Qt 5 libraries for OS/2

This is a port of the QtBase module of the Qt software development framework version 5 to the OS/2 operating system (and its derivants). This port is carefully crafted and maintained by bww bitwise works GmbH (also referred as bitwiseworks).

The current version of the port implements all major parts of the QtBase module and is suitable to compile and run a large amount of Qt 5 applications on OS/2.

An impressive effort, but I do have to wonder – what is the benefit of running OS/2 when all of the applications you’re using are better served running on, I don’t know, KDE or Windows? Doesn’t it make more sense to direct effort towards native applications?

Intel launches Comet Lake-U and Comet Lake-Y: up to 6 cores for thin and light laptops

Overall, the launch of Comet Lake comes at a tricky time for Intel. The company is still trying to right itself from the fumbled development of its 10nm process node. While Intel finally has 10nm production increasingly back on track, the company is not yet in a position to completely shift its production of leading-generation processors to 10nm. As a result, Intel’s low-power processors for this generation are going to be a mix of both 14nm parts based on their venerable Skylake CPU architecture, as well as 10nm Ice Lake parts incorporating Intel’s new Sunny Cove CPU architecture, with the 14nm Comet Lake parts filling in the gaps that Ice Lake alone can’t meet.

Another year, another Skylake spec bump. Intel sure is doing great.

IBM open sources Power chip instruction set

It has been a long time coming, and it might have been better if this had been done a decade ago. But with a big injection of open source spirit from its acquisition of Red Hat, IBM is finally taking the next step and open sourcing the instruction set architecture of its Power family of processors.

Opening up architectures that have fallen out of favour seems to be all the rage these days. Good news, of course, but a tad late.

The STC Executel 3910

Standard Telephone & Cable made quite a few phones for British Telecom in the 70s/80s that most people will recognise instantly even though they didn’t actually know who made them. Probably like me they thought that BT made all their own stuff which I later found out was completely wrong but hey. In the early 80s they branched out into computerised telephones with this lovely looking beast, the Executel 3910.

[…]

Fellow collector Tony brought this one to my attention and on seeing the pictures I said ‘what the hells is THAT!’ and bought it. It’s a desk phone, pure and simple, but massively computerised with an AMD8085 processor and 32K RAM plus a 5″ monitor for displaying diary and phonebook entries AND, and it’s a big AND, PRESTEL access!

A recent video by Techmoan – who bought a working model – brought this device to my attention, and I instantly fell in love with it. This is an incredible piece of engineering and forward-thinking.

I miss Microsoft Encarta

Most folks at Microsoft don’t realize that Encarta exists and is used TODAY all over the developing world on disconnected or occasionally connected computers. (Perhaps Microsoft could make the final version of Encarta available for a free final download so that we might avoid downloading illegal or malware infested versions?)

What are your fond memories of Encarta? If you’re not of the Encarta generation, what’s your impression of it? Had you heard or thought of it?

I have vague memories of using Encarta back in the early ’90s, but I was much more interested in technology and games as a young kid. These days I tend to read a lot of Wikipedia pages every day, so had I been my current age 25 years ago, I can definitely see myself using Encarta a lot.

In any event, definitely neat that the final version of Encarta – from 2009 – runs just fine on Windows 10.

Huawei’s Kirin 990 chipset will finally support 4K video capture at 60fps

With Huawei’s P20 Pro last year and this year’s P30 Pro, the company pulled off some incredible camera innovations, at least in the photo department. In terms of recording video, it hasn’t done as much. Part of the reason for this is because the Kirin 970 and Kirin 980 chipsets don’t support recording video at 4K 60fps, a feature that you’d expect from such camera-centric smartphones.

Luckily, that’s about to change with the next generation. While I was in Shenzhen for the past week, Huawei confirmed that the Kirin 990 will indeed support recording video at 4K 60fps. Starting with the Mate 30 series, you’ll no longer have to choose between a high resolution and a high frame rate.

It’s incredible how fast Chinese companies manage to improve. If you ever wonder why the United States government is trying to hit Huawei so hard, it’s because of things like this. Aside from the possibly valid spying concerns, Huawei is simply also a major competitor to Silicon Valley, and this is a great way for American corporations/government to strike back.

There aren’t many companies who can make every part of a device. Huawei is one of them.

The SuperH-3, part 1: introduction

Windows CE supported the Hitachi SuperH-3 and SuperH-4 processors. These were commonly abbreviated SH-3 and SH-4, or just SH3 and SH4, and the architecture series was known as SHx.

I’ll cover the SH-3 processor in this series, with some nods to the SH-4 as they arise. But the only binaries I have available for reverse-engineering are SH-3 binaries, so that’s where my focus will be.

Another architecture series by Raymond Chen, diving into some deep details about the SHx architecture.

Understanding modern UEFI-based platform boot

To many, the (UEFI-based) boot process is like voodoo; interesting in that it’s something that most of us use extensively but is – in a technical-understanding sense – generally avoided by all but those that work in this space.

In this article, I hope to present a technical overview of how modern PCs boot using UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). I won’t be mentioning every detail – honestly my knowledge in this space isn’t fully comprehensive (and hence the impetus for this article-as-a-primer).

A rather detailed overview of the UEFI boot process.

Visible Lisp Computer

The Visible Lisp Computer is a Lisp interpreter that displays the contents of the Lisp workspace on an OLED display, so you can see program execution and garbage collection in real time.

It’s a special version of my uLisp interpreter for ARM boards, designed to run on an Adafruit ItsyBitsy M0, or an ATSAMD21E on a prototyping board, interfaced to an I2C OLED display.

If I knew what any of this meant, you’d find a few words about this here. Sadly, I don’t know what any of this means.

Apple explains why iPhones now show an ominous warning after ‘unauthorized’ battery replacements

Responding to criticism that it’s trying to steer consumers toward more expensive battery replacements, Apple today claimed that the “important battery message” added to iOS is there in the name of customer safety. It was recently discovered that when an iPhone’s battery is swapped out by a third-party repair shop that isn’t one of Apple’s authorized partners, the device’s battery health menu will show an ominous warning about being “unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine iPhone battery.”

This can happen even if a genuine Apple battery is used; the warning stems from a micro-controller that only authorized technicians can properly configure. If iOS doesn’t detect the right micro-controller, it hides the usual battery health stats and displays the warning.

Apple is fighting the right to repair movement and associated proposed laws tooth and nail, and this is just another salvo in the war the company is waging on its own customers.

Xfce 4.14 released

In this 4.14 cycle the main goal was to port all core components to Gtk3 (over Gtk2) and GDBus (over D-Bus GLib). Most components also received GObject Introspection support. Along the way we ended up polishing our user experience, introducing quite a few new features and improvements (read below) and fixings a boatload of bugs (read changelog).

A lot of focus seems to have been on HiDPI support, which, in 2019, is probably a good thing. Multimonitor support received quite a bit of love, too, as did other display-related things like colour profiles, display scaling, and so on.

That’s just a selection though, so be sure to read through all the changes.

Commodore’s forgotten UNIX workstation

Commodore built this prototype UNIX workstation/server computer in the same time frame as the Amiga and their PC-Clone and then decided that they only had production capacity for two out of three, and the CBM900 lost.

All the approx 300-500 prototypes were recalled for destruction, but due to some kind of “mistake” this particular machine, which was on loan to a favored customer in Denmark, never made it back.

The machine resurfaced when this company cleaned up their basement, and sent 3 euro-pallets of Commodore artifacts our way.

I never knew Commodore tried to build a UNIX workstation. I shouldn’t be surprised though; virtually everyone dabbled in UNIX workstations in the ’80s. This page has more information about the CBM900.

“Blast processing” in 2019: how an SNES emulator solved overclocking

Kyle Orland at Ars:

When it comes to emulator design, there’s something to be said for trying to capture the workings of the original system as accurately as possible, warts and all. But there’s also something to the idea that emulators can improve on the original hardware, smoothing problems like frame rate slowdown that plagued the underpowered processors of the day.

That brings us to the latest update for storied, accuracy-obsessed SNES emulator bsnes, which adds the ability to overclock the virtual SNES processor. While bsnes is far from the first SNES emulator to allow for simulated overclocking, it does seem to be the first that does so “without any framerate or pitch distortion, and without harming compatibility in 99% of games,” as bsnes programmer byuu puts it.

The alert hammer

Apple started adding user consent alerts way back in High Sierra. The first time an app would try to access your location, contacts, calendar, reminders or photos a system alert would prompt the user for consent. Mojave expanded these prompts to automation, camera and microphone. And now Catalina adds screen recording, keyboard input monitoring, access to folders such as Desktop, Documents and Downloads, user notifications and Safari downloads…

These alerts are just another step on a long path Apple has been taking to protect user’s data. Previous steps include code signing, sandbox, gatekeeper, the “curated” Mac App Store and notarization.

But security features are most useful when they’re invisible. All previous steps were mostly invisible. This last one… Not so much.

There’s a lot of complaining going around in Apple circles regarding the latest Catalina betas and the excessive amount of permission alerts and associated user access problems. On his latest podcast, for instance, John Gruber detailed how it took him ages to figure out why the Terminal wouldn’t show him any directory listings, until he realised the Terminal needed disk access permission, but didn’t ask for it.

This is, of course, all quite reminiscent of Windows Vista, and the goal here seems to be to turn macOS into iOS, with similarly harsh restrictions on what users can do on their computers.

Huawei unveils HarmonyOS

In the city of Dongguan, China, Huawei finally took the wraps off its long-rumored, first-party operating system. The OS, called Harmony OS, has been in development for several years, but it’s recently taken on a role as a key player in Huawei’s contingency plan since the U.S. enacted a trade ban on the Chinese technology company. At the Huawei Developer Conference, Huawei finally shared the first details about its in-house OS, but the company wasn’t ready to show off Harmony on smartphones just yet. Tomorrow, the company will show off Harmony OS on the Honor Vision TV. For now, Android remains the go-to mobile OS for Huawei and Honor smartphones and tablets.

The operating system runs on a custom microkernel architecture that’s been developed in-house, which makes sense considering Huawei has been holding talks about microkernels at FOSDEM for a few years now (2018, 2019). They claim it’s faster than the competition, more secure, and more flexible – so much so that they say they can switch over from Android in a matter of days.

Other details about HarmonyOS include no root access, because Huawei considers it a security risk. Huawei will be supplying an IDE for the operating system, capable of building applications for various device types. Huawei also intends to release HarmonyOS as open source.

There’s a lot of skepticism about Huawei’s ability to build an operating system out there, but I do not share that at all. Huawei is one of the largest, most successful technology companies in the world, for both enterprise networking technology as well as consumer technology, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they are more than capable of developing a good, solid operating system.

That being said, the real issue is of course that between iOS and Android, there isn’t really much room left for a viable third option. HarmonyOS could certainly work in China – especially since it boasts Android compatibility and Chinese Android phones are Google-free anyway – but in the rest of the world people expect their smartphones to be either iOS or Google Android. I highly doubt any non-Android smartphone, with or without Android application compatibility, has any serious chance in the market.

Which is obviously sad, but that’s the way it is.

AMD Rome second generation EPYC review: 2x 64-core benchmarked

So has AMD done the unthinkable? Beaten Intel by such a large margin that there is no contest? For now, based on our preliminary testing, that is the case. The launch of AMD’s second generation EPYC processors is nothing short of historic, beating the competition by a large margin in almost every metric: performance, performance per watt and performance per dollar.

Analysts in the industry have stated that AMD expects to double their share in the server market by Q2 2020, and there is every reason to believe that AMD will succeed. The AMD EPYC is an extremely attractive server platform with an unbeatable performance per dollar ratio.

This is one stunning processor family.