Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Jul 2018 11:18 UTC
Legal

Update: here's the full press release. Here's the three main violations:

In particular, Google:

  • has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google's app store (the Play Store);
  • made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and
  • has prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google (so-called "Android forks").

Original article continues below.


Google has been hit with a record-breaking €4.3 billion ($5 billion) fine by EU regulators for breaking antitrust laws. The European Commission says Google has abused its Android market dominance by bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system. Google has also allegedly blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android, and "made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators" to exclusively bundle the Google Search app on handsets.

I'm okay with bundling applications, but I'm 100% opposed to large corporations like Google blocking competing companies from running forked versions of Android - allowed through Android's licensing - and wealthy corporations basically buying dominance by sending large sums of money to in this case carriers and manufacturers that smaller companies could never afford.

That being said, I do feel like the way we determine what is and is not corporate behaviour damaging to consumers and the market needs some serious overhaul. I've asked this question on OSNews before, but even though Apple doesn't have the market share to qualify as a monopoly, does anyone really want to argue that Apple - which sucks up virtually all of the profits in the handset market, despite its small marketshare - does not have power and influence over the mobile market akin to Google's? Which player has more influence over a market - the player with 10% market share sucking up 90% of the profits, or the player with 90% marketshare sucking up only 10% of the profits?

I'm no economist so I'm not going to claim I know the answer, but it sure does seem like relying solely on market share to evaluate market dominance seems shortsighted, at best.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Jul 2018 22:45 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Pull a USB flash drive out of your Mac without first clicking to eject it, and you'll get a stern, shameful warning: "Disk Not Ejected Properly."

But do you really need to eject a thumb drive the right way?

Probably not. Just wait for it to finish copying your data, give it a few seconds, then yank. To be on the cautious side, be more conservative with external hard drives, especially the old ones that actually spin.

That's not the official procedure, nor the most conservative approach. And in a worst-case scenario, you risk corrupting a file or - even more unlikely - the entire storage device.

This is terrible advice for regular users, but I have to admit that I, too, don't really use the safe eject features of operating systems, unless I want to eject right after completing a write operation.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Jul 2018 22:42 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Scientists have just packed 18 qubits - the most basic units of quantum computing - into just six weirdly connected photons. That's an unprecedented three qubits per photon, and a record for the number of qubits linked to one another via quantum entanglement.

So why is this exciting?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Jul 2018 22:40 UTC
Games

Combating cheats is an ever-evolving arms race. The scope and complexity of cheat development grows every year along with the stakes in online gaming. The pressure is on for game studios to level up when it comes to detecting and preventing bad actors. I'm Michael "Perma" VanKuipers, and I used to be one of those bad actors; I spent over a decade developing cheats for various games and earned the ire of at least one large game studio in the process. These days I work on Riot's Anti-Cheat team, helping secure League of Legends from scripts, bots, and exploits. In this article, I'm going to show you some of the details and strategies behind our latest anti-cheat initiative, including a technical overview of the steps we took to mitigate certain types of cheating.

I've been playing League of Legends for six years, and I may (I wasn't sure) have seen cheating once or twice. Riot's work seems to be paying off.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Jul 2018 22:37 UTC
Slackware, Slax

On July 16th, 1993, Slackware Linux distribution was officially released. Based entirely on the Softlanding Linux System (SLS) system, it was designed for the machines with a 3.5" boot floppy. Over the past 25 years, Slackware has turned out to be one of the most influential Linux distros around.

Truly a staple of the Linux world.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Jul 2018 22:35 UTC
Microsoft

Coming over the summer, Microsoft is going to add integrated call recording (something that previously required third-party applications and a deprecated API), read receipts to show when a message recipient has read a message, and end-to-end encryption of text and audio chat using the Signal protocol.

Microsoft is also making Skype audio and video calls easier to integrate into streams such as those used on Mixer and Twitch. Support for the NDI API means that streaming applications such as Xsplit and OBS can use a Skype call as an audio/video source. That means they can be overlaid on games or other content, just as is already done with webcam input.

[...]

There is, however, a price to pay for this: the traditional Win32 Skype client is being end-of-lifed and will not be supported beyond the end of August this year. Users of the Win32 client will have to upgrade to Skype 8.0 (the desktop version of the new unified app) in order to be able to continue to use the network.

Another staple Win32 application bites the dust. Don't read anything into it though, since people still seem convinced Win32 has a future.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Jul 2018 18:43 UTC
Games

NVIDIA this month is unifying its GeForce NOW service across all platforms that it supports, extending the latest iteration of the service for PCs and Macs to include NVIDIA's SHIELD TV consoles. From now on, all 225 games supported by the game streaming service will also run on the Android TV STB.

The gaming industry's wet dream: no physical media, no downloaded games - just streaming.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Jul 2018 18:41 UTC
Games

Twitch, the leading live streaming platform where people play games, make crafts, and showcase their day-to-day lives, attracts over two million broadcasters every month. The number grows each year, thanks in part to how easy it has become to live stream, and platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube also increasingly encourage people to share and watch live stories. With the push of a button on your game console or phone, you can share whatever you’re doing at that exact moment with friends and strangers alike. The rise of popular (and profitable) influencers on platforms like YouTube and Twitch has also made the idea of being an online influencer aspirational. Some parents note that their children pretend to unbox toys to a nonexistent audience, and teachers report that their students often say they want to pursue YouTubing as a career. But when seemingly everyone wants to record footage or live stream, who ends up watching the content?

Starting a career on platforms like Twitch often means spending some time broadcasting to absolutely no one. Discoverability is an issue: when you log into Twitch, the most visible people are those who already have a large following. While there are tools to find lesser-known streamers, most people starting out without built-in audiences from other platforms or supportive friends and family end up staring at a big, fat zero on their viewership counter. This lonely live stream purgatory can last anywhere from a few days, weeks, months, sometimes even years, depending on your luck. According to people who have gone through it, lacking an audience is one of the most demoralizing things you can experience online.

This story feels so sad. Building and maintaining an audience is really hard, especially when you're dependent on platforms like YouTube and Twitch who can pull the rug out from underneath you at any time.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 15th Jul 2018 22:04 UTC
Amiga & AROS

These are some notes on how to run Amiga like OSes (like AROS, AmigaOS and MorphOS) on QEMU that I've written to have some up to date info on the status and help new users. All this emulation in QEMU comes without any support and it's not expected to be complete or do everything one may desire or dream about. It's not a commercial product with a roadmap or any goal and still a work in progress which may never get finished. I'm doing it for personal interest and in my (limited) free time, no donations are solicited or accepted. So don't expect it to be anything more than a curiosity at the moment and its future depends on what the open source community makes of it. Keep this in mind when trying this.

I'm giving this visibility so hopefully QEMU's PowerPC support for these Amiga-like operating systems can be improved.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 15th Jul 2018 22:00 UTC
Windows

Microsoft is giving its Notepad app for Windows a surprising amount of new features. While the software giant hasn’t updated Notepad for years, the next Windows 10 update will include some highly requested additions. Microsoft is clearly listening to Windows 10 users who use notepad for development, logs, or simple text manipulation.

You’ll soon be able to do wrap around find and replace alongside the ability to zoom into text by holding down the ctrl key and using the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Microsoft is also adding in extended line ending support so that Unix/Linux line endings (LF) and Macintosh line endings (CR) are supported in Notepad. The status bar will now be enabled by default in Notepad, and it includes the ability to display line and column numbers when word-wrap is enabled.

I'd like to make a request for what Windows 3.11-esque application Microsoft should tackle next.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 15th Jul 2018 21:55 UTC
Android

As someone who spends a lot of time with smartphones, I often get asked, "Hey Ron, what Android phone should I buy?" The high-end answer is usually easy: buy a Pixel phone. But not everyone is willing to shell out $650+ for a smartphone, especially the types of casual users that ask for advice. Beyond the flagship smartphones, things get more difficult within the Android ecosystem. Motorola under Google used to be great at building a non-flagship phone, but since the company was sold to Lenovo (which gutted the update program), it has been tough to find a decent phone that isn't super expensive.

Enter HMD's Nokia phones, an entire lineup of cheap smartphones ranging from $100 to $400. HMD recently launched the second generation of its lineup, with phones like the Nokia 2.1, 3.1, and 5.1. We recently spent time with the highest end phone in this series that happens to be one of the few HMD devices for sale in the US: the Nokia 6.1. And for $269, you get a pretty spectacular-sounding package of a Snapdragon 630, a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, stock Android 8.1, fast updates, and a metal body.

Nokia's Android phones seem well underway to become the default choice for people who want a good Android phone with fast updates at a decent price.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 15th Jul 2018 21:52 UTC
Debian and its clones

The Debian project is pleased to announce the fifth update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename stretch). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old stretch media. After installation, packages can be upgraded to the current versions using an up-to-date Debian mirror.

I'm not a fan of publishing items for every single distribution release - other sites do that way better than I ever could - but there are a few distributions I do try to keep up with, and considering just how fundamental Debian is to many popular Linux distributions, it's always been an exception.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 15th Jul 2018 21:50 UTC
Google

Chrome is getting a major redesign soon, and this week new changes have started to land in the Chrome's nightly "Canary" build. Google is launching a new version of Material Design across its products, called the "Google Material Theme," and after debuting in Android P and Gmail.com, it's starting to roll out across other Google's major products. On Chrome, this means major changes to the tab and address bar.

I haven't tried the new redesign yet - I don't use Chrome anyway - but judging by the screenshots, I can't say I'm a fan.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 15th Jul 2018 14:26 UTC
Games

In what feels like The Games Story Of The Year, during the Steam summer sale the much reviled Gearbox title Aliens: Colonial Marines was marked down to a stupidly low three dollars. A modder happened to notice that in the INI file for the game, there is a single typo that is - get this - responsible for many of the awful AI choices that the xenomorphs make in the game... Like running directly at you on their hind legs instead of crawling on the walls and using ducts to surprise you. A once horribly broken game is now... Functioning? Thanks to a single letter? Sure. That's about at 2018 as a games industry story can get.

This is amazing.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Jul 2018 00:19 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The PC market has seen its first growth quarter in six years, according to research firm Gartner. The streak is over: Gartner found PC shipments were up globally in Q2 2018, the first quarter of year-over-year global PC shipment growth since the first quarter of 2012.

Gartner estimates that worldwide PC shipments grew 1.4 percent to 62.1 million units in Q2 2018. The top five vendors were Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, and Acer. Lenovo in particular saw big gains (its highest growth rate since the first quarter of 2015), although that's largely due in part to the inclusion of units from its joint venture with Fujitsu.

The economic crisis is over, and people and companies are buying PCs again.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 13th Jul 2018 22:28 UTC
Windows

Multiple sources have told me that Microsoft plans to overhaul the software and hardware before releasing the device. At this time, the software and hardware do not create a compelling solution that would move the needle for Microsoft and more importantly the Surface brand which is why when it came to the ‘go, no go’ decision earlier this year, it was not given the green light.

[...]

What you need to know about Andromeda is that the project is still alive inside of Microsoft but that it will not be released anytime soon. The company will re-work the hardware and software, see if it will move the needle, and if not, re-work again, until they find the right formula. Microsoft will not ship a project simply because the first phase is done, they are trying to get this right so that they don’t have another Lumia/Surface RT project on their hands.

There's just not enough UWP applications at this point in time to support such a device.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Jul 2018 23:26 UTC
Games

Fans of the early-2000s era GameCube version of the original Animal Crossing likely remember the game including a handful of emulated NES titles that could be played by obtaining in-game items for your house. What players back then didn't know is that the NES emulator in Animal Crossing can also be used to play any generic NES ROM stored on a GameCube memory card.

One has to wonder if there's any code from open source emulators in there.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Jul 2018 23:24 UTC
Windows

Synaptics and AMD today announced that they're teaming up on a biometric security solution for consumer and business PCs built on AMD platforms. But for Microsoft watchers, the most curious portion of the announcement is that the biometric tech is squarely focused on a mysterious "next-generation operating system" from Microsoft.

[...]

It's not entirely clear what the biometric security OS is that Synaptics is referring to, as Microsoft itself hasn't announced any forthcoming releases. However, it could be related to a Microsoft project called Polaris, a more modern version of Windows 10 for desktops that Windows Central senior editor Zac Bowden reported on earlier this year.

Built on an internal project called Windows Core OS, which aims to turn Windows into a modular OS, Polaris is said to focus on desktop, laptop, and 2-in-1 form factors. The goal of Polaris is to provide a shell that Windows users are familiar with, but while leaving behind legacy components in favor of UWP apps. According to our reporting, Polaris would still be able to utilize some form of virtualization to run Win32 programs. However, dropping legacy cruft would, in theory, allow Microsoft to create a more secure version of Windows 10.

That's basically what I've been wanting Microsoft to do for a decade now, so I hope this is actually true. It'd be a big, bold move, but Win32 has run its course, and it needs to be contained and phased out.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Jul 2018 21:51 UTC
Google

Google's Chrome browser is undergoing a major architectural change to enable a protection designed to blunt the threat of attacks related to the Spectre vulnerability in computer processors. If left unchecked by browsers or operating systems, such attacks may allow hackers to pluck passwords or other sensitive data out of computer memory when targets visit malicious sites.

Site isolation, as the mitigation is known, segregates code and data from each Internet domain into their own "renderer processes," which are individual browser tasks that aren't allowed to interact with each other. As a result, a page located at arstechnica.com that embeds ads from doubleclick.net will load content into two separate renderer processes, one for each domain. The protection, however, comes at a cost. It consumes an additional 10 to 13 percent of total memory. Some of the performance hit can be offset by smaller and shorter-lived renderer processes. Site isolation will also allow Chrome to re-enable more precise timers, which Google and most other browser makers disabled earlier this year to decrease chances of successful attacks.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Jul 2018 18:25 UTC
Games

The collectability of Nintendo's "classic mini" consoles cannot be overstated. Even after restocking the NES Classic Edition's original limited supply this year, the company has barely been able to keep up with demand for both its NES- and SNES-flavored dips back into the nostalgia pool, in the West or elsewhere.

But if you thought those systems were limited and coveted enough, you ain't seen nothing. This week, Nintendo went one further by releasing a special-colored, new-games version of one of these systems, designed and marketed specifically for fans of Japanese Shonen Jump manga series like Dragon Ball, Captain Tsubasa, and Fist of the North Star.

Shortly before Amazon Japan sold out of its allocation on Sunday morning, we slammed down $87 USD and placed an order to see what the Shonen Jump 50th Anniversary Famicom Classic Mini was all about. We quickly learned that this official Nintendo product is far from a slapdash release with a logo painted on.

Nostalgia is one hell of a drug.