Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 9th Dec 2016 20:56 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Basically: not having a headphone jack might not be enough to deter sales of a phone, but it's still really annoying and requires users to spend additional money to reclaim very basic functionality from their devices. And most of that money flows back to the device vendor, effectively increasing the price of the phone. We've taken something simple and universal, and turned it into something complex and proprietary, for no obvious benefits. It's a bad trade-off. It's... user-hostile and stupid. There's just no getting around it.

There's no tangible benefit to ditching the universal 3.5mm jack - whether Apple does it, or Samsung does it, or anyone else does it.

We're months and months into this discussion now, and to this day, nobody - not Apple, not Samsung, not John Gruber, not any commenters anywhere - has given me a real, valid, tangible reason why removing the 3.5mm jack is a good idea. Lightning audio is stupid because only the iPhone/iPad support it (not even Macs come with Lightning ports), and wireless audio is garbage - something even Apple is only now finding out. Those wireless AirPods Apple unveiled to much fanfare? They have been delayed and delayed, and are actually still unavailable, because Bluetooh audio is complete and utter garbage.

It almost feels like removing the 3.5mm jack was a sociological science experiment to determine just how far people were willing to go to defend and rationalise a deeply dumb idea.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 8th Dec 2016 23:45 UTC, submitted by Eric
Internet & Networking

Last year I created an account on Twitter to create a targeted feed for my hobby content and tweets for like-minded retro-gaming folk, separate from my personal account. On this hobby account I mainly follow retro-gaming and Commodore fans. When you use Twitter in a very targeted way like this, it actually can be extremely useful and enjoyable. In any event, during this time I began to see a healthy amount of discussion around BBS'es (Bulletin Board Systems) becoming "a thing" again for retro-computing nerds. And, amazingly, a few popular BBSes were being served off of 8-bit machines.

"8-Bitters" were connecting to them, having virtually "off the grid" discussions and playing games outside the watchful eye of Google and the rest of the internet. I wanted to connect to them, too.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 8th Dec 2016 23:42 UTC
Google

The architect of this reorganization - known as "Alphabetization" at the ever-sunny Google - was Ruth Porat, the new chief financial officer. Porat, who was born in England but grew up in Palo Alto, led Morgan Stanley's technology banking division during the first dot-com boom, served as an adviser to the Treasury Department during the bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and became Morgan Stanley's CFO in 2010. She joined Google in May 2015 with a mandate to bring discipline and focus to a company so awash in cash that it never needed much of either. She instituted rigorous budgeting and, according to people familiar with Alphabet's operations, forced the Other Bets to begin paying for the shared Google services they used. Projects hatched with ambiguous timelines of 10 or more years in some cases had to show a path to profit in half the time.

At most big companies, such financial controls are standard operating procedure, and Alphabet's investors are pleased. Its stock is up 35 percent since Porat joined. But within the Other Bets, Porat's tenure has been controversial, earning her an unflattering nickname: Ruthless Ruth. "She's a hatchet man," says a former senior Alphabet executive. "If Larry isn't excited about something," the executive continues, referring to CEO Page, "Ruth kills it."

I love these stories of problems few of us will ever have to deal with.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 8th Dec 2016 15:01 UTC
Windows

It's official: Microsoft is taking another stab at Windows on ARM, but this time around, it seems like they're taking it a lot more seriously. First, in collaboration with Qualcomm, Microsoft has created 32bit win32 emulation for Windows on ARM. This allows all 32bit win32 applications to run on ARM, unmodified. Microsoft showed win32 Photoshop running on an ARM machine. Second, Microsoft seems to be going beyond tablets this time around - they're promising laptops and desktops, too.

And technically, there's nothing stopping them from allowing ARM phones to run win32 applications (e.g. when docked) either. This is something I personally really, really want to see: a phone that can become a full-fledged PC just by connecting it to a display and input devices. While such a device won't be a powerhouse, it'd be great for the kinds of office workloads I'd want it for.

There's no technical details on the implementation of the emulation yet, but look for those to arrive over the coming months.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Dec 2016 23:47 UTC, submitted by Marc
Apple

Jean-Louis Gassée:

When the Apple smartphone project started, the key decision was the choice of software engine. Should Apple try to make a 'lite' version of OS X (as it was then known)? Go in a completely new direction?

It appears that a new direction may have been tempting. At the time that Apple's smartphone project began, an Apple employee and former Be engineer offered Palm Inc. $800K for a BeOS "code dump" - just the code, no support, no royalties. The engineer was highly respected for his skill in mating software to unfamiliar hardware; BeOS was a small, light operating system; draw your own conclusion... Palm, which had purchased Be a few years before that, turned him down.

Interesting historical footnote. This would be the second time that Apple tried to buy BeOS. I've been told that while Forstall (who wanted OS X) and Fadell (who wanted the iPod's Pixo) were battling it out, a former Be engineer then working at Apple wanted to prove BeOS was a viable iPhone candidate, and thus tried to buy it. As history knows, Forstall won out, and only after the fact did the Apple engineer inform the higher-ups of what he tried to do. Apparently, this happens more often inside Apple's culture.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Dec 2016 23:37 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

An amazing QEMU disk image every day! Brightening your days in the winter holiday season.

This is a great idea.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Dec 2016 21:03 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

What's interesting is that there is evidence in the design of an intellectual tension between safety and pushing the boundaries. Samsung engineers designed out all of the margin in the thickness of the battery, which is the direction where you get the most capacity gain for each unit of volume. But, the battery also sits within a CNC-machined pocket - a costly choice likely made to protect it from being poked by other internal components. Looking at the design, Samsung engineers were clearly trying to balance the risk of a super-aggressive manufacturing process to maximize capacity, while attempting to protect it internally.

Fascinating look - with photos - at the (possible) cause of the Galaxy Note 7 fires.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Dec 2016 20:58 UTC
Legal

The Supreme Court has overturned Apple's $400 million award in its long-running patent lawsuit against Samsung. Apple won the case in 2012, convincing a federal court that a number of Samsung devices had infringed upon iPhone design patents - including one for a rectangular device with rounded corners and bezels, and another for a home screen comprised of a grid of colorful apps. The Supreme Court’s decision today does not reverse Apple’s win, but does mean that the case will be returned to the Federal Circuit so that the damages can be reassessed.

Yeah, this thing is still going on.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Dec 2016 00:13 UTC
Google

Here's what you don't want to do late on a Sunday night. You do not want to type seven letters into Google. That's all I did. I typed: "a-r-e". And then "j-e-w-s". Since 2008, Google has attempted to predict what question you might be asking and offers you a choice. And this is what it did. It offered me a choice of potential questions it thought I might want to ask: "are jews a race?", "are jews white?", "are jews christians?", and finally, "are jews evil?"

Are Jews evil? It's not a question I've ever thought of asking. I hadn't gone looking for it. But there it was. I press enter. A page of results appears. This was Google's question. And this was Google's answer: Jews are evil. Because there, on my screen, was the proof: an entire page of results, nine out of 10 of which "confirm" this. The top result, from a site called Listovative, has the headline: "Top 10 Major Reasons Why People Hate Jews." I click on it: "Jews today have taken over marketing, militia, medicinal, technological, media, industrial, cinema challenges etc and continue to face the worlds [sic] envy through unexplained success stories given their inglorious past and vermin like repression all over Europe."

Hatred, lies, and stupidity spread easily on the internet - it's a perfect storm of the ease of technology and - very bluntly put - the stupidity of people. Most people have absolutely no understanding of the scientific method, and lack the basic mental tools to objectively assess information and its source. The end result is swaths of people believing that the moon landings were faked, man-made climate change isn't real, that witches have magical powers and need to be burnt at the stake, or - indeed - that Jews, women (try it!), and so on are "evil", because uncle Jimmy's neighbour's aunt's niece thrice removed posted it on Facebook.

This is a problem that's going to be very tough to solve. Stupid people have always existed - but the internet is new.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 5th Dec 2016 21:08 UTC
In the News

Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)

Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you're done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we'll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.

I find this absolutely fascinating and immensely desirable.

I live in a small rural town in the middle of nowhere, and only very recently did we finally get a brand new supermarket with the latest self-checkout and contactless payment technologies (voted most beautiful supermarket in the country, I might add, and a 73-year old family business - we're proud of our own), and it's just so much more convenient than old-fashioned cash registers. I know a number of people prefer being served by a cashier, but honestly - to me it's just wasted time I could spend on something useful.

In any event, the idea of just taking stuff off the shelves, without even having to scan them or pay for them at a terminal seems like the next logical step. I don't like the idea of online grocery shopping (I want to see how fresh my produce is before buying it), so this is an excellent compromise.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 4th Dec 2016 01:16 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The FireBee is a new Atari-compatible computer. Ataris and Atari-Clones are special computers with their own hard & software. They aren't PC's, Mac's nor Amiga compatible.

A FireBee is similar to an Atari Falcon and works very much like that. It will run most of the Atari compatible software that would run on a Falcon. Different to older Ataris and their clones, the FireBee is a modern computer that supports almost everything you'd expect from a today's machine, like USB ports, Ethernet, DVI-I monitor connector, SD-card reader and more.

This brand-new Atari compatible is not cheap, but much like the current Amiga computers, if you're worried about the price, you're probably not the intended audience. Note that even though the order page says "pre-order", I think that's a typo - you can order them directly from the Swiss company that makes them, too.

I love that people and companies are passionate enough to keep developing, building, and selling machines like this - it's a vital effort to keep platforms alive well into the future.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 3rd Dec 2016 00:36 UTC
Windows

The Windows' NTFS file system has supported symlinks since Windows Vista. However, it hasn't been easy for Windows developers to create symlinks. In our efforts to continually improve the Windows Developer experience we're fixing this!

Starting with Windows 10 Insiders build 14972, symlinks can be created without needing to elevate the console as administrator. This will allow developers, tools and projects, that previously struggled to work effectively on Windows due to symlink issues, to behave just as efficiently and reliably as they do on Linux or OSX.

Pretty sure a few developers out there are rolling their eyes, sighing 'finally'.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd Dec 2016 21:43 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Last month we did a quick exercise aiming to see how far we could get in a few weeks in porting Sailfish OS to a new kind of mobile device, an Android smartwatch. Compared to the competition, Sailfish OS’s interaction paradigm is particularly suited for small screens, it being gesture-driven and designed to maximize display estate available for the user content. We also had the watch demo with us as a teaser in Slush 2016 this week, to emphasize to journalists, partners and other people how versatile platform Sailfish OS is. And naturally an implementation like this, could fit nicely also into our licensing strategy.

This looks pretty good, actually, but as an owner of the limited edition version of the Jolla Phone and the incredibly elusive and rare Jolla Tablet - what I want is not more device categories, it's applications.

This has been the platform's number one weakness since its inception, and they seem unwilling to do anything about it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd Dec 2016 00:06 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Late yesterday it was reported by The Information that Fitbit is close to buying wearable startup Pebble, news that has since been independently confirmed by The Verge. Fitbit and Pebble have been in the final stages of the deal since before the Thanksgiving holiday; the buying price has not yet been confirmed. While it ultimately might not be as good of a deal as Pebble would have hoped for, there are a lot of reasons why a Pebble-Fitbit deal makes sense.

Pebble is popular among OSNews readers, so those of you with a Pebble might want to keep an eye out for the future of this possible deal.

 

Linked by nfeske on Thu 1st Dec 2016 20:42 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Following the feature-rich release in August, with the new version 16.11, Genode's developers took the chance to work on long-standing architectural topics, most prominently the low-level interplay between parent and child components. Besides this low-level work, the release features much improved virtual-networking capabilities. Originally introduced in the previous version, Genode's network-routing mechanism has become more versatile and easier to use. Further topics include the added support for smart cards, kernel improvements of the NOVA hypervisor, and a virtual file system for generating time-based passcodes.

The efficient interaction between user-level components is one of the most important aspects of microkernel-based systems like Genode. The design space for this interplay is huge and there is no widely accepted consensus about the "right" way. The options include message passing between independent threads, the migration of threads between address spaces, shared memory, and various flavours of asynchronous communication.

When the Genode project originally emerged from the L4 community, it was somehow preoccupied with the idea that synchronous IPC is the best way to go. After all, the sole reliance on unbuffered synchronous IPC was widely regarded as the key for L4's excellent performance. Over the years, however, the mindset of the Genode developers shifted away from this position. Whereas synchronous IPC was found to be a perfect match for some use cases, it needlessly complicated others. It turns out that any IPC mechanism is ultimately a trade-off between low latency, throughput, simplicity, and scalability. Finding a single sweet spot that fits well for all parts of an operating system seems futile. Given this realization and countless experiments, Genode's inter-component protocols were gradually shaped towards the combination of synchronous IPC where low-latency remote procedure calls are desired, asynchronous notifications, and shared memory. That said, Genode's most fundamental inter-component communication protocol - the interplay between parent and child components to establish communication sessions between clients and servers - remained unchanged since the very first version. The current release reconsiders the architectural decisions made in the early days and applies Genode's modern design principles to these low-level protocols. The release documentation contrasts the original design that was solely based on synchronous IPC with the new way. Even though the new version overcomes long-standing limitations of the original design, at the first glance, it gives the impression to be more complicated and expensive in terms of the number of context switches. Interestingly, however, the change has no measurable effect on the performance of even the most dynamic system scenarios. The apparent reason is that the parent-child interactions make up a minuscule part of the overall execution time in real-world scenarios.

Even though the architectural work mentioned above is fundamental to the Genode system as a whole, it is barely visible to users of the framework. With respect to user-visible changes, the most prominent improvement is the vastly improved infrastructure for virtual networking, which is covered in great detail in the release documentation. Further topics are the added support for using smart cards, a new VFS plugin for generating time-based passcodes, and updated versions of VirtualBox 4 and 5 running of top of NOVA. Speaking of NOVA, the release improves this kernel in several respects, in particular by adding support for asynchronous map operations. Each of the topics is covered in more depth in the release documentation.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Dec 2016 20:41 UTC
Oracle and SUN

There's a rumour going around that Oracle is close to ending all development of Solaris, effectively killing the operating system.

Solaris being canned, at least 50% of teams to be RIF'd in short term. All hands meetings being cancelled on orders from legal to prevent news from spreading. Hardware teams being told to cease development. There will be no Solaris 12, final release will be 11.4. Orders coming straight from Larry.

It's just rumours for now, but they've been gaining steam over the past few days.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Dec 2016 20:35 UTC
Android

Back in May, we heard that HMD Global - a new mobile company made up of ex-Nokia staffers - is looking to use the Nokia name to manufacture smartphones running Android as well as feature phones. Today, HMD has announced that it has secured exclusive licensing rights to Nokia's branding for 10 years.

The first batch of Android smartphones bearing the Nokia name will make their debut in the first half of 2017.

HMD is a Finnish company staffed with ex-Nokia people, so it makes sense they'd be working together on this. Hopefully this means Nokia can focus on what it does best - the backend - while the smaller, more nimble HMD san focus on making great phones.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Dec 2016 00:43 UTC
Amiga & AROS

The pre-release version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update #1 is an official update to AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition released by Hyperion Entertainment in 2014. It is the combined result of many many years of effort by the core AmigaOS developers, translators and beta testers and includes a number of bug fixes and updates to the original AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition release.

The naming and versioning system could use some work.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 30th Nov 2016 23:18 UTC
In the News

Like LOL, like, entrenched in all kinds of sentences, used subconsciously, and difficult to parse the real meaning of without careful consideration, has all the hallmarks of a piece of grammar - specifically, in the pragmatic department, modal wing. One thing making it especially clear that the new like is not just a tic of heedless, underconfident youth is that many of the people who started using it in the new way in the 1970s are now middle-aged. People's sense of how they talk tends to differ from the reality, and the person of a certain age who claims never to use like "that way" as often as not, like, does - and often. As I write, a sentence such as There were like grandparents and like grandkids in there is as likely to be spoken by a forty-something as by a teenager or a college student. Just listen around the next time you're standing in a line, watching a talk show, or possibly even listening to yourself.

Great article.

Just goes to show how complex and deep language can be. This is a good, detailed article on the changing use of the word "like", which, despite its length, doesn't even touch upon another now-common use of the word "like" that has even transcended borders and languages: Facebook's "like", which has become a noun in several languages - including my own - and carries with it a new verb meaning: to click that particular Facebook button.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 30th Nov 2016 20:57 UTC
Internet & Networking

Walt Mossberg:

So, yes, in my view, Facebook has a direct responsibility to get rid of fake news, and it cannot simply rely on its audience or others to shoulder the burden. I'm happy to see tools made available to readers that help report such trash, and happy that Facebook is working with third-party fact checkers. But the ultimate responsibility is Facebook’s.

Nobody wants Facebook to tinker with legitimate news and opinion - again, except for hate speech. But getting rid of purely fake news from purely fake sources is an eminently achievable task, especially for a well-funded, tech-savvy, huge media company serving nearly 2 billion people.

I've written about my thoughts on this subject before, but I want to make them clearer by presenting you with an example.

Consider this clip from Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.

Everything in this clip is not true. Everything said in that clip about Amsterdam and The Netherlands is literally - literally literally, not the fake kind of literally - made up. It's all lies. Flat-out, bold-faced lies. This is clearly, unapologetically, fake news.

Yet, I doubt people like Mossberg and other people who claim it's easy as pie for Facebook and Twitter to 'block' fake news would agree with me that Facebook should block this kind of news from their sites. Even though it's nothing but flat-out lies, it would not be considered 'fake news'.

And therein lies the problem with this whole outrage over 'fake news'. No matter how many times people say it's easy to separate real news from fake news, there's going to be so many edge cases to trip up generic algorithms, and it's simply not feasible to have human curation on sites as large in volume as Facebook and Twitter.

Is it really Facebook's job to solve for people's stupidity? In my view, it really isn't. On top of that, I somehow doubt the tech media would be as worked up over this as they are now had Clinton won the election - and all of you know my political leanings well enough by now to understand the value of me saying this.