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New Version of the MaControl Trojan Spotted In the Wild

znu Won't be surprising to see a spike? (77 comments)

Literally every time there's some new bit of Mac malware, we see a chorus of predictions in the form of "This is it, now the floodgates are going to open!" This has been going on for years, and these predictions have all been wrong. There are a couple of a new threats a year, and there isn't actually any particular reason to believe we're on the cusp of a dramatic non-linear increase.

more than 2 years ago

Should Microsoft Put Office On the iPad?

znu Re:Ok with Apple (402 comments)

As for accessing Microsoft's online services... a huge fraction of the apps in the app store access various companies' online services. I'm not sure what you see being the problem there. The only real restriction Apple has with respect to this sort of thing is that if you provide a link to a web site to subscribe to a paid service or purchase paid content, you have to also sell that subscription/content via in-app purchasing (and give Apple its cut). But if you don't link, you don't have to do this, and you can still give your customers access to that subscription or content if they find your web site and purchase on their own.

It's true Apple probably wouldn't let Microsoft support scripting in Office for iPad. Apple allows developers to embed scripting engines now, but all the code they run has to be bundled in the app package so Apple can review it; apps can't load code later, which is what would be happening with scripts embedded in Office documents. But honestly, scripting is kind of an edge case. Yes, some organizations use it extensively, but realistically 99% of Office documents in the world make zero use of scripting functionality. Microsoft shipped Office 2008 for Mac without VBA, and while they did bring it back to the Mac in 2011, this clearly demonstrates they don't consider lack of scripting a release showstopper.

This is kind of the point of the linked article, actually. The business world built up this notion over a couple of decades that any device (or software alternative to Office) that didn't provide 100% compatibility and 100% of the feature set was useless. The widespread adoption of iOS/Android devices that don't run Office has provided a significant amount of first-hand experience that this isn't true -- that a lot of routine business tasks work just fine without Office. This realization is dangerous to Microsoft.

more than 2 years ago

No PDFs, No Co-editing On Underwhelming Apple iCloud

znu Re:It just proves analyst are complete idiots (189 comments)

Yeah, this article badly misunderstands what iCloud is for.

First, it's a backup service for iOS devices that eliminates the need to sync them with with a computer, effectively untethering iOS devices. And yes, if an app stores PDFs, images, movies, whatever, within its data store, iCloud will back them up. Once your iOS device is backed up to iCloud, if you happen to drop it in the ocean, you can go buy a new one, sync it to iCloud, and all of your stuff (with the exception of non-iTunes music if you don't have the $25/year iTunes Match) will simply come back.

Geeks like us have trouble understanding the value of a service like this to average end users, but it's huge. Most consumers, to this day, still don't have backups of any kind, and virtually none have off-site backups. Apple reportedly had lots of people coming into Apple stores who hadn't synced their iOS devices since first setting them up, and would therefore lose considerable amounts of data if device replacement was required. iCloud simply makes these problems go away for people. It makes off-site backups simply happen by default, rather than requiring the user to understand the importance of them and go out of his/her way to make them happen.

Secondly, iCloud a seamless sync service designed to be integrated into apps. With an iCloud-enabled version of Pages or another iWork apps, you can be working on a document on your Mac, grab your iPad and run out the door, and keep working on that document there -- even if you didn't explicitly save your most recent changes. You can add a reminder in the new Reminders app on your iPad, and seconds later it will also show up in the equivalent app on your iPhone. You can start playing a game on your iPhone, and your progress can be seamlessly synced to your iPad, so you can keep playing there from exactly where you left off. Third-party developers can add features like this to their apps using a trivially simple API, with no need to own/rent their own cloud infrastructure or write a single line of server-side code.

Comparing iCloud to Dropbox doesn't really make a ton of sense. The services are designed to do very different things. The only real overlap is in the instance of things like syncing iWork documents... but even there, the approach is conceptually different. Dropbox is "a folder that syncs" iCloud is a data sync service intended to be integrated by developers.

Describing iCloud as "underwhelming" is effectively a compliment to Apple. It's supposed to be invisible. A decade from now, non-savvy users will simply take it for granted that their data is magically propagated between their devices, and it won't even occur to them to think about the mechanism through which this occurs.

more than 2 years ago

Apple Patents Tech to Stop iPhones Filming in Venues

znu Re:Deja Vue (391 comments)

For that matter, do we really need another round of people who don't like company X attacking company X for filing a patent on something they object to, pretending not to understand that tech companies never implement 90% of what they patent? Seriously, remember those articles about Apple patenting OS-level advertising that locked people out of their computers until they watched it? Seen any Macs or iOS devices doing that lately?

more than 3 years ago

Large Scale 24/7 Solar Power Plant To Be Built in Nevada

znu Re:I don't like it (475 comments)

$1/watt is a sensible target price for PV panels. Installed systems, with mounting hardware, inverters, etc. will obviously cost more. Also, this system generates power throughout a larger fraction of the day, and a bunch of mirrors pointed at a big concrete tower probably have a useful service life many times as long as PV panels -- replace the turbines and possibly some tanks and pipes every now and then, and it's hard to see why this system couldn't last practically forever.

more than 3 years ago

Fukushima Radioactive Fallout Nears Chernobyl Levels

znu Misleading summary (537 comments)

From TFA:

The difference between this accident and Chernobyl, they say, is that at Chernobyl a huge fire released large amounts of many radioactive materials, including fuel particles, in smoke. At Fukushima Daiichi, only the volatile elements, such as iodine and caesium, are bubbling off the damaged fuel.

That's a really important difference. It means the total release of radioactive material is far smaller. And the iodine, at least, is a lot less scary than the sort of stuff you get from fuel particles -- it has a half-life of only 8 days, so there's no real long-term environmental threat from that. (The cesium is rather worse -- half life of ~30 years.)

more than 3 years ago

Hands-on Face-off: IPad 2 V Motorola Xoom

znu Re:Extra Extra! (375 comments)

Fortunately, you don't have to bother reading past the first page, because it contains a dead giveaway that the article is essentially just shallow filler content designed not to offend anyone.

The iPad, with 60,000 + tablet-optimied apps, scores a nine for application support, while the Xoom, with a handful of tablet-optimized apps, scores an 8? Seriously? And all the arbitrarily chosen criteria are equally weighted? Meaningless nonsense.

more than 3 years ago

Apple: You Must Be 17+ To Use Opera

znu Re:Then Safari should have the same warning! (315 comments)

The OS has built-in parental controls that apply to Safari. And to the Mac App Store. Had Opera not been given a 17+ rating, a parent could have set restrictions on Safari, set the Mac App Store not to allow installation of apps allowing access to adult content... and little Johnny could have still installed Opera and gotten himself unrestricted web access.

The idea that this is some plot by Apple to undermine Opera is absurd. Apple gives the same 17+ rating to any app that allows access to sufficiently unrestricted Internet content, including things like Wikipedia apps, which last time I checked Apple wasn't competing with.

more than 3 years ago

New Apple MacBook Pro Reviewed

znu Re:A BIT expensive?! (627 comments)

Do some people buy MacBook Pros as status symbols? I'm sure they do. But some of us work in pro video. There are people who legitimately need high-end laptops, and a lot of them, because of Apple's strength in the creative pro market, use Macs.

With quad core processors and tons of external bandwidth over Thunderbolt, these new MBPs are game changing for pro video, or will be once a couple of TB devices hit the market. For instance, TB is fast enough to hook up both a RAID capable of handling multiple 1080p video streams and a video interface capable of doing uncompressed HD output to a broadcast monitor. This makes these pretty much the first laptops ever (outside of crazy hack jobs, maybe) that can plausibly replace towers for working with uncompressed HD video formats. That's pretty handy.

more than 3 years ago

Will Google Oppose DRM On HTML5 Video?

znu Re:More Flash? (399 comments)

I think the point he's making is that if there's no standards-based mechanism for delivering DRM-protected video, content providers will simply keep using Flash to do it, reducing interoperability and leading to inferior user experience.

Which is a fair point.

more than 3 years ago

Pirated App Sold On Mac App Store

znu Re:Did Slashdot go retarded today? (334 comments)

Also note that the GPL isn't compatible with the iOS store due to restrictions placed on what the user can do with the software (can't copy the binaries and send to a friend).

Yes, you can. The binary is synced to your computer, from where you can copy it anywhere you like. It's true that the binary is linked to a specific iTunes account, but first off, GPL doesn't actually say you have to be able to execute a binary on any given device (all sorts of embedded systems would run afoul of the GPL if it did), and secondly, there's technically no limit to the number of iOS devices a purchased app can be installed on, so long as they're all authorized on the iTunes account that purchased it. (And an iOS device can be authorized on multiple iOS accounts simultaneously as well -- I think up to five.)

more than 3 years ago

Senators Bash ISP and Push Extensive Net Neutrality

znu Re:Not sure about that (427 comments)

You know how many ISPs service the address I'm posting from?


Well, I must just be in some obscure backwater, right?

Nope. This is a pretty nice area of Brooklyn. You know, in the largest city in the US.

Things are slightly better at the office. At that address we've got two ISP choices. Of course one of them is DSL that tops out at only 3 Mbps.

If the government to built out some sort of nation-wide publicly owned fiber network and let a few thousand ISPs compete to provide Internet access over it, the market could solve these problems. But as long as ISPs own the lines -- line ownership being something pretty damn close to a natural monopoly -- consumers need legislative protection from them.

more than 3 years ago

Ars Thinks Google Takes a Step Backwards For Openness

znu Re:Putting the snideness of the summary aside... (663 comments)

Firefox could simply use external H.264 decoding capabilities, present in both Windows 7 and OS X by default, and trivially available for Linux.

Frankly, this whole argument is a straw man. Would you really want the codec implemented in the browser anyway? What are the odds the browser developer would implement things as well as the OS developer, especially with respect to features like hardware acceleration? The vast majority of applications, including browsers, have no reason to contain their own implementations of video codecs.

And as far as Firefox in particular, the Mozilla Foundation makes nearly $100M/year in revenue from search engine referral payments. They could trivially afford H.264 decoder licensing, if for some reason they did want to include a decoder internally.

The Mozilla Foundation's decision not to support H.264 is political, not practical.

more than 3 years ago

Ars Thinks Google Takes a Step Backwards For Openness

znu Re:Easy fix... (663 comments)

Are you under the impression that H.264 is owned by Microsoft? H.264 is an open standard under the umbrella of ISO/ITU, and developed by VCEG/MPEG. This is a real standards process, like what lead to CD, DVD, the ATSC broadcast standard, etc.

The reason there's a patent licensing pool is not because some company (least of all Mircosoft) developed it in order to make money licensing it. Rather, the reason there's a patent licensing pool is because video compression techniques are heavily patented, such that nearly any modern codec you design ends up requiring patent licensing. This will probably end up applying to WebM as well. A patent pool is merely a way to handle this in an organized fashion, so that individual implementors don't have to license patents from a few hundred different companies one at a time.

Nobody is getting rich off of H.264 licensing fees.

more than 3 years ago

Ars Thinks Google Takes a Step Backwards For Openness

znu Re:Putting the snideness of the summary aside... (663 comments)

Although very crudely worded, "Anonymous Coward" is right. H.264 is created to make money. By Google removing support for H.264, it pushes for an actual open standard.

This is simply false. (Lifted from a post I just made about this in the Ars forums) MPEG-LA licenses the H.264 standards under RAND (reasonable and non-discriminitory) terms -- they're not playing favorites to give some companies strategic advantage over others. Moreover, if you think about the fact that there are 1000 patents in the H.264 license pool, and no individual company owns more than a few, you quickly realize that nobody who actually implements H.264 is making more money from it than they pay for it. The idea that anyone is supporting H.264 because they want to get rich off of license fees is ludicrous.

H.264 is a real standard, developed and governed by a multi-party process, recognized by international standards organizations, and extensively documented. WebM is some C code that Google bought and dumped on the public. Other stakeholders had no input into the "specification". There is no formal multi-party governance process; the format is de facto controlled by Google, because they employ the developers. In practice, WebM is defined by Google's code, not by standards documents.

Oh, and WebM is also technically inferior.

And as if that weren't enough, it's extremely unclear, given what happened to Microsoft with VC-1, that WebM has actually managed to avoid patent liability. Keep in mind, Google hasn't indemnified anyone, and their strategic interests are served here even if a patent licensing pool does eventually need to be set up for WebM. So they have essentially nothing to lose by pretending its unencumbered, even if it's not.

more than 3 years ago

Google To Drop Support For H.264 In Chrome

znu Re:A really nasty trick (765 comments)

So who pays for the OS? Linus Torvald? ;)

To be frank, Apple and Microsoft are already paying for OS X and Windows, and that's 98% of the desktop market right there.

Linux users are up the creek without a legal paddle again, but a) they're used to it -- the same thing happened with MPEG-2/DVD and MP3, and b) MPEG-LA tends to turn a blind eye to open source implementations of codecs when there's no plausible entity they could collect from anyway. In practice, there are already GPL-licensed H.264 decoders for Linux that Firefox could use via GStreamer, and they're not likely to go away.

more than 3 years ago

Opera Supports Google Decision To Drop H.264

znu Re:Sad news for the web (336 comments)

The problem with that logic is that it's strategically useful for Google to push WebM even if it does end up requiring a patent license pool.

more than 3 years ago

Google To Drop Support For H.264 In Chrome

znu Re:A really nasty trick (765 comments)

Anything that slows or halts the transition to a standard that depends on commercialized patents is good for users. If MPEG LA has its way, everyone who uses firefox (for example) will have to buy a proprietary plug-in to use youtube.

Pure FUD. The per-decoder license fee for H.264 is $0.20, capped at (IIRC) $4M/year. Firefox could simply pay out of the pool of cash it collects from search engine referrals, or, even more sensibly, avoid the entire problem by using operating system libraries to decode H.264.

And, once again, why are you arguing as if WebM is actually unencumbered? This is extremely unlikely to be the case.

Incidentally, by damaging the prospects of HTML5/H.264, Google is effectively promoting Flash/H.264. All the same patents, except with a proprietary closed source browser plugin thrown into the mix as well. Not exactly a victory for freedom.

more than 3 years ago

Microsoft Fights Apple Trademark On 'App Store'

znu Re:Apple was not first user of name 'App Store' (425 comments)

If users call it the "Android App Store", it's precisely because Apple popularized the "App Store" terminology. It would have to be, because Google doesn't call it that. Google calls it the "Android Marketplace".

more than 3 years ago

Google To Drop Support For H.264 In Chrome

znu Re:A classic-era Microsoft move (765 comments)

What you say about patents is true in theory. In practice, however, MPEG-LA (and the companies that own the underlying patents) have been turning a blind eye to open source implementations of MPEG-family codecs for well over a decade. I suspect if some major organization with the means to pay started distributing, say, x264, MPEG-LA would try to collect from them, but there seems to be no interest in going after developers.

And not to belabor the point, but you're arguing as if there's some non-encumbered alternative to H.264. That's probably wrong. Again, it's extremely unlikely that WebM has managed to avoid all patent liability.

more than 3 years ago


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