Category: Software

Handbags drawn at dawn as Page snarls at Oracle lawyer

pearl-harborGoogle founder Larry Page had a handbags at dawn exchange with Oracle’s lawyer over the use of Java in Android.

Oracle is trying to screw billions out of Google for using Java applets in the construction of Andriod. Google said it  believed that the intellectual property was free for anyone to use.

Larry Page, chief executive of Google’s parent company, told jurors the Google unit said it should be able to use Java without paying a fee under the fair-use provision of copyright law.  If he loses then the software industry will grind to a halt as trolls feed on anyone who used a line of cost which was similar.

Page, whose vocal cords have been affected by a previous medical condition, spoke quietly into the microphone. “Sorry I’m a little bit soft,” he said to jurors.

Oracle attorney Peter Bicks sharply questioned Page about the importance of Android to Google’s business, pointing to documents noting billions of dollars in revenue, as well as earnings transcripts in which Page said 700,000 Android phones were “lit up” every day.  Things got a little testy when Page with his sore throat was asked to repeat stuff he had already said.

“Yes, I already testified I think Android is significant to Google,” said Page, who testified for about a half hour.

Bicks asked Page if Google paid Oracle for the use of Java, which was developed by Sun Micro systems in the early 1990s and acquired by Oracle in 2010. He said when Sun established Java it was open source.   Bicks asked the same question again and Page snarled that Google did not  pay for the free and open things.

Under questioning from Google attorney Robert Van Nest, Page said Google’s use of Java was consistent with widespread industry practice.

“I think we acted very responsibly and carefully around the intellectual property issues,” Page said.

Tame Apple Press reports that Apple Music is bad

a8a442ac275a36c2da0b85a42b625225The writing appears to be on the wall for Apple Music after one of Jobs’ Mob’s cheerleaders the New Yorker dismissed the Apple Streaming service as “bad.”

To put this into perspective, the article has the headline “Why Apple Music is so bad when the iPhone is so good,” thus providing Jobs’ Mob with a free advert for its self-reverential out-of-date iPhone.

The writer Om Malik’s theme is that Apple can either create great software, or great hardware but when the two need to work side-by-side, like with Apple Music, the result is pants.

“Apple has always been, and always will be, a hardware-first company. It produces beautiful devices with elegant designs and humane operating-system software,” he enthuses without any trace of irony that might otherwise rescue his reasoning.

Malik then makes the very good point that Apple releases two versions of the same hardware a year and this makes sense but it also applies the same refresh programme to software. As a result its software is nearly always out-of-date and unable to cope with the fast adapting software scene.

He said that Apple’s corporate DNA is that of a hardware company, its activities are meant to support hardware sales. For example, its “Made with iPhone” advertising campaign talks up the iPhone’s camera, and thus drives up hardware sales.

“All of Apple’s services, iCloud, Apple Music, Apple Photos, iMessage, exist to support the sales of phones, tables, and laptops. The executive team, the sales machine, and the manufacturing, software, and services components are all locked into the hardware schedule.”

He added that it was daft that the Apple Music update needs to be revealed at the World Wide Developers’ Conference.

“Why should Apple Music have to wait for the conference to make usability fixes when Facebook and Google, and every Internet-services-oriented company, does this on a routine basis?”

Malik describes a hardware company which is trying to be a software company and failing. In much the same way that Microsoft tried to be a hardware company and balls that up.  But what is more interesting from the New Yorker article is that while the premise is obvious, the fact that someone who is blindly an Apple fanboy is saying it.

Apple fanboys are having a tough time of things lately. Not only is their faith tested by the fact that Jobs’ Mob is failing to attract interest, they also have to cope with the fact that they are no longer seen as the industry innovators. Coupled with this, poor programming and software design is making the rather elderly designs look buggy.

In the past, Apple fanboys would never complain, instead they held fast to the reality distortion field even when their Apple Macs were catching fire. All that is starting to change, as Apple’s grip over its follows starts to slip. Without any inquisition, a new messiah, or at the very least good products with good software, we can see more of this coming.

The iPhone 7 will be another good test of this faith.  So far it appears to have little in the way of innovative technology and will look the same as the disappointing iPhone6S. If it contains the same rubbish software that we are being seen coming out of Apple with its Apple Music then that particular cash cow might as well be sent to the meat works.


Windows 10 now schedules its own update

windows-10-start-menu-customised-live-tilesSoftware King of the World Microsoft’s malware-like upgrade system is becoming even more intrusive by auto scheduling upgrades to Windows 10.

Over the weekend my wife’s Windows 8.1 machine started to get a note that it has already scheduled an update for May 24. Looking at the screen it is difficult to cancel the scheduled upgrade or to change the upgrade date.

It is not impossible, so Vole is not forcing you to upgrade on that date, but it is still annoying. However it is also possible that she might forget to stop it in time and it will upgrade when we least expect it.  The Goddesses’ computer runs fairly slowly at the best of times, and even an ordinary update takes hours.

To be fair it is better to upgrade now anyway. The free upgrade officially expires on July 29. However there is an element of “I don’t want to be told what to do”.  Besides the Goddess reacts badly to things changing on her PC and it may involve raising eyebrows or the tapping of feet.  Someone will pay, particularly if her Firefox shopping tabs are deleted.

Hopefully after July 29, Microsoft will deactivate its system upgrade system as it is a PR disaster of biblical proportions.


Google names new language software Parsey McParseface

71popSearch engine Google appears to have had some trouble naming its new language parsing model and dubbed it Parsey McParseface.

For those who came in late the name is similar to “Boaty McBoatface” which was the name the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) was stuck with for its research submarine after it had a brilliant idea to let the internet decide the name.

In Google’s case it came up with the name itself. Jason Freidenfelds, a global communications representative for Google, told the Observer that the software was pretty good stuff.

“Language understanding is the next big uncracked nut in AI. If we can really solve natural language, it’ll improve everything from the Google app (understanding your questions as well as the meaning of all the text in the world), to Inbox (suggesting smart replies), to products yet to be invented.”

“We were having trouble thinking of a good name, and then someone said, ‘We could just call it Parsey McParseface!’ So… yup,” Mr. Freidenfelds said.

Parsey McParseface parses a sentence.

Although it sports a silly name, Parsey McParseface is the most sophisticated model out there. In terms of accuracy, it closes in on 96 to 97 percent accurate, which beats the previous record of 94 percent – or so it’s claimed.

The model is part of the overall framework SyntaxNet and will be released on TensorFlow.  Now, developers and researchers are able to run machine learning on more than one machine simultaneously, shortening the training process for some models from weeks to hours.

Just a pity about the name.

Microsoft dumps wi-fi sense

wifisense-100594691-primary.idge_Software king of the world Microsoft has decided that no one is really interested in its Wi-Fi Sense service.

You know that a service is not doing well when reporters have to look up what it is supposed to do, before writing a story saying it had been canned.

Wi-Fi Sense is a service mostly used on Windows phones (strike one). Once users enable the service, it allows them to seamlessly share internet Wi-Fi hotspots and passwords with their friends and contacts (strike two). Wi-Fi Sense has never really been promoted by Microsoft, despite its huge potential, and many users likely disable it or ignore it due to a lack of information on it (strike three).

Microsoft’s Gabe Aul said is a statement said that the cost of updating the code to keep the feature working combined with low usage and low demand made it not worth further investment.

The announcement was made in the release notes for Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14342 which removed the service from the operating system completely. Those users running devices with it still installed will still be able to use it though but in a limited capacity.

“Wi-Fi Sense, if enabled, will continue to get you connected to open Wi-Fi hotspots that it knows about through crowdsourcing,” says Aul.


Microsoft to start charging for Windows 10 soon

Windows 10Microsoft is soon to start charging for Windows 10 and after  29 July Windows 10 Home will cost $119.

According to the Windows bog, more than 300 million devices have activated Windows 10, which is more than enough of a head start for the company to feel comfortable charging for Windows once again.

If you get new gear the cost of Windows will be built in, but if you want to upgrade an existing device or buy a copy to install on a new machine, you’ll have to fork over some cash.

We’ve known from the beginning that Windows 10 would only be free for the first year and 29 July marks the one year anniversary.  It might be a good idea if you want to make the transition you should set aside a day in the next couple months to upgrade.


Thunderstorm hits Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware

live_tv_windows_10Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware is making a public idiot of the company and rendering the software customers have paid for unfit for the purpose.

The latest public humiliation of the company happened during a live TV weather forecast. Instead of the weather map that the television station KCCI wanted, the screen was full of a demand that meteorologist Metinka Slater upgrade to Windows 10 immediately.

Slater was busy trying to warn the good and the bad citizens of Iowa about thunderstorms rolling through Iowa, which was a little more important than a software upgrade.

“Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10. Gosh, what should I do?” Slater asked the viewing public.  Upgrading to Linux instead perhaps? Certainly a TV company can’t risk being seen as being that unprofessional ever again.

Microsoft is increasingly alienating people from its Windows 10 operating system with these sorts of antics. Forced upgrades of any sort are a pain.  We know this because even after you upgrade to Windows you are forced to upgrade on demand even when you do not have enough disk space.  Windows 10 wants to upgrade itself every morning and fills up our hard drive and then insists that it needs 5GB to install itself which the SSD slave drive does not have.

Frankly we hope that the TV Company sues Microsoft, because there does not seem to be any way to make the company understand that nagware on legitimate paid for software is just wrong.

Apple Macs stuffed-up by old Git

oldguyAnother bombshell has dropped on the Fruity Cargo Cult Apple’s poor security in its expensive Macs.

Jobs’ Mob’s software genii have apparently not bothered to upgrade the version of Git which comes bundled with OS X versions.

Git allows developers to manage source code repositories, keeping track of code changes from version to version. But the version in El Capitan is so old it exposes users to two possible attacks.

Security expert Rachel Kroll discovered that El Capitan comes bundled with Git 2.6.4. and the vulnerablities were found in  all Git versions before 2.7.3.

The two vulnerabilities are heap-based buffer overflows, allow attackers to execute malicious code on the machine. The attacker can use the malicious code hidden in the repo to launch an attack on the Mac, compromise the system, and take control of the user’s device and all the Mac user’s Coldplay collection and pictures of their mum and cats will be vulnerable.

There is no way to fix it either. The bundled Git version can’t be updated without breaking Git support.

Writing in her bog Kroll wrote: “If you rely on machines like this, I am truly sorry. I feel for you. I wrote this post in an attempt to goad them [Apple] into action because this is affecting lots of people who are important to me. They are basically screwed until Apple deigns to deliver a patched git unto them.”

Oracle and Google refuse to settle

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884Oracle’s moves to ask silly money from Google for the Java APIs in Andriod will see another long court case as the database maker has refused to cut a deal.

The pair have said that they have failed to settle a long running copyright lawsuit over the Android operating system ahead of a retrial scheduled for May.

The case involves how much copyright protection should extend to the Java programming language, which Google used to design Android. Oracle is seeking billions in royalties for Google’s use of some of the Java language, while Google said that it should be allowed to use Java without paying a fee.

At a trial in San Francisco federal court in 2012, the jury was deadlocked on Google’s fair use defence. Both companies participated in a court-ordered settlement conference on Friday before a US magistrate in San Jose, California, in an attempt to stave off retrial next month.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and Oracle CEO Safra Catz both attended, but talks were unsuccessful, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal wrote in a brief statement.

“After an earlier run at settling this case failed, the court observed that some cases just need to be tried. This case apparently needs to be tried twice.”


All roads lead to Chrome

firefox-on-chromeThe big cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation appear to think that the rival Chrome is the future.

Senior VP Mark Mayo has announced that the Firefox team is working on a next-generation browser that will run on the same technology as Google’s Chrome browser.

Writing in his bog, he said that his team were working on browser prototypes that look and feel almost nothing like the current Firefox.

“The premise for these experiments couldn’t be simpler: what we need a browser to do for us – both on PCs and mobile devices – has changed a lot since Firefox 1.0, and we’re long overdue for some fresh approaches.”

Dubbed Tofino, the project will not use Firefox’s core Gecko technology in favour of Electron, which is built on the technology behind Google’s rival Chrome browser, called Chromium.

Since he posted his blog Mozzarella Foundation has blocked the project for a year. Possibly because punters were mortified that Google’s Chrome could end up powering Firefox.

Mayo said that he should have been clearer that Project Tofino is wholly focused on UX explorations and not the technology platform. We said that he was working with the Platform team on technology platform futures too, and was excited about the Gecko and Servo-based futures being discussed.

However it seems that Electron might not be going away.  Mozilla has announced a new project called Positron which takes the Electron API and “wrap it around Gecko.”  The idea is that it takes the guts out of Chromium and gives it to Gecko, of course this is not the same thing at all.