posted 11 days ago on OSNews
Back before all-digital music, back before the Digital Compact Cassette, back before even the Digital Audio Tape existed, there was a strange audio device that briefly captured the imagination of Hi-Fi freaks across the world. The Elcaset, as it was called, was an enlarged cassette that started in Japan, wove its hidden, spinning spools around the world, and then finished, appropriately enough, in Finland. As someone who swore by MiniDisc up until quite recently, I love obscure audio formats. This article is from the summer of last year, but I only came across it just now thanks to Atlas Obscura.

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posted 11 days ago on OSNews
Viva Amiga is a wonderful look at the the history of the platform, the people who built it, and the users who loved it. The opening title says it all: "One Amazing Computer. One chance to save the company. One chance to win the PC wars." This message sets the stage nicely for a dramatic and passionate tale. You can watch the documentary online, but it isn't free.

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posted 11 days ago on OSNews
In terms of hardware, the Nokia 6 offers a 5.5-inch Full HD display with 2.5D curved glass, Snapdragon 430 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, microSD slot, dual-SIM connectivity, 16MP camera at the back with PDAF, Dolby Atmos sound with stereo speakers, Bluetooth 4.1, LTE, 3000mAh battery, and a fingerprint sensor. The phone runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. Not exactly the most exciting phone.

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posted 14 days ago on OSNews
In short, Amazon is building the operating system of the home - its name is Alexa - and it has all of the qualities of an operating system you might expect: All kinds of hardware manufacturers are lining up to build Alexa-enabled devices, and will inevitably compete with each other to improve quality and lower prices. Even more devices and appliances are plugging into Alexa's easy-to-use and flexible framework, creating the conditions for a moat: appliances are a lot more expensive than software, and much longer lasting, which means everyone who buys something that works with Alexa is much less likely to switch. It's definitely an interesting case to make - and Ben Thomspon does it well - but I still have a very, very hard time seeing voice-driven interfaces as anything but a gimmick at this point in time. Every point I made about this subject in the Summer of 2016 still stands today - limited functionality, terrible speech recognition, inability to deal with dialects and accents, and the complete and utter lack of support for people who live multilingual lives. I can't hammer this last point home often enough: not a single one of the voice-driven interfaces we have today - Alexa, Siri, Google Now, Google Assistant, Cortana, whatever - support multilingual use. Some of them may allow you to go deep into a menu structure to change input language (while some, like smartwatches, even require a full wipe and reset), but that's not a solution to the problem of switching language sometimes even several times a minute, something multilingual people have to do dozens of times every day. And again - there are literally hundreds of millions of people who lead multilingual lives. Heck, Alexa is only available in English and German! If voice-driven interfaces are really as important as people make them out to be, they've got at least a decade of development ahead of them before they become actually useful and usable for the vast majority of the world.

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posted 14 days ago on OSNews
Late last year we reported on Project NEON - the upcoming UI upgrade for Windows 10. Recently we managed a closer look at Microsoft's internal plans for Project NEON and the future of Windows 10's UI (user-interface). Right of the bat I don't want readers to be fooled by those who suggest this is a major or a complete overhaul of Windows 10's design language. In fact, it's a fairly minor update that builds on the current Windows 10 UI (aka MDL2). Nevertheless, change is always exciting, so here's an early look at NEON. Project NEON will heavily focus on animations, simplicity, and consistency - essentially bringing back Windows 7's Aero Glass and mixing it up with animations like the ones from the Windows Phone 8/7 era. This won't be the final design that makes it into Windows, but still - they should really fix that ridiculous border around the titlebar widgets. Other than that - it seems they want to make it less bright and colourful than Metro, which I guess a lot of people will be happy about. Question remains though - there are barely any Metro applications worth using today, so will this change anything?

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posted 15 days ago on OSNews
Redux OS, a microkernel OS written in Rust, hast just released version 0.0.6, which includes bug fixes and and update to Rust. From the project's 2016 in review post: Today, we have a pretty mature project. It contains many core, usable components. It is already usable, but it is still not mature yet to be used as a replacement for Linux (like BSD is), but we’re slowly getting there. The kernel was rewritten, a memory allocator was added, rendering libc out of the dependency chain, several applications were added, a file system were added, a window manager and display server was implemented, and so on.

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posted 15 days ago on OSNews
Redox OS, a microkernel OS written in Rust, hast just released version 0.0.6, which includes bug fixes and and update to Rust. From the project's 2016 in review post: Today, we have a pretty mature project. It contains many core, usable components. It is already usable, but it is still not mature yet to be used as a replacement for Linux (like BSD is), but we’re slowly getting there. The kernel was rewritten, a memory allocator was added, rendering libc out of the dependency chain, several applications were added, a file system were added, a window manager and display server was implemented, and so on.

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posted 15 days ago on OSNews
Ahead of CES 2017, TCL teased that they would be offering a look at the first device to come out of their smartphone software and brand licensing deal with BlackBerry and they've now made good on that, though, they're keeping a lot of the finer details surrounding the phone secret for just a bit longer. It runs Android, and it's got a keyboard. What more do you need to know? The world needs more of these types of phones.

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posted 15 days ago on OSNews
This has been the winter of our discontent. 2016 was the year the tone changed. There's always been a lot of criticism and griping about anything Apple does (and doesn't do - it can't win) but in 2016 I feel like the tone of the chatter about Apple changed and got a lot more negative. This is worrisome on a number of levels and I've been thinking about it a lot. I'm used to watching people kvetch about the company, but this seems - different. One reason: a lot of the criticisms are correct. Apple, for the first time in over a decade, simply isn't firing on all cylinders. Please don't interpret that as "Apple is doomed" because it's not, but there are things it's doing a lot less well than it could - and has. Apple's out of sync with itself. Here are a few of the things I think indicate Apple has gotten itself out of kilter and is in need of some course correction. This post by Chuq Von Rospach has been widely shared and debated all over the web, and it has some great insights into Apple's 2016. Note that Chuq Von Rospach is a former Apple (and Palm) employee, and certainly has the credentials to talk about these matters.

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posted 16 days ago on OSNews
Me, almost seven years ago (2010), about the dearth of news about alternative operating systems: OSNews has moved on. As much as it saddens me to see the technology world settling on Macwinilux (don't flatter yourself, those three are pretty much the same), it's a fact I have to deal with. It's my job to fill OSNews with lots of interesting news to discuss, and even though I would love to be able to talk about how new and exciting operating systems are going to take over the desktop world, I have to be realistic too. Geeks (meaning you and I) have made a very clear choice, and it doesn't seem like anything's about to bring back those exciting early days of OSNews. Me, almost four years ago (2013), about why there are no mobile hobbyist operating systems: So, what is the cause? I personally think it has to do with how we perceive our smartphones and tablets. They are much more personal, and I think we are less open to messing with them than we were to messing with our PCs a decade ago. Most of us have only one modern smartphone, and we use it every day, so we can't live with a hobbyist operating system where, say, 3G doesn't work or WiFi disconnects every five seconds due to undocumented stuff in the chip. Android ROMs may sound like an exception, but they really aren't; virtually all of them support your hardware fully. With people unwilling to sacrifice their smartphone to play with alternative systems, it makes sense that fewer people are interested in developing these alternative systems. It is, perhaps, telling that Robert Szeleney, the programmer behind SkyOS, moved to developing mobile games. And that Wim Cools, the developer of TriangleOS, moved towards developing web applications for small businesses. Hard work that puts food on the table, sure, and as people get older priorities shift, but you would expect new people to step up to the plate and take over. So far, this hasn't happened. All we can hope for is that the mobile revolution is still young, and that we should give it some more time for a new, younger generation of gifted programmers to go for that grand slam. I sincerely hope so. I don't know, for some mysterious reason I figured I'd link to these seven and four year old stories.

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
Apple, maker of the ever-popular iPhone, is being sued on allegations that its FaceTime app contributed to the highway death of a 5-year-old girl named Moriah Modisette. In Denton County, Texas, on Christmas Eve 2014, a man smashed into the Modisette family's Toyota Camry as it stopped in traffic on southbound Interstate 35W. Police say that the driver was using the FaceTime application and never saw the brake lights ahead of him. In addition to the tragedy, father James, mother Bethany, and daughter Isabella all suffered non-fatal injuries during the crash two years ago. The Modisette family now wants Apple to pay damages for the mishap. The family alleges the Cupertino, California-based technology company had a duty to warn motorists against using the app and that it could have used patented technology to prohibit drivers from utilizing the app. I feel for the grieving family, of course, but this is, in no way, Apple's fault. The only person responsible for the horrible death is the driver using Facetime, and possibly - although that's probably quite a stretch - the person he was using FaceTime with, but that's it.

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
I'm going to use PICO-8, which its creator, Joseph "Zep" White, calls a 'fantasy console', but really it's like an indie-fied emulator of the computers I grew up with, like the BBC B. When you start it, you're presented with a 128 by 128 pixel display glitching into life, this little do-do-do-do! jingle, and a command prompt. Everything you need to make games is right there: a mini Lua code editor, sprite and map editors, and sound and music editors. It's reactive, instant to test to see if things work, and generally delightful. And the stuff people have made in it is extraordinary. Little short-form games: colourful, fun, immediate, varied. Type SPLORE into the command prompt and this little browser for games posted to the PICO-8 forum comes up. Since no game, including its graphics, is bigger than a 65K text file, you're playing them pretty much instantly. It's lovely. This is just the first article in a series.

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
Software is the umbrella term for computer programs and libraries, the coded logic that makes our machines tick. At the root of all software is the code, the instructions that enable a human to tell a machine what to do. This code is written in one of the hundreds of different programming languages - such as C, Java, or Python - each of which has its own eccentricities and context-dependent advantages. Yet regardless of the programming language being used, the functionality, logic, and efficiency of the language are always paramount - unless, of course, you're talking about

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
Ending this year, Ron G. Minnich has got Harvey running in RISC-V architecture, booting Harvey on Spike (ISA Simulator) and running rc shell on it. But he never rests and now is working on bringing it to QEMU and to FPGA. It's a big step for Harvey because we fixed some multiarch issues across the source and Ron found some bugs in timer interrupts in the hardware, so we all learned something. What is Harvey OS? Harvey is an effort to provide a modern, distributed, 64 bit operating system. A different environment for researching and finding new lines of work. It can be built with gcc and clang and has an ANSI/POSIX compliant subsystem. Two news items about alternative operating systems in a row? The year's off to a good start.

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
Hyperion Entertainment is proud to announce the immediate release of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 for all supported systems including PowerPC equipped 68K Amiga machines. Building on the existing AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition platform, Update 1 is the culmination of many man-months of work by our dedicated team of AmigaOS developers, translators and beta testers. It delivers a selection of new features and a host of bug fixes. The naming scheme still confuses me.

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
Marcan42 of Fail0verflow fame was at the CCC33 event this year, to explain how Fail0verflow exploited the PS4 hardware in order to run Linux on the PS4. The presentation goes back to all the pain the hackers had to go through in order to make Linux compatible with the PS4 architecture, which Marcan42 described several times throughout the presentation as "not being a PC" as it lacks lots of the legacy architecture bits required for a computer to constitute what is known today as an IBM compatible PC. Be sure to watch the actual presentation. It's quite informative and detailed.

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posted 18 days ago on OSNews
Last October at the Windows 10 event in New York City, Microsoft officially unveiled the Windows 10 Creators Update, codenamed "Redstone 2". At the event, Microsoft stated that the update will be released in "early 2017" but we didn't know when exactly the update will arrive. Until now, anyway. Per my sources, Microsoft will be releasing the Windows 10 Creators Update this April. The more regular, smaller updates Windows gets now is such a huge step up from the monolithic releases of yore.

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posted 22 days ago on OSNews
The third and most important thing to consider is this is the only device you can buy right now that supports Google Tango. Tango is Google-made software that, combined with specific hardware, offers advanced 3D sensing. If basic augmented reality creates a flat layer of digital information on your smartphone screen - think Pokémon Go, with the game content built on top of your real world - Tango goes beyond that, to the point where it interprets and measures spaces and objects around you and then lets you interact with digital things as though they're really, physically there. Tango sits in that category of technologies like Google Glass and virtual reality in that you can see it takes a lot of research and innovation to build, but that's hard to see a use for in my personal life. It makes much more sense in countless professional environments, but it'll need a lot more work - judging by this review - before it'd be ready for that.

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posted 22 days ago on OSNews
The well-choreographed customs routine is part of a hidden bounty of perks, tax breaks and subsidies in China that supports the world's biggest iPhone factory, according to confidential government records reviewed by The New York Times, as well as more than 100 interviews with factory workers, logistics handlers, truck drivers, tax specialists and current and former Apple executives. The package of sweeteners and incentives, worth billions of dollars, is central to the production of the iPhone, Apple's best-selling and most profitable product. Fascinating look at what the local Chinese governments do to entice Foxconn.

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posted 22 days ago on OSNews
The trouble with being a former typesetter is that every day online is a new adventure in torture. Take the shape of quotation marks. These humble symbols are a dagger in my eye when a straight, or typewriter-style, pair appears in the midst of what is often otherwise typographic beauty. It's a small, infuriating difference: "this" versus “this.” I'll stop replacing curly quotes with straight quotes on OSNews the day the tech industry gives me back my Dutch quotation marks („Like so”, he said) and adds multilingual support Google Now and Siri and so on (which right now require a full wipe to change languages, making them useless for hundreds of millions of people who live bilingual lives). Yes, I can be petty.

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posted 22 days ago on OSNews
Microsoft knows this, and have announced at WinHEC that they are looking at making the use of Precision Touchpads a requirement for devices part of the Hardware Compatibility Program, for future versions of Windows 10 after the Creators Update. This, in theory, would mean hardware makers would have no choice but to implement Precision Touchpads rather than touchpads from Synaptics or some other 3rd party trackpad maker if they wish to preload Windows 10 on their devices. I get the impression that most Windows laptops have perfectly decent trackpad hardware, but they just really suck at the software aspect of the story. More often than not, trackpads will function like a PS/2 mouse, with little to no regard for them actually being surfaces instead of rolling balls or bouncing lasers. Even when laptop makers include terrible third-party drivers with horrid configuration applications, the end result is still garbage. I've never actually used one of these fabled Precision Trackpads before, so I can't attest to their quality, but from what I hear, they're almost Apple-level in terms of quality. And honestly - even a potato would be better than the average Windows trackpad.

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posted 23 days ago on OSNews
Clearly there was something extraordinary about Word for Windows. Part of its success was due to Microsoft's marketing acumen. But it was also a stunning technical achievement, and its ability to run on ordinary PCs created the first popular vanguard of the new graphics-oriented style of document preparation. Remember, this was a time when a typical personal computer might have an 8 Mhz processor, 1 megabyte of memory, a 20 megabyte hard disk, and a floppy disk drive. How did Word accomplish so much with so little? There's only one way to understand the magic in detail: read the code. With the permission of Microsoft Corporation, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use, the source code of Word for Windows version 1.1a as it was on January 10, 1991. Quite amazing that we're getting access to the source code for pivotal software like this.

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posted 23 days ago on OSNews
PIXEL represents our best guess as to what the majority of users are looking for in a desktop environment: a clean, modern user interface; a curated suite of productivity software and programming tools, both free and proprietary; and the Chromium web browser with useful plugins, including Adobe Flash, preinstalled. And all of this is built on top of Debian, providing instant access to thousands of free applications. Put simply, it's the GNU/Linux we would want to use. The Raspberry Pi's "own" Linux distribution is now also available for Windows and Mac - i.e., a live image you can run on your PC.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
This text is a practical guide to writing your own x86 operating system. It is designed to give enough help with the technical details while at the same time not reveal too much with samples and code excerpts. We've tried to collect parts of the vast (and often excellent) expanse of material and tutorials available, on the web and otherwise, and add our own insights into the problems we encountered and struggled with.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
Apple removed the "battery time remaining" indicator from the battery status menu in the latest version 10.12.2 of macOS. Apparently it wasn't accurate. Did you know that MacBook batteries have a dedicated chip that keeps track of how much energy goes in and out of the battery during all times? For example, the 13" MacBook Pro from 2015 uses a BQ20Z451 "battery fuel gauge chip" from Texas Instruments.

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