Don't Be Evil

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Thad
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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Thad » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:10 pm

And now somebody's hacked the ChromeOS Android compatibility layer to run more apps and to run on Windows, OSX, and (non-ChromeOS flavors of) Linux.

While this hack is buggy and crashy, at its core it works. Apps turn on and load up, and, other than some missing dependencies, they work well. It's enough to make you imagine a future when all the problems get worked out, and Google opens the floodgates on the Play Store, putting 1.3 million Android apps onto nearly every platform.


You know, just last night I swapped out the SSD on my Chromebook, and I had a brief moment of pause debating whether I wanted to dual-boot ChromeOS. I decided not to, because I figured really Xubuntu can do everything ChromeOS can do and more. This seems to support that decision as the right one.

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TA
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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby TA » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:28 pm

Well! That would actually be quite nice. Android has some apps really well-suited for the tablet format that I'd rather use than a Windows equivalent, but I don't think I'm really in the market for another Android tablet in the foreseeable future. Being able to run those apps on a Surface Pro would be the best of both worlds.
のほも is such a good word?? the concept is kind of hard to fully get across in translation, but basically it means a feeling of pure, deep, platonic affection, and i think thats beautiful

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Thad
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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Thad » Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:18 pm

Ars: Senate panel votes for ex-Googler Michelle Lee to head US Patent Office

She's not confirmed by the full Senate yet, but she's expected to be.

While I'm always cautious about people coming from big businesses to make laws that affect big businesses, this is probably a good thing. She's been holding the position on an interim basis for two years already, and that coincides with major gains in patent reform. (Granted, those gains have largely been at the state level and from the Supreme Court, so she can't exactly claim credit for those. But still, things are moving in the right direction and she's in the right place to help.)

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Thad » Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:43 pm

Ars: Google’s ARC now runs Android apps on Chrome OS, Windows, Mac, and Linux

ARC is an early beta though so Google has kept the project's reach very limited—only a handful of apps have been ported to ARC, which have all been the result of close collaborations between Google and the app developer. Now though, Google is taking two big steps forward: it's allowing any developer to run their app on ARC via a new Chrome app packager, and it's allowing ARC to run on any desktop OS with a Chrome browser.


Meanwhile, new, even cheaper Chromebooks announced; they're ARM-based and cost $150, so they're probably not something anybody here wants, but if you know someone who wants a dumb terminal they could probably do worse. Asus has also announced the Chromebit, which is an ARM-based Chrome machine in an HDMI stick with Bluetooth, and the Chromebook Flip, which has a hinge with 360 degrees of motion (but is still a low-powered ARM machine, which tends to limit its appeal).

I'm very satisfied with my Acer Chromebook, but that's because it's Intel-based and I put Xubuntu on it; I was not satisfied when I tried using an ARM-based Samsung model. (But I gave it to my dad and he's happy with it.) I also swapped out the 16GB SSD in my Chromebook for a nice 128GB model, but you can get by running Xubuntu (or something slimmer) on 16GB of internal storage, especially if you add a 32GB SD card.

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Thad » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:35 pm

Ars reviews Marshmallow.

Great; I just got Lollipop set up.

Actually, this may be a good thing; there's a problem with CM12 and Sprint data access. I don't know what keeps fucking up my settings, but I keep losing access to the data network and having to reboot to recovery and reinstall a script somebody wrote to fix it. Yesterday it worked for less than an hour after I ran the script and then quit connecting again. (Obviously something is causing this; I need to do more research to figure out what keeps messing up my settings -- and what's going on in that zip file that fixes them -- so I can stop it. It hasn't gotten to the point where it's a big enough annoyance to revert back to KitKat yet, since it only takes a minute or two to fix when it happens, but it is pretty annoying.)

It looks like the main "feature" of the new OS is Google looking over your shoulder even more, all the time. Filing this bit away for later:

If all of this sounds like a privacy nightmare, the assistant feature can be turned off in the settings. Head to Settings -> Apps -> Configure Apps (the gear button) -> Default Apps -> Assist and Voice Input and turn off everything. Here, users can also set which app has access to the Assist API (there can only be one) and pick between sending the app text-only or text and a screenshot.


On the plus side, it looks like Google's been pretty good about publishing API's so you can potentially choose other providers for its services (or, y'know, your carrier or phone manufacturer can choose them for you):

With as much flack as Google gets from the FTC and other regulatory bodies for restricting rivals' access to Android, the Assist API shows Google's commitment to user choice. While developing Google Now on Tap, Google could have used a bunch of obfuscated, undocumented APIs that lock the operating system into its proprietary solution. Instead, it developed an API alongside Google Now on Tap.

Google added a bunch of hooks to AOSP and then made the most of those hooks, but any company is free to use them the way Google did. Users can also change from Google's solution to any other assistant app in the settings. So if Microsoft chooses to make a Bing or Cortana Assistant for Android Marshmallow (or expand its current Bing Snapshots functionality), the company is free to do so and users are free to choose it.

Every part of Android is like this. Google takes over the home screen, but any third-party app can do that. Google is the system-wide, always-on voice provider, but any app can plug into the hotword API. You can replace Google's keyboard, text-to-speech engine, SMS app, browser, or phone app.


Also good: granular app permissions. So instead of granting blanket access to a bunch of different permissions at install time, the app will request access to functions as it needs them. (Though it looks like it's still up to the vendor whether to let the app run with unnecessary permissions turned off or just error out and refuse to run.)

On the minus side, every app has access to the Internet now and that can't be turned off; I wonder if third-party versions of the OS will fix that.

Another change to the Android permission system is that every app automatically gets access to the Internet now, and users have no way of turning this off. Google's rationale is that because it is preventing apps from accessing user data, there is no reason to limit them from accessing the Internet. Apps also need Internet access to display non-Google ads (Google ads travel through Google Play Services), crash reporting, and analytics.

We'd imagine many users would still want to control what apps have access to the Internet, even if those apps supposedly don't have access to user data. This isn't only a matter of security and peace of mind, but locking down Internet access also lets users better manage their data cap. There is really no reason for a simple app like a flashlight or calculator to have access to the Internet, but under Android Marshmallow, they will.

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Thad » Mon Oct 12, 2015 1:26 am

I've been having issues with Sprint data since upgrading to Lollipop; I asked about it on xda-developers and somebody said the issue hasn't been fixed. (There's a custom ROM but it predates the Stagefright fix so I don't want to go that route.)

So I tried running the stock Marshmallow ROM, and...it keeps fucking up with SD card errors. (Like, my camera won't take pictures and says I need to insert an SD card; SwiftKey's predictive text won't run and it says to check my SD card...)

Which is a little odd considering that -- like everybody else currently running Marshmallow -- I own a Nexus device, which does not have an SD card slot.

Presumably it's actually referring to the data partition that it mounts as a simulated sdcard (/storage/emulated/sdcard), but I don't know what could be causing the error. It's the stock ROM direct from Google, except that I had to slap a custom kernel underneath it because otherwise it wouldn't boot after I rooted it.

So I'm going to take a few minutes to see if anyone else has encountered this problem and fixed it, but at this point I'm almost certainly just going to roll the fuck back to KitKat.

How the hell is it so hard to get a flagship Google phone to work right?

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Mazian » Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:52 pm

Thad wrote:How the hell is it so hard to get a flagship Google phone to work right?


Well, here we are about a month after Android 6.0's release, and I'm still waiting for my utterly generic, unmodified 2013 Nexus 7 to get the update. There aren't even sideloadable images available if I felt like doing it the hard way – those are only available if I hadn't installed the Stagefright security update to 5.1.1.

Meanwhile, my (iOS) phone is off contract in two weeks. I'm hoping to evaluate the current state-of-the-art, so I can decide whether I want to switch camps at the same time I switch to no-contract pricing. Not a strong showing from Team Android so far.

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby patito » Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:00 pm

pretty sure there's sideloads available, as I updated my own nexus 7 for 6.0 a few weeks ago.

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Mazian » Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:07 pm

patito wrote:pretty sure there's sideloads available, as I updated my own nexus 7 for 6.0 a few weeks ago.


You probably got in before the Stagefright mini-update. If you were on build LMY48M, there are OTA updates available. Everyone that updated to LMY48T is still stuck there.

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Thad » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:56 pm

Via The Reg, as of Nougat Google Play constantly tracks your location, unless you've got GPS turned off.

If I'm reading the article correctly, it only affects Nougat.

I only turn location tracking on when I'm about to pull up Google Maps and turn it back off when I'm done anyway, but this is still pretty shitty even by Google's invasive standards. Guess I'm glad they're not releasing Nougat on my phone.

And when I do get around to upgrading -- well, like I say, I usually leave location tracking off anyway, but just on principle this has me seriously considering whether I could handle life without the Play Store. I've bought a couple paid apps from it over the years but not that many, and there are alternatives.

I haven't really found a decent alternative to Google Maps, though; OsmAnd is cumbersome and inconvenient.

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Mongrel » Wed Sep 14, 2016 5:04 am

Don't forget there's always the option to just use google maps via browser. You lose some app functionality I assume, but it's an option.
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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Grath » Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:05 am

Thad wrote:Via The Reg, as of Nougat Google Play constantly tracks your location, unless you've got GPS turned off.

If I'm reading the article correctly, it only affects Nougat.

I only turn location tracking on when I'm about to pull up Google Maps and turn it back off when I'm done anyway, but this is still pretty shitty even by Google's invasive standards. Guess I'm glad they're not releasing Nougat on my phone.

And when I do get around to upgrading -- well, like I say, I usually leave location tracking off anyway, but just on principle this has me seriously considering whether I could handle life without the Play Store. I've bought a couple paid apps from it over the years but not that many, and there are alternatives.

I haven't really found a decent alternative to Google Maps, though; OsmAnd is cumbersome and inconvenient.

I don't have Nougat on my phone yet but when I get into the office I can look into what options and settings there actually are, vs random news article whining about something they may not understand.

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Thad » Wed Sep 14, 2016 10:19 am

I often disagree with the Reg's politics (here is a completely infuriating article about copyright), but its reporting tends to be pretty accurate.

Here's a linked piece from June on the official Android blog introducing Nearby, the "feature" in question that allows the Play Store (and apps using its API) to serve location-based ads.

As described by Mustafa Al-Bassam (also linked from the article):



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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Grath » Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:13 pm

I don't know if it will stop Google Play Services from asking for location, but here's the opt-out screen for the notifications (under Google -> Services -> Nearby) from my tablet (which doesn't have GPS so I haven't noticed much of this yet):
http://i.imgur.com/loQa7a5.jpg
My Google Play Store is also not enabled to access location so... That's a solution to the store tracking in theory.

Edit: also Google play services location is the way your device accesses gps so.. Yeah, it uses location.

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Thad » Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:53 pm

Googler sues his employer after he’s scolded for press leaks

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in San Francisco Superior Court, also alleges that Google's secrecy policies go too far. The company classifies information into "Need-to-Know," "Confidential," and "Public." Company guidelines state that "even public information is 'confidential' at Google," according to the lawsuit. That includes the identities of other team members within Google, as well as employees' compensation.

Doe claims that Google's Employee Communication Policy prohibits an employee from writing "a novel about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley" unless Google gives prior approval to both the book proposal and the final draft. Employees are prohibited from speaking to the media or anyone in the "investment community," which Doe argues could limit conversations with "countless individuals" since Google is a publicly traded company.

The lawsuit also claims that Google requires employees "to refrain from disclosing information about the amount of his or her wages." If true, that's a violation of the California Labor Code.

The complaint also indicates that company policy prohibits whistleblowing. It reads:

[A] second training program entitled “You Said What?” specifically states that Googlers must “avoid communications that conclude, or appear to conclude, that Google or Googlers are acting ‘illegally’ or ‘negligently,’ have ‘violated the law,’ should or would be ‘liable’ for anything, or otherwise convey legal meaning.” In other words, Googlers are prohibited from communicating concerns about illegal conduct within Google.

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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby sei » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:48 pm

Thad wrote:there are alternatives.
Realize this is old, but is there a reason F-Droid wasn't mentioned?
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Re: Don't Be Evil

Postby Thad » Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:06 am

At a guess, probably because most people want access to specific proprietary apps.

But yeah, it's definitely a bit of an odd list, even if you account for how old it is (ie old enough for Amazon and Humble Bundle not to make the list).

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