed, within minutes she was complaining again. My wife...

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May 20
The iPad will continue to evolve -- and impact other...

The iPad isn't going to replace tradition computers for the most part, but it will continue to evolve as the tablet market grows and influences the development of the personal computer.

The evolution of the tablet is due to the fact that consumers want something more portable than a laptop, more powerful than a netbook, and more comfortable than a smartphone. Last year the iPad set the benchmark for tablets on a global scale by selling more than 15 million units in a single year. This compelled pretty much every other major consumer electronic manufacturers to introduce competing products in the market, though, so far, none have been particularly successful.

Worldwide tablet market sales in 2010 was nearly US$9 billion, and it's anticipated that tablet unit sales will cross 100 million units by 2015, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). In 2010...

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May 19
Apple developing ways to make laptops run cooler

A new Apple patent (20110114295) involving heat removal in compact computing systems shows that the company is working ways to make MacBook Pros, MacBooks and MacBook Airs run cooler.

The invention relates generally to small computing devices such as laptop computers and in particular, providing a heat removal system that is efficient in both space and heat removal. A low profile heat removal system suitable for removing excess heat generated by a component operating in a compact computing environment is disclosed. The inventors are Brett W. Degner, Peteris K. Augenbergs, Frank Liang, Amaury J. Herestyn, Dinesh Mathew and Thomas W. Wilson Jr.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Compact computing devices such as laptop computers, netbook computers, etc. have become ever smaller, lighter and more powerful. One factor contributing to this reduction in size can be attributed to the manufacturer's ability to fabricate various components of these...

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May 19
Mac OS X could get 'floating,' docking...

Mac OS X could get "floating" interface elements. An Apple patent (number 20110119609) for docking user interface elements has popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to docking graphical user interface elements, for example, a Heads-Up Display (HUD) element.

Per the patent, methods, systems, and apparatus for managing elements in a user interface for a software application executing on a computer system include displaying a user interface having separate elements including at least an image browser element for viewing preview thumbnails of available images, an image viewer element for accessing a selected image and a Heads-Up Display (HUD) element that displays metadata for the selected image; receiving user input requesting that the HUD element be moved from a current location in the user interface to a destination location in the user interface; and modifying the displayed user interface by moving the HUD element to the destination location and...

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May 19
Apple working on new ways to present data in Mac OS X

Apple is working on new ways to present data in Mac OS X, it seems. A company patent (number 20110119615) for an adaptive data loader has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent involves methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for presenting data. In one aspect, a method includes receiving a request for data; submitting the request while maintaining a currently displayed user interface; determining whether a specified amount of the data has been received within a threshold delay period; if the data has been received within the threshold delay period, displaying a new user interface including representations of a portion of the received data; and if the data has not been received within the threshold delay period, displaying a placeholder user interface. The inventors are Pavel Cisler, Loic Vandereyken, David Hart and Peter McInerney.

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

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May 19
Apple eyeing new ways to view digital media files

Apple is working on new ways to view all your digital media on both iOS and Mac OS X devices.

An Apple patent (number 20110119634) involving a global view for digital assets has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to browsing large sets of digital assets, and more specifically to generating and displaying a global view of a library of digital assets.

Per the patent, processes and systems are presented, for generating and displaying a flat all-projects view of a library of digital assets. In one aspect, a process includes receiving input from a user of the application requesting to view content accessible by the application. The accessible content can include a plurality of digital assets, folders and projects stored in a hierarchy accessed by the application, and each project represents a user-defined set of digital assets. All projects residing at any location within the hierarchy can be identified, and a flat view of all...

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May 19
IF Apple announces a new product today, look for new...

There's expectations that Apple will unveil something new today to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its retail store line. If that's true (and I'm dubious), I suspect it will be new MacBook Airs.

Apple retail's first stores opened at Tysons Corner, Virginia, at 10 am May 19, 2001, followed by the Glendale Galleria opening three hours later. I was at the Tysons Corner opening, and it was quite the event. Steve Jobs himself was on hand and in fine, if somewhat testy, form.

Apple now has 323 retail stores with over 30,000 employees all total, with 85 of those outside the US. It's expected to open its first store in Moscow within the next 12 months.

I'm not convinced that Apple will introduce something new today. If it does, I think it will be MacBook Airs with (I hope) Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt technology.

Other updates we'll see soon are Mac Pro updates, Mac mini updates and the new Final Cut Pro. But I don't expect those to arrive...

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May 18
Greg's Bite: HP & Dell lose market share

By Greg Mills

My, how things are changing in the PC market. Microsoft's "rounding error" that amounts to Apple surging spreads to Dell Computer and HP.  

Both of the blockbuster PC makers have seen the market for PCs shrink, even as the economy seems to be recovering. Mike Dell, president of the Dull Computer company, once famously gloated that Apple ought to just sell it assets and return stockholder money and go away quietly. Now, his computer company has a market cap of roughly US$30 billion -- or about 10% of Apple's current value. 

What one has to remember is that consumers buy computers in cycles. We don't buy a computer every month; we wait a couple of years until our hardware runs into obsolescence or breaks down before we buy a new one. Well, the market is changing from PCs to tablets for a lot of people and no one has a decent tablet but you know who. I noticed Sam's was selling the iPad 1 yesterday at a discount over the original...

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May 18
The Mac continues to make quiet headway

As many pundits continue to obsess over iOS devices -- including what features the iPhone 5 will have and when it will ship -- the Mac quietly continues to make headway.

For example, when it comes to "real growth in operating sales in 2010," Apple had 15.8% growth to US$520 million, reports "The Register" (http://macte.ch/RxPXC). In fact, the Mac has been growing at such a fast rate for almost four years that it's considered a bit of a downer that year-over-year sales in April were "only" up a "soft" 9%, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Examining data from the NPD Group, he told clients in a note -- as reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) -- that 9% is well below the 22% year-over-year increase investors on Wall Street are expecting. (April is the first of three months in Apple's June...

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May 17
Greg's bite: Microsoft to merge with Nokia

By Greg's Mills

Rumors in the technosphere are often so outrageous they sound true. Such is the rumor that some sort of merger or buyout between Microsoft and Nokia is in the works.  

A number of web sites began to blog yesterday that a deal was in the works. We know Microsoft is collaborating on bringing the Windows Mobile OS to Nokia smartphones. Just how deep the deal goes and what form it takes are the questions.  

Some of the rumors put the deal more in the buy-out sort of arrangement,while others make it more of a merger. The Nokia market cap has shrunk 50% since Apple released the iPhone, and Nokia still doesn't have a valid competitor. Nokia recently gave up developing their own mobile OS in favor of using someone else's platform. Keep in mind developing all the parts of a valid mobile platform isn't cheap or easy.  

Nokia had to jump on board with the Google Android OS or go with Microsoft's Mobile OS. Ironically, going with...

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May 17
Samsung tablet foreshadows the iPad 3

At this week's SID Display Week 2011 International Symposium in Los Angeles, Samsung Electronics will demo the industry’s first 10.1-inch WQXGA format PenTile RGBW tablet display. "So what?" you ask. It sports an ultra-high resolution, liquid crystal display (LCD) with 2560 x 1600 resolution. And that may spur development of the iPad 3 along just a bit.

The Samsung prototype demonstration marks the first time this resolution has been available for the tablet market in the 10.1-inch format. The 300 dpi display is ideal for applications that require extraordinary image and text clarity such as browsing the web and viewing high-definition movies, or reading books and spreadsheets. Samsung expects to have commercial availability of this technology for tablet applications later this year.

A high resolution display like this definitely foreshadows a Retina display in an iPad 3. However, don't expect a shrunken version of the display to appear in an Apple tablet. So far...

| Read more »
May 17
Apple granted patent for encoding video

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7994971) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for encoding video. Some embodiments of the invention provide a method for encoding a video signal that is formed by a series of successive images.

Each image includes several sections, and each section has a set of image values. To encode a particular section of a particular image, the method initially partitions the particular section into several sub-sections. For each of at least two particular sub-sections, the method then computes a statistical parameter regarding the image values of the particular sub-section.

The method compares the computed statistical parameters, and based on the comparison, selects an encoding technique from a set of encoding techniques to encode the particular section. In some embodiments, the set of encoding schemes includes a first scheme that encodes the selected section without reference to any other section of any other image, and a second...

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May 16
Greg's Bite: Dropbox data not encrypted or secure

By Greg Mills

It seems there isn't a day that goes by without another data security risk coming to light. As I have mused in this space, the cloud is not secure. I have Dropbox on my iPhone and iPad but haven't used it much. Those who have posted their data to their Dropbox account ought to reconsider using that site for anything remotely private. Your data is not secure or even encrypted. 

If what you want to store on your cloud data storage file is already held elsewhere on the Dropbox servers, they don't even bother to upload your data file; they just make note that you have access to their copy of that file. That saves them space on their servers and saves money as well.

Imaging you have purchased a movie using the digital download method of marketing video. That movie is not duplicated in the files of all the subscribers on-line. All that exists in your cloud file is a note that you have access to that movie any time you want to see it....

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May 16
Most global organizations planning to adopt cloud...

A new study says most global organizations are planning to adopt a cloud strategy. I'm not surprised, but I hope that's not their only strategy.

ITSM provider, Axios Systems (http://www.axiossystems.com), recently revealed a global survey showing that more than half of IT professionals (51%) don't think their ITSM processes are mature enough to effectively manage cloud-based services. Twenty-six percent of IT professionals do think their organizations are ready, while the remaining 23% feel unsure.

The survey also revealed that only eight percent of organizations currently use their ITSM tool to manage cloud-based services; 19% think their current tool could support management of cloud services, but they have just not started to do so. About one-third (31%) of IT professionals indicate that their current ITSM tool would not support the management of cloud-based services; the remaining 42% of...

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May 13
Is the personal computer in its twilight?

In a recent editorial, Jean-Louis Gassée. former president of the Apple Products Division (and now a general partner for Allegis Capital), said in a "Monday Note" column (http://macte.ch/ZHgnV) that the "PC market is in its twilight." I beg to differ, though, to be honest, Gassée doesn't say the PC is heading for extinction.

Gassée says ARM continues to out-maneuver Intel on the power-efficiency front. He writes that the PC market is in its twilight, "with mobile devices proliferating and stealing growth from the PC." Gassée thinks that we'll see ARM processors such as those in iOS devices on entry level Macs and "maybe" on middle-of-the-line Macs.

However, he points out that there's no roadmap for ARM chips to handle the high-end, for media creation and editing. What about Photoshop, FinalCut, and other applications, including CAD where the Mac is getting back in the game? There’s no roadmap for ARM...

| Read more »
May 13
Apple eyes more interesting screen savers

Apple wants to make screen savers more interesting. At least on iOS devices, as well as, perhaps, Macs. A company patent (number 20110109538) for environment sensitive display tags has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

This is directed to dynamic tags or screen savers for display on an electronic device. The tags can include several dynamic elements that move across the display. The particular characteristics of the elements can be controlled in part by the output of one or more sensors detecting the environment of the device.

For example, the color scheme used for a tag can be selected based on the colors of an image captured by a camera, and the orientation of the movement can be selected from the output of a motion sensing component. The tag can adjust automatically based on the sensor outputs to provide an aesthetically pleasing display that a user can use as an fashion accessory. The inventors are Duncan Kerr, Nicholas King and Michael B. Victor...

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May 13
Apple plans to beef up iPhone's text-to-speech...

An Apple patent (number 20110111805) for a synthesized audio message over communication links has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is planning on beefing up the text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities of the iPhone.

Per the patent, a communication device establishes an audio connection with a far-end user via a communication network. The communication device receives text input from a near-end user, and converts the text input into speech signals. The speech signals are transmitted to the far-end user using the established audio connection while muting audio input to its microphone. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. The inventors are Baptiste P. Paquier, Aram M. Lindahl and Phillip G. Tamchina.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A user of a communication device (e.g., a telephone) may sometimes have to make or answer a phone call in a noisy environment. Noise can interfere with a phone...

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May 12
Apple planning nicer media-rich invitations on mobile...

An Apple patent (number 20110113089) for delivering media rich invitation content on mobile devices has popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves the provisioning of invitational content, and more specifically to providing media-rich-invitational content -- including advertisements, on mobile devices from within mobile applications.

Per the patent, the technology relates to providing invitational content having enhanced content and capabilities to make the invitational content more engaging and useful for users. Specifically, the invitational content can be configured to call on and utilize core operating system functions, additional web content, and other mobile device applications. The inventors are Eswar Priyadarshan and Ravikiran Chittari.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The use of mobile phones in the United States and around the world has increased dramatically. It is projected that soon the number of mobile phone...

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May 12
Apple eyeing more adjustments presets for digital...

An Apple patent (number 201101113361) involving adjustment presets for digital images at the US Patent & Trademark Office indicates that Apple plans to beef up (even more) the digital editing features in apps like iPhoto, Aperture ad perhaps iMovie. It relates to previewing and applying adjustment presets to digital images.

Per the patent, processes and systems are presented, for previewing and applying adjustment presets to digital images. The disclosed processes enable a user to preview selected adjustment presets before applying the previewed adjustment presets to the digital image. One or more preview image frames to display the effect of corresponding one or more adjustment presets applied to the digital image can be presented to the user simultaneously with the original (i.e., un-adjusted) digital image. The inventors are Nikhil Bhatt, Mark Lee Kawano and Blake Seely.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Image processing applications...

| Read more »
May 12
Apple patent is for advanced keyboard with air-based...

An Apple patent (number 20110107958) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a keyboard with advanced sensors, an air-based feedback and tactile feedback features.

The patent describes input devices for processor-based systems, including computing systems, to provide enhanced user experience. The described systems provide tactile sensations providing feedback to a user. In some systems, feedback is provided before actual contact with the key expelling air from the input device proximate the key when user selection is imminent. In other examples, the tactile sensation results from automatic movement of the key in response to detected user selection of the key. The inventors are Aleksandar Pance, Michael Sinclair and Brett Bilbrey.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present disclosure generally relates to input devices and methods of their operation, and more particularly, to input devices for computing systems, and methods...

| Read more »
May 12
Greg's Bite: controlling your own hardware

By Greg Mills

When you buy a TV set, you expect to be able to tune it in to any channel you want to view. Certainly, that right to view content is based upon either getting your signal over the air (which is really a declining market) or by cable. You wouldn't expect the manufacturer of the TV to electronically reach out and disable some feature of your TV set. Most TVs don't require system updates and all the capacities of the device are hardwired in.  

When you buy a computer, smartphone or tablet computer the arm of the manufacturer is much longer. System updates allow features to be added and killed when you accept the updated operating system. Changes can be minor, such as the software fix allowing iPad to use the slider switch to either lock the screen into landscape or portrait format or mute the sound. One expects changes in the device when you choose to update the OS.

Some Internet TV sets are beginning to bridge the gap and are...

| Read more »
May 12
Sounds like Apple may beef up its audio offering

In recent weeks, rumor has it that Apple has hired Tomlinson Holman to run the company's audio initiatives. Apple hasn't confirmed it, but that makes sense. It could tie into the company's speech recognition plans (see yesterday's op-ed), improve iTunes files, or result in better speakers on Apple products.

Holman is an American film theorist, audio engineer, and inventor of film technologies, notably the Lucasfilm THX sound system. He developed the world's first 10.2 sound system. Earlier, Holman developed what was known as the Holman Preamplifier, for the Apt Corporation. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Holman is currently a professor at the University of Southern California; he holds an Academy Award for technical achievement and an IEEE Masaru Ibuka Award. Holman is also the holder of 7 U.S. patents, and 16 patents in other countries, as well as the author of several books on audio.

He certainly sounds...

| Read more »
 
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