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Google app suite costs as much as $40 per phone in the EU
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-10-19 19:56:30

After news earlier this week that Google was going to make sweeping changes to how it licenses Android within the European Union, The Verge now has the prices Google is going to charge.

EU countries are divided into three tiers, with the highest fees coming in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands. In those countries, a device with a pixel density higher than 500 ppi would have to pay a $40 fee to license Google's suite of apps, according to pricing documents. 400 to 500ppi devices would pay a $20 fee, while devices under 400 ppi would pay only $10. In some countries, for lower-end phones, the fee can be as little as $2.50 per device.

That's quite a bit more than I would've thought.

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High-res graphics on a text-only TRS-80
By special contributor Feneric on 2018-10-19 19:04:08

From the Byte Cellar:

What inspired me to pull the Model 4 down off the shelf were a number of tweets from telnet BBS pals showing the system being put to great use logged into various systems across the web. Some of the screenshots showed the machine rendering ANSI "graphics" onscreen and I looked into it. As I suspected, the stock Model 4 is not capable of taking on a custom character set such as is needed by ANSI emulation, and I discovered the system had been equipped with a graphics board and the ANSI-supporting terminal program, ANSITerm, was rendering "text" to a graphics display; the character set was basically a software font.

And I just had to go there.

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Tim Cook demands Bloomberg retracts spy chips story
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-10-19 18:58:18

Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with BuzzFeed News, went on the record for the first time to deny allegations that his company was the victim of a hardware-based attack carried out by the Chinese government. And, in an unprecedented move for the company, he called for a retraction of the story that made this claim.

I have zero reason to believe anything Apple or Tim Cook says on this matter. Apple is utterly and wholly dependent on the Chinese government, and assuming the Bloomberg story is 100% accurate, I doubt Tim Cook would openly side with Bloomberg and thus openly attack the Chinese government. Xi Jinping can literally make or break Apple - the American company cannot build its iPhones anywhere else, as not only would it take an utterly massive hit in its margins, it would take years - possibly even decades - to train the amount of staff needed to build that many iPhones. Apple simply has no choice but to bend over backwards for the Chinese government, which is why Apple readily hands over all of its Chinese customers' data to the Chinese government.

That being said, this doesn't automatically mean the Bloomberg story is 100% accurate. I don't believe in crazy conspiracy theories - conspiracy theories are dumb - about coordinated leaks by the Trump administration to discourage American companies from building their products in China. The Trump administration is wholly and utterly inept at doing anything and is held together only by a common desire to oppress women and minorities and sack America before the curtain falls, so I doubt they could even arrange a single secret meeting with Bloomberg journalists without Trump incoherently tweeting about it or somebody resigning over it.

The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, and only time will tell where, exactly, that middle lies.

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Arcan versus Xorg: approaching feature parity
By special contributor Frank Schmidt on 2018-10-19 18:41:47

Arcan is a display server++ project that has been mentioned on OSNews a few times before. Arcan's developers recently posted an in-depth comparison of Arcan to Xorg - claiming to soon be not only at feature parity but beyond it.

It is worthwhile to stress that this project in no way attempts to 'replace' Xorg in the sense that you can expect to transfer your individual workflow and mental model of how system graphics works without any kind of friction or effort. That said, it has also been an unspoken goal to make sure that everything that can be done in an Xorg environment should be possible here - in general there is nothing wrong with the feature set in X (though a bit limited), it is the nitty gritty details of how these features work, are implemented and interact that has not really kept up with the times or been modelled in a coherent way. Thus, it is a decent requirement specification to start with - just be careful with the implementation and much more can be had to a fraction of the code size.

A fascinating read if you are familiar with some of the technical difficulties here.

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Ubuntu 18.10 released
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-10-18 21:42:31

Ubuntu 18.10 has been released.

The Linux 4.18 kernel together with updates in Mesa and X.org significantly improve game performance. Graphics support expands to AMD VegaM in the latest Intel Kabylake-G CPUs, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, B+ and Qualcomm Snapdragon 845.

Ubuntu 18.10 introduces the GNOME 3.30 desktop and Yaru, the new community-developed default theme. Fingerprint unlock functionality is featured for compatible PCs and the latest versions of Firefox, LibreOffice, and Chromium are included.

The full release notes are also available.

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OpenBSD 6.4 released
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-10-18 21:39:06

We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 6.4. This is our 45th release. We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of more than twenty years with only two remote holes in the default install.

As in our previous releases, 6.4 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system.

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Facebook under fire as US officials back removal of Zuckerberg
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-10-17 22:49:24

Three state treasurers and a top official from New York have joined a shareholders' motion to install an independent chairman at Facebook, claiming the move would improve governance and accountability.

[...]

The move comes as Facebook was presented with a new legal challenge. The technology company has been accused of misleading advertisers by inflating the viewing figures for videos on its site.

A group of US advertisers launched a fraud claim against the social media giant on Tuesday, stating that it had overstated the average viewing time of advertising videos on the site by between 100 and 900pc before reporting them in 2016.

All tech companies are pretty terrible as far as companies go, but Facebook really seems to be going out of its way to lead the pack. As far as I'm concerned, we shut it down. Would anyone really miss it?

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Interface Hall of Shame: QuickTime 4.0 Player
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-10-17 22:45:42

Let me take you back to 25 May, 1999.

One look at QuickTime 4.0 Player and one must wonder whether Apple, arguably the most zealous defender of consistency in user interface design, has abandoned its twenty-year effort to champion interface standards. As with IBM's RealThings, it would seem that appearance has taken precedence to the basic principles of graphical interface design. In an effort to achieve what some consider to be a more modern appearance, Apple has removed the very interface clues and subtleties that allowed us to learn how to use GUI in the first place. Window borders, title bars, window management controls, meaningful control labels, state indicators, focus indicators, default control indicators, and discernible keyboard access mechanisms are all gone. According to IBM's RealThings, and apparently to Apple, such items and the meaningful information they provide are merely "visual noise and clutter". While the graphical designer may be pleased with the result, the user is left in a state of confusion: unable to determine which objects are controls, which are available at any point in the interaction, how they are activated, where they may be located, and how basic functions can be performed.

Looking back, QuickTime 4.0 Player really signaled the end of proper GUI design at Apple. Up until that point, Apple had refined what became known as Platinum to a T - it was a beautifully consistent, logical, easy to use, and pleasant to look at UI. After introducing the world to 'brushed metal', Apple slowly slid downhill - and they've never been able to recover.

Fascinating to look back and read articles such as these, almost 20 years later.

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The new Palm is a tiny phone you can't buy separetely
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-10-17 00:12:00

There's a new phone with the word "Palm" on it that's tiny, intriguing, and has very little to do with Palm beyond that word printed on the back. It comes from a startup in San Francisco, which purchased the rights for the name from TCL last year. It costs $349.99 and will be available in November, but you can't go out and buy it on its own. It's only available as an add-on to a current line. Also, Steph Curry is somehow involved.

This is a rather interesting little device, as it seems one of the very phones focusing on being a small device that gets out of your way instead of trying to draw you in. I honestly don't understand the business model, though - who's going to buy a second $350 phone you can only get when you buy your primary phone? This seems doomed to fail, even though I'm sure there are quite a few people who'd love to buy a relatively cheap, well-designed full Android phone that isn't a surfboard.

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elementary OS 5 Juno released
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-10-17 00:08:14

Elementary OS, a rather interesting Linux distribution with a very heavy focus on usability, has released its latest release.

elementary OS is made up of two main parts: the "desktop" which includes the core user experience, look and feel, and system pieces; and the apps that come with the OS out of the box. elementary OS 5 Juno includes major updates across several of these core apps.

Elementary OS is sometimes regarded as the macOS of the Linux world, as it aims to pretty much streamline and hide all the less user friendly aspects of using Linux to higher degree than even systems like Ubuntu or Linux Mint. They also consider design a central aspect, which does seem to bear fruit - Elementary looks incredibly attractive.

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