Microsoft Releases Project Centennial Windows 10 UWP App Converter

Not content to just let developers create new apps for Windows 10 from scratch, Microsoft announced last year a program to allow current Win32 applications to be ported to the Unified Windows Platform. Dubbed Project Centennial, the app converter has finally been released to the public at this years BUILD, one year after its reveal. Project Centennial will turn existing Win32 and .NET apps into the UWP AppX format.

Microsoft has remained mum on the specifics but it seems like the Centennial App Converter will simply wrap around the existing program and offer the clean install and uninstall of UWP. The Centennial App Converter sounds sort of like the App-V app virtualization offered to enterprise customers. The app remains unbound by the UWP sandbox and is free of the restrictions imposed on native UWP apps.

All of that makes it seem like UWP doesn’t have to be as restrictive as it currently is. Perhaps, the best way forward for game developers is to create a normal Win32 game then package it in the UWP using the Centennial App Converter. This allows both the flexibility and power of traditional Win32 applications while providing a more unified and simpler platform through the Microsoft Store.

By converting existing apps easily with the Centennial App Converter, Microsoft is hoping to address the biggest concern with their UWP store, the lack of applications. By moving current Windows applications to UWP, the Windows system will also become more integrated and unified. There is no word yet when the App Converter will actually launch but expect it soon.

Judge Rules That FBI Tor Hack Must Be Revealed to Lawyer

FBI this, FBI that. It would seem that the FBI just can’t help but keep out of the news these days with Apple Vs the FBI seeming to turn companies against the government, but this is not the only case where the FBI is having trouble. The other case is when they were able to hack over 1,000 computers on the infamous Tor network, leading to a series of convictions. The Judge presiding over the case has now stated that the defence lawyer should be provided with the code used to hack their computers.

Colin Fieman is the federal public defender working on the case and has requested that they are given access to a copy of the code used to identify his client. In a response to Motherboard, Fieman stated that the code would include “everything”, including the methods used to bypass security features of the Tor Browser.

Vlad Tsyrklevith is the defence’s consulted expert on code and he has since received the “code” used, but it seems that the FBI were holding out with several key elements missing from the code. This included the exploit used to break into the defendant’s computer, a key feature that should be provided in the case with the agreement that “subject to the terms of the protective order currently in place” they would have access to the code used to identify and potentially, charge, the defendant.

It would seem the FBI can’t stop getting caught short, with this case drawing criticism because of the use of a single warrant to hack an unknown number of computers located around the world. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the FBI hadn’t kept the site which contained illegal materials online, effectively meaning that the FBI were distributing the same thing they are now prosecuting people for.

Drone Vs. Drone Capture Technology Demonstrated

Drone’s will be making the news more and more this year. With everything from having to register drones in the USA to legal rulings involving drones, last year had everything. One topic of particular interest was not the before or after of a drone flight, but how would you stop one in use? A team at Michigan Tech think they may have an answer in their Drone Vs. Drone concept.

After the news that snipers were protecting crowds at the World Cup from drones, Mo Rastgarr of Michigan Tech University thought there had to be better ways. Along with a team of students, Rastgaar started building in late 2014, taking only two months to build their first prototype system.

The new system involves a drone who is equipped with a net gun. An in flight a drone is a dangerous thing, and while progress has been made in taking down drones mid-flight, such as with the anti-drone rifle, taking down drones tend to mean you have falling machinery. The net gun system Rastgaar and his team have created would allow a drone to not only be immobilized but also taken away, possibly for the police to then use for tracking down the owner.

In the video below you can see the concept in action, they even included the invading drone’s viewpoint just to add a little Hollywood to the video.

While not the first anti-drone equipped drone, this prototype system does seem to have some promise from the video and with places like Tokyo creating a squad just for anti-drone responsibilities, you can tell that people are getting more and more concerned about the misuse of this technology. Events like the power cut in Hollywood that was caused by a drone showing how little people have to accept responsibility for their use for this technology.

Australia to Look at Hi-Tech Anti-Shark Methods

We’ve seen the films, the ones with the giant sharks coming up to the beach or the boat. It’s a natural fear, and one that Australia has dealt with for many years, New South Wales has over a dozen shark attacks which has resulted in Australia looking at new ways to deterring the predators from their beaches.

With the announcement of $16 million AUD (around £7.57 million) in the area of shark mitigation strategies over the next five years, with $3.5 million being dedicated to shark spotting techniques. Aiming to replace the helicopters currently used for the task, drones and sonar buoys could soon be used to provide advance warning of the threat and would send texts to nearby lifeguards giving them time to evacuate people from the water.

Alternatives have included tagging sharks and mapping their locations, giving you live updates on when the creatures approach the beaches. Sadly though this option has been put on the back burner due to the need to tag every single shark, a task that is a little against the numbers.

With advancements in technology and reductions in cost, anti-shark drones and buoys are now viable for large scale projects and with several prototypes and areas marked out for testing we could soon see them in action.

Toshiba Reports $318m Net Loss

Toshiba’s fiscal performance from the year start to March has finally been revealed and recorded a net loss of $318 million. The delayed result was caused by the sale of its investment in Finnish firm, Kone to try to recoup financial confidence after senior management figures overstated profits by an estimated $1.22 billion. Despite the rather worrying financials, Toshiba is bullish about the future and released a statement which said:

“While the US economy had lost some momentum in the second half of FY2014, the UK had witnessed a strong performance and the Eurozone had sustained a gradual recovery”.

Despite a slowdown in China, the emerging economies as a whole saw a continued gradual recovery, reflecting solid growth in South-east Asia and India”.

Consumer confidence in Toshiba is quite low after the profits scandal and the company looks to the long-term to restore faith in their management and product line. It’s too early to say what the future holds, but there’s no reason to begin writing Toshiba off just yet. It’s extremely possible that this downturn could be reversed but then again, investors are always concerned about losses or mismanagement. Hopefully, the company can work towards a prosperous future through innovation and products which offer customers real value-for-money.

Do you own a Toshiba product?

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Europe Gets New Laws to Protect Net Neutrality

It’s the weekend and you decide you’re going to pop over the channel to go do a bit of shopping and enjoy a bit of Europe. While you’re abroad you realise you need to make a few quick phone calls, and maybe send a snap chat of what your buying, maybe even video chat an order from your friend for real french cheese or Belgium chocolate. Suddenly the biggest bill is your phone bill, with data roaming charging you for every single use of your phone, and even costing the people who have never left the country. This will soon change.

As of June 15th 2017, roaming charges will be scrapped in Europe. This means that everyone in Europe will pay the same price no matter which European country they are in. This does come with a catch though, in order to prevent abuse of foreign and local networks there will be a “fair use limit”. This means that after a certain amount of use you will find yourself being charged a basic fee, ultimately stopping people from grabbing cheap SIM cards abroad and using them as their main SIM.

On April 30th 2016 new net neutrality laws will come into effect, these will effectively ban not only “fast lanes” (where people pay extra for a service provider to prioritize their connection) and prevent internet service providers from blocking or throttling online content. While this seems to be a case for celebration, EU networks will be allowed to put aside a specialist part of their network for “higher quality” service. While under the condition that this doesn’t affect other people’s access to the rest of the internet, it does leave them open to a broad definition of “specialized services”.

Have you been charged for using your phone abroad? What was your biggest bill?

Thank you Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of ItsAGadget.

AT&T Faces Fine For Throttling Data

Internet speed is a finite thing, with users and the websites they access growing at a staggering rate, companies, and governments are having to find more and more ways to increase users satisfaction when trying to load that page at the end of a busy work day. America has even voted recently to enforce Net Neutrality, a concept many believe the internet was founded on, in which users can’t be offered faster services for paying extra (e.g. if you want to stream this movie you have to pay otherwise you’ll only get this speed) and that users can’t have their experiences reduced if they don’t accept the extra charges.

In a recent action AT&T patented fast lane technology for file sharing, however, this was only the start of the story for AT&T. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has stated they will be fining AT&T a huge $100 million fine. The reason stated is that they have been “severely” slowing down users while not telling those users about the caps placed on their speed.

Back in 2007 AT&T started offering unlimited data plans to its customers, a move it retracted in 2010. Within the next year it was discovered that AT&T had placed a “Maximum Bit Rate” on its customers, meaning that if you sent a certain amount of data before your next bill you would have a cap placed on your connection. The limitation was said to be so bad that users would not be able to access the internet on most occasions and that most app’s which used a connection would be unable to work effectively.

With the new laws in place to help protect users from fast lanes and purposeful slowing down of their connections, hopefully the largest fine in FCC’s history will help deter companies from trying to shake those few extra dollars from people.

Thank you Engadget for the information.

Microsoft Makes .NET Open Source for Linux and OS X

Much of Microsoft’s .NET has been open sourced since April 2014 through its .NET Foundation, but today Microsoft announced that the entirety of its .NET stack is to be made available as open source. GitHub will host the code under an MIT-style licence.

As part of the open source implementation, Microsoft has made the framework cross-platform, meaning it will be compatible with Linux or Apple Mac operating systems. S. Somasegar, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Developer Division, called the move, “a huge change (for Microsoft) and a change that has been slowly and steadily building up for the last couple of years.”

Somasegar expects the project to take some months before it’s ready. Microsoft will be working with the Mono Project and the community to help with the transition.

Source: GIGAOM

Rural Internet Access: Finding High-speed Connections

The author of this article Sarah Bolloum advised her daughter to do a broadband speed test when she had some speed issues on her computer.

In rural communities, high-speed Internet access is not always easy to find. Even if a local provider offers service, your home might be ineligible for various reasons. Consider these tools and options to help locate a provider that serves your area.

Check with companies that offer other services

Sometimes, nationwide companies bundle different services for rural customers. For example, your telephone or satellite-TV provider might offer Internet access via satellite dish. Visit the company’s Web site, or make a phone call, to learn more.

Get on waiting lists

Waiting lists tell providers that they have potential customers in the area. If access is close to your home, but not quite there yet, a list of interested people might persuade the company to plan for expansion. This can take time—months, even years—but adding your information to the list does not take long. Afterward, you can move on and continue looking for other providers.

Search online for providers

Sites like DSLReports.com have searchable databases. These sites include different kinds of Internet connections; customer reviews; and multiple search options (by ZIP code, for example, or by state). Some companies that come up in your search results don’t serve your area, but others might.

Look for more than one kind of connection

You might not be able to get a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) through your telephone provider, but what about a WISP (terrestrial wireless) connection from another provider? This kind of access is ideal for some people in rural areas. Others can use satellite dishes. In some parts of the country, cell-phone providers’ connections work well. Don’t limit yourself to one or two kinds of service; you might have other, unexplored options.

Use local resources

Ask your neighbors how they get Internet access at home. If the family next door has a high-speed provider, the odds are very good that you, too, can subscribe. Sometimes, providers advertise in your area. Keep an eye on billboards, the local newspaper, and even signs staked out in yards. Rural areas are no different from more-populated regions as far as advertising goes; companies find creative ways to get your attention.

You might have only one option other than dial-up. If that’s the case, keep looking while you make the most of what you have. Companies expand coverage areas on a regular basis. New providers move into underserved areas and set up shop. Businesses that offer other services expand. Keep looking, stay on the waiting lists, and talk with your neighbors; convincing them to express a desire for high-speed Internet in their homes can encourage a company to sell you all what you want.

Image courtesy of NYnet