Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Feb 2015 11:27 UTC
In the News

Kevin Lee calls it "Steve Jobs Syndrome." As the former head of product strategy and user experience design at Samsung Design America, Lee watched as the $100 billion Korean tech giant wrote check after check to countless Western design firms to develop future products for the Korean company. The designers would dig in their heels, refusing to budge on their grand idea or see how it might fit into Samsung's vast production line. And Samsung management would either discard the idea entirely, or water it down so much that the product became another meaningless SKU in the hundreds of products Samsung sells today.

The 'Steve Jobs Syndrome' thing makes no sense - clicks! Clicks! Clicks! - but the rest looks accurate. You can't buy taste - the rumoured one million gold Apple Watches are proof enough of that.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Feb 2015 00:14 UTC
In the News

Barack Obama has angered officials in Europe after suggesting that investigations by the European Union into companies like Google and Facebook were "commercially driven." In an interview with Recode, the president claimed that European "service providers who ... can't compete with ours, are essentially trying to set up some roadblocks for our companies to operate effectively there." The truth, however, is more nuanced than this.

Right, because the US would never do anything to protect its own companies above foreign ones.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Feb 2015 21:37 UTC
Linux

It's not a secret that I've been working on sandboxed desktop applications recently. In fact, I recently gave a talk at devconf.cz about it. However, up until now I've mainly been focusing on the bundling and deployment aspects of the problem. I've been running applications in their own environment, but having pretty open access to the system.

Now that the basics are working it's time to start looking at how to create a real sandbox. This is going to require a lot of changes to the Linux stack. For instance, we have to use Wayland instead of X11, because X11 is impossible to secure. We also need to use kdbus to allow desktop integration that is properly filtered at the kernel level.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Feb 2015 21:35 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

How big of a phenomenon is the Raspberry Pi? The charity organization behind the tiny, low-cost computer announced this morning that over 5 million Pis have now been sold. The original Pi went on sale about three years ago next week, so 5 million is a pretty huge milestone to hit in that short period of time. The organization boasts that this figure appears to make it "the biggest selling UK computer manufacturer ever," though you wouldn't be wrong to take issue with its comparison: Pi is selling $20 to $35 computers - not machines that you're going to use for serious productivity for a few years.

Impressive, and well-deserved.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Feb 2015 23:39 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

LG today has unveiled its latest Android Wear building on the original LG G Watch R and coming up with a more stylish and formal and all-metal "LG Watch Urbane" that's "designed for a sophisticated and cosmopolitan wearer." Available in gold or silver, it's still a standard 22mm model, so you'll be able to swap out straps if you like. LG's slimmed down the bezel, as well as the overall size and thickness. The stainless steel handle also has improve protection against scratches and corrosion.

This is starting to look quarterway decent, but it's still Android Wear, and Android Wear sucks, so it still a long, long way off from passing the funeral test. I'm glad LG is taking the smartwatch in this direction though - a little less computer, a little more watch. The competition - including Apple - can learn from this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Feb 2015 23:34 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

In 1989, Commodore began an endeavor which was way overdue. The creation of a near Amiga-quality computer that is 8-bit in spirit, compatible with the popular Commodore 64 (through an emulation mode), and containing a built in disk drive. Assuming that the price range could have been set below $499, and assuming that this project had been done back in 1985 instead of 1989-1991, I believe this would have been an big seller for Commodore, and would have breathed life into them which would have extended CBM beyond 1994.

I never knew they tried to create the Commodore 65. Fascinating. There's even an emulator for it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Feb 2015 23:29 UTC
In the News

It's pure arrogance for Silicon Valley to imagine that it can make wearables cool by hiring a few fashion people, putting the product on a runway, or throwing money at "collaborations" with brands. This is a new game they're trying to play, one with different rules. The rollout of the Apple Watch would look much different if it were orchestrated by a brand like Chanel. Instead of being released at $350, it would hit stores with a price tag in the thousands. Consumers would clamor to get their hands on one, only to be stymied by limited runs, which would further stoke desire. Only after a few years of artificial scarcity would it enjoy wider release.

Obnoxious? Maybe. But to do cool right, brands have to jettison tech world values like accessibility and utopianism. Cool isn't fair. You can't have it both ways.

We'll see how it goes. The Apple Watch will sell pretty well early on - but I have no idea how well it will do in the long term. Most wearables end up inn drawers, uncharged, forgotten. Time will tell if the Apple Watch will be any different.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Feb 2015 20:58 UTC
Apple

A very long portrait of Jonathan Ive. There are way too many things to quote here, so I'm picking this one.

One morning at Apple’s headquarters, a few weeks earlier, Ive recalled how, in 1997, the company seemed to be dying around him. "Every story you'd read, every morning before coming to work, started with the phrase 'The beleaguered computer maker, Apple,' " he said. Ive was then thirty; after five years at the company, he had become its head of industrial design. “There was a Wired cover that had a big Apple logo with a crown of barbed wire, as thorns, and underneath it just said, 'PRAY.' I remember this because of how upsetting it was. Basically saying: either it's going to just go out of business or be bought."

It's remarkable how Apple went from effectively bankrupt (no joke: the company was 90 days from going bankrupt) to what it is today. A lot of Apple fans like to make fun of Michael Dell's comment that Apple should just shut down and give its money to shareholders, but at that time, that comment was entirely, 100% accurate.

The only reason Apple got back up on its feet was Steve Jobs, and nothing else. This recovery was a miracle, and nobody - nobody - saw it coming. This miraculous recovery will be taught in schools and universities for centuries to come.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Feb 2015 00:36 UTC
Windows

XDA forum member RustyGrom has already figured out how to install Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones onto non-approved Lumia devices. As always with Windows - it's a simple registry switch.

From a high level this works by using FiddlerCore to intercept the traffic going to the Microsoft WPflights server that controls the Insider app and responds with our own custom data. The app accepts registry editing information from the web responses and acts upon that. This allows us to write stuff to select locations in the registry. In the case of the Windows 10 Preview, it appears to only look for your phone's PhoneManufacturerModelName to decide if it should be offered previews. Windows Update also checks this value. Other devices like Samsungs or HTCs may need different settings.

The hack is still in its early stages, and really, don't do this if you have no idea what you're doing, but there are already reports of success.

XDA is a magical, magical place.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Feb 2015 00:30 UTC
Amiga & AROS

Hyperion Entertainment Cvba in Sint-Agatha-Berchem (Brussel) was declared bankrupt by the court in Brussel on 27-01-2015. The appointed curator is Bert Dehandschutter. The company number is 466380552. The (main) activity of Hyperion Entertainment Cvba is computer programming, consultancy and related activities.

Hyperion is the company that developers AmigaOS 4.x. I've never quite understood how, exactly, the licensing situation was arranged - the owned the right to develop the operating system, but did not own the brands and operating system itself etc. etc. - but let's just hope this isn't the end of the road for AmigaOS.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Feb 2015 00:27 UTC
Apple

Following a report today that Apple was hiring experts from the automotive industry for a new research lab, The Wall Street Journal adds to the story claiming Apple has several hundred employees working on an Apple-branded electric car:

Apple has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. They said the project, code-named "Titan," has an initial design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of these people said.

The report adds that CEO Tim Cook approved the project close to a year ago with product design Vice President Steve Zadesky leading the group, lining up with rumors that Apple is working on something that will "give Tesla a run for its money."

Apple as a car company.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Feb 2015 23:49 UTC
Android

Wow. There are quite a few people talking about yesterday's Canalys estimate of 720,000 Android Wear shipments in the last six months of 2014. And most of that talk is ridiculous, with little to no perspective on the market itself. All of the doom and gloom I’m reading about Android Wear may yet come to pass, but to base it on shipment data at this point in time is premature for several reasons.

It's an interesting perspective, and the author certainly makes some good points, but disappointing or no, the real problem for me is still that Android Wear and current smartwatches in general are, simply, shit.

I've never based my opinions on popularity, and I don't intend to start now.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Feb 2015 18:29 UTC
Windows

Microsoft has released Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones, but only for a very small number of low-end devices (Lumia 630, 638, 635, 730, 636, 830), so most of us are out of luck. The reason for this limited initial release is technical in nature.

Some context on why we chose these and not higher end phones like the 930/Icon or 1520: We have a feature that will be coming soon called “partition stitching” which will allow us to adjust the OS partition dynamically to create room for the install process to be able to update the OS in-place. Until this comes in, we needed devices which were configured by mobile operators with sufficiently sized OS partitions to allow the in-place upgrade, and many of the bigger phones have very tight OS partitions.

I only have an HTC 8X, which technically should get Windows 10 eventually, but since it's not a Microsoft device I doubt it's very high on the priority list.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Feb 2015 16:57 UTC
Apple

This spontaneous anti-green-bubble brigade is an interesting example of how sometimes very subtle product decisions in technology influence the way culture works. Apple uses a soothing, on-brand blue for messages in its own texting platform, and a green akin to that of the Android robot logo for people tweeting from outside its ecosystem.

Believe it or not, these are people going batshit crazy because they are texting with someone who doesn't have an iPhone. And people espousing a certain pride over this shallowness.

These are probably the same shallow people who threatened to kill their parents or kill themselves when they didn't get an iPhone for Christmas. For once, I'm glad everyone in The Netherlands uses WhatsApp because we're an 85% Android country.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Feb 2015 16:00 UTC
Android

Very interesting interview with Adrian Ludwig, lead engineer for Android security at Google. There are a lot of fascinating answers to quote here, and I'm going for this one - do you need antivirus crap on your Android phone?

In 2014, according to Verify Apps data collected by Google and ignoring rooting apps that were intentionally installed by users, fewer than 0.15 percent of Applications installed from outside of Google Play to U.S. English devices were classified as Potentially Harmful Applications. Given the built-in protection provided by Verify Apps and the low frequency of occurrence of installation of PHAs, the potential security benefit of an additional security solution is very small.

I - and many others - have been saying this for ages, but let me just repeat it: do not install third-party security solutions on your Android phone. They are useless resource hogs that provide no additional security, and are built by scammy, untrustworthy, and needlessly alarmist software peddlers.

That being said, it'd be great if Google released more information about these background security tools in Android - more specifically, numbers, numbers, numbers.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Feb 2015 09:59 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

JanOS is an operating system designed to run on the chipset of mobile phones. It runs without a screen, and allows you to access all phone functionality, from calling to the camera, through JavaScript APIs.

Why?

Current development boards for Internet of Things solutions have one big problem: they are very expensive. Boards like the Raspberry Pi or Arduino have a limited feature set and simple extensions, like a GSM shield, can cost $80. That is a shockingly high price when a full smartphone can be available for just $30. Why not break out the mainboard from a mobile phone and use that to develop embedded projects? Cheaper and more powerful.

It's built on top of Gecko, so you can use Firefox OS APIs. Interesting.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Feb 2015 09:55 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

In past years Apple has said it's cracking down on the manipulation of App Store rankings through bot programs, but a recent image from Chinese social media site Weibo suggests the trade is alive and well using actual iPhones. The photo is captioned "hardworking App Store ranking manipulation employee," and shows a young woman sat in front of a bank of around 50 iPhone 5cs, all hooked up with a nest of cables. There's an identical bank of iPhones on her right and what looks like two more smartphone-laden desks facing away from her on the other side of the room.

On some sites, the photo is being paired with an alleged price list for the services (above), with Tech in Asia reporting that it will cost customers RMB 70,000 ($11,200) to get into the top ten free apps (that's the option at the top), while keeping it there will cost RMB 405,000 ($65,000) each week. The third column reportedly shows the monthly price for these services, while the fourth gives potential customers a contact number on QQ - a popular messaging app run by Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Wait, you mean to tell me the popularity contest that is the application store rewards quantity, not quality?

Say it isn't so.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Feb 2015 23:48 UTC
Internet & Networking

Software increasingly defines the world around us. It's rewriting everything about human interaction - I spend a lot more time on my iPhone than I do at my local civic center. Facebook, Apple, Tinder, Snapchat, and Google create our social realities - how we make friends, how we get jobs, and how mankind interacts. And the truth is, women don't truly have a seat at the table.

This has disastrous consequences for women that use these systems built by men for men. I must use Twitter, as it's a crucial networking tool for a software engineer, yet I must also suffer constant harassment. Women's needs are not heard, our truth is never spoken. These systems are the next frontier of human evolution, and they're increasingly dangerous for us.

You can close your eyes for this. You can cover your ears, shouting "LA LA LA LA!" at the top of your voice. You are free to do so.

Until it's your daughter, and you realise that your refusal to acknowledge this huge problem will have consequences.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Feb 2015 20:21 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Over 720,000 Android Wear devices shipped in 2014 out of a total of 4.6 million smart wearable bands. Though the Moto 360 remained supply constrained through Q4, Motorola was the clear leader among Android Wear vendors. LG’s round G Watch R performed significantly better than its original G Watch, while Asus and Sony entered the market with their own Android Wear devices. Pebble meanwhile shipped a total of 1 million units from its 2013 launch through to the end of 2014.

That's not a whole lot, but that doesn't surprise me considering how terrible Android Wear and current smartwatches are.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Feb 2015 16:34 UTC
Windows

Today, Microsoft released their latest Patch Tuesday. This Patch includes a fix for vulnerability CVE-2015-0057, an IMPORTANT-rated exploitable vulnerability which we responsibly disclosed to Microsoft a few months ago. As part of our research, we revealed this privilege escalation vulnerability which, if exploited, enables a threat actor to complete control of a Windows machine. In other words, a threat actor that gains access to a Windows machine (say, through a phishing campaign) can exploit this vulnerability to bypass all Windows security measures, defeating mitigation measures such as sandboxing, kernel segregation and memory randomization.

Interestingly, the exploit requires modifying only a single bit of the Windows operating system.

Fascinating.