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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 17 min 40 sec ago

Microsoft draws flak for pushing Windows 10 on PC users

Monday 27th of June 2016 10:56:26 PM
A few days after Microsoft released Windows 10 to the public last year, Teri Goldstein's computer started trying to download and install the new operating system. The update, which she says she didn't authorize, failed. Instead, the computer she uses to run her Sausalito, Calif., travel-agency business slowed to a crawl. It would crash, she says, and be unusable for days at a time. "I had never heard of Windows 10," Goldstein said. "Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update." When outreach to Microsoft's customer support didn’t fix the issue, Goldstein took the software giant to court, seeking compensation for lost wages and the cost of a new computer. She won. Last month, Microsoft dropped an appeal and Goldstein collected a $10,000 judgment from the company. We accept so much crap from software makers, so it feels good if someone manages to get back at them for the terrible quality of software in general.

Announcing .NET Core 1.0

Monday 27th of June 2016 06:49:14 PM
We are excited to announce the release of .NET Core 1.0, ASP.NET Core 1.0 and Entity Framework 1.0, available on Windows, OS X and Linux! .NET Core is a cross-platform, open source, and modular .NET platform for creating modern web apps, microservices, libraries and console applications. This release includes the .NET Core runtime, libraries and tools and the ASP.NET Core libraries. We are also releasing Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code extensions that enable you to create .NET Core projects. You can get started at https://dot.net/core. Read the release notes for detailed release information.

Dolphin 5.0 released

Friday 24th of June 2016 10:10:03 PM
The long awaited Dolphin 5.0 release is finally here! After nearly a year of bug-hunting and handling the release process, everything has come together for our biggest release yet! The three previous releases followed a very distinct pattern: sacrifice performance, hacks, and features in exchange for higher accuracy. As such, Dolphin 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 progressively grew slower. But thanks to the cleanups put forward throughout those releases, Dolphin 5.0 is the fastest Dolphin has ever been! By removing all of those hacks and outdated features while cleaning up the codebase, Dolphin has reached a new level of efficiency, powered by a revitalized dynamic recompiler. On the GPU side, OpenGL and D3D11 have seen tons of optimizations and accuracy improvements, and have been joined by a brand new D3D12 backend for huge performance gains. If there's a CPU or GPU extension that can make Dolphin faster, we take advantage of it. Dolphin is an incredibly impressive project - not just from a technological standpoint, but also from an organisation one. They post regular, detailed development updates, have in-depth release notes that are still entirely readable for laypersons such as myself, and you always learn a ton of new stuff following the project's progress. A great example of how to run a project like this. Don't forget to check out the release video with tons of side-by-side examples of the long list of improvements.

PowerNex: kernel written in D

Friday 24th of June 2016 10:02:38 PM
PowerNex is a kernel written in the D Programming Language. The goal is to have a whole OS written in D, where PowerNex powers the core. Exactly what it is.

PowerNex: kernel written in the D

Friday 24th of June 2016 10:02:38 PM
PowerNex is a kernel written in the D Programming Language. The goal is to have a whole OS written in D, where PowerNex powers the core. Exactly what it is.

macOS Sierra developer preview: different name, same ol' Mac

Friday 24th of June 2016 01:11:11 AM
It's tempting to read the "macOS" rebranding as some grand statement about the Mac, but, truth be told, "Sierra" is more indicative of what we're getting. The name comes from a mountain range that encompasses Yosemite and El Capitan rather than moving away from them. It's another year of building on Yosemite's foundation, another year of incremental change, and another year of over-saturated mountain wallpapers. Like El Capitan before it, Sierra focuses on a few marquee features, a couple of under-the-hood changes, a smattering of smaller tweaks, and one or two signposts pointing toward future development. It's the next release of OS X, new name or not. And we've spent a week with the first developer beta to dig into some of the new features ahead of the public beta in July and the public release in the fall. Insights into the developer preview.

Huawei is working on its own mobile OS

Friday 24th of June 2016 01:04:51 AM
Huawei, the world's third-largest smartphone manufacturer, is reportedly developing its own mobile OS. Phones made by the Chinese manufacturer currently run on the company's Android skin, EMUI, but according to a report from The Information Huawei is building an alternative OS in case its relationship with Google sours. The company reportedly has a team working on the mobile OS in Scandinavia, with the engineers including ex-Nokia employees. But although Huawei isn't the only Android phone maker exploring alternatives (Samsung has its own Linux-based Tizen OS, although that's mainly been deployed in IoT devices so far), sources speaking to The Information say the company's operating system "isn't far along." That ship has sailed. It's probably in Fiji by now.

'Gruber misses the point completely about Lightning headphones'

Wednesday 22nd of June 2016 08:00:26 PM
After Nilay Patel's strong piece and John Gruber's meager response, here's another one by Steve Streza: John can argue all he wants that this is all somehow in the best interest of customers by virtue of it being great business for Apple, but it simply isn’t true. It also won’t be a hill that many customers will die on at the point of sale. People will not buy into Lightning headphones, they will put up with it. This transition will be painful and difficult because of just how thoroughly entrenched the current solution is, how little the new solution offers, and how many complications it adds for customers. Nilay is correct, it is user-hostile, and it is stupid. But hey, it’s great for Apple. I have very little to add here, other than dongle, and a plea: can somebody finally give me a valid reason for removing the 3.5mm jack? I've heard nonsense about waterproofing (can be done just fine with 3.5mm jack), battery life (negligible, unlikely because of the location of the assembly, entirely and utterly eclipsed by making the battery like 0.5mm thicker), cost (...seriously? That's the best you can do?), or thinness (oh come on, the iPhone 6S is 7.1mm thick - it will take a miracle for the iPhone 7 or even 8 or 9 to be thinner than 3.5mm). Anyone? As far as I can tell, there are only downsides.

Taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid

Tuesday 21st of June 2016 09:20:08 PM
Another day, another rumor that Apple is going to ditch the headphone jack on the next iPhone in favor of sending out audio over Lightning. Or another phone beats Apple to the punch by ditching the headphone jack in favor of passing out audio over USB-C. What exciting times for phones! We're so out of ideas that actively making them shittier and more user-hostile is the only innovation left. Tell us how you really feel, Nilay. Needless to say - fully agreed. Removing the headphone jack is dumb.

The Xerox Star

Monday 20th of June 2016 10:58:39 PM
Speaking of the Xerox Alto - let's move on a few years and talk about the Xerox Star, its successor and, like the Alto, one of the most influential computers ever made. There's this great demo up on YouTube, where some of its creators walk you through the basics of using the Xerox Star, from basic filing, down to the included virtual keyboard which could display any keyboard layout you wanted - including things like Japanese or a math panel. I love watching videos of the Xerox Star in action, because it shows you just how little the basic concepts of the graphical user interfaces we use every day - OS X/Windows or iOS/Android or whatever - have changed since the '70s, when Xerox invented all the basic parts of it. Of course, it has been refined over the decades, but the basic structure and most important elements have changed little. Like still relying on shoehorning a timesharing punchcard mainframe operating system onto a phone, we still rely on the same old Xerox concepts of icons and windows and dialogs on our phones as well. Hardware has progressed at an incredibly pace - we have watches tons more powerful than 100 Xerox Stars combined - but software, including UI, has not kept up. We should have better by now.

APFS in detail

Monday 20th of June 2016 01:05:29 PM
Apple announced a new file system that will make its way into all of its OS variants (macOS, tvOS, iOS, watchOS) in the coming years. Media coverage to this point has been mostly breathless elongations of Apple’s developer documentation. With a dearth of detail I decided to attend the presentation and Q&A with the APFS team at WWDC. Dominic Giampaolo and Eric Tamura, two members of the APFS team, gave an overview to a packed room; along with other members of the team, they patiently answered questions later in the day. With those data points and some first hand usage I wanted to provide an overview and analysis both as a user of Apple-ecosystem products and as a long-time operating system and file system developer. An incredibly detailed look at Apple's new filesystem, APFS.

Xerox Alto: restoring the legendary 1970s GUI computer

Sunday 19th of June 2016 10:13:42 PM
Alan Kay recently loaned his 1970's Xerox Alto to Y Combinator and I'm helping with the restoration of this legendary system. The Alto was the first computer designed around a graphical user interface and introduced Ethernet and the laser printer to the world. The Alto also was one of the first object-oriented systems, supporting the Mesa and Smalltalk languages. The Alto was truly revolutionary when it came out in 1973, designed by computer pioneer Chuck Thacker. This is just great. All-around great. No possible way to snark, be cynical, blame it on Android updates or iOS walled gardens - just plain old great. Be sure to watch the introductory video, and definitely don't forget part one of the restoration, with more sure to follow. Goosebumps the entire time. I would give a lot to be in that room.

What is differential privacy?

Sunday 19th of June 2016 10:10:06 PM
To make a long story short, it sounds like Apple is going to be collecting a lot more data from your phone. They're mainly doing this to make their services better, not to collect individual users' usage habits. To guarantee this, Apple intends to apply sophisticated statistical techniques to ensure that this aggregate data - the statistical functions it computes over all your information - don't leak your individual contributions. In principle this sounds pretty good. But of course, the devil is always in the details. While we don't have those details, this seems like a good time to at least talk a bit about what Differential Privacy is, how it can be achieved, and what it could mean for Apple - and for your iPhone.

"Android's 10ms problem solved"

Thursday 16th of June 2016 09:40:19 PM
Our testing, technical analyses and audio latency measurement database of more than 4,238 different Android models/builds shows that Google has been making great progress in order to solve the Android round-trip audio latency problem, however progress seems to be slowing as the current media server internals are not likely to be hacked much further unless fundamental changes should happen. To date, we have seen no improvements with Android N with regards to audio latency. We receive emails from all around the world, almost on a daily basis, where developers beg us for a solution to Android Audio's 10 ms Problem. Which is why we're proud to announce a solution to Android Audio 10ms Problem, which you can install and demo today. Few regular users will ever care, but for those users that do need low audio latency for music/audio creation applications, this is a godsend.

ARM announces Mali Egil video processor

Thursday 16th of June 2016 09:34:43 PM
Earlier this month we took a look at ARM’s new Mali-G71 GPU. Based on the company's equally new Bifrost architecture, Mali-G71 marks a significant architectural change for the Mali family, incorporating a modern thread level parallelism (TLP) centric execution design. The Mali GPU is in turn the heart of ARM’s graphics product stack - what ARM calls their Mali Multimedia Suite - but in practice it is not a complete graphics and display solution on its own. As part of their IP development process and to allow SoC integrators to mix and match different blocks, the Mali GPU is only the compute/rendering portion of the graphics stack; the display controller and video encode/decode processor are separate. Splitting up these blocks in this fashion gives ARM's customers some additional flexibility, allowing something like Mali-G71 to be mixed with other existing controllers (be it ARM or otherwise), but at the same time these parts aren't wholly divorced within ARM. Even though they’re separate products, ARM likes to update all of the parts of their graphics stack in relative lockstep. To that end, with the Mali GPU core update behind them, this week ARM is announcing an updated video processor, codenamed Egil, to replace the current Mali-V550 processor. AnandTech takes a first look at what's coming.

Qt 5.7 released

Thursday 16th of June 2016 09:31:13 PM
I'm very happy to announce that Qt 5.7 is now available. It's been only 3 months since we released Qt 5.6, so one might expect a rather small release with Qt 5.7. But apart from the usual bug fixes and performance improvements, we have managed to add a whole bunch of new things to this release.

ZFS: Apple's new filesystem that wasn't

Wednesday 15th of June 2016 10:02:17 PM
At that same WWDC Apple announced Time Machine, a product that would record file system versions through time for backup and recovery. How were they doing this? We were energized by the idea that there might be another piece of adopted Solaris technology. When we launched Solaris 10, DTrace shared the marquee with ZFS, a new filesystem that was to become the standard against which other filesystems are compared. Key among the many features of ZFS were snapshots that made it simple to capture the state of a filesystem, send the changes around, recover data, etc. Time Machine looked for all the world like a GUI on ZFS (indeed the GUI that we had imagined but knew to be well beyond the capabilities of Sun). Of course Time Machine had nothing to do with ZFS. After the keynote we rushed to an Apple engineer we knew. With shame in his voice he admitted that it was really just a bunch of hard links to directories. For those who don’t know a symlink from a symtab this is the moral equivalent of using newspaper as insulation: it's fine until the completely anticipated calamity destroys everything you hold dear. So there was no ZFS in Mac OS X, at least not yet. Somewhat related: the history of Microsoft's WinFS.

Maru OS exits private beta

Tuesday 14th of June 2016 09:51:27 PM
Maru OS is a platform that lets you run both Google Android and Debian Linux on a smartphone. Use your device as a phone, and it'll act like any other Android phone. Connect an external display, mouse, and keyboard and you've got a full-fledged Debian Linux desktop environment. It's available for the Nexus 5 now.

WatchOS 3 is an admission that Apple's first attempt was wrong

Tuesday 14th of June 2016 09:46:57 PM
Apple's new Watch software, watchOS 3, isn't just new software, it's an admission that Apple had it all wrong when it came to interactions on the first-generation Apple Watch. It's less of a revamp and more of a rescue of the Watch, an attempt to deconstruct the old software and to focus on the stuff that people actually care about. It's rare for Apple to be this forward.

Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn

Tuesday 14th of June 2016 01:30:43 PM
Microsoft Corp. and LinkedIn Corporation on Monday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn's net cash. LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, reporting to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Reid Hoffman, chairman of the board, co-founder and controlling shareholder of LinkedIn, and Weiner both fully support this transaction. The transaction is expected to close this calendar year. This deal is so incredibly boring I can't even be bothered to finish this sen

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Five reasons to switch from Windows to Linux

Linux has been in the ascendancy ever since the open source operating system was released, and has been improved and refined over time so that a typical distribution is now a polished and complete package comprising virtually everything the user needs, whether for a server or personal system. Much of the web runs on Linux, and a great many smartphones, and numerous other systems, from the Raspberry Pi to the most powerful supercomputers. So is it time to switch from Windows to Linux? Here are five reasons why. Read more

today's leftovers

Leftovers: OSS and Sharing

Security Leftovers

  • Chrome vulnerability lets attackers steal movies from streaming services
    A significant security vulnerability in Google technology that is supposed to protect videos streamed via Google Chrome has been discovered by researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC) in collaboration with a security researcher from Telekom Innovation Laboratories in Berlin, Germany.
  • Large botnet of CCTV devices knock the snot out of jewelry website
    Researchers have encountered a denial-of-service botnet that's made up of more than 25,000 Internet-connected closed circuit TV devices. The researchers with Security firm Sucuri came across the malicious network while defending a small brick-and-mortar jewelry shop against a distributed denial-of-service attack. The unnamed site was choking on an assault that delivered almost 35,000 HTTP requests per second, making it unreachable to legitimate users. When Sucuri used a network addressing and routing system known as Anycast to neutralize the attack, the assailants increased the number of HTTP requests to 50,000 per second.
  • Study finds Password Misuse in Hospitals a Steaming Hot Mess
    Hospitals are pretty hygienic places – except when it comes to passwords, it seems. That’s the conclusion of a recent study by researchers at Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania and USC, which found that efforts to circumvent password protections are “endemic” in healthcare environments and mostly go unnoticed by hospital IT staff. The report describes what can only be described as wholesale abandonment of security best practices at hospitals and other clinical environments – with the bad behavior being driven by necessity rather than malice.
  • Why are hackers increasingly targeting the healthcare industry?
    Cyber-attacks in the healthcare environment are on the rise, with recent research suggesting that critical healthcare systems could be vulnerable to attack. In general, the healthcare industry is proving lucrative for cybercriminals because medical data can be used in multiple ways, for example fraud or identify theft. This personal data often contains information regarding a patient’s medical history, which could be used in targeted spear-phishing attacks.
  • Making the internet more secure
  • Beyond Monocultures
  • Dodging Raindrops Escaping the Public Cloud