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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 hour 40 min ago

Brainfuck: code that was designed to hurt

Tuesday 3rd of January 2017 08:19:04 PM
Software is the umbrella term for computer programs and libraries, the coded logic that makes our machines tick. At the root of all software is the code, the instructions that enable a human to tell a machine what to do. This code is written in one of the hundreds of different programming languages - such as C, Java, or Python - each of which has its own eccentricities and context-dependent advantages. Yet regardless of the programming language being used, the functionality, logic, and efficiency of the language are always paramount - unless, of course, you're talking about

Harvey OS meets RISC-V

Monday 2nd of January 2017 11:53:58 PM
Ending this year, Ron G. Minnich has got Harvey running in RISC-V architecture, booting Harvey on Spike (ISA Simulator) and running rc shell on it. But he never rests and now is working on bringing it to QEMU and to FPGA. It's a big step for Harvey because we fixed some multiarch issues across the source and Ron found some bugs in timer interrupts in the hardware, so we all learned something. What is Harvey OS? Harvey is an effort to provide a modern, distributed, 64 bit operating system. A different environment for researching and finding new lines of work. It can be built with gcc and clang and has an ANSI/POSIX compliant subsystem. Two news items about alternative operating systems in a row? The year's off to a good start.

Announcing AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition, Update 1

Monday 2nd of January 2017 11:49:13 PM
Hyperion Entertainment is proud to announce the immediate release of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 for all supported systems including PowerPC equipped 68K Amiga machines. Building on the existing AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition platform, Update 1 is the culmination of many man-months of work by our dedicated team of AmigaOS developers, translators and beta testers. It delivers a selection of new features and a host of bug fixes. The naming scheme still confuses me.

Linux and Steam running on PS4 firmware 4.0

Monday 2nd of January 2017 11:47:15 PM
Marcan42 of Fail0verflow fame was at the CCC33 event this year, to explain how Fail0verflow exploited the PS4 hardware in order to run Linux on the PS4. The presentation goes back to all the pain the hackers had to go through in order to make Linux compatible with the PS4 architecture, which Marcan42 described several times throughout the presentation as "not being a PC" as it lacks lots of the legacy architecture bits required for a computer to constitute what is known today as an IBM compatible PC. Be sure to watch the actual presentation. It's quite informative and detailed.

Windows 10 Creators Update set to be released on April 2017

Monday 2nd of January 2017 09:17:44 PM
Last October at the Windows 10 event in New York City, Microsoft officially unveiled the Windows 10 Creators Update, codenamed "Redstone 2". At the event, Microsoft stated that the update will be released in "early 2017" but we didn't know when exactly the update will arrive. Until now, anyway. Per my sources, Microsoft will be releasing the Windows 10 Creators Update this April. The more regular, smaller updates Windows gets now is such a huge step up from the monolithic releases of yore.

Google Tango on Lenovo's Phab 2 Pro: a work in progress

Thursday 29th of December 2016 09:07:53 PM
The third and most important thing to consider is this is the only device you can buy right now that supports Google Tango. Tango is Google-made software that, combined with specific hardware, offers advanced 3D sensing. If basic augmented reality creates a flat layer of digital information on your smartphone screen - think Pokémon Go, with the game content built on top of your real world - Tango goes beyond that, to the point where it interprets and measures spaces and objects around you and then lets you interact with digital things as though they're really, physically there. Tango sits in that category of technologies like Google Glass and virtual reality in that you can see it takes a lot of research and innovation to build, but that's hard to see a use for in my personal life. It makes much more sense in countless professional environments, but it'll need a lot more work - judging by this review - before it'd be ready for that.

How China built 'iPhone City' with billions in perks for Foxconn

Thursday 29th of December 2016 09:03:09 PM
The well-choreographed customs routine is part of a hidden bounty of perks, tax breaks and subsidies in China that supports the world's biggest iPhone factory, according to confidential government records reviewed by The New York Times, as well as more than 100 interviews with factory workers, logistics handlers, truck drivers, tax specialists and current and former Apple executives. The package of sweeteners and incentives, worth billions of dollars, is central to the production of the iPhone, Apple's best-selling and most profitable product. Fascinating look at what the local Chinese governments do to entice Foxconn.

Has the internet killed curly quotes?

Wednesday 28th of December 2016 10:42:38 PM
The trouble with being a former typesetter is that every day online is a new adventure in torture. Take the shape of quotation marks. These humble symbols are a dagger in my eye when a straight, or typewriter-style, pair appears in the midst of what is often otherwise typographic beauty. It's a small, infuriating difference: "this" versus “this.” I'll stop replacing curly quotes with straight quotes on OSNews the day the tech industry gives me back my Dutch quotation marks („Like so”, he said) and adds multilingual support to Google Now and Siri and so on (which right now require a full wipe to change languages, making them useless for hundreds of millions of people who live bilingual lives). Yes, I can be petty.

Microsoft to require Precision Touchpads on new hardware

Wednesday 28th of December 2016 10:22:10 PM
Microsoft knows this, and have announced at WinHEC that they are looking at making the use of Precision Touchpads a requirement for devices part of the Hardware Compatibility Program, for future versions of Windows 10 after the Creators Update. This, in theory, would mean hardware makers would have no choice but to implement Precision Touchpads rather than touchpads from Synaptics or some other 3rd party trackpad maker if they wish to preload Windows 10 on their devices. I get the impression that most Windows laptops have perfectly decent trackpad hardware, but they just really suck at the software aspect of the story. More often than not, trackpads will function like a PS/2 mouse, with little to no regard for them actually being surfaces instead of rolling balls or bouncing lasers. Even when laptop makers include terrible third-party drivers with horrid configuration applications, the end result is still garbage. I've never actually used one of these fabled Precision Trackpads before, so I can't attest to their quality, but from what I hear, they're almost Apple-level in terms of quality. And honestly - even a potato would be better than the average Windows trackpad.

Microsoft Word for Windows version 1.1a source code

Wednesday 28th of December 2016 09:07:09 PM
Clearly there was something extraordinary about Word for Windows. Part of its success was due to Microsoft's marketing acumen. But it was also a stunning technical achievement, and its ability to run on ordinary PCs created the first popular vanguard of the new graphics-oriented style of document preparation. Remember, this was a time when a typical personal computer might have an 8 Mhz processor, 1 megabyte of memory, a 20 megabyte hard disk, and a floppy disk drive. How did Word accomplish so much with so little? There's only one way to understand the magic in detail: read the code. With the permission of Microsoft Corporation, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use, the source code of Word for Windows version 1.1a as it was on January 10, 1991. Quite amazing that we're getting access to the source code for pivotal software like this.

Pixel for PC and Mac

Wednesday 28th of December 2016 12:24:19 AM
PIXEL represents our best guess as to what the majority of users are looking for in a desktop environment: a clean, modern user interface; a curated suite of productivity software and programming tools, both free and proprietary; and the Chromium web browser with useful plugins, including Adobe Flash, preinstalled. And all of this is built on top of Debian, providing instant access to thousands of free applications. Put simply, it's the GNU/Linux we would want to use. The Raspberry Pi's "own" Linux distribution is now also available for Windows and Mac - i.e., a live image you can run on your PC.

The little book about OS development

Tuesday 27th of December 2016 09:27:24 PM
This text is a practical guide to writing your own x86 operating system. It is designed to give enough help with the technical details while at the same time not reveal too much with samples and code excerpts. We've tried to collect parts of the vast (and often excellent) expanse of material and tutorials available, on the web and otherwise, and add our own insights into the problems we encountered and struggled with.

MacBook Battery time remaining

Tuesday 27th of December 2016 09:26:14 PM
Apple removed the "battery time remaining" indicator from the battery status menu in the latest version 10.12.2 of macOS. Apparently it wasn't accurate. Did you know that MacBook batteries have a dedicated chip that keeps track of how much energy goes in and out of the battery during all times? For example, the 13" MacBook Pro from 2015 uses a BQ20Z451 "battery fuel gauge chip" from Texas Instruments.

FreeDOS 1.2 released

Tuesday 27th of December 2016 11:54:47 AM
The FreeDOS 1.2 release is an updated, more modern FreeDOS. You'll see that we changed many of the packages. Some packages were replaced, deprecated by newer and better packages. We also added other packages. And we expanded what we should include in the FreeDOS distribution. Where FreeDOS 1.0 and 1.1 where fairly spartan distributions with only "core" packages and software sets, the FreeDOS 1.2 distribution includes a rich set of additional packages. We even include games. But the biggest change you are likely to notice in FreeDOS 1.2 is the updated installer. Jerome Shidel wrote an entirely new FreeDOS install program, and it looks great! We focused on keeping the new installer simple and easy to use. While many DOS users in 2016 are experienced DOS programmers and DOS power users, we often see many new users to FreeDOS, and I wanted to make the install process pleasant for them. The default mode for the installer is very straightforward, and you only have to answer a few questions to install FreeDOS on your system. There's also an "Advanced" mode where power users can tweak the install and customize the experience. Great Christmas gift.

More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

Leftovers: Software

  • HandBrake 1.0.2 Open-Source Video Transcoder Released for Linux, Mac and Windows
    After more than 13 years of development, the HandBrake open-source video transcoding app reached 1.0 milestone on Christmas Eve last year, and the second bugfix release is already available. HandBrake 1.0.2 is full of improvements and bug fixes enhancing the out-of-the-box video, audio, and subtitles support, but also adds various platform specific changes for all supported operating systems, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows.
  • SMPlayer 17.1 Open-Source Video Player Introduces Chromecast Support, More
    It's been two and a half months since you last updated your SMPlayer open-source video player, and a new stable release is now available, versioned 17.1, with some exciting features. Sporting initial Chromecast support, SMPlayer 17.1 will let you send video files from your personal computer to your Chromecast device to watch them on your big-screen TV, or your friends for that matter. The feature supports both online and local sources, including those from popular video hosting services like YouTube and Vimeo.
  • Firefox 51 Released with FLAC Support, Better CPU Usage
    A new month means a new release of the venerable Mozilla Firefox web browser. Firefox 51 ships with FLAC support, WebGL 2, and a whole heap more — come see!
  • Mozilla Firefox 51.0 Now Available for Download, Supports FLAC Playback, WebGL 2
    It's not yet official, but the binary and source packages of the Firefox 51.0 web browser are now available for download on your GNU/Linux, macOS, or Microsoft Windows operating system. Mozilla will have the pleasure of unveiling the Firefox 51.0 release tomorrow, January 24, according to the official schedule, but you can already get your hands on the final version of the web browser by downloading the installers for your favorite OS right now from our website (links are at the end of the article).

OSS Leftovers

  • Berkeley launches RISELab, enabling computers to make intelligent real-time decisions
  • Amazon, Google, Huawei, and Microsoft sponsor UC Berkeley RISELab, AMPLab's successor
  • Brotli: A new compression algorithm for faster Internet
    Brotli is a new open source compression algorithm designed to enable an Internet that's faster for users. Modern web pages can often be made up of dozens of megabytes of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and that's before accounting for images, videos, or other large file content, which all makes for hefty downloads. Such loads are why pages are transferred in compressed formats; they significantly reduce the time required between a website visitor requesting a web page and that page appearing fully loaded on the screen and ready for use. While the Brotli algorithm was announced by Google in September 2015, only recently have the majority of web browsers have adopted it. The HTTP servers Apache and nginx now offer Brotli compression as an option. Besides Google, other commercial vendors (such as Cloudflare and DreamHost) have begun to deploy support for Brotli as well.
  • New Year’s resolution: Donate to 1 free software project every month
    Free and open source software is an absolutely critical part of our world—and the future of technology and computing. One problem that consistently plagues many free software projects, though, is the challenge of funding ongoing development (and support and documentation). With that in mind, I have finally settled on a New Year’s resolution for 2017: to donate to one free software project (or group) every month—or the whole year. After all, these projects are saving me a boatload of money because I don’t need to buy expensive, proprietary packages to accomplish the same things.
  • Toyota and Ford Promote Open Source Smartphone Interfaces
    Ford and Toyota have formed a four-automaker consortium to speed up the deployment of open source software for connected in-car systems, according to a report by Bloomberg. The SmartDeviceLink Consortium, which includes Mazda, PSA Group, Fuji, and Suzuki, aims to prevent Apple and Google from controlling how drivers connect smartphones to their vehicles. Suppliers Elektrobit, Harma, Luxoft, QNX, and Xevo have also joined the organization, which is named after an open source version of Ford’s AppLink connectivity interface, a system used in over 5 million vehicles globally.
  • What your code repository says about you
    "You only get one chance to make a first impression," the old saying goes. It's cliche, but nevertheless sound, practical advice. In the realm of open source, it can make the difference between a project that succeeds and a project that fails. That's why making a positive first impression when you release a repo to the world is essential—at least if your motivations involve gaining users, building a community of contributors, and attracting valuable feedback.
  • The Open Source Way of Reaching Across Languages
    I don’t speak Spanish, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn some important things from this video. The visuals alone are quite instructive. At my public library job, I mentor a number of wonderful Latino youth. One of them might ask me about open source CAD software — and I’ll direct them right to this FOSS Force article. Of course, I subscribed to the YouTube channel of the creator of this video, and also clicked on its like button. If the screencast creator comes back to look at this video in February, they’ll find that they have a number of new subscribers, a number of likes for the video and the video view count might be more than 100. All those indicators will be encouragement for them to make their next open source screencast. And so it goes. That’s how we support each other in the open source world.
  • School systems desperate for standards-aligned curricula find hope
    Open Up Resources is a nonprofit collaborative formed by 13 U.S. states that creates high-quality, standards-aligned open educational resources (OERs) that are openly licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Unlike other providers, Open Up Resources provides curriculum-scale OER options; they believe that while many people seem to know where to find supplemental materials, most curriculum directors would not know where to look if they were planning a textbook adoption next year.
  • Visual Studio Test joins Microsoft's open source push [Ed: More openwashing of proprietary software from Microsoft, which interjects surveillance into compiled code]
  • Microsoft Open-Sources DirectX Shader Compiler [Ed: Windows lock-in.]

Red Hat's Survey in India