Well, file this in the "what the hell is going on" section. Chris Ziegler, long-time The Verge editor (and Engadget before that - he was part of the crew that started both Engadget and The Verge, if I'm not mistaken), had been missing from the site for a few months now - no posts, no tweets, nothing. Today, Nilay Patel revealed why.
First, Chris accepted a position at Apple. We wish him well.
Second, the circumstances of Chris' departure from The Verge raised ethical issues which are worth disclosing in the interests of transparency and respect for our audience. We're confident that there wasn't any material impact on our journalism from these issues, but they are still serious enough to merit disclosure.
Chris began working for Apple in July, but didn't tell anyone at The Verge that he'd taken a new job until we discovered and verified his dual-employment in early September. Chris continued actively working at The Verge in July, but was not in contact with us through most of August and into September. During that period, in the dark and concerned for Chris, we made every effort to contact him and to offer him help if needed. We ultimately terminated his employment at The Verge and Vox Media the same day we verified that he was employed at Apple.
So let me get this straight. One of The Verge's most prominent editors took a job at Apple - which is perfectly fine, we all change jobs - but then did not inform The Verge, continued to work for The Verge, then disappeared, still without informing The Verge, and then it took The Verge weeks to track him down and figure out what happened?
This story is completely bonkers, and I can assure you - this is not the whole story. According to John Gruber, Chris Ziegler is not listed in Apple's employee directory, and I personally have had this confirmed to me as well. Something really strange is going on here.
Meanwhile, a young programmer named Larry Ellison had formed a company called Software Development Laboratories, originally to do contract work, but quickly decided that selling packaged software was a far better proposition: doing the work once and reselling it multiple times was an excellent way to get rich. They just needed a product, and IBM effectively gave it to them; because the System R team was being treated as a research project, not a commercial venture, they happily wrote multiple papers explaining how System R worked, and published the SQL spec. Software Development Laboratories implemented it and called it Oracle, and in 1979 sold it to the CIA; a condition of the contract was that it run on IBM mainframes.In other words, IBM not only created the conditions for the richest packaged software company ever to emerge (Microsoft), they basically gave an instruction manual to the second.
We have confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company’s network in late 2014 by what we believe is a state-sponsored actor. The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. The ongoing investigation suggests that stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information; payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system that the investigation has found to be affected. Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen and the investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is currently in Yahoo’s network. Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter.
That's a big hack.
Remember when Google said they wouldn't store messages in one of the company's new chat applications, Allo? Yeah, no.
The version of Allo rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages by default - a clear change from Google’s earlier statements that the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form. The records will now persist until the user actively deletes them, giving Google default access to a full history of conversations in the app. Users can also avoid the logging by using Allo’s Incognito Mode, which is still fully end-to-end encrypted and unchanged from the initial announcement.
Like Hangouts and Gmail, Allo messages will still be encrypted between the device and Google servers, and stored on servers using encryption that leaves the messages accessible to Google's algorithms.
For this reason alone, don't use Google Allo. But wait, there's more! There's also the backwards way it handles multiple devices and phone numbers - another reason to not use Google Allo. Sadly, even if you don't have Allo installed, you may still be forced to deal with it at some point because of some 'clever' tricks by Google Play Services on Android. If someone sends you an Allo message, but you don't have Allo installed, you'll get a special Android notification.
The notification lets you respond through text along (as opposed to stickers, photos or anything like that), or alternatively ignore it altogether. There's also a button taking you straight to the Play Store install page for Allo.
How can Google do this? The notification is generated by Google Play Services, which is installed on just about every Android phone, and updates silently in the background.
Don't use Google Allo.
There's a story going round that Lenovo have signed an agreement with Microsoft that prevents installing free operating systems. This is sensationalist, untrue and distracts from a genuine problem.
With that solved, let's get to the real root cause of the problems here:
The real problem here is that Intel do very little to ensure that free operating systems work well on their consumer hardware - we still have no information from Intel on how to configure systems to ensure good power management, we have no support for storage devices in "RAID" mode and we have no indication that this is going to get better in future. If Intel had provided that support, this issue would never have occurred. Rather than be angry at Lenovo, let's put pressure on Intel to provide support for their hardware.
As someone who tried to move his retina MacBook Pro to Linux only a few weeks ago - I can attest to Intel's absolutely terrible Linux drivers and power management. My retina MacBook Pro has an Intel Iris 6100 graphics chip, and the driver for it is so incredibly bad that even playing a simple video will cause the laptop to become so hot I was too scared to leave it running. Playing that same video in OS X or Windows doesn't even spin up the fans, with the laptop entirely cool. Battery life in Linux measured in a 2-3 hours, whereas on OS X or Windows I easily get 8-10 hours.
macOS Sierra brings Siri to the Mac, allowing users to conduct voice searches to find files, look up information, and more, with the ability to pin searches to the Notification Center for continual monitoring. There are new Continuity features including an "Auto Unlock" option for unlocking a Mac with an Apple Watch, and a "Universal Clipboard" option for copying text on one Apple device and pasting it on another.
MacOS being in maintenance mode, this isn't the most significant update the operating system's ever seen. But hey, it's free, so go get it.
Benchmarks of computer hardware have their uses. Especially if you have a relatively narrow and well-defined set of calculations that you need to perform, benchmarks are great tools to figure out which processor or graphics chip or whatever will deliver the best performance - scientific calculations, graphics processing (e.g. video games), these are all use cases where comparisons between benchmarks of different hardware components can yield useful information.
A different way to put it: benchmarks make sense in a situation where "more power" equals "better results" - better results that are noticable and make a difference. A GTX 1080 will result in better framerates than a GTX 1070 in a modern game like The Witcher 3, because we've not yet hit any (theoretical) framerate limit for that game. A possible future GTX 1090 will most likely yield even better framerates still.
Where benchmarks start to fall apart, however, is in use cases where "more power" does not equal "better results". Modern smartphones are a perfect example of this. Our current crop of smartphones is so powerful, that adding faster processors does not produce any better results for the kinds of ways in which we use these devices. Twitter isn't going to open or load any faster when you add a few hundred megahertz.
In other words, modern smartphones have bottlenecks, but the processor or RAM certainly isn't one of them. Before you can even reach the full potential of your quad-core 2.4Ghz 6GB RAM phone, your battery will run out (or explode), or your network connection will be slow or non-existent.
As a result, I never cared much for benchmarking smartphones. In 2013, in the wake of Samsung cheating in benchmarks, I wrote that "if you buy a phone based on silly artificial benchmark scores, you deserve to be cheated", and today, now that Apple is leading (in one subset of processor) benchmarks with its latest crop of mobile processors, the same still applies.
So when John Gruber posted about Apple A10 Fusion benchmarks...
Looking at Geekbench's results browser for Android devices, there are a handful of phones in shouting distance of the iPhone 7 for multi-core performance, but Apple's A10 Fusion scores double on single-core.
Funny how just like in the PPC days, benchmarks only start mattering when they favour [insert platform of choice].
Setting aside the validity of Geekbench (Linus Torvalds has an opinion!), this seems to be the usual pointless outcome of these penis-measuring contests: when the benchmarks favour you, benchmarks are important and crucial and the ultimate quanitification of greatness. When the benchmarks don't favour you, they are meaningless and pointless and the world's worst yardsticks of greatness. Anywhere in between, and you selectively pick and choose the benchmarks that make you look best.
I didn't refer to Apple's PowerPC days for nothing. Back then, Apple knew it was using processors with terrible performance and energy requirements, but still had to somehow convince the masses that PowerPC was better faster stronger than x86; claims which Apple itself exposed - overnight - as flat-out lies when the company switched to Intel.
When I use my Nexus 6P and iPhone 6S side-by-side, my Nexus 6P feels a lot faster, even though benchmarks supposedly say it has a crappier processor and a slower operating system. Applications and operations seem equally fast to me, but Android makes everything feel faster because it has far superior ways of dealing with and switching between multiple applications, thanks to the pervasiveness of activities and intents or the ability to set your own default applications.
Trying to quantify something as elusive and personal as user experience by crowing about the single-thread performance of the processor it runs on is like trying to buy a family car based on its top speed. My 2009 Volvo S80's 2.5L straight-5 may propel the car to a maximum speed of 230km/h, but I'm much more interested in how comfortable the seats are, all the comfort options it has, if it looks good (it does), and so on. Those are the actual things that matter, because the likelihood of ever even approaching that 230km/h is very slim, at best.
I bought an iPhone 6S and Apple Watch late last year and used them for six months because I feel that as someone who writes about every platform under the sun, I should be using them as much as (financially and practically) possible. I used the iPhone 6S as my only smartphone for six months, but after six months of fighting iOS and Apple every step of the way, every single day, I got fed up and bought the Nexus 6P on impulse.
Not once during those six months did I think to myself "if only this processor was 500Mhz faster" or "if only this thing had 4GB of RAM". No; I was thinking "why can't I set my own default applications, because Apple's are garbage" or "why is deep linking/inter-application communication non-existent, unreliable, broken, and restricted to first-party applications?" or "why is every application a visual and behavioural island with zero attention to consistency?".
iOS could be running on a quantum computer from Urbana, Illinois, and it wouldn't solve any of those problems.
The funny thing is - Gruber actually agrees with me:
I like reading/following Holwerda, because he's someone who I feel keeps me on my toes. But he's off-base here. I'm certainly not saying that CPU or GPU performance is a primary reason why anyone should buy an iPhone instead of an Android phone. In fact, I'll emphasize that if the tables were turned and it were Android phones that were registering Geekbench scores double those of the iPhone, I would still be using an iPhone. In the same way that I've been using Macs, non-stop, since I first purchased a computer in 1991. Most of the years from 1991 until the switch to Intel CPUs in 2007, the Mac was behind PCs in performance. I never argued then that performance didn't matter - only that for me, personally, the other benefits of using a Mac (the UI design of the system, the quality of the third-party apps, the build quality of the hardware, etc.) outweighed the performance penalty Macs suffered. The same would be true today if Apple's A-series chips were slower than Qualcomm's CPUs for Android.
So, he'd be buying iPhone even if the benchmark tables were turned, thereby agreeing with me that when it comes to phones, benchmarks are entirely meaningless. Nobody buys a smartphone based on processor benchmark scores; at this point in time, people mostly buy smartphones based on the smartphone they currently have (i.e., what platform they are currently using) and price.
That being said, there is one reason why benchmarks of Apple's latest mobile processors are quite interesting: Apple's inevitable upcoming laptop and desktop switchover to its own processors. OS X (or macOS or whatever) has been in maintenance mode ever since the release and success of the iPhone, and by now it's clear that Apple is going to retire OS X in favour of a souped-up iOS over the coming five years.
I know a lot of people still aren't seeing the forest through the trees on this one, but you can expect the first "iOS" MacBook within 1-2 years. I put iOS between quotation marks because that brand of iOS won't be the iOS you have on your phone today, but a more capable, expanded version of it.
It sounds wild, but the A10 looks to have the power and efficiency to handle the workload of a full PC. This coalescence of mobile and desktop PCs is driven by forces on both sides: mobile chips are getting more potent at the same time as our power needs are shrinking and our tasks become more mobile. If you think your workplace isn't changing much because there are a bunch of weathered Dell workstations sitting next to frumpy HP printers, consider just how much more work every one of your officemates is doing outside the office, on their phone. And all those grand and power-hungry x86 applications that might have kept people running macOS - Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom being two key examples - well, they're being ported to iOS in almost their full functionality, having been incentivized by the existence of Apple's iPad Pro line, last year's harbinger for this year's performance jump.
Unlike Windows, whose x86 reliance is tied to its dominance of the lucrative PC gaming market, Apple really has very few anchors locking it down to macOS. The Cupertino company has been investing the vast majority of its development time into the mobile iOS for years now, and that shows in the different rates of progress between its two pieces of software. macOS is, in many ways, legacy software just waiting for the right moment to be deprecated. It’s getting a fresh lick of paint now and then, but most of its novelties now relate to how it links back to Apple's core iOS and iPhone business.
This is where benchmarking and the performance of Apple's A10 Fusion processor do come into play, because even in the constrained environment of a smartphone, it seems to be reaching performance levels of laptop and desktop processors.
That "iOS" MacBook is closer than you think.
It's taken a while, but Visopsys 0.8 has been released. The GUI appearance has been updated, the infamous icons have all been replaced, and touch support has been added. There are a few new utilities, and in addition to all of the usual under-the-bonnet improvements, they've added OHCI (USB 1) support, completing the set of USB host controller drivers. There's a full changelog is and new screenshots.
So the top brass at Samsung Electronics Co., including phone chief D.J. Koh, decided to accelerate the launch of a new phone they were confident would dazzle consumers and capitalize on the opportunity, according to people familiar with the matter. They pushed suppliers to meet tighter deadlines, despite loads of new features, another person with direct knowledge said. The Note 7 would have a high-resolution screen that wraps around the edges, iris-recognition security and a more powerful, faster-charging battery. Apple's taunts that Samsung was a copycat would be silenced for good.
Then it all backfired. Just days after Samsung introduced the Note 7 in August, reports surfaced online that the phone's batteries were bursting into flame. By the end of the month, there were dozens of fires and Samsung was rushing to understand what went wrong. On Sept. 2, Koh held a grim press conference in Seoul where he announced Samsung would replace all 2.5 million phones shipped so far. What was supposed to be triumph had turned into a fiasco.
Pretty damning report.
Nearly two weeks after Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 due to the risk of explosion, the device is still being used just as frequently by its owners. This is according to data from Apteligent, a mobile analytics company that claims "usage rate of the phone among existing users has been almost the exact same since the day of the recall."
It seems not even exploding batteries can tear users away from their smartphones, but the apparent reticence of users to get rid of their faulty devices is not being helped by Samsung's mismanagement of the recall process. Swapping 2.5 million smartphones is certainly no easy task, but the South Korean firm has not helped the situation by issuing confusing information to consumers. The longer the situation goes on, the more damage it does to the company's brand.
A few notes about the Note 7 problems. First, this is no laughing matter. There's a reason not even Apple made fun of Samsung's problems during the iPhone event (something Apple normally revels in), because they, too, know that such manufacturing defects in which real people can get hurt can actually happen to anyone. Battery technology effectively comes down to stuffing highly flammable and dangerous liquids and chemicals in pressurised containers in your pockets, and lithium-ion batteries have a long history of catching fire and exploding.
Second, unlike the doom and gloom you read everywhere, this whole story will be out of the media and out of the public's eye (if it's even been in the latter's eye to begin with) a few months from now, and nobody will care. This will do far, far less to damage Samsung's brand than people think (or hope).
Third, that being said, Samsung is indeed not handling the recall very well. There should've been a quicker response, a clearer response, a more pervasive response. These things pose a real danger to people, and should've been taken off the street much, much quicker than this.
I hope we won't have to read about people dying because of this.
I just spent like an hour searching for an OSNews story about this, because I was sure we posted about this, only to realise I was confused with this year-old story. Anyhow, this story is kind of similar in that John Brooks has released ProDOS 2.4 for the Apple II, fixing bugs, and adding features. I like Jason Scott's take:
Next is that this is an operating system upgrade free of commercial and marketing constraints and drives. Compared with, say, an iOS upgrade that trumpets the addition of a search function or blares out a proud announcement that they broke maps because Google kissed another boy at recess. Or Windows 10, the 1968 Democratic Convention Riot of Operating Systems, which was designed from the ground up to be compatible with a variety of mobile/tablet products that are on the way out, and which were shoved down the throats of current users with a cajoling, insulting methodology with misleading opt-out routes and freakier and freakier fake-countdowns.
The current mainstream OS environment is, frankly, horrifying, and to see a pure note, a trumpet of clear-minded attention to efficiency, functionality and improvement, stands in testament to the fact that it is still possible to achieve this, albeit a smaller, slower-moving target. Either way, it’s an inspiration.
Mic.com has obtained a long list of e-mails from primarily female Apple employees (but also a few male employees), detailing a sexist culture inside the company that nobody seems to want to address. The 50 pages of e-mails were handed to Mic by an Apple employee, and obviously, all people involved have been anonymised.
"With such love for a company that does so much good, it is with a heavy heart that I declare my resignation from Apple," a former employee wrote in an email obtained by Mic. "Despite all attempts to seek justice within this corporation, the cries of several minority employees about the toxic and oppressive environment have gone unanswered. I have witnessed the complete and utter disenfranchising of the voices of men and women of color and the fault lies not only in the direct management staff but in the response of those tasked with protecting employee rights. I write this letter hoping to highlight the areas that these departments have failed to properly support employees and as such have hence left Apple, Inc. culpable for various EEOC and ethical violations."
According to Claire*, "several people" who have quit, citing a "white, male, Christian, misogynist, sexist environment," were not given exit interviews. "Their departure is being written up as a positive attrition," she told Mic.
This obviously - but sadly - doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Silicon Valley is an inherently toxic environment dominated by white males, and despite all the talk from Tim Cook and various company bloggers, Apple is not the special diversity flowerchild farting rainbows and puking unicorn dust it claims to be. I mean, this is a company who considers having a Canadian speaking on stage during an event as "diversity".
From these emails, a picture emerges of a company culture actively trying to get women to leave, actively preventing them from getting into mid-level and top-level leadership positions. From everything I've ever heard about Silicon Valley culture - this is par for the course, no matter the company.
Three months after v2.1.2 release, we've built a little update which fixes some of the issues found with applications and introduces some new ones as well. Almost no system file has been updated, but with this release you'll find a brand new version of Mapparium (which now allows to compute routes), a new, more secure build of OWB with upgraded openssl to 1.0.1t, the latest version of SimpleMail and PortablE (which was unluckily left-out by mistake in version 2.1.2). But this is not just a "refresh" update, it also includes some new applications like the FinalBurnAlpha emulator, meteMP3 player and, why not, the ColorCLI scripts, which will help customizing your system a little more.
Icaros Desktop is an AROS distribution - by lack of a better term - which is pretty easy to try out.
Time stands still for some in the smartwatch market.
With Apple set to release "Series 2" of its Watch and Samsung prepping its Gear S3 timepiece, many of the biggest players that have embraced Google's Android Wear software have decided to hit pause on their own efforts.
It seems like only Apple and Samsung are willing - and capable - of propping up what is at best a lukewarm product segment.
iOS 10 features a redesigned Lock screen experience with 3D Touch-enabled notifications, a more easily accessible camera, and a widgets screen. A revamped Control Center also offers 3D Touch support along with new controls for music and HomeKit devices. Raise to Wake, a new feature for the latest devices, wakes up the iPhone without bypassing notifications.
Have fun updating.
The reasons some Mac lovers stick with OS 9 are practically as numerous as Apple operating systems themselves. There are some OS 9 subscribers who hold out for cost reasons. Computers are prohibitively expensive where they live, and these people would also need to spend thousands on new software licenses and updated hardware (on top of the cost of a new Mac). But many more speak of a genuine preference for OS 9. These users stick around purely because they can and because they think classic Mac OS offers a more pleasant experience than OS X. Creatives in particular speak about some of OS 9's biggest technical shortcomings in favorable terms. They aren't in love with the way one app crashing would bring down an entire system, but rather the design elements that can unfortunately lead to that scenario often better suit creative work.
If OS 9 had modern applications and - even moderately - modern hardware, I would be using it. No question. I have an iBook G3 fully working and running OS 9, including important software, within arm's grasp (I used to have an iMac G3 for the same purpose). It's difficult to explain, but the reason for me is Platinum, the user interface. OS 9's Finder, the graphical and behaviourial aspects of the user interface, the speed, the BeOS-like quirkiness - it all adds up to an operating system with a personality that is incredibly pleasant to use, regardless of the hodgepodge house-of-cards internals.
And personality is, unfortunately, what Windows, desktop Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android sorely, sorely lack.
Recent events have rocked the mobile computing world to its core. OpenBSD retired the zaurus port, leaving users in desperate need of a new device. And not long before that, Microsoft released the Anniversary Update to Windows 10, but increased the free space requirement needed to install the update to exceed what's possible on devices with only 32GB, leaving users with cheap 32GB eMMC equipped devices such as the HP Stream series searching for a new operating system. With necessity as both mother and father, the scene is set for a truly epic pairing. OpenBSD on the HP Stream 7.
The HP Stream line is a series of budget computers in a couple form factors. The Stream 11 is a fairly typical netbook. However, the Stream 7 and 8 are tablets. They look like cheap Android devices, but inside the case, they’re real boys, er PCs, with Intel Atom CPUs.
To install OpenBSD on such a device, we need a few parts.
Expecting a company that sells tablets to also provide tablet-oriented interfaces for the OS and major apps isn't unreasonable. But Google hasn't shown it is willing to provide those interfaces. My Android tablet advice still stands - I'll take Android tablets seriously once Google does.
All the interface regressions since Honeycomb still make Android tablets feel like an afterthought. While the Pixel C is a great demonstration of these problems, it's still not a great productivity device compared to the competition.
The side-by-side comparisons between Honeycomb and Nougat are damning. "Regression" isn't an adequate enough word for what's happening here.
Loki is the newest version of elementary OS, a design-oriented and open source Linux-based operating system for desktops and laptops. It succeeds Freya which was released in April of 2015.
ts and implemented over 20 blueprints. Altogether, these represent stability and security improvements, better internationalization, new features and options, and much more.
A great team doing great work. Elementary OS isn't exactly a good fit for the "I compile my own kernel every morning"-type Linux users, but for the more turnkey people among us, it's certainly worth a try.