Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 6, 2014

6 apps with Windows 10 features;  10 things to know about Ello, the ad-free social network;  Fixes for 5 Common Smartphone Photo Mistakes;  Keep your personal stuff private when lending your phone to a friend;  Snap by Groupon Pays You to Shop;  SureMote Turns Your Android Phone Into A Remote For Any Wi-Fi Connected Device At Home;  4 fast note-taking tips for Android and iPhone;  These are Windows 10’s new keyboard shortcuts;  JPMorgan Chase bank hack: It gets worse;  Apple will face $350M trial over iPod DRM;  Google building WhatsApp competitor for India;  Inferno 2 Blasts Into App Store With Awesome Arcade-Style Gameplay;  The geekiest tech jokes on the internet;  Retired NSA Technical Director Explains Snowden Docs;  Macrium Reflect FREE Edition.

Feds only have themselves to blame for Apple and Google’s smartphone encryption efforts – The U.S. government is crying foul over Apple and Google’s efforts to bolster smartphone encryption. Because accusations that they’re going “beyond the law” goes both ways.

How to keep your personal stuff private when lending your phone to a friend – It’s easy to keep your data private on an Android phone when it’s always in your hand. Just use a strong password, encrypt your device, and no one’s getting your stuff. What about when you actually want a friend or acquaintance to see something on your phone? You could be handing them them all your private data. So should you hover over their shoulder, waiting to snatch the phone away? Nah, that’s rude. You can use a few apps and file system tricks to make sure your private stuff stays private.

Fixes for 5 Common Smartphone Photo Mistakes – Most of the time, today’s smartphones do a great job of capturing everyday moments in their default full automatic modes. However, there are times when adjusting your phone’s camera settings can make a huge difference. Check out these simple fixes to five of the most common photo mistakes and start taking better pictures.

Microsoft takes the hassle out of Office 365 email encryption – When Microsoft announced message encryption for Office 365 in November, it came with a potentially annoying requirement: People receiving the encrypted messages had to be logged into a Microsoft account to view them. Now, recipients who don’t have a Microsoft account—or who have one but aren’t logged into it—can view their encrypted message using a one-time passcode that Microsoft will send to them via email. They’ll then have 15 minutes to use the passcode to view their encrypted message.

10 things to know about Ello, the ad-free social network – By now, you’ve probably heard of Ello, the invite-only social network garnering attention for its radical approach to social networking. Find out why the site is seeing 35,000 hourly sign-ups, and why people are so willing to join yet another social network.

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BBC iPlayer now lets you catch up on 30 days of TV and radio shows – To millions of viewers, listeners and users across the United Kingdom, BBC iPlayer is indispensable. The service allows people to watch and listen to BBC TV channels and radio stations, both live and on-demand, and for many years has allowed them to catch up on programmes that they may have missed for up to seven days after broadcast. But BBC iPlayer has now become even better, as the Beeb has announced that it has extended the seven-day catch-up window to 30 days.

Snap by Groupon Pays You to Shop – Looking to make a little extra cash before the holiday shopping season? The new Snap by Groupon app pays you for purchasing featured grocery items each week. Available in the U.S. and Canada, Android and iPhone users can download the app and start shopping—just remember to save your receipts.

6 apps with Windows 10 features – Microsoft has just announced Windows 10 for 2015, which will work across PCs, tablets, and phones. If you’re in the Windows Insider program, you can try a preview build now, but you’ll be installing software that’s still being tested. Instead, here’s how to get Windows 10 functionality right on your Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 PC.

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SureMote Turns Your Android Phone Into A Remote For Any Wi-Fi Connected Device At Home – The new version of the app uses the infrared blaster on newer Android devices to pick up all kinds of Wifi-connected hardware from smart TVs to Blu-ray players. That way you can use a single phone for multiple home devices; in fact, they have thousands of devices in their library that they’ve catalogued.

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These are Windows 10’s new keyboard shortcuts – The Windows 10 Technical Preview adds all sorts of nifty new features designed to appeal to PC power users, but it also includes some nifty newcomers that you can’t actually see—fresh keyboard shortcuts! The details come courtesy of Brandon LeBlanc of Microsoft’s Blogging Windows blog. If you install the Windows Tech Preview this weekend be sure to check these out.

64-bit Firefox poised to launch in the near future – Mozilla seems to have finally decided that a 64-bit version of its popular Firefox browser is a worthy project to focus on. Unfortunately the first such version is only expected to launch next year.

4 fast note-taking tips for Android and iPhone – You’re dashing off to that big meeting in the city when suddenly, it hits you: that big idea you’ve always been waiting for. And then—going, going, gone. The key, of course, is jotting down those brilliant thoughts before they disappear in a puff of neural smoke. Here are some speedy ways to record strokes of genius on your iPhone or Android phone—and ideally, without having to unlock your handset.

Teen spends over $46,000 on free-to-play mobile game – It’s no secret that free-to-play games don’t really denote that zero-sum price tag. Generally, a free-to-play game means you can download and load the game for free, but essential gameplay elements are locked away behind a tedious, terrible grind that you can alleviate by ponying up a bit of cash. This time around, a 15-year-old from Antwerp, Belgium, had access to his grandfather’s credit card. His mom gave him the card info when she asked for help purchasing and installing eBooks onto her tablet. The teen linked the credit card info to his own iTunes account, and began using the card to purchase in-game gold in Game of War: Fire Age, a Clash of Clans-alike. The charging took place for a few months, and the teen ultimately spent around 37,000 euros, which translates to roughly $46,300.

Microsoft’s RoomAlive concept brings dead space to life – Microsoft Research has churned out some interesting concepts in recent years that use projection and motion sensing technology to turn dead space into something of interest.  Now there’s a new projection-based demo that Microsoft Research is showing off:  Titled RoomAlive, the project uses projectors to throw elements onto surfaces around a user and a Microsoft Kinect to track that user’s reaction in the same space. The RoomAlive prototype is basically augmented reality without wearable devices, such as Google Glass, and strives to be easy for users to setup and easy to interact with.

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Security:

JPMorgan Chase bank hack: It gets worse – The JPMorgan breach is being called the worst known compromise in history. ZDNet has learned that the damage is likely much worse than previously thought.

Security researchers release ‘unpatchable’ tools that make USB drives malicious – In a gambit aimed at driving manufacturers to beef up protections for USB flash drive firmware, two security researchers have released a collection of tools that can be used to turn those drives into silent malware installers. The code release by researchers Adam Caudill and Brandon Wilson comes two months after researchers from Berlin-based Security Research Labs (SRLabs) demonstrated an attack dubbed BadUSB at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

Reddit-powered botnet infected thousands of Macs worldwide – The Russian antivirus vendor Dr. Web has reported the spread of a new botnet that exclusively targets Apple computers running Mac OS X. According to a survey of traffic conducted by researchers at Dr. Web, over 17,000 Macs worldwide are part of the Mac.BackDoor.iWorm botnet—and almost a quarter of them are in the US. One of the most curious aspects of the botnet is that it uses a search of Reddit posts to a Minecraft server list subreddit to retrieve IP addresses for its command and control (CnC) network. That subreddit now appears to have been expunged of CnC data, and the account that posted the data appears to be shut down.

Marriott to pay $600,000 fine, stop blocking guests’ WiFi – Marriott International, a large chain of hotels and resorts, was recently cited in an FCC investigation stemming from several complaints that they improperly (and illegally) restricted access to WiFi and mobile hotspots — and at the same time, charged guests as much as $1,000 per device to access the hotel’s WiFi network. But news of a settlement has been unveiled in a press release by the FCC, confirming that Marriott has agreed to cease their unlawful use of “WiFi-blocking technology,” as well as pay a $600,000 civil penalty to resolve the investigation.

Company News:

Report: HP plans to split into two companies – The Wall Street Journal is reporting that HP will break up into two separate companies. According to the report, the company appears ready to split into separate “Consumer” and “Enterprise” companies, with PCs and printers ending up in one company and corporate hardware and services operations going to the other. The Journal says HP plans to announce the move “as early as Monday.”

Yahoo set to invest in Snapchat with a $10 billion valuation – Yahoo is reportedly closing a deal to invest in instant messaging service Snapchat, in a move that will net Snapchat millions of dollars and which values the company at $10 billion.

Redbox To Kill Off Its Streaming Service Next Week – Well, that didn’t last long. 18 months after opening its doors to the public, Redbox Instant (the online streaming arm of those Redbox kiosks you see in grocery stores around the country) is shutting down. The service will officially hit the lights and kill the servers on October 7th.

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Apple will face $350M trial over iPod DRM – Apple will soon have to face a trial over accusations it used digital rights management, or DRM, to unlawfully maintain a lead in the iPod market, a federal judge has ruled. The plaintiffs’ lawyers, representing a class of consumers who bought iPods between 2006 and 2009, are asking for $350 million.

Lawsuit reveals Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion a year for Android patents – Microsoft sued Samsung in August, alleging that the Korean firm had failed to make payments that were contractually owed. At the time, the documents were sealed, obscuring the value of the payments. Today, those documents were unsealed, revealing the full scale of the suit.

Microsoft earns about $3.21 from each Samsung Android device sold – The court case between Microsoft and Samsung has provided the world with new information about the royalties that Microsoft charges Android vendors. While we know that Microsoft has been going after nearly anyone who makes a device that is powered by Google’s mobile OS, how much Microsoft was making per unit sold has always been somewhat of a mystery. But, thanks to new information from the court case, we know that Samsung had to pay Microsoft over $1 billion in payments for 2013.

Instagram cuts off social startup Tiiny from ‘find friends’ API access – Tiiny, the new social media app from Digg-founder Kevin Rose, has just lost access to Instagram’s social graph, meaning users on the former can no longer easily find and connect with their friends from the later. The simplest, and most logical, reason for this is that Instagram views Tiiny as a possible growing threat to its dominance, and doesn’t want to give it a free leg up in the ever-competing social network market.

Games and Entertainment:

Windows 10 will woo gamers with supercharged DirectX 12 graphics API – Windows 10’s blatant bid to woo back PC power users already looks pretty damned appealing, despite being in a very early state. But Microsoft’s still holding a trump card up its sleeve that’s virtually guaranteed to make PC gamers sit up and notice its next-gen operating system. As expected, Microsoft has announced that the final version of its supercharged DirectX 12 graphics API will ship with Windows 10 in 2015.

Fruit Ninja overhauled with big update – Calling it “the biggest update ever”, Halfbrick has more or less overhauled the game with new features, design changes, and improvements. With the update, which is available now from your respective app store, comes changes to the power behind your ninja skills. Essentially, gamers will now have new effects with dojos and blades that expand the kind of moves you can pull off — says Halfbrick, “experiment”.

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Inferno 2 Blasts Into App Store With Awesome Arcade-Style Gameplay – Inferno 2 is basically a slightly more polished extension of Inferno+. It’s like an 80-level expansion pack, but it’s expanding on something that was already awesome. It’s easier to swap between weapons in this title, and the weapons themselves are a bit different. There’s no story or background to worry about—Inferno 2 is just about shooting anything and everything you come across. It is very nearly the perfect mobile shooter.

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Intel Caves to GamerGate Pressure, Pulls Ads – Caving to the pressures of the Internet, Intel has pulled its ads from the Gamasutra website amidst an ongoing controversy known as Gamergate. The chip maker confirmed to PCMag that it pulled the ads. In a later blog post, the company said it had not intended to create “a perception that we are somehow taking sides in an increasingly bitter debate in the gaming community.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bill and Melinda Gates top Forbes list as most philanthropic Americans – The co-founder of Microsoft and his wife donated $2.65 billion last year in an effort to combat deadly diseases around the world.

Incredible ‘cloud waves’ could be first new cloud type in 60 years – The International Cloud Atlas is exactly what it sounds like –  a visual guide to the world’s many and varied cloud formations. The last time it received a major new addition that did not star Tom Hanks was in 1951, with the introduction of cirrus intortus, but after all that time a new challenger has appeared: undulatus asperatus (or just asperatus). The name literally means “agitated waves,” and as that phrase implies, this cloud formation is terrifying and visually spectacular.

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The geekiest tech jokes on the internet – Everyone likes a laugh at a corny joke, right? Here are some of the funniest, geekiest tech and computer jokes we could find. And if we’re missing any, send us yours.

Alabama Sheriff says ComputerCOP keylogger could have stopped Columbine – In an article published by a local news outlet, County Sheriff Mike Blakely of Limestone, Alabama called the EFF an “ultra-liberal organization that is not in any way credible on this. They’re more interested in protecting predators and pedophiles than in protecting our children.” He added, “There are some parents out in Columbine Colorado, if they had this kind of software, things would have turned out differently.” Blakely also told the news outlet, “We have had the key logger checked out with our IT people. They have run it on our computer system… There is no malware.”

4.4 Billion Worldwide Lack Net Access – Approximately 4.4 billion people around the world still have absolutely no access to the Internet, according to a new study from McKinsey & Company. India alone is home to about a quarter of the world’s population with no Internet access, according to McKinsey’s latest research, which was reported by The Washington Post. A total of 736 million people have no Internet access in China, while Indonesia has 210 million such Net-less citizens and Bangladesh has 146 million. In the United States, roughly 50 million people have no access to the Internet, according to the study. That figure, roughly 16 percent of the total population of the U.S., is pretty close to other studies that have indicated that around 20 percent of Americans don’t use the Internet. Interestingly, as the Post reported in a separate article, a good number of Americans who don’t use the Internet do so by choice—they simply have no interest in being online.

Something to think about:

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”

-      Albert Einstein

Today’s Free Downloads:

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.

Backup & Restore Features

File Backup

Create a single backup file of one or more folders on your hard disk

Incremental and Differential backups.

Include and exclude filter ensures that you only backup relevant files.

Browse the backup file as a virtual FAT32 hard drive in Windows Explorer.

Files in use by Windows (such as Outlook .pst files) are backed up even when locked!

Multiple compression levels.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD)

Optionally exclude system and hidden files.

Supports Incremental and Differential backups.

Password protect backups to prevent unauthorized access.

Restore specific files or the entire backup.

Restore to any location.

Disk Imaging

Create a single backup file of a complete hard disk

Create a single backup file of one or many partitions

Incremental and differential images

Restore a partition to a different type. e.g. a logical partition can be restored as a bootable primary partition

Resize the restored partition. A hard disk upgrade can easily be performed by increasing the partition to fill the new disk.

Track 0 (The Master Boot Record) is saved with all backups.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD).

Disk image can be created whilst Windows is in use. A special driver ensures that the disk image represents an exact point in time and will not be affected by disk access that may occur during the backup process.

Verify images. Images (Backup files) can be separately verified or automatically verified before restore.

System files such as ‘pagefile.sys’ and ‘hiberfil.sys’ are not included in the image. This reduces the final backup file size.

Three compression levels can be selected to optimize between file size and speed.

Password protect images to prevent unauthorized access.

AES 256 bit encryption for ultimate security.

Set image filenames automatically.

Linux based rescue CD

Bart PE rescue CD plug-in

Windows PE 2.1 rescue CD with Windows boot menu.

Save your backup definitions as XML files and execute them with a single click from your desktop.

Includes VBScript integration and a VBScript generator for unparalleled control of the backup process.

Scheduling Features

Schedule daily, weekly or monthly.

Unattended completion.

Automatic incremental / differential images.

Automatic disk space management for local / remote hard drives.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Retired NSA Technical Director Explains Snowden Docs – I had an opportunity to attend a presentation by a retired technical director at the NSA, William Binney, which provided context for some of the published documents released by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

Because of the public value of Binney’s expertise on the subject, I decided to publish his presentation and comments on my website.

Binney also mentions how the current NSA mass surveillance regime differs from aspects of an earlier less expensive program, called THINTHREAD, which both he and the former NSA senior computer scientist, Edward Loomis, invented.

As Tim Shorrock has already reported, the back-end of THINTHREAD was used by the NSA in a later program called STELLARWIND (thereby forgoing front end privacy protections both Binney and Loomis built into their earlier, less expensive system). NSA then “illegally directed” STELLARWIND en masse sans privacy protections on Americans and the rest of the world.

The presentation began with a cursory display of the first three slides. Binney then explores the remaining slides in greater depth.

The presentation contains Binney’s own slides and published documents released to journalists by Snowden.

The presentation begins below:

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‘Cops and public bodies BUNGLE snooping powers by spying on 3,000 law-abiding Brits’ – Thousands of innocent Brits have reportedly been mistakenly snooped on by UK police and public bodies.

That claim, which involved nearly 3,000 citizens, was made in a Times report (£) on Saturday.

It was alleged that “Authorities routinely use sweeping legal powers to collect phone and internet records secretly”. And there are concerns that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa) was being abused.

According to the report, the records of nearly 3,000 law-abiding Brits were wrongly snatched and scrutinised by fuzz and civil servants during a three-year period.

The Times added that in 11 cases, spying cockups apparently led to folk – among other things – being blamed for crimes they did not commit or collared in error.

In the first half of 2014, the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office recently said (PDF) that there had been 195 applicant errors, of which 78 per cent of instances involved public officials “submitting the wrong communications address.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 3, 2014

Computer repair: Prepare your PC for a trip to the shop;  USB has a huge security problem that could take years to fix;  Chase bank says 76 million affected in data breach;  Best Android smartphones (October 2014 edition);  Curb Facebook Atlas’s Reach With Adblock Plus;  The best calendar apps and widgets for Android;  Real-time captioning comes to Google Glass;  Windows 10 tips: Your first 30 minutes with the Tech Preview;  Lumia 530 priced at just $49.99 with no contract; New Apple tool helps you avoid buying a stolen iPhone or iPad;  Best mobile games of September 2014;  Tower Dwellers Hits Android;  Gates talks Apple Pay, Bitcoin, Nadella;  Would a curfew for men be good for society?  Comcast brings stream-anywhere cloud DVR to major cities;  Australian Senator calls for meme protest of data retention laws;  SoftPerfect WiFi Guard (free).

Computer repair: Prepare your PC for a trip to the shop – Your computer contains important information, much of it private. The people who will repair it may need to alter Windows, which generally requires access to your password-protected administrator account. They’re probably honest, but you can’t count on that. And even if they’re honest, they may still wipe your hard drive out of necessity or incompetence. But with the right precautions, taking your PC on a service trip shouldn’t result in a disaster.

Curb Facebook Atlas’s Reach With Adblock Plus – Facebook on Monday relaunched the Atlas advertising platform in an effort to expand its marketing reach across the Web. But not everyone is thrilled about it. Which is where ad-blocking plug-in Adblock Plus comes in.

Evernote everywhere? New collaboration tools hope to take over your workday – Evernote, with its new Work Chat messaging app and Context research tool, hopes to turn plain old chat into an enhanced communication medium. Whether these new features will woo workers away from established competition is a very open question.

Shop Amazon Smarter with These Quick Tricks – Many of us have shopped Amazon for years without really digging into some of its handier features. Here’s a quick list of tips and tricks.

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The best calendar apps and widgets for Android – No matter how much you’d rather be playing games or checking fantasy sports stats, you have to manage your calendar. All of the following choices work with Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange, along with other cloud accounts, so you can keep all your appointments in one calendar app.

How to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview: Everything you need to know – Are you ready to walk on the wild side? Windows 10 is on the horizon, and even though it’s still roughly three-quarters of a year away from completion, Microsoft’s giving IT Pros and PC enthusiasts an early taste of what’s to come with the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Lots of things are sure to change going forward, from features to basic elements of the operating system. All that said, are you still curious? Can’t resist the lure of the bleeding edge? Just want to run away from Windows 8? Here’s how to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview right now.

Windows 10 tips: Your first 30 minutes with the Tech Preview – So you’ve downloaded Microsoft’s Windows 10 Technical Preview. Let PCWorld show you around your new OS with our newbie’s guide to Windows 10, complete with tips and tricks.

Real-time, real-world captioning comes to Google Glass – The wearable head-up display’s potential for the hearing impaired, though, did not go unnoticed by a team of researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology. They found a way to circumvent the limitation’s of Glass’ microphone to create an app that captions conversations in real-time. Captioning on Glass adds an Android smartphone to the mix. The speaker talks directly into the smartphone’s microphone; the free CoG Android app translates the speech into text using Google’s own speech recognition software and sends it to the free Captioning on Glass Glassware.

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Best Android smartphones (October 2014 edition) – Here is a selection of the best Android phones currently available on the market. Whether you’re after a handset for personal use, or one suited to BYOD, there’s bound to be an Android handset here for you.

New Apple tool helps you avoid buying a stolen iPhone or iPad – Buying a used phone from someone on Craigslist or eBay is never not sketchy, but thankfully Apple’s now rolled out a tool that could keep you from paying for stolen (and useless) property. The company has launched a new website that instantly checks to see whether Activation Lock — an anti-theft feature of iOS — is switched on for any iPhone or iPad. It’s part of iCloud, but you don’t need any type of Apple account to use it. You will need to access it from a desktop browser, though; mobile Safari bizarrely isn’t supported right now. That makes no sense, but oh well.

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Lumia 530 priced at just $49.99 with no contract on Cricket Wireless – Cricket Wireless will be the first US carrier to offer Microsoft’s most affordable Windows Phone ever, the Lumia 530, and when it goes on sale tomorrow, it will cost just $49.99 with no contract.

ComputerCOP: internet safety software distributed by police turns out to be spyware – If your local police department offered you a piece of free software claiming it helps protect your kids online, that should be a good thing. In reality, saying ComputerCOP is safety software is like saying that a peeping Tom is someone’s personal night watchman. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has done extensive digging and discovered that nearly 250 law enforcement agencies in 35 US states have purchased ComputerCOP over the years, typically buying thousands of copies at a time.

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Roku hops on the screen mirroring bandwagon, adding feature for Android, Windows – Roku is striking back at Chromecast and Apple TV’s Airplay with screen mirroring for Android and Windows. The beta feature lets users beam video and audio from a phone, tablet or PC to the big screen. It’s available now for the Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick HDMI version, and requires a device running at least Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 or Android 4.4.2.

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Comcast brings stream-anywhere cloud DVR to major cities – The new service will let customers stream DVR’d TV recordings to PCs, Macs, iOS devices, and Android devices, even outside the home. It’s similar in function to Dish’s Hopper DVR, but because the recordings are stored in the cloud, it could eventually allow for new features such as unlimited tuners and unlimited storage, GigaOM reports.

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Lawyer wants to sue Google over celeb photo hack – With the recent celebrity photo hacking scandal, iCloud was quickly pointed to as a reason for us seeing far too much of those affected. Apple was quick to respond by pointing out the breach occurred by brute force, and not as a result of their lax security. Now, a lawyer representing some of the celebrities affected, is suing Google.

Security:

Chase bank says 76 million affected in data breach – Data breaches seem to be a daily occurrence of late, with companies left and right reporting they’ve been hacked. The latest puts the info grab a little too close to home, though, as JP Morgan Chase reveal they’ve been compromised. The scope of the breach makes it the largest we’ve ever seen. According to the banking giant, about 76 million households were compromised. Seven million small businesses were also affected, according to the nation’s largest bank. Via a regulatory filing today, Chase says names, phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses were snatched.

USB has a huge security problem that could take years to fix – In July, researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell announced that they’d found a critical security flaw they called BadUSB, allowing attackers to smuggle malware on the devices effectively undetected. Even worse, there didn’t seem to be a clear fix for the attack. Anyone who plugged in a USB stick was opening themselves up to the attack, and because the bad code was residing in USB firmware, it was hard to protect against it without completely redesigning the system. The only good news was that Nohl and Lell didn’t publish the code, so the industry had some time to prepare for a world without USB. As of this week, that’s no longer true.

Check the permissions: Android flashlight apps criticised over privacy – Security firm SnoopWall warns that torch apps are requesting more access to users’ data than they need.

Rising interest in IT security careers  – Demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing 3.5 times faster than the overall IT job market, and 12 times faster than the total labor market.

Company News:

Apple and Google could be in crosshairs of Australian tax inquiry – Major international companies such as Apple and Google could soon have their accounts put under the microscope in Australia as part of a crackdown on corporate tax avoidance.

Facebook apologizes for manipulating news feeds in psychology experiment – In June, Facebook researchers announced the results of a 2011 study that manipulated the news feeds of nearly a million user news feeds to see how positive or negative posts affected user behavior. The experiment only encompassed a tiny fraction of Facebook’s more than 1.3 billion users, but saw incredible backlash from users who hadn’t been asked if they wanted to partake in the study. Today, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer finally apologized in a blog post, and outlined plans for more structured research in the future.

Angry Birds maker Rovio lays off 130 staff and tries to ‘reignite growth’ – Layoffs affect 16% of Finnish firm’s workforce as it focuses on its games, media and consumer products businesses.

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Kim Dotcom parts ways with Baboom: ‘The music industry hates me’ Digital music company confirms it has ‘severed all ties’ with its own founder, as it plans full launch in early 2015.

Games and Entertainment:

Wasteland 2: 10 hours in the desert of death – Set decades after a nuclear apocalypse, Wasteland 2 is the sequel to the 1988 role-playing classic. After choosing a small group of differently skilled survivors, players must head out into the heat-blasted wilderness to investigate the murder of an important tribal leader. This is what happened in my first 10 hours.

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Tower Dwellers Hits Android After Successfully Defending on iOS – At first glance Tower Dwellers is just another tower defense game—after all, “tower” is right there in the name. However, this game has a fun twist on the traditional gameplay that allows you to mix and match abilities to create a custom fighting force that will (hopefully) stop the waves of baddies in their tracks. This game launched on iOS a few months ago, but it has now made its way to Android.

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Best mobile games of September 2014 – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in September 2014.

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This train has zombies on it, and you can shoot them – Sure you can go trick-or-treating with the kids on Halloween. Or maybe go see a scary movie. Or even attend an epic costume party. But if you really want to get in the mix — you know, get your heart pumping and your hands dirty — what you want to do is book yourself aboard the Zombie Train. On the train, you’ll be armed with a laser gun and have the chance to shoot your way through hoardes of zombies looking to board your compartment and eat your brains (or at least your packets of travel snacks). “The ZOMBIE TRAIN is the most unique train ride in North America,” says the attraction’s website. “Be among the first to ride through an apocalyptic world inhabited by zombies in Sacramento’s newest attraction, the Zombie Train! One part passenger train, one part zombie killing machine, this one-of-a-kind experience arms passengers with laser rifles to pick-off walking zombies along the tracks.”

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An Hour’s Worth of Bloodborne Gameplay That’s Kind of Amazing – An alpha tester just uploaded an hour’s worth of high-definition video of grueling hack-and-slash Bloodborne gameplay.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Gates talks Apple Pay, Bitcoin, Nadella and how Office needs to be dramatically better – In a 17 minute interview with Bloomberg, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates gives his opinions on Bitcoin, mobile payments, Tim Cook, and that improving Office needs to be one of Nadella’s top focuses.

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Guy legally trolls Instagram by registering domain about magical duck – A Redditor registered the domain slutsofinstagram.com and, when Instagram sent him a cease and desist letter, responded by claiming the domain is for a fictitious fantasy tale about a duck named Slütsöf who travels throughout the land of Stagram. “Slütsöf in Stagram.” She has a goat brother named Whöresof. He responded to Instagram’s letter, though, claiming that the company doesn’t own the alpahbet, and any similarities to their service are simply unfortunate. It’s obviously a joke, but the Redditor kind of has a point.

Vicious great white shark battle caught on camera – Great white sharks don’t fight each other often, but when they do, it’s no-teeth-barred.

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Would a curfew for men be good for society? – Back in the early 70s, Golda Meir, the then prime minister of Israel, was faced with a government cabinet full of men discussing how best to curb a wave of violent rapes. The idea of banning women from the streets after dark was floated. Meir made a counteroffer. “Men are attacking women,” she said. “Not the other way around. If there is going to be a curfew, let the men be locked up, not the women.” Ultimately, the idea was dismissed as unworkable. But since then it has been seriously considered by a handful of communities around the world. This time, it’s Bucaramanga—a city in the Colombian state of Santander—that will be taking up Meir’s metaphorical baton. Next week—on Thursday, October 9—the city of just under 600,000 will experience its first “women-only” night as part of a campaign launched by the state governor’s office.

Crystal invented that can store, release, and replenish oxygen on command – In what sounds like the most efficient weapon that an alien race can threaten the human populace with, scientists at the University of Southern Denmark have invented a crystal that pulls oxygen from a room and even water. According to the researchers, only a bucket full of the crystalline material is needed for the effect to take place. The substance is a salt made from cobalt, and aside from rhyming, is capable of slurping up oxygen at 160 times the concentration of the air we breathe.

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Drone Captures Epic Footage of Iceland Volcano Eruption – If you want to capture close-up video of a volcano erupting, you better be prepared to risk your life. Unless, of course, you have a drone. The folks at drone company DJI recently took a trek to Iceland to capture the massive Bardarbunga Volcano erupting, and the footage is nothing short of amazing.

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Something to think about:

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

-    John Adams

Today’s Free Downloads:

PCMark - With PCMark 8 you can test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. PCMark 8 is the complete PC benchmark for home and business.

What makes PCMark 8 different from other benchmarks? Real-world relevance.

With PCMark 8 you measure and compare PC performance using real-world tasks and applications. We’ve grouped these applications into scenarios that reflect typical PC use in the home and at the office.

This approach ensures that PCMark measures the things that matter, highlighting performance differences that will be apparent to end users and consumers.

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SoftPerfect WiFi Guard – SoftPerfect WiFi Guard is an essential tool for everyone running a small WiFi network and striving to keep it secure. Generally, modern WiFi networks are well protected, but there is a number of weaknesses that can compromise your WiFi password; this includes vulnerabilities in encryption and brute force attacks. As a result, someone can gain unauthorised access to your Internet and LAN, exploit them and stay unnoticed.

You may think: it’s ok, who cares, I have got an uncapped plan. But what about someone reading your personal emails, stealing private information or breaking the law online while using your Internet connection?

Here comes our little application that allows you to know immediately if your network is used without your knowledge. It’s a specalised network scanner that runs through your network at set intervals and reports immediately if it has found any new connected devices that could possibly belong to an intruder.

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Pointing up    SoftPerfect WiFi Guard running in my system tray.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA and me – James Bamford literally wrote the book on the National Security Agency, spending 30 years obsessively documenting the secretive agency in print. Today, for the first time, he tells the story of his brief turn as an NSA whistleblower.

(A very long but comprehensive article.)

Let slip the doges of war: Australian Senator calls for meme protest of data retention laws – After new national security surveillance powers were ushered through Australian parliament this week, one Senator has called on the internet to protest further national security reforms through mass meme power.

Senator Scott Ludlam has been an outspoken critic of the three tranches of anti-terrorism legislation that are currently making their way through the two houses of Australian parliament, backed by both major political parties.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 2, 2014

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors;  Encryption IS for the children; it’s the gift of electronic privacy rights;  It’s now legal to make backups of movies, music, and e-books in the UK;  How to recover deleted photos from a memory card;  4 Apps That Will Supercharge Your Productivity;  TiVo’s Android app now lets you stream recorded TV shows;  How to Take Free Courses from Top Universities;  Windows 10 beta now available to download;  No Web Design Experience? Try Microsoft Office Sway;  How to extend your camera’s battery life;  PlexiDrone is modular, customizable, and cool;  How to prevent phishing attacks on Android;  FCC pressure stops Verizon’s data throttling plan;  Here’s a look at 30 years of Windows;  ARM builds an OS for the Internet of Things;  Free Video Call Recorder for Skype.

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors – Attorney General Eric Holder, the US top law enforcement official, said it is “worrisome” that tech companies are providing default encryption on consumer electronics. Locking the authorities out of being able to physically access the contents of devices puts children at risk, he said.

Encryption IS for the children; it’s the gift of electronic privacy rights – Top U.S. government officials are freaking out over Apple and Android smartphone encryption plans, using “think of the children” arguments, but why can’t the encryption argument be made “for the children” and for the sake of their future privacy rights?

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ComputerCOP: the dubious “Internet Safety Software” given to US families – The way ComputerCOP works is neither safe nor secure. It isn’t particularly effective either, except for generating positive PR for the law enforcement agencies distributing it. As security software goes, we observed a product with a keystroke-capturing function, also called a “keylogger,” that could place a family’s personal information at extreme risk by transmitting those keystoke logs over the Internet to third-party servers without encryption. That means many versions of ComputerCOP leave children (and their parents, guests, friends, and anyone using the affected computer) exposed to the same predators, identity thieves, and bullies that police claim the software protects against.

It’s now legal to make backups of movies, music, and e-books in the UK – Back in June, the United Kingdom outlined new copyright rules that would allow citizens to make backups of their music, movies, and e-books. Previously, making copies of media was illegal. Today, those laws officially go into effect. It is, however, still illegal to share those backups with friends or family, and making copies of rented media, or media that a person pays a subscription for (like Rdio or Netflix) likewise remains illegal.

4 Apps That Will Supercharge Your Productivity – Not enough hours in the day? These tools can help you get it all done.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

TiVo’s Android app now lets you stream recorded TV shows – TiVo’s Android app now streams programming saved on your DVR. It also has added capabilities to serve as a hub for all your TiVo services, including controlling the TiVo box as well as showing cast information and other details about the show you’re watching.

How to change settings for emergency alerts on your Android phone – The emergency alerts feature on modern smartphones is legitimately useful: It can warn you about dangerous weather conditions, natural disasters, AMBER alerts, or other important tidbits of information. But perhaps you already keep up on the news. Or maybe you don’t feel the need to be alerted about everything. If any of this sounds like you, you’ll be pleased to know that Android has a healthy array of options for managing emergency alerts.

How to Take Free Courses from Top Universities – You can continue your education with some amazing and free online resources available from top universities. These institutions offer many of their courses in the form of video lectures, audio transcripts and online quizzes. And some universities give you access to the professor and let you interact with other students taking the class. Want to give these free online courses a try? Here are the online education offerings from the top U.S. universities that we think are worth checking out.

No Web Design Experience? Try Microsoft Office Sway – The software giant on Wednesday introduced Sway, a new app in the Office portfolio that lets you pull together, format, and showcase your ideas online without any design experience. Users can search for content from sources like OneDrive, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or a phone or tablet’s camera roll without leaving the app, then drag and drop photos and videos directly into Sway. From there, simply add words, select a layout and style, or just let Sway do the formatting for you. It will display suggested combinations to consider, but allows for design tweaks or layout changes, at any time.

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Facebook Apologizes To LGBT Community And Promises Changes To Real Name Policy – Facebook’s VP of Product Chris Cox made a statement today on Facebook apologizing (on behalf of the company, it seems) for any pain caused, and explaining how this situation came to be. The statement also included promises to improve the current real name policy to include all different types of people without risking the safety of other users.

Windows 8 drops in market share, Windows 7 continues dominance – It’s unexpected, but Microsoft’s latest operating system saw a slump in market share for August; Windows 8 and 8.1 both lost points for the month, while Windows 7 and XP continued to dominate.

Windows 10 beta now available to download—time to test the new Start menu – Microsoft released a technical preview of Windows 10 this morning, and it’s available for download here. System requirements are a 1GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM for 32-bit systems or 2GB for 64-bit systems, 16GB of free hard disk space, and a Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with a WDDM driver. In other words, anything that’s capable of running Windows 8.1 can be moved to Windows 10. You can upgrade to the Windows 10 preview from either Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1.

Pointing up   Downloaded a copy this morning for installation on an old Core 2 Duo Processor 2.60 GHz. We’ll see how that goes.

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How to extend your camera’s battery life – Here are some tips to help squeeze out every last bit of juice from your camera’s battery pack.

PlexiDrone is modular, customizable, and cool – Aerial photography is one of those things that makes drones cool. If you were in awe of the drone video from inside a fireworks show, a new drone might let you do the very same thing. What sets this one apart is modularity, and that you can use your own camera to film the action.

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Internet Explorer still the most popular browser, IE8 dominates – Looking at the data, we see Internet Explorer is still the leading browser around the world, by a wide margin. But this is isn’t exactly in Microsoft’s favor as the newest version is still struggling.

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Hacked celebrities ‘dumb’, says proposed EU digital commissioner – Günther Oettinger, the European Union’s proposed Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, gave a disappointing performance at his confirmation hearing, dodging questions and calling the victims of a recent data breach “dumb.” Critics said Oettinger’s remarks about the celebrities whose iCloud accounts were compromised, allowing hackers to release nude photos of them, showed he was unfit for the job of shoring up public confidence in the Internet.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Don’t Need the Internet to Chat With One Another – Smartphones should make it easier to organize protests, but they’re as good as bricks when cell towers get overloaded with traffic or when governments decide to flip the switch. In the face of these hang-ups, Hong Kong’s demonstrators have turned to FireChat, a smartphone app that allows users to communicate even when they can’t get online or send texts. Unlike chat programs that work over the Internet, FireChat connects directly to other nearby users within up to about 250 ft. More people in range can then join the chat, extending the network even further. Pretty soon you can get up to a few thousand people chatting away, all without anybody connected to the Internet. FireChat is based on mesh networking, in which every device on a network works as a node for expanding that network.

Security:

How to prevent phishing attacks on Android – Sometimes, it’s not easy to know if the URL you are about to tap on is trustworthy or not. Considering that there are over 26,000 active phishing sites, that can be rather daunting. Fortunately, there are apps like Phishing Detective available to help you out. Phishing Detective is a simple solution that helps you know if a URL is safe to view. What this app does not do (although it says it can) is automatically check after you’ve tapped it (and prevent its opening should it be a phishing site). Instead, you have to use it as a manual URL checker. Yes, this is a bit of a hassle, but an ounce of prevention…

Jimmy Kimmel tops McAfee’s list of ‘most dangerous celebrities’ – No, I’m not suggesting Kimmel is an embezzler — even of jokes. Rather he’s found himself at the top of McAfee’s most dangerous celebrity list. It seems that those with an eye to planting malware on your digital soul and viruses in your digital pores are choosing most to use Kimmel’s name as bait. McAfee warns: “When you search for videos and downloads of Jimmy Kimmel, you’ve got a 1 in 5 chance to click on a page that tests positive for viruses and other malware.”

You can send this SSD a text message to make it self-destruct – Maybe simply encrypting your hard drive isn’t enough — you want the maximum level of data security possible. If that’s the case and money is no object, the Autothysis128t could be the SSD of your dreams. This 128GB SSD has full hardware encryption support along with unique security and data destruction protocols. You can even shoot a text message to your drive and destroy all the data before your numerous enemies get their hands on it.

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Google Triples Chrome Bug Bounties – Going bug hunting? If so, you might want to turn your attention and expertise to Google’s Chrome browser. The company has now tripled the maximum reward that you could earn for successfully finding an exploit and notifying Google about the issue. And that maximum is a suggestion, not a hard cap. If you find an especially compelling bug, and you could earn even more. Meanwhile, if you submitted and were rewarded for bug reports at any point since July 1, 2013, Google will retroactively pay you the higher reward.

Report: LulzSec leader directed cyberattacks while working for FBI – Hector Xavier Monsegur directed attacks against targets in the UK, Australia, Brazil and other countries, The Daily Dot is reporting.

Company News:

Microsoft: Free Windows licensing brought 50 new phone and tablet partners – Talking about the new licensing model Microsoft has implemented, Terry Myerson explained that it has been a success with 50 new partners signing up to build tablets and Windows Phone devices.

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Germany Warns Google Over User Profiling Privacy Violations – The Hamburg Data Protection Authority warned Google yesterday that its user profiling activities are violating Germany’s Telemedia Act & Federal Data Protection Act, owing to the lack of explicit user consent to how the data is processed. The watchdog said significant changes are necessary to bring Google into legal compliance in Germany — specifying that it must gain user consent for the profiling, and allow users to control what their data is used for.

Google bows to pressure, removes news snippets from German search results – In a move to minimize legal risks, Google has stopped showing news snippets and thumbnails for some well-known German news sites in search results. Google will just show a link to a story along with the headline for news sites such as bild.de, bunte.de or hoerzu.de, said Google Germany’s country manager Philipp Justus Wednesday. The decision is the result of ongoing legal action started by several German news publishers that are members of the collecting society VG Media. After Google refused to compensate the publishers, they sued in June to get a cut of the ad revenue the company makes when it republishes parts of their news articles.

LinkedIn stocks up on education tools to get new users even before college – LinkedIn is stocking up on new tools designed to attract younger internet users to the platform as these students make the steps on their professional journey, starting with college.

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FCC pressure stops Verizon’s data throttling plan – Verizon was set to start throttling those users on unlimited data who had heavy data usage, but have reversed course. In response to heavy criticism from the public and FCC, Verizon is changing course, and will let those data hogs consume at their will.

Google shakes up cloud services market with another price cut – Google has fired back at Microsoft with cheaper cloud services, signaling another round of price cutting in an increasingly competitive market. Citing enhanced efficiency in its data centers as well as falling hardware costs, Google on Wednesday said it was cutting prices of its Google Compute Engine by about 10 percent for all instance types in every region.

ARM builds an OS for the Internet of Things – Called mbed OS, the operating system aims to provide a common software layer for securing and connecting the mass of devices expected to be hooked up to networks in the coming years, ranging from streetlights and gas meters to home appliances and pacemakers. Along with the OS, ARM plans to sell a piece of back-end software, called the mbed Device Server, that companies will use to collect data from IoT devices and make the data available for use by other services, such as analytics programs.

Games and Entertainment:

Watch this: The new Interstellar trailer is amazing – The concept of having or even wanting to leave Earth for good has long haunted humanity. Are we really destroying our planet, forcing decay acre by acre, or will the terra rebound and take its revenge? Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s attempt to answer the former without the latter, and the latest trailer for his film looks spectacular.

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Skylanders Trap Team Review: Good Storytelling And Simple RPG Mechanics Succeed – The ‘Toys to Life’ category has been a much-needed savior for the gaming and toy industry alike, bolstering sluggish sales for both by anticipating a huge demand for real-life action figures that can be ‘brought to life’ for use in digital games. Activision’s Skylanders series pioneered the concept, and the originator is back with Trap Team, a new installment with the unique game mechanic of allowing players to ‘trap’ key villains in special physical play pieces, which makes them playable in-game as characters.

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Borderlands: The Pre-sequel to launch on SteamOS alongside Windows – Despite Valve’s longstanding push to increase the profile of Linux gaming (and the Linux-based SteamOS that is still hanging out in beta), the growing list of Linux games on Steam remains dominated by smaller, independent titles and a few ports of big-name classics. So it’s worth paying attention to the fact that 2K Games has announced that Borderlands: The Pre-sequel will have full Linux/SteamOS support on the same day it launches on Windows machines and consoles, October 14. The announcement comes alongside news that 2K has also released a port of Borderlands 2 for SteamOS, and it’s offering the older game at a 75 percent discount to celebrate.

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Movie theaters plan to block the first Netflix theatrical release – This is far from the first time theaters have responded like this to a simultaneous theatrical and digital release, but it is the first time Netflix has been put in this situation. Initially, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos had hoped this initiative would encourage other studios to break out of the traditional model and explore simultaneous released, but if this block can’t be overcome somehow, you can bet that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Off Topic (Sort of):

So long Lotus 1-2-3: IBM ceases support after over 30 years of code – IBM Lotus 123 Millennium Edition, IBM Lotus SmartSuite 9.x, and Organizer have now officially all passed their end of life support date and, according to IBM’s website, “No service extensions will be offered” – not that anyone is seriously using the spreadsheet any more. It’s a sadly muted end for what was, at one time, the world’s premier spreadsheet. Lotus 1-2-3 was one of the first applications that made IBM’s original PC a serious business tool, but it fell by the wayside due to poor coding decisions, failure to adapt, and the crushing tactics of Microsoft.

The Sound So Loud That It Circled the Earth Four Times – On 27 August 1883, the Earth let out a noise louder than any it has made since. It was 10:02 AM local time when the sound emerged from the island of Krakatoa, which sits between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. It was heard 1,300 miles away in the Andaman and Nicobar islands (“extraordinary sounds were heard, as of guns firing”); 2,000 miles away in New Guinea and Western Australia (“a series of loud reports, resembling those of artillery in a north-westerly direction”); and even 3,000 miles away in the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues, near Mauritius* (“coming from the eastward, like the distant roar of heavy guns.”1) In all, it was heard by people in over 50 different geographical locations, together spanning an area covering a thirteenth of the globe.

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The eruption of Krakatoa, and subsequent phenomena, 1888; Parker & Coward; via Wikipedia.

What Earth would be if humans were eradicated – We hear stories all the time about the effects humans have on our planet, such as the recent news that half of Earth’s wildlife has dwindled in the past handful of decades. What would happen if all humans disappeared from our planet, however? Earth Unplugged takes a look.

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Why Your Geography Does Not Control Your Destiny – Now more than ever, geography no longer controls your destiny in the tech world. While fashion centers around cities like Paris and New York, oil and gas around Calgary and Houston, and cars in Detroit and Tokyo, good software and hardware companies are sprouting up everywhere. The trend is so rampant that “how I built my startup outside Silicon Valley” is no longer the most relevant story.

TechSpot: History of the Personal Computer, Part 3: IBM PC Model 5150 – This is the third installment in a five part series, where we look at the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the transistor to modern day chips on our connected devices.

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Windows 10 arriving — here’s a look at 30 years of Windows – In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft about creating an operating system for its personal computers. Never having written an OS before, Microsoft simply bought an operating system called QDOS — or “Quick and Dirty Operating System” — and changed the name to MS Disk Operating System before licensing it to IBM. MS-DOS required you to type in arcane commands, so Microsoft set to work on making a new OS with a more accessible user interface. Codenamed ‘Interface Manager’, the OS used a mouse and onscreen drop-down menus, scroll bars and icons in boxes to control your computing. These “windows” gave a name to the software. Microsoft Windows was announced in 1983 and version 1.0 launched two years later on 20 November 1985.

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Conservatives say that net neutrality equates to government takeover of the Internet – More than 2.4 million people have signed letters calling on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to stop its proposed “takeover” of the Internet in an effort by conservative activist group American Commitment to reframe the debate about the agency’s proposed net neutrality rules. The group said that it delivered the 2.4 million letters, urging Congress to stop the FCC’s net neutrality proceeding, to lawmakers this week.

Something to think about:

“The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy – I mean that if you are happy you will be good.”

-      Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free Video Call Recorder for Skype – Free Video Call Recorder for Skype is an absolutely free application for recording Skype calls without any limitations. It has a very simple interface.

You don’t need to download or install any extra libraries to be able to use the program.

You just need to specify the mode you like, choose the output folder and press “Start”. If you don’t want to record some moments during the conversation, just click on “Pause”. In order to finish the record select “Stop”.

With its help one may record calls in the following modes:

Picture-in-picture (the program records audio and video of all sides of the conversation)

Only video of other sides

Only audio (all sides)

All video records are saved in mp4 format that is easy to playback on a player.

For audio calls the program creates an mp3 file that is supported by most modern players.

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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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Yawcam – Yawcam is a shortening for Yet Another WebCAM software, and that’s exactly what it is ;-) More precise Yawcam is a webcam software for windows written in java. The main ideas for Yawcam are to keep it simple and easy to use but to include all the usual features.

Features:

Video streaming

Image snapshots

Built-in webserver

Motion detection

Ftp-upload

Text and image overlays

Password protection

Online announcements for communities

Scheduler for online time

Time lapse movies

Run as a Windows service

Multi languages

Yawcam is freeware. However, if you enjoy using Yawcam and would like to help support its development, please consider making a donation.

Limitations: Requires Sun Java Runtime Environment installed.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors – Attorney General Eric Holder, the US top law enforcement official, said it is “worrisome” that tech companies are providing default encryption on consumer electronics. Locking the authorities out of being able to physically access the contents of devices puts children at risk, he said.

“It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said during a Tuesday speech before the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online conference. “When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.”

Holder’s remarks, while he did not mention any particular company by name, come two weeks after Apple announced its new iPhone 6 models would be equipped with data encryption that prevents authorities from accessing the contents of the phone. At the same time, Google said its upcoming Android operating system will also have default encryption.

The encryption decision by two of the world’s biggest names in tech is a bid to gain the trust of customers in the wake of the Edward Snowden surveillance revelations.

Holder said he wants a backdoor to defeat encryption. He urged the tech sector “to work with us to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information in the course of an investigation, such as catching kidnappers and sexual predators.”

California bill limits the surveillance of student social media posts – Social media is an established part of life at this point, but how society deals with it is still be worked out. For a long while, it wasn’t uncommon for employers to demand access to accounts, and many have been fired over what they choose to share. Schools often monitor students’ social media accounts, and a new California bill has specifically targeted that.

Majority Say Brennan Violated Checks and Balances, and Must Go – According to a new poll, a sizeable majority of American voters believe CIA officials violated the constitutional system of checks and balances when they hacked into computers being used by Senate staffers investigating torture.

And by a two-to-one margin (54 percent to 25 percent, with 22 percent not sure) they believe that CIA Director John Brennan should resign on account of the misleading statements he made about the incident.

The Public Policy robo-poll of 898 registered voters was commissioned by the Constitution Project, a highly-respected non-partisan group that has been active in calling attention to the lack of accountability for the torture of detainees during the last administration.

The poll found overwhelming public support for release of a long-completed report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The report is said to disclose abuse that was more brutal, systematic and widespread than generally recognized, and to expose a pattern of deceit in the Bush administration’s descriptions of the program to Congress and the public.

But despite having been completed in December 2012, the report remains inaccessible to the public. Most recently, the White House and the CIA have proposed redactions that Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein said effectively undermine its key findings.

Fully 69 percent of those polled said they support releasing a declassified version of the report “to establish the historical record and to find out more about what happened”; compared to 22 percent who chose the option of not making the report public “because the findings might be damaging or embarrassing”.

Perhaps most strikingly, those numbers were nearly identical across party lines — Democratic, Republican and independent.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 1, 2014

3 essential security tasks – have you done them yet?  Bookstores, publishers sue to stop law against “revenge porn”;  Microsoft Announces Windows 10;  Windows 10 in pictures;  Need help? Microsoft Stores offer free tech support, PC tune-ups, malware removal;  Should you be afraid of Facebook’s massive new ad network?  Spotify launches across Canada (finally);  Students Can Get Unlimited Google Drive Storage for Free;  Nightmare iOS 8 bug deletes your entire iCloud;  How to create digital floor plans;  Good2Go App Assesses Sexual Willingness;  Free app makes it easy to score hugs;  Meet Matchstick, Mozilla’s $25 Chromecast competitor;  Microsoft will offer locally hosted cloud services in India;  No-cost Panda Software tops AV-Test’s rankings of antivirus software;  Trust in cloud security at all-time low;  Popcorn Time Finally Comes To iOS.

3 essential security tasks – have you done them yet? – Tomorrow marks a year since we published our ‘3 essential security tasks’, so we thought we’d revisit it to ask if you’ve done them all. If you haven’t, there’s still time!

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft Announces Windows 10 – This morning at an event in San Francisco, Microsoft announced the next version of its Windows operating system: Windows 10. The company went on to detail that its new operating system will have a tailored user experience between different screen sizes — that’s to say that if you are on a smaller device, you will see a different sort of user interface. The code will run across all device categories: “One product family. One platform. One store.”

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Windows 10 in pictures: A new Start menu puts focus back on the desktop – Multiple desktops and new application views make Windows 10 more PC-friendly.

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How to get Windows 10’s best new features today – A Start Menu, the ability to run Metro apps in desktop windows, and more are coming to Windows 10, but you can get the best features today thanks to some helpful software.

Need help? Microsoft Stores offer free tech support, PC tune-ups, malware removal – If you don’t have a geeky friend handy, PC problems often mean dragging your computer down to the Geek Squad or local PC shop, where you’ll be charged a crazy amount of money to have malware removed or speed up a slowing PC. No more! If you live near a Microsoft Store some of the peskiest PC problems can now be fixed in-person for free. Microsoft’s retail locations recently started offering their Windows-focused answer to Apple’s Genius Bar: the Answer Desk.

Should you be afraid of Facebook’s massive new ad network? – Facebook just launched a potentially massive new ad network called Atlas. According to a headline in The New York Times, Atlas “opens the gates” to Facebook’s “vault of user data.” It sounds like a PR disaster waiting to happen — the kind of thing that’s going to startle local news. It also sounds like Google, the market leader in digital ads, should be very afraid — but should you?

Students Can Get Unlimited Google Drive Storage for Free – Google on Tuesday announced a new version of Drive that is free for students. Described as an “infinitely large, ultra-secure and entirely free bookbag for the 21st century,” the new Drive for Education offering will be available to all Google Apps for Education customers at no charge. It includes unlimited storage (with a 5TB per-file size limit) plus access to the Google Apps Vault for your message archiving needs.

How to create digital floor plans – Looking for an easy way to see how your furniture will look in a different arrangement? How about what to do with an oddly shaped room? Check out the HomeStyler website to make a digital floor plan.

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The 3D view of a floor plan created with HomeStyler.

Spotify launches across Canada (finally) – We’ve seen hints of it before, and now it has finally happened: Spotify has officially launched in Canada, just time for those long winter months spent indoors. The announcement came from the company itself this morning, and includes service across your mobile devices in addition to the Web.

Popcorn Time Finally Comes To iOS – Popcorn Time, the so-called Netflix for pirates, is now on iOS. It’s never been easier to watch pirated movies and TV shows on the iPhone or Android device. Is it illegal? Not really. Shady and not exactly ethical? Sure. Not surprisingly, Apple didn’t give the official nod to this app so Popcorn Time cannot be found in the App Store. That said, it’s still easy to obtain and install the needed software as long as you’re willing to jailbreak your iOS device.

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32 iOS 8 Tips Every Apple Fan Should Know – iOS has a ton of new features and tricks under the hood, things the average user may never notice or care about. But power users of the iPhone—those of us who exploit that pocket computer as a lifeline to the office and home—will benefit highly by mastering them. Apple opened up iOS more to the makers of wearables (via HealthKit) and even to third-party app makers who now have some unprecedented (for Apple) access to the hardware. It all adds up to the best iPhones yet.

Nightmare iOS 8 bug deletes your entire iCloud – The feature causing all the fuss is “Reset All Settings,” which is supposed to change all the system preferences back to system defaults. This shouldn’t have any affect on files, but users are reporting that the device is actually deleting all local iWork documents, a change that is then synced up to the iCloud backup, thus deleting everything across all iOS devices. Oops.

Good2Go App Assesses Sexual Willingness – Available for iOS and Android, the service aims to ensure that both partners explicitly approve of sexual activity before jumping into bed. But the app takes precaution a few steps further, gauging your date’s sobriety level and requiring him or her to verify their identification with a phone number and G2G password (new users can register via the app). There are any number of scenarios that can play out via the Good2Go app, starting with a flat-out “No, thanks,” which immediately shuts down the possibility of hanky panky. The second, “Yes, but we need to talk,” means both parties can discuss boundaries (or lack thereof) ahead of the action. Or, just get on with it by pressing “I’m Good2Go.”

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Path takes laziness to a new level with business messaging – Now a messaging app will call businesses for you and then message you their answers. We’ve reached peak messaging.

Meet Matchstick, Mozilla’s $25 Chromecast competitor – We’ve been hearing whispers for a little while about a Chromecast competitor from Mozilla that was geared towards supporting a fully open source environment, and it looks like the company plan to head to Kickstarter in order to fund this little streaming stick. It’s going to be called Matchstick, and there can be no doubt that the purpose of this stick is to try and sway users away from Google’s Chromecast.

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Silicon Valley’s Newest Dating App Is ‘Tinder Without the Poor People’ – All ‘date a rich person’ services are appalling enough, but today, I present to you a new low: LUXY, the app that is literally being pitched as “Tinder without the poor people.” A press release for LUXY, written by Darren Shuster of Pop Culture Public Relations, is circulating today, and it is both a shining new milestone in the burgeoning pantheon of offensive apps and a fascinating testament to the increasing obliviousness of Silicon Valley. First, I give you the release, in all of its repulsive, bafflingly tone-deaf glory:

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Pushbullet ‘Channels’ Add Custom Notifications on Android, iOS – Channels are essentially a way to plug RSS feeds into Pushbullet so you can get notified of almost any event with rich notifications on iOS or Android. There are several pre-existing channels to subscribe to, or you can make your own. On the server side, a Pushbullet Channel will send out an alert to all subscribed users when a feed updates. For example, if there’s a new Oatmeal cartoon or a new Humble Bundle is posted. The alert shows up in the Android notification shade or iOS Notification Center, depending on your platform of choice. On Android there are action buttons with options to copy or share the link in addition to opening it.

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Cuddle curious? Free app makes it easy to score hugs – Working much like other social GPS-based apps, Cuddlr finds people who want a hug within walking distance and shows their name, picture and cuddle reviews. Make contact with your cuddling partner, then see real-time walking directions to get to each other. If the cuddle is up to your standards, give a thumbs-up. If it’s a bit too intense or sexual, you can report the user. The app even allows for cuddle selfies.

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Keep any application ‘always on top’ in Windows – Want to keep one window as your focus, but the application doesn’t have an option for always on top? Check out this tip on how to use the always on top functionality with any software.

Edit your rooted Android hosts file to block ad servers – If you’re looking for the best way to block ads from reaching your rooted Android device, Jack Wallen shows you how to manually edit your hosts file.

Security:

Free is good: No-cost Panda Software tops AV-Test’s rankings of antivirus software – Antivirus suites are only as good as their latest tests. And in AV-test.org’s latest roundup for July and August, the usual suspects—BitDefender, Kaspersky, McAfee, and Symantec—came out on top. The same holds true for the free options. If you’re a cheapskate, you can download Panda Security’s free cloud antivirus and have a good chance that it will catch everything that the shadowy corners of the Web can throw at it—as it did in AV-test’s own proving ground.

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Cisco, Oracle find dozens of their products affected by Shellshock – Cisco has identified 71 products so far that are exposed to the vulnerability. These products serve various purposes, including network application, service and acceleration; network content and security; network management and provisioning; routing and switching; unified computing; voice and unified communications; video, streaming, TelePresence and transcoding. The number of Cisco products vulnerable to Shellshock and related bugs far exceeds the 38 confirmed not to be vulnerable. The company is reviewing an additional 168 products and hosted services, so the list of vulnerable products is likely to increase.

Trust in cloud security at all-time low: Execs still betting on the cloud – A new report on IT decision makers shows enterprise trust in cloud security at its lowest — yet they’re flocking to use it. OpenStack’s Matt Joyce thinks it’s fair to ask if everyone’s gone nuts.

Malware program targets Hong Kong protesters who use Apple devices – A malware program that targets Hong Kong activists using Apple devices has trademarks of being developed by a nation-state, possibly China, according to a security company. Lacoon Mobile Security of San Francisco wrote on its blog on Tuesday that the malware, called Xsser mRAT, is the “first and most advanced, fully operational Chinese iOS trojan found to date.”

For better privacy, change these iOS 8 settings – Before you sync your iCloud or reinstall your apps, you need to lock down your iPhone or iPad. Here are seven important tweaks (and more) you can set to bolster your privacy.

Trend Micro to share threat information with Interpol – Security software provider Trend Micro will share its threat information analysis with global police agency Interpol for the next three years, in a bid to bridge the gap in information sharing between the public and private sectors.

Company News:

Facebook Is Just an ‘Ad Platform,’ Says CEO of Ad-Free Social Network ‘Ello’ – Ello, an ad-free, invitation-only social network, has been dubbed the “anti-Facebook” after its August launch, but even that characterization might be giving Facebook too much credit, according to Ello’s feisty CEO. “We don’t consider Facebook to be a competitor,” said Paul Budnitz in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “We consider them to be an advertising platform more than a social network.”

Germany orders Google to stop illegal user data processing – As part of an EU-wide crackdown on Google’s data collection practices, Germany has ordered the company to change its user data processing, which is in violation of the country’s laws. Google violates the German Federal Telemedia Act and the Federal Data Protection Act when it collects and combines user data, the Hamburg Commissioner of Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HmbBfDI) said Tuesday.Google was ordered to take the necessary technical and organizational measures to guarantee its users can decide on their own if, and to what extent, their data is used for profiling.

Reddit gets $50 million in funding and will share 10 percent of that with its users – The front page of the internet has a lot more money in the bank, with Reddit confirming $50 million in new funding. More interesting than the amount raised, however, was that investors promised 10 percent of their new equity in the company will be shared with community members, a highly unusual move. While the exact mechanics of how these shares will be distributed to users is not yet clear, lead investor Sam Altman told The Verge that it will most likely use a block chain method similar to the systems used to create and distribute Bitcoin.

eBay And PayPal To Split Into Two Separate Companies – eBay and PayPal are going their separate ways, with the payments company moving out from under the eBay umbrella to form its own, publicly-traded company. The move follows a strategic review conducted by eBay, Inc. and its Board of Directors, and is intended to help both businesses grow faster in their respective markets. The spin-out of PayPal is expected to be complete by the second half of 2015, provided all regulators sign-off on the agreement.

Microsoft will offer locally hosted cloud services in India – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wooed India’s government and banks on Tuesday with an offer to host cloud services including Azure and Office 365 in the country. The Indian government has been pushing organizations to hold data locally, and Nadella’s move could help drive business for the company from federal and state government customers, as well as banks. Microsoft will deliver the cloud services from data centers in three Indian cities by the end of 2015.

Games and Entertainment:

I’m not crazy (but I did buy a $450 HOTAS Warthog joystick) – Review: It’s everything you want in a joystick and throttle—but is it worth the cash?

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2048 and 6 Other Games to Help You Survive the Commute – There are so many games in the App Store and Google Play that it might be difficult to find the perfect match of an addictive, yet quick gameplay. But there are several games that are bound to make time fly by on your daily commute. Just remember to get off at your stop.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: A shadow of its own ambition – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s style, and its very existence, owe a lot to Warner Bros. and its other big licensed gaming series of the past few years: the Batman: Arkham games. Rather than push a license through excessive crunch time to coincide with a new movie, the Arkham model let Warner Bros. put the time into developing a game with an original story that would stand the test of time. The game draws both the evergreen franchise fanatics and those not automatically drawn to the license’s source material.

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Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments review: The definitive Sherlock adventure – The world’s most famous detective is back with a great set of mysteries as Frogwares’ Sherlock Holmes series just keeps getting better.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Survey finds fear, anxiety accompany forced Internet unplugging – It’s fairly common knowledge that Americans have a serious dependency on the Internet. But according to a new report released today by Tata Communications, that dependency is accompanied by some intense psychological and physical repercussions. In its “Connected World II” global survey, Tata Communications found that one in four Americans admit they wouldn’t survive more than five hours without using the Internet in their daily life, and more than half (54 percent) admitted feelings of fear, anger and anxiety when forced to unplug.

Bookstores, publishers sue to stop law against “revenge porn” – “Revenge porn” is a term that’s developed over the last few years to refer to the posting of nude images without the consent of those pictures. After a spate of publicity surrounding some of the bad actors in this business, several states have passed laws outlawing “revenge porn” and applying penalties. Now, a coalition of businesses and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a lawsuit (PDF) challenging the anti-revenge-porn laws. They’ve picked Arizona as their battleground. One of the lead lawyers on the case, Michael Bamberger, told the National Law Journal that Arizona’s law is “probably the most egregious,” because it has no requirement that the images even be malicious, and it could include images taken in a “commercial or public setting.” “This is a supposed revenge-porn statute that does not require revenge,” said Bamberger.

Cops suspect that alleged thieves monitored them with a drone – Pennsylvania authorities suspect that two men accused of stealing mobile phones were monitoring law enforcement. Local media reported Tuesday that when they were arrested last month, one of the two suspects was carrying a camera-equipped drone that police saw flying over the Upper Saucon Township’s police headquarters the day before the arrests.

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76 of 79 deceased NFL players’ brains had evidence of degenerative disease – New data from the United States’ largest repository of human brain samples has shown that an overwhelming majority of NFL players who submitted their brains for analysis after their death suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The Department of Veterans Affairs’ brain repository, based in Massachusetts, found that 76 of 79 former pro players had evidence of the condition, which can be caused by repeated head trauma.

Fascinating gif visualises the patterns of flight – A beautiful gif deconstructs the wing motions of a bat, a goose, a moth, a dragonfly and a hummingbird to reveal the looping patterns therein.

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Latest UK Study Reveals How Children Think Online and the Brands They Trust – The Office of Communications, commonly known as OfCom, the UK communication industry’s regulator and competition authority, recently released a report with Sherbert Research on children’s online behaviour, particularly how they think about and manage online risks and what sources online they trust. The purpose of the study is also to further understand how children display critical thinking online. In doing so, they aim to answer these two questions:

Something to think about:

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

-     William James

Today’s Free Downloads:

WSUS Offline Update 9.4.1 – WSUS Offline Update provides you with a secure way to update your operating system and Microsoft Office applications, creating a locally stored package that contains the latest patches and the most recent security updates. Thereby, you can use the downloaded files in order to perform system updates on any Windows machine in the absence of an Internet connection.

Focusing on functionality rather than looks, the application features a simplistic interface that only comprises a few options dedicated to customizing the downloading operation.

It supports various editions of the Windows operating system, namely Server 2003, XP, Visa, Server 2008, 2008 R2, Server 2012, 7, 8 and 8.1. As for the Office suite, it can download the latest updates for the 2007, 2010 or 2013 editions, in various languages.

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Ann Free Video Converter – Free easy to use and powerful video conversion tool from a leader in modern video compression. Almost all video formats can be converted. Ann Free Video Converter can freely convert all video formats to AVI, IPOD, PSP, MPEG, MOV, WMV, RMVB video files, and extract audio to MP3 files.

Features:

Super fast conversion speed and Video enhancement filters

User-friendly interface that is easy to use

Freely convert all formats to MPEG1/2 DVD,vcd,svcd

Freely convert all formats to PSP, IPOD

Freely convert all formats to mov

Freely convert all video formats to AVI/WMV/RMVB/Divx/Xvid

Convert video formats to popular MP3 audio files

Convert between all popular video formats including AVI, MPEG, WMV, MPEG1/2/4, MP4, DVD, VCD, SVCD, MOV, RM

Option to preview the video in real-time

High speed: Ann Video Converter includes Super Encode and Decode Engine, which is much faster than other encoding engines. It brings you an advanced and high speed converting experience. You do not need to wait hours and hours; it runs 300% – 500% real time speed.

High quality video and audio: All encoders/decoders are built in and video enhancement filters are included

Supports almost all popular format conversions

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US Attorney General latest to roast Apple, Google mobe encryption – Yet another US official has played the “think of the children” card, taking Apple and Google to task for implementing stronger encryption policies in their mobile platforms.

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said that child predators could use the encryption settings in mobile platforms to evade authorities and hide illegal images and content on their devices from law enforcement.

Holder, who didn’t list any companies by name, said that the new encryption policies were “worrisome” for law enforcement. Speaking to a meeting of the Global Alliance Conference Against Child Sexual Abuse Online, Holder stressed the idea of shutting down safe havens for child predators.

“We would hope that technology companies would be willing to work with us to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information in the course of an investigation, such as catching kidnappers and sexual predators,” Holder said.

#HeyASIO: Twitter hits back at new terror laws in Australia – A move to grant Australia’s security agency broad new powers has not scared the internet, with Twitter users mocking the changes mercilessly.

Last night, the Senate passed new laws to grant the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) power to, essentially, monitor the entire country’s internet usage with only one warrant.

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman and barrister Greg Barns has slammed the laws, saying the spy agency could do “an enormous amount under one warrant”.

Australia has no specific laws that protect privacy, so innocent people who may be monitored have “very little by way of redress in legal terms”.

Mr Barns told news.com.au the law had been drafted in “such a shoddy way” as to allow the agency to spy on as many as five million Australians with one warrant.

“Effectively it’s zero for the internet user and 10 for ASIO. We think it’s of enormous concern,” he said. The internet has hit back in its own way, with the hashtag #HeyASIO trending in Australia. (recommended by Mal C.)

Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression? – According to most of the broadsheets, if there is a Conservative government after the next General Election, the European Court of Human Rights will no longer be able to overrule British courts.

Under plans unveiled today at the Conservative Conference, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is expected to state that a future Conservative government will introduce laws ensuring that human rights cases are determined by Britain’s Supreme Court and not judges sitting in Strasbourg.

This is the Conservative response to an agonised cry: “Who will rid me of that troublesome law?” (and replace it with… well, we don’t know yet).

The dangers of this approach can be considered by reference to the DNA database and the case of Marper v UK, which provides a timely example of Mr. Grayling’s policy at work. This case was considered by the House of Lords, which judged that there was no human rights breach if the police indefinitely retained personal data that represented the DNA profile of a data subject – even when the data subject had not been found guilty of an offence.

The House of Lords judgment was overturned unanimously by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in S and Marper v UK; it was a 17-0 victory for Marper. This has resulted in the changes in UK law identified in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and now the DNA database focuses on the guilty.

However, if Mr. Grayling’s proposed policy of preventing appeals to the ECHR were in place, then DNA on the innocent would still be stored on police databases. It is as simple as that.

Hong Kong protesters side step censors with mesh networks – Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’re likely aware of the massive protests taking place in Hong Kong. What you might be less aware of is the effort being put in to keeping afloat despite censorship efforts: the protestors have started using mesh networks to get around attempts to shut them down.

FireChat has been used in some protests in the past, but has seen its first massive-scale use during the Hong Kong protests, with users taking advantage of the service to get around blocked and overloaded networks. It works in much the same way a protest does — every device becomes a little piece of the overall network, and the more devices near each other using it, the stronger the network grows.

The Central region of Hong Kong has remained full despite police attempts to prod the protesters away, including violent measures like tear gas. Umbrellas have had an iconic presence in the protest, earning it the term the Umbrella Revolution. In light of its failed efforts, the Chinese government has taken to censoring media outlets.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 30, 2014

Make your cloud safer: How to enable two-factor authentication;  Why Americans expect privacy: An open letter to FBI Director James Comey;  Use Google’s security settings to keep your account safe;  ASUS unveils new VivoMini PC, starts at $149;  GlassWire review: Free network security tool;  HP Plunges Downmarket With A $99 Windows Tablet;  How to use the Google Software Removal tool in Windows;  Spyware executive arrested, allegedly marketed mobile app for “stalkers”;  Apple accused by the EU of taking illegal tax aid;  You can now play Minecraft on your watch;  Study shows we’ll give up our children for free WiFi;  SAM: A DIY Internet of things;  Game consoles most widely used video streaming devices in US;  California cops don’t need warrants to surveil with drones;  Windows Inspection Tool Set (free).

Why Americans expect privacy: An open letter to FBI Director James Comey – Balancing liberty and security is one of the great challenges of this century. In this open article to FBI Director James Comey, ZDNet Government’s David Gewirtz explain why Americans demand both.

Make your cloud safer: How to enable two-factor authentication for the most popular cloud services – Step-by-step instructions to help you tighten security and dramatically reduce the risk that crucial cloud services will be compromised. If you use a Microsoft or Google account, Office 365, Dropbox, Facebook, or Twitter, keep reading.

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

Facebook’s new ‘Atlas’ ad platform will follow us around on non-Facebook sites – Facebook’s new ‘Atlas’ ad platform will follow us around on non-Facebook sites. The ad technology will enable Facebook partners to siphon user data from Facebook’s deep, deep sea and use it to super-target ads at users on and off its website, no matter what wireless or wired device we’re using.

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Getting started with canned responses in Gmail – Canned responses in Gmail lets you compose replies to common messages you may receive, and saves them for future use. In just a few clicks, you can insert one of your pre-written replies, allowing you to tackle the messages that you might normally read and forget to answer when you have a free moment. Here’s how to use Gmail canned responses.

How to remove the Windows shortcut arrow from desktop icons – Shortcuts point to files–usually but not always programs–that are stored elsewhere on your drive. If you drag and drop a program from the Start menu to the desktop, you create a shortcut to the original program. To make it clear that it’s a shortcut and not the original file, Windows displays an arrow in the lower-left corner of the icon. If you don’t like the arrows, you can turn them off by editing the Windows Registry. But William asked for a safe solution, so I’m offering an easier, less dangerous way to make the change.

5 reasons why Ello isn’t the second coming of Facebook – Ello is not the revelatory social network that will finally kill Facebook. It’s a fledgling site with plenty of potential, but Ello won’t be able to coast on the ability to use pseudonyms and its lack of ads for long. The network needs to make five drastic improvements to prove it’s more than just a flash in the pan.

GlassWire review: This free network security tool tells all about your network traffic – Who is your computer talking to? Your browser isn’t the only application that’s sending data online. Your word processor might be phoning home; a file undelete utility might be talking to its mother ship, and even Windows’ own services may surprise you. These are not necessarily nefarious actions, but they’re worth knowing about. GlassWire is a free and beautiful utility that lays all of this bare.

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HP Plunges Downmarket With A $99 Windows Tablet, $199 Windows Notebook – The race to the bottom is back. Reminiscent of the netbook war of yesteryear, HP just followed Toshiba’s lead with a $99 tablet along with introducing a $199 Windows notebook. Expect to see these colorful devices at a department superstore near you. HP hasn’t revealed the specs powering these Windows 8 machines. That’s by design and as we’ve said for years, the spec is dead anyway. HP is clearly hoping to sell these devices on price alone although both include one year of Office 365 and 60 minutes of Skype calls each month.

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ASUS unveils new VivoMini PC, starts at $149 – This is considered a barebones PC which means you’ll have to provide a few of your own components to complete the package. In addition to the Celeron CPU, the VivoMini has a Gigabit Ethernet port (WiFi cards are supported), four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort out, 1/8″ audio out (headphones/PC speakers), SD Card slot, Intel HD graphics and two PCIe slots (one half length, one full length).  You’ll need to provide your own m-SATA SSD and RAM, to which the VivoMini will support up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 through two SO-DIMM slots.

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Adobe Brings Photoshop For Chromebooks To Its Education Customers – For the longest time, pundits said that Google’s Chromebook initiative wouldn’t amount to much because Chrome OS couldn’t run complex applications like Photoshop. Those pundits will have to find another example now, because starting today, Photoshop will run on Chrome OS and on Chrome for Windows (if you are an Adobe education customer).

GoPro’s New Entry-Level Hero Could Be The Category King – GoPro has a new lineup of Hero cameras, including the next-gen Hero4 with fancy 4K video features and touchscreen back displays, but the introduction of a new entry-level Hero today could be what brings the action camera category to the next level. The Hero is similar to the “White” tier of devices GoPro has sold until now, but it’s especially cut-rate at just $130, and packs features the competition just can’t match, like integration into a waterproof housing and automatic low-light shooting mode optimizations.

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How to use the Google Software Removal tool in Windows – Not sure if you have a malicious toolbar or extension messing with your settings? Check out this tool from Google to investigate what’s going on with Chrome.

SAM: A DIY Internet of things – Using Bluetooth modules and a drag-and-drop software builder, SAM is a kit that allows you to build almost anything you can dream up.

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10 things to know about the state of tech in education – Tech in education is facing several key challenges. As talk of the skills gap, and whether kids should be trained for jobs or broader skillsets like digital literacy gains steam, there are problems and solutions similarly gaining and losing ground. One point of consensus seems to be that there are going to be a lot of tech-based jobs in the future, and not enough people to fill them. And the education system needs to do a better job of stepping up to help groom more future tech workers. Here are 10 things you should know about tech and education, and how folks are looking toward preparing kids for that future.

Security:

Apple Just Patched The Shellshock Bug In OS X – While Apple was quick to proclaim that the “vast majority” of OS X users weren’t susceptible to the bug and that only users who’d tinkered with “advanced settings” needed to act, that doesn’t mean they want to leave the door open even a bit. They’ve just pushed a security patch for the bug, and you probably want to nab it sooner than later. The patch seemingly hasn’t made it into OS X’s built-in software update tool just yet, which just means you have to download it manually for now.

Spyware executive arrested, allegedly marketed mobile app for “stalkers” – The chief executive officer of a mobile spyware maker was arrested over the weekend, charged with allegedly illegally marketing an app that monitors calls, texts, videos, and other communications on mobile phones “without detection,” federal prosecutors said. “Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it’s a crime,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement. “Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim’s personal life—all without the victim’s knowledge.”

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No black art to the Blackphone’s quest for smartphone privacy – While the Blackphone is off to a lukewarm start, our hands-on with the privacy-protective, Android-based smartphone finds that it simplifies staying safe on the go.

Report: Crime-as-a-Service tools and anonymization help any idiot be a cyber-criminal – Almost any idiot with malicious intentions can jump into the cybercrime arena thanks to ‘Crime-as-a-Service’ tools that lower the entry barriers into cybercrime; wannabe cyber-criminals who lack technical expertise can simply buy the tools and skills needed. In fact, “Crime-as-a-Service business models” and anonymization have helped many traditional organized crime groups move to cybercrime, according to the 2014 Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (iOCTA) published today. It’s easy to do and difficult to be busted since “criminals in cyberspace do not need to be close to the crime scene, they might never even travel to the target country, and can attack a large number of victims globally with minimum effort and risk by hiding their identity.”

Company News:

Apple accused by the EU of taking illegal tax aid – Apple will soon be publicly accused by the European Commission of taking illegal tax aid via a special deal with the Irish government. The deal ensured Apple was paying less than 2% taxes.

Google faces accusations Search isn’t fair to all – To further combat Google’s long-reach with regard to search, a collective of smaller entities have taken up arms against them. A new website, Focus on the User, has been launched to convince European lawmakers that Google isn’t playing fairly. Rather than foster a free and open Internet search engine, the site claims Google is using it to their advantage.

Free Consumer Credit Monitoring Company Credit Karma Raises $75M, Now Valued At Over – A consumer-facing credit monitoring startup, Credit Karma, is now worth more than a billion dollars following a new round of funding. The company announced this morning it has raised an additional $75 million in growth funding from Google Capital, Tiger Global Management, and Susquehanna Growth Equity. The new round comes 8 months after its Series C – a time when Credit Karma’s user base increased by over 50%. The WSJ reported the $1 billion+ valuation this morning, and the company confirms it’s accurate.

Blackberry promises a second Passport, new ‘concept device’ – This is an interesting device — and that’s putting it mildly. Though many see the device as an edge-case scenario at best, it may be part of Blackberry’s plan to get back into our mindset, if not our pockets. The Passport may not be a one-off, either, as CEO John Chen suggests they’ll have another attention-grabber soon.

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Apple gives tours of testing facilities to assuage iPhone bending fears – Following media reports about “widespread” bending of its new flagship smartphone, Apple pushed back, giving tours of its iPhone testing facilities and facts about the spread of “Bendgate”.

Games and Entertainment:

Report: Game consoles most widely used video streaming devices in US – Last week, a Dallas-based market research firm published a report about American video-streaming habits, and its numbers told a story that we saw coming for years: Video game consoles have become the leading device category for video streaming app use.

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Netflix’s first original movie will be a sequel to ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ – Netflix has made original, exclusive TV shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black a major part of its content strategy over the last few years, and now the company has a new piece of the puzzle to unveil. According to Deadline and Variety, Netflix will release the sequel to Ang Lee’s surprise international hit martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at the same time as it hits movie theaters.

You can now play Minecraft on your watch – You know the phrase “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should”? That has basically become the motto of Android Wear. We’ve seen crazy full screen keyboards and full-on web browsers, but Corbin Davenport has taken things to a whole new level. With a little bit of tinkering and an APK sideload or two, Minecraft Pocket Edition is now running buttery smooth on this Android Wear watch, which opens the door to a whole new kind of crazy for this platform.

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Deviously Simply Strategy Game ‘ICE’ Lands on Android – Can a game created in only 48 hours be any good? It turns out, yeah, it can. ICE is a new game on Android (coming soon to iOS) that was created for the Ludum Dare, an online game jam that encourages developers to make a game in just one weekend. Piotr Wójcik conceived of ICE as a simple real-time strategy game, but it’s also oddly addictive.

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Samsung Courts Gamers With 27-Inch Curved Monitor – The 27-inch curved monitor includes a Game Mode to automatically adjust the action. The device sports a 1,920-by-1,080 display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 178-degree extra-wide viewing angle. It comes in at 24.54 by 14.40 by 2.34 inches, weighs just over 12 pounds, sits on a curved T-shape stand, and will connect to Macs as well as PCs.

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Leading ladies of gaming celebrated on Humble Bundle – Pay what you want for games like Lilly Looking Through, Ms. Splosion Man and The Cat Lady with female protagonists and help raise money for the Girls Make Games scholarship fund.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Study shows we’ll give up our children for free WiFi – When you’re logging into a public WiFi hotspot, do you read the terms and conditions? Probably not, but you’re not alone. While it’s not clear what percentage of people aren’t reading the fine print, quite a few Britons in London recently gave up their first-born child for free WiFi, all because they didn’t read the T&C when logging in.

John Oliver breaks down the United States’ troubling drone program – The US government has been continually criticized for how it operates its drone program, which is being used to kill militants in the Middle East using standards that are unclear and loose at best. The government’s unwillingness (or inability) to clarify all of this can make the entire situation fairly muddled, so this weekend John Oliver tried to trudge through it all. In the latest of his long and pointed segments, Oliver sorts out just how troubling the US drone program is. “When children from other countries are telling us that we made them fear the sky,” he says, “it may be time to ask some hard questions.”

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iPhone 6 Bendgate explained by confirmed fraud Uri Geller – There’s a magician in the wild this week who hopes to explain the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus bendgate incidents with talk of psychic energy. It’s Uri Geller, everyone’s favorite spoon-bender from the 1970s! He wants Apple to hire him to explain to the world that it wasn’t the hardware’s fault, but that of the energy of excitement in the air over the release of Apple’s newest smartphones.

Man staring at iPad causes airport evacuation – On Saturday morning, a man got off a plane at Sydney Airport in Australia and was so enchanted by the fascinating content on his iPad that he walked into a domestic terminal without bothering to go through security. This event was captured on CCTV and unnerved officials so much that they evacuated passengers.

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This is the chaos, captured by one flier, after a man with an iPad wandered past security without being screened.

Something to think about:

“There are a terrible lot of lies going around the world, and the worst of it is half of them are true.”

-     Sir Winston Churchill

Today’s Free Downloads:

DocFetcher – DocFetcher is an Open Source desktop search application: It allows you to search the contents of files on your computer. — You can think of it as Google for your local files. The application runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, and is made available under the Eclipse Public License.

Supported Document Formats:

Microsoft Office (doc, xls, ppt)

Microsoft Office 2007 and newer (docx, xlsx, pptx, docm, xlsm, pptm)

Microsoft Outlook (pst)

OpenOffice.org (odt, ods, odg, odp, ott, ots, otg, otp)

Portable Document Format (pdf)

EPUB (epub)

HTML (html, xhtml, …)

TXT and other plain text formats (customizable)

Rich Text Format (rtf)

AbiWord (abw, abw.gz, zabw)

Microsoft Compiled HTML Help (chm)

MP3 Metadata (mp3)

FLAC Metadata (flac)

JPEG Exif Metadata (jpg, jpeg)

Microsoft Visio (vsd)

Scalable Vector Graphics (svg)

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Windows Inspection Tool Set – Windows Inspection Tool Set (WiTS) provides list and detail views of various components and objects in a Windows system. WiTS also provides event monitoring and logging capability.

The Windows Inspection Tool Set (WiTS) slices a Windows system in multiple ways, providing you with flexible, cross-linked, filtered views into a Windows system. View operating system information, processes, services, users, network interfaces and connections, file shares, printers and more. Get notified of system resource status and events such as new network connections, process starts, service status and other system events.

Features:

Customizable list views show properties of objects in table form.

Flexible user-defined filters and sorting modes allow focusing on specific objects.

Change tracking to allow highlighting of changes or limiting display to only those objects whose properties have changed.

Property page views provide details about objects.

Supported object types include processes, services, CPU’s, modules, drivers, network connections and interfaces, disks, shares, users, groups, logon sessions and the windows event log.

Event monitor displays user-selectable events such as process starts, new network connections, system resource levels and more.

Optional logging of all events to a file.

Cross-linking of all objects, including events, for easy point-and-click navigation.

User command line for running external as well as internal commands.

A full Tcl console with access to the Tcl Windows API for advanced users.

Automatic startup and multifunction hotkey support for quick access.

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Gadwin PrintScreen – Gadwin PrintScreen is an easy to use utility that allows you to capture any portion of the screen, save it to a file, copy it to Windows clipboard, print it or e-mail it to a recipient of your choice.

There are several hotkey combos to choose from (PrintScreen is the default). Once you’ve chosen your favorite combo, head to the Destination tab and have the screen print out instantly, copy the capture to the clipboard, save it to a specific folder, or even send it through e-mail. You can perform full screen captures, or only capture a specific window.

There are also six different image formats to choose from, and each one can be resized. With all the customization capabilities, what more could you ask for?

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Ghost of Ronald Reagan Authorizes Most NSA Spying – U.S. intelligence agents have broad authority to spy on U.S. companies as long as they are “believed to have some relationship with foreign organizations or persons” — a description that could conceivably apply to any company with foreign shareholders, subsidiaries, or even employees—according to newly released government documents published this morning by the ACLU.

The trove, which includes documents from the NSA, Department of Justice, and Defense Intelligence Agency, confirms long-standing suspicions that the bulk of U.S. foreign surveillance operations are governed not by acts of Congress, but by a 33-year-old executive order issued unilaterally by President Ronald Reagan.

The documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School, and they detail the extent of the order — which is extraordinarily broad and until recently largely obscure — and which underpins expansive U.S. surveillance programs, like siphoning internet traffic from Google and Yahoo’s overseas data centers, recording every call in the Bahamas, and gathering billions of records on cellphone locations around the world.

Ferguson officials charging “exorbitant” fees to provide e-mails to press: AP says the tactic keeps public-interest documents from seeing the light of day – On Monday the Associated Press wrote that officials in Ferguson, Missouri have been charging exorbitant fees to turn over public records like e-mails and texts from city officials. The informational paywalls come in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, that spurred weeks of protests in the St. Louis suburb.

The AP notes that charging high fees for public records is a tactic that some government agencies use to discourage journalists and activists from discovering unflattering or problematic information. Officials in Ferguson have said that forwarding certain e-mail and text messages requires expensive IT analysis, despite the fact that public records laws in Missouri maintain that public access to government records should be provided at little to no cost.

“Ferguson told the AP it wanted nearly $2,000 to pay a consulting firm for up to 16 hours of work to retrieve messages on its own e-mail system, a practice that information technology experts call unnecessary,” the AP wrote on Monday. “The firm, St. Louis-based Acumen Consulting, wouldn’t comment specifically on Ferguson’s contract, but said the search could be more complicated and require technicians to examine tape backups.”

In another incident, the AP says that the city of Ferguson billed the news organization $135 per hour for a whole day’s work to recover “a handful of e-mail accounts since the shooting.” Conversely, the Washington Post was quoted fees of at least $200 to receive “city officials’ e-mails since Aug. 9 discussing Brown’s shooting, citizen complaints against Ferguson officers, and Wilson’s personnel file.” Ferguson city officials quoted Buzzfeed “an unspecified thousands of dollars” to pull “e-mails and memos among city officials about Ferguson’s traffic-citation policies and changes to local elections.”

California cops don’t need warrants to surveil with drones – California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have required the police to obtain search warrants to surveil the public with unmanned drones.

Brown, a Democrat facing re-election in November, sided with law enforcement and said the legislation simply granted Californians privacy rights that went too far beyond existing guarantees. Sunday’s veto comes as the small drones are becoming increasingly popular with business, hobbyists, and law enforcement.

“This bill prohibits law enforcement from using a drone without obtaining a search warrant, except in limited circumstances,” the governor said in his veto message (PDF). “There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill’s exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution.”

At least 10 other states require the police to get a court warrant to surveil with a drone. Those states include Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

As Slate described it, “California’s drone bill is not draconian. It includes exceptions for emergency situations, search-and-rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. It allows other public agencies to use drones for other purposes—just not law enforcement.”

The widespread acceptance of drones has even caught the attention of a member of the US Supreme Court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said two weeks ago that she was concerned over a lack of unified privacy standards concerning drones.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 29, 2014

Fraud shop OVERSTOCKED with stolen credit cards;  The best way to completely wipe your Android device;  A Windows 8.1 mini-tablet for $81;  Back up your iPhone photos: Eight affordable (or free) cloud options;  Here’s How Much Access Facebook Employees Have to Your Account;  5 tips for Google Voice in Hangouts on Android;  Post-it Notes Get Digitized In A Clever New App From 3M;  Are you ready for 64-bit Android?  Free Windows 9 Upgrades for Windows 8 Users?  How to change notification sounds on your Android phone;  Here are October’s free Games with Gold;  Yet another case of malvertising on The Pirate Bay;  U.S. Tops Yahoo’s List of Government Data Requests;  Display Driver Uninstaller (free);  BlackBerry’s Passport smartphone selling out;  Intel investing $1.5 billion in two Chinese chip firms;  Will that game play on your PC? Can You Run It tells you.

Fraud shop OVERSTOCKED with stolen credit cards – Infamous carding store Rescator.cc is so chock-full of stolen credit cards from recent high-profile breaches that it’s gutting its prices due to overstocking. The fire sale makes a mockery of the security in place at some of the world’s biggest retailers, many of which have in recent months been invaded by hackers who have made off with many millions of customer credit cards.

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The best way to completely wipe your Android device – A study from security software vendor Avast has suggested that the factory reset option built into the Android operating system isn’t effective in eradicating your personal data from old devices. The firm purchased 20 used Android smartphones on eBay and was able to recover more than 40,000 photos, 750 emails and text messages, and 250 contacts, along with the identities of four of the previous device owners, and even a completed loan application. To make matters worse, Avast employees were using readily available data recovery software to get the job done.

Back up your iPhone photos: Eight affordable (or free) cloud options – Even new handsets can break or go missing. Safeguard your precious photos with easy-to-use cloud services that deliver massive amounts of storage for low or no cost.

5 tips for Google Voice in Hangouts on Android – Now that Google has finally rolled Voice into the existing Hangouts app, there are a few settings you may want to adjust for a better calling and texting experience.

Want to Bend Your New iPhone? Apply 70–90 Pounds – Consumer Reports recently put the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and a handful of other competing smartphones to the test—a will-it-blend bit of destruction, if you replace a crazy-powerful blender with a big device that’s designed to test just how much pressure these smartphones can take before they give out.

Microsoft rolls out Groups feature to Office 365 users, but only on the web – If you’ve been trying to figure out out how to better work collaboratively with coworkers, Microsoft has a new tool for Office 365: Groups. But right now, it’s only for those using Microsoft’s Office 365 web apps.

The 64-bit Android question – Are you ready for 64-bit Android? Jack Wallen shares the information that’s important to those interested in jumping on the newest bandwagon to hit the Android trail.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Forget ‘airplane mode,’ devices are OK’d for inflight use in Europe – Airline passengers traveling on European airline flights will be able to leave their mobile phones and other gadgets on throughout the entire flight, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said Friday. European airlines can allow any kind of electronic devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones to remain switched on for the entire trip without having to use the airplane mode. Switching to airplane mode was mandatory until now.

PiPO unveils the W4: a Windows 8.1 mini-tablet for $81 – Microsoft has been working with its hardware partners around the world to bring Windows devices to the very lowest price points, and in recent weeks, many examples of its efforts have been unveiled. But prices still haven’t reached rock-bottom yet, as Chinese manufacturer PiPO has shown with the unveiling of its latest Windows 8.1 tablet, the W4. The new device is officially a “concept” for now, but the company says it has been working with Intel on making it a production reality, and claims that at 499 CNY ($81 USD / £50 GBP), it will be the “most affordable Win8 tablet” so far.

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Vine update adds needed features for Android – Unlike Hyperlapse, Vine is giving Android some attention. An update rolling in today brings some iOS features with it, like the ability to choose videos from your device, and edit multiple videos down to a six-second clip. All in all, the update should make you want to use Vine much more.

Post-it Notes Get Digitized In A Clever New App From 3M – 3M should be applauded for doing more than throwing out some lame alternative to using your phone’s camera to snap photos of Post-it’s, slapping the brand name on it and calling it a day. Instead, the Post-it Plus app, as it’s called, is surprisingly clever. You can use the app to capture a photo of up to 50 square Post-it Notes at one time. These are then identified with little checkmarks on top of each note. Before creating your digital board, you can uncheck the notes you don’t want to save. After the image is captured, you have a viral Post-it board where you can arrange, refine and re-organize the notes just by tapping and dragging them around with your finger.

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Meet Ello, an ad-free social network that’s proudly pro-privacy (but with caveats) – A new social network is generating buzz for its hard stance against paid advertising and data collection. But how the site really works, when it comes to privacy, is a little more nuanced. Ello is open on an invite-only basis, so you’ll need to know someone who’s already in the club to get in straight away. Tens of thousands of people are on the waiting list, according to the site, and only small batches of people are being let in at a time.

Kano Ships Its First 18,000 Learn-To-Code Computer Kits, Fueled By $1.5M Kickstarter – Kano Computing, a startup that plays in the learn to code space by adding a step-by-step hand-holding layer atop the Raspberry Pi single-board microcomputer to make hacking around with code and learning about computational thinking child’s play, has shipped all the hardware kits in its first batch of crowdfunded orders and pre-orders.

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Free Windows 9 Upgrades for Windows 8 Users? – Microsoft is widely expected to introduce its Windows 9 operating system at an event in San Francisco next Tuesday and rumors have been flying about what we can expect from the successor to Windows 8. The source behind the latest rumor? As spotted by BGR on Saturday, Indonesian tech site Detik earlier this week quoted Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Diantoro as saying that “the Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it’s released.”

How to change notification sounds on your Android phone – How often have you been in a public place and heard a phone notification ding nearby, and reached for your own pocket, only to find out that it wasn’t from your phone? Spare yourself the unnecessary confusion and change your default ringtone and notification tone to something different.

Security:

Safe from Shellshock: How to protect your home computer from the Bash shell bug – Yeah, it sounds bad. But really, the impact on you at home should be minimal, especially if you take some basic precautions. Windows systems aren’t vulnerable whatsoever—though your router may very well be—unless you’re running a program like Cygwin.

Credit card breach that hit Jimmy John’s is larger than originally thought – Signature Systems says the breach of its point-of-sales system that hit 216 Jimmy John’s sandwich shops is actually 50 percent larger than originally thought. The company said Friday that an additional 108 restaurants that use its payment terminals were also hit. The additional locations are independent restaurants not part of the Jimmy John’s chain.

Here’s How Much Access Facebook Employees Have to Your Account (Answer by Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer at Facebook, on Quora) – I’m Facebook’s Chief Security Officer and I oversee data security at the company. Thanks for the question. We take our role as stewards of people’s information very seriously and have invested heavily in protecting the data trusted to us.

Yet another case of malvertising on The Pirate Bay – The Pirate Bay is famous for its tumultuous relationship with copyright advocates and law enforcement. And yet, despite police raids and numerous trials, the torrent site is still going strong with a new infrastructure, as detailed in a recent article published by Torrent Freak. From a security standpoint, The Pirate Bay has been involved in notorious malvertising attacks, most likely resulting in a large number of infections given the site’s high traffic.

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Ex-con Kevin Mitnick now selling zero-day exploits, starting at $100K – He says his firm will carefully screen potential clients and that he’d never sell to an entity such as the Syrian regime or a criminal gang. Then again, he’s not asking what clients intend to do with the high-end exploits.

Company News:

Report: Google taking tighter control of Android – Android is open source software, but if you want to run Google’s version of it, there are rules. Now it sounds as if those rules are getting a bit more stringent, as Google aims to tighten their grip on the platform just a bit. A new report details just how much more Google your Android handset might be.

Softbank in talks to buy Dreamworks Animation – Japan’s Softbank is in talks to acquire Dreamworks Animation, The Hollywood Reporter said late Saturday citing a source. The Wall Street Journal later reported the same news citing “people familiar with the matter.” Following a $32 per share offer from Softbank, the Dreamworks Animation board held an emergency meeting on Thursday, said The Hollywood Reporter. It said Nikesh Arora, a former Google executive and now head of the recently formed Softbank Internet and Media, met with Dreamworks on the offer.

Microsoft to open its “first flagship store” on New York’s Fifth Avenue – As The Wall Street Journal reports, Microsoft has been working on the launch of its NYC store for the last five years. David Porter, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s retail stores, told the Journal: “As our first flagship store, it will serve as the centerpiece of our Microsoft Stores experience. This is a goal we’ve had since day one – we were only waiting for the right location. And now we have it.” Microsoft intends for the new location to be “much more than just a Microsoft Store”, including an “experiential space” that will allow customers to do more than simply browse products on shelves.

Comcast seeks to fix awful customer service, admits “it may take a few years” – After months of getting bashed for treating customers poorly, Comcast today said it’s going to make improving customer service its “number one priority.” But the company admitted that “it may take a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we’re known for.”

Pointing up  This past week I bumped up my broadband connection from 20 Mbps to 55 Mbps with my Internet service provider – Cogeco – which, it was agreed, would be implemented within 24 hours of ordering the change. The reality was somewhat different. After a necessary 3 follow up phone calls over 3 days = mission accomplished. 

No big deal right? Except, this transaction followed the exact pattern of  my previous speed bump up requests. In other words, in an 8 year period, 3 speed bump up requests had to be followed by persistent calls to insure compliance.

To sooth the savage beast in me, an offer of “first month free” was made and accepted. Still…

One mistake = it happens.

Two additional identical mistakes = a systemic problem.

Even so, with 10 years, or more, of outstanding customer service from these folks (minus these 3 anomalies) – Cogeco is still tops.

BlackBerry’s oddball Passport smartphone is actually selling out – BlackBerry never intended for the Passport to be a phone that everyone would want to buy, but it’s clearly got a lot of people excited. It’s already sold out at two online stores and has taken the number one spot in Amazon’s unlocked phones listing. Maybe it really is that weird square screen. Reviewers have been saying how good desktop websites look on it and how awesome the extra space is for productivity apps. BlackBerry was aiming the Passport at hard-working business types, and so far it looks like the hit the mark.

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Intel investing $1.5 billion in two Chinese chip firms – Intel is investing 9 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in two Chinese chip companies with an eye to boosting its presence in the country’s booming mobile phone market. The two fabless semiconductor companies develop mobile chipset platforms for smartphones, feature phones and other consumer electronics products, which support 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards, Intel said Friday.

Games and Entertainment:

Here are October’s free Games with Gold – First up, if you’re an Xbox One user you’ll be getting free access to Chariot, a new indie platformer game, with some very cute graphics. The game is part of ID@Xbox, the indie segment in the Xbox Store, and give you 25 levels of co-op “physics based gameplay”. Chariot has an ERP of $15, but if you’re a Gold subscriber you’ll get if for free.

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Will that game play on your PC? Can You Run It tells you – PC gaming rocks—but figuring out whether the latest game will even run on your system can be a pain. You already know the answer to the question if you have a dedicated gaming rig, but for anyone looking for gaming thrills on their standard issue laptop, things aren’t quite so simple. Finding the answer can be easy, though. Rather than digging through spec lists to try and figure out whether you’ve got a suitably beefy graphics card or processor, get some quick automated advice from the long-running website Can You Run It.

Review of CastleStorm: Definitive Edition for Xbox One – Zen Studios has released CastleStorm, an RTS/Action/Strategy mashup, for the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, so we take a look at whether you should storm the castle or walk on by to something else.

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Ryse: Son of Rome on PC adds 4K resolution, removes microtransactions – Crytek is treating Ryse: Son of Rome on PC like a Game of the Year edition that builds on the Xbox One release. That means as well as the base game Crytek has also included all four DLC packs that were released for the console version. So you get 12 new multiplayer maps, a new Survival Mode, and five skins for your character.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

A Wearable Drone That Launches Off Your Wrist To Take Your Selfie – “Oh man, this would make a great picture. I wish there was someone else here to take our picture for us so we didn’t have to take a selfie!” Has this ever happened to you? Of course it has. You’re a human being in the 21st century who reads tech blogs. The Nixie aims to solve that. It’s, as crazy as it feels to type this, a wearable selfie drone. A flying wristband, with a camera built in. When you’re ready for your close-up, it launches off your wrist, reorients to frame you in the shot, and then hovers back over for you to catch it. The bad news? It’s… still pretty conceptual. They have a long way to go (this thing looks about as fragile as can be right now) — but even as a concept, it’s damned cool.

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Classical musicians honor ‘Batman’ history with an incredible music video journey – The Piano Guys are probably having more fun than anyone else in the classical music business. The group — composed of a pianist, cellist, a videographer, and a music producer — has just released a music video that celebrates nearly 50 years of Batman. The video perfectly matches the group’s new “Batman Evolution” composition, which travels through the classic ‘60s TV show, Tim Burton’s 1989 take on the Dark Knight, and Christopher Nolan’s most recent trilogy. The result is not just some impressive piano and cello work (the two instruments alone were used to make every sound in the composition), but a music video that displays some incredible attention to detail.

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Using new Corvette’s valet-recording tech could be a felony in some states – Over the past few months, General Motors and its Chevrolet dealerships have been selling the 2015 Corvette with an interesting feature called Valet Mode. Valet Mode records audio, video, and driving statistics of the person in the driver’s seat when the driver isn’t around, thus keeping low-life valets from being too loose with their filthy mitts while inside a Corvette owner’s fancy car. Trouble is that in a handful of states, using Valet Mode might be considered a felony.

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Device allows completely paralysed rats to walk again – By electrically stimulating the severed part of the spinal cord, scientists are able to precisely control in real-time the limbs of a paralysed rat — and human trials are on the way.

As much as half the water on Earth is older than the sun – Earth is a very wet planet — the abundance of water is what sets our planet apart and makes life possible, but where did it all come from? A new study makes the claim that 30% to 50% of the water we’re drinking is older than the Sun itself. It kind of boggles the mind, but the models are consistent with what we know of the early solar system and how stars form.

See Which Parts of the Country Have the Most iPhone Users – Ever wonder if you live in iPhone country or Android country? Wonder no more: The blue areas of this map shows you the parts of the country where people are most likely to own an iPhone, whereas red areas denote Android fandoms. iPhone strongholds bracket the east and west coasts and grow patchy towards the nation’s interior. States like Texas, Oklahoma and New Orleans leaning heavily Android outside major cities, whereas California, New York and New Jersey have heavy iPhone-using populations.

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Something to think about:

“Competence, like truth, beauty and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder.”

-     Laurence J. Peter

Today’s Free Downloads:

Display Driver Uninstaller – Display Driver Uninstaller is a graphics driver removal tool that helps remove all remnats of AMD, NVIDIA and Intel graphics card drivers including old registry keys, files, folders and driver stores.

Intel, AMD and Nivdia drivers can normally be uninstalled with the Windows Uninstall Programs window. However, often the standard uninstall fails or does not completely delete the old video card drivers. This can cause issues installing new / updated drivers.

After running Display Driver Uninstaller the program will make it as if you are about to install a new video driver on a fresh, clean install of Windows.

Display Driver Uninstaller makes many system changes and the author has wisely built in a function to help you remember to create a new system restore point before running the cleaner so you can revert your system if have problems. However, make sure you familiarize yourself with how to use system restore prior.

So if you having issues installing a new driver or uninstalling an old one, Display Driver Uninstaller may do the trick for you.

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CCEnhancer - CCEnhancer is a small tool which adds support for over 1,000 new programs into the popular program CCleaner. The tool uses the winapp2.ini system built into CCleaner to easily add new rules and definitions for programs. The rules were sourced mainly from the Piriform Support Forum, with several sourced from other places around the internet.

Instructions:

The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program, but is instead downloaded by the program. Simply press ‘Download Latest’ and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.

Editor’s Note:

The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program. Simply press “Download Latest” and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft Discloses New Data On Government Requests For User Information – Microsoft today disclosed data concerning global government request for its users’ data, and information about their accounts in the first half of 2014. The total number of requests, and the number of accounts impacted were similar to the six month period that concluded 2013.

In total, between January and June of this year, 34,494 requests were sent to Microsoft, impacting 58,562 accounts. In the preceding six months, 35,083 requests dealt with 58,676 accounts. The United States, Germany, France, and Turkey were the leading request sources.

Microsoft is granting data less often:

Of law enforcement requests received, less than 3 percent resulted in disclosure of customer content data, while approximately 75 percent of requests resulted in disclosure of “non-content” data. Meanwhile, 22 percent were either rejected on legal grounds or no data was found, compared to 18 percent for the preceding six-month period.

The company also reported that the number of FISA orders that it received in the period landed between zero and 999. Between 18,000 and 18,999 accounts were potentially impacted.

The above data, of course, is only part of what governments around the world manage to extract about us without having to ask permission. Over the past year and a half, we, the global public, have learned extensively about governmental overreach into our data. Those disclosures, led by the leaks sourced to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have caused calls reform to sound out not only from the public, but also from some organs of government.

That technology companies can report the above has been struggle enough. It is not enough.

U.S. Tops Yahoo’s List of Government Data Requests – Yahoo today issued its latest transparency report, covering National Security Letters (NSLs), criminal data government data requests, and government removal requests it received in the first six months of 2014.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests are subject to a six-month delay so the available FISA data covers July 1 – Dec. 31, 2013. Data from the first half of 2014 will be revealed in the next report.

“At Yahoo, our users always come first,” general counsel Ron Bell wrote in a blog post, citing the company’s recent effort to secure from the government 1,500 pages of once-secret documents detailing Yahoo’s challenge to the expansion of surveillance laws.

“We are still pushing for the FISC to release additional materials from this case,” Bell said.

In the meantime, the bulk of the Web company’s data requests between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2014 came from the U.S., which made 6,791 government requests for user data covering 12,533 accounts. Of those disclosures, 1,396 involved user content, while 4,240 did not. Yahoo rejected 382 requests, while no data was found regarding 773 requests.

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Anatomy of a Non-Denial Denial – The non-denial denial is an art that takes many forms in official Washington.

The basic idea is that when you or your organization are accused of doing something that you did in fact do, you respond with what sounds like a denial, but really isn’t.

You issue a very narrowly-crafted denial involving a lot of hairsplitting, while avoiding the central claim. Or you dismiss the accusation as unworthy of response. Or you deny something else: You raise a straw man accusation and deny that; or – possibly best yet — you take advantage of a poorly worded question.

The press typically interprets it as a denial, and since you are a credible figure, it moves on.

And if the accusation against you is ever irrefutably proven, then you point out that you never really denied it. Since you didn’t technically lie, the press, again, moves on.

But the non-denial denial is fundamentally an act of deception.

So when and if the accused has to admit what they did publicly – i.e. by saying something to the effect of “I wasn’t lying because I carefully didn’t answer the real question” – they are de facto admitting that they were intentionally being deceitful. If they are public officials, that means they are admitting they betrayed their public trust.

CIA Director John Brennan had one of those moments last week.

Canada: Spy watchdog’s past oil ties spark concerns in civil liberties complaint case – A civil liberties group is objecting to Canada’s spy watchdog assigning Yves Fortier to investigate alleged spying on environmental activists, citing a conflict due to his former petroleum industry ties.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s lawyer has written to the Security Intelligence Review Committee asking that Fortier “recuse himself from any participation” in the matter since he once sat on the board of TransCanada Pipelines — the company behind the Keystone XL project.

Fortier, one of three review committee members, was recently appointed to lead an investigation into the association’s complaint that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service gathered and shared information about activists opposed to Canada’s energy policies.

The association filed the complaint with the review committee in February after media reports suggested that CSIS and other government agencies consider protests and opposition to the petroleum industry as possible threats to national security.

The complaint also cited reports that CSIS had worked with and shared information with the National Energy Board about so-called “radicalized environmentalist” groups seeking to participate in the board’s hearings on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would see Alberta crude flow to westward to Kitimat, B.C.

The groups included Leadnow, ForestEthics Advocacy Association, the Council of Canadians, the Dogwood Initiative, EcoSociety, the Sierra Club of British Columbia and Idle No More, the indigenous rights movement.

“None of these groups are criminal organizations, nor do they have any history of advocating, encouraging, or participating in criminal activity,” says the Feb. 6 complaint.

The CSIS Act is clear that “lawful advocacy, protest or dissent” cannot be regarded as threats to national security, the complaint adds.

Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights – The UK needs a digital bill of rights to protect citizens against the government’s “indiscriminate online surveillance”, world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee said on Saturday.

The Greatest Living Briton™ was speaking at the Web We Want Festival in London. He lobbied politicos in Blighty to take action in the run up to next May’s General Election.

“A trusted Web is crucial to the UK’s future – our tech sector has led the way out of recession, creating more jobs than any other industry in recent years,” Berners-Lee said.

“A Britain in which people no longer trust the Web as a safe and private place will be a Britain that is less free, less creative and ultimately less prosperous.

China blocks Instagram to stop spread of pro-democracy protest images – The nation of China is no stranger to internet censorship; in addition to the infamous Great Firewall of China, which has claimed numerous victims over the years — most recently the privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo — the country has also repeatedly cracked down on the free dissemination of information at opportune times.

This time around, photo sharing site Instagram has reportedly been blocked across the mainland in another opportune strike likely intended to prevent the spread of images from Hong Kong’s recent wave of pro-democracy protests.

The block was first reported by Greatfire.org, an independent anti-censorship blog, at 3:00 AM China Standard Time on September 28. All of Instagram’s IP addresses are currently down, and anyone attempting to access the site in China receives an error page.

The block on Instagram comes during the largest day for protests, with nearly 60,000 citizens from Hong Kong taking to the streets and protesting in favor of what they call “full democracy,” a concept which likely doesn’t include the censorship of internet sites.

Russia wants Facebook, Google, Twitter to comply with censorship laws – The great historical bastion of freedom that is Russia is once again going back in time. The country is now requiring Internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google to store all Russian data locally, and to comply with censorship laws.

Comrade President Putin signed a law back in July that obliged all web services that are collecting data on Russian citizens to store said data in local datacenters. Of course this is not exactly good news for the likes of Twitter and Google who are storing data in much more open and democratic countries across Europe.

But this isn’t so bad. In light of recent revelations about the conduct of the NSA, GCHQ and others, many countries including the EU want their data to be stored locally and kept safe.

The grim part of the law is the part that follows: These Internet companies will have to, if they want to continue doing business in Russia, comply with the local censorship laws that require “bloggers” and other popular internet users to register with the government. They’d then be closely monitored to ensure that they don’t post “extremist calls”, hate speech, slander and obscene language – like criticizing Putin or calling for equal rights for the LGBT community.

There’s no confusion here: This is full-on state censorship and with the limitations imposed on foreign companies, it will be a lot easier to finally create a “Russian internet,” similar to what China has done to “protect” its citizens.

EU: This Is How We Would Improve Google’s Privacy Policy – Changes to Google’s privacy policy went into effect on March 1, 2012, but regulators in Europe are still pushing the search giant for changes. Now, they have outlined what Google can do to make its privacy policy more palatable to those across the pond.

The Article 29 Working Party, a collection of data protection agencies across the EU, released a six-page “list of possible compliance measures” this week that cover transparency, user controls, and data retention policies, including suggestions for making management tools more accessible.

On transparency, the EU wants Google to make its privacy policy “immediately visible and accessible,” so users don’t have to hunt around for it. If Google enters into any deals or acquisitions that affect this privacy policy, those changes must be clearly communicated. The EU also wants Google to avoid passive language (“we will” vs. “we may”), and all of this should be communicated in a “multi-layered approach” across Google services.

Meanwhile, “Google must provide users with more elaborate tools to manage their personal data and to control the usage of their personal data between all Google services,” the EU said. “This could be done by making the current dashboard more accessible (e.g. putting a link in the Google Profile popup) and to include all of Google services.”

Finally, Google must “define [its] retention policies” and keep EU data protection offices abreast of what’s going on.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 26, 2014

FBI: Apple’s iPhone, iPad encryption puts people ‘above the law';  Experts Say ‘Bash’ Bug Is a Major Vulnerability But Not a Major Threat;  How to do a “back to basics” security overhaul;  Laptop vs. tablets: how they compare for true productivity;  Amazon’s giving over $135 in paid Android apps away for free;  Switching from iOS to Android: The complete guide;  The 6 essential Windows software programs for any PC;  What’s the difference between LibreOffice and OpenOffice?  Send self-destructing social media posts with Xpire;  Latest Firefox and Thunderbird updates plug CRITICAL SSL vuln;  What You Need To Know About Shellshock;  Final announced ‘Titanfall’ DLC now available for Xbox One, PC;  Looking for Work? GameStop Announces Holiday Hiring Surge;  Angry Birds Transformers Set for October Launch; Junkware Removal Tool (free).

FBI director blasts Apple and Google for offering encryption – Is it illegal to encrypt the data on your phone? Most would say the answer is a clear no, but Apple’s recent announcement that the company won’t be able to decrypt user data in iOS 8 apparently has a lot of law enforcement figures spooked. Today at FBI headquarters, director James Comey told reporters he was concerned by the move. “I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the content of anyone’s closet or their smart phone,” Comey said. “The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened — even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order — to me does not make any sense.”

Experts Say ‘Bash’ Bug Is a Major Vulnerability But Not a Major Threat – The threat posed by the Bash bug—it could theoretically remotely command computers and extract private information—is overblown, cybersecurity experts told TIME. Average computer users aren’t likely to be directly targeted by hackers, experts said. And for the vulnerability to be triggered, the attacker would need to deliver content to the user, and then get the user to execute Bash with that content, according to Kindlund. Normal web browsing, emailing or other common activities do not involve calling Bash. What average users should be worried about are more traditional hacking techniques, like phishing emails and links to malicious websites, said John Gunn of VASCO Data Security.

Security begins at home – how to do a “back to basics” security overhaul on your family network – My wife recently went back to work after spending a considerable amount of time away to look after our children. With her work and home IT needs now converging on our family network, this got me thinking about security in a whole new way. For over a decade now I’ve been responsible for maintaining security resources and advising Sophos customers and partners about security best practices. While I practice what I preach, it occurred to me that my family doesn’t get the equivalent level of attention. The old adage about the cobbler’s kids came surging to mind. So here’s a checklist of what I did.

Amazon’s giving over $135 in paid Android apps away for free – From now through Saturday September 27, Amazon’s giving away 27 premium apps away for free as part of a fall deal—a bundle that would normally sell for $135 in total. There are some apps you’ll definitely want to check out in this latest pack, including the OfficeSuite Professional productivity suite (normally $15), Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro, and games like Riptide GP2, Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode II, and Threes! (Trese Brothers Software’s Heroes of Steel RPG is there too, and while I haven’t played that game yet, the Trese Brother’s Star Trader Android game utterly rocks.)

The 6 essential Windows software programs for any PC – PCWorld senior editor Brad Chacos wrote an excellent story about the best software for a new PC. But if we’re talking the barest minimum, anyone with a Windows PC really, absolutely must have a program in each of the categories below.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Laptop vs. tablets: how they compare for true productivity – When the Surface Pro 3 launched, Microsoft made a bold claim: This is the tablet that can replace your laptop. Really? We set out to test Microsoft’s assertion for not just the Surface Pro 3, but for all tablets. We looked at more than 700 tablets and 2,000 laptops, digging into the specs that make a difference, like RAM and storage, display size, battery, and connectivity.

Switching from iOS to Android: The complete guide – iPhone die-hards may find flipping to Android a ghastly proposition, but for the less committed — likely with older iPhones — cheaper and larger Android phones with 4G are a tempting option. Here are 13 tips to help make the move.

Create Android keyboard shortcuts for words that you use frequently – If you’re looking for a way to make typing on Android a bit more efficient, Jack Wallen shows you how to take advantage of shortcuts on the built-in keyboard.

‘Today Calendar’ App Gets Updated With Android L Style – As the release of Android L fast approaches, developers are rolling out updated designs that jive with Google’s new design philosophy. The latest app to get prepped is Today Calendar, a popular replacement for the official Google Calendar app that can do everything Google does and more.

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Instagram Lets You #Selfielapse By Adding Front-Facing Camera Option To Hyperlapse – Instagram’s first update to its timelapse app Hyperlapse will let you create mini-travelogues of your face hurtling through the world. Hyperlapse now lets you capture timelapses with the front-facing camera to create what Instagram calls a #Selfielapse.

Hands on with Seek Thermal, the snap-on camera that gives your phone Predator vision – Whether you’re a hunter in the woods or a frequent camper who often gets up in the middle of the pitch black night to go to the bathroom, there are gadgets out there that can help. Not all of them are as affordable as the Seek thermal camera, however. This little apparatus plugs in to your smartphone and turns your regular ol’ phone or tablet into a military-grade thermal camera—and it only costs $200. I got to spend a few days tinkering around with it and was sincerely impressed by its capabilities.

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Working with Windows 8.1’s Credential Manager – Whenever you respond to a prompt that essentially asks you if you want Windows or Internet Explorer to remember your password, the operating system will then store your user credentials in an encrypted file scheme know as the Windows Vault. The GUI front end for this vault is called Credential Manager, and it’s designed to allow you to easily view and manage your network-based logon credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords). In this article, I’ll introduce you to the Windows 8.1’s Credential Manager and explain how it works.

Send self-destructing social media posts with Xpire – This free iPhone app lets you schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr that will self destruct after a time period of your choosing.

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What’s the difference between LibreOffice and OpenOffice? – If you’ve ever wanted to know the major differences between LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice, Jack Wallen lays them out to help you make a choice.

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Google: Android Devs must respond to customers – If you’ve ever reached out to a Developer of an app and been ignored, you’ll like this update to the Play Store. Now, those Devs who have paid users reaching out to them must respond within three days of receipt of the email. Google is also making it easier for Developers to reach out across the pond and sell their wares in Europe.

Security:

Latest Firefox and Thunderbird updates plug CRITICAL SSL vuln – Mozilla Firefox needs patching urgently following the discovery that the open source browser is vulnerable to SSL man-in-the-middle attacks. The critical bug arises because the Network Security Services (NSS) libraries parser built into the browser is capable of being tricked into accepting forged RSA certificate signatures. Man-in-the-middle attacks create a means for attackers to impersonate a bank or webmail provider, tricking surfers into handing over logon credentials that can be relayed to the genuine organisation.

First attacks using ‘shellshock’ Bash bug discovered – Within a day of the Bash bug dubbed ‘shellshock’ being disclosed, it appears that attackers are already looking for ways to use it for their advantage. Security researchers have found proof of concept code that attempts to exploit the serious bug discovered this week in Bourne-Again Shell, also known as Bash, which according to US CERT affects both Linux and Mac OS X.

What You Need To Know About Shellshock – Another week, another massive security vulnerability which is almost a household name. How bad is it? Really bad. According to Matt Harrigan of PacketSled, “It’s really pretty astonishing how bad this bug is and how long it went unchecked. To be clear, the scale of impacted machines includes anything that runs bash. This includes a ton of consumer products, wireless routers, handheld phones, etc.” What do you need to know about Shellshock and what can you do to ensure your machines aren’t compromised? Read on.

Meet Wedg, Another Post-Snowden Personal Cloud Device – As you’d expect for a pro-privacy device, Wedg’s makers are trumpeting the security credentials of their private cloud. They’re using AES and XTS-AES to deliver 512bit encryption, there’s built-in key management, 2-factor authentication on its mobile app, SSL connections, and they’re managing shared content and keys using GPG/OpenPGP. Sensitive user data is also sandboxed away from any third party apps within a secure zone on the device to prevent outside services accessing encrypted content. The project is open source, although the code has not yet been opened up.

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Disgruntled employees are increasingly e-sabotaging businesses, FBI says – Employees with an axe to grind are increasingly sticking it to their current or former employers by carrying out “computer network exploitation and disruption”, the FBI says.

Company News:

Samsung has more employees than Google, Apple, and Microsoft combined – Samsung loves “big.” Its phones are big, its advertising budget is big, and as you’ll see below, its employee headcount is really big, too. Samsung has more employees than Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined. We dug through everyone’s 10-K (or equivalent) SEC filings and came up with this:

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Google responds to News Corp, but it settles nothing – Today, Google issued an open response to an open attack laid down by News Corp. In an open letter to the European Commission, News Corp explained why they feel Google has too much power over the Internet as we see it. In their open rebuttal, Google explains all the ways that’s just plain wrong.

DirecTV Shareholders OK AT&T Deal – DirecTV stockholders today voted almost unanimously to approve the company’s proposed merger with AT&T. The final results indicated more than 99 percent of votes cast were in favor of the deal, which is still subject to government regulatory review and approval. AT&T in May announced plans to acquire DirecTV in a deal worth $48.5 billion. The move, according to AT&T, will provide more customers with mobile, broadband, and pay-TV service bundles.

Europe’s watchdogs give Google a shopping list of how to sort out privacy – The Article 29 Working Party has given Google a bunch of recommendations on how to brings its unified privacy policy into line with European law.

Tech Firms Desert Powerful Right-Wing Group After Climate Change Spat – After Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Monday that the company would no longer support the group, which opposes environmental regulations and has said climate change could be “beneficial,” Yahoo, Facebook and Yelp all issued statements indicating that, for unspecified reasons, their memberships in the group would be allowed to expire. Microsoft had already quit the organization in August, according to the liberal group Common Cause which monitors ALEC, after a Boston-based investment group raised questions about the company’s support in light of ALEC’s opposition to federal renewable energy programs.

Games and Entertainment:

Final announced ‘Titanfall’ DLC now available for Xbox One, PC – The third and final announced map pack for “Titanfall” will be released for Xbox One and PC on Thursday, developer Respawn Entertainment has announced. IMC Rising, which consists of the maps Backwater, Sand Trap and Zone 18, will cost $10 when it releases Thursday, though it is also part of the first-person shooter’s $25 “season pass,” which includes two other map packs. The newest map pack was announced just last month, shortly after the second map pack, Frontier’s Edge, was released.

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Asphalt Overdrive Revs Up on Android and iOS – Asphalt is one of Gameloft’s flagship franchises, and there’s a new installment in the series out today on iOS and Android. However, Asphalt Overdrive is a startling departure from past Asphalt games. This one isn’t technically a racer, but more of an endless runner that plays like a racer.

Valve adds a music player to Steam, could a Steam Music service be next? – Did you think Steam was all about games? Think again. Valve has just rolled out a new update for the Steam client and it now acts as a music player, too. By integrating a music player directly into Steam, Valve has removed that hassle. Any soundtrack you purchase through Steam, or which automatically gets bundled with a game, is now instantly playable. But Valve didn’t stop there. If you navigate to Steam’s settings page you can add new directories of music, so Steam Music Player can be used to play all your music.

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Angry Birds Transformers Set for October Launch – Angry Birds Transformers hits iOS and Android devices next month, giving mobile gamers a chance to step into the explosive shoes of Michael Bay. In the latest iteration of Rovio’s popular video game, everyone’s favorite furious fowl are disguised as robots. But this time you’re on your own—no help from the likes of Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, or Josh Duhamel. Just you and your bird-slinging animated friends fighting the evil Deceptihogs (get it?).

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Hands-on: New Total War game takes on Attila the Hun – Total War: Attila puts players in the fifth century, attempting to rebuff Attila’s campaign of terror and stave off the Dark Ages. Or not. You can also play as any number of “barbarian” tribes, attempting to hasten the fall of both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires and claim Europe/Western Asia for your own people. I’m not sure whether you can actually play as Attila, though the way Creative Assembly phrased things it sounds like the answer is no—he’s merely a threat looming on the horizon.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

FAA approves drone use by Hollywood, sets precedent – The squabble between those who want to use drones for purposes considered commercial and the FAA, which is working diligently to stamp out all such usage until it gets its regulations ironed out, has taken a new turn. As of today, the agency has approved the commercial use of drones by Hollywood, with some limitations.

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Seatylock: Stash a foldable bike lock under your butt – Lately, designers have been putting a lot of thought into building a better bike lock. Clunky chains and hefty metal u-shaped locks are starting to look like relics when you compare them to bikes with handlebars that double as locks or bikes with whole frames that double as locks. Now you have the opportunity to pledge for a bike seat that contains a nifty, foldable lock.

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The Seatylock in action protecting a bike.

Was Facebook & OKCupid’s research treating users like guinea pigs illegal? – A Maryland law professor says Facebook and OKCupid did not get ‘informed consent’ from users before conducting psychological experiments, making the research both unethical and illegal.

In 2014, who decides to ban a gay website from in-flight Wi-Fi? – If you were gay and a recent passenger on American Airlines, you might have used in-flight Wi-Fi provided by Gogo just like any other customer. In the course of finding somewhere to stay before you land, you might have navigated to misterbnb.com, a version of Airbnb where customers looking for a place to stay can be guaranteed the hosts are gay-friendly. Rather than getting the site’s homepage, however, your browser would have kicked you to an interstitial page telling you the site had been censored by Gogo. The given reason would have been the site had been categorized as “adult-and-pornography.”

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WikiHouse open source project: fast and cheap homes – We’ve seen examples of low-cost 3D printed houses (and an unrelated castle), and while they’re all interesting, they are out of the reach of most prospective home buyers. That could change with WikiHouse, a project that aims to provide the public with plans for cheap homes that can be built in a matter of days.

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Looking for Work? GameStop Announces Holiday Hiring Surge – The world’s largest video game retailer on Thursday announced plans to hire approximately 25,000 employees nationwide as it prepares for the holidays. GameStop said that’s about 47 percent more seasonal hires than it took on last year. The company is currently recruiting for in-store “Game Advisors” to help handle the holiday activity, as well as around 250 consumer electronic technicians for its refurbishment operation center, and warehouse personnel for its distribution centers based in Grapevine, Texas and Louisville, Ky. Head over to the career section of GameStop’s website to see the open positions and apply.

Something to think about:

“The Internet poses one of the greatest threats to our existence”

-      Australian Senator Glen Lazarus

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

Ask Toolbar

Babylon

Blekko

Claro / iSearch

Conduit

Crossrider

DealPly

Delta

Facemoods / Funmoods

Findgala

Globasearch

Hao123

iLivid

Iminent

IncrediBar

MocaFlix

MyPC Backup

MyWebSearch

PerformerSoft

Privitize

Qvo6

Searchqu

Snap Do

Swag Bucks

Wajam

Web Assistant

WhiteSmoke

Zugo

And many more…

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Calibre – Calibre is a one stop solution to all your e-book needs. It is free, open source and cross-platform in design and works well on Linux, OS X and Windows.

calibre is meant to be a complete e-library solution and thus includes library management, format conversion, news feeds to ebook conversion, as well as e-book reader sync features and an integrated e-book viewer.

Library Management – calibre manages your e-book collection for you. It is designed around the concept of the logical book, i.e., a single entry in your library that may correspond to actual e-book files in several formats.

E-book conversion – calibre can convert from a huge number of formats to a huge number of formats. It supports all the major e-book formats. The full list of formats can be found here.

The conversion engine has lots of powerful features. It can rescale all font sizes, ensuring the output e-book is readable no matter what font sizes the input document uses. It can automatically detect/create book structure, like chapters and Table of Contents. It can insert the book metadata into a “Book Jacket” at the start of the book.

Syncing to e-book reader devices – calibre has a modular device driver design that makes adding support for different e-reader devices easy. At the moment, it has support for a large number of devices, the complete list of which is here. Syncing supports updating metadata on the device from metadata in the library and creation of collections on the device based on the tags defined in the library. If a book has more than one format available, calibre automatically chooses the best format when uploading to the device. If none of the formats is suitable, calibre will automatically convert the e-book to a format suitable for the device before sending it.

Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form – calibre can automatically fetch news from websites or RSS feeds, format the news into a ebook and upload to a connected device. The ebooks include the full versions of the articles, not just the summaries. calibre has over three hundred news sources and the news system is plugin based, allowing users to easily create and contribute new sources to calibre. As a result the collection of news sources keeps on growing!

Comprehensive e-book viewer – calibre has a built-in ebook viewer that can display all the major ebook formats. It has full support for Table of Contents, bookmarks, CSS, a reference mode, printing, searching, copying, customizing the rendering via a user style sheet, embedded fonts, etc.

Content server for online access to your book collection – calibre has a built-in web server that allows you to access your ebook collection using a simple browser from any computer anywhere in the world. It can also email your books and downloaded news to you automatically. It has support for mobile devices, so you can browse your collection and download books from your smartphone, Kindle, etc.

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Pointing up   Although I’m not a big user when it comes to downloading audio books from my library, I do so occasionally. This free application has proven to be invaluable in increasing my range of options.

World Of Tanks – World of Tanks is a team-based massively multiplayer online game dedicated to armored warfare in the mid-20th century. Throw yourself into epic tank battles shoulder to shoulder with other steel cowboys to dominate the world with tank supremacy!

You’re about to set foot into a world full of epic tank battles, furious skirmishes, and high-octane excitement. We’re talking, of course, about World of Tanks, the premier multiplayer game for armored warfare.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI: Apple’s iPhone, iPad encryption puts people ‘above the law’ – Presumably doors, locks and windows, too? – FBI Director James Comey has complained that Apple and Google’s use of stronger encryption in smartphones and tablets makes it impossible for cops and g-men to collar criminals.

“There will come a day – well it comes every day in this business – when it will matter a great, great deal to the lives of people of all kinds that we be able to with judicial authorization gain access to a kidnapper’s or a terrorist or a criminal’s device,” he apparently told a press conference.

“I just want to make sure we have a good conversation in this country before that day comes. I’d hate to have people look at me and say, ‘Well how come you can’t save this kid,’ ‘How come you can’t do this thing.'”

Apple has made great play of its tweaked file encryption in iOS 8, which is designed so that Apple doesn’t hold people’s crypto-keys so it can’t be forced to give them up. The device owner’s passcode is used to create the encryption and decryption key in the iThing; decrypting the contents of a person’s iOS 8 phone or slab is no longer Apple’s problem.

Shortly after the change was made public, Google said it too would switch on a similar system by default.

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is above the law,” Comey moaned today.

“What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

Comey said the FBI was in discussions with Apple and Google about their crypto implementations, but didn’t give any details as to what Cupertino and Mountain View’s response was. It’s clear he’s not happy that the Feds can no longer get direct access to the handsets via Apple or Google, although data in iCloud is still up for grabs.

Australia: ASIO powers to spy over the entire Internet pass the Senate – The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) will soon be able to monitor every device on the internet, and copy, delete, or modify the data held on those computers with just a single warrant, under massive new powers contained in the anti-terror legislation that passed the Senate overnight.

The amended National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 will now need to return to the House of Representatives in order to pass, but with a government majority in the House, its passage is assured.

The legislation now expands ASIO’s powers to gain access to an unlimited number of computers or networks with a single computer access warrant, disrupt target computers, and use third-party computers not targeted in order to access a target computer.

Legal experts and privacy advocates have warned that the vagueness of the legislation would allow ASIO to effectively monitor the entire internet.

In a marathon Senate debate last night, Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam had attempted to move a number of amendments restricting ASIO’s new powers, however, the government was able to rely on votes from the opposition Labor senators to defeat the amendments.

Ludlam warned that the legislation would give ASIO the power to tap every device.

“These warrants will allow ASIO, or those working for ASIO, to modify these computers, to delete files, to install malware, to seek higher levels of user access and to impersonate people — not only on a particular specified device but, as I think we have well and truly established, on any device that it is connected to or is considered to be in a relationship with,” Ludlam said.

“The physical equivalent is if ASIO served a warrant to enter a particular house for a legitimate reason that also allowed them to enter any other house in the street or any other house in the country, actually, completely arbitrarily.”

Australia: Senators’ ignorance isn’t bliss with new surveillance laws – “The internet poses one of the greatest threats to our existence,” said Senator Glen Lazarus on Thursday night. Hah! A former rugby player says something dumb, that’s always funny, right? No. This mix of ignorance, fear, and sometimes plain laziness infests so many of Australia’s lawmakers — and right now that’s dangerous.

The Senate was debating new national security laws for Australia. Those laws passed. They give the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) expansive powers to spy on all Australian internet users, and dramatically restrict freedom of the press.

As I read the transcript of the debate, what concerns me is not the passing amusement of Senator Lazarus, but how little effort was put into probing and challenging the government’s proposals more generally.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam was up for it, of course, as was independent Senator Nick Xenophon and, to a lesser extent, libertarian Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party.

But where was the sustained pressure from Labor, the chief opposition party? Oh that’s right, the “bipartisan approach to national security” meant that they’d already agreed to it.

Where was any technologically literate critique from anyone other than Ludlam?

Where, indeed, were the rest of the senators? “I cannot believe that here on a Thursday night this chamber is virtually empty and yet we have seen already tonight penalties increase from one to 10 years [in jail] for various things,” said Greens Senator Christine Milne.

“Incredibly draconian legislation is being passed, and the minister responsible either cannot or will not answer and is smug because the opposition is going along with it.”

The responsible minister, Australia’s favourite Attorney-General Senator George Brandis QC, was indeed smug.

When asked by Ludlam what kinds of things, specifically, ASIO would be empowered to do under a computer access warrant, Brandis’s reply was dismissive. “What ASIO would be empowered to do would be that which is authorised by the warrant, which is in turn governed by the terms of the act,” he said.

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