AsteroidOS: Open Source OS for Your Watch!

AsteroidOS is an open source project that wants to save your smartwatch from obsolescence

Android Police – By: Michael Crider – “Android was once the darling of the open source community, though you’d be forgiven for forgetting that – these days its commercial elements seem to be all that make the news. One developer is hoping that community can save the smartwatch, or at the very least, breathe a little new life into existing designs. Florent Revest, a French computer science student, released the 1.0 alpha version of AsteroidOS today. It’s ready to run on multiple Android Wear devices: the original LG G Watch, the Watch Urbane, the Asus ZenWatch 2, and the Sony Smartwatch 3.

AsteroidOSAsteroidOS is fully open source, based on Linux and designed for (relatively) easy porting to existing smartwatch hardware. Revest has been working on it for more than a year, aided by a collection of contributions from the GitHub and XDA communities. At the moment AsteroidOS is functional, but basic – tools are limited to most of the things you’d find in a ‘dumb’ phone, like an alarm clock, calculator, weather app, and a Settings menu. A custom Android app allows syncing notifications and music control via Bluetooth with any Android phone.

Prospective users can download and install AsteroidOS on their watches after unlocking them and flashing the custom ROM via ADB and fastboot, in a process that should be fairly familiar to anyone who’s used CyanogenMod or similar ROMs. But don’t be too hasty with your fastboot OEM unlock just yet: only the original G Watch has full support at the moment. The other smartwatches with semi-official ports of version 1.0 all lack Bluetooth support, which is kind of a killer for a functional smartwatch.

Still, it’s good to see that someone still believes in smartwatches. Pebble has just been swallowed up by Fitbit to join the more focused ranks of ‘activity trackers,’ and Motorola seems to be throwing in the towel on its Moto 360 series. Samsung seems committed to at least another year or two of wearable development, but the other big manufacturers are suspiciously quiet on that front. We’re still waiting to see if Google’s self-branded Wear devices will materialize or not.

So with the specter of gloom hanging over smartwatches in general, can a single passion project inject some life back into the category? Maybe, maybe not. But at the very least it will give owners something to do with hardware that seems to be rapidly fading into mobile history.”

The Libreboot Notebook Debuts!

Libreboot NotebookThe Libreboot project gives us the first fully open boot BIOS, now they are developing a sweet Open Source notebook!

The Libreboot C201 from Minifree is really really really ridiculously open source

Techcrunch – By: John Biggs – “Open source laptops — ones not running any commercial software whatsoever — have been the holy grail for free software fans for years. Now, with the introduction of libreboot, a truly open source boot firmware, the dream is close to fruition.

The $730 laptop is a bog standard piece of hardware but it contains only open source software. The OS, Debian, is completely open source; to avoid closed software the company has added an Atheros Wi-Fi dongle with open source drivers rather than use the built-in Wi-Fi chip.

Open source is not just fun, it’s also wildly important. While Linux on the desktop is still years away, Debian is already fully featured and fun to use and the Libreboot project goes the last mile by ensuring everything is open source from boot time to shutdown.

The laptop itself simply runs a quad-core 1.8GHz ARM CPU (Rockchip RK3288) and has 4GB RAM with 16GB built-in eMMC storage. You can add more storage with a microSD card. It has an 11-inch screen and a three-year warranty.

Not many of us actively hunt down open source laptops, but it’s nice to know that when we want to wrest our freedom back from the corporate computing giants we have some real options.”

The Google Chrome Browser Will Now Default to HTML5

Slowly, but surely, Flash is dying!

Google Chrome Slowly Ditching Adobe Flash By Defaulting To HTML5 On Most Websites

Tech Times – By Vamien McKalin – “The slow but sure death of Adobe Flash continues as Google has updated Chrome to make sure the popular web browser prioritizes HTML5 over Flash on most websites. The new update is available for Windows, Linux, and MacOS computers.

The new update, known only as Chrome 55, was in testing via the beta channel for quite some time. Google is feeling confident about the new feature, so it has been pushed out to the public and stable channel for all users. The idea to block Flash on most websites is a great one because the media software is known for causing system vulnerabilities on a regular basis.

‘The Chrome team is delighted to announce the promotion of Chrome 55 to the stable channel for Windows, Mac and Linux. This will roll out over the coming days/weeks,’ according to Google.

‘Chrome 55.0.2883.75 contains a number of fixes and improvements — a list of changes is available in the log.’

It should be noted that blocking Flash was always a possibility in Google Chrome for a number of years now. Users had the option to visit the settings area where they could decide whether or not they wanted to block the Flash plugin from automatically loading videos.

Should users wish to view a blocked video, they had to click on the video’s placeholder to activate it. However, with this new update, there’s no need to block Flash anymore. After taking the updated Google Chrome for a spin, it’s clear that the browser will load Flash on websites that do not yet support HTML5.

This move could push webmasters to abandon Flash in favor of HTML5 faster. As time goes by, internet users should eventually be free from the Adobe software and be fully adopted to what’s perceived as a much safer, and more power efficient, HTML5.

How To Upgrade To Chrome 55

It’s quite easy to upgrade to the newest version of Chrome. Just click on the three vertical dots button, then click on About. You’ll need to wait for the web browser to download the update if it hasn’t already, then after that, click on Relaunch to restart Chrome.

Once the browser is up and running again, you can rest assured that Chrome 55 has been installed.

Google is not only working to make its Chrome web browser better for everyone. The company has not too long ago worked directly with Microsoft to bring Office 365 to Chromebooks. There’s a catch, however, as the software won’t be free on all Chromebook laptop computers.”

Plex Media Server Adds Cloud Sources

PlexNow your Plex Media Server has even more talents!

Plex can pull media from Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive

Engadget – By: Steve Dent – “Plex has added support for Google Drive, OneDrive and DropBox to its Plex Cloud service. The original idea with the service, which debuted in beta this September, was to void the need for a dedicated media server or network attached storage (NAS) drives. That way, assuming you have a decently fast internet connection, you can stream your movies or songs wherever you are via files that are parked securely in the cloud.

When Plex Cloud first launched, it only offered support for Amazon Cloud Drive. However, the company acknowledged on Reddit that ‘we have run into technical challenges with the Amazon Drive integration,’ adding that it’s ‘working hard to resolve the issues.’ According to comments on the Plex forums, the problem seems to be that Plex Media devices suddenly won’t sync with Amazon’s Web Services after working before. Users who paid for a $60 yearly Amazon Cloud subscription just for Plex Cloud are concerned that the retail giant is limiting Plex access, possibly over excessive uploading.

Users now have a lot more options, however, and many who’ve already tried Google Drive say it’s working fine. Plex streaming is available on most devices including PCs, smartphones, consoles, smart TVs and dedicated streaming boxes. If you decide to try the Plex Cloud service in beta (you have to score an invitation), you’ll need a $5 per month ($40 per year) Plex Pass. Also, beware that all of those services prohibit pirated content and you may even have issues if you legally rip and upload DVDs or other media.”

An $89.00 Laptop is Coming Soon!

Pinebook Laptop

This laptop is based on the Raspberry Pi competitor, Pine64. I want one.

$89 Linux laptop? Check out the new Pinebook from Raspberry Pi rival Pine

ZDNet – By: Liam Tung – “The makers of a popular Raspberry Pi challenger, the $20 Pine A64, have returned with two sub-$100 Linux laptops, called Pinebooks.

The Pine A64 stood out among developer boards because it was cheap and relatively powerful, helping its maker raise $1.7m on Kickstarter last year with just a $30,000 target.

With an Allwinner quad-core ARM Cortex A53 64-bit processor, the A64 board could run Ubuntu, Debian, or Android Lollipop 5.1. The same processor is powering the 11-inch and 14-inch Pinebook notebooks, which at $89 and $99 respectively, could become some of the cheapest laptops available.

The displays on both models have a 1,280 x 720-pixel resolution, and besides the A64’s ARM processor, the Pinebooks include the basics needed for a functional laptop, including display, keyboard, touchpad, storage, memory, and ports.

Both models feature 2GB LPDDR3 RAM, 16GB eMMC 5.0 storage, two USB 2.0 ports, a microSD slot supporting up to 256GB additional storage, a mini HDMI input to connect to an external display, headphone jack, built-in microphone, a 1.2-megapixel camera, and a 10,000mAh lithium polymer battery. They also support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connections.

CNX Software, which first reported the new laptops, notes that the Pinebook’s system on a chip (SoC) includes a Mali-400MP2 GPU. Also, while the machines will run all operating systems supported by the A64 boards, the firmware needs to be modified due to the LPDDR3 RAM. The devices should support the Remix OS Android fork.

While the new netbooks share a common system on a chip, CNX notes that the new laptops aren’t actually based on the A64 board itself, but rather on a custom board that’s designed to keep the laptops thin.

According to the Pinebook’s spec sheet, the notebook is 352mm wide, 233mm deep, and 18mm high, or 14in by 9in by 0.7in. It weighs 1.2kg, or 2.65lb.

The devices aren’t actually for sale yet, but would-be buyers can register to be told when sales commence.”

Cord Cutters, Take Notice!

We are getting close to being able to drop cable and get cable channels via Internet Streaming!

AT&T Announces DirecTV Now Launch With $35 Plan, $5 HBO and Cinemax

Streaming Media – “AT&T officially launched DirecTV Now yesterday, offering several details on the streaming service but also leaving a few gaps. Starting November 30, DirecTV Now will offer four tiers: Live a Little with over 60 channels for $35 per month, Just Right with over 80 channels for $50 per month, Go Big with over 100 channels for $60 per month, and Gotta Have It with over 120 channels for $70 per month. However, the Go Big tier will be reduced to $35 at launch, and all who grab the intro price will be grandfathered in at that rate. AT&T did not give an end date for the intro pricing. AT&T will offer two add-on packs, with HBO and Cinemax for $5 each per month.

While AT&T repeatedly emphasized the simplicity of the offering, the devil is in the many details, and consumers may have a hard time deciding whether or not it’s worth switching from cable or satellite. For one thing, the company hasn’t announced full channel lineups for each tier. Promotional materials show that the lowest tier includes several of the most popular basic cable channels, such as AMC, FX, Bravo, CNN, E, and A&E. Channels added in the next three tiers seem to be far less popular, but the second tier adds access to two regional sports networks (RSNs).

Subscribers will be able to access two concurrent streams. DirecTV Now will support iOS and Android devices, Apple TV, Chromecast (on Android), and Amazon Fire TV and Stick at launch. Support for Roku, Amazon Fire tablet, and Chromecast on iOS will come sometime in 2017. The company didn’t mention gaming console support at all. AT&T will provide a limited amount of free content through the DirecTV Now app to give people a sample of what’s available.

Besides live channels, DirecTV Now will include a video-on-demand library of 15,000 titles. The interface emphasizes live content, but doesn’t allow live video pause. The service won’t offer a cloud DVR at launch, but will add the feature in 2017. Viewers will be able to catch up on programming they missed with the 72-hour lookback feature, but that won’t be long enough for some viewers. The service won’t support 4K video or 5.1 audio at launch.

According to AT&T Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey, who spoke at the launch event, customers with poor credit are a major obstacle for satellite TV providers, and 20 million U.S. homes are locked out because of their credit. DirecTV Now gives them an option, as it doesn’t require a credit check. The company doesn’t send out a monthly bill, but simply draws from the customer’s debit card.

AT&T will offer several incentives for new customers. Those who pre-pay for three months can get an Apple TV for free, while those who pre-pay for one month can get a free Amazon Fire TV Stick. Some LeEco TVs and phones will include free service for a limited number of months. Consumers will be able to test the service out with a 14-day free trial.

DirecTV will provide targeted ad opportunities, which the company says is essential for keeping costs down. There’s no ad-free option, and subscribers certainly won’t be able to skip ads.

Other details consumers will need to pay attention to involve live local and sport programming, where AT&T was not able to simplify rights. DirecTV Now will offer content from ABC, NBC, and Fox at launch, but not CBS. Viewers will only be able to watch live broadcast programming in areas where those three networks own and operate the local affiliate stations. Subscribers in other areas will need to wait a day for access. The service doesn’t support DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. Verizon has an exclusive on NFL mobile streaming, so that gives DirecTV Now a hole in its sports coverage.

With DirecTV Now, AT&T isn’t trying to sell just an OTT service, but a package of services. Streaming DirecTV Now video won’t count against AT&T customer data caps. New customers who sign up for wireless plans with messaging can get Fullscreen’s OTT service for free for one year, with data cap-free streaming. The announcement of data-free streaming has already angered net neutrality proponents.

Actress Reese Witherspoon was on hand to announce that in 2017 DirecTV Now will include an on-demand channel with content from her production company Hello Sunshine. AT&T also announced it will carry exclusive behind-the-scenes video from musician Taylor Swift.”

Yesterday There Was a Huge DDOS Attack on the East Coast

Did you notice?

Large DDoS attacks cause outages at Twitter, Spotify, and other sites

TechCrunch – By: Darrell Etherington – “Several waves of major cyberattacks against an internet directory service knocked dozens of popular websites offline today, with outages continuing into the afternoon.

Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, Shopify, and other websites have been inaccessible to many users throughout the day. The outages are the result of several distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the DNS provider Dyn, the company confirmed. The outages were first reported on Hacker News.

‘We are actively in the third flank of this attack,’ Dyn’s chief strategy officer Kyle York told reporters around 4:30 p.m. ET today. ‘It’s a very smart attack. As we mitigate, they react.’

Dyn’s general counsel Dave Allen added that, with the help of other infrastructure companies Akamai and Flashpoint, Dyn has determined that some of the traffic used in the attacks comes from the Mirai botnet, a network of infected Internet of Things devices used in other recent large-scale DDoS attacks.

Dyn and other DNS providers operate as a link between the URLs you type into your browser and the corresponding IP addresses. DDoS attacks are frequently used to censor specific websites by overwhelming them with junk traffic and knocking them offline. However, by attacking Dyn, it’s possible to overwhelm that directory function and cause outages and loading problems across a large swath of the internet.

Other sites experiencing issues include Box, Boston Globe, New York Times, Github, Airbnb, Reddit, Freshbooks, Heroku and Vox Media properties. Users in Europe and Asia may experience fewer problems than those in the U.S. — according to DownDectector’s outage map, the DDoS attacks against Dyn are primarily impacting U.S. users.

The DDoS attacks on Dyn began this morning. Service was temporarily restored around 9:30 a.m. ET, but a second attack began around noon, knocking sites offline once again.The DNS provider said engineers were working on ‘mitigating’ the issue, but a third wave began around 4:30 p.m. ET before being resolved roughly two hours later.

‘The complexity of the attacks is making it complicated for us. It’s so distributed, coming from tens of millions of source IP addresses around the world. What they’re doing is moving around the world with each attack,’ Dyn’s York explained.York said that the DDoS attack initially targeted the company’s data centers on the East Coast, then moved to international data centers. The attack contained ‘specific nuance to parts of our infrastructure,’ he added.

The White House press secretary told members of the press this morning that the Department of Homeland Security is looking into the attacks. Dyn employees said the company is working with law enforcement to investigate the attacks and has received support from customers, competitors, and the State Department.

Dyn said it has not yet attributed the attack to any group or country, and that the DDoS traffic has been coming from tens of millions of discrete IP addresses around the globe. Although DDoS attacks are sometimes accompanied by extortion letters that ask a company to hand over bitcoin in exchange for ceasing an attack, Dyn said it has not received any messages from its attackers. ‘We are working incredibly diligently on that with the law enforcement community and infrastructure community,’ York said of the attribution process. ‘No one wants to be next.’

The DDoS attack on Dyn follows on the heels of one of the largest DDoS attack in history, which used the Mirai botnet to target the website of independent cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs. Although DDoS attacks have historically used large networks of compromised computers called botnets to send junk traffic to sites, overwhelming them and making them inaccessible to legitimate users, the Krebs attack expanded in scale by using compromised Internet of Things devices like security cameras to build a botnet. IoT devices are cheaply manufactured and notoriously insecure, making them easy to compromise.

After the attack on Krebs’ website, the code used to build the botnet leaked online, making more massive DDoS attacks all but inevitable.

‘There are 3.4 billion internet users globally and 10 to 15 billion IoT devices. It’s a complex world. All we can do is lock arms together and see how we can rectify this,’ York said.

Security researcher Bruce Schneier reported in September that several internet infrastructure companies had been targeted with DDoS attacks, although they had not caused the kind of widespread outages experienced today. Shneier wrote that the attacks seemed designed to test companies’ defensive capabilities:

‘These attacks are significantly larger than the ones they’re used to seeing. They last longer. They’re more sophisticated. And they look like probing. One week, the attack would start at a particular level of attack and slowly ramp up before stopping. The next week, it would start at that higher point and continue. And so on, along those lines, as if the attacker were looking for the exact point of failure.’

‘Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services,’ Schneier added.

If you’re experiencing connection problems, you can try changing your DNS settings (instructions for how to do this on Mac and Windows are here). Anecdotally, our staff has used OpenDNS ( and and OpenNIC servers and seen connectivity improve.”

Microsoft Makes Money on Office and the Cloud

MicrosoftAzure and Office 365 offset declines in the PC market, but the company’s phone efforts continue to be a drag

Infoworld – By Blair Hanley Frank – “Microsoft’s ongoing move to the cloud paid off once again over the past quarter, as strong growth from Azure and Office 365 offset declines in the PC market.

The company announced on Thursday that its quarterly revenue for the three-month period ending in September was flat overall at $20.5 billion. The company’s net profit was down 4 percent year-over-year from $4.9 billion to $4.7 billion.

Those results were driven by quarterly revenue from the company’s Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes Azure and Windows Server, and its Productivity and Business Processes segment, which includes Office 365 and Dynamics. Intelligent Cloud revenue grew 8 percent year-over-year to $6.4 billion, while Productivity and Business Processes segment revenue grew 6 percent to $6.7 billion.

It’s another positive sign for the cloud-focused strategy that the company adopted under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella.

Azure revenue grew by 116 percent year over year, and Microsoft revealed for the first time that its profit margin from its cloud platform is 49 percent. The company continues to keep the exact revenue and profit numbers from its public cloud platform under wraps, however.

Office 365 commercial revenue grew 51 percent year-over-year. Microsoft reported it now has more than 85 million commercial monthly active users of its cloud-based productivity suite as a service offering.

Surface sales were another bright spot for Microsoft. The company’s line of tablets and laptops brought in $926 million over the past quarter, compared to $672 million during the same period in 2015. Phone revenue continued to drag the company down for another quarter, however — revenue from that division dropped by 72 percent year-over-year.

Microsoft’s non-GAAP results of $22.3 billion in revenue and earnings of $0.76 a share blew past analyst expectations for the quarter. The consensus of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was an expected $21.7 billion in revenue and earnings of $0.68 a share. Investors rejoiced at the news, sending the company’s stock to an all-time high above $60 per share, beating a previous high set in 1999.”

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL

Pixel and Pixel XL review: What happens when Google designs phones?

Engadget – By: Chris Velazco
– “Google’s fascination with hardware stretches back years. Remember the early days of Android and the G1? The rise of the Nexus line? Those ill-fated Android@Home lightbulbs and those beautiful Chromebooks? It took Google a while, but that fascination turned into a sort of experimental hobby, and now into something far more serious. Software is Google’s art, and the company has been working for a long time to craft the right canvases.

That’s where the new Pixel and Pixel XL come in.

Google has more control over the development — and destiny — of these two smartphones than it ever had with any Nexus phone. It’s not surprising, then, that the company has turned to close friends to help chart this new course. Former Motorola Mobility CEO Rick Osterloh is back at Google heading up hardware after the search giant sold his company to Lenovo. HTC, which most recently worked with Google on the Nexus 9 tablet, is handling the Pixel phones’ production and assembly. There’s a palpable sense that Google wanted to round up its A-team for this project.

It shows. These Pixel phones are a culmination on Google’s part of years’ worth of experimenting with hardware, and they’re unsurprisingly great.

Excellent build quality
Fantastic camera
Smooth performance

Yawn-inducing design
Less water-resistant than rivals


After years of experimenting with Nexus devices, Google finally decided it wanted to make a phone of its own. HTC might be assembling the phones, but Google designed and developed the Pixel from end-to-end. In doing so, it crafted a truly great smartphone that sadly looks a little dull. Still, the inclusion of a speedy new Snapdragon 821 chipset and a fantastic camera make the smaller Pixel a device to be reckoned with. Now, if only it were a little cheaper.”

A Windows 10 PC in Your Hand!

Ockel Sirius A – Indiegogo from Ockel Products on Vimeo.

Need a Windows 10 PC in your pocket? Phone-sized Ockel Sirius A might just fit

ZDNet – By: Liam Tung
– “Dutch hardware developers have launched the Sirius A, a Windows 10 device with phone-like specs but all the ports you’d expect from a PC.

The maker of the Sirius A, Netherlands-based Ockel, describes it as the ‘world’s most versatile mini PC’ and is looking ship the device by May 2017, after rounding up its search for backers on Indiegogo.

The Sirius A’s phone-like features include its six-inch full HD touch display, a 3,000mAh battery, 64GB in-built flash storage, a microSD booster slot, and 3.5mm audio port. It’s also got an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer for compass functionality.

Besides these features, the Sirius A aims to capture the feel of a desktop via additional ports not found in any smartphone. These include two USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port, and ports for HDMI, a DisplayPort, Ethernet and a 12V power input for stationary use-cases, such as employing it as an input device when connected to a larger display.

It will also ship with Windows 10 Home 64-bit, so all desktop applications should work on the tiny PC, and it’s powered by an Intel Atom quad-core processor with 4GB RAM. Wireless connectivity is provided by a Wi-Fi chip and Bluetooth. However, unlike most PCs, it eschews a cooling fan. Instead, it has a heatsink built into the aluminum casing.

As a mini-PC, the device should be extremely portable at 85mm x 150mm wide. Likely to support the additional PC ports, the Sirius A features an interesting tapered design, starting at 20mm wide on the port side, slimming down to 6mm at the front. Despite its pocketable form-factor, the Sirius A only has battery life of about three hours under ‘casual usage’.

The company says it’s working with Microsoft to develop a ‘switch mode’ that will allow the device to behave as a mouse or soft keyboard when connected to a larger screen.

It’s not clear from the Indiegogo campaign whether when used as a mobile device the screen automatically rotates to suit the direction in which it’s held.

The campaign for the Sirius A has raised $259,500 from 491 backers so far and has 22 days left. Prices under the campaign period start at $549 however the device will retail for $699.

The Sirius A follows Ockel’s release last year of the Windows 10 Sirius B, which lacked a touch display but otherwise offered similar specs.”

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