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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 hour 16 min ago

KDE Slimbook: MacBook Air clone built for KDE

Thursday 26th of January 2017 11:24:54 PM
We were not content with the quality of laptops available on the market. The majority shipped with proprietary and locked-in software solutions, filled with not-uninstallable bloat where the user was left at the mercy of whatever the company selling them a laptop saw fit for them to work with. As creators and makers we knew what it meant to be locked into a set of solutions defined by others. Many alternatives took whatever hardware they could find when they wanted to provide more free options and the end result was often lackluster and as such, lowering the enjoyment in using the computer, our main tool in creating, and shipping with underwhelming specs. We saw a problem, and we solved it: The KDE Slimbook. Basically a MacBook Air-like laptop, preconfigured with KDE Neon, at a relatively reasonable price. This is a very attractive laptop, and I would love to own one. Very nice work.

A history of the Amiga, part 10: the downfall of Commodore

Thursday 26th of January 2017 09:41:46 PM
As the 1990s began, Commodore should have been flying high. The long-awaited new Amiga models with better graphics, the A1200 and A4000, were finally released in 1992. Sales responded by increasing 17 percent over the previous year. The Video Toaster had established a niche in desktop video editing that no other computer platform could match, and the new Toaster 4000 promised to be even better than before. After a rocky start, the Amiga seemed to be hitting its stride. Unfortunately, this success wouldn't last. In 1993, sales fell by 20 percent, and Commodore lost $366 million. In the first quarter of 1994, the company announced a loss of $8.2 million - much better than the previous four quarters, but still not enough to turn a profit. Commodore had run into financial difficulties before, particularly in the mid-'80s, but this time the wounds were too deep. Sales of the venerable Commodore 64 had finally collapsed, and the Amiga wasn't able to fill the gap quickly enough. The company issued a statement warning investors of its problems, and the stock plunged. On April 29, 1994, Commodore International Limited announced that it was starting the initial phase of voluntary liquidation of all of its assets and filing for bankruptcy protection. Commodore, once the savior of the Amiga, had failed to save itself.

Microsoft working on 'Cloud Shell'

Thursday 26th of January 2017 09:01:52 PM
Last week, details emerged of Microsoft's plans to develop a single, unified, 'adaptive shell' for Windows 10. Known as the 'Composable Shell', or CSHELL, the company's efforts were said to be focused on establishing a universal Windows 10 version with a standardized framework to scale and adapt the OS to any type of device, display size or user experience, including smartphones, PCs, tablets, consoles, large touchscreens, and more. Today,

Microsoft details Windows Game Mode

Thursday 26th of January 2017 12:58:14 AM
Last year, we set out to make Windows 10 the best Windows ever for gaming. With Game Mode, it's our goal to now take things a step further to make the gaming experience on Windows even better. Our vision is that Game Mode optimizes your Windows 10 PC for an improvement in overall game performance. This week's Windows Insider build represents the first step on our journey with Game Mode. Basically, it prioritises CPU and GPU resources for your game, so you can eek out a bit more performance. I'm not quite sure if there'll be a benefit for people at the higher end (I don't think my GTX1070 running at 2560x1440 will benefit much), but for slightly lower specifications it might just give that extra little bit for a more consistent experience. All in all, I'm happy with these gaming-oriented features in Windows, but I really hate how Microsoft is slapping 'Xbox' on everything and tries to take me out of my beloved and trusted Steam environment. It reeks of utter garbageware like Uplay.

Wine 2.0 released

Thursday 26th of January 2017 12:47:38 AM
This release represents over a year of development effort and around 6,600 individual changes. The main highlights are the support for Microsoft Office 2013, and the 64-bit support on macOS. It also contains a lot of improvements across the board, as well as support for many new applications and games. See the release notes below for a summary of the major changes. As awesome of a project Wine is, I wonder how many people actually use it on a daily basis. Maybe I'm wildly off base here (honestly, I probably am), but it seems like if you're running Linux, there's really nothing Windows applications offer that Linux can't.

iOS 10.3 beta 1 introduces APFS

Wednesday 25th of January 2017 09:34:35 AM
Apple iOS point release betas usually aren't all that interesting, but the first iOS 10.3 beta contains a big change that, while probably being mostly transparent to the average user, is actually quite interesting. When you update to iOS 10.3, your iOS device will update its file system to Apple File System (APFS). This conversion preserves existing data on your device. However, as with any software update, it is recommended that you create a backup of your device before updating. Apple's developer documentation contains more information about APFS.

Trump administration declares war on science

Tuesday 24th of January 2017 11:32:38 PM
Trump and his murder of Republican Christian extremists have declared war on science. The US Department of Agriculture has banned scientists and other employees in its main research division from publicly sharing everything from the summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets as it starts to adjust to life under the Trump administration, BuzzFeed News has learned. According to an email sent Monday morning and obtained by BuzzFeed News, the department told staff - including some 2,000 scientists - at the agency's main in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), to stop communicating with the public about taxpayer-funded work. And: The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants. Emails sent to EPA staff since President Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed the specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency's social media accounts. Don't tell me I didn't warn you.

Google AMP is not a good thing

Tuesday 24th of January 2017 11:22:08 PM
You might have used Google's new AMP project without even knowing. It's a technology that makes mobile page results load very quickly on Google, it displays the content in a more uniform fashion. But there's a problem. The content loads off of Google's own server, not from the website itself. Everybody is complaining about AMP, and I'm just sitting here wondering if I ever even get to see an AMP page. Are they blocked by things like Ghostery and ad blockers?

Apple Inc.: a pre-mortem

Tuesday 24th of January 2017 07:22:06 PM
Last year marked the fifth year of Tim Cook’s reign, and year 3 of "Tim Cook's Apple". With recent technological shifts, Apple is at a crossroads of sorts; therefore, I believe a pre-mortem is expedient. This is a great article. I, too, wonder if Apple is so stuck on "let's just slap apps on it" that it serves to detriment their efforts. Virtually all their product introductions lately centred around slapping apps on existing, boring hardware and hope for the best. I'm not sure if the linked article's suggestions are the right way to go, but I do know that Apple places more faith in apps than is really warranted. A cold and harsh truth Apple doesn't seem to grasp: nobody cares about apps. Apps are done. People have a small set of apps they use every day, usually the big name apps such as Facebook and Twitter, and really - that's it. Aside from us nerdier people, nobody browses through the App Store or Google Play, filled with anticipation for what they might find. If you really break it down, I'm pretty sure most people use maybe 2-3 apps daily, and any others maybe once per month. That's really not something you want to bank your product strategy on.

Chrome OS tablets with Android apps are coming soon

Tuesday 24th of January 2017 07:15:59 PM
So if you've been wondering where all the Android tablets have gone - here's a guess. They've been held back because it seems like something better is coming: Chrome OS tablets with a real desktop browser and real Android apps. That kind of system probably has a better chance of success competing with the iPad - but let's not set Android's sights quite that high yet. A more reasonable target: undercutting the Surface and all its clones on the low end of the market. At this point I have absolutely no clue anymore what Google wants to do with Chrome OS and Android. And sometimes I think - neither does Google.

Samsung details why Note 7 batteries combusted

Monday 23rd of January 2017 10:18:06 PM
To find the cause of the Galaxy Note7 incidents, Samsung examined every aspect of the Galaxy Note7, including hardware, software and related processes over the past several months. Samsung's investigation, as well as the investigations completed by three independent industry organizations, concluded that the batteries were the cause of the Galaxy Note7 incidents. The causative factors are further explained in the infographic below. The presentation last night was quite informative, and both Samsung and the three independent organisation got time to explain their findings in quite some detail. Sadly, they removed the VOD of the livestream from YouTube, so there's no way to rewatch it (edit: someone uploaded the VOD), but some of the slides can be found at the bottom of the linked article.

Cambridge Z88 portable ROM 4.7 released

Sunday 22nd of January 2017 08:54:39 PM
The Z88 Development Team has released a new version of the system ROM for the Cambridge Z88 portable. It's the result of more than a years work, with many improvements and new features: ISO character set support in filenames and international dates, faster serial I/O, improved RAM applications, better responsiveness. Rock-stable software that enables to run your Z88 for many months with re-booting. The team also outlines its plans for the future: The next step for the coming years is to re-implement the Z88 on low-power FPGA, minimum 10 X faster CPU, 800x600 screen resolution, up to 1Gb of RAM, SD-card filing system, VGA/HDMI output, improved operating system with new Unix-like command line Shell, ELF for Z80 executables + shared libraries, and integrated Zip arching in filing system. Emulators and developer tools will also be freely available.

A really obscure forgotten audio format: "Talking rubber"

Sunday 22nd of January 2017 08:50:08 PM
While common magnetic tape uses very thin, plastic-coated iron oxide, "talking rubber" uses rubber impregnated with iron oxide. Iron oxide (a form of rust) is ferromagnetic, which means in the presence of a magnetic field, the electrons in the iron oxide magnetically line up and stay that way even after the magnetic field is turned off. This allows cassette tapes to create a “track” of magnetically aligned iron oxide when the electromagnet in a cassette recorder creates a magnetic field. But with magnetic rubber, the iron oxide is actually mixed into the rubber material; the whole band becomes ferromagnetic, instead of just the coating. According to that Bell System Journal article, this “talking rubber” could be around 1/16 or 1/8 of an inch think, whereas magnetic tape was (even in the '50s) already much thinner at 1/1000 of an inch thick. More obscure audio formats!

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