Codeweavers Crossover Running on a Chromebook!

Codeweavers Crossover allows you to run some (quite a few) Windows apps on Linux. It is the paid version of WINE. Well, Chromebooks are based on a special distro of Linux, and some Chromebooks (like the ASUS Chromebook Flip) now work with Android. So, look what Codeweavers has done!

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Here’s what Codeweavers says: “Google released Android for Intel based ChromeBooks. AND CrossOver for Android installed and ran on a Google ChromeBook. More importantly, we were able to install the Steam Client into CrossOver for Android and run LIMBO and other games. MORE IMPORTANTLY, we have DirectX 9 support, keyboard support, mouse support, and sound support TODAY!!! PEOPLE, we are staring at a Leprechaun riding on the back of a Unicorn while taking a picture of a UFO. We are running CrossOver through Android on a ChromeBook running a Windows based game launched from the Steam client. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE…EVER!!!”

Microsoft’s Future is In the Cloud

Microsoft sets itself on the Cloud for the future.

As PCs decline, Microsoft betting its future on the cloud

Tulsa World via the AP – “In a world where there’s a smartphone app for everything, one company — Inc. — has long been the host for an outsized share of online software and computing services.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wants to change that.

Nadella has poured billions of dollars into building new data centers around the world, hoping to position Microsoft as the leading alternative to Amazon in selling online computing power — housed in remote centers or ‘clouds’ — to internet startups and big corporations, as well as consumers.

As evidence the investment is paying off, Microsoft Corp. reported Tuesday that its Azure cloud-computing business more than doubled in sales last quarter, compared with a year earlier. That growth, combined with increases in revenue from Windows software licenses and other key segments, helped offset a big decline in revenue from the Nokia smartphone business that Microsoft largely shut down last year.

If Amazon has been the undisputed king of the cloud, analysts say Microsoft, Google and a few other tech giants are emerging as rivals. The competition could mean lower prices and more innovation, both for businesses that buy cloud-computing services and for consumers who use popular apps — from Netflix to Pinterest and Airbnb — that run in the cloud.

Amazon pioneered the cloud business almost 10 years ago, when the online retailer began renting out unused capacity on its own servers. Estimates vary, depending on how you define ‘cloud computing,’ but analysts at Synergy Research Group say Amazon still has more than 30 percent of the market, while Microsoft has grown to 10 percent — partly on the strength of Microsoft’s promise that its cloud services are compatible with Microsoft software that customers already have on their own computers.

IBM and Google have 7 and 5 percent, respectively. Like Microsoft, IBM reported this week that its cloud revenues increased in the last quarter, despite a broader decline in its traditional software business.

For consumers, competition in the cloud-computing industry could mean their favorite social media site or streaming entertainment app doesn’t depend on a single company to keep its service running. Increasingly, that’s also true for big companies like General Electric and Boeing, which provide online data and other services for their commercial customers, and which recently signed deals to move some of those services to Microsoft’s cloud.

‘Some companies will want to work with multiple cloud providers, so if anything goes wrong, they have redundancy,’ said Frank Gillett, a tech analyst with Forrester Research.

For Microsoft, meanwhile, cloud computing has been the company’s biggest source of growth in recent quarters. It’s helped drive up Microsoft’s stock price by 15 percent over the last year, despite sluggish sales of PC software and the near-collapse of its floundering smartphone business. The company’s stock was up about 4 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday following the earnings report.

Some investors worry the cloud business isn’t as profitable as selling traditional software, since the latter didn’t require massive spending on data centers. But cloud computing is ‘the area that offers the highest potential for the entire company to grow its way out of a very mature PC business,’ said Dan Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust, which holds Microsoft shares.

Results from Microsoft’s latest quarter underscored that trend. The company doesn’t disclose revenue for its Azure cloud computing service by itself. But Microsoft’s ‘Intelligent Cloud’ division — which includes Azure and some software that customers use in their own data centers — reported revenue of $6.7 billion, up 7 percent from a year earlier. That helped boost Microsoft’s overall sales to $22.6 billion, after adjusting for deferred revenue, for an overall increase of 2 percent.

Revenue from the division that includes Microsoft’s Office productivity software was up 5 percent. But sales from the ‘More Personal Computing’ segment fell 4 percent. The latter includes licensing fees that PC makers pay for Windows software, which saw an uncharacteristic increase, offset by declining revenue from smartphones and Xbox consoles.

Microsoft still relies heavily on the PC business, and it’s been aggressively promoting Windows 10, the latest version of its operating software for PCs and other devices. But Nadella has positioned Windows 10 as part of a broader software ecosystem that includes money-making online services like Skype and the ad-supported Bing search engine.

In a rare concession, Microsoft signaled last week that it was backing off its stated goal of getting Windows 10 on a billion devices by 2018. Analysts say the timetable was probably slowed by a continued slump in global PC demand, as well as Microsoft’s failure to persuade consumers to buy Windows-based phones.”

Mandriva Linux, Formerly Mandrake Linux, is No More!

I used to use Mandrake Linux back in the day (which later became Mandriva Linux to settle a copyright dispute with the Hearst Corporation over the “Mandrake” cartoon character in its newspapers.) It had some great features in it’s day. like the Mandriva Control Center for doing system administration.

You have to remember, this was prior to Unbuntu, Linux Mint, or Peppermint Linux. Now, they have quietly closed down the Mandriva Linux project.

Goodbye Mandriva, we will remember you fondly!

The Last VCR Will Roll Off the Assembly Line This Month!

Last VCR

Another old technology bites the dust!

RIP VHS: World’s Last VCR Will Be Made This Month

Forbes – By: Brittany Hodak – “Be warned, vintage videophiles: Japan’s Funai Electric, a company that claims to be the last manufacturer of videocassette recorders (VCRs), will manufacture its last VHS player this month.

Funai, which manufacturers the VCRs in China for Sanyo, says the decision comes after selling only 750,000 units last year, down from a peak of 15 million units per year. The decreased production numbers have made parts costly and difficult to source, the company says.

JVC’s VHS configuration debuted in 1977, sparking the VHS/Betamax configuration war. VHS trumped Betamax, which debuted in 1975, thanks in large part to its embracing of the X-Rated market; Sony banned the adult industry from releasing movies on its configuration, leading many consumers—who didn’t want to purchase two different devices—to choose VHS. A decade later, in 1987, VHS controlled 90% of the $5.25 billion VCR market. (Last year, Sony announced it would finally stop selling its blank Betamax cassette tapes.)

VHS ruled the home entertainment world for more than two decades. Sony created the DVD player in 1994, but the technology did not debut in the U.S. until 1997, due in larger part to copyright concerns from major movie studios. With early DVD players retailing for $1,000 or more, VHS remained the top configuration in the United States into the new millennium.

In 2001, retail DVDs topped VHS sales for the first time, capturing $4.6 billion of an annual $16.8 billion buying-and-rental market. However, only 25% of homes owning DVD players in 2001, and VHS remained the top rental configuration until mid-2003. The final nail in the VHS coffin came in 2oo6, when A History Of Violence became the final major Hollywood movie was released in the format.

Believe it or not, a search on Amazon for ‘VHS movies’ still returns 135,267 results. More than half of the titles are even available for free two-day Prime shipping! The most popular titles include a mix of classic Disney movies (Bambi, Lady and the Tramp and Beauty and the Beast lead the way) and original box sets of the Star Wars Trilogy. Pokemon: The First Movie also makes an appearance on the first page—presumably because Pokemon GO players are hoping to catch rare creatures inside.

It’s highly unlikely that VHS will ever receive the nostalgic revival that vinyl—and, in recent months, the cassette tape—has enjoyed, thanks in part to high-definition, ultra high-definition and 3D televisions. However, a small number of retro VHS titles still command big money on the secondary market, so look twice before you toss out those old videocassettes.

RIP, VCRs, and thanks for the memories.”

Google is Removing the App Launcher from Non-Google Operating Systems

Google giveth and Google taketh away!

Google is removing Chrome app launcher from Windows, Mac, and Linux

NH Voice – By: John DiPietro – “In a blog post published early Wednesday, Google said that it is shutting down the Chrome app launcher program for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. The removal of the Chrome app launcher program will be implemented by Google in a few weeks.

The Chrome app launcher is one of the features of Google’s Chrome Web browser. The feature, which was launched by Google nearly three years back, basically enables users to launch their apps — be it email or calendar — from within the browser through a shortcut panel.

According to the announcement made by Google, the Chrome app launcher feature is being removed from Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems; but it will still remain on the company’s own Chrome operating systems because it is a core part of that platform.

Google’s decision to remove the Chrome app launcher feature from Windows, Mac, and Linux OSes is apparently rooted in the evident reluctance of people in launching their Chrome Web apps outside of the Chrome Web browser.

About the removal of the Chrome app launcher feature, Marc Pawliger — Director of Google Chrome Engineering — said in the blog post: ‘The app launcher makes Chrome apps easy to open outside the browser, but we’ve found that users on Windows, Mac, and Linux prefer to launch their apps from within Chrome.’

A report published in the ComputerWorld said, ‘Google today said it would retire its Chrome App Launcher on Windows, OS X and Linux in July, citing user indifference. ‘We’ve found that users on Windows, Mac, and Linux prefer to launch their apps from within Chrome,’ said Marc Pawliger, a Chrome engineering director, in a short post to a company blog Wednesday.’

‘Beginning in a few weeks, Chrome will no longer enable the launcher when users first install a Chrome app,’ Pawliger added. ‘Anyone who currently has the launcher will receive a notice informing them that the launcher will be going away. In July, existing instances of the launcher will be removed.’

‘Not a day goes by that I don’t completely neglect the existence of the Chrome app launcher. And yet, here we are, facing its extinction dead-on. After realizing that most people are reluctant to launch their Chrome Web apps outside of the Chrome Web browser, Google has decided to retire the Chrome app launcher program for Windows, Mac, and Linux, according to a blog post published earlier today. The Chrome OS version, however, will remain intact,’ according to a news report published by DigitalTrends.

‘The app launcher makes Chrome apps easy to open outside the browser,’ writes Google Chrome Engineering Director Marc Pawliger, ‘but we’ve found that users on Windows, Mac, and Linux prefer to launch their apps from within Chrome.’

In a report published by the Winbeta, ‘While Microsoft is currently working to bring extensions to its still barebones Edge browser on Windows 10, Google plans to streamline its Chrome browser in the coming months. The company announced yesterday that it will soon get rid of its Chrome app launcher on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux as it found that users ‘prefer to launch their apps from within Chrome’.’

If you’re not familiar with it, the Chrome app launcher automatically installs as soon as you install a Chrome app from the Chrome web store (Chrome apps are glorified web apps that try to deliver an experience comparable to a native app). The Chrome app launcher uses a Start menu-like UI, and while it perfectly makes sense on Chrome OS as these are the only kind of apps that the OS can run, the launcher never made a lot of sense on other desktop operating systems.”

An Ubuntu Linux Tablet!

Ubuntu Tablet
An Ubuntu tablet? Yes, please!

New Linux tablet aims to make Ubuntu desktop mobile

ZDNet – By: Liam Tung – “Technology, which is touting four models in a new crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

Jolla’s Sailfish OS tablet fundraiser on Indiegogo didn’t pan out too well for backers of the Android alternative, who ultimately weren’t left out of pocket but wasted time on a product that for many never arrived.

MJ Technology is hoping that anyone not turned off by that experience will take a punt on its Ubuntu-powered devices.

If MJ Technology reaches its $200,000 target, the company promises to deliver 10.1-inch Mini Tanto for $230 by August. The device is advertised as having a 1.92GHz Intel Atom processor, 2GB, 64GB storage, and HD display at 1,920 x 1,200 pixels.

The company says it has prototype tablets and is in final design testing phases but needs the extra cash to start production.

Needless to say, backers should exercise caution before gambling on a product that isn’t guaranteed to be delivered.

The campaign is capitalizing on enthusiasm for a new Ubuntu tablet following this week’s launch of pre-sales for BQ’s Ubuntu-powered Aquaris M10 from €260 ($290), the world’s first Ubuntu tablet.

As MJ Technology points out, its goal is to build a true x86/x64 tablet, so that the device can run Ubuntu desktop, as opposed to BQ’s ARM-based device, which can only run Ubuntu Touch.

The company says the tablets will be released with the latest stable version of Ubuntu Desktop 16.04 LTS, with a current version of the Unity interface.

MJ Technology is also offering a $300 version of the Tanto 10.1 tablet with the same specs as the cheaper model, except for the faster 2.56GHz processor.

Meanwhile, the $400 Mini Wakizashi 8.9-inch display tablet comes with 2.56GHz Intel Atom processor, 4G RAM, and 128GB internal storage. The $450 model comes with 256GB storage.

Also on offer are two variants of the Katana, a 10.1-inch display tablet featuring a 2.56GHz Intel Atom processor, 4G RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB storage, costing $460 and $500 respectively.

The one-month campaign has only been live for one day, however with $6 and three backers so far it remains to be seen whether there’s any demand for this particular set of Ubuntu tablets.”

Microsoft Apologizes for Naughty Twitter-Bot!

Microsoft issued public apology yesterday when it’s AI, “Tay,” went rogue:

Microsoft Blog Apology

“As many of you know by now, on Wednesday we launched a chatbot called Tay. We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for, nor how we designed Tay. Tay is now offline and we’ll look to bring Tay back only when we are confident we can better anticipate malicious intent that conflicts with our principles and values.

I want to share what we learned and how we’re taking these lessons forward.

For context, Tay was not the first artificial intelligence application we released into the online social world. In China, our XiaoIce chatbot is being used by some 40 million people, delighting with its stories and conversations. The great experience with XiaoIce led us to wonder: Would an AI like this be just as captivating in a radically different cultural environment? Tay – a chatbot created for 18- to 24- year-olds in the U.S. for entertainment purposes – is our first attempt to answer this question.

As we developed Tay, we planned and implemented a lot of filtering and conducted extensive user studies with diverse user groups. We stress-tested Tay under a variety of conditions, specifically to make interacting with Tay a positive experience. Once we got comfortable with how Tay was interacting with users, we wanted to invite a broader group of people to engage with her. It’s through increased interaction where we expected to learn more and for the AI to get better and better.

The logical place for us to engage with a massive group of users was Twitter. Unfortunately, in the first 24 hours of coming online, a coordinated attack by a subset of people exploited a vulnerability in Tay. Although we had prepared for many types of abuses of the system, we had made a critical oversight for this specific attack. As a result, Tay tweeted wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images. We take full responsibility for not seeing this possibility ahead of time. We will take this lesson forward as well as those from our experiences in China, Japan and the U.S. Right now, we are hard at work addressing the specific vulnerability that was exposed by the attack on Tay.

Looking ahead, we face some difficult – and yet exciting – research challenges in AI design. AI systems feed off of both positive and negative interactions with people. In that sense, the challenges are just as much social as they are technical. We will do everything possible to limit technical exploits but also know we cannot fully predict all possible human interactive misuses without learning from mistakes. To do AI right, one needs to iterate with many people and often in public forums. We must enter each one with great caution and ultimately learn and improve, step by step, and to do this without offending people in the process. We will remain steadfast in our efforts to learn from this and other experiences as we work toward contributing to an Internet that represents the best, not the worst, of humanity.”

This Year’s ‘Pi Day’ is Special!

I always remind you about “Pi Day”… so here it is! Celebrate TODAY!

Why ‘Pi Day’ 2016 Is Extra Special

ABCnews – “Math nerds likely had already circled today on the calendar, but it’s worth noting this year’s ‘Pi Day’ is a once-in-a-century occurrence.

March 14 — or 3/14 — celebrates the mathematical constant of pi. Pi represents the ratio of circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. While it is often abbreviated as 3.14, pi has an infinite number of digits beyond the decimal point, starting with 3.141592653.

Last year’s Pi Day was one to celebrate since it was 3/14/15, perfectly matching the first numbers past the decimal point of pi. Last year, hardcore math fans even started celebrating the day at exactly 9:26 a.m. and 53 seconds. There’s a big reason to celebrate this year too — math enthusiasts are calling today ‘Rounded Pi Day.’

When rounding pi to the ten-thousandth (that’s four numbers past the decimal point), it comes out to 3.1416, matching today’s date — March 14, 2016.

And if you need any more reason to geek out about March 14, here’s one: it’s Albert Einstein’s 137th birthday.”

SQL Server on Linux?

I tell you, the end is nigh! Microsoft announced that they have ported SQL Server to Linux! Whaaat?!?

Microsoft SQL Server for Linux is a brilliant and logical idea

The Register – By: StorageBod – “I imagine there was a sharp intake of breath as Microsoft announced SQL Server for Linux, quickly followed by a checking of dates.

Yet it makes perfect sense; it’s a very sensible strategic move for Microsoft.

My question, and I know I’m not the only person asking this, is: what is the future of Windows in the data centre?

If SQL Server runs well on Linux, there are a vanishingly small number of workloads that I would want to run on Windows Server in a data centre. Yes, there are a lot of third party applicatons that run on Windows, and this is going to continue for many years, but I do really wonder if Microsoft’s heart is really in the Windows Server business.

Microsoft appear to have decided that their future is in cloud, not the enterprise data centre. I mean, it’s always been questionable whether anyone sane would run Exchange and now you don’t have to; Office 365 takes care of that for you.

A lot of people like Azure and, sure, Microsoft would prefer you to run your cloud apps in Azure, but if you want to run them elsewhere, they would like to still make money out of you. SQL Server on Linux will remove some of the friction for deployment in the cloud.

SQL Server running on Linux also allows Microsoft to compete with Oracle in those data centres where Windows is grudgingly tolerated. There are certainly those who will have you believe that SQL Server is not an enterprise product, but many of those comments have been driven by the stigma of Windows. I work with DBAs who do both; for most workloads, SQL Server and Oracle are equally good.

So what’s left for Microsoft to do?

Well, if they announce AD Services running on Linux, you’ll know that their heart is no longer in the Windows data centre.”

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