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LG releases webOS as open source again
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by jcarrascal on 2018-03-20 18:33:07

Pretty big news out of LG - they're releasing their variant of webOS - the TV and smartwatch one - as open source.

webOS is a web-centric and usability-focused software platform for smart devices. The operating system has constantly evolved, passing through its journey from Palm to HP, and most recently to LG Electronics. Now, we are releasing webOS as an open source project, named webOS Open Source Edition (OSE).

This marks the second time webOS has been released as open source. It's released under the Apache License, version 2, and there's instructions for getting it to run on a Raspberry Pi 3.

We are a truly open project. You will see us working in the open like any community member, so you can see what we're doing in real time. We operate using typical open practices: the Project uses the Apache 2.0 license, is hosted on GitHub, and accepts contributions via a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) approach. As the community grows and individuals and organizations emerge who make significant contributions, it is our intention to invite them into the governance of the Project.

It seems like a truly open project, but at the same time, one has to wonder what this means for webOS' commercial future at LG. The cold and harsh truth is that moves like this generally mean the end of commercial viability, not the beginning. This isn't necessarily a problem though - at least this move ensures the code and operating system will continue to exist.

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How (and why) we ported Shenzen Solitaire to MS-DOS
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-03-20 18:14:23

Can two programmers who are accustomed to making games for modern computers with gigabytes of RAM and high-color HD displays port one of their games to MS-DOS? Neither of us had any experience developing on such old hardware, but since working within artificially limited systems is something of a Zachtronics game design specialty, we felt compelled to try!

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Microsoft to force Mail links to open in Edge
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-03-17 01:47:59

For Windows Insiders in the Skip Ahead ring, we will begin testing a change where links clicked on within the Windows Mail app will open in Microsoft Edge, which provides the best, most secure and consistent experience on Windows 10 and across your devices. With built-in features for reading, note-taking, Cortana integration, and easy access to services such as SharePoint and OneDrive, Microsoft Edge enables you to be more productive, organized and creative without sacrificing your battery life or security.

I'm one of those weird people who actually really like the default Windows 10 Mail application, but if this absolutely desperate, user-hostile move - which ignores any default browser setting - makes it into any definitive Windows 10 release, I won't be able to use it anymore.

As always, we look forward to feedback from our WIP community.

Oh you'll get something to look forward to alright.

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iOS 11 bugs are so common they now appear in Apple ads
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-03-17 01:40:41

If you blink during Apple’s latest iPhone ad, you might miss a weird little animation bug. It’s right at the end of a slickly produced commercial, where the text from an iMessage escapes the animated bubble it’s supposed to stay inside. It’s a minor issue and easy to brush off, but the fact it’s captured in such a high profile ad just further highlights Apple’s many bugs in iOS 11.

The fact Apple's marketing department signed off on this ad with such a bug in it is baffling.

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Google renames Android Wear to Wear OS
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-03-17 01:36:27

As our technology and partnerships have evolved, so have our users. In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone. So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we’re announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all - the people who wear our watches. We’re now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone.

If a company changes the name of one of its operating system, but nobody cares - has the name really been changed?

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The Amiga Consciousness
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-03-15 00:52:38

There exists a global community, a loosely knit consciousness of individuals that crosses boundaries of language and artistic disciplines. It resides in both the online and physical space, its followers are dedicated, if not fervent. The object and to some extent, philosophy that unites these adherents, is a computer system called the Commodore Amiga. So why does a machine made by a company that went bankrupt in 1994 have a cult like following? Throughout this essay I will present to you, the reader, a study of qualitative data that has been collected at community events, social gatherings and conversations. The resulting narrative is intended to illuminate the origins of the community, how it is structured and how members participate in it. Game industry professionals, such as the person interviewed during the research for this paper, will attest to the properties, characteristics and creative application of the machine, and how this creativity plays a role in the sphere of their community. I will examine the bonds of the society, to determine if the creative linage of the computer plays a role in community interactions.

The Amiga community is probably one of the most fascinating technology subcommunity out there. Lots of infighting, various competing Amiga operating systems, incredibly expensive but still outdated hardware, dubious ownership situations - it's all there. Yet, they keep going, they keep pushing out new software and new hardware, and they're in no danger of falling apart.


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A $1.6 billion Spotify lawsuit is based on player pianos
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-03-15 00:46:21

Spotify is finally gearing up to go public, and the company’s February 28th filing with the SEC offers a detailed look at its finances. More than a decade after Spotify’s launch in 2006, the world’s leading music streaming service is still struggling to turn a profit, reporting a net loss of nearly $1.5 billion last year. Meanwhile, the company has some weird lawsuits hanging over its head, the most eye-popping being the $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by Wixen Publishing, a music publishing company that includes the likes of Tom Petty, The Doors, and Rage Against the Machine.

So, what happened here? Did Spotify really fail to pay artists to the tune of a billion dollars all the while losing money? Is digital streaming just a black hole that sucks up money and spits it out into the cold vacuum of space?

The answer is complicated.

The answer involves something called "player pianos". You can't make this stuff up.

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Security researchers publish Ryzen flaws
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-03-14 00:49:51

Through the advent of Meltdown and Spectre, there is a heightened element of nervousness around potential security flaws in modern high-performance processors, especially those that deal with the core and critical components of company business and international infrastructure. Today, CTS-Labs, a security company based in Israel, has published a whitepaper identifying four classes of potential vulnerabilities of the Ryzen, EPYC, Ryzen Pro, and Ryzen Mobile processor lines. AMD is in the process of responding to the claims, but was only given 24 hours of notice rather than the typical 90 days for standard vulnerability disclosure. No official reason was given for the shortened time.

Nothing in technology is safe. As always, my advice is to treat any data on a phone or computer as potentially compromisable.

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Trump blocks Broadcom's bid for Qualcomm
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-03-14 00:43:59

President Trump on Monday blocked Broadcom's $117 billion bid for the chip maker Qualcomm, citing national security concerns and sending a clear signal that he was willing to take extraordinary measures to promote his administration’s increasingly protectionist stance.

In a presidential order, Mr. Trump said "credible evidence" had led him to believe that if Singapore-based Broadcom were to acquire control of Qualcomm, it "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States." The acquisition, if it had gone through, would have been the largest technology deal in history.

This US administration would eventually stumble onto doing the right thing - infinite monkeys and all that - so here we are. To explain why this is a good move, Ben Thompson's article about this issue is a fantastic, must-read explainer.

There is a certain amount of irony here: the government is intervening in the private market to stop the sale of a company that is being bought because of government-granted monopolies. Sadly, I doubt it will occur to anyone in government to fix the problem at its root, and Qualcomm would be the first to fight against the precise measures - patent overhaul - that would do more than anything to ensure the company remains independent and incentivized to spend even more on innovation, because its future would depend on innovation to a much greater degree than it does now.

The reality is that technology has flipped the entire argument for patents - that they spur innovation - completely on its head. The very nature of technology - that costs are fixed and best maximized over huge user-bases, along with the presence of network effects - mean there are greater returns to innovation than ever before. The removal of most technology patents would not reduce the incentive to innovate; indeed, given that a huge number of software patents in particular are violated on accident (unsurprising, given that software is ultimately math), their removal would spur more. And, as Qualcomm demonstrates, one could even argue such a shift would be good for national security.

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Looking at Lumina Desktop 2.0
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by judgen on 2018-03-13 01:10:10

TrueOS, formerly PC-BSD, has a desktop environment called Lumina. It's getting a big overhaul for Lumina 2.0, and this short interview gives some more details about what's coming.

With Lumina Desktop 2.0 we will finally achieve our long-term goal of turning Lumina into a complete, end-to-end management system for the graphical session and removing all the current runtime dependencies from Lumina 1.x (Fluxbox, xscreensaver, compton/xcompmgr). The functionality from those utilities is now provided by Lumina Desktop itself.


The entire graphical interface has been written in QML in order to fully-utilize hardware-based GPU acceleration with OpenGL while the backend logic and management systems are still written entirely in C++. This results in blazing fast performance on the backend systems (myriad multi-threaded C++ objects) as well as a smooth and responsive graphical interface with all the bells and whistles (drag and drop, compositing, shading, etc).

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