So what is “the metaverse”, exactly?

So is the metaverse the next big advance that will revolutionize the way we all connect with each other? Is it just a repackaging of existing technologies into a new catch-all concept? Or is it just the latest buzzword marketing term? The answer to that depends on what you mean by “metaverse”. If there’s ever been a buzzword that truly gets under my skin, it’s this one. It’s clearly manufactured and groomed by corporations, Facebook especially, to distract form that company’s massive problems, lousy reputation, and damaging effects on society, and yet, tech media gobble it all up. The metaverse is nothing. There’s nothing that exists today called “the metaverse” that’s any different from things that existed four years ago, or even eight years ago.

The Soviet 1801VM2 LSI-11 processor

The Soviet-made 1801VM2 CPU (a binary-compatible implementation of the PDP11 instruction set and QBUS interface) was developed in 1982. The 1801VM2 is a further development of the earlier 1801VM1 doubling the original 5MHz clock speed. From a constructive standpoint this CPU is a completely independent development. There’s a wealth of interesting computer technology in the former USSR, and it’s great to see more of it make its way online.

The Intel 12th Gen Core i9-12900K review: hybrid performance brings hybrid complexity

Overall though, it’s no denying that Intel is now in the thick of it, or if I were to argue, the market leader. The nuances of the hybrid architecture are still nascent, so it will take time to discover where benefits will come, especially when we get to the laptop variants of Alder Lake. At a retail price of around $650, the Core i9-12900K ends up being competitive between the two Ryzen 9 processors, each with their good points. The only serious downside for Intel though is cost of switching to DDR5, and users learning Windows 11. That’s not necessarily on Intel, but it’s a few more hoops than we regularly jump through. Competition is amazing.

The Common Desktop Environment (CDE) is still developed and modern in 2021

While playing around with the GUI on OpenVMS I was looking for CDE documentation and I found out CDE is still being developed and can be installed on modern linux. This quick post shows you how to install CDE on Debian 10 and includes a bit on compiling GENERIC TETRIS, the same program I installed on OpenVMS. I will forever stand by my article from 14 years ago and you can put on my gravestone that I truly think CDE is one of the best graphical user interfaces ever conceived. CDE was released as open source software about nine years ago, and is still being developed.

The Pioneer PX-V7: MSX over all?

To capture a composite video signal and display it on my computer’s output, I need to use an upscaler that converts to an HDMI signal, then an HDMI capture device which in turn communicates with my PC over USB. Then, I can overlay my stupid face over it and send it to Twitch or something. But what if it was 1984? Of course, Twitch wouldn’t exist, nor would HDMI. So what’s the next best thing? Ah, the MSX. Most people focus on how popular it was in Japan, but they rarely mention that, because of the involvement of the Dutch company Philips, the MSX was also remarkably popular in my country of origin, The Netherlands. Some of my earliest computer memories took place on an MSX at a friends’ place. The particular model of MSX in this article, however, is something entirely different from the kinds of MSX machines I ran into as a kid. This thing has a considerable number of tricks up its sleeves, and now I just know I’ll be spending considerable time on eBay.

Microsoft Edge reaches milestone on cross-platform journey: available on Linux today

A common request is your need for Microsoft Edge to span the breadth of operating systems in your environment. Last October, we made Microsoft Edge available on Linux in preview channels (Dev and Beta channels) and today, the browser is generally available for Linux via the stable channel. This milestone officially rounds out the full complement of major platforms served by Microsoft Edge through stable channel: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and now Linux. To use Microsoft Edge on Linux, users can download it from our website or retrieve it using the command line from a Linux package manager. I hear Edge is a decent browser, but I think it’s safe to assume it does its best to trick you into using Microsoft services. I really see no need for this in my Linux environment, especially since it’s just Chromium, and there are far, far better Google-free Chromium alternatives for Linux.

SerenityOS: year 3 in review

Today we celebrate the third birthday of SerenityOS, counting from the first commit in the git repository, on October 10, 2018. Previous birthdays: 1st, 2nd. What follows is a list of interesting events from the past year, mixed with random development screenshots and also reflections from other developers in the SerenityOS community. SerenityOS is simply a great project, with a good mindset, good people, and lots and lots of talent. These birthday posts are a great way to check if you’ve missed any of the developments around the project this year.

Trinity Desktop Environment R14.0.11 released

This release comes with improved support for user sessions on high resolution displays, new TWin styles (SUSE2 and DeKorator), some other new applications, improvements to ffmpeg support and video support in Kopete, a revamped weather bar for Konqueror, a working KNemo backend and various minor improvements and fixes to several long standing annoying bugs and crashes. It also adds support for Debian Bullseye, Ubuntu Impish, Fedora 34 and 35 and Arch distributions. We’ve been talking about Trinity for a while, but for the uninitiated – it’s a fork of the last KDE 3.5.x release, with upgraded bits, fixed bugs, and new features, made to run on modern distributions.

Looking for High Sierra

Some time ago, I thought it would be useful to understand exactly what is the difference between CD-ROMs recorded in the old High Sierra format versus the ISO 9660 standard. This was in part spurred by the fact that I have a number of CD-ROMs/images that use the High Sierra format (Microsoft Programmer’s Library, some IBM Developer Connection issues, OS/2 Warp 4, and more) that both macOS and Windows 10 refuse to mount. The other part of my motivation was the usual insatiable curiosity. I had no idea about the existence of this different format.

Pentium on a 386 motherboard

I was wondering what would be the ultimate upgrade for my 386 motherboard. It has a 386 CPU soldered-in, an unpopulated 386 PGA socket and a socket for either 387 FPU or 486 PGA or (might take a Weitek as well – not quite sure) and even might have a soldered-in 486SX PQFP. Plenty of options… But how about hacking a Pentium in? Nothing about this makes any sense, and yet, it’s just plain awesome.

Linux 5.15 released

As you’d expect, Linux 5.15 includes an impressive itinerary of improvements. These range from small fixes at lower levers through to major restructuring of core functionality. The following roundup highlights the additions that caught my interest/eye but is by no means an exhaustive run-through. The biggest new feature is the new NTFS driver, but there’s a lot more in this release, such as an in-kernel driver for SMB, and more Apple M1 support, to name a few.

Students don’t know what files and folders are, professors say

Strange as it may seem to older generations of computer users who grew up maintaining an elaborate collection of nested subfolders, thanks to powerful search functions now being the default in operating systems, as well as the way phones and tablets obfuscate their file structure, and cloud storage, high school graduates don’t see their hard drives the same way. As anyone who has had to sift through a relative’s landfill organization technique can attest, most people shouldn’t be in charge of organizing their files. The machine should sort files based on metadata about the file, and people can select options and provide search criteria to filter the data. We’re power users here, but even I rely on fd, locate, and ripgrep quite often. I guess this most surprising part is this is surprising. Computing is application focused. People open MS Office Word, Apple Pages, or LibreOffice Writer; they don’t open a file. Operating systems don’t have pluggable extensions which let people manipulate various file types; they have applications which run on them. On top of that, files and folders are a meta-construct so humans can grok filesystem semantics and, ultimately, blocks on a storage device.

Expanded Windows 11 app store comes to Windows 10 “soon”, available to testers now

Ars Technica: If you don’t want to (or can’t) run Windows 11 on your PC, the good news is that Microsoft will be providing at least a few app updates to Windows 10 to keep it feeling useful. One of those app updates is Windows 11’s revamped Microsoft Store, which is now available to Windows 10 users in the Release Preview Insider channel. The new Microsoft Store isn’t dramatically different from the old one in its design, though a few of the changes are clear improvements—viewing your app library and grabbing updates for the apps you already have installed happens on the same screen now, which is handy. But the real reason to install it is its dramatically improved app selection. Microsoft has loosened the rules for the kinds of apps that can be submitted to and downloaded from the store, and apps like Zoom, Discord, the VLC Player, Adobe Reader, the LibreOffice suite, and even the Epic Games Store are all available to download through the store. Once installed, the apps look and work the same way as the standalone versions. We’ll see how long it lasts, but I think it’s great that Microsoft isn’t just completely abandoning Windows 10 now that its successor is out the door. This new store is clearly a major improvement, and giving Windows 10 users access to it is not something they had to do.

Here is an easier way to install Google Play Store on Windows 11

A week ago we posted on a hack to install the Google Play Store and Google Play Services in Microsoft’s Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) for Windows 11. That allows access to a much wider range of Android applications, vs the very small 50 app limited selection from the Amazon App Store. That process was pretty convoluted, however, including requiring the use of a Linux environment on Windows. Now the same team has created a somewhat simplified process using GitHub Actions to customise the WSA. If you’re on Windows 11 and would really like to run Android applications properly – instead of using the Amazon App Store – this is the way to go.

The ‘Dune’ screenplay was written in MS-DOS

In the brutal future of Frank Herbert’s Dune, computers are outlawed and high level computations are done by specially trained and bred humans called mentats. In Herbert’s world, there’s something elegant about old solutions to new problems. Good then that Oscar winning Dune screenwriter Eric Roth banged out the screenplay using the MS-DOS program Movie Master. Roth writes everything using the 30-year-old software. “I work on an old computer program that’s not in existence anymore,” Roth said in an interview in 2014. “It’s half superstition and half fear of change.” Roth wrote the screenplay for Dune in 2018 and explained he was still using Movie Master on a Barstool Sports podcast in 2020. That means Dune was written in an MS-DOS program. There’s really no reason to stop using software that you like, assuming you can make it secure and ensure your work is properly backed up. It’s trivial to set up a DOS environment, and it’s trivial to ensure not just the files you’re working on, but the entire DOS environment itself is backed up. This applies to many old and outdated platforms – there’s countless ways to virtualise, or to go on eBay and buy some original hardware.

Facebook changes its name to Meta

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday at his company’s Connect event that its new name will be Meta. “We are a company that builds technology to connect,” Zuckerberg said. “Together, we can finally put people at the center of our technology. And together, we can unlock a massively bigger creator economy.” “To reflect who we are and what we hope to build,” he added. He said the name Facebook doesn’t fully encompass everything the company does now, and is still closely linked to one product. “But over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company.” You can call a pile of shit whatever you want, but that won’t magically turn it into gingerbread cookies.

12L and new Android APIs and tools for large screens

There are over a quarter billion large screen devices running Android across tablets, foldables, and ChromeOS devices. In just the last 12 months we’ve seen nearly 100 million new Android tablet activations–a 20% year-over-year growth, while ChromeOS, now the fastest growing desktop platform, grew by 92%. We’ve also seen Foldable devices on the rise, with year on year growth of over 265%! All told, there are over 250 million active large screen devices running Android. With all of the momentum, we’re continuing to invest in making Android an even better OS on these devices, for users and developers. So today at Android Dev Summit, we announced a feature drop for Android 12 that is purpose-built for large screens, we’re calling it 12L, along with new APIs, tools, and guidance to make it easier to build for large screens. We also talked about changes we’re making to Google Play to help users discover your large-screen optimized apps more easily. Read on to see what’s new for large screens on Android! Android 12 isn’t even really in anyone’s hands, and we’ve got the next release waiting around the corner already. The improvements coming in 12L seem quite welcome, since Android and tablets haven’t exactly been a match made in heaven, something made all the more obvious when you run Android applications on Chromebooks. I hope developers will tap into these new APIs and tools, but as with every Google promise for Android, seeing is believing.

Microsoft is building an 11.6″ low-cost laptop and special Windows 11 edition for primary schools

According to my sources, this new laptop is codenamed Tenjin and features a fully plastic exterior, a 1366×768 11.6-inch display, an Intel Celeron N4120 and up to 8GB RAM. This is a no-frills laptop designed to be as low-cost as possible, built for student-use in a classroom environment. I’m told the device features a full-sized keyboard and trackpad, one USB-A port, one USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a barrel-style AC port. Tenjin marks the beginning of a new K-12 education strategy for Microsoft. In addition to the new hardware, Microsoft is also preparing to launch a new edition of Windows 11 titled “Windows 11 SE” built specifically for low-cost school PCs like Tenjin. I’m told this SKU focuses on special optimizations, tweaks, and features built for education establishments deploying low-end hardware. I wonder how much of Chromebook’s dominance in education is due to hardware or software, and how much is due to excellent deployment and management tools. I’m sure Microsoft has fantastic deployment and management tools for the enterprise, but since I don’t have any experience with these matters, I wonder if they may be too complicated and too difficult to use in basic primary school settings.

Intel 12th Gen Core Alder Lake for desktops: top SKUs only, coming November 4th

Well, it’s almost here. It looks like Intel will take the ST crown, although MT is a bit of a different story, and might rely explicitly on the software being used or if the difference in performance is worth the price. The use of the hybrid architecture might be an early pain point, and it will be interesting to see if Thread Director remains resilient to the issues. The bump up to Windows 11 is also another potential rock in the stream, and we’re seeing some teething issues from users, although right now users who are looking to early adopt a new CPU are likely more than ready to adopt a new version of Windows at the same time. The discourse on DDR4 vs DDR5 is one I’ve had for almost a year now. Memory vendors seem ready to start seeding kits to retailers, however the expense over DDR4 is somewhat eyewatering. The general expectation is that DDR5 won’t offer much performance uplift over a good kit of DDR4, or might even be worse. The benefit of DDR5 then at this point is more to start on that DDR5 ladder, where the only way to go is up. This will be Intel’s last DDR4 platform on desktop it seems. Intel is taking a different approach than AMD, and follows more in the footsteps of ARM chips – there’s both performance and efficiency cores, and it’s up to Intel’s and others’ software to make proper use of it. It’s great to see what competition can lead to, and both AMD and Apple have lit a fire under this entire industry.

macOS Monterey released

Monterey feels of a piece with maintenance-mode macOS updates like El Capitan or Sierra or High Sierra—change the default wallpaper, and in day-to-day use you can easily forget that you’ve upgraded from Big Sur at all. It’s not that there aren’t any new features here—it’s just that improving any operating system as mature as macOS involves a lot of tinkering around the edges. But there are plenty of things to talk about in even the most minor of macOS releases, and Monterey is no different. The update refines the Big Sur design and rethinks automation and what’s possible via local wireless communication between devices. It also makes a long list of minor additions that won’t be exciting for everyone but will be interesting for some subset of Mac users. It’s available now, but it does cut support for quite a few Macs that Big Sur still supported.