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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 54 min 23 sec ago

'Sony to release upgraded PS4 with faster GPU, processor, RAM'

Tuesday 19th of April 2016 08:01:35 PM
Earlier this year, rumors began to fly that Sony would release an upgraded version of the PlayStation 4, a console often called the PS4.5 or the PS4K by fans and press. Today, multiple sources have confirmed for us details of the project, which is internally referred to as the NEO. No price was provided, but previous reports indicate that the NEO would sell at $399. At time of publishing, Sony has not returned our request for comment, but we will update this story if the company responds. The NEO will feature a higher clock speed than the original PS4, an improved GPU, and higher bandwidth on the memory. The documents we've received note that the HDD in the NEO is the same as that in the original PlayStation 4, but it's not clear if that means in terms of capacity or connection speed. Starting in October, every PS4 game is required to ship with both a "Base Mode" which will run on the currently available PS4 and a "NEO Mode" for use on the new console. I'm not sure what to think of this. It just feels like this wouldn't go down well with consumers who just bought a regular PS4, and developers would have to actually worry about all of this, do additional testing, possibly extra coding, and so on. It feels needlessly convoluted, especially since the PS4 isn't that old to begin with. Meanwhile, Microsoft claims it isn't interested in doing this, but you can bet your vanilla red pinky that Microsoft would follow suit in a heartbeat if this turns out to be a success.

The untold story of Magic Leap

Tuesday 19th of April 2016 07:45:50 PM
There is something special happening in a generic office park in an uninspiring suburb near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Inside, amid the low gray cubicles, clustered desks, and empty swivel chairs, an impossible 8-inch robot drone from an alien planet hovers chest-high in front of a row of potted plants. It is steampunk-cute, minutely detailed. I can walk around it and examine it from any angle. I can squat to look at its ornate underside. Bending closer, I bring my face to within inches of it to inspect its tiny pipes and protruding armatures. I can see polishing swirls where the metallic surface was “milled.” When I raise a hand, it approaches and extends a glowing appendage to touch my fingertip. I reach out and move it around. I step back across the room to view it from afar. All the while it hums and slowly rotates above a desk. It looks as real as the lamps and computer monitors around it. It’s not. I’m seeing all this through a synthetic-reality headset. Intellectually, I know this drone is an elaborate simulation, but as far as my eyes are concerned it’s really there, in that ordinary office. It is a virtual object, but there is no evidence of pixels or digital artifacts in its three-dimensional fullness. If I reposition my head just so, I can get the virtual drone to line up in front of a bright office lamp and perceive that it is faintly transparent, but that hint does not impede the strong sense of it being present. This, of course, is one of the great promises of artificial reality - either you get teleported to magical places or magical things get teleported to you. And in this prototype headset, created by the much speculated about, ultrasecretive company called Magic Leap, this alien drone certainly does seem to be transported to this office in Florida - and its reality is stronger than I thought possible. The video is very cool, but the rig they're using makes it very clear this is still very early days. That being said - it looks amazing.

The story behind NetHack's long-awaited update, first since 2003

Monday 18th of April 2016 10:38:01 PM
The recent update to NetHack has been eagerly awaited by fans of that game for the last thirteen years. This shadowy group behind the update, known by fans simply as DevTeam, can be very tight-lipped about what they're up to. The community has generally viewed them with a sort of worshipful awe as they have slowly added new depth and sophistication to the game with each iteration. (A popular catchphrase is TDTTOE, or "The DevTeam Thinks of Everything.") The release of the update seemed like a great time to talk to the developers of this beloved title, about the past and future of the game, and the devotion of the fan community that makes its ongoing development possible. I've only ever played NetHack a few times, but I'm definitely aware of its status. Fascinating to see it has such a peculiar development.

Apple's Penchant for Consumer Security

Monday 18th of April 2016 10:36:07 PM
To emphasize this point, Apple shared a great statistic: their average users unlocks their phones 80 times a day. Other reports state people look at their phones upwards of 130 times a day but those are less of the average and more the heavier users. Regardless, the simple act of logging into our phone via a secure form of login like passcodes or fingerprints is now taken for granted in much of Apple's ecosystem when, just a few years ago, anyone could have stolen my phone and have access to my personal information. Here again, Apple shared that 89% of their users with a Touch ID-capable device have set it up and use it. While using a fingerprint reader or scanner for security purposes obviously wasn't invented by Apple, this is yet another one of those cases where Apple took an existing idea, made it incredibly user-friendly, improved the hardware a ton, and now it's the standard on every phone.

Ars HTC 10 review: "HTC builds the best Android flagship of 2016"

Friday 15th of April 2016 10:23:01 PM
The HTC 10 takes the HTC design formula and distills it down to its purest form. There's nothing but excellent smartphone here - no silly gimmicks or odd design decisions. Even the software was treated rather well, with any curiosities relegated to optional parts of the OS that can be turned off or replaced. HTC really seems to have taken the feedback from the One M9 to heart. The design is much more compact, with less bezel dead space dedicated to speakers and an HTC logo. The SoC is improved by dumping one of the first and hottest Snapdragon 810 implementations for the cooler, faster 820. The ugly side ridge design of the M9 is gone. The camera is a lot better, too, particularly when it comes to low light. I have a soft spot for HTC, but with Nexus phones being the Android enthusiasts' phones, and with Samsung taking everything else, it's going to be hard for them to sit somewhere in the middle. People who buy Samsung aren't going to suddenly buy an HTC, and toned-down Sense or no, this is still not Android-proper, so updates will be a mess (it's already running outdated software), so enthusiasts won't really be enticed either. I'm not really sure where HTC's smartphone business is going.

Why the iPhone sometimes feels stuck in the past

Friday 15th of April 2016 10:18:24 PM
Recently, I decided buy an iPhone 6S and turn on iMessage.1 iPhones are great! But in the process of setting it up, I ran into some hassles that reminded me that for all the advancements that Apple has made with iOS over the years, it still can feel like it's stuck in an old era of phones that were controlled by corporate politics. The iPhone is a computer, but sometimes it acts too much like a RAZR. Anything even remotely related to managing files is a complete disaster on iOS, and it's one of the main things Apple will need to address going forward, now that iOS is their future.

The Minecraft generation

Friday 15th of April 2016 09:27:21 PM
When I visited Jordan at his home in New Jersey, he sat in his family's living room at dusk, lit by a glowing iMac screen, and mused on Minecraft's appeal. "It's like the earth, the world, and you’re the creator of it," he said. On-screen, he steered us over to the entrance to the maze, and I peered in at the contraptions chugging away. "My art teacher always says, 'No games are creative, except for the people who create them.' But she said, 'The only exception that I have for that is Minecraft.'" He floated over to the maze's exit, where he had posted a sign for the survivors: The journey matters more than what you get in the end. Minecraft is the digital age's Lego.

Windows Kernel-mode drivers written in Rust

Wednesday 13th of April 2016 11:16:46 PM
This library is just a proof-of-concept of the windows kernel-mode drivers, which can be written in Rust programming language. It contains the types, constants and bindings for the Windows Driver Kit with target OS starting from Windows XP (x86/x64). Neat proof-of-concept.

Network namespaces in the Linux kernel

Wednesday 13th of April 2016 11:09:54 PM
Namespaces and cgroups are two of the main kernel technologies most of the new trend on software containerization (think Docker) rides on. To put it simple, cgroups are a metering and limiting mechanism, they control how much of a system resource (CPU, memory) you can use. On the other hand, namespaces limit what you can see. Thanks to namespaces processes have their own view of the system's resources. The Linux kernel provides 6 types of namespaces: pid, net, mnt, uts, ipc and user. For instance, a process inside a pid namespace only sees processes in the same namespace. Thanks to the mnt namespace, it's possible to attach a process to its own filesystem (like chroot). In this article I focus only in network namespaces. If you have grasped the concept of namespaces you may have at this point an intuitive idea of what a network namespace might offer. Network namespaces provide a brand-new network stack for all the processes within the namespace. That includes network interfaces, routing tables and iptables rules.

VMS Software releases OpenVMS 8.4-2

Wednesday 13th of April 2016 09:36:31 AM
As Mark Twain famously wrote, "...the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated". So with OpenVMS. VMS Software, Inc. (VSI) today announced the worldwide availability of VSI OpenVMS Version 8.4-2 (Maynard Release) operating system for HPE Integrity servers. The Maynard Release is the second by VSI. The new OS is compatible with HPE Integrity servers running the latest Intel Itanium 9500 series processor, as well as most prior generations of the Itanium processor family. VSI also reconfirmed plans to offer OpenVMS on x86-based servers. "This second release reaffirms our long-term commitment to the OpenVMS platform, and builds upon our highly successful first release of OpenVMS in June of 2015," said Duane P. Harris, CEO of VMS Software. "It is the first of many exciting improvements planned for OpenVMS, including future updates to the file system, TCP/IP, and other major improvements that we look forward to sharing with our customers as we work our way through the planned roadmap."

L4: lessons from 20 years of research and deployments

Monday 11th of April 2016 05:30:55 PM
NICTA, Australia's Information and Communications Technology Research Centre, has published a paper on the lessons learned by 20 years of work around the L4 microkernel. Some of you may remember that NICTA has developped the seL4 microkernel, one of the first - if not the first - microkernel formally verified, an important stepstone in securing computing systems against whole classes of bugs and attacks. The L4 microkernel has undergone 20 years of use and evolution. It has an active user and developer community, and there are commercial versions that are deployed on a large scale and in safety-critical systems. In this article we examine the lessons learnt in those 20 years about microkernel design and implementation. We revisit the L4 design papers, and examine the evolution of design and implementation from the original L4 to the latest generation of L4 kernels. We specifically look at seL4, which has pushed the L4 model furthest and was the first OS kernel to undergo a complete formal verification of its implementation as well as a sound analysis of worst-case execution times. We demonstrate that while much has changed, the fundamental principles of minimality, generality and high inter-process communication (IPC) performance remain the main drivers of design and implementation decisions.

How the Amiga powered your cable system in the '90s

Monday 11th of April 2016 05:29:30 PM
In terms of planning our lives around what our TVs spit out, we've come a long way from the overly condensed pages of TV Guide. In fact, the magazine was already looking awful obsolete in the 1980s and 1990s, when cable systems around the country began dedicating entire channels to listing TV schedules. The set-top box, the power-sucking block that serves as the liaison between you and your cable company, is a common sight in homes around the country these days. But before all that was the Commodore Amiga, a device that played a quiet but important role in the cable television revolution. Absolutely fascinating - I don't think we had anything even remotely like this in The Netherlands.

Android Studio 2.0 released

Monday 11th of April 2016 05:27:17 PM
Android Studio 2.0 is the fastest way to build high quality, performant apps for the Android platform, including phones and tablets, Android Auto, Android Wear, and Android TV. As the official IDE from Google, Android Studio includes everything you need to build an app, including a code editor, code analysis tools, emulators and more. This new and stable version of Android Studio has fast build speeds and a fast emulator with support for the latest Android version and Google Play Services.

'RISC-V offers simple, modular ISA'

Friday 8th of April 2016 01:11:48 AM
RISC-V is a new general-purpose instruction-set architecture (ISA) that's BSD licensed, extensible, and royalty free. It's clean and modular with a 32-, 64-, or 128-bit integer base and various optional extensions (e.g., floating point). RISC-V is easier to implement than some alternatives - minimal RISC-V cores are roughly half the size of equivalent ARM cores - and the ISA has already gathered some support from the semiconductor industry.

The time that Tony Fadell sold me a container of hummus

Thursday 7th of April 2016 10:19:24 PM
On May 15th, my house will stop working. My landscape lighting will stop turning on and off, my security lights will stop reacting to motion, and my home made vacation burglar deterrent will stop working. This is a conscious intentional decision by Google/Nest. To be clear, they are not simply ceasing to support the product, rather they are advising customers that on May 15th a container of hummus will actually be infinitely more useful than the Revolv hub. Google is intentionally bricking hardware that I own. This should be absolutely illegal. I'm pretty sure Google has some EULA bullshit that "allows" them to do it, but EULAs are legal wet sand, and honestly, I just don't care. The fact Google can just get away with this shows you just how utterly warped and inherently - I'm using that word again, it's been a while - evil they really are. These companies literally do not care about you. The sooner you accept that, the less attached and to and blinded by these companies you'll be.

Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14316 released, includes Bash

Thursday 7th of April 2016 10:08:58 PM
In this build, you can natively run Bash in Windows as announced last week at Build 2016. To do this, you first need to turn on Developer Mode via Settings > Update & security > For developers. Then search for "Windows Features" and choose "Turn Windows features on or off” and enable Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta). To get Bash installed, open Command Prompt and type "bash". I'm really curious to find out what fans of Bash and Linux command line tools think of this after actually using it.

The mysterious sales numbers of Commodore computers

Thursday 7th of April 2016 10:05:15 PM
And yet, from our collective memories, we all believe there was some sort of Commodore product in nearly half of US households that owned a home computer, not to mention sales worldwide. The "other people" had various Atari computers or green monochrome Apple II or II+, Tandy or, ultimately DOS Frankensteins. We'll be nice and not mention the sad Coleco Adam, since most everyone has forgotten this lonely child. But are our memories real? Was what we saw around us true, or were we living in a bubble? I played games on a C64 when I was very young, but I don't think I've ever seen a real Amiga (aside from this stuff).

Vivaldi browser officially launched

Thursday 7th of April 2016 09:59:19 PM
We are all absolutely unique and we want different things. Vivaldi web browser lets you do things your way by adapting to you and not the other way around. You prefer the browser tabs placed at the bottom or on the side of the window? - You prefer a different address bar location? Go ahead and customize your preferences be it your keyboard shortcuts, mouse gestures, appearance and so on. It's supposed to scratch that Opera itch, but I know just how demanding Opera users are. I am really curious to see if Vivaldi will ever be able to walk in those footsteps.

Users will soon be able to remove Apple's stock iOS apps

Wednesday 6th of April 2016 10:13:06 PM
Apple has added two new keys labeled "isFirstParty" and "isFirstPartyHideableApp" in iTunes metadata. These two new values started showing up a few weeks ago on every app in the App Store. The iTunes metadata is where all the information about an app is stored. It shows things like the date it was released, the App Store category it's in, its size, etc. The new keys suggest the ability to remove apps such as Stocks, Compass, and Voice Messages is coming very soon. Hiding is not removing, but at least this will solve part of the fast-growing unremovable crapware problem on iOS.

*Interview with Ray Tomlinson on Creeper/Reaper*

Wednesday 6th of April 2016 05:00:47 PM
It's been several weeks since Ray Tomlinson, best known for the invention of email, passed on. Email, however, represents only a very small portion of his work and contributions. While writing a research paper on possible new methods to reduce and eradicate malware, I came across a bit of intriguing history whose available details did not satisfy my curiosity, and I needed to know more than what the internet had to offer. The event in question was the creation of Creeper, a piece of software created in 1971 by Bob Thomas that, according to most sources, is the world's first computer virus. There hasn't been a lot of information available on the internet regarding Creeper except that it was created to "infect" computers running the TENEX operating system on ARPAnet. It would cause the machine to print "I'M THE CREEPER. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN." Then Ray Tomlinson created Reaper whose sole purpose was to seek out and remove Creeper from the machines it had "infected". I wanted to know more, though. Why was Creeper created in the first place? Did it cause problems? Was it an annoyance to those managing the machines it affected? Should it really be considered the first virus (technically worm, if that)? In late 2014 I ended up finding Ray Tomlinson on LinkedIn of all places and asked him if I could ask a few questions about Creeper and Reaper. He very kindly obliged. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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