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Many Businesses Still Love COBOL

Slashdot - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 14:34
TechRadar shares some surprising results from a new survey of enterprises using COBOL and mainframe technologies: According to a survey by Micro Focus, which follows data gathered in previous 2017 survey, 70 percent favor modernization as an approach for implementing strategic change. This is opposed to replacing or retiring their key COBOL applications as they continue to provide a low-risk and effective means of transforming IT to support digital business initiatives... This is further supported by the results of the survey with an increase in the size of the average application code base which grew from 8.4m in 2017 to 9.9m this year, showing continued investment, re-use and expansion in core business systems. "92 percent of respondents felt as though their organization's COBOL applications are strategic in comparison to 84 percent of respondents in 2017," according to the official survey results. The survey spanned 40 different countries, and involved COBOL-connected architects, developers, development managers and IT executives. "COBOL's credentials as a strong digital technology appear to be set for another decade," according to Micro Focus' senior vice president of application modernization and connectivity. "With 60 years of experience supporting mission-critical applications and business systems, COBOL continues to evolve as a flexible and resilient computer language that will remain relevant and important for businesses around the world."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Fortnite's Chapter 2: Season 2 ARG drops hints worldwide

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 14:27

Fortnite has begun teasing its long, long-awaited new season with a Chapter 2: Season 2 ARG - and it's all themed around gold. And cats.

Clues have begun popping up around the world in physical locations, on social media, and within Fortnite itself ahead of Chapter 2 Season 2's release this Thursday, 20th February.

A mysterious advert featuring a golden handprint was first spotted at a metro station in São Paulo over the weekend, before similar posters were found in San Francisco, Melbourne and Paris shortly after.

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Categories: Video Games

Lara Croft's heading to Rainbow Six Siege… sort of

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 13:54

Ok, so it's not quite Lara Croft herself - but Rainbow Six Siege is getting its own Tomb Raider elite skin, and it'll be worn by American SWAT officer Ash.

The skin was unveiled as part of Ubisoft Montreal's two-year roadmap shown at The Six Invitational in Quebec, and will be available "soon after" the launch of next season's Operation Void Edge. There's no set date for this event - the first season of Rainbow Six's fifth year - which is due to add two new operators (Oryx and Iana) along with an Oregon map rework.

As an elite skin, Lara "Ash" Croft will likely need to be purchased in R6 credits, but at least she comes with a unique victory animation, a breaching rounds gadget skin, weapon skins (for the G36C, R4-C, M45 MEUSOC and 5.7 USG), and a unique charm. Time to raid the piggy bank.

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Categories: Video Games

Sort your PS4 or Xbox One storage with this 4TB external hard drive for just £65

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 13:46

Following on from last month's massive price drop on a 5TB Western Digital drive, you can now get a 4TB Seagate Expansion Desktop Hard Drive for only £64.99 at Amazon UK.

This hard drive is not only compatible with PC but can also be used to give you some extra space for your PS4 or Xbox One. With the increasing storage demands of games these days that 500GB or 1TB internal hard drive does get used up rather quickly!

While this is a spacious drive for the price, the only annoyance I can foresee is the need to plug it directly into the mains as well as your PC or console. The portable versions of these Seagate drives are USB-powered which saves the extra wire. If you have the means to power it easily, though, you could save yourself a decent chunk of money going for this desktop option instead.

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Categories: Video Games

Blizzard's long-lost StarCraft: Ghost turns up again in fresh footage

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 13:06

Newly-published footage of the unreleased StarCraft: Ghost has appeared online, more than a decade after the project was canned.

Ghost was set to be a third-person shooter spin-off from Blizzard's blockbuster RTS franchise, for release on GameCube, PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox.

According to a Twitter user who contacted Kotaku, the leak comes from a work-in-progress build installed to an Xbox 360 developer kit.

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Categories: Video Games

Upgrade your PC with discounted Crucial RAM on Amazon today

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 13:00

Need a RAM upgrade? Amazon has discounted a range of DDR4 memory from Crucial to mark the start of a new week, offering up to 45 per cent off single sticks and kits from the company's popular Ballistix Sport and RGB-enabled Ballistix Tactical Tracer lines. Crucial memory already offers some of the best value around, so these discounts make it an excellent time to upgrade your system with more memory, faster memory or both! Here are the best deals from the Monday sale - plus a quick buyer's guide to RAM upgrades.

First, here are the highlights we've spotted:

8GB: If you're buying RAM for a new budget gaming PC, you can pick up 8GB of 2666MHz dual-channel memory for £30 - about £8 less than the usual price. If you plan to upgrade to 16GB of RAM in the near future, it might be worth getting a single 8GB 3200MHz stick for £26 (despite the performance penalty; see our RAM guide below). An RGB 8GB stick is also available for £36, down from £41.

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Categories: Video Games

Netflix's animated Castlevania series returns for Season 3 in March

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 11:21

UPDATE 17/2/20: After getting a release date for Netflix's third Castlevania season earlier this month, we now have our first glimpse at the 10 new episodes.

Sink your teeth in ahead of the show's return on 5th March:

ORIGINAL STORY 4/2/20: Last November, Netflix's Nordic division whipped fans of the company's enormously entertaining animated Castlevania series into a miniature frenzy when it announced (erroneously, it later transpired) the show's imminent return. Now, though, it's officially official: Castlevania's third season will begin on 5th March.

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Categories: Video Games

Uber and Lyft Are Creating Traffic, Not Reducing It

Slashdot - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 10:34
The Wall Street Journal remembers how five years ago, Uber's co-founder "was so confident that Uber's rides would prompt people to leave their cars at home that he told a tech conference: 'If every car in San Francisco was Ubered there would be no traffic.'" He was wrong. Rather than the apps becoming a model of algorithm-driven efficiency, drivers in major cities cruise for fares without passengers an estimated 40% of the time. Multiple studies show that Uber and Lyft have pulled people away from buses, subways and walking, and that the apps add to the overall amount of driving in the U.S. A study published last year by San Francisco County officials and University of Kentucky researchers in the journal Science Advances found that over 60% of the slowdown of traffic speeds in San Francisco between 2010 and 2016 was due to the introduction of the ride-hail companies... The reversal of ride-hailing from would-be traffic hero to congestion villain is the sort of unintended consequence that has become a recurring feature of Silicon Valley disruption. Companies seeking rapid growth by reinventing the way we do things are delivering solutions that sometimes create their own problems... Silicon Valley is particularly prone to focusing on positive potential effects of new technologies given a decadeslong culture of utopian ideals, said Fred Turner, a Stanford University communications professor who has written a book on the topic... Tech companies tend to have an engineering-like, narrow focus on solving specific problems, often missing the broader picture as a result. "You're not rewarded for seeing the landscape within which your device will be deployed," he said... [I]n hindsight, some of the pitfalls -- such as cars cruising empty between passengers -- seem obvious... Riders also take car trips that wouldn't have happened before Uber and Lyft. Bruce Schaller, a transportation consultant and former New York City official who has studied the topic, said in his paper that surveys in numerous cities found roughly 60% of riders in Ubers and Lyfts would have walked, biked, taken public transit or stayed home if a ride-hail car hadn't been available.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Yakuza 7 has some of the best RPG combat in a long time

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 10:00

I'll admit, when Yakuza 7 was announced, the first mainline game in the franchise since Kazuma Kiryu's story concluded, I was highly sceptical. Any new protagonist would have big shoes to fill, after all. And then there's the fact that it's turn-based. There's a lot to take in.

Thankfully Yakuza 7 is a lot of fun, and is a loving tribute to JRPGs and many other games besides. It all begins not with new hero Ichiban Kasuga, but with a glimpse into the life of Masumi Arakawa, head of the Arakawa Clan, itself a small family under the Tojo Clan. Arakawa hasn't had it easy - among other things his son was left disabled after Masumi had to hide him in a train station locker (!) as an infant. In typical Yakuza fashion, Arakawa saves teenage Ichiban's life, who then swears fealty to him and later goes to prison in his stead.

When Ichiban gets out of prison in 2019, 18 years after his incarceration, the world has changed rapidly, but the biggest shock is probably that the Arakawa family has joined the Omi Alliance, famously the nemesis of the Tojo Clan Arakawa originally served. When Ichiban tries to demand an explanation from Arakawa, his former saviour shoots him.

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Categories: Video Games

Mark Zuckerberg Again Calls for Big Tech to be Regulated

Slashdot - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 06:34
Mark Zuckerberg wrote an op-ed published in The Financial Times "once again calling for more regulation of Big Tech," reports MarketWatch, "even if it affects his company's bottom line." Zuckerberg has previously called for more government regulation of internet companies, and reiterated his arguments in favor of laws covering four major areas: elections, harmful content, privacy and data portability. "I don't think private companies should make so many decisions alone when they touch on fundamental democratic values," he wrote, adding: "We have to balance promoting innovation and research against protecting people's privacy and security." Zuckerberg warned that regulation could have "unintended consequences, especially for small businesses that can't do sophisticated data analysis and marketing on their own...." At his Munich appearance, Zuckerberg spoke about what type of regulation he envisioned: "Right now there are two frameworks that I think people have for existing industries — there's like newspapers and existing media, and then there's the telco-type model, which is 'the data just flows through you', but you're not going to hold a telco responsible if someone says something harmful on a phone line... I actually think where we should be is somewhere in between," he said, according to Reuters. Reuters also reports that Zuckerberg said Facebook is already employing 35,000 people to review online content and implement security measures. "Those teams and Facebook's automated technology currently suspend more than 1 million fake accounts each day, he said, adding that 'the vast majority are detected within minutes of signing up.'"

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

IOTA Cryptocurrency Shut Down Its Entire Network After a Wallet Breach

Slashdot - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 04:34
The nonprofit organization behind the IOTA cryptocurrency shut down its entire network this week after someone exploited a vulnerability in their wallet app to steal funds. ZDNet reports: The attack happened this week, Wednesday, on February 12, 2020, according to a message the foundation posted on its official Twitter account. According to a status page detailing the incident, within 25 minutes of receiving reports that hackers were stealing funds from user wallets, the IOTA Foundation shut down "Coordinator," a node in the IOTA network that puts the final seal of approval on any IOTA currency transactions. The never-before-seen move was meant to prevent hackers from executing new thefts, but also had the side-effect of effectively shut down the entire IOTA cryptocurrency... IOTA members said hackers used an exploit in "a third-party integration" of Trinity, a mobile and desktop wallet app developed by the IOTA Foundation. Based on current evidence, confirmed by the IOTA team, it is believed that hackers targeted at least 10 high-value IOTA accounts and used the Trinity exploit to steal funds. Sunday the team released "a safe version" of their Trinity Desktop "to allow users to check their balance and transactions. This version (1.4.0) removes the vulnerability announced on 12th February 2020..." Their status page advised users to contact a member of the IOTA Foundation if their balance looks incorrect. "Please be aware that there are unfortunately active imposters posing as IOTA Foundation personnel on our Discord. Therefore it is important that you directly initiate contact with the IF or mod team yourself..." "The Coordinator remains down for now as we finalise our remediation plan. You will not be able to send value transactions."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Iran Has Been Targeting VPN Servers to Plant Backdoors

Slashdot - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 02:26
"A new report published today reveals that Iran's government-backed hacking units have made a top priority last year to exploit VPN bugs as soon as they became public in order to infiltrate and plant backdoors in companies all over the world," writes ZDNet: According to a report from Israeli cyber-security firm ClearSky, Iranian hackers have targeted companies "from the IT, Telecommunication, Oil and Gas, Aviation, Government, and Security sectors." The report comes to dispel the notion that Iranian hackers are not sophisticated, and less talented than their Russian, Chinese, or North Korean counterparts. ClearSky says that "Iranian APT groups have developed good technical offensive capabilities and are able to exploit 1-day vulnerabilities in relatively short periods of time." [ATP stands for "advanced persistent threat" and is often used to describe nation-state backed cyberattackers.] In some instances, ClearSky says it observed Iranian groups exploiting VPN flaws within hours after the bugs have been publicly disclosed... According to the ClearSky report, the purpose of these attacks is to breach enterprise networks, move laterally throughout their internal systems, and plant backdoors to exploit at a later date.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

NASA is Looking for New Astronauts

Slashdot - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 01:03
"With a renewed interest in sending humans back to the Moon and then eventually to Mars, NASA needs all the able-bodied space explorers it can get..." writes BGR. "The requirements are, well, pretty strict, but what else would you expect from a group that sends humans into space?" Quoting NASA.gov: Since the 1960s, NASA has selected 350 people to train as astronaut candidates for its increasingly challenging missions to explore space. With 48 astronauts in the active astronaut corps, more will be needed to crew spacecraft bound for multiple destinations and propel exploration forward as part of Artemis missions and beyond... The basic requirements to apply include United States citizenship and a master's degree in a STEM field, including engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics, from an accredited institution... Candidates also must have at least two years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration spaceflight physical... As part of the application process, applicants will, for the first time, be required to take an online assessment that will require up to two hours to complete... After completing training, the new astronauts could launch on American rockets and spacecraft developed for NASA's Commercial Crew Program to live and work aboard the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth, where they will take part in experiments that benefit life at home and prepare us for more distant exploration. They may also launch on NASA's powerful new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, docking the spacecraft at the Gateway in lunar orbit before taking a new human landing system to the Moon's surface. After returning humans to the Moon in 2024, NASA plans to establish sustainable lunar exploration by 2028. Gaining new experiences on and around the Moon will prepare NASA to send the first humans to Mars in the mid-2030s. NASA expects to select the new class of astronaut candidates in mid-2021 to begin training as the next class of Artemis Generation astronauts. "We're celebrating our 20th year of continuous presence aboard the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit this year..." NASA said in its statement. Applications will be accepted from March 2nd through March 31st.

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Alternative Browser 'Waterfox' Acquired By System1

Slashdot - Sun, 16/02/2020 - 23:54
Waterfox is an open-source web browser for x64, ARM64, and PPC64LE systems, "intended to be speedy and ethical, and maintain support for legacy extensions dropped by Firefox, from which it is forked," according to Wikipedia. (Its tabs also still have angled sides with rounded corners.) Friday Waterfox's original creator, 24-year-old Alexandros Kontos, announced that the browser "now has funding and a development team, so Waterfox can finally start to grow!" after its acquisition by a company called System1. I started Waterfox when I was 16. It was a way for me to understand how large software projects worked and the Mozilla documentation was a great introduction... I've touted Waterfox as an ethical and privacy friendly browser... I never wanted Waterfox to be a part of the hyper-privacy community. It would just feel like standards that would be impossible to uphold, especially for something such as a web browser on the internet. Throughout the years people have always asked about Waterfox and privacy, and if they've ever wanted more than it can afford, I've always pushed them to use Tor. Waterfox was here for customisations and speed, with a good level of privacy... I wasn't doing anything with Waterfox except developing it and making some money via search. Why I kept going throughout the years, I'll never know... System1 has been to Waterfox a search syndication partner. Essentially a way to have a search engine partnership (such as Bing) is through them, because companies such as Microsoft are too big and too busy to talk to small players such as Waterfox... It's probably the one easy way a browser can make money without doing anything dodgy, and it's a way I've been happy to do it without having to compromise Waterfox (and will be the same way System1 makes money from Waterfox -- nothing else). People also don't seem to understand what System1 does... "Now I can finally focus on making Waterfox into a viable alternative to the big browsers," Kontos concludes. Long-time Slashdot reader Freshly Exhumed contextualized the news with this brief history of the alternate browser ecosystem: As the usage share of web browsers continues to show a lopsideded dominance by Google Chrome, many previously-independent browsers have fallen by the wayside or have been reinvented as Chrome variants (i.e. Opera, Edge, Brave). Apple forges on with its Safari browser while other, smaller projects tend to be quite limited for multi-platform users, such as Dolphin and Bromite. Mozilla continues independently with Firefox for almost every platform, while variants such as Pale Moon and Sea Monkey have attempted to provide products that avoid drastic and/or controversial changes made by Mozilla but sometimes do not match the multi-platform support of Firefox. Let us not forget Tor, the Firefox-based anonymity-focused browser. Alex Kontos is a developer who attempted to provide continuity with dropped Firefox capabilities in his multi-platform Waterfox browser, proudly declaring that Firefox's user data sharing and telemetry collection was not included. For that privacy focus a certain popularity of Waterfox occurred. Now Kontos has revealed that his Waterfox project has been sold to System1, a company describing itself as "a consumer internet and applications company with the most powerful audience expansion platform in the industry."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Dark Mode vs. Light Mode: Which Is Better?

Slashdot - Sun, 16/02/2020 - 22:48
Recently a well-respected UI consulting firm (the Nielsen Norman Group) published their analysis of academic studies on the question of whether Dark Mode or Light Mode was better for reading? Cosima Piepenbrock and her colleagues at the Institut für Experimentelle Psychologie in Düsseldorf, Germany studied two groups of adults with normal (or corrected-to-normal) vision: young adults (18 to 33 years old) and older adults (60 to 85 years old). None of the participants suffered from any eye diseases (e.g., cataract)... Their results showed that light mode won across all dimensions: irrespective of age, the positive contrast polarity was better for both visual-acuity tasks and for proofreading tasks... Another study, published in the journal Human Factors by the same research group, looked at how text size interacts with contrast polarity in a proofreading task. It found that the positive-polarity advantage increased linearly as the font size was decreased: namely, the smaller the font, the better it is for users to see the text in light mode. Interestingly, even though their performance was better in the light mode, participants in the study did not report any difference in their perception of text readability (e.g., their ability to focus on text) in light versus dark mode — which only reinforces the first rule of usability: don't listen to users... While dark mode may present some advantages for some low-vision users — in particular, those with cloudy ocular media such as cataract, the research evidence points in the direction of an advantage of positive polarity for normal-vision users. In other words, in users with normal vision, light mode leads to better performance most of the time... These findings are best explained by the fact that, with positive contrast polarity, there is more overall light and so the pupil contracts more. As a result, there are fewer spherical aberrations, greater depth of field, and overall better ability to focus on details without tiring the eyes... That being said, we strongly recommend that designers allow users to switch to dark mode if they want to — for three reasons: (1) there may be long-term effects associated with light mode; (2) some people with visual impairments will do better with dark mode; and (3) some users simply like dark mode better. The long-term effects associated with light mode come from an "intriguing" 2018 study they found which argued that reading white text from a black screen or tablet "may be a way to inhibit myopia, while conventional black text on white background may stimulate myopia..." The researchers wrote that myopia "is tightly linked to the educational status and is on the rise worldwide."

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Google Chrome Will Soon Start Blocking Insecure Downloads

Slashdot - Sun, 16/02/2020 - 21:47
"Google has revealed plans to initially warn Chrome users about 'insecure' downloads and eventually block them outright," reports The Verge. The warnings will begin in April: "Today we're announcing that Chrome will gradually ensure that secure (HTTPS) pages only download secure files," Joe DeBlasio of the Chrome security team wrote in a blog post. "Insecurely-downloaded files are a risk to users' security and privacy. For instance, insecurely-downloaded programs can be swapped out for malware by attackers, and eavesdroppers can read users' insecurely-downloaded bank statements." Beginning with Chrome 82, due for release in April, Chrome will warn users if they're about to download mixed content executables from a secure website. Then, when version 83 is released, those executable downloads will be blocked and the warning will be applied to archive files. PDFs and .doc files will get the warning in Chrome 84, with audio, images, text, and video files displaying it by version 85. Finally, all mixed content downloads — a non-secure file coming from a secure site — will be blocked as of the release of Chrome 86. Right now, Google is estimating an October release for that build of the popular web browsing.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Do We Need To Talk About 'Cloud Neutrality'?

Slashdot - Sun, 16/02/2020 - 20:49
"A multibillion-dollar, privately-owned infrastructure is now essential to the modern internet economy," writes Wired. And if you care about net neutrality, "That should freak you out." [T]here's an even bigger issue brewing, and it's time to start talking about it: cloud neutrality. "While its name sounds soft and fluffy," Microsoft president and general counsel Brad Smith and coauthor Carol Ann Browne write in their recent book, Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, "in truth the cloud is a fortress...." Each data center costs hundreds of millions of dollars to build and many millions more to maintain; and you pretty much can't build a successful new company without them. So, thank goodness for Microsoft, right? The book means to portray this might and power as both a source of wonder and an enabling feature of the modern economy. To me, it reads like a threat. The cloud economy exists at the pleasure, and continued profit, of a handful of companies. The internet is no longer the essential enabler of the tech economy. That title now belongs to the cloud. But the infrastructure of the internet, at least, was publicly financed and subsidized. The government can set rules about how companies have to interact with their customers. Whether and how it sets and enforces those rules isn't the point, for now. It can. That's not the case with the cloud. This infrastructure is solely owned by a handful of companies with hardly any oversight. [Besides Microsoft, the article also notes Google and Amazon.] The potential for abuse is huge, whether it's through trade-secret snooping or the outright blocking, slowing, or hampering of transmission. No one seems to be thinking about what could happen if these behemoths decide it's against their interests to have all these barnacles on their flanks. They should be. Cloud companies "are essentially incubating and hosting their competition..." the article points out. "The problem is that few have the resources to replicate the cloud infrastructure, should the landlords suddenly turn on their tenants."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The latest Silent Hill 2: Enhanced Edition mod fixes shadows and special effects

Eurogamer - Sun, 16/02/2020 - 20:01

It's taken almost a year, but the group of volunteer developers and modders who have been quietly enhancing and improving the PC release of celebrated psychological horror, Silent Hill 2, have released a new update.

Silent Hill 2: Enhanced Edition is self-described as an ongoing project of enhancement packages that add various visual, audio, and bug improvements for the PC version of the game, such as implementing a modern widescreen camera, improving the display for higher resolutions, and removing several prominent audio bugs.

The most recent version - released earlier this week - sees newly-added features such as "soft shadows, self shadows, restored post-processing effects, continued controller support, and much more".

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Categories: Video Games

OpenPower Foundation Releases a Friendly EULA For IBM's Power ISA RISC

Slashdot - Sun, 16/02/2020 - 19:48
Long-time Slashdot reader lkcl writes: Michael Larabel, of Phoronix, writes that the OpenPower Foundation has released a license agreement for Hardware Vendors to implement the Power ISA RISC instruction set in their processors. Hugh Blemings, the Director of OpenPower, was responsible for ensuring that the EULA is favourable and friendly towards Libre and Open Hardware projects and businesses. Of particular interest is that IBM's massive patent portfolio is automatically granted, royalty-free as long as two conditions apply: firstly, the hardware must be fully and properly Power ISA compliant, and secondly, the implementor must not "try it on" as a patent troll. Innovation in the RISC space just got a little more interesting. "Amidst the fully free and open RISC-V ISA making headway into the computing market, and ARM feeling pressured to loosen up its licensing, it seems they figured that it's best to join the party early," argues Hackaday.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff
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