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May 13
Apple eyeing 3D display system

3D is all the rage at the movies and more vendors are making 3D HDTVs for the home. And Apple has noticed. A patent (number 200118118) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a three dimensional display system.

Per the patent a three-dimensional display system would provide a projection screen having a predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function. Three-dimensional images are respectively modulated in coordination with the predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function to define a programmable mirror with a programmable deflection angle. The inventor is Christoph H. Krah.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Modern three-dimensional (3D) display technologies are increasingly popular and practical not only in computer graphics, but in other diverse environments and technologies as well. Growing examples include medical diagnostics, flight simulation, air traffic control, battlefield simulation, weather...

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May 13
The iPad won't kill Apple's products, but it...

Some folks are predicting that the iPad will kill off many of Apple's products since the company is touting the "magical device" as having features of laptops, netbooks, ebook readers, iPods and more. The iPad won't kill off many Apple products (though if I were the MacBook Air and iPod touch, I'd be worried) but it will change them.

Survey data from Alphawise, Morgan Stanley's internal research team, indicate that iPad sales are hurting sales of the iPod and the MacBook. The survey shows that 44% of iPad buyers had chosen it over a laptop. Of that number, 24% had foregone buying a MacBook while the other 20% had nixed a PC notebook purchase. The survey also found that 27% of users would not buy a desktop as a result of their iPad purchase, with 14% of those not buying a Mac desktop, and the other 13% passing on a PC.

What's more, earlier this year, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster surveyed 448 iPad buyers and found that 99 % of respondents had not considered...

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May 13
Verizon, Apple, the iPhone: will they, wont' they...

We're still playing the "will they or won't they?" guessing game as to if and/or when there might be a Verizon version of the iPhone. But I think -- or maybe I'm just hoping -- that we'll see one sooner rather than later.

The rumor mill is abuzz that Landor Associates is working on an advertising campaign” for Verizon for an upcoming iPhone. "CrunchGear" (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/05/11/rumor-landor-associates-working-on-...) says that Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch.

This suggests a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer, but goes against another round of reports that say that Apple and AT&T's...

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May 12
Will the iPad go mass market?

The iPad is unlikely to reach mass market anytime soon according to Simpson Carpenter (http://www.simpsoncarpenter.com/), a UK research group. All of the iPad’s perceived advantages were seen to be filling a niche or too use-case specific, such as reading eBooks, consuming content on the train, or making presentations, notes "TechCrunch" (http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/05/12/report-the-ipad-wont-go-mass-market-...) reporting on the group's study.

Also, while the majority of those interviewed thought the iPad had the "wow factor," they couldn’t justify the purchase price, the article adds. “In our view the iPad will take longer to achieve the sales growth and wider market impact of the iPhone," says...

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May 12
Verizon, Apple, the iPhone: will they, wont' they...

We're still playing the "will they or won't they?" guessing game as to if and/or when there might be a Verizon version of the iPhone. But I think -- or maybe I'm just hoping -- that we'll see one sooner rather than later.

The rumor mill is abuzz that Landor Associates is working on an advertising campaign for Verizon for an upcoming iPhone. "CrunchGear" (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/05/11/rumor-landor-associates-working-on-...) says that Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch.

This suggests a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer, but goes against another round of reports that say that Apple and AT&T's...

| Read more »
May 11
Apple patent shows horizontal/vertical docking station

At least iPods, iPhones and iPads work in both vertical and horizontal orientations -- and Apple wants you to be able to dock 'em in either position. A patent (number 7,715,187) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that involves methods and apparatuses for docking a portable 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 horizontal. The docking system also includes a docking station configured to mechanically accept and operatively interface with the portable electronic device in any of its multiple orientations including vertical and horizontal. The inventors are Steve Hotelling and Gus Pabon.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic devices include a docking station for providing a convenient interface for transferring data between the electronic device...

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May 11
Apple patents involve senors, computer systems, linked...

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

Patent number 7,714,265 is for an integrated proximity sensor and light sensor. Apparatuses and methods to sense proximity and to detect light. In one embodiment, an apparatus includes an emitter of electromagnetic radiation and a detector of electromagnetic radiation; the detector has a sensor to detect electromagnetic radiation from the emitter when sensing proximity, and to detect electromagnetic radiation from a source other than the emitter when sensing visible light. The emitter may be disabled at least temporarily to allow the detector to detect electromagnetic radiation from a source other than the emitter, such as ambient light. In one implementation, the ambient light is measured by measuring infrared wavelengths. Also, a fence having a non-IR transmissive material disposed between the emitter and the detector to remove electromagnetic radiation...

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May 11
Seeking the right posture using the iPad

Now that it has been "hands on" for a few days with iPad, the issue of posture while using the device comes into play. It is sort of an acknowledgment that how you hold the iPad is a user
issue, coming from the screen orientation lock switch -- which, from what I read, was added or finalized late in the development process.  

While the gravity oriented screen is cool, it you are reading in bed, holding the iPad so that the screen is horizontal is a nice touch. That feature could have been software based from the settings screen, but it would have been a major hassle to lock and unlock the screen when going from a prone position to sitting up.

While iPad is not really heavy, holding it at the right distance from the eyes does get tiring. I find myself propping it up a lot. I invested in a silicone cover that keeps it from sliding when inclined.  The keyboard docking station combo Apple is offering really supports the laptop mode of use. I have found the touch key...

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May 11
A couple of things Apple should fix

Overall, I like my Apple products. However, there are at least two things I'd love to see Apple fix immediately: a) the miserable way of sharing Pages files between an iPad and a Mac, and b) iMovie.

The British term "rubbish" (and some even less complimentary terms) comes to mind when I try to sync documents between iWork on the iPad and Mac. In fact, it's the main reason that I think the iPad is ill suited to anything beyond rudimentary content creation (though it's great for content consumption).

In fact, you can't really sync Pages documents at all. You must manually import and export them from the iPad. Not only is this cumbersome and very "un-Apple-like," but it creates versioning problems.

To export a document from the iPad, you must first open Pages on the iPad, go to the “My Documents” area, choose the document you want to transfer to your Mac and export it in the format of your choosing. Then connect the tablet device to your Mac with the sync cable....

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May 10
Hands off my iPad

Friday morning the FedEx truck pulled into our driveway and set the stage for the turf war over the new iPad to begin. Ironically, later on the same day I had to turn my workhorse MacBook Pro in at the Apple store due to a one pixel wide vertical line that just showed up on the display the other day.

A bit of research indicated it was the dreaded graphics card defect common to some older MacBook Pros. I got in under the three-year deadline for a free repair. As I told the Genius at the Apple store who asked me if I could get along without my laptop for a week, well, I just got my new iPad ....  So here I am, with only my new iPad and iPhone to do my computing for a whole week.

My first impressions are that Apple has another sound hit. The device is impressive and addictive in the extreme. My 10-year-old is one of those kids who has grown up around computers. She talked me into giving her an old iPhone for Christmas with the ploy, "Dad, if I had an iPod touch I wouldn'...

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May 10
Initial 3D TV tests find that images pop -- but there...

There's been a lot of hype surrounding the launch of 3D TV, but is the new technology worth buying right away? I'm dying to buy one (assuming I had the moolah, which I don't).

"Consumer Reports" tested several new sets in its labs -- the first hands-on evaluation outside the manufacturers' facilities -- and found that the sets live up to their advance billing, but the average consumer shouldn't rush out to buy one. The results of the magazine's tests of two Samsung LCD sets and a Panasonic plasma TV with 3D capability are impressive. Full results are published in the June issue on newsstands May 4 and online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org. In a nutshell, the 3D images had excellent depth, color, and high-def details, creating a compelling 3D picture as good as a movie theater.

However, for consumers who are satisfied with their current HDTV and aren't burning to have the latest...

| Read more »
May 07
Traditional book retailers face trilogy of threats

Today’s reader can “curl up with a good book” in a variety of non-traditional ways -- library books, e-books, or books bought online. All these choices, however, threaten the health of traditional brick-and-mortar book retailers.

The Mintel research firm (http://www.mintel.com) says that e-book options like the iPad and Kindle, the popularity of Amazon.com and even local libraries pose significant threats to traditional book retailers. Online book sites have cornered a significant slice of the market share that once belonged to traditional bookstores from 2007-2009, as they enjoyed a 7% increase in sales at the same time traditional retailers were hit with an almost 10% decrease. This disparity further suggests that bookstore owners must act quickly if they want to maintain the upper hand on the book retail market.

“The lower costs of ordering through the Internet, either for physical books or e-books,...

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May 06
Apple patent is for multidimensional widgets

An Apple patent (number 20100115471) for multidimensional widgets has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves, as you might guess, implementations that relate generally to graphical user interface.

Systems, methods, computer-readable mediums, user interfaces and other implementations are disclosed for implementing multidimensional widgets. A multidimensional widget is a three-dimensional object with application surfaces, and each application surface is associated with a widget function. Multidimensional widgets can be modified by adding functions or grouping with other widgets. The inventors are John O. Louch and Imran A. Chaudhri.
Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A hallmark of modern graphical user interfaces is that they allow a large number of graphical objects or items to be displayed on a display screen at the same time. Leading personal computer operating systems, such as Apple Mac OS.RTM., provide user interfaces in...

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May 06
Apple patent involves pan and zoom in video sequences

An Apple patent (number 20100110303) for a look-ahead system and method for pan and zoom detection in video sequences has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to analysis of motion in video sequences and, more particularly, to identifying pan and zoom global motion in video sequences.

The system and method use motion vectors in a reference coordinate system to identify pans and zooms in video sequences. The identification of pans and zooms enables parameter switching for improved encoding in various video standards (e.g., H.264) and improved video retrieval of documentary movies and other video sequences in video databases or other storage devices. The inventors are Adriana Dumitras and Barin G. Haskell.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The analysis of motion information in video sequences has typically addressed two largely non-overlapping applications: video retrieval and video coding. In video retrieval...

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May 06
Apple patent would let devices ID users by their heart...

Forget passwords and fingerprint technology. Apple is eyeing ways in which its devices can identity users by their heart beat. An Apple patent (number 20100113950) for a seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is directed to an electronic device having an integrated sensor for detecting a user's cardiac activity and cardiac electrical signals. The electronic device can include a heart sensor having several leads for detecting a user's cardiac signals. The leads can be coupled to interior surfaces of the electronic device housing to hide the sensor from view, such that electrical signals generated by the user can be transmitted from the user's skin through the electronic device housing to the leads. In some embodiments, the leads can be coupled to pads placed on the exterior of the housing.

The pads and housing can be finished to ensure that the pads are not visibly or haptically distinguishable on the...

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May 06
Apple patents involve power functions, hash functions...

Five Apple patents that only the most tech savvy could love (though I'm sure they're great patents) have appeared at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 20100111415 is for computations of power functions using polynomial approximations. Per the patent, a power function is approximated over an applicable data interval with polynomials determined by means of a Chebyshev minimax approximation technique. In some cases, multiple polynomials may be used to approximate the function over respective ranges of the desirable interval, in a piecewise manner. The appropriate polynomial that approximates the power function over the range of interest is derived and stored. When the power function is to be applied to a particular data value, the data value is first evaluated to determine where it lies within the applicable interval. The constants for the polynomial associated with that range of the interval are then retrieved and used...

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May 06
Note to Apple: Blu-ray is catching on

New research from The NPD Group (http://www.npd.com) shows that Blu-ray is, indeed, catching on. Which, it seems to me, shows that Apple is making a mistake in ignoring the technology.

In the home, flat-panel TVs has grown to 64% in 2009, up from 61% in 2009 while the percentage of households with two or more flat-panel televisions remained flat. The broadening penetration of HDTV coupled with lower player prices, however, proved to be a boon for standalone Blu-ray players, which nearly doubled since last year, going from just 6% in 2009 to 11% in 2010. Deep discounting during the 2009 holiday season was one key factor behind this increase.

On a related note, Wi-Fi is becoming a must-have feature across a range of devices, as network connectivity migrates into the living room, reports In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com). Digital televisions, Blu...

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May 05
Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and security

Everyone knows that Microsoft products are the main targets of malware and hackers, and Adobe products are catching up in this regard. What's more, some pundits think Apple may be next.

Marc Maiffret, co-founder and chief technical officer of eEye Digital Security, told "InfoWorld" (http://www.infoworld.com/d/security-central/the-security-hole-baton-pass...) that "most people in the Apple world have a false sense of security and an elitism."

"I took some heat recently for saying Apple was way behind Microsoft on security," he says. "Look who they just hired for security -- Window Snyder, who played a lead role in helping Microsoft turn around their security. That shows the company starting to move past the...

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May 05
Opinion: The magic of Apple is hard to replicate

I read with some amusement that Microsoft dropped their tablet concept project within a month of iPad being released. Redmond knew when they had been licked -- which was before the race even started.

A tablet PC running windows is nothing special enough to matter. Even a novel form factor and a touch version of Windows was no match for iPad. The power of the Mac OS X in various modes and the infrastructure of the iTunes store, along with the reputation of Apple hardware, was enough to trump the mediocrity we have come expect from Microsoft. Despite the bravado and mocking of Apple by Balmer and company, one only has to handle an iPad to know it is going to be game changer and the price is right.

Hiring an Apple employee has also been tied, without the desired effect. Look at Palm. Trying to match the iPhone magic has been elusive and getting enough developers to launch apps using the Palm OS has also been impossible to repeat. I think even with the virtually...

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May 04
Apple patents involve digital audio input, video...

Apple patents involving digital audio input, video acquisition and more have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a look at each of them.

Patent number 7,710,294 is for an externally clocked digital audio input, determining a valid clock and muting audio during synchronization. The present invention relates broadly to digital input in a computer device. Specifically, the present invention relates to clock synchronization in a device that supports digital audio input.

Methods and apparatus for determining the existence of an external clock over a digital input port on a computer. In one embodiment, the external clock is validated, and a lock is performed when the clock is valid. Whenever a loss of the lock is detected, and, if a re-lock is likely, the apparatus is muted so that audio artifacts that would otherwise be heard are minimized. The methods and apparatus also provide automatic re-locking to the external clock when a...

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May 04
Floating in middle Tennessee...

So many of you have emailed about how I'm doing with the recent disaster in my neck of the woods, I simply don't have time to write each and every one. But your thoughts are more appreciated than you can imagine. But here's the short version....

The Great Flood of 2010, they're calling it. Nothing great about it. Middle Tennessee got the most rain in history over the weekend and into Monday, and there were floods everywhere. Eleven people died (and maybe more; that's the tally as I write this).

So all things considered I'm lucky. Not happy, but lucky. My basement has 13 inches of water in it. My stationary bike and my Bowflex are ruined. My comic book collection is ruined. And some of my electronics stuff was ruined. In case you think I was nuts for putting all this down there, let me just say in my defense that my abode and home office is located on a HIGH hill and not in a flood plane.

Anyway, as my son Matt and I were rushing to get stuff out of the...

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May 03
TV widgets/, apps alter how folks access Internet...

Most consumer electronics (CE) device manufacturers are introducing software platforms that support widgets -- also called TV applications, reports In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com). And this sets the stage for a new market and alters how people will access Internet content -- from news, web-surfing and purchasing, to watching Netflix movies and YouTube.

TV applications are small, self-contained software programs that can be plugged into a web application to access a wide range of content. Due to their broad scope, TV apps are rapidly becoming a ubiquitous product requirement for nearly all web-enabled, consumer electronic devices.

“By 2013, TV applications have the potential to generate over $1.7 billion in annual revenue,” says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst. “Our primary research shows consumers already have a moderate interest in TV Widgets. An innovative web-enabled CE device and service from a...

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Apr 30
Should Apple buy Netflix or just crush it?


While Steve Jobs glibly passes the AppleTV device off as a "hobby", he is too smart to have missed the big picture, as broadcast, cable TV and even satellite TV seem to have peaked and are in a slow decline in both customers and revenue. Then you see Blockbuster and countless other smaller video rental places in decline, you have to ask the question, where are the customers going?  DVD disk sales can't be the answer either.  

Digital TV and High Definition TV have made inroads faster than prior TV technology. It was years before VHS penetrated the market and became very common. DVD disks have already peaked and Blu-ray has now begun its reign since it clobbered the other high def. format.  I expect the period Blu-ray is popular to be short, as streaming HD entertainment is going to be the next wave.  The high speed Internet service that is required  to make downloading HDTV programing fast enough to be practical is becoming an expected level or service these days.

...

| Read more »
Apr 29
A call to action on those Mac OS-less Apple Design...

Okay, I'm still hacked off that Apple is only allowing iPhone and iPad apps in the 2010 Apple Design Awards (http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/ada/). Various stories have already been written about this (links at the bottom). Now it's time for a call to action.

The ADAs are designed to recognize apps that demonstrate technical excellence, innovation, technology adoption and more. So why has Apple decided to eliminate Mac products from the annual awards? If the company wants to spotlight the iPhone OS (and, for better or worse, it does) then why not have iPhone OS and Mac OS categories?

Let's do something about it. Let Apple how this decision reflects both poorly on Apple, but on their platforms that they claim they hold most dear. You can contact 'em at:

Public/Media Relations (408) 974-2042
Customer Relations (800) 676-2775
...

| Read more »
Apr 29
Apple wants its devices to be more aware of lighting...

An Apple patent (number 20100103172) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a system and method for rendering ambient light affected appearing imagery based on sensed ambient lighting. In other words, Apple wants its devices to be more "aware" of the lighting conditions around them.

The patent is for a method for rendering ambient light affected appearing imagery on a two-dimensional display screen in dependence on sensed ambient lighting conditions about the display screen is disclosed. The method includes processing, on a microprocessor in control communication with the display screen, data defining sensed ambient lighting conditions about the display screen, and based on said data, determining at least one light source's location relative to the display screen and an intensity of light from that at least one light source at the display screen.

The method then includes rendering an image of a constructed scene on the display screen based on the...

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