posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
So, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of my favourite games of all time, and it's also generally considered to be one of the best games ever made. And, as with all games, people 'speedrun' this game, which means trying to beat the game as fast as is humanly possible. There are several categories, each with certain rules and things that are and are not allowed. This particular speedrun of Symphony Of The Night by Cosmo takes this concept to a whole new level. The end time of 7 minutes and 52 seconds is mind-blowing enough, but how he actually gets there is just utterly insane. Basically, he procures a very specific set of items in his inventory, and then proceeds to manipulate the items in his inventory in a extremely specific way, within very specific fractions of seconds of game-time, to use the sorting mechanism of the inventory to manipulate the assembly code in memory to make the game finish itself. All this, on the actual console itself, without tools, without additional software, without emulators, without anything. The actual science or coding behind this technique was discovered and developed by a person named Sockfolder, and he put up a 40-minute stream to explain in detail what's going on, with the contents of memory on the side of the screen so you can see exactly what's happening. It's mesmerising (even though I don't fully understand what's going on). While the actual coding part of it can be discovered and explored in relative comfort of an emulator and other tools, actually pulling this off 'live', with just the tools at the disposal of any regular player, is absolutely amazing. This kind of stuff sits at the very fringes of programming, and I find it incredibly impressive.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is going on right now, but unless you're interested in Samsung or LG smart fridges, generic smartphones from generic vendors, or smartwatches nobody will remember or care about two weeks from now, it's kind of hard to find decent news among the cavalcade of irrelevance. Well, there's this - an official statement from Hyperion, the developer of AmigaOS 4, regarding the source code leak late last year. The days between last Christmas and New Year were actually clouded by the sad fact that the source code of AmigaOS 3.1 and additional content dating back to 1994 was published and widely spread without permission of the rights-holder. Note that no code of AmigaOS 4.x was released or distributed. [...] While this would be already more than enough of a reason to care about the unauthorised disclosure and distribution, it is also the very same settlement agreement which made all of this possible in the first place, which contractually requires Hyperion to enforce and protect any intellectual property rights associated with AmigaOS including the AmigaOS 3.1 source-code. So yeah, Hyperion is obligated to combat this source code leak, but as we all know - this is the internet. It's out there now, and it's not going anywhere any time soon.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Dutch government has formally opposed the introduction of backdoors in encryption products. A government position paper, published by the Ministry of Security and Justice on Monday and signed by the security and business ministers, concludes that "the government believes that it is currently not appropriate to adopt restrictive legal measures against the development, availability and use of encryption within the Netherlands." The conclusion comes at the end of a five-page run-through of the arguments for greater encryption and the counter-arguments for allowing the authorities access to the information. The word "currently" worries me, but this is good news.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microkernel hatred is a peculiar phenomenon. Sheltered users who have never had any background in much beyond Windows and some flavor of free monolithic Unix, will, despite a general apathy or ignorance in the relevant subjects, have strong opinions on the allegedly dreadful performance and impracticality of "icrokernels", however they define the term (and we shall see that a lot of people have some baffling impressions of what a microkernel is supposed to be). Quite often, these negative views will be a result of various remarks made by Linus Torvalds and a general hero worship of his character, a misrepresentation of an old Usenet flame war between AST and Torvalds that was somehow "won" and which supposedly proved that microkernels are nothing but a toy of ivory tower academics, or a rehash of quarter century-old benchmarks on CMU's Mach that were unfavorable. The presence of Linus' character in many of this is no coincidence. It strikes me that anti-microkernel sentiment most vocally originates as a sort of tribal affiliation mechanism by Linux users to ward off insecurity. In any event, this article will be a concise tour of microkernel myths and misconceptions throughout the ages. I wouldn't exactly call this article "concise", but it's definitely filled with valuable technical information.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Let me start by saying that beautiful websites come in all sizes and page weights. I love big websites packed with images. I love high-resolution video. I love sprawling Javascript experiments or well-designed web apps. This talk isn't about any of those. It's about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year. While I'll be using examples to keep the talk from getting too abstract, I'm not here to shame anyone, except some companies (Medium) that should know better and are intentionally breaking the web. This is an amazing and hilarious read we can all agree with it. I doubt there's going to be any pointless bickering over this one.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The general plan for the OS is to create a micro-kernel based design with sufficient drivers that a basic user-mode interface can be created. The user-mode interface will include a basic tablet or laptop user interface with the ability to start user mode applications. The final goal is to develop a web-browser application to demonstrate the power of the OS. FlingOS is an educational operating system designed to aid in teaching and learning low-level operating system programming.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
With a heavy heart Debian mourns the passing of Ian Murdock, stalwart proponent of Free Open Source Software, Father, Son, and the 'ian' in Debian. Ian started the Debian project in August of 1993, releasing the first versions of Debian later that same year. Debian would go on to become the world's Universal Operating System, running on everything from embedded devices to the space station. Ian's sharp focus was on creating a Distribution and community culture that did the right thing, be it ethically, or technically. Releases went out when they were ready, and the project's staunch stance on Software Freedom are the gold standards in the Free and Open Source world. Debian - or anything Debian-based - is my distribution of choice, and there's no denying just how much Debian has contributed to the Linux world. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Google is replacing the Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in Android with OpenJDK, the open source version of Oracle's Java Development Kit (JDK). The news first came by a "mysterious Android codebase commit" from last month submitted to Hacker News. Google confirmed to VentureBeat that Android N will rely solely on OpenJDK, rather Android’s own version of the Java APIs. "As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community," a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. "In our upcoming release of Android, we plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services. Google has long worked with and contributed to the OpenJDK community, and we look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future." If this is what it takes to get those Oracle slimebags off Android's back, so be it.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Generation Amiga has reported today a tweet from Hacker Fantastic saying that the Amiga OS source has been leaked, including both Kickstart and Workbench. Looking at the @hackerfantastic's tweet, there is another user with the handle @TheWack0lian that offers a link to download the OS in a 130MB tar file which expands to 540MB of source code. [...] Apparently the source code is really related to Amiga OS. The tar file name refers to OS 3.1 but folders from the source code refers to version 4, which could mean the source code is pretty much up to date. From what I can gather, it's not fully 100% complete, but it's still a pretty significant leak. With the number of times this software has changed hands, it's remarkable it's taken this long.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
In both cases, what is unusual for Microsoft is the positivity the gizmos have generated. Fair or not (and I'd argue probably not), Microsoft isn't expected to blaze new trails and develop hot new products that have the potential to create new markets or shake up existing ones. We know Microsoft's history - too early with tablets, too early with smartphones, too early with wearables - and this generates a degree of skepticism around what it does. But with HoloLens and Surface Book, much of that cynicism seems to have evaporated. Desktop operating systems (Windows, Linux, OS X - all of them) are in a pretty piss-poor state right now for various different reasons, and in the case of Windows, I find this truly sad because Microsoft seems to be doing some really cool stuff in the laptop and tablet front. Sadly, the software just isn't up to par. Much like the Apple, we can hope 2016 brings some major improvements, but considering Microsoft's endless promises and failures to deliver, I'm not holding my breath.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
All of Apple's products this year were just fine. You could settle yourself totally within the Apple ecosystem and use Apple Music and Apple News on your iPhone while taking Live Photos and you would be just fine. You wouldn't have the best time, but you wouldn't have the worst one, either. It would just be fine. And that's really the issue. We're not used to Apple being just fine. We're used to Apple being wildly better than the competition, or sometimes much worse, but always being ahead of the curve on some significant axis. But what we got in 2015 was an Apple that released more products than ever, all of which felt incomplete in extremely meaningful ways - ways that meant that their products were just fine, and often just the same as everyone else's. In defense of Apple, the company did put out a significant number of new platforms this year. Let's see if they manage to improve these clearly beta platforms in 2016.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Google's next move for Glass is clearly into the enterprise, and the device that Google is using to make this move, appropriately dubbed "Enterprise Edition," has improved internal hardware, and a new look built around a button-and-hinge system made for working environments. As you can tell, the device doesn't look all too different than the previous Google Glass: Explorer Edition, but foldability was one of the previous version’s most-requested features - and now it's part of the design. As I said earlier, this just makes sense.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Currently, standards are advancing rapidly in the area of mobile Web applications as part of the emerging HTML5 platform. The goal, backed strongly by Google and Mozilla, is for websites to be able to do anything that native apps can. If this happens, native apps may no longer be necessary or desirable - right? Would the considerable advantages of the mobile Web (its near-zero footprint, updates performed on the server, and support for all platforms) convince developers and users to target the Web instead of the iPhone and Android? And would Apple allow this to happen? This utopian dream has existed in one form or another for at least two decades now, and I wonder if we'll ever get there. It'd be nice to be freed from the clutches of Google Play and the App Store, but it's a long way off, still.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Quartz looks back at Apple's 2015. This year, CEO Tim Cook did a lot of interviews by Apple standards, from this month's "60 Minutes" episode to 20 minutes with BuzzFeed in the back seat of a Cadillac Escalade. He "crashed" a coding party - conveniently while a Mashable editor was in attendance - and "wrote a message" to CNBC's Jim Cramer. You might even say he likes the attention. Meanwhile, Jony Ive, Apple's chief design officer, participated in an FT profile and received the New Yorker treatment earlier this year, inviting a journalist into his Bentley. To the media, a "rare look inside Jony Ive's design lab" seems to be the prized new "rare look inside North Korea." (And similarly staged.) This PR campaign by Apple seems designed to make the company look more open and inviting, but in the end it just makes it all look fake and staged - which reflects incredibly badly on the media outlets participating in these PR events. For a company and accompanying fanbase riling so heavily against advertising, Apple sure does a lot of advertising thinly veiled as actual "reports" or "news stories". But hey, people eat it up, so I can't blame either the advertiser or the willing media participant.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
So uh, look up from your Christmas dinner for a second, because Steam is having a major security meltdown at the moment. It's the middle of Steam's big winter sale, which means a huge number of people are browsing, buying, and playing games right now on the platform. Some of them, however, seem to have tripped into a major security hole. A variety of users on Twitter, NeoGAF, and Reddit have noted that they can see other users' account information - including addresses and credit card data - instead of their own details. From what I can gather online, users would occasionally be logged into not just their own accounts, but also those of others, including being able to see their information. The general consensus seems to be that you couldn't actually abuse said credit card information (you only have the last two digits and you still need the security code to actually buy stuff), but people who use PayPal to pay on Steam might not be safe. Steam's store has been completely shut down, but you can still play online. Major security problem here, and it seems to be related to caching, although there's no official word on that. See? This is what I get for buying an Apple Watch. I upset the balance.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Netflix is working on a new video compression strategy, and they've published a very detailed blog post about it. We've spent years developing an approach, called per-title encoding, where we run analysis on an individual title to determine the optimal encoding recipe based on its complexity. Imagine having very involved action scenes that need more bits to encapsulate the information versus unchanging landscape scenes or animation that need less. This allows us to deliver the same or better experience while using less bandwidth, which will be particularly important in lower bandwidth countries and as we expand to places where video viewing often happens on mobile networks. The technical details go way over my head, but the basic premise seems to make sense to a layman such as I.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
It's the end of 2015, and one fact about the internet is quickly becoming clear this year: Americans' freedom to access the open internet is rapidly dissolving. Broadband access is declining, data caps are becoming commonplace, surveillance is increasing, and encryption is under attack. This is not merely my opinion. The evidence is everywhere; the walls are closing in from all sides. The net neutrality victory of early this year has rapidly been tempered by the fact that net neutrality doesn't matter if you don't have solid access to said 'net. A lot is going to depend on whatever president the American public elects next year. All Republicans are obviously off the table when it comes to an open and free internet, and Clinton, too, considers encryption a problem that needs to be addressed (i.e., broken, users be damned). I don't want to do any endorsements, but I think y'all can do the math. Make it happen, America.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Linux Mint 17.3 is the final Mint 17 release and should put to rest any worries about Mint's plan to stick with Ubuntu LTS releases for its base. Mint has done what it set up to do, namely improve the Cinnamon desktop to the point that it not only matches, but in many places far exceeds the user experience found in other options like GNOME, and especially, Unity. Indeed, it's hard to look at Mint 17.3 without comparing it to its upstream base. While Mint has been continually working hard on the desktop and cranking out release after release, Ubuntu has stagnated. If Ubuntu wants to leapfrog past some of its pain points, its developers would do well to look downstream. Mint's package management tools are simpler, more comprehensive, and easier to use than anything Ubuntu offers. Mint also manages to do all this without anything even remotely close to the resources Ubuntu enjoys.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Lumia 950 XL simply isn't for me or the vast majority of smartphone users out there. I use Windows 10 on a daily basis on a PC, but the experience on mobile is just lacking. Microsoft has done an excellent job on its apps for other platforms, and my iPhone home screen is full of them. The Lumia 950 XL needed something exciting and unique to convince me to switch back, but it failed. That might change if a rumored Surface Phone arrives next year, but right now it's the same old waiting game for Windows on phones. A year ago I was tired of waiting, and today nothing feels like it has changed. Windows 10 papers over the cracks, but unless developers buy into Microsoft's vision of universal apps then it won't change much. More and more high-profile apps are disappearing from Windows Phone, and the Lumia 950 XL won't help bring them back. When your flagship Windows Phone fails to entice even Microsoft enthusiasts, you know you've got serious problems. Love the money quote: "If you're someone that believes Windows Phone is dead, this is the casket you’d bury it in." Damn that's cold.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
On Thursday, tech giant Juniper Networks revealed in a startling announcement that it had found "unauthorized" code embedded in an operating system running on some of its firewalls. The code, which appears to have been in multiple versions of the company's ScreenOS software going back to at least August 2012, would have allowed attackers to take complete control of Juniper NetScreen firewalls running the affected software. It also would allow attackers, if they had ample resources and skills, to separately decrypt encrypted traffic running through the Virtual Private Network, or VPN, on the firewalls. [...] The security community is particularly alarmed because at least one of the backdoors appears to be the work of a sophisticated nation-state attacker. Merry Christmas, everybody.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Android is the most popular mobile OS on the planet, and Google has brought the OS to cars, watches, and televisions. And, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Google will soon be bringing Android to yet another form factor: desktop and laptop computers. Re-architecting Android for a mouse and keyboard is going to require major changes to the smartphone operating system, but Android is actually much farther along that path today than most people realize. It really is - but there's a definitive oddness about it, though. In any event, Google has already confirmed it's working on bringing multiwindow to Android, and if the company is really serious about putting Android on actual laptops and desktops, it's going to have to be more than just the kind of My First Multitasking Windows 8's Metro had (implemented 1:1 in iOS 9). It's going to have to be the real deal, with windows that can be moved around, resized, stacked, etc. - all the kinds of things you'd expect from any other desktop operating system. I think the biggest problem they're going to run into is the black bar at the bottom of the screen, housing the back/home/windows button. Unless they can come up with a way to logically let the back button handle multiple activity stacks, I would suggest getting rid of the bar entirely, or just converting it into an all-out taskbar. They obviously can't have that black bar on 23" desktop displays or whatever. Android 7 is going to be very interesting!

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Now, it is my pleasure to share you really good news: we're back from the death valley! We have just finished our latest financing round and secured solid new financing to the company. This investment enables the continuation of Sailfish OS development, the community activities and other company operations. It’s clear that this recent struggle hit us hard and left some battle wounds but most importantly this means that the development and life of Sailfish OS will continue strong. This alone is worth a celebration! Whether this is just a stay or an actual solution remains to be seen, but I'm skeptical.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Choice. After all the software improvements, promotional offers and good intentions, 'choice' is the big factor Microsoft forgot to consider with Windows 10. Falling adoption rates have seen the company's initial smugness evolve into incredulity and increasingly dirty tactics and now Microsoft appears to have forgotten about respecting choice entirely because life for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users is about to get a lot worse... Over the last week Microsoft has begun to roll out a combination of highly questionable changes to the billion+ users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 and these efforts will intensify into early 2016. Much like Apple's recent sleazy tactics of shoving ads into every corner of its operating system to try and suck you deeper and deeper into their labyrinth of lock-in products and services, Microsoft is trying very hard to forcefully push its users to upgrade to Windows 10 - and it's not eschewing any tactics, no matter how dirty. The development of operating systems seems to have stagnated considerably, meaning new operating system releases don't really contain any standout features that draw large masses of users to upgrade. In addition, the differences between the operating systems are pretty moot (especially OS X vs. Windows or iOS vs. Android) these days, and there's really no clear benefit choosing one over the other. It should be no surprise, then, that operating system peddlers are exploring other tactics to retain your business.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
At the end of 2000 I watched some GEOS-pages and asked myself, why not making such a system on CPC, too. Most CPCs have 128K (most C64 only have 64K), a screen-resolution of 320x200 with 4 colours (C64 only has 2 colours for each 8x8 area in 320x200) and some more advantages. So the idea of the SymbOS-Project was born. SymbOS stands for "SYmbiosis Multitasking Based Operating System". SymbOS should become a demonstration, what could be possible on CPC since the last 20 years. I want to give everything to SymbOS what a modern OS needs. Real preemptive Multitasking, a dynamic memory-management for up to 576K and more and a totaly MS-Windows-like GUI are the three most important things. Impressive project, and lovely retro '90s website.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
AMD's position in the graphics market continues to be a tricky one. Although the company has important design wins in the console space - both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are built around AMD CPUs with integrated AMD GPUs - its position in the PC space is a little more precarious. Nvidia currently has the outright performance lead, and perhaps more problematically, many games are to a greater or lesser extent optimized for Nvidia GPUs. One of the chief culprits here is Nvidia's GameWorks software, a proprietary library of useful tools for game development - things like realistic hair and shadows, and physics processing for destructible environments - that is optimized for Nvidia's cards. When GameWorks games are played on AMD systems, they can often do so with reduced performance or graphical quality. To combat this, AMD is today announcing GPUOpen, a comparable set of tools to GameWorks. As the name would suggest, however, there's a key difference between GPUOpen and GameWorks: GPUOpen will, when it is published in January, be open source. AMD will use the permissive MIT license, allowing GPUOpen code to be used without any practical restriction in both open and closed source applications, and will publish all code on GitHub. Great move by AMD, and definitely a step up from Nvidia's questionable closed tactics that only seem to harm users. HotHardware has more information on AMD's extensive plans.

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