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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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Card King: Dragon Wars - Tips, Tricks an...
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Pac-Man Championship Edition DX has brou...
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