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DTrace for Linux 2016
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-27 19:23:20

With the final major capability for BPF tracing (timed sampling) merging in Linux 4.9-rc1, the Linux kernel now has raw capabilities similar to those provided by DTrace, the advanced tracer from Solaris. As a long time DTrace user and expert, this is an exciting milestone! On Linux, you can now analyze the performance of applications and the kernel using production-safe low-overhead custom tracing, with latency histograms, frequency counts, and more.

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Apple updates MacBook Pro
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-27 19:17:58

Apple today announced the all-new MacBook Pro, confirming that the new computer will come in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, in both Silver and Space Gray color options. The MacBooks are thinner and lighter than their previous generations, come with a Trackpad that's larger than the ones on the previous MacBooks, and have a redesigned keyboard for better typing.

Apple calls it "the most powerful MacBook Pro ever," and the 13-inch model features a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage. The 15-inch version has a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, 16GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage. Both computers reach "up to 2.3 times the graphics performance" of the previous generation.


No new iMacs (more than one year since last update), no new Mac Mini (two years since last update), no new Mac Pro (three years since last update). Apple totally cares about the Mac, folks.

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Microsoft unveils Surface Studio
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-26 21:21:04

Microsoft held a Windows and Surface event today, and among a number of announcements, the star of the show was the Surface Studio, a downright beautiful all-in-one designed entirely for creative professionals. The huge 28" 4500x3000 3:2 aspect ration display with Adobe sRGB and DCI-P can be tilted downwards to turn the Studio into a huge drawing surface.

As the product video demonstrates, this is not a device for the average user, or even for every power user - every aspect of it seems to be designed specifically for designers, graphics artists, possibly video editors, and people of similar profession. I love the Surface Dial, which can be used both on the display and on a desk to control context-specific actions, like changing the colour output of your drawing tool or select thickness of the output, and countless other things.

It's got a sxith generation Core i5 or i7, a GTX 965M 2GB (Core i5) or GTX 980M 4GB (Core i7) graphics chip, up to 32GB of RAM, and the usual array of ports and connections. This is clearly a niche device, and the price underlines that: the Surface Studio starts at a whopping $2999. Which is quite a lot, especially taking the video chip into account.

Penny Arcade's artist Mike "Gabe" Krahulik has been using a Surface Studio for the past week, and posted his thoughts on his blog.

When I first saw the device months ago in that secret room at MS, they asked me what I thought. I said, "Well I have no idea if anyone else will want it, but you have made my dream computer." I recognize that not everyone needs or wants a computer they can draw on. Some people do though and I will tell you that the Surface Studio is without a doubt the best digital drawing experience I have ever tried. I was trying to help Tycho understand why the Studio was so exciting. I spend 6 to 10 hours a day drawing digitally and I have for more than a decade. The Cintiq and the Surface, these are like my tools or my instruments. I am intimately familiar with how it feels to create things on these sorts of devices and the Studio honestly feels like a generational leap forward. If you are a digital artist and you are currently working on a Cintiq you have to go to a MS store and look at the Studio. I've always given you my honest take on this stuff and this time is no different even though I can't think of anything bad to say. If you draw on computers the Surface Studio is something very special.

Following Twitter during the unveiling of the Surface Studio was an entirely surreal experience, with a ton of genuine excitement over the product - something I haven't seen in a long, long time in this jaded industry. Specifically remarkable, though, was the response from the Apple and Mac/iOS developer and creative professional community - an endless stream of harsh jabs and words directed at Apple for so blatantly ignoring the creative professional community for years now, while Microsoft seems to be making a power play to win their hearts. It was quite the jarring experience.

The general consensus seems to be that Apple really needs to bring more to the table tomorrow than some updated internals and a SideShow ripoff to reconquer the hearts of the creative professionals it seemingly has abandoned.

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Workbench 3.1, Kickstart 3.1 updates released
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-26 11:04:20

Hyperion Entertainment is pleased to announce the first official Workbench 3.1 and Kickstart 3.1 updates in over twenty years for Classic Amiga systems. The new versions, which have have been re-built from the original source code, include a number of enhancements and bug fixes and are fully compatible with both real Amiga hardware and Classic Amiga emulation software.

An additional update to address some bugs has already been released as well.

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Xiaomi unveils iPhone 8
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-25 10:42:29

Xiaomi just unveiled their copy of the next iPhone, and it looks pretty great.

Nothing says sci-fi like a bezel-less screen, and Xiaomi's newly announced Mi Mix Android phablet is very sci-fi with its 91.3 percent screen-to-body ratio. This 6.4-inch device has just been announced as a concept phone by the Chinese company, but weirdly enough, it has a price, ¥3,499 ($516), and a release date of November 4th in its home country.

Think of every out-there spec you could cram into a phone and the Xiaomi Mi Mix probably has it. The rear of this handset and its side buttons are both made out of ceramic. The display is curved at the corners - just like that Sharp prototype we recently saw - and all the top-mounted sensors have been removed. The proximity sensor has been replaced by ultrasound, the earpiece has been replaced with a piezoelectric speaker that uses the metal frame to generate sound, and the front-facing camera is relocated to the bottom (though the phone can thankfully be rotated upside down for more flattering selfies).

It's quite likely the next iPhone will do away with the top and bottom bezel entirely in favour of a display much like this one. There's also been some talk about a ceramic iPhone, also just like this Xiaomi phone. It's pretty blatantly shameless that Xiaomi is ripping off the next iPhone, and I hope Obama (or Clinton, the next president) bans Xiaomi from shipping this shameless ripoff of the next iPhone from sales in the US to protect Apple's courageous innovation from these foul Asian companies.

The shamelessness is just unbelievable here. I can't believe we live in a world that allows Asian companies to copy future Apple products. It makes me sick.

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IDC: already small smartwatch market collapses
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-24 21:06:01

The worldwide smartwatch market experienced a round of growing pains in the third quarter of 2016 (3Q16), resulting in a year-over-year decline in shipment volumes. According to data from the International Data Corporation, (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, total smartwatch volumes reached 2.7 million units shipped in 3Q16, a decrease of 51.6% from the 5.6 million units shipped in 3Q15. Although the decline is significant, it is worth noting that 3Q15 was the first time Apple's Watch had widespread retail availability after a limited online launch. Meanwhile, the second generation Apple Watch was only available in the last two weeks of 3Q16.

Only 2.7 million units worldwide? That's a rounding error. Apple experienced a 72% year-over-year decline in sales, to just 1.1 million Apple Watches in Q3 2016. No wonder Apple is refusing to release sales figures for the Apple Watch. Meanwhile, there's no new Android Wear devices coming out this year, and the next big Wear update has been postponed to next year, so Wear is effectively dead. Samsung, Pebble, and the others barely even register.

Of course, IDC, etc. etc., but even if these figures are off by, say, 10%, the smartwatch market is still looking like a flop.

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A new impossible coin in Super Mario 64
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-24 18:44:57

I show that there's yet another impossible coin in the game, located in the huge version of Tiny-Huge Island. Specifically, there's a coin spawner there that's intended to spawn 5 coins in a horizontal line on the ground. However, this coin spawner's located under the ground, causing the most uphill coin to not load properly. In particular, this coin spawns about 49 units below the ground, triggering a failsafe that causes the coin to immediately unload. Currently, there's no known way to collect this coin.

This video is just all around great. No ifs and buts - just great.

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Google dropped ban on personally identifiable web tracking
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-22 09:21:58

When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company's "number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products."

And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick's massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts.

But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand - literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default. In its place, Google substituted new language that says browsing habits "may be" combined with what the company learns from the use Gmail and other tools.

The web, by definition, isn't private. The web is like a busy shopping street; you wouldn't shout your secrets for everyone to hear there either. The sooner people accept this fact, the better they'll be for it. Note that I'm not saying I'm happy about this fact - I'm just saying it is what it is. There's nothing any of us can do about it, until authorities or regulators start stepping in.

That being said, Google published a statement about this, stating this change is opt-in.

Our advertising system was designed before the smartphone revolution. It offered user controls and determined ads' relevance, but only on a per-device basis. This past June we updated our ads system, and the associated user controls, to match the way people use Google today: across many different devices. Before we launched this update, we tested it around the world with the goal of understanding how to provide users with clear choice and transparency. As a result, it is 100% optional - if users do not opt-in to these changes, their Google experience will remain unchanged. Equally important: we provided prominent user notifications about this change in easy-to-understand language as well as simple tools that let users control or delete their data. Users can access all of their account controls by visiting My Account and we're pleased that more than a billion have done so in its first year alone.

You can opt-out in the Activity Controls section of your Google account settings.

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Nintendo unveils its new console: Nintendo Switch
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-20 14:36:05

Nintendo just unveiled its new gaming console - it's called the Nintendo Switch, and it allows you to play both on your TV and while on the go, with the same console and controllers. The introduction video shows very well what the console can do, and I have to admit - it looks pretty awesome.

As both a console and a portable device, the Nintendo Switch will use cartridges known as Game Cards. The portability is one of the system's most important features; Nintendo's trailer showed people using the Switch in handheld mode on a plane, in a car and on a city rooftop. Nintendo said that people can bring multiple Switch units into the same place for "local multiplayer face-to-face competition."

No information on pricing yet, but it should be available March 2017. It's powered by Nvidia hardware, but that's about all we know about its capabilities. I'm quite curious to see if the device takes a performance hit once you undock it and use it on the go.

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"Pixel, iPhone 7, and grading on a curve"
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-10-20 10:08:55

iMore's Rene Ritchie, linked by Daring Fireball's John Gruber:

So, everyone who'd been criticizing Apple and iPhone design immediately called Google out for aping it?

Not so much.

Except, every Pixel review did call Google out for this.

Surely they drew the line at Google's 2016 flagship missing optical image stabilization - not just in the regular-size, but in the Plus XL model as well - stereo speakers, and water resistance - things that were pointed to last year as indicators Apple was falling behind?

Turns out, not deal-breakers either.

Except, every Pixel review did call Google out for this. Here's a quick cut/paste image job I did yesterday, highlighting how Pixel reviews did, in fact, call out Google and the Pixel for the things Ritchie claims they are not calling them out for.

It's almost like the Pixel is being graded on a curve.

When you're as deeply enveloped in the Apple bubble as people like Rene Ritchie and John Gruber, reality inside the bubble starts folding in on itself. You sit deep inside your bubble, and when you look outwards, the curves and bends of the bubble's surface twist and turn reality outside of the bubble into ever more grotesque and malformed versions of it.

Ever since the unveiling of the Pixel up to and including the reviews published yesterday, everybody in the technology media has been pointing out the exact same things Ritchie claims are not being pointed out. The amount of mental gymnastics and selective perception one must undertake - one could call such exercises flat-out lies - to claim that the major technology media is "against Apple" or "grading [the Pixel] on a curve" is so humongous that I honestly didn't think it was realistically and humanly possible.

And I say this as someone who once got a flood of really nasty and angry emails because OSNews had not yet separated the FreeBSD category and its icon from the generic BSD category, so FreeBSD and Dragonfly BSD people alike were furious at me for putting a Dragonfly BSD story in the generic BSD category because it had a FreeBSD icon. I've been around the block when it comes to the kind of reality-warping, deeply idiotic bullshit the technology world can conjure up over absolutely nothing.

When I was 17, I went on a trip to Rome, the most beautiful city in the world. As I stood atop the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, looking down upon the countless tourists swarming St. Peter's Square, I realised how easy it would be to lose touch with the people down there if you spent most of your time up here.

The bubble is no different.

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