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Aug 12
Apple plans to simplify object animation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 11
Greg's bite: eBook author payment issues

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts? Write me at dsellers@applecentral.com

-- Dennis Sellers...

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

I...

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Aug 09
Despite down economy, smartphone market on an upswing

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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


Good idea, Wayne. Apple, are you listening?

-- Dennis Sellers

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Aug 05
Greg's bite: Blackberry caves in to Dubai

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 05
Apple patent involves software fingerprinting

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

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

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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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