Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 10, 2014

The U.S. military is studying your Facebook and Twitter habits;  Leaked Yelp docs say Google is gaming search results;  Can You Really Buy an iPad for $1.10?  Apple Is Dumping Old iPhones for Cheap on eBay;  Finally, A Way To Find Movies Worth Watching On Netflix;  In sexting case, Virginia prosecutors want to photo teen’s erect genitalia;  Microsoft gives away nearly 300 free, tip-packed ebooks and resource guides;  The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition;  Microsoft Flight Simulator returns!  Roku beats Apple TV — again — on usage, purchases;  Cutting the cord: Why I kicked my cable TV company to the curb;  Download Avira Free Antivirus;  Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, get optional July updates.

The U.S. military is not-so-shockingly studying your Facebook and Twitter habits – The Guardian reported Tuesday that DARPA, the Defense Department’s research arm, has given millions of dollars to projects that examine activity on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Pinterest, and other social networks as part of its Social Media in Strategic Communication program. According to the newspaper, one of the studies involved sending messages to users to gauge their responses. DARPA even looked at Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber’s Twitter accounts to determine how messages spread across the network.

Can You Really Buy an iPad for $1.10? – Auction sites like QuiBids, uBid.com, HappyBidDay, and others might sound like they are magically underpriced versions of eBay, but they’re not traditional auctions. Rather, they’re penny-auction sites, a hybrid of auctions and gambling. On penny-auction sites, bids cost money and that money is gone whether or not you win. If that sounds a lot like gambling, more than a few have sued claiming that very thing.

Apple Is Dumping Old iPhones for Cheap on eBay – If you move quickly and don’t mind older technology, you can buy an unlocked iPhone 5 from Apple for a lot less than its asking price. As AppleInsider points out, Apple is currently selling “Certified Pre-Owned” iPhone 5 models on eBay. The 16 GB version, in either white or black, is selling for $449, which is $200 off the original price. That’s also $100 cheaper than the current iPhone 5c, which has nearly identical tech specs.

Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 get optional July updates – During the recent Patch Tuesday, which took place on 8th July, Microsoft patched two critical bugs and as many as 29 vulnerabilities, out of which 24 were related to Internet Explorer alone. Now, Microsoft has announced a few updates to address issues in their latest operating systems. Some of the issues covered by these updates include, fixes for translation and localization, USB related bugs, sleep issues on Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2, request failures and networking issues.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Feed your greed for speed by installing SSDs in RAID 0 – Tired of waiting while your top-of-the-line SSD loads files? Is what once seemed blindingly fast just not cutting it any more? Relax, you’re not the only one suffering with Greed for Speed (GFS). Plenty of velocity addicts are stricken with the same affliction. Let us help. In this, the first step in PCWorld’s exclusive one-step program for the amelioration of GFS symptoms (extreme anxiety at the least pause in program launch, tantrums over large file load times, etc.), we’ll show you how to nearly double the performance of even the fastest SSD.

SpeakingPhoto Attaches Sound to Pictures for Simple Mobile Storytelling – So if a picture is worth a thousand words, then you add some more words, does that make it more than one picture? Philosophical conundrums aside, SpeakingPhoto is an app for Android and iOS that lets you do just that–add a recording to your snapshots , then share the resulting video or share it with others. It has been on iOS for a while, but the developers just came over to Android a few weeks back.

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Microsoft gives away nearly 300 free, tip-packed ebooks and resource guides – As he’s done in years past, Microsoft senior sales excellence manager Eric Ligman has compiled a veritable flood of free Microsoft ebooks and other resources, offering up nearly 300 gratis guides for your reading pleasure. There’s a hefty Windows 7 Power Guide up for grabs, as well as “Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals,” clocking in at 139 pages, and a teen-focused “Own Your Space—Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online” all the way at the bottom of the page.

Finally, A Way To Find Movies Worth Watching On Netflix – Netflix is like the candy dish at your grandmother’s house. Most of the movies are crap, but you know, buried somewhere in there, is something worth your time. A Better Queue is a site dedicated to finding the Werther’s Originals in Netflix based on Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

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The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition – Detecting a niche in the market for family-friendly devices, a number of tech firms have begun offering tablet computers aimed at the younger generation. Whether you’re looking for an entertainment, education-based or budget-friendly tablet, here are a number of options suitable for you — and tips on how to keep your device child-proof.

You can now mirror your Android screen to your TV with Chromecast – Users will now be able to share whatever is on their phone or tablet screen to Chromecast and see it replicated – albeit much larger – on their TV. Simply open the Chromecast app on your device, and tap the ‘Cast Screen’ button in the navigation drawer – it’s as simple as that. It’s even easier on Nexus devices, which includes support for activating screen-casting via Android’s integrated quick settings menu.

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LG’s KizON band lets parents track, call, and listen in on their kids – While we certainly live in an age of connected homes and connected adults, kids aren’t usually the target demographic for technology outside of the home. LG’s new KizON wrist band is a unique exception to this rule, but that’s because it exists as a digital tether between children and their parents.

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Security:

Botnet brute-forces remote access to point-of-sale systems – Thousands of compromised computers are actively trying to break into point-of-sale (POS) systems using brute-force techniques to guess remote administration credentials. The computers are part of a botnet, dubbed BrutPOS by researchers from security firm FireEye, that has been active since at least February. The botnet scans attacker-specified IP (Internet Protocol) address ranges for systems that accept Remote Desktop Protocol (port 3389) connections. When an RDP service is identified, the BrutPOS malware attempts to log in with user names and passwords from a predefined list.

Crypto certificates impersonating Google and Yahoo pose threat to Windows users – People using Internet Explorer and possibly other Windows applications could be at risk of attacks that abuse counterfeit encryption certificates recently discovered masquerading as legitimate credentials for Google, Yahoo and possibly an unlimited number of other Internet properties.

Your favorite mobile apps leave a trail of cookie crumbs: We monitor our own smartphone traffic to see how much data apps are giving up – Many mobile apps are just Web applications wrapped in a package for an app store—they send cookies back to the same server to identify the user and provide location information and other data about a device to the application vendor, third parties, or anyone who happens to be watching network traffic. Taken together with other data, these cookies can be used to track individuals as they wander the world, posing a significant privacy risk. There are other components of the Web content consumed by mobile apps that can be used in tracking.

Don’t be a bonehead: Run antivirus on your Mac – Choosing not to run antivirus on a Mac is a boneheaded move that people choose to make based on nothing more than fanboy idealism, and has no place in the real world. Doubly so if your Mac takes on BYOD duties.

Malaysia Is Becoming a Global Hub For Internet Scams Preying on the Lovelorn – The conmen typically hail from Nigeria or Ghana and dupe lonely, middle-aged men and women from the U.S. and Western Europe through matchmaking services like Match.com, reports Reuters. A dozen new cases are reported to the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur every week, with scam complaints forming four-fifths of new work for duty officers. “This is a serious issue hurting many Americans financially and emotionally,” said a U.S. embassy spokesperson. “We would hope that through publicity more Americans would be made aware of these scams.”

Company News:

Leaked Yelp docs say Google is gaming search results – Google search is often thought of as an even playing field where we can get the results we want. Over time, Google has begun leaning on their own services — and thus information. That’s not concerning to most users, but what about other services? Recently leaked internal documents at Yelp insist Google is toying with Search results regionally to deceive regulators and mislead users.

Roku beats Apple TV — again — on usage, purchases – Roku is No. 1 for set-top-box purchases and usage, and the gulf between it and No. 2 Apple is widening, a study says — but opportunity may rouse the sleeping giant.

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Microsoft settles with No-IP in botnet hunt, after seizing its domains – Microsoft has reached a settlement with domain provider No-IP to disable some of its domains, after taking control of part of its network to shut down a botnet. In the course of combating the spread of the malware, Microsoft took control of more than 20 No-IP domains, knocking out service for the provider’s customers, some of whom were not even affected by the malware. In a statement released Wednesday by Microsoft and No-IP, Microsoft said it “regrets any inconvenience these customers may have experienced.”

Aereo believes it can operate despite Supreme Court ruling – In a lower court filing, the streaming TV service takes a new legal tack saying it could be eligible to license television content the same as cable companies.

Games and Entertainment:

The sky’s the limit as Microsoft Flight Simulator returns! – One of the most enduring titles of PC gaming came to an end in 2009, as Microsoft shut down the studio responsible for development of the Flight Simulator series. But now, Microsoft Flight Simulator has been cleared for take-off once more, as the company has signed a global licensing deal for its development, which will soon see the game sold on Steam for the first time.

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MOBA Games Come Of Age On The iPad With Hammer & Chisel’s Fates Forever – There are a few notable contenders vying to make the tablet’s definitive MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game. One, which made its debut this week, is Fates Forever.

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Battleborn – the MOBA that Borderlands creator Gearbox wants you to play – The folks behind Borderlands are taking their talents to the increasingly crowded MOBA genre with a new title called Battleborn. Details surrounding what Gearbox is calling a “hero shooter” are still a little scarce, but so far it looks like this game could actually be something new and interesting in the genre.

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Grim Fandango remaster confirmed for PC (of course) – Yes, despite the implication at E3 that this was a Sony exclusive, the game will indeed be coming to its true and rightful PC home. And Mac. And Linux. It’s not really a surprise, considering Grim Fandango creator/Double Fine founder Tim Schafer tweeted about “other platforms” during E3, but still—go ahead and heave a sigh of relief.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Nissan invented something every car needs – What with airbags, electronic stability control, and crumple zones galore, you could be forgiven for thinking there was no safety feature left untouched on the modern car, but Nissan would prove you wrong. The humble rear-view mirror is next in line for a smart update, and as Nissan showed me with its prototype system, the way we look around our car is well overdue a high-tech update.

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In sexting case, Virginia prosecutors want to photo teen’s genitalia – A Virginia teen is facing felony charges for allegedly sexting his girlfriend a video of his penis, and the authorities want to photograph his erect genitalia to bolster their case, according to news reports. If found guilty, the 17-year-old boy, whose name Ars is withholding, could be jailed until his 21st birthday and be forced to register as a sex offender. The boy’s attorney said that Prince William County prosecutors have obtained a warrant allowing them to photograph the boy’s erect private parts, a development his attorney is fighting along with the accusations. (The prosecutors should be subjected to a battery of tests designed to expose their deviancy. What a sick group!)

Cutting the cord: Why I kicked my cable TV company to the curb – I decided I was sick of spending crazy amounts of money for video content I could get for free, or for far less using various streaming services.

Prostitute accused in Google exec’s death – Police have arrested a high-end escort for suspicion of murder in the death of a Google executive, according to a police statement and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The executive, 51-year-old Forrest Timothy Hayes, is said to have overdosed on heroin last November on a yacht in Santa Cruz, Calif., after allegedly being injected by Alix Catherine Tichelman. Tichelman is a 26-year-old call girl from Georgia who police said Hayes had an ongoing relationship with.

Telecom-Funded Congressional Group: Don’t Regulate Telecom Industry! – At an event funded by the telecom industry, organizations funded by the telecom industry argue against – wait for it! – regulating the telecom industry.

World Cup’s Germany-Brazil game is most-tweeted sports event – The social network tweeted yesterday that there were 35.6 million tweets published during the match between Brazil and Germany, making it “the most-discussed single sports game ever on Twitter.” Brazil’s Júlio César and Germany’s Miroslav Klose were the most-mentioned players from the match.

Something to think about:

“A good man would prefer to be defeated than to defeat injustice by evil means.”

-    Sallust (86 BC – 34 BC)

Today’s Free Downloads:

Skype – With Skype’s free software – by the way, it works seamlessly with your internet connection – you can chat away with free Skype-to-Skype calls and never worry about cost, time or distance. Share the love and get your friends to download Skype so you can talk, chat or make video calls for nothing. You can also make local, long distance and international calls to phones and mobiles at great rates too.

You can use it on a computer or get Skype on your mobile so you can keep in touch on the move, whatever you’re up to. Skype works on a wide range of mobiles, plus on devices like the PlayStation Portable (PSP). There’s also a great range of WiFi and cordless phones with Skype built-in.

Just for starters you can instant message with anyone on your contact list or even use group chat to chat with up to a hundred people. You could hold a conference call with up to nine other people to organise a get-together and then use SkypeFind to search for the perfect venue to hold it.

There are also really cool video features. All you need is a webcam to make free video calls or even take photos of yourself to personalise Skype.

Use Skype to give your friends a call and voice chat with them at the highest quality on the market.

Features:

Make free calls to anyone else on Skype, anywhere in the world

See who you are talking to with free video calls

Chat with up to 100 people in group chats

Conference call with up to four people for free

Call ordinary phones with SkypeOut

Superior sound quality

Works with all firewall, NAT and routers ? nothing to configure!

Friends list shows you when your Skype friends are online and ready to talk or chat

Super-simple and easy to use

Your calls are encrypted “end-to-end” in order to safeguard your privacy

Avira Free Antivirus – Avira AntiVir Personal FREE Antivirus was developed to be a reliable free antivirus solution, that constantly and rapidly scans your computer for malicious programs such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc. Monitors every action executed by the user or the operating system and reacts promptly when a malicious program is detected.

Avira AntiVir Personal is a comprehensive, easy to use antivirus program, designed to offer reliable free of charge virus protection to home-users, for personal use only, and is not for business or commercial use.

Avira AntiVir Personal gives you the following functions:

Control Center for monitoring, administering and controlling the entire program

Central configuration with user-friendly standard and advanced options and context-sensitive help

Scanner (On-Demand Scan) with profile-controlled and configurable search for all known types of virus and malware

Integration into the Windows Vista User Account Control allows you to carry out tasks requiring administrator rights

Guard (On-Access Scan) for continuous monitoring of all file access attempts

Integrated quarantine management to isolate and process suspicious files

Rootkit protection for detecting hidden malware installed in your computer system (rootkits) (Only for 32-bit systems)

Direct access to detailed information on the detected viruses and malware via the Internet

Simple and quick updates to the program, virus definitions, and search engine through Single File Update and incremental VDF updates via a webserver on the Internet

Integrated Scheduler to plan one-off or recurring tasks, such as updates or test runs

Very high rates of virus and malware detection using innovative search technologies (search engines) and heuristic search processes

Detection of all common archive types, including detection of nested archives and smart extensions

High-performance multithreading function (simultaneous high-speed scanning of multiple files)

Features:

AntiVir protection against viruses, worms and Trojans AntiDialer protection against expensive dialers

AntiRootkit protection against hidden rootkits

Faster Scanning up to 20% faster

AntiPhishing protection against phishing

AntiSpyware protection against spyware and adware NetbookSupport for laptops with low resolution

QuickRemoval eliminates viruses at the push of a button

Limitations:

Avira AntiVir Personal is free for personal use only.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Anger mounts as Germany unearths second U.S. spy suspect – German politicians reacted angrily on Wednesday to news of a suspected U.S. spy in the Defence Ministry, which came days after the arrest of a German foreign intelligence agency worker as a double agent.

After the federal prosecutors said authorities had conducted searches in connection with a second spying case, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partners said Washington should remove any U.S. embassy staff involved and cease spying on its ally.

Security sources told Reuters the latest suspect was from the military and worked in the Defence Ministry in Berlin, but no arrest appeared to have been made. The ministry confirmed its premises had been searched but gave no further details.

“It is not yet clear what is behind this,” Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, in an excerpt of Thursday’s edition.

Merkel has already said the arrest last week of a BND foreign intelligence officer for spying for NATO ally the United States would, if confirmed, be a “serious case”. But she also says it will not affect transatlantic free trade talks.

The chancellor faces criticism for not taking President Barack Obama to task sufficiently for surveillance in Germany by the U.S. National Security Agency, which monitored her own mobile phone. The new cases put further pressure on Merkel to react.

Civil Rights Organizations Demand Answers From White House on Surveillance of Muslim Leaders – In the wake of our story this morning reporting on the FBI and NSA’s monitoring of prominent Muslim-Americans, a coalition of 44 civil rights groups organized by the American Civil Liberties Union has sent a letter to President Obama demanding  a “full public accounting” of the government’s “targeting of community leaders” for surveillance. Separately, the White House told the Guardian that it has asked the intelligence community to “review their training and policy materials for racial or religious bias” after we published an internal instructional memo that referred to a hypothetical surveillance target as “Mohammed Raghead.”

The joint letter, which also requests meetings with President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and FBI Director James Comey, compares the surveillance detailed by the Intercept—including the monitoring of Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Committee on American-Islamic Relations—to the government’s history of spying on political dissidents:

In an earlier era, during the 1960s and 1970s, civil rights leaders, activists and members of minority communities were subjected to unlawful and abusive government surveillance based not on what they had done, but what they believed and who they were. Despite reform efforts, abusive practices continue today. Federal, state, and local law enforcement are targeting entire communities—particularly American Muslims—for secret surveillance based on their race, religion, ethnicity or national origin.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to the letter. But White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Guardian that the administration takes the publication of the memorandum using an ethnic slur “extremely seriously”:

Upon learning of this matter, the White House immediately requested that the director of national intelligence undertake an assessment of intelligence community policies, training standards or directives that promote diversity and tolerance, and as necessary, make any recommendations changes or additional reforms.

An earlier response to the story by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice—which repeatedly refused to discuss the story with The Intercept prior to publication—denied that any individuals had been targeted for surveillance solely for political dissent or an ethnic basis and stressed that “with limited exceptions…intelligence agencies must have a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to target any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident for electronic surveillance.”

American Surveillance Victim Is Not Surprised The NSA Was Spying – Hooshang Amirahmadi feels like a celebrity. That’s what happens after Glenn Greenwald publishes your name, with consent of course, as one of five identified Muslim-Americans monitored by the National Security Agency and the FBI.

Amirahmadi is a professor of international relations at Rutgers University. He says he has been swamped with interview requests since The Intercept published a report about how the NSA monitored several Muslim-Americans allegedly due to their religious beliefs, which the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice on Court-ordered Legal Surveillance of U.S. Persons refuted.

Despite the surveillance revelation, Amirahmadi, who describes himself as a peace activist, wasn’t surprised or angry when Greenwald and his team told him about the government’s surveillance about a month ago.

“The reason I’m not surprised is because I personally have spent 25 years in U.S.-Iran relations and that relation has been the most inimical in the last three decades of any foreign policy matter,” he said. “So it’s not easy to be in the middle of two enemies, and obviously you expect to be suspected.”

He has been on the faculty at Rutgers since 1983, and is the former director of the university’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He is the founder and president of the American Iranian Council, a public policy think tank that delves into U.S.-Iran relations.

Global protest calls for canning SOPA-by-stealth treaty’s IP bits – Fears about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have surfaced again, with a pair of open letters calling on negotiators to remove provisions applying to intellectual property.

The TPP is a treaty being negotiated among Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Controversially, the treaty’s full text has not been released for public scrutiny: citizens of the negotiating nations have generally been told the treaty is in their best interests and they therefore needn’t ask too many questions.

That may not sound too bad if you live in non-participating nations, save for two things.

The first is that the TPP is thought to contain provisions a lot like those contained in the hated, and ultimately defeated, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The second is that the USA likes to harmonise its relationships, so if the TPP gets up it will be a way for the USA to bring SOPA to the world, by stealth.

The second letter (PDF) attacks the expected TPP provision to extend copyright to 50 years beyond the death of a content creator on the grounds that the public domain is stronger the more stuff is in it. Extending copyright, the letter adds, just puts more cash into publishers’ pockets at the expense of the rest of us.

Verizon Fielded 150K User Data Requests This Year – The U.S. government made approximately 150,000 requests for Verizon customer information in the first half of 2014, the nation’s largest mobile carrier reported on Tuesday.

From January until June, Verizon received 72,342 subpoenas, 37,327 court orders, and 14,977 warrants from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the company said in its latest transparency report. Verizon also received 24,257 emergency requests and between 0 and 999 National Security Letters from the FBI in the first half of 2014.

Verizon said the “vast majority” of the requests it received related to consumer customers. The company got “very few” demands regarding its enterprise customers.

“We do not release customer information unless authorized by law, such as a valid law enforcement demand or an appropriate request in an emergency involving the danger of death or serious physical injury,” the report notes.

In the first half of the year, Verizon rejected approximately 3 percent of the subpoenas and approximately 4.5 percent of court orders and warrants it received.

Report: Snowden applies for extended asylum in Russia – U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has applied for extended asylum in Russia, according to news reports.

Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has leaked details of the agency’s worldwide surveillance activities, will seek an extension after Russia’s approval for him to stay expires on July 31, according to a Wednesday report in Russia news site RT.com.

Snowden, living in Russia for the past year, has submitted documents to “prolong his stay,” said his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, quoted in the story.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 9, 2014

NSA Spying Hurts Cybersecurity for All of Us Say Privacy Advocates;  The Best Drone Videos From Around the Web;  By Selling Your Smartphone You’re Selling Yourself;  New Google Drive rolling out to users;  Patch alert: Update browsers’ Flash ASAP to block log-on theft;  AdBlock Plus sued by German marketing companies;  Windows 7 mainstream support ends in January 2015;  10 sites with stunning visual data that will change your world view;  2 Radical Free Games for Xbox One;  Hillary Clinton Denounces NSA Surveillance On German Chancellor; Partition Wizard Home Edition (free);  How to organize your Windows Start menu;  Declutter your Android apps with Nova Launcher;  Six World Cup social media highlights;  Watch YouTube explode with classic concerts.

NSA Spying Hurts Cybersecurity for All of Us Say Privacy Advocates – The surveillance debate has focused on the legality of spying on Americans but some say the biggest danger is in the methods the NSA uses.

Android reset doesn’t wipe your personal info – Businesses, beware! Vast amounts of personal data and photos can be recovered from second-hand Android smartphones, even if users have reset them to factory condition. With large numbers of Android phones now used by businesses, it’s also a threat to company data. Nowadays, this may well include banking data.

More on this:

By Selling Your Smartphone You’re Selling Yourself – Sometimes you can get a nice trade-in when you upgrade your old phone to the latest model. When that’s not possible, many electronics vendors offer a decent buy-back program. But if you’re already familiar with selling online through eBay or similar services, you may find it convenient to just put your old phone up for sale. When you click “Erase everything” on the phone, all your data is safely erased, right? Well, no. Forensic data recovery by researchers at Avast found that supposedly-erased phones harbored thousands of items of personal data, some of them significant.

How to organize your Windows Start menu – Every program you install in Windows 7 creates its own Start menu folder or at least its own free-floating shortcut. Some programs nicely ask you where you want to install their shortcuts, but most just dump them haphazardly into their own folders. The more programs you install, the more crowded and cluttered the All Programs menu becomes, especially with folders, subfolders, and shortcuts for items you may not even need. In Windows 7, such a setup forces you to keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling down the list of programs until you find the folder or shortcut you want. So how can you manage your Start menu programs so they don’t remain a disorganized clutter?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New Google Drive rolling out to users – Google Drive is being updated today, bringing in an updated UI and usability tweaks. The update is rolling out slowly, but the differences are notable. Simpler and more effective, Drive is starting to look more like a desktop solution than a web-solution-gone-laptop.

Declutter your Android apps with Nova Launcher – Imagine not having to scroll through countless apps to find the one you want. Sure, you might know exactly what that icon looks like, but it’s easy for nearly any launcher to get lost in your collection of installed apps. Nova Launcher fixes this issue by allowing you to set up App Drawer Groups. This means you can have a group for Networking tools, Games, Productivity tools…you name it.

Three critical laptop accessories for summertime travel – Before you head out on your great summer vacation, you’ll want to make sure you pack well not only for yourself but your laptop as well. No matter if you’re headed across the country in a VW bus or across the Atlantic on a 777, here are three critical laptop accessories no summer traveler can do without.

Five awesome devices for your Wink connected home setup – You want a connected home, but what about the expense involved? Quirky’s Wink Hub makes having a connected home a pretty streamlined endeavor, serving as a base platform for all your connected devices. The hub itself is low-cost and readily available, but what about the devices that link to it? Here are five that we really like for starting your connected home project.

Australian government visualises geospatial data on National Map – The Australian government has launched a single platform containing a number of the data sets released by the government, including broadband availability and quality.

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‘Netflix for torrents’ app Popcorn Time adds Chromecast support – Apparently Chromecast viewers can eat their popcorn and watch it too: The “Netflix for pirates” app Popcorn Time can now stream pirated movies directly to Chromecast-enabled HDTVs. As of now, a Windows version of Popcorn Time with Chromecast support is in alpha, and Mac and Android versions are on their way. Beta versions of the apps without Chromecast support are already available for Android, Mac OS X 10.7 and above, Windows XP and above, and Linux 32/64 bit.

10 sites with stunning visual data that will change your world view – Mere words and concepts don’t drive home the sheer magnitude of the things buzzing all around us, all the time. For some things, actually seeing the data in real-time visualizations hits you in a far more visceral way than a wall o’ text ever could. These websites will change the way you see the world. If nothing else, you’ll never view your Facebook posts in the same, lighthearted way ever again.

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Digital Shadow

The Weather Channel for Android Gets Contentious Redesign in v5.0 – There are plenty of weather apps on Android, but The Weather Channel app is far and away the most popular one with more than 50 million downloads. That could mean a lot of very unhappy people very soon as a v5.0 update is slowly rolling out. People, it seems, are not happy with the changes.

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Watch YouTube explode with classic concerts – A vast trove of music concerts has arrived on YouTube this week thanks to the folks at Wolfgang’s Vault. That’s “Where Live Music Lives”, if you did not know, Wolfgang’s Vault being the pusher of Music Vault, the YouTube channel where you can see it all happen now. Bands from Bob Dylan to Fleet Foxes, Deer Tick to The Who – all appear in this 1,600+ video collection. In the very short amount of time this network has been online, under cover, it’s already gotten a whopping 10.8 million views.

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Sony has announced its selfie phone – Yesterday, Sony teased on Twitter with a post “see your #selfies in a whole new light”, bringing speculation that they might be releasing a new handset. Today, Sony has unveiled a new selfie-centric device, the Xperia C3. The Xperia handset will feature a 5MP wide-angle front-facing camera with LED flash, optimized for taking better “selfies”.

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CartoDB’s Odyssey.js Is An Open-Source Tool For Telling Stories With Interactive Maps – Everything happens somewhere. That’s the logic behind Odyssey.js, an open-source tool that utilizes maps to help turn data into interactive multimedia stories without the user needing coding skills. With a $35,000 grant from the Knight Prototype Fund, creators of the cloud-computing platform CartoDB have released a beta of the open-source tool today.

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Windows 7 mainstream support ends in January 2015, but it’s not time to freak out yet – The good news here is that for users of Windows 7, you don’t have much to worry about. The end of mainstream support indicates that the company will no longer build out features or deliver enhancements other than security updates. The mainstream support is typically a window of 5 years post launch, following this there is a period of extended support that lasts for an additional 5 years. In January, Windows 7 will transition into the extended support state, so your machine will be safe.

BlackBerry reveals why the Passport is hip to be square: It’s all about the spreadsheets – BlackBerry’s Passport has inspired a lot of head-scratching, but the company reckons it does have a good reason for going out on a square limb.

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Security:

Patch alert: Update browsers’ Flash ASAP to block log-on theft – Users of Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) and IE11 can rest easy today knowing that their browsers will automatically update to the latest version of Adobe Flash, which will block a credential-stealing attack disclosed earlier in the day. Those who rely on Apple’s Safari, pre-IE10 editions of IE, Mozilla’s Firefox and Opera Software’s Opera, however, should hustle to the Adobe website to download and install the latest version of Flash, security experts advised.

More on this:

“Weaponized” exploit can steal sensitive user data on eBay, Tumblr, et al – A serious attack involving a widely used Web communication format is exposing millions of end users’ authentication credentials on sites including eBay, Tumblr, and Instagram, a well-respected security researcher said Tuesday. The exploit—which stems from the ease of embedding malicious commands into Adobe Flash files before they’re executed—has been largely mitigated by a Flash security update Adobe released Tuesday morning to coincide with a technical analysis of the threat, including proof-of-concept exploit code. It will take days or weeks for a meaningful percentage of end users to install the fix, so the researcher who wrote the advisory is warning engineers at large websites to make server-side changes that will minimize the damage attackers can inflict on visitors.

Vulnerability in AVG security toolbar puts IE users at risk – The toolbar, also known as AVG SafeGuard, supports Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox running on Windows XP and later, and is often bundled as an optional installation with popular free software programs. According to researchers from the CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC) at Carnegie Mellon University, versions 18.1.6 and older of AVG Secure Search and AVG SafeGuard install an ActiveX control called ScriptHelperApi in Internet Explorer that exposes sensitive functionality to websites.

Company News:

AdBlock Plus sued by German marketing companies – The popular extension, available for all web browsers, blocks advertisements on websites, which is the primary source of revenue for marketing companies. Adblock Plus vendors have a controversial arrangement with some websites which have been whitelisted from the extension by default. Now, a number of advertising companies in Germany have been reported to have filed lawsuits against Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus. The companies believe that the business model of Adblock Plus is illegal. It was recently reported that Google has been paying money in order to allow its ads to pass through Adblock Plus.

Former Mozilla CEO would’ve transformed Firefox into a pro-privacy anti-Chrome – Short-lived Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich says Firefox’s key to success lies in differentiation, starting with Google’s gobbling of your personal info.

BlackBerry Is One Of The Hottest Stocks Of 2014, Seriously – Don’t look now, but BlackBerry — you know, the butt of most cell phone jokes — is mounting an impressive comeback. BlackBerry’s stock is up 50 percent on the year and one of the best performers in its sector. In 2014 BlackBerry’s stock is outperforming all its peers. At the beginning of the year, the company’s stock was languishing at $7.44 a share. Yesterday it closed at $11.21. The stock is also up in trading today.

As smartphone sales tank, Samsung stares down a 25% drop in profits – Samsung Electronics is warning investors of a third straight quarter of declining profits. For Q2, the company is expecting a 22-26.5 percent drop in profits from a year earlier, thanks largely to piles of unsold smartphones. Smartphone sales have been Samsung’s primary driver of growth over the last few years, and the company is now facing a situation where many potential buyers already have a phone that’s “good enough.”

Games and Entertainment:

Respawn announces second ‘Titanfall’ DLC, ‘Frontier’s Edge’ – “Titanfall” has easily been one of the year’s biggest original game releases thus far, and it’s about to get even bigger with the release of its second downloadable content package, “Frontier’s Edge.” Announced today by Respawn, the game’s developer, “Frontier’s Edge” will feature three new maps, which are described as “the isolated mining outpost of Dig Site, the exclusive beach resort of Haven and the mining hub on the side of a mountain known as Export.” No media was released of the new maps, however, and a release date wasn’t announced.

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The Xbox One Just Learned A Few New Tricks – Another month, another itty-bitty update to the Xbox One. The Xbox One’s July update doesn’t bring any earth shattering features (like, say, a version of Hulu that doesn’t break in the last two minutes of literally every show I try to watch), but it does pack a few new tricks you might not notice on your own. Here’s the new stuff, which should be rolling out right about now…

Microsoft will give Xbox 360 owners $75 credit to buy an Xbox One – Own an Xbox 360 and don’t yet have an Xbox One? You may want to purchase one before the end of the month, as Microsoft will give you a $75 digital credit to use on games and other digital downloads. As spotted by NeoGAF user BeforeU, Xbox 360 owners are now being presented with an ad that promotes the deal, which lasts until 11:59 p.m. PST July 31.

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Let your creativity flow with the ‘Project Spark Starter Pack’ for Xbox One, coming this October – There has been much hype concerning “Project Spark,” a game that allows you to design your own experiences. The game was first demoed back in 2013 at E3, showing off the ability to create a world in about a minute, adding bad guys and even your own pet rock. With such an original concept, many consumers were wondering when the game would be released. Today on Xbox Wire, they have announced that a retail version of the game would be available for the Xbox One on October 7 for North and South America, October 9 in Asian countries, and October 10 for Europe.

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Star Trek and Archer combine to make a hilarious abomination – Splicing audio and video from sources that don’t really belong together is a time honored tradition among silly folks who like a good laugh, and as video editing tech becomes cheaper and more powerful, it only gets easier for this sort of thing to happen. Star Trek is often a target for this kind of thing, due to its popularity and the volume of content. As a result, there are now three episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series where the audio has been replaced with bits from multiple episodes of the FX original series Archer. The end result, which the creators lovingly refer to as Starcher Trek, is nothing short of riotously funny.

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Double Review: 2 Radical Free Games for Xbox One – This month two games are popping up free for Xbox Live Gold members: “Max: the Curse of Brotherhood” and “Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition.” Both games are generally considered to be “indy”, and they certainly play that way – but they’re bringing a fine mix of nostalgia and high-end graphics (flat as they may be) that give us pause.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

It’s raining smartphones in India – The Gods seem to be smiling down upon the Indian cell phone consumer. Never before in the country’s history have they been so spoilt for choice. For the past few years, it was local players like Micromax and Karbonn who began offering cheaper yet slick alternatives to brands like Samsung. Then came the MotoG which was a bonafide star and vanquished the Micromaxs as well as Samsungs of the world in its category. A little after that came Nokia’s attractive X series of budget smartphone (under Rs 10,000 or US$166) that hitched its wagon to the Android platorm. And, just a few days ago, I wrote about Firefox’s potentially revolutionary US$25 phone soon to be manufactured and flogged in India by local manufacturers Spice and Intex.

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Xiaomi’s Mi3 5 inch Smartphone is destined to vanquish most phones in the category

The Best Drone Videos From Around the Web – Drones can act as flying cameras — they can go where we can’t, get footage we can’t. Here, TIME has collected some of the coolest drone videos from around the web. Enjoy!

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Nerf Rhino-Fire will leave your foes begging for mercy – The world of dart tag just got a whole lot more dangerous, thanks to some mad genius in the Nerf design lab. A new blaster popped up early on Amazon, and it’s darn near the Nerf equivalent of the Death Machine from Call of Duty. You don’t get that kind of firepower without deep power reserves. The Rhino-Fire will require six D-cell batteries. That adds around a kilogram of weight, but no worries: Nerf has included a tripod so that you can camp and dominate your enemies without breaking a sweat.

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Google’s Larry Page envisions a world with less work – In a Fireside chat with Vinod Khosla, both Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin talked a lot about Google and the world surrounding it, with the entire chat (featured in the video below) lasting a bit over 40 minutes. Among the different topics was discussion about our working future.

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How Your Tech Is Made – While your mass-produced gadget may not get the due respect it deserves on Etsy or at your local artisanal market, keep in mind that it takes just as much time, blood, sweat, and tears (if not more) to create that gadget (and all the other ones just like it) as it does for the solitary artiste to hone their craft into a singular unique item. Here we present 11 behind-the-scenes glimpses into how all the hottest electronics of today are made.

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Zuckerberg: Everyone Should Have Basic Web Access – Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg this week argued that a basic level of Internet service should be as readily available as access to 911. “In the future, everyone should have access to basic Internet services … even if they haven’t paid for a data plan,” Zuckerberg wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. “And just as basic phone services encouraged more people to get phones, basic Internet services will encourage many more people to get a data plan.” He pointed to the fact that anyone can call 911 even without a phone plan. A similar option for the Web should also exist, he argued.

Urban Airship CEO takes leave amid sexual assault probe – Scott Kveton, co-founder of the push notification startup, tells employees that he had been thinking about stepping aside for a while but the decision was accelerated by a story about his “personal situation.”

Six World Cup social media highlights – As the biggest soccer tournament in the world reaches its final stages, there is no doubt that this has been the most social World Cup ever. We list some of the social media highlights of the event so far.

Something to think about:

“At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas.”

-    Aldous Huxley

Today’s Free Downloads:

Partition Wizard Home Edition – MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition is a free partition manager software designed by MiniTool Solution Ltd. Our partition manager supports 32/64 bit Windows Operating System including Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Home users can perform complicated partition operations by using this powerful yet free partition manager to manage their hard disk. Functions include: Resizing partitions, Copying partitions, Create partition, Delete partition, Format partition, Convert partition, Explore partition, Hide partition, Change drive letter, Set active partition, Partition Recovery.

MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition is designated for home user only, to use MiniTool Partition Wizard in a business environment, MiniTool Partition Wizard Professional Edition is required.

Features:

Support RAID.

Extend system partition to maximize computer performance.

Manage the hard disk for substantial performance increase.

Create, Delete and Format partitions with simple steps.

Disk Copy to protect or transfer data.

Support disk and partition size larger than 2 TB.

Convert partition format from FAT to NTFS.

Partition Copy: Copy the entire content of one hard disk to another.

Copy Disk Wizard: Copy the entire hard disk to another without having to reinstall Windows.

Disk Map – Visually demonstrate your disk/partition configuration; preview the changes before applying.

Hide/unhide partition, set active partition, etc. – Change partition properties easily.

Explore FAT/NTFS partition.

Set partition as primary.

Set partition as logical.

Rebuild MBR.

Disk Surface Test.

Partition Surface Test.

Change Partition Serial Number.

Change Partition Type ID.

Hot Extend Partition without reboot.

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LastActivityView - LastActivityView is a tool for Windows operating system that collects information from various sources on a running system, and displays a log of actions made by the user and events occurred on this computer.

The activity displayed by LastActivityView includes: Running .exe file, Opening open/save dialog-box, Opening file/folder from Explorer or other software, software installation, system shutdown/start, application or system crash, network connection/disconnection and more…

You can easily export this information into csv/tab-delimited/xml/html file or copy it to the clipboard and then paste into Excel or other software.

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Another neat tool from NirSoft! They pump out the most interesting freeware – especially if you consider yourself a bit of a hobbyist, geek, techie, whatever, on the PC. Take a run over to their site for a look-see at the offerings.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On – The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called “FISA recap”—short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also “are or may be” engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens.

The spreadsheet shows 7,485 email addresses listed as monitored between 2002 and 2008. Many of the email addresses on the list appear to belong to foreigners whom the government believes are linked to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Among the Americans on the list are individuals long accused of terrorist activity, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

But a three-month investigation by The Intercept—including interviews with more than a dozen current and former federal law enforcement officials involved in the FISA process—reveals that in practice, the system for authorizing NSA surveillance affords the government wide latitude in spying on U.S. citizens.

Hillary Clinton Denounces NSA Surveillance On German Chancellor – Hillary Clinton criticized the National Security Agency (NSA) for spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, calling it “absolutely wrong” in an interview with German media outlet Spiegel published Tuesday.

Former government contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed in October that Merkel’s phone calls were intercepted by the NSA, damaging diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Germany.

Tensions have only escalated in the wake of a new spying scandal this week. Germany is currently in an uproar over reports a German intelligence service accused of spying was working for the United States. Merkel has said it will be a “serious case” if the recent spying allegations were true.

Clinton did not comment on the current controversy, saying an investigation was underway and she only knew what she read.

“But clearly, we have to do a much better job in working together between Germany and the United States to sort out what the appropriate lines of cooperation are on intelligence and security,” Clinton told Spiegel. “I think the cooperation is necessary for our security, but we don’t want to undermine it by raising doubts again and again.”

Clinton declined to comment on whether or not she thought it was “taboo” for the U.S. to acquire a source within the German intelligence service. She emphasized the U.S. could not enter a no-spy agreement with any country, including Germany. The Obama administration dismissed requests for such an agreement after the revelation last fall about the NSA’s surveillance practices.

Clinton was also asked if Merkel deserved an apology, and sidestepped the question, saying Merkel and President Barack Obama have “had numerous talks.” When pressed, she said she was sorry, but noted she was no longer in government.

UK extends device charge test to all air travellers – All air passengers flying into or out of British airports, and not just those on US-bound flights, must ensure their electronic devices are charged.

Advice issued at the weekend concerned passengers flying to the US, but on Tuesday night the British the Department for Transport widened the instruction to affect anyone flying into or out of the UK.

A spokesman for the department said: “In line with the US advice, passengers on some routes into and out of the UK may now also be required to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage are powered up or face not being allowed to bring the device on to the aircraft.

“Passengers flying into or out of the UK are therefore advised to make sure electronic devices being carried in their hand luggage are charged before they travel.”

No specific routes have been highlighted, and the spokesman said they hope to “minimise disruption as far as possible”.

New restrictions requiring all electronic devices, including mobile phones and tablets, to be charged so they can be switched on for security staff were announced by US authorities on Sunday.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 8, 2014

German Mistrust of the U.S. Deepens Amid Latest Spy Scandals; You don’t know Docs from Drive: Google’s productivity apps, explained;  Fridge hacked. Car hacked. Next up, your LIGHT BULBS;  How to use your Android tablet as a second laptop screen;  How to Delete Yourself from the Internet;  Free Red Hat clone CentOS-7;  10 ways your memory fails you;  One of my sites got hacked, and it’s my own fault;  50 Best Android Apps for 2014;  SCOTUS cell phone case may hold big repercussions (Q&A);  Apple has released beta 3 of iOS 8 and OS X 10.10;  Mom Banned From Facebook Over Coppertone Ad Recreation;  Wink’s Connected Home Collection Arrives At Home Depot.

German Mistrust of the U.S. Deepens Amid Latest Spy Scandals – Last week alone saw two separate scandals involving U.S. espionage in Germany. The first one broke on Thursday, when German media reported that the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, has been spying on a German privacy advocate who works to protect Internet users from the snooping of … the NSA. The following day, July 4, a second scandal broke in the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and other media, which reported that an employee of Germany’s foreign-intelligence service, the BND, had confessed to selling secrets to the U.S. government. New details of that case continued to emerge on Monday, with Reuters reporting that the CIA was involved in the spying operation that led to the man’s recruitment.

You don’t know Docs from Drive: Google’s productivity apps, explained – Docs or Drive? Apps for Business or Drive for Work? Follow our guide to determine which Google service offers what, and which one is best for you.

How to Delete Yourself from the Internet – With our digital footprints expanding, we are relaying more personal data than ever to trackers, hackers and marketers with and without our consent. Are we sharing too much? Do we have the right not to be tracked? Is withdrawing from the Internet entirely to preserve your privacy even possible? Let’s go over each of these issues.

Some files need encryption and some files don’t – Of course there are exceptions. If you’re an accountant, a lawyer, or a spy, you probably should have your entire hard drive encrypted. If everything you work on is confidential, then everything has to be protected. But what should the rest of us encrypt? Bank statements and legal documents, of course. Any file containing your (or anyone else’s) social security number, bank account information, driver’s license, or credit card information should be encrypted.

50 Best Android Apps for 2014 – From high-end Android handsets to low-cost prepaid phones, you’re not getting the full value unless you load up on great apps. We’re here to help, with recommendations for news, weather, productivity, task management and more.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Brush up on classic literature with these immersive apps – Back in the early days of personal computing, the promise of interactive, multimedia, hypertext books was exciting, notably with Voyager’s Expanded Books. But in those days, the limits of technology prevented those “books” from gaining a foothold. The iPad offers such powerful features—and excellent resolution—that truly enhanced books are possible. Here are six apps for the iPad that have popped up in recent years that look at great literature, paying homage to fantastic works while adding new layers.

Free Red Hat clone CentOS-7 is full of Linux Container love – The CentOS Project has announced general availability of CentOS-7, the first release of the free Linux distro based on the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7. It’s also the first major CentOS release to ship since the CentOS Project entered into a new funding and co-development partnership with Red Hat in January. Because CentOS-7 is built from the freely available RHEL 7 source code tree, its feature set closely mirrors that of Red Hat’s latest OS, which shipped in June after a six-month beta period.

Apple has released beta 3 of iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 – If you are running either of Apple’s next-generation operating systems, there is a new beta to download but you should do so with caution as these builds are not intended for production devices.

How to use your Android tablet as a second laptop screen – There’s no denying that multiple monitors is a boost to productivity. It’s convenient, and lets you keep an eye on more windows at once, so none of those important interruptions go unanswered. But in an age of ubiquitous laptops, the whole multi-monitor thing sort of ties you down. It’s not like you’re going to lug around a monitor to use as a display with your laptop. Fortunately, there’s a smaller, lighter alternative: use your Android tablet as overflow screen. Plus, you can use the Android device for touchscreen computer input.

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Wink’s Connected Home Collection Arrives At Home Depot – The Wink platform is basically a central hub for devices from manufacturers, including Dropcam, Honeywell, Quirky, Schalge, Kwikset, Honeywell and more, giving users a single app for either iOS or Android from which to customize and control them all. Wink gets its compatible products on store shelves in over 2,000 U.S. retail locations today, with branding tied to 60 Wink-certified products ranging from light dimmers, to air conditions, to smart locks and beyond.

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Paid Android Wear Apps Currently Impossible Thanks to DRM – Developers finally got their hands on the final version of the Android Wear SDK at Google I/O last month, and have set to work building apps for Google’s smart watch platform. Wear apps don’t work exactly like regular Android apps, and that seems to have led to some unintended consequences. It is currently impossible to distribute a traditional paid app via Google Play for Android Wear.

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BlackBerry Explains The Passport, Its Square Tablet… Phone Thing – BlackBerry previously gave us a sneak peek at a device that’s as category-busting as the revolutionary Padfone, called the Passport. I expressed my …uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the design decisions made in creating this 4.5-inch square thing with a hardware keyboard then. But now it’s BlackBerry’s turn to articulate some of its reasoning behind the Passport, with a blog post in which it avoids calling it either a phone or a tablet directly.

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Mom Banned From Facebook Over Coppertone Ad Recreation – You know that adorable vintage Coppertone ad where the little girl is getting her bathing suit pulled down by a dog? It’s perfectly innocent, right? Well, Facebook apparently doesn’t think so. One North Carolina mom was recently banned from the social network after recreating the iconic image with her daughter. Photographer Jill White was on a trip to the beach when she decided to copy the famous “Coppertone girl” pose from the 1950s ad. Her daughter stood at the shoreline as a friend pulled down her red checkered bathing suit, exposing the 2 year-old’s bare bottom and tan line. The mom posted it to the Coppertone Facebook page, thinking it was clever and cute. But not everyone agreed.

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Rumor: Microsoft’s ‘Windows 9′ campaign begins this fall – Microsoft plans to launch “Windows 9” this fall, backed by a substantial advertising campaign, according to Russian leaker Wzor. The Russian blogger also predicted that the release will be accompanied with a new distribution method that will be keyed to the user’s PC and the online Microsoft Store, rather than an activation key that will be sold and/or distributed to an individual user.

Microsoft adds Yammer to more Office 365 editions – Microsoft will bundle Yammer with more editions of Office 365, adding the enterprise social-networking product to the suite’s editions for schools and midsize businesses. Existing subscribers of Office 365 Midsize Business and Office 365 Education plans will get licenses for Yammer’s Enterprise edition at no additional cost, the company said Monday.

Security:

Fridge hacked. Car hacked. Next up, your LIGHT BULBS – Those convinced that the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) will become a hackers’ playground were given more grist for their mill with news on Friday that security researchers have discovered a weakness in Wi-Fi/mesh networked lightbulbs. Researchers at Context Information Security discovered that LED light bulbs from manufacturer LIFX – which are designed to be controlled from a smartphone – have security weaknesses. By gaining access to the master bulb, Context was able to control all connected lightbulbs and expose user network configurations.

‘Warbiking’ highlights the need for better wireless security – Don’t let the lycra fool you: James Lyne isn’t your traditional cyclist. Lyne has a high-tech rig installed on his bike that sniffs out Wi-Fi networks and lets him see just what their security is like. He calls it warbiking — named after the old-school wardriving in the early days of wireless networks — and last week we took a ride with him around Sydney. Sydney is just the latest stop on Lyne’s World of Warbiking tour — he’s been through Hanoi, London, San Francisco and more. While in town, Lyne’s ride scanned a total of 34,476 networks with some depressing results.

One of my sites got hacked, and it’s my own fault – No web site can be stuck in time, even if the content is. The server software and security systems supporting a web site must be constantly updated to prevent incursion and corruption.

Company News:

Oculus buys RakNet, whose engine revved up ‘Minecraft,’ ‘Lego Universe’ – Virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR, which is being bought by Facebook, has acquired RakNet, an open-source C++ coding engine for games, as part of its plan to develop more software for its head-mounted device ahead of a consumer launch. The deal was the second announced by Oculus in the last two weeks and comes after Facebook said in March that it would acquire Oculus for $US2 billion.

AMC’s answer to Netflix is to spend $600 million on recliner seats in theaters – AMC is spending $600 million to reseat a large portion of its chain theaters with comfy, puffy, fully reclining seats like you’d have in your living room. Yes, the company has to remove a bunch of its existing seating in order to fit the larger seats — which means AMC’s strategy to get more people in theaters will actually lessen how many people can actually fit in them. If the seats AMC would remove are usually empty anyway, then sprucing up the often-used seats shouldn’t hurt attendance, and would instead — AMC hopes — raise it.

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Isis mobile wallet is rebranding to avoid sharing a name with the terrorist group – Isis, the mobile payment system which launched last year, has announced that they will rebrand and change their name to avoid similarities with the militant Jihadist group of the same name.

Foxconn to deploy 10,000 robots on assembly lines to replace human workers – According to comments made by CEO Terry Gou in a recent shareholders’ meeting, Apple manufacturer Foxconn may soon roll out robots on its assembly lines in order to replace human workers and cut down on manufacturing costs. The robots, which could potentially help construct Apple’s rumored-to-be-upcoming iPhone 6, are in the final stages of testing and are set to be deployed in at least one Foxconn factory in the future. The robot worker plan was first announced in 2011, and the ‘Foxbots’ are entering the final stages of testing — which means that they could see deployment on Foxconn assembly lines very soon.

Google steps up e-commerce war with Amazon, report says – The search giant plans to go after Amazon in an effort to beef up product search and e-commerce offerings. Google’s first target: groceries.

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Google looks to bolster its e-commerce offerings – Screenshot by Richard Nieva/CNET

Games and Entertainment:

Destiny beta dates announced, Xbox One gets it last – Starting June 17 at 10am Pacific, select PS4 and PS3 owners who have pre-ordered the game will be granted access to check out what Activision calls a “diverse sampling of major activities featured in the full game.” This beta will conclude on July 21, and will open back up on July 23 at 10am Pacific. The second opening will see the addition of select Xbox One and Xbox 360 players who have pre-ordered the game, with the flood gates opening to all pre-order participants on July 27.

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Guardians of the Galaxy trailer: extended look at the team – Guardians of the Galaxy has been teased from many angles: trailers galore, a playlist of the upcoming movie soundtrack, and even a 17 minute look at the film for those who don’t fear spoilers. Latest among them is a new trailer showing off extended footage of the team.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Music abilities come from DNA, not practice: so says study – According to a study published in the latest release of Psychological Science would suggest that most musical skill comes from your genes. If you happen to be the descendent of a musical genius, you may want to get practicing – it would seem that you’ll have a lot easier time finding success than your less fortunate associates with less musically-inclined parents.

10 ways your memory fails you – Who hasn’t walked from one room to another and completely forgotten what they were going to do when they got there? Or had either a name or word on the tip of their tongue, but just couldn’t manage to put their finger on what it was? These are just 2 of the 10 ten examples of ways we can’t completely trust our memories, according to this new video from AllTime10s, purveyor of top-10 lists. The video, based on various studies on memory, explains 10 ways our memories aren’t always accurate, such as our tendency to believe that events occurred much more recently than they actually did.

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Bankers beware: Technology is going to get you (and none of us will care) – Technology is about to take a big slice of the traditional banking business. Bankers have been slow to see what’s coming, but they’re starting to realize what’s at stake.

Nature’s fireworks: 10 stunning volcanic GIFs – Volcanoes give us a tantalizing peek at the interior workings of the Earth — the hellish inferno raging beneath the crust. Totally fascinating to observe, of course, but the GIFs keep you nice and safe at home. No heat-resistant environmental suits required.

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Something to think about:

“A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.”

-     Granville Hicks

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

SCOTUS cell phone case may hold big repercussions (Q&A) – The US Supreme Court came out strongly in favor of personal privacy last month, unanimously declaring that law enforcement must first obtain a warrant before searching someone’s cell phone. But one of the lawyers who helped argue the case says many questions about you, your smartphone and privacy remain.

Key legal issues involving mobile devices have yet to be decided, such as how long law enforcement can store seized data and whether police are allowed to compel someone to provide the password of a locked mobile device.

“The court spent about 20 years wrestling with how the Constitution and search and seizure work in the context of an automobile. I think that’s basically what we’re going to see now,” says Bronson James, an attorney and former network engineer from Portland, Ore., who spent more than a decade arguing against warrantless searches of mobile devices in lower courts. “We’re going to see 10, maybe 20 years of litigation about computing, digital data, mobile computing, and how that interplays with the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and a number of issues.”

James was part of the team assembled by lead attorney Jeffrey Fisher to produce some briefs in Riley v. California, one of two cases decided by last month’s Supreme Court opinion. In the Riley case, a San Diego man was charged for having concealed weapons, but was then charged and convicted of attempted murder after police found photos and other records on his phone.

“All of these things flow out of Riley and it’s going to be a fascinating time,” James said. “There’s so much more to flesh this out in our court system that we’re going to be talking about this a lot.”

James spoke with CNET last week about the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling and what it felt like to come out victorious after years of defeats.

The Privacy Implications Of NSA Searches Should Not Be Minimized – The Obama administration on Sunday attempted to downplay the damning revelations made in the Washington Post about the NSA’s broad data sweeps under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA).

In response, officials told the New York Times that “the agency routinely filters out the communications of Americans and information that is of no intelligence value.”

The administration’s response quickly jumping to the NSA’s defense is in line with its previous pattern of standing in front of the agency whenever damaging news leaked about its practices. Soon after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s first revelations were published last year, President Barack Obama staunchly supported the surveillance programs. His stance softened as public outcry grew, and he suggested reforms including an overhaul of the collection of telephony metadata program in January.

Almost half of the communications in a large trove collected under Section 702 that Snowden supplied to The Post last year contained e-mail addresses or other details the NSA identified as belonging to U.S. citizens. More than 65,000 references were “masked” to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 email addresses in the files that were not minimized that could be linked to Americans. In the same initial June 2013 speech, Obama said Americans’ emails weren’t being collected.

The government’s claim that information found to be “of no intelligence value” is filtered seems farcical when the report revealed that the Snowden cache included a photo of a young girl smiling in front of a mosque and school children’s academic transcripts.

‘Voluntary’ oversight for Australian agencies blocking sites – Australian government agencies can ‘voluntarily’ inform the Communications Department each time they ask ISPs to block websites under Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, but none have done so since September last year, the department has told ZDNet.

Over a year since it was first revealed that government agencies had been using a power in the Telecommunications Act to ask ISPs to block websites believed to be in breach of Australian law, the government still has yet to decide how to improve accountability over the practice.

The power only gained public attention after it was revealed that the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) had accidentally blocked 250,000 websites in April 2013 when seeking to block websites associated with investment fraud, including the website of Melbourne Free University.

At the time, it was suggested that three government agencies including ASIC, the Australian Federal Police, and one other national security agency had used the power, but there was no oversight into the power across the entire government.

Given the controversy, in June last year, then-Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he had directed his department to begin looking into how to improve the transparency and regulation of agencies that have been using the power, and the department began working on a discussion paper into the use of the powers, which never saw the light of day prior to the September election that saw the Coalition opposition elected into government.

In December, the Communications Department told ZDNet that it was “consulting with agencies” on the use of Section 313 to block websites.

Seven months later, however, and the government has yet to reach a decision on how to provide greater transparency into Section 313 powers. The Department of Communications also confirmed it still has no mandatory oversight over agencies asking ISPs to block websites.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 7, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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Primal Fear – ★★★★☆

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

-     Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

Limitations: Requires Microsoft .Net Framework installed.

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 4, 2014

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

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

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

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

Specifically targeting Tor directory servers

Reading email contents for mentions of Tor bridges

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

And possibly breaking international law in doing so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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Something to think about:

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

-    Dr. David M. Burns

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Features:

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

Contextual grammar and spell checking

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

Corrects as you type or scans entire documents

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

Features:

Quick overview of all fonts.

Printing with print preview function

Changeable font size, style and color

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever the case, this is very disturbing.

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

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

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The structure of a three-hop Tor circuit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 3, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

-    Oliver Wendell Holmes

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

Features:

create image files of USB flash drives

restore images of USB flash drives

compressed image file format

show USB device information

manage favorite USB images

command line utility

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

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

Features:

Named “Editors’ Choice” by Google Play.

Free, with no listening limit.

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

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

Stream thousands of original playlists handmade by music experts.

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

Tablet support

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

“Factually incomplete”… AKA LYING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 2, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

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

-   U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

Features:

Record, watch, and timeshift Live TV

Support for multiple tuners

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

Video Recording

Advanced TV Guide based on XMLTV

Scheduler to manage all your recording schedules

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

All music gets stored in Media Portals music database

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

Watch your pictures/photos

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

All your movies will be stored in Media Portals video database

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

And a LOT more….

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

Features:

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

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

no import required – native editing

frame-accurate seeking for many formats

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

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

webcam capture (Linux only)

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

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

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

Blackmagic Design SDI and HDMI for input and preview monitoring

JACK transport sync

deinterlacing

detailed media properties panel

recent files panel

drag-n-drop files from file manager

save and load trimmed clip as MLT XML file

load and play complex MLT XML file as a clip

audio signal level meter

volume control

scrubbing and transport control

flexible UI through dock-able panels

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

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

stream (encode to IP) files and any capture source

batch encoding with job control

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

unlimited undo and redo for playlist edits including a history view

connect to Melted servers over MVCP TCP protocol

control the transport playback of Melted units

edit Melted playlists including suport for undo/redo

OpenGL GPU-based image processing

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

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

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

eye dropper tool to pick neutral color for white balancing

translated to Spanish, French, Czech, and German

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The campaign’s ethos is below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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