Chinese Internet Firms to Buy Opera!

Wow, Opera being bought by Chinese Internet companies!

Opera gets $1.2 billion buyout offer from mix of Chinese firms, board recommends deal

ZDNet – By: Jake Smith – “Opera has received a $1.2 billion buyout offer from a consortium of Chinese Internet firms, the company announced on Wednesday.

The consortium includes Kunlun and Qihoo 360 and is backed by the investment funds Golden Brick and Yonglian.

Opera’s board recommends the deal.

The $1.2 billion offer is a 53 percent premium on Opera’s close as of February 4 on the Oslo stock exchange. Trading of the company has been suspended for two days following buyout rumors.

‘There is strong strategic and industrial logic to the acquisition of Opera by the Consortium,’ Opera CEO Lars Boilesen said on Wednesday. ‘The Consortium’s ownership will strengthen Opera’s position to serve our users and partners with even greater innovation, and to accelerate our plans of expansion and growth.’

Opera began looking for a buyer in August 2015, following slumping earnings after a steady loss of browser marketshare and slowing advertising sales. The company hired Morgan Stanley International and ABG Sundal Collier to help with the search.

‘Our Board has undertaken a careful review of the terms and conditions of the Offer and is unanimous in its recommendation. We commend the management team on the work they have done on behalf of the shareholders, employees and other Opera stakeholders,’ Sverre Munck, chairman of Opera’s board, said.

On behalf of the consortium, Yahui Zhou, CEO of Kunlun, said: ‘Opera is a well-recognized mobile internet company with great brand recognition and global impact. Under its excellent management team, Opera has made remarkable achievements in recent years in the fields of mobile browser and mobile advertising.'”

Dr. Bill.TV #406 – Video – “The Phred’s Vacation Edition!”

Dr. Bill updates us on his weight loss, Phred is back, and as surly as ever, Barracuda Networks’ Copy and CudaDrive services will go away May 1st, the Firefox Phone is dead, and why we should care, and this week’s GSotW: Chocolately Nuget!

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TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

Chocolately Website


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Dr. Bill.TV #406 – Audio – “The Phred’s Vacation Edition!”

Dr. Bill updates us on his weight loss, Phred is back, and as surly as ever, Barracuda Networks’ Copy and CudaDrive services will go away May 1st, the Firefox Phone is dead, and why we should care, and this week’s GSotW: Chocolately Nuget!

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Chocolately Website


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Geek Software of the Week: Chocolatety Nuget!

How cool is it to be able to install software on Windows as easily as apt-get does in Debian based Linux distros?

Chocolately Website

“Chocolatey is a package manager for Windows (like apt-get or yum but for Windows). It was designed to be a decentralized framework for quickly installing applications and tools that you need. It is built on the NuGet infrastructure currently using PowerShell as its focus for delivering packages from the distros to your door, err computer.

Chocolatey is brought to you by the work and inspiration of the community, the work and thankless nights of the Chocolatey Team, and Rob heading up the direction.

You can host your own sources and add them to Chocolatey, you can extend Chocolatey’s capabilities, and folks, it’s only going to get better.

With all of this in mind, think of Chocolatey as a framework that you can build on top of. Chef, Puppet and Boxstarter all have ways for using Chocolatey to ensure the state of a computer and packages installed. Even Microsoft has decided to use Chocolatey’s framework with the upcoming OneGet client! See Jeffrey Snover’s post for more information.”

You Should Care That the Firefox Phone is Dead

I wasn’t too excited when Mozilla announced the Firefox phone, but competition IS good!

Why the death of the Firefox phone matters

c|net – By: Stephen Shankland – “Maybe you didn’t bat an eye when Mozilla killed off Firefox phones.

The nonprofit, after all, faced long odds in taking on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile software. And the Firefox OS software had been on a downward trajectory over the past year.

But you should care that Mozilla admitted defeat Thursday because it’s further evidence that we live in an Apple-and-Google-only mobile world. Both increasingly draw you into their universe of native apps, where they have more control over what you use. Mozilla, by contrast, offered a more open alternative. The nonprofit’s overall waning influence has made it harder to build a vibrant Web, extend its utility to phones, and keep Google and Apple power in check.

Not that Google or Apple are up to anything nefarious, but history is full of examples of big companies abusing their powers, including Microsoft, IBM and the old Ma Bell version of AT&T. You already see heavy-handed behavior with your phone. Don’t like Apple Maps on iOS? Tough luck. It’s the default.

When the first Firefox OS phones arrived two and a half years ago, Mozilla hoped to repeat its success from a decade earlier when the Firefox browser successfully challenged Microsoft’s dominant Internet Explorer and sparked a tremendous burst of innovation and competition. Instead, Firefox OS was bunched with mobile software also-rans like BlackBerry, Canonical’s Ubuntu and Microsoft’s Windows Phone.

‘The circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up,’ John Bernard, director of collaboration for connected devices, and George Roter, head of core contributor participation, said Thursday in a note.

Ari Jaaksi, Mozilla’s senior vice president of connected devices, said in a blog post that Mozilla will instead focus Firefox OS on the Internet of Things, shorthand for the spread of computing technology to countless devices in homes and businesses.

Firefox as a whole is losing clout, though. The Firefox browser’s market share plunged from 19 percent to 9 percent worldwide over the last three years, while Google’s Chrome rose from 32 percent to 48 percent, according to analytics firm StatCounter. On smartphones, you’re more likely to use Apple’s Safari browser on your iPhone or Chrome on your Android device. Increasingly, you’re also relying more on so-called native apps.

Not that the Web has disappeared. Who wants to laboriously search for, download and install an app when all you need is a museum’s hours or a flight check-in? Even if you do end up installing a company’s app, its website is often how you interact first.

Mountain View, California-based Mozilla used Firefox OS to advance Web technology on mobile devices during a time when Apple became more interested in supporting developers of native apps. Despite its focus on Android, Google remains interested in Web development. Yet for years, Mozilla has helped vet and validate Google’s plans even as it introduced new technologies like asm.js for faster Web apps and WebGL for hardware-accelerated graphics.

Mobile failures

Firefox OS struggled throughout its development. In May, Mozilla Chief Executive Chris Beard concluded that the company’s effort to find a Firefox OS foothold in low-end, low-cost phones had failed despite partnerships with major carriers like Deutsche Telekom and handset makers like Huawei. In December, Mozilla abandoned partnerships with companies like Verizon.

Plan B was to encourage enthusiasts to install Firefox OS on their own phones and turn them into evangelists, replaying the Firefox 1.0 playbook from 2004. But few phones are compatible, installing Firefox OS is harder than installing an app, and popular software like the WhatsApp messaging app is missing.

Tellingly, two high-ranking ex-Mozilla executives rely on Google’s Chrome technology. Former CTO Andreas Gal’s Internet of Things startup, Silk Labs, uses the Node.js project, which is based on a crucial part of Chrome called V8. Former CEO Brendan Eich’s new Brave browser is a variation of Chrome’s fundamentals, too.

‘We did a careful head-to-head comparison and by every measure’ Google’s technology won, Eich said in a January mailing list message. ‘We wish Mozilla well, but as a startup, we must use all sound leverage available to us.’

Firefox OS will live on in another form, H5OS, at Acadine Technologies, the startup of former Mozilla President Li Gong. Gong will release the first version of H5OS at the Mobile World Congress show this month and believes Mozilla’s withdrawal means more attention for Acadine.

‘We are the standard bearer in the open and Web-based mobile OS space,’ Gong said.

Mozilla itself will continue to push the Firefox browser for Android and iOS devices and for personal computers. Nick Nguyen, vice president of Firefox, promises better performance and new features over the next year.

‘Hundreds of millions of users worldwide depend on desktop Firefox,’ Nguyen said. ‘We will continue to dedicate the resources needed to build a great browser.'”

Copy Cloud Storage to Die May 1st

Here’s what they say for themselves:

Copy and CudaDrive services will be discontinued.

We are announcing today that the Copy and CudaDrive services will be discontinued on May 1, 2016.

Copy and CudaDrive have provided easy-to-use cloud file services and sharing functionality to millions of users the past 4+ years. However, as our business focus has shifted, we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the Copy and CudaDrive services and allocate those resources elsewhere. For more information on this decision, please view the blog post from Rod Mathews our VP & GM, Storage Business.

We know this comes as disappointing news to our users, but rest assured that we will do everything we can to take care of each of you in the manner for which Barracuda is known. We have partnered with Mover to make migrating your data to another service as easy as possible and have created a step by step guide that walks you through the process of moving your data to a local hard drive or another cloud storage solution.

If you are on a paid subscription for either Copy or CudaDrive, please keep an eye out in the coming days for an email with more detailed information on your options. For additional information, please visit our FAQ page.

Thank you to everyone for your support.

All the best,
The Copy & CudaDrive Team

Dr. Bill.TV #405 – Video – “The Back, but Lighter, Edition!”

Dr. Bill shares his Christmas presents, though late, and talks a bit about his losing 120 pounds! Also, is Firefox doomed? Drone Registration, VLC Player for Chrome OS, TPN CES coverage, Google disses simple web sites, let the cheap PCs die!

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TechPodcasts Network

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Dr. Bill.TV #405 – Audio – “The Back, but Lighter, Edition!”

Dr. Bill shares his Christmas presents, though late, and talks a bit about his losing 120 pounds! Also, is Firefox doomed? Drone Registration, VLC Player for Chrome OS, TPN CES coverage, Google disses simple web sites, let the cheap PCs die!

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET


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Let the Cheap Windows PCs Die

Asus Chromebook FlipFrom The Chromest Blog: Kinda like Captain Kirk said about the Klingons, “Let them die!” The point that super cheap Windows PCs are, well, cheap, is a very valid point! Chromebooks may not run Windows, but they run the Chrome OS VERY well! You can’t say the same about cheap Windows PCs running Windows!

Chromebooks are reportedly killing low-end PC laptops. Good.

ExtremeTech – By: Joel Hruska – “A new report suggests Windows PCs don’t just face a challenge from tablets and smartphones, but are increasingly under fire from within their own brand segment. Chromebooks, the web-based Google alternative to a Microsoft or Apple-powered laptop, have been slowly gaining ground since they debuted in 2011.

Chromebooks are just a fraction of the PC market, at 2.8% in 2015, but that’s up from 1.9% in 2014. That’s an increase of 47% in just a year — not bad for growth when the PC market as a whole continues to take a beating. In response, companies like HP and Dell are reportedly cutting their losses and mostly leaving the sub-$300 space. Acer, Asus, and Lenovo continue to offer some products from $180 to $300, but we may see these products gradually phase out if they don’t sell well enough to justify their own existence.

You could argue the surge in Chromebook sales is proof the venerable Wintel Alliance is no longer capable of defending itself, even on its own turf. After all, Microsoft and Intel may have failed to capture much of the mobile market, but they at least maintained a lock on the laptop and desktop industry. Chromebooks could threaten that lock, at least in the long term.

On the other hand, dumping the sub-$300 market could be the smartest thing Dell, HP, and the other OEMs have done in years.

Let’s be honest: Cheap Windows systems suck

I realize that the header above may sound a bit pejorative or unprofessional, but I’d challenge anyone to refute it. Anyone who has had to guide a friend or family member through a budget-restricted, low-end laptop purchase knows that the entire process is a nightmare. Because manufacturers often run specials or markdowns on specific SKUs, trying to identify the best system on any given day involves wading through a morass of nearly identical specifications. Many of these bottom-end systems have at least one ‘gotcha’ — a terrible keyboard, an insanely sensitive trackpad, or a display with viewing angles so narrow, it accidentally doubles as a security window. Inexpensive systems tend to have more bloatware than more-expensive hardware, and often carry the fewest support options.

There is a difference between buying a no-frills budget product with solid basic performance and a bad laptop. All too often, inexpensive computer hardware crosses that line — and the cheaper you go, the worse it gets.

HP, Dell, and the other OEMs are all aware of this, of course. They’ve continued to offer these systems as a way of eking out tiny profits on huge hardware volumes and, I think, partly out of an institutional memory for a time when less expensive PC hardware was automatically equated with better PC hardware.

It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when the race to the bottom of PC prices was seen as a unilaterally good thing for all involved. Consumer PC margins were shrinking, but volumes were growing even faster. I bought my first computer with my own money when manufacturers started offering $999 boxes without a monitor. As desktop and laptop prices fell, more and more people were able to get online for the first time. This was, and is, a very good thing, and I’d never argue for a return to the days when buying a computer meant slapping down a few grand for the privilege.

At some point, however, the model stopped working. Blame Microsoft’s ‘Windows tax,’ or Intel’s high margins, or the OEMs themselves for being so willing to race to the bottom — it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the experience of using a low-end Windows laptop is often much worse than it objectively should be. Given that laptop average selling price (ASP) fell to $430 in 2014 and hasn’t budged much since, it’s reasonable to conclude the majority of Windows users are experiencing the operating system on these low-end systems.

Low quality OEM systems aren’t the reason why the PC market has slumped so badly, but it’s hard to get excited about buying a new PC when previous purchases have shown you that however nice the hardware seems out of the box, it quickly disappoints. The low-end PC experience is compromised in ways you don’t see with $199 to $299 tablets.

Let the market go

If HP, Lenovo, and other OEMs can improve their profit margins and their higher-end product lines by killing their lowest-cost hardware, I say do it — not because people on a budget shouldn’t be able to buy Windows computers, but because the current system doesn’t work for anyone. Consumers aren’t happy with the hardware they purchase, OEMs aren’t happy with their profit margins, and Microsoft wants people to actually want to use its operating systems.

In the short term, this kind of switch would depress PC sales, but in the long run, it might well improve them. Give people a better day-to-day experience, and they’ll be more likely to replace aging hardware with devices in the same ecosystem. Hand them a consistently mediocre-to-terrible experience, and they’ll jump ship the first chance they get. We’ve already seen how people react to the mediocre-to-terrible option, so why not try building fewer PCs at somewhat higher margins, with hardware and software loadouts people want to use?”

Google Chrome to Mark all HTTP only sites as ‘Bad’!

Oh, no you don't!What if you have a simple web site that doesn’t need encryption? Why should you have to but an expensive SSL certificate? Bummer!

Google Chrome gets ready to mark all HTTP sites as ‘bad’

ZDNet – By: Liam Tung – “A year after Google’s Chromium Security team proposed marking all HTTP sites which are non-secure, the company is preparing to implement the policy in Chrome.

As the company highlighted in its proposal in 2014, HTTP sites provide no data security to users, so why don’t browsers warn users of this fact, say, by displaying a red cross over a padlock next to the URL instead of the status quo, which is no warning at all?

Google called on Apple, Microsoft, and Mozilla to reverse the situation gradually, so that one day the only unmarked sites are those that have enabled the more secure protocol, HTTPS.

With HTTPS, the connection to users is encrypted and the site’s digital certificate has been verified by a third-party certificate authority.

The new marking in Chrome is designed to be the stick to the carrots Google has dangled to encourage wider adoption of HTTPS.

Google argues that properly secured connections can frustrate surveillance attacks on the web. In 2014, it began using HTTPS as a positive ranking signal and in December adjusted its indexing system to crawl for HTTPS equivalents of HTTP pages and prioritize them where they’re available.

However, until this week it hadn’t announced any progress on its proposal. At the Usenix Enigma 2016 security conference, Google offered a snapshot of the future, showing what The New York Times website would like when Google implements the feature in Chrome.

Chrome users can look at how the markings would work by typing chrome://flags/ in the URL bar and enabling the experimental feature ‘Mark non-secure origins as non-secure’.

It is not clear when Google will introduce the new marking system by default in Chrome, though some observers, such as Eric Mill from the US General Services Administration’s tech savvy unit 18F, have taken it as a sure sign the plan will proceed.

Google’s Chromium issue tracker also indicates it is pressing ahead with the feature: ‘Our goal is to mark non-secure pages like HTTP, using the same bad indicator as broken HTTPS, since this 1) is more accurate than marking such pages as neutral, and 2) simplifies the set of security indicators.’

And as the company prepares to begin marking HTTP as bad, it has also released new tools to help developers deploy HTTPS.

On Tuesday, Google announced Security Panel, a new developer tool in Chrome that will help them identify common issues preventing sites from attaining the green padlock that represents a properly secured connection.

The tool will check the validity of a digital certificate and whether the site is using a secure protocol, cipher suite, and key exchange.

It will also help pinpoint the source of mixed content issues, such as a non-secure image on an otherwise secured page, which today in Chrome will trigger a grey padlock with a yellow triangle.”

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