Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th Dec 2017 22:45 UTC
Apple

Apple has made the iMac Pro available to order, but since we already know all the details about its specifications, there's one particular aspect I'd like to focus on: the iMac Pro contains new Apple-developed silicon. It's called the T2, and as described by Cabel Sasser:

The iMac Pro features new apple custom silicon: the T2 chip. It integrates previously discrete components, like the SMC, ISP for the camera, audio control, SSD control... plus a secure enclave, and a hardware encryption engine. This new chip means storage encryption keys pass from the secure enclave to the hardware encryption engine in-chip - your key never leaves the chip. And, they it allows for hardware verification of OS, kernel, boot loader, firmware, etc. (This can be disabled...)

The screenshot he posted shows what the hardware verification dialog for things like the operating system and bootloader looks like. As long as we can turn security measures like this off - as we can on, e.g., Chromebooks - this is a good development. Now all we have to do is hope these companies don't abuse this kind of technology.

We can hope.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th Dec 2017 22:21 UTC
Windows

Ask just about any *NIX admin using a Windows laptop and they will have come across Putty. For years, Apple MacBooks have been the go-to choice for many admins partly because getting to a ssh shell is so easy. The newly re-invigorated Microsoft is changing how easy it is to interface with Linux (and other *NIX flavors) significantly with features like Ubuntu on Windows. There is a new beta feature in Windows 10 that may just see the retirement of Putty from many users: an OpenSSH client and OpenSSH server application for Windows.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th Dec 2017 22:19 UTC
Microsoft

Microsoft is releasing a free preview version of its Quantum Development Kit, which includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator and other resources for people who want to start writing applications for a quantum computer. The Q# programming language was built from the ground up specifically for quantum computing.

Read the announcement blog post for more information.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Dec 2017 20:25 UTC
IBM

From the comments on the previous story:

Connor Krukosky is an 18-year-old college student with a hobby of collecting vintage computers. One day, he decided to buy his own mainframe... An IBM z890. This is his story.

Grab a warm drink, and enjoy. This is great.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 10th Dec 2017 23:54 UTC
IBM

I recently came across a challenge to print a holiday greeting card on a vintage computer, so I decided to make a card on a 1960s IBM 1401 mainframe. The IBM 1401 computer was a low-end business mainframe announced in 1959, and went on to become the most popular computer of the mid-1960s, with more than 10,000 systems in use. The 1401's rental price started at $2500 a month (about $20,000 in current dollars), a low price that made it possible for even a medium-sized business to have a computer for payroll, accounting, inventory, and many other tasks. Although the 1401 was an early all-transistorized computer, these weren't silicon transistors - the 1401 used germanium transistors, the technology before silicon. It used magnetic core memory for storage, holding 16,000 characters.

Some people have access to the coolest stuff.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 10th Dec 2017 23:51 UTC
Games

Everyone has childhood dreams. Mine was to make a game for my fist console: the Nintendo Game Boy. Today, I fulfilled this dream, by releasing my first Game Boy game on a actual cartridge: Sheep It Up!

In this article, I'll present the tools I used, and some pitfalls a newcomer like me had to overcome to make this project a reality!

This isn't simply a ROM you run in an emulator - no, this is a real Game Boy cartridge. Amazing work.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Dec 2017 22:57 UTC
Qt

Great new things are coming with the latest Qt release. From image based styling of the Qt Quick Controls, new shape types in Qt Quick through to Vulkan enablers as well as additional languages and handwriting recognition in Virtual Keyboard. But wait, there is more. We fully support both OAuth1 & 2, text to speech and we also have a tech preview of the Qt WebGL Streaming Plugin.

The blog post about the release has more information.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Dec 2017 22:55 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Today marks a major milestone in the processor industry - we've launched Qualcomm Centriq 2400, the world's first and only 10nm server processor. While this is the culmination of an intensive five-year journey for the Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies (QDT) team, it also marks the beginning of an era that will see a step function in the economics and energy efficiency of operating a datacenter.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 6th Dec 2017 20:29 UTC
ReactOS

ReactOS 0.4.7 has been released, and it contains a ton of fixes, improvements, and new features. Judging by the screenshots, ReactOS 0.4.7 can run Opera, Firefox, and Mozilla all at once, which is good news for those among us who want to use ReactOS on a more daily basis. There's also a new application manager which, as the name implies, makes it easier to install and uninstall applications, similar to how package managers on Linux work. On a lower level, ReactOS can now deal with Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, BtrFS, ReiserFS, FFS, and NFS partitions.

There's more, so head on over to the announcement page.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 6th Dec 2017 20:19 UTC
In the News

The total energy use of this web of hardware is huge - an estimated 31 terawatt-hours per year. More than 150 individual countries in the world consume less energy annually. And that power-hungry network is currently increasing its energy use every day by about 450 gigawatt-hours, roughly the same amount of electricity the entire country of Haiti uses in a year.

[...]

In just a few months from now, at bitcoin's current growth rate, the electricity demanded by the cryptocurrency network will start to outstrip what's available, requiring new energy-generating plants. And with the climate conscious racing to replace fossil fuel-base plants with renewable energy sources, new stress on the grid means more facilities using dirty technologies. By July 2019, the bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire United States currently uses. By February 2020, it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today.

This is an unsustainable trajectory. It simply can't continue.

Not only is bitcoin tulips, but it's also incredibly bad for our planet. These energy numbers are insanity.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 6th Dec 2017 20:15 UTC
Windows

The problem with the tech world is, from an operating system provider's point of view, that the goalposts keep moving. These perambulating pieces of wood killed Symbian, killed Blackberry, have almost killed Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, and, one day, may even kill iOS as we know it today. With hindsight, it's all too clear, but at the time OS coders were making sensible choices.

Operating systems come, and operating systems go.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Dec 2017 20:19 UTC
Windows

HP and Asus have announced the first Windows 10 PCs running on ARM - Snapdragon 835 - and they're boasting about instant-on, 22 hour battery life, and gigabit LTE. These machines run full Windows 10 - so not some crippled Windows RT nonsense - and support 32bit x86 applications. Microsoft hasn't unveiled a whole lot just yet about their x86-on-ARM emulation, but Ars did compile some information:

The emulator runs in a just-in-time basis, converting blocks of x86 code to equivalent blocks of ARM code. This conversion is cached both in memory (so each given part of a program only has to be translated once per run) and on disk (so subsequent uses of the program should be faster, as they can skip the translation). Moreover, system libraries - the various DLLs that applications load to make use of operating system feature - are all native ARM code, including the libraries loaded by x86 programs. Calling them "Compiled Hybrid Portable Executables" (or "chippie" for short), these libraries are ARM native code, compiled in such a way as to let them respond to x86 function calls.

While processor-intensive applications are liable to suffer a significant performance hit from this emulation - Photoshop will work in the emulator, but it won't be very fast - applications that spend a substantial amount of time waiting around for the user - such as Word - should perform with adequate performance. As one might expect, this emulation isn't available in the kernel, so x86 device drivers won't work on these systems. It's also exclusively 32-bit; software that's available only in a 64-bit x86 version won't be compatible.

I'm very curious about the eventual performance figures for this emulation, since the idea of running my garbage Win32 translation management software on a fast, energy-efficient laptop and external monitor seem quite appealing to me.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Dec 2017 20:10 UTC
Apple

Reading headlines from the World Internet Conference in China, the casual reader might have come away a little confused. China was opening its doors to the global Internet, some media outlets optimistically declared, while others said Beijing was defending its system of censorship and state control.

And perhaps most confusing of all, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook stood up and celebrated China’s vision of an open Internet.

Say what?

Hardly surprising. This may come as a shock, but with publicly traded companies, you're not the customer; you're the product.

Shareholders are their real customers.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Dec 2017 20:07 UTC
In the News

People involved with the payoffs are extremely reluctant to discuss them, but four contributing writers to prominent publications including Mashable, Inc, Business Insider, and Entrepreneur told me they have personally accepted payments in exchange for weaving promotional references to brands into their work on those sites. Two of the writers acknowledged they have taken part in the scheme for years, on behalf of many brands.

One of them, a contributor to Fast Company and other outlets who asked not to be identified by name, described how he had inserted references to a well-known startup that offers email marketing software into multiple online articles, in Fast Company and elsewhere, on behalf of a marketing agency he declined to name. To make the references seem natural, he said, he often links to case studies and how-to guides published by the startup on its own site. Other times, he’ll just praise a certain aspect of the company’s business to support a point in an otherwise unrelated story. (As of press time, Fast Company had not responded to a request for comment.)

This is hardly surprising to anyone who has spent a decent amount of time on the web. I can confirm, however, that I've never partaken in anything like this, and the occasional request of this nature goes straight into my spam folder.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 4th Dec 2017 21:07 UTC
Android

With me being so down on Android, it's only fair to also offer insight into the other side of the coin - a longtime iPhone user making the switch to the new Pixel 2 XL, and loving it:

This phone is extremely my shit. Google has taken the original Pixel, which was interesting but not enough to tempt me into switching, and made it into something that's near perfect.

In a year where the iPhone X, which Apple touts as the future phone, only has a single interesting feature (Face ID) Google has embraced the opportunity to show a different future with arms wide open. It's the first time I can confidently say an Android device is great coming from the iPhone without constantly saying but there's this one thing.

Different strokes for different folks, but that's why we're all here debating things that are, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 4th Dec 2017 21:01 UTC
Internet & Networking

On Monday, Facebook announced Messenger Kids, a stand-alone mobile app that allows children age 13 and under to use the service. The point of the new app, the company said, was to provide a more controlled environment for the types of activity that are already occurring across smartphones and tablets among families.

There's only one possible response here.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 4th Dec 2017 20:58 UTC
Windows

For me the Surface Book 2 was the MacBook Pro that we had all wanted/expected from Apple, it just wears a different logo. While other reviews will read off the spec sheets and talk about the 17 hour battery life and GX yadda yadda yadda processor, they sometimes forget that we (the creative professionals) use these as tools. What Microsoft has done with the Surface Book 2 is make a system void of gimmicks, because gimmicks don't hold up in the working world. Our jobs will not benefit from being able to tap an emoji on a scroll bar, they will benefit from the ability to get work done. As a photographer, it feels extremely odd to say this, but I sincerely feel that the Surface Book 2 is not only a strong contender for the laptop to own, but actually the clear cut choice of the computer to have on set.

There seems to be a lot of interest in Surface from people disappointed with the recent MacBook Pros.

 

Linked by Moochman on Sat 2nd Dec 2017 00:06 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu

Ars Technica once again provides us with an in-depth Ubuntu review:

If you've been following the Linux world at all, you know this has been an entire year for spring cleaning. Early in 2017, Canonical stopped work on its homegrown Unity desktop, Mir display server, and its larger vision of 'convergence' - a unified interface for Ubuntu for phones, tablets, and desktops.

And now almost exactly six years after Ubuntu first switched from GNOME 2 to the Unity desktop, that has been dropped, too. The distro is back to GNOME, and Canonical recently released Ubuntu 17.10, a major update with some significant changes coming to the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system.

In light of the GNOME switch, this release seems like more of a homecoming than an entirely new voyage. But that said, Ubuntu 17.10 simultaneously feels very much like the start of a new voyage for Ubuntu.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 2nd Dec 2017 00:04 UTC, submitted by dungsaga
In the News

If the tech industry wants another wave of innovation to match the PC or the internet, Google and Facebook must be broken up, journalist and film producer Jonathan Taplin told an audience at University College London's Faculty of Law this week.

He was speaking at an event titled Crisis in Copyright Policy: How the digital monopolies have cornered culture and what it means for all of us, where he credited the clampers put on Bell then IBM for helping to create the PC industry and the internet.

There's quite a few other companies I'd add to those two.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Nov 2017 23:45 UTC
Mac OS X

So there's been a big security flaw in Apple's macOS that the company fixed in 24 hours. I rarely cover security issues because where do you draw the line, right? Anyhow, the manner of disclosure of this specific flaw is drawing some ire.

Obviously, this isn't great, and the manner of disclosure didn't help much either. Usually it's advisable to disclose these vulnerabilities privately to the vendor, so that it can patch any holes before malicious parties attempt to use them for their own gains. But that ship has sailed.

I've never quite understood this concept of "responsible disclosure", where you give a multi-billion dollar company a few months to fix a severe security flaw before you go public. First, unless you're on that company's payroll, you have zero legal or moral responsibility to help that company protect its products or good name. Second, if the software I'm using has a severe security flaw, I'd rather very damn well please would like to know so I can do whatever I can to temporarily fix the issue, stop using the software, or take other mitigating steps.

I readily admit I'm not hugely experienced with this particular aspect of the technology sector, so I'm open to arguments to the contrary.