Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 21st Nov 2014 18:20 UTC

Here's one of those things that's been around for a little bit, but well hidden. If you're a fan of the stock Google keyboard but would love to have a dedicated number row - particularly given the size of many of today's smartphones - you can do it. It's not just an Android 5.0 Lollipop feature, so you're able to do this on the Nexus 6 or LG G3 or HTC One or whatever.

You will, however, have to do a little digging in the keyboard settings.

One of those little tips that can really make your phone better.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Nov 2014 21:54 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

This week I continued work on moving Beta1 forward, fixing some important and less important bugs. To make things clear about what to expect in the upcoming weeks, I will spend more time on Beta1 tasks, but I'll also continue working on WebKit. However, my work there will focus on fixing bugs, rather than adding new features.

Haiku gives some insights into recent progress towards the first beta release. Definitely worth a read if you want to keep up with how far along they are.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Nov 2014 21:48 UTC

AnandTech on the Windows 10 Technical Preview:

Although we have only seen the Technical Preview and a single update to it so far, you can see the potential for Windows 10 and what it will be able to accomplish. It is an ambitious goal to provide a single platform across such a swath of different devices, and one that was held back by the user interface before. With Continuum, it appears that it may be the best of both worlds. Even more exciting is how much more upfront and open Microsoft has been on this entire process, with not just the technical preview but also soliciting and requesting user feedback on the changes. One of the biggest change requests was a simple animation on the Start Menu, and that has already been implemented, so this really is a different world than when Windows 8 was given a sneak peek.

From a technical point of view, Windows 8 was great. However, it was hampered by bad user interface and interaction design at virtually every level. If Windows 10 will undo at least some of the damage done, then it's a great leap forward.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Nov 2014 21:44 UTC

Good news, I guess. The patent troll Rockstar - a consortium lead by Apple, Microsoft, and a few others - has kissed and made up with Google.

A court document (PDF) filed Monday revealed that Google and Rockstar had settled, "in principle, all matters in controversy between the parties," and the two sides signed a term sheet. It isn't clear if the deal will also resolve Rockstar's allegations of infringement against Google's Android partners who got sued, including Samsung and HTC.

One patent troll lawsuit less.


Linked by jessesmith on Thu 20th Nov 2014 21:32 UTC

Version 3 of the Mageia distribution reaches its end of life on November 26, 2014. The developers of this user friendly Linux distribution are turning their efforts toward working on the upcoming Mageia 5 and urge users of Mageia 3 to upgrade their installations to continue receiving security updates. The Mageia blog reports:

As you all know, we can’t maintain Mageia releases forever. And it’s time to say goodbye to Mageia 3. After Wednesday the 26th of November, this release won’t benefit from any more security or bugfix updates. This will allow QA team to give more time for polishing our coming Mageia 5. So you have only one week left to upgrade to Mageia 4 if you want to keep an up-to-date system.

People who wish to upgrade their Mageia 3 installations without performing a fresh install of the operating system can follow the upgrade instructions on Mageia's website.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Nov 2014 01:54 UTC
Mozilla & Gecko clones

Google has been the Firefox global search default since 2004. Our agreement came up for renewal this year, and we took this as an opportunity to review our competitive strategy and explore our options.

US users will now get Yahoo as the default search engine in Firefox. The question here is this: did Google decide that it was no longer worth it to keep Mozilla afloat financially, or did Mozilla decide to cut the agreement?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Nov 2014 01:50 UTC

The iPhone 6 was supposed to have a sapphire display. More than a year ago, Apple turned to GT Advanced Technologies, the now-bankrupt supplier, to solve its longstanding problems with scratched and cracked displays. But as soon as the two companies signed an agreement, their relationship became riddled with complications. In the ensuing year, as chronicled in detail by the Wall Street Journal, everything shifted.

I'm linking to The Verge's summary because of the paywall.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Nov 2014 21:30 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

The Note Edge is a really novel idea, and for what it is it's executed quite well, particularly in terms of hardware and display technology. Samsung manages to introduce a rounded portion without compromising image quality, the software is fairly limited but speedy, and the rest of the phone is exactly the same same as the well-liked Note 4. But unfortunately that doesn't mean that the Note Edge actually makes any sense as a complete package.

A somewhat-fun gimmick, that's it. Why would you buy this over the better Note 4? I doubt even Samsung knows. Still - if this brings truly flexible devices a step closer, I'm all for it.


Linked by jessesmith on Wed 19th Nov 2014 21:22 UTC
Debian and its clones

Starting on November 5th the Debian developers went to the polls to vote on a general resolution which would determine how init software and dependencies are handled in the venerable open source distribution. The result of the resolution will determine whether software packaged for Debian can depend on a specific implementation of init software. The init process is the first to start on Linux and UNIX operating systems and is responsible for bringing the operating system up and managing services.

The general resolution stirred up quite a bit of controversy with some developers wishing to keep software uncoupled from any specific init implementation. Others felt packages and upstream developers should be able to depend on a specific init package for the sake of simplicity or convenience. In the end, the votes were counted and it was decided no resolution would be passed addressing coupling software to init. This means, essentially, it will be up to individual packagers and upstream developers to decide whether to depend on one specific init implementation.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Nov 2014 11:40 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

During an emotional speech delivered today at the Slush conference, Jolla's Marc Dillon unveiled the company's next product: the Jolla tablet, running Sailfish OS 2.0. He launched a crowdfunding campaign for the tablet, with a goal of $380,000 - which was achieved in less than three hours (this may be one of the fastest funding consumer electronics devices ever). I got in early, and was one of the very first people to back the tablet (just as I was one of the first to back the Jolla phone a year ago). A second round has already been announced. Big news for American readers: it'll be available in the US too.

The tablet itself is very similar in specifications to Nokia's N1 tablet, with an 1.8GHz quad-core Intel processor, 2GB RAM, 2048x1536 330ppi 7.85" IPS display, 32GB storage, and all the usual sensors and ports you have come to expect. It's quite light and compact, and has its own design - there's no way people are going to twist this one into an iPad copy.

The tablet is expected to be delivered to us early backers in May 2015, and I can't wait. Also, Mr. Dillon, keep rocking that beard.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 18th Nov 2014 23:15 UTC
Internet & Networking

At Open Whisper Systems, our goal is to make private communication simple. For the past three years, we've been developing a modern, open source, strong encryption protocol for asynchronous messaging systems, designed to make seamless end-to-end encrypted messaging possible.

Today we're excited to publicly announce a partnership with WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in the world, to incorporate the TextSecure protocol into their clients and provide end-to-end encryption for their users by default.

Good news for WhatsApp users.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 18th Nov 2014 18:56 UTC

Developers are now able to start creating apps for the Apple Watch. Apple is today releasing WatchKit, a developer toolkit that allows third parties to create apps for its upcoming smartwatch. "WatchKit provides the incredible iOS developer community with the tools they need to create exciting new experiences right on your wrist," Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller says in a statement. Notably, Apple is revealing that the initial round of Watch apps are required to be an extension of an existing iPhone app. It won't be until sometime later next year that developers will be able to build apps native to the watch.

Get building! Don't forget to incorporate that scrollwheel you need to awkwardly pinch.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 18th Nov 2014 09:59 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Nokia - the part that remained in Finland after dumping its failing phone money pit at Microsoft - has just unveiled its first new hardware product: an Android tablet.

And the N1 is an impressive tablet to say the least. It follows in the Nexus 9's footsteps with a 4:3 aspect ratio display, though with a wee-bit smaller size at 7.9" and a resolution of 2048x1536. Under the hood is an Intel 64-bit Atom Processor Z3580, with 4 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz, a PowerVR G6430 graphics chip, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a 5300 mAh battery. Two stereo speakers sit at the bottom of the tablet, with a Type-C reversible Micro-USB connector in the middle.

It runs what looks like stock Android Lollipop (yes! Yes! Yes!), with the only change being that it includes Nokia's own launcher. It's made out of aluminium, has a fully laminated display, and will supposedly cost a mere $249 - which is insanely cheap for a tablet with these kinds of specifications.

Nokia should have done this years ago, but it's great to see them do it now.


Linked by Drumhellar on Tue 18th Nov 2014 09:53 UTC
Mac OS X

OS X Server's rate of improvement has slowed in recent years, though Apple is hardly ignoring it. It did get a full Yosemite-style visual overhaul, after all, which suggests that Apple cares about it enough to keep developing it in lockstep with the consumer version of OS X. The continuous addition of features and fixes over the course of the Mountain Lion and Mavericks releases of Server suggests that Yosemite Server will continue on in slow and gradual but still active development.

If we were going to worry about the state of the Mac server in 2014, our primary concern would actually be hardware. First they came for the Xserve, and I did not speak out, because Apple was clearly not going anywhere in Windows- and Linux-dominated enterprise-level server rooms. Then they came for the Mac Pro Server, and I did not speak out, for the cheese-grater Mac Pros were far too expensive to be practical for the new home-and-small-business focus of latter-day OS X Server. Then they came for the Mac Mini Server, and there was no one left to speak for it.

OS X Yosemite Server reviewed in-depth by Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Nov 2014 22:34 UTC

Two new releases from Apple today: iOS 8.1.1 and OS X 10.10.1 (don't try to pronounce it. You'll hurt yourself). iOS 8.1.1 brings speed improvements for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4s, while OS X 10.10.1 contains a whole bunch of bugfixes, most importantly relating to wifi. You know where to get them.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Nov 2014 20:34 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Recent device hardware trends enable a new approach to the design of network server operating systems. In a traditional operating system, the kernel mediates access to device hardware by server applications, to enforce process isolation as well as network and disk security.We have designed and implemented a new operating system, Arrakis, that splits the traditional role of the kernel in two. Applications have direct access to virtualized I/O devices, allowing most I/O operations to skip the kernel entirely, while the kernel is re-engineered to provide network and disk protection without kernel mediation of every operation.We describe the hardware and software changes needed to take advantage of this new abstraction, and we illustrate its power by showing improvements of 2-5 in latency and 9 in throughput for a popular persistent NoSQL store relative to a well-tuned Linux implementation.

This is a very detailed description of this project in the form of a proper scientific publication, and is part of the Proceedings of the 11th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation, accompanied by a presentation. You may want to grab something to drink.


Linked by jessesmith on Mon 17th Nov 2014 20:31 UTC

The PC-BSD project, a derivative of the FreeBSD operating system, has launched their 10.1 release. The new version supplies booting from UEFI support, full disk encrpytion, automated install-time ZFS tuning, a new package manager front-end that works on both Desktop and Server editions and a Linux emulation layer that works with CentOS 6.6. The PC-BSD project is available in several flavours, including a full Desktop edition, a CD-sized Server edition (called TrueOS) and there are a number of ready-made virtual machine images.

The PC-BSD operating system ships with several friendly front-ends for dealing with FreeBSD technologies, such as ZFS snapshots, backups, boot environments, package management and configuring the X display server.


Linked by Howard Fosdick on Mon 17th Nov 2014 20:28 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption Is your home wireless network secure? On a drive about town, I noticed that about one fifth of home routers are completely open and perhaps half are under-secured.

Used to be, this was because home users didn't know how to configure their routers. But now, Comcast is turning home networks into public hotspots unless customers -- few of whom even know about this -- specifically opt out. This article discusses the problems with this.

U.S. courts may hold you responsible if someone uses your wireless network -- without your knowledge or permission -- to illegally download music, movies, or software. People have even been raided by SWAT teams and convicted for downloading child pornography.

Is Comcast's project a bold move towards free wi-fi everywhere? Or is it a security outrage?

Meanwhile, here's a simple tutorial on how to secure your home wireless network.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 14th Nov 2014 23:15 UTC

Skype has been breaking down barriers to communication for more than a decade by being at the forefront of real-time voice and video. In this time we've made Skype available on computers, mobile phones, TVs and even games consoles. Expanding to different platforms has helped us grow to over 2 billion daily minutes (that's over 33 million hours) of voice and video calls. Today, we've got some exciting news. We're starting to roll-out a brand new way of using Skype. Now, not only can Skype be used on just about any screen you lay your hands on, but you can also enjoy Skype on a browser. Welcome, Skype for Web (Beta).

First thought?

Great for Chromebooks.


Linked by jessesmith on Fri 14th Nov 2014 22:00 UTC

The latest version of FreeBSD has been released. The new version, 10.1, is a incremental update to the 10.x series and mostly focuses on minor updates, bug fixes and performance improvements. A few of the more interesting new features listed in the release announcement include support for booting from UEFI, the ability to utilitize SMP on multicore ARM processors, ZFS performance enhancements and the ability to automatically generate host keys for OpenSSH if keys have not already been created.

The new version of FreeBSD is an extended support release and will receive security updates through to the end of December 2016. Further details on the FreeBSD 10.1 release, along with instructions for upgrading from previous releases, are available in the project's release notes. Installation images can be downloaded from the project's mirrors.