Apple Inc.

Items of news from Apple, Inc.

Throttled iPhone User Wins Small Claims Case Against AT&T

An iPhone user in Southern California, won their lawsuit filed against AT&T in small claims court for the throttling of “Unlimited” plan usage.   The user, sued AT&T after being throttled each month after using 1.5 to 2gb of data.  However, AT&T’s users with the 3GB plan receive no such throttling in spite of the fact that the plans cost about the same.

The user, Matt Spaccarelli, won a judgement of $850 USD in the small claims court case after Judge Russell Nadel found in his favor.   With seventeen million “Unlimited” plan users, AT&T could be in for a good number of cases in the future as more users take on the giant telecom company.

Soure: Associated Press

Proview now suing Apple in California

Proview, the China based bankrupt company which supposedly owns the iPad name is now suing Apple in California.  The company is still embroiled in a battle in mainland China, but no decision has been made there.   Proview is now accusing Apple of using deceptive practices in their purchase of the iPad name, thereby denying Proview fair value on the name. In China, Proview is denying the name was sold for mainland China operations.

Source: Reuters

Ron Wayne, Apple Co-Founder, Writes About Leaving Apple After 12 Days

Ron Wayne is probably the least well known Apple, Inc. Co-Founder of the three men who created the now behemoth company.   He had a 10% stake in the young company at it’s founding, however, he left the company, selling his stake for a total of $2300.   The media has reported that he lost potentially billions of dollars in his leaving, however, he does not see it that way.  According to Ron, “I didn’t lose out on billions of dollars. That’s a long stretch between 1976 and 2012. Apple went through a lot of hard times and many thought Apple would simply go out of business at various times in its maturity. I perhaps lost tens of millions of dollars.

The writing offers some good insight into what was going through his head at the time and the reality of the world in which Apple was created.  While the company is worth Billions today, there was a time where the company was nearly sold and several more times where it was nearly bankrupt.

You can read the rest of the posting by Ron on his facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/RonGWayne/posts/370073493010333

Apple iTunes App Store Downloads at 450 million to go until 25 Billion

The Apple iTunes App Store, long a point of pride with Apple is now reaching the 25 billion App download mark since it’s inception.  For one lucky user, that 25 Billion mark equals $10,000 USD in downloads from the store as a reward for downloading the 25 billionth download.  For the rest of the users, it just means that we love our iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad enough to keep downloading apps at a high rate and as the number of iPads is likely to increase come March, the next 25 billion downloads will take even less time than the first since there will likely be nearly nearly 500 million iOS machines in use.

For more about the Apple celebration of the milestone, check out the counter page at:

http://www.apple.com/itunes/25-billion-app-countdown/

Apple Tells Proview to Shut their Mouths or Face the Wrath

Apple’s lawyers in China have submitted a letter to Proview to essentially tell them to quit making remarks to the media.  The letter claims that the comments that Proview CEO Yang Rongshan is making in public run contrary to the actual ruling in the case and also are falsifications of the facts.  The letter is stating that Apple “formally reserve all rights to take further legal action against any individuals and tentities fort any damages that may result from defamoatory statements and unlawful actions intended to wrongfully interfere with Apple’s business and business relationships.”

Obviously Proview can do great damage to Apple in China through this case, but if they lose, there could be serious repercussions for Yang and his people.   This is especially true since there is evidence which was submitted by Apple yesterday, showing emails in the Proview legal staff’s on hand that the sale had gone through and was for mainland China.

You can view the entire letter in both Chinese and English on the DOCSTOC website at:

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/113878230/Apple_proview

Source:  All Things Digital

Bytes From The Apple — Is Proview Black Mailing Apple over Name

The trademark dispute in China between Proview, a bankrupt supposed owner of the iPad name and Apple, the known manufacturer of the iPad, is now widening to a point where Apple is being black mailed for 2 Billion USD by Proview.  While Apple purchased the rights to the name several years ago, Proview is now arguing that that sale did not cover mainland China where the iPad is made.

Apple was initially being asked for 1.6 Billion in addition to the 55,000 USD it paid to the Hong Kong office of Proview when it purchased the name.  The purchase of the name in 2009 should have ended any challenges to the Apple ownership of the iPad name.  Hong Kong courts agreed with Apple on this accord.  However,   China, long known for its blatant copying of the worlds goods, now also seems to have a court system now where it is acceptable to use black mail and under handedness to take money from western companies. The chinese courts over ruled the Hong Kong courts and is saying Proview owns the name.   It is sad that Proview is just the latest example of this type of underhandedness.  The company is by all rights, bankrupt.  The sold the name when they were trying to get rid of assets for cash.  Now they are seeing dollar signs and thinking Apple is going to buy them out again.  If this court case is allowed to proceed in addition to the seizure of iPads prior to a conclusion of the court case and appeals especially in local areas in China, then no company will ever be safe in the Chinese market.

In China, it also seems to be the norm to attempt to file the iPhone and iPad name for other products not related to anything in the technology field, with companies filing the claims saying that the names are not well known in China. This includes everything from clothing items to food product.   This in essence a total scam of the system, with the Chinese courts and local governments in cohorts with the companies, all to garner money from the world’s most famous and most valuable brand.  This is the type of activity western companies have long feared about doing business in China.  While everything on the surface seems to be copacetic, scammers in the country will try anything to get money out of a system that they have no real part in or any real business in.

If the Chinese courts don’t wake up and realize their mistakes, correcting the illicit activity with the copyrights and trademarks in the country as well as respecting international trade deals,  they could well find that Apple will no longer be manufacturing there.  At this point, other countries such as Brazil and Malaysia hold a much more appetizing state where the cost of building goods, also is not nearly as costly or as ridiculous as China has become recently.  Another thing that China needs to realize is that they are only an assembly plant and that a good majority of the actual technologies and items put into the iPad are are made in other countries, putting China in a very vulnerable position.  The stand to lose a trillion dollar conglomerates business to greed and stupidity.

Sources: Washington PostIBN Live, Wall Street Journal

An A.P.P.L.E. Review: AirServer — Play Videos from iPad to TV

  • Program:   AirServer Mac
  • Cost:          $7.99
  • Platform:  Mac OS X 10.7.3
  • System:     Mac Mini
  • URL:          http://www.airserverapp.com

This month’s review is one of the more useful utilities we have found in a while.  Not exactly new or the latest and greatest, however, the App does what it claims to do and we figured this one deserved a closer look.

Over the past two months, we have used a number of devices trying to emulate the capabilities of AirPlay to Apple TV.  Nothing really worked and even this app falls just a touch short of our inflated expectations when dealing with this type of equipment.   AirServer allows you to play non DRM videos directly from your iPad or iPhone running iOS 5.x to your TV.  The app is rather simple to use and even allows re-broadcast of a video.  The only real requirement is that all of the devices be on the same wireless network.

So we set everything to our internal Call-A.P.P.L.E. network and were pleasantly surprised.  Football videos we shot earlier in the fall of 2011 played full screen on our Toshiba TV.  While other videos such as ripped videos played in the screen at the scale they were recorded at. The AirServer icon appeared in our utility bar of the video when we started it, and played the video to the TV with a less than ten second delay from the moment we selected the output device.

The cost of the app at $7.99 is more than a lot of apps, but in relation to hardware devices that work nearly the exact same way for 10 times the price, we were actually happy with the quality we got with this app.

But of course, when you are riding a high of seeing things work as advertised, you then get to the only disappointment, not the Apps’ fault though.  The DRM videos purchased from iTunes started up and then ended just as quickly.   Apple obviously does not want users to use the Mac Mini as an Apple TV so they prevent any movies from starting up under such applications.  I guess I am with the hoards of users who are waiting patiently for Apple to change that so that we can truly use our Mac Minis as living room entertainment systems.

For those users who are thinking they will check the App store, don’t bother.  AppServer isn’t available there.  The AirServer App is only available from the website and can be purchased via the website using Paypal.  However, the system is set up so that the App is immediately available after purchasing the App.  Verification of the purchase is performed within the App via the website.

While the lack of play of Apple Fair Play videos is a bit of a show stopper, it is not the end of the world.  We did like the fact that Mac OS X Lion was not an issue, nor was iOS 5.x as is the case with many such applications.  The AirServer App itself was updated in November 2011 with Version 3.2 of the App.  With the potential being there for another upgrade, we are sure that we will see more good stuff out of this App in the future.

In the meantime, back to watching game film from last season and preparing for another one.

Rating: 4 of 5 Apples

TV tuner and a DIY antenna

It’s going to take a while to get to the computer related material in this article. Please be patient.

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been curious about the world around me. I was the type of kid who wanted to see what was on the next block or figure out how dolls were made (yes I took them apart and put them back together again). The only time I got into trouble for it was when a big kid thought he was doing the neighbourhood parents a favour and told us little kids not to go near the river because there was a big monster there. We wouldn’t have gone there anyhow but we really wanted to see that monster. We were so disappointed we told our parents. I didn’t see why they were so upset. We made sure not to go near the river. We stayed a whole six inches away from the water. ;-)

Later I wanted to figure out as much as I could about radio and TV. I used to lay awake for a couple of hours per night listening to short wave and AM just to see how far away the stations I could pick up were. As I recall, the name of the hobby was called DXing. I was able to get stations from South Africa and Moscow on short wave and as far south as the American gulf coast on AM. Now all I can get on short wave is Radio Cuba and American religious stations. TV was similar. When I wanted to see what was available over the air we only had three Canadian stations and one American station. With the switch to digital (many years later) I found we had six Canadian stations and (depending on location) one American station. Actually we have cable in the house and I am satisfied with it. It’s just that I’m still curious about what I can get locally.

I mentioned this to a friend at a local computer club and he suggested I connect my cheap LCD TV to an external antenna. I had previously connected it to our old VHF antenna and was pulling in five of the six Canadian channels. The American channel was a lost cause. He pointed me to the “coat hanger” antenna plans at Make magazine (it’s a DIY magazine like popular mechanics used to be). After reading the description I found it to be a UHF antenna. This was fine for me since four of the local stations were now on UHF (including the one I couldn’t get earlier). The other two Canadian stations and the American station were on VHF-High. I built the antenna and had some interesting observations. In the basement I was able to get two stations. That makes sense because UHF frequencies are basically line of sight. On the ground floor of a house covered in stucco (which filters out some signals) I was able to get all four UHF stations (including the one I couldn’t get before) and one of the VHF stations. The quality of the signal also improved since there were less “drop outs”. After a bit of research I found line of sight improves as the height of the antenna increases.

Not being satisfied I did a bit more research. First off, TVfool.com (a list of TV signals theoretically available in a given area) showed there were additional stations just beyond the horizon. On a good day before the digital conversion we used to be able to pick up two of them when the signals bounced off the troposphere. Apparently there are another three or four more in the area. Then there was video of one guy who lives slightly North of me being able to pick up Minnesota stations. This was a shock because North Dakota is directly to our South and much closer. It was about that time when I discovered plans for the Grey-Hoverman antenna (released under the GPL3). Apparently this antenna is so sensitive it puts the coat hanger antenna to shame.

While I was out shopping for material to build the new antenna I was talking with a sales person and a TV engineer I met at an auto supply place. They both decided to give it a try themselves earlier than I had. One of them was using a TV tuner card on their PC with the four inch antenna that came included in the box. The other guy had an expensive TV with a cheap commercial antenna (he was opposed to cable and satellite TV on principal). Their experiences were strange. Apparently neither were satisfied with expensive commercial antennas and found the cheap ones were just as good if not better for their needs. Both were able to pick up all the stations in town as well as the American channel. I told them what I was looking to do and I was looking to spend $10.00. They said for that price it was worth giving it a try.

At the moment the build for the Grey-Hoverman antenna is stalled due to a cold.

Here is the computer related part. Another computer club was looking for a presentation last month. I figured since I had the coat hanger antenna we could look at a TV tuner card. A member of the club has a friend who works at a local computer store and he asked me if he could help. I suggested he see if he could borrow a cheap $50.00 digital tuner card. The store loaned us the top of the line $250.00 card for the meeting (Thank you MyMacDealer for the free loan). On the day of the meeting I realised the building was of a cinder block and rebar type construction. It also had lots of steel heating ducts and such. Essentially this meant it was worse than my house for getting signals. Plus we were also meeting in a room smack dab in the center of the basement. The package didn’t come with the four inch antenna I anticipated. It didn’t come with any antenna at all. I had my doubts it would work. Without an antenna there was no signal at all. With the coat hanger antenna it brought in one strong and one weak signal. Much better than expected. I showed the plans for the coat hanger antenna to an engineer as well as a city technologist. They thought the design was very ingenious. A couple twists here and there introduced some noise cancellation features. According to what they said the coat hanger antenna performed much better than expected.

Once I build and test the Grey-Hoverman antenna I’ll approach the other group and see if they want to do a live demonstration of Myth-TV. This way they can test the two antennas side by side. They will be using a different tuner card. The one for the Mac had a single tuner and connected to the USB port. The one these guys use has two tuners and is an internal PC card. The cost of this particular card is about $150.00. Boiled down to the nitty gritty… The TV tuner cards work. If it doesn’t then return it and try a different model.

Some DIY stuff… The construction method I used with the coat hanger antenna was pretty shoddy. Further reading suggests it is really hard to go wrong with this one. Just make sure the wires are not touching when the connecting elements cross (insulated wire is a good choice here). The coat hangers should be scuffed so as to remove any paint and rust so they can come in contact with the connecting elements.

For the Grey-Hovermann antenna it is best to build a jig for bending the wires to the correct angle and cutting them to the correct length.

If anyone is looking for increased sensitivity and distance, connecting two identical antennas together will work. However anything more than a dual bay (two antennas) results in diminishing returns and isn’t worth the effort.

It is possible to angle both antennas in a dual bay differently. However if they are at a 90 degree angle the signals cancel out.

Reflectors can increase the sensitivity up to 30% but turn the antenna into a directional antenna.

Using wood as a mounting material means the antenna is designed for indoor purposes only. Outdoor antennas are typically mounted to PVC or insulated metal.

Outdoor antennas need to be grounded.

For the most part for a basic antenna, scrap material can be used for minimal cost. Using better quality materials and better construction methods will improve the output somewhat.

As a radio tech friend once told me. “All you need to get a signal is a long enough piece of wire. Anything else is just getting fancy.”

AAPL: Apple Shares Drop Like a Rock After Reaching Record Highs

After multiple days of reaching record highs, Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares have plummeted back nearly 35 points from the high of $526.29 USD per share mark it reached mid-day yesterday.  The shares are currently trading at $492.20 USD per share or down $5.47 from yesterdays close.   While no major factors are driving the fall out side of profit taking, this could be a bit of a I told you so moment for the one analyst on wall street who has Apple as a sell, Edward Zabitsky.  However, he is a lone voice at this point with most analysts having the stock as a strong buy.

Apple Unveils Mac OS X Mountain Lion Preview

Apple Inc. is giving users a bit of an advanced look at what the next version of Mac OS X will look like.  The Mac OS X Mountain Lion Website gives a few hints and also allows members of the developers program to download beta versions of the OS.  The Developers Program login requires membership in Apple’s Developers Program, a paid service of Apple Inc.

The latest version of the Mac OS X Family will include a closer integration of communications between apps and machines and promises to work much more like the iPad in respect to the flow of the programs.  iCloud is an integral part of Apple’s plans with Mac OS X Mountain Lion, currently listed as Mac OS X 10.8.

The release of the Messages App today is another way Apple is enticing users to get on board with the app prior to it’s release sometime later this summer, likely in time for the annual developers conference in Muscone Center.

http://www.apple.com/macosx/mountain-lion/