Category Archives: Internet Security Alerts

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 16, 2014

Court blasts US Navy for scanning civilians’ computers;  Google user data skyrocket;  What to do when your USB device doesn’t work;  Yahoo slams ‘digital will’ law, says users have privacy when they die;  Boxer: An efficient, yet simple, email client for Android;  How to start blogging with Microsoft Word;  India’s Best Budget Smartphones;  Five new iOS apps to improve your job performance;  Apple Pay is as safe as your selfies, says PayPal ad;  Google wants to test-fly drones in New Mexico;  Prevent identity theft with this interactive site;  Google launches Android One, bringing India $105 smartphones;  Auslogics Duplicate File Finder (free);  Wikileaks Releases German Spyware That Governments Used To Hack Journalists And Dissidents;  Hacker exploits printer Web interface to install, run Doom;  Julian Assange on Snowden, disliking Google, and his “inevitable” freedom;  NirLauncher – 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows (free).

Court blasts US Navy for scanning civilians’ computers for child porn – A federal appeals court said the US Navy’s scanning of the public’s computers for images of child pornography constituted “a profound lack of regard for the important limitations on the role of the military in our civilian society. RoundUp surveillance of all computers in Washington amounted to impermissible direct active involvement in civilian enforcement of the child pornography laws, not permissible indirect assistance,” Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for the San Francisco-based appeals court.

Google user data skyrocket – Government requests for user information — such as registration information, emails and IP addresses — are up 15 percent in the first half of 2014, and up 150 percent since the report was first published in 2009, wrote Richard Salgado, Google’s legal director of law enforcement and information security, in a blog post on Monday. In the US, government requests for user data are up 19 percent and 250 percent, respectively.

Yahoo slams ‘digital will’ law, says users have privacy when they die – What should happen to your personal digital communications — emails, chats, photos and the like — after you die? Should they be treated like physical letters for the purposes of a will? Yahoo doesn’t think so. The company is criticizing new legislation giving executors charged with carrying out the instructions in a person’s will broad access to their online accounts. The legislation aims to tackle the sensitive question of what to do when someone’s online accounts on sites like Facebook, Google or Yahoo outlive them.

What to do when your USB device doesn’t work – Clearly, something is broken. But is it hardware, software, the device or the computer? That’s going to take some experimentation. First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Unplug the device, then plug it again. Did that fix the problem? If not, unplug it again, reboot your PC, and then plug it in again. Did that help? How about trying another port? No? Well, it was worth a try. Since the problem persists, let’s get on to more serious tests.

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Mailpile enters beta—It’s like Gmail, but you run it on your own computer – The extra value with Mailpile is the security side. Unlike many other MUAs that support encryption only through plug-ins, Mailpile integrates PGP as part of its core, letting users transparently send encrypted e-mails to each other without having to go through much of the unfriendly complexity required to properly send and receive encrypted mail. In fact, the heavy focus on encryption is one of Mailpile’s biggest selling points—your mail still transits through Gmail or Yahoo or whatever public mail service you use, but the more of it that’s encrypted at the endpoints, the more difficult it is for an outsider to snoop on it.

Boxer: An efficient, yet simple, email client for Android – If you’re looking for a better email client on your Android device, Jack Wallen has just the tool for you. Boxer will make mobile email an efficient and simple task.

How to start blogging with Microsoft Word – Blogging with Microsoft Word lets you use the richly featured word processor to circumvent many of the underpowered, sometimes unfriendly aspects of browser-based interfaces used by platforms like WordPress or Blogger. We’ll show you several ways to write and publish blog posts directly from Word, using the tools and shortcuts you already know. While the this tutorial is written for Word 2013, the necessary features are available in all versions starting from Word 2007.

Google launches Android One, bringing India $105 smartphones – Today, Google is launching “Android One” in India, an effort to get high-quality, cheap smartphones into the hands of people in developing countries. Google provides a reference design to OEMs, which then build devices to Google’s spec. The devices run stock Android, and Google provides all the updates—you can think of it as a non-flagship version of the Nexus program.

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India’s Best Budget Smartphones – The Android wars have just begun and Google’s new Android Ones will soon go head-to-head against the dominant models in the marketplace. Which means it’s a great time to see who the best of the budget breed in India currently are and what the new Ones will have to do to wrest customers away from them

Five new iOS apps to improve your job performance – From tuning up your brain to enabling on-the-fly sketches and annotations, these apps will help you do your job more effectively.

Apple Lets You Preserve Your Musical Taste With A U2 Album Removal Tool – Removing the Songs of Innocence album is as easy as following a link, and then logging in to your iTunes store account. Once you’ve completed those two steps, a message lets you know it’s gone, though you’ll have to delete the actual tracks from your devices if you managed to download them.

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How Many Times A Day Do You Check Your Phone? Checky Will Tell You – This very basic app simply shows you how many times per day you’ve checked your phone, and maps out where that usage occurred. Effectively, the app serves as an advertisement for Calm’s flagship application by introducing the concept of technology addiction and behavioral change. The app is also a literal ad for Calm, too, as it serves up an ad at the bottom of the screen pointing to the meditation app, which recently raised an additional $578,000 in new funding.

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Comcast calls rumor that it disconnects Tor users “wildly inaccurate” – Comcast has lately found itself issuing public apologies on a somewhat regular basis as subscribers share tales of horrible customer service. But the latest accusation leveled against Comcast—that it is threatening to disconnect customers who use the anonymity-providing Tor browser—hasn’t been backed by convincing evidence that it’s happening. And Comcast dismisses the rumor as “wildly inaccurate.”

DisplayPort 1.3 details announced – A update to the DisplayPort standard was announced today. DisplayPort 1.3 will allow bandwidth up to 32.4 Gbits/second and connections to much higher resolution displays and multi-monitor setups.

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Apple Pay is as safe as your selfies, says PayPal ad – In a newspaper ad reacting to Apple’s new payment system, PayPal suggests it’s not secure. And, well, PayPal is.

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PayPal is America. Or at least so this ad seems to imply. And this America doesn’t trust Apple.

Security:

Most mobile apps will fail standard security tests, Gartner says – Seventy-five percent of mobile apps will fail the most basic of security tests next year, predicts market researcher Gartner. The market researcher said Sunday that in 2015, the majority of mobile applications — whether in the Android, iOS or Windows Phone ecosystems — will not have basic business-acceptable security protocols in place.

Prevent identity theft with this interactive site – Choice Loans, a financial lending service based in the UK, has put together a site that can help. It’s an interactive guide to various types of identity fraud, complete with 16 things you can do to detect or respond to them. The site covers a broad swath of risks. It shares detailed information about computer viruses and malware, con artists and fraud, credit card fraud, online shopping, card skimming, card-not-present fraud, stolen credit or debit cards, mail theft, man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, cell phone scams, online password theft, passport fraud, pharming, phishing scams, pyramid schemes, shoulder surfing, and more.

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Watch Out! This Suspicious Android App WIll Cost You $365 a Year – How much would you expect to pay for an Android security app? No, don’t say anything, because I’ll tell you that $30 a year is about the maximum. Trust me, it’s my job to know these things. But for ten times that amount, you can let a shifty app sorta-kinda-not-really keep your phone safe! Blue Coat Security shows us what’s under the hood of Armor for Android, and it’s not pretty.

Hacker exploits printer Web interface to install, run Doom – On Friday, a hacker presenting at the 44CON Information Security Conference in London picked at the vulnerability of Web-accessible devices and demonstrated how to run unsigned code on a Canon printer via its default Web interface. After describing the device’s encryption as “doomed,” Context Information Security consultant Michael Jordon made his point by installing and running the first-person shooting classic Doom on a stock Canon Pixma MG6450. Sure enough, the printer’s tiny menu screen can render a choppy and discolored but playable version of id Software’s 1993 hit, the result of Jordon discovering that Pixma printers’ Web interfaces didn’t require any authentication to access.

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HarperCollins now uses invisible watermarks to combat ebook piracy – Battling piracy has proven difficult, but that hasn’t yet stopped companies from trying, and as such it isn’t surprising that a couple publishers have turned to a new option in an effort to pinpoint where, exactly, ebook uploads are surfacing from. Using Digimarc technology, the publishers’ ebooks will be tagged with an invisible — and traceable — watermark.

Company News:

Microsoft Buys Minecraft Developer Mojang for $2.5 Billion – Mojang is the developer of the wildly popular block-based game Minecraft. The game has grown far beyond its modest beginnings, and that has made it a target for acquisition–even Microsoft has been snooping around. The rumors started showing up late last week, but earlier today Mojang announced that Microsoft has indeed purchased the company for a whopping $2.5 billion.

Alibaba raises price range of massive IPO due to demand – With its IPO already expected to be record-breaking in the US, the Chinese company will price its stock even higher. That could translate to $25 billion.

Microsoft Confirms Its Windows Event Will Take Place On September 30th – Microsoft today confirmed its correctly rumored Windows event that will take place on September 30 in San Francisco. The event is widely expected to include a release of the technical preview of Windows 9, the successor to the controversial Windows 8.x operating system that was released in 2012, along with the Surface line of tablets.

Netflix launches in France, faces legal, cultural hurdles – Netflix has just launched in France, but it might be getting a cold shoulder. Because of its pride and focus on its local film and TV productions, both French industry players and lawmakers are looking into how they make the video-streaming giant play by the country’s rules and give due important to French and European content.

Apple Sells 4M iPhone 6 And 6 Plus Pre-Orders In Opening 24 Hours – That’s twice the number of pre-orders achieved in 24 hours by the iPhone 5 back in 2012, which managed two million pre-orders in its initial day of pre-sales. Apple didn’t publicly release pre-order numbers for the initial day of iPhone 5s and 5c sales last year, but estimates pegged them at somewhere around 2.2 million according to some analyst projections.

Google wants to test-fly drones in New Mexico – Google has requested the ability to flight-test their Titan drones from the FCC, which they previously announced would fall under the auspice of Project Loon. In a letter to the FCC, Google said “These systems may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation. The STA [Special Temporary Authority] is needed for demonstration and testing of [REDACTED] in a carefully controlled environment.”

IBM cuts pay by 10% for workers picked for training – Salary cut draws employee ire; management calls it a ‘co-investment in training’.

Games and Entertainment:

Resident Evil Revelations 2 detailed in trailer – The first full-length trailer has arrived for the game Resident Evil Revelations 2. This game will be rolling out with elements from Resident Evil 2, but will move on from that storyline to a new island entirely. This version will star Resident Evil 2’s Claire Redfield and Barry Burton’s daughter Moira. This game will be unveiled in early 2015, according to Capcom, and will NOT be a replacement for Resident Evil 7. Instead it’s more like an offshoot of the series. Resident Evil Revelations 2 will be coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC.

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‘Minecraft’ creator Notch says selling Mojang to Microsoft was about keeping his sanity – Markus “Notch” Persson, creator of “Minecraft,” has penned a post on his blog saying the decision to sell his studio to Microsoft wasn’t about the money, but about keeping his sanity.

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Malware is being spread on Twitch that empties your Steam wallet, armory, and inventory – Been spending a lot of time on Twitch watching those wacky fish searching for Pokemon in the tall grass or nailing each other with Hadoukens in Street Fighter? You may be putting yourself in harm’s way. There’s a nasty piece of malware being spread to Twitch users that can clean out your Steam account. Users are being duped into thinking that a harmless-looking contest entry will reward them with awesome in-game upgrades on Steam. Instead of putting anything in to you Steam inventory, however, Eskimo immediately sets to work cleaning out your entire digital locker.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

A teenager created an $80 breath-to-speech device that costs 100x less than the competition – Specialized computer systems that allow people with movement and speech impairments like ALS or Parkinson’s to speak usually cost thousands of dollars. However, a 16 year-old student from India has created a device that accomplishes the same basic task as these $7,000-10,000 computers for only $80. Arsh Shah Dilbagi calls his invention the TALK because, well, that’s what it lets you do.

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The FCC Has Received More Than 3 Million Comments Concerning Net Neutrality – The FCC has received more than 3 million comments concerning the current net neutrality notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). That figure is dramatically higher than the previously reported 1.5 million figure that was released last week. 3 million comments deep, the public has said its piece. What the FCC will do with the collected public opinion isn’t clear.

8 truths and myths of driverless cars – For decades, humans have dreamed of driverless vehicles. From the Jetsons to Minority Report, we’ve gotten a certain idea of how those cars should function and how the world could be if they existed. Driverless cars, however, aren’t science fiction. That said, we took a look at some of the common misconceptions about driverless cars, along with truths that are good to keep in mind.

MIT researchers take cheetah robot out for a run without a leash – MIT researchers have released a video of a robot they’re calling “cheetah” making its way across campus. An earlier robot that was also called cheetah was part of a DARPA/Boston Dynamics (now owned by Google) collaboration that was notable for its speed. The MIT version is notable for ditching the tethers that supplied power to it—it goes for runs using on-board battery power and control logic.

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Rosetta’s comet landing site chosen, harpoons will deploy November 11 – The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced the precise location on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that its Philae lander aboard the Rosetta probe will attempt to touch down. The team says site J on the comet’s “head” region won out because it’s scientifically interesting and less risky than the alternatives. The action is currently scheduled to begin on November 11th. Yes, they sent Rosetta to P67 to do more than take amazing selfies.

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Philadelphia Is Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession – The City of Brotherly Love is decriminalizing marijuana possession and public consumption, ending a drug policy that has disproportionately targeted African Americans and Latinos in Philadelphia for decades. After a long summer of negotiations between Mayor Michael Nutter and supporters of Councilman James Kenney’s decriminalization bill, the mayor agreed to sign the legalization measure, which will take effect October 20. Support from Philly cops, African American community organizations, and black media outlets helped forge the decriminalization law that passed 13-3 through the city council — a margin that would have overridden a potential mayoral veto.

Modder turns Xbox One into Xbook One laptop – Modder Ed Jarick describes himself as a “self-taught engineer,” and has a history of turning Xbox 360s into “laptops.” Now, with the advent of a new console generation he’s gone and given an Xbox One the portable treatment. Though to call this thing portable is a bit of a misnomer, maybe. The Xbook One is less a laptop and more an Xbox bolted onto a ship anchor. The device uses the innards of an Xbox One, some fans, 3D-printed parts, and an enormous 22″ 1080p LCD monitor.

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Aquaponic Garden gives new life to an aquarium – The AquaSprouts Aquarium Aquaponic Garden is an indoor garden that is a self-contained ecosystem. You feed the fish, the fish-waste feeds the plants and you eat what is grown from the garden. It’s a win-win-win. The Kickstarter project is designed to work with a standard 10-gallon aquarium. It consists of three main components: legs, a grow bed and a light bar (that need not be installed for those with sufficient lighting). A reward level is also available that includes a glass aquarium.

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Something to think about:

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

-   Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder – Auslogics Duplicate File Finder will find and remove duplicate files so you won’t experience lack of free disk space!

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder has the MD5 search engine which allows you to find duplicate files by content, regardless other match criteria. It would be helpful, for example, when two identical mp3 tracks or video files have different names. Give Auslogics Duplicate File Finder a try to see what it’s really capable of!

Features:

Improve computer performance by deleting duplicate files

Identical files not only waste your hard disk space, but also may cause system slowdowns. By deleting duplicate files you can reduce time needed to defragment your hard drives and minimize time used by antivirus to scan your computer.

Sort and organize your media collections

Media files collections, such as music, video, images and photos, often become the primary source of identical files. If you have a music collection of several hundreds or even thousands mp3-files, you may want to sort them by deleting identical tracks.

With Auslogics Duplicate File Finder you can organize your media files and increase free disk space needed to enlarge your collection.

Find duplicate files by content!

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder has the MD5 search engine which allows the program to search for duplicate files by content, regardless of other match criteria. It would be helpful, for example, when two identical mp3 tracks or video files have different names.

CDBurnerXP – CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. This is the installer version, CDBurnerXP Portable can be downloaded here.

It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multilanguage interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. It does not include adware or similar malicious components.

Features:

burn all kinds of discs

audio-CDs with or without gaps between tracks

burn and create ISO files

data verification after burning process

create bootable discs

multi-language interface

bin/nrg → ISO converter, simple cover printing and much more!

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NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.

Features:

NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without need of any installation.

NirLauncher and all the utilities in the package are completely freeware, without any Spyware/Adware/Malware.

NirLauncher package includes variety of tools that you may need for your daily computer use, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When using it from USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically run the x64 version of the utility, when there is a separated x64 version.

NirLauncher also allows to add more software packages in additional to the main NirSoft package.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Questions for New Zealand on Mass Surveillance – Yesterday, we revealed details at The Intercept about the New Zealand government’s secret plan to access data from the country’s main internet cable. The government has since denied that the project was ever completed — but its statements in the past 24 hours have raised more questions that they have answered and deserve some closer scrutiny.

The surveillance project we revealed — named Speargun — was listed as “underway” in classified documents from New Zealand’s GCSB spy agency in March 2012. In early 2013, an NSA document listed the first phase of the project as having been achieved. It noted that the second phase — which would entail inserting covert “metadata probes” — was scheduled to begin later the same year following the passing of a new surveillance law. That law was approved in August 2013.

While publicly New Zealand government officials were reassuring the public that the new law would not lead to an expansion of powers, behind closed doors GCSB was preparing to install its metadata probes — which would have constituted the biggest expansion of GCSB’s surveillance reach in decades.

In response to our story, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (pictured above) has said that the Speargun project was not finalized. What he claims is that the project was instead eventually replaced by a narrower initiative. In a radio interview on Monday morning, Key described this as a toned down version of what he called “mass cyber protection.” What’s now in place, he said, is a “bespoke functionality which an individual company or agency could deploy,” apparently to mitigate cyber attacks.

In a bid to prove this, Key declassified documents later on Monday (after we published our story) that outlined a project called Cortex. Key seemed to think — or perhaps hope — that these documents would kill off any concerns and put the controversy to a swift end. But they fail to address a number of crucial issues — critics have already dismissed them as a “red herring” — and in fact only seem to cloud matters further.

Wikileaks Releases German Spyware That Governments Used To Hack Journalists And Dissidents – As part of its ongoing Spyfiles series of posts, Wikileaks has released the back and front-end systems used by multiple governments to spy on journalists, dissidents, and others. The files appear to be weaponized Windows malware although the software, called FinFisher, also works on OS X.

From the post:

FinFisher (formerly part of the UK based Gamma Group International until late 2013) is a German company that produces and sells computer intrusion systems, software exploits and remote monitoring systems that are capable of intercepting communications and data from OS X, Windows and Linux computers as well as Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices. FinFisher first came to public attention in December 2011 when WikiLeaks published documents detailing their products and business in the first SpyFiles release.

Three back-end programs route and manage traffic which is sent to FinSpy Master, a collection program. The system can steal keystrokes, Skype conversations, and even watch you via your webcam.

While there is no definitive proof that any one organization is using the software, a list of FinFisher customers leaked as well shows us that Pakistan, Estonia, and Italy (among others) have bought the service.

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange hopes the malware will allow researchers to pinpoint and destroy the command and control structure in the wild and help prevent the software from infecting new users.

Julian Assange on Snowden, disliking Google, and his “inevitable” freedom – It would be too much to say that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange feels optimistic. He’s been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for more than two years now, with cameras and police—”a £3 million surveillance operation,” he calls it—just meters away.

“There’s a sense of inevitability now,” Assange said when we asked if his situation might change.

Assange: “The situation is clarifying politically and legally.”

Ars: “I just want to be clear on this point—are you saying you’re hopeful you’ll be free soon?”

Assange: “I wouldn’t say hopeful. I would say it’s inevitable. It’s inevitable that we will win the diplomatic standoff we’re in now.”

It’s getting late in London, where Assange is doing a barrage of press interviews on the eve his new book, When Google Met Wikileaks (it goes on sale in the US later this week). We called at the agreed upon time, and a man who didn’t identify himself answered the number, which was for a London cell phone. He said call back in five minutes, and only then was the phone finally handed to Assange.

We’re supposed to focus on the book. But first, we want to know what life trapped in the embassy involves—where does he eat, sleep, do laundry? What is the room he’s was in now like?

Australia: Can Snowden finally kill the ‘harmless metadata’ myth? – “Metadata is extraordinarily intrusive. As an analyst, I would prefer to be looking at metadata than looking at content, because it’s quicker and easier, and it doesn’t lie.”

In just two sentences, Edward Snowden nailed the hypocrisy — or perhaps it’s really just stupidity — at the heart of the Australian government’s efforts to sell a mandatory data-retention scheme.

Snowden was appearing via a video link at the Moment of Truth event in New Zealand on Monday night. He was speaking to ardent fans — he scored a standing ovation laced with the tribal whooping of “Yeah!” and “Woo!” before he’d even begun — so he had an easy run. But he also spoke with a clarity that’s hard to argue against.

“If I’m listening to your phone call, you can try to talk around things, you can use code words. But if I’m looking at your metadata, I know which number called which number. I know which computer talked to which computer. And yeah, that [capability to access metadata] exists comprehensively for all the Five Eyes analysts,” Snowden said.

The signals intelligence agencies of all Five Eyes nations — the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand — have access to the NSA’s XKeyscore, a federated search system that deals in metadata captured from the NSA’s interception of international fibre links, as well as other sources.

XKeyscore also searches the last three to five days of content data, Snowden said, and that archive is growing — but that’s another story.

Snowden isn’t the first person to point out that metadata can be more revealing than content. Far from it.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 15, 2014

Use Google’s new panel in security settings to keep your account safe;  WhatsApp will soon support voice calling;  Five reasons why you shouldn’t buy a smartwatch yet;  5 Wearables More Interesting Than the Apple Watch;  Places Is A Sharing Platform That Puts Privacy First;  Best 10 smartphones for holiday buying season;  Leaked Clips Show Windows 9 In Action;  Windows 9 leaks: How to get its best new features today;  We’ve got a $35 Firefox OS phone; what do you want to know?  New malware spreads over Twitch chat;  Firefox sneaks out an “inbetweener” update;  Apple Pay gives Apple 0.15% of your purchase;  Games Review Round-Up – September 2014;  Seed Is Creating A Truly Idiot-Proof Internet Of Things;  USB Image Tool (free);  The War on Drug Tests;  Civil liberties are too important to be left to the technologists.

Use Google’s new panel in security settings to keep your account safe – The settings aren’t new, but the wizard-like presentation is a new addition. It walks you through five important security settings for your Google account.

WhatsApp will soon support voice calling – First spotted by the folks at NDTV Gadgets, an iOS permissions alert is the one that revealed the upcoming feature. If you haven’t given WhatsApp access to your microphone the app will notify you by saying “WhatsApp requires microphone access to send Voice Messages, record Videos with sounds, make and receive Voice Calls”. The feature seems to already be coded inside the app but it’s not yet functional.

Facebook Tests Disappearing Posts Feature – The option, which is being offered to a small subset of users, allows them to set posts to delete anytime from 1 hour to 7 days after they are initially published, The Next Web reports. Facebook has released many features to select groups of users in the past before deciding to either roll them out larger or go back to the drawing board. Though Facebook hasn’t publicly revealed what the tool actually looks like, some users have taken to Twitter to share screenshots.

Five reasons why you shouldn’t buy a smartwatch yet – With the long anticipated release of Apple Watch this past week, the company behind it put a lot of coal in the engine of the wearable train. For a solid year, the world hemmed and hawed about smartwatches, waiting to see what Apple would do. Now that they’re officially in the mix, here are a few reasons to sit this early-adopter’s segment out — at least for a year.

5 Wearables More Interesting Than the Apple Watch – There are plenty of reasons Apple Watch will be a winner, both in early 2015 when it’s released and it future generations of the product, when I think it will have more steam. But there’s something slightly disappointing about this device at the same time. It’s not very futuristic. Consider these five wearables that go beyond the wrist.

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How to make webmail your default email in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera – When you click an email address your browser is handing off responsibility for a special kind of link, called mailto, to a desktop program. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In most modern Windows browsers you can turn a webmail account into your default email program. The only drawback is that setting a webmail service as your default is not system wide, meaning you have to set your preferred mail service as the default in each separate browser you use.

Best 10 smartphones for holiday buying season – Matthew Miller’s updated list includes the best Android and Windows handsets now available, as well as — surprise! — a new iPhone.

Places Is A Sharing Platform That Puts Privacy First – Places is a privacy-centric startup that’s building a secure Dropbox-style platform for file sharing and messaging — but one that has end-to-end, client-side encryption built in. It’s currently launched in early alpha and is inviting people to sign up for a forthcoming beta at Joinplaces.com. (The alpha is also open to Windows and Mac OS users.) Another twist is it’s also seeking to disrupt the server-client architecture of existing sharing platforms by enabling users to host their own content. With Places, the user’s content can be stored and served from their own Mac, PC or Linux machine.

Leaked Clips Show Windows 9 In Action – Around two weeks out from the purported release date of the technical preview of Windows 9, videos of the upcoming operating system have hit the Internet. German site WinFuture has released a mess of screenshots and videos of the upcoming code over the past few days, to our benefit. A number of clips are up for watching, detailing how Windows 9 will handle multiple desktops, the return of the Start Menu, and more.

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Windows 9: Storage Sense is coming too – This feature, which was first made available in Windows Phone 8.1, allows you to easily manage your internal and external (microSD) storage. The feature makes it simple to understand what is filling up your space such as apps, games, videos etc. Simply put, it’s a total storage management solution in one app and it looks like it is coming to Windows 9 too.

Windows 9 leaks: How to get its best new features today – The Windows “Threshold” update rumored for April 2015? Windows 9, which is rumored to be announced in Technical Preview form in early October? No one knows. But you don’t have to wait to get those killer features. With the first universal apps hitting the various Windows Stores this week, here’s how to bring a Start menu, windowed Metro apps, and virtual desktops to Windows 8.1 today.

Verizon Tips a La Carte Internet TV Service in 2015 – Verizon is looking to roll out its Internet TV service by mid-2015, with an offering that will allow viewers to pick and choose the channels they want.

New ‘Cosmos’ browser surfs the net by TXT alone – While the number of mobile phones in the world continues to rise, most of the networks are yet to experience the joys of fast downloads – and in many places, the mobile network is the main contact with the outside world, since fixed networks haven’t been built. Enter the Cosmos Browser project: a bit of code that lets users browse the Web using just text messages. TXT messages can carry 140 characters, at eight bytes a character, which is 1,120 bytes per message. Multiply that by three-TXTs-per-second Cosmos consumes and we get a bitrate of 3.36 Kbps. Or about 50 per cent faster than the 2400 baud modems that kicked off consumer internet use in the West.

We’ve got a $35 Firefox OS phone; what do you want to know? – For $35, you get a spec list from six or seven years ago: a 3.5-inch 480×320 LCD, 1GHz Spreadtrum SC6821 SoC, 128MB of RAM, 46MB of internal storage, a 2MP rear camera, and a 1250mAh battery. There’s no 3G, GPS, front-facing camera, or camera flash, but at least you get Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and EDGE data. There’s also a MicroSD slot (mandatory for taking pictures), dual SIM slots, and, oh yeah, it runs Firefox OS.

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Skype version for broadcasters released to manufacturers – A special version of Skype designed for professional TV broadcasts reached another milestone with its release to manufacturers and the signing of three hardware partners. Skype TX, announced in April, combines hardware and software, and was created to let Skype video calls be integrated into a professional studio broadcast production.

How to install new fonts on the Android platform – If you’re looking for more customization on your Android device, let Jack Wallen show you how to add new fonts to help personalize or brand your Android smartphone.

Security:

Firefox sneaks out an “inbetweener” update, with security improvements rather than fixes – Usually, if everything goes according to plan, Firefox updates appear every six weeks. But if needs must, Mozilla delivers in-between updates, too, and that’s what has happened here, bumping Firefox from version 32.0 to 32.0.1.

Tasty Spam: Phishing Isn’t Just About Your Money – When we talk about phishing, we tend to focus on financial fraud, such as the fake bank websites and ecommerce portals. The attackers are looking for ways to steal our credit card numbers and online banking credentials. Cloudmark reminds us in this month’s Tasty Spam that phishing can target non-financial accounts, as well. The theft of celebrity photos from iCloud is a perfect example of attackers going after non-essential accounts and the kind of damage that could be inflicted. Cloudmark shared some types of phishing attempts against non-financial accounts which may be landing in your inbox right now.

Turning the tables on “Windows Support” scammers by compromising their PCs – Matt Weeks is one of the developers who contributes code to the open source Metasploit Project, a sprawling and continually updated security framework that functions as a repository for software vulnerabilities and is frequently used as a Swiss Army Knife for penetration testing. Weeks has published a long report on his site detailing how he was able to reverse-engineer the encrypted communications protocol used by Ammyy Admin, one of the most popular remote control apps used by tech support scammers, and then use that knowledge to ferret out a vulnerability in the Ammyy Admin application.

New malware spreads over Twitch chat, targets Steam accounts – If you use gaming video streaming site Twitch, you’ll want to be careful what you click on. A new piece of malware spread through Twitch’s chat feature will attempt to bleed your Steam account dry, according to security software maker F-Secure. The malware spreads through messages posted to Twitch chat that try to entice users into entering a weekly raffle. Click on the link, and a Java program will open up a phony raffle entry form. Once you fill out and submit the form (which, according to F-Secure, doesn’t actually get sent anywhere), the malware goes to work.

Company News:

Apple Pay gives Apple 0.15% of your purchase – Yesterday, we told you about Apple’s plans to monetize Apple Pay. By taking a small cut of the transaction fee a bank charges a merchant, Apple stands to make a large chunk of change. Now we get further details on just what kind of deals Apple may have struck with various institutions, and how much they really might be raking in.

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HP Russia guilty of government bribery using “secret slush fund” – An HP subsidiary, HP Russia, pleaded guilty to bribing Russian companies in order to score a technology contract worth millions, US prosecutors said. The company has agreed to pay a $58.77 million fine in a prosecution brought by San Francisco federal prosecutors asserting the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which applies to US companies and their subsidiaries abroad.

Google acquires online survey specialist Polar – Google has acquired Polar, a company that specializes in online polls that allows its customers to get “instant opinions on anything.” The deal was announced on Polar’s website and Dave Bresbis, vice president of engineering for Google+, welcomed the addition of Polar’s staff to his team in a Google+ post. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ericsson buys Fabrix Systems for $95M to help put TV on any screen – The acquisition is intended to help service providers deliver what Ericsson calls TV Anywhere, for viewing on multiple devices with high-quality and relevant content for each user. Cable operators, telecommunications carriers and other service providers are seeing rapid growth in video streaming and want to reach consumers on multiple screens. That content increasingly is hosted in cloud data centers and delivered via Internet Protocol networks.

Oracle acquires media storage company Front Porch Digital – Oracle will likely pitch its database, content management tools and analytics packages to Front Porch customers such as A&E Television, BBC, Discovery and Nascar.

Games and Entertainment:

Games Review Round-Up – September 2014 – Each week we post a review round-up and news of the latest games on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and on the PC. This week we have first impressions of Destiny and a review of Infamous: First Light.

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New Xbox 360 Holiday Bundles Announced – The first bundle is the “Xbox 360 500 GB Holiday Value Bundle” which will go on sale for $249. The pack will include copies of the ever popular Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, you also get a month of Xbox Live Gold to play online with. Next up is the “Xbox 360 Special Edition Blue Bundle” which includes everything from the above bundle along with an arctic blue console and controller and retails for the same price of $249, but will only be available at Walmart in America. Finally there is the “Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Bundle” which comes with Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports and Forza Horizon. It also has one month of free Xbox Live access and retails for $249.

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GTA V arrives November 18 on PS4 and Xbox One, PC gamers left waiting until January – In a press release Rockstar has confirmed that GTA V will launch for PS4 and Xbox one on November 18. However, if you’ve been waiting to play the game on PC, then stop looking forward to spending your Christmas roaming around Los Santos. Rockstar isn’t releasing the PC version until January 27 next year.

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RollerCoaster Tycoon World preview: The ride never ends – I write some weird sentences in this industry. Here’s one: It’s 2014, and Atari is working on a RollerCoaster Tycoon sequel. I got an in-depth (but hands-off) look at the game recently, and here’s what I noticed.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Seed Is Creating A Truly Idiot-Proof Internet Of Things – In the vast panoply of potential home networking protocols, there are only a few worth worrying about. Wi-Fi works well but it can go down and ZigBee and the like are sparsely supported. But Bluetooth Smart is local, secure, and easy to use. And that’s what Seed Labs is using to connect our lamps, our blinds, and even our tea kettles. This Polish startup has built a small chip – about as big as a postage stamp and twice as thick as one – that can go into any appliance. Chip-enabled devices will then show up automatically on phones that are compatible with Bluetooth Smart, allowing you to control lights, put the kettle on for tea, or drop the shutters. It’s a B2B play that could revolutionize how we think about home networking and control.

Putting Smartphone Zombies In Their Place – City planners are charged with designing cities for residents, from developing spaces for popular activities to balancing the needs of different constituencies. For planners in Chongqing, China, one of those constituencies are people absorbed in their smartphones, who have come into conflict with another group, often called human beings. So the city has done the obvious thing when two groups clash: you build special sidewalks to separate them from each other.

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Anita Sarkeesian shares the most radical thing you can do to support women online – Anyone looking to support women suffering from harassment online has a surprisingly simple place to start, says Anita Sarkeesian, founder of the web video series Feminist Frequency. “One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences,” Sarkeesian told the audience today at XOXO Festival in Portland. It’s radical in part because of misinformation campaigns organized against high-profile women that accuse them of making up the threats against them — and it’s an issue that Sarkeesian has recent experience dealing with.

Most Americans Don’t Want Internet ‘Fast Lanes,’ Poll Finds – A particularly timely finding, as the public comment period for Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rule on net neutrality draws to a close. Two-thirds of Americans don’t like the idea of big web companies paying Internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver their content more quickly via so-called “fast lanes” on the Internet, according to a recent poll.

Colorado High Schooler Invents Smart Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint – Colorado has a history with gun violence so it’s only appropriate that 17-year-old Kai Kloepfer, a high school student from Boulder, would want to apply biometric user authentication to firearms. Kloepfer just won the $50,000 Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge for his smart gun prototype. The gun works by creating a user ID and locking in the fingerprint of each user allowed to use the gun. The gun will only unlock with the unique fingerprint of those who have already permission to access the gun. The clearly brainy teen tells me he has an interest in information security. According to him, all user data is kept right on the gun and nothing is uploaded anywhere else so it would be pretty hard to hack. This potentially makes it ideal for military use as well.

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The War on Drug Tests – Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in two states, and for medical use in 23. So why can employers still fire you if you test positive for weed on a drug test?

Something to think about:

“I don’t like the fact that someone I don’t know … can pick up, if they’re a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property.”

-      Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Today’s Free Downloads:

HandBrake 0.10 Beta 4 – Convert from many common multimedia file formats, including unprotected DVD or BluRay sources to a handful of modern output file formats.

Features:

Multi-platform, Multi-threaded Video Transcoder

Video Encoding to several popular formats (H.264, Mpeg-4, Mpeg-2, Theora)

File Formats (MP4 and MKV)

Audio Encoding (and passthru) – AAC, MP3, FLAC, AC3, DTS, DTSHD etc

Subtitle Support (SRT, SSA, VOBSub, Closed Captions)

Filters (DeInterlace, DeTelecine, Deblocking, Cropping, Scaling)

Chapters

Presets for common use-cases

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USB Image Tool – USB Image Tool can create images of USB flash drives and MP3 players, that are mounted as USB drives. It allows you switch between images with different music styles on your MP3 Player or to make an exact backup image of your USB Stick.

Features:

create image files of USB flash drives

restore images of USB flash drives

compressed image file format

show USB device information

manage favorite USB images

command line utility

USB Image Tool works with any device, that implements the USB Mass Storage protocol. This includes flash drives, card readers and a lot of other devices, like digicams, cell phones and mobile music players.

USB Image Tool supports the globull secure mobile work environment.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Civil liberties are too important to be left to the technologists – A revolution is afoot in privacy regulation. In an assortment of white papers and articles, business leaders—including Microsoft—and scholars argue that instead of regulating privacy through limiting the collection of data, we should focus on how the information is used. It’s called “use regulation,” and this seemingly obscure issue has tremendous implications for civil liberties and our society. Ultimately, it can help determine how much power companies and governments have.

You are probably familiar with privacy laws that regulate the collection of data—for example, the military’s famous “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue.” When you interview for a job, the employer should not ask you about your religion, your plans to have children, or whether you are married. There’s also the national movement to “ban the box” to stop collection of arrest and old conviction data on job applications.

In a use-regulation world, companies may collect any data they wish but would be banned from certain uses of the data. In U.S. law, a good example of use regulation comes from credit reporting. Your credit report can be used only for credit decisions, employment screening, and renting an apartment. Or consider your physician: Her professional norms encourage expansive data collection, but she can use medical records only to advance patient care.

Bans on data collection are powerful tools to prevent institutions from using certain knowledge in their decision-making. But advocates of use regulations have some compelling points: Collection rules are too narrow by themselves. They ignore the real-life problem that we just click away our rights for the newest free service. And, increasingly, technologies gather data with no realistic opportunity to give notice to the individual at all. Some of these technologies can be used to infer knowledge about the very issues collection limitations attempt to protect. For instance, consider the Target Corporation’s ability to infer that a shopper was pregnant when she went from buying scented to unscented lotion. Use regulations shift the pressure away from notice and choice, making a more universal set of rules for data.

(Civil liberties are too important to be left to the technologists? Seriously?

Much to our disillusionment, we’re acutely aware that civil liberties are too important to be left to the bloody political class!)

Snowden: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Isn’t Telling the Truth About Mass Surveillance – Like many nations around the world, New Zealand over the last year has engaged in a serious and intense debate about government surveillance. The nation’s prime minister, John Key of the National Party, has denied that New Zealand’s spy agency GCSB engages in mass surveillance, mostly as a means of convincing the country to enact a new law vesting the agency with greater powers. This week, as a national election approaches, Key repeated those denials in anticipation of a report in The Intercept today exposing the Key government’s actions in implementing a system to record citizens’ metadata.

Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched.

At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called “XKEYSCORE.” It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic. I know this because it was my full-time job in Hawaii, where I worked every day in an NSA facility with a top secret clearance.

The prime minister’s claim to the public, that “there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance” is false. The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks.

Australia: NSW Police use hacking software to spy on computers and smartphones: WikiLeaks data – NSW Police are using sophisticated hacking software to spy on smartphones and computers during criminal investigations, according to documents published by WikiLeaks on Monday.

FinFisher, also known as FinSpy, is surveillance software sold by German company Gamma International. The software is typically used by intelligence and policing agencies to break into computers and mobiles and can secretly log keystrokes and take screenshots.

It can also remotely capture Skype and instant messenger conversations and take control of computer microphones and web cameras to listen in.

The documents show NSW Police purchased approximately $2.5 million worth of licences for the software, starting in September 2011. They reveal the agency has held nine licences for FinSpy, FinFly, FinIntrusion, FinSpy Mobile and FinFireWire over the past three years.

NSW Police is named as the only Australian agency among many around the world to have spent a collective $72 million on the software. NSW Police did not deny the spyware’s use. (recommended by Mal C.)

The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies – “Fuck!” That is the word that comes to the mind of Christian Steffen, the CEO of German satellite communications company Stellar PCS. He is looking at classified documents laying out the scope of something called Treasure Map, a top secret NSA program. Steffen’s firm provides internet access to remote portions of the globe via satellite, and what he is looking at tells him that the company, and some of its customers, have been penetrated by the U.S. National Security Agency and British spy agency GCHQ.

Stellar’s visibly shaken chief engineer, reviewing the same documents, shares his boss’ reaction. “The intelligence services could use this data to shut down the internet in entire African countries that are provided access via our satellite connections,” he says.

Treasure Map is a vast NSA campaign to map the global internet. The program doesn’t just seek to chart data flows in large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. Rather, it seeks to identify and locate every single device that is connected to the internet somewhere in the world—every smartphone, tablet, and computer—”anywhere, all the time,” according to NSA documents. Its internal logo depicts a skull superimposed onto a compass, the eyeholes glowing demonic red.

The breathtaking mission is described in a document from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden provided to The Intercept and Der Spiegel. Treasure Map’s goal is to create an “interactive map of the global internet” in “almost real time.” Employees of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance—England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—can install and use the program on their own computers. It evokes a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird’s eye view of the planet’s digital arteries.

Senator demands US courts recover 10 years of online public records – The head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee is urging the federal bureaucracy to restore a decade’s worth of electronic court documents that were deleted last month from online viewing because of an upgrade to a computer database known as PACER.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) said the removal of the thousands of cases from online review is essentially erasing history.

“Wholesale removal of thousands of cases from PACER, particularly from four of our federal courts of appeals, will severely limit access to information not only for legal practitioners, but also for legal scholars, historians, journalists, and private litigants for whom PACER has become the go-to source for most court filings,” Leahy wrote Friday to US District Judge John D. Bates, the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO).

The letter, obtained by The Washington Post, blasted the Aug. 10 decision commencing “without any warning to the public, and without prior notification or consultation with Congress.” The letter said that “Given the potential impact of the AO’s recent decision, I urge the AO take immediate steps to restore access to these documents.”

Justice Sotomayor says technology could lead to “Orwellian world” – Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor says that without proper privacy safeguards, the advancement of technology could lead to a world like the one portrayed in “1984” by George Orwell.

Speaking to Oklahoma City University faculty and students, the justice said Thursday that technology has allowed devices to “listen to your conversations from miles away and through your walls.” She added: “We are in that brave new world, and we are capable of being in that Orwellian world, too.”

The President Obama appointee also discussed the lack of privacy standards concerning drones.

There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that’s happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom. Because people think that it should be protected just against government intrusion, but I don’t like the fact that someone I don’t know…can pick up, if they’re a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property.

The justice’s remarks about drones comes as California is close to joining 10 other states requiring the police to get a court warrant to surveil with a drone. Those states include Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. California’s bill is pending, awaiting action from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Swedish ISP urges European Commission to end ‘illegal data retention’ – Swedish law requiring network operators to retain communications metadata continues to breach European Union rules, according to Swedish ISP Bahnhof, which has asked the European Commission to intervene.

Together with the 5th of July Foundation, a Swedish organization that aims to protect online rights, Bahnhof sent an official complaint to the Commission. They want the Commission to initiate proceedings against the Swedish government “for blatantly ignoring” a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), they said in a news release.

The EU’s Data Retention Directive had previously required telecommunications and Internet service providers to retain their customer’s location and traffic metadata for investigatory purposes, but in May the CJEU invalidated the directive because it seriously interferes with fundamental privacy rights.

Bahnhof stopped retaining customer data and deleted all its records a few days after the ruling. It did so with the permission of the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS), which said at the time that ISPs could stop collecting data and delete records without consequence. After analyzing the verdict, the authority concluded that there would probably be “big problems” if it tried to enforce the Swedish data retention law that is still in place.

However, in mid-August the PTS ordered Bahnhof to start retaining data again, Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung said. The PTS has made a 180-degree turn in policy by ordering Bahnhof—and Tele2, which also stopped retaining data for a while—to resume doing so.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 12, 2014

Secret Surveillance Battle Between Yahoo and the U.S. Government Revealed;  Internet Slowdown Day by the numbers;  Android apps are now running on Chrome OS;  Viber Adds Video Calls to Mobile;  How to Kick U2’s New Album Off Your iTunes (Kinda);  Personalize the Windows 7 Start menu;  Experience the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 3D right in your browser;  11 essential JavaScript tools for Web developers;  Export your Twitpic images before the service shuts down;  Massive solar flare erupts towards Earth;  Tabnabbing: A New Type of Phishing Attack;  German court requires Google to stop ignoring customer emails;  What you need to know about the Gmail password compromise;  Spiderman Unlimited Swings into Android and iOS;  How to get a job in computer security;  Stanford develops a radio the size of an ant;  Revo Uninstaller (free).

Internet Slowdown Day by the numbers: The people spoke about Net Neutrality – During Internet Slowdown Day, more than 10,000 sites participated in the action by placing spinning “loading” symbols on their web pages, according to Fight for the Future, a public advocacy organization. The spinning symbols were meant to imitate a slow-loading site. The FCC registered more than 111,000 new comments regarding its proposed guidelines on Wednesday, according to E Pluribus Unum, a site that reports on technology-related public policy.

Android apps are now running on Chrome OS – Everyone is going cross-platform these days. Microsoft’s Windows is (by and large) Windows, regardless of what device you use it on. Apple’s handshake deal between iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite keeps things separate but friendly, and now google is getting into the mix. The fist round of Android apps running on Chrome OS are live, with heavy-hitters like Evernote leading the charge.

Viber Adds Video Calls to Mobile – The popular app Viber, which offers free messaging and HD phone calls over Wi-Fi or 3G, is getting a new feature — video calls. With the latest version of the app, Viber 5.0 for iOS and Android, you can now make video calls from your phone. The feature is also available from the Viber desktop app for Windows, Windows 8, and OS X.

Personalize the Windows 7 Start menu – You can do a lot with the Windows 7 Start menu. You can put your favorite programs front and center. You can replace big, easy-to-hit icons with smaller ones that take less real estate, and you can control the behavior of clicking on Documents or Music. Let’s look at three separate areas where you can alter the Start menu.

Export your Twitpic images before the service shuts down – On September 25, 2014, Twitpic will be shutting down its image hosting service. The company cites trademark issues with Twitter as the core reason. If you’ve been using Twitpic over the years to host your images for Twitter, then you may want to make a backup of them before they’re no longer available.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Kick U2’s New Album Off Your iTunes (Kinda) – If you like U2, enjoy! But if you’re not a U2 fan, or you simply want to remove the music, your options are very limited. Songs of Innocence is tied to your iTunes account, and stored in the cloud, so you can’t completely remove it. You can delete the local song files, but the album will still be on display because it’s an Apple-gifted cloud purchase. That said, you can hide Songs of Innocence so that you’ll never have to be reminded of this forced invasion by Apple and U2.

Responding to critics, Google makes Drive, Docs suite more accessible for the blind – The improvements include smoother interaction with third-party screen readers and more keyboard navigation capabilities.

Autodesk’s 123D Catch Comes to Android, Makes 2D Photos into 3D Objects – Autodesk isn’t really a household name, unless you’re an architect, engineer, or computer graphics artist. The company makes some of the most widely used digital design products in the world, but it’s also creeping into consumer electronics with an array of apps, like the newly released 123D Catch on Android. This app appeared on iOS several years ago, but now Android users can turn real life into a 3D model.

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Windows Threshold build 9834 screenshots leak, shows a lot of new features – Get out a small pinch of salt but new screenshots of Windows Threshold, build 9834, have leaked. Neowin gave them a good look over and they do align to several of the items that we have reported on such as the notification center, the surveys as well and the charms bar moving inside the Modern app windows. There are a couple of flags, however, as there are missing components that are likely coming to Threshold but this is probably because this is an external build given to partners.

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Code.org Launches Code Studio, A Toolset And Curriculum For Teaching Kids Programming – Since its creation, Code.org’s mission has been to get coding into curriculums for students as schools nationwide. Today, the nonprofit group is launching Code Studio, a combined set of tools and curriculum to get students in kindergarten through high school interested in the underlying concepts behind coding through guided lesson plans.

Experience the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 3D right in your browser – If you are one of those patiently waiting outside a brick and mortar Apple Store, a little over a week is a long time to wait to get your hands on the shiny new iDevice. So in the meantime, why not have a virtual iPhone 6 or 6 Plus to play with? Whether it’s the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus you’re after, you can now check out the new devices in “interactive 3D” through your browser at any and all angles. The renderings can also be compared to the iPhone 5S, the predecessor of the iPhone 6.

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SanDisk 512GB Extreme PRO SDXC: a high-capacity memory card for pros – SanDisk has introduced a new memory card that keeps pace with the most demanding photography and video recording needs: the 512GB Extreme Pro SDXC card. The card boasts several features targeted at pro users and those with demanding needs, including the ability to withstand harsh temperatures and water.

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11 essential JavaScript tools for Web developers – Here are 11 emerging tools for using JavaScript (in concert with other languages) to create modern websites with all the features users have come to demand. They offer clean design and simple interfaces that can be deceptive because the tools are often quite powerful, too. All of the years of evolution and redesign are paying off with tools that do more of what we want with fewer configuration hassles.

Security:

What you need to know about the Gmail password compromise – Fewer than 2% of the compromised username and password combinations work, Google’s spam and abuse team said in a blog post late yesterday. They also say Gmail’s automated anti-hijacking systems would block many potential login attempts

How Apple Pay could make the Target and Home Depot breaches a thing of the past – The launch of Apple’s mobile payment system could prove a turning point in the battle to secure your debit and credit card information from hackers. The system, which relies in part on Apple’s Touch ID biometric technology to verify the user’s identity, could finally replace a payment technology that’s been in use for five decades.

Tabnabbing: A New Type of Phishing Attack – Most phishing attacks depend on an original deception. If you detect that you are at the wrong URL, or that something is amiss on a page, the chase is up. You’ve escaped the attackers. In fact, the time that wary people are most wary is exactly when they first navigate to a site. What we don’t expect is that a page we’ve been looking at will change behind our backs, when we aren’t looking. That’ll catch us by surprise.

Apple Watch Is the Next BYOD Headache for Business – On the surface, from what Apple revealed at its event this week, the Apple Watch does not seem to pose much of a security threat if an employee sports one in the office. The watch needs a connection to an iPhone. It has no native 3G/4G or Wi-Fi connectivity—it just pairs with an iPhone via Bluetooth. However, Bluetooth is subject to its own security vulnerabilities and the fact that data is syncing between the iPhone and iWatch; such as messages; means there may be new threat risks for business networks to consider.

Company News:

German court requires Google to stop ignoring customer emails – Google users who email the address “support-de@google.com” receive an automatic reply notifying the emailer that Google will neither read nor reply due to the large number of requests sent to the address. After that sentence, the automatic reply directs Google users to various online self-help guides and contact forms. This form of communication is incompatible with the German Telemedia Act, which says that companies must provide a way to ensure fast electronic communications with them, the VZBV had argued. The organization described Google’s support address as a black box in which messages disappear into a void.

Google buys polling startup for Google+ integration – Today, Google is announcing they’ve made another acquisition, this time in a startup named Polar. If you’re unfamiliar, don’t worry — the company focusses on online polls, not an app you’re missing out on. It’s being reported that Polar will be cobbled into Google+, suggesting that Google is, at least in some respect, forging ahead with its social layer.

BlackBerry Buys Movirtu to Bolster BYOD Management – BlackBerry on Thursday announced that it has acquired London-based mobile identity solutions provider Movirtu for an undisclosed sum. BlackBerry said the acquisition addresses the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon. Founded in 2008, Movirtu makes a Virtual SIM platform that allows multiple numbers — such as a business number and a personal number — to be active on a single device, with separate billing for voice, data, and messaging use on each number.

Games and Entertainment:

Spider-Man Unlimited Swings into Android and iOS – The most recent wave of Spider-Man games on mobile devices were all tie-ins for the Movie that came out a few months ago. The newest one has nothing at all to do with that–it’s Spider-Man Unlimited from Gameloft on Android and iOS. It’s an endless runner, but don’t write it off just yet. It might be worth your time.

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Play Video Games With Will Ferrell for Charity – While you may think that watching people play video games would be boring, it’s popular enough that Amazon recently spent $970 million on video game streaming service Twitch, where fans spend hours watching gamers punch, kick, shoot, and strategize their way through popular titles. So it makes sense that comedian Will Ferrell is teaming up with Twitch for a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo that wants to raise $375,000 for Cancer for College and DonateGames.org.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Stanford develops a radio the size of an ant, draws power from electromagnetic waves – What is this? A radio for ants? Not so much for ants, but it’s certainly the size of an ant. Stanford engineer Amin Arbabian has managed to create a wireless radio just a few millimeters across that is so energy efficient that it doesn’t need a battery. Instead, it harvests power from the incoming electromagnetic waves. The extremely low cost and small size of this technology means you could soon be surrounded by tiny radio chips in an interconnected mesh network.

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How to get a job in computer security – The secret to the security profession is to develop all the computer experience you can before you even begin to think about a career in cybersecurity.

(A strong sense of curiosity – numero uno!   Light bulb  )

Nikon joins the selfie camera craze – Camera makers are really into pumping out “selfie” cameras these days. Put an okay sensor in a portable camera, toss in a tilting, touchscreen LCD, add a few Instagram-like photo filters, and you’ve pretty much arrived at the standard formula. Nikon is the latest company to claim it’s mastered the selfie cam with its new Coolpix S6900. It features a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor paired with a 12x optical zoom lens that’ll fit all of your friends into group shots thanks to its wide-angle coverage (25-300mm).

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TV monitoring service is fair use, judge rules – Last year, Fox News sued (PDF) a media-monitoring service called TVEyes, which allows its clients to search for and watch clips of TV and radio stations. Fox lawyers argued the service violated copyright law and should be shut down. In a ruling (PDF) published yesterday, US District Judge Alvin Hallerstein disagreed, finding that TVEyes’ core services are a transformative fair use. It’s a significant digital-age fair use ruling, one that’s especially important for people and organizations who want to comment on or criticize news coverage.

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TVEyes iPhone app.

Something to think about:

“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.”

-    William Arthur Ward

Today’s Free Downloads:

Revo Uninstaller – Revo Uninstaller helps you to remove any unwanted application installed on your computer.

With its advanced and fast algorithm to scan before and after uninstall you can remove unnecessary files, folders and registry keys left in your computer after you have uninstall an application with its build in uninstaller.

With its unique “Hunter mode” it offers you some simple, easy to use but effective and powerful approaches to manage (uninstall, stop, delete, disable from autostarting) and to get information about your installed and/or running applications.

Revo Uninstaller gives you another 8 handy and powerful tools to clean up your system.

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Start Menu Reviver – Start Menu Reviver is the only choice that brings back the familiarity you’re accustomed to and embraces the enhancements in the future of Windows.

Truly Touchscreen-Friendly – The unique tile structure in Start Menu Reviver means that it is the only Start Menu that is truly touch-friendly.

Of course you can still use your mouse and keyboard, but with Start Menu Reviver you can also easily add, remove, move and edit at the touch of a finger.

Start Your Way – Start Menu Reviver accommodates up to 32 tiles so you can customize it for a truly personal experience. Choose which applications, documents, folders and more you want to launch directly from your Start Menu.

You can also change the tile images using our ever-growing library of icons, or create your very own.

Manage Desktop and Modern Applications – Launch both traditional desktop programs and new Windows 8 modern applications directly from the the Start Menu. No other product allows you to do this.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Secret Surveillance Battle Between Yahoo and the U.S. Government Revealed – More than 1,000 pages documenting a secret court battle between Yahoo and the government over warrantless surveillance will soon be released, the company said Thursday afternoon.

In 2007, Yahoo fought back against the government’s demand for information on certain overseas customers, saying that the request was over-broad and violated the constitution.

Yahoo’s challenge ultimately failed, knocked down by both the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, which oversees secret government spying) and its review court. The company then became one of the first to hand over information to the NSA’s PRISM program, which allowed the government access to records of internet users’ chats, emails, and search histories, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The targeted user was supposed to be foreign, but U.S. communications could still be swept up in the effort. Google, YouTube, AOL, and Skype were also among the companies that provided communications data to PRISM. According to the Washington Post, the government used the FISC court’s decision in the Yahoo case to pressure those others to comply.

In a statement on the company tumblr, Yahoo’s general counsel wrote that the government at one point threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 per day if it did not release the data. That revelation is among the 1,500 pages of documents that the company plans to post shortly, he said. Also included is the original FISC opinion from 2008 forcing Yahoo to acquiesce to the government’s  demands.

Dropbox Calls For Support Of The Senate’s NSA Reform Bill – This morning, Dropbox released new information detailing government requests for its user data, and information about certain user accounts. The company also called for the passage of the Senate’s version of the USA FREEDOM Act.

In the first half of 2014, Dropbox received “268 requests for user information from law enforcement agencies and 0-249 national security requests.” In a separate post, the company described that level of request as growing in keeping its user base. The amount of inquiry is expanding geometrically, in other words, and not exponentially.

The data itself, in terms of its gist, is mostly in line with other technology companies that report this sort of thing, with one interesting addition. Dropbox was comfortable calling out the government for being overly demanding in its requests for secrecy:

“Government agencies keep asking us not to notify users of requests for their data, even when they are not legally entitled to do so. If we receive a request that comes with a gag order, we’ll inform requesting agency of our policy and let users know about the request unless the agency provides a valid court order (or an equivalent).”

That’s worth knowing.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 11, 2014

Facebook Testing Self-Destruct Option for Posts;  Microsoft’s OneDrive now supports files up to 10GB;  30-Second Tech Trick: Faster iPhone Typing;  How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads;  5 must-know Excel macros for common tasks;  Hangouts for Android Updated – Google Voice Integration and Voice Calls;  Stay in the loop with these five mobile newsfeed apps;  Intel’s tiny Edison dev board is now on sale for $54;  The Best Second-Screen Apps for Watching TV;  Microsoft is testing playing Xbox games in your browser;  5 million Gmail passwords leaked; here’s how to protect yourself;  Reddit profited from leaked celeb pics;  Infographic: Security Tips for iOS 8;  Instagiffer (free);  SparkFun Blocks: 13 blocks for Intel’s Edison board.

Facebook Testing Self-Destruct Option for Posts – Facebook is taking a page from Snapchat’s book with a new feature that lets users set an expiration date for their posts. Several users have spotted the new option, which lets you set a post to vanish from the site in either one hour, three hours, six hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 2 days, or a week. At this point, the new feature is only available for some users on the Facebook iOS app

Microsoft’s OneDrive now supports files up to 10GB, faster syncing – Microsoft recently upped the file size limit on OneDrive from 2GB to an unknown maximum size – but now the company is confirming that 10GB is the new ceiling for file uploads.

Google Play Store refund window really is 2 hours now – We can finally put this rumor to rest. After previous speculation and random reports about Google’s new app refund policy, the Android maker has officially extended its refund timeout for Play Store app purchases to two hours, giving buyers enough time to test out apps and most especially games.

SwiftKey for iPhones and iPads to launch September 17 – Hope you haven’t had your fill of Apple and iPhone 6 news just yet, because here’s yet another one. SwiftKey has just booked a date on your calender when its popular third-party keyboard will be arriving on Apple’s devices. Starting 17th of September, SwiftKey will be available on iOS for the iPhone, the iPad, and even the iPod Touch.

30-Second Tech Trick: Faster iPhone Typing – A tap-tap here and a swipe-swipe there. That’s all it takes.

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Stay in the loop with these five mobile newsfeed apps – The world of IT and business has us going nonstop at a breakneck speed, so we need to be able to get our news on the run. One of the handiest ways to get that news is by subscribing to a newsfeed (or 12). You can easily keep tabs on technology, world events, finance, politics, and much more (from multiple sources) in a single app. As you might expect, tons of news-centric apps are available, making it tough to narrow the field to the best ones. Let’s see what mobile apps top the charts for feeding you the news you need.

Hangouts for Android Finally Updated with Google Voice Integration and Voice Calls – Google has pushed out a huge and long overdue update for the Hangouts Android app. This version completely revamps the UI, adds calling features, and integrates Google Voice. It’s basically everything we’ve been waiting for Google to do with it’s messaging products.

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U2’s new album is showing up on your iPhone whether you want it or not – This U2 thing, while adding to your media library rather than subtracting from it, has already caused a minor rash of Twitter complaints nonetheless (just search “iPhone U2″). If you don’t really want U2 to come up next time you put your phone on shuffle, there’s no way to permanently detach the album from your account, but there are ways to hide it so that you never have to lay ears on it.

How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads – Tired of targeted ads? Protect your user data with these alternatives to Google, Gmail, Chrome, and Google Drive.

TiVo’s new pricing scheme will let you hook up 12 rooms – Taking advantage of the fact that houses may have more than one room and that people might want to watch TV in some of them, TiVo is announcing a new offer that will accommodate that scenario well. For a monthly service fee of $14.99, TiVo subscribers will be able to string together up to 12 rooms so that they can get access to their recordings anywhere. As long as they’re in the house, of course.

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5 must-know Excel macros for common tasks – If you’re not using macros, you’re ignoring one of Excel’s most powerful features. Macros save you time and spare you headaches by automating common, repetitive tasks. And you don’t have to be a programmer or know Visual Basic Applications (VBA) to write one. With Excel 2013, it’s as simple as recording your keystrokes. Here we’ll show you how to create macros for five commonly performed functions.

Intel’s tiny Edison dev board is now on sale for $54 – It might not be as tiny as Intel initially wanted it to be, but it’s still small enough to cram into just about whatever connected creation you can dream up. It is a bit of a bummer that Edison had to outgrow its SD card form factor, but the finished product measures just 35.5mm by 25mm. That’s about one-third the size of a Raspberry Pi and about half as big as an Arduino Uno. Breakout boards make it slightly larger, but size wasn’t as much of a concern for Intel once they decided that Edison would be a better fit for prototyping IoT devices than wearables.

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SparkFun Blocks: 13 blocks for Intel’s Edison board – SparkFun has rolled out the red carpet for its new Blocks series of add-ons for Intel’s Edison board. With the SparkFun Blocks, users can bring additional functionality to the Edison board, such as adding a display — there are a total of 13 Blocks available spanning a variety of common functionalities.

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Top 5 reasons to upgrade to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus – There’s many reasons to pick up an iPhone 6 later this month, but here’s the top 5 that will tempt most people to upgrade.

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The Best Second-Screen Apps for Watching TV – If you’re watching live television without the aid of a smartphone or tablet, you’re missing out. There’s an entire world of apps out there designed to enhance your TV watching experience. And, all marketing hype aside, some of these apps are actually pretty darn good. Want to give the “second-screen” experience a try, but don’t know where to start? Here are some of our picks for the best second-screen apps for watching live TV.

Intel pastes second screen on prototype laptop – Forget laptop stickers: Intel’s pasted a second screen on a prototype laptop it showed at its annual developer conference. But the e-ink screen can do more than just show pictures. People can view news and weather feeds from the Internet even when the laptop is in hibernation mode. A Windows laptop operates at a very low power level when in hibernation — a state called “connected standby” mode — so the e-ink screen will continue to receive data as the Internet connection remains on.

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Security:

5 million Gmail passwords leaked; here’s how to protect yourself – If you’ve not heard by now, Gmail password have leaked out. On a Russian website known for trafficking this type of thing, about 5 million passwords were left for the world to see, replete with the Gmail account they’re associated with. Sounds scary, but don’t worry — here’s how you protect yourself. First, put your Gmail into this tool to see if you’ve been compromised. It scrapes the database left on that Russian site to see if your Gmail account is listed. If you’re not, good for you. If you are, that sucks. Either way, you should probably revisit your password, and let this article serve as your reminder to check the security of your passwords.

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Infographic: Security Tips for iOS 8 – Mere mortals like you and me will have to wait a bit longer before we can upgrade to iOS 8. However, software developers have had access to the OS for months. That makes them uniquely qualified to comment on the shiny new platform. The creators of the popular password manager Dashlane have put together a handy infographic listing iOS 8 security tips.

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Devastating ‘Heartbleed’ flaw was unknown before disclosure, study finds – One of the most serious software flaws to affect the Internet, nicknamed “Heartbleed,” was likely unknown before it was publicly disclosed, according to new research. The finding puts to rest fears that government spying agencies may have been exploiting the flaw for surveillance activities. Widespread attacks using Heartbleed only began about a day after information about it became public, according to the paper, published by researchers at several U.S. Universities. “We find no evidence of exploitation prior to the vulnerability’s public disclosure, but we detect subsequent exploit attempts from almost 700 sources beginning less than 24 hours after disclosure,” they wrote.

5 Nigerian gangs and their US accomplices are behind most Craigslist buyer scams – Research has found a new, more profitable twist on the same old 419 advance fee fraud scam. It involves real checks, printed on real check paper, using real routing numbers, and being handled with lots of US accomplices to cover up the Nigerians’ tracks.

Company News:

Moderator: Reddit profited from leaked celeb pics – The leaked celebrity photo scandal has many angles by which to consider it troubling. On one hand, iCloud being hacked is alarming, and that raised eyebrow came well ahead of wondering who was responsible or why they’d even do such a thing. Now it seems Reddit, where many saw the pics initially, actually profited greatly from the event. Moderator John Menese says Reddit disclosed to him that enough members from TheFappening signed up for Reddit gold, their $3.99/month subscription layer, to run Reddit servers for a month. Menese more than hints Reddit was burning the candle at both ends, too.

Twitter To Raise Up To $1.5B In Debt Offering – Twitter wants more cash. The company announced two $650 million debt offerings in a filing today, each with a potential $100 increase provided that the sales are oversubscribed. Assuming full tip, including the $100 million boosters, Twitter will raise up to $1.5 billion with the two offerings. Half the debt will be due in 2019, and the other half in 2021.

Qualcomm unveils Snapdragon 210, bringing 4G LTE to cheapest devices – Qualcomm is targeting the sub-$100 device market with its new Snapdragon 210 chipset, which includes 4G LTE connectivity and support for 1080p video playback, cameras up to 8MP, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC.

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Snapchat settles ownership dispute, says app idea came from ousted partner – Snapchat cofounders Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy have reached a settlement with former Stanford University colleague Frank Reginald “Reggie” Brown over an ownership dispute, admitting that Brown had originally come up with the idea for the app for sending disappearing picture messages.

Games and Entertainment:

Destiny cost $500 million to develop, Activision made that back at launch – Activision’s launch of Destiny is big on several levels. To start, the game pulled in half a billion dollars in sales in just one day. This means that not only was the game tremendously successful, but it shattered existing records for games sold in a digital format on games consoles. It’s also worth pointing out that Destiny cost roughly that same amount of money to make, which means when you add in marketing and extras, the game has more or less already paid for itself. This is a huge success financially, but perhaps even more impressive than sales is how well the launch was handled for users.

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This is what video games do after you stop playing – Mario falls asleep. Luigi plays with his nose. Earthworm Jim plays jump rope with himself. Conker juggles and then reads dirty magazines. Watch what happens when you forget to pick up the controller.

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Microsoft is testing playing Xbox games in your browser – Microsoft is currently testing a service that allows you to play Xbox games in your browser by utilizing a streaming service that it is building on top of Azure.

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Batman V Superman Batmobile revealed, and it’s awesome – Behold, another Batmobile. Just supposing you didn’t have enough Batmobile action last month with the extended reveal of the Batmobile for Arkham Knight, here’s another! This one comes from the Batman V Superman film coming to theaters in the near future. A small collection of previous Batmobiles for your enjoyment. Never say you’ve seen the craziest until you’ve seen the whole set. You can see more at Batmobile History – an awesome collective.

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Comedy Central, MTV, and other Viacom channels coming to Sony Cloud TV – Cord cutters will finally be able to stream some cable networks without having to, uh, “borrow” a pay-TV subscriber’s login. Viacom is letting Sony’s upcoming cloud TV service to carry at least 22 of its most popular networks.

Off Topic (Sort of):

California bars online retailers’ fines for negative reviews – In response to online retailers threatening their customers with hefty fines for posting negative reviews, California has passed legislation that bans businesses from trying to contractually prohibit customers from publicly expressing their opinion about the business.

Digital mapping project reveals Stonehenge secrets – The mysterious broken circle of giant stones is not, after all, all there is to Stonehenge. The monument, which could be anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 years old, and which consists of stones foreign to its home of Wiltshire, England, is just part of a larger site in which 17 previously unknown monuments have been discovered.

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’99 Luftballons’ performed on actual red balloons – In one of the best song covers we have ever heard, period, a YouTube superstar performs Nena’s 1983 single “99 Luftballons” using nothing but red balloons.

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So Apple’s watch turned out to be a thick, ugly, expensive yawner – Watch bands and bling. Seriously? This is Apple’s new category product? No. Instead, we got a watch Justin Bieber would wear.

Lines begin forming for iPhone 6 outside UK Apple Stores – It was bound to happen sooner or later, the queues are starting to form around the world. Last week we saw devout Apple fanatics in New York, this week the lines begin to form in the UK.

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The mix of poverty and piracy that turned Romania into Europe’s software development powerhouse – Western Europe may be struggling with a shortage of developers, but Romania’s unique technology history means it has no such worries. The country currently has more than 64,000 certified IT professionals, according to Gartner, and plays host to large offices of companies including Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Bitdefender, and Vodafone. It may be the second poorest country in the European Union, but Romania is leading Europe in technology workers per capita, and ranks sixth in the world.

Something to think about:

“The beginning of thought is in disagreement – not only with others but also with ourselves.”

-     Eric Hoffer

Today’s Free Downloads:

Instagiffer – Instagiffer makes it easy to GIF directly from video files, online video sites like Youtube or anything on your screen (ie. Netflix, games, etc).

Features:

YouTube to GIF conversion. Supports hundreds of online video sites in addition to YouTube

Creates optimized, quality GIFs under 1MB in size

Open and edit existing GIF files (handy for captioning / resizing)

Make cool 2×2 GIF sets (example #2)

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Unchecky Beta – Unchecky aims to keep potentially unwanted programs out of your computer. 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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Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows – Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.

Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.

Features:

Comprehensive malware protection

Simple, free download

Automatic updates

Easy to use

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft Held In Contempt As It Battles A Domestic Search Warrant Demanding Overseas Data – Microsoft has been held in contempt of court after failing to comply with a warrant, following a rejection of a request for appeal on July 31st.

The case stems from a United States government search warrant for data stored on a Microsoft server in Ireland. Microsoft contends that the data is outside the purview of the domestic warrant. The United States government disagrees.

Microsoft has thus far failed to gain traction in court, over several rounds, for its position. The technology industry has mostly aligned behind the software company. That Microsoft is willing to be held in contempt, even though the order appears to be mostly procedural, underscores how the company weighs the matter.

The court order’s tone is almost humorous: Microsoft isn’t doing what it has been told to do, and it thus being held in contempt, but the government isn’t seeking an immediate penalty, and Microsoft is really acting in the current fashion to ensure that it can continue to appeal.

WikiLeaks Spy Files: The interactive searchable database – In early September 2013 WikiLeaks released its last batch of leaked Spy Files –  which it had started releasing in 2011. To mark this anniversary, one of Silk’s data journalists Alice Corona cleaned and structured the data to build an interactive database combining the three Spy Files releases.

Currently, there are 559 leaked company documents, and 15 location tracking reports from WikiLeaks Counter Intelligence Unit (WLCIU). The 559 files disclose to the public internal documents from more than 100 companies specialized in intelligence and (mass) surveillance technologies. These technologies are sold both to Western governments and to dictators, and have been used by the Syrian government.

The 15 documents from WLCIU reveal the timestamps and locations of 20 members of these companies, whose whereabouts WikiLeaks has decided to track in order to show where the main surveillance contractors are sending its people. But what does the Spy Files database actually contain? Which are the most recurring intelligence companies and what systems do they target? How to download exactly the leaked document your research calls for? To answer these questions, we’ve decided to import WikiLeaks’s DB into Silk, to combine it with semantic technologies, a powerful query engine and a user-friendly interactive visualization interface.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 10, 2014

The best free Android apps for teachers;  Amazon Finally Makes Instant Video Available on Android;  The One Slide That Perfectly Illustrates Why Australians Feel Ripped Off;  5 apps business travelers shouldn’t leave home without;  Easy Android file encryption with Encdroid (free);  iTunes users can now download U2’s latest album for free;  The Apple Watch is here, and it’s damn impressive;  MailTime Turns Your Email Inbox Into An SMS Chat Session;  iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus: Apple’s phone gets big and bigger;  Adobe fixes critical flaws in Flash Player, delays Reader and Acrobat updates;  Gain control over app permissions with Ap Ops (free);  EU rejects Google antitrust deal;  Destiny first-look: It’s a small universe after all;  Apple denied retrial in Samsung patent case; Netflix is exploiting our rights in Australia: Foxtel;  The Rise of Mobile Phones from 1916 to Today;  Long lost ship discovery helps put Franklin Expedition to rest.

Be a rock star educator with the best free Android apps for teachers – Whether it is creating engaging lessons, improving behavior, or managing the excessive amount of paperwork that comes with being a teacher, these apps will be a tremendous resource. Many of these apps are ideal for 1:1 environments, where you can instantly get feedback and track assessment data from your students. All of the featured apps are free in the Play Store and work across Android phones and tablets.

Easy Android file encryption with Encdroid – In light of the recent debacle with the iCloud hack, it’s nice to find out you can find some easy-to-use third-party tools on Android to encrypt your more sensitive files and folders. One such tool is Encdroid. This particular encryption tool creates volumes that are compatible with EncFS, so they can be read from Windows, Linux, and Mac. Encdroid allows you to encrypt your files/folders with Dropbox, Google Drive, or the local storage of the device. The app is free and quite simple to use. Let’s walk through the process of installing and using Encdroid to encrypt files and folders within Google Drive.

How to manage your Google location history – Google really is tracking your every move. By default, an Android device records your location and compiles it into a personalized map, complete with timestamps and animation to detail all your moves throughout the day. As creepy as it sounds, it is actually really easy to turn this off and delete the entire location history from Google’s servers. The company even offers a help page for doing so, with the obligatory caveats about differences for specific devices and versions of Android.

Gain control over app permissions with Ap Ops – If you happen to have a rooted Android device and want to gain total control over app permissions, Jack Wallen shows you how with App Ops.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Malware blocking app mysteriously pulled from Play Store – In a time when identity theft and information pinching is prevalent, it seems salient that you’d want something that could protect you from being tracked without your knowledge. Disconnect Mobile does just that, blocking you from being tracked or fed potentially malicious ads. Once removed from the Play Store, Disconnect Mobile came back last night. The return didn’t last long, as Google kicked them out in a few short hours. Google tells Disconnect Mobile they’re in violation of section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement. That section states that no app can interfere with other apps or Android services. There was no detail laid out for Disconnect Mobile, just a blanket excuse for pulling the app.

Apple Pay removes the hassle from online payments – Apple has come up with a whole new way for your to pay, and it is called Apple Pay. With this feature, users can use the card they have on file with iTunes or any card you’ve added to pay for goods, only a simple touch of the TouchID required. This feature will include an option for online payments, as well.

Amazon Finally Makes Instant Video Available on Android – Amazon has a large catalog of streaming video in its Instant Video store, but most Android devices have been locked out of the service until now. After originally being restricted to Fire devices, Amazon has finally released an Instant Video app for all Android devices. The way you get it, though, is quite odd.

5 apps business travelers shouldn’t leave home without – Travel. It’s a fact of life for many professionals. Love it or hate it, chances are good you could use a hand with your plans. Whether it’s booking your flight, finding the perfect seat on the plane, or simply remembering to bring your socks, there’s an app that can help. Here are five of my favorites.

Turn your smartphone into a remote control for your torrent client – The BitTorrent protocol isn’t just for pirates, it’s also a great way to legally download indie documentaries, music, and open source software such as Linux distributions or the Tor Browser. The problem with torrents is that you may across something you’d like to download while browsing on your smartphone or tablet. But how are you going to remember to download that torrent once you’re back at your PC? Remote apps for Android to the rescue. Many major torrent clients offer remote apps on mobile that let you add downloads to an active PC while you’re in the other room or sitting in the back of a taxi downtown.

The Apple Watch is here, and it’s damn impressive – Apple has gone well above what had been imagined by most when it comes to the smartwatch. The design relies on a combination of touch, voice, and a traditional watch crown to handle a whole new kind of UI. They call it the Digital Crown, and it’s designed to control the majority of interactions while also acting as the home button. This square design is smooth and rounded, and comes in the same three colors as the iPhone. Like the variety of phone cases on the market, there are plenty of Apple-made watch bands to personalize the experience.

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Over 500 million iTunes users can now download U2’s latest album for free – After months of speculation and rumor, Apple has announced the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch, and Apple Pay. While these devices and services will undoubtedly become huge news pieces over the next couple of days, what could be lost in the mix is Apple’s announcement that they would be launching U2’s latest album, “Songs of Innocence”, for free on iTunes.

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iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus: Apple’s phone gets big and bigger – The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is packing a 1334×750 resolution display with 38% more pixels that the iPhone 5S, while the iPhone 6 Plus manages to be the first iPhone with a 1080p display and 185% more pixels than the 5S. Instead of the highly rumored sapphire display, Apple has opted for what they call Ion-strengthened glass with a better IPS display and an improved backlight. Apple has made the 16GB iPhone 6 available at $199 and the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus available at $299, with 64GB and 128GB versions available for $100 and $200 more respectively.

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iPhone 6: 8 Reasons to Buy, 6 Reasons to Wait – Do you really need one of Apple’s bigger iPhones? These 14 pros and cons should help you decide.

How Turnitin Helped Me Catch a Plagiarist – I knew the essay had been plagiarized, but I couldn’t prove it. It’s a predicament I’d heard around the department coffee pot perennially, only this time, I was saying it. I had wasted the afternoon testing free plagiarism checkers like Plagium and the aptly named, yet frustratingly concise (capped at 32-word excerpts), PlagiarismChecker. None of tools had been able to locate any clues. Had my instincts led me astray? It was the last month of the semester. Perhaps all the caffeine had scrambled my judgment. There was something askew with this essay, but I wouldn’t be able to identify what it was until I found iParadigms’ Turnitin.

Google Voice not completely dead, now rolling out to Hangouts – Earlier this year it was rumored that Google was killing off Google Voice completely, opting instead to integrate VoIP features to Hangouts; that rollout has started and you can migrate to it now.

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MailTime Turns Your Email Inbox Into An SMS Chat Session – MailTime, which launches today as part of the Startup Battlefield, is designed to change the way in which users interact with email and make it more like text messaging. The app has an intelligent content parsing engine and the ability to summarize long emails in a way that places messages into a conversation view.

Security:

Adobe fixes critical flaws in Flash Player, delays Reader and Acrobat updates – Adobe Systems released a critical security update for Flash Player that fixes 12 security vulnerabilities, but pushed back its planned patches for Reader and Acrobat by a week. The Flash Player updates, available for Windows, Mac and Linux, address nine vulnerabilities that could lead to remote code execution and three that can allow attackers to bypass security features, including memory address randomization and the same-origin policy.

Cisco says ‘Kyle and Stan’ attack is spreading through compromised ad networks – Cisco has spotted some big names serving up malicious advertising: YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! among them. A Borg blogger, Armin Pelkmann, with fellow-authors Shaun Hurley and David McDaniel, writes that what the company calls the “Kyle and Stan” malware campaign began in May, and uses redirects to try and trick users into downloading a new media player that ships malware in its payload. The high-profile serving domains – along with many others – are, of course, receiving the “malvertising” from ad networks that have been tricked into hosting the attack content.

Microsoft Has Just One Critical Patch in September Patch Tuesday – Microsoft is giving administrators a break with a relatively light Patch Tuesday release in September. The company fixed 42 bugs across four bulletins covering Internet Explorer, the .NET Framework, Windows Task Scheduler, and Microsoft Lync. Apply the Internet Explorer update. It may protect you from zero-day attacks.

‘Anti-router’ stops drones, cameras, and Google Glass from connecting to Wi-Fi networks – Are you paranoid that strangers are using drones, security cameras, hidden microphones, or even Google Glass to spy on you? If so, you might be interested in a little device called Cyborg Unplug. Just stick it into a power outlet and watch as it sounds an alarm whenever such a surveillance device enters the vicinity of your home. Even better, you can lock those devices from connecting to your Wi-Fi network. If you’re really looking to make a statement, you can even show those “Glassholes” who’s boss by preventing all surveillance devices near your Cyborg Unplug from connecting to any Wi-Fi network.

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Encryption failures fixed in popular PGP email security tool Enigmail – Developers of the popular Enigmail email security extension for Thunderbird have fixed several issues that could have exposed messages users believed to be encrypted. Enigmail provides a graphical user interface in the Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey programs that allows users to digitally sign and encrypt email messages using the OpenPGP standard.

Salesforce warns customers of malware attack – Salesforce.com users are being targeted by a new version of a computer Trojan that has typically attacked online banking customers until now. The malware threat is called Dyre or Dyreza and came to light in June. Like most online banking Trojans, it hooks the browser process to capture log-in credentials entered by users on websites belonging to financial institutions.

Company News:

EU rejects Google antitrust deal – Google is known pretty much throughout the world for its innovation in search and development of new technologies, such as self-driving cars that can navigate city streets. This does not mean that they do not encounter trouble from time to time, such as lawsuits from Microsoft, or even scrutiny from regulatory bodies. We covered that the European Union (EU) rejected Google’s antitrust deal last year. In fact, part of the reason of that rejection was probably due to complaints from companies like Microsoft.

Microsoft said to be buying the maker of ‘Minecraft’ for $2 billion – Microsoft is nearing a deal to buy Mojang AB, makers of the Minecraft video game franchise, according to a new report. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal would value Mojang at more than $2 billion and could be signed as soon as this week.

Netflix is exploiting our rights in Australia: Foxtel – Foxtel won’t seek government intervention in stopping Australians from bypassing geoblocks to access Netflix in the United States, stating that it is up to film studios to pressure Netflix to stop ‘exploiting’ a market it hasn’t launched in yet.

Apple denied retrial in Samsung patent case – Apple will not be allowed a new trial on damages for infringement of its patents by Samsung Electronics, a U.S. court decided Monday. Apple had asked Judge Lucy Koh in the San Jose division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for a retrial over some patents. It made the request after a jury awarded it $119.6 million in damages in May, much less than the $2 billion it had asked for.

Snapchat settles suit with booted co-founder Reggie Brown – After much legal wrangling, the fraternity brothers come to an agreement about the early development of the ephemeral messaging app.

Salesforce.com launches new European data center in France – With a UK data center set to open this fall, Salesforce plans to expand its European base by also moving in to France and Germany.

Games and Entertainment:

Destiny first-look: It’s a small universe after all – Enough paper-thin preview events, enough alphas, and enough betas: As of midnight early Tuesday morning, we at Ars finally began fulfilling our Destiny. The long-hyped online shooter from Bungie launched on four consoles simultaneously overnight, and with no major press or critical preview period to speak of, we are only a brief number of missions, multiplayer battles, and public events into our loot-loaded, outer-space quest.

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Madden NFL 15 update will scrub all traces of Ray Rice from game – Amidst all the controversy surrounding disgraced NFL player Ray Rice, who was captured on video hitting his fiance in an elevator, comes news that he will be scrubbed from Madden NFL 15 with an upcoming game update. EA confirmed the plan to USA Today’s Brett Molina.

When We Play Video Games, Who Are We? – That players have choices is considered one of the medium’s exciting traits, but I always struggled a little bit to connect to games that have that kind of openness—am I playing a character, or am I being me?

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Asus squeezes a fanless dual-GPU Radeon 290x card into a single slot – As graphics cards have become ever more powerful we’ve seen them move to a form factor that takes up the space of two slots on your motherboard. It’s required to fit in the necessary cooling for all that processing power. However, Asus is bucking the trend and has managed to produce a single-slot dual-GPU card thanks to the use of a water block as standard.

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VIDEO: Teens React to the Original NES – In 1983, Nintendo released one of the best-selling consoles ever and helped to revitalize the video game market. But by today’s standards, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is rather quaint. When the Fine Brothers—producers of the popular “Kids React to…” Web series—presented the retro machine to a group of teens, most scoffed at the dated technology. “It looks like a brick,” 15-year-old Michael said. “From like 1920,” twin sister Miracle added.

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Watch the DuckTales opening sequence filmed with real ducks – The folks over at official Disney blog Oh My Disney have sure been busy. To kick off 90s week, they’ve decided to celebrate a 90s Disney icon: DuckTales, starring Huey, Dewey, Louie, and their uncle, Scrooge McDuck. And not just any old how, either: from somewhere, the team has rustled up a bunch of ducks and put them in adorable little hats and aeroplanes to recreate the opening sequence: Scrooge’s money vault, Launchpad McQuack flying his plane, even the famous submarine scene — although sadly lacking the shark kiss. Watch it below — along with the original opening sequence for a side-by-side comparison, if you like — for an adorably fluffy trip down memory lane.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The One Slide That Perfectly Illustrates Why Australians Feel Ripped Off – The slide was presented by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and shows the long delays and exorbitant charges laid on Australians with regards to film, TV and music using three recent examples.

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Amazon owns amazonstinks.com to stop you using it in anger – The majority of Amazon’s employees are focused on ensuring the company can sell as many products as possible and deliver them on time to very happy customers. But sometimes that’s not possible, customers get angry, and they need to vent. Amazon is well aware that this can happen, and so it is buying up anti-Amazon domain names to ensure angry people can’t use them.

iPhone: A visual history – In early 2007 Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone. Designed to “reinvent the phone,” Apple’s iPhone has revolutionized smartphones and shaped the industry into what it is today. The first iPhone mixed a capacitive 3.5-inch multi-touch display with touch-optimized software in a simple package that was unlike anything else on the market. Over the last seven years, Apple has refined and tweaked its iPhone into what it is today: the iPhone 6.

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The Rise of Mobile Phones from 1916 to Today – Here’s how portable telephones — and the ways we use them — have evolved over the past century, from the front lines of World War I to selfies with the Queen.

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KYPROS/GETTY IMAGES

1980 – An early mobile phone during the Iranian Embassy siege at Princes Gate in South Kensington, London.

Long lost ship discovery helps put Franklin Expedition to rest – More than a century ago, two British ships took off to explore the Arctic with a total of 129 men, seeking to chart the Northwest Passage. Unfortunately, both ships disappeared with all on-board, and for the past several years, the Canadian government has been searching for the ships’ remains. Today it announced that one has been located.

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Reddit is a failed state – As Reddit trips over itself trying to contain its stolen nude photo problem, CEO Yishan Wong finally addressed the controversy on Saturday by releasing a remarkably clueless manifesto. Reddit, he wrote, is “not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community.” So, then, what type of government is Reddit? It’s the kind any reasonable person would want to overthrow.

Something to think about:

“Television enables you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn’t have in your home.”

-     David Frost

Today’s Free Downloads:

VirtualBox – VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.

Features:

Modularity. VirtualBox has an extremely modular design with well-defined internal programming interfaces and a client/server design. This makes it easy to control it from several interfaces at once: for example, you can start a virtual machine in a typical virtual machine GUI and then control that machine from the command line, or possibly remotely. VirtualBox also comes with a full Software Development Kit: even though it is Open Source Software, you don’t have to hack the source to write a new interface for VirtualBox.

Virtual machine descriptions in XML. The configuration settings of virtual machines are stored entirely in XML and are independent of the local machines. Virtual machine definitions can therefore easily be ported to other computers.

Guest Additions for Windows and Linux. VirtualBox has special software that can be installed inside Windows and Linux virtual machines to improve performance and make integration much more seamless. Among the features provided by these Guest Additions are mouse pointer integration and arbitrary screen solutions (e.g. by resizing the guest window).

Shared folders. Like many other virtualization solutions, for easy data exchange between hosts and guests, VirtualBox allows for declaring certain host directories as “shared folders”, which can then be accessed from within virtual machines.

A number of extra features are available with the full VirtualBox release only.

Virtual USB Controllers. VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices to your virtual machines without having to install device specific drivers on the host.

Remote Desktop Protocol. Unlike any other virtualization software, VirtualBox fully supports the standard Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). A virtual machine can act as an RDP server, allowing you to “run” the virtual machine remotely on some thin client that merely displays the RDP data.

USB over RDP. With this unique feature, a virtual machine that acts as an RDP server can still access arbitrary USB devices that are connected on the RDP client. This way, a powerful server machine can virtualize a lot of thin clients that merely need to display RDP data and have USB devices plugged in.

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Emsisoft Emergency Kit 9 – A collection of programs that can be used without a software installation to scan and clean infected computers for malware.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner

With the Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner you have got the powerful Emsisoft Scanner including graphical user interface. Search the infected PC for Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Adware, Worms, Dialers, Keyloggers and other malign programs.

Run the Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner with a double click on a2emergencykit.exe. Found Malware can be moved to quarantine or finally deleted.

Emsisoft Commandline Scanner

This scanner contains the same functionality as the Emergency Kit Scanner but without a graphical user interface. The commandline tool is made for professional users and can be used perfectly for batch jobs.

To run the Emsisoft Commandline Scanner, do the following actions:

- Open a command prompt window (Run: cmd.exe)

- Switch to the drive of the USB Stick (e.g.: f :) and then to the folder of the executable files (e.g.: cd run)

- Run the scanner by typing: a2cmd.exe

Next you will see a help page describing all available parameters.

Next is an example to scan drive c: with enabled Memory, Traces (Registry) and Cookie scan with active Heuristic module and archive support. Found Malware is moved to quarantine.

a2cmd.exe /f=”c:” /m /t /c /h /a /q=”c:quarantine”

Emsisoft HiJackFree

HiJackFree helps advanced users to detect and remove Malware manually. With HiJackFree you can manage all active processes, services, drivers, autoruns, open ports, hosts file entries and many more. For your full control over your system.

Emsisoft BlitzBlank

BlitzBlank is a tool for experienced users and all those who must deal with Malware on a daily basis. Malware infections are not always easy to clean up. These days the software pests use clever techniques to protect themselves from being deleted. In more and more cases it is almost impossible to delete a Malware file while Windows is running. BlitzBlank deletes files, Registry entries and drivers at boot time before Windows and all other programs are loaded.

Self made Emergency USB stick

Expand the content of the Emsisoft Emergency Kit to an USB stick and make your own universal tool to scan and clean infected PCs.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International – Privacy International has taken the “Five-Eyes” spying issue to court, filing a demand that the agreements between participant countries – the US, the (currently) UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – be made public. As its filing states, the court action follows a freedom of information (FOI) request for information about the UK’s GCHQ, which Privacy International filed mainly with the aim of getting a rejection. That FOI request was rejected (as the privacy group knew it would be) because GCHQ is specifically exempted from FOI laws. Similar requests were filed and turned down in the other four countries party to the “Five-Eyes” agreements.

As the group explains, “Privacy International has asked the European Court of Human Rights to rule that intelligence agencies should not be entitled to keep the details of such arrangements hidden from the public.”

Microsoft agrees to contempt order so e-mail privacy case can be appealed – Microsoft has reached a deal with the US government in which it will agree to be held in contempt of court in order to move an e-mail privacy case on to appeal.

The case is over a government demand for e-mails stored on a Microsoft server in Dublin, Ireland, that are related to an investigation into narcotics trafficking.

The Obama administration has said that the company must comply with valid warrants for data, even when the data is held overseas. Microsoft say that’s wrong and that the ability to enforce US law stops at the nation’s borders.

It’s a case with big implications, but it got mired down in procedural confusion after US District Judge Loretta Preska sided with the government. Microsoft stated that it would still not hand over the e-mail and would continue to an appeals court; the government said that if Microsoft wanted to do that, it should be held in contempt.

“Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court,” Microsoft said in a statement last week. “This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen.”

As of yesterday, the procedural disagreement appears to be resolved. Microsoft and the Department of Justice agreed to a deal in which it would be held in contempt, but not be punished in any way—for now. The government said it “reserves its right to seek sanctions” if the situation changes.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 9, 2014

How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads;  12 Hidden Firefox Functions for Browsing Like a Boss;  E Fun introduces $79 quad-core Android tablet;  Disconnect for Android Returns to Google Play;  This is what social media is doing to your brain;  Heavy VPN users are probably pirates says BBC;  Hackers launch Apple ID phishing campaign;  Clear the Clutter With Office Delve;  Amazon Drone Store: a new section dedicated to UAVs;  Microsoft details October’s major Xbox One update;  Hitman GO is Free on iOS with a Promo Code from IGN;  Why do dead alkaline batteries bounce?  Behold, the world’s first Intelligent Car (1956);  Lansweeper (free);  Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit (free).

How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads – Google’s search engine, browser, and other products present a Faustian bargain: In exchange for excellent, free Google services your data is used for advertising. And for some it’s getting to be too much. If you’ve decided that keeping all your eggs in one online basket is unwise, there are viable alternatives. Some are arguably not as full-featured as what Google has. But using your email without ads or knowing that performing a web search won’t result in a ton of related advertisements may be enough to encourage you to go on a Google-free diet.

E Fun introduces $79 quad-core Android tablet – For only $10 more than the price of a non-touchscreen Kindle, you can get a full-featured Nextbook tablet. Surely there must be a catch?

12 Hidden Firefox Functions for Browsing Like a Boss – After a brief hiatus, Firefox 31 recently nabbed a PCMag Editors’ Choice award for best browser. We were impressed inside and out; Mozilla’s under-the-hood upgrades shined through in our lab tests and we were positively smitten with the browser’s stylish new layout (if you’ve been lured away by other browsers in recent years, Firefox is a far sexier beast than the one you may remember).

This is what social media is doing to your brain – Can you become addicted to social media? Are active social-media users better at multitasking? A video from AsapSCIENCE shows us how social media is changing our brains.

Spotify video ads inbound: Watch a 30-sec mobile ad, get 30 minutes of nonstop music – Spotify is all about audio, but soon ads on the streaming service won’t be. The new video ads will show up on the desktop and mobile, but smartphone and tablet users will have the opportunity to swap up to 30 seconds of their attention for 30 minutes of ad-free music.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

A router and an extender: When your laptop doesn’t know which to use – If you carry a laptop, tablet, or smartphone through a home with multiple access points (such as routers and range extenders), the device should latch onto the access point with the strongest signal—presumably the closest one. Therefore, it should appear to be continually connected as you move from room to room. But technology doesn’t always behave the way it should.

Clear the Clutter With Office Delve – With so many Internet-based services to keep us organized, connected, and synergized, the influx of information can have the counterproductive effect of being completely overwhelming. With that in mind, Microsoft has released Office Delve for Office 365 business customers. Essentially, the service will work across Office to pull the most relevant data into one app. Everything is presented in a card-based design, sort of like Pinterest or Flipboard for work.

Disconnect for Android Returns to Google Play with Anti-Tracking Features Intact – You are no longer an anonymous specter floating through the internet tubes. These days there is a massive network of tracking cookies and ads that keep tabs on you to more effectively sell you stuff. Some might say that’s the price for all this free content, but if you’re not cool with it, there’s an Android app that can help.

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Motorola Turbo Charger claims to deliver 8 hours of battery life on a 15 minute charge – The Motorola Turbo Charger utilizes Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 technology to deliver what it claims is 8 hours of battery life in just a 15 minute charge. But is it truly what its cracked up to be?

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Heavy VPN users are probably pirates says BBC – BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC that markets its products around the world, has told Australia’s government that heavy users of “IP obfuscation tools” are so suspicious that internet service providers (ISPs) should consider them as likely content pirates. The organisation states that case in a submission (PDF) to Australia’s consultation online copyright infringement, a government effort to decide how the nation should deal with illegal downloading of films and television shows.

(There ya go! Not only are you a potential threat to state security (according to the NSA), if you connect through a VPN – but the BBC considers you a likely pirate. How long then, until a government, or governments, consider outlawing VPNs as an enterprise protection measure? Far fetched? Stay tuned.)

Security:

Instagram, Grindr, and more popular Android apps put user privacy at risk, researcher says – The findings comes from the University of New Haven’s Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group (UNHcFREG), which earlier this year found vulnerabilities in the messaging applications WhatsApp and Viber. This time, they expanded their analysis to a broader range of Android applications, looking for weaknesses that could put data at risk of interception. The group will release one video a day this week on their YouTube channel highlighting their findings, which they say could affect upwards of 1 billion users.

Hackers launch Apple ID phishing campaign playing on iCloud security worries – The hackers behind the Kelihos botnet are trying to capitalize on users’ increased awareness about the security of Apple online accounts through a new phishing campaign. The fake messages instruct users to click on a link if they didn’t initiate the purchase. The link leads to a phishing site that masquerades as the Apple ID log-in page and harvests credentials inputted by users for later misuse.

Home Depot Finally Confirms Its Payment System Was Hacked For Months – Remember that “suspicious activity” that Home Depot was looking into last week? Six days later, the company has at last publicly confirmed that the “suspicious activity” was a breach of its payments system. Credit card data was exposed, though Home Depot is quick to note that PINs were not. If you used a credit card at Home Depot in the past 4-5 months, you should consider it stolen.

iCloud now notifies you if account accessed via web – Of course, this isn’t a security stopgap. If someone other than you accessed your iCloud account, they may have made off with documents or pictures. All you’d really get is an early notification, and a prompt to change your password if necessary. Still, it shows Apple is taking the cloud seriously, and is continually working on fixing issues as they see fit.

Comcast Wi-Fi serving self-promotional ads via JavaScript injection – Comcast has begun serving Comcast ads to devices connected to one of its 3.5 million publicly accessible Wi-Fi hotspots across the US. Comcast’s decision to inject data into websites raises security concerns and arguably cuts to the core of the ongoing net neutrality debate. The advertisements may appear about every seven minutes or so, he said, and they last for just seconds before trailing away. Douglas said the advertising campaign only applies to Xfinity’s publicly available Wi-Fi hot spots that dot the landscape. Comcast customers connected to their own Xfinity Wi-Fi routers when they’re at home are not affected, he said.

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A snippet from a JavaScript file Comcast injected into an Internet surfer’s visit to the site Mediagazer.

(Is this HACKING – or not?)

CloudAlloy Makes Docs In The Cloud More Secure By Breaking Them Into Pieces – One of the key issues facing companies when they put their content in the cloud is security, but what if you could send your documents to the cloud without security concerns? CloudAlloy, a company displaying at the Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt this week, breaks your documents into pieces, spreading them across the cloud services and putting them back together whenever you call the document.

Company News:

Amazon Drone Store: a new section dedicated to UAVs – Amazon’s drone delivery service mightn’t be a reality, but your ability to buy drones through the Internet retailer is, and it just made the task a bit simpler. The company has rolled out a new section aptly called the Amazon Drone Store, which is dedicated to UAVs of all sorts and their related gear.

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Facebook Hits 100M Users In Africa, Half The Continent’s Internet-Connected Population – The news suggests that if drones, satellites, and deals for free access from local carriers can spread the Internet to more people around the world in places like India and South America, a big percentage of them will become consistent Facebook users.

Netflix Joins Sept. 10 ‘Internet Slowdown’ Event – On Sept. 10, a number of top startups – from Kickstarter and Etsy to Reddit and WordPress – will add widgets to their sites that display the dreaded “loading” wheel one might see when trying to watch a video over a slow connection. Unlike the 2012 Internet blackout day in protest of SOPA and PIPA, the “Slowdown” event won’t actually slow service on these companies’ websites. Instead, it will serve as “a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House.”

Alcatel OneTouch says it plans to launch Windows Phone tablets, including 10-inch device – Alcatel OneTouch launched a Windows Phone 7.8 device back in 2012, but its chief marketing officer says it plans to return with tablets running Windows Phone, including a 10-inch device.

Another victory for Kim Dotcom, he’s getting all Megaupload data back – Megaupload, shut down in January 2012, is getting back the data confiscated by the FBI at the time of said shut down. It’s a small victory for both founder Kim Dotcom and the users that paid him.

Tinder settles sexual harassment lawsuit with former exec – A lawsuit from a former employee accused the dating app’s co-founders of condoning a “frat-like” environment, in which she was called disparaging names.

Games and Entertainment:

Hitman GO is Free on iOS with a Promo Code from IGN – Are you interested in picking up one of the best strategy games ever to grace a mobile device? You don’t even have to pay full price. In fact, there’s no price. Hitman GO is currently available for free on iOS via a promotion on IGN. Just click a few buttons, and you’ll get a promo code to download the game for free.  It’s a very polished game with lots of content and more arriving all the time. It’s more than worth the usual $4.99 asking price, but for free you really can’t complain.

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Microsoft details October’s major Xbox One update with a video preview – Microsoft is planning on adding a wealth of new features to Xbox One over the coming months, and they’ve posted a new video showcasing all of the new additions coming in October.

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Bungie opts to hold off on early reviews for Destiny – No early reviews for ‘Destiny’ as Bungie opts to hold off reviews until after the game has launched so that reviewers can explore more of the game before publishing scores.

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White PlayStation 4 (DS4) controllers USA release tomorrow – Just in time for the midnight release of Destiny, Sony is releasing their “Glacier White” DualShock 4 controllers to the public. These controllers will be available inside the United States through Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and GameStop as early as tomorrow morning. Pre-orders start today, if you (for some reason) believe they’ll sell out before you can hit the store.

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Gamdias EROS V2 gaming headset Review – High quality headsets aren’t often cheap – the folks at Gamdias are hoping to change that. Releasing the Gamdias EROS V2 earlier this year, the team behind the gaming company made an awesome combination: a surprisingly pleasant gaming headset experience with a price that won’t eviscerate your wallet.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Incredible vintage Soviet space gear headed for auction – An auction on September 13 will see the sale of 104 pieces of memorabilia from the Soviet space program, including a cognac bottle signed by Yuri Gagarin.

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Why do dead alkaline batteries bounce? – You might have heard that the difference between a dead and good alkaline battery can be determined by seeing which one bounces when dropped. A battery with usable capacity doesn’t bounce, but a dead once bounces quite a bit when dropped. If you are curious why that is, a genial older gentleman has a YouTube video that explains everything.

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Behold, the world’s first Intelligent Car – Amid chat of a new wave of smart vehicles for their Cadillac line this week, General Motors also made note of the first “Smart Car” they ever produced. Amongst the first smart vehicle concepts to have ever graced the showroom floor was the Firebird II. Today we’re having a brief look at what the future looked like in 1956.

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Superman gets limited edition coins from Canadian mint – For a superhero whose earliest battle cry was “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”, this might have been that last thing you’d expect. But perhaps proving that Superman’s appeal, message, and influence reaches beyond the borders of any single country, or planet for that matter, the Royal Canadian Mint is giving tribute to the fictional alien who has made our planet his home.

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Meet Some Australian Families Giving Their Children Medicinal Cannabis – They don’t need a bag packed at night any more, they can go to bed without preparing for the worst, and their kids are energetic, whereas before they were just zonked out all the time. The only thing bad about the kid-friendly marijuana tincture they use is that it’s hard to get. Two questions emerge here: is medicinal cannabis is actually medicinal? And if so, will removing it adversely affect sick children. To find out, we spoke to some of the parents around the country who use the Mullaway tincture. Here’s what they said.

Why Steve Ballmer wrote Windows’ classic Crtl+Alt+Delete text himself – Windows is famous for its blue screen of death, but back in the early days of the operating system, that familiar blue hue wasn’t limited to system-crashing errors alone. Windows 3.x featured a similar CRTL + ALT + DELETE screen that provided you with various options for misbehaving programs. And as it turns out, those options were written by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer himself, who led the company’s Systems Division at the time, according to Microsoft veteran Raymond Chen.

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Something to think about:

“It’s the company, not the cooking, that makes a meal.”

-    Kirby Larson, Hattie Big Sky, 2006

Today’s Free Downloads:

Lansweeper – Lansweeper is an automated network discovery and asset management tool which scans all your computers and devices and displays them in an easy accessible web interface. There is no need to install any agents on the computers, all scanning is done by standard build-in functionality.

Software inventory – With Lansweeper it’s easy to track and audit all your installed software, you can create powerful software inventory reports to find out which application is installed on which computer. Google unknown software and publishers right from the web interface and find out who is running software that’s not up to date.

Hardware inventory – Lansweeper cannot only detect all hardware devices in your computers but with it’s change tracking it can find out when a device was changed or removed. Not only does Lansweeper scans windows devices, it also gathers details about all other IP enabled devices on your network from the network discovery scan. (Linux, Printers, Routers, …)

License compliance – If you want to keep all software and operating systems licenses up to date it can be a time consuming work. With Lansweeper computer inventory it doesn’t need to be… The webinterface will tell you how many software versions are installed and how much licenses you are missing.

Compliance reporting – Every company needs policies to get a smooth running network. Compliance reporting and the dashboard can help you to make all kinds of asset management reports. Who doesn’t have the latest version of our virus scanner, Who is missing the latest patch for our ERP solution. The only limit is your imagination…

Active directory integration – Lansweeper gathers all active directory user and computer details for your scanned machines. Create reports based on OU, integrate user pictures, Clean up your Active directory…

Eventlog integration – Every windows computer logs errors into the Eventlog. Thanks to Lansweeper you can now consolidate all these errors and get an alert e-mail as soon as an important error occurs.

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Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit, formerly ExploitShield by ZeroVulnerabilityLabs, protects you from zero-day exploits targeting browser and application vulnerabilities. Its proprietary technology shields your browser and applications in that critical period between the release of a new exploit and its subsequent security patch. Easy to install and lightweight. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit now and crush the most dangerous breed of malware attack.

Popular software programs contain millions of line of code. Bad guys exploit flaws (vulnerabilities) in the code to deliver malware. Except when they can’t. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit wraps three layers of security around popular browsers and applications, preventing exploits from compromising vulnerable code. Not an antivirus, but compatible with most antivirus, Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is a small, specialized shield designed to protect you against one of the most dangerous forms of malware attacks.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit:

Protects Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera browsers

Protects browser components, including Java, Adobe Reader, Flash, and Shockwave

Defends against drive-by download attacks

Shields vulnerable applications, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Apple Quicktime, and VLC Player

Blocks unknown and common exploit kits, including Blackhole, Sakura, Phoenix, and Incognito

Is compatible with most common anti-malware and antivirus products

Doesn’t use a signature database—no need for constant updating

JPEGsnoop – Ever wondered if that UFO photo or sasquatch sighting is a fake? … or if that camera manufacturer’s sample images have been touched up?

Simply open an image in JPEGsnoop and scroll down to the section titled, *** Searching Compression Signatures ***. This option can be enabled/disabled with the Signature Search item in the Options menu.

The utility will compare the compression characteristics of the photo against an internal database of thousands of camera “signatures” to locate a match. If a match is found, the matching digital camera or editor is shown. If the signature matches a photo editor (such as Photoshop), then there is a good chance that the photo has been edited (i.e. not original!).

The assessment line indicates one of four possible outcomes:

Class 1 – Image is processed/edited

Class 2 – Image has high probability of being processed/edited

Class 3 – Image has high probability of being original — NOTE: Please see description below!

Class 4 – Uncertain if processed or original

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden shouldn’t be extradited to US if he testifies about NSA spying, says Swiss gov: Extradition could be off the cards, says attorney general – According to two separate reports in Swiss newspapers Sonntags Zeitung and Le Matin published on Sunday, Snowden would not be extradited to the US if he stands as a “witness in criminal proceedings, or [appears] as part of a parliamentary inquiry” in Switzerland.

That’s apparently the opinion of the country’s attorney general, who expressed that view in November last year to help work out legalities relating to any potential visit from whistleblower Snowden.

The two newspapers reported the Swiss government law advisor’s opinion, after viewing a confidential document.

The top Swiss lawyer added that any US efforts to extradite Snowden if he were to testify in Switzerland would be considered “political” and thereby rejected by authorities in the country.

Only “higher state obligations” could overrule that position, the AG reportedly added.

Report: Congress won’t shut down NSA database this year: USA Freedom Act even has support from James Clapper, but still can’t pass – Despite widespread support, a bill that would put limits on widespread surveillance is unlikely to get a vote before the elections—or even after them.

According to National Journal, the USA Freedom Act, which would essentially stop the government’s bulk collection of telephone call data, is flailing. The bill is struggling despite the fact that it won a stunning new supporter last week: Director of Intelligence James Clapper, one of the top defenders of the surveillance programs.

A Senate staffer told NJ that it was “extremely unlikely” the bill would be considered in September. It was originally introduced in July by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and it has co-sponsors ranging from liberal senators like Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) to Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

But multiple sources told National Journal that the measure “is not a top priority” for a Senate packed with other concerns. The failure to pass the USA Freedom Act, which still had plenty of problems, will top off a Congress in which virtually no progress was made on any significant tech policy issue.

The compromise bill was fleshed out in the Senate after a weaker version in the House was denounced by reform-minded groups. However, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy and Technology are on board with the Leahy bill, which they see as an imperfect but necessary compromise.

The USA Freedom Act would leave the call data in the hands of the phone companies, creating a system in which intelligence agencies would have to ask for data related to a “specific selection term” such as a phone number or name.

Who wins when cops wear cameras? – If nothing else, this summer from hell has put out-of-control policing front and center in the American conversation. Once Staten Island resident Eric Garner was killed by an NYPD officer’s apparently illegal choke hold in July, the floodgates opened and flagrant civil liberties violations seemed to be all around us.

The deluge culminated in the macabre spectacle that was the the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and its cartoonishly militarized aftermath. Now Ferguson cops are wearing cameras in a nod to concerns about their treatment of black citizens in the St. Louis suburb; such devices are already used (at least on a trial basis) in cities like Los Angeles, Oakland, Las Vegas, and Seattle. And on Thursday, embattled New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that the NYPD would launch its own camera pilot program.

But how big of a deal is it for local police to sport a recording device, and more importantly, do cameras actually reduce police brutality?

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 8, 2014

The U.S. government’s secret plans to spy for American corporations;  Is Windows XP still safe? The answer is a resounding yes;   You need to know about NFC and mobile payments. Here’s why;  Very handy! Six helpful add-ons for Gmail;  Automate your morning programs with Windows Task Scheduler;  ChitChat is Snapchat for voice messages;  The 10 best websites for students;  Home Depot hit by same malware used in massive Target breach;  Botnet malware discovered on Healthcare.gov server;  Stephen Hawking: God particle could wipe out the universe;  The Sims 4 cheat codes;  Coffee shop bans laptops and tablets, business grows;  Meet the shadowy tech brokers that deliver your data to the NSA;  The game is not yet over for Gameover Zeus botnet;  Google recommends pronounceable passwords.

Windows XP security – Though Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April, the popular OS refuses to die. Roughly 25 percent of desktop users are clinging to the OS, meaning XP still has four times as many users as Windows 8 or 8.1, according to NetMarketShare. Recently, independent security lab AV-Test investigated whether the outdated XP can be adequately protected. Is Windows XP still safe? The answer is a resounding yes.

You need to know about NFC and mobile payments. Here’s why – Rumored to be in Apple’s new devices, NFC is poised to play an important role in the way we use our phones, especially when it comes to mobile payments. Here’s how it works.

ChitChat is Snapchat for voice messages – To send a message, you need to tap and hold the relevant contact icon while speaking your message (which may mean holding your iPhone’s mike a little awkwardly to your mouth), releasing when done. As soon as you release, the message sends automatically. Once your contact has heard your message it is deleted, and listening to messages just requires one quick tap on a contact’s pic to access them. You can also send messages to multiple contacts at once.

Very handy! Six helpful add-ons for Gmail – A few weeks ago, I migrated from Outlook to Gmail. Since I made the move, I’ve been exploring Chrome and Gmail extensions to find the ones that would best suit my needs. I’ve been relatively frugal in my choices, because I didn’t want to add too much at one time. For those of you who are curious, the following are the six add-ons I’ve found most useful so far.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Chrome extension for the Pinterest-obsessed – Pinterest, the social bookmarking juggernaut, unveiled a Google Chrome browser extension today that turns your boring “new tab” pages into a daily dashboard with an oversize Pinterest pin. Meaning, every time you open a new tab in Chrome to search the web or go to a website, you’re greeted with a pinned photo that fills the window.

Best Android smartphones (September 2014 edition) – Looking for a new smartphone but aren’t interested in an iPhone? Don’t worry because we’ve got you covered. Here is a selection of the best Android phones currently available on the market (September 2014). So whether you’re after a handset for personal use, or one suited to BYOD, there bound to be an Android smartphone here for you.

Automate your morning programs with Windows Task Scheduler – If you ask me, the best tool for your computer is automation. Get it to do some of the mundane things you need to get done in the day or that make your work life just a little bit easier. One way to do that is to use the built-in Task Scheduler for Windows. A simple, but also strangely satisfying use for Task Scheduler is to fire up all the programs you need to get going during your morning work routine. In our case, we’ll use Excel, Firefox, and Skype as examples.

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The 10 best websites for students – Whether you’re looking to make sense of an obscure topic or want to avoid breaking the bank on that political science textbook, the Internet has a solution. We’ve compiled ten of the best resources for research, report writing, cheap textbooks, and even finding a date with a fellow student from your university—because college isn’t all about schoolwork.

Google Glass goes mainstream, now listed in the Play Store – It would appear as though Google has officially made its wearable face computer a member of the family, because you can now order the Explorer Edition of Google Glass and all of its accessories through the Play Store.

Windows Threshold Technical Preview: It’s all about feedback, feedback, feedback – Windows Threshold is getting really darn close to being ready for its public release. With the 30th of September quickly approaching, Microsoft is starting to put the final pieces together to create a release of the build that is ready for public consumption. Mary Jo Foley was the first to grab this bit of news and since we had heard the same thing and could add a bit more, we figured we would add some color to the reasoning why they want feedback and what to expect. The short answer to why they are focusing so heavily on user feedback is not just about polishing the experience for user – it’s also because the enterprise hates Windows 8.

Reddit Bans Major Subreddit Promoting Celebrity Nude Picture Hack – The Web’s talk of the town—Reddit this time, not 4chan—has taken quite a bit of flak this week for its role in the big celebrity naked picture hack. While a number of online entities passed the batch of images and videos around like digital trading cards, an entire Reddit sub-community entitled “The Fappening” quickly became the files’ bridge to a more mainstream audience. Said subreddit has since been banned by Reddit administrators, mostly due to the fact that it’s been the epicenter for related Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests related to the photos—and the fact that said subreddit’s users keep posting them.

With the Core M, Intel promises thinner, cooler, more powerful PCs – Intel formally launches its Core M chips for notebooks and tablets, the first wave of its new Broadwell generation of chips. Expect dramatic improvements in performance and battery life, Intel says.

Security:

Home Depot hit by same malware used in massive Target breach – The malware used in the massive Target data breach last December, which affected more than 110 million people, has now hit customers from almost every single Home Depot store in the United States. It is unknown exactly how many customers were affected in Home Depot’s data breach, but considering the number of retail stores affected, it’s not unlikely that the count could number in the millions. Since the attack used BlackPOS, the same malware used in the Target breach, Home Depot’s breach may include credit card numbers, ZIP code data, and other sensitive personal information.

Google recommends pronounceable passwords – Google has updated its password manager to recommend pronounceable passwords within its flagship Chrome browser. The experimental feature was the latest development which could make it into the regular versions of Chrome as part of steady improvements to its password capture, storage and generation. The update is Google’s latest encroachment into the territory of online password management dominated by LastPass and 1Password, who could well feel threatened as Chrome builds in functionality they once offered as third-party value adds.

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Will iCloud ‘hack’ help kill online security questions? – There is no such thing as a “private naked selfie” and Apple’s online security questions don’t improve the situation. Kevin Rose said it’s high time to kill such security questions, or else “we might as well change all of our passwords to ‘1234’ and hope for the best.”

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Feds say NSA “bogeyman” did not find Silk Road’s servers – The FBI easily found the main server of the now-defunct Silk Road online drug-selling site, and didn’t need the National Security’s help, federal prosecutors said in a Friday court filing. The authorities said Friday that the FBI figured out the server’s IP address through a misconfiguration in the site’s login window. They said that a US warrant wasn’t required to search the Icelandic server because “warrants are not required for searches by foreign authorities of property overseas.”

Why Breach Detection Is Your New Must-Have, Cyber Security Tool – Cyber attacks are all over the news, and it seems like no one is immune — Home Depot, Target, Adobe and eBay included. So why are CIOs still fighting cyber criminals with one hand tied behind their backs? Shockingly, most companies are still relying on outdated, only partially effective methods to protect their sensitive data, mainly with technology that focuses on preventing incoming attacks. But actually stopping bad guys from slipping inside enterprise networks and getting their hands on sensitive data is nearly impossible these days. In fact, among organizations with over 5,000 computers, over 90 percent have an active breach of some sort at any given time. What’s worse, those organizations may not even know about it.

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The game is not yet over for Gameover Zeus botnet – If you’ve ever watched a horror movie, you know the trope where the hero seemingly kills the monster, but as soon as he turns his back to walk away the monster regains consciousness and attacks again with renewed vigor. According to the latest report from F-Secure, that’s the sort of scenario we might be looking at with the Gameover Zeus botnet.

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Botnet malware discovered on Healthcare.gov server – A server connected to Healthcare.gov had botnet malware on it, but the malicious code was never used and no personal information was compromised.

Company News:

Microsoft has removed its Bing Image Widget – Following a lawsuit from Getty Images over copyright infringement, Microsoft has bit the bullet and removed the beta version of its Bing Image Widget, which allowed site owners to easily embed media.

Alibaba Proposes To Go Public For As Much as $66 Per Share, Valuing The Firm At More Than $160B – Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant run by Jack Ma, has submitted F-1 paperwork to the SEC with the expectation that it will go public on September 8 under the NYSE symbol BABA. The filing appeared on SEC.gov today. 20.1 million shares will be on offer. Japanese investor Softbank currently owns 34 percent of the company while Yahoo owns 22 percent. The initial price is expected to hit at $60-66 per share with an initial valuation of up to $162 billion. At that valuation, Softbank’s share of the firm is worth around $55 billion, and Yahoo’s stake is worth more than $36 billion.

Facebook Highlights Its 1 Billion Video Views Per Day Reach By Adding View Counts – To prove to advertisers and the world that it’s not just YouTube that has massive video engagement online, Facebook today announced it now delivers 1 billion video views per day and will begin showing everyone view counts on videos posted by Pages and public figures. This could convince advertisers shifting TV ad spend to digital to look to Facebook, which recently bought video adtech company LiveRail for between $400 million and $500 million in July.

Microsoft is moving away from Windows Phone and towards ‘Windows’ for your phone – Looking at the trail of evidence, it becomes clear that for Windows Phone, the future is Windows for your phone as Microsoft looks to pivot products around the Windows brand

Nest expands into Europe, reveals new parterships – Nest today announced it is expanding further into Europe. Its Thermostat and Protect products will be available to buy from official channels at the end of the September in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland. Nest says that people use its products in 120 different countries already, having bought them online, even though they are not set up properly for that country’s heating system. After the UK, where Nest products are already on sale, the new countries announced today are some of the most popular countries for imported Nest usage in Europe.

Games and Entertainment:

Dreadnought preview: It’s like World of Tanks and Battlestar Galactica had a baby – Here’s the easiest way to describe Dreadnought—the way it was described to me, and presumably the way it was described to everyone at PAX, and it’s the first thing you think of when you play the game. Remember that scene in Battlestar Galactica where the ship warps in the atmosphere? Yeah, of course you do unless you didn’t watch Battlestar Galactica in which case who are you? Dreadnought is that scene.

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A heavy support vehicle attacking a light dreadnought.

You Should Play: Hazumino – If you like Tetris, platformers, endless runners, and multi-tasking, I have the perfect game for you. Hazumino is a brilliant—and totally bizarre—mash-up of everything that is awesome. It’s a platformer à la Super Mario. It’s an endless runner à la Robot Unicorn Attack. It’s a block-stacking game à la Tetris. And it’s all of these things at the same time.

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Six mathematical apps for Adventure Time fans – Adventure Time is easily one of the weirdest, most creative things on television today, and it’s also the rare show that means so much to kids and adults alike—and sometimes for different reasons altogether. The cartoon is alternately silly and sentimental, absurdist and still surprisingly relatable. It’s a curious concoction, to be sure, but a rather wonderful one overall. Looking for ways to stoke your Adventure Time enthusiasm on the go? Here are six entertaining apps that will do just that.

The new Lego Slave I set is a stunning Star Wars tribute – When Lego offered up a Slave I set back in 2010, I was pretty excited to see it… but the original doesn’t hold a candle to the one that’s coming out this year. Lego has updated Slave I for the 2014 holiday season, and it’s an amazingly faithful reproduction of the bounty hunter’s ship. If you look in the bottom left corner of the box, you’ll see why that’s the case: it’s part of the Lego Ultimate Collector Series. The “low-fi” 2010 set was just 573 pieces. The Ultimate Collector’s Slave I? It’s packed with nearly 2,000 pieces.

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The Sims 4 cheat codes – The Sims is one of the few games that still openly permits the use of cheat codes. Here are the codes for the newly launched The Sims 4.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

You can thank Brit funnyman John Oliver for fixing US broadband policy, beams Netflix – Netflix CEO Reed Hastings thinks Americans owe a debt to British satirist John Oliver for the FCC’s tough stance this week on broadband monopolies in the US. The comment references Oliver’s campaign earlier this year to raise awareness of net neutrality. Hastings reckons Oliver’s mocking of the FCC’s handling of the net neutrality debate has made the watchdog shake up its priorities.

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Cable companies want to unbundle broadcast TV, and broadcasters are angry – A group called TVfreedom.org that represents local broadcasters and other organizations today criticized the American Cable Association (ACA) for supporting Local Choice. “We believe ‘Local Choice’ represents a frontal assault on free and local TV broadcasting,” TVfreedom Public Affairs Director Robert Kenny wrote. “It would tilt television’s balance of power in favor of pay-TV providers at the expense of broadcasters invested in localism. It would cost consumers more on their monthly bills, and do nothing to address shoddy pay-TV service or the deceptive billing practices of cable and satellite TV providers.”

Stephen Hawking: God particle could wipe out the universe – In a preface to new book, the famed physicist fears the Higgs Boson becoming unstable and causing a “catastrophic vacuum decay.” But how likely is that really?

GM plans to launch hands-free driving by 2016 – General Motors announced Sunday it plans to introduce Cadillac models in two years that incorporate hands-free driving and Wi-Fi-enabled vehicle-to-vehicle communications to exchange traffic information with similarly equipped vehicles.

Coffee shop bans laptops and tablets, business grows – A Vermont bakery and coffee shop shuts off its Wi-Fi and discovers that people quite like it.

Something to think about:

“Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.”

-     Alvin Toffler

Today’s Free Downloads:

recALL – recALL allows quick recovery of passwords from more than 180 programs (email, web browsers, instant messengers, FTP clients, wireless, etc) and license keys from nearly 800 applications. recALL it the world’s first program that allows you to recover most of the password and also a license from damaged operating systems through native support of the systems registry files Windows.

Due to the unique function emulation FTP, POP3 and SMTP can recover passwords from any application supporting these protocols, even if the program is not yet supported in recALL.

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PCFerret – PCFerret is designed to produce reports for the novice user and technical support departments, and perform analysis of a PC’s content.

It is ideal for troubleshooting and for clients to be able to provide technical support departments with accurate information relating to their system’s configuration. The report can be viewed on screen, printed for faxing, or saved as a single HTML formatted file, ready for emailing as an attachment.

Features:

Detailed System Report

Password Generator

ADS (Alternate Data Stream) Detection

File Analysis

Find File By Type (Content)

Reboot Operations

Detect Tor Browser

Additional Information

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The U.S. government’s secret plans to spy for American corporations – Throughout the last year, the U.S. government has repeatedly insisted that it does not engage in economic and industrial espionage, in an effort to distinguish its own spying from China’s infiltrations of Google, Nortel, and other corporate targets. So critical is this denial to the U.S. government that last August, an NSA spokesperson emailed The Washington Post to say (emphasis in original): “The department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”

After that categorical statement to the Post, the NSA was caught spying on plainly financial targets such as the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras; economic summits; international credit card and banking systems; the EU antitrust commissioner investigating Google, Microsoft, and Intel; and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. In response, the U.S. modified its denial to acknowledge that it does engage in economic spying, but unlike China, the spying is never done to benefit American corporations.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for instance, responded to the Petrobras revelations by claiming: “It is not a secret that the Intelligence Community collects information about economic and financial matters…. What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of—or give intelligence we collect to—U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”

But a secret 2009 report issued by Clapper’s own office explicitly contemplates doing exactly that. The document, the 2009 Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review—provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—is a fascinating window into the mindset of America’s spies as they identify future threats to the U.S. and lay out the actions the U.S. intelligence community should take in response.

India government: ‘net should not be censored: Except, of course, when it should – India’s communications and IT minister, tasked with attracting foreign investors to the country’s tech sector, has defended controversial IT laws while saying that Internet censorship should be minimal.

Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made the remarks to The Hindu Business Line in response to criticisms of Section 66 of the country’s IT Act.

While many countries forbid using telecommunications services to menace or threaten, the Indian law goes further by criminalising the publication of false information for, among other things, the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience.

As a result, as Index on Censorship notes, Facebook posts are increasingly landing individuals in front of the courts.

Meet the shadowy tech brokers that deliver your data to the NSA – Picture two federal agents knocking at your door, ready to serve you a top secret order from the U.S. government, demanding that you hand over every shred of data you own — from usernames and passwords, phone records, emails, and social networking and credit card data.

You can’t tell anyone, and your only viable option is to comply.

For some U.S. Internet service providers (ISP) and phone companies, this scenario happens — and often. Just one ISP hit by a broad-ranging warrant has the potential to affect the privacy of millions of Americans.

But when one Atlanta, Georgia-based Internet provider was served a top-secret data request, there wasn’t a suited-and-booted federal agent in sight.

Why? Because the order was served on a so-called “trusted third-party,” which handles the request, served fresh from the secretive Washington D.C.-based Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court. With permission from their ISP customers, these third-parties discreetly wiretap their networks at the behest of law enforcement agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and even intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA).

By implementing these government data requests with precision and accuracy, trusted third-parties — like Neustar, Subsentio, and Yaana — can turn reasonable profits for their services.

Little is known about these types of companies, which act as outsourced data brokers between small and major U.S. ISPs and phone companies, and the federal government. Under the 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), any company considered a “communications provider” has to allow government agencies access when a valid court order is served. No matter how big or small, even companies whose legal and financial resources are limited do not escape federal wiretapping laws.

On a typical day, these trusted third-parties can handle anything from subpoenas to search warrants and court orders, demanding the transfer of a person’s data to law enforcement. They are also cleared to work with classified and highly secretive FISA warrants. A single FISA order can be wide enough to force a company to turn over its entire store of customer data.

Off-the-grid texting device GoTenna attracts antisurveillance crowd – Daniel Levy, a Web developer living in the Puna District of Hawaii, lived through a 12-day blackout after a rather vicious hurricane earlier this summer. Many residents in his community were stuck powerless until the local utility company restored the grid, while some subsisted on solar energy. It was after that, Levy said, that he sought a solution and came upon GoTenna.

The gadget — a small Bluetooth-enabled rod packed to the brim with modern radio innards — lets you create your own private, secure communication network for sending messages without cell service using your smartphone. Though marketed toward outdoors and emergency situations like hiking and disaster relief, GoTenna is getting a boost from the cryptography community. Levy, whose neighborhood gets little to zero reliable cell service, happens to represent both. He’s among the more than 25 percent of GoTenna preorder customers who paid for the product with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

“We do not need to be dependent on centralized industries for our communication, which is a very important part of our modern lives,” Levy told CNET. The developer runs WebOfTrust.net, a peer-to-peer credit and collaboration-focused social network currently in development that aims to take the decentralization and financial empowerment elements of Bitcoin and apply them to his local community in Hawaii. He’s considering integrating with GoTenna’s application programming interface (API) to link the gadget with his software platform.

“With GoTenna, we can create our own, decentralized mesh network that we own, and be in control of the data that we create,” he said. Levy said he wouldn’t have purchased GoTenna had the company not accepted Bitcoin as payment, nor if the device’s communication lines had not been end-to-end encrypted and the messages never stored, he said. “If it proves to be useful, I would like to encourage my community to start utilizing these devices.”

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A mobile accessory that lets you communicate without cell service has taken off with Bitcoin enthusiasts, in part because it prevents spying eyes.

The pentagon is giving grenade launchers to campus police – The Pentagon’s 1033 program, which allows the Defense Department to unload its excess military equipment onto local police forces, has quietly overflowed onto college campuses. According to documents obtained by the website Muckrock, more than 100 campus police forces have received military materials from the Pentagon. Schools that participate in the program range from liberal arts to community colleges to the entire University of Texas system. Emory, Rice, Perdue, and the University of California, Berkeley, are all on the list.

In 1990, Congress enacted the National Defense Authorization Act, including the magnanimous section 1208, which since 1996 has been known as program 1033. Over the last 17 years, this trickle-down gift economy has distributed more than $4.3 billion worth of equipment, according to program administrators. As Ferguson police rolled up to peaceful protesters in military-grade tanks, firing tear gas and rubber bullets, President Obama ordered a review of the program, which reached new highs in regifting under his tenure.

It’s clear why a review of the program is in order, because it isn’t clear at all what sort of equipment these colleges are receiving. David Perry, the president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, told Politico that 1033 mostly funnels “small items” to college police forces for daily use. These could be anything from office supplies or uniforms or car parts, but it’s probably not all that tame. Campus Safety magazine recommends that universities take part in the 1033 program to cover a range of needs from storage units to grenade launchers. That is, after all, what the program was designed to achieve.

But program 1033 doesn’t even come close to explaining all the ways in which campus police have been militarized over the past two decades. Colleges can also apply for Homeland Security grants, the same ones made available to every municipal police department in the country after 9/11. In 2012, UC Berkeley tried to use the program to purchase an eight-ton armored truck. After a backlash, university officials ultimately decided the truck was “not the best choice for a university setting.” The following year, Ohio State University acquired a mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle. So far, it has yet to be targeted.

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