Japan declares ‘war’ on the humble floppy disk in new digitization push

Japan’s digital minister, who’s vowed to rid the bureaucracy of outdated tools from the hanko stamp to the fax machine, has now declared “war” on a technology many haven’t seen for decades — the floppy disk.  The hand-sized, square-shaped data storage item, along with similar devices including the CD or even lesser-known mini disk, are still required for some 1,900 government procedures and must go, digital minister Taro Kono wrote in a Twitter post Wednesday. I understand wanting to dump the floppy and CD, but why dump MiniDisc? Us people of culture know the MiniDisc is the end-all-be-all of storage media, and nothing has ever surpassed it. Japan is about to make a grave, grave mistake.

Google gives developers a way to sidestep Android 13’s one-way update

With the rollout of Android 13 to the Pixel 6 and 6a, Google posted an interesting warning on the system image website: Once you flash Android 13, you can never go back to the old version. That’s still the case for anyone wanting a fully functional phone, but now, Google has posted an Android 12 “developer support image” that will let developers roll back their phones even after upgrading. The “developer” branding on the image means it’s not fully functional, but it will be good enough for app testing. Not being able to roll back would be terrible if Android 13 came with some sort of gamebreaking bug, so this is a welcome release.

Google wants to make Fuchsia devices manageable with Android’s ADB tool

This week, the Fuchsia team shared a new proposal titled “ADB on Fuchsia” that shares the team’s intention to support ADB for controlling devices and the reasoning behind wanting to do so. At present, the core “fx” and “ffx” tools used to control Fuchsia devices are only compatible with Linux and macOS computers. And while there’s an effort to get ffx running on Windows, that’s not projected to be completed until the end of 2022. Sadly, ADB for Fuchsia won’t work for consumer Fuchsia devices, such as the Nest Hubs, since Goolgle states that it will only be available during early development phases of Fuchsia devices.

Google launches cross-device SDK developer preview for building multi-device experiences on Android

Today we’re launching our Developer Preview of the new Cross device SDK for Android. First announced during the Google I/O ‘22 Multi-device development session, our Cross device SDK allows developers to build rich multi-device experiences with a simple and intuitive set of APIs. This SDK abstracts away the intricacies involved with working with device discovery, authentication, and connection protocols, allowing you to focus on what matters most—building delightful user experiences and connecting these experiences across a variety of form factors and platforms. Google intends to expand this tool to non-Android operating systems soon.

Why YouTube decided to make its own video chip

Roughly seven years ago, Partha Ranganathan realized Moore’s law was dead. That was a pretty big problem for the Google engineering vice president: He had come to expect chip performance to double every 18 months without cost increases and had helped organize purchasing plans for the tens of billions of dollars Google spends on computing infrastructure each year around that idea. But now Ranganathan was getting a chip twice as good every four years, and it looked like that gap was going to stretch out even further in the not-too-distant future. So he and Google decided to do something about it. The company had already committed hundreds of millions of dollars to design its own custom chips for AI, called tensor processing units, or TPUs. Google has now launched more than four generations of the TPU, and the technology has given the company’s AI efforts a leg up over its rivals. Google uses all kinds of custom hardware throughout its operations, but you rarely hear about it. This article provides some insight into the custom hardware Google uses for YouTube transcoding.

Apple faces growing likelihood of DOJ antitrust suit

Justice Department lawyers are in the early stages of drafting a potential antitrust complaint against Apple, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter — a sign that a long-running investigation may be nearing a decision point and a suit could be coming soon. Various groups of prosecutors inside DOJ are assembling the pieces for a potential lawsuit, the individual said, adding that the department’s antitrust division hopes to file suit by the end of the year. The Justice Department has been investigating Apple since 2019 over allegations that it abused its market power to stifle smaller tech companies, including app developers and competing hardware makers. As the investigation has progressed, a suit has become increasingly likely, but the move to drafting sections of the suit is a significant step forward in the process. Finally.

US government to make all research it funds open access on publication

Many federal policy changes are well known before they are announced. Hints in speeches, leaks, and early access to reporters at major publications all pave the way for the eventual confirmation. But on Thursday, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) dropped a big one that seemed to take everyone by surprise. Starting in 2026, any scientific publication that receives federal funding will need to be openly accessible on the day it’s published. The move has the potential to further shake up the scientific publishing industry, which has already adopted preprint archives, similar mandates from other funding organizations, and greatly expanded access to publications during the pandemic. Aaron Schwartz died trying to make this happen.

What have we lost?

We have ended up in a world where UNIX and Windows have taken over, and most people have never experienced anything else. Over the years, though, many other system designs have come and gone, and some of those systems have had neat ideas that were nevertheless not enough to achieve commercial success. We will take you on a tour of a variety of those systems, talking about what makes them special. In particular, we’ll discuss IBM i, with emphasis on the Single Level Store, TIMI, and block terminals Interlisp, the Lisp Machine with the interface of Smalltalk OpenGenera, with a unique approach to UI design TRON, Japan’s ambitious OS standard. This is an hour-long watch, but I’m getting some coffee and snacks ready this weekend. This seems like total OSNews bait.

Devs are making progress getting macOS Ventura to run on unsupported, decade-old Macs

Skirting the official macOS system requirements to run new versions of the software on old, unsupported Macs has a rich history. Tools like XPostFacto and LeopardAssist could help old PowerPC Macs run newer versions of Mac OS X, a tradition kept alive in the modern era by dosdude1’s patchers for Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina. For Big Sur and Monterey, the OpenCore Legacy Patcher (OCLP for short) is the best way to get new macOS versions running on old Macs. It’s an offshoot of the OpenCore Hackintosh bootloader, and it’s updated fairly frequently with new features and fixes and compatibility for newer macOS versions. The OCLP developers have admitted that macOS Ventura support will be tough, but they’ve made progress in some crucial areas that should keep some older Macs kicking for a little bit longer. I always love the dedication of these people trying to get macOS to run on hardware it was never intended to run on. It must be a small scene, actively fighting Apple every step along the way, but usually succeeding in the end. These are people giving older Macs a longer lease on life, and that’s only to be applauded.

FreeBSD on the Framework laptop

It’s been a long journey these past few months trying to find a modern, compatible, FreeBSD laptop, and getting it to work well enough for daily use (everything except for gaming). For the past few months, I’ve been documenting my journey using this laptop, then I left the framework laptop and switched to a Thinkpad X260, and then a Thinkpad X1C7. This gave me perspective on what is considered “FreeBSD compatible”.. After experiencing what that “compatibility” meant, and the work needed to get those machines up and running, I decided to come back to the framework laptop with that perspective, and try to get FreeBSD running on it again in a smoother capacity. I’ve finally succeeded! Everything isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good, and will hold you until even better support comes to the machine. I can now pretty much say that you can use this laptop in a production capacity for your every day stuff. Getting FreeBSD to fully support a modern laptop for desktop use seems like what it was like to get desktop Linux up and running smoothly on a desktop about twenty years ago. I love the idea of desktop FreeBSD, but I feel like there’s a long way to go, and I wonder if the people actually developing and contributing to FreeBSD are really focused on it (which is, of course, their prerogative).

Apple’s use of AppKit, Mac Catalyst and SwiftUI in macOS

The WWDC 2019 had a major impact on the UI toolkit landscape: while the venerable AppKit APIs remained available, Apple removed the old Carbon APIs and introduced 2 brand new frameworks: Mac Catalyst and SwiftUI. Apple sporadically mentioned some apps built with these new UI toolkits. In this article, I try to bring a better overview of Apple’s use of AppKit, Mac Catalyst and SwiftUI in the different versions of macOS, from macOS Mojave to macOS Ventura. Really great visualisation, and shows that the march to SwiftUI continues – however, I’m not entirely sure macOS users should be happy about that.

Janet Jackson and the power to crash system

A colleague of mine shared a story from Windows XP product support. A major computer manufacturer discovered that playing the music video for Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” would crash certain models of laptops. I would not have wanted to be in the laboratory that they must have set up to investigate this problem. Not an artistic judgement. One discovery during the investigation is that playing the music video also crashed some of their competitors’ laptops. And then they discovered something extremely weird: Playing the music video on one laptop caused a laptop sitting nearby to crash, even though that other laptop wasn’t playing the video! What’s going on? I did not see that one coming.

We tested all the Ubuntu remixes for resource usage so you don’t have to

All the remixes use less memory than the default GNOME edition. To be honest, we didn’t expect that. The last time we did this comparison, in 2013, Kubuntu scoffed the most RAM – and as before, it still uses the most disk. KDE Plasma 5 really has slimmed down its memory footprint impressively, although it’s still no lightweight. The KDE, MATE, and Budgie editions are quite close in resource usage so in those terms, there’s not a lot to choose between them. That means it’s down to your personal preferences. All credit to the Lubuntu team: their remix remains the lightest by quite some margin, both in memory and disk usage. Saying that, it does use an old version of the LXQt desktop. There is a repository to install a newer version, but that’s a big ask for a non-techie user. These differences seem minute and insignificant to me, especially once you start loading a browser with a few tabs or a few documents, and any of these small RAM differences will melt like snow in the Sahara.

Physical buttons outperform touchscreens in new cars, test finds

Physical buttons are increasingly rare in modern cars. Most manufacturers are switching to touchscreens – which perform far worse in a test carried out by Vi Bilägare. The driver in the worst-performing car needs four times longer to perform simple tasks than in the best-performing car. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Anyone with more than only a modicum of experience in human-machine interaction will tell you touchscreens are a terrible idea in cars. It’s high time safety regulators start, well, regulating the use of touchscreens in cars.

Why I left PINE64

Linux hardware projects are made or broken by their community support. PINE64 has made some brilliant moves to build up a mobile Linux community, and has also made some major mistakes. This is my view on how PINE64 made the PinePhone a success, and then broke that again through their treatment of the community. I want to start by pointing out that this is me leaving PINE64 and not the projects I’m involved in like postmarketOS. This is just a sad story. I hope some of the problems can be mended in time.

Windows 11 22H2 “Sun Valley 2” apparently going public on September 20

As it turns out, our guesstimation was probably pretty spot on, as there are now multiple reports alleging that Microsoft is going to be making Windows 11 22H2 (codenamed Sun Valley 2 or SV2) public on the 20th of September. It will be apparently be served via the Windows Update option in the Settings. For those on Windows 11 21H2, which is the original release, it should be a seamless upgrade process as the system requirements haven’t changed. I guess this Windows version gobbledygook means something to someone, but I lost track a long time ago.

RSoC: improving drivers and kernel – part 7

In my last blog post, I introduced the userspace_fexec/userspace_clone features. As the names suggest, they move the inherently complex implementations of fork(3) and execve(2), from the kernel into relibc, giving userspace much more freedom while simplifying the kernel. There has been considerable progress since last post; the features userspace_fexec/userspace_clone, userspace_initfs, and userspace_initfs, have now all been merged! I understood some of those words.

Android 13 releases today for Google Pixel smartphones

Today, Google is releasing Android 13 for Google Pixel smartphones, following months of developer previews and beta releases. It’s an update that polishes a lot of the changes that Android 12 brought to the table, while also introducing a ton of small, helpful features across the board that aims to improve privacy, security, and usability. Alongside the update, the company has also announced that Android 13’s source code is now available in AOSP. It’ll be a while before Android 13 lands in most of our hands.

Apple finds its next big business: showing ads on your iPhone

Apple is set to expand ads to new areas of your iPhone and iPad in search of its next big revenue driver. Let’s begin with the current state of play: Apple’s advertising efforts today consist of display ads inside of its News and Stocks apps, as well as inside the App Store, across the iPhone, iPad and Mac. The App Store also has Google-like search ads. And more recently, Apple put advertising inside of TV+ for its “Friday Night Baseball” deal with Major League Baseball. I believe that the iPhone maker will eventually expand search ads to Maps. It also will likely add them to digital storefronts like Apple Books and Apple Podcasts. And TV+ could generate more advertising with multiple tiers (just as Netflix Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. are doing with their streaming services). So that was the plan all along. First, Apple tried to cut a deal with Facebook – one of the two online advertising giants (Apple already gets billions a year from the other, Google) – to get in on the online ad revenue. Second, when that fell through, Apple went on a privacy crusade against Facebook (and to a lesser extent, Google) to harm its online advertising business. Third, Apple is now going to expand its own ad business by adding even more ads to iOS. And all along the way, millions fell for it. John Gruber, a few years ago: My concern, again, is what happens if the drive to increase services revenue takes precedence over Apple’s “Prime Directive”: to put product design and experience above all else. Well, now you know.