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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 53 min 16 sec ago

Chrome gets ad blocker by default

Saturday 3rd of June 2017 08:30:04 PM
Chrome has always focused on giving users the best possible experience browsing the web. For example, Chrome, like other browsers, prevents pop-ups in new tabs based on the fact that they are annoying. Today, we have an even better understanding of the types of experiences that bother users when it comes to unwanted advertising. New public, consumer-driven research done by the Coalition for Better Ads in creating the Better Ads Standards outlines a number of these experiences, such as full-page ad interstitials, ads that unexpectedly play sound, and flashing ads. In dialog with the Coalition and other industry groups, we plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018. Interesting that this will also block Google's ads. I'll still feel more comfortable with third party blockers, though.

Brutalist redesigns: giving popular apps the brutalist treatment

Wednesday 31st of May 2017 10:51:20 PM
I wonder if these rugged aesthetics, now commonplace in cutting-edge websites, can work at scale - in mobile apps used by +1b people. Instagram's new UI paved the way: can this effort be replicated in other categories (e.g. gaming)? Is brutalism a fad or the future of app design? Would it make apps more usable, easy-to-use and delightful? To end with, would it generate more growth? Conversions experts sometimes suggest that more text equals more engagement - what if we push this idea to the extreme? There's something unsettling about these brutalist redesigns by Pierre Buttin - but I don't outright hate them. There's something very functional about them.

AMD details ThreadRipper, Epyc processors

Wednesday 31st of May 2017 10:45:19 PM
At today's press conference, AMD has confirmed that the 16 core processor will for most purposes be half of an Epyc processor. This means that the two die MCM chip will feature 4 DDR4 channels and a whopping 64 lanes of PCIe, with all 64 lanes being enabled for all ThreadRipper SKUs. This will be broken up into 60+4: 60 lanes directly from the CPU for feeding PCIe and M.2 slots, and then another 4 lanes going to the chipset (with an undisclosed number of lanes then coming off of it) to drive basic I/O, USB, and other features. AMD seems to be particularly relishing the point on PCIe lanes in light of the yesterday's Intel HEDT announcement, which maxes out at 44 lanes and no chip below $1000 actually has all of them enabled. All this competition.

HP, Lenovo, ASUS to release first Snapdragon 835 Windows 10 PCs

Wednesday 31st of May 2017 08:17:41 PM
Microsoft and Qualcomm just announced at Computex that Lenovo, HP, and ASUS are expected to be the first companies with devices that feature the Snapdragon 835. Powered by Windows 10 on ARM, the ultra-thin and always-connected devices are said to usher in a new era of mobile computing. I am excited about ARM-based Windows machines, because this time around, there'll be a compatibility layer for running x86 applications. The built-in LTE, 4x-5x (claimed) standy time and 50% more battery life (again, claimed) are very welcome, too.

Android execs talk updates, Project Treble, Linux, more

Wednesday 31st of May 2017 08:13:49 PM
Google I/O doesn't need skydivers or LCD Soundsystem to keep us interested year to year - we'll happily settle for what is becoming an annual chat with members of the Android team. Heading into this year's conference, the group was fresh off the release of the second Android O Developer Preview and the announcement of Project Treble, a massive modularization of Android's hardware dependencies that should make updates a little easier on everyone involved with the OS. So as usual, there was plenty to talk about. Dave Burke, VP of engineering for Android, has made time for us at several recent conferences, but this year we also had Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson, PM director for Android, in on the conversation. Given the opportunity, we tried to keep these questions pretty technical. Ars does a duo-interview with two Android execs at Google.

Andy Rubin unveils Essential Phone

Tuesday 30th of May 2017 05:18:35 PM
Android's creator, Andy Rubin, has been teasing his next big project for a while now, and today he finally unveiled everything: his new company Essential has a new smartphone, an Amazon Echo-like device with its own operating system, and a few accessories. Just another company trying to break into the smartphone market, surely, were it not for the creator of Danger and Android at the helm. The phone has all the latest and greatest specifications, including an almost bezelless screen. It makes an interesting design choice by placing the front camera inside the screen at the top, which I'm sure most people will either not care about or deeply hate. I want to see the whole thing in person first, but I like that they at least try to 'own' this design choice. Another rather unique element is the ceramic back, which is a material choice we'll probably see more of over the coming years. Of particular note: the company is hinting at using stock Android, with fast updates. I've seen those promises before, so I'm not exactly taking them at face value when I hear them for the 1038th time. Their Amazon Echo competitor, the Essential Home, has a screen and sports its own operating system, but the company doesn't have a whole lot to say about it other than some marketing fluff, such as this: Ambient OS is the API to your home that enables the creation of applications that extend the reach of a single device. For example, you can setup a timer and have the lights in the livingroom flash when it goes off. With the Ambient OS API, developers have access to available devices, services, and home information and can use these resources as the building blocks of their applications. So probably Android with some custom API bits on top. They do state they are focusing on privacy, doing the AI and API bits on-device instead of in the cloud - which is a plus for me, but I'm not sure normal people really care too much about this at all. In Rubin's blog post announcing the company and its devices, he has some... Interesting words to say about what Android has become. For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives. Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do? Is it just me, or is Rubin not happy with who his child has become?

Intel announces new processors, chipset

Tuesday 30th of May 2017 09:19:02 AM
Lots of news from Intel today - the company announced a new line of processors and accompanying motherboard chipset. I have to admit I find Intel's product and platform names completely and utterly confusing, but from what I gather, the company announced new high-end i7 and i5 processors, as well as even higher-end, high-core counts i7s and a new line, the i9. The X299 chipset brings it all together. I was keeping an eye on these new processors as I just ordered all the parts for my brand new computer, but I had already decided not to wait for these since I prefer not to jump onto new processors and chipsets right away (which is why I didn't opt for Ryzen either). Looking at the replacement for the processor I eventually settled on - the 7700K - I'm pretty sure I made the right call, since the speed bump seems minor (100Mhz), while TDP goes up relatively considerably. The high core count processors are - much like the Ryzen 7 1800X - incredibly alluring in a "I want all the cores" kind of way, but for the most part, few workloads actually benefit from more cores in processors. Aside from workstation-oriented workloads I personally do not engage in, it really seems like processors are running ahead of the software they run. Still, with Ryzen and now Intel's new parts, there's a ton of choice out there if you're building a new computer.

Jailbreaking Super Mario World to install hex editor, mod loader

Monday 29th of May 2017 11:25:07 PM
Cooper Harasyn found a Super Mario World save corruption glitch, and we worked together to create a jailbreak that works on real, unmodified cartridges and Super Nintendos. They managed to install a hex editor and a mod loader onto unmodified Super Mario World cartridges running on unmodified Super Nintendos. With the mod loader, you can, for instance, give Mario telekinesis powers. This is somewhat reminiscent of a similar extraordinary feat in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night we talked about earlier this year.

PC DOS 1.0, but not quite

Sunday 28th of May 2017 10:29:58 PM
Astute readers will notice that that's exactly the same message as PC DOS 1.0 (August 1981) shows, but this COMMAND.COM did not prompt for the date. That's because this disk is not from August but rather early June 1981 - newest file is timestamped June 6, 1981 - which may make it the oldest known surviving piece of software written for the IBM PC (not counting the IBM PC ROMs which are dated April 1981). It’s certainly the oldest known surviving PC operating system. I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this topic, but it can't be said often enough: the preservation of software - whether important world-changing or not - is crucial if we want to document the history of where software came from, and where it's going to.

A year of Google and Apple maps

Sunday 28th of May 2017 10:26:29 PM
Shortly after I published my Cartography Comparison last June, I noticed Google updating some of the areas we had focused on. Coincidence or not, it was interesting. And it made me wonder what else would change, if we kept watching. Would Google keep adding detail? And would Apple, like Google, also start making changes? So I wrote a script that takes monthly screenshots of Google and Apple Maps. And thirteen months later, we now have a year's worth of images. This is a fascinating article. Google is changing the look of the actual maps in Google Maps a lot, and improving its data all the time - whereas Apple seems to lag behind, and contains far less places of interest, stores, and so on.

postmarketOS: aiming for a 10 year life-cycle for smartphones

Saturday 27th of May 2017 09:33:34 AM
It is 2017. Pick an average PC from 2007 and install a minimal GNU/Linux based operating system. You will be able to do basic computing tasks (eg. surfing the web, reading E-Mails, listening to music, chatting) just like on an expensive modern PC. You will even get security updates, so your old computer is protected, just like as a new one. postmarketOS (I love the name) aims to do the same for smartphones. A small Linux distribution with a phone interface, designed to be easy to update and maintain to solve the problems Android poses in this area. The project is in its infancy, so it needs a lot of help to further realise its vision. This is a great idea, and it could breathe life into devices not even LineageOS can keep alive.

Apple is working on a dedicated chip to power AI on devices

Saturday 27th of May 2017 09:26:23 AM
Apple is working on a processor devoted specifically to AI-related tasks, according to a person familiar with the matter. The chip, known internally as the Apple Neural Engine, would improve the way the company's devices handle tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence - such as facial recognition and speech recognition, said the person, who requested anonymity discussing a product that hasn't been made public. Apple declined to comment. It's interesting - and unsurprising - that while Google is investing in server-side AI by developing its own custom AI hardware, Apple is apparently investing in keeping AI local. It fits right into the different approaches to privacy by these two companies, which is why I find this entirely unsurprising. As a sidenote - isn't it interesting how when new technologies come around, we try to offload it to a specific chip, only to then bring it back into the main processor later on?

Arcan 0.5.2 released

Friday 26th of May 2017 07:55:25 PM
OSNews covered the One night in Prio article, and now a new version of its umbrella project, Arcan, has been released (which only happens two or three times a year). The actual details are covered in the release post. So, what is Arcan? Arcan is a powerful development framework for creating virtually anything between user interfaces for specialised embedded applications all the way to full-blown standalone desktop environments. At its heart lies a robust and portable multimedia engine, with a well-tested and well-documented interface, programmable in Lua. At every step of the way, the underlying development emphasises security, performance and debugability guided by a principle of least surprise in terms of API design.

More in Tux Machines

Desktop: Popcorn Linux, Purism, Distro Hopping, System76, and 2017 Linux Laptop Survey

  • Popcorn Linux OS gives processors a common language
    Thanks to a new operating system called Popcorn Linux, the Navy may be able to speed systems development and cut maintenance. Developed by engineering researchers at Virginia Tech with support from the Office of Naval Research,  Popcorn Linux can compile different programming languages into a common format. The operating system takes generic coding language and translates it into multiple specialized program languages. Then it determines what pieces of the code are needed to perform particular tasks and transfers these instruction “kernels” (the “popcorn” part) to the appropriate function, ONR officials said. Chips for video systems might be programmed in one language and those for networking functions in another. These multicore processors improve computing speed, but they also force programmers to design or upgrade applications based on what programs run on which processors. That means complex systems like battlespace awareness and artificial intelligence that require specialized processors must be manually adjusted so components can interact with each other.
  • Purism's Security Focused Librem Laptops Go Mainstream as GA Begins, with $2.5M in Total Project Funding and 35 Percent Average Monthly Growth
  • Now it’s easier to buy Purism’s Linux laptops
    After running a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 to raise money for a laptop that runs free and open source software, Purism has been able to ship a limited number of 13 and 15 inch laptops, and the corporation is taking pre-orders for a 2-in-1 tablet.
  • Are You a Distro Hopper?
    Is distro hopping a dying sport or have I just gotten too old? When I first started to use Linux I was the quintessential cliche distro hopper. I swapped and switched flavor of Linux seemingly every other day, certain that at some point I’d find the right fit and stop, content with at whatever combination of distro base and desktop environment I’d hit upon.
  • System76 Continues Working On GNOME Improvements For Future Ubuntu
    System76 continues working on improvements to the GNOME stack as part of their transition in-step to using it over Unity 7, in line with Canonical's decision to switch Ubuntu over to GNOME and abandon their grand Unity 8 ambitions.
  • 2017 Linux Laptop Survey
    It has been a few years since last running any Linux hardware surveys on Phoronix, as overall the ecosystem has rather matured nicely while of course there are still notable improvements to be had in the areas of GPUs and laptops. (Additionally, OpenBenchmarking.org provides a plethora of analytic capabilities when not seeking to collect subjective data / opinions.) But now we are hosting the 2017 Linux Laptop Survey to hopefully further improvements in this area.

Software and GNOME: Pass, Popcorn Time, Nixnote2, Grive, Curlew, and GtkActionMuxer

  • Pass – A Simple command-line Password Manager for Linux
    Keep tracking the password is one of the big challenge to everyone now a days since we has multiple password like email, bank, social media, online portal, and ftp, etc.,. Password managers are become very famous due to the demand and usage. In Linux so many alternatives are available, GUI based and CLI based. Today we are going to discuss about CLI based password manager called pass.
  • Popcorn Time Watch Movies and TV Shows On Linux
    ​Watching your favorite TV shows and movies series is what you all guys do every day. Flash, Iron Fist or Moana and many more awesome movies and tv shows that we love to watch. The problems come when you are traveling. Many of your shows or movies are restricted to a particular region and cannot be accessed when you are traveling or want to just quickly watch that awesome flash punch from an episode of 1 month old.
  • Nixnote2 – A Clone of Evernote for Linux
    When I created a list of Alternative Evernote Clients for Linux, the formerly known NeverNote was on the list as NixNote since it hadn’t gained a “2” to its title yet. It has been 4 months since and I decided to give the app its own review for you guys. Without further ado, let’s get to it. NixNote2 (also called NixNote) is an unofficial client of Evernote for Linux. It possesses most of the features Evernote provides including the use of Notebooks, tags, themes, emails, and multiple accounts.
  • Grive – A Dockerized Google Drive Client for Linux
    Not too long ago I reviewed Grive2 as an alternative Google Drive client for Linux. Today, I’ll introduce you to Grive, a Docker implementation for the Google Drive client, Grive2. Docker (if you don’t already know what it is), is a tool designed to benefit both system admins and developers thanks to its use of containers. Docker’s containers provide a way for developers to create and distribute their apps using containers.
  • Curlew is a GTK Media Converter for the GNOME desktop
    There are plenty of free multimedia converters for Ubuntu available, with command-line champ FFmpeg arguably the most powerful of them all. But this power comes with a complexity. Using FFMpeg to convert media through the command line can be intimidating and arcane. Which is why FFMpeg frontends are popular.
  • Dazzle spotlight – Multi Paned and Action Muxing
    The way the GtkActionMuxer works is by following the widget hierarchy to resolve GActions. Since the HeaderBar is a sibling to the content area (and not a direct ancestor) you cannot activate those actions. It would be nice for the muxer to gain more complex support, but until then… Dazzle.

Games: Witcher 2 & Rocket League, Ashes of the Singularity and More

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