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Oct 13
Apple working on new Bluetooth power-down features

According to a new patent (number 20110259840), Apple is looking into a new way to power off Bluetooth-enabled electronic devices, which would let you press just one button on one device to configure or disable multiple devices.

Per the patent, a device can transmit a Bluetooth signal to a linked device to instruct the linked device to power-off. In this manner, the user need only turn off one device manually which results in all linked devices being powered off. This process can be initiated by a user through a device directly linked with the device to be powered-off or through a device that is indirectly connected, through one or more Bluetooth networks, with the device to be powered-off.

This process can also be automatically initiated by a device when a set of predetermined conditions exist. Once instructed to do so, a device can initiate a predetermined power-off process which can involve terminating any ongoing functions and turning off various subsystems. In...

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Oct 13
Ebook market poised to explode

Here's a good reason for Apple to concentrate on its iBookstore (and make it Mac compatible): by 2017 the world e-readers market is expected to achieve unit shipments of nearly 54 million a year, according to a new research report available from the Companies and Markets research group (http://www.companiesandmarkets.com).

Despite difficult trading conditions during the recession, the e-reader market endured and is one of the most popular technological innovations in recent years. The first e-readers were available in the early part of the last decade, but consumer interest didn't pique until Amazon’s 2007 Kindle launch, which allowed users to download books wirelessly, without having to connect to a computer. Market expansion has been rapid, with many companies vying for a slice of Amazon’s success -- such as Apple.

The e-reader market is still in its infancy, holding a tiny...

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Oct 12
Will CinemaNow come to the Mac?

Last week it was announced that CinemaNow, Best Buy’s digital entertainment service, and Intel are giving people the ability to enjoy a larger library of premium high- definition content on their PCs.

For the first time, CinemaNow will offer 1080p HD movies for rental and purchase on second generation Intel Core processor-based PCs with Intel Insider technology. So will CinemaNow and Intel offer this for the Mac? Will Apple let them?

Previously, only standard-definition movies had been available from CinemaNow on the PC. CinemaNow has now added several hundred new releases and popular catalog titles in HD from 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution for people who have Intel Insider on their computer. This is in addition to the 15,000 movies and TV episodes CinemaNow already boasts in its regular catalog. HD content offerings from CinemaNow and Intel Insider are expected to grow as more new releases and catalog titles are added weekly.

Intel...

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Oct 11
Apple patent involves syncing playback by multiple...

An Apple patent (number 8037220) for techniques for providing audio for synchronized playback by multiple devices has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates to synchronizing audio with multiple devices and, more specifically, to handling the communication of audio information between applications and multiple devices.

The patent involves an audio system communicates with an aggregate device that includes multiple audio devices. When providing audio data for playback, the system compensates for presentation latency differences between the various audio devices. In addition, the system adjusts for device clock drift by selecting a master device and resampling the audio data provided to the other devices based on the difference between the device clock of the master device and the device clocks of the other devices. The inventors are Jeffrey C. Moore, William G. Stewart, and Gerhard H. Lengeling.

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

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Oct 11
Greg's Bite: digital privacy issues

By Greg Mills

As the mobile computing revolution takes hold, the privacy ramifications of new mobile digital devices are dividing the courts. The legal system is trying to keep up with the existence of modern digital files using laws and court precedents based upon records written on dead trees and conventional descriptions of private space.

When the US Constitution was written the founding fathers made private our persons, houses, papers and effects. Bill of Rights Article 4: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Rather than assuming the intent of the founding fathers was that the broad privacy rights we hold most basic should logically...

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Oct 11
As for the Mac, let's get Siri-ous

Perhaps the most gotta-have-it feature of the iPhone 4S and iOS 5 is Siri. Let's hope it comes to the Mac.

Siri on iPhone 4S lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Apple says that you can ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. I haven't tried it, but Apple says Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back.

What differentiates Siri from competing technologies is its ability to not only recognize words spoken in a normal tone of voice, but its capacity to pick up on the contextual meaning of a phrase. It looked great during the demo at Tuesdasy's "Let's Talk iPhone" event, but then demos at such events usually do. (You can see a video at http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/siri.html .)

So what about Siri for Mac OS X? It could have a variety of uses,...

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Oct 11
Apple patents involve text-to-speech, calendaring...

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

Patent number 8036894 is for a multi-unit approach to text-to-speech synthesis. Per the patent methods, apparatus, systems, and computer program products are provided for synthesizing speech. One method includes matching a first level of units of a received input string to audio segments from a plurality of audio segments including using properties of or between first level units to locate matching audio segments from a plurality of selections, parsing unmatched first level units into second level units, matching the second level units to audio segments using properties of or between the units to locate matching audio segments from a plurality of selections and synthesizing the input string, including combining the audio segments associated with the first and second units. The inventors are Matthias Neeracher, Devang K. Naik, Kevin B. Aitken and...

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Oct 10
Greg's Bite: RIM Crashes and Hits the Wall

Posted by Greg Mills

RIM's server network has crashed and is currently out of service in much of the world. It is unknown how long RIM phones and devices will be out of service. RIM runs its phones through a unique system that encrypts data for security reasons and thus there might be some complications with that. Only RIM devices are affected.

As the news of the RIM service disruption are in the tech news, another interesting statistic has just come out. News reports are that Apple sold 200,000 iPhone 4s units in the first 12 hours they were available online, as pre-orders. Actually, that has been revised today to at least 1,000,000 iPhone 4s sold in the first 24 hours.

To put that in perspective, RIM sold into the retail channel 200,000 PlayBooks in the first quarter they were on the market. That is not sold retail to consumers, as is the one million Apple iPhones, it is 200,000 PlayBooks sold wholesale to stores. While RIM tablet...

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Oct 10
Video uploads from mobile devices on the rise

Photobucket Corp. (http://www.photobucket.com), a dedicated photo and video sharing service, says that video uploads from mobile devices are on the rise, based on results from the company's 2011 Summer Photo Usage survey.

Responses from more than 2,500 survey participants, as well as data garnered from Photobucket’s 100 million users and their nine billion image uploads, helped to illustrate the current attitudes and habits of those capturing photos and videos this summer. Among the findings are that video uploads are increasing rapidly on web and mobile platforms, and the lack of centralization in online photo storage continues.

According to the survey, consumers are using traditional video cameras with much less frequency, but they are using mobile devices to capture video much more often. In fact, of those surveyed:

° 45% use a mobile device for capturing video at least once a week...

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Oct 09
Greg's Bite: Sprint and ClearWire -- Apple...

By Greg Mills

Apple finally condescended to grant Sprint the iPhone in a deal that rocked Wall Street. Sprint is betting the farm that selling the iPhone will pull the third string US carrier out of the dumps and back into the big time. Apple and Sprint both seem to be quite confidant that simply having iPhones available for its customer base will turn the company around.

That might be true if the company lasts that long. Sprint is stone broke and mismanaged, running in all directions at once. They need a firm hand at the helm and don't have one. Making an agreement with Apple to buy 30,500,000 iPhones over the next four years at a cost of US$20 billion is rather rich considering the current market cap for Sprint is only $7 billion. Not only is the Apple deal too rich for Sprint, they recently announced that they intend to build out a new LTE G4 network that will cost them money they just don't have. Confidence in Sprint's management is the problem...

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Oct 07
Greg's Bite: The Cellular Game, Spectrum and Money

By Greg Mills

Apple has clearly revolutionized the cellular phone industry since the iPhone 1 was launched. In the past, the cellular carriers had all the power and the hardware manufacturers like Motorola, Nokia and RIM simply sold handsets to them and got the best deal they could. Cell phones were manufactured to please the networks first and then the customer who would use them. Exclusives on certain handset models were common.

Three companies pretty much owned the cellular handset business not that long ago. Now, all three of those giant handset makers are in a desperate race to catch up or die in the race to provide smartphones that can compete with the iPhone. The dumb phone market is collapsing rapidly as contracts expire on old cell phones or their batteries die. People want to move up to a smartphone.

The recently reveled make-or-break deal Apple made with Sprint shows how much things have changed. Apple simply doling out iPhones or...

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Oct 07
How about a 'Think Different' poster to...

Remember the "Think Different" ad campaign Apple launched in 1997? It was one of the most brilliant ad campaigns ever conceived -- and I'd love to see a one-off revival to honor Steve Jobs.

The "Think Different" slogan was created by the Los Angeles office of advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day. It was used in a TV commercial, several print advertisements and a number of TV promos for Apple products. Shortened versions of the text were used in two television commercials, known as "Crazy Ones," which had a voiceover by actor Richard Dreyfuss. (There was also an unaired version featured the voice of Jobs himself.)

A one-minute commercial featured black-and-white footage of 17 iconic 20th century personalities: Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the...

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Oct 07
Apple patent involves data array content, addresses

An Apple patent (number 20110246787) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that involves obfuscating transformations on data array content and addresses.

Per the patent, in a first computer (digital) data obfuscation process, data which is conventionally arranged in a data structure called an array (e.g., a table) and conventionally stored in computer or computer device memory is obfuscated (masked) by logically or mathematically combining the data, entry-by-entry, with a masking value which is computed as a logical or mathematical function of the entry itself or its index in the array, modulo a security value.

The complementary unmasking value is a pointer to the entry's address in the table modulo the security value. In a second computer (digital) data obfuscation process, the addresses (location designations) in memory of a data array are themselves obfuscated (masked) by partitioning the array into blocks of entries and shuffling the order of the...

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Oct 06
Jobs was co-inventor of the 'three state icon...

As noted by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) one of the last patents to bear Steve Jobs' name (along with Timothy Wasko) as inventor was patent number 201000281415 for a "three state icon" for a computer.

A three state icon for a computer is disclosed. The icon prevents inadvertent starting of an operation on a computer. Per the patent, the icon has a first state that conceals a second state. Upon selection of the first state with a computer pointing device (i.e., mouse), the icon will change to the second state.

Upon selecting the icon in the second state, the operation on the computer will start. Accordingly, only upon selecting the icon in the first state and then the second state, the operation will commence on the computer thereby preventing accidental startup of the operation. Once the second state has been selected, the icon will change to a third state which indicates...

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Oct 06
Apple eyeing ways to beef up remote capabilities of...

An Apple patent (number 20110246891) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for pushing a graphical user interface to a remote device with display rules provided by the remote device. In other words, Apple is working on ways to beef up the remote control abilities of iOS devices -- and incorporate new abilities along these lines.

The invention relates generally to accessories for portable media devices and in particular to allowing a portable media device to provide a user interface for controlling the media device to an accessory. Per the patent, a graphical user interface ("GUI") can be presented on a remote control accessory device that has user input and display devices. The portable media device can provide the accessory with a GUI image to be displayed. The accessory can specify the configuration of the remote GUI image and send that information to the portable media device.

The portable media device can generate a GUI image based on the...

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Oct 06
Greg's Bite: Regarding Steve Jobs

By Greg Mills

Steve Jobs drew strong opinions about himself and his ideas. He knew what he knew and come hell or high water, he stuck to his opinions. The taste and marketing wisdom he espoused led entire industries that correctly followed his lead or suffered for it. Confidence based on true genius has great value, and Apple is the result of a series of Steve's visions that resulted in "insanely great products" and the world's most valuable company.

Steve Jobs learned the concept of focusing on a few important things and letting the mundane issues take care of themselves with crisp detailed orders to subordinates. Reportedly, you made Mr. Jobs repeat himself to your own injury. He didn't suffer fools very well.

The flap over the recent "disappointment" over the iPhone 4S was, in my opinion, subconsciously in the public mind due to not having been pitched by Steve Jobs. Steve could have said, "If you think iPhone 4S is no big deal, consider...

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Oct 06
About those Mac OS X 10.8 features I wanted...

On Sept. 27 I listed (http://macte.ch/IRxgk) some of the features I wanted to see in Mac OS X 10.8. Robert Meyers had some interesting feedback on my ideas that I'd like to share with you.

I wanted an expanded Disk Utility that can optimize and defrag Mac volumes. However, Rob says Apple doesn't see the need for optimizers/defrag utilities (see http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1375). So don’t expect to see this feature built into Disk Utility any time soon.

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

"Yes, Apple should provide an easy way to clone a system be it from another hard disk drive, a Time Machine backup, or even a different computer," he says. "However,...

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Oct 05
Greg's BIte: Apple expectations, Sprint

Posted by Greg Mills

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

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

The roll out of the...

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

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

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

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

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

I predicted that Sprint and...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's what I'm predicting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Dennis Sellers

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

By Rick Sutcliffe

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

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

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

Fourth, can HP (or...

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

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

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

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

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

"The fact a chaplain has...

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Oct 02
Greg's Bite: iPhone leaks galore

By Greg Mills

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

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

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How to send money to a friend with the F...
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