Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Apr 2015 21:40 UTC
Internet & Networking

Comcast Corp. is planning to walk away from its proposed $45.2 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said, after meeting with opposition from U.S. regulators.

Comcast’s board will meet to finalize the decision on Thursday, and an announcement may come as soon as Friday, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Great news for American consumers.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Apr 2015 19:50 UTC
Apple

The trouble is, no one really knows what makes a good Watch app yet. Apple can hand guidelines to developers, but even it doesn't know for certain how people are going to want to use the watch. Developers almost have to code for it, though - waiting means losing ground, users, and publicity to other apps - so thousands are now taking a crack at it and hoping that they get it right.

Even of they aren't any good yet, they will improve rapidly once the Apple Watch is in the hands of the millions of users who have pre-ordered them (and the many millions more buying them over the coming months). We'll have to wait for the real applications to arrive later this year, when the native SDK arrives. The current ones are just small shells who have to beam virtually everything over from your iPhone, causing lots of performance issues across the board.

I do hope they get better looking though, because my god, the current crop is clunky, busy, and ugly. Those dark transparent backgrounds everywhere remind me of old Android widgets.

 



Linked by Nth_Man on Thu 23rd Apr 2015 19:33 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu

The new Ubuntu, Kubuntu, etc. are now available and include the change to systemd as the init system, new versions of LibreOffice, Firefox, Chromium, etc. The big change in Kubuntu is KDE Plasma 5 as the default desktop, and also KDE Applications 14.12.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Apr 2015 14:43 UTC
Apple

In what is surely to surprise no one, and in what will surely be waved away by the usual people, Apple seems to be rejecting applications from the iOS App Store that mention "Pebble".

We have just had the latest version of our SeaNav US iOS app rejected by Apple because we support the Pebble Smartwatch and say so in the app description and meta-data (we also state in the review notes that "This application was approved for use with the Pebble MFI Accessory in the Product Plan xxxxxx-yyyy (Pebble Smartwatch)". See copy of rejection reason below.

SeaNav US has previously been approved by Apple with no problem, we have had Pebble support in SeaNav for nearly 2 years and there are no changes to our support for the Pebble in this version. What are Apple doing? Have they gone Apple Watch crazy? What can we do?

This application has been in the App Store for two years with the same mentions of Pebble and Pebble support, but now that the Apple Watch is here, that's magically no longer allowed. Further down in the comments, another developer has had to remove Pebble screenshots from his application's description page. About a month ago, I already predicted this kind of bevahiour, mostly because I'm really good at pattern recognition.

I think this calls for an official EU investigation into Google's behaviour.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 22nd Apr 2015 21:50 UTC
Games

A work-in-progress cut of All Work All Play, a documentary that focuses on the rise of e-sports and some of the best competitive teams in the world, just premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival. All Work All Play profiles a few professional League of Legends teams as well as the programming director of the Electronic Sports League, Michal "Carmac" Blicharz. The film attempts to bring the viewer into the world of competitive gaming while constantly making comparisons to other professional sports by highlighting team changes, grandiose spectacles, intense crowds, and broadcasters.

I watch a lot of let's plays on YouTube, and as far as e-sports go, I only watch the various League of Legends championships, most notably the European and North-American leagues. The idea of watching other people play games is easier to explain if you dig back into your gaming childhood, which for me, meant playing games on the NES, SNES, and PC with friends. A large portion of the time, you would not be the one playing; you'd be one of the people watching.

I have a feeling the surge in let's plays and e-sports has its roots in that. There's something relaxing - and in the case of e-sports, exhilarating - about watching other people play the games you love.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 22nd Apr 2015 21:46 UTC
General Development

GCC 5.1 has been released, and you can browse through the changes, improvements, new features, updates, and fixes. I feel no shame in admitting that compilers go way, way over my head, so I can't make much sense of all this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 22nd Apr 2015 18:37 UTC
Google

Google just officially announced its virtual carrier, Google Fi. The pricing:

Project Fi takes a fresh approach to how you pay for wireless, manage your service, and get in touch when you need help. We offer one simple plan at one price with 24/7 support. Here's how it works: for $20 a month you get all the basics (talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering, and international coverage in 120+ countries), and then it's a flat $10 per GB for cellular data while in the U.S. and abroad. 1GB is $10/month, 2GB is $20/month, 3GB is $30/month, and so on. Since it's hard to predict your data usage, you'll get credit for the full value of your unused data. Let's say you go with 3GB for $30 and only use 1.4GB one month. You'll get $16 back, so you only pay for what you use.

The pricing scheme is very interesting, but it's limited to US Nexus 6 owners for now. It intelligently switches between wifi, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 21st Apr 2015 22:50 UTC
Internet & Networking

We believe that users must feel safe on Twitter in order to fully express themselves. As our General Counsel Vijaya Gadde explained last week in an opinion piece for the Washington Post, we need to ensure that voices are not silenced because people are afraid to speak up. To that end, we are today announcing our latest product and policy updates that will help us in continuing to develop a platform on which users can safely engage with the world at large.

They're trying, and that's commendable. This must be an incredible engineering problem.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 21st Apr 2015 22:40 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

At the end of the day, BlackBerry needed to make this device happen, even if fans are screaming from the rooftops that they want a high-end all-touch device. Despite whether or not you personally decide to pick one up, the BlackBerry Leap is a pretty solid and very capable device that comes at a reasonable price, it just so happens that BlackBerry had to make a few compromises to make it all come together.

I get the Passport (still want one!), I get the Classic. I do not, however, get a generic BlackBerry phones that looks like any other default Android device - but with an operating system nobody (except people like me) is asking for.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 21st Apr 2015 22:37 UTC
Android

Let's talk about the Sony Xperia Z4. The Japanese electronics giant announced the latest in its line of premium Z-series smartphones recently for its home market. And it's fair to say the popular reaction to the device has fallen somewhere between bewilderment and outright derision. Consumers and critics alike seem confused as to why this phone exists, questioning the priorities Sony's taken with what appears to be its early-2015 flagship.

With questionable hardware priorities and no word of any global launch, it's a bizarre turn for Sony, coming as the company looks to restructure and streamline its smartphone offerings and focus primarily on the high end of the market. The Xperia Z4 can boast only a couple of meaningful improvements over its six-month-old predecessor, and in one or two important areas it may actually be a regression from the Z3.

Now that the Nexus 5 is being phased out without replacement (could you get on that, Google?), and the Nexus 6 is ugly and huge, I consider the Z3 and Z3 Compact to be the phones to get if you want Android. They're only six months old, modern in every respect, look great, have minimal software customisations, better battery life than the competition, and thanks to Sony's progressive open source efforts, great third party ROM support (mostly).

Hence, it's sad to see that, in the pursuit of thinness, the Z4 actually has a smaller battery, and possibly, shorter battery life.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 21st Apr 2015 18:41 UTC
Windows

When Microsoft releases Windows 10 later this year, it will come with a new design language which has slowly been uncovered with the latest builds of Windows 10 for phones. One member of the Windows community has put together a massive guide that shows the transitions from Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 to both Windows 10 and Windows 10 for phones.

While the appearance is still decidedly Metro, it all feels a lot more dark Material Design-ish.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 21st Apr 2015 18:36 UTC
Legal

For inventors, patents are an essential protection against theft. But when patent trolls abuse the system by stockpiling patents and threatening lawsuits, businesses are forced to shell out tons of money.

I honestly did not expect John Oliver to touch this subject.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Apr 2015 23:25 UTC
Apple

I missed this when reports first came out last week: with iOS 8.3, file managers such as iMazing and iExplorer can no longer access the document libraries of iOS apps over a USB connection.

Stop hitting yourself and start using a platform that actually fits your needs.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Apr 2015 22:09 UTC
Windows

Microsoft's launch of Windows 10 will likely take place in late July, according to AMD. During AMD's latest earnings call last week, president and CEO Lisa Su revealed the launch timing for Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. Answering a question on inventory plans, Su said, "With the Windows 10 launch at the end of July, we are watching sort of the impact of that on the back-to-school season, and expect that it might have a bit of a delay to the normal back-to-school season inventory build-up."

That seems awfully early considering the stories you hear on Twitter about Windows 10's current state.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Apr 2015 22:07 UTC
Android

Chrome 42 addresses this dilemma by allowing users to engage more deeply with the mobile web experiences that are important to them, by both opting in to receive push notifications directly from websites and easily adding regularly-visited high-quality sites to their home screen.

Push notifications from websites to Android devices.

I'm sure nothing will go wrong with this one.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Apr 2015 14:16 UTC
Android

Android Wear is getting a new update today that's easily its biggest yet. Google's introducing several new features that change how we use our watches, from Wi-Fi support to hand gestures and hand-drawn emoji. Individually, these changes are small, but collectively, they promise to make even year-old hardware seem new. They also ensure that Android Wear keeps up (and in some cases surpasses) the Apple Watch from a pure features perspective. That could become important down the line should Google’s plans to release Android Wear for the iPhone come to fruition.

I kind of like the wrist-flick gestures, but the rest seems more fluff that only makes Wear more complicated (and thus, more like the Apple Watch), instead of the opposite.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Apr 2015 10:30 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Sortix is a small self-hosting Unix-like operating system developed since 2011 aiming to be a clean and modern POSIX implementation. There's a lot of technical debt that needs to be paid, but it's getting better. Traditional design mistakes are avoided or aggressively deprecated by updating the base system and ports as needed. The Sortix kernel, standard libraries, and most utilities were written entirely from scratch. The system is halfway through becoming multi-user and while security vulnerabilities are recognized as bugs, it should be considered insecure at this time.

Sortix 0.9 was released on December 30, 2014. It is a very considerable improvement upon Sortix 0.8 and contains significant improvements all over the base system and ports. The previous release made Sortix self-building and this release works hard towards becoming fully self-hosting and installable. Several real-life prototype self-hosting installations of Sortix exists right now, I expect the following 1.0 release to make real Sortix installations available to the general public.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 19th Apr 2015 21:23 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The Vintage Computer Festival East is a once-a-year museum exhibit in Wall, New Jersey that shows off vacuum tube and transistor computers from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. While our own John Timmer visited the museum several years ago, we were long overdue to check back on the exhibition. VCF's newest addition made the trip well-worth it.

The incredible piece of big iron you see in the first picture above arrived yesterday. It's a one-of-a-kind analog computer built for MIT, so it doesn't really have a name or model number. Built by George A. Philbrick Researches in 1958, the volunteers at the science center have just taken to calling it "George."

Fascinating.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 19th Apr 2015 21:21 UTC
Android

While you may have to give up some creature comforts doing so, it's relatively easy and straightforward to run an (almost - damn binary driver blobs and firmware) open source Android phone, with nothing but open source applications, through F-Droid, one of my major complaints with F-Droid is that it's about as user friendly as trying to cut down a tree with a used toothbrush. There's no popularity lists, every category is clogged up with nonsensical packages (to the average user, that is), and the presentation leaves much to be desired.

Fossdroid changes that, and presents all these open source applications in a much clearer and nicer fashion. It also adds popularity and what's new lists, making it just a little easier to find the open source application you're looking for. There's still some things to be addressed, it's a well-done website.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 18th Apr 2015 17:09 UTC
Windows

Windows Phone fans pining for the days of Metro panoramas and integrated experiences have had a tough couple of years, with Microsoft steadily removing many of the platform's user experience differentiators. But as I've argued, there's reason behind this madness. And now an ex-Microsoft design lead who actually worked on Windows Phone has gone public and agreed with this assessment. You may have loved Windows Phone and Metro, but it had to change.

A different theory for Microsoft moving Windows Phone closer to Android's UI design, from former Windows Phone executive Charlie Kindel (who now works at Amazon).