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Jun 07
Greg's bite: iPad software that must be on the...

By Greg Mills

While there is certainly a lot of software already available for iPad, the transition path for consumers to migrate from laptops or desktops to the iPad will require the iLife suite and other consumer grade programs to become adapted to the Cocoa Touch methods of the user interface.

iMovie simplified to run on iPad will be a killer app. The Apple "go to market" model seems to be breaking up suites of software, such as iWork and iLife into individual apps and selling them online for US$10 a pop. At that price point they are selling well. That represents about a 50% discount over Mac OS versions. I will be watching Steve Jobs' Worldwide Developer Conference keynote today to see what new iPad software launches.

The camera USB connector for iPad will become a fundamental addition for most of us -- at least until Apple launches the next generation iPad that might have a camera and perhaps a USB port built in. Clearly, for the iPad...

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Jun 04
My predictions for today's WWDC keynote

Apple will kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today with a keynote address by CEO Steve Jobs at 10 a.m. (Pacific). I've culled through all the rumors and here's what I'm predicting.

Jobs will introduce the next gen iPhone, which will have a front-facing camera for video and group chat. The smartphone will be introduced and demoed -- but won't go on sale for another 2-3 weeks.

Jobs will introduce iTunes.com, a web-based version of iTunes.

The CEO will introduce new Mac Pros and Mac minis, as well as 27-inch Cinema Displays.

It will be announced that Safari now officially supports extensions.

There will be no announcement of a Verizon iPhone. That's coming, but not yet. I'm EXPECTING it to happen in 2011, but I'm HOPING it will happen this fall or winter.

There will no no announcement of a new Apple TV. That's coming, but it's not quite ready (forgive the pun) for prime time yet.

No new iPods will be...

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Jun 04
Greg's bite: can the iPad save journalism?

By Greg Mills

Frankly, the blunt answer is yes, but not necessarily in its current business model -- and many publishers will not make the transition. I laughed when I saw where some well known national magazines launched an app and were charging US$5 an issue for an electronic version of a print magazine you can subscribe to for $8 per year -- for 12 full color magazines delivered to your door.  

People are not stupid;at least most of us are not that stupid. Perhaps as a novelty, one might spend $5 on one electronic magazine, just to see what it is like. A thriving business model requires a long term willingness for consumers to buy a product. Gouging will not work long term. 

Advantages of electronic publishing are cost related.  If that cost advantage is not passed on to the electronic consumer, the electronic magazine product will not sell. While the cost of publishing a paper magazine varies according to circulation, at least half the cost...

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Jun 04
Blu-ray 3D demoed for computers

Earlier this week I talked about the possibility of a stereoscopic (ie, 3D). Whether or not they're Macs, 3D computers look as if they'll arrive sooner than I expected.

CyberLink Corp. is showing visitors to this week's Computex expo a demonstration of PowerDVD 10 ULTRA 3D that enables Blu-ray 3D movie playback on computers. With PowerDVD, consumers will purportedly be able to enjoy full 1080p high-definition stereoscopic video on Blu-ray 3D movies.

PowerDVD is the first software player to receive Blu-ray 3D certification from the Blu-ray Disc Association. Optimized with CPU and GPU hardware acceleration, PowerDVD delivers two 1080p frames to create a hi def, 3D video effect in the display. PowerDVD outputs to all main 3D formats, including sequential, row-interleave, and checkerboard too. It also enables 3D graphic menus and 3D subtitles for a full 3D experience.

Now I have no idea if or when Apple might bring 3D technology to, at least, a build-to-order Mac....

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Jun 03
Apple could aim particle gun at DRM violators

A new patent (number 20100138654) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a system of digital rights management (DRM) that would identify the authenticity of a device based on the unique physical emission properties of a "particle gun." The invention invention relates to DRM and more specifically to authentication or hashing functions.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The field of DRM involves code protection, code obfuscation and various other software security mechanisms. Cryptography is one such way to protect information. Cryptography is the practice of hiding information; encryption is the process of converting intelligible information (plaintext) into unintelligible information (ciphertext); and decryption is the process of converting ciphertext back into plaintext. Authentication is a software security mechanism that establishes or confirms an entity as authentic, or true.

"Hashing is also often utilized in...

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Jun 03
Greg's bite: the age of Ballmer must end

By Greg Mills

Some readers must think I am anti-Ballmer. But really, without Steve Ballmer I would have to find some one else to criticize -- and with the Microsoft exec it's so easy.

Who else has ridden a stone cold, worldwide monopoly into the ground? Since Mr. Ballmer took over at Microsoft in 2000, it has lost half its market cap. From US$500 billion to 250 billion dollars.  Hello, Bill Gates ... Earth to Gates ... come in Bill ... can you hear me now?

While Bill Gates doesn't have to eat in soup kitchens, he has lost ground a far as his net worth goes. Ballmer's claim to fame is mostly related to being lucky enough to have been a roommate with Bill Gates early on. 

Really, copying Apple only goes so far.  At some point you have to do something new and compelling to grow a major tech company. Not even being able to keep your bread-and-butter, slam-dunk, monopoly PC operating system working well is a very bad sign.  

I read...

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Jun 03
Are we heading toward a post-PC world?


In what is bound to make Mac users like me a bit uncomfortable, in his interview at the "All Things D" event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the post-PC (that's "personal computer," by the way, not a Windows system) has begun. And I'm sure he feels the iPad is a milestone in this transition.

"PCs are going to be like trucks and are going to be used by fewer and fewer people," Jobs said. "This transition is going to make people uneasy. When you start to enter the post PC era it’s going to make people uncomfortable. We’ve embarked on that. I don't know when it’s going to happen, but the transition has essentially begun."

My take: the personal computer era will never end, though it will change and evolve over time. Sure, more devices such as the iPad will be introduced. For some folks, they will replace the traditional computer. As for the computer itself, as I've said on numerous occasions, I think future Macs will increasingly merge features of the iPhone OS with Mac...

| Read more »
Jun 02
Greg's bite: regarding the iTV rumor in iPhone...

by Greg Mills

With bits of information the Mac rumor mill conjures up both interesting and unlikely product ideas. Historically, Apple can be expected to repeat product concepts over time and improve them as technology allows. We can know what Apple has been thinking recently by what it has shown us in the past.

Consider that the Newton was a forerunner of the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The Newton was ahead of its time and not supported by the modern parts we see today. In many respects, it is sort of like the helicopter, which was invented by Leonardo Da Vinci 400 years before the internal combustion engine, which was required to actually make it fly. Sometimes ideas are too far ahead of the general development of technology and thus can't be done in their day. But given time ...

To an extent, the Apple TV suffers from the "ahead of it's time" syndrome. Internet pass-through speeds have been a bottleneck, but that's getting better. Remember...

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Jun 02
Is a stereovision Mac in our future?

Somewhere down the road we're going to see some revolutionary Macs. In the near future they'll have USB 3.0 support and (please, Steve) Blu-ray playback support. And who knows? This Mac might be one of the first stereovision personal computers.

Jon Peddie Research (http://www.jonpeddie.com), a research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, has just completed an in-depth look at the emerging Stereo 3D (S3D) computer market. (S3D involves playing back 3D images.) The report finds that the S3D market is poised for rapid growth in the immediate future. Close to one million dedicated S3D computers will ship in 2010. That number will grow to 75 million by 2014 as S3D becomes ubiquitous.

Although most computers will be S3D capable due to the GPUs that are in them, not all will be S3D computers because they need a special monitor, glasses, and appropriate content. However, S3D computers will be...

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Jun 02
Greg's bite: reading between the lines of Jobs...

By Greg Mills

I carefully read the reports of the Steve Jobs interview at the "All Things D" event and was struck by the blunt truthfulness of the man. Certainly, he had to be very careful about every word he spoke. But it was obvious that his feelings are real about his passion, great products and betrayal. 

The historical dispute arising when Microsoft appropriated the Mac's "look and feel" for Windows 1.0, now over 20 years ago, seem to be repeating itself with Google. Apple is sort of in a Catch 22 situation where it must trust other companies that it needs for core support, only to see the guts of its greatest hits stolen or at least emulated closely enough to hurt Apple and divide the market. The Google Android phone OS is likely to be the strongest competition to the iPhone OS. Palm bit the dust, Windows Mobile is a joke and RIM is only holding its own.

Jobs commented that Apple isn't doing search even though is Google doing smart...

| Read more »
Jun 01
Apple granted design patents for the iPad, iPods,...

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

Patent number D616892 is for the ornamental design of the iPad. The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonthan P. Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satgzer, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number D616863 is for the design of the fifth gen iPod nano and D616864 is for the design of the fifth gen iPod classic. The inventors are the same as those above. Those inventors are also credited with patent D616881 for the MacBook Air.

Patent number D616899 is for the ornamental design of a media device the clip-on style iPod shuffle). The inventors are the same as those above.

Patent number D616886...

| Read more »
Jun 01
Tim Cook's commencement speech: 'I believe...

By Gaurang Donovan

Apple's Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook gave a commencement speech as his alma mater Auburn [Georgia] University on 14 May. It received a modicum of media coverage but that is not totally unexpected given how Apple is often covered in the past.

The coverage was hardly on par to what other current public appearances of other much smaller or less successful companies' executive leadership receive at times. But Cook's commencement speech reiterates much of what has been practiced quietly at Apple to achieve such a successful comeback over the last 13 years or so and it does provide me with even more confidence that Apple's leadership team is still very well grounded in what it is trying to achieve. Just keep doing it.

You can view the speech as an iTunes U podcast or YouTube video. 

...

| Read more »
Jun 01
Of SSDs and sticker shock

In my recent review (http://www.macnews.com/2010/05/27/review-owc-extreme-pro-re-ssd-blazingl...) of the OWC Extreme Pro RE SSD [Solid State Drive] I said I loved the drive but "only" gave it an 8-out-of10 rating (I rarely bestow a nine and almost never a 10) because the price is somewhat prohibitive (the 100GB model is US$400). Was I being fair?

As someone who disagreed with my rating pointed out, "if you ever did a processor upgrade in a G3 or G4 machine (or even earlier) wasn't the cost worth it to rev up the machine?" The answer to that is, of course, "yes." And I'd LOVE to have the 2TB hard drive in my iMac replaced with an SSD of similar volume (that is something that will be an affordable option sometime down the road).

So here's a recommendation for...

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Jun 01
Greg's bite: the history and future of computer/...

by Greg Mills

Back in the beginning of computers putting information in was hard work as numerous switches had to be thrown a certain way to generate results. The punch cards had to be cut and processed.  Then keyboards were used (about this time IBM screwed up and helped Microsoft take off).

A Zerox research group conceived the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and someone showed it to a fresh face in the crowd who immediately saw the future Mac interface. Foolishly trusting Microsoft to launch needed software that would run on the new Mac computers and to not steal them blind, Steve Jobs showed Gates the graphical interface. At that point Gates was driven to create a graphical interface that worked as well as the new Mac Operating System.

Apple, in time, sued and later settled rather than waste money pursuing Gates and Company. The Apple/Microsoft relationship has had its ups and downs but, seemingly, Apple was long on innovation and Microsoft...

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May 28
Greg's bite: Department of Justice looks at the...

By Greg Mills

In the title of this article, I am speaking of the Giant Electronics Firm, not the city by the same nickname. It seems incredible for those of use who took no end of ridicule over the year that we were "one of those": un-PC Apple computer, non-conformists.  

We were told our computers were too expensive and that the end of Apple was in sight. Remember the statement, "I think Apple computers are easy to use, but they don't do anything since there isn't enough software for the platform."

We saw Microsoft deliberately sabotage PC software to not open documents on a Mac. We saw Microsoft dominate the market in both operating systems and business software that was so "standard" it was only by the grace of Gates that Apple survived at all.

Well, a new age has come upon us and the tables are turning. A number of issues caused this to happen. First, despite years of promises and billions of dollars spent on R&D, Vista was...

| Read more »
May 28
Global stagnation to continue in home video...

Hmmm. Could Steve Jobs be right about the future of movies, as well as music, being digital and online? Maybe. According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, the global home video market is poised to see further declines in the years ahead.

Global revenue from sales of DVDs and Blu-ray declined more than 4% in 2009, to US$35.7 billion, and is set for another 2% drop in 2010, according to the research group. At the same time digital distribution channels such as iTunes for home video entertainment aren’t developing fast enough to offset the decline in packaged media formats.

The total packaged media market, including both retail and rental of DVDs and Blu-ray, is projected to decline 3% in 2010, to $53.3 billion and by 12.6%, to $48.1 billion by 2013.

"The future of the home entertainment market is within digital distribution of home video," says Martin Olausson, director of Digital Media Research at Strategy Analytics. "We...

| Read more »
May 28
Greg's bite: Water over the top of the dam

By Greg Mills

The press is churning out story after story about Apple finally beating Microsoft out of being the top tech company spot, as far as market cap goes. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this is only the first of the major indignities that are looming ahead.  

It boils down to this: Apple has launched a series of major hit products that each represent a virtual monopoly in their class, while Ballmer & Company have suffered embarrassing gaffs that have crippled their future and perhaps the PC platform itself. 

Realistically, Microsoft has been cruising for years on their laurels as being the main operating system for all PCs but Apple's. The question for the PC minions of the world is not which operating system to use but rather which version of Windows will you fight with to keep your computer working.

My metaphor about the dam is based upon the problem you have when water goes over the top of an earthen dam and erosion occurs....

| Read more »
May 27
Apple patent is for 'on-the-go shopping list...

A new Apple patent (number 20100082447) for an "on-the-go shopping list" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to handheld electronic devices (think iPads and iPod touches) and, more particularly, to systems and methods for conducting shopping-related transactions with a handheld electronic device.

Systems and methods for providing shopping-related information to a consumer are provided. Embodiments of the system allow a consumer to create an electronic shopping list by scanning products. In some embodiments, shopping-related information may be obtained for items in the shopping list, such as pricing information, product quality, consumer ratings, and other information that may help a consumer to make an informed purchasing decision. Other embodiments allow a consumer to obtain and compare retail prices offered by several retailers for products in the shopping list. Still other embodiments provide a store-wide network that allows a...

| Read more »
May 27
Apple patent involves earphones, headsets

An Apple patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that could hint at a new iPhone headset. Patent number 20100128887 involves detecting the respositioning of an earphone using a microphone and associated action.

The invention relates generally to an earphone. More particularly, this invention relates to detecting the repositioning of an earphone that is worn by a user.

A system detects the repositioning of an earphone that is worn by a user, and changes an operation mode of a host coupled to the earphone. Within the earphone is a pressure transducer that detects a pressure change caused by the repositioning of the earphone. A signaling mechanism sends a repositioning detection signal to the host in response to a signal from the pressure transducer indicating the detection of the pressure change. The inventors are Jae H. Lee and Wendell B. Sander.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Earphones (also known as earbuds or...

| Read more »
May 27
Future versions of QuickTime to offer recapping...

A new patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that may hint at interface changes in upcoming versions of QuickTime.

Patent number 20100132005 is for recapping media content. It relates generally to the field of media and, in particular, to playing, viewing, and controlling video or other media.

The invention involves a system in accordance with the present invention may include one or more processors, memory that receives instructions from the one or more processors according to a clock operating at a frequency, one or more programs stored in the memory, with instructions to: open a media file or receive a media broadcast that may be stored locally or remotely; play the content of the media file or media broadcast at a default speed; and control the play of the content with control features such as a feature for recapping earlier media content. The inventors are Windy Chien, Gary Stewart and Robert Kondrk.

Here's Apple's background and...

| Read more »
May 27
Apple patent involves beamforming audio for ... TV,...

I've been dubious that Apple would release its own TV set. But a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office hints at that. Or it could involve some sort of future Mac or Apple TV accessory.

Patent number 20100128892 involves stabilizing directional audio from a moving microphone array. It relates to the field of audio beamforming; and more specifically, to the aiming of audio beamforming.

The patent involves a device that includes a microphone array fixed to the device. A signal processor produces an audio output using audio beamforming with input from the microphone array. The signal processor aims the beamforming in a selected direction. An orientation sensor--such as a compass, an accelerometer, or an inertial sensor--is coupled to the signal processor. The orientation sensor detects a change in the orientation of the microphone array and provides an orientation signal to the signal processor for adjusting the aim of the beamforming to maintain the...

| Read more »
May 27
Greg's bite: Could Apple's iTunes Store fix...

By Greg Mills

I just finished buying airline tickets for my wife, daughter and myself to fly to Florida for my sister-in-law's wedding. I hate the tricks, extra fees and taxes that get tacked on after you think you have a good deal. Apple has a way of fixing the most egregious tasks we face and making it as close to fun as spending money can be.  

The current system for buying airline tickets on-line is nuts. You have tons of web sites that claim to be the cheapest all, clamoring to sell the same seats, all at different prices. It has
been said that normally, passengers on the same flight have paid as many as 10 different prices for the very same flight. To me that sounds like a system failure.  

Part of the problem is the stupid hub system where you can't fly anywhere without changing planes at a hub. I have flown from Kansas City to Atlanta just to get on a flight to Los Angeles.

The airlines churn ticket prices to the point...

| Read more »
May 27
Safari and the prospect of 'official'...

John Gruber of "Daring Fireball" (http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/05/25/chrome-beta) hints that Apple might release a "proper extension API" (application programming interface) for Safari at June's Worldwide Developer Conference. I hope he's right. It's long overdue since both Firefox and Chrome offer extensions.

Still, it's hard to imagine Apple "opening up" its web browser, since Jobs & Company like to have near-total control over all their products and technologies. On the other hand, Firefox and Chrome have both put the pressure on Safari, and the ability to tweak the Safari experience as you'd like would certainly appeal to a lot of users.

Extensions are software add-ons for web browsers. Among the bazillion Firefox and Chrome extensions are ones that let you: do screen captures, prevent Flash content from running without...

| Read more »
May 26
Greg's bite: Microsoft reorganizing due to...

By Greg Mills

The news is full of Microsoft reorganization stories.  "The Wall Street Journal" and others report poor numbers on everything Microsoft in the mobile division except the Xbox -- which is not mobile anyway.  

The famously lame Windows Mobile OS sank from 10.2% of the market to 6.8% in the last year. Keep in mind, there are "smart phones" out there that can only run the Microsoft OS and are thus stuck with the OS until the day the phone is trashed. The decline is due to the lack of new phones running the Windows OS being sold. The numbers can only tank further since the iPhone has gone viral.

Has anyone hear of a cell phone called "KIN"? According to "Wired", Microsoft launched a smart phone by that name running the Windows OS two months ago. The KIN is already a flop as Amazon has discounted the more powerful versions by 50% and cut the low end KIN down to one cent with a contract for service.

Not only has an in-house cell...

| Read more »
May 26
There's life in those CDs, DVDs still

Okay, so maybe I'm not such a dinosaur after all. "Macworld UK" (http://www.macworld.co.uk/digitallifestyle/news/index.cfm?newsid=3224278) reports that a Hewlett Packard survey of over 1,000 UK consumers, aged between 16 and 60, shows that, despite the rise of services such as iTunes, folks (besides me) still like their CDs and DVDs.

HP's survey found that 86% of the population access some form of digital media, the survey revealed consumers attach very little monetary or emotional value to the digital content they own. For example, 68% of consumers still prefer photographs to be physical rather than digital. Sixty-four percent prefer CDs over MP3s and downloads when purchasing music. And 75% preferred DVDs when it came to films, while a massive 95% still prefer reading books traditionally.


Not...

| Read more »
 
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