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Exploring the Future of Computing



Last Build Date: Fri, 26 May 2017 09:31:25 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2001-2017, David Adams
 



Google starts tracking offline shopping

Wed, 24 May 2017 23:08:48 GMT

Google already monitors online shopping - but now it's also keeping an eye on what people buy in physical stores as it tries to sell more digital advertising. The Internet giant said Tuesday that a new tool will track how much money people spend in merchants' bricks-and-mortar stores after clicking on their digital ads. The analysis will be done by matching the combined ad clicks of people who are logged into Google services with their collective purchases on credit and debit cards. Google says it won't be able to examine the specific items bought or how much a specific individual spent. Well, this seems like something our politicians should prevent. This is such a terrible idea.



Amiga X5000: an alternate universe where the Amiga never died

Wed, 24 May 2017 23:03:08 GMT

Ars reviews the Amiga X5000, and concludes: The X5000 is different. It feels like an exotic car: expensive, beautifully engineered, and unique. If you bought one, you'd be one of a proud few, a collector and enthusiast. It practically begs for you to dig in and tinker with the internals - the system comes with an SDK, a C compiler, Python, and a huge amount of documentation for things like MUI, the innovative GUI library. On top of that, there is the mysterious XMOS chip, crying out for someone to create software that leverages its strengths. It feels like a developer’s machine. Should you buy one? That depends very much on what your needs are. If you are simply after the best price-to-performance ratio for a desktop computer, this is not the machine for you. But if you are interested in something very different, something that is pleasant and fun to use, and yet can still be used for modern desktop workloads, then the X5000 is worth a look. I have had this review unit on my desktop for over a month now, and frankly I don’t want to give it back. I reviewed the sam440ep with AmigaOS 4 way back in 2009, and came to a relatively similar conclusion - these machines are a ton of fun, but they're just prohibitively expensive, meaning only existing AmigaOS users will really get their hands on these. They really, really need a more accessible machine or board - a few hundred Euros, tops.



The largest Git repo on the planet

Wed, 24 May 2017 20:02:07 GMT

Over the past 3 months, we have largely completed the rollout of Git/GVFS to the Windows team at Microsoft. As a refresher, the Windows code base is approximately 3.5M files and, when checked in to a Git repo, results in a repo of about 300GB. Further, the Windows team is about 4,000 engineers and the engineering system produces 1,760 daily "lab builds" across 440 branches in addition to thousands of pull request validation builds. All 3 of the dimensions (file count, repo size and activity), independently, provide daunting scaling challenges and taken together they make it unbelievably challenging to create a great experience. Before the move to Git, in Source Depot, it was spread across 40+ depots and we had a tool to manage operations that spanned them. As of my writing 3 months ago, we had all the code in one Git repo, a few hundred engineers using it and a small fraction (



Microsoft is placing a big bet on its new Surface family

Wed, 24 May 2017 19:59:30 GMT

A week after introducing the Surface Laptop to the world, he's sitting in a room in Microsoft's Building 88 ready to show off his team's latest creation: the new Surface Pro. At first glance, it looks a lot like 2015's Surface Pro 4, but it's part of a bigger lineup of the entire Surface family that Microsoft is now ready to take worldwide. For the first time in Surface history, Microsoft will start shipping two new products (Surface Pro and Surface Laptop) worldwide at launch. June 15th will see these new products launch, and a big expansion for the Surface Studio all-in-one PC, too. It's clearly a date that Microsoft has been working toward for quite some time, and as I walked around Microsoft's secretive Surface building located at its Redmond, Washington, campus, it's easy to see that the Surface family of devices is now coming to life. Be honest with yourself: which line of devices feels more innovative and exciting: Surface or Mac? Easy answer.



The MOnSter 6502

Tue, 23 May 2017 22:27:46 GMT

A dis-integrated circuit project to make a complete, working transistor-scale replica of the classic MOS 6502 microprocessor. This is sorcery - and art.



At Google, an employee-run mail list tracks harassment complaints

Tue, 23 May 2017 22:25:40 GMT

At most companies, if you think you've witnessed sexual harassment, sexism, bigotry or racism, there s one way to get it addressed: going to human resources. At Google, there's another way to air your grievance: submitting your complaint to an employee-run message board that's curated into a weekly email. The list, called "Yes, at Google," is a grassroots effort to collect anonymous submissions at Google and parent Alphabet Inc. and communicate them across the company, according to five current employees who receive the emails. "Yes, at Google" tracks allegations of unwelcome behavior at work in an attempt to make the company more inclusive, said the employees, who did not want to be named because they were not authorized to speak about internal company matters. Since starting in October, more than 15,000 employees - 20 percent of the company's workforce - have subscribed, according to two of those people. Google management is aware of the list. "We work really hard to promote and preserve a culture of respect and inclusion," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "Our employees have numerous ways to raise issues - both negative and positive - with us, including through grassroots transparency efforts like this one. We take concerns seriously and take appropriate measures to address them." This is a great initiative, and adds a ton of accountability into the reporting process for these matters. I wonder if you could complain if your brand new headquarters has every amenity from a huge gym to a massive wellness centre (...what even?), but no daycare.



US top court tightens patent suit rules in blow to patent trolls

Tue, 23 May 2017 22:18:46 GMT

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tightened rules for where patent lawsuits can be filed in a decision that may make it harder for so-called patent "trolls" to launch sometimes dodgy patent cases in friendly courts, a major irritant for high-tech giants like Apple and Alphabet Inc's Google. In a decision that upends 27 years of law governing patent infringement cases, the justices sided with beverage flavoring company TC Heartland LLC in its legal battle with food and beverage company Kraft Heinz Co. The justices ruled 8-0 that patent suits can be filed only in courts located in the jurisdiction where the targeted company is incorporated. Good. That district in Texas is screwed.



"Kill Google AMP before it kills the web"

Sun, 21 May 2017 10:36:02 GMT

These, in my view, don't go far enough in stating the problem and I feel this needs to be said very clearly: Google's AMP is bad - bad in a potentially web-destroying way. Google AMP is bad news for how the web is built, it's bad news for publishers of credible online content, and it's bad news for consumers of that content. Google AMP is only good for one party: Google. Google, and possibly, purveyors of fake news. I haven't encountered enough AMP pages in my browsing time to really form an informed opinion on it, but as a matter of principle, I'm against it. At the same time, however, all of us know that modern websites are really, really terrible. It's why so many of us use ad blockers (on top of privacy concerns, of course) - to make the modern web browsing experience bearable. In that sense, AMP serves a similar role. Simply put: if everyone created news websites and blogs as fast and light as, say, OSNews, we wouldn't need AMP or ad blockers for speed purposes (you might still want an ad blocker for privacy reasons, of course). On a related note, something funny happened regarding this specific article. Yesterday, John Gruber wrote: But other than loading fast, AMP sucks. It implements its own scrolling behavior on iOS, which feels unnatural, and even worse, it breaks the decade-old system-wide iOS behavior of being able to tap the status bar to scroll to the top of any scrollable view. Setting aside the sulphuric irony of a fervent Apple fan crusading for openness, it turns out that AMP is not implementing its own scrolling at all - the AMP team actually found a bug in Safari, reported it to Apple, and then Apple replied with stating they are switching the whole of Safari over to what Gruber perceived as AMP's own scrolling behaviour: With respect to scrolling: We (AMP team) filed a bug with Apple about that (we didn't implement scrolling ourselves, just use a div with overflow). We asked to make the scroll inertia for that case the same as the normal scrolling. Apple's response was (surprisingly) to make the default scrolling like the overflow scrolling. So, with the next Safari release all pages will scroll like AMP pages. Hope Gruber is happy then :) Well, I thought this was entertaining.



ReactOS 0.4.5 released

Thu, 18 May 2017 21:50:51 GMT

ReactOS 0.4.5 has been released. Thanks to the work of Katayama Hirofumi and Mark Jansen, ReactOS now better serves requests for fonts and font metrics, leading to an improved rendering of applications and a more pleasant user experience. Your continued donations have also funded a contract for Giannis Adamopoulos to fix every last quirk in our theming components. The merits of this work can be seen in ReactOS 0.4.5, which comes with a smoother themed user interface and the future promises to bring even more improvements. In another funded effort, Hermès Bélusca-Maïto has got MS Office 2010 to run under ReactOS, another application from the list of most voted apps. Don’t forget to install our custom Samba package from the Application Manager if you want to try it out for yourself.



Android developers can now block rooted devices, Netflix bites

Thu, 18 May 2017 21:46:03 GMT

Over the weekend, it was discovered that the Android Netflix application could no longer be installed on rooted Android devices - in fact, it vanished from the Play Store on rooted devices completely. Netflix then confirmed it started blocking rooted devices from installing the Netflix application. Well, it turns out we'll only be going downhill from here, as Google explained at I/O that from now on, developers will be able to block their applications from being installed on rooted Android devices. Developers will be able to choose from 3 states shown in the top image: not excluding devices based on SafetyNet, excluding those that don't pass integrity, or excluding the latter plus those that aren't certified by Google. That means any dev could potentially block their apps from showing and being directly installable in the Play Store on devices that are rooted and/or running a custom ROM, as well as on emulators and uncertified devices (think Meizu and its not-so-legal way of getting Play Services and the Play Store on its phones). This is exactly what many of you were afraid would happen after the Play Store app started surfacing a Device certification status. This is bad news for the custom ROM community. If I can no longer install Netflix (and possibly more applications) on custom ROMs, there's no way I'll be using custom ROMs on my devices. For now, this is a Play function and we can still sideload the applications in question, but with Google Play Services installed on virtually every Android device, one has to wonder - and worry - how long it'll be before such checks happen on-device instead of in-Play.



Google introduces Android Go

Thu, 18 May 2017 21:31:54 GMT

During I/O, Google also announced Android Go, a version of the mobile operating system optimised for lower-end devices. From Google's announcement: OS: We're optimizing Android O to run smoothly and efficiently on entry-level devices. Apps: We're also designing Google apps to use less memory, storage space, and mobile data, including apps such as YouTube Go, Chrome, and Gboard. Play: On entry-level devices, Play store will promote a better user experience by highlighting apps that are specifically designed for these devices -- such as apps that use less memory, storage space, and mobile data -- while still giving users access to the entire app catalog. If a device has less than 1 GB of RAM, it will automatically use the Android Go version of Android. In addition, Google has set up a set of guidelines applications must adhere to in order to qualify for the special highlighting mentioned above. The first question that popped into my mind was - why isn't every device getting this supposedly faster, and more lightweight version of Android? Will we be able to 'force' our devices to use Android Go, even if they don't officially qualify? The second question is - why would a developer go the lengths of creating additional versions of their application, instead of what they ought to do, which is slim down their existing application?



Google adds Kotlin as official Android programming language

Thu, 18 May 2017 15:57:20 GMT

I'm a little late with all the stuff from Google I/O last night due to personal issues keeping me from my PC, so let's catch up. There's a ton of interesting stuff, but I think what OSNews readers will be interested in the most is the Android project officially adding support for Kotlin. Today the Android team is excited to announce that we are officially adding support for the Kotlin programming language. Kotlin is a brilliantly designed, mature language that we believe will make Android development faster and more fun. It has already been adopted by several major developers - Expedia, Flipboard, Pinterest, Square, and others - for their production apps. Kotlin also plays well with the Java programming language; the effortless interoperation between the two languages has been a large part of Kotlin's appeal. The Kotlin plug-in is now bundled with Android Studio 3.0 and is available for immediate download. Kotlin was developed by JetBrains, the same people who created IntelliJ, so it is not surprising that the IDE support for Kotlin is outstanding. And the announcement from the Kotlin project itself: For Android developers, Kotlin support is a chance to use a modern and powerful language, helping solve common headaches such as runtime exceptions and source code verbosity. Kotlin is easy to get started with and can be gradually introduced into existing projects, which means that your existing skills and technology investments are preserved. As for user-facing features in Android O, it's definitely a more low-key affair than earlier releases, with most new features fitting neatly in the "huh, neat" category. With a massive low-level project like Treble underway, it makes sense for Android to not rock the boat too much with this year's release. There's Notification Dots, smarter text selection, completely redesigned emoji, and more. There's also Android Go, but I'm saving that for a later item.



AMD unveils the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition

Thu, 18 May 2017 15:41:49 GMT

So for today's AMD Financial Analyst Day, AMD has released a little bit more information as part of the next step of their campaign. The first Vega product to be released has a name, it has a design, and it has performance figures. Critically, it even has a release date. I hesitate to call this a full announcement in the typical sense - AMD is still holding some information back until closer to the launch - but we now finally have a clear picture of where the Vega generation kicks off for AMD.



ArcaOS 5.0 released

Tue, 16 May 2017 18:59:51 GMT

ArcaOS 5.0 has been released and it is available to be bought at the Arca Noae shop page. It is based on OS/2 Warp 4.52 binaries, and contains newer drivers for ACPI, USB, and networking, a new installer and several open source software projects such as Firefox, Qt, Libc, and OpenOffice. The OS2World Community also posted a statement with important OS/2 community links and some remarks on the important role open source software has in the OS/2 community.



Don't tell people to turn off Windows Update, just don't

Mon, 15 May 2017 23:08:32 GMT

Troy Hunt hits some nails on their heads: If you had any version of Windows since Vista running the default Windows Update, you would have had the critical Microsoft Security Bulletin known as "MS17-010" pushed down to your PC and automatically installed. Without doing a thing, when WannaCry came along almost 2 months later, the machine was protected because the exploit it targeted had already been patched. It's because of this essential protection provided by automatic updates that those advocating for disabling the process are being labelled the IT equivalents of anti-vaxxers and whilst I don't fully agree with real world analogies like this, you can certainly see where they're coming from. As with vaccinations, patches protect the host from nasty things that the vast majority of people simply don't understand. Great article, which also goes into Windows Update itself for a bit.