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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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

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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...

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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 »
May 12
Apple patent involves adjusting time metadata of...

An Apple patent (number 20110109769) for adjusting the time metadata of digital media items has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention involves editing digital media items, for example, based on the metadata associated with the digital media items.

The patent is for methods, apparatuses, and systems for adjusting time metadata of digital media items. A digital image captured at a location is associated with a time of capture and a location of capture. It is determined that a time of capture of the digital image is in a preset time zone that is different from a time zone of the location.

In response to the determining, multiple locations are provided, each being associated with a respective time zone including a time zone of the location. A selection of a location is received and the time of capture is adjusted based on a time zone associated with the selected location. The inventors are Nikhil Bhatt and Alexander David Wallace.

Here'...

| Read more »
May 12
Greg's Bite: the FEMA 'PLAN,'...

By Greg Mills

Heros of our privacy in the USA, like Senator Al Franken, put Apple and Google on the hot spot for surreptitiously tracking smart phones.

With this secret assault upon our location privacy still simmering in the news,  FEMA has pushed the FCC to add a "special" chip to all smart phones, to enable the US government to alert us with text like messages. The alerts are local and all the big cell phone networks are on board. Adding another set of initials to our vocabulary, "PLAN" is short for Personal Localized Alerting Network.

The chip is mandatory on cell phones coming out next year and hooks up with GPS. It is unknown at this time what security issues are involved and how this is all going to shake out.  The cell phone emergency notification PLAN is expected to have Presidential level alerts that are not to be user disabled. Local emergency alerts and Amber alerts may be turned off as the PLAN exists now. The alerts will produce a...

| Read more »
 
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