Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Feb 2017 22:47 UTC, submitted by kragil
Legal

What did Vizio know about what was going on in the privacy of consumers' homes? On a second-by-second basis, Vizio collected a selection of pixels on the screen that it matched to a database of TV, movie, and commercial content. What's more, Vizio identified viewing data from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players, and over-the-air broadcasts. Add it all up and Vizio captured as many as 100 billion data points each day from millions of TVs.

Vizio then turned that mountain of data into cash by selling consumers' viewing histories to advertisers and others. And let’s be clear: We're not talking about summary information about national viewing trends. According to the complaint, Vizio got personal. The company provided consumers' IP addresses to data aggregators, who then matched the address with an individual consumer or household. Vizio's contracts with third parties prohibited the re-identification of consumers and households by name, but allowed a host of other personal details - for example, sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, and home ownership. And Vizio permitted these companies to track and target its consumers across devices.

That's... That's a lot of very creepy spying.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 6th Feb 2017 14:56 UTC, submitted by martini
OS/2 and eComStation

Per Arca Noae's revised release schedule, and as announced at Warpstock 2016, Blue Lion (ArcaOS 5.0) moved into beta testing stage today. The first beta release has been made available to the test team, and we anticipate a rigorous round of installation, modifications, formatting, deletion, disk wiping, and all that other fun stuff which accompanies a healthy beta test.

We do not anticipate a public beta cycle nor are we planning a gamma release or an untold number of release candidates. Instead, we fully expect ArcaOS 5.0 to emerge from beta testing at the end of March and to become generally available at that time.

As mentioned during earlier coverage, ArcaOS is a sort-of continuation of eComStation, since it's founded by several eCS developers who felt eCS had ground to a halt.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 6th Feb 2017 14:52 UTC
Amiga & AROS

The VA2000 is a FPGA based graphics card for Amiga 2000/3000/4000 computers featuring high resolutions and color depth over DVI-D/HDMI. It has a hacker-friendly expansion header for upgrades and custom mods and features a slot for MicroSD cards that can be mounted in AmigaOS.

The YouTube video provides additional insight into the open source graphics card. Interestingly enough, I've been looking into getting my hands on a classic Amiga, but the one I would want - an A3000 or A4000 - are quite hard to come by here in The Netherlands.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Feb 2017 23:15 UTC
IBM

This is interesting: it turns out there was a NextStep release for IBM AIX workstations. From the initial, archived press release (via Steven Troughton-Smith):

AIX PS/2 NextStep Environment Version 1.1 is a state-of-the-art graphical user interface and programming environment for AIX workstations, designed to be compatible with the same application programming interface (API) as the NextStep product, Software Release 1.0, provided by NeXT, Incorporated.

AIX PS/2 NextStep Environment Version 1.1 provides icons and menus to facilitate access to system utilities and applications. The AIX NextStep Interface Builder is designed to provide a rich set of well-defined objects and graphical cut-and-paste capabilities for designing and implementing application user interfaces. The Objective-C (3) Compiler provides the benefits of object-oriented programming for developers who choose to design additional objects for the application development environment. AIX PS/2 NextStep Environment can help increase the productivity of programmers and end users.

Steven Troughton-Smith, who has a thing for collecting NEXT/early OS X builds and versions, is now looking for this piece of software history, but not a whole lot can be found about this online. I did ran into a thread in comp.sys.next.advocacy from 1995 in which a Robin D. Wilson sheds some more light onto the fate of this product:

And we ran it on an RS/6000 model 540 (with 63MB of RAM no less) -- it was pretty fast. The thing that killed it is Steve Jobs wanted IBM pay more money for 2.0. They had only _just_ finished porting 1.0 to AIX (it did run on top of AIX -- and there were several hacks made to accomodate it -- but it did run fine). When NeXT was shipping 2.0, IBM felt they wouldn't be able to sell 1.0 (there we some rather dramatic improvements between 1.0 and 2.0). They also didn't want to spend more money on it (as SJ was demanding for 2.0), and they didn't feel like porting 2.0 would take any less time (meaning they wouldn't get done until NeXT released a newer version). All that considered -- IBM abandoned NS.

This wasn't a "bad decision" by SJ (per se), but I can see IBM's view on this easier than I can see NeXT's...

Steven also stumbled upon a very, very long FAQ about NextStep/AIX, which contains tons of information. This will probably be very hard to find, but for the sake of digital archaeology and preservation, we really need to find it somewhere and preserve it. Absolutely fascinating.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Feb 2017 22:52 UTC
General Unix

But today's breakthroughs would be nowhere and would not have been possible without what came before them - a fact we sometimes forget. Mainframes led to personal computers, which gave way to laptops, then tablets and smartphones, and now the Internet of Things. Today much of the interoperability we enjoy between our devices and systems - whether at home, the office or across the globe - owes itself to efforts in the 1980s and 1990s to make an interoperable operating system (OS) that could be used across diverse computing environments - the UNIX operating system.

[...]

As part of the standardization efforts undertaken by IEEE, it developed a small set of application programming interfaces (APIs). This effort was known as POSIX, or Portable Operation System Interface. Published in 1988, the POSIX.1 standard was the first attempt outside the work at AT&T and BSD (the UNIX derivative developed at the University of California at Berkeley) to create common APIs for UNIX systems. In parallel, X/Open (an industry consortium consisting at that time of over twenty UNIX suppliers) began developing a set of standards aligned with POSIX that consisted of a superset of the POSIX APIs. The X/Open standard was known as the X/Open Portability Guide and had an emphasis on usability. ISO also got involved in the efforts, by taking the POSIX standard and internationalizing it.

A short look at the history of UNIX standardisation and POSIX.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Feb 2017 22:48 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Let's talk about elections! Except not the American ones, but the Dutch elections, coming up in March.

Concerned about the role hackers and false news might have played in the United States election, the Dutch government announced on Wednesday that all ballots in next month's elections would be counted by hand.

We haven't been using electronic voting ever since it was demonstrated the machines were quite easily hackable, but everything higher up in the stack was still electronic - such as counting the paper ballot and tallying up the results from the individual voting districts. The upcoming election will now be entirely done by hand - voting, counting, and tallying, making it that much harder for foreign powers to meddle in our elections.

This switch to full manual voting is taken two days after Sijmen Ruwhof posted a detailed article explaining just how easy it would be to hack our voting process.

Journalists from Dutch TV station RTL contacted me last week and wanted to know whether the Dutch elections could be hacked. They had been tipped off that the current Dutch electoral software used weak cryptography in certain parts of its system (SHA1).

I was stunned and couldn't believe what I had just heard. Are we still relying on computers for our voting process?

Turns out the "security" of the counting machines and software, as well as the practices of everything around it, is absolutely terrible. The article is an endless stream of facepalms - and really shines a light on just how lacklustre the whole electronic part of the process was, and hence provides an interesting look behind the scenes of an election.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Feb 2017 19:16 UTC
Legal

In the days after Donald Trump won November's presidential election, immigration and civil liberties advocates began assessing how the new president might carry out his promises to create a registry of Muslims and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Almost immediately, it became clear the Trump administration would need data, and a lot of it, in order to not only peg people's religious affiliation and immigration status but also allow federal agents to verify their identities and track their whereabouts. Information that could be used for such purposes is collected and stored by a variety of state agencies that issue driver's licenses, dispense public assistance, and enforce laws.

[...]

In Washington state, The Verge has learned, Democratic governor Jay Inslee has directed members of his policy and legal staff to work with a handful of state agencies to identify data that could be utilized by Trump’s deportation officials, and how, if possible, to shield any such information from federal authorities engaging in mass deportation. In California and New York, Democratic lawmakers have proposed legislation to block state data from federal immigration authorities. Democratic legislators have also proposed bills in Washington state, California, New York, and Massachusetts that would prevent state data from being used by federal authorities to build a registry of people belonging to a certain religion.

The Republican party, Trump, and its supporters are avid advocates of states' rights, so I'm sure the Republican Trump regime will welcome these moves with open arms.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Feb 2017 23:19 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

So you've installed Haiku from a recently nightly (or sometime soon, the R1 beta) and you’re launching applications from the Deskbar menu (the blue ‘leaf’ menu). Perfect, but there are a few more options to investigate if you want to quickly launch your favourite programs.

Neat little overview. For a second there I thought they were replacing Deskbar, and I nearly had a heart attack.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Feb 2017 23:15 UTC
Apple

Apple Inc. is designing a new chip for future Mac laptops that would take on more of the functionality currently handled by Intel Corp. processors, according to people familiar with the matter.

The chip, which went into development last year, is similar to one already used in the latest MacBook Pro to power the keyboard's Touch Bar feature, the people said. The updated part, internally codenamed T310, would handle some of the computer's low-power mode functionality, they said. The people asked not to be identified talking about private product development. It's built using ARM Holdings Plc. technology and will work alongside an Intel processor.

And before you know it, you have a MacBook ARM.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Feb 2017 18:15 UTC
Apple

Earlier today, The Irish Times ran an "article" titled "Brussels broke the rules in its pursuit of Apple's €13bn". That sounds serious, and would definitely have you click. Once you do, you read an article written by "Liza Lovdahl-Gormsen" without any sources, which is basically an almost word-for-word rehash of letters and answers from Tim Cook about the tax deal. The lack of sources and Tim Cook-ery tone of the piece should set off thousands of huge and loud alarm bells in anyone's mind, but it isn't until the very last paragraph of the "article" that the reader stumbles upon this:

Liza Lovdahl-Gormsen is director of the Competition Law Forum and senior research fellow in competition law. This article was commissioned from her by Apple and supplied to The Irish Times

Pathetic and disingenuous at best, intentionally misleading and ethically reprehensible at worst. The fact that the biggest, richest, and most powerful company in the world has to resort to this kind of unethical behaviour should tell you all you need to know about how certain Apple is of its own claims about the tax deal.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Feb 2017 15:37 UTC
Apple

Ever launch an app on your iPhone and then get a pop-up warning that says the app may slow down your iPhone? (I have old versions of certain apps, so it shows up for me every once in a while.) That warning usually appears when you're using a 32-bit app. You can still run the app, and you probably don’t even notice the slowdown you've been warned about (at least in my personal experience).

Your ability to run that 32-bit app is coming to an end. As several other Mac sites have reported, Apple has updated the pop-up warning in the iOS 10.3 beta to say that the 32-bit app you're running "will not work with future versions of iOS." The warning goes on to say that the "developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility."

It'd be interesting to know if this actually affects all that many people.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Feb 2017 00:50 UTC
Google

Historically, the code for Chrome for iOS was kept separate from the rest of the Chromium project due to the additional complexity required for the platform. After years of careful refactoring, all of this code is rejoining Chromium and being moved into the open-source repository.

Due to constraints of the iOS platform, all browsers must be built on top of the WebKit rendering engine. For Chromium, this means supporting both WebKit as well as Blink, Chrome's rendering engine for other platforms. That created some extra complexities which we wanted to avoid placing in the Chromium code base.

There is no Chrome for iOS. It doesn't exist. Just because it has a Chrome-like UI doesn't mean it's Chrome. Chrome is the whole package - UI and engine. Without the engine, it's not Chrome. I understand Google wants to leverage the brand recognition, and I know I'm splitting hairs, but until Apple allows competing browser engines, iOS only has one browser, with a bunch of skins.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 31st Jan 2017 03:51 UTC
In the News

Though we now have thousands of examples of these symbols, we have very little idea what they mean. Over a century after Cunningham's discovery, the seals remain undeciphered, their messages lost to us. Are they the letters of an ancient language? Or are they just religious, familial, or political symbols? Those hotly contested questions have sparked infighting among scholars and exacerbated cultural rivalries over who can claim the script as their heritage. But new work from researchers using sophisticated algorithms, machine learning, and even cognitive science are finally helping push us to the edge of cracking the Indus script.

The Indus Valley Civilization and the mysteries that surround it are deeply fascinating. It was contemporary to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, yet we know relatively little about it. It honestly blows my mind that computers can now be used to decipher its ancient script, which may give us a lot of insight into this civilisation.

Like in programming, language is key.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 31st Jan 2017 00:43 UTC
Linux

This is the second in my series on finding an alternative to Mac OS X. Part 1 was about evaluating 13 alternative operating systems and then choosing one to use full time. The selected OS was elementary OS. The motivation for this change is to get access to better hardware since Apple is neglecting the Mac lineup.

If video is more your style I gave a short (10 min) talk at work on my adventures with Linux that covers the core content of this post.

This impromptu series is a great read. It's positive, focused on solutions instead of complaints, and is an honest effort to expand horizons and try out new and different (to the author) approaches to using his computer.

 

Linked by Drumhellar on Tue 31st Jan 2017 00:33 UTC
Oracle and SUN

After the recent removal of Solaris 12 from the Solaris road map inspired much speculation on the future of Solaris, Oracle has finally published a blog post detailing the cause of the removal, and the future of Solaris

Oracle Solaris is moving to a continuous delivery model using more frequent updates to deliver the latest features faster, while fully preserving customer and ISV qualification investment in the vast array of ISV applications available on Oracle Solaris 11 today. New features and functionality will be delivered in Oracle Solaris through dot releases instead of more disruptive major releases, consistent with trends seen throughout the industry.

In addition, support for current versions of Solaris 11 has been extended to beyond 2030. The actual updated roadmap is light on details, though, but it does appear that Solaris at least isn't dead just yet.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 30th Jan 2017 22:27 UTC, submitted by AmiKit
Amiga & AROS

AmiKit 9 Reloaded has been released for the Mac.

Now it is super fast because it uses the latest WinUAE emulator running on Wine. This concept, paradoxically, is much faster and actually more stable than the previous E-UAE edition. ​

AmiKit 9 for Mac also includes the Rabbit Hole which allows you to launch Mac apps from AmiKit desktop! You can also open Amiga files with your favourite Mac apps!

AmiKit is basically a pre-configured AmigaOS environment that runs inside *UAE, but you do have to supply your own OS and ROM files.

 

Linked by gezelterrl on Mon 30th Jan 2017 20:22 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

VMS Software, Inc. today announced the immediate availability of the production release of VSI OpenVMS Alpha V8.4-2L1 for the Alpha hardware platform, including Alphas running on x86-based emulators. This OpenVMS Alpha version is based on, and inherits the benefits of, the latest version of VSI OpenVMS Integrity V8.4-2L1, released in September 2016.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 30th Jan 2017 20:20 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The problem with laptops has, at least in recent years, been one of expandability. Once you buy a machine, you’re generally stuck with it, unless you’re willing to take it apart with repairs that have more in common with surgery than mechanics.

Part of this has to do with the complexity of our modern machines, but a bigger part is the fact that, simply, upgradability has become less of a concern for manufacturers.

But there was a time when laptop upgrades were a big deal - and that time was the 90s.

Here's the story of PCMCIA, an acronym only a 90s laptop owner could love.

I used a PCMCIA network card on my BeOS laptop (in 2001 or so), since the on-board network chip didn't have a BeOS driver. Good times.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 28th Jan 2017 13:43 UTC
In the News

Alphabet Inc.'s Google delivered a sharp message to staff travelling overseas who may be impacted by a new executive order on immigration from President Donald Trump: Get back to the U.S. now.

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai slammed Trump's move in a note to employees Friday, telling them that more than 100 company staff are affected by the order.

The Trump regime's measures also impact the visa program for, among other long-time US allies, The Netherlands. Did anyone tell the Trump regime that it's a very bad idea to make it harder for your third largest investor to, uh, actually invest? Are these men really that dumb?

Interesting to note, though, that Google had to be actually impacted by the Trump regime before it spoke up (only in an internal memo, but still). Meanwhile, Elon Musk is kissing the ground Trump walks on, and Tim Cook, CEO of the most arrogantly and smugly (supposedly) liberal tech company is meeting with Trump, Trump's daughter (...?) and other Republican leaders. From other tech giants who always touted the liberal horn of equality and progressiveness - a deafening, but quite revealing, silence.

So far, it seems like the tech industry leaders are opting for appeasement instead of resistance to the Trump regime's corruption, conflicts of interest, racism, war on science, and Christian extremism. I would be disappointed if it wasn't so utterly predictable to anyone who wasn't blinded by the fake smiles, hollow promises, and empty praise of equality, science, and progressive ideals.

They still have time to be remembered as people who stood up for those that need it the most. I'm afraid, though, we will remember them as spineless cowards, hiding behind shareholders while the free world crumbles to dust.

I hope it'll be worth it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Jan 2017 23:27 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

I was just reading some Tweets and an associated Hackernews thread and it reminded me that, now that I've left Mozilla for a while, it's safe for me to say: antivirus software vendors are terrible; don't buy antivirus software, and uininstall it if you already have it (except, on Windows, for Microsoft's).

I've been saying the same thing here on OSNews for a decade now: antivirus software makers are terrible companies. Don't buy their crappy software only to let it infect your machine like a virus that slowly hollows out and kills your computer.

Stick to Windows' built-in Microsoft tool.