Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Dec 2017 19:01 UTC
Internet & Networking

As of December 15, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger products and services will be shut down and will no longer work.If you are an AOL member, AOL products and services​ ​like AO​​L Mail, AOL Desktop Gold an​d Member​ Subscriptions will not be affected.​

Many Americans have memories of AOL Instant Messenger I'm sure - probably memories of talking to your crush late at night, or planning evenings out drinking with friends. Here in The Netherlands we used MSN Messenger - I have those same memories, just from a different client. AOL, ICQ and MSN have long been replaced by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage, but I'm sure teens of today still use them for the same thing.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 14th Dec 2017 19:46 UTC
Legal

Net neutrality is dead - at least for now. In a 3-2 vote today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a measure to remove the tough net neutrality rules it put in place just two years ago. Those rules prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes. They also classified internet providers as Title II common carriers in order to give the measure strong legal backing.

Today's vote undoes all of that. It removes the Title II designation, preventing the FCC from putting tough net neutrality rules in place even if it wanted to. And, it turns out, the Republicans now in charge of the FCC really don’t want to. The new rules largely don’t prevent internet providers from doing anything. They can block, throttle, and prioritize content if they wish to. The only real rule is that they have to publicly state that they’re going to do it.

Nobody wanted the FCC to vote like this. Public support for net neutrality is massive. The only reason this is happening is pure, unbridled corruption at the very root of the American political system.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 13th Dec 2017 23:54 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

I've now turned my attention to preparation for beta1. Already talk has resumed on the mailing list of a tentative schedule; there still remains too much to do to expect it before the new year, but with the list of blockers now reduced effectively to two (one relating to installing source packages on the actual release image, which I intend to look into solving soon; the other is about clashing mime supertype declaration and may prove trickier to solve), the actual "release branch" is hopefully not more than a month away.

I've already begun drafting release notes and making build system cleanups as part of preparation. There is finally light at the end of the tunnel - don't give up hope yet. :)

I'm just putting it out there that if all goes according to plan, I'll be spending lots of time in a nice Haiku virtual machine over the coming weeks to get a really good look at the state of the continuation of the best operating system ever made.

It's time.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 13th Dec 2017 23:45 UTC
Android

Remember Android Wear? Google's struggling smartwatch OS is getting updated to Android 8.0 Oreo, just like the rest of the Android lineup. Google announced the update on the "Android Wear Developers" Google Plus group. It seems like the only supported watch right now is the flagship LG Watch Sport, which makes sense since that was the only watch to get an Android O beta in the beginning of October.

Wear's last big update was Android Wear 2.0, which was released with the LG Watch Sport the beginning of the year. Most users won't notice the move to Oreo. Like Android TV, Android Wear has its own interface and set of features that are developed separately from the base OS version. This update to Oreo changes the under-the-hood OS, but the user-facing features will mostly remain unchanged.

It feels like Android Wear is stuck in limbo - not exactly dead, but it doesn't seem like there's much activity or forward momentum either. Also I keep forgetting Google Plus is even a thing.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 13th Dec 2017 23:31 UTC
AMD

Ahead of the Vulkan 1.0 debut nearly two years ago, we heard that for AMD's Vulkan Linux driver it was initially going to be closed-source and would then be open-sourced once ready. At the time it sounded like something that would be opened up six months or so, but finally that milestone is being reached! Ahead of Christmas, AMD is publishing the source code to their official Vulkan Linux driver.

There's some minor caveats noted in the linked article, but this is looking like great news.

 

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.