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Nov 11
Unplug and learn to be still

There's an Eagles song called "Learn to be Still." That's something I think most of us Americans could learn to do. We're always busy, and we're always "plugged in."

We have our desktop Macs, our laptop Macs, our iPods, our iPads, our iPhones. We're always talking, emailing, looking up stuff, Tweeting, Facebooking, etc. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel guilty if I'm not doing anything.

There's a saying (though I'm not sure who said it) that "there's no clocking out if you're always plugged in." And while most Americans say devices like smartphones, cellphones and personal computers have made their lives better and their jobs easier, some say they have been intrusive, increased their levels of stress and made it difficult to concentrate, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/...

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Nov 10
User convenience the focus for Apple on upcoming OS...

The recent Apple patent for "scrollable menus and toolbars" indicates that Apple will continue to add similar features to iOS and Mac OS X. As I've said before, I think eventually there will only be one operating system, Apple OS, in computer and mobile versions.

The patent in question also shows further evolution of the Mac OS X Finder with the replacement of hierarchical computer menus by a scrollable window, in which functions would be more clearly displayed and navigated by gestures. Those gestures on a Mac would be made on a laptop trackpad, Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad.

At last week's MacTech Conference, Mac guru pundit Andy Ihnatko said Mac OS X Lion shows a move toward non-hierarchical menu structures and "uni-tasking." ("Multitasking is 95% a lie," he said.)

With the scrollable menus and toolbars patent, you'll be offered a menu that includes several selectable menu items assigned a particular order for scrolling through a selection window based on...

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Nov 09
Apple patents involve displays images, memory objects...

Apple was granted four patents today by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following isa summary of each.

Patent number RE41,922 is for a method and apparatus for providing translucent images on a computer display. It involves producing a translucent image over a base image created on the display screen of a computer system by a selected first application program, and conducting image operations either on the base image created by the selected application program with reference to the translucent image produced, or conducting image operations on the translucent image with reference to the base image of the first application program.

The first application program runs on a central processing unit (CPU) of a computer system to produce a base image, and another application program referred to as the overlay program is run to produce the translucent image such that portions of the base image which are overlapped by the overlay image are at least...

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Nov 09
Apple patent is for light sensitive display

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7,830,461) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for a light sensitive display. It relates to touch sensitive displays that could eventually be used with iOS devices.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Touch sensitive screens ("touch screens") are devices that typically mount over a display such as a cathode ray tube. With a touch screen, a user can select from options displayed on the display's viewing surface by touching the surface adjacent to the desired option, or, in some designs, touching the option directly. Common techniques employed in these devices for detecting the location of a touch include mechanical buttons, crossed beams of infrared light, acoustic surface waves, capacitance sensing, and resistive materials.

"For example, Kasday, U.S. Pat. No. 4,484,179 discloses an optically-based touch screen comprising a flexible clear membrane supported above a glass screen whose edges are fitted...

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Nov 08
Apple patent is for scrollable menus, toolbars for Mac...

As first noted by "Patently Apple" (http://www.patentlyapple.com), a new European patent filing (publication number WO2010126782) has emerged that describes a new system of "scrollable menus and toolbars" -- apparently for both Mac OS X and iOS

Some embodiments of the invention provide a method that defines several menu items having a particular order. The method provides a display area for displaying a portion of the menu items in the particular order. The method provides a selection window in the display area for indicating that a menu item is presently selectable.

The display area is also for receiving input to (i) scroll the menu items through the selection window in the particular order and (ii) select a particular menu item when the particular menu item is displayed in the selection window. In some embodiments, the display area is a linear display area, while in some embodiments it...

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Nov 08
Kinect would have made a nice fit at Apple

Leander Kahney of "Cult of Mac" says (http://www.cultofmac.com/how-apple-almost-got-microsofts-kinect-game-con...) that Apple was the first place that PrimeSense, the company who developed the technology behind Microsoft's Kinect camera for the Xbox 360.

Kinect is a motion control system for the game console. It can can sense and respond to users' body motions as well as their voices. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360, it enables users to control and interact with the console without a game controller. Instead they use gestures, spoken commands and/or objects and images.

Kinect responds to how you move. If you have to kick in a game, you kick. If you have to jump in a game, you jump. What's more, it's designed to respond to the sound of your vo...

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Nov 08
Comcast just gets worse and worse

I'm not sure what it says when my cable provider has one of the slowest web sites around. I'm talking about Comcast, whose new Xfinity branding must stand for infinity slow.

I recently tried to add three new email accounts to my Comcast Internet account. The Comcast Customer Service page -- which should have been dubbed the Customer Disservice Page -- repeatedly ground to a halt and timed out. Something that should have taken 10 minutes to accomplish took an hour.

Considering that Comcast's prices go up every month -- after the one-year sign-up special is over -- you're gouged, I'm looking for other options. I'm considering dropping the Comcast cable TV service and going with either Dish TV or DirectTV. And if/when the iPhone comes to Verizon, I may drop Comcast telephone and go without a LAN line.

Right now I'm at Comcast's mercy when it comes to an Internet connection. But when other options become available in my area, perhaps I'll bid adieu to the big C...

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Nov 05
There's still plenty of room for serious Mac...

Think there's little growth opportunity for the Mac? Think again. The Toffler Associates (http://www.toffler.com/) think tank says there are more than one billion personal computers in use today -- and that number will double by 2014.

Apple now has around 10% of the computer market in the US and is approaching 5% worldwide. And that percentage keeps on going up.

Imagine Apple nabbing 10% of more of a billion computer sales over the next four years. That's a lot of Macs. Also, in the latest Toffler Associates they predict that:

° Companies will increasingly follow the Apple/iPhone model of creating value, not by creating products (in Apple’s case, apps), but by hosting the marketplace and charging to connect consumers to producers.

° The world will enter the “Petabyte Age,” where data saturation is the norm.

° Widespread quantum computing will be a realistic possibility in the...

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Nov 04
Apple patent to prevent inadvertent starting of a...

A new Apple patent (number 20100281415) -- invented by Timothy Wasko and Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- is for a three-state icon for operations that's designed to prevent inadvertent starting of an operation on a computer.

The icon has a first state which conceals a second state. Upon selection of the first state with a computer pointing device (i.e., mouse), the icon will change to the second state. Upon selecting the icon in the second state, the operation on the computer will start. Accordingly, only upon selecting the icon in the first state and then the second state, the operation will commence on the computer thereby preventing accidental startup of the operation. Once the second state has been selected, the icon will change to a third state which indicates that the operation is proceeding on the computer. The inventors are Timothy Wasko and Steve Jobs.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A user interfaces with a computer using a graphical user...

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Nov 04
Apple patent is for reading DVDs independent of DVD...

A new Apple patent (number 20100278513) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is looking for ways to make it easier for Macs to read commercial DVDs. The patent involves embedded access information for DVDs independent of the DVD player software.

Per the patent, an operating system extension is used to implement embedded information on a DVD. The operating system extension examines DVD sector addresses requested from the DVD hardware. When address associated with an embedded link is requested, an application program that can run the embedded link is started, and the embedded link is provided to the application program.

The system of the present invention has the advantage that it does not require modifying the DVD software program and thus can be used with a variety of different DVD software programs. The inventors of the patent are Freddie Geier and Stefan Bauer-Schwan.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The...

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Nov 04
Apple working on ways for securely sharing data over...

A new Apple patent (number 2100278345) shows that Apple is working on ways for securely sharing data over mobile devices. The patent is for a method and apparatus for proximity-based pairing of mobile devices.

The invention relates generally to authorizing communications between network enabled devices. More particularly, it relates to secure instant pairing of mobile devices based on proximity to authorize communications.

A method and an apparatus that establish a first communication channel or pair with a target device in proximity to a source device are described. A pairing message is sent to the target device in proximity to the source device over the first communication channel from the source device. A secret and an identifier associated with an application are included in the pairing message. In response to receiving the secret back from the target device for a second communication channel, pairing data of the application are sent to the target device over...

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Nov 04
Apple patent shows planned for beefed-up gaming on iOS...

According to a new patent (number 20100279768) Apple is eyeing ways for iPhone/iPod touch/iPad users to use features of the devices --- such motion detection, GPS and camera -- to play and compete with others in a real-life 3D space.

The patent is for interactive gaming with co-located, networked direction and location-aware devices. An interactive game environment includes two or more co-located, networked, direction and location aware interactive game devices. The game devices share a common reference coordinate frame (e.g., a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate frame).

Each game device maintains its own device state (e.g., position, orientation, time) in the reference coordinate frame. Each interactive game device shares its device state with the other interactive game devices using communication technology (e.g., Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular). Each interactive game device can use the device states of the other interactive game devices to project the relative...

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Nov 04
Apple patents involve media devices, LED selection,...

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

Patent number 20100277877 is for a folded flex assembly for a personal media device. Systems and methods are provided for media devices including a housing, a frame disposed adjacent to the housing, a support panel that is integrated with the frame, and a flexible circuit that is disposed adjacent to the support panel such that the support panel provides support for the flexible circuit. The inventors are Richard Hung Minh Dinh, Tang Yew Tan, Erik L. Wang and Phillip Michael Hobson.

Patent number 20100279674 involves remotely locating and commanding a mobile device. Methods, systems, and apparatus are presented for processing a remote lock command message. In one aspect, a method includes receiving, by a mobile device, a remote lock command message comprising a lock command and specifying a passcode to be set by the mobile...

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Nov 04
China will play a key role in the growth of the Mac,...

The Mac has over 10% market share in the U.S., but under 5% globally (though both those figures would skyrocket if you figured in iPad sales, as I think you should). I think that number will grow at a significant rate, especially with China figured into the equation.

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty says in a report co-written with Mathew Schneider, that "China is undergoing a 'megatransition' from being the leading producer of goods to the leading consumer of them" and that there's "evidence of strong uptake of Apple products among higher-income China consumers."

If their numbers are right, Huberty says Apple then would have to grow revenue by just 19% and operating income by 11% in the rest of the world to hit the current consensus two-year EPS [earnings per share] growth forecast of 21% (and our 22%)."

The report also says that Apple's brand is already preferred by urban Chinese. A November 200 Morgan Stanley survey of Chinese handset users in tier 1/2...

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Nov 03
Whither USB 3.0 on the Mac?

As reported at various Mac news and rumors sites, Apple CEO Steve Jobs supposedly sent one of his succinct emails to Mac user Tom Kruk, who asked why Macs still didn't support USB 3.0. Jobs allegedly wrote: “We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example.”

Whether you buy that or not, there are plenty of users who are unhappy that consumer Macs don't include USB 3.0 and perhaps eSATA. And what to make of the fact that even the Mac Pros don't support those technologies (though you can sorta overcome this with PCI cards) or FireWire 3200.

As I've said before, I think Apple plans to replace ALL those port with Light Peak by mid or late 2011. But there's good reason for folks to be unhappy about the lack of USB 3.0 support. The peecee world has oodles of USB 3.0 goodies to chose from. Mac users can use 'em, too, but only at USB 2.0 speeds. And a "PC World" report (...

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Nov 02
Apple wants to simplify the process of editing video...

A new Apple patent (number 7,827,489) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple wants to make it easier for professional filmmakers to edit to tape. A method and apparatus is described that allows edited media to be recorded to a sequential storage device is disclosed.

An edited time based stream of information of a source media is displayed. The edited time based stream is transferred to a sequential storage device to be recorded using an icon where the icon represents a function to be performed on the storage device. The inventor is Randy Ubillos.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Editing is generally the art of making subtle adjustments to a material or materials in a form that communicates a message with maximum impact. In the area of video editing, the editor defines and shapes the video and/or audio until the message to be delivered is accomplished. Generally, video editing may be divided into two categories: linear video...

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Nov 02
Greg's bite: the cloud is coming upon us

By Greg Mills

Don't forget to vote! I voted already to flush the inverted toilet bowl building on Capital Hill and against virtually every local incumbent running in my district in Kansas. Personally, my "change" is run out. I want my congressional delegation to experience the unemployed situation and deep recession, first hand.

The upcoming Mac OS update and the pending iPad 4.2 update, both expected any day now, will continue to enhance interconnections between everything Apple and Wi-Fi related. The iPad, Apple TV and the new MacBook Air all point us towards wireless Internet connection of all Apple computing devices, with less reliance on mechanical hard drives and less local flash memory being required.  

The cloud comes rolling in. The new trend in Apple devices to reduce local storage and rely on the cloud for storage of everything streamed to us is happening. Streaming content is just being accessed over the Internet -- and downloading...

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Nov 02
Of Macs, Xbox Kinect, FaceTime cameras and gesture-...

At the "Back to the Mac" event on Oct. 20, Apple Steve Jobs explained why there are no plans for Macs with touchscreens: touch interfaces don't feel right in a vertical plane and you don't want to touch your iMac's screen. This means trackpads and the Magic Mouse are the interfaces for the future Mac OS X/iOS integration. Beyond that, I think Apple might take a lesson from the Xbox and its new Kinect technology.

Kinect is a motion control system for the game console. It can can sense and respond to users' body motions as well as their voices. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360, it enables users to control and interact with the console without a game controller. Instead they use gestures, spoken commands and/or objects and images.

Kinect responds to how you move. If you have to kick in a game, you kick. If you have to jump in a game, you jump.

What's more, Kinect is designed to respond to the sound of your voice. Just say “Xbox” to...

| Read more »
Nov 01
Macs, Blu-rays important to how content, entertainment...

A recent report by The NPD Group (http://wwww.npdgroup.com), a market research company, shows that no one -- not even Apple -- should underestimate the Mac or the Blu-ray market.

According to NPD’s report, as the industry grows consumers are beginning to access a broader array of content and services, and they are doing so from more devices. Although 75%of U.S. consumers (age 13 and older) did not connect or download content in the previous three months, 15% connected and downloaded content via a Mac or PC; 6% connected with a video-game player; 4% connected via smartphone; and 2% connected via a Blu-ray Disc (BD) player or a digital video player, like the Apple TV or Roku.

With their low prices and rising penetration BD stands to be a prime avenue to deliver broadband content to the consumer’s living room, says Russ Crupnick, vice president and senior entertainment analyst for NPD. Connected...

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Nov 01
Greg's bite: the decline and fall of Microsoft

By Greg Mills

Those who read Greg's bite regularly may have noticed I tend to dump on Microsoft and the pope of Anti-Mac, Steve Ballmer.  It seems I am not alone as numerous articles have come out lately which confirm my observations, exactly.  Some have speculated that Microsoft will actually go belly up even after Ballmer is forced out. They are riding the Windows PC Operating System monopoly into the ground.

Microsoft has been chronically late to respond to new markets and have been ridiculously smug about it. Recently, the clown of high tech, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer went on and on about the Vista Windows 7 smartphone OS being early? My question for Mr. Ballmer is "early in what respect?" By the reckoning of those in the best position to know, Mobile Vista 7  is about three years behind the Apple iOS.  

That is very late to the party Mr. Ballmer, not early. Considering Apple is not sitting on their laurels, as they seem to do a lot at...

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Oct 29
Greg's bite: Trojan attacks Mac OS X in the wild

By Greg Mills

There have been reports of a trojan attack on the Mac OS X. While not a reason to panic, a "trojan horse" bit of malware has been making the rounds. The malware is called a trojan because it appeals to our vanity somehow and gets us to accept something with a hurtful thing inside.  

It runs a Java applet and is cross platform so Windows users are also vulnerable. The next Mac OS X security update will likely protect you, but for now just don't download the bait.

The epic story of the Trojan Horse is from ancient times where a walled city had been under attack for a long time and the invaders failed to breech the walls. Rather than give up, the invaders built a large wooden horse with a space inside to hide some soldiers. The invaders rolled the horse up to the city gates and then left the area to make it appear they had given up.  

The Trojans rejoiced that they had won and hauled the horse inside the walls, considering it...

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Oct 29
Future Macs will have no built-in optical storage or...

I've been reading the tech tea leaves lately, and I'm predicting that within two years, perhaps sooner, Macs will ship with no optical storage or hard disk drives. In other words, the new MacBook Airs are a glimpse at the future of most all Macs, not just Apple laptops.

My forecast is that all Macs -- except the Mac Pros -- will, sooner rather than later, ship with SSDs only. As prices drop, the capacity of the SSDs will increase. Still, it's going to be a looong time before they're price comparable with hard disk drives (HHDs), and folks need ever-bigger HDDs as their digital content increases. Though some companies might want you to store all your data in "the cloud," I contend that most folks will also want a local copy -- as in their home or office -- of their tunes, movies and photos.

For this reason, I think Apple will begin selling its own line of HDDs when the Mac line moves to all-SSD (excepting, as I've mentioned, the Mac Pro). One advantage of this is that...

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Oct 28
Apple wants to build better looking, simpler displays

Apple wants to make displays are there simpler in design and even better looking, according to a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 20100271767 is for microperforated and backlit displays having alternative display capabilities.

A visual display having microperforations, backlighting and contrasting surface finishes is disclosed. The visual display includes an opaque base object having a front surface and a plurality of microperforations therethrough from the front surface to a back surface. Each microperforation has a diameter of about 100 microns or less, and numerous microperforations are arranged into an overall pattern, such as a logo, text or advertisement.

A light source placed proximate to the back surface passes light through the microperforations to be visible at the front surface, such that the overall pattern can be visibly perceived when the light source is turned on. A contrasting surface finish formed on the front...

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Oct 28
Apple patents involve multi-connectors, microphone...

New Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office involve multi-connectors, microphone lines, RAW imaging processing, and EMI switching circuits. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 20100271790 is for a multi-connector assembly. The invention can relate to multiple-connector assemblies for use in, for example, electronic devices. Each of the connectors are constrained to another connector by aligning one or more complementary sets of reference features. A locating bracket may be used to couple multiple connectors together. Alternatively, the connectors may be coupled to each other directly. The electronic device also may include a retainer coupled to the connectors (either directly or indirectly through the locating bracket). The retainer and a surface of one of the connectors may form a single plane to which an end cap of the housing may be coupled, thereby accurately locating the end cap with respect to the connectors. The present...

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Oct 28
Apple plans to simplify the connection of iOS devices...

Apple wants to make it easier to use your iOS devices with other audio components, per a new filing at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 20100273356 is for an apparatus for connecting two electrical devices together.

Methods and apparatus are provided for connecting together two audio components that have different size connectors and/or a different configuration of electrical contacts between them. In one embodiment of the present invention, an audio adaptor is designed having an audio plug of one size to mate with a first electrical device, such as an integrated mediaphone such as the iPhone, and an audio jack having a different size to mate with a second electrical device, such as a conventional cell phone headset having a single earpiece.

In that instance, the plug would be a four-prong, 3.5 millimeter stereo device, while the jack would be a three-prong, 2.5 millimeter monaural device. The adaptor includes circuitry that takes one audio...

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