Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 7th May 2018 21:17 UTC

Android Things is Google's managed OS that enables you to build and maintain Internet of Things devices at scale. We provide a robust platform that does the heavy lifting with certified hardware, rich developer APIs, and secure managed software updates using Google's back-end infrastructure, so you can focus on building your product.

After a developer preview with over 100,000 SDK downloads, we're releasing Android Things 1.0 to developers today with long-term support for production devices. Developer feedback and engagement has been critical in our journey towards 1.0, and we are grateful to the over 10,000 developers who have provided us feedback through the issue tracker, at workshop events, and through our Google+ community.

Google is promising three years of security updates, straight from Google itself.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 7th May 2018 13:13 UTC

This has been bugging me for a while - definitely since iOS 11 was unveiled last June and probably before then. I have no clue what Apple's strategy is with their iOS app icon sets, other than to resign myself to the truth that there isn't one. For simplicity, I'm focusing on just the share icon in this post (what Apple formally calls the 'action' button) but these criticisms apply much more widely.

iOS is, indeed, an inconsistent mess when it comes to user interface design. Every application looks and feels different, which trips me up all the time. Android is a little bit better in this regard thanks to Material Design, but that's really not saying much.

And you know what? I'd rather have misaligned ports I never see at the bottom of my phone than inconsistent UI design I look at multiple times a day.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 6th May 2018 21:21 UTC

A years-old privacy flaw will finally be coming to an end on Android. It's an issue you've probably never heard of, but one that you should absolutely be concerned about. Currently, apps on Android can gain full access to the network activity on your device - even without asking for any sensitive permissions. These apps can't detect the content of your network calls, but they can sniff any outgoing or incoming connection via TCP/UDP to determine if you are connecting to a certain server. For instance, an app can detect when another app on your device connects to a financial institution’s server. Don’t believe me? Just download one of the many netstat apps on the Play Store and see for yourself.

I had no idea this was an issue at all. Good to see it fixed, and since it'll probably be part of a monthly security update, it'll propagate to most Android devices.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 6th May 2018 20:59 UTC, submitted by intric8
Hardware, Embedded Systems

So the objective here was to take a C64 breadbin case and keyboard and put a Raspberry Pi 3 into it; keeping the keyboard and joystick ports working, but also giving me HDMI, USB controller support, and modem emulation. While I still have 2 real Commodore 64s (and an Ultimate64 on the way!), I like using the RPi and Vice to play 64 games.

These mounts do not require you to drill or cut your C64 case! The 3D files are provisioned under the creative commons license so they are FREE to use, distribute, modify, or even sell.

Just a fun project.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 6th May 2018 13:11 UTC

Sharing from one app to another has been a mainstay of Android for years and years. It was one of the features that first drew me to Android: no more copying and pasting, no more having to open Twitter or WhatsApp to send a picture I just saw in my Gallery. Apps could talk to each other and the experience felt more cohesive and seamless.

But with time, the Share UI in Android has languished, stuck with the same features and same problems. It switched from a vertical list to a horizontal one, it added direct share in Android 6.0 and app pinning in Android 7.0, yet these felt like putting lipstick on a pig: the Share UI remains slow, bloated, convoluted, and if you pay close attention to it, one of the most inconsistent experiences on Android to date. Android P, like Oreo before it, appears to bring no improvements to the Share interface, but that's a big oversight in our opinion. It's high time Google gave it the attention it deserved and fixed its many issues.

The share sheet on Android is, indeed, a mess. It's odd how such an important aspect of one of Android's major strong points - inter-application communication - is being left to rot.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 5th May 2018 12:20 UTC, submitted by markee174

RISC OS 5.24 has been released.

The headline features see previously neglected areas of RISC OS dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, with JPEG support, monitor EDID support, handling of larger hard drives, and the network stack being upgraded. The bounty system is delivering some really worthwhile enhancements into the software. USB and network stack improvements are a massive undertaking, and ROOL broke each into several stages to make them more manageable.

There are also some genuine improvements to user features such as clipboard improvements and new features in Paint. Lots of applications have received little tweaks such as unicode and fancy fonts in Chars, improved dialogs in Printers, tweaks to HForm, DosFS, Maestro, more secure LanmanFS which can connect to Windows 8 and 10, etc.

RISC OS 5.24 is freely available for Raspberry Pi machines.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 4th May 2018 23:19 UTC
General Development

By far, the worst part of working on beets is dealing with filenames. And since our job is to keep track of your files in the database, we have to deal with them all the time. This post describes the filename problems we discovered in the project's early days, how we address them now, and some alternatives for the future.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 4th May 2018 23:16 UTC

Following Facebook's acknowledgement that it had let a political ad targeting firm scrape the personal data of 87 million users, I rushed to see what kind of personal data the social network and Google had gathered on me. Both had more information, reaching back longer, than I had envisioned.

So Apple was next. I use an iPhone, iPad and two Mac computers, and Apple also offers data downloads in the privacy section of its website. It's hard to find, and once you do make the connection, you can expect a hefty wait to get the results. But don't expect to stay up all night reading what Apple has on you.

Hint: it ain't much.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 4th May 2018 14:13 UTC

I’ve been a professional Free Software developer in the GNU/Linux area for 14 years now, and a hobbyist developer and user for much longer. For some reason that never extended much to the smartphone world, beyond running LineageOS on my older phones (my current Sony Xperia is still under warranty and I’m fine with the officially supported Android), and various stabs at using the Ubuntu phone (RIP!).

On a few long weekends this year it got a hold of me, and I had a look over the Google fence to see how Free Software is doing on Android and how to reduce my dependency on Google Play Services and Google apps. Less because I would actually severely distrust Google, as they have a lot of business and goodwill to lose if they ever majorly screw up; but more because of simple curiosity and for learning new things. I want to note down my experience here for sharing and discussing.

I started experimenting on my old Nexus 4 by completely blanking it and installing current LineageOS 14.1 without the Google apps. This provides a nice testing ground that is completely free of any proprietary Google stuff. From that I can apply good solutions on my "production" Xperia.

One of those topics not particularly suited for most smartphone users, but among OSNews readers, there are sure to be quite a few people who are interested in this.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 3rd May 2018 22:57 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

But if we can't change our behaviors, maybe we can change our devices. Enter the minimalist phone: a phone that does less. Over the course of a few weeks, I tried out four different phones - the Unihertz Jelly, the Nokia 3310 3G, the Punkt MP01, and the Light Phone - in an effort to curb how much time I spend needlessly scrolling and refreshing. Not every one of these phones is intentionally minimalist, but each came with unique limitations, built-in throttles that would effectively discourage anyone from wallowing in the stupor of infinite feeds. I was looking for a change. I was looking for salvation.

But when it was all over, I came crawling back to my iPhone.

It shouldn't be this hard to find a good feature phone. I'm pretty sure we have more readers longing for a good feature phone than most websites, and those of you who have that longing should be able to pick up a good feature phone - not some crappy fashion statement that is frustrating to use.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 3rd May 2018 22:39 UTC

A 20th anniversary is a milestone worthy of celebration in its own right, but even more so when describing a computer. Few technology products boast such a feat in an industry where changing customer preference and exponential technical advancement can quickly obsolete even the most well-considered plans.

This Sunday, Apple's iMac line joins the 20-year club. Its ticket to entry is two decades of valuable lessons and ideas that tell the recent history of the personal computer industry and reveal Apple's priorities and values. The iMac's timeline tells many stories - some of reinvention and business strategy, others of software and hardware.

Perhaps none are more significant than the iMac's design story. Explorations of color, form, material, and miniaturization have marked significant breakthroughs throughout the years. On this anniversary week, we'll take a look at the design evolution of the iMac.

The iMac G4 is definitely my favourite iMac. I've owned all types of iMac - the G3, G4, G5, and various Intel models - and the latest incarnation, the iMac Pro, is definitely on my list of things I'd love to buy if I win the lottery.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 3rd May 2018 22:35 UTC
Internet & Networking

When you set a password for your Twitter account, we use technology that masks it so no one at the company can see it. We recently identified a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log. We have fixed the bug, and our investigation shows no indication of breach or misuse by anyone.

Out of an abundance of caution, we ask that you consider changing your password on all services where you've used this password. You can change your Twitter password anytime by going to the password settings page.

I like how the story is titled "Keeping your account secure".


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 3rd May 2018 17:23 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Your devices are tracking you all the time. You just don’t know it yet.

When you consent to sharing your data with many popular apps, you’re also allowing app developers to collect your data and sell it to third parties through trackers that supply advertisers with detailed information about where you live, work, and shop.

In November 2017, Yale Privacy Lab detected trackers in over 75% of the 300 Android apps it analyzed. A March 2018 study of 160,000 free Android apps found that more than 55% of trackers tried to extract user location, while 30% accessed the device’s contact list. And a 2015 analysis of 110 popular free mobile apps revealed that 47% of iOS apps shared geo-coordinates and other location data with third parties, and personally identifiable information, like names of users (provided by 18% of iOS apps), was also provided.

These are particularly nasty trackers, since it's generally more difficult to block them.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd May 2018 23:01 UTC

Given all of these changes, we wanted to explore how the T2 coprocessor was being used by Apple and how it currently fits into the larger system security model, as well as how this may evolve in the future. What follows is the first part of this exploration where we describe how the T2 coprocessor is used to implement Secure Boot on the iMac Pro, as well as comparing and contrasting this Secure Boot approach to those that have been present in Apple’s iDevices for a number of years.

Detailed exploration of the T2 coprocessor in the new iMac Pro.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd May 2018 21:40 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

A coalition of Silicon Valley tech giants has doubled down on its criticism of encryption backdoors following a proposal that would give law enforcement access to locked and encrypted devices.

The group, which focuses on efforts to reform government surveillance, said in a statement that it continues to advocate for strong encryption, and decried attempts to undermine the technology.

The coalition consists of, among others, Google, Microsoft, and Apple.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd May 2018 20:02 UTC
Bugs & Viruses

In an exclusive piece of research, Check Point Researchers have carried out a revealing investigation into North Korea's home-grown anti-virus software, SiliVaccine. One of several interesting factors is that a key component of SiliVaccine's code is a 10-year-old copy of one of Trend Micro's, a Japanese company, software components.

It also contained a piece of malware, so not much different from western anti-virus.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st May 2018 23:22 UTC
General Development

I've decided to write up a little history of ispc, the compiler I wrote when I was at Intel. There's a lot to say, so it'll come out in a series of posts over the next few weeks. While I've tried to get all the details right and properly credit people, this is all from my memory. For anyone who was around at the time, please send an email if you see any factual errors.

The above links to the first part in the series - there's a table of contents for the entire series.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st May 2018 22:45 UTC

Regulation (EU) 2016/6791, the European Union's new General Data Protection Regulation ('GDPR'), regulates the processing by an individual, a company or an organisation of personal data relating to individuals in the EU.

It doesn't apply to the processing of personal data of deceased persons or of legal entities.

The rules don't apply to data processed by an individual for purely personal reasons or for activities carried out in one's home, provided there is no connection to a professional or commercial activity. When an individual uses personal data outside the personal sphere, for socio-cultural or financial activities, for example, then the data protection law has to be respected.

A complete guide and overview of the new GDPR going into effect in the EU later this month. It's a very comprehensive set of privacy regulations that virtually all technology - and others - will have to comply with.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st May 2018 17:08 UTC
Mozilla & Gecko clones

Mozilla's Nate Weiner:

Content on the web is powerful. It enables us to learn new things, discover different perspectives, stay in touch with what's happening in the world, or just make us laugh. Making sure that stories like these - stories that are worth your time and attention - are discoverable and supported is central to what we care about at Pocket.

It's important for quality content like this to thrive - and a critical way it's funded is through advertising. But unfortunately, today, this advertising model is broken. It doesn't respect user privacy, it's not transparent, and it lacks control, all the while starting to move us toward low quality, clickbait content.

We believe the Internet can do better. So earlier this year, we started to explore a new model and showed an occasional sponsored story in Pocket's recommendation section on Firefox New Tab. Starting today, we're expanding this work further - now Firefox Nightly and Beta users may also see these sponsored stories. We're preparing for this feature to go fully live in May to Firefox users in the US with the Firefox 60 release.

Luckily, you can turn this off.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st May 2018 13:23 UTC

All those little features add up: The phone is fun and easy to use. And so far, there's no serious downside. I mentioned it above; the experience is simultaneously high-end luxury yet while staying informed and in control of the device. I believe this is a very difficult mix to get right. IMO, Apple's been drifting away from the keep-the-user-in-control value.

Maybe this sounds naive, but I'm completely surprised by how the product stands on its own. It's not in the shadow of iOS, not playing catch-up with Apple. I'm continuously seeing common problems solved in new ways.

I'm sure we can have a civil, informed, and respectful discussion about this. To facilitate such, I'm going for a walk. With my iPhone 10, AirPods, and Apple Watch.