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Apple in China: who holds the keys?
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-23 23:51:25

With Apple moving its Chinese iCloud data to a company partially owned by the Chinese government, it's natural to wonder what this means for the privacy of Chinese Apple users.

If Apple is storing user data on Chinese services, we have to at least accept the possibility that the Chinese government might wish to access it - and possibly without Apple’s permission. Is Apple saying that this is technically impossible?

This is a question, as you may have guessed, that boils down to encryption.

This article is from the middle of January of this year, but I missed it back then - it's a great insight into what all of this means, presented in an easy-to-grasp manner. Definitely recommended reading.

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The Google Assistant is going global
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-23 23:48:47

Android users are all around the world, so from the start, our goal has been to bring the Assistant to as many people, languages, and locations as possible. The Assistant is already available in eight languages, and by the end of the year it will be available in more than 30 languages, reaching 95 percent of all eligible Android phones worldwide. In the next few months, we’ll bring the Assistant to Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish and Thai on Android phones and iPhones, and we’ll add more languages on more devices throughout the year.

We’re also making the Assistant multilingual later this year, so families or individuals that speak more than one language can speak naturally to the Assistant. With this new feature, the Assistant will be able to understand you in multiple languages fluently. If you prefer to speak German at work, but French at home, your Assistant is right there with you. Multilingual will first be available in English, French and German, with support for more languages coming over time.

This is a decent improvement, but progress on the multilingual front is still quite slow. I understand this is a hard and difficult problem to solve, but if this issue was in any way related to increasing ad revenue, Google would've cracked it 5 years ago.

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Android One becomes the new Google Play EditioN
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-23 01:08:02

If I look back through all of the years we have covered Android, it’s hard to argue that the introduction of Google Play Edition phones wasn’t one of the biggest moments. In those early years, the Android skin situation was bad. Those early versions of TouchWiz, MotoBlur, and even HTC Sense, weren’t what many of us wanted, to say the least. We wanted Google’s version of Android, as well as their Nexus update schedules, yet that was tough to get because Google was making average hardware at the time.

While Google Play Edition may have failed as a program, I get the feeling that Android One will now act as a proper replacement to it.

Stop trying to make timely Android updates happen. It's not going to happen.

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Project: 2ine, OS/2 binaries on Linux
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-21 23:10:22

You have no idea how much effort went into getting this stupid white square on the screen.

If this one hell of a lede doesn't get your attention, nothing will.

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Linux ported to Nintendo Switch
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-21 23:07:38

There are two major reasons I can think of to hack a game console. The first one is obvious: so you can play cracked copies of games. That’s why modern consoles are so difficult to hack, because millions of dollars are on the line.

But some people just want to run any software they choose on the hardware they own. And for those people, Linux on the Switch is a huge achievement.

I'm surprised it even took this long.

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The case against Google
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-21 23:06:12

In other words, it's very likely you love Google, or are at least fond of Google, or hardly think about Google, the same way you hardly think about water systems or traffic lights or any of the other things you rely on every day. Therefore you might have been surprised when headlines began appearing last year suggesting that Google and its fellow tech giants were threatening everything from our economy to democracy itself. Lawmakers have accused Google of creating an automated advertising system so vast and subtle that hardly anyone noticed when Russian saboteurs co-opted it in the last election. Critics say Facebook exploits our addictive impulses and silos us in ideological echo chambers. Amazon’s reach is blamed for spurring a retail meltdown; Apple's economic impact is so profound it can cause market-wide gyrations. These controversies point to the growing anxiety that a small number of technology companies are now such powerful entities that they can destroy entire industries or social norms with just a few lines of computer code. Those four companies, plus Microsoft, make up America's largest sources of aggregated news, advertising, online shopping, digital entertainment and the tools of business and communication. They're also among the world's most valuable firms, with combined annual revenues of more than half a trillion dollars.

The recent focus on technology companies when it comes to corporate power is definitely warranted, but I do find it a little peculiar that it, at the same time, draws attention away from other sectors where giant corporations are possibly doing even more damage to society, like large oil companies and the environment, or the concentration of media companies.

One has to wonder if the recent aggressive focus on tech companies isn't entirely natural.

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Stephen Elop and the fall of Nokia revisited
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by M.Onty on 2018-02-21 23:00:08

The first English translation of Operation Elop, an examination by Finnish journalists into the final years of Nokia phones, has reignited debate about the fate of what was Europe's largest and most admired technology company.

[...]

What do we learn?

Operation Elop is largely negative about the Canadian CEO's tenure, the first non-Finn to hold the position at the company, but nevertheless comes to his support when the authors find that criticism was unfair. For example, the vilification that Stephen Elop received on receiving a "$26m payoff" was completely unwarranted, the authors conclude, since the figure (and much of the reporting) was wildly inaccurate. If you want an American CEO, they point out, you need to pay an American CEO's compensation. And Elop's time at Nokia cost him his marriage, don't forget.

But the collapse of Nokia also cost Finnish communities dear: the details of rising alcoholism, and child social services under strain as thousands of employees were laid off, make for grim reading.

Elop's tenure at Nokia and the company's downfall will be studied for decades to come.

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Programming AmigaOS 4
By special contributor MikeB on 2018-02-19 22:08:40
Amiga Future has published the first 5 parts of a series of AmigaOS 4 programming tutorials online (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5).

We were shocked when we realised that while we've covered several subjects in programming for AmigaOS 4 in Amiga Future there's been no extensive coverage of all of the many aspects. Additionally, since the release of OS4, quite a lot of time has passed by, and during that time new programming treasures have sneaked into the SDK virtually unnoticed. It's been nine years since the authors did a similar series in "Amiga Magazin". So, we're launching a new 15-part series starting with a short peek at the SDK and the available development environments.

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Microsoft documents the limitations of Windows 10 on ARM
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-19 21:37:47

This week, however, Microsoft finally published a more complete list of the limitations of Windows 10 on ARM. And that word - limitations - is interesting. This isn't how Windows 10 on ARM differs from Windows 10 on x86-based systems. It's how it's more limited.

None of these things really sound all that surprising to me, but you can bet these limitations - which seem technical in nature, not political - will lead to outcries among some people who buy ARM-based Windows 10 machines.

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Eric Lundgren faces prison for trying to extend life span of PCs
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-19 21:30:34

Eric Lundgren is obsessed with recycling electronics.

He built an electric car out of recycled parts that far outdistanced a Tesla in a test. He launched what he thinks is the first "electronic hybrid recycling" facility in the United States, which turns discarded cellphones and other electronics into functional devices, slowing the stream of harmful chemicals and metals into landfills and the environment. His California-based company processes more than 41 million pounds of e-waste each year and counts IBM, Motorola and Sprint among its clients.

But an idea Lundgren had to prolong the life of personal computers could land him in prison.

One of those cases that fills any decent human being with rage.

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