Following up an experiment in forced nostalgia and questionable parenting

Back in 2014 OSNews reported on Andy Baio’s experiment raising his son on classic video games and “compressing 25 years of gaming history into about four years”. Somehow the recent lack of activity on OSnews made me think of it. At the time Thom wrote:

I sometimes wonder if I ever have kids (god forbid), how would I introduce them to the world of computers? Just hand them a dumb, locked, experimentation-hostile box like a modern smartphone or tablet and be done with it, or hook him up with a textual, CLI-based computer that I grew up with? I’m convinced that the latter would instill a far greater appreciation and understanding of technology than the former.

As an avid gamer, I read the original article enthusiastically, but since then I’ve often wondered what the actual outcome of Andy Baio’s experiment was. So I thought it might be worth trying to find out.

Happily Andy later gave a presentation in which he summarised some of his own conclusions.

So if this was an experiment, what were the results?

So without question, I think it’s clear, this affected the kinds of games that Eliot gravitates to now, especially compared to his friends, to start he likes hard games. Really, really hard games. Games that cause me to curl up in a ball and cry, or want to like, pick up my laptop and throw it in the garbage.

[…]

The second result that I’ve noticed from our experiment: Eliot’s exposure to early games with limited graphics and sound seems to have kind-of inoculated him from the flashy hyper-realistic graphics found in today’s mainstream triple-A games. He can appreciate retro graphics on their own terms and just focus on the gameplay.

But the most important outcome as far as Andy was concerned was that it left a deeper appreciation for games in general.

My hope is that this experiment instilled a life-long appreciation for smaller, stranger, more intimate games, in my son. And hopefully he’ll continue to think more critically about them, enjoy them more, and maybe someday even make some of his own.

But this was only six month’s after the original article. Was it a bit too early to come to that conclusion? Did the long-term effects actually result in a negative reaction, against video games?

Well in 2019, five years later, Eliot released his own take on the History of Video Games. I think his words, a decade after Andy’s original experiment, speak for themselves.

I highly recommend going and downloading an emulator (from a legitimate site!) and playing some of these classic gems in gaming history. There are many games that I’m sure I even don’t know about that are incredible. You may find overlooked gems that never got attention. Sometimes, people have a hard time playing video games that have a more “primitive” old, or 8-bit style. Try looking past the graphics, after all, there was a time when games didn’t even have graphics.

So, for any new parents out there, it seems raising your kids on the classics is not such a crazy idea after all.

NetBSD 9.2 released

The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 9.2, the second update of the NetBSD 9 release branch.

It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons since the release of NetBSD 9.1 in October 2020, as well some enhancements backported from the development branch. It is fully compatible with NetBSD 9.0.

I’m not even remotely well-versed enough in NetBSD to make heads or tails of the changelog, but it seems like there’s quite a few notable ones in there.

Censorship, surveillance and profits: a hard bargain for Apple in China

Blockbuster report by The New York Times on Apple and Tim Cook gladly making endless concessions to please the Chinese government. Nothing in here is really new to most of us, but it’s startling to see it laid out in such detail, and sourced so well.

For instance, when it comes to Chinese people, privacy is apparently no longer a “fundamental human right“:

Inside, Apple was preparing to store the personal data of its Chinese customers on computer servers run by a state-owned Chinese firm.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has said the data is safe. But at the data center in Guiyang, which Apple hoped would be completed by next month, and another in the Inner Mongolia region, Apple has largely ceded control to the Chinese government.

Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they’re meant to secure.

This means zero privacy for Chinese Apple users, as Apple has pretty much ceded all control over this data to the Chinese government – so much so Apple’s employees aren’t even in the building, and Apple no longer has the encryption keys either.

And on top of this, it turns out Apple is so scared of offending the Chinese government, the company proactively censors applications and other content in the Chinese version of the App Store, removing, censoring, and blocking content even before the Chinese government asks for it.

“Apple has become a cog in the censorship machine that presents a government-controlled version of the internet,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Asia director for Amnesty International, the human rights group. “If you look at the behavior of the Chinese government, you don’t see any resistance from Apple — no history of standing up for the principles that Apple claims to be so attached to.”

Apple even fired an App Store reviewer because the reviewer approved an application that while not breaking a single rule, did offend the Chinese government. That is how far Apple is willing to go to please its Chinese government friends.

Apple isn’t merely beholden to China – it’s deeply, deeply afraid of China. How many more concessions is Tim Cook willing to make, and how many more Chinese rings is he willing to kiss?

AmigaOS 3.2 for all classic Amigas released

AmigaOS 3.2 comes packed with well over 100 new features, dozens of updates that cover nearly all AmigaOS components and a battery of bugfixes that will undoubtedly solidify the user experience.

This is a large overhaul of Amiga 3.x for 68k-based Amigas developed by Hyperion Entertainment. There’s a very long changelog available on Hyperion’s site, but one very interesting addition is built-in ADF management which greatly simplifies dealing with floppy disk images.

Sailfish OS Kvarken 4.1.0 released to early access users

Sailfish OS Kvarken 4.1.0 has just been released to Early Access users across all officially supported devices, alongside which there’s also been an announcement of official support for the Xperiai 10 II.

The free trial version of Sailfish OS is available for Xperia 10 II devices now in the early access phase. The commercial licences will be launched when OS release 4.1.0 rolls out to all users.

In addition to the long list of bugfixes and feature improvements, Kvarken 4.1.0 on the Xperia 10 II is also the first version of Sailfish OS to run as 64-bit on ARM.

Microsoft shelves Windows 10X, it is not shipping in 2021

As we head into the spring of 2021, the plans are changing again for the OS. According to people familiar with the company’s plans, Microsoft will not be shipping Windows 10X this year and the OS as you know it today, will likely never arrive. The company has shifted resources to Windows 10 and 10X is on the back burner, for now.

Microsoft missed the boat on the modern smartphone, and as far as their operating system business goes, they seem like a rudderless ship in a hurricane ever since. If I cared, it’d be painful to watch.

About our current dearth of content

You may have noticed a lack of new stories on OSNews the past week, and that’s because my fiancée and I had our first baby about a week ago. Since I’m making use of my ten workdays of childbirth leave as granted by the Swedish government, I’m not allowed to perform any work during those ten workdays (we’ve got another few hundred days of parental leave, too), which includes OSNews work. Since OSNews’ owner David happened to be on vacation with his family at this time, too, we were kind of left in the lurch.

Our apologies, but there wasn’t much we could do.

In any event, we’re learning how to be parents by leaps and bounds every day, and we’re taking good care of our little .deb. I’ll be back on duty coming Monday, so expect normal service to resume then. In the meantime, feel free to submit news items David can quickly and easily post – it doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as we give y’all some stuff to talk about.

Until then, I’m going back to installing and configuring Void Linux on my main laptop – I already use and love it on my POWER9 machines – and I’ll see you all in a few days.

OpenIndiana Hipster 2021.04 released

After another 6 months have passed we are proud to announce the release of our 2021.04 snapshot. The images are available at the usual place. As usual we have automatically received all updates that have been integrated into illumos-gate.

The major changes are new versions of Firefox and Thunderbird, multiple NVIDIA drivers to choose from, and a lot more. For those unaware, OpenIndiana is a distribution of illumos, which in turn is the continuation of the last open source Solaris version before Oracle did what it does best and messed everything up.

Parallels Desktop 16.5 review: Windows comes to Apple Silicon (sort of)

After sixteen major releases, you might think there’s not much left to be added to Parallels Desktop – and for the vast majority of Mac users who are still using Intel CPUs, there isn’t. For them, this update to the popular virtualisation software tidies up a few bugs and adds support for the latest version of the Linux kernel, but that’s largely it. Overall it’s not even consequential enough to warrant a full ticking up of the version number. 

Yet arguably, this is the most significant release of Parallels Desktop since it first appeared in 2006. Just as version one unlocked the potential of Apple’s then-recent switch to the Intel architecture, this one breaks new ground by allowing you to install and run Windows 10 on Apple Silicon.

They conclude it’s a great first release, but that it still has ways to go.

OpenBSD 6.9 released

OpenBSD 6.9 has been released. This release focuses a lot on improving support for certain platforms, such as powerpc64 – mainly for modern POWER9 systems such as the Blackbird (which we reviewed late last year) and Talos II (which I have here now for review), arm64, and preliminary support for Apple’s ARM M1 architecture. There is way, way more in this release, of course, so feel free to peruse the release notes.

On a related note, I recently bought an HP Visualize C3750 PA-RISC workstation, and it’s been pretty much impossible to get my hands on a proper copy of HP-UX 11i v1 that works on the machine. As such, in the interim, I installed OpenBSD on it, and it’s been working like a charm. I still need to set up and try X, but other than that, it’s been a very pleasant experience. Effortless installation, good documentation, and user friendlier than I expected.

EU accuses Apple of App Store antitrust violations

The European Commission is issuing antitrust charges against Apple over concerns about the company’s App Store practices. The Commission has found that Apple has broken EU competition rules with its App Store policies, following an initial complaint from Spotify back in 2019. Specifically, the Commission believes Apple has a “dominant position in the market for the distribution of music streaming apps through its App Store.”

The EU has focused on two rules that Apple imposes on developers: the mandatory use of Apple’s in-app purchase system (for which Apple charges a 30 percent cut), and a rule forbidding app developers to inform users of other purchasing options outside of apps. The Commission has found that the 30 percent commission fee, or “Apple tax” as it’s often referred to, has resulted in higher prices for consumers. “Most streaming providers passed this fee on to end users by raising prices,” according to the European Commission.

As predicted, and entirely reasonable. This is only the first step in the process, and Apple will have the opportunity to respond. If found guilty, Apple could face a fine of more than 22 billion euro, 10% of its annual revenue, or be forced to change its business model.

Microsoft announces Windows 10 May 2021 Update (version 21H1)

The Windows 10 May 2021 Update has been finalized and Build 19043.928 is likely to be the release candidate. Unsurprisingly, May 2021 Update will begin rolling out to millions of users around the world in May, and it will ship with a few minor improvements, mostly for enterprise customers.

Microsoft has officially named the version 21H1 update as “May 2021 Update” and published the final bits in the Release Preview Channel.

I wish Microsoft would rethink its obtuse versioning and naming scheme for windows, because none of this makes any sense to me anymore. This is a small update, and mostly focused on remote work scenarios in the enterprise.

Linux 5.12 released

Linux 5.12 brings Intel Variable Rate Refresh (VRR/Adaptive-Sync), Radeon RX 6000 series overclocking support, mainline support for the Nintendo 64, the Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controller driver, CXL 2.0 Type-3 memory device support, KFENCE, dynamic preemption capabilities, Clang link-time optimizations, laptop support improvements, and much more.

A decently sized release. My favourite is definitely adding N64 support to the kernel.

Arm announces Neoverse V1, N2 platforms and CPUs, CMN-700 Mesh

Today, we’re pivoting towards the future and the new Neoverse V1 and Neoverse N2 generation of products. Arm had already tested the new products last September, teasing a few characteristics of the new designs, but falling short of disclosing more concrete details about the new microarchitectures. Following last month’s announcement of the Armv9 architecture, we’re now finally ready to dive into the two new CPU microarchitectures as well as the new CMN-700 mesh network.

These are looking really good.

Apple will reportedly face EU antitrust charges this week

I’m linking to The Verge, since the original FT article is locked behind a paywall.

The European Commission will issue antitrust charges against Apple over concerns about the company’s App Store practices, according to a report from the Financial Times. The commission has been investigating whether Apple has broken EU competition rules with its App Store policies, following an initial complaint from Spotify back in 2019 over Apple’s 30 percent cut on subscriptions.

The European Commission opened up two antitrust investigations into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay practices last year, and the Financial Times only mentions upcoming charges on the App Store case. It’s not clear yet what action will be taken.

I’m glad both the US and EU are turning up the heat under Apple (and the other major technology companies), since their immense market power and clear-cut cases of abuse have to end. I am a strict proponent of doing what the United States used to be quite good at, and that’s breaking Apple and Google up into smaller companies forced to compete with one another and the rest of the market. The US has done it countless times before, and they should do it again.

In this specific case, Apple should be divided up into Mac hardware, mobile hardware, software (macOS, iOS, and applications), and services. This would breath immense life into the market, and would create countless opportunities for others to come in and compete. The US has taken similar actions with railroads, oil, airplanes, and telecommunications, and the technology market should be no different.

iOS 14.5, macOS 11.3 released

iOS 14.5 is a major update with a long list of new features, including the ability to unlock an iPhone with an Apple Watch, 5G support for dual-SIM users, new emoji characters, an option to select a preferred music service to use with Siri, crowd sourced data collection for Apple Maps accidents, AirPlay 2 support for Fitness+, and much more.

The update also introduces support for AirTags and Precision Finding on the iPhone 12 models, and it marks the official introduction of App Tracking Transparency. There are a long list of bug fixes, with Apple addressing everything from AirPods switching issues to the green tint that some users saw on ‌iPhone 12‌ models.

A big update for such a small version number, and a lot of good stuff in there. Apple also released macOS Big Sur 11.3, which is a smaller update than the iOS one, but still contains some nice additions such as better touch integration for running iOS apps on the Mac and improved support for game controllers.

Microsoft is building a new app store for Windows 10

Microsoft is working on a brand-new Store app for Windows 10 that will introduce a modern and fluid user interface, as well as bring changes to the policies that govern what kind of apps can be submitted to the store by developers. According to sources familiar with the matter, this new Store will pave the way to a revitalized storefront that’s more open to both end users and developers.

The biggest change is that Microsoft will supposedly allow developers to host unpackaged, unaltered, bog-standard Win32 applications in the Store. Right now, even Win32 applications need to be packaged as MSIX, but this requirement is going away. The Microsoft Store definitely needs a lot of love, but I feel like the problem isn’t the Store itself – it’s just how messy and fragmented managing applications on Windows really is.

Using a PowerBook in 2021

It has been recently announced that the venerable TenFourFox web browser for PowerPC (PPC) Macs was going to cease regular development, which rekindled my interest in playing around with my trusty PowerBook G4, which only gets occasional use if I’m testing a PowerPC version of some of my own software. Such is the way of aging hardware and software: the necessity to support them wanes over time, but it does question how useful can an 18 year old laptop be in 2021. Can it still be useful, or is it relegated to a hobbyist’s endeavors?

As usual, the internet and networking are the hurdles.

Ubuntu 21.04 released

Today, Canonical released Ubuntu 21.04 with native Microsoft Active Directory integration, Wayland graphics by default, and a Flutter application development SDK. Separately, Canonical and Microsoft announced performance optimization and joint support for Microsoft SQL Server on Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 21.04 is an important release, if only because of the switch to Wayland, following in Fedora’s footsteps. Ubuntu did opt out of shipping GNOME 40, though, so it comes with 3.38 instead. The step to Wayland is surely going to cause problems for some people, but overall, I think it’s high time and Wayland is pretty much as ready as it’s ever going to be. Remember, Wayland is not X, as I said a few months ago:

Wayland is not X.org. Let me repeat that. Wayland is not X.org. If you need the functionality that X.org delivers, then you shouldn’t be using Wayland. This is like buying a Mac and complaining your Windows applications don’t work.

With NVIDIA finally seeming to get at least somewhat on board, and X.org development basically having dried up, the time for Wayland is now.

Why does trying to break into the NT 3.1 kernel reboot my 486DX4 machine?

While installing Windows NT 3.1 worked perfectly, I really like to tinker with my retro stuff. The Windows NT 3.1 CD comes with the full set of debugging symbols, I’m curious into investigating why NetDDE throws an error into the event log, and the system crashes with a specific EISA ethernet card (which might be due to faulty hardware), so I decided to dive into kernel debugging. Setting up kernel debugging is straight-forward, once you realize you should use the i386kd executable supplied with Windows NT 3.1 instead of kd/ntkd from the current Windows 10 develepmont kit.

As soon as I want to break in (using Ctrl-C in i386kd), the target machine reboots instead of providing a kd> prompt.

Such an obscure question and bug, and yet, there’s someone providing a detailed answer – and a fix.