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Sep 15
Greg's bite: super big Wi-Fi zones coming?

By Greg Mills

The FCC, the agency that controls radio frequencies in the US, is about to open up some long wave frequencies in the 700 MHz range that are now available due to the digital TV frequency changes last year. The frequencies are particularly valuable since they penetrate buildings and go further with the same amount of radio energy as shorter wave frequencies that don't go nearly so far, or through walls very well. Look for miles of transmission distances instead of hundreds of feet.  

Further, this new SuperWiFi frequencies are not going to be regulated and will, thus, be like current WiFi and BlueTooth, where the radio chip sets are tested and approved by the FCC but the use of the frequencies will be available to anyone. Wireless devices will also have to transmit back to the more distant Wi-Fi sites, so additional and more powerful SuperWIFi cards will be required.  

This will open up the way for Super Wi-Fi servers that will...

| Read more »
Sep 14
Apple granted several patents

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent D623,404 is for the design of an armband for the 3G iPod nano. The inventors are Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Jonathan Ive, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Calvin Seid, Vincent Keane, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent D623,645 is for the power plug for the MacBook and MacBook Pro. The inventors are Jody Akana, Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Jonathan Ive, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number 7,795,553 is for the hybrid button on the iPod. The inventors are Douglas Weber, Pinida...

| Read more »
Sep 14
Greg's bite: the Nokia story

By Greg Mills
Nokia, in big trouble

I can remember having Nokia cell phones, but that goes back a few years. Recently the smart phone revolution has taken it's toll, and Nokia's market share has fallen off dramatically.  In an attempt to reinvigorate the company, they ditched their CEO of long standing, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo to tap a former Microsoft Executive, Stephen Elop for the job. To a great extent it might be sort of like rearranging the deck chairs on the doomed ship Titanic.  

Apple and Google have the app store business so locked up, Rim and Nokia and the also rans are struggling to even stay in the game. I can well remember extremely stupid smart phones. I had one Motorola (also a sinking ship) cell phone that had a web access element that even a Sprint service center couldn't get up and running. Despite acknowledging the problem, the Sprint customer service department was reluctant to remove the charges on my bill for that service...

| Read more »
Sep 14
More and more folks ditching pay TV

Thirteen percent of current pay TV subscribers in the US say they are "somewhat" or "very" likely to cancel their current subscription in the next 12 months -- and not sign up with another provider -- according to a survey of 2,000 US households recently conducted by Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics). And I may be among them.

The firm says that “cord cutting,” the practice of dropping traditional paid television service in favor of free broadcast or Internet-delivered “Over the Top” (OTT) content is a growing trend. And if all cable and satellite companies are gouging customers like they're gouging me (my Comcast bill jumped $42 from one month to the next with no change in service and no explanation -- yet -- as to why), who can blame them?

“While it may represent only a relatively small percentage today, we anticipate the number of cord cutters to increase going forward,”...

| Read more »
Sep 13
What screen resolution do you prefer?

Well, I would have thought it would have been bigger, but Uptrends.com (http://www.uptrends.com), a global webs site monitoring company, says the 1024 x 768 screen resolutions size is used more often than any other size.

The 1024 x 768 screen resolution size has the largest share of global usage, with global usage of 25.17%. But less and less people are using this resolution. In April 2007, the share of global usage was 55.34%. Internet users worldwide have been increasingly choosing larger screens with higher screen resolution. Apple might make a note of this, as the company seems to think that the world wants increasingly smaller displays (witness the latest iPad nano).

In a study conducted by Uptrends, the usage of smaller screen resolutions such as 800 x 600 is also on the decline. For example in April 2007, the global usage of the 800 x 600 screen resolution size was 8.18 percent. In this year’...

| Read more »
Sep 10
Nearly 59 million mobile WiMAX subscribers predicted...

According to new projections from ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com), the number of subscribers to mobile WiMAX services will approach 59 million in 2015. And I think the technology will come to Macs in the not-too-distant future.

That represents a positive forecast in light of recent economic conditions, although research analyst Xavier Ortiz notes, “WiMAX’s growth has not been as early or as strong as many would have hoped several years ago.”

The recession certainly played a role, making investors wary and delaying some deployments, he says. On top of that, delays in the formation of the new Clearwire have constrained the rest of the ecosystem to some degree, from subscribers to devices and chipsets. The factors impeding WiMAX’s growth haven’t been technological, according to Ortiz, but economic and psychological.

"The recession certainly played a role, making investors wary...

| Read more »
Sep 09
Apple eyeing ways to beef up song options, menus on...

Two Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office showing that Apple wants to beef up the viewing options in iTunes on Macs.

Patent 20100229088 is for graphical representations of music using varying levels of detail. Systems, methods, and machine-readable media are disclosed for providing graphical representations of music of varying levels of detail. An electronic device can determine the attributes of a first type (e.g., genre) associated with the music.

The electronic device can display a graphical representation of the music using the attributes. The graphical representation can be based on a spiral, helix, map, or any other geometric shape or curve. A user can zoom into a portion of the graphical representation to select the music of a particular genre in which to view more detailed information. In response, the electronic device can determine the attributes of a second, more detailed type (e.g., artist) associated with the selected music...

| Read more »
Sep 09
Apple patent involves duplex audio for mobile devices

An Apple patent (number 2010027643) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office involving duplex audio for a mobile communication device and accessory.

Duplex audio is provided for a mobile communication device and an accessory. In some embodiments, the accessory can selectably operate in a duplex audio mode, concurrently sending audio to and receiving audio from the mobile communication device, or in another audio mode. In duplex audio mode, the accessory can enable its internal audio processing operations (e.g., echo cancellation) while the mobile communication device disables its corresponding internal operations or vice versa. The mobile communication device can control when the accessory transitions into and/or out of duplex audio mode. The inventor s are Jason Y. Yew and Lawrence G. Bolton.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present disclosure relates in general to mobile communication devices that interoperate with...

| Read more »
Sep 09
Apple working on dual mode technology for LCD screens

An Apple patent (number 20100225657) for systems and methods for operating a display has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's for LCD screens on computers and TVs to be able to run in two different modes.

Embodiments of the electronic device include a display driver with the ability to receive image data in a streaming display mode or a frame-buffered display mode. In some embodiments, the electronic device may switch seamlessly between the two display modes based on which display mode will provide reduced power usage given the type and/or variability of the image data being received. The inventors are Kapil V. Sakariya and Wei H. Yao.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are commonly used as screens or displays for a wide variety of electronic devices, including consumer electronics such as televisions, computers, and handheld devices (e.g., cellular telephones, audio and video players, gaming...

| Read more »
Sep 09
Apple wants to improve camera features on its idevices

An Apple patent (number 20100225429) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows the company is looking at ways and accessories to improve the camera features of the iPhone and iPod touch (and probably the next gen iPad).

Systems and methods are providing for aligning an accessory to an electronic device interface. In particular, some accessories such as optical filters and lens require specific alignment to operative properly. Using a first magnet array positioned around the periphery of the interface and a second magnet array positioned within the accessory, a user can position an accessory on the electronic device and rotate the accessory until the magnets of each array exert a force on an opposing magnet of the other array. By distributing the magnets in a manner that includes no repeating segments, only a single alignment of the accessory relative to the interface can allow the magnet arrays to be properly in opposition. Richard Tsai is the inventor...

| Read more »
Sep 09
App Store needs a Playlist feature

I haven't yet decided if iTunes 10 is, for me, an good upgrade or not. Quite frankly, I doubt I'll use Ping. I'm on Facebook and that's about enough social networking for ome.

However, it occurred to me that the Apple App Store needs playlists like the Music Store has. In other words, if I'm a very successful real estate agent that others are trying to emulate, and I want to share my setup, I should be able to create a playlist of apps that others can see.

Now maybe this will be taken care of once Ping adds Apps, Books, etc. In that case, I might use Ping after all.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Sep 08
There's such a thing as too much love for your...

Samsung Mobile has announced the results of a new online survey that showed working Americans who own smart phones are breaking old boundaries on when and where it’s appropriate to make and take business calls. And some folks are a bit too enamored of the phones.

According to the results, these professionals conduct their business far, far away from the office setting including while on vacation, the bathroom, during a date, at church or even during -- now, c'mon, folks, get a life -- sex. Respondents admit the need to stay connected and productive with their jobs led them to take their business calls into more private settings than ever before, such as a trip to the bathroom or during an intimate moment with their significant other.

Close to three quarters (72%) were comfortable taking calls on the commode, while at least one out of every 10 people came clean about doing business over the phone at a funeral (16%) or in the throes of passion (10%). Other taboo...

| Read more »
Sep 08
The Apple TV as game console

The new Apple TV has met with a very mixed bag of advance notices (I have one ordered; when it arrives I can give you an in-depth report). However, "VentureBeat" (http://games.venturebeat.com/2010/09/06/how-apple-could-undermine-consol...) thinks the device could compete with game consoles if Apple plays its cards right. They may be onto something.

"VentureBeat" says that all Apple would have to do is launch an Apple TV version of the Apple App Store on Apple TV with downloadable game apps. The article says that Apple might "further disrupt the business by selling its own Apple-branded connected TVs with Apple TV built right in." Since Apple has cool touchscreen and motion-sensing controls in its iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone devices, it already has lots of...

| Read more »
Sep 07
Apple patents involve file extensions, latency...

Three Apple patents in addition to those already covered have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7792881 is for a method and apparatus for managing file extensions in a digital processing system. An exemplary method of managing file extensions in a digital processing system involves a user interface and a plurality of files, each file having a name that comprises a filename and an extension. The method includes associating a file with an indicator which is user selectable for a single file in a plurality of files in said digital processing system and which indicates how to display an extension of the file, and assigning a value to the indicator, and displaying a displayed name of the file in the user interface in a style determined by the indicator. The inventors are Scott Forstall and Edward D. Voas.

Patent number 7792024 is for IO Latency Reduction. It involves an...

| Read more »
Sep 07
Apple wins QuickTime-related patent

Apple has won a QuickTime related patent from the US Patent & Trademark Office for "One-Click Full Screen Video." The invention provides a method and system for playing full-screen video on a user computer.

The method includes displaying in the user interface at the user computer a web page containing at least one link to electronic video file, selecting the link to request the video file, downloading the video file to user computer in response to the request, detecting by the user computer receipt of the video file, opening in the user interface to window of the video player in full-screen mode in response to the detecting, and reading the video file by the player to play the video in the window.

A feature of the present invention is that the video player may not have its preferences preset by the user to open in any particular mode. The mode in which the video player opens will be determined by the downloaded video file. The inventors are Robert Douglas Werner...

| Read more »
Sep 07
Apple patent is for dock fixture for testing handheld...

An Apple design patent (number D623,128) for a dock fixture for testing handheld electronic devices (top graphic) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The inventors are Richard Hung Minh, Tang Yew Tan and Michael M. Lee.

Apple has also been granted a design patent (D62,136) for a USB power module (bottom graphic). The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

| Read more »
Sep 07
There's such a thing as too much love for your...

Samsung Mobile has announced the results of a new online survey that showed working Americans who own smart phones are breaking old boundaries on when and where it’s appropriate to make and take business calls. And some folks are a bit too enamored of the phones.

According to the results, these professionals conduct their business far, far away from the office setting including while on vacation, the bathroom, during a date, at church or even during -- now, c'mon, folks, get a life -- sex. Respondents admit the need to stay connected and productive with their jobs led them to take their business calls into more private settings than ever before, such as a trip to the bathroom or during an intimate moment with their significant other.

Close to three quarters (72%) were comfortable taking calls on the commode, while at least one out of every 10 people came clean about doing business over the phone at a funeral (16%) or in the throes of passion (10%). Other taboo...

| Read more »
Sep 07
Greg's bite: my thoughts on the Apple TV

By Greg Mills

In preparing this article, I have come to view Apple TV/Netflix as not a replacement for Dish but as a cheap "pay for view" movie channel option to replace a satellite channel I am currently subscribed to.

I am going to drop one movie channel (US$12 a month) to pay for a subscription to NetFlix ($8.99 + $2.00 for HD). That revelation allowed me to make a personal decision to go ahead and buy the Apple TV device and subscribe to NetFlix. Here is my take on this.

As was anticipate by many in the Apple fan base, Steve Jobs recently announced a new and improved version of Apple TV last week. The new device is much smaller and more powerful than the previous version, but still does not support full 1080HD. It steams up to 720p video from either Wi-Fi or ethernet, so connecting it to the web is easy.  

You can stream content from a computer through Wi-Fi to the AppleTV box or directly connect the Apple TV box to the web, through...

| Read more »
Sep 06
Is 4K the next big thing in HDTV instead of 3D?

Toshiba working on a 3D TV that doesn't require glasses, and this could be a game changer for 3D technology, if it works. However, some folks think that Quad HD/4K could be the next big thing in HDTVs. And -- who knows? -- it might filter over into Macs.

As noted by "ZDNet" (http://macosg.me/2/sn), Quad HD/4K provides more than four times the resolution of 1080p HD at 3840 x 2160 (slightly less than the 4K digital cinema standard, but way more than the 1920 x 1080 of today's HDTVs). While it will require its own set of infrastructure updates (new TVs, additional bandwidth to get the content into your home, etc.), it won’t require any pair of glasses on the end user’s face.

In August Marseille Networks demoed its its complete, end to end 4K-over-HDMI prototyping system, stimulating the rapid adoption of Quad-HD resolution in Blu-ray and audio video receivers (AVRs) for the next wave of high definition...

| Read more »
Sep 03
Why iTunes Ping stinks... but has potential

While 1 million people have already enabled Ping in iTunes 10, plenty of picky early adopters have found it lacking.

On Wednesday, following a keynote address from Steve Jobs, Apple released iTunes 10, the latest version of the popular media management software. One of its major features is "Ping," a new music social network from Apple.

According to an Apple press release, over 1 million people have already enabled Ping in iTunes 10, making it a pretty successful launch by most standards. Nevertheless, plenty of Ping's pickier early adopters have found it to be lacking in a number of ways, citing major perceived failures and sundry minor annoyances, including the following.

1) No way to "like" or "post" podcasts on your profile. This is a major FAIL for anyone who...

| Read more »
Sep 03
The looming battle for the TV OS

Andrew Eisner, Retrevo.com's director of Community and Content, predicts the next platform for apps will be connected TVs. Retrevo sees a living room where TV viewers click on a weather app or sports app instead of watching the local news.

A home where families play a board game together on the TV using the Monopoly app, or stay in touch with their friends with a FaceBook app, all from the comfort of the living room couch. Following are some of Eisner's thoughts on the looming battler for the TV OS.

"Microsoft unlikely to win this battle

"Unlike the battle for the desktop OS it doesn't look like Microsoft has much of a chance of winning this battle for the TV OS. Competition over who will provide a TV OS is heating up with Google TV getting set to take on all comers for control of the living room. Meanwhile Apple may soon lob a salvo with an updated version of their Apple TV that will plant Apple iPhone/iPad apps firmly in the living room TV...

| Read more »
Sep 02
Apple patent involves rearranging idevice apps on your...

An Apple patent (number 20100223563) for remotely defining an user interface for a handheld device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves using your Mac to arrange the icons on an idevice and also thinks at an Apple watch, though I'm not holding my breath on this.

In some embodiments, a host computer can be used by a user to arrange icons among a plurality of home screens or views. For example, a representation of each of the home screens available at a handheld device can be displayed on a host computer along with a representation of the available icons usable at the handheld device. A user can select representation of icons at the host computer and arrange the icons among the representations of the home screens. Icons and/or home screens can be added and/or removed. The arrangement created by the user at the host computer display can be sent to the handheld device when completed. James Green is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and...

| Read more »
Sep 02
Apple patent relates to GarageBand features

An Apple patent (number 20100223400) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office regarding features -- both present and future -- of Apple's GarageBand app. The app is for correlating changes in audio.

Exemplary embodiments of methods and apparatuses to correlate changes in one audio signal to another audio signal are described. A first audio signal is outputted. A second audio signal is received. The second audio signal may be stored in a memory buffer. The first audio signal is correlated to conform to the second audio signal. The first audio signal may be dynamically correlated to match with the second audio signal while the second audio signal is received. At least in some embodiments, a size of a musical time unit of the second audio signal is determined to correlate the first audio signal. At least in some embodiments, the adjusted first audio signal is stored in another memory buffer. Chris Moulios is the inventor.

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

| Read more »
Sep 02
Patents relate to Apple TV updates -- and perhaps its...

Three Apple patent applications at the US Patent & Trademark Office tie in with Wednesday's Apple TV announcements and may point to future developments. They describe methods to improve the experience of over-the-air syncing, and browsing of Internet-based content.

Patent number 20080301260 is for a method and user interface for accessing groups of media assets. Improved systems and methods to navigate, browse, search and/or playback digital media assets (e.g., media items) hosted on a media server are disclosed. One embodiment of the invention pertains to a user interface arrangement, such as a hierarchical menu system, that facilitates navigation, browsing and playing of media items remotely stored on a media server.

The user interface arrangement enables user scrolling or browsing with respect to a list or set of information pertaining to media items, where the list or set can be expanded to include information for additional media items that are subsequently...

| Read more »
Sep 02
Some musings on yesterday's Apple announcements

Now that I'd had a few hours to think about all the announcements from Apple at yesterday's special event, here are some random musings about them.

Despite rumors of the iPod shuffle's demise, it lives on. For now. I still think that its days are numbered, now that the nano has gotten so small. Eventually, I think we'll see a 2GB nano replacing the shuffle entirely.

Hmmm, the new nano trades its camera for a touchscreen. Is that a good swap?

The iPod classic is still around, but received no update. As soon as the iPod touch reaches 128GB of capacity (it's only half that right now) you can bid adieu to the classic, which Apple seems to regard as the ugly ducking in the iPod line-up.

The new iPod touch sounds great, but I was hoping for a 128GB version now. And if the teeny nano can have an FM radio feature, why not the touch? Yes, that's right, I want it all and I want it now!

As for the Apple TV update, overall, I think it's a great step forward....

| Read more »
 
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