Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 19th Sep 2017 21:52 UTC
Apple

iOS 11 has been released, and if you have an iPhone or iPad, you should really update right now. It's a big release, and especially iPad users will get to enjoy an overhauled user experience on their tablets. If you're not convinced, be sure to read the only two reviews you need: the one by fervent and enthusiastic (his enthusiasm for the iPad is infectious, in a good way) iPad user Federico Viticci, and the Ars Technica review written by Andrew Cunningham.

I've been using the betas on my 2017 iPad Pro 12.9", and it truly transforms how you use the iPad, to the point where I can use mine comfortably for work (translating, posting OSNews stories - like this one - and so on). No macOS or Windows laptop is as responsive and fluid as this iPad Pro, and the battery life of this machine is so good, it's probably illegal in 12 US states. Unlike macOS or Windows, I don't have to spend time fighting with iOS 11 to get it to do what I want, like fidgeting with windows, or anxiously managing battery life because otherwise I won't get through a day, or manage applications. And trust me, there's no PC - not even my own €4000 monster PC - that is as fluid and responsive as this iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro with iOS 11 is the truest realisation yet of it just works.

I'm not going to claim this is for everyone, or that you should ritually sacrifice your ThinkPad and run to the Apple Store and get the iPad Pro. However, after a few months of use, there's no way I'm ever going back to a traditional laptop. That being said - my only complaint about the 2017 iPad Pro 12.9" is an odd one: it's not a mobile device.

I am a sit down behind my desk kind of person. I work and compute behind a desk, with a large display at eye height and a comfortable chair. The iPad Pro isn't suited for this kind of work, as it forces you to look down, which due to back problems I cannot do for longer periods of time. What I really want is a small iOS box I can hook up a display, keyboard, and mouse to. Apple already makes such a box - the Apple TV - so I know they can do it. Mouse and keyboard support is probably coming to iOS over the coming years, and with the Mac Mini languishing, it feels like they might be working on just such a box.

I'd easily pay €500-700 for such a machine.

I know stating iOS is a great general purpose computing platform tends to be controversial - I myself have been skeptical about this very thing for years - but iOS 11 and the iPad Pro have utterly convinced me. This is the platform I want for laptop and desktop computer use. Windows and macOS feel like the past now.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 19th Sep 2017 09:58 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Talos recently observed a case where the download servers used by software vendor to distribute a legitimate software package were leveraged to deliver malware to unsuspecting victims. For a period of time, the legitimate signed version of CCleaner 5.33 being distributed by Avast also contained a multi-stage malware payload that rode on top of the installation of CCleaner. CCleaner boasted over 2 billion total downloads by November of 2016 with a growth rate of 5 million additional users per week. Given the potential damage that could be caused by a network of infected computers even a tiny fraction of this size we decided to move quickly. On September 13, 2017 Cisco Talos immediately notified Avast of our findings so that they could initiate appropriate response activities. The following sections will discuss the specific details regarding this attack.

Don't use registry cleaners. They serve no purpose.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 19th Sep 2017 09:55 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

If you're a demanding computer user, sometimes your 13-inch Ultrabook laptop just won't quite cut it. For those looking for a little more computing power, HP's new Z8 workstation could be just the answer. The latest iteration of HP's desktop workstations packs in a pair of Intel Skylake-SP processors, topping out with twinned Xeon Platinum 8180 chips: 28 cores/56 threads and 38.5MB cache each running at 2.5-3.8GHz, along with support for up to 1.5TB RAM.

Next year, you'll be able to go higher still with the 8180M processors; same core count and speeds, but doubling the total memory capacity to 3TB, as long as you want to fill the machine's 24 RAM slots.

Those processors and memory can be combined with up to three Nvidia Quadro P6000 GPUs or AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100 parts if you prefer that team. The hefty desktop systems have four internal drive bays, two external (and a third external for an optical drive), and nine PCIe slots. Storage options include up to 4TB of PCIe-mounted SSD, and 48TB of spinning disks. A range of gigabit and 10 gigabit Ethernet adaptors are available; the machines also support 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. Thunderbolt 3 is available with an add-in card.

This is one hell of a beast of a machine, and something most of us will never have the pleasure to use. That being said - I've always been fascinated by these professional workstations, and the HP ones in particular. Current models are obviously way out of my price range, but older models - such as a model from the Z800 range - are more attainable.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Sep 2017 21:27 UTC
Apple

I have become the unofficial standard bearer for webOS, the operating system created by Palm for the Pre and its successive devices. It was a wildly innovative and smart foundation for a smartphone done in by performance problems, mediocre hardware, and most of all by US carriers who acted as kingmakers for other companies.

So as the bearer of a thoroughly-tattered banner, I’ve been hearing a lot of people ask what I thought about the iPhone X and how it borrows many of the ideas first introduced by Palm. Here’s what I think: it’s great, and also it’s silly compare the state of tech in 2017 with the state of tech in 2009. Just because Palm did some stuff first doesn’t take away from Apple is doing them now. Context matters, and our context today is very different.

WebOS had some great ideas, but on a technical level, the operating system was a mess. It was a major battery hog, slow, and basically nothing more than a tech demo made in WebKit on top of a largely unmodified Linux kernel, running on mediocre hardware. WebOS wasn't a product worthy of the Palm name.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Sep 2017 21:20 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source

Digital services offered and used by public administrations are the critical infrastructure of 21st-century democratic nations. To establish trustworthy systems, government agencies must ensure they have full control over systems at the core of our digital infrastructure. This is rarely the case today due to restrictive software licences.

Today, 31 organisations are publishing an open letter in which they call for lawmakers to advance legislation requiring publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made available under a Free and Open Source Software licence.

Good initiative, and a complete and utter no-brainer. Public money, public code.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Sep 2017 21:13 UTC
Google

Zircon is the core platform that powers the Fuchsia OS. Zircon is composed of a microkernel (source in kernel/...) as well as a small set of userspace services, drivers, and libraries (source in system/...) necessary for the system to boot, talk to hardware, load userspace processes and run them, etc. Fuchsia builds a much larger OS on top of this foundation.

Google changed the name for this project from Magenta to Zircon, which seems like an opportune time to highlight it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 14th Sep 2017 22:11 UTC
Windows

Today, we are thrilled to unveil the next step in our journey for Windows Server graphical management experiences. In less than two weeks at Microsoft Ignite, we will launch the Technical Preview release of Project "Honolulu", a flexible, locally-deployed, browser-based management platform and tools.

Project "Honolulu" is the culmination of significant customer feedback, which has directly shaped product direction and investments. With support for both hybrid and traditional disconnected server environments, Project "Honolulu" provides a quick and easy solution for common IT admin tasks with a lightweight deployment.

I've never managed any servers, so it's difficult for me to gauge how useful of popular tools like these are. What is the usual way people manage their servers?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 14th Sep 2017 22:08 UTC
Games

Metroid, which debuted in 1986, would go on to spawn one of Nintendo's most-revered franchises. The ongoing adventures of bounty hunter Samus Aran differed quite a bit from the company's other big names, like Zelda and Mario. In comparison, Metroid was dark and solemn, with a looming feeling of isolation and a powerfully alien sense of place, inspired in large part by the first Alien film. It was also a game that felt unique in its structure. While Metroid was a 2D, side-scrolling game, it took place in an expansive, interconnected world. Players could explore in a nonlinear fashion, and would often have to return to areas using newfound abilities.

The game went on to spawn a number of beloved follow-ups, including the sublime Super Metroid in 1994, and the Metroid Prime spinoff series that transformed the 2D adventures into a first-person, 3D experience. Most recently, Nintendo is set to release Metroid: Samus Returns on the Nintendo 3DS, the first traditional side-scrolling Metroid in nearly a decade. But the importance of Metroid can be seen in more than the games released by Nintendo. The series has also had a profound influence on gaming as a whole, inspiring a generation of designers along the way.

I ordered a special edition New 3DS XL just for the new Samus Returns. The Metroid series is one of my favourite series in gaming, and many of them are classics all of us have played at some point in our lives. Personally, I greatly prefer the 2D, side-scrolling Metroid games, as the series foray into 3D/FPS - the Prime series - fell a bit flat to me.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 14th Sep 2017 09:05 UTC
Legal

The world has become like an eerily banal dystopian novel. Things look the same on the surface, but they are not. With no apparent boundaries on how algorithms can use and abuse the data that's being collected about us, the potential for it to control our lives is ever-growing.

Our drivers' licenses, our keys, our debit and credit cards are all important parts of our lives. Even our social media accounts could soon become crucial components of being fully functional members of society. Now that we live in this world, we must figure out how to maintain our connection with society without surrendering to automated processes that we can neither see nor control.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 13th Sep 2017 21:56 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

If you value the security of your data - your email, social media accounts, family photos, the history of every place you've ever been with your phone - then I recommend against using biometric identification.

Instead, use a passcode to unlock your phone.

Can't argue with that - especially in place where law enforcement often takes a... Liberal approach to detainees.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 13th Sep 2017 16:40 UTC
Apple

With the iPhone X revealed, we really have to start talking about its processor and SoC - the A11 Bionic. It's a six-core chip with two high-power cores, four low-power cores, and this year, for the first time, includes an Apple-designed custom GPU. It also has what Apple calls a Neural Engine, designed to speed up tasks such as face recognition.

Apple already had a sizeable performance lead over competing chips from Qualcomm (what Android phones use) in single-core performance, and the A11 blasts past those in multicore performance, as well. Moreover, the A11 also performs better than quite a number of recent desktop Intel chips from the Core i5 and i7 range, which is a big deal.

For quite a few people it's really hard to grasp just how powerful these chips are - and to a certain extent, it feels like much of that power is wasted in an iPhone, which is mostly doing relatively mundane tasks anyway. Now that Apple is also buildings its own GPUs, it's not a stretch to imagine a number of mobile GPU makers feeling a bit... Uneasy.

At some point, these Apple Ax chips will find their way to something more sizable than phones and tablets.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th Sep 2017 23:11 UTC
Mac OS X

Aside from new iPhones, theres more Apple news - the company has set release dates for iOS 11 - 19 September - and macOS High Sierra - 25 September. I can't say much about High Sierra - I don't have a Mac - but iOS 11 is an absolute must, especially for iPad users. I've been using it for a long time now on my 2017 iPad Pro 12.9", and I haven't looked back to my laptop since buying it and installing iOS 11 on it.

iOS 11 is a huge leap forward for the iPad, and it'll make your tablet feel like a new, and much more capable device.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th Sep 2017 19:30 UTC
Apple

Apple held its iPhone event today, but since the three major leaks got everything right - read our previous items on the leaks to get the full details - there's really not much to add here, other than the pricing for the new iPhones. The 'regular' iPhone 8 will be about €50 more expensive this year, so take that into account when planning your upgrade. The iPhone X (pronounced "ten" by Apple, "ex" by people with good taste), however, carries a very hefty pricetag, especially in Europe and the UK - the base 64GB model is $999 in the US, and a staggering €1159 in Europe (and an equally staggering £999 in the UK).

I think it's definitely a nice looking phone, and can certainly hold its own against other small-bezel phones from Samsung, LG, and others (especially others), but especially outside of the US, that's one hell of a price tag. Going over the magic €1000 mark feels like crossing a psychological threshold from high-end brand new smartphone territory into high-end brand new laptop territory, and that's a tough pill to swallow.

The additional problem here is that the iPhone 8 simply looks outdated compared to all the minimal bezel phones of this year, and certainly so next to the iPhone X in stores for the iOS users among us. I'm up for contract renewal, and since I'm the kind of person to switch platforms about once a year, I was definitely interested in switching to iOS again by buying the iPhone X. However, that €1159 price tag is way, way beyond the outer limit of my comfort zone.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 9th Sep 2017 12:03 UTC
Apple

9to5Mac is reporting on a leak of the iOS 11 GM release, which details quite a few things about the new iPhone we could only rumour and guess about up until now.

Here we go. W're digging through the iOS 11 GM we received this evening to unpack what we can learn about the D22 'iPhone 8' and the rest of the lineup ahead of Apple's big unveiling on Tuesday. It looks like the infamous HomePod leak left a few surprises for us after all.

The first discovery is a stunning set of new wallpapers coming with iOS 11 and the first look at the LTE Apple Watch. Next up: new and confirmed features coming to the OLED iPhone.

This is a major leak, and confirms several of the final details regarding the iPhone Pro or iPhone X or whatever the more expensive iPhone will be called. The leak confirms the removal of any form of home button - phyisical or virtual - replacing it with a gesture-based UI, as we talked about before. The power switch will also gain some new features, allowing you to set it up to control things like Siri and Apple Pay. iOS 11 also comes with animated animal emojis, which is a sentence that makes me sad. Among many more things I could link to, the leak also reveals how Face ID - the replacement for Touch ID - will work, and how to set it up.

The HomePod leak, the recent Bloomberg story by Mark Gurman, and now this GM leak basically leaves nothing left to the imagination - aside from the name and perhaps pricing. Update: and we have the name too: iPhone X. Apple listened to me (this is a joke).

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Sep 2017 23:45 UTC
Legal

Equifax Inc. today announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based on the company's investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. The company has found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax's core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.

Names, social security numbers, birthdays, addresses, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers - this is a very big breach.

Interestingly enough, three executives of the credit reporting agency sold their shares in the company days after the breach was discovered.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Sep 2017 23:31 UTC
General Development

This release is the result of the community's work over the past six months, including: C++17 support, co-routines, improved optimizations, new compiler warnings, many bug fixes, and more.

The release notes contain more details.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Sep 2017 16:10 UTC, submitted by henderson101
Apple

Remember when Scotty Allen built his own iPhone from parts bought in Shenzhen? This time around, he ups the ante and adds a headphone jack to an iPhone 7. He had to design his own custom circuit board, have it printed, and build it into his iPhone 7. It's an amazing project, and it's an incredibly interesting 30 minute video.

I've spent the past four months in Shenzhen, China, modifying an iPhone 7 to add a fully functional headphone jack. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time anyone has done anything like this.

In April, I decided to finally upgrade my iPhone 6s to an iPhone7 to get better camera quality for the videos I was shooting when I was out on adventures in the industrial markets and manufacturing world. But I was super annoyed that it doesn't have a headphone jack! I already have headphones I really liked, and I didn’t like the idea of having to keep track of an adapter just to use them.

So I figured I'd add my own - after all, how hard could it be?

It turns out, really really hard. But possible.

He sent the circuit board he designed and built to Apple, and open sourced all the schematics needed so those with the right tools and expertise can build it at home.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Sep 2017 11:08 UTC
Google Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Vivalvi (and former CEO of Opera):

Recently, our Google AdWords campaigns were suspended without warning. This was the second time that I have encountered this situation. This time, however, timing spoke volumes.

I had several interviews where I voiced concerns about the data gathering and ad targeting practices - in particular, those of Google and Facebook. They collect and aggregate far too much personal information from their users. I see this as a very serious, democracy-threatening problem, as the vast targeting opportunities offered by Google and Facebook are not only good for very targeted marketing, but also for tailored propaganda. The idea of the Internet turning into a battlefield of propaganda is very far away from the ideal.

Two days after my thoughts were published in an article by Wired, we found out that all the campaigns under our Google AdWords account were suspended - without prior warning. Was this just a coincidence? Or was it deliberate, a way of sending us a message?

Large technology companies have an immense amount of control over and influence on our society, far more than they - or anyone else, for that matter - care to admit. We're way past the point where governments should step in and start to correct this dangerous situation. It's time for another breakup of the Bell System. It's time we, as society, take a long, hard look at corporations - in tech and elsewhere - and ask ourselves if we really want to be subject to the control of organisations we effectively have no democratic control over.

I'm not a proponent of nationalisation, but I am a proponent of breaking up Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly others (I'm sticking to technology for now) to severely limit their power and influence. The products and services these companies create have become too important and too vital to the functioning of our society, and they should be treated as such.

It wouldn't be the first time we, as society, decide a certain product has become too vital to leave in corporations' unrestricted hands.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 4th Sep 2017 22:20 UTC, submitted by Jaikrishnan
Android

Ars has a very detailed review - more of an in-depth deconstruction, to be honest, and that's a good thing - of Android 8.0 Oreo.

Take a closer look at Oreo and you really can see the focus on fundamentals. Google is revamping the notification system with a new layout, new controls, and a new color scheme. It's taking responsibility for Android security with a Google-branded security solution. App background processing has been reined in, hopefully providing better battery life and more consistent performance. There's even been some work done on Android's perpetual update problem, with Project Treble allowing for easier update development and streaming updates allowing for easier installation by users. And, as with every release, more parts of Android get more modularized, with emojis and GPU driver updates now available without an OS update.

Saving this one for tomorrow.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 4th Sep 2017 22:16 UTC
Oracle and SUN

Remember, back in December 2016, when there were rumours Oracle was killing Solaris? And how a month later, Solaris effectively switched to maintenance mode, and then to a "continuous deliver model"?

The news from the ex-Sun community jungle drums is that the January rumours were true and Oracle laid off the core talent of the Solaris and SPARC teams on Friday. That surely has to mean a maintenance-only future for the product range, especially with Solaris 12 cancelled. A classic Oracle "silent EOL", no matter what they claim.

With the hardware deprecated, my guess is that's the last of the Sun assets Oracle acquired written off. Just how good were Oracle's decisions on buying Sun?

Sun's Solaris is dead.

Bryan Cantrill on this news (this Bryan Cantrill):

As had been rumored for a while, Oracle effectively killed Solaris on Friday. When I first saw this, I had assumed that this was merely a deep cut, but in talking to Solaris engineers still at Oracle, it is clearly much more than that. It is a cut so deep as to be fatal: the core Solaris engineering organization lost on the order of 90% of its people, including essentially all management.

[...]

Judging merely by its tombstone, the life of Solaris can be viewed as tragic: born out of wedlock between Sun and AT&T and dying at the hands of a remorseless corporate sociopath a quarter century later. And even that may be overstating its longevity: Solaris may not have been truly born until it was made open source, and - certainly to me, anyway - it died the moment it was again made proprietary. But in that shorter life, Solaris achieved the singular: immortality for its revolutionary technologies. So while we can mourn the loss of the proprietary embodiment of Solaris (and we can certainly lament the coarse way in which its technologists were treated!), we can rejoice in the eternal life of its technologies - in illumos and beyond!