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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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Jul 21
So how'd I do in my Apple financial predictions?

Apple announced record setting financials yesterday. I had made my predictions prior to the announcement. So how'd I do?

I predicted that Apple e sold 3.52 million Macs, compared to 2.6 million from the same period a year ago. Apple actually sold 3.47 million Macs, so I was a bit too optimistic in my prognosis.

I predicted that Apple sold 10 million iPhones during the quarter, compared to 5.2 million from the same period a year ago. Apple actually sold 8.4 million, so I was way too optimistic in this regard.

I predicted that Apple sold 10.1 million iPods during the quarter, compared to 10.2 for the same period a year ago. The actual figure was 9.41, so, again, I was too high.

Lastly, I forecast that Apple sold 3.5 million iPads during the quarter. In reality it was 3.27 million.

Seems the Street always underestimates Apple, while I -- at least this time around -- was too rosy in my crystal ball grazing.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 20
Apple patent is for visual expander for touchscreen...

An Apple patent (number 7,760,187) for a visual expander has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It seems to concern an upcoming feature for the iOS -- and perhaps Mac OS X.

A computer implemented method for a touchscreen display is disclosed. The method includes presenting graphical information on the touchscreen display. The method further includes detecting a touch over the touchscreen display. The method also includes expanding an area of the touch screen display proximate the location of the touch. The inventor is Peter Kennedy.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "There exist today many styles of input devices for performing operations in a computer system. The operations generally correspond to moving a cursor and/or making selections on a display screen. By way of example, the input devices may include buttons or keys, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch screens and the like. Each of these devices has advantages...

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Jul 20
Apple patents range from synching to circuit switching

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Apple patent 7,760,767 is for wide area peer-to-peer synching in a decentralized environment. A system and method are disclosed for synchronizing data between devices and more particularly for synchronizing data between a plurality of peer-to-peer devices in a decentralized environment where no one device stores the most "recent" or "true" version of the data. Embodiments of the invention relate concepts of discovering synchronizing peers, communication between peers using special techniques, and using a way station concept as an aid for both discovery and synchronization between peers that are not simultaneously available. The inventors are Bruce Nilo, Gordie Freedman and Toby Paterson.

Patent number 7,761,798 is for a system and method for controlling the screen appearance for a data processing system. In one embodiment, a data...

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Jul 20
What can we expect from today's Apple's...

Apple will announce its third quarter fiscal results today at 2 pm (Pacific). Here's what the Sellers Research Firm (that's me) is predicting.

I expect Apple to report net income of $2.9 billion, up from $1.8 billion during the year-ago quarter.

Apple will have sold 3.52 million Macs, compared to 2.6 million from the same period a year ago.

Apple will have sold 10 million iPhones during the quarter, compared to 5.2 million from the same period a year ago.

Apple will have sold 10.1 million iPods during the quarter, compared to 10.2 for the same period a year ago.

Apple will have sold 3.5 million iPads during the quarter.

We'll be covering the financial announcements, of course, so check back today to see how the Sellers Research firm did.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 19
Will tablet devices hurt sales of other devices? Not...

A new study by Rethink Technology Research found that about three quarters of the sales of tablet devices, such as the iPad, will be at the expense of the purchase or upgrade of another device in many case one with higher price tags and margins than the tablet.

Vendors will hope these will be companion products, acquired in addition to a phone or notebook, but that means the prices have to be keen, to encourage consumers in a recession to invest in a non essential item, says the research group. Even Apple has come in with an iPad entry price far lower than most had expected, and a recent research note from Credit Suisse points out that Apple management noted that it will remain nimble (pricing could change if the company is not attracting as many customers as anticipated). Remember, Apple slashed the price of the iPhone by $200 two months after it went on sale.

Apple stands to make margins of almost 43% on the new tablet, so has plenty of room for maneuvering, but...

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Jul 16
What I want in the next iMac

I suspect we'll see new iMacs introduced in the September/October timeframe in time for the back-to-school shopping season). Here's what I expect to see -- as well as some things I hope to see.

The next iMac will probably include USB 3.0 and HDMI ports. Naturally, it will include speed boosts; I suspect we'll see a high-end six-core model running Intel's 3.2GHz Core i7-970 processor. Or perhaps even the 3.33GHz Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, Both feature Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost features and support 1066MHz DDR3 memory.

Or perhaps -- though less likely -- the next iMacs will sport "Sandy Bridge" processors. The difference between the Nehalem-based chips of today and Sandy Bridge is that the latter's architecture takes everything down to 32nm -- including the graphics processor and memory controller -- while keeping it all within the same enclosure. (Intel plans to eventually transition to a 22nm process.)

Intel claims that Sandy Bridge will increase...

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Jul 15
Apple patent shows new dock connectors for idevices

A new Apple patent (number 20100177476) has popped up that shows the company is working on new dock connectors that would allow idevices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to be docked in either horizontal or landscape orientations.

The invention relates generally to docking stations for portable electronic devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to docking stations for portable electronic devices, which have planar like configurations and that operate in multiple orientations. Even more particularly, the present invention relates to improved techniques for transferring data and/or power between portable electronic devices and the docking stations.

The patent involves methods and apparatuses for docking a portable electronic device that has a planar like configuration and that operates in multiple orientations. The docking system includes a portable electronic device capable of operating in multiple orientations including vertical and...

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Jul 15
What should Apple do about the iPhone 4?

First off, let me note that I don't have an iPhone 4 -- and won't until I Verizon (or Spring or T-Mobile) carries it. The AT&T reception is just terrible where I live. Still, despite all the hoopla over the antenna/reception issue, I'd love to have one.

That's not to say that Apple doesn't have a major problem on its hands with the iPhone 4, though it's more of a PR problem than a technical issue. And if I were a betting man, I'd place money on the Apple NOT having a recall of its latest smartphone line.

Sure, "Consumer Reports" has said it can't recommend the iPhone 4 due to antenna/reception problems -- if there are indeed problems. And I'm personally skeptical that there are major technical problems with the iPhone 4.

I know four people who have bought an iPhone 4; none of them are having any issues. Well, at least no more than they did with their iPhone 3Gs or 3Gses (thanks, AT&T). Changewave Research says there's still an incredible amount of...

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Jul 14
Donovan's Views: more than one Hong Kong Apple...

By Gaurang Donovan

The others missed this in their reporting on Apple's China second entrance. The Hong Kong press included as far as I, and three others, can tell.

On July 8, Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Ron Johnson appeared and spoke at the new Shanghai Pudong store to media representatives a few days before the store opened. His talk was captured on video and you can find it through this link: http://macosg.me/2/iv .

In reference to the Shanghai Pudong store, he stated: "We view this store as kind for a launching pad for 25 stores that we will open throughout China by 2012."

At just past the minute mark of the video he continued: "We will be adding mores stores in Shanghai, in Beijing, our first stores in Hong Kong and stores throughout many of the cities in mainland China"

He said "our first stores in Hong Kong" implying more than one actual store was...

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Jul 14
What's in store for the Mac? Some of YOUR...

I've been offering my thoughts on what we might see in a Mac in recent columns. We'll conclude the series (for now) with a few thoughts from our "MacNews" readers.

Here's what Ray Comeau would like to see: "What I want to see in a future Mac laptop, is the ability to scan a document directly into a documents folder without the need to buy more hardware. Just imagine getting a piece of paper you need for tax purposes or legal reasons or for long term archiving and being able to scan into a doc folder at any place at any time. (In the airport waiting for a flight, in a clients office during a meeting, sitting in a presentation, etc.) I am not always in my office or home when need to scan a document. For road warriors this is a great practical addendum."

Loren Kruse says: "I believe we need to see a generation of software advancement for the Mac. I I would love to see a new touch interface for the Mac. Maybe a combo where you could still use the mouse but also use a...

| Read more »
Jul 14
Greg's bite: iOS drag and drop creator on the way...

By Greg Mills

Currently the Apple Developer Tools used to create apps for iOS, that run on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad are really professional programs. While they have drag and drop elements, the way they all fit together and work to create an app is not something a child can easily do.  

Some background in programing is very helpful. That is likely to change as an easy way to create apps for iOS may well be on the way. While it has not been announced or even hinted at by Apple, a move by Google guarantees a "user friendly" iOS app creator program will be released by Apple any time now. 

The Google competition with Apple over content in their app stores is going to heat up with a new "Google Android App Inventor" tool to be launched soon by "Big G."  With this software kit, that runs on Google servers "in the cloud" on a web browser, a person can create simple apps using "blocks" of programing that are graphically put together to preform...

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