Visual Studio Will Now Include Xamarin

Microsoft recently brought out Xamarin, software based on letting people create programs using C# and .NET operating systems which can then be ported to both iOS and Android. This meant that using the Microsoft based languages you could develop software for a variety of phones. It’s now been revealed that if you are interested in using the software, all you will need is Visual Studio.

With this announcement you can enjoy Xamarin for free as part of Visual studio, and not just any Visual studio but every single version of the development software. With Visual studio offering a free community edition you could soon find the development tools available as part of the free suite of tools, with no restrictions either.

With the original releases of Xamarin featuring a restriction on the free version of the software, limiting just how large the software you created could be before requiring a paid license. Enterprise-orientated features of Xamarin will be restricted to Visual Studio Enterprise subscription users.

If you were looking at using it for OS X or iOS development you’ll need to have access to an OS X machine. In another step for Microsoft, the Xamarin SDK will be made open source and released on Github for all to see and use, including the Xamarin Forms library for creating quick and easy user interfaces.

FCC May Have Caused Manufacturers To Lock Down Routers Afterall

Last year we reported that the FCC (US Federal Communications Commission) may be moving to outlaw the practice of adding custom software to routers. The misunderstanding was cleared up with the FCC saying that they wouldn’t ban the practice, enabling people to customise their routers with their own software and tweaks in safety. It would now seem though that one manufacturer has done just that in response to the FCC’s new rules.

TP-Link is one of the largest routers manufacturers, offering hardware choices to people all over the world. Libre Planet, however, found that they may also be the first to start locking down their firmware, their evidence being the support conversation that shows TP-Link are starting to lock down the installation of open source and custom firmware on their devices.

TP-Link state that they are doing this in order to comply with FCC regulations regarding customizations on wireless routers, the very thing we were told wouldn’t happen! The result could be that third-party software, many of which are open-source, would become illegal if you attempted to place them on your router, something many do due to the support, features and quick security updates often found in open source software.

Do you customise your router’s software? Do you think it’s a good idea for people to be able to do this or is it a better idea to ensure everyone uses the same software?

Software Behind Futurama and Princess Mononoke Is Going Open Source

When it comes to software these days there are always options for you to choose from. The big decision is often based on your budget. If you were interested in making your own anime then you might be in luck as the software some great shows is going open source.

Toonz is a company that develops several pieces of software and even without knowing it you have probably seen it in use. Their main piece of software is an animation tool that helps with cleaning up drawings, composing and animating images and has been used on some big names.

It was thanks to Toonz software that we have Futurama and Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. The problem was often though that software of such high calibre needs maintenance and, therefore, a license cost (rumoured to be upward of $10,000 per each license). The program though has been brought out as part of a deal with Dwango, a term of the sale though is that the tool will become open source.

The new tool, OpenToonz, will feature functions developed by Studio Ghibli and the new tool looks to have “research labs and the animated film industry actively cooperating with each other”. The cost of the product will instead be recovered through training, support and customization services, leaving everyone from a teenager at home to a company to explore the software as they wish.

Nvidia Partially Open Sources GameWorks Library

One of the biggest complaints about GameWorks is the closed source nature of the toolkit. Because of this black box like nature, developers and competitors have had a hard time optimizing games and hardware for it. With the release of GameWorks 3.1 though, Nvidia will be open sourcing parts of GameWorks which will be available on GitHub.

Right now PhysX, PhysX Clothing and PhysX destruction are already available on GitHub. Of the new additions to GameWorks, Volumetric Lighting will be added at GDC while the previously FaceWorks will join it as well. In the near future, HairWorks, WaveWorks and HBAO+ will also join the open source depository.

Even with these open source additions, there still remains parts of GameWorks that will remain closed source. These are VAXO, VXGI, Turf Effects, FlameWorks and PCSS among others. This means that developers are still limited somewhat unless they agree to Nvidia’s EULA and gain some private source access.

The biggest question about GameWorks though is its implementation. Developers have been lazy in optimizing GameWorks and leaving too much at default or maxed out settings. Open sourcing might not help if developers don’t take the time to tweak things. This should help AMD though who have been on of the most vocal critics. The biggest question is how quickly the open source will track new GameWorks releases, especially given how version 3.2 has no mention of GitHub releases on the roadmap.

Microsoft Estimate Around 8000 Companies Looking To Try SQL Servers On Linux

Microsoft recently announced their interest in providing their SQL server software for Linux operating systems. It would seem the news has been well received, with over 8000 companies looking to try SQL servers on Linux.

Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Cloud and Enterprise, stated that by his estimates around 8000 companies were already signed up to try SQL Server 2016 on Linux, with at least 25% of that being fortune 500 companies.

Given that companies like Amazon and Oracle offer similar services, the fact that so many are interested in what Microsoft could provide shows the reputation their software has for businesses. With the move showing that Microsoft is serious not only about the open source community that is commonly found using Linux but also offering alternatives to the cloud for companies to use.

While the cloud offers scalable solutions and choices for companies all over the world, many companies are hesitant to take it on board due to the fact that they lose control over its security and access. Being able to run SQL servers on Linux, using Microsoft’s software would help businesses keep their servers in-house, offering that little bit of choice that companies are often forced to forgo in exchange for cheaper rates.

Microsoft Bringing SQL Database Software To Linux

Microsoft is well-known for three things, their hardware (such as the Microsoft Surface series), their operating systems and their software. The problem being is that a lot of these are closely tied together, their hardware uses their operating system and normally come pre-installed with their software. You can get their operating systems or software alone, but putting their software on another operating system tends to work quite badly (or if you are using the Mac version of Windows Office, you may be missing some of the features available on Windows). This is set to change with Microsoft announcing that their SQL database software will be coming to Linux soon.

For clarification, at least, some of Microsoft’s SQL server’s core capabilities will be coming to Linux, with what parts being heavily influenced by demand and feedback. With Microsoft looking to build their own Linux distro and even opening up their .NET framework for Linux and Mac OSX users, maybe we could see a more and more open approach regarding their software.

With open source software being a big part of companies and governments, Microsoft may be looking to not only get community support in increasing their software capabilities but possibly winning back some of the markets that are going to open source solutions.

Does Your Business Card Have An ECG Built In?

So you find someone who wants to do business, how would you go about advertising your company way after you’ve even met? Some people will give you an email address or phone number while the most prepared will have a nice and shiny business card waiting for your hand before you’ve even broken eye contact. You can get all kinds of business cards, plastic or card and some are even USB memory sticks in disguise. What if you are in a specialist career like a cardiologist? Why not have an ECG card?

Designed by a company titled MobilECG, the latest card has two sensors that can measure your readings just like an actual medical ECG machine. By placing your two thumbs on the provided finger pads, you will get an ECG reading just like those shown on TV. While it isn’t designed to be a diagnostic tool, as clearly stated on the card, the concept is a novel one.

Currently costing $29 per card, the current design is there to merely gauge interest in the product and you can even find the code available for free on the open source repository site GitHub. If that isn’t enough you can even find the schematics for the card here.

Kodi Developers Speak out about Piracy Box Sellers

The developers behind Kodi, the free, open source media player software formerly known as XBMC, are taking a stand against profiteers who are selling modified versions of its product as so-called “piracy boxes”. In the past, Team Kodi has always remained neutral on its software being used to illegally access copyrighted content – the developers believe that users should have the freedom to use and modify the software to suit their needs – while making clear that it does not endorse such practices. Now, though, the team has had enough of its name being dragged through the mud by sellers of “piracy boxes” using the Kodi brand, railing against the practice in a recent blog screed.

“There have been a wave of sellers who decided to make a quick buck modifying Kodi, installing broken piracy add-ons, advertising that Kodi let’s [sic] you watch free movies and TV, and then vanishing when the user buys the box and finds out that the add-on they were sold on was a crummy, constantly breaking mess,” the Kodi blog post reads. “These sellers are dragging users into the world of piracy without their knowledge and at the same time convincing new users that Kodi is a buggy mess, because they never differentiate Kodi from 3rd party add-ons. Every day a new user shows up on the Kodi forum, totally unaware that the free movies they’re watching have been pirated and surprised to discover that Kodi itself isn’t providing those movies.”

“Team Kodi is officially tired of this,” the post continues. “We are tired of new users coming into the forum, asking why the box that “we” sold them was broken. We are tired of this endless campaign by dishonest salesmen to push a single use of Kodi that nobody on the team actually recommends. We are tired of these salesmen lying to users, claiming that pirate streams and pirate boxes are “legal” when they are absolutely not at some level or other. We are tired of being told by companies that they don’t want to work with us, because we are selling pirate boxes. Being removed from an App Store this summer because of the campaigning of others was like a slap in the face. Most of all, we are tired of a thousand different salesmen and Youtubers making money off ruining our name.”

“It’s gotten bad enough that core Kodi developers have threatened to quit in protest,” Team Kodi adds.

In order to combat the rise of “piracy boxes” using the Kodi name, the team will now use ownership of the Kodi trademark to take legal action against anyone selling systems which includes its media player software: “[W]e will issue trademark takedown notices anywhere we think the likelihood for confusion is high. If you are selling a box on your website designed to trick users into thinking broken add-ons come from us and work perfectly, so you can make a buck, we’re going to do everything we can to stop you. If you are making a video in which you claim to be a Kodi developer or Kodi team member or you are just using the Kodi name while assuring users that some pirate add-on is totally legal and isn’t going to break next week, we will do everything we can to take you down.”

Team Kodi concludes the post by asking for help from the Kodi community: “If you see somebody selling a box that’s “fully loaded” or comes with the phrase “Free movies and TV with Kodi,” please, ask them to stop. And let us know.”

Vulkan 1.0 Specification Released

DirectX 11 has been the dominant API for a significant amount of time and doesn’t really allow for effective scaling across a wide range of hardware configurations. Thankfully, DirectX 12 is a major step in the right direction and could revolutionize the way game engines communicate with hardware. Theoretically, the new API should reduce CPU overheads and result in better optimization, although this is down to the developers. DirectX 12 isn’t the only low-level API on offer and there’s a great open source alternative, codenamed Vulkan which supports Windows 7, 8.1, 10, Android and Linux!

This is going to be an enticing proposition for anyone who dislikes Windows 10, and it could help with optimization on SteamOS. AMD originally submitted the XGL proposal from their work on Mantle and this was accepted by the OpenGL Next working group. As a company, AMD’s open source ethos ties in extremely well with Vulkan and they are going to release a beta driver with Vulkan functionality.

Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD said:

“The release of the Vulkan 1.0 specification is a huge step forward for developers. The Vulkan API, which was derived from Mantle, will bring the benefits of low-overhead high-performance Graphics API to the benefit of cross-platform and cross-vendor targeted applications,“ 

“The promotion of open and scalable technologies continues to be the focus at AMD, as a pioneer in the low-overhead API space. As a member of the Khronos Group, AMD is proud to collaborate with hardware and software industry leaders to develop the Vulkan API to ignite the next evolution in PC game development.”

I cannot wait to see Vulkan’s impact compared to other APIs and it’s quite plausible to see major performance benefits. However, I think it will be challenging to encourage developers to adopt Vulkan because the majority of users seems to be excited for DirectX 12 and prepared to upgrade to Windows 10 despite many concerns regarding privacy.

Amazon Releases AAA Game Engine For Free

Game developers can choose from a huge array of tools including Unity, Unreal Engine 4, Game Maker Studio and more! The latest addition comes from Amazon and allows for complex visuals to create absolutely breathtaking AAA releases. The Lumberyard engine adopts an open source philosophy meaning it’s free to download, and features a comprehensive editor. Furthermore, the source code is deeply integrated with AWS and Twitch to provide unlimited possibilities. It’s important to note that the source code is fully customizable, and there’s no seat fees, subscription fees or requirements to share revenue. The only payment comes from the AWS services you choose to use.

In regards to Twitch functionality, Amazon claim the engine:

“…is integrated with Twitch so that you can build games that engage with the more than 1.7 million monthly broadcasters, and more than 100 million monthly viewers on Twitch. With Amazon Lumberyard’s Twitch ChatPlay, you can use a drag-and-drop visual scripting interface to create gameplay features in as little as minutes that let Twitch viewers use chat to directly impact the game they are watching in real-time. And, the Twitch JoinIn feature within Amazon Lumberyard helps you build games that let Twitch broadcasters to instantly invite their live audiences to join them side-by-side in the game, with a single click, while others continue to watch.”

The source code is native C++ used on over 90% of PC and console development projects. This should make the engine extremely easy to use to those with industry experience. On another note, Amazon’s Lumberyard includes an exclusive free version of Audiokinect’s advanced sound engine and authoring tool for PC games. This means you can create rich and professional soundscapes for a wide range of titles. Overall, this is a wonderful set of tools, and it’s great to see this being provided at zero cost. If you’re a professional developer, or wanting to hone your skills, it’s certainly worth a look!

Popcorn Time to be Revived in the Browser

Popcorn time has been blocked, banned and taken down over copyright issues a number of times. It seems that the popular movie streaming service just refuses to die. Despite the seizure of its popcorntime.io site by the MPAA, Popcorn Time is set to return as Popcorn Time Online. It claims to offer all of the functionality and features that made the original Popcorn Time widely used, this time, delivered directly to the browser.

This new revival of Popcorn Time will also be fully open source, explaining on their blog that it makes use of the new Torrents Time technology in order to deliver its real-time streamed movies via torrents. This means that even should the main site hosting the Popcorn Time Online service be taken down, it would be incredibly easy for anyone with the technical skill to set up a web server to deploy a fully functional version of the streaming site on their own server or PC.

Popcorn Time Online even finds space to add some new features to their service, firstly allowing true streaming of torrents that were previously incompatible thanks to Torrent Time. Other new additions include support for multiple languages, higher quality video streaming than ever before and even the ability to stream to Chromecast, Airplay, and DLNA with subtitles, right from the website.

While the original creators or Popcorn Time are hard at work on Project Butter, a Popcorn Time derived service only providing non-copyrighted content, it will be interesting to see how that unfolds compared to the new release of Popcorn Time Online. It is anyone’s guess how long this rendition of the service will remain available and whether the MPAA will truly be able to shut it down due to its open source nature. For those avid users of the original, this new service will surely be appreciated, but the legal battle surrounding such services will definitely rage on.

AMD Says DX12 And Vulkan “Serve a Need And Add Value”

The advent of low-level APIs such as DirectX 12 and Vulkan have the potential to revolutionize the way modern games scale across various hardware setups. Clearly the gains compared to DirectX 11 are still unknown until a game’s engine offers a direct comparison between the two APIs on identical hardware. Theoretically, it could be the most significant change to PC gaming in years and allow for enhanced optimization. There’s a huge debate regarding Microsoft’s DirectX 12 system and the open source Vulkan API. In a recent interview with Tom’s Hardware, AMD’s VR director, Daryl Sartain described the current state of modern APIs and how mantle contributed to the development of DirectX 12:

“I view Mantle as something – because we did a lot of contribution to the features into DX12 –  that has been spun into DX12 in so many ways. But to your question on Vulkan versus DX12, without getting into all the religious aspect, what I said yesterday [on the VR Fest panel] is that I think that both serve a need and add value. Can you make an argument that one is better than the other? You can make an argument about anything. Just bring a lawyer into the room.”

“But I do believe that, and what I most am concerned about is our ISVs, the ISV community, where they gain the greatest benefit. You know, there are some people developing on Linux, all different flavors of life – so it’s a difficult question as to which [API] should we be focused on, which one is better”.

“My opinion is that Windows as a platform, as an OS, is far better and far more evolved today than some of the previous generations, and that’s to be expected. DX12 and its integration into Windows is a great experience, is a great development environment, and has great compatibility. Does that mean that Vulkan doesn’t have a place? No. I think that answer really has to come from the development community, not from us.”

This is a fairly non-committal response but it’s too easy to see a clear advantage from either API. At least there’s a clear alternative to DirectX 12 if you want to go down the open source route. Given the success of Windows as a gaming operating system, I cannot see DirectX 12 being overtaken unless there are some very clear performance or feature benefits.

AMD Launches GPUOpen Sofware Development Package

AMD’s open source philosophy deserves a great deal of credit especially when you consider the competition utilizes proprietary features as demonstrated by NVIDIA Gameworks. During CES 2016, I had the pleasure of playing Star Wars Battlefront on AMD’s upcoming Polaris architecture. This open ideology is very impressive and showcases that AMD’s future chips are fully functional ahead of their launch. In contrast to this, details about Pascal are almost non-existent barring a few marketing photographs. Today, AMD released a huge blog post about their latest initiative entitled, GPUOpen. Here is a detailed run-down of the project in AMD’s words:

“GPUOpen is composed of two areas: Games & CGI for game graphics and content creation (which is the area I am involved with), and Professional Compute for high-performance GPU computing in professional applications.

GPUOpen is based on three principles:

The first is to provide code and documentation allowing PC developers to exert more control on the GPU. Current and upcoming GCN architectures (such as Polaris) include many features not exposed today in PC graphics APIs, and GPUOpen aims to empower developers with ways to leverage some of those features. In addition to generating quality or performance advantages such access will also enable easier porting from current-generation consoles (XBox One and PlayStation 4) to the PC platform.

The second is a commitment to open source software. The game and graphics development community is an active hub of enthusiastic individuals who believe in the value of sharing knowledge. Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games.

The third is a collaborative engagement with the developer community. GPUOpen software is hosted on public source code repositories such as GitHub as a way to enable sharing and collaboration. Engineers from different functions will also regularly write blog posts about various GPU-related topics, game technologies or industry news.”

This is fantastic news for developers and assists the optimization process through open source tools. In theory, the GPUOpen model allows developers free reign to properly understand the hardware and code in a much more efficient manner. Time will tell how popular this endeavour is, but it looks like a really good idea to build a strong relationship between developers and AMD users.

AMD Tackles Nvidia’s GameWorks with Open Source GPUOpen

While AMD’s graphics hardware has largely remained competitive with rival Nvidia, the software side of things has fallen behind for a while. A large part of this is due to Nvidia’s GameWorks software, a proprietary set of tools that helps developers implement features. While AMD cards can run GameWorks optimization is near impossible to do and AMD cards generally get crippled by it. Today, AMD is hitting back with GPUOpen, a comparable library of tools they will be open-sourcing.

With the open source GPUOpen, the permissive MIT-licence will allow developers to optimize for both AMD and Nvidia and still use only one set of tools. AMD is hoping this will mean developers will be more likely to pick GPUOpen over GameWorks and optimize more for AMD cards. AMD has included equivalents to most of GameWorks, with TressFX, ShadowFX, GeometryFX and AOFX. It will also feature a number of other tools like a rendering engine, ray-tracing SDK, cloud SDK and AMD’s CodeXL debugger and performance profiler.

The final prong is a new open-source Linux driver. Right now, the Linux driver comes in two flavours with the closed source one performing well ahead of the open-source on. Moving into the future, the AllOpen stack will have open-sourced OpenGL graphics, motion video codecs, and OpenCL GPU computation. The Professional/Gamer stack will have an open source motion video codec, but closed source OpenGL and OpenCl modules. Over time, the OpenCL module will bring in Vulkan which will then be open sourced while the OpenGL module will remain closed-source.

Combined with the earlier Boltzmann Initiative, AMD is making big strides with their software development. Combined with their new Crimson Catalyst software suite, AMD is putting forward a new face to consumers and developers. With this, AMD may be able to reinvent themselves and make others see them in a new light.

TensorFlow – Google’s New Open Source Machine Learning Tool

In recent times, companies have been scrambling to deliver the next pioneering tools in machine learning and AI. And Google is not one to be left behind in this battle, today releasing their own open source offering, TensorFlow.

Released under the Apache 2.0 license, TensorFlow aims to showcase Google’s accomplishments in the machine learning field to the masses. The bar to entry on TensorFlow is also small, able to run even on a single smartphone. Built upon a previous Google deep-learning tool, DistBelief, TensorFlow is intended to be faster and more flexible with the intention to allow it to be adapted for use in future projects and products. Changing the focus away from strictly neural networks allows TensorFlow to enjoy easier code-sharing between researchers as well as decouple the system somewhat from Google’s internal infrastructure.

Google hope that by making TensorFlow open-source, it will attract a wider array of potential users, from hobbyists to professional researchers. This enables Google and users to benefit from one-another, with exchanges of ideas and code being easy and giving opportunities for Google to grow the product using advancements found by users. Additionally, the built-in interface is based upon python, instantly making it straightforward to use for those familiar with the language and for newer users, comes bundled with examples and tutorials to help users get started.

Are you excited to get see what can be developed when a machine learning tool is made available to the masses, or are you excited to get hands on yourself? TensorFlow is available here.

D-Link Inadvertently Publishes Its Private Code-Signing Keys

Hackers are viewed within the media and by films as master genius’s who are able to hack into protected systems with the intention of stealing a vast array of information. There is some truth in this assertion considering even multinational companies have been caught napping by cyber thieves, but, what happens if I don’t know, a tech firm accidentally publishes its private signing keys? Well, D-Link has managed to do this in what is known scientifically as stupididiotness.

Taiwan-based networking equipment manufacturer D-Link has published its Private code signing keys inside the company’s open source firmware packages. This was spotted by a user by the username “bartvbl” who had bought a D-Link DCS-5020L security camera and downloaded the firmware from D-Link which open sources its firmware under the GPL license.

All seemed well for “bartvbl” until they inspected the source code, only to find four private keys which are used for code signing. To test this, the user-created a windows application which was able to be signed by one of the four keys which appeared to be valid. Not only this, the user also discovered pass-phrases which are needed to sign the software,

It is yet unclear if any of these keys were used in attacks by malicious third parties, meanwhile, D-Link has seen the light and has responded to this embarrassment by revoking the certificate in question and subsequently releasing a new version which does not contain any code signing keys, which is good.

Thank you tweakers via Google Translate for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of thehackernews.

Linux is 24-Years-Old Today!


Today marks the 24th birthday of the Linux operating system, pioneered by Linus Torvalds and provided an open-source, community-based alternative to Microsoft Windows. Linux is Unix-powered and features customizable source code under the GNU General Public License. This means you can modify the source code for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Unlike Windows, Linux is released via distributions which contain varying UIs, and levels of complexity. For instance, Ubuntu was originally built on the Gnome interface and transferred to Unity. It’s suitable for basic users, as codecs and plugins can be easily installed without terminal knowledge.

In contrast to this, Gentoo Linux minimal is created by the user from scratch using a command-line. Of course, this is only recommended for highly experienced Linux users but shows how adaptable the operating system is. In the wider picture, Linux only accounts for an estimated 1.5% market share. Why? People have grown up using Windows for so many years, and the small minority who try something else, buy an Apple device. Things could change in the near future though as Valve pushes their own gaming-centric version of Linux. Its success will greatly depend on how well Windows 10 does and if consumers can accept Microsoft’s privacy policy.

I’ve dabbled with Linux in the past and believe it’s a fantastic operating system but lacks the core programs required for media work and games. Nevertheless, happy 24th birthday Mr. Tux!

Image courtesy of CentOS Blog

Thank you Softpedia for providing us with this information.

Windows 10 DVD Player now Available for a Mere $14.99/£11.59

Microsoft decided to ship Windows 10 without an integrated DVD playback application. Why? Perhaps this was to avoid anti-competition regulations and make sure the operating system doesn’t discriminate against third-party alternatives. Whatever the reasoning, Microsoft’s bizarre pricing is astonishing and quite hard to believe. One could argue the pricing comes from licensing fees, but as a consumer, this isn’t something you should be worried about. To enable DVD playback through their fairly limited software suite, you have to pay $14.99/£11.59. Alternatively, you could download VLC for FREE which adopts an open-source model and comes packed full of features.

VLC is capable of playing videos as a Desktop background, stretching images to a host of aspect ratios and much more. In comparison, the Windows DVD Player is extremely basic and without any customizable controls. According to the App Store,

“Windows DVD Player for Windows 10 makes it easy to watch your favorite DVDs.”

 “Watch both commercial and homemade discs in the DVD-Video format.”

 “This app requires a DVD-capable optical drive.”

Not only that, the paid Windows version cannot play any kind of Blu-Ray discs and could have problems with unusual codecs. VLC is quite adaptable and able to play MKVs, MP4s, VOBs and other video types while adjusting the audio sync. It also supports .SRT and allows for multiple subtitle channels.

Honestly, I’m not sure if Microsoft themselves believes anyone will buy this. The ratings so far are rightfully abysmal and it’s quite insulting to ask so much money for such an inferior product. Additionally, if you don’t like VLC, there’s Media Player Classic, KMPlayer, BSPlayer, and lots more to choose from. If Microsoft want to be perceived as a consumer-friendly company, they need to drop arrogant PR-disasters like this.

Thank you Windows Central for providing us with this information.

Hacker Dev Kit Offers Affordable Open Source VR

The Open Source VR project is a gaming-centric programme which gives developers free rein to create games for a number of head mounted displays. Spearheaded by major companies such as Razer, the OSVR has now launched their own VR headset which comes in 3 unique variants. The Hacker Developer Kit version 1.0 is priced at $199.99 and features a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 display, Dual-Lenses Optics with 100 degree field of view, a belt box to aid cable management and layered foam facemask.

HDK version 1.1 offers enhanced clarity through an OLED display which operates at 401 PPI. Additionally, this unit opts for a bamboo charcoal microfiber foam layer on the facemask which provides additional comfort and a luxury feel.

The top end SKU, has the benefit of an IR faceplate providing positional information at 100 Hz with 360 degree tracking for responsive, multi-directional input. This is powered by an IR camera which comes with the set. As you might expect, this model is more expensive and available for pre-order at $299.99. The Open Source project revolves around user choice and offers upgrade kits for existing customers. The real value is buying a complete kit outright though as individual parts incur a hefty price.

I think it’s important to emphasize that the OSVR isn’t an Oculus competitor but a tool to help VR development and make this new form of technology more accessible for all. It’s certainly shaping up to be an interesting device and would love to see it demonstrated at various trade shows.

Which VR headset, if any is your preferred choice?

Thank You VRFocus for providing us with this information.

Google Container Engine Service now Publicly Available

Google just made some of its cloud computing software broadly available. Since there is more demand for services that let you work with applications packaged in containers, Google pushed its Container Engine from alpha into beta. Also, the Container Registry service that stores Docker container images has been made widely available.

Up until now, a lot of businesses relied on virtual machines to run a variety of applications. But times and tech are changing, so a better alternative to traditional virtual machines was bound to crop up sooner or later. This is why Google and other cloud storage providers are now interested in packaged apps running on cloud services.

The Google Container Engine is said to run on Kubernetes open-source container management software, having the ability to deploy containers on a variety of public could services. There have been a few major tweaks done since it was in alpha and now Google is only focusing on updating the Kubernetes code rather than the whole engine once new patches roll out. Also, debugging is said to be as easy as ticking a checkbox, so developers will be able to easily identify and fix issues that might occur.

In terms of pricing, Google offers its Cloud Engine for only $0.15 per hour for standard clusters with up to 100 virtual machines and managed uptime. The basic clusters will stay the same, but users will be able to have only up to 5 virtual machines and no managed uptime.

Thank you VentureBeat for providing us with this information

Apple Takes a Radical Approach with its Swift Programming Language

Apple just announced something really radical today at its Worldwide Developer Conference. We all now how strict and closed the company is with its software and hardware, but it looks like things are about to change and we might see them before the end of this year.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president, announced that the company will make their latest programming language, namely Swift, open source by the end of the year. This is quite surprising since the company enforced a strict closed box policy on their products up until now. So why the change of heart?

Nonetheless, Federighi said that the compiler code and libraries for iOS and OS X will be made available to everyone and it looks like they are planning to go even further and release the latter for Linux as well. This means that developers will be able to program in Apple’s code on all major operating systems once the code gets released.

Don’t get too excited though. A similar promise was made by Steve Jobs in the past, who said that the company would deliver the FaceTime protocol to developers so they can integrate it into other software outside Apple’s own OS’. As you can imagine, the protocol is still not available, so take the recent information with a grain of salt until you actually see Swift’s code available for download.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Business Insider

Microsoft Edge Won’t Be Open Source, at Least Not Yet

It is not a secret that Microsoft is venturing more and more into the world of open source software and about a month ago a Microsoft executive even said that a full open source windows would be a definite possibility. But Microsoft’s new browser doesn’t follow that scheme and won’t be open source, at least not yet.

Microsoft dubbed their new browser Edge and gave the Internet Explorer icon an overhaul, but neither of the two impressed users or press. Microsoft is being accused of sticking too much to the old and not daring to venture too far away from the known realms. Previously, the industry speculated that Microsoft could base their browser on the same open-source WebKit engine that Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome browsers are built on, but we’ve now learned that this won’t be the case.

“At this time, we don’t plan to open-source Microsoft Edge or its platform components,” Microsoft declared in a statement. “We understand and value the importance about being more open with our roadmap and our core technologies. To that end, we’ve launched Microsoft Edge Platform Status for communicating our roadmap”

So while Microsoft has opened up over 1000 projects on GitHub, neither Windows nor their new Edge browser will be among them for some time. Nothing is ruled out for the future and Microsoft said that one of the first discussion they have about every product is whether to go open source or not. So it is a big a concern to them, they just haven’t found the golden middle way between the two worlds yet.

The Code Used for Google’s Santa Claus Tracking App has been Made Open-Source

Though the spirit of Christmas has passed, Google brings it back with an open-source announcement of its Santa Tracker app code. For those unaware, the Santa Tracker is an online fictional progress of Santa’s journey throughout the world in real-time during the Christmas festivities.

The code is now available on GitHub for anyone who wants to implement it on whatever they desire. Developers can download the web version from here, while the Android version can be downloaded from here.

The general idea of tracking Father Christmas may seem a bit of pointless unless you are making an app for kids, but the code does contain some pretty nice libraries and samples that can be adapted and used in various other applications.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this 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

Solderdoodle, a USB Rechargeable Wireless Soldering Iron

It seems I have to crack out my dusty old soldering iron less and less these days, but the one thing that really bugs me about having to use it is that it has to be plugged in; I have to create a work space and move what ever I am doing to a suitable area to use the soldering iron.

The Solderdoodle looks set to solve this problem by offering up a simple, open source device that can be part-made from a 3D printer, is USB rechargeable, doesn’t require mains power and can be easily transported for use on the go. The 18.8cm device runs from a USB rechargeable lithium Ion battery which can charge from a standard USB port on a laptop, desktop computer, mains adapter or similar device that have a USB 2.0 Type A connection. It takes three hours to charge and is said to last “hours” on a single charge.

Personally I think the best part is that it uses a standard soldering tip, so you can go down to your local hardware store and pick up replacement tips, no need for propitiatory hardware! The only downside is that it’ll only reach 500f (260c), which means it can’t handle non-leaded solder, but for something this portable I don’t really care, as it looks idea for those little electronic patch jobs that were just impractical with a wired soldering iron.

Thank you Instructables for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Instructables.

Oculus Acquire RakNet, Immediately Make It Open Source

Oculus VR have just announced that they’ve acquired RakNet, one of the leading networking middleware systems in the games industry. Not only have Oculus snapped up one of the most important middleware companies in gaming, but they’ve now also open sourced the software the company creates under a modified BSD license on the Oculus GitHub.

RakNet offers a game networking engine that offers support for cross-platform gaming, multiple network types and more and it’s already been licensed by thousands of indie devs, as well as bigger companies like Unity, Havok, Mojan, Maxis, Sony Online and more.

“RakNet is a cross-platform C++ and C# game networking engine. It is designed to be a high performance, easy to integrate, and complete solution for games and other applications.” – reads the official website

Oculus have been working with RakNet for a while now, but the recent acquisition will no doubt benefit the wider Oculus development community by giving them access to the software, allowing more devs to get their games better connected.

Thank you Oculus for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Oculus.

Linux Heading to Open Source Cars, Releasing Automotive Grande Linux Distribution

Open source operating system Linux has apparently shifter its focus towards a new sphere, leaving the real of desktops, notebooks, and even smartphones, having targeting the automobile market. A new Linux distribution by the name of Automotive Grande Linux has reportedly been released this week, being dedicated towards cars in an attempt to bring a new open source solution to the technologically advanced era we live in.

It is said that AGL, in collaboration with and sponsored by the Linux Foundation, brings together a host of partners from the automotive industry, communications, computing hardware, academia, as well as other sectors. The first release has been stated to have launched on June the 30th, having to bring a solution for a wide range of products, from cars, to laptops, TVs and even smartphones. The distribution is said to be based on Tizen IVI and is available for free here.

The first AGL release is said to have support for a limited series of features, specifically designed for deployment in cars and other vehicles. The features consist of Home Screens, Dashboards, Google Maps, HVACs, Media Playback, News Readers in the shape of an app carousel, Audio Controls, Bluetooth Phone support and even Smart Device Link Integration. Participants in the AGL project and the Linux Foundation hope that this initiative will help future ‘connected’ cars run on open source software in order to deliver the next generation of entertainment, navigation and other similar tools for use inside vehicles.

“Openness and collaboration are key to accelerating the development of a common, standard automotive platform so the industry can more quickly achieve its vision of delivering the connected car,” said Dan Cauchy, General Manager of Automotive, The Linux Foundation.

The GM also added that the Linux Foundation expects AGL development to continue steadily after its first release, having to introduce “a number of additional capabilities and features in subsequent releases.”

Thank you The Var Guy for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Linux Foundation