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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 32 min 47 sec ago

Leaked render shows off BlackBerry Android slider keyboard

Wednesday 19th of August 2015 08:59:06 PM
Out of all the BlackBerry 'Venice' slider leaks thus far, none have really given us a full look at the keyboard on the upcoming device and that, of course, has left some folks skeptical of everything we've seen recently. Looking to end some of those doubts, @evleaks, has now posted up a follow-up to the first leaked render of the device that clearly shows off that glorious BlackBerry keyboard. Instant buy if this comes out in time for my contract renewal in October. Finally a modern Android device with a hardware keyboard.

Samsung is deflating its own hype bubble

Tuesday 18th of August 2015 11:04:30 PM
So let's do that summary again: Samsung disappointed stylus fans in Europe and wasn't upfront about it; it frustrated power users who look to the Note series to push into ever-higher specs; and it introduced a second Edge device before it could come up with a solid reason to have even one. All of this, along with the erroneous web listings, muddled the launch and anticipation for a pair of technically impressive devices that give everyone more choice and not less. At this point, I have no idea what Samsung is thinking. Not releasing the Note 5 in Europe, opting to only offer the Edge Plus, is pure insanity.

OnePlus 2 reviews

Tuesday 18th of August 2015 11:00:59 PM
What does it mean to use a flagship smartphone in 2015? It likely means that you're using a phone with a great display, fast performance, good battery life, good build quality, and a great camera. If I'm being honest, I have to say that the OnePlus 2 doesn't hit all of those marks, but it hits most of them and does so at a price that's just over half that of a comparable iPhone. It's not a flagship killer by any means - this year or next - but it's a really solid smartphone that does most everything you need it to do really well. It's easily the best deal on the market right now if you want a high-end smartphone. AndroidCentral has another review of the OnePlus 2. Looks like a great phone for the price, but with some small issues.

Google launches OnHub router

Tuesday 18th of August 2015 10:23:31 PM
While we count on Wi-Fi more than ever to be entertained, productive, and stay connected, we're streaming and sharing in new ways our old routers were never built to handle. So today, with our partner TP-LINK, we're launching OnHub, a different kind of router for a new way to Wi-Fi. Instead of headaches and spotty connections, OnHub gives you Wi-Fi that's fast, secure, and easy to use. Over the years, I've had a lot of routers, and all of them were bad products. No ifs and buts. They had connection problems, terrible user interfaces, they were ugly, and a pain to use. Once I finally had enough, I decided to splurge and get an Apple AirPort Extreme. I can assure you - it's one of the best purchases I've ever made. Great UI, zero problems, it looks nice, and it always works. This new Google product is effectively Google's AirPort Extreme, and as such, I'm pretty sure this will be a great product too. Sure, like the AirPort Extreme, it's a lot more expensive than the crappy €35 routers you can buy, but they're totally worth it. There's also quite a beefy computer in there, and I wonder if you could get to it and do cool stuff with it.

Amiga 30 and the Unkillable Machine

Monday 17th of August 2015 10:06:44 PM
The story of the Amiga family of microcomputers is akin to that of a musical band that breaks up after one incandescent, groundbreaking album: the band may be forgotten by many, but the cognoscenti can discern its impact on work produced decades later. So the Amiga 30 event held at Silicon Valley's Computer History Museum in late July was more than a commemoration of some interesting technology of the past. It was also a celebration of the Amiga's persistent influence on personal computing. The Amiga was easily 10 years ahead of its time. Too bad the good ones rarely win. This is also a good moment to repost the 8-part series on the Amiga at Ars.

Android M is 6.0 and Marshmallow

Monday 17th of August 2015 06:56:15 PM
Whether you like them straight out of the bag, roasted to a golden brown exterior with a molten center, or in fluff form, who doesn't like marshmallows? We definitely like them! Since the launch of the M Developer Preview at Google I/O in May, we've enjoyed all of your participation and feedback. Today with the final Developer Preview update, we're introducing the official Android 6.0 SDK and opening Google Play for publishing your apps that target the new API level 23 in Android Marshmallow. Think twice before flashing this third Android 6.0 developer preview - you'll need to reflash to a factory image once the final version is released.

Android M is 6.0 and Marshmellow

Monday 17th of August 2015 06:56:15 PM
Whether you like them straight out of the bag, roasted to a golden brown exterior with a molten center, or in fluff form, who doesn't like marshmallows? We definitely like them! Since the launch of the M Developer Preview at Google I/O in May, we've enjoyed all of your participation and feedback. Today with the final Developer Preview update, we're introducing the official Android 6.0 SDK and opening Google Play for publishing your apps that target the new API level 23 in Android Marshmallow. Think twice before flashing this third Android 6.0 developer preview - you'll need to reflash to a factory image once the final version is released.

On tablets

Friday 14th of August 2015 05:53:27 PM
Interesting analysis of the tablet market by Neil Cybart. A quick look at iPad and tablet shipment data would show that things have gotten bad in recent quarters. However, in reality, things are much worse than quarterly shipment data would suggest. The seasonality found in the tablet segment makes it difficult to see these long-term problems. A much better way at understanding what has been taking place is to look at the year-over-year change in shipments on a trailing 12-month (TTM) basis, highlighted in Exhibit 1. This smoothing effect highlights that the iPad and tablet have been on the decline for years and things continue to worsen with the overall tablet market hitting negative territory for the first time. All momentum has been lost. It's a pretty grim picture, but it's not surprising. After modern tablets burst onto the scene - led by the iPad - we were pummelled by hyperbole after hyperbole about the post-PC revolution and how the tablet would destroy the PC; and indeed, for a short while, the staggering sales numbers of the iPad (later overtaken by Android tablets) seemed to lend credence to these hyperboles. And then things kind of... Well, stagnated. Google has never really taken tablets seriously, and with hindsight we can now say that was probably a good idea. Apple, too, has completely ignored and squandered the potential it saw for the iPad. Little to no tablet-specific work has been done on the iPad side of iOS, and as such, the iPad has never managed to grow beyond its status as a consumption-only device. Speaking of consumption, I found this sentiment in Sybart's article quite puzzling. Many didn't see it, but tablets were quickly turning into content consumption devices where price was a leading purchase decision. "Many didn't see it"? "Turning into"? Really? I don't know about you, but since the iPad's introduction, there've been only two groups of people claiming that the iPad was not strictly a consumption device: Apple employees and Apple bloggers/reporters. Everybody else has been fully aware of the iPad's (and other tablets') main use case from day one. Lukas Mathis has written a great reply to Sybart's article, hitting the nail on the head so hard, the nail's probably saying hello to New Horizons by now: Better hardware would help, but I think it's very important to acknowledge that the thing standing in the way of productive work on the iPad is not its hardware. It's iOS. iOS is a cumbersome system for even reasonably complex productive tasks. Apple has started fixing the window management problem, but there's still the document management problem (most real-world tasks involve multiple documents from multiple sources - there's pretty much no way to organize and manage document from different applications in iOS), and the workflow problem (many real-world tasks involve putting the same document through multiple apps, which iOS is still not great at, albeit getting better). And then there's the fact that few developers are willing to invest a lot of money into productive apps on the iPad. They are expensive to create, the market is small, and Apple's handling of how apps are sold on its devices does not instill confidence. The thing that's preventing people from using the iPad productively is not the small screen, it's the operating system. All this is further made worse by how hard iPads are to deploy and manage in educational and corporate settings (compared to Windows laptops and Chromebooks). The question now is this: will Apple ripping off Windows 8's Metro environment be enough to regain the squandered potential? Do we need a larger iPad, as has been rumoured for so long now? Or do we just have to accept that no, tablets and touch just aren't going to work for anything but simple, consumption-focused computing tasks? I think I know the answer.

All Android OSs infringe Java API packages, Oracle says

Friday 14th of August 2015 05:31:20 PM
The ongoing legal saga known as the Oracle-Google copyright battle took a huge leap Wednesday when Oracle claimed the last six Android operating systems are "infringing Oracle's copyrights in the Java platform." That's according to the latest paperwork Oracle filed in the five-year-old closely watched case that so far has resulted in the determination that Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are, indeed, copyrightable. Oracle is the cesspit of the industry. What a horrible, horrible company.

NPD: Chromebooks outsell Windows laptops in B2B

Friday 14th of August 2015 05:27:36 PM
Many people have resisted the idea that Chromebooks really were growing in popularity. Now, less five years after the first commercial Chromebook, the Samsung Series 5 and Acer Chromebook went on sale, NPD, the global retail research group, is reporting that Chromebook sales in June and early July had exceeded "sales of Windows notebooks ... passing the 50 percent market share threshold." I found this hard to believe, and as it turns out, the author is being clickbaity by burying an important little fact further down in the story: this only applies to B2B channels. I changed the OSNews headline (which is usually just copied) accordingly. Still, it's evident that Chromebooks are here to stay, and are, indeed, a huge success.

VenturComm Venix/86 on MESS/MAME

Friday 14th of August 2015 05:21:41 PM
This is follow up to a previously posted challenge to virtualize VenturComm Venix/86 so that it can be run on a modern machine under an emulator. The competition was a huge success and the rest of this post is an entry by the winner - Jim Carpenter. Enjoy!

The smartphone price wars are not victimless

Friday 14th of August 2015 10:09:22 AM
From a consumer's perspective, Google's Android operating system has been an exceedingly good thing. It's the only viable competitor to have kept pace with Apple's iPhone, and in its time it has stimulated grand battles between device manufacturers - first competing on specs, and now on price. All this competition has driven smartphone development forward at a blistering pace, and we're all profiting from it now, but it has its downsides, too. Today is a fitting day to take a closer look at those. Odd article. It argues that cheaper, low-cost Android devices are hurting consumers, which I find peculiar. People have a choice. Nobody is forcing you to buy any phone - you actively choose to get something cheap, risks included. These cheaper manufacturers - from shady ones all the way to by-now proven companies like OnePlus and OPPO - provide more choice, not less. Thanks to these companies, I get to choose between sending 40-50% free money profit margins to Apple or Samsung, or get a similarly specced phone of equal quality for a fraction of the price. This is good. This is choice. I know a lot of people ascribe to the idea that you should not give people too much choice because their dainty, fragile little minds can't comprehend it, but I disagree with that vehemently. More choice in the market is always better than less choice - and if that means companies like HTC have to crumble because they can't keep up... Well, I just don't care. They'll make way for a dozen others. That's business.

Xiaomi brings Android 5.1 Lollipop to its handsets with MIUI 7

Thursday 13th of August 2015 05:00:56 PM
At an event in Beijing, Xiaomi unveiled MIUI 7, the manufacturer's latest OS. Based on Android 5.1 Lollipop, MIUI 7 brings a host of UI changes, themes, features and a whole new way to receive calls. Laugh about Xiaomi all you want, but they will bring their Android 5.1 (MIUI 7) to virtually all of its phones - only a phone form 2011 is not getting it. This is how you do it.

Apple adds Windows 10 support to Boot Camp

Thursday 13th of August 2015 04:21:11 PM
Apple updated its Boot Camp software to include support for Windows 10. In other words, you can now officially run Windows 10 on your Mac - assuming you have a Mac from 2012 or later (roughly - don't pin me down on this one).

'Why Windows 10 sucks'

Thursday 13th of August 2015 01:20:38 PM
This article was not created to say that Linux is better (it's definitely not). It was created to stop Microsoft fans roaring in regard to Windows 10 and how it's better than Windows 7 in every regard - it's actually worse in most regards aside from DirectX 12 (which is actually hidden from the user and it's only exposed in games). Some points are more reasonable than others, but they all have at least a decent grain of truth to them. Sometimes, I don't want carefully crafted, PR-whispered, politically correct reviews that you can interpret either way. Sometimes, you just want a sucker punch.

LG's premium phones to get a Hi-Fi music service

Thursday 13th of August 2015 10:08:11 AM
LG is launching a new Hi-Fi music service later this month, but the company's not touting it as an Apple Music or a Spotify rival. After all, it will only be accessible through certain devices, particularly its premium phones, which likely includes the LG G4 and its predecessors, the G3 and the G2. The service will be available in 70 countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, Brazil, Russia, China and Italy. For the life of me, I cannot understand why companies like LG, who aren't exactly raking in massive profits from their smartphone sales, are wasting precious time and money on pointless nonsense like this. Nobody is going to use this, nobody is going to care, and within less than a few years, it will be shutdown. What's the point?

Lenovo used firmware to install persistent crapware

Wednesday 12th of August 2015 10:54:49 PM
Windows 8 and Windows 10 contain a surprising feature that many users will find unwelcome: PC OEMs can embed a Windows executable in their system firmware. Windows 8 and 10 will then extract this executable during boot time and run it automatically. In this way, the OEM can inject software onto a Windows machine even if the operating system was cleanly installed. The good news is that most OEMs fortunately do not seem to take advantage of this feature. The bad news is that "most" is not "all." Between October 2014 and April of this year, Lenovo used this feature to preinstall software onto certain Lenovo desktop and laptop systems, calling the feature the "Lenovo Service Engine." Microsoft provides more detailed on what, exactly, this functionality, dubbed the Windows Platform Binary Table, is supposed to be for (.docx file!), and how it works. From reading the document, it becomes clear that installing tracking software - which is what Lenovo is using this for - is not exactly what Microsoft had in mind. The Windows PC world is such a mess.

Oracle: stop checking our code for vulnerabilities

Wednesday 12th of August 2015 07:00:54 PM
Oracle's chief security officer is tired of customers performing their own security tests on Oracle software, and she's not going to take it anymore. That was the message of a post she made to her corporate blog on August 10 - a post that has since been taken down. Strangely satisfying to watch this trainwreck unfold. Perhaps because the trainwreck in question is one of the most despicable companies in tech?

PC companies should copy one of Apple's best features

Wednesday 12th of August 2015 03:40:12 AM
Fiddling with installation media for operating systems is annoying and cumbersome - and sometimes it's even impossible to create said installation media to begin with. And Apple's solution to this conundrum is very neat: even with a blank hard disk, the system firmware can connect to Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet, go online, and download the operating system directly from Apple. You can do a bare metal restore with nothing more than an Internet connection. This is just one of those little things that Apple can do relatively easily due to the integration between its hardware and software. Things like this take forever to get done properly on the PC side of things - although on the Linux side of things I used to download the minimal installation ISO and just download the rest of the operating system at install time through FTP or whatever. In true Linux fashion, this was a manual process. I would love for all this to be automated, as well as for the installation medium - even the minimal one that only boots the installer and connects to FTP - to be eliminated. Apple has done it, and so can the rest of the PC world.

Microsoft's Android-on-Windows project leaks

Tuesday 11th of August 2015 11:12:09 PM
Ever since Microsoft announced their Bridge technologies at Build 2015 questions about how they work (and how well) have been asked. The tools let developers port over Android apps (Project Astoria), iOS apps (Project Islandwood), web apps (Project Westminster) and classic Win32 apps (Project Centennial) to Windows 10 including phone. This morning, the actual tools for Project Astoria have leaked onto the web and users can freely (and illegally) download Android APKs and sideload them to their Windows Phone running Windows 10 Mobile. This follows yesterday's leak of the documentation for the project. Project Astoria is fascinating. If you look at the leaked documenation, you'll see Microsoft is running (parts of) the Android subsystem and Linux kernel in kernel mode. This should be nice for performance, but at the same time, it doesn't seem like something that'll be good from a security standpoint. The leaked documentation also explains that in Project Astoria, all activities belong to a back stack within a single task. In regular Android, activities can belong to different tasks, with their own back stacks. If I'm reading this right (and please, do correct me if I'm wrong - this isn't exactly my expertise), this should simplify the back button behaviour - and is probably a consequence of Project Astoria only being able to run one process at a time. Another fun part of Astoria: there's a WebKit rendering engine in there. Yes, Windows 10 Mobile will have a WebKit rendering engine. Fascinating.

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