Particle Debris (wk. ending 8/13) Star Trek’s iPad & iPhone Hidden Features

I’ve written before about the connection between electronic clipboards and the Personal Access Display Device (PADD) used in Star Trek and Apple’s iPad. Here’s the most complete story I’ve seen on the parallels between them, including extensive comments by Michael Okuda and Doug Drexler, prop specialist who devised the early devices used in the Star Trek TV shows and movies. Great reading for iPad fans: “How Star Trek artists imagined the iPad… 23 years ago,” by Chris Foresman. Includes some cool pics.

Reader “WestCoastBob” sent me a reference to this very extensive article on all the apps that are installed on the iPad that is installed in the iCub light aircraft. If you’re into flying, you want to check it out.



For those who may want to engage in a bit more speculation about the departure of Mark Papermaster from Apple, The Wall Street Journal had some additional details on his apparent falling out with Steve Jobs. However, the WSJ didn’t claim that iPhone antenna problems were the sole reason. Rather personality conflicts may have been brewing long before the iPhone 4 was released, and antennagate may have simply been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The WSJ explains in “IPhone Executive Is Out At Apple.” (As a side note, I find it interesting that journalism style finds it more important to start a headline with a capital letter than to keep the product name intact.)

One of the things I paid a lot of attention to when I was a science and technology marketing manager at Apple was 2D/3D CAD programs. This item didn’t make the cut for general news, but I wanted to point point out that Graebert GmbH, of Germany has shipped its ARES Commander Edition 1.0 for Mac. A Linux and Windows version is also available, and that makes this CAD program the first to run natively on all three platforms.

TMO noted today that Bernstein Research’s Toni Sacconaghi has once again elected to Beat a Dead Horse by suggesting that Apple engage in a stock buyback as well as pay dividends. It just isn’t going to happen, explains, Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt in “Why Steve Jobs doesn’t pay dividends.” But what I found interesting was the associated chart showing the distribution of Apple’s Cash, Short term investments and long term investments. It looks to my untrained eye that Apple converted a lot of cash starting in Q408 into, presumably bargain priced stocks and reaped the rewards. When you have billions of dollars to play with, if you’re shrewd, you can earn some serious money.

David Pogue has posted an article, “Three Unknown Features of the iPhone 4,” and one of them is very intriguing, namely the Unified Contacts feature. It seems to be worth looking into in more detail. The other little know features include FaceTime tricks and Spoken Books in which iBooks will read books and PDF documents out loud.

A year ago, the Android OS had 4 percent of the smartphone market share. A year later, it’s up to 34 percent and has surpassed RIM’s 33 percent. Here’s the chart and analysis by Mark Walsh at Online Media Daily. Apple has some serious competition now, especially with the announcement by Google of Voice Actions.

Finally, we’ve seen a smattering of stories in the past before about Steve Jobs’s license plateless Mercedes Benz SL55. Here’s a good background piece at Gizmodo by Bryan Gardiner with lots of additional juicy tidbits about Mr. Jobs reluctance to display a California license plate on his car. And how he’s gotten away with it.

Jobs's SL55

Mr Jobs’s SL55, Credit: Gizmodo