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Mar 31
Greg's bite: Google fiber optic test city

By Greg Mills

I live in Kansas City, Kansas. I pay US$49.90 a month to Time Warner Cable for "Road Runner Turbo" Internet service. We had download speed this morning of 26.45 Mbps and an upload speed of .94 Mbps and a ping in 42ms. My iPad came in at 6.24 Mb/s download and .56Mb/s upload. Lithuania has an average speed three times what I do now. Just wait, Lithuania.

Our connection speeds vary, but while not super fast, we get by. Our Internet service comes in by cable modem. There is a coaxial cable that runs from the street overhead to the house and threads through the walls to a cabinet in the master bedroom. A little black box has blinking lights and a number of ethernet out ports.  

I have an Apple Wi-Fi device hooked up as well as an Earthlink phone box. We get passable speeds for Wi-Fi to a MacBook Pro, an iMac, an iPad and various iPhones. My daughter downloads movies a lot through NetFlix on her iPhone. We are a sort of typical Apple...

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Mar 31
Apple working on a power adapter with an internal...

An Apple patent (number 20110074360) for a power adapter with an internal battery has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is working on a integrating rechargeable external battery pack -- with solar power features, no less -- into its standard charging cable for laptops and iOS devices.

Per the patent, the power adapter typically includes the battery as an integral component that is connected to a plug or other interface capable of mating with a power source, such as a wall socket. Thus, the adapter battery may provide power either to operate the device or charge a battery within (or otherwise associated with) the device even if the adapter is not connected to a power source. The inventors are Duncan Kerr, David Robbins Falkenburg and Michael Nugent.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Rechargeable batteries may be found in a variety of portable electronic devices, including laptop computers, personal digital...

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Mar 31
Are tablets just a fad? No, but ....

Katherine Noyes, writing for "PC World" (http://macte.ch/byR2m), says tablets are just a fad. I disagree with her basic premise, but she does have some good points.

Among Noyes' reasons for doubting the future of the tablets are:

° Limited functionality: "As far as I can tell, tablets do not offer any significant functionality that's not already available on a smartphone or notebook computer, yet they lack critical components like keyboards. In fact, you can get a laptop with considerably more memory and storage and a much better CPU for a significantly lower price, as my PCWorld colleague recently pointed out."

° They're inconvenient: "Unlike smartphones, the tablet form factor is too large to fit in a pocket or purse, yet it doesn't offer anywhere near the functionality of only slightly larger devices like notebooks and laptop computers."

° Waning excitement: "It's true that other...

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Mar 31
Apple patents involve unibody design, map layouts

Two Apple patents involving computer housing and map layouts have appeared at the US Patnet & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20110073575 is for a computer housing and involves the "unibody" design of recent Apple laptops and iMacs. A visually seamless method of joining a first piece of metal and a second piece of metal is described. The first piece of metal is placed in contact with an edge of the second piece of metal. In some embodiments, the edge includes a sacrificial lip.

The first piece of metal forming a junction area with the edge of the second piece of metal, applying a forging force to the first piece of metal, the forging force having an effect of creating an extremely tight fit up between the first and the second pieces of metal, welding the first and the second pieces to form an assembly and forming a cosmetically enhancing protective layer on the surface of the assembly, the protective layer obscuring any visible artifacts on the surface of the...

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Mar 30
Greg's bite: correction -- PlayBook runs Android...

By Greg Mills

Sometimes I miss something major, lost in the small print when I do my research. I discovered this morning that I made an understandable error in yesterday's post when I bluntly stated that RIM's soon-to-be-launched, PlayBook would run Android Apps.  

RIM announced with great fanfare on March 24 that PlayBook would be able to run Android apps. Well, that is sort of true, but sort of isn't completely true at this time, maybe ever.  Don't buy a RIM PlayBook based upon the promise of running Android apps.

With all the other "got ya" problems with PlayBook, even stating that it would run Android Apps isn't without major complications. It seems RIM is promising an "Android platform runtime app" (to be released this summer) that will enable Android v2.3 apps that have been specifically "adapted" by their developers for RIM's PlayBook OS to run in a "sandbox" environment. That means the Android apps may not be full featured when run on...

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Mar 30
Anticipating the next iMac

In a series of Tweets (via MacNews.de), CNET's Brian Tong says he's received word from a "reliable source" that new iMacs will arrive in late April or early May. That's no surprise, and it's easy to guess at some of the features, though others I would love to see probably won't make the cut.

The updated iMacs will doubtless feature dual and quad Sandy Bridge processors, as well as Thunderbolt technology. The lower end iMacs will probably sport 2.3GHz and 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5s, while the high-end iMacs will tout 2.0GHz and 2.3 quad-core Intel Core i7s. The low end models will most likely sport integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with the main memory. The higher end models will likely come with an AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR5 memory or an AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

The revved iMacs will certainly sport Thunderbolt I/O technology. Developed by Intel with...

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Mar 29
Apple patent involves antenna isolation for future...

An Apple patent (number 7916089) for antenna isolation for portable devices has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is far from finished with antenna implementations in future iPhones.

Per the patent portable electronic devices are provided with wireless circuitry that includes antennas and antenna isolation elements. The antennas may include antennas that have multiple arms and that are configured to handle communications in multiple frequency bands. The antennas may also include one or more antennas that are configured to handle communications in a single frequency band. The antennas may be coupled to different radio-frequency transceivers.

For example, there may be first, second, and third antennas and first and second transceivers. The first and third antennas may be coupled to the first transceiver and the second antenna may be coupled to the second transceiver. The antenna isolation elements may be interposed between the...

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Mar 29
Apple patent is for dock that operates in multiple...

An Apple patent (number 7916467) for methods and apparatuses for docking in a portable electronic device that has a planar-like configuration and that operates in multiple orientations has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A docking system is disclosed. The docking system includes a portable electronic device capable of operating in multiple orientations including vertical and horizontal. The docking system also includes a docking station configured to mechanically accept and operatively interface with the portable electronic device in any of its multiple orientations including vertical and horizontal. The inventors are Steve Hotelling and Gus Pabon.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic devices include a docking station for providing a convenient interface for transferring data between the electronic device and other devices, such as a computers, speakers, monitors, and printers. The docking station may also include...

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Mar 29
Greg's bite: bomb threat at Apple shipping -- and...

By Greg Mills

People do the strangest things. Yesterday the shipping department at Apple's Elk Grove, California, shipping facility got a bomb threat. After evacuating the buildings and doing a thorough bomb squad search, an explosive device was not found. Was someone pissed off about Apple's shipping delays? Hopefully, the cops will catch the hoax perpetrator.  

Allegorically speaking, suggestions that iPad 2 was going to "bomb" in the market place have been just as false at the explosive sort of empty threat. The Apple iPad 2 is flying off the shelf around the world.  The lines of eager Apple fans are queued up to pay up for the latest tablet computer that seems to be redefining what a computer means to consumers of downloadable digital data. The tablet computers doomed to "bomb" in the market place aren't found at Apple.

Naysayers incorrectly panned the iPad 2 as only a minor update to the iPad 1. Frankly, the iPad 1 was so far ahead of the...

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Mar 29
2011 Apple Design Awards: the good news and the bad...

Apple has announced the dates of its 2011 Worldwide developer Conference (June 6-10), which will be home to, among other things, the 2011 Apple Design Awards. There's good news and bad news about the awards.

The good news is that, unlike last year, Mac apps will be eligible for the awards. In 2010, Apple caused quite a stir and a stink by only giving out awards to iOS-based apps. This increased the hoopla that Apple had lost its love for the Mac and that the company's focus would soon be on iOS devices only.

That's certainly proven to be incorrect. And the 2011 Apple Design Awards will honor both iOS AND Mac OS X software, which is great news. Unfortunately, those awards seem to be limited exclusively to titles available via the Mac App Store or Apple App Store, based on the wording at Apple's 2011 Design Awards website (http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/ada/).

That'...

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Mar 29
Apple patents range from user interfaces to web clip...

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

Patent number 7917892 is for a user interface driven by dynamic state changes. A method for responding to changes to properties of component instances is disclosed. A routine, that is to be informed of changes that occur to a particular property of a plurality of properties of a component instance, is registered. The value of the particular property is detected as changed when the value of the particular property changes because of a change to another property of the plurality of properties. A call is made to the routine to indicate that the particular property has changed. Bradley D. Ford is the inventor.

Patent number 7914320 involves a cable connector assembly with sticky film. It includes an insulative housing, a plurality of contacts received in the insulative housing, a cable electrically connected with the contacts...

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Mar 28
Will Apple license AirPlay to TV makers?

Apple is considering allowing TV makers to build its AirPlay media-sharing protocol into their sets, according to a "Bloomberg" (http://macte.ch/i3UoT) report last week. However, I'm dubious for two reasons.

But let me back up. AirPlay is a feature for streaming music, video and photos wirelessly from an iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to the Apple TV. The wireless technology is being integrated into speaker docks, AV receivers, and stereo systems from companies such as Bowers & Wilkins and Denon -- for audio only.

Under the expanded AirPlay plan, Apple would license its AirPlay software to consumer-electronics makers that could use it in devices for streaming movies, TV shows and other video content, says "Bloomberg." An expanded AirPlay would let users stream programming wirelessly from an Apple mobile device to a TV that carries the technology.

However, I have my doubts. Reason one: it would...

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Mar 25
Greg's bite: RIM falls 10% over PlayBook flaws

By Greg Mills

As I have maintained, the prospects for RIM's PlayBook appear grim. The stock market took it out on them yesterday savaging RIM's stock prices. Analysts seem to agree with my assessment that RIM's days are numbered and that PlayBook is fatally flawed.  RIM's cell phone sales numbers have declined five quarters in a row.

Meeting Apple's iPad price points on PlayBook sounds like a great idea, but is there any profit left? RIM also has to cut in retailers and compete with Apple's sleek industrial manufacturing footprint.

As I pointed out yesterday, native RIM apps are lame. Just today it comes out they are going to enable Android apps to work on PlayBook. Forgive me if I miss something in PlayBook specs, as they are announced and changed on the fly.

From the latest information I have, PlayBook still requires a BlackBerry to work. That sounds nuts to me as it prevents wider assimilation in the market as one would have to put...

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Mar 24
There's still LOTS of room for Mac market share...

I've long contended that the Mac is the most underestimated of Apple's crown jewels, lost in the adoration of the iPad and other iOS devices. Sure, there's room for growth of the iPad, the iPhone, certainly the Apple TV, and, yes, even the iPod. But there's also incredible room for Mac growth.

Eric Jackson, the founder and managing member of Ironfire Capital, has nailed it in a recent column (http://macte.ch/LaAHk) for "Forbes." He had this to say: "We know that Apple has focused on the education segment for a long time. The idea is to seed the next-generation of Mac buyers. Admittedly, such a strategy requires patience.  But, with the Baby Boomers retiring, the college kids coming into the workforce in increasing numbers, and a critical mass of Apple products (iPhone, iPad, and TV), there is likely to start to be a rapid increase in Mac usage. The last quarter saw Macs set a new record (3.47 million sold in...

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Mar 24
Future iOS devices may be even more graphics driven

Per a new patent (number 201110071977) at the US Patent & Trademark Office, Apple is considering using graphics and multi-touch gestures in lieu of, or perhaps in addition to, text on future iDevices for accessing music, contact lists and more.

According to the patent, entitled "Segmented Graphical Presentations for Recommending Elements," systems, methods and machine-readable media are disclosed for providing segmented graphical representations of elements, such as songs, videos, pictures, graphics, or address book contacts. In some embodiments, an electronic device may identify remote and/or local elements based on a seed element and may display a segmented graphical representation of the seed element (e.g., a tiled album cover).

At least one of the segments may be associated with one or more of the identified elements. In response to receiving a user selection of a segment, the electronic device may perform any of a number of suitable actions based on the...

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Mar 24
Apple planning further facial recognition enhancements...

Apple is already planned to beef up its Face recognition technology in iPhoto and perhaps iMovie, as indicated by a new patent (number 20110069085) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The patent is for generating slideshows using facial detection information.

Methods and systems are presented for automatically generating a slide associated with a slideshow. In one aspect, a method includes selecting an image for inclusion in a slideshow, where the image has associated facial detection information. A face location is determined in the selected image based on the facial detection information and the selected image is cropped based on the determined face location to generate a cropped image depicting the included face. The cropped image is inserted into a slide associated with the slideshow.

Further, an animation having a defined animation path can be associated with the slide. Also, the face location can be identified as a position in the animation path and the...

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Mar 24
Greg's bite: the freedom of the app

By Greg Mills

Apple takes heat for about anything they do, it seems. A conspiracy theory built upon the design of iPhone security screws blew over a few weeks ago. Apps that take political points of view or make a social statement tend to be the latest point of dispute. Political correctness seems to be in the eye of the offended.

The latest tempest in the Apple tea pot involves a ministry portal app to Exodus International, (ExodusInterntional.org). The Exodus organization offers help for people who want to exit the gay life style. The Exodus app was approved with a score of 4 by Apple, some time back.  It got yanked yesterday for not meeting unwritten Apples standards for apps (not being too controversial). As long as no one objected, Apple seemed okay with it. It is hard to meet undocumented standards for apps that support opinion without being politically un-correct.  

The gay community got wind of one purpose of the app, offering helping...

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Mar 24
iPhone 5 likely to sport a bigger screen

Rumors are that the iPhone 5 will have a 4-inch screen compared to 3.5-inch screens on the Apple smartphones that came before it. If so, it's a screen expansion that's perfectly timed.

According to The NPD Group (http://www.npd.com), a market research company, U.S. consumers are willing to give up room in their pockets and handbags to gain a richer media experience on their mobile devices. The U.S. market share for iPhones and other smartphones with screen sizes between 3.5 inches and 3.9 inches have remained steady, but smartphones with the largest screens (four inches or larger) have grabbed market share from devices with screen sizes that are less than 3.5 inches.

Based on the latest information from NPD's Mobile Phone Track, smartphones with 4-inch-or-larger screens, like Samsung's Galaxy S, HTC's EVO 4G and Motorola's Droid X, which debuted in the second quarter (Q2) of 2010, quickly grew to encompass 24...

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Mar 24
Apple patent is for LED backlight for display systems

An Apple patent (number 20110069511) for a LED backlight for display systems has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to device display systems, and more particularly to an LED backlight with highly uniform color for illuminating display systems.

The patent is for a LED backlight method for display systems comprising receiving a plurality of light emitting diodes categorized into a plurality of bins, wherein each bin references a separate range of white point colors, and determining an optimal order for mounting the plurality of light emitting diodes at spatially distributed positions, the plurality of light emitting diodes comprising white point colors associated with separate bins, wherein the optimal order of the plurality of light emitting diodes produces a light of a desired white point color when the light outputs of the plurality of light emitting diodes are mixed. The inventors are Wei Chen, Jun Qi, Victor Yin and John Zhong.

... | Read more »
Mar 23
Greg's bite: Xoom Fades to Black

By Greg Mills

Remember all those tablet computer "iPad killers" showcased at recent electronics shows? As many as 100 tablets were shown in various states of development. Since then, only a handful of tablets have actually been launched, and the iPad is absolutely creaming them in the market.  

The Motorola's Xoom tablet seems to have met an early end. The Xoom was really ill-fated coming out just before iPad 2 hit the market. It seems Motorola has just scaled back the parts on order required to assemble more Xooms. They killed all the parts orders that were not already in the supply chain. It appears Apple's hammerlock on the tablet market and poor Xoom sales caused them to pull back. Ouch, that is sure to hurt the bottom line and Motorola stock prices.

This does not bode well for Motorola's stab at entering the tablet computer market or for the Android HoneyComb OS. From what I hear the new Android HoneyComb OS crashes a lot...

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Mar 23
Magazines look to join books in transition to digital

As far as I know, there are no stats on how successful the iPad-only publication, The Daily, has been. But there's more evidence that digital newspapers and magazines are part of the wave of the future.

E-book distributor LibreDigital (http://www.libredigital.com) says that its business in distributing digital magazine content generated 175% more revenue November through January that in the previous 12 months combined. Surge in demand for digital magazines from LibreDigital’s tablet and e-reader partners drove the increase.

“Demand for digital reading is exploding,” says Russell P. Reeder, LibreDigital president and CEO. “LibreDigital’s goal is to bring scalable solutions to publishers and marketplaces to meet that demand. We are excited to be bringing our experience as the leader in the e-book distribution business to the early stages of an exciting digital periodicals market.”

...

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Mar 22
Apple patent involves the ol' soft shoe

As a runner, I know to replace my running shoes every 400 miles or so. Evidently, Apple wants to simplify that process for me. A new Apple patent (number 7911339) at the US Patent & Trademark Office is for a shoe wear-out sensor, body-bar sensing system, unitless activity assessment and associated methods.

Per the patent, a shoe wear out sensor includes at least one detector for sensing a physical metric that changes as a sole of a shoe wears out, a processor configured to process the physical metric over time to determine if the shoe is worn out, and an alarm for informing a user of the shoe when the sole is worn out. A body bar sensing system includes a housing with at least one detector for sensing a physical metric that indicates a repetition movement of the housing when attached to the body bar, a processor for processing the physical metric over time to determine repetitions thereof, and a display for informing a user of the repetitions.

A system assesses...

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Mar 22
Apple wants to provide an universal container for...

Apple wants to provide you with an "universal container for audio data," per a patent (number 7912730) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Pre the patent, storing audio data encoded in any of a plurality of different audio encoding formats is enabled by parametrically defining the underlying format in which the audio data is encoded, in audio format and packet table chunks. A flag can be used to manage storage of the size of the audio data portion of the file, such that premature termination of an audio recording session does not result in an unreadable corrupted file.

This capability can be enabled by initially setting the flag to a value that does not correspond to a valid audio data size and that indicates that the last chunk in the file contains the audio data. State information for the audio data, to effectively denote a version of the file, and a dependency indicator for dependent metadata, may be maintained, where the dependency indicator indicates the...

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Mar 22
Apple patent is for display that emits circularly-...

An Apple patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a display that emits circularly-polarized light. The invention generally relates to liquid crystal displays.

More specifically, the present invention relates to a liquid crystal display that emits circularly-polarized light and thereby reduces perceived distortion when the display is viewed through linearly-polarizing filters such as polarized sunglasses. 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.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Explosive growth in the popularity of mobile communication and computing devices has created a burgeoning demand for low-power displays. Most portable digital devices include at least one display screen to output information to users. Liquid crystal displays (LCDs...

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Mar 22
Apple patents involve input devices, Bonjour, audio...

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

Patent number 7910843 is for a compact input device, specifically input devices utilizing three conducting layers and formed on flexible substrates. The input devices may be formed using three or more conducting layers. By including three or more conducting layers, the diameter of the input device may be minimized. In addition, to improve the flexibility of portions of the input device mounted, some portions of the input device may be made to have fewer layers than other portions of the input device. The inventors are Fletcher Rothkopf, Jan Moolsintong, Joseph Fisher,Wendell Sander, and Erturk Kocalar.

Patent number 7912501 involves an audio I/O headset plug and plug detection circuitry. A single prong, multiple signal conducting plug and plug detection circuitry is provided. The plug may be electrically coupled to a stereo...

| Read more »
 
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