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Archive for the ‘Mobile Computing’ Category

Since a few days, there’s another firmware update for the Samsung Galaxy S7 here in Belgium (and probably elsewhere too, of course). The announcement did not promise a major update to Android, although the download was more than 400MB:

After the installation, rebooting the S7 triggered a message that said a number of application were being upgraded – but the docs mention none of them explicitly. In the end, what counts most for me is a more current security patch level: that is now up to October 1st, 2017. Unfortunately, that won’t include any defence for the KRACK attack which was made public at the end of October…

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I do not want to pretend to fully understand the exact nature of the so-called KRACK Attack vulnerability in many implementations of the WPA2 protocol that is supposed to make WiFi network connections secure. All details about the KRACK Attack can be found on the webpages of the (Belgian) researcher that found the issue.

I do worry about the fact that MacOS and Android are both mentioned as being particularly vulnerable to this issue. On October 31, 2017, Apple released updates for MacOS EL Capitan, Sierra and High Sierra to solve the problem (at least, that’s how I interpret their report on the subject).

Samsung, however, hasn’t published any updates to their Android version for my Galaxy S7 since August 1st. Perhaps there is no problem on the SGS7? Or is Samsung just being lazy – after all, my phone is still running Android 7.0 – no word on 7.1, let alone 8.0…

And how about all those other devices, IoT and others, that use WiFi connections? Have you already updated your router? How about the wireless hard disk vaults that photographers use? Or the photo cameras themselves? Etcetera.

Matters such as this will need to resolved on a large scale before I will put my trust in the “Internet of Things”, no matter the type of connection used to talk to each other.

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It’s been a long time since I suggested that a system like S5 should include an editing mode, and see my post of March 15, 2012 repeated that suggestion. As it turns out, there is now a very similar tool that does just that: remark. No, it’s not a Wiki, it’s a lightweight CMS, using Markdown (plus extensions) to do its magic.

To be honest, between my first suggestions in 2005 and now a number of similar tools have been created, many based on S5, by the way – just check out http://wiki.s5project.org/HTML_slideshow_tools. But things over there aren’t too lively anymore, it seems…

I’m waiting for a good opportunity to try ‘remark’ out, if only to see ¬†on how many platforms it can be used for editing without too many limitations.

For a quick try-out, head over to Platon.io – it’s an editable webpage powered by remark.

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Here in Belgium, at least, Samsung¬†released an OTA update for the Galaxy S7 to bring Android up to the security patch level of July 1st, 2017. I’m beginning to think that Samsung might make this a regular thing ;-)

After the patch, this is what the system says.

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The language isn’t new: Kotlin was created more than 5 years ago by JetBrains engineers. A preview version was released in 2011. Kotlin is a statically typed programming language for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Being crude, you could say that it’s “just another” enhancement of the Java language, just like Groovy or Scala. Nice, but hardly indispensable.

But Kotlin made a name for itself in May 2017, when Google announced “that it is making Kotlin […] a first-class language for writing Android apps” (in the words of Frederic Lardinois on TechCrunch). The Wired website has a bit more info on why the language was developed and why it is so “hot” these days. And the article concludes:

And its applications extend well beyond Google’s platform. Like Java, it can be used to write apps that run on desktops and servers as well. Plus, JetBrains has released tools for translating Kotlin code into code that can run on iOS or even in web browsers. All of which is to say, you can expect to find yourself using apps written in Kotlin more and more often in the coming months and years.

I have not yet written a line of Kotlin, but perhaps I should try that sooner rather than later. Since I’m also looking at Apple’s Swift language, the combination of learning both could be beneficial… or problematic, since someone asserts that both are quite similar (but not the same, of course): see “Swift is like Kotlin” for details.

I still would like to know how the name “Kotlin” was chosen…

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Just a quick notice, to inform all SGS7 users in Belgium that Samsung made a system update available in Belgium. This update brings Android on the SGS7 up to the Android security patch level of June 1st, 2017. We can only hope that Samsung will increase the number of updates in the near future. Oh, and they might offer us Android 7.1 as well, of course – if they wait much longer I will be requesting Android 8 rather than 7.1 !

This is what my machine now tells me about the operating system

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Yesterday, Samsung pushed an OTA software update to my Galaxy S7. I’m not in a position to tell you exactly which modifications were applied – it certainly was not Android 7.1. Samsung offered no details on screen, so I can only rely on what I can glean from the current status of the device. My conclusion: I suppose that the 214MB update mostly consisted of security enhancements…

Here’s what the “Software information” screen has to say:

Software Information about the latest S7 update in Belgium

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