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5Oct/11Off

iOS 5 goes public on the 12th of October

Most Apple fans have mixed feelings after yesterdays press conference, mainly because intead of iPhone 5 Apple will serve a slihgtly updated iPhone 4S. But fear not, iOS 5 and iCloud are coming soon. Scott Forstall did not say much about the new system itself, but we know when it arrives in iDevices: 12 of October. Golden Master release has already been released for developers.

Most important features of the new iOS:

  • Notification Center (non-disruptive notifications)
  • Reminders (time and location based)
  • iMessage (instant messenger for all iDevices)
  • WiFi sync (no need for cables anymore)
  • Newsstand (for those who like reading newspapers on iPad)
  • split keyboards (great for thumb-typing on iPad)
  • AirPlay mirroring for the iPad 2 (and for iPhone 4S too)
  • Siri voice recognition (for iPhone 4S only)
  • Wireless activation (no need for iTunes)
  • OTA iOS updates

iCloud storage will provide a free 5GB (which is now a de facto standard for most personal clouds - same as Windows Live Mesh and Ubuntu One). The most important feature is however automatic push synchronistation between all iDevices.

1Oct/11Off

MSE identifies Chrome as malware

I have encountered a problem during an automated update of Chrome today: Microsoft Security Essentials has reported that Chrome browser contains PWS:Win32/Zbot. MSE alert causes the update to fail. Google has already responded to the problem and posted on the official Chrome blog. The solution is to update the definitions of Microsoft Security Essentials to version 1.113.672.0 or above.

22Sep/11Off

Keep your PCs and Intel Macs in sync

Windows Live Mesh

Windows Live Mesh

Windows Live Mesh is not a completely new product - the ability to sync files between multiple computers has been available for several years already - Microsoft offered different products to allow this very useful functionality (Windows Live Mesh Beta, Windows Live Sync and Windows Live Toolbar). The current iteration is called Windows Live Mesh and is a part of Windows Live Essentials 2011. This app is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. The program will allow to sync multiple folders on up to 30 (thirty!) computers. You can also sync your files to SkyDrive cloud storage, which offers 5 GB of free space in the cloud (extended from previous 2GB just like Ubuntu One).

Functionality of Live Mesh is quite similar to forementined Ubuntu One, but also has some differences: in order to sync files between two computers using Ubuntu One, these files must be synced to the cloud first, whereas in Live Mesh this is only an option. Files can be synced directly between computers without the need to copy them to the cloud storage. Live Mesh also allows RDP remote access between all computers linked to a Live ID. "Remote" feautre has to be enabled first. Once you do, you will be able to remotely access your PC, even if it is behind a NAT. No port forwarding or any setup is necessary.

There is one disadvantage of Windows Live Mesh: it does not support the legacy Windows XP and Server 2003 (installer fails with "not a valid Win32 application" error).

20Sep/11Off

Metro style apps in Windows 8

It seems that Microsoft has learned a lesson from Google and Apple. The new Metro UI is very simplistic - just like iOS or Android. Don't get me wrong though: Windows 8 interface is very different from competitor's mobile OS. It is however based around similar concepts. The new GUI is very easy to use, either with mouse or fingers (unfortunately  I couldn't test the touch control myself, so I believe the people who did). Animations are smooth and simple, without too much bling. UI elements like buttons and text fields are large enough for touch control, which also serves another purpose: it removes clutter from applications, making them easy to use.

Overall feelings are very positive. Metro feels fresh, easy and is something new, instead of being a copy of Android or iOS. Metro has already been available on Windows Phone for some time, but I think it will do fine not only on mobile devices: Metro looks just as good on a Full HD TV!

PS. Metro requires at least 1024 x 768 resolution.

19Sep/11Off

Windows 8 Developer Preview likes netbooks

Important: On February 29th, 2012 Microsoft has released Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I have already tested it - check this post to read more about the new Windows 8 beta.


Information below is true for earlier Windows 8 Developer Preview

Last weekend I have installed the Windows Developer Preview 32-bit on my Acer Aspire One netbook.

Before I could install Win 8 on my Aspire One I had to replace the tiny and slow 8 GB SSD drive with a 60 gigs HDD from an old media player. I have then restored my Ubuntu from a ghost4linux backup onto the new drive. Then, booting from an Ubuntu live CD I have used GParted to resize the linux partition, and then created another empty ntfs partition in preparation for Windows 8.

Installation went smoothly and without any issues. Windows Installer has matured over they years and the amount of information requested from user is minimal. I could not tell any difference from Windows 7 installer, so I assume this is one and the same. Please mind that this Developer Preview does not run on VMware, and that the Windows 7 bootloader will not boot Windows 8. It is however possible the other way around. Linux GRUB can also be used for multiboot purposes.

Notes:

  • When you click "Start", Metro UI shows up (it's the one from Windows Phone 7 and Windows Media Center),
  • Metro Apps require at least 1024 x 768 resolution. Metro Apps will not start on a 1024 x 600 netbook!
  • Windows 8 can use cloud authentication - you can use your Live ID to log on to the system,
  • Developer Preview is unstable enough to let you see the new BSOD with the large ":(" symbol,
  • System takes about 9 gigabytes on the hard drive after installation.
  • All hardware is supported out of the box. The only driver I had to install was for Intel GMA945 (I have used driver package for 32-bit Windows 7)

The new OS runs quite smoothly on my netbook. This is how it looks on an Acer Aspire One:

PS. Unfortunately EVE Online requires SM 3.0 card now, so I couldn't test how it runs on this hardware. The game did start, but just after going fullscreen it dropped back to the desktop with the "Shader Model 3.0 required" message.

16Sep/11Off

Windows 8 Developer Preview doesn’t like VMware

Important: On February 29th, 2012 Microsoft has released Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I have already tested it - check this post to read more about the new Windows 8 beta.


Information below is true for earlier Windows 8 Developer Preview

BSOD when starting Windows 8 on VMware Server 2.0.2

BSOD when starting Windows 8 on VMware Server 2.0.2

If you have just downloaded the Windows 8 Developer Preview, which is available in 32 and 64 bit flavours from microsoft.com website, you might have run into trouble running it on VMware products. I was unable to boot the installer on both VMware Player and VMware Server 2.0.2, each try ended with HAL_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error on the new, pretty BSOD.

Users report that the same problem happens on MS Virtual PC 2007. It is possible to run Windows 8 on the current version of Oracle VirtualBox 4.0.12. I have managed to installl the 32-bit Developer Preview without any issues with the following settings:

  • OS: Other/Other Unknown
  • RAM: 2048MB
  • CPU: 2 Cores, VTX enabled
  • HDD: 24GB
Windows 8 installer on Virtualbox 4.0.12

Windows 8 installer on Virtualbox 4.0.12

Windows 8 login screen

Windows 8 login screen

5Sep/11Off

Ubuntu 11.10 coming this October

On 1st of September Beta 1 of the new Ubuntu was released on the Ubuntu releases website. This build is a big leap forward since the last time I tested the new Ubuntu.

Unity & Unity-2D

  • Unity Greeter is now the default login screen.
  • Dash has been improved a lot since 11.04. A mechanism similar to Windows 7 Libraries is now in place and is calles Lenses (Application Lens, Files Lens, Music Lens). The Dash button has been moved from the top ribbon to the to of the Unity launcher, which provides more streamlined experience.
  • Windows controls (min, max, close) are now hidden by default and are only displayed on mouse-over. This reminds of the EVE Online GUI, which also had this feature introduced at around 2008.
  • Alt-Tab switcher made it back (there has been a great alt-tab switcher in Compiz, which has been missing since introduction of Unity) and now displays previews of windows contents, even those minimized.
  • The rightmost shutdown icon has been changed to include a small gear, so it suggests there is "settings" menu hidden under it.
  • Messaging and login buttons have been merged to "Messaging menu" which now includes all messaging applications, social websites, mail and status updates.

By default, if 3D acceleration is not available, Ubuntu 11.10 will now fall back to Unity-2D (instead of GNOME in 11.04). Unity-2D also contains most of the upgrades of its 3D-enabled counterpart, including Lenses and new Dash. If you don't like Unity at all, it is still possible to install GNOME 3.1.4 from the Ubuntu Software Center.

Software

By default, the new Ubuntu delivers the following software:

  • Kernel 3.0.0-9.15
  • Firefox 7.0 beta 3
  • Thunderbird 7.0 beta 1
  • Nautilus 3.1.4
  • LibreOffice 3.4.2
  • Gedit 3.1.4
  • Totem 3.0.1
  • Banshee 2.1.3
  • Empathy 3.1.5.1
  • Shotwell 0.11
  • Gwibber 3.1.6
  • Transmission 2.33
  • Deja Dup 19.90

The next milestones for Oneiric are as follows:

September 22nd - Beta 2 Release
October 6th - Release Candidate
October 13th - final Ubuntu 11.10

PS. If you already have Ubuntu 11.04 and would like to upgrade your exisiting system to the current beta release, run this command:

sudo do-release-upgrade -d

Please mind that this is still a Beta, so it can be unstable. I am not responsible for any damage this causes to your system.

PS. II Development branch is currently very unstable, some processes die for no reason; there are multiple bug reports on launchpad, so think twice before installing the current build on a production system.

28Jul/11Off

iPhone rapidly discharges battery

Hanged background process to blame?

I become worried with the battery life of my iPhone over the past four days. Out of a sudden, the battery of my phone would become half-drained just after 12 hours of standby, which would indicate that the battery is dying and needs to be replaced. On the fourth day I did not connect the phone to the charger overnight, and the battery was drained completely by the following morning.

I have connected the phone to its charger and booted it. To my surprise battery life is now back to normal and the phone UI is not sluggish anymore. It seems, that there was some process running continuously in the background. iPhone 3G has no multitasking, so it had to be one of the native iOS background processes. I have not restarted nor completely discharged my phone for over half a year now, so the system uptime was quite long.

What does it mean for iPhone users?

Restart your phone now and then - memory leaks and bugs in the iOS might surface after extended uptime.

Model: iPhone 3G (2 gen.)
OS: iOS 4.2.1 (not jailbroken)

18Jul/11Off

iOS 4.3.4 deployed, jailbreak already available

Apple has adressed the hole in PDF viewer, and an update has been released for the following devices:

  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4 (GSM)
  • iPod Touch 3gen
  • iPod Touch 4gen
  • iPad
  • iPad 2

There are no other changes in the patch description.

It is also already possible to jailbreak iOS 4.3.4 using Pwnage Tool. Details are available here.

15Jul/11Off

About jailbreak and bias

Cydia front page

Cydia front page

Thanks to @musclenerd (who linked this on twitter) I have recently read this text about how jailbreak is bad, and how jailbreakers are all criminals. To put it simply, I don't like when someone, who has no idea about a topic, writes with such a bias and confidence.

But let's be fair and review all the points mentioned in said text.

  1. "a major company decides to lockout a tiny percentage of its customer base for the greater good of all other users" Of course, every company has the right to ban user from accessing their service, if said user does not follow the license agreement. But is it really for the greater good? Is it a coincidence, that the author of the Mobile Notifier has been hired by Apple? If Apple was so dedicated to eradicate jailbreakers, why hiring one of them? Apple knows, that jailbreaking community is a source of innovation, and a field trial for new, unstable features.
  2. "get underneath the iPhone’s operating system, hack it into something different entirely, and use their iPhone as less of a tool and more of a tinker-toy for their geek hobbyist fantasies." sorry, but as far as I know, modifying phones, cars, tools is peoples own choice. Did they pay for their iPhone? Yes. That gives them right to do anything with it, including microwaving it or dropping from height. Or jailbreaking. Of course, some of these actions will void the warranty, and majority of jailbreakers accept this fact.
    On a sidenote, another major smartphone manufacturer, the HTC company allows their users unrestricted access to tinker with software of their phones. This made the company very successful, and a dedicated community of developers is creating ROM images, programs and tweaks, which increase the base functionality of their phones. See XDAdevelopers.com.
  3. Their agenda is clear: they consider iPhone users who don’t hack their iPhone to be “in jail” and must be freed. This "jail" is nothing more than disallowing the administrator access to iOS (to defend Apple's busines model, but thats another story). Mac's for example don't have such a restriction and users have free access to root account.
  4. "Apple Stores flooded with mainstream users whose iPhones are no longer reliable, usable, or comprehensible" this is the risk of people who jailbreak their device. These people more often than not, know what they are doing, and thus they know about the risk. Jailbreak can almost always be removed by restoring to a stock software package.
  5. "stealing pay-for features like tethering without paying for them" stealing tethering? Didn't the user pay for the data plan? Yes. So it's their right to use that data plan, tethered or not, because they paid the operator for the data transfer. Only a handful of mobile operators in the world put an additional charge for enabling tethering in their terminals. The majority don't care about how their users use the data plan as long as they paid for that plan.

It seems, that the author of the mentioned text fails to understand what jailbreaking is, what is it used for, how the jailbreaking community works, that there is world outside of AT&T, and that there is a percentage of people in the world, who are innovative, creative and know how to improve stock software.

PS. I have been running jailbroken iOS on my previous iPhone (2G) for quite a while, because I had to unlock it (so I could use it outside of US), and to enable features like MMS messaging and a few others.