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The FCC just killed net neutrality
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-14 19:46:50

Net neutrality is dead - at least for now. In a 3-2 vote today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a measure to remove the tough net neutrality rules it put in place just two years ago. Those rules prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes. They also classified internet providers as Title II common carriers in order to give the measure strong legal backing.

Today's vote undoes all of that. It removes the Title II designation, preventing the FCC from putting tough net neutrality rules in place even if it wanted to. And, it turns out, the Republicans now in charge of the FCC really don’t want to. The new rules largely don’t prevent internet providers from doing anything. They can block, throttle, and prioritize content if they wish to. The only real rule is that they have to publicly state that they’re going to do it.

Nobody wanted the FCC to vote like this. Public support for net neutrality is massive. The only reason this is happening is pure, unbridled corruption at the very root of the American political system.

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Haiku's first beta is possibly maybe not too far off
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-13 23:54:39

I've now turned my attention to preparation for beta1. Already talk has resumed on the mailing list of a tentative schedule; there still remains too much to do to expect it before the new year, but with the list of blockers now reduced effectively to two (one relating to installing source packages on the actual release image, which I intend to look into solving soon; the other is about clashing mime supertype declaration and may prove trickier to solve), the actual "release branch" is hopefully not more than a month away.

I've already begun drafting release notes and making build system cleanups as part of preparation. There is finally light at the end of the tunnel - don't give up hope yet. :)

I'm just putting it out there that if all goes according to plan, I'll be spending lots of time in a nice Haiku virtual machine over the coming weeks to get a really good look at the state of the continuation of the best operating system ever made.

It's time.

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Android Wear gets updated to Android 8.0 Oreo
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-13 23:45:29

Remember Android Wear? Google's struggling smartwatch OS is getting updated to Android 8.0 Oreo, just like the rest of the Android lineup. Google announced the update on the "Android Wear Developers" Google Plus group. It seems like the only supported watch right now is the flagship LG Watch Sport, which makes sense since that was the only watch to get an Android O beta in the beginning of October.

Wear's last big update was Android Wear 2.0, which was released with the LG Watch Sport the beginning of the year. Most users won't notice the move to Oreo. Like Android TV, Android Wear has its own interface and set of features that are developed separately from the base OS version. This update to Oreo changes the under-the-hood OS, but the user-facing features will mostly remain unchanged.

It feels like Android Wear is stuck in limbo - not exactly dead, but it doesn't seem like there's much activity or forward momentum either. Also I keep forgetting Google Plus is even a thing.

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AMD pushing out open-source Vulkan driver
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-13 23:31:28

Ahead of the Vulkan 1.0 debut nearly two years ago, we heard that for AMD's Vulkan Linux driver it was initially going to be closed-source and would then be open-sourced once ready. At the time it sounded like something that would be opened up six months or so, but finally that milestone is being reached! Ahead of Christmas, AMD is publishing the source code to their official Vulkan Linux driver.

There's some minor caveats noted in the linked article, but this is looking like great news.

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Apple makes iMac Pro available for order
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-12 22:45:59

Apple has made the iMac Pro available to order, but since we already know all the details about its specifications, there's one particular aspect I'd like to focus on: the iMac Pro contains new Apple-developed silicon. It's called the T2, and as described by Cabel Sasser:

The iMac Pro features new apple custom silicon: the T2 chip. It integrates previously discrete components, like the SMC, ISP for the camera, audio control, SSD control... plus a secure enclave, and a hardware encryption engine. This new chip means storage encryption keys pass from the secure enclave to the hardware encryption engine in-chip - your key never leaves the chip. And, they it allows for hardware verification of OS, kernel, boot loader, firmware, etc. (This can be disabled...)

The screenshot he posted shows what the hardware verification dialog for things like the operating system and bootloader looks like. As long as we can turn security measures like this off - as we can on, e.g., Chromebooks - this is a good development. Now all we have to do is hope these companies don't abuse this kind of technology.

We can hope.

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Microsoft adds an OpenSSH client to Windows 10
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-12 22:21:47

Ask just about any *NIX admin using a Windows laptop and they will have come across Putty. For years, Apple MacBooks have been the go-to choice for many admins partly because getting to a ssh shell is so easy. The newly re-invigorated Microsoft is changing how easy it is to interface with Linux (and other *NIX flavors) significantly with features like Ubuntu on Windows. There is a new beta feature in Windows 10 that may just see the retirement of Putty from many users: an OpenSSH client and OpenSSH server application for Windows.

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Microsoft releases free preview of Quantum Development Kit
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-12 22:19:57

Microsoft is releasing a free preview version of its Quantum Development Kit, which includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator and other resources for people who want to start writing applications for a quantum computer. The Q# programming language was built from the ground up specifically for quantum computing.

Read the announcement blog post for more information.

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Here's what happens when an 18 year old buys a mainframe
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-11 20:25:03

From the comments on the previous story:

Connor Krukosky is an 18-year-old college student with a hobby of collecting vintage computers. One day, he decided to buy his own mainframe... An IBM z890. This is his story.

Grab a warm drink, and enjoy. This is great.

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Creating a Christmas card on a vintage IBM 1401 mainframe
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-10 23:54:47

I recently came across a challenge to print a holiday greeting card on a vintage computer, so I decided to make a card on a 1960s IBM 1401 mainframe. The IBM 1401 computer was a low-end business mainframe announced in 1959, and went on to become the most popular computer of the mid-1960s, with more than 10,000 systems in use. The 1401's rental price started at $2500 a month (about $20,000 in current dollars), a low price that made it possible for even a medium-sized business to have a computer for payroll, accounting, inventory, and many other tasks. Although the 1401 was an early all-transistorized computer, these weren't silicon transistors - the 1401 used germanium transistors, the technology before silicon. It used magnetic core memory for storage, holding 16,000 characters.

Some people have access to the coolest stuff.

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Making a Game Boy game in 2017
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-10 23:51:18

Everyone has childhood dreams. Mine was to make a game for my fist console: the Nintendo Game Boy. Today, I fulfilled this dream, by releasing my first Game Boy game on a actual cartridge: Sheep It Up!

In this article, I'll present the tools I used, and some pitfalls a newcomer like me had to overcome to make this project a reality!

This isn't simply a ROM you run in an emulator - no, this is a real Game Boy cartridge. Amazing work.

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