Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Jan 2015 21:53 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

As vast and sophisticated as the mobile tech industry may have become, in the end it still relies on some very basic ways for making money. You can either sell hardware, like Apple's doing, or sell ads, which account for roughly the same proportion of Google's regular income. Netflix and Amazon's Kindle store have found success as cross-platform services, but spending on mobile software is unlikely to ever match that of the old days when we paid for Windows, Office, and Photoshop on the desktop. It's easier to sell things that a person can touch and interact with physically. This is why HTC is diversifying into selling weird cameras, why LG and Samsung keep churning out new smartwatches in search of a perfect formula, and why everyone at CES earlier this month had a wearable of some kind to show off. And in spite of their lamentations about tough competition, HTC, LG, and Lenovo are all generating profits from their smartphone operations, and Samsung's recent sales decline hasn't been enough to put the Korean company on the wrong side of the ledger. None of these manufacturers have a profit driver of the caliber of the iPhone, but they're running sustainable businesses even while relying almost wholly on Google's Android software.

Just to illustrate: Apple has sold one billion iOS devices to date, and last year alone, one billion Android smartphones have been shipped (so this excludes tablets). These numbers - Apple's profits, Android devices shipped in just a year - are insane.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Jan 2015 18:50 UTC
General Unix

An old (2010) story from former Sun employee Jeremy Allison.

David Miller wrote (at the end of a long email explaining how Sparc Linux used cache optimizations to beat Solaris on performance):

"One final note. When you have to deal with SunSOFT to report a bug, how "important" do you have (ie. Fortune 500?) to be and how big of a customer do you have to be (multi million dollar purchases?) to get direct access to Sun's Engineers at Sun Quentin? With Linux, all you have to do is send me or one of the other SparcLinux hackers an email and we will attend to your bug in due time. We have too much pride in our system to ignore you and not fix the bug."

To which Bryan Cantrill replied with this amazing retort:

"Have you ever kissed a girl?"

Talk about missing the point and underestimating the competition.

The article offers an interesting look at why Sun eventually failed. I stumbled upon this story because Rob Landley mentioned the girl comment in his email about BSD/SysV.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Jan 2015 18:43 UTC
Android

Remember the nonsense from CyanogenMod CEO McMaster we talked about a few days ago? It turns out the motivation for the baseless comments from McMaster may not exactly be his own. As always, follow the money.

People familiar with the matter say Microsoft is putting money into Cyanogen, which is building a version of the Android mobile-operating system outside of Google's auspices.

Microsoft would be a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing that values Cyanogen in the high hundreds of millions, one of the people said. The person said the financing round could grow with other strategic investors that have expressed interest in Cyanogen because they're also eager to diminish Google's control over Android. The identity of the other potential investors couldn't be learned.

Oh right.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Jan 2015 18:34 UTC
General Unix

Rob Landley:

So gcc's library bindings strongly preferring System V system calls to BSD was due to the flood of Solaris end-users dominating the late 80's gcc development community to avoid paying Ed Zander extra for Sun's Solaris compiler. This combined with Linus reading Sun workstation manuals to get a system call list gave linux a very System V flavor.

Interesting - if opinionated - view on the whole situation. Not sure if all the dates check out, but it's a fun read nonetheless.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Jan 2015 17:51 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

TouchWiz has long been known as being far too full of bloat and unnecessary software, but the real problem with Samsung's version of Android is that these added features come with a hard hit on performance. According to a report this morning from SamMobile, the Korean company might be going as far as to remove all features from the OS that can possibly be downloaded - and this just so happens to coincide with today's market share numbers showing that Apple and Samsung were neck-and-neck in Q4.

Isn't competition lovely?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 28th Jan 2015 09:04 UTC
Apple

At the same time, Apple hasn't figured out many new things to do with the iPad to bring back the old excitement. During the October keynote to launch the latest model, Apple executives gushed and gushed and gushed about how *thin* the new iPad was. And it is! The iPad Air 2 is thin, elegant, and so light it just might float right off your lap. But the drama is gone.

The iPad is nice. You might still hang out together sometimes on the couch. But when you're done, you probably just put it down on the pile with all the magazines and mail and other stuff stacking up on the coffee table. It's just another way to waste a little time.

Even with dropping iPad sales, it's still a massive business that rakes in huge amounts of money. With the amounts of money Apple rakes in, it's easy to lose perspective.

That being said, the upgrade cycle for tablets appears to be a lot longer than for phones, which is why Apple isn't concerned about the iPhone 6(+) cannibalising iPad sales: iPhones are not only more expensive, they are also on a two year upgrade cycle and appear to be "free". As long as any drop in iPad sales is more than made up for in increasing iPhone sales, Apple is getting more money, not less.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2015 23:20 UTC
Windows

The Surface line has officially crossed the billion dollar mark for revenue demonstrating a 24% growth from the previous quarter. In other words, the big holiday season looks to have been successful in pushing the Surface Pro 3, which drove the growth, into more hands than ever.

The Surface Pro is an amazingly well-built product. I'm glad it's finding modest success.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2015 23:15 UTC
Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook just announced that the Apple Watch will begin shipping in April. Cook revealed the shipping timeframe during Apple's quarterly earnings call with investors; the company enjoyed a blockbuster quarter backed by massive iPhone sales and huge growth in China. Now it will look to carry that success forward with the launch of Apple Watch, its first major new product since the debut of iPad in 2010. "We’re making great progress in the development of it," Cook said. He also revealed that Apple is encouraged by the response from developers and app makers so far, saying "We’re seeing some incredible innovation."

The Apple Watch could be a crappy product, but with these kinds of iPhone sales numbers, even a dud would be a huge success. These numbers are beyond my comprehension.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2015 23:05 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Mezzano, an operating system written in Common Lisp.

What is says on the tin. Instructions for building this for VirtualBox are also available.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2015 23:02 UTC
Google

Four years ago, we wrote about YouTube's early support for the HTML5 video tag and how it performed compared to Flash. At the time, there were limitations that held it back from becoming our preferred platform for video delivery. Most critically, HTML5 lacked support for Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) that lets us show you more videos with less buffering.

Over the last four years, we've worked with browser vendors and the broader community to close those gaps, and now, YouTube uses HTML5 video by default in Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8 and in beta versions of Firefox.

It seems like only yesterday that Flash was required for everything.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2015 19:34 UTC
Internet & Networking

The co-founder and former CEO of Opera, Jon von Tetzchner, has released a new browser called Vivaldi.

The new browser, which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, is still in its early days, but offers a number of features that loyal Opera users may remember. It sports mouse gestures for browsing and the familiar "speed dial" interface that shows your favorite tabs on the new tab page.

groups Meet Vivaldi, a new browser from the former CEO of OperaVivaldi also has some new tricks up its sleeves. Multiple tabs can be combined into one for easy browsing of related sites. For example, if you were doing research online you could group all the tabs on that topic into one to save space.

The browser is available as a pre-release version right now, and like Opera, it doesn't actually have its own, unique rendering engine - it's built on top of Chrome's Blink. The idea here appears to be to return at least some of the unique Opera features to the browser space, something a number of you may be interested in.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2015 19:28 UTC
Apple

Apple has updated both of its operating systems today.

Apple has released OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 to the public. This update is meant to fix a number of issues in Yosemite, including an issue that caused Wi-Fi to disconnect.

And iOS wasn't far behind:

Apple has just released iOS 8.1.3 for iPhone and iPad devices. The over-the-air update has a number of fixes and improvements, including one that should cut down on the amount of storage needed for future software updates.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 26th Jan 2015 20:51 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The PaperLike uses a 13.3-inch E Ink Fina screen that has a resolution of 1600 x 1200 (150 ppi). Fina is E Ink's glass-based display and is different from what's on the 13.3" Sony DPT-S1 PDF Reader, which has a flexible plastic-based screen.

The interesting thing about the PaperLike is that it uses so little energy that it doesn't even need to be plugged into its own power source. It connects to a laptop or desktop computer simply with a USB cable, and it gets enough power through the USB to refresh the screen.

This looks quite interesting in a cool-to-have sort of way. Too bad the price isn't exactly in the cool-to-have category.

 

Linked by jspaloss on Mon 26th Jan 2015 20:48 UTC
FreeBSD

This release brings improvements in performance and hardware support from the FreeBSD 10.1 base, as well as enhancements we've added such as AES-GCM with AES-NI acceleration, among a number of other new features and bug fixes. Jim Thompson posted an overview of the significant changes previously.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 26th Jan 2015 14:54 UTC
Android

CyanogenMod CEO McMaster said some interesting things recently.

To remove all doubts right from the get go, here's how McMaster introduced himself: "I'm the CEO of Cyanogen. We're attempting to take Android away from Google." Asked to detail his vision, McMaster explained that Cyanogen wants to provide a version of Android that is open down to its core, that partners can use to build highly integrated services, in a way that is not possible right now with Google’s Android.

Well, either McMaster has no idea what he's talking about, or he's purposefully being disingenuous. It's most likely the latter, since he's got something to sell.

Of course, all the things McMaster claims his company will make possible with Android are already possible today, have been possible for years, and are actually actively being done all over the world. There are dozens of millions - possibly hundreds of millions - of users using Google-less Android all over the world; in China, Russia, the US, and beyond. Android's openness makes it possible to replace all of Google's applications and services with those from another company, vendor, or provider. Even you can do it! Just download Yandex.Kit, for instance.

The confusion seems to stem from people conflating Google Apps/Play Services with Android. This is an easy mistake to make for those not familiar with Android. Android itself (AOSP) is completely open source, and freely available to everyone to use as a base for a competing platform. Countless of Chinese companies, Russia's Yandex, Nokia, Amazon, and others have attracted millions and millions of users this way.

In contrast, Google has a lot of control over Google Apps/Play Services and keeps them (mostly) proprietary. However, despite a lot of rattling of chains from Apple bloggers and Ars Technica, Google Apps and Play Services are by no means a crucial, unmissable part of Android, and they, by no means, make Android "unforkable". In fact, if you look at the APIs currently part os Play Services, they are all strictly related to Google Services (as the name implies), and not Android itself (e.g. they don't deal with things like hardware access).

On top of that, despite Google Apps/Play Services being proprietary, they are "freely" available; Google basically employs a gedoogbeleid concerning their availability, and allows users of custom ROMs and non-Google Android to download them. My Jolla phone, which doesn't even run Android in the first place, has Google Apps/Play Services installed.

I am not happy with the fact that the Google Apps are proprietary, mostly because I see no need for them to be as such. Google could win a lot of goodwill by opening them up again, but Google being a company, it's unlikely they will ever do so. Play Services are a bit of a different story; while I would certainly love for them to be open as well, I understand (though not necessarily agree) Google wants to maintain control over the access to their very servers.

The article makes another common mistake: it claims that Android manufacturers are not allowed to release Android forks. This is based on leaked 2011 licensing terms covering the Google Apps/Play Services. However, despite these leaked terms, there are several manufacturers who release Android devices both with and without Google services; Huawei and Explay are good examples of that (they both sell regular Android phones with Google services, but also devices in Russia that use Yandex.Kit). This means that either the licensing terms from 2011 are outdated, or (more likely) they are custom, and do not apply to every manufacturer. In any case, the blanket statement that all manufacturers must choose between nothing but Android with Google services, or no Android services at all is clearly not true.

In any case, I'm sure McMaster knows all this just fine - you can't be the CEO of CyanogenMod without said understanding - which makes these comments all the more paper-thin. Then again, after the scummy way CyanogenMod treated OnePlus, I'm not exactly surprised.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 25th Jan 2015 20:44 UTC
Games

Consider the humble video game cartridge. It's a small, durable plastic box that imparts the most immediate, user-friendly software experience ever created. Just plug it in, and you're playing a game in seconds.

If you’ve ever used one, you have two men to thank: Wallace Kirschner and Lawrence Haskel, who invented the game cartridge 40 years ago while working at an obscure company and rebounding from a business failure. Once the pair's programmable system had been streamlined and turned into a commercial product - the Channel F console - by a team at pioneering electronics company Fairchild, it changed the fundamental business model of home video games forever. By injecting flexibility into a new technology, it paved the way for massive industry growth and the birth of a new creative medium.

Ah, gaming with effectively no loading times. Those were the days.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 24th Jan 2015 23:17 UTC
Mac OS X

Steven Troughton-Smith:

Just to provide an example for this post, I put together a trivial drawing app called BitPaint. It isn't very interesting, but it should illustrate a few things:

  1. What's involved in bringing a trivial classic Mac app to Carbon
  2. How the Classic Mac OS build process works
  3. How much source compatibility exists between 1984's Toolbox and Carbon today

The answer to the third question is surprising: a lot. In fact, Steven managed to build an application that runs on every version of Mac OS/OS X, all the way from System 1.0 to today's OS X 10.10 Yosemite. I've been following Steven's progress (and by following I mean 'looked at pretty screenshots' because I don't understand the developer stuff), and it's quite incredible to see a single codebase run on such a long string of Mac OS/OS X releases.

A crucial aspect in this whole endeavour has been mpw, "an m68k binary translator/emulator whose sole purpose is to try and emulate enough of Classic Mac OS to run MPW's [note the caps!] own tools directly on OS X".

I am incredibly psyched about mpw. Its developer, ksherlock, has been very responsive to everything I've come up against as I stress test it against various tools and projects.

Right now it's a fully usable tool that makes Classic Mac OS compilation possible and easy to do on modern versions of OS X, without requiring emulators or ancient IDEs or the like. To my knowledge, this is the first time this has been possible (excluding legacy versions of CodeWarrior).

This entire post is a must-read.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Jan 2015 23:06 UTC
Windows

"We have bigger hopes, higher aspirations for Windows," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said on Wednesday, standing on a stage above a secret room filled with crazy holographic technology. "We want to move from people needing Windows to choosing Windows, to loving Windows. That is our bold goal." He's right: love is a problem that Microsoft needs to solve.

I use Windows because out of the options, it's the one that bugs me the least. Now, I have a tendency to dislike all software - it's crazy how many faults and problems we accept in software - so it's unlikely they'll ever get me to 'love' anything, but I still get the general idea: without dominance, mobile users need to choose Windows willingly. This is new ground for Microsoft.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Jan 2015 23:00 UTC
Mac OS X

Don't look now, but Google's Project Zero vulnerability research program may have dropped more zero-day vulnerabilities - this time on Apple's OS X platform.

In the past two days, Project Zero has disclosed OS X vulnerabilities here, here, and here. At first glance, none of them appear to be highly critical, since all three appear to require the attacker to already have some access to a targeted machine. What's more, the first vulnerability, the one involving the "networkd 'effective_audit_token' XPC," may already have been mitigated in OS X Yosemite, but if so the Google advisory doesn't make this explicit and Apple doesn't publicly discuss security matters with reporters.

You'd think a writer at Ars Technica was aware of what a zero-day is. These are 90-days, meaning Google is giving - int his case - Apple two to three times as long as industry sort-of standard (which is 30-45 days). Of course, Google dropping zero-days on Apple will draw a lot more clicks, but that doesn't make it any less bullshit. Then again, it isn't like this is the first time this particular author sensationalises to the point of ridiculousness.

The other points from before, of course, still stand. In addition, it'd be great if other companies started combing through Google's stuff too.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Jan 2015 19:08 UTC
Windows

Some of the new features that Joe demoed on Wednesday will be available for our Windows Insiders starting today with our newest build - 9926. However, not everything you saw on Wednesday is included in this new build. Much is still in-progress and we’re getting it out to you as fast as we can - so you can try it out and give us feedback. Over the course of the next few builds, you will see us refine Windows 10 and continue to improve the experiences as well as quality and stability.

This new build contains the first set of features unveiled earlier this week. Neowin has a bunch of screenshots.