Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 18th Mar 2017 00:51 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Swatch Group AG said it's developing an alternative to the iOS and Android operating systems for smartwatches as Switzerland's largest maker of timepieces vies with Silicon Valley for control of consumers' wrists.

The company's Tissot brand will introduce a model around the end of 2018 that uses the Swiss-made system, which will also be able to connect small objects and wearables, Swatch Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said in an interview Thursday. The technology will need less battery power and it will protect data better, he said later at a press conference.

It makes sense. Unlike as on smartphones or PCs, I don't think people really want applications on smartwatches. Notifications and fitness - that's what seems to define the (admittedly, limited) appeal of smartwatches. There's no reason why a traditional watchmaker wouldn't be able to provide such limited functionality in a robust way, possibly providing anything from watches that are all-screen to mechanical watches with more limited 'smart' additions.

With Wear 2.0 effectively being fake news at this point, where else is Swatch going to turn to?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 17th Mar 2017 22:48 UTC
AMD

Realistically, nobody should have expected Ryzen to be king of the hill when it comes to gaming. We know that Broadwell isn't, after all; Intel's Skylake and Kaby Lake parts both beat Broadwell in a wide range of games. This is the case even though Skylake and Kaby Lake are limited to four cores and eight threads; for many or most games, high IPC and high clock speeds are the key to top performance, and that's precisely what Kaby Lake delivers.

In spite of this, reading the various reviews around the Web - and comment threads, tweets, and reddit posts - one gets the feeling that many were hoping or expecting Ryzen to somehow beat Intel across the board, and there's a prevailing narrative that Ryzen is in some sense a bad gaming chip. But this argument is often paired with the claim that some kind of non-specific "optimization" is going to salvage the processor's performance, that AMD fans just need to keep the faith for a few months, and that soon Ryzen's full power will be revealed.

Both parts of this reaction are more than a little flawed.

I'm just glad there's finally competition in the desktop processor space again. Intel started to charge some outrageous prices these past few years, but if you wanted the best performance, you really didn't have much of a choice.

With Ryzen, AMD is showing the world it's back on track. It might not be there yet in every aspect, but it's an amazingly promising start.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 17th Mar 2017 22:45 UTC
Windows

Now Microsoft is planning to preload another app in Windows 10: Sling TV. While only US Windows 10 users will get Sling TV preloaded without the necessary subscription, it will sit alongside Candy Crush and Solitaire as other examples of what will soon be described as bloatware. Thankfully, it’s easy to uninstall these unnecessary apps, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft won’t add more to the mix in the future. Microsoft used to blame its OEM partners for bundling lots of useless apps on Windows PCs, but now it has itself to blame for doing the same to Windows 10.

More and more ads are coming to products you actually already pay for.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Mar 2017 23:14 UTC, submitted by uridium
NetBSD

NetBSD 7.1 has been released.

Some highlights of the 7.1 release are:

  • Support for Raspberry Pi Zero.
  • Initial DRM/KMS support for NVIDIA graphics cards via nouveau (Disabled by default. Uncomment nouveau and nouveaufb in your kernel config to test).
  • The addition of vioscsi, a driver for the Google Compute Engine disk.
  • Linux compatibility improvements, allowing, e.g., the use of Adobe Flash Player 24.
  • wm(4):
    • C2000 KX and 2.5G support.
    • Wake On Lan support.
    • 82575 and newer SERDES based systems now work.
  • ODROID-C1 Ethernet now works.
  • Numerous bug fixes and stability improvements.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Mar 2017 23:09 UTC
Windows

Ars Technica reports:

A recently published Knowledge Base article suggests that Microsoft is going to block Windows Updates for owners of the latest Intel and AMD processors if they try to run Windows 7 or 8.1.

Last year, Microsoft announced a shift in the way it would support Windows. Going forward, new processors, including Intel's Kaby Lake and AMD's recently-released Ryzen, would require the newest version of Windows. Users of Windows 7 and 8.1 would be out of luck, with Microsoft having no plans to support the new chips on the old operating systems.

Take note.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Mar 2017 22:46 UTC
Google

Today some Google Home owners reported hearing something extra when they asked for a summary of the day ahead from the smart speaker: an advertisement for the opening of Beauty and the Beast. Several users on Reddit have noticed the audio ad and Bryson Meunier posted a clip to Twitter. Some Android users also reported hearing the ad through Google Assistant on mobile.

And from the Total Bullshit Dpt., also known as Google PR:

This wasn’t intended to be an ad. What’s circulating online was a part of our My Day feature, where after providing helpful information about your day, we sometimes call out timely content. We’re continuing to experiment with new ways to surface unique content for users and we could have done better in this case.

It was an ad, plain and simple. A corporate statement like this, which is clearly, utterly, 100% a lie, should be illegal, and punishable by massive fines. This kind of callous behaviour is a disgrace.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Mar 2017 22:42 UTC
Features, Office

Many science fiction writers - including myself, Roger MacBride Allen, Gerald Brandt, Jeffrey A. Carver, Arthur C. Clarke, David Gerrold, Terence M. Green, James Gunn, Matthew Hughes, Donald Kingsbury, Eric Kotani, Paul Levinson, George R. R. Martin, Vonda McIntyre, Kit Reed, Jennifer Roberson, and Edo van Belkom - continue to use WordStar for DOS as our writing tool of choice.

Still, most of us have endured years of mindless criticism of our decision, usually from WordPerfect users, and especially from WordPerfect users who have never tried anything but that program. I've used WordStar, WordPerfect, Word, MultiMate, Sprint, XyWrite, and just about every other MS-DOS and Windows word-processing package, and WordStar is by far my favorite choice for creative composition at the keyboard.

That's the key point: aiding creative composition. To understand how WordStar does that better than other programs, let me start with a little history.

An old article from 1990 and updated in 1996, reprinted, but still a good read.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 15th Mar 2017 23:22 UTC
Apple

Some interesting figures from LinkedIn, who benchmark the compiling times of their Swift-based iOS application. You'd think the Mac Pro would deliver the fastest compiles, but as it turns out - that's not quite true.

As you can see, 12-core MacPro is indeed the slowest machine to build our code with Swift, and going from the default 24 jobs setting down to only 5 threads improves compilation time by 23%. Due to this, even a 2-core Mac Mini ($1,399.00) builds faster than the 12-cores Mac Pro ($6,999.00).

As Steven Troughton-Smith notes on Twitter - "People suggested that the Mac Pro is necessary because devs need more cores; maybe we just need better compilers? There's no point even theorizing about a 24-core iMac Pro if a 4-core MBP or mini will beat it at compiling."

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 15th Mar 2017 23:15 UTC
BSD and Darwin derivatives

In this paper we are going to introduce the evolution of DragonFlyBSD's network stack in the past 10 years: what's the current state of its network stack, the important changes we did to it, why the important changes, and the lessons we learned. Finally, I'd like to list the areas that DragonFlyBSD's network stack can enjoy help hands.

A detailed look at DragonFlyBSD's network stack.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Mar 2017 19:30 UTC
Window Managers

Window Maker 0.95.8 has been released. It contains a number of changes related to window snapping and quite a number of other changes for what is supposedly a point release.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Mar 2017 19:27 UTC
General Development

This release is the result of the community's work over the past six months, including: use of profile data in ThinLTO, more aggressive dead code elimination, experimental support for coroutines, experimental AVR target, better GNU ld compatibility and significant performance improvements in LLD, as well as improved optimizations, many bug fixes and more.

The release notes have all the details.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 11th Mar 2017 01:16 UTC
Apple

A few years ago, backstage at a conference, I spotted a blind woman using her phone. The phone was speaking everything her finger touched on the screen, allowing her to tear through her apps. My jaw hit the floor. After years of practice, she had cranked the voice's speed so high, I couldn't understand a word it was saying.

And here's the kicker: She could do all of this with the screen turned off. Her phone's battery lasted forever.

Ever since that day, I've been like a kid at a magic show. I've wanted to know how it's done. I've wanted an inside look at how the blind could navigate a phone that's basically a slab of featureless glass.

This week, I got my chance. Joseph Danowsky offered to spend a morning with me, showing me the ropes.

There's a ton to dislike about iOS, but its assistive technologies for people with disabilities are absolutely spectacular. Nothing even comes close to it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 10th Mar 2017 23:35 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Of the many, many, many bad things about passwords, you know what the worst is? Password rules.

Read this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 10th Mar 2017 23:34 UTC
Windows

I've led the charge against Microsoft's advertising efforts in Windows, noting back in 2012 that the software giant cheapened Windows 8 with ads. Despite my warnings about a slippery slope - Microsoft would only escalate its in-box advertising down the road, I cautioned - Windows 10, sadly, was even worse. And now the Creators Update is coming, bringing with it yet another escalation of in-product advertising. Most notably, and most disturbingly, in File Explorer.

iOS and Android do the same thing, where they pester you left and right with ads for nonsense like music services or cloud storage. It's user-hostile and infuriating.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Mar 2017 23:33 UTC
Games

In Kingsway, Andrew Morrish's upcoming PC role-playing game, monsters are pop-ups, quests are emails and your backpack is a cluttered file folder. That's right, it's an OSRPG.

Coming to PC later this year via Adult Swim games, Kingsway is a role-playing adventure that takes the form of the Kingsway Operating System, which is basically a primitive Windows/MacOS for the monster-slaying set. Travel the King's land via World Navigator window, slaying monsters as they pop up on your desktop. Drag-and-drop windows to your heart's content.

Incredibly creative, and I can't wait to play this when it comes out. And honestly - the 'operating system' looks better than most of the actual operating systems we have today.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Mar 2017 23:29 UTC
In the News

Times Insider shares historic insights from The New York Times. In this article, John Markoff, who covered technology for The Times for 28 years before retiring last month, continues to rue the paper's 1995 choice of nytimes.com over his own nyt.com: "Do you have any idea what a three-letter domain is worth these days?"

I love stories like this.

 

Linked by Intuition on Thu 9th Mar 2017 23:24 UTC
IBM

The fundamental components of computers are becoming small enough that they are pressing against the boundaries of the familiar world of Newtonian physics. And nowhere is the scale and precision of operation on better display than in hard disk drives, where a trillion bits may fit in a square inch. But IBM has outdone them all by reading and writing data to a single atom.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Mar 2017 12:53 UTC
Legal

But the mood is different in South Korea these days. There's always been public opposition to corruption and nepotism in the country's chaebol conglomerates, but the country has never seen anything like the massive protests that swept the streets last year and helped drive President Park's approval rating down to four percent. In a climate like this, where widespread outrage can lead to the impeachment of a president, even a Samsung chairman might have reason to worry.

When a Korean, Chinese, African, or South-American man gives money to politicians in exchange for favours, we call it corruption. When a western man gives money to politicians in exchange for favours, we call it lobbying.

Language shapes perception.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 8th Mar 2017 23:34 UTC
Internet & Networking

Fantastic article by Stephanie M. Lee:

Welcome to the vast universe of self-built social media empires devoted to spreading false, misleading, and polarizing science and health news - sometimes further and wider than the real information. Here, climate change is a government-sponsored hoax, fluoridated water is poisonous, cannabis can cure cancer, and airplanes are constantly spraying pesticides and biological waste into the air. Genetically modified food is destroying humanity and the planet. Vaccines are experimental, autism-causing injections forced on innocent babies. We can't trust anything that we eat, drink, breathe, or medicate with, nor rely on physicians and public health agencies to act in our best interests. Between the organic recipes and menacing stock images of syringes and pills, a clear theme emerges: Everything is rigged - by doctors, Big Pharma, Monsanto, the FDA - and the mainstream media isn’t telling us. (Also, there's usually a link to buy vitamins.) This messaging reflects a new, uniquely conspiratorial strain of libertarianism that hijacks deeply intimate issues - your body, your health, your children's health. It shares magnificently.

Indeed, gone are the days when these types of stories would struggle for traction in a media landscape dominated by a few television networks, newspapers, and radio stations. Now anyone on Facebook can take their snake oil straight to the masses - and their message is reverberating in the highest levels of government. Vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who says he's in touch with Trump about a "vaccine safety commission" recently announced a $100,000 "challenge" to prove their safety. Andrew Wakefield, who helped start the anti-vaccine movement with a fraudulent 1998 study that linked vaccines to autism, showed up at an inaugural ball. The president has called climate change a "hoax" and appointed a skeptic to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pseudoscience is closer than ever to the mainstream.

Clearly, not vaccinating your children is child abuse and should be treated as such; not only does it endanger the lives of your own children, but also the lives of other children who may rely on herd immunity because they can't take vaccinations for proper medical reasons. The fact that these child abusers are this close to the president of the United States and the US government should send chills down the spine of every responsible parent.

The war on science is in full swing, and they've already won the White House and US Congress. The amount of damage that can be - and is being - done is staggering.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 8th Mar 2017 23:24 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source

As we can read in recent news, VMware has become a gold member of the Linux foundation. That causes - to say the least - very mixed feelings to me.

One thing to keep in mind: The Linux Foundation is an industry association, it exists to act in the joint interest of it's paying members. It is not a charity, and it does not act for the public good. I know and respect that, while some people sometimes appear to be confused about its function.

However, allowing an entity like VMware to join, despite their many years long disrespect for the most basic principles of the FOSS Community (such as: Following the GPL and its copyleft principle), really is hard to understand and accept.