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Jolla releases 10th major Sailfish update
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-12-18 17:47:13

Jolla released the tenth major update for Sailfish today, bumping the version number to the as always very useful and helpful 1.1.1.26. The name of the update, also as always in Finnish, isn't helping either: Vaarainjärvi. Joking aside, this tenth update is a massive one - virtually every aspect of the operating system is touched upon in some way, from the lower levels all the way up to UI tweaks.

It's 1.5GB in size, which is pretty huge in Sailfish terms, so make sure to have enough free space for the initial download.

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HP will release a "revolutionary" new operating system in 2015
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by toralux on 2014-12-18 17:44:13

Hewlett-Packard will take a big step toward shaking up its own troubled business and the entire computing industry next year when it releases an operating system for an exotic new computer.

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Canada court to order Apple to turn over records in iPhone probe
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-12-18 12:04:58

The Federal Court of Canada agreed on Wednesday to order Apple Inc's Canadian subsidiary to turn over documents to the Competition Bureau to help investigate whether Apple unfairly used its market power to promote the sale of iPhones.

In seeking the order, the Competition Bureau said agreements Apple negotiated with wireless carriers may have cut into competition by encouraging the companies to maintain or boost the price of rival phones.

It'd be very welcome if the relationships between major OEMs and carriers, as well as between the individual carriers, came under very close scrutiny. In most countries, the wireless market is dominated by only a few major carriers and OEMs, creating a lot of opportunity for anti-competitive - and thus, anti-consumer - practices. Good on Canada for taking these steps, but other countries need to follow.

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'Tis the season for debugging
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-12-17 23:07:21

Since the last time, the expression parser has grown several new capabilities. We are now able to infer the types of operands, and as such one no longer needs to set the type that one wishes the value to be returned as. A further consequence is that expressions can now return arbitrarily typed values as results, not just simple numeric values. This means that, for instance, an expression can return a data member of a class, and if that member is itself an object or other more complex type, it can then be expanded to look at its internal values.

I am by far not knowledgeable enough to comment on any of this - but I do know it's a number of improvements to Haiku's debugger.

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The everything book: reading in the age of Amazon
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-12-17 23:03:48

Hundreds of millions of tablets and e-readers have been sold, but today we're still inclined to think of a book as words on a page. Amazon's success with Kindle has hinged on recognizing how much more they can be. So where does the company go from here? In a series of rare, on-the-record interviews for Kindle's 7th anniversary, Amazon executives sketched out their evolving vision for the future of reading. It's wild - and it's coming into focus faster than you might have guessed.

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Sony cancels The Interview release amid threats
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-12-17 23:01:20

Sony Pictures has cancelled the planned release on 25 December of the film The Interview, after major cinema chains decided not to screen it.

The film is about a fictional plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Hackers have already carried out a cyber attack on Sony and warned the public to stay away from cinemas screening the film.

Sony hacked, documents released, theatres and Sony threatened by terrorists, and now, the film in question cancelled.

Een volk dat voor tirannen zwicht, zal meer dan lijf en goed verliezen, dan dooft het licht.

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Amazon pushes a big update to the Fire Phone
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-12-17 22:55:08

Amazon is continuing to fiddle with the Fire Phone's software even after it became apparent that the device isn't selling terribly well. An OTA is going out right now to the AT&T and GSM unlocked devices with a ton of improvements to the camera, battery life, lock screen, and more.

Did anyone - anyone - buy this phone?

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BlackBerry Classic review
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-12-17 20:11:19

The wait is over. The BlackBerry Classic has now arrived, and it brings the promise of the speed and performance of BlackBerry 10 with the familiar and classic navigation keys you know and love. All that in a package that is 'designed from the ground up to meet the needs of productive people who appreciate the speed and accuracy that can only be found with a physical QWERTY keyboard'.

It's a device purposefully built to be reliable, durable, made with high-quality materials, and that delivers on quality and fits neatly in your pocket. From the official announcement of its eventual release back in February at Mobile World Congress 2014 to now, many folks have been waiting for the BlackBerry Classic and now that it's here, it's time to take a look and see if it delivers on all those points.

The Classic has officially been released today, and CrackBerry.com has one of the first reviews.

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The GNU GPL to be tested in court
By special contributor jessesmith on 2014-12-16 21:13:47

The GNU General Public License (version 2) is one of the most widely used open source licenses in the world. The GNU GPLv2 is commonly used in Linux distributions and open source applications. Yet, despite being widely used for decades, the GPLv2 has not been tested much in the legal system. Most GPL violations do not result in a trial and so the power of the license has remained largely untested. That is about to change. As OpenSource.com posted,

This lack of court decisions is about to change due to the five interrelated cases arising from a dispute between Versata Software, Inc. ("Versata") (its parent company, Trilogy Development Corporation, is also involved, but Versata is taking the lead) and Ameriprise Financial, Inc. ("Ameriprise")

It is expected the court cases will help define what qualifies as a derivative work and how the GPL affects software patents along with other details of how the license is interpreted.

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'I don't need your permission!'
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-12-16 21:13:03

Permissions on Android are tricky to get right from a user perspective. Usually you only want to do something minor and innocuous (pre-fill a form with a contact's info) but the actual permission you have to request gives you much more power than necessary (access to ALL contact details, ever).

It's understandable that users might be suspicious of you. If your app is closed-source then they have no way of verifying you're not downloading all their contacts to their servers. Even if you explain the permission request people may not trust you. In the past I've chosen not to implement what might be handy features just to avoid user distrust.

That said, one thing that bothers me is that you don't always have to ask for permission to do some actions.

Exactly, because on Android, you can use Intents.

Android's Intents system is fascinating from a historical perspective. Like so many other aspects of smartphones we take for granted today, it comes from PalmOS (and not from iOS or Android). I detailed PalmOS' "multitasking" capabilities in my Palm retrospective, but it basically comes down to this: in PalmOS, applications could 'sublaunch' other applications, let them do stuff, and then return to the original application. Many of the people working on these PalmOS capabilities (some of whom came from Be) would later work for the Android team at Google, where they further evolved it into the Intents system Android currently has.

The current smartphone platforms owe way more to Palm than modern pundits will ever be capable of understanding or willing to admit. Want to talk about inconsequential crap beveled edges and rounded corners some more?

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