Wednesday 30 November 2016

Docker + Dataflow = happier workflows

When I first saw the Google Cloud Dataflow monitoring UI -- with its visual flow execution graph that updates as your job runs, and convenient links to the log messages -- the idea came to me. What if I could take that UI, and use it for something it was never built for? Could it be connected with open source projects aimed at promoting reproducible scientific analysis, like Common Workflow Language (CWL) or Workflow Definition Language (WDL)?
Screenshot of a Dockerflow workflow for DNA sequence analysis.

In scientific computing, it’s really common to submit jobs to a local high-performance computing (HPC) cluster. There are tools to do that in the cloud, like Elasticluster and Starcluster. They replicate the local way of doing things, which means they require a bunch of infrastructure setup and management that the university IT department would otherwise do. Even after you’re set up, you still have to ssh into the cluster to do anything. And then there are a million different choices for workflow managers, each unsatisfactory in its own special way.

By day, I’m a product manager. I hadn’t done any serious coding in a few years. But I figured it shouldn’t be that hard to create a proof-of-concept, just to show that the Apache Beam API that Dataflow implements can be used for running scientific workflows. Now, Dataflow was created for a different purpose, namely, to support scalable data-parallel processing, like transforming giant data sets, or computing summary statistics, or indexing web pages. To use Dataflow for scientific workflows would require wrapping up shell steps that launch VMs, run some code, and shuttle data back and forth from an object store. It should be easy, right?

It wasn’t so bad. Over the weekend, I downloaded the Dataflow SDK, ran the wordcount examples, and started modifying. I had a “Hello, world” proof-of-concept in a day.

To really run scientific workflows would require more, of course. Varying VM shapes, a way to pass parameters from one step to the next, graph definition, scattering and gathering, retries. So I shifted into prototyping mode.

I created a new GitHub project called Dockerflow. With Dockerflow, workflows can be defined in YAML files. They can also be written in pretty compact Java code. You can run a batch of workflows at once by providing a CSV file with one row per workflow to define the parameters.

Dataflow and Docker complement each other nicely:

  • Dataflow provides a fully managed service with a nice monitoring interface, retries,  graph optimization and other niceties.
  • Docker provides portability of the tools themselves, and there's a large library of packaged tools already available as Docker images.

While Dockerflow supports a simple YAML workflow definition, a similar approach could be taken to implement a runner for one of the open standards like CWL or WDL.

To get a sense of working with Dockerflow, here’s “Hello, World” written in YAML:

name: HelloWorkflow
- defn:
name: Hello
name: message
defaultValue: Hello, World!
imageName: ubuntu
cmd: echo $message

And here’s the same example written in Java:

public class HelloWorkflow implements WorkflowDefn {
public Workflow createWorkflow(String[] args) throws IOException {
Task hello =
TaskBuilder.named("Hello").input("message", “Hello, World!”).docker(“ubuntu”).script("echo $message").build();
return TaskBuilder.named("HelloWorkflow").steps(hello).args(args).build();

Dockerflow is just a prototype at this stage, though it can run real workflows and includes many nice features, like dry runs, resuming failed runs from mid-workflow, and, of course, the nice UI. It uses Cloud Dataflow in a way that was never intended -- to run scientific batch workflows rather than large-scale data-parallel workloads. I wish I’d written it in Python rather than Java. The Dataflow Python SDK wasn’t quite as mature when I started.

Which is all to say, it’s been a great 20% project, and the future really depends on whether it solves a problem people have, and if others are interested in improving on it. We welcome your contributions and comments! How do you run and monitor scientific workflows today?

By Jonathan Bingham, Google Genomics and Verily Life Sciences

Read the full article here by Google Open Source Blog

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Decades after Chernobyl disaster, engineers slide high-tech shelter over reactor

You can now play Pac-Man and more arcade faves in Facebook Messenger

Another way for social media to distract you

Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Galaga and other arcade classics are now playable on another platform: Facebook. The social media giant has introduced Instant Games, a new gaming feature, to Messenger and the news feed, making popular titles easily accessible while visiting Facebook.

Instant Games is now in closed beta, with a full launch date not yet specified. Players can launch the feature by tapping an icon in the messaging field, as well as while scrolling through the news feed. The feature will work on mobile and web, and will include social features without any added installations. Watch the how-to video above for a sense of how Instant Games will work once it’s live for everyone.

The full list of 17 games included in the Instant Games launch library features those familiar to heavy Facebook users, like Shuffle Cats and Words with Friends. More exciting are the old-school favorites, which run the gamut from Bandai Namco’s Pac-Man, to Konami’s Track & Field 100M, to Taito Corporation’s Puzzle Bobble. Here’s what’s playable starting today:

  • PAC-MAN (BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.)
  • Galaga (BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.)
  • TRACK & FIELD 100M (Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.)
  • Words with Friends: Frenzy (Zynga)
  • Shuffle Cats Mini (King)
  • EverWing (Blackstorm)
  • Hex (FRVR)
  • Endless Lake (Spilgames)
  • Templar 2048 (Vonvon)
  • The Tribez: Puzzle Rush (Game Insight)
  • 2020 Connect (Softgames)
  • Puzzle Bobble (TAITO CORPORATION / Blackstorm)
  • Zookeeper (Kiteretsu)
  • Brick Pop (Gamee)
  • Wordalot Express (MAG Interactive)

Facebook also has an array of games available as separate apps within the platform. While many of these remain popular, the Facebook game craze reached an apex in the late-00s, thanks to free-to-play titles like FarmVille.

In 2013, Dan Morris, Facebook’s head of gaming partnerships, told us that the social media company was looking into ways to keep players gaming on the site as downloadable, off-platform mobile games grew in popularity. Mobile gaming is now a huge industry, and Instant Games seems to be the realization of Facebook’s years of trying to break its way inside.

Read the full article here by Polygon

Sunday 27 November 2016

F1 | Ricciardo: “Frustrato per la strategia”

Solo un quinto posto nell’ultima gara dell’anno per Daniel Ricciardo che così non vede esaudite le sue speranze di lottare...

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Saturday 26 November 2016

Unix history repository, now on GitHub


The history and evolution of the Unix operating system is made available as a revision management repository, covering the period from its inception in 1970 as a 2.5 thousand line kernel and 26 commands, to 2016 as a widely-used 27 million line system. The 1.1GB repository contains about half a million commits and more than two thousand merges. The repository employs Git system for its storage and is hosted on GitHub. It has been created by synthesizing with custom software 24 snapshots of systems developed at Bell Labs, the University of California at Berkeley, and the 386BSD team, two legacy repositories, and the modern repository of the open source FreeBSD system. In total, about one thousand individual contributors are identified, the early ones through primary research. The data set can be used for empirical research in software engineering, information systems, and software archaeology.

The project aims to put in the repository as much metadata as possible, allowing the automated analysis of Unix history.

Read the full article here by OSNews

Slow Down to Go Faster

Thursday 24 November 2016

Unity details Xiaomi partnership

Unity details Xiaomi partnership

Unity has offered up further information on its deal with Chinese tech outfit Xiaomi that it says can offer developers "unparalleled access and distribution" to China's mobile market. Starting next year, developers will be able to use Unity to publish their games to Xiaomi's app store.

The Chinese firm will also be on hand to offer developers help when negotiating local licensing terms, a process which is viewed as a major obstacle for games companies based outside of China that are trying to break into the country.

The Xiaomi app store is a profitable enough target for developers though, it's had 50 billion apps downloaded from it to date, making access an attractive proposal for many developers, although Unity haven't given an exact timeframe beyond "2017" for exports to Xiaomi to kick off.

Unity will also allow Developers to enable Unity Ads in their title, notable as the first time a third-party ad network has been allowed on any Chinese Android app stores. Developers will also be able to port their IAP's to the app store with Unity IAP.

“A large part of ensuring developer success is providing access to the platforms that matter most,” said Andrew Tang, China Country Manager at Unity Technologies.

“By partnering with Xiaomi we can help Unity developers bring their creative vision to a massive audience and accelerate the progress of quality entertainment worldwide.”



Read the full article here by Develop Feed

x86 emulation rumored to be coming to Windows for ARM in late 2017

Microsoft is working on an emulator enabling systems with ARM processors to run x86 applications, according to sources speaking to Mary Jo Foley, and the capability will ship in the update codenamed "Redstone 3," currently due for fall 2017. This will be the third Minecraft-inspired Redstone codename; this year's Anniversary Update was Redstone 1, and the Creators Update coming in spring next year is Redstone 2.

Ever since Microsoft announced Windows on ARM in 2012, there's been an immediate problem that prevents the port of the operating system from having mainstream appeal: it doesn't run Windows applications, because almost all Windows applications are compiled for x86 processors.

This isn't such a big deal for Windows on phones because phone applications have to be purpose-built to include a phone user interface, but it was one of the things that made Windows RT tablets, including Microsoft's own Surface, broadly undesirable. And even while it isn't an issue for phone apps per se, it limits Microsoft's ambitions somewhat with Windows Mobile's Continuum feature. With Continuum, a Windows Mobile phone can connect to a keyboard, mouse, and screen, and the phone can run desktop-style applications. Currently, Continuum is limited to running UWP applications; these apps can offer dual user interfaces, adapting to whether being used in phone mode or Continuum mode. It would be logical and obvious to extend this to allow true Windows desktop applications to run in Continuum mode—but that raises the x86/ARM incompatibility issue once more.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read the full article here by Ars Technica

Microsoft's x86 on ARM64 Emulation: A Windows 10 Redstone 3 Fall 2017 Feature

Mary Jo Foley, reporting for ZDNet:Since January 2016 (and maybe before), there's been talk that Microsoft was working on bringing x86 emulation to ARM processors. Sources of mine are now saying that this capability is coming to Windows 10, though not until "Redstone 3" in the Fall of 2017. Here's why this matters: Microsoft officials continue to claim that Continuum -- the capability that will allow Windows 10 Mobile devices to connect to external displays and keyboards -- is going to be a key for the company, its partners and its customers. There's been one very big limitation to Continuum so far, however: It only allows users to run Universal Windows Platform (UWP), and not full-fledged x86 apps. What if an ARM64-based device could run x86 apps via emulation, the same way that the WOW (Windows on Windows) emulator allowed 32-bit apps to run on 64-bit Windows? That would make Windows 10 Mobile, which as of now, continues to support ARM only, and Continuum a lot more interesting, especially to business users who need certain Win32/line-of-business apps.
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Wednesday 23 November 2016

Playing FPS games with deep reinforcement learning

Playing FPS games with deep reinforcement learning Lample et al. arXiv preprint, 2016

When I wrote up ‘Asynchronous methods for deep learning’ last month, I made a throwaway remark that after Go the next challenge for deep learning systems would be to win an esports competition against the best human teams. Can you imagine the theatre!

Source: ‘League of Legends’ video game championship is like the World Cup, Super Bowl combined – Fortune:

Since those are team competitions, it would need to be a team of collaborating software agents playing against human teams. Which would make for some very cool AI technology.

Today’s paper isn’t quite at that level yet, but it does show that progress is already being made on playing first-person shooter (FPS) games in 3D environments.

In this paper, we tackle the task of playing an FPS game in a 3D environment. This task is much more challenging than playing most Atari games as it involves a wide variety of skills, such as navigating through a map, collecting items, recognizing and fighting enemies, etc. Furthermore, states are partially observable, and the agent navigates a 3D environment in a first-person perspective, which makes the task more suitable for real-world robotics applications.

Lample and Chaplot develop an AI agent for playing death matches. I’m not really an FPS kind of person, and had no idea what a deathmatch was. It turns out to be a scenario in which the objective is to maximize the number of kills by a player/agent. Nice. The agent uses separate neural networks for navigation tasks and for action tasks. Experimentation is done using the VizDoom framework for developing AI bots that play Doom. It turns out there’s even been a recent VizDoom competition, with the ‘full deathmatch’ category won by a team from Intel Labs. Here’s a video of their entry in action:

Deep Recurrent Q-Networks

The core of the system is built on a DRQN architecture (Deep Recurrent Q-Network). A regular Deep-Q network, such as that used to play Atari games, receives a full (or very close to full) observation of the environment at each step. But in a game like DOOM where agent’s field of view is limited to 90 degrees centred around its position it only receives a partial observation.

In 2015 Hausknecht and Stone introduced Deep Recurrent Q-Networks which include an extra parameter at each step representing the hidden state of the agent. This can be accomplished by layering a recurrent neural network such as an LSTM on top of a normal DNQ network.

Two models

In a deathmatch, you need to explore the map to collect items and find enemies, and then you need to fight enemies when you find them. Lample and Chaplot use two networks, one for navigation, and one for action. The current phase of the game (and hence which model to use at any given time) is determined by predicting whether or not an enemy is visible in the current frame (action model if so, navigation model otherwise).

There are various advantages of splitting the task into two phases and training a different network for each phase. First, this makes the architecture modular and allows different models to be trained and tested independently… Furthermore, the navigation phase only requires three actions (move forward, turn left, and turn right), which dramatically reduces the number of state-action pairs required to learn the Q-function and makes training much faster. More importantly, using two networks also mitigates ‘camper’ behaviour, i.e. the tendency to stay in one area of the map and wait for enemies, which was exhibited by the agent when we tried to train a single DQN or DRQN for the deathmatch task.


When trained using a vanilla DRQN approach, agents tended either to fire at will, hoping for enemies to wander into their crossfire, or not fire at all when given a penalty for using ammunition. This is because the agent could not effectively learn to detect enemies. To address this, the team gave the agent additional information that it could use during training (but not during actual gameplay or testing). At each training step, in addition to receiving a video frame, the agent received a boolean value for each entity (enemy, health pack, weapon, ammo and so on) indicating whether or not it appeared in the frame.

We modified the DRQN architecture to incorporate this information and to make it sensitive to game features. In the initial model, the output of the CNN is given to a LSTM that predicts a score for each action based on the current frame and its hidden state. We added two fully-connected layers of size 512, and k-connected to the output of the CNN, where k is the number of game features we want to detect… Although a lot of game information was available, we only used an indicator about the presence of enemies on the current frame.

Jointly training the DRQN model and the game feature detection allows the kernels of the convolutional layers to capture relevant information about the game with only a few hours of training needed to reach an optimal enemy detection accuracy of 90%.

The reward function for the action network includes:

  • positive rewards for kills
  • negative rewards for suicides
  • positive rewards for picking up objects
  • negative rewards for losing health
  • negative rewards for shooting or losing ammo

The navigation network was simply given a positive reward for picking up an item, and a negative reward for walking on lava.

A frame-skip of 4 turned out to be best overall balance between training speed and performance (the agent receives a screen input every 4+1 frames, and the action decided by the network is repeated over all the skipped frames). During back-propagation, only action states with enough history to give a reasonable estimation are updated.

Fighting! (evaluation)

Evaluation is done using the delightful kill to death ratio (K/D) as the scoring metric. Table 2 below shows how well the agent performed both on known maps (limited deathmatch) and on unknown maps (full deathmatch).

You can watch the agent play in these videos.

Here’s how it stacks up against human opposition:

The authors conclude:

In this paper, we have presented a complete architecture for playing deathmatch scenarios in FPS games. We introduced a method to augment a DRQN model with high-level game information, and modularized our architecture to incorporate independent networks responsible for different phases of the game. These methods lead to dramatic improvements over the standard DRQN model when applied to complicated tasks like a deathmatch. We showed that the proposed model is able to outperform built-in bots as well as human players and demonstrated the generalizability of our model to unknown maps. Moreover, our methods are complementary to recent improvements in DQN, and could easily be combined with dueling architectures (Wang, de Freitas, and Lanctot 2015), and priorized replay (Schaul et al. 2015).

Read the full article here by the morning paper

Now Shipping: Imploding Kittens

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Read the full article here by The Oatmeal - Comics, Quizzes, & Stories

Tuesday 22 November 2016

The first official 64-bit OS for Raspberry Pi arrives -- but there's a catch

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B is the first 64-bit version of the popular barebones computer, yet despite its processor upgrade, there isn’t an official 64-bit OS available for it. That’s because the Raspberry Pi Foundation has focused instead on making its Raspbian OS run on all generations of Pi. However, the good news is Pi 3 owners can now take advantage of the full capabilities of their device, thanks to SUSE which has released a version of its 64-bit Linux Enterprise Server product that supports Raspberry Pi 3. SEE ALSO: 8 superb -- and cheap -- Raspberry Pi alternatives This… [Continue Reading]

Read the full article here by Betanews

Monday 21 November 2016

The Raspberry Pi 2 Gets A Processor Upgrade

A rumor that has been swirling around the Raspberry Pi hardware community for a significant time has proven to have a basis in fact. The Raspberry Pi 2 has lost its BCM2836 32-bit processor, and gained the 64-bit BCM2837 processor from its newer sibling, the Raspberry Pi 3. It seems this switch was made weeks ago without any fanfare on the release of the Pi 2 V1.2 board revision, so we are among many news sources that were caught on the hop.

The new board is not quite a Pi 3 masquerading as a Pi 2 though. The more capable processor is clocked at a sedate 900MHz as opposed to the Pi 3’s 1.2GHz and there is no Bluetooth or WiFi on board, but the new revision will of course benefit from the extra onboard cache and the 64-bit cores.

This move almost certainly has its roots in saving the cost of BCM2836 production in the face of falling Pi 2 sales after the launch of the Pi 3. It makes sense for the Foundation to keep the Pi 2 in their range though as the board has found a home in many embedded products for which the Pi 3’s wireless capabilities and extra power consumption are not an asset.

Avid collectors of Pi boards will no doubt be running to add this one to their displays, but given that the Pi 2 sells for the same price as a Pi 3 we suspect that most Hackaday readers will go for the faster board. It is still a development worth knowing about though, should you require a faster Pi that is a little less power-hungry. The full specification for the revised board can be found on the Raspberry Pi web site.

The Pi has come a long way since the morning in 2012 when our community brought down the RS and Farnell websites trying to buy one of the first models. This BCM2837 board joins a BCM2837-powered Compute Module as well as the Pi 3. It’s worth reminding you though that there are other players to consider, earlier this year we brought you a look at the Odroid C2, and of course the infamous Apple Device.

Pi 2 header image: Multicherry [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Editorial Note: We originally covered this in Sunday’s Links article but thought it warranted another, expanded mention.

Filed under: news, Raspberry Pi

Read the full article here by Hack a Day

Take-Two CEO: "our competitors burn off their franchises" with yearly releases

Take-Two CEO:

Addressing investors today at an MKM partners event, Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two spoke about why his company doesn't release new entries in its franchises annually as many competitors do, claiming that those annualising their franchises run the risk of "burning out".

Gamespot reported on the speech given by the CEO. Take-Two are responsible for franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Civilisation, X-Com and Bioshock, and Zelnick insisted that a yearly release schedule does more harm than good to blockbuster franchises, suggesting that many well received games properties would see quality slip if a new outing had to release each year.

"It would imply doubling our development teams. It would imply calling into question our quality. And it would imply the risk that consumers tire of these franchises." Said Zelnick "One of the things that's best about Take-Two is our franchises seem to be permanent. They're beloved and permanent. Whereas our competitors burn off their franchises, which means they have to create new ones, which is incredibly difficult to do."

Zelnick keeps his word. Red Dead Redemption 2 was announced last month and will arrive in 2007, 7 years after the original. GTA V released originally in 2013, 6 years after the release of GTA IV.

He could be preaching to the converted however, many yearly franchises that were mainstays of the industry are now starting to move away from the spotlight: Ubisoft released a sequel to hacking game Watch Dogs this year instead of an Assassin's Creed title, the first year without an entry in the series since 2008. Activision on the other hand have moved Call of Duty from a two year release cycle, with two teams working to maintain a yearly release, into a three year cycle, with a third development studio stepping in to give everyone involved while maintaining a yearly release. Whether this will work to keep the franchises healthy remains to be seen.

Read the full article here by Develop Feed

Deleting Facebook App Could Save 20 Percent Of Your Android's Battery Life

The Facebook app for Android must be of alien origin, since their own designers know full well how bad it is but can't seem to fix or even improve it. If you must check the social network on your mobile device, you're better off just using the mobile site or getting a wrapper app. Holly found that his Android's performance and battery life improved dramatically when the Facebook app was removed from the phone. A group of Redditors subsequently jumped in with tests of their own and reported dramatically improved performance when the app was deleted. For TWZ's latest trial the writer tried out the Metal app for Android, which is just a wrapper for Facebook's mobile site. Using a Huawei Nexus 6P for testing, the phone had 20% more battery life over the course of a day. This remained true every day over the course of a week. Comments

Read the full article here by [H]ardOCP News/Article Feed

Sunday 20 November 2016

Sysinternals ships Sysmon 5.0, Process Explorer 16.20

Microsoft Sysinternals has released updates for some of its best tools, including Sysmon 5.0 and Process Explorer 16.20. Sysmon gets a major update, with new support for recording file creations, Registry create and delete options, value sets and key and value renames. Other logged events may include process creations and terminations, driver loads, raw disk access reads, network connections made, and more. The new additions make the tool even more suitable for long-term system monitoring, although it’s also much more awkward to set up than other Sysinternals’ software. Be sure to read the official product page in full if you… [Continue Reading]

Read the full article here by Betanews

Saturday 19 November 2016

Huawei Relaunches Honor 6X as Mate 9 Lite in the International Markets

Now the new Huawei Mate 9 Lite is the same Honor 6X but instead of Honor logo we will be seeing Huawei logo on the front and back of the device.

Read the full article here by Google Alert

Friday 18 November 2016

Accordo FCA-Amazon, Fiat in vendita online

Comprare una macchina nel 21° secolo sta diventando sempre più facile. Con l’accordo tra il Gruppo FCA – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles e il gigante dell’eCommerce Amazon, si possono da oggi acquistare alcuni modelli direttamente online. Fiat 500, Fiat 500 L e Fiat Panda. Sono questi i tre modelli che possono essere acquistati dagli utenti con un click […]

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Building A LoRa PHY With SDR

The Internet of Things is terrible when it’s your toaster. The real fun happens when you have hundreds or thousands of sensors sending data back to a base station every day. That requires low power, and that means LPWAN, the Low Power Wide Area Network.

There are a lot of options for LPWAN, but few are a perfect fit. LoRa is one of the rare exceptions, offering years of operation on a single AA cell, and range measured in miles. Layers two and three of LoRa are available as public documentation, but until now layer one has been patented and proprietary. At the GNU Radio Conference, [Matt Knight] gave a talk on reverse engineering the LoRa PHY with a software defined radio. Now, LoRa is open to everyone, and anyone can decode the chirps transmitted from these tiny, low power devices.

The work presented at the GNU Radio Conference builds upon an earlier talk given a this year’s DEF CON wireless village. This time, though, there’s a complete, open source solution for a LoRa PHY. The experimental setup consisted of a Microchip RN2903 module, and an Ettus B210 SDR, Python, GNURadio, and Baudline. The end result is a GNU Radio module implementing the LoRa PHY.

Until now, the MAC and network layer of LoRa were completely open. The PHY, however, was closed. Chip makers like to sell chips, it seems. Now, equipped only with an SDR, it’s possible to read LoRa chips, listen in on what they’re doing, and uncover one of the most interesting bits about the Internet of Things.

Read the full article here by Hack a Day

New Nokia smartphones will debut in 2017

We've known for quite some time that Nokia will make a comeback in the smartphone industry. But this time around the Finnish company will not be the one building the smartphones, as it has instead opted to license its brand to HMD. It is a clever move, as if things work out Nokia will reap the rewards, but if these efforts fail the damage will be unsubstantial. The company's fans have surely wondered when exactly a new smartphone adorning the Nokia brand will see the light, and the answer is "pretty soon". An official presentation reveals that the "return to smartphones" will… [Continue Reading]

Read the full article here by Betanews

Microsoft Becomes Linux Foundation Platinum Member

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announced that Microsoft has joined the organization at a Platinum member during Microsoft's Connect(); developer event in New York. From cloud computing and networking to gaming, Microsoft has steadily increased its engagement in open source projects and communities. The company is currently a leading open source contributor on GitHub and earlier this year announced several milestones that indicate the scope of its commitment to open source development. The company released the open source .NET Core 1.0; partnered with Canonical to bring Ubuntu to Windows 10; worked with FreeBSD to release an image for Azure; and after acquiring Xamarin, Microsoft open sourced its software development kit. In addition, Microsoft works with companies like Red Hat, SUSE and others to support their solutions in its products. Comments

Read the full article here by [H]ardOCP News/Article Feed

Thursday 17 November 2016

(PR) Microsoft Joins the Linux Foundation

On Wednesday, during its annual Connect(); developer event, Microsoft Corp. unveiled a series of products and partnerships that strengthen the company's Azure cloud platform for building intelligent, cross-platform apps and services. Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie detailed significant steps Microsoft is taking to empower the ecosystem by giving developers greater choice in the tools they use - including joining the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member to better collaborate with the open source community, welcoming Google to the independent .NET Foundation, and working with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to enable .NET developers to build apps for more than 50 million Samsung devices worldwide.

Guthrie also demonstrated a preview of Visual Studio for Mac, which enables developers to write cloud, mobile and macOS apps on Apple's Mac operating system using the popular development environment; a preview of the next version of the company's flagship SQL Server database with support for Linux, Linux-based Docker containers and Windows-based environments; and a preview of Azure App Service on Linux with support for containers.

Read the full article here by techPowerUp!

Monday 14 November 2016

NES Classic joins the “can it run Linux” club, has custom distro installed

lucky few were able to secure and purchase the new NES Classic Edition when it launched on Friday, but not every buyer is playing games on it. The hacking community has pounced upon the device to see what the little box can do, and you know what that means: installing Linux.

Or, at least, your own Linux kernel. The NES Classic Edition already runs on Linux, and Nintendo has complied with open source license rules by offering downloads of the tiny hardware's Linux source files. While a few enterprising hackers have posted about connecting a serial cable to the motherboard and trying to install their own kernels, one Japanese hacker pulled it off—and posted a guide explaining how he did so. (If you really care, he also posted the entire bootlog from his first successful boot.)

The explanation, from a hacker who goes by the handle urandom, is currently written in Japanese, but thanks to Google Translate we can understand it to some extent. Using a serial-to-USB cable, urandom powered the device (in his case, the Japan-only Famicom Mini, which has an identical motherboard) using U-Boot loader software and then extracted necessary files in FEL mode that he needed to attach to his own kernel.

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Read the full article here by Ars Technica

Writing a Windows 3 emulator


We all know the feeling. You just want to use some of your favourite 16bit Windows applications, only to realise that since you moved to 64bit, Windows no longer runs them. This gets me every time, probably 4-5 times a day. Every time I'm like - there's got to be a better way than firing up my old 386 laptop, or running an entire Windows 3.x VM just to get my daily fix of Skifree.


I jest, of course, but when Brad Robinson's partner, Jen, wanted to play some old 16bit Windows games, he did actually want to create a less frustrating user experience. So, he decided to write a Windows 3 emulator.

The basic idea is to write a program that can read a 16-bit Windows executable file, run it on an emulated CPU and map any 16-bit API calls that it makes onto the x64 equivalents.

The emulator itself isn't available just yet, but his series of articles on Medium detailing its development are fascinating reads.

Read the full article here by OSNews

Sunday 13 November 2016

PyPy2.7 v5.6 Brings C API Compatibility Layer Improvements, Other Benefits

Today's PyPy2.7 v5.6 release as a Python interpreter alternative to CPython 2.7 while offering better performance has added some new functionality...

Read the full article here by Phoronix

Facebook Buys Black Market Passwords To Keep Your Account Safe

I would like this idea a whole lot better if there was just some way to not give money to crooks. Good idea, and it still means you are one step behind the hackers, but at least it's something. To check that Facebook members are not choosing these commonly used passwords for their accounts, Stamos revealed, the social network buys passwords hackers are selling on the black market and cross-references them with encrypted passwords used on the site. He described the task as "computationally heavy" but said that as a result of the exercise Facebook has been able to alert tens of millions of users that their passwords needed changing because they weren't strong enough. Comments

Read the full article here by [H]ardOCP News/Article Feed

Saturday 12 November 2016

Facebook Demonstrates 20 Gbps Millimeter Wireless Broadband

I have no clue how this millimeter-wave stuff really works, but any fresh take on fast wireless deserves interest. The goal of all of this is to provide connectivity to areas with problems such as unreliable power sources, so they have some interesting challenges to deal with such as powering wireless links solely with solar panels. Earlier this year we tested a terrestrial point-to-point link in Southern California, and are excited to announce that we've demonstrated a record data rate of nearly 20 Gbps over 13 km with MMW technology. Using a set of custom-built components, the team achieved this milestone with only 105 watts of total direct current (DC) power consumption at the transmitter and receiver. The transmission used a bandwidth of 2 GHz, resulting in an overall spectral efficiency of 9.8 bits per second per Hertz. To put this in perspective, our demonstrated capacity is enough data to stream almost 1,000 ultra-high-definition videos at the same time. Comments

Read the full article here by [H]ardOCP News/Article Feed

Winds – Open Source Personalized RSS Reader

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Winds is an open source & beautiful RSS reader built using React/Redux/Sails/Node 7 and Stream. It showcases personalized feeds (using machine learning similar to Facebook, Flipboard, Etsy, and Quora) powered by the API. This tutorial explains how the personalization API works ( You can also check out the hosted demo at


Requirements: –
License: MIT License


Professional Web Icons for Your Websites and Applications

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