Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 27th Jan 2018 00:47 UTC

Following the publication last year of the data collected by Windows 10's built-in telemetry and diagnostic tracking, Microsoft today announced that the next major Windows 10 update, due around March or April, will support a new app, the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer, that will allow Windows users to browse and inspect the data that the system has collected.

While I doubt this tool will alleviate any of the concerns some people have over Windows 10's data collection, it does at least give some insight into what's being sent to Microsoft - assuming, that is, you trust the reporting to be truthful and accurate.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 24th Jan 2018 14:40 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

If there's one thing that will make even the most powerful computer feel like a 7 year old rig, it's Adobe Lightroom paired with RAW files from any high-megapixel camera.

In my case, I spent over a year of spare time editing 848GB worth of 11,000+ 42-megapixel RAW photos and 4K videos from my New Zealand trip and making these nine photosets. I quickly realized that my two year old iMac was not up to the challenge.

In 2015 I took a stab at solving my photo storage problem with a cloud-backed 12TB Synology NAS. That setup is still running great. Now I just need to keep up with the performance requirements of having the latest camera gear with absurd file sizes.

I decided it was time to upgrade to something a bit more powerful. This time I decided to build a PC and switch to Windows 10 for my heavy computing tasks. Yes, I switched to Windows.

I love articles like this, because there is no one true way to build a computer for any task, and everyone has their own opinions and ideas and preferences, making sure not one self-built PC is the same as anyone else's. Add in a healthy dose of urban legends and tradition, and you have a great cocktail for endless discussions that never go anywhere.

It's clickbait without actually being clickbait.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 24th Jan 2018 14:34 UTC

The European Commission has fined Qualcomm €997m for abusing its market dominance in LTE baseband chipsets. Qualcomm prevented rivals from competing in the market by making significant payments to a key customer on condition it would not buy from rivals. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.

Qualcomm sounds like an upstanding company. Of course, they are appealing the decision.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 23rd Jan 2018 22:35 UTC

After years of work, hackers have finally managed to unlock the PS4 hardware with an exploit that lets the system run homebrew and pirated PS4 software. In a somewhat more surprising discovery, those hackers have also unlocked the ability to run many PS2 games directly on the console, using the same system-level emulation that powers legitimate PlayStation Classics downloads.

That's actually quite useful. Too bad this requires hacking and cracking, instead of it simply being a legitimate option. I have quite a few PS2 games I'd love to play directly on my PS4, instead of having to buy remasters.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 23rd Jan 2018 22:31 UTC
Mac OS X

Along with macOS High Sierra 10.13.3, Apple this morning released two new security updates that are designed to address the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities on machines that continue to run macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan.

As outlined in Apple's security support document, Security Update 2018-001 available for macOS Sierra 10.12.6 and OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 offers several mitigations for both Meltdown and Spectre, along with fixes for other security issues, and the updates should be installed immediately.

Together with last week's update, this means the last three major revisions of macOS are now protected from the processor bugs.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 23rd Jan 2018 22:26 UTC
Internet & Networking

Today we're taking a major step to simplify online privacy with the launch of fully revamped versions of our browser extension and mobile app, now with built-in tracker network blocking, smarter encryption, and, of course, private search - all designed to operate seamlessly together while you search and browse the web. Our updated app and extension are now available across all major platforms - Firefox, Safari, Chrome, iOS, and Android - so that you can easily get all the privacy essentials you need on any device with just one download.

Seems like a natural extension of what DuckDuckGo is already known for. Nice work.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Jan 2018 17:51 UTC

Microsoft is making a bigger push to keep students and teachers using Windows this week. At the annual Bett education show in London, Microsoft is revealing new Windows 10 and Windows 10 S devices that are priced from just $189. The software giant is also partnering with the BBC, LEGO, NASA, PBS, and Pearson to bring a variety of Mixed Reality and video curricula to schools.

Lenovo has created a $189 100e laptop. It’s based on Intel’s Celeron Apollo Lake chips, so it’s a low-cost netbook essentially, designed for schools. Lenovo is also introducing its 300e, a 2-in-1 laptop with pen support, priced at $279. The new Lenovo devices are joined by two from JP, with a Windows Hello laptop priced at $199 and a pen and touch device at $299. All four laptops will be targeted towards education, designed to convince schools not to switch to Chromebooks.

I'm not sure if these wil persuade schools away from Chromebooks, but assuming non-education customers can get them as well, they may be great little machines for running secondary operating systems on.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 20th Jan 2018 00:13 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The disclosure of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities has brought a new level of attention to the security bugs that can lurk at the hardware level. Massive amounts of work have gone into improving the (still poor) security of our software, but all of that is in vain if the hardware gives away the game. The CPUs that we run in our systems are highly proprietary and have been shown to contain unpleasant surprises (the Intel management engine, for example). It is thus natural to wonder whether it is time to make a move to open-source hardware, much like we have done with our software. Such a move may well be possible, and it would certainly offer some benefits, but it would be no panacea.

Given the complexity of modern CPUs and the fierceness of the market in which they are sold, it might be surprising to think that they could be developed in an open manner. But there are serious initiatives working in this area; the idea of an open CPU design is not pure fantasy. A quick look around turns up several efforts; the following list is necessarily incomplete.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Jan 2018 23:57 UTC

So after the recent news that the Fuchsia team picked the Chrome OS-powered Google Pixelbook as a supported device, we jumped at the chance to get it up and running. And after a little elbow grease, it actually booted. Now, we're not just running the system UI on top of Android like last time, we're running Fuchsia directly on a piece of hardware!

This means it's finally time for a deep dive on what Fuchsia looks like in early 2018. Our usual in-development OS testing caveats apply: Fuchsia only started development in 2016 and probably has several years of development time ahead of it. Everything can - and probably will - change between now and release (if a release ever even happens). Google won't even officially acknowledge the OS exists - Fuchsia is a bunch of code sitting on

This is quite exciting, and I'm definitely jealous I can't justify buying a Pixelbook just for this. Not that I could - as with everything Google, it's not available here.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Jan 2018 23:51 UTC
General Development

The Wine team has released Wine 3.0. The main new features and improvements are:

  • Direct3D 10 and 11 support.
  • The Direct3D command stream.
  • The Android graphics driver.
  • Improved DirectWrite and Direct2D support.

You'll get it through your distribution of choice, or you can build or download it yourself.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Jan 2018 01:07 UTC

Nintendo unveiled what it calls a "new interactive experience" for Nintendo Switch today that’s unlike anything else on the console. Called Nintendo Labo, it’s a "new line of interactive build-and-play experiences that combine DIY creations with the magic of Nintendo Switch," according to Nintendo.

Labo will let Nintendo Switch owners build cardboard versions of real-world items like a 13-key piano, fishing rod or motorbike. Nintendo calls those cardboard creations Toy-Cons. And, by inserting Joy-Con controllers into those Toy-Cons, players will be able to play games themed to the cardboard creations.

This is a great idea, and such a novel thing to do with a games console.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Jan 2018 00:43 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

In late 2002, decided to combat falling ad revenue by charging admission to its archives of computing content. I have first-hand experience tring to harvest enough revenue from the Internet to pay operating costs, and fully support Byte's decision to move to a subscription model. However, my BeView columns on are now virtually hidden from search engines and thus from the Internet, and hundreds of incoming links (which now redirect to a subscription page) might as well be broken.

The BeOS content I provided to over the two years I wrote for them is tailored to a very specific niche audience. BeOS itself is, for practical intents and purposes, completely dead. Even though these articles were surprisingly well-trafficked at the time, it is hard for me to imagine that anyone would pay for access to the Byte archives just to read a few old nuggets.

Scot Hacker's BeOS columns for Byte, neatly archived. What an amazing treasure trove. I don't think this archive is new by any means, but it's the first time I've seen it.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Jan 2018 00:37 UTC

"It's the world’s thinnest notebook," said Steve Jobs as he introduced the MacBook Air 10 years ago today. Apple's Macworld 2008 was a special one, taking place just days after the annual Consumer Electronics Show had ended and Bill Gates bid farewell to Microsoft. Jobs introduced the MacBook Air by removing it from a tiny paper office envelope, and the crowd was audibly shocked at just how small and thin it was. We'd never seen a laptop quite like it, and it immediately changed the future of laptops.

The unveiling of the original MacBook Air was a watershed moment for laptop. Sure, the first model wasn't exactly a speedy machine, and it had an incredibly hefty price tag, but it changed the entire market. Later models became incredibly successful, and for years it formed the backbone of Apple's laptop lineup. Every other manufacturer would eventually copy most of its design and construction, to the point where every laptop in the €800-1200 range sported the MacBook Air-like design.

It became the benchmark every other similarly priced laptop was compared to.

It's still for sale today, but it's an outdated machine mostly kept around for its low price, ironically enough. Interestingly enough, just today, I bought a new keyboard for my iOS laptop (a 2017 iPad Pro 12.9"), which gives it a look very similar to a MacBook Air - just without the legacy operating system. The spirit of the Air definitely lives on in laptops of the future.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Jan 2018 22:10 UTC

Tim Bray, former Google employee, currently working at Amazon, writes:

I think Google has stopped indexing the older parts of the Web. I think I can prove it. Google’s competition is doing better.

It's an interesting theory for sure, but it seems hard to back this up with any tangible evidence. How would you even test this? You can pick specific web sites to test this with, but that will always be an incredibly small - infinitesimally, unbelievably small - subset of web sites, and there's no way to extrapolate any of that to the web as a whole. To make matters worse, Google tailors search results to the information they have on you, making this even harder.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Jan 2018 22:04 UTC

US lawmakers have long worried about the security risks posed the alleged ties between Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE and the country's government. To that end, Texas Representative Mike Conaway introduced a bill last week called Defending U.S. Government Communications Act, which aims to ban US government agencies from using phones and equipment from the companies.

Almost all phones and electronics - including most "American" or "European" phones - are made in China. This seems more like a battle in a wider trade war than something related to spying.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Jan 2018 21:09 UTC
In the News

Around 8:05 a.m., the Hawaii emergency employee initiated the internal test, according to a timeline released by the state. From a drop-down menu on a computer program, he saw two options: "Test missile alert" and "Missile alert". He was supposed to choose the former; as much of the world now knows, he chose the latter, an initiation of a real-life missile alert.

"In this case, the operator selected the wrong menu option," HEMA spokesman Richard Rapoza told The Washington Post on Sunday.

A dropdown menu with just two options. That's incredibly bad user interface design.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 13th Jan 2018 23:59 UTC
Mac OS X

I used an Apple IIe computer throughout high school and into my second year in college, before I bought a Mac SE. That following summer I sold the Apple IIe and everything that came with it - the monitor, floppy drives, and dot-matrix printer - and pocketed the cash. What I was left with were two boxes containing two dozen 5.25-inch floppy disks.

I could've thrown the disks away - I had already transferred all the files I cared about to the Mac. But for some reason I saved them instead. And the two dozen floppy disks stayed in two battered boxes for the next 27 years.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 13th Jan 2018 23:56 UTC

Apple designed the iOS platform with security at its core. When we set out to create the best possible mobile platform, we drew from decades of experience to build an entirely new architecture. We thought about the security hazards of the desktop environment, and established a new approach to security in the design of iOS. We developed and incorporated innovative features that tighten mobile security and protect the entire system by default. As a result, iOS is a major leap forward in security for mobile devices.

This document provides details about how security technology and features are implemented within the iOS platform. It will also help organizations combine iOS platform security technology and features with their own policies and procedures to meet their specific security needs.

Some light reading over the weekend.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 13th Jan 2018 23:53 UTC

I enjoyed reading Terry Crowley's thoughtful blog (What Really Happened with Vista). Terry worked in the Office organization and did a fantastic job covering the complex machinations that went into Windows Vista and the related but doomed Longhorn project - from an outsider's point of view.

He correctly identified many of the problems that dogged the project and I don't mean to rehash any of them here. I figured it was only fair to try to offer an insider's view of the same events. I can't hope to be as eloquent or thorough as Terry but hope to shed some light on what went wrong. Ten years have gone by since the original release date of Windows Vista but the lessons seem more relevant now than ever.

I really enjoy these stories from people involved with the Vista project. Even though we complained left and right about Vista itself, the release was still hugely important and many of Windows NT's core systems were rewritten from scratch, and we still profit from those reworks and rewrites today.

Doesn't retroactively make using Vista any less painful, though.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 12th Jan 2018 23:52 UTC

Gamers of a certain age probably remember that Nintendo worked with Maxis to port a version of the seminal SimCity to the brand-new SNES in 1991. What most gamers probably don't realize is that an NES version of the game was developed at the same time and cancelled just before its planned release.

That version of the game was considered lost for decades until two prototype cartridges surfaced in the collecting community last year. One of those prototypes has now been obtained and preserved by the Video Game History Foundation's (VGHF's) Frank Cifaldi, who demonstrated the emulated ROM publicly for the first time at MAGFest last weekend.

I'm a SimCity 2000 person myself, but the original SimCity is a classic, and I love that they finally managed to preserve it.