Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 30th Oct 2018 22:25 UTC
Apple

Apple led today's event by talking about two of its most-loved devices: the MacBook Air and the Mac mini. While Apple customers may have loved these devices since their debuts, Apple hasn't shown them much love over the past couple of years.

That changed today with the introduction of the new MacBook Air (which includes updates like a Retina display, Touch ID, and Apple's butterfly keyboard) and a new Mac mini (which got a big spec bump with quad- and hexa-core processors). Today's event brought the biggest hardware changes that both devices have seen in a long time, and yet they still have a lot in common with their predecessors - and that's a good thing.

The new MacBook Air and Mac Mini are very welcome and much-needed spec bumps - they hadn't been updated in years - but especially the MacBook Air almost feels like a practical joke. It uses low-power don't-call-them-Atom processors that run at 5W and are only dual-core, with base 8GB of RAM - and Apple charges €1350 for said base model, which needs to push a lot of pixels for that new Retina display. Back when the previous generation MacBook Air was new, it was a good deal at its around €1000 price point, but this new one is impossible to justify. The new Mini has the same pricing problem, but at least offers full power processors and a bit more configurability.

These are incredibly expensive computers for the paltry performance they offer - especially since they're tasked with running macOS - but I'm sure they'll still sell well, since performance hasn't really been the Mac's strong point these last few years anyway. These expensive, underpowered Macs are the new normal.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 30th Oct 2018 22:16 UTC
Apple

This is the kind of tale that you don't hear every day. Eric Wooldridge is a Systems Specialist at Morris Hospital near Chicago. During the installation of a new GE Healthcare MRI machine, he started getting calls that cell phones weren't working. Then, some Apple Watches started glitching.

What a fascinating story.

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Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 30th Oct 2018 11:39 UTC
General Development

Lua is a scripting language developed at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) that has come to be the leading scripting language for video games worldwide. It is also used extensively in embedded devices like set-top boxes and TVs and in other applications like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Wikipedia. Its first version was released in 1993. The current version, Lua 5.3, was released in 2015.

Though mainly a procedural language, Lua lends itself to several other paradigms, including object-oriented programming, functional programming, and data-driven programming.5 It also offers good support for data description, in the style of JavaScript and JSON. Data description was indeed one of our main motivations for creating Lua, some years before the appearance of XML and JavaScript.

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Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 29th Oct 2018 23:49 UTC
Windows

How can I stop Windows 10 updates? Whether it’s preventing Windows 10 from kicking off a critical update during a presentation, or deferring Microsoft’s Windows 10 feature update because of worries about data loss, it’s a question we’ve all asked. You shouldn’t block all Windows 10 updates. But you can manage them.

Unpopular opinion incoming that will trigger a lot of people: if a Windows Update reboot ruins your live presentation or prevents you from studying, it's your own damn fault. Windows doesn't just update out of the blue - it downloads and installs whatever it can in the background, and it takes a long, long time before it just goes into rebooting your device to complete the installation process. Windows gives warnings and plenty of time for you to manually reboot your device, and if it's a device that's running all the time - like desktops often do - it will just reboot automatically overnight.

Computers require maintenance, and modern computers actually require very little of it, with updating their software being one of the very few things users still have to do. Nobody bats an eye at cleaning their kitchen and its appliances or sticking to their car's maintenance schedule, but suddenly, when it comes to computers, nobody seems to be willing to accept the same responsibility.

If you have an important presentation tomorrow, just check Windows Update to make sure everything's up to date. Not doing so and having your presentation ruined by a reboot? Shouldn't have ignored the warnings for weeks.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 29th Oct 2018 23:36 UTC
Internet & Networking

Pew surveyed more than 3,400 U.S. Facebook users in May and June, and found that a whopping 44 percent of those ages 18 to 29 say they've deleted the app from their phone in the last year. Some of them may have reinstalled it later.

Overall, 26 percent of survey respondents say they deleted the app, while 42 percent have "taken a break" for several weeks or more, and 54 percent have adjusted their privacy settings.

Facebook is terrible in every possible way. The product in and of itself is bad - terrible website and applications - and what it does to people is also bad, worse even. Garbage chain mail-like posts, obviously fake news and stories, massive echo chamber, targeting for election manipulation, and god knows what else.

I don't have the application anymore, the bookmark is gone from my browser, and I'm planning on deleting my account as well. Facebook is garbage, and nobody should use it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 29th Oct 2018 18:39 UTC
Google

One of the most notable steps Google took last month to prepare for the next 20 years of Search is Google Discover. A rebrand of the Google Feed, it is part of the company's efforts to surface information without users actively having to ask for it. Google Discover is now beginning to roll out in google.com on mobile devices.

I don't quite understand this strong desire to shove "feeds" into every single possible product. Am I just old?

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Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 28th Oct 2018 19:25 UTC
Red Hat

IBM and Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source cloud software, announced today that the companies have reached a definitive agreement under which IBM will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for $190.00 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately $34 billion.

[...]

With this acquisition, IBM will remain committed to Red Hat's open governance, open source contributions, participation in the open source community and development model, and fostering its widespread developer ecosystem. In addition, IBM and Red Hat will remain committed to the continued freedom of open source, via such efforts as Patent Promise, GPL Cooperation Commitment, the Open Invention Network and the LOT Network.

This comes as a surprise, but now that I think about it, Red Hat would've been a great acquisition for a number of cloud providers, including Amazon and Microsoft. Let's hope the second quoted paragraph isn't an empty promise.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 26th Oct 2018 21:11 UTC
Windows

Windows is one of the most versatile and flexible operating systems out there, running on a variety of machine architectures and available in multiple SKUs. It currently supports x86, x64, ARM and ARM64 architectures. Windows used to support Itanium, PowerPC, DEC Alpha, and MIPS. In addition, Windows supports a variety of SKUs that run in a multitude of environments; from data centers, laptops, Xbox, phones to embedded IOT devices such as ATM machines.

The most amazing aspect of all this is that the core of Windows, its kernel, remains virtually unchanged on all these architectures and SKUs. The Windows kernel scales dynamically depending on the architecture and the processor that it’s run on to exploit the full power of the hardware. There is of course some architecture specific code in the Windows kernel, however this is kept to a minimum to allow Windows to run on a variety of architectures.

In this blog post, I will talk about the evolution of the core pieces of the Windows kernel that allows it to transparently scale across a low power NVidia Tegra chip on the Surface RT from 2012, to the giant behemoths that power Azure data centers today.

This is a fun article to read, written by Hari Pulapaka, member of the Windows Kernel Team at Microsoft. I feel like in our focus on Microsoft as a company and Windows a whole - either the good or the bad parts of both - we tend to forget that there's also a lot of interesting and fascinating technology happening underneath it all. The Linux kernel obviously gets a lot of well-deserved attention, but you rarely read about the NT kernel, mostly because it isn't open source so nobody can really look at the nitty-gritty.

I hope we'll be getting more up-to-date articles like this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 26th Oct 2018 18:49 UTC
Legal

On behalf of the iFixit community, I came to ask for permission to circumvent digital locks in order to fix our stuff. Fortunately, I wasn't alone. Along with Robert and Matt representing Repair.org, I was joined by Cynthia Replogle, iFixit's rockstar lawyer. And Cory Doctorow, Kit Walsh, and Mitch Stoltz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as Jay 'Saurik' Freeman of Cydia iPhone jailbreaking fame. We also had help from Jef Pearlman and his team of students from Stanford's IP law clinic. Our allies were met with opposition from a variety of moneyed and acronymed interests - the MPAA, RIAA, and the Auto Alliance, to name a few.

Over three full days in LA, we were grilled by the Copyright Office. They wanted details on how cell phone baseband processors work, how automotive telematics systems are different from OBD II diagnostics, why you can’t simply swap in a new Blu-ray drive into an Xbox, and so forth. It was exhausting - for us and for them. But they had done their homework, and asked intelligent questions on a startling variety of topics.

The ruling is out, and thanks to the hard work of these individuals, American consumers have a few more rights regarding repair than they did before. Excellent work, and let's hope this sets a positive precedent.

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Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 26th Oct 2018 18:45 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Everybody has one. At least one. Collecting dust in a closet somewhere; waiting to be thrown away. It's not a time capsule per-se, but if you looked at it now it would probably show you a snapshot of a life you lived not that long ago. It was once a source of pride, entertainment, accomplishment or perhaps comfort. Maybe it was a status symbol. Now you would call it useless, worthless, junk.

We're not talking about the photo album from your dormroom party days, although it might still contain a copy. We’re talking about your old PC, laptop, netbook, or computer. That thing you spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on to sit in front of for hours doing whatever it is that you do. Maybe it helped you get a degree, or maybe it was your primary source of income. Doesn’t matter now anyway. Your smart-toaster does more MIPS and FLOPS with half the power! There's no value in an old computer, right?

Wrong! If the commoditization of computing hardware and the steady marching of Moore's law has done anything to old computers it has been to breathe new life into them. How, you ask?

Putting old hardware to new uses is one way of recycling - I tend to give away my "old" smartphones as I buy new ones way too often. Often, a friend's phone stopped working or a family member needs a new one - so I just give them mine.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 26th Oct 2018 18:44 UTC
Windows

The remaining Windows Phone community have a lot of thanks due to Rene Lergner a.k.a. Heathcliff74, who created the Windows 10 Mobile unlock solution that finally broke Microsoft's bootloader protections and who allowed such crazy developments such as full Windows 10 on ARM.

He's gotten a bit busy however and will not be able to give the project his full attention any more.

Like any good hacker in that position, instead of just disappearing, he has made his project, WPInternals, open source, meaning any good developer can take over his work, to update, modify or bug fix.

Good move - and most likely the only way for the foreseeable future we'll be able to do any modding of Windows Phone and its devices, considering Microsoft has mostly abandoned the platform.

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Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 26th Oct 2018 13:36 UTC
Qt

Qt Design Studio is a UI design and development environment that enables designers and developers to rapidly prototype and develop complex and scalable UIs.

Qt Design Studio is a tool used by both designers and developers and that makes collaboration between the two a lot simpler and more streamlined: Designers can look the graphical view, while developers can look at the QML code. With this workflow, designers can have their Photoshop designs running on real devices in minutes! As an aside, I say Photoshop designs, but we are planning to support other graphic design tools in the future.

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Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 25th Oct 2018 17:32 UTC
Google

What Google did not make public was that an employee had accused Mr. Rubin of sexual misconduct. The woman, with whom Mr. Rubin had been having an extramarital relationship, said he coerced her into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013, according to two company executives with knowledge of the episode. Google investigated and concluded her claim was credible, said the people, who spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing confidentiality agreements. Mr. Rubin was notified, they said, and Mr. Page asked for his resignation.

Google could have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way out. Instead, the company handed him a $90 million exit package, paid in installments of about $2 million a month for four years, said two people with knowledge of the terms. The last payment is scheduled for next month.

Mr. Rubin was one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct. In two instances, it ousted senior executives, but softened the blow by paying them millions of dollars as they departed, even though it had no legal obligation to do so. In a third, the executive remained in a highly compensated post at the company. Each time Google stayed silent about the accusations against the men.

Great reporting by The New York Times - a story they've been working on for over a year.

So just to summarise this story: Andy Rubin and several other powerful men at Google have been either paid vast sums of money or given a high-paying job after being credibly accused of sexual harassment. This would be unbelievable if it wasn't 100% in line with everything we know about the male-centric bro culture of the technology industry. This should be 100% unacceptable, and not only the men involved ought to be fired, but Larry Page should also be forced to resign.

Unless these acts have consequences - as opposed to millions of dollars in rewards - society will never get rid of pathetic little men like these.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 24th Oct 2018 18:41 UTC
Google

We're always working on making it easier for you to understand and control your data so you can make privacy choices that are right for you. Earlier this year, we launched a new Google Account experience that puts your privacy and security front and center, and we updated our Privacy Policy with videos and clearer language to better describe the information we collect, why we collect it, and how you can control it.

Today, we're making it easier for you to make decisions about your data directly within the Google products you use every day, starting with Search. Without ever leaving Search, you can now review and delete your recent Search activity, get quick access to the most relevant privacy controls in your Google Account, and learn more about how Search works with your data.

I guess it's a good step, but I think we're long past the point where it even matters.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 24th Oct 2018 18:39 UTC
Android

Every month, a security team at Google releases a new set of patches for Android - and every month, carriers and manufacturers struggle to get them installed on actual phones. It's a complex, long-standing problem, but confidential contracts obtained by The Verge show many manufacturers now have explicit obligations about keeping their phones updated written into their contract with Google.

A contract obtained by The Verge requires Android device makers to regularly install updates for any popular phone or tablet for at least two years. Google's contract with Android partners stipulates that they must provide "at least four security updates" within one year of the phone's launch. Security updates are mandated within the second year as well, though without a specified minimum number of releases.

Be still my beating heart - four whole security updates in the first year, and "a" security update in the second year? How mightily generous.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 23rd Oct 2018 22:53 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Motorola is setting an example for major manufacturers to embrace a more open attitude towards repair. If you're a Motorola customer, you can now either send in your broken device directly to Motorola for repair - or you can fix it yourself with the highest quality parts and tools, plus a free step-by-step guide, all included in our official Motorola OEM Fix Kits.

That's a model worth replicating, and we couldn't be more thrilled to consider Motorola a repair ally.

This is a very welcome move, and I deeply hope more companies will follow in Motorola's footsteps here. It's refreshing to see a large company actually care about repairability, and even more so to see such a company actively working with repair partners to make it easier for consumers to repair devices themselves.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 23rd Oct 2018 22:47 UTC
Android

But an investigation by BuzzFeed News reveals that these seemingly separate apps and companies are today part of a massive, sophisticated digital advertising fraud scheme involving more than 125 Android apps and websites connected to a network of front and shell companies in Cyprus, Malta, British Virgin Islands, Croatia, Bulgaria, and elsewhere. More than a dozen of the affected apps are targeted at kids or teens, and a person involved in the scheme estimates it has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from brands whose ads were shown to bots instead of actual humans.

Scammers were buying applications from developers, and after adding usage behavior tracking tools to these existing applications, used said data to mimic "real" user behaviour.

One way the fraudsters find apps for their scheme is to acquire legitimate apps through We Purchase Apps and transfer them to shell companies. They then capture the behavior of the app’s human users and program a vast network of bots to mimic it, according to analysis from Protected Media, a cybersecurity and fraud detection firm that analyzed the apps and websites at BuzzFeed News' request.

Sure, this is all terrible and probably quite illegal, but honestly, you have to respect the ingenuity here.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 23rd Oct 2018 00:09 UTC, submitted by dboddie
RISC OS

RISC OS Open Ltd (ROOL) are hugely proud to announce that we will be working with RISC OS Developments (ROD), following their recent acquisition of the RISC OS intellectual property through the purchase of Castle Technology Ltd (Castle), in the next phase of the mission to reinvigorate the RISC OS market.

ROD will be working alongside community maintainers ROOL to republish the source code to this popular niche operating system under the Apache 2.0 License, in a move aimed at removing existing barriers to entry for developers from the open source community and enabling free-of-charge use in commercial products for the first time in RISC OS's history.

Great news for the RISC OS community, and I hope this ensures RISC OS will remain available to play and hack with for years and years to come.

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Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Oct 2018 18:56 UTC
Windows

One of the downsides of Windows on ARM is the lack of third-party browser - Edge is one of the few choices you have. Sure, you can run x86 browsers through emulation, but preferably, you'd have native options.

One potential solution is an Arm port of Chrome, as opposed to emulating the desktop (x86) version of the browser, but is Qualcomm working on this?

"We are," Qualcomm senior director of product management Miguel Nunes told Android Authority on the sidelines of Arm TechCon. "We're still working with the different OEMs and designs. I expect you'll see it probably around (the) second half of next year. Every OEM will decide whatever their launch timeline is, but we're actively working on it."

I hope more people start building applications for Windows on ARM. I want ARM laptops (and possibly even desktops) to offer credible competition to Intel and AMD.

 

Linked by diegocg on Mon 22nd Oct 2018 18:47 UTC
Linux

Linux 4.19 has been released. This release adds support for the CAKE network queue management to fight bufferbloat, support for guaranteeing minimum I/O latency targets for cgroups, experimental support for the future Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax-drafts), memory usage for overlayfs users has been improved, a experimental EROFS file system optimized for read-only use, a new asynchronous I/O polling interface, support for avoiding unintentional writes to an attacker-controlled FIFO or regular files in world writable sticky directories, support for a Intel feature that locks part of the CPU cache for an application, and many other improvements and new drivers. For more details, see the complete changelog.

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