posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
In 1999, armed with a brand new copy of Metrowerks Codewarrior and a PowerMac running Mac OS 8.5.1, I wrote a basic implementation of Minesweeper to test out the Powerplant application development environment. It's the oldest project of mine that I've kept, so I wanted to see if I could get it running again for the first time in 17 years. There's no Swift or Objective-C code in this article but there are disk-eating koalas, deliberately misspelled cities, Zernike polynomials, Cocoa software (but not the Cocoa you're thinking of), resource forks, master pointer blocks and in the end, I finally earn the admiration of my family. Great, entertaining story, you learn something, and it mentions BeOS. I can't think of anything that would make this story even more likely to get posted on OSNews.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Nintendo Switch will be released March 3 worldwide for $299, Nintendo announced today during a press briefing in Tokyo. Nintendo will sell the Switch for 29,980 yen in Japan. In Europe, the price will vary by retailer. The Switch will be available in two configurations: one with gray Joy-Con controllers, and the other with neon red and blue Joy-Con devices. Otherwise, the hardware will be the same: 32 GB of internal storage with a 720p touchscreen. I'm somewhat curious about the hardware, somewhat interested in the new Zelda they showed off, but I'm appalled at the pricing in Europe (you'll be plonking down around €400 for the console and a game), and disappointed in the weak launch line-up and pretty meagre collection of games they showed off for the coming year. The Mario and Zelda franchises have basically become like Call of Duty - every year, we get pots, remakes, of a new game with a few new mechanics, and that's it. There's nothing wrong with that - if people enjoy them, they enjoy them, and that's great - but I feel like Nintendo could be doing so much more than this.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
As some of you may undoubtedly know, I'm a bit of a sucker for Palm OS. These past few years, I've been busy collecting ROMs for the Palm OS emulator and simulator, making sure I have all the major Palm OS releases covered. There's really not much of a reason to do this - I have working devices which are a much better option than the emulators/simulators in most cases - other than to have a complete collection I can keep around forever. Perfection needs little evolution. From top left to bottom right, you're looking at Palm OS 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 5.3 (a Palm Zire ROM), 5.4.9 (the last released version of Palm OS available on real devices), and Palm OS 6.1.0 Cobalt (the last version of Palm OS; no 6.x device has ever been released). This is a pretty complete collection, and while it doesn't contain every released version of Palm OS, it covers the most important ones, and provides a great overview of the development of the operating system. One important version is actually missing from this screenshot: Palm OS 5.5, whose official name is actually Garnet OS 5.5. Garnet OS 5.5 was developed by ACCESS (current owner of Palm OS and the associated IP), but was never released on or for devices - its sole function was to serve as the operating system running inside the Garnet VM. Garnet VM was a virtual machine developed to allow Palm OS applications to run on the ACCESS Linux Platform, a Linux-based mobile operating system that never gained any traction; no ALP devices were ever released. As some of you may remember, Garnet VM was also released for Nokia's Maemo. I have a Nokia N900 (maybe even two) that can run Garnet VM, and while it's no longer available from ACCESS itself, it's easy to find all around the web if you know where to look. I'm not sure if my N900 is properly set up (I think it is), but it would be trivial for me to install Garnet VM on it and play with it. So, between my Palm/CLIÉ devices and all these emulators/simulators, every major Palm OS version seems covered, right? Well, no - not entirely. There's quite a few exotic devices, such as the AlphaSmart Dana, the TapWave Zodiac, or the Fossil Palm OS smartwatch, but those are disproportionately hard to come by. Setting those aside, I thought I had all my bases covered. Turns out - as is so often the case - I was wrong. On Twitter, q3hardcore asked "do you have this?" As it turns out, and entirely unbeknownst to me, ACCESS actually released the Garnet VM for Linux and Windows. After coming to the conclusion that this piece of software was entirely impossible to find online (try it), q3hardcore came to the rescue once again, and uploaded his copy of the package online. Questionable legality aside, I didn't have to think twice. The purpose of the Garnet VM for Linux and Windows was to allow Palm OS application developers to test their Palm OS applications to see if they would run on the Garnet VM included in the ACCESS Linux Platform, and make changes if needed. This Garnet VM is an amazing piece of technology. It's the Palm OS userland - version 5.5.0 - running on a Linux kernel running on an ARM emulator running on Windows or Linux. The ARM emulator in question is called Janeiro, and it emulates a Zylonite (PXA320) development board, revision B1. As it boots up, there's zero indication that it's running a Linux kernel - the X 'cross' appears briefly (at least, it looks like the X cross), but that's it. The major difference between the Garnet VM and the Palm OS 5.x and 6.x simulators is that while the simulators run x86 Palm OS, Garnet VM runs an ARM Palm OS userland atop an ARM Linux kernel. This means - at least, in theory - that ARM Palm OS applications should run decently well on Garnet VM, something you can't do with the Palm OS simulator, because they would need to be recompiled to x86. I say 'in theory', because the Garnet VM documentation notes that not all Palm OS libraries and components are present, and that only "well-behaved" applications are compatible. I've only had access to the Garnet VM for Windows for a short while, and I haven't yet had the time to really dive into it. For instance, I've yet to figure out how to get applications to run inside the VM, since the usual methods don't seem to want to cooperate. I'll spend some more of my free time on playing with it over the coming weeks to better figure out how it all works. In any event, the Garnet VM for Windows and Linux is a unique piece of computing history, and I am absolutely delighted to be able to add it to my collection of Palm OS memorabilia. I've briefly considered zipping up all the emulators, simulators, and ROMs I have into a nice preconfigured, documented package for people to play with, but that's not something I can do for obvious copyright, trademark, and patent reasons. Most of this stuff isn't particularly hard to find, but it does require a bit of Palm experience to put it all together and document it. I don't think I'll ever get permission from ACCESS, so that's the end of that idea. Still, I think it's important that I continue to collect these Palm OS ROMs and emulators/simulators, because as the years go by, more and more Palm devices will start to break down or get lost, leaving us without to ability to experience this amazingly lovable operating system. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
A year ago, we set out to explore what web browsers might look like in years to come. Now, you can try Opera Neon - a concept browser that gives you a glimpse into the future of desktop browsers. A little too quirky for my tastes, but hats off to Opera for trying out new approaches -browsers feel dead and lifeless at the moment.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
I don't think we'll ever see Half-Life 2: Episode 3, and the cliffhanger conclusion makes Half-Life 3 unlikely as well. The best chance of Half-Life getting a second wind will likely come if J. J. Abrams and Bad Robot can get the Half-Life film to screen. If that comes to fruition, and it doesn't bomb like almost every game movie before it, maybe, just maybe there's a chance of Gordon Freeman’s story continuing. Roll your eyes at the movie mention if you want, but how else will this franchise get a pulse again? The interview you are about to read sheds some insight into how Valve works as a developer. Yes, someone at Valve could just say, "Let's make another Half-Life" and do it, but there are huge risks and hurdles involved in doing that. Prior to this interview, I was in the camp of, "Valve just doesn't get it." Now I'm in the camp of, "Valve is probably doing the right thing, but it's disappointing." This interview opened my eyes to Valve's unique way of developing games, but also provided a bit of closure for someone who wants to see Half-Life continue. In the days before publishing this story, I reached out to Valve one last time for comment, but my request went unanswered. Without further delay, here's the interview. This is a must-read.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
That's where the company's new software tool Qbsolv comes in. Qbsolv is designed to help developers program D-Wave machines without needing a background in quantum physics. A few of D-Wave's partners are already using the tool, but today the company released Qbsolv as open source, meaning anyone will be able to freely share and modify the software. "Not everyone in the computer science community realizes the potential impact of quantum computing," says Fred Glover, a mathematician at the University of Colorado, Boulder who has been working with Qbsolv. "Qbsolv offers a tool that can make this impact graphically visible, by getting researchers and practitioners involved in charting the future directions of quantum computing developments."

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
VentureBeat has a great, in-depth sourced look at the rise of and fall of Ara, Google's modular phone project. One paragraph in particular stands out to me. "One of the modules that we were working on was basically like a tiny aquarium for your phone," said the source. "It was a little tiny biome that would go inside of a module and it would have a microscope on the bottom part, and it would have live tardigrades and algae - some people call them water bears. They are the tiniest living organism. We had this idea to build a tardigrade module and we'd build a microscope with it. So you'd have this app on your phone and you could essentially look at the tardigrades up close and watch them floating around." Brooklyn-based art, design, and technology agency Midnight Commercial conceived the idea, and was commissioned by Google to build it, demonstrating the depth of what developers could create. If the people working on Ara had the guts to come up with and actually build things like this, they were on the right track. This is exactly the kind of crazy, outlandish stuff that would be a perfect fit and marketing gimmick for a crazy, outlandish product like Ara. I am incredibly sad that Ara has been cancelled. I realise full well it would never be the kind of massive product like the Galaxy series or the iPhone, but I don't care - I just really, really like the idea, the concept, and the possibilities, mass appeal be damned.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The beauty of the internet: there's always someone else who is also interested in the things you're interested in. It turns out, even people who are working on trying to bring Mac OS 9 to the PowerPC G5 can find each other online. Now, it's important to note that even the people themselves acknowledge that this project is a very, very long shot and unlikely to succeed - but that doesn't mean it isn't worth trying and learning something along the way. This project (we call it "CountDown G5") is ambitious, sure, and unlikely to succeed. But a few things make it worthwhile: I am learning a lot about low-level kernel programming, which I find fascinating as a hobby. We are crafting a build system in MPW, inspired by that source leak, for very low-level assembly and linking of a NewWorld ROM. This will be useful to other hackers in the future. We have an intermediate goal of increasing the usable logical address space on OS 9 to near the 2 GB hardware limit. The G5 isn't all that different. It has facilities for running 32-bit OSes, and early G5s thankfully left the Block Allocation Table mechanism intact. Be sure to follow the thread on the forum if you're interested in this type of exotic hacking. Meanwhile, also definitely 100% be sure to follow Steven Troughton-Smith, who, over the past few days, has been doing an absolutely crazy amount of work on things that go far beyond my comfort zone (he pointed the above thread out to me just now). He's been investigating all the work the Qemu people have been doing on PowerPC emulation, and he's trying to get all the early and often exotic Mac OS X builds to boot on Qemu. This includes things like altering and recompiling BootX, diving deep into Open Firmware to remove a number of 'fixes' put in place that prevented early OS X versions from booting, and tons of other things.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Jehanne is a new distributed operating system designed for programmers. The core values that lead the development are simplicity and security. Jehanne is a fork of Harvey (which in turn is a fork of Plan 9 from Bell Labs merged with Nix's kernel sources) but diverges from the design and conventions of its ancestors whenever they are at odds with its goals. Read about development progress made in 2016.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Today we are excited to be releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 15002 for PC to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring. This is a BIG update so please take time to look through all of the new changes we detail below. Usually, these new Windows 10 Insider Preview builds are a pretty low-key affair, but this one has a ton of changes, new features and fixes, and the blog post does a good job of summarising them. They cover things like improving resizing performance, various Edge updates, tile folders in the Start menu, a new share UI, and the first steps towards replacing the dreaded Character Map with a new, faster way of inputting special characters. It really feels like Microsoft is at the point where they can address the various relatively minor things that start adding up when you use Windows.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Rux's goal is to become a safe general-purpose microkernel. It tries to take advantage of Rust's memory model - ownership and lifetime. While the kernel will be small, unsafe code should be kept minimal. This makes updating functionalities of the kernel hassle-free. Rux uses a design that is similar to seL4. While there won't be formal verification in the short term, it tries to address some design issues of seL4, for example, capability allocation. The code is very approachable for anyone interested in capability-based microkernel design.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Robigalia is a project with two goals: Build a robust Rust ecosystem around seL4 2. Create a highly reliable persistent capability OS, continuing the heritage of EROS and Coyotos The year-in-review blogpost has a nice overview of where the project stands.

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posted about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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 about 1 month 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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