An actual gaming Easter egg was unlocked on an Atari Jaguar cartridge today

The term “Easter egg” has long been used to describe hidden goodies inside of software and video games, but it’s not often that game companies use the designated Easter holiday to actually announce the things. That changed on Sunday with an out-of-nowhere announcement from AtariAge, a modern-day retro publisher known for releasing games for Atari systems like the 2600 and the Jaguar.

AtariAge released the Jeff Minter Classics collection last year, which was billed as two ’80s Minter games combined on a single Jaguar cartridge. (Minter, for the uninitiated, is the founder of bizarre ’80s game studio Llamasoft and continues making stunning games like Tempest 2000, TxK, and Polybius to this day.) Sunday’s news confirmed that AtariAge’s sales pitch was a mistruth; three Minter classics shipped on the cart, and its owners can now access the third game, a refresh of 1982’s Gridrunner, by entering the code “modern day wizardry” into the cart’s password screen. Do this once, and the retro-looking bullet-hell game will permanently unlock on your cartridge via the main menu.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Garth’s Team of the Week: De Gea, Vertonghen, Silva, Alli & Mane among picks

Which player has hands of bronze? And who as hot as mustard? Find out in Garth Crooks’ team of the week and pick your own selection.

Coal, nuclear plant operator files for bankruptcy, asks Trump for a bailout

On Saturday, power corporation FirstEnergy placed its coal and nuclear generation units under chapter 11 bankruptcy. Although coal and nuclear plants across the country have struggled to compete with the low prices of natural gas, FirstEnergy’s filing is unique because it stands to take on a political dimension. Just two days before FirstEnergy’s bankruptcy filing, the company petitioned the Department of Energy (DOE) for an emergency bailout, citing concerns about reliability.

The petition could reinvigorate a debate started by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who proposed a rule last year to change how coal and nuclear plants are compensated for their power. The rule was denied by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which said that there was not enough evidence to justify changing how coal and nuclear are compensated.

FirstEnergy disparaged FERC’s decision in its Thursday petition (PDF), claiming that “as a result of FERC’s and the RTO’s [Regional Transmission Organization’s] failure to address this crisis, swift and decisive action is needed now to address this imminent loss of nuclear and coal-fired baseload generation and the threat to the electric grid that this loss poses” (emphasis FirstEnergy’s).

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Canadian Telecoms Won’t Commit To Any Dates For 5G Networks

TORONTO — U.S. wireless providers are trumpeting the virtues of their soon-to-be-unveiled 5G networks, but in Canada, the Big Three telecoms are sitting back and staying mum.

Many experts believe it’ll take years for a full rollout of the next-generation wireless technology, which promises to deliver blistering fast download speeds — some say up to 200 times faster than today’s LTE networks — and negligible lag times that will empower driverless car technology, remote-controlled surgeries and other yet-to-be-invented ideas.

U.S. telecom competitors are battling for the bragging rights of hitting the market first — even though there’s still no indication that 5G-compatible smartphones will be available before 2019.

Verizon says it will have 5G-powered residential internet access in three to five markets by the end of the year. AT&T says it will have mobile 5G networks running this year in a dozen cities. AT&T says the first wave of its 5G rollout will instead involve connecting to hotspot devices. Sprint and T-Mobile are targeting 2019 for their official 5G launches.

No firm commitments

Meanwhile, Bell, Rogers and Telus have not made any firm commitments on when they’ll deliver 5G to customers.

Telus has perhaps been the most specific by stating in a press release last year that “5G wireless technology is expected to become commercially available beginning in 2020.”

Nauby Jacob, Bell’s vice-president of products and services, says the company isn’t ready to talk specifics but is “working towards a not-too-distant future.”

“5G is going to be here before you know it,” Jacob said. “If you think through the transition from 3G to 4G, that happened within about a five-year window. We expect with 5G when that transition happens it’ll probably happen at a faster rate. I’ve been quite surprised by how quickly things are moving.

“Having said that, it’s not here today.”

Public hints about 5G tests

Eric Smith, vice-president of regulatory affairs for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association industry group, says he’s not surprised that the Canadian companies are coy about their 5G plans.

“Everybody, I think, is involved in the race, some want to get their name out there as being seen to be the leaders — but I see a lot of that more in the U.S. than in Canada,” Smith says.

All three have hinted publicly about their 5G trials and tests that will lead to a launch.

Rogers is using the Rogers Centre, home to the Toronto Blue Jays, as a 5G test laboratory to assess how networks can manage thousands of simultaneous connections. It’s also a trial of how it works in a challenging environment for wireless signals, given the stadium’s concrete structure.

Telus has a test site in Vancouver where it has been conducting 5G research since 2015 and some lucky employees have been running trials of the technology in their homes through a partnership with Chinese company Huawei, which has also been working with Bell. The partnerships involve using 5G technology for residential internet connections, which could help provide better service for underserved rural areas.

Bell’s “wireless to the home” project has been officially launched in two Ontario towns with LTE technology but will be upgradable to 5G in the future. The project is being rolled out to 20 other Ontario and Quebec communities this year.

What people need to understand is it’s not like there’s going to be a switch flipped and 5G will be everywhere and 4G will disappear.Eric Smith

That sounds great to Mark Pavlidis, who experiences something of a time warp when he makes the two-hour drive east from his Toronto home to the picturesque Prince Edward County region, where he’s visited for years.

It’s almost like a trip back to the dial-up age, the mobile software developer says.

“On any given day it’ll go down at least a couple of times, usually only for a few minutes or so, but it’s not a reliable, steady connection,” Pavlidis says.

While technically he is supposed to get download speeds of up to five megabits per second it’s often less, meaning he can barely stream Netflix, if at all.

“I work out there when I can but the problem I have — in my line of work as an app developer — is you typically need a good fast internet connection and out there it’s frequently going in and out of connectivity,” he says.

Gradual switch

Smith cautions that while Canadians should get excited about the possibilities of 5G, they should be realistic about when they’ll get access to it.

“What people need to understand is it’s not like there’s going to be a switch flipped and 5G will be everywhere and 4G will disappear,” says Smith.

“We still have some internet-of-things devices that are using 2G technology, so it’s going to come on gradually, it’s going to come on for different use cases. Just as with our previous generations of wireless, it’s going to take a lot of investment. So while there’s a race to 5G, there also needs to be business discipline brought to it.

“We’ve got a long horizon.”

Miami Open: John Isner beats Alexander Zverev to win first Masters 1,000 title

American John Isner wins his first Masters 1,000 title with a 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 victory over German Alexander Zverev in the Miami Open final.

Cloudflare’s new ‘privacy-focused’ DNS service speeds up your web browsing

Cloudflare decided to use April Fool’s Day (4/1) to share some news about four 1’s that could help speed your internet browsing. The company announced today that it’s launching a DNS service for consumers called 1.1.1.1

The company’s tool — which is not some super nerdy April Fool’s joke — will allow users to shorten load times of web pages and keep some data away from network providers. Cloudfare boasts it will be “the Internet’s fastest, privacy-first consumer DNS service.”

In layman’s terms, by punching the number 1 four times into their DNS network info, consumers can hand over the reigns over to Cloudflare to connect a URL that they type into the tool bar — say, techcrunch.com — with that site’s IP address, a process that’s done by making requests to the Domain Name System (DNS). If you go to 1.1.1.1, you’ll get some info on how to enable this on the device that you’re on.

It’s completely separate from the startup’s authoritative DNS service for its customers but it does take advantage of Cloudflare’s existing network to provide the fastest speeds possible to users, shaving off milliseconds from other service like Google’s Public DNS Service.

It’s important to note that this DNS service isn’t some magical catch-all, you’re still much better off operating a VPN if you don’t want any of your web activity being exposed. One of the main use cases that the company seems to be tackling here is how governments have used DNS to get network providers to censor citizens access to the web.

“[I]t’s been depressing to us to watch all too frequently how DNS can be used as a tool of censorship against many of the groups we protect. While we’re good at stopping cyber attacks, if a consumer’s DNS gets blocked there’s been nothing we could do to help,” Prince said in blog post.

The company says that the new service will help keep some data out of ISPs’ hands and that they won’t keep data in their hands for long either. Cloudflare has pledged to both never write users’ IP addresses to disk and that they’ll purge all logs from their system after 24 hours. CEO Matthew Prince doesn’t want you taking their word for it though, he detailed in a blog that the company has paid for an independent audit firm to take a look at their code annually and ensure that they’ve been doing this.

Cloudflare has always seemed to prioritize securing a healthy future for the internet, that’s led it into some tough predicaments with like Nazis and stuff, with this latest launch it seems that the company is trying to enact some positive changes for promoting privacy and speed on the consumer side.