Sunday, December 21, 2014

A lot of weird stuff happened in 2014, from the Ellen DeGeneres super selfieand Charles Manson getting married in jail. But perhaps the strangest of all is the vocabulary we picked up this year.

Like with any job or hobby, there's a necessary amount of jargon that you need to know to get by — or at least understand what people are saying when talking to you.

Here are the words that dominated 2014. It's never too late to brush up on your made-up English.

1. Bae

The internet thought we needed a new term of endearment, so now we have another way to say baby or babe.

IMAGE: FLICKR, GUSTAVO MEDDE

2. Budtender

A budtender is basically a bartender, but instead of alcohol they serve marijuana in various concoctions, like cookies, lollipops and brownies.

IMAGE: BRETT LEVIN

3. Basic

A term used to describe people who fit a laundry list of "basic" criteria. If you line up for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, wear UGGs and listen to nothing but Taylor Swift and Pitch Perfect... you might be basic.

IMAGE: FLICKR, ELIZA CHLOE RICHMOND

4. Vape

To vape is to inhale and exhale smoke from an e-cigarette. It was also just named Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionary.

IMAGE: FLICKR, MICHAEL DORAUSCH

5. On Fleek

When something is "on point," or perfect. It's often used to describe eyebrows or hair, but it also is just another way to say something is cool.

IMAGE: CHARLES SYKES/INVISION/ASSOCIATED PRESS

6. Hangry

When you are so hungry that you start getting really angry.

VIDEO: YOUTUBE, PREMIUM ADVERTS

7. Yeet

A term that expresses excitement, it's often used when someone scores a three-pointer in basketball.

IMAGE: FLICKR, MVONGRUE

8. Bye, Felicia

When someone is leaving or you want someone to leave that you really couldn't care less about. Your amount of caring in you is so minuscule that you just change their name to Felicia.

VIDEO: YOUTUBE, RAVEN PATRICK

9. Normcore

A fashion trend that is characterized by wearing clothes that are average-looking, undistinguished and normal. Normcore's BFFs are white tees and basic sneakers.

IMAGE: @BLAIREADIEBEE ON INSTAGRAM

10. #blessed

There was such a huge upsurge in the #blessed hashtag, that even The New York Times noticed. People have been #blessed this year with everything: coffee, rainboots, sunsets, sunrises, dead leaves, kittens -- you name it.

IMAGE: @GISELLYCANLLYA ON INSTAGRAM

11. Get Lit

Getting stoned. Usage peaked at Coachella.

IMAGE: FLICKR, JONATHAN PICCOLO

12. Zero Chill

Used to describe something that is completely out of control or someone that is so overly excited that it's annoying.

IMAGE: FLICKR, NIKLAS SJÖBLOM

13. Turnt

When you're hyped up at a club or party.

IMAGE: FLICKR, MARSMETTNN TALLAHAASSEE

14. Slay

When you really succeed at something.

IMAGE: FLICKR, JOHN WIECHECKI

14 Slang Terms that dominated 2014

After months of speculation, Google unveiled its in-car solution known asAndroid Auto.

On Wednesday, the company launched the next phase of its in-car initiative on stage at its annual developers conference, Google I/O. The system is completely voice-enabled.


Some of the early details were revealed in January when Google hinted at its intentions by forming a global alliance called the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) with major carmakers including Hyundai, Audi, GM, Honda as well as Nvidia.

Image: Google

In short, the system is designed to provide a more distraction-free interface that allows you to select a music playlist, check traffic conditions and get directions, all using a voice interface. System's like Apple's CarPlayalready provide this kind of functionality, so the primary difference here is that the system is Android device-friendly.

During the demo, Google showed off how you can connect your Android device to the car and immediately begin using the system. Most of the demo was spent showing off how the voice system works. Android Auto has all the tools present in the Google Maps Android app, but is voice-enabled. The functions, from music selections to text notifications, also provide the same kind of robot-voice feedback that you'd hear when you use the voice-enabled version of Google's mobile search app.

The company also showed off how you can send messages via voice control using the system. You can also send SMS messages without exiting the maps app, a very practical feature for drivers who like to multitask.

Google announced the Android Auto SDK as well; the company is releasing a full set of APIs for audio and messaging applications. The Android Auto SDK will be published "soon," but no firm date has been announced.

Google also announced that more than 40 new partners have joined the OAA. The first cars with Android Auto are scheduled to hit the road before the end of the year.

Google in your car, Android Auto is Here

CyanogenMod (pronounced /saɪ.'æn.oʊ.dʒɛn.mɒd/) is an enhanced open source firmware distribution forsmartphones and tablet computers based on the Androidmobile operating system. It offers features and options not found in the official firmware distributed by vendors of these devices.

Features supported by CyanogenMod include nativetheming support, FLAC audio codec support, a largeAccess Point Name list, an OpenVPN client, an enhanced reboot menu, support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USBtethering, CPU overclocking and other performance enhancements, soft buttons and other "tablet tweaks", toggles in the notification pull-down (such as wi-fi,Bluetooth and GPS), app permissions management, as well as other interface enhancements. CyanogenMod does not contain spyware or bloatware. In many cases, CyanogenMod may increase performance and reliability compared with official firmware releases.

CyanogenMod is developed as free and open source software based on the official releases of Android byGoogle, with added original and third-party code.

Read more about CyanogenMod, including its developmentand version history, at its Wikipedia entry.

What's a "firmware", anyway?

Okay, here's a little history:

In the past, many simple appliances and electronics-- everything ranging from advanced toasters to microwaves to industrial machines ran on "embedded", limited-purpose computer chips (micro-controllers and such) to control their operations and user interfaces. Those embedded systems would require miniature, specialized software to, say, let someone program the VCR or to receive input from a remote control to change a TV's channel.

Traditionally, this software would be written on small-capacity memory chips, usually to be written once during manufacturing and never upgraded during the life of the product. This embedded software was known as "firmware" (halfway between software and hardware), and it still exists on many electronic products, containing the programming/logic stuff that makes much of the electronic gizmos you own work. Sometimes this firmware can be updated and new functions or bug fixes may be added. For something like a refrigerator or microwave, updating the firmware is usually a torturous process, and for most electronic things, it isn't necessary.

In the case of Android phones and tablets, as well as iOS devices-- despite the fact that they may appear simply to be a phone that can run apps, what you actually have in your hand is a full-fledged, general-purpose computer. So while in the past, the "firmware" was just the simple software to make a mobile phone work, the name "firmware" has stuck to describe the software you load onto your phone, much like you'd load any operating system onto a computer.

So to be clear-- today, your Android devices are in fact very similar to your laptop and desktop computers. Because they are now based on so-called SoCs, or "system on a chip"s, modern Android devices are effectively tiny, low-power laptops, only with touch screens instead of keyboards. CyanogenMod, based on Android, is a full-fledged operating system, just like Windows, OS X, or Linux are on laptop computers. In fact, Android runs on a version of the Linux kernel, and you can even run a full Linux desktop on many Android devices just as you would on a regular laptop.

The term "firmware", then, is just a legacy terminology to refer to the software you put on your handheld devices. But speaking realistically, you may as well think of it as "software, particularly an operating system and apps, that can be put on my device."

Hope that helps.

But wait-- is the right term "ROM" or "firmware" or what?

The term "ROM" has multiple definitions. Technically, ROM stands for Read-Only Memory, which means you cannot write to it; it is read-only, like a DVD.

Device manufacturers traditionally referred to a cell phone's included operating system as "ROMs" because they did notintend for you, the user, to replace it. And so, modders would use "ROM" as a shorthand for "ROM image" to describe what it was they were replacing. So today the files that you put in the system partition are also referred to as a ROM sometimes. You'll hear people say "flashing a ROM".

Whether you call CyanogenMod a "ROM" or a "firmware" or an "operating system" or a "distribution", it all means in this case the same thing. The ambiguous terminology is just the result of a decade-long transition from simple, non-replaceable software on hand-held devices to full-fledged, updatable operating systems on a small, portable computers that fits in the palm of your hand.

And what about the "open-source" part? What's that mean, and more importantly, why should I care?

Generally speaking, most programs (and even entire operating systems) are written from source code, a human-readable set of instructions that are compiled (or "built") into files that your computer (or in this case, your phone or tablet) can understand and run. In the case of operating systems such as MacOS X and Windows, many of the instructions that become the operating system are kept hidden from the public. With Android, this code is made public and are licensed in such a way that anyone can reuse the code if they like.

One major advantage to having an open-source-based operating system is that many people can scrutinize the source code, looking for bugs ranging from security holes to inefficiencies to missing features and pass fixes and features and translations into new languages back to be incorporated into the next version. CyanogenMod tries to build a new, fresh "nightly" version every 24 hours for each of the devices it supports, which includes the most up-to-date changes to the source code, provided from all over the Internet. Of course, the nightly builds may also contain newly-introduced bugs, but hey- if you feel adventurous, you can help make CyanogenMod better by trying these experimental builds and reporting back bugs to the developers.

So what is the difference between Android and CyanogenMod?

About 1-2 times a year, the vanilla Android operating system (known as AOSP, or the Android Open Source Project) is internally developed, then released to the public, by Google. They provide the source code to anyone who wants to download it. The CyanogenMod community, comprised mostly of unpaid volunteers and enthusiasts from around the world, takes this newest Android code and "ports" it to dozens of new and older (aka "legacy") devices. At the same time, other CyanogenMod developers start adding features, fixes, and improvements that Google didn't include to the CyanogenMod code, which benefits all the devices. The CyanogenMod community has a whole infrastructure for people to build and test experimental versions, report bugs, and contribute back to the source code.

Sometimes features that started in CyanogenMod have appeared in newer version of "official" Android. And every time Android does a new "code dump" of their latest version, CyanogenMod benefits from Google's changes.

In this way, CyanogenMod is one (but not the only) community distribution of what started as vanilla AOSP. The Android community is vibrant, with numerous "modders" and "themers" and "performance enhancers" taking the source code and doing incredible things to it. Generally, there is a spirit of sharing knowledge and empowering people to experiment with controlling their devices, often giving old phones new life, and hopefully having fun in the process.

What does it all mean to me?

CM is an alternative operating system intended to replace the one pre-installed on your smart phones and tablets. If you've got an older device that isn't getting updates anymore, or if your device seems unusually slow, or maybe you're sick of spyware, adware, and other unwanted garbage on your phone that you can't remove... Maybe your device is missing features or has been otherwise artificially limited in functionality. Perhaps you just could use a boost in performance... Or maybe you'd like to be more confident that your operating system has included some of the latest bug fixes...

Should I modify ("mod") my device?

When making the decision on whether or not to modify the software on your device, several factors come into play. Your Android device is pretty much a full computer (and if it's a phone it has additional mobile functions), so it may help to think of it in the same way as you would consider modifying your laptop or desktop computer from its stock installation.

Pros

Common reasons to modify your device's operating system include:

Remove unwanted programs ("bloatware") installed by your carrierReceive more frequent security updatesHave access to the current version of Android - most carriers take months to update devices on their network to the latest version of Android, if ever. Taking control of your OS allows you to update regularly, when you feel like it's time.Better performanceExtra features

Cons

Common concerns include the following:

Some device manufacturers or mobile providers may offer a limited or voided warranty after modifyingIt is possible that by installing a rooted operating system, you introduce new security risks. For instance, you need to be smart about the permissions you grant applications.Non-stock firmware could contain malicious code - which is a good argument for making sure you download custom ROMs from trusted sources, or even better, learn to build it yourself!Stability issues may arise when using an experimental operating system. However, for many people, CyanogenMod has proven to be more stable than manyofficial ROMs.

Other Discussions/Articles

To read more about the pros and cons of rooting and installing custom roms, check out this article from Android Authority. For a good overview of CyanogenMod specifically, check out this article from Addictive Tips.

Why use CyanogenMod?

What's a list of 'why' without some compelling reasons to entice you?

The core ideas are the same throughout our releases:

SecureLight footprintBloat-freeCustomizableOpen

This translates into an abundance of features that let you truly own your phone.

Feature List

CM Updater: Never miss an update! Our updater not only lets you have the latest releases, but you can update on your own schedule.

 

Privacy Guard: Control what your applications can learn about you and your contacts. Protect yourself with a simple click, or long press an app to delve deep.

Global Blacklist: Baked right into the OS is the ability to flag telemarketers, robo-callers, annoying people (yes even the in-laws) and blacklist them. Never receive another call or message from them (or maybe just ignore them for a little bit).

 

Quick Setting Ribbon: Embed quick toggles (and even your camera) right in your notification drawer, just one swipe away.

Quick Settings Config: Whether using the ribbon view or the larger grid view, customize the layout and order of your quick settings.

 

Theme: With the integrated theme engine, you can change the look and feel of the entire OS. Sports fan? Why not get a sports theme for your favorite team. Or maybe you just need a lighter overall look. Or red, green, or yellow. Endless possibilities!

Trebuchet: Not only does our custom launcher 'Trebuchet' allow for customizing the layout of the homescreen, it's backed by a comprehensive, built from the ground-up theme engine. With custom theme packs, you can take your customization to a whole new level, altering window styles, icons, fonts, wallpaper, the lock screen, boot animations, and sounds!

 

Status Bar Behavior: Customize your status bar and unlock some additional behavior. Tap the time to quickly set an alarm or tap the date to access your calendar. Show or hide as much as you'd like.

CM Account: We built a secure, encrypted and optional account service right in. Get remote find and wipe capabilities (for free) so even if you lose your device, you still have some control.

 

CM File Manager: Organize, edit, and manage your files with this simple, yet powerful file manager.

Display and Lights: Control brightness, rotation, wallpapers, remote displays, notification lights, and battery lights. You decide what suits your tastes.

 

Profiles: Our lives are always subject to context - what's appropriate at home may not be at work. So why aren't our devices? With profiles you can control application, sounds and even connectivity to quickly adapt to the environment in which you are using your phone. Go one step further and set up a profile to be location aware, or use NFC to trigger a profile change.

Button Configuration: Enable additional functionality from your hardware keys, or even remap them altogether. Your choice.

 

Navbar: Why stop at hardware buttons? Customize the software navigation bar to your liking as well.

Lockscreen: Add quick unlock targets to access your favorite apps directly from the lockscreen. Use our custom lockscreen widget to increase your productivity. Show the weather and your calendar events without unlocking the device. Optionally display battery status or even your name and ICE information.

 

DSP Manager: For you audiophiles, unlock the potential of your headphones by tuning your music with our built in equalizer.

Tethering: Share your device's data connection with your PC, tablets, friends and families with built in tethering over USB, WiFi and Bluetooth.

 

Developer Tools: We add a bit more for developers as well. Customize your device hostname; go wireless and use ADB over your network.

Root Access: Useful to developers and users alike, control your exposure to root applications and debugging tools.

 

Superuser: Manage root access to only the applications you trust, check access logs, and revoke their access when you are done.

Performance Options: Push it up to eleven and access power tools to overclock, manage device governors and more. Recommended for advanced users only.

 

Advanced Device controls: These options vary by device, but allow for even more control over the hardware on your phones.

SMS Rate limit: There are some bad apps out there. Enable rate limiting to get a notice if an app starts spamming bogus SMS message services to generate advertising revenue for a malicious developer. Or maybe you just have a teenager and this is perfectly normal.

Introducing the CyanogenMod Installer

Installing CyanogenMod has never been easier! Our interactive installation tool makes replacing your current Android operating system with CyanogenMod a breeze.

Get Started

To read more on what the installer does check thedocumentation.

CyanogenMod, A new dimension to Android phones

Nexus 6 charger

Taking a look back at the week in news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit highlights a number of stories including Android’s market share domination of iOS, details on Android 5.1, the retiring Nexus 5, reviews of the Nexus 6 and the Oppo R5, Android M might take over your car, Samsung looks to mimic Apple Pay, and RAW support for images is arriving in Android.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android over the last seven days.

Android Dominates Marketshare, New Manufacturers Have Cornered Growth Markets

Gartner’s latest analysis of the sales figures for Q3 2014 gives Android a commanding lead in terms of market share. Of the 301 million smartphones sold, Android’s market share is 83.1 percent, Apple’s iOS has 12.7 percent, Windows Phone clocks in at 3%, and everybody else is under 1%.

A worrying trend for the established players such as Samsung , Sony, and HTC, is where sales are coming from. The old guard is established in saturated western markets with little opportunity for growth, while the new companies on the rise (including Huawei and Xiaomi) are coming on strong in the BRIC territories and have many more opportunities to increase sales.

Android 5.1 Lollipop Update Details

Alleged details on Android 5.1 were found online this week by AndroidPit. Although many consumer handsets have still to receive the Android 5.0 Lollipop update (or the 5.0.1 point release), Google is pushing ahead with a significant point release to address many issues around the OS.

[This update] includes but is not limited to improvements to RAM management, addressing the ‘sudden app closures’ bug, and correcting the excessive consumption of network devices when Wi-Fi is used. It also includes the return of ‘silent mode’ which was removed from Android 5.0, after proving a popular feature in previous versions of Google’s mobile operating system.


One thing to note, given the ninety-day window that many manufactures are using between Google’ launch of an OS and when it can be expected over-the-air, a Feb 2015 release of Android 5.1 could mean the bug fixes and updates will not arrive to consumer handset until June or July next year.

If Google want to look at addressing the pain points of Android in 2015, the excessive time to roll out firmware updates would be a good place to start. In the meantime, consumers are going to have a long wait for Android 5.0, and an even longer wait for Android 5.1 to fix the bugs.


Android’s Material Design Principle (image: Google.com)

Google To Retire The Nexus 5 In The Name Of Advertising?

Many of us here on the Forbes Tech Team initially questioned Google’s decision to retain the Nexus 5 at the launch of the Nexus 6. As the reviews of the Nexus 6 came in, it became clear that the newer phablet was more a complement to the venerable five-inch screened reference design rather than a direct replacement.

Just as it began to make sense, news reached us that the Nexus 5 is being set up for a quiet retirement as 2015 dawns. Whether stocks will not be replenished, or if it will simply leave a Google+ status that it’s just going outside for some time, the days of the Nexus 5 appear to be drawing to a close. Could the reason be a larger screen is better for displaying adverts?

It should not be a surprise that Google is retiring the Nexus 5 and pushing attention onto the phablet and tablet spaces of the Android ecosystem. For all they services, software, hardware, and crazy ideas that Google pushes out, the company is still based around selling advertising.

When the web browser on your desktop ruled, Google monopolised the display ad business. Now that everyone is moving their consumption towards mobile devices, Google must change with the times and effectively monetize the eyeballs reading from hundreds of millions of screens around the world. A larger screen provides more space for interaction, more opportunity for attractive and eye-catching advertising, and more space to place advertising around content.


Is The Nexus 6 A Giant Keeper?

Staying with the Nexus line, Gordon Kelly has been using the Nexus 6 since it was launched, and he’s in a position to review the phablet. It’s been a… challenging handset to review:

It has been a strange month. I’ve been using the Nexus 6 for five weeks (I received it prior to release) and during that time it has made me feel wonder, frustration, surprise and anger. At times I felt like I was experiencing the future of smartphones, at others that I’d adopted the antichrist.


Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Is Samsung Ready To Take On Apple Pay?

The success of Apple Pay has been noted by many, and it will come as a complete surprise to find out that Samsung is looking to launch a similar product early next year. Jason Del Ray at Re/Code reports on the South Korean’s ongoing talks with the Boston-based LoopPay:

LoopPay’s technology can wirelessly transmit the same information stored on a debit or credit card’s magnetic stripe to a store’s checkout equipment without swiping a card. The company has embedded the technology, which it calls magnetic secure transmission, into a few hardware products it sells directly to consumers: A fob, as well as a LoopPay digital payment card that can be used on its own or while secured in a special LoopPay smartphone case. To complete a purchase, LoopPay users tap any of these devices near the spot on a store’s credit card terminal where a card is usually swiped.


The timing of ‘early 2015′ would fit in with the launch of the Galaxy S5, widely expected to be late in Q1 2015 to be available in April 2015. LoopPay’s UI looks remarkably like Apple’s PassBook system, and is also designed to work with existing mag-stripe card readers.

Android OS Built-In To Your Car

While Android Auto brings a large touch-based UI suitable for navigating your smartphone while driving and interfacing with your car’s systems, Google’s Android M is an operating system for your car that would run as a standalone Android environment, without the requirement of a secondary handset. Dave Altavilla looks at the new flavor of Android.

A recent tip via Reuters tells of the forthcoming ‘Android M’ operating system which will have the ability to become a much more central command and control function of the vehicle, rather than just a feature add. In fact, it’s being reported that cars would not need an Android handset connected to them at all and the OS would function autonomously.  Further, with an always-on internet connection, various Google services like Maps, Play Music and Google Now will always be accessible.  Sure, your Android phone could synch to it but it wouldn’t need to. Also, your Google account and other family members’ accounts could be pre-loaded into the system and at the ready with your customizations and personal preferences at the ready.


The opportunities to provide services and gather real-world data on users makes this an interesting diversion for Google. 

Oppo R5

The Thinnest Smartphone On Sale… In The World

There’s an arms race by manufacturers to build and release the thinnest smartphone possible. While the 4.85 millimetre mark of the Oppo R5 has already been bettered at the design and manufacturing stage, this ultra-thin handset is currently the thinnest smartphone on sale.

Oppo has had to make a number of compromises to get the dimensions down, and while they don’t cripple the phone, you do need to be aware of them if the fashionable look is going to be your look for 2015.

With the R5, Oppo has sidestepped the arms race of flagships with ever faster processors, increased memory, larger screens, and bigger specifications. It focuses on one area – size – and does almost everything to keep the handset as thin as possible, while still remaining practical to use.

Yes, there are concerns and limitations about endurance and battery life (the R5 would be a perfect handset to have wireless charging for continually topping up the battery) but I think that it’s right that Oppo has tried something else in terms of design goals with the R5. As long as you are aware that this handset is going to need careful power management throughout the day, you are going to enjoy it.


And Finally…

Photographers looking for more from their smartphone cameras should be looking to pick up a Nexus device. Google has provided access to the RAW image file format for developers (reports Stephen Shankland for CNet).

Raw support isn’t likely to appeal to mainstream shooters. HDR (high dynamic range) technology already expands what an ordinary JPEG can do by layering multiple frames at varying exposures to create a single image with greater luminosity. But the more mobile-phone cameras improve, the more enthusiasts will come to rely on them, and the more appealing raw support will become.

Raw photography requires people to fiddle with their photos in software that acts like a digital darkroom. For people who like that sort of thing — and there are plenty — raw photos give control to the photographer instead of going with processing assumptions that the camera makes. Cameras ordinarily bake those assumptions into JPEG images, but raw photos leave the original data intact for maximum flexibility.


Applications such as FV-5 have already been updated to allow RAW to be a user-option.

‘Android Circuit’ will round-up the news from the Android world every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future, and of course the sister column in Apple LoopLast week’s Android Circuit can be found here, and if you have any news and links you’d like to see featured in Android Circuit, get in touch!

Android Dominates iOS, Long Term Nexus 6 Review, Nexus 5 Cancelled

BlackBerry's mobile


While Boeing has made a name for itself in the aerospace and defense industries, the Chicago-based company is also working on a super-secure smartphone called Boeing Black. In fact, it’s been doing it since 2012, but we’ve yet to see the final product. However, we now know that Boeing has partnered with BlackBerry to bring the latter’s BES 12 platform to the handset in order to provide a secure environment.

Yesterday, BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed that the company would “provide a secure mobile solution for [Boeing] Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform,” though he couldn’t say more about the deal - because he isn’t allowed to.

The Boeing Black is a dual-SIM handset that can connect to multiple networks, satellites, and even biometric sensors. More interestingly, the device can reportedly self-destruct if it’s tampered with.

It’s unlikely that the Boeing Black will be sold to consumers. The smartphone is primarily made for “governmental agencies and their contractors to ensure that data and voice communications undertaken by their respective employees are transmitted and stored in a highly secure manner.” According to Reuters, Boeing is already offering the Black smartphone to potential customers. Hopefully, we’ll be able to actually see the handset soon, as it seems to be a very interesting piece of technology.

The self-destructing Boeing Black Android smartphone will use BlackBerry's mobile security platform

 
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