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How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor 276

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
smaxp writes In 2007, Sony's supply chain lessons, the network effect from the shift to Intel architecture, and a better OS X for developers combined to renew the Mac's growth. The network effects of the Microsoft Wintel ecosystem that Rappaport explained 20 years ago in the Harvard Business Review are no longer a big advantage. By turning itself into a premium PC company with a proprietary OS, Apple has taken the best of PC ecosystem, but avoided taking on the disadvantages.
Operating Systems

The Classic Control Panel In Windows May Be Gone 345

Posted by timothy
from the good-riddance-or-sorely-missed dept.
jones_supa writes In Windows 8, there was an arrangement of two settings applications: the Control Panel for the desktop and the PC Settings app in the Modern UI side. With Windows 10, having the two different applications has started to look even more awkward, which has been voiced loud and clear in the feedback too. Thus, the work at Microsoft to unify the settings programs has begun. The traditional Control Panel is being transformed to something temporarily called "zPC Settings" (sic), which is a Modern UI app that melts together the current two settings applications.

Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the history-revealed dept.
zonker writes: In 1970, the Xerox Corporation established the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) with the goal to develop an "architecture of information" and lay the groundwork for future electronic office products. The pioneering Alto project that began in 1972 invented or refined many of the fundamental hardware and software ideas upon which our modern devices are based, including raster displays, mouse pointing devices, direct-manipulation user interfaces, windows and menus, the first WYSIWYG word processor, and Ethernet.

The first Altos were built as research prototypes. By the fall of 1976 PARC's research was far enough along that a Xerox product group started to design products based on their prototypes. Ultimately, ~1,500 were built and deployed throughout the Xerox Corporation, as well as at universities and other sites. The Alto was never sold as a product but its legacy served as inspiration for the future.

With the permission of the Palo Alto Research Center, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use only, snapshots of Alto source code, executables, documentation, font files, and other files from 1975 to 1987. The files are organized by the original server on which they resided at PARC that correspond to files that were restored from archive tapes. An interesting look at retro-future.
Operating Systems

More Eye Candy Coming To Windows 10 209

Posted by timothy
from the sincere-flattery dept.
jones_supa writes Microsoft is expected to release a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview in the very near future, according to their own words. The only build so far to be released to the public is 9841 but the next iteration will likely be in the 9860 class of releases. With this new build, Microsoft has polished up the animations that give the OS a more comprehensive feel. When you open a new window, it flies out on to the screen from the icon and when you minimize it, it collapses back in to the icon on the taskbar. It is a slick animation and if you have used OS X, it is similar to the one used to collapse windows back in to the dock. Bah.

Debian's Systemd Adoption Inspires Threat of Fork 549

Posted by timothy
from the tine-to-weigh-priorities dept.
New submitter Tsolias writes It appears that systemd is still a hot topic in the Debian community. As seen earlier today, there is a new movement shaping up against the adoption of systemd for the upcoming stable release [of Debian], Jessie. They claim that "systemd betrays the UNIX philosophy"; it makes things more complex, thus breaking the "do one thing and do it well" principle. Note that the linked Debian Fork page specifically says that the anonymous developers behind it support a proposal to preserve options in init systems, rather than demanding the removal of systemd, and are not opposed to change per se. They just don't want other parts of the system to be wholly dependent on systemd. "We contemplate adopting more recent alternatives to sysvinit, but not those undermining the basic design principles of "do one thing and do it well" with a complex collection of dozens of tightly coupled binaries and opaque logs."

Ubuntu Turns 10 110

Posted by timothy
from the ten-years-is-a-long-time dept.
Scott James Remnant, now Technical Lead on ChromeOS, was a Debian developer before that. That's how he became involved from the beginning (becoming Developer Manager, and then serving on the Technical Board) on the little derivative distribution that Mark Shuttleworth decided to make of Debian Unstable, and for which the name Ubuntu was eventually chosen. On this date in 2004, Ubuntu 4.10 -- aka Warty Warthog, or just Warty -- was released, and Remnant has shared a detailed, nostalgic look back at the early days of the project that has (whatever else you think of it ) become one of the most influential in the world of open source and Free software. I was excited that Canonical sent out disks that I could pass around to friends and family that looked acceptably polished to them in a way that Sharpie-marked Knoppix CD-ROMs didn't, and that the polish extended to the installer, the desktop, and the included constellation of software, too.

If You're Connected, Apple Collects Your Data 312

Posted by timothy
from the so-they-can-notify-next-of-kin dept.
fyngyrz (762201) writes It would seem that no matter how you configure Yosemite, Apple is listening. Keeping in mind that this is only what's been discovered so far, and given what's known to be going on, it's not unthinkable that more is as well. Should users just sit back and accept this as the new normal? It will be interesting to see if these discoveries result in an outcry, or not. Is it worse than the data collection recently reported in a test version of Windows?

Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday 369

Posted by timothy
from the new-one-looks-nice-to-me dept. writes Erik Karjaluoto writes that he recently installed OS X Yosemite and his initial reaction was "This got hit by the ugly stick." But Karjaluoto says that Apple's decision to make a wholesale shift from Lucida to Helvetica defies his expectations and wondered why Apple would make a change that impedes legibility, requires more screen space, and makes the GUI appear fuzzy? The Answer: Tomorrow.

Microsoft's approach with Windows, and backward compatibility in general, is commendable. "Users can install new versions of this OS on old machines, sometimes built on a mishmash of components, and still have it work well. This is a remarkable feat of engineering. It also comes with limitations — as it forces Microsoft to operate in the past." But Apple doesn't share this focus on interoperability or legacy. "They restrict hardware options, so they can build around a smaller number of specs. Old hardware is often left behind (turn on a first-generation iPad, and witness the sluggishness). Meanwhile, dying conventions are proactively euthanized," says Karjaluoto. "When Macs no longer shipped with floppy drives, many felt baffled. This same experience occurred when a disk (CD/DVD) reader no longer came standard." In spite of the grumblings of many, Karjaluoto doesn't recall many such changes that we didn't later look upon as the right choice.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-many-10-based-operating-systems dept.
An anonymous reader writes: With the release of OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Ars Technica has posted one of their extremely thorough reviews of the OS's new features and design changes. John Siracusa writes that Yosemite is particularly notable because it's the biggest step yet in Apple's efforts to bring OS X and iOS together — new technologies are now being added to Apple's two operating systems simultaneously. "The political and technical battles inherent in the former two-track development strategy for OS X and iOS left both products with uncomfortable feature disparities. Apple now correctly views this as damage and has set forth to repair it." Yosemite's look and feel has undergone significant changes as well, generally moving toward the flat and compact design present in iOS 7 & 8. Spotlight and the Notifications Center have gotten some needed improvements, as did many tab and toolbar interfaces.

Siracusa also takes a look a Swift, Apple's new programming language: "Swift is an attempt to create a low-level language with high-level syntax and semantics. It tackles the myth of the Sufficiently Smart Compiler by signing up to create that compiler as part of the language design process." He concludes: "Viewed in isolation, Yosemite provides a graphical refresh accompanied by a few interesting features and several new technologies whose benefits are mostly speculative, depending heavily on how eagerly they're adopted by third-party developers. But Apple no longer views the Mac in isolation, and neither should you. OS X is finally a full-fledged peer to iOS; all aspects of sibling rivalry have been banished."

Apple Announces iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, OS X Yosemite and More 354

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
Many outlets are reporting on Apple's iPad event today. Highlights include:
  • Apple pay will launch Monday.
  • WatchKit -- a way for developers to make apps for the Apple Watch will launch next month.
  • iOS 8.1
  • Messages, iTunes, and iWork updated and many more new features in OS X Yosemite.
  • You can send and receive calls on your Mac if you have an iPhone with iOS 8 that's signed into the same FaceTime account.
  • iPad Air 2: New camera, 10 hour battery life, 12x faster than the original iPad.
  • iPad mini 3.
  • iMac with Retina display.
  • And a Mac mini update: Faster processors, Intel Iris graphics, and two Thunderbolt 2 ports.

Data From Windows 10 Feedback Tool Exposes Problem Areas 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the self-awareness-kernel-keeps-uninstalling-morality-drivers dept.
jones_supa writes: Two weeks in, and already a million people have tried out Windows 10 Technical Preview, reports Microsoft, along with a nice stack of other stats and feedback. Only 36% of installations are occurring inside a virtual machine. 68% of Windows 10 Technical Preview users are launching more than seven apps per day, with somewhere around 25% of testers using Windows 10 as their daily driver (26 app launches or more per day). With the help of Windows 10's built-in feedback tool, thousands of testers have made it very clear that Microsoft's new OS still has lots of irksome bugs and misses many much-needed features. ExtremeTech has posted an interesting list of the most popular gripes received, them mostly being various GUI endurances. What has your experience been with the Technical Preview?

The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the grass-is-greener dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Milen Dzhumerov, a software developer for OS X and iOS, has posted a concise breakdown of the problems with the Mac App Store. He says the lack of support for trial software and upgrades drives developers away by preventing them from making a living. Forced sandboxing kills many applications before they get started, and the review system isn't helpful to anyone. Dzhumerov says all of these factors, and Apple's unwillingness to address them, are leading to the slow but steady erosion of quality software in the Mac App Store.

"The relationship between consumers and developers is symbiotic, one cannot exist without the other. If the Mac App Store is a hostile environment for developers, we are going to end up in a situation where, either software will not be supported anymore or even worse, won't be made at all. And the result is the same the other way around – if there are no consumers, businesses would go bankrupt and no software will be made. The Mac App Store can be work in ways that's beneficial to both developers and consumers alike, it doesn't have to be one or the other. If the MAS is harmful to either developers or consumers, in the long term, it will be inevitably harmful to both."

ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards 345

Posted by timothy
from the hope-this-is-reverted dept.
An anonymous reader writes Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel and designed by Google to work with web applications and installed applications. Chromebook is one of the best selling laptops on Amazon. However, devs decided to drop support for ext2/3/4 on external drivers and SD card. It seems that ChromiumOS developers can't implement a script or feature to relabel EXT volumes in the left nav that is insertable and has RW privileges using Given that this is the main filesystem in Linux, and is thereby automatically well supported by anything that leverages Linux, this choice makes absolutely no sense. Google may want to drop support for external storage and push the cloud storage on everyone. Overall Linux users and community members are not happy at all.

Windows Users, Get Ready For a Bigger-Than-Usual Patch Tuesday 63

Posted by timothy
from the why-I-tell-my-mom-no-windows dept.
dibdublin (981416) writes with a report from The Register: October is stacking up to be a bumper Patch Tuesday update with nine bulletins lined up for delivery — three rated critical. Cloud security firm Qualys estimates two of the lesser "important" bulletins are just as bad however, as they would also allow malicious code injection onto vulnerable systems. Top of the critical list is an update for Internet Explorer that affects all currently supported versions 6 to 11, on all operating system including Windows RT. Vulnerabilities discovered in most versions of Windows Server, Windows 7 and 8, and the .NET framework are covered in the other pair of critical bulletins.

Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles 338

Posted by timothy
from the bottlenecks-shift dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes A new interview with Assassin's Creed Unity senior producer Vincent Pontbriand has some gamers seeing red and others crying "told you so," after the developer revealed that the game's 900p framerate and 30 fps target on consoles is a result of weak CPU performance rather than GPU compute. "Technically we're CPU-bound," Pontbriand said. "The GPUs are really powerful, obviously the graphics look pretty good, but it's the CPU that has to process the AI, the number of NPCs we have on screen, all these systems running in parallel. We were quickly bottlenecked by that and it was a bit frustrating, because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise..." This has been read by many as a rather damning referendum on the capabilities of AMD's APU that's under the hood of Sony's and Microsoft's new consoles. To some extent, that's justified; the Jaguar CPU inside both the Sony PS4 and Xbox One is a modest chip with a relatively low clock speed. Both consoles may offer eight CPU threads on paper, but games can't access all that headroom. One thread is reserved for the OS and a few more cores will be used for processing the 3D pipeline. Between the two, Ubisoft may have only had 4-5 cores for AI and other calculations — scarcely more than last gen, and the Xbox 360 and PS3 CPUs were clocked much faster than the 1.6 / 1.73GHz frequencies of their replacements.

The Malware of the Future May Come Bearing Real Gifts 103

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-bad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Research by Prof. Giovanni Vigna of the University of California leads him to believe that the malware of the future will come in a friendly form, be genuinely useful and may not reveal its intentions for a protracted period of time. Prof. Vigna, speaking at IP Expo in London, outlined a fearful future of 'mimicry' in evolved strains of malware. In the current stage of the war between malware and security researchers, the emphasis is almost entirely on the attempt to convince increasingly intelligent — and increasingly suspicious — malware that it is operating in a bare-metal environment when it is in fact in a sandbox or VM environment. For the malware, the stakes are tremendously high — if it has reached the point of OS-level execution without its hash being indexed and red-flagged by online security databases, it cannot afford to reveal its intentions in a test environment. This article outlines the extraordinary game of cat-and-mouse being played between researchers and hackers, and how future malware exploits are likely to abandon a rush for the buffer overflow in favor of 'the long game' — and to make themselves useful in the process.
Operating Systems

Systemd Adding Its Own Console To Linux Systems 774

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-want-something-done-right dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The next version of systemd is poised to introduce an experimental "systemd-consoled" that serves as a user-space console daemon. The consoled furthers the Linux developers' goal of eventually deprecating the VT subsystem found within the Linux kernel in favor of a user-space driven terminal that supports better localization, increased security, and greater robustness of the kernel's seldom touched and hairy CONFIG_VT'ed code.

Test-Driving a $35 Firefox OS Smartphone 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-a-phone-of-middling-intelligence dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica got its hands on one of the extremely low-cost smart phones running Firefox OS. The Intex Cloud FX retails for about $35 in India, and its intent is to bring smartphones to people who traditionally can't afford them. So, what do you have to sacrifice to bring a smartphone's costs down that far? Well, it has a 3.5" 480x320 display, a 1Ghz A5 CPU, 128MB of RAM, and 256 MB of storage. (Those a megabytes.) There's no GPS, no notification LED, and not even 3G support. They say the build quality is as poor as you'd expect, and if you aren't at a 90 degree angle with the screen, colors are distorted. But, again: it's $35 — this is to be expected.

How well does the phone work? Well, the UI works well enough, but multitasking is rough. Everything's functional, but slow, sometimes taking several seconds to register touch input. The real killer, according to the article, is the on-screen keyboard, which is unbearable. The article concludes, "Sure, we're spoiled, "rich" people compared to the target market, but it's hard to believe that this is a "best attempt" at a cheap smartphone. ... The problem is that Firefox OS just isn't the right choice of operating system for this device—it's trying to do way too much with the limited hardware. It isn't configurable enough." They say the phone doesn't even make sense for a $35 budget.

Details of iOS and Android Device Encryption 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the protecting-your-cat-pictures-from-the-gubmint dept.
swillden writes: There's been a lot of discussion of what, exactly, is meant by the Apple announcement about iOS8 device encryption, and the subsequent announcement by Google that Android L will enable encryption by default. Two security researchers tackled these questions in blog posts:

Matthew Green tackled iOS encryption, concluding that the change really boils down to applying the existing iOS encryption methods to more data. He also reviews the iOS approach, which uses Apple's "Secure Enclave" chip as the basis for the encryption and guesses at how it is that Apple can say it's unable to decrypt the devices. He concludes, with some clarification from a commenter, that Apple really can't (unless you use a weak password which can be brute-forced, and even then it's hard).

Nikolay Elenkov looks into the preview release of Android "L." He finds that not only has Google turned encryption on by default, but appears to have incorporated hardware-based security as well, to make it impossible (or at least much more difficult) to perform brute force password searches off-device.

Professor Kevin Fu Answers Your Questions About Medical Device Security 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
Almost a year ago you had a chance to ask professor Kevin Fu about medical device security. A number of events (including the collapse of his house) conspired to delay the answering of those questions. Professor Fu has finally found respite from calamity, coincidentally at a time when the FDA has issued guidance on the security of medical devices. Below you'll find his answers to your old but not forgotten questions.

Swap read error. You lose your mind.