Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 2nd Sep 2018 23:06 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

A Z80 computer wirewrapped on perfboard. The wirewrapping technique uses standard IC sockets and PCB header pins, so the components and wiring are on the same side of the board.

This is such cool engineering. I wish I had more time and base knowledge to dive into making things like this myself. I absolutely love building LEGO sets, and this feels like very, very advanced LEGO.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 31st Aug 2018 23:38 UTC

For some reason I like small laptops and the constraints they place on me (as long as they're still usable). I used a Dell Mini 9 for a long time back in the netbook days and was recently using an 11" MacBook Air as my primary development machine for many years. Recently Microsoft announced a smaller, cheaper version of its Surface tablets called Surface Go which piqued my interest.

Quite a few things don't yet work on OpenBSD, but these first few people who try things like OpenBSD on new Surface devices pave the way for support to improve.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 31st Aug 2018 23:32 UTC
General Development

The purpose of this text is to provide a reference for University level assembly language and systems programming courses. Specifically, this text addresses the x86-64 instruction set for the popular x86-64 class of processors using the Ubuntu 64-bit Operating System (OS). While the provided code and various examples should work under any Linux-based 64-bit OS, they have only been tested under Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (64-bit).

Your light reading for the weekend.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 31st Aug 2018 23:30 UTC
In the News

At the heart of this town lies a building that is a veritable temple to the area’s most famous creation, the humble Lego brick. It is filled with complex creations, from a 50-foot tree to a collection of multicolored dinosaurs, all of them built with a product that has barely changed in more than 50 years.

A short walk away in its research lab, though, Lego is trying to refashion the product it is best known for: It wants to eliminate its dependence on petroleum-based plastics, and build its toys entirely from plant-based or recycled materials by 2030.

That's one heck of a materials science challenge.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 30th Aug 2018 21:30 UTC
Mozilla & Gecko clones

Anyone who isn't an expert on the internet would be hard-pressed to explain how tracking on the internet actually works. Some of the negative effects of unchecked tracking are easy to notice, namely eerily-specific targeted advertising and a loss of performance on the web. However, many of the harms of unchecked data collection are completely opaque to users and experts alike, only to be revealed piecemeal by major data breaches. In the near future, Firefox will - by default - protect users by blocking tracking while also offering a clear set of controls to give our users more choice over what information they share with sites.

Firefox continues to do great work in this department.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 30th Aug 2018 21:27 UTC

Java 11 has recently been feature frozen and contains some really great features, one in particular we’d like to highlight. The release contains a brand new Garbage Collector, ZGC, which is being developed by Oracle that promises very low pause times on multi-terabyte heaps. In this article we'll cover the motivation for a new GC, a technical overview and some of the really exciting possibilities ZGC opens up.

Why would you look at that - I get to use the Java database category.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 30th Aug 2018 21:26 UTC

In a move that could prompt more companies to offer paid parental leave, Microsoft is announcing today that it will require all of its U.S.-based suppliers and vendors with more than 50 employees to offer such benefits.

Having your health and healthcare benefits tied to your employer is an incredibly stupid system - it keeps unhappy people tied to your company because they're too dependent to leave, and it raises healthcare costs for everybody else. No wonder the US healthcare system is a complete and utter disaster.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 30th Aug 2018 21:20 UTC

Lenovo is announcing a second ARM-powered Windows 10 laptop this week, and this time it's a Yoga. The Lenovo Yoga C630 WOS (Windows on Snapdragon) is, as you might have guessed, powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 850 processor. It's the first Windows laptop we've seen with the Snapdragon 850, and its a chip that Qualcomm specifically designed for always-connected Windows 10 PCs. This new processor ushers in the latest generation of ARM-powered Windows 10 laptops.


Lenovo is promising 30 percent better performance over its previous Miix 630 Windows on ARM device, and a surprising claim of 25 hours of battery life to match. While the battery life sounds impressive, it's the performance that will matter in a device like this and we’ll need to test this latest range of ARM-powered laptops to see if app compatibility and performance has improved. As this is powered by the Snapdragon 850, there's also built-in LTE support for mobile connectivity on the go.

In theory, these ARM-based laptops are really nice. In practice, though, they simply haven't yet delivered. Maybe Snapdragon 850 devices will finally be it?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Aug 2018 22:15 UTC

I've got kinda sidetracked here waffling on about the history of dial-up BBS systems. What I really want to be concerned with is what made The Microsoft Network unique and interesting: the interface.

The big thing in Windows 95 was their new shell. They wanted everything to go through this. They had this vision of every object in the computer being represented as a shell object, so there would be a seamless intermix between files, documents, system components, you name it. They had this project called Cairo that was supposed to throw out that scruffy old file-based filesystem and bring in a shiny new Object Based File System instead. It never happened, so we'll never know exactly how it might have turned out. But the brave lads at MS didn't give up that easily and so the idea stayed on, admittedly without the tech to back it up, and the principles wormed their way into such glorious developments as The Microsoft Network.

And so The Microsoft Network wasn't a program you loaded like CompuServe. It was part of the OS, with folder icons that looked just like real folders. It was a kind of version of the Web where you could browse online data the same way you browsed your file system. This is what made it cool.

I vaguely remember something about this project - and of course, the whole concept of integrating literally everything into the Windows 95 shell did see some adoption here and there in the early days of Windows 95. Looking at it from today's perspective, I still kind of like it - Microsoft would try the concept again with Windows Phone 7, where services like Twitter and Facebook were supposed to be integrated into the operating system, without having to use crappy applications to access them.

That is still a good idea today.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Aug 2018 22:10 UTC

If you have a newer Wear OS watch, sometime in the coming month, you'll get a software update that will change what happens when you swipe on your watchface. Alongside the new UI, Google is also adding a new feed of information from Google Assistant, faster access to Google Fit, and a more information-dense view of your notifications.

At least this means Wear OS isn't dead - which is good news, because it really felt like Google was sunsetting the whole project.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Aug 2018 22:05 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Studies show that the amount of data being recorded is increasing at 30 to 40 percent per year. At the same time, the capacity of modern hard drives, which are used to store most of this, is increasing at less than half that rate. Fortunately, much of this information doesn’t need to be accessed instantly. And for such things, magnetic tape is the perfect solution.

Seriously? Tape? The very idea may evoke images of reels rotating fitfully next to a bulky mainframe in an old movie like Desk Set or Dr. Strangelove. So, a quick reality check: tape has never gone away!


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Aug 2018 22:03 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Developed in a magic night of 19 Aug, 2018 between 2am and 8am, the darkriscv is a very experimental implementation of the opensource RISC-V instruction set. Nowadays, after one week of exciting sleepless nights of work (which explains the lots of typos you will found ahead), the darkriscv reached a very good quality result, in a way that the "hello world" compiled by the standard riscv-elf-gcc is working fine!

I feel incompetent.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Aug 2018 22:02 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Acer's leading gaming branding, Predator, is all about maximizing performance, particularly around gaming. In the modern era, that now extends into content creation, streaming, video editing, and all the sorts of things that drive the need for high performance. As we've seen several times over the years, just throwing more cores at the problem isn't the solution: bottlenecks appear elsewhere in the system. Despite this, Acer is preparing a mind-boggling solution.

The Acer Predator X is the new dual-Xeon workstation, with ECC memory and multiple graphics cards, announced today at IFA 2018. The premise of the system is for the multi-taskers that do everything: gaming, content creation, streaming, the lot. With this being one of Acer's flagship products, we expect it to be geared to the hilt: maximum cores, maximum capacity. There-in lies the first rub: if Acer is going all out, this is going to cost something crazy.

This clearly makes zero sense, but at the same time, it's kind of awesome Acer is doing this. Dual-processor workstations are a bit of an obsession for me, but with dual-processor machines entirely relegated to Xeon systems, they've become quite unaffordable. Even though it makes zero sense, I would love for regular Intel Core and AMD Zen processors to support dual processor setups.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Aug 2018 23:51 UTC
Geek stuff, sci-fi...

I'm going to do something different today - I'm going to highlight a YouTube channel that I personally really enjoy, and that I think might be a good fit for OSNews readers as well. I plan on doing this more often, since I feel a text/article-only focus leads to OSNews missing out on a bunch of really great and informative content. The channels I'll be recommending will all be focused on technology and science, and since I have a deep disdain for the stereotypical spammy, clickbaity YouTube channels, you can be assured I'll only be recommending truly informative and quality channels.

I'm going to start off with a channel called PBS Space Time.

Space Time explores the outer reaches of space, the craziness of astrophysics, the possibilities of sci-fi, and anything else you can think of beyond Planet Earth with our astrophysicist host: Matthew O’Dowd.

Matt O'Dowd spends his time studying the universe, especially really far-away things like quasars, super-massive black holes, and evolving galaxies. He uses telescopes in space to do it. Matt completed his Ph.D. at NASA's Space Telescope Science Institute, followed by work at the University of Melbourne and Columbia University. He's now a professor at the City University of New York's Lehman College and an Associate at the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium.

Space Time does not shy away from hardcore astrophysics, covering subjects like quantum field theory, quantum physics, the theory and mathematics of black holes and other astrophysical phenomena, and much more. Videos range from 10-15 minutes, and many subjects are spread out over many videos - the content is in-depth, purely scientific, and definitely not always easy to grasp. I'm currently watching Planck's Constant and the origin of quantum mechanics, just to give you an idea of what to expect.

There's a decent back catalog of videos to enjoy, so if this is your cup of tea, you've just got a whole bunch of new tea to drink.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Aug 2018 22:25 UTC

Earlier this year Intel announced that it would be introducing two new families to its low power notebook range: Whiskey Lake for new 15W (U-Series) processors, and Amber Lake for new sub-5W (Y-Series) processors. These new parts are at the core the same as the current 8th generation Kaby Lake Refresh parts, but they have been equipped with newer chipsets. With this announcement, we are expecting to see a large number of OEMs with new devices on display at the IFA trade show this week in Berlin.

Especially midrange thin laptops will benefit from these new processors - think a new MacBook Air, new Surface Pros, and so on.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Aug 2018 22:21 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

The U.S. tech industry has largely declared it is off limits to scan emails for information to sell to advertisers. Yahoo still sees the practice as a potential gold mine.

Yahoo's owner, the Oath unit of Verizon Communications Inc., has been pitching a service to advertisers that analyzes more than 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes and the rich user data they contain, searching for clues about what products those users might buy, said people who have attended Oath's presentations as well as current and former employees of the company.

The biggest news in this story is not that Verizon is a scummy company - but that 200 million people still use Yahoo's email service.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Aug 2018 15:10 UTC

Well, it's been over 30 years since the NES was released, and while those classic games have aged well, the same can't be said for the hardware they ran on. With a screen-resolution of just 256x240, the NES didn't give games all that much screen real-estate to work with. Nevertheless, intrepid game developers squeezed amazing, iconic worlds into NES games: the maze-like dungeons of The Legend of Zelda, the sprawling planet of Metroid, or the colorful levels of Super Mario Bros.. And yet, due to the NES's hardware limitations, gamers only ever experienced these worlds a single 256x240 viewport at a time...

Until now.

Introducing: wideNES. A new way to experience NES classics.

What an awesome and innovative project to add an extra dimension of gameplay to old NES classics.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 27th Aug 2018 22:17 UTC
Oracle and SUN

Once upon a time, Apple came very close to releasing ZFS as part of MacOS. Apple did this work in its own copy of the ZFS source base (as far as I know), but the people in Sun knew about it and it turns out that even today there is one little lingering sign of this hoped-for and perhaps prepared-for ZFS port in the ZFS source code. Well, sort of, because it's not quite in code.

I love stories like this - digital archeology focusing on the relatively recent past.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 27th Aug 2018 22:14 UTC
Internet & Networking

OpenStreetMap, launched in 2004, has grown into one of the most successful collaboratively maintained open datasets in the world. Today, contributors to the maps include not just keen local mappers, but also a diverse mix of commercial organisations, non-governmental organisations, humanitarian organisations and also large commercial organisations


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 25th Aug 2018 20:47 UTC

The Nintendo 64's GoldenEye 007 - or GoldenEye 64, as it's often known - is seen as one of the system's all-time classics. Aug. 25, 2018, will be the game's 21st birthday (allowing Bond to finally taste one of his revered cocktails), so we reached out to the people who played, reviewed and created the game to see how it all came together, way back in 1997. From the multiplayer being added as an afterthought to the game almost having every Bond actor ever, the game you and your buddies logged hours on - paintballing in the Stack or shooting Boris in the balls - was almost something very, very different.

I, too, played this game a lot when it came out - specifically, the multiplayer. It's one of those games that defined a console generation.