Microsft heals some wounds as it moves to Open Source

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2018 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: windows, open source, microsoft, edge, chromium, browser, Opera, firefox

One of the big stories this week has been the rumour and confirmation of Microsoft's move to Chromium.  What we hadn't seen until this morning was what the competition thought about it, which we now know thanks to a link from Slashdot.   You will be shocked to learn that Firefox sees this as solid proof you should have been using Firefox all along, or should switch immediately.

Opera and Google both applaud the move; Opera pointing out that they did something very similar about 6 years ago while Google welcomes Microsoft to the open source community it once spurned.  Take a peek at the rest here.

chromium-logo-100751561-large.jpg

"Google largely sees Microsoft's decision as a good thing, which is not exactly a surprise given that the company created the Chromium open source project. "Chrome has been a champion of the open web since inception and we welcome Microsoft to the community of Chromium contributors. We look forward to working with Microsoft and the web standards community to advance the open web, support user choice, and deliver great browsing experiences."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Microsoft Confirms Edge Browser is Moving to Chromium

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2018 - 10:02 AM |
Tagged: windows, open source, microsoft, Joe Belfiore, edge, chromium, browser

It's official: Microsoft is indeed moving their Edge browser to Chromium as previously reported. Windows VP Joe Belfiore made the announcement yesterday with a blog post entitled "Microsoft Edge: Making the web better through more open source collaboration".

Microsoft_Edge_logo.PNG

The post begins as follows (emphasis added):

"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."

Not an immediate move, the under-the-hood changes to the Microsoft Edge browser will take place "over the next year or so", with the transition described as happening "gradually over time". From Microsoft:

1. We will move to a Chromium-compatible web platform for Microsoft Edge on the desktop. Our intent is to align the Microsoft Edge web platform simultaneously (a) with web standards and (b) with other Chromium-based browsers. This will deliver improved compatibility for everyone and create a simpler test-matrix for web developers.

2. Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence. We also expect this work to enable us to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS. Improving the web-platform experience for both end users and developers requires that the web platform and the browser be consistently available to as many devices as possible. To accomplish this, we will evolve the browser code more broadly, so that our distribution model offers an updated Microsoft Edge experience + platform across all supported versions of Windows, while still maintaining the benefits of the browser’s close integration with Windows.

3. We will contribute web platform enhancements to make Chromium-based browsers better on Windows devices. Our philosophy of greater participation in Chromium open source will embrace contribution of beneficial new tech, consistent with some of the work we described above. We recognize that making the web better on Windows is good for our customers, partners and our business – and we intend to actively contribute to that end.

The full blog post from Belfiore is available here.

Source: Microsoft

Windows 10 Caveat Emptor Update

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2018 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: windows, update, october update, nvidia, microsoft, Intel

If you are one of those wise souls who held of on installing to the new Windows 10 Update, so that others can act as the canaries in the coal mine we now have some advice.  If you are running an NVIDIA GPU, ensure you have plenty of space on your OS drive.  There have been reports of users losing files from their drives if there is not enough space for the entire 10GB update to download to; if there isn't enough space then the update deletes all non-system files.  The Inqurier is quick to point out that the tool you would use to resolve this problem, Disk Cleanup, no longer exists once you perform this update.

There have also been reports that systems with certain versions of Intel Display Audio drivers have seen greatly increased CPU usage after the update and this has been draining batteries quickly.  According to The Register, Microsoft is no longer pushing the update to machines that would be affected.  You can check out the driver version here.

1323116.png

"Usually though, we'd expect it to affect a small number of users. This time however, the problems seem to come from anyone with an Nvidia GPU and anyone… erm… with files."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Filament Game Engine Open Sourced (Apache 2.0)

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2018 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, macos, Android, windows, linux, vulkan

Yet another video game engine has entered the market – this time by Google. Filament is written in C++, supports OpenGL 4.1-and-up, OpenGL ES 3.0-and-up, and Vulkan 1.0 on Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows.

It is also licensed under Apache 2.0, so it is completely open-source (with no copyleft).

google-2018-filament-anisotropy.png

On the plus side, it supports a lot of rendering features. The materials, like basically everyone else, use a PBR system, which abstracts lighting from material properties, allowing models to be shaded correctly in any lighting environment. Filament goes beyond that implementation, however, and claims to include things like anisotropic metals (think brushed steel) and clear coat effects. They even have a BRDF (the program that defines the outputs of your shader, where all your textures plug in to) for cloth rendering, including backward scattering.

On the negative side? Pages upon pages of documentation and I haven’t seen one screenshot of their editor, which doesn't telegraph the best message for their tools. I don’t have the toolchain set up on my computer to try it for myself, but I’m guessing that developer UX is lacking compared to the other engines. I do like that they chose to limit external dependencies, however. It just requires the standard library and a header-only library called “Robin-Map” for fast hash maps.

Google also tags a disclaimer at the bottom of their GitHub page: “This is not an officially supported Google product”. It’s free, though, so it might be worth checking out.

What If Windows XP Released in 2018?

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2018 - 05:13 PM |
Tagged: windows xp, windows 10, windows, microsoft

YouTube pushed this video onto my suggested list, and it was a minute and a half well spent. From what I understand, Kamer Kaan Avdan has a YouTube channel where he creates concept videos that look quite professional. This one takes the feel of Windows XP and grafts it to Microsoft’s current design and marketing process, with a few hilarious nods to the weird parts of our favorite candy-coated OS. The “Welcome” fade-in felt perfect to the point that I wasn’t sure if he was doing this as a joke, or as a legitimate suggestion for a Windows 10 theme pack.

Then I saw the search dog…

I’m not going to lie – I’d want that theme pack. (Edit, May 12th @ 6:50pm: Clarification -- I would want that theme pack, if it existed.) Of course, non-default themes in Windows tend to lead to serious bugs, like some programs failing to hide or correctly align elements in Basic or Classic themes on Windows 7, so it really would be asking for a world of hurt from a “bugs” side of things. But, you know, it looks cool. Check it out -- it's embed above.

Source: avdan

A handy list of tricks you might have forgotten you knew

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2017 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, apple

TechSpot posted an article compiling a variety of tips on making Windows and MacOS do what you want as well as numerous applications you can use for a variety of tasks.  The recommendations run from the classic obfuscated Windows "God Mode" folder which contains links to the majority of the tools you can use on your system to basic keyboard shortcuts.  If you are trying to figure out where all your storage space went, Space Sniffer for Windows or GrandPerspective for Macs will help you far more than random searches for large folders.  You will probably already know a great number of these tips but it is nice to have a long list compiled in a single location.

Windows_7_godmode.PNG

"Many hardcore computer users might consider themselves above learning new tricks, but there are always new ways to sharpen your skills on the PC and we bet that you will find at least one useful thing here that you didn't know before."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Techspot

Windows Server Follows Trend of Two Updates per Year

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2017 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows server

Microsoft seems to want to release feature updates for their software twice per year, once in the fall, and once in the spring. First, Office 365 announced that it would adopt a semi-annual schedule, targeting September and March, give or take a bit. The Windows team then announced that they would follow in Office’s footsteps.

Now, the Windows Server team has followed suit.

microsoft-2015-windows-10-10159-upgrade.png

It’s interesting, because Windows Server typically pushes out two major versions every four or five years: one with a number, and another with that same number alongside an R2 suffix. Each of these lines up with a consumer refresh of the NT kernel, although both Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2 used the same kernel... because Windows XP lasted a while.

Sure, a lot of a name would normally be marketing, but it also gated the major features that Microsoft was able to add (because they wanted a single Windows release to interact with software fairly uniformly across its lifecycle for enterprise reasons). Now, with the whole company pushing the “as a service” model, even Windows Server will be on the feature release treadmill.

Source: Microsoft

Rumor: New Edition of Windows 10 Pro Planned

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2017 - 02:07 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10

The Verge is reporting on an allegedly leaked slide from Microsoft that announces a new edition of Windows 10 Pro. It is given the placeholder name “Windows 10 Pro for Workstation PCs” and it has four advertised features: Workstations mode, ReFS, SMBDirect, the ability to use up to four CPUs, and the ability to use up to 6TB of RAM.

microsoft-2017-windows10proworkstation-grandmofongo.jpg

Image Credit: GrandMofongo (Twitter)

If this rumor is true, I don’t believe that it will behave like Windows 10 Enterprise. Because it unlocks the ability to address more RAM and CPU sockets, I doubt that users would be able to switch between Windows 10 Pro and “Windows 10 Pro for Workstation PCs” with just a no-reboot login to an Azure Active Directory. This is just speculation, of course, and speculation on a rumor at that.

The Workstation mode is kind-of interesting, though. The Windows 10 Creators Update introduced Game Mode, which allowed games to be prioritized over other software for higher performance (although it hasn’t been a hit so far). Last month, they also announced power management features to throttle background apps, but only when running on battery power. It makes sense that Microsoft would apply the same concepts wherever it would be beneficial, whether that’s optimizing for performance or efficiency for any given workload.

It does seem like an odd headlining feature for a new edition, which I’d assume requires an up-sell over the typical Windows 10 Pro SKU, when they haven’t demonstrated a clear win for Game Mode yet? What do you all think?

Source: The Verge

Windows Git gud

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2017 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: git, windows, microsoft

Microsoft have moved their huge collection of source code from an internal proprietary tool to Git.  The repository is 300 GB and is very popular with The Register reporting 8,421 pull requests and 1,760 official builds a day.  To help people access the repository they have developed their own Git Virtual File System, which present Git as a FAT file system to users.  This has not been viewed as favourably as they had hoped, the popularity is causing the service to process requests slowly, however it is still generally faster than going straight to Git.  If you want to give it a shot, read through this blog post over at Microsoft.

index.png

"Redmond's certainly feeling pleased with itself about the move, in particular stroking itself about being able to move the whole 2,000-strong Windows OneCore team from the Source Depot internal tool to Git over a weekend."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

How To: Add AptX Bluetooth Audio to a Windows PC

Subject: Mobile | May 10, 2017 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: windows, sony, qualcomm, mdr1000x, CSR Harmony, bluetooth, aptX, a2dp

Recently, to prepare for a long plane flight I bought a pair of Sony MDR-1000X Bluetooth noise canceling headphones. While I won't get into the specifics of these headphones other than that I have been really satisfied with them, when I returned from my trip I wanted to start using them at the office.

Seemingly that would be easy, as these headphones feature a 3.5mm input, but I am frequently walking around the office and I wanted to fully utilize the wireless features. While I could have just used any Bluetooth adapter compatible with Windows, I wanted to test out one of the features of these headphones —  AptX technology.

Qualcomm aptX.jpg

AptX is an alternate Bluetooth audio codec from Qualcomm which aims to feature higher audio quality. Sebastian took a look at a pair of AptX-enabled headphones earlier this year, and I have wanted to check out the technology ever since.

I went to Amazon, and did a search for "AptX Bluetooth USB" and found a wide array of options, so I did what anyone would naturally do — I bought the cheapest one and hoped it would work

IMG_4560.JPG

After receiving the USB adapter, I first installed the CSR Harmony software from the Azio website. This is a piece of software that sits on top of the Windows Bluetooth Stack and enabled advanced Bluetooth features, including AptX, on certain Bluetooth chipsets.

Once the software was installed, I plugged in the device and found a new Bluetooth icon sitting in my Windows tray.

Screenshot_1.png

From here, you can simply right click the icon and search for a new Bluetooth device.

Screenshot_2.png

Once I put the headphones into pairing mode I was able to pair to them successfully.

Screenshot_3.png

And, that's it! Once you are successfully paired to an AptX device, you should see this popup from the Windows tray confirming that AptX is working. From here, you can use the headphones just like you would with any Windows audio playback device. 

This certainly isn't a review of AptX audio quality, I will defer to Sebastian's analysis for that in which he calls the headphones he tested "audiophile-approved Bluetooth."

For a $12 investment, it seems like a no-brainer for users who already have an AptX-enabled device that they use on their smartphone.

Source: Azio