posted 24 days ago on OSNews
Lenovo created a stir when it said the Yoga 900 and 900S hybrids would work only with Windows, not Linux. The company has now changed its stance, bringing Linux support to those PCs. The PC maker earlier this month issued a BIOS update so Linux can be loaded on Yoga 900, 900S and IdeaPad 710 models. The BIOS update adds an AHCI (Advance Host Controller Interface) SATA controller mode so users can load Linux on the laptops. This is a Linux-only BIOS, meaning it should be used only by those who want to load the OS. If you want to continue with Windows, do not load the firmware. "This BIOS is not intended to be used on machines running Windows operating systems," Lenovo said. Still not an ideal solution, but at least they're listening.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
If you've ever been to mainland China, chances are you're familiar with the Great Firewall, the country's all-encompassing internet censorship apparatus. You know the despair of not being able to open Facebook, the pain of going mute on Twitter. But with a good VPN, you can magic many of these inconveniences away - at least temporarily. For software developers based in China, however, it's not that simple. You're not just censored from certain websites. Basic building blocks that you use for product development are suddenly beyond your reach. With software services and libraries spread across the globe, China's internet sovereignty can be a real pain in the ass. Something I've never really put much thought into.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
We have a theory: "Android Extensions" is a plan to bring the easily updatable app model to the AOSP APIs. Like Google Play Services, we think this app will be a bundle of API shims that Google can update whenever it wants. The difference is that everything in Play Services is a closed-source Google API, while "Android Extensions" would be collections of fresh AOSP code delivered directly to your device via the Play Store. The CDD's stipulation that OEMs "MUST preload the AOSP implementation" is telling. It says that 1) this is AOSP code, and 2) OEMs aren't allowed to "customize" it. If Ars' assumptions are correct, this looks like a decent step forward - assuming it pans out, of course. Clever, too.

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posted 25 days ago on OSNews
But we know there are millions of older cars on the road that are not compatible with Android Auto, and many don't have a screen at all. We wanted to bring the same connected experience to these drivers too. So today we're excited to introduce a whole new way to use Android Auto: right on your phone screen! This update allows anyone with an Android phone (running 5.0 or later) to use a driver friendly interface to access the key stuff you need on the road - directions, music, communications - without the distraction of things that aren't essential while driving. It's not the UI of a phone that causes the distraction; it's the act of communicating with people not in your car that causes the distraction. Don't use messaging or calling applications while driving. You are a danger to others and yourself, no matter how hard people always protest that "it doesn't apply to them". You can slap large touch targets on a dangerous activity, like Apple and Google do, but that doesn't make it any less inherently and deeply dangerous. You are toying with lives.

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posted 25 days ago on OSNews
A few weeks ago I noticed some foreign exchange students at my university who were huddled around a Panasonic laptop. This wasn't one of the Toughbook models that are sold in the US, but a newer Japanese model. Seeing this rare laptop out in the wild combined with the recent wailing and gnashing of teeth concerning the MacBook Pro piqued my interest in the current Japanese PC market. It really feels like the Japanese electronics industry lost most of its appeal and cachet, with the sector now being lead by American and Chinese companies. I love the design of the Panasonic laptop, though.

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posted 26 days ago on OSNews
Vlad Savov, the tech reporter with the most awesome name in the industry, hits some nails on their heads: Many of us have been talking our way around this issue for the past week without directly confronting it, so I feel like now's as good a time to address it as any: Apple's new MacBook Pro laptops are not designed for professional use. This should come as no surprise to those who've long perceived the Mac platform as inward-looking, limited in compatibility, and generally worse value for money than comparable Windows alternatives. Pros are smart with their tools and their money, after all. But the change with Apple's 2016 generation of MacBook Pros is that those downsides have been amped up - more expensive and less compatible than ever before - to an extreme that exposes the fallacy of the continued use of the Pro moniker. These are Apple's premium laptops, its deluxe devices, but not in any meaningful way computers tailored for the pros. A MacBook Pro is now simply what you buy if you're in the Apple ecosystem and have a higher budget and expectations than the MacBook can fulfill. Basically exactly what I said last week.

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posted 26 days ago on OSNews
Of course, it only works if you have other people to play with. A few gamers who bought Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare through the digital storefront built into Windows 10 have discovered they can only play with other gamers who also bought the game from Microsoft. Xbox One players can only play with other Xbox One players, and PlayStation 4 players can only play with other PlayStation 4 players. This has always been the case. The trouble is that this time not all PC players can play with other PC players. For unknown reasons, Windows 10 Store customers are segregated from customers who bought the game from Steam, which is by far the most popular platform on PC. That's like buying a game from Target and learning you can't play with people who bought it from Best Buy. Call of Duty fans who made the unfortunate of mistake of giving Microsoft their cash are left sitting in lonely multiplayer lobbies waiting for games that'll never start. However, it appears that Microsoft is giving out refunds. Only two people were looking for a multiplayer game.

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posted 28 days ago on OSNews
H.264 is a video compression codec standard. It is ubiquitous - internet video, Blu-ray, phones, security cameras, drones, everything. Everything uses H.264 now. H.264 is a remarkable piece of technology. It is the result of 30+ years of work with one single goal: To reduce the bandwidth required for transmission of full-motion video. Technically, it is very interesting. This post will give insight into some of the details at a high level - I hope to not bore you too much with the intricacies. Also note that many of the concepts explained here apply to video compression in general, and not just H.264.

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posted 28 days ago on OSNews
First up, a bit of clarification. By general purpose OS I'm referring to what most people use for server workloads today - be it RHEL or variants like CentOS or Fedora, or Debian and derivatives like Ubuntu. We'll include Arch, the various BSD and opensolaris flavours and Windows too. By end I don't literally mean they go away or stop being useful. My hypothosis is that, slowly to begin with then more quickly, they cease to be the default we reach for when launching new services. So note that this isn't about desktop workloads, but server workloads.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
One of the biggest community and customer benefits of UUP is the reduction you'll see in download size on PCs. We have converged technologies in our build and publishing systems to enable differential downloads for all devices built on the Mobile and PC OS. A differential download package contains only the changes that have been made since the last time you updated your device, rather than a full build. As we rollout UUP, this will eventually be impactful for PCs where users can expect their download size to decrease by approximately 35% when going from one major update of Windows to another. We're working on this now with the goal of supporting this for feature updates after the Windows 10 Creators Update; Insiders will see this sooner. Not earth-shattering or anything, but still a nice improvement.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Plasma Mobile aims to become a complete and open software system for mobile devices. It is designed to give privacy-aware users back the full-control over their information and communication. Plasma Mobile takes a pragmatic approach and is inclusive to 3rd party software, allowing the user to choose which applications and services to use. It provides a seamless experience across multiple devices. Plasma Mobile implements open standards and it is developed in a transparent process that is open for the community to participate in. Great presentation on the website, but the product itself clearly has a long way to go. You can try it out on a Nexus 5 or a OnePlus One.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Based on VS1063 chip, it can playback many music formats in full 16-bit 48Khz audio and additionally mix with the Amiga's native Paula sound. When it is decoding and playing back a MPEGA audio file or various other formats, it frees up the Amiga to do other things. An MHI driver is supplied with the card for AmigaAmp and other various music playing software. I'm continually amazed by the Amiga community.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The first reviews of the new MacBook Pro are in. Note that this only concerns the base 13"model, which does not come with the new Touch Bar. The Verge concludes: While the display, build quality, and looks of the new MacBook Pro are beyond reproach, they're no longer beyond the competition. Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga has a spectacular OLED display. Dell's XPS 13 has great battery life and design. HP's EliteBook Folio has a hinge that folds out to a full 180 degrees, whereas Apple s laptops have always been limited to opening to a little bit beyond vertical. Razer's Blade Stealth has a 4K touchscreen, Thunderbolt 3, and the latest seventh-gen Intel processors, whereas Apple is still using sixth-gen chips. Why does any of that matter? It matters because this new MacBook Pro's compromises are large enough to make me, a loyal and satisfied MacBook user for seven years, look outside the cozy confines of Apple's ecosystem. Apple has built a beautiful computer with all the upgrades I wanted, but it's taken away things that I actually need, and now I'm looking elsewhere. And Ars Technica: Putting aside larger concerns about Apple's stewardship of the Mac as a hardware and software platform, the new MacBook Pro is a very solid design that should serve Apple well over the next few years. Some pros will claim that it isn't "pro" enough, but the 13-inch models have always served as more of a bridge between the consumer MacBooks and MacBook Airs on the low end and the 15-inch Pros and the desktop lineup on the high end. They've never been particularly "pro."

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
In a few hours of testing, I haven't seen any noticeable problems with the graphic or sound recreation on the NES Classic Edition. Even the flickering and slowdown issues that were a forced part of that original NES game design seem to be captured accurately. Colors are rendered brightly and accurately (unlike similar NES emulation on the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS), with big, sharp pixels by default. So far, I'm really enjoying the CRT filter, which adds a pleasant fuzziness to the edges of the sprites without being distracting. Sounds like a winner. Too bad the device doesn't include the ability to install additional games.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Never have I wanted a computer as much as the Sony VAIO P. Never have I been so wrong. Sony introduced the VAIO P at CES 2009, the height of the netbook boom, and its stunning design soared high above all competitors racing to the bottom. Look at your laptop; now imagine that the bottom half was nothing but the keyboard, and the top half was dominated by an ultrawide high-resolution screen. That's the VAIO P. It is screamingly beautiful even today. If I could wave a magic wand and bring just one dead form factor back to life, it would be the small, (almost-)pocket clamshell. I have a Psion Series 3, and its size, shape, and keyboard would, in a modern incarnation running, say, Android, be a great, much more capable alternative to a modern tablet. Sure, you can lug around an unwieldy external Bluetooth keyboard, but I'd much rather have an integrated, clamshell solution. Too bad nobody else would buy it.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Did you buy the new MacBook or MacBook Pro? Maybe the Google Pixel? You're about to enter a world of confusion thanks to those new USB-C" ports. See, that simple-looking port hides a world of complexity, and the (thankful) backward-compatibility uses different kinds of cables for different tasks. Shoppers have to be very careful to buy exactly the right cable for their devices! Welcome to the dongle.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Minoca OS, which we talked about this past May, has gone open source. Today we're thrilled to announce that Minoca OS has gone open source. We are releasing the entirety of the Minoca OS source code under the GNU GPLv3. We're excited to build a community of users and developers around this new operating system, and we need help. You can check out the source at https://github.com/minoca/os. Here's a refresher on what Minoca OS is: Minoca OS is a general purpose operating system written completely from the ground up. It's intended for devices looking to conserve power, memory, and storage. It aims to be lean, maintainable, modular, and compatible with existing software.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Redox, a Unix-like operating system written in Rust, recently rewrote its kernel: Since August 13, the kernel is going through a complete rewrite, which makes the kernel space ultra-small (about the size of L4). Everything which can run outside the kernel in practice, will do so. It is almost complete and will likely be merged in the coming week. The reasons cited for the rewrite include are memory management, concurrent design, SMP support, and 64-bit by default.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Since I'm sure some of you are already angrily typing comments about my claim that the new MacBook Pros aren't designed for professionals at all - on purpose! - but for affluent regular consumers, here's Mac developer Michael Tsai's summary of the community's responses to the new MacBook Pros. I was really disappointed with today's Apple event. It seems like Apple has either lost its way, that it has lost touch with what (some of) its customers want, or that it simply doesn't care about those customers. Developers are a captive audience, and creative professionals can switch to Windows, I guess. Apple no longer considers them core. There's nothing particularly wrong with what Apple announced. I like Thunderbolt 3. The display looks good. I'm not crazy about Touch Bar, but it does seem potentially useful. The problem is that the MacBook Pro is not a true Pro notebook. I really think this line is the core reason why the Mac is being neglected: It has seemed clear for a while that the CEO doesn't really understand the Mac, or simply doesn't like it that much, and that's a problem for those of us who do. Ding, ding, ding.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Although I can't switch wholesale just yet, I see no real reason why I can't use Elementary for around 80% of the stuff I do - probably even more with a few adjustments on my part. And that, in and by itself, should tell you how much Apple has dropped the ball here. The endless stream of articles and tweets from longtime Apple users now looking elsewhere is staggering.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
It's strange - there's nothing actually wrong with what Apple announced: USB-C on the Mac is great, a thinner, more powerful machine is intriguing and, while it's too early to say, the Touch Bar could possibly be a gimmick, but it could be useful for helping people discover what shortcuts exist as they use the computer. The thing is, I can't figure out who this is for other than those who are on really old machines. Myself, and everyone else, seems to be wondering what, exactly, is the selling point of this upgrade. That's because unlike what the name of the product implies, the new MacBook Pros aren't intended for professionals at all. They are really expensive consumer laptops. Once you learn to accept that Apple is no longer interested in its traditional professional segment of the market, everything starts falling into place. iOS devices at the lower price point, MacBook Pro and possible upcoming iMacs at the higher price point. Suddenly, the Mac falls into place.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
From MacRumors: In a series of tweets sent out last night, and now in an interview with The Verge, developer Steven Troughton-Smith has detailed the inner workings of the MacBook Pro's new retina Touch Bar, describing its T1 chip as "a variant of the system-on-a-chip used in the Apple Watch." This means that the Touch Bar is essentially running watchOS on the T1 chip, which macOS then communicates with through an interconnected USB bridge that "relays multitouch events back to macOS." The developer described this software setup as advantageous for the MacBook Pro's security, since the T1 chip also acts as a layer of protection and "gates access" to the laptop's FaceTime camera and Touch ID sensor. In the series of Tweets he sent out last night, Troughton-Smith also theorized that watchOS could power the Touch Bar alone without relying on macOS to be running on the MacBook Pro, which Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi has now confirmed. You can theorise about the future here. Now that Apple has put an ARM iOS-like device inside every MacBook Pro, you can imagine a future wherein said iOS device takes over more and more functionality from the traditional x86 macOS device, up to a point where macOS only gets called upon when needed. We may actually have just been given a hint of Apple's transition-to-ARM strategy.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
With the final major capability for BPF tracing (timed sampling) merging in Linux 4.9-rc1, the Linux kernel now has raw capabilities similar to those provided by DTrace, the advanced tracer from Solaris. As a long time DTrace user and expert, this is an exciting milestone! On Linux, you can now analyze the performance of applications and the kernel using production-safe low-overhead custom tracing, with latency histograms, frequency counts, and more.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Apple today announced the all-new MacBook Pro, confirming that the new computer will come in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, in both Silver and Space Gray color options. The MacBooks are thinner and lighter than their previous generations, come with a Trackpad that's larger than the ones on the previous MacBooks, and have a redesigned keyboard for better typing. Apple calls it "the most powerful MacBook Pro ever," and the 13-inch model features a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage. The 15-inch version has a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, 16GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage. Both computers reach "up to 2.3 times the graphics performance" of the previous generation. Summary. No new iMacs (more than one year since last update), no new Mac Mini (two years since last update), no new Mac Pro (three years since last update). Apple totally cares about the Mac, folks.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft held a Windows and Surface event today, and among a number of announcements, the star of the show was the Surface Studio, a downright beautiful all-in-one designed entirely for creative professionals. The huge 28" 4500x3000 3:2 aspect ration display with Adobe sRGB and DCI-P can be tilted downwards to turn the Studio into a huge drawing surface. As the product video demonstrates, this is not a device for the average user, or even for every power user - every aspect of it seems to be designed specifically for designers, graphics artists, possibly video editors, and people of similar profession. I love the Surface Dial, which can be used both on the display and on a desk to control context-specific actions, like changing the colour output of your drawing tool or select thickness of the output, and countless other things. It's got a sxith generation Core i5 or i7, a GTX 965M 2GB (Core i5) or GTX 980M 4GB (Core i7) graphics chip, up to 32GB of RAM, and the usual array of ports and connections. This is clearly a niche device, and the price underlines that: the Surface Studio starts at a whopping $2999. Which is quite a lot, especially taking the video chip into account. Penny Arcade's artist Mike "Gabe" Krahulik has been using a Surface Studio for the past week, and posted his thoughts on his blog. When I first saw the device months ago in that secret room at MS, they asked me what I thought. I said, "Well I have no idea if anyone else will want it, but you have made my dream computer." I recognize that not everyone needs or wants a computer they can draw on. Some people do though and I will tell you that the Surface Studio is without a doubt the best digital drawing experience I have ever tried. I was trying to help Tycho understand why the Studio was so exciting. I spend 6 to 10 hours a day drawing digitally and I have for more than a decade. The Cintiq and the Surface, these are like my tools or my instruments. I am intimately familiar with how it feels to create things on these sorts of devices and the Studio honestly feels like a generational leap forward. If you are a digital artist and you are currently working on a Cintiq you have to go to a MS store and look at the Studio. I've always given you my honest take on this stuff and this time is no different even though I can't think of anything bad to say. If you draw on computers the Surface Studio is something very special. Following Twitter during the unveiling of the Surface Studio was an entirely surreal experience, with a ton of genuine excitement over the product - something I haven't seen in a long, long time in this jaded industry. Specifically remarkable, though, was the response from the Apple and Mac/iOS developer and creative professional community - an endless stream of harsh jabs and words directed at Apple for so blatantly ignoring the creative professional community for years now, while Microsoft seems to be making a power play to win their hearts. It was quite the jarring experience. The general consensus seems to be that Apple really needs to bring more to the table tomorrow than some updated internals and a SideShow ripoff to reconquer the hearts of the creative professionals it seemingly has abandoned.

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