Microsoft released Windows CE in November 1996 as a new version of Windows. Designed to run pocket-sized computers, CE brought the user-friendly Windows 95 interface to mobile computing for the first time. Its architecture also formed the basis of Microsoft’s later mobile computing and smartphone products. Here’s why it was needed. A Compact, Portable Version of Windows Windows CE was necessary because full desktop versions of Windows, then tied mostly to the Intel x86 CPU architecture, weren’t practical to run on the pocket-sized devices of the time. As a result, Windows CE represented an entirely different platform from its desktop OS cousins. It couldn’t run programs designed for Windows 95 or Windows NT. Windows CE’s design emphasized low power usage, compatibility with flash memory storage, and relatively low memory requirements. It also retained a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) similar to Windows 95 , complete with the Start menu, and even a built-in … [Read more...] about What Was Windows CE, and Why Did People Use It?
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Last week we took a look at some of the basics to installing and upgrading a hard disk in your PC. This week, we’re going to look at the many problems that pop up when install a new drive. Installing a disk is one of the easier upgrades you can perform, but it’s not without its headaches. In this edition of Hardware Upgrade, we’ll try and quickly squash as many common problems that we can. If you’re currently having trouble with a hard drive installation, or have solved problems in the past, tell us about them in the comments, so that other readers can share your experience as well. And if you missed the first part of this two part article, you might want to check it out before reading this one. Check And Prepare The New Drive As we discussed in part one, your drive will likely be one of two basic types: a IDE (also known as PATA) drive, or a SATA drive. If you’re upgrading a particularly old system, your machine might have issues with SATA drives—issues that can’t be … [Read more...] about Hardware Upgrade: How To Install A New Hard Drive, Pt 2, Troubleshooting
Apple is rethinking how components should exist and operate inside a laptop. With M1 chips in new Macs, Apple has a new “Unified Memory Architecture” (UMA) that dramatically speeds up memory performance. Here’s how memory works on Apple Silicon. How Apple Silicon Handles RAM In case you haven’t already heard the news, Apple announced a new slate of Macs in November 2020. The new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini models are using an ARM-based processor custom-designed by Apple called the M1 . This change was long expected and is the culmination of Apple’s decade spent designing ARM-based processors for the iPhone and iPad. The M1 is a system on a chip (SoC), which means that there’s not just a CPU inside the processor, but also other key components, including the GPU, I/O controllers, Apple’s Neural Engine for AI tasks, and, most importantly for our purposes, the physical RAM is part of that same package. To be clear, the RAM isn’t on the same Silicon as the fundamental … [Read more...] about How “Unified Memory” Speeds Up Apple’s M1 ARM Macs
Thirty years ago—on January 15, 1991 —an American college student named Tim Sweeney released ZZT , a low-key adventure game with a revolutionary element: It shipped with a free, built-in game editor. ZZT’s success spawned Epic Games, Unreal Engine, and most recently, Fortnite . Here’s why ZZT was special. What’s a “ZZT,” Anyway? Tim Sweeney’s passion for programming began on his Apple II when he was a kid. After getting his first IBM PC in 1989 during his freshman year of college, he dove head-first into programming the new machine. While creating an MS-DOS text editor using Turbo Pascal in 1990, he decided to make the project more fun by adding game-like elements. That evolved into ZZT , which was released as shareware in 1991. The genius of ZZT in the early 1990s was that it wasn’t just a cute ASCII-based adventure. With every copy of ZZT downloaded, players also got an in-game world editor for free. That’s because ZZT’s text editor roots meant … [Read more...] about Before Fortnite, There Was ZZT: Meet Epic’s First Game
When the dominant Linux distributions adopted systemd , dissenters forked distributions and started new projects. So what are your options if you’re looking for a non-systemd distribution? Let’s take a look. systemd: A Quick Recap Historically, the startup sequence in a Linux system was a replica of the initialization system that was introduced with System V Unix (SysV). The SysV init system adhered to the Unix philosophy . When people refer to the Unix philosophy, they usually reduce it to the well-known soundbite “Do one thing, and do it well.” And that thing was to start as the first process and then start other processes. It also culled zombies now and then. SysV init did its job well enough, but it didn’t do it too efficiently. It started processes serially, one after the other. There was no parallelism. The design bottle-necked the throughput. This was more or less masked by the speed gains of modern hardware, and it’s not as if booting a Linux computer took … [Read more...] about The Best Linux Distributions Without systemd