Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Mar 2015 00:19 UTC

There is an unfortunate climate of fear in the software community today. It is primarily in ephemeral video interviews and podcasts that we get any semblance of coherent criticism and even then it is reticent. Worse than the fact that this criticism is relegated to verbal discussions is that it is later renounced by the very same designers and developers when they are interviewed in the more permanent-seeming medium of the written word. In written interviews, these fair-weather critics go on to reverse their opinions and praise the products of modern minimalist UI design because it is more convenient not to risk questioning powerful industry leaders.

If there is just one article you read this month, let it be this one. Do not skip this.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Mar 2015 00:14 UTC

Our objective is to build the kernel network stack as a shared library that can be linked to by userspace programs to provide network stack personalization and testing facilities, and allow researchers to more easily simulate complex network topologies of linux routers/hosts.

Although the architecture itself can virtualize various things, the current design only focuses on the network stack. You can benefit network stack feature such as TCP, UDP, SCTP, DCCP (IPv4 and IPv6), Mobie IPv6, Multipath TCP (IPv4/IPv6, out-of-tree at the present moment), and netlink with various userspace applications (quagga, iproute2, iperf, wget, and thttpd).


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Mar 2015 19:56 UTC

Microsoft is now allowing developers to create apps for Windows 10. While the software maker is planning to release its operating system some time in the summer, developers can start getting used to the available tools today. Windows 10's apps will run across a variety of devices, including the Xbox One, PCs, phones, and tablets. This initial SDK preview will let developers tweak their apps to work across varying screen sizes and optimize them for both touch and mouse/keyboard usage.

You can now create a single application binary that will run on Xbox One, PCs, phones, tablets, and embedded stuff. It took them a long, long time, but it seem like they're finally making good on their promises. There's more information, too.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Mar 2015 18:59 UTC

Earlier today, we announced an expanded global partnership with Samsung to deliver Microsoft mobile productivity services to both consumer and business customers. Building on that news, I’m pleased to share that we’ve also expanded strategic agreements with leading global OEM Dell, and regional OEMs including TrekStor of Germany, JP Sa Couto of Portugal, Datamatic of Italy, DEXP of Russia, Hipstreet of Canada, QMobile of Pakistan, Tecno of Africa, and Casper of Turkey, as well as top original device manufacturer Pegatron. These 11 hardware partners will pre-install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on Android devices coming to market later this year.

Now this I can get behind, sort of - assuming the applications are removable. Microsoft's Office suite for Android is pretty good, and especially for someone like me who uses Office a lot, this is pretty great.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Mar 2015 18:52 UTC
Internet Explorer

In recent releases, we've talked often about our goal to bring the team and technologies behind our web platform closer to the community of developers and other vendors who are also working to move the Web forward. This has been a driving motivation behind our emphasis on providing better developer tools, resources for cross-browser testing, and more ways than ever to interact with the "Project Spartan" team.

In the same spirit of openness, we've been making changes internally to allow other major Web entities to contribute to the growth of our platform, as well as to allow our team to give back to the Web. In the coming months we'll be sharing some of these stories, beginning with today's look at how Adobe's Web Platform Team has helped us make key improvements for a more expressive Web experience in Windows 10.

Why don't they just do it right from the get-go, bite the bullet, and release their new engine as open source? Why this kinda stuff where only big players get to maybe possibly contribute? What's the point?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Mar 2015 18:49 UTC

Reviving an old computer is like restoring a classic car: There's a thrill from bringing the ancient into the modern world. So it was with my first "real" computer, my Mac Plus, when I decided to bring it forward three decades and introduce it to the modern Web.

Exactly what you expect. Great story.


Linked by Alfman on Mon 23rd Mar 2015 10:42 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

The annual Pwn2Own hacking competition wrapped up its 2015 event in Vancouver with another banner year, paying $442,000 for 21 critical bugs in all four major browsers, as well as Windows, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Reader.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Mar 2015 22:50 UTC

At its WinHEC hardware conference in Shenzhen, China, Microsoft talked about the hardware requirements for Windows 10. The precise final specs are not available yet, so all this is somewhat subject to change, but right now, Microsoft says that the switch to allow Secure Boot to be turned off is now optional. Hardware can be Designed for Windows 10, and offer no way to opt out of the Secure Boot lock down.

I am so surprised. The next step, of course, is to ban the disable-secure-boot option altogether. Just like everyone who knows Microsoft predicted.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Mar 2015 19:05 UTC

Apple has seemingly decided to crack down on antivirus and antimalware apps, removing them from the App Store. Although there has been no official statement from Apple on a policy change, Apple's loose guidelines allow them to pull pretty much anything at any time, particularly something like antivirus which has questionable utility within the sandboxed iOS environment of iPhones and iPads.

Great move by Apple. Get rid of these scammers. I hope Google follows soon.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Mar 2015 18:20 UTC

According to the report, for one example, Google took content from companies like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Amazon. In the latter case, Google lifted product rankings and placed them in their own search results for those products. When the companies complained to Google about the process, Google threatened to remove them entirely from results. The Journal quotes this section of the report: "It is clear that Google’s threat was intended to produce, and did produce, the desired effect, which was to coerce Yelp and TripAdvisor into backing down." The Commission ultimately had Google agree to let websites opt out of the process.

And this is one, why the authorities need to keep close tabs on large companies, and two, why the close ties between those same authorities and companies need to be severed as much as possible. Even mere lobbying should be illegal.


Linked by neticspace on Fri 20th Mar 2015 18:12 UTC
Internet Explorer
The Korean government has finally announced its plans to start removing the troublesome ActiveX software from public websites later this month in order to create a more user-friendly Internet environment.

For long, this tech-savvy country has been stuck in a time warp with its slavish dependence on Internet Explorer.

ActiveX is an ancient piece of technology that is still prominent in South Korea. It has its multiple problems that sometimes bring down the whole banking system or the public service system every year. The good news is that it will finally be over according to this news.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 19th Mar 2015 13:13 UTC

Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer is creating a smartwatch in partnership with American technology firm Google. The watch is an attempt to compete with devices by consumer-electronics makers, particularly the much-hyped watch by Apple. While TAG is the first traditional watchmaker to pair with Google, the partnership could open the door to other collaborations with high-end brands owned by LVMH, including Hublot and Zenith. One of the questions raised by Apple's $10,000 gold smartwatch is whether users will consider it a luxury item, and wear it for status as well as convenience.

TAG Heuer is a pretty big player in the classic, mechanical watch market, so this could be pretty big for both Google and classic watchmaking. Imagine a watch with a traditional, mechanical movement and a modern chip and display - stamped with that ever-important Swiss Made. A step closer to my ideal.

Unless it's square, of course, because that would be tasteless.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 19th Mar 2015 00:53 UTC

Sure - if you want a fast, well-built, well-equipped 4K laptop preloaded with Ubuntu, with most of the potential edge-case configuration issues already taken care of, with an active set of developers working to ensure that the necessary repos are kept current, and with an actual, for-real OEM warranty and support. The M3800 Developer Edition is what an OEM-loaded Linux laptop should be, and it's got the added bonus of being supported by Barton George and a small, dedicated group of Linux enthusiasts at Dell. Those folks are backed by Dell's significant resources and are in constant contact with Canonical.

The value proposition is pretty clear there, but the question is whether or not that value proposition is worth the extra money versus buying a less-expensive base laptop and loading the Linux distro of your choice. There's going to be a lot of overlap between the M3800 Developer Edition's target market and the segment of potential customers who have no problem with just rolling their own Linux installation on a Thinkpad or even on a MacBook. For those folks, how much is it worth to have Dell do the heavy lifting?

I guess the problem is this: a machine like this is for developers and enthusiasts. However, developers and enthusiasts have no issues with getting a cheaper model and installing and running Linux themselves. This puts this expensive Dell Linux laptop in a sort of demand limbo - which is sad, because it looks like a great machine.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Mar 2015 22:30 UTC, submitted by KLU9
GNU, GPL, Open Source

Stallman expanded and formalized his ideas in the GNU Manifesto, which he published in the March, 1985, issue of Dr. Dobb's Journal of Software Tools, thirty years ago this month. "So that I can continue to use computers without dishonor," he wrote, "I have decided to put together a sufficient body of free software so that I will be able to get along without any software that is not free. I have resigned from the AI Lab to deny MIT any legal excuse to prevent me from giving GNU away." The nearly forty-five-hundred-word text called for collaborators to help build a freely shareable Unix-like operating system, and set forth an innovative method to insure its legal protection.

Stallman is one of the greatest technology visionaries. He will never achieve the popularity status of businessmen like Jobs and Gates, but his contributions to technology - directly and indirectly - are immeasurable.

And he was right all along.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Mar 2015 22:26 UTC

Microsoft is putting a big effort into improving trackpad navigation for Windows 10. While Windows 8 introduced new precision trackpads with the help of Intel, Microsoft is building on its previous work by standardizing gestures for laptops that use precision trackpads. Windows 10 will include multi-finger gestures to access new features like the notification center, Cortana, and virtual desktops. Windows trackpads have traditionally been a pain point for laptop owners, and it's something PC makers have largely ignored despite it being the primary input mechanism and key to using a laptop.

I've heard this promise so many times from Microsoft and its OEMs, but while improvements have been made, they're simply not even close yet to Apple's trackpads.


Linked by David Adams on Wed 18th Mar 2015 15:41 UTC, submitted by Joe
Legal SCO, which went bankrupt after an unfavorable ruling four years ago and has auctioned off all of its assets, exists now only as a vehicle for the quixotic lawsuit against IBM for misappropriation of its Unix source code. Apparently, the 2010 ruling left a small opening, because the suit is back. To the extent that they operate at all, the company's leader is now a well-respected former federal judge named Edward Cahn. Officially, he's a Chapter 11 trustee, which means that, in bankruptcy, the company's lenders or investors can appoint someone to oversee a reorganization and essentially direct the company toward activities that will maximize the recovery of the debt. Cahn's sole responsibility is to see if he can wring any money out of SCO's remaining asset (the lawsuit), which means that this circus will continue until the lenders decide that the likelihood of a settlement doesn't justify the legal costs.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Mar 2015 13:54 UTC

Microsoft is working with Xiaomi on a Windows (Phone) 10 ROM for one of Xiaomi's Android phones.

Neither Microsoft nor Xiaomi provided specific details of the Windows 10 software being trialled, but TechCrunch understands from sources that it effectively overrides Android, turning the Xiaomi phone into a Windows 10 device complete with Microsoft services. (Which the company hopes will dazzle Android owners into making the switch.)

That's to say that the software doesn't offer a dual boot option, which Microsoft has pushed in the past in India. This is a ROM, based on Windows, that operates much like software from Cyanogen - a company Microsoft was incorrectly linked with an investment in - and other custom ROMs developed by the likes of Tencent and Baidu in China.

This is such an obvious move I honestly can't believe it took them this long. Microsoft has always had a pretty relaxed and permissive attitude towards the ROM crowd (I can know from way back in the PocketPC days), and releasing Windows 10 ROMs for popular Android phones is a great way to get enthusiasts interested in trying out your platform. I personally really enjoy using Windows Phone, but my HTC 8X is quite outdated, and I would install Windows 10 on my Nexus 5 in a heartbeat if Microsoft offered it.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Mar 2015 13:48 UTC

We continue to make great development progress and shared today that Windows 10 will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages. Windows has always been global with more than 1.5 billion users around the world and here in China hundreds of millions of PCs operate Windows today.

In addition, Windows 10 will be a free upgrade not just for paying Windows 7, 8, and Windows Phone 8 customers, but also for pirates. In other words, those with unlicensed copies of Windows 7 or 8 will get the free upgrade to Windows 10 as well.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Mar 2015 13:39 UTC
Features, Office

Since then the ‘%’ has gone from strength to strength, and today we revel in a whole family of “per """"” signs, with ‘%’ joined by ‘‰’ (“per mille”, or per thousand) and ‘‱’ (per ten thousand). All very logical, on the face of it, and all based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how the percent sign came to be. Nina and I can comfort ourselves that we are not the first people, and likely will not be the last, to have made the same mistake.

I love stories like this. The history of our punctuation marks and symbols is often quite fascinating.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Mar 2015 23:59 UTC
In the News

The Unicode Consortium has launched a very controversial project known as Han Unification: an attempt to create a limited set of characters that will be shared by these so-called "CJK languages." Instead of recognizing these languages as having their own writing systems that share some common ancestry, the Han unification process views them as mere variations on some "true" form.

To help English readers understand the absurdity of this premise, consider that the Latin alphabet (used by English) and the Cyrillic alphabet (used by Russian) are both derived from Greek. No native English speaker would ever think to try "Greco Unification" and consolidate the English, Russian, German, Swedish, Greek, and other European languages' alphabets into a single alphabet. Even though many of the letters look similar to Latin characters used in English, nobody would try to use them interchangeably.

Pretty damning explanation of how some of the most popular languages in the world are treated as second class citizens by the Unicode Consortium. Not coincidentally, this consortium is pretty much entirely run by American and European men and (a few) women.