If you've been to one of my talks, (if you haven't, you should come to one), you know that the project that became VideoLAN and VLC, is almost 5 years older than that, and was called Network 2000.
Moreover, the first commit on the VideoLAN Client project is from August 8th 1999, by Michel Kaempf had 21275 lines of code already, so the VLC software was started earlier in 1999.
However, the most important date for the birth of VLC is when it was allowed to be used outside of the school, and therefore when the project was GPL-ized: February 1st, 2001.
As they're working towards version 3.0, VLC has had about 700 contributors, 70,000 commits, 2 billion downloads, and millions of users. It's available for Windows, GNU/Linux, BSD, OS X, iPhone and iPad, Android, Solaris, Windows Phones, BeOS, OS/2, Android TV, Apple TV, Tizen and ChromeOS.
I'm a fan and find it particularly useful as a media player and streaming client.
Report: Every fitness tracker but Apple's is a privacy nightmare
Aaron Sankin for The Daily Dot:
Entitled "Every Step You Fake: A Comparative Analysis of Fitness Tracker Privacy and Security," the report is a collaboration between Canadian privacy watchdog Open Effect and the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab. The teams looked at eight wearables: Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge HR, Garmin Vivismart, Jawbone Up 2, Mio Fuse, Withings Pulse O2, and Xaomi Mi Band.
The study found that, in every case save for the Apple device, the wearables emitted a unique Bluetooth identifier that allowed a third-party to track the device's movement over time if the device was not actively paired with another device.
The Apple Watch randomizes its identifier, which makes tracking its users more difficult.
The study also found that it's possible to alter or delete data on devices. There were no vulnerabilities found in the Apple Watch security.
Unauthorized Touch ID sensor repairs causing problems
A spokeswoman for Apple told Money (get ready for a jargon overload): "We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure."
She adds: "When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an 'error 53' being displayed ... If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support."
I think protecting the Touch ID from tampering is a good move, but the way Apple is going about this is ridiculous. Non-specific error, no documentation, and no notification to customers. A more reasonable response would be to simply disable Touch ID feature to unlock the phone/apps, not brick the entire device with no explaination.
Comcast vs ESPN on skinny cable bundles
Peter Kafka for Re/Code
That theory gained more credence last month, when ESPN boss John Skipper said the sports programmer had seen subscriber losses in part because of "people trading down to lighter cable packages" that don't include his network.
Then yesterday, the picture got fuzzier, when the country's biggest pay TV provider indicated that it was getting people to pay for more, not less, TV.
During Comcast's* earnings call, cable boss Neil Smit told analysts that skinny bundles "are actually a very small percentage of our overall video customer base," and that 75 percent of the company's growth in video subscribers last quarter had come from people paying for "higher-end packages."
My question is how many people are paying more just to get a few channels that are only available on upper tier packages? And then, how long until those people decide their select channels aren't worth paying the for full bundle?
The so called skinny bundle would give customers options of which channels they'd like to have. It won't quite be a la carte, but should give consumers a lot more options rather than basically either no sports or a $60-$70 a month bill.
Mossberg: Apple's apps need work
In the last couple of years, however, I've noticed a gradual degradation in the quality and reliability of Apple's core apps, on both the mobile iOS operating system and its Mac OS X platform. It's almost as if the tech giant has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to these core software products, while it pursues big new dreams, like smartwatches and cars.
I think certainly there's room for improvement for features, stability, and simplicity across the board. I'd disagree though with iTunes on the premises this is a recent or emerging problem for Apple. I've disliked iTunes it seems for decade-plus. I don't really have much to complain about Mail. I've tried some other applications, but I keep going back to Mail. Of course, I don't use GMail, which appears to be Walt's pain point with Mail.
I do agree though Apple's biggest issues seem to be when it gets to the cloud. Services can be confusing and clunking at times, but more pressing is I think how it lags competing services in features and price.
LifeProof announced slim NUUD iPhone 6s/Plus case
LifeProof today announced availability of the new NUUD iPhone case. The NUUD is designed to work with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
The NUUD offers four element protection for dirt, snow, water, and drops. The NUUD is water proof up to 6.6 feet for an hour and rated to survive 6.6 foot drops.
The NUUD is available for preorder and expected to ship starting later this month. Pricing is $89.99 for the iPhone 6s case and $99.99 for the iPhone 6s Plus.
Fitbit announces fashion-focused Alta
Touted as Fitbit's most fashionable fitness tracker, Alta was announced today. The wrist wearable will help users track activities, provide weekly goals, remind you to move throughout the day and automatic sleep tracking.
The Alta has a modular design allowing users to swap out bands. Additional bands can be purchased including a $29.95 colored fitness band, a premium soft leather band for $59.95 and a polished stainless steel band for $99.95.
The Alta is available now for pre-order for $129.95 and is expected to ship in March.
iPhone 7 rumored to lose camera nub, antenna lines
According to a source who has provided reliable information in the past, the iPhone 7 body will appear very similar to the design used for the iPhone 6 and 6s, with two significant exceptions.
The first involves the rear camera, which protrudes slightly on the iPhone 6 and 6s. On the iPhone 7, the camera is said to sit flush with the rear casing, enabled by a thinner camera module.
The other item mentioned is the antenna lines may be removed from the case design.
The protruding camera seems kind of un-Apple like to me. The camera, however, is such a big deal, I'm willing to deal with a lot if it means better pictures. I know though it really bugs some people.
Both the camera and antenna lines don't bother me much since I usually have a silicone case on it. The metal, round edges, and glass are just too slick for my comfort. Using a case obviously hides any external designs, which is not a big deal regardless, and it keeps the camera protected and out of the way.
Personally I'll be much more interested in how well the camera and antenna performs vs just ascetics.
ZAGG announces merger with mophie
ZAGG Inc and mophie inc. announced today the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which ZAGG will acquire mophie. The transaction will leverage the unique strengths of two industry leaders in the mobile accessories sector to create a business with greater product diversification and improved operational capabilities.
Seems to be interesting times for accessory makers. Just in my opinion, Apple's glass has gotten so good screen protectors are superfluous. I was a big advocate for a number of years, but screens have become very durable that it's simply not worth the expense and trouble. mophie's big thing to me has always been battery backup cases. I was also a fan, but similarly, the iPhone 6/6s Plus battery I think is pretty great to even worry about battery life. The iPhone 6/6s, however, often runs a little low, but Apple has recently released its own solution.
These companies do more than those products, but I'd guess diversification is needed, and perhaps also consolidation.
Future of Google's Nexus to take a page from Apple
Brandon Russell for TechnoBuffalo:
It might not happen this year, or even next, but soon Google will have complete control over how its Nexus phones are made. The approach would match Apple's iPhone strategy, treating outside manufacturers as contractors rather than seeking out help for development. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, allegedly wants more of a vertically integrated approach in an effort to challenge Apple in the high-end market.
Apple appears to continue re-writting conventional dogma of how the tech world works. First we had the aggregate of Microsoft's ecosystem would overpower Apple in tablets and mobile just like the Wintel PC did. Then Google's open is better approach with device partners, again just like the PC.
Both companies are now look to emulating Apple's whole widget approach. Apple I think raised the bar of delivering the better customer experience and probably the best way to compete is to control everything the customer touches.