Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 9, 2014

18 apps for Mom on Mother’s Day;  How to move your OneDrive local storage to another drive;  Back that app up: 5 great backup utilities for Android; Smartphone app predicts bipolar mood swings;  IObit Advanced Mobile Care (free);  Yahoo: Update your browser or be switched to basic email;  Adobe Voice for iPad Makes Your Stories into Cool Video Animations;  Snapchat Settles With FTC After Being Dishonest With Users About Privacy;  Anti-surveillance mask lets you pass as someone else.

18 apps for Mom on Mother’s Day – Your mother loves you, but she probably counted the days ’til you turned 18. So, in honor of Mother’s Day — coming up May 11 — we have 18 iOS and Android apps. Treat yourself and your mama to some handy, affordable tools that every mother should have. And for gifts with power buttons, check out CNET’s Mother’s Day Tech Gift Guide for cameras, wearable tech, home theater, and more.

How to move your OneDrive local storage to another drive – With Microsoft’s recent release of Windows 8.1, the cloud-storage service formerly known as SkyDrive officially became OneDrive. And it remains tightly integrated with the OS. So integrated, in fact, that it syncs your cloud files to your hard drive, and vice-versa. That’s a handy feature, to be sure, but what happens if you’re running out of space on that local drive? This can definitely be a problem for anyone with, say, a Surface or similar tablet, or a laptop with a small solid-state drive. Fortunately, it’s a simple matter to relocate OneDrive’s local storage to another storage device, thereby freeing up critical space.

Smartphone app predicts bipolar mood swings – An essential part of managing bipolar disorder — which is characterised by dramatic mood swings between manic energy and depressive apathy — is being able to predict when those changes will occur, and act accordingly. An experimental new smartphone app called PRIORI could offer an non-intrusive way to manage the condition. Developed by a team at the University of Michigan’s Depression Center, the app runs in the background, automatically kicking in to monitor the user’s voice patterns, whether it be a normal phone conversation or a scheduled weekly call with their care team.

Yahoo: Update your browser or be switched to basic email – Yahoo on Thursday told users of its email service that they’ll need to use the most recent iteration of their web browsers, or else they’ll be automatically switched to a more bare-bones version of the service. Specifically, that means upgrading to the two most recent versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari by June 5. If users don’t want to make the switch, they’ll only be given access to Yahoo’s Basic Mail, which does not include spell-check, integration with Yahoo’s Messenger chat service, or customizable themes. Yahoo notes that people running IE 8 — a browser that is now 5 years old — will be most widely affected.

Back that app up: 5 great backup utilities for Android – You try to stifle back a tear as you pick up your phone, noticing just how broken it really is. Suddenly, all of the good times you’d had together flash before your eyes. You and your partner in crime… and now it’s gone. Most of the applications you’ll find below are capable of doing much more than just backing up and restoring applications. To keep things simple, I’ll be discussing how easy it is to back up and restore applications first and foremost, and go on to more notable features from there.

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Frontback turns your selfies into mini stories – Frontback is a social photo app that takes advantage of your phone’s front and back cameras. It snaps a photo with each back to back, and stitches them together in a two-photo collage. That way, each selfie you take gives a little insight as to where you are and what you’re looking at, or what else is around you.

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PBS App Lets Parents Monitor Screen Time – The PBS Kids Super Vision app for on iPhone and iPod touch devices lets you see what your kids are watching, playing, and learning on the PBS Kids website. It will also help you build on that learning when your child steps away from the screen by offering educational tips and activity ideas that are related to their interests.

ZTE selling $99 Open C in US and Europe with new release Firefox OS 1.3 – Mozilla’s freshly updated Firefox OS 1.3 is running on ZTE’s dual-core Open C, which launched today on eBay at $99 for consumers in the US, Russia, and across Europe. The new ZTE Open C, the successor to last year’s $80 Firefox OS-based ZTE Open, comes with a slightly larger four-inch display, a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor, and a 1,400mAh battery. It’s also kitted with a three-megapixel camera, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of on board storage.

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Anti-surveillance mask lets you pass as someone else – Uncomfortable with surveillance cameras? “Identity replacement tech” in the form of the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic gives you a whole new face.

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Adobe Voice for iPad Makes Your Stories into Cool Video Animations – Creating a slick animated video to tell a story is usually requires knowledge of video editing and some good quality audio equipment, but Adobe’s new Voice app for iPad helps automate the process. With Adobe Voice, you can tell your story using lovely images and animations with no special training at all.

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Six tips for supporting successful meetings with Google Apps – If you rely on paper to run your meetings, you spend time — and money — printing and distributing the documents. However, Google Apps offers a better alternative: go digital. Eliminate your printing and distribution costs for meeting materials. For some meetings, you might not need separate documents for an agenda, minutes, and support materials. A single Google Doc may be all you need. The document might identify the agenda, expand to include support information (or links) during the meeting, and document key learnings or decisions. Here are six tips to make this work.

Chromebook overload! A simple guide to all the new stuff ahead – With all the new Chrome OS devices on the horizon right now, trying to wrap your head around everything is enough to make you dizzy — so let’s simplify things a bit, shall we

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Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook

OMsignal Smart T-Shirts Track Health, Fitness Stats – Just slip on a Biometric Smartwear shirt, and the embedded health sensors will measure your activity, physiological stress, and fitness levels, and display the results in real time on your smartphone. The iOS companion app translates your “bio-signal” to tell you when you’ve reached peak heart rate, or need to breathe deeper. It can also measure one workout against another, helping you track weekly goals.

10 super-handy IFTTT recipes for Android – The official IFTTT app was finally released on Android a few weeks ago, and that means a host of new cloud-power automation actions are possible on Android. The iOS IFTTT app includes a just few options for controlling the device, but Android allows apps to toggle settings, send messages, and upload content in the background. This makes the IFTTT app on Android incredibly powerful. Let’s check out some of the coolest things you can do with it right now.

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DDR4 memory for desktops expected to arrive in third quarter – For gamers and desktop users looking to shift to the new DDR4 memory as quickly as possible, the wait will end in the third quarter this year. Crucial expects to ship new DDR4 memory for both servers and desktops around the same time in the third quarter, said Michael Moreland, worldwide product marketing manager at Crucial. New DDR memory is usually shipped first for servers and then for desktops, but that trend will change with DDR4, which has been under development for more than five years. PCs will be faster and more power efficient with DDR4, which provides 50 percent more memory bandwidth than DDR3 and 35 percent more power savings.

Yahoo yanks anti-abortion ads for violating its policies – After Google wiped several ads that discouraged women from having abortions because they violated the company’s advertising policies, Yahoo now does the same.

How to stash secret messages in tweets using point-and-click steganography – Steganography is going mainstream with a service that embeds hidden messages inside more or less ordinary Twitter messages. Users need only type the text they want others to see in one field and the hidden message in a separate field. The service, created by New Zealand-based developer Matthew Holloway, then spits out a tweetable message that fuses the two together in a way that’s not noticeable to the human eye. Take the following tweet:

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California Senate approves smartphone ‘kill-switch’ bill – After failing in the state Senate two weeks ago, a bill requiring that device makers include antitheft software on phones sold in the state passes muster.

PayForYourPorn: Adult content industry launches campaign against piracy in porn – The new #PayForYourPorn campaign has the support of many adult movie stars, including performer and ‘sex educator’ Jessica Drake, as The Guardian reports. “I can speak first hand about the very real effects of piracy on the entertainment industry and the economy,” said Drake. “Piracy is a very serious criminal activity. Theft is also a violation of personal consent and ethics.” Porn publisher Adult Empire is a major backer of what the company’s Megan Wozniak calls a “grassroots campaign” to convince users that free porn is harming the industry. The campaign is necessary, she says, because “unfortunately, porn still has a stigma attached to it, so we know that we won’t ever receive help or support from legislatures.”

Raspberry Pi: 10 fun and fantastic mods – While the Pi was designed to get kids coding, the appeal of the credit card-sized machine wasn’t restricted to the classroom, with hackers and modders of all ages building some intriguing homespun creations around the boards. Here are some of their latest and greatest creations that hobbyists and enthusiasts have cooked up using the Pi, and if you want even more check the Raspberry Pi blog.

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Security:

Dropbox and Box leak files in security through obscurity nightmare – Box and Dropbox have fallen victim to an exploit that allows privately shared files to be read, due to poor security practices and poor design choices in browsers.

Microsoft to release two critical and six important security updates May 13 – Last week, Microsoft released an out-of-schedule security update for all supported versions of Internet Explorer, including one for Windows XP. Next week, the regularly scheduled monthly patches for Microsoft’s products will resume with a total of eight security updates. Microsoft has released a summary of what it will release on Tuesday, May 13th, otherwise known as “Patch Tuesday.” Six of the updates are labeled by the company as “Important” and the other two have been determined to be “Critical” patches.

Bitly shortens life of users’ passwords after credential compromise: OAuth tentacles mean it’s time to change ANOTHER password – URL-shortening and online marketing outfit Bit.ly has warned its systems have been accessed by parties unknown and suggested users change their passwords. In an advisory visible here, the service says “We have reason to believe that Bitly account credentials have been compromised” but that “We have no indication at this time that any accounts have been accessed without permission.” The company also swears it has “… already taken proactive measures to secure all paths that led to the compromise and ensure the security of all account credentials going forward.”

France’s Orange experiences second data breach in less than three months – Orange has reported that around 1.3 million users of its online website have been exposed to personal data theft. The data compromised in the breach includes: telephone numbers, date of births, and email addresses. Stephane Richard, CEO of Orange, has promoted the importance of maintaining the privacy of its customers data. Although signing a charter on data protection in November, Orange has experienced two breaches in less than three months. The first breach occurred in February with nearly 800,000 clients being compromised.

SATCOM terminals ripe for malware exploitation – An IOActive researcher has found SATCOM terminals ripe for exploitation. Learn which ones, what’s being done to rectify the situation, and what you can do in the meantime.

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Company News:

Snapchat Settles With FTC After Being Dishonest With Users About Privacy – Snapchat has entered into a consent decree with the FTC to address concerns over the company’s privacy policy, app description, and in-app notifications after the ephemeral messaging service was at the center of a huge data breach last year, exposing 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers. According to the FTC, the security breach was in direct contradiction to promises made by the service around security and disappearing messages.

UK retailer Tesco to launch a smartphone later in 2014 – Tesco, the huge UK retailer, is planning to launch its own smartphone sometime later this year. The news was first revealed by the BBC in an interview with the company’s CEO Philip Clarke. Clarke made the announcement during an interview with the BBC Radio 5′s Wake Up To Money program. He claimed the smartphone would use Google’s Android OS and be a high end device along the lines of Samsung’s Galaxy S5 but would be aggressively priced. The smartphone would also have a number of pre-installed apps that would connect to Tesco services. Other details about the phone, such as hardware specs and a price tag, have yet to be revealed.

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Router company Mediabridge banned from Amazon after harassing customer – Mediabridge responded to a negative review by sending a threatening email to the reviewer, but it backfired when the reviewer posted it to reddit, prompting Amazon to revoke their selling privileges.

Nvidia beats estimates as it expands into the cloud – Nvidia exceeded Wall Street estimates for both profits and revenue, citing a greater takeup of its graphics chips in both traditional PCs and in new markets like data centers.

Sprint may start throttling its biggest data users – Sprint subscribers are facing new limits on their supposedly unlimited data plans, at least in congested areas. The top 5 percent of data users may now get slower speeds during peak usage times, according to the legal and regulatory section of Sprint’s website. Speeds will return to normal when users leave a congested area or when demand subsides. Sprint’s prepaid Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile brands have similar stipulations on their own sites, and some Virgin subscribers have started receiving notifications about the change in policy, according to FierceWirelessTech.

Games and Entertainment:

Epic announces crowdsourced dev model for next Unreal Tournament – It’s been a long six-and-a-half years since we’ve gotten a new Unreal Tournament game (not counting expansion packs), but today marks the beginning of the end for that wait. Epic announced that work on a new game, simply titled Unreal Tournament, begins today for PC, Mac, and Linux, and the process will heavily involve participation from the modding and player community from the get go.

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Console versions of Elder Scrolls Online delayed “about six months” – In a statement released today, Bethesda said that development on the console versions has been “progressing steadily” but that the company is “still working to solve a series of unique problems specific to those platforms.” Specifically, “integrating our systems with each console manufacturer’s networks—which are both different from the PC/Mac system as well as different from each other—has been a challenging process.”

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Titanfall video shows new Swamplands level being built – If you’ve ever wondered how a video game was put together, the team behind the Titanfall: Expedition expansion pack have given a rare look at what goes into making a level. What starts with basic geometry quickly evolves into a world of shadows, lighting, and haze.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Japanese Man Arrested For Printing His Own Revolvers – Police arrested a 27-year-old university official from Kawasaki City, Yoshitomo Imura, after he posted a video of himself firing a 3D-printed six shooter called the Zig Zag revolver. Imura was employed at the Shonan Institute of Technology and owned a $500 home 3D printer.

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Amazon granted patent for taking photos against a white background – seriously: US Patent Office credibility approaching zero – You sometimes have to wonder if the US Patent and Trademark Office is augmenting its staff with a few barely trained gibbons – and its latest patent does nothing to ameliorate that view. On March 18, the USPTO granted a patent to Amazon for photographing people and products against a white background. To answer your next question; yes, really. US Patent 8,676,045 grants Amazon sole rights to “Studio arrangement”, and lists in intricate detail how you can take an image on a white background using arrangements of lights, background materials, and a camera.

iPhone users are wine-drinking frequent fliers (Android users take the bus, eat McDonald’s) – Can you identify their tendencies, proclivities, and even political opinions? Researchers have long attempted to separate iPhone users from Android by suggesting all sorts of parameters. There was a 2011 study that suggested Android users were sad hicks and iPhone users rich girls. Another study in the same year offered that Android users “hate Apple.” Now along comes a new research piece that describes iPhone users as wine-sipping frequent fliers and Android users as Big Mac-chewing bus-hoppers.

Vibram agrees to class action settlement, will offer partial refunds to toe-shoe buyers – Do your shoes have individual toes? If not, you are missing out on a plethora of health benefits related to reducing injury and improving strength. Well, that was the claim made by Vibram that got it in hot water with consumers a few years ago. A class action lawsuit against the maker of FiveFingers running shoes has been settled, and consumers will soon be able to seek reimbursement for being overcharged.

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US officials vote to allow Bitcoin for political donations – The US Federal Election Commission (FEC) has officially approved Bitcoin as a medium of exchange for political donations. The Thursday ruling will allow Bitcoin holders to legally donate the digital currency to politicians, either when exchanged through a processor or transferred directly to a candidate – although the payments must then be processed and accounted for in accordance with FEC regulations. The ruling was handed down by the commission in a case proposed by Make Your Laws, a nonpartisan political action committee that wanted to allow its members to donate money via Bitcoin. (Totally shocking – politicians vote to accept money!   :)   )

Left hand – Meet right hand….

Bitcoin lacks ‘credibility and trust,’ U.S. says SEC – The agency issued a lengthy warning to investors on Wednesday about risks it sees in bitcoin and virtual currencies, much of which has been already iterated by bitcoin advocates or other regulators. But the SEC, which is the top regulator for U.S. securities markets, also took a dig at bitcoin’s short existence as another negative. “As a recent invention, Bitcoin does not have an established track record of credibility and trust,” the agency wrote in its advisory.

Poll links “frequent” US gamers to libertarian political stances – The random-call phone poll focused on the 16 percent of its 2,014 American respondents who self-identified as “frequent” gamers. When asked to identify their political affiliation, the gamers were more likely to call themselves independent (55 percent) versus non-gamers (41 percent), while fewer called themselves Republican (15 percent of gamers versus 26 percent of non-gamers). Both populations were relatively even about identifying as Democrat, though independent gamers were more likely to lean Democrat when pressed to pick a side. In addition, the gamers were much more likely to describe themselves as liberal than non-gamers (32 vs. 21 percent), and less likely to describe themselves as conservative (17 vs. 33 percent)

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Powdered-alcohol creator shares ‘the truth about Palcohol’ – The creator of “Palcohol” gives a full-throated defense of the powdered alcohol, and a demonstration, in response to criticism and calls to ban the product.

Something to think about:

“The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”

-    H. L. Mencken

Today’s Free Downloads:

IObit Advanced Mobile Care – Advanced Mobile Care is an all-in-one Android security and performance optimization app that performs real-time virus scans while also featuring a brand new Anti-theft, powerful Game Speeder, Battery Saver, App Manager, Task Killer, Privacy Locker, Privacy Advisor and Cloud Backup. With its sleek design and powerful features, Advanced Mobile Care gives Android users an excellent way to protect their smartphones from Android security and performance problems. With Advanced Mobile Care, your device will receive automated protection and system tune-ups like Malware Removal, Privacy Protection, and Operating System Cleaning in addition to an extensive toolbox of system utilities.

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Quantum Rush – Quantum Rush is an action packed futuristic online racing game. This special genre has been neglected for too long, now it’s time for Quantum Rush!

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Warsow – Warsow is set in a futuristic cartoonish world where rocketlauncher-wielding pigs and lasergun-carrying cyberpunks roam the streets. It is a completely free, fast-paced first-person shooter for Windows. Speed and movement is what Warsow is all about. Like a true cyberathlete you jump, dash, dodge, and walljump your way through the game. Grab power-ups before your enemy does, plant a bomb before anyone sees you, and steal the enemy’s flag before they know what is going on! Our goal is to offer a fast and fun competitive first-person shooter without hard graphical violence – Warsow has no blood or guts flying around. Red stars instead of blood indicate hits and colored cubes replace guts as gib effects.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Keith Alexander Unplugged: on Bush/Obama, 1.7 million stolen documents and other matters – The just-retired long-time NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, recently traveled to Australia to give a remarkably long and wide-ranging interview with an extremely sycophantic “interviewer” with The Australian Financial Review. The resulting 17,000-word transcript and accompanying article form a model of uncritical stenography journalism, but Alexander clearly chose to do this because he is angry, resentful, and feeling unfairly treated, and the result is a pile of quotes that are worth examining, only a few of which are noted below:

AFR: What were the key differences for you as director of NSA serving under presidents Bush and Obama? Did you have a preferred commander in chief?

Gen. Alexander: Obviously they come from different parties, they view things differently, but when it comes to the security of the nation and making those decisions about how to protect our nation, what we need to do to defend it, they are, ironically, very close to the same point. You would get almost the same decision from both of them on key questions about how to defend our nation from terrorists and other threats.

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The almost-complete continuity between George W. Bush and Barack Obama on such matters has been explained by far too many senior officials in both parties, and has been amply documented in far too many venues, to make it newsworthy when it happens again. Still, the fact that one of the nation’s most powerful generals in history, who has no incentive to say it unless it were true, just comes right out and states that Bush and The Candidate of Change are “very close to the same point” and “you would get almost the same decision from both of them on key questions” is a fine commentary on a number of things, including how adept the 2008 Obama team was at the art of branding.

New guidelines outline what iPhone data Apple can give to police – We’ve known (or suspected) for some time that Apple can provide data from iOS devices to US law enforcement, whether that data is stored on Apple’s iCloud servers or on a password protected phone or tablet. In an effort to be more transparent about this process, Apple yesterday posted an extensive document describing what data the company can provide to law enforcement and the processes for requesting that data.

The document outlines two basic types of data: information stored on Apple’s servers and information stored locally on iOS devices. Information on Apple’s servers includes both data associated with your Apple ID—your basic contact information, customer service records, your transaction history both in Apple’s retail stores and in the online iTunes and App Stores, and iTunes gift card information—and data associated with your iCloud account. All account data stored on Apple’s servers is obtainable “with a subpoena or greater legal process.”

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Another U.S. House committee votes to end NSA bulk collection – One day after the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records, a second committee has approved the same bill.

The House Intelligence Committee, in closed session, voted to approve the USA Freedom Act Thursday instead of advancing the committee’s own NSA reform bill. Many privacy groups had criticized the Intelligence Committee bill, called the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act, saying it would have made minimal changes to the NSA’s mass collection of U.S. telephone records.

Instead, the Intelligence Committee, by voice vote, approved the USA Freedom Act, which would require the NSA to get case-by-case court approval before collecting the telephone or business records of any U.S. resident.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the USA Freedom Act by a 32-0 vote on Wednesday.

Canada: Privacy watchdog calls for reforms but ministers stay silent – The federal privacy watchdog’s concerns over electronic snooping are being met with silence from members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet. Interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier directly appealed to four cabinet ministers and the federal government’s chief bureaucrat to reform Ottawa’s electronic snooping practices between February and March. Only one cabinet minister, Treasury Board President Tony Clement, has responded to Bernier’s letter.

“We are hopeful that we may be heard,” Bernier told the Star.

“I have written to every minister that has one of (our) recommendations directly within their field of competence . . . (saying), ‘I would like to hear how you would address this recommendation.’ ”

Bernier’s requests, stemming from her January special report, include:

Asking Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson to broaden oversight for Canada’s spy agencies, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

Requesting the Clerk of the Privy Council, Wayne Wouters, release an overview detailing Canada’s security and intelligence operations, as well as describe underlying processes of intelligence gathering and internal controls. Bernier also suggested the PCO should clarify the relationship between Canadian spies and their international partners.

Suggesting Nicholson should have CSE produce annual statistics in aiding other law enforcement agencies, as well as an annual report to Parliament.

Asking MacKay to reform existing privacy laws to curb over-collection of personal data, and to control its disclosure.

MacKay, Nicholson, and Wouters have yet to respond to the requests. Blaney’s office said they received the letter only after being contacted by the Star and following up with the commissioner, and they intend to respond in turn. MacKay and Wouters have also indicated they intend to respond, but declined to say when.

(I’ve made this point previously, but it’s worth repeating. Canada is on an increasing slippery slope toward a full dictatorship. When a parliamentary system can be, and has been, hijacked by a criminal political party, this statement is not hyperbole.

As a matter of interest – I am one of those Canadians who is monitored on a regular basis by the RCMP, CSIS (Canada’s CIA), and on occasion, by the PMO (Prime Ministers Office – among other official, or semi-official, fascist leaning “public servants.” )

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4 Comments

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

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 9, 2014

  1. q6b6

    Forget the issue of paying for it. Pornography is wrong. A person is a person and not an object for your lusts.

    • Hi q6b6,

      Agreed – A person is a person and not an object for your lusts. Still, how one defines pornography, at a personal level, has raged in debate for centuries.

      Personally, I choose not to define porn on behalf of someone else, nor do I attempt to impose my views on others.

      I agree in principle with Potter Stewart – Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States – who famously remarked – “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…” I find it most appropriate that Stewart choose to emphasize – “perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.”

      He went on to say, in a related issue – “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” I couldn’t agree more.

      Best,

      Bill