Monday, March 2, 2015

Android Smartphones are Destroying iOS


Android and iOS accounted for 96.3 percent of all smartphone shipments in Q4 2014, and coincidentally, 96.3 percent for all of last year as well. That means the duopoly grew 0.6 percentage points compared to the same period last year (95.7 percent in Q4 2013) and 2.5 percentage points on an annual basis (93.8 percent in 2013).

Google’s mobile operating system remained the clear leader in 2014 (with over 81% of the market), pushing past the 1 billion unit mark for the first time. This was a significant milestone in itself, but also because it meant that total Android volumes in 2014 beat total smartphone shipments in 2013. Samsung retained the leadership position “by a wide margin,” shipping more than the next five vendors combined, but its total volumes for the year remained essentially flat as Asian vendors (including Huawei, Lenovo and its subsidiary Motorola, LG Electronics, Xiaomi, and ZTE) took up the task of fueling growth for Android.

Apple’s mobile operating system, meanwhile, saw its market share decline slightly (just over 14% of the market) “even as volumes reached a new record and grew at nearly the same pace as the overall smartphone market,” IDC said. Strong demand for Apple’s new and larger iPhones as well as “the reception they had within key markets” kept the company going strong.

The remaining scraps were left to Microsoft and BlackBerry. Remember: There’s only 3.7 percent to fight over.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lenovo Crapware Tool


Lenovo late last Friday released a promised tool to delete the Superfish Visual Discovery adware from its consumer PCs.

The tool automates the manual process that Lenovo described earlier in the week after the Superfish "crapware" exploded in its face. The same tool also deletes the self-signed certificate that experts said was a huge security threat to anyone with a Superfish-equipped Lenovo system.

Lenovo confirmed that it is working with two of its partners, antivirus vendor McAfee and Windows-maker Microsoft, to automatically scrub or isolate Superfish and remove the certificate, for those customers who do not hear about its cleaning tool.
"We are working with McAfee and Microsoft to have the Superfish software and certificate quarantined or removed using their industry-leading tools and technologies," Lenovo said in a statement. "These actions have already started and will automatically fix the vulnerability even for users who are not currently aware of the problem."

The reference to already-begun efforts pertain to Microsoft's decision Friday to issue an anti-malware signature for its free Windows Defender and Security Essentials programs, then push the signature to Windows PCs running that software.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

LibreOffice 4.4.1


The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.4.1, the first minor release of LibreOffice 4.4 "fresh" family, with over 100 fixes over LibreOffice 4.4.0. The release represents the combined effort of the over 900 developers attracted by the project since September 2010, with at least three new developers joining the project for 60 months in a row.

New features introduced by the LibreOffice 4.4 family are listed on this web page: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/4.4.

The Document Foundation suggests to deploy LibreOffice in enterprises and large organizations when backed by professional support by certified people (a list is available at: http://www.documentfoundation.org/certification/).

People interested in technical details about the release can access the change log here: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.4.1/RC1 (fixed in RC1) and https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.4.1/RC2 (fixed in RC2).

Download LibreOffice
LibreOffice 4.4.1 and LibreOffice 4.3.6 are immediately available for download from the following link: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/. LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation with a donation at http://donate.libreoffice.org. Money collected will be used to grow the infrastructure, and support marketing activities to increase the awareness of the project, both at global and local level.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Crapware


Well, the crapware certainly hit the fan.

That was the take by security professionals Thursday, who called on Lenovo -- and other PC makers -- to stop the practice of loading third-party software on new PCs.

"Bloatware needs to stop," said Ken Westin, security analyst from security firm Tripwire, in an interview. "Companies like Apple, which sell their products on their own merits, they don't sell out their customers with this adware crap."

The practice of pre-installing software on new machines is so widespread, and has been going on so long, that it has well-worn labels, like Westin's "bloatware" or the cruder but more descriptive "crapware." Device OEMs (original equipment manufactures) load such software for financial reasons, cutting prices on the hardware so drastically -- usually in an effort to keep pace with rivals -- that the money earned from software makers is sometimes the difference between profit and loss.

OEMs are paid to load the software onto their PCs -- developers fork over money to get their programs in front of users -- and earn revenue when consumers pony up to extend the trial periods of those pre-loaded applications that come with expiration dates.

But with the latest Lenovo fiasco, crapware-as-a-security-threat has triggered a blowback much greater than the contempt and ridicule formerly assigned it by consumers. And that's going to hurt the China-based PC maker.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

LensPen Peeps


Peeps is the new all-in-one cleaner for eyeglasses and sunglasses, created by LensPen. Peeps features the same carbon-cleaning technology LensPen products have used to clean fine optics for more than two decades. Peeps will be introduced in February and March at MIDO 2015 in Milan, Italy (hall 3 stand C36), and at Vision Expo East in New York (booth 3140).

"People that wear high-quality glasses or sunglasses are not satisfied using microfiber rags, tissues, sprays and shirt sleeves to clean their lenses," said Peter Meurrens, Vice President of Operations for the LensPen Group, and developer of Peeps. "They want something better: a cleaning device that cleans perfectly, is convenient and has some style. Since a camera lens and an eyeglass lens are virtually identical in structure it was logical for us to develop a new product for the optics market which has not seen a cleaning innovation in over 50 years. And that product is Peeps."

Cleaning eyeglasses with Peeps is a simple two-step process. First, clean the lens with the retractable goat-hair brush to remove any loose dust or potentially abrasive particles on the lens surface. No other cleaning system offers this pre-cleaning step, which is essential to protect the lens and the AR (anti-reflective) coatings. Second, slide the arms out from the holder and clean the lens with smooth circular motions of the cleaning tips. If some smudges remain, breathe gently on the surface and repeat.

Each time the arms slide back into the holder, the carbon on the cleaning tips is replenished and Peeps is ready for its next cleaning. The Peeps cleaning tips can be recharged up to 500 times.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The End is Here


When was the last time you went to a store to pick up an album? Are you the type to download collections on iTunes, or have you given up on the format entirely? If you’re one of the millions of Americans who did purchase an album in 2014, you may want to know the shopping habits of your fellow countrymen, and of how you fit in with them.

There are still plenty of people buying albums, and those who do have changed the way they do so—or, more specifically, they’ve changed where they do so.

Record stores have been closing in droves for over a decade now, and it’s still not looking great for some. While the world watched large retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, Barnes & Noble and Target take over huge chunks of market share, those names are no longer the leaders they once were. In fact, of all the places where consumers shop for physical CDs, that group suffered the worst loss last year.

Sales at chains like Barnes & Noble and Trans World Entertainment (which operates the still-standing f.y.e. stores, and which used to own brands like Sam Goody and Strawberries), declined 20.6% year over year. The mass merchants (Target, Walmart, etc.) only fared slightly better, losing just over 19% in sales.

The number of albums sold in both of these store categories may be shrinking, though that’s not to say that they are  insignificant. Chains (Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, etc.) moved 31 million albums in 2014, down from 39 million the previous year. The bigger merchants (Walmart, Target) sold just over double that—63 million records—a loss of 15 million from 2013.

Friday, February 20, 2015

LibreOffice 4.3.6 Available to Download

The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3.6 "Still", the sixth minor release of the LibreOffice 4.3 family, which is now the suggested version of the software for large deployments in the enterprise and conservative users. LibreOffice 4.3.6 contains over 110 bug fixes.

The Document Foundation suggests to deploy LibreOffice 4.3.6 in enterprises and large organizations when backed by professional support by certified individuals (a list is available at http://www.documentfoundation.org/certification/) capable of providing value added support.

People interested in technical details can find change logs for LibreOffice 4.3.6 here: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.3.6/RC1 (fixed in RC1) and https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.3.6/RC2 (fixed in RC2).

Download LibreOffice

LibreOffice 4.4 "Fresh" and LibreOffice 4.3.6 "Still" are available for download from the following link: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/. LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation with a donation at http://donate.libreoffice.org.