Microsoft has done a lot on Android in recent years, and last week many were excited when the company launched its Your Phone Companion app for mirroring notifications on a Windows 10 PC. However, that’s had an unfortunate side effect that sees Microsoft inserting ads in Android’s share menus for its various other apps. They’re placing ads in the share and open with menus in Android if you install a Microsoft Android application. This is just terrible, scummy, and tasteless on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin.
In the majority of controlled tests, AMD has done something they haven’t been able to achieve in almost 15 years, since the tail-end of the Athlon 64’s reign in 2005: that is to have a CPU microarchitecture with higher performance per clock than Intel’s leading architecture. Zen 2 finally achieves this symbolic mark by a hair’s margin, with the new core improving IPC by 10-13% when compared to Zen+. Having said that, Intel still very much holds the single-threaded performance crown by a few percent. Intel’s higher achieved frequencies as well as continued larger lead in memory sensitive workloads are still goals that AMD has to work towards, and future Zen iterations will have to further improve in order to have a shot at the ST performance crown. Beyond this, it’s remarkable that AMD has been able to achieve all of this while consuming significantly less power than Intel’s best desktop chip, all thanks to the new process node. AMD’s brand new Zen 2 processors are nothing short of a slam dunk, and the desktop processor market hasn’t been this exciting and competitive in 15 years. I’m contemplating building a small light-load workstation for my new office, and there’s no way it won’t be team red, since AMD offers the amazing value across the board – low end, mid range, and high end.
In an interview with a French magazine, Huawei’s CEO and founder, Ren Zhengfei, has stated that the homegrown HongmengOS will be faster than Android and will have a broader application as well. It can be used not only on smartphones but on routers, network switches, tablets, computers and even data centers. It will also be faster than macOS, he says. Nobody cares. No applications, no platform. Sadly, it’s as simple as that.
As has become tradition for Ars at Google I/O, we recently sat down with some of the people who make Android to learn more about Google’s latest OS. For 2019, the talk was all about Android Q and this year’s big engineering effort, Project Mainline. Mainline’s goal is to enable Google (and sometimes OEMs!) to directly update core parts of the OS without pushing out a whole system update. If that sounds technical and challenging, well, it is. These are always great reads, and a welcome new tradition.
Artifact is a mess. 101 players are in game at the time of writing, with the 24 hour peak being only marginally better at 124. Valve hasn’t said anything about the game since 29th March, when the company announced the team will “be heads-down focusing on addressing these larger issues instead of shipping updates”. The most action Artifact has seen on Twitch in recent months was when people decided to stream full length movies and porn in the game’s section. Artifact, at least for now, is a dead game, and arguably Valve’s most spectacular failure to date. “It was a couple of weeks before the Artifact launch, and I was like, they can’t really launch it like this can they?” Sean “Swim” Huguenard tells Eurogamer. Valve can’t even release a game store client that isn’t slow and buggy garbage, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit they can’t make a card game either. Did anyone really expect Artifact to be any good?
Some pretty bold claims by a Microsoft kernel engineer who works on the Windows kernel regarding ReactOS, the open source operating system that aims to be compatible with Windows. Axel Rietschin, kernel engineer at Microsoft, has claimed that ReactOS, an open source operating system intended to be binary-compatible with Windows, is “a ripoff of the Windows Research Kernel that Microsoft licensed to universities.” He says that “internal data structures and internal functions, not exported anywhere and not part of the public symbols, have the exact same names as they appear in the Research Kernel.” In his recent post, he presents further arguments against ReactOS being a “clean room” implementation done without reference to the source code. “Macros names, parameters, etc. never appears in the compiled code. It is … almost surely impossible that a clean-room reimplementation ends up using macros for the same things, let alone macros with the same or similar names.” Reitschin does add he is no lawyer, but these claims do raise a number of serious concerns and questions about the ReactOS project. These claims alone will probably ensure no serious commercial entity will ever want to associate itself with ReactOS, and it will be interesting to see if these claims will ever lead to something more serious than mere words.
Why OpenBSD? Simply because it is the best tool for the job for me for my new-to-me Lenovo Thinkpad T420. Additionally, I do care about security and non-bloat in my personal operating systems (business needs can have different priorities, to be clear). I will try to detail what my reasons are for going with OpenBSD (instead of GNU/Linux, NetBSD, or FreeBSD of which I’m comfortable using without issue), challenges and frustrations I’ve encountered, and what my opinions are along the way. I’ve never managed to really get into the BSDs, as Linux has always served my needs for a UNIX-like operating system quite well. I feel like the BSDs are more pure and less messy than Linux, but is that actually true, or just my perception?
Bad website user interfaces are perhaps the worst part of the internet: spammy pop-ups designed to trick you, dark patterns that are intentionally misleading, and just plain obtuse design decisions that make filling out a form virtual hell. But don’t take my word for it: let “User Inyerface”, a web app from design firm Bagaar, show you in an intentionally nightmarish take that tries to build the single worst online form of all time. And boy, it is infuriating. This made me want to quit computers and live in a forest far away from everything even remotely related to technology.
That reminded me of something. When I was young, if I remember correctly, Windows 95 (if not 98) had this weird behavior that when installing programs, wiggling the mouse cursor make the progress faster. What caused this? I googled for it, I couldn’t find anything related. I had no idea this was a thing, and the explanation for it… Makes sense, strangely enough.
A lot of contemporary video game players take online communications for granted—after all, online services have been a standard feature in consoles for nearly fifteen years at this point. However, before the ubiquity of the internet there was a time when some clever cartridges let gamers run up to the bleeding edge of technology and peer into the future. Today, let’s close out our cartridge series by taking a look at a few cartridges that offered some form of connectivity for otherwise isolated consoles. As always, this isn’t a comprehensive list of everything that existed—it’s just a brief survey at some of the more notable or interesting high points. I really miss the days of whacky console addons.
Foreigners crossing certain Chinese borders into the Xinjiang region, where authorities are conducting a massive campaign of surveillance and oppression against the local Muslim population, are being forced to install a piece of malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other pieces of data to the authorities, a collaboration by Motherboard, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the German public broadcaster NDR has found. The Android malware, which is installed by a border guard when they physically seize the phone, also scans the tourist or traveller’s device for a specific set of files, according to multiple expert analyses of the software. The files authorities are looking for include Islamic extremist content, but also innocuous Islamic material, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, and even music from a Japanese metal band. China is basically performing ethnic cleansing on a massive scale, and it’s using technology to aid in its goal o eradicating an entire population group. It’s chilling, and every single technology company active in China – or worse yet, aiding the regime – should be held accountable.
All of this has led to a pretty vigorous (and fair) debate about whether Apple is still a design-led company, or whether its massive scale demands an operational focus that simply dictates design operates in a different way from the iMac and iPod eras. The view from inside Apple, for what it’s worth, is that design is still central to everything the company does, and the operations vs. design conflict is a media creation. But I think that debate misses the point in a serious way. There is but one important question for Apple to answer as it enters its next phase, one that will reveal everything about the company’s priorities and how it designs its products. Here it is: Will Apple compromise the user experience of the iPhone to sell services? …the answer is yes. Very much yes. It has already started.
The next feature update for Windows 10 (known in the Windows Insider Program as 19H2) will be a scoped set of features for select performance improvements, enterprise features and quality enhancements. To deliver these updates in a less disruptive fashion, we will deliver this feature update in a new way, using servicing technology (like the monthly update process) for customers running the May 2019 Update who choose to update to the new release. In other words, anyone running the May 2019 Update and updating to the new release will have a far faster update experience because the update will install like a monthly update. This service pack-like release is scheduled for September. I do have to say though that I am starting to miss the forest through the trees when it comes to Windows and its updates. I understand why things have to be so complicated – Windows is used in many different environments, and each environment requires unique updating rules – but it hasn’t exactly made things easier to grasp for consumers.
From Google’s open source blog: Today, we announced that we’re spearheading the effort to make the REP an internet standard. While this is an important step, it means extra work for developers who parse robots.txt files. We’re here to help: we open sourced the C++ library that our production systems use for parsing and matching rules in robots.txt files. This library has been around for 20 years and it contains pieces of code that were written in the 90’s. Since then, the library evolved; we learned a lot about how webmasters write robots.txt files and corner cases that we had to cover for, and added what we learned over the years also to the internet draft when it made sense.
Kyle Bradshaw at 9to5Google: As was repeatedly made plain to see during this year’s Google I/O, developers are eager to learn more about Google’s Fuchsia OS. Today, those appetites are beginning to be satisfied thanks to the quiet launch of the official Fuchsia OS developer website, Fuchsia.dev. This isn’t our first run-in with Fuchsia.dev, as the site briefly went live just after Google I/O, though it had no real content to share at the time. This morning, as noted by the Fuchsia Reddit community, Fuchsia.dev is live once again with a new design and tons of official Fuchsia documentation. This is the first time Google officially and openly acknowledges its new operating system as a real thing that exists that it wants to involve others in. Very interesting.
Martin Brinkmann at ghacks.net: We noticed back in October 2018 that Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system was not creating Registry backups anymore. The scheduled task to create the backups was still running and the run result indicated that the operation completed successfully, but Registry backups were not created anymore. It turns out that this is a feature, not a bug, as Microsoft has posted a support document explaining the new behaviour and the reasoning behind it. Starting in Windows 10, version 1803, Windows no longer automatically backs up the system registry to the RegBack folder. If you browse to to the \Windows\System32\config\RegBack folder in Windows Explorer, you will still see each registry hive, but each file is 0kb in size. This change is by design, and is intended to help reduce the overall disk footprint size of Windows. To recover a system with a corrupt registry hive, Microsoft recommends that you use a system restore point. This might come as a surprise to some, hence it seems prudent to highlight this change. In the support article, Microsoft lists methods to reenable registry backups.
Jim Hall, creator and developer of FreeDOS, on the eve of the project’s 25th birthday In 1994, I read articles in technology magazines saying that Microsoft planned to do away with MS-DOS soon. The next version of Windows would not use DOS. MS-DOS was on the way out. I’d already tried Windows 3, and I wasn’t impressed. Windows was not great. And, running Windows would mean replacing the DOS applications that I used every day. I wanted to keep using DOS. I decided that the only way to keep DOS was to write my own. On June 29, 1994, I announced my plans on the Usenet discussion group comp.os.msdos.apps, and things took off from there. FreeDOS – alongside DOSBox – are staples of the DOS community, and it’s great to have them available as free software.
But you know, if I’m being honest, the experience was not entirely unpleasant. Sure, I missed certain niceties from the graphical side of things, but there were some distinct benefits to living in a shell. My computers, even the low-powered ones, felt faster (command-line software tends to be a whole lot lighter and leaner than those with a graphical user interface). Plus, I was able to focus and get more work done without all the distractions of a graphical desktop, which wasn’t bad. What follows are the applications I found myself relying upon the most during those fateful ten days, separated into categories. In some cases, these are applications I currently use over (or in addition to) their graphical equivalents. Obviously, among OSNews readers, the terminal is a prized tool many rely on – but I wonder how many of you truly live entirely within the terminal, never touching the comforts of a graphical user interface.
Senior Trump administration officials met on Wednesday to discuss whether to seek legislation prohibiting tech companies from using forms of encryption that law enforcement can’t break — a provocative step that would reopen a long-running feud between federal authorities and Silicon Valley. The encryption challenge, which the government calls “going dark,” was the focus of a National Security Council meeting Wednesday morning that included the No. 2 officials from several key agencies, according to three people familiar with the matter. On a related note, just today head of the American regime, Donald Trump, joked about murdering journalists with the head of the Russian regime, Vladimir Putin. Gosh tootin’ darnit, I wonder what profession relies on encryption.
Google is locking down API access to Gmail data (and later, Drive data) soon, and some of your favorite third-party apps might find themselves locked out of your Google account data. The new API policy was announced back in October, but this week Google started emailing individual users of these apps, telling them the apps will no longer work starting July 15. The new policy closes off OAuth access to Gmail data, and while we by no means have a comprehensive list of what isn’t affected yet, so far we’ve seen users of Microsoft’s SwiftKey and the open source app SMS Backup+ receive notification emails. On the one hand, it’s good that Google is trying to make account access by third parties as secure as possible. On the other hand, it highlights just how dependent many of us are on data stored in the bellies of larger technology giants – and as consumers, we have little to no recourse in case one of our favourite applications gets cut off like this.