Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

OSNews

Syndicate content OSNews.com
Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 57 min 49 sec ago

Remember Zip disks? These election departments do

Friday 24th of March 2017 12:27:01 AM
You may recall that a couple of years ago we ran a piece talking about how Ada County, the most populous county in Idaho, was desperately looking for Zip disks and drives to help keep its aging voting machines running. As it turns out, Ada County isn't alone. Apparently a lot of counties are in the same boat. Once, while buying a PowerMac G4 from someone (factory-equipped with an internal Zip drive), I stumbled upon his huge collection of external Zip drives and disks, which he promptly handed over as a gift. Other than playing with them out of idle curiosity, I never used them for anything. Instead of disposing of them years later, I guess I should've sent those 15 or so external Zip drives and 30-odd disks as emergency foreign aid to America. Underfunding democracy seems like a terrible idea.

Secret colours of the Commodore 64

Friday 24th of March 2017 12:21:07 AM
This was freaky. When you owned any 8-bit computer, you became intimately familiar with its colour scheme. This simple photograph blew my mind. That blue colour just wasn't possible. According to the caption, by presenting two colours to the eye and alternating them quickly enough, a whole new colour emerged. What would this new, secret colour look like on your crappy early-90s CRT television? The screenshot was only a hint. Would it glow? Would it flicker? Twenty-six years later, I found out the answer. This article is all about colour switching on the Commodore 64. There are interactive examples to play with below. I haven't found anything else on the topic, so it's possible this is the only resource on the subject. It's amazing what talented programmers can eke out of old 8bit machines.

Maybe Android tablet apps will be better this year

Thursday 23rd of March 2017 12:38:43 AM
There's a new Android tablet you can go and buy, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. Here's our review of it, where Jake notes that apps freeze if they're not in the foreground. Which is a good reminder: Android apps on tablets have never really been very good. They usually end up feeling like stretched-out phone apps. Things have gotten better in the past couple years, but it's still a problem. In fact, it has always been a problem. I wonder if anybody ever told Google that it was a problem and it should try to do a better job incentivizing developers to make apps that work better on tablets. Oh, wait, somebody has. Brutal, but true. Devil's advocate take: since tablets don't matter, do tablet apps really matter?

Update on HTML5 video for Netflix

Wednesday 22nd of March 2017 10:42:00 PM
About four years ago, we shared our plans for playing premium video in HTML5, replacing Silverlight and eliminating the extra step of installing and updating browser plug-ins.   Since then, we have launched HTML5 video on Chrome OS, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, Firefox, and Edge on all supported operating systems.  And though we do not officially support Linux, Chrome playback has worked on that platform since late 2014.  Starting today, users of Firefox can also enjoy Netflix on Linux. This marks a huge milestone for us and our partners, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Mozilla that helped make it possible. It wasn't that long ago we barely dared to imagine HTML5 video taking over from Flash and Silverlight.

Google releases Android O Developer Preview

Tuesday 21st of March 2017 11:27:03 PM
Google has released the first Developer Preview for Android O, which is probably going to be released somewhere in the Fall. There's a lot changes in this one, but the biggest one is probably the limits Android O is going to place on applications running in the background. Building on the work we began in Nougat, Android O puts a big priority on improving a user's battery life and the device's interactive performance. To make this possible, we've put additional automatic limits on what apps can do in the background, in three main areas: implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates. These changes will make it easier to create apps that have minimal impact on a user's device and battery. Background limits represent a significant change in Android, so we want every developer to get familiar with them. Check out the documentation on background execution limits and background location limits for details. There's more - improvements in keyboard navigation, Navigation Channels for managing notifications, picture-in-picture on smartphones, wide-gamut colour support for applications, several new Java 8 features, and more. A big one for audio people: Sony has contributed a lot of work to audio in Android O, adding the LDAC wireless audio codec. It's available on the usual Nexus devices.

Nintendo approached Cyanogen for the Switch's OS

Tuesday 21st of March 2017 11:14:21 PM
In the early life of the Nintendo Switch, when it was still codenamed Nintendo NX, there were a lot of rumors floating around about the device. We saw a console with an oval shape and a screen that seemed built into the buttons and rumors that the new device would run Android as its operating system. While the product we have today resembles nothing of those early prototypes, it looks like the Android rumor may not have been far off. Cyanogen's Kirt McMaster tweeted early this morning to say that Nintendo had approached him about designing a custom Android-based operating system for their new console, but he had some choice words for the company. Add this to the list of terrible business decisions by Cyanogen and its CEO.

MiniDisc: an appreciation

Tuesday 21st of March 2017 12:02:19 AM
In this video you'll see the first machine and the last machine as well as some in-between. There's talk about MD-LP, Net-MD and HiMD. It's a personal retrospective of a format that was loved by many people around the world but one that is all too often is judged purely on its lack of performance in the US market. Great video by a great channel. I'm one of those MiniDisc people. MiniDisc was fairly successful in The Netherlands, and quite a few people around me were MiniDisc users as well. I've had countless machines over the years, and I was still using HiMD well into the smartphone era - and carried both a smartphone and my HiMD player for quite a while. Even though the world had long ago moved on to MP3 players and then smartphones, I was still using MD. I've long wondered why, and this video finally made it dawn on me: rituals. Since prerecorded MiniDiscs were rare and incredibly expensive, you copied CDs onto MiniDiscs instead. Especially before the advent of NetMD and later HiMD, you did this without the help of a computer. You'd get a new album, listen to it, enjoy it - and then, to make sure you could listen to it on the go, you plugged one end of an optical cable into your CD player, the other end into your portable MD recorder, and copy the CD in real time. Once it was done, neat freaks like me would even enter all the track information using the little dial on the recorder, track by track, letter by letter. Painstaking doesn't even begin to describe it. Even listening to your MiniDiscs - they were satisfying to hold, the loading and unloading was deeply mechanical, the spring-loading trays were a delight. It was just an endless array of rituals that, while pointless and cumbersome to others, were deeply enriching and soothing to me. I guess it must be similar to people still using vinyl today. To me, MiniDisc was one of the greatest formats - not because it was better or more advanced (even though during the 90s and early 2000s, it actually was), but because it was full of little delights and rituals. Just one of those irrational things that only few of us will ever fully understand.

Hacking Final Fantasy 1 on the NES

Monday 20th of March 2017 11:44:06 PM
I decided I wanted to hack Final Fantasy 1, one of my favorite games growing up, that I put in more than 100 hours playing. I used fceux as my NES emulator, same as in the video and followed mostly the same patterns. I kept some notes on how I did it and thought others might find the process as interesting and fun as I did. I ended up losing most of the notes from a few years ago, so I went back and rediscovered the different memory locations and values to use again.

They used to last 50 years

Monday 20th of March 2017 11:42:47 PM
Now refrigerators last 8-10 years, if you are fortunate. How in the world have our appliances regressed so much in the past few decades? I've bought and sold refrigerators and freezers from the 1950s that still work perfectly fine. I've come across washers and dryers from the 1960s and 1970s that were still working like the day they were made. Now, many appliances break and need servicing within 2-3 years and, overall, new appliances last 1/3 to 1/4 as long as appliances built decades ago. They break more frequently, and sooner, than ever before. They rust and deteriorate much quicker than in the past. Why is this happening, and what's really going on? I've been wrestling over these questions for years while selling thousands of appliances, and more recently, working with used appliance sellers and repair techs all across the country. The following is what I've discovered. This is something we've all instinctively known, but Ryan Finlay goes into detail as to what, exactly, are the causes. The article's from 2015, but I stumbled on it today on Twitter, and I thought it was a great, informative read.

Swatch takes on Google, Apple with own watch OS

Saturday 18th of March 2017 12:51:52 AM
Swatch Group AG said it's developing an alternative to the iOS and Android operating systems for smartwatches as Switzerland's largest maker of timepieces vies with Silicon Valley for control of consumers' wrists. The company's Tissot brand will introduce a model around the end of 2018 that uses the Swiss-made system, which will also be able to connect small objects and wearables, Swatch Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said in an interview Thursday. The technology will need less battery power and it will protect data better, he said later at a press conference. It makes sense. Unlike as on smartphones or PCs, I don't think people really want applications on smartwatches. Notifications and fitness - that's what seems to define the (admittedly, limited) appeal of smartwatches. There's no reason why a traditional watchmaker wouldn't be able to provide such limited functionality in a robust way, possibly providing anything from watches that are all-screen to mechanical watches with more limited 'smart' additions. With Wear 2.0 effectively being fake news at this point, where else is Swatch going to turn to?

Intel still beats Ryzen at games, but how much does it matter?

Friday 17th of March 2017 10:48:39 PM
Realistically, nobody should have expected Ryzen to be king of the hill when it comes to gaming. We know that Broadwell isn't, after all; Intel's Skylake and Kaby Lake parts both beat Broadwell in a wide range of games. This is the case even though Skylake and Kaby Lake are limited to four cores and eight threads; for many or most games, high IPC and high clock speeds are the key to top performance, and that's precisely what Kaby Lake delivers. In spite of this, reading the various reviews around the Web - and comment threads, tweets, and reddit posts - one gets the feeling that many were hoping or expecting Ryzen to somehow beat Intel across the board, and there's a prevailing narrative that Ryzen is in some sense a bad gaming chip. But this argument is often paired with the claim that some kind of non-specific "optimization" is going to salvage the processor's performance, that AMD fans just need to keep the faith for a few months, and that soon Ryzen's full power will be revealed. Both parts of this reaction are more than a little flawed. I'm just glad there's finally competition in the desktop processor space again. Intel started to charge some outrageous prices these past few years, but if you wanted the best performance, you really didn't have much of a choice. With Ryzen, AMD is showing the world it's back on track. It might not be there yet in every aspect, but it's an amazingly promising start.

Microsoft is infesting Windows 10 with annoying ads

Friday 17th of March 2017 10:45:31 PM
Now Microsoft is planning to preload another app in Windows 10: Sling TV. While only US Windows 10 users will get Sling TV preloaded without the necessary subscription, it will sit alongside Candy Crush and Solitaire as other examples of what will soon be described as bloatware. Thankfully, it’s easy to uninstall these unnecessary apps, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft won’t add more to the mix in the future. Microsoft used to blame its OEM partners for bundling lots of useless apps on Windows PCs, but now it has itself to blame for doing the same to Windows 10. More and more ads are coming to products you actually already pay for.

NetBSD 7.1 released

Thursday 16th of March 2017 11:14:20 PM
NetBSD 7.1 has been released. Some highlights of the 7.1 release are: Support for Raspberry Pi Zero. Initial DRM/KMS support for NVIDIA graphics cards via nouveau (Disabled by default. Uncomment nouveau and nouveaufb in your kernel config to test). The addition of vioscsi, a driver for the Google Compute Engine disk. Linux compatibility improvements, allowing, e.g., the use of Adobe Flash Player 24. wm(4): C2000 KX and 2.5G support. Wake On Lan support. 82575 and newer SERDES based systems now work. ODROID-C1 Ethernet now works. Numerous bug fixes and stability improvements.

Blocking Windows 7, 8.1 updates for Kaby Lake, Ryzen chips imminent

Thursday 16th of March 2017 11:09:20 PM
Ars Technica reports: A recently published Knowledge Base article suggests that Microsoft is going to block Windows Updates for owners of the latest Intel and AMD processors if they try to run Windows 7 or 8.1. Last year, Microsoft announced a shift in the way it would support Windows. Going forward, new processors, including Intel's Kaby Lake and AMD's recently-released Ryzen, would require the newest version of Windows. Users of Windows 7 and 8.1 would be out of luck, with Microsoft having no plans to support the new chips on the old operating systems. Take note.

Google lies about Google Home playing audio ads

Thursday 16th of March 2017 10:46:36 PM
Today some Google Home owners reported hearing something extra when they asked for a summary of the day ahead from the smart speaker: an advertisement for the opening of Beauty and the Beast. Several users on Reddit have noticed the audio ad and Bryson Meunier posted a clip to Twitter. Some Android users also reported hearing the ad through Google Assistant on mobile. And from the Total Bullshit Dpt., also known as Google PR: This wasn’t intended to be an ad. What’s circulating online was a part of our My Day feature, where after providing helpful information about your day, we sometimes call out timely content. We’re continuing to experiment with new ways to surface unique content for users and we could have done better in this case. It was an ad, plain and simple. A corporate statement like this, which is clearly, utterly, 100% a lie, should be illegal, and punishable by massive fines. This kind of callous behaviour is a disgrace.

WordStar: a writer's word processor

Thursday 16th of March 2017 10:42:38 PM
Many science fiction writers - including myself, Roger MacBride Allen, Gerald Brandt, Jeffrey A. Carver, Arthur C. Clarke, David Gerrold, Terence M. Green, James Gunn, Matthew Hughes, Donald Kingsbury, Eric Kotani, Paul Levinson, George R. R. Martin, Vonda McIntyre, Kit Reed, Jennifer Roberson, and Edo van Belkom - continue to use WordStar for DOS as our writing tool of choice. Still, most of us have endured years of mindless criticism of our decision, usually from WordPerfect users, and especially from WordPerfect users who have never tried anything but that program. I've used WordStar, WordPerfect, Word, MultiMate, Sprint, XyWrite, and just about every other MS-DOS and Windows word-processing package, and WordStar is by far my favorite choice for creative composition at the keyboard. That's the key point: aiding creative composition. To understand how WordStar does that better than other programs, let me start with a little history. An old article from 1990 and updated in 1996, reprinted, but still a good read.

The best hardware to build with Swift is not what you think

Wednesday 15th of March 2017 11:22:09 PM
Some interesting figures from LinkedIn, who benchmark the compiling times of their Swift-based iOS application. You'd think the Mac Pro would deliver the fastest compiles, but as it turns out - that's not quite true. As you can see, 12-core MacPro is indeed the slowest machine to build our code with Swift, and going from the default 24 jobs setting down to only 5 threads improves compilation time by 23%. Due to this, even a 2-core Mac Mini ($1,399.00) builds faster than the 12-cores Mac Pro ($6,999.00). As Steven Troughton-Smith notes on Twitter - "People suggested that the Mac Pro is necessary because devs need more cores; maybe we just need better compilers? There's no point even theorizing about a 24-core iMac Pro if a 4-core MBP or mini will beat it at compiling."

10 years with DragonFlyBSD network stack

Wednesday 15th of March 2017 11:15:42 PM
In this paper we are going to introduce the evolution of DragonFlyBSD's network stack in the past 10 years: what's the current state of its network stack, the important changes we did to it, why the important changes, and the lessons we learned. Finally, I'd like to list the areas that DragonFlyBSD's network stack can enjoy help hands. A detailed look at DragonFlyBSD's network stack.

Window Maker 0.95.8 released

Tuesday 14th of March 2017 07:30:48 PM
Window Maker 0.95.8 has been released. It contains a number of changes related to window snapping and quite a number of other changes for what is supposedly a point release.

LLVM 4.0.0 released

Tuesday 14th of March 2017 07:27:30 PM
This release is the result of the community's work over the past six months, including: use of profile data in ThinLTO, more aggressive dead code elimination, experimental support for coroutines, experimental AVR target, better GNU ld compatibility and significant performance improvements in LLD, as well as improved optimizations, many bug fixes and more. The release notes have all the details.

More in Tux Machines

Software: LibreELEC 8.0.1 (Kodi), MKVToolnix 10.0.0, Claws Mail 3.15)

  • LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.0.1 MR
    LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.0.1 MR is available bringing Kodi v17.1, hardware support for the Raspberry Pi Zero W, improved software HEVC decoding on RPi3/CM3 hardware, driver support for Fe Pi audio cards, and support for Cirrus Logic DAC audio cards (thanks to @HiassofT). The bump to Kodi v17.1 resolves several upgrade and user-experience issues we have seen with the initial Kodi v17.0 release, and happiness is enhanced for users wearing an official LibreELEC tee-shirt or hoodie.
  • LibreELEC 8.0.1 Is Out Based on Kodi 17.1, Adds Support for Raspberry Pi Zero W
    LibreELEC developers announced the release and general availability of the first maintenance update to the major LibreELEC 8.0 stable series of the Linux-based operating system built around the Kodi open-source media center.
  • NetworkManager 1.8 to Support Handling of PINs for PKCS#11 Tokens as Secrets
    Lubomir Rintel announced that the development of the NetworkManager 1.8 major release has kicked off with the availability of the first snapshot, versioned 1.7.2, for public testing.
  • MKVToolnix 10.0.0 Open-Source MKV Manipulator Improves H.264 and H.265 Parsers
    MKVToolnix developer Moritz Bunkus released a new major branch of his popular, open-source and cross-platform MKV (Matroska) manipulation software, versioned 10.0.0.
  • Claws Mail 3.15.0
    Claws Mail is a GTK+ based, user-friendly, lightweight, and fast email client.
  • Claws Mail 3.15 Open-Source Email Client Brings New Hidden Preferences, Bugfixes
    Claws Mail, the lightweight and open-source GTK+ based email client for Linux, UNIX, and Windows operating systems, was updated recently to version 3.15.0, a maintenance update that adds new functionalities and addresses a lot of bugs. Claws Mail 3.15.0 comes more than four months after the first point release to the 3.14 series of the application, and among the new features implemented we can mention a bunch of options that should help users configure Claws Mail when opening a selected message, such as checkboxes on the Display and Summaries page of Preferences.

Games for GNU/Linux

  • It looks like we may be getting a Planescape Torment Enhanced Edition
    Back in January Beamdog was looking for testers on a new game. Now the Planescape website has a countdown timer. It's legitimate too, as tweeted by the Beamdog and the D&D twitter accounts.
  • RTS game 'Deadhold' could come to Linux, considering an experimental Beta
    The developers of Deadhold [Steam, Official Site] want to support Linux and they are thinking about releasing an experimental Linux Beta.
  • Ten amazing Linux games you can play without WINE
    Those of us who have taken up the mantle of a Linux gamer know that our path is rarely easy. For a long time, few games were released for our chosen platform. Those that were shipped riddled with bugs, compatibility issues and rarely worked out of the box. Getting games to work require using WINE and deeply complex almost arcane workarounds to force windows games to work on our quirky systems. Unfortunately, games rarely worked well and usually required hours of complex tweaking in order to get them to function properly. To top this all of, there were graphics driver problems, optimization issues, peripherals rarely worked out of the box and our lives were generally difficult.

Ubuntu-Based LXLE 16.04.2 Gets an RC Build, Promises to Be the Best Release Ever

LXLE 16.04.2 is on its way to becoming the best release ever of the Ubuntu-based distribution built around the lightweight LXDE desktop environment, and it just received a Release Candidate (RC) build. Continuing to get all the goodies from Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus), LXLE 16.04.2 Release Candidate is here only two weeks after the last Beta milestone, and adds quite a bunch of improvements and bug fixes. These include a reconfigured menu layout to be less cluttered for navigation, and a revamped Control Menu to act as a dynamic Control Panel. Read more

These Are the Default Wallpapers of the Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) Linux Distro

Ubuntu member Nathan Haines is proud to inform Softpedia about the availability of the new community wallpapers for the upcoming Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system. Ubuntu 17.04 just got its Final Beta release at the end of last week, and now that Final Freeze stage is approaching fast, it's time for us to have a look at the default wallpapers shipping with the final release, which have been contributed by various artists and photographers from all over the world. Read more