Android

Do Android Users Still Use Custom Roms? (androidauthority.com) 215

"With all of the drama at CyanogenMod, Android Authority takes a look at the current state of custom ROM development," writes Slashdot reader Thelasko. From the article: The future of CyanogenMod appears uncertain, after the open source ROM was forced to fork under the name Lineage OS. Fortunately there are already other remixed versions of Android available, with some of the most popular being Paranoid Android, Resurrection Remix, and Dirty Unicorns... [But] with each new version of Android, the gap between Android and popular custom ROMs has shrunk, which begs an interesting question: Are custom ROMs even necessary anymore? To answer this, let's take a quick look at the state of custom ROM development as it exists today.
The article points out that mobile virtual reality is "on the verge of becoming mainstream and the wearable market has grown tremendously," asking whether custom firmware will also integrate these newer technologies. But the original submission also asks a question that's closer to home. What custom ROMs do Slashdot users have installed?
Google

With Cyanogen Dead, Google's Control Over Android Is Tighter Than Ever (greenbot.com) 212

Last week, Cyanogen Inc announced it is shutting down all its services. A day later, CyanogenMod announced that it is going away too. Regardless of how you found Cyanogen's commercial operating system or open source fork CyanogenMod, the demise has bigger implications. From a report on GreenBot: Cyanogen might never have seriously threatened to take control of Android, but the upstart's shutdown still represents a major victory for Google. As Google showed with the launch of the Pixel, the company is taking steps to ensure no one ever gets close to stealing Android's soul ever again. [...] In many ways, Cyanogen encapsulated more of the spirit of Google's mobile OS project than Android itself ever did. As an early offshoot of the mainstream project designed and supported by habitual modders, Cyanogen was in many ways more aligned with the iOS jailbreaking community than Android proper, bringing customization and features far beyond those available in the stock OS. But almost as quickly as Android took off, Google began reining it in. By implementing stricter rules for manufacturers to prevent further fragmentation -- including licensing of its apps and mandatory inclusion of its search bar widget -- Google actively worked to keep deviant versions of Android on the fringes. Nonetheless, CyanogenMod persisted, surviving cease-and-desist orders, takeover rumors and general Google-led consternation. And now it's all over. Google won, not by waging war with Cyanogen but by doubling down on its own vision, forging partnerships with manufacturers, and working to ensure that Google's Android remained the world's Android.
Android

All Cyanogen Services Are Shutting Down (cyngn.com) 113

Long-time Slashdot reader Nemosoft Unv. writes: A very brief post on Cyanogen's blog says it all really: "As part of the ongoing consolidation of Cyanogen, all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than 12/31/16. The open source project and source code will remain available for anyone who wants to build CyanogenMod personally." Of course, with no focused team behind the CyanogenMod project it's effectively dead. Building an Android OS from scratch is no mean feat and most users won't be able to pull this off, let alone make fixes and updates. So what will happen next? Cyanogen had already laid off 20% of its workforce in July, and in November announced they had "separated ties" with Cyanogen founder and primary contributor Steve Kondik. One Android site quoted Kondik as saying "what I was trying to do, is over" in a private Google+ community, and the same day Kondik posted on Twitter, "Time for the next adventure." He hasn't posted since, so it's not clear what he's up to now. But the more important question is whether anyone will continue developing CyanogenMod.

UPDATE: Android Police reports that the CyanogenMod team "has posted an update of their own, confirming the shutdown of the CM infrastructure and outlining a plan to continue the open-source initiative as Lineage." The team posts on their blog that "we the community of developers, designers, device maintainers and translators have taken the steps necessary to produce a fork of the CM source code and pending patches."
Earth

Asteroid Impact Helped Create the Birds We Know Today (sciencemag.org) 67

sciencehabit writes: Every bird alive today can trace its ancestry to creatures that lived about 95 million years ago on a chunk of land that split off from the supercontinent Gondwana, a new study suggests. The new family tree, compiled using information from fossils and from genetic analyses of modern birds, also reveals that this lineage underwent a major burst of evolution after an asteroid slammed into Earth about 66 million years ago and killed off the rest of their dinosaurian kin.
Science

Researchers Discover Largest Ever Dinosaur With Birdlike Wings and Feathers 47

sciencehabit writes: When we see birds winging their way across the sky, we are really looking at living dinosaurs—the only lineage of these mighty beasts that survived mass extinction. Yet before they went extinct, many dinosaurs sprouted wings themselves. Researchers now report finding the largest ever winged dino in China, a sleek, birdlike creature adorned with multiple layers of feathers all over its arms and torso that lived 125 million years ago. The dino was about 1.65 meters long, a little longer than a modern condor, but at an estimated 20 kilograms, it was probably nearly twice as heavy as that bird. It almost certainly could not fly, however—an important confirmation that wings and feathers originally evolved to serve other functions like attracting mates and keeping eggs warm.
Science

Human Language May Have Evolved To Help Our Ancestors Make Tools 154

sciencehabit writes: If there's one thing that distinguishes humans from other animals, it's our ability to use language. But when and why did this trait evolve? A new study concludes that the art of conversation may have arisen early in human evolution, because it made it easier for our ancestors to teach each other how to make stone tools — a skill that was crucial for the spectacular success of our lineage. The study involved getting a number of college students to try to make their own primitive stone tools, some using language, others not. The team discovered that only those that used language were able to make effective tools.
Earth

The Ancestor of Humans Was an "Artist" 500,000 Years Ago 59

brindafella writes Our ancient ancestor, Homo erectus, around 500,000 years ago, has been shown to make doodles or patterns. So, it seems that we Homo sapiens have come from a thoughtful lineage. The zig-zag markings cut into the covering of a fossil freshwater shell were from a deposit in the main bone layer of Trinil (Java, Indonesia), the place where Homo erectus was discovered by Eugène Dubois in 1891, says Dr Stephen Munro, a palaeoanthropologist with the Australian National University. The team's testing shows the erectus doodling was from 0.54 million years to a minimum of 0.43 million years ago. This pushes back the thoughtful making of marks by hundreds of thousands of years. The thoughtful gathering of shellfish and their nutrients also points to possible explanations for the evolving of bigger brains.
Science

Research Suggests One To Three Men Fathered Most Western Europeans 253

Taco Cowboy writes "'While the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups in Africa took 12 thousand years to spread, those in Europe started from around 3rd millennium.' The speed of spread of the European haplogroups was totally astounding, to say the least. 'There was no R1b found in Europe before a Bell Beaker site from the 3rd millennium BC and today many Europeans (most in western Europe) belong to this haplogroup. 'We used coalescent simulations to investigate the range of demographic models most likely to produce the phylogenetic structures observed in Africa and Europe, assessing the starting and ending genetic effective population sizes, duration of the expansion, and time when expansion ended. The best-fitting models in Africa and Europe are very different. In Africa, the expansion took about 12 thousand years, ending very recently; it started from approximately 40 men and numbers expanded approximately 50-fold. In Europe, the expansion was much more rapid, taking only a few generations and occurring as soon as the major R1b lineage entered Europe; it started from just one to three men, whose numbers expanded more than a thousandfold.'"
Graphics

Pixel-Peeping Gaming's Close Cousins 20

First time accepted submitter richtaur writes "A passionate classic game collector took the time to document the shared lineage between over thirty of gaming's finest cousins. The article contains side-by-side screenshots and videos to show the similarities and shared assets between such classic relatives as Bomberman/Lode Runner, Gradius/Life Force, and Renegade/River City Ransom. Fascinating stuff for fans of games of yesteryear."
Earth

Ancestor of All Placental Mammals Revealed 123

sciencehabit writes "The ancestor of all placental mammals—the diverse lineage that includes almost all species of mammals living today, including humans—was a tiny, furry-tailed creature that evolved shortly after the dinosaurs disappeared, a new study suggests. The hypothetical creature, not found in the fossil record but inferred from it, probably was a tree-climbing, insect-eating mammal that weighed between 6 and 245 grams—somewhere between a small shrew and a mid-sized rat. It was furry, had a long tail, gave birth to a single young, and had a complex brain with a large lobe for interpreting smells and a corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The period following the dinosaur die-offs could be considered a 'big bang' of mammalian diversification, with species representing as many as 10 major groups of placentals appearing within a 200,000-year interval."
Science

The Sweet Mystery of Science 259

Hugh Pickens writes "Biologist David P. Barash writes in the LA Times that as a scientist he has been participating in a deception for more than four decades — a benevolent and well intentioned deception — but a deception nonetheless. 'When scientists speak to the public or to students, we talk about what we know, what science has discovered,' writes Barash. 'After all, we work hard deciphering nature's secrets and we're proud whenever we succeed. But it gives the false impression that we know pretty much everything, whereas the reality is that there's a whole lot more that we don't know.' Teaching and writing only about what is known risks turning science into a mere catalog of established facts, suggesting that 'knowing' science is a matter of memorizing says Barash. 'It is time, therefore, to start teaching courses, giving lectures and writing books about what we don't know about biology, chemistry, geology, physics, mathematics.' Barash isn't talking about the obvious unknowns, such as 'Is there life on other planets?' Looking just at his field, evolutionary biology, the unknowns are immense: How widespread are nonadaptive traits? To what extent does evolution proceed by very small, gradual steps versus larger, quantum jumps? What is the purpose of all that 'junk DNA"? Did human beings evolve from a single lineage, or many times, independently? Why does homosexuality persist? According to Barash scientists need to keep celebrating and transmitting what they know but also need to keep their eyes on what science doesn't know if the scientific enterprise is to continue attracting new adherents who will keep pushing the envelope of our knowledge rather than resting satisfied within its cozy boundaries."
Google

Google On-shores Manufacturing of the Nexus Q 326

An anonymous reader sends this quote from the NY Times: "Etched into the base of Google's new wireless home media player that was introduced on Wednesday is its most intriguing feature. On the underside of the Nexus Q is a simple inscription: Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A. The Google executives and engineers who decided to build the player here are engaged in an experiment in American manufacturing. 'We've been absent for so long, we decided, "Why don't we try it and see what happens?" ... It has become accepted wisdom that consumer electronics products can no longer be made in the United States. During the last decade, abundant low-cost Chinese labor and looser environmental regulations have virtually erased what was once a vibrant American industry. ... At $299, the device costs significantly more than competing systems from companies like Apple and Roku. Google says this is in part because of the higher costs of manufacturing in the United States, but the company expects to bring the price down as it increases volume. The company is hoping that consumers will be willing to pay more, though it is unlikely that the “Made in America” lineage will be part of any marketing campaign.'"
Businesses

NCSoft To Close North American Lineage Servers 91

NCSoft announced yesterday that they plan to shut down all North American servers for their long-running Lineage MMORPG on June 29th. The game came out in 1998 and gradually became one of the most successful MMOs of all time, reporting over a million subscribers as much as a decade after launch. Account creation on North American servers has been disabled, subscriptions for coming months have been refunded, and existing accounts have been reactivated for free. "We will not be making any additional content updates, but we do have US Ruleset changes and lots of great events planned for the next two months. We want to give you every opportunity to make all of your remaining Lineage dreams come true. We hope that everyone will stick around to have fun with the game you love in the time we have left. We know that we have incredibly loyal fans that have stood by us for the past ten years. As painful as it was, as a business, we had to make a very difficult, but necessary, decision."
Music

Ozzy Osbourne's Genome Reveals Some Neanderthal Lineage 151

ByOhTek writes "CNN reports that in July, rocker Ozzy Osbourne became one of few to submit his blood to have his full genome sequenced and analyzed. The results are in, and it turns out his genome reveals some Neanderthal lineage. What does Ozzie have to say about it? 'I was curious, given the swimming pools of booze I've guzzled over the years - not to mention all of the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol... there's really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why,' he wrote."
The Courts

Lineage II Addiction Lawsuit Makes It Past the EULA 267

We recently discussed a man who sued NCsoft for making Lineage II "too addictive" after he spent 20,000 hours over five years playing it. Now, several readers have pointed out that the lawsuit has progressed past its first major hurdle: the EULA. Quoting: "NC Interactive has responded the way most software companies and online services have for more than a decade: it argued that the claims are barred by its end-user license agreement, which in this case capped the company's liability to the amount Smallwood paid in fees over six months prior to his filing his complaint (or thereabouts). One portion of the EULA specifically stated that lawsuits could only be brought in Texas state court in Travis County, where NC Interactive is located. ... But the judge in this case, US District Judge Alan C. Kay, noted that both Texas and Hawaii law bar contract provisions that waive in advance the ability to make gross-negligence claims. He also declined to dismiss Smallwood's claims for negligence, defamation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress."
The Courts

NCsoft Sued For Making Lineage II 'Too Addictive' 360

An anonymous reader writes "South Korean MMO game publisher NCsoft is finding itself facing another lawsuit, this time for making games that are 'too addictive.' US Lineage II player Craig Smallwood is suing the publisher for $3 million because he found himself playing Lineage II for 20,000 hours over a period of 5 years. At times, his average play session would persist for over 11 hours, crippling his life and ability to function. A federal judge is allowing the court case to go forward (PDF), stating that the plaintiff has a claim for negligence and gross negligence against the publisher."
Government

South Korea Announces Daily MMO Blackouts For Youths 148

eldavojohn writes "GamePolitics reports that South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has announced two new policies that will force underage gamers to pick a six-hour block of time (midnight-6 AM,1-7 AM, or 2-8 AM) where they will not be able to play 19 online role-playing games. While it targets most popular MMORPGs, some popular games like Lineage were left off the list."
Cellphones

Memory Cards of 3,000 Phones Infected By Malware 63

itwbennett sends us a few links from IT World tracing a story about infected microSD cards in Vodaphone-supplied mobile phones. "The original report came on March 8 after an employee of Panda Security plugged a newly ordered HTC Magic phone from Vodafone into a Windows computer, where it triggered an alert from the antivirus software. Further inspection of the phone found the device's 8GB microSD memory card was infected with a client for the now-defunct Mariposa botnet, the Conficker worm, and a password stealer for the Lineage game. At that point it was at thought to be an issue with a specific refurbished phone. On Wednesday another phone surfaced with traces of the Mariposa botnet. And now Vodafone is saying that as many as 3,000 HTC Magic phones may be affected."
The Internet

False Fact On Wikipedia Proves Itself 513

An anonymous reader writes "Germany has a new minister of economic affairs. Mr. von und zu Guttenberg is descended from an old and noble lineage, so his official name is very long: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. When first there were rumors that he would be appointed to the post, someone changed his Wikipedia entry and added the name 'Wilhelm,' so Wikipedia stated his full name as: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Wilhelm Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. What resulted from this edit points up a big problem for our information society (in German; Google translation). The German and international press picked up the wrong name from Wikipedia — including well-known newspapers, Internet sites, and TV news such as spiegel.de, Bild, heute.de, TAZ, or Süddeutsche Zeitung. In the meantime, the change on Wikipedia was reverted, with a request for proof of the name. The proof was quickly found. On spiegel.de an article cites Mr. von und zu Guttenberg using his 'full name'; however, while the quote might have been real, the full name seems to have been looked up on Wikipedia while the false edit was in place. So the circle was closed: Wikipedia states a false fact, a reputable media outlet copies the false fact, and this outlet is then used as the source to prove the false fact to Wikipedia."
The Courts

Worlds.com Sues NCSoft Over MMO-Patent 261

Lulfas writes "Worlds.com today sued NCSoft over its patent on a scalable virtual world, filed in 2000 and granted this February. This is a very broad base patent, and there is no reason to expect they will only sue NCSoft, when they should be able to use the same patent against other companies. 'Specifically, the suit claims that NCsoft has infringed on patent 7,181,690, "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space" through its games, including City of Heroes, City of Villains, Dungeon Runners, Exteel, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage II, and Tabula Rasa.'"

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