Tag Archives: security

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 22, 2014

EFF’s snoop-stopping, ad-smashing Privacy Badger plugin hits beta;  Simpsons World to provide every Simpsons episode without costing you any d’oh!  Hidden network packet sniffer in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert;  Traffic to The Pirate Bay has doubled since ISPs started blocking it;  12 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life;  US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account;  Six grocery shopping apps to replace your paper list;  How do I get internet on my iPad?  ‘Save’ Facebook Content to Read Later;  This tiny device will tell you if someone drugged your drink;  Russian government is looking to dump Microsoft;  AskMen.com compromised again;  Italy Gives Google Deadline to Change Data-Use Policies;  GE releases instructions for 3D-printable jet engine;  5 easy Word tips that every user should know;

EFF’s snoop-stopping, ad-smashing Privacy Badger plugin hits beta – The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy rights group, has released a downloadable plugin for Chrome and Firefox designed to stop third parties from tracking people’s Web browsing. The extension is not meant to block online ads outright. It’s a broader privacy tool designed to stop third parties from gathering a record of the pages people visit across the Web. “Our aim is not to block ads, but to prevent non-consensual invasions of people’s privacy because we believe they are inherently objectionable,” the group says. The tool is also designed to stop the tracking that happens when people click on social media widgets such as the Facebook “like” or Twitter tweet button on sites outside of Facebook or Twitter.

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5 easy Word tips that every user should know – Even new users catch on to Word’s easy-to-use interface and can start entering and formatting text quickly. As you learn, you’ll stumble upon shortcuts that make your daily work even easier. Here are five tips that I use frequently when working in Word. None of these tips are new, which is why I’m always surprised to hear a user exclaim that they’re unfamiliar — they are so much a part of my Word sense that I forget that others might not know about them.

Six grocery shopping apps to replace your paper list – If you’re used to consulting paper grocery lists, you know that they’re easy to lose—and to forget. If you carry a smartphone with you, it makes a lot of sense to put your grocery list on your mobile device. A number of apps can help you organize your shopping, create master lists of things you buy every time you go to the store, and even share lists with your spouse or partner. Here are six great grocery list apps you can use on your smartphone.

Simpsons World to provide every Simpsons episode without costing you any d’oh! – Simpsons World launches in October and was unveiled Monday by FXX, the cable channel that has bought the rights to reruns of the TV series. Any time you want to watch any one of The Simpsons’ 552 episodes, just fire up Simpsons World. Episodes will be available to stream on demand, with Simpsons World creators promising that it will be easy sort through the hundreds upon hundreds that make up the show’s back catalog. In fact, according to TV critic Alan Sepinwall’s account of the Simpsons World presentation, search capabilities will be so refined, you’ll be able pinpoint favorite jokes or scenes and share them across social media.

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How do I get internet on my iPad? – Today we’re going to address a simple problem many users have with their iPad – finding a Wi-Fi network to access the internet. The following post is part of SlashGear’s Family IT collection, helping those new to technology with the devices they own. These posts will also be helpful for those of you inundated with questions from family members about their devices if you just to happen to be your family’s IT specialist.

12 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life – College is filled with all sorts of confused, eager folks like you. It can be difficult to find your footing, socially. You’ll have the dorm, the quad, and the cafeteria. But surely there is more! Well, lucky for you, there is, college face. Thanks to technology, the entire world is just a few taps away.

How much of your job can you really do on an iPad? – Tim Cook says he does 80 percent of his job on his iPad. So we asked some our colleagues: Could you do the same?

‘Save’ Facebook Content to Read Later – Can’t get enough of those BuzzFeed quizzes or long-form news stories friends post to Facebook, but just don’t have the time to dive into them during work? Now you can save them to the social network to read later. Collect everything from links and places to movies, TV, and music so you don’t miss out on a new recipe or restaurant to try out. All saved items are kept secret, unless you choose to share them with online friends.

Framed 2.0 puts motion-controlled digital art on your wall – Inside the Full HD 1080p displays there’s WiFi b/g/n, motion sensors, and a 720p camera for gesture recognition from the person stood in front of the display. There are also stereo speaker outputs and a mono microphone input. The Framed 2.0 team says the display has a 180-degree viewing angle and can show 16.7m colors. As standard, it gets a wooden-finish frame, but there’s also the option for custom finishes.

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This tiny device will tell you if someone drugged your drink – There’s a decent chance you or someone you know has had a drink tampered with before. Fortunately, a Canadian medical imaging specialist and his team have figured out how to protect us all — with science!

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An iPad App To Make All Your Selfies Go 3D – This kind of tech used to require an expensive 3D scanning unit that was tied to a game console or a computer. Now anyone with an iPad and the Structure Sensor can create 3D models using objects they see around them. This opens up a world of possibilities for engineers, designers, inventors, architects and manufactures. One example might be an architect creating a 3D tour of what the building will look like inside and out before it’s ever built or an interior designer creating a virtual room to display their work.

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Another Screen Shot Of The Upcoming Windows Start Menu Leaks – Another week, another leak. Today we have a new, purported screenshot of the upcoming return of the Start Menu to Windows.

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National Geographic Experiments With Storehouse – Six months after its launch, award-winning iPad app Storehouse has formed a strong community of storytellers, including the likes of GQ Germany, RTÉ, and its most recent participant — National Geographic. Storehouse is a visual storytelling app that lets you import photos and videos from your camera roll, Instagram, Dropbox or Flickr and create a free-form layout with or without text to tell a story.

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Smart toilet paper holder won’t be ignored when roll runs out – On the surface, the RollScout looks like a modern, sleek, wall-mounted toilet paper holder, but it hides an infrared emitter and sensor. When the roll empties down enough, the emitter and sensor connect and the holder pulses with a round amber light to alert unsuspecting bathroom users to the dire nature of the situation.

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(I can hardly wait! I’m just flushed with anticipation.)

Hasbro opens doors to 3D-printed Fan Art sales – In an initiative called “SuperFanArt”, Hasbro has teamed up with Shapeways to create a portal through which fans of Hasbro’s characters can create and sell their own 3D-printed toys. The first line to have its license opened to fans through this program is My Little Pony. This should appeal to some of the stranger fans out in the fan universe – but Hasbro’s collection has some far larger names in the mix as well.

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Russian government is looking to dump Microsoft for homegrown software – Russia has stated that it is working to move away from foreign software products like Microsoft’s Windows in favor of home grown software as a result of rising political tensions with the US.

Traffic to The Pirate Bay has doubled since ISPs started blocking it – The continued growth of The Pirate Bay, despite clumsy attempts to block access to it, suggests that the entertainment industries’ efforts to kill piracy through censorship are not succeeding. More and more users are connecting to the web every year, and with each attempt to block high-profile sites like The Pirate Bay – and each failure to do so – awareness of P2P file sharing only increases, effectively paving the way for further growth in the number of users sharing copyrighted content.

Security:

Hidden network packet sniffer in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert – An analysis of iOS by a security expert has highlighted various tools in the operating system that could be used for surveillance. Jonathan Zdziarski concluded that the vast majority of iThing owners are unaware of lax mechanisms protecting their data. Data forensics expert and author Zdziarski wrote an academic paper on his findings in March, and gave a related talk [PDF] at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE X) conference in New York on Friday. The results of his research – triggered by reports of the NSA spying on Apple products – indicate a backdoor in iOS, although it’s not as wide open as some reports have suggested.

(Followed by this nonsense!)

6 ways Apple protects your privacy in iOS 8 – One of the most interesting reports I read this weekend looks at some of the ways Apple aims to keep your private life private, at least within the current dystopian regulatory environment.

Fingerprinting Computers By Making Them Draw Images – Here’s a new way to identify individual computers over the Internet. The page instructs the browser to draw an image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, this can be used to uniquely identify each computer. This is a big deal, because there’s no way to block this right now.

Backup your data now: New, more powerful ransomware using Tor spotted in the wild – When did you last backup your data? Let that serve as a reminder to do so since a new ransomware, touted as a more powerful version of Cryptolocker, has been spotted in the wild. It uses the Tor network to anonymize its communication with the command and control server; that’s a relatively new twist for ransomware as it is more commonly seen with “banking Trojans.”

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IBM Fixes Code Execution, Cookie-Stealing Vulnerabilities in Switches – IBM recently patched a handful of vulnerabilities in some of its KVM switches that if exploited, could have given an attacker free reign over any system attached to it.

AskMen.com compromised again – Last month, security firm Websense reported that popular website AskMen.com was compromised to serve malicious code. Today, our honeypot captured an attack coming from AskMen.com in what appears to have been malicious code injected in their server.

Company News:

Chromebooks taken to school: More than a million sold to schools in last quarter – Chromebooks, you either love them or hate them. The low-cost laptops running Chrome OS from Google are appealing to consumers, and the education segment especially likes them. The latest word from Google indicates schools bought more than a million Chromebooks in the last quarter.

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Microsoft is looking to patent Google Glass like headset – Microsoft, not wanting to miss out on the head-mounted fun, has filed a patent for a device that appears to be a Google glass competitor. The company describes the device as “a see through display apparatus includes a see-through, head mounted display and sensors on the display which detect audible and visual data in a field of view of the apparatus”.

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Netflix Tops 50M Users Ahead of Fall Expansion – Netflix now has more than 50 million members worldwide, about 36 million of which are in the U.S. Netflix now operates in more than 40 countries, but in September, it will also expand to Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

The Majority Of Today’s App Businesses Are Not Sustainable – Though the app stores continue to fill up with ever more mobile applications, the reality is that most of these are not sustainable businesses. According to a new report out this morning, half (50%) of iOS developers and even more (64%) Android developers are operating below the “app poverty line” of $500 per app per month.

Facebook closes Oculus deal – Facebook and Oculus VR say they have officially finished their $2 billion deal, placing the world’s largest social-networking company squarely in the consumer electronics industry. In a joint statement Monday, the two companies said they look forward to working together “building the next computing platform and reimagining the way people communicate.”

Italy Gives Google Deadline to Change Data-Use Policies – An Italian data-regulation official told Google it has 18 months to change how it stores users’ information. Italy is one of several European countries that have been jointly investigating Google’s consolidation of 60 different privacy policies into one last year, Reuters reports. The Italian watchdog said in a statement that Google’s disclosures about data use were insufficient, despite the company’s efforts efforts to abide by local laws. A spokesperson for Google said the tech company has consistently cooperated with the inquiry and will continue to do so after it reviews the watchdog’s latest decision.

(Google cooperate? Baloney! Google is driven by the need for greed. Simple!)

Games and Entertainment:

Zotac Zbox EN760 Plus review: Don’t be fooled by its size, this box has graphics horsepower – Zotac’s flyweight PC kicks more gaming ass than any console, costs less than a tower PC, and will fit almost anywhere—including the back of your monitor.

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That’s no router. Zotac’s EN760 Plus is a powerful PC with a strong graphic processor.

‘The Imitation Game’ trailer shows brilliant portrayal of Alan Turing – Turing was a mathematician and philosopher, and formalized many concepts used for computer science. In creating the Bombe machine which looked for algorithmic similarities in the German Enigma code, Winston Churchill called Turing’s contribution the greatest contribution to the Allied victory against Nazi Germany. Turing was also a man with is own closely guarded secrets, which the movie seeks to shed light on. A gay man in a time when homosexual activities were illegal in England, Turing wrestled with his own emotions while shouldering the burden of cracking the Enigma.

‘Dance Central: Spotlight’ launching for Xbox One on Sept. 2 for just $10 – The newest entry in the Dance Central franchise will hit Xbox One on Sept. 2 and come with 10 songs, though content purchased for previous entries will be compatible with the new game.

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Gamers win free early copies of iOS game, respond by leaking it – Smartphone gamers don’t have a wealth of quality first-person shooter options, but in spite of its unoriginal name, Gameloft’s Modern Combat games have been solid enough to lead the mobile sales charts. Ahead of the series’ fifth release, Gameloft celebrated Modern Combat 5: Blackout’s upcoming launch by awarding early free downloads to fans via social network contests. As reported by Polygon, that move backfired when one of the contest winners cracked the iOS version and uploaded its IPA file over the weekend, allowing the game to be pirated in droves ahead of its launch.

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New Fire Phone games highlight ‘Dynamic Perspective’ – On launch, the Amazon Fire Phone was a curiosity with a lot of promise. Whether or not you need Amazon at your fingertips, the screen and camera ensemble on the device are intriguing. Tracking the orientation of your head, and letting you “peek around” object on-screen, a clear angle for the Fire Phone is gaming. Now there are two new games specifically designed for the device.

Freight Train Simulator – 3D train simulation game. Take control of several freight trains and drive them to points of destinations in time. Watch after train’s speed and avoid high speed derailment. Features: 10 levels, 10 trains.

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Have Unwanted Gift Cards? Trade Them in for GameStop Credit – Heads up, gamers. If you have any old gift cards lying around that you don’t plan on using you can now trade them in for credit at GameStop. The video game retailer will allow customers to exchange unwanted gift cards for a GameStop e-gift card via a program powered by gift card exchange platform Cardpool.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Epic Super Mario Bros. Lego aquarium took 336 hours to build – This is the Super Mario Bros. aquarium, created by graphic designer and blogger Kelsey Kronmiller. It’s 55 gallons of gaming-inspired glory, and it appears as though it took her about 336 hours in total to build it. Yes, the 336 posted as the time actually does mean something.

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Candid camera, part 1: Five times video footage showed police misconduct – The following examples are situations where police officers have been caught lying or acting improperly after video footage surfaced showing their apparent malfeasance.

Candid camera, part 2: Claims of officer misconduct and video footage redeeming the officer – We’ve often commented on the double-edged nature of persistent surveillance. On the one hand, constant surveillance can lead to various privacy and civil liberties abuses. But as the following stories show, widespread adoption of surveillance cameras by both law enforcement actors and civilians can also help hold both parties accountable.

GE releases instructions for 3D-printable jet engine – If you head over to Thingiverse, you can get instructions for a hand-cranked, 3D-printable jet engine, courtesy of GE.

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Something to think about:

“Speak when you are angry–and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”

-     Laurence J. Peter

Today’s Free Downloads:

Burd’s Proxy Searcher – Burd’s Proxy Searcher enables you to find public proxy servers that you can use for anonymous web surfing. The program uses a customizable search engine query that retrieves a list of proxy servers and then tests the results for connection speed and availability.

Advanced users can tweak the query settings to their preference and also add custom searches for specific proxy types, but if you just want to find free HTTP or SOCKS proxies, there is no need to tinker with the settings.

Proxy Searcher displays a list of proxies that it found, along with a color coded status indicator, country and response times. If you are using supported browsers, you can apply the proxy settings with the click of a button, other programs need to be configured manually.

Proxy lists – Proxy Searcher supports saving search results into public proxy lists. So if you don’t wan’t to use our program and just looking for proxy list please use following links. They contains up-to-date information about alive proxies (lists are updating automatically).

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zSILENCER 00022 – Silencer was a game from Mind Control Software, playable online through the WON (World Opponent Network) service, which was discontinued by Valve in favor of the Steam platform. Along with the demise of WON.net, Silencer went with it. zSILENCER is a re-creation of the original Silencer game.

Silencer is multiplayer only, and is essentially a team based capture-the-flag style game. You navigate your player to active computer terminals strewn throughout the map and siphon files off of them, until a Top Secret file is acquired. You pick up the secret file and bring it back to your base, careful of opposing teams trying to kill you and steal it for themselves. When your team returns three of these files, you win.

Each team must spawn their base “door” somewhere in the level, usually in a strategic spot. Teammates enter and can heal their shields and health, buy inventory items, and the back of the base is where the secret file must be returned.

There are five “agencies”, each with special stats or unique items, and online supports up to 24 players in a match at once. Play a 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, or 3v2v4v1, anything is possible.

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Glary Utilities – Glary Utilities is a smart and reliable application that offers numerous powerful and easy-to-use system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC.

It allows you to clean common system junk files, as well as invalid registry entries and Internet traces. You can manage and delete browser add-ons, analyze disk space usage and find duplicate files.

You can also view and manage installed shell extensions, encrypt your files from unauthorized access and use, split large files into smaller manageable files and then rejoin them.

Furthermore, Glary Utilities includes the options to optimize memory, find, fix, or remove broken Windows shortcuts, manage the programs that start at Windows startup and uninstall software. Other features include secure file deletion, an Empty Folder finder and more.

All Glary Utilities tools can be accessed through an eye-pleasing and totally simplistic interface.

Features:

Disk Cleaner – Removes junk data from your disks and recovers disk space

Registry Cleaner – Scans and cleans up your registry to improve your system’s performance.

Shortcuts Fixer – Corrects the errors in your startmenu & desktop shortcuts

Uninstall Manager – Uninstalls programs completely that you don’t need any more

Startup Manager – Manages programs which run automatically on startup

Memory Optimizer – Monitors and optimizes free memory in the background

Context Menu Manager – Manages the context-menu entries for files, folders…

Tracks Eraser – Erases all the traces,evidences,cookies,internet history and more

File Shredder – Erases files permanently so that no one can recover them

Internet Explorer Assistant – Manages Internet Explorer Add-ons and restores hijacked settings

File Encrypter and Decrypter – Protects your files from unauthorized access and use.

Disk Analysis – Shows you the disk space usage of your files and folders

Duplicate Files Finder – Searches for space-wasting and error producing duplicate files

Empty Folders Finder – Finds and removes empty folders in your windows

File Splitter and Joiner – Splits large files into smaller manageable files, and then rejoin them.

Process Manager – Monitors programs that run on your PC and stop spyware and Trojans.

Windows Standard Tools – Provides direct access to the useful windows default functions.

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Screenshot from my personal system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Activist group sues US border agency over new, vast intelligence system – The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has sued the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in an attempt to compel the government agency to hand over documents relating to a relatively new comprehensive intelligence database of people and cargo crossing the US border.

EPIC’s lawsuit, which was filed last Friday, seeks a trove of documents concerning the “Analytical Framework for Intelligence” (AFI) as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. EPIC’s April 2014 FOIA request went unanswered after the 20 days that the law requires, and the group waited an additional 49 days before filing suit.

The AFI, which was formally announced in June 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), consists of “a single platform for research, analysis, and visualization of large amounts of data from disparate sources and maintaining the final analysis or products in a single, searchable location for later use as well as appropriate dissemination.”

The new system appears to be a one-stop shop for classified and nonclassified materials and can include a target’s name, address, race, physical characteristics, gender, social security number, family relationships, occupation, and more. The AFI went into effect in August 2012.

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Snowden wants YOU – yes, YOU – to build spy-busting tech – National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wants the geeks of the world to develop anti-spying technology to prevent governments spying on their citizens.

In a keynote address delivered to the Hope X hacker conference in New York City on Saturday, Snowden said encryption was the “first step” in fighting against government surveillance and that new platforms to prevent traffic analysis techniques being used to figure out users’ associates were key.

He said it was the “civic duty” of technologists to educate the public on how systems work so that they can understand the risks posed by the devices, apps and services they use.

“You, in this room right now, have both the means and the capabilities to help build a better future by encoding our rights into the programs and protocols on which we rely on every day,” Snowden told the conference’s audience of hackers and hacktivists, adding that that was where he planned to focus his future work.

“Generally I say [we need] encryption, encryption, encryption … but when we talk about how we fix this stuff for the future … association is often the problem.

“How governments discover their adversaries uses the same techniques they use to discover spies [and] journalists.”

He urged technologists to develop “padded protocols” resistant to traffic analysis, even if they reduced performance, along with mixed routing which divorced individual connections from origination points that went further than Tor.

Geeks should collaborate to build these platforms and then form teams to hack them to bits in order to discover – and subsequently close off – avenues which a government may use to attack users.

US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account – A US judge has ruled that the Feds can have access to a Gmail user’s entire account to search for evidence in a money laundering case, a decision which clashes with at least two other recent rulings on email privacy.

New York District Judge Gabriel Gorenstein said in an opinion that email accounts were the same as hard drives as far as the law was concerned, which means they can be seized in their entirety when the cops have a warrant.

The judge issued the opinion, which explains his decision to allow prosecutors access to the Gmail account in the criminal case, because it conflicts with at least two other recent rulings. Other judges have previously said that handing out sweeping warrants was giving government agencies too much access to far too many emails, instead of just the relevant ones.

Gorenstein cited two other rulings in particular: one in the District of Columbia, and one in Kansas. In Washington DC, judge John Facciola rejected a warrant application to seize the contents of an Apple email account belonging to a defence contractor in a bribery case, while in Kansas the judge denied warrants for emails and other info stored by Google, Verizon, Yahoo!, Skype and GoDaddy in a case regarding a stolen computer.

In both cases the warrant applications were rejected because of a lack of limits on what the authorities would sweep up by gaining access to entire email accounts.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 21, 2014

See who is using your Wi-Fi on Windows;  EFF asks you to share your Internet to improve security worldwide;  Get Facebook’s Nose Out Of Your Business;  How to protect yourself from smartphone bill cramming; Beware the spin behind Australia’s new surveillance laws; UK set to launch new anti-piracy campaign;  Stay ahead of the weather with these apps; Why Google Chrome thinks uTorrent is malware;  Government-grade malware in hacker hands;  Google to stop referring to games with in-app purchases as ‘free’; Woman chooses to be shot, rather than give up Samsung phone;  Dumb fun: 15 dead stupid, utterly joyful PC games; Microsoft announces all the details for the August Xbox One update;  This is the 2015 Smart car: Is it ridiculous? US needs to restore trust following NSA revelations, tech groups say.

See who is using your Wi-Fi on Windows – Sometimes a Wi-Fi password just isn’t enough to keep a neighbor or a stranger from stealing your Internet connection. You may notice that websites, videos, or file transfers aren’t moving as fast as they used to. The problem may not be theft, but simply a case of too many devices trying to share a slow connection. To get to the root of the issue you can use a free app for Windows. Let’s investigate.

EFF asks you to share your Internet to improve security worldwide – The Electronic Frontier Federation is soon to release router software which will allow you to open your Internet up to strangers — while keeping a separate, secure portion for yourself.

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Quick tip: Add events to Google Calendar via the search box – Google just rolled out a new way to add events to your calendar without leaving the homepage. As an added bonus, Chrome users can use this feature from the omnibox.

Win XP antivirus compared – last time? – Independent test lab AV-Test has completed a test of nine corporate and 23 consumer antivirus products on Windows XP. Nearly all of the products detected all or nearly all of the malware in the test. AV-Test has stated that this test will probably be their last such comparison on Windows XP.

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Get Facebook’s Nose Out Of Your Business – You’re being tracked on the web. Of course, you already knew that. Luckily, Adblock Plus, a content filtering and ad blocking extension for web browsers, is here to save the day. Or at least some of your privacy. Last year, it released a handy feature, the Social Media Tracking Blocker, that lets you stop Facebook and other social networks from tracking your activity. The blocking list of the feature currently stops over 6,500 different trackers.

How to protect yourself from smartphone bill cramming – You might not be familiar with the term “cramming.” But if you’re not careful, it could be costing you money on your mobile phone bill each month.

Get more out of the Windows Taskbar with these 3 shortcuts – Looking to cycle through your apps or just get a more standard right-click context menu? There are a few shortcuts for that.

Windows 8.1 update 2 said to arrive on August 12th – Windows 8.1 update 2 is right around the corner and thanks to a few leaked documents, it looks like August 12th will be the day that the update is released as part of Patch Tuesday.

Turn your old iPod into a security camera for free – Manything is a free iOS app that lets you convert a spare iPod Touch, iPad, or iPhone into a video surveillance camera. The next part is up to you: either use a second device to view footage remotely and receive alerts and Cloud-saved clips based on motion activity, or simply track what’s happening on the Manything Web app. Basically, it works like an IP camera without requiring a separate purchase.

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Stream your own film festival of Netflix recent releases – In our increasingly complex world, it seems as if we don’t have the time we once enjoyed to actually go to the movies, and see new movies in theaters. Yes, we still love our big blockbusters, but what about those slightly smaller movies, the ones that don’t get the same kind of advertising push? Well, here are nine movies from the past 18 months, plus one cult classic that slipped through the cracks some decades ago—all of which are available with the convenience of streaming on Netflix. There’s something for everyone here: documentaries, dramas, comedies, some deep thoughts, and a little sex and violence.

Stay ahead of the weather with these apps – Though Google Play Store is teeming with hundreds of weather apps, the most popular titles all hail from the big names in weather, including the Weather Channel and Accuweather. I’ve rounded up some of the best options out there, including a few lesser-known choices. Armed with any of these, you’ll never get caught in the rain again.

UK set to launch new anti-piracy campaign – For what seems like forever, Internet service providers have been attempting to fight consumers that pirate content. Last year, ISPs in the UK were ordered to block 21 sites that were regularly used to pirate content, including many database websites that are used for torrents. Most recently, the co-founder of The Pirate Bay, Pete Sunde, had been arrested in Sweden, after nearly two years of being on the run. Now, “People in the UK who persistently pirate music and movies will soon start getting emails warning them that their actions are illegal,” according to BBC.

SOS Online Backup offers a lifeline to those concerned about data privacy – Online backup is a great thing, and there are a lot of companies offering it. But many farm out your data to storage sub-contractors and are reluctant to share even basic facts about how they go about their business. Even large concerns such as Microsoft and Google are reticent to provide details. SOS Online Backup owns all its own data centers and is very forthcoming about how they handle your data. Add affordable pricing, online access, and support for mobile devices and you have a storage service worthy of the name.

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Rise of the Planet of the Lockscreens – Lockscreens were supposed to be a subordinate interface — a kind of screen saver for smartphones that told you the time and put a barrier between your phone’s home screen and the world. But soon, lockscreens will take over, moving from the least important interface on your phone to the most important. Here’s why I’m going bananas over the new smart lockscreens.

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Slidelock Locker illustrated.

Security:

Why Google Chrome thinks uTorrent is malware – If you’ve tried to download uTorrent in the last few days and you’re a Google Chrome user, you may have noticed something alarming: Chrome seems to think that uTorrent is malware. Wonder what’s going?

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Critical industrial control systems remain vulnerable to Heartbleed exploits – The products are used to control switches, valves, and other equipment in chemical, manufacturing, energy, and wastewater facilities. Heartbleed is the name given to a bug in the widely used OpenSSL cryptographic library that leaks passwords, usernames, and secret encryption keys. While Siemens has updated some of its industrial control products to patch the Heartbleed vulnerability, others remain susceptible, an advisory published Thursday by the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team warned.

Government-grade malware in hacker hands – New research suggests that ‘government-grade’ malware designed to operate undetected on computer systems is in the hands of cybercriminals who are integrating it into rootkits and ransomware.

Snowden plans to work on anti-surveillance technology – Edward Snowden says he plans to develop and promote anti-surveillance technology to hamper government spying across the globe. The former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, who leaked confidential documents detailing the extensive surveillance activities of the NSA and the UK’s GCHQ, called for support at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference via a video link from Moscow, Russia. Snowden addressed the conference on Saturday, requesting that the hacking community channel its resources into developing anti-surveillance technologies which will making government spying more difficult — and said that he planned to spend much of his future time doing the same.

Home router security to be tested in Defcon contest – Researchers are gearing up to hack an array of different home routers during a contest next month at the Defcon 22 security conference in Las Vegas. The contest is called SOHOpelessly Broken — a nod to the small office/home office space targeted by the products — and follows a growing number of large scale attacks this year against routers and other home embedded systems. The competition is organized by security consultancy firm Independent Security Evaluators and advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and will have two separate challenges.

Microsoft password research has fatal flaw – I wrote yesterday about a report from Microsoft researchers, which goes against established password security best practices. The new guidance from the Microsoft researchers makes sense to me, because it fits how I handle password management already. However, at least one security expert feels that there is a fatal flaw that makes the new password advice impractical: You.

Company News:

Google reportedly confronted Samsung over wearables strategy in ‘tense’ meeting – Google’s Larry Page is said to have expressed frustrations over Samsung’s wearables strategy in a ‘tense’ meeting – but Samsung isn’t happy either, privately referring to Google as a “bully”.

Huawei’s enterprise business helps lift sales by 19 percent YoY – Despite continued hostile exchanges with the Australian, British, and US governments, Huawei Technologies has reported an increase in revenue and profit for the first half of 2014. Huawei chief financial officer Cathy Meng said the revenue and profit for the first half of 2014 are in line with company’s expectations, and believes its efforts in the enterprise business have “begun to pay off” where the company has “enjoyed accelerated growth” in this area.

BlackBerry’s Passport to the future – The odd dimensions of the BlackBerry Passport make it an ugly duckling, but the phone focuses on innovation that should excite fans.

Games and Entertainment:

Dumb fun: 15 dead stupid, utterly joyful PC games – “Video games will rot your brain,” said one of my elementary school teachers. Well, Mrs. You’re-A-Fictional-Placeholder, they haven’t managed to empty out my skull yet, but that’s not for lack of trying. To commemorate the lack of summertime learning, here are 15 dumb games, full of explosions and frogs and explosions and goats and explosions and 50 Cent and more explosions. These games are utterly stupid—and utterly wonderful for it.

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Destiny Beta begins: detailing 20 minutes of gameplay – The video you see here was recorded on the first day of the Destiny Beta for PlayStation 4. It was recorded with an Elgato GameCapture HD and transferred in 1080p to YouTube. As good as the game looks here, it looks even better straight to the TV set from the PS4, of that you can rest assured.

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NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet unofficially unveiled, priced at $299 USD – While there have been leaks about an upcoming gaming tablet by NVIDIA, this leak is probably the most comprehensive and detailed. The leaked documents shows the tablet, its specifications, and a couple of its accessories. This will be NVIDIA’s latest attempt at a portable gaming device, a follow-up to last year’s SHIELD.

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Microsoft announces all the details for the August Xbox One update – Over the next few days, Microsoft will push out an update to those of you who are in the ‘Xbox Preview Dashboard’ program that will bring with it new features which will eventually be released in August. The update will add quite a few new features to the Xbox One and we have them listed below.

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Google to stop referring to games with in-app purchases as ‘free’ – Google has now said that it will stop using the word ‘free’ to describe games with in-app purchases, as well as introducing specific guidelines for developers to prevent them from targeting children and encouraging them to buy more. These changes will be implemented in late September, but while Google has responded with a commitment to action, the EU has expressed disappointment that Apple has so far failed to do so.

You Should Play: Doug Dug – The first thing you will discover when you fire up Doug Dug, an iOS game that runs on both the iPhone and the iPad, is that it has nothing to do with Dig Dug, the 1980s arcade classic from Namco. There are no Pookas, no Fygars, and definitely no inflating monsters until they burst. And that will be a bitter disappointment to you. I understand that. But it will be the last thing to disappoint you about Doug Dug. Because the game manages to inspire Flappy Bird-levels of addictiveness without resorting to frustrating gameplay or gimmicks to do it (which is very much unlike Flappy Bird).

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Woman chooses to be shot, rather than give up Samsung phone – No one knows for certain how they’d react if confronted with an armed robber. One Harris County, TX. woman, however, decided that she’d take the chance of being shot rather than hand over her Samsung Galaxy phone. She said: “He was like, hey, let me get that phone. I was like, I’m not giving you my phone sir. He’s like, I’m going to shoot you, so I put my hands up.” She says she crouched down and prepared to be shot. Could a phone really be worth this risk?

Apollo 11 turns 45: a lunar landing anniversary retrospective – Fortunately for amateur and professional historians wondering how the effort succeeded despite its comparatively primitive computing, NASA has extensive historical resources about project Apollo available in the public domain to study, including the outstanding Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (along with its companion site, the Apollo Flight Journal). We’ve combed through gigabytes of documents and images to bring you this brief retrospective of some lesser-known interesting historical tidbits around Apollo 11 and that one small step nearly a half-century ago.

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The Apollo 11 spacecraft rolls out from the Vehicle Assembly Building a few days prior to launch.

Japanese aquarium uses penguins to make the best AR app ever – Turn-by-turn navigation has changed how many of use get around, but apparently we’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. The Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo has found the missing element in all of our walking directions: penguins.

Penguin AR

How to pack like a true geek – Geeks have a tendency to find hard things easy, and easy things hard. For instance, a geek might look at a complex logical or mathematical problem and see the solution immediately — but confront them with something more mundane, like an empty stomach, and they tend to voluntarily make things much more difficult. Now, a consummate nerd has brought the obsessive mentality to bear on perhaps the most defining issue of our times: how much underwear should you bring on vacation?

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This is the 2015 Smart car: Is it ridiculous? – Smart is back with a new version of its ForTwo city car, promising more internal space and distinctive design while still preserving the tiny footprint, and it’s resurrecting the ForFour in the process. Sticking to the parking-friendly 2.69m (8.83 feet) length, the new ForTwo keeps its rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with a trio of new three-cylinder engines, an electric version, convertible option, and plenty of safety technology and other components borrowed from Mercedes’ C-Class.

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Something to think about:

“We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities – not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.”

-      Jimmy Carter

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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Windows Tweaker – Windows Tweaker is a free Windows tweaking utility using which you can tweak your Windows 8/7 both x86 and x64 systems are supported. It contains several tweaks grouped into 11 main categories, and access to 38 Windows tools (Device Manager, Registry Editor, DirectX Troubleshooter, Advanced Disk Cleanup, etc) all in a single place.

Features:

Has over 100 useful tweaks for your Windows 8/7 which you can’t find available, by default in Windows.

A one-stop place for all your important tweaks bundled in a single place.

Highly reliable and doesn’t affect your system in any way. All the applied tweaks can be safely undone, without leaving any traces (our main focus is reliability).

Small, efficient and easy to use tweaker.

You can enhance your Windows for smooth running, faster performance and lower memory consumption.

What more??? You can even schedule Shutdowns, configure startup programs and hide files/folders with System File privileges very easily.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden Calls On Developers To Champion Privacy By Design – Speaking at the Hope X conference taking place in New York this weekend, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden put out a call for developers to build systems that protect privacy and constitutional rights by design. He also revealed his own intention to work on developing privacy protecting technology.

Snowden was speaking via videolink from Russia where he currently has asylum after the US government cancelled his passport, following his leak last year of classified NSA documents detailing security agency surveillance programs.

Responding to a question about what people working in technology can do to counteract dragnet, overreaching surveillance, Snowden said encryption is an “important first step”. But he added that simply securing the content of communications is not in itself enough. New privacy-protecting protocols and infrastructures need to be designed.

“It doesn’t end at encryption it starts at encryption,” said Snowden. “Encryption protects the content but we forget about associations… These programs like section 215 [of the Patriot Act] and mass surveillance in general is not about surveilling you, it’s not about surveilling me. It’s about surveilling us collectively. It’s about watching the company. For everybody in the country and on a global scale.

“This is basically a big data program which provides the raw data that can then be analyzed, it can be filtered, it can be subjected to rules for example… it says everything you do is being analyzed, it’s being weighted, it’s being measured and that’s without regard to whether or not you’ve done anything wrong.”

Snowden argued that government dragnet surveillance programs constitute an “unreasonable seizure” of information, under the 4th and 5th amendments, being as there’s no proven suspicion to justify what happens in advance. He also argued it can be seen as a due process violation under the 5th amendment – “where the government is basically saying we’re going to use warrantless surveillance to collect evidence to then secretly use to get a warrant application” – and a violation of 1st amendment rights that give US citizens freedom of association.

The continuous, programmatic analysis of the connections of everybody is “a fundamentally un-America thing”, he argued. “If you let you go of your rights for a moment, you’ve lost them for a lifetime. And that’s why this matters. It’s because it happened, and we didn’t know about it. We weren’t told,” he said.

Beware the spin behind Australia’s new surveillance laws – “Now, Alison, I’m a liberal, so philosophically I have a very strong predisposition against big government and against expanding state power,” said Australia’s favourite Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis QC, to ABC Radio National journalist Alison Carabine last Thursday. “And that is why, in the legislation that I introduced into the Senate yesterday, we have taken the most conservative possible approach in empowering the national security agencies with additional powers, but it was necessary to contemporise the legislation.”

Except that the 124-page National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 is not “the most conservative possible approach”. That’s just part of the jumble of spin and logical fallacies that Brandis is using to “justify” substantial increases to the surveillance powers of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

The most significant change, at least for ZDNet readers, would give ASIO the power to hack into the computers of completely innocent people in pursuit of their target.

Computer access warrants can already give ASIO permission to access a specific computer if there are “reasonable grounds” for believing the data in that computer will “substantially assist” the collection of intelligence in a matter that is “important in relation to security”. The warrant may also allow ASIO to do “any thing reasonably necessary to conceal the fact that any thing has been done under the warrant” — that is, to erase their tracks.

The relevant law is section 25A of the ASIO Act 1979, although those provisions reflect more recent amendments.

Brandis’ Bill extends the definition of computer access warrants. “The target computer may be any one or more of the following: (a) a particular computer; (b) a computer on particular premises; (c) a computer associated with, used by or likely to be used by, a person (whose identity may or may not be known).”

ASIO would also be able to use “any other computer or a communication in transit to access the relevant data and, if necessary to achieve that purpose, adding, copying, deleting or altering other data in the computer or the communication in transit”, provided that they’ve considered other methods of obtaining that data that are “likely to be as effective” and using these third-party systems is “reasonable in all the circumstances”.

What a moron – he condescendingly  claims to be a Liberal – and then leads off with a classic definition of a Conservative, which he applies to himself. Chuck this guy out on his arse.

Will the next US-EU trade pact prevent Brussels acting against US tech giants? – The European Union government in recent years has proven to be perhaps the most willing to take on the world’s major tech companies over digital rights and wrongs. But that could come to an end if planned measures allowing companies to sue governments for lost profits are implemented as part of the next EU-US trade agreement.

A controversial chapter of the agreement currently being negotiated would give multinationals the right to sue the government concerned if new laws lead to lower profits. So if, for example, a new law caused Apple’s profits – or Google’s, or Samsung’s, or Amazon’s, or any of a thousand others – to drop sharply they could take the government to tribunal.

Such an action could have followed such previous events as the EU forcing Microsoft to institute browser choice, or the recent ECJ “right to be forgotten” ruling, which could end up throwing a significant administration burden on Google and other search engines. It might stymie ongoing moves by the EU to enforce stricter intellectual-property compliance on the internet giants, too.

Digital civil liberties groups have reacted with horror to the suggestion that investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) will be enshrined in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement being negotiated in Brussels this week.

US needs to restore trust following NSA revelations, tech groups say – The U.S government can take action to slow the calls in other countries to abandon U.S. tech vendors following revelations about widespread National Security Agency surveillance, some tech representatives said Friday.

Decisions by other governments to move their residents’ data away from the U.S. are hurting tech vendors, but Congress can take steps to “rebuild the trust” in the U.S. as a responsible Internet leader, said Kevin Bankston, policy director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

Still, other governments will continue to try to use the NSA revelations by former agency contractor Edward Snowden to their advantage, said panelists at a Congressional Internet Caucus discussion on the effect of NSA surveillance on U.S. businesses.

“What we have here is an inflection point — a moment for other countries, other companies, to close the gap and to use this as an opportunity to really catch up to the IT industry in the U.S.,” added Chris Hopfensperger, policy director with software trade group BSA.

BSA is hearing “anecdotal” evidence of foreign governments turning away U.S. tech vendors because of NSA surveillance, Hopfensperger said. He noted news reports last month of the German government dropping a contract with Verizon Communications because of spying.

Hopfensperger called on U.S. policymakers to actively address worldwide concerns about NSA surveillance, instead of waiting to see what the impact on the U.S. tech industry will be. “There’s a very large focus on what is the dollar impact on this,” he said. “The problem with looking at the numbers of what has happened is, by the time you have a real dollar amount, that business is lost, and it’s not coming back to the U.S.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 18, 2014

Snowden: NSA employees routinely pass around intercepted nude photos;  goTenna lets you send texts without cellular service;  Real-World Antivirus Protection Test: Winners and Losers;  Real-time plagiarism checker debuts for Microsoft Word;  Air Force research: How to use social media to control people like drones;  How to take great cropped photos on your iPhone;  Wiper is an Encrypted Alternative to SMS and Voice Calls with Instant Data Wipe (free);  5 hidden iOS 7 features that all Apple users should know;  Biggest losers (and winner) in Apple-IBM enterprise alliance;  Catch of the Day waits 3 years to reveal data breach; Microsoft researchers: Use simple passwords for most of your accounts;  NetAdapter Repair All In One (free);  Photos: Who’s watching you? Farnborough 2014 drones and UAVs.

Snowden: NSA employees routinely pass around intercepted nude photos – Edward Snowden has revealed that he witnessed “numerous instances” of National Security Agency (NSA) employees passing around nude photos that were intercepted “in the course of their daily work.” In a 17-minute interview with The Guardian filmed at a Moscow hotel and published on Thursday, the NSA whistleblower addressed numerous points, noting that he could “live with” being sent to the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also again dismissed any notion that he was a Russian spy or agent—calling those allegations “bullshit.”

Real-World Antivirus Protection Test: Winners and Losers – Your antivirus tool has many different opportunities to protect your PC from attack. It can totally block access to a malicious URL, wipe out the downloaded code on sight, recognize and prevent malicious behavior, even roll back the system changes made by a malware attack. It’s easy to create a lab test that checks just one of these layers, for example, the ability to block malicious URLs or recognize malware by signature. Such a test is informative, but doesn’t give the whole picture. AV-Comparatives runs a continual Real-World Protection test that lets each antivirus use all of its weapons against live malware. The latest summary of this test’s results reveals a broad range of effectiveness.

Chrome’s been eating your laptop’s battery for years, but Google promises to fix it – Google is just now responding to a bug in Chrome for Windows that may have been sapping users’ batteries for years. Chrome’s battery drain problem was brought to wider attention by Forbes contributor Ian Morris, who noticed that Chrome for Windows was using considerably more power than other browsers. The issue, he wrote, is that Chrome doesn’t return the system’s processor to an idle state when it’s not doing anything. Instead, Chrome sets a high “system clock tick rate” of 1 millisecond, and leaves it at that rate, even if the browser’s just running the background.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to sideload an app onto your Android phone or tablet – “Sideloading” an app is the common term for installing it without downloading directly from the Google Play Store. Maybe there’s an app that’s not in the Play Store but is floating around in a popular forum. Maybe you’re just trying to give your friend’s app a try before he or she publishes it. There are plenty of good reasons why you’d want to sideload an app, and we’re going to show you how easy it is.

Chat off the grid: goTenna lets you send texts without cellular service – Your phone is a pocket-sized supercomputer, but when you don’t even have cellular coverage to send a text message, it feels more like a paperweight. goTenna is a portable RF antenna that lets you communicate even when your phone has no service whatsoever. You won’t be posting selfies to Instagram or catching up on your Hulu queue, but goTenna lets you exchange text messages and GPS coordinates with other goTenna users who are within range—and that range could be a mile or so in a city to a whopping 50 miles if you happen to be standing on top of a mountain.

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Facebook has a new app, but it’s for VIPs only – Facebook’s Creative Labs team can’t be tamed. The group responsible for producing new Facebook-related apps first came up with the social newsreader Paper. Then the Snapchat-esque Slingshot hit iTunes just last month. On Thursday, Facebook released Mentions, but this iOS app isn’t for just anybody—only celebrities can use it.

Real-time plagiarism checker debuts for Microsoft Word – Few of the apps running on top of Microsoft Word have stood out all that much. One exception may be Academic Wordsmith, which can scan academic papers as you’re writing. Although the app itself is technically free, Academic Wordsmith costs $19 per year. For the price, users can submit as many papers as they’d like to the service, comparing them to the Wordsmith database to make sure that “research” doesn’t wander into plagiarism.

Hip to be square: How to take great cropped photos on your iPhone – We’re in a square-photographed world: Square images fill our Twitter streams, Facebook dashboards, and just about everywhere else. If you’re a photographer shooting on your iPhone, it’s hip to shoot square—especially if you know the right tricks to make your images look fabulous.

Brush up on your tech acronyms – You hear and read the same acronyms over and over again. Many you know well. Others you can guess. And some just baffle you. Let’s unclutter the alphabet soup.

Wiper is an Encrypted Alternative to SMS and Voice Calls with Instant Data Wipe – Perhaps you’re the security minded type or just a tiny bit worried about someone snooping on your private correspondence. If such concerns keep you up at night, Wiper could be the answer. It’s a free app that came out recently on both Android and iPhone offering end-to-end encryption for messages and calls, along with instant wipe across devices.

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Fonts In Chrome For Windows Will Look Better Soon – Google released the latest beta version of its Chrome browser today, and if you’re a Windows user on a machine that runs at least Vista, fonts will now look better on your screen. That’s because the Chrome 37 Beta now supports Microsoft’s DirectWrite API, a technology that improves the way fonts look on modern screens.

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Facebook tests ‘buy’ button to let users make purchases from their feeds – Facebook is testing a “buy” button that lets users make purchases directly from their news feeds. A limited number of small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. are involved in the test, with the e-commerce feature available to users in Facebook’s desktop and mobile versions. A participating businesses’ ads include a “buy” button to purchase the item being advertised, without leaving Facebook’s site.

Apple Rolls Out iTunes Pass Payment System – Apple iOS users in the U.S. and a handful of other countries now have access to Apple’s new iTunes Pass feature, which first debuted in Japan. Customers in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, and the U.K. can now use the Passbook-based service to refill iTunes account balances at brick-and-mortar Apple Stores. With iTunes Pass—not to be confused with the short-lived music subscription service—accessible via Passbook, it’s easy to personally deposit money into a digital account, instead of fumbling with a credit card number or scanning gift cards.

Smartphone displays smart enough to sense your spit. Seriously – Wondering if you have a cold? You may be able one day soon to spit on your smartphone to find out. Researchers at Polytechnique Montréal in Canada, collaborating with glass maker Corning, are getting closer to making that kind of feature a reality for mobile devices by developing a “smart” glass that can analyze fluids on its surface. Disgusting? Maybe. But such a capability may allow smartphones, wearables and tablets to expand their usefulness in personal medicine, security, and food and environmental safety.

5 hidden iOS 7 features that all Apple users should know – iOS 7 was a break from the traditional form of iOS and brought a revolutionary design, but there are other features that Apple didn’t announce. Here are five useful but hidden iOS 7 features.

Security:

WordPress plugin vulnerabilities affect 20 million downloads – Since May, security firm Sucuri has discovered critical WordPress plugin vulnerabilities affecting four plugins that have nearly 20 million downloads.

The following article explains why it is, only a specific type of WordPress site is susceptible to this type of issue. This site, for example, is not subject to plugin vulnerabilities.

Understanding the different WordPress variants – We’ve gotten a number of reader questions about WordPress, and in particular, about the very different variations that are available to bloggers and developers. In this article, we help clear up the confusion.

Vulnerability exposes some Cisco home wireless devices to hacking – Nine of Cisco’s home and small office cable modems with router and wireless access point functionality need software updates to fix a critical vulnerability that could allow remote attackers to completely compromise them. The company has shared the software updates with service providers, so users who obtained the affected equipment from their ISPs or other Cisco resellers should contact those organizations.

Microsoft researchers: Use simple passwords for most of your accounts – New guidance from Microsoft researchers suggests that users re-use simple passwords and avoid password management applications and services. The problem with password management applications or services is that they introduce a single point of failure.

Pushdo Trojan outbreak: 11 THOUSAND systems infected in just 24 hours – A wave of attacks by cybercrooks pushing a new variant of the resilient Pushdo Trojan has compromised more than 11,000 systems in just 24 hours. Indian PCs have been most affected by the outbreak, but systems in the UK, France and the US have also been hit, according to security software firm Bitdefender.

Apple ID two-step verification expansion brings total to 59 countries – Apple has expanded the availability of its two-step verification for Apple ID. With this latest expansion, the number of countries has jumped from 11 all the way to 59, giving customers in dozens of new countries additional security.

How elite hackers (almost) stole the NASDAQ – In 2010, elite hackers, most likely from Russia, used at least two zero-day vulnerabilities to penetrate the computer network operated by Nasdaq Stock Market, a hack that allowed them to roam unmolested for months and plant destructive malware designed to cause disruptions, according to a media report published Thursday.

The shocking truth behind privacy policies in the enterprise – With the fast pace of online consumerism, companies must guarantee what they say in privacy policies is actually what they are doing when protecting the privacy of customer data.

Catch of the Day waits 3 years to reveal data breach – Australian daily deals website Catch of the Day announced a three-year-old data breach compromising credit cards and passwords to its customers on Friday evening.

Company News:

Microsoft CEO: losing 18,000 jobs makes us “more agile” – In what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says is “the first step to building the right organization for our ambitions”, the company will lay off roughly 18,000 workers in the next year. The move will see the bulk of that come from Nokia, where Microsoft will end competing efforts on the Android platform.

Lenovo stops selling small-screen Windows tablets in the U.S. due to lack of demand – Lenovo has stopped selling Windows tablets with screen sizes under 10 inches in the U.S. due to lack of interest. Lenovo has stopped selling two small-screen Windows tablets with 8-inch screens: the ThinkPad 8, which was announced in January and a model of Miix 2, which started shipping in October last year.

US government rebuffs Aereo’s first shot at rebooting – Online-television startup Aereo’s request for a copyright license that might let it resume streaming — despite TV network opposition and a Supreme Court ruling against it — isn’t going to be simple. The US Copyright Office told Aereo it wouldn’t process the startup’s request for a license that pays for broadcast programming without having to get the permission of broadcasters themselves, in a letter dated Wednesday. The office said Aereo, as an online distributor, falls outside the scope of the act that created this license. But it didn’t shut the door on Aereo entirely.

Indian SaaS provider charts social landscape for clients – With the internet becoming a pivotal arena for commerce and socializing, companies have to be on top of what’s being said about them in social media channels and other forums. KonnectSocial thinks it has the answer.

Games and Entertainment:

Test Driving Sony’s Project Morpheus – Sony has been very coy about Project Morpheus, its upcoming virtual reality headset. It looks like it will be the first major head-mounted display to seriously butt up against the Oculus Rift, but besides the fact that it will be a PlayStation 4 accessory, few other details have been revealed. Sony had Project Morpheus on display at an event in New York this week, and I finally got some hands-on time with the helmet.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Game Hits iOS and Android for $4.99 with No In-App Purchases – Let’s be honest here–the mobile game tie-ins for movies are usually terrible. Even when they’re not (like the recent Captain America game), there is a web of in-app purchases to navigate. That’s not the case with the new Guardians of the Galaxy title, which is just out on Android and iOS. This is an action RPG with Star-Lord, Rocket, Groot, Gamora, and Drax in the starring roles, and it contains no upsells at all.

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Microsoft to close Xbox Entertainment Studios, killing its plans for original TV shows – Microsoft is to close Xbox Entertainment Studios, the division responsible for its original TV shows, with the loss of around 200 employees – although its Halo live-action shows will not be affected.

ESPN to stream The International, Valve’s massive Dota 2 e-sports tournament – Valve announced today that The International, the annual e-sports tournament for its blockbuster Dota 2 MOBA game, will be shown live on ESPN3—a pretty big coup, since it seemingly legitimizes e-sports as “real sports.” There will also be a show on ESPN2 at 8:30pm Pacific this Sunday previewing The International’s final match, featuring interviews with players and Valve managing director Gabe Newell. The International is the largest video games tournament in the world, with a prize pool this year of over $10 million.

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Atari Unveils Pridefest, an LGBT-Themed Social Sim Game – Atari says it’s working on an iOS and Android game that’s effectively a parade-building sim designed to appeal to the LGBT community.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Photos: Who’s watching you? Farnborough 2014 drones and UAVs – Unmanned aerial vehicles lined up on parade at this year’s Farnborough Airshow – and not all them fit the familiar drone profile.

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Electricity-eating bacteria are all around us, says researchers – Bacteria that feed on pure electricity are all around us, say researchers who have demonstrated their findings by growing the bacteria directly on battery electrodes. In their habitat, the bacteria survive on — and subsequently excrete — pure energy.

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Air Force research: How to use social media to control people like drones – The research demonstrates that the mathematical principles used to control groups of autonomous robots can be applied to social networks in order to control human behavior. If properly calibrated, the mathematical models developed by Dixon and his fellow researchers could be used to sway the opinion of social networks toward a desired set of behaviors—perhaps in concert with some of the social media “effects” cyber-weaponry developed by the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ.

Your brain needs taming: Here’s how you can do it – Your brain is a loose cannon, but you can tame it. At least, that’s the message from wearables startup InteraXon, pitching its Muse brain-sensing headband as the perfect way to coax your cortex into a healthier way of thinking. Another crowdfunding success story, the first Muse units are winging their way to backers, but I jumped the queue to try out one of the production headsets.

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Comcast only 6th worst in customer service, survey says – After a difficult week for its customer service, Comcast might take comfort. On the other hand, number 1 in this Ranker survey is Comcast’s new best friend, Time Warner Cable.

Biggest losers (and winner) in Apple-IBM enterprise alliance – The surprise move to bring IBM software running on iPads and iPhones into the hallowed halls of corporatedom will hit some competitors hard.

Something to think about:

“Generally the theories we believe we call facts, and the facts we disbelieve we call theories.”

-     Felix Cohen

Today’s Free Downloads:

NetAdapter Repair All In One – NetAdapter Repair is an All In One program that allows a user to effectively troubleshoot and repair common problems with windows networking adapters.

Repair Buttons and Additional Tools:

Advanced Repair (WinSock/TCP IP Repair, Clear all Proxy/VPN Settings, Windows Firewall Repair)

Release and Renew DHCP Address

Clear Host File

Clear Static IP Settings (enable DHCP)

Change to Google DNS

Flush DNS Cache

Clear ARP/Route Table

NetBIOS Reload and Release

Internet Options – Clear SSL State

Enable LAN Adapters

Enable Wireless Adapters

Reset Internet Options Security/Privacy

Set Network Windows Services Default

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Multi Commander – Multi Commander is a multi-tabbed file manager that is an alternative to the standard Windows Explorer. It uses the very popular and efficient dual-panel layout. Multi Commander has a everything you need in your daily works with files to make your work fast and efficient.

It has all the standard features like a file manager has like copy, move, rename, view. But Multi Commanders big strength is the special features that allow you to do advanced task with ease. Like Auto-unpacking, Auto-sorting, Browse inside archives, Workspace support, Scripting, Searching and a lot more. And it allows you to do everything from the keyboard.

Features:

Tabs allowing you to have multiple folders open.

Caching that enable fast file browsing.

Background work for all tasks that takes time to finish, allowing you to continue working without interruptions.

Customize the layout and colors to fit your styling needs.

Extensions and plugins that will increase the functionality of Multi Commander.

FTP, Registry , Zip, 7-Zip, Rar , Tar , GZ , Bz2 , Jar Support.

View and Change file permissions, Take ownership of files.

Picture tools like Convert / Rotate Pictures, View/Remove EXIF tags, Adjust EXIF Date of pictures.

Show Movie information from IMDB/Rotten tomato as extra columns on you movie files.

Audio tools like View Audio file properties, View/Edit MP3 Tags.

Open API for developers to create extensions and plugins.

Remember selections when you get back from another location when browsing the filesystem.

Use mouse and drag and drop or use quick keyboard command for all the task.

FileOperations plugins that can automatically sort / unpack files when they are moved or copied.

File viewer that lets you view files of any size, as ASCII/Unicode/UTF8/Binary and Hex.

Both 32bit and 64bit versions available.

Handle folders with many thousands of files with easy, And use power full filters to limit what you want to view.

Compare folders and select the files and folders that are different, that are the same and many other options.

Power full script engine allowing you to create script that automate tasks.

Portable. Can be installed and run from portable (USB) device. Will not write any settings/session info on host computer.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: Swapping other people’s sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden – Edward Snowden has given an interview to The Guardian from his Russian hideout and warned that, among other things, those naked selfies people send to their loved ones are common currency among NSA staff.

“You’ve got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old. They’ve suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records,” he said in the video interview.

“During the course of their daily work they stumble upon something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense – for example, an intimate nude photo of someone of in a sexually compromising situation, but they’re extremely attractive. So what they do? They turn around in their chair and show their co-worker.”

Such activities are seen as a “fringe benefit” of the job among certain analysts he claimed, and the internal auditing procedures at the NSA are so lax that there’s no comeback if they swap nudie pics. As proof of the laxity shown by the NSA, he pointed out that he, a 29-year-old, had managed to walk out of the agency’s offices with a large chunk of their internal files.

There were plenty of people within the NSA who are disturbed by the extent of surveillance the agency carries out, Snowden said. He claimed he had spoken privately to ten people within the organization when he was still employed there about the troubling aspects of the job.

Snowden also criticized his Russian hosts, saying that a rash of laws passed in the country will severely curtail press freedom and the human rights of its citizens. He denied passing security secrets to the Putin government, saying that had he done so then the US would have been alerted when its own espionage channels went dark.

EU privacy watchdogs to quiz Google, Microsoft on ‘right to be forgotten’ – European privacy authorities have invited Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to discuss the implementation of a landmark ruling by Europe’s top court that gives people the right to have personal information excluded from search results.

The main search engine providers in Europe were invited to attend a collective consultation meeting about the ruling with the Article 29 Working Party (A29WP), which brings together data protection authorities from across the EU, according to a spokeswoman for the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), which is part of the working party.

They will meet next Thursday in Brussels, added a spokeswoman for France’s data protection authority CNIL, the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty, which currently presides over the group of data protection authorities.

A Microsoft spokesman said the company has received the invitation and is happy to attend, while Google said it would cooperate with privacy authorities. Yahoo did not immediately return a request for comment.

Under the May ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, search engines can be compelled upon request to remove results in Europe for queries that include a person’s name, if the results shown are” inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.”

Since than, Google has received over 70,000 take-down requests covering more than 250,000 Web pages. It also started adding a warning to some search results on its European sites, saying some results may have been removed under European data protection law, and it also started telling Web masters which links to content on their website were removed.

Chaos Computer Club bolsters NSA spying complaint with Tor snooping evidence – The German Chaos Computer Club said Wednesday that it has added to its legal complaint about U.S. spying on German citizens evidence that the NSA allegedly snooped on at least one of its Tor servers.

The CCC filed a complaint with Germany’s federal prosecutor, Harald Range, in February, demanding an investigation into the German government’s alleged involvement in the U.S. National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of German citizens.

However, while Range started an investigation into the alleged tapping of Merkel’s phone by the NSA in June, he said there wasn’t enough evidence to start a similar investigation into the widely reported mass surveillance of German citizens.

The CCC hopes that new publications exposing data collection explicitly targeting servers that are used to connect to The Onion Router (Tor) network, a network that encrypts data traffic through random servers in order to obscure users’ identities, will change Range’s mind.

An investigation by German broadcasters revealed in early July that an NSA spying tool called XKeyScore is used to snoop on Tor users. A Tor server operated by computer science student Sebastian Hahn was identified as one of the NSA’s targets by the broadcasters.

Snowden: ‘Wannabe PRISM partner’ Dropbox is ‘hostile to privacy’ – In an interview with The Guardian, the newspaper which the former government contractor went to publish classified materials detailing the U.S.’ surveillance systems, Snowden said “zero knowledge” systems help protect user privacy by preventing government access.

“By depriving themselves of the ability to read the information, of the ability to sort of analyse and manipulate the information without the customers’ consent or authorisation, that’s the only way they can prove to the customers that they can be trusted with their information,” he said.

He also criticized the company’s decision to appoint former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to its board, calling her “the most anti-privacy official you can imagine.”

Rice was appointed to the company’s board earlier this year, sparking anger from privacy advocates and users. During her time in the Bush administration, she oversaw the STELLARWIND program, which was the cornerstone of Bush’s domestic surveillance program, he said.

British lawmakers bring back UK data retention – The United Kingdom’s data retention laws, labeled as emergency legislation, has cleared the House of Lords after two days of debate, the BBC reports.

On Wednesday the bills were pushed through the UK House of Commons, following an April ruling by the European Court of Justice that existing data retention laws across Europe breached citizen’s right to privacy.

At the same time that the House of Lords was debating the legislation, the United Nations Human Rights Council said that forcing telecommunications companies to retain customer data on behalf of law enforcement agencies should be measured, not by its impact to targets, but by the impact on the general population.

“Mass or ‘bulk’ surveillance programs may thus be deemed to be arbitrary, even if they serve a legitimate aim and have been adopted on the basis of an accessible legal regime,” the council said.

“Mandatory third-party data retention — a recurring feature of surveillance regimes in many states, where governments require telephone companies and internet service providers to store metadata about their customers’ communications and locations for subsequent law enforcement and intelligence agency access — appears neither necessary nor proportionate.”

However, during debate in the Commons, UK Home Secretary Theresa May backed the need to reinstate data retention.

“Without these capabilities we run the risk that murderers will not get caught, terrorist plots will go undetected, drug traffickers will go unchallenged, child abusers will not be stopped, and slave drivers will continue in the appalling trade in human beings,” she said.

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis admitted this week that data retention is under active consideration by the Australian government, but that it would not rush to introduce similar legislation.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 17, 2014

Almost a million fake apps are targeting your phone;  10 tools for more productive telecommuting;  Free antivirus and anti-malware scanners for Windows;  FBI warns that driverless cars could be weaponized;  ‘Hidden from Google’ tracks sites removed from Internet searches;  What is sapphire glass and why is it in the next iPhone? Road warriors: Reduce travel headaches with these five apps;  How to get 5 TB of OneDrive storage from your Office 365 Home subscription;  How long until we see free Android or Chrome OS tablets?  50 Smartest Celebrities on Twitter;  10 Tips to Keep Your Digital Photos Organized;  U.N. Says Governments Are Increasingly Relying On Private Sector For Surveillance;  Darwin’s complete Galapagos library posted online;  Google Planning A Big Push In India This Fall;  FotoSketcher (free).

The Guardian: The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control – At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US, says whistleblower William Binney – that’s a ‘totalitarian mentality’

FBI warns that driverless cars could be weaponized – What is it about driverless cars that makes the FBI clench its collective teeth? They’ve got two major concerns, according to a report obtained by The Guardian. First, that a driverless car could effectively be turned into a massive remote-controlled bomb. Pack it with ordinance, program the course and press the button, and observe the destruction from a safe distance. Cars area already used as bombs, so it’s not hard to imagine someone considering having one drive itself to the detonation site instead of having a person abandon it. Fewer loose ends, right?

Free antivirus and anti-malware scanners for Windows – No one wants malware on their PCs, so antivirus and antimalware scanners are a must, but a quality scanner need not cost the earth. In fact, there are a number of free solutions out there that will help keep your digital empire safe. Here are six top-quality scanners that will help you clean up systems and keep them safe in the future. There are tools here for systems ranging from Windows XP to Windows 8.1.

10 tools for more productive telecommuting – While your employer has probably set you up with a phone and laptop, VPN access, and whatever software you need to actually get your job done, they might not have thought through how exactly you’re supposed to keep in touch with co-workers, collaborate on projects, and steer clear of distractions. Here are 10 apps, programs, and web services that can help to fill in the gaps.

Google Wallet updated with gift card management, free money sending – From sending money without a fee and managing your gift cards, Google Wallet looks like it may be able to take on PayPal after all.

Road warriors: Reduce travel headaches with these five apps – As a certified road warrior, with an average of 200+ days on the road each year, I have found several applications that make travel a little easier. These are a few of my favorites, all of which are available on iOS and Android smartphones, and in many cases, as web services or on other phone and tablet platforms.

Slingbox M1 review: Place-shift TV with minimal hassle – The M1 is Slingbox’s first new offering in nearly two years, and it’s not only the lowest-priced version to date, but also the most capable entry-level model. You can push live TV, DVR recordings, and even on-demand programming to your computer, smartphone, tablet, or compatible set top box—even if you’re far away from home.

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Senate passes bill allowing mobile phone owners to unlock devices – The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that would allow mobile phone customers to unlock their devices for the purposes of switching carriers. The Senate, late Tuesday, approved the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act by unanimous consent.

‘Yahoo Ending’ Provides End of (Digital) Life Planning – Yahoo Japan now offers full end-of-life services, from arranging your funeral to deleting your digital remains. Japanese users can sign up for “Yahoo Ending,” which sends out digital farewell messages to loved ones, and scrubs all personal data from the company’s system once Yahoo confirms the user has passed. And, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, Yahoo Ending will create a tribute site to launch after the user’s death, where friends and family can leave condolences. The memorial space allows for a bio, photos, videos, messages, and an invitation to the funeral—similar to how people use Facebook pages to remember the deceased.

Launch Window: Upcoming Tech Product Releases – Wondering what’s coming in the weeks ahead? You could consult your favorite fortune teller, but she won’t tell you what’s really important: the latest gadget releases! Whatever it is—a game, a phone, a tablet, or a mysterious new product—if we’ve got the scoop on when it’s going to make a public debut, we’ll share it here.

‘Hidden from Google’ tracks sites removed from Internet searches – The website lists links Google has removed from search results following the European “right to be forgotten” ruling.

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Microsoft boosts OneDrive storage to free terabyte – Microsoft has started boosting the free allowance of OneDrive, its cloud-based storage service, to one terabyte for subscribers to consumer and college student Office 365 plans. The move follows by two weeks a similar increase in OneDrive for Business, the storage center offered to commercial customers, either as part of their subscriptions to the “rent-not-own” Office 365, or as a stand-alone service for $2.50 per user per month during a promotion through September.

How to get 5 TB of OneDrive storage from your Office 365 Home subscription – Every Office 365 subscription includes 1 TB of storage in OneDrive or OneDrive for Business. With an Office 365 Home subscription, you can share your account with up to four other people, giving your household a total of up to 5 TB of cloud file storage. Here’s how.

10 Tips to Keep Your Digital Photos Organized – Over the years, your photo collection will swell to the tens of thousands, you’ll migrate from one computer to another, you’ll go through several different cameras and industry formats will change. Fortunately, organizing your digital photos has become easier and easier, thanks to new automation tools. But you still need to pitch in. Follow these tips to keep track of your memories through all the changes.

What is sapphire glass and why is it in the next iPhone? – It’s not going to be cheap, but sapphire glass could become the next must-have in phones.

Security:

Almost a million fake apps are targeting your phone – Fake apps dressed up to look like official ones but actually designed to steal user data are increasingly targeting Android phone users, according to a study by Trend Micro. The company looked at the top 50 free apps in Google’s Play Store and then searched Google’s app store and others to see if fake versions existed. It found fake versions existed for 77 percent of the apps. The fake apps are often made to look like the real ones and have the same functions, but carry a dangerous extra payload.

Google refreshes Incognito in Chrome 36 – Chrome 36 Stable (download) for desktops on Wednesday debuted a new icon and message for the private browsing Incognito mode, cleaner-looking notification pop-ups, and a crash recovery bubble to better alert you when something has gone wrong. However, the Incognito icon in the upper left does not appear to be updated yet. The 26 security fixes include a medium-level bug that earned the researcher who found it $2,000.

Oracle fixes many vulnerabilities in dozens of products – Oracle has released a large set of security updates to multiple versions of 44 different products. The updates address a total of 113 vulnerabilities in over 100 versions of its products. Among the major products patched are Oracle Database Server (five vulnerabilities), Oracle Fusion Middleware (29), Oracle Hyperion (seven), Oracle E-Business Suite (five), Oracle PeopleSoft (five), Oracle Siebel CRM (six), Oracle MySQL Executive (ten), Oracle Solaris (four) and, of course, Oracle Java (20). Many of the vulnerabilities are severe and can result in remote compromise of the system. Many affect multiple products. Oracle recommends that customers apply all the updates as soon as possible.

Boost your security training with gamification — really! – That’s right; game-like elements can be used to enhance security awareness and modify users’ behaviors. The results are tightly connected to the real world. “Participants in our program were 50% less likely to click on a phishing link and 82% more likely to report a phishing email,” reports Patrick Heim, chief trust officer at Salesforce.com, describing the results the company saw after the first 18 months of an ongoing security awareness gamification effort that’s based on positive recognition rather than negative reinforcement.

Company News:

Blackphone Hits Back at BlackBerry on Security – Blackphone pulled on the gloves and stepped into the ring this week to fight BlackBerry’s allegations that the newcomer’s “consumer-grade” equipment is “inadequate” for businesses. BlackBerry took the first shot at Blackphone last week with a blog post that outlined why it believed BlackBerry’s veteran security service reigns supreme.

Apple Agrees To Pay As Much As $450M To Settle E-Book Case, But Says It Will Continue Appeal – Apple has reached an agreement with 33 states to pay as much as $400 million to consumers to settle the antitrust suit over e-book pricing. Including attorneys’ fees and payments to states, the company could pay a total of $450 million. However, the payment could be reduced, or eliminated entirely, depending on the results of Apple’s ongoing appeal.

Patience with Mayer’s Yahoo turnaround effort starting to wear thin – Wall Street drives down Yahoo’s stock as questions surface about the company’s progress and CEO Marissa Mayer’s tenure enters its third year.

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Microsoft stock hits decade high ahead of layoffs – Ahead of an anticipated announcement from Microsoft about layoffs, the company’s stock has hit the highest price in the past decade and is likely a factor of many different reasons.

Google Planning A Big Push In India This Fall – Google is planning a big advertising campaign for its Android One initiative in India this fall, according to several recent reports. While the figures don’t line up, the news itself makes a lot of sense.

Games and Entertainment:

Destiny Public Beta release: details and PS4 drop – On the morning of July 17th at approximately 11AM PST, we’ll begin seeing keys sent out for the Public Beta for Destiny. This game will be playable starting on the 17th by the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, while the Xbox One and Xbox 360 will have to wait until the 23rd of this month. Destiny Beta for the Xbox One will come in at around 12.63GB – massive – and we expect the PS4 version to deliver something similar.

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Hands-on preview: 8 years in the making, Firefall plays like an MMO Borderlands – It’s a perfect indicator of the long and presumably arduous road that Firefall—Red 5′s first project—has traveled to completion. The road ends July 29, when Firefall will actually release to the public, four full years after its reveal, and two years after it was supposed to “rule.” What’s incredible about Firefall, though, is the game still seems good, despite its meandering development path.  That’s more than you can say about most games that fall into development hell.

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Dragon Quest X on 3DS ships without a cartridge in the box – Launching Dragon Quest X on the 3DS means shipping out physical copies of the game to retail stores. But in this case gamers may be in for a bit of a shock when they open the case. That’s because even though you’ll be paying $40 for the game, there’s no cartridge inside. As it’s an MMO the game world will be streamed, meaning there’s very little to be stored locally, and certainly not enough to warrant actually using a cartridge. Still, it’s a bit cheeky for Square Enix not to give 3DS owners some kind of additional local content on a cartridge for buying a 2-year-old game at full price. Even a cartridge-shaped collectible would be a nice addition.

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Divinity: Original Sin is an odd mix of old- and new-school RPG design – The world of Divinity: Original Sin is as detailed as later Ultima games, but with a combat system that has much more tactical complexity. Original Sin’s hand-drawn aesthetic looks a lot like Baldur’s Gate and the Infinity Engine games, but those games certainly didn’t have a thousand different items to pick up for crafting, let alone dozens of skills, attributes, and perks to level up. Meanwhile, newer games like Dragon Age: Origins included some detailed character development, but they didn’t have long battles filled with intricate, turn-based tactical combat or the creation of multiple, distinct party members.

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Star Wars Episode IV recreated using Minecraft – Star Wars fans revisit the film franchise often, and we’d bet a few of them even play Minecraft. Some recreate scenes from the movie using Minecraft, but one user has gone all out. Rather than create scenes or crowd-source footage using Minecraft, someone has recreated the entire film. Paradise Decay has spent three years on this labor of love, building everything from the movie using digital blocks. Vehicles, worlds, even characters — all redone using Minecraft. He didn’t skimp, either — some worlds and scenes reportedly took six months to make.

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Paul McCartney releases five albums as extra-packed apps – Five Paul McCartney and Wings albums have been released as apps that are packed with extras for less than their iTunes equivalents. Thumbs up!

Off Topic (Sort of):

How long until we see free Android or Chrome OS tablets? – Building a decent sub-$100 tablet is possible today, and recovering the cost of this over a couple of years – especially if it is tied to something such as Amazon Prime – is well within the realms of possibility.

Smart feeder recognizes cat faces, tracks multiple felines – Bistro tracks individual cats using facial-recognition software that has been customized for the feline crowd. It connects to your home Wi-Fi and collects data on the cats’ weight, eating, and drinking habits. This information is sent to a mobile app so pet owners can follow their cats over time and even check in on them with video feeds. It sends alerts when there’s a change in appetite and generates analysis reports. An LED lighting system turns on gradually at night so the machine can collect data even when it’s dark.

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Darwin’s complete Galapagos library posted online: 404 volumes kept on board the Beagle join the giant Darwin Online repository – The complete list is quite astounding, made up of atlases, history books, geology studies, and even a giant supply of literature. Darwin also enjoyed a few books in French, Spanish, and German, along with a book in Latin about species and a Greek edition of the New Testament. Historians and fans can read and perform text searches of the fully transcribed library. But if you’re pressed for time, we strongly encourage you to at least skim through the collection of gorgeous illustrations.

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Swedish court upholds arrest warrant for Julian Assange – A Swedish judge has upheld the arrest warrant issued for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “The Court has decided that there is still probable cause concerning the suspicions directed towards JA (unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape, less serious incident) and that there is still a risk that he will fail to appear or in some other way avoid participation in the investigation and the following proceedings,” the Stockholm City District Court said in a statement on Wednesday.

Yahoo exec countersues against sexual harassment claim – A high-level female executive strikes back for defamation, after being accused of sexual harassment in a lurid lawsuit last week.

Manuel Noriega sues Activision over portrayal in Black Ops 2 – Noriega on Tuesday sued video game publisher Activision for the “blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation, and misappropriation for economic gain” of his likeness in the 2012 hit Call of Duty: Black Ops II. According to the Los Angeles Times, which obtained a copy of the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Noriega argues he’s portrayed as “a kidnapper, murderer, and enemy of the state.” All of that, he says, only helped Activision sell more units of its game.

50 Smartest Celebrities on Twitter – When it comes to big brains and big followings online, Leonardo DiCaprio appears to best them all: the Wolf of Wall Street actor is the smartest celebrity on Twitter. DiCaprio scores higher than the rest when judged by a commonly used reading comprehension test. Here’s where the tweeting and famous rank, according to analysis of the reading levels of the tweets produced by the 500 most followed celebrities on the popular social network.

Something to think about:

“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you.”

-     Rita Mae Brown

Today’s Free Downloads:

SUPERAntiSpyware Free 6.0.1020 Pre-Release – Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

Advanced Detection and Removal:

Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

Light on System Resources and won’t slow down your computer like many other anti-spyware products. Won’t conflict with your existing anti-spyware or anti-virus solution!

Repair broken Internet Connections, Desktops, Registry Editing and more with our unique Repair System!

Real-Time Protection:

Real-Time Blocking of threats! Prevent potentially harmful software from installing or re-installing!

First Chance Prevention examines over 50 critical points of your system each time your system starts up and shuts down to eliminate threats before they have a chance to infect and infiltrate your system.

Schedule either Quick, Complete or Custom Scans Daily or Weekly to ensure your computer is free from harmful software. Remove spyware automatically.

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FotoSketcher – FotoSketcher is a 100% free program which can help you convert your digital photos into art, automatically. If you want to turn a portrait, the photograph of your house or a beautiful landscape into a painting, a sketch or a drawing then look no further, FotoSketcher will do the job in just a few seconds.

Thanks to FotoSketcher you can create stunning images to make original gifts for your friends or relatives. Create birthday cards, season’s greetings stationary or simply print your work of art and hang it on the wall.

Different styles are available: pencil sketch, pen and ink drawing, various painting renderings. You can also improve your original photo with simple tools (enhance contrast, sharpen, simplify image, increase luminosity, color saturation etc…).

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control – William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance.

On 5 July he spoke at a conference in London organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and revealed the extent of the surveillance programs unleashed by the Bush and Obama administrations.

“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”

The NSA will soon be able to collect 966 exabytes a year, the total of internet traffic annually. Former Google head Eric Schmidt once argued that the entire amount of knowledge from the beginning of humankind until 2003 amount to only five exabytes.

Binney, who featured in a 2012 short film by Oscar-nominated US film-maker Laura Poitras, described a future where surveillance is ubiquitous and government intrusion unlimited.

“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control”, Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”

He praised the revelations and bravery of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and told me that he had indirect contact with a number of other NSA employees who felt disgusted with the agency’s work. They’re keen to speak out but fear retribution and exile, not unlike Snowden himself, who is likely to remain there for some time.

Unlike Snowden, Binney didn’t take any documents with him when he left the NSA. He now says that hard evidence of illegal spying would have been invaluable. The latest Snowden leaks, featured in the Washington Post, detail private conversations of average Americans with no connection to extremism.

U.N. Says Governments Are Increasingly Relying On Private Sector For Surveillance – People deserve a right to privacy in the digital age — that’s what a new report released today by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says.

The report asked governments around the world to take a look at their surveillance practices to match international rights standards after noting a “disturbing” lack of governmental transparency with surveillance policies and practices.

With governments increasingly relying on private companies to aid them with mass surveillance, the report highlights the growing power of these private companies and the need to create a system of accountability to groups that fail to curb mass surveillance and data collection.

“Even non-State groups are now reportedly developing sophisticated digital surveillance capabilities. Mass surveillance technologies are now entering the global market, raising the risk that digital surveillance will escape governmental controls,” according to the report.

Data collection is still considered an interference with privacy as well, even if the collector states it is not being used for surveillance.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks last year about U.S. and British mass surveillance are an example of when technology is misused. The report highlighted that these technologies were deployed through a transnational network made of “strategic intelligence relationships between governments and regulatory control of private companies and commercial contracts.”

The U.N. office says there is “strong evidence” of this reliance by governments to use the private sector to conduct and facilitate digital surveillance, through formal legal mechanisms and covert methods.

Dutch government promises it won’t take sneaky peeks at your Facebook messages in future – The Dutch government is proposing a change to the country’s laws that will place electronic communication under constitutional protection.

According to a proposed amendment to article 13 of the Dutch Constitution submitted to the Dutch Parliament this week, the law governing the confidentiality of letters, phone communications, and telegraphs, will be replaced by a more modern law, applying that confidentiality to both letters and all telecommunications.

The amendment effectively means that emails, conversations over VoIP, and shielded online messages (password-protected messaging services such as Facebook chat or WhatsApp) will also be considered confidential by the constitution.

The proposal — submitted to Parliament by prime minister Mark Rutte, home affairs minister Ronald Plasterkof, and security and justice minister Ivo Opstelten — also highlights that the term ‘telegraph’ is painfully obsolete.

Instead, the proposed amendment deliberately refrains from defining the specific technologies it applies to, in order to make the legislation futureproof. The generic wording will allow any new communication methods created in future to be protected by the constitution as well.

Edward Snowden condemns Britain’s emergency surveillance bill – The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has condemned the new surveillance bill being pushed through the UK’s parliament this week, expressing concern about the speed at which it is being done, lack of public debate, fear-mongering and what he described as increased powers of intrusion.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian in Moscow, Snowden said it was very unusual for a public body to pass an emergency law such as this in circumstances other than a time of total war. “I mean we don’t have bombs falling. We don’t have U-boats in the harbour.”

Suddenly it is a priority, he said, after the government had ignored it for an entire year. “It defies belief.”

He found the urgency with which the British government was moving extraordinary and said it mirrored a similar move in the US in 2007 when the Bush administration was forced to introduce legislation, the Protect America Act, citing the same concerns about terrorist threats and the NSA losing cooperation from telecom and internet companies.

“I mean the NSA could have written this draft,” he said. “They passed it under the same sort of emergency justification. They said we would be at risk. They said companies will no longer cooperate with us. We’re losing valuable intelligence that puts the nation at risk.”

His comments chime with British civil liberties groups who, having had time to read the small print, are growing increasingly sceptical about government claims last week that the bill is a stop-gap that will not increase the powers of the surveillance agencies.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 16, 2014

Electronic Frontier Foundation: 7 Things You Should Know About Tor;  Google “Project Zero” hopes to find zero-day vulnerabilities before the NSA;  21 Apps for the Tech-Savvy Teacher;  How to create an anonymous email account;  10 Free Android Apps Everyone Should Download;  How to use public PCs safely with Linux;  Bring back the classic Gmail experience with Old Compose;  UK Emergency Surveillance Law Criticized For Being Overly Broad, Vague And Draconian;  7 essential apps for international road warriors;  How to get started with OneNote for Windows;  Want to avoid America’s scariest state? Don’t live here;  The state of electric cars: 10 things you should know;  8 of the Weirdest Ways People Are Using Drones.

Electronic Frontier Foundation: 7 Things You Should Know About Tor – We posted last week about the Tor Challenge and why everyone should use Tor. Since we started our Tor Challenge two weeks ago we have signed up over 1000 new Tor relays. But it appears that there are still some popular misconceptions about Tor. We would like to take this opportunity to dispel some of these common myths and misconceptions.

21 Apps for the Tech-Savvy Teacher – Of course there are many obvious apps and services that teachers can and should embrace: Google Drive for document collaboration, Keynote or similar apps for creating presentations, and especially Evernote for storing absolutely everything your students submit in its searchable online database. And using a service like IFTTT means finding new ways to combine all those tools for an even better classroom experience. But this collection includes mobile apps that specifically target teachers and school leaders, from grading and taking attendance to simplifying presentations or perfecting their use of the whiteboard.

How to create an anonymous email account – It’s not just dissidents looking for anonymous email, but everyday people who’d rather not reveal their true identity. This tutorial is not meant for someone in an oppressive country looking to hide themselves from government interlopers. This is aimed at people who want anonymity, but the stakes if they’re found out aren’t at risk of death or imprisonment. Also keep in mind that no system is foolproof. But for most people, the instructions below should be good enough.

10 Free Android Apps Everyone Should Download – Every time I get a new Android smartphone or tablet, I install certain apps right away, before I even really start to play with the device — apps I use every week, if not every day, on the Android gadgets I test as well as the ones I own. For your benefit, I’ve narrowed down the list to 10 free Android apps I can’t live without.

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7 essential apps for international road warriors – Grab your passport and take to the skies! These handy apps will make sure you can stay organized and get your work done from anywhere, even without a network connection.

How to use public PCs safely with Linux – Summary: Public PCs aren’t safe, so what’s a PC user to do? Carry a Linux distribution on a USB stick in their backpocket of course!

How to get started with OneNote for Windows – Microsoft’s OneNote has its fans, but when it comes to note managers, Evernote tends to get all the love. That may start to change now that OneNote has arrived for Mac and is now free for both Mac and Windows, at least in its basic form. At the very least, it may encourage folks to try the product. If you’re new to OneNote and not sure where to start, start here.

Bring back the classic Gmail experience with Old Compose – This superb extension ditches the contentious floating windows of today’s Gmail and brings back the Gmail experience you’ve used for years.

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2014′s top Linux desktops – After years of talk about the Linux desktop becoming important, it finally is. But thanks to Chromebooks and Android PCs, it’s not the Linux desktop we expected.

The first app every Android Wear owner needs – Most Wear apps provide additional watch-specific functions — anything from fitness tracking to smart home control — but one program actually fills a big gap in the operating system itself. It’s called Wear Mini Launcher, and if you have or are thinking about getting a Wear device, you’ll definitely want to take note of it.

Google Offers A Free Crash Course In Android Development – Google has teamed up with Udacity to make available a free course in Android development available to all – complete with videos, quizzes, course materials and forums. The course is called “Developing Android Apps: Android Fundamentals,” and it provides everything you need to learn how to make an Android app step-by-step; provided, that is, you already have a basic understanding of programming in general.

Intel to ship Galileo Gen2 open-source computer in August for $60 – Intel’s answer to the popular $25 Raspberry Pi credit-card sized PC, the Galileo Gen2, is set to be available in August for around $60. Like the Pi, the Galileo Gen2 computer is an uncased board with all the components necessary to build a PC. Only external peripherals need to be attached. Galileo is targeted at the community of do-it-yourselfers and enthusiasts who make robots, small electronics, wearable devices and even PCs.

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Senators Push For Broadband Reclassification That Would Protect Net Neutrality – Thirteen senators called on Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers in order to protect net neutrality. The lawmakers, led by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., submitted a letter directing the FCC to classify the providers under Title II of the Communications Act, the same law used to regulate telecommunications services.

Six tips to building a huge social network – Here are six ways to help you stand out in the increasingly busy social media crowd and build a massive following for yourself by leveraging the latest apps, best practices, and Intel-powered mobile devices.

3 Years Later, Google+ Drops Its Dumb Real Name Rule And Apologizes – Since Google+ launched, many have complained about the service’s requirement that users use their real names. Complaints grew ever louder once Google started pushing users to use Google+ for YouTube comments. 3 years later, Google is giving up on this battle. You can now use just about any name you please.

The state of electric cars: 10 things you should know – Electric vehicles are quickly gaining ground, but where does the industry stand, and what’s the infrastructure surrounding the industry like? Here are 10 things to know.

Security:

Google “Project Zero” hopes to find zero-day vulnerabilities before the NSA – “You should be able to use the Web without fear that a criminal or state-sponsored actor is exploiting software bugs to infect your computer, steal secrets, or monitor your communications,” writes Google security researcher Chris Evans. To help make that a reality, Google has put together a new team of researchers whose sole purpose is to find security flaws in software—any software—that’s used on the Internet.

How to burn a password into your brain – It turns out that it can actually be surprisingly easy to train people to memorize a 56-bit password or passphrase, two Microsoft researchers found.

CNET user database stolen by Russian hacking group, auctioned for $600 – CNET has said that a database from its website, which included the usernames, emails, and encrypted passwords of over 1 million users, has been stolen by a Russian hacker group known as ‘w0rm’.

Arrests made after keyloggers found on public PCs at US hotels – Proof of the lack of hygiene in publicly accessible PCs came up yet again when the US Secret Service last week warned that cybercrooks are installing keyloggers on the PCs in hotel business centers to steal personal and business information from travelers.

Company News:

Report: Microsoft to undergo biggest layoff round in company’s history – According to a Bloomberg report, Microsoft is preparing to undergo a significant staff reduction, potentially shedding as much as five percent of its employees around the world. Citing “people with knowledge of the company’s plans,” Bloomberg elaborates that the cuts—which could exceed 5,800 people—will be made public potentially some time this week and will focus on areas of the company that were acquired from Nokia, as well as some marketing and engineering groups. The report specifically notes that some of the cuts “will be in marketing departments for businesses such as the global Xbox team.”

Google, Novartis Team for Smart Contact Lenses – If you thought Google Glass was crazy, this might just blow your mind. How about a wearable device that actually goes in your eye? The lenses, developed by the semi-secret Google X team, contain a “tiny wireless chip” and sensors that measure the glucose level in tears to calculate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Under the agreement, Google and Novartis’s eye-care division Alcon will collaborate to create smart lenses for those with diabetes and the eye condition presbyopia.

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Intel Rises 4% After Reporting Q2 Results, Including Better-Than-Expected Revenue Of $13.8B – Intel’s second quarter results came in above expectations, with the chip company reporting revenue of $13.8 billion, and earnings per share of $0.55. The street had expected Intel to earn $.52 on revenue of $13.69 billion. Intel had previously raised its revenue expectations to $13.7 billion, with a margin of error of up to $300 million. It met that mark.

Microsoft plans price war to stymie Chromebook growth – Microsoft’s COO yesterday promised that his company and its army of OEMs would compete on price with Google’s Chromebooks, a milestone in Microsoft’s battle against the small but encroaching enemy. At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) Monday, Chief Operations Officer Kevin Turner, the executive who drives sales, both internally and through the firm’s vast partner network, pledged that Microsoft would “redefine the value category” with notebooks as inexpensive as $199.

Apple, IBM Partner to Boost Business Adoption of iOS – Apple has teamed up with IBM to bring IBM’s enterprise software to Apple’s lineup of iOS devices. As part of the exclusive IBM MobileFirst for iOS deal, IBM will sell iPhones and iPads loaded with software for its business clients.

Bank of America illegally copied $300M in software, alleges Tibco lawsuit – Bank of America illegally copied $300 million worth of Tibco’s enterprise software for use in a massive IT project at its Merrill Lynch subsidiary, Tibco alleges in a lawsuit. The bank stockpiled large quantities of Tibco software while it was still within the terms of a license agreement that expired in February 2013, then used the software for the project when it was out of license, according to the suit. (Imagine that – a bank twisting and bending rules, regulations, and contract agreements, in order to enhance unconscionable profits at the expense of others. Tell me it ain’t so.)

Games and Entertainment:

EA Sports reveals Lionel Messi for ‘FIFA 15′ cover – Lionel Messi has been announced for the cover of EA Sports’ upcoming title FIFA 15. This will make Messi’s fourth appearance for the franchise, that will see a release towards the end of September.

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Hands On: LeapFrog Launches LeapTV Gaming Console – There’s a new gaming console in town, and it’s coming from a surprising source. Educational toy manufacturer LeapFrog today unveiled the newest addition to its lineup, the LeapTV active gaming system. Much like the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One, the LeapTV is a gaming console system meant to be used with your TV, but it’s aimed specifically for children ages 3 to 8 years old and puts an emphasis on education gaming.

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How the makers of Second Life are using VR to build the next generation of virtual worlds – We’re not really here to talk about the future too much, but I’m going to tell you that our biggest investment by far will be a next-generation virtual world. Something in the spirit of Second Life.” I’m sitting at Linden Lab ready to see Second Life running on an Oculus Rift and suddenly I’m being thrown into something totally different by company CEO Ebbe Altberg—something far crazier.

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Restoration is mind-bending Aussie sci-fi from the creator of Payload – In recent years, there has been a handful of Australian sci-fi projects that have really caught our attention; not the least of which is Payload by Melbourne-based Stu Willis, a desperate tale of survival in a hostile dystopian future, and the longing to escape to something better. Nearly two years on, Willis has announced his next foray into the realm of science fiction: a three-part online series called Restoration, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

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Watch Sony’s ‘Everything You Need to Know About the Destiny Beta’ Video – Make that less than two days, technically speaking: The beta unlocks at 10:00 a.m. PT this Thursday, July 17. The codes to download the beta for the timed-exclusive PlayStation version — both PS4 and PS3 — are due at some point earlier on Thursday as well.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

NSA recruits college students for cyber-operations program – The National Security Agency is looking to grow its ranks with highly-trained college students. The government agency announced Tuesday that it has chosen five new schools to host its specialized Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program. Those handpicked schools include New York University, Towson University, United States Military Academy, University of Cincinnati, and University of New Orleans. In all, the NSA cyber-operations program has a total of 13 schools.

Fed chief Yellen warns social-media stock prices are too high – In a report to Congress, the Federal Reserve Board chairwoman cautions that equity valuations for companies like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are “substantially stretched.”

What’s behind your blood type? – When my parents informed me that my blood type was A+, I felt a strange sense of pride. If A+ was a top grade in school, then surely A+ must also be the most excellent of blood types—a biological mark of distinction. It didn’t take long for me recognize just how silly that feeling was, but I didn’t learn much more about what it really meant to have A+. And yet there remained some nagging questions. Why do 40 percent of Caucasians have Type A, while only 27 percent of Asians do? Where do different blood types come from, and what do they do?

American Bar Association urges against file sharing lawsuits – The American Bar Association is urging its 400,000-lawyer membership to show some restraint when it comes to lodging online file sharing lawsuits. “Finally, while it is technically possible for trademark and copyright owners to proceed with civil litigation against the consuming public who affirmatively seek out counterfeited products or pirated content or engage in illegal file sharing, campaigns like this have been expensive, do not yield significant financial returns, and can cause a public relations problem for the plaintiff in addressing its consuming public,” the association recommended.

‘Overwhelmed’ FCC extends Net neutrality comment period – A surge of traffic is crashing the agency’s electronic filing system, so it’s bumping the feedback deadline on the controversial proposal from Tuesday to Friday.

Want to avoid America’s scariest state? Don’t live here – Real estate search site Estately.com has arranged our great states from most to least scary based on things like bears, dentists, and yes, clowns.

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8 of the Weirdest Ways People Are Using Drones – A New York private eye told the New York Post that drones are essentially being used in the one way everyone thought they would: to spy on people. While this use of the unmanned aircraft sounds… just about right… there are many surprising ways that drones have become incorporated into everyday life. Here are some of our favorites.

Something to think about:

“Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to form of mental agoraphobia and that brings its own terrors. I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters, they are often more afraid. What is more, those who choose not to empathize enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude through our own apathy.”

-     J. K. Rowling

Today’s Free Downloads:

VideoCacheView - After watching a video in a Web site, you may want to save the video file into your local disk for playing it offline in the future. If the video file is stored in your browser’s cache, this utility can help you to extract the video file from the cache and save it for watching it in the future.

It automatically scans the entire cache of Internet Explorer and Mozilla-based Web browsers (Including Firefox) and finds all video files that are currently stored in it. It allows you to easily copy the cached video files into another folder for playing/watching them in the future. If you have a movie player that is configured to play flv files, it also allows you to play the video directly from your browser’s cache.

Using VideoCacheView:

VideoCacheView doesn’t require any installation process or additional DLL files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file (VideoCacheView.exe)

After running VideoCacheView, it scan the cache folders of your Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers, as well as the temporary folder of Windows. Wait 5 – 30 seconds until the scanning process is finished, and the main window of VideoCacheView should display all the video files that are currently in cache.

After the video list is displayed, you can use one of the following options, assuming that the video files are stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = Yes):

Play Selected File: Allows you to play the video file directly from the cache, assuming that you have a video player that is configured to play .flv files.

Copy Selected Files To: Allows to copy the video files from the cache into another folder, so you will be able to play them in the future.

If you have a video file that is not stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = No), you can use the ‘Open Download URL In Browser’ option (F8) in order to download the video file. You can also use the ‘Copy Download URLs’ option (Ctrl+U) to copy the download URLs to the clipboard, and then use then in your browser or in other download software.

Be aware that some Web sites may not allow you to download a video file in this way.

Flash Video Files In Temporary Folder: Each time that a Web browser plays a Flash video file, the .flv file is saved into the temporary folder of Windows. Normally, you cannot copy this temporary file to another folder, because the flash player locks the file exclusively. Also the file is automatically deleted when you close the Web browser.

Starting from version 1.10, VideoCacheView displays the flash files in the temporary folder, and allows you to copy them into another folder. VideoCacheView can handle temporary flash files created by Internet Explorer, Mozilla/Firefox, Opera Web browser. Be aware that you must wait until the browser finish to download them. otherwise, the copied files will be corrupted.

Playing Video Files Directly From The Cache: Most Web sites today use Flash video files (.flv extension) for playing video inside the Web page. VideoCacheView doesn’t provide a build-in video player, but if you already have a video player that is configured to play .flv files, VideoCacheView will be able to use it for playing the video files directly from the Web browser’s cache.

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Tweaking.com – Windows Repair – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including registry errors and file permissions. Portable version also available.

Malware and installed programs can modify your default settings. With Tweaking.com – Windows Repair you can restore many of your Windows settings to their original state.

Also, this program also has the MalwareBytes Anti-Malware scanning engine built in to help rid your machine of infection before attempting repairs.

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair can do the following:

Reset Registry Permissions

Reset File Permissions

Register System Files

Repair WMI

Repair Windows Firewall

Repair Internet Explorer

Repair MDAC & MS Jet

Repair Hosts File

Remove Policies Set By Infections

Repair Icons

Repair Winsock & DNS Cache

Remove Temp Files

Repair Proxy Settings

Unhide Non System Files

Repair Windows Updates

and more…

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK Emergency Surveillance Law Criticized For Being Overly Broad, Vague And Draconian – Late last week it emerged that the UK government intended to railroad emergency surveillance legislation through Parliament just before the summer recess — meaning members of parliament would not be able to properly scrutinise the law.

The new Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill (aka DRIP) is being ‘debated‘ in the House of Commons today — but a few days’ debate is a far cry from the lengthy scrutiny process usually afforded when the government tries to pass new legislation. Cue cries of ‘surveillance state stitch up’.

The government claims emergency legislation is necessary because a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling struck down European data retention powers back in April.

But that claim looks tenuous, to say the least, given the ECJ ruling took place three months ago — three months when the government could have been publicly debating what its response should be and drafting and debating new legislation.

Instead it’s done a deal with opposition MPs behind closed doors so that an ‘emergency’ bill will be passed without serious opposition — and without proper scrutiny. Bottom line: this is democracy at its most undemocratic.

Reddit, Privacy Groups Call On Obama To Reject Cybersecurity Bill – A coalition of 30 companies and privacy groups, including Reddit and search engine DuckDuckGo, on Tuesday demanded that President Barack Obama promise to reject a controversial cybersecurity bill. The bill has come under fire for its loose limits on sharing information about cyber threats without properly filtering personal information from it among government agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA).

The controversial bill, the Cybersecurity Information Act (CISA), was marked up and passed in a closed Senate Intelligence Committee session on July 8, and it is expected to see a full Senate vote some time this year. The bill would encourage companies to share information about cyber threats with each other and with the federal government, but the letter from the coalition to the president said the bill failed to “provide a comprehensive solution” to cyber threats because it, among other complaints, only addresses information sharing.

The bill sets few limits on how the government implements and shares the data once it receives it. If CISA becomes law, the data could be used for prosecution of a wide range of crimes not directly related to cybersecurity, including violations of the Espionage Act. In the letter, the privacy groups and tech companies stressed that the government could abuse this information to go after whistleblowers and journalists.

The letters lays out a detailed list of reforms that a more “comprehensive” bill would include, such as an incentive process to encourage companies to remove vulnerabilities more quickly. The coalition raises questions about the current transparency requirements for the government, calling the exemption the bill gives for information from Freedom of Information Act requests too broad. The letter also says the NSA or any military agency should not be allowed to have a central role in civilian cybersecurity practices.

Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet – The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call.

The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.

But as the U.K. Parliament today debates a fast-tracked bill to provide the government with greater surveillance powers, one which Prime Minister David Cameron has justified as an “emergency” to “help keep us safe,” a newly released top-secret GCHQ document called “JTRIG Tools and Techniques” provides a comprehensive, birds-eye view of just how underhanded and invasive this unit’s operations are. The document—available in full here—is designed to notify other GCHQ units of JTRIG’s “weaponised capability” when it comes to the dark internet arts, and serves as a sort of hacker’s buffet for wreaking online havoc.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 15, 2014

Take control of your smartphone;  Obama administration says the world’s servers are ours;  17 Skype Tips to Help You Master Web Calling, Video Chat;  MakerBot 3D printers coming to Home Depot;  Flaw in Google’s Dropcam sees it turned into SPYCAM;  Add New Voice Commands to Google Now for Android;  A Beginner’s Guide to the Linux Command Line, Part 2;  Microsoft hits back against government surveillance, highlights commitment to privacy;  How to sign up for Microsoft’s restored security alert email service;  How to find anything in Evernote: 6 advanced search tips;  Seven hiking apps for hitting the trails;  World Cup final sets records on Facebook, Twitter;  Five DIY mobile app platforms for developers on a tight budget;  ‘Yo’ App Retooled to Alert Israelis of Missile Attacks;  Beware of infected hotel PCs stealing guests’ passwords.

Snowden emails withheld due to US govt concerns about ‘invasion of personal privacy’ – The public disclosure of emails by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, could be an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”, according to a letter from the US Department of State responding to a FOIA request by online publication, The Desk.

(More than a few elected representatives of the U.S. government have publically called for Snowden’s assassination (murder, by any other name) – and yet, the US Department of State is worried about his privacy? The U.S. Government slips a little further into the rabbit hole.)

Take control of your smartphone – There are certain limitations of your smartphone that most of use accept. But what if I told you you didn’t necessarily have to accept your smartphone as it is? And with a few simple tips and tricks, your phone could break free of its artificial constraints.

Commandr Can Add New Voice Commands to Google Now for Android – Google has reworked its Android voice controls dramatically in the last few years, but there are still a number of useful commands missing. There are ways to hack those commands in, but none of them are particularly clean or convenient to use. Commandr changes that–it intercepts voice commands and implements the extra ones without getting in the way too much.

17 Skype Tips to Help You Master Web Calling, Video Chat – Making a call can be as easy as a double-click on a name in your contacts list, but Skype can do much, much more than that. And that’s where these tips can help. Whether you’re talking Skype-to-phone, video chatting, texting, looking for Wi-Fi, having meetings, or need a record of all your calls, Skype can handle it. But you may need some help, and these tips will guide you through.

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‘Yo’ App Retooled to Alert Israelis of Missile Attacks – The “Yo” app was developed as a joke. Download the app, tap on a friend’s name, and they’d get a message from you saying “Yo.” It’s that simple. In fact, the app was created in eight hours and released on April Fools’ day just so people would know it was a gag. But Yo has a new application that’s no laughing matter. Developers in the Middle East are using the app to warn Israelis of possible attacks from rocket fire; users following the handle “RedAlertIsrael” will get a “Yo” at the same time the country’s sirens go off.

Seven hiking apps for hitting the trails – It’s official: Summer has arrived, and with it, longer days with warmer weather. It’s the perfect time to strap on some supportive sneakers and hit the trails. Whether your idea of a great hike is a ten-mile trek through the wilderness, a leisurely stroll through the woods, or a power walk in the urban jungle, apps abound to help you make the most out of the experience. Here are seven that will help you with everything from planning your adventure to logging your journey.

How to find anything in Evernote: 6 advanced search tips – So what are you supposed to do when it comes time to find one of your notes? Manually browsing through them is akin to rifling through a file drawer. Instead, hone in on what you’re looking for using Evernote’s advanced search operators. These modifiers let you find notes based on where or when they were created, which notebook they’re filed in, or even what type of media they contain. Here are the most useful operators for narrowing your searches.

Internet giants press for net neutrality in FCC filing – An association of more than two dozen technology companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Netflix urged the Federal Communications Commission on Monday to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules for wired and mobile networks. The companies want to secure an open Internet for the future, they said in a comment filed by The Internet Association with the FCC. They want to prevent the segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes as that will distort the market, discourage innovation and harm Internet users, they said.

World Cup final sets records on Facebook, Twitter – Germany vs. Argentina proves to be the biggest sporting event in Facebook’s history, while Twitter says the game generated the most tweets per minute.

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MakerBot 3D printers coming to Home Depot – MakerBot and Home Depot are partnering to introduce 3D printing to the masses. The MakerBot will initially see its way into 12 stores located in California, Illinois, and New York.

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A Beginner’s Guide to the Linux Command Line, Part II – In this follow up article to our basic Linux command line series we go a bit deeper to discuss file metadata, permissions, timestamps, some new tools like tee, Vim, and more.

These two cases make your iPhone the ultimate toolbox – Your iPhone can do a lot, but it has limitations. What if it could be a phone and a leatherman tool, though? Tasklab has made that possible, bringing a bevy of tools to your favorite device.

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Dell’s Chromebook is so popular, it stopped selling them – Chromebooks are popular — and if you doubt that, just ask Dell. The computer manufacturer has halted sales of their 11-inch Chromebook, all because demand was too high. Still available for educational purposes, the average consumer is out of luck for a while.

Windows is rising to the Chromebook price war – HP is readying a $199 Windows notebook for the holidays, as Microsoft pushes Windows 8.1 against Google Chromebooks, one of a number of more affordable PC options. The HP Stream laptop, confirmed during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, will be one of at least three models, though versions from Acer and Toshiba will be slightly more expensive, at $249 apiece.

Wiper Launches Its Secure Messaging App With $2.5 Million In Seed Funding – Today’s paranoid novelists (and the web surfing public) have to keep up with real-life concerns over the National Security Agency, Google’s panopticon, Facebook’s social experimentation, and everything that every telecom provider knows and wants to know about you. Enter anonymous messaging and social networks that don’t collect information about you, or even store any of the things you send through their services.

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Raspberry Pi Microcomputer Gets Beefed Up — Still Only Costs $35 – Specifically the new Pi has more USB ports (four instead of two), which also have improved hotplug and overcurrent performance; more GPIO (general purpose input/output pins) — 40 pins up from 26, but keeping the same pinout for the first 26 pins so existing projects will still work — to accommodate more peripheral components (such as LEDs); a Micro SD card slot replacing the prior SD card socket and taking up less space on the board; lower power consumption; improved audio performance; and a neater form factor with USB ports aligned at the edge of the board, composite video moved onto the 3.5mm jack, and four mounting holes positioned to make it easier to fix the Pi in place.

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No Raspberry Pi 2 until 2017, software is the focus for now – The Model B+ is a great upgrade because it adds more USB ports, a larger GPIO, replaces the SD card with Micro SD, and has much better mounting holes and lower power consumption. But the processor and RAM haven’t changed. It’s the same tiny PC tweaked into its final form. So when are we going to see a Raspberry Pi version two? According to Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton, we’ll be waiting until 2017 for that to happen.

Over 12 million Nokia Lumia 520s have been sold so far – Microsoft announced today that the Nokia Lumia 520 – which has been sold for as little as $39.99 – is the best-selling handset in its price range, with sales of over 12 million units worldwide so far.

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High-Tech Cooler Tops $4M on Kickstarter – So what makes it the coolest cooler around? It features a built-in blender, removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, and USB charger so you’re all hooked up at your next tailgate, backyard barbeque, or camping adventure. Want some piña coladas? No problem. Need to charge your phone? Plug it right in. Coolest Cooler USBLaunched on Kickstarter last week, the Coolest Cooler has already raked in more than $4.1 million from 21,000 backers – well over the original $50,000 goal. And the fundraising campaign still has 46 days to go.

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Speed up or slow down your slideshows – Showing photos to friends? If the pictures move too slowly, you bore your audience. If they move to fast, you annoy them. Here’s how to set the speed in several common programs.

Five DIY mobile app platforms for developers on a tight budget – These do-it-yourself platforms allow developers or designers to create mobile apps at a fraction of the cost a third-party would charge. See which one is right for your shop.

Security:

“Severe” password manager attacks steal digital keys and data en masse – A research paper scheduled to be presented at a security conference next month underscores the hidden dangers of selecting the wrong products. The researchers examined LastPass and four other Web-based managers and found critical defects in all of them. The worst of the bugs allowed an attacker to remotely siphon plaintext passcodes out of users’ wallets with no outward sign that anything was amiss. LastPass and three of the four other developers have since fixed the flaws, but the findings should serve as a wakeup call. If academic researchers from the University of California at Berkeley can devise these sorts of crippling attacks, so too can crooks who regularly case people’s online bank accounts and other digital assets.

(An “I told you so moment” – regular readers will recall that I have maintained for years that password managers are a fools errand – Should You Forget About Password Safes and Write Down Your Passwords? – Just one more piece of evidence.)

Flaw in Google’s Dropcam sees it turned into SPYCAM – Hackers could inject fake video into popular home surveillance kit Dropcam and use the system to attack networks, researchers Patrick Wardle and Colby Moore say. The wide-ranging attacks were tempered by the need for attackers to have physical access to the devices but the exploits offer the chance to inject video frames into cameras – handy for home robberies – intercept video, and exploit the Heartbleed vulnerability to pull passwords and SSL server’s private key. Wardle said the cameras should be subject to the same security checks as regular computers given their capabilities and vulnerabilities. Dropcam was found to be running Heartbleed-vulnerable versions of OpenSSL and the Unix utility suite BusyBox.

How to sign up for Microsoft’s restored security alert email service – Security professionals, IT administrators and other interested customers can sign up for the mailing list from this page. All that’s needed is a Microsoft account, the username and password combination associated with the company’s services, such as Outlook.com, OneDrive and Office 365.

Beware of infected hotel PCs stealing guests’ passwords, feds warn – The US Secret Service is warning hotel operators to be on the lookout for malware that steals passwords and other sensitive data from guests using PCs in business centers, according to a published report.

Here’s the only safe way to use public PCs – Business center PCs can be dangerous. The only safe way to use such devices is not to use the installed OS.

Fake Google Messenger Reads Your Texts, Records Your Calls – Malwarebytes says that this malicious app is called “Google Korean IM.” During installation, it requests Device Administrator access. Some Android users might not recognize this as problematic, but granting that level of access gives the app far-ranging powers over your phone. Device Admin apps can, for example, lock your phone or completely wipe it. Usually, we only see security apps or certain Google apps requesting this level of access. But because this malware is after information, it uses its Device Admin powers to watch and listen. According to Malwarebytes, the app monitors incoming calls and can even record those phone calls, presumably sending the recordings off to a server somewhere. The app also pays special attention to SMS messages, which the malware sends to a remote server. It can even capture victims’ contact lists.

The game isn’t over yet for Gameover malware – Researchers at Sophos have discovered new variants of Gameover malware—a botnet operation that was shut down by law enforcement just over a month ago.

OAIC finds a garden shed is not a secure place for medical records – The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has ruled that storing medical records in a garden shed is a failure to secure sensitive records.

Advanced Evasion Techniques wreaking havoc on network security – In the never-ending war against security breaches, attackers gaining the upper hand by unleashing zero day attacks, advanced persistent threats (APTs) and other rapidly evolving threats.

Company News:

Microsoft: 785 organizations have come back after trying out Google – Microsoft loves to tout its success, and at WPC, the company mentioned a particularly big win by highlighting 785 corporate customers who had enough of Google and came back to Windows.

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LinkedIn buys Newsle to become the Google Alert for your professional life – LinkedIn wants to be more than just a professional networking site you only check when you need to update your job title or confirm a request to connect. That’s why the company keeps adding new features, like integrating Pulse’s newsreader last year and launching its Influencer blog series. On Monday, LinkedIn bought Newsle to become the Google Alert for your professional life.

Yahoo’s Mayer not ready to scoop up AOL, says report – Matchmakers have speculated about the possibility of a merger between Yahoo and AOL for the last couple of years. The rumor mill recycled the story recently after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong — both former Google executives — were spotted having late-night drinks at a media and technology conference last week. But such a tie-up is complicated. While both companies see potential benefits, Mayer has her doubts, according to a report published Monday by Recode.

Apple brings trade-in program to Australia – Australian customers of Apple are now able to trade-in their old devices for in-store credit.

Games and Entertainment:

Take dragons on your next road trip with Microsoft’s new Dragons Adventure game – Based on DreamWorks’s How to Train Your Dragon movies, the game also incorporates real-world data like weather and points of interest to create adventures that last exactly as long as your kids are in the car.

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Those buildings and roads your dragon flies over are based on real maps and points of interest pulled in by the game.

GTA V PC release date listed as November 14 – E-tailer Coolshop has listed GTA V on PC with an expected release date of November 14 along with the option to pre-purchase the game. That date fits within the Fall release window and is 6 weeks before Christmas, giving it plenty of time to sell in the most important sales period of the year for video games.

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Timberman Is The New Flappy Bird – Gamers looking for a new way to spend time waiting in line or on a commute should go check out Timberman, the latest indie game to take the App Store by storm. According to App Annie data, the game has made its way to the top five apps overall in more than 20 countries and is the most-downloaded game in eight countries as of yesterday. Timberman’s gameplay nails the recipe for addictiveness in a smartphone game. It’s easy to get into — all you’re doing is cutting down a tree by tapping on one side or the other, trying to avoid the descending branches as you progress.

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The coolest comic you’ve seen yet is currently on Kickstarter – Modern Polaxis is a comic book and an app. We know, a touch confusing, but the balance imagined with the project is brilliant. A drawn comic gives a foundation for the app, which comic book fans can use to scroll over the page using the camera, finding new detail and animation. Rather than mull around in your own mind what the author was getting at with an illustration, you might end up getting a richer experience.

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Answered: 10 Questions About the First Destiny Beta – Bungie’s preliminary Destiny beta soirée kicks off this Thursday, transforming the end of July into more than just a showcase for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us PlayStation 4 remaster. To help everyone get ready, especially if you’re just tuning in, I’ve cobbled together the essentials from various Bungie news posts, FAQs and press releases, including a late-breaking (though unverified) tidbit that outlines what might be in the beta, content-wise.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The future of computing is a battle for your personal information – The organisations that are looking to invent, and dominate the next era of computing are, at their heart, based on advertising revenue, and in the process of owning the future, these companies and their device-based competitors will treat the personal information of consumers as a prized commodity.

Nickel and gadgets: A rash connection? – Allergic reactions to nickel in some gadgets have been noticed for a while. Now, a medical journal report suggests a possible link between rashes and exposure to nickel in Apple’s iPads.

Tech Blogger Tries To Cancel Comcast Service, Hilarity Ensues – If there’s one guy in the world who knows whether or not he wants to cancel his Comcast service, it’s Ryan Block. The former head of Engadget, founder of GDGT, and now product dude at AOL, Block probably knows exactly why he wants to cancel his Comcast service and, presumably, he’s not going to tell you or a Comcast service rep who refuses to take “No” for an answer. The call, which already went on for ten minutes by the time Block decided to record it, is an example of a rep sticking to his script and a customer with the patience of Job (and an understanding of Internet virality) putting up with aural torture in order to show the world how crazy Comcast is.

Unofficial hidden surveillance cam catches cop fighting cop – Miami police are probing footage of a fracas between two officers that was captured on a GoPro and eventually made public on YouTube. The recording is among the latest videos to surface involving police shenanigans, and it underscores that it’s not just the populace under today’s surveillance microscope. Local media describe the video as officer Marcel Jackson stopping a Chevrolet for allegedly unsafe driving. The driver turns out to be Lt. David Ramras, an internal affairs veteran. The video shows the internal affairs officer get out of the car before a tussle eventually ensues. Jackson throws Ramras to the ground and backup officers hit the scene. An online message board used by cops claims Jackson has been relieved of his duties. Miami authorities declined immediate comment.

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Rocket scientist adds fins to pans, nearly doubles efficiency – One rocket scientist has turned his attention to cookware, designing a new set of pots and pans that are touted as nearly double the energy efficiency of your ordinary round cookware. What’s different? The addition of fins.

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Oracle sexual harassment victim wins $130k on appeal – The Federal Court of Australia has decided to set aside the AU$18,000 amount it originally ordered technology giant, Oracle, to pay to sexually harassed victim and former employee, Rebecca Richardson. Instead, Judge Kenny today bumped up the damages for Oracle to pay Richardson to AU$130,000.

Something to think about:

“The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures. They’ll know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society. But they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”

-     Edward Snowden

Today’s Free Downloads:

Dexpot – Dexpot turns your monitor into 20 different virtual desktops. Dexpot creates additional workspaces you can quickly switch between them. Take, for example, Desktop 1 to listen to your favourite music, surf the web on Desktop 2, use Desktop 3 to handle your daily word processing or switch to Desktop 4 for a game of Solitaire.

Different icons, wallpapers, start-ups, and much more can be configured for each desktop.

Features:

Has all the features you’d expect from a virtual desktop manager. Looks up to date, tidy and has a lovely design.

Fast set-up. Easy to use.

Can be expanded with plugins. Results in small memory footprint.

Stunning 3D transition effects. Only if you like them. Supports stylish wallpaper clocks (*.wcz).

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Soluto - Frustrated by your sluggish and unresponsive PC? Soluto is bringing an end to PC user frustration with transparency, killer technology, and your help.

Soluto allows you to understand your boot, discover which applications are slowing it down (and keep running later in the background, affecting your ongoing experience), and allows you to significantly improve it. While Soluto focuses on the boot, it already researches for frustrations and helps map the PC Genome, allowing you to share your wisdom with others.

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Checkout my older review of Saluto – Soluto Latest Release – Fixes Crashes And Speeds Up Your Boot Time.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama administration says the world’s servers are ours – Global governments, the tech sector, and scholars are closely following a legal flap in which the US Justice Department claims that Microsoft must hand over e-mail stored in Dublin, Ireland.

In essence, President Barack Obama’s administration claims that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even if the content is stored overseas. It’s a position Microsoft and companies like Apple say is wrong, arguing that the enforcement of US law stops at the border.

A magistrate judge has already sided with the government’s position, ruling in April that “the basic principle that an entity lawfully obligated to produce information must do so regardless of the location of that information.” Microsoft appealed to a federal judge, and the case is set to be heard on July 31.

In its briefs filed last week, the US government said that content stored online doesn’t enjoy the same type of Fourth Amendment protections as data stored in the physical world. The government cited (PDF) the Stored Communications Act (SCA), a President Ronald Reagan-era regulation:

Overseas records must be disclosed domestically when a valid subpoena, order, or warrant compels their production. The disclosure of records under such circumstances has never been considered tantamount to a physical search under Fourth Amendment principles, and Microsoft is mistaken to argue that the SCA provides for an overseas search here. As there is no overseas search or seizure, Microsoft’s reliance on principles of extra-territoriality and comity falls wide of the mark.

Microsoft said the decision has wide-ranging, global implications. “Congress has not authorized the issuance of warrants that reach outside US territory,” Microsoft’s attorneys wrote. “The government cannot seek and a court cannot issue a warrant allowing federal agents to break down the doors of Microsoft’s Dublin facility.”

Microsoft hits back against government surveillance, highlights commitment to privacy – Microsoft has not been shy about combating the accusations made against the company that they are working with government agencies and allowing them to access their data at will. After the Snowden leaks, Microsoft took a hit to its reputation after it was stated that they were helping the NSA crack encryption keys. Microsoft was not alone in being called out by the leaks but for a company building out a billion dollar cloud business, the brand needs to be protected.

In the past, Microsoft has publicly called out the current practices that are used to collect data and they are actively taking a stance to protect client data. This point came up again today as Kevin Turner, near the end of his presentation, hit home the point that Microsoft does not engineer backdoors into its products to allow third parties – including governments and security agencies – to indiscriminately access its users’ data, nor has it ever done so.

Further, he stated that the company has not provided the government encryption keys to its data and that they have never provided business or government data in response to a national security order.

The intentions of these statements were clear at WPC: to reassure its partners that its cloud is secure and no government agency has access to its services. Why is this important? WPC is the company’s largest partner event of the year and Microsoft needs these third parties to keep pushing their services, and by asserting their control over privacy, it alleviates a key concern for these partners.

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GCHQ Catalog of Exploit Tools – The latest Snowden story is a catalog of exploit tools from JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group), a unit of the British GCHQ, for both surveillance and propaganda. It’s a list of code names and short descriptions, such as these:

    GLASSBACK: Technique of getting a targets IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them. Target does not need to answer.

  MINIATURE HERO: Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.

  MOUTH: Tool for collection for downloading a user’s files from Archive.org.

PHOTON TORPEDO: A technique to actively grab the IP address of MSN messenger user.

SILVER SPECTOR: Allows batch Nmap scanning over Tor.

SPRING BISHOP: Find private photographs of targets on Facebook.

ANGRY PIRATE: is a tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer.

BUMPERCAR+: is an automated system developed by JTRIG CITD to support JTRIG BUMPERCAR operations. BUMPERCAR operations are used to disrupt and deny Internet-based terror videos or other materials. The techniques employs the services provided by upload providers to report offensive materials.

BOMB BAY: is the capacity to increase website hits/rankings.

BURLESQUE: is the capacity to send spoofed SMS messages.

CLEAN SWEEP: Masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries.

CONCRETE DONKEY: is the capacity to scatter an audio message to a large number of telephones, or repeatedely bomb a target number with the same message.

  GATEWAY: Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website.

GESTATOR: amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).

SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets.

SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online.

SWAMP DONKEY: is a tool that will silently locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a targets machine

UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO).

WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.

HAVLOCK: Real-time website cloning techniques allowing on-the-fly alterations.

HUSK: Secure one-on-one web based dead-drop messaging platform.

There’s lots more. Go read the rest. This is a big deal, as big as the TAO catalog from December.

ISPs ‘blindsided’ by UK.gov’s ‘emergency’ data retention and investigation powers law – The Tory-led government’s “emergency” data retention and investigation powers (Drip) bill currently being rushed through Parliament has caught ISPs off guard, it has emerged.

The Register understands that telcos were only gently briefed on the plans ahead of last week’s announcement from Prime Minister David Cameron. An industry source said ISPs had been “blindsided” by the move, which came days before politicos break for summer recess.

The bill surprised many by quickly securing cross-party support prior to its publication last Thursday. At the same time, Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg – whose Liberal Democrat Party had opposed Home Secretary Theresa May’s lobby for a Communications Data law, colloquially dubbed a “snooper’s charter” – insisted that the legislative push would not extend the UK’s surveillance powers.

Instead, the PM claimed that holes needed to be plugged as a matter of urgency following a European Court of Justice ruling that ripped up the Data Retention Directive in April this year.

In the name of security, German NSA committee may turn to typewriters – Patrick Sensburg, chairman of the German parliament’s National Security Agency investigative committee, now says he’s considering expanding the use of manual typewriters to carry out his group’s work.

In an appearance (German language) Monday morning on German public television, Sensburg said that the committee is taking its operational security very seriously. “In fact, we already have [a typewriter], and it’s even a non-electronic typewriter,” he said.

If Sensburg’s suggestion takes flight, the country would be taking a page out of the Russian playbook. Last year, the agency in charge of securing communications from the Kremlin announced that it wanted to spend 486,000 rubles (about $14,800) to buy 20 electric typewriters as a way to avoid digital leaks.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 14, 2014

Police drop plans to photograph teen’s erection in sexting case;  Why we need an underground Google;  New app CitizenMe helps you control your online identity;  Speed up your PC’s boot time by finding the worst startup offenders;  Never miss a call on your Android device again with Flash On Call;  Dropbox Adding Speedier ‘Streaming Sync’ Feature;  Viral video: First, strangers kissed; now (surprise) they disrobe;  CrossOver 13.2: Installing Windows program on Linux just got easier; Essential ‘must-have’ apps for small businesses;  Recover deleted files from iPhones, iPads and Android devices;  What would make you quit Facebook? Here’s what you said;  Oracle to release 115 security patches; LastPass Finds Security Holes In Its Online Password Manager;  5 games to keep World Cup fever alive;  Slice 5.0 is a must-have app for online shoppers;  Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction;  Yahoo female executive sued for sexual harassment.

Police drop plans to photograph teen’s erection in sexting case – The decision was made yesterday following a global outcry. In response, the Manassas City police department—which is investigating the case—said Thursday that it would let the search warrant expire. In a statement, the department said, “It is not the policy of the Manassas City Police or the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to authorize invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature and no such procedures have been conducted in this case.” Manassas City Manager Patrick Pate said the town has been bombarded with angry calls from across the US—and the world—about the case.

(IT OBVIOUSLY IS THE POLICY – since these deviant bastards had obtained a warrant and would have enforced it without the show of overwhelming disgust voiced by those of us who understand the importance of speaking out against government insanity. This shouldn’t stop here however – the lunatics behind this should be publically identified (each and every one of them) – and, held up to public ridicule and shaming that they so richly deserve. These “Cops are Tops” alright. Right at the top of the dung heap where they have lots of company!) 

New app CitizenMe helps you control your online identity – An iOS app named CitizenMe will help you understand just what a company might know about you. By scanning your phone for accounts like Google or Twitter (it uses a Facebook log-in, ironically), you get info on what permissions you give the service in question. All the permissions in the privacy policy are laid out in a very simple format, color-coded green, yellow, or red depending on the level of alertness CitizenMe think is required. Red would be something eyebrow-raising, like “we share your pics with other services”.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Speed up your PC’s boot time by finding the worst startup offenders – One of the pains of Windows is how long it takes for an older PC to start up. Sometimes this can be caused by hardware problems like a faulty hard drive, but more often than not the culprits are all those programs trying to activate at boot. As you install more programs on your system, you inevitably end up with more apps that want to insert themselves into your PC’s startup routine. Some of those operations are critical and shouldn’t be turned off such as antivirus, but many are really unnecessary. (Alternatively, download and install WinPatrol (free) and run “Manage Startup Programs” – voila, done!)

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Screenshot from my personal system.

What would make you quit Facebook? Here’s what you said – Last week we asked our readers to take a poll about Facebook’s controversial social experiment on thousands of unknowing users. Lots of you responded – more than 1,000 – and we received a lot of great comments. Here’s what you said …

Essential ‘must-have’ apps for small businesses – Summary: What mobile apps can make running a business easier and less time consuming for SMBs?

Why we need an underground Google – Governments are forcing search engines to show wrong results. It’s time for search engines to go rogue so they can be right. Many parts of the Internet are hard to index, or are blocked from being indexed by their owners. Companies like Google have worked hard to surface and bring light to the “deep, dark” recesses of the global web on a technical level. But in the past few years, a disturbing trend has emerged where governments — either through law or technical means or by the control of the companies that provide access — have forced inaccuracy, omissions and misleading results on the world’s major search engines.

Microsoft: ‘Right to be forgotten’ coming soon to Bing in Europe – Microsoft says it will soon provide a form to accept removal requests for Bing search results under the European ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, but exactly how soon it will launch remains unclear.

Dropbox Adding Speedier ‘Streaming Sync’ Feature – If you’ve ever found yourself waiting endlessly for a Dropbox file to sync, we have some good news. Dropbox has added a brand-new feature to its desktop client that promises faster file synchronization between devices. The new featured, dubbed “streaming sync,” doesn’t require you to do a thing beyond your standard dragging and dropping of files into your magical Dropbox folder.

CrossOver 13.2: Installing Windows program on Linux just got easier – Sometimes, you really need a Windows desktop application, even if you’re a die-hard Linux user. For those times, I recommend CodeWeavers’ CrossOver. Better still, the latest version makes installing Windows programs on Linux systems easier than ever. Office running on Mint Linux with CrossOver. Microsoft Office 2010 running on Linux? Sure, it’s easy to do with CodeWeavers’ CrossOver.

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Microsoft Office 2010 running on Linux? Sure, it’s easy to do with CodeWeavers’ CrossOver.

Viral video: First, strangers kissed; now (surprise) they disrobe – I want to reveal some secrets for making sure your YouTube video goes viral. Inserting cats almost never fails. Nudity and sex also help enormously. There are clear and deep psychological reasons for this. Appealing to the essentially animalistic nature of humans is just one. So how clever of filmmaker Tatiana Pilieva to follow up her runaway viral success, which featured alleged strangers kissing each other, with something even more bracingly viral. Yes, alleged strangers taking each other’s clothes off and lying down.

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Microsoft is looking for beta testers for OneNote – Microsoft is looking for beta testers to try out an update for OneNote on Android and has a put up a registration page that takes a few seconds to fill out if you are interested in trying out the app.

Gamer raided by SWAT live on Twitch over prank call – While playing Counter-Strike live on Twitch, gamer Jordan Gilbert was raided by his local SWAT team over what turned out to be a prank call. His camera caught the raid on video, with it being posted on YouTube for all to see. The relevant part of what went down is posted in the YouTube video below, with the small box on the right side of the capture showing the officers briefly searching what appears to be the gamer’s bedroom.

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Twitter Adds Metrics to Tweet Activity Dashboard – Twitter this week refreshed its tweet activity dashboard, offering more detailed insights into how your 140-word masterpieces are performing. Until now, the dashboard measured a tweet’s impact based on the number of retweets and favorites it received. This information is still available in the new dashboard, but it also now shows details about how people are engaging with your tweets and how many impressions they have raked in.

Never miss a call on your Android device again with Flash On Call – There are so many times when I have to place my phone on mute, that I often forget to un-silence the beast. When that happens, I miss calls. With the help of a handy little app called Flash On Call, those missed calls are a thing of the past. The idea behind the app (and the host of similar apps) is to use the smartphone’s built-in flash to do its thing and alert the user of an incoming call (or SMS).

Slice 5.0 is a must-have app for online shoppers – This free app puts all your receipts in one place and notifies you of price drops, package delivery, and more.

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Slice for iOS can list your purchases in a collapsed or expanded view – Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET.

Microsoft launches Windows Apportals – Microsoft has announced Windows Apportals, a new line-of-business app management tool for business and enterprise, bringing together Modern apps, web apps and Windows 7 applications in a single hub.

New Start menu leaks in Windows build 9788 – Well here it is. A new leak shows the Start menu in a leaked build of Windows ‘Threshold’ and it looks exactly like the one that was shown off at Microsoft’s Build conference earlier this year.

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Netflix ranked second in Australia despite geo-blocking: Pocketbook – The absence of an official Australian launch, along with an active geo-blocking campaign, has not prevented Netflix from becoming the second most popular subscription media platform in the country, according to new research by Pocketbook.

Recover deleted files from iPhones, iPads and Android devices – Lost some important data on your iPhone, iPad or Android device? Here are some tools that might be able to help you get it back.

Security:

Oracle to release 115 security patches – Oracle is planning to release 115 security patches for vulnerabilities affecting a wide array of its products, including its flagship database, Java SE, Fusion Middleware and business applications. The update includes fixes for 20 weaknesses in Java SE, all of which can be exploited by an attacker remotely, without the need for login credentials, Oracle said in an announcement prior to Tuesday’s patch release. Oracle releases patches on a quarterly basis. The last update, in April, delivered 104 fixes.

Gmail users on iOS at risk of data interception – Apple users accessing Gmail on mobile devices could be at risk of having their data intercepted, a mobile security company said Thursday. The reason is Google has not yet implemented a security technology that would prevent attackers from viewing and modifying encrypted communications exchanged with the Web giant, wrote Avi Bashan, chief information security officer for Lacoon Mobile Security, based in Israel and the U.S.

LastPass Finds Security Holes In Its Online Password Manager, Doesn’t Think Anyone – When you’re in charge of keeping many hundreds of thousands of passwords under lock and key, trust is everything. Maintaining that trust means fessing up when things go wrong — even if it’s something you don’t think affected your users. Such is the case today for LastPass, a popular password manager for Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Opera. They’ve just published details of two security exploits discovered lurking in their products, though they say they don’t believe the exploits were ever used maliciously.

Google changing Chrome malware, phishing warnings – New designs for interstitial warning pages for malware and phishing sites detected by Google Safe Browsing are simpler.

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The 5 biggest data breaches of 2014 (so far) – In the battle to keep your personal information private, it’s not just hackers you have to worry about but lax security and stupidity. A survey of data breaches in the first six months of this year shows an increasing number of incidents in which data, including names and addresses, credit card and Social Security numbers, and medical records was lost to criminals or exposed.

Company News:

Apple quickly counters China claim of iPhone spying: Fast response shows how important the market is to the U.S. Company – Apple on Saturday denied claims by China’s state-run television that its iPhones track owners’ locations. The 600-word message was linked from Apple China’s home page.

Amazon finds a simple way to bypass a new French law – Amazon France has changed their shipping price in order to comply with a new law that went into effect starting this week. The €0.01 shipping cost will still allow Amazon to offer great prices.

Motorola loses patent suit in Germany, Moto G and X faces ban and recalls – The Mannheim Regional Court in Germany found Motorola guilty of infringing on a patent held by engineering firm LPKF, and now Motorola has to stop selling the Moto G and X, and recall some devices.

Samsung discovers child labor evidence, suspends supplier – Samsung has suspended business with a supplier following the discovery of ‘evidence’ related to the use of child labor.

Games and Entertainment:

5 games to keep World Cup fever alive – Well, the World Cup is over—time to stop thinking about soccer for another four years, right? It’s a sensation that many of us are no doubt familiar with. Want to change that? Get interactive! Perhaps you’re not up for joining a local league, but investing time in soccer video games can keep you immersed in the culture and also help you learn the little intricacies of the so-called beautiful game. Here’s a look at five of the most entertaining mobile options around, all of which can help stoke the footie flames so they don’t fade.

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How Steam in-home streaming can turn your old laptop or Windows tablet into a PC gaming force – The new in-home streaming feature Valve recently introduced in its blockbuster Steam gaming platform can turn any laptop into a full-fledged gaming machine—even older notebooks with ho-hum power, or Linux or OS X machines or Windows 8 tablets. It’s all done by streaming games from your primary gaming PC to any computer in your house in OnLive-like fashion, but Steam’s in-home streaming only works on your home network—and it’s dead simple to set up.

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Using Steam’s in-home streaming feature to stream Assassin’s Creed IV from a desktop with a Radeon 7850 graphics card (the black display) to an 8-year-old MacBook. Games run full-screen on both devices during streaming.

South Park to move behind Hulu’s paywall and end unlimited free streaming – Since 2008, fans of the Comedy Central cartoon South Park have been able to stream the show’s entire library (minus a few permanently redacted episodes) from the South Park Studios site. But according to a new post on the show’s official blog, this fan-friendly unlimited streaming arrangement will soon be ending: South Park is moving to Hulu. Folks who want to watch more than a limited selection of old South Park episodes will either have to resort to physical media or begin paying $7.99 per month to subscribe to Hulu Plus.

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Xbox exec: lower frame rates and screen resolutions are imperceptible on Xbox One – Microsoft’s management team clearly still hasn’t got the message when it comes to commenting on the performance of their latest games console. Harvey Eagle, the Xbox UK marketing boss has demonstrated that this week by claiming gamers can’t tell the difference if a game runs at a lower resolution and frame rate on Xbox One. I, and probably millions of other gamers out there, disagree. Informing gamers they can’t tell the difference is not great marketing and a little insulting.

Doctor Who Season 8 full length trailer depicts a doubting Time Lord – This is definitely not your grandfather’s Doctor Who. BBC has just released the first full length trailer for the upcoming Series 8 of the much-loved science fiction series. This time, however, the atmosphere is a bit different, a bit charged you could say. Doctor Who isn’t going through time just to save the universe per se. He is going through time to save the universe from himself. Doctor Who fans are undoubtedly all fueled up by now and are just counting the days before the series premieres 23rd August on BBC One.

Off Topic (Sort of):

German Cartel Office Says Google, Other Tech Giants Could Be Regulated Like Utilities – Germany has not been the biggest fan of tech giants that it believes overreach their influence. Now, a report claims that it is considering a new way to deal with them: regulating them like utilities. If the reports about the German proposals are accurate, they are a sign that even without a change in that European ruling, Google could potentially face problems in individual countries.

Yahoo female executive sued for sexual harassment – A major executive at Yahoo was named in a lawsuit Friday that accuses her of sexually harassing a female employee who reported to her. Maria Zhang, a senior director of engineering, plays a key role in Yahoo’s mobile efforts — an important piece in Yahoo’s strategy to turn around the lumbering Internet portal. Zhang heads content and developer-tool teams for several of the company’s mobile properties, including Yahoo Sports and News Digest. According to the lawsuit, Nan Shi, a principle software engineer, was forced by Zhang to have sex with her on multiple occasions. When Shi began to resist her advances, Zhang allegedly responded by removing Shi as a project lead and giving her a negative performance review.

Watch: DARPA shows off first successful test of STEERABLE bullet – The video, shot at a government firing range in February and April, shows two .50-cal rounds maneuvering in flight towards the target spot. The second manages two course corrections before hitting its target.

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Police beating of woman goes viral, rekindles images of Rodney King – “This is not just jabs, they are hooks. Those are lights-out punches. Those aren’t like taps. You see it, you heard it. It was like ‘thump, thump, thump’ and then you see her head bouncing ‘bam, bam’ on the concrete. Then you hear her screaming, ‘No, don’t, stop.’ Then you even—at the end where she has her hands up like this—when it’s clear there is no more resistance, he takes another four or five shots.” The assault—which has generated millions of hits on YouTube and elsewhere—has prompted protests seeking justice, politicians demanding a federal inquiry, threats of lawsuits, and outrage against the CHP.

(This animal (with full apologies to all animals), will walk away from this (despite graphic evidence of criminal assault), since he is protected by a Mafia style “brotherhood”. It happens all too often. Keep on believing that this won’t happen to you – until it does. If you believe that your social status will offer you some protection – you have not been paying attention.)

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Is there more police brutality, or is the rise in technology bringing it to light? – Police brutality has been a problem for many years in the United States. The police have taken their brutality a step further and have begun killing innocent people. In 2007 USA Today featured a story about the rise of police brutality since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. USA Today stated that the use of excessive force increased by 25 percent from 2001 to 2007. In reality, I do not think that police brutality is increasing. I think that the number of police being caught is increasing. With new technology come new methods of documenting what happens.

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Yellowstone National Park limits visitor access because roads are melting – Asphalt is pretty neat stuff. Heat it up, mix it, lay it down, pack it, and you’ve got a nice, smooth roadway for people to drive on. Heat it back up, and you’ve got the potential for both hilarity and enormous problems. That’s exactly what Yellowstone National Park is contending with right now. Stretches of the Park’s paved roads are sweating, blistering, and melting. As bizarre and alarming as it might sound to tourists, according to park officials it’s all perfectly normal stuff.

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13 bits of classic software whose code is now accessible – The source code behind proprietary software doesn’t always remain hidden forever. Here’s a baker’s dozen examples where the code behind well-known applications has come to light.

FCC Votes to Require Closed Captioning for Web Clips – The Federal Communications Commission today unanimously approved a rule that will require closed captioning for certain online videos. The move extends rules that the agency adopted in 2012 to require closed captioning on video clips, not just full-length videos. Once in place, the rules will require broadcasters, cable, and satellite distributors to caption clips that are played on TV and then posted on a website or mobile app.

Something to think about:

“The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way.”

-    George W. Bush – Speech to UN General Assembly, September 21, 2004

Today’s Free Downloads:

PasteCopy.NET – PasteCopy.NET enlarges the capacity of Windows Clipboard and lets you organize csv (Comma separated values), html, rtf (Rich Text Format), text, unicode text & images into customizable categories. The supported formats can be previewed and copied to Windows Clipboard with a mouse-click, or by keyboard navigation. PasteCopy.NET is a portable* freeware tool, and can run from a USB memory stick.

Features:

Portable freeware tool

AutoFill (-Forms)

Auto- Copy & Paste Windows Clipboard

Convert html to rtf or txt (-automatically)

Convert rtf to txt (-automatically)

(Auto-) resizable/hide preview

Mouse-hover/keystroke preview

Clipboard-content preview

Export and print function

Multilingual support

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BlitzSound – BlitzSound – it’s a simple application, which can capture your special moments and pieces of your favorite song from a youtube video, or a TeamSpeak3/Skype conversation without any problem.

Features:

One press of the button screenshot.

One press of the button selected screenshot

One press of the button record everything you hear.

YouTube Extension, download and convert from youtube with ease.

Limitations – Requires Microsoft .NET Framework.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction – On July 20, 2013, agents of the U.K. government entered The Guardian newsroom in London and compelled them to physically destroy the computers they were using to report on the Edward Snowden archive. The Guardian reported this a month later after my partner, David Miranda, was detained at Heathrow Airport for 11 hours under a British terrorism law and had all of his electronic equipment seized. At the time, the Obama administration—while admitting that it was told in advance of the Heathrow detention—pretended that it knew nothing about the forced laptop destruction and would never approve of such attacks on press freedom. From the August 20, 2013, press briefing by then-deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest:

Q: A last one on the NSA—The Guardian newspaper, following on everything that was discussed yesterday—The Guardian is saying that British authorities destroyed several hard drives, because they wanted to keep secrets that Edward Snowden had leaked from actually getting out.  They were stored in The Guardian‘s—they had some hard drives there at their offices.  British authorities went in there and destroyed these hard drives. Did the American government get a heads up about that the way you did about the person being detained?

MR. EARNEST:  I’ve seen the published reports of those accusations, but I don’t have any information for you on that.

Q: And does the U.S. government think it’s appropriate for a government, especially one of our allies, to go in and destroy hard drives? Is that something this administration would do?

MR. EARNEST: The only thing I know about this are the public reports about this, so it’s hard for me to evaluate the propriety of what they did based on incomplete knowledge of what happened.

Q: But this administration would not do that, would not go into an American media company and destroy hard drives, even if it meant trying to protect national security, you don’t think?

MR. EARNEST: It’s very difficult to imagine a scenario in which that would be appropriate.

But emails just obtained by Associated Press pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) prove that senior Obama national security officials— including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-NSA chief Keith Alexander—not only knew in advance that U.K. officials intended to force The Guardian to destroy their computers, but overtly celebrated it.

One email, dated July 19 (the day prior to the destruction) bears the subject line “Guardian data being destroyed” and is from NSA deputy director Richard Ledgett to Alexander. He writes: “Good news, at least on this front.” The next day, almost immediately after the computers were destroyed, Alexander emailed Ledgett: ”Can you confirm this actually occurred?” Hours later, under the same subject line, Clapper emailed Alexander, saying: “Thanks Keith … appreciate the conversation today”.

It’s hardly surprising that the Obama Administration was fully informed in advance: It’s virtually inconceivable that notoriously subservient London officials would ever take any meaningful action without the advance knowledge and permission of their Washington overseers. There are, however, several notable points from these new disclosures……

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 11, 2014

Silent Circle Takes on Skype With Expanded Encrypted Calling;  Spotify launches invite queue for Canadian users;  What are all those other Microsoft updates?  Create a Google-free Android phone;  Video: How to Properly Delete Your Android Phone or Tablet Data;  Study: Most apps in the App Store are “zombies”;  11 ways LXLE Linux will make you forget all about XP;  The host with the most: make party planning easier with apps;  Hands-on iPad games with real pieces give kids new ways to play;  Sales of Big Smartphones Are Totally Killing Tablets;  Computer shutting down on its own? Maybe it’s time to play it cool;  Adobe Flash: The most INSECURE program on a UK user’s PC;  RocketSkates bring motors to your feet.

Silent Circle Takes on Skype With Expanded Encrypted Calling – The privacy-focused communications firm on Thursday announced a major international expansion of its so-called “Out-Circle” feature, which lets members make and receive encrypted calls to non-subscribers. Beginning today, those who enroll in Silent Circle’s encrypted international calling plans will receive a unique 10-digit Silent Phone number letting them chat with their friends in 79 countries without roaming charges, even if those people are not Silent Circle subscribers.

FreedomPop’s Free Mobile Service Goes International – FreedomPop’s free mobile service company is going global. The company is partnering with Dutch carrier KPN to test drive its service in Belgium. If all goes well, FreedomPop will expand to the U.K, Germany, France, Spain, and the Pacific Rim with additional carrier partners. FreedomPop arrived in 2012 with the intention of rewriting the rules of the telecom industry. Last year, it launched a free phone service using Sprint’s network, with calling and texting going through a voice-over-IP system.

Computer shutting down on its own? Maybe it’s time to play it cool – Heating problems are almost always ventilation problems. Most PCs use several fans to circulate air through the case to bring down the temperature. If your PC is getting too hot too often, something is probably blocking the ventilation. Desktops and laptops have different ventilation issues. Here’s how to fix each. (Quick Tip – install Open Hardware Monitor. Open Hardware Monitor is free open source software that monitors temperature sensors, fan speeds, voltages, load and clock speeds of a computer.)

Video: How to Properly Delete Your Android Phone or Tablet Data – Here’s an extra step to ensure it’s safe to get rid of your old Android device.

What are all those other Microsoft updates? – Microsoft released a lot more than security updates yesterday, as they do every month.  If you know where to look, you can keep on top of the non-security updates.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Secret to Happiness: Quit Facebook for 99 Days? – If that sounds like bliss, head over to the campaign’s website to join the experiment, dubbed 99 Days of Freedom. Participants are asked to post a “time-off” image as their profile picture and create a personal countdown to share on the social network, letting all your friends know what’s up. From there, you’ll receive anonymous “happiness surveys” at the 33-, 66-, and 99-day marks. The results will be posted to the group’s website as they’re compiled. There’s also a message board through which participants can anonymously share how the break from Facebook is affecting their lives.

11 ways LXLE Linux will make you forget all about XP – Windows XP’s long run may have finally come to an end, but that doesn’t mean your XP-era hardware has to go too. No indeed: There are numerous options available in the Linux world, and one shining example is LXLE. A brand-new LXLE 14.04 made its debut a few weeks ago, and it’s packed with new features while remaining lightweight and speedy. With an XP mode among several other desktop options, this zippy OS needs less than a minute to boot and get online. Don’t try that on your Windows machine. Ready for a look? Read on, then, and see what your older PC hardware could be doing.

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Spotify launches invite queue for Canadian users – The long-awaited arrival of Spotify in Canada is nearing, if a new pre-invite queue page that has surfaced is any indication. Interested parties in Canada can now submit their email address to get in line for an invitation to the music service.

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Microsoft updates Skype for Mac – Microsoft has updated Skype for Mac, bringing various stability improvements and bug fixes, including resolving an issue that would sometimes cause the app to crash when sending or receiving files.

Study: Most apps in the App Store are “zombies” – When announcing the prowess of their respective app marketplaces, both Google and Apple like to discuss how many apps there are. They don’t discuss the actual makeup of their marketplaces, though. A recent study notes that up to 80% of apps in the App Store are “zombie” apps — and no, we don’t mean games.

Advanced Android: Creating your own Google-free Android phone – When you buy an Android phone or tablet, it’s the expectation that Google will be deeply integrated. However, what if you don’t want to use Google’s services or apps because of privacy or ethical concerns? Android is open source, so there’s nothing stopping you from doing just that. Leaving the relative safety of the Google ecosystem means you’re cut off from all the usual apps and tools, but it’s quite possible to leave Mountain View beyond as you take your Android experience to the expert level.

Sales of Big Smartphones Are Totally Killing Tablets – The rising popularity of bigger ‘phablet’ smartphones is hurting tablet sales. Tablet PC shipments fell in the first quarter of 2014 for the first time, a sign that customers are turning to large-screen smartphones instead of products like the Apple iPad. The study forecasts that in 2014 the year-on-year growth rate of tablet PC sales — once a primary growth driver for the smart device market, especially after the iPad debuted in 2010 — will fall 14%, a revised estimate that docked NPD’s original predicted growth rate by 3%. By 2017, the rate will slow to single digits.

The host with the most: make party planning easier with apps – Don’t let your big bash become a big burden. Use these tips to remove the stress and crank up the fun for your next party.

Hands-on iPad games with real pieces give kids new ways to play – The iPad can be tons of fun for kids, but the trick is to balance hands-off activities like watching a movie with hands-on projects like making your own. Osmo is hands on—it’s a set of iPad games played with real-world pieces, and unique stand with a red plastic piece that redirects the iPad’s front-facing camera to the game pieces as your child interacts with them on a table or floor.

Open links in new tabs without loading them with Silent Tab – Firefox add-on adds an option to open a link in a new tab without loading the page until you switch to the tab.

New site: We’ll tell you how mansion owners made their money – Mansion Map is a faintly creepy new site that lets you discover who lives in the biggest houses and how the 1 percent of the 1 percent made their money.

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I wonder who lives there. Mansion Map

Marketing to women on social media: 5 tips for doing it better – Forget about pictures of women smiling eating salads. Here are 5 ways to update your brand’s approach to reaching women online. Women control the majority of household spending but still experience a disconnect in the ways brands talk to them.

‘Apple is TERRIFIED of women’s bodies and women’s pleasure’ – Apple is weathering a sexism storm after its website apparently refused to engrave a raunchy poem on a newly ordered iPhone. Enraged that the California giant allowed penis, dick and similar words to be engraved on mobes – but, crucially, not clit – men and women in favour of equal opportunities have given Apple boss Tim Cook a piece of their mind on Twitter. Using the hashtag myclitmychoice, huge numbers of angry feminists demanded the iThing CEO step in, and allow them to engrave various names for lady parts on their new gadgets. (Apple is hardly alone in it’s despicable behaviour. Facebook comes to mind as a misogynistic pile of crap. I often wonder, if the misfits who fail to address gender issues have a mother, sister, wife, girlfriend……. or, were they simply hatched out behind the barn.)

Big data is just a big, distracting bubble, soon to burst – Business has bought into the mythology of big data and pervasive “surveillance-based marketing and advertising”, but its time is coming to an end, says ‘Doc’ Searls. Big data, he said, is nothing more than the myth that collecting vast amounts of data can help companies know customers better than those customers even know themselves.

Security:

Adobe Flash: The most INSECURE program on a UK user’s PC – Adobe Flash Player was the most insecure program installed on UK computer users PCs throughout the second quarter of 2014, according to stats from vulnerability management firm Secunia. Nearly seven in 10 (69 per cent) UK PC users were found to have an end-of-life version of Adobe Flash Player 13 installed during Q2 2014. Users had not updated to version 14.

Emergency Windows update revokes dozens of bogus Google, Yahoo SSL certificates – Microsoft has issued an emergency update for most supported versions of Windows to prevent attacks that abuse recently issued digital certificates impersonating Google and Yahoo. Company officials warned undiscovered fraudulent credentials for other domains may still be in the wild. Thursday’s unscheduled update effectively blocks 45 highly sensitive secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates that hackers managed to generate after compromising systems operated by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of India.

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Protecting email at a hacker conference – The upcoming hacker conferences, HOPE, Black Hat and DEFCON make this a good time to think about email security. Rather than end to end security, which requires both the sender and recipient to use the same security software, my focus here is on securing normal ordinary boring email. Hackers make for great headlines, but these techniques apply in any hostile environment. A case could be made that they apply on any shared network.

International law enforcement operation disrupts Shylock banking malware – Police from eight countries together with several private security companies disrupted the online infrastructure used by cybercriminals to control computers infected with a malware program called Shylock. Shylock is a Trojan program that first appeared in 2011, primarily targeting online banking. The threat is named after a fictional character in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” because it includes fragments from the play in its binary files.

Company News:

Satya Nadella’s Vision For A New Microsoft – This morning Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella released an internal memo detailing his vision for the company’s future. The new chief executive used the missive as a way to signal an intentional break with the past.

EU court upholds record €152m Telefonica antitrust fine – The huge fine, handed down for abusing its dominant broadband position, will have to be paid in full by Telefonica after its latest appeal failed.

FTC Takes Legal Action Against Amazon For Unauthorized In-app Purchases – The filing follows Amazon’s refusal to comply with the FTC’s request to implement a “consent” model similar to the one Apple conceded to earlier this year, according to a letter Amazon sent to the FTC last week. Amazon believes it already has implemented effective parental controls consistent with the model the FTC settled on with Apple, and it says it refunded customers who complained of children making in-app purchases without their permission. (You can be sure that when Amazon is found in violation of the FTC’s directive, any fine (and that is debatable), will be a fraction of the fine imposed on Telefonica – as per the article above.)

Amazon wants FAA to let them stretch their drone wings – Do you remember those Amazon drones, the ones the company thinks will be delivering your packages? Those are a real thing, and Amazon is trying to make a go of it. They’ve sent a letter to the FAA asking to test the drones on longer flights. Their goal is innovation, as they say they need to let the little guys stretch their proverbial wings.

Games and Entertainment:

Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm is going to work, and we’re all going to love it – After playing the technical alpha for a little while, the success of Blizzard’s official attempt at a MOBA isn’t actually a question worth answering. Instead, you’re better off measuring how much of your life you plan to offer as tribute when the game finally launches.

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Seven years on, Halo 3′s last known Easter egg has been discovered – The next chapter in the hugely successful Halo series is due to arrive next year, with the launch of Halo 5: Guardians, and Xbox One gamers have the added excitement of the remastered ‘Master Chief Collection’ to look forward to as well. But as many look to the future, one tiny element in an earlier game has eluded discovery – until now. What appears to be the final ‘Easter egg’ hidden in Halo 3 has now been discovered, ending a search that has lasted almost seven years since the game’s launch in September 2007.

The Incredibly Difficult Wayward Souls Comes to Android in Search of More Gamers to Torment – There’s a bit of a trend lately to make games harder again. Maybe you remember playing games on the NES back in the day and dying for real. As in, “game over, all your hard work is lost,” kind of dying. The dungeon crawler Wayward Souls arrived on iOS a few months ago with punishing difficulty and permanent death. Now it has been ported over to Android so a whole new group of gamers can throw their devices in frustration.

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Watch Dogs Has Shipped 8 Million Copies to Date, Says Ubisoft – This is what lots of buildup and unparalleled anticipation will buy you: 8 million copies shipped of a game that’s really not too shabby, but at the same time nothing like the breakthrough event Ubisoft pitched it as in the lengthy lead-up to its debut.

Off Topic (Sort of):

RocketSkates bring motors to your feet – Skateboards, bicycles, even scooters — all valid ways to get around, but none quite as eye-catching as the RocketSkates, a Kickstarter effort that has hit its funding goal and promises to shuttle you around town using nothing but your feet.

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Tech Company With $39 In Assets Now Worth More Than $6B – Are we in a bubble? We’re in a bubble. CYNK Technology, a ‘company’ with a grand total of $39 in assets, has seen its share price rise dramatically, spiking to a valuation of more than $6 billion in a matter of days. The company’s 52-week low valued the firm at less than $18 million.

Windsor cops arrest man over Facebook video that showed police HQ being ‘shot’ with rocket – A 44-year-old man is facing a criminal charge because he allegedly posted on Facebook a video using a phone app depicting police headquarters being blown up.

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Comment following this newspaper article – “Would it still have been a crime if he used ‘zombies’ rather than a rocket launcher on the same app? Absolutely ridiculous waste of tax dollars. It will get tossed out of court and I hope he sues.”

Y2K bug sends draft notices to 14,000 19th century Pennsylvanians – Remember that whole Y2K thing? I sure do, what with my older brother furiously correcting COBOL code for panicked businesses throughout northeast Ohio. Amazingly, 15 years later Y2K bugs are still causing shenanigans: thousands of Pennsylvania citizens — most of whom died many, many years ago — were just sent draft notices by the U.S. Army.

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Couple jailed for selling both their sons to fund in-game item purchases – An unwed couple in China are currently in jail awaiting trial after they sold not one, but both of their sons in order to be able to buy items in their favorite free-to-play online games. The first son was not a planned pregnancy and the father did not want to pay for his upbringing, so they decided to sell him to a child trafficker. Typically these children are then sold on to Chinese couples wanting a child, to orphanages for sales overseas, or even to street gangs!

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This guy turned his basement into the Starship Enterprise – Anthony Sforza can count himself among the most dedicated “Star Trek” fans of all time. Over the course of the last three years, Sforza logged over 1,500 hours working primarily at night to convert his basement into an awesome, livable tribute to the Starship Enterprise.

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The Most Common Misconceptions About 8 Big Tech Companies – The Internet has an established narrative for every big tech company. There are the innovators and the copycats, the rising stars and the dying veterans, the money-makers and the time-wasters. While there’s probably a little truth in all of these labels, each company’s story is built around a common misconception. So here’s my take on what we tend to get wrong about eight of the biggest tech titans.

Something to think about:

“Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.”

-     Elie Wiesel

Today’s Free Downloads:

StudioLine Photo Basic – StudioLine Photo Basic is an easy-to-use yet powerful management and editing software for digital photos. Images can be imported from camera, scanner and all popular file formats.

The image archive is the central database where you conveniently categorize your images and add keywords and descriptions. Standard IPTC and Exif tags are fully supported. 30 professional image tools are included to improve exposure problems, red-eye effects, color tones, etc.

Photos can be printed, emailed or uploaded as web galleries. CD/DVD writing is included.

New Customizable User Interface – The newly designed user interface offers panes for you to neatly organize descriptors, hints and image/folder information. Size, move, dock or hide panes to perfectly adapt StudioLine to your work flow. Even image tools can be restricted to a pane so that they don’t obstruct your view of your images.

XML Format for Exchanging Data with Other Applications – StudioLine Photo 3 can export metadata in XML format. This standard format simplifies the exchange of image descriptors with other applications.

Backup Reminders – A new backup assistant can remind you in regular intervals to backup your images and offer to launch the appropriate backup task. You choose whether the reminder is based on days elapsed or the number of new images.

Expanded Database Search by Time Spans – The new search engine has intuitive controls to restrict the search to a certain time span. This makes it even easier to find images of a particular event.

Convenient Search and Replace – The new function to replace image descriptors is ideal for correction spelling mistakes or to standardize similar keywords, e.g., “vintage car” vs. “classic car”.

Special Export and Email Filters – StudioLine Photo Classic 3 offers special filters for exporting and emailing. Images canbe cropped, sharpened and overlaid with text to prepare them for a particular one-timeuse.

Web-Gallery Design Wizard – Make up your own web gallery designs with the help of the new wizard. You choose the thumbnail size, borders, backgrounds and the use of image descriptors. Detail view pages with navigation links are designed in the same fashion. You can save your creations for later reuse.

Loading and Managing Media Files – With StudioLine Photo Classic 3 you also load and manage the audio and video files recorded by your digital camera. A new icon in the image archive allows you to play any voice annotation that you associated with an image.

Transition Effects for Slide Shows – The updated slide show offers a wide range of transition effects. You can pick your favorite or have StudioLine randomize the effect for each image.

Limitations: After installation you’ll be able to test all functions of StudioLine Photo Basic for 30 days. To continue using StudioLine Photo Basic 3 as a home user at no cost, simply request the complimentary activation code. StudioLine Photo Basic is only “Freeware” for personal use. Business or other commercial use requires purchase of a license.

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Speak-A-Message – Speak-A-Message offers the widest range of features for voice recording and voice email. Audio recording is three times faster than typing, great fun and lets you communicate with a more personal touch! New: Post your voice and photo messages to Facebook!

Speak-A-Message can automatically convert voice messages into text (requires Windows 7 or Vista). No need to type!

Features:

Record audio, voice and photo messages

Send voice emails

Upload to Facebook

Automatically convert voice messages into text

Insert voice comments into MS Word documents*

Add sound effects, dubbing

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK Fast Tracks Emergency Surveillance Law – The UK government has confirmed it will introduce emergency legislation next week that will require Internet and phone companies to keep records of customer metadata.

It said the aim of the new emergency legislation is to maintain existing data retention powers, after a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling — back in April — struck down European data retention powers on the grounds that they were too broad.

The UK government argues that without a new law, communications companies might start deleting user metadata, which would jeopardise law enforcement and security agencies’ abilities to conduct investigations and gather retrospective data for “evidential purposes.”

The coalition has secured cross-party support for the move, meaning it will be able to rush the legislation through parliament with the support of opposition MPs.

That support has been secured on the basis of the law having a two-year sunset clause, and a new oversight board being set up to have eyes on the functioning of the powers and ensure civil liberties are “properly considered” in the formulation of new counter-terrorism policy.

The board will be called The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and will be based on a US model — with the government citing David Anderson’s existing role as the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation as its inspiration here. The board will report annually, detailing the frequency with which the police and security services are using the powers.

(The UK continues apace, setting new standards for western Europe’s premier failed democracy.)

Germany asks US intelligence chief in country to leave over spying affair – The top American intelligence officer in Germany has been asked to leave the country in the wake of revelations about National Security Agency spying and two recent cases in which the U.S. reportedly recruited German spies.

The request was made after months of questions about the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies in Germany went unanswered, the German federal government said in a news release Thursday.

A Parliamentary committee has been established to investigate U.S. intelligence operations in Germany, the government statement noted.

On July 2, an employee of the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) intelligence agency was arrested, according to news reports.

The employee was arrested under suspicion of passing on information to Russian intelligence services, and also because he allegedly received money to pass information to a U.S. contact, according to reports. The information allegedly included details about the Parliamentary investigation into U.S. spying, according to German news media reports. German authorities confirmed the arrest.

(Until such time as the economic consequences to the American economy of Obama’s attacks against the WORLD become apparent (not only in IT), there is little hope that the troglodytes who continue to implement this unprecedented and ultimately self-defeating fiasco will admit their culpability. And damn, are they culpable.)

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Security:

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

-    Sallust (86 BC – 34 BC)

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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

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

Features:

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

See who you are talking to with free video calls

Chat with up to 100 people in group chats

Conference call with up to four people for free

Call ordinary phones with SkypeOut

Superior sound quality

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

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

Super-simple and easy to use

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

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

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

Avira AntiVir Personal gives you the following functions:

Control Center for monitoring, administering and controlling the entire program

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

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

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

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

Integrated quarantine management to isolate and process suspicious files

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Features:

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

AntiRootkit protection against hidden rootkits

Faster Scanning up to 20% faster

AntiPhishing protection against phishing

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

QuickRemoval eliminates viruses at the push of a button

Limitations:

Avira AntiVir Personal is free for personal use only.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 9, 2014

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

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

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

More on this:

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Digital Shadow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Security:

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

More on this:

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

-    Aldous Huxley

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

Features:

Support RAID.

Extend system partition to maximize computer performance.

Manage the hard disk for substantial performance increase.

Create, Delete and Format partitions with simple steps.

Disk Copy to protect or transfer data.

Support disk and partition size larger than 2 TB.

Convert partition format from FAT to NTFS.

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

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

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

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

Explore FAT/NTFS partition.

Set partition as primary.

Set partition as logical.

Rebuild MBR.

Disk Surface Test.

Partition Surface Test.

Change Partition Serial Number.

Change Partition Type ID.

Hot Extend Partition without reboot.

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

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

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

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

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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