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Aug 02
A proposal for Apple that puts Americans to work

The following is an opinion editorial provided by Long-Stanton Group CEO, Dan Cunningham. It was originally published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday, July 8, 2012:

I have a Billion Dollar idea for Apple: build an iPhone plant in Cincinnati and eventually other U.S. cities to supply the U.S. market with iPhones.

This would yield a billion dollars in additional profit to Apple because of the assurance of long-term sustainable product dominance for Apple, the ability to manufacture ‘mass customized' iPhones in the U.S., and the removal of 35 days of rapidly changing inventory in transit from China to the U.S. This projected profit is based on the forecast of 44 million iPhones to be sold in the U.S. in 2012 (11.6 million in 2011 Q4) and increasing the profit by $23 each.

Because the U.S. market is demanding such a high number of units of iPhones, the plant that I am proposing would be completely automated, and highly flexible to the point...

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Aug 01
The Northern Spy: going the new server route

Under another hat, the Spy runs WebNameHost, which is a small hosting company in business for a decade now, and offering professional hosting in a safe environment for Christian, authors, small businesses, and personal sites. This is less than a living business, but much more than a hobby, as his teaching demands that he be able to discourse with students on all manner of computing technology without seeming too much a fool or irrelevant. It also needs to break even.

Though he is otherwise Mac-centric, the commercial hosting environment of choice is a CentOS machine running Cpanel/WHM, with billing and help desk provided by WHMCS, previously a separate company, but as of this month a WHM partner. Cork, the machine he was using for everything was a dual opteron of several years seniority running CentOS 4, and therefore his version of CPanel (11.32) was the last he could use without upgrading as future versions would no longer support CentOS 4. Since it is as...

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Aug 01
Greg's Bite: Google's ball drops -- Nexus Q...

Google had already launched its Nexus Q media hub device and promised delivery in three days, until they suddenly decided to hold the product back and make improvements that they don't care to divulge. It could be a software glitch or a defect in manufacturing. At any rate, they are giving the US$300 round, black box device away to customers who had pre-ordered.

The specs didn't include a ThunderBolt port, which is sort of peculiar as Google is busy launching the 1Gig Fiber experiment using a different media box. The Nexus Q is sort of a warmed-over, spherical, sexy Apple TV hub with a lighted ring. The claim that Apple limited its TV hook-up device to its own network is no worse than the Google Nexus Q, which severely limits function to Google's sandbox. You can't even play your own music over the Nexus Q.  

The Google Fiber project in Kansas City is now way behind the anticipated launch date, but progress is being made. Google has divided the Kansas...

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Aug 01
42% of parents plan to buy electronic gadgets for...

This should be good news for Apple: as another school year approaches, the demand for electronics in the classroom is high.

A new survey from CouponCabin.com reports that 42%of parents plan to buy new electronic gadgets -- such as laptops, tablets, cellphones and e-readers -- for their children for the upcoming school year. In addition, nearly half (49%) of parents said their children's school requires them to purchase certain electronic gadgets for learning purposes.

When asked which of the following electronic gadgets, if any, their children's school requires them to purchase, parents with school-age children said: computer (24%), mobile phone (20%), tablet (19%), e-reader (9%), other (5%) and none (51%). However, with parents feeling the pressure to buy electronic gadgets for school use, 75% said they are at least somewhat overwhelmed with the cost of buying tech devices for their children.

With 78% of adults planning to spend $500 or less per child on...

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Jul 31
Apple patent is for remote access to playlist of a...

An Apple patent (number 8234572) for remote access to advanced playlist features of a media player have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent, a media player can have advanced-playlist creation capabilities such as the ability to automatically generate a playlist around a "seed" song selected by a user.

In some embodiments, the accessory can determine whether the media player can use a particular song as a seed song for an advanced playlist and can so inform the user. The user can then operate the accessory's user interface to create an advanced playlist based on a particular song, rather than having to interact directly with the media player.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Certain embodiments of the present invention relate to increasing a user's ability to control a media player using an accessory device. For example, the media player can have advanced-playlist creation capabilities such as the ability to automatically...

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Jul 31
Apple patent is for power adapters, charging...

An Apple patent (number 8232672) for power adapters for powering and/or charging peripheral devices has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Ti covers the powering mechanisms of a variety of devices.

A power adapter for a peripheral device such as portable electronics device is disclosed. The power adapter 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.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "The invention pertains to power adapters that allow a user to power and/or charge a peripheral device such as a portable electronic device without requiring any additional cables or connectors. The invention also pertains to a connection method for powering a peripheral without requiring a host, peripheral or hub to remain powered on. The connection method allows...

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Jul 31
Smartphones overtaking computers in 2012, but so what?

The recent influx of smartphones to the UK has prompted a slump in the popularity of desktop computers, according to a new study, though I don't buy it.

The survey found that while 64% respondents owned a desktop computer, 94% now own a smartphone. YouGov research commissioned on behalf of Kaspersky Lab, a developer of secure content and threat management solutions, also revealed that users are now reaching for their smartphone ahead of their computer when looking up something online. Seventy-eight percent of respondents went to their smartphone first, compared to the 57% who chose their desktop. 

Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see the correlation in the fact that more people are surfing the Web on smartphones rather than on desktop computers. Maybe there are folks out there who purchase a computer mainly to surf the web, but I doubt it. Those who buy a computer want to also do other entertainment and productivity tasks that just aren't possible on a...

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Jul 31
Apple granted patents for text input, camera features...

Apple has been granted patents for a predictive text input user interface and digital camera features.

Patent number 8232973 is for a method, device and graphical user interface providing word recommendations for text input. Per the invention, a portable electronic device having a touch screen display performs a set of operations, including displaying a plurality of key icons, each having an adjustable size hit region, and receiving a sequence of individual touch points input by a user on the touch screen display.

The operations performed by the device further include processing the received individual touch points by: forming a user-input directed graph for the sequence of individual touch points received so far, determining a character corresponding to a last received individual touch point in accordance with the adjustable hit regions of the displayed key icons, displaying a sequence of characters corresponding to the sequence of individual touch...

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Jul 30
Tablets emerge as preferred online shopping device

Tablet computers such as the iPad are quickly emerging as a preferred online shopping device. Shopatron (http://www.shopatron.com), an eCommerce and order management solution for over 1,000 brands, found that, across all client stores, purchase rates are equivalent between tablet and desktop users.

In recent months, the conversion rates for tablet shoppers have been a mere 5-8% below the conversion rates of desktop-based shoppers. In addition, conversion rates from paid search ads have actually been higher on tablets (up to 3%). In a month-long analysis across several sporting goods clients, Shopatron found that click-through rates for paid search ads on tablets were 51% greater than those on computers, and the average cost per click was 7% less.

"With fewer advertisers to compete with, tablet advertising is costing less than advertising to desktop-based shoppers," says Greg Squires, Shopatron's...

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Jul 27
iPad remains best used as a supplement to the Mac

Many folks disagree with me, but I maintain that the iPad is a supplement to a Mac and not a replacement. And new data from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) -- as reported by "eWeek" (http://macte.ch/Wmixv) -- mostly backs up my premise.

CIRP says that the new iPad (the one with the Retina display) has attracted more business users than earlier models. However, users are mostly using the tablet for surfing the Internet, playing games and enjoying entertainment.

"At least 27% of buyers, and as many as 40% use the iPad in these ways,," says CIRP's report. "Entertainment includes watching video, looking at photos and listening to music."

Business use came in fourth, with approximately 13% of all iPad owners using it for professional purposes. Among new iPad 3 owners, that figure rose to 16%t. Internet and email use were also higher on the newest iPad. Standout business users, CIRP...

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Jul 26
Apple working on ways to deal with variations in...

An Apple patent (number 201200188402) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is working on ways to make its devices work more smoothly with an array of digital cameras.

The patent is for an apparatus and method for compensating for variations in digital cameras. The invention relates generally to digital cameras and, more particularly, to calibrating digital camera components to minimize manufacturing variations in such components.

A method of manufacturing a digital video camera is provided. The method comprises acquiring video images of colored light, and measuring a light intensity response of the video camera to the colored light. The method further comprises comparing the intensity of the measured response to a desired colored light intensity for determining a color intensity bias and storing the intensity bias for the colored light in the camera so that the bias can be applied when the camera is operating at an arbitrary lighting...

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Jul 26
Apple patent involves audio sharing network

An Apple patent (number 20120189140) for an audio sharing network has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems, methods, and devices for sharing ambient audio via an audio-sharing network are provided.

By way of example, a system that receives shared audio from such an audio-sharing network may include a personal electronic device. The personal electronic device may join an audio-sharing network of other electronic devices and receive several audio streams from the audio-sharing network. Based at least partly on these audio streams, the personal electronic device may determine a digital user-personalized audio stream, outputting the digital user-personalized audio stream to a personal listening device.

By way of example, the personal electronic device may represent a personal computer, a portable media player, or a portable phone. The personal listening device may represent a speaker of the personal electronic device, a wireless hearing aid, a...

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Jul 26
Apple eyeing home automation solutions

An Apple patent (number 20120188052) for a system and method for simplified control of electronic devices shows the company is eyeing the home automation market.

For example, per the patent, For example, a method for controlling a variety of electronic devices using another single electronic device may include receiving control information associated with a controllable electronic device via near field communication, determining a control scheme for controlling the controllable electronic device based on the control information, and controlling the controllable electronic device using the determined control scheme. The control information may be received from a near field communication interface of the controllable electronic device or from a radio frequency identification tag associated with the controllable electronic device.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "A person may use a wide variety of electronic devices each day, including computers and media...

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Jul 26
Could Apple products revolutionize robotics?

UBS analyst Steven Milunovich recently suggested that Apple could eventually move into the home robotics market -- though such a move is likely more than a decade away. As Quantum International (http://www.quantuminnovators.com/) works to capitalize on hot new trends in the booming robotics sector, the company says the Apple technology in your pocket could be poised to spark a billion-dollar explosion in demand for new robotics products.

"Robots for the home would represent a new category, require substantial innovation, and leverage Apple's ease-of-use knowledge and brand." He believes that Siri could be key here, with the voice tool likely to play an increased role in future Apple products," Milunovich said. "We’re already seeing the first wave of high-potential ideas emerge in robotic toys.”

The folks at Quantum International thinks Apple iPads and iPhones, the same devices...

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Jul 25
Mac sales bottoming out? Not so

So much for Mac sales bottoming out in Apple's recent fiscal quarter (which ended in June). Despite no major desktop or laptop refreshes (the new MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs weren't announced until June 11) Mac sales increased.

Not by a lot, admittedly. But they did increase. For the quarter, Apple sold four million Macs -- that's a 2% unit increase over the year-ago quarter. Also keep in mind that while Apple's current object of love, the iPad, accounted for US$9.1 billion of the company's revenue, the Mac accounted for $4.9 billion. Not bad for a platform that's been around as long as the Mac.

And the current fiscal quarter should be even better. Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion begins prowling today. Sales of the Retina display MacBook Pro, as well as the refreshed "regular" MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, will jump start Mac sales. And I'm betting we'll see that rumored 13-inch MacBook Pro and a new iMac either this fiscal quarter or next.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 24
Apple granted patent for Apple TV interface

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8,230,360) for an user interface for selecting from a media collection. It apparently involve the interface of Apple's set top box, the Apple TV.

Among other things, techniques and systems are disclosed for providing a graphical user interface (GUI) to user. A system includes a content source and a GUI communicatively connected to the content source.

The GUI includes a user input area to receive user input and a display area to display available content items from the content source based on the received user input. The display area includes a presentation of the available content arranged in one or more rows. Each row includes a user selectable area to display at least one visual indication that represents one or more of the available content items.

Each row includes a holding area to display another visual indication that represents other available content items not displayed in the user selectable area. The display...

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Jul 24
Apple input patent shows interest in computer touch...

An Apple patent (number 8,228,305) for a method of proving human input into a computer has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The invention provides a method for providing human input to a computer which allows a user to interact with a display connected to the computer and shows that Apple continues to investigate touch technology for Macs.

The method includes the steps of placing a first target on a first portion of the user's body, using an electro-optical sensing means, sensing data related to the location of the first target and data related to the location of a second portion of the user's body, the first and second portions of the user's body being movable relative to each other, providing an output of the electro-optical sensing means to the input of the computer, determining the location of the first target and the location of the second portion of the user's body, and varying the output of the computer to the display based upon the determined...

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Jul 24
Could Mountain Lion be the last Apple desktop OS?

In a recent "Computerworld" (http://macte.ch/lTeMX) column, Jonny "Apple Holic" Evans (love the column name) said he thought OS X Mountain Lion might be one of the last desktop computer systems Apple ships as "operating systems are heading inexorably into the cloud." I can't see this happening, though Evans' reasoning is interesting.

He says, a la iOS, in the future your computer (Mac or PC) will carry a slimline OS in order to remain capable of doing many things offline, "but will truly come into its own when accessing the information, software and services held online." Evans says that with the proliferation of services such as Dropbox and Cortado, "computing isn't just about the data you hold on your computer anymore; it's about the data you own in the world wherever it might be stored." He foresees future Macs as devices with barely-there hard drives and most data stored in the cloud.

Evans notes...

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Jul 24
Apple patent involves graphic animation frameworks

An Apple patent (number 8228339) for a framework for graphics animation and compositing operations has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent involves a graphics animation and compositing operations framework has a layer tree for interfacing with the application and a render tree for interfacing with a render engine. Layers in the layer tree can be content, windows, views, video, images, text, media, or other types of objects for an application's user interface. The application commits state changes to the layers of the layer tree. The application does not need to include explicit code for animating the changes to the layers.

Instead, an animation is determined for animating the change in state by the framework which can define a set of predetermined animations based on motion, visibility, and transition. The determined animation is explicitly applied to the affected layers in the render tree. A render engine renders from the render tree into...

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Jul 23
Travelers left behind over 8,000 mobile devices at U.S...

If you're traveling, better keep close tabs on your laptop, iPhone, iPod and iPad. Credant Technologies (http://www.credant.com), a data protection firm, has released the results of their second survey of top airports in the United States.

In the last year, travelers left behind 8,016 mobile devices at seven of the largest airports in the country, including: Chicago O’Hare, Denver International, San Francisco International, Charlotte Douglas, Miami International, Orlando International and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Credant’s research found that of the seven airports surveyed, only one reported that they transfer their mobile devices over to the authorities.

Credant’s research found that the following types of devices were left behind: smartphones and tablets, 3,444 (43.0%); laptops, 3,576 (44.6%); and USB drives, 996 (12.4%) Interestingly, in February 2012, Javelin Research, found that 62% of smartphone...

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Jul 20
A modular Apple television? A transparent screen iTV?

The common scenario for the rumored Apple HDTV (the "iTV") is pretty much a traditional television set with (depending on which reports you believe): Siri voice control; gesture control; 3D (perhaps without glasses); a Retina display for watching 4K movies (such as the upcoming "Hobbit" films); use of an iDevice as a remote control; and a la carte TV programming.

However, if Apple really wanted to think and act different, it could serve up a modular TV or perhaps a glass screen powered by a set-box top.

As reported by "Bloomberg Businessweek" (http://macte.ch/Bc9zj), Israel-based NDS, a TV services provider, thinks that the future of the television is modular. Recently, the company showcased a large matrix of six flat-screen TVs, without bezels, that combined to form a honkin' big TV wall. The displays could be broken up, airing a video in varying sizes near the middle of the wall,...

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Jul 19
Apple eyes improved 'hibernation,' power...

Two new Apple patents at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple continues to work on ways to get the most life out of the batteries on its various devices.

Patent number 2012185715 involves a method and apparatus for facilitating device hibernation. One embodiment of the present invention provides a system that enables a computing device to save additional power by entering a "hibernation mode," wherein the active state of the computing device is preserved in non-volatile storage while power to volatile storage is turned off. During operation, the system reanimates a computing device from a hibernation image by restoring reanimation code from the hibernation image and then executing the reanimation code.

While executing this reanimation code, the system restores the rest of the hibernation image by, reading compressed data containing the rest of the hibernation image, and decompressing the compressed data using computational circuitry...

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Jul 19
Apple patent is for info management with non-...

An Apple patent (number 20120185456) for information management with non-hierarchical views has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Apparently, it involves a modified Finder window in Mac OS X.

Per the patent, information items in a file system are arranged into groups that are created according to a grouping component. A non-hierarchical view displays visual representations (e.g., icons, thumbnail images) of the information items arranged in visually delineated groups according to an arrange type that can be specified for each group.

Various view formats are available including icon, list and column view formats. In each view format, a condensed mode can be selected for one or more groups, resulting in multiple visual representations of items being displayed in a fixed amount of screen space in the non-hierarchical view. In icon view, each condensed group includes a single row of visual representations that can be navigated separately from other...

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Jul 19
Apple patents involve ways to aid the hearing impaired

Two Apple patents have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office showign that Apple is working on ways to improve support for hearing impaired users.

Patent number 20120183164 is for a social network for sharing a hearing aid setting. Broadly speaking, the embodiments disclosed in the patent describe a social network tailored to meet the needs of individuals having impaired hearing. More specifically the social network provides a mechanism by which members of the social network can communicate with each other information related to improvement the overall quality of life of the members.

In a particular embodiment, audio processing characteristics of hearing aids worn by and used by members of the social network can be modified based upon at least some of the information passed between members of the social network.

Patent number 20120183165 is for remotely updating a hearing aid profile. Broadly speaking, the...

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Jul 19
Apple has gone from 'beleaguered' to top dog...

My, how things have changed. According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com), the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system will capture 4% share of 123 million smartphones sold in the United States market during 2012. That's up from 3% in 2011.

Remember when Apple was the beleaguered company and the Mac only had 3% market share in the U.S.? Those were dark days. It's nice that the sun is shining in Apple-land now.
Don't get me wrong. I certainly don't think that Microsoft is "beleaguered"; it's making money hand-over-fist. However, Apple is one of the great comeback stories in the business world -- arguably the greatest comeback of all time.

That said, Apple can't afford to rest on its laurels. Now or ever. There's always some young whippersnapper just waiting to take the top dog's place.

The great pitcher Satchel Paige...

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