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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 39 min 36 sec ago

Firefox is on a slippery slope

Sunday 17th of December 2017 07:39:14 PM
For a long time, it was just setting the default search provider to Google in exchange for a beefy stipend. Later, paid links in your new tab page were added. Then, a proprietary service, Pocket, was bundled into the browser - not as an addon, but a hardcoded feature. In the past few days, we’ve discovered an advertisement in the form of browser extension was sideloaded into user browsers. Whoever is leading these decisions at Mozilla needs to be stopped. Mozilla garnered a lot of fully deserved goodwill with the most recent Firefox release, and here they are, jeopardising all that hard work. People expect this kind of nonsense from Google, Apple, or Microsoft - not Mozilla. Is it unfair to judge Mozilla much more harshly than those others? Perhaps, but that's a consequence of appealing to more demanding users when it comes to privacy and open source.

BlackBerry closes BB10 app store, offers 2 more years of support

Sunday 17th of December 2017 07:30:01 PM
While we are pleased to announce continuing support for BB10 and BBOS users for at least another two years, current device owners should be aware that we will be closing some ancillary services such as the BlackBerry World app store (12/31/2019), the BlackBerry Travel site (February 2018), and the Playbook video calling service (March 2018). Customers who upgrade to a new KeyOne or Motion won't miss a beat as they'll have immediate access to the rich universe of apps in the Google Play store without compromising on either security or their desire for a physical keyboard. The platform was clearly winding down for a number of years now, ever since BlackBerry moved to Android, but it's still yet another casualty on the road towards the iOS-Android duopoly. I know a surprising number of people here on OSNews absolutely adored their BB10 devices, and I'm sad I never managed to purchase a Passport, the most enticing BB10 device to me. I'm still keeping an eye out for an affordable used Passport, because I definitely want to write about BB10 in more detail in the near future.

How a counterfeit NES opened up the Russian games market

Sunday 17th of December 2017 07:26:08 PM
Back in the 90s, if you had mentioned the names Nintendo and Sega to a kid in America, Japan or Europe, their face would have likely lit up. They'd instantly know what these words represented; the colour and excitement of a game on the TV screen in their front room, and a sense of fun. But if you said these words to a child in Russia, they'd have looked at you blankly. These companies were not present in the region at the time. Say 'Dendy', however, and you'd invoke that same kind of magic. This was a counterfeit NES console that was released in December 1992 by a Russian technology company called Steepler. It all began when Victor Savyuk, then working at another tech firm called Paragraph, first learnt of 'TV games'; machines that plugged into your TV at home, were controlled with joysticks and let people enjoy video games. There were no IP protections for games on consoles in Russia at the time, making this entire endeavor possible.

AIM will be discontinued on December 15, 2017

Friday 15th of December 2017 07:01:35 PM
As of December 15, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger products and services will be shut down and will no longer work.If you are an AOL member, AOL products and services​ ​like AO​​L Mail, AOL Desktop Gold an​d Member​ Subscriptions will not be affected.​ Many Americans have memories of AOL Instant Messenger I'm sure - probably memories of talking to your crush late at night, or planning evenings out drinking with friends. Here in The Netherlands we used MSN Messenger - I have those same memories, just from a different client. AOL, ICQ and MSN have long been replaced by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage, but I'm sure teens of today still use them for the same thing.

The FCC just killed net neutrality

Thursday 14th of December 2017 07:46:50 PM
Net neutrality is dead - at least for now. In a 3-2 vote today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a measure to remove the tough net neutrality rules it put in place just two years ago. Those rules prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes. They also classified internet providers as Title II common carriers in order to give the measure strong legal backing. Today's vote undoes all of that. It removes the Title II designation, preventing the FCC from putting tough net neutrality rules in place even if it wanted to. And, it turns out, the Republicans now in charge of the FCC really don’t want to. The new rules largely don’t prevent internet providers from doing anything. They can block, throttle, and prioritize content if they wish to. The only real rule is that they have to publicly state that they’re going to do it. Nobody wanted the FCC to vote like this. Public support for net neutrality is massive. The only reason this is happening is pure, unbridled corruption at the very root of the American political system.

Haiku's first beta is possibly maybe not too far off

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 11:54:39 PM
I've now turned my attention to preparation for beta1. Already talk has resumed on the mailing list of a tentative schedule; there still remains too much to do to expect it before the new year, but with the list of blockers now reduced effectively to two (one relating to installing source packages on the actual release image, which I intend to look into solving soon; the other is about clashing mime supertype declaration and may prove trickier to solve), the actual "release branch" is hopefully not more than a month away. I've already begun drafting release notes and making build system cleanups as part of preparation. There is finally light at the end of the tunnel - don't give up hope yet. :) I'm just putting it out there that if all goes according to plan, I'll be spending lots of time in a nice Haiku virtual machine over the coming weeks to get a really good look at the state of the continuation of the best operating system ever made. It's time.

Android Wear gets updated to Android 8.0 Oreo

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 11:45:29 PM
Remember Android Wear? Google's struggling smartwatch OS is getting updated to Android 8.0 Oreo, just like the rest of the Android lineup. Google announced the update on the "Android Wear Developers" Google Plus group. It seems like the only supported watch right now is the flagship LG Watch Sport, which makes sense since that was the only watch to get an Android O beta in the beginning of October. Wear's last big update was Android Wear 2.0, which was released with the LG Watch Sport the beginning of the year. Most users won't notice the move to Oreo. Like Android TV, Android Wear has its own interface and set of features that are developed separately from the base OS version. This update to Oreo changes the under-the-hood OS, but the user-facing features will mostly remain unchanged. It feels like Android Wear is stuck in limbo - not exactly dead, but it doesn't seem like there's much activity or forward momentum either. Also I keep forgetting Google Plus is even a thing.

AMD pushing out open-source Vulkan driver

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 11:31:28 PM
Ahead of the Vulkan 1.0 debut nearly two years ago, we heard that for AMD's Vulkan Linux driver it was initially going to be closed-source and would then be open-sourced once ready. At the time it sounded like something that would be opened up six months or so, but finally that milestone is being reached! Ahead of Christmas, AMD is publishing the source code to their official Vulkan Linux driver. There's some minor caveats noted in the linked article, but this is looking like great news.

Apple makes iMac Pro available for order

Tuesday 12th of December 2017 10:45:59 PM
Apple has made the iMac Pro available to order, but since we already know all the details about its specifications, there's one particular aspect I'd like to focus on: the iMac Pro contains new Apple-developed silicon. It's called the T2, and as described by Cabel Sasser: The iMac Pro features new apple custom silicon: the T2 chip. It integrates previously discrete components, like the SMC, ISP for the camera, audio control, SSD control... plus a secure enclave, and a hardware encryption engine. This new chip means storage encryption keys pass from the secure enclave to the hardware encryption engine in-chip - your key never leaves the chip. And, they it allows for hardware verification of OS, kernel, boot loader, firmware, etc. (This can be disabled...) The screenshot he posted shows what the hardware verification dialog for things like the operating system and bootloader looks like. As long as we can turn security measures like this off - as we can on, e.g., Chromebooks - this is a good development. Now all we have to do is hope these companies don't abuse this kind of technology. We can hope.

Microsoft adds an OpenSSH client to Windows 10

Tuesday 12th of December 2017 10:21:47 PM
Ask just about any *NIX admin using a Windows laptop and they will have come across Putty. For years, Apple MacBooks have been the go-to choice for many admins partly because getting to a ssh shell is so easy. The newly re-invigorated Microsoft is changing how easy it is to interface with Linux (and other *NIX flavors) significantly with features like Ubuntu on Windows. There is a new beta feature in Windows 10 that may just see the retirement of Putty from many users: an OpenSSH client and OpenSSH server application for Windows.

Microsoft releases free preview of Quantum Development Kit

Tuesday 12th of December 2017 10:19:57 PM
Microsoft is releasing a free preview version of its Quantum Development Kit, which includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator and other resources for people who want to start writing applications for a quantum computer. The Q# programming language was built from the ground up specifically for quantum computing. Read the announcement blog post for more information.

Here's what happens when an 18 year old buys a mainframe

Monday 11th of December 2017 08:25:03 PM
From the comments on the previous story: Connor Krukosky is an 18-year-old college student with a hobby of collecting vintage computers. One day, he decided to buy his own mainframe... An IBM z890. This is his story. Grab a warm drink, and enjoy. This is great.

Creating a Christmas card on a vintage IBM 1401 mainframe

Sunday 10th of December 2017 11:54:47 PM
I recently came across a challenge to print a holiday greeting card on a vintage computer, so I decided to make a card on a 1960s IBM 1401 mainframe. The IBM 1401 computer was a low-end business mainframe announced in 1959, and went on to become the most popular computer of the mid-1960s, with more than 10,000 systems in use. The 1401's rental price started at $2500 a month (about $20,000 in current dollars), a low price that made it possible for even a medium-sized business to have a computer for payroll, accounting, inventory, and many other tasks. Although the 1401 was an early all-transistorized computer, these weren't silicon transistors - the 1401 used germanium transistors, the technology before silicon. It used magnetic core memory for storage, holding 16,000 characters. Some people have access to the coolest stuff.

Making a Game Boy game in 2017

Sunday 10th of December 2017 11:51:18 PM
Everyone has childhood dreams. Mine was to make a game for my fist console: the Nintendo Game Boy. Today, I fulfilled this dream, by releasing my first Game Boy game on a actual cartridge: Sheep It Up! In this article, I'll present the tools I used, and some pitfalls a newcomer like me had to overcome to make this project a reality! This isn't simply a ROM you run in an emulator - no, this is a real Game Boy cartridge. Amazing work.

Qt 5.10 released

Thursday 7th of December 2017 10:57:56 PM
Great new things are coming with the latest Qt release. From image based styling of the Qt Quick Controls, new shape types in Qt Quick through to Vulkan enablers as well as additional languages and handwriting recognition in Virtual Keyboard. But wait, there is more. We fully support both OAuth1 & 2, text to speech and we also have a tech preview of the Qt WebGL Streaming Plugin. The blog post about the release has more information.

Qualcomm Centriq 2400: the world's first 10nm server processor

Thursday 7th of December 2017 10:55:07 PM
Today marks a major milestone in the processor industry - we've launched Qualcomm Centriq 2400, the world's first and only 10nm server processor. While this is the culmination of an intensive five-year journey for the Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies (QDT) team, it also marks the beginning of an era that will see a step function in the economics and energy efficiency of operating a datacenter.

ReactOS 0.4.7 released

Wednesday 6th of December 2017 08:29:26 PM
ReactOS 0.4.7 has been released, and it contains a ton of fixes, improvements, and new features. Judging by the screenshots, ReactOS 0.4.7 can run Opera, Firefox, and Mozilla all at once, which is good news for those among us who want to use ReactOS on a more daily basis. There's also a new application manager which, as the name implies, makes it easier to install and uninstall applications, similar to how package managers on Linux work. On a lower level, ReactOS can now deal with Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, BtrFS, ReiserFS, FFS, and NFS partitions. There's more, so head on over to the announcement page.

Bitcoin could cost us our clean-energy future

Wednesday 6th of December 2017 08:19:46 PM
The total energy use of this web of hardware is huge - an estimated 31 terawatt-hours per year. More than 150 individual countries in the world consume less energy annually. And that power-hungry network is currently increasing its energy use every day by about 450 gigawatt-hours, roughly the same amount of electricity the entire country of Haiti uses in a year. [...] In just a few months from now, at bitcoin's current growth rate, the electricity demanded by the cryptocurrency network will start to outstrip what's available, requiring new energy-generating plants. And with the climate conscious racing to replace fossil fuel-base plants with renewable energy sources, new stress on the grid means more facilities using dirty technologies. By July 2019, the bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire United States currently uses. By February 2020, it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today. This is an unsustainable trajectory. It simply can't continue. Not only is bitcoin tulips, but it's also incredibly bad for our planet. These energy numbers are insanity.

Windows Phone stymied by moving goalposts, just like Symbian

Wednesday 6th of December 2017 08:15:48 PM
The problem with the tech world is, from an operating system provider's point of view, that the goalposts keep moving. These perambulating pieces of wood killed Symbian, killed Blackberry, have almost killed Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, and, one day, may even kill iOS as we know it today. With hindsight, it's all too clear, but at the time OS coders were making sensible choices. Operating systems come, and operating systems go.

HP, Asus announce first Windows 10 ARM PCs

Tuesday 5th of December 2017 08:19:56 PM
HP and Asus have announced the first Windows 10 PCs running on ARM - Snapdragon 835 - and they're boasting about instant-on, 22 hour battery life, and gigabit LTE. These machines run full Windows 10 - so not some crippled Windows RT nonsense - and support 32bit x86 applications. Microsoft hasn't unveiled a whole lot just yet about their x86-on-ARM emulation, but Ars did compile some information: The emulator runs in a just-in-time basis, converting blocks of x86 code to equivalent blocks of ARM code. This conversion is cached both in memory (so each given part of a program only has to be translated once per run) and on disk (so subsequent uses of the program should be faster, as they can skip the translation). Moreover, system libraries - the various DLLs that applications load to make use of operating system feature - are all native ARM code, including the libraries loaded by x86 programs. Calling them "Compiled Hybrid Portable Executables" (or "chippie" for short), these libraries are ARM native code, compiled in such a way as to let them respond to x86 function calls. While processor-intensive applications are liable to suffer a significant performance hit from this emulation - Photoshop will work in the emulator, but it won't be very fast - applications that spend a substantial amount of time waiting around for the user - such as Word - should perform with adequate performance. As one might expect, this emulation isn't available in the kernel, so x86 device drivers won't work on these systems. It's also exclusively 32-bit; software that's available only in a 64-bit x86 version won't be compatible. I'm very curious about the eventual performance figures for this emulation, since the idea of running my garbage Win32 translation management software on a fast, energy-efficient laptop and external monitor seem quite appealing to me.