Microsoft Flight Simulator Landing on Windows 10 Next Month

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Fans of Microsoft’s famous Flight Sim won’t have long to wait until the latest incarnation arrives. From a report: This promises to be the most detailed and authentic version to date, with incredibly accurate landscapes that are ever-changing, coupled with highly detailed aircraft, covering everything from light planes to commercial jets. Microsoft Flight Simulator has been around since 1982 — feeling old yet? — and the new version will be available in three editions — Standard ($59.99), Deluxe ($89.99) and Premium Deluxe ($119.99). The Deluxe edition comes with five extra planes and five extra international airports. The Premium Deluxe adds a further five planes and airports on top of that. Microsoft Flight Simulator launches on August 18, and you can pre-order on Windows 10 or pre-install with Xbox Game Pass for PC (Beta) today.

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Amazon Stops Selling ‘Active Content’ Games in Kindle Reader’s Store

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Once upon a time, you could play Scrabble on your black-and-white Kindle readers. Or chess or sudoko, or even solve New York Times Crossword Puzzles. Amazon’s Kindle Store had included 500 slick Java-based “Active Content” downloads…

Electronic Arts even produced Kindle-specific versions of Monopoly, Yahtzee, and Battleship, while Amazon created original games with titles like Every Word and Pirate Stash — and even a choose-your-own-adventure game named Dusk World.
Amazon soon moved into color touchscreen tablets, where there are many more games to choose from. But while any old downloaded “Active Content” will still work on their black-and-white Kindle readers, Amazon has now stopped selling it in its Kindle Store, reports The Digital Reader:
The feature launched in 2010/2011, and was essentially abandoned by 2014 when Amazon launched the Kindle Voyage. Amazon decided to not support Active Content on its then newest ereader. Later Kindle models also lacked support for Active Content, and that meant it was only a matter of time before Amazon also removed the section from the Kindle Store.

And now one of the last remaining holdovers from that crazy time when ebooks were new is now gone.

There was a time, back in the early ebook era, when everyone was throwing really cool ideas up against the wall to see what stuck. Enhanced ebooks, for example, got tried a dozen times in around 7 years, and failed to find a market every time. Augmented reality ebooks was also tried several times, and for the most part failed because the tech wasn’t there (AR was always going to be a niche product, but it’s time will come). Digital textbooks were tried and failed several times because students could see they didn’t make economic sense, but then publishers found a way to force them down students’ throats (site licenses)…
And now Kindle Active Content is joining all the other formerly great ideas in the ebook graveyard.

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Linus Torvalds: ‘I Do No Coding Any More’

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The Linux Foundation recently uploaded its video from the Open Source Summit and Embedded Linux Conference: Europe. And there was a poignant moment when Linus Torvalds did his traditional keynote conversation with Dirk Hohndel, VMware’s vice president and chief open source officer.
Honndel had asked Linus — his hair now uncharacteristically long — what he spends his time on as a kernel maintainer. What’s his workflow? “What do you do?”

Linus Torvalds: Um, I read email. [Hohndel laughs] I read email, I write email, I do no coding at all any more.

Most of the code I write, I actually write inside my mail reader. So somebody sends me a patch, or more commonly they send me a pull request or there’s a discussion about the next pull request, and there’s something I react to and say, ‘No, this is fine, but…’ And I send out pseudocode, or — I’m so used to sending out patches that I sometimes edit patches and send out the patch without having ever compiled it, ever tested it, because I literally wrote it in the mail reader, and saying ‘I think this is how it should be done.’ But this is what I do. I’m not a programmer any more.

I read a lot more email than I write, because what my job really is — in the end, my job is to say no. Somebody has to be able to say no to people. Because other developers know that if they do something bad, I will say no. They hopefully, in turn, are more careful. But in order to be able to say no, I have to know the background. Because otherwise I can’t do my job. So I spend all my time, basically, reading email about what people are working on… It is an interesting job, but you do end up spending most of your time reading email.

On the developer side, what I hope people are doing is trying to make, not just good code, but these days we’ve been very good about having explanations for the code. So commit messages to me are almost as important as the code change itself. Sometimes the code change is so obvious that no message is really required, but that is very very rare. And so one of the things I hope developers are thinking about, the people who are actually writing code, is not just the code itself, but explaining why the code does something, and why some change was needed. Because that then in turn helps the managerial side of the equation, where if you can explain your code to me, I will trust the code…

A lot of open source in general is about communication. And part of it is the commit messages, part of it is just the email going back and forth. Communicating what you’re trying to do or communicating why something doesn’t work for you is really important.

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Microsoft Announces New Windows 10 Start Menu Design, Updated Alt-Tab

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Microsoft is testing a number of Windows 10 upgrades to a small number of testers, including changes to the Alt-Tab function and a new Start menu design. The Verge reports: “We are freshening up the Start menu with a more streamlined design that removes the solid color backplates behind the logos in the apps list and applies a uniform, partially transparent background to the tiles,” explains Microsoft in a blog post. Essentially, the reduction in the color of the blocky tiled interface on the Start menu will simplify it slightly and make it easier to scan for the apps you use on a daily basis. It’s a subtle change, but it certainly makes the Start menu look a little less chaotic and avoids many tiles sharing a similar blue color.

Alongside an updated Start menu, the latest Windows 10 build includes some big changes to Alt-Tab. “Beginning with today’s build, all tabs open in Microsoft Edge will start appearing in Alt-Tab, not just the active one in each browser window,” explains Microsoft. This seems like a change that might be a little confusing for veteran Windows users, but Microsoft is thankfully allowing you to switch back to the classic Alt-Tab experience.

Microsoft is also making some smaller changes with this new Windows 10 build. The default taskbar appearance will also now be more personalized with the Xbox app pinned for Xbox Live users or Your Phone pinned for Android users. This will be limited to new account creation on a PC or first login, so existing taskbar layouts will remain unchanged. Notifications now include an X in the top right corner to allow you to quickly dismiss them, and Microsoft is also improving its Settings app in Windows 10. Links that would typically push you toward the system part of the legacy Control Panel system page will now direct you to the About page in Settings. This will now house the more advanced controls typically found in that system section of the Control Panel, and Microsoft is promising “there will be more improvements coming that will further bring Settings closer to Control Panel.”

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Next-Gen Console Games Will Be $10 More Expensive

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If NBA 2K21 is any indication, the price of $59.99 new console games is about to be over: “NBA 2K21 will cost $69.99 on PS5 and Xbox Series X, an increase of $10 compared to the recommended price for the current generation’s AAA titles,” reports TheGamer. From the report: NBA 2K21, which will be released across both generations, will cost $69.99 on PS5 and Series X. That’s $10 more than the game will cost on PS4 and Xbox One. $59.99 is and has been the standard for AAA titles throughout the course of the current generation of consoles, and the generation before that for that matter. Although a recommended price of $69.99 might not apply to all of the next-gen’s top titles, NBA 2K21’s pricing certainly implies that will be the case. Comments from others in the industry have also hinted that the price will be upped across the board.

Former PlayStation exec Shawn Layden suggested during a recent interview that the price of next-gen games would have to be increased. Either that or the length of AAA titles would have to be shorter. For games like NBA 2K21, that isn’t really an option. Chances are developers won’t want to sacrifice storytelling just so they can charge less for a game, so be prepared to pay a little extra for quality games in the years to come.

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Firefox 78: Protections Dashboard, New Developer Features, and the End of the Line For Older MacOS Versions

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williamyf shares a report from The Register: Mozilla has released Firefox 78 with a new Protections Dashboard and a bunch of updates for web developers. This is also the last supported version of Firefox for macOS El Capitan (10.11) and earlier. Firefox is on a “rapid release plan,” which means a new version every four to five weeks. This means that major new features should not be expected every time. That said, Firefox 78 is also an extended support release (ESR), which means users who stick with ESR get updates from this and the previous 10 releases. The main new user-facing feature in Firefox 78 is the Protections Dashboard, a screen which shows trackers and scripts blocked, a link to the settings, a link to Firefox Monitor for checking your email address against known data breaches, and a button for password management.

Developers get a bunch of new features. The Accessibility inspector is out of beta — this is a tab in the developer tools that will check a page for accessibility issues when enabled. Source maps are a JavaScript feature that map minified code back to the original code to make debugging easier. Firefox has a Map option that lets you use source maps in the debugger, and this now works with logpoints, a type of breakpoint that writes a message to the console rather than pausing execution, so that you see the original variable names. Mozilla has also worked on debugging JavaScript promises, so you can see more detail when exceptions are thrown.

A big feature for debugging web applications when running on mobile is the ability to connect an Android phone with USB, and navigate and refresh mobile web pages from the desktop. Patience is required though, since this will only work with a forthcoming new version of Firefox for Android. Mozilla has been working on a new Regular Expression (RegExp) evaluator and this is included in SpiderMonkey (Mozilla’s JavaScript engine) in Firefox 78. This brings the evaluator up to date with the requirements of ECMAScript 2018.

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Ads Are Taking Over Samsung’s Galaxy Smartphones

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Max Weinbach, writing for Android Police: I have been using Samsung phones every day for almost 4 years. It was because Samsung had fantastic hardware paired with –depending on the year — good software. 2020 is the first year in a while I’m not using a Samsung phone as my daily driver. The reason? Ads. Ads in Samsung phones never really bothered me, at least not until the past few months. It started with the Galaxy Z Flip. A tweet from Todd Haselton of CNBC is what really caught my eye. Samsung had put an ad from DirectTV in the stock dialer app. This is really something I never would have expected from any smartphone company, let alone Samsung. It showed up in the “Places” tab in the dialer app, which is in partnership with Yelp and lets you search for different businesses directly from the dialer app so you don’t need to Google somewhere to find the address or phone number. I looked into it, to see if this was maybe a mistake on Yelp’s part, accidentally displaying an ad where it shouldn’t have, but nope. The ad was placed by Samsung, in an area where it could blend in so they could make money.

Similar ads exist throughout a bunch of Samsung apps. Samsung Music has ads that look like another track in your library. Samsung Health and Samsung Pay have banners for promotional ads. The stock weather app has ads that look like they could be news. There is also more often very blatant advertising in most of these apps as well. Samsung Music will give you a popup ad for Sirius XM, even though Spotify is built into the Samsung Music app. You can hide the SiriusXM popup, but only for 7 days at a time. A week later, it will be right back there waiting for you. Samsung will also give you push notification ads for new products from Bixby, Samsung Pay, and Samsung Push Service.

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Android’s AirDrop Competitor Is Coming Soon

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Android’s long-awaited “Nearby Sharing” feature, which allows you to share files between Android devices wirelessly, is rolling out to beta testers. Android Police reports: Nearby Sharing may appear slightly differently depending on the type of content you try to share. In all cases, it shows up as an app in the apps list on the share sheet, but you may also get a smaller prompt just under the content preview, more like it did in the previous Android 11 video leak. We tested it on a Pixel 4 XL and Pixel 3a running Android 10, but the appearance may also vary on other versions of Android. Note that Nearby Share works for both files like photos or videos, as well as other shareable content like Tweets and URLs. It probably works with a lot of things.

Select Nearby Share in the share sheet as the target, and you’re prompted to turn on the feature, if it’s the first time you’ve used it. The quick setup process lets you configure your default device name and device visibility settings, though those can also be changed later. Once you have it enabled, Nearby Sharing starts looking for other nearby devices. The interface is pretty simple: A big X in the top left corner backs you out, your avatar on the right takes you to a settings pane that lets you configure things like your device name, visibility, and which mechanism to use to make the transfer (i.e., whether to use your internet connection for small files, to stick to Wi-Fi, or to always share offline). Google says Nearby Share is currently in limited testing via the Play Services beta: “We’re currently conducting a beta test of a new Nearby Share feature that we plan to share more information on in the future. Our goal is to launch the feature with support for Android 6+ devices as well as other platforms.”

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First Apple Silicon Benchmarks Destroy Surface Pro X

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As expected, developers with early access to Apple silicon-based transition kits have leaked some early benchmarks scores. And it’s bad news for Surface Pro X and Windows 10 on ARM fans. Thurrott reports: According to multiple Geekbench scores, the Apple Developer Transition Kit — a Mac Mini-like device with an Apple A12Z system-on-a-chip (SoC), 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of SSD storage — delivers an average single-core score of 811 and an average multi-core score of 2871. Those scores represent the performance of the device running emulated x86/64 code under macOS Big Sur’s Rosetta 2 emulator.

Compared to modern PCs with native Intel-type chipsets, that’s not all that impressive, but that’s to be expected since it’s emulated. But compared to Microsoft’s Surface Pro X, which has the fastest available Qualcomm-based ARM chipset and can run Geekbench natively — not emulated — it’s amazing: Surface Pro X only averages 764 on the single-core test and 2983 in multi-core. Right. The emulated performance of the Apple silicon is as good or better than the native performance of the SQ-1-based Surface Pro X. This suggests that the performance of native code on Apple silicon will be quite impressive, and will leave Surface Pro X and WOA in the dust.

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‘Google Blew a Ten-Year Lead’

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An anonymous reader shares a column: Back when there were rumors of Google building an operating system, I thought “Lol.” Then I watched then-PM Sundar Pichai announce Chrome OS. My heart raced. It was perfect. I got my email through Gmail, I wrote documents on Docs, I listened to Pandora, I viewed photos on TheFacebook. Why did I need all of Windows Vista? In 2010, I predicted that by 2020 Chrome OS would be the most popular desktop OS in the world. It was fast, lightweight, and $0. “Every Windows and OS X app will be re-built for the browser!” I thought. Outlook > Gmail. Excel > Sheets. Finder > Dropbox. Photoshop > Figma. Terminal > Repl.it. All of your files would be accessible by whoever you wanted, wherever you wanted, all the time. It was obvious. Revolutionary. I haven’t installed MSFT Office on a machine since 2009. Sheets and Docs have been good enough for me. The theoretical unlimited computing power and collaboration features meant Google Docs was better than Office (and free!). Then something happened at Google. I’m not sure what. But they stopped innovating on cloud software.

Docs and Sheets haven’t changed in a decade. Google Drive remains impossible to navigate. Sharing is complicated. Sheets freezes up. I can’t easily interact with a Sheets API (I’ve tried!). Docs still shows page breaks by default! WTF! Even though I have an iPhone and a MacBook, I’ve been married to Google services. I browse Chrome. I use Gmail. I get directions and lookup restaurants on Maps. I’m a YouTube addict. Yet I’ve been ungluing myself from Google so far this year. Not because of Google-is-reading-my-emails-and-tracking-every-keystroke reasons, but because I like other software so much more that it’s worth switching. At WWDC, Apple shared Safari stats for macOS Big Sur. It reminded me how much Chrome makes my machine go WHURRRRRR. […] I’ve given up on Google Docs. I can never find the documents Andy shares with me. The formatting is tired and stuck in the you-might-print-this-out paradigm. Notion is a much better place to write and brainstorm with people. The mobile Google results page is so cluttered that I switched my iPhone’s default search to DuckDuckGo. The results are a tad worse, but I’m never doing heavy-duty searches on the go. And now I don’t have to scroll past 6 ads to get the first result. DuckDuckGo’s privacy is an added bonus.

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What Comes After Zoom?

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Analyst Benedict Evans writes: There will be video in everything, just as there is voice in everything, and there will be a great deal of proliferation into industry verticals on one hand and into unbundling pieces of the tech stack on the other. On one hand video in healthcare, education or insurance is about the workflow, the data model and the route to market, and lots more interesting companies will be created, and on the other hand Slack is deploying video on top of Amazon’s building blocks, and lots of interesting companies will be created here as well.

There’s lots of bundling and unbundling coming, as always. Everything will be ‘video’ and then it will disappear inside. An important part of this is that there seem to be few real network effects in a video call per se. You don’t necessarily need an account to join a call, and you generally don’t need an application either, especially on the desktop — you just click on a link in your calendar and the call opens in the browser. Indeed, the calendar is often the aggregation layer — you don’t need to know what service the next call uses, just when it is. Skype needed both an account and an app, so had a network effect (and lost even so). WhatsApp uses the telephone numbering system as an address and so piggybacked on your phone’s contact list- effectively it used the PSTN as the social graph rather than having to build its own. But a group video call is a URL and a calendar invitation — it has no graph of its own.

Incidentally, one of the ways that this all feels very 1.0 is the rather artificial distinction between calls that are based on a ‘room’, where the addressing system is a URL and anyone can join without an account, and calls that are based on ‘people’, where everyone joining needs their own address, whether it’s a phone number, an account or something else. Hence Google has both Meet (URLs) and Duo (people) — Apple’s FaceTime is only people (no URLs). Taking this one step further, a big part of the friction that Zoom removed was that you don’t need an account, an app or a social graph to use it: Zoom made network effects irrelevant. But, that means Zoom doesn’t have those network effects either. It grew by removing defensibility.

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Apple WatchOS 7 Unveiled With Sleep Tracking, Shareable Watch Faces and a Hand Washing Timer

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At the WWDC 2020 keynote today, Apple unveiled WatchOS 7, adding sleep tracking features, shareable watch faces, a hand washing timer, and much more. CNET reports: WatchOS 7 adds much-anticipated sleep tracking features, including a Wind Down mode to help you get to bed on time. When you wake up, you’ll see a visualization of your previous night’s sleep, including periods of wake and sleep, and a chart showing weekly sleep trends. While the watch lacks a watch face store, the new software adds the ability to share customized watch faces and complications. If a shared watch face uses apps you don’t have, you’ll be able to download them easily. You can also easily share a face you’ve created yourself with a contact, or across social media.

In terms of health and fitness, WatchOS 7’s Workout app adds support for four new workouts: core training, dance, functional strength training and cool down. The Activity app where you track your workouts will now be called Fitness, and will include a new Summary tab that gives you an easy way to see your activity history, workouts and trends, all in one view. With WatchOS 7, you’ll be able to use Siri to translate several languages directly from your wrist. Like on iOS 14, in the Apple Maps app on WatchOS 7, you’ll be able to see cycling-specific directions on your watch in some cities. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, WatchOS will use machine learning to determine when you start washing your hands, and sets a timer so you know you’re getting the recommended 20-second wash.

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Apple Will Let You Emulate Old Apps, Run iOS Apps on ARM Macs

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At the WWDC 2020 keynote today, Apple announced that the company is going to switch from Intel chips to Apple’s own silicon, based on ARM architecture. They also announced that iPad and iPhone apps will be able to run natively on ARM-powered Macs. TechCrunch reports: First, you’ll be able to compile your app to run both on Intel-based Macs and ARM-based Macs. You can ship those apps with both executables using a new format called Universal 2. If you’ve been using a Mac for a while, you know that Apple used the same process when it switched from PowerPC CPUs to Intel CPUs — one app, two executables. As for unoptimized software, you’ll still be able to run those apps. But its performances won’t be as good as what you’d get from a native ARM-ready app. Apple is going to ship Rosetta 2, an emulation layer that lets you run old apps on new Macs.

When you install an old app, your Mac will examine the app and try to optimize it for your ARM processor. This way, there will be some level of optimization even before you open the app. But what if it’s a web browser or a complicated app with just-in-time code? Rosetta 2 can also translate instructions from x86 to ARM on the fly, while you’re running the app. And if you’re a developer working on code that is going to run on servers, Apple is also working on a set of virtualization tools. You’ll be able to run Linux and Docker on an ARM Mac.

As a bonus, users will also be able to access a much larger library of apps. “Mac users can for the first time run iOS and iPadOS apps on the Mac,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. While the company didn’t share a lot of details, Apple isn’t talking about Catalyst, its own framework that makes it easier to port iOS apps to macOS. You should be able to download and run apps even if the developer never optimized those apps for macOS.

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Reporter Tests Walmart’s $140 Laptop ‘So You Wouldn’t Have To’

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Ars Technica’s technology reporter Jim Salter tested Walmart’s 11.6-inch EVOO laptop, which sells for $139 and ships with just 2GiB of RAM and a 32GB SSD, which he worries “simply is not enough room for Windows itself, let alone any applications.”
The first thing I noticed while looking through the Windows install is that our “internal” Wi-Fi is actually a cheap USB 2.0 Realtek adapter — and it’s 2.4GHz-only 802.11n, at that. The second thing I noticed was the fact that I couldn’t install even simple applications, because the laptop was in S mode. For those unfamiliar, S mode locks a system into using only the Edge browser and only apps from the Microsoft Store. Many users end up badly confused by S mode, and some unnecessarily buy a new copy of Windows trying to get out of it. Fortunately, if you click the “learn more” link in the S mode warning that pops up when you attempt to load a non-Store app, you are eventually led to a free Microsoft Store app which turns S mode off. On my first try, this app crashed. But on the second, it successfully disabled S mode, leaving me with a normal Windows install….
I verified that I was on an older version of Windows 10 — build 1903, from March 2019 — and initiated an upgrade to build 2004, from April 2020. Windows 10 was having none of it. It wanted at least 8GiB of free space on C:, and I couldn’t even get to 6GiB free, after only a day of using the system…. Meaningful benchmark results were impossible to attain on this laptop, since it was too slow and quirky to even run the benchmarks reliably. But I didn’t let a silly thing like “being obviously inappropriate” stop me from slogging painfully through the benchmarks and getting what numbers I could. The first suite up, PCMark 10, eventually produced a score of zero. I didn’t know that a zero score was even possible. Apparently, it is… Cinebench R20 also took several tries to complete successfully, and eventually the test produced a jaw-droppingly bad score of 118…

Under Fedora 32 — selected due to its ultra-modern kernel, and lightweight Wayland display manager — the EVOO was incredibly balky and sluggish. To be fair, Fedora felt significantly snappier than Windows 10 had on this laptop, but that was a very, very low bar to hurdle. The laptop frequently took as long as 12 seconds just to launch Firefox. Actually navigating webpages wasn’t much better, with very long pauses for no apparent reason. The launcher was also balky to render — and this time, with significantly lower memory usage than Windows, I couldn’t just blame it on swap thrashing… [W]ith the laptop completely open, several questions are answered — the reason I hadn’t heard any fan noise up until this point is because there is no fan, and the horrible CPU performance is because the CPU can’t perform any better than it does without cooking itself in its own juices….
At first, I mistakenly assumed that the A4-9120 was just thermally throttling itself 24/7. After re-assembling it and booting back into Fedora, I found the real answer — the normally 2.5GHz chip is underclocked to an anemic 1.5GHz. The system BIOS confirms this clockrate but offers no room to adjust it — which is a shame, since the system never hit temperatures higher than about 62C in my testing.
His verdict? Walmart’s EVOO laptop “doesn’t have either the RAM or the storage to do an even vaguely reasonable job for normal people doing normal things under Windows, even when limited to S mode…
“There may be a purpose this laptop is well-suited to — but for the life of me, I cannot think what it might be.”

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David Heinemeier Hansson Explains What It Takes to Write Great Code

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The “bespoke development” site Evrone.com (an IT outsourcing company) interviewed Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson (who is also co-founder and CTO of Basecamp — and a racecar driver) shortly before he spoke at RubyRussia, Evrone’s annual Moscow programming conference.
And they asked him an interesting question. As a man who’s seen lots of Ruby code, “what makes code good or shitty? Anything that is obvious for you at first glance?”
David Heinemeier Hansson: If the code is poorly written, usually it smells before you even examine the logic. Indentation is off, styles are mixed, care is simply not shown. Beyond that, learning how to write great code, is a life long pursuit. As I said in my RailsConf 2014 keynote, we’re not software engineers, we’re software writers. “Writing” is a much more suitable metaphor for what we do most of the time than “engineering” is. Writing is about clarity and presenting information in a clear-to-follow manner so that anybody can understand it.

There’s no list of principles and practices that somebody can be taught and then they will automatically produce clear writing every time. If you want to be a good writer, it’s not enough just to memorize the dictionary. Just knowing the words available to you, knowing the patterns of development is not going to make you a good developer. You have to develop an eye. You have to decide that the most important thing for your system is clarity. When you do decide that, you can start developing an eye.

The only way to become a good programmer, where, by definition, I define good programmers as somebody who writes software with clarity, is to read a lot of software and write a lot of software.

In 2016, David Heinemeier Hansson answered questions from Slashdot readers.

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Stack Overflow Explores Why Developers Love TypeScript More Than Python

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Stack Overflow asked 65,000 programmers for their favorite programming language, and this year Microsoft’s TypeScript knocked Python from the #2 spot. So they interviewed Microsoft’s principal engineering lead for the language “to find out what about TypeScript makes it so dang lovable.”
Q: Do you remember why the team came up with TypeScript, why you wanted to release something like this?

A: When I joined the team, there were a lot of people at Microsoft who wanted to develop JavaScript at what we call “application scale.” Teams like TFS and Office wanted to build large JavaScript applications. A lot of those people had familiarity with statically-typed languages — C++, C#, Java, that kind of thing. They wanted to have that static typing available both for conceptual scalability and for the tooling…
Q: Was there a point where you saw an adoption point of no return? Was there something that came along where people were like, oh, yeah, we do TypeScript now?
A: Oh, it was definitely Google announcing that they were going to use TypeScript with Angular. That’s kind of lost to time now. But if you look at the graphs for TypeScript, literally any graph — GitHub stars, downloads, pull requests — you can see the exact point when that Angular announcement came out. And the graph just changes. It never looks back… TypeScript shores up that last rough edge on JavaScript and gives you something that’s just really fun to work with and runs everywhere. I think if TypeScript were a language that was built on top of a less universal language or a less fun language, I don’t think it would be as successful. It’s really taking something that’s great and making it better…

I think my favorite thing that I see is people on the Internet saying, ‘I did this huge refactoring in TypeScript and I was refactoring for three hours. And then I ran my code and it worked the first time.’ In a dynamic language, that would just never, ever happen….

I would just say to people, if static types aren’t a good fit for you, for either your programming style or the problem you’re working on, just skip it. That’s fine. It’s okay. I won’t be offended. If someone can get a thirty thousand line application that gets its job done without static types, I’m very impressed. That just seems really difficult. But kudos to those people who make it work. Python’s the same way. Very few people have working Python type annotations, but Python is incredibly popular. I think the data speaks for itself — I think Python is number three in the survey… I guarantee you that a very small proportion of those Python developers have static types. Whatever your problem domain is, that might be the best fit for you.

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Microsoft’s GitHub Offers Open-Source Developers ‘One Linter to Rule Them All’

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“GitHub says it’s open-sourcing its in-house linting tool, the GitHub Super Linter, to clean up code,” reports ZDNet:

Having a tool that checks source code for programming blunders and other errors is useful for developers. Now Microsoft-owned GitHub has released the ‘Super Linter’ to help developers avoid the hassles of setting up code repositories with multiple linters…

GitHub describes it as a “simple combination of various linters, written in bash, to help validate your source code” for the purpose of preventing broken code from being uploaded to a ‘master’ branch, the key branch that other branches in a tree are merged to… The Super Linter Action lets developers ‘lint’ or check their code base using popular linters for Python, JavaScript, Go, XML, YAML, and more programming languages. As such, GitHub engineer Lucas Gravley describes the Super Linter as the “one linter to rule them all”.

“The GitHub Super Linter was built out of necessity by the GitHub Services DevOps Engineering team to maintain consistency in our documentation and code while making communication and collaboration across the company a more productive experience,” says Gravley… “When you’ve set your repository to start running this action, any time you open a pull request, it will start linting the code case and return via the Status API. It will let you know if any of your code changes passed successfully, or if any errors were detected, where they are, and what they are,” explains Gravley.
The Super Linter doesn’t fix problems but does flag them, so developers can then go back and fix them before they reach the master branch.

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Dropbox is a Total Mess

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Veteran journalist Om Malik, writing on his blog: I was reading Nikita Prokopov’s blog this morning and came across his very visual damnation of what is wrong with Dropbox. Like me, he too had thought that “in the beginning, Dropbox was great, but in the last few years, they started to bloat up.” He visually shows that as an existing customer, you need to jump through a dozen hoops to get Dropbox going on a new machine. And if you are just signing up, add another five steps. His sentiments reflect my feelings about Dropbox, as well. When I fell in love with Dropbox, it had not even launched. It was simple and elegant. It was nothing like anything I had experienced before. And I wasn’t alone. The company was one of the fastest-growing companies in Silicon Valley, because of customers appreciated their simplicity and ease of use. Their revenues and userbase grew at an astonishing speed. For nearly a decade, I stayed loyal to the service, but like Prokopov, I too felt the bloat was getting too much. […] I don’t blame Dropbox going the way they have — they are less about the individual customers and more focused on teams and corporations. That’s where the money is — and when you go public, you are all about the “quarterly goals.” You don’t go public without knowing that Wall Street owns you.

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Lego Unveils New ‘Robot Inventor’ Mindstorms Kit

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After seven years, Lego has finally unveiled a new Mindstorms kit, reports PC Magazine — the Lego Mindstorms Robot Inventor, available this fall for $359:
The Robot Inventor kit lets kids (or adults) build five different robot models out of 949 pieces, ranging from a four-legged walker to a bipedal wheeled robot that can give high-fives. All of these robots can be programmed to perform different tricks, like grabbing items, firing plastic projectiles, avoiding obstacles, and playing various sports with a ball.

The kit includes four low-profile, medium-angular motors; a color and light sensor; and a distance sensor, which work together with the Intelligent Hub block to power these robots and execute commands. Of course, like all Mindstorms kits, you can build your own robotic creations with the tools at hand, and add Lego Technic and System pieces for more complex projects.

The Intelligent Hub serves as the brain of Lego Mindstorms, and the block that houses the Mindstorms Robot Inventor Kit is the most advanced one yet. It features six input/output ports for sensors and motors, a six-axis gyro/accelerometer, a speaker, and a five-by-five LED matrix. The Intelligent Hub and all robots built with it can be controlled wirelessly over Bluetooth with the Lego Mindstorms Robot Inventor app for Android, iOS, Windows 10, and macOS. The app supports programming in both the tile-based Scratch language and in Python, for more complex projects that require the precision of written code.

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Why One of Kubernetes’ Creators Moved From Google To Microsoft

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Long-time Slashdot reader destinyland writes: One of the three Google employees who created Kubernetes — the open source container-orchestration platform now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation — was software engineer Brendan Burns. But in 2016 Burns became an engineer at Microsoft (where since March he’s been a corporate vice president at Microsoft).
This week in a new podcast interview , Burns explained why he went from Google to Microsoft, which was “all-in on cloud”:

Obviously growing up in Seattle, Microsoft is sort of like the home-town team — so that was a big plus also. And it’s been great to be able to come in and really help them figure out — I think one of the really amazing things about being there is it’s a company in transition. Certainly four years ago when I joined, it’s a company in transition. And getting a chance to help continue that transition, and help continue and shift its focus from closed-source and Windows to a really renewed focus on open source and Linux and cloud native application development — that ability to influence and help shape direction has been really awesome also.
But it was more than just their commitment to the cloud…
“There’s just such a great developer history there, of developer tooling and developer productivity. Just such a focus on empowering people to build stuff. That’s really compelling to me too, because I think one of the things we really haven’t done a good job of in Kubernetes is make it easier to build these programs. Right? We do a lot to make it easier to operate the stuff, but it’s still really hard to build these systems, and Kubernetes isn’t helping you at all. So I’m really excited and interested and thinking a lot about how can we make it easier for developers to build systems. And I think the DNA and history and experience of Microsoft to build things, the hugely successful platform that is Windows, means there’s just a great — a really strong amount of DNA about what it takes to build a platform that doesn’t just succeed for elite devs but can really succeed for people all the way from no-code solutions all the way through to advance systems solutions. And so that opportunity is really exciting.

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