Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 28th Dec 2014 19:40 UTC
Linux

I found this one via HackerNews - a 2003 article on what Linux needs for "world domination", written by Hugh Fisher.

If Linux is to achieve world domination, it must have One Frickin' User Interface (1FUI): a single user experience / interface behaviour and a single underlying UI toolkit API / widget set. World domination means putting Linux into corporations, schools, PDAs, and cell phones. This will only happen with 1FUI, and if this upsets the nerds, too bad. History clearly shows that if a platform/system offers a choice of user interfaces, the potential users will choose a different system.

It's almost 2015 now, and it turns out he was right. That "1FUI" is called whatever Android has, and it has made Linux the dominant player in the next big computer revolution. Linux does great in servers, embedded stuff, supercomputing, and utterly owns mobile computing (Apple people, the world is bigger than the US, UK, and Australia).

Linux didn't need a 'year of desktop Linux' after all.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 23rd Dec 2014 18:21 UTC
Mozilla & Gecko clones

Firefox OS is coming to Japan and doing it in style.

Announced at a KDDI press event in Tokyo today, the Fx0 is a striking 4.7-inch smartphone with a transparent shell and a home button decorated with the golden Firefox logo embracing the Earth. It runs the latest version of Mozilla's web-centric mobile OS and was designed by noted Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka, whose previous collaboration with KDDI produced a phone worthy of making it into the Museum of Modern Art's collection. With the Fx0, Yoshioka has worked around the familiar outlines of LG's G3 design (LG is the silent partner producing the device) and adapted them to a smaller size while producing a delightful aesthetic in the process. Like a watch with a window showing its internal mechanism, this phone's exposed electronics are a subtle reminder of its technical sophistication - plus, that Firefox home button is just plain cool.

It's different, surely, but.... No. Just no.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Dec 2014 19:20 UTC
Google

When discussing self-driving cars, people tend to ask a lot of superficial questions: how much will these cars cost? Is this supposed to replace my car at home? Is this supposed to replace taxis or Uber? What if I need to use a drive-thru?

They ignore the smarter questions. They ignore the fact that 45% of disabled people in the US still work. They ignore the fact that 95% of a car's lifetime is spent parked. They ignore how this technology could transform the lives of the elderly, or eradicate the need for parking lots or garages or gas stations. They dismiss the entire concept because they don't think a computer could ever be as good at merging on the freeway as they are.

They ignore the great, big, beautiful picture staring them right in the face: that this technology could make our lives so much better.

Self-driving cars will be the biggest technological breakthrough since the advent of the computer. Beyond 'just' revolutionising personal transportation, it will completely and utterly change the commercial/freight transportation industry.

All of us will benefit from this technology. I cannot wait.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Dec 2014 00:25 UTC
Intel

In 1970, MOS memory chips were just becoming popular, but were still very expensive. Intel had released their first product the previous year, the 3101 RAM chip with 64 bits of storage.[1] For this chip (with enough storage to hold the word "aardvark") you'd pay $99.50. To avoid these astronomical prices, some computers used the cheaper alternative of shift register memory. Intel's 1405 shift register provided 512 bits of storage - 8 times as much as their RAM chip - at a significantly lower price. In a shift register memory, the bits go around and around in a circle, with one bit available at each step. The big disadvantage is that you need to wait for the bit you want to come around, which can take half a millisecond.

Great article.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 21st Dec 2014 20:32 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

It's been almost a year since John Chen was appointed to save Blackberry and it's clear that his grand plan has, at least, stopped the company losing money hand over fist. In the Canadian outfit's latest three month report, it reveals that losses have been trimmed from $4.4 billion last year to a much more manageable $148 million. Of course, it's clear that as the business reinvents itself as a software-and-services company, manufacturing smartphones has increasingly become a side project.

Pretty amazing turnaround financially, but I doubt it'll be enough for the future of Blackberry OS - even if the company itself survives.

I still want the red Passport, though.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 21st Dec 2014 20:24 UTC
Apple

Ever since rumors started swirling that Apple was working on a wearable device, I've often thought about what such a device would mean for people with disabilities. My curiosity is so high, in fact, that I've even written about the possibilities. Make no mistake, for users with disabilities such as myself, a wearable like the Apple Watch brings with it usage and design paradigms that, I think, are of even greater impact than what the iPhone in one's pocket has to offer.

Suffice it to say, I'm very excited for Apple Watch's debut sometime next year.

Accessibility is definitely a strong point for Apple - at least compared to the competition - and I don't think the Apple Watch will be any different.

 

Linked by twitterfire on Sat 20th Dec 2014 00:02 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale - even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available.

The flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are the latest evidence of widespread insecurity on SS7, the global network that allows the world's cellular carriers to route calls, texts and other services to each other. Experts say it's increasingly clear that SS7, first designed in the 1980s, is riddled with serious vulnerabilities that undermine the privacy of the world’s billions of cellular customers.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Dec 2014 17:47 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Jolla released the tenth major update for Sailfish today, bumping the version number to the as always very useful and helpful 1.1.1.26. The name of the update, also as always in Finnish, isn't helping either: Vaarainjärvi. Joking aside, this tenth update is a massive one - virtually every aspect of the operating system is touched upon in some way, from the lower levels all the way up to UI tweaks.

It's 1.5GB in size, which is pretty huge in Sailfish terms, so make sure to have enough free space for the initial download.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Dec 2014 17:44 UTC, submitted by toralux
OSNews, Generic OSes

Hewlett-Packard will take a big step toward shaking up its own troubled business and the entire computing industry next year when it releases an operating system for an exotic new computer.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Dec 2014 12:04 UTC
Legal

The Federal Court of Canada agreed on Wednesday to order Apple Inc's Canadian subsidiary to turn over documents to the Competition Bureau to help investigate whether Apple unfairly used its market power to promote the sale of iPhones.

In seeking the order, the Competition Bureau said agreements Apple negotiated with wireless carriers may have cut into competition by encouraging the companies to maintain or boost the price of rival phones.

It'd be very welcome if the relationships between major OEMs and carriers, as well as between the individual carriers, came under very close scrutiny. In most countries, the wireless market is dominated by only a few major carriers and OEMs, creating a lot of opportunity for anti-competitive - and thus, anti-consumer - practices. Good on Canada for taking these steps, but other countries need to follow.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Dec 2014 23:07 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

Since the last time, the expression parser has grown several new capabilities. We are now able to infer the types of operands, and as such one no longer needs to set the type that one wishes the value to be returned as. A further consequence is that expressions can now return arbitrarily typed values as results, not just simple numeric values. This means that, for instance, an expression can return a data member of a class, and if that member is itself an object or other more complex type, it can then be expanded to look at its internal values.

I am by far not knowledgeable enough to comment on any of this - but I do know it's a number of improvements to Haiku's debugger.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Dec 2014 23:03 UTC
In the News

Hundreds of millions of tablets and e-readers have been sold, but today we're still inclined to think of a book as words on a page. Amazon's success with Kindle has hinged on recognizing how much more they can be. So where does the company go from here? In a series of rare, on-the-record interviews for Kindle's 7th anniversary, Amazon executives sketched out their evolving vision for the future of reading. It's wild - and it's coming into focus faster than you might have guessed.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Dec 2014 23:01 UTC
Multimedia, AV

Sony Pictures has cancelled the planned release on 25 December of the film The Interview, after major cinema chains decided not to screen it.

The film is about a fictional plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Hackers have already carried out a cyber attack on Sony and warned the public to stay away from cinemas screening the film.

Sony hacked, documents released, theatres and Sony threatened by terrorists, and now, the film in question cancelled.

Een volk dat voor tirannen zwicht, zal meer dan lijf en goed verliezen, dan dooft het licht.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Dec 2014 22:55 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Amazon is continuing to fiddle with the Fire Phone's software even after it became apparent that the device isn't selling terribly well. An OTA is going out right now to the AT&T and GSM unlocked devices with a ton of improvements to the camera, battery life, lock screen, and more.

Did anyone - anyone - buy this phone?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Dec 2014 20:11 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

The wait is over. The BlackBerry Classic has now arrived, and it brings the promise of the speed and performance of BlackBerry 10 with the familiar and classic navigation keys you know and love. All that in a package that is 'designed from the ground up to meet the needs of productive people who appreciate the speed and accuracy that can only be found with a physical QWERTY keyboard'.

It's a device purposefully built to be reliable, durable, made with high-quality materials, and that delivers on quality and fits neatly in your pocket. From the official announcement of its eventual release back in February at Mobile World Congress 2014 to now, many folks have been waiting for the BlackBerry Classic and now that it's here, it's time to take a look and see if it delivers on all those points.

The Classic has officially been released today, and CrackBerry.com has one of the first reviews.

 

Linked by jessesmith on Tue 16th Dec 2014 21:13 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source

The GNU General Public License (version 2) is one of the most widely used open source licenses in the world. The GNU GPLv2 is commonly used in Linux distributions and open source applications. Yet, despite being widely used for decades, the GPLv2 has not been tested much in the legal system. Most GPL violations do not result in a trial and so the power of the license has remained largely untested. That is about to change. As OpenSource.com posted,

This lack of court decisions is about to change due to the five interrelated cases arising from a dispute between Versata Software, Inc. ("Versata") (its parent company, Trilogy Development Corporation, is also involved, but Versata is taking the lead) and Ameriprise Financial, Inc. ("Ameriprise")

It is expected the court cases will help define what qualifies as a derivative work and how the GPL affects software patents along with other details of how the license is interpreted.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Dec 2014 21:13 UTC
Android

Permissions on Android are tricky to get right from a user perspective. Usually you only want to do something minor and innocuous (pre-fill a form with a contact's info) but the actual permission you have to request gives you much more power than necessary (access to ALL contact details, ever).

It's understandable that users might be suspicious of you. If your app is closed-source then they have no way of verifying you're not downloading all their contacts to their servers. Even if you explain the permission request people may not trust you. In the past I've chosen not to implement what might be handy features just to avoid user distrust.

That said, one thing that bothers me is that you don't always have to ask for permission to do some actions.

Exactly, because on Android, you can use Intents.

Android's Intents system is fascinating from a historical perspective. Like so many other aspects of smartphones we take for granted today, it comes from PalmOS (and not from iOS or Android). I detailed PalmOS' "multitasking" capabilities in my Palm retrospective, but it basically comes down to this: in PalmOS, applications could 'sublaunch' other applications, let them do stuff, and then return to the original application. Many of the people working on these PalmOS capabilities (some of whom came from Be) would later work for the Android team at Google, where they further evolved it into the Intents system Android currently has.

The current smartphone platforms owe way more to Palm than modern pundits will ever be capable of understanding or willing to admit. Want to talk about inconsequential crap beveled edges and rounded corners some more?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Dec 2014 19:37 UTC
Legal

An eight-person jury has decided that Apple is not on the hook for what could have been more than $1 billion in a trial centering on extra security measures the company added to iTunes and iPods starting in 2006.

Delivering a unanimous verdict today, the group said Apple's iTunes 7.0, released in the fall of 2006, was a "genuine product improvement," meaning that new features (though importantly increased security) were good for consumers. Plaintiffs in the case unsuccessfully argued that those features not only thwarted competition, but also made Apple's products less useful since customers could not as easily use purchased music or jukebox software from other companies with the iPod.

This was a dumb case and a waste of court resources. Good to see the jury agree with that.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Dec 2014 22:56 UTC
Microsoft

Microsoft's Skype software will start translating voice calls between people today. As part of a preview program, Skype Translator makes it possible for English and Spanish speakers to communicate in their native language, without having to learn a new one. It sounds like magic, but it's the result of years of work from Microsoft's research team and Skype to provide an early working copy of software that could help change the way the world communicates in the future.

Pretty cool. I don't speak Spanish, so I can't test just how good it is.

 

Linked by moorewierdos on Mon 15th Dec 2014 22:43 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

From an Imgur Post of the same title:

I was moved out to an extremely remote country area in the middle of NSW Australia to live with people I didn't want to live with and isolated with no internet for 7 years during my childhood/teenhood. Using the 1980s reference books from my high school library, I decided to build my own OS so that I had a more manageable way of dealing with files than the standard DOS structure.

A short but interesting read about the author's experience with pictures of the finsished product.