Dec 30, 2010

Wii2 Mk 2: Nintendo's 8G Console Hits the Gym

Since the last time I wrote about Nintendo's eighth-generation console development efforts, some major strides have been made that specifically address the top-five complains of the currently-shipping seventh-gen Nintendo console, the much-beloved Wii. (Those top-five complaints, for those who don't know, are: graphics, graphics, graphics, lack of a DVD player, and graphics.)

The Wii2 will have a much more muscular set-up than its predecessor. Much like the original Wii's competition, the Wii2 will have a core processor for running the operating system, game AI, and system IO but most of the game will be rendered by a combination graphics/number-crunching engine. But while this strategy resembles the beefy 7G powerhouses, the hardware will a touch of finesse that the competition doesn't seem interested in.

Dec 27, 2010

From Floppy to Flash: The New QNX Flash Demo

Long ago and far away, a little company called QNX Software Systems (QSS) had a tiny operating system. It was so tiny it ran on things like wristwatches, hospital machinery, and remote-controlled cars. So small was QNX that QSS decided to show off with a one-of-a-kind floppy disk demo.

About a dozen years later, QNX is doing it again. Thank to some new features in its newly-released QNX 6.5, QSS is distributing 256 MB flash drives with a full, working install of QNX 6.5 with multi-core support. But let's look back at the forerunner to this project.

QNX 6.5: Forgettable Upgrade

I can't let any year pass without reviewing QNX, especially not for a major upgrade. Despite being passed from Harman Kardon to Research In Motion like a dirty old dollar bill, QNX Software Systems released QNX 6.5.

My new 3.33 GHz Core i7 980X system with 24 GB RAM was screaming for a challenge, having eaten through Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10 in the last few months without complaint. Would QNX live up to its own hype?

Jul 13, 2010

QNX 6.5: “New” Version Same as Last Version

Every few years, QSS releases a major new QNX update and I, like dozens of other people around the planet, install the latest release of the infamous microkernel operating system, hungry for significant updates. And, since QSS just released QNX 6.5, I immediately got started with it.

I set a guideline for myself in evaluating QNX 6.5: use it like I would Windows 7 or Mac OS X for one typical evening of relaxation, communication, and work. I shot over to and got to work.

Jul 2, 2010

Dear 2600: I dread the first Friday of every month…

Dear 2600:

I recently moved into a new house and my neighbor holds hacker meetings. My problem is, they're complete assholes. Your problem is, they all wear 2600 t-shirts and bring your magazine around whenever they meet.

They hack my wifi router and change the network name to stupid things like HACKME and NOPASSHERE. They also call my phone and make farting noises into it until I stop answering and shine lasers and flashlights into my windows. Last month they somehow made my doorbell ring over and over again all night long, and in the morning my trash cans had been shot to hell with paintballs.

The last straw came the morning after, when I woke up to find my mailbox full of dog crap. What the fuck, 2600!?

I dread the first Friday of every month. I’ve lost my patience with your members' harassing behavior and I hereby demand a response. Redressing my stress and time would be a good place to start, as would giving your little hacker club a talking-to.

So what exactly do you plan to do about this?

Don't make me involve the law.


Jun 24, 2010

Booting It Up with Salaryman

Salaryman set his coffee mug on his desk. On a coaster, of course. Salaryman respected his banking firm too much to stain their solid oak desks with his fresh-ground Brazilian coffee.

Smacking his lips, Salaryman hit the space bar on his black keyboard with his index finger and sat back. There was a quick electronic beep and some fans under his gargantuan desk whirled to life. The LCD lit up and Salaryman typed his BIOS username and password.

Username: salaryman
Password: •••••••••

Jun 11, 2010

Why I Almost Gave OpenBSD $100,000—But Didn't

It is never a happy occasion to realize that a not-for-profit group, no matter how destitute or successful, is undeserving of charitable donations. And just last week I had such an unhappy realization. I wanted to donate a sizable sum of money to the OpenBSD Foundation for development of the OpeBSD operating system and other related projects.

My great-uncle, an old Unix graybeard from the Seventies, devoted his retirement and considerable savings to teaching inner-city youth about computers and programming. He recently passed away and left instructions in his will that I donate money, in the amount of US $100,000, to “the most meritorious Free, Unix-like operating system” as according to my own research into the matter.

Jun 3, 2010

Why I Left OpenBSD

I was a long-time OpenBSD user since the OpenBSD 2.7 days, and cut my teeth on Unix development there. I was attracted by its focus on security and conscientious coding practices. I was happy through the early 2.x days, but the more I got involved in developing for OpenBSD the more I was dissuaded from doing so.

Part of the issue was this focus on security. After I began to use OpenBSD at home and at work in earnest, I realized that it was limited in hardware support compared to other operating systems. I purchased a new workstation and portable within a year of each other, and both times came to some unhappy realizations about OpenBSD support.

I began to seriously look at Linux and FreeBSD at this point, knowing hardware support was much more robust. (I had also looked at NetBSD, but even though it booted on nearly everything, driver support was anemic.) I started to dual-boot FreeBSD on my workstation, and spent more and more time there. But it wasn't only hardware support that pushed me away from OpenBSD.

May 23, 2010

Android 2.2: Google's Catchupgrade

Recently, Google announced Android 2.2, the next version of their Linux-based mobile operating system targeted at phones and PDAs, at Google I/O 2010. Developers praised the update, calling it and its features a “welcome addition” to the platform.

Android 2.2 will bring the phone operating system closer to parity with its competitors. With 2.2r4 out now and a projected final release date of Summer '10, Android 2.2 is coming fast.

But stepping back from all of the commotion, what exactly is Google offering with this update? What are these new features and who will benefit from them? There are plenty of questions about Android 2.2—and here are the answers.

May 8, 2010

Another Day, Another Firefox Update

I am often away from my computer for weeks at a time, digging at archaeology sites, before I return to clean, sort, and catalog my finds. And every time I launch my browser of choice, I have to sit through yet another Firefox update.

Apr 20, 2010

No More, Namoroka: Firefox 3.6 Sucks

The Mozilla development team released Firefox 3.6, codenamed Namoroka, on 21 January 2010 after some anticipation; Firefox 3.5 was a step forward in features but two steps backward in performance. As a minor update, Namoroka was a chance to optimize the last release.

So, now that it's out, did it alleviate some of these problems? Well, let's find out by looking at what 3.6 offers over 3.5.