ParadiseOS far from it

ParadiseOS depicts an alternative computing world from the turn of the millenium: a desktop obscenely slathered in compulsory and broken services, ads and applications, an experience designed by dotcom era advertising boyars but hopelessly unrealistic before the wide availability of broadband internet and hardware video decoding. It's part Black Mirror, part vaporwave, part ironically brilliant web development by Stephen Kistner.

Paradise OS imagines an alternate version of 1999 where the personal computer is a gateway to a commercialized global network. Palm Industries, a former mall developer turned technology giant effectively controls all online experiences.

Acting as a time capsule, the desktop captures the moments of December 30, 1999 — just days before a catastrophic Y2K event leads to the computer emerging in our dimension. Participants explore this frozen moment from time, using the content to discover more about the world from which it came.

The project references the visual vernacular of the 20th century American shopping mall. It establishes a connection between the mall and the Internet as escapist experiences and hubs of social activity.

The desktop's content deals with Internet phenomena including fake news, instant gratification and information overload. By engaging with contemporary topics from the perspective of an alternate reality, the project encourages participants to think more critically about the state of our own digital spaces.

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Voxel computer art

Ciara Burkett is making wonderful voxel computers and such; bookmark their Ello page for more. [via Jay Allen]

Above, an Apple ⫻. Here's a Compaq portable: Read the rest

Men have been pushing women out of tech since the beginning

Programming was women's work: the six who ran Eniac, America's first digital computer, were women. But not for long.

They were systematically pushed out of the field, says technology historian Marie Hicks, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who wrote about it in her recent book, “Programmed Inequality (Amazon).”

Sexism was so extreme in the UK that it played a significant part in the collapse of its first domestic computer industry in the 1960s, writes the WSJ's Christopher Mims:

Not only were the male recruits often less qualified, they frequently left the field because they viewed it as an unmanly profession. A shortage of programmers forced the U.K. government to consolidate its computers in a handful of centers with the remaining coders. It also meant the government demanded gigantic mainframes and ignored more distributed systems of midsize and mini computers, which had become more common by the 1960s

In 1984, 37% of computer science degrees were awarded to women, but it's been in decline ever since. Women are leaving the industry in increasing numbers, "despite" its "diversity and inclusion efforts."

If a firm has hired its first 10 employees and they are all the same gender or ethnicity, an eleventh who doesn’t look like the rest can face challenges.

The First Women in Tech Didn’t Leave—Men Pushed Them Out [WSJ] Read the rest

Perl is the most hated programming language

What do computer programmers not want to code in?

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Crunch: game development hell

In the New York Times, Jason Schreier reports on the game industry's cult of crunch: the pervasive practice of making workers put in 20-hour days, resulting in one met deadline and a many lines of low-quality code.

“People think that making games is easy,” said Marcin Iwinski, a co-chief executive and co-founder of CD Projekt Red, the Polish developer of a 2015 game, The Witcher 3. “It’s hard-core work. It can destroy your life.” Mr. Iwinski, like many other top video game creators, sees crunch as a necessary evil ... A growing faction of game developers, however, argues that it’s possible to make good games without crunching. Tanya X. Short, a co-founder of the independent studio Kitfox Games, asked colleagues to sign an online pledge against excessive overtime. The pledge, which was published last year, has been signed by over 500 game developers. “Crunch trades short-term gains for long-term suffering,” said Ms. Short in an email.

Hey, ever met a geeky computer programmer with a bottomless need to prove his own competence and a political ideology perfectly tailored to capital's needs? Read the rest

Tiny 3D-printed Raspberry Pi cases look like classic computers

RetroPi makes adorable 3D-printed replicas of old, large computers for you install new, tiny computers within. [via]

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App automatically responds "yes" to boring installation dialogs

A version of Yes, an app that says "y" at maximum speed, is built-in to unix-based operating systems. You can test it by firing up a terminal, typing "yes", and then watching it fill your window; you'd usually pipe it to another app or script. But there's a problem: it can only generate 51 megabits per second worth of yes, and something must be done about it.

Lessons learned

The trivial program yes turns out not to be so trivial after all. It uses output buffering and memory alignment to improve performance. Re-implementing Unix tools is fun and makes me appreciate the nifty tricks, which make our computers fast.

As benchmarked by the author's computer, 3GB/s of yes is now possible! Read the rest

The Floppotron: reclaimed computer hardware as a musical instrument

Paweł Zadrożniak, aka Silent, created The Floppotron, the greatest new musical instrument in recent memory. Here is it playing Through the Fire and Flames from Dragonforce. Read the rest

Dial-up modem opera

Exhibit A: Opera singers dubbed with dial up modems could be the next big thing – Olaf Falafel.

Exhibit B: The Modem Choir

Exhibit C: Rooster Singing Opera

More science must be done. Read the rest

Entire computer installed inside ATX power supply

Fear of Palindromes stuffed an entire computer inside a standard power supply box, complete with gaming-class GTX 1060 video card and a (smaller!) internal power supply.

While lesser ATX units can't do anything on their own, and must be installed in a case and hooked up to other parts in order to create a functional system, STX160.0 is entirely self-contained, fitting within it's case both the power delivery subsystem, and a full gaming computer! Here we can see that despite the somewhat large size compared to other ATX units, there is not a bit of wasted space. ... In order to fit within the 150mm width of the ATX form factor, a Mini-STX had to be used, this particular one being an ASRock H110M-STX.

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Unnervingly vague error messages from 1976

Marcin Wichary posted "an abridged list" of vague and therefore terrifying error messages from a 40-year-old word processor.

Don't you just hate it when very bad footnote distribution failures happen?

This all has me looking forward to "error messages generated by a recurrent neural network," or a science fiction thriller where the crew must contend with an increasingly psychotic word processor.

"Detachment successful"

What? Computer, what the hell does deta—

"Detachment successful"

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Datorbox is a luxury wood-cased gaming PC

Yours for €2099, Love Hultén's limited-edition Datorbox comes in green or orange and looks like something from another age. Well-specced and tiny, you'll have the challenge of finding pretty peripherals to go with it.

Datorbox is an extremely compact gaming desktop system, enclosed by an elegant handcrafted wooden case. Despite it's small form factor- measuring only 31x24x7cm, this small minimalistic beast delivers monster performance. To fulfill the needs of gamers further, the Datorbox is fully VR-ready and supports 4K video. The wooden casing is designed for optimized airflow and Datorbox runs very quiet, even on full load.

The top of this eye-catching artifact displays a saturn fan grille, and the front panel is adorned by a composition of six big bulb-caps completing an ambient Larson scanner effect when in use.

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Java ported to Commodore 64

Back to the Future Java is a Java Virtual Machine planed down until it fits on 8-bit computers (i.e. the Commodore 64). It's based on a port of Java made for Lego Mindstorms, lacks a few key features of the language (such as garbage collection), but is quite an astounding feat. Previously: Java on a Sega Genesis; Java on Apple II. Read the rest

Man cuts his PC cables to a perfectly satisfying length

I've built several computers in my life and the interior results are invariably a tangled nest of cabling left for years unseen, opened only for rare upgrades that expose the forlorn insect civilizations that grew and died in the warm nylon-braided lint maze which they surely worshipped.

This guy, though, he knows what he's doing. Read the rest

$70 Hackintosh matches MacBook Pro

Snazzy Labs built a startlingly powerful Mac with only $70—editing the video above on it to prove it!

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iMac Pro starts at $5000

After a year or two of Windows 10, I'm ready to go back to a computer that doesn't hate me. I'd been hoping the iMac Pro, announced today, would come in a relatively affordable form—competitive with the $2700 Microsoft Surface Studio, for example. But no! It doesn't! At $5000 to start, this total monster of an all-in-one is most certainly for professionals: you can have 18 cores, 128GB of DDR4 RAM, 4TB SSD, a 16GB Radeon Vega video card, a 30-bit 5k display and even a headphone jack.

To make sure you know it means business, it comes in black and ships December. I'll be sticking with the standard iMac Amateur, I think, which received significant spec bumps: 4.2 GHz Kaby Lake processors, "50% faster" SSD drives, Thunderbolt 3, and Radeon Pro 500 graphics (can't find benchmarks, but isn't this the same as Polaris?) Read the rest

ZX Spectrum Next is an advanced version of the original 8-bit monster machine

ZX Spectrum Next is more than just a cute retro-looking box or a glorified emulator. It is a new 8-bit computer, backwards-compatible with the 1980s' original, yet enhanced to provide a wealth of advanced features such as better graphics, SD card storage, and manufacturing quality control. It's made with the permission of IP owner Amstrad and has already blown past its crowdfunding target.

It has a real goddamn Z80 in it, clocked to a blazing-fast 7Mhz! (And an optional 1Ghz co-processor for those times you want to strap your vintage snow sled to an intercontinental ballistic Raspberry Pi.)

We love the ZX Spectrum. Why wouldn’t we? It was much more than just a computer: it was a machine that sparked a gaming revolution, neatly housed within its iconic design powered by sheer simplicity. ... Meanwhile hardware hackers around the world have expanded the ZX Spectrum to support SD card storage, feature new and better video modes, pack more memory, faster processor... Problem is, these expansions can be difficult to get hold of, and without a standardised Spectrum, no one knows what to support or develop for. ...

The Spectrum Next is aimed at any Retrogamer out there and Speccy enthusiast who prefers their games, demos and apps running on hardware rather than software emulators, but wants a seamless and simple experience contained within an amazing design..

They even got the original industrial designer, Rick Dickinson, to do the new case--and they based it quite wisely on the second-gen Speccy rather than the iconic but infuriating-to-type-on rubber-keyed original. Read the rest

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