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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 hour 59 min ago

BlackBerry Leap review

Tuesday 21st of April 2015 10:40:48 PM
At the end of the day, BlackBerry needed to make this device happen, even if fans are screaming from the rooftops that they want a high-end all-touch device. Despite whether or not you personally decide to pick one up, the BlackBerry Leap is a pretty solid and very capable device that comes at a reasonable price, it just so happens that BlackBerry had to make a few compromises to make it all come together. I get the Passport (still want one!), I get the Classic. I do not, however, get a generic BlackBerry phones that looks like any other default Android device - but with an operating system nobody (except people like me) is asking for.

Sony's Xperia Z4 is the flagship nobody asked for

Tuesday 21st of April 2015 10:37:09 PM
Let's talk about the Sony Xperia Z4. The Japanese electronics giant announced the latest in its line of premium Z-series smartphones recently for its home market. And it's fair to say the popular reaction to the device has fallen somewhere between bewilderment and outright derision. Consumers and critics alike seem confused as to why this phone exists, questioning the priorities Sony's taken with what appears to be its early-2015 flagship. With questionable hardware priorities and no word of any global launch, it's a bizarre turn for Sony, coming as the company looks to restructure and streamline its smartphone offerings and focus primarily on the high end of the market. The Xperia Z4 can boast only a couple of meaningful improvements over its six-month-old predecessor, and in one or two important areas it may actually be a regression from the Z3. Now that the Nexus 5 is being phased out without replacement (could you get on that, Google?), and the Nexus 6 is ugly and huge, I consider the Z3 and Z3 Compact to be the phones to get if you want Android. They're only six months old, modern in every respect, look great, have minimal software customisations, better battery life than the competition, and thanks to Sony's progressive open source efforts, great third party ROM support (mostly). Hence, it's sad to see that, in the pursuit of thinness, the Z4 actually has a smaller battery, and possibly, shorter battery life.

From Metro to Microsoft Design Language 2

Tuesday 21st of April 2015 06:41:40 PM
When Microsoft releases Windows 10 later this year, it will come with a new design language which has slowly been uncovered with the latest builds of Windows 10 for phones. One member of the Windows community has put together a massive guide that shows the transitions from Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 to both Windows 10 and Windows 10 for phones. While the appearance is still decidedly Metro, it all feels a lot more dark Material Design-ish.

John Oliver: patents

Tuesday 21st of April 2015 06:36:31 PM
For inventors, patents are an essential protection against theft. But when patent trolls abuse the system by stockpiling patents and threatening lawsuits, businesses are forced to shell out tons of money. I honestly did not expect John Oliver to touch this subject.

iOS 8.3 and desktop file managers

Monday 20th of April 2015 11:25:25 PM
I missed this when reports first came out last week: with iOS 8.3, file managers such as iMazing and iExplorer can no longer access the document libraries of iOS apps over a USB connection. Stop hitting yourself and start using a platform that actually fits your needs.

AMD reveals Windows 10 will launch in late July

Monday 20th of April 2015 10:09:20 PM
Microsoft's launch of Windows 10 will likely take place in late July, according to AMD. During AMD's latest earnings call last week, president and CEO Lisa Su revealed the launch timing for Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. Answering a question on inventory plans, Su said, "With the Windows 10 launch at the end of July, we are watching sort of the impact of that on the back-to-school season, and expect that it might have a bit of a delay to the normal back-to-school season inventory build-up." That seems awfully early considering the stories you hear on Twitter about Windows 10's current state.

Websites can now push notifications to Android devices

Monday 20th of April 2015 10:07:28 PM
Chrome 42 addresses this dilemma by allowing users to engage more deeply with the mobile web experiences that are important to them, by both opting in to receive push notifications directly from websites and easily adding regularly-visited high-quality sites to their home screen. Push notifications from websites to Android devices. I'm sure nothing will go wrong with this one.

Android Wear gets big update today

Monday 20th of April 2015 02:16:32 PM
Android Wear is getting a new update today that's easily its biggest yet. Google's introducing several new features that change how we use our watches, from Wi-Fi support to hand gestures and hand-drawn emoji. Individually, these changes are small, but collectively, they promise to make even year-old hardware seem new. They also ensure that Android Wear keeps up (and in some cases surpasses) the Apple Watch from a pure features perspective. That could become important down the line should Google’s plans to release Android Wear for the iPhone come to fruition. I kind of like the wrist-flick gestures, but the rest seems more fluff that only makes Wear more complicated (and thus, more like the Apple Watch), instead of the opposite.

The Sortix operating system

Monday 20th of April 2015 10:30:15 AM
Sortix is a small self-hosting Unix-like operating system developed since 2011 aiming to be a clean and modern POSIX implementation. There's a lot of technical debt that needs to be paid, but it's getting better. Traditional design mistakes are avoided or aggressively deprecated by updating the base system and ports as needed. The Sortix kernel, standard libraries, and most utilities were written entirely from scratch. The system is halfway through becoming multi-user and while security vulnerabilities are recognized as bugs, it should be considered insecure at this time. Sortix 0.9 was released on December 30, 2014. It is a very considerable improvement upon Sortix 0.8 and contains significant improvements all over the base system and ports. The previous release made Sortix self-building and this release works hard towards becoming fully self-hosting and installable. Several real-life prototype self-hosting installations of Sortix exists right now, I expect the following 1.0 release to make real Sortix installations available to the general public.

Meet George: 1958's one-of-a-kind analog computer

Sunday 19th of April 2015 09:23:28 PM
The Vintage Computer Festival East is a once-a-year museum exhibit in Wall, New Jersey that shows off vacuum tube and transistor computers from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. While our own John Timmer visited the museum several years ago, we were long overdue to check back on the exhibition. VCF's newest addition made the trip well-worth it. The incredible piece of big iron you see in the first picture above arrived yesterday. It's a one-of-a-kind analog computer built for MIT, so it doesn't really have a name or model number. Built by George A. Philbrick Researches in 1958, the volunteers at the science center have just taken to calling it "George." Fascinating.

Fossdroid: open source Android applications

Sunday 19th of April 2015 09:21:36 PM
While you may have to give up some creature comforts doing so, it's relatively easy and straightforward to run an (almost - damn binary driver blobs and firmware) open source Android phone, with nothing but open source applications, through F-Droid, one of my major complaints with F-Droid is that it's about as user friendly as trying to cut down a tree with a used toothbrush. There's no popularity lists, every category is clogged up with nonsensical packages (to the average user, that is), and the presentation leaves much to be desired. Fossdroid changes that, and presents all these open source applications in a much clearer and nicer fashion. It also adds popularity and what's new lists, making it just a little easier to find the open source application you're looking for. There's still some things to be addressed, it's a well-done website.

Ex-microsoft designer explains the move away from Metro design

Saturday 18th of April 2015 05:09:09 PM
Windows Phone fans pining for the days of Metro panoramas and integrated experiences have had a tough couple of years, with Microsoft steadily removing many of the platform's user experience differentiators. But as I've argued, there's reason behind this madness. And now an ex-Microsoft design lead who actually worked on Windows Phone has gone public and agreed with this assessment. You may have loved Windows Phone and Metro, but it had to change. A different theory for Microsoft moving Windows Phone closer to Android's UI design, from former Windows Phone executive Charlie Kindel (who now works at Amazon).

GNU Hurd 0.6 released

Friday 17th of April 2015 07:32:27 PM
It has been roughly a year and a half since the last release of the GNU Hurd operating system, so it may be of interest to some readers that GNU Hurd 0.6 has been released, along with GNU Mach 1.5 (the microkernel that Hurd runs on), and GNU MIG 1.5 (the Mach Interface Generator, which generates code to handle remote procedure calls). New features include procfs and random translators, cleanups and stylistic fixes, some of which came from static analysis, message dispatching improvements; integer hashing performance improvements, a split of the init server into a startup server and an init program based on System V init, and more.

Sailfish OS 1.1.4 released for early access

Friday 17th of April 2015 07:29:30 PM
The next Sailfish OS version has been released for early access users. It's got a few very welcome changes - first and foremost, IMAP idle/push support, meaning emails will now arrive as the arrive, instead of on a schedule. There's also a new split landscape keyboard, and some gesture feedback has been added. In addition, there's a bunch of security updates, improvements to Android application support, and more. Assuming no big issues arise from the early access release, it'll be pushed to regular users.

Cyanogen will bundle Microsoft apps

Thursday 16th of April 2015 12:25:08 PM
Rumors of a Microsoft and Cyanogen partnership have been making the rounds recently, and the Android mod maker is confirming them today. In an email to The Verge, Cyanogen says it's partnering with Microsoft to integrate the software giant’s consumer apps and services into the Cyanogen OS. Bing, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Microsoft Office will all be bundled later this year. As part of the partnership, Microsoft has committed to creating "native integrations" on Cyanogen OS. "Taking Android away from Google" to give it to Microsoft. Will these people never learn? Cyanogen just signed its own death warrant with this. I knew Cyanogen would be going down the drain the moment they started courting venture capitalists.

OS X reviewed

Thursday 16th of April 2015 08:40:12 AM
Nearly 15 years ago, I wrote my first review of Mac OS X for a nascent “PC enthusiast's" website called Ars Technica. Nearly 15 years later, I wrote my last. Though Apple will presumably announce the next major version of OS X at WWDC this coming June, I won't be reviewing it for Ars Technica or any other publication, including the website you're reading now. The best software reviewer in the business calls it quits.

Europe opens antitrust investigation into Android

Wednesday 15th of April 2015 11:01:39 AM
Aside from the investigation into Google's search business, the EU is also investigating Android. The European Commission has been examining Google’s Android operating system for nearly three years, and it is now ready to launch a formal investigation into claims of unfair app bundling. Google services and apps like Maps, Chrome, and YouTube are often bundled with Android devices, and competitors have complained that it’s giving Google an unfair advantage. Regulators previously questioned telecom companies and phone manufacturers, to see whether Google forces them to bundle apps or services at the expense of competitors. I'm glad they're investigating this, if only to finally get all these secret agreements between Google and OEMs (and carriers!) out in the open. In fact, with mobile communications having become such a crucial utility in our society, I think all agreements related to the interplay between carrier, OEM, and software maker should be out in the open, ready to face public scrutiny. As consumers of this vitally important utility, we have a right to know what kind of shady stuff is going on between the T-Mobiles, Vodafones, Googles, Apples, and Samsungs of this world.

Nokia to acquire Alcatel-Lucent

Wednesday 15th of April 2015 10:46:18 AM
Nokia - the actual Nokia back in Finland, not the failing smartphone part Microsoft was forced to buy to save Windows Phone - has decided to acquire Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion. Combined, that's a lot of mobile IP in one place. The combined company will have unparalleled innovation capabilities, with Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs and Nokia's FutureWorks, as well as Nokia Technologies, which will stay as a separate entity with a clear focus on licensing and the incubation of new technologies. Another interesting tidbit: Nokia is not allowed to make smartphones for a while, but Alcatel-Lucent does make smartphones. On top of that - Alcatel-Lucent... Owns Palm.

Linux kernel 4.0 released

Wednesday 15th of April 2015 10:38:27 AM
Feature-wise, 4.0 doesn't have all that much special. Much have been made of the new kernel patching infrastructure, but realistically, that not only wasn't the reason for the version number change, we've had much bigger changes in other versions. So this is very much a "solid code progress" release. Despite the version number, not a big deal.

Europe to accuse Google of illegally abusing its dominance

Tuesday 14th of April 2015 09:32:36 PM
Google will on Wednesday be accused by Brussels of illegally abusing its dominance of the internet search market in Europe, a step that ultimately could force it to change its business model fundamentally and pay hefty fines. Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, is to say that the US group will soon be served with a formal charge sheet alleging that it breached antitrust rules by diverting traffic from rivals to favour its own services, according to two people familiar with the case. Could be a huge blow to Google - but at the pace the EU moves, this will take forever.

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