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Sep 28
Apple granted patent for antennas for wireless devices

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7,804,453) for antennas for wireless devices. The invention relates to antennas, and more particularly, to dielectric antenna windows that allow antennas to operate from within electronic devices such as laptop computers.

Antenna window structures and antennas are provided for electronic devices. The electronic devices may be laptop computers or other devices that have conductive housings. Antenna windows can be formed from dielectric members. The dielectric members can have elastomeric properties. An antenna may be mounted inside a conductive housing beneath a dielectric member. The antenna can be formed from a parallel plate waveguide structure. The parallel plate waveguide structure may have a ground plate and a radiator plate and may have dielectric material between the ground and radiator plates.

The ground plate can have a primary ground plate portion and a ground strip. The ground strip may reflect radio-frequency...

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Sep 28
Apple patents involve encoding, interfaces, media...

Apple has been granted three patents by the US Trademark and Patent Office. Patent number 7,804,897 is for a method for implementing an improved quantizer in a multimedia compression and encoding system.

Some embodiments limit the changes to a buffer occupancy accumulator with respect to a target number of bits of the current frame. Limiting the change of the buffer occupancy accumulator will prevent one odd significantly different frame from significantly changing the quantization. Some embodiments improve upon the quantizer adjustment by making more accurate estimates of the amount of information needed to encode each macroblock. Specifically, some embodiments estimate the bits per macroblock in a manner that varies from frame type to frame type.

Specifically, for frame types with motion compensation, some embodiments exploit the correlation between the complexity of the macroblock and the number of bits needed. In the case of frame types without...

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Sep 28
Greg's bite: more on the Iranian worm

By Greg Mills

The Stuxnet Windows worm I wrote about recently has begun to spread uncontrollably through personal PCs in Iran, as well as being found in completely isolated industrial servers not even hooked up to the Internet.  

It's believed that there are now five previously unknown Windows vulnerabilities that have been used instead of four. Reports from Iran indicate that "the worm is mutating and wrecking further havoc on computerized industrial equipment. The attack is still ongoing and new versions of this virus are spreading." Talk about the Windows tax penalty ...

From what I have read, the worm hides in blocks of the Windows operating system code used to do utilitarian functions of a PC. The worm is hard to find and has a lot of tricks that it uses to hijack systems for industrial control devices. It misdirects operators with wrong information, reverses the instructions at the controlled device, as in "close the valve" instead of "...

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Sep 28
Big Brother is watching -- and wants to watch more

I want to see terrorism fought as much as anyone, but where do we draw the line when it comes to our personal privacy. In yet another example of the federal government wanting more power, the Obama administration is developing plans that would require all Internet-based communication services -- such as encrypted BlackBerry e-mail, Facebook, and Skype -- to be capable of complying with federal wiretap orders, reports "Fox News" (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/09/27/seeking-expand-internet-wiret...).

According to a report published Monday by "The New York Times," national security officials and federal law enforcement argue their ability to eavesdrop on terror suspects is increasingly "going dark" as more communication takes place via Internet services, rather than by traditional telephone. The...

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Sep 27
The coming of Internet TV

The revamped Apple TV is due within the next few weeks. If Apple will finally take the device seriously, it has incredible potential as TV viewing is poised for some major changes in the years ahead.

A new report from Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/bb5c9e/internet_televisio) says the television industry is at the beginning of a generational change which will eventually see a new type of television service -- Internet Television -- being delivered directly to TV sets in broadband-enabled households around the globe. In the end, practically all new TV sets will incorporate Internet television functionality as a standard feature that viewers will be able to use alongside their existing television services.

With the Apple TV Apple could beat everyone to the punch.

By 2014...

| Read more »
Sep 27

Greg's bite: Viacom's CEO doesn't get...

By Greg Mills

The newer "go-to-market" models for digital video content that took Blockbuster down, (NetFlix and on-demand cable TV) is also threatening over-the-air broadcasting.  Rabbit ears don't hack it anymore.  

Broadcast TV is becoming a class-defining technology.  People who have the money to spend on entertainment are going to alternative ways to obtain video content. The numbers are disturbing to the broadcast industry, which relies on heavy advertising to survive. Even in the deepest recession in the living memory of the American public, the share of viewers watching "free" broadcast TV (over-the-air) are declining. Frankly, when almost half of over-the-air programing is advertising, it is no wonder those who can afford to get TV other ways do so. 

The content providers are getting used to a steady stream of money from cable and satellite TV systems. There is a small amount paid per customer to each channel provided. This amounts to...

| Read more »
Sep 24
Greg's bite: the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran

By Greg Mills

Apple computer became the second most valuable company in the world. The valuation has a long ways to go as the market share of Apple products are still small compared to the overall market. Buy Apple stock folks ...

Departing from my normal focus on things Apple, there are stories around the web on an interesting virus or worm attack that some very well funded hackers have unleashed upon Iran's nuclear weapons program. The Stuxnet virus was able to concentrate on infecting and spreading on control servers, not connected to the Internet, by way of hiding on USB thumb drives used to transfer other data from server to server. The virus is of course a Windows bit of malware, so Macs are unaffected.

I was somewhat surprised that Israel and the Untied States allowed the Iranian nuclear reactor, built by our good friends the Russians, to go on line a few weeks ago. The threat of an Islamic bomb under the control of radicals is a...

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Sep 24
The Mac, not the iPad, is the 'Mac for the masses...

I always like hearing Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster's take on Apple's outlook. I think he's usually on target (though I think he's off base in predicting that Apple will introduce its own line of HDTVs within two years), but I think he's a bit off base when he calls the iPad the "Mac for the masses."

In a note to clients Thursday, Munster predicts that Apple will sell 21 million iPads in 2011. That's more than he had previously predicted due, he says, to t broader distribution, an international rollout and enterprise demand. For those reasons he dubs the iPad the "Mac for the masses."

However, I'll continue to maintain that the Mac is the "Mac for the masses." After all, its market share is, by some reports, nearing 10% in the US. I think it will reach that goal as the iPad, iPod and iPhone lines have a "halo effect" of luring more people to the Mac. Plus, despite the miserable economy, for the fiscal 2010 third quarter that ended June 26, Apple shipped 34.7...

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Sep 23
Greg's bite: TV's changing channel

By Greg Mills

Things are starting to fall into place on the Apple TV front. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy, as expected, under great market pressure from NetFlix and RedBox. Apple will seal the doom of Blockbuster by adding one more strong competitor to the mix of TV content providers.  

Blockbuster expects to shed about US$900,000 million of debt and leases by going bankrupt. While they will be leaner and meaner, it is far from certain they will survive.

Blockbuster's biggest problem is that they were way too slow to abandon the business model that had worked for so many years. Putting in brick and mortar stores in every town and lining the shelved with TV and game content in physical form worked for a long time. They rented the titles and had to purchase all the content in vast quantities, distribute and keep a running inventory of all those VCT tapes, DVD disks and game disks. They had to sign leases on the store fronts for period of years...

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Sep 23
Apple working on camera technology for upcoming iOS...

Apple is working on technology for upcoming cameras in iPhones, iPod touches, probably the iPad and perhaps other devices. A patent (number 20100238344) for an electronic device having a camera flash redirector has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

An electronic camera device has an imaging sensor to capture an image of a scene, a flash to illuminate the scene for capture by the sensor, and an evaluator to detect a condition in the scene. A redirector shifts the peak of a spatial energy profile of light from the flash. The peak is shifted from being aimed at one region in the scene to being aimed at another region in the scene, in response to the evaluator having detected the condition in the scene. Other embodiments are also described and claimed in the patent. The inventor is Richard Tsai.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In photography, there has been recognized the need for providing flash illumination, at an angle that is...

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Sep 23
Apple wants to shrink audio jacks on future iPhones,...

An Apple patent for an audio jack with pogo pins for conductive contacts has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office showing that Apple plans to build even smaller headphone jacks in upcoming iPhones and iPods.

The patent involves an audio jack that can allow electrical connections between an audio plug and an electronic device. The audio jack can include a series of pogo pins operative to extend into an audio jack cavity to provide conductive contacts for an audio plug placed within the audio jack. When an audio plug is inserted in the audio jack, the deflectable tips of each pogo pin can deflect and contact audio plug contact portions or regions. The end of the pogo pins opposite the deflectable tips can be coupled to an appropriate electronic device component, such as a printed circuit board, flex circuit, cable, or any other suitable component to provide a conductive path for signals between the audio plug and the electronic device. The inventors are Sean Murphy...

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Sep 23
iPad could be a boon to the book industry

For those who think technology is killing pastimes such as reading, well, think again. In fact, the iPad as an ebook reader could actually be a boon to the book industry.

Currently, just one in 10 Americans (8%) uses an electronic reader device of some kind, according to a new Harris Poll of 2,775 adults surveyed online between Aug. 9 and Aug. 16 by Harris Interactive (http://www.harrisinteractive.com). But that will change -- and perhaps publishers should be glad.

Those who have eReaders do, interestingly, read more. Overall, two in five Americans (40%) read 11 or more books a year with one in five reading 21 or more books in a year (19%). But among those who have an eReader, over one-third read 11-20 books a year (36%) and over one-quarter read 21 or more books in an average year (26%).

eReader users are also more likely to buy books. One in five Americans (21%) say they...

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Sep 22
What your gadgets reveal about you

By Andrew Eisner

Whether you're a Mac or a PC, an iPhone, Android, or a BlackBerry user, the gadgets you use say something about you. Based on Retrevo's 2010 Gadget Census, gadget owners exhibit different behavior and characteristics depending on which gadget camps they belong to. Here's a list of some of the more interesting conclusions we've drawn from looking at the gadgets people use in thousands of households across the country and around the world.

Mac Owners Buy More Apple Products

It may not come as a big surprise that computer owners who indicated they use the Mac OS as their primary OS, purchase more iPhones and other Apple gear. In fact, households, where the Mac OS is listed as the primary OS, purchase more than three times as many iPhones and almost 6 times as many iPads.

Once You Go Mac You Never Go Back

Although Windows still dominates Mac OS by a very large margin, the Gadget...

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Sep 22
Greg's bite: RIM's BlackPad iPad killer?

By Greg Mills

As I read iPhone/iPad killer stories on the web, I am always amused that a "too late to the party, me too" product would be launched with the wild idea of actually replacing Apple's products.

Frankly, most of the competitors would be happy to not actually loose money on their device, and the notion of killing the Apple product is a headline used by journalists to attract readers. Apple is too well established to be displaced with some suddenly released stronger competitor.  The real risk is Apple being reduced, over time market share wise, by a slew of similar product that dilute the market. Note that "similar" means fully similar in both function and price. So far any real competitors to iPad are vaporware or pads lacking a critical ingredient to actually compete.   

Android is the only real threat in the long term to iPhone, but since it is open source and relies on third party hardware, it is unlikely to beat the smoothly...

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Sep 22
Time to ban the sale of ultraviolent video games to...

Do you think ultraviolent video games should be sold to minors? I don't, and apparently most adults agree with me.

Common Sense Media, a national non-profit organization "dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in a world of media and technology," has released the results of a nationwide parent poll that revealed nearly three-quarters of adults would support a law that prohibits minors from purchasing ultraviolent or sexually violent video games without parental consent.

The video game industry has aggressively fought -- in court -- a 2005 California law banning the sale of these games. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on November 2.

“The results of this poll clearly show that not only do the effects of ultraviolent or sexually violent games weigh heavily on the minds of parents, but also that parents feel the video game industry is not doing enough to protect kids from accessing these games,” says James Steyer, CEO and founder, Common Sense...

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Sep 21
Apple wins patent for iPhone/iPod touch/iPad...

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office, including one filed in 2005 that points to such upcoming devices as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Patent number 7,800,592 is for a handheld device with multiple touch sensing devices. The inventors are Duncan Kerr, Steve Hotelling and Brian Huppi.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "The invention relates, in one embodiment, to a handheld electronic device. The handheld electronic device includes a first touch sensing device located in a first region of the hand held electronic device. The handheld electronic device includes a second touch sensing device located in a second region of the hand held electronic device. The second region is at a different location than the first region of the hand held electronic device.

"The invention relates, in another embodiment, to a hand held electronic device. The handheld electronic device includes a housing. The handheld electronic...

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Sep 21
Greg's bite: Adobe Flashes away privacy

By Greg Mills

I read an article in the "Wall Street Journal" this morning about another problem with Adobe Flash that I had never heard of. It turns out Adobe Flash, in addition to the other known issues related to crashing, memory hog problems etc, also exposes users to being tracked as they surf the web.  

The cookies that are picked up like little muddy footprints across the web are now not the only web tracking method we have to worry about. Adobe Flash keeps a log of where you have been in another place in your system files. These Adobe Flash tracking files can be apparently accessed without your consent.

While Adobe condemns the use of Flash to track users, the infrastructure of Flash certainly allows it. A company called Ring Leader Digital has been using Flash to make sure you get advertising that they think fits your web browsing history. How nice of them.  Ring Leader Digital claims anyone who wants to opt out can go to...

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Sep 21
iPads complement, don't replace, your primary...

A recent study by market research firm Technology Business Research (TBR) has confirmed what I've said since the iPad's introduction: its a complement to your primary computer (for me, an iMac), not a replacement. The tablet is good at many things, but it can't handle all the chores a desktop can.

TBR finds that the iPad will displace many consumers' secondary computers, creating a third major device category for personal computing and connectivity. The study points to the success of the Apple tablet as a demonstration that the consumer seeks quick, easy e-mail and web access via a device that features more portability than a laptop while providing instant-on and more usability than a smartphone.

Although laptops will lose some ground to tablets, TBR believes the market will support all three device styles for computing and connectivity, including the laptop, tablet and smartphone. And, in fact, analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. told clients on...

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Sep 20
Greg's bite: Apple to fix newspapers

By Greg Mills

As I have mused in this space before, Apple has great expectations to develop digital download "go to market" systems that will revolutionize content publishing industries of all kinds. What they did to music with iTunes, they will do with books, newspapers, magazines, video games, software and movies.  

We see large chunks of that infrastructure already in operation. I don't claim clairvoyance, but the iPad is the format of choice for things graphic, the iPod is the format of choice for things musical and the Apple TV is the device that will allow Apple to control the digital market place for video content and games.

The server farm going on line soon in West Virginia is going to hum soon, and the cash registers in cyberspace are going to sing! We have become used to software updates streaming in from the Apple servers linked to our system software. That same infrastructure is easily able to simply download Mac OS applications....

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Sep 17
Greg's bite: iPad sales, Slate OS war, Apple...

Well, who would have thought iPad would cut into laptops sales. ... read that: PC laptop sales. Mac laptops, unaffected. Sort of like viruses and worms, PCs are suffering while the Mac is unaffected.  

While there might be a slight dip in the steep growth curve for Mac laptops, they are still selling very well despite the recession. One only has to use an iPad a while to swear off a desktop computer or PC laptop for a lot of applications.

I submit that part of the reason iPad is killing PC laptops is not just about the fabulous form factor and all that makes iPad so revolutionary. It's also that iPad is an Apple product and all that goes with that perception. Smart, stylish and easy to use, without the learning curve associated with Windows. This sells people who are open to finding a better way to do things.

I had a sonogram test to check my neck arteries for blockages today just as a health screening exercise and the PC laptop running the sonogram device...

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Sep 17
Maybe we'll see Macs with USB 3.0, after all

My gut had been telling me that Apple -- always an innovator -- would forego USB 3.0 entirely and go straight to Light Peak technology in 2011. Apparently, my gut was wrong. Maybe the feeling was indigestion.

Whatever it was, Intel said this week that Light Peak won't be shipping in computers or other devices until 2012. The chipsets to drive the fiber optic data link WILL be ready by late 2011, but that means Macs with Light Peak won't arrive before early 2012, at the latest.

Developed by Intel, Light Peak paves the way for a new generation of extreme computer input and output (I/O) performance, delivering 10Gb/s of bandwidth, with the potential ability to scale to 100Gbs over the next decade, according to David Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager, Intel Architecture Group. At 10Gb/second, a user could purportedly transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds (of course, Steve Jobs doesn't' like Blu-ray, but I keep hoping he'll...

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Sep 16
Apple plans to beef up interaction between iDevices,...

Five Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office show the company plans to beef up the interaction between accessories and the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Patent number 20100233961 involves an accessory and mobile computing device communication using an application communication protocol. Embodiments of the present invention provide various communication techniques for communication between a mobile computing device and an accessory. An accessory protocol that is generic to the mobile computing device can be used for some communication. An application executing at the mobile computing device can communicate with the accessory using an application communication protocol. In some embodiments, the application communication protocol can be different from the accessory communication protocol. In other embodiments the application protocol may only be recognized by the application and the accessory. In some embodiments, messages conforming to an...

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Sep 16
Consumer electronics spending trend could be good news...

The U.S. consumer electronics (CE) market has been hit disproportionately hard by the economic downturn, with U.S. households projected to spend 17% less on CE in 2010 than the previous year. This is the largest projected decline in CE spending among the 20 countries surveyed by the International Data Corp. (http://www.idc.com) in a recent ConsumerScape 3600 study. Strangely, this could be good news for Apple.

Let me explain.

Among these countries, the emerging BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are expected to lead the CE recovery with household CE spending gains of more than 20% year over year. Despite the decline in U.S. CE spending, IDC found that important opportunities still exist within key product categories and across specific consumer market segments.

Even though U.S. consumers are spending less on CE, they still own more devices (an average of 15.4 major devices per household...

| Read more »
Sep 16
Greg's bite: HD content protection system hacked...

By Greg Mills

The news is full of stories related to a possible hack of the copy protection system common to HDTV, Blu-Ray disks, video game disks and even iTunes music. This is not unanticipated, but much sooner than many had expected. The sky is not falling, but this is a significant issue for reasons that go well beyond the companies that have content to protect.

Copyright protection is the legal right to sue someone for "copying" your original content. Any time something is written, drawn or fixed in a tangible form, such as paper, a disk or the like, the content is automatically protected by a copyright. The person who owns the rights is the author, unless they have assigned their rights to someone else. This article is original content, but when I submit it to "MacNews" it will become the copyright property of "MacNews" due to an agreement I made with the company.

While you can sue if your content is stolen, you are entitled only to...

| Read more »
Sep 15
New MSI all-in-one could offer a glimpse of upcoming...

Apple is normally a leader in, well, just about every area of technology. However, MSI has introduced a new all-in-one computer that I think is a foreshadowing of features we'll see on upcoming iMacs. Well, at least I hope it's a hint of iMac things to come.

The Wind Top AE2420 3D (http://us.msi.com/WindTop/3DAE2420) is the world’s first 3D touch screen all-in-one computer. Unlike 3D TVs, the Wind Top AE2420 3D is designed to address the current disconnect between people’s interest in 3D entertainment, and the limited availability of content, as it can bring almost any 2D content -- from home movies to DVD rentals and 3D Blu-Ray -- to life in 3D, according to the folks at MSI.

The Wind Top AE2420 3D is powered by Intel Core i7 processors, just like the high-end iMacs. They sport 24-inch, multi-touch screens and exclusive wireless 3D shutter glasses (with rechargeable batteries...

| Read more »
 
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