posted 24 days ago on OSNews
Panasonic is opting for Firefox OS. Samsung is going for Tizen. LG is bunkering down with web OS. Sharp is going with Android TV, and Philips has stated all of its TVs will use Android TV. A few questions. One, do we actually want this? Two, where is Microsoft in all this (oh right they dropped the ball)? And three, do we actually want this?

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
In 2014, many of you - millions, in fact - helped make Chromecast one of the most popular streaming media devices globally. It's been exciting to bring Chromecast from one country to now 27 countries, with more to come in 2015. Chromecast usage per device has increased by 60% since launch due to the growing roster of new apps and features. And today, we're announcing Google Cast for audio, which embeds the same technology behind Chromecast into speakers, sound bars, and A/V receivers. Just like Chromecast, simply tap the cast button in your favorite music or radio app on Android, iOS, or the web, and select a Google Cast Ready speaker to get the party started. So, at this point I'm the only one who just uses DLNA to play music and video stored on his workstation from my sound system/TV, right?

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
As Slashdot notes: Earlier last year WhatsApp announced partnership with Open WhisperSystems to integrate the ratcheting forward secrecy protocol found in their app called TextSecure, into WhatsApp. The protocol is supposed to provide end-to-end encryption between WhatsApp clients. So far it has been implemented only in WhatsApp on Android, with the rest of platforms yet to come. The implementation however has already made it into unofficial WhatsApp libraries which allow developers to use WhatsApp service in their applications, starting with a python-library called yowsup, and the rest will follow. It's worth mentioning that none of those libraries are supported nor approved by WhatsApp, so one has to wonder if WhatsApp is going to take some legal action (again) against them. I would strongly advise against using any non-WhatsApp approved clients. Users of the unofficial WhatsApp client for Sailfish, Mitakuuluu, got banned from WhatsApp for using an unofficial client, after which Mitakuuluu's developer ceased development. Know what you're getting into!

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
As part of the CES cavalcade of announcements, after launching Core-M back in September, Intel is formally releasing their next element of the 14 nanometer story: Broadwell-U. As the iterative naming over Haswell-U suggests, Broadwell-U will focus on dual-core 15W and 28W units from Celeron to Core i7 using 12 to 48 ­execution units for the integrated graphics. A Broadwell-U processor should drop into any existing Haswell-U equivalent design (i3 to i3) due to pin and architecture compatibility, albeit with a firmware update. As with any node change, the reduction to 14nm affords the usual benefits: more transistors per unit area, lower power consumption for a given design, or the potential to increase performance. Ryan covered the details of Intel's 14nm architecture back as part of the IDF launch, as well as a good deal of the Broadwell architecture itself. The launch today is in essence a specification list with a few extra details, along with potential release dates for Broadwell-U products. The CPUs are already shipping to partners for their designs. Like the previous item about NVIDIA, yet another excellent AnandTech first look at new processor technology - this time from Intel.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
Now in 2015 and with the launch of the Tegra X1, we can finally begin putting the picture together. Erista as it turns out is something of a rapid release product for NVIDIA; what had been plans to produce a 16nm FF part in 2015 became plans to produce a 20nm part, with Erista to be that part. To pull together Erista NVIDIA would go for a quick time-to-market approach in SoC design, pairing up a Maxwell GPU with ARM Cortex A57 & A53 GPUs, to be produced on TSMC's 20nm SoC process.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
Apple's hardware today is amazing - it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I'm deeply concerned for its future. I'm typing this on a computer whose existence I didn't even think would be possible yet, but it runs an OS riddled with embarrassing bugs and fundamental regressions. Just a few years ago, we would have relentlessly made fun of Windows users for these same bugs on their inferior OS, but we can't talk anymore. Apple has completely lost the functional high ground. "It just works" was never completely true, but I don't think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer. We now need to treat Apple's OS and application releases with the same extreme skepticism and trepidation that conservative Windows IT departments employ. It took them a little longer than the rest of us, but even Apple bloggers are starting to see the obvious.

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posted 25 days ago on OSNews
Fast-growing Chinese tech firm Xiaomi Technology Ltd Co booked 74.3 billion yuan ($11.97 billion) in pre-tax sales last year, up 135 percent from 2013, the firm's chief executive Lei Jun said on his official microblog account on Sunday. [...] Xiaomi sold a total of just over 61 million phones in 2014, up 227 percent from a year earlier, Lei added in a post on his Sina Weibo microblog account. The post did not give a related profit figure, although a filing last month showed that the firm was grappling with razor thin margins as it rapidly expands. A part of the business made around 347.5 million yuan net profit last year on revenue of 26.6 billion yuan and an operating margin of just 1.8 percent. Shamelessness sells.

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posted 25 days ago on OSNews
I was born in 1973 in Czechoslovakia. It was a small country in the middle of Europe, unfortunately on the dark side of the Iron Curtain. We had never been a part of Soviet Union (as many think), but we were so-called "Soviet Satellite", side by side with Poland, Hungary, and East Germany. My hobbies were electronics and - in the middle of 80s - computers. The history of computers behind the Iron Curtain is very interesting, with a lot of unusual moments. For example - communists at first called cybernetics as "bourgeois' pseudoscience" (as well as sociology or semiotics), "used to enslave a mankind by machines". But later on they understood the importance of computers, primarily for science and army. So in 50s the Eastern Bloc started to build its own computers, separately and "in its own way". Absolutely, positively, fascinating. History is written by the winners, so I'm very happy we're still getting the other side of the story, too.

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posted 25 days ago on OSNews
Given that the ME sits in a position where it can configure the chipset and operate on the PCI bus, there are some serious security implications here I wish I could mitigate. Among them is the ability of the ME to run arbitrary code on the host CPU via option ROMs or presenting a disk-drive to boot from. Also among those abilities is the possibility to perform DMA to access host CPU memory. And another one is the ability to configure and use PCI devices present in the system (such as the ethernet card). As a consumer, I didn't ask for these features. It'd be great to turn them all off. A hardware switch even. And BIOS settings do have a way to "Disable" the ME. But is it truly disabled? It will still run some code at startup I assume. And given that the Intel ME's security model requires that the host CPU is less privileged than the Intel ME, how can the host CPU really turn it off? One example of how the ME is more privileged is the ability to walk around VT-d configuration when performing memory access, which is possibly something required to make PAVP secure. Baseband processors, FireWire, Apple's Thunderbolt, IME - you may think your operating system is secure, and even if that were true (it isn't), there's still dozens of little pieces of firmware in every machine you own - from your smartwatch to your car - which are closed off, impenetrable black boxes of crappy, insecure code. As for who or what 'Rosyna' is - I think she or he is a person the author knows. Took me a little while to figure that one out (I thought it was a computer program at first). Not really relevant to the story at hand, but I figured I'd save you the confusion.

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posted 27 days ago on OSNews
From Apple's financial followers to the culture pages, expect few technology topics to garner as much attention in 2015 as the Apple Watch, which is set to launch "early" in the year. Why? Because it's not just a new gadget. Several people, companies, and entire industries are counting on it to be a hit. Without hyperbole, the Apple Watch has the potential to create new billionaires and to change the way people live. The Apple Watch will sell well, surely. However, this article is definitely not without hyperbole. It will not create new billionaires (well, maybe some Apple employees). It will not "change the way people live". I'm not a fan of making predictions, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Apple Watch - and the entire smartwatch market - is not going to be all that the technology press wants it to be. My Moto 360 is already in a drawer.

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posted 27 days ago on OSNews
Fresh off the news that it's acquired the Palm brand,

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posted 27 days ago on OSNews
David Wood, one of the founder executives of Symbian - and the one who saw it through to the bitter end - has written a book. A very big book. Smartphones and beyond: Lessons from the remarkable rise and fall of Symbian tells the entire story from Symbian's conception, to world domination, to its rapid demise, and it must be one of the most candid and revealing books a technology executive has ever written. The Register's Andrew Orlowski has published a review.

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posted 28 days ago on OSNews
This is an annotated version of my 31C3 talk on Thunderstrike, a significant firmware vulnerability in Apple's EFI firmware that allows untrusted code to be written to the boot ROM and can resist attempts to remove it. Very detailed write-up on this remarkable vulnerability.

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posted 29 days ago on OSNews
While Android continued to gain market share in the global smartphone market, it saw a significant drop on another key metric: Profits. Analyst Chetan Sharma estimates that global profits in the Android hardware market for 2014 were down by half from the prior year - the first year that there has been any significant drop. Google doesn't care, because this is exactly what Google wants. Google wants its services to be everywhere, and Android is the means. Smartphones need to be ubiquitous, and thanks to Android, they now pretty much are. Mission accomplished.

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posted 29 days ago on OSNews
We've been wondering for a while what is up with Palm.com domain, and it's looking more and more certain that HP sold the brand and trademarks to Alcatel Onetouch. Looks like they're going to put the Palm name on cheap-ass Android crap. Like wiping your ass with the Mona Lisa.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
After raising $1.1 billion in new capital, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has been valued at $46 billion. This means it's worth more in the eyes of investors than even over-performing Uber (currently valued at $41 billion) and is now the most valuable venture-backed tech startup in the world. That's not only testament to the company's growth - sales are up by 300 percent year on year - but it even managed to produce a small profit of $56 million last year. Dedicated apps have kept customers loyal (and offered alternatives to Google services blocked in China) while its online-only sales approach has created hype and saved money on stores. There's just one element of Xiaomi's business that will never be acknowledged: its debt to Apple. While accusations of Samsung "stealing" from Apple were (mostly!) stupid people falling for aggressive Apple PR, Xiaomi is just absolutely, 100% shameless in its almost one-to-one copying of Apple products. If this company keeps growing and keeps pushing towards the west, they're going to clash with Apple at some point - and the creepy nationalist, anti-east undertones that bubbled to the surface during the Apple/Samsung court cases will turn into all-out racism when this Chinese company inevitably gets sued.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Spartan is still going to use Microsoft's Chakra JavaScript engine and Microsoft's Trident rendering engine (not WebKit), sources say. As Neowin's Brad Sams reported back in September, the coming browser will look and feel more like Chrome and Firefox and will support extensions. Sams also reported on December 29 that Microsoft has two different versions of Trident in the works, which also seemingly supports the claim that the company has two different Trident-based browsers. However, if my sources are right, Spartan is not IE 12. Instead, Spartan is a new, light-weight browser Microsoft is building. Windows 10 (at least the desktop version) will ship with both Spartan and IE 11, my sources say. IE 11 will be there for backward-compatibility's sake. Spartan will be available for both desktop and mobile (phone/tablet) versions of Windows 10, sources say. I'm guessing not having to worry about supporting websites built for older versions of IE will make development a lot easier, and the change in name is a huge PR bonus.Shipping two browsers on Windows 10 seems a bit... Well, I don't know, convoluted. Hopefully we'll be able to kick IE right off our computers.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Dreamlayers ported DOSBOX via Emscripten into a browser-functional emulator. He did it all by himself, and he did it very well, all things considered. His name for it is em-dosbox. I'm just going to lay it out and say that Dreamlayers is a software engineering genius, one of those people with a gift for coding and making things work not just better, but understanding what things have to be left tied down and waiting for later improvements. Most of his em-dosbox notes are where Emscripten falls down as a compiling and conversion platform, with indications of how they can be improved. And buried in the code of his is an alien artifact that makes the generated javascript from the process run extremely fast.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
A summary of some problems I faced when tinkering with Quake to get it play nicely on an oscilloscope. Exactly what it says on the tin. Quite amazing.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
I found this one via HackerNews - a 2003 article on what Linux needs for "world domination", written by Hugh Fisher. If Linux is to achieve world domination, it must have One Frickin' User Interface (1FUI): a single user experience / interface behaviour and a single underlying UI toolkit API / widget set. World domination means putting Linux into corporations, schools, PDAs, and cell phones. This will only happen with 1FUI, and if this upsets the nerds, too bad. History clearly shows that if a platform/system offers a choice of user interfaces, the potential users will choose a different system. It's almost 2015 now, and it turns out he was right. That "1FUI" is called whatever Android has, and it has made Linux the dominant player in the next big computer revolution. Linux does great in servers, embedded stuff, supercomputing, and utterly owns mobile computing (Apple people, the world is bigger than the US, UK, and Australia). Linux didn't need a 'year of desktop Linux' after all.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Firefox OS is coming to Japan and doing it in style. Announced at a KDDI press event in Tokyo today, the Fx0 is a striking 4.7-inch smartphone with a transparent shell and a home button decorated with the golden Firefox logo embracing the Earth. It runs the latest version of Mozilla's web-centric mobile OS and was designed by noted Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka, whose previous collaboration with KDDI produced a phone worthy of making it into the Museum of Modern Art's collection. With the Fx0, Yoshioka has worked around the familiar outlines of LG's G3 design (LG is the silent partner producing the device) and adapted them to a smaller size while producing a delightful aesthetic in the process. Like a watch with a window showing its internal mechanism, this phone's exposed electronics are a subtle reminder of its technical sophistication - plus, that Firefox home button is just plain cool. It's different, surely, but.... No. Just no.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
When discussing self-driving cars, people tend to ask a lot of superficial questions: how much will these cars cost? Is this supposed to replace my car at home? Is this supposed to replace taxis or Uber? What if I need to use a drive-thru? They ignore the smarter questions. They ignore the fact that 45% of disabled people in the US still work. They ignore the fact that 95% of a car's lifetime is spent parked. They ignore how this technology could transform the lives of the elderly, or eradicate the need for parking lots or garages or gas stations. They dismiss the entire concept because they don't think a computer could ever be as good at merging on the freeway as they are. They ignore the great, big, beautiful picture staring them right in the face: that this technology could make our lives so much better. Self-driving cars will be the biggest technological breakthrough since the advent of the computer. Beyond 'just' revolutionising personal transportation, it will completely and utterly change the commercial/freight transportation industry. All of us will benefit from this technology. I cannot wait.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
In 1970, MOS memory chips were just becoming popular, but were still very expensive. Intel had released their first product the previous year, the 3101 RAM chip with 64 bits of storage.[1] For this chip (with enough storage to hold the word "aardvark") you'd pay $99.50. To avoid these astronomical prices, some computers used the cheaper alternative of shift register memory. Intel's 1405 shift register provided 512 bits of storage - 8 times as much as their RAM chip - at a significantly lower price. In a shift register memory, the bits go around and around in a circle, with one bit available at each step. The big disadvantage is that you need to wait for the bit you want to come around, which can take half a millisecond. Great article.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
It's been almost a year since John Chen was appointed to save Blackberry and it's clear that his grand plan has, at least, stopped the company losing money hand over fist. In the Canadian outfit's latest three month report, it reveals that losses have been trimmed from $4.4 billion last year to a much more manageable $148 million. Of course, it's clear that as the business reinvents itself as a software-and-services company, manufacturing smartphones has increasingly become a side project. Pretty amazing turnaround financially, but I doubt it'll be enough for the future of Blackberry OS - even if the company itself survives. I still want the red Passport, though.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Ever since rumors started swirling that Apple was working on a wearable device, I've often thought about what such a device would mean for people with disabilities. My curiosity is so high, in fact, that I've even written about the possibilities. Make no mistake, for users with disabilities such as myself, a wearable like the Apple Watch brings with it usage and design paradigms that, I think, are of even greater impact than what the iPhone in one's pocket has to offer. Suffice it to say, I'm very excited for Apple Watch's debut sometime next year. Accessibility is definitely a strong point for Apple - at least compared to the competition - and I don't think the Apple Watch will be any different.

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