Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Aug 2018 19:44 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

At last, R1/beta1 is nearly upon us. Only two non-"task" issues remain in the beta1 milestone, and I have prototype solutions for both. The buildbot and other major services have been rehabilitated and will need only minor tweaking to handle the new branch, and mmlr has been massaging the HaikuPorter buildmaster so that it, too, can handle the new branch, though that work is not quite finished yet.

So essentially all that stands between us and the release itself is a lot of testing, and more testing, and polishing all the little bits and pieces we've neglected along the way. I've already begun drafting the release notes, and the i18n translation tools have been synchronized with master, so even though the string freeze hasn't happened yet, the bulk of the translation work can begin.

I'm excited.

 

Linked by Sparrowhawk on Mon 20th Aug 2018 19:40 UTC
OS/2 and eComStation

The OS/2-derived ArcaOS is now up to version 5.0.3. This latest release appears to be mainly bug fixes and hardware compatibility enhancements.

ArcaOS 5.0.3 is (again) the result of many hours of collaborative work to keep up-to-date and to further refine ArcaOS 5.0. Post-install fixes are included, and these will be made available for separate download as part of the ArcaOS 5.0 Support & Maintenance subscription. In the interim, a full download of the refreshed media image is required to obtain all of these fixes and updates.

ArcaOS 5.0.3 includes over 40 updates and fixes since 5.0.2. The USB stick image package (available as a separate download for ArcaOS licensees with current support and maintenance subscription) has also been updated to incorporate the latest changes in ArcaOS 5.0.3.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Aug 2018 19:38 UTC
IBM

A mysterious full-length sound card recently arrived at the OS/2 Museum. It was clearly manufactured by IBM in 1985, and sports a 20 MHz Texas Instrument TMS32010 DSP (the DSP is the large black DIP chip near the lower left corner, not the ceramic gold cap chip).

I love a good hardware mystery.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Aug 2018 19:36 UTC
3D News, GL, DirectX

NVIDIA announced its new Turing video cards for gaming today, including the RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080, and RTX 2070. The cards move forward with an upgraded-but-familiar Volta architecture, with some changes to the SMs and memory. The new RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti ship with reference cards first, and partner cards about 1-3 months after that, depending on which partner it is. The board partners did not receive pricing or even card naming until around the same time as media, so expect delays in custom solutions.

A major upgrade, and pricing - starting at $599 for the 2070 - is entirely reasonable for a new generation. Might finally be time to upgrade my 1070 once EK Waterblocks releases waterblocks for these new cards.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Aug 2018 19:30 UTC
Windows

As a part of our Windows device life cycle, Microsoft Store will soon stop accepting new apps with Windows Phone 8.x or earlier or Windows 8/8.1 packages (XAP and APPX). Soon after that date, we will stop distributing app updates to Windows Phone 8.x or earlier and Windows 8/8.1 devices; at that time, updates will only be made available to customers using Windows 10 devices.

Application distribution to Windows 8/8.1 will cease 31 July, 2023.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Aug 2018 20:51 UTC
Intel

Looking inside the Intel 8087, an early floating point chip, I noticed an interesting feature on the die: the substrate bias generation circuit. In this articleI explain how this circuit is implemented, using analog and digital circuitry to create a negative voltage.

Intel introduced the 8087 chip in 1980 to improve floating-point performance on 8086/8088 computers such as the original IBM PC. Since early microprocessors were designed to operate on integers, arithmetic on floating point numbers was slow, and transcendental operations such as trig or logarithms were even worse. But the 8087 co-processor greatly improved floating point speed, up to 100 times faster. The 8087's architecture became part of later Intel processors, and the 8087's instructions are still a part of today's x86 desktop computers.

A detailed and very technical article.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Aug 2018 20:50 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y

The security benefits of keeping a system's trusted computing base (TCB)small has long been accepted as a truism, as has the use of internal protection boundaries for limiting the damage caused by exploits. Applied to the operating system, this argues for a small microkernel as the core of the TCB, with OS services separated into mutually-protected components (servers) - in contrast to "monolithic" designs such as Linux, Windows or MacOS. While intuitive, the benefits of the small TCB have not been quantified to date. We address this by a study of critical Linux CVEs, where we examine whether they would be prevented or mitigated by a microkernel-based design. We find that almost all exploits are at least mitigated to less than critical severity, and 40% completely eliminated by an OS design based on a verified microkernel, such as seL4.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Aug 2018 20:42 UTC
Internet & Networking

A Chinese software startup has become a laughing stock on Chinese social media after claiming to have developed China’s first fully homegrown browser only to be promptly exposed for copying Google.

I think it's entirely normal for countries - especially large ones - to press the "local products" angle, and I see nothing wrong with Chinese companies and consumers trying to run with the concept. However, try not to fall flat on your face like this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 15th Aug 2018 18:45 UTC
Window Managers

TinyWM is a tiny window manager that I created as an exercise in minimalism. It is also maybe helpful in learning some of the very basics of creating a window manager. It is only around 50 lines of C. There is also a Python version using python-xlib.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Aug 2018 22:34 UTC
Apple

There's a thriving market for unofficial, aftermarket iPhone parts, and in China, there are entire massive factories that are dedicated to producing these components for repair shops unable to get ahold of parts that have been produced by Apple.

The entire Apple device repair ecosystem is fascinating, complex, and oftentimes confusing to consumers given the disconnect between Apple, Apple Authorized Service Providers, third-party factories, and independent repair shops, so we thought we'd delve into the complicated world of Apple repairs.

Just as for cars, all repair and spare parts information should be publicly available to third party repair shops. The fact that this even has to be a shady business to begin with is preposterous.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Aug 2018 22:25 UTC
Apple

10 years later, the App Store isn't new anymore, and Apple continues to tweak its rules so that developers can create sustainable business models, instead of selling high-quality software for a few dollars or monetizing through advertising. If Apple can't make it worthwhile for developers to make high-quality utilities for the iPhone, then the vibrant software ecosystem that made it so valuable could decay.

Apple's main tool to fight the downward pricing pressure on iPhone apps is subscriptions.

The application store model is a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing since it made it very easy for developers to get their code to users, but that ease also caused the supply side of applications to grow exponentially. The end result is something we are all aware of - application stores are littered with garbage, prices of software have plummeted to unsustainable levels, which in turn has all but killed off the independent application developer. The top application lists are now dominated by either high-profile applications such as Facebook or Twitter, or predatory pay-to-win gambling "games". Doing any search in a modern application store reveals piles of useless junk.

The next step is obvious: Apple (and perhaps Google) will attempt an almost Netflix-like app subscription service, where you pay Apple a monthly fee for unlimited use of applications available in the store. It's the next step in milking the last possible drop out of third party developers, and while it will surely allow application store proponents to continue to claim the model is working, it's just a stay of execution.

Developing quality software is a time-consuming and expensive task, and the current application store model - with or without subscriptions - is simply incompatible with it. Either software delivery on modern computing devices gets rethought completely, or even the last remaining bits of quality software will simply disappear from application stores.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Aug 2018 18:53 UTC
3D News, GL, DirectX

Moments ago at NVIDIA's SIGGRAPH 2018 keynote presentation, company CEO Jensen Huang formally unveiled the company's much awaited (and much rumored) Turing GPU architecture. The next generation of NVIDIA's GPU designs, Turing will be incorporating a number of new features and is rolling out this year. While the focus of today's announcements is on the professional visualization (ProViz) side of matters, we expect to see this used in other upcoming NVIDIA products as well. And by the same token, today's reveal should not be considered an exhaustive listing of all of Turing's features.

If you've been holding off on upgrading a 10x0 or earlier card, you're about to be rewarded - at Gamescom next week, NVIDIA is expected to unveil the consumer cards based on the Turing architecture.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Aug 2018 18:49 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Recently, Intel bought Altera, one of the largest producers of FPGAs. Intel paid a whopping $16.7 billion, making it their largest acquisition ever. In other news, Microsoft is using FPGAs in its data centers, and Amazon is offering them on their cloud services. Previously, these FPGAs were mainly used in electronics engineering, but not so much in software engineering. Are FPGAs about to take off and become serious alternatives to CPUs and GPUs?

FPGAs are used extensively by e.g. the Amiga community to recreate older chipsets.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Aug 2018 22:40 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

So CEO Michael Dell presented shareholders with a $25 billion buyout that would take the company private, giving it space away from the public limelight (and pressure from investors) to rethink and reposition the struggling computer company for the future.

Fast-forward to 2018, and Dell's prospects seem far better. Dell is now worth an estimated $70 billion - nearly triple what the buyout valued it at five years ago - and it has announced a bid to return to the public sector in a $22 billion buyout. It’s an astounding transformation. Dell and his investment partners at Silver Lake transformed the company from a struggling consumer electronics company into an enterprise powerhouse.

It's indeed a pretty amazing turnaround. A few years ago, I would've never seriously considered a Dell. These days, though, their XPS 13 and 15 laptops are some of the best laptops you can get, with Linux editions available as well.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Aug 2018 18:13 UTC
IBM

The PC-RETRO Kit Beta (Catalog #PC-RETRO) is a hobby electronics kit for building a faithful reproduction of the classic IBM PC 5150 motherboard from 1982. We have been in development on this new product offering for over 1 year. We started with the original circuit diagrams, as published by IBM in their Technical Reference Manual. These open source circuit diagrams launched the explosion in PC clone products that followed the IBM PC introduction. Reverse engineering the original IBM board was a substantial undertaking, as we found many differences between the 'official' circuit diagrams and actual board construction. Additionally, you can imagine the complexity of trouble-shooting this board and verifying the correct operation! Not to mention the logistical challenge of sourcing the original vintage electronic parts. You will receive all the components to build a PC Motherboard exactly as shown here.

At a mere $189.50 (including international shipping; $149.50 for domestic US customers), this is an absolute steal. I'm very tempted to look into getting this, but my utter lack of even the most basic soldering skills makes me a little nervous. Might be a better idea to get some soldering test kits before attempting a project like this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Aug 2018 18:08 UTC
AMD

If you live by the workstation, you die by the performance. When it comes to processing data, throughput is key: the more a user can do, the more projects are accomplished, and the more contracts can be completed. This means that workstation users are often compute bound, and like to throw resources at the problem, be it cores, memory, storage, or graphics acceleration. AMD’s latest foray into the mix is its second generation Threadripper product, also known as Threadripper 2, which breaks the old limit on cores and pricing: the 2990WX gives 32 cores and 64 threads for only $1799. There is also the 2950X, with 16 cores and 32 threads, for a new low of $899. We tested them both.

Do I need a Threadripper machine for my job? Nope. Do I want a Threadripper machine for my job? Hell yes. The AnandTech review of the Threadripper 2 line is in, so sit back and enjoy the pretty numbers.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Aug 2018 18:03 UTC
Google

Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.

An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you've used privacy settings that say they will prevent it from doing so.

Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP's request.

Is anyone really surprised by this? Everything tracks you. Your smartphone, your smartphone's operating system, the applications that run on it, the backend services it relies upon, the carrier it uses, and so on. Even feature phones are tracked by your carrier, and of course, even without a phone, countless cameras will pinpoint where you are just fine.

This ship has sailed, and there's nothing we can do about it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 12th Aug 2018 19:17 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

What you're seeing above is the first Palm smartphone since the Pre 3 was announced in 2011. Currently codenamed 'Pepito,' this new handset is headed for Verizon, and it's the possibly the weirdest Android phone of 2018. Sporting a tiny 3.3-inch 720p LCD screen, Pepito is easily the smallest Android device in years to be sold in the USA, and probably one of the smallest in the world. The diminutive size doesn't end at the display - this phone will have a tiny 800mAh battery, we've been able to confirm. That probably doesn't make this phone much of an all-day device, and it really is a bit of a head-scratcher.

The Pepito is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor and, oddly, has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage according to our source. Of course, it's possible there could be multiple storage and RAM SKUs depending on region and operator. We don't have any information about where this device is being released aside from Verizon here in America.

Not the highest-specced phone, but I like the elegant design and tiny size - bucks the trend, really, in a welcome way. The logo needs some work though.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 11th Aug 2018 20:26 UTC
Multimedia, AV

Given its appearance in one form or another in all but the cheapest audio gear produced in the last 70 years or so, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the ubiquitous VU meter is just one of those electronic add-ons that's more a result of marketing than engineering. After all, the seemingly arbitrary scale and the vague "volume units" label makes it seem like something a manufacturer would slap on a device just to make it look good. And while that no doubt happens, it turns out that the concept of a VU meter and its execution has some serious engineering behind that belies the really simple question it seeks to answer: how loud is this audio signal?

I love analog VU meters, and I'm kind of sad regular, non-professional music equipment has done away with them entirely.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 11th Aug 2018 16:25 UTC, submitted by Kochise
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Some x86 CPUs have hidden backdoors that let you seize root by sending a command to an undocumented RISC core that manages the main CPU, security researcher Christopher Domas told the Black Hat conference here Thursday (Aug. 9).

The command - ".byte 0x0f, 0x3f" in Linux - "isn't supposed to exist, doesn't have a name, and gives you root right away," Domas said, adding that he calls it "God Mode."

The backdoor completely breaks the protection-ring model of operating-system security, in which the OS kernel runs in ring 0, device drivers run in rings 1 and 2, and user applications and interfaces ("userland") run in ring 3, furthest from the kernel and with the least privileges. To put it simply, Domas' God Mode takes you from the outermost to the innermost ring in four bytes.

That's one hell of a bug.