Industry news

David Pilling Treasure Trove

The Iconbar - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 07:02
If you are looking to learn about software, there is a treasure trove of source code and resources available on the Internet.

One of the more interesting resources is from David Pilling. He is something of a RISC OS legend (being behind OvationPro and many critical tools for RISC OS). His website lists his software and also includes several free utilities.

There is also an interesting section for 'retired' software here. Rather than just let the packages disappear, the source code is now available for all the ArcFax, Panorama, SparkFS and many other former commercial applications. Enjoy digging....

David Pilling website

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Categories: RISC OS

Bluetooth Audio Quality & aptX on Windows 10

Helge Klein - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 19:43

Bluetooth is a flexible standard. It defines various profiles that operate on top of the Bluetooth networking protocol stack and implement specific services, such as hands-free communications. Bluetooth devices each support a small subset of profiles, typically only one or two, according to their designated function.

Bluetooth headphones and speakers implement the advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP). The A2DP profile transports encoded audio streams from one device to another. To guarantee compatibility between devices, any device implementing the A2DP profile needs to offer a common codec, SBC. However, A2DP supports additional codecs that may increase audio quality or reduce latency compared to SBC. One of those optional codecs is aptX. In this article, I am looking at aptX benefits and I am describing how to get aptX on Windows 10.

What is aptX?

aptX is an alternative codec for the Bluetooth A2DP protocol. It comes in multiple flavors:

  • aptX
  • aptX LL (low latency)
  • aptX HD
Is aptX better than SBC?

Qualcomm, who acquired the aptX company CSR in 2015, claims that aptX offers “superior audio”. Figuring out whether that is actually true is harder than expected. Let’s break this quality question down into two different aspects: fidelity and latency.

Audio Fidelity

As this overview shows, the technical specifications of the base aptX code are similar to that of SBC. Specifically, the maximum bitrate of 352 kb/s is not much higher than SBC’s 320-345 kb/s (SBC depending on implementation).

The bitrate by itself does not tell us anything about a codec’s fidelity, however. Different codecs can be very different in encoding efficiency, as are H.264 and its successor H.265 for video (the latter only needs about half as many bits for the same visual quality). Fidelity can only be determined by double-blind listening tests. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have performed such listening tests in a scientific, reproducible manner (at least I could not find any information). Please let me know by commenting below if you know of any publications.

Another aspect influencing fidelity is that implementations do not always use a codec’s maximum bitrate. SBC, for example, comes with three quality modes, low (201 kb/s), middle (229 kb/s) and high (328 kb/s). Devices may select lower-quality modes to favor a stable connection over sound quality (example: these Sony headphones).

Audio Latency

When watching a video, you do not want the audio to lag behind. In other words: the audio latency should ideally be small enough to not be noticeable. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.

Bluetooth audio introduces significant latency, the exact amount of which depends on the codec as well as its implementations in the sending and receiving devices. Most Bluetooth headphone reviews do not include latency measurements, with the notable exception of rtings.com. They even have a list with latencies for all the headphones they ever tested. Plain aptX seems to be slightly better than SBC, but only aptX LL seems to be good enough to not be noticeable.

While, however, the number of devices supporting base aptX is steadily growing, support for aptX LL is still extremely rare (see rtings.com or bluetoothcheck.com).

Audio Quality Summary

There do not seem to be any objective comparisons between the aptX variants and SBC. From my experience it should be safe to say the following:

  • SBC offers pretty good fidelity at maximum bitrate.
  • aptX might be slightly better than SBC at maximum bitrate.
  • Both SBC and aptX introduce significant latency in the range of 150-200 ms.
  • aptX LL drastically reduces latency but is only supported by a handful of devices.
aptX on Windows 10 OS Support

If Microsoft wanted to hide this piece of information, they could not be doing a better job. A single page on microsoft.com mentions aptX. Apparently, Windows 10 has supported the aptX codec since the first release (1507). According to this Reddit thread, Windows 10 aptX support does not require any drivers in addition to what is part of the OS. I am mentioning that because numerous forum posts state you need to install special drivers. That does not seem to be true.

As for aptX HD or aptX LL (low latency): those codecs do not seem to be supported. If you would like to have them in Windows – especially aptX LL would be great when watching video – make sure to vote for this item in Feedback Hub: please add aptX Low Latency codec support to the Bluetooth A2DP driver.

For a list of supported Bluetooth versions and profiles see this page.

External USB Adapter

The Avantree Audicast is a flexible Bluetooth transmitter that can be connected to a PC (via USB) or a TV (via optical input or headphone jack). The Audicast has several neat features:

  • Support for aptX LL (low latency) in addition to regular aptX and, of course, SBC
  • LEDs indicate which codec is being used
  • Two receiving headphones can be connected
  • Small and light
  • No additional power source except for USB required
  • All cables are included

Please note that when connected to a PC, the Audicast does not work as a generic Bluetooth adapter (in which case the OS drivers would be used). Instead, it registers as a USB audio device. No drivers are required.

Which Codec and Bitrate are Being Used?

Amazingly, Windows does not provide any tool or API for monitoring the codec used by A2DP. Whether it is SBC, aptX or something different – users are left completely in the dark. To help change that and encourage Microsoft to provide more visibility, please vote for please let users see what Bluetooth A2DP codec is used.

For the sake of completeness I sent several hours capturing and analysing ETW logs as indicated at the following source, but none of the generated logs seemed to indicate the A2DP codec being used.

The post Bluetooth Audio Quality & aptX on Windows 10 appeared first on Helge Klein.

WEM 1811 UPDATE AVAILABLE

Wag the real - Alain Assaf blog - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 17:11
Intro Another season, another WEM version. The version numbering system in now in line with other newly released Citrix products. This version is 1811. You can now download the new version here (requires Platinum licenses and login to Citrix.com). I’ve provided the release notes below. I also have it on good authority that Citrix added […]
Categories: , Citrix, Virtualisation

Cool New Windows 2019 Features

Theresa Miller - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 06:30

After a rocky start in October due to a bad Windows Update that impacted the brand new Windows 2019 platform, Windows 2019 is available and being deployed. With every new Windows version comes a host of new features and functionality. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest new features in Windows 2019, broken […]

The post Cool New Windows 2019 Features appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

South-West Show Q and A

The Iconbar - Fri, 01/11/2019 - 08:04
With the South-West Show a month away, we hunted down the organisers for some more details....

We noticed the venue has changed this year. What was the reasoning behind that?
Various exhibitors and some customers have said that as the old venue could only be reached by car that it was not suitable. One exhibitor last year backed out at the last moment citing this as the reason.

Is it still easy to reach via public transport and car?
It is now more easily reached. Bristol Meads mainline station is only 20 minutes walk away there are believe something like 11 bus routes that go past the hotel and it has a large car park off of a main route from the M4 motorway. There is a map on the website http://www.riscos-swshow.co.uk

Bristol is quite a trek for some. Is it possible to stay the night at the hotel? Is anything planned for the night before the show?

Yes it is. Nothing official is planned but usually a few early birds and exhibitors might gather in the bar for a chat.

Any other changes you can tell us about?

The format for the show will be similar to previous years

Who is exhibiting this year?

All the usual suspects. we will have an updated list on the website within the next week or so. But most exhibitors from previous years a few new ones should be coming.

Are you anticipating any interesting announcements this year at the South-West Show?

We always hope that there will be special announcements from the exhibitors.

Anything else you can tell us about?

RISC OS Developments Ltd will be giving a talk at the BCS on the 17th January in London to their Open Source Groups. Details will be on their website shortly.

South-West Show website

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Categories: RISC OS

2019 Annual Technology Predictions for the Upcoming Year

Theresa Miller - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 06:30

We are hoping that everyone had a wonderful holiday season which has brought upon us the brand New Year of 2019!  When that happens we all start reflecting on the past year, and what the New Year will bring.  Here is a list of predictions from many great leaders at great companies in the industry […]

The post 2019 Annual Technology Predictions for the Upcoming Year appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Saving & Restoring Total Commander Tab Sets

Helge Klein - Mon, 01/07/2019 - 17:18

Total Commander’s custom start menu is a great place to quickly launch all kinds of tools and programs that are otherwise hard to get to. However, TC’s start menu is not limited to external tools. It can be used to run internal TC commands, too. In this article, I am using that capability to build a simple solution for saving and restoring sets of Total Commander tabs to and from files.

Why Save and Restore Tab Sets?

The most common use case for multiple tab sets I can think of is people working in different environments or on different projects. Being able to switch the tabs needed at customer A for the tabs needed at customers B, C, or D should be very helpful.

End Result

This is what I am going to build:

The Tabs submenu has entries for loading and saving all tabs from/to a file called %COMPUTERNAME%.tab. This is a simple solution designed as a tab backup. It can easily be extended to a solution that loads and saves multiple different tab sets.

Getting There

Click Start > Change Start Menu… to bring up the dialog that configures Total Commander’s start menu. You might or might not already have entries in your start menu. We are not going to touch them in any way. Instead, we are adding a new section with a Tabs submenu. Instructions:

  1. Navigate to the last of your existing start menu entries.
  2. Add an item with a dash (-) as the title. This creates a dividing horizontal line, separating your existing start menu entries from the new tabs functionality.
  3. Add a submenu with the title Tabs.
  4. In the submenu, add two items.
    • Item 1 title: Load from %COMPUTERNAME%.tab
    • Item 1 command: OPENTABS d:\Data\Total Commander\%COMPUTERNAME%.tab
    • Item 2 title: Save to %COMPUTERNAME%.tab
    • Item 2 command: SAVETABS2L d:\Data\Total Commander\%COMPUTERNAME%.tab

The result should look like this:

Please note:

  • The path used in the commands above must not be enclosed quotes even if it contains spaces.
  • As you can see in the examples, environment variables can be used.
  • The path used above, “d:\Data\Total Commander”, should be adjusted as needed.

That’s it – enjoy!

The post Saving & Restoring Total Commander Tab Sets appeared first on Helge Klein.

3 key dates for your diary in 2019

The Iconbar - Fri, 01/04/2019 - 07:39
While you are still in New Year's resolution mode, there are 3 key dates which should be in your diary for 2019. We are very lucky in the RISC OS World to have 3 Shows spread across the country and they diary. They are where all the big announcements are made, and the chance to meet developers and other RISC OS users. It is worth attending at least one (if not all 3).

So get these dates in your dairy now....

The South-West show takes place on Saturday 16th February, 2019 takes place at a brand new location in Bristol. The show have been moved to make it much easier to reach by public transport.

The Wakefield show is on Saturday, 27th April 2019 at it s regular home at Cedar Court Hotel. This is very easy accessible.

The London Show has not published an official date yet, but always happens at the end of October. We will report on any details as soon as we receive them.

All the shows happen at Hotels, so you can always arrive the night before and meet up with other RISC OS users around the hotel.

Are there any other critical dates for you in the RISC OS Calendar?

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Categories: RISC OS

New - NetScaler Gateway Plug-in v4.4.0 for Mac OS X

Netscaler Gateway downloads - Tue, 01/01/2019 - 18:30
New downloads are available for Citrix Gateway
Categories: Citrix, Commercial, Downloads

New - NetScaler Gateway Plug-in v4.2.7 for Mac OS X

Netscaler Gateway downloads - Tue, 01/01/2019 - 18:30
New downloads are available for Citrix Gateway
Categories: Citrix, Commercial, Downloads

New - NetScaler Gateway Plug-in v4.4.0 for Mac OS X

Netscaler Gateway downloads - Tue, 01/01/2019 - 18:30
New downloads are available for Citrix Gateway
Categories: Citrix, Commercial, Downloads

New - NetScaler Gateway Plug-in v4.2.7 for Mac OS X

Netscaler Gateway downloads - Tue, 01/01/2019 - 18:30
New downloads are available for Citrix Gateway
Categories: Citrix, Commercial, Downloads

December news

The Iconbar - Fri, 12/28/2018 - 10:24
Some things we noticed this month. What did you see?

RISC OS Blog has a review of Island of the Undead

Pipedream 4.56 released.

The long-awaited Riscository Wakefield show report is now ">online

Some interesting things are happening on ">riscos.fr

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Categories: RISC OS

RISC OS interview with Chris Williams

The Iconbar - Mon, 12/24/2018 - 09:20
For your Christmas treat this year, we have an interview with Chris Williams, of Drobe and The Register fame. Enjoy and a very Merry Christmas from Iconbar.

Would you like to introduce yourself?

I'm Chris Williams, former editor of RISC OS news and trouble-making website drobe.co.uk. The site's frozen online right now as an archive because while I used to have a lot of free time to work on it, I graduated university in the mid-2000s, got a real job, and sadly ran out of spare time to maintain it, and so put it in stasis to preserve it. Today, I live and work in San Francisco, editing and writing articles for theregister.co.uk, mostly covering software and chips. I also once upon a time wrote some RISC OS applications, such as EasyGCC to help people build C/C++ projects, and a virtual memory manager that extended the machine's RAM using swap space on disk. If you're using RISC OS Select or 6, there's some of my code in there, too, during boot up.

How long have you been using RISC OS?

Since 1992 when my parents bought an Acorn A5000. So I guess that's about 26 years ago. We upgraded to a RiscPC as soon as we could. I took a StrongARM RPC crammed with add-ons, like an x86 card, IDE accelerator, Viewfinder graphics card, and Ethernet NIC, to uni, and got to know the OS really well. No other operating system I've used since has come close to the simplicity and ease-of-use of the RISC OS GUI, in my opinion. Apple's macOS came really very close, and then the iGiant lost the plot on code quality.

What does RISC OS look like from the USA viewpoint?

It's kinda like BeOS, in that operating system aficionados will know of it and appreciate it for what it is: an early operating system that had an intuitive user interface but was pushed under the wheels of Intel and Microsoft. Folks who experiment with RaspberryPis may also come across it, as it is one of the operating systems listed on raspberrypi.org. In conversation with Americans, or in writing articles, I normally introduce RISC OS as the OS Acorn made for its Arm desktop computers - y'know, Acorn. Acorn Computers. Britain's Apple. The English Amiga. The ones who formed Arm, the people who make all your smartphone processor cores. And then the light bulb turns on.

What's really interesting is what's going on with Arm, and I think that will help, to some extent, RISC OS appear a little on more people's radars. Anyone who's been using RISC OS since the 1990s knows the pain of seeing their friends and colleagues having fun with their Windows PC games and applications, and their Intel and AMD processors, and graphics cards, and so on. Even though RISC OS had a fine user interface, and a decent enough set of software, and fun games, it just was for the most part, incompatible with the rest of the world and couldn't quite keep up with the pace of competitors. It was hard seeing everything coalesce around the x86-Windows alliance, while Acorn lost its way, and Arm was pushing into embedded engineering markets.

Now, Arm is in every corner of our daily lives. It's in phones, tablets, routers, smartcards, hard drives, Internet of Things, gadgets, servers, and even desktops. Microsoft is pushing hard on Windows 10 Arm-based laptops with multi-day battery life, at a time when Intel has got itself stuck in a quagmire of sorts. It blows my mind to go visit US giants like Qualcomm, and Arm's offices in Texas, and see them focusing on Arm-based desktop CPUs, a technology initiative the Acorn era could really have done with. It's just a little mindboggling, to me me anyway, to see Microsoft, so bent on dominating the desktop world with Windows on x86, to the detriment of RISC OS on Arm, now embracing Windows on Arm. I probably sound bitter, though I'm really not - I'm just astonished. That's how life goes around, I guess.

Anyway, it's perhaps something RISC OS can work with, beyond its ports to various interesting systems, if not targeting new hardware then catching attention as an alternative Arm OS. One sticking point is that Arm is gradually embracing 64-bit more and more. It'll support 32-bit for a long while yet, but its latest high-end cores are 64-bit-only at the kernel level.

What other systems do you use?

I use Debian Linux on the desktop, and on the various servers I look after. I was an Apple macOS user as well for a while, though I recently ditched it. The software experience was getting weird, and the terrible quality of the latest MacBook Pro hardware was the final straw. Over the years, I've used FreeBSD and Debian Linux on various Arm chipsets, AMD and Intel x86 processors, and PowerPC CPUs, and even a MIPS32 system. I just got a quad-core 64-bit RISC-V system. I like checking out all sorts of architectures.

What is your current RISC OS setup?

I have a RaspberryPi 2 for booting RISC OS whenever I need it, though my primary environment is Linux. It's what I use during work.

What is your favourite feature/killer program in RISC OS?

Back in the day, I couldn't work without OvationPro, Photodesk, the terminal app Putty, StrongEd, BASIC for prototyping, GCC for software development, Director for organizing my desktop, Netsurf and Oregano, Grapevine... the list goes on.

What would you most like to see in RISC OS in the future?

Many, many more users. People able to access RISC OS more easily, perhaps using a JavaScript-based Arm emulator in a web browser to introduce them to the desktop.

What are your interests beyond RISC OS?

Pretty much making the most of living in California while I'm here, and traveling around the United States to visit tech companies and see what America has to offer. From Hawaii to Utah and Nevada to Texas, Florida and New York, and everything in between. I cycle a lot at the weekends, going over the Golden Gate Bridge and into normal Cali away from the big city, or exploring the East Bay ridge, returning via Berkeley. My apartment is a 15-minute walk from the office, so I tend to cycle a lot to get some exercise. When I was living in the UK, I ran about 48 miles a week, before and after work, which was doable in Essex and London where the streets and paths are flat. That's kinda impossible in San Francisco, where the hills are legendarily steep. I'm happy if I can make it four or five miles.

I also do some programming for fun, mainly using Rust - which is like C/C++ though with a heavy focus on security, speed and multithreading. We really shouldn't be writing application and operating system code in C/C++ any more; Rust, Go, and other languages are far more advanced and secure. C is, after all, assembly with some syntactic sugar. I've also been experimenting with RISC-V, an open-source CPU instruction set architecture that is similar to 64-bit Arm in that they have common roots - the original RISC efforts in the SF Bay Area in the early 1980s. The idea is: the instruction set and associated architecture is available for all to freely use to implement RISC-V-compatible CPU cores in custom chips and processors. Some of these cores are also open-source, meaning engineers can take them and plug them into their own custom chips, and run Linux and other software on them.

Western Digital, Nvidia, and other big names are using or exploring RISC-V as an alternative to Arm, which charges money to license its CPU blueprints and/or architecture. Bringing it all together, I've started writing a small open-source operating system, in my spare time, in Rust for RISC-V called Diosix 2.0 (www.diosix.org). Version 1.0 was a microkernel that ran on x86. The goal is to make a secure Rust-RISC-V hypervisor that can run multiple environments at the same time, each environment or virtual machine in its own hardware-enforced sandbox. That means you can do things like internet banking in one VM sandbox, and emails and Twitter browsing in another, preventing any malicious code or naughty stuff in one VM from affecting whatever's running in another VM.

You can do all this on x86, Arm, and MIPS, of course. But given RISC-V was not bitten by the data-leaking speculative-execution design flaws (aka Meltdown and Spectre) that made life difficult for Intel, AMD, Arm, et al this year, and Rust is a lot safer than C/C++ that today's hypervisors and operating systems are written in, I felt it was worth exploring. Pretty much every Adobe Flash, Windows, iOS, Android, macOS, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc security update these days is due to some poor programmer accidentally blundering with their C/C++ code, and allowing memory to be corrupted and exploited to execute malicious code. Google made the language of Go, and Mozilla made the language of No: Rust refuses to build software that potentially suffers from buffer overflows, data races, and so on.

It also all helps me in my day job of editing and writing a lot - keeping up to date with chip design, software, security, and so on.

If someone hired you for a month to develop RISC OS software, what would you create?

To be honest, I'd try to find a way to transplant the RISC OS GUI onto other environments, so I can use the window furniture, contextual menus, filer, pinboard, iconbar, etc, on top of a base that runs on modern hardware. I think that would take longer than a month.

What would you most like Father Christmas to bring you as a present?

A larger apartment: rent is bonkers in San Francisco, so I could do with some extra space.

Any questions we forgot to ask you?

Why do vodka martinis always seem like a good idea 90 minutes before it's too late to realize they were a bad idea?

PS: if anyone wants to get in touch, all my contact details are on diodesign.co.uk

You can read lots of other interviews on Iconbar here

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Categories: RISC OS

Citrix User Group XXVII review

Citrix UK User Group - Fri, 12/21/2018 - 15:26

To use the terminology of our CUGC colleagues from the left of “the pond”, this was the UK User Group’s 27th “XL” event (which means we, as always, dedicate a full day to our community sharing, and not just an …

Read more »

The post Citrix User Group XXVII review appeared first on UK Citrix User Group.

New - NetScaler Gateway (Maintenance Phase) Plug-ins and Clients for Build 12.0-60.9

Netscaler Gateway downloads - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 18:30
New downloads are available for Citrix Gateway
Categories: Citrix, Commercial, Downloads

New - Components for NetScaler Gateway 12.0

Netscaler Gateway downloads - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 18:30
New downloads are available for Citrix Gateway
Categories: Citrix, Commercial, Downloads

New - Components for NetScaler Gateway 12.0

Netscaler Gateway downloads - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 18:30
New downloads are available for Citrix Gateway
Categories: Citrix, Commercial, Downloads

New - NetScaler Gateway (Maintenance Phase) 12.0 Build 60.9

Netscaler Gateway downloads - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 18:30
New downloads are available for Citrix Gateway
Categories: Citrix, Commercial, Downloads

New - NetScaler Gateway (Maintenance Phase) Plug-ins and Clients for Build 12.0-60.9

Netscaler Gateway downloads - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 18:30
New downloads are available for Citrix Gateway
Categories: Citrix, Commercial, Downloads

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