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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 hour 39 min ago

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: lots of small changes

9 hours 52 min ago
Overall, the Fall Creators Update is a nice set of improvements to Windows. Windows 10 continues to get better with each update. Its grab-bag nature continues to underscore just how Windows development has changed. As the Fluent work makes clear, Windows today is in some sense never finished. That's not something to be scared of; any piece of actively maintained, supported, updated software is in a sense "not finished." With the new approach to developing and delivering Windows, that "unfinished" nature is more overt than it used to be. I'm sure some of the semi-annual Windows updates will feel larger in scope than others, depending on how the development work is going; others will feel a bit smaller. Because so much of the ground work was laid in the Creators Update, albeit hidden from view, this feels like a smaller update. It's a list of relatively small and disjointed features, but I still really like this update. Especially the Fluent Design changes to applications are very welcome, and make Metro applications feel less... Dead? Less cold? They have more warmth now, which is definitely something missing from pre-Fluent Metro and current iOS UI design (not so much from Material Design, which is rife with colour and depth). The very, very subtle blur effect, the 'highlight' when hovering over buttons and menus, and the odd animation here and there really address the concerns of people who feel Metro takes the "flat" design trend too far to the extreme. As a sidenote, "flat" really is a terrible term, since none of these UI design styles are really flat. Fluent, Material Design, and whatever iOS has are actually anything but flat, and have far more Z-depth than anything that came before - but I digress. The emoji picker is really nice, but it baffles me why it's emoji-only; as someone with a deep, deep hatred for special character input on Windows, it baffles me that it doesn't include special characters. The new GPU panel in Task Manager is also very nice, and it feels like Edge is less flakey, too. All in all, a nice free update.

The new MacBook keyboard is ruining my life

9 hours 54 min ago
I was in the Grand Central Station Apple Store for a third time in a year, watching a progress bar slowly creep across my computer's black screen as my Genius multi-tasked helping another customer with her iPad. My computer was getting its third diagnostic test in 45 minutes. The problem was not that its logic board was failing, that its battery was dying, or that its camera didn't respond. There were no mysteriously faulty innerworkings. It was the spacebar. It was broken. And not even physically broken - it still moved and acted normally. But every time I pressed it once, it spaced twice. "Maybe it's a piece of dust," the Genius had offered. The previous times I'd been to the Apple Store for the same computer with the same problem - a misbehaving keyboard - Geniuses had said to me these exact same nonchalant words, and I had been stunned into silence, the first time because it seemed so improbable to blame such a core problem on such a small thing, and the second time because I couldn't believe the first time I was hearing this line that it was not a fluke. But this time, the third time, I was ready. "Hold on," I said. "If a single piece of dust lays the whole computer out, don't you think that's kind of a problem?" The keyboard on the MacBooks and MacBook Pros is an unmitigated disaster. In pursuit of thinness nobody else is looking for, Apple severely crippled its most important Mac product line - and that's even without taking the Touchbar into account.

DragonFlyBSD 5.0 released

Monday 16th of October 2017 09:14:39 PM
DragonFlyBSD 5.0 is the first release with preliminary boot support for HAMMER2, the project's new filesystem. Preliminary HAMMER2 support has been released into the wild as-of the 5.0 release. This support is considered EXPERIMENTAL and should generally not yet be used for production machines and important data. The boot loader will support both UFS and HAMMER2 /boot. The installer will still use a UFS /boot even for a HAMMER2 installation because the /boot partition is typically very small and HAMMER2, like HAMMER1, does not instantly free space when files are deleted or replaced.

Microsoft shows off its Fluent Design changes to Windows 10

Monday 16th of October 2017 10:47:04 AM
All of the new design changes to Windows 10 are demonstrated in a new video from Microsoft. It’s a good showcase of how subtle the changes are, but it doesn’t tease much for the future. Microsoft’s Fluent Design System is designed to be the true successor to Microsoft's Metro design, and will appear across apps and services on Windows, iOS, and Android. Microsoft is focusing on light, depth, motion, material, and scale for its Fluent Design, with animations that make the design feel like it's moving during interactions in Windows. Like Metro applications before them, these Fluent applications look really nice, but it's all for naught. Microsoft showed off its redesigned Outlook application for Windows (and macOS), and guess what? It's a Win32 application. If not even Microsoft itself is interested in making Metro/Fluent applications, why should anyone else? Microsoft's approach to Metro/Fluent has been baffling from day one, and it doesn't seem like anything's changing any time soon. They made really great Metro Office applications, but then proceed to hide them from the Windows Store behind the "mobile" tag, and artificially cripple them by not allowing you to open more than one document per Office application. Even when Microsoft does make great Metro/Fluent applications, they artificially cripple them. I have no idea what Microsoft is doing, and I don't blame developers for giving them the finger. They are telling an unreliable, unfocused, unclear, and chaotic developer story, and any developer worth her salt wouldn't touch the Windows Store/Metro/Fluent with a ten-foot pole.

Where is Haiku R1?

Saturday 14th of October 2017 01:24:31 PM
With all the infrastructure changes and improvements, paired with the bug fixes in our master Haiku branch, we are slowly and steadily moving towards the R1 Beta 1 release which will live in its own R1(!) branch. R1 Beta 1 installations should slowly roll towards the final R1 release via package updates. R1 Beta 1 is going to be a big step towards our first stable release. The exact dates are still not solid. I know we have been saying "soon" for quite a while... But soon. ...

ChrysaLisp: an assembler/C-Script/Lisp 64bit OS

Saturday 14th of October 2017 01:09:47 PM
Assembler/C-Script/Lisp 64 bit OS. MIMD, multi CPU, multi threaded, multi core, multi user. Runs on OSX or Linux for x64, PI64 Linux for Aarch64. Will move to bare metal eventually but it's useful for now to run hosted while experimenting. When time allows I will be doing a VM boot image for UniKernel type appliances and a WebAssembly target to play around within the browser. Allows modelling of various network topologies with point to point links. Each CPU in the network is modelled as a separate host process, point to point links use shared memory to simulate CPU to CPU, point to point, bi directional connections. There is no global bus based networking on purpose.

What nobody told me about the Netherlands

Saturday 14th of October 2017 01:08:08 PM
Some years ago, already working in 'active transport', and seeking to deepen my understanding around urban design, I took the opportunity to take a family holiday for a week in the Netherlands. Among many many reactions to the experience, one big one I experienced was simply surprise that nobody had told me about most of the amazing things I'd see. I've been meaning simply to write a list of these amazing things for years now. Unfortunately I'm not all that sure that there is any way to convey the 'amazingness' to those who haven't visited. The Netherlands is one of the most - if not the most - densely populated western countries, which forced urban planners to get creative. Growing up and living in The Netherlands it's easy to take for granted just how good we are at traffic and urban design. That is, until you take a trip abroad to pretty much any other country - even our beloved neighbours like Germany or Belgium - and realise just how terrible everyone else is at properly segmenting and protecting cyclists and pedestrians, even in densely populated and tightly packed cities. Urban design is a fascinating subject, and once you start paying attention to it here in The Netherlands, you'll discover an endless array of affordances to protect cyclists, pedestrians, and cars (yes!), while also creating neighbourhoods that usually have only one entry/exit point for cars so they can't be used for through traffic, all designed with the goal of corralling cars away from where people actually live. I often wonder - will this make The Netherlands a haven for self-driving cars, or a hell?

Microsoft breaches Dutch data protection law with Windows 10

Saturday 14th of October 2017 12:44:26 PM
Microsoft breaches the Dutch data protection law by processing personal data of people that use the Windows 10 operating system on their computers. This is the conclusion of the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) after its investigation of Windows 10 Home and Pro. Microsoft does not clearly inform users about the type of data it uses, and for which purpose. Also, people cannot provide valid consent for the processing of their personal data, because of the approach used by Microsoft. The company does not clearly inform users that it continuously collects personal data about the usage of apps and web surfing behaviour through its web browser Edge, when the default settings are used. Microsoft has indicated that it wants to end all violations. If this is not the case, the Dutch DPA can decide to impose a sanction on Microsoft. Kind of weird how Microsoft is found to be breaking the law, but they don't get punished for it; only if they refuse to stop breaking the law will they be fined. Interesting.

Samsung CEO to resign citing 'unprecedented crisis'

Friday 13th of October 2017 09:38:30 AM
Kwon Oh-hyun, Samsung Electronics' CEO, vice chairman, and the head of its hugely successful components business, has announced his resignation. He will step down from the CEO role, as well as his positions on the board and as CEO of Samsung Display, in March 2018. "It is something I had been thinking long and hard about for quite some time. It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off," Kwon said in a letter sent to employees. "As we are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry." The unnamed "crisis" in Kwon's letter no doubt includes the imprisonment of Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of the entire Samsung group, on corruption charges. While Lee didn't take a hands-on role in Samsung Electronics' regular business, Kwon's resignation is the first sign that the scandal could have a major impact on the company's operations and culture. South Korea are a bunch of amateurs. Everybody knows real freedom-loving countries legalise corruption and rebrand it as Lobbying™ so that companies like Apple, Google, and others can legally bribe politicians and buy political favours without fear of being imprisoned. Get with the program, South Korea.

Sailfish 2.1.2 released

Thursday 12th of October 2017 09:31:06 PM
This update, 2.1.2 alias Kiiminkijoki, fixes dozens of bugs reported by our community and adds many improvements. It makes the new Dropbox service interface available and improves some security features. 2.1.2 also contains the basic support for Sony Xperia X devices for development purposes (available for a limited user group only). This might be the first release I've seen which contains a feature or fix that isn't coming to the original Jolla Phone - namely, the updated Android support. The original Jolla Phone was released in December 2014, so that's not a hugely terrible run.

TwinKick: dual Kickstart boot via floppy for Amiga 1000

Thursday 12th of October 2017 09:19:43 PM
A "new" piece of software, quietly created 15 years ago, that allows Amiga 1000 users to load their Kickstart 1.3 or 3.1 (or "morph" between the two on a soft reset after loading 3.1) off a single disk has been discovered. The software is called TwinKick and is downloadable via Aminet. The linked post includes detailed instructions on how to create this disk. Being able to switch between the two Kickstarts is pretty incredible. Although seeing 3.1 load onto a Amiga 1000 - off a floppy - is pretty mind blowing by itself.

KDE Plasma 5.11 released

Tuesday 10th of October 2017 11:49:28 PM
Today KDE publishes this autumn's Plasma feature release, KDE Plasma 5.11. Plasma 5.11 brings a redesigned settings app, improved notifications, a more powerful task manager. Plasma 5.11 is the first release to contain the new "Vault", a system to allow the user to encrypt and open sets of documents in a secure and user-friendly way, making Plasma an excellent choice for people dealing with private and confidential information. This screenshot of the new Vault feature with a selection in a selection because you like selections is just so KDE - and I mean that in a teasing, loving way.

Disabling the Intel Management Engine

Tuesday 10th of October 2017 11:45:15 PM
The Intel Management Engine ('IME' or 'ME') is an out-of-band co-processor integrated in all post-2006 Intel-CPU-based PCs. It has full network and memory access and runs proprietary, signed, closed-source software at ring -2, independently of the BIOS, main CPU and platform operating system - a fact which many regard as an unacceptable security risk (particularly given that at least one remotely exploitable security hole has already been reported). In this mini-guide, I'll run through the process of disabling the IME on your target PC. Apparently, the IME co-processor runs... MINIX 3. That is incredibly fascinating. This means every post-2006 Intel PC runs MINIX.

Microsoft finally admits Windows Phone is dead

Monday 9th of October 2017 07:44:19 PM
In a series of tweets, Microsoft's Joe Belfiore has revealed that the software giant is no longer developing new features or hardware for Windows 10 Mobile. While Windows Phone fans had hoped Microsoft would update the platform with new features, it's now clear the operating system has been placed into servicing mode, with just bug fixes and security updates for existing users. I was a first adopter of Windows Phone 7 - so much so I imported a device from the US during launch week. It was an amazing operating system to use, and I loved it. Soon, however, it became clear Microsoft was unable to attract developers to the platform, and even those applications that did make it weren't particularly good - not even the ones written by Microsoft itself, which were often simple HTML-based apps, which simply weren't good advocates for the platform. As a Windows Phone user, you were always scraping the very bottom of the barrel when it came to applications. To make matters worse, the move to Windows NT with Windows Phone 8 was a disaster. Existing phones weren't updated, and instead, only got an entirely pointless Windows Phone 7.8 update. This didn't do anything to enamour users to the platform, which makes it all the more weird when Microsoft did it again when Windows Phone 10 was released. In any event, Windows Phone 8 did mature over its short lifetime, gaining many features other platforms had had for ages. Sadly, the application situation never improved, and to this day, the Windows Store is a ghost town. It really sucks that Windows Phone became a victim of blatant mismanagement and market forces, because I still love the operating system and its unique UI. One day, I'll have to sit down and write the counterpart to my Palm retrospective, covering the entire PocketPC/Windows Mobile/Windows Phone era. It's been a wild ride.

Reverse engineering the macOS High Sierra supplemental update

Monday 9th of October 2017 07:26:19 PM
Reported by Matheus Mariano, a Brazilian software developer, a programming error was discovered in Apple’s most recent operating system, High Sierra, that exposed passwords of encrypted volumes as password hints. A serious bug that quickly made the headlines in technology websites everywhere. Apple was prompt to provide macOS High Sierra Supplemental Update to customers via the App Store, and ensured that every distribution of High Sierra in their servers included this update. I decided to apply a binary diffing technique to the update to learn more about the root cause of this bug and hypothesize about how the defect could have been prevented.

On notches, chins, and foreheads

Saturday 7th of October 2017 07:55:15 PM
Joshua Topolsky: The "notch" on the new iPhone X is not just strange, interesting, or even odd - it is bad. It is bad design, and as a result, bad for the user experience. The justification for the notch (the new Face ID tech, which lets you unlock the device just by looking at it) could have easily been accomplished with no visual break in the display. Yet here is this awkward blind spot cradled by two blobs of actual screenspace. [...] Plenty has been written about the mind-numbing, face-palming, irritating stupidity of the notch. And yet, I can't stop thinking about it. I would love to say that this awful design compromise is an anomaly for Apple. But it would be more accurate to describe it as the norm. Apple really, really wants you to "embrace the notch" and consider it a design element. With the home button gone, the iPhone X lost the iconic shape we've come to expect from iPhones, and to set a recognisable shape for the iPhone for the next decade, Apple chose the notch, and decided to embrace it. The goal of the industry is clearly to move to truly fullscreen displays; no notches like the Essential phone or the iPhone X, and no thin chins and foreheads like the Galaxy S8 or the LG V30. With Apple trying to build a visual brand around the notch, we're going to be inundated with article after article explaining how the notch is great design, how it's a good idea, how it actually makes a lot of sense to have the notch because of [insert pseudoscience], how it is the pinnacle of design. And all those articles will look entirely foolish once Android phones start moving to true fullscreen with under-display cameras and sensors in a few years from now, after which Apple will drag its feet, only to eventually move to true fullscreen displays 2-3 years later, at which point the authors of the aforementioned articles will do a complete 180 overnight, as if the notch never happened. Notches and chins and foreheads are necessary imperfections due to technological limitations on the way to fullscreen perfection. Pretending they are not will only make you look foolish five years from now.

Control the operating system, control the future

Thursday 5th of October 2017 10:44:16 PM
My thoughts tend to go to dark places these days. And so when I watched Google on Wednesday trot out one after another of its homegrown computing devices for every task and every nook of our homes, I went straight to dystopia: R.I.P. digital competition. Nothing to add.

Lenovo's 25th anniversary ThinkPad is here

Thursday 5th of October 2017 10:37:52 PM
A couple years ago, Lenovo announced its plans to build a "retro" ThinkPad that would resurrect design elements of ThinkPads past as an homage to the brand's long history. That ThinkPad is now real. Check out the ThinkPad 25, sold to commemorate 25 years of ThinkPads. I'm just going to leave this here for you lovely ThinkPad people. This isn't for me, but I'm not here to ruin your party. Do clean up after yourselves.

Bluetooth won't replace the headphone jack - walled gardens will

Thursday 5th of October 2017 10:33:06 PM
Nilay Patel on the further disappearance of the headphone jack, and its replacement, Bluetooth: To improve Bluetooth, platform vendors like Apple and Google are riffing on top of it, and that means they’re building custom solutions. And building custom solutions means they’re taking the opportunity to prioritize their own products, because that is a fair and rational thing for platform vendors to do. Unfortunately, what is fair and rational for platform vendors isn’t always great for markets, competition, or consumers. And at the end of this road, we will have taken a simple, universal thing that enabled a vibrant market with tons of options for every consumer, and turned it into yet another limited market defined by ecosystem lock-in. This is exactly what's happening, and it is turning something simple and straightforward - get headphones, plug it in literally every single piece of headphones-enabled audio equipment made in the last 100 years, and have it work - into an incompatibility nightmare. And this incompatibility nightmare is growing and getting worse, moving beyond just non-standard Bluetooth; you can't use Apple Music with speakers from Google or Amazon, and Spotify doesn't work on the Apple Watch. Removing the headphone jack was a user-hostile move when Apple did it, and it's still a user-hostile move when Google does it.

A eulogy for Eudora

Thursday 5th of October 2017 10:42:08 AM
Email is such a pain in the butt. We've been doing everything in our power to fight the influence it has on our lives, to minimize the spam, the marketing, the burden. That burden leads lots of folks to fruitlessly hunt for the perfect email client like I hunt for the perfect word processor. Others have followed the path of least resistance: Either Gmail or Outlook. But there was a time when we didn't feel this way, when getting email was actually exciting. The email client Eudora, named for Eudora Welty, was designed to capture this excitement - the idea that mailboxes were no longer tethered to physical space. But even as the die-hards held on, it couldn't. Tonight's Tedium ponders the demise of Eudora, and whether we lost something great. I don't have a lot of experience with Eudora personally, but I know it had quite the enthusiastic and fervent fanbase back then.

More in Tux Machines

Ubuntu 17.10 Launches Tomorrow with GNOME 3.26, but You Can Still Use Unity

Ubuntu contributor Didier Roche shared today the last blog article for the development cycle of the Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, which is expected to launch tomorrow, October 19. Read more Also: Ubuntu 17.10 is back on track with GNOME: Here's why that's a good thing

KDE Applications 17.12 GNU/Linux Software Stack Set to Arrive on December 14

Now that the KDE Applications 17.08 software suite got its second point release, it's time for the KDE developers to concentrate their efforts on the next major update, KDE Applications 17.12. Read more

Ubuntu GNOME Shell in Artful: Day 16

All good things must come to an end, however, in that particular case, it’s rather a beginning! We are indeed almost done in our road to Artful, which means that 17.10 is just around the corner: official Ubuntu 17.10 release is due tomorrow. Of course, it doesn’t mean we stop right away working on it: you will have bug fixes and security updates for 9 months of support! It’s thus time to close this series on Artful, and for this, we are going to tackle one topic we didn’t get to yet, which is quite important approaching the release: upgrading from a previous Ubuntu release! For more background on our current transition to GNOME Shell in artful, you can refer back to our decisions regarding our default session experience as discussed in my blog post. Read more

Trying Out System76's Pop!_OS Ubuntu-Based Operating System

Besides Ubuntu 17.10 "Artful Aardvark" launching tomorrow, System76 is also expected to issue their first official release of the Ubuntu-derived Pop!_OS operating system they plan to begin shipping on their laptops/desktops. Curious about their modifications to Ubuntu 17.10, I decided to give the latest snapshot of it a ride. For those that missed the earlier news this summer, back in June is when System76 announced Pop!_OS as the Linux distribution to be shipped on their future PCs/laptops. System76 had been shipping stock Ubuntu installations on their systems since its founding in 2005, but with Ubuntu shifting from Unity back to GNOME Shell and other changes, System76 found it time to give their own take on a Linux desktop OS. Read more