mfioretti: mobile*

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  1. After several weeks of development, eelo is running as a beta.

    The real challenge isn't building a new front-end. It's removing Google Play Store, Google Play Services, and Google Services. That's not easy. While Android developers don't have to use any of them, they are very useful.

    For installing programs, Duval is turning to the alternative Android program repositories F-Droid and APKPure. Ideally, he wants an an "eelo store," which would deliver both official free applications like APKPure and open-source applications such as offered in F-Droid.

    To replace Google Services, Duval plans on using MicroG. This is an open-source implementation of Google's proprietary Android user space apps and libraries. To deal with programs that use Google's SafetyNet Attestation Application Programming Interface (API) -- an API that checks to make sure the application runs in a Google Android compliant environment -- Duval thinks eelo will probably use Magisk Manager. This is a program that enables Android applications to run on smartphones, such as rooted systems, that would normally block them.

    For search, the plan is to offer privacy-enabled DuckDuckGo and the new privacy oriented search engine Qwant. You'll also be able to pick your own search engine, since as Duval admits, "in some cases, it Google » is still offering the best results."

    Then, there are all the invisible internet services most people never think about, such as Domain Name System (DNS), which can also be used to track you. To deal with this, by default, eelo will use the Quad 9 DNS. The Global Cyber Alliance (GCA)'s Quad 9 both preserves privacy while blocking access to known malicious sites.

    Low-level proprietary smartphone hardware drivers remain a problem -- but, short of building an eelo phone from the circuits up, that's beyond eelo's current scope.

    It's still early days for eelo, and Duval is welcoming support both on eelo's KickStarter page, where the current goal is to raise $120,000, and by talking directly to him via e-mail at or by following him on Twitter or Mastodon.

    Can it work? While alternatives to Android and iOS have failed more often than not, Android forks have had more success. With people increasingly desiring more privacy, I think eelo has an excellent chance of becoming a viable niche operating system
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-03)
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  2. Growing Ubuntu for Cloud and IoT, rather than Phone and convergence

    By Canonical on 5 April 2017
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    This is a post by Mark Shuttleworth, Founder of Ubuntu and Canonical

    We are wrapping up an excellent quarter and an excellent year for the company, with performance in many teams and products that we can be proud of. As we head into the new fiscal year, it’s appropriate to reassess each of our initiatives. I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

    I’d like to emphasise our ongoing passion for, investment in, and commitment to, the Ubuntu desktop that millions rely on. We will continue to produce the most usable open source desktop in the world, to maintain the existing LTS releases, to work with our commercial partners to distribute that desktop, to support our corporate customers who rely on it, and to delight the millions of IoT and cloud developers who innovate on top of it.

    We care that Ubuntu is widely useful to people who use Linux every day, for personal or commercial projects. That’s why we maintain a wide range of Ubuntu flavours from both Canonical and the Ubuntu community, and why we have invested in the Ubuntu Phone.

    I took the view that, if convergence was the future and we could deliver it as free software, that would be widely appreciated both in the free software community and in the technology industry, where there is substantial frustration with the existing, closed, alternatives available to manufacturers. I was wrong on both counts.
    In the community, our efforts were seen fragmentation not innovation. And industry has not rallied to the possibility, instead taking a ‘better the devil you know’ approach to those form factors, or investing in home-grown platforms. What the Unity8 team has delivered so far is beautiful, usable and solid, but I respect that markets, and community, ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear.

    The cloud and IoT story for Ubuntu is excellent and continues to improve. You all probably know that most public cloud workloads, and most private Linux cloud infrastructures, depend on Ubuntu. You might also know that most of the IoT work in auto, robotics, networking, and machine learning is also on Ubuntu, with Canonical providing commercial services on many of those initiatives. The number and size of commercial engagements around Ubuntu on cloud and IoT has grown materially and consistently.

    This has been, personally, a very difficult decision, because of the force of my conviction in the convergence future, and my personal engagement with the people and the product, both of which are amazing. We feel like a family, but this choice is shaped by commercial constraints, and those two are hard to reconcile.

    The choice, ultimately, is to invest in the areas which are contributing to the growth of the company. Those are Ubuntu itself, for desktops, servers and VMs, our cloud infrastructure products (OpenStack and Kubernetes) our cloud operations capabilities (MAAS, LXD, Juju, BootStack), and our IoT story in snaps and Ubuntu Core. All of those have communities, customers, revenue and growth, the ingredients for a great and independent company, with scale and momentum. This is the time for us to ensure, across the board, that we have the fitness and rigour for that path.
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  3. La frequenza con cui le coppie hanno rapporti sessuali è in declino da trent’anni, essendo passata da cinque volte al mese negli anni ’90, a quattro volte al mese negli anni Duemila, a tre volte al mese nel decennio in corso. La sua spiegazione: “Penso che sia l’eccesso di sollecitazioni d’altro genere. Tipo, oddio devo guardare l’intera serie di Trono di Spade in tivù. Che fa parte del fenomeno di essere sempre connessi al proprio telefonino, tablet, computer, per cui possiamo continuare a controllare messaggi, post, video e quant’altro anche tutta la notte, mentre fino a non molto tempo fa alle 10 e mezza di sera non c’era praticamente più nulla da guardare alla televisione e non c’era altro da fare”. Nient’altro, sottintende lo studioso, che fare sesso.

    La sua non è l’unica indagine che sostiene questa tesi: nel 2014 un sondaggio fra 143 coppie eterosessuali riportava che la stragrande maggioranza veniva interrotta per così dire sul più bello dalle vibrazioni o scampanellate di smart phone e altri apparecchi digitali che segnalano una notizia, un sms, un email, una chiamata (bé, sì, qualcuno usa ancora i cellulari per telefonare, o almeno li usava fino a due anni fa, oggi probabilmente anche questo utilizzo è stato pressoché abbandonato per lasciare spazio a tutti gli altri). Al ritmo attuale di sviluppo tecnologico, e di assuefazione di massa al trend, il professor Spiegelhalter è convinto che tra meno di quindici anni, ovvero intorno al 2030, “le coppie non faranno più alcun sesso”,
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  4. why people have trouble multitasking, and specifically why one's productivity output is lowered when keeping up with emails, for example. Lesley McClurg writes via KQED Science:
    When you engage in one task at a time, the prefrontal cortex works in harmony with other parts of the brain, but when you toss in another task it forces the left and right sides of the brain to work independently. The process of splitting our attention usually leads to mistakes. In other words, each time our eyes glance away from our computer monitor to sneak a peak at a text message, the brain takes in new information, which reduces our primary focus. We think the mind can juggle two or three activities successfully at once, but Gazzaley says we woefully overestimate our ability to multitask.
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  5. If you’re a business trying to reach potential customers on mobile devices, why would you need anything else?

    As businesses embrace this argument, which they will if Facebook continues to command such an outsized audience, that doesn’t just help Facebook become more successful. Facebook killing it doesn’t just mean Facebook makes boatloads of money. The more it succeeds, the more Facebook warps a universe of Internet content, industry norms, and consumer habits around itself. Facebook in effect becomes the mobile Internet.
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  6. t’s as if the aforementioned mobile-desktop tipping point is playing out on the political landscape, with Clinton and Bush as the familiar and powerful but static PCs, and Trump and Sanders the fleet-footed, flexible but small-time smartphones.

    This development doesn’t feel like a blip either.

    Network television is becoming a legacy platform because voters can engage with what it broadcasts via the same digital channels they use to access everything else. It doesn’t work the other way round. Mainstream media gatekeepers face obsolescence because the social Web simply opens its own gates, by the thousands, every day.

    This new, mobilized — and mobile-ized — electorate is a force to be reckoned with. As we head into the primaries, the sturdiness of these digital grassroots will be tested to their limit. Some of the most vocal campaigners in this race have never attended a rally, or even voted before. They’ve contributed every piece of their support — from fundraising to partisan point-scoring — via a screen. The significant change since 2012 is the size of that screen.
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  7. What marketers need to consider is that mobile still has a lot to offer. Advertising on mobile offers a great deal of opportunity, as does vertical video (especially on messaging platforms such as SnapChat where vertical orientation of video is the norm). Social video too should be worked into advertising budgets as a matter of urgency. The kind of engagement that can be garnered on social video is more than desirable, it’s necessary for brands to compete with the top players.

    When it comes to overall marketing budgets it’s necessary for brands to increase spend in digital which offers greater ROI, creative flexibility, instant measurable results, quick low cost modification for testing, mobile access and the ability to engage audiences for conversion to sale – traditional media is expensive to measure and once published expensive to change.

    Specialists like Datalicious assist organisations to better understand media attribution to allocate budgets where ROI is greater.

    Organisations who are not using mobile to reach audiences are missing the market, websites need to be optimised for mobile and using mobile platforms to convert interest to action is critical to business growth and sustainability,
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  8. WIKIPEDIA has come a long way since it started in 2001. With around 70,000 volunteers editing in over 100 languages, it is by far the world’s most popular reference site. Its future is also uncertain.

    One of the biggest threats it faces is the rise of smartphones as the dominant personal computing device. A recent Pew Research Center report found that 39 of the top 50 news sites received more traffic from mobile devices than from desktop and laptop computers, sales of which have declined for years.

    This is a challenge for Wikipedia, which has always depended on contributors hunched over keyboards searching references, discussing changes and writing articles using a special markup code. Even before smartphones were widespread, studies consistently showed that these are daunting tasks for newcomers. “Not even our youngest and most computer-savvy participants accomplished these tasks with ease,” a 2009 user test concluded. The difficulty of bringing on new volunteers has resulted in seven straight years of declining editor participation.

    In 2005, during Wikipedia’s peak years, there were months when more than 60 editors were made administrator — a position with special privileges in editing the English-language edition. For the past year, it has sometimes struggled to promote even one per month.

    The pool of potential Wikipedia editors could dry up as the number of mobile users keeps growing; it’s simply too hard to manipulate complex code on a tiny screen.

    The real challenges for Wikipedia are to resolve the governance disputes — the tensions among foundation employees, longtime editors trying to protect their prerogatives, and new volunteers trying to break in — and to design a mobile-oriented editing environment. One board member, María Sefidari, warned that “some communities have become so change-resistant and innovation-averse” that they risk staying “stuck in 2006 while the rest of the Internet is thinking about 2020 and the next three billion users.”
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  9. It was only on Day 4 that I began appreciating the ways in which the elegant $650 computer on my wrist was more than just another screen,” he wrote. “By notifying me of digital events as soon as they happened, and letting me act on them instantly, without having to fumble for my phone, the Watch became something like a natural extension of my body — a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain.”

    When we create not only new senses, but also new brain areas for motor control, we’ll become genuinely new beings. And that will redefine consciousness and completely alter the species.
    On-body messaging and brain plasticity

    Manjoo uses the term “on-body messaging” to describe the variety of specific vibrations the watch emits, and how quickly he came to accept them as second nature. The success of Apple’s watch, and of wearables in general, may be due to this brain plasticity.

    For example, there’s a belt you can wear, ringed with pads, called the Sensebridge Northpaw. The north-facing pad on the belt vibrates, helping you to get your bearings. Quinn Norton wrote a post about the experience of trying one on, and users report never getting lost after a few days of wearing it. They also report disorientation when they remove it. Our brains are plastic, and they make surprisingly short work of turning the belt’s feedback into a new sense.

    Adapting to new information is what brains do best. Radically transformative plasticity happens when a brain input is altered drastically — motor cortex remapping when fingers fuse together, compensating for lost limbs, and so on. But our brains are adapting all the time, constantly on the verge of chaos.
    Synthesizing the world around us

    Much of what your brain does is synthesis — creating entirely new, synesthesia-like responses in the brain that don’t exist in the real world. Our brains process what they can, and the world we perceive is a construct. Our senses aren’t great; our brain makes them so, and in doing so, makes a lot of stuff up.
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  10. Any day now, we will cross another technological tipping point, as the majority of digital advertising purchases moves to mobile devices from desktops and laptops.

    The shift could happen before the end of this year or early in 2016, according to a variety of industry prognosticators. Either way, the move will be profound in the coming years, with eMarketer forecasting that mobile will account for 72% of the $93 billion expected to be spent on digital ads in 2019.

    The reason is simple: Mobile is where the eyeballs are.
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