Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Apr 2018 22:03 UTC
General Development

Honestly, I don't think the Atari 2600 BASIC has ever had a fair review. It's pretty much reviled as a horrible program, a horrible programming environment and practically useless. But I think that's selling it short. Yes, it's bad (and I'll get to that in a bit), but in using it for the past few days, there are some impressive features on a system where the RAM can't hold a full Tweet and half the CPU time is spent Racing The Beam. I'll get the bad out of the way first.

Input comes from the Atari Keypads, dual 12-button keypads. If that weren't bad enough, I'm using my keyboard as an emulated pair of Atari Keypads, where I have to keep this image open at all times.

Okay, here's how this works.

An older story - it's from 2015 - but fascinating nonetheless.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Apr 2018 22:32 UTC
Windows

It looked like Windows 10 build 17133 was going to be blessed as the 1803 update, but that plan has been derailed. Though the build was pushed out to Windows Insiders on the release preview ring - an action that, in the past, has indicated that a build is production ready - it turns out that it had a bug causing blue screens of death.

Microsoft could likely have addressed the situation with an incremental update, but for whatever reason, it didn't. Instead, we have a new build, 17134. This build is identical to 17133 except that it fixes the particular crashing issue. Fast ring Insiders have the build now, and it should trickle out to Slow ring and Release Preview ring shortly. If all goes well, the build will then make its way out to regular Windows users on the stable release channel.

Microsoft's various rings for Windows testing seem to be really paying off. They give testers a lot of flexibility in just how bleeding edge they wish to be, and they make it very easy to change between the various levels, while also providing people like me - who really don't have the time to actively test and report bugs - a safe and easy way to get big updates a few weeks before it hits mainstream.

So basically what Linux distributions have been doing for two decades.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Apr 2018 22:27 UTC
Intel

The company is announcing two specific TDT features. The first is "Advanced Memory Scanning." In an effort to evade file-based anti-virus software, certain kinds of malware refrain from writing anything to disk. This can have downsides for the malware - it can't persistently infect a machine and, instead, has to reinfect the machine each time it is rebooted - but makes it harder to spot and analyze. To counter this, anti-malware software can scan system memory to look for anything untoward. This, however, comes at a performance cost, with Intel claiming it can cause processor loads of as much as 20 percent.

This is where Advanced Memory Scanning comes into effect: instead of using the CPU to scan through memory for any telltale malware signatures, the task is offloaded to the integrated GPU. In typical desktop applications, the GPU sits there only lightly loaded, with abundant unused processing capacity. Intel says that moving the memory scanning to the GPU cuts the processor load to about two percent.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Apr 2018 22:22 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

It was supposed to be the laptop that saved the world.

In late 2005, tech visionary and MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte pulled the cloth cover off a small green computer with a bright yellow crank. The device was the first working prototype for Negroponte's new nonprofit One Laptop Per Child, dubbed "the green machine" or simply "the $100 laptop". And it was like nothing that Negroponte's audience - at either his panel at a UN-sponsored tech summit in Tunis, or around the globe - had ever seen.

The OLPC was all the rage and hype for a few years back then, but it never materialised. Still, while not nearly the same thing, cheap mobile phones and smartphones have played a somewhat similar role.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Apr 2018 01:51 UTC
ReactOS

ReactOS 0.4.8 has been released, and its biggest new feature is experimental support for NT6+ applications.

With software specifically leaving NT5 behind, ReactOS is expanding its target to support NT6+ (Vista, Windows 8, Windows 10) software. Colin, Giannis and Mark are creating the needed logic in NTDLL and LDR for this purpose. Giannis has finished the side-by-side support and the implicit activation context, Colin has changed Kernel32 to accept software made for NT6+, and Mark keeps working on the shim compatibility layer. Although in a really greenish and experimental state, the new additions in 0.4.8 should start helping several software pieces created for Vista and upwards to start working in ReactOS. Microsoft coined the term backwards compatibility, ReactOS the forward compatibility one.

There's tons of other improvements, as well.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Apr 2018 01:49 UTC
Android

On the right you can see photos of a Coolpad Modena 2, which was built around MediaTek's MT6735P SoC (System on a chip). In case you are wondering why we're not showing a picture with postmarketOS running on it: we can't! This is because the vendor decided to ship it with a closed down bootloader, which prevents users from running custom kernels.

The postmarketOS team details how they are cracking open the bootloader and the cellular modem firmware on MediaTek-based devices.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Apr 2018 01:45 UTC
Mac OS X

It's perplexing that this flagship feature of macOS 10.13.4 feels so incomplete. Sure, we've come a long way since enthusiasts were hacking it together with help from online forums, but more work needs to be done to ensure a consistent experience. We wouldn't advise going out and buying an enclosure just yet, but we nevertheless see reasons in the performance gains to be hopeful that we could recommend it at some point in the future.

It seems strange to me that switching GPUs - even external ones - is such an arduous process. It seems this process is more seemless on Windows. On macOS it seems each and every applications needs to be modified to add support for it, whereas on Windows, the operating system itself takes care of it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Apr 2018 01:37 UTC
Multimedia, AV

64kB intros, 64k for short, are like demos but with an added arbitrary limitation on the size: they must fit entirely within a single binary file of no more than 65536 bytes. No extra assets, no network, no extra libraries: the usual rule is that it should run on a freshly installed Windows PC with up to date drivers.

This is crazy.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 13th Apr 2018 22:58 UTC, submitted by MikeB
Amiga & AROS

Trevor Dickinson of A-EON Technology compares the performance of the newly released game Tower57 on various AmigaOne configurations running AmigaOS 4.1 and PowerPC Macs running MorphOS:

It's probably no surprise that the AmigaOne X5000/20 comes out on top by quite a margin. The AmigaOne X1000 was no slowcoach either and pushed the G5 PowerMac into third place in my tests. It was also really good to see the AmigaOne A1222 giving the 2.5 Ghz PowerMac a run for its money. However, the really good news is that all of the Amiga Next-generation machines compared favourably with the commercial Steam release and were all very playable.

I'm quite surprised by the performance of MorphOS 3.10 on my PowerBook G4 1.33Ghz - even on its paltry 512MB RAM (upgraded yesterday to 2GB). The browser is quite worrisome due to WebKit not being built anymore for PowerPC/big endian so it's quite slow, but everything else is quite smooth. I'm planning on upgrading the mechanical hard drive to an SSD for an additional little boost, but it's nice to see that such old machines can be revived with something other than a custom Linux installation.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 13th Apr 2018 22:50 UTC, submitted by Doeke
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Cloudflare, which operates a content delivery network it also uses to provide DDoS protection services for websites, is in the middle of a push to vastly expand its global data center network. CDNs are usually made up of small-footprint nodes, but those nodes need to be in many places around the world.

As it expands, the company is making a big bet on ARM, the emerging alternative to Intel’s x86 processor architecture, which has dominated the data center market for decades.

The money quote from CloudFlare's CEO:

"We think we're now at a point where we can go one hundred percent to ARM. In our analysis, we found that even if Intel gave us the chips for free, it would still make sense to switch to ARM, because the power efficiency is so much better."

Intel and AMD ought to be worried about the future. Very worried. If I were them, I'd start work on serious ARM processors - because they're already missing out on mobile, and they're about to start missing out on desktops and servers, too.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 13th Apr 2018 22:46 UTC
AMD

Today marks the initial start of AMD's pre-sale of 2nd Generation Ryzen processors. The full launch is set for April 19th, which is when reviews and performance numbers will be officially available, but today we are able to tell you a bit about the processors that are coming, as well as some pictures, and link readers to where they can pre-order. We're not overly fond of manufacturers offering pre-orders before revealing performance numbers, as with the Threadripper launch last year, however we can at least discuss the details of each part.

Good to see AMD continue improving Ryzen.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Apr 2018 22:42 UTC, submitted by emmzee
Android

Google has long struggled with how best to get dozens of Android smartphone manufacturers - and hundreds of carriers - to regularly push out security-focused software updates. But when one German security firm looked under the hood of hundreds of Android phones, it found a troubling new wrinkle: Not only do many Android phone vendors fail to make patches available to their users, or delay their release for months; they sometimes also tell users their phone's firmware is fully up to date, even while they've secretly skipped patches.

On Friday at the Hack in the Box security conference in Amsterdam, researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell of the firm Security Research Labs plan to present the results of two years of reverse-engineering hundreds of Android phones' operating system code, painstakingly checking if each device actually contained the security patches indicated in its settings. They found what they call a "patch gap": In many cases, certain vendors' phones would tell users that they had all of Android's security patches up to a certain date, while in reality missing as many as a dozen patches from that period - leaving phones vulnerable to a broad collection of known hacking techniques.

Android is a mess.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Apr 2018 22:39 UTC
Games

Growing up in the era of the Nintendo Entertainment System, I always wanted to create my own NES game. I scribbled ideas in notebooks, mapped out levels on graph paper and spent countless hours composing my own MIDI-based soundtracks to games that didn't exist. These ideas were lost to time until 2018, until I watched Joe Granato's documentary, The New 8-bit Heroes, about his quest to create the game of his childhood dreams. Now, with the successfully funded Kickstarter for his NESMaker software, the project may help to simplify the creation of homebrew NES games. Joe isn't the first one to do this, however, as homebrew has a long and storied history. Today's Tedium seeks to explore this corner of NES history and the creation of NES games over 20 years after the end of the system's commercial life.

 

Linked by garyd on Thu 12th Apr 2018 22:36 UTC
Google

Google has posted the beginnings of a documentation project around their microkernel based OS, Fuchsia. From the readme:

This document is a collection of articles describing the Fuchsia operating system, organized around particular subsystems. Sections will be populated over time.

 

Linked by uridium on Tue 10th Apr 2018 22:49 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The HP 9000 Series of computers spanned almost three decades and very diverse platforms of Unix computers. Both RISC and Unix, with a longer history, were developed into coherent products during the 1980s, moving from academia via industrial R&D to productization at a time when much computing was still done on mainframes, minicomputers and time-sharing machines such as DEC PDP, VAX, IBM AS/400 and System/360.

Paul Weissmann tells the story of the development and history of the HP9000.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th Apr 2018 10:25 UTC
Windows

The Windows File Manager lives again and runs on all currently supported version of Windows, including Windows 10. I welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions.

Open source under an MIT-license, and runs on modern versions of Windows. This is certainly a blast from the past.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th Apr 2018 10:22 UTC
Windows

I first gave up on Windows Phone back in December 2014. Microsoft's mobile platform was being left behind, and I was tired of not getting access to the apps everyone else was using. It took Microsoft a few years to finally admit Windows Phone is dead, and the company is no longer planning to release any new hardware running its mobile OS or update it with any features. I recently switched on an old Windows Phone to create a silly April Fools' joke about returning to using it as my daily device, and then it hit me: I really miss Windows Phone.

He's not alone. I loved the way Windows Phone worked and felt, but sadly, it just didn't have the applications, and Microsoft's various transitions really hurt the platform too. Too bad - it was innovative and fresh.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Apr 2018 00:13 UTC
Morphos

You have installed MorphOS to a compatible machine, but... now what? You could always go and install a pre-configured package like Chrysalis, but you would end up with a system configured for someone else's taste and you still wouldn't know how to actually use the operating system. If you are in this situation and would like to learn how MorphOS works, this is a tutorial for you! The tutorial will guide you through the things you should do and notice after a fresh install, with practical examples from basic configuration options to installing new software. It won't cover all the details and is just an opinion on how to proceed, but it should give you some knowledge how to continue on your own and make your own decisions.

I bought a used PowerBook last weekend - a 17" PowerBook G4 1.33Ghz with 512MB RAM with 2GB on the way - specifically for MorphOS and its recent 3.10 release, and I'm having a total blast. This guide is a great first stop after installing MorphOS, as is the accompanying tips and tricks article. Amiga-like operating systems have some very unique paradigms and ways of doing things, and articles like these really ease you into them, while offering a first few glimpses into the absolutely insane amount of customization options they offer.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Apr 2018 00:13 UTC
Intel

Intel first launched its 8th-generation branding last year. In the mobile space, we had the U-series Kaby Lake-R: four-core, eight-thread chips running in a 15W power envelope. On the desktop, we had Coffee Lake: six-core, 12-thread chips. In both cases, the processor lineup was limited: six different chips for the desktop, four for mobile.

Those mobile processors were joined earlier this year by Kaby Lake-G: four-core, eight-thread processors with a discrete AMD GPU on the same package as the processor.

Today, Intel has vastly expanded the 8th generation lineup, with 11 new mobile chips and nine new desktop processors, along with new 300-series chipsets.

Intel's naming scheme is a bit of a mess, isn't it? At this point I really have no idea what is what without consulting charts and tables. Can all the bright minds at Intel really not devise a more sensible naming scheme?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Apr 2018 00:07 UTC
Apple

At its launch back in 2010, the iPad was heavily criticized for being a big iPhone. iOS 11 and the iPad Pro proved that wasn't the case. Things further diverged with the introduction of the iPhone X, which has led to some confusion for anyone who regularly uses an iPad. I've been using an iPhone X and iPad Pro together for nearly six months now, and I often feel lost when moving back and forth between the devices - one with a physical home button, the other with webOS-like gestures. The result is a vastly different user experience, even though they run the same version of iOS on large rectangles of glass.

I also use both an iPhone X and an iPad Pro 12.9", and I actually don't see this as a problem at all. The two devices are vastly different, and I use them in completely different ways - one as a smartphone, the other as a laptop - so it only makes sense to use them differently. Forcing the iPad into the same gestures and UI as the iPhone only leaves it hamstrung; it restricts the iPad into being an oversized iPhone, while what I want is for the iPad to gain more and more features from classic operating systems like macOS and Windows.