posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Nintendo finally confirmed today it will be making the leap to mobile game development as part of a new partnership with DeNA. According to a statement released by the companies today, new Nintendo IP will be developed for smart devices and specifically optimized for this platform. In other words, rather than porting games created specifically for the Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS you can expect entirely new titles on mobile. I'm interested to see what Nintendo can do to cope with the inherent limitations of touchscreen gaming.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Neptune is calling its new project the Neptune Suite. At its most basic, it's six different pieces of hardware that Neptune promises will work seamlessly with one another. Yet where every major company with a smartwatch (short of Samsung), has put the heavy lifting on people's smartphones for things like network connectivity and apps, Neptune wants to put it on your wrist. hub In the middle of it all is a wrap-around, water-resistant smartwatch called "the hub," which has a 2.4-inch capacitive touchscreen, a 3G/LTE modem that works with nano-SIM cards, and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Joining it are a "pocket screen" and "tab screen," which expand the screen on the hub using super-fast, short-range wireless standard 802.11ad WiGig. Adding to that are three accessories: a keyboard that can turn the tablet into a notebook of sorts; a dongle with HDMI that will let you push what's on your hub to other screens (like Google's Chromecast); and last but not least, a set of wireless headphones. A very interesting idea, but in my view, a misguided one. This idea would work a lot better if the central device wasn't an unwieldy, huge bracelet, but the smartphone. I long for the day my smartphone can replace my PC, connecting to displays and peripherals without ever taking it out of my pocket.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Google Play, Google's marketplace for Android applications which now reaches a billion people in over 190 countries, has historically differentiated itself from rival Apple by allowing developers to immediately publish their mobile applications without a lengthy review process. However, Google has today disclosed that, beginning a couple of months ago, it began having an internal team of reviewers analyze apps for policy violations prior to publication. And going forward, human reviewers will continue to go hands-on with apps before they go live on Google Play. I haven't noticed any slowdowns or complaints from developers so far.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
While Microsoft has dropped hints that the Internet Explorer brand is going away, the software maker has now confirmed that it will use a new name for its upcoming browser successor, codenamed Project Spartan. Speaking at Microsoft Convergence yesterday, Microsoft's marketing chief Chris Capossela revealed that the company is currently working on a new name and brand. "We're now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10," said Capossela. "We'll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we'll also have a new browser called Project Spartan, which is codenamed Project Spartan. We have to name the thing." The only sensible move. The Internet Explorer name is tainted far, far beyond repair.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Apple Pay itself should, in theory, cut down on fraud because it makes stealing credit card information almost impossible. Each time a transaction takes place, Apple generates the equivalent of a new credit card number so the merchant never actually sees a customer's information. The vulnerability in Apple Pay is in the way that it - and card issuers - "onboard" new credit cards into the system. Because Apple wanted its system to have the simplicity for which it has become famous and wanted to make the sign-up process "frictionless", the company required little beyond basic credit card information about a user. Nor did it provide much information to the banks, like full phone numbers and addresses, that might help them detect fraud early. The banks, desperate to become their customers' default card on Apple Pay - most add only one to their iPhones - did little to build their own defenses or to push Apple to provide more detailed information about its customers. Some bank executives acknowledged that they were were so scared of Apple that they didn't speak up. The banks didn't press the company for fear that they would not be included among the initial issuers on Apple Pay. It seems the Apple Pay fraud is a bit more complex than it just being the banks' fault. This is what happens when one company becomes so big and dominant that everyone else dances to their tunes. We've seen it before in technology, and it seems we are entirely unwilling to learn. In any case, letting a secretive, closed technology company take care of my payments seems like an incredibly stupid thing to do. I much prefer our banks to handle it - they're shady, too, of course, but at least here in The Netherlands, there are at least a lot of government and media eyes focussed on them, and they have far stricter laws and regulations to adhere to than a random technology company.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Windows devices can be lightweight and highly mobile, yet, when you need it, have the full capabilities of the Windows OS. The Windows Storage and Deployment Teams, the people who bring modern storage APIs, Storage Sense, setup, and servicing to your phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop would like to introduce you to how they are giving Windows 10 a compact footprint. Now that Windows runs on all manners of devices - from cheap phones to expensive gaming rigs - Windows' storage footprint is even more important than it already was. I'm glad Microsoft is losing sight of these lower-level things while working on Windows 10's user-facing features. That being said, the measures detailed in the blog post look an awful lot like treating the symptoms instead of the actual cause.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Engadget takes a look at the Recreated Sinclair Spectrum. With no embeddable games, the keyboard relies upon existing iOS and Android apps. Elite bundles a free app that launches with a short soundbite of the Spectrum loading sound and offers a number of free games, including exclusive rights to Chuckie Egg, and access to Sinclair BASIC. Other games can be unlocked via 79p ($1) in-app purchases. During my demo, I led Hen-House Harry through a number of levels and the gameplay was exactly like I remember it, as was the tactile feel of the rubberized keyboard. You don't realize just how much you missed those 8-bit soundtracks and super-simple graphics. I love that we live in an age where incredibly niche devices like this can be made and sold.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney's Steve Jobs documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, debuted over the weekend at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival in Austin, Texas. Financed by CNN Films, the 127-minute doc was described by its maker as delivering a "far more complex interpretation" of Jobs than any of the previous movies depicting the life of Apple's iconic co-founder. But what did the press think? Well, the first reviews are out and, while they're generally strong, they certainly don't describe a documentary that paints Jobs in a favorable light - or one that contains too many revelations that will be new to anyone who read Jobs' maligned 2011 biography by Walter Isaacson. Interestingly enough, this is the same director behind the praised documentary about the criminal organisation 'scientology'. Moreover, Apple has actually deemed it worthy enough to attack the documentary, claiming it is "inaccurate and mean-spirited". A more glowing endorsement has never existed, I would say.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Imagination Technologies is a British company that has recently entered full production of a board based on MIPS computer architecture. The single-board computer has been designed to allow developers to create applications for mobiles, gaming, Internet of Things, and wearables. Interesting, and more exotic, alternative to the Pi.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The Galaxy S6 is set to mount the biggest challenge to Apple's iPhone 6 to date, so it's only natural to want to compare the dimensions and proportions of the two. I found that a strangely difficult task with the press images provided from both manufacturers: Apple still hides the iPhone's camera bulge in profile shots and Samsung's front and back pictures are shot at slightly different sizes. So I have rescaled the press photos in accordance with the official specs, and used The Verge's magical image slider to get an idea of the difference in size. Interesting comparison images. It also highlights the utter idiocy of the kneejerk Pavlovian "it's a copy!" reactions from the usual suspects. These two devices are nothing alike.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
From complaints about the Intel Core-M processor to the color choices to the decision to use USB-C, it seems that anyone with skin in the Mac game has found something to pick on regarding the new Macbook. I think it's all utter bullshit. The thing that spec monkeys need to remember is that most people don't care about what they care about. Most people buying new computers aren't interest in how many cores a CPU has or how many GB of RAM or storage it has. Very few of the people I sell computers to have more than a passing interest. They want to know what the computer can do. What problems it solves for them. While the gushing, endless praise for Apple/Mac/OS X in the article borders on the nauseating (hey it's iMore, what did you expect), I do agree with the main point. A similar reaction could be seen when Samsung announced the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, where 'power users' started complaining about the non-removable back and lack of an SD card slot as if it these 'issues' matter one bit to the masses buying Galaxy phones (or any other brand, for that matter). It's something I like to refer to as 'the bubble'. You can become so enveloped in the platforms and devices you use that you end up in a bubble. Your own specific use case becomes all that you can see, and because you read the same websites as other people inside your bubble do, it's easy to lose perspective of what lies beyond your bubble. The end result is that you think stuff like removable batteries or SD card slots actually matter to more than 0.1% of the smartphone buying public, or that not having an USB port matters to the people buying this new MacBook. The same happened with the original iPhone, the first iMac, and god knows what else. A lot of people - vocal people - assume their own use case is the benchmark for everyone, and as such, if some new piece of kit does not fit that use case, it must, inevitably, fail. I always try to make sure that I look beyond my own bubble - that's how I can lament the Apple Watch as a ugly, square, computery iPhone Wrist, while still acknowledging that it will most likely do quite well, because what I want in a smartwatch - watch first, computer fourth or fifth - is probably not what most other people want. This new MacBook is going to be a huge success, and so will the new Galaxy S6. Nobody cares about removable backs, SD card slots, or ports.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
"Discover HAIKU" is your gateway to the world of HAIKU. Delivered to you on a premium quality 8GB USB stick, you can boot to it directly, or install it to an empty hard drive volume on your computer. It comes with a new, up-to-date version of HAIKU, introductory videos, and a mile-long list of tested, proven programs and tools that will make your adventure exciting. Looks like it's made by TuneTracker Systems - not exactly an unknown name in the BeOS world. Still, couldn't you just download the latest Haiku nightly? I don't think Haiku has an update system in place yet, so I wonder how this 'distribution' keeps itself up to date.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Google has announced the end of its project hosting service. As developers migrated away from Google Code, a growing share of the remaining projects were spam or abuse. Lately, the administrative load has consisted almost exclusively of abuse management. After profiling non-abusive activity on Google Code, it has become clear to us that the service simply isn’t needed anymore. New project creation is already disabled on March 12. On August 24 the site will go read-only, to be completely shut down by Janury 25, 2016. Project data is promised to be available as tarball download throughout 2016.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Microsoft is working on an advanced version of its competitor to Apple's Siri, using research from an artificial intelligence project called "Einstein." Microsoft has been running its "personal assistant" Cortana on its Windows phones for a year, and will put the new version on the desktop with the arrival of Windows 10 this autumn. Later, Cortana will be available as a standalone app, usable on phones and tablets powered by Apple's iOS and Google's Android, people familiar with the project said. Does anybody actually use these digital assistants? Google Now is kind of useful because it actually anticipates what you need, but even then, it seems like it's for a niche group of people (e.g. those who travel a lot). Aside from the gimmick factor of asking Siri or Cortana funny questions, and the occasional setting of an alarm - does anybody actually use these things?

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
In April, one of the open source code movement's first and biggest success stories, the Network Time Protocol, will reach a decision point. At 30 years old, will NTP continue as the pre-eminent time synchronization system for Macs, Windows, and Linux computers and most servers on networks? Or will this protocol go into a decline marked by drastically slowed development, fewer bug fixes, and greater security risks for the computers that use it? The question hinges to a surprising degree on the personal finances of a 59-year-old technologist in Talent, Ore., named Harlan Stenn. Amazing how such an important protocol hinges on just one man.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Google has stopped selling the Nexus 5, the company's 2014 flagship Android smartphone. A Google spokesperson told The Verge today that "while some inventory of Nexus 5 still exists (with our retail and carrier partners), our focus is on the Nexus 6 at this time." Searches for the older model on Google's new hardware store show that the Nexus 5 is no longer available for purchase direct from Google. This leaves the Nexus series without an affordable, yet powerful smartphone - which in turn means that right now, I have absolutely no idea which Android smartphone to recommend. The Nexus 6 is too expensive and too large (and personally, I find it hideous), and everything else leaves you at the mercy of OEMs when it comes to updates (i.e., you ain't getting any). I really hope Google has a refreshed Nexus 5 in the pipeline.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The BBC will be giving away mini-computers to 11-year-olds across the country as part of its push to make the UK more digital. One million Micro Bits - a stripped-down computer similar to a Raspberry Pi - will be given to all pupils starting secondary school in the autumn term. The BBC is also launching a season of coding-based programmes and activities.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
In their just-published article, the Genode OS developers closely examine the virtualization extensions of the ARM architecture and document the process of turning their custom kernel into a microhypervisor - a hybrid of microkernel and hypervisor. Besides covering the virtualization of memory, interrupts, time, and CPU resources, the article also presents a series of experiments with ARM's protection mechanism against DMA-based attacks.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Exactly 20 years ago today, one of the best - I would argue, the best - video game(s) of all time was released: Chrono Trigger. This Gamastura article from 2012 gives a lot of fantastic insights into the game's complex, modular story. From Mass Effect to Skyrim, modern RPGs go to great lengths to merge linear, carefully crafted narrative with dynamic, emergent gameplay. Hundreds of thousands of man-hours are poured into these incredibly complex works, all in the effort to create a believable, cohesive story while giving players a sense of freedom in the way they play their game. The results of these efforts have been best-loved play experiences video games have offered. But the goal of marrying linear narrative to dynamic gameplay is not out of reach for developers that don't have the resources to create such complex systems. No game shows this better than the classic RPG Chrono Trigger. Crafted by Square's "Dream Team" of RPG developers, Chrono Trigger balances developer control with player freedom using carefully-designed mechanics and a modular approach to narrative. Chrono Trigger is something special, something one-of-a-kind that cannot be replicated. You see its influence in so many games today, and even on its own, despite its age, it can still hold itself up very well next to all the Quadruple Turbo HD Mega Graphics games of today. While Marle (or Nadia in the Japanese version) is my favourite character, it's hard to deny that as far as storyarcs go, Glenn's story is the most heartbreaking and emotional story ever told in 16 bits - and beyond (well - almost beyond). While originally a SNES game, Chrono Trigger is currently available for both iOS and Android.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Exactly 20 years ago today, one of the best - I would argue, the best - video game(s) of all time was released: Chrono Trigger. This Gamastura article from 2012 gives a lot of fantastic insights into the game's complex, modular story. From Mass Effect to Skyrim, modern RPGs go to great lengths to merge linear, carefully crafted narrative with dynamic, emergent gameplay. Hundreds of thousands of man-hours are poured into these incredibly complex works, all in the effort to create a believable, cohesive story while giving players a sense of freedom in the way they play their game. The results of these efforts have been best-loved play experiences video games have offered. But the goal of marrying linear narrative to dynamic gameplay is not out of reach for developers that don't have the resources to create such complex systems. No game shows this better than the classic RPG Chrono Trigger. Crafted by Square's "Dream Team" of RPG developers, Chrono Trigger balances developer control with player freedom using carefully-designed mechanics and a modular approach to narrative. Chrono Trigger is something special, something one-of-a-kind that cannot be replicated. You see its influence in so many games today, and even on its own, despite its age, it can still hold itself up very well next to all the Quadruple Turbo HD Mega Graphics games of today. While Marle (or Nadia in the Japanese version) is my favourite character, it's hard to deny that as far as storyarcs go, Glenn's story is the most heartbreaking and emotional story ever told in 16 bits - and beyond (well - almost beyond). While originally a SNES game, Chrono Trigger is currently available for both iOS and Android.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Google has unveiled its new Chromebook Pixel, and The Verge has its review up. The new Chromebook Pixel is slightly cheaper than its predecessor, at $999, but it's still wildly more expensive than other Chromebooks. It has almost the exact same design as the original, and thus is a beautiful machine. It still runs Chrome OS, which has advanced significantly in the past two years, but not enough to be a real replacement for what you can do on a Mac or a PC. But the improvements in battery life and speed are both huge. When you use it, the dichotomy between what your heart wants and what your brain says is almost bittersweet. It's an amazing laptop that I want to use all the time, but when I really need to do more intensive "computer" things, it's not quite enough. Core i5, 8GB RAM, 12.85" 2560x1700 touchscreen, 12 hours of battery life (The Verge got 14 hours), $999 - but ChromeOS.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
While some things about computers are "virtual," they still must operate in the physical world and cannot ignore the challenges of that world. Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (one of the most important pioneers in our field, whose achievements include creating the first compiler) used to illustrate this point by giving each of her students a piece of wire 11.8 inches long, the maximum distance that electricity can travel in one nanosecond. This physical representation of the relationship between information, time, and distance served as a tool for explaining why signals (like my metaphorical sign above) must always and unavoidably take time to arrive at their destinations. Given these delays, it can be difficult to reason about exactly what "now" means in computer systems.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Researchers working with the Central Intelligence Agency have conducted a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple's iPhones and iPads, according to top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept. The security researchers presented their latest tactics and achievements at a secret annual gathering, called the "Jamboree," where attendees discussed strategies for exploiting security flaws in household and commercial electronics. The conferences have spanned nearly a decade, with the first CIA-sponsored meeting taking place a year before the first iPhone was released. Outrage something something not surprised exclamation point.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Last month my fourth iPhone in six years was, in medical terms, crashing. The screen, which had pulled away from its glue, was behaving strangely. The charging port, no matter how thoroughly I cleaned it, only occasionally took power. Repair would be expensive, especially considering that my contract would be up in about six months. Buying a newer iPhone would mean spending $650 up-front, spending $450 with a new two-year contract or amortizing the price with my carrier's new early upgrade plan. I felt trapped, as every smartphone owner occasionally does, between two much more powerful entities that take me, an effectively captive chain-buying contract iPhone user, for granted. I began to take offense at the malfunctioning iPhone's familiarity. Our relationship was strained and decreasingly rational. I was on a trip and away from home for a few weeks, out of sorts and out of climate, slightly unmoored and very impatient. And so the same stubborn retail-limbic response that prevented me from avoiding this mess in the first place - by buying an AppleCare insurance plan - activated once more, and I placed an order I had been thinking about for months: One BLU Advance 4.0 Unlocked Dual Sim Phone (White), $89.99 suggested retail (but usually listed lower), $76.14 open-box with overnight shipping. 1,829 customer reviews, 4.3 stars. "This isn't the best phone out there, but it is by far the best phone for only around $80-90," wrote Amazon reviewer Anne. Excellent article about what it's like to move from a top-of-the-line smartphone to the cheapest models. This is eventually going to be a huge problem for companies relying on high-end smartphones. It won't affect Apple as much (in fact, it isn't affecting them at all), but Android OEMs are feeling the heat. While the really cheap ones are probably not that interesting to us, the €200-€300 models (no contract) certainly are. They deliver similar performance at less than half the price of the latest iPhone or Galaxy.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Watch expert Benjamin Clymer, founder and executive editor of luxury watch site HODINKEE, writing for The Verge: With Apple Watch, the price differentiation between the entry-level Sport at $349, the standard Apple Watch at $549, and the Edition at $10,000 is about perceived value - what materials are used in the case, bracelet, and straps, but also how much people believe they should be paying for the product. In addition to perceived value, mechanical watches are also priced by human value: how much of the work is done by hand (in many cases using 200-year-old methods). For example, a watchmaker named Philippe Dufour makes just 12 watches per year, alone in his one-room atelier in the mountains of Switzerland. A simple, time-only piece can cost $100,000. Whether the case is gold or platinum, the price of a Philippe Dufour watch remains (roughly) static - you are not paying for materials, you are paying for Mr. Dufour's time and touch. The Apple Watch has minimal human value, and that is the biggest difference between it and its mechanical counterparts. Just how much human value can a customer expect from a mechanical watch, relative to a similarly priced Apple Watch? The difference is startling. I'm linking this excellent piece not because I believe the Apple Watch - or any other smartwatch - competes with mechanical watches; I link to it to illustrate why it does not. No matter how much Ive-narrated gold you encase your smatwatch with, at its core, it's still just a machine-produced mass-market gadget that will be obsolete only a few years down the line. This is antithetical to what traditional, high-end horology is all about. As I've detailed before, I love watches. I'm not rich, so I buy watches in the €150-200 range. However, I dream of one day owning a watch from my favourite watch brand, Officine Panerai (something like this one). This company doesn't make a lot of watches, and many models are only sold on invitation. It's the kind of brand where if you have to ask about the price, you can't afford it. Luckily, the used market is a bit more forgiving. Buying a watch like this is not something you do with your mind - but with your heart. It's like buying a beautiful painting or a classic car; something that can eventually be passed down onto your children and become part of the family heritage. That's either something that appeals to you, or it doesn't. It will take a long time before smartwatches can achieve that kind of status. This, however, does not mean the gold Apple Watch models will fail - quite the opposite. I'm only trying to illustrate that high-end mechanical watches and the golden Apple Watch do not really compete with each other; they kind of exist on a plane where money doesn't matter. It's a world that us non-rich folk do not understand. A golden Apple Watch will not take the place of a high-end mechanical watch in the same way that someone's BMW 6 series isn't taking the place of her classic Jaguar E-Type.

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