Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Sep 2016 21:28 UTC
Amiga & AROS

Three months after v2.1.2 release, we've built a little update which fixes some of the issues found with applications and introduces some new ones as well. Almost no system file has been updated, but with this release you'll find a brand new version of Mapparium (which now allows to compute routes), a new, more secure build of OWB with upgraded openssl to 1.0.1t, the latest version of SimpleMail and PortablE (which was unluckily left-out by mistake in version 2.1.2). But this is not just a "refresh" update, it also includes some new applications like the FinalBurnAlpha emulator, meteMP3 player and, why not, the ColorCLI scripts, which will help customizing your system a little more.

Icaros Desktop is an AROS distribution - by lack of a better term - which is pretty easy to try out.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Sep 2016 21:25 UTC

Time stands still for some in the smartwatch market.

With Apple set to release "Series 2" of its Watch and Samsung prepping its Gear S3 timepiece, many of the biggest players that have embraced Google's Android Wear software have decided to hit pause on their own efforts.

It seems like only Apple and Samsung are willing - and capable - of propping up what is at best a lukewarm product segment.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Sep 2016 21:32 UTC

It's release day for all Apple users among us! iOS 10, watchOS 3, and that other one everybody always forgets, tvOS 10. Since iOS 10 probably matters the most to you:

iOS 10 features a redesigned Lock screen experience with 3D Touch-enabled notifications, a more easily accessible camera, and a widgets screen. A revamped Control Center also offers 3D Touch support along with new controls for music and HomeKit devices. Raise to Wake, a new feature for the latest devices, wakes up the iPhone without bypassing notifications.

Have fun updating.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 12th Sep 2016 17:20 UTC

The reasons some Mac lovers stick with OS 9 are practically as numerous as Apple operating systems themselves. There are some OS 9 subscribers who hold out for cost reasons. Computers are prohibitively expensive where they live, and these people would also need to spend thousands on new software licenses and updated hardware (on top of the cost of a new Mac). But many more speak of a genuine preference for OS 9. These users stick around purely because they can and because they think classic Mac OS offers a more pleasant experience than OS X. Creatives in particular speak about some of OS 9's biggest technical shortcomings in favorable terms. They aren't in love with the way one app crashing would bring down an entire system, but rather the design elements that can unfortunately lead to that scenario often better suit creative work.

If OS 9 had modern applications and - even moderately - modern hardware, I would be using it. No question. I have an iBook G3 fully working and running OS 9, including important software, within arm's grasp (I used to have an iMac G3 for the same purpose). It's difficult to explain, but the reason for me is Platinum, the user interface. OS 9's Finder, the graphical and behaviourial aspects of the user interface, the speed, the BeOS-like quirkiness - it all adds up to an operating system with a personality that is incredibly pleasant to use, regardless of the hodgepodge house-of-cards internals.

And personality is, unfortunately, what Windows, desktop Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android sorely, sorely lack.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 12th Sep 2016 17:14 UTC

Recent events have rocked the mobile computing world to its core. OpenBSD retired the zaurus port, leaving users in desperate need of a new device. And not long before that, Microsoft released the Anniversary Update to Windows 10, but increased the free space requirement needed to install the update to exceed what's possible on devices with only 32GB, leaving users with cheap 32GB eMMC equipped devices such as the HP Stream series searching for a new operating system. With necessity as both mother and father, the scene is set for a truly epic pairing. OpenBSD on the HP Stream 7.

The HP Stream line is a series of budget computers in a couple form factors. The Stream 11 is a fairly typical netbook. However, the Stream 7 and 8 are tablets. They look like cheap Android devices, but inside the case, they’re real boys, er PCs, with Intel Atom CPUs.

To install OpenBSD on such a device, we need a few parts.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 12th Sep 2016 17:10 UTC

Expecting a company that sells tablets to also provide tablet-oriented interfaces for the OS and major apps isn't unreasonable. But Google hasn't shown it is willing to provide those interfaces. My Android tablet advice still stands - I'll take Android tablets seriously once Google does.

All the interface regressions since Honeycomb still make Android tablets feel like an afterthought. While the Pixel C is a great demonstration of these problems, it's still not a great productivity device compared to the competition.

The side-by-side comparisons between Honeycomb and Nougat are damning. "Regression" isn't an adequate enough word for what's happening here.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 9th Sep 2016 23:58 UTC

Loki is the newest version of elementary OS, a design-oriented and open source Linux-based operating system for desktops and laptops. It succeeds Freya which was released in April of 2015.


ts and implemented over 20 blueprints. Altogether, these represent stability and security improvements, better internationalization, new features and options, and much more.

A great team doing great work. Elementary OS isn't exactly a good fit for the "I compile my own kernel every morning"-type Linux users, but for the more turnkey people among us, it's certainly worth a try.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 9th Sep 2016 23:12 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

This release continues to improve the Sailfish OS 2.0 experience. Storage settings allow users to format, and safely eject memory cards. It also provides access to the files on the device and on memory cards. Cloud support continues to evolve with a support of VK and with backup support for OneDrive and DropBox. With release 2.0.2 Sailfish OS adds support for Intex Aqua Fish and Jolla C devices. New hardware features of the devices, like FM radio and Dual SIM are now supported.

Sailfish users know where to get the update. There's also a much more detailed changelog.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 8th Sep 2016 23:24 UTC
Geek stuff, sci-fi...

Fifty years ago today, on 8 September 1966, Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek appeared on television for the first time - and forever changed the world. There's an endless string of articles all over the web, but as one of those Deep Space Nine fanatics the rest of the Trek world rather not talk about, this great article by Annalee Newitz really struck a cord with me.

Without this stubborn nugget of hope at its core, DS9 would be more like the 2000s version of Battlestar Galactica - a story about space mysticism and war that's laced with a fatalism about humanity. Ron Moore was an executive producer on DS9 and the creator of BSG, so the overlap makes sense. But on DS9, we are immersed in a world where our faith in the basic decency of intelligent beings can remain unshaken. Whether solid or liquid, most of the creatures who live on the space station always do the right thing. And most importantly, the good guys prevail not just because they are good, but because they are able to put their ideals to practical use. More than TNG and Voyager, DS9 helps us understand how humans got from the Bell Riots to social democracy in space. Our heroes do it by resisting imperialism and inequality and by allying themselves with other people who do. That's why the Federation has struck a deal with the Bajorans rather than the Cardassians.

"Do you think they'll be able to save us?" The best scene in all of Star Trek (this one's a close second).

Thank you, Mr. Roddenberry.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 8th Sep 2016 21:13 UTC

The EFF on Apple's removal of the 3.5mm jack:

The reasons for Apple abandoning the analog jack may be innocuous. Apple is obsessed with simple, clean design, and this move lets the company remove one more piece of clutter from the phone's body. It advertises that the move helps make the phone more water-resistant. And certainly, many people prefer a wireless listening experience. But intentionally or not, by removing the analog port, Apple is giving itself more control than ever over what people can do with music or other audio content on an iPhone. It's also opening the door to new pressures to take advantage of that power.

Meanwhile, over at BuzzFeed, Apple's Phil Shiller addresses the DRM and vendor lock-in concerns (bookmark the following quote for future reference):

Schiller thinks it's a silly argument. "The idea that there's some ulterior motive behind this move, or that it will usher in some new form of content management, it simply isn’t true," he says. "We are removing the audio jack because we have developed a better way to deliver audio. It has nothing to do with content management or DRM - that's pure, paranoid conspiracy theory."

Thankfully, I don't have to write a reply to Schiller, because Nilay Patel already did so - and eloquently to boot, outlining exactly why the worries over DRM and vendor lock-in are more than warranted. After listing seven pieces of evidence of current and possible upcoming cases of vendor lock-in and DRM, he concludes:

Now, these are all just dots - there's no line connecting them yet. But they are dots that Apple has put into the world, and when the most powerful company in technology creates as many dots around a single subject, it's not a conspiracy theory to suggest that they might one day be connected into the shape of a DRM audio scheme. It's simply pointing out the obvious.

Phil Schiller and Tim Cook want us to believe them on their blue eyes. I obviously don't - if you can blatantly lie several times over in open letters and press interviews about your illegal tax evasion, how on earth am I supposed to believe them on this?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 7th Sep 2016 22:29 UTC, submitted by leech
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The pinout of that 68K Game Shifter, however, does not match the Shifter IC in any of the Atari ST computers. But incidentally, the never released Atari Panther was to be a Motorola 68000 based game console. Furthermore, the Panther prototype board features a chip conspicuously marked 4118!

So after the cancellation of the Panther development in 1991, I may well be first person for 25 years to be looking at the design of its shifter chip.

I'm a sucker for these kinds of stories. Great work!


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 7th Sep 2016 22:24 UTC

Apple held its iPhone event tonight, and introduced the iPhone 7 and the Apple Watch Series 2. The iPhone's most interesting feature can only be found on the iPhone 7 Plus: a dual camera setup, consisting of a wide-angle and telephoto lens. Thanks to some software magic, Apple claims this camera can produce the kind of bokeh effect normally reserved for more expensive, dedicated cameras.

And yes: the iPhone 7 is ditching the 3.5mm jack in favour of lightning headphones, a dongle, or Apple's brand new AirPods - ugly wireless earbuds with a battery life of "up to" 5 hours, a hefty price tag, and the opportunity to live that Bluetooth headset lifestyle.

Other iPhone 7 tidbits: stereo speakers (that warrants a finally, right?), a new home button which isn't really a button but a little trackpad with a Taptic Engine (like Apple's new trackpads - you won't notice a difference, because the Taptic Engine is legitimately magic), and a few new colour options.

The new Apple Watch - the Series 2 - looks the same, but has a dual-core processor now, better waterproofing, and built-in GPS. Apple is also selling a version of the old Apple Watch equipped with the new processor, which they call the Series 1. The 'old' Apple Watch will remain on sale as well, but at a reduced price.

For the rest, the event wasn't all that exciting. I think the camera on the iPhone 7 Plus will be quite amazing, but for the rest both the new iPhone and the new Apple Watch are spec bumps - and there's nothing wrong with that, since we've reached the point where there's not much more you can do with a slab of glass. Apple also made a huge deal of a new infinite runner game for iOS, but other than the fact it's got Nintendo's Mario in it, I don't see how we need another infinite runner on mobile to compete with the other 20972194 we already have.

Rests me to say that Apple also announced that macOS Sierra will be released on 20 September and iOS 10 on 13 September.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Sep 2016 22:09 UTC

A member of another team told me that there was a leaked build that had a really bad bug in it. I forget exactly what the problem was, but the details aren't important. The team fixed the bug as soon as it was discovered, and they notified all the self-hosters and partners to upgrade to a new build immediately, but that bug was also out there in the leaked builds, ready to destroy computers and networks and most of Western civilization.

So how do you get people who are running a leaked build to stop running that build, with urgency?

Great story.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Sep 2016 14:56 UTC

People all over the world mail their broken iPhones to microsoldering specialist Jessa Jones. Aided by powerful microscopes and precision soldering irons, experts like Jessa pluck tiny chips off logic boards, swap them for new ones, and resurrect devices over which Apple's Genius Bar would say a eulogy.

Jessa can fix practically anything. But these days, she spends most of her time fixing just one thing. Because every single month, more and more iPhone 6 and (especially) 6 Plus devices show up at her shop, iPad Rehab, with the same problem: a gray, flickering bar at the top of the display and an unresponsive touchscreen.

Fascinating story. Remember, in the EU, you have a 2 year EU-wide warranty on your iPhone, no matter what Apple (or anyone else, for that matter) might tell you. If you are affected by this issue, Apple is legally obliged to either fix it, or replace your phone with a new one.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Sep 2016 10:26 UTC

Every single GameCube game can at least boot in Dolphin 5.0. Except one. Star Wars: The Clone Wars and its complex way of using the PowerPC Memory Management Unit rendered it unplayable in Dolphin up to this day. But finally as of Dolphin 5.0-540, this challenge has come and gone: Dolphin can finally boot every single GameCube game in the official library.

So what makes Star Wars: The Clone Wars so special? To truly understand what's going on, you need to have some knowledge on how the PowerPC's processor handles memory management and how Dolphin emulates it.

Some light reading for the Tuesday morning.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 4th Sep 2016 00:10 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

Haiku uses a custom vector image format to store icons. This is surprising both because most OSes consider bitmaps to be totally sufficient to represent icons and because there are plenty of vector graphics formats out this (e.g. SVG). The goal of the Haiku Vector Icon Format (HVIF) is to make vector icon files as small as possible. This allows Haiku to display icons as several sizes while still keeping the files small enough to fit into an inode (i.e., inside a file’s metadata). The goal of keeping the icons in the metadata is to reduce the disk reads needed to display a folder - it also each file to only require one disk read to display.

This blog post examines the details of the HVIF format using a hex editor and the canonical parser's source code. In the process of dissecting an example icon, I'll also show you an optimization bug in the icon image editor.

Great article.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 4th Sep 2016 00:10 UTC, submitted by lucas_maximus

OpenBSD 6.0 has been released, with tones of improvements. They're listing this one as one of the biggest changes:

In their latest attempt to push better security practices to the software ecosystem, OpenBSD has turned W^X on by default for the base system. Binaries can only violate W^X if they're marked with PT_OPENBSD_WXNEEDED and their filesystem is mounted with the new wxallowed option. The installer will set this flag on the /usr/local partition (where third party packages go) by default now, but users may need to manually add it if you're upgrading. More details can be found in this email. If you don't use any W^X-violating applications, you don't need the flag at all.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd Sep 2016 23:24 UTC, submitted by avgalen

Project Ara, Google's lofty vision of a modular smartphone with a vibrant third-party hardware ecosystem, is no more.

A Google spokesperson confirmed today that the company has suspended its plan to bring the modular smartphone to market after nearly three years of development, following a revealing report from Reuters.

I've always liked the idea of Project Ara, but I guess the technological challenges combined with the (I assume) limited consumer interest were too great to overcome.

Too bad.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Sep 2016 22:54 UTC

Reports have surfaced indicating that the Galaxy Note 7 launch has been delayed in parts of Europe - Germany in particular - as sales were set to commence this week. The news lands corresponding with multiple reports coming out of Korea that Samsung has plans to issue recalls for phones - anywhere from just some Exynos variants up to all Galaxy Note 7s that have been sold.

I suggest free bumpers.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Sep 2016 22:49 UTC

We are proud to announce that the PC-BSD project has evolved into TrueOS: a modern, cutting-edge distribution of FreeBSD focused on security, simplicity, and stability for desktops, servers, and beyond! TrueOS harnesses the best elements of PC-BSD, combines it with security technologies from OpenBSD, and layers it on top of FreeBSD to provide a complete system for modern machines.

I'm a little confused - while there is mention of TrueOS on the PC-BSD homepage (it's their server offering), there's no mention of TrueOS being the successor or something along those lines to PC-BSD at all. Weird.