Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

Android, iOS – who stole from who?

The obvious answer is – who cares? But Apple fan-boys seem to like to gloat that any smartphone design (or at least any design moderately successful – nobody is looking at Symbian) is a “rip off” from the iPhone, while Android fan-boys1 point out may cases where iOS designers “shamelessly” “got inspired” by Android features such as the pull-down notifications, seamless multi-tasking, “share” functionality, personal Wi-Fi hotspot, untethered syncing (iCloud in Apple’s lingo) and more.

So everyone copies from everyone else – that’s how a market should behave: if one product comes up with a better idea, then it is only expected that other products can build on that idea – and sometimes do it better. And don’t get me started on the patent thing – patents allow an inventor to protect the technology and implementation of a specific idea, it does not give one a monopoly on ideas (even though many today try to use the patent system like that).

The question that, I think, is more interesting to ask is – who is more willing to play this game and who treats idea as their sole domain and exclusive property?

The answer, not coming as a surprise to anyone, can be found in Apple’s founder new biography: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, as reported by AP review of the book set to be available tomorrow, here are some choice quotes (taken from AP’s review):

Jobs told Isaacson in an expletive-laced rant that Google’s actions amounted to “grand theft.”

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

Jobs told Schmidt [Google’s CEO at the time] … ” I want you to stop using our ideas in Android”

(more…)

  1. of whom I am a card carrying member, I’ll admit []

Suddenly I’m Less Worried

About my next Android phone: Google Buys Motorola Mobility (for $12.5B).

This deal is very good for me, as a consumer of high-end smart phones, for several reasons: one reason is the more obvious patent issue: the Google smart phone OS has come under fire from competitors (mostly Apple) in a host of patent lawsuits, though none of them actually targeted Google itself: the main advantage of Android is its availability to any small manufacturer – which enabled the amazingly rich ecosystem that is the Android world, but its also its main disadvantage as competitors can target “small fish” for their patent extortion, companies that are too small to afford a real legal battle. Google wasn’t in a good position to help defend their OEMs or developers, and I believe this is what they were trying to do with their Nortel patents bids, that didn’t come through – but they had an ace in their sleeve: even as the Nortel business was going on, Google was probably already deep in negotiation with Motorola Mobility that hold a portfolio of around 18,000 patents and patent applications – compared with Nortel’s paltry 6,000 patents. With this arsenal, and once the deal comes through1, expect Google to come out swinging.

But as I mentioned – this is only part of why I’m happy about this deal. The second, and likely more important reason as I will be looking for a new phone at about early 2012, is that I think Motorola Mobility is one of the best makers of Android running hardware – if not the best. They definitely have the market in keyboard slider phones, which is the kind I’m using. The problem is, I’m a power user – I like to use the latests and best software available and the whole point of having a small computer (read: user programmable device) in your pocket – is the ability to install and upgrade whenever something new comes out (about every couple of months). And this is where Motorola devices fail me: Motorola like to keep a lock down on any user modifications to the phone’s operating system and their devices are notoriously hard to mod – installing a new firmware on a Motorola phone is a dangerous game of “will it brick?”.

Motorola has come out with promises of freeing up the phone “bootloader” (the part of the phone’s firmware that makes sure you don’t install “unauthorized” software) but so far we haven’t see any results. I have hope that under the new ownership, Motorola Mobility developers will find it easier to keep to this promise and allow us power users to buy hardware on which we can run whatever Android-based operating system we want.

  1. supposedly by early 2012 – these things take time []

Mandatory Access Control And Malware

After listening to the virtus/malware discussion on LUG Radio’s new (but apparently one-off) show (check it out at lugradio.org, these guys are hilarious), got me thinking about how much Linux users are exposed to malware.

Lets forget, for the sake of the discussion, the technical attacks1 as these are relatively easy to handle and Linux operating systems are already pretty well protected against such. The main vector of attack for malware these days is Social Engineering anyway – this is how Mac OS-X users get attacked by malware: you browse a web site, and an image that looks like a a blinking dialog box notifies you that your computer has been infected by a virus and prompts you to download this “fix”.

Most of us, technically inclined users, sneer at this type of “threat”, but most people aren’t technically inclined and there are enough people out there that will be fooled by this practice time and time again. Click the image and a binary gets downloaded to your computer and if it is in the correct format it will get executed.

(more…)

  1. Such as buffer overflows and such []

For all the people who have waited patiently, CentOS 6 is here

After a long long time in the making, rumors of abandonment and general discomfort in the community, the CentOS people have finally pulled through and bring you the brand new (though by now several months old) CentOS 6.0.

A lot of system administrators have been waiting for this (me included) so I thought I’d give a heads up 🙂

Same old Microsoft, at Nortel’s patent sale dispute

As reported on Reuters and Techcrunch, Microsoft is claiming that the sale of bankrupt Nortel’s 6,000 patents to Google (or any other successful bidder) is unfair under the current sale terms that allow the buyer to not carry current licenses to the patents.

Microsoft is understandably concerned, as they currently hold a “perpetual, royalty-free” license to all patents (which means that if the buyer doesn’t get to re-license with existing license holders, then they won’t get any more money from Microsoft on these patents), but what I’m ranting about is not their legitimate concern, but their attempt to color this as “unfair” – quips Techcrunch:

Microsoft says that’s unfair. And while they don’t specifically mention Google, it seems pretty clear who they’re thinking about when they write that a termination of existing licensing agreements “would result in considerable disruption in the development and enhancement of various existing technologies and give the prospective purchaser an unfair competitive advantage”.

This may be unfair, but Microsoft has done this exact same thing in the past, including the very near past where immediately after buying Skype, and just a few days after Microsoft promised that Skype will continue to be offered on non-Microsoft platforms, the “Skype for Asterisk” product was terminated disallowing Digium to sell any more Skype integration module for their successful (and open source) VoIP solution1.

Obviously this is a move perpetrated to allow Microsoft’s competing VoIP product (Lync) an unfair competitive advantage by offering features that Digium can no longer offer – not because of technical issues but because Microsoft will not allow it.

Taking that into account, Microsoft claiming the sale of this patents to Google is unfair is just the pot calling the  kettle black.

Enhanced by Zemanta
  1. I know that technically they did not stop supporting the module – just not allowing any new sales, but they also put a deadline to stop supporting the Skype-Asterisk integration module: it will not work past July 2013. Cutting this any sooner would have netted Microsoft/Skype a serious law suite so obviously they did the worst they could get away with []

The reason why I don’t use Firefox anymore

Is because my laptop only has 2GB of memory.

OK – it sounds worse then it is, but with normal use Firefox is simply way too heavy for my – not too shabby – Thinkpad T61 Core2 Duo T7250 @ 2GHz with 2GB RAM. Its not a stellar machine by today’s standard by its less then 3 years old and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be able to run a modern browser.

But with both Evolution (that requires a couple hundreds MB of memory) and Eclipse (at ~ 600 MB memory) I can’t also run Firefox which with just a few tabs open takes up close to 1GB of physical memory (and tons of virtual). My system just comes to a standstill, and lets not talk about running – oh, I don’t know – a terminal!

So I’m using Chromium and while its developer tools are not as good as Firebug, at least it doesn’t hog up all my RAM and with a few dozen tabs open my system is still pretty responsive.

It may be the process separation in Chromium that is better, allowing the operating system to swap out completely tabs that are not used. I’ve heard some talk about having the same thing for Firefox (project electrolysis – though at this point it seems to be focused on the Fennec mobile browser) and I do hope they get on with it because Firefox’s memory consumption has grown in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years and unfortunately my computer’s memory has not grown with it :-(.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Things that have no place in the 21st century:

Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right

Its the first annual catholic conference on “Geocentrism1, where you’d find interesting lectures such as “Scientific experiments showing the earth motionless in space” and “Geocentrism: they know it by they’re hiding it”.

Brilliant, and just when you though its safe to walk outside.

Thanks to Skepticality, some brave fools are going to go there, possibly armed with t-shirts proclaiming their heliocentric beliefs. I probably would have put out something like “Galileo was right but all I got was this lousy t-shirt”. Or something.

Enhanced by Zemanta
  1. The second worst thing after “flat earth” – those heliocentric, Copernicus worshiping fools are wrong and the earth is the center of the universe []

Did you hear that the iPhone 4 was released?

It includes some breakthrough technologies such as “Video Conferencing”, so say Wired in their feature post Apple Unveils High-Resolution, Videoconferencing [sic] iPhone 4.

It again boggles the mind, how Apple takes on a well known feature of existing products, tacks a bastardized version of it on a new revision of their product, and everyone hails at how innovative they are…

Here’s the Wired quote:

iPhone 4 includes a front-facing camera and support for videoconferencing with other iPhone 4 users, via a feature called FaceTime.

Here’s what I can do today with my 3 years old Ericsson P1i, my Nokia E-whatever or my fiance’s $20 Nokia (as well as about half of Nokia phones released in the last 8 years or so), and many other phones from other manufacturers:

  • Above mentioned phones include a front-facing camera and support video conferencing with any other phone that supports standard 3G video calls, on any 3G network.

Also, apple announced their own video conferencing protocol (the so called “FaceTime”), as discussed in ReadWriteWeb:

That’s what Apple aims to do with the introduction of FaceTime. The awkwardly named protocol could be implemented by all major handset manufacturers so that consumers could perform video calls as easily as we perform voice calls today.

There is only one problem with that statement: there is already a standard protocol for video calls – as mandated by the cellular industry’s leading standard body, 3GPP: the 3G-324M protocol, was developed jointly with ITU (the telecom industry governing body for standardization) and is implemented in virtually all video call capable cellular telecom devices.

Now here’s a video:
(more…)

A New Fedora Release – Worse Than Ever?

[Regarding the title – well, probably not]
I’ve migrated from Ubuntu 10.04 to Fedora 13 on my laptop (because Ubuntu 10.04 was released to the public, so its not interesting to run it anymore 😉 ) and I’ve just finished listening to The Linux Action Show review of Fedora 13 and I wanted to relate to that and to my experience of using Fedora.

The Linux Action Show review is useful, and good, but its not really fair – Chris and Bryan ranted on a lot of things that do not work well for Fedora, such as not a lot of applications pre-installed and some new and immature applications being introduced, Flash being hard to install, codecs missing and obscure instructions on Fedora’s wiki pages on how to address these issues, and more.

The thing is, is that all those comments are fair when looking at an operating system that is geared towards the general public – like Ubuntu – but Bryan and Chris themselves mentioned that Fedora is not aimed at that crowd but is meant for power users and developers (the debate about what is the target audience for Fedora is raging – I think the best description I heard so far, is from Máirín Duffy – heading Fedora’s design team – where in an interview she said “Fedora is aimed at people who want to work on Fedora).

(more…)

The sorry state of mail user agents

I’ve been moaning on and off about how much e-mail clients, or more specifically – “personal information managers” – simply suck. All of them – there isn’t one client software that is useful in all aspects.

I mean – if you are a simple e-mail user: have one account with which you send a few emails, receive a few e-mails and sometimes forward something to your list of friends – then you have several good options including a few web-mail systems.

If, on the other hand, you are more serious in your communication requirements and you need to:

  • Work with multiple e-mail accounts and manage them separately but with the option of moving stuff between accounts.
  • Connect with MS-Exchange (still most companies in Israel use MS-Exchange for their groupware backend)
  • Work with multiple mailing lists with different policies and different internal filing requirements
  • Keep all your past communications for reference
  • Inter-operate with multiple shared calendaring systems, and specifically with other people’s calendars in a heterogeneous environment (some people do not believe there are e-mail clients other then MS-Outlook)
  • Do all this on multiple computers so that e-mail, address books, calendars and what-not are transparently available on all computers
  • Use Linux as your computing platform of choice.

Then you are basically out of luck. The Linux requirement is not that of a problem really (contrary to what many people keep saying when they nag me about moving to MS-Outlook) as the situation isn’t really better in Windows or Mac except that you can’t get Evolution to work there and theoretically Evolution could provide what I need.

(more…)


Spam prevention powered by Akismet