posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Ben Eater has built his own 8-bit computer, and documented the process. I built a programmable 8-bit computer from scratch on breadboards using only simple logic gates. I documented the whole project in a series of YouTube videos and on this web site.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
China appears to have received help on Saturday from an unlikely source in its fight against tools that help users evade its Great Firewall of internet censorship: Apple. Software made by foreign companies to help users skirt the country's system of internet filters has vanished from Apple's app store on the mainland. Profit over people is entirely normal for large corporations like Apple. They rarely choose the other way around.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
So far all the products launched with Zen have aimed at the upper echelons of the PC market, covering mainstream, enthusiasts and enterprise customers - areas with high average selling prices to which a significant number of column inches are written. But the volume segment, key for metrics such as market share, are in the entry level products. So far the AMD Zen core, and the octo-core Zeppelin silicon design, has been battling on the high-end. With Ryzen 3, it comes to play in the budget market. AnandTech's review and benchmarks of the new low-end Ryzen 3 processors.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
In the last year while talking to respected security-focused engineers & developers, I've come to fully appreciate Google's Chrome OS design. The architecture benefited from a modern view of threat modeling and real-world attacks. For example, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) hardware chips are built into every Chromebook and deeply incorporated into the OS. The design documents go into some detail on the specific protections that TPM provides, particularly around critical encryption functions. I also learned that Chromebook is the daily driver for many of Google's own senior developers and security engineers. In short, the combination of the underlying Chromebook hardware with the OS architecture makes for a pretty compelling secure development environment. [...] It's pretty neat to consider the possibility of pre-travel "power washing" (resetting everything clean to factory settings) on an inexpensive Chromebook and later securely restore over the air once at my destination. Since there is a wide range in Chromebook prices, the engineering challenge here was to find something powerful enough to comfortably use exclusively for several days of coding, writing, and presenting, but also cheap enough that should it get lost/stolen/damaged, I wouldn't lose too much sleep. The threat model here does not include recovery from physical tampering; if the machine were somehow confiscated or otherwise out of my custody, I could treat it as a burner and move on. Interesting guide on how to turn an inexpensive Chromebook into a burner developer device safe for international travel.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
After almost 8 years (we talked about it, of course), a new version of the GNUSTEP live CD has been released - version 2.5, for amd64. The live CD is based on Debian 9, has low hardware requirements, and uses Linux 4.9 with compressed RAM and no systemd. The live CD is a very easy and non-destructive way of testing out and playing with GNUSTEP, a free software implementation of OPENSTEP. It's been a long, long time since I got to use our glorious *STEP database category. Isn't that one beautiful icon?

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
FreeBSD 11.1 has been released, and as you vans tell by the version number, it's a point release. The release announcement, release notes, and errata are available for your perusal. FreeBSD users already know full well how to upgrade - they're probably already running it - and newcomers can go to the download page to download the proper ISO.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Today, Adobe announced that Flash will no longer be supported after 2020. Microsoft will phase out support for Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer ahead of this date. Flash led the way on the web for rich content, gaming, animations, and media of all kinds, and inspired many of the current web standards powering HTML5. Adobe has partnered with Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Apple, and many others, to ensure that the open web could meet and exceed the experiences that Flash has traditionally provided. HTML5 standards, implemented across all modern browsers, provide these capabilities with improved performance, battery life, and increased security. We look forward to continuing to work with Adobe and our industry partners on enriching the open web without the need for plug-ins. We will phase out Flash from Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, culminating in the removal of Flash from Windows entirely by the end of 2020. Adobe's own announcement is coughing up HTTP 500 errors right now; hence the link to Microsoft's announcement. You can also read Apple's/WebKit's announcement, and the one from Chrome/Google.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
A new version of the MaXX Desktop hasbeen released. We linked to the project almost two months ago, but the short of it is that it is a continuation of 5dwm.org and intends to bring the IRIX desktop to Linux. New features in this release include new xterm-330 with support for UTF-8 characters, SGI color schemes for GTK applications, a new console, new configuration files, SGI demos, as well as other small fixes. And I'll keep putting these in the otherwise entirely useless and defunct SGI database category.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Michael Lauer, employee #2 at OpenMoko, has written a detailed article about the project and its eventual demise. For the 10th anniversary since the legendary OpenMoko announcement at the "Open Source in Mobile" (7th of November 2006 in Amsterdam), I've been meaning to write an anthology or - as Paul Fertser suggested on #openmoko-cdevel - an obituary. I've been thinking about objectively describing the motivation, the momentum, how it all began and - sadly - ended. I did even plan to include interviews with Sean, Harald, Werner, and some of the other veterans. But as with oh so many projects of (too) wide scope this would probably never be completed. As November 2016 passed without any progress, I decided to do something different instead. Something way more limited in scope, but something I can actually finish. My subjective view of the project, my participation, and what I think is left behind: My story, as OpenMoko employee #2. On top of that you will see a bunch of previously unreleased photos (bear with me, I'm not a good photographer and the camera sucked as well). Mr. Lauer ends the article on a sad but entirely true note: Right now my main occupation is writing software for Apple's platforms - and while it's nice to work on apps using a massive set of luxury frameworks and APIs, you're locked and sandboxed within the software layers Apple allows you. I'd love to be able to work on an open source Linux-based middleware again. However, the sad truth is that it looks like there is no business case anymore for a truly open platform based on custom-designed hardware, since people refuse to spend extra money for tweakability, freedom, and security. Despite us living in times where privacy is massively endangered. If anyone out there thinks different and plans a project, please holler and get me on board! We'd all love such a project to succeed.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft has announced - through a boring table, because Microsoft - that MS Paint has been deprecated. This means that it will soon be removed from Windows completely, superseded - supposedly - by their new Paint 3D. When Microsoft Paint will officially be removed from Windows has yet to be confirmed, while a precise date for the release of the Windows 10 Autumn Creators Update is equally up in the air. Whether, like Clippy, Windows users will celebrate or decry Paint's removal, it will be a moment in the history of Windows as one of its longest-standing apps is put out to pasture. To be honest, I don't quite understand why you'd use Paint for anything since Paint.NET is far more capable and also free.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft has announced - through a boring table, because Microsoft - that MS Paint has been deprecated. This means that it will soon be removed from Windows completely, superseded - supposedly - by their new Paint 3D. When Microsoft Paint will officially be removed from Windows has yet to be confirmed, while a precise date for the release of the Windows 10 Autumn Creators Update is equally up in the air. Whether, like Clippy, Windows users will celebrate or decry Paint's removal, it will be a moment in the history of Windows as one of its longest-standing apps is put out to pasture. To be honest, I don't quite understand why you'd use Paint for anything since Paint.NET is far more capable and also free.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
But to what extent has this history been preserved? Does the Million Dollar Homepage represent a robust digital artifact 12 years after its creation, or has it fallen prey to the ephemerality common to internet content? Have the forces of link rot and administrative neglect rendered it a shell of its former self? I remember this quite well - and I can't believe it's already been 12 years. As the article notes, it serves as a great preserved microcosm of that era's web - good and bad.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are, in my humble view, two of the greatest works of art of all times. From a very young age, I started reading children-friendly versions of the two stories, and later, during ancient Greek class in high school, we translated parts of the original works. Personally, I prefer the Odyssey, but I guess the Iliad is probably the greater, more popular epic. Thanks to the blessings of modern computing, the internet, and technology, we can now make beautiful interactive maps of stories, and I've been thoroughly enjoying The Odyssey Map today. I've seen such maps before, but not as smooth and nicely illustrated as this one. Add it to the list of awesome historical maps, such as the amazing 200-year topographical history of The Netherlands, or the countless interactive maps of the Roman Empire.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The Debian project is pleased to announce the first update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename stretch). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available. This isn't actually a new version or anything like that; a Debian point release just means a number of packages have been updated.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Microsoft finally broke its silence on the status of devices built on the Intel Clover Trail CPU family. Owners of those devices who had taken advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade offer discovered recently that those PCs were unable to upgrade to the Windows 10 Creators Update, released in April 2017 and now rolling out widely to the installed base of Windows 10 PCs. In an e-mailed statement, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed today that no software fix is on the way. But in a major shift in its "Windows as a Service" policy, Microsoft agreed to continue delivering security updates to those devices for another six years. Under the existing policy, those security updates would have ended in early 2018. Support for hardware has to end at some point, but this seems rather crude.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
It turns out we got played. The WSJ report that Google was funding research specifically to influence lawmakers for its own benefit seems to have been an Oracle-created hit job. Google's director of public policy Leslie Miller said the CfA's report was "highly misleading" and accused it of inflating the numbers by attributing funding to Google when it actually came from associations to which Google belongs. Miller also points out the non-profit's own transparency issues, given that the CfA's only known backer is Oracle. I should've checked the source of the actual report - and specifically, its funding - and I did not. My apologies. While this certainly doesn't magically mean Google is a saint, it does cast this specific report in a very, very different light.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
What they didn't know was that Alphabet was commissioning a small group to develop a version for the workplace. The team lives in Alphabet's X division, where Glass was first developed as a passion project of Google cofounder Sergey Brin. Now the focus was on making a practical workplace tool that saves time and money. Announced today, it is called Glass Enterprise Edition. That's what Erickson wears every day. She works for AGCO, an agricultural equipment manufacturer that is an early adopter of Glass EE. For about two years, Glass EE has been quietly in use in dozens of workplaces, slipping under the radar of gadget bloggers, analysts, and self-appointed futurists. Yes, the population of those using the vaunted consumer version of Glass has dwindled, tired of being driven out of lounges by cocktail-fork-wielding patrons fearing unwelcome YouTube cameos. Meanwhile, Alphabet has been selling hundreds of units of EE, an improved version of the product that originally shipped in a so-called Explorer Edition in 2013. Companies testing EE - including giants like GE, Boeing, DHL, and Volkswagen - have measured huge gains in productivity and noticeable improvements in quality. What started as pilot projects are now morphing into plans for widespread adoption in these corporations. Other businesses, like medical practices, are introducing Enterprise Edition in their workplaces to transform previously cumbersome tasks. They obviously followed my advice from way back in 2014, well before the Enterprise Edition was announced. Totally. In all seriousness, this is the perfect market for devices like Glass. I don't feel like these kinds of devices have much of a place in our personal lives, but in our professional lives it can improve safety quite a bit by giving people access to information that would otherwise require them to look away from what they are doing.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
You may not know the Model F by name, but you know it by sound - the musical thwacking of flippers slapping away. The sound of the '80s office. The IBM Model F greeting the world in 1981 with a good ten pounds of die-cast zinc and keys that crash down on buckling metal springs as they descend. It's a sensation today's clickiest keyboards chase, but will never catch. And now it's coming back. I used several of these growing up, and I've come to understand I'm the only one who didn't - and doesn't - like mechanical keyboards one bit - I find them tiring and way too loud. I want the thinnest possible keyboard with the shortest possible travel while still having a decent, satisfying, but very quiet click. I find Apple's Magic Keyboard is the exact right keyboard for me, but I also know I'll be one of the very few, especially on a site like OSNews.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
A much faster, bare metal approach to deleting large and complex folders in Windows is via the command line. Of course, repeatedly having to navigate directories while executing commands via a terminal quickly becomes a tedious experience. In this post, I will walk through the process of creating a simple batch file and wiring it up to a handy right-click context menu from Windows Explorer to delete sophisticated directories in a hurry and without interruption. Small tip (from 2015, so I'm a tad late), explained very well, that a lot of people could benefit from.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
We'll be restructuring our approach to Remix OS and transitioning away from the consumer space. As a result, development on all existing products such as Remix OS for PC as well as products in our pipeline such as Remix IO and IO+ will be discontinued. Full refunds will be issued to ALL BACKERS via Kickstarter for both Remix IO and Remix IO+. In addition any purchases made via our online store that has remained unfulfilled will also be fully refunded. This requires no action from you as we will begin issuing refunds starting August 15th. I'm shocked.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Dieter Bohn at The Verge: So while Microsoft didn't do itself any favors, I'd argue strongly that all these machinations and flailings weren't a response (or weren't only a response) to the iPhone. The real enemy was the company that had set its sights on Microsoft's phone ambitions since before the iPhone was released. That company was Google, of course, and it only tangentially wanted to take on the iPhone. Google's real target was always Microsoft, and it hit the bullseye. This article looks at the past, so let me take this opportunity to posit something that might come as a surprise to some. Android is a dead end. I really want to write a far more detailed and in-depth article explaining why I think Android is a dead end, but I can't yet fully articulate my thoughts or pinpoint why, exactly, I've felt like this for months now. All this doesn't mean Google is going to get out of mobile operating systems, and it doesn't even mean that the name "Android" is going away. All it means is that what we think of today as "Android" - a Linux kernel with libraries, the Android Runtime, and so on on top - has served its hackjob, we-need-to-compete purpose and is going to go away. Android in its current form suffers from several key architectural problems - it's not nearly as resource-efficient as, say, iOS, has consistent update problems, and despite hefty hardware, still suffers from the occasional performance problems, among other things - that Google clearly hasn't been able to solve. It feels like Android is in limbo, waiting for something, as if Google is working on something else that will eventually succeed Android. Is that something Fuchsia? Is Project Treble part of the plan, to make it easier for Google to eventually replace Android's Linux base with something else? If Android as it exists today was salvageable, why are some of the world's greatest operating systems engineers employed by Google not working on Android, but on Fuchsia? If Fuchsia is just a research operating system, why did its developers recently add actual wallpapers to the repository? Why does every design choice for Fuchsia seem specifically designed for and targeted at solving Android's core problems? I don't like making broad predictions based on gut feelings and spidey senses, since they can be incredibly misleading and hard to read, but I'm still pretty confident on this one: over the coming two to three years, Android will undergo a radical transformation. This transformation will be mostly transparant to users - their next Android phone won't actually be "Android" anymore, but still run the same applications, and they literally won't care - but it won't be a Linux device, and it won't suffer from Android's core problems. In a few years, Google's Pixel phone will have a fully custom, Google-designed SoC, and run an operating system that is Android in brand name only. Bookmark this. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
No. Mr Astley did not rework his song. An artist called Mario Klingemann did, using clever software. The video is a particularly obvious example of generated media, which uses quick and basic techniques. More sophisticated technology is on the verge of being able to generate credible video and audio of anyone saying anything. This is down to progress in an artificial intelligence (AI) technique called machine learning, which allows for the generation of imagery and audio. One particular set-up, known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), works by setting a piece of software (the generative network) to make repeated attempts to create images that look real, while a separate piece of software (the adversarial network) is set up in opposition. The adversary looks at the generated images and judges whether they are "real", which is measured by similarity to those in the generative software's training database. In trying to fool the adversary, the generative software learns from its errors. Generated images currently require vast computing power, and only work at low resolution. For now. People aren't even intelligent enough to spot obviously fake nonsense written stories, and those were enough to have an impact on the US elections. The current US president managed to "win" the elections by spouting an endless barrage of obvious lies, and the entire Brexit campaign was built on a web of obvious deceit and dishonesty. Now imagine adding fake video into the mix where anyone can be made to say anything.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Two days ago, the Day of Action to defend net neutrality took place. With the new US administration came a new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, who is working hard to try and undo the strict net neutrality rules put in place by his predecessor Tom Wheeler. Pai and the US Congress are under pressure from and enticed by millions of dollars worth of "donations" from the telecommunications industry to gut net neutrality. The 2017 Day of Action feels a lot like a retreat of 2014, when net neutrality was at stake as well. The 2014 campaign contributed to Tom Wheeler's decision to enact strict net neutrality rules, and was supported by a large number of technology companies. This year, too, the Day of Action was supported by companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Reddit, Snap, Facebook, and so on. One company is conspicuously absent from the net neutrality debate: Apple. The Cupertino giant is usually all too eager to ride the waves of what in American political parlance are called "liberal" causes, so its absence from the fight for net neutrality may seem surprising. In reality, though, Apple's absence makes a lot of sense: Apple does not benefit from net neutrality. Apple has never openly supported net neutrality. Back in 2014, Apple was not among the 100 companies that signed the open letter in support of net neutrality, and it's not a member of the Internet Association, the industry group behind the Day of Action which lobbies for net neutrality. In addition, in 2009, Apple was caught red-handed blocking VOIP solutions on the iPhone; the company had a secret agreement with AT&T to that effect. Tim Cook didn't so much as tweet about the Day of Action. The only instance of Apple saying anything about net neutrality was in February 2017, in response to a question during a shareholders meeting. Finally, Tim Cook responded to a question about the Trump administration's position against Net Neutrality, which seemed to catch the executive off guard. While Apple has been vocal about a number of policies from the new president's office, Cook downplayed his response here: "We stay out of politics but stay in policy. If Net Neutrality became a top thing, we would definitely engage in it." Cook also added that Apple is not a major lobbying company in comparison to others, but it believes all content should be treated the same. This is a rather weak statement, especially since unless you've been living under a rock, net neutrality has been a "top thing" for several years now. The time to "engage in it" was 2014 and this year, and on both crucial occasions, Apple's utter silence is deafening. And in what some may find surprising, net neutrality is an entirely safe bet to support - both sides of the political isle in the US overwhelmingly support net neutrality. So why is Apple silent? We can only guess, of course, but with a bit of common sense it's not hard to formulate a likely answer. While Apple's iOS and Mac businesses are doing really well, the company is also trying to break into the streaming market for both music and video. Apple's foray into streaming music has really only just begun, and with just 3% (20 million people) of Apple's installed base subscribed to Apple Music, it's clear Apple has a lot of room to grow. However, it's also facing a lot of competition: without the benefit of coming preinstalled on the most popular smartphone in the world, Spotify managed to add 20 million subscribers last year alone, now sitting at a total of 50 million subscribers. Apple's foray into streaming video, meanwhile, faces far stronger competition from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Video. With this in mind, the answer as to why Apple remains silent on net neutrality should be easy to answer: if net neutrality rules were to be gutted, Apple could leap at the opportunity to pay carriers and ISPs to favour its streaming services over the competition. Apple could easily outspend a company like Spotify, making sure Apple Music users would get preferential treatment from carriers/ISPs over Spotify users. As mentioned above - Apple did it before with VOIP, so it's not like this would be an unprecedented or uncharacteristic move for the Cupertino giant. Unless Apple breaks its silence and finally openly, unequivocally, and determinedly supports net neutrality, the safe, capitalist, and historically informed assumption is that Apple does not want net neutrality, because it would limit their ability to buy preferential treatment from carriers and ISPs. And it would be nice if the technology press stopped tip-toeing around Apple's silence on this crucially important matter - but Apple's preferential treatment in the technology press is a matter for another time. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Last night out of the blue, we received an email from AMD, sharing some of the specifications for the forthcoming Ryzen Threadripper CPUs to be announced today. Up until this point, we knew a few things - Threadripper would consist of two Zeppelin dies featuring AMD's latest Zen core and microarchitecture, and would essentially double up on the HEDT Ryzen launch. Double dies means double pretty much everything: Threadripper would support up to 16 cores, up to 32 MB of L3 cache, quad-channel memory support, and would require a new socket/motherboard platform called X399, sporting a massive socket with 4094-pins (and also marking an LGA socket for AMD). By virtue of being sixteen cores, AMD is seemingly carving a new consumer category above HEDT/High-End Desktop, which we’ve coined the 'Super High-End Desktop', or SHED for short. AMD is listing the top of the line Threadripper 1950X for 999 dollars, which gives you 16 cores and 32 threads, with a base frequency of 3.4Ghz (and a turbo frequency of 4.0Ghz) at a TDP of 180W (nothing to sneeze at). These are two quite amazing processors, and later next year, the pricing should definitely come down a bit so it's a bit more affordable for regular computer use as well. Well done, AMD. Sure, we need to await the benchmarks for more information, but this is looking real good. I'm hoping this will finally start forcing developers - specifically of games - to start making more and better use of multicore.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
From version to version, I always love to play around with the kernel. And it has always been a great lack in guides and documentation on how to build Mac OSX's kernel, XNU. For those of you that already have tried compiling XNU for Mac OSX 10.12 (Sierra), you probably noticed that earlier build guides like ssen's blog - Building xnu for OS X 10.11 El Capitan don't work anymore. However, many thanks to ssen to put in time to write a guide. The problem is that Apple introduced something named Circular dependency with the libdispatch library and the kernel headers. So the order of the build process just got really important.

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