Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 6th Jun 2015 20:56 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y

The real issue that Apple is trying to address is not really privacy, but rather security. Though Google has all of my data, it is still private. Google does not sell access to my data; it sells access to my attention. Advertisers do not get my information from Google. So as long as I trust Google's employees, the only two potential breaches of my privacy are from the government or from a hacker. If we accept this as a fact, the fundamental privacy question changes from, "Do you respect my privacy?" to "Is the user experience improvement worth the security risk to my private information?"

Dustin Curtis hits the nail on the head so hard the nail's on its way to Fiji.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 6th Jun 2015 20:53 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Most normal, non-tech-obsessed people don't really need a smartwatch.

You can read the entire article if you want, but this opening line is all you need to know. Smartwatches are, right now, useless crap.


Written by Adam S on Fri 5th Jun 2015 15:26 UTC
Android In June of last year, I finally decided to commit to an Android device. I had carried every flagship iPhone up through that point from the original iPhone to the 5S. To the world around me, I heaped the praise into a life transforming device, but in my tech circles, and on my blog, I frequently posted about my frustration, mostly with shackles and intentional limitations imposed. So last year, why I decided to make the jump to Android. I outlined 10 reasons why I was finally ready to make the jump to Android’s 4.4 release, KitKat. A year has passed. It's time to revisit my original assertions and complaints with some follow up and see where I stand one year later.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Jun 2015 18:55 UTC

The first wave of Steam Machines, console-like computers designed to run Valve's Steam software and its thousands of PC games, will be in some pre-order customers' hands on Oct. 16 and in stores on Nov. 10, Valve announced today. The Steam Controller and Steam Link will also hit on Nov. 10.

Not sure what to make of SteamOS at this point - it's just a Linux distribution that launches Steam, and you can even close Steam to go to a desktop... On your TV - but the Steam Link is definitely interesting, so I pre-ordered one straight away.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Jun 2015 13:51 UTC

You see the problem. When white gamers are forced to play people not of their race, it's "forced politics;" when I'm forced into the same scenario, it's business as usual. When you complain, you're making a fuss and being political. The argument is a bit scary when you break it down: The only way games can avoid politics in this situation is to pretend that people of color don't exist.

We should raise concerns about race, but it needs to be consistent. Race shouldn't only be an issue for gamers when some white gamers express concerns.

Outstanding article.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Jun 2015 09:49 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

The Pebble Time iPhone app, as we've all noticed, is not yet live on the iTunes AppStore. It remains "in review." This unexpected circumstance pains us as much it does backers with watches ready to set up. We're doing all we can to mitigate the delay and make Pebble Time Watch for iPhone available for download.

A complete coincidence, I'm sure.

Meanwhile, to ensure the future usability of your Pebble device, it's highly suggested to switch to Android.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 3rd Jun 2015 14:50 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

I don't really care much about the voice search and recognition stuff in Now, Siri, and Cortana - but this video demonstrating the capabilities of Hound - an alternative to those three for Android - is mind-blowing. The recognition speed, the talkback, the way it manages to get accurate results for even relatively vague and quite complex compound questions is amazing.

I smell an acquisition incoming.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Jun 2015 22:53 UTC

A few weeks doesn't seem like enough time right now, especially given the current state of Windows 10. The latest build (10130) looks almost finished and polished, but then there are continued issues with the Start Menu not opening or crashing and driver problems that are slightly alarming at this stage of development. Perhaps the biggest issue I have encountered is the upgrade process between builds. Microsoft has been testing this vigorously, as it's a key part of getting Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to Windows 10 for free. If an upgrade fails then it's one less machine running the latest operating system. I've had a variety of upgrade failures, even with the recent builds that Microsoft has distributed.

The consensus among testers seems to be that no, Windows 10 isn't ready. Unless they're going to pull a miracle, we've got a Vista-esque launch on our hand.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Jun 2015 14:21 UTC
In the News

Who was behind all of this? When I stumbled on it last fall, I had an idea. I was already investigating a shadowy organization in St. Petersburg, Russia, that spreads false information on the Internet. It has gone by a few names, but I will refer to it by its best known: the Internet Research Agency. The agency had become known for employing hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities, including on Twitter, in order to create the illusion of a massive army of supporters; it has often been called a "troll farm." The more I investigated this group, the more links I discovered between it and the hoaxes. In April, I went to St. Petersburg to learn more about the agency and its brand of information warfare, which it has aggressively deployed against political opponents at home, Russia's perceived enemies abroad and, more recently, me.

If you ever wonder where those crazy Putin supporters all across the web came from - well, now you know.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Jun 2015 09:20 UTC

Could Nintendo really switch to Android?

Japan’s most respected business newspaper, the Nikkei Shimbun, today raised the possibility that Nintendo’s mysterious upcoming system - codenamed NX - may be based on Google's Android operating system. The report is curiously sourced to a single anonymous insider, and takes the form of a column, not a typical news story; moreover, the Nikkei has a spotty record with Nintendo in particular.

But that doesn't make the proposition any less fascinating, and it's one I've been considering myself for some time. Although it would be an unusual move for the Japanese giant, which is famously hesitant to cede control over any aspect of its products, there are a lot of reasons why it might make sense - and why it wouldn't contradict Nintendo's own philosophy.

Would you buy a handheld gaming device in this day and age? If it could also make phone calls and run proper Android applications, would you ditch your other Android device for it?

I doubt it.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 1st Jun 2015 23:32 UTC
General Development

PicoC is a very small C interpreter for scripting. It was originally written as a script language for a UAV's on-board flight system. It's also very suitable for other robotic, embedded and non-embedded applications.

The core C source code is around 3500 lines of code. It's not intended to be a complete implementation of ISO C but it has all the essentials. When compiled it only takes a few k of code space and is also very sparing of data space. This means it can work well in small embedded devices. It's also a fun example of how to create a very small language implementation while still keeping the code readable.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 1st Jun 2015 23:29 UTC

Google's developer tools are an ever-evolving and changing set of utensils that allow the folks building our apps to tie into Google's services while making things we want to install and use every day. They're free, and while they are powerful, some of the finer points of great design have been tricky for devs to handle, and the IDE itself - that's the program that developers use to write the code and build their apps - can be clunky when you stray outside the "hello world" box and get into the nitty-gritty of coding. And testing apps has been a nightmare. Google has addressed these three issues in a big way.

Nice overview of some of the things Google has done to make Android development - a pain point for many developers - a little easier. The new testing initiative is pretty rad.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 1st Jun 2015 15:17 UTC

Google has just released a new tool to manage your privacy and information. Here's some of the things the new My Account tool can do:

  • Take the Privacy Checkup and Security Checkup, our simple, step-by-step guides through your most important privacy and security settings.
  • Manage the information that can be used from Search, Maps, YouTube and other products to enhance your experience on Google. For example, you can turn on and off settings such as Web and App Activity, which gets you more relevant, faster search results, or Location History, which enables Google Maps and Now to give you tips for a faster commute back home.
  • Use the Ads Settings tool to control ads based on your interests and the searches you've done.
  • Control which apps and sites are connected to your account.

Google has always been at the forefront of providing its user insight into and control over the information it has on you, and this tool fits right into that. It'd be great if the other tech giants - who collect the same information on you but act secretive and deceptive about it - were to follow in its footsteps.

Good thing this stuff isn't tied to Android updates, though, or we wouldn't be able to use it until 2034.

Anywho, in the same blogpost, the company also introduced a site where it answers questions regarding your information and privacy. In it, the company dispels a persistent myth - namely, that the company sells your information.

No. We do not sell your personal information.

We do use certain information, such as the searches you have done and your location, to make the ads we show more relevant and useful. Ads are what enable us to make our services like Search, Gmail, and Maps free for everyone. We do not share information with advertisers in a way that personally identifies you, unless you gave us permission. With our Ads Settings tool, you can control ads based on your interests and the searches you have done.

When you think about it, it makes zero sense for Google to "sell" or otherwise reveal your personal information to third parties. The information Google has on you is the goose that lays the golden eggs. It's the very reason Google can earn so much money through advertising - it knows more about you than other advertisers do, and is better at inferring patterns and connecting the dots to show you more relevant ads.

In the end, though, the question is one of trust. Do your trust Google with your data? Do you trust Apple with that same data? Microsoft? Facebook? Personally, I have zero trust in any of these companies, and thus, anything that I do not want other people to know will not find its way onto my computers or devices. I have a very simple test for this: if I wouldn't yell something loudly in a crowded restaurant or mall or something, it's not going to be input in a computer or device.

As for 'regular' information that I have no issues with if companies know it, I personally definitely "trust" Google more than Apple or Microsoft, if only because Google is under a lot more scrutiny than others. Apple is incredibly secretive and deceptive about the information it collects on you, and provides far less insight into and control over it than Google does. Microsoft, meanwhile, has a proven history of questionable behaviour that's well-documented - new Microsoft or no. Let's not even talk about Facebook.

In the end, all these companies have virtually the same privacy policies, and you give them the same rights to your stuff if you upload it to them. I choose to use the one under the closest and most scrutiny and which gives me the most insight into and control over my data. Your choice might be different, but don't delude yourself into thinking your data is safe at Google, Microsoft, Apple, or Facebook.

When it comes to privacy on the web, just assume everybody can see every bit you send - just like how everyone can hear you when you talk loudly in a crowded place. Do not trust any company, no matter how nice the PR sites look or how vicious its blogger attack dogs are.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 1st Jun 2015 10:07 UTC

Microsoft has just officially announced that it will release Windows 10 on 29 July.

Familiar, yet better than ever, Windows 10 brings back the Start menu you know and love. Windows 10 is faster than ever before, with quick startup and resume. And Windows 10 provides the most secure platform ever, including Windows Defender for free anti-malware protection, and being the only platform with a commitment to deliver free ongoing security updates for the supported lifetime of the device.

Marketing blabber aside, the update will be free for the first year for all Windows 7 and 8 users. You'll get a notification in your notification area which will allow you to reserve your Windows 10 upgrade.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th May 2015 23:49 UTC

Project Vault is a secure computer contained entirely on a micro SD sized device. Google's ATAP said the micro SD format made sense because there's already advanced security features on your phone, contained in the SIM card, which protects the things important to carriers. Vault is designed to be an equivalent, but designed to project a user's important content.

Would be fun to play with on my Google Nexus 5.

Oh wait.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th May 2015 21:47 UTC
Internet & Networking

The internet, though, has been a mixed blessing for Esperanto. While providing a place for Esperantists to convene without the hassle of traveling to conventions or local club meetings, some Esperantists believe those meatspace meet ups were what held the community together. The Esperanto Society of New York has 214 members on Facebook, but only eight of them showed up for the meeting. The shift to the web, meanwhile, has been haphazard, consisting mostly of message boards, listservs, and scattered blogs. A website called Lernu! - Esperanto for the imperative "learn!" - is the center of the Esperanto internet, with online classes and an active forum. But it's stuck with a Web 1.0 aesthetic, and the forum is prone to trolls, a byproduct of Esperanto's culture of openness to almost any conversation as long as it's conducted in - or even tangentially related to - Esperanto.

But there's hope that the internet can give the language new life. Wikipedia and its 215,000 pages was a first step, and yesterday, Esperanto debuted on Duolingo, a virtual learning app with 20 million active users - far more people than have ever spoken Esperanto since its invention.

This article is the perfect mix between two of my favourite subjects - technology, and language. A highly recommended read.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th May 2015 21:39 UTC

While Apple's WWDC is of little interest to hard-core Android customers, Google I/O can and often is of significant interest to Apple customers. It's where Google shows off its big new initiatives and previews updates for its existing services. Some years, those are blips on the radar, here for a moment, gone the next. Other years their scope and implications shake the world. This year, for me, fell somewhere in the middle. Google was restrained, relatively speaking, and focused. Yet as much as they acknowledged the need to shore up what came before, the company's focus is clearly on what's coming next. And that's worth a deeper discussion.

How iMore's Rene Ritchie perceived the Google I/O accouncements.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th May 2015 17:17 UTC

The Verge has a long and detailed profile of and interview with Sundar Pichai, the man at Google responsible for just about anything you use.

We sat down with Pichai to hear his vision for the Google of the future. He laid out a plan to improve Google's products through machine learning - but more importantly, he sketched out a grand effort to deliver computing capabilities to billions of people around the world. Both in the way he manages his internal teams, and in his belief that technology can change people's lives for the better, Pichai advocates an egalitarian ethos.

If there's one thing that stood out during the I/O keynote yesterday, it was that Google was really hammering on the fact that it wants to create products for everyone. It wasn't said with so many words, but the clear implication was "unlike Apple, which only builds products for rich people in the west".

This egalitarian view permeated every aspect of the keynote, including the people on stage - instead of the usual procession of western, white 40-something men, almost half of all the presenters were women (I think there were three, like a VP of engineering), and a few people weren't even western to begin with. This is unprecedented for technology companies - Apple, for instance, hasn't ever had a woman present on stage (although Tim Cook did interview a supermodel on stage once).

We need this. Technology needs this. We need people from "new" economies, as well as women, to play a big part in the development of our technology to ensure that technology isn't just designed for rich white people, but for everyone. Pichai knows this, and it was drop-dead obvious throughout the entire keynote.

Say what you want about Google - and there's a lot to say - but in this aspect, they are so far ahead of the competition it's not really a competition to begin with.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th May 2015 23:01 UTC

At its developers conference this afternoon, Google announced two pieces of software for the smart home and the broader collection of connected devices around us, increasingly known as the internet of things. Those two pieces are Brillo, an operating system, and Weave, a common language for devices to talk to one another. And importantly, Weave doesn't have to run on Brillo - so appliance manufacturers can theoretically add it on to their existing products.

I just can't get excited about an internet-connected blender.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th May 2015 18:45 UTC

After Android M, Google also talked a lot about Google Now - which is getting a major upgrade called Now on Tap. In short, Now on Tap is context-aware, and knows what's going on in the application you're using right now. If someone sends you a WhatsApp message that says "Want to have dinner at Chez Fred tonight?", you can bring up a Google Now overlay without leaving WhatsApp that shows you a Google Now card with information pertaining to Chez Fred. Or, if you're listening to a song on Spotify, you can just say "OK Google, who's the lead singer", and Google Now will provide the answer.

We're working to make Google Now a little smarter in the upcoming Android M release, so you can ask it to assist you with whatever you're doing - right in the moment, anywhere on your phone. With "Now on tap," you can simply tap and hold the home button for assistance without having to leave what you’re doing - whether you're in an app or on a website. For example, if a friend emails you about seeing the new movie Tomorrowland, you can invoke Google Now without leaving your app, to quickly see the ratings, watch a trailer, or even buy tickets - then get right back to what you were doing.

Developers do not have to do anything to their applications to make them work with Now on Tap - they only need to be indexed by Google.