Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 7, 2014

The NSA Thinks You Are an Extremist If You Care About Privacy;  TSA Will Now Block Dead Devices At Some Airports;  Stop Your Android Device From Broadcasting Your Location;  After psych study, Facebook’s mood shows disconnect;  4 Reasons Nobody Cares About Smartwatches;  8 Geeky Summer Projects to Keep Kids Busy;  Popjam is ‘walled-garden’ Instagram for kids;  Five powerful open source audio editors;  Five WordPress Plugins You Should Update Right Now;  Google Tightens Noose on Adult AdWords Ads;  Totally rad films from the ’80s and ’90s on Netflix;  Fireworks from a drone’s perspective; KeePass Password Safe (free).

Charge Your Phone Before Flying! TSA Will Now Block Dead Devices At Some Airports – We’ve all been there: you’re standing in the security line at the airport. The TSA agent is mad at you about a water bottle, or a pair of scissors, or some other thing you forgot was even in your bag. Get rid of it, or you’re not flying. What if that thing keeping you off your flight was your dead iPhone? This afternoon, the TSA published an announcement stating that passengers boarding flights to the US from “certain overseas airports” (the specific airports go unnamed) will first need to prove that “all electronic devices” they’ve packed can be powered up. No power? No flight — at least not while you’re carrying that dead device. (Security theatre taken to new heights. What’s next on their “scare the crap out of everyone” agenda. This one goes hand in hand with – US warns terrorists considering surgically implanted bombs.)

The NSA Thinks You Are an Extremist If You Care About Privacy – According to the report, the NSA flags anyone using the Tor network for long-term surveillance and retention. Say you were curious about this Tor thing you keep hearing about and visited the Tor Project’s Website to get more information (but don’t use Tor). No matter. Just visiting the site could potentially get you on the NSA watch list. Search for Tor, Tails, or any number of privacy tools online is enough to flag you as an extremist by the NSA. In fact, just reading about news articles here on SecurityWatch or checking out reviews of privacy services on PCMag could have gotten you tagged. How ridiculous is that? And so disturbing.

Gov’t, corporations the most dangerous threats to the internet, say internet experts – Internet blackouts in war-torn countries, censorship masquerading as protective forces in the UK and beyond, CISPA and SOPA, lacklustre and naive attempts to stem the flow of file sharing by firms rather than tackling the core route of content access, and regulations pushed through by those who understand nothing of the web (who can forget the UK Police Commissioner’s claim that “Tor is 90 percent of the internet”?) — the list of forces attempting to wrestle control of the internet carries on. It is these factors, rather than cybercrime or hacking, that internet experts believe pose the greatest threat to the internet in the next 20 years.

After psych study, Facebook’s mood shows disconnect – Even the journal that published the results of Facebook’s manipulation of news feeds has expressed concern. But Facebook seems to be saying “Come on, stop complaining.” “We never meant to upset you,” uttered by COO Sheryl Sandberg, seems a curiously inadequate reaction to the news that Facebook believes there is nothing fundamentally wrong with mind-messing for unexplained purposes and entirely in secret.

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4 Reasons Nobody Cares About Smartwatches – If you watched Google present Android Wear last week, you’d think the smartwatch was the hottest product on the market. What could be better than an intelligent timepiece that can take calls and understand voice commands? It turns out nobody cares. So we asked ourselves: why isn’t the smartwatch as popular as its wrist-based cousin, the fitness tracker? Why hasn’t the mainstream market bought in? Here are four reasons.

Stop Your Android Device From Broadcasting Your Location – If you were at a Starbucks or any other company that has its name as part of the WiFi network name, someone accessing the device’s location signal would know where you’ve been, and where you went next. Considering many of the WiFi networks tend to have fairly descriptive names, the potential of your movements tracked is pretty high.  “This data is arguably more dangerous than that leaked in previous location data scandals because it clearly denotes in human language places that you’ve spent enough time to use the Wi-Fi,” the EFF said.

Firefox falls to record low in overall browser share – Firefox’s user share on all platforms — desktop and mobile — has plunged in the last two months as its desktop browser continued to bleed and efforts to capture users on smartphones fell short.

8 Geeky Summer Projects to Keep Kids Busy – With the rise of sites like Pinterest, it’s easier than ever to find creative projects to keep the little ones entertained. Unfortunately, some require a Ph.D. in crafting (check out PinterestFail.com for a laugh). But you don’t have to be Martha Stewart (or Bill Nye the Science Guy) to have some geeky, crafty fun this summer.Pinterest is a treasure trove of possible projects, but we found eight that will (hopefully) not cause too much of a mess and keep the kids (as well as mom and dad) intrigued.

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Popjam is ‘walled-garden’ Instagram for kids, from Moshi Monsters maker – London-based tech company Mind Candy says its latest app, released today, is a safe alternative to Snapchat and Tumblr, where “kids can be kids.”

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This little Sony will pump up the sound of your headphones – The Audiophiliac oohs and aahs over Sony’s portable PHA-2 digital converter and headphone amplifier.

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Five powerful open source audio editors – A solid audio editor might not seem to belong at the top of your must-have list. It is, however, a tool that can go a long way toward helping you with your business. How? With an audio editor, you can add audio to your business website, create and edit a podcast to help promote your service or product, record and submit audio for radio ads, and more. But what software titles are available from the open source community? Believe it or not, some of the finest audio editors available are open source and offer power and options you might expect only in costly, proprietary software. Let’s take a look at five open source audio editors and see if there’s one that will fit your bill.

In the Wake of Apparent Revenge Killing, New Israeli ‘Kidnap App’ Adapted for Palestinians – In the first two weeks after three Israeli teenagers were abducted on the West Bank, over 60,000 Israelis downloaded a new smartphone app designed to alert police to your abduction and guide them to the place you are being held. Then a Palestinian teen earlier this week was forced into a car and killed in what police suspect was a revenge killing, hastening development of an Arabic version of the same free software.

Thoughts from a tablet addict: What I own and why – When you consider that I own four of them, you’d be justified calling me a tablet addict. Here’s what I use and why they work for me. Hopefully, this glimpse into my tablet world will help those thinking about buying a tablet. If you have a favorite mobile OS, your choice is easier. If not, the field is wide open as I find the three platforms to be just about even for typical tablet functions. As for screen size, get the smallest you can comfortably use if you plan to take it on the road. On the other hand, if you plan on just using it at home, get a big one. You’ll appreciate the screen real estate.

Security:

Quebec mom reels in alleged pedophile on Facebook – A Quebec mother posed as her 12-year-old stepdaughter for four weeks on Facebook to catch an alleged pedophile, QMI Agency has learned. Her sleuthing led to the arrest of Martin Schanck, 24, of Coteau-du-Lac, Que., who is scheduled to appear in court Saturday for allegedly luring five children on the Internet. The mother, who withheld her name to protect her daughter, said her girl received a Facebook message in March from someone posing as a 14-year-old named Sabrina Poirier. The conversation quickly took a sexual turn, the mother said. Sabrina sent a photograph of an erect penis, claiming it was an ex-boyfriend’s. That’s when the 27-year-old mother took action.

Attack on Dailymotion redirected visitors to exploits – Attackers injected malicious code into Dailymotion.com, a popular video sharing website, and redirected visitors to Web-based exploits that installed malware. The flaws that Sweet Orange attempted to exploit are: CVE-2013-2551, patched by Microsoft in Internet Explorer in May 2013; CVE-2013-2460, patched by Oracle in Java in June 2013; and CVE-2014-0515, patched by Adobe in Flash Player in April.

Five WordPress Plugins You Should Update Right Now – WordPress powers over 70 million Websites around the world, making it an attractive target for cyber-criminals. Attackers frequently hijack vulnerable WordPress installations to host spam pages and other malicious content. Researchers have uncovered a number of serious vulnerabilities in these popular WordPress plugins over the last few weeks. Check your administrator dashboard and make sure you have the latest versions installed.

Microsoft increases Outlook and OneDrive security and opens a transparency center – In the wake of security concerns and a PR nightmare following allegations of spying by governmental organizations, Microsoft steps up security for its cloud products and opens a transparency center.

Company News:

Xiaomi claims it sold 50,000 Mi Pads in under four minutes – Chinese electronics company Xiaomi is claiming that they have sold 50,000 of their latest tablet, the Mi Pad, in less than four minutes. It comes as no surprise considering this tablet is packed with an immense amount of power and priced to compete. The 7.9″ Android tablet is a direct competitor to the iPad Mini Retina with prices starting at $240 USD.

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Google Tightens Noose on Adult AdWords Ads – Bad news for porn websites promoters. Starting soon, Google will be enforcing the “no super-naughty ads” provision of its AdWords policies that it first posted in March. Google has started to email advertisers to remind them of the coming crackdown on risqué advertising. While the company isn’t banning adult advertising in general, it is greatly tightening the definition of what it will allow on AdWords.

Oculus halts sales in China to stop resellers from hawking development kits – Developers in China who want an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset will have to wait a while to get one, it seems: As reported by Eurogamer, Oculus VR has “suspended” sales of the current Oculus Rift development kit (DK2) because too many people were buying the kits to resell them for a profit.

iWatch imminent, Apple hires sales exec from Swiss watchmaker – The company nabs the vice president of sales and retail from Tag Heuer, as it reportedly gears up to launch an iWatch later this year.

IBM aims to collaborate with Beijing on energy, health issues – IBM said its research labs will aim to help China revamp its energy system and healthcare over the next 10 years via big data, the Internet of Things and cognitive computing. The effort is led by IBM’s China research unit. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. IBM said it had a collaboration agreement with the Beijing Municipal Government. The two parties will work on air pollution and try to leverage cognitive computing, optical sensors and other tools to predict weather, climate and the pollution hit.

Games and Entertainment:

Monster versus hunter game Evolve opens alpha test sign-ups, but act quick – Turtle Rock Studios is giving you the chance to sign up for a limited alpha of Evolve, its monster-versus-hunters multiplayer game that’s one part Left 4 Dead, one part Big Game Hunter. The game’s not officially out until October 21, but you have a chance to get in early if you take a brief hardware survey. Caveats: The alpha is PC-only, limited to the United States and Canada, and you must have a working Steam account to participate.

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How Real Will Wearable Games Be? – Wearables, primarily smartwatches, are in many ways a compelling idea. Yet do the actual wearables we’re seeing offer anything like that? From a gaming standpoint are they really that big of a deal, or are they more a case of high-hopes and maybe-one-days?

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PSA: Japan’s biggest ‘00s RPG series, Monster Hunter, finally on iOS – Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, priced at $14.99 for both iPhone and iPad, doesn’t crib from last year’s Monster Hunter 3G release on 3DS; instead this is a port of the 2009 PSP game Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G, presumably because its wimpier 3D assets would run efficiently across iOS devices. The only changes involve MFi controller support, which includes a camera stick that the original didn’t have, along with touch-screen controls.

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EA blames a ‘system error’ that charged $5 for demos – Xbox One gamers across the globe are discovering that EA game demos are hit with a $4.99 pricetag, even if they were previously free. FIFA 14, which was released last year, and EA Sports UFC, which was made available last month, both feature the charge for the normally free downloads. EA admits that the charge was due to an “error in the system” and has said that the games have been restored to free of charge. Various sources have confirmed that the paid demos were available in the USA, UK, and Australia.

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Totally rad films from the ’80s and ’90s on Netflix – Perhaps only the most visionary souls could have possibly foreseen the days when these movies could be watched instantly, at the push of a button, from a computer or even a smartphone. Yet here they are. And guess what—some of the movies from those bygone decades are still pretty good.

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Primal Fear – ★★★★☆

Off Topic (Sort of):

Swiss castle recreated in stunning 3D with the help of a drone – The image of Chillon Castle you’re looking at wasn’t painstakingly created by digital artists and 3D modelers. It was actually produced by stitching together more than 6,200 photos. The result: a stunning 3D reproduction of one of Switzerland’s most visited tourist destinations that’s accurate to between 5mm and 20cm. This wasn’t just an outside flyby, either. The castle’s entire interior has been reproduced, too.

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U.S. Military’s TALOS Project tapped Hollywood designer – It is not unusual for Hollywood to refer to the US Military personnel for realistic movie plot, but this time it is the other way around. Legacy Effects, the company known for designing props for movies such as Iron Man and RoboCop has been hired by the U.S. Military to design a war suit to protect soldiers in the field.

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Fireworks from a drone’s perspective – Believe it or not, throughout the drone’s flight, no damage was recorded. The drone itself was not damaged, regardless of how close several calls were in the process. While he very well could have gotten in loads of trouble for floating above a public arena where controlled explosives were being fired, Jos Stinglingh also sustained no damage to his record.

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Remote-controlled chip could be the future of contraceptives – The chip, just 20 x 20 x 7 millimetres, is designed to last up to 16 years — about half of a woman’s reproductive lifespan — delivering a daily dose of 30mg of levonorgestrel, used in several hormonal contraceptives and emergency contraceptives. In the event a couple wants to conceive, the woman can use a remote control to turn the chip off, and then back on again when she needs to.

Something to think about:

“If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.”

-     Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

KeePass Password Safe – Today you need to remember many passwords. You need a password for the Windows network logon, your e-mail account, your homepage’s ftp password, online passwords (like CodeProject member account), etc. etc. etc. The list is endless. Also, you should use different passwords for each account. Because if you use only one password everywhere and someone gets this password you have a problem… A serious problem. The thief would have access to your e-mail account, homepage, etc. Unimaginable.

KeePass is a free/open-source password manager or safe which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk. So you only have to remember one single master password or insert the key-disk to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish).

Limitations: Requires Microsoft .Net Framework installed.

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Why Can’t I Connect? – “Why Can’t I Connect” makes it easier to resolve TCP/IP connection errors. Use it to diagnose connections to common server types and create generic clients and / or servers. A source tar, a 32 bit rpm, a 32 bit deb, and a 32 bit Windows install exe are available.

The 32 bit Windows executable runs fine in 64 bit Windows systems. 64 bit Linux systems, however, should compile from source.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New Snowden leak: Of 160,000 intercepted messages, only 10% from official targets – Late Saturday night, the Washington Post dropped a bombshell of a report related to a trove of documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The documents included 160,000 e-mail and instant-message conversations intercepted by the NSA, as well as 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts. The Washington Post says that the information spans from 2009 to 2012.

This article is the first acknowledgement that the cache of documents from Snowden includes not just documents describing how NSA operates, but actual intercepted communications. Those communications include both intelligence targets, as well as “people who may cross a target’s path,” the Post explained.

In the Post’s analysis, “nearly half” of the files contained details that the NSA had marked as belonging to US citizens or residents, which the agency masked, or “minimized,” to protect those citizens’ privacy. Still, despite the 65,000 minimized references to Americans that the Post found in the cache, 900 additional e-mail addreses were found unmasked “that could be strongly linked to US citizens or US residents.”

Who Watches The Watchmen? – In honor of the Fourth of July, let’s talk a little about how horrifically paranoid and counterproductive the US government has become. And I’m not even talking about Congress! Instead I mean our old friend the No Such Agency, who, it turns out, have been singling out for special treatment anyone who displays any interest in tools which might make the NSA’s life more difficult.

Go on, read the source code yourself, courtesy of a recent report from Jacob Appelbaum1 and co. The message is clear: if you do not accept that the NSA has every right to spy on everything everyone does (oh, and store that data forever to be used against us in the future) then you are the enemy! For sheer horrifyingly hilarious absurdity this reminds me of the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

Crypto thwarts TINY MINORITY of Feds’ snooping efforts – US government court-sanctioned wiretaps were sometimes defeated by encryption, according to official figures on law enforcement eavesdropping released this week.

State police were unable to circumvent the encryption used by criminal suspects in nine cases last year, while plain text was recovered in 32 of 41 cases where use of cryptography was a factor last year. By comparison, law enforcement was stymied by crypto in four cases during 2012.

Prior to two years ago, crypto had never prevented cops from snooping on a criminal suspect, Wired reports. Crypto had been used by criminal suspects in cases dating back as early as 2004 but its use had never been successful until much more recently.

Federal and state police snooped on US suspects’ phone calls, text messages, and other communications 3,576 times in 2013, an increase of five per cent from 2012. This means that crypto was a factor in just one in 100 cases. The vast majority of investigations (87 per cent) involved drugs.

Only one wiretap application in a domestic criminal case was denied during the whole of 2013.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 4, 2014

Your guide to DIY, open-source, anonymous free computing;  Use Tor or ‘EXTREMIST’ Tails Linux? Congrats, you’re on an NSA list;  iOS: Recover photos, messages and more with PhoneRescue;  Five WordPress Plugins You Should Update Right Now;  Facebook Messenger for iPad finally hits App Store;  QUIZ: How Much of a Tech Criminal Are You?  16 Tips Every Amazon Addict Should Know;  9 apps for the 4th of July: Light up the night with these fireworks-themed apps;  How to back up your Google Voice data;  Meditation podcasts to help you relieve stress;  10 apps to power your summer road trip;  The scary truth about data security with wearables;  Conficker: Still spamming after all these years’’.

Digital independence day: Your guide to DIY, open-source, anonymous free computing – The Founding Fathers may never have considered digital independence, but you can. Technology’s marching toward smaller, non-upgradable devices and oodles of free cloud storage threatens to  chain you to specific services or platforms. Fight back with our tips for going DIY on computer building and maintenance, keeping control of your own data, moving to open-source software, and protecting your online privacy.

Use Tor or ‘EXTREMIST’ Tails Linux? Congrats, you’re on an NSA list – Alleged leaked documents about the NSA’s XKeyscore snooping software appear to show the paranoid agency is targeting Tor and Tails users, Linux Journal readers – and anyone else interested in online privacy. Apparently, this configuration file for XKeyscore is in the divulged data, which was obtained and studied by members of the Tor project and security specialists for German broadcasters NDR and WDR.

In their analysis of the alleged top-secret documents, they claim the NSA is, among other things:

Specifically targeting Tor directory servers

Reading email contents for mentions of Tor bridges

Logging IP addresses of people who search for privacy-focused websites and software

And possibly breaking international law in doing so.

EPIC FACEBOOK FAIL: FTC complaint filed about creepy research – The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed an official complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over a research project that manipulated news feeds to mess with the emotions of its users. EPIC claims that the terms and conditions the company had in force at the time did not cover the use of customer data for research purposes, and alleges that Facebook retroactively changed its T&Cs four months after the project was complete. “Facebook’s conduct is both a deceptive trade practice under Section 5 of the FTC Act and a violation of the Commission’s 2012 Consent Order,” the complaint reads.

Facebook is always trying to alter people’s behavior, says former data scientist – We’re hardly ever fast to wake up to what might be going on with our data. But once in a while, we’re suddenly roused and make a noise. Now, a former member of Facebook’s Data Science team has revealed that, for much of its existence since 2007, the team operated with seemingly little supervision. Andrew Ledvina, who was on Facebook’s team from February 2012 to July 2013, told the Wall Street Journal: “There’s no review process, per se. Anyone on that team could run a test. They’re always trying to alter people’s behavior.” Ledvina suggested that tests were conducted with such regularity that some scientists worried that the same people’s data was being analyzed more than once.

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10 apps to power your summer road trip – Need to better organize your summer road trip, but aren’t exactly sure how? We made it easy. Check out these 10 cool apps that you and the kids can use out on the road.

QUIZ: How Much of a Tech Criminal Are You? – When it comes to online behavior, it’s pretty easy to get into some shady territory. So, maybe you’re not trying to record movies with Google Glass, but if you’ve ever “gotten a screener” (from The Pirate Bay), you’re far from alone. That too risky for you? Well, there’s nothing really wrong with using your sainted mother’s HBO GO password to watch the finale of Game of Thrones. Right? It’s not like you’re buying tons of heroin on Silk Road or anything. Take our quiz below to find out just how heavily your soul is weighted thanks to the things you get up to in front of your computer. Oh, by the way: taking this quiz also might be a crime. Don’t worry. We won’t tell.

16 Tips Every Amazon Addict Should Know – If you also proudly drink the Amazonian Kool-aid, then check out these tips. All are here for one reason and one reason alone: to help you get the absolute best out of your shopping experience. Whether that’s better prices, faster shipping (even without drones), or abundant purchasing options, we’ve got them. If we missed your favorite, share it in the comments so everyone can benefit.

iOS: Recover photos, messages and more with PhoneRescue – Many users attempting to install the recent iOS 7.1.2 update may have needed to reclaim space in order to upgrade their phone — for many, this meant deleting photos, music or even messages. There is another way that lets you keep your data and make space, PhoneRescue.

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Reelagram Turns Instagram Photos Into View-Master Reels – Before there was Oculus Rift and Cardboard, there was View-Master. Children who grew up in the analog era will have special memories of this stereoscopic viewer and its accompanying cardboard disks featuring images of their favorite characters and scenes from books, TV shows, and movies. Now, a company called Reelagram is tapping into our collective nostalgia for this simpler time by offering a new way to print and view Instagram photos. Yes, via a View-Master-like device which you can buy online alongside the photo reels.

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How to back up your Google Voice data – Don’t panic! Nothing has been confirmed about Google Voice being shut down for good — but that doesn’t mean you should you skip an opportunity to back up your data. Google Takeout is a great tool that lets you export data from services like Gmail, YouTube, and even Google Voice. Although nothing has been confirmed about the integration of Google Voice into the Hangouts application, now is a great time to make sure you won’t lose any important texts or voice mails.

Music Streaming Eats Downloads With On-Demand Up 42% Over 2013, Digital Sales Down – Nielsen’s U.S. music report on the first half of 2014 shows digital music consumption rapidly shifting from downloads to streaming. On-demand streaming was up 42% over the first half of 2013, racking up 70 billion play in the first half of 2014. Meanwhile, digital track sales fell 13% to 593.6 million and album sales fell 11.6% to 53.8 million. The report on US trends (not international) makes Apple’s acquisition of Beats looks smart, as its iTunes download sales model is quickly dying out. As a whole, dismal digital and physical sales dragged total music sales plus streaming industry down 3.3%.

Facebook Messenger for iPad finally hits App Store – Facebook Messenger for iPad has finally been released, bringing the social network’s standalone IM client to Apple’s tablet. Previously only available on the iOS tablet as a doubled iPhone app, the new Messenger supports the same text chats, voice calls, and stickers as its phone counterpart, but in version 7.0 introduces a scaled-up UI.

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Give your brain a workout with Lumosity – There are several activities that you can do to keep your mind sharp. Some people like crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Perhaps you’re more into trivia, or word problems. Or maybe you’re hip to quick games designed to work out your brain through various exercises. The creators of Lumosity have collaborated with researchers around the world to build this program as part of what’s called the Human Cognition Project. Seven studies have been published since 2007 that show Lumosity’s benefits, so it’s pretty legit.

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9 apps for the 4th of July: Light up the night with these fireworks-themed apps – We celebrate the Fourth of July with backyard BBQ and “Independence Day” reruns. But the holiday’s about honoring America’s fiercely independent spirit and the patriots who fought for our enduring political freedoms. Nothing symbolizes the spirit of independence better than fireworks, which have been part of Fourth of July festivities since 1777. To find, photograph, or even play with fireworks, check out our picks for the best fireworks-themed apps.

Meditation podcasts to help you relieve stress – Here’s a collection of free meditation podcasts that I listen to via my iPhone and iPad when I need a healthy dose of rest, relief, or relaxation. These guided podcasts are all available through iTunes, but you can find several of them on their own dedicated websites to listen to via your computer or other device. Android users should also be able to catch some of them by installing any one of a number of dedicated podcast apps highlighted in this article by CNET’s Scott Webster.

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The minimalist guide to summer travel tech – Here are some tried-and-true tips on how to make the most out of toting the fewest gadgets and entanglements possible.

The scary truth about data security with wearables – Data brokers collect data from numerous sources for everyone in the US. It is alarming how much data is collected and the potential for security breaches, particularly from wearable devices. And someone isn’t immune just because they avoid social media and wearables. The FTC said data brokers collect an average of 3,000 data segments on nearly every US consumer. Here is the type of data that brokers collect, according to the FTC report….

Security:

Microsoft slates critical IE, Windows patches for Tuesday – According to Thursday’s advanced notice, which briefly described the July updates, the second critical bulletin will patch all client editions of Windows — from Vista to Windows 8.1 — and all server versions except for those running on systems powered by Intel’s Itanium processors. Windows Server 2008 and Server 2012 systems provisioned by installing only the Server Core — a minimal install with many features and services omitted to lock down the machine — are also exempt from Bulletin 2, Microsoft said.

Your Android phone is a SNITCH: Wi-Fi bug makes you easy to track – Your mobile device could be compromising your privacy by broadcasting your location history over the air, even when it is in sleep mode, according to new research by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Of particular concern are newer Android gadgets, specifically those running Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” or later. That version of the Google OS introduced a feature called Preferred Network Offload (PNO), which has a habit of broadcasting the names of the last 15 Wi-Fi networks a device has joined, even when the screen is off.

Five WordPress Plugins You Should Update Right Now – WordPress powers over 70 million Websites around the world, making it an attractive target for cyber-criminals. Attackers frequently hijack vulnerable WordPress installations to host spam pages and other malicious content. Researchers have uncovered a number of serious vulnerabilities in these popular WordPress plugins over the last few weeks. Check your administrator dashboard and make sure you have the latest versions installed.

Take precautions when using Gmail—or any other email service – Nothing in this world is ever entirely safe, and that goes double for anything that lives in the cloud. If you use Gmail, your mail could be read by someone other than the intended recipient, or your account just might get hijacked. That’s the case with every email service. Whether you use Gmail, Outlook, or your ISP’s email service, you need to protect yourself. I’ll concentrate on Gmail here, but the basic advice applies to any mail service.

Israel Army’s Twitter account hacked, posts ‘incorrect’ tweets – Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians are increasingly escalating as the two sides intensify their ground battle around the Gaza Strip. It appears their conflict has now also been brought online as the Israel Defense Forces Twitter account was hacked on Thursday. The official IDF spokesperson account sent out an apology tweet saying, “We apologize for the incorrect tweets. Our twitter account was compromised. We will combat terror on all fronts including the cyber dimension.”

Conficker: Still spamming after all these years – How pathetic is the security in many enterprises? Almost six years since the patch to stop it was issued, Conficker is still one of the most common threats.

Company News:

T-Mobile CEO reiterates innocence, slams FTC for ‘sensationalizing’ – John Legere, T-Mobile’s chief executive, again called out the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday, claiming the agency was “sensationalizing” its claims against the cell phone carrier. The FTC filed a complaint Tuesday against the company, alleging T-Mobile has made hundreds of millions of dollars on fees from “premium” text messages that customers didn’t request. The messages, often sent as a joke or flirting tips, can cost $9.99 a month. The US carriers agreed in November to end the practice, banning companies from sending these kinds of messages, and T-Mobile recently introduced a program to try to refund customers for the messages.

Lights out for Yahoo’s Shine site, Xobni email apps, other products – Yahoo is shutting down a range of products, including apps from its acquisition of email management service Xobni, and its Shine women’s lifestyle site.

HomeAway Mulls Venture Fund As It Hits A Milestone – The vacation rental marketplace HomeAway is pondering a move into backing startup companies. As it passes a recent milestone of breaking more than 1 million listings on its service, one of the first online marketplaces to challenge the hotel industry may begin making minority investments in companies that would add value to its service.

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Tri-band Wi-Fi chips for multi-gigabit streaming coming from Qualcomm – Qualcomm has purchased Wilocity, a startup making Wi-Fi chips that support multi-gigabit streaming by operating in the 60GHz band. Qualcomm will combine Wilocity technology with its own more traditional Wi-Fi chips to create a tri-band platform.

Games and Entertainment:

4th of July gaming: Transformers MMO goes Open Beta – Starting tomorrow, Transformers Universe will go from Closed to Open Beta for the whole world. Users like yourself will be able to head to the Transformers Universe webpage, sign up, and jump in within the day. What’s excellent about this game beyond the fact that you can transform into a vehicle to travel from place to place is that this game works for both Windows PC and Mac!

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Turtle Rock begins registration for Evolve PC alpha – Turtle Rock Studios and publisher 2K have announced a limited alpha for their upcoming game Evolve. We were able to catch a glimpse of the four-versus-one shooter at this years E3 and it looked fairly impressive to say the least. This comes as no surprise as the studio behind the game has released previously highly rated titles, Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Connected devices responsible for billions in wasted energy – Connected devices come in many flavors, some from big-name companies, others from lesser known entities looking to nab their piece of the industry pie. Regardless, the market is filled with energy-inefficient products, and they are having an unfortunate effect: billions of dollars in wasted electricity every year.

Fox News rips off BioShock Infinite logo – Whoever’s responsible for graphic design on “Fox & Friends” is not having a good day. This designer appears to have used a rather familiar source for their design of a “Defending the Homeland” segment marker as it looks rather familiar to a game we’ve played recently. The game: Bioshock Infinite. The design: main logo – typography, stars, colors, and all.

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This incredible floating display belongs in a sci-fi movie – Floating displays may be the stuff of science-fiction, but one research team is looking to make them real, using a carefully tuned acoustic-potential field to create swarms of particles clustered into physical graphics. Dubbed Pixie Dust – after the Peter Pan quote – the system can cause objects up to 7g per cubic centimeter to hover in moving forms, effectively translating digital objects into real, and with a Kinect sensor thrown in they can even respond to the viewer’s movements.

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Something to think about:

“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.”

-    Dr. David M. Burns

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wise PC 1stAid – Wise PC 1stAid is an intelligent software which has assembled most common PC problems and helps you fix them automatically through an intelligent process. It’s a rich PC solutions library and intelligent First-Aid help for you to fix PC problems.

Free of Charge – Wise PC 1stAid is one of the excellent freeware from WiseCleaner.com. Users can use it, update it and get technical support for it for free.

Easy to Match Problem – The interface is compact, direct and user-friendly. A phenomenon description, a screenshot image and a notice, the 3 are combined together as a Problem Suite. It’s easy for you to match your problem.

Fast, Automatic & Intelligent Fix – If a problem listed matches with your current problem, read the “notice” part carefully, then click the “Fix Now” button. Wise PC 1stAid will automatically start fixing your problem. All you have to do is to wait with patience while the software is solving your problem intelligently.

In-time, Unlimited & Active Enrichment – Currently, Wise PC 1stAid can fix problems like: Windows desktop icons error, cannot open hyperlink in outlook or other software, cannot open IE links, cannot open task manager, cannot open registry editor, lame internet surfing, program running not smoothly, too much memory occupied, slow startup, etc. They are only a part of it! The Problem Suites library of Wise PC 1stAid will keep being updated & enriched in a timely manner. More and more problems that users have encountered will be fixed here automatically.

Unlimited Technical Support – What if your problem does not match with any problem suite listed? Fill in a simple form here to submit your question and screenshot image, which will lead you to seek help on our forum. Problem you submitted will be displayed as a post there, and our professional technicians and other users would be pleased to help you with unlimited technical support.

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Ginger - Ginger Proofreader, the first product to be released based on the NLP platform, is a free spelling and grammar checker, intended for both speakers of English as their mother tongue, and English as a second language (ESL). Ginger Proofreader checks and corrects spelling mistakes, misused words, and corrects grammar mistakes, based on the context of the full sentence. Even when a word is spelled correctly, Ginger Proofreader checks grammar to see whether it makes sense in the sentence, and offers alternatives to the word.

Ginger Proofreader can also be used seamlessly by users writing documents, presentations, and emails, in MS-Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, IE, Firefox, and Chrome, enabling them to correct words in the sentence with a single click.

Features:

Ginger Proofreader is integrated with MS Office ® and with all major browsers

Contextual grammar and spell checking

Ginger Proofreader identifies and marks both spelling and grammar mistakes while considering their context

Corrects as you type or scans entire documents

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FontViewOK – The problem is well known: Only the written form is remembered, but the name is forgotten. Here FontViewOK can help. It creates a quick visual overview of all installed fonts. The deployment is so simple, a help file is not required.

Features:

Quick overview of all fonts.

Printing with print preview function

Changeable font size, style and color

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Targets the Privacy-Conscious for Surveillance – Jake Appelbaum et. al, are reporting on XKEYSCORE selection rules that target users — and people who just visit the websites of — Tor, Tails, and other sites. This isn’t just metadata; this is “full take” content that’s stored forever.

This code demonstrates the ease with which an XKeyscore rule can analyze the full content of intercepted connections. The fingerprint first checks every message using the “email_address” function to see if the message is to or from “bridges@torproject.org”. Next, if the address matched, it uses the “email_body” function to search the full content of the email for a particular piece of text – in this case, “https://bridges.torproject.org/”. If the “email_body” function finds what it is looking for, it passes the full email text to a C++ program which extracts the bridge addresses and stores them in a database.

It is interesting to note that this rule specifically avoids fingerprinting users believed to be located in Five Eyes countries, while other rules make no such distinction. For instance, the following fingerprint targets users visiting the Tails and Linux Journal websites, or performing certain web searches related to Tails, and makes no distinction about the country of the user.

There are also rules that target users of numerous other privacy-focused internet services, including HotSpotShield, FreeNet, Centurian, FreeProxies.org, MegaProxy, privacy.li and an anonymous email service called MixMinion as well as its predecessor MixMaster. The appid rule for MixMinion is extremely broad as it matches all traffic to or from the IP address 128.31.0.34, a server located on the MIT campus.

It’s hard to tell how extensive this is. It’s possible that anyone who clicked on this link — with the embedded torproject.org URL above — is currently being monitored by the NSA. It’s possible that this only will happen to people who receive the link in e-mail, which will mean every Crypto-Gram subscriber in a couple of weeks. And I don’t know what else the NSA harvests about people who it selects in this manner.

Whatever the case, this is very disturbing.

The NSA thinks Linux Journal is an “extremist forum”? – The National Security Agency’s attempts to keep track of people outside the US who use encryption and anonymization software from the Tor Project also apparently captured the traffic of anyone reading a wide range of articles on Linux Journal, according to documents published by the German public television broadcaster ARD and provided by security researchers (and Tor contributors) Jacob Appelbaum, Aaron Gibsom, and Leif Ryge. The documents—which include what appears to be search rules for the NSA’s XKeyscore Internet surveillance system, indicate that the NSA also gathered up data on visitors to articles on the Linux Journal website.

In the Das Erste article, Appelbaum et al wrote that the rule “records details about visits to a popular Internet journal for Linux operating system users called ‘The Linux Journal—the Original Magazine of the Linux Community’” and called it an “extremist forum.”

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The structure of a three-hop Tor circuit.

EU court orders more transparency over US-EU terrorist finance tracking program – The European Union’s top court has ordered EU institutions to lift the veil on negotiations over sending EU citizens’ banking data to U.S. authorities in an effort to identify and combat terrorism.

The U.S. set up the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and began ordering Belgian company SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) to hand over information about transactions sent through its U.S. operating center.

Following media reports in 2006 about the data handover, EU and US officials sought to bring the program within the EU-US Safe Harbor agreement on data protection, to ensure that citizens’ data was not misused.

Those efforts resulted in an agreement between the EU and the U.S. Treasury Department that became effective on Aug. 1, 2010—but the negotiations leading to it were shrouded in secrecy.

In July 2009, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, Sophie in ‘t Veld, requested access to a legal opinion on the deal prepared for one of the EU’s decision-making bodies, the Council of the EU, where ministers from each member state meet to adopt laws and coordinate policies.

The document contained the opinion of the Council’s legal service on a recommendation by the European Commission that the EU open negotiations with the U.S. on the exchange of data.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 3, 2014

Obama’s privacy board OKs massive NSA surveillance;  Five ways tech can make this 4th of July easier on you;  How to delete or disable your Facebook account;  July’s Hottest Video Game Releases;  How to spot and avoid installing potentially unwanted programs;  Microsoft wants you to beta test new versions of Office;  Should a pocket breathalyzer be your drinking buddy?  Raspberry Pi gets a serious, more powerful, upgradeable rival;  Age of Empires Online shuts down permanently;  Lose days of your life to these 13 deep and meaty PC games;  Six apps that turn your pictures into memories;  10 tips for a more user-friendly Linux desktop;  Microsoft rolls out Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 RC.

Obama’s privacy board OKs massive NSA surveillance – A White House panel examining the privacy and legal fallout from the massive National Security Agency spying revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden concluded that the snooping was lawful yet “close to the line of constitutional reasonableness.” The Privacy and Civil Liberties Board said that the programs that tap undersea cables and acquire data from ISPs like Yahoo and Google with broad orders from a secret court are “authorized by Congress, reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, and an extremely valuable and effective intelligence tool.” The 191-page report (PDF), released late Tuesday, was largely condemned by civil liberties advocates and scholars.

Five ways tech can make this 4th of July easier on you – The Fourth of July is coming up, and you know what that means. Grilling, relaxing, and trying not to blow digits clean off your hands while lighting off fireworks. Before you head out to a fireworks show run by pros (and thus better than yours), be sure to check out some of our favorite tech, which will make your holiday easy and fun.

How to spot and avoid installing potentially unwanted programs – They’re called PUPs—Potentially Unwanted Programs—and they sneak onto your system as accessories to the program you actually intend to install. They’re annoying, and they can result in slower performance, space-stealing browser toolbars, annoying pop-ups, and even loss of privacy. You don’t have to give up free software to avoid PUPs, but you do have to pay attention. Each PUP first appears as a trap in the desired program’s installation wizard.

How to delete or disable your Facebook account – Facebook may boast 1.28 billion monthly active users, but the social network isn’t for everyone. Maybe you don’t find it all that useful, or you’ve received one too many FarmVille requests. Or perhaps the June 2014 disclosure that the company messed with users’ News Feeds as part of a research experiment proved to be the final straw (even if monkeying with News Feeds is what Facebook does all the time). Whatever the reason, you’ve had it with Facebook. So how do you make a clean break? You’ve got two choices—deactivating your Facebook account or deleting it outright.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

McDonald’s is testing an order-ahead app to make fast food even faster – 22 McDonald’s locations in Columbus, Georgia have been chosen to pilot a new app called McD Ordering. It allows customers to select the food they want included in an order before they reach the restaurant and pay for it with a debit or credit card. Then instead of approaching the counter to order, you present a generated QR code on your smartphone screen, this is scanned, and your order is handed over. McD Ordering is also setup to work at curbside pick-up stations.

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10 tips for a more user-friendly Linux desktop – Learn a few simple tricks to make your Linux desktop experience as user-friendly as possible. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight my 10 best tips for creating more user-friendly Linux desktops. Not every one of these tips will apply to your particular desktop (be it GNOME, Unity, KDE, XFCE, Deepin Desktop, Cinnamon… the list goes on). But you should find more than one tip that will go a long way toward improving your experience.

Microsoft wants you to beta test new versions of Office – A new website from Microsoft allows you to sign up to receive pre-release versions of Office as long as you are willing to provide feedback based on your experiences with the software.

‘Bong With Friends’? Stoner dating site offers budding romance – No, dating app Bang With Friends hasn’t been rebranded again. My420mate.com is its own animal, allegedly the ideal place to meet someone with the same, um, lifestyle as you.

Should a pocket breathalyzer be your drinking buddy? – Making the determination about how intoxicated you really are has gotten easier than walking a straight line—three models of smartphone breathalyzers released last year let you measure your BAC from your bar stool. While personal breathalyzers have been around for a while, these new models leverage the interest in measuring personal metrics by offering up the smooth features of a smartphone app. But how well do they work?

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CEO of European publishing giant accuses Google of downgrading rivals’ search results – The CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation says Google is downgrading rivals’ products in search results, and that a proposal to resolve this has “basically the business principles of the Mafia”.

VLC for Android Finally Available in the US Play Store – VLC has long been one of the top media players on the desktop, but its life on mobile platforms has been much more tumultuous. After coming to iOS a few years ago it was pulled because of Apple’s licensing requirements. It eventually returned to iOS, but the development of the Android version has been arduous to say the least. After nearly two years, VLC is available in the Play Store for US Android users.

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Raspberry Pi gets a serious, more powerful, upgradeable rival – SolidRun has packed plenty of features into the HummingBoard, too. It’s got dual USB ports and a dual USB header, integrated 10/100 Ethernet, digital and analog audio, and HDMI and LVDS outputs. It also has a 26-pin IO header that’s compatible with the numerous RPi add-ons you can already buy. There are three HummingBoard configurations to choose from depending on how much power you need. The entry level i1 comes with a Freescale i.MX solo processor and 512MB of RAM and sells for just $42. The i2 adds a second processing core and doubles the RAM for an extra $30. Upgrading to the top-end HummingBoard i2eX gets you a fully-tricked out system with mini PCIe and mSATA slots, an integrated infrared receiver, and a gigabit NIC. It’s a powerful, flexbile little board for $99.

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Microsoft rolls out Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 RC; Update 4 in development – Microsoft has announced the availability of Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 Release Candidate, and confirms that work has already begun on Update 4, with further details coming in the next few weeks.

Six apps that turn your pictures into memories – It’s time to get those photos off of your phone and somewhere they can be seen, whether that’s in an email, on social media, or on a physical piece of paper in a physical book. Here are six apps that can help you turn your phone photos from forgotten, hard-drive-space-wasters into cool, shareable memories.

To Xfinity WiFi we’re all hotspots, but you don’t have to be – As Xfinity WiFi spreads west, so do concerns about the use of customers’ modems as both private and public Wi-Fi connections. Luckily, you have choices for opting out of the program.

Share a hard drive with everyone on your Wi-Fi network – Cloud storage is expensive, but it’s not the only way to share a bunch of files across many devices. Instead, you can use an external hard drive and your router to create networked storage accessible to anyone on your Wi-Fi network. When it’s set up, any files stored on that drive can be accessed by all devices on your network — even phones and tablets. Here’s how to set it up on Windows.

How to get the most from a tablet on vacation – You may be taking a relaxing vacation this summer to recharge your battery. Getting away from the stress of everyday life, and especially work, is something we all need to do each year. Vacation means leisure time, and the tablet is tailor-made for such activities. With a little preparation you can make the most of having your tablet on vacation.

Security:

Cybercrooks breed SELF-CLONING MUTANT that STEALS your BANK DETAILS – Cybercrooks have put together a botnet client which bundles in worm-like functionality that gives it the potential to spread quickly. Seculert warns that the latest version of the Cridex (AKA Geodo) information stealing Trojan includes a self-spreading infection method. Infected PCs in the botnet download a secondary strain of malware – an email worm – from the botnet’s command and control servers. That worm pushes out an email with links to download a zip file containing the primary Cridex Trojan

RSA: Brazil’s ‘Boleto Malware’ stole nearly $4 billion in two years – RSA researchers uncovered a massive botnet fraud operation that has reaped nearly $4 billion through man-in-the-browser attacks that seamlessly intercept payment of Boletos — Brazil’s version of a money order.

CosmicDuke will steal your login data and own your network – All malware is bad, but some malware is more insidious than others. That seems to be the case with CosmicDuke. According to a new white paper from F-Secure, CosmicDuke meshes elements of two notorious malware threats—MiniDuke and Cosmu—to form a potent new attack.

Running Cisco’s VoIP manager? Four words you don’t want to hear: ‘Backdoor SSH root key’ – Cisco has warned Unified Communications installations can be remotely hijacked by miscreants, thanks to a hardwired SSH private key. In an advisory, the networking giant said unauthenticated attackers can log into its Unified Communications Domain Manager (Unified CDM) software as a root-level user by exploiting a default SSH key meant for Cisco support reps. The key is embedded in the software, and can be extracted by reverse engineering the Unified CDM’s binary.

Company News:

Amazon Stands Up To FTC Demands For More Parental Controls – Amazon is refusing to comply with a request from the Federal Trade Commission to implement stricter controls that would prevent children from making in-app purchases. The FTC is demanding Amazon implement a “consent” model similar to the one Apple conceded to earlier this year, according to a letter Amazon to the FTC Tuesday. Amazon believes it already has implemented effective parental controls consistent with the model the FTC settled on with Apple, and it says it refunded customers who complained of children making in-app purchases without their permission.

Facebook’s Head Of Policy On Emotion Experiment: “That’s Innovation” – While Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg today apologized for its controversial emotion manipulation experiment being “poorly communicated”, another executive said this kind of research makes the product better, and “it’s concerning when we see legislation that could possibly stifle that sort of creativity and that innovation.” Facebook’s head of global policy management Monika Bickert showed little remorse when she spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival yesterday, but did say “What I think we have to do in the future is make sure we’re being transparent, both to regulators and to people using the product about exactly what we’re doing.”

Yahoo Does A “Summer Cleaning,” Shuts Down Its Xobni Acquisition, Plus Other Under-Performing Products – Yahoo’s spring cleanings have extended into the summer months, the company announced today, detailing a series of product changes and closures, many of which are nearly obsolete, obscure, or just unpopular. But among the more high-profile of these closures is Yahoo acquisition Xobni, the maker of smart email and contacts management apps that were acquired last summer.

Samsung puts plasma TV out of its misery: Death this year – Lower the flags to half-mast: Samsung will stop producing plasma panels for TVs by the end of November, the company’s display arm has confirmed, as interest in the screen type dwindles in the face of LCD and OLED. The decision follows in the footsteps of Panasonic, which opted to cut its own plasma production in 2013.

Facebook Buys Video Ad Firm LiveRail – Facebook on Wednesday announced it has agreed to acquire video-advertising company LiveRail for an undisclosed sum. The company provides marketers with access to video content and information about where to show their ads. Its customers include Major League Baseball, ABC, A&E Networks, Gannett, and Dailymotion. Facebook said it hopes the acquisition will allow it to improve video advertising for marketers and users.

Games and Entertainment:

Lose days of your life to these 13 deep and meaty PC games – Whether you’re looking for an entertaining way to blow a long weekend or simply want to wrap your head around a satisfyingly complex experience, these 13 deep, intricate, and just plain great PC games will hold you for hours and hours and hours on end.

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July’s Hottest Video Game Releases – July is here, and the sticky heat of summer is settling in like a disgusting damp blanket you won’t be able to kick off for next few months. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to weathering the feverish warmth outside. Rather than heading into the humid maw that is the outside world, you can stay inside your hopefully comfortable, air-conditioned homes and play a few video games. And there’s plenty to keep you busy too.

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Age of Empires Online shuts down permanently – Age of Empires Online, the massively multiplayer game launched by Microsoft on the lines of its popular strategy game has been shutdown permanently after nearly 3 years since its launch. The free-to-play online game is believed to have become too expensive to manage with new content being created continuously. Last year, Microsoft announced that they would discontinue Games for Windows Live, which was a key part of the Age of Empires Online game, in addition to various other Windows-based games with online multiplayer functionality.

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Civilization Revolution 2 is Now Available on iPad and Phone – It has been a long time coming, but Civilization Revolution 2 has finally been released on iPad and iPhone. This shrunken-down version of the storied desktop gaming franchise retains many of the traditional elements, but brings an interface and gameplay mechanics ideal for a mobile device. It costs a pretty penny, but you get what you pay for.

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Minimum Early Access: ditching graphics never looked so good – Inside this third-person shooter multiplayer game you’ll find a stripped-down masterpiece. Developed by Human Head and Atari, this game conveys a sense of grandeur the likes of which we’ve never seen done with such flat surfaces. It’s online, it’s played from a third-person perspective, it’s got RTS and RPG elements, it’s blocky, and its out in Steam Early Access. This is Minimum.

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Lindsay Lohan sues Rockstar Games over GTA V – Lindsay Lohan is suing the makers of Grand Theft Auto V, alleging that they created a character in the game with an “unequivocal” similarity to the ‘Mean Girls’ actress, without her permission.

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Watch Sunset Overdrive’s ultra-crazy multiplayer gameplay immediately – This morning the folks behind Sunset Overdrive have revealed a whole lot more about their multiplayer experience, starting with notes on how you’ll be switching back and forth between single and multiplayer seamlessly. Your accomplishments in single-player move over to multiplayer and vice-versa, creating an excellent experience for those that play as much in one universe as they do in the other.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Beach reads for techies 2014 – The Pew Research Center noted in a recent survey that 76% of adults read a book in some format over the previous 12 months, with the average adult reading 12 books. We polled a dozen technologists to find out what they hope to read this summer and in which medium. Click through to discover what your colleagues are reading, then use the comments tab to share your own recommendations.

Tetris Gets Hacked Onto The Only Thing It’s Not Already On: A Playable T-Shirt – Tetris. Since its debut in 1984, it’s found its way onto nearly every possible platform. Game consoles. Graphing calculators. Lab equipment. Buildings. Now its found its way onto the most elusive and coveted platform of all: some dude’s chest. In honor of Tetris’ 30th anniversary, tinkerer Mark Kerger grabbed 128 LEDs, a fistful of batteries and an Arduino Uno, and crammed ‘em all together inside of a plain white tee. The end result: Tetris. On his T-shirt. Tee-tris? Chestris?

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Dell laptop explodes in 72-year-old’s face as she plays Spider Solitaire – Loretta Luff was using the laptop to play Spider Solitaire on a small computer desk when she noticed an unusual new smell from the machine. What happened next was the Inspiron laptop blew up, shooting debris into her face, as well as on to her chest and arms. The burning battery broke into pieces and fell on the carpet setting it on fire. Luff’s jumper was also set on fire, which she removed quickly, but still managed to get burns on her arms, face, and chest. She also burned her foot as she stepped on part of the battery by accident.

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Goldman Sachs asks judge to force Google to unsend an email – The investment bank has gone all the way to the New York Supreme Court to scrub an email containing confidential info accidentally sent to a total stranger.

Something to think about:

“To obtain a man’s opinion of you, make him mad.”

-    Oliver Wendell Holmes

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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Donkey Kong Craze – Relive the adventures of a large gorilla called Donkey Kong with this remake of the classic arcade game. Choose between a classic Donkey Kong remake, with all the original levels or Donkey Kong 2.

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Songza – Songza provides tailored playlists depending on a users location, time of day and even the weather. Working? Relaxing? At the gym? Songza plays you the right music at the right time.

Features:

Named “Editors’ Choice” by Google Play.

Free, with no listening limit.

Let Songza’s ‘Music Concierge’ find the right music for your moments.

Browse a curated playlist library organized by activity, genre, decade, & mood.

Stream thousands of original playlists handmade by music experts.

Save your favorite playlists & share them via Facebook, Twitter or email.

Tablet support

Limitations: Free version has some in app adds – the $0.99 a week premium service disables them.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The EFF Calls Gov Report Supporting Surveillance “Legally Flawed And Factually Incomplete” – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) isn’t enthused with a report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) concerning government surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The current report generally upheld the program, offering a few motes of potential reform as suggestions. The report was, I think it fair to say, expected to have more teeth.

PCLOB previously made friends among activists by indicating in a prior report that certain bulk surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act is unconstitutional.

The EFF, often the voice of dissent on this sort of issue, called the report “legally flawed and factually incomplete.” Its core argument against the report is that it fails to properly deal with the issue of upstream collection, that it doesn’t handle privacy protection for non-U.S. persons, and that the document hides “behind the ‘complexity’ of the technology” employed by the U.S. government in its surveillance efforts.

“Factually incomplete”… AKA LYING!

NSA, GCHQ spies have hurt us more than they know – cloud group – The PRISM revelations – a real shocker for anyone that didn’t already realise governments monitor their own and other countries’ citizens – have undermined business confidence in moving to the cloud.

This is according to the UK-based Cloud Industry Forum, which conducted an annual survey of 250 private and public sector organisations and noted a reverse in patterns seen in recent years.

More than half of those questioned (52 per cent) voiced security as a major concern when asked about moving data to the cloud, up from 37 per cent a year ago.

“In the previous two surveys, people [in the UK] were less sensitive about moving to the cloud,” Andy Burton, founder of the Cloud Industry Forum, told The Channel.

Security worries were most prevalent among large enterprises, with 63 per cent of big biz voicing heightened worries since former NSA sys admin Edward Snowden blew the whistle on government snooping.

Left-Field ISPs File Hopeless Legal Complaint Against UK Spy Agency GCHQ – In a move that feels a bit like turkeys complaining to Christmas, a consortium of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), in conjunction with Privacy International, have filed a legal complaint with the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a judicial body that claims to be independent from the British Government, over how the UK spy agency GCHQ reportedly operates.

The complaint relates to what the group call “GCHQ’s attacking and exploitation of network infrastructure in order to unlawfully gain access to potentially millions of people’s private communications” — the type of revelations that came to light courtesy of the Edward Snowden files, which include the targeting of ISPs’ systems, as well as their system admin staff.

Specifically, the group of rather left-field ISPs argue that GCHQ’s attacks on providers are not only illegal, but are “destructive, undermine the goodwill the organisations rely on, and damage the trust in security and privacy that makes the internet such a crucial tool of communication and empowerment.” As a result, they are demanding an end to such network “exploitation” and the infringement of their users’ rights.

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE: US govt backs mass spying by US govt: Sucks to be you, Johnny Foreigner – The US government’s Privacy and Civil Liberty Oversight Board (PCLOB) has dealt a blow to opponents of the NSA’s surveillance programs in a new report that reaffirms the controversial Section 702 program.

The PCLOB said in its official review of the program that 702 represented a “considerable value” to the government despite some concerns about the scope with which the program has been collecting information on US citizens.

Section 702 is part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which as the name suggests is not allowed to be used against US persons. Yet Americans can end up being snooped on by systems targeting foreigners – consider a US citizen answering a call from a relative abroad, for instance.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 2, 2014

PayPal freezes out ProtonMail, asks if startup has ‘government permission’ to encrypt email;  New Snowden docs: NSA spies on pretty much everyone abroad;  The Internet of Things at home: 14 smart products that could change your life;  Facebook: Unethical, untrustworthy, and now downright harmful;  Watch the World Cup streaming here now free;  Faster Speeds With Tri-Band Wi-Fi Routers? Not Exactly;  Apple Offers Gift Cards in Back-to-School Deal;  Americans Are Lost Without Their Smartphones;  10 videoconferencing tools for small groups;  Extend the power of your native calendar with these apps; Print photos, docs, and more from your Android to any printer;  ‘Happiness blanket’ monitors airline passengers’ moods;  Facebook Mood Study: The Facts;  Top Android phones (July 2014 edition);  EFF sues NSA over snoops ‘hoarding’ zero-day security bugs.

New Snowden docs: NSA spies on pretty much everyone abroad – The National Security Agency is authorized to conduct spying operations on nearly every country and major political organization and intercept communications that talk about those countries, according to a set of newly published documents provided to The Washington Post by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The only countries absent from the list of targets are the other four members of the “Five Eyes” group of English-speaking countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The Five Eyes routinely share high-level intelligence and are believed to have agreed not to spy on one another. (Although the US seems to have direct access to British metadata.)

Facebook: Unethical, untrustworthy, and now downright harmful – News of Facebook experimenting on its users’ emotional states has rattled everyone. Worse, the tool used to perform the experiments is so flawed there’s no way of knowing if users were harmed.

The Internet of Things at home: 14 smart products that could change your life – The Internet of Things may be coming to the office — but it’s already in the home. These 14 products let you monitor and control everything from the thermostat on your wall to the crockpot on the kitchen counter — right from your smartphone.

Watch the World Cup streaming here now free – This week we’re keeping up with the World Cup as Belgium takes on the United States. This match can be streamed on the internet in several ways, only one of which is entirely free – and legal. If you speak Spanish, all the better – if you speak English and refuse to watch the match in anything but English, you’ll need to get your wallet out.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Top Android phones (July 2014 edition) – Time once again to take a tour of a handful of the best Android phones currently available on the market (July 2014). Here are a handful of the best Android-powered handsets currently on offer, some new, some old, so whether you’re after a handset for personal use, of one suited to BYOD, there bound to be one here for you.

Print photos, docs, and more from your Android to any printer – If sending an email to your desktop is still your method of printing from your Android, now’s the time that changes. Using Google Cloud Print, you can print just about anything from your Android phone or tablet to any printer, even if it’s an older model. Cloud Print — which is technically in beta, like many Google things — works by processing the print jobs over the Web. So, if you like, you can send items to your printer at home, even when you’re at a friend’s house.

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How to search Twitter like a pro – With an average of 6,000 tweets per second, or 500 million tweets a day, Twitter can be an overwhelming source of information. Even if you have crafted a finely tuned list of people to follow that’s not too big and not too small but just right, your feed can often obscure useful or interesting tweets and tidbits with a seemingly unyielding stream of jibber jabber. Thankfully, Twitter has a powerful search tool, and you don’t need a Twitter account to use it. Just head to Twitter’s search page and do one of two things.

Windows XP still alive and kicking – Though no longer supported by Microsoft, XP commanded a quarter of all desktop OS traffic seen by Net Applications last month. To be sure, XP’s presence among desktop users has dwindled over time. A year ago, it held more than 37 percent of all desktop OS traffic recorded by Net Applications. The 13-year-old OS is proving more resilient than Microsoft may have anticipated when it announced its impending end of support almost seven years ago.

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Faster Speeds With Tri-Band Wi-Fi Routers? Not Exactly – You are going to hear a lot in the next few months about tri-band Wi-Fi routers. Netgear just announced its Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router (R8000), which starts shipping on July 11, and other vendors are sure to follow. What’s likely to jump out most for consumers about these routers are the advertised speeds: 3 Gbps and higher. Yes, that is crazy fast throughput, far exceeding the 1Gbps wired speed of most consumer networking devices. But don’t get too excited.

Oculus Rift DK2 pre-orders set to ship July 14 – The Oculus Rift DK2 pre-orders will begin shipping the week of July 14th, it has been announced. The information was revealed on the Oculus developers’ forum yesterday evening, with the company saying it has exceeded 45,000 pre-orders for the device.

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Get tough on stubborn programs with Revo uninstaller – Sometimes you just can’t get the job done with an app’s built-in tools. That’s when you may have to turn to a third-party uninstaller.

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Were you unable to update to Windows 8.1? Microsoft finally has a fix for you – For some users of Windows RT and 8.1, they were unable to update to the lastest version of Microsoft’s OS but that is water under the bridge thanks to a new pilot program for the affected users.

Apple Offers Gift Cards in Back-to-School Deal – Though many schools have only just recessed for the summer, Apple is already gearing up for the back-to-school season with a new offer for those who pick up a Mac, iPhone, or iPad for the fall. Those who purchase a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, or Mac Pro are eligible to receive a $100 gift card via email. Those who purchase an iPhone or iPad can get a $50 gift card.

10 videoconferencing tools for small groups – Whether your platform of choice is a PC, the web, or a mobile device, there’s a solution out there for you. Here are ten of the most noteworthy video chat and conferencing systems currently available.

Smarty Pins from Google brings trivia to Maps – Think you’re smart, do ya? Well, Google might have you beat (no, they do, don’t even try to argue that). Geography, with it’s ever-changing place in this world, can be a tough subject. Even tougher is finding areas on a world map, even when you know the answer. If you dare, give Google’s latest experiment Smarty Pins a shot.

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How to set up Parallels Access on your PC – Parallels Access allows users to control their PC or Mac remotely with their mobile devices. While the service only supported iOS after its initial launch a year ago, Android support was added with the release of Parallels Access 2.0 in mid-June. Getting set up with Parallels Access is pretty foolproof: Just head over to the Parallels website to set up an account and download the Windows client. You don’t have to enter any payment information for a free 14-day trial of the software (it’s $20 per year after that).

Play With Google’s Psychedelic New Interactive Music Video Cube – It’s called The Cube, and it’s a trip. Built by Google Creative Labs as “an experimental platform for interactive storytelling”, The Cube is an in-browser manipulateable 3-D box with a different video and audio track on each face. It debuted online today with indie dance band The Presets’ new single “No Fun”. You decide what to watch and hear by clicking and dragging The Cube to show a single side or a combination.

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Net neutrality supporters stage ‘tug-of-war’ protest outside FCC – Pulling on a rope labeled ‘The Internet,’ protesters representing telecom companies and regular users vied for domination, bringing the net neutrality controversy to life.

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Dropbox for Business folders can now be shared in read-only mode – Users of Dropbox for Business will now be able to share folders with colleagues without necessarily giving them rights to edit their content. Giving users read-only access to folders hasn’t been possible until now: Dropbox for Business users by default granted edit rights to the people they shared the folders with. Dropbox makes this move as it faces heightening pressure both in the consumer and enterprise cloud storage and file share markets from rivals like Microsoft and Google.

Calendar companions: Extend the power of your native calendar with these apps – Sure, your phone and tablet have their own calendar apps that can help you manage your schedule. But there are other options, too. A variety of third-party calendar apps—many of them free—are available, offering smart features, such as social network support, integrated tasks, and customization that your standard calendar lacks.

Security:

iCloak Stik Aims To Put Robust Online Privacy In The Hands Of The Many, Not The Few – Meet iCloak Stik: a plug and play device that’s being designed to make robust online privacy accessible to the many not the few – by enabling an average computer user to route their browsing via the Tor or I2P anonymizing networks so it can’t be tracked. The device will also let users select a particular country where they want to appear to be coming from, which can defeat regional content locks. Every time you connect to the Internet with iCloak it will also generate a new random MAC address — meaning the hardware itself can’t be traced either.

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Security consultant condemns hotel booking site for “appalling” data leak – A hotel booking site allowed anyone to view its customers’ data by simply changing a booking reference number in the address bar, and ignored repeated warnings from a security expert about the issue.

WordPress plugin with 1.7 million downloads puts sites at risk of takeover – Websites that run WordPress and MailPoet, a plugin with more than 1.7 million downloads, are susceptible to hacks that give attackers almost complete control, researchers have warned. “If you have this plugin activated on your website, the odds are not in your favor,” Daniel Cid, CTO of security firm Sucuri, warned in a blog post published Tuesday. “An attacker can exploit this vulnerability without having any privileges/accounts on the target site. This is a major threat, it means every single website using it is vulnerable.”

Microsoft targets 18,000 malicious websites, takes 4 million offline in the process – Microsoft has gotten pretty good at using the legal system to combat the spread of malware and online fraud. It appears, however, that they need to work on their finesse game a little. In their latest assault, the collateral damage knocked around 4 million sites offline.

Company News:

T-Mobile US took ’100s of millions of dollars’ in bogus txt charges – Feds – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed suit against the carrier, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened an investigation. The agencies alleged the company allowed users to be charged for premium text messages without their knowledge or against their will. According to the FTC complaint, T-Mobile US bagged huge revenues from marketing firms who signed users up to receive premium SMSes and proceeded to charge fees even after users had opted out of the services. (Just once – just once – I’d like to see a robber/thief CEO serve prison time. If the U.S can sentence a chocolate bar thief to life imprisonment, that shouldn’t be too hard – should it? Well, should it?) 

Google Buys Songza – Google has acquired music streaming service Songza after weeks of speculation around a potential buyout. Songza uses information about the user and context to determine the best playlists for you at any given time, all of which are curated by music experts (DJs, Rolling Stone writers, etc.). According to Google, Songza will remain intact for users and nothing will change about the service for now, though Songza’s expertise will be applied to other products like Google Play Music and YouTube. However, Google is not commenting on the employment situation with regards to all current Songza employees.

Oracle selling $10 billion in bonds, giving hint to buying spree – Oracle is selling US$10 billion in bonds, in a move that could signal the vendor is planning to ramp up its already steady pace of acquisitions. The proceeds of the bond sale will be used for stock repurchases, payment of cash dividends, debt repayment and future acquisitions, including the pending $5.3 billion deal for Micros Systems, Oracle said in a statement Tuesday. It’s the second-largest dollar-denominated bond sale this year, after Apple’s $12 billion bond sale in April, according to Bloomberg.

HP reaches agreement in shareholder suits over Autonomy acquisition – Hewlett-Packard has reached agreement in three shareholder lawsuits arising from its over US$10 billion acquisition of Autonomy. Under the terms of the agreement, the shareholders and their lawyers will assist HP in bringing claims against Michael Lynch, Autonomy’s former chief executive officer, Shushovan Hussain, Autonomy’s former chief financial officer, and potentially others, HP said late Monday.

Amazon sues former worker for jumping ship to Google – In the Seattle King County Superior Court late last week, Amazon filed a lawsuit against former employee Zoltan Szabadi. The reason? He jumped shipped to take roost over at Google, violating a non-compete he signed when taking up his original position with Amazon. This isn’t the first time Amazon has gone after former workers.

Aereo calls for #ProtectMyAntenna protest – Aereo may have faced a huge set-back in the US Supreme Court and been forced to shut down services over the weekend, but the TV-challenging upstart isn’t taking it lying down, turning to users to form a citizen campaign to try to rescue the technology. In a message to customers today, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia laid out the next stage of his plan to save cloud-based antennas, though it won’t be an easy journey.

Tinder’s co-founder is suspended after sexual harassment lawsuit – Justin Mateen, co-founder of the popular dating app, is removed from his job after allegations he condoned sexual harassment by other top brass. (Just the latest in a series of sexual harassment lawsuits launched against high profile tech leaders. Seeems as if these “men” can’t get it up without degrading and humiliating female co-workers and employees.)

Games and Entertainment:

iOS Hit 99 Bricks Wizard Academy Comes to Android as a Completely Free Game – With a name like 99 Bricks Wizard Academy, you know you’re in for something at least a little interesting. This game has just made its way to Android after a successful run on iOS. It’s the same basic game (with wizards and everything) except for one notable change–the Android version is completely free with no in-app purchases.

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Advanced Warfare making-of video shows top-dollar development – Behind the scenes videos with the folks creating the Call of Duty series are always interesting to behold, even if you’re not a player of the games themselves. This is because Activision, and now SledgeHammer Games, are all about showing as much as they possibly can before a game release. In this case, this means seeing actors being captured in as much detail as possible – body and face included.

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Disney Launches Hit Japanese Puzzle App Globally – Disney on Tuesday announced it has teamed up with Japanese messaging app publisher Line to bring the mobile sensation Line: Disney Tsum Tsum to iPhone and Android devices in the U.S. and 39 other regions worldwide. The free game, which translates to “Disney Stack Stack,” has already surpassed 14 million downloads in Japan alone, catapulting it to the No. 1 free app spot on both iOS and Android in the country.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Facebook Mood Study: The Facts – Earlier this month it was made apparent that a study was conducted on Facebook users by the Facebook, Inc. Core Data Science Team. A total of 689,003 Facebook users were “exposed to emotional expressions in their News Feed” according to the study, testing whether “emotional contagion” is able to occur without direct interaction between people. Turns out it is, indeed possible to change people’s emotions without nonverbal cues.

‘Happiness blanket’ monitors airline passengers’ moods – First-class flyers on British Airways test out a mood blanket that tells everyone around them if they’re feeling chilled-out or horribly anxious.

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Clever Oculus Project Lets You Live Your Life In Third Person – Ever wished you could tap the “Change Camera View” button in real life to switch to a third-person view? These guys made it happen. Sure, it requires the user to wear an Oculus Rift and a big ol’ dual camera rig built into a backpack — and sure, it’s probably only fun (and not nauseating) for about a minute. But it works!

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How Surface Pro + Xbox One helped a paralysed man to do more – Some of us take it for granted, but technology can genuinely help to improve quality of life. For one man, paralysed from the neck down, a Surface Pro and Xbox One have given him the freedom to more.

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Irish Bar Only Accepting Applications Via Snapchat – Anyone looking for work can tell you that the application process at some companies can be tedious, to say the least. But a new bar in Ireland is making the process a lot more fun and easy, thanks to Snapchat. It might seem unorthodox, but the plan is actually working. Cantillon has already received more than 2,000 applications via Snapchat — a huge increase from the 50 to 100 paper applications he typically receives for open positions, according to the report.

Moving Abroad: Tips for a Painless Tech Transition – Nothing gives you a swifter kick in the arse to grow up than moving abroad. Life at home was cozy. I was no more than three hours’ time difference from loved ones, mobile service providers offered unlimited data plans, and using the word “pants” didn’t lead to embarrassment. But I gave all that up when I decided to move to Scotland just four months ago. With the generous support of PCMag behind me, I packed four suitcases and jetted off on three airplanes, to finally land two days later—3,250 miles away—in Edinburgh.

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Americans Are Lost Without Their Smartphones – You probably check your smartphone numerous times a day, right? Between Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest and email, there’s so much to keep up with. Heck, chances are you’re beloved phone is somewhere within eyeshot at this very moment. But just how dependent are Americans on their phones?

Something to think about:

“While I’m on my soapbox, we should be really mad at Google and Facebook and Microsoft, because they’re doing a very interesting, and I think, very dangerous thing. They’ve decided to come out and say “we oppose this new FISA bill, because it doesn’t go far enough.” And when you peel that onion back a bit and say “Why are you doing this? This is a good bill, it’s safe, it’s bi-partisan, it’s rational. It meets all the requirements for 4th Amendment protections and privacy protection and allowing the system to work.”

And they say, “Well, we have to do this because we’re trying to make sure we don’t lose our European business.” I don’t know about the rest of you but that offends me from the words “European business.” Think about what they’re doing. They’re willing to, in their mind, justify the importance of their next quarter’s earnings in Europe versus the national security of the United States. Everybody on those boards should be embarrassed and their CEOs should be embarrassed and their stockholders should be embarrassed. That one quarter cannot be worth the national security of the United States for the next ten generations.”

-   U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers

Today’s Free Downloads:

MediaPortal – Media Portal turns your PC in a very advanced Multi MediaCenter – It allows you to listen to your favorite music & radio, watch your video’s and DVD’s, view, schedule and record live TV and much more. You get Media Portal for free/nothing/nada/noppes and best of all it is opensource. This means anyone can help developing Media Portal or tweak it for their own needs!

Features:

Record, watch, and timeshift Live TV

Support for multiple tuners

Timeshifting, Watch, Pause, Rewind,FF,RW Live TV

Video Recording

Advanced TV Guide based on XMLTV

Scheduler to manage all your recording schedules

Listen to your favorite radio stations (local radio stations using the FM tuner of your capture card)

All music gets stored in Media Portals music database

View your music by artists, albums, genres, top100 or plain songs

Watch your pictures/photos

Play any movie your PC has a codec for (divx, mpeg, matroska,…)

All your movies will be stored in Media Portals video database

Show the latest weather information (Temperature and 3-day forecast)

And a LOT more….

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Shotcut - Shotcut is a free, open source, cross-platform video editor.

Features:

supports oodles of audio and video formats and codecs thanks to FFmpeg (or libav as-built)

supports many image formats such as BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, SVG, TGA, TIFF as well as image sequences

no import required – native editing

frame-accurate seeking for many formats

multi-format timeline: mix and match resolutions and frame rates within a project

screen capture (Linux only) including background capture to capture a Shotcut session

webcam capture (Linux only)

audio capture (Linux only; PulseAudio, JACK, or ALSA)

network stream playback (HTTP, HLS, RTMP, RTSP, MMS, UDP)

frei0r video generator plugins (e.g. color bars and plasma)

Blackmagic Design SDI and HDMI for input and preview monitoring

JACK transport sync

deinterlacing

detailed media properties panel

recent files panel

drag-n-drop files from file manager

save and load trimmed clip as MLT XML file

load and play complex MLT XML file as a clip

audio signal level meter

volume control

scrubbing and transport control

flexible UI through dock-able panels

encode/transcode to a variety of formats and codecs thanks to FFmpeg (or libav as-built)

capture (record) SDI, HDMI, webcam (V4L2), JACK, PulseAudio, IP streams, X11 screen

stream (encode to IP) files and any capture source

batch encoding with job control

create, play, edit, save, load, encode, and stream MLT XML playlists

unlimited undo and redo for playlist edits including a history view

connect to Melted servers over MVCP TCP protocol

control the transport playback of Melted units

edit Melted playlists including suport for undo/redo

OpenGL GPU-based image processing

multi-core parallel image processing when not using GPU (and frame-dropping is disabled)

video filters: Blur, Color Grading, Crop, Glow, Mirror, Saturation, Sharpen

3-way (shadows, mids, highlights) color wheels for color correction and grading

eye dropper tool to pick neutral color for white balancing

translated to Spanish, French, Czech, and German

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Win Toolkit – Win Toolkit is a lightweight and easy to use application that was created in order to help you customize your Windows installation!

With this tool you can integrate Addons, Drivers, Gadgets, Language packs, Modified Files, Theme Packs, Tweaks, Silent Installers, Updates. You can also remove features such as Windows Media Player and customize Windows default services state. Win Toolkit also comes with extra tools which helps you convert files, make ISOs, download the latest updates (thanks to SoLoR and McRip), and completely customize your images to tailor your Windows installation disk to your exact needs.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft Bolsters Encryption For OneDrive And Outlook.com – Microsoft announced this morning that it has bolstered the security of several of its digital products, bringing stronger encryption tools to its OneDrive and Outlook.com services.

In the wake of revelations that the United States government was tapping the core fiber cables of the Internet, snooping on traffic between the data centers of large technology companies, and working to weaken encryption, a loose, industry wide effort has been undertaken to build digital dikes to keep prying eyes out of customer data.

As we’ve noted, this is an interesting moment when user well-being and the profit motive of corporations find common cause: Less government, more privacy. (The cause-effect pull here is mildly tautological, but let’s move on.)

According to a blog post that it released this morning, Microsoft has added Transport Layer Security encryption to Outlook.com, allowing email sent by users of the service to remain encrypted while in transit. Microsoft cited several email providers, including Yandex and Mail.Ru as partners in the effort — the receiving email service must support Transport Layer Security encryption or it doesn’t work.

Outlook.com, along with OneDrive also now both sport Perfect Forward Secrecy encryption.

Google, Yahoo, and others have also made strides to tighten their security. Yahoo encrypted information moving between its data centers, and promised an encrypted version of its messaging product. Google has made similar efforts.

Legal loopholes could allow wider NSA surveillance, researchers say – Secret loopholes exist that could allow the National Security Agency to bypass Fourth Amendment protections to conduct massive domestic surveillance on U.S. citizens, according to leading academics.

The research paper released Monday by researchers at Harvard and Boston University details how the U.S. government could “conduct largely unrestrained surveillance on Americans by collecting their network traffic abroad,” despite constitutional protections against warrantless searches.

One of the paper’s authors, Axel Arnbak of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, told CBS News that U.S. surveillance laws presume Internet traffic is non-American when it is collected from overseas.

“The loopholes in current surveillance laws and today’s Internet technology may leave American communications as vulnerable to surveillance, and as unprotected as the internet traffic of foreigners,” Arnbak said.

Although Americans are afforded constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of their emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data while it’s stored or in-transit on U.S. soil, the researchers note these same protections do not exist when American data leaves the country.

Furthermore, they suggest that Internet traffic can be “deliberately manipulated” to push American data outside of the country. Although the researchers say they “do not intend to speculate” about whether any U.S. intelligence agencies are actually doing this, they say it could provide a loophole for vacuuming up vast amounts of U.S. citizen data for intelligence purposes, thus “circumventing constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans,” they warned.

PayPal freezes out ProtonMail, asks if startup has ‘government permission’ to encrypt email – PayPal has frozen the account of security startup ProtonMail, and has questioned whether the firm is legal — and has “government approval” to encrypt emailed communication.

ProtonMail is a Swiss-based email service that offers full end-to-end encryption for emails. Developed by MIT, Harvard and CERN researchers, the startup is in the midst of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to get the service off the ground, and has so far managed to secure over $285,000 in funding.

The campaign’s ethos is below:

We believe that privacy is a fundamental human right that must be protected at any cost. The advent of the internet has now made all of us more vulnerable to mass surveillance than at any other point in human history. The disappearance of online privacy is a very dangerous trend as in many ways privacy and freedom go hand in hand.

ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption, which means your data is already encrypted by the time it reaches the company’s servers — and so even the creators of the email service cannot read the contents. As the company has no access to these messages, they cannot decrypt them so such data cannot be passed on to third parties. ProtonMail uses servers based in Switzerland that are outside the jurisdiction of the US and EU, and no metadata is saved — in theory, keeping email content safe and users anonymous.

Senators Call On Obama For More Transparency In The Intelligence Community – Senators Al Franken and Dean Heller asked President Barack Obama “to support stronger transparency provisions” in a letter Tuesday. The bipartisan pair urged Obama to endorse their proposed additions to the USA FREEDOM Act that would require the intelligence community to disclose estimates of how many people had their information collected, and how many of those people were Americans.

Currently the FREEDOM Act, which has passed through the House but not the Senate, only requires the government to disclose the number of “targets” implicated in surveillance orders. The government’s definition of target is very vague, as noted in our original coverage of the Director of National Intelligence’s first transparency report.

In short, a “target” can be anything from an individual person to an organization composed of millions of individuals. Therefore we have no idea how many people that actually is. Franken said yesterday the report is a “far cry from the kind of transparency that the American people demand and deserve.”

The letter calls the president to commit to more aggressive reforms to the intelligence community’s programs. The Obama administration in the past has vocally supported an end to the bulk telephony metadata collection program under section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, but has been less specific about its transparency goals. Obama called on the intelligence community to be more transparent in his January speech on reforms to the NSA, but he hasn’t come close to support for disclosing transparency reports that would provide specific information about the numbers of individuals affected by intelligence agency sweeps.

Time to trade privacy for safety, says NSW Police Commissioner – NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says Australians will have to sacrifice some of their privacy expectations in order to stay safe from terrorist attacks and criminal activity.

Mr Scipione made the comments at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event in Sydney. He was responding to a Fairfax Media question about how data retention laws championed by Australian authorities would affect goodwill towards police in the community.

Data retention laws would require internet service providers and telcos to collect and store information about their customers’ internet habits in order to help identify potential security risks.

Mr Scipione said it was perplexing that, as consumers, people were prepared to sacrifice their privacy in order to receive discounts and better deals but not for the sake of their safety.

”At what stage does the community say, ‘we’re prepared to give up some of our privacy in order to remain secure’?,” he said.

Mr Scipione has been one of the most vocal of Australia’s police commissioners pursuing the laws, which would also require carriers to collect information to identify who is involved in communications on their networks, including their location and the time they make them, but not the content of those communications.

They would be required to keep the information to be made available for interception warrants for at least two years. (recommended by Mal C.)

EFF sues NSA over snoops ‘hoarding’ zero-day security bugs – Intelligence agencies are among the most prolific buyers of zero-day computer security flaws that can be used to spy on enemies foreign and domestic, or so it’s claimed – and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched a lawsuit to find out what exactly they are doing with them.

“Since these vulnerabilities potentially affect the security of users all over the world, the public has a strong interest in knowing how these agencies are weighing the risks and benefits of using zero days instead of disclosing them to vendors,” said EFF global policy analyst Eva Galperin.

The foundation’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit names the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and was inspired by the discovery of the Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL – which the NSA has denied it knew about beforehand, even though reports suggest otherwise.

After the password-leaking Heartbleed bug emerged, the White House cyber-security coordinator Michael Daniel wrote that the US government wasn’t hoarding vast amounts of zero-day security flaws – so-called because there are no software patches to fix them at present time – to use for espionage purposes.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 1, 2014

FBI, CIA Join NSA In “Backdoor” Searches On Americans;  Two Senators Upbraid The Intelligence Community For Insufficient Disclosure;  10 critical security habits you should be doing (but aren’t);  Court Allowed NSA To Spy On All But 4 Countries;  Apple ships security fixes for iOS, OS X, Safari … basically EVERYTHING;  Download and simulate Android TV now;  Don’t let storage ruin your vacation;  Windows 8 update brings back the desktop;  Five apps that give back for Android, iOS;  Active malware operation let attackers sabotage US energy industry;  Maximize your Wi-Fi;  10 Free iPhone Apps Everyone Should Download;  4 password mistakes small companies make and how to avoid them.

Secret loopholes drive NSA’s ‘unrestrained surveillance’ on Americans – Thanks to a three-decade-old executive order, researchers say, Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless domestic surveillance may not be as strong as first thought. Secret loopholes exist that allow the National Security Agency to bypass Fourth Amendment protections to conduct massive domestic surveillance on US citizens, according to leading legal academics. A research paper released Monday by academics at Harvard University and Boston University details how the US government can “conduct largely unrestrained surveillance on Americans by collecting their network traffic abroad,” despite constitutional protections against warrantless searches.

10 critical security habits you should be doing (but aren’t) – Good news: There’s a lot that regular PC users can do to protect themselves against the worst of the worst. But bad news: Most of us don’t bother. Giving your digital life a thorough security overhaul is easier than you’d think. Here are 10 critical security measures you should be doing right now—go ahead, do it!

4 password mistakes small companies make and how to avoid them – When it comes to IT security very small businesses and micro-enterprises are in a tight spot. We’ve compiled a list of four common password mistakes – if you can avoid them then you’ll have put your security on a stronger footing.

First Windows, now Office is being banned by China’s government – China is not a friendly region for Microsoft at the moment and the country is now starting to ban the use of Office 365 inside some organizations which follows a ban on Windows 8 too.

Windows 8 update brings back the desktop – There’s a new Windows 8 update coming your way this year which is said to bring a real return back to a more “classic” desktop environment. With Windows 8, the launch of the “Modern UI” was made ready for touch screens, appearing to many to ditch the original work environment. Microsoft has clearly seen the light and felt the complaints of workers around the world – Threshold will alleviate. This update will be device-specific, of course, launching features as defaults depending on what sort of machine you’re working with. Tablets will retain the Modern UI while desktop machines will have the option of keeping the Modern UI to a minimum.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows Threshold: The modern UI takes a backseat for desktop users – Microsoft is working on its next major Windows update, Threshold, and we have some new details about the direction that the company is taking with its next major update to the OS. It’s important to note that we are still in the early stages of Threshold and that anything and everything is subject to change. But from what we have been able to gather, Microsoft is once again listening to all the complaints that said ‘let me turn off the Modern UI’.

Maximize your Wi-Fi – If you’re dealing with slow connection speeds or frequent drop-outs, your router is likely the root of the problem. So to help you dial in the best settings for your Wi-Fi router, Eric Franklin will tell you how to access your router settings and what changes will make an impact.

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Download and simulate Android TV now – This week Google has activated the SDK (Software Development Kit) for Android TV for developers. While you’ll likely be a developer wanting to activate this build, anyone can choose to take a peek at Android TV at their leisure, developer or not.

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Don’t let storage ruin your vacation – I did an awesome drive on the trans-Canada highway from Calgary to Vancouver Canada, and I was awed by the natural beauty there. I took hundreds of pictures and videos using my trusty smartphone. As I was in the middle of capturing my walk along a beautiful trail leading to a spectacular waterfall, the camera app suddenly stopped. I found that I had run out of storage.

Google Glass faces country-wide cinema ban in UK – Did you buy Google Glass? If you did, and live in the UK, you’ll have to shelve it should you want to visit the cinema. A newly placed ban on the heads-up wearable means that nearly 4,000 screens in 750 theatres across the UK won’t take to your Glass-wearing ways. The ban comes days after Google released their wearable for users across the pond.

Yik Yak, the Hyperlocal Gossip App, Raises $10M and Unsettling Questions – Yik Yak, a hyperlocal gossip-sharing app, has received $10 million in venture capital to help spread the gossip at college campuses across the globe. Yik Yak allows users to anonymously post messages to a local “bulletin board,” which is visible to anyone within a 1.5 mile radius of the sender. But the app has also sent rumor mills spinning dangerously out of control. One Connecticut high school temporarily suspended classes as Yik Yak’s local message board was flooded with venomous posts. “Nobody is taking H. to prom because nobody has a forklift,” read one such message, according to a student’s personal account in New York Magazine. Two schools in Chicago have sent letters urging parents to stop their children from downloading the app.

Forget.me Puts Out Early Data On What Europeans Want To Vanish From Google – An online service called Forget.me, launched last week to quickly capitalize on a European court ruling from late May that requires Google to process requests by private individuals to de-index outdated or irrelevant personal information, has put out some early data on the kind of requests individual Europeans are submitting via its (for now) free service.

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Mood experiment helps Facebook innovate a new way to creep-out users – Facebook exceeding expectations once again — has managed the impossible — discovering how to creep-out: clowns, possessed toys, and that person you know that never blinks — all at the same time. How? The social media company recently allowed a team of psychology researchers to validate a theory that happy and sad emotions can spread like a contagion on social networks.

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GoCam extends selfies beyond the length of your arm – Love them or hate them, selfies seem to be very popular with the majority of people who own a smartphone. However, selfies are limited by the fact you typically have to hold the phone in order to capture one. Swedish start-up Crunchfish has decided to solve this problem by removing the need to hold your camera when capturing a selfie. It has achieved this by introducing hand gesture recognition as can be seen in the video below.

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BlackBerry Passport leaked pics prove it’s an odd duck – It seems that BlackBerry is really serious about its Passport smartphone, which might call into question the company’s sanity. But whether you are enamored or shocked by the revelation of the device, the large smartphone with a square display is real and has been spotted out in the wild thanks to these leaked photos and one video.

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Reading Rainbow Has More Backers Than Any Kickstarter Campaign Ever – Ever since Reading Rainbow went off the air in 2006, LeVar Burton has been working to bring it back. In 2012, he launched a tablet app program, and just recently, he launched a Kickstarter campaign asking for $1 million to develop Reading Rainbow programming across all platforms, which will be provided to classrooms for free. The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign now has nearly $5 million in funding and has become the most backed Kickstarter campaign ever, with more than 91,000 backers.

10 Free iPhone Apps Everyone Should Download – It wasn’t easy. But after much deliberation, I narrowed the apps I use every day down to a list of 10 that spans multiple genres, from GPS navigation to fitness tracking. Take a look at my faves, and if you’d like, use the comments section to tell us all your favorite free apps that I might have missed.

Five apps that give back for Android, iOS – Apps can be fun, but they can also serve another purpose. In going about our daily lives, we often turn to apps on our smartphones and tablets to assist us. What if those apps did more than just help us out? Here are five that aim to give back, and all you have to do is use them.

Quickoffice closing down, replaced by Google Drive – The latest updates to Google Drive’s document editing features might have been a welcome announcement, but for Quickoffice, it was practically the writing on the wall. Now Google is formally putting a timer on the mobile office suite’s life, giving users of the app a few weeks notice before it finally takes down the app from Google Play Store.

Google launches ‘cookie choices’ site to let Europeans know how they’re being tracked – With code, publishers can incorporate data notifications into their sites. But who’s doing what? Google aims to let you know.

Security:

New malware program hooks into networking APIs to steal banking data – There is yet another reason to be wary of spam email about bank transfers or invoices—it could be carrying a new, cleverly designed malware program that steals financial information. The new threat has been named Emotet by security researchers from antivirus vendor Trend Micro, who recently analyzed variants targeting the customers of several German banks. The malware is distributed via malicious links in spam email messages that masquerade as bank transfer notifications or invoices.

Active malware operation let attackers sabotage US energy industry – Researchers have uncovered a malware campaign that gave attackers the ability to sabotage the operations of energy grid owners, electricity generation firms, petroleum pipelines, and industrial equipment providers. Called Dragonfly, the hacking group managed to install one of two remote access trojans (RATs) on computers belonging to energy companies located in the US and at least six European countries, according to a research report published Monday by Symantec.

Apple ships security fixes for iOS, OS X, Safari … basically EVERYTHING – Apple on Monday shipped new versions of its operating systems, its web browser, and Apple TV firmware – with each update a minor release aimed at fixing bugs and closing security vulnerabilities. The latest release of OS X Mavericks, version 10.9.4, addresses a total of 19 vulnerabilities in a variety of OS subsystems, ranging from graphics and Thunderbolt drivers to the Dock.

Millions of dynamic DNS users suffer after Microsoft seizes No-IP domains – Millions of legitimate servers that rely on dynamic domain name services from No-IP.com suffered outages on Monday after Microsoft seized 22 domain names it said were being abused in malware-related crimes against Windows users. Almost immediately, end-users, some of which were actively involved in Internet security, castigated the move as heavy handed, since there was no evidence No-IP officially sanctioned or actively facilitated the malware campaign, which went by the names Bladabindi (aka NJrat) and Jenxcus (aka NJw0rm).

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Blackphone, the Android handset focused on privacy, begins shipping to buyers – The Blackphone – a device with a customized version of Android 4.4 that offers “unparalleled” privacy and claims to keep users “off the grid” – is now shipping to buyers that pre-ordered it for $629.

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Microsoft stops Patch Tuesday emails, blames Canada, then does U-turn – The decree mentions “changing governmental policies concerning the issuance of automated electronic messaging” – a head-scratcher that Microsoft spokespeople subsequently clarified by pointing to a new Canadian anti-spam law that takes effect today.

Company News:

Google Will Shut Down Its Orkut Social Network In September – Orkut, the social networking service Google launched back in 2004, miraculously survived multiple rounds of spring cleaning despite the fact that it was never a huge hit outside of Brazil, India and a few other countries. It was always just a matter of time before Google was going to shut it down, however, and that day has now come.

Twitter to acquire mobile advertising company TapCommerce – Twitter said Monday it has agreed to acquire TapCommerce a mobile advertising company focused on re-engaging people who have downloaded advertisers’ apps. The financial terms of the proposed acquisition of the New York startup were not disclosed. Some reports, however, said Twitter is paying about US$100 million for the company.

Samsung admits its Chinese factories STILL ‘unsafe’, violate laws – Samsung has admitted that its Chinese suppliers are still guilty of legal and safety violations, despite its repeated promises to clean up its factories. In its annual sustainability report, the firm said that this year’s audits had found a number of instances of poor working conditions for people at 100 of its suppliers. The company didn’t find any child labourers at its factories, but it did find that minors were working with chemical handling processes at 48 of its suppliers.

Supreme Court declines to intervene in Street View wiretapping scandal – The Supreme Court declined Google’s invitation to review a lower court’s conclusion that the media giant could be held liable for hijacking data on unencrypted Wi-Fi routers via its Street View cars. The legal flap the justices refused (PDF) to weigh into Monday should concern anybody who uses open Wi-Fi connections in public places like coffee houses and restaurants. That’s because Google claims (PDF) it is legal to intercept data from Wi-Fi signals that are not password protected.

Hewlett-Packard close to settling shareholder lawsuit over Autonomy – Hewlett-Packard is in “serious” talks about settling a lawsuit brought by shareholders over its troubled acquisition of infrastructure software vendor Autonomy. In October 2011, HP spent more than US$10 billion to acquire Autonomy, which develops software for searching and managing information. But after discovering what it called serious accounting irregularities, HP wrote off $8.8 billion of the purchase price.

Games and Entertainment:

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor beta goes live – The player base for World of Warcraft may never top 12 million players again, but declining subscriber numbers hasn’t deterred Blizzard from releasing new content for its MMO. The next expansion is set to arrive this fall in the form of the Warlords of Draenor, and the beta test for it went live over the weekend.

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Yahoo secures streaming rights to sixth season of Community – No date has yet been attached to Community’s sixth season premiere; the report is so preliminary, in fact, that longtime executive producer Chris McKenna has yet to ink a contract for the season. Still, the move sees Yahoo moving far beyond its small-scale video-streaming efforts of years past, which were mostly notable for securing the streaming rights to Saturday Night Live’s archives. Yahoo may hope to tie Community’s debut close to the launch of its two other impending original TV series—Other Space, produced by Freaks & Geeks co-creator Paul Feig, and Sin City Saints, created by CW veteran Mike Tollin—set to debut by the end of 2015.

Thousands of Steam codes revoked after digital theft – A wave of thefts has occurred with the game Sniper Elite 3, one that’s prompted Steam to revoke a whopping 7,050 game keys. Having been stolen earlier this year through an unnamed game distributor, Sniper Elite 3 was then sent off to multiple reputable gaming sales sites. Unbeknownst to thousands of purchasers therein, the game has had all access cut off.

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The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – PCMag doesn’t condone illegal movie streaming or downloading, but we do see the value in keeping an eye on what’s happening in the pirated movie space. Tracking illegal streams and downloads is one of the best ways to get an insight into what’s trending online and in pop culture as a whole.Now, let’s talk about stolen movies!

Off Topic (Sort of):

Google “arrogant” self-driving car plans turn off automakers – Google may be bringing self-driving cars to the public, but its “pod-car” trial is likely to remain small-scale sources claim amid ongoing tensions with traditional auto makers. Legal concerns insufficiently placated by Google’s own promises to take responsibility for self-driving accidents, along with accusations of arrogance on the part of the search giant have left negotiations cold.

Man escapes death by rock by mere inches during building implosion – The fact we all carry camera-equipped smartphones in our pockets means it’s much easier to record anything even remotely interesting. And sometimes those recordings reveal how lucky people can be, such as this man who escaped death, or at the very least serious injury by inches, while recording a building implosion.

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Students create an inexpensive VR headset, similar to Google Cardboard, that predates it by a week – A group of high school students are making waves with their VR headset that resembles Google Cardboard, but predates it by over a week. The headset is made with household items and a mobile phone.

Boston Rolling Out Smart Charging Benches – The high-tech benches will be deployed in the next week in green spaces around the city, including Titus Sparrow Park, Boston Common, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. They are also being tested at Babson College and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Developed by Changing Environments, a spin-off of the MIT Media Labs, the Soofa is a solar-powered outdoor charging station, which debuted during last week’s White House Maker Faire.

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Staunch opponent of reform tapped to head US Patent Office – A top pharmaceutical industry lawyer is set to be installed as the next head of the US Patent and Trademark Office. The Obama Administration intends to nominate Philip Johnson, the head of intellectual property at Johnson & Johnson, to be the next director of the US Patent and Trademark Office. The selection is a setback for the tech sector and a seeming 180-degree turn on the patent issue for the Obama administration, which was pushing Congress to pass patent litigation reform just months ago.

20 Jobs Likely to Be Replaced by Robots (and 20 That Are Safe) – Consider that six years after the great global financial train wreck, the United States is still saddled with a sluggish job market which has yet to really kick back into pre-recession gear. Is it possible that technology—specifically A.I. and robotics—has replaced so many jobs so quickly that we have lurched over some tipping point? Some are starting to wonder if this is indeed the case.

Something to think about:

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”

-    Samuel Johnson

Today’s Free Downloads:

Surf Anonymous Free – Surf Anonymous Free is the most advanced and reliable software for Internet users who want to ensure that their sessions and all online activities are secure and private. For instance, it is used to protect your sensitive data such as bank account information, private photos from being stolen and pried, or visit those websites, blogs and forums that once blocked you.

Features:

Keep Your Internet Activities Safe and Private

Via our anonymous proxy servers, you are hardly traced or monitored by hackers when browsing websites. Therefore, all your online activities can be protected against others’ prying.

Help You Browse Web Anonymously

Surf Anonymous Free ensures you to send anonymous email or post on bulletin boards without displaying your real IP address.

Guard Your Wireless Connection

Via Surf Anonymous Free, your wireless Internet surfing is protected by establishing a secure tunnel, which could encrypt all your browser traffic so it can not be intercepted and read.

Protect You From Cybercrime

No trail of activity can be used to track back to your computer by cybercriminals since you are spoofing with a fake IP address. From now on, you are totally free of identity theft, credit card fraud and other crimes.

Excellent Compatibility

Surf Anonymous Free supports Internet Explorer, Firefox, Maxthon, MyIE browsers, Opera, etc.

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Risen3D – Risen3D is an advanced Doom port by Graham Jackson based on Jaakko Keranen’s Doomsday port.

Features:

Advanced algorithms provide more accurate rendering in OpenGL.

Full Boom and MBF compatibility.

Super fast rendering of OpenGL graphics.

Slopes and 3D floors.

Md2 models, particle effects and high resolution texture options.

Skybox support.

Translucent water and underwater effects.

Outside fog support for maps that require it.

Model activation capability using the R3D scripting method.

Mobj spawning using the R3D scripting method

Detailed texture support.

Dedicated smart Launcher for easy launching and pwad management.

Uncapped frame rate for smoother game play.

Definition and dehacked editing capabilities.

Basic Doom mode option

Water splashes, ambient sounds, scrolling skies and stealth monsters.

In game texture alignment using the R3D Edit mode.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI, CIA Join NSA In “Backdoor” Searches On Americans – Thousands of Americans were targets of so-called “backdoor” warrantless surveillance by the NSA and other intelligence agencies last year, according to a letter sent to Senator Ron Wyden.

The missive, written by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to the Senator in response to a question posed earlier this month, is plainspoken. The Office also stated that the searches in question are not based on an exploited legal “loophole.”

The House recently voted to curtail such searches by defunding them.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the government to collect information on foreign targets that are, to use its own language, “reasonably believed to be outside of the U.S. at the time of collection.” It can’t target United States persons by law, and it isn’t allowed to reverse-target — picking a foreign target with the hopes of picking up the communications of someone thought to be in the United States.

The information collected under Section 702 authority may include the communications of Americans picked up in the process of collecting data on foreign targets. The stored information can then be queried by the NSA, and its intelligence brethren, using search terms to find the communications of Americans. Hence the term “backdoor.”

How many Americans are caught up in the mix? According to the letter, the NSA used such queries to search the communications content of 198 U.S. persons in 2013. It also made around 9,500 metadata queries for the communications of U.S. persons in the period. The number of people impacted by the meta-data searches isn’t clear.

Two Senators Upbraid The Intelligence Community For Insufficient Disclosure – Consider Senators Al Franken and Dean Heller unimpressed.

Today the two Senators, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, released statements disparaging a recent transparency report from the U.S. intelligence community that broke down its activities in incredibly vague fashion.

The view of Senator Heller, that the report is progress, but not nearly enough, is roughly what I’m hearing from the private sector, as well. Here’s the Senator himself:

The report released by the Administration represents some progress, but it does not do near enough to provide Americans with adequate information. The American people deserve greater transparency and American companies should be able to disclose more information when it comes to privacy rights and the federal government’s surveillance activities.

His statement goes on to indicate support for the Surveillance Transparency Act (STA) of 2013, which he and Senator Franken introduced.

Senator Franken had similar comments, saying that the report is a “far cry from the kind of transparency that the American people demand and deserve.” The senator continues, stating that the report “still leaves Americans in the dark,” and that it “doesn’t tell the American people enough about what information is being gathered about them and how it’s being used.”

Court Allowed NSA To Spy On All But 4 Countries – A court permitted the NSA to collect information about governments in 193 countries and foreign institutions like the World Bank, according to a secret document the Washington Post published Monday.

The certification issued by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2010 shows the NSA has the authority to “intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets, but any communications about its targets as well,” according to the Post’s report. Only four countries in the world — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — were exempt from the agreement, due to existing no-spying agreements that the Post highlights in this document about the group of countries, known as “Five Eyes” with the U.S.

The secret certification from 2010 was part of a trove of documents that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked to reporters at The Washington Post and The Guardian last year. In addition to permitting the NSA to collect information about most countries, it also authorizes the NSA to target institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The documents reveal the NSA had even more free rein when it came to surveilling foreign individuals than was previously known, raising major concerns about the privacy implications this program could have, even for Americans domestically.

Remaining Snowden docs will be released to avert ‘unspecified US war’ – All the remaining Snowden documents will be released next month, according to whistle-blowing site Cryptome, which said in a tweet that the release of the info by unnamed third parties would be necessary to head off an unnamed “war”.

Cryptome said it would “aid and abet” the release of “57K to 1.7M” new documents that had been “withheld for national security-public debate [sic]“.

The site clarified that will not be publishing the documents itself.

Transparency activists would welcome such a release but such a move would be heavily criticised by inteligence agencies and military officials, who argue that Snowden’s dump of secret documents has set US and allied (especially British) intelligence efforts back by years.

NSA flip-flops on Snowden leaks, from hyperbolic to “measured” response – The new National Security Agency director has quite a different take on the national security fallout from the leaks of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Adm. Michael Rogers, with just three months on the job, said he has seen terrorist groups “make changes,” but “you have not heard me as the director say, ‘Oh my God, the sky is falling.’ I am trying to be very specific and very measured in my characterizations.”

Rogers’ comments Sunday in The New York Times couldn’t be any more different from those uttered by former NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander. Alexander had said the leaks jeopardized the US and its allies, causing “the greatest damage to our combined nations’ intelligence systems that we have ever suffered.”

Rogers’ statements come as Alexander finds himself in the hot seat for moving to financially capitalize on those leaks. Under IronNet Cybersecurity, his new consulting venture, Alexander has been seeking as much as $1 million in monthly fees from the banking industry. “It would be devastating,” he said, “if one of our banks was hit, because they’re so interconnected.”

At least one lawmaker, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) suggested that the only way Alexander can provide such costly services is if he “discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods.”

Europe backs Microsoft fight over US warrant for Irish email – Microsoft’s fight against a US search warrant involving email hosted in its Irish datacentre has gained the support of EU vice president Viviane Reding, who believes the warrant may be in breach of international law.

In a response to questions from Dutch MEP Sophia in’t Veld, Reding said the warrant served to Microsoft “bypasses existing formal procedures that are agreed between the EU and the US, such as the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement”.

Microsoft is arguing for the US government to turn to these avenues for data stored outside the US, comparing the warrant to the US government “breaking down the doors” to its Irish datacentre. It’s says the warrant extends US authority outside its own jurisdiction, which Reding agrees with.

“The Commission’s concern is that the extraterritorial application of foreign laws (and orders to companies based thereon) may be in breach of international law and may impede the attainment of the protection of individuals guaranteed in the Union,” she said.

Reding’s statement echoes arguments laid out by Apple, Cisco, AT&T, and Verizon in support of Microsoft’s District Court bid to quash the warrant which, if successful, could set new boundaries for US law-enforcement investigation powers in the context of cloud computing.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 30, 2014

The top 10 Windows 8 questions everyone asks; Surprise!  NSA’s first ever ‘transparency’ ‘report’ is anything but;  What to look for in your new PC;  Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Calls Supreme Court Cellphone-Warrant Case “Seminal”;  Take control of the Command Prompt with PromptPal;  Microsoft puts an end to ‘Patch Tuesday’ email alerts;  How to reinstall Windows like a pro;  Serious Android crypto key theft vulnerability affects 86% of devices;  Comcast XFINITY WiFi: Just say no;  CNBC Chats Tim Cook’s Sexuality, Gets Super Awkward;  You’ll want to avoid this Steam Sale malware scam;  PlayStation Plus free games rundown hits July;  Facebook manipulated 700,000 user posts for research paper;  VCs Don’t Think We’re In A Tech Bubble — Yet;  Immunet FREE Antivirus.

Surprise! NSA’s first ever ‘transparency’ ‘report’ is anything but: Spies do spying … and dictionary rewriting, too – The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has published the NSA’s first “transparency report”, revealing the number of “targets” spied on by the agency. Its definition of the word transparency, however, makes the data somewhat hard to fathom. “Within the Intelligence Community, the term ‘target’ has multiple meanings,” the report [PDF], published today, notes.

Airship flies above NSA data center, decries “Illegal Spying Below” – Greenpeace flew its 135-foot-long thermal airship over the National Security Agency’s Utah data center on Friday morning, featuring a new slogan, “Illegal Spying Below,” painted on a downward pointing arrow. The stunt was meant to highlight the diversity of groups pushing against the widespread government surveillance that was revealed last year. The environmental group Greenpeace was joined by the Tenth Amendment Center, which pushes for states’ rights, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

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The top 10 Windows 8 questions everyone asks – You’ve finally made the leap to Windows 8 (or, more probably, Windows 8.1), and a pretty big leap it was. Everything looks different. Everything acts differently. Even a simple task like shutting down your PC suddenly becomes a challenge. We know. We’ve lived through Windows 8, too, and we’ve received many, many questions about it. Here are the 10 most common ones we hear about Microsoft’s latest operating system. With these answers under your belt, you can consider yourself well past the beginner stage.

What to look for in your new PC – Time to buy a new PC? If it is, you’re in luck. There’s never been a time with more great choices, whether you’re looking for a computer to run the most demanding applications, play the coolest games, or fly coast to coast without a recharge. But picking the right PC can be a daunting task — and that’s why we’re here to help.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Diagnose battery drain on your tablet with Windows 8.1′s Sleep Study tool – In a detailed blog post on the Windows blog, Microsoft, has provided information about a new tool called Sleep Study useful for diagnosing battery drain when the tablet is put to sleep.

8 ways the password is dying – From smartphones that know you’re near to tattoos and even pills, high-tech companies are busy replacing pesky strings of text with easier ways to authenticate.  Check out the future here.

Take control of the Command Prompt with PromptPal – When it comes to working from a Command Prompt, Greg Shultz says that PromptPal gives you a lot more control and convenience. Take a look at some of his favorite features in PromptPal.

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Mobile Trounces Desktop Media Consumption – Mobile usage is leaving the desktop in the dust, according to new stats from comScore. Smartphones and tablets accounted for 60 percent of total digital media time spent in May—up from 50 percent a year ago. What’s more, mobile app usage has surpassed all other digital media consumption, coming in at a peak 51 percent.

A Brief History of Tiny Cameras Enabling Pervs and Creeps – Technology is a tool. And as with all tools, some people will use it for nefarious, gross, weird, or mean purposes. And so goes the spread of ubiquitous, affordable cameras. Now, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that there is not some coming wave of peeping drones headed our way. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a very real minority undercurrent of creeps who will use technology to serve The Dark Side. Here we present a brief—a very brief—survey of some recent ways that these new technologies have empowered the wrong people.

GE Reveals $15 ‘Link’ Smart LED Light Bulb – Smart home? How about smart light bulbs? GE has revealed a brand-new LED light bulb that can connect to the Web shortly after you’ve twisted it into an available socket. Dubbed the Link, the $15 light bulb will be controllable by a companion appn for iOS and Android — “Wink.”

Microsoft puts an end to ‘Patch Tuesday’ email alerts – While Microsoft does update its various blogs about the patches, one service they did offer was to send out an email alerting those who signed up about the patches. Unfortunately, thanks to a change in government regulation, that practice will be halted on July 1st. Below, you can find a copy of the email that Microsoft began sending out today that let readers know that the emails would be coming to a stop next week.

New MakerBot app lets you design, modify, and print 3D objects from your iPad – The MakerBot PrintShop app might not technically be the first 3D printing app for the iPad, but it’s one specifically designed to make it simple to use with the MakerBot line.

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How to reinstall Windows like a pro – It’s super-easy to reinstall Windows 8, and not much more difficult to reinstall Windows 7. Use these tips to get the most out of a reinstall.

Woman photoshopped to ‘ideal’ beauty of 25 countries – Radio journalist Esther Honig conducted an experiment using Photoshop and international graphic artists to explore cultural differences in concepts of beauty. It all started with a photograph of Honig, a straightforward self-portrait. She isn’t made up. She wasn’t attended to by an army of stylists. It’s just an honest image. Honig then hired 40 different graphic artists in 25 countries to rework the image with the simple instruction, “make me beautiful.” She used freelancing platforms like Fiverr to locate the digital artists and paid between $5 and $30 for each image. She calls the project “Before & After.”

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California governor signs bill legalizing Bitcoin, other digital currencies – California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Saturday that legalizes the use of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, reversing what backers called an outdated prohibition against use of alternative currencies. The bill, dubbed AB 129, ensures that various forms of alternative currencies such as digital currencies, coupons, and points are legal for use to purchase goods and services in the state. The new law repeals a provision in existing state law that prohibits anything but US currency being used for commerce.

How one tweet can land your company in court – Take a cue from the Katherine Heigl, Duane Reade lawsuit and make sure your social media team knows its legal boundaries. Duane Reade might have sent the most expensive tweet in Twitter history. The New York City drug store chain is being sued by actress Katherine Heigl after they posted a picture in March of her coming out of their store, saying “Love a quick #DuaneReade run? Even @KatieHeigl can’t resist shopping #NYC’s favorite drugstore ……… The tweet seems fairly innocent — a light hearted mix of celebrity and self promotion — but Heigl is suing Duane Reade for not so light hearted sum of $6 million.

Security:

Serious Android crypto key theft vulnerability affects 86% of devices – Researchers have warned of a vulnerability present on an estimated 86 percent of Android phones that may allow attackers to obtain highly sensitive credentials, including cryptographic keys for some banking services and virtual private networks, and PINs or patterns used to unlock vulnerable devices.

Comcast XFINITY WiFi: Just say no – About a year ago, Comcast started modifying the routers of some of their customers to create a quasi-public wireless system called XFINITY WiFi intended for use, mainly, by Comcast customers. Home users would see a new Wi-Fi network called “xfinitywifi” alongside their existing private wireless network. Focused on Defensive Computing as I am, XFINITY WiFi seems like a bad idea for Comcast customers, both those offering the free Wi-Fi on their routers and those using the system away from home. If you read this entire article to the end (warning: it’s long), I am sure you will agree.

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Rare text message worm targets Android devices – A rare Android worm that propagates itself to other users via links in text messages has been discovered by security researchers. Once installed on a device, the malware, which was dubbed Selfmite, sends a text messages to 20 contacts from the device owner’s address book. Most malware programs for Android are Trojan apps with no self-propagation mechanisms that get distributed from non-official app stores. Android SMS worms are rare, but Selfmite is the second such threat discovered in the past two months, suggesting that their number might grow in the future.

Company News:

CNBC Chats Tim Cook’s Sexuality, Gets Super Awkward – Is Tim Cook gay? Here’s our stance: Who cares? So long as the CEO keeps churning out interesting and innovative Apple products, he can be whatever he wants to be; in fact, he could be whatever he wants to be regardless (we just like shiny new devices). That doesn’t stop the usual media speculation over Tim Cook’s sexuality, which is as interesting a story as debating whether Jony Ive is getting his hair cut this weekend or not. It’s a non-issue turned into an issue, and it made for the world’s biggest awkward turtle when it as discussed on CNBC this past Friday morning.

Aereo Shutters Its TV Streaming Service… For Now – In an email sent at 9 AM Eastern Saturday, Chet Kanojia informed customers that because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this week , the company would temporarily halt its operations at 11:30 Eastern as it consults with the court to plan its next steps.

BlackBerry: We’re still “a leader in mobile”, despite what everyone else says – BlackBerry has accused its rivals of spreading “fear, uncertainty and doubt” about the company, and says the media have “crowded the airwaves” with “sensationalized reports” about its performance.

Microsoft smartwatch tipped for October with 11 sensors in tow – Microsoft’s rumored smartwatch is the topic of choice this weekend, with unnamed sources cropping up to state that the wearable will arrive this October. The same sources corroborated some past rumors we’ve heard regarding the device, as well as tossing some new details into the mix.

Indie Music Labels File EU Complaint Over YouTube Terms – A European independent music group has filed a formal complaint with the EU against YouTube, citing the video service’s ongoing battle with the indie label community. IMPALA (the Independent Music Companies Association) this week lodged its complaint, which cites what it considers to be five breaches of European competition rules, with the European Commission.

The Nexus line isn’t being killed, says Android’s engineering head – Google’s Nexus line is not dead yet, according to Google’s Android engineering chief. “People have been commenting about Nexus because there is something else and they think that means the end of Nexus. That is the totally wrong conclusion to make,” Google’s Dave Burke told ReadWrite in a recent interview.

Games and Entertainment:

You’ll want to avoid this Steam Sale malware scam – Hackers have decided to take advantage of the massive interested generated by Valve’s Steam Summer Sale this season with some digital phishing. While you’re still free to enjoy the Steam sale for all its worth, there’s a couple of things we’d have you watch out for. You don’t want to get targeted by this particular scam, that’s for certain.

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Xbox Live July Games with Gold: ‘Guacamelee!’, ‘BattleBlock Theater’, and more – Xbox One users will only get one new game in July: ‘Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition’ is available starting on July 1st, and it will replace last month’s offering of ‘Halo: Spartan Assault’. ‘Guacamelee!’ is an action platformer where you play as a “humble agave farmer” turned luchador from Mexico who tries to save the president’s daughter after she is kidnapped by a marauding skeleton horseman. Since only one new game is being offered for Xbox One users, last month’s free game, ‘Max: The Curse of Brotherhood’, is still available for free download until the end of July.

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PlayStation Plus free games rundown hits July – This week the folks at Sony have revealed the games you’ll be able to download and play for free on your various PlayStation devices. For the PlayStation 4 you’ll have TowerFall Ascention and Strider. For PlayStation 3 there’s Dead Space 2 and Vessel. For PS Vita you’ll find Doki-Doki Universe and Muramasa Rebirth.

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GameStop launches trade-in program, paying for your Xbox One Kinect – GameStop has recently announced a trade-in deal for users who wish to drop their Xbox One Kinect for some extra money. The company is offering a $32 pay-out in cash or $40 in-store credit and is reportedly available in all U.S stores. It’s also worth noting that if you’re a PowerUp Rewards Pro member you’ll receive an extra 10 percent credit if you take up the offer.

Gigabyte BRIX Gaming mini PC: as mean as it is green – Gigabyte has rolled out yet another mini computer, this one with a snazzy bright green shell and focus on gamers. The PC, aptly called the BRIX Gaming PC, is square in shape and comes with multiple Intel hardware options, able to meet different needs. The newest BRIX offers an Intel Core i5 (Haswell) processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, which Gigabyte says allows it to be used for both gaming and image/video editing. Later on in August, a version running an Intel Core i7 will also be available. The machine supports up to three displays and 4K.

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Watch this Space Hulk: Deathwing UE4 trailer crush puny graphics – The surprisingly little-known series known as Space Hulk is back with a vengeance, this time taking on the world with Unreal Engine 4. Everything we’ve seen with the UE4 stamp of approval on its back thus far has looked fantastic, and Space Hulk: Deathwing is no exception to the rule.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch This Film About Why Aaron Swartz Matters More Than Ever – Aaron Swartz was a young, bright genius who believed in the open Internet. A self-made millionaire by the age of 19, he co-founded Reddit, was part of the creation of RSS and became a political organizer and Internet hacktivist who was instrumental in the fight against SOPA. The Internet’s Own Boy, a film first released at Sundance and now opening to the public today, follows the story of his life and his tragic suicide in 2013 at the age of 26. Swartz had been in a two-year legal battle for using MIT’s network to systematically download 4.8 million academic journal articles from JSTOR. He was facing $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison. As Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow put it, Swartz was being prosecuted for “taking too many books out of the library.”

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Facebook manipulated 700,000 user posts for research paper – Facebook conducted a secret study of 700,000 users back in 2012 according to a research paper released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) journal. The study took place during the 11th-18th of January 2012 and involved “Secretly manipulated” news feeds. According to the research paper Facebook engineers adjusted the emotional content of the 700,000 users’ posts to see if “Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.”

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The results of the research basically showed that when Facebook reduced users positive expressions, users posted far fewer positive posts and increased their negativity, while the opposite was true when negative posts were adjusted.

VCs Don’t Think We’re In A Tech Bubble — Yet – At the PreMoney 2014 conference in San Francisco this morning, Andreessen Horowitz managing partner Scott Kupor argued that there doesn’t seem to be a bubble in tech. In a presentation that lasted a bit over 10 minutes, Kupor laid out a series of trends that indicate things aren’t quite as exuberant as some fear.

Stanley Cup hockey mob destroys what they think is an LAPD drone – Los Angeles residents were pretty stoked when the Kings beat the Rangers to win the 2014 Stanley Cup. Heck, even the mayor went on TV to raise a pint and swear in celebration. Out in the streets, it was a mob scene… and things went south in a hurry for one unlucky quadcopter. Some members of the Staples Center crowd apparently thought the eye in the sky belonged to the LAPD, and you know how mobs get when they smell a police presence.

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Fleshlight builds an iPad you can bang – Fleshlights rose to popularity for their supposed ease of use and attempt at simulating a human. However, if you wanted to video chat with your significant other on a mobile device and move onto video sex, it’d be a chore to steady the mobile device and employ the help of a toy. Fleshlight has a solution for this, the Launchpad, which basically turns your iPad into something you can bang.

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Watch a Harrier Jump Jet land on a stool – This might not be the kind of impressive aeronautic feat you pulled off when your Cobra pilot was flying round your Rattler years ago, but it’s an undeniably amazing display of skill — and teamwork.

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Something to think about:

“It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.”

-   Aristotle

Today’s Free Downloads:

Immunet FREE Antivirus – Fast Antivirus Protection leverages the speed of cloud computing to deliver real-time protection to your PC. Stay protected against over 13 million viruses and thousands of new threats daily without ever downloading another virus detection file again. Simply stay connected to the Immunet Cloud to keep all virus detections up to date.

Immunet FREE Antivirus is ideal for consumers who want fast protection that doesn’t slow down their PC, including students, families, and netbook users.

Features:

Fast Antivirus Protection – Won’t slow down your PC

Community-Based – Protect your closest contacts

Realtime Detection – NO virus updates required

Companion Antivirus – Compatible with existing antivirus (2.0 Companion Products list)

Strength in Numbers – Powered by Collective Immunity™

Intelligent Scans – Fast, configurable smart scans

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MP3 Skype Recorder – This software is designed to record Skype calls even ones over landlines. The recordings can be saved at the desired bit-rate and in mono or stereo.

Features:

Automatic or manual recording capabilities.

Compact format of stored records (mp3 files).

May be used to record P2P, SkypeOut calls and calls made to Online number.

Capable to track simultaneous calls and to save them separately.

Easy integration with Skype Conference recording.

Intuitive easy to use interface.

Free Ringtone Maker – Free Ringtone Maker is an extremely simple and handy Windows software for making your own free ringtones.

Make Your Own Ringtones in 3 Easy Steps.

Step 1: Pick a Song

To make your own free ringtones, just click button “Choose a Song from My Computer”.

Step 2: Cut Out the Best Part

In this step, you´ll select the best part of the song for your ringtone. Just drag the sliders to set the start and end point of the selection.

You can pre-listen the ringtone using the player buttons. You can also add some fade-in and fade-out effects to your ringtone.

Step 3: Get the Ringtone!

Just click button Save Ringtone to My Computer. Then you can choose a location to save your ringtone file.

When the ringtone file is saved, you can locate it by clicking button Locate in Windows Explorer, or start to create a new ringtone by clicking button Make a New Ringtone.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Calls Supreme Court Cellphone-Warrant Case “Seminal” – The unanimous Supreme Court decision on Riley v. California caused a stir because it set new precedent regarding digital privacy: To search a cell phone, the court ruled, the government must procure a warrant. The decision will set the tone for future legal action regarding technology, data, user privacy, and Fourth Amendment protections.

I’d like to highlight some commentary on the decision from a perhaps unlikely source, Microsoft.

Microsoft, in the past week, has become a leading voice for user privacy and a less active surveillance state. The company’s de facto spokesperson on the matter, its top lawyer Brad Smith, recently gave a lecture in which he called for the end of bulk surveillance, warrant reform, and more transparency in the FISA court. He also called on the Senate to strengthen the somewhat gutted USA FREEDOM Act that recently passed the House.

When Smith speaks, under his official title, he’s speaking for slightly more than himself.

Capping the week with a blog post this weekend, Smith called the Riley decision “seminal.” Continuing, the lawyer wrote that the decision will have “positive implications both for smart devices and the storage of personal information in the cloud.” Correct.

Who gives a F about privacy? New scorecard rates US pols on spying – Civil-rights groups and other campaigners have built a website that tracks US politicians’ voting records on privacy laws.

Members of the bipartisan outfit Stand Against Spying say their scorecard database will publish an overview and tracker of how senators and representatives in Congress vote for or against key issues on privacy and mass surveillance by intelligence agencies.

The scorecard keeps track of votes on key issues such as the USA Freedom Act and the Massie-Lofgren amendment. Congresscritters are then scored on how they voted, and are given a numerical score and corresponding letter grade.

An early tally of the scorecard found that 45 per cent of Congress qualified for an “A” grade – meaning they voted against laws to increase surveillance – while 5 per cent got an “F” and 14 per cent did not show up to enough votes to even qualify for a grade in the study.

Perhaps most interesting about the Stand Against Spying effort is its diverse group of backers. Along with usual suspects such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Sunlight Foundation, the project has won the backing of the conservative FreedomWorks PAC and the US Libertarian Party.

NSA Transparency Report Offers More Questions Than Answers – The Director of National Intelligence on Friday followed through on calls for the government to be more open about its NSA surveillance programs, releasing its first transparency report.

The problem is the transparency report wasn’t all that transparent.

When reading the report, I was immediately struck by the revelation that under the bulk telephony metadata collection program, there were as few as 248 “known or presumed U.S. persons who were the subject of queries of information collected in bulk or who were subject to a business records application.”

Since former government contractor Edward Snowden first leaked documents about the NSA’s programs last year, the bulk telephony metadata program has been the most controversial of the revelations.

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Gov Oversight Board Will Weigh In On The Legality Of PRISM – On July 2nd, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) will release a report on the government’s use of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to execute surveillance. The NSA’s PRISM program, for example, is legally grounded in Section 702.

The independent oversight group is part of the Executive Branch, and is notable for its sharp rebuke of the government’s program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect the phone call metadata of U.S. citizens. Its January dissertation called the program illegal and likely unconstitutional.

The group promised to review both the 215 and 702 programs, releasing the 215 decision first, followed by its 702 verdict. So, the report is not a surprise. According to the PCLOB’s first report, it received deep access to the NSA, even being able to view classified opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and saw the Section 215 program in action. In short, they got to see the full stack, from legal foundation to technical execution.

Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 is a big threat to individual privacy, say privacy groups – A draft U.S. Senate bill aimed at making it easier for organizations to share cyberthreat information poses serious threats to personal privacy, several rights groups said in a letter to Congress on Thursday.

A discussion draft of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (CISA) was released last week by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The proposed bill would facilitate a vast flow of information to the National Security Agency at a time when the agency faces many questions about its surveillance practices, the groups said in the letter.

The bill ignores many civil liberties protections incorporated into an earlier version, called the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, the letter said.

The letter, addressed to Feinstein and committee vice chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), was signed by the Center for Development of Technology (CDT), the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several other groups.

Facebook Reveals User Data Spat With NY – Facebook may have lost its bid to quash a New York judge’s bulk search warrant. But it won the battle to unseal court proceedings, allowing the social network to notify those users involved.

Since last summer, the company has been fighting the Manhattan attorney general’s demand for data (photos, private messages, etc.) from the accounts of 381 users—the largest request in Facebook history.

“We have argued that it was unconstitutional from the start,” Deputy General Counsel Chris Sonderby said in a blog post.

The original case involved more than 130 police officers, firefighters, and other civil servants who allegedly defrauded the Social Security system with fake disability claims.

But, as the New York Times reported, those “disabled” people were spotted in Facebook photos looking perfectly healthy—some even riding watercraft, teaching karate, and deep-sea fishing. The images, which supported other evidence gathered during a three-year investigation, were enough to issue sweeping Facebook search warrants.

According to Sonderby, only 62 of the 381 people whose accounts were the subject of court summons were later charged in the disability fraud case.

Facebook was under a gag order that banned it from discussing the case or notifying those users involved. Until now. Last Friday, the social network filed an appellate brief, after which the government moved to unseal its warrants and court filings.

But Facebook’s fight isn’t over, and the organization intends to continue its push to retrieve data seized and retained by the government.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 27, 2014

17 obscure Windows tools and tricks too powerful to overlook; Walmart to cut iPhone 5C and 5S prices on Friday;  5 Easy Ways to Hacker-Proof Your Home;  Village Roadshow confirms Netflix is coming to Australia;  Larry Page: Don’t fret over privacy, love Google;  The 10 Coolest Features in Android L;  Titanfall Game Update 4 is live;  German gov to drop Verizon over spying concerns;  Could You Live Without Your Phone?  11 connected cameras for a safer smart home (pictures);  Digital tattoos that can unlock your Moto X are just $1 each;  By Google’s admission, up to five million Android users are plagued by malware;  “Tracy Morgan Is Dead” Fake Video in Circulation;  GoPro’s shares shoot up 32 percent in first day of trading;  Plants vs. Zombies 2 Gets Dark Ages Update on iOS and Android;  What is ex-NSA spyboss selling for $1m a month, asks US congressman;  Researchers can steal an iPad PIN with Google Glass.

German government to drop Verizon over spying concerns – The various Snowden leaks have revealed widespread spying by the United States government, with various tech companies and service providers being compelled to aid in these surveillance practices. It is for this reason the German government has elected to drop Verizon as its ISP of choice.

5 Easy Ways to Hacker-Proof Your Home – Refrigerators hijacked to send malicious emails. TVs tapped to spy on their watchers. Baby monitors remotely rigged to stream a stranger’s voice. These aren’t outtakes from a cheesy sci-fi horror flick. They’re real situations that have happened in homes around the world–made hackable, so to speak, by flawed smart devices. Of the millions of Americans who own at least one connected device, only a small fraction have publicly come forward as victims of malicious home-gadget attacks. But it never hurts to be prepared. Here are five expert tips on how to safeguard your smartest devices.

Larry Page: Don’t fret over privacy, love Google – One often gets the impression that, in Googleworld, technology comes first and people come, well, a little later. There’s the feeling that the company will do something because it can, not because it truly benefits sentient beings. However, Google CEO Larry Page firmly believes that he and his fellow engineers exist to make people’s lives better. In an interview with The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo, Page was at pains to remind people how fickle they are. Yes, we whine about privacy, but once we see what technology can do for us, we just don’t care about exposing ourselves. Look at Google Street View, he said, people used to call that intrusive. Now, it’s just useful. (Utter nonsense. Repackaged horseshit spewed by an elite who has lost the connection to his own humanity.)

17 obscure Windows tools and tricks too powerful to overlook – The beauty of Windows lies in its flexibility and depth. In fact, Windows is so deep and flexible that many of us never touch its more powerful tools, whether from unawareness or sheer forgetfulness. But beneath Internet Explorer and the Start button hides a universe of tools and tricks that are positively brimming with potential.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Walmart to cut iPhone 5C and 5S prices on Friday – In a move that could signal the imminent launch of iPhone 6, Walmart is drastically cutting its iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S prices. A Walmart spokesperson told CNET that as of Friday, the iPhone 5C 16GB will cost $29, down from $49, and the iPhone 5S 16GB will cost $99, down from $149. The new prices are available with a two-year contract on AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. The updated prices are for in-store purchases only and start on Friday at 9 a.m. “local time.”

More than half of 25 to 34-year olds have a tablet, says new research – Tablets are replacing computers, according to new figures, as we voraciously eat up online video from YouTube to Netflix. Industry analysts IDG polled 23,500 people across 43 countries about their use of mobile devices. The survey focuses on the habits of business executives as well as comparing the behaviour of members of generation X — people roughly in their thirties to fifties — with younger millenials, who largely grew up with the Internet.

Could You Live Without Your Phone? – I am not a luddite. I love technology and all of its trappings. I even accept that we have likely set ourselves up for some kind of artificial intelligence takeover because our dependence on devices is dumbing us down. This Father’s Day, I was tested. I woke up to my one-year-old son dropping my iPhone in the toilet. Was this symbolic? Not sure. But the last nine days without a phone have revealed many things.

Village Roadshow confirms Netflix is coming to Australia – As the company takes up the fight to deter online copyright infringement, Village Roadshow co-CEO Graham Burke has confirmed that Netflix is in negotiations to come to Australia in the near future.

OneDrive or Drive for Work: Choosing the best cloud storage option – Both Microsoft and Google have recently beefed up their storage options. Here’s how to decide which on is right for you.

11 connected cameras for a safer smart home (pictures) – You can’t always keep an eye on things at home, so these 11 smart security cameras promise to do the heavy lifting on your behalf.

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Android Wear video demo: Take a look at what LG’s G Watch can do – Google’s new smartwatch OS is all about voice control. Watch as we take the new LG G Watch through its Googly paces.

How to check if your device is Android Wear-compatible – Before you place your order for a shiny new Android Wear watch, check to make sure your Android smartphone or tablet will play nice with your new toy.

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Google’s Trick for Chromecast Sharing? Ultrasonic Sounds – A new feature for Google’s Chromecast streaming stick will tap into the world of ultrasonic noises. Google announced at Google I/O on Wednesday that the Chromecast will soon be able to support off-network streaming. In other words, you won’t have to grant everyone access to your Wi-Fi network in order to give them to option to cast content to your Chromecast-equipped television.

Google starts scrubbing searches under EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ – Across much of Europe, people embarrassed by certain search results can prod Google and other search engines to clean things up.

The 10 Coolest Features in Android L – Google’s big new operating system release, Android L, has a huge volume of new features. Some changed look initially like bigger deals than others, though. Here are 10 that really excited our imaginations.

Download the Android L Developer Preview release now – This afternoon the Android L Developer Preview has been made available to the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 7 Wi-fi (version 2, released in 2013). This system is meant to be downloaded and used by developers specifically, but anyone can have a peek if they do so desire.

Digital tattoos that can unlock your Moto X are just $1 each – The Digital Tattoo for Moto X comes in a pack of ten adhesive units that can be applied directly to the skin and used to unlock your phone as though you were using NFC. These adhesives are expected to be able to stay on your skin for roughly five days before needing to be replaces, and look like a copper circle that sits on your skin. The tattoos are roughly one inch in diameter, and they are currently available for $10 for the pack of ten.

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Video reminds you not to trust everything you see on Facebook – The short film “What’s on your mind?” is a poignant look at the realities of social media, where your friends aren’t really as happy as they seem.

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Security:

By Google’s admission, up to five million Android users are plagued by malware – Android chief Sundar Pichai said at Google’s I/O conference that “less than half a percent of users ever run into malware issues” – but that still means that up to five million users are affected.

Researchers can steal an iPad PIN with Google Glass or a smartwatch – Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell have developed a technique for surreptitiously stealing iPad PIN codes, and all it takes is a camera. The one built into Google Glass and Samsung’s Gear smartwatches are a perfect fit too. The method relies upon a new video recognition algorithm that can estimate where a person is tapping on a touchscreen even if the screen itself is not completely visible.

“Tracy Morgan Is Dead” Fake Video in Circulation – Not long after a viral hoax proclaimed actor Tracy Morgan’s death, scammers have decided to jump on the bandwagon and try to spread fake videos on Facebook claiming the same thing. As with all of these fake video scams, you’re supposed to share the clip then see the video – in this case, you’re redirected to various offers / downloads depending on region.

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Websites Tracking Children’s User Activity May Violate COPPA – In an analysis of 40 websites popular among children, researchers found the majority of them aggressively tracked user activity, which may violate federal privacy law. The law in question is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires Website operators and mobile app developers targeting children under 13 years of age to obtain explicit parental consent before they can collect personal information from minors.

Company News:

Alibaba to be listed on New York Stock Exchange – Alibaba has amended its S-1 filing and has selected the New York Stock Exchange for its IPO, and will list under the stock symbol BABA.

Crysis developer Crytek hasn’t paid staff for months – There are thousands of game development studios out there, but only a few handfuls that I would pick out as unlikely to shut up shop. One of those developers is Crytek, due to its track record of producing incredibly popular games including Far Cry and the Crysis series. But Crytek is apparently struggling, to the point where it isn’t paying staff.

GoPro’s shares shoot up 32 percent in first day of trading – Going up against the camera world’s heavyweights, the portable camera startup makes a smashing debut on the stock market.

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A GoPro camera can mount onto helmets, handlebars, surfboards, and more.

Apple cuts iPod touch prices, updates 16GB model – Apple has announced price cuts across its iPod touch range, with prices now starting from $199 for the 16GB model – which now also includes a rear camera – rising to $299 for the 64GB version.

Games and Entertainment:

Plants vs. Zombies 2 Gets Dark Ages Update on iOS and Android – The zombies are going medieval, literally. EA has just rolled out a huge Dark Ages update to Plants vs. Zombies 2 that adds a whole new world and more zombies to slay. As with all the other additions, this one comes free of charge with EA hoping that you’ll plunk down some cash on in-app purchases.

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Titanfall Game Update 4 is live: download now for Xbox One and PC – This afternoon Titanfall is nabbing an update for both its Xbox One and PC iterations, this update bringing about some major changes for all players. This is not a DLC pack that costs cash – instead it’s one of many free updates that’ll be coming to Titanfall players around the world through the lifespan of the game.

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Ubisoft may already be cutting graphical effects from ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division’ – An unnamed developer working on “Tom Clancy’s The Division” in the graphics technical division at Ubisoft, had recently revealed to What If Gaming that they’re unhappy with how the final product is beginning to look, after showing off high quality demos of the game at events. Similarly, it was unearthed by a PC modder that Ubisoft had taken away many of the graphical effects used in the “Watch Dogs” E3 2012 unveiling video, which lead to the lackluster visuals on consoles and PC. Knowing how they’ve done this in the past, Ubisoft could be at it again.

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Tappy Chicken: an open mobile game showcasing Unreal Engine 4 – Epic Games has created what turns out to be the first Unreal Engine 4 game released for Android and iOS: Tappy Chicken, a Flappy Bird knock-off. The game is open for anyone interested in the platform to mess around with, with the related code being available on the Unreal Engine website.

Nintendo Paints a Colorful Wii U Future With Splatoon – Nintendo revealed many upcoming titles during its E3 live steam, but none broke from the company’s formula as much as Splatoon, a bright, fast-paced, and creative take on the shooter genre. Splatoon is a four-versus-four, team-based Wii U shooter that focuses on capturing territory rather than simply gunning down your opponents.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Hotel Tonight’s upcoming feature will use smartphone as room key – Hotels have been slowly shifting to accommodate our mobile world — CitizenM is a prime example — and with the Hotel Tonight app, Android users are poised to gain two exceptionally handy features: the ability to skip in-person check-ins, and to use one’s smartphone as a room key, avoiding those pesky magnetized cards altogether.

Killer drone report downplays “PlayStation mentality” of pilots – The US killer drone program is not creating a “PlayStation mentality” about war, a report from former Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency officials said Thursday. The report comes three days after the disclosure of a secret Obama administration memo outlining the legal justification for the government’s drone-targeted killing program, a lethal strategy that authorizes the killing of innocents as collateral damage.

Meet the Brothers Behind the Web’s Most Controversial Social Network – Ask.fm is one of the Internet’s biggest social networks. It also happens to be one of the least understood. Since its founding in 2010, the site has grown to 120 million registered users around the world, with 15 million in the United States alone. But it is best known for unflattering attention. Its critics call it an incubator for cyberbullying and even suicide.

E-joints: The toke of the future? – The E-Njoint was made to look like a joint, and even has a cannabis leaf on the end that lights up when you take a puff, but the only things you’ll be puffing are the “safer” propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and, shudder, “100 percent biological flavor.” That said, the e-joint is refillable, and you can fill it with hash oil or weed of your own if you’d like a more potent smoke. While we’re sure you aren’t too excited about fruity fake e-joints, perhaps this product will inspire others to create even more e-joints in the not-too-distant future. Because ganja, like nicotine, is ready to get vaped.

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Something to think about:

“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.”

-    Rabbinical Saying

Today’s Free Downloads:

HomeBank – HomeBank is an easy way to analyse your personal finances in detail using powerful filtering tools and graphs. If you are looking for a completely free and easy way to manage your personal accounting then HomeBank should be the software of choice.

Features:

Import & Export data

Import from many formats: Easily import your accounts from Quicken or Microsoft Money, and many other financial management programs. Supported file formats includes QIF, OFX, QFX, and CSV.

Duplicate detection: HomeBank will detect and identify the duplicate transactions and will enables you to choose what to do.

Export: Easily export your accounts to QIF format, and various datas parts to CSV format.

Analysis tools

Dynamic reports: Various reports will deliver the information you need at your fingertips using dynamic powerfull reports with nice 2d charts.

Quick & easy: Easily adjust the report parameters with some presets, or get more fine results with filtering by every transaction fields.

Various reports: Repartition or time reports, you will find one to analyse what your are lookig for. Also track the budget, or check the balance for any overdrawn, even knows your vehicle costs and fuel consumption.

Budget

Month / Annual budget: Set a budget to each categories with same amount or different amount per month.

View non-budget: Force the view of some categories into the budget report as well.

Import/Export: Import/export the budget into CSV files.

Beautiful charts: The charts available are bars, lines and pie. The design was inspired from google analytics and you can change the x-factor dynamically and also the color scheme.

Transactions

Scheduled transactions: Easily turn any transaction into a repeating event (like those darn utility bills!).

Category split: Split the amount of a transaction into several categories.

Internal transfer: Easily transfer money between accounts which can be automated.

Quick seizure: Quickly transform any transaction to a template that simplify the seizure of common transactions, or inherit from an existaing transaction.

Multiple field edition: You can easily change every values for several transaction at once.

Small icons: Enjoy the icons for payment mode and transaction status, plus the additional paymode field.

Tag field: Tag your transactions for another analysis axis.

Remind this: Put any transaction in a remind state to keep an eye on debt you have or people have to you

Categories & Payees

Automatic assignment: Define some rules and HomeBank will assign payees and/or categories for you.

Direct add: Add new categories and payees directly from the transaction register.

Auto-completion: Never get lost if you have thousand of payees or categories, HomeBank will find it with the first letters.

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AutoAdministrator – AutoAdministrator lets you query or update a variety of Windows settings and services across any number of servers and/or workstations, without the need to create a script or perform the actions manually.

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Blender – Blender is a free and open source 3D animation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. Advanced users employ Blender’s API for Python scripting to customize the application and write specialized tools; often these are included in Blender’s future releases. Blender is well suited to individuals and small studios who benefit from its unified pipeline and responsive development process. Examples from many Blender-based projects are available in the showcase.

Blender is cross-platform and runs equally well on Linux, Windows and Macintosh computers. Its interface uses OpenGL to provide a consistent experience. To confirm specific compatibility, the list of supported platforms indicates those regularly tested by the development team.

As a community-driven project under the GNU General Public License (GPL), the public is empowered to make small and large changes to the code base, which leads to new features, responsive bug fixes, and better usability. Blender has no price tag, but you can invest, participate, and help to advance a powerful collaborative tool: Blender is your own 3D software.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

What is ex-NSA spyboss selling for $1m a month, asks US congressman: Former snoop Gen Alexander’s security consultancy under the microscope – Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) is pushing for a formal investigation into the activities of General Keith Alexander now that the former head of the NSA has started his own very expensive security consultancy. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Gen Alexander.

Last week it was reported that Alexander, who retired from his role at the NSA and US Cyber Command in March, has set up a business called IronNet Cybersecurity Inc and was pitching for business with financial institutions. He was advertising his services costing $1m a month, although he later offered a discount that would bring his fee down to $600,000.

“Disclosing or misusing classified information for profit is, as Mr. Alexander well knows, a felony,” wrote Grayson in letters to the Security Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Consumer Bankers Association, and the Financial Services Roundtable.

“I question how Mr. Alexander can provide the services he is offering unless he discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods. Without the classified information he acquired in his former position he literally would have nothing to offer to you.”

Facebook Search Warrant Disclosure Reveals Scope of Government Requests – Facebook announced Thursday it’s been pushing back against a bulk set of search warrants requesting private data from its user accounts since last summer.

In a blog post, the social media network announced a court in New York requested personal data for 381 users, including photos and private messages. The company argued the request was unconstitutional, but the courts prevailed and the information was turned over.

This information is just coming to light now as Facebook filed an appellate brief Friday in an attempt to force the government to return the data it had seized and retained. Facebook says the government responded by moving to unseal the warrants and all court proceedings, allowing the company to notify the users their information had been taken.

Only 62 of the 381 people who were subjected to the searches later had charges brought against them in a disability fraud case. The government still has the data from more than 300 affected users who were never charged.

More on Hacking Team’s Government Spying Software – Hacking Team is an Italian malware company that sells exploit tools to governments. Both Kaspersky Lab and Citizen Lab have published detailed reports on its capabilities against Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry smart phones.

They allow, for example, for covert collection of emails, text messages, call history and address books, and they can be used to log keystrokes and obtain search history data. They can take screenshots, record audio from the phones to monitor calls or ambient conversations, hijack the phone’s camera to snap pictures or piggyback on the phone’s GPS system to monitor the user’s location. The Android version can also enable the phone’s Wi-Fi function to siphon data from the phone wirelessly instead of using the cell network to transmit it. The latter would incur data charges and raise the phone owner’s suspicion.

Once on a system, the iPhone module uses advance techniques to avoid draining the phone’s battery, turning on the phone’s microphone, for example, only under certain conditions.

“They can just turn on the mic and record everything going on around the victim, but the battery life is limited, and the victim can notice something is wrong with the iPhone, so they use special triggers,” says Costin Raiu, head of Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis team.

One of those triggers might be when the victim’s phone connects to a specific WiFi network, such as a work network, signaling the owner is in an important environment. “I can’t remember having seen such advanced techniques in other mobile malware,” he says.

Hacking Team’s mobile tools also have a “crisis” module that kicks in when they sense the presence of certain detection activities occurring on a device, such as packet sniffing, and then pause the spyware’s activity to avoid detection. There is also a “wipe” function to erase the tool from infected systems.

Hacking Team claims to sell its tools only to ethical governments, but Citizen Lab has found evidence of their use in Saudi Arabia. It can’t be certain the Saudi government is a customer, but there’s good circumstantial evidence. In general, circumstantial evidence is all we have. Citizen Lab has found Hacking Team servers in many countries, but it’s a perfectly reasonable strategy for Country A to locate its servers in Country B.

Germany Nixing Verizon Contract Highlights Economic Impact Of US Spying – The German government announced it was pulling its contract with Verizon due to fears the Internet provider was allowing U.S. agencies to spy on the government’s communications, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The news highlights the negative impact controversial government surveillance programs have on American businesses abroad.

Reports of the U.S. spying on German citizens sparked backlash in Europe last year in the wake of leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden about the scope of NSA surveillance programs. News that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was targeted by the programs strained relations between the two nations.

“There are indications that Verizon is legally required to provide certain things to the NSA, and that’s one of the reasons the cooperation with Verizon won’t continue,” Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate told the Associated Press.

The announcement demonstrates the controversial surveillance practices are bad for American businesses. In the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, tech companies from Verizon to Facebook have had to defend their companies practices to angry customers in the U.S. and abroad concerned they are sharing personal data with the U.S. government. Companies from Microsoft to Apple have called on the government to make reforms.

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