Graphics

First Steps Towards Network Transparency For Wayland (phoronix.com) 116

munwin99 writes: For the longest time, when bringing up Wayland a recurring question was 'what about network transparency?!' Well, Samsung's Derek Foreman has today published the set of Wayland patches for providing Wayland network transparency by pushing the Wayland protocol over TCP/IP.
Debian

Raspberry Pi's Raspbian OS Finally Ships With Open-Source OpenGL Support (phoronix.com) 59

An anonymous reader writes: With this month's Raspbian OS update, the Debian-based operating system for the Raspberry Pi ships experimental OpenGL driver support. This driver has been developed over the past two years by a former Intel developer with having a completely open and mainline DRM kernel driver and Mesa Gallium driver to open up the Pi as a replacement to the proprietary GPU driver.
Graphics

Amazon Launches Free Game Engine Lumberyard 56

Dave Knott writes: Amazon has both announced and released a new, free game engine, Lumberyard, which offers deep integration with its Amazon Web Services server infrastructure to empower online play, and also with Twitch, its video game-focused streaming service. Lumberyard is powerful and full-featured enough to develop triple-A current-gen console games, with mobile support is coming down the road. Its core engine technology is based on Crytek's CryEngine. However, Lumberyard represents a branch of that tech, and the company is replacing or upgrading many of CryEngine's systems. Monetization for Lumberyard will come strictly through the use of Amazon Web Services' cloud computing. If you use the engine for your game, you're permitted to roll your own server tech, but if you're using a third-party provider, it has to be Amazon. Integration of Amazon's Twitch video streaming tools at a low level also helps to cement that platform's dominance in the game streaming space. Alongside Lumberyard, the company has also announced and released GameLift, a new managed service for deploying, operating, and scaling server-based online games using AWS. GameLift will be available only to developers who use Lumberyard, though it's an optional add-on. The game engine is in beta, but is freely usable and downloadable today.
GNU is Not Unix

Talos Secure Workstation Is Free-Software Centric — and $3100 [Updated] 117

jones_supa writes: These days, the motivation to use open source software for many people is to avoid backdoors placed by intelligence organizations and to avoid software that has hidden privacy-intruding characteristics. For the operating system and userspace software, open choices are already available. The last remaining island has been the firmware included in various ROM chips in a computer. Libreboot has introduced an open BIOS, but it is not available for newer systems featuring the Intel ME or AMD PSP management features. Talos' Secure Workstation fills this need, providing a modern system with 8-core POWER8 CPU, 132 GB RAM, and open firmware. The product is currently in a pre-release phase where Raptor Engineering is trying to understand if it's possible to do a production run of the machine. If you are interested, it's worth visiting the official website. Adds an anonymous reader about the new system, which rings in at a steep $3100: "While the engineers found solace in the POWER8 architecture with being more open than AMD/Intel CPUs, they still are searching for a graphics card that is open enough to receive the FSF Respect Your Freedom certification." Update: 02/08 18:44 GMT by T : See also Linux hacker and IBM employee Stewart Smith's talk from the just-completed linux.conf.au on, in which he walks through "all of the firmware components and what they do, including the boot sequence from power being applied up to booting an operating system." Update: 02/08 23:30 GMT by T :FSF Licensing & Compliance Manager Joshua Gay wrote to correct the headline originally appeared with this story, which said that the Talos workstation described was "FSF Certified"; that claim was an error I introduced. "The FSF has not certified this hardware," says Gay, "nor is it currently reviewing the hardware for FSF certification." Sorry for the confusion.
Mars

NASA Is Building a Virtual Mars For VR Viewing (unrealengine.com) 37

An anonymous reader writes: NASA will release a free virtual reality program this year that will simulate exploring the surface of Mars. "Players will be able to walk on the Red Planet as well as drive the Mars Rover..." reads the official announcement at UnrealEngine.com. The Mars 2030 Experience will be available on Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR, and will also "expand" to Sony PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, with additional versions for Android and iOS devices, and it will even be streamed on Twitch. NASA plans to reveal more details at this year's South by Southwest conference in March.
Displays

Unreal Engine Will Soon Allow Developers To Build Games Inside of VR (roadtovr.com) 37

An anonymous reader writes: Epic Games, the creators of Unreal Engine, has been a longstanding supporter of VR. They were on board way back when Oculus sparked the VR industry in 2012 with a Kickstarter that would snowball into a rekindling of consumer virtual reality. Having been one of the first major game engines to support VR headsets like the Rift, the company has been aggressively positioning Unreal Engine as the go-to tool for VR developers. Now they're taking a massive next step, showing the first look at bringing developers themselves inside of virtual reality to craft games with the full set of UE4 tools at their fingertips. That means that developers can place and manipulate objects from right within a world in progress; the video demo in the linked story is impressive.
Stats

The Performance of Ubuntu Linux Over the Past 10 Years (phoronix.com) 110

An anonymous reader writes: Tests were carried out at Phoronix of all Ubuntu Long-Term Support releases from the 6.06 "Dapper Drake" release to 16.04 "Xenial Xerus," looking at the long-term performance of (Ubuntu) Linux using a dual-socket AMD Opteron server. Their benchmarks of Ubuntu's LTS releases over 10 years found that the Radeon graphics performance improved substantially, the disk performance was similar while taking into account the switch from EXT3 to EXT4, and that the CPU performance had overall improved for many workloads thanks to the continued evolution of the GCC compiler.
Books

Amazon's Thin Helvetica Syndrome: Font Anorexia vs. Kindle Readability (teleread.com) 154

David Rothman writes: The Thin Helvetica Syndrome arises from the latest Kindle upgrade and has made e-books less readable for some. In the past, e-book-lovers who needed more perceived-contrast between text and background could find at least partial relief in Helvetica because the font was heavy by Kindle standards. But now some users complain that the 5.7.2 upgrade actually made Helvetica thinner. Of course, the real cure would be an all-text bold option for people who need it, or even a way to adjust font weight, a feature of Kobo devices. But Amazon stubbornly keeps ignoring user pleas even though the cost of adding either feature would be minimal. Isn't this supposed to be a customer-centric company?
Data Storage

Storing Very Large Files On Amazon's Unlimited Cloud Photo Storage 229

AmiMoJo writes: Last year Amazon started offering unlimited cloud storage for photos to customers who subscribed to its "Prime" service. Japanese user YDKK has developed a tool to store arbitrary data inside a .bmp file, which can then be uploaded to Amazon's service. A 1.44GB test image containing an executable file uploaded at over 250Mb/sec, far faster than typical cloud storage services that are rate limited and don't allow extremely large files.
Businesses

Magic Leap Raises $794 Million To Accelerate Adoption of Secretive AR Tech (roadtovr.com) 51

An anonymous reader writes: A massive new $794 million Series C investment in secretive AR startup Magic Leap puts the company among the world's most valuable startups, now reportedly valued at $4.5 billion. The company has aggressively teased what they believe to be revolutionary augmented reality display technology, allowing a mixture of the real and virtual dimensions in a way previously not achieved. Although they've played coy to the public, offering little more than bold claims, investors like Alibaba, Google Ventures, and Qualcomm Ventures have bought into the company's vision to the tune of $1.39 billion in total raised by Magic Leap thus far. Also at Network World, which notes that their demo must be amazing.
AMD

AMD Launches Enthusiast A10-7860K APU, New Mainstream CPUs and Wraith Cooler (hothardware.com) 81

MojoKid writes: AMD apparently wasn't done making announcements back at CES 2016. Today the company has shared news of new APUs, processors, fansink coolers, and motherboard updates. The company has been working with motherboard makers to enable a new wave of socket AM3+ and FM2+ motherboards with support for technologies like USB 3.1 (some with type-C and M.2 solid state drives (SSDs). Many of the updated motherboards are already available. AMD also has a trio of new APUs / processors coming down the pipe --the A10-7860K, the A6-7470K, and the Athlon X4 845. The Athlon X4 845 is a quad-core part, featuring four Excavator-class cores clocked at up to 3.8GHz. The processor has 2MB of L2 cache, 8 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and a TDP of 65W, but no built-in graphics. The A6-7470K is a dual Steamroller-core APU (clocked at up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (at up to 800MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. The A10-7860K is a little beefier with four Steamroller cores (clocked up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (clocked up to 757MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. Both the 7860K and 7470K are unlocked for more flexible overclocking. Finally, the FX-8370 bundled with AMD's new Wraith cooler will be arriving today at the same price point as the previous edition. According to AMD, the Wraith cooler offers 24% more surface area than the previous PIB cooler and the fan pushes 34% more air.
Portables

Asus ZenBook UX305CA Shows What Skylake Core M Is Capable Of (hothardware.com) 158

MojoKid writes: ASUS recently revamped their ZenBook UX305 family of ultralight notebooks with Intel's 6th generation Skylake Core m series, which brings with it not only improved graphics performance but also native support for PCI Express NVMe M.2 Solid State Drives. The platform is turning out to be fairly strong for this category of notebooks and the low cost ZenBook ($699 as tested) is a good example of what a Skylake Core M is capable of in a balanced configuration. Tested here, the machine is configured with a 256GB M.2 SSD, 8GB of RAM and a 2.2GHz Core m3-6Y30 dual-core CPU. Along with a 13.3-inch 1080p FHD display and 802.11ac wireless connectivity, the ZenBook UX305 is setup nicely and it puts up solid performance numbers in both standard compute tasks and graphics. It also offers some of the best battery life numbers in an ultralight yet, lasting over 10 hours on a charge in real world connected web testing.
Graphics

In Memoriam: VGA (hackaday.com) 406

szczys writes: VGA is going away. It has been for a long time but the final nails in the coffin are being driven home this year. It was the first standard for video, and is by far the longest-lived port on the PC. The extra pins made computers monitor-aware; allowing data about the screen type and resolution to be queried whenever a display was connected. But the connector is big and looks antiquated. There's no place for it in today's thin, design minded devices. It is also a mechanism for analog signaling in our world that has embraced high-speed digital for ever increasing pixels and integration of more data passing through one connection. Most motherboards no longer have the connector, and Intel's new Skylake processors have removed native VGA functionality. Even online retailers have stopped including it as a filter option when choosing hardware.
Intel

Intel Gets Called Out Again For Their M.I.A. 3.0 X.Org Driver (phoronix.com) 110

An anonymous reader writes: The xf86-video-intel 3.0 DDX driver has been in development the past two and a half years without seeing an official release. The last development release even of xf86-video-intel 3.0 Git was 13 months ago with the xf86-video-intel 2.99.917 release. At that time it was said by Intel's lead DDX developer, "3 months have passed, we should make one more snapshot before an imminent release." Since then, there's been no communications about a stable release of this DDX driver that makes SNA the default acceleration architecture over UXA. Over on the intel-gfx mailing list users are bringing up again the state of xf86-video-intel 3.0 and why it isn't released yet, questioning if Intel is "able to maintain its own device driver in a usable way?"
AMD

AMD: It's Time To Open Up the GPU (gpuopen.com) 152

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has called for the opening up of GPU technology to developers. Nicolas Thibieroz, a senior engineering manager for the company, announced today the launch of GPUOpen, its initiative to provide code and documentation to PC developers, embracing open source and collaborative development with the community. He says, "Console games often tap into low-level GPU features that may not be exposed on PC at the same level of functionality, causing different — and usually less efficient — code paths to be implemented on PC instead. Worse, proprietary libraries or tools chains with "black box" APIs prevent developers from accessing the code for maintenance, porting or optimizations purposes. Game development on PC needs to scale to multiple quality levels, including vastly different screen resolutions." And here's how AMD wants to solve this: "Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games." They've begun by posting several technical articles to help developers understand and use various tools, and they say more content will arrive soon.
Open Source

Linux 4.5 Adds Raspberry Pi 2 Support, AMD GPU Re-Clocking, Intel Kaby Lake (phoronix.com) 147

The Linux 4.5 merge window has been open for the last two weeks; that means that the 4.5-rc1 kernel is expected to emerge, with the official kernel following in about eight weeks. An anonymous reader writes with this top-level list of changes to look for, from Phoronix: Linux 4.5 is set to bring many new features across the kernel's 20 million line code-base. Among the new/improved features are Raspberry Pi 2 support, open-source Raspberry Pi 3D support, NVIDIA Tegra X1 / Jetson TX1 support, an open-source Vivante graphics driver, AMDGPU PowerPlay/re-clocking support, Intel Kaby Lake enablement, a Logitech racing wheel driver, improvements for handling suspended USB devices, new F2FS file-system features, and better Xbox One controller handling.
Displays

Google May Be Developing Consumer Virtual Reality Hardware (roadtovr.com) 27

An anonymous reader writes: Google's 'Cardboard' virtual reality initiative has put low-cost smartphone VR viewers in the hands of millions, but the experience provided by these simple phone holders doesn't compare with dedicated mobile VR hardware like Samsung's Gear VR. Now it seems that Google may be ready to move from Cardboard viewers to dedicated VR hardware. Four new full-time job listings at the company's Mountain View, CA headquarters seek candidates for the company's virtual reality group who are experienced with designing and manufacturing 'high-volume' consumer electronics devices. Road to VR suggests that Google could be creating a mobile VR headset under its flagship Nexus brand. The postings come just as the company's Clay Bavor dropped other responsibilities to fully dedicate his time as Google's VP of Virtual Reality.
Earth

Mainstream Scientists Cashing In On Climate Wagers (reuters.com) 252

Layzej writes: Climate contrarians have long predicted imminent global cooling. A few have been willing to place wagers that mainstream scientists have been quick to accept. Often acceptance of the bet is followed by immediate retraction, as was the case when "Bastardi's Wager" was accepted by Joseph Romm or when Maurice Newman's $10,000 bet was accepted by physicist Brian Schmidt. In some cases, bets have been formalized and the terms of many of those wagers are coming to a close. It may not be surprising to learn that those who put their money on the side of mainstream science are the ones who are cashing in.

Reuters reports that British climate expert Chris Hope just won a 2,000 pound sterling ($2,830) wager made five years ago against two members of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, who had bet Hope that the Earth would be cooling by now. They also highlight a $10,000 bet made in 2005 between British climate modeler James Annan and two Russian solar physicists. The solar physicists had counted on waning solar output to halt warming. Annan will win if average global temperatures from 2013-17 are warmer than 2003-07. "Things are looking good for my bet," Annan said.

Keith Pickering reports on a series of three bets between Brian Schmidt and climate contrarian David Evans, who also believed that diminishing solar output would dominate the temperatures of the last decade and beyond. The wagers pay out in 2019, 2024, and 2029. Pickering concludes, "What Evans apparently doesn't realize is that because of the thermal inertia of the oceans, within narrow bounds we can already predict what global temperatures will be in 2019, 2024, and 2029. And David Evans is going to lose his shirt."

Crime

Bank Heists - Another Profession That Technology Is Killing Off 131

HughPickens.com writes: In 1992 there were 847 bank robberies in the UK; by 2011 that had dropped to just 66. Now Lawrence Dobbs writes in the Telegraph about how technology is killing off this age old profession. "The development of more sophisticated alarm systems and CCTV, as well as supporting forensic developments such as DNA analysis and facial recognition software, all serve to assist police," says Jim Dickie, a former detective who spent more than 30 years with the Metropolitan Police. Those who do try are either feckless opportunists or "serial offenders" who have already served time and are easily found on police databases. "Hands-on heists are a dying art, because those who have a background in it are literally dying off."

In 2015 a gang of aging jewel thieves pulled off one last spectacular job. Using a diamond-tipped drill and a 10-ton hydraulic ram, they broke into the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd vault and made off with at least £14million in precious stones, gems, bullion and jewelry in the largest burglary in English history. But the Hatton Garden burglars were caught because they used one of their own cars within view of a security camera. According to David Kelly, it's CCTV which has changed things most. "It's now virtually impossible to travel through any public space in a major metropolitan area without being captured. They're everywhere, the image quality is better, and the ability to store images for longer has increased." Then there are your physical alarm devices: motion sensors, window monitors which detect glass shattering, or devices which trigger when a door is opened. "These devices can now be deployed wirelessly – in an older building, where you might not have wires in place," says Kelly. "There are also tools at the disposal of the private sector, in cooperation with the public sector, which are perhaps not matters of common knowledge, and there's a tactical advantage to our clients in them remaining that way." Add to this the various technologies used to protect or track the loot itself – dye packs hiding inside stacks of banknotes, which explode when they leave a certain range; GPS tracking on security vans and inside cash containers – and you can see why even a hardened criminal might prefer to stay in bed.
The Military

More Air Force Drones Are Crashing Than Ever As Mysterious New Problems Emerge (washingtonpost.com) 141

schwit1 points out that a record number of Air Force drones crashed in major accidents last year. Leading the accident count is the Reaper which has seen a number of sudden electrical failures. The Washington Post reports: "A record number of Air Force drones crashed in major accidents last year, documents show, straining the U.S. military's fleet of robotic aircraft when it is in more demand than ever for counterterrorism missions in an expanding array of war zones. Driving the increase was a mysterious surge in mishaps involving the Air Force's newest and most advanced 'hunter-killer' drone, the Reaper, which has become the Pentagon's favored weapon for conducting surveillance and airstrikes against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other militant groups. The Reaper has been bedeviled by a rash of sudden electrical failures that have caused the 21/2-ton drone to lose power and drop from the sky, according to accident-investigation documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Investigators have traced the problem to a faulty starter-generator,but have been unable to pinpoint why it goes haywire or devise a permanent fix.

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