Tag Archives: Bill Mullins

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 22, 2014

Microsoft warns of Windows zero-day;  Congress to the FBI: There’s ‘Zero Chance’ We’ll Force Apple to Decrypt Phones;  Five Free Mobile Apps Every IT Professional Needs;  18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try;  Three social media apps for scheduling and more;  Website blocking is not internet filtering: Australian government;  Stop typing and start dictating documents in Windows;  Free videoconferencing tools: 5 creative ways they can help you get things done;  Second-screen apps for every World Series fan;  Google launches support for Security Key;  Simpsons World app and website stream all 500+ episodes;  Xbox One’s new digital TV tuner lets you stream TV to a tablet or smartphone;  Watch the ‘First Real’ Hoverboard;  Junkware Removal Tool (free);  Avast Free Antivirus 2015.

Stop typing and start dictating documents in Windows – Just because you can’t type doesn’t mean you can’t create documents. All you need is a microphone for your PC and Microsoft Word to take the stress off your hands and start using your voice. Here’s how.

Five Free Mobile Apps Every IT Professional Needs – A slew of new apps have stepped up to capitalize on the flood of smartphones and tablets in the hands of IT managers and administrators – aiming to make the day-to-day work of IT professionals easier and more flexible. Here are a few great apps that IT pros will find useful at the office, on the road and everywhere in between:

18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try – Regardless of how you feel about it, Google Maps (and its cousin Google Earth) remain powerful and versatile tools—and most of us are only scratching at the surface of what they have to offer. (And we’re just talking about the Web version, the mobile incarnations are a whole other bag of magic.) Here, we present 18 cool things you didn’t know Google Maps could do. Click on through and experience just a little bit of the power of the everyday.

Collaborate for free with Annotate Attachments in Gmail – Gmail users who collaborate with coworkers should check out the free Annotate Attachments in Gmail extension for Chrome from Framebench. The utility lets you mark on email attachments right in the inbox. It’s easier to do with a touchscreen but works pretty well on Chromebooks and other laptops with touchpads.

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Post like a pro: Three social media apps for scheduling and more – Managing your social media presence can be a full-time job—and an expensive undertaking. A host of products is available to help, but not every tool is right for everyone. Read on to learn about three apps that can help you post your content across various social networks, and, in some cases, a bit more.

PhotoMath on Windows Phone lets you solve math problems instantly – PhotoMath, a camera-based app on Windows Phone and iOS, utilizes photo recognition to instantly display the results of almost any mathematical expression you point your phone at.

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First major update to Windows 10 Preview, delivered through Windows Update – We’ve written before about Windows 10’s new updating policy, and today we’re seeing the real-world result for the first time. The Windows 10 Technical Preview, build 9849, is being updated to build 9860. That update will roll out automatically to members of the Windows Insider program, and it will be delivered through Windows Update. The operating system upgrade is a little more heavyweight than a regular hotfix; systems will need to reboot to finish installation, and Microsoft says that the reboot will take longer than normal.

ZOTAC unveils the ZBOX PI320, a $200 Windows 8.1 PC the size of a chunky smartphone – ZOTAC – who, you may remember, were among the first companies to sign up to Valve’s Steam Machines platform – has unveiled a new Windows PC that has the footprint of a smartphone, albeit with a body that’s a good deal thicker than most modern handsets. Nonetheless, the ZBOX PI320 packs plenty of specs into its tiny form factor, including a quad-core Intel Bay Trail Z3735F processor, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, three USB ports, full-size HDMI port, microSD slot, Ethernet port, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

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Homeboy WiFi camera cuts power cord with 3 month battery – WiFi cameras like Dropcam aren’t new, but while baking in wireless connectivity has helped cut one cord, they’ve always needed to be plugged into a power supply. Now, Homeboy claims to have severed that second tether, with its eponymous camera running on batteries and promising around three months of use from a single charge. That makes positioning all the easier, and Homeboy has taken advantage of that with a magnetic base that means the camera can be pointed in any direction or even hung upside-down from the ceiling.

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Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight Monitors Home Alarms From Afar – The Smart Alert Nightlight plugs into the wall and connects to your home Wi-Fi network using the Leeo app. The nightlight then “listens for the frequency and pattern of your existing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms” and sends an alert to your phone if they go off. It can also monitor climate for anything too hot or cold. The Smart Alert Nightlight also works as, well, a nightlight. Use your phone to set its brightness, or to go on at a certain time – illuminating your way to the bathroom or kitchen at night, for example. The plug-in Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight is on sale now for $99.

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Free videoconferencing tools: 5 creative ways they can help you get things done – A free videoconferencing tool belongs in any productivity kit, and not just for meetings. Used creatively, the combination of webcams and collaboration features can help you streamline other tasks and interactions in your workday, in ways you might never have considered.  Here are five extra ways you can put a free system to work for you.

Lowly DSL poised for gigabit speed boost – DSL was one of the first widely adopted technologies for bringing high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses, but it hasn’t been the fastest. That’s all changing. At the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam this week, several companies are announcing and demonstrating products that bring DSL — or digital subscriber line — into a future with a speed of 1 gigabit per second. That’s about 1,000 times the data-transfer speed the technology offered when it arrived in the late 1990s.

Second-screen apps for every World Series fan – The World Series has returned, with the San Francisco Giants set to battle the Kansas City Royals for baseball supremacy. And thanks to second-screen apps, you don’t have to be merely a passive viewer of the this year’s Fall Classic. These apps for your iPhone or iPad can enliven the experience, whether you’re watching on TV, streaming the games online—or you’re even lucky enough to attend in person.

Security:

Microsoft warns of Windows zero-day; hackers serve exploits in PowerPoint files – Microsoft on Tuesday warned Windows users that cyber criminals are exploiting a zero-day vulnerability using malicious PowerPoint documents sent as email attachments. In an advisory, Microsoft outlined the bug and provided a one-click tool from its “Fixit” line that customers can use to protect their PCs until a patch is available.

Flash vulnerability being exploited in large-scale attacks, mere days after patch – If you haven’t updated your Flash Player with the fixes released on Oct. 14, you may be vulnerable to new attacks using a commercial exploit kit called Fiesta, security researchers warn. The vulnerability, which is being tracked as CVE-2014-0569 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database, was fixed in Flash Player updates last week.

Google launches support for Security Key, a simpler kind of two-factor authentication – It just got a little easier to log into Gmail. Today, Google launched support for Security Key, an open standard that lets you log in to an account with a physical device, usually in the form of a USB. The device takes the place of the six-digit confirmation codes currently used by Google’s two-factor authentication. Instead of typing in the code, you’ll simply insert your USB key before logging in. A password is still required, so a thief wouldn’t be able to log into your account just by stealing your security key. On the other hand, if your account password ended up leaking onto the web, it would be useless without the corresponding security key.

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First man convicted in child predator sting with virtual girl Sweetie – An Australian man with previous child pornography charges is believed to have been the first convicted in an operation using a CGI child to lure predators.

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Company News:

Yahoo’s Minuscule Growth Enough to Exceed Expectations – Yahoo beat Wall Street estimates with $1.15 billion in third-quarter revenue, up from $1.14 during the same quarter last year. Surprising analysts is always nice, but the Internet search giant should be especially happy about the revenue bump, even if it is just a 1% increase. Sales had declined in four of the previous five quarters, including a 3% year-over-year drop in this year’s second quarter.

Google, Facebook continue massive lobbying efforts in Q3 – Google and Facebook continued to pour millions of dollars into federal political lobbying in the third quarter in attempts to influence U.S. lawmakers and have legislation written in their favor. Google spent $3.94 million between July and September while Facebook spent $2.45 million, according to disclosure data published Tuesday. The only tech-related company to outspend Google was Comcast, which is trying to convince politicians to look favorably on a merger with Time Warner and spent $4.23 million during the quarter. But Google stands as the largest spender in the entire tech industry to date this year.

More lawsuits over “no poach” deals get filed against Oracle, Microsoft – A class action lawsuit against Google, Apple, and other tech companies that struck deals to not “cold call” each other’s employees may be on the verge of wrapping up. Similar cases against Oracle and Microsoft have just been filed. The suit against Microsoft (PDF) says that in 2007, the company struck a deal with several other tech companies not to pursue employees who were at “manager level or above,” even if the candidate reached out.

Magic Leap Secures $542M Led By Google For “Lightweight Wearable” Tech That Merges Physical And Digital Worlds – It’s rare that a company can stay relatively secretive while raising a huge amount of funding, but Florida’s Magic Leap has managed that. The startup, led by CEO Rony Abovitz, announced today the close of its $542 million Series B, featuring investors led by Google, Inc., and including KPCB, Andreessen Horowitz, Obvious Ventures, Qualcomm and Legendary Entertainment.

Microsoft Drops Nokia Name, Sticks With ‘Lumia’ For Windows Phones – After a long and complicated relationship that first involved just a close partnership with Nokia handling hardware duties, and then Microsoft acquiring Nokia’s phone-making business during what appeared to be a fairly acrimonious separation, there will be no more confusion as to who’s making first-party Windows Phone hardware going forward: they’ll be called just “Microsoft Lumia” devices going forward. The rebranding will begin in France, according to The Verge, and then move around the world from there, and will apply across product branding, social media accounts and all online presence.

Verizon misses Q3 mark as it shrugs off rivals’ promotions – The carrier still managed to post strong customer growth, again driven largely by an increase in tablet sales.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One’s new digital TV tuner lets you stream TV to a tablet or smartphone – Microsoft announced its digital TV tuner back in August, and it’s finally going on sale in European countries today. The 29.99 EUR ($40) accessory plugs into a USB port on the Xbox One to pick up channels using free-to-air DVB-T, DVB-T2, and DVB-C television standards. This also enables the TV functionality on Xbox One along with TV listings from OneGuide. While recording isn’t supported yet, Microsoft is allowing Xbox One owners to pause live TV and rewind or fast-forward. The pausing works even if you switch back to a game. It’s not clear if the software maker plans to enable DVR functionality in future, but the pausing live TV temporarily uses part of the 500GB hard drive storage on the console

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Launch trailer for Xbox One exclusive ‘Sunset Overdrive’ released – “Sunset Overdrive” from Insomniac Games and Microsoft will be released for the Xbox One on Oct. 28, and the duo today released the final trailer for the game. A launch trailer highlights the game’s plot and humor, but it also gives a good look at the gameplay from various sections in “Sunset Overdrive.” The launch trailer follows commercials for the game that recently began airing on major networks.

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Indie game pulled off Steam after dev threatens Gabe Newell on Twitter – In a post on the Code Avarice blog, Mike Maulbeck announced that he is stepping down from the company, and has sold his interest in it to fellow developer Travis Pfenning. The move is an effort to convince Valve that it “has no reason to harbor any more ill will towards the company, and maybe even if we can’t see Paranautical Activity restored [to Steam], at least future Code Avarice games may be allowed onto the platform.” After apologizing again for his intemperate tweet, Maulbeck noted that “my temper and tendency to use twitter to vent has been a consistent problem since I entered the games industry, and I just can’t do it.

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Simpsons World app and website stream all 500+ episodes, but require a cable subscription – Fox was pleasantly surprised when its recent Simpsons marathon on extended cable channel FXX pulled in massive ratings. It turns out people are interested in watching at least some of the more than 500 episodes of The Simpsons that have been created in the past quarter century. In order to take proper advantage of that, a new FXX app is coming that will let you watch every single episode whenever you want. The catch? The FXX Simpsons World app will require a cable subscription.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Take an action flight over Paris on the back of an eagle – An eagle’s breathtaking flight at 180km/h over the City of Light has been captured by a Sony Action Cam attached to the bird’s back.

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The top 10 Dilbert cartoons, according to creator Scott Adams – The first syndicated comic that focused on the workplace, the exploits of the office everyman and his crew of incompetent colleagues never loses relevance.

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Why are some sugars sweeter than others? Chew on this – The American Chemical Society looks at why some foods taste sweet, and why some sweeteners are, well, sweeter than others.

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About GamerGate – If you’re sick of GamerGate, consider this a trigger warning. We’re entering month three of the controversy, and things aren’t getting any better. In fact, the whole issue seems to be increasing in frequency of mentions. It was on the front page of the New York Times the other day and your co-workers and relatives are going to start asking you about it because “You play games, right?” So now’s your time to ask away. Let’s get started.

IllumiBowl turns your toilet into a color-changing party light – If you install the colorful IllumiBowl light, it will look like someone’s hosting a party in your toilet.

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Watch the ‘First Real’ Hoverboard – The idea that a man or woman could someday glide effortlessly through the air has captured our imaginations ever since Michael J. Fox hopped on a hoverboard in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II. Now it’s even more so, thanks to the Hendo, touted as “the world’s first REAL hoverboard,” named after inventor Greg Henderson.

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Something to think about:

“To FBI Director Comey and the Admin on criticisms of legitimate businesses using encryption: you reap what you sow.”

-      California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avast Free Antivirus 2015 – Download.com Exclusive – Keep your system updated and protect it against the latest viruses and spyware with the new Avast Free Antivirus 2015, featuring Smart Scan. Avast Free Antivirus 2015 has added utilities to an already comprehensive set of security tools. The new Smart Scan detects vulnerabilities in your home network, checks for program updates, and fixes PC performance issues with just one click. Avast continues to improve its anti-malware protection, as well as making it easier to manage security for multiple devices via the Web client.

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

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

Ask Toolbar

Babylon

Blekko

Claro / iSearch

Conduit

Crossrider

DealPly

Delta

Facemoods / Funmoods

Findgala

Globasearch

Hao123

iLivid

Iminent

IncrediBar

MocaFlix

MyPC Backup

MyWebSearch

PerformerSoft

Privitize

Qvo6

Searchqu

Snap Do

Swag Bucks

Wajam

Web Assistant

WhiteSmoke

Zugo

And many more…

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Congress to the FBI: There’s ‘Zero Chance’ We’ll Force Apple to Decrypt Phones – The FBI’s director wants Congress to force force Apple and Google to do away with default smartphone encryption. Congress, however, doesn’t look to be with him.

Last week, FBI director James Comey suggested that encryption “threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place” and suggested that if Apple and Google don’t remove default encryption from iOS and Android then “Congress might have to force this on companies.”

But years of National Security Administration surveillance and other privacy oversteps and surveillance creep by the federal government has lawmakers skittish to do anything that’ll be seen as expanding the surveillance state, even if Congress still isn’t ready to roll back the laws it already has on the books.

“To FBI Director Comey and the Admin on criticisms of legitimate businesses using encryption: you reap what you sow,” California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa tweeted. “The FBI and Justice Department must be more accountable—tough sell for them to now ask the American people for more surveillance power.”

Issa holds considerable power on such matters, and The Hill reported that other lawmakers have echoed his sentiments. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (a California democrat who has been staunchly anti surveillance for some years now) said that Comey’s proposal would have “zero chance” of passing; Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told the publication that he doubts more than “a handful” of lawmakers would support such a bill.

So, while it’s disappointing Congress won’t roll back NSA surveillance, it’s at least heartening to hear that Congress thinks that passing a bill like Comey has suggested would be political suicide.

Website blocking is not internet filtering: Australian government – Summary: The Department of Communications has argued that forcing ISPs to block certain websites under Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act is not a form of internet filtering.

Supreme Court to decide if cops can access hotel registries without warrants – The Supreme Court is weighing in on another Fourth Amendment privacy case, this one concerning a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotels to surrender guest registries to the police upon request without a warrant.

The justices agreed Monday to hear Los Angeles’ appeal of a lower court that ruled 7-4 that the law—meant to combat prostitution, gambling, and even terrorism—was unconstitutional. The law (PDF) requires hotels to provide the information—including guests’ credit card number, home address, driver’s license information, and vehicle license number—at a moment’s notice. Several dozen cities, from Atlanta to Seattle, have similar ordinances.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) welcomed the high court’s intervention in Los Angeles v. Patel.

“The Supreme Court will consider both the scope of privacy protections for hotel guests and also whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits laws that allow unlawful searches,” EPIC wrote. “The second issue has far-reaching consequences because many recent laws authorize the police searches without judicial review. Thus far, courts have only considered “as applied” challenges on a case-by-case basis.”

The appeal is the third high-profile Fourth Amendment case the justices have taken in three years.

More Crypto Wars II – FBI Director James Comey again called for an end to secure encryption by putting in a backdoor. Here’s his speech:

There is a misconception that building a lawful intercept solution into a system requires a so-called “back door,” one that foreign adversaries and hackers may try to exploit.

But that isn’t true. We aren’t seeking a back-door approach. We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law. We are completely comfortable with court orders and legal process — front doors that provide the evidence and information we need to investigate crime and prevent terrorist attacks.

Cyber adversaries will exploit any vulnerability they find. But it makes more sense to address any security risks by developing intercept solutions during the design phase, rather than resorting to a patchwork solution when law enforcement comes knocking after the fact. And with sophisticated encryption, there might be no solution, leaving the government at a dead end — all in the name of privacy and network security.

I’m not sure why he believes he can have a technological means of access that somehow only works for people of the correct morality with the proper legal documents, but he seems to believe that’s possible. As Jeffrey Vagle and Matt Blaze point out, there’s no technical difference between Comey’s “front door” and a “back door.”

Britain’s Intel Chief: Our Spies Would Rather Quit Than Do Mass Surveillance – GCHQ Director Sir Iain Lobban has continued to equivocate and dissimulate around the issue of surveillance in his valedictory speech, which he gave today ahead of his retirement at the end of this week.

Though the British intelligence agency is the NSA’s closest foreign partner in defending the West from critical threats to national security, Lobban neither mentioned Edward Snowden nor directly addressed the many allegations of mass snooping that have recently been levelled at the organisations. Instead, he chose to talk up the agency’s work against paedophiles, drug cartels, and terrorists, whilst defending GCHQ as a bastion of liberty.

However Snowden, the ex-NSA contractor who exposed the epic surveillance operations of intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, can’t have been far from Lobban’s mind. “The people who work at GCHQ would sooner walk out the door than be involved in anything remotely resembling ‘mass surveillance,” Lobban said.

But then Lobban described some of the work the agency carries out in a way many would deem as resembling exactly that. “We access the internet at scale so as to dissect it with surgical precision,” he said during his speech at the Churchill War Rooms in London. “You can’t pick and choose the components of a global interception system that you like—catching terrorists and paedophiles—and those you don’t—incidental collection of data at scale: it’s one integrated system.”

He claimed only a small percentage of global communications are within reach of the agency’s sensors and GCHQ only intercepts a small percentage of that. And of the data it intercepts, it stores only a “miniscule” amount for a limited period of time.

But Professor Ross Anderson, a long-time critic of the UK’s intelligence operations and head of cryptography at the University of Cambridge, said over email that Lobban’s definition of ‘mass surveillance’ is “nothing like yours or mine.”

“How come they collected over a million people’s Yahoo video chats, including a significant number of intimate chats?” Anderson asked. “There is no conceivable way that can be justified as targeted, proportionate or necessary. It fails the human rights test. It is mass surveillance.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 21, 2014

Six browser plug-ins that protect your privacy;  12 surprising ways personal technology betrays your privacy;  Meet Flic, the iOS photo manager for lazy people;  Office 16: Public beta could start soon;  8 ways Google is tying Chrome OS and Android together;  $179 10-inch Windows 8.1 tablet coming to Walmart;  How to Set Up Apple Pay on Your iPhone or iPad;  Six been-around-the-block tips for working more efficiently in Excel;  Gmail Android App to Support Yahoo, Outlook Accounts;  What’s in the hidden Windows AppData Folder;  Staples probes potential theft of customer credit card data;  Apple could sell record 62 million iPhones this quarter;  GTAV Beta scam: don’t get fooled;  Talk like a modern technology marketer (humor);  What can we learn from netbooks?  Candy Crush Soda Saga Arrives on Facebook;  System Explorer (free);  Australian government warrantless data requests pass 500,000;  Tech industry on the offensive against government.

12 surprising ways personal technology betrays your privacy – Our great privacy fears tend to be centered around others invading our privacy, whether it’s Google reading email, the boss monitoring your computer use, or the NSA eavesdropping on phone calls. The problem is, we don’t think about the very technologies we voluntarily embrace and what kind of snooping they do, and they do a lot of tracking. Some of it can and is used for benign or helpful reasons, but that can be turned against you very fast. Here are 12 ways your personal technology is betraying your privacy.

Six browser plug-ins that protect your privacy – Some plug-ins go beyond mere filtering, promising full-on privacy protection against cookies, trackers, third-party scripts and widgets, and other unwanted invasions. In this roundup I chose six products: AdBlock, Adblock Plus, Disconnect, DoNotTrackMe, Ghostery and Privacy Badger. There are dozens of other, similar, tools, but these represent a good cross-section of what’s available. They’re also among the most popular picks in the Chrome and Firefox extensions libraries.

Office 16: Public beta could start soon, with Android and touch versions to follow – The next version of Microsoft Office is reportedly on track for a spring 2015 launch, but Microsoft may offer a public beta much sooner. According to the well-connected Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft may launch a public test version of its desktop productivity software “any time now.” The company may also launch an Android tablet version of Office within a couple of months, and launch a touch-optimized Windows Store version in the spring.

Facebook sues lawyers of man who claimed to own the social network – Facebook says when Paul Ceglia claimed to own at least half of the world’s largest social network, at least one of his lawyers figured out he was lying. That’s the crux of a lawsuit filed by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company against DLA Piper, one of the world’s largest law firms, and several other lawyers connected to Ceglia and his claim that he owned 84 percent of Facebook.

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8 ways Google is tying Chrome OS and Android together – Chrome OS and Android are two separate and distinct operating systems, but the lines are beginning to blur, to the benefit of people who’ve gone all-in on Google.

$179 10-inch Windows 8.1 tablet coming to Walmart – The E Fun Nextbook will feature a quad-core Intel Atom processor and include a detachable keyboard when it becomes available in time for the holiday shopping season.

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Spotify’s Family plan offers separate accounts for everyone in your house – Tired of sharing your Spotify account with everyone at home, but don’t want to bother creating a second account? Pretty soon you won’t have to thanks to Spotify Family.

Meet Flic, the iOS photo manager for lazy people – People have been calling Flic the Tinder of photo apps, and that’s the perfect description: Use gestures to quickly clear out your Camera Roll and keep only the photos that matter.

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Six been-around-the-block tips for working more efficiently in Excel – Just because a tip has been used for a long time doesn’t mean it isn’t new to you. Learn a few of Susan Harkins’ old but reliable tips for working more efficiently in Excel.

Build polished business dashboards with these five web-based apps – Dashboards provide an effective way to present a focused look at selected data. Here are five tools that let you tap different data sources and quickly put together a custom dashboard.

Apple Pay: Your full list of stores, apps, and banks supporting it – Now that iOS 8.1 is here, so is Apple Pay! The update, which launched about 90 minutes ago (at the time we publish this article), brings in Apple Pay. For those with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you’ll get the ability to make purchases at several point-of-sale terminals via a myriad of banks (likely yours). For those without an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, Apple Pay is still usable. To help, we’ve put together a list of apps and stores where you can use Apple Pay.

How to Set Up Apple Pay on Your iPhone or iPad – Apple Pay, the newest “next big thing” out of Cupertino, hits shopping carts across the U.S. Monday both online and in stores. Paying with a swipe of your smartphone? That sounds like the stuff of the future. Or the stuff of Android phones since 2011. Or the stuff of Japan as far back as 2004. Regardless, it’s still a welcome leap for the 42.4% of American smartphone users who own an iPhone. Here’s how to set up Apple Pay, the company’s new cashless, cardless way to pay.

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Skype for Windows Phone Gets Snapchat-Like Drawing Feature – The Microsoft-owned chat service on Monday unveiled a new version of its Windows Phone app, complete with a brand new Snapchat-like drawing feature to help you harness your inner Picasso. With the latest version of the app, you can now draw on a blank canvas or add some silly additions to a photo, then share your masterpieces with friends.

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Google rolling out new anti-piracy search algorithm – Google will begin rolling out a change to its search algorithm that the media giant says will “visibly affect” rankings of piracy sites globally. The Mountain View, California company promised to do this in 2012. But at the time, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, and others said the changes to its search algorithm had “no demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy.” Google said the latest global algorithm changes, to roll out this week, will work.

Office Mix now lets PowerPoint users create on the fly – Microsoft wants to deliver a new wave of apps that are intuitive, intelligent, and mobile- and cloud-friendly—and its latest move is with Office Mix, a PowerPoint add-on aimed at teachers, for recording presentations and making them more interactive. Office Mix, launched in May, now lets presenters create “mixes” while they are giving their presentations live, by adding a new control panel that contains only the most essential features for building “mixes” without sacrificing the screen real estate for the slides the audience is seeing.

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Apple making 64-bit support mandatory soon – Your shiny new iPhone is about to get apps that work with it properly. Via the Apple Developer page, we find that starting early next year, all apps must have 64-bit support. Those apps must also be built with the latest Apple developer environment, and utilize the latest iOS SDK. It’s a push toward the future, but not one that should come as a surprise. Apple did the same thing with iOS 7, which was more a push for visual upgrades.

What’s in the hidden Windows AppData Folder, and how to find it if you need it – You know about Documents and other libraries. But some important data files are stored in the difficult-to-access AppData folder. Here’s what you need to know.

Report: Gmail Android App to Support Yahoo, Outlook Accounts – Support for Yahoo, Outlook, and other email providers within the Gmail app means you’ll soon be able to get all your mail without switching apps. Just like you can switch between different Gmail accounts within the email app, you’ll be able to move from Gmail to Yahoo to Outlook without leaving the Gmail app.

Security:

Staples probes potential theft of customer credit card data – Staples said late Monday that it is investigating a “potential issue” involving its customers’ credit card data in what could be the latest US retailer to fall victim to a payment card system security breach. The office supply chain announced it was working with law enforcement officials after security reporter Brian Krebs reported that “multiple banks” had identified patterns of payment card fraud that suggested data had been stolen from several locations in the Northeastern US.

FYI: OS X Yosemite’s Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you’re searching for – There’s growing disquiet over Apple’s desktop search app Spotlight, which sends queries for things back to the company’s servers to process. Spotlight phones home in OS X Yosemite, version 10.10, and it is enabled by default: it can be switched off, but with Apple insisting that it now takes people’s privacy seriously, the software has raised some eyebrows. It appears Spotlight sends queries, along with your location, back to Apple over the internet so the company can suggest related things from the web using Microsoft’s Bing engine. Apple says it needs to see your queries so it can improve Spotlight’s algorithms for suggesting things.

Apple clarifies Spotlight Suggestions data collection practices – Responding to concerns that Apple was automatically collecting user location and search query data through its latest Mac operating system, the company issued a statement Monday clarifying its customer data collection policies.

Chinese Big Brother launches nationwide attack on iCloud – The Great Firewall of China is the man-in-the-middle attack point targeting Chinese iCloud users by redirecting them to a fake iCloud site to hoover up usernames and passwords.

China again blames US for disrupted cybersecurity talks – China claimed on Sunday the U.S. has derailed cybersecurity cooperation between the two countries and that it doesn’t tolerate hacking. The statement came a day after Yang Jiechi, a state councilor who deals with foreign affairs, held discussions on Saturday in Boston with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on topics that included cybersecurity.

One of the most convincing phishing attacks yet tricks you with Dropbox sharing – Dropbox’s file storage service was used for a tricky phishing attack, although the service was quick to shut it down, according to Symantec. The security vendor said it detected a batch of phishing emails advising recipients that they’ve been sent a large file and included a link to Dropbox-hosted page. “The email claims the document can be viewed by clicking on the link included in the message,” wrote Nick Johnston of Symantec in a blog post. “However, the link opens a fake Dropbox login page, hosted on Dropbox itself.”

Cloud security: Think you’re blocking staff access to certain sites? Think again – Stopping staff using certain web services may be in decline outside regulatory environments, but even where it is being attempted it may be falling well short of its aims.

Company News:

Dish loses 7 channels in contract dispute with Turner Broadcasting – Dish Network customers lost access to CNN, Turner Classic Movies, and a handful of other channels late Monday as the result of a contract dispute with Turner Broadcasting. Turner Broadcasting, which licenses the channels for distribution to subscription services, pulled the channels from Dish’s lineup upon the expiration of its current deal with the satellite service after the two companies were unable to negotiate renewed distribution terms. Other channels removed from Dish include Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN en Espanol, Headline News, and truTV.

App Store Downloads Top 85 Billion, Revenue Up 36 Percent Year-Over-Year – Apple CEO Tim Cook announced today during the company’s FY Q4 2014 earnings call that Apple’s cumulative App Store downloads have now topped 85 billion up from 60 billion around a year ago. The number was announced alongside news of Apple’s massive quarter, and its record-breaking sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices.

Apple could sell record 62 million iPhones this quarter, analyst says – In an investors note released Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster forecast iPhone sales for the October-through-December quarter of anywhere from 56.7 million to 62.7 million. That range compares with overall Wall Street estimates of 60 million and some investor expectations as high as 63 million. The last quarter of the year is Apple’s first fiscal quarter, so these numbers actually mean Apple would start fiscal 2015 on a high note.

Lenovo tipped to make a bid for BlackBerry this week – Either Lenovo is very serious about stepping up its mobile phone business or it is getting very desperate. Aside from setting up a third mobile business to target China specifically, rumors are resurfacing that Lenovo is eying to buy BlackBerry out of its woes. Or perhaps the two moves are one and the same, which doesn’t make sense either. Whatever Lenovo has planned, we might very well know this week as sources close to the matter tip that Lenovo will be making an offer to buy BlackBerry sometime this week.

Qualcomm pushes 4K video streaming with prototype TV dongle – Qualcomm has a plan to liberate 4K video from high-end smartphones, and it involves a Chromecast-like prototype TV dongle. Qualcomm primarily sees the device as a way for users to beam homemade 4K video to their televisions, but it could eventually be used to stream 4K content from online sources such as Netflix. The dongle could also double as a wireless dock for phones and tablets, mirroring the display onto the big screen.

Yahoo’s Mayer set to outline her plan as criticism mounts – Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will defend herself and her strategy at a third-quarter investor conference call Tuesday, according to a new report. After Yahoo announces its third-quarter results that day, Mayer will take to the company’s earnings call to outline her plan for growth and announce that Yahoo is planning to make a major acquisition or two, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the chief executive’s plans.

Apple eyes $5 per month for Beats Music, report says – That’d be a substantial cut. Right now, Beats Music streaming costs $10 per month, in line with most other streaming services.

Games and Entertainment:

GTAV Beta scam: don’t get fooled – Over the past several weeks there’ve been an increased number of scams and phishing schemes showing up related to Grand Theft Auto 5. So very many of them have appeared, in fact, that RockStar Games are getting involved with massive warnings. What better way to continue fueling your own hype machine than by piggybacking on the mini-hype machines others are attempting to use to piggyback on you?

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343 Industries apologizes for Halo’s 20GB day-one content update – On November 11 Microsoft and 343 Industries will launch the Halo: Master Chief Collection for Xbox One. It brings together the first four Halo games, multiplayer modes, and additional content, as well as unlocking access to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta. However, there’s a feature of the release that not all gamers are going to appreciate, and it takes the form of a day-one 20GB content download. 20GB is a lot of data, but an amount most gamers will be able to cope with hopefully without incurring a charge. But let’s not forget those who have chosen to purchase a digital copy of the game. Come release day they’ll be waiting for 65GB of data to download.

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Xbox One to get custom backgrounds and many more features with November update – Microsoft has published a list of updates that are coming to the Xbox One as part of the November update and they include personalization, TV enhancements, IE updates and more.

‘Candy Crush Soda Saga’ Arrives on Facebook – Game maker King today launched a new reason to ignore your family and friends: Candy Crush Soda Saga. The sister title to everyone’s favorite time waster, Candy Crush Soda Saga is set in the familiar Candy Kingdom, but boasts new graphics, games modes, candy combinations, and gameplay mechanisms. Designed to be played alongside the original game, this installation promises fresh challenges for even those players who’ve managed to fight their way to the end of the original Candy Crush Saga.

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Pokémon teams up with manga horror legend Junji Ito to ruin your childhood – One of the world’s finest creators of comic book horror has teamed up with The Pokémon Company for a special “scary” collaboration.

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Lionsgate streaming service to join HBO and CBS in 2015 – The studio behind The Hunger Games is set to join CBS and HBO in their efforts to add a streaming service to the masses. This is Lionsgate Films, and they’re being joined in their efforts by Tribeca Enterprises. This service will be launched in the first half of next year, and it’ll be called – oddly enough – “Tribeca Short List.” This service will include John Wick, Crash, Monster’s Ball, The Hurt Locker, Juno, Ender’s Game, and Snitch. And don’t forget The Expendables – and a whole lot more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Talk like a modern technology marketer (humor) – Made-up words were in abundance during this fall’s software conference season. Your dauntless reporter traveled the world to bring back the latest in tech marketing speak. If you want to sound like you’re current with today’s dubious jargon, here’s a quick primer to get you all caught up.

DDoS Attacks: Legitimate Form of Protest or Criminal Act? – A basic premise of a democratic society gives its citizens rights to participate in debate and effect change by taking to the streets to demonstrate. In the U.S., this is enshrined in the Bill of Rights under the First Amendment. But what happens when we all effectively live, work, shop, date, bank and get into political debates online? Because online, as Molly Sauter points out in her book The Coming Swarm, there are no streets on which to march. “Because of the densely intertwined nature of property and speech in the online space, unwelcome acts of collective protest become also acts of trespass.” Sauter argues that distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are a legitimate form of protest. Or at least one that needs to be examined in a larger context of lawful activism, rather than hastily and disastrously criminalized under the Patriot Act.

Man falls into sea on live TV while possibly taking selfie – A man lifts his cell phone in front of his face to take the perfect shot. And then, a YouTube-worthy calamity.

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Professor Wozniak takes on new role at Australian university – Sydney’s University of Technology has a new teacher, with Steve Wozniak taking on his first ever adjunct professorship and being dubbed “the coolest person in the universe” in the process.

John Oliver’s all-dog Supreme Court on ‘Last Week Tonight’ is hilarious and free for anyone to remix – Comedian newscaster John Oliver has aired some hilarious and incisive sketches so far throughout the first season of his HBO show, Last Week Tonight. But there’s a new top dog among them: last night’s bit featuring an all-animal Supreme Court. Inspired by Keyboard Cat, the sketch — which features dogs as the nine justices, a duck as an assistant, and a pitch-perfect pecking chicken as a stenographer — is meant to mock the absurdity of the US Supreme Court’s refusal to allow its proceedings to be televised, despite permitting audio recordings.

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What can we learn from netbooks? – From 2007 to 2009, we saw the rise of the low-powered, dirt-cheap netbook. Today these clunky computers are frequently mocked — but they did teach us a lesson.

Monica Lewinsky joins Twitter – Describing herself as a social activist, public speaker and contributor to Vanity Fair, Lewinsky decides now is the time to enter the fray of immediacy.

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Something to think about:

“Only sick music makes money today.”

-      Friedrich Nietzsche  (1844 – 1900)

Today’s Free Downloads:

AdwCleaner – AdwCleaner is a program that searches for and deletes Adware, Toolbars, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), and browser Hijackers from your computer.

By using AdwCleaner you can easily remove many of these types of programs that intefere with your computers normal operations and get a better user experience particularly while browsing the web.

AdwCleaner specializes in removing:

- Adware: Programs which have been installed that are running unwanted advertisements on your system.

- PUP’s or Potentially Unwanted Program

- Toolbars

- Hijacker Home page, browser and advertisment hijackers.

For help using AdwCleaner check out our Malware removal guides or ask for help in our Majorgeeks Support Forums.

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WinMend Folder Hidden – WinMend Folder Hidden is a file / folder hiding tool. While ensuring the absolute system safety, this application can quickly hide files and folders on local partitions and/or on removable devices. The hidden files / folders will be safely hidden whether the drive is accessed in another operating system on the same computer or reinstalled on another computer.

You can set a password for this application. Hidden data can be displayed and unhidden only when the user enters the valid password. The data is completely invisible to other programs or on other operating systems.

Features:

Safety First:

The hiding technology will never damage any file data. It is safe and reliable.

High-Speed Hiding and Unhiding:

Whether it’s a file of dozens of GB, or a folder containing a lot of files, the file or the folder can be hidden and unhidden instantly.

Removable Drives Are Supported:

Files and folders on removable drives such as USB drives hidden by WinMend Folder Hidden are invisible not only in the computer where the hiding was completed, but in any computer.

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System Explorer – Detailed informations about Tasks, Processes, Modules, Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services, Drivers, Connections and Opened Files. Portable version also available.

System Explorer is free, awards winning software for exploration and management of System Internals. This small software includes many useful tools which help you Keep Your System Under Control. With System Explorer You get also fast access to File Database which help you to determine unwanted processes or threats. System Explorer is translated into 21 languages and is available for download in installer and portable version.

Features:

Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Australian government warrantless data requests pass 500,000 – Requests from government agencies for Australian telecommunications customers’ phone, internet, and address data surpassed 500,000 in the last financial year, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The figure was revealed in the ACMA’s annual report (PDF) released this month. It says that there were 563,012 authorisations granted to government agencies for access to telecommunications “metadata” in the 2013-14 financial year.

Under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, government agencies can force telecommunications companies to hand over details about their customers, including address, phone number, IP address, call data, SMS data, and other held information without a warrant for the purpose of enforcing the law.

The ACMA recorded that total disclosures amounted to 748,079 for the financial year including to law enforcement for a range of reasons, such as to avert a threat to life, assist the ACMA, or enforce the criminal law of a foreign country.

The number of requests by far exceeds the more than 300,000 requests made in the 2012-13 financial year reported by the Attorney-General’s Department in its Telecommunications (Interception and Access) report last year. The report for this year has yet to be tabled in parliament.

Tech industry on the offensive against government – In 2008 the U.S. government threatened Yahoo with daily $250,000 fines if it refused to comply with its demands for user data. What was Yahoo to do? Without any relief from the (secret) courts it had either to comply or commit corporate suicide. And we didn’t find out about it until just a few weeks ago.

Things have changed a lot. The biggest companies in the business are taking on the national security state. It began with court maneuvers by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Facebook to protect their reputations with customers by allowing them to disclose aggregate information about the extent of their compliance with government information requests.

The FISA court has permitted some, though not enough disclosure. The numbers these companies actually released don’t prove a lot, because the court would not allow them to disclose all important categories of government requests. The important part is that it shows the companies are taking their customers’ interests seriously and are working to protect them to the greatest extent possible. Assume this is the norm, such as in this recent letter from Facebook to the US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) telling them that they are obligated to follow Facebook’s terms of service the same as everyone else, and they are not permitted to use fake profiles in investigations.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 20, 2014

Hacked: The six most common ways non-tech people fall victim;  All your OS X 10.10 Yosemite how-to needs met, right here;  Secure, Private Email and Cloud Storage Alternatives to Gmail and Dropbox; Use Tinfoil for Facebook to protect your privacy on Android;  Android 5.0, Lollipop: The complete FAQ;  Windows 10: The votes are pouring in for these 10 features;  Here’s how Google’s Nexus 9 stacks up against Apple’s iPad Air 2;  Microsoft withdraws another buggy update;  7 must-have apps for iPad;  10 mirroring devices let you present without wires;  Can’t Sleep? 7 Apps to Help You Snooze;  Three services that take the headache out of creating a website;  Apple patches 144 security flaws across seven products;  Kickstarter Suspends Anonabox Campaign;  Once the FBI has a backdoor into your phone, everyone does.

Secure, Private Email and Cloud Storage Alternatives to Gmail and Dropbox – In this article, we take a look at some of the privacy-focused email and cloud storage services that have either sprung up or gained popularity in the wake of what’s popularly been referred to as the Summer of Snowden.

Use Tinfoil for Facebook to protect your privacy on Android – The developer, Daniel Velazco, refers to this app as “a wrapper for Facebook’s mobile site,” but it’s much more useful than it sounds. Behind the scenes, Tinfoil creates a sandbox for all of Facebook’s cookies, storing them independently from your normal browser cookies. This keeps your information from being leaked and tracked across other websites. Here’s how to get started.

Android 5.0, Lollipop: The complete FAQ – Google’s Android 5.0 Lollipop release is full of interesting new features and flavors. Here’s a detailed FAQ on everything related to the release.

All your OS X 10.10 Yosemite how-to needs met, right here – Apple’s OS X 10.10 Yosemite brings its desktop and laptop OS closer to the look and feel of iOS 8. It also includes a bevy of new exclusive features you won’t find on any other OS. At least for now. Here you’ll find every Yosemite tip, trick, how to, explainer and DIY — don’t expect many of those — the CNET How To team has posted. Expect constant updates over the next few weeks as we continue to delve deeper.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Here’s how Google’s Nexus 9 stacks up against Apple’s iPad Air 2 – On Wednesday, Google took the wraps off the Nexus 9, a spectacular new high-end tablet manufactured by HTC. Thursday, Apple announced the iPad Air 2, a modest upgrade to last year’s stellar iPad Air. Naturally, one runs iOS 8 and its associated apps, and one runs Android Lollipop and its apps. For many users, that’s difference enough to choose one over the other. If you’re not married to either ecosystem, and you want to know where to dive in, consider these points of comparison.

Windows 10: The votes are pouring in for these 10 features – One reason users hated Windows 8 is because it was thrust upon them. They had to like it or lump it. With the Windows 10 Technical Preview, that’s all changed. Microsoft wants to know what you want before the OS ships, and it’s provided a feedback mechanism: The Windows Feature Suggestion Box. Users can suggest and vote for new features to add. And the votes are pouring in, for everything from a revamped Notepad to a Persian calendar. The following 10 features have the most votes so far. Here’s hoping we’ll see them in Windows 10.

Microsoft withdraws another buggy update – A non-patch security update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 was causing systems to reboot. It’s been a rough few months for Microsoft’s update quality control.

7 must-have apps for iPad: Make the most of your iPad with these iOS apps – Just one month after announcing new iPhones and watches, Apple will unveil another set of new products on Thursday. While nothing is official yet, we’re anticipating next-generation iPads and Macs, the final release of Yosemite OS, and perhaps an Apple TV update. For the iPad, there are rumors of fingerprint sensors and a new color. Whether or not you’re ready for a tablet upgrade, our seven app picks will enhance your iPad experience.

Google’s latest anti-piracy efforts: download suggestions, demoted rankings – Google has been active in helping combat the issue of piracy, and as such has tried various methods to deter users away from copyright-infringing sources to legitimate download websites. Last year Google published a report called “How Google Fights Piracy”, which detailed the methods with which it was trifling and what users could expect as a result. That report has now been updated to encompass the changes that have taken place since its first publication, and among those changes is the addition of a large legit downloads suggestion box.

10 mirroring devices let you present without wires – Wirelessly sending a presentation from your laptop or tablet to a large screen is a breeze with one of these mirroring devices. The ten devices we’ve rounded up plug into a projector or large monitor and can mirror the display of a laptop, tablet or smartphone so you can make presentations from your own device — and from anywhere in the room.

This is not a toy: $250 Samsung Chromebook 2 has Intel CPU, fanless design, aluminum reinforcement – Chromebooks are moving beyond basic browsing. Samsung’s $250, aluminum-reinforced Chromebook 2 is designed to take a school’s worth of rough handling, and it’ll appeal to consumers as well.

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Can’t Sleep? 7 Apps to Help You Snooze – The solution to getting a good night’s sleep could lie in fitness devices that also function as sleep trackers, like the Misfit Shine and Basis B1 Band, giving us insight into our behaviors before bedtime and our patterns of sleep. But before you invest in another piece of hardware, you may want to try downloading an app or two. Though it might seem counterintuitive, there are apps and services that are intended to help you wind down and count virtual sheep instead of Facebook likes for awhile.

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Smartphones and tablets may be the cause of your sleepless nights but they could also be the cure.

Twitter starts adding tweets to your timeline from accounts you don’t follow – With immediate effect Twitter will start adding tweets to your timeline from accounts you have not chosen to follow. These aren’t promoted tweets (those will continue to appear, too), they are tweets Twitter has decided are either popular or relevant to you, and therefore you should see them.

Three services that take the headache out of creating a website – Even in this time of Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook many people argue you need your own online presence with a personal or professional website. Having your own website gives you a place to represent you that is under your complete control. Here are three free services that can help you create a website. By default, they all direct your newly created site to a generic domain name, but all three also let you use your own purchased website name if you choose.

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WordPress.com

Intel Bay Trail-based USB stick capable of running Windows 8.1 goes on sale – An Intel Bay Trail-based USB stick has gone on sale on Chinese retailer Alibaba’s website for just $110 excluding shipping. Unlike other USB dongles that provide the ability to mirror content to televisions, the Intel-based stick listed as Meegopad features a full blown x86 CPU capable of running most operating systems including Windows 8.1 and popular Linux distros such as Ubuntu and Fedora. The USB stick is just under 100mm long and is packed with a quad core Intel Atom CPU running at 1.7 GHz. Other specifications of the device include 1 GB DDR3 RAM, 2 MicroUSB ports, 1 HDMI port, 16 GB and 32 GB storage options, a memory card slot, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

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SoftMaker beta for Android tablets: A throwback to old-school ways – Back in the day, there wasn’t a single thing wrong with the tools we used. Yes, in comparison to how we work today, they were a bit limited, ugly, and single-minded. But they got the job done and did it well. So, when I installed the beta version of SoftMaker Office HD tools, I immediately tossed back to those “good ol’ days.” That’s right, SoftMaker has brought their tools, in full force, to the Android platform — and the second you open them, you’ll be right at home.

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Internet trolls will face up to two years in prison under new UK bill – British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling stated his intentions today to raise the criminal penalty for cyber trolling in the UK up to a maximum two year sentence, in an attempt to halt the spread of online abuse happening on social media and other sites.

Security:

Apple patches 144 security flaws across seven products – Patches are released for Mavericks, Mountain Lion, OS X Server and iTunes. A fix for the POODLE bug is included where appropriate. Most of the bugs are old ones in iTunes.

Anonymous app Whisper allegedly tracks user location, shares data with government – The app is accused by The Guardian of tracking users’ locations.

Hacked: The six most common ways non-tech people fall victim – In the era of BYOD, the less technical among us are prime targets for cybercrime attacks against your company. Learn the six top ways non-tech people get hacked.

MasterCards will soon come with a built-in fingerprint scanner – With all the recent security issues surrounding credit card numbers, there’s increasing interest in adding additional security measures. For example, PIN codes are being integrated with cards in many regions, but a company called Zwipe has something a little different in mind. Zwype is partnering with MasterCard to make a new kind of card that uses your fingerprint for authorization when the time comes to pay, and there’s no transaction limit.

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Once the FBI has a backdoor into your phone, everyone does – FBI director James Comey believes tech companies should be forced to insert back doors to bypass encryption on smartphones. But experts say once that happen,s security is moot and anyone can breach your privacy.

New Web vulnerability enables powerful social engineering attacks – Users who are careful to download files only from trusted websites may be tricked by a new type of Web vulnerability: this one cons them into downloading malicious executable files that are not actually hosted where they appear to be. The attack has been dubbed reflected file download (RFD) and is somewhat similar in concept to reflected cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks where users are tricked to click on specifically crafted links to legitimate sites that force their browsers to execute rogue code contained in the URLs themselves.

BBC takes a stand against ‘right to be forgotten’ – The BBC has taken a stand against what it says are wrongful removals under the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, and is planning to publish a list of its articles which are removed from Google.

Company News:

Google And Microsoft Battle For Market Cap Supremacy – Update: Microsoft pulled it off, and at the time of writing (2:45 pm London, 9:45 am New York), Microsoft is worth more than Google. We’ll check back in at the end of the day: – Google and Microsoft are currently locked in a dogfight to be the second-most valuable technology company in the world.

Kickstarter Suspends Anonabox Campaign – Well, it sounded good on paper, at least. Said Kickstarter, which raised an impressive amount of funding ($585,549) over its brief few days of existence, has since been suspended. While it blew past its initial funding goal of $7,500, Reddit members questioned the project’s integrity as a result of its creator’s claims that the Anonabox was an original creation which took four years’ worth of development to build.

Report: Microsoft is about to jump into the smartwatch fray – According to Forbes, Microsoft plans to release a smartwatch of its own “within weeks.” Forbes goes on to say that the smartwatch “will passively track a wearer’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms,” and that it would be able to go two days between charges. That would be an improvement over many current smartwatches, which often need to be charged nightly.

HBO may price online-only subscription service at $15 a month – HBO’s plans to bring its programming to Internet users via a Netflix-style streaming service may cost as much as bundling it with a cable package, according to a report.

Microsoft CEO ‘humbled’ by backlash to equal pay comments, outlines diversity plan – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is not done addressing the criticism over his recent remarks that women in the notoriously sexist technology industry shouldn’t be “asking for a raise” but should instead be “having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” After making those comments in early October at a conference celebrating women in tech, and then walking back them back on Twitter and in an internal email, Nadella is taking even more steps to apologize and emphasize that he is committed to greater gender equality at Microsoft.

Games and Entertainment:

The Binge-Watch List: Gilmore Girls are three generations of charming – It’s not hard to find TV shows to watch these days. But finding good ones to watch amid all the streaming video services fighting for your attention and your eyeballs? That’s more of a challenge. Every other week, we’ll help you separate a would-be House of Cards from the rest of the pack, as we look at which streaming TV shows are worth your time.

Watch ‘The Hobbit,’ as told in 72 seconds of Lego stop-motion animation – The YouTube stop-motion artists Brotherhood Workshop have condensed the story of The Hobbit down into 72 tight seconds (it is a kid’s book, after all) and animated it using Lego’s Hobbit-themed minifigs and sets. The results are simultaneously hilarious but also quite fun for Middle-earth fans — the whole thing feels like it could easily have been produced by Lego itself.

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Does your Xbox One controller randomly disconnect? – If you have an Xbox One, have you had any issues with your controller randomly disconnecting? We have received quite a few tips and it happens to us as well on occasion.

You Should Play: Side-scoller El is all about the powerful storyline – El isn’t your typical mobile game: For one thing, it’s wholly uncompetitive—the levels are only moderately challenging, and there are no bonuses awarded for completing the game at a higher difficulty. While El may not satisfy your lust for competition or endless gameplay, it’s absolutely worth a look for the following reasons.

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The game may be short, but it’s storyline is one you’ll want to visit again.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Do you think this cartoon is offensive? Many Indians do – Indians around the world have expressed outrage at the cartoon ostensibly because they’re tired of being depicted as snake charmers, fakirs or perched on flying carpets; they regard this cartoon as merely an extension of the gaze through which the West has looked at the East for hundreds of years. Indeed, Edward Said’s landmark book Orientalism chronicles much of this tendency.

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The recent New York Times cartoon referencing India’s Mission to Mars

Watch Earth roll by live in HD, streamed from the ISS – Get your relaxing Internet fix by sitting back and watching the Blue Marble roll away in real-time under the orbit of the ISS.

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The season you’re born in affects your moodiness, study says – Sometimes we struggle to discover why we’re the way we are. There are people who believe they’re naturally caring or miserable or just sensitive — whatever that might mean. Now a scientific study has come along to explain, at least to some extent, why people are moody. It seems to be quite simple: those born in the winter tend to be placid, friendly, lovable adults. Those born in the summer, however, are allegedly prone to be the moody snivellers whom we tolerate at our own peril. This, at least, is how the Telegraph reports a piece of research from Hungary.

Watch These Tiny Robots As They Fly Well With Others – The quadccopters at the University of Pennsylvania GRASP Lab are truly trained to follow the golden robot rule: fly with others as you’d fly with yourself. Thanks to researchers Yash Mulgaonkar, Gareth Cross and Vijay Kumar, we can see how close these little flying robots are to their noble goal. The team has also created a system for a sort of uncanny flocking behavior.

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Amazing footage of a F/A-18 Super Hornet’s low-level maneuvers – Despite being in service for more than 30 years, the F/A-18 Hornet continues to be a mainstay of American air power. The video was taken as planes took off and landed on the deck of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), an Enterprise-class aircraft carrier that actively served from 1962-2012. The jets take up their positions on the deck and are latched to a hydraulic arm that accelerates them down the short runway. When landing, a tailhook is used to slow the plane before it shoots off the other end of the ship. You can see what both of these moments are like from inside the cockpit in the video.

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Harnessing depression: One Ars writer’s journey – In his final piece for Ars, Dave Girard talks about life with depression – Getting to the point where I could write this article involved a series of debates. I debated talking about my father’s suicide; I debated “outing” myself as a depression sufferer; I debated not talking about it and what that meant. I decided in the end that I would be the worst kind of hypocrite if I believed that dialog about depression was essential but was unwilling to start that dialog myself. I hope that my story can help others understand why the traits that cause depression have been both a plague and a gift to so many.

Pointing up   As a traveller on the devastating road to major depression, I can tell you that depression is real. Thankfully, I have been symptom and medication free for better than 15 years, but the scars remain.

I encourage you to read this article – you may recognize someone you know. If you do, please hold out a helping hand.

Microsoft’s biggest Windows 10 challenge: Generating enthusiasm – There’s more to getting Windows 10 right than just perfecting the code. Microsoft needs to make us once again enthusiastic about Windows.

Secrets become history: Edward Snowden on film as Citizenfour – Citizenfour is filmmaker Laura Poitras’ account of the first meetings between herself, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden. It was first shown publicly last Friday, and it will open in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on October 24. For those who have followed the news around the Snowden documents, even in small doses, Citizenfour isn’t full of revelations (though there are a few surprises). But for viewers interested in surveillance, or the future of the Internet, or journalism—it won’t matter. The film is riveting, and its power is in its source material.

Something to think about:

“If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent. […] the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”

-      David Dunning

Today’s Free Downloads:

Earth Alerts – Earth Alerts is a Windows-based application that allows you to monitor in near real-time a variety of natural hazard events that are occurring anywhere around the world. Alert notifications, reports, and imagery provide the user with a convenient way to view natural phenomenon as they occur, whether close to home or some far-flung corner of the globe!

Earth Alerts uses a variety of online resources provided by organizations such as the National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey and Smithsonian Institution (just to name a few), to identify what sort of activities “Mother Earth” is currently dishing out on the planet.

To use Earth Alerts, you simply select the specific natural hazards — earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, tropical cyclones, wildland fires, landslides, severe weather, local weather, etc. — and the locations that interest you. The application will then automatically retrieve the latest information from various live data feeds available on the Internet and present it to you in a convenient arrangement of reports, maps and images.

Earth Alerts has been available to the general public since 2005. In that time it has undergone a number of significant enhancements. As a hobby, a one man production and a labor of love, conceiving the ideas and creating Earth Alerts has been a (time consuming) pet project over the past few years!

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WirelessNetView – WirelessNetView is a small utility that runs in the background, and monitor the activity of wireless networks around you. For each detected network, it displays the following information: SSID, Last Signal Quality, Average Signal Quality, Detection Counter, Authentication Algorithm, Cipher Algorithm, MAC Address, RSSI, Channel Frequency, Channel Number, and more.

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Combofix – Combofix is frequently updated, so we only provide a direct link to the author to ensure you are getting the latest version. Be sure to download it every time you need Combofix so you have the most recent version.

ComboFix is a program, created by sUBs, that scans your computer for known malware, and when found, attempts to clean these infections automatically. In addition to being able to remove a large amount of the most common and current malware, ComboFix also displays a report that can be used by trained helpers to remove malware that is not automatically removed by the program.

You should not run ComboFix unless you are specifically asked to by a helper. Also, due to the power of this tool it is strongly advised that you do not attempt to act upon any of the information displayed by ComboFix without supervision from someone who has been properly trained. If you do so, it may lead to problems with the normal functionality of your computer.

It is also understood that the use of ComboFix is done at your own risk.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

“Under internal review,” NSA CTO works part-time for agency’s former chief: It’s the second possible conflict of interest involving former NSA head Keith Alexander – The National Security Agency is now conducting an internal investigation of a top official’s part-time work for a private cybersecurity firm, according to Reuters.

That company, IronNet Cybersecurity, was founded by Keith Alexander. Alexander served as the head of the spy agency from August 2005 until March 2014. IronNet Cybersecurity currently offers protection services to banks for up to $1 million per month.

Last Friday, Reuters cited Alexander himself as well as other intelligence officials, reporting that current NSA CTO Patrick Dowd can work up to 20 hours per week for IronNet Cybersecurity.

This investigation marks the second time in less than two weeks that serious questions have been raised about possible conflicts of interest and questionable ethics involving Alexander. As Ars reported earlier this month, newly released documents show that during his tenure as director, Alexander personally had thousands of dollars invested in obscure technology companies that could have materially benefited as a result of his actions running the NSA.

The FBI Director’s Evidence Against Encryption Is Pathetic – FBI Director James Comey gave a speech Thursday about how cell-phone encryption could lead law enforcement to a “very dark place” where it “misses out” on crucial evidence to nail criminals. To make his case, he cited four real-life examples — examples that would be laughable if they weren’t so tragic.

In the three cases The Intercept was able to examine, cell-phone evidence had nothing to do with the identification or capture of the culprits, and encryption would not remotely have been a factor.

In the most dramatic case that Comey invoked — the death of a 2-year-old Los Angeles girl — not only was cellphone data a non-issue, but records show the girl’s death could actually have been avoided had government agencies involved in overseeing her and her parents acted on the extensive record they already had before them.

In another case, of a Lousiana sex offender who enticed and then killed a 12-year-old boy, the big break had nothing to do with a phone: The murderer left behind his keys and a trail of muddy footprints, and was stopped nearby after his car ran out of gas.

And in the case of a Sacramento hit-and-run that killed a man and his girlfriend’s four dogs, the driver was arrested in a traffic stop because his car was smashed up, and immediately confessed to involvement in the incident.

Comey described the cases differently. Here’s one….

Are American Tech Companies Disloyal? – FBI Director James Comey had some choice words this week for startups and technology companies about their increasing use of encryption and their responsibilities to law enforcement. Speaking at Brookings, Comey argued that “…if the challenges of real-time interception threaten to leave us in the dark, encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place.”

He specifically named Apple and Google as companies challenging the FBI in its pursuit of criminals. “Both companies are run by good people, responding to what they perceive is a market demand. But the place they are leading us is one we shouldn’t go to without careful thought and debate as a country.” He argued that the FBI is not looking for backdoors, but rather “We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law.”

As the debate over end-to-end encryption heats up, there is a fundamental question at work: What loyalty do companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook have to the U.S. government?

Facebook tells the DEA it can’t use phony profiles to go after suspects: Everyone has to use their real name on Facebook, even the feds – Facebook has a message for the DEA: if you want to use our service, you have to use your real name.

In a letter sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration on Friday, chief security office Joe Sullivan chided the agency for allowing one of its officers to lure criminals with a fake Facebook account created in a suspect’s name. “We regard the DEA’s conduct to be a knowing and serious breach of Facebook’s terms and policies,” writes Sullivan. He adds that the social network “asks that the DEA immediately confirm that it has ceased all activities on Facebook that involve the impersonation of others or that otherwise violate our terms and policies.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 17, 2014

FBI Director: If Apple and Google Won’t Decrypt Phones, We’ll Force Them To;  Whisper accused of monitoring users’ locations even after they opt out;  The best SSDs of 2014: A buyers guide;  All you need to know about Apple’s new iPads, iMac;  Speed up Chrome on Android with this handy hack;  Twitter Introduces New Way to Listen to Audio;  Which size Apple device is right for you?  Microsoft rolls out Skype 5.6 for iPhone; Windows 10: The biggest problems, gripes, and missing features so far;  Top free iOS, Android apps to learn how to program;  Firefox Hello adds video chat to Mozilla’s browser;  OS X Yosemite is now available to download;  Google reports $16.52 billion in revenue;  Drupal releases patch for serious SQL injection flaw;  CBS Announces Its Own Live TV And Streaming Service;  Steam’s biggest free weekend ever lets you play 10 top PC games for nothing;  Right Click Enhancer (free);  Free game alert: Steal a no-cost copy of Payday: The Heist for today only;  Court Limits Police ‘StingRay’ Cell Phone Tracking for the First Time.

FBI Director: If Apple and Google Won’t Decrypt Phones, We’ll Force Them To – Everyone is stoked that the latest versions of iOS and Android will (finally) encrypt all the information on your smartphone by default. Except, of course, the FBI: Today, its director spent an hour attacking the companies and the very idea of encryption, even suggesting that Congress should pass a law banning the practice of default encryption. It’s of course no secret that James Comey and the FBI hate the prospect of “going dark,” the idea that law enforcement simply doesn’t have the technical capability to track criminals (and the average person) because of all those goddamn apps, encryption, wifi network switching, and different carriers.

Whisper accused of monitoring users’ locations even after they opt out – Anonymish social network Whisper is tracking some users’ location even after they opt out of tracking, according to a new report. The Guardian reports that Whisper built a tracking tool enabling it to pinpoint users’ location to within 500 meters, an ability it has used to monitor messages sent from the Pentagon and the National Security Agency, among other targets. “A team headed by Whisper’s editor-in-chief, Neetzan Zimmerman, is closely monitoring users it believes are potentially newsworthy, delving into the history of their activity on the app and tracking their movements through the mapping tool,” the report says. “Among the many users currently being targeted are military personnel and individuals claiming to work at Yahoo, Disney and on Capitol Hill.”

All you need to know about Apple’s new iPads, iMac – With a fresh coat of gold paint and a Touch ID sensor, Apple beefs up its tablets. The new iMac also packs more pixels than an Ultra HDTV. Bridget Carey wraps up the highlights from Apple’s announcement.

The best SSDs of 2014: A buyers guide – When I sat down to write this article, I thought it would be straightforward: “Write an SSD guide,” my editor said. “Make some recommendations!” he said. What could be simpler? It turns out, quite a bit — but the good thing about getting hip-deep into a product segment is that I get to wade back out and describe the thinking process that ought to go into choosing an SSD. This guide is written for those of you who bought a small SSD back in 2008-2010 and are now looking for an upgrade, as well as those who are hopping in for the first time and are looking for a basic primer.

Pro tip: Speed up Chrome on Android with this handy hack – If you’re looking to squeeze out as much performance from Chrome on your Android device, Jack Wallen has two simple hacks that’ll bring you a much improved experience.

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Twitter Introduces New Way to Listen to Audio – Twitter has created a new way for users to play audio inside tweets, announcing Thursday that they have teamed up with Soundcloud to bring a full catalogue of music and other recordings to Twitter. Embedding audio inside tweets is nothing new, but this freshly developed audio card allows a user to additionally “dock” a music card inside the app while continuing to scroll through the timeline while listening simultaneously.

Get your phone into the holiday spirit with these great Halloween apps – Whether you want to blast the undead or practice pumpkin carving with your little goblins, there’s plenty of ways to ramp up your Halloween spirit with Android apps. We’ve dug up both spooky and cute games, wallpapers, and apps that should put you in the Halloween spirit. Most are either free or just a couple of bucks, well worth the cost for some spooktacular delight.

Microsoft rolls out Skype 5.6 for iPhone, now optimized for every display size – Microsoft has released an updated version of its Skype app for iPhone, with improvements to optimize the UI to display more conversations and messages on the larger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

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Firefox Hello adds video chat to Mozilla’s browser – Eager to infuse the Web with the communications interactivity of mobile apps, Mozilla on Thursday announced a video chat service called Hello. The technology, built into the beta version of Firefox, lets people set up free video or audio calls with others using Firefox. Mozilla will gradually enable the feature in coming weeks.

Dictionary.com launches new app for word nerds – One dictionary, one would think, is much like any other dictionary: a useful resource, to be sure, but with little variance in general functionality. But Dictionary.com is working hard to prove that not all dictionary apps are created equal. The service, which originally launched in 1995, is celebrating Dictionary Day this year by giving its iPhone app a massive overhaul. Possibly the new feature that users will notice first is that the app is consolidating all its premium dictionaries.

Which size Apple device is right for you? – With so many different sized iPhones and iPads, how do you pick the device for you needs and hand size? We have a handy guide to help you.

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OS X Yosemite is now available to download – Apple’s latest desktop operating system, OS X Yosemite, is now available to download from the Mac App Store. It’s a free update, and it delivers a whole host changes, most notably a revamped visual style that’s a lot more colorful than the OS X you’re used to. In fact, the Yosemite makes your Mac’s operating system look a lot more like iOS than traditional OS X, and it brings the two operating systems together in a few more ways too.

A visual tour of OS X Yosemite’s changes – When the first Yosemite Public Beta was released, we ran through a bunch of apps and compared them side-by-side with their Mavericks iterations to show just what had changed, and by how much. Apple continued to tweak the look of the interface throughout the beta period, addressing a few of our initial gripes. Below is a comprehensive visual tour of Yosemite’s new changes. Many of these screenshots are similar to what shipped with the Public Beta, so we’ll be sure to highlight those elements that have changed significantly since then.

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Windows 10: The biggest problems, gripes, and missing features so far – Two weeks in, and already 1 million people have joined the Windows Insider Program to try out the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Solid usage doesn’t mean that everyone loves Windows 10, however — in fact, using Windows 10′s built-in feedback tool, thousands of testers have made it very clear that Microsoft’s new OS still has lots of irksome bugs and misses many much-needed features. Here’s an excerpted list of what people think of Windows 10 Technical Preview so far.

Apple Built A SIM Card That Lets You Switch Between AT&T, Sprint, And T-Mobile – Whoaaa — here’s an interesting bit that went unmentioned in today’s Apple announcement: Apple has seemingly built a SIM card that lets you jump between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile without having to swap it out (or, more annoyingly, track down/purchase a new SIM card when you want to switch carriers). Instead of swapping the card, you just pick a new carrier through the device’s on screen settings. As it should be!

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Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 RC is available to download now – Back in July, Microsoft rolled out its Release Candidate (RC) for Visual Studio 2013 Update 3, and revealed that it was already working on the next update to its suite of developer tools. Today, the company announced that Update 4 RC is now available to download.

Microsoft updates Windows App Studio Beta with 9 new languages and Windows Phone 8.1 – Microsoft has released an update for the Windows App Studio Beta to enable localization in nine new languages and the ability to sideload apps on Windows Phone 8.1 for testing. Windows App Studio was launched by Microsoft last year, to introduce new developers to Modern Apps on Windows and Windows Phone. The relatively easier process to develop apps with App Studio was received well and managed to bring 55,000 new apps to the platform.

Kid-Friendly Osmo iPad Accessory Coming to Apple Stores – The evolution of children’s toys, from Matchbox cars to smartphone-controlled droids, continues with the learning-enhanced Osmo product for iPad. Developed last year by a pair of ex-Googlers under the working title of Tangible Play Inc., Osmo uses a reflective mirror that clamps over an iPad’s camera to turn the surface in front of the screen into an interactive play area.

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Top free iOS, Android apps to learn how to program – No matter the age, learning a programming language is a marketable skill. Here are mobile apps to assist you.

Security:

Drupal releases patch for serious SQL injection flaw – Drupal, which is a volunteer open-source project whose software is used by websites such as The White House and the Economist, said all of 7.x releases prior to 7.32 are affected, according to an advisory. Administrators should update to version 7.32. If that is not possible, a patch is available for the “database.inc” file that fixes the problem.

Got a Mac? Prevent OPSEC leakage by cleaning hidden OS X files from USB drives – If you have a Mac, and if BadUSB or the code released at DerbyCon to make BadUSB work didn’t scare you off from using thumb drives, then you might want to start using a free app like CleanMyDrive. Why? Because OS X has been accused of leaking data and metadata that “really shouldn’t be there” as it copies “hidden” files to USB drives. F-Secure’s Sean Sullivan related the following “true story” that involves “unknowns.”

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‘The Snappening’: stolen Snapchat photos site defaced, details of site owner published – Owner of TheSnappening.org photo site, Mudit Grover, took the stolen Snapchat images and the site down. But within hours, attackers identifying themselves as “Team Danny” allegedly took over the domain and published Grover’s personal details.

Utterly crazy hack uses long-distance lasers to send malware commands via all-in-one printers – If you saw it in a movie, you’d never believe it’s true. But it is. Researchers have developed Morse code for transmitting data via pulses of light sent to a scanner via a laser.

Company News:

Google reports $16.52 billion in revenue, profits stutter as ads move to mobile – Google posted mixed results for its third quarter this year. Revenue was $16.52 billion, not excluding traffic acquisition costs, a 20 percent rise over the same period in 2013. But its profit of $3.72 billion was down slightly from the same period in 2013, when it reported $3.76 billion in profit. Analysts were expecting the company to generate earnings per share of $6.53, but Google reported an EPS of $6.35. The stock was down a little, about 3 percent, based largely on that miss.

CBS Announces Its Own Live TV And Streaming Service, CBS All Access – The new subscription-based service will begin offering live streams from 14 of CBS’s largest markets (and soon, more), plus full seasons of 15 prime time TV shows after they air, as well as past seasons of 8 popular series (e.g., The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Survivor, etc.). The service also includes free access to over 5,000 “classic” TV shows from its back catalog like Star Trek, Cheers, MacGyver,Twin Peaks, and CSI:Miami, and access to exclusive special events like the The Grammy Awards, The Academy Of Country Music Awards, The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and more.

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AMD plans to cut staff by 7% – AMD’s new chief is making her mark quickly: By the end of 2014, the chipmaker will cut worldwide headcount by about 7 percent in a restructuring plan it hopes will put it on the path to improved profits. The layoffs will start immediately, and come just a week after AMD appointed former chief operating officer Lisa Su as the company’s CEO. She replaced Rory Read, who held the post since August 2011.

Oracle sued over employee no-poaching agreement with Google – A former employee of Oracle has sued the company for allegedly conspiring with Google to prevent poaching of certain categories of managers from each other, in a bid to keep salaries low. Oracle’s restricted hiring agreement with Google was part of a bigger conspiracy by technology companies, located mainly in Silicon Valley, that prevented solicitation of each other’s managers, according to a class action complaint from Greg Garrison, who handled sales of Oracle’s Crystal Ball software from about December 2008 to June 2009.

Photo-sharing site Twitpic to shut down after all – After announcing it had found a mystery buyer, the company again announces its plan to shut down at the end of the month.

Wal-Mart’s e-commerce sales to hit $12.5 billion as investment continues – Wal-Mart’s digital reinvention revolves around leveraging the retailer’s unique assets instead of chasing Amazon.

Games and Entertainment:

Steam’s biggest free weekend ever lets you play 10 top PC games for nothing – Ten top PC games can be played in full on Steam this weekend, and the titles are being discounted if you want to keep playing when Monday rolls around.

Here Is ‘Hatred’, a Video Game Where You Do Nothing But Murder Innocent People – Many have pointed out that, over a decade ago, proponents of video games defended them against claims their violence inspired school shootings, and now threats are lodged to shoot up a school over video games. A game about slaughtering everyone for shits and giggles rolled out the red carpet for itself amid all that. Now, does that mean Hatred will lead to violence? Probably not. Violent video games? Ditto. Does that mean we don’t get to call Destructive Creations living garbage? Not in the slightest!

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A still from Hatred. Image: Destructive Creations

Microsoft gamifies the Xbox One Preview program – In a bid to make sure beta testers submit as much feedback as possible Microsoft is now adding some small game elements and a point system to its Xbox One Preview program. Other rewards may come soon.

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Sony unveils version 2.0 of PlayStation 4 OS, biggest update yet – Sony has announced a new system update for its PlayStation 4 console, one that will bring the OS to version 2.0. This update will bring new features, bug fixes, UI changes and more.

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‘Lord of the Rings: Legends’ Begins Its Quest on iOS, Android – There’s a new Lord of the Rings Game in town, and it’s got more than 100 characters from the LotR universe for you to discover and unite into the ultimate fellowship. Of course, there are orcs and other creatures to battle as you explore Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings: Legends is free-to-play and available on iOS and Android. Wondering how the in-app purchases work? Well, they aren’t bad.

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Free game alert: Steal a no-cost copy of Payday: The Heist for today only – You can get a copy of Payday: The Heist for free on Steam today, and you don’t even have to steal it. From now until 10AM Pacific on Friday, Overkill Software is letting you waltz into the vault and leave with the game at zero cost. It’s part of Overkill’s “Crimefest” promotion, which gave out rewards as more people joined the Payday 2 Steam group. The group reached its goal of 1.5 million members, so for 24 hours the original Payday is free to grab (and keep forever).

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s Schmidt Stands Firm On Not Applying Europe’s Search De-Listing To Google.Com – Google’s Eric Schmidt has held the line against extending European search de-listing requests to Google’s .com domain. As it stands, successful requests made by private individuals under the ruling for information to be de-indexed by Google in a search associated with their name are only implemented by Google on European sub domains, such as Google.co.uk or Google.de, not on Google.com. And that’s not about to change, according to comments made by Schmidt today — presumably unless Google is compelled to expand de-indexing to .com by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the future.

The US Is Trying to Get 10 Countries to Enforce Its Draconian Copyright Laws – The Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, has come under fire plenty of times already for its potential ability to rewrite global privacy and copyright laws. A newly leaked draft, however, suggests that certain types of pirates and counterfeiters will be a main target of the agreement.

Court rules parents can be held responsible for kid’s Facebook posts – Kids are notorious for saying dumb things, and now that communication has shifted towards a digital medium, those dumb things are often posted for everyone to see. If a new court ruling is any indication, parents may be held responsible for any legally dubious thing their child posts in the future, whether it is a fake threat or very real cyber bullying. Such is the case for two individuals in Georgia, where a court as ruled that they could be held responsible for a fake Facebook page operated by their son.

Saudi Arabia Beheaded 59 People So Far This Year — But Hardly Anyone is Talking About It – The string of beheadings of American and British hostages at the hands of the Islamic State has drawn horror and intense media scrutiny the world over, redoubling international determination to defeat the extremist group. But with IS dominating headlines, it is easy to forget that Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council and a close ally of America in the war against the Islamist fighters, is itself routinely carrying out the practice of beheading. Last month saw Saudi Arabia behead at least 8 people — twice the number of Western hostages who have so far featured in IS’s barbaric execution videos

Unplug While on Vacation? Never! – Most modern travel checklists include a passport, enough underwear to last the trip, a phone charger, an e-reader charger, a laptop charger, and a book—in case you lose one of your chargers. A new study from travel service Expedia and its business brand Egencia reveals the deep connection people feel toward their mobile devices: 94 percent of folks carry at least one gadget during a personal vacation, and 97 percent bring one or more on a business trip.

Something to think about:

“He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”

-      Chinese Proverb

Today’s Free Downloads:

Right Click Enhancer – A control panel for your right click menu on windows. Add most used applications and folder shortcuts in your right click menu. Manage these right click shortcuts by creating right click sub menus and putting them into these sub menus. Easily remove or disable right click menu entries added by other applications. Save valuable time by using right click tweaks that provides easy to use quick operations directly in your right click. Save time in copy paste operations by adding new folder shortcuts in send to menu. Add new file types into New menu to ease the operation of creating new files. Add templates files to new menu so you can get preformatted files upon creating new files and start working on it in less time.

Dictionary .NET – Dictionary .NET is a tiny, easy and smart multilingual dictionary translating from/to 52 languages using Google´s services.

Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese-simp, Chinese-trad, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh, Yiddish

Integrates Google Dictionary, Translate, Search, Suggest, Wikipedia 5-in-1 without installing them.

Features:

Smart Translation

Translate selected text with a hotkey

Full-Text Translation

Text suggestions

Single click without selected text

Translate a web page

Open File to Translate

Multilanguage List

Wikipedia Search

Dictionary .NET is provided as freeware for personal use.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI director to citizens: Let us spy on you – In a post-Snowden plea for a policy more permissive of spying, FBI Director James B. Comey raised the specters of child predators, violent criminals, and crafty terrorists to argue that companies should build surveillance capabilities into the design of their products and allow lawful interception of communications. In his speech given at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, Comey listed four cases where having access to a mobile phone or laptop proved crucial to an investigation and another case where such access was critical to exonerating wrongly accused teens.

All of that will go away, or at least become much harder, if the current trend continues, he argued.

New Zealand cops raided home of reporter working on Snowden documents – New Zealand’s national police ransacked the home of a prominent independent journalist collaborating with The Intercept on stories from the NSA archive furnished by Edward Snowden. The stated purpose of the raid was to identify the source for allegations that the reporter, Nicky Hager, recently published in a book that caused a major political firestorm and led to the resignation of a top government minister. But authorities may have also taken source material concerning unrelated stories.

Court Limits Police ‘StingRay’ Cell Phone Tracking for the First Time – The  Florida Supreme Court has ruled that warrantless tracking of people’s location using their cell phone signal is unconstitutional, a move that could have far-reaching consequences and suggests that the most common use of police surveillance tools called StingRays is illegal.

First draft of ‘internet bill of rights’ revealed in Italy – An early version of the document puts anonymity, privacy, and net neutrality at the heart of Italian web users’ rights – but not everyone’s happy.

Australian spy agency spies on itself – You wouldn’t use an agency that didn’t realise it was spying on itself; and spying on its own is exactly what Australia’s domestic spy agency did.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) accidentally intercepted calls made by one of its own regional offices.

The interception was a breach of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, which allows ASIO to use listening devices and computer access.

The breach, which was revealed in the agency’s annual report, was self-reported by ASIO staff and blamed on a technical glitch.

ASIO deleted the intercepted information, and said processes have been put in place to prevent the error from occurring again.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 16, 2014

My five favorite free Windows utilities;  You Can Now Watch Vines on Your Xbox;  5 steps to lock down your webmail account;  The 6 best features of Google’s new Nexus 6;  The 9 best features of Google’s new Nexus 9 tablet;  When and where to get Android 5.0 Lollipop;  Get quick translations with Google’s Translate extension;  Facebook Safety Check;  6 apps for tuning your guitar;  Confide app – – messaging for professionals;  Mobile advertisers use malware tricks to get installs;  How to take a screenshot on your Android phone;  Look out, cable TV, Netflix! Here comes HBO to the Internet;  The 21 games that should be installed on every iPhone;  Google introduces the $99 Nexus Player;  Xbox One October update goes live;  UN Report Finds Mass Surveillance Violates International Treaties and Privacy Rights;  Root Genius (free);  Cop cracks woman’s iPad passcode to rescue her after crash.

My five favorite free Windows utilities: Whenever I set up a new PC, these are the first programs I install – Everyone has their favorite tools, especially when it comes to Windows. Today I thought I’d share my favorites — the programs I absolutely must have. They’re all free, and they’re always free, so no worries today about anything selling out or a sudden price change.

Android 5.0 Lollipop is here along with the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player – Google’s next version of Android is here, and we now know that the “L” from that Android L preview back at Google I/O stood for Lollipop. Android 5.0 brings with it an army of UI and functionality changes, but perhaps more importantly the announcement brings new hardware. Lollipop is launching with a three screen attack plan in the form of a 6-inch smartphone from Motorola, a 9-inch tabletfrom HTC, and another attempt at putting Android on your television.

The 9 best features of Google’s new Nexus 9 tablet – Don’t feel blindsided—Google surprised us all with its new Nexus devices, but its tablet is chock full of powerful, next-gen features.

The 6 best features of Google’s new Nexus 6 – The Nexus 6 is a pretty remarkable step forward for the company. Nexus phones and tablets have typically been middle-of-the-road, aimed at developers more than everyday consumers. Here are the best features of the newly announced phone.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

When and where to get Android 5.0 Lollipop: Find out when your device will be updated to the latest version of Android – The operating system is the most drastic change to Android since the release of Ice Cream Sandwich in late 2011. Lollipop features a redesigned user interface referred to as Material Design, along with improvements to the lock screen and notification menu. The update also delivers improved battery life and performance. The first two devices to run Android 5.0 Lollipop are the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, but what about your existing device?

Get quick translations on websites with Google’s Translate extension – This extension lets you skip the copy and pasting from one tab to another by offering an easy-to-use right-click menu that translates words or phrases.

Facebook Safety Check tells friends you’re okay during natural disasters – Facebook is introducing a new Safety Check feature designed to help friends and family members check on loved ones during natural disasters. The tool works by triggering a push notification on devices that are near an affected area. Facebook determines location from cities listed in profiles, last location from the Nearby Friends feature, or the city you’re connecting and using the internet from. If a Facebook user is safe they simply hit the ‘I’m safe’ button and a notification and News Feed story will be generated automatically.

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Google wastes no time refining Classroom, its app platform for education – Making clear that it’s serious about its foray into education software, Google has pushed out a set of enhancements for its Classroom app, barely two months after its release. Classroom, announced in May and released in August after being tested by 100,000 teachers in 45 countries, is available to Google Apps for Education customers and taps suite components like Gmail, Drive and Docs. It’s meant to be a tool that helps teachers with basic tasks, such as creating and organizing assignments, providing feedback and communicating with students. Classroom also provides a section for teachers to post information about their classes.

Meet Ubi, the tiny voice-activated computer that wants to control your smart home – While it’s small enough to be an oversized wall wart, the Ubi is far more interesting for what it can do. Plug this tiny computer into an AC outlet, connect it to your Wi-Fi network, and you gain the ability to control many of your home-control systems—lighting, thermostat, music-streaming services, and so on—using nothing more than voice commands.

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How to take a screenshot on your Android phone – Once upon a time, in order to take a screenshot on an Android phone, you had to install the Android developer tools. These days, you can take screenshots on phones running Android 4.0 or later with the press of a couple buttons. On most Android phones, you can take a screenshot by holding down the Sleep/wake button and the volume-down button simultaneously. Hold these buttons down until your screen flashes.

Getting in tune: 6 apps for tuning your guitar – If you play guitar or another string instrument, one of the thankless tasks you do before you play—and in between songs—is getting your instrument in tune. There are several ways you can do this: You can have another instrument—preferably one that doesn’t go out of tune—play a note, and then tune your other strings to that one. You can use a tuning fork for one string, and tune the rest of your strings to that. Or you can buy an electronic tuner that you clip on your guitar. But if you have an iPhone or iPad, why not use an app? There are lots of apps that can help you tune your guitar, or other instruments; here are five of them.

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Gibson’s free tuning app shows the precise frequency of the note you’ve played.

Confide app adapts ephemeral messaging for professionals – The way Confide works is this: Users can sign up with either a phone number or a work email address. When messages are sent, they’re encrypted end to end. A user receiving a message will see a screen with blocks over the words. Using a process the founders dubbed “wanding,” the user runs his or her finger just below the blocks revealing a few words of the message at a time. Part of the thinking behind these blocks is that they prevent screenshots of more than a couple words. If someone does try and take a screenshot, he or she is kicked off the message.

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Best business phones? Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry – There are some outstanding smartphones available for the business user and in this article Matthew Miller identifies the best ones running iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry.

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You Can Now Watch Vines on Your Xbox – The Xbox marketplace launched a new app Wednesday that brings Vine’s hypnotically looping 6-second videos to a bigger screen: the living room TV. The Vine app, now available for download, displays the most popular clips in channels such as Art, Music & Dance and Comedy. Users can swipe through clips by making air gestures at Kinect’s motion sensor or giving voice commands from the couch.

Security:

5 steps to lock down your webmail account – For most people Gmail, Outlook.com or Yahoo! Mail is their main personal account. Here are some of the most important steps to keep unwanted people out of your web-based email account.

Mobile advertisers use malware tricks to get installs – We’ve written about advertisers misleading users with scary “you are infected” ad pop-ups in order to get installs of a certain security app and we also know malware uses these tactics. Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more of this, but this time advertisers are using these banner and pop-up ads to get installs of more trustworthy apps like Dolphin browser. The messages are less scary than the virus related ones, but they are still meant to get your attention. It seems a bit backwards but it’s all about making money, ad developers are just as greedy as malware authors–just not as malicious. Using a tool like Adblock Plus which will filter URL traffic can help prevent most of these ads. Adblock Plus is a third-party app, will require a bit of configuration and only blocks WiFi traffic.

Attacker takes over Facebook page set up for ‘Bucket List Baby’ Shane, posts porn – A Facebook page set up to chronicle the extremely short life of a baby with the rare, terminal condition of anencephaly was hijacked within days of the infant’s death and set to display lewd images. The parents, who had lost their child mere days before, fell for one of the most vile phishing attacks ever.

SQL injection flaw opens Drupal sites to attack – The Drupal 7 core is vulnerable to a “Highly Critical” SQL injection bug that could allow an attacker to compromise the site.

Company News:

Reddit Acquires Alien Blue, The Most Popular Unofficial Reddit App – If you’re even kind of active on reddit, you probably know of Alien Blue. As far as perusing reddit on iOS goes, it’s pretty much the undisputed champ. It seems reddit would agree. The company has just taken Alien Blue under its wing, acquiring the project assets and hiring its sole developer.

eBay misses slightly on revenue, but PayPal stays strong – The company’s marketplace business continues to grow, despite a security breach in the spring, but it doesn’t meet Wall Street’s expectations for overall revenue.

Netflix stock tanks after hours in response to low subscriber numbers – Netflix stock is down nearly 20 percent after hours, following lower-than-expected subscriber figures during Q3 2014 and rising threats from many of Netflix’s competitors.

Look out, cable TV, Netflix! Here comes HBO to the Internet – HBO has long offered some Internet video streaming to its existing cable customers. Starting in 2015, HBO will fully embrace the cord-cutter revolution by delivering a standalone Internet service.

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HBO GO style Internet TV streaming will be available to anyone who wants to pay for it in 2015.

Intel to hit 40 million mobile chip units with aid of subsidies – Intel is buying its way into the mobile market with subsidies to vendors, but that investment — on track to lose $4 billion in 2014 — is needed if it’s going to threaten the ARM ecosystem.

Games and Entertainment:

Google introduces the $99 Nexus Player, a set-top box for entertainment and gaming – A third device was unexpectedly announced by Google today: the Nexus Player – a set-top box built by ASUS, which runs Android TV and includes a voice-activated remote, with a gamepad sold separately. Nexus Player will be available for pre-order on October 17, with wider in-store availability beginning on November 3. The device will cost just $99, which includes a remote controller that incorporates a microphone for voice interactions with the box itself.

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GOG.com dangles free copies of Alien Versus Predator game for Galaxy client testers – PC gaming service GOG.com wants your help in trying out the multiplayer chops of Galaxy, its upcoming Steam-like gaming client, and it’s enticing sign-ups by offering free copies of Alien Versus Predator Classic to testers.

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The 21 games that should be installed on every iPhone – Too many of the best games for iPhone are victims of an out of sight, out of mind economy. After a game’s launch, it sinks into the quicksand of mobile gaming junk until it’s buried deep beneath thousands of free-to-play cash-ins. Curation has in large part been left to those who remain passionate about the phone as a gaming platform, despite Apple. What follows is a list of the 21 games that should be installed on every iPhone. As exceptional games continue to be released on the iPhone, we will expand this list. And we will create a similar list dedicated the the iPad and games that make the best use of its larger screen.

Xbox One October update goes live with UI changes and MKV support – The October update for the Xbox One is now rolling out to all users. With it comes a brand new Friends tab on the dashboard, MKV support and numerous improvements to Snap Center.

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Every episode of ‘Friends’ is coming to Netflix in USA and Canada – Every episode of Friends is coming to Netflix, according to a tweet from Netflix and an announcement at today’s Time Warner investor event. The show, which ran from 1994 to 2004, follows the hijinks of a group of friends living in a version of New York City that looks absolutely nothing like New York City. It is one of the most popular television shows of all time, making it a big get for the streaming company. The show will arrive on Netflix on January 1, 2015.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Cop cracks woman’s iPad passcode to rescue her after crash – After a driver’s OnStar alert system reportedly gives police inaccurate locations for a crash, the local department’s tech geek thinks fast, breaks into the driver’s iPad at her home and finds her via an Apple app.

Gamergate backlash hits front page of the New York Times – The New York Times today published a front-page article on the increasingly hostile threats that female video game critics are facing, underscoring the growing backlash against the so-called Gamergate movement. The report, published Thursday, comes one day after the leading video game trade group spoke out against the controversy, whose supporters claim they are rallying against perceived corruption in gaming journalism but who have become inextricably linked with misogyny and harassment.

Sexism, alive and well in the tech world – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has backed off from his remarks, but the bottom line is that Microsoft, along with much of the tech industry, still sees women as second-class citizens.

Parents face defamation trial over fake Facebook page their kid made – Two parents whose teenager set up a fake Facebook page to ridicule a classmate will face a defamation trial, a Georgia appeals court ruled yesterday. Even though they didn’t create the page, the parents could be liable because they allowed it to remain up for more than a year, the court said.

TechSpot: History of the Microprocessor and the Personal Computer, Part 5 – This is the fifth and final installment in a series exploring the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the first transistor to modern day chips powering our connected devices.

Too much Google Glass lands one man treatment for Internet addiction – A man who used Google Glass for 18 hours a day was admitted to a substance abuse and recovery program for Internet addiction disorder, according to a report from The Guardian Tuesday and a scientific paper published about the patient. The 31-year-old man was serving the US Navy at the time he was admitted to the program, where he was using Google Glass in his job making inventories of convoy vehicles, according to Newsweek. He had a history of substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder. He only removed the device to sleep and take showers.

Something to think about:

“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”

-      Bob Dylan

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tor Browser Bundle 4.0 – Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.

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Root Genius – Root Genius is the best tool for root any Android smartphone or tablet PC supporting more than 10000 Android devices. Root Genius windows version doesn’t require any installation on your PC. Simply download rootgenius and run while your device connected to the PC. You can root Android Kitkat 4.4.2 within one click, for example. Root Genius is developed by Chinese developer team “Shuame”. Please go through our Root genius tutorial, Troubleshoot section and Kitkat rooting video before you start root your device.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

A Good Reason to Encrypt Your iPhone: To Prevent DEA from Creating a Fake Facebook Account – At Salon yesterday, I pushed back against the Apple hysteria again. In it, I look at the numbers that suggest far more Apple handsets are searched under the border exception than using warrants.

Encrypting iPhones might have the biggest impact on law enforcement searches that don’t involve warrants, contrary to law enforcement claims this is about warranted searches. As early as 2010, Customs and Border Patrol was searching around 4,600 devices a year and seizing up to 300 using what is called a “border exception.” That is when CBP takes and searches devices from people it is questioning at the border. Just searching such devices does not even require probable cause (though seizing them requires some rationale). These searches increasingly involve smart phones like the iPhone.

These numbers suggest border searches of iPhones may be as common as warranted searches of the devices. Apple provided account content to U.S. law enforcement 155 times last year. It responded to 3,431 device requests, but the “vast majority” of those device requests involved customers seeking help with a lost or stolen phone, not law enforcement trying to get contents off a cell phone (Consumer Reports estimates that 3.1 million Americans will have their smart phones stolen this year). Given that Apple has by far the largest share of the smart phone market in the U.S., a significant number of border device searches involving a smart phone will be an iPhone. Apple’s default encryption will make it far harder for the government to do such searches without obtaining a warrant, which they often don’t have evidence to get.

Almost 20% of Americans this year will have an iPhone, and that number will be far higher among those who fly internationally. If only 20% of 5,000 border searches involve iPhones, then there are clearly more border iPhone searches than warranted ones.

Meanwhile, we have an appalling new look at what law enforcement does once it gets inside your smart phone. A woman in Albany is suing DEA because — after she permitted DEA to conduct a consensual search of her phone — DEA then took photos obtained during the search, including one of her wearing only underwear, and made a fake Facebook page for her with them. They even sent a friend request to a fugitive and accepted other friend requests. They also posted pictures of her son and niece, on a site intended to lure those involved in the drug trade.

And they consider this a legitimate law enforcement activity!

UN Report Finds Mass Surveillance Violates International Treaties and Privacy Rights – The United Nations’ top official for counter-terrorism and human rights (known as the “Special Rapporteur”) issued a formal report to the U.N. General Assembly today that condemns mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. “The hard truth is that the use of mass surveillance technology effectively does away with the right to privacy of communications on the Internet altogether,” the report concluded.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 15, 2014

Snapchat warns users outside apps ‘can’t be trusted';  3 simple ways two-factor authentication can protect you when no one else will;  Andrognito: Hide files and folders with 3-layer encryption on your Android device (free);  Study: Search Engines Blur Line Between Ads, Legit Results;  The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week;  An App That Lets You Converse With The Deaf, No Sign Language Necessary;  iOS 8 secrets: More security, better battery life;  Microsoft Patch Tuesday tackles three critical vulnerabilities, including ‘Sandworm';  Public or private cloud? 5 criteria to help you choose;  How to change your Dropbox password;  Don’t blame Dropbox: It’s all your fault;  Kingo Android Root (free);  Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition Review;  EssentialPIM (free);  Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance.

Snapchat warns users outside apps ‘can’t be trusted’ – Snapchat tells its more than 100 million users that some third-party apps pose a threat. But the photo-sharing service doesn’t address why outsiders were able to connect to Snapchat in the first place.

3 simple ways two-factor authentication can protect you when no one else will – Two-factor authentication helps you protect your online identity even when the companies you do business with are breached or leak your data.

Andrognito: Hide files and folders with 3-layer encryption on your Android device – You have sensitive data on your Android device and you want to keep it from prying eyes. There are plenty of ways to achieve this. One of my new favorite methods is with the Andrognito tool. This free piece of software, found in the Google Play Store, allows you to hide and unhide just about anything on your device. What is nice about this software is that, once hidden, not even you can view it. For all intents and purposes, those hidden files cannot be viewed. One they’re unhidden, it’s as if they never disappeared.

Study: Search Engines Blur Line Between Ads, Legit Results – Despite a recent directive for search firms to better distinguish between paid and natural results, the top three engines appear to have done little to comply. In June 2013, the Federal Trade Commission penned letters to Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, among others, urging them to make sure users can easily identify advertisements. But a new report from Harvard researcher Ben Edelman takes issue with how Google has complied. “While FTC guidelines call for ‘clear’ and ‘prominent’ visual cues to separate advertisements from algorithmic results, Google has moved in the opposite direction,” Edelman said.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week: From budgeting to travel – It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone and Android that stand out and are worth a try.

17 Tricks to Master Microsoft PowerPoint – This collection of tips is all about the vagaries of the powerful PowerPoint software itself. It’s meant for those with a grasp of the basics and beyond who are looking for that extra little goose to get the most out of the program. We hope with these tricks—some of which will, inevitably, have some advice for better presentations and slideshows—help make your next speaking engagement even more persuasive. Note, these tips are specific to PowerPoint 2013, the latest version.

Windows 10: A new preview build will be out ‘soon’ – Microsoft has announced that over 1 million users are now testing Windows 10 but one aspect that has been overlooked is that a new preview build will be released soon.

Windows 10 Preview stats: Two-thirds of testers live dangerously – Who needs a safety net? A big majority of Windows 10 Technical Preview testers scoff at the safety provided by virtual machines. Here’s how to take the proper precautions before dumping the Preview on your hard drive.

Skype Qik aims to take over mobile video messaging – Skype Qik couldn’t be more simple if it tried. You install the app, use your mobile number to sign up, and then you’re messaging with friends as if you’re texting, but it’s all video. There’s no chat, no audio, or anything else, just pure video messages. To make things even easier, if your friend doesn’t have the app you can still send them a Skype Qik message and they’ll receive an SMS with instructions on how to download Skype Qik. Any video messages will be waiting for them.

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An App That Lets You Converse With The Deaf, No Sign Language Necessary – Founders Thibault Duchemin, Pieter Doevendans and Skinner Cheng say one-on-one conversations are easy for the deaf. Either they are speaking with someone who can sign or they can just read lips. However, it’s very hard to follow group conversations with several people speaking at once. This makes it hard to catch things and converse during group meals with friends who don’t sign or at an office meeting where they might miss something important. This app is personal for two of the three founders. Cheng has been deaf since he was two and Duchemin is a coda, meaning he grew up with deaf family members.

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The iPhone 6 Plus Gets A One-Handed Keyboard App, And It’s Glorious – While I came around to the iPhone 6 Plus and its unique allure, as told in a post from a couple of days ago, Apple’s big smartphone still isn’t the easiest to use when typing one-handed. Specifically, it’s tricky to get to the requisite punctuation needed to properly express oneself. A new app, helpfully called “One Handed Keyboard,” eliminates this annoyance, with a simple software trick made possible by iOS 8’s support for third-party keyboards.

iOS 8 secrets: More security, better battery life – Six secret features buried in iOS 8 to help you get more from the operating system keep you safe, and help you get more from your battery.

‘Potential’ App Keeps Tabs on Android Device Battery Levels – Never again will you pick up an Android device to find that you forgot to charge it now that Potential is out for Android. This app (still in beta) will sync the status of your battery, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth across devices so you can view them anywhere. There’s also a Windows app that can be used to check in on all your Android devices without touching them.

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Public or private cloud? 5 criteria to help you choose – Migrating to the cloud can be overwhelming. This public vs. private cloud comparison simplifies the process by breaking down five points to consider from the start.

Three easy ways to create a collaborative photo album – Special events like holidays, weddings, and school reunions just beg to be captured in pictures—but organizing photos from friends and family after the event can be a pain. It doesn’t have to be! Here are three easy ways to collect everybody’s photos and share them with all participants after your get-together is over.

Bose QuietComfort 25: Possibly the best purchase a frequent flyer can make – The new Bose QuietComfort 25 noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have for business workers who fly often. Take a look at Jordan Golson’s review.

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Security:

Microsoft Patch Tuesday tackles three critical vulnerabilities, including ‘Sandworm’ – The Sandworm vulnerability gets a fix with this month’s round of corrective fixes for Microsoft software. Internet Explorer gets a fix, too.

YouTube has potentially infected over 100,000 users during the past 30 days – Did you watch something on YouTube during the past couple of months? If you have, you could be infected with a malicious rootkit. According to reports, over 100,000 people have been infected.

Russian hackers use Windows flaw to target NATO and more – Hackers have been in the news on a regular basis — sometimes for their escapades, other times for their convictions. The latest among them is a Russian hacking collective that has been spying on high-profile targets for the last five years. The collective is being referred to as the Sandworm Team by iSight Partners, which made the discovery, due to Dune references spotted in the hackers’ code. The hacking efforts are said to be ongoing even now, and involve phishing tactics to infect the various targets’ computers.

How to change your Dropbox password – Hackers say they’ve stolen millions of Dropbox passwords, though the company says it wasn’t hacked. Either way, now may be a good time to update your password.

Don’t blame Dropbox: It’s all your fault – If Dropbox is correct that the Pastebin file of passwords were all reused from other services then they are innocent. The users involved are guilty of laziness.

Google exposes ‘Poodle’ flaw in Web encryption standard – Three Google security engineers uncover a major vulnerability in the older — but still supported — Web encryption standard SSL 3.0. Experts say fixing it is impossible and upgrading will be difficult.

Korea suffers over 106 million privacy breaches in 4 years – South Korea, one of the most wired countries in the world, has suffered over 106 million leaks of personal information by the negligence of private companies in the last four years, reports ZDNet Korea’s Cho Mu-hyun.

Company News:

Ireland to phase out “Double Irish” tax trickery, to Google’s chagrin – The move will affect many tech firms that take advantage of this arrangement such as Apple, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google. Last year, for example, Google alone cut billions off of its tax bill. Google declared $60 billion worth of revenue in the United States in 2013. Google’s effective tax rate in the United States has fallen dramatically from 21 percent to 15.7 percent in recent years as the company has broadened its use of overseas tax benefits.

Google Shopping Express Expands To More Cities, Rebrands As “Google Express” – Google Shopping Express, rebranded to simply “Google Express” as of this morning, is no longer entirely subsidizing the costs associated with same-day delivery. The program, which offers instant shopping gratification to consumers in a growing number of U.S. cities, is now working to transition its more regular customers into paying members, who subscribe on either a monthly or annual basis for $10/month or $95/year, respectively.

Intel Reports Better-Than-Expected Q3 Revenue Of $14.55B On Strength Of Recovering PC Market – Following the bell, Intel reported its third quarter financial performance, including revenue of $14.55 billion and earnings per share of $0.66. Analysts and the street had expected that Intel would earn $0.65 per share on total top line of $14.45 billion. In its sequentially preceding quarter, Intel earned $0.55 per share on revenue of $13.8 billion. The company’s revenue rose $1.1 billion compared to its year-ago period, or 8 percent. More positively, its operating income rose 30 percent to $4.5 billion.

HP and EMC merger talks called off, says report – Computing giant HP has called off talks with storage-to-virtualisation company EMC over a potential merger, which the company explored ahead of its recently announced consumer and enterprise split. The two companies’ “off-and-on” merger discussions that have reportedly taken place over the past year have officially been put to rest, with an announcement expected to come as early as Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation.

Games and Entertainment:

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition Review – This release of Sleeping Dogs is the big-time re-up the game needed for the current generation of consoles: Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It still doesn’t look as fantastic as it does when you’re topped-out on a high-end PC, but Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition never looked better on a console. This game was fun and entertaining in an evolved old-school way when it was first released, and it’s all the more entertaining now.

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EVOLVE “Big Alpha” beta confirmed for Oct. 30 on Xbox One – Turtle Rock Studios, creator of the Left for Dead series, are readying the launch of a brand new shooter.  Titled “EVOLVE”, the class-based shooter is a multi-platform game that pits four player-controlled hunters against one player-controlled beast.  The game emphasizes team play between the four hunters and proper execution of each player’s given role in order to take down an agile Godzilla-like creature, and the beta release has been confirmed for October 30, 2014.

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Humble Mozilla Bundle brings indie games to your browser – Humble Bundle has another, well, bundle, but this time it’s doing something different, new, and quite exciting. The name that has, for some, changed the way you buy games and support game developers, especially indie ones, is now pioneering another with a collection of 8 titles. These aren’t just games you can play on your PC or, in some cases, mobile device. These titles can spring at you right within the confines of one of the most used programs on your computer: your web browser.

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Students build Marvel digital timeline that will suck you in – It’s going to take a superhero-like effort to avoid spending the rest of the day browsing through this website celebrating 75 years of Marvel-ousness.

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Say hello to Ultimate75th.com and goodbye to your work day.

Don’t Blink: Assassin’s Creed Rogue Is Coming for PC – The best place to play the Assassin’s Creed series remains a Windows PC, if you don’t mind waiting. Ubisoft just confirmed Assassin’s Creed Rogue will hit PC in “early 2015.” It did so in a slightly sneaky way, too: at the close of a brand new story trailer.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The beginning of the people’s Web: 20 years of Netscape – In 1994, only geeks, techies and nerds were using the Web, and then along came Netscape and nothing would be the same.

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It may not be pretty by our standards, but Netscape was the first browser to bring the Web to the masses instead of just the techies.

Apple and Facebook are now paying for women employees to freeze their eggs – It sounds like a plot out of a Gattaca-like dystopian movie: giant corporations that pay for the women on their workforces to freeze their reproductive eggs, allowing them to spend more of their most fertile years at the office, delaying having children until later. Yet that’s exactly what two of Silicon Valley’s largest companies are doing in real life in an apparent bid to recruit more women talent, a laudable goal. Facebook and Apple will both cover the costs of egg-freezing procedures up to $20,000 for individual employees, according to NBC News. Facebook’s employees were able to participate in the policy as of this year, while Apple’s policy won’t be available until early 2015, according to the report.

Linux Foundation Backs Open-Source Drone Projects – For better or worse, drones are big business. And while there are still some regulatory issues to be ironed out regarding commercial use in the U.S., that hasn’t stopped the research and development on these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In an effort to accelerate adoption of better, more affordable, and more reliable open source software for UAVs, The Linux Foundation today announced the Dronecode Project. With the help of founding members like 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, Intel, Qualcomm, and more, the Dronecode Project will develop a common, shared open source platform for drones.

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U2’s Bono sorry for compulsory ‘Songs of Innocence’ iTunes download – Bono took the opportunity last night to apologise to fans who were forced to download ‘Songs of Innocence’ via iTunes following the iPhone 6 reveal in September and admitted to getting carried away.

Bullet-time video of parkour, breakdancing, gymnastics is awesome – Using a special filming technique, a cinematographer makes the sports of parkour, tricking, breakdancing and gymnastics look even more amazing.

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Something to think about:

“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.”

-     Robert Heinlein

Today’s Free Downloads:

Kingo Android Root – Kingo Android Root provides every Android user the easiest and safest way to root their devices for free.

It supports almost all Android models and versions. It also includes a built-in function to remove root from your Android device with just one-click.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP (SP2 or later), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

EssentialPIM – EssentialPIM is a personal information manager that allows you to keep all your information in electronic form. All your appointments, tasks, notes, contacts, password entries and email messages are stored in a graphical and easily accessible form.

Features:

Tools to satisfy your calendar, contact management, tasks, notes, password entries and email needs. All data is cross-linked, – link your contacts to appointments and email messages to notes.

Synchronization with all major online services (Google, Yahoo, Funambol, Mobical, AOLSync, GooSync, etc.) and SyncML and CalDAV servers. Outlook, Windows Mobile and Palm synchronization is also available.

Simple printout of any modules and quick export of your data into the most popular formats (iCal, vCard, CSV, HTML).

Strong data protection with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm.

Intuitive interface in many languages including German, Italian, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese and Russian.

EssentialPIM comes in several editions to satisfy any of your organizing needs:

Pro and Free editions – see comparison.

Portable edition – keeps and manages all your personal data on USB stick.

Network edition – a powerful and complete collaboration solution for small to medium size businesses. It can be installed and configured within 10 minutes by an average computer user without a need for a dedicated server.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance – Since 2011, billions of dollars of venture capital investment have poured into public education through private, for-profit technologies that promise to revolutionize education. Designed for the “21st century” classroom, these tools promise to remedy the many, many societal ills facing public education with artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, and other technological advancements.

They are also being used to track and record every move students make in the classroom, grooming students for a lifetime of surveillance and turning education into one of the most data-intensive industries on the face of the earth. The NSA has nothing on the monitoring tools that education technologists have developed in to “personalize” and “adapt” learning for students in public school districts across the United States.

If you have ‘nothing to hide’, here’s where to send your passwords – Nearly every week, I hear someone shrug off privacy issues with a claim that they’re not worried because they have “nothing to hide” from the government.

Let’s put a cork in it, once and for all.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, love him or hate him, offered attendees at his October TED talk a bulletproof argument (as far as I can tell) against the “nothing to hide” argument.

He said:

“Over the last 16 months, as I’ve debated this issue around the world, every single time somebody has said to me, ‘I don’t really worry about invasions of privacy because I don’t have anything to hide,’ I always say the same thing to them.

I get out a pen. I write down my email address. I say, ‘Here’s my email address. What I want you to do when you get home is email me the passwords to all of your email accounts, not just the nice, respectable work one in your name, but all of them, because I want to be able to just troll through what it is you’re doing online, read what I want to read and publish whatever I find interesting. After all, if you’re not a bad person, if you’re doing nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide.’

Not a single person has taken me up on that offer. I check that email account religiously all the time. It’s a very desolate place.”

How an FBI Informant Ordered the Hack of British Tabloid ‘The Sun’ – In July of 2011, the website for the British tabloid The Sun announced that media mogul Rupert Murdoch had been found “dead in his garden.”

It was a lie, of course; a fake article planted by hackers who spent a week flitting in and out of the newspaper’s servers. The cyberattack was part of a campaign against Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire in the midst of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

It was perpetrated, like so many of these things, by a group of anonymous online hackers. Except one of their leaders was an FBI informant.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 14, 2014

Massive list of Dropbox credentials leaked, change your password immediately;  Thousands of Fake Apps Impersonate Facebook, Twitter;  This is why people use phones to film police;  anonabox: Tor in a box for maximum anonymity and freedom;  What to consider when choosing a password manager;  The Alleged Snapchat Leak Looks Real, But It’s Mostly Not Porn;  Five apps to help you organize your personal finances;  When to buy a flash drive, an external hard drive, or an external SSD;  $65 Windows tablets show up in Hong Kong;  How to get instant scores and sports updates with Google Now;  Popcorn Time Finds A New Home;  Oracle’s 155 bug fixes add to mega Patch Tuesday;  Borderlands: The Pre-sequel review;  Xbox preorder bonuses coming to Microsoft Stores for the holidays;  Google reveals our embarrassing voice search habits.

anonabox: Tor in a box for maximum anonymity and freedom – Some lawmakers and parties have likened the Internet to the Wild Wild West in order to justify putting a clamp on it. For many users, however, that freedom is part and parcel of the Internet’s nature and is necessary for it to survive. To help stem off attempts to curtail the freedom of speech on the Internet, not to mention growing number of spying on users, a group of friends have designed anonabox, a discrete and easy to use networking device that could give the NSA nightmares.

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The Alleged Snapchat Leak Looks Real, But It’s Mostly Not Porn – Everything we’ve seen so far, however, suggests what we’ve known for a while now—people generally aren’t using Snapchat to send each other nude photos anymore. The vast majority of the files, wherever they came from, show students in class, dogs running around, and people watching TV. There’s snaps of newborn babies, one of a girl chugging a pot of nacho cheese, lots of selfies, and, yes, there are some vaginas in there—but there’s very little here that people who get off on this shit would want to see.

Google reveals our embarrassing voice search habits – Google recently commissioned a study to show how cool voice search can be, but the findings don’t always show the best side of either teens or adults.

What to consider when choosing a password manager – Many security experts think passwords are no longer sufficient to keep online accounts safe from hackers. But we’re still a long way from widespread adoption of biometrics and alternatives.

8 cutting-edge technologies aimed at eliminating passwords – From electronic pills to digital tattoos, these eight innovations aim to secure systems and identities without us having to remember a password ever again.

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When to buy a flash drive, an external hard drive, or an external SSD – What kind of external storage do you need? This guide will help you decide how best to spend your money.

Flickr Wall Art: a new integrated printing service – We’ve all had that moment: you snap a picture that turns out so beautiful you want to showcase it on a physical wall. Printing services are ready to make this happen, but they can be a bit of hassle for those who don’t often use them. Some photography hosting websites integrate printing services for this reason, and now Flickr is counted among them. Today the company introduced its new Flickr Wall Art option, which allows users to request a print directly from the photo page.

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Five apps to help you organize your personal finances – Manage income and expenses, pay bills, estimate your taxes, and crunch your mortgage costs, all with the help of these handy apps.

$65 Windows tablets show up in Hong Kong, may be coming to a store near you – There are cheap Windows tablets and then there are cheap Windows tablets and thanks to the HKTDC show in Hong Kong, we are now seeing devices that cost as little as $65. So what does this low cost actually get you? You will get a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and an Intel Z3735G quad-core Bay Trail processor. The device is called the EM-i8170, and it is manufactured by Emdoor, which unveiled another low-cost Windows 8.1 device earlier this year – the $99 8-inch EM-i8080, which includes integrated 3G connectivity.

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1 million people are helping Microsoft test Windows 10 – Microsoft released its first Windows 10 Technical Preview at the beginning of October, and the company is now revealing that 1 million people are helping test the upcoming operating system through the Windows Insider Program. “That equates to a lot of people using the Windows 10 Technical Preview and sending us feedback,” says Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore. The software maker has received more than 200,000 pieces of feedback on the early version of Windows 10, with top requests that include options to remove the new search and task view buttons, as well as requests for a Start Menu animation or transition.

How to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview on a Mac – It may seem like mixing oil and water, but as it turns out, installing Windows on your Mac isn’t a violation of natural law—your Retina display won’t melt or anything! In fact, doing so is actually a relatively pain-free process. To give the Windows 10 Technical Preview—a very early pre-release version of Windows 10—a whirl, you don’t even have to pay for a Windows license or already have Windows on your Mac. The Technical Preview is free to test. Intrigued? Let’s dig in.

How to partition your drive before installing Windows 10 – There are a few different options for getting Windows 10 on your device. You can simply install it on a secondary PC over your existing Windows operating system, you can use a virtual PC emulator to test it out or you can partition your hard drive and install it on your primary PC. This guide will show you how to do the last of the three.

Popcorn Time Finds A New Home After The EURid Pulled Its Domain – When your product streams pirated content, it’s safe to expect some complications along the way. The Time4Popcorn fork of the popular Popcorn Time project recently had to find a new domain following the sudden removal of time4popcorn.eu. But the developers tell me this latest kerfuffle won’t stop the development of the program and they have already found a new domain.

Bing gets political, builds a hub and makes a few predictions – The team behind Bing has built a new political hub for the upcoming election that aims to help you keep abreast of the election cycle – and it will also put its prediction engine to work too.

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How to get instant scores and sports updates with Google Now – Forget fumbling through ten different sports apps and use the power of Google instead so you don’t miss a play.

Security:

Massive list of Dropbox credentials leaked, change your password immediately – Dropbox, the popular online storage site, has been compromised and a massive list of users and their passwords have been posted to the web; it is recommended that you change your password immediately.

Dropbox password scam shows up our sloppy infosec – The supposed Dropbox hack that’s really a five-cent scam tells us something important: Information security shouldn’t be here, and it’s mostly the cloud providers’ fault.

Thousands of Fake Apps Impersonate Facebook, Twitter, and More – From my non-scientific observations, it seems pretty clear that browsing and posting to social networks is the most popular use of smartphones. But not all of these social apps are what they seem. According to Cheetah Mobile Threat Lab, attackers are churning out thousands of fake social networking apps, tricking users into giving away their personal information. Cheetah reports that it has detected 15,000 fake social networking apps in less than a year.

Snapsaved Takes Responsibility For Latest Snapchat Leak – Last week, news spread that some 200,000 Snapchat photos had leaked after a third-party app (used to save people’s snaps) was hacked. It was referred to as the Snappening. Snapchat was quick to respond to the situation by saying that the photos had been stolen from a third-party application, but that Snapchat’s servers were never compromised. Turns out, Snapsaved.com is stepping forward and taking responsibility for the leak. In an update posted to the company’s Facebook page, Snapsaved claims full responsibility and also gives a bit more clarity about what was hacked and what information was made available.

Whitelisting has its place in your company’s antimalware arsenal – First opinions give deep impressions. However, it might be time to give application whitelisting another try since not much else is defeating malware and digital exploits.

Oracle’s 155 bug fixes add to mega Patch Tuesday – Oracle has a large number of fixes lined up for Tuesday, including 25 for Java SE, while Microsoft and Adobe have patches due then too.

Company News:

Sapphire supplier wants to expose details of its deal with Apple – GT Advanced Technologies was to supply Apple with scratch-resistant sapphire glass, but announced Oct. 6 it’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Apple’s confidentiality agreements go too far, put other creditors at a disadvantage, GT Advanced Technologies argues

French Twitter users to be offered Twitter payment service – French Twitter users will be able to send money to one another with a tweet from later this week—but the payment service isn’t run by Twitter. S-Money, a subsidiary of France’s second largest banking group, BPCE, plans to extend its existing mobile payment service to French Twitter users with a payment card, regardless of who they bank with.

Dropbox fixing file-deletion bug, offers year of free service – The online storage site is trying help those who lost files through a technical bug by restoring the files it can and offering free service for a year.

Google’s Schmidt cites Amazon as biggest competitor: Reality or deflection? – Eric Schmidt’s take that Amazon is Google’s biggest search rival grabbed the headlines, but it’s worth parsing his entire speech to see what he’s really after.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox preorder bonuses coming to Microsoft Stores for the holidays – Microsoft Store is using new pre-order bonuses via Xbox Live Rewards and exclusive game content to draw Xbox shoppers to its own retail stores this holiday season.

Borderlands: The Pre-sequel review: Bang, zoom, to the moon – The combination of the new verticality and the new attack option makes the Pre-Sequel feel like an entirely distinct experience. It’s hard to describe how satisfying it is to double jump over an enemy, use a butt slam to send out a wave of icy cold that freezes him in place, and then shatter his frozen body with a shotgun blast to the face. This situation, or something like it, happens all the time in Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. It’s enough to make the staid, stop-and-pop, cover-based action of other first-person shooters seem a bit boring in comparison.

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Crowdsourced version of Star Wars Empire Strikes Back complete – While Disney continues work on the latest Star Wars movie, legions of fans have been working hard on producing their own version of Empire Strikes Back, perhaps the best movie of either trilogy. The concept of the project, Empire Strikes Back Uncut, was to allow fans to submit custom 15-second clips that re-imagine scenes from the movie. At the end of it all, the submissions would be stitched together to re-create the classic movie. The project received over 1,500 submissions, and nearly 1/3 of them were selected to create the movie, available for free on YouTube. The film clocks in at over two hours, but the quality of the overall work is top notch, even if some of the submissions were a little weak.

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The Best iPad Digital Comic Book Readers – The five iPad digital comic book apps in this roundup include the industry powerhouse, an all-you-can-eat subscription service, as well as lesser-known, but quality offerings. Below is just a taste of what the apps can do; click through to the full reviews for in-depth looks into each digital comic book app’s functionality. If there’s an iPad digital comic book app that you feel we’ve overlooked, drop a line in the comments section. We’re always eager to test new comic book readers.

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Comixology (free)

Joe Dirt 2 heads to Crackle: Adam Sandler wins again – It’s high time Adam Sandler received some credit for this massive efforts in creating as many comedy movies as possible over the past several years – Crackle and Netflix know the score. The most recent win for this founder of Happy Madison productions is a long-awaited sequel to the film Joe Dirt. This film will star David Spade in his magnum opus role, returning with the wig he suggests he’s been “sleeping in for years.” He’s “beyond stoked that Joe Dirt will finally hit the screens again on Crackle.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

This is why people use phones to film police – A routine traffic stop in Iowa turns into a police officer trying to trick the driver into admitting he has pot. His reasoning? The driver must have pot because he’s into frisbee golf.

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Why a PC belongs in every living room – Today, a generic computer with an HDMI port is the easiest all-in-one media machine to have in your living room. A computer can play console-quality video games. A computer can record television. A computer can do almost anything apps can do, and it can probably do it better and through a web browser. When someone innovates how we consume our entertainment, whether that’s Spotify, Twitch, or a new streaming service, it happens first on a computer.

Federal lawsuit alleges highway guardrails can kill people – The guardrails that line US highways are meant to protect drivers in the event of a crash, but many that have been installed over the past decade may also present a danger. The manufacturer of those guardrails, Trinity Highway Products, is heading to court this week facing allegations that it changed its guardrail design without informing the Federal Highway Administration and has been improperly accepting federal money ever since, according to The New York Times. Separate lawsuits reportedly allege that those changes have led to five deaths and many other injuries in at least 14 accidents across the US.

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This Video Shows An Arizona Police Officer Telling An Immigrant He’ll Kill Him If He Moves – “Keep your hands where I can see them, don’t move. You hear me? You have a license? Show me your license now. If you do something, I’ll kill you here. You understand?” Teodulo Sanchez tells BuzzFeed News the officer put a gun in his face during the tense stop, which police dispute.

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Breakthrough batteries last 20 years, charge 70 percent in two minutes – If the breakthrough battery tech hits mainstream it could revolutionize electric cars—and end the forced obsolescence of smartphones.

NFL players thumb nose at Beats headphones ban – Ignoring the NFL’s deal with Bose, some NFL players displayed their Beats proudly before games yesterday, despite the threat of fines. Where will this end?

Something to think about:

“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

-     Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today’s Free Downloads:

SlimComputer – If you’ve ever gotten a new PC and it came loaded with promotional programs, toolbars, links to advertising or trial offers, then you know how frustrating these things can be. Community-powered feedback is the key to SlimComputer’s state-of-the-art cleaning. In real time, SlimComputer assesses your new PC to identify programs, toolbars, and startup entries that users vote “optional”. You can then use this data to decide what you want to keep on your computer.

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Firefox Environment Backup Extension (FEBE) 8.1 Beta / 8.0.5 Final – FEBE allows you to quickly and easily backup your Firefox extensions. In fact, it goes beyond just backing up — It will actually rebuild your extensions individually into installable .xpi files. Now you can easily synchronize your office and home browsers.

FEBE backs up and restores your extensions, themes, and (optionally) your bookmarks, preferences, cookies. and much more.

Backup as little or as much of your Firefox environment as you wish. Perform backups on demand or schedule daily, weekly, or monthly unattended runs. Sequential backups can be stored in timestamped directories so you can restore back as far as you like.

You may specify “User-defined” items to have FEBE backup Thunderbird, Greasemonkey scripts, or virtually any data on your computer – Firefox related or not.

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Windows 10 Transformation Pack 1.0 – Experience Windows 10 without having to install the preview.

Features:

Seamless installation and uninstallation giving users safe transformation

Easily configurable in single click with intelligence Metro UI design

Designed for all editions of Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 including Server Editions

Genuine Windows 10 system resources with Metro touches

Smart system files updating with auto-repair and Windows Update friendly

UxStyle memory patching

Windows 10 themes, wallpaper and logon screen

Virtual Desktop from Microsoft

Revived start menu with Metro support

Metro UI desktop emulation with pre-configured gadgets

Aero’s auto-colorization feature

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

America’s biggest police departments are getting spy gear through private charities – Many Americans have recently expressed concerns with the increasing use of military gear by police departments in this country, especially in the wake of the police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri (protests that were themselves sparked by a lethal police shooting).

While it is very easy to focus on militarization after seeing jarring pictures of police pointing automatic rifles at demonstrators, a separate but no less questionable practice has been quietly taking root at some of America’s biggest police departments in the past decade.

As ProPublica reports, the police departments of New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Oakland have all turned to private police foundations in recent years to acquire new crime fighting and law enforcement gear — everything from horses for mounted police units to spy software developed by intelligence contractor Palantir (a grateful LAPD appeared in the following 2013 advertisement for Palantir’s crime investigation platform, which knits together data from a variety of sources, from police reports to license plate readers).

Privacy Group Targets British Spyware Company over Bahrain Surveillance – The rights group Privacy International asked the British government this morning to investigate a surveillance company for enabling spying on Bahraini activists in the U.K.

The company in question, Gamma Group, is a U.K.-based firm that provides surveillance software and other “lawful intercept” technology to governments around the world. Among their products was FinFisher software, which lets spies remotely monitor a computer they’ve infected — accessing files, web traffic, Skype calls and more. Privacy International asked the U.K.’s National Crime Agency to investigate the company.

“Companies like Gamma have been enabling repressive states’ unlawful conduct, but then seeking to suggest that they bear no responsibility for the products that they supply,” said Adriana Edmeades, Privacy International’s legal officer.

Australia: Spies can access my metadata, so why can’t I? My 15-month legal battle with Telstra – The RSPCA, councils and other law-enforcement agencies can obtain reporter Ben Grubb’s internet and phone metadata but Telstra won’t release it to him. Here he details his 15-month fight for access. (recommended by Mal C.)

Suspected Russian “Sandworm” cyber spies targeted NATO, Ukraine – A group of cyber spies targeted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Ukrainian and Polish government agencies, and a variety of sensitive European industries over the last year, in some cases using a previously unknown flaw in Windows systems to infiltrate targets, according to a research report released on Tuesday.

Dubbed “Sandworm” by iSIGHT Partners, the security consultancy that discovered the zero-day attack, the campaign is suspected to be Russian in origin based on technical details, the malware tools used, and the chosen targets, which also included government agencies in Europe and academics in the United States. If confirmed, the attack is an uncommon look into Russia’s cyber-espionage capabilities.

The Sandworm Team, named because its members include references from Frank Herbert’s Dune series in their code, also used a previously unknown software flaw, or 0day vulnerability, to compromise some targets. Using the security hole, the Sandworm group could execute their attacks on systems running up-to-date versions of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT. Microsoft plans to release a patch for the flaw during its regular updates on Tuesday.

Daum Kakao boss says privacy comes before the law – In an emergency press conference held in Seoul, Daum Kakao co-CEO Lee Sir-goo said that going forward, the company will refuse all warrants from prosecutors for access mobile text messages saved on the firm’s mobile messenger service Kakao Talk, saying that “privacy comes before the law”.

“We have decided to never discuss even the possibility of giving prosecutors access to the users’ data that we store with related authorities,” said Lee. “It is because privacy is more important than any law.

“When there is no social consensus between law and privacy, we will in all circumstances implement a policy that puts privacy first,” said the co-CEO in a stern tone.

Lee said that if his stance is considered illegal, he himself and the company will take full legal responsibility.

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