The biggest news from Day 1 and 2

Build 2016: the biggest news from Day 1 and 2

Yesterday, Microsoft showed off what it’s been cooking up for Windows, Xbox One and even HoloLens at its annual developer conference, Build 2016, in the first of two major keynotes.

While the conference is largely aimed at the folks that make the apps you use every day, Microsoft is broadcasted the conference’s two major keynotes straight from the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif., so that fans (and devs who couldn’t make it) can see what’s next for Microsoft as it happened.

Watching the keynotes is almost painfully easy. Just head to Microsoft’s newfangled Build 2016 page, scroll down a bit and press that play button. You can even watch the two keynotes on demand from this page.

Kevin Hart

What happened on Day 2?

The second day of Build is typically very developer focused and following that tradition, Microsoft opened the floodgates to some very heady stuff, but interesting stuff. Here are the biggest announcements that matter to you from Day two of Microsoft’s Build 2016 conference.

The Azure cloud gets bigger

Microsoft cloud network named Azure has officially gone hyperscale with datacenters in 30 different regions. One of the latest data centers is being build on the east coast of the United States and it measures more than a mile long.

While these data centers mainly support businesses and enterprise solutions, Microsoft also uses its cloud computing network to power games like Crackdown 3 the brains behind Windows 10’s Cortana.

iOS apps on Windows 10

Free cross-platform app development tools

Microsoft is making good use of its recent Xamarin acquisition and now the software maker has just made its cross-platform app development tools available for all Visual Studio users. Beyond helping developers make more apps for every Windows user, the Xamarin tools also includes an Android and iOS simulator.

The idea is Microsoft wants more developers to start creating more mobile apps using the cross-platform program on Windows 10 in the hopes of more software being developed for the Windows platform.

BWM Connected-drive

BMW ups its app game

BMW also took to the stage to announce its new connected drive app, which takes learnings from virtual assistants including Siri, Cortana and Google Now.

The new BMW Connected app for the iPhone is powered by Microsoft’s Azure platform and it’s the company’s take on a always-on assistant – sort of like Kitt from Knight Rider. However, instead of giving tactical information with a snooty attitude, the BMW connected app manages your appointments and notifies you when you should leave, how the traffic looks and ways to avoid it.
Office 365

Office users around the world

Microsoft announced there are 1.2 billion Office users worldwide and 60 million commercial users of Office 365. It’s a sharp uptick from years past and now there’s a new feature to send custom electronic gift cards. Microsoft demonstrated sending a Starbucks inside of a document. It’s the perfect blend of collaboration and coffee in a single meeting.


Hololens brings catalogs to real-life

Last but not least, Microsoft unveiled another use of Hololens’ augmented reality headset to make a product coming to life. We’ve all browsed through a catalog of circular in our lifetime and doing it with the Hololens can bring the product out of the page and into real life.

The Redmond-based company demonstrated this by rendering a front loader from a picture of the Caterpillar product catalog. The construction vehicle rose out of the page and became a full-sized 3D model complete with sound effects and animation.

While everyone might not be interested in construction equipment, there are plenty of way it could be used for more practical uses. For example, Hololens might be able to help you see if that new couch you’ve been eyeing will fit in your living room or how big a large-screen television will look from where you usually sit.

build 2016

What happened on Day 1?

While there were a ton of interesting, exciting news that came out of the first Build keynote, a hefty chunk of it spoke directly to developers, not the average Joe (teehee). So, here’s what happened during Microsoft’s Build 2016 Day One keynote that matters to you.

The Anniversary Update

Also known as “Redstone” (though, Microsoft hasn’t confirmed that), this major update is slated to launch later this summer – hence the name – for not only Windows 10, but for Xbox One as well. The update brings a slew of new changes specific to certain devices.

For one, Windows Ink will provide existing apps enhanced controls and optimization when using a stylus, ideally Microsoft’s Surface Pen. On stage, enhanced Sticky Notes will recognize handwriting and offer contextual solutions, like creating a calendar event if a word like “tomorrow” is written.

Cortana will see major upgrades as well, such as contextual, automated functions based on what you’re currently doing within an app. Not to mention that the Anniversary Update will introduce her to Xbox One.

build 2016

Xbox One goes Dev Mode

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer took the stage to talk up Xbox One Dev Mode, promised way back at the 2013 launch of the console and landing as part of the Anniversary Update.

This new mode allows any old, retail Xbox One unit to transform into a developer kit with the press of a button. While most of us lay folk won’t even bother with this feature, that’s not the point.

What this does is allows any developer out there to begin creating apps and even games for Xbox One without having to bug Microsoft for a developer kit. On top of this, Nickelodeon, Dailymotion, NASCAR and Hulu LLC announced plans to bring Windows 10 Universal Windows apps to Xbox One later this year.

build 2016

HoloLens ships to devs, starts to revamp medicine

We already knew that HoloLens would ship to developers starting March 30, but Wednesday’s on-stage confirmation and heartfelt exchange between co-creators Alex Kipman and Kudo Tsunoda sealed the deal.

The developer kit box was shown off on stage as well, but more important was the demonstration put on by a group of Case Western University doctors. It showed off how 3D rendering and remote participation can enhance the learning experience for would-be doctors and nurses.

build 2016

Bots, bots, bots

Despite the Tay debacle, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella carried on with evangelizing the firm’s mission to bring Bots – or intelligent agents that live within other apps and services – to the forefront of computing.

So much so, in fact, that Microsoft issued a Bot Framework for developers to easily create, manage and deploy said bots to various Windows apps. Furthermore, the company took it one step further with its Cognitive Services suite of tools that can further enhance bots with machine learning capabilities that Microsoft has developed over the years.

build 2016

Skype already feels the bot craze

Speaking of which, Microsoft issued a series of bots (and support for third-party bots) to Skype that you can play around with right now. They include live audio/video to text translation, support for bots to communicate with you directly that Cortana can immediately handle and more.

Microsoft also teased that Skype is coming to HoloLens, with gesture drawing support and Cortana’s machine intelligence built in.

Stay tuned to this space through Build 2016 for the latest from Microsoft.

Porn and virtual reality: a changing industry

Porn and virtual reality: a changing industry

“The lack of eye contact makes [the performer] appear distant for a sexual encounter – but there is also something sexy about that,” says male porn performer Xander Corvus, “in the way a glory hole is sexy.”

Virtual reality is changing pornography. It’s changing the way we watch it, and the way it’s made.

Porn has always been a driver for technology. From Blu-Ray to VHS, Super 8 projectors to pay-per-view cable, porn has often been as a surefire way of taking new technology into the mainstream.

In 2016, pornography is at another one of those moments. Profits are dwindling thanks to readily available free content across the web. Larger production companies are scrambling for the next big thing, and many have grasped onto it in virtual reality.

With the launch of the Oculus Rift and the advent of affordable headsets like the Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard and countless others, VR is readily available for the masses, while the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR will be in homes by the end of the year.

It’s pretty obvious, then, how we’ll be watching VR porn – but how is it changing the experience for the people involved in making it?

“I’m always bummed out when I look at my call sheet and I see [regular] point-of-view,” says Corvus. “I’m all for VR. If anything it’s relaxing, like a porno spa day for me. I much prefer virtual reality. Traditional POV shoots are annoying, because it’s even more of a tease and annoyance for me.

“I mean, I get to be more hands on, but I have to think about so much more, like not bumping the camera man who is breathing down my neck.”

The experience of performing within virtual reality can be entirely different to filming traditional 2D video, perhaps even distracting.

VR Bangers

“It’s harder shooting VR,” says Daniel Abramovich, co-founder and CEO of VR Bangers.

“For the male actor that is behind the camera, they’re used to being free and doing whatever they need to do in the movie. Here they basically just stand and can’t move to do anything to move the camera.”

“It’s really hard for them to shoot. It’s completely different, as they can’t move at all.”

That might be so, but VR is also bringing performers closer to their viewers. Charlie Heart, who performs live VR shows for webcam site CamSoda, says she jumps at the chance to do anything with virtual reality. Heart isn’t using point-of-view, but uses the VR camera to create a more intimate setting.

“I love the interactive part of it,” she says. “With 2D I don’t have to worry about my angles as much – I don’t have to suck it in,” she jokes. “But I love the idea that with VR, it’s like [users] are sitting in a chair in front of me. If I’m doing a little striptease, there’s satisfaction like they’re there with me.”

VRTube also uses virtual reality cameras in a similar way to intensify the immersion. “When you’re immersed in VR, it takes over everything,” says Ela Darling, Co-Founder of VRTube and a VR performer.

Ela Darling

“I feel like I’m connecting on a deeper level with the users. The actual stuff I do is pretty much the same, but in terms of the rapport that I’m building, I feel that’s accelerated. It’s fantastic.

“I know from their perspective they’re in this headset and they’re surrounded by my bedroom. It’s a 360-degree 3D capture, so they see my bedroom – they’re in my actual home.”

The process of filming VR content is much the same for Darling as a performer. She stars in 3D camera-shot videos from her own room, unlike most porn stars. For Darling, VR pornography has meant she can offer something different to the larger porn companies that usually keep a tight hold on the industry.

She helped to co-found in 2014, and beat many of the other big providers to virtual reality tech. “It’s my company and I’m kind of the pioneer of VR porn, so this has been incredibly empowering for me,” she says.

Larger companies are focusing on virtual reality content filmed from a first-person perspective, but understand that it can be an entirely different experience for the performers.

Naughty America, an adult film provider which started in 2001, is perhaps the most prolific VR porn provider right now.

CIO Ian Paul explained that while its actors are seasoned professionals, virtual reality has meant teaching them about depth. “Depth is something that’s really apparent in VR videos. Once we taught that to them, we just said to them treat this like a standard POV shoot.”

Microsoft Store’s Pi Day discount offers 31.4% off the best Ultrabook in the world

xps 13 beauty

If you need any more proof that the geeks are taking over the world, look no further than Pi Day, a.k.a. March 14. (3.14, get it?) Pi day used to be made up “holiday” revolving around an amusing numerical coincidence your algebra teacher would talk about. Now, it’s marketing. Luckily for you, the Microsoft Store is celebrating this year with a fantastic deal, and it deliberately misplaced the decimal to boot.

On Monday, the Microsoft Store is selling our favorite Ultrabook, the Dell XPS 13 2016 edition, at a 31.4 percent discount. Instead of paying $999 for the base model, you can pick it up today for $685.31 (here’s the store link). It also comes as a Microsoft Signature Edition PC, meaning there’s minimal bloatware on it—not including the junk that Microsoft bundles itself with Windows 10, of course.

The Ultrabook features a 13.3-inch non-touch 1080p display, a 2.3GHz Intel “Skylake” Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, a 3-in-1 card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 connection (Type-C with Thunderbolt support), and 64-bit Windows 10 Home. The device weighs a scant 2.86 pounds and comes in silver.


The Pi Day discount only applies to the base model; however, Microsoft is offering $200 off on the higher-grade options that include better processors, touchscreens, and more onboard SSD storage.

If the XPS 13 isn’t for you, Microsoft is also offering the 31.4 percent discount on a Dell Inspiron 13 2-in-1 and a Dell Inspiron 15. Both are Signature Edition laptops as well.

The Microsoft Store’s also conducting a Raspberry Pi promotion where you get a free Pi 2 power supply when you buy a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B bundled with an 8GB microSD card. Keep in mind this is not the latest Raspberry Pi model featuring integrated Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Microsoft’s Pi Day deals are only valid for Monday. If you need a new Ultrabook, then today is your best chance for some solid savings on a killer laptop.

Want a Chrome tablet? CTL’s new $250 Chromebook features a flip screen

CTL's J5 Rugged Convertible Chromebook

CTL’s new J5 Rugged Convertible Chromebook offers versatility: It can be used as a laptop or a tablet, and pricing starts at just $249.

The device has an 11.6-inch touchscreen that can rotate to turn into a Chrome OS tablet. It is designed similar to Lenovo’s popular Yoga hybrids.

At the entry-level $249 price, the Chromebook doesn’t boast premium features. The screen displays images at a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution, in line with other low-cost Chromebooks.

The J5 Rugged Convertible Chromebook runs on an Intel Celeron N3050 architecture based on the Braswell chip design. It has 16GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, two USB ports, an HDMI slot, a webcam and a Micro-SD slot for additional storage.

The Chromebook’s battery life is about 10 hours, according to the company.

It is now available for pre-order on the company’s Web site. CTL didn’t provide a shipping date, and the company did not respond to requests for information on availability.

Chromebooks are aimed at people who do most of their computing on the Internet. They run Google’s Chrome OS, and touchscreen support was added to the OS last year.

Google has promoted Chromebooks as a low-cost replacement to Windows PCs, especially with more people using Web-based applications. Chromebook shipments are growing, especially in the education market, and CTL is releasing its laptop in time for the back-to-school shopping season.

The CTL Chromebook has competition from similar models with touchscreens that can flip around to turn the device into a tablet. But there are configuration differences.

Asus’ Chromebook Flip is priced at $239 on, and runs on an ARM-based processor from RockChip, considered slower than Intel chips for Chromebooks.

Acer’s entry-level Chromebook R11 is priced starting at $276 on Amazon, but has 32GB of storage. Lenovo’s $180 100S Chromebook has a touchscreen, but it can’t be used in tablet mode.

Acer’s aluminum Chromebook 14 blends high-end features with a budget-friendly price

acer chromebook 14 cb3 431 left facing

Hello, beautiful. Acer revealed its first-ever 14-inch Chromebook—the aptly named Chromebook 14—on Tuesday and it sure seems like it was worth the wait (at least on paper). The Google-licious laptop only costs $300, but offers premium touches missing from the majority of the plastic-clad Chromebook army, like an aluminum chassis, USB 3.1 ports, a trim sub-four lb. weight, and a whopping 14-hour battery life claim.

That luxuriousness extends to the display. The Chromebook 14 comes in two main versions with either a 1080p or 1366-by-768 resolution IPS display. The 1080p models feature a punier 12-hour battery-life claim, but on the other hand, 1080p IPS displays are a relative rarity among Chromebooks. Processor-wise, the Chromebook 14 comes with either a quad- or dual-core Celeron processor. Acer didn’t specify what the quad-core version would be, but the dual-core is the 1.6GHz Celeron N3060.

acer chromebook 14 cb3 431 straight on google wp

The Chromebook 14 also comes with two USB 3.1 ports (Type A), HDMI out, a 720p webcam, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 16GB or 32GB onboard eMMC storage, and either 2GB or 4GB of RAM.

Acer has yet to specify an exact ship date for all the Chromebook 14 models. In April, Best Buy will start carrying what Acer calls the “premiere model” priced at $300. This version features 32GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, a 1080p display, and a dual-core processor. If Best Buy isn’t your thing, the model is also available right now for pre-order on Amazon.

The impact on you at home: Acer’s new Chromebook isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s a great addition to the mid-range of the Chromebook world—especially for business users.Dell’s Chromebook 13 released in 2015 and was a solid choice for business users since it offered solid design and a mix of price ranges and features. But Dell’s Chromebook suffers from an almost ThinkPad-like bookishness in its design, while Acer’s laptop has style inspired by laptops like the Chromebook Pixel and Apple’s MacBook line. It’s also got a nice price at $300 for the “premiere model,” stuffed with almost everything you’d want in a top model Chromebook without going overboard. 

Microsoft’s HoloLens Shipping to Devs Now

Microsoft has announced HoloLens, its augmented reality headset, is shipping to Windows developers and enterprise partners from today, March 30. The announcement was made at Microsoft’s Build event, where HoloLens co-creator Kudo Tsunoda appeared on stage to mark the occasion.

A number of companies including Volkswagen, Nasa, Airbus, Audi, and Trimble were revealed to be key supporters of the headset. The first application that will be available is Galaxy Explore, which, as the name implies, allows users to interact with a virtual representation of the galaxy. The source code for Galaxy Explore will also be given to developers to tinker with.

Although HoloLens’ gaming applications have been shown in the past, Microsoft used the event to showcase some of the device’s other uses. Specifically how medical students can use it to learn about the body, or teachers can use it to conduct class sessions using a virtual representation of themselves.

NASA, meanwhile, detailed applications that were designed to help engineers and showed Destination Mars, which features famous astronaut Buzz Aldrin taking users on a tour of the red planet.

In February, Microsoft detailed the hardware specifications for HoloLens. It also highlighted that HoloLens is “fully untethered and self-contained,” which means a PC or console is not required to use it. It also has Windows 10 built into it and can access the application store.

Microsoft previously opened pre-orders for the HoloLens development kit, priced at $3,000. Additionally, a game featuring a young version of Rare’s Conker character has been revealed with a trailer.

During the event, Xbox boss Phil Spencer also made an appearance to announce Xbox One will be getting new features as part of the upcoming Anniversary update to Windows 10. Among these are support for Cortana, the Siri-like virtual assistant, and the ability to play background music on the console. Spencer said more features for the Xbox One would be announced at E3 2016.

Watch a Flying Jet Ski Take Out $3,000 Worth of Camera Drone


During New Zealand’s recent Festival of Freeride, filmmaker Guy Mac was in the right place, at the perfect time, to catch this PWC rider’s spectacular launch off a wave that put him on a mid-air collision course with a flying dji Inspire drone.

Needless to say, the rider survived, but the $3,000 drone did not. Hopefully the footage it recorded during those last few functional moments before the crash is recoverable, though.

A Radical New Design Makes This Bizarre-Looking Watch a More Accurate Timekeeper


As Android Wear devices and the Apple Watch nibble away at the luxury watch market, Switzerland is fighting back with unorthodox new designs, like Dominique Renaud’s new DR01 Twelve First, that manages to improve its traditional functionality while still looking completely bizarre.

A Radical New Design Makes This Bizarre-Looking Watch a More Accurate Timekeeper

Designed by famed horologist Dominique Renaud who actually left retirement to bring the DR01 Twelve First to life, the timepiece features a new type of movement he’s called an “experimental rotary escapement” that sees the entire mechanism rotating inside a sapphire crystal cylinder.

The video specifying how the movement works is a little confusing, so you’ll want to head on over to aBlogtoWatch for a more authoritative explanation on why the new movement isn’t just about looking neat. But in layman’s terms, the new movement helps reduce friction with its most critical moving parts, which in turns means the watch is far more accurate at keeping time.

A Radical New Design Makes This Bizarre-Looking Watch a More Accurate Timekeeper

But if you thought even the smallest Apple Watch was outrageously priced, the DR01 Twelve First is astronomically out of your price range. Only 12 will be produced at a cost of 1,000,000 Swiss Francs each-or just north of $997,000. If you can afford to blow a million bucks on a watch, you probably don’t care if you’re a few seconds late to a meeting.

A Radical New Design Makes This Bizarre-Looking Watch a More Accurate Timekeeper

Chicago Man Charged with Felony for Jamming Cell Phones on a Train


People squawking on their phones on public transportation is annoying as hell. That’s why one Chicago man allegedly took it upon himself to jam fellow commuters’ cell phone signals as part of a morning ritual that lasted months. Now he’s a charged felon in jail, being held for a $10,000 bail.

Dennis Nicholl, 63, is accused of jamming mobile phone signals aboard the Red Line train in Chicago-a habit that one fellow Red Line commuter claims has been happening since 2014. It’s because people talking on trains annoy Nicholl, his lawyer says.

Nicholl had allegedly operated an object that the Chicago Sun-Times describes as “an object that had five antennas” and that was “shipped from overseas.” Nicholls knew the gizmo was illegal. Police say passengers had been complaining about cell phone service on the train for months (Nicholl takes the Red Line to work everyday), and that one concerned passenger had even dialed 911. That’s when the cops got involved.

Cops started working with the Chicago Transit Authority and the Federal Communications Commission, the Chicago Tribune reports, working off a tip they received months ago, as well as a submitted photo of Nicholl holding the black electronic jammer.

After setting up plainclothes surveillance on the train, an undercover officer on Tuesday recognized Nicholl from his photo and sat near him. The cop used a personal cell phone to try to make a call, and it was immediately dropped. That’s when Nicholl was arrested.

Today, Nicholl appeared in court, where the judge called him “the cell phone police.” He is being charged with a felony: one count of “count of unlawful interference with a public utility,” the Sun-Times reports.

Apparently, Nicholl pulled a similar stunt back in 2009, but was only charged for a misdemeanor that time, and that jammer was confiscated and destroyed.People are debating whether he’s a hero or a villain. I’d be pissed if my phone ever got jammed-but hey, if something keeps other people from chattering obnoxiously or texting-and-walking , I guess I wouldn’t complain.

Xerox Photocopiers Can Now Translate Whatever You’re Copying


Thanks to the paperless office that will never arrive, you can still find photocopiers in almost any corporate setting. They’re a necessary hassle, but Xerox is making its machines slightly less of a burden to have around with new functionality that automatically translates a document as it’s being copied.

Xerox’s Easy Translator Service isn’t free, though. Whether you’re using it through a photocopier, an iOS or Android app, or through its website, the first 30 translations are complimentary, but after that it costs $10 for every 100 pages of machine translation. If you’d rather buy in bulk, Xerox will charge $5,000 for 100,000 pages.

For more accurate results, there’s also the option to have an actual human translate your documents, but that starts at 10 cents per word and will get very expensive, very quickly.