Gnome 3.14 has been released

in linux on (#2SWS)
story imageGnome 3.14 has been released, six months after the last version. Sporting "new features and bug fixes, and 28859 changes by approximately 871 contributors," install this new version to enjoy:
  1. a new weather panel
  2. support for captive portal (wifi hot spot authentication)
  3. multi-touch features
  4. household network connection sharing
  5. support for online picture-sharing sites
  6. improvements to the evince PDF reader
... and more.

[Ed. note.] I've never seen release notes that look they were put together by a website designer and marketing agency. What happened to a bunch of bullet points in ASCII posted to Usenet? These release notes are "gorgeous."

Microsoft staff cuts extend to Silicon Valley research lab

in microsoft on (#2SVB)
story imageAs Satya Nadella's axe continues to fall at Microsoft,
the corporation's Silicon Valley research lab has been the next to succumb to the severe round of staff reductions ongoing this year.
In a move that appears to reflect a new level of urgency to Nadella’s consolidation plans, the Redmond giant has closed one of its flagship engineering facilities and released dozens of world-class scientists into the job market – and the welcoming arms of its competitors. The Mountain View site reportedly employed a team of 75 that focused exploring new applications for distributed computing – the fundamental concept behind the cloud – in areas such as natural language search, data privacy and network security.

But although the lab itself is no longer operational, Microsoft is still clinging to its Silicon Valley research investment. Projects that were ongoing at the time of the termination have been transferred to other research facilitates along with key members of the original team, which indicates that business will continue more or less as usual at those sites for the foreseeable future.
While the cuts were met with stockholder approval, there's speculation Nadella's staff reductions are a strategy of short term gains that will jeopardize the corporation's long term prospects.

RedHat looks to mobile apps with purchase of FeedHenry

in linux on (#2STT)
story imageIn a move to compete on the mobility front, Red Hat Linux is acquiring FeedHenry for about US$82 million. The enterprise mobile application platform provider essentially makes it possible for Red Hat to support mobile application development in public and private environments.

From ConvergedDigest:
FeedHenry, which is based in Waterford, Ireland, helps enterprises to accelerate mobile app backend integration via private clouds, public clouds, and on-premises systems with connectors and plug-ins to common enterprise systems such as, SAP, Oracle, etc. The FeedHenry platform offers developers the flexibility to create native (Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry), hybrid, HTML5 or web apps. The platform supports a wide variety of popular toolkits including native SDKs, hybrid Apache Cordova, HTML5 and Titanium, as well as frameworks such as Xamarin, Sencha Touch, and other JavaScript frameworks.

FeedHenry was founded in 2010 as a spin out from the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group at the Waterford Institute of Technology.
Seems like good news for mobile platforms based on FOSS technologies. Or is this just RedHat trying to stay relevant in a world where operating systems matter less than web services and mobile access?

Monday poll: first computer system you used

in ask on (#2SR5)
By popular request, a new poll is up: What was the first computer system you used? As usual, it's hard to list everything, so use the comments section if your first system isn't on the list. Use the comments as well to describe the context of the happy memories from those (probably) simpler times.

And yes, it's a multiple choice poll this time, so you can only choose one, even if you used your VIC-20 to hack into a DataGeneral mini from which you launched DOS attacks on the school mainframe, or whatever.

PHP6 abandoned, going straight to PHP7

in code on (#2SPM)
In 2005, work began on a project headed by Andrei Zmievski to bring native Unicode support to the language by embedding the International Components for Unicode (ICU) library and internally representing strings as UTF-16. Because this project would lead to major internal and user-affecting changes, it was planned to be the next major PHP version (i.e. version 6) along with a few other features.

By using UTF-16 as default encoding, developers would need to convert the code and all input (e.g. data from requests, database, etc.) from one encoding to UTF-16 and back again. This conversion takes a lot of CPU time, memory (to store the much larger strings), and creates a higher complexity in the implementation due to the increased need to detect the proper encoding for the situation. In light of all of this and the relatively small gain, many contributors became unwilling to use "trunk" as their main development branch and instead either using the stable 5.2/5.3 branches or refusing to do development at all. This shortage of developers led to delays in the project.

In 2009, PHP 5.3 release with many non-Unicode features back-ported from PHP6, most notably namespaces. This became the widely used, stable version of PHP, and in March 2010, the PHP6 project was officially abandoned, and instead PHP 5.4 was prepared containing most remaining non-Unicode features from PHP 6, such as traits and closure re-binding.

Why Jump to PHP7?

After a vote in July of 2014, it was officially decided that the next major release would be called PHP7. The primary reason for even considering the name is the widely-known existence of the previous failed attempt of a new major release, and the existence of numerous books and other resources which already referred to the previous PHP 6. To address potential confusion, there was an RFC (i.e. request for comments) and a vote on whether or not to reuse this name.

Read the rest at the Halls of Valhalla.

Your poll ideas! Please pipe up.

in ask on (#2SNY)
It seems our polls remain active for about 3 days before getting no new votes or comments, so maybe we'll move to two polls a week: one on Monday and a second one mid-week after the first one quiets down. Could use some suggestions and contributions - what shall we poll? Typical categories involve polls about user preferences, opinion about the site, and polls about something that's just happened in the news. But let's be creative.

Your suggestions here - and we'll run them over the next coming weeks, starting Monday.

KDE rumored to be focusing now on simplicity

in linux on (#2SNV)
story imageKDE has always been full of tons of configuration options. And the KDE team has remained somewhat stalwart in defending that approach even as the Gnome3 project decided their mantra would be "simplify, simplify, simplify."

Suddenly, at least one journal is reporting the KDE developers are reconsidering that approach and deciding they'll simplify too.
KDE usability team lead Thomas Pfeiffer posted on the future roadmap of the KDE user interface and user experience on his blog. While he acknowledges that the great power and flexibility that comes with KDE Plasma and associated applications is the main reason behind its huge fanbase, in his opinion these are also the reasons why newbies get intimidated by the overwhelming number of features exposed at one place.
Developer Thomas Pfeiffer is behind the statement, having posted on his blog: "Anything that makes Linux interesting for technical users (shells, compilation, drivers, minute user settings) will be available; not as the default way of doing things, but at the user’s discretion.” In the design vision and principles section of the KDE HIG, we condensed and evolved this goal into a simple guiding principle: Simple by default, powerful when needed."

[Ed. note: I've got a bad feeling about this.]

Friday Distro: Trisquel GNU/Linux

in linux on (#2SKF)
story imageAhoy there. Let's say you'll be wantin' a Linux distro that's been blessed by his ownself the Grand Admiral of the GNU revolution, Richard Stallman. Arrr. And supposin' you can't abide by the wretched bilge that's binary blobs infectin' yer own GNU/Linux system, foisted upon ya by the likes of those lowly bastards Adobe and NVidia, whose scurvy, un-transparent and despicable rot goes against your very bein'. Well then, you'll be wantin' to make sure yer own good ship Linux hoists the latest version of Trisquel GNU/Linux, and smartly at that.

Off with ya then, to the grimy bastards at Distrowatch, with some right fine background for ya. Trisquel hails from Spain, a piratin' and thievin' port of call if ever there was one. Arrr. But they've chosen what's proper over what's easy. Turn away if you've got an Nvidia graphics card, or if ya can't stand the likes of a distro based on the latest Ubuntu. Trisquel is a fine lookin' ship if ever I've laid my eyes on one, hoistin' aloft clean versions of LXDE, XFCE, and KDE desktops, but believe you me when I tell ya they've been stripped bare of any software that isn't cut from the purest, GPL cloth. I sailed that ship in a virtual machine while hittin' no reefs, aaar, but I do reckon if your hardware isn't the plainest of vanilla, you may find it chafes your britches when you install 'er.

That said though, avast, she's a smart little distro, she sails a beaut, and she's right easy on the eyes, if I do say so myself. As for the package selection, aaar, when I'm at the tiller and the mainsail's drawin' wind, most of the packages I use I found sittin' sweet as a lily in the repos. Your own position at sea might be affected, though, if you find yerself needin' something exotic.

I myself am as pure as the next Linux captain, who be supportin' the cause of throwin' all those lily-livered binary blobs in the brig. But not if it means I can't sail my ship. That's why you won't be findin' this pirate sailin' Trisquel myself. But if ideological purity be yer cup-o-rum, well then, aaaarrr: raise the plank on Trisquel, and may fine winds be at yer back. Drop in at the Trisquel tavern where you can break yer jaw askin' yer questions, and tell 'em Captain Zafiro17 sent ya, like the devil himmself. Aaaar haar haar har har har.

New poll: mobile devices I own/use

in ask on (#2SJ5)
By popular request, a new poll: "mobile devices I own/use." Include members of your family if you want to, and add anything I've forgotten in the comments. This list got unwieldy fast as there are so many vendors and models, and even some overlap in classification. So if you've got something interesting, or are simply still using your classic old Palm Pilot, Nokia dumbphone, Psion 5mx, and Zaurus, go ahead and tell us about it.

The poll is right here ------>

[Ed. note: there ya go, AC: instant gratification, Pipedot style. I notice our Monday polls have typically petered out by about Wednesday anyway; maybe we'll go to two polls a week if we can think of some subjects. I have a hard time coming up with new polls. Also: this is a test of linking to individual comments using shortcodes.]

Apple releases iOS8

in apple on (#2SH1)
Apple released the 8th version of its popular iOS operating system today, and as far as this editor can tell, the entire Internet experienced a collective nerdgasm. Every major tech site is either reporting on it, speculating on it, or promising sneak previews of hitherto undisclosed features.

Apple themselves are calling iOS8 "the biggest update ever." So we turn to the Register, who gives us a more precise list of new features:
IOS 8 can automatically filter, straighten and crop snaps, and it eases the process of sharing photos and others files with people ... will record time-lapse videos, if you want. And the iOS Messages app will be updated to include location info, video and voice records, and self-deleting vids, apparently. ...
The update will also include the HealthKit personal monitoring API that was seen at WWDC back in June. Other features include supposedly better predictive typing for the on-screen keyboard, and Siri apparently works better with getting information from maps and news. Not all the features will be available in all countries, however. Siri's ability to reserve restaurant tables, for example, will only be offered to people in North America when the OS launches. And, of course, the update will use the iPhone 6 smartphone and 6 Plus' NFC hardware as a cash substitute thanks to Apple Pay. That service is supported by many of the largest banks and credit card companies – although third-party app makers are frozen out of the party.
So what say you P8rs? Is this a revolution in pocket computing, or a marginal update to existing features? Or something in between?