Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 18th Dec 2016 19:34 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

As some may have noticed, my UEFI branch got merged in November, purely by accident too! However, until now, we still haven't been able to boot to the desktop. Whilst still in development, the addition of a simple framebuffer driver and a crucial fix by Henry has enabled Haiku to now boot all the way to the desktop using QEMU.

In today's world, an important milestone.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 18th Dec 2016 19:33 UTC
General Unix

It has often been told how the Bell Labs law department became the first non-research department to use Unix, displacing a newly acquired stand-alone word-processing system that fell short of the department's hopes because it couldn't number the lines on patent applications, as USPTO required. When Joe Ossanna heard of this, he told them about roff and promised to give it line-numbering capability the next day. They tried it and were hooked. Patent secretaries became remote members of the fellowship of the Unix lab. In due time the law department got its own machine.

Fascinating bit of Unix history.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 17th Dec 2016 12:10 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

FBI director James Comey has signed on to a previously reported CIA assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin directly intervened in the US presidential election in aid of Donald Trump, according to an internal CIA memo obtained by the Associated Press and Washington Post. The report has also been endorsed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, giving it the unanimous support of US intelligence agencies.

While the hack focused on the DNC and not the actual voting machines (I think Trump would've won even without the DNC hack), this is exactly the reason why The Netherlands ditched electronic voting machines roughly 15 years ago, and went back to the traditional paper ballot and red pencil. In today's world, any democracy worth its salt should ditch electronic voting.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration was aware of the hack before the elections took place, but didn't want to be seen interfering with the election process, because they thought Clinton would win. Yes.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 17th Dec 2016 12:03 UTC
In the News

In response to questions from BuzzFeed News, Google, Apple, and Uber clarified their positions on President-elect Donald Trump's comments about a possible Muslim registry. "In relation to the hypothetical of whether we would ever help build a 'muslim registry' - we haven't been asked, of course we wouldn't do this and we are glad - from all that we’ve read - that the proposal doesn't seem to be on the table," a spokesperson for Google told BuzzFeed News in an email.

BuzzFeed News asked all three companies whether they would help build or provide data for a Muslim registry. An Apple spokesperson said: "We think people should be treated the same no matter how they worship, what they look like, who they love. We haven't been asked and we would oppose such an effort."

I'm glad major technology companies are promising not to aid in Trump with this fascist campaign promise. That being said - these very same companies couldn't wait to butter up to Trump during a meeting this week, so I'm not sure how much faith I have in these promises. A repatriation tax cut would probably be enough to make them change their minds.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 16th Dec 2016 21:52 UTC
Fedora Core

Yes, after being pushed back from release after release, Fedora 25 finally defaults to using the Wayland graphics stack (assuming you have a supported graphics card). This is perhaps the biggest change to come in the Linux world since the move to systemd. However, unlike that systemd transition, the switch to Wayland was so seamless I had to logout and double check that I was in fact using Wayland.

I called Fedora 24, released earlier this year, "the year's best Linux distro" but one that I would have a hard time recommending thanks to some ugly kernel-related bugs. Well, Fedora 25 is here with an updated kernel, the bugs appear to be gone, and I have no reservations about recommending it. Not only is Fedora 25 a great release, the updated GNOME 3.22 running on top of Wayland appears to be slick and very stable.

The switch to Wayland has been so long in the making. That being said, I've been using Wayland for several years now - on my Jolla devices.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 15th Dec 2016 10:53 UTC
In the News

A thousand years ago, huge pyramids and earthen mounds stood where East St. Louis sprawls today in Southern Illinois. This majestic urban architecture towered over the swampy Mississippi River floodplains, blotting out the region's tiny villages. Beginning in the late 900s, word about the city spread throughout the southeast. Thousands of people visited for feasts and rituals, lured by the promise of a new kind of civilization. Many decided to stay.

[...]

Centuries later, Cahokia's meteoric rise and fall remain a mystery. It was booming in 1050, and by 1400 its population had disappeared, leaving behind a landscape completely geoengineered by human hands. Looking for clues about its history, archaeologists dig through the thick, wet, stubborn clay that Cahokians once used to construct their mounds. Buried beneath just a few feet of earth are millennia-old building foundations, trash pits, the cryptic remains of public rituals, and in some places, even, graves.

To find out what happened to Cahokia, I joined an archaeological dig there in July. It was led by two archaeologists who specialize in Cahokian history, Sarah Baires of Eastern Connecticut State University and Melissa Baltus of University of Toledo. They were assisted by Ph.D. candidate Elizabeth Watts of Indiana University, Bloomington, and a class of tireless undergraduates with the Institute for Field Research. Together, they spent the summer opening three large trenches in what they thought would be a sleepy little residential neighborhood southwest of Monk's Mound.

They were wrong.

Fascinating. I had no idea native Americans built huge cities like this far north of - roughly - the current border between the US and Mexico.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Dec 2016 23:32 UTC
Amiga & AROS

The SDK Browser provides any Amiga Programmer a quick reference tool into the live AmigaOS4 SDK (Development Tools) installation on your AmigaONE, via a 100% graphical (GUI) based tool.

It can help you find the format (prototype) for any AmigaOS4 system call as well as lookup a specific structure reference, method, tag item, what-have-you, quicker than any other tool. Or, you can simply use it as a great way to wander through the AmigaOS4 development documentation (AutoDocs, Includes, etc.) to learn more about how to program for this great machine and its powerful operating system. There is a great deal of (largely untapped) power available with the "standard" OS if you only know where to look.

As always, the Amiga community never ceases to amaze me. The first update to this handy tool for AmigaOS developers in ten years.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Dec 2016 23:19 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

I figured, for this and future posts I have planned about MSX, that I wanted an MSX font face. I browsed the web a bit for one and found nothing that I liked. So decided to create one.

I'm pretty sure I'll be violating someone's copyright here, because I won't be making an MSX-inspired 8-bit looking font. I am going to build THE EXACT FONT that the MSX 1.0 I grew up with had. I just hope the copyright owner will let this pass, given how "valuable" this font is nowadays and that I won't be making a cent from this. If he or she is not OK, though, I'll comply with their request.

I used an MSX a lot when I was a kid. Great machine for BASIC.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Dec 2016 20:19 UTC, submitted by Homer Simpson
Mac OS X

Apple clearly thinks the 'time remaining' estimates were causing more harm than good for users, so the new battery life status menu will now instead only show a percentage of remaining battery life, like on iOS devices, which should offer an accurate prediction. The change will be introduced for all in today's macOS update.

Apple claims that the reports of terrible battery on the new 15" MacBook Pro life are inaccurate, and in response, they removed the "time remaining" indicator.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Dec 2016 19:51 UTC
In the News

The higher temperatures are in part due to especially warm air coming from the south during this year's winter, the report says. And that's where things get scary. Shrinking sea ice and glaciers used to be a thing of the summer, but now that trend is carrying over into the winter months, says Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA's Arctic Research Program. "The pace of change that's happening in the Arctic ... is truly unprecedented," he says.

Rapidly shrinking arctic sea ice... In winter.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Dec 2016 04:57 UTC
Android

Google wants to put Android in the next wave of smart devices that'll be vying to fill up your home. It's launching a version of Android today called Android Things that can run on products like connected speakers, security cameras, and routers. The OS is supposed to make it easier for companies to start shipping hardware, since they'll be able to work with the Android dev tools they already know.

Android Things is a new name, but the operating system itself isn't strictly new. It's basically an update and a rebranding to Brillo, an Android-based OS for smart devices and Internet of Things products announced a little more than a year and a half ago. Brillo has - publicly, at least - gone close to nowhere. It was more or less a no-show at CES last year, and there's been little mention of it since.

Insert some quip about Google and naming here.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Dec 2016 21:58 UTC
Apple

Copland was Apple's failed attempt to modernize the classic Mac OS in the mid 1990s. While parts of it would end up in Mac OS 8, the dream of a modern Mac operating system wouldn't be realized until after Apple bought NeXT.

Copland is a really interesting (and sad) chapter in the Mac's history. Here are some documents I've collected over the years about it.

A digital treasure trove if there ever was one.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Dec 2016 21:53 UTC
In the News

Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.

There's a war going on. A war waged by religious extremists (of at least two major world religions), the extreme right, and fossil fuel-funded politicians, against the very foundations of our secular, post-Enlightenment, post-scientific revolution society. You think I'm exaggerating? I wish. Extreme right websites are asking their readers to pick up arms against scientists. That's where we are.

Religious extremists, the extreme right, and fossil fuel-funded politicians know all too well that science, secularism, and a clear, non-negotiable separation between church and state are grave threats to their continued existence. We - as a species - have come a long way these past few hundred years, but it feels like today, with the all-out attack on science by these deplorable parts of our society, we are regressing backwards into the dark ages.

Science is the only foundation of progress. Any who seek to erode this foundation are the enemy of the Enlightenment - mankind's greatest invention. Pick your side carefully.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Dec 2016 20:15 UTC
Android

Indus OS - a mobile phone operating system built in India - has become the country's second-most popular smartphone platform, surpassing Apple's iOS.

That looks interesting.

Now, it's not exactly a new operating system built from scratch, but the developers have tweaked the Android platform to meet the unique demands and culture of India.

Oh.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Dec 2016 19:21 UTC
Games

"Funky Fantasy IV" is a 100% machine-translated version of Final Fantasy IV for the Japanese Super Famicom. The project is still unfinished, with little bits and pieces of untranslated menu text still strewn about, but all of the main and important text has been run through Google Translate.

Looks like my venerable profession is safe.

For now.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Dec 2016 10:14 UTC
Android

Google released a keyboard app for the iPhone some months back called Gboard, and everyone was wondering if it would come to Android. Well, now it has as the v6.0 update to Google Keyboard. It's not only a name change, though. There are a few important new features, including a search shortcut and true multi-language support.

Finally - finally - Google adds true multi-language support to the official Android keyboard. iOS added this in - I believe - iOS 10. Are the sheltered men of Silicon Valley finally realising vast numbers of people live multilingual lives on a daily basis and that technology is woefully ill-equipped to deal with that fact?

We'll know for sure once things like Wear and the Apple Watch no longer require full wipes and resets just to switch input languages.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Dec 2016 10:09 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

"Adventuresome" is perhaps a kind way of describing Pebble's year: 2016 started in crisis. The year before, the once-profitable company dropped into the red, and hit the second half 2015 by not meeting its sales goals. Pebble would never be profitable again. In March of 2016, Migicovsky laid off a quarter of his staff of 160, just as the company moved from its cramped, loft-like Palo Alto headquarters into a gleaming, spacious new office tower in downtown Redwood City. In its optimism, the company had rented two floors; now it fit on just one.

It turned out that both Pebble - and, incidentally, Apple - had misjudged the wearables market. The idea of an iPhone on the wrist hasn't caught on. The one killer app for wrist devices, at least so far, seems to be fitness. Active people find it useful to wear something that quantifies your biometrics and tracks your runs. Apple's emphasis on fashion and Pebble's on productivity and third-party innovation were costly detours - the smartwatch market is rooted in health and fitness. "We learned late, and Apple is learning this as well," says Migicovsky. (He acknowledges that notifications are perhaps the other key function smartwatches perform.) "We did not get this in 2014 - if we had come out then as the smartwatch fitness wearable, maybe it would be a bit different."

It seems my doubts about the viability of the smartwatch market are turning out to be on point. Just as I predicted - turns out people really don't want to strap an ugly calculator on their wrists, not even when it has a shiny Apple logo.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 12th Dec 2016 20:26 UTC
General Unix

Programs written to run on conventional operating systems typically depend on OS abstractions like processes, pipes, signals, sockets, and a shared file system. Compiling programs into JavaScript, asm.js, or WebAssembly with tools like Emscripten or GopherJS isn't enough to successfully run many programs client-side, as browsers present a non-traditional runtime environment that lacks OS functionality. Porting these applications to the web currently requires extensive rewriting or paying to host significant portions of code in the cloud.

Browsix is our answer to these challenges.

Neat.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 12th Dec 2016 20:25 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Consumer safety remains our highest priority and we've had overwhelming participation in the U.S. Note7 Refund and Exchange Program so far, with more than 93 percent of all recalled Galaxy Note7 devices returned.

To further increase participation, a software update will be released starting on December 19th that will prevent U.S. Galaxy Note7 devices from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices.

One the one hand, it's great these potentially dangerous devices can be rendered inoperable. On the other hand, it's a deeply unsettling - especially in the current US political climate - feeling that devices can just be shut off at a moment's notice.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 9th Dec 2016 20:56 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Basically: not having a headphone jack might not be enough to deter sales of a phone, but it's still really annoying and requires users to spend additional money to reclaim very basic functionality from their devices. And most of that money flows back to the device vendor, effectively increasing the price of the phone. We've taken something simple and universal, and turned it into something complex and proprietary, for no obvious benefits. It's a bad trade-off. It's... user-hostile and stupid. There's just no getting around it.

There's no tangible benefit to ditching the universal 3.5mm jack - whether Apple does it, or Samsung does it, or anyone else does it.

We're months and months into this discussion now, and to this day, nobody - not Apple, not Samsung, not John Gruber, not any commenters anywhere - has given me a real, valid, tangible reason why removing the 3.5mm jack is a good idea. Lightning audio is stupid because only the iPhone/iPad support it (not even Macs come with Lightning ports), and wireless audio is garbage - something even Apple is only now finding out. Those wireless AirPods Apple unveiled to much fanfare? They have been delayed and delayed, and are actually still unavailable, because Bluetooh audio is complete and utter garbage.

It almost feels like removing the 3.5mm jack was a sociological science experiment to determine just how far people were willing to go to defend and rationalise a deeply dumb idea.