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August, 2019

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Should the Linux Kernel Accept Drivers Written In Rust?

Packt’s recent story about Rust had the headline “Rust is the future of systems programming, C is the new Assembly.”

But there was an interesting discussion about the story on LWN.net. One reader suggested letting people write drivers for the Linux kernel in Rust. (“There’s a good chance that encouraging people to submit their wacky drivers in Rust would improve the quality of the driver, partly because you can focus attention on the unsafe parts.”)

And that comment drew an interesting follow-up:
“I spoke with Greg Kroah-Hartman, and he said he’d be willing to accept a framework in the kernel for writing drivers in Rust, as long as 1) for now it wasn’t enabled by default (even if you did “make allyesconfig”) so that people don’t *need* Rust to build the kernel, and 2) it shows real benefits beyond writing C, such as safe wrappers for kernel APIs.”

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Source:: Slashdot

The best coffee grinders you can buy right now – CNET

We tested a whole mess of home coffee grinders. Here are our favorites for 2019. …read more

Source:: CNet

Brazilian citizen data under threat with sale of national tech firms

A manifesto released by the employees at one of the state-controlled firms to be privatized by the government raises concerns over the future of information belonging to millions of citizens. …read more

Source:: ZDNet

Trusty reusable coffee cups to keep your coffee hot and wallet full – CNET

Be kinder to your budget — and to the environment. …read more

Source:: CNet

Intel Engineer Launches Working Group To Bring Rust ‘Full Parity With C’

Someone from the Rust language governance team gave an interesting talk at this year’s Open Source Technology Summit. Josh Triplett (who is also a principal engineer at Intel), discussed “what Intel is contributing to bring Rust to full parity with C,” in a talk titled Intel and Rust: the Future of Systems Programming.

An anonymous reader quotes Packt:

Triplett believes that C is now becoming what Assembly was years ago. “C is the new Assembly,” he concludes. Developers are looking for a high-level language that not only addresses the problems in C that can’t be fixed but also leverage other exciting features that these languages provide. Such a language that aims to be compelling enough to make developers move from C should be memory safe, provide automatic memory management, security, and much more…

“Achieving parity with C is exactly what got me involved in Rust,” says Triplett. Triplett’s first contribution to the Rust programming language was in the form of the 1444 RFC, which was started in 2015 and got accepted in 2016. This RFC proposed to bring native support for C-compatible unions in Rust that would be defined via a new “contextual keyword” union…

He is starting a working group that will focus on achieving full parity with C. Under this group, he aims to collaborate with both the Rust community and other Intel developers to develop the specifications for the remaining features that need to be implemented in Rust for system programming. This group will also focus on bringing support for systems programming using the stable releases of Rust, not just experimental nightly releases of the compiler.

Last week Triplett posted that the FFI/C Parity working group “is in the process of being launched, and hasn’t quite kicked off yet” — but he promised to share updates when it does.

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Source:: Slashdot

A Radio Transceiver From A Cable Modem Chipset

It’s a staple of our community’s work, to make electronic devices do things their manufacturers never intended for them. Analogue synthesisers using CMOS logic chips for example, or microcontrollers that bitbang Ethernet packets without MAC hardware. One of the most fascinating corners of this field comes in the form of software defined radios (SDRs), with few of us not owning an RTL2832-based digital TV receiver repurposed as an SDR receiver.

The RTL SDR is not the only such example though, for there is an entire class of cable modem chipsets that contain the essential SDR building blocks. The Hermes-Lite is an HF amateur radio transceiver project that uses an AD9866 cable modem chip as the signal end for its 12-bit SDR transceiver hardware with an FPGA between it and an Ethernet interface. It covers frequencies from 0 to 38.4 MHz, has 384 kHz of bandwidth, and can muster up 5W of output power.

It’s a project that’s been on our radar for the past few years, though somewhat surprisingly this is the first mention of it here on Hackaday. Creator [Steve Haynal] has reminded us that version 2 is now a mature project on its 9th iteration, and says that over 100 “Hermes-Lite 2.0” units have been assembled to date. If you’d like a Hermes-Lite of your own it’s entirely open-source, and they organise group buys of the required components.

Of course, SDRs made from unexpected components don’t have to be exotic.

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Source:: Hackaday

Scientists Excited By Discovery of an Impossibly Large Black Hole

In 2017 several scientists co-signed a wager at the Aspen Center for Physics that a black hole wouldn’t be discovered between 55 and 130 solar masses.
They may have lost, reports the Atlantic:
Black-hole physicists have been excitedly discussing reports that the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave detectors recently picked up the signal of an unexpectedly enormous black hole, one with a mass that was thought to be physically impossible. “The prediction is no black holes, not even a few” in this mass range, wrote Stan Woosley, an astrophysicist at the University of California at Santa Cruz, in an email. “But of course we know nature often finds a way….”

Whereas most of the colliding black holes that wiggle LIGO’s and Virgo’s instruments probably originated as pairs of isolated stars (binary star systems being common in the cosmos), MIT’s Carl Rodriguez and his co-signers argued that a fraction of the detected collisions occur in dense stellar environments such as globular clusters. The black holes swing around in one another’s gravity, and sometimes they catch one another and merge, like big fish swallowing smaller ones in a pond. Inside a globular cluster, a 50-solar-mass black hole could merge with a 30-solar-mass one, for instance, and then the resulting giant could merge again. This second-generation merger is what LIGO/Virgo might have detected — “a lucky catch of the big fish in the pond.

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Intermittent Fasting May Be As Beneficial As Counting Calories

“A type of intermittent fasting that calls for eating nothing one day, and then whatever a person wants the next, can be done safely for several months and comes with a number of health benefits, a study has found.”

An anonymous reader quotes Today.com:

Alternate day fasting improved cardiovascular markers, reducing blood pressure and heart rate after four weeks, researchers reported in Cell Metabolism on Tuesday. People who followed the plan for six months also had lower levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides compared to those who ate normally. Overall, they ate about 37% fewer calories, lost weight and had an “improved fat distribution,” reducing the fat in their trunk and abdomen by about 14% on average.

Researchers saw no adverse effects from alternate day fasting even after six months, concluding the strategy seems to be as beneficial as daily calorie restriction, but easier to stick with.

Humans can easily tolerate skipping food for an entire day, said Dr. Thomas Pieber, one of the study authors and chair of the department of internal medicine at the Medical University of Graz in Austria. “The truth is that our organism is ready to fast for much longer,” Pieber told TODAY. “Ten thousand or 100,000 years ago, we didn’t have breakfast, lunch and dinner and some cake in-between with our coffee. You just have to train your organism to get adjusted to that short-term fasting and after a few days, most people can adjust….”

One reason fasting may be so beneficial for the human body is that it can activate autophagy, a mechanism that helps to regenerate cells, Pieber said. The first two weeks can be a challenge, but hunger or the lightheadedness that can come with not eating for an entire day actually wasn’t a big issue for the participants after a while, Pieber noted. People often feel “very energetic” on fasting days, he added.

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Joker early reviews: ‘Dark, sick, twisted’ and an Oscar contender – CNET

Could Joaquin Phoenix win an Academy Award for his role as the Clown Prince of Crime? …read more

Source:: CNet

5G myths: What’s true and what’s not about the next-gen network – CNET

We clear up some of the confusion around 5G. …read more

Source:: CNet

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