Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Oct 2015 23:30 UTC

On October 12th, Microsoft began rolling out Windows 10 build 10565 to the Fast ring. The newly released build includes new changes and improvements on the Start menu, desktop environment, Cortana, brand new apps, including the Messaging, Phone, and Skype video apps. Also, there are new enhancements for the Microsoft Edge web browser and a lot more.

Microsoft really seems to finally be putting some weight behind its own applications, updating them more often, and releasing impactful Windows updates more regularly.

I'm far, far from complaining. Nice.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Oct 2015 20:38 UTC

It's been over three years since the very first Mac went Retina, and we're still waiting for every model to get the upgrade. But this year, the scales started to tip in Retina's favor. We got an all-new Retina MacBook in the spring, and today Apple is killing the 27-inch non-Retina iMac and introducing a new 4K model at the top of the 21.5-inch lineup.

The 4K iMac starts at $1,499 and does for the 21-inch iMac what the 5K version did for the 27-inch iMac a year ago: it gives it a Retina screen and leaves pretty much everything else alone. You do get a handful of nice internal upgrades, including Intel's Broadwell CPUs and GPUs, Thunderbolt 2 support, and faster storage and RAM (all also available on the refreshed non-Retina 21.5-inch iMacs). But for most intents and purposes, this thing is just a 2012-era iMac chassis with a nice sharp screen installed in place of the old 1080p display.

Believe it or not, but that $1500 base model? It comes with a 5400RPM hard drive. Unacceptable.

In any event, Apple also replaced its keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad. As a fan of Apple's current keyboard (I know I'm the only person who actually seems to really love it - it's the only keyboard I use, on my PC even), I'm excited about the new model because you can also use it wired. That said, it's a whopping €129 here, which is kind of insane.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Oct 2015 20:23 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

So here's where we're at with the Gear S2: it's a well designed, easy to use smartwatch that makes a good complement to your Android smartphone. If checking notifications, tracking the basics of your physical activity, controlling music, and getting small bits of info are all you want from a smartwatch, the S2 fills all of those needs.

But if you look at smartwatches as an entirely new medium for which developers have yet to fully exploit, the S2 should give you pause. It's entirely possible, likely even, that Samsung ​won't get the developer support it needs to strengthen the S2's platform. Pebble has been able to do that to a limited extent, but history tells us the odds of that happening again are arguably low.

Harsh, but true. The Gear S2 looks like a decent smartwatch with an interesting and useful interaction model, but we all know the likelihood of any serious developer support for Tizen is small, at best.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 12th Oct 2015 21:36 UTC

Now that the phone is out and in the wild, I've had a chance to experiment a bit with making a basic MIDI controller. In the process, I've learned some interesting things about Apple's 3D Touch APIs that I'm sharing here in hopes that it will be helpful for other folks interested in developing on the platform.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 10th Oct 2015 22:59 UTC
Multimedia, AV

Few people even remember that such a medium as vinyl movies existed, but for a brief, doomed period in the early 1980s, home video was available on CEDs. While CED players were not released to consumers until 1981, the development of the system dates back to the 1960s. The idea was that they could encode sound and video information to a vinyl disc if they could only get the grooves small enough.

Fascinating. I had no idea they ever tried to do this. Better yet, that they succeeded.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 9th Oct 2015 18:43 UTC
Debian and its clones

The Linux Standard Base (LSB) is a specification that purports to define the services and application-level ABIs that a Linux distribution will provide for use by third-party programs. But some in the Debian project are questioning the value of maintaining LSB compliance - it has become, they say, a considerable amount of work for little measurable benefit.

It's too much work for little benefit, and nobody wants to do it, so what's the point - just drop it. At least, that seems to be the reasoning.

But Debian's not throwing all of the LSB overboard: we're still firmly standing behind the FHS (version 2.3 through Debian Policy; although 3.0 was released in August this year) and our SysV init scripts mostly conform to LSB VIII.22.{2-8}. But don't get me wrong, this src:lsb upload is an explicit move away from the LSB.

That's too bad - the FHS is an abomination, a useless, needlesly complex relic from a time we were still using punch cards, and it has no place in any modern computing platform. All operating systems have absolutely horrible and disastrous directory layouts, but the FHS is one of the absolute worst in history.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 9th Oct 2015 18:37 UTC, submitted by aliver

NetBSD 7.0 has been released. It's got kernel scripting with Lua now, and introduces support for a whole bunch of new ARM boards, as well as support for multiprocessor support for ARM. There's a whole lot more, so go check it out.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 9th Oct 2015 18:33 UTC

Elon Musk, in an interview over at Handelsblatt:

Apple just hired some of Tesla's most important engineers. Do you have to worry about a new competitor?

Important engineers? They have hired people we've fired. We always jokingly call Apple the "Tesla Graveyard." If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding.

Do you take Apple's ambitions seriously?

Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch? (laughs) No, seriously: It's good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches. You can't just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car. But for Apple, the car is the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation. A new pencil or a bigger iPad alone were not relevant enough.

He's not wrong. Should be interesting: Tesla and Apple are companies with some of the most.... Enthusiastic fans, and I'm sure there's quite some overlap.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 7th Oct 2015 21:53 UTC

Yesterday's Windows 10 hardware launch event was without question the best Microsoft in ages - and arguably the tech launch event of the year. Microsoft unveiled its first-ever laptop, showed off an updated Surface Pro 4, and announced a new lineup of phones, all while articulating a confident, aggressive strategy of turning Windows 10 into the underlying software service and platform for virtually everything in your life.

That huge bet might not pay off - Apple and Google are still formidable competitors, and the road back to mobile relevance will be a long one - but it's more vision and purpose than we've seen from Redmond in years. So I sat down with new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the soon-to-open Microsoft flagship store in Manhattan to ask him how he'd changed the entire vibe at Microsoft in the past 18 months, and what he hopes to accomplish in the next 18 months. We also talked about how he plans to keep his Windows OEM partners happy even as Microsoft's Surface Book laptop competes directly with their high-end products, and just how he plans to get back in the phone game.

I like Nadella, and I like what Microsoft is doing right now. Even though I can't really put my finger on it, I have a fondness for the Surface line-up, and if it wasn't for Metro being useless, I would not have opted for a MacBook Pro. I've also always liked Windows Phone, and even though I don't believe it's going anywhere, and despite the many, many stumbles Microsoft has made along the way, I still think it's definitely the most unique of the three major mobile platforms.

By letting go of 'Windows everywhere' and instead focussing on making great products for everyone - no matter your platform of choice - I think Microsoft has a real shot at getting back in the consumer game.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 7th Oct 2015 20:24 UTC
Internet & Networking

Facebook's got Instant Articles and Apple's got Apple News, and now Google has something called Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, together with a whole bunch of partners.

AMP HTML is a new way to make web pages that are optimized to load instantly on users' mobile devices. It is designed to support smart caching, predictable performance, and modern, beautiful mobile content. Since AMP HTML is built on existing web technologies, and not a template based system, publishers continue to host their own content, innovate on their user experiences, and flexibly integrate their advertising and business models - all within a technical architecture optimized for speed and performance.

The big difference between AMP and other initiatives: AMP is open source and available on Github, and anybody can use the code as they see fit.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 7th Oct 2015 20:19 UTC
General Development

League of Legends players collectively send millions of messages every day. They're asking friends to duo-queue, suggesting a team comp on the champ select screen, and thanking opponents for a good game. On July 21st of this year (I picked a day at random), players forged 1.7 million new friendships in the game - that's a lot of love! And each time players send a message they trigger a number of operations on the back-end technology that powers Riot chat.

In the previous episode of this series on chat, I discussed the protocol we chose to communicate between client and server: XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol). Today I'll dive into the mechanisms in place on the server-side and the architecture of the infrastructure, and I’ll discuss the work we’ve done to ensure that our servers are scalable and robust. Like the last article, I hope it’ll be interesting to anyone building out chat features to a distributed client base.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Oct 2015 21:53 UTC

Microsoft announced a whole bunch of new products today - all from the devices team. We've got two new high-end Lumia phones, the 950 and 950XL. These phones have all the latest specifications, and peculiarly enough, they are water-cooled (I'm not joking). They obviously run Windows Phone 10, and support the Continuum feature, so you can hook them up to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and you'll be greeted by something that looks a lot like a regular windows 10 desktop. Universal application swill automatically scale between the two different screen sizes. Pretty nifty.

Microsoft also unveiled two new Surface devices: the Surface Pro 4 - a thinner, faster, and all-around better version of the Surface Pro 3 - but also the long-awaited Surface laptop, dubbed the Surface Book. The Surface Book is crazy powerful, has a beautiful display and full, regular keyboard, a crazy hinge that really sets it apart, and just like any other Surface, the screen can some off - but this time, using something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire", electrified attachment points that keep the two parts firmly together - you can grab it by the screen and dangle it without any fear of the two parts disconnecting.

The keyboard half contains a discrete graphics chip and some batteries, while the rest of the computery parts are housed within the display. Microsoft makes some crazy claims about performance, but we'll have to see some proper benchmarks first. In any case, it looks like the kind of laptop Microsoft wanted its partner to build - but we all know something like this is simply beyond the capabilities of the likes of Dell or HP.

That being said, the Surface Book ain't cheap, and starts at $1500.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Oct 2015 09:34 UTC

Last night, Google posted the Android 6.0 Marshmallow factory images online, for the Nexus 5, 6, 7 (2013), 9 (Wi-Fi), and Player. since these are factory images, you'll have to perform a wipe and install. If you don't want to go through the hassle of doing so, you'll have to wait for the OTA updates rolling out in the coming weeks.

If you want to take the plunge, AndroidCentral has a great guide on how to do so.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Oct 2015 09:30 UTC

The European Court of Justice has just ruled that the transatlantic Safe Harbour agreement, which lets American companies use a single standard for consumer privacy and data storage in both the US and Europe, is invalid. The ruling came after Edward Snowden's NSA leaks showed that European data stored by US companies was not safe from surveillance that would be illegal in Europe.

This could have far-reaching consequences for Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US tech giants operating in Europe.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Oct 2015 09:24 UTC

If we were to ask for any new feature from a new Android version, it would be some kind of scalable update solution. Right now a custom update still needs to be built for every single individual device model, and that's really not a workable solution when you have more than 24,000 models out there. The Stagefright vulnerability seemed to be a wakeup call for the Android ecosystem, but it came too late to affect anything in Marshmallow. Google instituted monthly updates for Nexus devices, and OEMs are pledging to bring the monthly update program to flagship devices. The majority of Android devices, though - the low-end devices - are being ignored. Monthly updates for Google, Samsung, and LG flagships only works out to a very small percentage of the Android install base.

Android 6.0 could dispense gold nuggets and clean my bathroom for free, but as long as this update hell exists, it's all for naught.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Oct 2015 00:18 UTC
Internet & Networking

HP today announced the launch of the OpenSwitch community and a new open source network operating system (NOS). HP and key supporters, Accton Technology Corporation, Arista, Broadcom, Intel, and VMware, are delivering a community-based platform that provides developers and users the ability to accelerate innovation, avoid vendor lock-in, and realize investment protection as they rapidly build data center networks customized for unique business applications.

Here's the official OpenSwitch site - and I'll admit, this goes way over my head.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 5th Oct 2015 19:35 UTC

The Lumia 950 and its bigger sibling are intended not as a revolution, but as a solid foundation to a brighter and better future for Microsoft's mobile efforts. They should be judged on that basis, not on whether they're able to make a dent in the Apple and Google duopoly. To achieve that lofty goal, Microsoft will need multiple generations of devices as well as the collaboration of other service providers willing to bring their apps to its platform. Tomorrow's event will be indicative of how progress is going along that path, while also giving us a pair of interesting new devices to talk about.

I have little to no hope for Windows Phone. It's done.

One interesting note for tomorrow's Microsoft event: there's rumblings and rumours about Google unveiling official Google applications for Windows 10 tomorrow. It's nothing solid, and take it with some salt, but it wouldn't be that surprising - just as Microsoft needed Apple almost 20 years ago, Google may need Microsoft today.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 5th Oct 2015 19:14 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

September means the beginning of sweater weather, the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and the launch of a new iPhone. Now that the highly anticipated iPhone 6s line has finally hit stores and is smashing sales records, the Pornhub statisticians have decided to dig through the data and found out what it is that separates iPhone-wielding Pornhub users from our Android-loyal visitors, in terms of how they interact with the site and what kinds of content they prefer. Currently, just over 60% of our traffic comes from mobile devices, so without any further ado, let's take a look at what makes each of these major subsets of Pornhub's viewership tick.

I didn't put the link in the copied blurb itself. The following link is to the company blog, and not the Pornhub site itself, so it's completely safe for work, and contains no nudity or otherwise inappropriate content, so you can read it for the interesting mobile stats without any worries. It's still a link to the Pornhub domain, so you might want to skip this one if you're on a work computer or someone else's machine.

Here's the link. And yes I find it totally hilarious the OSNews database now contains a link to the Pornhub domain.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd Oct 2015 16:45 UTC

I've spent the past couple of days desperately trying to puzzle out the purpose behind Google's newly announced Nexus 5X and 6P smartphones. Unlike predecessors such as the Nexus One and Nexus 5, these phones don't have a clear reason for being, and are not in themselves terribly unique. That's led me (and others) to question Google's overall aim with the Nexus line of pure Android smartphones, and I think I've finally arrived at an answer. The Nexus program is not so much about carrier independence or purity of Android design as it is about presenting Google in an overwhelmingly positive light. In other words, Google, the ultimate ad seller, sells Nexus phones as ads for itself.

This article feels a bit like a trainwreck to me. It just doesn't make any sense. Of course Nexus devices are built specifically to put Android and Google's services on a pedestal - has anyone ever claimed otherwise? Has anyone ever seen them as anything but? The tone of the article also tries to somehow posit this as a negative thing, which I don't understand either. Some of the very best Android phones of all time have been Nexus phones, so aren't they a great thing for us consumers? What's the problem here?

Making Android profitable for Android phone makers is one of the great challenges of our time. We're all better off when we buy things from sustainable companies that we know will still be around when we have an issue months or years down the line. I wish Google would recognize that and try to do more to support Android as a whole rather than just its own good name. Nexus devices have in the past and can still serve nobler purposes than just making Google look good.

No, it's not. The goal of Android is to reach as many people as possible, and do so in a way that benefits us as consumers as much as possible. Expensive Android devices with 50% profit margins don't benefit us at all - they just allow major corporations to suck money out the economy and shadily funnel it to foreign tax havens. We benefit from access to high-quality phones at reasonable prices running Android-proper - and anything that pushes the Samsungs and HTCs of this world to do so is a huge win for consumers.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Oct 2015 08:55 UTC
Mac OS X

With El Capitan released, there's one 'feature' that really needs to be highlighted - for better or worse.

System Integrity Protection (SIP, sometimes referred to as rootless) is a security feature of OS X El Capitan, the operating system by Apple Inc. It protects certain system processes, files and folders from being modified or tampered with by other processes even when executed by the root user or by a user with root privileges (sudo). Apple says that the root user can be a significant risk factor to the system's security, especially on systems with a single user account on which that user is also the administrator. System Integrity Protection is enabled by default, but can be disabled.

Here's Apple's WWDC presentation about SIP, and here's the Ars review's section about it.