Controversy surfaces over Kagi’s VisualHub updater

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Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011, 11:41
Category: News, Software

There’s good news and bad news.

The good news: VisualHub, a beloved video converter utility that exported to roughly nine zillion formats but was discontinued in 2008, has been updated with support from the author.

The bad news: It apparently wasn’t updated in a way that the author, Tyler Loch, approved of. Per Macworld, Kagi, a popular payment processor for independent software developers, recently began selling a US$5 Lion-compatibility patch for the discontinued-in-2008 VisualHub video converter that Loch stated he didn’t authorize—and isn’t getting paid for. Kagi has taken steps to defend the move, arguing that it’s merely helping less tech-savvy customers that the developer abandoned.

Though Loch no longer offers support for VisualHub, Loch did post updated files and instructions for getting VisualHub to work under Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”).

After receiving complaints from customers about Lion compatibility, however, Kagi—VisualHub’s former payment processor—decided to offer its own vHub Updater for VisualHub patch for US$5, without informing Loch.

Per the article, representatives from Kagi explained that the US$5 updater Kagi now sells merely wraps the updates that Loch offers on his own site in a more usable interface. Loch’s instructions for updating VisualHub require copying a trio of AppleScript files into the app’s package contents; he also recommends installing an updated copy of the open source conversion utility ffmpeg.

The Kagi app “downloads his patches, and we also download the new ffmpeg,” installing all necessary files without additional user involvement. The updater avoids altering your original copy of VisualHub, instead creating a duplicate application called “VisualHub Lion.”

At this point, there’s a significant amount of back and forth between Loch and Kagi, representatives from Kagi stating that, with regard to the vHub Updater, “we would be pleased if Tyler was to release an updater that performs the function that our vHub Updater performs,” Nethery said. “His users deserve better than to be completely abandoned in 2008 and to be asked to be technical enough to edit an application package. We just want the customers to get the support they deserve.”

For his part, Loch pointed out that—though open-source forks of the code at the center of VisualHub exist—“VisualHub, as it exists in the world, is not. I gave no permission and had no prior knowledge of Kagi hosting, redistributing, and indirectly selling the components I wrote in [vHub Updater].”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to invest $1 billion in Sharp plant to produce iPhone, iPad LCD units

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Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011, 03:25
Category: iPad, Rumor

A rumor is percolating that Apple is planning to invest US$1 billion in a new Sharp factory for building screens for its iPhone and iPad products has resurfaced, just days after a separate report claimed that the next-generation iPad has been delayed in part because of production constraints from the supplier.

Per Reuters, MF Global analyst David Rubenstein resparked the rumor in a sales note to clients on Wednesday, giving shares of the Japanese company a lift of more than 2 percent.

“We think it is highly possible that Apple will make an investment in Sharp’s Kameyama plant to the tune of around $1 billion in order to secure stable supply of screens for iPhones and iPads,” he said, adding that Apple’s investment would have a “material impact on Sharp’s profitability.

Last December, Japanese business newspaper Nikkei claimed Apple would pay a “large portion” of the 100 billion yen (UD$1.3 billion) required to build a new LCD manufacturing facility and would buy “most” of the panels produced there. Production was said to begin at the plant in the later half of 2012.

On Monday, a rumor emerged that Sharp’s supply of 9.7-inch 2,048 by 1,536 resolution next-generation iPad displays are insufficient for an iPad 3 launch in 2011. It was noted that the high-resolution displays are “mainly supplied” by Sharp with a high price, and Apple’s other suppliers Samsung Electronics and LG Display are both “unable to reach a good yield.”

“Due to iPad 3’s requirements over the physical thinness, rich color support and toughness will all conflict with the panel’s technology restrictions; therefore, this could cause a delay in the launch,” the report said.

LCD displays have reportedly been a limiting factor for both the original iPad and the second-generation model.

Apple was also said to be helping Toshiba on a new LCD plant last year, but an official with the supplier claimed “nothing had been decided” regarding a new plant. In April, reports claimed Toshiba had become the sole manufacturer of LCDs for the iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent Apple patent shows move to build wireless antennas into Mac keyboards

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Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011, 03:46
Category: News, Patents

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The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted Apple a batch of 20 patents on Tuesday, including one for an invention that describes integrating wireless antennas into a keyboard.

Per AppleInsider, the filing entitled “Antennas for electronic devices,” describes “key antennas,” or radio-frequency transmitters mounted inside individual keys of a keyboard, for devices such as a laptop computer. Apple suggests that fitting a key with an antenna resonating element, such as a flex circuit containing a strip of conductor, a piece of stamped metal foil and a length of wire, could serve as an improved antenna design.

Possible advantages from the invention include a more pleasing appearance by avoiding protruding antennas and reduced risk of damage to the antenna. According to the application, the antenna would function better when the key was not being pressed because of an “increase in separation” between the antenna and the conductive housing of the device.

Apple also suggests that the key antenna could include an indicator light, such as the one found on the “caps lock” key.

One embodiment of the invention would utilize the keyboard to add wireless functionality to a non-wireless device by way of a wired connection. The keyboard could also be used to extend wireless capabilities of another device after being wirelessly coupled with it.

The invention lists Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as possible communications methods, though it also references the use of the patent with “other types of communications links,” such as GPS and 3G data.

Apple filed for the patent on Apr. 2, 2008. Chris Ligtenberg, Brett William Degner and Douglas Blake Kough are credited as the inventors.