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Android Emulator picks up support for Fuchsia's Zircon kernel
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-08 02:12:53

With yesterday's Flutter Live event and the stable release of Flutter, one of the primary ways to create Fuchsia apps, Google is one step closer to possibly unveiling their in-development operating system. Another unexpected step is coming, in the form of the official Android Emulator from Android Studio gaining the ability to boot Fuchsia's Zircon kernel.

While Google can be quite fickle, I feel every step forward for Fuchsia is a step towards the grave for Android/Linux.

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Google Play Services no longer supports Android 4.0
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-08 01:43:06

The Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) platform is seven years old and the active device count has been below 1% for some time. Consequently, we are deprecating support for ICS in future releases of Google Play services. For devices running ICS, the Google Play Store will no longer update Play Services APK beyond version 14.7.99.

Seven years seems reasonable.

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BATAS 8086 assembler written in MS-DOS batch files
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-08 00:42:58

This is a 8086 assembler written in MSDOS batch. It depends on just two utilities: RPN.COM and APPFB.COM, the rest is completely in batch.

This is wizardry, right?

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Goodbye, EdgeHTML
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-08 00:39:29

Mozilla's response to Microsoft adopting Chromium.

Microsoft is officially giving up on an independent shared platform for the internet. By adopting Chromium, Microsoft hands over control of even more of online life to Google.

This may sound melodramatic, but it's not. The "browser engines" - Chromium from Google and Gecko Quantum from Mozilla - are "inside baseball" pieces of software that actually determine a great deal of what each of us can do online. They determine core capabilities such as which content we as consumers can see, how secure we are when we watch content, and how much control we have over what websites and services can do to us. Microsoft's decision gives Google more ability to single-handedly decide what possibilities are available to each one of us.

The question is now how long Firefox will be able to survive. The cold and harsh truth is that Firefox usage hasn't exactly been trending upwards, and with even Microsoft throwing its full weight behind Chromium, even more web developers won't even bother to test against anything other than Chromium and Apple's WebKit. How long can Mozilla and Firefox survive this reality?

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A visual defragmenter for the Commodore 64
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-08 00:33:52

For decades, PC users have been able to relax by watching the computer defragment a disk. Now C64 users can do the same! Introducing "defrag1541", a disk defragmentation tool for C64 and 1541.

Once I manage to procure a proper fully kitted-out C64, there's a whole world of 'modern' software written long after the computer's lifespan to experience.

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LG Releases Gram 17 laptop: ultra-thin, 17.3" display
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-08 00:22:53

Due to their size and lack of portability, 17-inch notebooks are not exactly popular among road warriors. Instead this is largely the domain of desktop replacement-class machines, which in turn has caused 17-inch laptops to be built bigger still in order to maximize their performance and emphasize the replacement aspect. Every now and then however we see a 17-inch laptop that still tries to be reasonably portable, and this is the case with LG's latest gram laptop, which hit the market this week.

Equipped with a 17.3-inch screen featuring a 2560×1600 resolution, the LG gram 17 comes in a dark silver Carbon Magnesium alloy chassis that is only 17.8 mm (0.7 inches) thick, which is thinner than most 15-inch notebooks (in fact, this even thinner than the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15). Meanwhile, the laptop weighs 1.33 kilograms (2.95 pounds), which is in line with many 13-inch mobile PCs. As a result, while the 17-inch gram still has a relatively large footprint, its still a relatively portable laptop.

I'm genuinely surprised LG decided to put this 17-incher on the market - consider it a sort of spiritual successor to the 17" PowerBook G4, in my view one of the best laptops ever made. It seems like the market has pretty much settled on 12"-13", with a few professional and low-end laptops offering a 15" screen. I hope this LG laptop is at least even a modest success, because I'd love for more 17" laptops to make it to market.

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Microsoft announces switch to Chromium for Edge
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-06 17:12:51

It's official.

For the past few years, Microsoft has meaningfully increased participation in the open source software (OSS) community, becoming one of the world's largest supporters of OSS projects. Today we're announcing that we intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers.

As part of this, we intend to become a significant contributor to the Chromium project, in a way that can make not just Microsoft Edge - but other browsers as well - better on both PCs and other devices. The new Edge

Microsoft also has plans to bring Edge to other platforms, such as macOS. In addition, and perhaps most surprisingly, the new Edge will not be a UWP application - it will be a Win32 application that will also be available to Windows 7 and 8 users.

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What is Windows Lite?
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-06 01:43:42

Microsoft is working on a new version of Windows that may not actually be Windows. It's currently called Lite, based on documentation found in the latest build, and I can confirm that this version of the OS is targeting Chromebooks. In fact, there are markings all over the latest release of the insider builds and SDK that help us understand where this OS is headed.

If you have heard this before, it should sound a lot like Windows 10 S and RT; Windows 10 Lite only runs PWAs and UWP apps and strips out everything else. This is finally a truly a lightweight version of Windows that isn’t only in the name. This is not a version of the OS that will run in the enterprise or even small business environments and I don’t think you will be able to ‘buy’ the OS either; OEM only may be the way forward.

[...]

And there's something a bit different about Lite that we haven't seen from every attempt at launching this type of software in the past: it may not be called Windows. With a new name and a different UI, uses WCOS, and is going to be Microsoft's next 'big bet' in the Windows space.

All I'll say is that you should keep an eye on Build 2019.

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Riding in Waymo One, Google's first self-driving taxi service
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-05 23:36:55

Waymo, the self-driving subsidiary of Alphabet, launched its first commercial autonomous ride-hailing service here in the Phoenix suburbs on Wednesday - a momentous moment for the former Google self-driving project that has been working on the technology for almost a decade. I was one of the lucky few to test out the company's robot taxi experience a week before the launch. And I say "lucky" because to ride in one of Waymo's autonomous minivans, not only do you have to live in one of four suburbs around Phoenix, but you also have to be in a very exclusive, 400-person club called the Early Riders.

I want this technology to work.

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Qualcomm announces the details of the Snapdragon 855
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-05 23:09:47

Today is the second day of Qualcomm's Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, and while yesterday was all about 5G and a teaser for its new chipset, today is all about the Snapdragon 855. The new chipset is built on a 7nm architecture, promising faster speeds, better battery life, and improved connectivity.

[...]

But as far as general performance goes, Qualcomm says that its Kryo 485 cores will offer a 45% boost, and the Adreno 640 GPU will show a 20% increase. With the firm's Snapdragon Elite Gaming Platform, gamers will be able to play in HDR with physically based rendering (PBR).

If these numbers hold up - only independent benchmarking will tell - this will go a ways to closing the wide gap with Apple's current offering at least partially.

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