jrepin points out a discussion with Richard Stallman in which he talks about how the Free Software movement is faring in light of companies that have been successful in the long term with very different principles, like Microsoft and Apple. Stallman had this to say: "I would say the free software movement has gone about half the distance it has to travel. We managed to make a mass community but we still have a long way to go to liberate computer users. Those companies are very powerful. They are cleverly finding new ways to take control over users. ... The most widely used non-free programs have malicious features – and I’m talking about specific, known malicious features. ... There are three kinds: those that spy on the user, those that restrict the user, and back doors. Windows has all three. Microsoft can install software changes without asking permission. Flash Player has malicious features, as do most mobile phones. Digital handcuffs are the most common malicious features. They restrict what you can do with the data in your own computer. Apple certainly has the digital handcuffs that are the tightest in history. The i-things, well, people found two spy features and Apple says it removed them and there might be more. When people don’t know about this issue they choose based on immediate convenience and nothing else. And therefore they can be herded into giving up their freedom by a combination of convenient features, pressure from institutions and the network effect."
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zacharye writes "While some see potential in Microsoft's Surface tablet, most industry watchers appear to have written off the device at this point. Orders were reportedly cut in half following a slow launch, and Microsoft's debut slate has been hammered time and time again by reviewers and analysts. The latest to pile on is Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton, which estimates that when all is said and done, Microsoft will have sold fewer than 1 million Surface tablets in the slate's debut quarter." Still better than 25,000.
snydeq writes "A growing trend faces business executives traveling to China: government or industry spooks stealing data from their laptops and installing spyware. 'While you were out to dinner that first night, someone entered your room (often a nominal hotel staffer), carefully examined the contents of your laptop, and installed spyware on the computer — without your having a clue. The result? Exposure of information, including customer data, product development documentation, countless emails, and other proprietary information of value to competitors and foreign governments. Perhaps even, thanks to the spyware, there's an ongoing infection in your corporate network that continually phones home key secrets for months or years afterward.'"
PolygamousRanchKid writes with news the Nokia is looking to generate some cash by selling its headquarters and leasing it back from the new owner. The sale price for the 48,000 sq. meter building is €170 million. "The struggling mobile phone company has operated in the glass and steel building in Espoo near Helsinki, known as Nokia House, since 1997. The sale is another step towards reducing costs and concentrating on its core business. Nokia has spent almost a third of its cash reserves in 12 months, and in October had about €3.6bn left in the bank to turn itself into a smartphone manufacturer capable of competing with Apple and Samsung."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google Android's dominance of the smartphone space has been reinforced by a new IDC study that places its market-share at 68.3 percent, well ahead of iOS at 18.8 percent. But which version of Android is most preferred by users? A new set of graphs on the Android Developers Website offers the answer to that question: 'Gingerbread,' or Android versions 2.3 through 2.3.7, dominates with 50.8 percent of the Android pie. 'Ice Cream Sandwich,' or versions 4.0.3 through 4.0.4, is second with 27.5 percent, with the latest 'Jelly Bean' build at 6.7 percent. As demonstrated by that graph on the Android Developers Website, there are a lot of devices running a lot of different versions of Android out there in the ecosystem, all with different capabilities. In turn, that could make it difficult for Google to deliver 'the latest and greatest' to any customer that wants it, and potentially irritates those customers who buy a smartphone (particularly a high-end one) expecting regular upgrades." Here's how Slashdot readers using Android break down: 31.0% Jelly Bean, 31.5% Ice Cream Sandwich, 0.7% Honeycomb, 22.8% Gingerbread, 4.3% Froyo, 1.1% Eclair, 0.05% Donut, 0.02% Cupcake, 8.5% unknown. Looks like you folks are ahead of the curve. iOS breaks down like this: 67% iOS 6, 28.6% iOS 5, 3.2% iOS 4, 0.5% iOS 3, 0.7% unknown. (These numbers include more than just phones, of course.) Overall, our iOS traffic (8.74%) is higher than our Android traffic (6.75%). Windows Phone and BlackBerry both clock in at about 0.2%.
theodp writes "Don't believe everything Steve Jobs and Tim Cook tell you, advises The Verge's Sean Hollister. Gunshy of touchscreen laptops after hearing the two Apple CEOs dismiss the technology (Jobs: 'Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical.' Cook: 'You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user.'), Hollister was surprised to discover that Windows 8 touchscreen laptops actually don't suck and that the dreaded 'Gorilla Arm Syndrome' did not materialize. 'The more I've used Windows 8, despite its faults, the more I've become convinced that touchscreens are the future — even vertical ones,' writes Hollister. 'We've been looking at this all wrong. A touchscreen isn't a replacement for a keyboard or mouse, it's a complement.' Echoing a prediction from Coding Horror's Jeff Atwood that 'it is only a matter of time before all laptops must be touch laptops,' Hollister wouldn't be surprised at all if Apple eventually embraces-and-extends the tech: 'Microsoft might have validated the idea, but now Apple has another chance to swoop in, perfecting and popularizing the very interface that it strategically ridiculed just two years ago. It wouldn't be the first time. After all, how many iPad minis come with sandpaper for filing fingers down?'"
An anonymous reader writes "When I was younger, engineering and science offices didn't have computers yet. It was the tradition: Piled Higher and Deeper desks, and overloaded bookcases. I ended up doing other things, and haven't been in a regular office for a couple of decades. Now I'm older, spending a lot more time with the screen, and finding my aging butt and back aren't as pliable for the long hours of reading papers. And while looking at rather expensive chairs, etc for a solution, what I'm remembering is we used to be able to lean back, feet up, while reading the stapled print-outs — makes a change from hunched-over writing and typing. So I'm what wondering is this: Are We There Yet with tablets? You guys would know — What makes a good tablet for reading, sorting, annotating, and searching PDFs, etc? Hardware and software — what tablets have gotten this really right?"
CWmike writes "In the fast moving world of technology, there are perhaps few things that have proved as resistant to change as the simple SMS text message. While a dizzying number of options exist today to interconnect people, the text message remains a 160 character deliverer of news, gossip, laughs, alerts, and all manner of other information. It connects more people than Facebook and Twitter, has brought down governments, and in so much of the world still holds the ability to change lives. Dec. 3 is the 20th anniversary of the sending of the first SMS text message. Its origins can be traced back to a Danish pizzeria in 1984. Matti Makkonen, a Finnish engineer, was in Copenhagen for a mobile telecom conference and began discussing with two colleagues the idea of a messaging system on the GSM digital cellular system."
nonprofiteer writes "This is a crazy story. An FBI agent put spyware on his kid's school-issued laptop in order to monitor his Internet use. Before returning the laptop to the school, he tried to wipe the program (SpectorSoft's eBlaster) by having FBI agents scrub the computer and by taking it to a computer repair shop to be re-imaged. It somehow survived and began sending him reports a week later about child porn searches. He winds up busting the school principal for child porn despite never getting a warrant, subpoena, etc. The case was a gift-wrapped present, thanks to spyware. A judge says the principal has no 4th Amendment protection because 1. FBI dad originally installed spyware as a private citizen not an officer and 2. he had no reasonable expectation of privacy on a computer he didn't own/obtained by fraud."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft's Surface Pro boasts one feature that could rapidly become an Achilles Heel, especially if Microsoft intends for the device to compete against Apple's iPad and a host of lightweight Google Android touch-screens. In a Nov. 29 Tweet to a customer, the official Surface Twitter feed claimed: 'We expect it [Surface Pro] to have approx. half the battery life of Surface with Windows RT.' That means Surface Pro will have roughly four hours of battery life. That's roughly half the battery life (if not less) of Apple's various iPads, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Research In Motion's PlayBook, Hewlett-Packard's now-cancelled TouchPad, and Motorola's all-but-forgotten Xoom. In other words, pretty much every tablet currently on the market. Nor can the Surface Pro compete with other tablets on price. The 64GB version of the device will retail for $899, with the 128GB version coming in a little higher at $999."
dryriver sends this quote from a BBC report: "Imagine treating your phone like a piece of paper. Roll it up. Drop it. Squish it in your backpack. Step on it — without any damage. Researchers are working on just such handsets — razor-thin, paper-like and bendable. There have already been prototypes, attracting crowds at gadget shows. But rumors abound that next year will see the launch of the first bendy phone. Numerous companies are working on the technology — LG, Philips, Sharp, Sony and Nokia among them — although reports suggest that South Korean phone manufacturer Samsung will be the first to deliver. Samsung favors smartphones with so-called flexible OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology, and is confident that they will be 'very popular among consumers worldwide.' Their screens will be 'foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than conventional LCD technology,' says a Samsung spokesperson.'"
nk497 writes "Dell's 'Project Sputnik' laptop is now on sale. The XPS 13 Developer Edition comes with Ubuntu 12.04 pre-installed, and costs $1,549 — $50 more than the same model running Windows. The Ubuntu Ultrabook is the result of a skunkworks project to optimise the open-source OS to run on Dell projects, to create better laptops for developers. The idea of the project was to create a laptop for developers, based around 'the idea that developers are the kings of IT and set the agenda for web companies, who in turn, set the agenda for the whole industry,' Dell said." Reader skade88 points out a positive review from Ars Technica.
cryptoz writes "Cumulonimbus has released a new version of their open source, global barometer network. The network is built around an Android app called pressureNET which uses barometric sensors in new phones (such as the Nexus 4, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S3, Note, and others) in order to build the comprehensive network. They plan to use the data to improve short-term weather prediction, and the gives a teaser of the new data visualization tool they are building."
jfruh writes "Automakers are striving mightily to bring their in-dash systems into the modern age, providing integration with smartphones and other advanced features. The problem: while smartphones go in and out of vogue every few years, modern cars have lifespans of a decade or more. Add in the fact that many (though not all) manufacturers have no plans to allow software upgrades to their systems, and you might end up driving a car with a fancy in-dash computer system that's completely useless for much of the time you own it."
theodp writes "Forget about 'snow days' — the kids in the Lake Washington School District could probably use a few 'virus days.' Laptops issued to each student in grades 6-12 were supposed to accelerate learning ('Schools that piloted the laptops found that students stayed engaged nad [sic] organized whiel [sic] boosting creativity,' according to the district's Success Stories), but GeekWire reports that a computer virus caused havoc for the district as it worked its way through the Windows 7 computers, disrupting class and costing the district money — five temporary IT staff members were hired to help contain the virus. Among the reasons cited for the school district's choice of PCs over Macs were the proximity to Microsoft HQ (Redmond is in the district), Microsoft's involvement in supporting local and national education, and last but not least, cost. In the past, the Lake Washington School District served as a Poster Child of sorts for Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group."