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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 54 min 28 sec ago

Apple releases WatchKit

Tuesday 18th of November 2014 06:56:05 PM
Developers are now able to start creating apps for the Apple Watch. Apple is today releasing WatchKit, a developer toolkit that allows third parties to create apps for its upcoming smartwatch. "WatchKit provides the incredible iOS developer community with the tools they need to create exciting new experiences right on your wrist," Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller says in a statement. Notably, Apple is revealing that the initial round of Watch apps are required to be an extension of an existing iPhone app. It won't be until sometime later next year that developers will be able to build apps native to the watch. Get building! Don't forget to incorporate that scrollwheel you need to awkwardly pinch.

Nokia unveils N1 Android 5.0 tablet

Tuesday 18th of November 2014 09:59:19 AM
Nokia - the part that remained in Finland after dumping its failing phone money pit at Microsoft - has just unveiled its first new hardware product: an Android tablet. And the N1 is an impressive tablet to say the least. It follows in the Nexus 9's footsteps with a 4:3 aspect ratio display, though with a wee-bit smaller size at 7.9" and a resolution of 2048x1536. Under the hood is an Intel 64-bit Atom Processor Z3580, with 4 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz, a PowerVR G6430 graphics chip, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a 5300 mAh battery. Two stereo speakers sit at the bottom of the tablet, with a Type-C reversible Micro-USB connector in the middle. It runs what looks like stock Android Lollipop (yes! Yes! Yes!), with the only change being that it includes Nokia's own launcher. It's made out of aluminium, has a fully laminated display, and will supposedly cost a mere $249 - which is insanely cheap for a tablet with these kinds of specifications. Nokia should have done this years ago, but it's great to see them do it now.

A power user's guide to Yosemite Server

Tuesday 18th of November 2014 09:53:55 AM
OS X Server's rate of improvement has slowed in recent years, though Apple is hardly ignoring it. It did get a full Yosemite-style visual overhaul, after all, which suggests that Apple cares about it enough to keep developing it in lockstep with the consumer version of OS X. The continuous addition of features and fixes over the course of the Mountain Lion and Mavericks releases of Server suggests that Yosemite Server will continue on in slow and gradual but still active development. If we were going to worry about the state of the Mac server in 2014, our primary concern would actually be hardware. First they came for the Xserve, and I did not speak out, because Apple was clearly not going anywhere in Windows- and Linux-dominated enterprise-level server rooms. Then they came for the Mac Pro Server, and I did not speak out, for the cheese-grater Mac Pros were far too expensive to be practical for the new home-and-small-business focus of latter-day OS X Server. Then they came for the Mac Mini Server, and there was no one left to speak for it. OS X Yosemite Server reviewed in-depth by Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham.

Apple releases iOS 8.1.1, OS X 10.10.1

Monday 17th of November 2014 10:34:15 PM
Two new releases from Apple today: iOS 8.1.1 and OS X 10.10.1 (don't try to pronounce it. You'll hurt yourself). iOS 8.1.1 brings speed improvements for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4s, while OS X 10.10.1 contains a whole bunch of bugfixes, most importantly relating to wifi. You know where to get them.

Arrakis: the operating system is the control plane

Monday 17th of November 2014 08:34:27 PM
Recent device hardware trends enable a new approach to the design of network server operating systems. In a traditional operating system, the kernel mediates access to device hardware by server applications, to enforce process isolation as well as network and disk security.We have designed and implemented a new operating system, Arrakis, that splits the traditional role of the kernel in two. Applications have direct access to virtualized I/O devices, allowing most I/O operations to skip the kernel entirely, while the kernel is re-engineered to provide network and disk protection without kernel mediation of every operation.We describe the hardware and software changes needed to take advantage of this new abstraction, and we illustrate its power by showing improvements of 2-5 in latency and 9 in throughput for a popular persistent NoSQL store relative to a well-tuned Linux implementation. This is a very detailed description of this project in the form of a proper scientific publication, and is part of the Proceedings of the 11th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation, accompanied by a presentation. You may want to grab something to drink.

PC-BSD and TrueOS version 10.1 released

Monday 17th of November 2014 08:31:49 PM
The PC-BSD project, a derivative of the FreeBSD operating system, has launched their 10.1 release. The new version supplies booting from UEFI support, full disk encrpytion, automated install-time ZFS tuning, a new package manager front-end that works on both Desktop and Server editions and a Linux emulation layer that works with CentOS 6.6. The PC-BSD project is available in several flavours, including a full Desktop edition, a CD-sized Server edition (called TrueOS) and there are a number of ready-made virtual machine images. The PC-BSD operating system ships with several friendly front-ends for dealing with FreeBSD technologies, such as ZFS snapshots, backups, boot environments, package management and configuring the X display server.

Home Network Insecurity

Monday 17th of November 2014 08:28:50 PM
Is your home wireless network secure? On a drive about town, I noticed that about one fifth of home routers are completely open and perhaps half are under-secured. Used to be, this was because home users didn't know how to configure their routers. But now, Comcast is turning home networks into public hotspots unless customers -- few of whom even know about this -- specifically opt out. This article discusses the problems with this. U.S. courts may hold you responsible if someone uses your wireless network -- without your knowledge or permission -- to illegally download music, movies, or software. People have even been raided by SWAT teams and convicted for downloading child pornography. Is Comcast's project a bold move towards free wi-fi everywhere? Or is it a security outrage? Meanwhile, here's a simple tutorial on how to secure your home wireless network.

Skype for web beta unveiled

Friday 14th of November 2014 11:15:25 PM
Skype has been breaking down barriers to communication for more than a decade by being at the forefront of real-time voice and video. In this time we've made Skype available on computers, mobile phones, TVs and even games consoles. Expanding to different platforms has helped us grow to over 2 billion daily minutes (that's over 33 million hours) of voice and video calls. Today, we've got some exciting news. We're starting to roll-out a brand new way of using Skype. Now, not only can Skype be used on just about any screen you lay your hands on, but you can also enjoy Skype on a browser. Welcome, Skype for Web (Beta). First thought? Great for Chromebooks.

FreeBSD 10.1 released

Friday 14th of November 2014 10:00:11 PM
The latest version of FreeBSD has been released. The new version, 10.1, is a incremental update to the 10.x series and mostly focuses on minor updates, bug fixes and performance improvements. A few of the more interesting new features listed in the release announcement include support for booting from UEFI, the ability to utilitize SMP on multicore ARM processors, ZFS performance enhancements and the ability to automatically generate host keys for OpenSSH if keys have not already been created. The new version of FreeBSD is an extended support release and will receive security updates through to the end of December 2016. Further details on the FreeBSD 10.1 release, along with instructions for upgrading from previous releases, are available in the project's release notes. Installation images can be downloaded from the project's mirrors.

Linux Mint to provide MATE with Compiz

Friday 14th of November 2014 09:59:46 PM
Since the MATE desktop forked away from the abanndoned GNOME 2 project many users have reported problems getting the Compiz compositing manager to work properly with the MATE desktop environment. The Linux Mint distribution plans to fix this issue in their upcoming 17.1 release. The MATE edition [of Linux Mint 17.1] sports out of the box support for the Compiz window-manager (which comes pre-installed, pre-configured and which you can switch to with a click of a button). There are also plans to bring the latest version of the Cinnamon desktop to Linux Mint's Debian Edition. The next release of Mint's Debian Edition will be based on Debian's upcoming stable release, code name "Jessie". Details on developments happening across all editions of Linux Mint can be found in the project's latest blog post.

Jolla teases new device

Friday 14th of November 2014 05:52:39 PM
Jolla, the company behind Sailfish and the, uh, Jolla, today unveiled a teaser of an upcoming device - at least, that's what it looks like. The tagline is 'Something BIG is about to begin', indicating we're either looking at a tablet or a much larger phone. The countdown counts down to 19 November, so we don't have to wait long to find out what it's all about. Meanwhile, my own Jolla collects dust in a drawer as it's simply not a very useful device without any proper 3rd party development activity going on. A few days ago, development on one of the few, proper Sailfish applications was halted, which really isn't helping. I'm always interested in new hardware, but sadly, it will solve none of the deeper, harder problems that Sailfish faces.

FreeNAS tries on a new interface

Thursday 13th of November 2014 11:07:58 PM
The FreeNAS project, a network attached storage solution based on FreeBSD, is getting a new interface and some handy new features. The latest FreeNAS beta features a streamlined interface where tasks have been reorganized to make common functions easier to find. A key feature of the FreeNAS 9.3 BETA release is its revamped user interface. It has been redesigned to place only the most common configuration options first in ‘Standard’ menus, moving the more esoteric options to ‘Advanced’ options, and this design pattern as has been used throughout the UI so everything is essentially more streamlined and less cluttered for novice users who essentially just want to use the defaults. The system update utility has also gained improvements and it will be possible to roll back faulty upgrades. This will make is easier to recover from problems caused by package upgrades.

Microsoft's Android, iOS focus leaves Windows users in the cold

Thursday 13th of November 2014 12:47:14 PM
Microsoft is sending a clear message that it wants to reach consumers on popular mobile platforms. That's an understandable move, but with a lack of a true Windows Phone flagship this holiday and hints that unique features like Cortana will make their way to Android and iOS, it leaves Windows Phone in an odd spot. If all of Microsoft's core apps and services work better on Android and iOS, it makes Windows Phone a lot less appealing. If Microsoft can’t even make good apps for Windows, there's not a lot of hope left for third-party app developers to build for Microsoft's mobile platform. Couple that with the Windows tablet and phone app gap, and the future looks increasingly bleak. Appealing to Android and iOS users might be Microsoft's goal, but there's only so long Windows users will remain loyal. While Microsoft has shifted focus back on traditional desktop Windows, Windows' Metro environment and Windows Phone seem to be on a path towards irrelevance. Microsoft's own applications for these platforms suck, third party applications generally suck or do not exist at all, while Microsoft's applications on iOS and Android are thriving and well-received. It's easy to read too much into this - but it's also very hard not to.

AnandTech's Nexus 6 review

Thursday 13th of November 2014 09:12:38 AM
Update: Ars Technica's comprehensive Lollipop review is a great companion to the Nexus 6 review. Nexus 6 reviews are hitting the web all over the place, but as a general rule of thumb, the only one that matters comes from AnandTech. They conclude: Overall, I think that Google and Motorola have built a solid device. It isn't without its issues, but there's a lot to like, even if you're someone who has never used a phablet before. I had always been somewhat of a skeptic regarding massive phones; I didn't understand the appeal. But after using one, I can see how having a massive display to view all your content can be really beneficial by enabling forms of productivity that simply can't be done comfortably on smaller devices, and by making activities like viewing photos and watching videos significantly more engrossing. Not only did it change my mind about the appeal of phablets, it also changed my mind about Google's ability to compete in the premium device segment of the market. The Nexus 6 holds its own against all the other high end devices that we've seen released this year, although the Galaxy Note 4 with its more phablet oriented software features and hardware advantages might be a better device overall. But those who want a large device and value having software support directly from Google won't be disappointed by the Nexus 6. It's too big for my tastes - I prefer the 4.5"-5.0" mark - but even so, it's a little sad Google didn't try to make better use of the large display through software tricks. I had hoped that such a large Nexus phone, paired with the new Nexus 9, would finally urge Google to add proper multiwindow to Android (just copy Windows 8's Metro multiwindow. Microsoft got it right), but alas, they did not.

OpenBSD gets USB 3.0 support

Wednesday 12th of November 2014 11:58:10 PM
The OpenBSD operating system, famous for its proactive approach to security, has gained support for USB 3.0 devices. A brief announcement was made on November 10th, letting OpenBSD users know USB 3.0 support had arrived. The post said legacy USB 1.x devices would continue to work on USB 3.0 ports. For those of you who'd been looking forward to using those blue USB ports of yours, now's the time to plug in as many 3.0 devices as you can find! Of course, just about the time we publish this story, USB1.x devices are now supported on a USB 3.x controller.

Google releases Android 5.0 Lollipop for Nexus devices

Wednesday 12th of November 2014 11:56:16 PM
Rejoice! Google has started pushing the over-the-air updates to Android 5.0 Lollipop out to Nexus devices, so over the coming days you can expect an update notification on your phone or tablet. In case you don't want to wait, you can grab the system images straight from Google and update manually. I just updated my Nexus 5 to Lollipop manually, and everything went okay. It's smooth, and the new Material Design is a breath of fresh air. Not much to report after an hour, of course, but it does feel like an entirely new phone.

Mageia's next release delayed by RPM

Wednesday 12th of November 2014 10:44:00 PM
Members of the Mageia Linux community have been waiting for a few weeks now for a beta release of Mageia 5. Several delays have held back the Mageia 5 beta and the project's developers have posted an update explaining why. It seems the problems started when Mageia updated its copy of the RPM package manager. The new RPM version introduced changes that were significant enough to break a lot of core packages during the mass rebuild, and lots of packages failed to build in a chain reaction. Problems continued when another software update, this time the GNU C library, caused the distribution's system installer to stop functioning properly. You may know that a Linux distribution release is basically an installer together with a set of packages. The latter were now starting to behave properly, but we were then faced with some issues in the installer regarding glibc (the GNU C library) and RPM. This delayed the beta for another week or so. All show stopping bugs have been fixed and Mageiia has finally pushed out their beta release for people to test. The upcoming launch of Mageia 5 is expected to take place at the end of January.

Microsoft is open sourcing .NET framework

Wednesday 12th of November 2014 05:03:53 PM
Microsoft has just announced they open sourced .NET," including ASP.NET, the .NET compiler, the .NET Core Runtime, Framework and Libraries, enabling developers to build with .NET across Windows, Mac or Linux." They're including a patent promise. Miguel de Icaza reports that the Mono project will be "replacing chunks of Mono code that was either incomplete, buggy, or not as fully featured as it should be with Microsoft's code," and he also notes that "Microsoft has stated that they do not currently plan on taking patches back or engaging into a full open source community style development of this code base, as the requirements for backwards compatibility on Windows are very high." Nevertheless, this is a very interesting development that demonstrates that Microsoft is serious about remaining relevant.

Microsoft ends unlocking of Windows Phone 7.x December 31

Tuesday 11th of November 2014 11:43:54 PM
Microsoft is sending out emails to Windows Phone app developers informing them that they will no longer be able to unlock any Windows Phone 7.x devices, like the Lumia 900, for app testing after December 31. Microsoft recommends that app developers who want to unlock those phones do so before the deadline so they can continued to be used for app testing for another 24 months. I'm guessing very few people are on Windows Phone 7.x at this point, so this kind of makes sense. The move to WP8 is nearing full completion.

*iOS 8 Jailbreak Report*

Tuesday 11th of November 2014 05:39:00 PM
Over the weekend, Pangu released their iOS jailbreak for the Mac, which is the capstone on a weeks-long journey of incremental releases that brought the wonders of non-Apple-approved software to iDevice users bit by bit according to their level of tinkering devotion. Last week, after an aborted attempt, I managed to jailbreak my iPhone 5S, and though I'm still dealing with some of my favorite tweaks not having been updated to work with the new OS, I'm pretty happy with the update, and I can recommend it for most users. Read more, for the rest. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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