Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Apr 2015 17:47 UTC

Google has published a 44-page report on Android security in 2014.

It's lengthy, so if you've only got a minute, we pulled out a few of the key findings here:

  • Over 1 billion devices are protected with Google Play which conducts 200 million security scans of devices per day.
  • Fewer than 1% of Android devices had a Potentially Harmful App (PHA) installed in 2014. Fewer than 0.15% of devices that only install from Google Play had a PHA installed.
  • The overall worldwide rate of Potentially Harmful Application (PHA) installs decreased by nearly 50% between Q1 and Q4 2014.
  • SafetyNet checks over 400 million connections per day for potential SSL issues.
  • Android and Android partners responded to 79 externally reported security issues, and over 25,000 applications in Google Play were updated following security notifications from Google Play.

Not bad. If only all smartphone operating system vendors were this open and detailed with their security data.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Apr 2015 16:44 UTC

A fluff piece, but still an interesting read about the origins of the Apple Watch. Two parts stand out to me. First:

Along the way, the Apple team landed upon the Watch's raison d'être. It came down to this: Your phone is ruining your life. Like the rest of us, Ive, Lynch, Dye, and everyone at Apple are subject to the tyranny of the buzz - the constant checking, the long list of nagging notifications. "We're so connected, kind of ever-presently, with technology now," Lynch says. "People are carrying their phones with them and looking at the screen so much." They've glared down their noses at those who bury themselves in their phones at the dinner table and then absentmindedly thrust hands into their own pockets at every ding or buzz. "People want that level of engagement," Lynch says. "But how do we provide it in a way that's a little more human, a little more in the moment when you're with somebody?"

This makes zero sense to me. If your phone is indeed ruining your life, how is adding another tiny, finnicky screen on your wrist going to help? All it does is add another step between seeing a notification and acting upon it. Instead of staring at just your phone's screen, you'll be staring at both your phone's and your watch's screen. The watch will invariably suck for acting upon notifications (tiny screen, low battery, voice recognition will fail), forcing you to take out your much more usable phone anyway... At which point you might as well take care of everything while on your phone. You'll be back at square one.

There are still interesting use cases for a smartwatch, but saving you from notification overload is not one of them.


The goal was to free people from their phones, so it is perhaps ironic that the first working Watch prototype was an iPhone rigged with a Velcro strap. "A very nicely designed Velcro strap," Lynch is careful to add.

From the very beginning, I said that the Apple Watch looked a lot like a tiny iPhone strapped to your wrist - unlike Android Wear, which was designed from the ground-up for the wrist (not to a lot of success, might I add, but still). The fact that the Apple Watch literally started out as an iPhone strapped to your wrist is telling, and explains why the device seems to be so convoluted and complex.

Apple has a far better track record making stuff people want, so there's a considerable chance this is exactly what people want, but not once while using my Moto 360 I thought to myself "if only this thing was even more complicated and convoluted, than I would not want to ditch this thing in a drawer!".


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Apr 2015 09:31 UTC, submitted by Intelec
General Unix

We missed this earlier this year, but Coherent has been released as open source. Coherent is a UNIX clone originally developed for the PDP-11, but later ported to a number of other platforms, including the IBM PC. It was developed by the Mark Williams Company, and despite an official investigation by AT&T, no signs of copied code were ever found.

Mark Williams Company closed in 1995. In 2001, Bob Swartz asked me to archive the hard disks containing the Mark Williams source repository; the command and system sources here are from that repository. I have long intended to catalog and organize these sources, but in the meantime they are posted here as is. MWC's documentation guru Fred Butzen provided the MWC documentation sources.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Apr 2015 18:26 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter Grace lost her iPhone. Grace is a 15-year-old with a diagnosis of autism and a severe speech delay. Some people would call her "non-verbal" but she can say a few words and if people don't understand she shows them a picture.

When Gracie was small, she used to have to carry a big book around to hold these pictures, but then the iPhone was invented and a very kind person gave us one to try. I was able to transfer all her pictures onto a folder on that phone and whenever we didn't have a picture, we could take a photograph and add that to her collection. Grace is considered to have an intellectual disability but she had no trouble navigating that iPhone, and she carried it around with her everywhere in an especially strong cover to protect against accidents.

With the help of a young Irish gaming developer called Steve Troughton-Smith, I was able to create an App to store and sort those pictures and in honour of my daughter, he called it Grace App.

The start of a lovely initiative to donate old iPhones to children with autism. The organisation restores any iOS 6-capable iPhone or iPad to factory settings, loads the Grace application, puts them a tough, donated case, and gives them to a child who uses it to greatly expand his or her communication abilities. It shows just how important technology like smartphones has become for people with disabilities or other problems. It can enable some of them to lead much richer lives, and that really puts a huge smile on my face.

The application Grace is available for both iOS and Android, so if you know someone who could benefit from it - let them know.


Linked by David Adams on Wed 1st Apr 2015 15:39 UTC
Microsoft If you've got a Windows Phone, today is your lucky day. On April 1, Microsoft released DOS for mobile: "All the productivity you’ve come to expect from Microsoft in the simplest OS yet." Update: There's also a video ad.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 31st Mar 2015 21:26 UTC

Google has unveiled a whole lot of new Chrome OS devices today - mostly laptops - but there's also a small Chromecast-like dongle that you can slip into any HDMI port and turn that display into a full-on Chrome OS machine. It's only $99, which puts it right into impulse-buy territory.

One of the laptops is a convertible with a touchscreen, which seems odd at first because Chrome OS isn't really built with touch in mind. It starts to make more sense, however, when you combine with the news that Google is opening up the App Runtime for Chrome to all Android developers, allowing them to get their Android applications ready for Chrome OS.

It seems Google's vision for Chrome OS and Android is becoming clear. A few years from now, Chrome OS or Android will be a distinction without a difference for most people.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 31st Mar 2015 16:01 UTC

The result is Surface 3, as well as a mobile-broadband version, Surface 3 (4G LTE). It's the thinnest and lightest Surface we've ever shipped. It runs full Windows, including desktop applications. It includes a one-year subscription to Office 365 to help you really get down to work. And it starts at just $499.

I was genuinely excited when I read about this Surface 3. I actually really like the Surface concept, but the Surface Pro 3 is simply too powerful (and thus, too expensive) for my specific workload (minor translation work, proofreading, watching some videos, some browsing, that sort of thing). A quad-core Intel Atom Surface with proper Windows (x86-64!) seems like a perfect machine for me, and the price, too, looked great: $499 for the basic model, and another $129 for the keyboard (even if Microsoft does not know how to red).

And then I saw the European prices. Oh boy. The basic model is a whopping €609, and the keyboard is another €155. That's insane, and utterly ruins the value proposition for the Surface 3 in Europe.

Great device, terrible, terrible pricing.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 31st Mar 2015 15:46 UTC

The reviews of the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are starting to roll in. The Verge seems first.

But design at this deeper level matters. And it's something Samsung has chosen - or been forced - to contend with. The Galaxy S6 is the first time I've felt like Samsung might finally be grappling with the idea of what a smartphone ought to be on an ontological level. No, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge don't fully tick off every single box in that checklist. But they've done something better: become phones that are more than the collection of their parts.

Samsung finally copied the right thing: caring about design.

Basically, a good-looking phone that feels great in the hand, crazy fast, good, fast camera, and toned-down TouchWiz.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 30th Mar 2015 22:26 UTC

Since the release of build 10041 for PCs we've continued to make steady progress, and as I said in the blog post with that one we’re working to bring you builds to the Fast ring faster than before. Builds last week were BIG ones for us as well, since "Project Spartan" was integrated into our flighting branch for the first time. That's right, this means that today's release includes the new Project Spartan browser and you'll get to use it for the first time on PCs as it begins to show up across the Windows 10 device family.

This is the first Windows 10 preview build with Microsoft's new browser.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 30th Mar 2015 21:19 UTC

A Senate panel plans to investigate whether the White House inappropriately derailed a federal investigation into accusations that Google was stifling online competition.

Sen. Mike Lee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary's Antitrust Subcommittee, plans to contact the Federal Trade Commission, Google, and other online companies to discuss the issue, Emily Long, a spokeswoman for the Utah Republican, said Monday. The subcommittee has no plans yet to hold a hearing on the issue, she said.

If this is a genuine inquiry - and not just party politics, Democrats vs. Republicans or vice versa - then I'm all for it. This whole thing looks incredibly shady.


Linked by ddc_ on Mon 30th Mar 2015 21:14 UTC
Multimedia, AV

HEVC Advance, another patent licensing group, completely independent from MPEG LA, has announced its existence, but not its licensing fees. The uncertainty and potential costs may hinder acceptance of MPEG's next generation HEVC coding format, also known as h.265.

This is good news for Google, who has just released another RC for their VP9 codec and for, who are finalizing their Daala.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 30th Mar 2015 17:59 UTC

I'm not a huge fan of Tim Cook professionally (personally, on the other hand, he seems like a nice guy), but on this one, he's 100% right.

There's something very dangerous happening in states across the country.

A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.

Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples - even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas' marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.

America is the land of opportunity. Just don't be black, gay, or transgender.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 27th Mar 2015 15:53 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Texas representative John Carter, chairman of the subcommittee on Homeland Security appropriations, and who sits on various other defense-related subcommittees, is hearing about cyber a lot these days. As he put it, "cyber is just pounding me from every direction." That's just the first few seconds of the very entertaining video, where Carter tries to find the right words to express his concern over new encryption standards from Apple and others.

You may laugh about this, but... These are the people running the most powerful military of the world.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 27th Mar 2015 15:49 UTC

GNOME 3.16 brings a brand new notification system and updated calendar design, which helps you to easily keep track of what’s happened, and includes useful information like world times and event reminders. Other features include overlaid scrollbars, updated visuals, improved content views in Files, and a redesigned image viewer.

Major additions have also been made to the GNOME developer experience: GTK+ support for OpenGL now allows GTK+ apps to support 3D natively, a new GLib reference counting feature will help with debugging, and GTK+ Inspector has also had a major update.

Also released: GNOME Builder, an IDE for GNOME.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Mar 2015 23:04 UTC

Bithell has become one of a growing number of prominent indie game developers known by name after releasing a hit game. New platforms like Steam and iOS have made it easier than ever for a single developer to create a successful game, and sometimes those games really blow up - developers like Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson have become fast millionaires solely off of a single title. But after the elation of a hit game comes a sudden realization: you need to make another one.

This is pretty common among artists; the second album is always the hardest.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Mar 2015 22:59 UTC

In the beginning there was the word, and the word was Metro. And then it was Windows 8-style. And then it was Modern. And then it was Windows Store. And then it was Universal. And today, Microsoft has decreed that henceforth these apps - which are all ultimately based on Windows Runtime - will be known as Windows apps.

Historically, of course, "Windows apps" (or "Windows programs") referred to standard, Win32-based executables that ran on the Windows desktop. Under the new naming scheme, these Win32 apps will now be called Windows desktop applications. As you can see in the slide above, despite the new nomenclature, the differences between the two types of app remain the same.

Microsoft can paint itself red and call itself a girl scout until the pink cows come home, but everyone will still, and will continue to, call them Metro applications.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Mar 2015 22:56 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

This is one of the most satisfying projects I have done I think. Mainly because this is a real device and something so historically important. It is a fully functioning Enigma machine you can wear on your wrist. This is a three rotor Enigma machine as used by German Wermacht in WW2 for encoding messages.

Way cooler than any Android Wrist or iPhone Mini watch.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Mar 2015 17:44 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

The feature phone. Still big in Japan. Still being sold in the millions. Still relevant, though? And does it even matter what a 30-something tech writer at a Western tech site thinks? Japan's large elderly population - people who haven't even heard of Angry Birds, Gmail or Uber - they're the ones sticking to their flip phones. Hardy, easy to use and cheaper than an iPhone. (If you need a primer on the phenomenon of gara-kei, you should probably read up on that here, but in short, it's how Japan's mobile phone market sped ahead with early technologies, then faltered when smartphone competition arrived.) So let's try using one. The best and newest feature phone available in Japan, no less. It's pitched as bringing the best smartphone features to the flip form factor. Is it better than a plain, old smartphone? Good lord, no.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Mar 2015 22:50 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

AnandTech reviews the ASUS Zenbook UX305.

Overall, even with the knocks against it, this is a heck of a device for just $699. A Core M processor, which allows a fanless and therefore silent device, but still offers good performance, and much more performance than any other CPU which would allow for a fanless design. 8 GB of memory standard. A 256 GB solid state drive standard. A 1920x1080p IPS display, once again standard. ASUS has really raised the bar for what someone can expect in a mid-range device.

I honestly cannot believe that you can buy this much laptop for that kind of money these days - and unlike other cheap laptops, this actually isn't a piece of crap, but a proper, all-metal laptop that doesn't look like two stoeptegels slapped together.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Mar 2015 22:34 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

I remember a time when I didn't know - or care - what a bezel was. Now, thanks to the efforts of Chinese smartphone manufacturers, I may be able to forget about this component all together. (If you don't already know, it's the metal or plastic bit that surrounds a screen.) A slew of new devices have appeared this month - some leaked, some released officially - all showing companies doing their best to erase the bezel. It's one of the latest trends in smartphone design and has already made its way to the US in the form of the $239 Sharp Aquos Crystal and its infinity pool-like display. Looking at these devices it seems we'll be seeing a lot less edge in future.

I'm quite pleased about the bezel disappearing. The bezel is an irrelevant, useless part of displays, and it can be shaved off and removed.