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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Macworld 2011 'celebration' showcased new products

Jan. 31, 2011
by Mark Ollig

It started back in 1985.

It presents innovative, cutting-edge software, hardware, and accessories for your Apple computing devices.

It is an opportunity to learn from the actual programmers and developers who design and produce these accessories and products.

The “It” is the annual Apple convention, Macworld Conference and Expo.

Every year since its beginning, the Macworld Conference and Expo event has been the ultimate showcase for third-party businesses and developers which create and manufacture new add-ons, apps, and devices designed to work with Apple’s computing products.

This year’s 2011 Macworld Conference took take place Jan. 26 - 29 and the Macworld Expo portion was Jan. 27–29. Both events were at the Moscone Center’s West Hall in San Francisco.

These combined events are considered to be a ‘celebration’ which is intended to educate, as well as entertain the people attending.

The number of visitors expected at this year’s Macworld Conference and Expo was estimated at 25,000.

The number of vender exhibits was said to be 230.

More than 100 new products were expected to be presented.

Last Wednesday,the Macworld Industry Forum conferences featuring 11 speakers, including Apple programming legend, Bill Atkinson.

As part of the original Apple Macintosh developers group, Atkinson created the revolutionary MacPaint application, and was the designer for Apple’s QuickDraw graphics library used in the early Macintosh computers.

Mr. Atkinson spoke about how humans interfaced or communicated with computers.

Atkinson talked of how earlier human user interfaces (UIs) ranged from using punched paper cards, teletype machines, and video terminals.

He spoke of the Apple II, along with Apple’s Lisa and Mac computers point-and-click graphical user interfaces.

Atkinson covered UIs such as the early touch screens, modern capacitive multi-touch sensors, and virtual keyboards.

He also talked about how the computer UI will eventually become “a conversational user interface with a personal assistant avatar.”

He predicted that in the future, we will interface with computing technology using natural language, and, eventually, the human-computer interface will become more of a two-way interactive conversation.

Atkinson wrote, “The center of the conversational user interface will become the personal assistant avatar.”

Colin Crawford, CEO of Media7, spoke on how magazine publishers can use the iPad as a venue for their content because of its “rich media experience.”

Crawford’s statement reinforces my belief about the current iPad being more of a media content consumption device rather then a content creation device.

Last Thursday, during the entertainment segment at Macworld 2011, actor, comedian, and, per the Macworld Expo website, “long-time supporter of Macworld,” Sinbad, shared his perspectives on all things Mac.

Looking back, Macworld events have been used as the platform for making major product announcements from Apple – and there have been many.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

In 1998, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iMac and the PowerBook G3.

The 2001 announcement was the introduction of iTunes and the PowerBook G4.

The Safari web browser and 12-inch display PowerBook were presented to the public in 2003.

In 2004, Apple’s vice-president of marketing introduced the newly-updated iMac, featuring the PowerPC G5 processor.

The presentations in 2005 included the launch of the Mac Mini, iPod shuffle, and an office software suite of applications called iWork.

In 2006, Intel’s Core Duo-based processors in the new iMac computers running with the Mac operating system 10 (OS X) were announced by Jobs.

At the 2007 Macworld Expo, Jobs introduced the now popular iPhone.

In 2008, Jobs introduced the MacBook Air — advertised as the world’s thinnest notebook computer.

Two announcements occurred during the 2009 Macworld event. One was the Apple’s introduction of new 17-inch unibody MacBook Pro portable notebook computer.The other was a surprise announcement by Apple Inc., stating this would be the last year in which the company would actively participate at Macworld.

Some clarification about Macworld is needed here.

The Macworld online and print magazine is published by Mac Publishing.

Mac Publishing is a separate company from the one which specifically oversees the Macworld Expo event – IDG World Expo. They do, however, happen to share in the Macworld brand name.

The corporate parent to both is called IDG (International Data Group).

A rumor circling the Macworld blogospheres says there will be a new iMac coming out in March equipped with the Intel “Sandy Bridge” processor.

I noted one Apple advertisement on its website suggesting, “Once you go Mac, you never go back.”

Will this humble, Windows PC user ever make the switch to a Mac?

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Well, this particular old dog is not quite ready to roll over and make the switch to a Mac – not just yet, even though my oldest son keeps trying to convince me to do so.

However, the 17-inch MacBook Pro notebook computer does look very tempting.

The home website for the Macworld Expo/Conference is located at

The Macworld online magazine can be seen at

Friday, January 21, 2011

Internet URL address-shortening services are useful

January 24, 2011
by Mark Ollig

All of us have seen those lengthy Uniform Resource Locator (URL) Internet address links in an e-mail, blog, social network, or online chat room.

Copying and pasting these long-drawn-out links unquestionably takes up a lot space.

Accurately typing or writing out a long URL address on paper is sometimes frustrating.

Back in the day (is this becoming an overly used phrase lately?), there was not much one could do about it. When a long URL address link was sent in an e-mail, sometimes it would automatically be abbreviated, causing missing characters and resulting in a broken and completely useless link.

The person you sent the link to ends up e-mailing you back saying, “Your link didn’t work for me.”


One of the first URL address- shortening sites I found out about was back in 2002, and it is one I still use to this day.

The company is called TinyURL, and is located at – yes, you guessed it –

The shortened URL address link uses a “URL 301 Redirection” mapping technique which forwards the newly created shortened link to the lengthier original URL address.

Specifically, a URL address shortener is an online application which allows the sender to enter a full URL address for any specific web page, click a button, and have the URL shortening service automatically abbreviate the lengthy URL address to a shortened domain name, which uses a unique shortened character code. When the recipient clicks on this shortened link, they are redirected to the original URL address – the same as if they had entered or clicked on the original lengthy URL link.

I have the extension application on my browsers toolbar.

When I come across a web page I want to forward to someone, I can just click the tinyurl browser tool and have the long URL address automatically changed to a shorter URL address.

During the time yours truly has been writing this column, I have frequently provided shortened URL’s in order to save space and word count.

The shorter URL address is also easier to write down and is simpler to cut and paste when online or in a word document.

Each newly created shortened URL address is unique and randomly generated.

Posting shortened URL address links on my Twitter account is essential, especially with the limited number of characters (and spaces) allowed on Twitter (140).

In 2002, TinyURL acquired a company providing URL address shortening services called, Make a Shorter Link (MASL).

MASL went online in 2001, and was started by Giles Turnbull. The software coding was created and maintained by Matthew Hunt.

For each URL address shortened, there is a unique “key character se”’ created after the top-level domain (tld) name. In this example, “,” the unique key character set “5ttqhca” is used.

If there are concerns about sending a nondescriptive shortened link, the site provides the option to send the link with the word “preview” added in order to provide the receiver with some assurances before they are redirected to the actual URL address site.

This preview link will disclose the full URL address name to the recipient, and provide for them the choice of whether to click and proceed to it or not.

An example would be:

On some web browsers, such as Firefox, you can install a shortened URL source extension application. When you hover over a shortened URL link, the full URL address will appear, thus giving you assurances about its actual destination.

In 2009, Google came out with its URL address-shortening site located at:

As with most URL address shortening services, Google’s URL mappings are unchangeable once you have created them.

If you are signed into via your Google account, the short URL to long URL links you created are stored in your short URL link history.

A new URL address-shortening website located at: went online in New York in 2009.

Twitter had been using for shortening longer URL’s, but recently they switched to recently took away from its previous ranking as the number-one URL address-shortening site.

The list of URL address- shortening services out there on the Internet keeps growing; the last count shows over 300 of them.

One list can be found at:

Most of these address link shortening services are free – nearly all ask for donations.

Many also offer “enhanced” URL address link shortening services you can pay for which provide additional features.

And for all my Polish speaking relatives out there, here is a URL address-shortening service from Poland:

MiƂego dnia!

Next time you have a lengthy URL address you want to forward, such as: “” simply go to a URL shortening site and convert it to something more manageable like: “” in its place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CES 2011 does not disappoint its largest turnout

January 17, 2011
by Mark Ollig

The closing of the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) ended four days of bliss for the many tech geeks in attendance, and for those of us watching online.

Live streaming video feeds were broadcast from numerous webcasters direct from the CES.

With nearly 2 million square feet of space being used, an estimated 140,000 people participated at this year’s CES.

Of this total, 30,000 came from outside the US.

To nobody’s surprise, tablet computing devices were found in abundance at this years show along with many other high-tech goodies.

Once again, 3D TV’s made news at CES.

These were not the “revolutionary” 3D televisions seen at last year’s CES; they were more “evolutionary.”

New “passive polarized” 3D technology TVs were shown by three companies: Visio, LG, and Toshiba.

Passive 3D TVs possess the ability to present high-quality theater 3D viewing using lightweight and less expensive passive polarized 3D glasses which do not require a power source.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer said, “. . . many people find passive polarized to be more comfortable. The weight of the glasses is better; it works better over (eye) glasses. It seems to provide a really comfortable long viewing experience.”

The other surprise in 3D demonstrated by Sony was their “glasses-free” autostereoscopic organic light emitting diode (OLED) 3D TV.

To see the 3D effect, you must stand in a specific location in front of the TV to correctly receive the light images being directed to your eyes.

In fact, black foot prints were painted on the floor in front of the Sony OLED 3D TV where you needed to stand.

The people who viewed it said they did see the full 3D effect, without having to wear 3D glasses.

The autostereoscopic 3D display screen works by sending two images to the right and the left eye by way of rays of light at different angles. Our brain connects this and creates the illusion of the 3D images we see without wearing 3D glasses.

There is not much 3D video content out there yet, but movie makers and game developers are beginning to create more.

Any one of us will be able to create our own 3D content using the new 3D camcorders Sony, JVC, and Panasonic are coming out with.

JVC’s 3D camcorder shown at the CES is called the Everio GS-TD1.

This camcorder has two sensors which capture 1080i 3D video. It contains an internal flash storage of 64GB and a 5X optical zoom.

The camcorder uses 4 to 8GB per hour while filming.

This is a full high definition (HD) camcorder and includes a 3D flat panel view finder.

The JVC Everio GS-TD1 camcorder includes 3D editing software and will be available for us in March at an estimated cost of $2,000.

Consumer 3D technology is still in its infancy, but I look for this medium to become more commonly used in the future.

Outdoors at the CES parking lot, General Motors demonstrated their futuristic autonomous vehicles.

These two-seat, self-enclosed electric urban transportation concept vehicles can travel about 25 miles in-between charges at a top speed of 30 mph.

This concept vehicle is called the EN-V, which stands for Electric Networked Vehicle.

These vehicles are built to communicate with other EN-Vs while traveling, in order to better manage the flow of traffic between them.

Folks were given rides in working red and blue EN-Vs while representatives of GM answered questions.

To see the GM EN-V in action at the 2011 CES, go to

Ford Motor Company took the wraps off their new 2012 all-electric Ford Focus automobile during the 2011 CES.

The 2012 Focus uses a 23 kilowatt-hour liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack and has a top speed of 84 mph.

Recharging time from a 240-volt source is three to four hours.

Best Buy stores have been authorized by Ford to install the 240-volt charging stations for owners of the Ford Focus electric car.

The vehicles traveling distance has not yet been officially made known, however, one Ford spokesperson at the CES said it was about 100 miles.

To see the details of the 2012 Ford Focus Electric automobile, go to the Ford web page,

The CES not only showcases larger company’s new product concepts, but also smaller independent inventor’s creations, as well.

Being this columnist is pretty much of an independent sort, I would like to devote some liquid (and virtual) ink to an inventor who came to CES with a unique product.

Her name is Nancy Tedeschi, and she came up with a practical new method for permanently attaching small screws to optical eyeglass frames and brought it to CES looking for dealers and distributors.

Her company is called “Snapit.”

To see how the product is used, watch the video at

Their website is

The 2011 CES “Best in Show” award went to Motorola, for their new Xoom 10.1-inch personal computing tablet, which will be released to the public later this year.

Even as the 2011 CES was ending, a few live video streams were still broadcasting.

In one stream, I watched a small group of people aimlessly walking around the showroom floors.

Venders were tearing down their booths and talking amongst themselves.

A few people stood in one place – gazing at the emptying booths – appearing not wanting to leave.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

44th Consumer Electronics Show takes place in Las Vegas

January 10, 2011
by Mark Ollig

In what has become the annual “Gadget Mania” main event for tech enthusiasts, the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is taking place as this column goes to press.

The CES started Jan. 6 and ended Jan. 9.

This year’s CES expected an estimated 130,000 industry professionals, who would be looking over some 2,700 individually showcased high-tech companys exhibits and computing wares.

The CES is not open to the general public and so, most of these companies and developers use the CES as the platform to showcase their new products to the press and media.

Those attending the trade show must be in the consumer electronics industry or invited members of the press and media.

Last year’s popular CES gadgets included 3D televisions and electronic book readers, or e-readers.

What gadget will dominate this year?

Well, with the popularity of Apple’s iPad, it should come as no surprise to all of us that smart flat-screened tablet computing devices will be seen on just about every other manufacturer’s exhibit table.

If you have ever attended an industry trade show convention, you will no doubt recall listening to the exhibit presenters (acting more as carnival barkers) doing their best to sway passers-by to come over to their booth and check out their wares.

They would even offer a free gift to put in your bag.

I can just hear those enthusiastic techie carnival barkers at the CES now.

“Step right up, ladies and gentleman! See our latest and greatest high-tech, game-changing computing tablet devices that’ll knock the socks off that old Apple iPad!”

By the way, over 14 million Apple iPads were sold in 2010, so it’s not much of a surprise manufacturers are jumping on the computing tablet bandwagon.

One such manufacturer, Motorola was scheduled to present their new computing tablet device at the CES.

This new tablet is said to feature video chat capabilities and a dual core 3D processor. Its operating system will be Google’s new Android version 2.4, which is called “Honeycomb.”

Research In Motion is another company introducing a new computing tablet device.

It is called the “BlackBerry Playbook.”

While the iPad supports a 9.7-inch display screen, the BlackBerry Playbook uses a smaller, 7-inch screen.

The BlackBerry Playbook uses 1GB of RAM – which is more than the iPad’s 256MB of installed RAM.

The BlackBerry Playbook produces high definition video in 1080p, and features support for Adobe Flash, front and rear-facing cameras, and face-to-face video chat.

High Definition television maker Vizio is also introducing a mobile computing device called the “Via Tablet,” which includes an 8-inch multi-touch screen.

Vizio is partnering with a company called OnLive, which is a cloud-based gaming system provider. Vizio will incorporate OnLive’s gaming service into their new Via Tablet.

Technology company Asustek Computer, which is known for its notebook and netbook computers, plans to introduce their new “E Slate E121” tablet computing device at CES.

The E Slate E121 is equipped with a 12-inch touch screen and has an Intel Core i5 processor running with the Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system.

It is rumored Asustek may reveal another computing tablet model at the CES.

Asustek also introduced a new gadget at the CES which allows you to operate your personal computer by using controlled hand gestures and body motions.

So, not only can we talk to our computers, we can browse through the Internet and maneuver around applications by using hand and body movements.

I sense some of my readers might find this way of interacting with their computer a bit comical.

This new gadget by Asustek is expected to be released to the general public later this year.

Lenovo is another computing developer and manufacturer which is set to introduce a consumer tablet computing device at this year’s CES.

Lenovo’s computing tablet is called the “LePad” and is reported to use the Google Android operating system.

MicroVision also demonstrated their “Mini-Tablet” at the CES, with an embedded “Pico projector,” which can display widescreen images of up to 100 diagonal inches.

My readers may remember the Bits & Bytes column from Nov. 5, 2007, where the topic of Pico projectors was discussed.

Other computing tablets also make their first public appearances at the 2011 CES.

Apple’s next iPad device is smartly called the “iPad 2,” and is expected to be released this April.

Famous celebrities attended the 2011 CES, including CNN’s talk-show host Larry King.

Two-time NBA Champion and NBA All-Star, Bill Walton, was also at the CES and signed autographs.

Celebrating their 40th year together, the popular musical group “Earth, Wind & Fire” also at the CES this year and performed live.

Be sure to read next week’s Bits & Bytes, as your ever-diligent columnist reviews in greater detail, the entertaining highs (and lows) of the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show.