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Playing with the Apple PowerMac backlight

June 23rd, 2006
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An article in arstechnica.com teaches how to use the backlight of the keyboard in the powerbook as a CPU load monitor. The code is simple, and you try to have some fun with your mac.

According to the page:

It took some trial and error to get the numbers from the CPU usage to correspond properly with the number needed to set the brightness of the backlight. What I did find is that the function host_processor_info is not granular enough to give accurate readings under a second. My keyboard was flashing when the update time was 0.1 seconds. I might try to look to see if there is a better what to get the numbers I want.

I also want to make the brightness fade instead of jump like the program does now. It should be relatively easy to do: Amit showed how in Figure 6 of his article. I want to tinker with the range of the brightness of the keyboard as well, to make it a little more obvious. Another idea I had was to change how bright the min and max were depending on the readings of the Ambient Light Sensors: brighter during high light levels, and lower during less.

Link

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Best buy test for selling Apple computers

June 21st, 2006
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Best Buy, one of the largest computer retail stores in the country, has confirmed that they are doing tests in a few stores with Apple computers. The program is being watched closely by both Apple and Best Buy.

Apple computers are at the moment sold mainly on Apple own stores. The major issue at Apple is to require a high level of customer support from Best Buys employees. They want to guarantee that customer will have a level of service similar to service at Apple stores.

Such a move would be very good for Apple, since Best Buy is the largest showcase of technology products in the country. Selling the Mac on Best Buy would certainly increase awareness of the company computers among more traditional buyers.

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Apple to offer movie downloads

June 20th, 2006
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It is still not confirmed, but most news sites are talking about the possibility of Apple providing movie downloads through their iTunes store. Apparently, Apple is in talk with several major Hollywood studies in order to cut a deal that would allow them to distribute movies using this distribution channel.

Although it is not clear if this is will happen not, it seams cleat that this is the next logical step for the iTunes service. Starting from the offer of music files, iTunes has grown to one of the most popular Internet based music systems. Similar success has happened with short videos, which was made possible by the introduction of the new iPod video.

What makes me wonder: would this new interest in Hollywood movies have been spurred by new capabilities of the iPod player? It is well possible that Steve Jobs is preparing a major upgrade, maybe with larger screen and better control system, and wants to make this available with the ultimate content for video players: access to the latest blockbusters. Maybe we will know sooner than we think.

Link by Daily Variety.

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Google releases new SketchUp: a new second life?

April 27th, 2006
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A few weeks ago, Google announced it was buying a small company called @Last Software. The main product of this company, a 3D modeler system called SketchUp, is now being released to the public by Google.

SketchUp allow users to create powerful 3D models for designing or just recreative purposes. It allows the composition of 3D models from simple primitives. And the more interesting feature is: you can upload 3D models to Google earth, and allow others to visualize your creation.

In a sense, Google earth is getting a little closer to what games such as second life already do: creating virtual worlds, and allowing people to visit your creations instantaneously.

To get a better picture of what is going on, download SketchUp, it is freely available. If you’re more adventurous, get a license for the Pro Version and start building a commercial world!

Link from Google Blog

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A preview of Leopard

April 26th, 2006
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Microsoft cannot release its operating system on time, but Apple is always beating the clock in this area: Leopard is now close to completion, and early views of the systems are starting to be schedule.

If you want to see personally the new features of the new incarnation of Mac OS X, you should consider to be part of the next Worldwide Developers Conference 2006, promoted by Apple. According to the company:

With more than 120 sessions planned across five technology tracks, WWDC 2006 will cover the full spectrum of Mac technology. In each track you’ll find practical sessions, delivered by Apple engineers, that show how to take advantage of current technologies in Tiger, and how to get ready for what’s coming in Leopard. The five session tracks are:

Application Technologies
Graphics and Media
Development Tools
OS Foundations
Information Technologies

It looks a great opportunity to see the future of the Mac operating system.

Link

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