Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th Jan 2016 22:20 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

The solve for this has been smartwatches designed specifically for women, to varying degrees of offense. Resizing is the first step: a thinner strap, a smaller face, more delicate styling (though, of course, not all women have tiny wrists, the same way that not all men have big wrists). Colorways come next, trading "masculine" black, gray, or brown for "feminine" white, tan, and now-ubiquitous rose gold (seriously, ever since Apple added rose gold to their lineup in September, every damn tech company has followed suit). The final step in making wearable tech for ladies? Throw some jewels on it. Sigh.

Technology companies and designing products for women don't go well together, and never have - smartwatches and fitness trackers just highlight this problem like never before.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Jan 2016 23:38 UTC
General Development

By now, simply taking over a game and replacing it with a brand new app was beginning to feel a little predictable. So this year, TASBot decided to show off a new skill. At the AGDQ marathon, the bot set out to edit new features onto a game that's still running in active memory. TASBot wanted to be magnanimous with its new capabilities, too, allowing human players (and livestream viewers) the opportunity to edit the game on the fly.

But just how did TASBot - and the team of coders behind it - intend to turn an old game of Super Mario World, running on a standard SNES, into a heavily editable game of Super Mario Maker? Luckily, we had a behind-the-scenes invite to the event and the opportunity to find out.

I spent most of last week watching AGDQ (and donating, of course), and this particular segment blew my mind.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Jan 2016 23:35 UTC
Bugs & Viruses

For the past few weeks, Forbes.com has been forcing visitors to disable ad blockers if they want to read its content. Visitors to the site with Adblock or uBlock enabled are told they must disable it if they wish to see any Forbes content. Thanks to Forbes' interstitial ad and quote of the day, Google caching doesn't capture data properly, either.

What sets Forbes apart, in this case, is that it didn't just force visitors to disable ad blocking - it actively served them malware as soon as they did. Details were captured by security researcher Brian Baskin, who screenshotted the process.

There are no words for this level of stupidity.

 

Linked by diegocg on Mon 11th Jan 2016 20:02 UTC
Linux

Linux 4.4 has been released This release adds support for 3D support in virtual GPU driver, which allows 3D hardware-accelerated graphics in virtualization guests; loop device support for Direct I/O and Asynchronous I/O, which saves memory and increases performance; support for Open-channel SSDs, which are devices that share the responsibility of the Flash Translation Layer with the operating system; the TCP listener handling is completely lockless and allows for faster and more scalable TCP servers; journalled RAID5 in the MD layer which fixes the RAID write hole; eBPF programs can now be run by unprivileged users, and perf has added support for eBPF programs aswell; a new mlock2() syscall that allows users to request memory to be locked on page fault; and block polling support.

There are also new drivers and many other small improvements. Here is the full list of changes.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Jan 2016 19:53 UTC, submitted by Danu
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

It's bittersweet news for die-hard BlackBerry fans, a shrinking, but fiercely loyal group. Yes, BlackBerry will continue to exist, but won't offer any phones running on its own BlackBerry 10 software. Still, future Android BlackBerry devices means more choice besides the usual mix of Samsung, LG or HTC Android phones.

Something about a tree falling in a forest, but that might be a bit cruel.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 9th Jan 2016 00:04 UTC
Internet & Networking

There are several acknowledged rules on the Internet. Rule Zero, translated into more appropriate language,of course, is don't commit violence against a cat. Rule One ought to be don't mess with the EFF.

The EFF is one of those few organisations you can just always trust to have your best interests at heart. Their track record is impeccable, and their causes always just.

Don't mess with the EFF.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 8th Jan 2016 12:14 UTC
Android

Speaking of Cyanogen OS:

Following the Cyanogen OS 12.11 update for the OnePlus One, you may have noticed something worse than the automatic inclusion of Cortana. Now upon selecting a file without a set default application, you will see adverts for Microsoft apps and services on the "open with" menu.

I feel like a broken record player at this point, but don't trust these guys. Selling out to Microsoft has never done anyone any good.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 8th Jan 2016 00:45 UTC
Android

As promised, Cyanogen has released an update to Cyanogen OS (which is not CyanogenMod) that integrates Cortana into their Android offering.

In the Cyanogen OS 12.1.1 update, we are excited to introduce Microsoft Cortana. What makes this such an exciting partnership is that by having Cortana's voice command capability deeply integrated into the Cyanogen ecosystem, we're opening the door to future capabilities that don't currently exist.

So, they're going to "take Android away from Google", and then give it to Microsoft? This Microsoft?

OK.

Look - like Microsoft, Google collects data. A lot of it. We all know it, and at least all of us, OSNews readers, make a conscious choice to use Android anyway. While I don't trust Google in any way, there's at least the comfort that they are probably the most closely monitored company when it comes to privacy, and there's little to no risk of the company folding and being up for grabs - meaning, your data will remain within Google, and won't end up in somebody else's, less trustworthy hands just because they happened to buy Google.

Cyanogen Inc., however, is a whole different ballgame. This is a start-up funded by venture capitalists who are clearly looking for a quick buck. They're making a lot of grandiose claims and a ton of ruckus, and as I've said before, I give them a few years before they're acquired by someone else - at which point your data could end up anywhere, completely beyond your control, with little to no oversight.

Venture capitalists - and by extension, those who depend on them - have no interest in you. You are irrelevant. All they care about is cashing in on their investments as soon as possible, everything else be damned.

Don't buy into Cyanogen. Just don't.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Jan 2016 12:04 UTC
Android

Jide Technology has released Remix OS 2.0 as a free download available on January 12th designed to run on the majority of Intel and AMD devices such as PC and Mac. The company which was founded by three ex-Google employees has developed the OS thanks to a partnership with the Android-x86 project enabling it to run on almost any PC.

This is pretty much what Android on desktop and laptops - what Google itself is currently working on - is going to look like. It's designed first and foremost for Jide's own devices, but starting 12 January it'll also be available for select generic x86 devices, including some Macs. There's no proper up-to-date compatibility list as far as I can tell, so we'll have to wait and see just how useful it can be.

It looks quite interesting, and the fact that it's run by former Google employees gives some hope regarding its longevity and legitimacy. That being said, with Google itself working on bringing Android to desktops and laptops, you have to wonder how much longer Jide can maintain itself.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 6th Jan 2016 12:20 UTC
General Development

So, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of my favourite games of all time, and it's also generally considered to be one of the best games ever made. And, as with all games, people 'speedrun' this game, which means trying to beat the game as fast as is humanly possible. There are several categories, each with certain rules and things that are and are not allowed.

This particular speedrun of Symphony Of The Night by Cosmo takes this concept to a whole new level. The end time of 7 minutes and 52 seconds is mind-blowing enough, but how he actually gets there is just utterly insane. Basically, he procures a very specific set of items in his inventory, and then proceeds to manipulate the items in his inventory in a extremely specific way, within very specific fractions of seconds of game-time, to use the sorting mechanism of the inventory to manipulate the assembly code in memory to make the game finish itself. All this, on the actual console itself, without tools, without additional software, without emulators, without anything.

The actual science or coding behind this technique was discovered and developed by a person named Sockfolder, and he put up a 40-minute stream to explain in detail what's going on, with the contents of memory on the side of the screen so you can see exactly what's happening. It's mesmerising (even though I don't fully understand what's going on).

While the actual coding part of it can be discovered and explored in relative comfort of an emulator and other tools, actually pulling this off 'live', with just the tools at the disposal of any regular player, is absolutely amazing. This kind of stuff sits at the very fringes of programming, and I find it incredibly impressive.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Jan 2016 23:19 UTC
Amiga & AROS

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is going on right now, but unless you're interested in Samsung or LG smart fridges, generic smartphones from generic vendors, or smartwatches nobody will remember or care about two weeks from now, it's kind of hard to find decent news among the cavalcade of irrelevance.

Well, there's this - an official statement from Hyperion, the developer of AmigaOS 4, regarding the source code leak late last year.

The days between last Christmas and New Year were actually clouded by the sad fact that the source code of AmigaOS 3.1 and additional content dating back to 1994 was published and widely spread without permission of the rights-holder. Note that no code of AmigaOS 4.x was released or distributed.

[...]

While this would be already more than enough of a reason to care about the unauthorised disclosure and distribution, it is also the very same settlement agreement which made all of this possible in the first place, which contractually requires Hyperion to enforce and protect any intellectual property rights associated with AmigaOS including the AmigaOS 3.1 source-code.

So yeah, Hyperion is obligated to combat this source code leak, but as we all know - this is the internet. It's out there now, and it's not going anywhere any time soon.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Jan 2016 19:35 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

The Dutch government has formally opposed the introduction of backdoors in encryption products.

A government position paper, published by the Ministry of Security and Justice on Monday and signed by the security and business ministers, concludes that "the government believes that it is currently not appropriate to adopt restrictive legal measures against the development, availability and use of encryption within the Netherlands."

The conclusion comes at the end of a five-page run-through of the arguments for greater encryption and the counter-arguments for allowing the authorities access to the information.

The word "currently" worries me, but this is good news.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 2nd Jan 2016 23:49 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Microkernel hatred is a peculiar phenomenon. Sheltered users who have never had any background in much beyond Windows and some flavor of free monolithic Unix, will, despite a general apathy or ignorance in the relevant subjects, have strong opinions on the allegedly dreadful performance and impracticality of "icrokernels", however they define the term (and we shall see that a lot of people have some baffling impressions of what a microkernel is supposed to be). Quite often, these negative views will be a result of various remarks made by Linus Torvalds and a general hero worship of his character, a misrepresentation of an old Usenet flame war between AST and Torvalds that was somehow "won" and which supposedly proved that microkernels are nothing but a toy of ivory tower academics, or a rehash of quarter century-old benchmarks on CMU's Mach that were unfavorable. The presence of Linus' character in many of this is no coincidence. It strikes me that anti-microkernel sentiment most vocally originates as a sort of tribal affiliation mechanism by Linux users to ward off insecurity.

In any event, this article will be a concise tour of microkernel myths and misconceptions throughout the ages.

I wouldn't exactly call this article "concise", but it's definitely filled with valuable technical information.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 2nd Jan 2016 19:09 UTC
Internet & Networking

Let me start by saying that beautiful websites come in all sizes and page weights. I love big websites packed with images. I love high-resolution video. I love sprawling Javascript experiments or well-designed web apps.

This talk isn't about any of those. It's about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year.

While I'll be using examples to keep the talk from getting too abstract, I'm not here to shame anyone, except some companies (Medium) that should know better and are intentionally breaking the web.

This is an amazing and hilarious read we can all agree with it. I doubt there's going to be any pointless bickering over this one.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 2nd Jan 2016 19:08 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

The general plan for the OS is to create a micro-kernel based design with sufficient drivers that a basic user-mode interface can be created. The user-mode interface will include a basic tablet or laptop user interface with the ability to start user mode applications. The final goal is to develop a web-browser application to demonstrate the power of the OS.

FlingOS is an educational operating system designed to aid in teaching and learning low-level operating system programming.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 30th Dec 2015 23:57 UTC, submitted by Nth_Man
Debian and its clones

With a heavy heart Debian mourns the passing of Ian Murdock, stalwart proponent of Free Open Source Software, Father, Son, and the 'ian' in Debian.

Ian started the Debian project in August of 1993, releasing the first versions of Debian later that same year. Debian would go on to become the world's Universal Operating System, running on everything from embedded devices to the space station.

Ian's sharp focus was on creating a Distribution and community culture that did the right thing, be it ethically, or technically. Releases went out when they were ready, and the project's staunch stance on Software Freedom are the gold standards in the Free and Open Source world.

Debian - or anything Debian-based - is my distribution of choice, and there's no denying just how much Debian has contributed to the Linux world.

My thoughts are with his family and friends.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 29th Dec 2015 23:38 UTC, submitted by randomer1234
Android

Google is replacing the Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in Android with OpenJDK, the open source version of Oracle's Java Development Kit (JDK). The news first came by a "mysterious Android codebase commit" from last month submitted to Hacker News. Google confirmed to VentureBeat that Android N will rely solely on OpenJDK, rather Android’s own version of the Java APIs.

"As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community," a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. "In our upcoming release of Android, we plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services. Google has long worked with and contributed to the OpenJDK community, and we look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future."

If this is what it takes to get those Oracle slimebags off Android's back, so be it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 29th Dec 2015 23:19 UTC
Amiga & AROS

Generation Amiga has reported today a tweet from Hacker Fantastic saying that the Amiga OS source has been leaked, including both Kickstart and Workbench. Looking at the @hackerfantastic's tweet, there is another user with the handle @TheWack0lian that offers a link to download the OS in a 130MB tar file which expands to 540MB of source code.

[...]

Apparently the source code is really related to Amiga OS. The tar file name refers to OS 3.1 but folders from the source code refers to version 4, which could mean the source code is pretty much up to date.

From what I can gather, it's not fully 100% complete, but it's still a pretty significant leak. With the number of times this software has changed hands, it's remarkable it's taken this long.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 29th Dec 2015 00:45 UTC
Microsoft

In both cases, what is unusual for Microsoft is the positivity the gizmos have generated. Fair or not (and I'd argue probably not), Microsoft isn't expected to blaze new trails and develop hot new products that have the potential to create new markets or shake up existing ones. We know Microsoft's history - too early with tablets, too early with smartphones, too early with wearables - and this generates a degree of skepticism around what it does. But with HoloLens and Surface Book, much of that cynicism seems to have evaporated.

Desktop operating systems (Windows, Linux, OS X - all of them) are in a pretty piss-poor state right now for various different reasons, and in the case of Windows, I find this truly sad because Microsoft seems to be doing some really cool stuff in the laptop and tablet front. Sadly, the software just isn't up to par.

Much like the Apple, we can hope 2016 brings some major improvements, but considering Microsoft's endless promises and failures to deliver, I'm not holding my breath.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 29th Dec 2015 00:39 UTC
Apple

All of Apple's products this year were just fine. You could settle yourself totally within the Apple ecosystem and use Apple Music and Apple News on your iPhone while taking Live Photos and you would be just fine. You wouldn't have the best time, but you wouldn't have the worst one, either. It would just be fine.

And that's really the issue. We're not used to Apple being just fine. We're used to Apple being wildly better than the competition, or sometimes much worse, but always being ahead of the curve on some significant axis. But what we got in 2015 was an Apple that released more products than ever, all of which felt incomplete in extremely meaningful ways - ways that meant that their products were just fine, and often just the same as everyone else's.

In defense of Apple, the company did put out a significant number of new platforms this year. Let's see if they manage to improve these clearly beta platforms in 2016.