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Dec 07
Expect to see Sandy Bridge Macs by spring

I'll be very surprised if we don't see a Sandy Bridge-based Mac by spring. I suspect it will be iMac -- with MacBook Pro and Mac Pro versions to follow. The question is: what new features will Apple introduce with the processor, which offers some intriguing possibilities?

Intel purportedly plans to introduced its next-generation processors during a Jan. 5 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show. According to an invitation sent to the press, Intel PC Client Group general manager Mooly Eden will show off the new processors, which will include the "world's fastest processor." The new processors are expected to replace the Nehalem line of chips currently used in Apple's Core i5 and i7-equipped iMacs and MacBook Pros. Six and eight-core chips will also follow later in 2011.

Desktop chips will reported range from dual 2.5GHz Core i3s to quad 3.4GHz Core i7s. Regular notebook should be able to get dual 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz Core i5 and i7 chips in the first batch of processors,...

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Dec 07
Greg's bite: WiKiLeaks threaten us all

By Greg Mills

The recent leak of a considerable cache of secret diplomatic cables underlines a significant issue that will have a profound effect upon us all.

To add insult to injury, the criminal mastermind behind all this has threatened to unleash even more secret information that is already downloaded but sealed with 256-bit encryption. That massive file only needs a key posted on the internet for thousands of copies of this new, and according to him, damaging information to also be released.  

The Googlistic notion that everything written ought to be posted on line certainly has limits even in a democratic society. There are certainly embarrassing things every government does that might need to see the light of day but the ass behind Wikileaks is not qualified to make that determination. The liberal slant that makes it wrong to go to war over any justification leads to movements like Hitler led in WW2. As the English philosopher Edmund...

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Dec 06
Greg's bite: Motorola's Android Droid 2...

By Greg Mills

A Texas man claims his Android phone exploded in his ear. The guy claims he was just talking on the phone -- and boom! Some smart phone models are duds, and some brands bomb out in the market place, but this is a first.   

Incredibly, the phone still works, which leads to the question what part blew up? Normally, when an electronic device explodes, it is a battery that overheats due to a dead short and the gasses expand the metal case of the battery until it explodes or just oozes lithium paste out. The explosion of an electronic device is not the sort of giant fire bomb where a car is thrown up into the air with a flash of billowing flame and smoke, like you see on TV, but you don't want to have it happen in your ear. Aron Embry of Cedar Hill, Texas. says there was a loud pop on his Android phone, and he discovered later his ear was bleeding. He went to the ER and got patched up.  Motorola is investigating, but hadn't...

| Read more »
Dec 06
Study: US pay-TV subscribers want universal access

TelcoTV 2010, a video conference and expo focused on the US service provider market, has published a study titled "Telco TV Customers: How Keen on Multiscreen?," which explores US pay-TV subscribers' attitudes and usage of mobile and online video, and revealed important conclusions about multiplatform TV services. And it makes you wonder if there aren't some great opportunities for the Apple TV and Apple's upcoming data center in North Carolina.

"The survey found that a number of pay-TV subscribers were interested in accessing TV shows from anywhere in the world via a computer or mobile device, even if they had to pay a monthly fee of $10 per month for this capability," says TelecoTV in the study. "The survey also found that out-of-home access to TV services was an important criterion for some subscribers when selecting their pay-TV provider."

The annual study of US pay-TV subscribers was conducted by Heavy Reading (...

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Dec 03
Companies that Apple might buy (but probably won'...

Apple has over $50 billion in cash. CEO Steve Jobs has said the dough is available should Apple decide to make any "strategic purchases." So what companies might be a good "strategy purpose" for our favorite tech company? Yesterday we looked at Netflix; today we'll consider AMD.

There are some good reasons why Apple might consider scooping up AMD. Analyst Rob Enderle says Apple could want the company for its Fusion technology, which will be the first blended high performance GPU/CPU part. Enderle notes that Jobs already values the graphics side of his platform more than the number crunching side and this would give him exclusive access to the only blended part in the market -- and one that particularly favors Apple’s graphics intensive platforms.

"While Apple has never been a fan of AMD, they actually liked and used ATI a great deal and the idea of getting out from under Intel is likely appealing to them as well," says Enderle. "Apple likes its suppliers to jump to...

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Dec 03
Companies that Apple might buy (but probably won'...

Apple has over $50 billion in cash. CEO Steve Jobs has said the dough is available should Apple decide to make any "strategic purchases." So what companies might be a good "strategy purpose" for our favorite tech company? Yesterday we looked at Netflix; today we'll consider AMD.

There are some good reasons why Apple might consider scooping up AMD. Analyst Rob Enderle says Apple could want the company for its Fusion technology, which will be the first blended high performance GPU/CPU part. Enderle notes that Jobs already values the graphics side of his platform more than the number crunching side and this would give him exclusive access to the only blended part in the market -- and one that particularly favors Apple’s graphics intensive platforms.

"While Apple has never been a fan of AMD, they actually liked and used ATI a great deal and the idea of getting out from under Intel is likely appealing to them as well," says Enderle. "Apple likes its suppliers to jump to...

| Read more »
Dec 02
Apple working on phyics-based graphic user interface

Future Apple operating systems may be even more "animated," based on some work Apple is doing. An Apple patent (number 20100306680) for a framework for designing a physics-based graphic user interface has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A graphics development framework for designing physics-based graphical user interfaces is described. According to one embodiment, visually linkable patches are displayed in a first window of a graphics development framework, where the patches represent a graphics composition which when rendered, animate a physical movement of a graphics object of the physics-based graphical user interface.

A feedback patch is displayed to visually provide a feedback from an output of the composition to an input of the composition, such that a subsequent physical movement of the graphics object is determined based on a previous physical movement of the graphics object, without requiring a user to program source code of the displayed...

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Dec 02
Future Mac keyboards may be illuminated, more colorful

Apple is eyeing ways to make its Mac keyboards more colorful and more informative. A company patent (number 20100306683) for user interface behaviors for an input device with individually controlled illuminated input elements has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Methods and apparatuses are disclosed that provide user interface behaviors for input devices with individually controlled illuminated input elements. Some embodiments may include receiving a request for input device lighting from a program, determining illumination information for light sources coupled to input elements of an input device based on the request, and dynamically controlling illumination of the light sources based on the illumination information.

The illumination information may include brightness, color, and/or duration. The input device may constitute a keyboard with individually controlled illuminated keys. In some embodiments, the illumination may present information...

| Read more »
Dec 02
Apple wants you to iCruise with your iOS device

Apple wants you to iCruise with your iOS device. A patent (number 20100306075) for systems and methods for accessing cruise services using a portable device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is directed to systems and methods for accessing cruise services using a single, integrated application available to a portable electronic device. Through the integrated application, a user can access and control cruise services throughout all aspects of the cruise experience, including before booking a cruise, before boarding a cruise, while on the cruise ship, when a cruise ship is docked at a port, and after the cruise has finished.

In some embodiments, the integrated application can provide the user with notifications of available cruise activities. For example, unsold cruise activities for cruise activities that can be purchased can be identified. The user can then be provided with a notification of the unsold cruise activity, provided with an...

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Dec 02
Greg's bite: iPad Folder Bug, NetFlix, iPhone,...

By Greg Mills

iOS 4.2.1 folder bugApple is working on recreating the iOS 4.2.1 disappearing folder bug. The bug has been reported to me by six readers, so far.  

The steps that may or may not result in the folders disappearing are.  

° Load the new iPad iOS 4.2.1 on to your iPad.

° Sort apps into folders  

° Download app updates to some apps in folders over Wi-Fi before syncing iPad with iTunes.  

° All Folders disappear and apps are spread out randomly.  

I was contacted yesterday by Apple and can thus confirm they are now aware of the problem and hopefully will fix it with the iPad iOS release scheduled for mid-December. Apple does a great job of fixing issues like this that aren't dangerous but a nuisance. 

NetFlix has grown to the point it consumes 15% to 20% of the Internet bandwidth in many locations in the US. Those of us with unlimited data plans may find caps put on...

| Read more »
Dec 02
Apple patent is for magnetic connector with optical...

Apple may revamp -- or perhaps replace -- its MagSafe connector for its laptop line. An Apple patent (number 7841776) for a magnetic connector with optical signal path has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Circuits, apparatus, and methods that provide a connector system that can supply both power and data to a mobile computing or other type of device using a single connection. Further examples also provide a power and data adapter that can provide power and data to a mobile computing device using a single cable. Further examples provide an easy disengagement when a cable connected to the connector is pulled. One such example provides a magnetic connector that uncouples without binding when its cord is pulled. Another example prevents power from being provided at a connector insert until the connector insert is placed in a connector receptacle. The inventors of the patent are John C. Difonzo, Chris Ligtenberg and Michael Culbert.

Here's Apple's...

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Dec 02
Apple patents range from image selection to card...

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

Patent number 20100306684 is for a graphical representation of out-of-bound image selection. The patent is directed to differentiating between portions of a selection area that are within the boundary of displayed information and portions of the selection area that are beyond the boundary of the displayed information. In some embodiments, the graphical representation of the selection area can change based on the position of the selection area relative to the boundary of the displayed information.

In particular, the representation of portions or regions of the selection area that are within the boundary of the displayed information can be different than the representation of the portions or regions of the selection area that extend beyond the boundary of the displayed information. For example, the electronic device can provide different fills...

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Dec 02
Companies that Apple might buy (but probably won'...

Apple has over $50 billion in cash. CEO Steve Jobs has said the dough is available should Apple decide to make any "strategic purchases." So what companies might be a good "strategy purpose" for our favorite tech company?

My "MacNews/MacTech" writing compadre, Greg Mills, thinks Apple will buy Netflix. There are some good reasons why it should. Apple could beef up its presence in the television/entertainment area. And Netflix is a strong company -- and getting stronger.

An analyst with Gleacher & Company, says (http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewarticle/articleid/4613650) the transaction would make sense. "You know, Apple wants to be the first company to seamlessly integrate the home office and the living room," he says. "What's limiting them now is basically content and better broadband into the home....

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Dec 01
I'm dubious about a 7-inch iPad -- or one with a...

A "Digitimes" report (http://www.digitimes.com) -- quoting the Chinese-language "Economy Daily News" -- says the next rev of the iPad will add five "distinct new features." However, I'm dubious about at least one of them, as I am about reports of a 7-inch model.

"Digitimes" says the five new features include "video phone, better mobility, USB port, new display technology and 3-axis gyroscopes." The gyroscope, video phone (actually, a camera for use with Apple's FaceTime technology) are pretty much givens. The "better mobility" refers to an even thinner and smaller iPad, something that's also likely if reports -- based on discovered patents -- that Apple is considering an iPad made of a fiber-in-matrix material such as CFRP prove true.

However, I don't think we'll see a smaller iPad. Why? Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said that the 9.7-inch display on the current iPad is the optimum size for features...

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Dec 01
Greg's bite: Microsoft Mobile Vista 7 crashes and...

By Greg Mills

The big returns are really coming in regarding Microsoft's Mobile Vista 7.  I mean big numbers of phones physically being returned by customers to the cell companies who sold them.  

Big as in a very large sales disappointment for both cell phone companies around the world and cell phone hardware manufacturing partners who were willing to give the Kin crew one more chance. Numbers like 2% of all new phone sales being the new Microsoft phones isn't good news for Redmond.  

The street analysts who spelled out the high expectations for Microsoft's new, but "too-late-to-the-party, unsupported by developers, last ditch stand" smart phone OS platform have to be factoring in a further decline in Microsoft stock. Hit one out of the ball park they did not.

Mobile Vista 7 phones just working and having some novel graphics was not enough to wow either the stock market, developers or consumers who have to consider the strong...

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Nov 30
The iPad at seven months in the wild -- what...

By Terry Jarrell
Apple Consultants Network

Thinking back to this past April, it's hard to believe iPad has only been with us a little over 7 months. The world has changed considerably since then with the explosion of the Apple App Store, and so many others scurrying to release their take on the most successful electronics device in history.

The real story is in iPad users themselves and how there has been an awakening, in a major way, to so many professional industries that had previously been stuck in older, inefficient ways of doing business.

It doesn't take a wild imagination to imagine medical professionals loving iPad. The MacPractice app for iPhone was released a couple years ago but now, the iPad app really brings this functionality home. Med pros can access their patient data literally from anywhere they have an Internet connection, safely and securely. The larger screen is perfect for viewing photos and interact with other...

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Nov 30
Apple patents range from virtual keyboards to media...

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

Patent number 7844914 involves activating virtual keys of a touch-screen virtual keyboard. A touch location is determined based on location data pertaining to touch input on the touch screen, wherein the touch input is intended to activate one of the plurality of virtual keys. Each of the plurality of virtual keys has a set of at least one key location corresponding to it. For each of the virtual keys, a parameter (such as physical distance) is determined for that virtual key that relates the touch location and the set of at least one key location corresponding to that virtual key. The determined parameters are processed to determine one of the virtual keys. For example, the determined one virtual key may be the virtual key with a key location (or more than one key location, on average) being closest to the touch location. A signal is generated...

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Nov 30
Apple patent involves handling special windows in a...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7844902) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for an apparatus and method for handling special windows in a display. It could foreshadow some changes in upcoming versions of Mac OS X.

The apparatus and method for handling special windows in a display comprises a window manager in an operating system that is called by application programs to create special windows. The window manager embeds static key signals including encoded special window information, such as the coordinates of a window area to be specially processed, into a video RAM. An existing video interface scans the video RAM and transmits display information, including the key signals, to the display.

The present invention further comprises a window decoder in the display, that detects the key signals, extracts the encoded special window information, and controls display circuitry performing the desired special processing. The key signal encoding scheme does not...

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Nov 30
Apple wins patent for 3D display system

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7843449) for a three-dimensional display system. Don't expect Macs with 3D displays anytime soon, but they may be coming -- and without the need for special glasses, if Apple has its way. After all, Intel's Sandy Bridge processor will debut in January and will certainly arrive in Macs next year. And the processor offers native support for 3D stereoscopic video playback (as well as Blu-ray and USB 3.0).

The patent -- invented by Christoph H. Krah -- involves a method of displaying three-dimensional images providing a projection screen having a spatial filter defining a predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function. It also: determines the left and right eye locations of at least one observer in proximity with the projection screen; projects left and right sub-images of a three-dimensional image toward the projection screen; and angularly and intensity modulaties the left and right sub-images respectively in coordination...

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Nov 30
Blu-ray disc sales grow 80% year-over-year

I'm pretty sure we'll never see Apple support for Blu-ray playback on the Mac platform because Steve Jobs is convinced all movie purchasing will soon be via download (I think he's wrong), but I'm still hoping that Apple will at least provide the "hooks" in Mac OS X to allow third parties to release plug-and-play Blu-ray players for my favorite computing platform.

And I think there's plenty of evidence that this makes sense. According to figures released in October by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, consumer purchases of Blu-ray Disc software reached US$1 billion by Sept. 30. Sales increased 80% over the same period of 2009.

Hardware sales also continued to climb, with over three million standalone BD players sold in the first nine months of the year -- a year-over-year increase of 104%. This brings the total installed base of Blu-ray playback devices in the U.S. to 21.1 million units. DEG president Ron Sanders (also is president of Warner Home Video) has...

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Nov 30
Greg's bite: Apple's Living Room Aspirations...

By Greg Mills

As an Apple fan and a believer in the wisdom of most of what comes out of Cupertino, I bought the most recent Apple TV device and have used it quite a bit since it was first launched. As I noted in this space on a number of occasions I think there is an opening for Apple to challenge the cable/satellite TV content providers, since a lot of people hate them, but it won't be easy and it is not happening yet for Apple. The numbers aren't right yet.

We see the decline of physical media for digital video content delivery, to be sure, but what is replacing video tapes and disks isn't steaming video over iTunes, but rather NetFlix and other streaming content providers with affordable, flat rate monthly plans. Apple TV's iTunes video content available for streaming is way too expensive; the one-off, rental "go to market plan" needs drastic reworking to succeed.

When you analyze the video content offered by Apple TV and the attempt to rent...

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Nov 29
Holiday survey looks good for the iPhone, iPad

PriceGrabber, a part of Experian, has released its second holiday spending consumer behavior report, "A Deep Dive into Online Holiday Spending Trends." And it's good news for the iPhone and iPad.

In PriceGrabber's holiday survey, consumers were asked which smartphone they would prefer to receive as a gift this holiday season. The iPhone took the lead, with 47% of consumers choosing the iPhone 4 over other smartphones. Twenty-two percent of shoppers prefer the Motorola Droid, and 13% choose the RIM Blackberry Torch as the smartphone they would like to receive.

When it comes to devices that consumers prefer for e-reading, 59% of consumers selected the iPad as their device of choice. Twenty-one percent of consumers pick the Amazon Kindle. Five percent selected the Barnes & Noble Nook, and 3% choose the Dell Streak as their preferred e-reader.

Tablet computers are forecast to be one of the most popular technology gadget gifts this holiday season. The number of...

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Nov 29
Greg's bite: Iran should sue Microsoft, Steve...

By Greg Mills

Despite repeated attempts to purge industrial controllers running Iranian plutonium centrifuges and the control systems of their new nuclear reactor (still not on line) the Stuxnet worm continues to wreak havoc.  

One has to take a fresh look at the situation and the legal situation posed. While no one has come forward to admit they wrote the Pulitzer Prize worthy malware called Stuxnet, the facts are plenty clear where a giant portion of the blame lies: Microsoft Corp. and its CEO Steve Ballmer.

Much has been written over the years about the "Apple tax," or additional cost of owning and running Macs as opposed to Windows PCs. The truth is that the pendulum has swung in the other direction in the last few years. If you run Windows of any flavor you had better sign up for an anti-malware service or plan to suffer the consequences. While certainly the Mac is becoming a much larger target for hackers due to increased market...

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Nov 26
Apple patents involve credential authorization,...

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

Patent number 20100200729 is for server computer issued credential authorization. Methods and systems for authenticating computers is disclosed. The methods and system include issue a credential from a first computer to a second computer. When the second computer authenticates to the first computer, the second computer transmits the credential and a first challenge to the first computer. The first computer determines whether the credential is valid, computes a first response to the first challenge, and generates a second challenge. The first computer transmits the first response and the second challenge to the second computer. The second computer determines whether the first response is valid and computes a second response to the second challenge. The second computer transmits the second response to the first computer in order to verify and...

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Nov 24
Greg's bite: more Stuxnet mischief/Big Brother...

By Greg Mills

My post today is loaded with a number of issues of interest to Apple High tech fans.  

° The iOS 4.2.1 Magic Disappearing Folder Trick I discovered a 0 day bug, in the iPad iOS 4.2.1, just released a few days ago, that Apple was completely unaware of.  I call it "the magic disappearing folder trick."

Here is the way it works. The proud iPad user, who has just updated the iOS on their iPad, laboriously sorts a few hundred apps into the cool new folders and drags them to the home screen or the first two or three screens and figures iPad app organization is complete. (In my case a precious 11-year-old daughter has downloaded a zillion kid apps that I have little interest in.  So I put them in new folders named Games1-7.) 

Then, sometime later, a number of app updates showed up as a red number badge on the blue App Store button. The user mashes the app button and chooses to update some apps over Wi-Fi. You sign in the iTunes...

| Read more »
 
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