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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 hour 30 min ago

Android One becomes the new Google Play EditioN

Friday 23rd of February 2018 01:08:02 AM
If I look back through all of the years we have covered Android, it’s hard to argue that the introduction of Google Play Edition phones wasn’t one of the biggest moments. In those early years, the Android skin situation was bad. Those early versions of TouchWiz, MotoBlur, and even HTC Sense, weren’t what many of us wanted, to say the least. We wanted Google’s version of Android, as well as their Nexus update schedules, yet that was tough to get because Google was making average hardware at the time. While Google Play Edition may have failed as a program, I get the feeling that Android One will now act as a proper replacement to it. Stop trying to make timely Android updates happen. It's not going to happen.

Project: 2ine, OS/2 binaries on Linux

Wednesday 21st of February 2018 11:10:22 PM
You have no idea how much effort went into getting this stupid white square on the screen. If this one hell of a lede doesn't get your attention, nothing will.

Linux ported to Nintendo Switch

Wednesday 21st of February 2018 11:07:38 PM
There are two major reasons I can think of to hack a game console. The first one is obvious: so you can play cracked copies of games. That’s why modern consoles are so difficult to hack, because millions of dollars are on the line. But some people just want to run any software they choose on the hardware they own. And for those people, Linux on the Switch is a huge achievement. I'm surprised it even took this long.

The case against Google

Wednesday 21st of February 2018 11:06:12 PM
In other words, it's very likely you love Google, or are at least fond of Google, or hardly think about Google, the same way you hardly think about water systems or traffic lights or any of the other things you rely on every day. Therefore you might have been surprised when headlines began appearing last year suggesting that Google and its fellow tech giants were threatening everything from our economy to democracy itself. Lawmakers have accused Google of creating an automated advertising system so vast and subtle that hardly anyone noticed when Russian saboteurs co-opted it in the last election. Critics say Facebook exploits our addictive impulses and silos us in ideological echo chambers. Amazon’s reach is blamed for spurring a retail meltdown; Apple's economic impact is so profound it can cause market-wide gyrations. These controversies point to the growing anxiety that a small number of technology companies are now such powerful entities that they can destroy entire industries or social norms with just a few lines of computer code. Those four companies, plus Microsoft, make up America's largest sources of aggregated news, advertising, online shopping, digital entertainment and the tools of business and communication. They're also among the world's most valuable firms, with combined annual revenues of more than half a trillion dollars. The recent focus on technology companies when it comes to corporate power is definitely warranted, but I do find it a little peculiar that it, at the same time, draws attention away from other sectors where giant corporations are possibly doing even more damage to society, like large oil companies and the environment, or the concentration of media companies. One has to wonder if the recent aggressive focus on tech companies isn't entirely natural.

Stephen Elop and the fall of Nokia revisited

Wednesday 21st of February 2018 11:00:08 PM
The first English translation of Operation Elop, an examination by Finnish journalists into the final years of Nokia phones, has reignited debate about the fate of what was Europe's largest and most admired technology company. [...] What do we learn? Operation Elop is largely negative about the Canadian CEO's tenure, the first non-Finn to hold the position at the company, but nevertheless comes to his support when the authors find that criticism was unfair. For example, the vilification that Stephen Elop received on receiving a "$26m payoff" was completely unwarranted, the authors conclude, since the figure (and much of the reporting) was wildly inaccurate. If you want an American CEO, they point out, you need to pay an American CEO's compensation. And Elop's time at Nokia cost him his marriage, don't forget. But the collapse of Nokia also cost Finnish communities dear: the details of rising alcoholism, and child social services under strain as thousands of employees were laid off, make for grim reading. Elop's tenure at Nokia and the company's downfall will be studied for decades to come.

Programming AmigaOS 4

Monday 19th of February 2018 10:08:40 PM
Amiga Future has published the first 5 parts of a series of AmigaOS 4 programming tutorials online (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5). We were shocked when we realised that while we've covered several subjects in programming for AmigaOS 4 in Amiga Future there's been no extensive coverage of all of the many aspects. Additionally, since the release of OS4, quite a lot of time has passed by, and during that time new programming treasures have sneaked into the SDK virtually unnoticed. It's been nine years since the authors did a similar series in "Amiga Magazin". So, we're launching a new 15-part series starting with a short peek at the SDK and the available development environments.

Microsoft documents the limitations of Windows 10 on ARM

Monday 19th of February 2018 09:37:47 PM
This week, however, Microsoft finally published a more complete list of the limitations of Windows 10 on ARM. And that word - limitations - is interesting. This isn't how Windows 10 on ARM differs from Windows 10 on x86-based systems. It's how it's more limited. None of these things really sound all that surprising to me, but you can bet these limitations - which seem technical in nature, not political - will lead to outcries among some people who buy ARM-based Windows 10 machines.

Eric Lundgren faces prison for trying to extend life span of PCs

Monday 19th of February 2018 09:30:34 PM
Eric Lundgren is obsessed with recycling electronics. He built an electric car out of recycled parts that far outdistanced a Tesla in a test. He launched what he thinks is the first "electronic hybrid recycling" facility in the United States, which turns discarded cellphones and other electronics into functional devices, slowing the stream of harmful chemicals and metals into landfills and the environment. His California-based company processes more than 41 million pounds of e-waste each year and counts IBM, Motorola and Sprint among its clients. But an idea Lundgren had to prolong the life of personal computers could land him in prison. One of those cases that fills any decent human being with rage.

Facebook turned its two-factor security 'feature' into spam

Thursday 15th of February 2018 11:17:10 AM
Facebook is bleeding users, with external researchers estimating that the social network lost 2.8 million US users under 25 last year. Those losses have prompted Facebook to get more aggressive in its efforts to win users back - and the company has started using security prompts to encourage users to log into their accounts. Sometimes, Facebook will send emails to users warning them that they're having problems logging into their accounts, Bloomberg reported last month. "Just click the button below and we'll log you in. If you weren't trying to log in, let us know," the emails reportedly read. Other times, Facebook will ask for a user's phone number to set up two-factor authentication - then spam the number with notification texts. Raise your hand if you're surprised Facebook would do this.

Head to head, does the Apple HomePod really sound the best?

Thursday 15th of February 2018 11:13:15 AM
David Pogue has some reservations about the smart speaker comparison test Apple subjected the tech press to. Still, when I tweeted about the test, a couple of people were suspicious of the setup, which of course was entirely controlled by Apple. What was the source material? What was the wireless setup? An Apple rep told me that the test songs were streaming from a server in the next room (a Mac). But each speaker was connected to it differently: by Bluetooth (Amazon Echo), Ethernet (Sonos), input miniplug (Google Home), and AirPlay (HomePod), which is Apple’s Wi-Fi-based transmission system. Since the setup wasn’t identical, I wondered if it was a perfectly fair test. (Bluetooth, for example, may degrade (compress) the music it’s transmitting, depending on the source and the equipment.) So I decided to set up my own test at home. I'm not really interested in the HomePod or Google Home Max or any other "smart" speaker, but I love how Pogue basically laments much of the technology press for not questioning Apple's test and test setup. A good read.

Chrome to start blocking annoying ads

Tuesday 13th of February 2018 07:31:00 PM
The web is an incredible asset. It's an engine for innovation, a platform for sharing, and a universal gateway to information. When we built Chrome, we wanted to create a way for people to interact with the magic that is the web, without the browser getting in the way. We created a browser that took up minimal space on your screen, made the omnibar so you could quickly search or get directly to a website, and built our pop-up blocker to help you avoid unwanted content. Since then we’ve also added features such as Safe Browsing, pausing autoplay Flash and more - all aimed at protecting your experience of the web. Your feedback has always played a critical part in the development of Chrome. This feedback has shown that a big source of frustration is annoying ads: video ads that play at full blast or giant pop-ups where you can’t seem to find the exit icon. These ads are designed to be disruptive and often stand in the way of people using their browsers for their intended purpose - connecting them to content and information. It's clear that annoying ads degrade what we all love about the web. That's why starting on February 15, Chrome will stop showing all ads on sites that repeatedly display these most disruptive ads after they've been flagged. Good news for those still not using an adblocker, and bad news for sites that repeatedly display annoying ads.

Why paper jams persist

Tuesday 13th of February 2018 12:22:50 AM
Late in “Oslo,” J. T. Rogers’s recent play about the negotiation of the Oslo Accords, diplomats are finalizing the document when one of them reports a snag: “It’s stuck in the copy machine and I can’t get it out!” The employees in Mike Judge’s 1999 film “Office Space” grow so frustrated with their jam-prone printer that they destroy it with a baseball bat in a slow-motion montage set to the Geto Boys’ “Still.” (Office workers around the country routinely reënact this scene, posting the results on YouTube.) According to the Wall Street Journal, printers are among the most in-demand objects in “rage rooms,” where people pay to smash things with sledgehammers; Battle Sports, a rage-room facility in Toronto, goes through fifteen a week. Meanwhile, in the song “Paper Jam” John Flansburgh, of the band They Might Be Giants, sees the jam as a stark moral test. “Paper jam / paper jam,” he sings. “It would be so easy to walk away.” Unsurprisingly, the engineers who specialize in paper jams see them differently. Engineers tend to work in narrow subspecialties, but solving a jam requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, computer programming, and interface design. “It’s the ultimate challenge,” Ruiz said. This is such a great read.

The insane amount of backward compatibility in Google Maps

Tuesday 13th of February 2018 12:15:01 AM
I still keep a couple of my favorite old smartphones. Sometimes I use one of them as my primary device for fun. Phones are among the fastest evolving markets, even a year makes a whole lot of differences. One of the biggest challenges with using old phones is the software: they don’t run modern software. And old software isn’t compatible with new websites, frameworks, encryption standards, APIs. Use an old device, and you will find yourself unable to get anything done. Every app crashes or complains that it can’t connect to the server. Even with Apple who is doing a fantastic job of keeping their phones updated, you may notice that many sites and apps have started dropping support for the iPhone 5, which is still a totally capable device. But there is always an unlikely app that consistently works on all of my devices, regardless of their OS and how old they are: Google Maps. I have a whole slew of old PDAs and phones, and even something as simple as getting them online through wireless internet is a major hassle, because they don't support the more advanced encryption protocols. Even if you do manage to get them online, they often won't support IMAP or or they'll lack some key email protocol settings. The fact that Google Maps apparently keeps on working is fascinating.

Google's next Android overhaul said to embrace 'notch'

Tuesday 13th of February 2018 12:07:30 AM
Google is working on an overhaul of its Android mobile software for a new generation of smartphones mimicking Apple Inc.'s controversial new "notch" at the top of the iPhone X, according to people familiar with the situation. The Android update, due later in the year, will also more tightly integrate Google’s digital assistant, improve battery life on phones and support new designs, like multiple screens and foldable displays, the people added. A key goal of this year’s update to the Google mobile operating system is to persuade more iPhone users to switch to Android devices by improving the look of the software, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing the private plans. A Google spokesman declined to comment. A bit short on actual details, but what's there is mostly the kind of stuff you'd expect Android to be preparing for. We're going to need to be closer to Google I/O for more concrete information.

Designing Windows 95's user interface

Saturday 10th of February 2018 12:11:34 AM
Three years ago I came across an interesting paper written up by a Microsoft employee, Kent Sullivan, on the process and findings of designing the new user interface for Windows 95. The web page has since been taken down - one reason why I’m a bit of a digital hoarder. It specified some of the common issues experienced from Windows 3.1's Program Manager shell and looked at the potential of developing a separate shell for 'beginners'. Admittedly my inclination was that this was possibly inspired by Apple's At Ease program that was reasonably popular during the System 7 days. I remember At Ease well during my primary school years, so kids couldn’t mess with the hard disk in Finder. So here's what Kent had to say verbatim in his paper titled "The Windows 95 User Interface: A Case Study in Usability Engineering" so it’s not lost altogether. However you feel about Windows 95, there's no denying that its user interface is probably one of the most iconic and well-known user interfaces ever designed and developed. Literally everyone knows it and has used it, and it singlehandedly defined what a personal computer's UI should work like. It's incredibly fascinating to read about the thought processes behind its development.

MATE 1.20 released

Saturday 10th of February 2018 12:11:12 AM
The theme for this release has been stabilising the MATE Desktop by replacing deprecated code and modernising large sections of the code base. We’ve also improved our window manager (Marco) and added support for HiDPI. Along the way we’ve fixed hundreds of bugs. Squished ‘em dead! GNOME 2 is, in my view, one of the best desktop environments ever created, and surely the best desktop environment ever made on Linux. It was consistent, reasonably fast, had a lot of great, high-quality themes, stayed out of your way, and struck a decent balance between configurability and ease of use. Ever since GNOME 2, I've been sorely disappointed with the Linux desktop environments. MATE is a godsend.

Intel made smart glasses that look normal

Wednesday 7th of February 2018 01:10:31 AM
The most important parts of Intel’s new Vaunt smart glasses are the pieces that were left out. There is no camera to creep people out, no button to push, no gesture area to swipe, no glowing LCD screen, no weird arm floating in front of the lens, no speaker, and no microphone (for now). From the outside, the Vaunt glasses look just like eyeglasses. When you’re wearing them, you see a stream of information on what looks like a screen - but it’s actually being projected onto your retina. This looks amazing. I'm not entirely sure if I, personally, have any use for this, but such basic, simple, handsfree information could be invaluable to, for instance, construction workers, farmers, police officers, or other people who do hard, dangerous work with their hands.

Windows 10 S becoming a mode, not a version

Wednesday 7th of February 2018 01:02:10 AM
Windows 10 S, the Microsoft Store-only version of Windows, is going away, but not really. Currently, Windows 10 S is a unique edition of Windows 10. It's based on Windows 10 Pro; Windows 10 Pro has various facilities that enable system administrators to restrict which software can be run, and Windows 10 S is essentially a preconfigured version of those facilities. In addition to locking out arbitrary downloaded programs, it also prevents the use of certain built-in Windows features such as the command-line, PowerShell, and Windows Subsystem for Linux. For those who can't abide by the constraints that S imposes, you can upgrade 10 S to the full 10 Pro. This upgrade is a one-shot deal: there's no way of re-enabling the S limitations after upgrading to Pro. It's also a paid upgrade: while Microsoft offered it as a free upgrade for a limited time for its Surface Laptop, the regular price is $49. Nothing much actually seems to be changing; it just turns Windows 10 S from a version into a mode. Pretty much a distinction without a difference. My biggest issue here is that you can't go from regular Windows 10 back to Windows 10 S if you ever had a reason to do so (e.g. if Windows were ever to be usable with just Metro apps in the future and you want the additional security Windows 10 S provides). Seems like an odd restriction.

Switch to Windows 95

Monday 5th of February 2018 11:08:50 PM
In November last year I wrote about the forgotten and obscure feature of early Windows 95 builds that lets you run Windows 3.1 in a window on Windows 95. Since then I was wondering if this would still work on the final build (950) of Windows 95, considering so much has changed since build 58s. I won't spoil it.

The shallowness of Google Translate

Monday 5th of February 2018 11:04:48 PM
Such a development would cause a soul-shattering upheaval in my mental life. Although I fully understand the fascination of trying to get machines to translate well, I am not in the least eager to see human translators replaced by inanimate machines. Indeed, the idea frightens and revolts me. To my mind, translation is an incredibly subtle art that draws constantly on one's many years of experience in life, and on one's creative imagination. If, some "fine" day, human translators were to become relics of the past, my respect for the human mind would be profoundly shaken, and the shock would leave me reeling with terrible confusion and immense, permanent sadness. As a translator myself, I can indeed confirm Google Translate is complete and utter garbage, but the idea that I would "mourn" the end of translators seems outlandish to me. The unstoppable march of technology has eliminated countless jobs over the course of human existence, and if translators are next, I don't see any reason to mourn the end of my occupation. Of course, it'd suck for me personally, but that's about it. That being said, I'm not afraid of running out of work any time soon. Google Translate's results are pretty terrible, and they only seem to be getting worse for me, instead of getting better. There's no doubt in my mind that machine translation will eventually get good enough, but I think it'll take at least another 20 years, if not more, to get there.

More in Tux Machines

GNOME and Fedora

  • RFC: Integrating rsvg-rs into librsvg
    I have started an RFC to integrate rsvg-rs into librsvg. rsvg-rs is the Rust binding to librsvg. Like the gtk-rs bindings, it gets generated from a pre-built GIR file.
  • 1+ year of Fedora and GNOME hardware enablement
    A year and a couple of months ago, Christian Schaller asked me to pivot a little bit from working full time on Fleet Commander to manage a new team we were building to work on client hardware enablement for Fedora and GNOME with an emphasis on upstream. The idea was to fill the gap in the organization where nobody really owned the problem of bringing up new client hardware features vertically across the stack (from shell down to the kernel), or rather, ensure Fedora and GNOME both work great on modern laptops. Part of that deal was to take over the bootloader and start working closer to customers and hardware manufacturing parnters.
  • Fedora Atomic Workstation: Works on the beach
    My trip is getting really close, so I decided to upgrade my system to rawhide. Wait, what ? That is usually what everybody would tell you not to do. Rawhide has this reputation for frequent breakage, and who knows if my apps will work any given day. Not something you want to deal with while traveling.
  • 4 cool new projects to try in COPR for February

Why You Shouldn’t Use Firefox Forks (and Proprietary Opera)

  • Why You Shouldn’t Use Firefox Forks Like Waterfox, Pale Moon, or Basilisk
    Mozilla Firefox is an open source project, so anyone can take its code, modify it, and release a new browser. That’s what Waterfox, Pale Moon, and Basilisk are—alternative browsers based on the Firefox code. But we recommend against using any of them.
  • Opera Says Its Next Opera Release Will Have the Fastest Ad Blocker on the Block
    Opera Software promoted today its upcoming Opera 52 web browser to the beta channel claiming that it has the faster ad blocker on the market compared to previous Opera release and Google Chrome. One of the key highlights of the Opera 52 release will be the improved performance of the built-in ad blocker as Opera claims to have enhanced the string matching algorithm of the ad blocker to make it open web pages that contain ads much faster than before, and, apparently than other web browsers, such as Chrome.

Graphics: Glxinfo, ANV, SPIR-V

  • Glxinfo Gets Updated With OpenGL 4.6 Support, More vRAM Reporting
    The glxinfo utility is handy for Linux users in checking on their OpenGL driver in use by their system and related information. But it's not often that glxinfo itself gets updated, except that changed today with the release of mesa-demos-8.4.0 as the package providing this information utility. Mesa-demos is the collection of glxinfo, eglinfo, glxgears, and utilities related to Mesa. With the Mesa-demos 8.4.0 it is predominantly glxinfo updates.
  • Intel ANV Getting VK_KHR_16bit_storage Support Wrapped Up
    Igalia's Jose Maria Casanova Crespo sent out a set of patches today for fixes that allow for the enabling of the VK_KHR_16bit_storage extension within Intel's ANV Vulkan driver. The patches are here for those interested in 16-bit storage support in Vulkan. This flips on the features for storageBuffer16BitAccess, uniformAndStorageBuffer16BitAccess, storagePushConstant16 and the VK_KHR_16bit_storage extension. This support is present for Intel "Gen 8" Broadwell graphics and newer. Hopefully the work will be landing in Mesa Git soon.
  • SPIR-V Support For Gallium3D's Clover Is Closer To Reality
    It's been a busy past week for open-source GPU compute with Intel opening up their new NEO OpenCL stack, Karol Herbst at Red Hat posting the latest on Nouveau NIR support for SPIR-V compute, and now longtime Nouveau contributor Pierre Moreau has presented his latest for SPIR-V Clover support. Pierre has been spending about the past year adding SPIR-V support to Gallium3D's "Clover" OpenCL state tracker. SPIR-V, of course, is the intermediate representation used now by OpenCL and Vulkan.

Security: Updates, Tinder, FUD and KPTI Meltdown Mitigation

  • Security updates for Friday
  • Tinder vulnerability let hackers [sic] take over accounts with just a phone number

    The attack worked by exploiting two separate vulnerabilities: one in Tinder and another in Facebook’s Account Kit system, which Tinder uses to manage logins. The Account Kit vulnerability exposed users’ access tokens (also called an “aks” token), making them accessible through a simple API request with an associated phone number.

  • PSA: Improperly Secured Linux Servers Targeted with Chaos Backdoor [Ed: Drama queen once again (second time in a week almost) compares compromised GNU/Linux boxes to "back doors"]
    Hackers are using SSH brute-force attacks to take over Linux systems secured with weak passwords and are deploying a backdoor named Chaos. Attacks with this malware have been spotted since June, last year. They have been recently documented and broken down in a GoSecure report.
  • Another Potential Performance Optimization For KPTI Meltdown Mitigation
    Now that the dust is beginning to settle around the Meltdown and Spectre mitigation techniques on the major operating systems, in the weeks and months ahead we are likely to see more performance optimizations come to help offset the performance penalties incurred by mitigations like kernel page table isolation (KPTI) and Retpolines. This week a new patch series was published that may help with KPTI performance.