Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Jul 2016 10:02 UTC
Windows

WinFsp is a set of software components for Windows computers that allows the creation of user mode file systems. In this sense it is similar to FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace), which provides the same functionality on UNIX-like computers.

Interesting project. They also provide details on how it works:

WinFsp consists of a kernel mode FSD (File System Driver) and a user mode DLL (Dynamic Link Library). The FSD interfaces with NTOS (the Windows kernel) and handles all interactions necessary to present itself as a file system driver to NTOS. The DLL interfaces with the FSD and presents an easy to use API for creating user mode file systems.

It's open source, using the AGPLv3 license.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 20th Jul 2016 23:03 UTC
Internet & Networking

Twitter has banned one of its most notoriously contentious voices. On Tuesday evening, the microblogging service permanently suspended the account of [a notorious troll], a day after he incited his followers to bombard Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets.

"People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter," a company spokesperson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. "But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others."

With platforms like Twitter and Facebook having become the de-facto space where people come to voice their opinion and a central axis in world events - think the attack in Nice, the failed coup in Turkey, which effectively took place on Twitter and Facebook - a lot of people lose sight of what these platforms really are: glorified, very large and very popular online forums.

There's no difference between that forum you run for the community of frog statuette collectors you're a part of on the one side, and Twitter on the other. If people on your forum post insulting messages, harass your fellow frog statue collectors, or send in waves of trolls to post racist, hateful, and abusive messages at them, you'd ban them, remove their comments, delete their accounts.

Twitter is no different. Twitter, like your frog statuette collector forum, is a private enterprise, a personal space, where you set the rules regarding what's allowed and what isn't. I do the same here on OSNews. Banning people from your forum, from OSNews, or, indeed, from Twitter, is not a freedom of speech issue. The right to free speech protects you from the government, not from Twitter, forum moderators, or me deleting your hateful comment from OSNews. Or, for that matter, from deleting your perfectly valid and well-argumented comment (which I don't do, but you get the point). Platforms like Twitter may have become a popular forum for expression, but it has no more obligation to "protect" the "right to free speech" than you have the obligation to accept people walking into your house and saying hateful comments to you or your loved ones.

Twitter and Facebook face huge problems with systematic abuse from trolls, and banning this particularly nasty troll is nothing more than lip service to a famous actress and comedian, and it does nothing to address the core problem the platform faces. Twitter might consider spending less time screwing over third party developers and creating nonsense nobody wants, and focus on the real problems many of their real users have to face every single day.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 20th Jul 2016 22:42 UTC
Apple

If you regularly browse the App Store's Top Charts most of these results would likely serve to confirm what you had already assumed. Most obviously, if you were to randomly pick an app from the Top 200 Grossing charts, chances are extremely high that you would pick a free app with IAPs and it would most likely be a game. But what is particularly suprising is the degree to which free apps with IAP dominate the charts with essentially no paid apps or no apps without IAPs.

I guess the hollowing out and complete destruction of the indie development world was totally worth it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 20th Jul 2016 19:48 UTC, submitted by FlyingJester
Opera Software

A $1.2 billion takeover of Opera Software by a group of Chinese internet firms fell through on Monday after failing to get regulatory approval in time, sending the Norwegian browser firm's shares to a seven-month low.

The deal needed a green light from the United States and China, and one firm in the Chinese consortium said U.S. privacy concerns would have led to an investigation into some of Opera's products that risked delaying the acquisition for up to a year.

I wonder what Opera really has to offer at this point - and I don't mean that as in, what does it have to offer as a browser to us as consumers, but what does it have to offer as a takeover target. I'm assuming the days of Opera Mini - which did well on things like the Wii - are over, so what's the package, here?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 20th Jul 2016 19:05 UTC, submitted by Nth_Man
Linux

You probably don't think of car companies as Linux and open-source supporters. You'd be wrong. Toyota, the world's largest car manufacturer, just joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history.

OIN was formed by IBM, Sony, Phillips, Red Hat, and Novell in 1995 to defend Linux against intellectual property attacks. OIN's plan, then and now, is to acquire Linux-related patents. It then shares them royalty-free to any organization that agrees not to assert its patents against Linux or its applications.

It's worked.

OIN now has more than 2,000 members. In the last 18 months, with the rise of open source and Linux in all technology businesses, OIN has doubled in size.

The more companies join, the better. I had no idea OIN had been growing this quickly.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Jul 2016 21:46 UTC
Internet & Networking

In 1992 Tim Berners-Lee created three things, giving birth to what we consider the Internet. The HTTP protocol, HTML, and the URL. His goal was to bring 'Hypertext' to life. Hypertext at its simplest is the ability to create documents which link to one another. At the time it was viewed more as a science fiction panacea, to be complimented by Hypermedia, and any other word you could add 'Hyper' in front of.

[...]

There was a fervent belief in 1993 that the URL would die, in favor of the ‘URN’. The Uniform Resource Name is a permanent reference to a given piece of content which, unlike a URL, will never change or break. Tim Berners-Lee first described the "urgent need" for them as early as 1991.

Interesting history of the URL.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Jul 2016 05:04 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

SoftBank is nearing a deal to acquire ARM Holdings, the British semiconductor company, said two people briefed on the matter who asked not to be named discussing private information.

The deal would be the first large-scale, cross-border transaction in Britain since it voted to exit the European Union last month. ARM had been seen as a safe haven from the volatility surrounding “Brexit” because its chip technology is used in mobile phones all over the world, with limited revenue derived from Britain.

Remarkable news on such an early Monday morning. One of the larger purchases in the technology world, and of a core and extremely crucial company at that. I'm wondering if the major technology companies are okay with this deal, since many of them rely heavily on ARM's technology.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 17th Jul 2016 22:24 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

I worked for Lexra, a scrappy CPU company, now out of business. The Lexra story is filled with lessons about the business of selling microprocessors and semiconductor intellectual property. I have found many incorrect statements published about Lexra. I hope to set the record straight.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Jul 2016 18:40 UTC
Apple

The latest numbers from market research firm IDC reveal that Mac sales experienced a slight year-over-year decline in the second quarter, dropping to 4.4 million from 4.8 million during the year-ago period.

Given the past 5-7 years, it's very unusual to see Apple's PC sales doing far worse than the overall PC market.

Then again, considering how Appple has been neglecting OS X for years now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, as well as the complete neglect all across the Apple PC product lineup - this really shouldn't come as a surprise.

If Apple doesn't care about its PC business, why should anyone else?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 14th Jul 2016 14:50 UTC
Games

Relive the 80s when the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System launches in stores on 11th November. The classic NES is back in a familiar-yet-new form as a mini replica of Nintendo's original home console. Plugging directly into a high-definition TV using the included HDMI cable, the console comes complete with 30 NES games built-in, including beloved classics like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, PAC-MAN and Kirby's Adventure.

The Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System comes packaged with an HDMI cable, a USB cable for powering the system*, and one Nintendo Classic Mini: NES Controller. And whether it's rediscovering an old favourite or experiencing the joy of NES for the first time, the fantastic collection of NES classics included with each and every system should have something for all players.

It's a tiny little NES! A tiny little NES! With games built-in! Yes, I know there are tons of clones and emulators out there, but nothing beats a trustworthy product from the actual manufacturer. There's still a ton of things we don't know - is it an ARM chip with an emulator? An actual NES miniaturised? Does it have the ability to load new games? Is it hackable? - but this is a 100% instabuy for me.

This thing is just too much of an adorable steal not to buy.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 13th Jul 2016 23:23 UTC, submitted by Rohan Pearce
OSNews, Generic OSes

From a great interview with JImm Hall, founder of FreeDOS:

Hall said there are three key categories of people who use FreeDOS: People looking to run classic DOS games, businesses that need to support legacy applications and developers building embedded systems.

FreeDOS is a great project. DOS is still in use all over the place, and having it still actively developed means it'll be around for years to come.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 13th Jul 2016 23:17 UTC
Apple

Sure enough, 45 minutes into the 2016 WWDC keynote, Tim Cook - not an SVP, but Tim himself! - unveiled Swift Playgrounds for iPad, "a new way to learn to code." Because I'd been thinking about it, I had my tweet ready: "I personally think a way to learn Swift is not what the iPad needs - it needs a 21st Century HyperCard. But let’s see."

Later, John Gruber (whose Daring Fireball blog is to Apple what BBC Radio 4's Today show is to British politics) provided a glimmer of hope: "Swift Playgrounds = the new HyperCard?"

Well, no, it turns out. It's not.

I have an iBook G3 specifically for OS9, and one of the things I have installed on it and occasionally play with is HyperCard - an absolutely amazing and fascinating piece of technology that Apple should release as-is for iOS just for curiosity's sake.

In any event, just like the full-blown IDE for iOS we talked about earlier, it's stuff like Swift Playgrounds that operating systems like iOS and Android really need if anyone ever wants to take them seriously as the future of computing.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 13th Jul 2016 23:12 UTC, submitted by Manoj_Shaw
Oracle and SUN

To enable organizations and developers to more easily and flexibly create and deploy on premises and cloud applications, we are pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle VM VirtualBox 5.1, the latest release of the world's most popular free and open source, cross-platform virtualization software.

Not a huge release, but, while an Oracle product, it's a must-have in the toolbox of anyone interested in running and playing with older operating systems.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th Jul 2016 23:55 UTC, submitted by arsipaani
In the News

From Engadget:

The source code for Apollo 11's guidance computer has been available for a while (Google hosted it several years ago, for instance), but would you know how to find it or search through it? As of this week, it's almost ridiculously easy. Former NASA intern Chris Garry has posted the entire Apollo Guidance Computer source code on GitHub, giving you a good peek at the software that took NASA to the Moon. As Reddit users point out, it's clear that the developers had a mighty sense of humor -- line 666 of the lunar landing turns up a "numero mysterioso," and there's even a reference to radio DJ Magnificent Montague's classic "burn, baby, burn."

Yes, it's been available for a while, but any moment to reflect on one of man's greatest technological achievements is a moment worth savouring.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th Jul 2016 23:49 UTC, submitted by Alfman
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Symantec and Norton are among the most popular security tools, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warns of critical flaws that could pose great risks.

A slew of corporate, government and personal computers are protected by Symantec, but are they really protected? Homeland Security believes there's reason to worry, and has issued a warning this week.

"Symantec and Norton branded antivirus products contain multiple vulnerabilities. Some of these products are in widespread use throughout government and industry," notes the alert. "Exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow a remote attacker to take control of an affected system."

My deep dislike and mistrust for antivirus peddlers and their shady business practices are known around these parts, so none of this obviously surprises me in the slightest. These are companies fooling otherwise fantastic websites like Ars Technica into publishing FUD articles about OS X/iOS/Android/Linux/BeOS/MULTICS eating all your documents and murdering your firstborn unlessyoubuytheirproductswhichareototallynotresourcehogsandreallyarentuselesspiecesofjunk, so I'm not surprised their products are insecure.

Since I'm anything but oblivious to the irony of posting this story (in fact, it's one of the prime reasons to post this), be sure to read the source note from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to make up your own mind.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Jul 2016 22:13 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

A look into Dr Abrasive's lab and a super detailed behind-the-scenes of what it took to engineer a plug-in-flash-card for the Sega Saturn.

Stop whatever you're doing (if at all safe), make a nice hot drink like coffee, tea, or some coco, sit down on the couch with your laptop or phone or whatever, get comfortable, turn down the lights, and enjoy 27 minutes of human ingenuity.

Stuff like this brings the biggest smile to my face.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Jul 2016 20:31 UTC
Android

A common criticism of free-software projects built for Android is that they all too often rely not just on the frameworks and libraries that are part of the official Android Open Source Project (AOSP), but on the proprietary APIs implemented in various add-ons from Google - such as the Google Maps API or the Google Cloud Messaging message-broker service. Working around these Google-supplied components is not trivial, but there is at least one effort underway to provide a drop-in free-software replacement: microG.

We talked about microG over two years ago.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Jul 2016 19:46 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Let me be clear - Pokemon Go and Niantic can now:

  • Read all your email
  • Send email as you
  • Access all your Google drive documents (including deleting them)
  • Look at your search history and your Maps navigation history
  • Access any private photos you may store in Google Photos
  • And a whole lot more

What's more, given the use of email as an authentication mechanism (think "Forgot password" links) they now have a pretty good chance of gaining access to your accounts on other sites too.

This only applies to iOS, so Android users seem to have nothing to worry about. The fault lies with Niantic, so let's hope they fix it soon.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 9th Jul 2016 00:58 UTC
In the News

When my brain started combining the complexity of being Black in America with the real world proposal of wandering and exploration that is designed into the gamplay of Pokemon GO, there was only one conclusion. I might die if I keep playing.

This week has proven he's not wrong.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 8th Jul 2016 22:38 UTC
Internet & Networking

Facebook Messenger has started rolling out Secret Conversations, a feature that enables end to end encryption for conversations within Messenger. Secret Conversations is built on Signal Protocol, a modern, open source, strong encryption protocol we developed for asynchronous messaging systems.

Signal Protocol powers our own private messaging app, Signal. The protocol is designed from the ground up to make seamless end-to-end encrypted messaging possible and to make private communication simple. To amplify the impact and scope of private communication, we also collaborate with other popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Google Allo, and now Facebook Messenger to help integrate Signal Protocol into those products.

These are all good steps forward, trail-blazed by - at least among the big companies - Apple.