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MINIX 3.3.0 released
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by beng on 2014-09-16 21:36:35

MINIX is a modern, microkernel-based UNIX implementation. The code size of the microkernel is just 129 kB. Servers implement UNIX on top of it. The userland, toolchain, packages etc. are from NetBSD. Release 3.3.0 was just announced:

New features:

  • The first release with ARM support, three Beagle targets are supported
  • Experimental USB support for the Beaglebones (hubs & mass storage)
  • Cross-compiling for both ARM and x86 - the buildsystem is very portable

Improvements

  • Big source code cleanup - cleaner C types in messages, improved NetBSD compatibility, all minix-specific code moved to a top-level minix/ folder
  • Updated packages overall - a big set is built now; and they are dynamically linked now
  • Improved driver modularity

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Apple releases U2 album removal tool
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-15 18:02:32

Apple has released a tool to remove U2's new album from its customers' iTunes accounts six days after giving away the music for free.

Some users had complained about the fact that Songs of Innocence had automatically been downloaded to their devices without their permission.

It had not been immediately obvious to many of the account holders how to delete the tracks.

The US tech firm now offers a one-click removal button.

Great headline. Great story. Great everything. This is just great.

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Microsoft acquires Mojang for $2.5 billion
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-15 13:16:34

Update: In Notch' own words (Pastebin version because his site is being hammered):

I'm aware this goes against a lot of what I've said in public. I have no good response to that. I'm also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I'm right there struggling with you.

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can't be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it's belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It's about my sanity.

His honesty and openness is very welcome.

I bought Minecraft way back in the alpha days (September 29, 2010, to be exact), and I haven't ever regretted it one bit. Thank you for Minecraft, Markus.




It's official. Microsoft has acquired Mojang, and thus, Minecraft.

From Mojang's announcement:

Minecraft has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance. Though we're massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big.

As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He's decided that he doesn't want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he's made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He'll continue to do cool stuff though. Don't worry about that.

While I'm not particularly happy about Minecraft going to Microsoft - of all places - I fully understand Notch' reasoning. Even my own little one-man translation company is a huge amount of effort to run, both in actual working hours (translating) and all the stuff that comes with owning a company (the administrative and office crap nobody likes to do). I can only imagine that is must be a thousand times more difficult to run a company as successful as Mojang, and I can understand him wanting to get rid of it, get a huge pile of money, and use it do new stuff, free from pressure.

So, thank you for Minecraft, Notch, and you and your colleagues deserve this massive break. Congratulations!

So, what about Minecraft's future? From Microsoft's announcement:

Minecraft fans are loyal, with nearly 90 percent of paid customers on the PC having signed in within the past 12 months.

That sentence.

That sentence, Microsoft.

That sentence tells me all I need to know. If you've paid any attention to the negative developments in gaming over the recent years, that sentence should send chills down your spine.

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Windows 9's new Start menu demonstrated on video
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by Orichalcum on 2014-09-12 22:06:04

Microsoft may have demonstrated its new Start menu earlier this year, but thanks to a recent "Windows 9" leak we're now seeing every single part of the company’s plans for bringing back this popular feature. German site WinFuture has posted a two-minute video that demonstrates how the Start menu works in the next major release of Windows. As you'd expect, it's very similar to what Microsoft demonstrated with traditional apps mixing with modern apps (and their Live Tiles) into a familiar Start menu.

It boggles my mind why Microsoft doesn't just remove Metro from the desktop altogether. Is there anyone who wants to run those comically large touch-optimised applications in windows on their desktop? Why not restrict Metro to where it belongs, i.e., mobile? Why all this extra work?

It just doesn't seem to make any sense.

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Software patents are crumbling, thanks to the Supreme Court
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-12 22:04:29

The Supreme Court's June ruling on the patentability of software - its first in 33 years - raised as many questions at it answered. One specific software patent went down in flames in the case of Alice v. CLS Bank, but the abstract reasoning of the decision didn't provide much clarity on which other patents might be in danger.

Now a series of decisions from lower courts is starting to bring the ruling's practical practical consequences into focus. And the results have been ugly for fans of software patents. By my count there have been 10 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court's decision - including six that were decided this month. Every single one of them has led to the patent being invalidated.

This doesn't necessarily mean that all software patents are in danger - these are mostly patents that are particularly vulnerable to challenge under the new Alice precedent. But it does mean that the pendulum of patent law is now clearly swinging in an anti-patent direction. Every time a patent gets invalidated, it strengthens the bargaining position of every defendant facing a lawsuit from a patent troll.

Great news.

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First set of Android apps coming to a Chromebook near you
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-11 21:32:23

Chromebooks were designed to keep up with you on the go - they're thin and light, have long battery lives, resume instantly, and are easy to use. Today, we're making Chromebooks even more mobile by bringing the first set of Android apps to Chrome OS.

These first apps are the result of a project called the App Runtime for Chrome (Beta), which we announced earlier this summer at Google I/O. Over the coming months, we'll be working with a select group of Android developers to add more of your favorite apps so you’ll have a more seamless experience across your Android phone and Chromebook.

I was under the impression all applications would work when they announced this at I/O. I had no idea only select applications would work. That's a bit of a bummer.

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Microsoft to drop Nokia and Windows Phone brands
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-11 14:34:02

Nokia and Windows Phone are history.

Now we can confirm that Microsoft will be completely dropping the "Nokia" branding from their devices, leaving "Lumia" as the hero brand for upcoming devices. In fact we understand that the Lumia 830 and Lumia 730 will be the final two devices to launch with "Nokia" branded on the phone. Future devices will most likely carry the "Microsoft" name along with "Lumia".

Furthermore the document also reveals that Microsoft is shying away from placing the Windows Phone logo next to their devices in promotions and advertisements, and will instead place the standard Windows logo alongside them (sans the "Phone"). In fact we understand, from a source with knowledge of the plans, that this is part of the preparation to leave the "Windows Phone" logo behind, as part of a gradual phase out of the Windows Phone name (and OS) which will merge with the desktop version of Windows in the upcoming updates (i.e. no Windows Phone 9).

This is verified by The Verge's sources inside Microsoft.

So, we now not only live in the crazy world where a version 1 Google product looks (and seems to work) way better than the comparable version 1 Apple product, but also in a world where Microsoft has a very simple naming scheme, and Apple just unveiled the Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.

I will miss my worn-out Windows Mobile PocketPC Embedded 2003 Compact Standard Edition CE Service Pack 2 Pro jokes, though.

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WSJ: Microsoft to buy Minecraft maker Mojang
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-09 22:21:13

Well, file this under 'holy crap'.

Microsoft is nearing a deal to buy Mojang AB, makers of the Minecraft video game franchise, according to a new report. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal would value Mojang at more than $2 billion and could be signed as soon as this week.

No. Just no.

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Apple announces new iPhones, Apple Watch
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-09 19:46:19

It's that time of the year again: Apple announced a bunch of new products. First, the iPhone 6 and iPhone Plus - 4.7" and 5.5", with upgraded silicon, better camera, and a new design. They both look like fantastic and worthy upgrades for iOS users, although I'm sure some are going to cringe over the camera bulge and the hilarious, Samsung-y one-handed mode called Reachability (yes. That is a thing. A thing Tim Cook showed off as a feature).

Moving on, the biggest news, of course, is Apple's entry into the smartwatch market. It's called the Apple Watch, and to sum it up: they put an iPhone on your wrist - including a homescreen, endless applications, a long list of features like using it to control other Apple devices, and so on. The user interface is operated through a combination of a crown on the side of the device and the touchscreen. The touch screen can sense the difference between a tap and a press, with the latter being used a right-click sort of thing.

If this sounds complex for a watch, you're not alone. The interface looked incredibly cumbersome and complex to me - far more so than what I've seen of Android Wear. For instance, the homescreen is a grid of round, zoomed-out icons that you navigate by panning with touch, but zooming in with the crown on the side. In other words, you have to shift from screen to crown to screen to launch an application. Add in the various up/down/right/left swipes, touch+holds, and the difference between taps and presses, as well as the tiny display, and it just sounds cumbersome and complex to me. Take a look at the photos application - now zoom with the crown, pan with swipes, zoom with the crown, pan with the screen, until you find the photo you want (and remember: you have to do it all that with just one hand!). Good luck, with that.

As for the hardware - it's square, and that will most likely be the most dividing aspect of it all. Some prefer square watches, some round. I'm firmly in the round camp, and combined with the 'bulgy' and curvy design of the Apple Watch it just looks entirely unappealing to me - not to mention uncomfortable, with that huge sensor bulge pressing into your wrist. It looks and operates like a tiny computer strapped to your wrist - and that's exactly not what I would want in a smartwatch.

Then there's the weirdest thing about the Apple Watch: that awkwardly huge button underneath the crown. Press it, and it will open a messaging application, allowing you to send messages and make calls to a select group of friends (after scrolling with the crown, of course). Yes, they dedicated the only button on the device to that. It's indicative of something I'm not used to seeing from Apple: everything and the kitchen sink.

In a nutshell - it seems like the Android Wear team is a lot better at saying 'no' than the Apple Watch Team.

The Apple Watch will go on sale "early 2015", will come in two sizes, and six different materials. Straps are interchangeable. Apple only announced the price of the cheapest model (no sapphire on this one): $349. Missing from the entire presentation? Battery life. Apple made zero mentions or references to battery life, which tells you all you need to know. In current versions, it sucks. The biggest drawback? It requires an iPhone 5 or higher. Other platforms are not supported.

It's very hard to make any predictions about where this is going. Will users prefer the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink, complex approach from Apple, or the simpler, restricted approach from Google? This is a new device category, so I have absolutely no idea. This thing is either going to be Tim Cook's iPhone, or Tim Cook's Newton (Peter Bright had the same idea).

I'm not placing any bets.

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Videogames are for everybody
By Thom Holwerda on 2014-09-08 21:49:51

This, then, is what we want to articulate here: we’re now in a place where our pursuit can be made by anyone, can be about anything, and can be enjoyed almost anywhere. If games were diversifying when we started the site in 2007, now they actually have diversified. Games can be for everyone. Games are by everyone. Games are about everything. That is their great power. That is their utterly vital quality. It is why they matter so, so much.

Games can be for everybody. Games should be for everybody. They should be for you.

RPS is probably the best gaming website on the web, and this article only cements that position. Fantastic job.

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