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Impact assessment shows privacy risks of Microsoft Office
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-17 02:31:59

The government of The Netherlands recently commissioned the Privacy Company to perform a data protection impact assessment regarding the government's use of Microsoft Office products, and the results of this assessment are alarming.

The SLM Rijk conducts negotiations with Microsoft for approximately 300.000 digital work stations of the national government. The Enterprise version of the Office software is deployed by different governmental organisations, such as ministries, the judiciary, the police and the taxing authority.

The results of this Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) are alarming. Microsoft collects and stores personal data about the behaviour of individual employees on a large scale, without any public documentation. The DPIA report (in English) as published by the Ministry is available here.

This shouldn't surprise anyone, but it's good to see governments taking these matters seriously, and forcing technology companies to change their policies.

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Limiting the power of package installation in Debian
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-17 02:26:14

There is always at least a small risk when installing a package for a distribution. By its very nature, package installation is an invasive process; some packages require the ability to make radical changes to the system - changes that users surely would not want other packages to take advantage of. Packages that are made available by distributions are vetted for problems of this sort, though, of course, mistakes can be made. Third-party packages are an even bigger potential problem because they lack this vetting, as was discussed in early October on the debian-devel mailing list. Solutions in this area are not particularly easy, however.

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Firefox Nightly now with experimental Wayland support
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-17 02:23:56

As of last nightly (20181115100051), Firefox now supports Wayland on Linux, thanks to the work from Martin Stransky and Jan Horak, mostly.

Before that, it was possible to build your own Firefox with Wayland support (and Fedora does it), but now the downloads from mozilla.org come with Wayland support out of the box for the first time.

The transition to Wayland seems to be taking its time, but with how big of an undertaking this is, that only makes sense.

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International System of Units overhauled in historic vote
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-17 02:20:13

Today, in a landmark decision, representatives from 60 countries voted to redefine the International System of Units (SI), changing the world's definition of the kilogram, the ampere, the kelvin and the mole, for ever.

The decision, made at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles, France, which is organised by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), means that all SI units will now be defined in terms of constants that describe the natural world. This will assure the future stability of the SI and open the opportunity for the use of new technologies, including quantum technologies, to implement the definitions.

The metric system - or, as it is known today, the International System of Units (SI) - is an amazing achievement of mankind. Save for a few archaic holdouts who still measure things by sheep intestines and cow brains, the entire world has standardized on this system, so that regardless of where you are, things innately make sense.

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How Facebook's leaders fought through crisis
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-16 01:06:53

While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook's critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.

Revealing, but unsurprising recount of how Facebook went on the attack to ward off the numerous criticisms of the company. It doesn't susprise me one bit that Facebook isn't just a terrible company on the outside, but also on the inside.

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Official support for Windows 10 on ARM development
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-16 00:51:02

Today is an exciting day for Windows 10 on ARM. With the official release of Visual Studio 15.9, developers now have the officially supported SDK and tools for creating 64-bit ARM (ARM64) apps. In addition, the Microsoft Store is now officially accepting submissions for apps built for the ARM64 architecture.

Let's see how long Microsoft sticks with this attempt.

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Windows 10 to get white theme
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-14 23:12:17

Microsoft released the latest Windows 10 insider build for next year's April Windows 10 update, and it contained a welcome susprise.

Ever since we introduced the ability to choose between light and dark in Windows 10, we've heard feedback asking for a truer separation between the two options. When you select Light under Settings > Personalization > Colors, the expectation is that the system color would be lighter too. And it didn’t do that before - the taskbar and many other things stayed dark. Now, if you choose Light under Settings > Personalization > Colors, all system UI will now be light. This includes the taskbar, Start menu, Action Center, touch keyboard, and more.

This looks really, really nice. There's a few other changes in this build as well, but do note we're very early in the development process, so these builds are not for the faint of heart.

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The vacuum tube's many modern day uses
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-14 23:07:09

Among obscure pop culture tidbits and stories about wacky inventions, Tedium has often documented the continued survival of technology long thought of as obsolete. From calculagraphs to COBOL, we love hearing that ancient tech survives in the 21st century and revel in the uses that keep them around. So it was surprising to dig through the Tedium archives looking for something I expected to find, but didn't. Today, we're righting that wrong and diving into the robust and thriving world of a technology that was foundational to the progress humanity made during the 20th century. Today's Tedium is talking vacuum tubes.

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KDevelop 5.3 released
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-14 23:04:59

A little less than a year after the release of KDevelop 5.2 and a little more than 20 years after KDevelop's first official release, we are happy to announce the availability of KDevelop 5.3 today. Below is a summary of the significant changes.

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Samsung's Linux on DeX turns your phone into a Linux PC
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-14 00:56:33

Samsung debuted DeX last year to make your phone behave a bit more like a computer when plugged into a monitor. This year, DeX functionality has improved so you don't need to expensive custom dock, just a video cable. At Samsung's developer conference last week, it announced DeX would also get full Linux support. It's only officially available to those in the beta program, but we've got the APK.

I remain convinced that this is eventually what all our phones will be able to do - adapt to whatever input method and/or display you hook up to it. We're in the early stages today, with lots of rough edges, performance hiccups, and other issues, but eventually, we won't bat an eye at walking into our homes and without us doing anything, our phone wirelessly hooks up to all displays in our house. Want to work on that presentation for tomorrow? Walk into your office, sit down, and your phone automatically wirelessly connects to the mouse, keyboard, and display on your desk. Want to watch Netflix? Just yell a command at your TV, and your phone plays season 7 of Game of Thrones: The Next Generation on your TV. And so on.

This is still a long way off, and it requires serious advances in wireless transmission and latency, but this is the future I want.

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