Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Jul 2015 23:22 UTC

Tom Warren's got a good piece up in which he interviews a number of people responsible for the development of Windows 10. Lots of interesting bits of information, but this one stood out to me.

He's also surprisingly blunt when he characterizes Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8, products he was intimately involved in developing. "We've had a couple of, sort of, practice runs with phone and PC," Belfiore says, before pivoting to the presumably brighter future with Windows 10, "We now have all the devices lined up. I don't expect to see the platform change again, in the same way it has before."

What he calls "practice runs", I call the most expensive failure in Microsoft's - and possibly all of technology's - history. When you add up all the years of development, marketing, the endless amount of bribes cash injections to keep Nokia from dumping Windows Phone, the actual acquisition of Nokia's mobile assets, the subsequent wholesale dumping of all those assets - it adds up to billions and billions of dollars down the drain, wasted, for naught. And the poison icing on this horrible cake?

They're continuing to scale down the phone part of Windows even further.

The practice run quote made me look back upon the past few years of reporting about Windows Phone and Nokia, about how many of us - myself at the forefront here on OSNews - realised years ago what a colossal failure Windows Phone was, and that small number of people insisting all was well with Windows Phone, how its market share was growing rapidly, how Nokia was doing great financially (*), and so on, and so forth. There were no tanks in Baghdad.

In this case, it sucks to be right, because these "practice runs" cost thousands and thousands of people their jobs.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Jul 2015 22:38 UTC

The Itanium may not have been much of a commercial success, but it is interesting as a processor architecture because it is different from anything else commonly seen today. It's like learning a foreign language: It gives you an insight into how others view the world.

The next two weeks will be devoted to an introduction to the Itanium processor architecture, as employed by Win32.

There's part one, two, and three - with more to come.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Jul 2015 08:47 UTC

Summing up these 45 pages, one can say that Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties. The company appears to be granting itself the right to share your data either with your consent "or as necessary".

You done got Scroogled.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Jul 2015 15:42 UTC

Microsoft has been releasing updates to build 10240 on an almost daily basis since it hit RTM. Most of the patches are important security or bug fixes and rather useful but some have reported crashes occurring as a result of the updates. As we had previously reported, Microsoft has made updates mandatory and automatic, thus stopping users from opting out of unwanted updates or till the update has been checked by other users. A new troubleshooting package, KB3073930, however, allows you to hide or block Windows or driver updates.

With Windows 10 being released in a few hours, bookmark the knowledge base article or download the update blocker tool mentioned in the article right away. While one can debate the merits - or lack thereof - of forced automatic updates, there's one huge, giant misstep Microsoft has taken with this: they will also force graphics drivers updates through Windows Update, and without this tool, there's no way to block them.

I have had such horrible experiences with graphics drivers updates over the course of my life - from back in the 3dfx days all the way up until my current Radeon 970X Special Overlocked Whatever Edition With Kittens - that I am very careful and deliberate about these updates. I generally schedule some time for these late on Friday, but only when I know I won't have any work over the weekend so I have a few days of performing possible fixes.

So, when I checked Windows Update last night and say that Microsoft secretly wanted to shove an AMD Radeon graphics driver update down my throat, I nearly panicked. To be clear: my machine is running the official AMD drivers from the AMD website, and not the AMD drivers Microsoft itself distributes through Windows Update. Had I not blocked this update, who knows what could've happend with possible conflicts or version mismatches or whatever.

Luckily, I found this tool and blocked the update - and as it turns out, that was probably the right thing to do. This past weekend, Microsoft forced a completely broken NVIDIA graphics driver update to its Windows 10 users, causing a whole slew of problems.

My view might be horribly jaded, but I have the suspicion that graphics driver updates are a huge source of issues with Windows. As such, who in their right mind at Microsoft thought it would be a good idea to force these update upon users?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Jul 2015 15:29 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

This article is both a tutorial, a war story and a conceptual introduction to GNU Hurd in which I set up a cross-toolchain, and give a colorful tour through some rough edges of the GNU build system. My host system is Slackware Linux 14.1 (running on -current), i686 - which I find preferable due to its highly vanilla nature, running software almost entirely without distro-specific patching.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Jul 2015 05:51 UTC

People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we've also heard that it doesn't make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.

So in the coming months, a Google Account will be all you'll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google. YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change, and you can learn more on their blog. As always, your underlying Google Account won't be searchable or followable, unlike public Google+ profiles. And for people who already created Google+ profiles but don't plan to use Google+ itself, we’ll offer better options for managing and removing those public profiles.

Google is getting rid of its horrible social network and all the means with which it tried to shove it down our throats. Great move, but long, long overdue.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Jul 2015 05:45 UTC

From a specs perspective, the OnePlus 2 features a 5.5-inch, 1080p screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, and either 16GB of storage with 3GB of RAM or 64GB of storage with 4GB of RAM. The back-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, while the front camera lets you shoot selfies at 5 megapixels. That back camera also includes a two-tone flash and a laser focusing system. While most of these specs are pretty standard fare for a high-end smartphone, the price remains anything but: the 16GB model will retail for $329, while the 64GB version will go for $389. That's more than last year's model, but after spending some time with the phone, I feel like the price increase is justified for what you get.

This phone's got some standout features I really like - aside from its price - such as a hardware switch on the side to cycle between the three default notification settings in Android Lollipop (all, priority, and none), similar to the hardware switch every iPhone has had since day one. I've always wondered why Android phones never included this incredibly useful feature. The software is very close to stock, so it's got that going for it as well. There's downsides too - it's still not truly stock, so yeah, expect update problems. It'll only be sold - again - through a silly invite system, and it lacks NFC and an SD card slot.

This is very close to what the Nexus 6 should have been, or what the next Nexus should be.


Linked by David Adams on Sat 25th Jul 2015 17:30 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Plasma Phone OS (or simply Plasma Phone) is a complete software stack for mobile devices and includes the following libre technologies: Plasma Mobile (a Plasma-based shell), KWIN/KWayland, Voicecall, Ofono, RIL, OHM, Telepathy. It allows to run several Qt-based applications to run on top of it, for example: Plasma apps, Ubuntu Touch based apps, Sailfish OS based apps, Nemo based apps.

The website is pretty minimal, but the first few comments on this Hacker News post gives a good overview.


Linked by David Adams on Sat 25th Jul 2015 17:24 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

BoingBoing posted a short movie by The MIT Media Lab's Knotty Objects group and noted hardware hacker Bunny Huang ask the question, "What if phones were designed to please their owners, rather than corporations?" In Southern China, where the majority of the world's mobile phones are made, there's a vibrant market for phones designed for all conceivable niches, where carrier subsidies, marketing campaigns, patents, trademarks, and other corporate-serving restrictions are ignored. If there's a possible market demand for a particular design, then someone makes a phone to meet that demand. It's a brief video, but worth a watch.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 25th Jul 2015 16:25 UTC

Dave Winer, like Linus Torvalds, noticed something strange was happening to his e-mail, which led him to figure out what was going on.

On Wednesday I wrote about a problem I've been seeing with GMail, or so I thought. Messages that I knew I must be getting were not showing up in any of my mailboxes in GMail. But when I searched for them, they would show up.

I heard from other people who had seen the same behavior.

And I heard from two people from Google who work on GMail, who asked all the right questions. And gave me really detailed instructions on how to help them debug this.



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jul 2015 22:54 UTC

Ars Technica has a review of Android Auto.

While we love the interface, we just wish there was more of it. Android Auto only covers a subset of the things you would want to do on an infotainment system. The result is an interface that - depending on what you want to do - will have you bouncing back and forth between two different interfaces. It's almost like installing Windows 8 in your car - you've got one modern, incomplete interface paired with a more comprehensive legacy interface. Android Auto can't control the AM/FM radio, CD player, or satellite radio. You also can't adjust the screen brightness, pair a device with the car, or mess with any other settings. Every time you start the car, it launches the ugly stock infotainment system, and you've got to plug your phone in and hit the Android Auto icon. Expect to switch from the beautiful-but-limited Android Auto interface to the slow, chuggy, tasteless OEM interface a lot.

Can anyone with knowledge on the matter explain to me why, exactly, car manufacturers have such outdated, crappy in-car software? And why, even when we have something like Android Auto that could power everything, do they insist on only letting it do a subset, dumping you back to their own crap software for everything else? Why is the car itself running Gingerbread (yes, Gingerbread!)?

Why are they so incompetent?


Linked by martini on Fri 24th Jul 2015 22:43 UTC
OS/2 and eComStation

Bww bitwise works has announced the fitfh beta of its Firefox port to OS/2 and eComStation. Bww bitwise works also announced that they are makking progress porting SWT/Eclipse, and that they are starting to work on porting a newer version of VirtualBox to OS/2.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jul 2015 22:39 UTC
Internet & Networking

Did you know that The Verge delivers you to around 20 companies for advertising & tracking purposes? I didn't. That might foul up your web experience a little bit. Maybe we should try something different.

The Verge obviously isn't alone in this. There's a reason I use an ad blocker.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jul 2015 22:13 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu

Aside from the app void and the questionable value of Scopes, Ubuntu Phone is a bit of a nightmare to use the majority of the time. Something's often refreshing in the background, causing the phone to slow down. Apps take longer to load than they should, and even then you're probably waiting on a web app. The gesture-based navigation is unrefined; there are bugs and glitches all over the place; and in general, many core experiences are severely lacking in polish. Despite years of development, Ubuntu Phone still feels like an early beta, and I think Canonical needs to think long and hard about the implementation of Scopes and bump native apps up the agenda. There's nothing wrong with trying to be different, but there's a reason Android/iOS are so popular. Ignoring the headway they've made in refining the mobile experience is, in my mind, setting yourself up for failure.

It's taking Canonical way, way too long. If the much further along Sailfish and Jolla can't really make a serious dent into anything, it's easy to imagine this won't go anywhere either.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jul 2015 22:09 UTC
Amiga & AROS

With the permission of Electronic Arts, Inc. the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use, the source code to the 1986 version I of DeluxePaint. There are 89 files of C language source, comprising almost 17,000 lines of code in about 474 KB of text.

The CHM keeps on doing awesome stuff like this. Also thanks to EA for releasing this historic code.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Jul 2015 22:01 UTC
Geek stuff, sci-fi...

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the "habitable zone" around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another "Earth."

All the recent successes in space - Philae/Rosetta, New Horizons, the never-ending stream of discoveries from Keppler, like this one - actually make me sad, because it makes me wonder how much more we could've achieved and discovered has we not developed this anti-science and pro-war climate we've been living in for a while now.

Maybe these new achievements will reignite the hunger for space. We can hope.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Jul 2015 21:54 UTC
Mac OS X

Apple needs to change its priorities for the Mac App Store or just shut the whole thing down. As it now stands, developers who are tired of being second-class citizens are making that decision for them and leaving on their own.

Even as a mere user the Mac App Store is a horrible experience. It's slow, has a crappy user interface, and many developers ignore it anyway. They might as well shut it down.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Jul 2015 21:50 UTC

The change should help end the annual frustration experienced by app developers when users running beta versions of iOS discovered a third party app wasn't compatible with the beta software and then left a 1-star rating on the App Store. Poor reviews on the App Store can hurt sales, and developers often can't do anything to fix the problem because they can't submit software built for the new versions of iOS whilst it remains in beta, and the bug could be one for Apple to fix, not the developer.

Good move, although it ook them way too long.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Jul 2015 10:21 UTC
Internet & Networking

Rupert Loman, owner of Gamer Network which boasts Eurogamer, Games Industry, Rock Paper Shotgun, VG247 and more within its network of sites, says that ad-blockers are a real threat to the future of journalism.

"Ad blocking is probably the biggest existential threat to the future of online games journalism," he told MCV.

Cry me a river.


Linked by David Adams on Thu 23rd Jul 2015 06:34 UTC
Amiga & AROS The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA is holding a two day event celebrating the Amiga, and other events will be held around the world. The museum's event will include exhibits of Amiga machines and other computers of the era from Commodore, Apple and Atari, speakers, rare artifacts and art, and a special showing of a new Amiga documentary.