Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 21st Aug 2015 21:36 UTC

Microsoft released the third cumulative update to Windows 10 last week. But surprisingly, the supporting document associated with the patch - known as KB3081438 - was devoid of any information pertaining to what the update contained, except that "it includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10". This surprised many users of the OS, keeping in mind that Microsoft was forthcoming about the fixes in the previous two cumulative patches. The company has now offered an explanation regarding its policy of change logs regarding Windows 10 patches.

It seems like nobody is taking the time anymore to write proper changelogs. Application and even operating system updates are void of any accompanying info, so you have no idea what's new, changed, fixed, or improved.

A unwelcome development.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 21st Aug 2015 13:03 UTC
Multimedia, AV

An ill-timed Spotify privacy policy update has generated an online backlash against the music streaming service just days after the messy Ashley Madison leak. With privacy firmly in the minds of internet users this week, Wired jumped straight on Spotify's new policy to brand it an "eerie" agreement "you can't do squat about."

My CDs never ask me to agree to a privacy policy.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Aug 2015 22:55 UTC

Recent changes to the rules phone makers need to follow to get a Google approved version of Android have allowed for certain apps to no longer be mandatory. Google Play Games, Google Play Books, Google+ and Google Newsstand now join the ranks with Google Earth and Google Keep as apps that aren't a required part of the Google applications package. They are still in the Play Store, are still regularly updated and will work just as well for those of us who want them. And this is how things ought to be. In fact, we'd like to see even more Google apps get sent packing, but still be there in the Play store for those who want them.

Good. The less crapware - even stock crapware - on our phones, the better. I hope Apple follows in Google's footsteps, because iOS is accumulating a seizable amount of crapware too.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Aug 2015 21:05 UTC

It turns out that when you make an unconventional phone that lets you swap out its core components, it can be hard to make that same phone stay put together - at least compared to today's smartphones. Google's Project Ara team has tweeted an explanation for why its pilot test plans were reworked and delayed: the current model wasn't faring well when dropped. "No more electropermanent magnets," the team tweeted.

That's what you get when you push the envelope.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Aug 2015 21:01 UTC
General Development

This release includes significant changes to the implementation. The compiler tool chain was translated from C to Go, removing the last vestiges of C code from the Go code base. The garbage collector was completely redesigned, yielding a dramatic reduction in garbage collection pause times. Related improvements to the scheduler allowed us to change the default GOMAXPROCS value (the number of concurrently executing goroutines) from 1 to the number of logical CPUs. Changes to the linker enable distributing Go packages as shared libraries to link into Go programs, and building Go packages into archives or shared libraries that may be linked into or loaded by C programs (design doc).


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Aug 2015 20:59 UTC

Out of all the BlackBerry 'Venice' slider leaks thus far, none have really given us a full look at the keyboard on the upcoming device and that, of course, has left some folks skeptical of everything we've seen recently. Looking to end some of those doubts, @evleaks, has now posted up a follow-up to the first leaked render of the device that clearly shows off that glorious BlackBerry keyboard.

Instant buy if this comes out in time for my contract renewal in October. Finally a modern Android device with a hardware keyboard.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 18th Aug 2015 23:04 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

So let's do that summary again: Samsung disappointed stylus fans in Europe and wasn't upfront about it; it frustrated power users who look to the Note series to push into ever-higher specs; and it introduced a second Edge device before it could come up with a solid reason to have even one. All of this, along with the erroneous web listings, muddled the launch and anticipation for a pair of technically impressive devices that give everyone more choice and not less.

At this point, I have no idea what Samsung is thinking. Not releasing the Note 5 in Europe, opting to only offer the Edge Plus, is pure insanity.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 18th Aug 2015 23:00 UTC

What does it mean to use a flagship smartphone in 2015? It likely means that you're using a phone with a great display, fast performance, good battery life, good build quality, and a great camera. If I'm being honest, I have to say that the OnePlus 2 doesn't hit all of those marks, but it hits most of them and does so at a price that's just over half that of a comparable iPhone. It's not a flagship killer by any means - this year or next - but it's a really solid smartphone that does most everything you need it to do really well. It's easily the best deal on the market right now if you want a high-end smartphone.

AndroidCentral has another review of the OnePlus 2. Looks like a great phone for the price, but with some small issues.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 18th Aug 2015 22:23 UTC

While we count on Wi-Fi more than ever to be entertained, productive, and stay connected, we're streaming and sharing in new ways our old routers were never built to handle. So today, with our partner TP-LINK, we're launching OnHub, a different kind of router for a new way to Wi-Fi. Instead of headaches and spotty connections, OnHub gives you Wi-Fi that's fast, secure, and easy to use.

Over the years, I've had a lot of routers, and all of them were bad products. No ifs and buts. They had connection problems, terrible user interfaces, they were ugly, and a pain to use. Once I finally had enough, I decided to splurge and get an Apple AirPort Extreme. I can assure you - it's one of the best purchases I've ever made. Great UI, zero problems, it looks nice, and it always works.

This new Google product is effectively Google's AirPort Extreme, and as such, I'm pretty sure this will be a great product too. Sure, like the AirPort Extreme, it's a lot more expensive than the crappy €35 routers you can buy, but they're totally worth it.

There's also quite a beefy computer in there, and I wonder if you could get to it and do cool stuff with it.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Aug 2015 22:06 UTC, submitted by BloopFloop
Amiga & AROS

The story of the Amiga family of microcomputers is akin to that of a musical band that breaks up after one incandescent, groundbreaking album: the band may be forgotten by many, but the cognoscenti can discern its impact on work produced decades later.

So the Amiga 30 event held at Silicon Valley's Computer History Museum in late July was more than a commemoration of some interesting technology of the past. It was also a celebration of the Amiga's persistent influence on personal computing.

The Amiga was easily 10 years ahead of its time. Too bad the good ones rarely win. This is also a good moment to repost the 8-part series on the Amiga at Ars.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Aug 2015 18:56 UTC

Whether you like them straight out of the bag, roasted to a golden brown exterior with a molten center, or in fluff form, who doesn't like marshmallows? We definitely like them! Since the launch of the M Developer Preview at Google I/O in May, we've enjoyed all of your participation and feedback. Today with the final Developer Preview update, we're introducing the official Android 6.0 SDK and opening Google Play for publishing your apps that target the new API level 23 in Android Marshmallow.

Think twice before flashing this third Android 6.0 developer preview - you'll need to reflash to a factory image once the final version is released.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 14th Aug 2015 17:53 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Interesting analysis of the tablet market by Neil Cybart.

A quick look at iPad and tablet shipment data would show that things have gotten bad in recent quarters. However, in reality, things are much worse than quarterly shipment data would suggest. The seasonality found in the tablet segment makes it difficult to see these long-term problems. A much better way at understanding what has been taking place is to look at the year-over-year change in shipments on a trailing 12-month (TTM) basis, highlighted in Exhibit 1. This smoothing effect highlights that the iPad and tablet have been on the decline for years and things continue to worsen with the overall tablet market hitting negative territory for the first time. All momentum has been lost.

It's a pretty grim picture, but it's not surprising. After modern tablets burst onto the scene - led by the iPad - we were pummelled by hyperbole after hyperbole about the post-PC revolution and how the tablet would destroy the PC; and indeed, for a short while, the staggering sales numbers of the iPad (later overtaken by Android tablets) seemed to lend credence to these hyperboles.

And then things kind of... Well, stagnated. Google has never really taken tablets seriously, and with hindsight we can now say that was probably a good idea. Apple, too, has completely ignored and squandered the potential it saw for the iPad. Little to no tablet-specific work has been done on the iPad side of iOS, and as such, the iPad has never managed to grow beyond its status as a consumption-only device.

Speaking of consumption, I found this sentiment in Sybart's article quite puzzling.

Many didn't see it, but tablets were quickly turning into content consumption devices where price was a leading purchase decision.

"Many didn't see it"? "Turning into"? Really? I don't know about you, but since the iPad's introduction, there've been only two groups of people claiming that the iPad was not strictly a consumption device: Apple employees and Apple bloggers/reporters. Everybody else has been fully aware of the iPad's (and other tablets') main use case from day one.

Lukas Mathis has written a great reply to Sybart's article, hitting the nail on the head so hard, the nail's probably saying hello to New Horizons by now:

Better hardware would help, but I think it's very important to acknowledge that the thing standing in the way of productive work on the iPad is not its hardware. It's iOS.

iOS is a cumbersome system for even reasonably complex productive tasks. Apple has started fixing the window management problem, but there's still the document management problem (most real-world tasks involve multiple documents from multiple sources - there's pretty much no way to organize and manage document from different applications in iOS), and the workflow problem (many real-world tasks involve putting the same document through multiple apps, which iOS is still not great at, albeit getting better).

And then there's the fact that few developers are willing to invest a lot of money into productive apps on the iPad. They are expensive to create, the market is small, and Apple's handling of how apps are sold on its devices does not instill confidence.

The thing that's preventing people from using the iPad productively is not the small screen, it's the operating system.

All this is further made worse by how hard iPads are to deploy and manage in educational and corporate settings (compared to Windows laptops and Chromebooks).

The question now is this: will Apple ripping off Windows 8's Metro environment be enough to regain the squandered potential? Do we need a larger iPad, as has been rumoured for so long now? Or do we just have to accept that no, tablets and touch just aren't going to work for anything but simple, consumption-focused computing tasks?

I think I know the answer.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 14th Aug 2015 17:31 UTC, submitted by Adurbe

The ongoing legal saga known as the Oracle-Google copyright battle took a huge leap Wednesday when Oracle claimed the last six Android operating systems are "infringing Oracle's copyrights in the Java platform."

That's according to the latest paperwork Oracle filed in the five-year-old closely watched case that so far has resulted in the determination that Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are, indeed, copyrightable.

Oracle is the cesspit of the industry. What a horrible, horrible company.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 14th Aug 2015 17:27 UTC, submitted by Nth_Man
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Many people have resisted the idea that Chromebooks really were growing in popularity. Now, less five years after the first commercial Chromebook, the Samsung Series 5 and Acer Chromebook went on sale, NPD, the global retail research group, is reporting that Chromebook sales in June and early July had exceeded "sales of Windows notebooks ... passing the 50 percent market share threshold."

I found this hard to believe, and as it turns out, the author is being clickbaity by burying an important little fact further down in the story: this only applies to B2B channels. I changed the OSNews headline (which is usually just copied) accordingly.

Still, it's evident that Chromebooks are here to stay, and are, indeed, a huge success.


Linked by tenox on Fri 14th Aug 2015 17:21 UTC
General Development

This is follow up to a previously posted challenge to virtualize VenturComm Venix/86 so that it can be run on a modern machine under an emulator. The competition was a huge success and the rest of this post is an entry by the winner - Jim Carpenter. Enjoy!


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 14th Aug 2015 10:09 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

From a consumer's perspective, Google's Android operating system has been an exceedingly good thing. It's the only viable competitor to have kept pace with Apple's iPhone, and in its time it has stimulated grand battles between device manufacturers - first competing on specs, and now on price. All this competition has driven smartphone development forward at a blistering pace, and we're all profiting from it now, but it has its downsides, too. Today is a fitting day to take a closer look at those.

Odd article. It argues that cheaper, low-cost Android devices are hurting consumers, which I find peculiar. People have a choice. Nobody is forcing you to buy any phone - you actively choose to get something cheap, risks included. These cheaper manufacturers - from shady ones all the way to by-now proven companies like OnePlus and OPPO - provide more choice, not less. Thanks to these companies, I get to choose between sending 40-50% free money profit margins to Apple or Samsung, or get a similarly specced phone of equal quality for a fraction of the price.

This is good. This is choice. I know a lot of people ascribe to the idea that you should not give people too much choice because their dainty, fragile little minds can't comprehend it, but I disagree with that vehemently. More choice in the market is always better than less choice - and if that means companies like HTC have to crumble because they can't keep up... Well, I just don't care. They'll make way for a dozen others.

That's business.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 13th Aug 2015 17:00 UTC

At an event in Beijing, Xiaomi unveiled MIUI 7, the manufacturer's latest OS. Based on Android 5.1 Lollipop, MIUI 7 brings a host of UI changes, themes, features and a whole new way to receive calls.

Laugh about Xiaomi all you want, but they will bring their Android 5.1 (MIUI 7) to virtually all of its phones - only a phone form 2011 is not getting it.

This is how you do it.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 13th Aug 2015 16:21 UTC

Apple updated its Boot Camp software to include support for Windows 10. In other words, you can now officially run Windows 10 on your Mac - assuming you have a Mac from 2012 or later (roughly - don't pin me down on this one).


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 13th Aug 2015 13:20 UTC, submitted by birdie

This article was not created to say that Linux is better (it's definitely not). It was created to stop Microsoft fans roaring in regard to Windows 10 and how it's better than Windows 7 in every regard - it's actually worse in most regards aside from DirectX 12 (which is actually hidden from the user and it's only exposed in games).

Some points are more reasonable than others, but they all have at least a decent grain of truth to them. Sometimes, I don't want carefully crafted, PR-whispered, politically correct reviews that you can interpret either way.

Sometimes, you just want a sucker punch.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 13th Aug 2015 10:08 UTC
Multimedia, AV

LG is launching a new Hi-Fi music service later this month, but the company's not touting it as an Apple Music or a Spotify rival. After all, it will only be accessible through certain devices, particularly its premium phones, which likely includes the LG G4 and its predecessors, the G3 and the G2. The service will be available in 70 countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, Brazil, Russia, China and Italy.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why companies like LG, who aren't exactly raking in massive profits from their smartphone sales, are wasting precious time and money on pointless nonsense like this. Nobody is going to use this, nobody is going to care, and within less than a few years, it will be shutdown.

What's the point?