Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 23rd Oct 2018 00:09 UTC, submitted by dboddie
RISC OS

RISC OS Open Ltd (ROOL) are hugely proud to announce that we will be working with RISC OS Developments (ROD), following their recent acquisition of the RISC OS intellectual property through the purchase of Castle Technology Ltd (Castle), in the next phase of the mission to reinvigorate the RISC OS market.

ROD will be working alongside community maintainers ROOL to republish the source code to this popular niche operating system under the Apache 2.0 License, in a move aimed at removing existing barriers to entry for developers from the open source community and enabling free-of-charge use in commercial products for the first time in RISC OS's history.

Great news for the RISC OS community, and I hope this ensures RISC OS will remain available to play and hack with for years and years to come.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Oct 2018 18:56 UTC
Windows

One of the downsides of Windows on ARM is the lack of third-party browser - Edge is one of the few choices you have. Sure, you can run x86 browsers through emulation, but preferably, you'd have native options.

One potential solution is an Arm port of Chrome, as opposed to emulating the desktop (x86) version of the browser, but is Qualcomm working on this?

"We are," Qualcomm senior director of product management Miguel Nunes told Android Authority on the sidelines of Arm TechCon. "We're still working with the different OEMs and designs. I expect you'll see it probably around (the) second half of next year. Every OEM will decide whatever their launch timeline is, but we're actively working on it."

I hope more people start building applications for Windows on ARM. I want ARM laptops (and possibly even desktops) to offer credible competition to Intel and AMD.

 



Linked by diegocg on Mon 22nd Oct 2018 18:47 UTC
Linux

Linux 4.19 has been released. This release adds support for the CAKE network queue management to fight bufferbloat, support for guaranteeing minimum I/O latency targets for cgroups, experimental support for the future Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax-drafts), memory usage for overlayfs users has been improved, a experimental EROFS file system optimized for read-only use, a new asynchronous I/O polling interface, support for avoiding unintentional writes to an attacker-controlled FIFO or regular files in world writable sticky directories, support for a Intel feature that locks part of the CPU cache for an application, and many other improvements and new drivers. For more details, see the complete changelog.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Oct 2018 18:43 UTC
Games

I recently learned that in the mid 90s in Japan, the Super Nintendo had a peripheral called a Satellaview, which was a satellite modem that would receive data broadcasts from Nintendo.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Probably not, but if you can beam satellite signals to a SNES, you can probably run Slack on it.

I love obscure game console accessoires.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Oct 2018 17:12 UTC
Internet & Networking

Roughly a year and a half later, Vivaldi has recently hit the 2.0 milestone. You can download the latest version from the Vivaldi site or install it through the app store or package manager of your OS. And at first blush, perhaps the most shocking thing about this release is that it's merely 2.0. This release is a throwback to an earlier time when version numbers had meaning, and a major number increment meant that something major had happened.

While the version number here does mean something, it's also perhaps a tad misleading. Under the hood, Vivaldi tracks Chromium updates, and, like Chrome and Firefox, it issues minor updates every six weeks or so. That means some of the features I'll be discussing as part of 2.0 actually trickled in over time, rather than arriving all together in one monolithic release. It also means that under the hood Vivaldi 2.0 uses Chromium 69.

Vivaldi is a great browser, and I'm glad such a power-user oriented browser - from the founder of Opera, unsurprisingly - still exists. I use it as my main browser every now and then just to see its state of development, and I'll be sure to give 2.0 another go for a few weeks.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 20th Oct 2018 22:54 UTC
Windows

Speaking of Windows' development process, the company has released another build for Windows Insiders, and it contains a small change I'm quite happy with.

In 19H1, we are adding the ability to uninstall the following (preinstalled) Windows 10 inbox apps via the context menu on the Start menu All Apps list:

  • 3D Viewer (previously called Mixed Reality Viewer)
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Groove Music
  • Mail
  • Movies & TV
  • Paint 3D
  • Snip & Sketch
  • Sticky Notes
  • Voice Recorder

I'd uninstall all of these except for Calculator, Mail, and Groove Music, so this is a great move - and long overdue. Next step (I hope): how about not preinstalling a whole bunch of junkware on vanilla Windows 10 installations? While I wasn't surprised, it still felt unpleasant to discover that my brand new €1850 Dell XPS 13 had garbage like the Windows Facebook application and some Sugar whatever games installed.

It's crazy that the applications preinstalled by Dell were all mostly useful and inoffensive, yet Microsoft installs a whole bunch of junk.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 20th Oct 2018 22:46 UTC
Windows

Developing a Chrome-like testing infrastructure for something as complicated and sprawling as Windows would be a huge undertaking. While some parts of Windows can likely be extensively tested as isolated, standalone components, many parts can only be usefully tested when treated as integrated parts of a complete system. Some of them, such as the OneDrive file syncing feature, even depend on external network services to operate. It's not a trivial exercise at all.

Adopting the principle that the Windows code should always be shipping quality - not "after a few months of fixing" but "right now, at any moment" - would be an enormous change. But it's a necessary one. Microsoft needs to be in a position where each new update is production quality from day one; a world where updating to the latest and greatest release is a no-brainer, a choice that can be confidently taken. Feature updates should be non-events, barely noticed by users. Cutting back to one release a year, or one release every three years, doesn't do that, and it never did. It's the process itself that needs to change: not the timescale.

The latest Windows feature update had to be pulled due to a serious data deletion bug, so it makes sense to take a good look at the development process of Windows, and what can be changed to prevent such problems from appearing again.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 19th Oct 2018 19:56 UTC
Android

After news earlier this week that Google was going to make sweeping changes to how it licenses Android within the European Union, The Verge now has the prices Google is going to charge.

EU countries are divided into three tiers, with the highest fees coming in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands. In those countries, a device with a pixel density higher than 500 ppi would have to pay a $40 fee to license Google's suite of apps, according to pricing documents. 400 to 500ppi devices would pay a $20 fee, while devices under 400 ppi would pay only $10. In some countries, for lower-end phones, the fee can be as little as $2.50 per device.

That's quite a bit more than I would've thought.

 

Linked by Feneric on Fri 19th Oct 2018 19:04 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

From the Byte Cellar:

What inspired me to pull the Model 4 down off the shelf were a number of tweets from telnet BBS pals showing the system being put to great use logged into various systems across the web. Some of the screenshots showed the machine rendering ANSI "graphics" onscreen and I looked into it. As I suspected, the stock Model 4 is not capable of taking on a custom character set such as is needed by ANSI emulation, and I discovered the system had been equipped with a graphics board and the ANSI-supporting terminal program, ANSITerm, was rendering "text" to a graphics display; the character set was basically a software font.

And I just had to go there.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 19th Oct 2018 18:58 UTC
Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with BuzzFeed News, went on the record for the first time to deny allegations that his company was the victim of a hardware-based attack carried out by the Chinese government. And, in an unprecedented move for the company, he called for a retraction of the story that made this claim.

I have zero reason to believe anything Apple or Tim Cook says on this matter. Apple is utterly and wholly dependent on the Chinese government, and assuming the Bloomberg story is 100% accurate, I doubt Tim Cook would openly side with Bloomberg and thus openly attack the Chinese government. Xi Jinping can literally make or break Apple - the American company cannot build its iPhones anywhere else, as not only would it take an utterly massive hit in its margins, it would take years - possibly even decades - to train the amount of staff needed to build that many iPhones. Apple simply has no choice but to bend over backwards for the Chinese government, which is why Apple readily hands over all of its Chinese customers' data to the Chinese government.

That being said, this doesn't automatically mean the Bloomberg story is 100% accurate. I don't believe in crazy conspiracy theories - conspiracy theories are dumb - about coordinated leaks by the Trump administration to discourage American companies from building their products in China. The Trump administration is wholly and utterly inept at doing anything and is held together only by a common desire to oppress women and minorities and sack America before the curtain falls, so I doubt they could even arrange a single secret meeting with Bloomberg journalists without Trump incoherently tweeting about it or somebody resigning over it.

The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, and only time will tell where, exactly, that middle lies.

 

Linked by Frank Schmidt on Fri 19th Oct 2018 18:41 UTC
X11, Window Managers

Arcan is a display server++ project that has been mentioned on OSNews a few times before. Arcan's developers recently posted an in-depth comparison of Arcan to Xorg - claiming to soon be not only at feature parity but beyond it.

It is worthwhile to stress that this project in no way attempts to 'replace' Xorg in the sense that you can expect to transfer your individual workflow and mental model of how system graphics works without any kind of friction or effort. That said, it has also been an unspoken goal to make sure that everything that can be done in an Xorg environment should be possible here - in general there is nothing wrong with the feature set in X (though a bit limited), it is the nitty gritty details of how these features work, are implemented and interact that has not really kept up with the times or been modelled in a coherent way. Thus, it is a decent requirement specification to start with - just be careful with the implementation and much more can be had to a fraction of the code size.

A fascinating read if you are familiar with some of the technical difficulties here.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Oct 2018 21:42 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu

Ubuntu 18.10 has been released.

The Linux 4.18 kernel together with updates in Mesa and X.org significantly improve game performance. Graphics support expands to AMD VegaM in the latest Intel Kabylake-G CPUs, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, B+ and Qualcomm Snapdragon 845.

Ubuntu 18.10 introduces the GNOME 3.30 desktop and Yaru, the new community-developed default theme. Fingerprint unlock functionality is featured for compatible PCs and the latest versions of Firefox, LibreOffice, and Chromium are included.

The full release notes are also available.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Oct 2018 21:39 UTC
OpenBSD

We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 6.4. This is our 45th release. We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of more than twenty years with only two remote holes in the default install.

As in our previous releases, 6.4 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Oct 2018 22:49 UTC
Legal

Three state treasurers and a top official from New York have joined a shareholders' motion to install an independent chairman at Facebook, claiming the move would improve governance and accountability.

[...]

The move comes as Facebook was presented with a new legal challenge. The technology company has been accused of misleading advertisers by inflating the viewing figures for videos on its site.

A group of US advertisers launched a fraud claim against the social media giant on Tuesday, stating that it had overstated the average viewing time of advertising videos on the site by between 100 and 900pc before reporting them in 2016.

All tech companies are pretty terrible as far as companies go, but Facebook really seems to be going out of its way to lead the pack. As far as I'm concerned, we shut it down. Would anyone really miss it?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Oct 2018 22:45 UTC
Apple

Let me take you back to 25 May, 1999.

One look at QuickTime 4.0 Player and one must wonder whether Apple, arguably the most zealous defender of consistency in user interface design, has abandoned its twenty-year effort to champion interface standards. As with IBM's RealThings, it would seem that appearance has taken precedence to the basic principles of graphical interface design. In an effort to achieve what some consider to be a more modern appearance, Apple has removed the very interface clues and subtleties that allowed us to learn how to use GUI in the first place. Window borders, title bars, window management controls, meaningful control labels, state indicators, focus indicators, default control indicators, and discernible keyboard access mechanisms are all gone. According to IBM's RealThings, and apparently to Apple, such items and the meaningful information they provide are merely "visual noise and clutter". While the graphical designer may be pleased with the result, the user is left in a state of confusion: unable to determine which objects are controls, which are available at any point in the interaction, how they are activated, where they may be located, and how basic functions can be performed.

Looking back, QuickTime 4.0 Player really signaled the end of proper GUI design at Apple. Up until that point, Apple had refined what became known as Platinum to a T - it was a beautifully consistent, logical, easy to use, and pleasant to look at UI. After introducing the world to 'brushed metal', Apple slowly slid downhill - and they've never been able to recover.

Fascinating to look back and read articles such as these, almost 20 years later.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Oct 2018 00:12 UTC
Android

There's a new phone with the word "Palm" on it that's tiny, intriguing, and has very little to do with Palm beyond that word printed on the back. It comes from a startup in San Francisco, which purchased the rights for the name from TCL last year. It costs $349.99 and will be available in November, but you can't go out and buy it on its own. It's only available as an add-on to a current line. Also, Steph Curry is somehow involved.

This is a rather interesting little device, as it seems one of the very phones focusing on being a small device that gets out of your way instead of trying to draw you in. I honestly don't understand the business model, though - who's going to buy a second $350 phone you can only get when you buy your primary phone? This seems doomed to fail, even though I'm sure there are quite a few people who'd love to buy a relatively cheap, well-designed full Android phone that isn't a surfboard.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Oct 2018 00:08 UTC
Linux

Elementary OS, a rather interesting Linux distribution with a very heavy focus on usability, has released its latest release.

elementary OS is made up of two main parts: the "desktop" which includes the core user experience, look and feel, and system pieces; and the apps that come with the OS out of the box. elementary OS 5 Juno includes major updates across several of these core apps.

Elementary OS is sometimes regarded as the macOS of the Linux world, as it aims to pretty much streamline and hide all the less user friendly aspects of using Linux to higher degree than even systems like Ubuntu or Linux Mint. They also consider design a central aspect, which does seem to bear fruit - Elementary looks incredibly attractive.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Oct 2018 00:03 UTC
Android

Google has detailed its response to the EU Android antitrust ruling, and going forward, Google's going to change quite a few things about how it distributes Android in the European Union.

First, we're updating the compatibility agreements with mobile device makers that set out how Android is used to develop smartphones and tablets. Going forward, Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area (EEA).

Second, device manufacturers will be able to license the Google mobile application suite separately from the Google Search App or the Chrome browser. Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the EEA. Android will remain free and open source.

Third, we will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome.

While I doubt we'll see a sudden increase in competing platforms, these changes do make it possible for device makers to offer devices that are less tied to Google alongside their regular Google Android devices. I can imagine OEMs offering devices that run Microsoft's growing suite of Android applications, which would be a good thing for competition.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Oct 2018 20:13 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces

At its annual Adobe Max conference, Adobe announced plans to bring a complete version of Photoshop to the iPad in 2019.

Photoshop CC for iPad will feature a revamped interface designed specifically for a touch experience, but it will bring the power and functionality people are accustomed to on the desktop.

This is the real, full photoshop - the same codebase as the regular Photoshop, but running on the iPad with a touch UI. The Verge's Dami Lee and artist colleagues at The Verge got to test this new version of Photoshop, and they are very clear to stress that the biggest news here isn't even having the "real" Photoshop on the iPad, but the plans Adobe has for the PSD file format.

But the biggest change of all is a total rethinking of the classic .psd file for the cloud, which will turn using Photoshop into something much more like Google Docs. Photoshop for the iPad is a big deal, but Cloud PSD is the change that will let Adobe bring Photoshop everywhere.

This does seem to be much more than a simple cash grab, and I'm very intrigued to see if Adobe finally taking the iPad serious as a computing platform will convince others to do so, too - most notably Apple.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Oct 2018 22:44 UTC
Microsoft

Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, philanthropist and owner of two professional sports teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers, died on Monday in Seattle. He was 65.

With Bill Gates being such a prominent figure, you'd almost always forget about Paul Allen. Our condolences to his friends and family.