Mojo’s smart contact lenses begin in-eye testing

I’ve brought a tiny, chip-studded, display-enabled contact lens made up to my eye, but I never was actually able to wear it. But by the end of 2022, I might get a chance. Mojo Vision’s smart contact lenses, which have been in development for years, are finally being worn internally, starting with the company’s CEO Drew Perkins. Perkins, who I spoke to over Zoom, has only worn the lens for an hour at a time so far. He likens the first tests to a baby learning to walk: “We’ve now taken that first step. And it’s very exciting.” I already have my doubts tech companies will be able to convince people to wear AR glasses, so you can guess how much faith I have in people voluntarily wearing contact lenses.

Some Macs are getting fewer updates than they used to. Here’s why it’s a problem

When macOS Ventura was announced earlier this month, its system requirements were considerably stricter than those for macOS Monterey, which was released just eight months ago as of this writing. Ventura requires a Mac made in 2017 or later, dropping support for a wide range of Monterey-supported Mac models released between 2013 and 2016. This certainly seems more aggressive than new macOS releases from just a few years ago, where system requirements would tighten roughly every other year or so. But how bad is it, really? Is a Mac purchased in 2016 getting fewer updates than one bought in 2012 or 2008 or 1999? And if so, is there an explanation beyond Apple’s desire for more users to move to shiny new Apple Silicon Macs? Unlike in the Windows world (at least, up until Windows 11) and the Linux/BSD world, Macs are more like smartphones or tablets in that support for them is regularly cut off well before the point they could no longer run the latest version of macOS. This has both advantages and disadvantages we don’t need to regurgitate here, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Apple Silicon era will accelerate the culling of older Macs.

USB installer tool removes Windows 11’s Microsoft account requirements (and more)

An easy workaround for this requirement is the Rufus USB formatting tool, which can create USB install media for Windows and all kinds of other operating systems. Rufus has already offered some flags to remove Windows 11’s system requirement checks from the installer, removing the need for clunky Windows Registry edits and other workarounds. But the beta of version 3.19 will also remove the Microsoft account requirement for new installs, making it easy to set up a new Windows PC with a traditional local account. The hoops people jump through to be allowed to use a mediocre operating system when better alternatives are abundant.

What’s the deal with all those weird wrong-number texts?

Even thought it was clear this message was the lead-in to a swindle of some kind, I had to pause and admire the craft that went into its composition. Like everyone else, I get scam text come-ons pretty frequently, and they’re always poorly pitched and low-energy. In contrast, this text opened up a rich world, animated by detail and alive with mystery. I didn’t care about packages missing their intended destinations, or Bitcoin investing advice, or whatever scammers usually texted me about, but I was interested in Tony: How many charity galas did he go to, anyway? And why hadn’t he seen his/my unknown interlocutor in such a long time? Before I reported the number to WhatsApp, I took a screenshot of the message to better remember it. There’s something to be written about here, Mark texted. What is the deal with these texts? Why do they sound like that? Who is sending them? I rarely get spam messages, and I’ve never seen messages like these before. There is some real craft going on here, even if the goal is malicious. I have to admire the thought that goes into these.

Thanks to fans, the weirdest official Doom game is now playable on Windows

Doom RPG, id’s Doom game for pre-iPhone mobile phones, has been reverse engineerd and ported to Windows. Even id Software’s official “Year of Doom” museum at E3 2019 left this 2005 game unchronicled. That’s a shame, because it was a phenomenal example of id once again proving itself a master of technically impressive gaming on a power-limited platform. And platforms don’t get more limited on a power or compatibility basis than the pre-iPhone wave of candy bar handsets, which Doom RPG has been locked to since its original mid-’00s launch. You may think that “turn-based Doom” sounds weird, but Doom RPG stood out as a clever and fun series twist to the first-person shooter formula. Its abandonment to ancient phones changes today thanks to the reverse-engineering efforts of GEC.inc, a Costa Rica-based collective of at least three developers. On Wednesday, the group released a Windows port of the game based on their work on the original game’s BREW version (a Qualcomm-developed API meant for its wave of mobile phones from 2001 and beyond). Very few people even remember Doom RPG – and the various other games from id using the same engine – so it’s great more people get to play these games now. Excellent work.

OpenBSD has two new C compilers: chibicc and kefir

In my never ending quest to have oksh support every C compiler in existence, I have ported two more C compilers to OpenBSD. They are chibicc and kefir. As always, let’s review them and at the end I’ll have links to unofficial ports so that you can play around with these C compilers. As you all know, these things are a little over my head, but I know many OSNews readers are far more knowledgeable about and interested in these things than I am.

US communications regulator wants TikTok removed from app stores over spying concerns

A commissioner with the U.S. communications regulator is asking Apple and Google to consider banning TikTok from their app stores over data security concerns related to the Chinese-owned company. Brendan Carr, a commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has written a letter to the CEOs of both companies, alerting them that the wildly popular video-sharing app does not comply with the requirements of their app store policies. I wonder just how big the outcry will be among TikTok users if they did this. TikTok is incredibly popular – far more so than people my age even realise – so it certainly wouldn’t go down unnoticed.

Nolan Bushnell on Atari, 50 years later

It’s been 50 years since Nolan Bushnell co-founded Atari, which brought video games to the mainstream. To celebrate, we asked Bushnell what he learned during the early years—and what we’ve lost sight of since then. I’m too young to have experienced Atari in its heyday, so I don’t have much to add here. I am, however, fascinated by Atari’s classic computers, like the 800 or the Falcon, and remember fawning over the Jaguar before growing up and realising what a terrible console and cheap marketing trick it really was. That being said, I still want a Jaguar.

Valve is doubling Steam Deck shipments

Valve is doubling the number of Steam Decks it ships to customers, the company announced Monday. “Production has picked up, and after today we’ll be shipping more than double the number of Steam Decks every week!” Valve said in a tweet from the official Steam Deck account. And in response to a question from my colleague Sean Hollister, Valve designer Lawrence Yang spelled out the change more clearly: “in previous weeks we were shipping x units / week to customers, starting this week we’ll be shipping 2x units / week.” Not only is the console with by far the largest game library a machine running a standard full Linux distribution, it’s also apparently doing really, really well.

Is there a maximum size for Windows clipboard data?

A customer had a program that opened a very large spreadsheet in Excel. Very large, like over 300,000 rows. They then selected all of the rows in the very large spreadsheet, copied those rows to the clipboard, and then ran a program that tried to extract the data. The program used the Get­Clipboard­Data function to retrieve the data in Rich Text Format. What they found was that the call to Get­Clipboard­Data was returning NULL. Is there a maximum size for clipboard data? No, there is no pre-set maximum size for clipboard data. You are limited only by available memory and address space. However, that’s not the reason why the call to Get­Clipboard­Data is failing. Edge cases are so much fun to read about – they give so much insight into how certain things are done programmatically, even for a non-programmer such as myself.

Delivering the Microsoft Edge WebView2 runtime to Windows 10 consumers

Starting with Windows 11, the WebView2 Runtime is included as part of the operating system. For Windows 10, we have recommended developers to distribute and install the runtime with their applications. In the past two years, more than 400 million of these devices now have the WebView2 runtime thanks to developers building and distributing WebView2 applications. Redistributable runtime deployment allows developers to use WebView2 on devices that didn’t yet have the runtime, but comes with increased development cost and has been a pain point for WebView2 developers. Once we complete the WebView2 Runtime rollout started today, developers can more reliably depend on the presence of WebView2 on Windows 10 or later consumer devices, in addition to all Windows 11 devices, making WebView2 app deployment much more straightforward. Windows 10 surely isn’t left behind any time soon – good news for those on the fence.

Microsoft to start nagging Windows 8.1 users in July about January 2023 end-of-support date

There aren’t many Windows users still running Windows 8.1 these days. But those who are may (or may not) know that support for the 8.1 release is going to end on January 10, 2023. Just to make sure Windows 8.1 users do know, Microsoft is going to start notifying them starting in July about the looming end-of-support date. When they see notifications, users will be able to click “Learn more,” “Remind me later,” or “Remind me after the end-of-support date” leading up to January 2023, Microsoft said. Microsoft has used these kinds of notifications in the past when trying to get users on older versions of Windows to upgrade to more recent/still-supported versions. (For what it’s worth: Those running domain-joined PCs, in the past, haven’t gotten nagged.) Do we have anyone here opting to run Windows 8? It seems like an odd choice, but nothing surprises me anymore.

Windows 98 system inside ESA’s Mars water-finder is finally getting an upgrade

Windows 98 was released by Microsoft back in 1998 which means in 2022 today, it’s more than 20 years old and something that most have forgotten. However, a recent major announcement by the European Space Agency (ESA) has brought Windows 98 back to the spotlight once more. The Agency says that it is upgrading the software inside its MARSIS instrument in order to enhance its performance and capabilities. Carlo Nenna, an engineer who is developing and implementing the new change says that one of challenges holding back the performance of MARSIS was its old Windows 98-based software. Maybe that’s why aliens have been avoiding us.

Finding the hardware compatibility list for the MIPS, Alpha, and PowerPC versions of Windows NT

After our post a few days ago about running Windows NT for MIPS with Qemu, I was once again reminded of just how much fun it would be to own a MIPS, Alpha, or PowerPC machine from the mid-’90s that can run Windows NT 4. However, after some trouble finding a hardware compatibility list, I decided to ask Twitter – Steven Sinofsky suggested looking through the .iso files of these exotic releases for this information, but I couldn’t find anything in the official documentation contained on the Windows NT 4 for MIPS .iso. Luckily, however, Angus Fox, who worked at Lotus at the time, clearly remembered that there was a very clear, fully detailed HCL on the Windows NT 3.51 for Alpha disc, and it turns out he was right – the HCL comes on the disc as a .hlp file, which is a help file readable by older versions of the Windows help viewer. The Windows NT 4 .iso, too, contained an updated version of this HCL, detailing all the hardware, workstations, and servers supported by the MIPS, Alpha, and PowerPC (and x86) versions of Windows NT 4. As he details on his website, it takes some work to read the .hlp file on Windows, but on my Linux machine, it was as easy as double-clicking the file – Wine’s own Windows help viewer loaded up the file without any issue. So, there you have it – if, like me, you are somehow interested in running these obscure version of Windows NT on real Alpha, MIPS, or PowerPC hardware, all the information you need is right on the disc. Sadly, a bigger problem to overcome is finding and buying the hardware in question. Like any other non-x86 hardware from the past 30 years (DEC, HP, SGI, Sun, etc.), it has become prohibitively expensive to buy, and pretty much only available in the US using eBay, adding hundreds to thousands of euros of shipping costs to the final price for us Europeans. I’m not entirely sure what is causing this massive surge in pricing, since rarity alone cannot possibly account for charging, for instance, over 6000 dollars (!) for an AlphaStation 255.

Google is releasing Fuchsia for the Nest Hub Max, starting in Preview Program

Roughly a year after launching on the original Nest Hub, Google is making the Fuchsia operating system available for the Nest Hub Max. For over five years now, Google has been quietly toiling away on Fuchsia, an operating system intended to replace and/or compete with Linux. While many Google fans were hoping that Fuchsia’s launch would be a splashy one, like that of Android in 2008, the real launch was nearly as quiet as the development itself. The slow, steady march to replace every operating system on consumer Google devices with Fuchsia continues.

Because cross-compiling binaries for Windows is easier than building natively

I want Microsoft to do better, want Windows to be a decent development platform-and yet, I constantly see Microsoft playing the open source game: advertising how open-source and developer friendly they are – only to crush developers under the heel of the corporate behemoth’s boot. The people who work at Microsoft are amazing, kind, talented individuals. This is aimed at the company’s leadership, who I feel has on many occasions crushed myself and other developers under. It’s a plea for help. It’s never a good sign if people developing for your platform are not developing on that platform.

What would a Chromium-only Web look like?

Many argue that browser engine diversity is the backbone of the open Web – assuring not only interoperability and user choice but also a bulwark protecting the Web from centralization. So my ears perked up when I recently heard from a well-placed contact that “many in the Chromium community are arguing for a Chromium-only Web.” While the Chrome team (and friends) have long railed against what they perceive as other browsers’ plodding implementation of cutting-edge extensions to the Web, it’s a pretty big leap to advocate for a Web with only one browser engine. I feel like we’re effectively already there. Everything is made to work in Chrome, and if you don’t use Chrome, you just have to hope the sites you need remain working. Chrome has long ago amassed critical mass for total dominance – those last few percentage points make no material difference.

Running Windows NT 4 MIPS on Qemu in 3 easy steps

Today we will be looking at how to run Windows NT 4 for MIPS on the Qemu emulator. I didn’t really have a reason to try this but it seemed like a fun weekend project. In the process I’ve learned a lot about how some systems booted, got even more angry about how awful BIOS boot was on PC, and probably found a 25 year old bug in the ARC boot firmware. While I’m sure all MIPS server admins of yore knew about this I could not find any documentation on the problem, nor any solution to it. I suspect that most people playing with this today are totally fine installing Windows NT on a FAT partition. It is however very puzzling to me that this problem exists at all. What am I talking about? Read on! I find the non-x86 versions from the early days of Windows NT fascinating, and I definitely want to buy some old hardware at some point to run on of them on bare metal. In the meantime, this is a nice substitute.

Making the Master System a master of speech

The Intellivision Voice Synthesis Module was released in 1982, giving the 16-bit console the power of speech. But unfortunately, most other consoles weren’t quite as lucky. Sure, some systems, like the PC Engine CD and Nintendo Famicom, have the ability to play samples directly, so at least they can do pre-recorded speech. But the Sega Master System can’t even do that. So how do we manage? This is the kind of obscure stuff the internet needs more of.

Intel’s Netburst: failure is a foundation for success

In the world of today’s high performance CPUs, major architectural changes don’t happen often. Iterating off a proven base is safer, cheaper, and faster than attempting to massively rework the basics of how a CPU fetches and executes instructions. But more than 20 years ago, things hadn’t settled down yet. Intel made two attempts to replace its solid but aging P6 microarchitecture with something completely different. One was Itanium, which avoided the complexity associated with out-of-order execution and variable length decode to deliver very wide in-order execution. Pentium 4 was the other, and we’ll be taking a look at it in this article. Its microarchitecture, called Netburst, targeted very high clock speeds using a long pipeline. Alongside this key feature, it brought a wide range of innovative architectural features. As we all know, it didn’t quite pan out the way Intel would have liked. But this architecture was an important learning experience for Intel, and was arguably key to the company’s later success. The Pentium 4 era was wild, with insane promises Intel could not fulfill, but at the same time, an are of innovation and progress that would help Intel in later years. Fascinating time.