SternisheFan writes to note that ArsTechnica's Peter Bright has reviewed the leaked Windows 8.1 update that was temporarily available from Microsoft's own servers. Here's how the article starts: "Leaks of upcoming versions of Microsoft's software are nothing new, but it's a little surprising when the source is Microsoft itself. The Spring update to Windows 8.1, known as Update 1, was briefly available from Windows Update earlier this week. The update wasn't a free-for-all. To get Windows Update to install it, you had to create a special (undocumented, secret) registry key to indicate that you were in a particular testing group; only then were the updates displayed and downloadable. After news of this spread, Microsoft removed the hefty—700MB—update from its servers, but not before it had spread across all manner of file-sharing sites... Just because it was distributed by Windows Update doesn't mean that this is, necessarily, the final build, but it does present a good opportunity to see what Microsoft is actually planning to deliver."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
It's not just graphics app Krita: user KDE Community writes "The Calligra team is proud and pleased to announce the release of version 2.8 of the Calligra Suite, Calligra Active and the Calligra Office Engine. Major new features in this release are comments support in Author and Words, improved Pivot tables in Sheets, improved stability and the ability to open hyperlinks in Kexi. Flow introduces SVG based stencils and as usual there are many new features in Krita including touch screens support and a wraparound painting mode for the creation of textures and tiles." KDE has also just announced the first beta of its Applications and Platform 4.13.
SmartAboutThings writes "At a special event at the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft has announced the 'spring' update for Windows 8.1. Joe Belfiore, who is the head of platform at Microsoft for smartphones, tablets and desktop devices, said the Windows 8.1 update will come with improvements for non-touch devices. Belfiore also said the update will focus on bringing back some of the 'old' features to Windows 8.1, such as the much-hyped start button, but this won't have a negative impact on the touch experience."
An anonymous reader writes "On Friday, Chrome 33 was shipped out the everyone on the stable channel. Among other things, it removes the developer flag to disable the "Instant Extended API", which powers an updated New Tab page. The new New Tab page receieved a large amount of backlash from users, particularly due to strange behavior when Google wasn't set as the default search engine. It also moves the apps section to a separate page and puts the button to reopen recently closed tabs in the Chrome menu. With the option to disable this change removed, there has been tremendous backlash on Google Chrome's official forum. The official suggestion from Google as well as OMG! Chrome is to try some New Tab page changing extensions, such as Replace New Tab, Modern New Tab Page, or iChrome."
sfcrazy writes "Canonical is bringing back menu integration with application windows. In 14.04 there will be an option for users to enable menus in application windows. That's a huge u-turn from Mark's stand on Global Menus which upset a lot of Ubuntu users."
An anonymous reader writes "As our cars have become more complex, so have the user interfaces with which we control them. Using the current crop of infotainment systems embedded in a car's dash is byzantine and frustrating. UI designer Matthaeus Krenn has put up a post demonstrating his efforts to reinvent in-car UIs in a way that doesn't force people to squint at tiny buttons, instead leaving more of their attention for the road. It's based on using a touch-screen display that realigns the interface to wherever you put your fingers down. It also reacts differently depending on how many fingers you use to touch the screen."
nk497 writes "A UX designer working at Microsoft has taken to Reddit to explain why Windows 8's Metro screen isn't designed for power users — but is still good news for them. Jacob Miller, posting as 'pwnies,' said Metro is the 'antithesis of a [power user's desktop],' and designed for 'your computer illiterate little sister,' not for content creators or power users. By splitting Windows into Metro and the desktop, Microsoft has created space for casual users as well as power users." Update: 02/18 18:14 GMT by S : Further explanations from Miller are available now.
First time accepted submitter Rasberry Jello writes "I consider myself someone who 'gets code,' but I'm not a programmer. I enjoy thinking through algorithms and writing basic scripts, but I get bogged down in more complex code. Maybe I lack patience, but really, why are we still writing text based code? Shouldn't there be a simpler, more robust way to translate an algorithm into something a computer can understand? One that's language agnostic and without all the cryptic jargon? It seems we're still only one layer of abstraction from assembly code. Why have graphical code generators that could seemingly open coding to the masses gone nowhere? At a minimum wouldn't that eliminate time dealing with syntax errors? OK Slashdot, stop my incessant questions and tell me what I'm missing." Of interest on this topic, a thoughtful look at some of the ways that visual programming is often talked about.
CambodiaSam sends the latest on "Red Star OS," North Korea's attempt at a home-grown operating system. Previously, it had closely resembled Microsoft Windows, but a new update now strongly mimics Apple's OS X. "Despite living in a country very much shut off from the outside world, many people in North Korea do have access to technology - including mobile phones. However, devices are heavily restricted. Internet access, for instance, is locked down, with most users able to visit only a handful of sites mostly serving up state-sponsored news. The Red Star OS is peppered with North Korean propaganda, and its calendar tells users it is not 2014, but 103 — the number of years since the birth of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung. An earlier version of Red Star OS was made available worldwide in 2010 after a Russian student posted it online. The latest version is believed to have been released some time in 2013."
David W. White writes "Years ago ago those of us who used any *nix desktop ('every morning when you wake up, the house is a little different') were seen as willing to embrace change and spend hours tinkering and configuring until we got new desktop versions to work the way we wanted, while there was an opposite perception of desktop users over in the Mac world ('it just works') and the Windows world ('it's a familiar interface'). However, a recent article in Datamation concludes that 'for better or worse, [Linux desktop users] know what they want — a classic desktop — and the figures consistently show that is what they are choosing in far greater numbers than GNOME, KDE, or any other single graphical interface.' Has the profile of the Linux desktop user changed to a more pragmatic one? Or is it just the psychology of user inertia at work, when one considers the revolt against changes in the KDE, GNOME, UNITY and Windows 8 interfaces in recent times?"
Freshly Exhumed writes "Phoronix has an article about how Dirk Hohndel of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center has stirred the hornet's nest with a talk at Australia's Linux.Conf.Au (MP4 file) about what he views as the biggest problem with the GTK: he finds dealing with upstream GTK/GNOME developers to be tough, with frequent abuse and flame-wars, with accusations from the developers that "you're doing it wrong." Conversely, he found the Qt development community to be quite the opposite: willing to engage and help, with plenty of application developer documentation and fewer communication problems than with their GTK counterparts."
An anonymous reader writes "A belated holiday gift for Linux users is the X.Org Server 1.15 'Egg Nog' release. X.Org Server 1.15 presents new features including DRI3 — a big update to their rendering model — a rewrite of the GLX windowing system code, support for Mesa Mega Drivers, and many bug fixes plus polishing. The release, though, goes without any mainline support for XWayland to ease the adoption of the Wayland Display Server while maintaining legacy X11 application support."
jones_supa writes "GNU Octave — the open source numerical computation suite compatible with MATLAB — is doing very well. The new 3.8 release is a big change, as it brings a graphical user interface, a feature which has long been requested by users. It is peppered with OpenGL acceleration and uses the super fast FLTK toolkit for widgets. The CLI interface still remains available and GNUplot is used as a fallback in cases where OpenGL or FLTK support is not available. Other changes to Octave 3.8 are support for nested functions with scoping rules, limited support for named exceptions, new regular expressions, a TeX parser for the FLTK toolkit, overhauls to many of the m-files, function rewrites, and numerous other changes and bug fixes."
An anonymous reader writes "A review of the top UX successes and failures of 2013 covers hot topics ranging from Snapchat to the Nest thermostat to David Pogue's departure from the New York Times. The author begins: 'In terms of UX milestones and missteps, 2013 failed to produce industry-altering innovations like 2007 with the introduction of the first iPhone or 2012 with the demise of Blackberry. Yet on another level, UX design in 2013 gave us a glimpse at the rapidly broadening definition of UX design as a structural concept and its role in the future of new media device design, content creation and even the status of product reviews created by leading tech journalists. In a critical way, I personally find this more interesting than blockbuster introductions that alter the technology landscape.'"
theodp writes "In 1919, Nora Bayes sang, "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" In 2013, discussing User Culture Versus Programmer Culture, CS Prof Philip Guo poses a similar question: 'How ya gonna get 'em down on UNIX after they've seen Spotify?' Convincing students from user culture to toss aside decades of advances in graphical user interfaces for a UNIX command line is a tough sell, Guo notes, and one that's made even more difficult when the instructors feel the advantages are self-evident. 'Just waving their arms and shouting "because, because UNIX!!!" isn't going to cut it,' he advises. Guo's tips for success? 'You need to gently introduce students to why these tools will eventually make them more productive in the long run,' Guo suggests, 'even though there is a steep learning curve at the outset. Start slow, be supportive along the way, and don't disparage the GUI-based tools that they are accustomed to using, no matter how limited you think those tools are. Bridge the two cultures.'" Required reading.
An anonymous reader writes "The Maui OS Project has made their first stable release of the Hawaii Desktop. Hawaii is still catching up with GNOME, Xfce, and KDE in terms of features, but it's written from scratch atop next-generation open-source technologies. In particular, Hawaii 0.2.0 is powered by the brand new Qt 5.2 tool-kit and runs natively on Wayland's Weston 1.3 compositor. Hawaii 0.2.0 carries all standard Linux desktop features but more advanced desktop functionality is planned while focusing around a Wayland design and eventually their own Green Island Compositor."
sfcrazy writes "The Fedora Project has announced the release of Fedora 20, code named Heisenbug (release notes). Fedora 20 is dedicated to Seth Vidal, the lead developer of Yum and the Fedora update repository, who recently died in a road accident. Gnome is the default DE of Fedora, and so it is for Fedora 20. However unlike Ubuntu (where they had to create different distros for each DE) Fedora comes with KDE, XFCE, LXDE and MATE. You can install the DE of your choice on top of base Fedora."
CowboyRobot writes "David Chisnall of the University of Cambridge describes how interfacing between languages is increasingly important. You can no longer expect a nontrivial application to be written in a single language. High-level languages typically call code written in lower-level languages as part of their standard libraries (for example, GUI rendering), but adding calls can be difficult. In particular, interfaces between two languages that are not C are often difficult to construct. Even relatively simple examples, such as bridging between C++ and Java, are not typically handled automatically and require a C interface. The problem of interfacing between languages is going to become increasingly important to compiler writers over the coming years."
sfcrazy writes "Fans of the MATE desktop environment, which is a fork of Gnome 2, will be happy to know that MATE is scheduled to be included in the official Debian repositories. Early 2012, it was requested that MATE be included in said repositories, and almost 2 years later, it appears we're almost there."