Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 22nd Mar 2018 00:04 UTC

LineageOS is an operating system for everyone: from the average user to the advanced developer. While users have a giant playground in their hands with many customization options, we also want to make LineageOS a fun place for developers. The standards for official builds help ensure developers that their app will not end up in a bad state because of inappropriate Android API changes or broken hardware support, but this is not enough for us; we're announcing some new APIs that will allow your apps to do more when they're running on a LineageOS-powered device.

The Lineage platform SDK (LineageSDK for short) is a powerful resource that allows us to both keep our features out of the core Android frameworks (for better security and easier bringup processes) and expose some extra functionality to app developers.

We'll have to wait and see if developers are willing to add some code to their Android applications for the features in this SDK.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 21st Mar 2018 23:54 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

After days of silence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded to the controversy over the 2014 leak of private Facebook user data to a firm that went on to do political consulting work for the Donald Trump campaign in 2016.

Cambridge Analytica got the data by paying a psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, to create a Facebook personality quiz that harvested data not only about its own users but also about users' friends. Kogan amassed data from around 50 million users and turned it over to Cambridge.

Zuckerberg says that when Facebook learned about this transfer in 2015, it got Kogan and Cambridge to certify that they had deleted the data. But media reports this weekend suggested that Cambridge had lied and retained the data throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

This whole thing should make everyone think twice about how - and if - they should keep using Facebook. I've personally always been incredibly careful about what data I put on Facebook and I've rarely - if ever - used any Facebook 'apps', but in the end, you don't even need to feed Facebook any data for them to figure out who you are and what you're interested in. It's actually remarkably easy to extrapolate a whole lot about you from simple things like the times you're online, or which sites with Facebook social trackers you visit, and so on.

I trust Google with such forms of data, but not Facebook. If it wasn't for my friends, I'd delete my Facebook account in a heartbeat. My hope is that this story - which has certainly permeated beyond tech media into the mainstream media - will push more and more of the people around me to consider leaving Facebook.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 20th Mar 2018 18:33 UTC, submitted by jcarrascal
OSNews, Generic OSes

Pretty big news out of LG - they're releasing their variant of webOS - the TV and smartwatch one - as open source.

webOS is a web-centric and usability-focused software platform for smart devices. The operating system has constantly evolved, passing through its journey from Palm to HP, and most recently to LG Electronics. Now, we are releasing webOS as an open source project, named webOS Open Source Edition (OSE).

This marks the second time webOS has been released as open source. It's released under the Apache License, version 2, and there's instructions for getting it to run on a Raspberry Pi 3.

We are a truly open project. You will see us working in the open like any community member, so you can see what we're doing in real time. We operate using typical open practices: the Project uses the Apache 2.0 license, is hosted on GitHub, and accepts contributions via a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) approach. As the community grows and individuals and organizations emerge who make significant contributions, it is our intention to invite them into the governance of the Project.

It seems like a truly open project, but at the same time, one has to wonder what this means for webOS' commercial future at LG. The cold and harsh truth is that moves like this generally mean the end of commercial viability, not the beginning. This isn't necessarily a problem though - at least this move ensures the code and operating system will continue to exist.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 20th Mar 2018 18:14 UTC

Can two programmers who are accustomed to making games for modern computers with gigabytes of RAM and high-color HD displays port one of their games to MS-DOS? Neither of us had any experience developing on such old hardware, but since working within artificially limited systems is something of a Zachtronics game design specialty, we felt compelled to try!


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 17th Mar 2018 01:47 UTC

For Windows Insiders in the Skip Ahead ring, we will begin testing a change where links clicked on within the Windows Mail app will open in Microsoft Edge, which provides the best, most secure and consistent experience on Windows 10 and across your devices. With built-in features for reading, note-taking, Cortana integration, and easy access to services such as SharePoint and OneDrive, Microsoft Edge enables you to be more productive, organized and creative without sacrificing your battery life or security.

I'm one of those weird people who actually really like the default Windows 10 Mail application, but if this absolutely desperate, user-hostile move - which ignores any default browser setting - makes it into any definitive Windows 10 release, I won't be able to use it anymore.

As always, we look forward to feedback from our WIP community.

Oh you'll get something to look forward to alright.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 17th Mar 2018 01:40 UTC

If you blink during Apple’s latest iPhone ad, you might miss a weird little animation bug. It’s right at the end of a slickly produced commercial, where the text from an iMessage escapes the animated bubble it’s supposed to stay inside. It’s a minor issue and easy to brush off, but the fact it’s captured in such a high profile ad just further highlights Apple’s many bugs in iOS 11.

The fact Apple's marketing department signed off on this ad with such a bug in it is baffling.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 17th Mar 2018 01:36 UTC

As our technology and partnerships have evolved, so have our users. In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone. So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we’re announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all - the people who wear our watches. We’re now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone.

If a company changes the name of one of its operating system, but nobody cares - has the name really been changed?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 15th Mar 2018 00:52 UTC
Amiga & AROS

There exists a global community, a loosely knit consciousness of individuals that crosses boundaries of language and artistic disciplines. It resides in both the online and physical space, its followers are dedicated, if not fervent. The object and to some extent, philosophy that unites these adherents, is a computer system called the Commodore Amiga. So why does a machine made by a company that went bankrupt in 1994 have a cult like following? Throughout this essay I will present to you, the reader, a study of qualitative data that has been collected at community events, social gatherings and conversations. The resulting narrative is intended to illuminate the origins of the community, how it is structured and how members participate in it. Game industry professionals, such as the person interviewed during the research for this paper, will attest to the properties, characteristics and creative application of the machine, and how this creativity plays a role in the sphere of their community. I will examine the bonds of the society, to determine if the creative linage of the computer plays a role in community interactions.

The Amiga community is probably one of the most fascinating technology subcommunity out there. Lots of infighting, various competing Amiga operating systems, incredibly expensive but still outdated hardware, dubious ownership situations - it's all there. Yet, they keep going, they keep pushing out new software and new hardware, and they're in no danger of falling apart.



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 15th Mar 2018 00:46 UTC

Spotify is finally gearing up to go public, and the company’s February 28th filing with the SEC offers a detailed look at its finances. More than a decade after Spotify’s launch in 2006, the world’s leading music streaming service is still struggling to turn a profit, reporting a net loss of nearly $1.5 billion last year. Meanwhile, the company has some weird lawsuits hanging over its head, the most eye-popping being the $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by Wixen Publishing, a music publishing company that includes the likes of Tom Petty, The Doors, and Rage Against the Machine.

So, what happened here? Did Spotify really fail to pay artists to the tune of a billion dollars all the while losing money? Is digital streaming just a black hole that sucks up money and spits it out into the cold vacuum of space?

The answer is complicated.

The answer involves something called "player pianos". You can't make this stuff up.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Mar 2018 00:49 UTC

Through the advent of Meltdown and Spectre, there is a heightened element of nervousness around potential security flaws in modern high-performance processors, especially those that deal with the core and critical components of company business and international infrastructure. Today, CTS-Labs, a security company based in Israel, has published a whitepaper identifying four classes of potential vulnerabilities of the Ryzen, EPYC, Ryzen Pro, and Ryzen Mobile processor lines. AMD is in the process of responding to the claims, but was only given 24 hours of notice rather than the typical 90 days for standard vulnerability disclosure. No official reason was given for the shortened time.

Nothing in technology is safe. As always, my advice is to treat any data on a phone or computer as potentially compromisable.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Mar 2018 00:43 UTC

President Trump on Monday blocked Broadcom's $117 billion bid for the chip maker Qualcomm, citing national security concerns and sending a clear signal that he was willing to take extraordinary measures to promote his administration’s increasingly protectionist stance.

In a presidential order, Mr. Trump said "credible evidence" had led him to believe that if Singapore-based Broadcom were to acquire control of Qualcomm, it "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States." The acquisition, if it had gone through, would have been the largest technology deal in history.

This US administration would eventually stumble onto doing the right thing - infinite monkeys and all that - so here we are. To explain why this is a good move, Ben Thompson's article about this issue is a fantastic, must-read explainer.

There is a certain amount of irony here: the government is intervening in the private market to stop the sale of a company that is being bought because of government-granted monopolies. Sadly, I doubt it will occur to anyone in government to fix the problem at its root, and Qualcomm would be the first to fight against the precise measures - patent overhaul - that would do more than anything to ensure the company remains independent and incentivized to spend even more on innovation, because its future would depend on innovation to a much greater degree than it does now.

The reality is that technology has flipped the entire argument for patents - that they spur innovation - completely on its head. The very nature of technology - that costs are fixed and best maximized over huge user-bases, along with the presence of network effects - mean there are greater returns to innovation than ever before. The removal of most technology patents would not reduce the incentive to innovate; indeed, given that a huge number of software patents in particular are violated on accident (unsurprising, given that software is ultimately math), their removal would spur more. And, as Qualcomm demonstrates, one could even argue such a shift would be good for national security.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Mar 2018 01:10 UTC, submitted by judgen

TrueOS, formerly PC-BSD, has a desktop environment called Lumina. It's getting a big overhaul for Lumina 2.0, and this short interview gives some more details about what's coming.

With Lumina Desktop 2.0 we will finally achieve our long-term goal of turning Lumina into a complete, end-to-end management system for the graphical session and removing all the current runtime dependencies from Lumina 1.x (Fluxbox, xscreensaver, compton/xcompmgr). The functionality from those utilities is now provided by Lumina Desktop itself.


The entire graphical interface has been written in QML in order to fully-utilize hardware-based GPU acceleration with OpenGL while the backend logic and management systems are still written entirely in C++. This results in blazing fast performance on the backend systems (myriad multi-threaded C++ objects) as well as a smooth and responsive graphical interface with all the bells and whistles (drag and drop, compositing, shading, etc).


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Mar 2018 01:03 UTC

We often see people funneling their passion into keeping beloved devices in operation long past their manufacturer’s intent. These replacement Thinkpad motherboards [Chinese] bring old (yet beloved) Thinkpads a much desired processor upgrade. This is the work of the user [HOPE] on the enthusiast forum 51nb. The hack exemplifies what happens when that passion for legendary gear hits deep electrical expertise and available manufacturing. This isn’t your regular laptop refurbishment, [HOPE] is building something new.

This is incredible. I wish someone could do this with an iBook G4 or a 12.1" PowerBook.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 11th Mar 2018 22:07 UTC

Google has released the first preview for Android P - again, apologies for the late coverage - and it contains some interesting improvements. Here's a few things that jumped out at me:

To better ensure privacy, Android P restricts access to mic, camera, and all SensorManager sensors from apps that are idle. While your app's UID is idle, the mic reports empty audio and sensors stop reporting events. Cameras used by your app are disconnected and will generate an error if the app tries to use them. In most cases, these restrictions should not introduce new issues for existing apps, but we recommend removing these requests from your apps.

This is a very good move, and I doubt anyone will have any objections.

In line with these changes, Android P will warn users with a dialog when they install an app that targets a platform earlier than Android 4.2 (targetSdkVersion less than 17), and future platform versions will continue to increment that lower bound.

Expect scary warning dialogs when installing older applications. This should encourage developers to update their applications as users complain in the review sections of the Play Store. Hopefully.

You can now access streams simultaneously from two or more physical cameras on devices running Android P. On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, you can create innovative features not possible with just a single camera, such as seamless zoom, bokeh, and stereo vision. The API also lets you call a logical or fused camera stream that automatically switches between two or more cameras.

Definitely neat.

There's a lot more stuff in this preview release, and more features will certainly follow over the coming months.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 11th Mar 2018 22:00 UTC

I came down with a nasty cold last week and this weekend, so I'm a bit behind on some of the stories that made the rounds last week. In other words, forgive the tardiness here.

Whether you’re a developer who's working on mobile apps, or just someone enjoying the millions of apps available for your phone, today is a very special day. It's the ten year anniversary of the original iPhone SDK.

I don't think it's an understatement to say that this release changed a lot of people's lives. I know it changed mine and had a fundamental impact on this company's business. So let's take a moment and look back on what happened a decade ago.

The smartphone revolution - caused by the iPhone - came in two big waves, in my view; the iPhone itself, and, followed a year or so later, by the release of the iPhone SDK. It's easy to forget just how limited the original iPhone really was in terms of software, and I honestly doubt it would've been as big of a hit had it not been for the SDK.


Linked by nfeske on Fri 9th Mar 2018 01:02 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

The just released version 18.02 of the Genode OS Framework features the first version of Sculpt, which is a Genode-based general-purpose operating system. To our knowledge, it is the first usable open-source general-purpose OS that facilitates capability-based security from the ground up.

Being currently targeted at users that are close to the project, this initial version is named Sculpt for Early Adopters (EA). It is accompanied with detailed documentation that covers everything needed to install Sculpt on a real machine. The topics include the creation of the boot image, disk preparation, wireless networking, storage, software installation and deployment, and virtualization. Along the way, many concepts that are unique to Genode are explained.

Without any doubt, most topics of Genode 18.02 were motivated by the work on Sculpt. Most importantly, the release introduces new infrastructure for installing, updating, and deploying software from within a running Genode system. The underlying concepts are very much inspired by Git and the Nix package manager, enabling the installation of multiple software versions side by side, or the ability to roll back the installation to an earlier state. Also the on-target tooling breaks with the traditional notion of package management. Instead of executing package-management steps with vast privileges, each single step, for example extracting downloaded content, is executed in a dedicated sandbox.

Besides Sculpt, the Genode release 18.02 also includes many other noteworthy improvements. E.g., the user-level networking stack received a lot of attention, the Nim programming language can now be used for implementing Genode services, there are new tracing facilities, and improved drivers support for NXP i.MX hardware. Furthermore, many 3rd-party software packages received updates. All the improvements are covered by the detailed release documentation.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Mar 2018 20:12 UTC

Microsoft is once again tackling privacy concerns around Windows 10 today. The software giant is releasing a new test build of Windows 10 to Windows Insiders today that includes changes to the privacy controls for the operating system. While most privacy settings have been confined to a single screen with multiple options, Microsoft is testing a variety of ways that will soon change.

There have been some concerns that Windows 10 has a built-in “keylogger,” because the operating system uses typing data to improve autocompletion, next word prediction, and spelling correction. Microsoft’s upcoming spring update for Windows 10 will introduce a separate screen to enable improved inking and typing recognition, and allow users to opt-out of sending inking and typing data to Microsoft.

I doubt any of these changes will reassure people who refuse to use Windows because of privacy concerns.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Mar 2018 20:08 UTC

As of Chrome 64, Chrome for Windows is compiled with Clang. We now use Clang to build Chrome for all platforms it runs on: macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows. Windows is the platform with the second most Chrome users after Android according to statcounter, which made this switch particularly exciting.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Mar 2018 00:17 UTC
Internet & Networking

In the beginning there was NCSA Mosaic, and Mosaic called itself NCSA_Mosaic/2.0 (Windows 3.1), and Mosaic displayed pictures along with text, and there was much rejoicing.

I've always wondered why every user agent string starts with Mozilla, and now I know. Fun read, too.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Mar 2018 00:13 UTC

I’ve been coming to Mobile World Congress for close to a decade now, and I’ve never seen the iPhone copied quite so blatantly and cynically as I witnessed during this year’s show. MWC 2018 will go down in history as the launch platform for a mass of iPhone X notch copycats, each of them more hastily and sloppily assembled than the next.

No effort is being made to emulate the complex Face ID system that resides inside Apple’s notch; companies like Noa and Ulefone are in such a hurry to get their iPhone lookalike on the market that they haven’t even customized their software to account for the new shape of the screen. More than one of these notched handsets at MWC had the clock occluded by the curved corner of the display.

I have an iPhone X, and the notch doesn't bother me at all. Face ID works reasonably well - not as good as Touch ID, but good enough - and thus, gives the notch a reason to exist in the first place. I don't feel particularly strongly towards either Samsung's small chin/forehead solution, or Essential's/Apple's notch solution, and I'm glad it at least creates some visual difference between phones. However, if you decide to go with a notch, don't just copy Apple's shape while not actually putting anything underneath it.

I can't believe this is truly going to be a thing.