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Usability and Open Source

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OSS

The Linux Journal posted an excellent article today by Jim Hall about usability and open source software. Usability is far too often glossed over, or ignored completely in open source projects. Other times, usability is confused with design, and the thought that making something look pretty will have the same desired affect as making it easy to use. It is understandable that usability is often overlooked in open source projects. After all, developers already know how to use their own software, and are generally familiar with their chosen environment. Open source may well be about “scratching your own itch”, but if you would like your project to appeal to a wider audience, even an informal usability test could go a long ways.

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More in Tux Machines

KDE Plasma Review: The Swiss Army Knife of Desktops

As the long-standing rival to GNOME, KDE Plasma is another one of the most popular Linux desktop environments. It’s a lot of the things people may not like about GNOME: resource efficient, unbelievably customizable, and as minimal or complex as you want it to be. This KDE Plasma review will cover performance, user interface, customization, and recommendations on how to use and who should use KDE Plasma. [...] As great as the defaults are, the strength of KDE lies in its customizability. It’s “have it your way” to the extreme. If you don’t like the default Breeze theme, it’s very easy to change it with the “Global Theme” application. You can choose from any that come preinstalled, or you can choose to go out and download more to suit your needs. The customization options are all about choice, and you can easily customize it to any look you want. Under System Settings, you can change almost every single aspect of the system, including global themes, window themes, icon themes, and more. You can make Plasma look like the following. [...] The beauty of all the customization Plasma offers is that everybody can use Plasma. It starts out spartan-simple, but you can change it to suit any workflow or appearance you want. You can make a very resource-efficient Windows or macOS clone. Additionally, those looking to try out Wayland without using GNOME should try out Plasma. It’s the only other full Desktop Environment that supports Wayland (with the addition of some other packages), and it’s a great place to test and experience Wayland on your system. Read more

Android Leftovers

today's leftovers

  • The Chromebook that acts like a computer (but isn't quite)

    Chrome OS, you see, was originally little more than the Google Chrome browser, with a minimal operating system wrapped around it to make the browser go. [...] (I should add here that, at the time of writing, the Linux feature was still in "beta", and exhibited a couple of bugs. Though, as I will get into in a moment, those bugs may well be hardware-related, rather than a problem with Chrome OS itself.)

  • Best Business Intelligence Software and Business Operating System Options for 2020

    2020 is not just the year of further technical advancement if anything, 2020 seems to be more business-centric than anything else regardless of the subject area or nature. The technological progress of businesses can only be ensured if the in-house IT infrastructures are up to date. For cloud computing though, Linux is proving to be an unparalleled fit and rather an inexpensive fit for businesses. You will also find that the integration of Linux systems is quite simple depending on the specific Linux distribution – distro – you select in coordination with your computing requirement. The best still is the fact that you don’t have to discard your standing infrastructure to appropriate the flexibility that open-source software and cost-effective functionality of Linux provides. It is literally a free replacement for other OSs, which businesses find more than a little hard to comprehend. Linux does not require purchase prizes even for the applications unless you are a kind of business that needs expert help from paid tech support. Even that can be worked away, given the variety of Linux system administrator training programs available today which effectively ticks an overhead off the list of businesses’ overall cost.

  • Adding EteSync calendars and tasks to Kontact - GSoC 2020 with KDE and EteSync [Part 4]

    Last month, I wrote about adding EteSync address books to Kontact. Since then, I have been working on extending this functionality to calendars and tasks as well. I am happy to report that fetching and modifying EteSync contacts, calendars and tasks is now possible in Kontact. If you want to test it out, skip to ”Testing the resource” section below.

  • Mobile App Stores and the Power of Incentives

    If you want to understand how a system works and especially if you want to change how a system works, look to the incentives. Human behavior is driven by a series of rewards and punishments, carrots and sticks, and the same holds true for business. While you can certainly look to regulations or user education to change behavior, ultimately those measures just factor in to the risk/reward calculations a business or user takes. For instance, delivery drivers in big cities routinely flout parking regulations. Why would they do that when it’s against the law and can cause a fine? Enforcement isn’t guaranteed (you only get fined if you get caught) and the added cost of complying with the law is much greater than the cost of the occasional ticket. This means if you want to change how businesses treat privacy, you have to change the incentives that drive them. Applied to the mobile app ecosystem, even with privacy regulation, privacy settings, and user prompts, companies will weigh the risks and costs of getting caught against the reward of capturing and selling user data and as long as the reward is enough, many will take the risk. [...] Of course these SDKs also make spying on users the path of least resistance, as it’s much easier to just request full permissions for your app on a user’s phone than it is to start with no permissions and figure out which ones you truly need. Why does a flashlight app need access to your location and contact list? Since so many applications are designed with selling user data in mind, even a well-meaning, ethical, privacy-conscious developer might find it hard to identify and remove all third party tracking if they base their application on existing examples and popular SDKs. Users also find laziness to be a powerful incentive. Many application developers take advantage of this by requiring users to opt-out of tracking, often via hard-to-find settings buried deep within the application. Many if not most users don’t bother to tweak their privacy settings, and many companies share your data without your consent.

  • Maia ESP32-S2 Development Board Features Micro USB OTG Port, Prototyping Area

    One of the advantages of the new ESP32-S2 processor is that it offers a USB OTG interface. So far few boards took advantage of the extra interface, and one of the rare ones is Cucumber ESP32-S2 board with a USB-C OTG port. There’s another option with a slightly unusual form factor thanks to Stetel Things’ Maia ESP32-S2 development board with the typical USB-C port for power and debugging, plus a micro USB OTG port, and a small prototyping area.

  • Distributing Raspberry Pi computers to help families access education
  • New releases: Tor 0.3.5.11, 0.4.2.8, and 0.4.3.6 (with security fixes)

    We have new stable releases today. If you build Tor from source, you can download the source code for 0.4.3.6 on the website. Packages should be available within the next several weeks, with a new Tor Browser by the end of the month.

    There are also updated versions for older supported series. You can download 0.3.5.11 and 0.4.2.8 at https://dist.torproject.org/.

  • New alpha release: Tor 0.4.4.2-alpha

    There's a new alpha release available for download. If you build Tor from source, you can download the source code for 0.4.4.2-alpha from the download page on the website. Packages should be available over the coming weeks, with a new alpha Tor Browser release around the end of the month.

    Remember, this is an alpha release: you should only run this if you'd like to find and report more bugs than usual.

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  • Hugo: a static-site generator
                 
                   

    Static web-site generators take page content written in a markup language and render it into fully baked HTML, making it easy for developers to upload the result and serve a web site simply and securely. This article looks at Hugo, a static-site generator written in Go and optimized for speed. It is a flexible tool that can be configured for a variety of use cases: simple blogs, project documentation, larger news sites, and even government services.

  • diffoscope 151 released

    The diffoscope maintainers are pleased to announce the release of diffoscope version 151.

  • New German law would force ISPs to allow secret service to install trojans on user devices

    A new law being proposed in Germany would see all 19 federal state intelligence agencies in Germany granted the power to spy on German citizens through the use of trojans. The new law would force internet service providers (ISPs) to install government hardware at their data centers which would reroute data to law enforcement, and then on to its intended destination so the target is blissfully unaware that their communications and even software updates are being proxied. Specifically, Netzpolitik pointed out that the law calls for the following:

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  • Linus Torvalds longs for Apple’s ARM-based Mac
                     
                       

    Torvalds said he was more interested in an eventual Apple ARM desktop system over a laptop; he sees laptops as primarily something to use when travelling. The main selling point for ARM thus far has been low power, not performance, making the laptop space the more natural fit, Torvalds said. But ARM has the potential to grow beyond the low-power realm, a direction he expects Apple to take.

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