Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 23rd Jun 2015 17:54 UTC

Apple's impulsive response to Swift stands in stark contrast to their treatment of indie app developers, who have been lobbying Apple for almost seven years, requesting Apple reform policies in the App Store to no effect. In particular, Cue's use of the word "indie" can only be described as a callous slap in the face given the circumstances that indie developers have been facing.

iOS application developers are expendable, and have zero reach. Taylor Swift is unique, and has a quarter metric frickton of reach.

Do the math.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Jun 2015 16:02 UTC

Yesterday, news broke that Google has been stealth downloading audio listeners onto every computer that runs Chrome, and transmits audio data back to Google. Effectively, this means that Google had taken itself the right to listen to every conversation in every room that runs Chrome somewhere, without any kind of consent from the people eavesdropped on. In official statements, Google shrugged off the practice with what amounts to "we can do that".

Remember how everyone used to make fun of people like Richard Stallman? Way back in 2012, we already reached the point where we had to acknolwedge Richard Stallman was right all along (useless sidenote: this is one of the three most popular OSNews articles of all time). In recent years, people have been putting stickers and tape on their laptops to cover up built-in webcams. The next step is, apparently, to rip out the built-in microphones, too. That's what you get when you entrust a major technology company with automatic updates.

If it runs software from any of the major companies, your computer isn't yours. Handle it accordingly.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Jun 2015 11:47 UTC

After being publicly smacked down by music's biggest star, Apple is changing its tune. Late Sunday night, Apple VP Eddy Cue responded to the open letter that Taylor Swift posted earlier in the day, revealing that Apple now plans to pay artists, labels, and publishers for streams during Apple Music's three-month free trial. The premium streaming service is due to launch on June 30th.

Taylor Swift just outsmarted one of the biggest, richest, and most arrogant companies on earth. Impressive.

The fact that Apple announced this sudden tail-between-its-legs change of heart in the middle of the night (might've been late Sunday night for US - I suck at timezones), via Twitter no less, is indicative of how badly thought-out this whole Apple Music thing seems to be. The presentation during WWDC was awkward, the three month trial period heavily criticised, and now this. Curious.


Linked by ricegf on Sun 21st Jun 2015 19:38 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Nokia's CEO Rajeev Suri told Germany's Manager Magazin (in German, Reuters report in English) that they plan to start designing and licensing (but not manufacturing) phones again once their agreement with Microsoft expires in 2016. The license would include the use of the Nokia brand name. Does this open the door for Jolla goodness to eventually return to its roots?


Linked by Louis Barman on Sun 21st Jun 2015 19:36 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

One of the first computers in the world, EDSAC is being rebuilt at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. Andrew Herbert takes us on a walk around inside the computer.

The computer memory is pulses of sound waves in long tubes of mercury.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 21st Jun 2015 19:29 UTC

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field... But will not get paid for a quarter of a year's worth of plays on his or her songs.

I'm sure the web will be flooded with slightly differently worded but effectively the same this-isn't-Apple's-fault blog posts and comments shortly, but this whole saga does seem like a major punch in the stomach for small and/or upstart artists. They've already got it rough in this business, and along comes the hugely powerful Apple, who, despite the incredible riches it has stashed away in tax havens, wrangles even that little bit of coin from them.

Stay classy, Apple.

We don't ask you for free iPhones. Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

I don't know much about Taylor Swift other than that she's really popular in the US, but that is one wicked burn.


Written by David Adams on Thu 18th Jun 2015 16:26 UTC

I bought an Apple Watch, and I've been wearing it for about two weeks. I'm a notorious mobile computing fanatic and early adopter. How does it hold up to real-world use? How does it compare to the hype?

Let's get this out of the way: I've been waiting for an Apple Watch for a long time. While a lot of people were quick to dismiss the whole idea, I've been on board with the idea of a wrist-mounted companion to a smartphone since I first started using a smartphone. I never bought a Pebble or any of the other first generation smart watches, largely because I've been around the block long enough to know that it's hard to be an early adopter, but partially because I wanted to wait and see what Apple would come up with.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Jun 2015 16:25 UTC

There's been a lot of chatter lately about BlackBerry working on a device running Android, and at first, the rumour was that the portrait slider - yes, with a keyboard - the company briefly flashed before our eyes early this year was going to run Android. I got excited over this one, because I've been wanting a modern smartphone with a keyboard for a long time now. The Passport is a good example, but it's quite expensive for entry into a platform with dubious longevity (I did actually try to buy one when I was in Canada late last year, but Canadian stores were afraid of my money). So, the prospect of an Android slider from BlackBerry surely had my wallet rumbling.

Too bad. A new rumour today suggests that while BlackBerry is indeed working on an Android device, it's not the slider device, but a lower-end, Android One-like device. Still interesting, of course, but not nearly as interest-piquing as a device with a hardware keyboard.

Assuming the rumours don't change tomorrow, those of us hoping for a modern Android smartphone with a hardware keyboard will have to wait a little longer.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Jun 2015 16:15 UTC
General Development

But the people calling for a bytecode for the browser never went away, and they were never entirely wrong about the perceived advantages. And now they're going to get their wish. WebAssembly is a new project being worked on by people from Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, and Apple, to produce a bytecode for the Web.

WebAssembly, or wasm for short, is intended to be a portable bytecode that will be efficient for browsers to download and load, providing a more efficient target for compilers than plain JavaScript or even asm.js. Like, for example, .NET bytecode, wasm instructions operate on native machine types such as 32-bit integers, enabling efficient compilation. It's also designed to be extensible, to make it easy to add, say, support for SIMD instruction sets like SSE and AVX.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Jun 2015 15:07 UTC

Based on the MINIX 3 microkernel, we have constructed a system that to the user looks a great deal like NetBSD. It uses pkgsrc, NetBSD headers and libraries, and passes over 80% of the KYUA tests). However, inside, the system is completely different. At the bottom is a small (about 13,000 lines of code) microkernel that handles interrupts, message passing, low-level scheduling, and hardware related details. Nearly all of the actual operating system, including memory management, the file system(s), paging, and all the device drivers run as user-mode processes protected by the MMU. As a consequence, failures or security issues in one component cannot spread to other ones. In some cases a failed component can be replaced automatically and on the fly, while the system is running, and without user processes noticing it. The talk will discuss the history, goals, technology, and status of the project.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Jun 2015 21:51 UTC

Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is leaving Microsoft as part of a fresh reorganization. "We are aligning our engineering efforts and capabilities to deliver on our strategy and, in particular, our three core ambitions," says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an email to employees today. "This change will enable us to deliver better products and services that our customers love at a more rapid pace."

And not a single tear was shed.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Jun 2015 21:47 UTC
Internet & Networking

DuckDuckGo has exploded in popularity since the federal government’s surveillance program came to light two years ago. Remember the privacy-minded search engine’s best week ever?

The service has grown 600 percent since then, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabe Weinberg said on CNBC.

And deservedly so.


Written by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Jun 2015 13:51 UTC
Windows Windows is an old and complex operating system. It's been around for a very long time, and while it's been continuously updated and altered, and parts are removed or replaced all the time, the operating system still houses quite a few tools, utilities, and assets that haven't been updated or replaced in a long, long time. Most of these are hidden in deep nooks and crannies, and you rarely encounter them, unless you start hunting for them.

Most. But not all.

There's one utility that I need to use quite often that, seemingly, hasn't been updated - at least, not considerably - since at least Windows 95, or possibly even Windows 3.x. Using this utility is an exercise in pure frustration, riddled as it is with terrible user interface design and behaviour that never should have shipped as part of any serious software product.

This is the story of the dreaded Character Map. I'll first explain just how bad it really is, after which I'll dive into the little application's history, to try and find out why, exactly, it is as bad as it is. It turns out that the Character Map - or charmap.exe - seems to exist in a sort-of Windows build limbo, and has been stuck there since the days Microsoft scrapped Longhorn, and started over.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Jun 2015 20:52 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Sailfish OS 1.1.6 has been released. The biggest new feature is probably the private browsing mode, but it's also got a host of other new features, bug fixes, and improvements. I would guess this is one of the last 1.x releases, since the tablet, whicvh ships with Sailfish OS 2.x, should be shipping this month.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Jun 2015 18:01 UTC
In the News

Thomas van Linge's colorful, detailed maps showing which parties control which parts of Iraq, Libya and Syria are a hit whenever he posts them on Twitter. They have been cited on news stories in the Huffington Post, Lebanon's Daily Star and Vox, as well as on the University of Texas at Austin's website. But van Linge isn't a policy expert and he's never been to the region: In fact, he’s just a Dutch high school student who tracks the war on social media.

Quite amazing (van Linge's work, obviously - not the subject matter!).


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Jun 2015 23:34 UTC
Mac OS X

Looking across the updates in El Capitan, the story is clear: Apple is making life way better for people who live in its ecosystem. But if you don't live in Apple's garden, the benefits are less clear. Yes, it's faster and there are bugfixes all around, but to take advantage of Apple's updates you really need to use Apple's apps.

I just want El Capitan's Metal and Aero Snap. That name is horrible, though.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Jun 2015 23:31 UTC

It's Day 0 of E3 2015. This is the time when all the giants of popular gaming make their big announcements, competing for your attention and future gaming dollars. Today is also a big day for YouTube, which doesn't make games, but will soon be introducing a dedicated YouTube Gaming service. It too will be competing for the attention of millions.

The goals of YouTube Gaming are as grand as YouTube itself. Google wants its new website and app to become "the biggest community of gamers on the web" and the destination for live-streamed game video, whether it comes from professional tournaments or amateurs playing just for fun. If that sounds exactly like Twitch, that's because it is. Having lost out to Amazon in the pursuit to acquire Twitch last summer, Google has spent the past year building up its own alternative, and that's what we have to look forward to in the coming weeks.

YouTube is well-positioned to compete with Twitch, since most streamers upload the VODs to YouTube anyway. Why not have it all in one place?

In any event, yet another case of competition breeding product improvements.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Jun 2015 23:26 UTC, submitted by toralux

One of the big complaints about Chrome currently is that it's a battery hog, especially on Mac where Safari seems to do better.

The team has been working on addressing this; here are some cases that have recently been improved on trunk.

I'm glad Google is taking this matter seriously.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Jun 2015 21:21 UTC, submitted by Chrille
Hardware, Embedded Systems

A 30-year-old computer that has run day and night for decades is what controls the heat and air conditioning at 19 Grand Rapids Public Schools.

The Commodore Amiga was new to GRPS in the early 1980s and it has been working tirelessly ever since. GRPS Maintenance Supervisor Tim Hopkins said that the computer was purchased with money from an energy bond in the 1980s. It replaced a computer that was "about the size of a refrigerator."

Either 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', or, 'why is a school in the US not using newer, more modern technology?'.


Written by Thom Holwerda on Fri 12th Jun 2015 10:37 UTC

When Android Wear came out over the course of last year, Google promised that the young, new platform would receive updates "early and often". While it wasn't said with so many words, it's easy to read between the lines: Google was going to make sure Android Wear users wouldn't face the same headaches as Android users when it comes to updates. Wear would be a more tightly controlled platform, built in such a way that updates could go straight to users' devices without meddling from carriers or roadblocks thrown up by crappy customisations.

Fast forward to June 2015, and Google has recently released Android Wear 5.1.1, which, despite its humble version number increase over 5.0.1, is a pretty significant update to the smartwatch platform. It enables WiFi on devices that support it, adds new ways to interact with your watch, and makes it easier to launch applications. All in all, it looks like a great update.

Sadly, I can only go by what others have told me, despite owning the poster Android Wear device - the Moto 360.