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Say hello to those who hate the NSA, but invade women's privacy
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-01 19:09:40

Over the weekend someone released hundreds of revealing photos of celebrities that appear to have been stolen from private storage. In response to this, a bunch of anonymous guys on the internet copied them and posted them all over the town square, because the internet is written in ink and if you are ever a victim once in your life the internet will remind you of it forever.

These men are the detritus of human society for whom the internet provides a warm blanket, so let's remove the warm blanket for a minute.

If the NSA spies on us, it's a massive violation of privacy and omg government and #impeachobama. When some (hopefully not for much longer) anonymous hacker breaks into the personal, private accounts of dozens of famous women, steals their most private photographs, and posts them online, these same men shouting from the rooftops about the NSA retreat to their bunkers, share the photos as much as they can, and do much more I'd rather not imagine right now.

Props to The Verge for this article.

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FreeRTOS 8.1.0 released
By special contributor Anonymous on 2014-09-01 19:00:55

Version 8.1.0 of FreeRTOS was released a few days ago. Probably the most important feature is support for non contiguous heap space (heap_5.c), needed for allocation of memory (for creation of tasks, queues, semaphores, etc. and also user applications).

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AnandTech founder leaves site, joins Apple
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-01 10:23:12

Anand Lal Shimpi, the editor and publisher of the well-regarded AnandTech site, is going to work at Apple.

An Apple rep confirmed that the company was hiring Shimpi, but wouldn't provide any other details.

Last night, via a post on the site he founded in 1997, Shimpi said he was "officially retiring from the tech publishing world," but didn't say what he was doing next. "I won't stay idle forever. There are a bunch of challenges out there :)", he wrote.

This is great news for him, and after 17 years of some of the best technology journalism in the world, he certainly deserves a change of pace. Still, the rest of us lose a great voice, one of the best technology journalists of all time.

Inside Apple, nobody hears you scream.

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Seeing through the illusion: Apple's mastery of the media
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-08-29 16:49:52

Apple's public relations (PR) department is probably the best in the world - certainly more impressive at shaping and controlling the discussion of its products than any other technology company. Before customers get their first chance to see or touch a new Apple product, the company has carefully orchestrated almost every one of its public appearances: controlled leaks and advance briefings for favored writers, an invite-only media debut, and a special early review process for a group of pre-screened, known-positive writers. Nothing is left to chance, and in the rare case where Apple doesn't control the initial message, it remedies that by using proxies to deliver carefully crafted, off-the-record responses.

A well-written article by Mark Gurman, detailing Apple's PR practices. Especially the parts about how Apple carefully manipulates journalists, bloggers, and newspapers is very interesting. We all know that they do this, of course, but it's great to see it all penned down like this.

It's a long read, but definitely worth it.

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A failed experiment: how LG screwed up its webOS acquisition
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-08-29 16:31:24

Things were looking up in early 2013 for the team behind webOS, a pioneering but star-crossed mobile operating system. After surviving the implosion of Palm and a rocky acquisition by HP, LG stepped in to buy the team. The consumer electronics giant seemed like a white knight with a plan: To make webOS the core of LG's next-generation smart TV platform, and use the brains behind webOS to create a much-needed engine of innovation at LG. To create a unit that was meant to help the company to beat competitors like Samsung with Silicon Valley smarts. A disruptive force.

Eighteen months later, the acquisition looks a lot like a failure.

I wondered why it got so awfully quiet after that CES showing.

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'How we're addressing misleading apps in Windows Store'
By special contributor jockm on 2014-08-28 22:18:51

Microsoft has explained that they have removed more than 1500 apps from the store.

Every app store finds its own balance between app quality and choice, which in turn opens the door to people trying to game the system with misleading titles or descriptions. Our approach has long been to create and enforce strong but transparent policies to govern our certification and store experience. Earlier this year we heard loud and clear that people were finding it more difficult to find the apps they were searching for; often having to sort through lists of apps with confusing or misleading titles.

[...]

This process is continuing as we work to be as thorough and transparent as possible in our review. Most of the developers behind apps that are found to violate our policies have good intentions and agree to make the necessary changes when notified. Others have been less receptive, causing us to remove more than 1,500 apps as part of this review so far (as always we will gladly refund the cost of an app that is downloaded as a result of an erroneous title or description).

The upside is that the store becomes a better, less cluttered and misleading place; the downside is that the walled garden is stronger. Is a top down approach really what we want, or is there a a better, community driven, approach that could be taken?

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Genode 14.08 introduces new GUI architecture
By special contributor nfeske on 2014-08-28 19:00:14

The new Genode version 14.08 extends the graphical abilities of the framework to the level of flexibility expected from a general-purpose OS. In contrast to contemporary GUI stacks, Genode approaches the problem from the angle of maximizing security. This premise led to a fairly unique design. Further highlights of the new version are a new port of OpenVPN, an upgraded DDE Linux, vast performance improvements of the base-hw kernel, and networking for VirtualBox on top of the NOVA microhypervisor.

It goes without saying that a flexible and dynamic GUI stack is needed for a general-purpose operating system. Since Genode strives to become such a system, this problem had to be covered at some point. The starting point was the existing nitpicker GUI server, which is a secure multiplexer for the physical display and input devices. Regarding widget sets, the framework already featured a few custom graphical applications talking directly to nitpicker, and came with support for Qt and libSDL. However, there was a missing link between the low-level nitpicker GUI server and the applications, namely a window manager and desktop environment. The open question was how to maintain the rigid security provided by nitpicker while also supporting sophisticated window management, visually appealing window decorations, and customizability.

The solution took the Genode team more than a year to fall into place. At its core, it is a clever combination of small components that use existing Genode interfaces and facilitate two features unique to Genode: the virtualization of arbitrary OS services and the sandboxing of each individual process. The solution that comes with the new release adds merely 3000 lines of code to the trusted computing base of graphical applications while enabling advanced dynamic GUIs. The complex parts of the GUI such as the rendering and behavior of window decorations and window-layout management are stuffed away in sandboxes so that those complex (and potentially bug-prone) parts cannot compromise the privacy of the user. In fact, the security of the GUI stack does not even depend on a correctly working C runtime. So its attack surface is orders of magnitude smaller compared with commodity OSes. Of course, the current version is just a step on the road towards an integrated desktop environment but now, in contrast to one year ago, the path to walk on is clear.

Besides addressing the GUI stack, the new release comes with an updated execution environment for device drivers of the Linux 3.14.5 kernel. Thanks to DDE Linux, Linux subsystems such as the TCP/IP stack and the USB stack can be executed directly on the microkernels supported by Genode. The primary motivation behind the update was ongoing work on bringing the Intel wireless stack to Genode.

Functionality-wise, the highlights of the new release are a new port of the OpenVPN client that can now be used as Genode component, added networking support for guest OSes running in VirtualBox on top of NOVA, the use of multiple processors by the Seoul virtual-machine monitor, and the addition of pluggable file systems. Those and many more topics are covered in the detailed release documentation.

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An awful week to care about video games
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-08-28 18:59:38

What an awful week for the culture that surrounds and influences video games.

That's putting it very mildly. The people responsible for all of this - like the people who threatened a critic of the portrayal of women in games with physical/sexual violence - should be sent to jail. Especially the 'Kevin Dobson' character should probably be locked up in a mental institution for life.

Especially the treatment of women in the gaming industry - whether on-screen or off-screen - is absolutely horrible. As an n=1 social experiment, I often pretend to be female in my League of Legends matches, and the kind of shit you get thrown at you when you do so is disgusting.

I can shake it off because I'm actually not female - but I shudder at the thought of not being able to do so.

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Pre-release BlackBerry Passport review video
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-08-28 09:24:24

Via CrackBerry:

It would seem as though the floodgates have REALLY opened up on the BlackBerry Passport and the device is popping up all over the place. This time around, to go along with the typical photos of the device, mobilenet.cz has given the BlackBerry Passport a look in a 28 minute long video, along with putting its camera and video camera to the test.

Almost 28 minutes of Passport goodness - in Czech, which you may not understand. However, even without knowledge of the Czech language, that's still 28 minutes of Passport goodness. I really, really want this device.

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What happened to Motorola
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-08-27 22:56:53

Getting outflanked by tech upstarts, hacked in two by a fearsome corporate raider, and finally taken over in part by a Chinese company that exists largely because of the world Motorola made for it: Such a fate would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. Motorola was then one of America's greatest companies, having racked up a stunning record of innovation that continually spawned new businesses, which in turn created enormous wealth. Motorola had the vision to invest in China long before most multinational companies. It even developed Six Sigma, a rigorous process for improving quality that would be embraced by management gurus and change the way companies nearly everywhere operate.

However, as the history of many giant corporations (Lehman Brothers, General Motors) shows, great success can lead to great trouble. Interviews with key players in and around Motorola and its spinoffs indicate that the problems began when management jettisoned a powerful corporate culture that had been inculcated over decades. When healthy internal competition degenerated into damaging infighting. "I loved most of my time there," says Mike DiNanno, a former controller of several Motorola divisions, who worked at the company from 1984 to 2003. "But I hated the last few years."

Very detailed in-depth look at the rise and fall of Motorola.

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