Goodbye, Android

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai wrote on Motherboard about switching from Andoird.

As security expert Cem Paya put it, that was a conscious decision Google made when it created Android. Paya called it a Faustian deal: “cede control over Android, get market-share against iPhone.” Basically, Google was happy to let carriers put their bloatware on their Android phones in exchange to having a chance to fight Apple for in the mobile market. The tradeoff was giving carriers and manufacturers control over their Android releases, leaving Google unable to centrally push out operating system updates.

Some carriers and manufacturers are better than others, it’s true, but they all pretty much suck when it comes to pushing updates. There really isn’t a better way to put it.

As security researcher Nicholas Weaver put it in a (now deleted) tweet, ”Imagine if Windows patches had to pass through Dell and your ISP before they came to you? And neither cared? That is called Android.”

Web browser efficiency

BatteryBox reported on Chrome vs Safari vs Firefox web browser efficiency.

Averaging data from all websites tested, Safari won first place with 6hours 21min of total usage, Firefox second with 5hours 29min of usage, and Chrome last with 5hours 8min of usage.

Basically, if you simply switch to using Safari instead of Chrome, on average you could get an extra 1 hour of usage from your battery life. It’s actually a pretty good browser, and now has a fair amount of extensions available.

Sometimes it’s not about having the latest and greatest features, but what goes on behind the scenes that matters.

Solitaire for Windows 10 is a fremium game

Time reported on [the ridiculous hidden inside Windows 10 TIME](http://time.com/3977862/windows-10-solitaire/).

The newly released Windows 10 features the Solitaire Collection, which includes several variants of the classic card game. However, unlike the version of the game you played at your grandma’s house in the ‘90s, Windows 10 Solitaire comes packed with advertisements. To get rid of the ads and earn some in-game currency (yes, this centuries-old game is borrowing from Candy Crush), users can pay $1.49 per month or $9.99 per year.

When your OS is free, it’s not the product. You’re the product. At least, this is how Microsoft seems to think. Note how Mac OS X is free but it doesn’t try to sell ads to you. That’s giving utmost priority to the user experience.

Privacy issues with Windows 10

The Next Web reported on privacy issues with Windows 10.

Data syncing by default

Sign into Windows with your Microsoft account and the operating system immediately syncs settings and data to the company’s servers. That includes your browser history, favorites and the websites you currently have open as well as saved app, website and mobile hotspot passwords and Wi-Fi network names and passwords.

[..]

Cortana is a sexy spy in the machine

To enable Cortana to provide personalized experiences and relevant suggestions, Microsoft collects and uses various types of data, such as your device location, data from your calendar, the apps you use, data from your emails and text messages, who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on your device.

Cortana also learns about you by collecting data about how you use your device and other Microsoft services, such as your music, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, what you view and purchase, your browse and Bing search history, and more.”

[..]

Advertisers will know exactly who you are

Windows 10 generates a unique advertising ID for each user on each device. That can be used by developers and ad networks to profile you.

[..]

Your encryption key is backed up to OneDrive

Not necessarily a bad thing but something you should be aware of. When device encryption is turned on, Windows 10 automatically encrypts the drive its installed on and generates a BitLocker recovery key. That’s backed up to your OneDrive account.

[..]

Microsoft can disclose your data when it feels like it

This is the part you should be most concerned about: Microsoft’s new privacy policy assigns is very loose when it comes to when it will or won’t access and disclose your personal data:

We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services.

Something to consider if you’re considering switching to Windows 10. Something to be aware of if you’re already on Windows 10.

Windows 10 will use your bandwidth to push updates to others

Ubergizemo reported on Windows 10 tapping on users’ bandwidth to push updates to others.

For the most part the updates are pretty fast although it seems that with Windows 10, it looks like Microsoft is finding ways to make pushing out updates even faster, and apparently one of the ways they’re looking at is to use some of your bandwidth. As you can see in the screenshot above, this is an option that you can choose to enable or disable.

You probably won’t mind sharing your bandwidth to help other users to download Windows 10 faster. But the option should not be enabled by default without informing users, especially when some users might have a data cap on their internet subscription.

The Verge’s web sucks

Les Orchard wrote about how The Verge’s web sucks.

Wow. Devtools performed a second reload of the page to get an overall performance analysis. This time it downloaded 12MB – a little over 7MB in that is JavaScript!

Just to put this in some rough perspective: Assuming I had a 1GB / month data plan, I could visit sites like The Verge about 3 times per day before I hit my cap. If I’m lucky, some or most of this will get cached between requests so it won’t be quite that bad. In fact, another report tells me that a primed cache yields 8MB transferred – so maybe 4 visits per day.

It is a big concern and something I have become conscious of after my data usage spiked last month, despite me being overseas and not using my data plan for a week. Websites need to be more responsible with how they push content and advertising to us.

The web is stuffed full of call-to-actions, social media buttons, advertising, making the whole experience of surfing the web unbearable. I hate websites with ads that cover the content, making you unable to browse the site and leading you to inadvertently tap on the ad.

Twitch is ditching Flash and switching to HTML5

The Verge reported on Twitch ditching Flash and switching to HTML5.

The streaming service today announced that it was rolling out a redesign to its video player controls, replacing the old Flash versions with new Javascipt and HTML5 options. This isn’t the end for Flash on Twitch just yet — for now the site’s videos still use the software — but the streaming service says this is a step toward releasing its “much-anticipated” full HTML5 player.

Winds of change.

The way forward in productivity

Benedict Evans wrote about office, messaging and verbs.

That is, the way forward for productivity is probably not to take software applications and document models that were conceived and built in a non-networked age and put them into the cloud, or to make carbon copies of them as web apps. This is no different to using your PC to do the same things you used your typewriter for. And of course that is exactly how a lot of people used their PCs – to start with. Just as today we make web app copies of software models conceived for the floppy disk, so the first PCs were often used to type up memos that were then printed out and sent though internal mail. It took time for email to replace internal mail and even longer for people to stop emailing Word files as attachments. Equally, we went from typing expense forms (with carbon copies) to entering them into a Word doc version of the form, to a dedicated Windows app that looked just like the form, to a web page that looked just like the form – and then, suddenly, someone worked out that maybe you should just take a photo of the receipt. It takes time, but sooner or later we stop replicating the old methods with the new tools and find new methods to fit the new tools.

Sadly, I still come across many instances where people are unable to grasp the point of moving into a digital workflow.

Instead of filling up forms, they type the forms out in Word or Excel and print these out. And then the printed form gets passed to someone, who then scans the form and saves it in their computers. The slightly more tech savvy individuals would fill in the form digitally and send it via email, skipping the printing and scanning steps.

But that still clings onto antiquated notions of having to reproduce a form digitally in Word or Excel. And in many cases, the information in these document files need to be manually transferred into a database. The way forward is to have an online web form that automatically submits the information to the database.

The faster we embrace technology, the faster we progress and improve the workflows.

Clickbait vs real journalism

Ken Segall wrote about poor journalism surrounding the rumours about the sales of Apple Watch.

You know, it’s easy to report a press release as fact. Real journalism requires some effort. Happily, a small number of sites chose not to reflexively publish a headline that seemed too bad to be true. They actually looked at the source, analyzing its merits and faults. Signs of intelligence were detected at The Motley Fool, Forbes and even Fox News.

Since there are no qualifications required to publish on the Internet, a Slice-like press release can actually serve a higher purpose.

The coverage it generates can help us distinguish between those who can offer meaningful insight — and those who will publish anything for a click.

Why not everyone should be doing beta testing

Federico Viticci wrote on MacStories about how apps are getting negative reviews in the App Store for issues with beta versions of iOS and OS X.

The frustration of the tweets embedded above generates from the fact that some users are leaving negative App Store reviews pointing out problems with running apps on beta versions of iOS and OS X. Some of those users may not know this (and understandably so, it’s not their responsibility to know), but App Store reviews are important to developers. It is widely believed that positive reviews affect the ranking and visibility of an app on the App Store, but, perhaps more importantly, reviews are, for customers, the primary way of knowing whether an app is worth downloading or not. An app with several 1-star reviews? Probably not worth installing for many.

People who want to be involved in beta testing should have some basic knowledge of how to handle the issues that arises, especially from version incompatibilities.