Android 13 releases today for Google Pixel smartphones

Today, Google is releasing Android 13 for Google Pixel smartphones, following months of developer previews and beta releases. It’s an update that polishes a lot of the changes that Android 12 brought to the table, while also introducing a ton of small, helpful features across the board that aims to improve privacy, security, and usability. Alongside the update, the company has also announced that Android 13’s source code is now available in AOSP.

It’ll be a while before Android 13 lands in most of our hands.

Apple finds its next big business: showing ads on your iPhone

Apple is set to expand ads to new areas of your iPhone and iPad in search of its next big revenue driver.

[…]

Let’s begin with the current state of play: Apple’s advertising efforts today consist of display ads inside of its News and Stocks apps, as well as inside the App Store, across the iPhone, iPad and Mac. The App Store also has Google-like search ads. And more recently, Apple put advertising inside of TV+ for its “Friday Night Baseball” deal with Major League Baseball.

[…]

I believe that the iPhone maker will eventually expand search ads to Maps. It also will likely add them to digital storefronts like Apple Books and Apple Podcasts. And TV+ could generate more advertising with multiple tiers (just as Netflix Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. are doing with their streaming services).

So that was the plan all along. First, Apple tried to cut a deal with Facebook – one of the two online advertising giants (Apple already gets billions a year from the other, Google) – to get in on the online ad revenue. Second, when that fell through, Apple went on a privacy crusade against Facebook (and to a lesser extent, Google) to harm its online advertising business. Third, Apple is now going to expand its own ad business by adding even more ads to iOS.

And all along the way, millions fell for it.

John Gruber, a few years ago:

My concern, again, is what happens if the drive to increase services revenue takes precedence over Apple’s “Prime Directive”: to put product design and experience above all else.

Well, now you know.

Apple asked for a cut of Facebook’s ad sales years before it stifled Facebook’s ad sales

Apple and Meta may not be the best of friends right now, but at one point, Apple was in discussions with the social media company about how it could make more money from its presence on the App Store, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Apple reportedly argued that it deserved a cut of certain portions of Facebook’s ad revenue. The specific ads in question were boosted posts, which let users pay to have their posts reach more people, the WSJ reports. Apple apparently argued boosted posts are in-app purchases, which it famously takes a portion of; Meta argued that they were ads, from which Apple doesn’t get a share. It seems that Meta won out.

So Apple was perfectly fine with profiting off Facebook’s anti-privacy business model, and only when Facebook declined did Apple go on its holier-than-thou privacy crusade against Facebook’s ads business. Apple’s privacy position is pure marketing, and any time Apple needs to choose between money and privacy, money wins every time. Whether it’s Google paying Apple billions to be the default search provider on iOS, Apple handing over all Chinese users’ data to the Chinese government, or now, in dealing with Facebook, Apple will choose money over privacy every time.

Apple repeatedly calls privacy “a fundamental human right“, but human rights should not be for sale. It’s yet another illustration of corporations being above the law – Apple is allowed to just lie left, right, and centre without any legal repercussions.

US political campaign emails can bypass Google’s spam filters under a newly approved pilot project

Federal election regulators voted Thursday to allow Google to proceed with a plan to make it easier for campaign emails to bypass spam filters.

Google’s proposal to run a pilot project changing the filters for political emails came after intense Republican criticism that spam filters were biased against conservatives, a charge the tech giant denies. In a sign of public disgust with spam, the Federal Election Commission received thousands of public comments urging it to deny the request.

But a majority of the six-member commission decided that Google’s project did not constitute an improper in-kind political contribution that would violate federal campaign finance laws.

This reminds me of Twitter admitting it won’t ban nazis because that would mean banning accounts of Republican politicians. I remember the days being biased against nazis was a good thing. Times sure do change.

The many derivatives of the CP/M operating system

But still, CP/M was, for a while, the industry-standard microcomputer OS, making Digital Research a powerful and important company. Wealthy companies that lose dominance over a market they formerly controlled don’t tend to just give up. Digital Research put a substantial R&D effort into expanding and enhancing CP/M, creating a large family of OSes. It had some significant wins and big sales. Some of those products are still in use. All those products are arguably “CP/M derivatives”, and as such, Bryan Sparks’ 2001 edict might have just open-sourced them all.

One of the many giants we lost along the way.

Review of /e/: an Android alternative for mobile phones

The /e/ OS operating system provides a user-friendly alternative to Android for people who want the Android experience without the reliance on Google and associated manufacturer-related applications and telemetry. Compared to LineageOS, /e/ provides a more unified experience out of the box, with a suitable suite of default open source applications and a system-based application store. Despite the fact that /e/ borrowed from various pre-existing open source projects to create its default applications, none looks out of place.

It’s a good choice for people looking to de-Google, but the rather lacklustre device support is a big problem, forcing you to buy a new device if you want to give this a go. That’s not really /e/’s fault, of course, but it’s an issue nonetheless.

Rumors, delays, and early testing suggest Intel’s Arc GPUs are on shaky ground

All of that makes Arc a lot more serious than Larrabee, Intel’s last effort to break into the dedicated graphics market. Larrabee was canceled late in its development because of delays and disappointing performance, and Arc GPUs are actual things that you can buy (if only in a limited way, for now). But the challenges of entering the GPU market haven’t changed since the late 2000s. Breaking into a mature market is difficult, and experience with integrated GPUs isn’t always applicable to dedicated GPUs with more complex hardware and their own pool of memory.

Regardless of the company’s plans for future architectures, Arc’s launch has been messy. And while the company is making some efforts to own those problems, a combination of performance issues, timing, and financial pressures could threaten Arc’s future.

There’s a lot of chatter that Intel might axe Arc completely, before it’s really truly out of the gate. I really hope those rumours are wrong or overblown, since the GPU market desperately needs a 3rd serious competitor. I hope Intel takes a breather, and allows the Arc team to be in it for the long haul, so that we as consumers can benefit from more choice in the near future.

Citing danger of “ink spills” Epson programs end of life for some printers

You have a perfectly healthy, functioning Epson inkjet printer in your home office. It’s served you well for years and you use it frequently. Then, one day, you go to print a document and realize that the printer isn’t working. A message on the display reads “a part inside your printer is at the end of its service life. Service is required.”

That’s funny, you think. You hadn’t noticed anything wrong with your printer before this message appeared. The device was working well and the quality of the printing was fine. If nothing was broken, why are you suddenly getting this message? More important: how do you get rid of it so that you can continue using your printer?

This should absolutely be criminal behaviour. If there was ever an industry that could do with a worldwide judicial probe and investigation, it’s the printer makers. They employ so many clearly scammy business practices, and get away with them too.

Hackable $20 modem combines LTE and Pi Zero W2 power

extrowerk tells us about a new hacker-friendly device – a $20 LTE modem stick with a quadcore CPU and WiFi, capable of running fully-featured Linux distributions. This discovery hinges on a mountain of work by a Chinese hacker [HandsomeYingYan], who’s figured out this stick runs Android, hacked its bootloader, tweaked a Linux kernel for it and created a Debian distribution for the stick – calling this the OpenStick project. [extrowerk]’s writeup translates the [HandsomeYingYan]’s tutorial for us and makes a few more useful notes. With this writeup in hand, we have unlocked a whole new SBC to use in our projects – at a surprisingly low price!

There’s so much computing power in cheap, disposable technology these days, and you can do fun things with it.

NetBSD 9.3 released

NetBSD 9.3 has made it into the wild.

Aside from many bug fixes, 9.3 includes backported improvements to suspend and resume support, various minor additions of new hardware to existing device drivers, compatibility with UDF file systems created on Windows 10, enhanced support for newer Intel Gigabit Ethernet chipsets, better support for new Intel and AMD Zen 3 chipsets, support for configuring connections to Wi-Fi networks using sysinst(8), support for wsfb-based X11 servers on the Commodore Amiga, and minor performance improvements for the Xen hypervisor.

A solid set of improvements for a point release.

The MGR Window System

MGR, sometimes said to be short for “ManaGeR”, sometimes short for “Munger”, is a simple network transparent window system. It was originally developed for the Sun 3 series of workstations by Stephen Uhler and colleagues beginning in 1984 while at Bellcore (later Telcordia, now part of Ericsson) and later enhanced by many others.

The window system ran on many different hardware platforms, at least these: Sun 3/xx workstations running SunOS, which was the the original development platform, Sun SPARCstations (SunOS and then ported by me to Solaris), Intel x86 based PCs (Coherent, Minix, FreeBSD or Linux), Atari ST (under MiNT), AT&T UnixPC (SysV) and the Macintosh.

I had never heard of MGR before, so this was a great read.

The women calling out Apple’s handling of misconduct claims

In interviews with 15 female Apple employees, both current and former, the Financial Times has found that Mohr’s frustrating experience with the People group has echoes across at least seven Apple departments spanning six US states.

The women shared allegations of Apple’s apathy in the face of misconduct claims. Eight of them say they were retaliated against, while seven found HR to be disappointing or counterproductive.

This story is based on those interviews and discussions with other employees, internal emails from Apple’s People team, four exit contracts written by lawyers for Apple, and anonymous employee reviews.

There’s some real blood-boiling stuff in here.

Emily says she felt that HR treated her like she was the problem. “I was told [the alleged rapist] went on a ‘career experience’ for six months, and they said: ‘maybe you’ll be better by the time he’s back?’”

Or this one, where a colleague undressed another colleague as she was sleeping, and snapped photos of her. Apple’s response?

“Although what he did was reprehensible as a person and potentially criminal, as an Apple employee he hasn’t violated any policy in the context of his Apple work,” HR wrote. “And because he hasn’t violated any policy we will not prevent him seeking employment opportunities that are aligned with his goals and interests.”

Apple seems like a fun work environment for women.

Here is how you can still open Internet Explorer in Windows 11 if you really, really want to

Internet Explorer was finally killed off for almost every consumer version of Windows on June 15, 2022. It’s death was even mourned celebrated with faux gravestones commemorating it as a “good tool to download other browsers”. However, it seems like Microsoft’s browser still lives on in the depths of its latest operating system.

Although Windows 11 does not officially come bundled with Internet Explorer, the ancient browser can still be launched on the OS.

This thing will never die. I will go to my grave when Windows 32 hits and it will still come with iexplore.exe because the online passport request form in some tiny municipality in Slovenia only works in IE.

The Microsoft team racing to catch bugs before they happen

As a rush of cybercriminals, state-backed hackers, and scammers continue to flood the zone with digital attacks and aggressive campaigns worldwide, it’s no surprise that the maker of the ubiquitous Windows operating system is focused on security defense. Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday update releases frequently contain fixes for critical vulnerabilities, including those that are actively being exploited by attackers out in the world.

The company already has the requisite groups to hunt for weaknesses in its code (the “red team”) and develop mitigations (the “blue team”). But recently, that format evolved again to promote more collaboration and interdisciplinary work in the hopes of catching even more mistakes and flaws before things start to spiral. Known as Microsoft Offensive Research & Security Engineering, or Morse, the department combines the red team, blue team, and so-called green team, which focuses on finding flaws or taking weaknesses the red team has found and fixing them more systemically through changes to how things are done within an organization.

Cheap jokes from the Windows XP era aside, I feel like there haven’t really been any massive security problems with Windows that we used to see in the XP days. Working for any of Microsoft’s security teams can’t be an easy job, and it’s always interesting to get an insight into how they operate.

Apple’s Virtualization framework is a great, free way to test new macOS betas

One of the coolest power-user Mac features of the Apple Silicon era is Apple’s Virtualization framework. Normally the purview of paid software like Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, virtualization lets you run multiple operating systems on one Mac at the same time, which is useful for anyone who wants to run Linux on top of macOS, test an app they’re developing in different versions of macOS, or take a look at the latest macOS Ventura beta without risking their main install.

Apple’s documentation and sample projects provide everything you need to get a simple VM up and running with no additional software required. Still, some independent developers have built simple, free apps on top of the Virtualization framework that provides a GUI for customizing settings and juggling multiple guest OSes.

A very useful feature, especially for developers.

The story behind Google’s in-house desktop Linux

If you look around Google’s Mountain View, CA offices, you’ll see Windows machines, Chromebooks, Macs — and gLinux desktops. G what, you ask? Well, in addition to  relying on Linux for its servers, Google has its very own Linux desktop distribution.

You can’t get it — darn it! — but for more than a decade, Google has been baking and eating its own homemade Linux desktop distribution. The first version was Goobuntu.

It’s not news that Google has it’s own in-house desktop Linux distribution, but this article provides some interesting insights into some of its unique aspects. The latest versions now use a rolling release model based on Debian, with a custom automated package building and testing tool on top, developed by Google.

I’d love to see it in action and have it released to the public.

Linux 5.19 released

Linus Torvalds just released Linux 5.19 as stable for the newest version of the Linux kernel. He also mentioned this is the first time he released the new Linux kernel from an ARM64 laptop in the form of an Apple MacBook running an AArch64 Apple M2 SoC.

Linux 5.19 brings many new features from initial LoongArch CPU support to continued work on bringing-up AMD Zen 4 CPUs, AMD RDNA3 enablement continuing, more work on Intel DG2/Alchemist, Intel Idle driver support for Alder Lake, initial Raptor Lake P graphics support, Zstd compressed firmware, and some nice performance improvements.

In addition, Torvalds intends to call the next release Linux 6.0, because he’s “starting to worry about getting confused by big numbers again”.

AMD passes Intel in market cap

AMD surpassed rival Intel’s market cap on Friday.

AMD stock rose over 3% for the day, giving the chipmaker a market capitalization of $153 billion. Intel fell nearly 9%, a day after disastrous earnings that missed expectations for profit and showed declining revenue. Intel’s market cap was $148 billion at the end of trading on Friday.

The shift is mostly symbolic, but it signifies a much more competitive market for PC and server chips, where the two companies compete directly.

I don’t report on financials anymore (unless it’s something truly unique), but this one I wanted to highlight simply because it highlights just how well AMD is doing. Only a few short years ago, this would’ve been unimaginable. Meaningless, sure, but a sign of the times nonetheless.