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Feb 02
Greg's bite: smartphone humor

By Greg Mills

I spend several hours a day surfing the Internet, for all sorts of reasons. News, tech information and Apple news tend to be my focus. Sometimes I run across tech stories that are so humorous I can't imagine anyone taking them at face value.

Windows 7 iSkin? Yesterday, a story showed up in the press regarding a skin that converts the look and feel of an Apple iPhone into a Microsoft Windows 7 phone? This can only be done on a jailbroken iPhone. People who think themselves smarter than the folks at Apple who designed the most desirable smartphone on the planet are the only ones who might consider jailbreaking in the first place. But how many of them are so anal they prefer a WIndows 7 look and feel?

To me, especially now that the AT&T exclusive marketing program is over, any reasonable motivation for jailbreaking is irrational. To make a BMW look like a Bulgarian Yugo sub-compact, featureless car is beyond my...

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Feb 01
Apple patents range from doc summarization to...

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

Patent 7882450 is for interactive document summarization that allows the user to continuously control the amount of detail to be included in a document summary. The invention relates to the field of document summarization which is otherwise known as automatic abstracting wherein an extract of a document (i.e., a selection of sentences from the document) can serve as an abstract. The inventors are Jeremy J. Bornstein, Douglass R. Cutting, John D. Hatton and Daniel E. Rose.

Patent 7880729 is for a center button isolation ring. Selection button isolation arrangements for use with electronic devices are presented including: a selection pad forming a substantially planar surface disposed about a first axis, the selection pad having a pad top surface, the pad top surface configured to receive a user input, the selection pad...

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Feb 01
Greg's bite: tech buffoon roundup

By Greg Mills

Yesterday I expounded upon the rant of the CEO of netgear, Patrick Lo. The second string hardware manufacturing company's chief executive should be careful what he says around reporters. After the press widely quoted him seemingly gloating over Steve Jobs illness, he has spent the last 24 hours desperately back peddling and trying to take back his hurtful words.  

Classic foot in mouth syndrome. I know, because I do that myself, on occasion. What you read in this space is filtered by my editor, since my vocabulary and sarcasm sometimes exceed my tact.

The prospect of Apple "opening up" as Lo demanded is a remote possibility. Apple becoming just another Netgear sort of company, and Mr. Lo riding Apple's product line to greater profits is even more remote. He actually did state that some recent Netgear sales were related to people with iPads using them in the bathroom and needing another router to reach there.  Gee...

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Feb 01
Apple needs to beef up iBookstore as ereading...

Apple's iBookstore seems to be off to a good start. But as ereading grows in popularity, Apple needs to expand its offerings.

At launch, the iBookstore had 60,000 titles (I'm not sure how many it currently has). Amazon says it has 450,000 titles. Apple has a lot of catching up to do.

In a recent study to understand how portable, multi-function devices or MFDs (e.g., iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android devices, etc) are changing consumer book reading habits, consumers who utilized these devices expressed a tremendous affinity for them, struggling to come up with any significant shortcomings to reading ebooks on them. These consumers also revealed their specific preference for MFDs, usage occasions and their ebook purchasing habits.

The two-part study with over 300 MFD owners who have read an ebook in the past six months, was conducted by online qualitative research firm iModerate Research Technologies and research and publishing consultancy, Brock Associates. A...

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Feb 01
Greg's bite: why Android has peaked

By Greg Mills

When the Motorola/Apple cell phone came out in the summer of 2005, it was a great disappointment to both Apple and Apple fans. You might as well have taped an iPod to a standard cell phone. It sucked. Apple, by that point in time, already knew to do a cell phone right; they would have to start from scratch. The first thing they did was junk their cell phone engineering relationship with Motorola and scrap conventional notions of what a cell phone was.  

Then, the engineers and designers at Apple began to put the combination of novel software and touch screen hardware together that became the first iPhone. Since that time, Apple has taught Motorola a thing or two about smart cell phones. For that matter, every manufacturer of cell phones has been taken to the wood shed by Apple for a sound beating.  

The punishment continues as everyone in the cell phone industry has been made virtual  roadkill by the great Mac truck with an Apple...

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Jan 31
Greg's bite: Netgear's CEO rants

By Greg Mills

Wow, can you still make wine with sour grapes? I read an article published in an Australia-based publication with an interview with Netgear CEO Patrick Lo. Lo ranted and raved about the impending doom of Apple due to "closed up products." Translated from Australian, he means it really ticks him off that Netgear is locked out of much of the Apple market.

He attacks Apple CEO Steve Jobs personally for making business decisions that Lo laments as "dominating the market and shutting out competitors" more as an ego thing rather than a smart business decision. Ouch, what terrible thing to do to your poor competitors. To add insult to injury, it seems Jobs wouldn't return his phone calls. He states that "Once Steve Jobs goes away, which is probably not far away, then Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to to open up the platform".  

First of all, Steve Jobs is just sick, not dead, and we can be sure he is dealing with...

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Jan 31
Will your next desktop, notebook or tablet be virtual?

Imagine a relatively inexpensive, light, thin-client device that accesses your data center from anywhere, takes on the image of a typical desktop, provides all the appropriate data and applications you need throughout the day, and then reverts instantly to the proverbial tabula rasa when shut down -- or when the power goes out. 

And, since no data is stored on the device, there is no risk of having proprietary data fall into the wrong hands if the device is lost or stolen. Is this a dream come true? According to Logicalis (http://www.us.logicalis.com), an international provider of integrated information and communications technology (ICT) solutions and services,the answer is yes, the virtual desktop interface (VDI) can be just that.

 “VDI is changing the way people are thinking about the desktop,” says Logicalis’ virtualization expert Bill Parker. “There will always be a need for...

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Jan 29
Reporter's notebook: closing thoughts

Macworld Expo 2011 -- the annual trade show in San Francisco touting Apple-related products -- ends today (Saturday), and Macworld 2012 is slated for Jan. 26-28

This year's show was successful and very energetic with all the vendors and the visitors (an estimated 26,000) getting up close and personal. The only "major" vendor from past shows was with Hewlett-Packard. However, not everyone was impressed.

"This isn't a real computer or software show anymore -- it's a software and accessories show," Apple developer and book author Tony Bove told InternetNews.com (...

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Jan 28
Reporter's notes: a report from the Macworld...

Thursday saw Moscone Center West packed as the exhibit hall opened its doors for Macworld 2011. It will be interesting to see what sort of crowds attend today and Saturday (the last day of the show).

One mini-trend I noticed was Asian companies looking for US distributors for their products. One was the MacTiVia (http://www.awindinc.com/mctivia/). It's an US$199 device that that can show all the content of your Mac -- as well as Windows computers, if you care -- on your TV wirelessly. You can control up to eight computers with your mouse and/or keyboard. You can share any content from your computers with your friends and family in your living room.



The MacTiVia also works as a home wireless access point. You can use it to, for example, use your big screen TV to play Mac games, surf the web from your couch, access TV shows/movies online, and more. You can also use your iPhone as a...

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Jan 27
Apple patent is for dual anodization surface treatment

An Apple patent (number 20110017602) for dual anodization surface treatment has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. A metal surface treated to have two anodized layers or regions may be used in future electronic devices from Apple.

The surface treatment may include performing a first anodization process to create a first anodized layer, removing the first anodized layer at select locations, and performing a second anodization process to create a second anodized layer at the select locations. The first and second anodized regions may have different decorative properties, such as color, and different structural properties, such as degree of abrasion resistance. One of the anodization processes may be hard anodization and the other may be standard anodization. The inventor is Jivan K. Zhosla.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: The present invention relates to treatments for a surface of an article and an article with a treated surface...

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Jan 27
Reporter's Notebook: sunny in San Fran

The weather is great here in San Francisco. It was sunny and warm on Tuesday. Back in my hometown of Nashville, it's cold with two inches of snow. This is our third (or is it fourth?) snowfall of more than an inch of the white stuff -- and that's a rarity for Music City.

Sure, those of you who live in colder climes may laugh. But when you're not used to very much snow, you're not prepared to handle it. In fact, in Tennessee we just run on cars off in ditches when it starts snowing to avoid the rush.

The exhibit hall at Macworld opens today, so look for lots of coverage. Yesterday's MacTech Boot Camp was a big hit with around 125 folks attending. And Macworld looks to be off to a good start. This year’s Macworld has purportedly seen growth of about 10% more exhibitors than last year, and the number of registered attendees is up as well.

-- Dennis Sellers
dsellers@applecentral.com

| Read more »
Jan 26
Reporter's notebook: a long trip down

It was a looong trip down to San Francisco for the 2011 Macworld Conference & Expo. I spent all day Tuesday en route. Thank goodness for the iPad and its long battery life as I needed the iBooks and videos I had stored on it.

I flew from Nashville (my home base) to Philadelphia (don't ask), then to San Francisco. And my return route is from San Francisco to Chicago back to Nashville. I hope I don't run into any bad weather along the way.

I'm staying at the Cova Hotel on Ellis Street. It's about a mile and a half from the Moscone Center, where Macworld is taking place. But as long as its sunny, I don't mind the walk as it gives me a chance to see the city -- and burn off some of the way-too-many calories I'll consume this week.

Keep tabs today on the MacNews and MacTech web sites, as our Macworld coverage is in full swing.

-- Dennis Sellers
dsellers@applecentral.com

| Read more »
Jan 25
Apple patents range from hover sensitive devices to...

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

Patent number 7877707 involves detecting and interpreting real-world and security gestures on touch and hover sensitive devices. "Real-world" gestures such as hand or finger movements/orientations that are generally recognized to mean certain things (e.g., an "OK" hand signal generally indicates an affirmative response) can be interpreted by a touch or hover sensitive device to more efficiently and accurately effect intended operations. These gestures can include, but are not limited to, "OK gestures," "grasp everything gestures," "stamp of approval gestures," "circle select gestures," "X to delete gestures," "knock to inquire gestures," "hitchhiker directional gestures," and "shape gestures." In addition, gestures can be used to provide identification and allow or deny access to applications, files, and the like. The inventors are Wayne Carl...

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Jan 25
Greg's bite: Xoom info

By Greg Mills

From what I read about the upcoming Xoom tablet, it may not be the long anticipated iPad killer the PC crowd has been longing for. As I have mentioned in this space, the Tablet OS situation continues to be a problem for the companies that want a piece of Apple's pie.  Motorola, a household name in electronics has scrambled to offer something to compete with iPad. From what is known about Xoom, Apple's iPad is still safe.

Android for smart phones has been tweaked to accommodate a larger screen but will likely have most of the Android underpinnings. I have not read where Android apps can run on Xoom in the smaller mode as in the iOS iPad. Rumors are that Google has cooked up the tablet version of Android and calls it Honeycomb. Motorola has obtained an exclusive right to use Honeycomb for a period of time to allow them to launch Xoom.

The technical specs and price points floated are likely to sink Motorola's boat...

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Jan 25
Off to Macworld ....

I'm off to San Francisco to join the rest of the MacNews/MacTech gang in covering Macworld 2011. I have a day of travel ahead of me, so if coverage today is more sporadic than usual, that's why

But keep an eye on the sites this week. We'll have plenty of Macworld coverage.

| Read more »
Jan 24
Greg's bite: CEO succession at Apple, RIM...

By Greg Mills

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is entitled to privacy, and yet the press can't let the man alone and pass on purely speculative stories assuming we are going to lose Steve. Last time he took a leave of absence to have a liver transplant and recover, some ass of an editor accidentally ran an obituary.  

How charming. MSBNC is running a story regarding what they consider the 10 most likely candidates to take over as CEO of Apple. While I know it is big news due to the incredible growth at Apple and the stock situation, such speculation might be interesting but completely irrelevant for now.

One of the common themes in Apple succession stories is the notion that someone could fill Jobs' shoes if we lose him. That is a flawed notion. It is rare that a CEO has the amount of power Jobs wields at Apple. Normally, a CEO allows the staff to do a lot Steve does. At a minimum, the wisdom and polices Steve has laid down will guide...

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Jan 24
Is there WiDi in the Mac's future?

Is there WiDi (which stands for Intel Wireless Display) in Apple's future along with Wi-Fi? Actually, WiDi uses Wi-Fi to wirelessly move anything on a computer screen to an HDTV if the computer is running one of Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors.

Your TV set will have to have WiDi support -- either built-in or by adding an WiDi adapter. "Network World" (http://macte.ch/it4nh) says WiDi makes streaming any computer content to your big screen is easy: you basically simply run Intel's software on the laptop. No additional wiring is required, and the technology is by all accounts extremely low latency, meaning that the lag between content appearing on the notebook screen and on the set is minimal.

As "Network World" notes, the biggest drawback is that the technology is proprietary: if your notebook doesn't have a current Intel CPU, you're out of luck. The good news is that the Wi-Fi Alliance is working on...

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Jan 21
Greg's bite: Apple's strange screw...

By Greg Mills

I never cease to be amazed by the jaded reaction of the PC tech press to the neutral things Apple does. Mis-representing motives and incorrect conclusions that tend to cast a slightly evil cast on Apple sell high tech stories. It's like putting Jesus on the cover of a magazine with some outlandish story. The most recent trashing of Apple is over, of all things, the design of some unique tiny screws that hold iPhones together.

The variety of screw heads used in technology these days is amazing. First there was the flat screw head with one notch. Then there was the Philips head screw that revolutionized machine installation of screws in all sorts of applications. Having used drywall screws for countless applications far beyond drywall installation, I am of the opinion the inventor of the Philips screw head deserves the Noble prize for innovation in physics.  

As certainly as Moore's Law regarding microchip development is true,...

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Jan 21
I say Apple is the number two computer vendor in the...

I've argued that Macs and iPads should be lumped together when measuring personal computer sales. If you combine Mac and iPad sales for the last fiscal quarter -- 4.3 million and 7.33 million units, respectively -- that comes to 11.63 million units. That would mean Apple has 11.3% of the worldwide market for computer sales.

And why not combine the two? The iPad runs a variant -- a "lite" version if you will -- of Mac OS X. The Apple tablet is seen as competition for netbooks. And some folks are using it in lieu of a laptop.

So how does this 11.3% figure compare to the biggest computer makers in the world? Quite favorably, as Paul Thurrott writes on his "Supersite for Windows" (http://macte.ch/txXKc).

He notes that, based on the latest data, HP notched 17.77 million computers sold worldwide, Dell had 10.9 million and Acer 10.8 million units. Of course, this doesn't include the sales of other...

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Jan 20
Apple patent involves restoring data to a mobile...

Apple is planning on making it even easier to back up data on your iOS devices. A company patent number (20110016089) for restoring data to a mobile device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for backing up and restoring data to a mobile device. In general, one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of receiving data from a mobile device to be included in a backup, the data including data associated with one or more mobile device applications; storing the data in a backup archive; generating a backup mapping file for each of the mobile device applications, each backup mapping file identifying each file in the backup associated with the respective application; and using the backup mapping files to restore the corresponding applications to the mobile device. The inventors are Gordie...

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Jan 20
Apple patents cover various audio technologies

Several Apple patents have appeared today at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Most involve audio technologies of some sort.

Patent number 20110015765 involves controlling an audio and visual experience based on environment. A system can monitor an environment while playing back music. The system can then identify a characteristic property of the environment and modify an audio-related or visual-related operation based on the characteristic property. The characteristic property can be any suitable property of the environment or any combination thereof. For example, the characteristic property can be related to an ambient property of the environment (e.g., light or sounds) or the environment's occupants (e.g., number of people nearby). The system can then modify its operation in any suitable manner based on the characteristic property. For example, the system can provide a visualization of music based on at least the characteristic property. In another...

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Jan 20
Apple eyeing virtual keyboards for the Mac?

An Apple patent (number 20110012717) for a method and apparatus for localization of haptic feedback has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The patent seems to indicate that the company is working on "virtual keyboards" for the Mac.

In one embodiment, a haptic feedback system includes a plurality of actuators to provide tactile feedback associated with an input surface. Each actuator is adapted to be activated independently of the other actuators. The system further includes a controller to activate a first actuator of the plurality of actuators to induce a first vibration at a selected input location of the input surface and to activate one or more additional actuators to induce at least a second vibration to localize the first vibration at the selected input location. The inventors are Aleksandar Pance, Paul Alioshin, Brett Bilbrey and David Thomas Amm.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present disclosure relates generally to...

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Jan 20
A future Mac mouse might have a built-in display

An upcoming Mac mouse could sport a built-in display, as indicated by a new patent (number 20110012838) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent, in an embodiment, an input device, such as computer mouse, includes an interface to communicate user interactions to a host system and a display assembly to display an image to a user.

In some examples, the display device will include a collimated glass component. A method is disclosed that includes displaying an image at an input device, such as a mouse, and then displaying a second image in response to a user input through the input device. The inventors are Aleksandar Pance, Brett Bilbrey and Duncan Kerr.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present disclosure relates generally to a computer input device a display device, and more particularly relates to an input device using such display to convey visually observable data such as colors and images to a user of the input device. In...

| Read more »
Jan 20
Greg's bite: Nokia's N7 smartphone, out of...

By Greg Mills

Nokia's N7 (or X7) new touch screen smartphone running the Symbian 3 OS failed to excite AT&T enough, so the pending launch in the US was pulled at the last minute by Nokia.  

Punishing AT&T for not getting too excited about another "me, too" touch screen smart phone is certain to be self-flagellation, a concept that went out with the Middle Ages. AT&T has come to the same conclusion I have long been advocating in this space: there just isn't enough interest in the market place for more than two or at the most three smartphone OS platforms. The rest are doomed to Kin out.

The smartphone market may actually boil down to just two platforms: Apple's iOS and Google's Android platform. RIM is struggling and seeing its market share drop each quarter as the two-year contracts with business users expire. The enterprise market is embracing Apple's iPad and iPhone in mass. Blackberry users who actually try the iPhone touch...

| Read more »
Jan 20
The future of movie watching: Apple will go its own...

Recently we looked at two competing formats for consumer movie watching (before I interrupted this series for Apple financial predictions and coverage): UltraViolet and Disney's Keychest, that will probably help shape the future of digital media on-line (both renting and buying). The Sellers Research Group (that's me) predicts that if Apple backs either format -- and that's a big "IF" (but more on that in a moment) -- it will go with Keychest.

With Keychest, no physical possession or media will be involved. The media would live in the cloud and be available on-demand in a way similar to the way Google Docs are accessed. Users would simply enter their unique key and begin streaming their media.

"The easiest way to explain [Keyestl] is with an example and the most obvious to us is iTunes and Comcast," says engadget (http://macte.ch/yM361). "Both companies offer video on demand and use their own DRM to...

| Read more »
 
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