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Apr 07
Apple plans to simplify back-up navigation on the Mac

Apple plans to simplify back-up procedures -- and finding files in back-ups -- per two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20110083088 is for navigation of electronic backups. Systems and methods for navigating within snapshots are provided. In one implementation a method is provided. The method includes receiving, while a current view is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting that a history view associated with the current view be displayed. The history view is displayed in response to the first user input, the history view including at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view, the earlier version including a hierarchical structure wherein a first element of the earlier version includes a second element.

There is received, while the history view is displayed, a second user input requesting that the current view be modified according to the second element. The method...

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Apr 07
Greg's bite: Google Gigs KCK, town meeting notes

By Greg Mills

One Gig per second fiber optic Internet is coming to KCK starting late in the year or very early next year. Google picked Kansas City, Kansas, for a number of obscure reasons that have a lot more to do with our blind luck than anything else. As it turns out a number of odd factors in combination, led Google to choose KCK to test the notion of: what happens if you provide 1 Gig Internet at typical cable modem prices to Americans?  

We are a test bed for innovation in applying super fast Internet access to do who knows what?  They are going to follow closely to see what happens here to figure out what would happen if 1 Gig was common in the entire US. What novel applications and businesses will result? 

Google is betting, and I expect rightly so, that serious internet  based innovation will result.   That innovation will get more people on line viewing Google ads and doing other things that makes their cash registers ring. Google is...

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Apr 07
One MacBook Pro or an iMac plus an Air?

Earlier this week storms and tornadoes raged through Tennessee, causing a great deal of damage. Two trees toppled on the road where I live, tearing down electrical, phone and cable lines. I was without power and Internet for over 24 hours, which is very inconvenient for an on-line editor.

For some time now, I've been using a 27-inch iMac as my main work machine (and only Mac) and using my iPad for a minimum amount of work when I'm on the road (which is rare). I love my Apple tablet, but quickly found out it doesn't cut it when I need be running Safari, Pages, Pixelmator and Mail -- and jumping back and forth between the apps.

To keep MacNews.com and MacTech.com updated as best I could, I borrowed my wife's aging MacBook Pro and worked from my church building, which still had electricity and Internet service after the storms passed.

This was very inconvenient, as I had to set up my Mail preferences and move various files over to my wife's MP Pro. It's made me...

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Apr 07
Apple granted patent for pulsed control of a camera...

Apple granted patent for Apple has been granted a patent (number 20110081142) for pulsed control of a camera flash by the US Patent & Trademark Office. An embodiment of the invention relates generally to electronic devices having a camera function (referred to here as an electronic camera device), and more particularly to techniques for controlling the camera flash.

Per the patent, input from a user is received, to take a picture. A camera flash is signaled to produce multiple flash pulses during a single shutter cycle of the picture. The amplitudes of at least two of the flash pulses are different relative to each other.

The picture is stored, including in its metadata information that describes the variable amplitude of the flash pulses that illuminated the scene when taking the picture. The information describing the variable amplitude of the flash pulses is used to deblur the picture. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the...

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Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

Apple has won a patent (number 7921187) for a newsreader for a mobile device.

Per the patent, providing information to a mobile device can include receiving a translation request from a mobile device, wherein the translation request includes a resource locator identifying information in a native format; accessing the information identified by the resource locator, wherein the information is retrieved from a local cache if available and otherwise is retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator; translating at least a portion of the information identified by the resource locator to generate a translated file in a supported format; and transmitting the translated file to the mobile device.

Further, the information retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator can be stored in the local cache. Additionally, the information identified by the resource locator can be cleared from the local cache after a predetermined amount of time. The...

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Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

Apple has won a patent (number 7921187) for a newsreader for a mobile device.

Per the patent, providing information to a mobile device can include receiving a translation request from a mobile device, wherein the translation request includes a resource locator identifying information in a native format; accessing the information identified by the resource locator, wherein the information is retrieved from a local cache if available and otherwise is retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator; translating at least a portion of the information identified by the resource locator to generate a translated file in a supported format; and transmitting the translated file to the mobile device.

Further, the information retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator can be stored in the local cache. Additionally, the information identified by the resource locator can be cleared from the local cache after a predetermined amount of time. The...

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Apr 06
Apple eyeing combo USB 3.0/DisplayPort connector

An Apple patent (number 7918689) for a reduced size multi-pin male plug connector has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It would combine DisplayPort and USB 3.0 connectors -- and, perhaps, Thunderbolt, as well.

Per the patent, receptacle connectors and male plug connectors having a reduced size in at least one direction can be provided. One example reduces height by not including a center contact tab or tongue, but instead places contacts on an insulator that is adjacent to a bottom portion of the receptacle. Another example may reduce width by reducing contact pitch, and may use a particular shape of contact to achieve god signal quality.

Receptacle connectors and male plug connectors can also provide support for one or more new high-speed communication standards, such as USB 3.0 and DisplayPort. Methods can provide one or more standardized connector components to speed connector design and manufacture of new electronic devices such as media players...

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Apr 06
Greg's bite: Apple's new touch screen...

By Greg Mills

Apple just had four more touch screen patents added to its portfolio yesterday. Touch screen patents are going to be gold in the coming federal lawsuit Apple has filed against every Android handset maker out there.  

The notion of inventing things and then patenting the ideas are what the US Constitution has given the right for inventors to sue if anyone uses those protected ideas. The timing of filing and receiving patents is longer than the patent office would like and the result is often unintentional infringement. Designing things that stumble upon the filed but not issued patents of others is always an issue for high tech firms.

When everyone in the high tech industry is struggling to come up with novel touch screen technology for smart phones and tablets, Apple with its head start, scarfed up a lot of somewhat obvious technology early on. This was long before the competition got to work on their products and parts.  

...

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Apr 05
Greg's bite: Google gigs Kansas City, Kansas

By Greg Mills

When out of the blue someone offers you a horse, it is rude to immediately check the horse's teeth right in front of them. Eventually, however, one takes a look at the finer details of the critter. Is it a broken-down, sway-backed hay burner or a fine race horse worth more than the family farm?

After a couple of calls to Kansas City Kansas City Hall, I got a city clerk to send me, by email, the 25-page agreement in PDF format, between Google and the city.  Considering the promised fiber optic network installation is worth several million dollars and represents a long term business deal for what amounts to a new Internet city utility, the document is pretty blunt and short. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.  I have digested the contract and present an executive summary with numbered lines below.

As I scrutinize the document it is clear that Google holds the high cards in making the deal with KCK.  While the obvious...

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Apr 05
SSDs not going to replace HHDs any time soon

Apple loves SSD [solid state device] storage, which is one of the darlings of the tech world right now. But the fact is that flash SSDs aren't going to replace traditional hard disk drives (HHDs) any time soon.

Why? They're much more expensive and most of us are continually increasing our amount of digital media so we need roomy, inexpensive storage.

Of course, if we all store our music, videos and other data (including apps and valuable documents) "in the cloud" as some predict, SSD-based computers might take the lead. But as I've said repeatedly (and I won't rehash that argument here), I don't think cloud storage is going to replace traditional storage, but will, instead, complement it.

That's why hot selling, SSD-based items like the iPad and the MacBook Air are rarely used as a primary machine. They're usually companions to a Mac or (gulp) Windows system.

There's no denying that the SSD has some advantages over the HHD. Mechanical failure is the...

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Apr 05
Apple granted patents for thin touch sensor panels,...

Apple has been granted patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving touch sensor panels, keystroke tactility arrangements,

Patent number 7918019 is for a method for fabricating thin DITO or SITO touch sensor panels with a thickness less than a minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment. In one embodiment, a sandwich of two thin glass sheets is formed such that the combined thickness of the glass sheets does not drop below the minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment when thin film process is performed on the surfaces of the sandwich during fabrication.

The sandwich may eventually be separated to form two thin SITO/DITO panels. In another embodiment, the fabrication process involves laminating two patterned thick substrates, each having at least the minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment.

One or both of the sides of the laminated substrates are then thinned so...

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Apr 03
Home Wi-Fi 30% slower than wired connection

If you want the fastest possible home network, you'll want to go wired, not wireless. Download speeds for consumers using Wi-Fi stations are on average 30 percent slower than they are for users of fixed connections, because of physical barriers and interference from devices like microwaves, reports "Reuters" (http://macte.ch/CNPg4).

Broadband research firm Epitiro said the differences are rarely visible when surfing Internet, but higher latency and bigger loss of data transferred over WiFi connection could well hurt usage of online gaming, Internet telephony or video streaming. He says the advice to consumers is simple.

"Set up your laptop at location at home where you get a good signal," said professor Andy Nix from Bristol University. "When you are far from the WiFi station, on battery, and your microwave is on -- the connection is not that great."

For the study Epitiro monitored performance of...

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Apr 01
Greg's bite: 1 Gigabit Internet issues

By Greg Mills

As I mentioned in my article yesterday, I live in Kansas City, Kansas, where Google is planning to launch a state of the art "1 Gigabit fiber optic Internet" system as a test. As news of this development came out questions came up that are slowly finding answers. The cost per month for residential service is expected to be similar to what broadband cable Internet costs now. That is from US$30 to $50 per month.  

One older city council member was quite upset that he only had 48 hours to decide how to vote on accepting Google's offer. I suspect he would slam the door on the Publisher's Clearing House $10,000,000 award team, as to not encourage door-to-door salesmen. Who needs all those tacky balloons anyway?

Yesterday I mused that the bottle neck for such blinding speed for a lot of people would be their computers and Wi-Fi routers, and that turns out to be true. The notion that one small fiberoptic strand coming into your home...

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Apr 01
The Northern Spy: the worth of a word

By Rick Sutcliffe

"The word processor is mightier than the sword" or so it has been said. (Well, the Spy just said it, didn't he?). More than that, the words a person speaks or writes are a window on the soul -- from one acquainted in the spirit with the spirit of love and truth come both; from one not so, the opposite. The lips, pen, and typing hands of the blessed yield blessings, praise, encouragement, and exhortation--a stirring to decency, honour, valour, and all things both good and sanctified.

In the hands of a great wordsmith like Winston Churchill, they become weapons, whether by directly attacking a foe, or by inspiring others to do the same. In the hands of an orator the likes of John Diefenbaker they are things of wonder, rapiers with which to conduct verbal fencing to the delight of all but the hapless opponent. (Who could forget "terminological inexactitude"?) Debates are not won merely by word selection, but by the skill and the...

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Apr 01
Study of iPad users identifies obstacles for The Daily

I like The Daily -- the first iPad only, digital magazine -- well enough, but to attract a large number of users and generate substantial subscription revenue, The Daily -- released by News Corp. in February -- will need to overcome a few obstacles with iPad owners who consume news online.

These obstacles include the perception among those with the greatest interest in news that The Daily’s content is lacking, that superior content is available elsewhere online for free and the expectation that apps are purchased through one-time transactions, as opposed to the recurring subscription model The Daily employs. Identifying these obstacles comprises the major finding of research on The Daily released by knowDigital, which funded and independently completed the study. A report detailing this and other key findings is now available for free download from the company’s website (http://www.knowDigital.com...

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Apr 01
Greg's bite: One bad apple to discontinue iPad

By Greg Mills

Craig Mundie, the chief research and strategy vice president at Microsoft lowered the boom recently and caused Apple management and Steve Jobs himself to reconsider the folly of manufacturing and selling iPads. The Apple iPad has no keyboard and Mr. Mundie thinks touch screen tablet computers are just a fad that won't last.  

Shaken to the core at that sage revelation, Apple hastily pulled the plug on the faulty iPad device, worldwide. Apple stock went into a tail spin and long, rowdy lines formed swiftly for people trying to return their iPad 2 at Apple stores around the world. The frantic rush was to get their money back before the refund reserve is gone and Apple goes stone broke.  

Since Apple also decided to abandon the Apple iOS in favor of Windows 7 Mobile, all iPads are now junk and iPhones are reportedly no longer working on the AT&T network. (Did the iPhone ever really work on AT&T?)

Mr. Mundie stated in a...

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Mar 31
Apple investigating 3D cameras for iPhones, iPads

An Apple patent (number 20110074931) for systems and methods for an imaging system using multiple image sensors has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is considering future iPhones and iPads that can take 3D photos.

Per the patent Systems and methods may employ separate image sensors for collecting different types of data. In one embodiment, separate luma, chroma and 3-D image sensors may be used. The systems and methods may involve generating an alignment transform for the image sensors, and using the 3-D data from the 3-D image sensor to process disparity compensation. The systems and methods may involve image sensing, capture, processing, rendering and/or generating images.

For example, one embodiment may provide an imaging system, including: a first image sensor configured to obtain luminance data of a scene; a second image sensor configured to obtain chrominance data of the scene; a third image sensor configured to obtain...

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Mar 31
Apple patent is for a self-adapting alert device

An Apple patent (number 20110077055) for a self-adapting alert device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. In other words, Apple is working to make sure that you don't miss an iPhone call even in a noisy environment.

Methods and apparatuses are disclosed that allow an electronic device to autonomously adapt one or more user alerts to the current operating environment of the electronic device. For example, some embodiments may include a method comprising providing a plurality of alert devices in an electronic device, determining an operating environment of the electronic device using a sensor of the electronic device, and actuating at least one of the plurality of alert devices that corresponds to the determined operating environment. The inventors are Dave Pakula, Matthew Hill, Ethan Larry Huwe, Fletcher Rothkopf and Richard Hung Minh Dinh.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Electronic devices are ubiquitous in society and can be...

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Mar 31
Apple eyeing Spaces type feature for the iPad

An Apple patent (number 20110078624) for a device method and graphical user interface for manipulating workspace views has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It indicates that Apple is thinking of bring the Spaces feature of Mac OS X to the iPad. Actually, the patent could also mean Spaces for the iPhone and iPod touch, but, with their smaller screens, that doesn't seem practical.

On Mac OS X, Spaces lets you group application windows together according to the way you work and easily switch between them. You can organize each space just the way you want it.

Per the patent, in some embodiments, a multifunction device with a display and a touch-sensitive surface creates a plurality of workspace views. A respective workspace view is configured to contain content assigned by a user to the respective workspace view. The content includes application windows.

The device displays a first workspace view in the plurality of workspace views on the display...

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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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