Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 1st Feb 2015 22:08 UTC
Android

In the spirit of continued transparency, I wanted to share a quick update on where we're at with our Android Lollipop rollout process. We've been working hard in the labs with Google and our carrier partners ever since the code release and are making great progress so far, but if you've been following the progress of this rollout you will know that Google has had to address several issues with this release. We've been diligently working to fix some of them on our end and incorporating Google's fixes as quickly as possible, but despite everyone's best efforts some carrier versions of the HTC One (M8) and HTC One (M7) will not meet our 90 day goal, which is February 1st. While we are committed to delivering within this time period, we are even more committed to ensuring these updates result in an even better experience with your device because that is what the updates are intended to do.

I applaud HTC for doing everything it can to reach its own 90 day promise, and it really sucks for them and their customers that bugs from Google itself causes delays. Android updates remain an utter and total mess, and by far Android's biggest weakness.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 30th Jan 2015 23:49 UTC
Mac OS X

Back in the days of Mac OS X 10.2-10.4, I toyed with backporting some of my programming projects, originally developed in Carbon with Project Builder, to MacOS 9, and downloaded MPW (since it was free, and CodeWarrior was not) to do so. The Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop was Apple’s own development environment for developing Mac apps, tracing its lineage from the Lisa Programmer’s Workshop, which was originally the only way to develop Mac apps (yes, in 1984 you could not develop Mac software on the Mac itself).

A follow-up from last week's MPW story.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 30th Jan 2015 23:45 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Following delays of over a year, Samsung finally shipped its first Tizen-powered handset, the Z1, earlier this month in India. The arrival of Tizen on smartphones - remember it's been on Samsung's Gear smartwatches for almost a year now - has been a long time coming, and there's been plenty of speculation among press and mobile industry watchers that Tizen could emerge as a viable alternative to Android for the Korean electronics giant.

What we've found during our initial hands-on time with an Indian Samsung Z1, however, is a phone that's very much at ease with Google's ecosystem.

I want one of these - if only to see what Samsung can build if they're not just shipping Android.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 30th Jan 2015 21:04 UTC
Features, Office

The highlight of the new release is a far-reaching visual refresh, with menus, toolbars, status bars, and more being updated to look and work better. While LibreOffice retains the traditional menus-and-toolbars approach that Microsoft abandoned in Office 2007, the new version is meant to make those menus and toolbars easier to navigate.

What are the reasons to use either OpenOffice or LibeOffice?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Jan 2015 23:46 UTC
Apple

While there was no other information available on the paper’s website, the tweet echoes a report in the Beijing News (link in Chinese) that Apple chief executive Tim Cook informed Lu last month that Apple would let China's State Internet Information Office conduct "security checks" on all products that it sells on the mainland. China has been concerned that Apple devices like the iPhone enable the company - or worse, US intelligence agencies - to spy on Chinese citizens.

[...]

What would "security checks" entail? Apple hasn't provided any information on the matter and did not respond to requests for comment. But analysts said the most likely interpretation is that the company is giving Beijing access to its operating system source code in return for being able to continue to do business in China - arguably Apple's most important market, but one that has been imperiled by regulatory obstacles.

This whole story seems highly unlikely to me. If Apple were to give the Chinese government access to the iOS source code, it'd leak all around the web in no-time. Even if Apple could somehow get a 100% guarantee that there would be no leaks, this whole thing seems incredibly un-Apple. Then again - it may simply be a fait accompli for Apple; if the Chinese government demands source code access in order for Apple to keep operating in the Chinese market, Apple may simply have no choice but to comply.

Even if this story is true, the only possible way I could remotely see this work is Apple setting up a special, dedicated office on its own premises where Chinese government officials get a peek.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Jan 2015 23:33 UTC, submitted by krakal
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Working one day in August of 2007, I couldn't help but realize that my regular PC keyboard didn't serve me as much as possible. I had to move my hands between the various blocks of my keyboard excessively, hundreds if not thousands of times per day, and my hands were uncomfortably close to each other. There must be a better way, I thought.

This realization was followed by an overwhelming feeling of excitement as I thought about creating the perfect hacker keyboard 0 and later, the realization that, as a software developer, I was hopelessly clueless about hardware.

 

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.