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Comment Re:two things I use Google's assistant for (Score 1) 71

You're not using "Google Voice VoIP" because that doesn't exist. You're using Google Talk/Hangouts/whatever it's called today. The relationship between the two is that GV can route calls to Google Talk, and Google Talk will use your GV number when making outgoing calls.

So, as this is a story about Google Voice, not Google Talk (or Hangouts etc) you can safely assume your setup is not affected by this at all. That doesn't mean it'll continue to work, just that this doesn't impact it.

Comment Re:How about running real Linux apps too (Score 1) 69

I wouldn't say they're simple steps, and Crouton suffers from trying to run both operating systems at once, which can only be done by heavily patching the "guest" operating system, which in turn means only supported revisions of specific distributions are supported - and the only in some configurations. Want to run Cinnamon? Don't even try.

(There's also very little reason to suppose this provides any real benefits to users either. Why would you want ChromeOS if you're already running Ubuntu? ChromeOS is bare bones GNU/Linux with Chrome as the UI, and Chrome runs fine under Ubuntu.)

Crouton exists mostly because it's awkward to install a "real" Ubuntu instance on a Chromebook, and so the authors figured that maybe getting bits to Ubuntu to work under the already running ChromeOS kernel might be "good enough". It's an illustration of the problems with Chromebooks, not indicative that Google has some kind of solution to "Linux on the desktop".

I'm not saying Chromebooks are bad, or even that you shouldn't buy one to run Ubuntu/etc (but use chrx, and be aware that the experience of installation is suboptimal, requiring BIOS patches and barely documented control key combinations at boot) - they can run more open distributions of GNU/Linux, and if you like the hardware, then go for it. But this "Crouton proves its awesome" stuff is overblown. Crouton is a smart, interesting, hack to workaround a problem, but it's probably not going to deliver what the average "I want to run Fedora/Ubuntu/Mint/Debian/CentOS" Slashdot GNU/Linux user wants.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 69

I'm generally finding little difference in price between Chromebooks and low end Windows laptops - compare HP's "Stream" series, for example.

It's also a lot simpler to install Ubuntu et al on a cheap laptop built for Windows than on a Chromebook. I've done the latter, and it's an, uh, interesting experience. Having to patch the BIOS was my favorite part I think. Also awesome was the fact it forgets there's a partition with a non-ChromeOS operating system on it if the battery runs out, so you have to boot into ChromeOS and set a flag to remind it its there.

Comment Re:more open (Score 3, Interesting) 211

Yeah, last few devices I've bought had something very close to AOSP with only a minimum of extra apps installed, apps that aren't causing me any problems. Android itself doesn't vary a lot between versions any more, the chances are the version you have varies little - from a user's point of view - from the latest greatest. This is a far cry from the early days of Android where:

1. Every phone had a heavily customized version of Android, in part because stock Android wasn't very pretty, but those customizations were usually horrible and bug ridden. As an example, my T-Mobile Slide 3G's dialer would crash if you changed from portrait to landscape.

2. Android itself was barely feature complete. Third party tools were needed to provide a decent launcher, decent keyboard, and so on, as well as tethering and other features carriers were nervous about.

It just isn't as important any more.

Comment Re:May I suggest ... (Score 1) 70

That's pretty expensive. There may be some prepaid plans that are worse ($30 for 1Gb+unlimited V&T is probably hard to beat), but once you get to the regular subscriptions from the big four, especially family plans, it's really poor value.

I was always surprised Google structured Fi that way, it struck me that building a phone service around a price schedule is doomed to failure. Sooner or later everyone else changes their prices (or what you get for those prices) and suddenly your innovative pricing doesn't look so great any more.

Comment Re:Retracting the Truth (Score 1) 70

They're saying that technically accurate or not, the article is misleading and doesn't give context. In particular, this supposed threat is almost impossible to exploit in practice, as it requires the attacker:

1. Knows exactly when you're going to swap a SIM card over or otherwise change phones
2. Also knows you simultaneously have a bunch of messages waiting to be sent, that the attacker actually cares about.
3. Also knows that you have gone into settings, and unchecked a setting that would normally be checked that warns you if a change in encryption keys has occurred
4. Has access to all the infrastructure in the middle.

That's a tall order. It'd be easier to just steal your phone, or hit you on the head with a blunt instrument XKCD style until you talk.

The letter also points out that the article discourages people from using a popular messaging platform over this issue whose security is generally first rate, encouraging them to seek alternatives that either may be insecure, or may be taken as a sign of guilt (eg Signal), making it easier to pinpoint dissidents with something to hide.

So, yeah, the article may be technically correct, the best kind of correct, but if it leaves people with a false impression, then it's probably right to withdraw it.

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