Don’t piss off Bradley, the parts seller keeping Atari machines alive

Every old video game console dies eventually. Moving parts seize-up, circuit boards fail, cables wear out. If a user needs a replacement connector, chip, ribbon, gear, shell—or any of the thousands of other parts that, in time, can break, melt, discolor, delaminate, or explode—they’re usually out of luck, unless they have a spare system to scavenge.

But there is an exception to this depressing law of nature. In San Jose, on a side street next to a highway off-ramp, inside an unmarked warehouse building, is part of the world’s largest remaining collection of factory-original replacement Atari parts — a veritable fountain of youth for aging equipment from the dawn of the home computing and video gaming era. This is the home of Best Electronics, a mail-order business that has been selling Atari goods continuously for almost four decades.

But if you’d like to share in Best’s bounty, as many die-hard Atari fans desperately do, there’s a very important piece of advice you need to keep in mind: whatever you do, don’t piss off Bradley.

I love this story. There’s a lot you can say about having one person dictate nebulous terms like this, but we’re not talking a primary, secondary, or even tertiary life need here. It’s his way, or the high way, and I like that, in a romantic, old-timey kind of way. His website is glorious, the outdated catalog that is entirely outdated unless you combine it with decades of online updates – it’s almost mythical, a modern fairy tale.

Haiku sets R1/Beta3 timeline and release date

If all goes to plan, Beta 3 will be released sometime after the 24th of July. Note that the release will only happen when everything is ready, so there are no final dates and the timeline may change to account for delays.

The Promotion Team is currently investigating Beta3 DVDs and USB sticks to order: the Inc. has been notified and quotes have been requested from two possible services.

A lot of other software projects would’ve called these betas final releases. Haiku is a lot more stable, capable, and usable than the beta label indicates.

State of the Windows, part 2: did Windows 10 slow down with each feature update?

One of the main reasons some people tend to avoid updating their PCs is that “it makes it slower”. Especially with Windows 10’s Software as a Service approach, where it gets the so-called “feature updates” twice a year. But is it actually true?

Today we’re gonna find out how much Windows 10’s performance has changed over time, by benchmarking 10 elements of the OS experience.

As much as I dislike Windows, performance really was never an issue for me. It’s been responsive and snappy ever since Windows 7, but it’s still interesting to see the changes in performance over Windows 10’s lifetime.

State of the Windows: how many layers of UI inconsistencies are in Windows 10?

We’ve all heard this riddle: if you dig down deep enough in Windows 10, you’ll find elements that date from Windows 3.x days. But is it actually true? In this article we’ll discover just how many UI layers are in Windows and when they were first introduced.

This is just painful to read. It highlights just how messy, inconsistent, and jarring Windows has become, which is a damn shame, since during the days of the ‘Classic’ theme, Windows was actually quite consistent and predictable. It’s pretty much been downhill since Microsoft introduced the Luna theme in Windows XP, and it’s clear Windows 11 isn’t fixing this issue either.

To dispel a common myth – this issue does not just affect what the various parts of Windows look like – it also affects how they act and behave. There are still scrollable areas in Windows 10 that do not register mouse wheel input, or cramped dialogs and windows that should be resizable but aren’t, all because they were designed in the era of Windows 95 or even Windows 3.x. This is simply inexcusable, and the fact a massive company like Microsoft does not seem at all interested in addressing these issues, preferring to develop yet another five new application frameworks not even Microsoft will use, shows how little they actually care.

Safari 15 on Mac OS, a user interface mess

The utter user-interface butchery happening to Safari on the Mac is once again the work of people who put iOS first. People who by now think in iOS terms. People who view the venerable Mac OS user interface as an older person whose traits must be experimented upon, plastic surgery after plastic surgery, until this person looks younger. Unfortunately the effect is more like this person ends up looking… weird.

These people look at the Mac’s UI and (that’s the impression, at least) don’t really understand it. Its foundations come from a past that almost seems inscrutable to them. Usability cues and features are all wrinkles to them. iOS and iPadOS don’t have these strange wrinkles, they muse. We must hide them. We’ll make this spectacular facelift and we’ll hide them, one by one. Mac OS will look as young (and foolish, cough) as iOS!

I haven’t encountered a single person who likes the new Safari tab design on macOS.

Google wants to see Rust code in the Linux kernel, contracts the main developer

Google wants to see Rust programming language support within the Linux kernel so much so that they have contracted the lead developer working on “Rust for Linux” as the work aims to get mainlined.

Google is going public today with their formal support for Rust in the Linux kernel to enhance memory safety and that they have contracted developer Miguel Ojeda to further his work on Rust for the Linux kernel and related security efforts. This contract is going through at least the next year.

Making any meaningful statements about programming languages is far above my pay grade, so I’ll leave this one to you people to discuss.

Airline and bank websites go down in another major internet failure

Airlines, banks, stock exchanges and trading platforms suffered brief website outages early Thursday after a key piece of internet infrastructure failed, sparking the second major interruption of the past 10 days.

Virgin Australia said in a statement on Thursday that it had resolved an IT outage caused by a failure at Akamai Technologies, a global content delivery network.

The second major internet outage in a few weeks. Not a good look.

Ohio Republicans close to imposing near-total ban on municipal broadband

Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature is on the verge of imposing a state law to dramatically restrict the rights of cities and towns to build and operate municipal broadband networks.

The Ohio Senate on June 9 approved a budget bill that contains an anti-municipal broadband amendment. It’s not a done deal yet, and advocates for public networks are urging the legislature to strip the amendment from the final budget. The budget bill is expected to be hammered out within the next two weeks.

If passed, the proposed law could kill existing broadband services and prevent new ones from being deployed. There are reportedly 30 or more municipal broadband providers in Ohio that “would not be allowed to operate so long as there is a private-sector company operating in the area, as there are in most, if not all of the cities.”

Broadband in the US is a complete and utter joke, and it seems Republicans are hell-bent on keeping it that way.

Windows 11 with new UX confirmed in a leak

Me, three weeks ago:

Mark my words: this “next generation of Windows” is nothing but a few nips and tucks to the current, existing UI to make it slightly less of an inconsistent mess.

Nothing more.

Fast-forward to today, and we have a leaked build of this “next generation of Windows”, Windows 11, and much to my utter, devastating surprise, it turns out I was 100% right. Windows 11 is exactly what I said it would be: Windows 10, but with a few small nips and tucks (rounded corners, centered taskbar, tweaked Start menu), and that’s it. All the old Windows 95, XP, and 7-era stuff is still there, and since you can actually easily turn off a lot of the changes in Windows 11, there’s now a whole new layer of old design – Windows 10-era stuff.

If this is the “next generation of Windows”, Microsoft is delusional.

Is Sony’s 140MB MiniDisc drive the next Betamax?

From the January 1996 issue of PC World:

Sony has great hopes for its MiniDisc Data format as the next-generation mass storage media. And why not? On the surface, it has a lot going for it. A blank 2.5-inch magneto-optical MiniDisc offers 140MB of rewritable storage, and Sony promises the discs can be rewritten more than a million times with no loss of data integrity.

MD Data was emblematic for the MiniDisc format as a whole. Great technology, but far too expensive for most people, and always outdone by emerging competing formats (CD-R, MP3 players). Still, I used MiniDisc all the way through high school and university, well into the smartphone era, and I will always consider it my favourite music format.

A few thoughts on Fuchsia security

I want to say a few words about my current adventure. I joined the Fuchsia project at its inception and worked on the daunting task of building and shipping a brand new open-source operating system.

As my colleague Chris noted, pointing to this comparison of a device running a Linux-based OS vs Fuchsia, making Fuchsia invisible was not an easy feat.

Of course, under the hood, a lot is different. We built a brand new message-passing kernel, new connectivity stacks, component model, file-systems, you name it. And yes, there are a few security things I’m excited about.

Fuchsia is a much bigger deal than most people think. Make no mistake about it – this is the future of all of Google’s end-user facing operating systems, from Chrome OS, Android, all the way down to Wear OS and Google Home devices. The amazing thing is that with the way Fuchsia is built and designed, including its support for Android applications, most users will be none the wiser they’ve jumped from Linux to something new.

PsychDOS: a desktop environment plus extra software for DOS users

The PsychDOS desktop environment is an ANSI-like graphical interface for launching applications and having a few other features. I highly recommend looking at the SCREENSHOTS and DOCS sections, as well as taking a look at the QCKGUIDE.PDF (Page 3.5 Issue #01) file to get a better idea.

I don’t care what anybody thinks – this is an awesome project, and an awesome idea. The readme contains a lot more detailed information about the project.

CuteFish is a new Linux desktop environment

CuteFishOS’s stated goal is to “make a better experience desktop OS”. To do that they’re building a new desktop environment (‘CuteFishDE’) using KDE Frameworks, Qt, and KDE Plasma 5. This desktop will sit at the heart of a new Linux distro called CuteFishOS.

The desktop experience caters to “beginners”, rather than power users. As such, the devs have no (current) plans to add complex, edge-case, or convoluted settings and features. Like Ubuntu, the aim is to provide a basic set of sane defaults that “just work” for most users.

There’s room for a polished, stripped-down Qt alternative to KDE, but I’m not sure if this one is going to be it.

Google ends its attack on the URL bar, resumes showing full address in Chrome

As Android Police reports:

Google has tried multiple times for years to dumb down the internet by simplifying Chrome’s “scary” address bar. It first tried to erode the URL entirely by showing just search terms in the omnibox, but its impractical design forced Google to retire it. The developers recently tried to simplify the omibox again — this time hiding all parts of the web address except the domain name. While it received a fair amount of criticism from users, Google defended its decision to move forward, citing its intention to help people better identify malicious sites. But now it seems that Google has reconsidered things, as it recently decided to close the curtains on its experiment.

Good. URLs present important information, and preventing or limiting access to it is simply dumb, and asking for trouble.

Public key cryptography: OpenSSH private keys

When you create standard RSA keys with ssh-keygen you end up with a private key in PEM format, and a public key in OpenSSH format. Both have been described in detail in my post Public key cryptography: RSA keys. In 2014, OpenSSH introduced a custom format for private keys that is apparently similar to PEM but is internally completely different. This format is used by default when you create ed25519 keys and it is expected to be the default format for all keys in the future, so it is worth having a look.

An in-depth analysis of what’s inside the OpenSSH private key format and how it is different from the standard PEM format.

Android 12 Beta 2 released

Usually, when Google announces Android previews or betas, the company focuses on developer-oriented details like new APIs. But, as Android 12 Beta 2 rolls out today, Google is hyping up long-awaited user-facing changes, like the new Privacy Dashboard, the microphone and camera access indicators it’s been working on in various forms since 2019 (plus quick settings toggles for both), and a new “connectivity experience” that makes it easier to switch between data sources.

It’s unusual for early Android betas to include so many end user features. I hope this means the development process is farther along than usual as well, so OEMs can get started on the update process sooner, too.

How Universal Control on macOS Monterey works

The best moment of this year’s WWDC keynote was a straightforward demo of a macOS feature, Universal Control. The idea is simple enough: it allows you to use the keyboard and trackpad on a Mac to directly control an iPad, and even makes it simple to drag and drop content between those devices.

What made the demo so impressive is how easy and seamless it all seemed. In a classic Apple move, there was no setup required at all. The segment happened so fast that it even seemed (incorrectly, as it turns out) like the Mac was able to physically locate the iPad in space so it knew where to put the mouse pointer.

I mean, none of this stuff is new or technologically impressive, but as usual, Apple manages to make it easy, intuitive, and look and feel good and nice. I’d love to have something as straightforward and integrated like this in Linux.

What is Lua RTOS?

Lua RTOS is a real-time operating system designed to run on embedded systems, with minimal requirements of FLASH and RAM memory. Currently Lua RTOS is available for ESP32, ESP8266 and PIC32MZ platforms, and can be easilly ported to other 32-bit platforms.

Niche, for sure, but an operating system nonetheless.

KDE Plasma 5.22 released

Plasma 5.22 has become more pleasurable to use through improvements to the design and greater smoothness and consistency in transparencies, blurs, icons, and animations. Moving things to accessible locations, offering hints and visual cues, and creating new settings allows you to customize your work environment to make it fit perfectly to your needs. Following the true KDE spirit, the push for a more stable and attractive desktop does not mean you have to renounce control over how you want it to look or behave. Plasma 5.22, as always, packs all the flexibility and tools for customization you have come to expect and love, and some more to boot.

Meanwhile, the push to move Plasma in its entirety to Wayland (the display protocol of the future) continues in full swing. So much so that popular distros are starting to ship Plasma with Wayland by default. By using Wayland behind the scenes, Plasma is able to include features and bug fixes not possible to implement on X11, offering you a better experience and more stability.

This is a massive release, and I can’t wait for this to trickle down to Manjaro over the coming week. I use Wayland, so I’ve been excited for this release since the beginning.