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How Doug Engelbart pulled off the Mother of all Demos
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-10 19:17:00

Doug Engelbart was the first to actually build a computer that might seem familiar to us, today. He came to Silicon Valley after a stint in the Navy as a radar technician during World War II. Engelbart was, in his own estimation, a "naive drifter", but something about the Valley inspired him to think big. Engelbart's idea was that computers of the future should be optimized for human needs - communication and collaboration. Computers, he reasoned, should have keyboards and screens instead of punch cards and printouts. They should augment rather than replace the human intellect. And so he pulled a team together and built a working prototype: the oN‑Line System. Unlike earlier efforts, the NLS wasn't a military supercalculator. It was a general‑purpose tool designed to help knowledge workers perform better and faster, and that was a controversial idea. Letting non-engineers interact directly with a computer was seen as harebrained, utopian - subversive, even. And then people saw the demo.

Engelbart is one of the greatest visionaries of this industry.

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How a major bug in the October 2018 Update slipped past Microsoft
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-12-10 19:11:23

Last week, Microsoft began the relaunch of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update after pulling it more than a month ago due to a file deletion bug that somehow crept into the shipping build. While Microsoft has since gone into extensive detail as to how it's making sure something like this doesn't happen again, it's still unclear how such an issue made its way into the final release. So I did some digging.

Short version: Microsoft conflated two different bugs.

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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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