Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 20th Jan 2015 10:35 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Last week, Samsung officially announced its first Tizen-based smartphone, the Z1 in India. The device is priced at INR 5,700 (~ $92), a relatively higher price tag for its low-end hardware, especially when you compare it with Android value-for-money smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi 1S and the Asus Zenfone 4. It features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor from Spreadtrum, 768MB RAM, and 4GB internal storage, but Samsung is trying to defend its pricing. The Korean giant claims that Tizen can not only run Android apps, it is also lighter than other platforms. It means that Tizen requires relatively less powerful hardware to run as smooth as other platforms.

A new video from Simrandeep Singh Garcha shows that Tizen runs quite fast and smooth on the Z1, a rarity for smartphones in a similar price range. The video shows Tizen running without any sort of lag on the Z1, as well as new features like customisable colour themes and icon sets. It appears that even things like web browsing are smooth and fast on Tizen, as seen in the second video, thanks to faster page load times as well as smooth scrolling, panning, and zooming.

Credit where credit is due: it actually looks kind of nice, which is surprising, considering its developed by Samsung. This still doesn't take my doubt away about Tizen's viability in the smartphone space, but I still welcome any and all competition for Android and iOS.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 19th Jan 2015 12:24 UTC, submitted by Alfman
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Microsoft has heavily criticized Google and its 90-days security disclosure policy after the firm publicly revealed two zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system one after one just days before Microsoft planned to issue a patch to kill the bugs. But, seemingly Google don't give a damn thought.

Once again, Google has publicly disclosed a new serious vulnerability in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 before Microsoft has been able to produce a patch, leaving users of both the operating systems exposed to hackers until next month, when the company plans to deliver a fix.

First, this article makes the usual mistake of calling these vulnerabilities "zero day". They are not zero day. They are 90 day. A huge difference that changes the entire context of the story. Microsoft gets 90 days - three months - to address these issues. I do not see why Google has to account for Microsoft's inflexible security policies which leave users in the lurch.

Second, note that Google also disclosed two OS X vulnerabilities alongside the Windows one. Nobody seems to be talking about those.

Third, Google, how about addressing your own security problems.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 19th Jan 2015 12:16 UTC

For the past six months or so, I've become increasingly concerned about the quality of Apple software. From the painful gestation of OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) with its damaged iWork apps, to the chaotic iOS 8 launch, iCloud glitches, and the trouble with Continuity, I've gotten a bad feeling about Apple’s software quality management. "It Just Works", the company's pleasant-sounding motto, became an easy target, giving rise to jibes of "it just needs more work".

Even if the endless list of complaints from die-hard Apple users and developers is somehow entirely nothing but anti-Apple propaganda, Apple is still left with a growing perception problem.

Personally, as a semi-long-time Apple user (since 2003 I believe), I've never thought of Apple's software as "particularly good" - the rest was just worse. However, considering the general quality of software, that's not saying much (software is of horribly low quality when compared to other tools we use). Now that we no longer have Windows XP but Windows 7 and up, now that we no longer have Android 2.x and Symbian but Android 5.0, people are beginning to realise what I knew all along: Apple's software isn't good. It was just a little bit less crappy than everyone else's.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 18th Jan 2015 19:33 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

An email sent to the Sailfish developer mailing list goes into some great detail on what to expect from Sailfish over the course of 2015. It looks like they're planning to touch every part of the system.

2015 will see Sailfish OS evolve towards a display resolution and form factor independent operating system capable of running on a range of devices. It will also bring a renewed Sailfish UI. We plan to demo this evolution at the Mobile World Congress in March.

We have now started to work full speed on the new UI framework changes and are currently in the prototyping phase. Our main driver is to introduce changes that

  1. enhance user experience on both the phone and tablet
  2. strengthen the OS core
  3. simplify implementation for a better managed code base

The remainder of the long email lists a whole lot of changes the Sailfish team at Jolla plans to implement - from the lower levels all the way up to the user interface.

In addition, chairman and co-founder Antti Saarnio posted on the Jolla blog with more hints about the future of Sailfish, and one thing in particular stood out to me:

The Sailfish OS is still young, and needs more stability, better connectivity, and simplification to the user experience. The small Sailfish OS native app ecosystem needs its own program, which guides and supports app developers. The amount of applications is not important, rather the most important applications for people need to be native, and of high quality. Friends, Tweetian, Sailgrande, just to mention a few, are excellent proof points of the potential of native Sailfish OS applications.

This is very good news. Improving the operating system is one thing, but the quality and availability of native applications is another. I'm glad Jolla recognises this and seems to be taking steps to do something about it.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 17th Jan 2015 21:07 UTC
Fedora Core

Like most Linux distros, Fedora is a massive, sprawling project. Frankly, it's sprawl-y to the point that it has felt unfocused and a bit lost at times. Just what is Fedora? The distro has served as a kind of showcase for GNOME 3 ever since GNOME 3 hit the beta stage. So Fedora in theory is meant to target everyday users, but at the same time the project pours tremendous energy into building developer tools like DevAssistant. Does that make Fedora a developer distro? A newbie-friendly GNOME showcase? A server distro? An obscure robotics distro?

Today, the answer to all the above questions is "yes." And the way to make sense of it all is what Fedora calls Fedora.Next.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 17th Jan 2015 21:03 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Xiaomi has announced their spectacularly spec'ed Mi Note Pro, which features the latest in Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors alongside a big 2K display and 4GB of RAM for a killer price. That being said, there's something that is not-so-good about Xiaomi's offerings that is a concern to many developers, especially many found here on XDA: Xiaomi's repeated violations of the GPLv2 license for the Linux kernel which Android (and thus Xiaomi's devices), is built on.

Somehow, this doesn't surprise me.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 17th Jan 2015 20:18 UTC

I'm going to describe steps needed to have the following system:

  • Dual-boot with Arch Linux / Mac OS X
  • Boot manager UEFI Gummiboot (simple, can handle several kernels easily)
  • Full disk encryption (Mac OS X and Arch Linux)
  • LVM support
  • Suspend to disk using a swapfile
  • Settings for a great battery life (~09h30)

I keep the Mac OS X partition, to be able to update the firmware later.

Incredibly detailed 'blog post' (I would call it a website) on how to get, well, Arch Linux running on the MacBook Pro Retina 2014. I know Arch is quite popular among OSNews readers, so I figured this would be of interest to some of you. The article is a work-in-progress, so more information is sure to follow.


Linked by j.k. on Fri 16th Jan 2015 22:02 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Version 8.2.0 of the embedded operating system FreeRTOS has just been released and is available to download. A complete list of changes is available, but personally I would highlight two of them: task notifications and some improvements of the popular ARM Cortex-M4F port.

Just a short introduction for those of you who have never heard about FreeRTOS before: it's a popular open source (released under a modified GPL license) embedded operating system (well, a multithreading library would be a more accurate description) which runs on many microcontrollers with just a few kilobytes of memory. It allows your embedded application to be split into several threads (called "tasks") with different priorities, and offers several mechanisms for synchronization/communication among tasks, dynamic allocation of memory etc.

The project officially supports quite a lot of combinations of toolchains and professional microcontrollers, however, it is not too difficult to port it to other microcontrollers. Would you like to run it on your Raspberry Pi? No problem, somebody has already ported it for you. You don't have a R.Pi? Never mind, you can try it in Qemu.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 15th Jan 2015 18:16 UTC

The late film critic Roger Ebert once wrote:

Nevertheless, I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art. Perhaps it is foolish of me to say "never," because never, as Rick Wakeman informs us, is a long, long time. Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form.

I have always seen this as a man from an older generation failing to grasp new forms of media, expression, and art. As great a film critic as Ebert was, he completely and utterly missed the point with this oft-quoted statement. There's an endless list of games - large triple A and smaller, independent titles alike - that I would most definitely consider art and that will, in the future, end up in museums and art teachers' classes.

I normally don't really care what other people think, but I was reminded of this statement these past few weeks as I played through To The Moon, the critically acclaimed 2011 indie RPG from FreeBirdGames. The game tells the tale of two people aiding in granting a dying old man his last wish - to go to the moon. The game is relatively short - between 4 and 5 hours - but in that relatively short runtime, its creators manage to tell a moving, endearing, funny, emotional, and ultimately beautiful story that rivals - and, in my view, rises above - some of the best films and books ever created.

To The Moon is available on Steam, GOG, and even Origin, and I highly suggest you play it. If it doesn't fit your budget or you only want the story, I uploaded my experience with To The Moon for all to see. Even if you have no interest in video games, I would still strongly suggest experiencing this uniquely beautiful work of art.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 15th Jan 2015 18:16 UTC

The fate of Google Glass has been up in the air these past few months, as developers seem to have stopped paying attention to the new-age eyewear and Glasshole sightings have decreased significantly. But Glass isn't done yet: Google's announcing today Glass is "graduating" from the Google X experimental projects incubator to become its own independent division - a division that will report into Nest's Tony Fadell. Current Glass head Ivy Ross will retain day-to-day authority, but she'll report to Fadell. Nest itself will remain separate and independent, and Tony will still be in charge there as well.

If you can sell a thermostat and smoke detector, you can pretty much sell anything. Maybe Fadell knows what to do with Glass.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 15th Jan 2015 18:13 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Verizon advertising partner Turn has been caught using Verizon Wireless's UIDH tracking header to resurrect deleted tracking cookies and share them with dozens of major websites and ad networks, forming a vast web of non-consensual online tracking. Explosive research from Stanford security expert Jonathan Mayer shows that, as we warned in November, Verizon's UIDH header is being used as an undeletable perma-cookie that makes it impossible for customers to meaningfully control their online privacy.

A virtually unchecked and unbound company with near-monopoly status in many US areas doing something scummy? I am so surprised.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 15th Jan 2015 14:34 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Xiaomi, one of the fastest-growing tech companies in China, has announced its latest flagship device. The Mi Note is a 6.95mm-thick smartphone with a 5.7-inch 1080p display, a 13-megapixel camera, options for a Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 3000 mAh battery, and curved glass on both the front and back panels; the company refers to the front glass as "2.5D" and the rear glass as "3D."

While Xiaomi has occasionally stoked accusations of Apple mimicry with devices like its Mi Pad, the Mi Note isn't really in that vein. It might not win any awards for industrial innovation, but it appears to be an understated product without much in the way of direct design lifts.

My dislike for Xiamoi's shamelessness is no secret, but this here seems to have a little more unique identity to it than its previous offerings - save for the name, of course. If this trend persists, they may be ramping up to more unique devices for western markets governed by excessively oppressive patent regimes.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Jan 2015 21:20 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd recently approached BlackBerry Ltd about buying the company for as much as $7.5 billion, looking to gain access to its patent portfolio, according to a person familiar with the matter and documents seen by Reuters.

South Korea's Samsung proposed an initial price range of $13.35 to $15.49 per share, which represents a premium of 38 percent to 60 percent over BlackBerry's current trading price, the source said.

Executives from the two companies, which are working with advisers, met last week to discuss a potential transaction, the source said, asking not to be identified because the conversations are private.

Big news, if true.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Jan 2015 20:44 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y

For a show overrun with various visions of smart drones and smarter homes for the future, the present of CES was remarkably uniform. I saw more iPhones in the hands of CES attendees than I did Android phones across the countless exhibitor booths. From the biggest keynote event to the smallest stall on the show floor, everything was being documented with Apple's latest smartphone, and it all looked so irritatingly easy. I don't want an iPhone, but dammit, I want the effortlessness of the iPhone's camera.

I really don't give a rat's bum about my phone's camera (does it take pictures? Yes? Okay I'm good), so I'm about as interested in this as watching grass grow, but it's a consistent iPhone strong point according to iOS and Android users alike. Since I like science: are there any proper tests concerning this?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Jan 2015 20:34 UTC

Google's Project Ara modular smartphone project is arriving soon, at least if you're in Puerto Rico. At its Project Ara Module Developers Conference today, Google said that it plans to launch a pilot in Puerto Rico in the second half of this year, selling phone chassis and modules through local carrier partners, as well as through a fleet of small trucks.

I like this project. I have no idea if it's going anywhere, but at least someone is having the guts to try and experiment with new and/or different ideas. That's science, and that's how we move forward.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Jan 2015 20:30 UTC

While one phone is a member of a new 400 series, and the other is a 500 series device, the two handsets are far more similar than they are different. Both use 1.2GHz Snapdragon processors; dual-core in the 435, quad-core in the 532. Both have 4-inch 800×480 screens, with the 532 supporting the Glance feature found on many other Lumias. Both have 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, and both support microSD cards up to 128GB. Both are 3G devices supporting up to 42Mbps HSDPA. Both have VGA-quality front-facing cameras. The biggest practical difference is in the rear-facing cameras: 2MP fixed focus on the 435, 5MP fixed focus on the 532.

These are basically the Nokia X devices, but with Windows Phone. They look very interesting and tempting, but I'm not exactly comfortable running Windows Phone on hardware this low-end; the operating system and its core applications will work fine, but most non-core Microsoft and third party applications are slow even on higher-end hardware, so I shiver at the thought of how they run on this hardware.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Jan 2015 20:27 UTC

This series will show you how to get started with a FreeBSD cloud server. The first article will explain some of the differences between Linux and FreeBSD. The tutorials that follow cover the basics of FreeBSD security, maintenance, and software installation. If you are new to FreeBSD, this series will help you get up and running quickly.

I'm sure many die-hard FreeBSD users will find this series of article pointless, but I think it's an interesting and useful introduction to the platform.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Jan 2015 17:09 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Samsung seems to have finally really honestly for realsies released its first Tizen phone.

In terms of the hardware, the Z1 comes with a 4-inch WVGA TFT display, 1.2 GHz dual-core CPU, 768MB RAM, 4 GB internal memory, microSD card slot up to 64 GB, 3.1 MP camera at the back, VGA front shooter, dual-SIM connectivity, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and a 1,500 mAh battery. The device is certainly underwhelming when it comes to the spec sheet, but Samsung claims that the "lightweight" Tizen OS would run without any issues on the hardware on offer. With the Z1, Samsung is looking to lure in customers with attractive content deals.

Remember - hope springs eternal.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Jan 2015 23:15 UTC

This is the original 1978 source code of Microsoft BASIC for 6502 with all original comments, documentation and easter eggs:


Given all this, it is safe to assume the file with the Microsoft BASIC for 6502 source originated at Apple, and was given to David Craig together with the other source be published.

Which, coincidentally, makes it quite illegal, since this code is being published without Microsoft's or Bill Gates' permission. Still, a very interesting look at a very crucial bit of code - at least, from an industry perspective.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Jan 2015 23:08 UTC

I remember my first Android device, and how it differed to the ones I have now in one major point: navigation keys. My old Motorola XT316 (a mid-range phone for Latin American markets) came with Froyo 2.2 and featured 4 TFT capacitive navigation keys: menu, home, back, and the long gone "search". Android phones have come a long way since that OS, and since the early days of archaic UI design and choppy performance. Now we have the most beautiful and smoothest Android, and arguably one of the best Operating Systems... But there's something that I really think has not improved all that much despite all the optimizations, and that is navigation.

While there's always room for improvement, I do think Android has much, much bigger problems than this, like, you know, updates?