Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 27th Feb 2015 18:03 UTC
Geek stuff, sci-fi...

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut "Star Trek," died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

"Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... Human."

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Feb 2015 16:36 UTC
Windows

Fascinating inside scoop by WPCentral. According to them, there were very advanced talks between Microsoft and Pebble to come to a close partnership between the two companies. Microsoft built a fully functional Pebble application for Windows Phone with complete integration, offered to bundle Pebble devices with Windows Phone sales through Microsoft stores and carriers, and a whole lot more. All this was set to be announced at BUILD 2014.

However, it did not come to pass.

There is just one problem: Pebble founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky.

Despite Microsoft's attempts to win over Pebble, Migicovsky is reportedly not a fan of the company nor their mobile operating system. The young entrepreneur reportedly nixed any partnership.

Growing up in a world where Google and Apple have dominated the mobile scene, this perception that Microsoft is old and out of touch is seemingly more frequent these days. Particularly with those under 30 (see Snapchat's Evan Spiegel for a similar attitude). Even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was unable to persuade him personally.

If I were to take an uneducated stab at why Pebble didn't go through with this, I think we need to look no further than Apple. Apple has its watch coming, and that alone would be incentive enough for Apple to start making the life of other smartwatch makers who want to be compatible with iOS very difficult. Now imagine if Pebble, to boot, had a close partnership with Microsoft, including preferential treatment for Windows Phone? Apple is not exactly know for not being incredibly petty.

I think Pebble made the wise choice here.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Feb 2015 16:08 UTC
Amiga & AROS

Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) is on the wishlist of AmigaOS users for quite some time now, and while progress has been made, we're still not there yet.

To explain the progress, let us first look at the concept, and then point to where we are in the whole.

AmigaOS developer Thomas Frieden goes in-depth in the work currently under way to bring SMP to AmigaOS.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Feb 2015 16:05 UTC
Games

Now, more than a year into the SteamOS era (measuring from that beta launch), the nascent Linux gaming community is cautiously optimistic about the promise of a viable PC gaming market that doesn't rely on a Microsoft OS. Despite technical and business problems that continue to get in the way, Valve has already transformed gaming on Linux from "practically nothing" to "definitely something" and could be on the verge of making it much more than that.

Progress has been amazing, and once Valve gets its SteamOS and Steam Machines, things should pick up even more.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Feb 2015 16:02 UTC
Android

Google is bringing one familiar feature of Web search to its Google Play store: Paid search results.

The company said it will begin testing what it calls "sponsored" search results within its app store in the coming weeks. The move is intended to help developers better promote their apps in a store that boasts more than a million choices. Of course, it will also generate more revenue for Google.

Application stores are already completely and utterly useless and broken for application discovery, so I couldn't care less about this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Feb 2015 10:29 UTC
Android

Over a billion people today carry Android smartphones - devices that are more powerful than the computers we used just a few years ago.

For many, these phones have become essential tools to help us complete important work tasks like checking email, editing documents, reviewing sales pipelines and approving deals. But for the majority of workers, smartphones and tablets are underutilized in the workplace. Their business and innovation potential remain largely untapped.

Today we're announcing the Android for Work program to tap into that potential. With a group of partners, we're helping businesses bring more devices to work by securing, managing and innovating on the Android platform.

The elephant in the room.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Feb 2015 23:12 UTC, submitted by Anonymous
Linux

Tails 1.3 has been released.

Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card independently of the computer's original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux.

A Linux distribution aimed at privacy.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Feb 2015 23:08 UTC, submitted by twitterfire
Android

Console OS, the Kickstarter project to release a distribution of Android specifically for regular PCs, has seen its first release. Sadly, for now, it only works with a relatively limited set of machines, so I can't try it out for you and tell you what it's like. I imagine it is not all that dissimilar from hooking a keyboard and mouse up to any other Android device, but it does add the ability to show two Android applications side by side. Additionally, it's based on KitKat and comes with the Google Play Store.

Interesting, but for now, the limited hardware support makes it hard to actually try it out. I'm intrigued though, and would really love to use it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Feb 2015 16:05 UTC
Internet & Networking

But here's the current reality, one that has been accurate for awhile. Apple has a very, very strong influence over what standards get adopted and what standards do not. Partly it's market share, partly it's developer bias (see, for example, how other vendors eventually felt forced to start supporting the webkit prefix due to vendor prefix abuse).

Apple simply does not play well with other vendors when it comes to standardization. The same sort of things we once criticized Microsoft for doing long ago, we give Apple a pass on today. They're very content to play in their own little sandbox all too often.

All this specifically pertaining to the Touch Events/Pointer Events dichotomy. The latter is superior, but Apple refuses to support it, while the former couldn't be adopted because of patent threats from Apple. So, Pointer Events is now finalised, but Apple will not implement it.

They're not the only ones to blame for yet another childish, nonsensical, anti-consumer spat in web standardisation - Google is just as much to blame. This is what a Google engineer has to say on the matter:

No argument that PE is more elegant. If we had a path to universal input that all supported, we would be great with that, but not all browsers will support PE. If we had Apple on board with PE, we’d still be on board too.

Android is the biggest mobile platform, and Chrome is the most popular desktop browser. Had Google the stones, they'd implement Pointer Events and help paint Apple in a corner. They refuse to do so, thereby contributing just as much to this nonsense as Apple.

All this reeks of specifically wanting to hurt the web just because these companies are competitors elsewhere. Bunch of children.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Feb 2015 15:55 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Today, we've been able to source the list of all the apps that will be pre-installed on the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. This list contains only two Samsung apps, three apps from Microsoft, all the Google apps, as well as apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. Samsung will also pre-install GALAXY APPS so that you can download other apps from Samsung, as well as other premium apps which Samsung provides for free.

[...]

Also, TouchWiz on the Galaxy S6 will not be much different from Android Lollipop based TouchWiz on the Galaxy Note 4, however the software will be leaner and faster, along with many more animations from Google’s latest design guidelines. Samsung has also updated the design of all the essential apps like music player, video player, and gallery to better suit Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Maybe Samsung learned its lesson?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Feb 2015 15:44 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Pebble has unveiled its new smartwatch - the Pebble Time. From an article The Verge published about the company and this new watch:

But this watch has a few tricks up its sleeve. For the first time, Pebble's smartwatch has a color e-paper LCD screen, replacing the black-and-white panels used on the Pebble and Pebble Steel. It’s not the same kind of display you'll find on an Android Wear watch or the Apple Watch; only 64 colors are available, and it has much less contrast, saturation, and resolution than other screens. It's more like a Game Boy Color screen than a modern smartphone display. But it uses very little power and is visible in bright daylight, letting Pebble keep the display on all the time without using a lot of battery life. That helps preserve one of Pebble's strengths over the competition: the company says the Pebble Time can last up to seven days between charges, far longer than other smartwatches.

Be sure to watch the video atop the article to get an idea of the awesome interface they have devised. The timeline concept, the distinctive animations - it's got some real personality and character. If you want a utilitarian smartwatch and don't care too much about looks, the Pebble seems to run circles around the charge-everyday, platform-locked competition.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Feb 2015 21:01 UTC
Apple

Did you ever wish you could sync up your iPad's drawing or painting app directly with your Mac? Now you can with Astropad, a brand new app that literally mirrors your Mac desktop via Wi-Fi or USB.

Created by two ex-Apple engineers - Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli - Astropad works with several popular brands of pressure-sensitive pens to create a pro-level drawing tablet that pairs with your Mac for illustration, sketching, painting and photo editing.

This always seemed like such a no-brainer to me. In fact, I'm surprised this kind of 'tethering' functionality isn't built into iOS+OS X themselves by Apple.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Feb 2015 17:44 UTC
Android

A U.S. federal judge has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit that charges Google harmed consumers by forcing Android handset makers to use its apps by default, but gave the plaintiffs three weeks to amend their complaint.

The two consumers who filed the suit failed to show that Google's allegedly illegal restrictive contracts on manufacturers of Android devices resulted in higher prices on phones, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said in a Feb. 20 ruling.

Handset makers are free to release Android handsets without Google's applications, however, if you want one Google Android application, you got to have them all. I don't know if the latter is harmful in any way for consumers, but the plethora of insanely cheap - and sometimes, cheap and still really good - Android devices seems to contradict the complaint from the plaintiffs that it drives up prices.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Feb 2015 16:00 UTC
Windows

For Windows to be a truly global product, anyone in the world should be able to type in their language. The first step to unlocking text input for the world is to be able to display any of the world's languages. This is a challenging task, one which most people don't need to worry about because their language is already supported, but for millions of people around the world getting basic text support has been a problem. The stumbling block in most such cases is a little-known component called a "shaping engine". A shaping engine is used for so-called complex text layout, which is needed for about half of the world's writing systems. For many years, Windows customers have been able to install their own fonts and keyboards but before Windows 10, if there was no shaping engine for your script things wouldn't look right.

Windows 10 contains a brand new shaping engine which covers many more complex writing systems than the ones that came before. As someone who's into languages (I earn my living with them), this stuff makes me giddy - even if these complex writing systems are beyond my comfort zone. Props to Microsoft for investing in this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Feb 2015 00:02 UTC
General Development

Hollywood 6.0 has been released. Since I'm not so sure most of you know what it is, here's the official description.

Hollywood is a multimedia-oriented programming language that can be used to create graphical applications very easily. It was designed with the paradigm to make software creation as easy as possible in mind. Thus, Hollywood is suited for beginners and advanced users alike. Hollywood comes with an extensive function library (encompassing almost 700 different commands) that simplifies the creation of 2D games, presentations, and applications, to a great extent. It has been in development since 2002 and hence is today a very mature and stable software package.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 21st Feb 2015 00:19 UTC
Apple

As mentioned earlier, I bought an iBook G3 so I could play around with Mac OS 9 some more - one of my favourite operating systems. This time around, I'm also taking a look at HyperCard, something I never experienced but am quite interested in. Since I know many of you grew up with Apple machines and possibly HyperCard, I was wondering if any of you have any recommendations for fun, interesting, or otherwise fascinating HyperCard stacks.

I can see the potential all over HyperCard from the mere demos alone - and now I want to see what smart people could do with it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 21st Feb 2015 00:13 UTC
In the News

When Teddy Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument, in 1908, he famously said: "Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it." In that sense, the Escalade is a thumb in TR's eye. Covering hundreds of acres on Navajo Reservation land, it is arguably the most intrusive development ever proposed for the Grand Canyon - a $500 million to $1.1 billion recreation and transport facility featuring a 1.4-mile tramway equipped with eight-passenger gondolas that would carry as many as 10,000 people a day down to the river confluence, with new roads, hotels, gift shops, restaurants and other attractions. The developer - Confluence Partners LLC, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based investment group whose members' ventures include real estate, resorts and theme parks - says construction of the Escalade could begin as early as this year.

I've been to the Grand Canyon. It is one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring, unforgettable, and, well, grand pieces of nature our planet has to offer. My friends and I stood on one of the edges, at six in the morning, off-season in late October, without any other people around, and we slowly watched the sun rise over the Canyon, slowly lighting afire the reddish rocks as the shadows of night made way for the Arizona sun.

It's not something you can describe in words or capture in a photograph. It's something you have to experience. Something emotional, and, I'm sure, for some people, something spiritual.

This project should not continue. Ever. The Grand Canyon must not turn into the horrid Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Feb 2015 23:54 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The Dell XPS 13 ends up being responsive, small, light, and well built. Dell has crafted what I am sure most people were hoping for when the original Ultrabook specification was announced. On top of that, they have designed a laptop with class-leading battery life, and plenty of choice to let people buy as little or as much as they need. Considering the competition, this is clearly the Ultrabook of the Broadwell-U generation to beat, and from what we saw at CES it may very well go unchallenged for the remainder of the year.

This is the kind of stuff Dell should restrict itself to. Looks like a winner - that battery life is exceptionally amazing.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Feb 2015 21:21 UTC
Amiga & AROS

In the last few months, Cloanto started distributing Amiga System Software - the publisher traditionally refers to it as "Workbench" instead of "AmigaOS" - on CF cards, Floppy Disks and as a downloadable Workbench Disk Image Pack. Approached by Amiga-News, Cloanto's Michael Battilana confirmed that the company owns the copyrights for all works created by the Commodore/Amiga companies up to 1993.

That seems like Cloanto now owns everything - but nothing could be farther from the truth, as the article details. Pieces of Amiga-related intellectual property are currently owned by three different companies, and there are also a few things with an unclear status.

Cynically, you could rephrase the headline as 'Amiga IP ownership situation gets little less messy'.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Feb 2015 21:16 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

As promised with the new early access program, Jolla has released the latest Sailfish update for, well, early adopters. Assuming no major issues are found, this release will be pushed to all Sailfish users soon. The highlights (some screenshots):

  • New weather application with events feed integration available through store
  • Browser received a new interface
  • Colours in ambiences can be adjusted
  • Email authentication capabilities can be autodetected
  • Improved low memory handling, now swap is properly taken into account

The new browser interface is very welcome - the old one was quite cumbersome at times - so that alone makes it a worthwhile update.