All posts by Shirondale Kelley

About Shirondale Kelley

Just an enthusiast that loves to sample and tinker with what the tech world has to offer.

Onyxphone-2

Here comes Onyxphone, an Ink Phone made for reading

Have a need for a phone that is focused more on reading consumption than multimedia use? Look no further, Onyx Midia may have you covered with their Onyxphone. The device features a 1 Ghz Rockchip processor, 512 MB of ram, an 1,800 mAh battery. The OnyxPhone is a 4.3″ phone that uses an energy saving e-Ink screen instead of the LCDs, OLEDs and other technologies that dominate the selected screen technology of smart and feature phones today. It also doesn’t use a hybrid E Ink/LCD strategy like the Yotaphone, it’s pure E Ink only.

You will sacrifice color and fast refresh rates so be prepared to say goodbye to videos and many games on this device. That’s not to say that this idea is bad or crazy, in fact I believe it to be the opposite. It’s a brilliant invention for people that primarily uses their cell phones to consume text but may often be annoyed at how often they may need to charge their devices.

Onyxphone is a hybird of smartphone and eReader. We have not forget about our main goals. If you choose our device you will get smart eBook reader that gives you possibility to calling, sms texting and web connection. – Onyx

(They’re a Chinese company, their translations may not be the best but are more than sufficient)

Very often our modern smart phones may have disappointing battery life. six hour to two day battery life has become the accepted range. A modern smart phone that lasts for two days isn’t bad at all but in another light it could be seen as disappointing. How? Many of the devices it replaces (terrestrial phones, cameras, books, computers, mp3 players, address books, flash lights, etc) traditionally lasted longer before needing maintenance or charging. Now you would be hard pressed to find a more versatile and useful device than the modern smart phone, but we could still hope for other interpretations of that device that helps to fill lost niches and types of uses.

Low-end Android phones may struggle to hit the lower end of that range while a semi-tablet like the Galaxy Note is praised for being able to run for a couple of days. Looking at all that these devices enable today, they’re right. It’s a technological marvel to have a 5″ device that is always connected to the internet, able to allow for communication in a myriad of ways while being more powerful than 6th, and very soon 7th, Generation game consoles (GCN/PS2/Xbox).

It’s nearly obscene that we have so much power and versatility in our pockets yet it’s our reality. Even so, maybe this tech overshoots the needs of some users. Not everyone cares for watching Youtube on the go or looking at pictures. In fact, how many of us just use our phones as a convenient way to read online sites like this one, ebooks or any other form of text(ing)? For those type of uses, color isn’t needed. The modern smart phone is arguably a cellular enabled tablet, but how much longer will that near monopoly last?

Getting back to the main point, the OnyxPhone reveal, it seems like a good idea that is limited by current technology unfortunately. According to Engadget the ebook functionality is smooth but normal phone navigation is beyond sluggish. The specs are low (still partially undefined) and the monochrome screen will be off-putting to the mainstream users. Instead of destroying this concept for what it isn’t, it’s very thrilling because of what it is and for what it may be a prelude to. There is on-going work to develop color e-ink screens, that will be a game changer for future iterations as well as dedicated e-readers. A faster cpu, more ram and more OS customization (it runs Android, and yes it can sideload apks) would make this a very useful and cheap device.

Imagine a color e-ink screen, a more fluid user interface, improved reader-focused features and a solid calling and texting experience – all on a device that only needs to be charged every two weeks. I very rarely stream video and wouldn’t miss the feature on a phone like this. I make heavy use of Digg Reader, Comixology, Nook, Pocket, Wikipedia and many other apps that would benefit greatly from an improved reading experience. I’d happily use an ereader phone in place of the current status quo devices if it could perform its’ reading and communication jobs at an equally high level of quality. The OnyxPhone is that first step, let’s hope that Onyx or others will be fit to see this through to the end.

Source: Onyx via Engadget”

Image Courtesy of Crytek

CryEngine native Linux support arrives before Steam Machines

During presentations and hands-on demos at Crytek’s GDC booth, attendees can see for the first time ever full native Linux support in the new CRYENGINE. That’s wonderful news for Linux gamers. Not only is another high profile game engine announcing support for Linux, but they’re actually going to allow people to play demo’s with the ported engine. It’s fairly remarkable that they’re demoing this tech at GDC, the annual Game Developer’s Conference. They must intend to show the industry the stability of their work so that more studio’s can have confidence in the cross-platform support for CRYENGINE.

In addition to the engine being demoed, some of the talks about the evolution of the engine (rendering, physics, lighting, etc) will include a look at Ryse. Ryse is an Xbox One launch game that initially wowed people with its’ technological prowess. The game itself received mixed reviews, but the tech behind it helped enable the developers to capture the attention of reviewers and early adopters.

Warface and The Collectables will be shown off at their booth as well. Warface is an online shooter that’s made accessible via a web browser. Despite running through a browser, it is very comparable to a locally installed title in performance and complexity. It’s free-to-play and doesn’t require beefy specs at all. It handles most of the heavy processing via online servers, it is a great showcase for the type of experience that CRYENGINE can help to provide.

cryteck_collectables

The Collectables is a tactics-based, top-down shooter for Android and iOS that will be released later this year. Yes, it’s running on the CRYENGINE also. Based upon how versatile the engine appears to be, it was only a matter of time before it was released for linux.

Source: Crytek via Phoronix

Partha Das also contributed to the story

google-music

Google offers 60-day free trial of Google Music All Access for Chromebook owners

Google is offering 20 millions songs to select Chromebook users for free, instantly. That “select” choice of Chromebook owners would be any user that is both in All Access’s market and hasn’t already tried the music streaming service out yet. The access will be free for 60 days, after that there will be regular subscription.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the service, All Access is Google’s competitive response to Pandora and Spotify. Their hook on the streaming music game is that in addition to streaming music that you’ve uploaded, Google will create and stream music based upon a song that you select from their catalog. They call the auto-generated playlists “stations” and will playback music, both uploaded and foreign, by the user that in theory should be similar to what they’ve already selected.

Normally Google offers a 30 day free trial to anyone that hasn’t tried All Access yet, the offer for Chromebook users is a doubling of that trial. It makes plenty of sense, the people most likely to become subscribers should be those that deeply entrench themselves in Google’s ecosystem while limiting their local storage options a bit. Users aren’t required to stream or access everything via the cloud on Chromebooks, but it is strongly encouraged via the Chrome OS and local storage limits.

The offer and service aren’t bad ideas, they’re actually fairly genius. Speaking from personal experience, All Access is fairly accurate in its’ music selection and has introduced me to music that I may have never considered before. It seems that Google is hoping to gain more subscribers by integrating more deeply into its’ users lives in a fairly unobtrusive manner. It’s likely to succeed if users become accustomed to the service, hence the extended trial time for Chromebook users.

mate_1_8_ubuntu_theme_preview

MATE 1.8 is finally released

It took the developers nearly a year but their work on the familiar, yet ambitious, MATE desktop is finally stable and available for everyone to use. MATE is a complete desktop environment that was forked from the Gnome Project (Gnome 2 to be exact) nearly 2 years ago. The decision to fork came at a time when a significant amount of Gnome 2 users were displeased with Gnome 3, the next major iteration and core of the Gnome Project.

Below is the list of major updates in MATE 1.8 as originally shown here.

Caja (file manager)
Added option to use IEC units instead of SI units
Added “Open parent location” option in context menu in search view

Marco (window manager)
Added side-by-side tiling (windows snapping)

Panel
Added support to run dialog and main menu opening with metacity keybindings
Show a progress bar in logout dialog

Control center
Added support for Metacity as window manager

MATE Desktop library
Added MATE User Guide
Added mpaste tool for paste.mate-desktop.org

Eye Of MATE (image viewer)
Added shuffle mode in slideshow

Engrampa (file archiver)
Show always the “extract to” action in caja extension

Screensaver
Show date and time in lock dialog

Applets
Added undo functionality to sticky note applet
New “command” applet to show the output of a command
Rewritten “timer” applet in c
Mouse middle click on volume applet toggles mute state

Dropped packages
Replaced mate-doc-utils with yelp-tools
Replaced libmatekeyring/mate-keyring with libsecret/gnome-keyring
Replaced libmatewnck with libwnck
Replaced mucharmap with gucharmap
Replaced mate-bluetooth with blueman
Merged all caja extensions in a single package

Other improvements
Fixed a lot of code deprecations
Fixed a lot of bugs
Added and improved a lot of translations

“Part of our users express that they want to stay with GNOME 2; because they like how things used to be, they run older hardware or they want a more lightweight desktop. Given that GNOME 2 becomes unsupported and will eventually be removed from our meta distribution due to various maintenance, regression and security issues; MATE brings back all the glory with an active development team. Their continuation of GNOME 2’s development fixes outstanding issues, brings new and useful features and keeps the good old experience alive and kicking.” – Tom Wijsman, Gentoo developer and MATE maintainer

Image Courtesy of Mate Desktop

MATE uses GTK2 for its development with the eventual goal of <a href=”http://wiki.mate-desktop.org/status:gtk3″>using the more modern GTK3</a>. The difference between the two is that GTK3 is the more current and active api for developing gui’s (graphical user interfaces), it’s at the core of Gnome3. Users in general didn’t take issue with the core technology of Gnome3, it was actually the design. The interface changed how users interacted with their computers as well as how and what they could customize. It was seen as being more limited and heading in a direction that is very different in execution style when compared to most other WIMP-based (Windows/Icons/Menus/Pointer) desktops.

Graphical user interfaces (gui’s) can make even the most meek and tech illiterate highly vocal in their opinions. It’s the most common source of complaints about Windows 8. It was also one of the core defining features of the original iPhone and is arguably one of the most interesting parts of Ubuntu Touch. Gui’s are more than just skin deep changes, they also define how you interact with your computer. This latest release of MATE appears as if it will continue to be a crowd pleaser by keeping a familiar interface that users still want to use while supporting newer features and utilities.

red-hat-logo-1100x620

Yes there was a security hole in Linux, but Red Hat already fixed it

Luckily enough for all of us Red Hat quickly found, patched and distributed a fix. Originally reported by Ars Technica, the fix was available by the time the general public was made aware of it. It’s actually fairly similar to a certain security hole that lived for a year and could have allowed for exploits to be used in the wild.

To explain the exploit simply, when a device using SSL for security should have failed or rejected a certificate in a certain manner it didn’t. Instead, it greeted it with open arms and hug like any proper security certificate. This unintentional behavior could have allowed for an entity not part of the authentication (your browser and the site are the only parties that should be present for the exchange) to simply step in to take a peek at all data that is being exchanged. Primarily login information and any other encrypted data.

What could allow for such an awful action to be possible? A bad “goto” statement. In programming, a goto statement in most languages tell a program to move its’ running logic to another part of the program and complete the instructions there. This statement was present twice in gnuTLS, a secure communications library. Many Linux based operating systems and programs relied upon this library as a source for verifying that whatever they did could be trusted so that users would be safe.

Red Hat found the exploit in a security audit and worked extremely quickly to inform and update the linux community. This is an excellent example of the security of open source in action. The audit may have been prompted by the recent security scare on Apple devices, but it was handled openly and swiftly. Users of all types and levels were alerted at the same time in an open format. There was no secrecy nor any wondering of when a patch would be released. Even if Red Hat couldn’t have provided a fix (Ha, extremely unlikely for that brilliant bunch), the discovery of the exploit and communication would have allowed for those with the proper expertise in the community to act.

If you’re using a Linux distro then it would be prudent for you to check for an update now. If your distribution hasn’t provided a patch, I would expect for it to arrive shortly if it has any decent level of support. There aren’t any known exploits of this security hole being used in the wild. By the time one could be created and seriously mobilized, most currently unpatched systems should be updated.

Sources: Ars Technica; ZDNet