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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...

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Nov 24
MacNews, MacTech on scaled-back Thanksgiving Day...

The "MacNews" and "MacTech" web sites will be following a scaled back schedule this week in honor of the observation of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. We'll be "closed" on Turkey Day itself and will only run critical announcements on Friday.

The gang at MacNews and MacTech wish our readers and advertisers a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 23
Greg's bite: Lost Folder Bug in iPad 4.2.1 ?

By Greg Mills

One of the features in iPad 4.2.1 iOS that is quite helpful is the folders function for sorting apps into categories that recover many of the 10 screens that you can scroll through.  

I loaded the iPad 4.2.1iOS yesterday and began to play around with it. My 11-year-old daughter had downloaded tons of games that I have little interest in -- I haven't launched "Whack a Mole",  personally so far -- so  I spend an hour sorting out 180 apps into games 1-5, weather, graphics, news, etc. I got 10 full screens of apps down to two pages of thoughtful folders, where I can find things I wanted -- and all on only two screens worth of real estate. There are only 10 screens available.

This morning I went to the Apple App store and set my iPad to download 14 updates that were flagged as having new code for the new iOS. When I got back I was shocked to find that my hour of sorting the apps into folders was apparently lost. All the files I set up...

| Read more »
Nov 23
Apple granted patents for iPhone 4 and iPad designs,...

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Among them are design patents for the iPhone 4 (patent D627,778), the iPad (D627,777) and the iPhone/iPod touch graphical user interface (D627,790). Other patents granted are summarized below.

Patent number 7,840,543 is for a method for sharing groups of objects. The patent is for a method of sharing a group of one or more objects between a plurality of users, in which one or more of said plurality of users is able to change parameter data of at least one said object. The method comprises storing at least one version of each said object; when an object is changed, creating a new version of the object, the new version of the object comprising additional data relating to the creation of the new version; storing the new version of the object together with any version of that object before the change; providing all versions of the object to each of said plurality of users; and using...

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Nov 23
CEO Annual Holiday Study looks good for Apple

The Consumer Electronics Association’s 17th Annual Holiday Study (http://www.digitaltips.org) shows that this year consumer electronic sales will reach the highest level ever reported. And it looks good for Apple.

Despite an overall decline in gift spending, electronic spending jumped 5% from last year's numbers. That equates to an average of US$232 a person to be spent on electronics this holiday season.

So what’s on the top of this year’s holiday wish list? Here’s what the Consumer Electronics Association found to be the top 10 list: notebook/laptop; iPad; eReader; iPod/iPod touch; video game system; digital camera; big screen TV; TV (unspecified); computer (unspecified); and desktop computer (unspecified).

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 23
Greg's bite: the paradox of the Internet

By Greg Mills

I can barely remember when the Internet began to burst on the scene. My first recollection was when my brother, an art professor, mentioned in a phone call about connecting his computer to the Internet.

In those days you had to buy a separate modem costing a few hundred dollars which hooked up to your computer with a clunky serial port cable connector. The modem was the size of a cigar box and ran so slowly it was absurd over a phone line. The very early Internet was text with limited domains and not much in the way of browser software.

About the time the Mac came along a graphic browser called Netscape changed everything. I took a class on the Internet at the local community college and was dazzled by the color displays and search engine that allowed fast research on a lot of subjects. At that time, Yahoo was the big gun in search engines. Google wasn't on-line yet.

The vast potential of the Internet was just dawning on...

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Nov 22
Will the Internet, mobile TV market change the pay-TV...

Is Internet-delivered TV and video content (IPTV) emerging as a threat to traditional pay-TV? In truth, IPTV, in the form that has matured over the past decade, has simply become another type of pay-TV.

Like cable and direct-to-home satellite TV before it, IPTV involves the delivery of high-quality video content to a captive consumer device over a managed network, except that some or all of the content is delivered using broadband Internet Protocol access. The fact is that IPTV, as a set of technologies, represents both a threat and an opportunity for all legacy pay-TV operators, regardless of whether they are cable operators, satellite providers, ISPs or even telcos that offer the TV portion of triple plays by reselling satellite services, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/045be8/...

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Nov 22
Greg's bite: Android fragmentation and Windows...

By Greg Mills

I watch the smartphone situation closely and have discovered articles that illustrate the less-than-viable competition facing the Apple iOS platform. With a new system for the iPad platform coming out any day and iPhone, flying off the shelf, is there anything out there to compete with Apple? If you mention the Android phones or the lame Microsoft platform, guess again.

While Microsoft Vista 7 is being pounded as too little too late by most reviewers, the flood of money Ballmer and company are spending will make some headway in the less astute cell phone buyer market. The embarrassing lack of apps is being hidden first by large blank tiles on the screen of the new Vista 7 cell phones instead of apps and now, it seems by downright fraudulent advertising.

Microsoft, historically, never unwilling to tout vaporware, has done it again to Vista 7 phone buyers. If you buy a Microsoft OS phone expecting it to run "Angry BIrds" since the...

| Read more »
Nov 19

Greg's bite: Apple's industrial footprint...

By Greg Mills

Sometimes what I write hits a nerve, and I get email from readers giving me fresh information they found. My article regarding what I consider false claims that Apple has gone rogue drew an email from a reader.  

He sent me a link to an article and actually an embedded half hour Video TV news story that ran recently in Australia that loosely linked Apple with Chinese pollution in general and worker injury specifically. It turns out this is old news and not quite what it appears.

The story was researched and written by Steven McDonnell of ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation, not related to ABC news in the USA). The article was well written on the surface, but failed to actually connect Chinese pollution in general or worker injury specifically with Apple's industrial footprint (http://www.abc.net.au/...

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Nov 19
I'm an iPad/MacBook Air man

Well, my goal of using my iMac as my main computer and an iPad with a keyboard as a secondary system for writing articles, checking email, etc., just never panned out. I simply missed having an Apple laptop when I was away from my iMac for an extended period.

Using an external keyboard with my iPad worked okay for short articles, brief email responses and the like. But when I'm doing my daily workload -- which involves jumping between Pages, Mail, Safari and iCal, among other apps. The iOS just isn't up to snuff for that just yet (we'll see if iOS 4.2 changes my mind).

But I do love my iPad. So now I own it and an 11-inch MacBook Air (standard except that I sprung for the 128GB solid state driver rather than the 64GB model). I use my iPad for media consumption (surfing the web, watching videos, reading ebooks, etc.) and my MacBook Air for creating (writing articles, doing research, responding to email, etc.).

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 18
Fiber-in-matrix material patent could hint at future...

An Apple patent (number 20100289390) for a reinforced device housing has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office -- as first reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) that could result in even lighter, but even tougher, iOS devices.

The patent -- invented by Kevin M. Kenney -- is for a housing for an electronic device or other object formed from a fiber-in-matrix material. A layered fiber-in-matrix type material, such as CFRP, may be used. A spine made from CFRP may support, and be attached to, a CFRP skin. The CFRP spine may be a unitary frame that imparts strength and rigidity to the overall housing and also form at least some of the corners of the frame. In some embodiments, the spine may be rectangular.

The skin may be formed from multiple layers of CFRP type material stacked atop each other. Each layer may be cut at one or more corners to expose at least a...

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Nov 18
Apple patents involve radio services, simulcasting

Two Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office indicate the company is looking into ways of beefing up radio services in other iOS devices besides the iPod nano -- and perhaps teh Mac.

Patents 20100291861 and 20100292816 are credited to Apple's Freddy Anzures and team mates Henry Mason and Lucas Newman. The patents were originally filed in Q2 2009. Assignee names don't have to appear on patent applications until they've been grantted. 

Patent number 20100291861 is for content selection based on simulcast data. Per the patent a computer system receives information snippets from a mobile device. The information snippets are extracted from a simulcast of a data stream of a radio broadcast received on the mobile device. The system identifies content metadata from the information snippets. The content metadata describes one or more features of the radio broadcast.

The system selects a radio station from a radio station repository based on attributes of...

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Nov 18
Greg's bite: KinOneM and KinTwoM

By Greg Mills

I read an article that had me checking my calendar to make sure April Fools Day had not sneaked up on me. I was quite sure it is fall and April Fools Day jokes are out of season.  

"Electronista" is running a news article that indicated that, never learning from a good beating, Ballmer and the gang at Microsoft that can't shoot straight is trying again to sell Kin, an underpowered/overpriced smart phones through Verizon. When you can't sell a pile of cow crap because people understand what it is you are trying to sell them, cutting the price won't help.

The Kin was pulled after only six weeks, and there were rumors that they only sold 8,800 units in the grand launch a few months ago. It is unknown how many of the 8,800 Kins that were sold were sold to loyal Microsoft staff. The problem is that the Kin phone is sort of a bastard phone, not quite a full smart phone and a little bit more capable than a standard, just a cell phone...

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Nov 18
Apple will do iWork for Windows

It's probably just a matter of time before Apple ports its iWork apps to Windows. This would be a move that makes sense for a variety of reasons.

The main one is that a Windows version of iWorks would mean more sales of the bundle that includes Pages, Keynote and Numbers. More sales would equal more money to invest in further development of iWork. Apple could then truly turn iWork into a serious Office competitor for those folks who don't need all the bells and whistles of the Microsoft software -- and most folks don't.

Apple could still make the Mac version of iWork "special" by hooking into Mac OS X and iOS features. The company has (sorta) done this already with Safari and iTunes.

So what of iLife? Can we expect a Windows version? I think not. I predict Apple will keep this as a Mac-only suite of products that come free with every Mac. Sort of an extra enticement to buy Apple computers.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Nov 17
Donovan's views: iPad launch: Melbourne, Bondi, 7...

By Gaurang Donovan

On a cold morning three days before the official first day of winter, Melbourne and its two Apple Retail Stores at Chadstone and Doncaster shopping malls provided a warm welcome for the international launch of Apple's iPad for the retail customers who did not already order their iPads through the Apple Online Store.

The line of people waiting at the one-hour-earlier-than-normal opening of the store numbered over 250 buyers at the Chadstone store and over 230 buyers at the Doncaster store. One hour after opening people were still entering the queue that extended into the mall and numbered over 80 in each.

This was not a bad turnout, but the larger iPad numbers are in the courier deliveries for the device. "The Sydney Morning Herald" reported on a bulletin board commentator identifying himself as a driver for a large courier company operating in Australia (but perhaps not known so well outside the country) as having 7,800 iPad...

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Nov 17
Greg's bite: Jobs and Apple gone evil? Not so

By Greg Mills

Those of us who have been Apple fans for over 20 years are struggling to grasp the fact that the little fruity company we grew comfortable with over all those years is suddenly poised to become the most valuable company in the entire world. While the grasping, self serving, "dumb as a bag of hammers" Microsoft path to wealth through the dark side of the force is well known and despised, Apple has a much better reputation for customer satisfaction.

Recently, the stellar success of Apple has bred some rabid hatred from the declining ranks of the PC world and its fan boys. The tongue-in-cheek, (or tongue sticking out rudely) Pope of Anti-Mac, spouts mindless dribble about Malcrosoft being early in launching Windows Vista 7 and its smart phones. Meanwhile, Apple has been racking up billions of dollars and steadily wearing down the barriers to the Mac and iOS platforms, taking over the various niches in business and the consumer markets that...

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Nov 17
iTunes needs a new name, maybe an overhaul

Recently, iTunes was given a new icon (removing the CD), but I think it's time the software received a whole new name. Or, even more radically, is broken up into several different apps.

When iTunes was launched in 1999, it was a simple music player with the ability to do MP3 conversions. Now iTunes is houses music, movies, shows, podcasts and audiobooks. It's the conduit to your iPhone, iPod and iPad. And it's a link to an online store for buying media.

It seems it's time for a name change. iMedia, perhaps?

Or perhaps iTunes on the Mac could be broken up into multiple apps, as it is on iOS devices. It's gotten a bit bulky and and cumbersome on the Mac.

On my iPad there's the Video app (for movies I've bought online and self-made videos), the iPod app (for all my music), iTunes (the online store) and the App Store (for buying apps). (The iPod app also has music videos listed, but it seems to me they should show up in the Video app.)

So perhaps...

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Nov 16
Apple patents range from level shifters to scroll bars

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

Patent number 7,834,662 is for a level shifter with embedded logic and low minimum voltage. In one embodiment, a level shifter circuit may include a shift stage that also embeds transistors that implement a logic operation on two or more inputs to the level shifter. At least one of the inputs may be sourced from circuitry that is powered by a different power supply than the level shifter and circuitry that receives the level shifter output. Additionally, the level shifter includes one or more dummy transistors that match transistors the perform the logic operation, to improve symmetry of the level shifter circuit. In some embodiments, certain design and layout rules may be applied to the level shifter circuit to limit variation in the symmetry over various manufacturing variations. The inventors are Brian J. Campbell, Vincent R. von Kaenel, Naveen...

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Nov 16
Greg's bite: censored by Apple for the NSA?

By Greg Mills

Since the Islamic attack on the US by Bin Laden's boys, the burden on the US Government and us as citizens has been increasing dramatically, to protect us from further similar attacks, or worse. This has cost a lot of money for increased security and some lost freedom for us as citizens. I am a veteran of the US Army. I love my country but have serious issues some times with our government.  

I recently had an article I had written "lost" in the either of cyberspace despite 10 attempts to send it to my editor as email. I wrote an innocent article regarding dealing with spam, particularly Nigerian bank fraud spam. That article in email form, was somehow filtered out and not delivered from my .Mac account to my editor's email, a number of times over a week's time.  I suspect that there were key words in the article, that, in combination, were enough to convince a security filtering system at Apple that my message might be related to...

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Nov 15
I (gulp) agree with Microsoft in its new Apple-...

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I concur with Microsoft on a recent ad in which it takes a dig at the Mac over its lack of Blu-ray support.

The ad pictures a PC laptop running Windows 7 and a Mac laptop on a long flight. The PC passes the time by playing "Avator" on its built-in Blu-ray player. The Mac says "this is so cool," while watching the Blu-ray version of the blockbuster movie on the Windows PC.

Macs, of course, have no support for Blu-ray playback. And with Steve Jobs' goal of making us us buy all our media -- music and video -- from the iTunes Store, they probably never will. And I think that's a mistake.

Jobs apparently thinks Blu-ray is already obsolete and that the future of movies is in digital downloading. But the facts don't support this, at least not at the present time. Worldwide Blu-ray player shipments are expected to more than double between 2009 and the end of 2010, and the numbers from ABI Research (...

| Read more »
Nov 15
Greg's bite: stopping Nigerian bank fraud email

By Greg Mills

I no longer get much Nigerian Bank fraud email, since I developed a policy to deal with that.  When you get an email, "You have won $50,000,000" or your unknown distant, long lost uncle died in South Africa and left you a million dollars, that is called Nigerian 419 spam and the email is really from a crook who wants to steal you blind.  

The scammers take a doctorate or official sounding banker's name for themselves. Masked behind the respectable facade is a dirt poor thief, hunched over a junk PC at a cyber cafe somewhere in a third world country. Some people don't know that if you give a thief your bank account routing numbers, that while they promise to deposit gobs of money into your bank account they actually plan to use the information to withdraw your money through the international banking system.

If email sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true, so don't be taken in. Most people just delete such junk email...

| Read more »
 
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