posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
We were not content with the quality of laptops available on the market. The majority shipped with proprietary and locked-in software solutions, filled with not-uninstallable bloat where the user was left at the mercy of whatever the company selling them a laptop saw fit for them to work with. As creators and makers we knew what it meant to be locked into a set of solutions defined by others. Many alternatives took whatever hardware they could find when they wanted to provide more free options and the end result was often lackluster and as such, lowering the enjoyment in using the computer, our main tool in creating, and shipping with underwhelming specs. We saw a problem, and we solved it: The KDE Slimbook. Basically a MacBook Air-like laptop, preconfigured with KDE Neon, at a relatively reasonable price. This is a very attractive laptop, and I would love to own one. Very nice work.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
As the 1990s began, Commodore should have been flying high. The long-awaited new Amiga models with better graphics, the A1200 and A4000, were finally released in 1992. Sales responded by increasing 17 percent over the previous year. The Video Toaster had established a niche in desktop video editing that no other computer platform could match, and the new Toaster 4000 promised to be even better than before. After a rocky start, the Amiga seemed to be hitting its stride. Unfortunately, this success wouldn't last. In 1993, sales fell by 20 percent, and Commodore lost $366 million. In the first quarter of 1994, the company announced a loss of $8.2 million - much better than the previous four quarters, but still not enough to turn a profit. Commodore had run into financial difficulties before, particularly in the mid-'80s, but this time the wounds were too deep. Sales of the venerable Commodore 64 had finally collapsed, and the Amiga wasn't able to fill the gap quickly enough. The company issued a statement warning investors of its problems, and the stock plunged. On April 29, 1994, Commodore International Limited announced that it was starting the initial phase of voluntary liquidation of all of its assets and filing for bankruptcy protection. Commodore, once the savior of the Amiga, had failed to save itself.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Last week, details emerged of Microsoft's plans to develop a single, unified, 'adaptive shell' for Windows 10. Known as the 'Composable Shell', or CSHELL, the company's efforts were said to be focused on establishing a universal Windows 10 version with a standardized framework to scale and adapt the OS to any type of device, display size or user experience, including smartphones, PCs, tablets, consoles, large touchscreens, and more. Today,

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Last year, we set out to make Windows 10 the best Windows ever for gaming. With Game Mode, it's our goal to now take things a step further to make the gaming experience on Windows even better. Our vision is that Game Mode optimizes your Windows 10 PC for an improvement in overall game performance. This week's Windows Insider build represents the first step on our journey with Game Mode. Basically, it prioritises CPU and GPU resources for your game, so you can eek out a bit more performance. I'm not quite sure if there'll be a benefit for people at the higher end (I don't think my GTX1070 running at 2560x1440 will benefit much), but for slightly lower specifications it might just give that extra little bit for a more consistent experience. All in all, I'm happy with these gaming-oriented features in Windows, but I really hate how Microsoft is slapping 'Xbox' on everything and tries to take me out of my beloved and trusted Steam environment. It reeks of utter garbageware like Uplay.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
This release represents over a year of development effort and around 6,600 individual changes. The main highlights are the support for Microsoft Office 2013, and the 64-bit support on macOS. It also contains a lot of improvements across the board, as well as support for many new applications and games. See the release notes below for a summary of the major changes. As awesome of a project Wine is, I wonder how many people actually use it on a daily basis. Maybe I'm wildly off base here (honestly, I probably am), but it seems like if you're running Linux, there's really nothing Windows applications offer that Linux can't.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Apple iOS point release betas usually aren't all that interesting, but the first iOS 10.3 beta contains a big change that, while probably being mostly transparent to the average user, is actually quite interesting. When you update to iOS 10.3, your iOS device will update its file system to Apple File System (APFS). This conversion preserves existing data on your device. However, as with any software update, it is recommended that you create a backup of your device before updating. Apple's developer documentation contains more information about APFS.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Trump and his murder of Republican Christian extremists have declared war on science. The US Department of Agriculture has banned scientists and other employees in its main research division from publicly sharing everything from the summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets as it starts to adjust to life under the Trump administration, BuzzFeed News has learned. According to an email sent Monday morning and obtained by BuzzFeed News, the department told staff - including some 2,000 scientists - at the agency's main in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), to stop communicating with the public about taxpayer-funded work. And: The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants. Emails sent to EPA staff since President Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed the specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency's social media accounts. Don't tell me I didn't warn you.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
You might have used Google's new AMP project without even knowing. It's a technology that makes mobile page results load very quickly on Google, it displays the content in a more uniform fashion. But there's a problem. The content loads off of Google's own server, not from the website itself. Everybody is complaining about AMP, and I'm just sitting here wondering if I ever even get to see an AMP page. Are they blocked by things like Ghostery and ad blockers?

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Last year marked the fifth year of Tim Cook’s reign, and year 3 of "Tim Cook's Apple". With recent technological shifts, Apple is at a crossroads of sorts; therefore, I believe a pre-mortem is expedient. This is a great article. I, too, wonder if Apple is so stuck on "let's just slap apps on it" that it serves to detriment their efforts. Virtually all their product introductions lately centred around slapping apps on existing, boring hardware and hope for the best. I'm not sure if the linked article's suggestions are the right way to go, but I do know that Apple places more faith in apps than is really warranted. A cold and harsh truth Apple doesn't seem to grasp: nobody cares about apps. Apps are done. People have a small set of apps they use every day, usually the big name apps such as Facebook and Twitter, and really - that's it. Aside from us nerdier people, nobody browses through the App Store or Google Play, filled with anticipation for what they might find. If you really break it down, I'm pretty sure most people use maybe 2-3 apps daily, and any others maybe once per month. That's really not something you want to bank your product strategy on.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
So if you've been wondering where all the Android tablets have gone - here's a guess. They've been held back because it seems like something better is coming: Chrome OS tablets with a real desktop browser and real Android apps. That kind of system probably has a better chance of success competing with the iPad - but let's not set Android's sights quite that high yet. A more reasonable target: undercutting the Surface and all its clones on the low end of the market. At this point I have absolutely no clue anymore what Google wants to do with Chrome OS and Android. And sometimes I think - neither does Google.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
To find the cause of the Galaxy Note7 incidents, Samsung examined every aspect of the Galaxy Note7, including hardware, software and related processes over the past several months. Samsung's investigation, as well as the investigations completed by three independent industry organizations, concluded that the batteries were the cause of the Galaxy Note7 incidents. The causative factors are further explained in the infographic below. The presentation last night was quite informative, and both Samsung and the three independent organisation got time to explain their findings in quite some detail. Sadly, they removed the VOD of the livestream from YouTube, so there's no way to rewatch it (edit: someone uploaded the VOD), but some of the slides can be found at the bottom of the linked article.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The Z88 Development Team has released a new version of the system ROM for the Cambridge Z88 portable. It's the result of more than a years work, with many improvements and new features: ISO character set support in filenames and international dates, faster serial I/O, improved RAM applications, better responsiveness. Rock-stable software that enables to run your Z88 for many months with re-booting. The team also outlines its plans for the future: The next step for the coming years is to re-implement the Z88 on low-power FPGA, minimum 10 X faster CPU, 800x600 screen resolution, up to 1Gb of RAM, SD-card filing system, VGA/HDMI output, improved operating system with new Unix-like command line Shell, ELF for Z80 executables + shared libraries, and integrated Zip arching in filing system. Emulators and developer tools will also be freely available.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
While common magnetic tape uses very thin, plastic-coated iron oxide, "talking rubber" uses rubber impregnated with iron oxide. Iron oxide (a form of rust) is ferromagnetic, which means in the presence of a magnetic field, the electrons in the iron oxide magnetically line up and stay that way even after the magnetic field is turned off. This allows cassette tapes to create a “track” of magnetically aligned iron oxide when the electromagnet in a cassette recorder creates a magnetic field. But with magnetic rubber, the iron oxide is actually mixed into the rubber material; the whole band becomes ferromagnetic, instead of just the coating. According to that Bell System Journal article, this “talking rubber” could be around 1/16 or 1/8 of an inch think, whereas magnetic tape was (even in the '50s) already much thinner at 1/1000 of an inch thick. More obscure audio formats!

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Over the past few weeks, we've gotten notes from Verge Science readers wondering why news from the incoming Trump administration has seeped into our science coverage. I wasn't surprised: it's tempting to believe that science is apolitical. But science and politics are plainly related: science is the pursuit of knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is politics. The scientific method consists of generating a hypothesis, attempting to disprove the hypothesis through testing, and accumulating those tests to come up with shared knowledge. And that method also contains ideology: our observed, shared world is the real world. This ideology even has a name: empiricism. An incoming president who clearly picks and chooses facts to suit his own version of the world changes the relationship between science and culture, in potentially destructive ways. "To be taught to read - what is the use of that, if you know not whether what you read is false or true? To be taught to write or to speak - but what is the use of speaking, if you have nothing to say? To be taught to think - nay, what is the use of being able to think, if you have nothing to think of? But to be taught to see is to gain word and thought at once, and both true." Tomorrow, in a mirror, darkly.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The administration's analysis of Autosteer was more positive about its capabilities. After analyzing mileage and airbag deployment data for Model S and Model X cars equipped with Autopilot, the NHTSA concluded that "the Tesla vehicles' crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation." Wait, you mean to tell me a computer who doesn't get sleepy or distracted and doesn't need to pee is better at keeping an eye on the road than a human? Say it isn't so.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The administration's analysis of Autosteer was more positive about its capabilities. After analyzing mileage and airbag deployment data for Model S and Model X cars equipped with Autopilot, the NHTSA concluded that "the Tesla vehicles' crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation." Wait, you mean to tell me a computer who doesn't get sleepy or distracted and doesn't need to pee is better at keeping an eye on the road than a human? Say it isn't so.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
FAP80 is a Z80-based retro computer with a sprinkling of modern twists to make the experience of designing, programming, and debugging this computer as painless and straightforward as possible. A lot of retro computer projects today are rooted on nostalgia, they tend to use "period correct" components to get the "feelings" right, and the result often ends up on perfboard or self-etched circuit boards, rudimentary video capacity if at all, few I/O ports, and a symphony of 74 series chips. While there is nothing wrong with that, I wasn't around during the 80s home computer era, so I didn't have the same attachment to how things was done back then. So instead of trying to recreate the "good old days", I made the decision to liberally use modern parts to simplify the design process, as well as making this computer highly flexible and easy to program and use with very little overheads. The creator's blog has more detailed information about the project.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
With those out of the way, TASBot moved on to a similar total control run of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. After a few minutes of setup, the Zelda screen faded out, then faded back in on a bordered window with an ersatz logo for the "Super N64." Without any forthcoming explanation from the runners on stage, TASBot started apparently playing through a glitch-filled speedrun of Super Mario 64 on the Super NES, following it up with a similar glitch-filled speedrun through Valve's PC classic Portal. After that, the scene somehow transitioned to a Skype video call with a number of speedrunners speaking live from the AGDQ event through the SNES. No one on the AGDQ stage acknowledged how weird this all was, leaving hundreds in the Herndon, VA ballroom and nearly 200,000 people watching live on Twitch temporarily guessing at what, exactly, was going on. AGDQ (and its Summer counterpart, SGDQ) are some of my favourite events in technology, and I have the entire marathon streaming for the whole week. The TASBot block this year was, as the excerpt above describes, insane, and this article explains how they did it.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Early December of last year, I posted the rumour that Oracle was going to end Solaris development. While the company denied these rumours at the time, there still seems to be something going on. Rumors have been circulating since late last year that Oracle was planning to kill development of the Solaris operating system, with major layoffs coming to the operating system's development team. Others speculated that future versions of the Unix platform Oracle acquired with Sun Microsystems would be designed for the cloud and built for the Intel platform only and that the SPARC processor line would meet its demise. The good news, based on a recently released Oracle roadmap for the SPARC platform, is that both Solaris and SPARC appear to have a future. The bad news is that the next major version of Solaris - Solaris 12 - has apparently been cancelled, as it has disappeared from the roadmap. Instead, it's been replaced with "Solaris 11.next" - and that version is apparently the only update planned for the operating system through 2021. Read into that what you will. Sounds like maintenance mode to me.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
I'll almost certainly buy another MacBook, especially if future iterations can give me back the rationalization that paying so much money allows me to have the best computer. (The best for me, of course; the person who does not need to play videogames on his laptop, for example, because he is going to write a short story or record a pop song.) But in the meantime, I'm enjoying a new type of anticipation which for now only seems to be available in Windowsland: that someday, despite the funfetti working environment and Homermobile nature of the hardware, I may actually be on a path that's going somewhere not just new, but better, or at least more exciting. Quite the enjoyable read.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
There's a new form of digital censorship sweeping the globe, and it could be the start of something devastating. In the last few weeks, the Chinese government compelled Apple to remove New York Times apps from the Chinese version of the App Store. Then the Russian government had Apple and Google pull the app for LinkedIn, the professional social network, after the network declined to relocate its data on Russian citizens to servers in that country. Finally, last week, a Chinese regulator asked app stores operating in the countryto register with the government, an apparent precursor to wider restrictions on app marketplaces. These moves may sound incremental, and perhaps not immediately alarming. China has been restricting the web forever, and Russia is no bastion of free speech. So what's so dangerous about blocking apps? Here's the thing: It's a more effective form of censorship. It's almost like an operating system where you can't install applications not approved by its manufacturer is a really, really dumb idea.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The next version of Google's smartwatch operating system is slated to arrive on February 9th, according to mobile reporter Evan Blass. The leak follows last week's report that Google had notified developers of Android Wear 2.0's upcoming release so they could prepare to update apps for continued support. I'm sure all three Android Wear users are jumping up and down with excitement.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
This document gives an overview of how security is designed into Google’s technical infrastructure. This global scale infrastructure is designed to provide security through the entire information processing lifecycle at Google. This infrastructure provides secure deployment of services, secure storage of data with end user privacy safeguards, secure communications between services, secure and private communication with customers over the internet, and safe operation by administrators. Google uses this infrastructure to build its internet services, including both consumer services such as Search, Gmail, and Photos, and enterprise services such as G Suite and Google Cloud Platform. We will describe the security of this infrastructure in progressive layers starting from the physical security of our data centers, continuing on to how the hardware and software that underlie the infrastructure are secured, and finally, describing the technical constraints and processes in place to support operational security. This document also touches on something I always find quite fascinating - Google is, actually, an incredibly successful hardware company. A Google data center consists of thousands of server machines connected to a local network. Both the server boards and the networking equipment are custom-designed by Google. I have no idea how many servers Google actually owns, but this could make them one of the biggest hardware companies in the world.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
axle is a small UNIX-like hobby operating system. Everything used within axle is implemented from the ground up, aside from the bootloader, for which we use GRUB. axle is a multiboot compliant kernel. axle runs C on 'bare metal' in freestanding mode, meaning even the C standard library is not included. A subset of the C standard library is implemented within axle's kernel, and a userspace version is planned. axle is mainly interfaced through a shell. Open source, custom educational operating system. The first public alpha release is out.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The sprawling investigation into President Park Geun-hye of South Korea took a dramatic turn on Monday with word that prosecutors were seeking the arrest of the de facto head of Samsung, one of the world's largest conglomerates, on charges that he bribed the president and her secretive confidante. Nobody should be able to escape justice - not even CEOs. I know of a few others who need to follow in Lee's footsteps.

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