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Exploring the Future of Computing



Last Build Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 10:55:28 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2001-2017, David Adams
 



An interactive map of the Odyssey

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 20:36:51 GMT

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.



Debian 9.1 released

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 20:25:22 GMT

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.



Microsoft extends support deadline for Clover Trail PCs

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:52:27 GMT

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.



Google denies funding biased research

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 07:12:22 GMT

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.



Google Glass 2.0 is a startling second act

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 07:01:18 GMT

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.



The best keyboard ever is back

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:29:07 GMT

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.



Fastest way to delete large folders in Windows

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:12:10 GMT

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.



Jide discontinues Remix OS

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 09:33:31 GMT

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.



How "fake news" could get even worse

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 22:52:20 GMT

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.



AMD details Threadripper 1920X and 1950X CPUs

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 20:57:58 GMT

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.



Building the XNU kernel on Mac OS X Sierra

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 20:52:24 GMT

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.



The Ultimate-64 board

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 20:48:54 GMT

It's time to announce the upcoming new "Ultimate-64" board! In order to sustain the love for the Commodore 64, with failing machines, power supplies and flaky old connectors, I proudly present a new main board for your beloved C64 case: What is it?!  This board is a hardware implementation (FPGA) of the entire C64, and it includes the Ultimate-II+ as well.  An ALL IN ONE solution! It will be produced in small batches, and the creator hopes to be able to sell it for around 200 dollars. That's a pretty great price to give a C64 a lease on life.



The internet is fucked (again)

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 13:37:27 GMT

FCC chairman Ajit Pai is fond of saying that "the internet was not broken in 2015" when he argues for repeal of our nation's net neutrality rules. This is particularly funny to me, because in 2014 I literally wrote an article called "The internet is fucked". Why was it fucked? Because the free and open internet was in danger of becoming tightly controlled by giant telecom corporations that were already doing things like blocking apps and services from phones and excusing their own services from data caps. Because the lack of competition in the internet access market let these companies act like predatory monopolies. And because our government lacked the will or clarity to just say what everyone already knows: internet access is a utility. Most of these things are still true, even after the Obama-era FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler reclassified internet access as a Title II telecommunications service and imposed strict net neutrality rules on wired and wireless internet providers. And most of these things will get even worse when Pai pushes through his plan to rescind Title II and those rules, despite widespread public outcry. Hey look, another case of corporations actively working to undermine society by bribing politicians with huge amounts of money that individuals would never (or only rarely) have access to. As long as politicians' power is derived not from the people, but from money, shit like this will continue to happen. Trying to stop Pai's obviously horrible and destructive anti-consumer plans is a noble goal, but these plans are only a symptom, not a cause. We're playing whack-a-mole, while they are playing Jenga. These corporate criminals and their political lapdogs will keep throwing money at the wall until it breaks - and they have more money than we have bricks and mortar.



Deal Alert: Free download of iPhone data utility

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 13:37:26 GMT

One of the chief annoyances of Apple's closed ecosystem is the limited ability to move files to and from your device using iTunes. Utilities that open up file management have been available for ages, but generally cost money, so stingy people like me just make do with iTunes. To commemorate the iPhone 10 year anniversary, MacX is offering OSNews readers a free license to their MediaTrans tool (in exchange for your email address). It's good for moving files of various types, backup, and removing media DRM. If any OSNews readers can recommend other options for working around Apple's restrictions and managing files on their iOS devices, I'd love to read about them in the comments.



Mainstream support for Windows Phone 8.1 has ended

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 13:36:56 GMT

If you're still rocking a handset running Windows Phone 8.1, it is important to note that mainstream support for the operating system is ending tomorrow, as Microsoft previously announced. Prior to the availability of Windows 10 Mobile for select handsets, the last major update to Windows Phone 8.1 was Lumia Denim, which started rolling out way back in December 2014. A select number of handsets can get Windows 10 Mobile, but the vast majority of users (about 80%) are running Windows Phone 8.1. So, headlines that state Windows Phone died yesterday are clickbait - but only because Windows Phone died years ago.