Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Sep 2018 23:02 UTC
Features, Office

I've been programming for 15 years now. Recently our industry's lack of care for efficiency, simplicity, and excellence started really getting to me, to the point of me getting depressed by my own career and the IT in general.

Modern cars work, let's say for the sake of argument, at 98% of what's physically possible with the current engine design. Modern buildings use just enough material to fulfill their function and stay safe under the given conditions. All planes converged to the optimal size/form/load and basically look the same.

Only in software, it's fine if a program runs at 1% or even 0.01% of the possible performance. Everybody just seems to be ok with it. People are often even proud about how much inefficient it is, as in "why should we worry, computers are fast enough".

A bit ranty here and there, but this entire "old man yells at cloud" article is very much music to my ears. Software is bad. We expect software to be bad. We accept that software is bad. We make excuses why software is bad. We tell people it's okay that software is bad. We say it is inevitable that software is bad.

If any other industry were as lax about quality and performance as the software industry, we'd be up in arms.

 

Linked by skalk on Mon 24th Sep 2018 22:56 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Sculpt is an open-source general-purpose OS based on the Genode framework. It combines a microkernel architecture, capability-based security, sandboxed device drivers, and hardware-virtualized guests in a novel operating system for commodity x86-64 hardware.

The third version of Sculpt OS is now available under codename Sculpt VC. It is based on Genode OS framework release 18.08. "Sculpt with Visual Composition" takes a step forward to turn Sculpt into a useable system for a wider audience. It features a graphical user interface for performing fundamental tasks like connecting to a wireless network, or installing and running software from packages. However, the full power of the system is still accessible only via a textual interface. A detailed description of the usage and structure of Sculpt VC can be found in its documentation.

Sculpt VC is available in form of an USB stick image thats boots on bare metal x86 hardware. The image has a size of 24 MiB only. Alternatively, a virtual appliance for VirtualBox is provided.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Sep 2018 22:52 UTC
Mac OS X

With macOS Mojave, Apple is adding support to run UIKit apps on macOS without the requirement of rewriting the UI in AppKit. While this isn’t yet something that's officially supported for third-party developers, let's explore what to expect in 2019 and how to try it out today.

Coincidentally, macOS Mojave has been released today as well, so head on over to the Mac App Store and update your Macs.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Sep 2018 20:02 UTC
Microsoft

Microsoft is unveiling an ambitious effort to overhaul its search experience in Office, Windows, Bing and more today. Dubbed Microsoft Search, the new search experience will first start appearing on Bing and Office.com today. Bing isn't going away, but Microsoft Search is the new name for a combination of Bing and the search results you might expect to find in Windows applications. It's designed to combine traditional search results with commands, app features, and personalized results. Search is being moved to a central area in Office apps, allowing Excel users to find commands and features in results alongside documents and other search results.

I've never been a fan of combining web and local search results on my operating system's search tool - the two are clearly separated in my mind and I regard them as two entirely different and distinct entities. I'm sure I'm revealing my age here, and that younger generations don't perceive this distinction at all, but I'm just hoping I can turn this off.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Sep 2018 19:14 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Recently, I paid $12 at Mingtong Digital Mall for a complete phone, featuring quad-band GSM, Bluetooth, MP3 playback, and an OLED display plus keypad for the UI. Simple, but functional; nothing compared to a smartphone, but useful if you’re going out and worried about getting your primary phone wet or stolen.

[...]

How is this possible? I don't have the answers, but it's something I'm trying to learn. A teardown yields a few hints.

These are amazing products for a specific niche, and the young teenager in me who got his first cellphone at 13 marvels at the price of this thing.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Sep 2018 19:10 UTC
General Development

In an assembly language we typically don't have to worry very much about the distinction between pointers and integers. Some instructions happen to generate addresses whereas others behave arithmetically, but underneath there's a single data type: bitvectors. At the opposite end of the PL spectrum, a high-level language won't offer opportunities for pointer/integer confusion because the abstractions are completely firewalled off from each other. Also, of course, a high-level language may choose not to expose anything that resembles a pointer.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 21st Sep 2018 18:28 UTC
Google

Google bosses have forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed explosive details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, The Intercept has learned.

The memo, authored by a Google engineer who was asked to work on the project, disclosed that the search system, code-named Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location - and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have "unilateral access" to the data.

These are the requirements set forth by the Chinese government that you must fulfil in order to do business of this kind in China. It's the same reason why Apple handed over all of its iCloud data to a company owned and run by the Chinese government - if you want to make money in China, you have to play by their rules. It just goes to show that while these companies make romp and stomp about caring about the privacy of western users, said care goes right out the window if it means they can make more money. Your privacy does not matter - only money matters.

And yes, they will do the same thing here in the west the moment it's financially advantagous for them to do so.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 21st Sep 2018 17:58 UTC
Mac OS X

Some more light reading, right in time for the weekend - the 147 pages long reference to APFS.

Apple File System is the default file format used on Apple platforms. Apple File System is the successor to HFS Plus, so some aspects of its design intentionally follow HFS Plus to enable data migration from HFS Plus to Apple File System. Other aspects of its design address limitations with HFS Plus and enable features such as cloning files, snapshots, encryption, and sharing free space between volumes. Most apps interact with the file system using high-level interfaces provided by Foundation, which means most developers don't need to read this document. This document is for developers of software that interacts with the file system directly, without using any frameworks or the operating system - for example, a disk recovery utility or an implementation of Apple File System on another platform. The on-disk data structures described in this document make up the file system; software that interacts with them defines corresponding in-memory data structures.

This document could prove quite useful to developers who might wish to add APFS compatibility to for instance Linux.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Sep 2018 23:36 UTC
FreeBSD

After using UNIX for so many years I knew that I could freeze (or pause) any process in the system with kill -17 (SIGSTOP) signal and then unfreeze it with with kill -19 (SIGCONT) signal as I described in the Process Management section of the Ghost in the Shell - Part 2 article. Doing it that way for the desktop applications is PITA to say the least. Can you imagine opening xterm terminal and searching for all Chromium or Firefox processes and then freezing them one by one every time you need it? Me neither.

Fortunately with introduction of so called X11 helper utilities - like xdotool(1) - it is now possible to implement it in more usable manner.

Today I will show you how to freeze any X11 application with single keyboard shortcut or mouse gesture if you utilize them in any way with small simple script.

Handy little trick. The entire series of articles by the same author about FreeBSD on the desktop are interesting and informative reads.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Sep 2018 23:31 UTC
Benchmarks

AnandTech benchmarked the new RTX graphics cards, and concludes:

So where does that leave things? For traditional performance, both RTX cards line up with current NVIDIA offerings, giving a straightforward point-of-reference for gamers. The observed performance delta between the RTX 2080 Founders Edition and GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition is at a level achievable by the Titan Xp or overclocked custom GTX 1080 Ti’s. Meanwhile, NVIDIA mentioned that the RTX 2080 Ti should be equal to or faster than the Titan V, and while we currently do not have the card on hand to confirm this, the performance difference from when we did review that card is in-line with NVIDIA's statements.

The easier takeaway is that these cards would not be a good buy for GTX 1080 Ti owners, as the RTX 2080 would be a sidegrade and the RTX 2080 Ti would be offering 37% more performance for $1200, a performance difference akin upgrading to a GTX 1080 Ti from a GTX 1080. For prospective buyers in general, it largely depends on how long the GTX 1080 Ti will be on shelves, because as it stands, the RTX 2080 is around $90 more expensive and less likely to be in stock. Looking to the RTX 2080 Ti, diminishing returns start to kick in, where paying 43% or 50% more gets you 27-28% more performance.

Neither of the two new RTX cards seem to be particularly smart purchases at this point - the 2080 barely performs any better than a 1080 Ti, and while the 2080 Ti does offer a decent performance improvement over the 1080 Ti, it's also $1200. You might want to wait to see if NVIDIA's raytracing efforts pay off and gets adopted in video games, and if said raytracing features don't suck too much performance.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Sep 2018 21:23 UTC
Windows

Today we're very pleased to announce that an optimised Ubuntu Desktop image is available from the Hyper-V gallery. This will give an optimum experience when running Ubuntu Desktop as a guest on a Windows 10 Pro desktop host. From the Ubuntu Report data we know that a lot of people are using Ubuntu as a virtual machine, and so we want to make that experience as seamless as possible.

This is probably the most seamless way to run an Ubuntu virtual machine on Windows.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Sep 2018 21:19 UTC
Internet & Networking

The power to make significant decisions in the AMP Project will move from a single Tech Lead to a Technical Steering Committee (TSC) which includes representatives from companies that have committed resources to building AMP, with the end goal of not having any company sit on more than a third of the seats.

Google is moving the AMP project to a new, more open governance model, which should address some of the valid concerns people have over the project's Google-centric nature. Google is further exploring creating a separate foundation for AMP, to further solidify the independent nature of AMP. Meanwhile, Microsoft is also adopting AMP by redirecting Bing search results to AMP pages.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Sep 2018 22:08 UTC
QNX

This work concerns a dissection of QNX's proprietary, real-time operating system aimed at the embedded market. QNX is used in many sensitive and critical devices in different industry verticals and while some prior security research has discussed QNX, mainly as a byproduct of BlackBerry mobile research, there is no prior work on QNX exploit mitigations and secure random number generators. In this work, carried out as part of the master's thesis of the first author, we present the first reverse-engineering and analysis of the exploit mitigations, secure random number generators and memory management internals of QNX versions up to and including QNX 6.6 and the brand new 64-bit QNX 7.0 released in March 2017. We uncover a variety of design issues and vulnerabilities which have significant implications for the exploitability of memory corruption vulnerabilities on QNX as well as the strength of its cryptographic ecosystem.

This scientific article is not for people with short attention spans.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Sep 2018 22:04 UTC
General Development

The release contains the work on trunk up to SVN revision 338536 plus work on the release branch. It is the result of the community's work over the past six months, including: function multiversioning in Clang with the 'target' attribute for ELF-based x86/x86_64 targets, improved PCH support in clang-cl, preliminary DWARF v5 support, basic support for OpenMP 4.5 offloading to NVPTX, OpenCL C++ support, MSan, X-Ray and libFuzzer support for FreeBSD, early UBSan, X-Ray and libFuzzer support for OpenBSD, UBSan checks for implicit conversions, many long-tail compatibility issues fixed in lld which is now production ready for ELF, COFF and MinGW, new tools llvm-exegesis, llvm-mca and diagtool. And as usual, many optimizations, improved diagnostics, and bug fixes.

The release notes have all the details.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Sep 2018 22:01 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Does Lenovo put backdoors in if the Chinese government asks?

"If they want backdoors globally? We don't provide them. If they want a backdoor in China, let's just say that every multinational in China does the same thing.

"We comply with local laws. If the local laws say we don't put in backdoors, we don't put in backdoors. And we don't just comply with the laws, we follow the ethics and the spirit of the laws."

This shouldn't surprise anyone, really. At this point, it's pretty safe to assume that any major technology company selling products in China are putting backdoors into their products sold in China. Microsoft, Apple, phone makers - China is simply too powerful and important to ignore.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 18th Sep 2018 22:38 UTC
Google

Google built a prototype of a censored search engine for China that links users' searches to their personal phone numbers, thus making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people's queries, The Intercept can reveal.

The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, was designed for Android devices, and would remove content deemed sensitive by China's ruling Communist Party regime, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.

Don't be evil.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Sep 2018 23:17 UTC
Linux

Linus Torvalds on the lkml:

This is my reality. I am not an emotionally empathetic kind of person and that probably doesn't come as a big surprise to anybody. Least of all me. The fact that I then misread people and don't realize (for years) how badly I've judged a situation and contributed to an unprofessional environment is not good.

This week people in our community confronted me about my lifetime of not understanding emotions. My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times when I made it personal. In my quest for a better patch, this made sense to me. I know now this was not OK and I am truly sorry.

The above is basically a long-winded way to get to the somewhat painful personal admission that hey, I need to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development entirely.

I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately.

Actions speak louder than words, so we'll see if this sudden realisation will lead to anything tangible.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Sep 2018 23:11 UTC
Apple

With iOS 12, Apple wants to rectify iOS' performance woes, proving to their customers that iOS updates should never induce digital regret. Perhaps more notably though, iOS 12 doesn't have a single consumer feature that encapsulates this release - like Messages might have been for iOS 10 or the iPad for iOS 11. Instead, iOS 12 is a constellation of enhancements revolving around the overarching theme of time. Apple in 2018 needs more time for whatever the next big step of iOS may be; they want iOS users to understand how much time they're spending on their devices; and they want to help users spend less time managing certain system features. Also, funnily enough, saving time is at the core (and in the very name) of iOS 12's most exciting new feature: Shortcuts.

iOS 12 isn't Apple's Snow Leopard release: its system changes and updated apps wouldn't justify a "No New Features" slide. However, for the first time in years, it feels as if the company is happy to let its foot off the gas a little and listen to users more.

Will the plan work?

Federico Viticci's iOS reviews have become one of my favourite things about new iOS releases. They are detailed, thorough, fun to read, and lovingly crafted. So, after you're done updating your iOS devices - iOS 12, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12 have all been released today - grab yourself a coffee or tea and enjoy.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Sep 2018 20:50 UTC
Amiga & AROS

C64 OS has one goal. Make a Commodore 64 feel fast and useful in today's modern world.

It's a very high bar. The C64 was introduced in 1982 and has an 8-bit, 1MHz, 6510 CPU with just 64 kilobytes of directly addressable memory. It has a screen resolution of 320x200 pixels, and a fixed palette of 16 colors. But, it is an incredibly versatile machine. And it enjoys an active userbase and a great variety of modern hardware expansions.

The C64 has had many operating systems written for it, So why write another?

Some of these projects were designed to be experimental, or to demonstrate a point, rather than to solve a problem or to make using the C64 better. Others had good intentions but pushed the machine in ways it wasn't designed for, compromising on speed and usability in the pursuit of features available on more powerful computers. The aim of C64 OS is to work with the limitations of the Commodore 64 and enable it to become useful.

It never ceases to amaze me how much functionality programmers can squeeze out of old micros.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Sep 2018 20:46 UTC
3D News, GL, DirectX

It's been roughly a month since NVIDIA's Turing architecture was revealed, and if the GeForce RTX 20-series announcement a few weeks ago has clued us in on anything, is that real time raytracing was important enough for NVIDIA to drop "GeForce GTX" for "GeForce RTX" and completely change the tenor of how they talk about gaming video cards. Since then, it's become clear that Turing and the GeForce RTX 20-series have a lot of moving parts: RT Cores, real time raytracing, Tensor Cores, AI features (i.e. DLSS), raytracing APIs. All of it coming together for a future direction of both game development and GeForce cards.

In a significant departure from past launches, NVIDIA has broken up the embargos around the unveiling of their latest cards into two parts: architecture and performance. For the first part, today NVIDIA has finally lifted the veil on much of the Turing architecture details, and there are many. So many that there are some interesting aspects that have yet to be explained, and some that we'll need to dig into alongside objective data. But it also gives us an opportunity to pick apart the namesake of GeForce RTX: raytracing.

AnandTech's deep dive into NVIDIA's new Turing architecture - the only one you really need.