Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th Aug 2014 09:24 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Via CrackBerry:

It would seem as though the floodgates have REALLY opened up on the BlackBerry Passport and the device is popping up all over the place. This time around, to go along with the typical photos of the device, mobilenet.cz has given the BlackBerry Passport a look in a 28 minute long video, along with putting its camera and video camera to the test.

Almost 28 minutes of Passport goodness - in Czech, which you may not understand. However, even without knowledge of the Czech language, that's still 28 minutes of Passport goodness. I really, really want this device.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 27th Aug 2014 22:56 UTC
In the News

Getting outflanked by tech upstarts, hacked in two by a fearsome corporate raider, and finally taken over in part by a Chinese company that exists largely because of the world Motorola made for it: Such a fate would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. Motorola was then one of America's greatest companies, having racked up a stunning record of innovation that continually spawned new businesses, which in turn created enormous wealth. Motorola had the vision to invest in China long before most multinational companies. It even developed Six Sigma, a rigorous process for improving quality that would be embraced by management gurus and change the way companies nearly everywhere operate.

However, as the history of many giant corporations (Lehman Brothers, General Motors) shows, great success can lead to great trouble. Interviews with key players in and around Motorola and its spinoffs indicate that the problems began when management jettisoned a powerful corporate culture that had been inculcated over decades. When healthy internal competition degenerated into damaging infighting. "I loved most of my time there," says Mike DiNanno, a former controller of several Motorola divisions, who worked at the company from 1984 to 2003. "But I hated the last few years."

Very detailed in-depth look at the rise and fall of Motorola.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 27th Aug 2014 13:18 UTC
Apple

Apple is developing a larger iPad with a 12.9-inch display that it plans to begin manufacturing early next year, according to Bloomberg. It's not stated when the larger iPad will actually be released, but reports have swirled around the development of an iPad at this size for about a year now, so it's quite possible that it's finally headed toward a launch. Apple's existing iPads, the Air and the mini, have 9.7- and 7.9-inch displays. At 12.9 inches, this purported iPad would be closer in size to a laptop, like the MacBook Air.

A little birdie has provided us with an exclusive photo of the device.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Aug 2014 22:32 UTC, submitted by Decius
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

How do you determine what makes a good OS? What makes iOS vs. Android or Windows Phone vs. BB10, or any other such comparison not just about the fanboyism? Is it even possible to arrive at a scientific conclusion to this question? If we look at entire ecosystems, Android and iOS are obvious choices for buyers because of the sheer amount of apps they have available. However, what's that got to do with an answer to the question, "What's the best designed OS out of the box?"

Not going to spoil it for you.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Aug 2014 22:25 UTC, submitted by Sean Melendy
OSNews, Generic OSes

A new version of MenuetOS has been released.

Updates and improvements (httpc, ehci, picview, memcheck, menu, wallpaper, ohci, uhci, maps/streetview, icons, dhcp, freeform window, smp threads, smp init, onscreen keyboard, utf8 support, tcp/ip, keyboard layouts: western, cyrillic, hebrew, greek)

MenuetOS is open source (MIT) and written entirely in 32/64 bit assembly. It's important to note that development is focused entirely on the 64bit version.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Aug 2014 09:47 UTC
Internet & Networking

If your monthly cellphone bill seems high, that may be because American cellphone service is among the most costly in the world. A comparison of two similar plans, one in the United States and one in Britain, reveals a marked difference.

Both plans include a new iPhone 5S with 16 gigabytes of memory. Both require a two-year commitment and allow unlimited voice minutes and unlimited texting. The plan offered by the British provider, Three UK, offers unlimited data and requires no upfront payment. With Britain's 20 percent tax included, the plan costs 41 pounds a month, or $67.97 at current exchange rates.

The plan provided by the American carrier, Verizon Wireless, has an upfront cost of $99.99 and then $90 a month, not including taxes. Spreading the upfront cost over 24 months and adding 17 percent tax - typical for the United States - comes to $109.47 a month. But while the British plan includes unlimited data, the American plan does not. It includes two gigabytes a month, with an additional gigabyte free during an introductory period.

This should not surprise anyone. Companies like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, et al., are state-owned monopolies in all but name. They are not state-owned, but the way the US government - both local and federal - protects them essentially makes them the equivalent of being state-owned. They have no competition, and they know it. There is no incentive for them to lower prices, improve service, or expand coverage to less important areas.

Meanwhile, here in The Netherlands (I can't speak for other countries), our government mandated that the owners of the physical cables provide access to other players, ensuring competition across the board, which has benefited all of us. Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure something like 95%-99% of Dutch households can get broadband internet via several different media and through several different ISPs. All because our government was smart enough to realise that it would take government intervention to ensure competition.

Of course, it's unfair to compare one of the smallest and most densely populated western countries to the United States, which is crazy large and has large stretches of impoverished areas that probably do not have access to the financial means to create a proper network infrastructure. Still, the US is supposed to be the richest country on earth, and if it really wanted to, it could definitely provide good broadband access to every American citizen at low prices.

It's just that the monopoly companies don't want to.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Aug 2014 21:13 UTC
Games

Everybody thought it would be Google, but it's actually Amazon.

Today, I'm pleased to announce we've been acquired by Amazon. We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster. We're keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon's support we'll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.

Most of the times some hot startup gets acquired it's some vague nonsense I don't care about, but Twitch - Twitch I care about. I use it almost every day, and seeing it in the hands of a company with zero presence in my home country and no history with video, streaming (like I said, Amazon has no presence here), or gaming makes me uneasy.

Twitch is one of the very rare cases where I would have actually preferred Google - or better put, YouTube - buy it. Google+ is by no universally accepted as a mistake, Google is backtracking from it, so that most likely would not have been an issue. The combination Twitch+YouTube looked great on paper - much better than Amazon+Twitch.

This acquisition has me worried for the future of Twitch.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Aug 2014 19:43 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Fans of mobile operating systems not called "Android" or 'iOS" might be sad to hear what Huawei's head honcho just told the Wall Street Journal. In an interview, Richard Yu spoke about the company's plans regarding Tizen, Windows Phone and a long-rumored homegrown OS, and basically said they were all doomed.

He's not wrong.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 24th Aug 2014 20:29 UTC, submitted by mikeanderson
BeOS & Derivatives

A very interesting discussion is taking place in the Haiku mailing list right now. A developer has created a working prototype implementation of the BeOS API layer on top of the Linux kernel, and he is wondering if the project is worth pursuing. He's got the App, Interface and Networking Kits in good shape within a few months' work.

While there are some minor downsides to having the kits on top of Linux (or one of the BSDs), the upsides include all the drivers in the world (well, the gpu driver situation could be a tad better), a rock solid kernel that works on all kinds of devices (who says BeOS can't run on a phone, mine can), and a working BeOS clone with comparatively little effort (as a musical engineer, my biggest worry was sound system latencies, but it turns out many Linux schedulers can easily be tuned to handle the loads I expect in a BeOS system.)

I think the Haiku project made a monumental mistake in not using an existing kernel - it's simply no longer practical for a small project to keep up with the hardware evolution, handling security requirements and so on. Sad but true, and it was sad but true back in 2001.

A very interesting and in-depth discussion follows. Both 'sides' make a lot of compelling arguments, and it gives a lot of insight into decisions that went into the Haiku project, both past and present. For once, I have no clear opinion on this matter; both sides have merit, and it in the end comes down to what the actual developers want to work on (hint: it's not Linux).

Still, the developer in question will be putting up a repository of his Linux work, so we'll get to see what it's like.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Aug 2014 16:09 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Mobile apps have skyrocketed in popularity and utility since Apple introduced the iPhone App Store in the summer of 2008. Apps now represent 52% of time spent with digital media in the US, according to comScore, up from 40% in early 2013. Apple boasted 75 billion all-time App Store downloads at its developers conference in June, and followed up by declaring July the best month ever for App Store revenue, with a record number of people downloading apps.

Yet most US smartphone owners download zero apps in a typical month, according to comScore's new mobile app report.

Companies like Apple like to boast about the 'app economy', but in reality, the situation is a whole lot less rosy and idealistic than they make it out to be. I think most smartphone buyers download the bare essentials like Facebook, Twitter, Candy Crush, and their local banking application, and call it quits.

Together with the problematic state of application stores, the 'app economy' isn't as sustainable as once thought.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Aug 2014 12:36 UTC
Windows

Microsoft is planning to unveil its Windows 8 successor next month at a special press event. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the software maker is tentatively planning its press event for September 30th to detail upcoming changes to Windows as part of a release codenamed "Threshold." This date may change, but the Threshold version of Windows is currently in development and Microsoft plans to release a preview version of what will likely be named Windows 9 to developers on September 30th or shortly afterwards. The date follows recent reports from ZDNet that suggested Microsoft is planning to release a preview version of Windows 9 in late September or early October.

Microsoft is really stepping up its release schedule. Good.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Aug 2014 21:59 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y

Two related stories.

Microsoft's Windows Store is a mess. It's full of apps that exist only to scam people and take their money. Why doesn't Microsoft care that their flagship app store is such a cesspool?

It's now been more than two years since Windows 8 was released, and this has been a problem the entire time, and it is getting worse. If Microsoft was trying to offer a safe app store to Windows users, they've failed.

And:

Flappy Bird wasn't the first game to spawn an entire ecosystem of me-too clones, nor will it be the last. And now that the developer of the insanely difficult but addicting game has released the even more insanely difficult and even more addicting (is that even possible?) Swing Copters, well, we're seeing it again.

This applies to all application stores. They are filled to the brim with crapware nobody wants, making the experience of using them pretty unappealing. Since Apple, Google, and Microsoft care about quantity instead of quality, I don't think this will change any time soon.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Aug 2014 18:15 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

China should end smartphone subsidies to overseas vendors and give more support to local brands, industry insiders said on Tuesday, as telecom carriers pledged to cut operating expenses and Apple Inc gets ready to debut its next-generation iPhone.

Xiang Ligang, a telecom researcher in Beijing, said cutting carriers' subsidies to foreign-made handsets will not only reduce carriers' operating expense but also leave local players with more market demand.

"It will be a one-stone-two-birds move for the Chinese smartphone industry," he said.

I'm all for doing the same here in Europe and overseas in the US - but, of course, only if it applies to all smartphones, regardless of origin. Let people see what they're really paying for their Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5s. Can you imagine if smartphone vendors and carriers can no longer mislead consumers?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Aug 2014 15:13 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

For every Android update, Google's release of code to OEMs starts an industry-wide race to get the new enhancements out to customers. So how did everyone do this year? Who was the first with KitKat, and who was the last? What effect does your carrier have on updates? How has the speed of Android updates changed compared to earlier years?

Nice overview that may help during your next purchasing decision, and which neatly illustrates Android's biggest weakness. Interestingly enough, it doesn't include non-stock ROMs.

 

Linked by jockm on Tue 19th Aug 2014 21:31 UTC
General Unix

Modern microcontrollers are becoming quite beefy. The Microchip PIC32 line is actually an implementation of the MIPS32 4K architecture - and with 512K of flash and 128K of RAM you can even run Unix! RetroBSD is a port of BSD 2.11 for the PIC32. You might not be able to run X11, but it is still very useful and a great reminder of how small Unix used to be - and how far it has come.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 19th Aug 2014 20:24 UTC
Windows

As expected, HTC has just announced a new smartphone with Windows Phone called the HTC One M8 for Windows. The new device is the same as the HTC One M8 with Android, albeit it comes with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 preinstalled.

Sounds great, especially since it may be possible to dual boot or switch operating systems once the XDA crowd gets its hands on this thing. But then...

The HTC One M8 for Windows is an exclusive device for U.S. carrier Verizon.

Yeah. Good luck, with that.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Aug 2014 22:39 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Via TechCrunch:

You want to play Adventure, but don't know how to turn on the PDP-11? These instructions are for booting our dual rack machine from its RL01 drives, although booting the single cabinet machine from the RK05 is very similar.

How to boot a PDP-11. Yes.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Aug 2014 22:34 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

While the article focuses on Jim Yurchenco's work on building Apple's first mouse, as a Palm adept, I'm obviously more interested in his other great contribution to the computing world: he built the Palm V.

"That was a really important product for us, and the industry", Yurchenco says. "It was one of the first cases where the physical design - the feel and touch points - were considered to be as important as the performance." That wasn't lost on users; the device sold like wild and helped shape modern gadget-lust. Ars Technica's review of the device came with a disclaimer: "Remember, if you don't intend to buy a Palm V, under no circumstances should you allow yourself to look/touch/hold/feel/smell/see/inspect/rub/behold/taste or have any type of contact with one."

I touched upon this in a lot of detail in my Palm retrospective, but in this day and age of iOS vs. Android, wherein everybody seems to think the portable computer era started with the iPhone, it can't be stressed enough just how much Apple - and thus, the entire current smartphone industry - owes to Palm. Whether it's software - iOS draws heavily from Palm OS - or hardware. I wrote:

The Pilots that had come before were strictly utilitarian, focused on businessmen and women instead of general consumers. The Palm V changed all this. Its shape would define the company's products for years to come. It had smooth curved sides with a slightly wider bottom than top section, making it all not only look distinct and beautiful, but also very comfortable to hold. Whether you looked at other PDAs, smartphones, or mobile phones of its era - there was nothing else like it. Everybody else was building plastic monstrosities.

[...]

The Palm V was a smashing success. For the first time, a mobile computing device was designed to be beautiful, and "it turned out to be very successful. We turned it into a personal artefact, or a personal piece of jewellery or something and [Microsoft] couldn't compete with that," according to Hawkins.

The Palm V made pocket computing fashionable. The relationship between Palm OS and iOS is very thick - but so is the one between the Palm V and the iPhone.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Aug 2014 20:47 UTC
Internet & Networking

Founded in 2010 and based in San Francisco, Nextdoor is a odd outlier among today's social networks. Signing up is an onerous process, requiring substantial proof of both your identification and address. People post messages, but they are seen only by others in the immediate area, and there is no share or retweet button to proliferate messages across the network. It feels more like a modern update on a message board or web forum than a social network. But it has struck a chord across the country. When The Verge first reported on Nextdoor back in July of 2012, it was in 3,500 neighborhoods. Today, the company is announcing that it reached 40,000 neighborhoods, or roughly one in four American communities, with 10 or more active users.

I had never heard of Nextdoor, but it sounds fascinating. Where Facebook has become an endless stream of crap because people willy-nilly added everyone to their friends list (tip: don't do that. I mostly only 'friend' people I truly care about and lo and behold, my Facebook feed is always interesting), Nextdoor prevents that by focusing solely on the people around you - literally around you.

I would love for this to come to The Netherlands. Sounds very useful in, say, remote communities.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Aug 2014 14:48 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Since the introduction of the Apple iPhone in 2007, the design and function of most modern smartphones have not changed much. And that appears to be the case this upcoming season. Nearly all of the phones are expected to be sequels to existing models.

PCs have been the same for decades. Laptops have been the same for decades. Smartphones will be the same for decades. Get used to it.