J.D. takes a look at some inspirations and tools that will help you make fun new music playlists and Pedro tells us what full-sized headphones he uses with his mobile devices. In the news this week, note taking and digital clipping service Evernote is the latest cloud service to be hacked; Apple’s rumored iWatch could be a huge success; and Twitter pulls the plug on Tweetdeck.
J.D. on what to expect when you install the latest version of Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux distro and Pedro on the Academy Awards ceremony. In the news, rumors heat up about casting for the new Star Wars movies; ISPs are watch your P2P downloading habits; the world’s smallest wireless charger; Mozilla’s new Firefox OS is nigh; and Samsung unveils the Galaxy 8.0 “phablet”.
Sure, it’s not hitting those Microsoft installation figures, but the Linux operating system continues to gain popularity. If you’ve got old hardware gathering dust around the house because it’s too old to run the latest flavor of Windows, installing the free (or very inexpensive) Linux operating system on the old gear can give it new life.
As mentioned last week and before, Ubuntu Linux is even making the move to tablets and smartphones. But if you know nothing about the system and are curious, it’s quite easy to repurpose your older PC laptop and desktop hardware into an Ubuntu Linux machine. Ubuntu is free, can use thousands of equally free applications and generally has lighter system requirements for hardware. It’s also one of the easier Linux distributions for newcomers to wrangle.
The current desktop edition, Quantal Quetzal (aka Ubuntu Linux 12.10) came out in October 2012, but the long-term support version is Precise Pangolin, version 12.04. If you haven’t upgraded your Ubuntu installation in a while — or are new to the system — Quantal Quetzal has a number of new features, including the ability to pin Web applications to the Launcher bar, plus search and preview powers right from the Dash.
Ars Technica has a very detailed look at Quantal Quetzal, as does ZDNet, and neither review sugarcoats the annoyances of this current distribution. The Ars review also points out some installation problems on some of the test systems and some workarounds, so it’s definitely worth a read before you jump in.
Not sure if you want to make that move to Linux Land? Not a problem. You can give it a test drive and run it from a DVD or a USB stick. The Ubuntu site has instructions. You can also just go for it and download an .iso file to burn your own installation disc, or use the Windows installer to get the system on your PC.
The system requirements for Ubuntu Linux are pretty low compared to recent editions of Windows. But if you want to try to squeeze even more life out of really ancient hardware, you can try a “lite” version of Linux like Lubuntu or Xubuntu instead.
Although Quantal Quetzal just came out last October, this bird won’t be flying high as the current version for long. The next edition, 13.04, will be called Raring Ringtail and has an expected release this April.
Ubuntu is not the only Linux distribution out there. Some people don’t care for its Unity interface and its approach to privacy, which Canonical founder and Ubuntu leader Mark Shuttleworth addressed recently and has blogged about.
If you try it out and decide the Ubuntu variation of Linux is not for you — or those privacy issues are a deal-killer — check out one of the other distros like Linux Mint or Mageia. Windows and Mac OS X may dominate the current desktop operating system market share, but with Linux, you can be part of the 1% at last.
Interplanetary boulders and red-plant dust have been flying this month. The Mars Curiosity rover drilled into the target rock and collected its very first sample. SpaceRef.com has a detailed look at the drilling, the sample collection and what may come next. Last week also saw the fly-by asteroid that came very close to Earth and the meteor that did hit, breaking up and pelting Russia last Friday. Reports of that meteor were all over the Web shortly after it hit, thanks to YouTube, Twitter and the apparent Russian love of dashboard cameras. Local people in the area are now said to be selling pieces of the space rock on eBay.
The meteor new has generated new interest in space and material science in the news, and a blog over on the British news site, the Telegraph, has an interesting essay about how heavy metals like gold and platinum may have come from meteorites hitting the Earth. And don’t forget: NASA is also hosting a live Google+ hangout with the crew on the International Space Station on February 22.
In non-space news, Canonical has officially unveiled a version of its Ubuntu Linux system for tablets. A developer preview arrived this week and will run on the Nexus 7 and 10 tablets (at least). Along with tablets, Ubuntu has also getting into smartphones lately.
The rumors are growing louder that Facebook will start embedding autoplay advertisements in user newsfeeds this spring – possibly in April. Some news sources have pointed out that Facebook costs money to operate and most things as useful as it is charge users and advertising is the life-blood that keeps the consumer Internet free.
Facebook itself was the target of hackers recently and these same hackers also managed to infect the computers of some Apple employees. Security breaches were just busting out all over. Burger King’s Twitter feed was hacked this week and was posting such announcements like the sale of the chain to archrival McDonald’s. The Twitter feed for Jeep was also compromised this week.
The New York Times and other news organizations have stories about a new 60-page report on Chinese hackers by the computer security company Mandiant. The report traces more than a hundred attacks on government departments, companies and journalists to a building about 40 minutes outside downtown Shanghai. The building is reportedly the headquarters of People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398. The Times contacted officials at the Chinese embassy in Washington, who again insisted that their government does not engage in computer hacking.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will get announced March 14, and Google’s alleged Nexus 5 smartphone may be launching this spring as well, if the rumors are true. Both the Galaxy S4 and the new Google phone are thought to have a 13-megapixel camera. (As for Google, some Web gossips are even postulating a Triple 5 theory.) And while Samsung and Google duke it out, Samsung continues its competition with Apple and may even be doing its own smartwatch. With news of Google possibly opening its own retail stores, can Samsung stores be that far behind? Also biting the Big G: Microsoft said its Outlook.com mail service has gained 60 million users in 6 months, some of them, Gmail users.
And finally, the theory has been around for a while, but according to research published by Hungarian physicist Albert-László Barabási in in The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, no two Web pages are separated by more than 19 clicks. Estimates put the total number of Web pages out there at more than 14 billion. So according to the theory all of these pages, through some link, text, image or other element, is less than 19 clicks from every other Web page out there. We are the world, yo.
This week J.D. lists some useful apps that will get you through the Thanksgiving Holiday and Pedro laments the lack of decent gaming controllers for his tablets. In the news, a political scandal with a tech twist; high-level changes in the executive ranks at Apple and Google; RIM is finally ready to unveil the Blackberry 10 OS; and Youtube distributes cancellation slips.