posted 3 months ago on OSNews
An eight-person jury on Friday handed back a mixed verdict in the Apple v. Samsung patent-infringement case. The jury found Samsung's gadgets infringed Apple's '647 patent, but not the '959 patent or '414 patent. Results were mixed for the '721 patent, with some Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy Nexus, found to infringe, and others not. The jury awarded Apple only $119.6 million for the infringement. Apple wanted more than $2 billion. The verdict is still being read, and the jury has also ruled that Apple infringed on one of Samsung's patents, awarding Samsung $158000 for it. So, pocket change both ways. A total waste of money, public resources, the jury members' time, and the court system. Well done you, patent system.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
So I set myself the task of picking five great works of software. The criteria were simple: How long had it been around? Did people directly interact with it every day? Did people use it to do something meaningful? I came up with the office suite Microsoft Office, the image editor Photoshop, the videogame Pac-Man, the operating system Unix, and the text editor Emacs. Each person has his or her own criteria for these sorts of things, but in my view, this list is woefully inadequate. If it were up to me, I would pick these, in no particular order: A-0 System: the first ever compiler, written by Grace Hopper in 1951 and 1952, for the UNIVAC I. UNIX: This one's a given. WorldWideWeb/CERN HTTPd: the first web browser and the first web server, both written by Tim Berners-Lee. Also a given. Xerox Star: this one is actually a tie between the Star, its research predecessor the Alto, and Douglas Engelbart's NLS. These three combined still define the way we do computing today - whether you look at a desktop, a smartphone, or a tablet. I decided to go with the Star because it was the only one of the three that was commercially available, and because it's so incredibly similar to what we still use today. Windows: you cannot have a list of the greatest software of all time without Windows. You may not like it, you may even hate it, but the impact Windows has had on the computing world - and far, far beyond that - is immense. Not including it is a huge disservice to the operating system that put a computer on every desk, in every home. This leaves a whole bunch of others out, such as Lotus 1-2-3, DOS, the Mac OS, Linux, and god knows what else - but such is the nature of lists like this.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
This is a bit of a weird topic, but I think it might be interesting to figure out what, exactly, is going on here. Ever since its very first release Chrome has had a very small, barely noticeable visual bug in its user interface: its window widgets (or buttons) are not aligned properly. As you can see in the screenshot below, they are shifted slightly to the right compared to a window without the bug. Now, this has never been too big of an annoyance to bother the developers with, so I never made a bug report out of it, and I still don't think it's important enough. Chrome has a custom titlebar compared to regular Windows windows (because of the tabs-on-top), so I figured that was the cause. Since yesterday, I've been using Firefox 29, and I noticed that it has the exact same bug: Now my interest is properly piqued. Upon closer inspection, you can see that Chrome and Firefox actually have different offsets. The below image also illustrates that in the normal situation, the right edge of the close widget lines up pixel-perfect with the content area (the red line); this is not the case for Chrome and Firefox, where the close widget and content are misaligned. These are two different applications with two entirely different codebases, and yet, they have the same visual bug, albeit slightly different in presentation. For some reason, this fascinates me; is it a limitation in how Windows handles custom titlebars? Is it, perhaps, a feature, and is there a deeper reasoning behind it? Is it just sloppiness? Do we have any Windows developers here who could possibly shed a light on this? Some will call this petty whining, and surely, it is. However, I'm not asking this because I'm bothered by it; I'm asking this because I'm genuinely curious where this bug comes from.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly. This is what Snowden uses. Tails released version 1.0 a few days ago.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Despite XP's end of support, Microsoft is still going to release the fix for the recent Internet Explorer vulnerability for the ageing operating system. Even though Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and is past the time we normally provide security updates, we've decided to provide an update for all versions of Windows XP (including embedded), today. We made this exception based on the proximity to the end of support for Windows XP. The reality is there have been a very small number of attacks based on this particular vulnerability and concerns were, frankly, overblown. Unfortunately this is a sign of the times and this is not to say we don’t take these reports seriously. We absolutely do. If you're still on Windows XP, you deserve to be insecure. Get a modern operating system - Windows 7/8, OS X, Linux, anything. XP is outdated crap, and it's time to move on.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
OpenBSD 5.5 has been released. As usual, the list of changes goes way beyond my comfort zone - I'm not exactly into the world of BSD - but I'm pretty sure that those that use OpenBSD aren't interested in oversimplified nonsense from people like me anyway. As always, get it on CD-ROM (I love typing that in this day and age), or straight from a mirror.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
I deeply, truly, desperately want Apple to add a Files app and DocumentPicker controller to the iPhone and iPad in iOS 8. I've wanted it going on 4 years, and every year more than the last. It is, in my very humble opinion, one of the biggest, most frustrating holes remaining on Apple's mobile operating system, and all the more so because it seems like a model for fixing it has been in successful use for years already. Right now we're saddled with the complexity and frustration of iOS documents locked in app and iCloud jails. We're driven to outdated filesystems like Dropbox because Apple hasn't yet provided a next generation alternative. It needs to happen and so I'm once again asking for it this year and for iOS 8. iOS has many complexity-inducing frustrations born out of "keep it simple", but none as big as this one. File handling on iOS is so incredibly frustrating and needlessly complex that I have a hard time considering it a mature operating system at all. My line of work requires constant opening and closing of a quarter metric frickton of files, and that kind of stuff is simply impossible on iOS.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
I find the "everybody should learn to code" movement laudable. And yet it also leaves me wistful, even melancholy. Once upon a time, knowing how to use a computer was virtually synonymous with knowing how to program one. And the thing that made it possible was a programming language called BASIC. Invented by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, BASIC was first successfully used to run programs on the school's General Electric computer system 50 years ago this week - at 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, to be precise. It's the only programming language I was ever somewhat proficient in (when I was about six years old). I never moved beyond it, and now, I know nothing about programming. BASIC has played a huge role in the history of computing, and its birthday deserves to be a thing.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
The Verge (I'd quote the original source but it's stuck behind a paywall): The Android Silver project, which was rumored earlier this month, has today been corroborated by four fresh sources, all of whom point to a major shift in Google's mobile strategy. The Information reports that the current scheme of offering Nexus-branded handsets with Google's unadulterated vision of the best Android user experience will be scrapped, to be replaced by a set of high-end Silver phones that will closely adhere to it. The change is both expansive and expensive, as Google is said to be planning to spend heavily on promoting these devices in wireless carriers' stores and through advertising, essentially subsidizing the development and marketing costs for its hardware partners. In exchange for this new contribution, Google will gain tighter control over the software shipping on the selected phones. The promise is that the company will clean up third-party bloatware, ensure prompt and reliable software updates, and introduce a real standard and consistency to the user experience across Android Silver devices. LG and Motorola are identified as the likeliest candidates for taking part, with the first phones anticipated as soon as next year, while Samsung, HTC, and Sony might need a bit more convincing. Then again, all three of the latter companies already offer Google Play Editions of their leading phones, which might be the closest analog we have at the moment for what an Android Silver device will look and act like. Music to my ears. This is exactly what Google needs to do in order to clean up the Android ecosystem and make a clear distinction between crap (TouchWiz, Sense, and so forth) and Android-proper. Hopefully, with Google pushing these devices in traditional venues (carriers), they'll see more widespread success than the Nexus program. And please sell them worldwide. Please.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Firefox 29 has been released, and the most prominent new feature is an entirely new user interface. It's smoother and less angular, and has clearly been designed to somewhat resemble Google Chrome. Hence, I personally think it's a major step forward - except for Firefox' version of the Chrome menu, which uses a grid of icons instead of a list (?!) - but I'm nearly 100% convinced many Firefox users will not like it. It's change, after all. Luckily, Firefox is customisable to the point of insanity, so I'm pretty sure you can revert to the old look with the right themes and extensions.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Think OS is an introduction to Operating Systems for programmers. In many computer science programs, Operating Systems is an advanced topic. By the time students take it, they usually know how to program in C, and they have probably taken a class in Computer Architecture. Usually the goal of the class is to expose students to the design and implementation of operating systems, with the implied assumption that some of them will do research in this area, or write part of an OS. This book is intended for a different audience, and it has different goals. I developed it for a class at Olin College called Software Systems.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Whether newly appointed president Rick Osterloh's team can navigate the shifting targets that now lie before it is anyone’s guess: it’s no secret that companies not named Apple or Samsung have a hell of a time squeezing money from the brutal and fickle smartphone market. That dynamic alone precipitates enough stress, but Motorola is also in the midst of being traded from a comfortable home with Google to Chinese giant Lenovo, the biggest maker of PCs on the planet. And through all of this, it needs to keep delivering world-beating smartphones at a backbreaking pace without skipping a beat. And then there's the Moto 360. The Moto 360 will be crucial. It looks amazing, and Android Wear looks like the smartwatch concept done right. If it all clicks, Motorola (and hence, Google) will have a hit on their hands.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
As part of some maintenance here, I did a little research as to how to set up NetBoot for various different Macs. For this piece, interchange 'NetBoot' with 'NetInstall' if you're being pedantic - I'm NetBooting the install disc for a particular OS. NetBooting a full install should also be possible using the same techniques. Mavericks Server (an app free to all developers) has a built-in NetBoot (NetInstall) server GUI, but it only supports a handful of modern versions of OS X. Thankfully, if you follow the instructions in the bootpd manpage you can manually build NetBoot images supporting both PowerPC and Intel Macs going back to OS X v10.2. Because we can.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Microsoft announced it has completed its acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business. The acquisition has been approved by Nokia shareholders and by governmental regulatory agencies around the world. The completion of the acquisition marks the first step in bringing these two organizations together as one team. Nokia's mobile era has now officially come to an end. One day, books will be written about the rise and fall of one of the greatest mobile technology companies of all time - one that played an instrumental role in the development and spread of the mobile phone, and the one company that put a phone in every corner of the world, in every person's hands - whether they were rich or poor. This is a sad day. On a positive (?) note, Stephen Elop has stated that Microsoft will continue to support Asha and Nokia X, but only time will tell what "support" exactly means. And we are committed to continuing our support for feature phones, the Asha family, and the Nokia X family of devices, announced at the Mobile World Congress in February.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Peter Bright making the case for subscription-based Windows. Microsoft has already made Windows free to OEMs for tablets with screens below a certain size. Making it free to everyone but without the desktop would be a logical extension of this. It gives Microsoft the tools to compete with both Android on tablets and Chrome OS on laptops, while still not cutting it out of the revenue loop entirely. Desktop-less Windows should provide Microsoft with some amount of revenue through applications bought in the Store. To this, add a couple of levels of unlocks: one tier for regular Windows desktop features (offering parity with the feature set of Windows 8.1 today), and a second, higher tier for Windows corporate features (offering parity with Windows 8.1 Pro). These could be both persistent unlocks or periodic subscriptions. Microsoft has already had persistent operating system unlocks since Windows Vista's Anytime Upgrade feature, so none of this would be hugely different from what's gone before. The facts and rumours do line up, but honestly - free/subscription-based Windows is right up there with a TV from Apple when it comes to long-running, always-returning but never materialising rumours.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
The PC-BSD project is developing its own desktop environment from scratch! The ultimate plan is for Lumina to become a full-featured, open-source desktop environment that may ultimately replace KDE as its default desktop environment. A Phoronix reader, Ryan Bram, wrote in to share word on this new desktop environment being developed by the PC-BSD crew, the popular desktop-focused derivative of FreeBSD. This new desktop is called Lumina and is being developed as a home-grown desktop environment catered toward this BSD operating system. While it's obviously cool, I wonder if it's a wise idea to undertake such a huge endeavour. I honestly doubt PC-BSD has the developers, testers, and users required for creating, maintaining, and improving an entire desktop environment.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Via Ars Technica. A multi-institutional team of new-media artists, computer experts, and museum professionals have discovered a dozen previously unknown experiments by Andy Warhol (BFA, 1949) on aging floppy disks from 1985. [...] Warhol's Amiga experiments were the products of a commission by Commodore International to demonstrate the graphic arts capabilities of the Amiga 1000 personal computer. Created by Warhol on prototype Amiga hardware in his unmistakable visual style, the recovered images reveal an early exploration of the visual potential of software imaging tools, and show new ways in which the preeminent American artist of the 20th century was years ahead of his time. Great to have this stuff preserved properly now. At the time, the Amiga was so ahead of the competition that most people didn't really understand what they were looking at. It took the competition - Apple, Microsoft - a decade, or even longer, to catch up. Andy Warhol demonstrated this huge technical lead by creating these works of art on the Amiga in 1985.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
A Google lawyer testified on Tuesday that the software maker, pursuant to its contractual obligations, agreed to take over defense of some of the claims in Apple’s current patent lawsuit as well as to indemnify Samsung should it lose on those claims. Apple played deposition testimony from Google lawyer James Maccoun, who verified emails in which Google agreed to provide partial or full indemnity with regard to four patents as well as to take over defense of those claims. If this case was really about "justice", as Apple claims it is, they should just get it over with and sue Google directly, instead of playing these proxy games. In any case, it's good to know Google is taking responsibility for its OEMs here - long overdue.

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