April 10, 2017 brianradio2016

Apple’s iOS 10.3 update will be the end of the line for a lot of old and obsolete iPhone and iPad apps that have been forgotten by their developers. Here’s how to find out if your apps are affected.

Must read: Apple’s desperate Mac damage control message hints at a divided company

For some time now, Apple has been warning iPhone and iPad users that legacy 32-bit apps may slow down their devices, but with the recent release of iOS 10.3, Apple has escalated things by making it clear that the end is nigh.

If you’ve seen the warning shown below in relation to an app you use, then that app is a 32-bit app and Apple is getting ready to withdraw support (quite possibly as soon as September, when iOS 11 is released).

Hidden iOS 10.3 feature highlights apps that could soon stop working

You can also check for app compatibility using the built-in checker tool. Go to Settings > General > About > Applications:

Hidden iOS 10.3 feature highlights apps that could soon stop working

Hidden iOS 10.3 feature highlights apps that could soon stop working

How many apps are affected? One study suggests the number could be around 187,000 apps, or some 8 percent of the 2.4 million apps in Apple’s App Store, with apps in the games, education, and entertainment categories being the hardest hit.

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April 10, 2017 brianradio2016

Ah, Windows Embedded. The Microsoft operating system that millions of devices and machines are running, typically with a custom application or skin running on top of it so that users don’t automatically notice the OS. The operating system that underpins hundreds of thousands of medical devices, automatic teller machines, kiosks at airports and other crowded public places, industrial machinery and control planes, set top boxes, game consoles.

Windows Embedded is a relatively unheralded version of Windows whose existence might surprise you. But it seems like Windows Embedded’s existence might also surprise a lot of folks up in Redmond. Here, at the Microsoft campus, despite all of the hullabaloo about Windows 10 and device updates — and the new Creators Update and Redstone versions that will be coming down the pike at an almost breakneck speed — Windows Embedded suffers from an opposite problem. It appears unfortunately stuck in a place where no future has clearly been laid out for it.

One indication that Windows Embedded may be on its way out is the introduction of Windows 10 IoT, which Microsoft has started pushing as a replacement. However, first, a bit of background of Windows Embedded.

A brief history of Windows Embedded to date

How has Windows Embedded worked in the past? Most vendors chose Windows Embedded because, unlike the traditional desktop operating system, it was modular: You could choose which features to install or not install, both to reduce the supportability burden on the vendor (you don’t need Solitaire on an ATM, for example) and to reduce the potential attack surface, since laser cutting machines do not generally need IIS web serving capabilities, for instance.

April 10, 2017 brianradio2016

Ask a Red Hat salesperson what is her favorite product to sell, and she’ll probably tell you OpenShift. Close on its heels, however, is Ansible, the open source automation platform Red Hat acquired in late 2015. Ansible has been on a tear of late, quickly rising to become the hottest devops tool in the market.

The question is why. A bigger question, however, is what it means for Red Hat. For a company that thrives deep in the bowels of enterprise infrastructure, Ansible (and OpenShift) represent a march toward a simpler way to deliver IT.

Popular with the geeks

The reason Ansible is so popular within Red Hat’s field is that it’s wildly popular with enterprise IT. How popular? Well, Ansible already finds its way into a third of all Red Hat deals, as Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst indicated on the company’s most recent earnings call. That is staggering when you consider that Red Hat didn’t acquire Ansible until late 2015, and Ansible didn’t even exist as a project until 2012 or as a company until 2013. For Ansible to be contributing in a significant way to Red Hat’s $2 billion-plus in annual revenue is a major accomplishment.

It’s also surprising. After all, it’s not as if Ansible was first to market. Puppet, Chef, and CFEngine all spent years in market before Ansible arrived, yet if we look at what the developer crowd is most interested in talking about, it’s Ansible by a wide margin, as RedMonk has detailed.

April 10, 2017 brianradio2016

The D language, long an underdog among programmers, got a significant boost this past week when its developers received permission to relicense its reference compiler as an open source project.

DMD, the reference compiler for D, has been encumbered by legacy licensing, courtesy of Symantec. The license made it problematic to distribute the compiler in conjunction with other open source software — for instance, in a Linux distribution — and often sparked confusion about what it permitted.

All that changed when Symantec finally gave permission to allow DMD to be relicensed under the highly permissive Boost License.

Two other open source D compilers exist, GDC and LDC, but both have typically lagged in terms of their feature support for the language.

April 10, 2017 brianradio2016

Google has begun using a machine learning approach to learn from user interactions with mobile devices.

Currently under testing in the Gboard on Android keyboard, Federated Learning lets smartphones collaboratively pick up a shared prediction model while keeping training data on the device. This way, the need to do machine learning is decoupled from the need to store the data in the cloud.

Federated Learning provides for smarter models, less power consumption, lower latency, and ensured privacy, Google research scientists said. The model on the phone can help power experiences personalized by how users interact with the device.

With the testing now underway, when Gboard shows a suggested query, the smartphone locally stores information about the current context and whether the user clicked the suggestion. Federated Learning then processes that history on-device to suggest improvements to the next iteration of Gboard’s query suggestion model.

April 8, 2017 brianradio2016

Cash registers are dumb. Why do we still have them?

Invented in 1879 to keep saloon employees from stealing, the cash register combines the functions of a calculator to add up the purchases and a lockbox to keep cash safe.

It assumes that retail employees have no verifiable way to add up numbers. And it assumes customers are paying in cash. Nowadays, most people have a smartphone and pay electronically. So the assumptions are gone. Yet cash registers remain.

The success of online retail demonstrates that you don’t need a Victorian-era contraption to sell things. You can do it all electronically.

April 8, 2017 brianradio2016

The Google app is the home for suggested articles and updates that Google thinks you’ll be interested in. What populates your feed comes from your search history, location, Gmail, and other sources tied to your account.

Your feed has links to popular categories, like weather, sports, and entertainment, and you’ll also see a stream of cards that have articles, updates, and other information that Google thinks you want to know. If something isn’t up your alley, just swipe the card away. Or touch the overflow menu (three vertical dots at the top right) and tell Google you’re not interested in the topic.

The Upcoming feed on the right fills in details you may need for the day, like directions to an upcoming appointment or stock updates. It’s hit and miss in terms of how useful it is at times, so keep an eye on what it offers.

April 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Intel’s large-capacity Optane is like the Ferrari of storage: It’s super fast, it’s cool and it’s expensive.

Also, it isn’t for everyone yet. That was reiterated by Intel when it introduced its first large capacity SSD, the Optane SSD DC P4800X, last month.

The 375GB DC P4800X is aimed at high-end applications. Optane is also available as low-capacity cache storage on motherboards, allowing Windows 10 and other applications to load faster.

Before release, Intel gave Optane SSDs to a select few customers who had a chance to get their hands dirty with the new technology for longer than a year. The testers included Facebook, IBM, Lenovo, and database company Aerospike, which believes Optane could unite DRAM and SSDs. 

April 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Business users get access to their own version of the Microsoft Windows 10 beta program this week. On Friday, Microsoft unveiled the Windows Insider Program for Business, alongside its first post-Creators Update Windows 10 beta.

The program will let business users sign up for beta updates with their Azure Active Directory credentials, rather than a personal Microsoft account. The new feature is designed to provide IT professionals with a path for giving Microsoft business-specific feedback on Windows 10 features. That, in turn, should help business users shape feature development.

Creating a business Insider Program is Microsoft’s response to IT pros’ requests for a connection with the Windows development team. Windows 10 got off to a rocky start with some systems administrators who weren’t thrilled by Microsoft’s policy of only providing cumulative updates to the operating system rather than letting administrators pick and choose which patches to apply.

In a support document, the company said this program isn’t separate from the main Insider Program, but instead a way for businesses to better engage with the existing community of people testing new versions of Windows. In addition, Microsoft believes the new program will help businesses with their internal testing of Windows updates by giving early access to future patches.

April 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Microsoft this week boosted by 28% its claim of how much enterprises can save by deploying Windows 10.

The revised estimate came from a Microsoft-commissioned analysis first done in mid-2016 by Forrester Research. Then, Forrester said the per-worker savings over a three-year stretch would be $404. To reach that number, the research firm interviewed four Microsoft customers that had begun moving to Windows 10, then modeled a hypothetical organization with 24,000 Windows devices, and a large number of mobile workers among the 20,000 employees. Using that pretend company, Forrester forecast the difference between running Windows 10 and retaining Windows 7.

Late last year, Forrester interviewed another quartet of Windows early 10 adopters, then added that data to what it had originally. The new per-employee savings: $515 over three years, a jump of almost a third.

“This updated study helps provide further evidence that Windows 10 can drive significant cost savings,” said Craig Dewar, a director of marketing on the Windows Commercial team, in a Tuesday post to a company blog.