David Adams Archive

Self-driving Cars: User Interface Will Be The Key To Success

Volvo recently conducted a survey and asked consumers about their perceptions of self-driving cars. The question that stood out to me was whether a car company like Volvo or a technology company (Google, unnamed) was best positioned to bring safe self-driving cars to the market. Volvo was obviously fishing for a particular answer, and while they certainly have a vaunted reputation for technical innovation in the service of safety, I'm afraid I can't go along with the answer they're hoping for, partially because safety is only part of the story. In my opinion, no car company working alone is going to be able to produce a self-driving car with the kind of usability that consumers will expect. And for self-driving cars, usability is just as important as safety. In fact, they're inseparable.

Open Source Laptop

Andrew “bunnie” Huang & Sean Cross tell, in great detail, how they created the Novena laptop, using solely open source software and hardware. For anyone familiar with or even interested in how computers really work, it's quite a gripping tale. I believe their work could have lasting beneficial effects on the hobbyist computing and open source communities. Even though it's published in a trade journal for professional electrical engineers, the article is accessible, even rudimentary at times. They faced some considerable obstacles, such as a lack of driver support for their GPU. Fortunately, "the user community behind Novena is trying to create, through reverse engineering, open-source drivers that would allow the built-in GPU on the i.MX6 chip to render graphics directly." Most interesting feature: "a field-programmable gate array (FPGA), a type of processor chip that can be reconfigured by its user to change the chip’s specs and capabilities. Basically, this reconfigurability allows the chip to do things in hardware that would otherwise have to be done in software." Also, two ethernet ports.

Plasma Phone OS, a KDE project for mobile

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.

If phones were designed to please their owners

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.

US exhausts IPv4 addresses

Ars Says, "Remember how, a decade ago, we told you that the Internet was running out of IPv4 addresses? Well, it took a while, but that day is here now: Asia, Europe, and Latin America have been parceling out scraps for a year or more, and now the ARIN wait list is here for the US, Canada, and numerous North Atlantic and Caribbean islands. Only organizations in Africa can still get IPv4 addresses as needed. The good news is that IPv6 seems to be picking up the slack."

Harvey OS, Bringing Plan9 to the Earth

Harvey is an effort to get the Plan 9 code working with gcc and clang. According to the team: "Our aim is to provide a modern, distributed, 64 bit operating system that does away with Unix's wrinkles and allows for new ways of working. At this point we have an AMD 64 bit kernel with many changes and improvements. For example, a new modern, simplified syscall system. We use gdb to investigate problems and we can compile in Linux or OSX using Harvey's headers and libs; no need to change anything else. It's fast compiling the whole system and boots quickly. Though we are working in many other features, all Plan 9 traditional userland is available. At this moment, we are working to move console and mouse out of kernel, ttyfs file server in user space, and improved ANSI/POSIX environment where gcc or clang can live, and we plan to add X11 with rio-like multiplexing, bash and other shells and many other well known things that people want in their machines. We are focusing in server set up for now, but keeping in mind end-user. All of this, of course, keeping classic and beautiful distributed features of old Plan 9."

“Telly Off:” Android TV vs Firefox TV

The battle for Smart TV dominance continues to ratchet up, with Google and Firefox now both wading into the same connected space. The former has reignited its living room ambitions via Android TV, while open source rival Firefox has partnered with Panasonic. You might reasonably expect both to be cut from much the same cloth, but having lived with new tellies from each camp, I can reveal there’s a world of difference. One is lithe, intuitive and fun to use. The other isn’t.

Hacking Team Android App Could Bypass Google Play Code Review

"Security researchers at Trend Micro's Trend Labs have uncovered a trick in a sample of a fake news application for Android created by the network exploitation tool provider Hacking Team that may have allowed the company's customers to sneak spyware through the Google Play store's code review. While the application in question may have only been downloaded fewer than 50 times from Google Play, the technique may have been used in other Android apps developed for Hacking Team customers--and may now be copied by others trying to get malware onto Android devices." OSNews readers would have never fallen for this ruse, since the name of the app was BeNews. Once we noticed there was nothing about BeOS in these, we discern its nefarious intent.

Windows 10 Downgrade Options

For one year, Microsoft is allowing consumers and some businesses with systems running Genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 a free upgrade to Windows 10. But when we asked: Once you upgrade for free to Windows 10, is it possible to downgrade back to Windows 8 or 7 without having to buy a new OS license? Microsoft said those who upgrade to Windows 10 for free will have one month to revert back to the old OS on their device.

Interview With Former Mozilla Exec Behind H5OS

A Hong Kong-based startup run by former Mozilla President Li Gong aims to take on Android with its new Web-based operating system, H5OS. Similar to the Firefox operating system from Mozilla, H50S is based on HTML5, a website development language that tries to give Web apps the same capabilities as so-called native applications that are downloaded to a device like the iPhone. More on H5OS here.

More Microsoft Apps Are Coming to Android and iPhone

After cutting 7,800 staff and taking a $7.6bn loss on its Windows Phone division, Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella intends to ramp up the company’s invasion of iPhone and Android with its apps and services. While the write-down has been seen as effectively neutering the remainder of the smartphone business Microsoft bought from Nokia in 2012, Nadella insists that his company is not exiting the smartphone market.

Commodore PET Returns: as a Phone

If the name "Commodore" conjures up images of clicking keyboards, beige boxes, and blinking command lines rather than buttery smooth ballads, this one's for you. Yes, that mainstay of '80s home computing is back, this time as a mobile phone. The Commodore PET--which shares its name with the iconic all-in-one computer released in 1977--might not run Commodore BASIC, but it does feature a customised version of Android 5.0 Lollipop, a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS display, and a pair of emulators for running old Commodore software. Update: It's not quite as stylish as the Macintosh phone.

Windows 10: Microsoft is Doing it for the Fans

Microsoft will be holding Windows 10 launch events for "people who played a role in developing Windows 10, at special events in 13 cities around the world. The celebrations will feature experiential demos, hands-on training and even entertainment. Microsoft has also partnered with retailers, including Best Buy, Staples, and Walmart, to roll out easy upgrade programs. And Tech Bench services will offer support and data Relevant Products/Services migration services to consumers who are upgrading. Some Microsoft Stores, meanwhile, will offer prizes on July 29, along with free in-store workshops."

Why Linux Is More Practical Than OS X

How can we pass up a title like that? The article takes an interesting approach on practicality. Linux's pros: it runs on so many kinds of hardware, installing software is easy, variety of file managers and desktop environments. The Mac is popular because is has "strong software titles" and good support. The kicker: "If Linux distributions had the same level of consumer tech support available that Windows and OS X does, we'd see adoption number exploding." To be blunt, I find this essay unpersuasive. However, if you look at the examples where Linux has been successful in the market, such as embedded systems like set-top boxes and heavily customized OS variants with their own software ecosystem like Android, it's precisely Linux's esoteric strengths that made those platforms' developers choose it. And what did those platforms have that made them successful? Strong software running on top of the OS along with a worry-free onboarding and maintenance process, usually with professional support for end-users. What do you know?

How To Install VirtualBox 5.0 In Ubuntu/Linux Mint Or Other Derivatives

Most of us know what virtual machines are but for those don't know, virtual machines are the kind of software that allow users to run other operating system within current operating system. It's the favorite for everyone to taste other operating systems without going away from main operating system. In this article I'll show you how to installPicture VM VirtualBox 5.0 in Ubuntu 15.04/14.10/Linux mint Rafaela or other derivatives. Read more