Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 29, 2014

Back up your PC’s files for free with these 3 tools;  5 important things to know about security in Android 5.0;  14 Vine Video-Shooting Tricks You Must Know;  12 ways to use your older iPad;  Drivebot dongle monitors your car’s health;  HP’s $200 Windows 8.1 Stream laptop now on sale;  Top Android apps of the month, October 2014;  iHealth Edge fitness tracker arrives in the US;  Google Fit now available via the Play Store;  Wireless carriers are rolling out a horrible new way to track you;  Tracking and the law;  California reports huge jump in data breaches;  Survey shows what Americans fear most;  Taylor Swift’s new ‘1989’ album is just $0.99 with Microsoft’s Music Deals app;  Walmart starts selling used video games;  FTC sues AT&T over ‘deceptive’ throttling;  OpenVPN (free);  Tweak-SSD (free);  Proposed FCC rule change blurs Internet/Cable TV lines.

Back up your PC’s files for free with these 3 tools – Been meaning to back-up your PC, but not sure where to start? Here are three tools that can get you started.

5 important things to know about security in Android 5.0 – Fun features aside, Google’s Android 5.0 Lollipop release introduces some important improvements to security — some of which have yet to be publicized.

Google Now Lets You Make Free One Minute International Calls – Need to make an international phone call, but don’t want to deal with the mystery connection fees and huge minute-by-minute charges? Google has just quietly launched a rather nifty new feature: free international calling to 25 different countries through Hangouts/Gmail/Google+. The catch, if you want to call it that: only the first 60 seconds are free.

14 Vine Video-Shooting Tricks You Must Know – You can now get official Vine apps on iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and they’re all free, as is the service. With its latest update, the Vine app does more than ever—and that’s why we’re here. To show you the coolest new features, and well-hidden old ones, to make your Vine video shoots a breeze.

Have a Surface Pro 3? There’s new firmware to download – Microsoft has released new firmware for the Surface Pro 3 today that addresses several issues including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth drive updates, and an issue with the Pro 3 dock sleep state transition.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

12 ways to use your older iPad – Apple’s new iPads are faster, slimmer and lighter than the last generation and it’s possible millions of iPad 2 owners will make like iPhone users and choose to upgrade to one of the new models — so what can you do with your old Apple tablet? Here are 12 suggestions:

Hands-on with the Fuhu Nabi Big Tab HD 24, a tablet for kids that parents can control – The BigTab HD 24 elicited an awed “Whoa” from my six-year-old son, who quickly volunteered to help “test” it. We both came away impressed: he with the variety of apps, including the ability for me to load his favorites on the tablet, and me with the ability to create a virtual playspace to keep him entertained. We both agreed, though, that the BigTab probably favors boys over girls, however, and that we didn’t think the BigTab was appropriate for his two-year-old brother, because of the size. At $549, the BigTab HD 24 is priced slightly more than an entry-level Apple iPad Air 2 (the 16GB model costs $499), which would be more the little one’s speed.

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iHealth Edge fitness tracker arrives in the US – iHealth Lab’s Edge health tracker has officially launched in the United States, bringing yet another activity-centric wearable to a market that doesn’t yet have enough of them. The wearable features a design similar to a smartwatch, though it can also be worn as a clip-on for times that is more convenient. As with competing products, the Edge keeps track of all sorts of health metrics, not the least of which is fitness data like calories burned and information related to one’s sleep quality at night.

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Google Fit now available via the Play Store – With Apple’s HealthKit, we were promised a core app in Health that would give us insight on our overall wellbeing, based on apps that worked with the platform. though HealthKit had a rough start, it’s here, and when used properly, not all that bad a take on your health and fitness stats. Google previously announced their own health platform in Google Fit, which aims to do the exact same thing HealthKit does — just for Android. Google has now published their app to the Play Store, and it’s compatible with just about every Android phone around.

Drivebot dongle monitors your car’s health – Unless you own an OBD-II reader, a random check engine light coming on in your car requires a trip to the nearest auto shop or service station to have it read — an annoyance in what are often busy days with little time for unexpected car troubles. The makers behind Drivebot aim to eliminate this hassle with what they call “a Fitbit for your car”, and it comes in the form of a Bluetooth-equipped dongle that shuttles data about your vehicle’s status to a paired smartphone.

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HP’s $200 Windows 8.1 Stream laptop now on sale, comes with $25 Windows store credit – HP’s Stream 11 laptop, which costs only $200, is now on sale and it looks like it will include a $25 Windows Store credit as well, in addition to the one free year of Office 365 that comes with it.

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Windows 10: OneGet, a Linux-style package management framework – Microsoft is building in a new framework for PowerShell that works as a package manager and anyone who has used Linux before will welcome this feature with open arms. If you are not familiar with package managers, it’s a tool that makes installing, updating and locating the install software much easier for developers. With the use of trusted repositories, every time a package is updated on the repository, your machine can be updated as well.

Top Android apps of the month, October 2014 – What are some of the most interesting apps for Google’s Android operating system we’ve discovered this month?

Security:

Wireless carriers are rolling out a horrible new way to track you – Last week, privacy advocates turned up some unsettling news: for two years, Verizon’s Precision Insights division has been seeding web requests with unique identifiers. If you visited a website from a Verizon phone, there’s a good chance the carrier injected a special tag into the data sent from you phone, telling the website exactly who you were and where you were coming from, all without alerting customers or informing the public at large. Today, Forbes’ Kashmir Hill reports that AT&T is testing a similar program, although it may be possible to opt out. In both cases, the message is clear: there’s a lucrative business in tracking users across the web, and carriers want in on it.

Tracking and the law – As courts continue to rule on what is and is not acceptable when it comes to tracking, a lot of what we do with our smartphones could become illegal

California reports huge jump in data breaches – The number of personal records compromised by data breaches in California surged to 18.5 million in 2013, up more than six times from the year before, according to a report published on Tuesday by the state’s Attorney General. There were 167 breaches reported during the year, up 28 percent from 2012. The massive increase in the number of compromised records came as a result of two major breaches—the loss of credit card data at Target in December 2013 and the cyber attack on LivingSocial in April 2013.

Report: Many Windows automatic updates are thwarted by user inaction – Windows automatic updates don’t work if you never restart the PC, and yet that seems to be the bottleneck for many, according to a survey of 4,500 Windows users.

Company News:

FTC sues AT&T over ‘deceptive’ throttling of unlimited data customers – The Federal Trade Commission is suing AT&T because the second-largest US carrier throttles speeds of its unlimited data customers, a policy that the FTC describes as “deceptive” and “unfair.” In a press release, the FTC said AT&T has “misled millions of its smartphone customers” by slowing down their data speeds after they’ve used up a certain amount of data in a single month. AT&T has failed to make its throttling policies clear enough, according to the complaint. “The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. The Commission’s filing blasts AT&T for slowing customers down to the point where common tasks — watching video, streaming music, etc. — become “difficult or nearly impossible.”

Facebook’s Slowing User Growth And Weak WhatsApp Revenue Send Shares Down 9% – Wall Street wants growth, or else. Twitter reported slow growth of 4.8 percent yesterday down from 6.3 percent last quarter and got hammered with a 9.8 percent share price drop today. And now, Facebook’s growth slowed from 3.125 percent last quarter to 2.27 percent this quarter, and now $FB is down 9.76 percent in after-hours trading. Meanwhile, Facebook broke out financials of its $22 billion WhatsApp acquisition for the first time, and they were a tad disappointing. WhatsApp brought in just $15 million in revenue in the first half of 2014 despite having 600 million users.

Facebook has first $3 billion quarter via ad network – Facebook just reported their third quarter earnings for 2014, and they are pretty impressive. For all the attention paid to Facebook tanking, or a possible ‘killer’ on the horizon, the social networking giant just steamrolls the competition time and again. This time, they’ve had their first $3 billion quarter, returning $3.2 billion in revenue. that’s a significant increase over the $2.9 billion they brought in last quarter, and much better than the $2.01 billion in Q3 2014. It’s also nearly triple what they brought in for Q3 2012.

Apple facing lawsuit over 2011 Macbook Pro GPU – Apple makes beautiful products, but they’re not perfect. A recent iPhone 5 button swap made that clear, and though it took longer than many would have liked for Apple to respond to the issue, they did. This time, they’ll have no choice. A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Northern California, alleging Apple’s 2011 Macbook Pro might be suffering from GPU issues Apple failed to acknowledge. The issue is said to affect both the 15-inch and 17-inch screen versions.

Games and Entertainment:

Walmart starts selling used video games – This expands on the company’s earlier trade-in program, which amassed the games Walmart is now selling, and introduces a massive player into the used game market, which has long been dominated by GameStop and similar retailers. The library of used games can be browsed on Walmart’s website now and picked up at one’s local store. As you’d expect, the prices vary based on title and console. A quick trot through the website reveals, as examples, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for the Xbox 360 at $5, Tomb Raider for $5.51, and Borderlands 2 for the Xbox 360 at $6.35 USD. As of now, gamers in the United States can grab a game at one of 1700 Walmart stores.

Hulu will soon have old Nickelodeon shows and more – Hulu is a decent subscription to have if it offers a show you like to keep relatively up-to-date on, but isn’t so great when it comes to watching old episodes of long gone shows. Netflix fills that void to some degree, but it is lacking in its own way, which makes Hulu’s latest announcement a welcomed one: a new deal is in place with Viacom that will usher in thousands of additional episodes, including ones from older shows like The Ren & Stimpy Show and Nickelodeon’s under-appreciated Invader Zim.

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Taylor Swift’s new ‘1989’ album is just $0.99 with Microsoft’s Music Deals app – Microsoft’s new Music Deals app only launched last week, but it’s already making waves thanks to a massive deal on Taylor Swift’s new 1989 album today. For just $0.99 you can own Taylor Swift’s latest album that only debuted yesterday. The same album is priced at $12.99 on the US iTunes Store, highlighting the 90 percent off sale here. Microsoft isn’t making noise about the promotion just yet though, quietly promoting the $0.99 deal on its Windows Twitter account this afternoon. It appears that the deals are limited to the US.

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GoG offers X-wing, TIE Fighter games as legit downloads for first time – When Disney bought Lucasfilm for over $4 billion nearly two years ago to the day, we lamented the uncertain publishing future of the company’s stable of classic LucasArts games. The fear was that these classics would be lost in corporate shuffling indefinitely. Thankfully, digital distribution site GoG isn’t letting that happen. This week, GoG published its first games from the Lucasfilm/Disney catalog as DRM-free downloads playable on modern machines.

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Action-packed ‘Ghostbusters’ remix will get you dancing – Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family ever seen a spook, specter or ghost? If the answer is “yes” then you will appreciate Eclectic Method’s newest music video that remixes your favorite moments from the hit movie “Ghostbusters.”

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Survey shows what Americans fear most – The Chapman Survey on American Fears included 1,500 participants from across the nation and all walks of life. The research team leading this effort pared the information down into four basic categories: personal fears, crime, natural disasters and fear factors.

Proposed FCC rule change blurs Internet/Cable TV lines – The FCC might be a slow-moving agency, like any in Government, but they’re oddly in-tune with what consumers want (most of the time). A new proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would give many TV addicts exactly what they want, giving Internet TV providers the same footing as legacy Cable TV providers. If passed, the new rules would make it impossible for a broadcaster to refuse to allow an Internet TV provider the right to carry their service specifically because they weren’t a cable provider.

UK roads to look like Tron’s game grid thanks to glow-in-the-dark bike lanes – UK cyclists may soon feel a bit like they’re riding light cycles around Tron’s game grid. Two cities are looking into creating glow-in-the-dark bike lanes on their roadways. Their goal: to increase both rider and driver safety by making cyclists more visible at night.

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The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed – The campuses of the tech industry are famous for their lavish cafeterias, cushy shuttles, and on-site laundry services. But on a muggy February afternoon, some of these companies’ most important work is being done 7,000 miles away, on the second floor of a former elementary school at the end of a row of auto mechanics’ stalls in Bacoor, a gritty Filipino town 13 miles southwest of Manila. When I climb the building’s narrow stairwell, I need to press against the wall to slide by workers heading down for a smoke break. Up one flight, a drowsy security guard staffs what passes for a front desk: a wooden table in a dark hallway overflowing with file folders.

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A contractor at the Manila office of TaskUs, a firm that provides content moderation services to U.S. tech companies.  MOISES SAMAN/MAGNUM

Cree cuts heat, bulk, and cost with vented LED bulbs – LED lightbulbs continue their downward price spiral into the mainstream, and latest to haunt incandescents is Cree’s freshly redesigned 40W and 60W replacements. Looking far more like a traditional bulb than previous iterations, primarily because Cree has done away with what would normally be a bulk-adding heatsink, the old-fashioned shape actually hides a clever alternative approach to cooling which uses heat itself to keep things chilly.

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Deepwater Horizon spill left an oil ring the size of Rhode Island at the bottom of the sea, study says – There’s an oil ring the size of Rhode Island at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and researchers say it belongs to oil company BP. According to a study published yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, about 10 million gallons of coagulated oil now coats the sea floor, following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that resulted in 172 million gallons of oil being spilled into the Gulf in 2010. The rest of the oil, however, is still largely unaccounted for. BP doesn’t agree with the findings, however. The company told the Associated Press that the researchers were unable to determine the source of the oil — an aspect of the study that lead “them to grossly overstate the amount of residual Macondo oil on the sea floor and the geographic area in which it is found.”

Something to think about:

“Consumers shouldn’t be shackled to rules that only recognize 20th century technology.”

-      Tom Wheeler, FCC chair

Today’s Free Downloads:

OpenVPN – The OpenVPN application was designed to be a full-featured SSL VPN solution which can accomodate a wide range of configurations, including remote access, site-to-site VPNs, WiFi security, and enterprise-scale remote access solutions with load balancing.

OpenVPN implements OSI layer 2 or 3 secure network extension using the industry standard SSL/TLS protocol, supports flexible client authentication methods based on certificates, smart cards, and/or 2-factor authentication, and allows user or group-specific access control policies using firewall rules applied to the VPN virtual interface. OpenVPN is not a web application proxy and does not operate through a web browser.

Features:

Tunnel any IP subnetwork or virtual ethernet adapter over a single UDP or TCP port,

Configure a scalable, load-balanced VPN server farm using one or more machines which can handle thousands of dynamic connections from incoming VPN clients,

Use all of the encryption, authentication, and certification features of the OpenSSL library to protect your private network traffic as it transits the internet,

Use any cipher, key size, or HMAC digest (for datagram integrity checking) supported by the OpenSSL library,

Choose between static-key based conventional encryption or certificate-based public key encryption,

Use static, pre-shared keys or TLS-based dynamic key exchange,

Use real-time adaptive link compression and traffic-shaping to manage link bandwidth utilization,

Tunnel networks whose public endpoints are dynamic such as DHCP or dial-in clients,

Tunnel networks through connection-oriented stateful firewalls without having to use explicit firewall rules,

Tunnel networks over NAT,

Create secure ethernet bridges using virtual tap devices, and

control OpenVPN using a GUI on Windows or Mac OS X.

Tweak-SSD – The original Tweak-SSD: Everything you need to optimize your SSD drive on Windows 7 or 8.

Optimize and tweak your Windows 7 or Windows 8 for a better performance of your SSD drive

Includes several tweaks that will optimize your SSD drive, making it even faster and reducing read and write access

Intuitive tweaking wizard guiding you from one tweak to the other, suggesting the best settings

Designed especially for Windows 7 and Windows 8 – unlike competitive products!

TRIM performance optimizer included (licensed edition only)

Completely free!

Compared to competitive products, Tweak-SSD does not require any user knowledge when it comes to activating SSD related system tweaks. The included wizard guides the user from one tweak to the other and suggests the best setting by intuitive red-green switch buttons, and an additional system status gauge visualizing the system’s optimization status.

Tweak-SSD works on Windows 7 and Windows 8, both on 32bit and 64bit editions. It includes an English user interface.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Taking back privacy in the post-Snowden cloud – When the technology industry embraced “cloud computing” and made it part of our daily lives, we all made a Faustian bargain. They gave us a way to break free from the expense of owning all the hardware, making computing and storage capacity dirt cheap and available on demand. On the other side, we promised not to worry too much about the fine print.

“In the 2000s we had this wild cloud party,” said Peter Eckersley, technology projects director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “That party ended—Edward Snowden crashed that party. And we’ve woken up with a massive privacy and security hangover that companies are now trying to shake.”

It’s not like this happened without warning. In 1999, former Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy spoke in front of the US government and infamously said, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”  But in the wake of the Snowden leaks, US companies that sell “cloud computing” services are now losing international customers in droves. At the same time, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are trying to keep what they have left, pushing back on attempts to make the cloud systems Americans use more secure from criminals and foreign governments because those authorities might get locked out too.

How did we get in this mess? And is there any way to have both the convenience of mobile access to nearly everything while still keeping out the prying eyes of government spies and criminal crackers?

‘Camouflaged’ internet concerns the Australian Federal Police – The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has said that the anonymous nature of the internet continues to be a concern for the law-enforcement agency, and that it is reliant on global partnerships with law-enforcement agencies around the world to continue to effectively tackle crime online.

The Australian Federal Police’s manager of cybercrime operations Glen McEwen appeared on Wesneday before a parliamentary committee investigating government agency use of powers in Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, which allows agencies to request internet service providers to block websites.

The committee has been investigating the issue after it was revealed last year that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) had accidentally blocked 250,000 websites when seeking to block sites associated with investment fraud, because the agency did not know that a single IP address could be associated with a number of websites.

The AFP is one of three agencies known to use the power, along with ASIC and one unnamed national security agency. It has been reported that during the 2012 and 2013 financial years, the AFP used this power 21 times to block websites on the Interpol “worst of” list of child abuse websites.

McEwen said on Wednesday that the AFP also uses the power to block malware websites, and, in particular, the recent GameOver Zeus botnet. He said that asking telcos to block websites is a “last resort”, where sites are hosted in jurisdictions outside the AFP’s reach, or where websites need to be taken down quickly.

The U.S. Government Is Suddenly Way, Way More Interested In Tracking Snail Mail – Old-fashioned mail, the kind sent through the U.S. Post Office, has fallen out of fashion; U.S. first-class mail volume fell 36 percent from its 2001 peak to the end of last year, and total mail volume has been falling in tandem. But the surveillance state’s interest in snail mail has shot up massively.

A report published yesterday by The New York Times showed an unexplained sixfold increase in the number of approved government requests to spy on the snail mail correspondence of American citizens in recent years.

Roughly 50,000 requests to spy on Postal Service metadata — the names, return addresses, and postmark locations on the outside of envelopes sent to a particular location or individual — were granted by the United States Postal Service in 2013 alone, The New York Times points out today. That’s up from an average of just 8,000 requests per year between 2001 and 2012. This increase happened with essentially no explanation as to why it was necessary, or with any added mechanisms to protect such a program from abuse:

“The number of requests, contained in a little-noticed 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service’s inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.

The audit was posted in May without public announcement on the website of the Postal Service inspector general and got almost no attention.”

In other words, the government has very quietly and very suddenly become extremely interested in reading a lot of people’s mail.

Newspaper outraged after FBI creates fake Seattle Times page to nab suspect – In 2007, the FBI wrote a fake news story about bomb threats in Thurston County, Washington, and then sent out e-mail links “in the style of the Seattle Times.”

The details have now been published by that very same newspaper, which today carries a story including outraged quotes from a Seattle Times editor. The FBI put an Associated Press byline on the fake news story, which was about the bomb threats in Thurston County that they were investigating.

“We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the US Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,” said Seattle Times editor Kathy Best. “Not only does that cross a line, it erases it.”

The information comes from documents about the 2007 FBI operation, which were acquired via a Freedom of Information Act request and published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2011. It wasn’t until yesterday that ACLU Technologist Christopher Soghoian noted The Seattle Times/AP reference and published it on Twitter. That spurred the newspaper to express its outrage and get FBI response.

Retain private data for police use or face $685,000 fine, Swedish authority tells ISP – Swedish ISP Bahnhof must resume retaining customer communications metadata for police use by the end of November or pay a fine of 5 million Swedish Kronor (US$685,000), the Swedish telecom authority has ruled.

Bahnhof should comply with Swedish law requiring ISPs to retain customers’ location and traffic metadata for six months for law enforcement purposes, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) said Monday.

Bahnhof will fight the order, CEO Jon Karlung said Tuesday.

The ISP stopped retaining the communications metadata and deleted all records with the permission of the authority after a May ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) invalidated the EU’s Data Retention Directive because it seriously interfered with fundamental privacy rights.

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 28, 2014

Use Google Maps and GPS offline on your Android device;  Dashboard tech the worst part of car ownership says Consumer Reports;  Keep your tiny goblins safe on Halloween with these apps;  4 Products That Will Save You Hundreds On Your Utility Bills;  How to recover deleted photos from a memory card;  Stay connected without a connection?  How to score the $3 Camera+ iPhone app for free;  Amazon takes on Chromecast with new $39 Fire TV Stick;  10 steps to erase your digital footprint;  Unlimited OneDrive storage for Office 365;  Here is how to get an Xbox One for $332.50;  Solid Concepts Announces Another 3D-Printed Metal Gun;  The Rise of Mobile Ransomware;  Credit card fraud can be stopped. Here’s how;  Glary Utilities (free);  Here’s what happens to your body when you die;  IceCream Slideshow Maker (free);  Panty raid: MLB, Homeland Security, and the great undercover underwear sting;  US Senate calls Whisper in for serious questioning.

Dashboard tech the worst part of car ownership says Consumer Reports – Complex, confusing, and frustrating car dashboards are now the most disappointing part of car ownership, a new survey suggests, with wonky infotainment coming in for renewed criticism from owners. Navigation, multimedia, and social networking features are spreading across many new vehicles, but lackluster user experiences – especially in brand new systems – are not only driving owners crazy but having a meaningful impact on their overall ratings.

Use Google Maps and GPS offline on your Android device – Maybe your carrier has tight data caps. Or perhaps you’ll be driving (or hiking) in an area with no coverage. Either way, you’ll want maps and GPS that aren’t dependent upon immediate Internet access.

4 Products That Will Save You Hundreds On Your Utility Bills – If you’re looking to save money every month, your family’s home electric bill is a good place to start. Smart, green tech updates will save a lot of electricity — and money — over the course of a year. Even small changes add up quickly. From home heating to lighting, I’ve compiled a list of four simple tech upgrades for your home that will save you a combined $225 per year on your utility bills. Most can be installed yourself with a little bit of handyman knowhow. And, once they’re installed, these devices are smart enough to take care of racking up the savings.

Keep your tiny goblins safe on Halloween with these apps – Create a digital Halloween safety kit that will keep you in the loop of where everyone is and add some light to your haunted path through the neighborhood.

How to recover deleted photos from a memory card – Just deleted an important batch of images from your memory card? Never fear, here’s how to undelete them for Mac and PC users.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Stay connected without a connection? – Meet the tools that let you transfer files and send messages on your smartphone without the Internet.

How to score the $3 Camera+ iPhone app for free – iPhone users looking for a more versatile and powerful camera app than Apple’s default one can now grab a good one for free. Camera+ normally sells for $3 in Apple’s App Store. For a limited time, though, Apple is offering the app for free through its Apple Store app, as spotted by the folks at RazorianFly on Monday. Camera+ provides a variety of controls beyond the basic ones outfitted into the built-in Camera app.

SUSE Linux Enterprise 12: new features and extensions – SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 is available today. And with it SLES 12 brings several significant new features and extensions to the desktop and to the datacenter.

Amazon takes on Chromecast with new $39 Fire TV Stick – Amazon is finally taking on the Chromecast. This morning it’s introducing the Fire TV Stick, a streaming device that exists entirely in a small dongle that plugs into a TV’s HDMI port. It can play games and is able to stream from the major services that you’d expect: Watch ESPN, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and, of course, Prime Instant Video. The Stick goes on sale for $39 beginning November 19th and is currently available for preorder. Prime subscribers can get it for $19 for the next two days.

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Microsoft targets Dropbox and Google with unlimited OneDrive storage for Office 365 – Microsoft is removing its OneDrive storage limits for Office 365 subscribers. If you’re an Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscriber then OneDrive storage will be unlimited in the coming months as Microsoft rolls out its changes to every account. OneDrive for Business customers will also get unlimited storage as part of Microsoft’s Office 365 roadmap. While Microsoft’s unlimited OneDrive storage is rolling out to all Office 365 accounts in the coming months, you can opt-in to be upgraded early over at Microsoft’s OneDrive preview site.

Microsoft offering unlimited cloud storage — and a free copy of Office — for $7 a month – Technically, they’re offering unlimited free OneDrive space to Office 365 users. That’s where the $7 per month comes in — it’s the base rate for a 365 Personal subscription when you pay annually. So not only is their no ceiling on how many gigs of data you can store in the cloud, you also get access to the entire Office suite — Word, Excel, OneNote, Powerpoint, Publisher, and even Access and Outlook — on both your main computer and your tablet.

License+ from Automatic could actually make teens better drivers – If you’re a parent of a teen, driving can be a scary proposition. Not only is your child operating a massive machine capable of high velocity, but they’re inexperienced. You can teach them all you like, but sometimes it’s helpful to have some actual data to back up your passenger seat cringing. with an update to Automatic called License+, you can get that info. You also get a little peace of mind that your teen is driving safely even when you’re not there.

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Smiley faces take on whole new meanings as Bing adds emoji search – Bing now supports searches with emoji, meaning you can insert or paste a range of emoji icons like hearts, smiley faces, food graphics, or any combination thereof, for some interesting, though not always useful, results. It’s a novelty feature, yes, but still fun. And one that could help Bing draw at least some attention away from Google. Google at the moment does not give results for emoji searches, though its auto-complete technology does recognize them. Yahoo, meanwhile, does support emoji searches.

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Free and cheap ways to learn about network administration – Though you might have the Network+ or CCNA cert, for instance, have you actually configured or played around with a network? Even if you already have held a network technician or administrator position, you might not have experience with all aspects of networking yet. Fortunately there are ways to get hands-on network administration experience, even at home — and most don’t cost anything.

One week later, Google algorithm change hits streaming, torrent sites hard – Video streaming and torrent sites have dropped precipitously in Google rankings after the company altered its algorithm last Monday, according to reports from Searchmetrics. One of Project Free TV’s main operating domains, free-tv-video-online.me, fell 96 percent in Searchmetric’s rankings, one of the biggest drops alongside torrentz.eu and thepiratebay.se.

The end of an era: Windows 7 consumer PCs halt production this Friday – It’s the end of an era, as OEMs will soon end production of PCs with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate pre-installed.

Security:

10 steps to erase your digital footprint – Summary: How do you vanish online? Follow these 10 steps to get started.

Zero-day in Samsung ‘Find My Mobile’ service allows attacker to remotely lock phone – NIST warned that if an attacker exploits the zero-day vulnerability in Samsung’s ‘Find My Mobile’ service, then the hacker can remotely lock, unlock and ring the phone.

The Rise of Mobile Ransomware – If Man on Fire or Taken has taught us anything, it’s that one of the greatest fear for parents is learning that a criminal kidnapped their child. These days, however, children aren’t the only ones who can be held for ransom as more malware is encrypting user data for payment. The newly released F-Secure’s Threat Report H1 2014 stated that the number of ransomware threats, which remotely locks computers or mobile devices, is increasing on Android phones.

Facebook and Yahoo team up to block account hijackings via recycled accounts – Facebook and Yahoo have figured out how to undo the mess Yahoo made when it decided to recycle old email addresses.

Credit card fraud can be stopped. Here’s how – After $4,000 of fraudulent charges from Brazil on my AMEX, I’m chasing down all my auto-payment accounts and frequently used commerce sites. Again.

US Senate calls Whisper in for serious questioning on user tracking – Following serious allegations brought up by the Guardian, the US Senate has a few privacy-related questions it would like to ask the people in charge over at Whisper, the self-proclaimed “safest place on the internet”.

Company News:

Tim Cook says that Apple Pay is already the leader in contactless payments – It’s only been a week since Apple Pay made its debut, but apparently the launch has been successful thus far. Speaking at the WSJD Live event, hosted by The Wall Street Journal, Cook said that Apple is already the leader in “contactless” payments, “more than the total of all the other guys.” Within 72 hours, Apple apparently activated one million cards, and we presume it’s only gone up significantly since then. Customer response, has been positive, as well.

ARM Intros New Trio of Mali GPUs – ARM on Monday introduced three new Mali graphics processors for mobile devices and a pair of additional GPU instruction sets designed for video processing and displays. The Mali-T820, Mali-T830, and Mali-T860 succeed Mali T700-class GPUs licensed by ARM to makers System-on-a-Chip (SoC) products for mobile devices such as Samsung, MediaTek, Broadcom, Realtek, and LG.

Twitter doesn’t have explosive growth, and investors aren’t happy – Twitter reported its third quarter earnings today, and despite robust performance, the company’s stock continues to struggle. Twitter’s booked $361 million in revenue over the last three months, more than double what it did for the same period in 2013. It also hit its marks on profit — $7 million, which is exactly what investors were expecting. But the stock is down more than 10 percent in after-hours trading, as investors flee a stock that hasn’t shown the upside they were looking for in a young, high-flying social network.

Amazon snaps up Rooftop Media to boost online entertainment services – The online retail giant is purchasing Rooftop Media in order to promote the firm’s plans to step outside of e-commerce and tap into other revenue streams. Amazon has already dabbled in the mobile sphere — bringing out the disappointing Fire Phone, as well as e-readers, and is well-known for Amazon Web Services (AWS). However, the Seattle, Wash.-based company also wishes to provide media and entertainment content, and has already begun doing so through Amazon instant video and the Amazon App store.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft starts the holiday sales early with $50 off Xbox One – The Kinect-less Xbox One is getting even cheaper from this Sunday as Microsoft starts up its Season of Xbox discounts for the holidays. A new $349 price ($50 less than the current $399) will kick in from the 2nd of November through to the end of the year for several console bundles, including the Special Edition Sunset Overdrive white console. This will be across most major US retailers and there’ll be similar deals for the rest of the world, though Microsoft hasn’t yet detailed them in full.

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Here is how to get an Xbox One for $332.50 from the Microsoft store – Earlier today, Microsoft announced that they would be cutting the price of the Xbox One to $350 but if you want to get it even cheaper, here is how you can save a further 5% at the Microsoft Store.

PlayStation 4 upcoming Share Play feature explained – Excited for the big two-point-oh update for your PlayStation 4? Looking forward to changing your console’s home screen themes? The awaited major update for the console will be landing on eager users’ hands, or rather on their devices, starting October 28 but the update isn’t just about themes, of course. Lest you forget, there are also other interesting additions that await you, like the totally new Share Play feature. And to make sure that you don’t forget indeed, Sony has published a video and a blog post detailing what Share Play really is.

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Alienware’s new graphics amplifier and laptop make portable high-end gaming possible – The dream for many PC gamers has always been to have a portable machine that can also handle the latest graphics-intensive releases, and Alienware has come up with a solution that moves that dream closer to reality with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. Released alongside the Alienware 13 — the company’s newest gaming laptop — the near-8-pound, $299 box is meant to live on your desk, ready to be plugged into any time you feel the need for that extra GPU boost that a laptop just can’t provide.

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27 Streaming Horror Movies for a Truly Creepy Halloween – Click through our slideshow for 27 insanely frighteningly films that are only a few taps and clicks away. We’ve provided a trailer preview as well as links to where the entire film can be found online (legitimately). We’ve noted where the films that can be streamed for free via monthly subscription services, but in most cases they can be digitally “rented” for under $4.

AMD’s flagship Radeon R9 290X graphics card prices cut to an insanely compelling $300 – Prices for AMD’s Radeon R9 290X graphics card plummet even further in the wake of the Nvidia GTX 980’s release–and yes, the dirt-cheap cards are eligible for AMD’s offer of three free games of your choice.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Drone nearly hits plane, may have been on purpose – Over the weekend, it was revealed that a drone had a near collision with an passenger aircraft in the UK. A 74-seat ATR 72 was flying over county Essex in route to London Southend Airport when it had the near collision with a quad-copter drone, which was flying at roughly 1,500 feet and came uncomfortably close to the right wing of the craft. According to the report, this was no accident, either.Whoever flew the drone seems to have been aiming for the plane.

Peeping teen in shower: I was checking if phone was waterproof – A UK teen found guilty of filming a woman in a shower insisted that he was merely a fascinated cell phone tester.

Flight cancelled when “Al-Quida” Wi-Fi network became available – A Los Angeles International Airport flight bound for London was cancelled Sunday when a passenger’s phone picked up the Wi-Fi signal “al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork” (sic) that was emanating from a fellow flier’s hotspot minutes before the United Airlines flight was set to liftoff. After a concerned passenger notified a flight attendant of the network at about 9:30pm, the plane taxied to a remote section of the Los Angeles airport and was held there for three hours. The plane was searched as passengers of Flight 136 were ordered to power off electronic devices, local media said.

Solid Concepts Announces Another 3D-Printed Metal Gun – Solid Concepts, a company that specializes in 3D printing in metal and now owned by Stratasys, as announced their second 3D-printed metal gun, the Reason. Their first gun, the 1911, as well as this one were made by sintering – melting – metal powder with a laser. However, from the detail on the barrel and handle it’s clear the company has improved the technology immensely over the year.

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We didn’t expect Kim Kardashian to love BlackBerry so much – Of all the people who could be the savior of BlackBerry, Kim Kardashian probably wouldn’t have been our first guess, but it turns out the reality TV star turned mobile app kingpin could end up single-handedly propping up the second hand market. The controversial star was expected to discuss social saturation and the surprise hit game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood at the Code/Mobile 2014 conference, but she took an interesting detour via ailing BlackBerry and her ongoing collection of devices.

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Here’s what happens to your body when you die – The good folks who produce the American Chemical Society’s “Reactions” series have created short YouTube videos about a variety of important topics like why bacon smells so good, how pot gets us high and how fireworks work. This week — being that it’s the week in which we celebrate ghouls, zombies, vampires and other deadish things — they’ve turned their science eyes toward a really big question: What happens when you die?

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Panty raid: MLB, Homeland Security, and the great undercover underwear sting – On Tuesday, undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security entered a tiny boutique lingerie store in Kansas City called Birdies. The shop was selling cotton panties that bore the phrase “Take the Crown” and an artistic rendering of the Royals logo designed by one of its co-owners, Peregrine Honig.

Something to think about:

“The arts must be considered an essential element of education… They are tools for living life reflectively, joyfully and with the ability to shape the future.”

-      Shirley Trusty Corey

Today’s Free Downloads:

Glary Utilities – Glary Utilities is a smart and reliable application that offers numerous powerful and easy-to-use system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC.

It allows you to clean common system junk files, as well as invalid registry entries and Internet traces. You can manage and delete browser add-ons, analyze disk space usage and find duplicate files.

You can also view and manage installed shell extensions, encrypt your files from unauthorized access and use, split large files into smaller manageable files and then rejoin them.

Furthermore, Glary Utilities includes the options to optimize memory, find, fix, or remove broken Windows shortcuts, manage the programs that start at Windows startup and uninstall software. Other features include secure file deletion, an Empty Folder finder and more.

All Glary Utilities tools can be accessed through an eye-pleasing and totally simplistic interface.

Features:

Disk Cleaner – Removes junk data from your disks and recovers disk space

Registry Cleaner – Scans and cleans up your registry to improve your system’s performance.

Shortcuts Fixer – Corrects the errors in your startmenu & desktop shortcuts

Uninstall Manager – Uninstalls programs completely that you don’t need any more

Startup Manager – Manages programs which run automatically on startup

Memory Optimizer – Monitors and optimizes free memory in the background

Context Menu Manager – Manages the context-menu entries for files, folders…

Tracks Eraser – Erases all the traces,evidences,cookies,internet history and more

File Shredder – Erases files permanently so that no one can recover them

Internet Explorer Assistant – Manages Internet Explorer Add-ons and restores hijacked settings

File Encrypter and Decrypter – Protects your files from unauthorized access and use.

Disk Analysis – Shows you the disk space usage of your files and folders

Duplicate Files Finder – Searches for space-wasting and error producing duplicate files

Empty Folders Finder – Finds and removes empty folders in your windows

File Splitter and Joiner – Splits large files into smaller manageable files, and then rejoin them.

Process Manager – Monitors programs that run on your PC and stop spyware and Trojans.

Windows Standard Tools – Provides direct access to the useful windows default functions.

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IceCream Slideshow Maker – Meet IceCream Slideshow Maker, a free software that you can use to create beautiful slideshows from your favorite photos. Breathe life into them by adding fancy transition effects and background audio. You don’t need to be tech savvy to create a multimedia slideshow with music in a few minutes: just add photos, configure slides transitions and durations, add a suitable mp3 file, preview the project and simply press the “Create” button to enjoy the end result!

Surprise your family and friends with a high quality video slideshow about your vacation or any special event.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canada, At War For 13 Years, Shocked That A Terrorist Attacked Its Soldiers – In Quebec on Monday, two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who, as The Globe and Mail reported, “converted to Islam recently and called himself Ahmad Rouleau.” One of the soldiers died, as did Couture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife. Police speculated that the incident was deliberate, alleging the driver waited for two hours before hitting the soldiers, one of whom was wearing a uniform. The incident took place in the parking lot of a shopping mall 30 miles southeast of Montreal, “a few kilometres from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the military academy operated by the Department of National Defence.”

The right-wing Canadian government wasted no time in seizing on the incident to promote its fear-mongering agenda over terrorism, which includes pending legislation to vest its intelligence agency, CSIS, with more spying and secrecy powers in the name of fighting ISIS. A government spokesperson asserted “clear indications” that the driver “had become radicalized.”

In a “clearly prearranged exchange,” a conservative MP, during parliamentary question time, asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper (pictured above) whether this was considered a “terrorist attack”; in reply, the prime minister gravely opined that the incident was “obviously extremely troubling.” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney pronounced the incident “clearly linked to terrorist ideology,” while newspapers predictably followed suit, calling it a “suspected terrorist attack” and “homegrown terrorism.” CSIS spokesperson Tahera Mufti said “the event was the violent expression of an extremist ideology promoted by terrorist groups with global followings” and added: “That something like this would happen in a peaceable Canadian community like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu shows the long reach of these ideologies.”

The FBI thinks it has found Glenn Greenwald’s second leaker – As Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept continues to publish secret government documents, some of which go beyond the initial NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, speculation has grown concerning a second leaker smuggling classified documents to the publication. After a recent law enforcement raid, that speculation seems to be confirmed. Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff reports that the FBI has identified a contractor who may be responsible for leaking documents about abuses in the government’s terrorist tracking system, as detailed in this Intercept report. According to Isikoff, the suspect’s home has been searched and federal prosecutors in northern Virginia have opened a criminal investigation into the matter.

The initial leaks revealed that more than half of the people identified in the FBI’s terrorist tracking database had no clear affiliation with a terrorist group, suggesting real problems for the database as a law enforcement tool. As a result, many have viewed the source as whistleblower acting in the public interest.

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 27, 2014

Cloud will never be fully secure, get over it;  CHP officers reportedly stole cell phone photos from women in custody;  10 Top iOS Apps Secured by Touch ID;  How to fill out a PDF form without software;  Personal finance apps – the best and the rest;  Google Rolls Out An Invite System For Its New Email App, Inbox;  Two good reasons to stick with POP3 email over IMAP;  Verizon Wireless injects identifiers that link its users to Web requests;  After uproar, Adobe begins encrypting user data;  Dell takes one last shot at selling Windows 7 Home Premium PCs ;  AMD slashes A-series desktop APU prices;  Google Bulks Up Video Game-Related Search Results;  The 5 most popular Linux distributions.

Cloud will never be fully secure, get over itIncreasing security breaches indicate that any data, once online, will never be completely safe from theft and malicious attacks, so enterprises and users may be better off focusing on risk mitigation.

CHP officers reportedly stole cell phone photos from women in custody – California Highway Patrol officers have allegedly been obtaining nude photos of female suspects from their cell phones and sharing them among other officers. Sean Harrington, 35, allegedly sent photos from the cell phone of a DUI suspect to his own phone, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. He then reportedly shared the photos with other CHP officers. The investigation began after a woman who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in August noticed that photos from her phone had been sent to a number that she did not recognize, according to the Contra Costa Times. The photos were sent when the woman was being processed in jail, the newspaper reported.

10 Top iOS Apps Secured by Touch ID – Touch ID makes unlocking your iPhone easier, but there’s more to Touch ID. Much more. Introduced with the iPhone 5s and refined in the iPhone 6, Touch ID is a marvel of simplicity and security. Press the home button to turn your phone on, and use your thumb or finger to log in with your fingerprint. What could be easier? But once you upgrade to iOS 8, you can do more with Touch ID than just unlock the phone.

Twitpic saved by Twitter just hours before planned shut down – Twitpic has reached its final chapter. The once-popular image sharing service announced today that it has reached an agreement to be acquired by Twitter, saving millions of photos that were set to go up in smoke later today. In a blog post, founder Noah Everett said “we have reached an agreement with Twitter to give them the Twitpic domain and photo archive, thus keeping the photos and links alive for the time being.” He added, “Twitter shares our goal of protecting our users and this data.”

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How to fill out a PDF form without software – PDFs are great for sharing documents, but not always for editing them. That’s not too surprising when you consider that a PDF is really just an image, not raw text. And unless the file was generated in such a way as to allow editing (by which I mean the addition of text, like for a form), you often have little option but to print it, fill it out by hand, then scan or fax it wherever it needs to go. Thankfully, there’s a free and easy workaround. (Actually, there are several, but for today I’m focusing on one I’ve used successfully.) PDFescape is a Web-based PDF reader, editor and form-filler.

Google Rolls Out An Invite System For Its New Email App, Inbox By Gmail – Good news, you don’t have to scour eBay for an invite to Google’s new email application, Inbox. You just have to know someone who got in. Today, Google announced by way of its “Inbox by Gmail” Twitter account that each Inbox user will now receive three invites they can hand out to friends.

Looksery Launches A Video Chatting App That Makes You Look More Attractive – Want to look more attractive on video? Or just different? Earlier this year, a company called Looksery popped up on Kickstarter to raise crowdfunding for a new kind of mobile video chat application that allows users to look more attractive on video using special effects that can remove blemishes, let you change your eye color, slim your face, and more. The app, which is live as of today on the iTunes App Store, also lets you transform your face into an avatar for a bit of fun, too.

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Cashing it in: Personal finance apps – the best and the rest – Although, fiscal junkies may argue the case for apps like Moneywiz – which sort all finances in one place, which Americans typically love – there are plenty of free or low cost alternatives that provide quick and easy calculations. The best of these financial operators have a unique “wow factor”, so here we have some for the sums and then some.

Two good reasons to stick with POP3 email over IMAP – Lately, I’ve noticed quite a few stories and discussions online centering around the always popular debate about whether to use IMAP or POP3 for email. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, IMAP and POP3 are the protocols you use to access email via clients like Outlook, Thunderbird, or Android’s stock email app. The general consensus is that the more modern IMAP is the way to go and the aging POP3 standard should be abandoned at all costs. But that’s just not the case. In fact, I am going to point out two very good reasons to go on using POP3, or perhaps even actively switch to it.

Ubuntu Turns 10 With Version 14.10 – On the 10th anniversary of the original Ubuntu launch, Canonical has released Ubuntu 14.10. The latest desktop version focuses on the developer experience, boosts overall quality, and provides a number of important features and security enhancements. Most notably, this week’s release introduces the first iteration of the Ubuntu Developer Tools Center. The feature, according to Canonical, downloads all Android toolkits and their dependencies, then integrates them into the launcher with a single command.

The 5 most popular Linux distributions – Summary: It’s hard to say what the most popular Linux distributions are. There are no good surveys. But, these are the ones that have been getting the most buzz in recent months.

AT&T ruins Apple SIM by locking it to their carrier – The Apple SIM concept wasn’t exactly revolutionary, but it was a pretty great introduction of the technology. Unfortunately, it seems that AT&T was unhappy with this level of freedom. The CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, posted a series of photos on Twitter showing that once a user selects AT&T as their carrier, they can never change it to something else. This effectively turns the Apple SIM into an AT&T SIM card, and ruining a fairly interesting element of Apple SIM.

VisionTek Pocket USB 3.0 SSDs available in 120GB and 240GB – VisionTek has announced the launch of a pair of new pocket size USB 3.0 SSDs that are designed to work with any major computer OS out there. These new drives will support Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows computers. VisionTek says that the performance of these USB 3.0 SSDs rivals the performance of an internal SSD and they can be used as a bootable Windows drive for Macs providing office-on-the-go use. Both the 120GB and 240GB SSDs are available to purchase at multiple online retailers right now. The 120GB SSD sells for $109.99 and the 240GB version sells for $174.99.

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Find out what all the buzz is with Buzz Launcher – Looking for one of the most customizable home screen launchers for the Android platform? Jack Wallen introduces you to Buzz Launcher and Homepacks.

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Nine questions about Google’s new Inbox by Gmail – Last week, Google announced its new restricted-beta Inbox service. Our Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan took it for a spin. While I have only just gotten my invite and haven’t yet played with the service or app, I have been thinking about the service and wondering how it will impact traditional Gmail. Below are seven questions I’d like to see answered.

Security:

Verizon Wireless injects identifiers that link its users to Web requests – Cellular communications provider Verizon Wireless is adding cookie-like tokens to Web requests traveling over its network. These tokens are being used to build a detailed picture of users’ interests and to help clients tailor advertisements, according to researchers and Verizon’s own documentation. It appends a per-device token known as the Unique Identifier Header (UIDH) to each Web request sent through its cellular network from a particular mobile device, allowing Verizon to link a website visitor to its own internal profiles. The service aims to allow client websites to target advertising at specific segments of the consumer market. While the company started piloting the service two years ago, privacy experts only began warning of the issue this week, arguing that the service is essentially tracking users and that companies paid for a fundamental service that should not be using the data for secondary purposes.

Tor exit node mashes malware into downloads – A Tor exit node has been found slapping malware onto downloads as users exit the hidden network and enter the public web. Leviathan Security Group researcher Josh Pitts found the operator of the Russia-based node compromising binaries only a month after raising concerns of the possible attack. He created the Backdoor Factory research tool to demonstrate how insecure binaries could be easily patched to compromise users, and said the greatest risk was in compromising Windows updates. “I had only circumstantial evidence until recently,” Pitts said. Tor Project bod Roger Dingledine flagged the exit node as bad on the network but this would not prevent copycat attackers from the more than 100 exit nodes in operation.

Ebola in your inbox: email spammers using virus to trick users – Despite much of the hysteria in the headlines these days, the American people have little chance of catching the Ebola virus. Our computers on the other hand, need to be careful. Email spammers are increasingly relying on Ebola scare-tactics in an effort to get recipients to open their messages and click on the links within.

After uproar, Adobe begins encrypting user data collected from Digital Editions app – Adobe Systems said Thursday it is now encrypting data it collects about certain ebooks after facing criticism earlier this month for not protecting the data. The Digital Reader blog reported on Oct. 6 that Adobe’s Digital Editions 4 software, used for downloading and reading ebooks, sent detailed logs to Adobe describing readers’ activity. Those logs were not sent using SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security), according to the blog. SSL/TLS encrypts data sent between a client and server, designated by “https” in a browser’s URL bar.

Whisper staff suspended amid investigations into Guardian report – Whisper, the social network/app built on the premise of allowing users to post brief statements and images in complete anonymity, has put its editorial staff on suspension, a decision made by CEO Michael Heyward. The decision comes as Whisper continues to defend itself in response to a newspaper report from The Guardian that said the company did in fact track its users even if they opted out of location-based features.

Company News:

AMD slashes A-series desktop APU prices – AMD recently slashed the suggested prices of its Kaveri A-Series accelerated processing units (APUs) by about 20 percent. The new prices mean a 3.7GHz quad-core AMD A10-7850K will soon cost around $143, down from $179. A slew of other AMD APUs are also receiving price cuts, and AMD will even throw in a free game with some models to sweeten the pot even further (and show off the superior graphics capabilities of its Radeon-packed APUs).

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About That Microsoft Quarterly Report – Microsoft’s first quarter of its fiscal 2015 was big. The fiscal quarter, corresponding to the calendar third of 2014, brought stronger than expected revenue and profit. The company’s cloud business continued to grow, Windows Phone put points on the board, Surface took off and Office 365 picked up a grip of new paying users.

Developers of “Room” app threaten legal action against Facebook for stealing idea – Facebook recently launched “Rooms,” a chatroom application for the iPhone, but there already is a similar app called “Room” whose developers are now threatening to take legal action against Facebook.

Google’s New Skybox For Good Program Gives Real-Time Satellite Imagery To Nonprofits – On the heels of acquiring satellite startup Skybox in August, Google and Skybox have announced the Skybox for Good program, which will provide real-time satellite imagery to organizations and programs that save lives, protect the environment, promote education and positively impact humanity, according to the official blog post.

Google shuffle: CEO Larry Page transfers product power to Pichai – Sundar Pichai has been moving up in the world over the past several years. Word this afternoon is that Google CEO has done some reorganizing of staff duties, putting Pichai in charge of core Google products. While he’d had responsibilities with Android, Chrome, and Google Apps before, Pichai will now take control of search, maps, Google+, commerce and ads, research, and infrastructure. Page has suggested that these powers – until now his – would be transferred so that he might focus on the “bigger picture” – instead of these slightly smaller duties, that is to say.

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Dell takes one last shot at selling Windows 7 Home Premium PCs – Just days before Microsoft orders OEMs to stop building new PCs with Windows 7 Home Premium, Dell tried one last time to spur sales using the lure of the five-year-old consumer OS. In a banner that ran on its website over the weekend, Dell promoted Windows 7 systems with the tagline, “Windows 7 for the win,” and discounts of up to 30% in a sale that runs until early Thursday.

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Games and Entertainment:

15 terrifying PC horror games to play with the lights off – Horror games are a dime a dozen. Good horror games—well, those are much rarer. We’ve rounded up some of the best horror games ever made, running the gamut from big-budget extravaganzas released this very year to… text adventures. I’m serious. Turn out the lights, put on some headphones, make sure you’ve got a spare pair of underwear nearby, and enjoy these spine-tinglers.

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Google Bulks Up Video Game-Related Search Results – If you often find yourself flooding Google with queries about the latest video games that have been released—or are scheduled for release soon—then you might have noticed a bit more information gracing your search results page lately. Google has added Knowledge Graph panels for video games. Search for a fairly well-known title and you’ll get a little box that links to some of the game’s reviews, a Wikipedia summary of the game, as well as information about the titles’ release date, publishers and developers, and platforms on which you can find said title.

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3D Realms signals its return with 32-game anthology – You can purchase the anthology with the soundtrack included for $19.99. However, that price is set to double tomorrow to $39.99, so be quick if you want to play some classics at a bargain price. The full list of games included can be viewed below:

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You Can Now Build Oculus Rift Projects In The Free Version Of Unity – Hey, you! Yeah, you! The one with the awesome idea for something that needs to be built in virtual reality! Remember a few weeks back, when Oculus mentioned that their development tools would soon work with the free version of the Unity game engine, rather than just the $1,500 Pro Version? It’s done.

Dragon Age gets sexy, Assassin’s Creed: Unity gets ridiculous, and more must-know gaming news – Plus Mortal Kombat is getting a live-action series, we get a glimpse of the Star Wars Battlefront sequel that never was, and someone threatens Gabe Newell’s life.

Off Topic (Sort of):

In pictures: Google exec secretly shatters Felix Baumgartner’s skydiving altitude record – Move over, Felix Baumgartner. Alan Eustace, a senior vice president at Google, rode a balloon more than 25 miles up, then cut the cord.

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Woman turns home into anti-WiFi zone with shielding paint – There’s an interesting story coming out of the United Kingdom this week about an elderly woman who has paid a substantial amount of money to turn her house into an anti-wireless technology zone. Stefanie Russell, who is 72-years-old and from Steyning, according to The Argus, has spent several thousand dollars to have her home painted in a type of radiation shielding paint that keeps all wireless signals out, making it an Internet and cell phone-free zone. The reason, she says, is concern about her health.

Air New Zealand’s epic, ‘Hobbit’-themed safety video is the most fun you’ll have finding your exit row – New Zealand’s tourism industry has benefited greatly from Peter Jackson’s films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, so it was natural for airline Air New Zealand to partner up with Jackson, branding itself as the “official airline of Middle-earth.” Alongside its plans emblazoned with imagery from Jackson’s films, the airline also produced a Hobbit-themed air safety video in 2012 to go along with the first Hobbit film.

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Silicon Valley startup unveils Internet-connected smart guns for cops – A Silicon Valley startup said Friday that police agencies were field testing its new product: a wireless sensor that transforms officers’ weapons into smart guns with real-time telemetry. Yardarm Technologies’ sensor is a small device that goes inside gun handles and provides dispatchers with real-time geo-location tracking information on the weapon. The Yardarm Sensor also sends alerts when a weapon is unholstered or fired, and it can “record the direction of aim, providing real-time tactical value for commanders and providing crime scene investigators valuable data for prosecution,” the company said.

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NYPD to equip every officer with Windows smartphone – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed on Friday that all 35,000 of the city’s police officers were going to be issued smartphones as part of a $160 million technology initiative. While it wasn’t officially stated, a glimpse at some of the devices, which also includes 6,000 tablets to be installed in police vehicles, seems to indicate that Windows will be operating system flavor.

Something to think about:

“I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

-      Sir Arthur Conan Doyle    (1859 – 1930)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

All the NSA Will Say About Its Alarmingly Entrepreneurial Top Spy Is That She’s Resigning – Teresa Shea used to be the National Security Agency’s director of signals intelligence, plus the wife of an executive in the business of selling things to agencies like hers, plus the host of a home-based signals intelligence business, plus the owner, via yet another business, of a six-seat airplane and resort-town condo.

She’s going to have to drop the first arrangement. After controversy in the press about her apparent conflicts of interests, Shea is stepping down from the NSA, according to Buzzfeed’s Aram Roston.

Roston, who has been diligently documenting Shea’s family businesses, revealed last month that the director’s husband was vice president at a signals intelligence contractor that appeared to be working for, or bidding to work for, the NSA. The same husband was also linked to a signals intelligence-related company registered at the couple’s home. Then last week Roston showed that Shea herself had evidently incorporated an obscure business in her name that nonetheless owned its own airplane and condominium in Hilton Head. All of this came while Shea was serving at the highest levels in one of the most significant divisions within the NSA.

All the NSA would tell BuzzFeed is that Shea’s exit from her role was routine and long planned — “well before recent news articles” — and that she would remain employed in some capacity.

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 24, 2014

The Best Browser Privacy Tools (That Don’t Make Life More Difficult);  The teacher’s guide: 50 resources for using tech in the modern classroom;  10 Apps to Get Right Now For Your New iPad;  Ello makes its ad-free promise a legal one, too; Getting started with Inbox by Gmail;  John McAfee has released D-VASIVE, a new app for your smartphone’s security;  View, create, and share PDF files with Google tools;  See the Windows 10 Start menu in action;  Facebook Launches Pseudonymous App “Rooms”;  Attackers change home routers’ DNS settings via malicious code injected in ads;  Adobe spies on readers: EVERY DRM page turn leaked;  The 5 Best PlayStation 4 Games Right Now;  Ubuntu 14.10 has landed — and it’s not just for desktops;  Get a ‘Lord of the Rings’ game bundle for $9.99;  Photos: The tech behind electric vehicles;  SpyShelter Personal Free;  5 Reasons People Aren’t Buying Tablets Anymore.

The Best Browser Privacy Tools (That Don’t Make Life More Difficult) – In a year when social media giants and governments alike have made headlines for tracking users online without their consent, battening down the virtual hatches has become a vital part of Internet hygiene. Blocking tracking technologies, however, also disables those handy auto-fill log-ins and web personalization features, preventing you from easily shopping online and making your web experience feel as if you’re back in 1999. So we went in search of privacy tools that don’t impact your browsing experience.

Ello makes its ad-free promise a legal one, too – It’s one thing to say your social network will never be like Facebook, it’s another to enshrine that promise in legal documents. Ello, a social site whose claim to fame is an anti-ad manifesto, is doing just that by filing to become a public benefit corporation. A benefit corporation is a company that chooses to be socially conscious of how its decisions affect not just shareholders or investors, but also its customers, employees, and the environment. Ello won’t get any tax benefits for being a do-good social network, but the charter the company filed prevents current and future investors and owners from ever profiting from ads or user data. “In other words, Ello exists for your benefit, and will never show ads or sell user data,” Ello founder Paul Budnitz wrote in a Thursday Ello post.

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The teacher’s guide: 50 resources for using tech in the modern classroom – In the classroom, teachers are more and more often expected to show innovative and progressive thinking by integrating technological solutions into their lessons — but starting out isn’t easy. From learning how to scour YouTube for clips to working out which photos and files can be used under fair copyright terms, while trying to keep up with standard workloads, invigorating lessons with technology can fall by the wayside. To help teachers out, and given the popularity of ZDNet’s last iPad in the classroom roundup, here is an updated, fresh list of tutorials, apps and software to transform your work-life balance and the student experience in today’s modern classroom.

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Effective security techniques we don’t follow enough – It’s not all our fault, security is hard. The IT folks at Target weren’t stupid or lazy. They had actually done a lot of security work, but it wasn’t enough. Modern enterprises are so large and complex that applying best security practices at all times and locations is just too much to ask. But we all can do better. As a starting point, consider these six programming techniques, products and services which tend to minimize the most common of security problems. We know that most attackers are lazy and looking for low-hanging fruit. The harder a target you make yourself, the less likely it is that you will be compromised.

10 Apps to Get Right Now For Your New iPad – Slimmer, lighter, and not as reflective, the new iPad Air 2 is more than just a looker — under the glass there’s a beefed up processor, more powerful camera and Touch ID, to name a few upgrades. Get the most out of your new Apple tablet with these 10 great apps.

Apple Pay vs. Google Wallet: hands-on experiences at McDonald’s – Apple launched its new virtual wallet service with the iOS 8.1 update yesterday while Google has had its system running for a couple of years. ZDNet’s Matt Miller took two devices to McDonald’s and was able to pay without a real wallet.

Getting started with Inbox by Gmail – Google just released a new way to keep your email organized so you can spend more time being productive. Read on to learn how to use all the new features of Inbox by Gmail.

Supercharge your Android Gmail searches – Jack Wallen shows you a quick way to make searching through that massive Gmail inbox on your Android device a snap.

John McAfee has released D-VASIVE, a new app for your smartphone’s security – D-VASIVE by John McAfee is an app that sits in the background of your phone and alerts you whenever another app tries to access your mic or camera, as well as tells you which apps are tracking you.

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Torrent sites hurting after Google’s latest anti-piracy change – Last Friday Google revealed its newest anti-piracy efforts, which largely amounted to a mixture of demoted rankings for torrent websites and a new box dangling legal download alternatives to those looking for content. It hasn’t been quite a full week since the announcement, but the changes are in place and torrent websites are already hurting, with some of the biggest ones reporting massive decreases in traffic in the past handful of days — though, it seems, some of the small sites are benefiting from the change.

View, create, and share PDF files with Google tools – PDF files are easy to share, easy to view, but not so easy to edit. Send someone a PDF, and they’ll likely see your document as you intended. With Google tools, you can view and create PDF files. If you view PDF files in Chrome, you can open the file, then use the down (and up) arrow keys to scroll through the document’s pages. You can also create a PDF from any Google Apps document (i.e., a file in Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Drawings) by downloading the document as a PDF file. Here’s how:

See the Windows 10 Start menu in action – Take a look at the new and improved Windows 10 Start menu, care of the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

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How Apache Spark is bringing analytics to the average Joe – With a new analytics cloud service unveiled earlier this month, CEO Sharmila Mulligan explains how ClearStory’s engine is shifting data insights to ordinary users.

Ubuntu 14.10 has landed — and it’s not just for desktops – Canonical’s latest Linux, Ubuntu 14.10, saves the biggest improvements for its cloud and server versions.

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Police Alerts NOT new on Google Now – So you’d like to keep an eye on your local police department’s doings, yes? Lucky you, there’s a new Police Alerts segment being added to Google Now as we speak. This isn’t brand new, on the other hand – it’s all part of Google’s team-up with Nixle earlier this year. If you don’t see anything on your Google Now app now, you might also just be lucky – this isn’t just a way to see what your local cops are up to, but a way for your local cops to inform you of emergencies.

Facebook Launches Pseudonymous App “Rooms” That Lets You Create Forums About Any Topic – It’s not quite anonymous, but forums standalone app Rooms is Facebook’s first product that allows you to ditch your real name. Rooms lets you set up a mobile-only in-app discussion space about any topic, customize the look and moderation settings, set a screen name for the room, and choose who to invite to share text, photos, videos, and comments with others in the Room.

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Hands-on with Homeboy: This could be the best home-security camera yet – If you’re looking for an IP camera for home security, you’ll want to know about Homeboy. It remedies almost every drawback I’ve seen in security cameras. It doesn’t cost a fortune. And you’ll be able to buy one soon—without having to participate in a crowd-funding campaign. If Homeboy looks familiar, it’s because it built on the intellectual property developed for the Hive camera that garnered a lot of attention about two years ago, but that was ultimately never brought to market.

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Do the research before you upgrade your RAM – Adding more RAM can speed up your PC and allow it to run more powerful programs. But you need to know how much RAM your system can take, and what kind to buy.

4 tips for writing better hashtags – Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when creating hashtags for events or campaigns.

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Plan to tax internet traffic in Hungary sees protesters take to the streets – Thousands of Hungarians are planning a demonstration against the country’s internet tax plan, with businesses and ISPs also criticising the legislation.

Security:

Adobe spies on readers: EVERY DRM page turn leaked to base over SSL: Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web because your ‘privacy is important’ – Adobe has tweaked its Digital Editions 4 desktop ebook reader to now encrypt the data it secretly sends back to headquarters – data that details a user’s reading habits. Previously, information on every single tome accessed by Digital Editions 4 was phoned home unencrypted, allowing anyone eavesdropping on a network to intercept it. Now that information is transmitted via HTTPS, and only if the book includes copy-protection measures.

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Pointing up    Are companies such as Adobe, Apple, Microsoft… in their attempts to vacuum personal and private data, imitating the NSA and the U.S. government – or, is it the other way around? In other words – who taught who to be unscrupulous, underhanded, and completely oblivious to ensuring such activities are above board? And, oh yeah  – LEGAL!

Microsoft survey shows four in ten in the U.S. face online attacks regularly – As more of our personal details become connected digitally via our mobile phones and computers, we put ourselves at an increased risk for potential privacy breaches and malicious attacks. According to a new survey by Microsoft, four in ten people in the United States experience some type of attempt to access their personal information on a daily or weekly basis by someone other than themselves.

Encountering the Wild PUP – The Internet is full of dangers; threats like malware, phishing attacks, hackers and drive-by exploits are some of the most commonly mentioned. But did you know that there is a far more common threat to users that no one in the media seems to talk about, a threat that almost everyone who has ever owned a computer has experienced. These threats are known as Potentially Unwanted Programs and they are the day-walking vampires of the internet.

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Do we really need strong passwords? – The idea that computer users should use long, complex passwords is one of computer security’s sacred cows. But is is really necessary? Mark Stockley investigates.

Attackers change home routers’ DNS settings via malicious code injected in ads – Sucuri Security researchers have unearthed a malvertising campaign aimed at changing the DNS settings of home routers in order to lead users questionable and potentially malicious websites. The attackers have embedded the malicious code in question directly into an ad hosted on the googlesyndication.com network, the researchers claim, and the ad has been served to a variety of websites that use that particular ad service.

Company News:

Amazon’s losses balloon to $544 million in its third quarter earnings – Amazon posted its third quarter earnings results today and they were not pretty: the company said it had a operating loss of $544 million, more than twenty times what was lost for the same period in 2013. Its revenues grew to $20.84 billion, an increase of 20 percent over the same period last year, but less than what investors were expecting. In its projections for next quarter, Amazon said it expects the red ink to keep spreading, with losses growing to $570 million.

Amazon Fire Phone Flops – Given that Amazon was tanking the price of the Fire Phone down to 99 cents two months after launch (leading to many a “Fire sale!” joke), this probably won’t come as much of a surprise: the Fire Phone isn’t a success. Who would’ve guessed a phone that existed pretty much solely to sell you stuff from Amazon while relying heavily on a silly gimmick wouldn’t sell well? The final count on Fire Phone inventory left at the end of Q3: $83 million. Eighty. Three. Million. Dollars.

Pointing up    If you were one of the many who laughed your ass off when Amazon announced this walking/talking billboard – you have been vindicated.   Smile

Huawei touts growth as smartphone shipments rise 26 percent – The company says it was able to double the amount of shipments on the premium side of the market and that it shipped nearly 17 million units worldwide in the third quarter.

Microsoft Up 3% After Reporting Better Than Expected FQ1 Revenue Of $23.20B, EPS Of $0.54 – After gaining more than 1 percent in regular trading, Microsoft reported its fiscal first quarter 2015 earnings: Revenue totaled $23.20 billion in the period, leading to profits of $0.54 per share. The revenue figure represents a 25 percent year-over-year increase, a large piece of which is due to the Nokia hardware acquisition.

Surface likely to be the next billion dollar business for Microsoft – Microsoft is in transition to become a devices and services company, and things aren’t looking too bad as Surface could soon be a billion dollar business for the company in the near future.

Aereo denied license request, but hope remains – Aereo, swept up in a legal battle earlier this year that it ultimately did not win, has been denied a license that would let it operate as a cable company. Aereo had requested this license during the late summer, and was told in August that it needed a court ruling on whether it could continue operations under this special designation. An injunction was put in place against the service today, but as the legal battle winds down towards a close, there is still a ray of hope for the service.

Apple and sapphire supplier strike deal to end partnership – GT Advanced Technologies and Apple have agreed to a deal that will let GT close the Mesa, Ariz. and Salem, Mass. factories where it was producing scratch-resistant sapphire, and void the contracts it had signed with its one-time partner. GT, which filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 protection on Oct. 6, will exit the sapphire-making business and re-focus on manufacturing the furnaces used to grow the material. The Merrimack, N.H. company will cut most, but not all, ties with Apple, and the two will go their separate ways.

Games and Entertainment:

Get a ‘Lord of the Rings’ game bundle for $9.99 – You! Shall not! Pass (up this great deal)! Yeah, I’m a “Lord of the Rings” nerd. So it goes without saying that I’m all over today’s deal, which will delight not only my inner 12-year-old, but also my resident 12-year-old. For a limited time, Bundle Stars has The Lord of the Rings Bundle for $9.99. That nets you four complete games and two downloadable content (DLC) packs with a combined value of over $100.

Nvidia brings one of the the GTX 980’s best new features to older graphics cards – Nvidia is bringing “Dynamic Super Resolution” to older graphics cards, letting users enjoy 4K-like visual smoothness on 1080p displays. Dynamic Super Resolution, or DSR, is one of the main features of Nvidia’s latest GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 processors, based on the company’s Maxwell architecture. A new driver update brings the same feature to Fermi- and Kepler-based GeForce GTX 500, 600, and 700 series cards.

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Halloween-themed Humble Bundle offers cheap, spooky games – The Walking Dead: Assault, Dead Effect, and Oscura: Second Shadow can be yours for a pittance of their normal cost.

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PlayStation 4 Update Coming On 10/28 Lets You Play Games With Friends Who Don’t Own A Copy – While Share Play sounds incredible, there’s a footnote or two that Sony seems to be downplaying a bit that might make it a bit less incredible. For example, the company has previously confirmed that Share Play sessions are limited to 60 minute chunks — so don’t expect to be able to blast through an entire game on a buddy’s remote console without shelling out for your own copy eventually. On the upside, the feature should work with all PS4 games right out of the gate, so it’s not something that’ll only work on a title-by-title basis.

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The 5 Best PlayStation 4 Games Right Now – So you just picked up a PlayStation 4, and you’re wondering what to buy. Or maybe you haven’t bought one yet, but you’re leaning in Sony’s general direction. Either way, we think these are hands-down the best games on platform at the moment.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Check out the latest Halo Nightfall trailer – We had been treated to a teaser trailer in months past for Nightfall, but today Microsoft released the full official trailer from Scott Free Productions (owned by Ridley and Tony Scott). Spoiler alert: this trailer is pretty awesome considering the absence of a Hollywood-like budget.

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CitizenFour, film review: The Snowden revelations, as they happened – This absorbing documentary follows film-maker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald as they make contact with the whistleblower and unleash a media storm.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Photos: The tech behind electric vehicles – There’s a lot of IT that goes into EVs. Here are 10 examples of the tech that makes these cars and the systems behind them work.

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The future health of the internet comes down to ONE simple question… Can ICANN be forced to agree to oversight of its decisions? – When was the last time you gave any thought to how the internet actually works? Despite the extraordinary and never-ending growth in people and devices that connect to the internet every second of every day, we have never seen the equivalent of Twitter’s Fail Whale. The internet, as a whole, just doesn’t go down. There are two main reasons why. One, a very clever decentralised and lightweight design, and two, an engineer culture focused on the network first and everything else second. There is one potential flaw, however. In the middle of this vast, global, decentralised network exists a central core around which the internet binds, and without which the network would start to erode and break apart.

Google teams with Oxford on artificial intelligence – Google, the search company that’s investing heavily in robotics, is teaming with Oxford University researchers to work on artificial intelligence. In January, Google bought the London-based artificial intelligence company DeepMind. Now the Google DeepMind group will work with two of Oxford’s artificial intelligence (AI) research teams. The teams will work on image recognition and natural language understanding, according to Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind and vice president of engineering at Google, in a blog post.

Ford gives pedestrian-spotting bumpers access to the brakes – Ford is rolling out a new set of smart driving aids that the car company claims could potentially eliminate frontal collisions involving pedestrians, using a combination of radar and lasers to spot people walking out into the road unexpectedly. Contrary to what Ford’s graphic might suggest, the system doesn’t involve the new 2015 Mondeo (aka the Ford Fusion) firing laser beams from its grille and cutting pedestrians into sufficiently small pieces so that they fit under the car rather than colliding with its hood. Instead, the invisible beams can call in favors from the braking system.

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Australian ISP stands up to filmmakers hunting pirates – The producer of Oscar-winning film “Dallas Buyers Club” has taken its hunt for pirates of the film to Australia, after filing a barrage of antipiracy lawsuits in the U.S. But at least one Australian Internet service provider is pushing back out of concern that the movie producer aims to intimidate its customers into paying excessive damages. “In plain terms, Dallas Buyers Club wants the names and contact details of our customers they believe may have illegally shared their film,” said iiNet, one of the affected ISPs on Wednesday.

Man accidentally texts probation officer to ask for weed – This could happen to any of us. Well, if any of us was serving probation. This was the case with Alvin Cross Jr. of Albany, Ga. Cross Jr seems to have got his wires crossed — or, more accurately, his fingers — when he reportedly texted who he thought was his drug dealer. The accitext? “You have some weed?” The recipient? His parole officer. As WALB-TV reports, Cross’s parole officer may or may not have been cross, but the authorities were informed. His home was raided. Cocaine was found.

5 Reasons People Aren’t Buying Tablets Anymore – First, some perspective: the tablet industry is still huge. Gartner predicts that over 250 million tablets will ship worldwide by the end of 2014, an impressive figure for any consumer electronics device not named “smartphone.” But there’s reason for tablet makers to be worried. Sales are “crashing” at Best Buy and iPad sales are down year-over-year, a disappointing reversal after three years of explosive growth. Whether it’s a sign of doom or just a “speed bump,” something, on some level, is wrong. Let’s break down five possible explanations:

Something to think about:

“Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.”

-      William James (1842 – 1910)

Today’s Free Downloads:

SpyShelter Personal Free – The Internet is now a vital part of our personal and business lives. With increasing use of online systems, cybercrime also has grown exponentially. Information-stealing software are produced regularly and are used by thieves to steal personal and business information.

One of the most effective ways of stealing information is through a program that can easily be made to capture keystrokes. SpyShelter captures everything that a user is doing- keystrokes, mouseclicks, files opened and closed, sites visited. More sophisticated programs can capture everything a user sees on his screen when performing a screen capture: just the mere opening of a file can allow an information thief to steal your data.

These sophisticated and dangerous programs are called Keylogging programs (e.g. keyloggers, key recorder, keytrappers, key capture programs, etc.) and they are developed continuously all over the world. SpyShelter anti keylogger can protect you against attacks that happen even when you do ordinary computer tasks like: typing into your computer, getting screenshots, opening files, and visiting sites.

The SpyShelter monitors vulnerable and weak spots in your computer system to ensure that even the most advanced keyloggers are shut down even before these can launch a single dangerous attack against your computer.

SpyShelter antikeylogger system is fast, efficient, and easy-to-use.

Features:

Webcam Logger protection: SpyShelter defends you against hackers who would like to seize control of your webcam, even when it is switched off!

Key Logger protection (kernel mode also): SpyShelter Stop-logger ensures that whatever your type into your computer is protected against dangerous people who steal your data! Whatever you enter into your computer will not leak to malicious parties.

System Defense: SpyShelter guards your registry, your physical memory (RAM), and other sensitive computer parts and processes so that malicious code cannot be injected to seize control of your PC.

Internet security: SpyShelter AntiNetworkSpy protactive module prevents dangerous trojans from stealing your private information while important SSL internet transactions. It also blocks HTTP/HTTPS trojans on user level as well as POP,SMTP,FTP, loggers.

Clipboard Logger protection:

SpyShelter shields sensitive data that can be found on you Windows clipboard as a result of copying, cutting, and pasting. This software ensures that these information will not be under malicious monitoring by other people.

Screen Logger protection: When you take screen-captures, SpyShelter spots suspicious activity that might reveal sensitive data you enter into your computer such as bank account and credit card information.

Anti Sound logger: SpyShelter unique security module that protects your system against VOIP sound trojan loggers. Can be useful when you use instant messangers for voice calls. This module also protect you against voice logger from your webcam or built-in microphone.

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Wise Care 365 – Wise Care 365 is a bundle of important tools including a registry cleaner, disk cleaner, program uninstaller, memory optimizer and more.

Easy to use and effective, Wise Care 365 is the good solution to improve your PC’s performance. Get Wise Care 365 and your computer will never run slow again!

Features:

Clean up, defragment and optimize the Windows Registry

Defragment and free up space on your hard disk

Protect your privacy by erasing personal tracking data

Recover lost files

Hide important files or folders

Prevent unauthorized use of personal applications

Auto shut down your PC

Free up Memory to boost game and enterprise software performance

Simple “One Click Tune-up” option will optimize your PC

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Shakeup At NSA After BuzzFeed News Reports On Potential Conflict Of Interest – One of the nation’s top spies is leaving her position at the National Security Agency, according to two sources, amid growing disclosures of possible conflicts of interest at the secretive agency.

The shakeup comes just a month after BuzzFeed News began reporting on the financial interests of the official, Teresa Shea, and her husband.

Shea was the director of Signals Intelligence, or SIGINT, which involves intercepting and decoding electronic communications via phones, email, chat, Skype, and radio. That’s widely considered the most important mission of the NSA, and it includes some of the most controversial programs disclosed by former contractor Edward Snowden, including the mass domestic surveillance program.

It couldn’t be determined why Shea is leaving her position or what new job she might take. Neither the Sheas nor the NSA responded immediately to requests for comment.

In September, BuzzFeed News reported that a SIGINT “contracting and consulting” company was registered at Shea’s house, even while she was the SIGINT director at NSA. The resident agent of the company, Telic Networks, is listed as James Shea, her husband.

Mr. Shea is also the vice president of a major SIGINT contractor that appears to do business with the NSA. The company, DRS Signals Solutions, is a subsidiary of DRS Technologies, which itself is a subsidiary of Italian owned Finmeccanica SPA.

Last week Buzzfeed News also reported Shea herself had incorporated an “office and electronics” business at her house, and that the company owned a six-seat airplane and a condominium in the resort town of Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Lone lawyer sues Obama, alleging illegality of surveillance programs – Justice Department lawyers have asked a federal court in Pittsburgh to dismiss a sweeping lawsuit brought earlier this year by a local lawyer against President Barack Obama and other top intelligence officials.

In a new motion to dismiss filed on Monday, the government told the court that the Pittsburgh lawyer, Elliott Schuchardt, lacked standing to make a claim that his rights under the Fourth Amendment have been violated as a result of multiple ongoing surveillance programs.

Specifically, Schuchardt argued in his June 2014 complaint that both metadata and content of his Gmail, Facebook, and Dropbox accounts were compromised under the PRISM program as revealed in the documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

Pointing up    In the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, ONE MAN STANDS UP!

The surveillance state and you – George Orwell’s 1984 opens with Winston Smith carving out a pocket of privacy by crouching in a corner of his apartment where the telescreen—and thus Big Brother—can’t see and writing a diary entry. These days, that Stalin-inspired nightmare seems quaint. We carry our personal telescreens around with us, and take it for granted that if someone wants to watch us, they can.

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 23, 2014

Four in ten web users have experienced online harassment;  Android version report card: How the top phones line up;  Not been a victim of cyber-crime yet? You’re now in the minority;  Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool Beta;  The Best First Smartphone for Your Child;  BitTorrent Sync file transfer speeds blow away Dropbox, Google, and OneDrive;  10 iPad Air 2 reviews in 10 quintessential quotes;  This Technology Could Change the Way Deaf People Live;  Windows 10: Enhancements to security;  Google unveils “Inbox” as combined toolset for mail, calendars, tasks;  Chromebook shipments leap by 67 percent;  DHS investigates 24 potentially deadly cyber flaws in medical devices;  Massive malvertising campaign on Yahoo, AOL … delivers ransomware;   Microsoft is ending free Xbox Music streaming;  ‘Titanfall’ to add new co-op game mode; Study reveals sugar-filled soda ages you just like smoking does;  Advanced SystemCare 8 Free Beta 3.0.

Four in ten web users have experienced online harassment, according to Pew survey – The internet is still a rough place, according to a new survey conducted in June by Pew Research’s Internet Project and released today. A full 73 percent of the survey’s respondents had witnessed someone being harassed online, while 40 percent had personally been the victim of harassment. Eight percent had been physically threatened, while seven percent had seen the harassment continue for a sustained period of time. Most alarming, more than a quarter of women between the ages of 18 and 24 reported some form of online sexual harassment. “The data show that men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment,” the report says, “while young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking.”

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Android version report card: How the top phones line up – Wondering if your recently purchased Android handset will be updated with Lollipop? Check out our handy chart which covers a variety of top smartphones.

5 lesser-known killer features in Android 5.0 Lollipop – Android 5.0 Lollipop looks much different than all previous versions of Android thanks to its significantly updated design language. There’s also a fundamental shift in how apps are being run. These are the headlining changes, but there’s a lot more going on in Lollipop than you might expect — new features lurk behind every menu and around every animation. Here are the five coolest, lesser-known features of Android 5.0 Lollipop.

The Best First Smartphone for Your Child – There’s no more modern rite of passage than the first smartphone. How else for kids to text their friends (all of whom, rest assured, “already have one!”), swap Instagram and Snapchat photos, and stream the latest Iggy Azalea music video? Of course, if they’re clever, they’ll argue the practical side: You’ll always know where they are. They can text you when soccer practice ends early. Apps will help them keep tabs on homework assignments. Pretty good points. So let’s take a look at some kid-friendly smartphones, along with service-plan options that won’t obliterate an allowance — yours or theirs.

PreTweet saves you from looking like an idiot on social media – No more “amazeballs”! Avoid looking like a twit on Twitter by using the PreTweet service to scrub out overused words everybody is tired of seeing on social media.

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BitTorrent Sync file transfer speeds blow away Dropbox, Google, and OneDrive, BT says – When you need to share everyday files between devices, cloud storage services work wonders. But when you need to quickly transfer big files between PCs, tablets, and smartphones, it’s hard to beat the speed of BitTorrent Sync’s cloudless file sharing. And now BitTorrent Inc. says it has hard numbers to show just how fast its peer-to-peer sync app really is. The company behind Sync (and the newer Bleep messaging service) says that based on its tests, BitTorrent Sync transfers are up to 16 times faster than syncing with cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.

This Technology Could Change the Way Deaf People Live – A new device being produced to ship in fall 2015 could be the first compact, real-time interpreter for deaf people who cannot speak.

Check out these great music streaming apps for Windows Phone – Listening to music is great — and there’s no reason to be left out just because you’re on a Windows Phone. Music streaming services are out in force, and just about all of the most popular players have thrown their weight behind Microsoft’s smartphone platform. That gives Windows Phone fans plenty of options to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites.

10 iPad Air 2 reviews in 10 quintessential quotes – After four days with the devices, most outlets were impressed by the slimmed-down iPad Air 2 but would recommend it only to owners of early-generation iPads. The iPad mini 3’s slight update—a new gold option and Touch ID—weren’t enough to win a ringing endorsement from any expert. We’ll be weighing in with our in-depth analysis and test results on both tablets, but until then, we picked out some of the best insights from our fellow journalists around the web.

3 reasons to invest in a Surface Pro 3 instead of an iPad Air 2 – Last week Apple unveiled its new tablet lineup and introduced the iPad Air 2. The Apple iPad is still the de facto leader of the tablet market, but it’s now only marginally compelling in a market saturated with a wide variety of alternative devices. The Surface Pro 3, on the other hand, includes some unique features and capabilities that make a persuasive case for why it should be the tablet you purchase.

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Google unveils “Inbox” as combined toolset for mail, calendars, tasks – On Wednesday, Google revealed “Inbox,” a Web- and app-based e-mail platform that strives to integrate your mailbox with your calendar and to-do list. The Inbox interface screams “Material” redesign, and its sidebar comes with a much wider range of sub-categories, dubbed “bundles,” to divide your mail between. There are so many, in fact, that the typical Hangout list in Gmail has been forced to the right side of the Web app. The mobile app—only shown today as an Android option, natch—appears to put a stress around such bundling by default, as opposed to presenting e-mails in a default time orientation.

Google Inbox is great; here are two more awesome email apps – Google’s Inbox has some great features, and can definitely make your email experience a lot easier. It also might not be right for you. It might do quite a bit, but there are also a lot of things it doesn’t do. Rather than assume Inbox might solve your email woes, we suggest taking a look at a few other email apps that might actually suit you better. If you’re looking to make life easier via email, it depends on your needs.

Sprint undercuts AT&T, Verizon with $20, 1GB family data plan – At $20, Sprint is offering twice as much data as Verizon and more than three times the data as AT&T.

New Barnes & Noble Nook Galaxy Tab goes big with 10.1-inch screen – The Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is launching with an “introductory price” of $300 directly from B&N, which implies the cost may eventually jump up, though it’s likely just marketing speak. To sweeten the deal, buyers get four e-books for free and an episode each of The Newsroom, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Octonauts. Other perks include four, 14-day free trial magazine subscriptions. The internals match up with the non-Nook Galaxy Tab 10, sporting a 1280 by 800 screen with 149 pixels-per-inch. The tablet has 16GB of storage, expandable to 64GB with an SD card. It has a 3MP camera and 1.3MP front facer, if you really plan on taking photos with your 10-inch tablet.

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Windows 10: Enhancements to security – Microsoft is in full development mode for Windows 10, and one item that is likely on the minds of many are the new security features coming with the platform. Seeing that data breaches, identity theft, and malware are real and consistent threats, Windows 10 needs to be built to project against threats of today and tomorrow too. To that degree, Microsoft has posted a rather lengthy piece that talks about the new security features coming with Windows 10, but to save you a bit of time, we have them summarized below.

Windows 10: You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers – There’s more to Windows 10 than just the revamped Start menu. I’ve been fielding questions from readers about the new release. Why is it called Windows 10? Does it really contain a keylogger? What happened to Internet Explorer? And where are the updates?

New Microsoft adapter lets Xbox One’s Kinect play nice with PCs – Xbox One owners will be able to attach their Kinect motion sensors to Windows PCs and tablets thanks to a new adapter introduced by Microsoft. The new $49.99 adapter is specific to Kinect sensors built for Xbox One, and it plugs into the USB 3.0 port of Windows 8 PCs. Microsoft already sold a separate $199.99 Kinect for Windows v2 motion sensor, which plugs directly into PCs without the need for an adapter. There will be no difference in the performance of the Kinect sensors, Microsoft said.

Shutter HALO review: a selfie’s best friend – Capturing the moment is something we all enjoy, and we’re turning to our smartphones more and more to do so. If you’d rather be in the shot than hidden behind the screen, Shutter Halo might be what you’ve been looking for. The small button links to your camera via Bluetooth, and lets you snap a picture remotely. Now you can be in the pic as well as the one taking it! Does a small button really stand up to your wants as a mobile photographer? We find out.

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Avi-on Bluetooth light switch sticks to any wall – Imagine deciding you would like a light switch at some specific place in your home where no switch exists, and being able to add it simply by sticking a switch to the wall like a giant Bluetooth-toting sticker, no cutting or wiring necessary. Such is the nature of Avi-on, the latest product in the growing number of home-centric connected devices. The Avi-on light switch works in conjunction with various GE connected devices, including its Bluetooth light bulbs and Plug-In Smart Dimmer, and is joined by a mobile app. Unfortunately, you’ll not be able to run out and buy one of the Avi-on switches right now, as it is still being funded.

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Wi-Fi is now free when you visit the UK, if you have a MasterCard – MasterCard customers can enjoy free Internet on trips to the UK without paying out a single pound, shilling or ha’penny.

Target offers free holiday shipping, wish lists for the first time – The increasing reach of Amazon has brick-and-mortar retailers changing their game plans. The latest is Target, who for the first time is offering free shipping.

Chromebook shipments leap by 67 percent – ABI Research found that, in the most recent quarter, Chromebook shipments increased by 67 percent quarter over quarter. The research company expects that year over year, Chromebooks shipments will double. They’re not the only ones who’ve seen Chromebook’s growth. Stephen Baker, consumer research company NPD’s VP of industry analysis for consumer technology, said Chromebooks accounted for more than 5 percent of notebook sales and almost 20 percent of the under-$300  category.

Security:

Not been a victim of cyber-crime yet? You’re now in the minority – Just over half the people in Britain have been the victim of an online crime, or cybercrime, according to the latest survey of the issue by Get Safe Online, costing £670m a year in fraud. The crimes include ID theft, hacking and illegally accessing and stealing from bank accounts, but a significant proportion of the crime is never reported because people are not sure who they should report the crime to, the report says. That £670m is the figure for the top 10 internet-enabled frauds reported between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014. Clearly the actual full figure will be higher because not all crime is reported. Of those who’ve fallen victim to cyber-crime, the Vision Critical poll suggests that only a third, 32 percent, actually reported the incident to the authorities.

DHS investigates 24 potentially deadly cyber flaws in medical devices – When the FDA released recommendations to manufacturers to strengthen the cybersecurity of medical devices earlier this month, the agency quoted Dr. Suzanne Schwartz as saying, “There is no such thing as a threat-proof medical device.” Now, coinciding with the “Collaborative Approaches for Medical Device and Healthcare Cybersecurity” public workshop, Reuters revealed that DHS is investigating 24 cases of suspected cybersecurity flaws in medical devices and hospital equipment. “The two dozen cases currently under investigation cover a wide range of equipment, including medical imaging equipment and hospital networking systems.”

Massive malvertising campaign on Yahoo, AOL and other sites delivers ransomware – Malicious advertisements made their way last week to almost two dozen popular websites and used browser-based exploits to infect computers with CryptoWall, a nasty file-encrypting ransomware program. The malicious advertising, or malvertising, campaign was discovered by researchers from security firm Proofpoint and had an impact on visitors to at least 22 popular websites including Yahoo’s Finance and Fantasy Sports sites, realestate.aol.com, theatlantic.com, 9gag.com and match.com.

Facebook prowls the internet looking for your password – Facebook explains that it’s keeping its eye out for credentials – email, password combinations – dropped on sites after data breaches, running them against its own users’ credentials to see if password reuse is going to land its users in trouble.

Company News:

ARM vs. Intel: Why chipmakers want your Chromebook’s brains – As Chromebooks gain credibility among consumers, corporations and schools, Intel has every reason to elbow into what used to be ARM’s turf exclusively.

Apple defeats GPNE’s $94M patent-infringement claim – A San Jose jury rules against the nonpracticing entity, which had accused Apple of infringing its mobile device technology. Apple on Wednesday defeated GPNE in a patent-infringement trial, with a jury determining the electronics giant’s devices didn’t infringe mobile technology owned by the nonpracticing entity. Apple, which called GPNE a patent troll, said in a statement that it was “pleased” by the verdict.

Apple plans to open 25 new stores in China by 2016 – Apple CEO Tim Cook plans to open an additional 25 retail stores in China within the next two years. The Apple executive hopes to increase the number of stores from 15 to 35 within 24 months, according to an interview transcript posted on Sina.com. The company’s future plans in the region were revealed during a visit by Cook to China, where the 53-year-old has been inspecting Apple facilities and has also met with China’s Vice Premier Ma Kai.

Microsoft and IBM commit to providing their enterprise software on Azure, IBM clouds – Microsoft and IBM have cemented a cloud alliance via which they will provide elements of their respective enterprise software on each other’s clouds. The partnership, announced on October 22, will enable IBM’s middleware software — including WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere MQ and DB2 database — to run in virtual machines on Azure for development and deployment purposes. In addition, Microsoft and IBM are working together to provide .NET runtimes and tooling in IBM’s Bluemix, which is IBM’s platform-as-a-service offering. The pair will start by providing a limited preview of .NET within Bluemix.

Sony to slash its smartphone forecast, again — report – The company had planned to ship 50 million smartphones this year, but that figure has been falling and will drop even more, according to Bloomberg.

Games and Entertainment:

‘Titanfall’ to add new co-op game mode – With the new game mode, called Frontier Defense, four players will be able to take on waves of A.I. opponents, with new enemy types also being added to the game. Players will defend objectives in the mode, which will take place on all maps already available in the game. The update, which will be available tomorrow, will be free to all users.

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Microsoft is ending free Xbox Music streaming – Microsoft is closing its free Xbox Music streaming service effective December 1st. The company will continue to offer music streaming through its Xbox Music service, but users will need to purchase an Xbox Music Pass to do so, at a monthly price of $9.99. The company doesn’t specify why it’s removing the free, ad-supported streaming option, but says it’s “focusing Xbox Music to deliver the ultimate music purchase and subscription service experience for our customers.”

Voice Commander is an insanely addictive game for the Xbox One from Microsoft Garage – What would happen if Resogun and Asteroids had a baby, only instead of being on the PS4 it’s taking advantage of all the Kinect goodness on the Xbox One? Voice Commander is an Xbox One game made through Microsoft’s Garage, which basically means it was made by Microsoft employees in their extra tim. Plus, it’s free, so if you have an Xbox One there is no reason to not give it a shot.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Camera made from one tiny Lego brick actually works –  The inspiration began with a pine nut. Ryan Howerter, a graphic design student at Colorado State University, took a photography class and his teacher shared the story of the Pinholo, a miniscule functioning pine-nut pinhole camera. Howerter hollowed out a tiny Lego brick (just two studs square) and turned it into a working pinhole camera. He place photographic paper inside, exposed it and processed it to turn out some seriously small black-and-white images. To truly understand the scale, look closely at Howerter’s image of a minifig holding up a pinhole photo showing a tree on the campus at Colorado State.

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This Lego brick is also a camera.

I’m wearin’ it! Survey shows users would buy wearable tech from McDonald’s – The future of wearable technology could involve strapping a few Big Macs to your body for convenient snacking. At least that’s one possible conclusion from a new survey on wearables from PricewaterhouseCoopers. One of the survey questions asked the 1,000 respondents how excited they’d be about wearables from various brands. While Apple unsurprisingly came out on top, the bottom of the list is much more interesting.

Study reveals sugar-filled soda ages you just like smoking does – Before you crack that next can of soda, you might want to think again. The results are in on a study that followed 5,309 adults for 14 years to see what, if any effect drinking sugary soda had on aging. The study conducted by University of California professor Elissa Epel indicates that high sugar consumption may result in increased aging in the same way regular smoking does. After analyzing the data, researchers found that people who drank one 8-oz serving per day (i.e. less than a standard 12-oz can) resulted in 1.9 years of additional aging. Consuming 20-oz each day caused about 4.6 extra years of aging, which the authors are keen to point out is the same seen in studies of smoking. Epel arrived at these estimates by tracking the length of telomeres in the participants’ cells.

Hungary’s Internet providers could soon be taxed per gigabyte – Internet usage is still mighty expensive in some regions, but all could pale in comparison to what residents in Hungary may soon be paying: the country is set to impose the first-ever tax on Internet usage, and it’s a hefty one. The announcement was made earlier today by the nation’s Minister for National Economy Mihaly Varga, and it has received harsh criticism from both locals and those abroad. Calls for protests have already happened, but as of right now, the measure is set to start in 2015.

Zuckerberg Wows Beijing Audience With Fluent Mandarin – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited Beijing this week, where he sat down for an interview at the Tsinghua University School of Economics, speaking to students and faculty members for 30 minutes. In Mandarin. That’s right, Zuck spoke for a half hour in front of an auditorium full of native speakers, conversing in Chinese the entire time.

This is how NASA banishes odors in space – How do space agencies keep the International Space Station from smelling like a sweaty locker room? NASA engineer Robert Frost and retired astronaut Clayton C. Anderson reveal a few secrets.

Something to think about:

“We all know that the beautiful dream of the internet as a totally ungoverned space was just that — a beautiful dream. Like all utopian visions, it was flawed because it failed to account for the persistence of the worst aspects of human nature”

-       Sir Iain Lobban, the departing director of GCHQ

Today’s Free Downloads:

Unchecky Beta 0.3.3 – Unchecky aims to keep potentially unwanted programs out of your computer.

Have you ever felt, while installing software, that the installer tries to push additional unwanted programs at all cost? Ever missed a checkbox, and spent hours afterwards removing adware? Ever opened your browser after an installation, only to find out that you have a new homepage, a new search engine, or even a new browser?

Nowadays it’s a reality that many software installations are bundled with potentially unwanted programs, such as toolbars or scareware system cleaners. If you’re a power user, you probably know that you have to be very careful while installing software, because if you miss a checkbox you might spend hours afterwards cleaning up the mess. If you’re an average PC user, you possibly leave everything by default, thus installing lots of additional unwanted programs without even knowing it.

Unchehky’s primary feature is automatic unchecking of unrelated offers, such as potentially unwanted programs, offers to change your homepage or your search engine. With Unchecky, these offers become opt-in instead of opt-out, i.e. they will be installed only if you explicitly choose you want them (you usually don’t).

Another important feature of Unchecky is that it warns when you accept a potentially unwanted offer. Installers often provide them as a natural part of the installation, so they can easily be accepted by mistake. With Unchecky, it’s less likely to accidentally accept such offers.

Unchecky is not an universal solution, and might not support installers which were not released yet. Thus, it’s worth noting that Unchecky updates automatically, so you don’t have to worry about running the latest version.

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Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool Beta – Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool for PC is a free app that identifies and removes unwanted apps such as adware, malicious hijacker programs, annoying toolbars and other browser add-ons. Keep the apps you like, get rid of the programs that bug you. The tool will only erase those apps that you wish to be removed. It scans your computer for adware, and produces a list of apps marked for removal.

App is portable, no install or uninstall needed.

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Advanced SystemCare 8 Free Beta 3.0 – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE! Study reveals sugar-filled soda ages you just like smoking does

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

After review, NSA’s CTO can no longer work part-time for agency’s former chief – A top National Security Agency official will no longer be moonlighting part-time with a private consulting firm run by former NSA chief Keith Alexander. The end of that arrangement comes days after the NSA said this particular work situation was “under internal review” due to potential conflicts of interest.

The private company at issue— IronNet Cybersecurity—was founded by Alexander, who ran the spy agency from August 2005 until March 2014. IronNet Cybersecurity offers protection services to banks for up to $1 million per month. Patrick Dowd, the NSA’s current chief technology officer, had been working with Alexander’s private venture for up to 20 hours per week.

It’s the second possible conflict of interest involving former NSA head Keith Alexander.

Reuters reported Tuesday that the deal was over. “While we understand we did everything right, I think there’s still enough issues out there that create problems for Dr. Dowd, for NSA, for my company,” Alexander said.

Hidden camera fingerprints link photos to individuals – Your camera’s digital sensor has a unique fingerprint. Due to minute manufacturing variations across millions of pixels, some pixels are consistently “hotter” or “cooler” than intended.

Signal processing algorithms can extract this unique Sensor Pattern Noise (SPN). Since each sensor is slightly different, the SPN is also different — and unique — a fact that has been known for almost ten years.

Recently researchers in Europe — see their paper (pdf) On the usage of Sensor Pattern Noise for Picture-to-Identity linking through social network accounts — took the next logical step in our social media-mad culture: exploiting SPN fingerprints to see if they could link social network accounts to specific cameras.

How this works: A lot of computing goes into digital images. The artifacts of these processes can identify a brand of camera, but only if the SPN is unique.

Here’s a diagram from the paper:

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 22, 2014

Microsoft warns of Windows zero-day;  Congress to the FBI: There’s ‘Zero Chance’ We’ll Force Apple to Decrypt Phones;  Five Free Mobile Apps Every IT Professional Needs;  18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try;  Three social media apps for scheduling and more;  Website blocking is not internet filtering: Australian government;  Stop typing and start dictating documents in Windows;  Free videoconferencing tools: 5 creative ways they can help you get things done;  Second-screen apps for every World Series fan;  Google launches support for Security Key;  Simpsons World app and website stream all 500+ episodes;  Xbox One’s new digital TV tuner lets you stream TV to a tablet or smartphone;  Watch the ‘First Real’ Hoverboard;  Junkware Removal Tool (free);  Avast Free Antivirus 2015.

Stop typing and start dictating documents in Windows – Just because you can’t type doesn’t mean you can’t create documents. All you need is a microphone for your PC and Microsoft Word to take the stress off your hands and start using your voice. Here’s how.

Five Free Mobile Apps Every IT Professional Needs – A slew of new apps have stepped up to capitalize on the flood of smartphones and tablets in the hands of IT managers and administrators – aiming to make the day-to-day work of IT professionals easier and more flexible. Here are a few great apps that IT pros will find useful at the office, on the road and everywhere in between:

18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try – Regardless of how you feel about it, Google Maps (and its cousin Google Earth) remain powerful and versatile tools—and most of us are only scratching at the surface of what they have to offer. (And we’re just talking about the Web version, the mobile incarnations are a whole other bag of magic.) Here, we present 18 cool things you didn’t know Google Maps could do. Click on through and experience just a little bit of the power of the everyday.

Collaborate for free with Annotate Attachments in Gmail – Gmail users who collaborate with coworkers should check out the free Annotate Attachments in Gmail extension for Chrome from Framebench. The utility lets you mark on email attachments right in the inbox. It’s easier to do with a touchscreen but works pretty well on Chromebooks and other laptops with touchpads.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Post like a pro: Three social media apps for scheduling and more – Managing your social media presence can be a full-time job—and an expensive undertaking. A host of products is available to help, but not every tool is right for everyone. Read on to learn about three apps that can help you post your content across various social networks, and, in some cases, a bit more.

PhotoMath on Windows Phone lets you solve math problems instantly – PhotoMath, a camera-based app on Windows Phone and iOS, utilizes photo recognition to instantly display the results of almost any mathematical expression you point your phone at.

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First major update to Windows 10 Preview, delivered through Windows Update – We’ve written before about Windows 10’s new updating policy, and today we’re seeing the real-world result for the first time. The Windows 10 Technical Preview, build 9849, is being updated to build 9860. That update will roll out automatically to members of the Windows Insider program, and it will be delivered through Windows Update. The operating system upgrade is a little more heavyweight than a regular hotfix; systems will need to reboot to finish installation, and Microsoft says that the reboot will take longer than normal.

ZOTAC unveils the ZBOX PI320, a $200 Windows 8.1 PC the size of a chunky smartphone – ZOTAC – who, you may remember, were among the first companies to sign up to Valve’s Steam Machines platform – has unveiled a new Windows PC that has the footprint of a smartphone, albeit with a body that’s a good deal thicker than most modern handsets. Nonetheless, the ZBOX PI320 packs plenty of specs into its tiny form factor, including a quad-core Intel Bay Trail Z3735F processor, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, three USB ports, full-size HDMI port, microSD slot, Ethernet port, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

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Homeboy WiFi camera cuts power cord with 3 month battery – WiFi cameras like Dropcam aren’t new, but while baking in wireless connectivity has helped cut one cord, they’ve always needed to be plugged into a power supply. Now, Homeboy claims to have severed that second tether, with its eponymous camera running on batteries and promising around three months of use from a single charge. That makes positioning all the easier, and Homeboy has taken advantage of that with a magnetic base that means the camera can be pointed in any direction or even hung upside-down from the ceiling.

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Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight Monitors Home Alarms From Afar – The Smart Alert Nightlight plugs into the wall and connects to your home Wi-Fi network using the Leeo app. The nightlight then “listens for the frequency and pattern of your existing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms” and sends an alert to your phone if they go off. It can also monitor climate for anything too hot or cold. The Smart Alert Nightlight also works as, well, a nightlight. Use your phone to set its brightness, or to go on at a certain time – illuminating your way to the bathroom or kitchen at night, for example. The plug-in Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight is on sale now for $99.

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Free videoconferencing tools: 5 creative ways they can help you get things done – A free videoconferencing tool belongs in any productivity kit, and not just for meetings. Used creatively, the combination of webcams and collaboration features can help you streamline other tasks and interactions in your workday, in ways you might never have considered.  Here are five extra ways you can put a free system to work for you.

Lowly DSL poised for gigabit speed boost – DSL was one of the first widely adopted technologies for bringing high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses, but it hasn’t been the fastest. That’s all changing. At the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam this week, several companies are announcing and demonstrating products that bring DSL — or digital subscriber line — into a future with a speed of 1 gigabit per second. That’s about 1,000 times the data-transfer speed the technology offered when it arrived in the late 1990s.

Second-screen apps for every World Series fan – The World Series has returned, with the San Francisco Giants set to battle the Kansas City Royals for baseball supremacy. And thanks to second-screen apps, you don’t have to be merely a passive viewer of the this year’s Fall Classic. These apps for your iPhone or iPad can enliven the experience, whether you’re watching on TV, streaming the games online—or you’re even lucky enough to attend in person.

Security:

Microsoft warns of Windows zero-day; hackers serve exploits in PowerPoint files – Microsoft on Tuesday warned Windows users that cyber criminals are exploiting a zero-day vulnerability using malicious PowerPoint documents sent as email attachments. In an advisory, Microsoft outlined the bug and provided a one-click tool from its “Fixit” line that customers can use to protect their PCs until a patch is available.

Flash vulnerability being exploited in large-scale attacks, mere days after patch – If you haven’t updated your Flash Player with the fixes released on Oct. 14, you may be vulnerable to new attacks using a commercial exploit kit called Fiesta, security researchers warn. The vulnerability, which is being tracked as CVE-2014-0569 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database, was fixed in Flash Player updates last week.

Google launches support for Security Key, a simpler kind of two-factor authentication – It just got a little easier to log into Gmail. Today, Google launched support for Security Key, an open standard that lets you log in to an account with a physical device, usually in the form of a USB. The device takes the place of the six-digit confirmation codes currently used by Google’s two-factor authentication. Instead of typing in the code, you’ll simply insert your USB key before logging in. A password is still required, so a thief wouldn’t be able to log into your account just by stealing your security key. On the other hand, if your account password ended up leaking onto the web, it would be useless without the corresponding security key.

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First man convicted in child predator sting with virtual girl Sweetie – An Australian man with previous child pornography charges is believed to have been the first convicted in an operation using a CGI child to lure predators.

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Company News:

Yahoo’s Minuscule Growth Enough to Exceed Expectations – Yahoo beat Wall Street estimates with $1.15 billion in third-quarter revenue, up from $1.14 during the same quarter last year. Surprising analysts is always nice, but the Internet search giant should be especially happy about the revenue bump, even if it is just a 1% increase. Sales had declined in four of the previous five quarters, including a 3% year-over-year drop in this year’s second quarter.

Google, Facebook continue massive lobbying efforts in Q3 – Google and Facebook continued to pour millions of dollars into federal political lobbying in the third quarter in attempts to influence U.S. lawmakers and have legislation written in their favor. Google spent $3.94 million between July and September while Facebook spent $2.45 million, according to disclosure data published Tuesday. The only tech-related company to outspend Google was Comcast, which is trying to convince politicians to look favorably on a merger with Time Warner and spent $4.23 million during the quarter. But Google stands as the largest spender in the entire tech industry to date this year.

More lawsuits over “no poach” deals get filed against Oracle, Microsoft – A class action lawsuit against Google, Apple, and other tech companies that struck deals to not “cold call” each other’s employees may be on the verge of wrapping up. Similar cases against Oracle and Microsoft have just been filed. The suit against Microsoft (PDF) says that in 2007, the company struck a deal with several other tech companies not to pursue employees who were at “manager level or above,” even if the candidate reached out.

Magic Leap Secures $542M Led By Google For “Lightweight Wearable” Tech That Merges Physical And Digital Worlds – It’s rare that a company can stay relatively secretive while raising a huge amount of funding, but Florida’s Magic Leap has managed that. The startup, led by CEO Rony Abovitz, announced today the close of its $542 million Series B, featuring investors led by Google, Inc., and including KPCB, Andreessen Horowitz, Obvious Ventures, Qualcomm and Legendary Entertainment.

Microsoft Drops Nokia Name, Sticks With ‘Lumia’ For Windows Phones – After a long and complicated relationship that first involved just a close partnership with Nokia handling hardware duties, and then Microsoft acquiring Nokia’s phone-making business during what appeared to be a fairly acrimonious separation, there will be no more confusion as to who’s making first-party Windows Phone hardware going forward: they’ll be called just “Microsoft Lumia” devices going forward. The rebranding will begin in France, according to The Verge, and then move around the world from there, and will apply across product branding, social media accounts and all online presence.

Verizon misses Q3 mark as it shrugs off rivals’ promotions – The carrier still managed to post strong customer growth, again driven largely by an increase in tablet sales.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One’s new digital TV tuner lets you stream TV to a tablet or smartphone – Microsoft announced its digital TV tuner back in August, and it’s finally going on sale in European countries today. The 29.99 EUR ($40) accessory plugs into a USB port on the Xbox One to pick up channels using free-to-air DVB-T, DVB-T2, and DVB-C television standards. This also enables the TV functionality on Xbox One along with TV listings from OneGuide. While recording isn’t supported yet, Microsoft is allowing Xbox One owners to pause live TV and rewind or fast-forward. The pausing works even if you switch back to a game. It’s not clear if the software maker plans to enable DVR functionality in future, but the pausing live TV temporarily uses part of the 500GB hard drive storage on the console

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Launch trailer for Xbox One exclusive ‘Sunset Overdrive’ released – “Sunset Overdrive” from Insomniac Games and Microsoft will be released for the Xbox One on Oct. 28, and the duo today released the final trailer for the game. A launch trailer highlights the game’s plot and humor, but it also gives a good look at the gameplay from various sections in “Sunset Overdrive.” The launch trailer follows commercials for the game that recently began airing on major networks.

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Indie game pulled off Steam after dev threatens Gabe Newell on Twitter – In a post on the Code Avarice blog, Mike Maulbeck announced that he is stepping down from the company, and has sold his interest in it to fellow developer Travis Pfenning. The move is an effort to convince Valve that it “has no reason to harbor any more ill will towards the company, and maybe even if we can’t see Paranautical Activity restored [to Steam], at least future Code Avarice games may be allowed onto the platform.” After apologizing again for his intemperate tweet, Maulbeck noted that “my temper and tendency to use twitter to vent has been a consistent problem since I entered the games industry, and I just can’t do it.

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Simpsons World app and website stream all 500+ episodes, but require a cable subscription – Fox was pleasantly surprised when its recent Simpsons marathon on extended cable channel FXX pulled in massive ratings. It turns out people are interested in watching at least some of the more than 500 episodes of The Simpsons that have been created in the past quarter century. In order to take proper advantage of that, a new FXX app is coming that will let you watch every single episode whenever you want. The catch? The FXX Simpsons World app will require a cable subscription.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Take an action flight over Paris on the back of an eagle – An eagle’s breathtaking flight at 180km/h over the City of Light has been captured by a Sony Action Cam attached to the bird’s back.

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The top 10 Dilbert cartoons, according to creator Scott Adams – The first syndicated comic that focused on the workplace, the exploits of the office everyman and his crew of incompetent colleagues never loses relevance.

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Why are some sugars sweeter than others? Chew on this – The American Chemical Society looks at why some foods taste sweet, and why some sweeteners are, well, sweeter than others.

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About GamerGate – If you’re sick of GamerGate, consider this a trigger warning. We’re entering month three of the controversy, and things aren’t getting any better. In fact, the whole issue seems to be increasing in frequency of mentions. It was on the front page of the New York Times the other day and your co-workers and relatives are going to start asking you about it because “You play games, right?” So now’s your time to ask away. Let’s get started.

IllumiBowl turns your toilet into a color-changing party light – If you install the colorful IllumiBowl light, it will look like someone’s hosting a party in your toilet.

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Watch the ‘First Real’ Hoverboard – The idea that a man or woman could someday glide effortlessly through the air has captured our imaginations ever since Michael J. Fox hopped on a hoverboard in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II. Now it’s even more so, thanks to the Hendo, touted as “the world’s first REAL hoverboard,” named after inventor Greg Henderson.

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Something to think about:

“To FBI Director Comey and the Admin on criticisms of legitimate businesses using encryption: you reap what you sow.”

-      California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avast Free Antivirus 2015 – Download.com Exclusive – Keep your system updated and protect it against the latest viruses and spyware with the new Avast Free Antivirus 2015, featuring Smart Scan. Avast Free Antivirus 2015 has added utilities to an already comprehensive set of security tools. The new Smart Scan detects vulnerabilities in your home network, checks for program updates, and fixes PC performance issues with just one click. Avast continues to improve its anti-malware protection, as well as making it easier to manage security for multiple devices via the Web client.

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Junkware Removal Tool – Junkware Removal Tool is a security utility that searches for and removes common adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) from your computer. A common tactics among freeware publishers is to offer their products for free, but bundle them with PUPs in order to earn revenue. This tool will help you remove these types of programs.

Junkware Removal Tool has the ability to remove the following types of programs:

Ask Toolbar

Babylon

Blekko

Claro / iSearch

Conduit

Crossrider

DealPly

Delta

Facemoods / Funmoods

Findgala

Globasearch

Hao123

iLivid

Iminent

IncrediBar

MocaFlix

MyPC Backup

MyWebSearch

PerformerSoft

Privitize

Qvo6

Searchqu

Snap Do

Swag Bucks

Wajam

Web Assistant

WhiteSmoke

Zugo

And many more…

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Congress to the FBI: There’s ‘Zero Chance’ We’ll Force Apple to Decrypt Phones – The FBI’s director wants Congress to force force Apple and Google to do away with default smartphone encryption. Congress, however, doesn’t look to be with him.

Last week, FBI director James Comey suggested that encryption “threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place” and suggested that if Apple and Google don’t remove default encryption from iOS and Android then “Congress might have to force this on companies.”

But years of National Security Administration surveillance and other privacy oversteps and surveillance creep by the federal government has lawmakers skittish to do anything that’ll be seen as expanding the surveillance state, even if Congress still isn’t ready to roll back the laws it already has on the books.

“To FBI Director Comey and the Admin on criticisms of legitimate businesses using encryption: you reap what you sow,” California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa tweeted. “The FBI and Justice Department must be more accountable—tough sell for them to now ask the American people for more surveillance power.”

Issa holds considerable power on such matters, and The Hill reported that other lawmakers have echoed his sentiments. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (a California democrat who has been staunchly anti surveillance for some years now) said that Comey’s proposal would have “zero chance” of passing; Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told the publication that he doubts more than “a handful” of lawmakers would support such a bill.

So, while it’s disappointing Congress won’t roll back NSA surveillance, it’s at least heartening to hear that Congress thinks that passing a bill like Comey has suggested would be political suicide.

Website blocking is not internet filtering: Australian government – Summary: The Department of Communications has argued that forcing ISPs to block certain websites under Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act is not a form of internet filtering.

Supreme Court to decide if cops can access hotel registries without warrants – The Supreme Court is weighing in on another Fourth Amendment privacy case, this one concerning a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotels to surrender guest registries to the police upon request without a warrant.

The justices agreed Monday to hear Los Angeles’ appeal of a lower court that ruled 7-4 that the law—meant to combat prostitution, gambling, and even terrorism—was unconstitutional. The law (PDF) requires hotels to provide the information—including guests’ credit card number, home address, driver’s license information, and vehicle license number—at a moment’s notice. Several dozen cities, from Atlanta to Seattle, have similar ordinances.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) welcomed the high court’s intervention in Los Angeles v. Patel.

“The Supreme Court will consider both the scope of privacy protections for hotel guests and also whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits laws that allow unlawful searches,” EPIC wrote. “The second issue has far-reaching consequences because many recent laws authorize the police searches without judicial review. Thus far, courts have only considered “as applied” challenges on a case-by-case basis.”

The appeal is the third high-profile Fourth Amendment case the justices have taken in three years.

More Crypto Wars II – FBI Director James Comey again called for an end to secure encryption by putting in a backdoor. Here’s his speech:

There is a misconception that building a lawful intercept solution into a system requires a so-called “back door,” one that foreign adversaries and hackers may try to exploit.

But that isn’t true. We aren’t seeking a back-door approach. We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law. We are completely comfortable with court orders and legal process — front doors that provide the evidence and information we need to investigate crime and prevent terrorist attacks.

Cyber adversaries will exploit any vulnerability they find. But it makes more sense to address any security risks by developing intercept solutions during the design phase, rather than resorting to a patchwork solution when law enforcement comes knocking after the fact. And with sophisticated encryption, there might be no solution, leaving the government at a dead end — all in the name of privacy and network security.

I’m not sure why he believes he can have a technological means of access that somehow only works for people of the correct morality with the proper legal documents, but he seems to believe that’s possible. As Jeffrey Vagle and Matt Blaze point out, there’s no technical difference between Comey’s “front door” and a “back door.”

Britain’s Intel Chief: Our Spies Would Rather Quit Than Do Mass Surveillance – GCHQ Director Sir Iain Lobban has continued to equivocate and dissimulate around the issue of surveillance in his valedictory speech, which he gave today ahead of his retirement at the end of this week.

Though the British intelligence agency is the NSA’s closest foreign partner in defending the West from critical threats to national security, Lobban neither mentioned Edward Snowden nor directly addressed the many allegations of mass snooping that have recently been levelled at the organisations. Instead, he chose to talk up the agency’s work against paedophiles, drug cartels, and terrorists, whilst defending GCHQ as a bastion of liberty.

However Snowden, the ex-NSA contractor who exposed the epic surveillance operations of intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, can’t have been far from Lobban’s mind. “The people who work at GCHQ would sooner walk out the door than be involved in anything remotely resembling ‘mass surveillance,” Lobban said.

But then Lobban described some of the work the agency carries out in a way many would deem as resembling exactly that. “We access the internet at scale so as to dissect it with surgical precision,” he said during his speech at the Churchill War Rooms in London. “You can’t pick and choose the components of a global interception system that you like—catching terrorists and paedophiles—and those you don’t—incidental collection of data at scale: it’s one integrated system.”

He claimed only a small percentage of global communications are within reach of the agency’s sensors and GCHQ only intercepts a small percentage of that. And of the data it intercepts, it stores only a “miniscule” amount for a limited period of time.

But Professor Ross Anderson, a long-time critic of the UK’s intelligence operations and head of cryptography at the University of Cambridge, said over email that Lobban’s definition of ‘mass surveillance’ is “nothing like yours or mine.”

“How come they collected over a million people’s Yahoo video chats, including a significant number of intimate chats?” Anderson asked. “There is no conceivable way that can be justified as targeted, proportionate or necessary. It fails the human rights test. It is mass surveillance.”

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 21, 2014

Six browser plug-ins that protect your privacy;  12 surprising ways personal technology betrays your privacy;  Meet Flic, the iOS photo manager for lazy people;  Office 16: Public beta could start soon;  8 ways Google is tying Chrome OS and Android together;  $179 10-inch Windows 8.1 tablet coming to Walmart;  How to Set Up Apple Pay on Your iPhone or iPad;  Six been-around-the-block tips for working more efficiently in Excel;  Gmail Android App to Support Yahoo, Outlook Accounts;  What’s in the hidden Windows AppData Folder;  Staples probes potential theft of customer credit card data;  Apple could sell record 62 million iPhones this quarter;  GTAV Beta scam: don’t get fooled;  Talk like a modern technology marketer (humor);  What can we learn from netbooks?  Candy Crush Soda Saga Arrives on Facebook;  System Explorer (free);  Australian government warrantless data requests pass 500,000;  Tech industry on the offensive against government.

12 surprising ways personal technology betrays your privacy – Our great privacy fears tend to be centered around others invading our privacy, whether it’s Google reading email, the boss monitoring your computer use, or the NSA eavesdropping on phone calls. The problem is, we don’t think about the very technologies we voluntarily embrace and what kind of snooping they do, and they do a lot of tracking. Some of it can and is used for benign or helpful reasons, but that can be turned against you very fast. Here are 12 ways your personal technology is betraying your privacy.

Six browser plug-ins that protect your privacy – Some plug-ins go beyond mere filtering, promising full-on privacy protection against cookies, trackers, third-party scripts and widgets, and other unwanted invasions. In this roundup I chose six products: AdBlock, Adblock Plus, Disconnect, DoNotTrackMe, Ghostery and Privacy Badger. There are dozens of other, similar, tools, but these represent a good cross-section of what’s available. They’re also among the most popular picks in the Chrome and Firefox extensions libraries.

Office 16: Public beta could start soon, with Android and touch versions to follow – The next version of Microsoft Office is reportedly on track for a spring 2015 launch, but Microsoft may offer a public beta much sooner. According to the well-connected Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft may launch a public test version of its desktop productivity software “any time now.” The company may also launch an Android tablet version of Office within a couple of months, and launch a touch-optimized Windows Store version in the spring.

Facebook sues lawyers of man who claimed to own the social network – Facebook says when Paul Ceglia claimed to own at least half of the world’s largest social network, at least one of his lawyers figured out he was lying. That’s the crux of a lawsuit filed by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company against DLA Piper, one of the world’s largest law firms, and several other lawyers connected to Ceglia and his claim that he owned 84 percent of Facebook.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

8 ways Google is tying Chrome OS and Android together – Chrome OS and Android are two separate and distinct operating systems, but the lines are beginning to blur, to the benefit of people who’ve gone all-in on Google.

$179 10-inch Windows 8.1 tablet coming to Walmart – The E Fun Nextbook will feature a quad-core Intel Atom processor and include a detachable keyboard when it becomes available in time for the holiday shopping season.

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Spotify’s Family plan offers separate accounts for everyone in your house – Tired of sharing your Spotify account with everyone at home, but don’t want to bother creating a second account? Pretty soon you won’t have to thanks to Spotify Family.

Meet Flic, the iOS photo manager for lazy people – People have been calling Flic the Tinder of photo apps, and that’s the perfect description: Use gestures to quickly clear out your Camera Roll and keep only the photos that matter.

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Six been-around-the-block tips for working more efficiently in Excel – Just because a tip has been used for a long time doesn’t mean it isn’t new to you. Learn a few of Susan Harkins’ old but reliable tips for working more efficiently in Excel.

Build polished business dashboards with these five web-based apps – Dashboards provide an effective way to present a focused look at selected data. Here are five tools that let you tap different data sources and quickly put together a custom dashboard.

Apple Pay: Your full list of stores, apps, and banks supporting it – Now that iOS 8.1 is here, so is Apple Pay! The update, which launched about 90 minutes ago (at the time we publish this article), brings in Apple Pay. For those with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you’ll get the ability to make purchases at several point-of-sale terminals via a myriad of banks (likely yours). For those without an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, Apple Pay is still usable. To help, we’ve put together a list of apps and stores where you can use Apple Pay.

How to Set Up Apple Pay on Your iPhone or iPad – Apple Pay, the newest “next big thing” out of Cupertino, hits shopping carts across the U.S. Monday both online and in stores. Paying with a swipe of your smartphone? That sounds like the stuff of the future. Or the stuff of Android phones since 2011. Or the stuff of Japan as far back as 2004. Regardless, it’s still a welcome leap for the 42.4% of American smartphone users who own an iPhone. Here’s how to set up Apple Pay, the company’s new cashless, cardless way to pay.

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Skype for Windows Phone Gets Snapchat-Like Drawing Feature – The Microsoft-owned chat service on Monday unveiled a new version of its Windows Phone app, complete with a brand new Snapchat-like drawing feature to help you harness your inner Picasso. With the latest version of the app, you can now draw on a blank canvas or add some silly additions to a photo, then share your masterpieces with friends.

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Google rolling out new anti-piracy search algorithm – Google will begin rolling out a change to its search algorithm that the media giant says will “visibly affect” rankings of piracy sites globally. The Mountain View, California company promised to do this in 2012. But at the time, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, and others said the changes to its search algorithm had “no demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy.” Google said the latest global algorithm changes, to roll out this week, will work.

Office Mix now lets PowerPoint users create on the fly – Microsoft wants to deliver a new wave of apps that are intuitive, intelligent, and mobile- and cloud-friendly—and its latest move is with Office Mix, a PowerPoint add-on aimed at teachers, for recording presentations and making them more interactive. Office Mix, launched in May, now lets presenters create “mixes” while they are giving their presentations live, by adding a new control panel that contains only the most essential features for building “mixes” without sacrificing the screen real estate for the slides the audience is seeing.

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Apple making 64-bit support mandatory soon – Your shiny new iPhone is about to get apps that work with it properly. Via the Apple Developer page, we find that starting early next year, all apps must have 64-bit support. Those apps must also be built with the latest Apple developer environment, and utilize the latest iOS SDK. It’s a push toward the future, but not one that should come as a surprise. Apple did the same thing with iOS 7, which was more a push for visual upgrades.

What’s in the hidden Windows AppData Folder, and how to find it if you need it – You know about Documents and other libraries. But some important data files are stored in the difficult-to-access AppData folder. Here’s what you need to know.

Report: Gmail Android App to Support Yahoo, Outlook Accounts – Support for Yahoo, Outlook, and other email providers within the Gmail app means you’ll soon be able to get all your mail without switching apps. Just like you can switch between different Gmail accounts within the email app, you’ll be able to move from Gmail to Yahoo to Outlook without leaving the Gmail app.

Security:

Staples probes potential theft of customer credit card data – Staples said late Monday that it is investigating a “potential issue” involving its customers’ credit card data in what could be the latest US retailer to fall victim to a payment card system security breach. The office supply chain announced it was working with law enforcement officials after security reporter Brian Krebs reported that “multiple banks” had identified patterns of payment card fraud that suggested data had been stolen from several locations in the Northeastern US.

FYI: OS X Yosemite’s Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you’re searching for – There’s growing disquiet over Apple’s desktop search app Spotlight, which sends queries for things back to the company’s servers to process. Spotlight phones home in OS X Yosemite, version 10.10, and it is enabled by default: it can be switched off, but with Apple insisting that it now takes people’s privacy seriously, the software has raised some eyebrows. It appears Spotlight sends queries, along with your location, back to Apple over the internet so the company can suggest related things from the web using Microsoft’s Bing engine. Apple says it needs to see your queries so it can improve Spotlight’s algorithms for suggesting things.

Apple clarifies Spotlight Suggestions data collection practices – Responding to concerns that Apple was automatically collecting user location and search query data through its latest Mac operating system, the company issued a statement Monday clarifying its customer data collection policies.

Chinese Big Brother launches nationwide attack on iCloud – The Great Firewall of China is the man-in-the-middle attack point targeting Chinese iCloud users by redirecting them to a fake iCloud site to hoover up usernames and passwords.

China again blames US for disrupted cybersecurity talks – China claimed on Sunday the U.S. has derailed cybersecurity cooperation between the two countries and that it doesn’t tolerate hacking. The statement came a day after Yang Jiechi, a state councilor who deals with foreign affairs, held discussions on Saturday in Boston with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on topics that included cybersecurity.

One of the most convincing phishing attacks yet tricks you with Dropbox sharing – Dropbox’s file storage service was used for a tricky phishing attack, although the service was quick to shut it down, according to Symantec. The security vendor said it detected a batch of phishing emails advising recipients that they’ve been sent a large file and included a link to Dropbox-hosted page. “The email claims the document can be viewed by clicking on the link included in the message,” wrote Nick Johnston of Symantec in a blog post. “However, the link opens a fake Dropbox login page, hosted on Dropbox itself.”

Cloud security: Think you’re blocking staff access to certain sites? Think again – Stopping staff using certain web services may be in decline outside regulatory environments, but even where it is being attempted it may be falling well short of its aims.

Company News:

Dish loses 7 channels in contract dispute with Turner Broadcasting – Dish Network customers lost access to CNN, Turner Classic Movies, and a handful of other channels late Monday as the result of a contract dispute with Turner Broadcasting. Turner Broadcasting, which licenses the channels for distribution to subscription services, pulled the channels from Dish’s lineup upon the expiration of its current deal with the satellite service after the two companies were unable to negotiate renewed distribution terms. Other channels removed from Dish include Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN en Espanol, Headline News, and truTV.

App Store Downloads Top 85 Billion, Revenue Up 36 Percent Year-Over-Year – Apple CEO Tim Cook announced today during the company’s FY Q4 2014 earnings call that Apple’s cumulative App Store downloads have now topped 85 billion up from 60 billion around a year ago. The number was announced alongside news of Apple’s massive quarter, and its record-breaking sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices.

Apple could sell record 62 million iPhones this quarter, analyst says – In an investors note released Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster forecast iPhone sales for the October-through-December quarter of anywhere from 56.7 million to 62.7 million. That range compares with overall Wall Street estimates of 60 million and some investor expectations as high as 63 million. The last quarter of the year is Apple’s first fiscal quarter, so these numbers actually mean Apple would start fiscal 2015 on a high note.

Lenovo tipped to make a bid for BlackBerry this week – Either Lenovo is very serious about stepping up its mobile phone business or it is getting very desperate. Aside from setting up a third mobile business to target China specifically, rumors are resurfacing that Lenovo is eying to buy BlackBerry out of its woes. Or perhaps the two moves are one and the same, which doesn’t make sense either. Whatever Lenovo has planned, we might very well know this week as sources close to the matter tip that Lenovo will be making an offer to buy BlackBerry sometime this week.

Qualcomm pushes 4K video streaming with prototype TV dongle – Qualcomm has a plan to liberate 4K video from high-end smartphones, and it involves a Chromecast-like prototype TV dongle. Qualcomm primarily sees the device as a way for users to beam homemade 4K video to their televisions, but it could eventually be used to stream 4K content from online sources such as Netflix. The dongle could also double as a wireless dock for phones and tablets, mirroring the display onto the big screen.

Yahoo’s Mayer set to outline her plan as criticism mounts – Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will defend herself and her strategy at a third-quarter investor conference call Tuesday, according to a new report. After Yahoo announces its third-quarter results that day, Mayer will take to the company’s earnings call to outline her plan for growth and announce that Yahoo is planning to make a major acquisition or two, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the chief executive’s plans.

Apple eyes $5 per month for Beats Music, report says – That’d be a substantial cut. Right now, Beats Music streaming costs $10 per month, in line with most other streaming services.

Games and Entertainment:

GTAV Beta scam: don’t get fooled – Over the past several weeks there’ve been an increased number of scams and phishing schemes showing up related to Grand Theft Auto 5. So very many of them have appeared, in fact, that RockStar Games are getting involved with massive warnings. What better way to continue fueling your own hype machine than by piggybacking on the mini-hype machines others are attempting to use to piggyback on you?

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343 Industries apologizes for Halo’s 20GB day-one content update – On November 11 Microsoft and 343 Industries will launch the Halo: Master Chief Collection for Xbox One. It brings together the first four Halo games, multiplayer modes, and additional content, as well as unlocking access to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta. However, there’s a feature of the release that not all gamers are going to appreciate, and it takes the form of a day-one 20GB content download. 20GB is a lot of data, but an amount most gamers will be able to cope with hopefully without incurring a charge. But let’s not forget those who have chosen to purchase a digital copy of the game. Come release day they’ll be waiting for 65GB of data to download.

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Xbox One to get custom backgrounds and many more features with November update – Microsoft has published a list of updates that are coming to the Xbox One as part of the November update and they include personalization, TV enhancements, IE updates and more.

‘Candy Crush Soda Saga’ Arrives on Facebook – Game maker King today launched a new reason to ignore your family and friends: Candy Crush Soda Saga. The sister title to everyone’s favorite time waster, Candy Crush Soda Saga is set in the familiar Candy Kingdom, but boasts new graphics, games modes, candy combinations, and gameplay mechanisms. Designed to be played alongside the original game, this installation promises fresh challenges for even those players who’ve managed to fight their way to the end of the original Candy Crush Saga.

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Pokémon teams up with manga horror legend Junji Ito to ruin your childhood – One of the world’s finest creators of comic book horror has teamed up with The Pokémon Company for a special “scary” collaboration.

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Lionsgate streaming service to join HBO and CBS in 2015 – The studio behind The Hunger Games is set to join CBS and HBO in their efforts to add a streaming service to the masses. This is Lionsgate Films, and they’re being joined in their efforts by Tribeca Enterprises. This service will be launched in the first half of next year, and it’ll be called – oddly enough – “Tribeca Short List.” This service will include John Wick, Crash, Monster’s Ball, The Hurt Locker, Juno, Ender’s Game, and Snitch. And don’t forget The Expendables – and a whole lot more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Talk like a modern technology marketer (humor) – Made-up words were in abundance during this fall’s software conference season. Your dauntless reporter traveled the world to bring back the latest in tech marketing speak. If you want to sound like you’re current with today’s dubious jargon, here’s a quick primer to get you all caught up.

DDoS Attacks: Legitimate Form of Protest or Criminal Act? – A basic premise of a democratic society gives its citizens rights to participate in debate and effect change by taking to the streets to demonstrate. In the U.S., this is enshrined in the Bill of Rights under the First Amendment. But what happens when we all effectively live, work, shop, date, bank and get into political debates online? Because online, as Molly Sauter points out in her book The Coming Swarm, there are no streets on which to march. “Because of the densely intertwined nature of property and speech in the online space, unwelcome acts of collective protest become also acts of trespass.” Sauter argues that distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are a legitimate form of protest. Or at least one that needs to be examined in a larger context of lawful activism, rather than hastily and disastrously criminalized under the Patriot Act.

Man falls into sea on live TV while possibly taking selfie – A man lifts his cell phone in front of his face to take the perfect shot. And then, a YouTube-worthy calamity.

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Professor Wozniak takes on new role at Australian university – Sydney’s University of Technology has a new teacher, with Steve Wozniak taking on his first ever adjunct professorship and being dubbed “the coolest person in the universe” in the process.

John Oliver’s all-dog Supreme Court on ‘Last Week Tonight’ is hilarious and free for anyone to remix – Comedian newscaster John Oliver has aired some hilarious and incisive sketches so far throughout the first season of his HBO show, Last Week Tonight. But there’s a new top dog among them: last night’s bit featuring an all-animal Supreme Court. Inspired by Keyboard Cat, the sketch — which features dogs as the nine justices, a duck as an assistant, and a pitch-perfect pecking chicken as a stenographer — is meant to mock the absurdity of the US Supreme Court’s refusal to allow its proceedings to be televised, despite permitting audio recordings.

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What can we learn from netbooks? – From 2007 to 2009, we saw the rise of the low-powered, dirt-cheap netbook. Today these clunky computers are frequently mocked — but they did teach us a lesson.

Monica Lewinsky joins Twitter – Describing herself as a social activist, public speaker and contributor to Vanity Fair, Lewinsky decides now is the time to enter the fray of immediacy.

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Something to think about:

“Only sick music makes money today.”

-      Friedrich Nietzsche  (1844 – 1900)

Today’s Free Downloads:

AdwCleaner – AdwCleaner is a program that searches for and deletes Adware, Toolbars, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), and browser Hijackers from your computer.

By using AdwCleaner you can easily remove many of these types of programs that intefere with your computers normal operations and get a better user experience particularly while browsing the web.

AdwCleaner specializes in removing:

- Adware: Programs which have been installed that are running unwanted advertisements on your system.

- PUP’s or Potentially Unwanted Program

- Toolbars

- Hijacker Home page, browser and advertisment hijackers.

For help using AdwCleaner check out our Malware removal guides or ask for help in our Majorgeeks Support Forums.

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WinMend Folder Hidden – WinMend Folder Hidden is a file / folder hiding tool. While ensuring the absolute system safety, this application can quickly hide files and folders on local partitions and/or on removable devices. The hidden files / folders will be safely hidden whether the drive is accessed in another operating system on the same computer or reinstalled on another computer.

You can set a password for this application. Hidden data can be displayed and unhidden only when the user enters the valid password. The data is completely invisible to other programs or on other operating systems.

Features:

Safety First:

The hiding technology will never damage any file data. It is safe and reliable.

High-Speed Hiding and Unhiding:

Whether it’s a file of dozens of GB, or a folder containing a lot of files, the file or the folder can be hidden and unhidden instantly.

Removable Drives Are Supported:

Files and folders on removable drives such as USB drives hidden by WinMend Folder Hidden are invisible not only in the computer where the hiding was completed, but in any computer.

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System Explorer – Detailed informations about Tasks, Processes, Modules, Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services, Drivers, Connections and Opened Files. Portable version also available.

System Explorer is free, awards winning software for exploration and management of System Internals. This small software includes many useful tools which help you Keep Your System Under Control. With System Explorer You get also fast access to File Database which help you to determine unwanted processes or threats. System Explorer is translated into 21 languages and is available for download in installer and portable version.

Features:

Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Australian government warrantless data requests pass 500,000 – Requests from government agencies for Australian telecommunications customers’ phone, internet, and address data surpassed 500,000 in the last financial year, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The figure was revealed in the ACMA’s annual report (PDF) released this month. It says that there were 563,012 authorisations granted to government agencies for access to telecommunications “metadata” in the 2013-14 financial year.

Under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, government agencies can force telecommunications companies to hand over details about their customers, including address, phone number, IP address, call data, SMS data, and other held information without a warrant for the purpose of enforcing the law.

The ACMA recorded that total disclosures amounted to 748,079 for the financial year including to law enforcement for a range of reasons, such as to avert a threat to life, assist the ACMA, or enforce the criminal law of a foreign country.

The number of requests by far exceeds the more than 300,000 requests made in the 2012-13 financial year reported by the Attorney-General’s Department in its Telecommunications (Interception and Access) report last year. The report for this year has yet to be tabled in parliament.

Tech industry on the offensive against government – In 2008 the U.S. government threatened Yahoo with daily $250,000 fines if it refused to comply with its demands for user data. What was Yahoo to do? Without any relief from the (secret) courts it had either to comply or commit corporate suicide. And we didn’t find out about it until just a few weeks ago.

Things have changed a lot. The biggest companies in the business are taking on the national security state. It began with court maneuvers by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Facebook to protect their reputations with customers by allowing them to disclose aggregate information about the extent of their compliance with government information requests.

The FISA court has permitted some, though not enough disclosure. The numbers these companies actually released don’t prove a lot, because the court would not allow them to disclose all important categories of government requests. The important part is that it shows the companies are taking their customers’ interests seriously and are working to protect them to the greatest extent possible. Assume this is the norm, such as in this recent letter from Facebook to the US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) telling them that they are obligated to follow Facebook’s terms of service the same as everyone else, and they are not permitted to use fake profiles in investigations.

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News