Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Apr 2018 23:58 UTC
Google

Here's all you need to know about Google's year-long secretive development of Linux app functionality in Chrome OS, also known as Project Crostini.

In a nutshell, it's a way to run regular Linux applications on Chrome OS without compromising security or enabling developer mode. The (not yet available) official setting states that it's to "Run Linux tools, editors, and IDEs on your Chromebook."

Crostini is a culmination of several years of development that enabled the functionality to run securely enough to meet Chrome OS's high-security standards. To understand why it's only just appearing, it's best to look at what came before.

This should make easy to manage, safe, and secure ChromeBooks infinitely more attractive to developers.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Apr 2018 22:38 UTC, submitted by markee174
RISC OS

It was a glorious sunny day in Wakefield and a very upbeat RISC OS show with lots of interesting hardware and software. You can see some show pictures, and here are my show notes if you were not able to attend.

A detailed description of the Wakefield 2018 RISC OS show.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Apr 2018 22:35 UTC
OpenBSD

Let me preface this by saying that this is a (very) long and medium-rare technical article about the security considerations and minutiae of porting (most of) the Arcan ecosystem to work under OpenBSD. The main point of this article is not so much flirting with the OpenBSD crowd or adding further noise to software engineering topics, but to go through the special considerations that had to be taken, as notes to anyone else that decides to go down this overgrown and lonesome trail, or are curious about some less than obvious differences between how these things "work" on Linux vs. other parts of the world.

You know you're getting something good with a preface like this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Apr 2018 22:32 UTC
Google

Email is a necessity for most of us. We use it to stay in touch with colleagues and friends, keep up with the latest news, manage to-dos at home or at work - we just can't live without it. Today we announced major improvements to Gmail on the web to help people be more productive at work. Here's a quick look at how the new Gmail can help you accomplish more from your inbox.

A major redesign of the Gmail web interface is now available for testing.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Apr 2018 19:45 UTC
Games

Nintendo Switch has been hacked, with two similar exploits released in the last 24 hours following a complete dump of the console's boot ROM. The hacks are hardware-based in nature and cannot be patched by Nintendo. The only way forward for the platform holder in fully securing the console will be to revise the Nvidia Tegra X1 processor itself, patching out the boot ROM bug. In the short term, homebrew code execution is possible and a full, touch-enabled version of Linux with 3D acceleration support is now available.

I'm a little hesitant to try this out on my own Switch out of fear of messing it up and leaving me with a bricked console, but this is great news for the homebrew community.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Apr 2018 19:20 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

Haiku's monthly activity report for March is out has been out for weeks now, and it contains some interesting nuggets as the team moves closer to beta, but one stood out to me:

Kalisti5 got the PowerPC build working again. It is still not possible to boot PowerPC images very far, but at least it is now possible to compile them, and our buildbots are now happily doing so.

I find it interesting that there's people at Haiku still working on PowerPC support. It'd be interesting if they ever manage to support Apple PowerPC hardware, if only to offer yet another choice besides MorphOS.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Apr 2018 19:15 UTC
Windows

Windows 10 Lean appears to live up to its name: an installation is about 2GB smaller than Windows 10 Pro, and it is missing a bunch of things, such as desktop wallpaper, Registry Editor, the MMC management console, and more. Lucan reports that Lean does not seem to apply the same restrictions as S Mode, and as such it is capable of running both Universal Windows Programs from the Store and traditional Win32 applications.

The latest build also has some new telephony APIs, which is fueling speculation of a Surface Phone.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Apr 2018 21:47 UTC
Apple

Regardless, the Fifth Age of the Macintosh is at hand. We just don’t know what form it’ll take. The first age began with the original 1984 Mac. The second age was marked by maturity and stability of the environment that came with Mac System Software 6 in 1988. 2001’s OS X did nothing less than save the entire platform. And when Apple finally figured out notebooks - around 2006-2008, with the introductions of the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air - the company brought the sexy back to the Mac.

Which brings us to Five.

The next major step could be a revolutionary spin on the Mac that goes way beyond merely keeping pace with modern computing and makes the Mac into an influential platform once more. We can even dare to hope that by building its own CPUs, consolidating the Mac’s hardware design further, and incorporating iPad manufacturing methods, Apple can finally produce a great Mac that sells for way under $900.

Or, it could be equally significant as The Last Version Of MacOS That Apple Ever Ships.

I have a distinct feeling - and I've had that feeling for years now - that something big is about to happen to the Mac. I do not believe that the Mac as we know it today will be around for much longer; what form it will take, exactly, is up for debate, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the platform slowly but surely move towards ARM, probably from the bottom (MacBook Air) to the top (Mac Pro). MacOS and iOS aren't going to become unified in the sense they're the same on an iPhone and a Mac, but they will run the exact same applications, just with different UIs depending on the input method (and screen size) used.

The upcoming Mac Pro might very well be the last traditional x86 Apple workstation.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Apr 2018 21:39 UTC
Apple

If you ask anyone who knows me, I'm probably the biggest Apple fan they know. Ask for a suggestion of what computer to get, and I'll almost certainly either tell you the MacBook Pro, or to wait, because Apple is about to update its hardware finally.

But recently, I realized I'd gotten tired of Apple's attitude toward the desktop. The progress in macOS land has basically been dead since Yosemite, two years ago, and Apple's updates to the platform have been incredibly small. I'm a developer, and it seems to me Apple doesn't pay any attention to its software or care about the hundreds of thousands of developers that have embraced the Mac as their go-to platform.

Something's obviously afoot in Mac land.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Apr 2018 17:34 UTC
Geek stuff, sci-fi...

There is a borderland between waking life and the uncharted wilderness of sleep that we all traverse each night, but we rarely stop to marvel at the strangeness of this liminal world. If we do, we find that it is full of hallucinations both wonderful and terrifying, a mental goulash of reality and fantasy.

Usually we pass through this state of half-wakefulness on our way to deep sleep within minutes. We may experience microdreams during the transition, but the content of these microdreams appear to be random and we usually don't have any memory of them when we wake. A team of researchers led by MIT doctoral candidate Adam Horowitz wants to change that.

Horowitz and his colleagues at the MIT Media Lab have developed a relatively simple device called Dormio to interface with this unique stage of sleep. Their hypothesis is that this liminal period between wakefulness and sleep is a fount of creativity that is usually lost in the ocean of sleep. The thinking is that if you’re able to descend into that stage of sleep and return to consciousness without descending deeper into sleep, you will benefit from the intensely associative thinking that characterizes the strange microdreams experienced during the transition to sleep.

There's so much we don't know about sleeping, dreaming, and the brain as a whole, that I'd be quite nervous about using devices like these before we have a better understanding of our brain. Still, if it works, this is quite cool.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Apr 2018 17:24 UTC, submitted by Jonathan Schleifer
Amiga & AROS

After porting ObjFW (and at the same time Objective-C) to MorphOS and starting to port it to AmigaOS 4, I thought: It's nice to have Objective-C on a modern Amiga-like operating system. But what if we could have it on the real thing? And thus, I ported it to AmigaOS 3 today.

These are cool developments for the Amiga world.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 22nd Apr 2018 15:18 UTC
In the News

Terminals have a special place in computing history, surviving along with the command line in the face of the rising ubiquity of graphical interfaces. Terminal emulators have replaced hardware terminals, which themselves were upgrades from punched cards and toggle-switch inputs. Modern distributions now ship with a surprising variety of terminal emulators. While some people may be happy with the default terminal provided by their desktop environment, others take great pride at using exotic software for running their favorite shell or text editor. But as we'll see in this two-part series, not all terminals are created equal: they vary wildly in terms of functionality, size, and performance.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 22nd Apr 2018 15:08 UTC
Legal

The Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into potential coordination by AT&T, Verizon and a telecommunications standards organization to hinder consumers from easily switching wireless carriers, according to six people with knowledge of the inquiry.

In February, the Justice Department issued demands to AT&T, Verizon and the G.S.M.A., a mobile industry standards-setting group, for information on potential collusion to thwart a technology known as eSIM, said two of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are confidential.

The problem, of course, is that in the US, these carriers bribe corrupt politicians to enact laws to hinder competition, for instance by making community broadband initiatives illegal. I doubt investigations like these will do anything to fix the root cause.

But hey, it's a start.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 21st Apr 2018 03:56 UTC
Android

Ars Technica takes a good look at Android Go, and concludes:

The best thing about Android Go is that it doesn't force anything on users. If you're like me and find Google Maps Go to be nearly useless, you are totally free to download the full version of Google Maps. Because of this, Android Go is never an "inferior" version of Android. In the current builds, at least, it's purely a lighter, less resource-intensive version of Android. If you can't stand the functionality reduction, you can easily fix it by downloading the full versions of apps.

However scattershot the overall package seems, Android Go does succeed in lowering the bar for what it takes to run Android. It's certainly more useful than something like Firefox OS or Tizen. Hardware this is cheap still doesn't result in a user experience I can call "good" though. If you can afford something better, spend the extra money.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Apr 2018 22:52 UTC
Windows

How much does adding somewhat frivolous animations to an OS matter? I'm not sure, but I do know that users of Windows will be very vocal as Microsoft experiments with adding them to Windows 10.

In Windows 10 Redstone 5 (due fall 2018) I expect Microsoft to continue to refine, improve, and make more consistent UI elements in Windows 10. That includes adding more animations to simple behaviors like the Action Center, but I can already see push back.

I know that especially among the kind of people who read OSNews, "animations" in UI design tends to be a very dirty word. I very much do not belong to that group of people, since I adore proper, well-thought out use of animations in UI design, such as the fun little touches in Material Design, the pivots and slides in Windows Phone's Metro, and yes, the brand new flourishes in Microsoft's Fluent Design, which is currently making its way to Windows 10 users all around the world.

I'm fine with being in the minority here on this one - to each their own.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Apr 2018 22:46 UTC
Multimedia, AV FFmpeg 4.0 has been released, and it's a major one. Since this particular subject matter - and its changelog - are way beyond the scope of my capabilities, I'll just leave you with the generic description of the project (in case you live under a rock).

FFmpeg is the leading multimedia framework, able to decode, encode, transcode, mux, demux, stream, filter and play pretty much anything that humans and machines have created. It supports the most obscure ancient formats up to the cutting edge. No matter if they were designed by some standards committee, the community or a corporation. It is also highly portable: FFmpeg compiles, runs, and passes our testing infrastructure FATE across Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, the BSDs, Solaris, etc. under a wide variety of build environments, machine architectures, and configurations.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Apr 2018 21:21 UTC
Android

The Verge has a big exclusive - Google has managed to corral carriers into supporting something called the "Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services", or Chat, which basically replaces SMS in every Android phone.

top-tier Android phone can cost upwards of a thousand dollars, and for that money, you'll get some amazing features. It will have a stellar screen, top-flight camera, gobs of storage, and an absolutely atrocious texting experience.

Most people in the world, whether they buy an iPhone or an Android phone, dump all the preinstalled chat applications into a junk folder, install WhatsApp or WeChat (or Telegram in repressive dictatorships like Russia and Iran), and forget this American obsession with iMessage vs. Google's 238437 chat apps even exists.

That being said.

Now, the company is doing something different. Instead of bringing a better app to the table, it's trying to change the rules of the texting game, on a global scale. Google has been quietly corralling every major cellphone carrier on the planet into adopting technology to replace SMS. It's going to be called "Chat", and it's based on a standard called the "Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services". SMS is the default that everybody has to fall back to, and so Google's goal is to make that default texting experience on an Android phone as good as other modern messaging apps.

Sounds like something they should've done ten years ago, but as you dive further into the details, a whole bunch of huge red flags pop up:

But remember, Chat is a carrier-based service, not a Google service. It's just "Chat", not "Google Chat". In a sign of its strategic importance to Google, the company has spearheaded development on the new standard, so that every carrier's Chat services will be interoperable. But, like SMS, Chat won't be end-to-end encrypted, and it will follow the same legal intercept standards. In other words: it won't be as secure as iMessage or Signal.

In the current political and societal climate, the lack of end-to-end encryption is absolutely bonkers. Obviously, there's no encryption because carriers (and our governments) want to snoop on our communications, but with end-to-end encrypted options readily available, why even bother going 2-3 years back in time?

If you're still trying to wrap your head around the idea that Google won't have a standalone consumer chat app, well, so am I. "The fundamental thesis behind the RCS protocol is it's a carrier service," Sabharwal says. That means that the carriers will be the final arbiters of what Chat can and can't do - and whether it will be successful. The good news is that Google appears to have herded all the carrier cats into a box where their Chat services will actually be interoperable.

Isn't the point to get away from under carrier control, not slide back under it?

I just don't see how such an archaic service like this will ever gain any traction, when most of the world has already settled on its chat service, mostly dictated by what your friends and family uses. Without end-to-end encryption and while under carrier control, this service seems like a massive step backward - not forward.

 

Linked by MikeB on Fri 20th Apr 2018 16:10 UTC
Morphos

Morph.Zone reports:

Dan Wood of kookytech.net has published a new MorphOS video that shows some of the new features of MorphOS 3.10 and demonstrates how to change the look of MorphOS in two easy to follow steps.

Also the lastest issue of Amiga print magazine Amiga Future has a review of MorphOS 3.10 (reading excerpt).

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Apr 2018 16:08 UTC
AMD

The headline results for the new processors are that they offer more performance than AMD’s first generation of Ryzen, use the same socket, are offered at similar prices, are competitive with the competition, and come bundled with some nice coolers. While the new Ryzen 2000-series processors are not enough to cause anyone that has already invested in Ryzen 1000-series to upgrade, AMD is offering a very attractive proposition to anyone two-to-three generations (or more) behind to upgrade into a high performance system.

AMD's strong run in processors continues.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 19th Apr 2018 19:29 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces

Look at this screenshot of MacPaint from the mid-1980s. Now look at this screenshot of a current version of Microsoft Excel for Mac. Finally, consider just how different the two applications actually are. The former is a 30-year-old black and white first party application for painting while the latter is a current and unabashedly third party application for creating spreadsheets. Yet despite having been created in very different decades for very different purposes by very different companies, these two very different applications still seem a part of the same thread. Anyone with experience in one could easily find some familiarity in the other, and while the creators of the Macintosh set out to build a truly consistent experience, there is only one significant piece of UX that these two mostly disparate applications share - the menu bar.

The lack of a menu bar in (most) touch applications is really what sets them apart from regular, mouse-based applications. It makes it virtually impossible to add more complex functionality without resorting to first-run onboarding experiences (terrible) or undiscoverable gestures (terrible). While menus would work just fine on devices with larger screens such as tablets and touch laptops - I use touch menus on my Surface Pro 4 all the time and they work flawlessly - the real estate they take up is too precious on smartphones.

If touch really wants to become a first-class citizen among the mouse and keyboard, developers need to let go of their fear of menus. Especially for more complex, productivity-oriented touch applications on tablets and touch laptops, menus are a perfectly fine UI element. Without them, touch applications will never catch up to their mouse counterparts.