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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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Aug 05
Hey, Apple, here's a company to buy: XStreamHD

Well, Apple, if you're not going to support Blu-ray playback, if you're determined that iTunes be the alpha and omega of music/movie/video/etc. rental and purchasing, and if you ever get serious about dominating the living room, maybe you should consider buying XStream HD (http://www.xstreamhd.com).

The company's goal is to oversee a major shift distribution of high-definition (HD) content to and throughout consumers’ homes by offering the first transport network to deliver Full 1080p HD video and 7.1 channels of lossless audio directly to the home. XStreamHD’s network -- first announced in 2008 -- utilizes existing geosynchronous satellites to transport HD content to its proprietary media server via a small aperture DTH satellite antenna for distribution to multiple media portals throughout the home.

Consumers will no longer have to endure tedious Internet downloads, wait in midnight lines, or...

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Aug 04
Sharp introduces triple-layer Blu-ray Disc media

I'll never quit harping on this until I get Blu-ray playback support on the Mac (which probably means I have a lifetime of disappointment ahead of me). But it still chafes me that I could buy an US$1,000 Dell and get a feature that I can't get on a Mac at any price.

And Blu-ray continues to gain ground and advantages. Sharp Corp. plans to introduce the VR-100BR1 triple-layer Blu-ray Disc media (write-once) that conforms to the BDXL™ format specification, the new multi-layer recordable Blu-ray Disc format, a world first. These new Blu-ray Discs will be available in Japan any day now.

This disc media product conforms to the new BDXL format specification that extends the storage capacity of Blu-ray Discs to 100GB, twice the 50GB storage capacity of existing dual-layer discs. This new format enables recording approximately 12 hours of terrestrial digital TV broadcasts approximately 8.6 hours of BS digital TV broadcasts. It expands the range of applications for Blu-ray...

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Aug 03
Apple wins patents for the iMac, Apple TV, more

Apple has won several patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office, including design patents for the iMac and Apple TV.

Patent D620932 is for the ornamental design of a computer (the iMac) and patent D620,953 is for the ornamental design of a media device (the Apple TV). 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.

Patent number 7,760,903 is for intelligent interaction between a media player and host computer. Improved techniques for interaction between a host computer (e.g., personal computer) and a media player are disclosed. According to one aspect, interaction between a host computer and a media player, such as automatic synchronization of media contents...

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Aug 03
Greg's bite: piracy of Android apps verses iTunes

By Greg Mills

Remember the early days of the Apple iTunes store? There were a few brave music companies who posted their music, since the industry was reeling from rampant piracy. It was a free for all with music being stolen left and right.  

Napster and other web sites facilitated the "trading" or downright stealing of copyrighted music. It was such a problem the industry was convinced the Internet was going to kill them off financially. The Internet created a mentality that everything online was free for the downloading.  Copyright laws are still violated, despite serious laws and penalties. Sometimes some a poor miserable pirate is hung high with fines of thousands of dollars per stolen song, but the truth is you are more likely to win the lottery than get caught stealing copyrighted material and being fined for it.

Apple saw that intellectual property rights, patents, copyrights and trademarks had to be respected for a viable on-line...

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Aug 03
Does Apple plan on replacing iDVD with cloud storage?

Recently I lamented that Apple seems about to drop iDVD from the iLife suite. I think that's a mistake, but "Macsimum" reader John Konopka points out that Apple often gives us a replacement if they drop something.

Could it be that the giant server site that Apple is building in Maiden, North Carolina, will be the replacement for iDVD? Rather than burning DVDs Apple may want us to send movies to the cloud from which they can be accessed almost anywhere.

This won't satisfy the people making actual films, but it should be a fine YouTube replacement, John notes. True, but I still maintain that there's lots of us folks who would rather have physical media than our stuff stored in the cloud. Or at least in addition to cloud storage.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Aug 02
3D TV shipments projected to reach 3.4 million this...

Another reason why I think we'll see 3D Macs at some point in the not-too-distant future (say, within four years, tops): the DisplaySearch research group (http://www.displaysearch.com) forecasts 3.4 million 3D TVs to be shipped in 2010, with the market expected to reach 42.9 million in 2014.

Based on this forecast, 3D TV market penetration is expected to grow from a 5% share of total flat panel TVs in 2010 to 37% in 2014. Despite the forecasted growth for 3D TVs, the consumer electronics industry is running ahead of content availability, as 3D content for TV remains limited to a small number of movies, plus some sports events on pay TV, which are dependent on cable providers.

Blockbuster movies in 3D, such as "Avatar," won't be available for 3D TV in 2010. In addition, the low penetration of Blu-ray players, and especially HD broadcasts, outside of North America and Japan affects...

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Jul 30
The 'religion' of Apple

I'm one of the biggest Apple supporters around -- and have been even during its "beleaguered" years (when I actually did some freelance PR work for the local Apple education branch) -- but I certainly don't consider Apple my religion. Or a religion, at all.

I'm a Christian, and proud of it. On the other hand, I'm a fervent (well, usually) supporter of Apple products, but certainly don't worship them or the company that makes them. The same can be said of other Christians -- and Jews, Hindus, Muslims, etc. -- worldwide.

However, in a research paper published this month (http://macosg.me/2/m9) by two professors at Texas A&M University, the authors argue that the only way to understand the slavish adoration and over-the top financial success of Apple and the iPhone is to understand its minimalist, white-walled stores as the new churches of the tech generation.

"The religious-like behavior and...

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Jul 29
Apple wants you to dress up in its Virtual Closet

Pretty soon you may be able to dress yourself online in a Virtual Closet if Apple has its way. The company has filed two patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office for such a venture.


Patent number 20100191770 is for a system and methods for providing a Virtual Fashion closet. Fashion items can be added to the Virtual Closet. Outfits may then be created by combining two or more of the fashion items. In some embodiments, the Virtual Closet system can create recommended outfits based on weather, season, or the user's calendar.

The Virtual Closet system can allow a vendor to send recommended fashion items that may complete an outfit to a user for potential purchasing. In some embodiments, a social networking Virtual Closet can be provided. The social networking Virtual Closet can allow friends to see each other's Virtual Closets, recommend outfits to one another, recommend fashion items to buy, recommend fashion items to get rid of, recommend outfits to wear at a...

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Jul 29
Apple patent is for generating 3D model using portable...

Apple wants you to be able to use your iPhone, iPod touch and perhaps your iPad to be able to navigate a real-world environment via 3D images A new company patent (number 20100188503) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for generating a three-dimensional model using a portable electronic device recording.

According to Apple, an electronic device can load and provide an initial display of a three dimensional model (e.g., of an environment or of an object). As the user moves the electronic device, motion sensing components, positioning circuitry, and other components can detect the device movement and adjust the displayed portion of the three-dimensional model to reflect the movement of the device.

By walking with the device in the user's real environment, a user can virtually navigate a representation of a three-dimensional environment. In some embodiments, a user can record an object or environment using an electronic device, and tag the recorded...

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Jul 29
Apple patents involve accelerometer, deterministic...

Several Apple patents involving the accelerometer and other deterministic methods of navigation of the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20100188331 is for methods and apparatuses for operating a portable device based on an accelerometer. According to one embodiment of the invention, a movement of a portable device is detected using an accelerometer attached to the portable device. An orientation of the portable device after the movement is determined based on movement data provided by the accelerometer. It is determined whether the portable device is held by a user after the movement based on the movement data provided by the accelerometer. Locations of the hands of the user for holding the portable device are determined based on the orientation of the portable device. At least one interface that is not within the predicted locations of the hands of the user is activated. The inventors are Paul...

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Jul 29
Apple patent aims to make it easier to retrieve items...

An Apple patent (number 7,765,213) for an ordered index has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The company is examining ways to make the retrieval of information easier and more efficient on Mac OS X.

Systems and methods for processing an index are described. A postings list of items containing a particular term are ordered in a desired retrieval order, e.g., most recent first. The ordered items are inserted into an inverted index in the desired retrieval order, resulting in an ordered inverted index from which items may be efficiently retrieved in the desired retrieval order. During retrieval, items may first be retrieved from a live index, and the retrieved items from the live and ordered indexes may be merged. The retrieved items may also be filtered in accordance with the items' file grouping parameters. The inventors are Wayne Loofbourrow, John Martin Hoernkvist, Eric Richard Koebler and Yan Arrouye.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the...

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Jul 29
Apple looks at cooling electronic devices using...

Apple is always looking for ways to make its Macs run cooler. Now a company patent (number 7,764,493) for systems and methods for cooling electronic devices using airflow dividers has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

An electronic device can be provided with a heat-generating component and a cooling module for dissipating heat. In some embodiments, the cooling component may include a fan configured to produce an outflow of air, and a divider configured not only to direct a first portion of the outflow between a first surface of the divider and the heat-generating component, but also to direct a second portion of the outflow along a second surface of the divider. In other embodiments, the cooling component may include a divider and a pressure clip. A first portion of the pressure clip may be configured to exert a pressure on a first surface of the divider such that the pressure may hold a portion of a second surface of the divider in contact with the heat-...

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Jul 28
I'd hate for Apple to drop iDVD, but I suspect it...

The rumor mill says that iLife will be updated next month, going to 64-bit, introducing a "mystery" application and dropping iDVD.

It won't be surprising if Apple drops iDVD, but it will be disappointing. Apple -- or at least Steve Jobs -- seem determined to phase out CD and DVD support, hoping Apple users will go completely digital. And, no doubt, turn to MobileMe, iTunes and other Apple services for buying and storing all their content.

The rumor mill also says that Apple will continue to offer iDVD as a download. I hope that's true. And I hope that the app will continue to be updated as Mac OS X is updated. But I suspect it will simply be allowed to languish a la iMovie HD --- which, I maintain, was still lots better than the version of iMovie that now ships with iLife.

But the writing has been on the wall for awhile. When Apple introduced iLife '09, iDVD was barely mentioned. It wasn't updated and received no new themes.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 28
Greg's bite: Blue Screen of death=oil spill?

By Greg Mills

It is just coming out in the inquest over the largest oil spill in US history that the accident might have to do with a PC which was monitoring and controlling the drilling rig suffering a blue screen of death freeze.   

While it has not come out yet which operating system crashed, I don't recall ever having a blue screen of death event in my 25 years of using over a dozen various Macs . Hmmm, I wonder what operating system it might have been ....

The steady increase in business adoption of things Apple has a lot to do with overhead in the long term. How much time will be lost due to OS crashes? How many IP guys will it take to keep the servers up? What is the learning curve on the OS and the company computers in general? The old refrain, "Macs are great, but there just isn't software to do what we need to do that is available on Apple computers" is not really so relevant any more.

Smart phones are going the same way. As...

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Jul 28
Apple wins design patents

Apple has won several design patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office. Several others have also appeared. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7,7645,236 is for a broadband antenna for handheld devices (namely, iPhone antennas). Broadband antennas and handheld electronic devices with broadband antennas are provided. A handheld electronic device has integrated circuits, a display, and a battery mounted within a housing. The housing has a planar inner surface. A broadband antenna for the handheld electronic device has a ground element and a resonating element. The ground element and resonating element may have the same shape and may have the same size. The ground element and resonating element may lie in a common plane and be separated by a gap that lies in the common plane. The plane in which the ground element and resonating element lie may be parallel to the planar inner surface of the housing. Electronic components such as the integrated...

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Jul 28
Well, maybe I won't have to upgrade to the latest...

Well, maybe I won't have to update to the newest iMac, after all. I was expecting a wham-bam, gotta-have update to the all-in-one desktop, but found the latest rev a bit underwhelming.

Sure, all new iMac models come standard with Intel Core processors built on a new architecture. Based on Intel’s 32-nanometer process technology, these processors set new benchmarks for iMac performance. And the the ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB of memory is an option. But my iMac has a quad-core Core i7 running at 2.8GHz and an ATI Radeon 4850 with 512MB of VRAM. So how much of a performance boost would I honesty see?

I like the idea of the Magic Trackpad and the Apple Battery Charger. But they're US$69 and $29 options, respectively, so I can get them for my current iMac.

My present system was the top-of-the-line iMac when I bought it last October. So, unless I'm missing something, guess I'll save my moolah for an iMac update that offers some really must-have additions -- at...

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Jul 26
New iMacs, Mac Pros coming soon?

Various sources say the Mac Pro, the iMac and the Cinema Display will get updates soon, perhaps as early as Tuesday. Look for USB 3 support to be added, and perhaps Firewire 1600/3200.

I also suspect the new iMac will sport an HDMI port. What you almost certainly won't see is Blu-ray (which means Apple is still lagging Windows competitors in this area).

The new iMacs will probably pack faster Core i5 and/or i7 processors. I think there's a chance -- though perhaps a slim one -- that a high-end iMac might come in a six-core option.

As for the Mac Pro, look for Apple to go with faster six-core Xeon processors with perhaps a "low-end" quad-core model.

"AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) says the new rev of the Cinema Display will have a display resolution of 2560 x 1400 pixels. That sounds about right.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 26
The Northern Spy: Got your back up?

Got your back-up? The Spy has. Indeed, he is as much a back-up as a security paranoiac (refuses to connect to any network without interposing a firewall, for instance). He does not use the Documents folder on the boot partition.

Instead, his machines at work and at home each have a partition called "Files" where all working documents and email is stored (generally on a separate physical drive from the one with the boot partition). He carries about in his pocket a portable multi-interface drive, two of whose partitions are named FilesWork.bak and FilesHome.bak. The routine goes like this:

In the morning before leaving for the university, he backs up the Files partition at home to Files.bak. Upon reaching the ivory basement, he restores the latter to the Files partition on the machine there. When the day's work is done, he backs up to FilesWork.bak, and on reaching home, restores to the Files partition there.

A workable strategy? Yes, he rarely loses any files...

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Jul 26
38% of Americans hit (or nearly hit) by cell phone...

I know you just love talking on your new iPhone 4 (and, nope, no "antennagate" jokes here). But puh-leeze don't do it while you're driving.

U.S. drivers say they are seeing first-hand the danger of driving while distracted -- or DWD; add a new acronym to your vocabulary. A new public opinion poll conducted by Harris Interactive for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company shows nearly four out of 10 (38%) drivers say they have been hit or nearly hit by a driver distracted by their cell phone.

The telephone survey of 1,004 adults conducted in June confirms Americans’ increasing use of smart phone applications is creating new distractions behind the wheel in addition to talking on the phone and texting while driving. According to a previous DWD survey (conducted for Nationwide by Harris Interactive in April), among the millions of Americans who download mobile applications for smart phones, more than one in four admit to using those apps while driving.

“The number of...

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Jul 23
Greg's bite: Apple could help with India's...

By Greg Mills

There is a story in the international press today that tells how the government of India is touting an Internet connecting touch screen pad that runs Linux, with a browser, has PDF display capabilities, WiFi, 2GBs of memory and potentially email and other features.  

India has 250,000 villages that need to be dragged into age of the Internet. The prototyped device, called "Nano" is designed to offer communications for the government to interface with all the little villages and support educational programs, as well.

The second major stab at an affordable computer for the world's poor, the new pad has promise.  It's set to launch in early 2011. The XO "One Laptop per Child" program has not been able to meet its goal of selling their units under $100, as hoped. The rock bottom, no frills devices are hardly comparable to anything we would use in the US, but they do fill a crying need.  

The bill of materials alone, before...

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Jul 23
More voice enabled apps needed for iOS devices

We need more voice-enabled apps for our iOS devices. But let me explain. Macs have been able to handle limited speech recognition for a while now. And the new iPhone 4 has some additional speech control built-in.

That implies a Cocoa library, although as best I can ascertain, it's not a public library for developers to use. If I'm right, then Apple should go public with it, so that we can have more voice-enabled applications. For example, while you can use things like Vlingo or even Dragon to create voice text messages, they either cost more money to use or require extra steps to send a simple text.

An Apple Messages app needs to be able to use the speech recognition library to translate your speech into a text message and then be able to do text-to-speech to read the text responses back to you. Other phones are picking up on this general ability. Apple has the capability, and I'd love to see it used -- in the iPhone and iPad.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 22
Apple patent is for contactless plug detect mechanism

An Apple patent (number 20100182159) for a contactless plug detect mechanism has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. This is directed to systems and methods for detecting the insertion of a plug in a device port without physically contacting the plug.

For example, systems and methods are provided for detecting the insertion of an audio plug into an audio jack without using physical contacts placed in the periphery of the audio jack. In some embodiments, an electrically conductive element (e.g., a circuit board trace) can be provided on a surface of the port or within the port wall. When a metallic or conductive plug is inserted into the port, the plug can interact with the conductive element and cause a change in capacitance or induction detected by appropriate circuitry coupled to the conductive element.

In some embodiments, an optical sensor can be used to detect a plug placed in a port. In some embodiments, the electronic device can detect...

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Jul 22
Apple patent is for audio player with monophonic mode...

The patent is for an audio player includes an audio headset having two earpieces. A playback circuit provides one of a stereophonic program and a monaural program to the audio headset. The monaural program may be created by mixing channels of the stereophonic program. A mode control is coupled to the playback circuit and to the audio headset. The mode control detects when at least one of the two earpieces is not adjacent a listener's ear and causes the playback circuit to deliver the monaural program to the audio headset. The inventors ar Shaohai Chen, Phillip George Tamchina and Jae Han Lee.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A listener may utilize a headset in order to receive an audio program in private and personalized manner. Headsets typically include a right earpiece and a left earpiece coupled to a right and left channel of audio, respectively.

"There may be times when the listener may wish to listen to the audio program with only one of...

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Jul 22
Uh, Steve, folks seem to like those Blu-ray discs

And here's another reason I think Apple should seriously consider adding Blu-ray playback to the Mac: worldwide Blu-ray player shipments are expected to more than double between 2009 and the end of 2010, and the numbers from ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com) forecast continued growth next year, for a total of more than 62.5 million shipments in 2011.

In North America standalone Blu-ray players are expected to reach almost 18% penetration among TV-owning households, up from just over 7% in 2009. As interesting as this estimate is, it's just part of a larger picture.

"The solid growth in Blu-ray player shipments highlights a trend within the wider consumer electronics market," says industry analyst Mike Inouye. "Larger, fixed-location devices such as Blu-ray players and flat panel TVs are enjoying rapid adoption relative to many classes of small, portable devices. Specifically, portable...

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