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Aug 16
Greg's bite: AT&T's 'no bars in...

By Greg Mills

I submitted my original slogan "No bars in more places" to AT&T some time ago and they never got back to me. If anyone notices them using my slogan without compensating me, I plan to sue ...

An article posted at "CNN" titled "AT&T is just bad for the wrong people in the wrong places" glosses over connection issues the rest of us have. Dan Frommer of "Business Insider" presents a scenario the folks at AT&T wish was the truth. Frommer thinks the network problems are mostly limited to shrilled "tech- and media-types limited to New York and San Francisco. While I dispute that rationalization, he does make a valid point that downtown metropolitan areas with tall buildings are a cell system nightmare. See the verbal flowery fluff painting AT&T nice at: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/mobile/08/13/att.wireless.network/index.html?hpt=Sbin .

If the problem with the AT&T network was just in big cities due to skyscrapers...

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Aug 16
Ninety percent of cell phone drivers concerned about...

According to the latest study from the Consumer Electronics Association, most drivers who use cell phones consider safety their number one priority when in an automobile. It's just too bad that this sentence is modified by "most" instead of "a.."

Twenty-two percent of drivers with cell phones never use their cell phones while driving and other cell phone users will only use the following devices with their cell phones while driving: speakerphone built into cell phone (29%); wireless Bluetooth headset (22%); wired earphone or headset (10%); and wireless Bluetooth speakerphone accessory for your automobile (5%)

Distracted driving is a major issue our nation faces, and while we can all be distracted at times, in-car technology has made huge leaps and bounds to be safer and more-user friendly- incorporating voice activation and numerous other technologies to give us safety and comfort, while reducing the amount of distractions. Not only do Americans spend time nearly...

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Aug 13
Why no USB 3.0 on the latest iMacs, Mac Pros?

I'm still mulling over the possibility of selling my current 27-inch, "tricked out" iMac and buying one of the new models so I can see how the new memory, new graphics card and an SSD drive feels.

On the other hand, those features are nice, but my current iMac is plenty fast enough and Apple didn't include any "gotta have" features in the latest rev of the consumer/prosumer desktop. I was certain that Apple would include USB 3.0, but they didn't. Why? Who knows. I've written Apple about the exclusion, but -- no surprise -- I've received no answer.

Syncing an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch with USB 3.0 would be an improvement. Or Apple could bring back FireWire syncing. Remember how wonderful the syncing of the original iPod was with FireWire 400? But backing up and syncing with the current USB 2 is just painful. Getting back to very short syncs would be a blessing.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Aug 12
Apple wants to beef up graphic equalizers on idevices

An Apple patent (number 20100202630) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a method and system for approximating graphic equalizers using dynamic filter order reduction. It relates to media devices and, more particularly, to equalizer effects for media being presented on media devices.

Improved approaches to flexibly implementing graphic equalizers on media players are disclosed. These approaches provide dynamic order reduction of a multi-band graphic equalizer so that equalizer effects can be timely performed with only limited computational resources. In one embodiment, a media player receives a media item and associated equalizer settings for a multi-band graphic equalizer.

The media player can then automatically (i.e., without user action) approximate the multi-band graphic equalizer with the equalizer settings for the media item using a fewer number of filters. Fewer filters means order reduction, and thus reduction in computational...

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Aug 12
Patent involves better communication between media...

An Apple patent (number 20100205531) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a portable media device including an user interface event passthrough to non-media-playback processing.

A method of operating a portable electronics device can include integrated operation of media playback processing and non-media-playback processing (such as, for example, a game). The method can include receiving an event corresponding to operation of a user interface item by a user of the portable electronics device. The received event can be provided to the non-media-playback processing. The non-media-playback processing can determine whether to cause an action corresponding to the provided received event with respect to the non-media-playback processing.

For an event determined by the non-media-playback processing to not cause an action corresponding to the provided received event with respect to the non-media-playback processing, the provided received event can be...

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Aug 12
Future Macs may change appearance

An Apple patent (number 20100201539) for a computing device with an illuminable portion that can change the device's appearance has popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The computing device also includes a light device disposed inside the housing. The light device is configured to illuminate the illuminable portion. The inventors are Duncan R. Kerr and Steve P. Hotelling.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Most computing devices, including portable computers and desktop computers, give feedback to its user via a display screen or speakers. As is generally well known, display screens are used to display textual or graphical information to a user and speakers are used to output sound to the user. For example, display screens may be used to display a graphical user interface (GUI) and speakers may be used to output music or audio messages.

"Computing devices also give feedback to users via small indicators positioned on the...

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Aug 12
Apple patents involve portable devices, location info...

Three Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. They involve portable devices, location information and power management. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 20100205472 involves a method and system for operating a portable electronic device in a power-limited manner. Improved techniques to manage operation of a portable electronic device having a substantially depleted battery when power is available from an external, power-limited source are disclosed. In one embodiment of the invention, the substantially depleted battery can be initially charged while a power-intensive operation is delayed. Once the battery has adequate charge to assist the external, power-limited source in powering the portable electronic device, the power-intensive operation can be performed. In this manner, power consumption of a portable electronic device can be managed so that reliable operation is achieved without exceeding limits on power being...

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Aug 12
Future Macs may simplify home automation

An Apple patent (number 20100205528) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for wireless home and office application management and integration. It provides systems and methods for managing and controlling networked devices.

A system comprises a host application executing on, for example, a personal computer, and one or more networked devices executing a client application. A networked device includes a consumer appliance equipped with network capability, a digital device such as MP3 players and DVRs, an electronically-controlled device such as a light circuit or other type of circuit, and the like. The host application automatically establishes communication with the networked device. The networked device configures a user interface for user control of the networked device. The host application provides a graphical layout of the networked device. The inventors are Clay Bavor and Jesse Levinson.

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

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Aug 12
Apple plans to simplify object animation

An Apple patent (number 20100201692) for user interface for controlling animation of an object has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The patent relates generally to computer animation and, more specifically, to animating an object using behaviors. It may point to new software or planned tweaks to the Final Cut products.

Per the patent, user can control the animation of an object via an interface that includes a control area and a user-manipulable control element. In one embodiment, the control area includes an ellipse, and the user-manipulable control element includes an arrow. In yet another embodiment, the control area includes an ellipse, and the user-manipulable control element includes two points on the circumference of the ellipse.

In yet another embodiment, the control area includes a first rectangle, and the user-manipulable control element includes a second rectangle. In yet another embodiment, the user-manipulable control element includes...

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Aug 12
Apple wants to turn your gaming performance into a...

If you play video/computer games, have you ever wanted to capture your performance in a comic book? Apple apparently thinks you want to as a new patent (number 20100203979) at the US Patent & Trademark Office indicates.

Systems and methods are provided that record data in a videogame, such as a user's character and performance in the videogame, and generate a book, e-book, or comic book based on the recorded data. A narrative data structure generated from the recorded data may include pregenerated text and images, and may provide for insertion of the recorded data into the narrative data structure. The recorded data may be converted into natural-language text for insertion into the narrative data structure. In some embodiments, the system may record screenshots of the videogame and insert the screenshots into the narrative data structure as illustrations. The narrative data structure may be provided to a location for printing as a book or other publication or may be...

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Aug 12
Greg's bite: Apple's patent app drawing flap

By Greg Mills

I was shocked, as were many other Apple observers that an Apple patent application sported an obvious rip-off of the user interface of an iOS app on the Apple App Store called "Where To?"  Apple files hundreds of patent applications on everything they do.  

Playing the tech "that is covered by our patent" game in federal court requires all the legal ammunition possible, so they try to protect all their ideas. A recent Apple patent app that was published by the US Patent Office included an illustration, in line drawing form, that was clearly an illustration of an existing iOS App owned by someone else. This gaff was no doubt embarrassing to the legal staff at Apple and I bet someone got their butt in a sling over it.

Apple has a sort of "white knight aura" about it on intellectual property issues. Apple often the target of patent trolling artists hoping to cash in on Apple's success. While certainly, in a competitive market with a...

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Aug 12
Entertainment features on computers a 'must...

A shift is happening in the way young Americans prefer to experience entertainment, with approximately 60% of surveyed college students in the US now using their computers most, and not televisions, for entertainment, according to a survey by the Dolby company (http://www.dolby.com).

Now I would argue that this means Apple should consider offering Macs with built-in TV tuners (or bundled with Elgato hardware/software) and Blu-ray. Sure, Macs are selling like hotcakes. But that doesn't mean Apple can't make 'em even more desirable.

Of the students surveyed, 77% listen to music on their computers and 70% use their computers to watch video. In addition, 64% watch entertainment on their computers with others (regularly, often, or sometimes), as opposed to just 44%of the general population surveyed.

Of college students surveyed, almost 60% expect most entertainment to be computer-based in the future....

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Aug 11
Greg's bite: eBook author payment issues

By Greg Mills

I got an inquiry this morning from an aspiring author who wondered what the threshold amounts are for Apple to cut her a check. That would seem to be an easy question to answer, but little is available either by Googling the key words or by checking the Apple web site.  

All I found was this quote from the contract authors must approve to upload their eBooks. I pasted it into this article, and it seems to say that after Apple's cut is taken out and any taxes that might be due are removed the balance due the author is paid when the check is $150 or more.   

From Apple's: EBOOK AGENCY/COMMISSIONAIRE DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT, Section 5: Commission; Tax; and Reporting, paragraph (c) "After deducting Apple’s commission, and any taxes collected by Apple under Section 5(f) hereof, from eBook Proceeds, Apple shall either remit to Publisher, or issue a credit in Publisher’s favor, subject to Apple’s standard business practices, including...

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Aug 11
Microsoft's Mac vs. PC site has some points

Microsoft has launched a site (http://macosg.me/2/of) comparing Macs to PCs. Like it or not, some of their points are valid. Let's look at the Big M's main arguments -- and my thoughts on them.

Microsoft point one: "You can't get a Mac that ships with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless."

My take: Most Macs now come with a SD card slot, which should suffice for most folks. You can add a TV tuner from companies such as Elgato (although I wouldn't mind if I could get a multimedia Mac with this built-in). It's just a matter of time before Macs get built-in 3G wireless, I think. As for Blu-ray, well, Microsoft has a point there. Sorta. You do have to install a third party Blu-ray player on a peecee.

Microsoft point two: "Unlike Macs, many PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can browse online newspapers, flick through photo albums, and shuffle files and...

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Aug 10
Apple granted patents involving Mac OS X, laptops, the...

Apple has has been granted patents for the ornamental design of a computer display (D621,414, for Mac OS X), a keyboard (D631,402), computing device (D621,409, the MacBook Pro), packaging (D621,256) and an electronic device (D621,397, the Mac mini).

The inventors listed on these patents are Andre K. Bartley, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satzger, Calvin Q. Seid, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer. Also, several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 7,773,139 is for an image sensor with photosensitive thin film transistors. It involves an image sensor array includes image sensors having photo TFTs to generate photocurrent in response to received images. The photo TFTs each have their respective gate...

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Aug 10
I'm considering one of the iMacs, but....

I have a top-of-the-line previous gen iMac with a Core i7. Someone wants to buy it from me. I'm considering selling it and buying one of the latest, top-of-the-line iMacs. However, that would still cost me a little out-of-pocket expenses.

I'm still not sure the performance difference would be worth a few hundred bucks. The i3's are a big boost from the Core 2 Duos, but the i7 is still the i7. The graphics cards in the latest iMacs are more powerful, but other than that I don't see much reason to switch. Moving to an SSD will definitely speed the boot process up and some apps will feel a little swifter, but they're still way too expensive in my opinion.

If there was USB 3.0 support, I might consider upgrading. If Blu-ray playback was part of the upgrade, baby, I'd be there. But, right now, I just haven't convinced myself to make the move.

Thoughts? Write me at dsellers@applecentral.com

-- Dennis Sellers...

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Aug 10
Greg's bite: How to publish an Apple iBook

By Greg Mills

A lot of what the empowerment of the Internet is all about is allowing everyone to do what has been hard to do in the past. Streamlining and enablement create a sort of democratization of information.

That is what computers and the giant data bases create, as the Internet seeks out the remote pockets of people who have obtained access. Publishing a book used to be a game authors played with hard copy publishers, who had the power to make or break an author.  The  only other alternative was self publishing a book, which was expensive and likely a money loser as the hard copy book publishers also control the literary market place.  

Then the notion of on line e-publishing came along. That changed everything. The process of publishing that book that is sitting on your computer in a word processor file suddenly is becoming easy to do with any Intel Mac and a bit of software.  The process is likely to be streamlined soon.

I...

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Aug 09
Greg's bite: BlackBerry agrees to local servers

By Greg Mills

RIM and Saudi Arabis reached a compromise that allows BackBerry servers to be set up in country. The established business method is that all BlackBerry servers were once in Canada.

That hid the servers  behind Canadian courts and made national security agencies upset they couldn't monitor BlackBerry email and browsing habits of locals. Last week Saudi Arabia temporarily shut down service to 750,000 Saudi RIM phones to prove they we serious with RIM.  THe solution was to continue encrypting the data streams but put RIM servers in Saudi Arabia so the security agency can monitor electronic data on the severs. The data stream is only encrypted between the servers and the phones. The data is unencrypted once it gets on the server.

This solution is sure to be demanded and agreed to by RIM in other countries around the world.  This is disaster in the making for RIM as sure as a great storm brewing in the gulf means a hurricane IS coming...

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Aug 09
Despite down economy, smartphone market on an upswing

Notwithstanding the economic downturn, the smartphone market is on an upswing, with consumers increasingly seeking devices that are well designed with innovative features and applications such as touch screen technology, wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) and location-based service (LBS), according to notes Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/). And that, of course, is good news for Apple.

These devices continue to be status symbols in the consumer and enterprise markets, says Research and Markets. In the next couple of years, software is expected to play a major role in the mobile handset market, along with more standardized hardware design, adds the research group. And, again, Apple has a leg up on the competition in this arena.

Mobile operators are likely to partner with significant participants from the Internet community, the media and the entertainment...

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Aug 06
Greg's bite: Lights out for RIM in Sauda Arabia

By Greg Mills

As I mentioned in yesterday's Greg's Bite, RIM is in a bind right now over its method of serving data from a centralized location in Canada and encrypting data streams to customers.  

This secure system, which companies love prevents a serious security risk for the national security agencies around the world that have not been able to break the encryption.  Holding customer data on local servers is a system where security agencies are able to access customer data locally. Every other smartphone in the world, that I know of, uses the local servers of the cell phone providers in each country. RIM's advantage in using encrypted data streams as an advantage to sell its customers may be about to erode.

As I mentioned in yesterday's article, the advantages of RIM are an established business customer base due to security, the blinking red light and a clicking physical key board. The clicking key board is not exclusive to RIM and touch...

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Aug 06
How about cloud storage with a 'Make DVD'...

Earlier this week I asked if perhaps Apple was planning on replacing IDVD with cloud storage (something I'm personally against). But "MacNews" reader Wayne Folta has an idea that would make it more acceptable to folks like me who like having physical media.

"What if Apple would host your videos in their cloud, and then you could choose 'Make DVD' and assemble a DVD of your chosen videos and have a nicely-printed disc mailed to your chosen recipient?" he asks. "They already do this with iPhoto (get a photo book printed), so it might make sense. More convenient for mom and pop, who won't have to worry about burning a coaster, or trying to figure out how to get their DVD to look 'professional,' with a nice photo printed onto the top side."


Good idea, Wayne. Apple, are you listening?

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Aug 05
Greg's bite: Blackberry caves in to Dubai

By Greg Mills

The conflict between RIM and Dubai has been resolved -- and RIM blinked. The issue is that access to Blackberry network data within individual countries is different than other cell phone services, such as an iPhone account through AT&T.  

The authorities can go to the various cellular networks to access account information of suspected terror or crime figures, with a warrant issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. The data resides with the cell provider on its servers. The RIM security problem has come up in India, Saudi Arabia and other countries that are beginning to monitor electronic communications on a national basis.

In some cases the cellular networks roll over and give full access to all information they have on an account, or, in the case of AT&T, they are a bit less forthcoming and demand a warrant for every bit of information they give up. Here Sprint is the easy cellular network to provide customer data...

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Aug 05
Apple wants their idevices to enhance your shopping...

An Apple patent (number 20100198626) involving systems and methods for accessing shopping center services using a portable electronic device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's directed to systems and methods for enhancing a user's experience at a shopping center. In particular, it's directed to providing a "heat map" to indicate popular areas of or products in a mall.

In some embodiments, an integrated application available on an electronic device can provide information for promotional and available sales of goods and services, allow a user to browse and search through available content providers of the shopping center, such as parking, restaurants, and clothing stores, to purchase content based on the personal needs of a user. In some embodiments, an application available on an electronic device can check for the availability of particular items and show ratings or reviews for stores carrying the items. In some embodiments, In particular, the...

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Aug 05
Apple patent is for integrating an electronic device...

A new Apple patent (number 20100198453) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and involves integrating a portable device with a bicycle. The electronic device can receive the output from sensors coupled to the bicycle and generate riding characteristics for display to the user.

The electronic device can in addition receive communications from other electronic devices and provide the communications to the user. In some embodiments, the electronic device can be paired with the devices of one or more other cyclists so that the cyclists can share riding characteristics and other information. This can allow the cyclists to ride as a team and better assist each other. The inventors are Jesse L. Dorogusker, Anthony Fadell, Andrew Hodge, Allen P. Haughay, Scott Krueger, James Eric Mason, Donald J. Novotney, Emily Clark Schubert, Policarpo Wood and Timothy Johnson.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Many bicyclists desire accessing different information...

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Aug 05
Apple patent involves software fingerprinting

An Apple patent (number 20100199266) involving software fingerprinting has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to analyzing software performance, and more particularly, to a system, method, and program for graphically presenting code execution data in order to quickly identify of areas of code which may represent opportunities for optimization.

A system, method, and computer program for analyzing code execution and software performance characteristics are disclosed. Samples of executing code may be taken based on any of a number of various triggers. For example, samples may be triggered based on function calls, such as malloc calls. Alternatively, samples may be triggered based on occurrence of a specified event. Code execution is graphically displayed such that certain patterns may be easily identified. Multiple redundant function calls and areas of code having excessively deep function calls can be readily spotted. Such areas represent...

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