In N+1 magazine, David Auerbach explains what it was like in the "Chat Wars" of the late '90s, when he was the youngest person on the team developing Microsoft's brand-new messaging app, in the face of America Online's AIM, the 900-pound gorilla in the room. Auerbach explains how he used a network analyzer to fake out AOL's servers into letting Microsoft's client connect to AIM as well. "AOL could only block Messenger if they could figure out that the user was using Messenger and not AIM. As long as Messenger sent exactly the same protocol messages to the AOL servers, AOL wouldn’t be able to detect that Messenger was an impostor. So I took the AIM client and checked for differences in what it was sending, then changed our client to mimic it once again. They’d switch it up again; they knew their client, and they knew what it was coded to do and what obscure messages it would respond to in what ways. Every day it’d be something new. At one point they threw in a new protocol wrinkle but cleverly excepted users logging on from Microsoft headquarters, so that while all other Messenger users were getting an error message, we were sitting at Microsoft and not getting it. After an hour or two of scratching our heads, we figured it out." Eventually, though, AOL introduced x86 assembly code into the login protocol, and that not only stymied the MSM team, but led to some interesting warfare of its own. Auerbach's story sheds a lot of light on both good and bad aspects of corporate culture at the start of the 21st century, at Microsoft as well as other companies.
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jfruh (300774) writes "While Intel is going after low-end Android tablets in a big way chipmaking x86 rival AMD is taking a more judicious approach, looking to focus on the high end. 'This idea of contra revenue is foreign to us,' said AMD's CEO, referring to Intel's strategy of selling chips at a loss to boost market share. But will Intel's vast resources keep AMD in its niche?"
A few months back, we posted a video interview with some of the folks behind the Linux-friendly, x86-based MinnowBoard. TechCrunch reports the release of a more powerful version of the same all-in-one computer, now with a 1.91GHz Atom E3845 processor. According to the linked article, "The board's schematics are also available for download and the Intel graphics chipset has open-source drivers so hackers can have their way with the board. While it doesn’t compete directly with the Raspberry Pi – the Pi is more an educational tool and already has a robust ecosystem – it is a way for DIYers to mess around in x86 architected systems as well as save a bit of cash. The system uses break-out boards called Lures to expand functionality."
UnderAttack (311872) writes "The SANS Internet Storm Center got an interesting story about how some of the devices scanning its honeypot turned out to be infected DVRs. These DVRs are commonly used to record footage from security cameras, and likely got infected themselves due to weak default passwords (12345). Now they are being turned into bots (but weren't they bots before that?) and are used to scan for Synology Disk Stations who are vulnerable. In addition, these DVRs now also run a copy of a bitcoin miner. Interestingly, all of this malware is compiled for ARM CPUs, so this is not a case of standard x86 exploits that happen to hit an embedded system/device."
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Intel and CircuitCo have revealed a smaller, faster, 2nd-gen MinnowBoard open SBC based on an Atom E3800 SoC and supported by both Android 4.4 and various standard Linux OSes. The MinnowBoard Max, which will ship in Q3 starting at $99, blows past the original MinnowBoard (Slashdot video) on price, performance, and energy consumption. The 3.9 x 2.9-inch Max's $99 starting price includes a 64-bit 1.46GHz Intel Atom E3815 (Bay Trail-T) CPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB SPI flash, and coastline ports for MicroSD, Micro-HDMI, GbE, dual USB, and SATA. Unlike the original MinnowBoard, the Max provides two expansion connectors: a low-speed header, with signals similar to the Arduino's Shield connector; and a high-speed connector, which can support mSATA and mini-PCIe sockets on expansion modules, among other interfaces. Although the Max's design supports CPUs up to Intel's quad-core 1.91GHz (10W TDP) E3845, only two choices shown initially at MinnowBoard.org, with the higher-end $129 model stepping up to a 1.33GHz dual-core E3825 plus 2GB RAM.."
paugq writes "NuttX is a real-time operating system (RTOS) with an emphasis on standards compliance and small footprint. Scalable from 8-bit to 32-bit microcontroller environments, the primary governing standards in NuttX are POSIX and ANSI standards. Additional standard APIs from Unix and other common RTOS's (such as VxWorks) are adopted for functionality not available under these standards, or for functionality that is not appropriate for deeply-embedded environments. NuttX was first released in 2007 by Gregory Nutt under the permissive BSD license, and today the 100th release was made: NuttX 6.33. Supported platforms include ARM, Atmel AVR, x86, Z80 and others."
An anonymous reader writes "Wine on Android is happening slowly but surely ... Wine is now in a state to be able to run your favorite Windows (x86) game on your Android-powered ARM device, assuming the game is Windows Solitaire. Wine has been making progress on Android to allow simple applications to run on Wine, but they have run into some challenges, as noted in the annual talk at FOSDEM."
McGruber writes "Like the Mac, the IBM PC Junior first went on sale in late January 1984. That is where the similarities end — the PC Junior became the biggest PC dud of all time. Back on May 17, 1984, the NY Times reported that the PC Junior 'is too expensive for casual home users, but, at the same time, is not nearly powerful enough for serious computer users who can afford a more capable machine.' The article also quoted Peter Norton, then still a human programmer who had not yet morphed into a Brand, who said that the PC Junior 'may well be targeted at a gray area in the market that just does not exist.'' IBM cancelled the machine in March 1985, after only selling 270,000 of them. While it was a commercial flop, the machine is still liked by some. Michael Brutman's PCJr page attempts to preserve the history and technical information of the IBM PCjr and YouTube has a video of a PC Junior running a demo."
itwbennett writes "Well, that was fast. Earlier this week the rumor mill was getting revved up about a potential sale of IBM's x86 server business, with Lenovo, Dell, and Fujitsu reportedly all interested in scooping it up. On Thursday, Lenovo Group announced it has agreed to buy IBM's x86 server hardware business and related maintenance services for $2.3 billion. The deal encompasses IBM's System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers and associated software, blade networking and maintenance operations. IBM will retain its System z mainframes, Power Systems, Storage Systems, Power-based Flex servers, and PureApplication and PureData appliances." SlashBI has some words from an analyst about why Lenovo wants the x86 product line more than IBM does.
itwbennett writes "It was widely reported last year (including on Slashdot) that IBM attempted to sell off its x86 server business to Lenovo, which seemed logical as Lenovo had bought out the IBM's PC business a decade ago. However, the two firms could not come to financial terms and the deal was never struck. Well, the rumors have started up again, only this time Lenovo has some competition, as Dell and Fujitsu are now being thrown into the mix as possible suitors."
New submitter mpicpp points out that Intel has unveiled a PC called Edison, which fits into a casing the size of an SD card. "Edison is based on Intel’s Quark chip, which it launched last year as its attempt to muscle in on that other flavour-of-the-month market: the so-called Internet of Things. It also reflects the company’s new-found keenness on the 'maker' community. Quark, a 22nm low-power x86 processor with two cores, sits inside Intel’s Arduino-compatible Raspberry Pi-alike Galileo board computer. Edison takes the same chip, connects it to a wee bit of LPDDR2 memory and Flash storage, and plugs in Bluetooth 4.0 Smart — aka LE — and Wi-Fi for broader connectivity."
jones_supa writes "The x32 ABI for Linux allows the OS to take full advantage of an x86-64 CPU while using 32-bit pointers and thus avoiding the overhead of 64-bit pointers. Though the x32 ABI limits the program to a virtual address space of 4GB, it also decreases the memory footprint of the program and in some cases can allow it to run faster. The ABI has been talked about since 2011 and there's been mainline support since 2012. x32 support within other programs has also trickled in. Despite this, there still seems to be no widespread interest. x32 support landed in Ubuntu 13.04, but no software packages were released. In 2012 we also saw some x32 support out of Gentoo and some Debian x32 packages. Besides the kernel support, we also saw last year the support for the x32 Linux ABI land in Glibc 2.16 and GDB 7.5. The only Linux x32 ABI news Phoronix had to report on in 2013 was of Google wanting mainline LLVM x32 support and other LLVM project x32 patches. The GCC 4.8.0 release this year also improved the situation for x32. Some people don't see the ABI as being worthwhile when it still requires 64-bit processors and the performance benefits aren't very convincing for all workloads to make maintaining an extra ABI worthwhile. Would you find the x32 ABI useful?"
New submitter KDE Community writes that the KDE project has released KDevelop 4.6.0 as the latest version of the free and open source integrated development environment. "KDevelop 4.6.0 improves debugging support with GDB. The GDB integration improvements include some operations now going into effect immediately rather than needing to re-run the program, improved debugging from external terminals, and a CPU registers toolview. KDevelopers' CPU registers toolview also allows for showing and editing all user-mode registers and general purpose flags for x86/x86_64/ARMv7 platforms. Other KDevelop 4.6.0 changes include greater language support within the PHP plug-in, Python language support improvements, more C++11 language support, improved project management, and a clean-up to the IDE's user-interface."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Will Xbox One and PS4 emulators hit your favorite download Websites within the next few years? Emulators have long been popular among gamers looking to relive the classic titles they enjoyed in their youth. Instead of playing Super Mario Bros. on a Nintendo console, one can go through the legally questionable yet widespread route of downloading a copy of the game and loading it with PC software that emulates the Nintendo Entertainment System. Emulation is typically limited to older games, as developing an emulator is hard work and must usually be run on hardware that's more powerful than the original console. Consoles from the NES and Super NES era have working emulators, as do newer systems such as Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii, and the first two PlayStations. While emulator development hit a dead end with the Xbox 360 and PS3, that may change with the Xbox One and PS4, which developers are already exploring as fertile ground for emulation. The Xbox 360 and PS4 feature x86 chips, for starters, and hardware-assisted virtualization can help solve some acceleration issues. But several significant obstacles stand in the way of developers already taking a crack at it, including console builders' absolute refusal to see emulation as even remotely legal."
DeviceGuru writes "DM&P Group has begun shipping a $39 Arduino compatible boardset and similar mini-PC equipped with a new computer-on-module based on a new 300MHz x86 compatible Vortex86EX system-on-chip. The $39 86Duino Zero boardset mimics an Arduino Leonardo, in terms of both form-factor and I/O expansion. The tiny $49 86Duino Educake mini-PC incorportates the same functionality, but in a 78 x 70 x 29mm enclosure with an integrated I/O expansion breadboard built into its top surface. The mini-PC's front and back provide 2x USB, audio in/out, Ethernet, and COM interfaces, power input, and an SD card slot. The hardware and software source for all the boards, including the computer-on-module, are available for download under open source licenses at the 86Duino.com website."
SmartAboutThings writes "Chip maker AMD has announced that it's won 2 CES Innovation Awards for a gaming tablet the company plans to show off at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The device is called "Project Discovery" and will come with AMD's Mullins chip that is a 64-bit, x86-based chip, perfectly suitable for Windows 8.1. The low-power Mullins APU (accelerated processing unit) is AMD's answer to Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm, aimed at fanless tablets, ultrathin notebooks, and 2-in-1 devices. The 28nm processor is expected to consume as little as 2 watts of energy while in use. The obtained images show that the upcoming AMD tablet is quite similar to Razer Edge."
jones_supa writes "When GCC 4.9 is released in 2014 it will be coming in hot on new features with a large assortment of improvements and new functionality for the open-source compiler. Phoronix provides a recap of some of the really great features of this next major compiler release from the Free Software Foundation. For a quick list: OpenMP 4.0, Intel Cilk Plus multi-threading support, Intel Bay Trail and Silvermont support, NDS32 port, Undefined Behavior Sanitizer, Address Sanitizer, ADA and Fortran updates, improved C11 / C++11 / C++14, better x86 intrinsics, refined diagnostics output. Bubbling under are still: Bulldozer 4 / Excavator support, OpenACC, JIT compiler, disabling Java by default."
The Raspberry Pi project that we've been fans of for quite a while now has hit a new milestone: Today, they announced that as of the last week in October, the project has sold more than two million boards. Raspberry Pi is anything but alone in the tiny, hackable computer world (all kinds of other options, from Arduino to the x86-based Minnowboard, are out there, and all have their selling points), but the low price, open-source emphasis, and focus on education have all helped the Pi catch on. If yours is one of these 2 million, what are you using it for? (And if you favor some other small system for your own experiments, what factors matter?)
angry tapir writes "MenuetOS is an open source, GUI-equipped, x86 operating system written entirely in assembly language that can fit on a floppy disk (if you can find one). I originally spoke to its developers in 2009. Recently I had a chance to catch up with them to chat about what's changed and what needs to be done before the OS hits version 1.0 after 13 years of work. The system's creator, Ville Turjanmaa, says, 'Timeframe is secondary. It's more important is to have a complete and working set of features and applications. Sometimes a specific time limit rushes application development to the point of delivering incomplete code, which we want to avoid. ... We support USB devices, such [as] storages, printers, webcams and digital TV tuners, and have basic network clients and servers. So before 1.0 we need to improve the existing code and make sure everything is working fine. ... The main thing for 1.0 is to have all application groups available'"
An anonymous reader writes "Google today released Chrome version 31 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The new version includes support for Web payments, Portable Native Client, and 25 security fixes. 'Under the hood, PNaCl works by compiling native C and C++ code to an intermediate representation, rather than architecture-specific representations as in Native Client. The LLVM-style bytecode is wrapped into a portable executable, which can be hosted on a web server like any other website asset. When the site is accessed, Chrome fetches and translates the portable executable into an architecture-specific machine code optimized directly for the underlying device. This translation approach means developers don’t need to recompile their applications multiple times to run across x86, ARM or MIPS devices.' You can update to the latest release now using the browser's built-in silent updater, or download it directly from google.com/chrome."