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Google to release Android O on 21 August
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-19 15:11:45

On August 21st, a solar eclipse will sweep across the entire United States for the first time since 1918. Android is helping you experience this historic natural phenomenon so you can learn more about the eclipse and count down to the big day - when you’ll meet the next release of Android and all of its super (sweet) new powers, revealed via livestream from New York City at 2:40PM ET.

If a new operating system version is released, but nobody's able to use it, has it really been released?

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Getting my Amiga 1000 online
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-18 22:21:14

Amiga Love has had a few articles on getting various Commodore machines back online and into the BBS world. From C64s to Amiga 500s (et al) as well as the terminal programs we use; PETSCII capable (i, ii) in case you're trying to hit an C64 BBS from your Amiga or ANSI capable, like A-Talk III, for most other boards. There are a lot of options out there, and the BBS scene is vastly smaller than back in the day, but it's not dead by any stretch. Oh no, dear reader, it is not dead. (I see four lights!) If anything, the interest in this form of socializing and connecting seems to be growing lately as hardware options become easier to build and less expensive to source.

Tonight, I finally got my Amiga 1000 online for the first time ever and connected to some of my favorite BBSes. And oh my god, have you ever seen a more beautiful sight? I doubt it. Well, at least not for about 30 years, give or take.

About 2000 years from now, Amiga will be the object of a world religion. It just cannot die.

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Retesting AMD Ryzen Threadripper's game mode
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-18 10:51:36

In this mini-test, we compared AMD's Game Mode as originally envisioned by AMD. Game Mode sits as an extra option in the AMD Ryzen Master software, compared to Creator Mode which is enabled by default. Game Mode does two things: firstly, it adjusts the memory configuration. Rather than seeing the DRAM as one uniform block of memory with an ‘average’ latency, the system splits the memory into near memory closest to the active CPU, and far memory for DRAM connected via the other silicon die. The second thing that Game Mode does is disable the cores on one of the silicon dies, but retains the PCIe lanes, IO, and DRAM support. This disables cross-die thread migration, offers faster memory for applications that need it, and aims to lower the latency of the cores used for gaming by simplifying the layout. The downside of Game Mode is raw performance when peak CPU is needed: by disabling half the cores, any throughput limited task is going to be cut by losing half of the throughput resources. The argument here is that Game mode is designed for games, which rarely use above 8 cores, while optimizing the memory latency and PCIe connectivity.

I like how AnandTech calls this a "mini" test.

In any event - even though Threadripper is probably way out of the league of us regular people, I'm really loving how AMD's recent products have lit a fire under the processor market specifically and the self-built desktop market in general. Ever since Ryzen hit the market, now joined by Vega and Threadripper, we're back to comparing numbers and arguing over which numbers are better. We're back to the early 2000s, and it feels comforting and innocent - because everyone is right and everyone is wrong, all at the same time, because everything 100% depends on your personal budget and your personal use cases and no amount of benchmarks or number crunching is going to change your budget or personal use case.

I'm loving every second of this.

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iOS 11 has a 'cop button' to temporarily disable Touch ID
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-18 10:41:28

Apple is adding an easy way to quickly disable Touch ID in iOS 11. A new setting, designed to automate emergency services calls, lets iPhone users tap the power button quickly five times to call 911. This doesn't automatically dial the emergency services by default, but it brings up the option to and also temporarily disables Touch ID until you enter a passcode. Twitter users discovered the new option in the iOS 11 public beta, and The Verge has verified it works as intended.

It's sad that we live in a world where our devices need features like this, but I commend Apple for doing so.

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Build your own Linux
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-16 22:09:00

This course walks through the creation of a 64-bit system based on the Linux kernel. Our goal is to produce a small, sleek system well-suited for hosting containers or being employed as a virtual machine.

Because we don't need every piece of functionality under the sun, we're not going to include every piece of software you might find in a typical distro. This distribution is intended to be minimal.

Building my own Linux installation from scratch has always been one of those things I've wanted to do, but never got around to. Is this still something many people do? If so, why?

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HyperCard now available on the The Archive
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by Internet Archive on 2017-08-16 22:01:53

On August 11, 1987, Bill Atkinson announced a new product from Apple for the Macintosh; a multimedia, easily programmed system called HyperCard. HyperCard brought into one sharp package the ability for a Macintosh to do interactive documents with calculation, sound, music and graphics. It was a popular package, and thousands of HyperCard “stacks” were created using the software.

Additionally, commercial products with HyperCard at their heart came to great prominence, including the original Myst program.

Flourishing for the next roughly ten years, HyperCard slowly fell by the wayside to the growing World Wide Web, and was officially discontinued as a product by Apple in 2004. It left behind a massive but quickly disappearing legacy of creative works that became harder and harder to experience.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hypercard, we’re bringing it back.

HyperCard is a lot of fun to play around with - I have an iBook G3 with OS9 and HyperCard installed, to play with - and this makes it far more accessible. Good work!

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Review: System76's Galago Pro
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-16 21:54:14

Ars Technica:

The Galago Pro was my daily machine for about a month. While I had some issues as noted above (I don't like the trackpad or the keyboard), by and large it's the best stock Linux machine. The only place where the Dell XPS 13 blows it out of the water is in battery life. As someone who lives full time in an RV and relies on a very limited amount of solar power (300w) for all my energy needs, that battery life is a deal breaker. But in nearly every other regard, this is by far my favorite laptop, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

There is something that comes up in the comments of nearly every review of System76 hardware, and that's how the company doesn't build its own hardware. System76 orders everything from upstream hardware vendors, and, in the case of the Galago Pro, that would be the Clevo N130BU (or N131BU). I've never quite understood what the issue is, but it certainly seems to rub some people the wrong way. Could you save a couple bucks by ordering the Clevo directly? Sure, but you'd have no support, no custom PPA to fix hardware issues, and no community to get involved in. If you just want a dirt-cheap Linux rig, try eBay. What System76 offers is great Linux experience with a piece of hardware that's maybe not the absolute cheapest hardware.

However, that is going to change. In addition to launching its own don't-call-it-a-distro OS, the company has announced that will soon begin what it calls "phase three" - moving its product design and manufacturing in-house. There, it hopes to "build the Model S of computers." It's a bold move, starting up hardware manufacturing and an operating system at the same time. It's the kind of plan that might well lead to overextending oneself (after all, even Canonical has backed away from making its own desktop OS).

I'm genuinely curious what System76's in-house Linux laptop will be like.

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An introduction to quantum computing, without the physics
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-15 23:21:30

This paper is a gentle but rigorous introduction to quantum computing intended for computer scientists. Starting from a small set of assumptions on the behavior of quantum computing devices, we analyze their main characteristics, stressing the differences with classical computers, and finally describe two well-known algorithms (Simon's algorithm and Grover's algorithm) using the formalism developed in previous sections. This paper does not touch on the physics of the devices, and therefore does not require any notion of quantum mechanics.

Some light reading before bedtime.

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Smart lock vendor accidentally bricks customers' locks
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-15 23:15:34

A perk of connected devices, or at least what gadget manufacturers will tell you, is they can receive over-the-air updates to keep your device current. Those updates don't always go as planned, however. In fact, they can go horribly wrong. Take a company called Lockstate, for example, which attempted to issue new software to its LS6i smart locks last week and ended up bricking devices. That isn't great.

I don't know what these people were expecting.

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GoDaddy, Google blacklist Nazi website Daily Stormer
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-14 23:08:57

For years, the website Daily Stormer has promoted hatred against Jews, black people, LGBT people, and other minorities, making it one of the Internet's most infamous destinations. But on Sunday, editor Andrew Anglin outdid himself by publishing a vulgar, slut-shaming article about Heather Heyer, a woman who was killed when someone rammed a car into a crowd of anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville.

The article prompted a response from the site's domain registrar, GoDaddy. "We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service," GoDaddy wrote in a tweet late Sunday night.

On Monday, the Daily Stormer switched its registration to Google's domain service. Within hours, Google announced a cancellation of its own. "We are cancelling Daily Stormer’s registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service," the company wrote in an statement emailed to Ars.

No company should do business with nazis and white supremacists - ever. Still waiting on the darling of the podcasting industry, SquareSpace, to stop doing business with nazis. We can't remove these sites - and its creators and their philosophy - from existence, but at least we can make life as difficult as possible for them.

And, since far too many people in the west do not understand free speech - kicking nazis out of your (virtual) store or house is free speech.

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