Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Dec 2014 18:24 UTC

Rumours of Nintendo working on its own mobile phone have been appearing on and off for the past decade, and recently we even heard that the idea almost become a reality back in 2004. The prospect of owning a mobile telecommunications device crafted to suit Nintendo's unique vision is a tantalising one, but the firm has so far refused to embrace the notion. With shareholders calling for Nintendo to make its titles available for a wider audience by embracing existing mobile platforms such as iOS and Android, you might assume that the time for creating a unique mobile device has long since passed, but we're not so sure. In fact, it could be argued that there's never been a better time for Nintendo to release a handset of its own.

Would you switch phones for Mario? Would anyone?

Then again, imagine if Google struck a deal with Nintendo - a full, proper Android phone from Nintendo, with exclusive access to Nintendo's games via Nintendo's own additional platform. Could potentially work.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Dec 2014 18:21 UTC

The maps we use to navigate have come a long way in a short time. Since the '90s we've gone from glove boxes stuffed with paper maps to floorboards littered with Mapquest printouts to mindlessly obeying Siri or her nameless Google counterpart.

The maps behind those voices are packed with far more data than most people realize. On a recent visit to Mountain View, I got a peek at how the Google Maps team assembles their maps and refines them with a combination of algorithms and meticulous manual labor - an effort they call Ground Truth. The project launched in 2008, but it was mostly kept under wraps until just a couple years ago. It continues to grow, now covering 51 countries, and algorithms are playing a bigger role in extracting information from satellite, aerial, and Street View imagery.

This would have been complete science fiction only very recently.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 6th Dec 2014 00:21 UTC

Starting just a few minutes ago at 1 p.m. ET, Microsoft has begun to roll out another OS update for those utilizing the Preview for Developers program.

Heading into Settings and Phone Update, users can tap the Check for Updates button to begin downloading the latest version of Windows Phone 8.1.1. Part of this update should enable Cortana for those in Europe, which was announced this morning. As usual, we also expect some bug fixes and optimizations as well.

Cortana will be available in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Sidenote: this developer program is the best thing to happen to Windows Phone in a long time. Good job, Microsoft.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 6th Dec 2014 00:15 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Among the topics discussed, why John Chen took the CEO job at BlackBerry, how the company has progressed since his arrival, the NSA and his plans for the future of BlackBerry. Even if you've heard some of the information before, it's still an interesting and deeper look into the man now in charge of BlackBerry.

I could have been a BlackBerry customer. I tried to buy a Passport in Canada a few weeks ago, but nobody wanted to sell me one. Every shop I went into carried them, but when I waved my credit card in front of the salespeople and told them they didn't even have to convince me to give them 700-800 Canadian dollars, they told me they were not allowed to sell me Passports off-contract. They are only allowed to sell Passports on-contract and locked.

As a Dutch guy waving 700-800 dollars around, this continues to baffle me to this day.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 6th Dec 2014 00:11 UTC

Apple has notified the court that it plans to move for a dismissal in the class action lawsuit against its DRM practices, claiming the plaintiffs in the case did not purchase any iPods which are covered in the lawsuit.

This lawsuit is the silliest lawsuit in a long string of silly lawsuits. What a waste of court resources. Has there ever been a legitimate class-action lawsuit in tech?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 5th Dec 2014 11:13 UTC
In the News

Mark Zuckerberg, on Apple's and its supporters' tired and overused "you're not the customer. You're the product" tripe.

"A frustration I have is that a lot of people increasingly seem to equate an advertising business model with somehow being out of alignment with your customers," Zuckerberg says. "I think it's the most ridiculous concept. What, you think because you're paying Apple that you're somehow in alignment with them? If you were in alignment with them, then they'd make their products a lot cheaper!"

That sound you hear is a nail being hit squarely on the head. If you as a consumer were not Apple's product, they would not be charging you margins of 40-50%. Add to this the fact that Apple also collects all kinds of information about its customers, and it becomes even more laughable.

Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft - they all see you as just one thing: walking bank accounts. That's it. Don't fool yourself into thinking you're anything more to them just to justify using their crap.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Dec 2014 23:30 UTC

Bitrig 1.0 - an OpenBSD fork - has been released. Why, exactly, did Bitrig fork OpenBSD?

OpenBSD is an amazing project and has some of the best code around but some of us are of the opinion that it could use a bit of modernization. OpenBSD is a very security conscious project and, correspondingly, has to be more conservative with features. We want to be less restrictive with the codebase when it comes to experimenting with features.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Dec 2014 20:30 UTC
Amiga & AROS

AmiKit 8 has been released, with MUI 4.

It brings the same experience as AmigaOS4 users have been enjoying for some time. Actually, MUI 4 for AmigaOS4 and MUI 4 for AmigaOS3 are built from the same source code, so any similarities between the two builds are 100% intended!

Great news for AmigaOS 3.x users. The previous version of MUI is 17 years old.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Dec 2014 20:27 UTC
Internet & Networking

When Gabriel Weinberg launched a search engine in 2008, plenty of people thought he was insane. How could DuckDuckGo, a tiny, Philadelphia-based startup, go up against Google? One way, he wagered, was by respecting user privacy. Six years later, we're living in the post-Snowden era, and the idea doesn't seem so crazy.

In fact, DuckDuckGo is exploding.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Dec 2014 12:53 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Paul Graham, way back in 2009:

More generally, you can have a fruitful discussion about a topic only if it doesn't engage the identities of any of the participants. What makes politics and religion such minefields is that they engage so many people's identities. But you could in principle have a useful conversation about them with some people. And there are other topics that might seem harmless, like the relative merits of Ford and Chevy pickup trucks, that you couldn't safely talk about with others.

And the key takeaway:

Most people reading this will already be fairly tolerant. But there is a step beyond thinking of yourself as x but tolerating y: not even to consider yourself an x. The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you.

Run a site like OSNews for almost a decade, and you'll see this article come to life every single day.


Linked by jessesmith on Wed 3rd Dec 2014 23:31 UTC

A few weeks ago the PC-BSD project released version 10.1 of its FreeBSD-based operating system. While it was expected that existing users would be able to upgrade smoothly from PC-BSD 10.0 to 10.1, some community members reported problems with the project's upgrade process. The PC-BSD team has acknowledged the problem and is working on a fix.

We are working on a new upgrade patch that will hopefully solve the upgrade problem for some of you who have still not been able to successfully upgrade to 10.1. What we are planning on doing is incorporating just freebsd-update to handle this upgrade for the kernel and let the packages be installed seperately after the kernel has been upgraded.

Going forward we have some ideas on how we can improve the updating process to give a better end user experience for PC-BSD. Just one idea we’ve been thinking about is giving ourselves a little more time before letting RELEASE updates become available to the public. During the extra time period we can ask some of our more advanced users to go ahead and install the “beta” updates and provide us with feedback if issues come up that we were not able to find during our initial testing of the update.

The project hopes to implement a simplified upgrade experience and more tests to insure smoother upgrades to future releases.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 3rd Dec 2014 23:31 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y

Interesting video comparing Android Auto with Apple's CarPlay (via Daring Fireball).

The takeaway for me is clear - CarPlay looks like a mess, with iOS 6 stuff intermingled with vague iOS 7+ designs, but without any clear vision tying it all together. In short, it's ugly as sin. Android Auto looks fantastic and coherent - but it seems far too distracting to be safe to use while driving. It looks too good to be in a car in which it is very easy to either kill yourself or someone else - or both.

Interesting, though, that car makers are simply putting both systems in their cars.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 3rd Dec 2014 23:26 UTC

When I thought about what motivated me to lob this snarkbomb, I realized I was looking for a reaction. I wanted some kind of defiant response to questions that've recently bugged me - What's going on with Google+? Where is it headed? What the fuck is it for, anyway?

Good question.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 3rd Dec 2014 13:48 UTC
Multimedia, AV

In the past few weeks, I've had conversations with intelligent, scientifically minded individuals who believe in 24/192 downloads and want to know how anyone could possibly disagree. They asked good questions that deserve detailed answers.

I was also interested in what motivated high-rate digital audio advocacy. Responses indicate that few people understand basic signal theory or the sampling theorem, which is hardly surprising. Misunderstandings of the mathematics, technology, and physiology arose in most of the conversations, often asserted by professionals who otherwise possessed significant audio expertise. Some even argued that the sampling theorem doesn't really explain how digital audio actually works.

Misinformation and superstition only serve charlatans. So, let's cover some of the basics of why 24/192 distribution makes no sense before suggesting some improvements that actually do.

The article is from 2012, but it's still an interesting insight into these highly technical matters few of us understand properly.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 3rd Dec 2014 00:36 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

My feelings about the Michael Bastian MB Chronowing are positive, but my larger feelings about the smartwatch segment are still reserved. I will be the first person to announce that "we have made it" with a truly appealing smartwatch that will be a good buy for most consumers. Smartwatches right now are products that do work, have some downsides, and that show incredible promise for the future.

This smartwatch differs greatly from Android Wear devices or the Apple Watch - but it's an interesting approach nonetheless. It looks a lot more like a traditional watch than the aforementioned two, which could certainly have its place. The Apple Watch looks far too techy and computer-y to me (it's essentially Apple cramming an iPhone onto your wrist, warts and all - the Windows PocketPC of smartwatches), whereas most Android Wear devices still need a lot of work (the bugs!).

This intermediate approach bridges the gap between a proper, classic watch and the techy stuff we see from Apple. This device sits on the classic watch end of the spectrum, whereas the Moto 360 sits closer to the modern end of the spectrum. The Apple Watch goes far beyond that, leaving the classic watch behind, trying to sell us a miniature smartphone on our wrists, just as Samsung is doing with the Gear S - with all the miniature, finnicky and convoluted controls that come with it.

I bought a Moto 360 last Saturday, and while I certainly like it - it's a fascinating feat of engineering and a lot of fun to play with - I still fail to see the need for a miniature smartphone on your wrist. Android Wear allows for proper, full applications, but the display is just too small for these to be of any practical use. The notification stuff, however - the very centerpiece of Android Wear - is amazing, and you won't realise until you wear one of these for a while just how liberating it is not to fumble around for your smartphone while out and about. For someone like me, who runs his own translation business and is always available to my clients, this is just great.

I don't believe, however, that a smartwatch should do much more than handle notifications, which makes the application-centric approach of the Apple Watch so incredibly puzzling to me. But then, I'm guessing Apple is a lot smarter than me, and apparently they believe there's a market for a tiny iPhone with finnicky applications and controls on your wrist.

I can't wait to find out how this one pans out - which one will come out on top? Google's minimalist approach, or Apple's everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Dec 2014 21:08 UTC

AnandTech reviews Android 5.0 Lollipop, and concludes:

I think Google really hit the nail on the head with Android Lollipop. It evokes the same sort of feeling that the release of iOS 7 did, without some of the negative experiences that followed. Getting a brand new interface is always exciting, as it can dramatically change how it feels to use your phone. Moving from KitKat to Lollipop still provides you with a familiar Android experience, but it almost feels like getting a brand new phone in a way. There's a brand new UI, and big improvements to performance. But unlike the upgrade to iOS 7, Android Lollipop hasn't plagued my devices with application crashes and other bugs. In fact, I haven't really noticed any significant bugs at all after upgrading to Lollipop, which says a great deal about the work Google has put into testing to make sure things are stable.

My experience with Android 5.0 Lollipop on my Nexus 5 have been almost entirely positive. It's still Android, and it won't magically draw people away from iOS, but as a whole, it's a huge leap forward over what came before.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Dec 2014 00:36 UTC

According to the latest data from IDC, Google, for the first time ever, has overtaken Apple in United States schools. The research firm claims that Google shipped 715,000 Chromebooks to schools in the third quarter, while Apple shipped 702,000 iPads to schools. Chromebooks as a whole now account for a quarter of the educational market (via FT).

IDC says that the lower-cost of Chromebooks when compared to iPads is a huge factor for school districts. Chromebooks start at $199, while last year's iPad Air, with educational discounts applied, costs $379. The research firm also says that many school corporations prefer the full keyboard found on Chromebooks instead of the touchscreen found on iPads. Some schools that use iPads, however, supply students with a keyboard case as well, but that only further increases the cost of iPads compared to Chromebooks. IT departments also tend to favor Chromebooks because they are simpler to manage when compared to iPads.

The US education market is important to Apple, so it's remarkable to see Chromebooks do so well there. In the meantime, here in The Netherlands, I've still yet to see one in the wild.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Dec 2014 00:30 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Google's Project Ara isn't the only hope for phones with replaceable and upgradeable parts. Finland's Circular Devices is developing an alternative concept called the Puzzlephone, which breaks the handset down into three constituent elements. The phone's Spine provides the LCD, speakers and basic structure, its Heart contains the battery and secondary electronics, and its Brain has the processor and camera modules."

The concept of a modular smartphone seems to be attracting more attention. Interesting.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Dec 2014 00:28 UTC

One area Huawei is unlikely to return to, unless the market changes: Windows Phone.

Huawei produced two models running Microsoft's smartphone OS before it said it was putting its plans for future Windows Phones on hold.

"We didn't make any money in Windows Phone," Kelly said. "Nobody made any money in Windows Phone."

Of course nobody is making any money with Windows Phone. Why do you think Microsoft had to rescue the failing smartphone business from Nokia?


Linked by jessesmith on Mon 1st Dec 2014 18:20 UTC

Linux Mint, one of the most popular desktop Linux distributions, has released the latest version in their 17.x series. Mint 17.x is a long term support series that will be supported through to 2019 and is binary compatible with Ubuntu 14.04. The launch of Linux Mint 17.1 includes a number of new features and small improvements. Software updating and kernel selection have been improved. The MATE desktop edition ships with two working window managers, Marco for basic funtionality and Compiz for visual effects. The Cinnamon edition of Mint also features some improvements, particularly more keyboard short-cuts and reduced memory usage. Both editions of Linux Mint feature a pastbin command which makes it easy to share image and log data on-line.