Tag Archives: tech

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 23, 2014

How to Delete Accounts From Any Website;  Microsoft makes it easier to get Office for free, if you’re a student;  Five versatile apps to handle related tasks;  How to stop autoloading programs in Windows 7 and Windows 8;  Why you will (and won’t) want a 64-bit Android phone;  How to manage bookmarks in Chrome;  Where do the most people go for TV online? YouTube;  Camera test: The iPhone 6 won’t beat a DSLR, but..;  Fake Android Update Hijacks Your Calls and Texts;  Can the iPhone 6 replace your gaming handheld?  FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Arrives on Android and iOS;  Flappy Bird 3 in 1 (free);  Alibaba Is Overpriced and Overhyped — So What Else Is New?  Apple Still Has Plenty of Your Data for the Feds;  Australia’s Prime Minister Gives a Master Class in Exploiting Terrorism Fears to Seize New Powers;  Home Depot’s former security architect had history of techno-sabotage;  The 4 reasons I switched from Google to Bing.

How to Delete Accounts From Any Website – Sadly, not all websites and social networks and online retailers are created equal when it comes to breaking up. No matter what you call it—deleting, canceling, removing—when you want to be rid of an online account, many sites don’t make it easy. You don’t want to rush into a break-up, but if you’re ready, we’ve compiled the links, tips, and, in the most extreme cases, the phone numbers you need to sever ties. (And let’s be clear, there’s a difference between deleting an account and just deactivating it. We’ll spell out the differences for each in the next few pages, as needed.)

Microsoft makes it easier to get Office for free, if you’re a student – Microsoft has announced changes to its Student Advantage program that provides students with access to Office, making it even easier for them to get their hands on its productivity suite.

How to stop autoloading programs in Windows 7 and Windows 8 – Every time you boot Windows, a whole lot of programs load automatically. Some of them you need, while some of them are pointless. Here’s how to trim the fat.

One-stop shop: Five versatile apps to handle related tasks – Specialized tools are essential for some tasks. But there’s no denying the convenience of an app that can serve multiple purposes. Here are a few good options.

Why you will (and won’t) want a 64-bit Android phone – Is 64-bit silicon twice as good as that crummy 32-bit technology we’ve been using for years? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that the move to a newer ARM architecture includes some nice enhancements, but being 64-bit isn’t, by itself, all that important. Before you pull out your wallet to snag the first 64-bit Android phone (the HTC Desire 510), or begin salivating over any of the other 64-bit phones coming this fall, let’s discuss what the term 64-bit really means, and why you should, and shouldn’t, care about it.

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Zoho’s Showtime app battles boring presentations – The mobile apps (which will officially launch in a few weeks) serve as a means for the presenter to control the presentation and receive feedback, while the desktop app shows the presentation to the audience and allows them to type comments and ask questions. If audience members leave the page, that lack of attention is (anonymously) collected by the ShowTime service and recorded as an incentive to make that slide more interesting in future presentations. Showtime encourages a presentation to become more of a conversation, executives explained. “It really alters the way in which you present,” said Raju Vegesna, the chief evangelist for Zoho.

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The Zoho ShowTime analytics page. Note the actual engagement and “time spent” numbers.

Now You Can Quickly Share The Best Parts Of Your GoPro Videos With BrightSky Labs’ App ’10’ – A few months ago, we told you about BrightSky Labs, a startup that hoped to unlock videos recorded on GoPro cameras and other wearable devices and make them ultra-easy to edit and share. Today, the company is releasing the first version of its video-sharing app 10, which is designed to do just that.

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How to manage bookmarks in Chrome – Over time, you may add a lot of different websites to your bookmarks list in Chrome. Despite making efforts to organize them into folders and sub-sections, sometimes they can still become a huge, messy list of sites you want to remember or look at later. The solution most people think of is to download a bookmark management utility, but that may not be the best idea.

BlackBerry’s big plan: a $600 phone – Let’s talk about the BlackBerry Passport. Today it’s been revealed by BlackBerry that it’ll cost a cool $599 USD off-contract. It’s basically the size and shape of a paper passport and has a physical keyboard, and it’s BlackBerry’s next big plan for sales and recovery. Let’s talk about why that’s wrong.

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The 4 reasons I switched from Google to Bing – If you’re still Googling, you haven’t seen the latest improvements in Bing’s search engine. Recent convert Mark Hachman tells you why he switched, and you could do the same.

AT&T shanghais cord-cutters with $40 deal that has plenty of strings attached – AT&T’s new U-verse bundle lures you in with basic cable, Amazon Prime, and HBO Go, all for $40 per month. But if you read the fine print, that price will change dramatically in a year’s time.

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The Pirate Bay’s raid-proof server farm is 21 virtual machines in the cloud – How do you keep the world’s largest and most widely-known torrent site up and running when copyright groups are constantly trying to figure out ways to shut you down? How do you keep authorities from raiding your servers and taking everything offline? If you’re managing The Pirate Bay, you ditch the hardware and move to the cloud. Instead of a room full of servers, the site now runs on 21 virtual machines that are scattered around the globe at various hosting providers. And none of those providers have any clue that they’re hosting the notorious torrent site.

Camera test: The iPhone 6 won’t beat a DSLR, but it’s still an excellent device – I think the world of my Canon Rebel and its 40mm pancake lens. I’ve gotten some incredible pictures from that camera. But the more I carry around my iPhone 6, the more I’m convinced that its days of hanging out in my bag are almost over. Because the iPhone 6 is a mighty fine camera, indeed. I took my 64GB iPhone out and about on Friday to stress-test some of its new camera features and see if I could get some similar results to Apple’s promo photography. Here are some initial reactions.

Where do the most people go for TV online? YouTube – Netflix calls itself the world’s leading Internet television network, but as is often the case, who’s leading really depends on whom you ask. Frank N. Magid Associates, a research and consulting firm, asked 2,400 people to check off a list of online sources they use to watch TV shows, and found the most common response — with 38 percent of respondents — was YouTube. That compares with 33 percent who listed Netflix, 17 percent for Hulu, and 14 percent for Amazon Prime, according to data from a June survey released exclusively to CNET by Magid.

Security:

Home Depot’s former security architect had history of techno-sabotage – When Home Depot suffered a breach of transaction data that exposed as many as 52 million credit card transactions earlier this year, the company reportedly suffered from lax computer and network security measures for years. Apparently, the company wasn’t helped much by its selection of a security architect either. Ricky Joe Mitchell was hired by Home Depot in 2012, and in March of 2013, he was promoted to the position of Senior Architect for IT Security at Home Depot, in charge of the entire company’s security architecture. In May of 2014, Mitchell was convicted of sabotaging the network of his former employer.

Fake Android Update Hijacks Your Calls and Texts – This week, Malwarebytes shows us a malicious Android app that takes advantage of that confusion by disguising itself as a software update for your Android. What can it do with those enhanced powers? Monitor incoming calls for one, in addition to text messages. It can also send text messages without your permission. Getting control of text messages and calls is scary from a privacy perspective, but it has far-reaching consequences for security. If an attacker can manipulate your texts, he can sign you up for premium SMS numbers that add charges to your wireless bill and line the attacker’s pocket (or the pockets of the attacker’s affiliates).

Despite Android’s data encryption, mobile security is in users’ hands – If you think the upcoming Android “L” release will do everything to secure your mobile device, think again. Jack Wallen reminds users that, ultimately, mobile security is in their hands.

What We Know About the Latest Nude Celebrity Photo Hack – Previously unseen photos purportedly showing Jennifer Lawrence, who became the face of the last major celebrity photo hack, were posted, too. The photos quickly spread from 4chan to Reddit, following the same pattern as the previous hack, which leaked private photos of Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande and almost 100 other female celebrities. Here’s what we do and don’t know about the latest nude celebrity photo hack.

Company News:

Google pulls funding from conservative group for ‘lying’ about climate change – Google is to stop funding a major conservative group over its stance on climate change. Speaking in a radio interview with NPR’s Diane Rehm, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said that Google would not be renewing its membership to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), because the group was “literally lying” by opposing efforts to reduce global warming. The right-leaning ALEC, which has received donations from fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil, has fought against the US government’s efforts to pursue renewable energy sources, battled against regulations for coal power plants, tried to get ecological activists classified as terrorists, and questioned climate change research.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Says Tech Companies Should Accept No Compromises On Climate Change Issues – Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down with UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres today at Climate Week NYC to discuss Apple’s concerns when it comes to climate change, and what the company is doing to address the situation. Cook summed up his company’s efforts by saying that Apple needs to be “one of the pebbles in the pond that creates the ripple,” refer to inspiring a broader effort to improve environmental practice among tech industry leaders.

Google’s next Nexus tablet will be made by HTC, numerous reports claim – We’ve heard again and again and again that HTC is building Google’s next Nexus tablet, and the rumor got even stronger legs on Monday as the Wall Street Journal reported that the Taiwanese handset maker is indeed teaming up with Google. It would mean no hat trick for Asus, which built the last two versions of the Nexus 7. Google partnered with Samsung on the Nexus 10, which is also overdue for a replacement.

Adobe Acquires Photo-Editing Platform Aviary – Aviary just announced that it has been acquired by Adobe. Aviary offers a software development kit to developers who want to add photo-editing capabilities to their apps. Aviary has also created apps of its own, which it says have been downloaded 100 million times, as well as options for advertisers to turn filters and stickers into ads. At the beginning of this year, Aviary announced that the platform had been used to edit 10 billion photos — partners include Yahoo/Flickr, MailChimp and Walgreens.

Facebook said to be near launch of new ad network – Facebook is expected to unveil a new online advertising service next week aimed at helping advertisers better target and measure the impact of their ads while helping it better compete with Google, according to the Wall Street Journal. The new platform, dubbed Atlas according to the Journal’s sources, is based on the Atlas Advertising Suite, which Facebook purchased from Microsoft in 2013.

Games and Entertainment:

Can the iPhone 6 replace your gaming handheld? – Living with the iPhone 6, Part 3: in which Scott Stein sizes up the iPhones against his favorite portable game consoles and finds some interesting conclusions.

FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Arrives on Android and iOS – Fans of soccer (or football, if that’s your thing) the world over should head immediately to their app repository of choice. After a short test run as a geo-restricted beta, FIFA 15 Ultimate Team has arrived on Android and iOS. It has all the stars and teams you know from real life, but now they’ll actually do what you tell them, unlike all those times you screamed at the TV.

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Goat Simulator Is A Gloriously Weird Tribute To The Old ‘Tony Hawk’ Games – While it generally takes a lot of great content (or an emotional treadmill) to get people to pay for games on their phones nowadays, Goat Simulator has done well at $4.99 even though there’s not that much in the way of content — there’s only one town to mess around in and one set of achievements to complete. Despite all that, Goat Simulator has managed to hold the No. 5 slot of the top paid apps on the App Store for several days, and is also available on the Google Play and Steam (where it is $9.99, as it has enhanced content for PCs).

Goat Simulator for iOS

Rockstar adds first-person mode to GTA V on PS4, Xbox One, and PC – The majority of gamers who enjoy Grand Theft Auto games have probably already beat GTA V on PS3 or Xbox 360. Rockstar would love those millions of consumers to purchase the game again when it gets released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. But in order to do that the updated game has to offer something new, and that may come in the form of a first-person mode.

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Hulu bringing Stephen King’s 11/22/63 to TV – Hulu is trying to compel you to subscribe to their service, and if you’ve yet to sign up, this may seal it for you. The company is announcing a new series based on the book 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Centering around the JFK assassination, the series will take a look at what may have been, should President Kennedy not been shot that day.

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An interesting novel – well worth the read.   Pointing up

Off Topic (Sort of):

Alibaba Is Overpriced and Overhyped — So What Else Is New? – According to the NYSE, Alibaba is the 25th tech company to list its shares this year. Except that you are not actually buying Alibaba’s shares directly, since China’s government won’t allow foreigners to control one of its most prized companies. Investors are buying shares in something called a variable interest entity that has a claim on the company’s earnings. The VIE is registered in the Cayman Islands—yes, the Cayman Islands!—that black hole of offshore money. And did I mention that Alibaba is in China. As global auto companies are learning, political risk is not unknown in that country, and even though Alibaba is a home team favorite, foreign holders are just that.

We spoke to the Alaskan woman who quit her news anchor job on live TV to run a weed dispensary – Last night, after hosting a segment on the effort to legalize weed in Alaska, local KTVA news anchor Charlo Greene quit her job in true “fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool” fashion. Unsurprisingly, the mix of weed, unexpected swearing on live local news, and the thrill of someone quitting their job scorched earth style, resulted in Charlo’s final news broadcast going viral. So, we caught up with her earlier today to talk about her decision to bail on the glamourous life of local news reporting, her cannabis club, and the legalization movement in Alaska.

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Eric Schmidt: Europe needs to accept and embrace disruption – Talking about the digital future of the European Union, Google’s Eric Schmidt sees large hurdles but lots of potential. He says a brighter future and a better economy are the promise of a digital EU.

Celebrate 20 years of ‘Friends’ with this Windows 95 ‘cyber sitcom’ starring Rachel and Chandler – On September 22nd, 1994 at 8:30PM, Friends premiered on NBC.You could celebrate by binge-watching all 236 episodes — that’s about four days’ worth of shenanigans in all — starting with “The One Where Monica Gets a New Roommate” (Rachel, wedding dress, Central Perk). Alternatively, you can watch this Windows 95 instructional video starring Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) and Matthew Perry (Chandler). The whole thing clocks in at just under an hour, but the only part you need to watch is the first section, “Cyber Sitcom.”

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Here’s how St. Louis police can ‘win the media’ after another Ferguson – As Gawker reports, the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy recently posted a flyer outlining a new course called “Officer-Involved Shooting — You Can Win The Media.” The one-day program will be led by former Chicago TV anchor Rick Rosenthal and promises to be a fun time for all, with “numerous video clips” and “NO PowerPoint!” Using the Michael Brown tragedy as a case study, attendees will learn about “feeding the animals,” “managing media assault and battery,” and “managing media when things get ugly (think Ferguson).” They’ll also realize that “no comment is a comment,” the flyer promises, while making the acquaintance of a “900-pound gorilla.”

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Weight loss firm demands $1 million from website hosting negative reviews – A Florida company selling an obesity product is suing a consumer website for hosting negative reviews of its dietary product. Roca Labs wants the US courts to award it in “excess” of $1 million in addition to blocking pissedconsumer.com from continuing the practice. The lawyer for the New York-based online review site told Ars on Monday that the lawsuit [PDF] was “bunk,” that its demands amount to a prior restraint of speech, and that the site itself is protected from defamation charges under the Communications Decency Act because it hosts the online review forum for others to use.

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Tiny robot learns to fly a real plane – The robot used by the team — Heejin Jeong, David Hyunchul Shim and Sungwook Cho — is actually an off-the-shelf humanoid Bioloid Premium by Robotis, modified to be able to work the controls of a cockpit simulation, scaled down to mini-robot size.

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Something to think about:

“All people want is someone to listen.”

-     Hugh Elliott

Today’s Free Downloads:

Plane9 – Plane9 is a revolutionary 3d visualizer where you never have to settle for just one view ever again.

From the start you have over 150 predefined scenes to choose from. The scenes can be combined with one another to form a near endless supply of new views to experience. If your feeling creative you can start up the editor and create new scenes that you can then share with the world.

The visualizer, including any scenes you create yourself, can be used either as a winamp plugin, a Windows Media Player plugin or sound sensitive screensaver that reacts to what your currently listening to, be it from Spotify, iTunes or any another music player.

Features:

Screensaver

Screensaver that reacts to what you are currently listening to including iTunes, Spotify or any other soundsource. (Vista & Windows 7 only)

Winamp visualizer

Windows Media Player visualizer

Detects when monitor goes into standby and shutsdown/pauses

Multimonitor support

150+ scenes

Graphical scene editor

Create and share your own scenes

60+ nodes ready for you own scene creation ideas

Free from all forms of time limits

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Flappy Bird 3 in 1 – Are you Bored? Have nothing to do? Then just Download this game and try to make as much score as you can in this remake of Flappy Bird!

Flappy Bird 3 in 1 is a Clone of the Original Flappy Bird which was made by Gears Studio

It has 3 Games:

Flappy Bird

Farty Bird

Coins and Bombs

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Australia’s Prime Minister Gives a Master Class in Exploiting Terrorism Fears to Seize New Powers – If you’re an Australian citizen, you have a greater chance of being killed by the following causes than you do by a terrorist attack: slipping in the bathtub and hitting your head; contracting a lethal intestinal illness from the next dinner you eat at a restaurant; being struck by lightning. In the post-9/11 era, there has been no terrorist attack carried out on Australian soil: not one. The attack that most affected Australians was the 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali which killed 88 of its citizens; that was 12 years ago.

Despite all that, Australia’s political class is in the midst of an increasingly unhinged fear-mongering orgy over terrorism. The campaign has two prongs: ISIS (needless to say: it’s now an all-purpose, global source of fear-manufacturing), and the weekend arrest of 15 people on charges that they planned to behead an unknown, random individual based on exhortations from an Australian member of ISIS.

The Australian government wasted no time at all exploiting this event to demand “broad new security powers to combat what it says is a rising threat from militant Islamists.” Even by the warped standards of the West’s 9/11 era liberty abridgments, these powers are extreme, including making it “a crime for an Australian citizen to travel to any area overseas once the government has declared it off limits.” Already pending in that country is a proposal by the attorney general to make it a criminal offense ”punishable by five years in jail for ‘any person who disclosed information relating to ‘special intelligence operations’”; the bill is clearly intended to outright criminalize WikiLeaks-and-Snowden-type reporting, and the government thus expressly refuses to exempt journalists.

This morning, Australia’s Liberal Party Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered a speech to the nation’s parliament that is a perfect distillation of the key post-9/11 pathologies of western democracies. It was a master class in how politicians shamelessly exploit terrorism fears to seize greater power.

Apple Still Has Plenty of Your Data for the Feds – In a much-publicized open letter last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged to protect user privacy with improved encryption on iPhones and iPads and a hard line toward government agents. It was a huge and welcome step toward thwarting the surveillance state, but it also seriously oversold Apple’s commitment to privacy.

Yes, Apple launched a tough-talking new privacy site and detailed a big improvement to encryption in its mobile operating system iOS 8: Text messages, photos, contacts, and call history are now encrypted with the user’s passcode, whereas previously they were not. This follows encryption improvements by Apple’s competitors Google and Yahoo.

But despite these nods to privacy-conscious consumers, Apple still strongly encourages all its users to sign up for and use iCloud, the internet syncing and storage service where Apple has the capability to unlock key data like backups, documents, contacts, and calendar information in response to a government demand. iCloud is also used to sync photos, as a slew of celebrities learned in recent weeks when hackers reaped nude photos from the Apple service. (Celebrity iCloud accounts were compromised when hackers answered security questions correctly or tricked victims into giving up their credentials via “phishing” links, Cook has said.)

While Apple’s harder line on privacy is a welcome change, it’s important to put it in context. Yes, a leading maker of smartphones, tablets, and laptops is now giving users better tools to lock down some of their most sensitive data. But those users have to know what they’re doing to reap the benefits of the new software and hardware — and in particular it helps if they ignore Apple’s own entreaties to share their data more widely.

The Great Firewall of China now blocks DuckDuckGo – It has come to light that China has blocked access to the privacy-oriented search engine, DuckDuckGo, since earlier this month.

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According to Tech In Asia, DuckDuckGo has been blocked in China making it the latest search engine to be blocked in China after Google. Chinese government uses strict internet filtering and the only other foreign search engines working in the country are Yahoo and Bing. They are forced to adhere to strict regulations in addition to using locally set up servers, as well.

DuckDuckGo has become popular in recent times for its uncensored search results and zero user data retention which is probably a good enough reason for China to block the search engine.

Shanghai authorities ban government officials’ use of iPhone – Authorities in Shanghai have banned the use of all foreign smartphones, including Apple’s popular iPhone, by government officials, according to a report from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Stories in several PRC media outlets noted the ban, which was announced during an economics forum held at Beijing University on Friday.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, pointed out the restriction in a tweet last week. “Shanghai authorities has [sic] ordered all cadres to use China-made smartphones only, a forum organized by [Beijing] University said Friday,” the publication said.

A fleshed out report on cecb2b.com, a Chinese-language website that tracks the country’s component manufacturing sector, added that the announcement was made by Wei Jianguo, former vice minister of the government’s Ministry of Commerce. Citing national and network security issues with smartphones from foreign manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung, Wei said that Shanghai’s government had ordered all members of its cadre to use only devices made by Huawei, the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer, behind only Samsung and Apple.

In China, “cadre” is a term roughly equivalent to “civil service,” although a cadre is often, but not always, also a Communist Party member.

The cecb2b.com story also repeated previous allegations that Apple’s products specifically, and U.S. products in general, posed security threats to China.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 22, 2014

Home Depot breach totals: 56 million credit cards exposed, $62 million in losses;  Microsoft is doubling OneDrive’s free storage, here is how to get it;  How to turn on Android encryption;  Instapaper Goes Freemium, Adds Text-to-Speech Feature;  10 Tips For Good Smartphone Photography;  The best weather apps for Android;  Two free tools to lock down chat apps;  Netflix Is Finally Coming To Linux;  31 ways to boost your iPhone’s battery life;  Hack runs Android apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers;  eBay scam listings redirect users to phishing websites;  Anatomy of an Android Gamer;  The killer PC games of holiday 2014: A comprehensive guide;  Microsoft fights app gap perception with new videos;  Bill would limit reach of US search warrants for data stored abroad.

Home Depot breach totals: 56 million credit cards exposed, $62 million in losses – Lots of people who speculated about the credit card data breach at the Home Depot turned out to be wrong. But those who suggested that Home Depot’s breach might end up bigger than Target’s turned out to be spot on.

Microsoft is doubling OneDrive’s free storage, here is how to get it – Microsoft has announced that they are doubling all of the free storage on mobile platforms if you enable the auto-upload feature to backup your photos; but you have to act quick to get the offer.

Swiftkey keyboard app shoots to top of iTunes charts – Known for its powers of predictive typing, the app now ranks No. 1 among all free iPhone apps in Apple’s App Store. Swiftkey offers predictive typing, so as you type the first few characters of a word, it displays a list of suggested words. Simply tap the correct word to insert it without having to type it in full. The more you use the app, the more it learns your writing style and and the better it can predict what you want to type. Swiftkey also offers different keyboard layouts, skin colors and emoji characters.

Samsung launches free’My Knox’ app for securing its latest smartphones – My Knox can be installed on a user’s Galaxy S5 or Galaxy Note 4 smartphone without an IT administrator’s involvement to set up a My Knox User Portal to remotely find, wipe and lock a device, according to a Samsung blog. With My Knox, professionals can synchronize emails, calendar events and contacts between desktop computers and mobile devices, Samsung said. It creates a virtual Android partition within the mobile device that has its own home screen, launcher, apps and widget.

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Android L will turn on encryption by default – The pre-release window for Android L continues to be full of surprises. The new Android OS, due out before the end of the year, is set to encrypt device data by default, a first for the Android universe—but it’ll probably be a while before default encryption comes to every Android user.

How to turn on Android encryption today (no waiting necessary) – Google’s new Android encryption policy is great, but you don’t necessarily need to wait for an OS update to protect your data from investigators, be they government snoops or someone you know.

Windows 9’s Preview May Not Touch Down Until October – Remember that upcoming Windows 9 event that Microsoft is hosting on September 30? It might not mark the actual release of Windows 9’s technical preview, as was long expected. According to Paul Thurrott, that bit of code might not become available until October.

The best weather apps for Android – With fall approaching, it’s a good time to ensure you have the best weather information at the ready. There are plenty of options for Android: Google Now, widgets, persistent notifications, and the old-school method of opening an app. We parsed through the Play Store to find the best options for figuring out if you need to pack an umbrella, grab a jacket, or bundle up.

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iOS 8 problems not so magical: Slow, Laggy, Bloaty, Crashy, Buggy, Drainy and Doc – iOS 8 problems have reared their ugly heads, bang on cue. Early-adopting iMagicMirror owners are finding their devices suffering some seriously poisoned Apple.

TechSpot: 10 Tips For Good Smartphone Photography – We’ve laid out ten tips for taking good photos on a smartphone. Read on and you’ll be well on your way to producing some awesome shots from a fairly limited camera platform.

Instapaper Goes Freemium, Adds Text-to-Speech Feature – Instapaper has gone freemium—great news for those who want to take advantage of the app’s “save interesting things you want to read later” features without coughing up a monthly subscription fee to do so. The switch is part of a series of updates to the service that were officially announced on Instapaper’s blog this past week. The process of saving an unlimited number of article and videos for later viewing (across any device on which the Instapaper app is installed, we note) will no longer cost a user anything—no $3 or $4 fee to download the app itself.

Hack runs Android apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers – If you remember, about a week ago, Google gave Chrome OS the ability to run Android apps through the “App Runtime for Chrome.” The release came with a lot of limitations—it only worked with certain apps and only worked on Chrome OS. But a developer by the name of “Vladikoff” has slowly been stripping away these limits. First he figured out how to load any app on Chrome OS, instead of just the four that are officially supported. Now he’s made an even bigger breakthrough and gotten Android apps to work on any desktop OS that Chrome runs on. You can now run Android apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

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The official Android Twitter app running on Mac OS.

Netflix Is Finally Coming To Linux Without The Need For Hacky Tricks – If you’re sitting in the itty-bitty overlapping sliver on the Venn Diagram of “People who use Ubuntu” and “People who can’t figure out how to use user agent spoofing and other trickery to make Netflix work on Ubuntu” — Good news! Netflix is likely (finally) coming to Ubuntu soon.

Google is no longer forcing new users into making Google+ accounts – Google has lifted its requirement that new Google users also create a Google+ account, Marketing Land reports. When you sign up for a Gmail, Google Docs, or other Google account, a new “No thanks” button lets you opt out of Google’s social network.

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Image via Marketing Land

Two free tools to lock down chat apps – If you’ve handed out Android phones for work, or you have a need to add a layer of privacy to your Android chat applications, there are plenty of ways you can accomplish this. One way is to install app lockers specifically for chat apps and other social networking tools. Two such apps I have found are Chat App Lock and Messenger and Chat Lock. Each of these applications will help you lock down those apps and services you do not want just everyone to gain access to.

31 ways to boost your iPhone’s battery life – Apple’s latest iPhones don’t pack nearly as much power as their nearest competitors. By tweaking iOS 8, you can improve your iPhone’s battery life considerably.

Security:

The Home Depot reportedly ignored warnings from its own cybersecurity team – Former members of the company’s cybersecurity teams spoke to the Times, and said that The Home Depot was slow to respond to vulnerabilities, and shrugged off warnings that it would be easy prey for hackers. Former employees also said that the company used outdated security software, which led to some of them even warning friends to use cash instead of credit cards at Home Depot stores. To make matters worse, The Home Depot’s former security boss, Ricky Joe Mitchell, was recently sentenced to four years in prison for “deliberately disabling computers” at his previous company, the Times reports.

eBay scam listings redirect users to phishing websites – Scam listings on eBay have been spotted in recent times, redirecting users to a phishing website in an attempt to get their login credentials. A user would click on a link, only to be taken to a website that looked identical to eBay — unfortunately, more than one listing was discovered.

The Fappening has fappened again; more naked celeb leaks surface – Three weeks after the original round of leaks showing dozens of celebrities in compromising poses went online, it appears that another batch has leaked which include previous and other celebs.

Apple’s iOS 8 fixes enterprise Wi-Fi authentication hijacking flaw – A weakness in Apple’s Wi-Fi implementation could give hackers access to enterprise wireless networks, researchers said.

Company News:

Alibaba shares close first day of trading at $93.89 – In their first day of trading, shares of Alibaba stock opened at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, an increase of more than 35 percent over the $68 initial public offering price. The company raised $21.8 billion in its U.S. IPO, making it one of the largest IPOs ever. It’s close to the historic $22 billion raised by the Agricultural Bank of China in 2010, and beats the $18 billion raised by Visa in 2008.

Renewed talk of Yahoo as acquisition target after Alibaba IPO – With Alibaba’s IPO making big winners of the Chinese e-commerce giant and Japan-based stakeholder SoftBank, what are the odds that one of them buys Yahoo?

Microsoft fights app gap perception with new videos – Microsoft’s app stores have often been accused of lacking quality apps and that they are lower quality than their Apple and Google counterparts but Microsoft hopes to change that image in new videos.

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Games and Entertainment:

The killer PC games of holiday 2014: A comprehensive guide – Sure, February 2015 is shaping up to be a rocking month for PC gamers, but after the deluge of delays, are there any games left to launch this year ? Yes. Oh yes—in fact, there’s a lot of them. Read on to find out about the most intriguing PC games coming out by the end of the year, in helpful chronological order of release. From new Borderlands to new Civilization to Alien: Isolation and beyond, there’s a veritable flood of gaming goodness inbound.

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‘The Nightmare Cooperative’ Mixes a Roguelike RPG With a Puzzler – Video games have gotten rather easy in recent years. It’s almost impossible to actually die in most titles, but there’s a movement to bring back the punishing difficulty and heartbreak of yesteryear. The proliferation of Roguelike games including Solomon’s Boneyard, Cardinal Quest, and Pixel Dungeon are a manifestation of this trend. Now there’s a new delightfully aggravating dungeon adventure on mobile devices. It’s called The Nightmare Cooperative and you can get it on iOS and Android.

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Bungie did something incredible with Destiny’s UI – Bungie created a gorgeous UI which is essentially an evolution of the nearly universally despised Windows 8 Metro user interface.

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The first games that show off iOS 8’s graphics are available for download – With iOS 8, Apple introduced a new tool for game developers which gives them better ways to take advantage of the A7 and A8 processors. It’s called “Metal,” a play on the common way of describing coding that’s “close to the metal” of the processor instead of abstracted through layers of programming. Now that iOS 8 is available, Apple has put together a special section of the iTunes App Store to showcase the half-dozen or so games that take advantage of Metal.

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Anatomy of an Android Gamer – You game. I game. We all game. And if we’re Android gamers, then we play games on our devices for an average of 37 minutes a day, according to data from mobile analytics and advertising firm Flurry. That’s a global figure, however. If you’re a resident of the U.S. and play games on your Android device, you spend an average of about an hour engaged in your digital pursuit (51.8 minutes, specifically). If you live in China, you likely spend an average of 28.6 minutes tapping away—the last country in Flurry’s top 10 list.

You Should Play: Pako – With crashes, high-speed chases, and hairpin turns, Pako is not just your average endless runner. It is an endless getaway game, where escape is impossible—how long until your car chase ends in a crash depends upon your skill. Pako has five different maps to choose from with different vehicles and obstacles, but your goal is always the same: Drive to stay alive. If the twist on a classic style of gameplay isn’t enough to interest you, here are three other reasons why you should check it out.

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The complete guide to streaming games on Twitch –  Interested in broadcasting your gameplay to the world? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about setting up a Twitch game stream.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Let’s Fix The Internet – I hate to be the one to tell you this, but: we, the people of the Internet, have collectively run up a colossal amount of technical debt. Much of our online infrastructure consists of band-aid and/or legacy Rube Goldberg solutions hacked together with bubble gum and baling wire; and the only way to pay back technical debt is to fix it. The good news is, we’re finally doing just that.

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Royal Observatory announces the winners of its 2013 photography contest – Each year, the UK’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich runs an Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest. Yesterday, the Observatory announced the winners of its 2013 version, the winners of which will be on display, making it worth a visit if you’re anywhere near London. We’ve brought you some of the winners of microscopy contests in the past; this gives us the chance to feature things at the opposite end of the scale, from planets to galaxies.

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The history of the Predator, the drone that changed the world (Q&A) – Longtime Pentagon correspondent Richard Whittle investigated the unmanned aircraft that gave the military the ability to attack targets from the other side of the world. He talked to CNET about the drone.

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UK Engineers 3D Print Their Own Raspberry Pi Laptop – Is there anything a robotic system for the extrusion of plastic in to solid forms over time can’t do? We present to you today the Pi-Top, a Raspberry Pi-based laptop that is completely 3D-printed and lasts hours on a single charge. The kit, which will launch as a Kickstarter soon, offers a 13.3-inch screen and a little keyboard and trackpad combo for data entry. Viola! A little open source computer for you and yours. The project is the brainchild of a group of UK-based designers. They built the system using PLA filament, and it took over 160 hours to print.

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Homeless, wearing GoPros, capture ‘life as it is rarely seen’ – A San Francisco project outfits homeless volunteers with personal camera rigs for shooting first-person footage of daily life. The goal is to build empathy,” Homeless GoPro says.

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“People see me like I am a garbage, which hurts me,” says Homeless GoPro autobiographer Silas, a veteran who has suffered seizures since being injured in combat. Pictured with him is project volunteer Naoko Morikawa.

Something to think about:

“Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.”

-       Isaac Asimov

Today’s Free Downloads:

NirSoft Utilities Panel – NirSoft Utilities Panel is an experimental Web page that contains icons with links to all major NirSoft Utilities as exe files. When you move the mouse over the desired icon, you’ll see the current version and the last update date of the utility.

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The graphic reflects a partial listing of available applications. Be aware – since many of these applications replicate hacking behaviour, you can expect your AV to respond with a warning.

SplitCam webcam software – SplitCam webcam software offers cool webcam effects for having more positive emotions during video calls with your friends! Additionally SplitCam is the easiest way to split your webcam video stream. With SplitCam you can video chat with all your friends, SplitCam is also live video streaming software – stream your video to any IMs and video services and all this at the same time!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Bill would limit reach of US search warrants for data stored abroad – Proposed legislation unveiled Thursday seeks to undermine the Obama administration’s position that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even when that data is stored on overseas servers.

The bipartisan Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act) [PDF] comes in response to a federal judge’s July decision ordering Microsoft to turn over e-mails stored on its Irish servers as part of a Department of Justice drug investigation. The Department of Justice argued that global jurisdiction is necessary in an age when “electronic communications are used extensively by criminals of all types in the United States and abroad, from fraudsters to hackers to drug dealers, in furtherance of violations of US law.” New York US District Judge Loretta Preska agreed, ruling that “it is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information.” The decision is stayed pending appeal.

Microsoft, along with a slew of other companies, maintains that the Obama administration’s position in the case puts US tech companies into conflict with foreign data protection laws. And it fears that if the court decision stands, foreigners could lose more confidence in US companies’ cloud and tech offerings, especially in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

Under the new proposal by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Dean Heller (R-NV), the US could still reach into global servers with a US search warrant, but it would be limited to obtaining Americans’ data. If the US government wants a foreigner’s data stored on foreign servers, it would have to follow the legal process of the nation where the servers reside.

Sen. Coons said that the US government’s position in the Microsoft case “hurts our businesses’ competitiveness and costs American jobs.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 19, 2014

Apple expands data encryption under iOS 8, making handover to cops moot;  Google to encrypt data by default on new version of Android;  Major studios pressure Netflix to block VPN access;  No, a new feature in iOS 8 does not let you charge an iPhone in the Microwave;  Tracking social media mentions: 4 tools;  Alternatives to Google’s $100 Android One in Asia;  Amazon, Apple – families share apps and media across devices;  Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition: rubber bumpers, free replacements;  Get started making Android apps with these online courses;  Infographic: U.S. iPhone Repair Bills Top $10.7B;  Home Depot: 56 million cards compromised;  Meet the Master Boot Record;  Get DLC-Packed ‘Need for Speed Rivals’ Complete Edition on Oct. 21;  All The Best iPhone Parody Videos In One Place;  Distracted driving laws stretch to your smartwatch;  BitTorrent Sync (free);  The CIA’s secret journal articles are gossipy, snarky, and no longer classified.

Apple expands data encryption under iOS 8, making handover to cops moot – Apple has updated its privacy policy as part of the rollout of iOS 8, announcing that devices with the latest version of the operating system installed can no longer be accessed by the company itself. Previously, as we reported in May 2014, if law enforcement came to Apple with a seized device and a valid warrant, it was able to access a substantial portion of the data already on an iPad or iPhone. But under the latest version of iOS, even that will be impossible.

Google to encrypt data by default on new version of Android – Encryption has been optional since 2011, but Android L, due out later this year, will include activation procedures for automatic encryption.

Major studios pressure Netflix to block VPN access – Gee, thanks Hollywood. In a bid to protect their rights at all costs—including the cost of consumers’ legitimate rights—major movie studios are reportedly pressuring Netflix to block VPN (Virtual Private Network) users from accessing its U.S. Site. The reason? The major studios are upset that up to 200,000 Aussies are accessing Netflix U.S. by using VPNs to hide their geographic locations, thus violating the studios’ content ownership rights.

Regular Facebook Users Are More Likely To Fall For Phishing Scams – Researchers at SUNY Buffalo have found that habitual Facebook users — those who are on the site more frequently than their peers — were more susceptible to phishing scams. How did they figure this out? By asking them about their habits and then surreptitiously creating a fake friend who then asked them for private information, including their student ID number and date of birth.

No, a new feature in iOS 8 does not let you charge an iPhone in the Microwave – Gullible iPhone users have fallen foul to a hoax that is trending on Twitter that claims you can “quickly charge” your iPhone in any “standard household Microwave” but it’s all fantasy.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook to push real-time stories to the top of News Feed – Facebook on Thursday said it plans to take into account trending topics and when people like a story to determine what to show you and when to show it. How this will work: When someone posts a status update related to a topic currently trending on Facebook, the network will display the post at the top of your News Feed so you see it sooner. Same goes for types of posts that attract a slew of likes, comments, and shares when they’re first posted, but later drop off. That indicates that the update is timely and should be surfaced to the top of your feed.

Tracking social media mentions: 4 tools – People are talking about your brand– or at least you hope, right? If you’re trying to keep up with the chatter, there are more than a few ways to do that. Keep up with the chatter surrounding your brand with these 4 tools.

How to clean your Windows Temp folder – Windows temporary files can stack up and waste storage space. Here’s how to check for clutter and clean it out.

Alternatives to Google’s $100 Android One in Asia – The new Android One phones may cost just $100, but there are cheaper phones in the market that are equally competitive and offer similar value.

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You may have not heard of the Samsung Galaxy V, but its low price of $98 makes it the perfect entry level device in developing markets.

Amazon, Apple updates let families share apps and media across devices – As long as everyone can agree on an operating system, Apple and Amazon are making it possible for families to share their apps and media across devices, making it just as easy to share a digital book as it is to share a physical one. It allows families with multiple Macs and iOS devices to access the same apps, movies, TV shows, music, and books, even if they’re using separate accounts. It also lets children ask permission to buy an app remotely, letting parents approve or decline the purchase from their own devices.

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Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition: rubber bumpers, free replacements – Amazon has introduced a slew of new devices tonight, not the least of which is the Fire HD Kids Edition — a powerful tablet Amazon says it made “from the ground up” specifically for kids. Its child-centric aspects include both design, which is understandably robust with bumpers, and content, which includes Amazon FreeTime Unlimited.

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Facebook Won’t Budge On Letting Drag Queens Keep Their Names – Facebook will not be changing its real-name policy for the drag queen community. San Francisco drag queens met with representatives from the company yesterday afternoon to talk through a recent mass deletion of their personal profile pages. Facebook started deleting accounts of hundreds of members of the drag community last week after deciding these profiles were in violation of the policy.

Drag queens force Facebook to reevaluate real names – Facebook recently began cracking down on well-known San Francisco drag queens who use their performer names on the network instead of their birth names, going so far as to delete profiles, which has caused widespread outrage in the city’s LBGTQ community. Facebook reps met with some of the affected drag queens and city Supervisor David Campos Wednesday night, but it doesn’t look like the network will be changing its policy any time soon. That’s unfortunate. It isn’t just drag queens who eschew their birth names on the network. There are plenty of reasons you might want to use a different moniker or a variation on your given name. What if you have a stalker or a crazy ex?

Get started making Android apps with these online courses – Have you thought of building your own Android app? It’s not as insurmountable a challenge as you may think. There are many online free resources to get you started with the world of code. Others will cost money, but the fees are generally less than what you would pay to enroll in a university course or program. Better yet, most of these platforms offer an Android app to continue your work when away from the desktop.

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Infographic: U.S. iPhone Repair Bills Top $10.7B – It turns out a damaged iPhone can cost more than your pride: According to a new study, totaled Apple smartphones have cost Americans $10.7 billion since their introduction in 2007. About $4.8 billion of that damage happened in the last two years. Factor in Android, Windows, and BlackBerry handsets, and you’re looking at a whopping $23.5-plus billion in repairs and replacements over seven years.

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5 more killer features Windows 9 should steal from Linux – If the latest Windows 9 leaks are any indication, some of the operating system’s coolest new features will look a lot like what Linux users already enjoy: Like the virtual desktops Linux users have had since the 90’s, and a centralized notification center like the one available in GNOME Shell. But there are other great Linux features Microsoft should copy, too. And hey, I’m not just complaining here—Windows would legitimately be better if they stole these features.

Photos: Robots and drones – here’s what Intel’s answer to the Raspberry Pi can do – A walk through the electronics projects that people are cooking up using Intel’s $50 Edison board.

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Security:

Home Depot: 56 million cards compromised – Home Depot’s data breach has many consumers worried. If you’ve used a credit card at Home Depot since April of this year, there is a chance you have been compromised. According to Home Depot, 56 million cards were affected, which is the largest breach of 2014.

Large malvertising campaign under way involving DoubleClick and Zedo – Earlier today, we warned people that both The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post were affected by a malvertising attack. It appears that this is a much larger and ongoing campaign that is affecting a number of other popular websites. The reason this is really big is because it involves doubleclick.net (a subsidiary of Google for online ads) and Zedo (a popular advertising agency).

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BTW, if you’re not familiar with Malwarebytes’ free security application – Malwarebytes Anti Exploit – you can download it here – Malwarebytes.

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Malwarebytes Anti Exploit running on a personal system – protecting the 2 Browsers I’ve currently got running.

Healthcare.gov still lacks some basic security controls – Healthcare.gov lacks several basic cybersecurity controls — including strong passwords and consistent security patching — nearly a year after the troubled launch of the insurance-shopping website, a government auditor said. The website, a centerpiece of the 2010 insurance reform package the Affordable Care Act, does not have a complete system security plan in place, said a report released Thursday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Meet the Master Boot Record – MBR is short for Master Boot Record. Typically, the MBR is the first sector on a startup drive (or other partitioned media). Sometimes it’s referred to as Master Partition Table, because, among others, it contains the location of every partition on a hard drive. So, in essence it is the first code that gets executed after the BIOS has done its job. This is where malware comes into play. Being the first code to get executed gives you an advantage in the arms race between malware and anti-malware.

Company News:

Oracle Stock Drops 2.5% On News That Larry Ellison Has Relinquished His CEO Title – Today after the bell, Oracle announced that its long-time premier Larry Ellison is no longer its CEO. Former HP CEO Mark Hurd will take over the job in partnership with Safra Catz. Catz will manage finance and manufacturing, while Hurd will handle sales. Ellison will take on the titles of Executive Chairman of the Board and CTO. Hurd left HP under negative circumstances, including allegations of sexual harassment.

Chinese e-tailer Alibaba prices IPO at $68, raising $21.8B – The online shopping company set its stock price at $68 a share Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal, making for the largest US initial public offering ever. The company raised $21.8 billion from the IPO, a portion of which will go to investors like former CEO Jack Ma, Softbank and Yahoo. The additional capital will be critical to Alibaba’s plans to bolster its quickly growing and dominant business in China, as well as make inroads into other markets. That includes the US, where the e-commerce juggernaut’s path will take it toe-to-toe with major US players such as Amazon and eBay.

With Alibaba windfall, all eyes on Yahoo’s Mayer – The IPO promises to be one of the biggest events in Yahoo’s recent history. But after the expected multibillion-dollar windfall, the company’s going to be under intense pressure to improve performance.

Toshiba throttling down consumer PC efforts – Toshiba has always made solid PC hardware, but finding one of their devices may be a bit tough moving forward. Toshiba is announcing they are scaling down their consumer PC efforts, and pulling out of some markets entirely. The company is also cutting 900 jobs, or just over 20% of its non-manufacturing PC workforce.

Verizon, enemy of Open Internet rules, says it loves the “open Internet” – No company has gone to greater lengths than Verizon in trying to stop the government from enforcing network neutrality rules. Verizon is the company that sued to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order from 2010. Verizon won a federal appeals court ruling this year, overturning anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules and setting off a months-long scramble by the FCC to get enforceable rules into place. Verizon has also been spending money to press its case with lawmakers. “An analysis by San Francisco-based data firm Quid found that Verizon alone spent $100 million to lobby Congress on net neutrality since 2009,” NPR reported yesterday. As the FCC nears the end of its new rulemaking process, Verizon is trying to convince the public that it loves the “open Internet” after all.

Mysterious entity acquires TwitPic, saving it from death – TwitPic, the image-hosting company that two weeks ago said it would shut down after a trademark dispute with Twitter, has apparently been acquired, keeping its service alive. “We’re happy to announce we’ve been acquired and TwitPic will live on!” the company said Thursday in—and why not—a tweet. TwitPic said it will provide more details when it can disclose them. It didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ericsson quits modem business, cuts 1,000 jobs – The world’s biggest mobile network equipment maker will shutter its loss-making unit, in the process handing pink slips to about 1,000 employees.

Games and Entertainment:

It’s Not Enough To Make ‘Good’ Video Games Anymore – The sprawling but just OK Destiny proves that all the money in the world can’t make people like you. Mid-tier games find themselves unfairly marginalized for having a few nuts and bolts loose despite, generally, being a lot of fun. So, go on, embrace the mid-tier.

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Destiny

Get DLC-Packed ‘Need for Speed Rivals’ Complete Edition on Oct. 21 – Just in case you missed this big launch title for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One—or happened to overlook it on all the other consoles it was released for—Electronic Arts is taking its Need for Speed Rivals game and repackaging it into a brand-new release. The new iteration, dubbed Need for Speed Rivals Complete Edition, will arrive on Oct. 21. And, yes, it’s going to hit just about everyone: both major PlayStation and Xbox consoles and PC gamers.

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Shadowrun’s Dragonfall expansion tweaked, released as stand-alone Director’s Cut – Remember earlier this year when I said, “Dragonfall is the campaign [Shadowrun Returns] should’ve shipped with from the start.” Okay, maybe you don’t remember, but I swear I said it. Well, a lot of people must’ve felt the same way because Thursday, Harebrained Schemes released Shadowrun: Dragonfall as a standalone product, so those who just want to play the expansion can do so.

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8 Things Bungie’s Destiny Does Very Well – Destiny is an imperfect game, we know that much now. But it’s still a pretty good one as console shooters go. Bungie’s quasi-multiplayer sci-fi romp catches more balls than it fumbles, and whatever else you want to say about its hackneyed story or over-easy enemies or worshipful replication of Halo gameplay fundamentals, I keep coming back to play a little more.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Distracted driving laws stretch to your smartwatch – Thinking of smartwatches as sidestepping smartphones is a novel concept, but lawmakers in the UK are asking that we take a step back from that. The Department for Transportation there is asking drivers to think about how a smartwatches an contribute to distracted driving, just like a smartphone can. In fact, they’ll go after you all the same if you cause an accident.

One More Thing… All The Best iPhone Parody Videos In One Place – Whether you’re on Team Apple or Team Android, one thing remains true. When Apple releases a new iPhone, the tech media world goes nuts. And it’s not just about hands-on videos and analytical looks and bug reports and sales stats — fortunately, there are some hilarious people out there to remind us just how silly iPhone fever is. That said, we’ve compiled a few of the best parody videos on the internet for your viewing pleasure.

The Navy flew its new drone across the U.S. Wednesday night – The U.S. Navy’s new surveillance drone completed its first cross-country flight across the United States Wednesday night. The MQ-4C Triton took off from Northrop Grumman’s airfield in Palmdale, California, Wednesday evening and flew along the southern U.S. border and the Gulf of Mexico and Florida before turning north to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. It landed just before 8 a.m. Eastern time, about 11 hours after takeoff, according to Naval Air Systems Command. Northrop Grumman released video of the flight.

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Lens-less camera, costing pennies, brings vision to the Internet of Things – There’s a type of camera technology emerging with a view of the world similar to what a honey bee sees. The images appear blurry and hazy, but if you’re a bee, good enough for finding flowers and people to sting. It could also be perfect for the Internet of Things by making it cheap to add vision capability to just about anything. That’s the idea put forth by Rambus, a company that designs technologies and then licenses them, for its lens-less sensor. The sensor captures light and relies on computation to shape the data into an image that’s good enough to tell whether someone is in a room or a door has been left open. It can also be used to activate an optical lens if a higher-resolution image is needed.

3DPlusMe will 3D print you as a superhero starting tomorrow – Fancy yourself a superhero? Marvel and Hasbro have kicked off a new partnership with 3DPlusMe that will allow anyone to get their face 3D-printed on a superhero’s body…assuming they’re near one of the Walmarts or Sam’s Clubs that are participating.

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Geek Answers: Is it OK to pee in the ocean? – We hear a lot about the collective environmental impact that people can have — sure for you it’s just a shiny shell you picked up off the beach, but what if everybody did the same? Many a detention-shy youngster has had it pounded into their heads: everything you do to nature is, by definition, bad. Walking on grass? Bad for the grass. Tilling some soil? Bad for the bunny rabbits. But oddly enough, one of the more heinous activities in which a person could engage in regular society, public urination, might just be kosher. Though it might seem odd, taking the lazy way out and avoiding a sandy walk back to an outhouse really isn’t an unethical decision at all.

To mock Yelp, restaurant asks customers for awful reviews – A Richmond, Calif., restaurant is so fed up with what it calls Yelp’s “blackmailing” tactics, that it wants to become the very worst on the site.

Hamster-wheel standing desk: Embrace the rodent race – Why should hamsters have all the fun? Follow an Instructables guide for making your own standing desk with a human-size hamster wheel for exercise.

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Something to think about:

“The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself.”

-     James Thurber

Today’s Free Downloads:

BitTorrent Sync – Share directly from device to device. No cloud. No limits.

Sync uses advanced peer-to-peer technology to share files between devices. No cloud is required. This means there are no accounts, no file size limits, and transfer speeds are never throttled. You are free to share anything and everything you have.

Sync is a powerful and flexible application that equips users to get the job done. It is simple enough to share photos with friends, and powerful enough to sync terabytes of video between co-workers.

Sync is built from the ground up to ensure that you are in always in complete control of your files. Data is transferred directly from device to device. Files are never duplicated on to third party servers. Every connection is encrypted and secured against prying eyes.

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Carroll – Small utility allows you to set a different screen resolution for every user. After logon the screen resolution will be changed to the stored setting.

Carroll is started automatically for every user. At the first time, the application shows all available screen resolution. Select the desired screen resolution and click ‘Change screen resolution and restore with every logon’. Next time, Carroll changes the screen resolution automatically without displaying the user interface.

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Frogger Remake – Go old school with this remake of the classic Frogger game.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

AFTER LYING AND APOLOGIZING, BRENNAN QUALIFIES BOTH – CIA Director John Brennan today petulantly denied that he lied in March when he publicly insisted that the CIA had not improperly accessed the computers of Senate staffers investigating the agency’s role in torturing detainees.

Since then, an  internal investigation found the CIA had done just that, and Brennan was forced to apologize to Senate intelligence committee members.

In March, Brennan told Andrea Mitchell  at a Council on Foreign Relations event: “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth… We wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we do.”

But on Thursday, facing questions at an industry trade conference, Brennan carefully parsed his earlier statement, insisting that he had only been  denying the parts of Mitchell’s question that involved accusations of hacking with the intent to thwart the investigation.

CLAPPER DENIES LYING, ANNOUNCES NEW ETHICS POLICY – An unapologetic James Clapper bristled at accusations of misconduct in front of a trade group today, announced that he intends to continue serving as national intelligence director through the rest of the Obama presidency, and released a new “National Intelligence Strategy” that includes a “Code of Ethics” that seems disconnected from the reality of intelligence collection as revealed by Edward Snowden.

Speaking in public, but in a friendly setting, Clapper mocked the notion of intelligence collection without risk, the potential for embarrassment or invasion of privacy. He snidely called it “Immaculate Collection.” (see NBC video.)

Clapper also confirmed a report that, in commemoration of Constitution Day, he led his staff this week in two separate “re-administrations” of the oath of office to the Constitution, which he characterized as a good bonding experience, rather than an urgently needed recommitment to observing the constitutional rights of Americans.

“While we’ve made mistakes, to be clear, the IC [intelligence community] never willfully violated the law,” he insisted.

And he complained bitterly of being “accused of lying to Congress.”

THE CIA’S SECRET JOURNAL ARTICLES ARE GOSSIPY, SNARKY, AND NO LONGER CLASSIFIED – The CIA declassified a trove of articles from its in-house journal, articles that mock excessive secrecy and bad writing, dish on problematic affairs, and brag about press manipulation.

FRENCH CRIME DATABASE BREACHES PRIVACY RIGHTS, EU COURT RULES – The human rights court objects to storing data for 20 years in a criminal database when charges were dropped.

SNOWDEN’S NSA LEAKS HAVE GALVANISED THE STORAGE WORLD – Anyone following the fortunes of the world’s biggest technology companies will have noticed a trend: every one of them has gone potty for privacy.

This is not out of some sudden moral urge but because their futures depend on proving that they are good at protecting people’s personal data.

The Edward Snowden leaks, in particular the revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM project, which saw the intelligence agency hoover up data from servers at Google, Facebook, Microsoft and many others, have brought about this predilection for privacy.

It is not just the average consumer the tech titans have to pander to either. Businesses have clear concerns about who can access their information and whether they have a Snowden-type character in their ranks.

Apple omits ‘warrant canary’ from latest transparency reports; Patriot Act data demands likely made – Apple has removed text from its latest transparency reports, which suggests that the company has received a top secret data demand.

These so-called “warrant canaries” can be issued ahead of a Patriot Act demand, because technology companies are not allowed to disclose whether or not they have received such an order. Apple, however, preemptively asserted it “never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act,” in its debut transparency report in November 2013.

That text has now been removed from its latest two reports, suggesting Apple has, in the second-half of 2013 onwards, received such an order.

Apple does add in its latest report covering the first-half of 2014 that, “To date, Apple has not received any orders for bulk data,” suggesting a broad-ranging warrant was not served.

Patriot Act requests are highly controversial. Section 215 particularly raises eyebrows, as it allows the National Security Agency to hand over “all tangible things,” including customer data and business records.

By going to the secretive Washington D.C.-based Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the government’s go-to court for surveillance requests, a Section 215 order can be filed in secret, and force a company, like Apple, to hand over data.

The “bulk metadata” program, which forced phone giant Verizon to hand over on an ongoing basis its entire store of phone call data, was authorized under Section 215. The program was first disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 18, 2014

Browser comparison: How the five leaders stack up in speed, ease of use and more;  Security: Users show more paranoia than practical skills;  The complete guide to iOS 8;  The five most common tech support nightmares;  Seven privacy settings you should change immediately in iOS 8;  30-Second Tech Trick: Send Money from Gmail;  California passes “landmark bill” to protect students’ personal data;  Twitter is run by potheads, suggests famed investor Thiel;  Apple said to be unveiling new iPads on Oct. 21;  Samsung’s curved display brings flex to your desktop;  Presenting the 6 absolute best gaming mice of 2014;  Halo: Reach is now free on Xbox 360 (if you’ve got Xbox Live Gold);  Destiny sales exceed $325M in first five days;  Facebook meets with LGBT community over real-name policy;  Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google.

California passes “landmark bill” to protect students’ personal data – There’s a lot at stake: think student records that cover attendance, grades, discipline, health, academics, intimate details about family members, parent and student contact information, biometrics, and sometimes even a child’s geolocation.

Browser comparison: How the five leaders stack up in speed, ease of use and more – Do you like your browser fast, easy on system resources, or simple to use? We tested Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari, and found surprising differences on these measures.

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You can now try BitTorrent’s secure chat app Bleep – With revelations of government surveillance continuing to roll in, BitTorrent decided late last year that it was high time someone made a chat client that would let people communicate in a secure way without actually having to know a whole lot about security. The result of that project is coming out today in the form of a public alpha release: it’s a chat client called BitTorrent Bleep, and BitTorrent says that it will allow people “to speak freely without worrying about who might be eavesdropping.” Bleep keeps messages encrypted for their entire ride, so theoretically only their sender and receiver should be able to see them.

Security: Users show more paranoia than practical skills – Users are still clinging to hopes for the best without preparing for the worst, even with two-factor authentication and identity management advancements.

The five most common tech support nightmares – Every user of tech products has a story. They contact tech support or customer service, waste a lot of time, and end up no better off than they started. Sometimes, they end up worse. To make you more aware of the most common tech support fails, here are five common experiences that drive customers crazy.

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The complete guide to iOS 8 – iOS 8 looks to be one of the biggest updates to Apple’s mobile platform, since the launch the App Store, with new features galore. Learn how to use the latest in iOS.

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

30-Second Tech Trick: Send Money from Gmail – For when saying, “Sorry I ate your plants. I was drunk,” isn’t enough.

Amazon Announces New Fire Tablets, E-Ink Kindles And A Special Fire For Kids – Amazon released six new devices today with an eye on shipping them before the holiday season. The collection, which ranges from a new e-ink tablet called the Voyage to an 8.9-inch tablet that is lighter than the iPad Air and features Fire OS 4.0, an OS based on KitKat, is designed for reading, work and play. There’s also a new Kindle for kids that includes a $25 case and free parental control software and apps.

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Twitter is run by potheads, suggests famed investor Thiel –  Iconoclastic investor Peter Thiel says Twitter is horribly mismanaged because there’s “probably a lot of pot-smoking” there.

Samsung’s curved display brings flex to your desktop – You’d be forgiven for thinking that if you wanted a curved Samsung display you’d need to cough up thousands for one of its huge TVs, but a 27-inch display could bring some flexed screen tech to your desktop. The Samsung S27D590C isn’t going to impress guests to quite the same extent as a 60-inch curved Ultra HD OLED might, but the claim is more immersive gaming and entertainment on a more domestic scale.

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Dremel gives high-tech tools a spin with $999 3D printer – Available for preorder tomorrow, the toolmaker’s 3D Idea Builder goes on sale at Home Depot and Amazon in November.

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The 3D Idea Builder from Dremel.

Scary video highlights danger of damaged Lithium Ion batteries – A Japanese safety institute has released a video that serves as a graphic reminder of the danger posed by damaged Lithium Ion batteries. The batteries are extremely common in portable consumer electronics, providing power for smartphones, laptop computers, smartwatches and many other devices, and are typically safe. But if a battery is damaged, the results can quite literally be explosive.

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Open document formats campaign backed by Europe’s digital commissioner – “When open alternatives are available, no citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to use a particular company’s technology to access government information.”

Facebook meets with LGBT community over real-name policy – Facebook’s recently been cracking down on stage names, locking drag queens and transgenders out of their accounts until they switch accounts to their legal names. After mounting protests, Facebook reps scheduled a meeting with San Francisco activists and city officials over its real-name policy, which many say discriminates against the LGBT community.

Security:

Credit card data theft hit at least three retailers, lasted 18 months – In July, it was revealed that Goodwill Industries had suffered from a credit card data breach that affected the charitable retailer’s stores in at least 21 states. The Goodwill breach seemed by many to be just the latest case of criminals taking advantage of the weak underbelly of retailers—their point-of-sale systems. But now, as it turns out, the Goodwill breach was just part of a much larger attack on an outside managed service provider that affected at least two other companies. And many more may have been affected without their knowledge. For over 18 months, attackers were able to harvest credit card data from at least three retailers at will, without the companies’ knowledge. There is no current estimate of how many credit cards were compromised in the breach. And it’s not certain that there will ever be a full accounting.

Apple adds app-specific passwords for iCloud – In their ongoing effort to better secure iCloud, Apple is taking additional steps to let us safeguard our stuff. In addition to two-factor authentication, which came back to iCloud not long ago, Apple is also letting us create app-specific passwords for various third-party apps that access iCloud. The feature will also become standard very soon.

8 Security Tips for a Safe iOS 8 Upgrade – Apple’s iOS 8 is here. If you’ve got an iPhone, you’re probably champing at the bit to download Apple’s latest and greatest OS. Or perhaps you’ve already pre-ordered an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and are ready to party with a totally new handset.  Either way, now is a great time to spruce up the security of your iOS device.

Adobe releases previously delayed security updates for Reader and Acrobat – The updates fix eight vulnerabilities, including some that could be exploited to infect computers with malware.

Company News:

Apple said to be unveiling new iPads on Oct. 21 alongside OS X Yosemite release – Apple is reportedly planning to unveil its next-generation iPad Air and iPad mini at an event on October 21, and is also said to be preparing for the full release of OS X Yosemite on the same day.

Gogo, Virgin Atlantic Partner for In-Flight Internet – Virgin Atlantic is about to get a lot more tech-savvy. The airline has partnered with Gogo to introduce high-speed Internet connectivity services on flights, the companies announced Wednesday. The deal makes Virgin Atlantic the first European airline to partner with Gogo.

Sony estimates $2.14bn loss for smartphone business – Sony is struggling with its smartphone business thanks to stiff competition from Apple and Samsung, and plans to focus on its higher-end devices, while reducing its mid-range line-up.

Report: iPhone 6 Demand Overwhelms Foxconn – Another iPhone launch, another round of reports about overseas suppliers overwhelmed by orders. According to The Wall Street Journal, Foxconn is operating 100 production lines “around the clock,” churching out 140,000 phablets and 400,000 smartphones every day, but it’s still not enough to satisfy pre-orders.

Yelp, TinyCo Fined for Improperly Collecting Kids’ Data – Yelp has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit accusing the company of violating childrens’ privacy rights. App developer TinyCo was also fined $300,000 for similar violations. The FTC’s complaint claims that Yelp and TinyCo collected information about kids under 13 without their parents’ consent, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). That law bans sites from collecting information about kids under 13 without parental consent.

Reports of another wave of layoffs rekindle bad press for Microsoft – Microsoft’s massive staff reduction, which shocked many when it was announced in July, is back in the spotlight with a pair of reports that the ax will come down on another group of employees Thursday. It would be the second wave of job cuts in the plan to ultimately eliminate 18,000 positions, or 14 percent of the company’s staff, by the end of its fiscal year on June 30, 2015, according to reports this week from ZDnet and GigaOM, both based on anonymous sources.

Cisco acquires Metacloud, boosting Intercloud, OpenStack efforts – The privately-held cloud player will be snapped up for an undisclosed sum as the networking giant aims to bolster its inter-connected cloud effort, run on open-source OpenStack.

Games and Entertainment:

Presenting the 6 absolute best gaming mice of 2014 – I laid hands on six new gaming mouse for this story and evaluated their performance with both productivity apps—such as writing this review in Word—and games: Lining up headshots in Sniper Elite V3, and clicking frantically on the denizens of hell in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Before I reveal my opinions of these six new rodents, here are the features you should consider when doing your own evaluations.

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Halo: Reach is now free on Xbox 360 (if you’ve got Xbox Live Gold) – As part of its latest Games with Gold promotion, Microsoft is making Halo: Reach on the Xbox 360 free for everyone with an Xbox Live Gold membership, along with two free games for the Xbox One.

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Review: Hyrule Warriors is junk food gaming at its absolute finest – Some games provide a mental challenge, some serve as a simulation of an activity you are otherwise unable to do, and recently many others strive to position you in an adrenaline loop that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Sometimes though, the very best kind of game is the one that doesn’t challenge you at all. These games exist purely to entertain, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Hyrule Warriors is a massive deviation from what you think when someone tells you they are playing a Zelda game, but what was created instead is still a ton of fun to play.

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Goat Simulator Arrives on Android to Make Your Fondest Goat-Related Dreams Come True [Update: iOS Too] – The simulator game genre has never been more popular. You can fly a plane, be a trucker, and much more through the magic of video games. Perhaps Goat Simulator on the PC was the logical conclusion, or maybe it’s just a wacky sendup of the whole simulator gaming thing. Either way, you can now pretend to be a goat on Android.

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Gearbox Software enters the age of Battleborn – The maker of the Borderlands series is back with a brand-new sci-fi shooter. Here’s a first look at Battleborn.

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Destiny sales exceed $325M in first five days despite meh reviews – The sci-fi shooter isn’t close to selling as fast as titles from existing franchises like Grand Theft Auto, but for a nonsequel, it’s humming right along.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Hey, Scots. Microsoft’s Bing thinks you’ll vote NO to independence – Microsoft’s seldom-used digital yellow pages has waded into the independence referendum with the claim that Scots will vote no and the United Kingdom will be preserved. According to the world’s other search engine, some 48.1 per cent of Scots will tick the Yes box, while 51.9 per cent will choose No. Its claim was concocted using a system called Bing Predicts, which is being beta tested during the referendum. Bing’s new toy uses machine-learning to analyse and detect trends from the web and social networks.

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Irate NSA staffer doesn’t like being filmed in public, for some reason – In two videos posted on YouTube—each shot from a slightly different perspective—you can watch Beale politely question Mr. Z. about NSA programs, and watch Mr. Z. attempt to parry those queries with blatant falsehoods like, ”NSA is not permitted to track or collect intelligence on U.S. persons.” After a few minutes of back-and-forth, Mr. Z announces, “You’re done,” and attempts to grab the phone that Potter had been using to film the encounter, literally at the very moment he says, “I’m not touching your phone.”

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Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please – Rupert Murdoch’s minions have written to the European Commissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia, urging him to mete out stern punishment to Google in the ongoing search market dominance probe. The minion in question is News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson and his urgings are detailed in a letter he sent to Almunia last week. The central thesis of Thomson’s complaint appears to be his belief that “Google must do more to ensure that rights are respected and that its powerful search platform is not abused to eliminate competition.”

How will new device to help cops detect texting drivers know it wasn’t the passenger? – Texting while driving is dangerous and a new device is being developed to help cops catch texting drivers; but how will the device tell the difference between texting drivers, voice-to-text, automatic text replies and a texting passenger?

Air Force funds pocket-sized drone for surveilling tight spaces – The US Air Force has awarded a contract to CyPhy Works, a Danvers, Massachusetts-based startup led by CEO (and iRobot co-founder) Helen Greiner. CyPhy will design and deliver a pocket-sized drone for use in search and rescue operations in collapsed buildings, tunnels, and other confined spaces and steep grades that may be difficult for crawling robots to negotiate. The drone, called the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer, will also provide a way to search for improvised explosive devices and conduct surveillance of tunnels and other spaces without the use of radio frequency controls.

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An illustration of the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer released by CyPhy Works.

TechSpot: History of the Microprocessor and the Personal Computer – The invention of the microprocessor, DRAM, and EPROM integrated circuits helped bring computing to the mainstream. This is the first in a five-part series exploring the history of the CPU and PCs.

How a Cat Parasite Affects Your Behavior, Mental Health, and Sex Drive – We used to believe that a healthy human could control the Toxoplasma parasite indefinitely. New evidence suggests the opposite. Through a delicate finessing of the neurotransmitters in our brains, it is us who are being controlled

Something to think about:

“The truth is not simply what you think it is; it is also the circumstances in which it is said, and to whom, why and how it is said.”

-    Vaclav Havel

Today’s Free Downloads:

GlassWire 1.0.25 Beta – GlassWire displays your network activity on an easy to understand graph while searching for unusual Internet behavior that could indicate malware or violations of your privacy. Once unusual network activity is discovered you’re instantly alerted with detailed information so you can protect your computer, privacy, and data.

Features:

Network Monitor – Visualize your current and past network activity by traffic type, application, and geographic location, on an easy to use graph. GlassWire lets you see what applications are sending out data over the Internet and shows you what hosts they are communicating with.

Internet Security – GlassWire adds extra Internet security to your computer or server by visualizing all past and present network data in an easy to understand graph. Instantly see every application or process communicating over the Internet, then dive in deeper to see who or what your computer is communicating with.

Bandwidth Usage Monitor – Keeping track of your daily, weekly, or monthly bandwidth usage is easy with GlassWire. Go to the usage tab to see what apps, traffic, or hosts are using the most bandwidth.

Internet Privacy Protection – GlassWire shows all your network activity on an easy to use graph to help protect your Internet privacy. Easily see what apps are sending out data to the Internet and what host in what country they are communicating with. When you visit a website click the graph to see every server that your computer communicated with while that web page loaded.

Remote Server Monitoring – GlassWire installs easily on servers so you can monitor their network activity on your local computer via our remote access feature. Go to GlassWire’s settings and choose “remote server” to logon to your server after you have installed GlassWire on your local computer and remote server.

Discreet Alerts – We specifically designed the GlassWire alert system so it wasn’t annoying to users. GlassWire alerts appear briefly and then disappear into the background.

Network Time Machine – Use the sliders to go back in time and analyze past network activity on the graph. Check your bandwidth usage by day, week, and month in detail with resolved hosts.

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GlassWire running on a personal Win 7 system.

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

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

Features:

Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support

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Graphic – System Explorer running on a personal Win 7 system.

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Graphic –  System Explorer running in the system tray on a personal Win 7 system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New e-mail shows “stingray” maker may have lied to FCC back in 2010 – A newly published e-mail from 2010 shows that Harris Corporation, one of the best-known makers of cellular surveillance systems, told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that its purpose “is only to provide state/local law enforcement officials with authority to utilize this equipment in emergency situations.”

That e-mail was among 27 pages of e-mails that were part of the company’s application to get FCC authorization to sell the device in the United States. Neither the FCC nor Harris Corporation immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment, and Harris traditionally stays mum on its operations.

“We do not comment on solutions we may or may not provide to classified Department of Defense or law enforcement agencies,” Jim Burke, a spokesman for Harris, told Ars last month.

If Harris has misrepresented how the devices are used as part of law enforcement operations, then it would mark another controversial moment in the company’s shrouded history. In recent months, more information has come out about how stingrays have been used in violent crime investigations, including instances where cops have lied to courts about the use of such technology.

Relatively little is known about how stingrays are precisely used by law enforcement agencies nationwide, although documents have surfaced showing how they have been purchased and used in some limited instances. Last year, Ars reported on leaked documents showing the existence of a body-worn stingray. In 2010, Kristin Paget famously demonstrated a homemade device built for just $1,500.

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The 15 states in which the ACLU knows that police use cell phone tracking devices.

Republicans in Congress don’t know what internet freedom means…unless it means the freedom to kill the internet – In 2011, Joshua Kopstein wrote a killer piece for Motherboard titled “Dear Congress, it’s no longer ok to not know how the internet works.” Back then, the clumsy ignorance of our lawmakers allowed a charade called the Stop Online Piracy Act to make serious steps toward becoming law.

The brief history of SOPA is this: the music and movie industry lost the battle against online piracy in the 2000s, and then decided it would just be easier to get Congress to blow up the internet. The bill was so odious that it led to unprecedented efforts to kill it, including an internet “blackout” intended to inform internet users that Congress was about to embark on a disastrous adventure in legislative stupidity. It worked, and the bill was tabled indefinitely, but the fundamental problem Kopstein rightly underscored hasn’t been fixed. The government is still pretty dumb when it comes to the internet. If you don’t believe me, just look at how well Healthcare.gov turned out.

It’s 2014, and the future of the internet is still at stake, and there’s still a lot of ignorance about technology on both sides of the aisle. But right now there’s only one party in Congress that’s actively threatening to kill the founding principles that have made the internet the booming success it is today.

Just like it was during the SOPA crisis, people who love and understand the internet are mad again. This time it’s about the looming death of net neutrality: the set of principles that so far have kept companies like Comcast and Verizon from kidnapping the internet and demanding ransom from users and other businesses on top of the fees they already pay to get internet access. As the FCC now considers caving on net neutrality with a “paid prioritization” scheme, after years of trying and failing to establish net neutrality protections, the issue is back in Congress.

Egypt launches deep-packet inspection system with help from an American company – Deep-packet inspection is the one of the most invasive things a country can do to its internet. Employed by repressive regimes from Russia to Bahrain, it lets governments look into the content of web traffic as it moves over the network, allowing them to censor websites in real time and conduct detailed surveillance of citizen’s activities on the web. They also require sophisticated equipment, usually provided by a western company. As a result, DPI installations are usually kept secret for as long as possible.

But sometimes, they can’t. A Buzzfeed report seems to have caught the Egyptian government in the act, confirming that the country is currently installing a new DPI system with a company called See Egypt, a sister company to the American Blue Coat. Blue Coat got in trouble a few years ago for selling a similar system to Syria, which launched a subsequent State Department investigation, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed them down.

New Google transparency report details hike in government user data requests – Governments around the world are demanding increasingly larger amounts of user data from Google, according to the company’s latest Transparency Report.

In the first six months of 2014, the company received just under 32,000 data requests from governments, an increase of 15% when compared to the second half of 2013, and two and a half times more than when Google first started publishing the data in 2009.

The latest transparency report, released Monday, is a service Google and other big name companies provide to detail how many times governments ask the company to hand over user information to aid investigation of alleged criminal cases.

According to the report, the top ten countries requesting data from Google this time around were the US, Germany, France, India, the UK, Italy, Singapore, Australia, Spain and Brazil.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 17, 2014

U.S. government to Yahoo: Comply with PRISM, or we’ll make sure you go bankrupt;  Android Browser flaw a “privacy disaster” for half of Android users;  Insurance for your smartphone: Is it worth it? Is This Free Wi-Fi Safe? Search the Map of Dangerous Networks;  Facebook Has Built An App For Super-Private Sharing;  Three warning signs that email is malicious;  Toshiba’s 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet – $119;  New Batch of Chromecast Apps for iOS and Android;  How to use Google Voice with the new Hangouts app;  Report Gives Facebook, Twitter, YouTube an ‘F’ in Handling Harassment;  My Maps: customize your Google Maps experience;  Swype keyboard launching on iOS 8 today for 99 cents;  New ‘Facebook for Rich People’ Costs Just $9,000 to Join;  SwiftKey’s Predictive Keyboard App Is A Free Download On iOS;  ‘Tiny banker’ malware targets US financial institutions.

Is This Free Wi-Fi Safe? Search the Map of Dangerous Networks – Search a location on maps.skycure.com and you can see how many naughty networks are in your area. You might be surprised, or just plain horrified.

Three warning signs that email is malicious – There was a time when nearly every scam email would land in your inbox. Thankfully that’s not the case anymore—especially if you’re a Gmail user. But no system is perfect. Here are three basic tip-offs you can look for to figure out whether you’re looking at an email with dishonest intentions. They’re hardly an exhaustive list, but more often than not one of these tips will save you from getting suckered.

Codenamed “Moments”, Facebook Has Built An App For Super-Private Sharing – Facebook has failed repeatedly to get us to use complicated lists and privacy settings to share intimate moments with just our closest friends and family. It’s clumsy and confusing doing that with the same composer for blasting News Feed updates to everyone. But now Facebook is polishing off a new app codenamed “Moments” designed to make this micro-sharing much simpler.

Insurance for your smartphone: Is it worth it? – Smartphone carriers offer insurance for your devices, but it may not be a good fit for all users. Find out whether you’re a match for a protection plan.

Hands on: Office Lens scanning app for Windows Phone now makes editable Word files – Most scanning apps generate a JPEG or PDF file, but Office Lens skips right to the good stuff: Word or PowerPoint files. Though some scrawls will still confound it, this is nevertheless a Windows Phone app worth bragging about—and downloading ASAP.

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Windows 9 preview download in 2 – 3 weeks – Prepare to download the Windows 9 preview build. Microsoft confirmed it’ll unveil the next version of Windows—codenamed Threshold—in two short weeks. The event in San Francisco is expected to herald availability of the not-quite-beta build, assuming Satya’s gang follow the usual playbook.

New Batch of Chromecast Apps for iOS and Android Includes Twitch, WATCH Disney, and More – Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle didn’t see a hardware revision this year, but that’s fine. The $35 device does everything it needs to do–it’s essentially a receptacle for content beamed in from other apps. Today there are a few more apps streaming to the Chromecast, including Twitch on Android and iOS.

Toshiba’s 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet goes on sale for $119 – Toshiba’s new 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet, the Encore Mini, is now on sale for just $119, which includes a 1.33GHz quad-core Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, 16GB storage and up to 7 hours of battery life.

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How to use Google Voice with the new Hangouts app – The newest update to Google’s messaging app includes Voice calling and texting, a further step towards fully combining the two services. Pulling this together on your phone takes a little bit of work, however. The new app requires some nuanced settings and requires one other download from the Play Store. If you are a Google Voice power user, or are just getting familiar with the service for the first time, follow our tutorial for understanding and getting the most out of what Google has put together.

iOS 8: how to download, when to expect – What to expect when you’re expecting iOS 8 for your device in the next 24 hours is the alternate title for this article. What you’re going to need to know is very little. Most of your iOS 8 upgrade will be automated. You just need to sit back, relax, and think about what you’ve done.

Six reasons why you should not immediately upgrade to iOS 8 – If you’re sticking with an older iPhone or iPad, or working in a business setting, upgrading to iOS 8 may be premature. Here are six good reasons not to upgrade just yet.

GoDaddy makes very funny ad (no, really) – To celebrate small businesses, GoDaddy presents a woman who’s proved everyone wrong and wants to tell them where to shove their views.

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Report Gives Facebook, Twitter, YouTube an ‘F’ in Handling Harassment – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have come under fire for not taking online violence against women seriously according to a new report. The Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Rights Program mapped each social media platform’s policy for reporting and resolving instances of harassment or violence against women, including online sexual harassment and direct violent threats. The APC also tracked the networks’ public responses to international abuses cases. The organization rated all three social networks with an “F” grade in their “public commitment to human rights standards.”

Microsoft has a new keyboard for your phablet, works with iOS and Android – Do you have a large smartphone or a small tablet? If you do, Microsoft has released a new keyboard that could be your new best friend if you like to get work done on your device.

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Microsoft OneNote, now on your smart watch – Microsoft has announced today that it’s OneNote application is now available for your smart watch and integrates with Google Now too for even easier use on these ultra-portable devices. You can use OneNote on your smart watch by saying ” Ok Google, take a note” and the app will allow you to dictate a note. While obviously not the most comprehensive solution, it is on a watch after-all, it does allow you to take quick notes on the go.

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My Maps: customize your Google Maps experience – A little-known system called My Maps has just been updated by Google for Google Maps. What you’re able to do – and what I’ll be showing you here – is take what Google has made with Google Maps and add your own special markers, trails, and directions. You can take what you’ve made, then, and share with friends, coworkers, and associates.

Swype keyboard launching on iOS 8 today for 99 cents – Apple will release iOS 8 for download later today, and you won’t be waiting long for the first third-party keyboards to hit the App Store. In fact, there won’t be any waiting at all. Swype will be available for 99 cents starting Wednesday, kicking off a competition between developers and Apple’s own, new QuickType keyboard to decide who’s come up with the best method for inputting text on your iPhone or iPad. Of course, with Swype and competitor SwiftKey — also launching alongside iOS 8 today for an even lower free — you no longer have to tap individual letters.

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SwiftKey’s Predictive Keyboard App Is A Free Download On iOS – Rejoice, long-time iOS users, for you can finally throw off the shackles of the native Apple keyboard — cursing its erratic autocorrect habits for (hopefully) the last time — as you download a third party keyboard adventure of your choice, including Android veteran SwiftKey, which is releasing its first system-wide keyboard software app on iOS as a free download.

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New ‘Facebook for Rich People’ Costs Just $9,000 to Join – Netropolitan is a new social network that bills itself as “the online country club for people with more money than time.” It launched today and organizers insist that it’s not a joke. The $9,000 fee includes a $6,000 initiation fee, plus a $3,000 annual fee. You must be 21 to join. You’ll supposedly be able to chat with like-minded individuals, though Netropolitan declined to provide details about its user base.

Docurama streams free, on-demand documentaries to iOS – Cinedigm’s Docurama is a free app that streams hundreds of documentaries. Having started out as Roku and Xbox channels, it’s now available for iPhone and iPad. And if you own an Apple TV as well, you can beam the movies to your big screen. The app provides easy on-demand access to over 600 films, a number expected to increase to over 1,000 by the end of 2014. According to Cinedigm, more than two-thirds of the selections currently available can’t be found anywhere else, including Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix.

Security:

Android Browser flaw a “privacy disaster” for half of Android users – A bug quietly reported on September 1 appears to have grave implications for Android users. Android Browser, the open source, WebKit-based browser that used to be part of the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP), has a flaw that enables malicious sites to inject JavaScript into other sites. Those malicious JavaScripts can in turn read cookies and password fields, submit forms, grab keyboard input, or do practically anything else.

Attorney General questions the security of health data on the Apple Watch – Attorney General George C. Jepsen has raised his own concerns around the security of health data used by the Apple Watch, suggesting a meeting in which he and Apple can discuss those concerns.

‘Tiny banker’ malware targets US financial institutions – A banking Trojan, known for its small size but powerful capabilities, has expanded the number of financial institutions from which it can collect data, according to security vendor Avast. A version analyzed by Avast showed Tiny Banker has been customized to target many new financial institutions, many of which are based in the U.S., such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase, wrote Jaromir Horejsi, an Avast malware analyst.

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A screenshot bearing Wells Fargo’s logo showed how Tiny Banker asks for more information when a person logs into their account. It shows a bogus warning about a system update, asking users to provider more information to verify their identity.

Fear not: Kindle flaw that opened your Amazon account to attackers appears fixed – A concerning XSS flaw discovered by a German security researcher appears to be fixed. Here’s what happened.

Apple toughens iCloud backup security – Two weeks after breach of celebrity iCloud accounts, Apple makes good on CEO Tim Cook’s promises to strengthen security.

Company News:

Microsoft Shakes Up Its Board, Boosts Its Dividend 11% – Microsoft has announced two coming board departures, two board additions, and a boost to its dividend. Leaving the board are Dave Marquardt and Dina Dublon. Marquardt is best known for his work in venture capital, and Dublon for her work at JPMorgan Chase. Taking their places are the appointed Teri List-Stoll from Kraft and Charles Scharf of Visa.

IBM’s New Watson Analytics Wants To Bring Big Data To The Masses – IBM today announced a new product called Watson Analytics, one they claim will bring sophisticated big data analysis to the average business user. The product goes into Beta this month and they are shooting for general release by the end of the year. As a cloud service, it will run on a variety of platforms including tablets, smartphones and PC/laptops, but there are no dedicated apps yet. They are offering a free version that’s free forever in the IBM Cloud Marketplace.

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Court upends $368M ruling against Apple for VirnetX patent infringement – A top appeals court has thrown out a jury ruling that ordered Apple to pay $368 million to VirnetX, a patent-holding company that many consider a “patent troll” because it exists exclusively to enforce patents. On Tuesday, the United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the decision back to the lower federal court in East Texas.

Micro Focus buying Novell, Suse Linux owner for $1.2 billion – Micro Focus to pick up Attachmate for a little over half of what Attachmate paid for Novell three years ago.

Intel teams with Indian firm to launch ‘Eddy’ tablet for children – Intel has teamed with Indian education startup Metis Learning on an Android tablet that aims to keep children away from violent TV content and games on their parents’ smartphones. Targeted at children aged 2-10 years, Eddy is priced at Indian rupees 9999 ($163), and comes with over 160 apps selected by educators and experts to accelerate a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development, Intel said.

Games and Entertainment:

‘Destiny’ is a beautiful mess – And I can’t stop playing – I’ve spent close to two dozen hours playing Destiny. I completed a galaxy-spanning quest that took me to Venus and Mars, teamed up with complete strangers to take down massive space monsters in thrilling boss encounters, and jumped into a free-for-all multiplayer combat arena where I died many, many times. I spent an embarrassingly long time agonizing over which weapons to equip and what armor provides the best compromise between function and style. Hell, I even downloaded a mobile app so I could check on my character when I wasn’t near a console. It’s a game I love, and a game I hate, and it’s one that I can’t seem to stop playing.

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Nearly a year in, is anyone winning the current generation console war? – Those consoles, as they existed on their respective launch days, don’t really exist anymore. In the intervening months, the system software changed through downloadable updates, and the game library grew with dozens of new releases. With that in mind, it’s time to revisit the state of the console wars as it stands today and potentially amend our launch day thoughts with the benefit of a few hundred days of extra experience.

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The wired Xbox One controller for Windows is finally here – Microsoft has announced a wired Xbox One controller, coming this December, compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8 for gaming on the PC without using a mouse or keyboard.

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Twitch Chromecast release live today – Televisions around the world will now be able to access Twitch in a new way. While Twitch has been available on gaming systems, Android and iOS devices connected to TVs with HDMI or Miracast, and a variety of other oddities, today things get extra Google-y. Today Twitch hits Chromecast.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

You can now attach your iPad directly to your face to experience virtual reality – AirVR is a Kickstarter project from Toronto design firm Metatecture that seeks $20,000 in funding from backers to create an inexpensive headset for converting your iPad Mini (Retina) or soon-to-be-delivered iPhone 6 Plus into a portable virtual reality viewer.

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Time Spent In Apps Up 21% Over Last Year – While there may be an upper limit as to how many apps people interact with over the course of a month, new data from mobile marketing platform Localytics out this morning shows that the time spent actually using apps is increasing. The new study was based on data from Localytics’ customer base, which includes 28,000 applications installed across 1.5 billion devices. For these findings, which cover August 2013 to August 2014, the company says it multiplied the average sessions per user in app by the average session length across all apps, and then broke it down by category.

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Man Attempting To Visit Every Country In The World Captures Terrifying Armed Robbery On Video – A man on a mission to visit every country in the world was recently on a bike tour of Argentina when he captured the terrifying moment an armed thief attempted to rob him in broad daylight.

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A Silk Database of US death penalty executions since 1976 – This site contains close to 60 datapoints for more than 1300 executions, including state, county and annual totals and averages. On this homepage we present some of the relevant findings but this is just a fraction of what’s to be found! Explore the complete database, customize and share your visualizations: start with the Explore-button of any graph or use the search bar.

The little-known Soviet mission to rescue a dead space station – The following story happened in 1985 but subsequently vanished into obscurity. Over the years, many details have been twisted, others created. Even the original storytellers got some things just plain wrong. After extensive research, writer Nickolai Belakovski is able to present, for the first time to an English-speaking audience, the complete story of Soyuz T-13’s mission to save Salyut 7, a fascinating piece of in-space repair history.

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The view of Salyut 7 from Soyuz T-13 after undocking and beginning the journey home.

California Starts Issuing Self-Driving Car Permits – Self-driving cars can now officially hit the road in California, though they will still require some help from their human passengers for awhile. The California Department of Motor Vehicles today started issuing permits that allow for testing of autonomous vehicles on public California roads. Those who pay a $150 application fee get permits for 10 vehicles and 20 drivers. Adding another 10 drivers costs $50 more.

Something to think about:

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Today’s Free Downloads:

BB FlashBack Express – BB FlashBack Express is a free screen recorder with the best-of-breed recording features of BB FlashBack.

Advanced Technology – Our ‘capture driver’ technology gives us a head start on other free screen recorders. It creates high frame rate, high quality movies without affecting PC performance, even on lower powered PCs.

WebCam Recording – Give your movies the personal touch. Make an appearance with a picture-in-picture webcam recording. One click, and BB FlashBack Express records from the webcam while it records the screen.

Sound – Record a commentary at the same time as the screen. It’s easy to record the microphone, PC speakers or other sources.

Easy To Use and Always Ready – BB FlashBack Express lives in your taskbar, system tray or floating above the desktop, so its always available. Click the record button and let the wizard guide you to great recordings, first time.

Publish on the Web – Its never been easier for everyone to see your screen recordings. Upload to YouTube, Blip.tv, Viddler or Revver. Get the URL and share it around.

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WinToBootic – WinToBootic is a free application that can help you to create bootable Windows hard disk or USB flash drive. You can use a CD/DVD, Folder or ISO image to create your bootable disk. This is a portable application that you can start using as soon as you extract it from the ZIP archive.

Using WinToBootic is as easy as selecting your USB drive and then formatting it to make it bootable. Of course, you need to add the CD/DVD, Folder, or ISO with bootable Windows files using either file browser or “drag and drop” feature.

You may also use WinToBootic to create a “Windows To Go” disk if you are using Windows 8. You can create the disk with a Non-Enterprise Windows Install ISO on a Non-Certified USB disk.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

U.S. government to Yahoo: Comply with PRISM, or we’ll make sure you go bankrupt – After a lengthy battle, documents on Friday showed the Bush administration threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 per day for failing to comply with the U.S. government’s PRISM program.

That fine alone would have been troubling for the company. But according to a new first-hand testimony by Yahoo’s lawyers, that was just the beginning.

Attorneys Marc Zwillinger and Jacob Sommer, who represented Yahoo during the case, said in a blog post on Monday that the fines could have been significantly worse. The Bush administration is said to have pushed for contempt, forcing Yahoo to comply, and threatening prosecution if it didn’t comply with government data demands.

If Yahoo didn’t comply, those fines could have doubled each week until Yahoo complied.

“Simple math indicates that Yahoo was facing fines of over $25 million dollars for the first month of noncompliance, and fines of over $400 million in the second month if the court went along with the government’s proposal,” the lawyers wrote.

Yahoo’s average revenue for 2008 amounted to $7.2 billion. That year, the government’s surveillance court, the FISA Court, was pushing for Yahoo to join PRISM.

Had Yahoo held out for just a few weeks, fines could have easily surpassed the company’s net worth, let alone its annual revenue or profit. By the fifth month, Yahoo was facing fines that amounted to the entire U.S. debt, accounting for about $9.5 trillion. And it wouldn’t stop.

Yahoo would have lost everything — any profits gained, assets, cash reserves, and equivalents.

US law would safeguard free-speech rights to criticize business online – A member of the House of Representatives is offering legislation that would make it illegal for businesses to take action against consumers who write “honest” negative reviews online about products and services.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told the National Journal that the forthcoming measure would make it illegal for companies to have non-disparagement clauses in their consumer contracts.

“It’s un-American that any consumer would be penalized for writing an honest review,” Swalwell said. “I’m introducing this legislation to put a stop to this egregious behavior so people can share honest reviews without fear of litigation.”

The Problem With Transparency Reports? They’re Not Very Transparent – In the continued push for transparency post-Snowden, many communications companies and service providers are publishing reports with more details on what sort of data, and how much, they’re being asked to hand over to law enforcement.

But even with this shift, chunks of the reports rather obscure, rather than clear up, exactly what data is requested.

According to their latest transparency filing, cloud storage service Dropbox received 120 search warrants and 109 subpoenas for user information. Responding to the former, they handed over 103 pieces of “content and non-content”—files within the customer’s account, and other pieces of their data such as IP address, respectively. When it came to subpoenas, Dropbox provided law enforcement with 80 pieces of “non-content.”

“While that number is small compared to our 300 million users,” Bart Volkmer, Dropbox’s legal counsel, told the Guardian, “we treat all the requests we receive seriously and scrutinize them to make sure they satisfy legal requirements before complying. We also push back in cases where agencies are seeking too much information or haven’t followed the proper procedures.”

The report reads, “Protecting our users’ privacy is a top priority at Dropbox, so we continue to apply our Government Data Request Principles to every request we receive.” This means that they will fight blanket requests, or ones they deem too broad.

Dropbox may have also received over 200 requests for customers’ data from the US government for reasons of national security. However, this is where the transparency becomes less clear.

California lawmakers want to limit police drones, but activists want them banned – The police hate a bill just passed by California lawmakers, saying it unjustly limits their ability to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fight crime. The Los Angeles District Attorney hates it too, complaining that requiring police to obtain a warrant before deploying a drone to conduct surveillance goes “beyond what is required by Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” which the seasoned political observer knows police and politicians are supposed to gut, not exceed.

But there’s another, somewhat unexpected source of opposition to AB 1327, passed last month by the California State Senate: anti-drone activists.

“We are gathered here today to we reject the use of drones by law enforcement under any circumstances,” said Hamid Khan, an organizer with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, at a September 15 press conference in front of City Hall in downtown LA. Activists here are particularly anxious about drones since the Los Angeles Police Department obtained two small surveillance UAVs from police in Seattle, who had to give them away in the face of overwhelming public opposition to their use. The drones have not yet been deployed, with Mayor Eric Garcetti promising to seek public input before ever letting them fly.

While the American Civil Liberties Union of California has endorsed the legislation, which would be the state’s first attempt to restrict the use of UAVs—if Democratic Governor Jerry Brown actually signs it into law—Khan argued that “when you look at the actual bill, it has enough waivers and exceptions and loopholes you can actually drive a drone through it.”

NSA reform bill stalled with Congress headed toward fall recess – The U.S. Congress is unlikely to pass legislation to end the National Security Agency’s widespread collection of U.S. telephone records before leaving Washington, D.C., on a two-month break.

Congress is scheduled to leave town for its fall recess by the end of this week, with the USA Freedom Act still awaiting action in the Senate. Members of Congress will head back to their home districts to campaign for November’s elections, with all members of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate on the ballot.

The USA Freedom Act, with significant support in the House and the Senate, still has some lawmakers questioning whether reining in the NSA’s phone records collection program would hurt the U.S. government’s war on terrorism.

Absent congressional action, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced late Friday that they have asked for, and received, court authorization to continue the telephone records collection program. The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reauthorized the program to continue until Dec. 5, with some limits proposed by President Barack Obama earlier this year.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 16, 2014

Court blasts US Navy for scanning civilians’ computers;  Google user data skyrocket;  What to do when your USB device doesn’t work;  Yahoo slams ‘digital will’ law, says users have privacy when they die;  Boxer: An efficient, yet simple, email client for Android;  How to start blogging with Microsoft Word;  India’s Best Budget Smartphones;  Five new iOS apps to improve your job performance;  Apple Pay is as safe as your selfies, says PayPal ad;  Google wants to test-fly drones in New Mexico;  Prevent identity theft with this interactive site;  Google launches Android One, bringing India $105 smartphones;  Auslogics Duplicate File Finder (free);  Wikileaks Releases German Spyware That Governments Used To Hack Journalists And Dissidents;  Hacker exploits printer Web interface to install, run Doom;  Julian Assange on Snowden, disliking Google, and his “inevitable” freedom;  NirLauncher – 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows (free).

Court blasts US Navy for scanning civilians’ computers for child porn – A federal appeals court said the US Navy’s scanning of the public’s computers for images of child pornography constituted “a profound lack of regard for the important limitations on the role of the military in our civilian society. RoundUp surveillance of all computers in Washington amounted to impermissible direct active involvement in civilian enforcement of the child pornography laws, not permissible indirect assistance,” Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for the San Francisco-based appeals court.

Google user data skyrocket – Government requests for user information — such as registration information, emails and IP addresses — are up 15 percent in the first half of 2014, and up 150 percent since the report was first published in 2009, wrote Richard Salgado, Google’s legal director of law enforcement and information security, in a blog post on Monday. In the US, government requests for user data are up 19 percent and 250 percent, respectively.

Yahoo slams ‘digital will’ law, says users have privacy when they die – What should happen to your personal digital communications — emails, chats, photos and the like — after you die? Should they be treated like physical letters for the purposes of a will? Yahoo doesn’t think so. The company is criticizing new legislation giving executors charged with carrying out the instructions in a person’s will broad access to their online accounts. The legislation aims to tackle the sensitive question of what to do when someone’s online accounts on sites like Facebook, Google or Yahoo outlive them.

What to do when your USB device doesn’t work – Clearly, something is broken. But is it hardware, software, the device or the computer? That’s going to take some experimentation. First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Unplug the device, then plug it again. Did that fix the problem? If not, unplug it again, reboot your PC, and then plug it in again. Did that help? How about trying another port? No? Well, it was worth a try. Since the problem persists, let’s get on to more serious tests.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Mailpile enters beta—It’s like Gmail, but you run it on your own computer – The extra value with Mailpile is the security side. Unlike many other MUAs that support encryption only through plug-ins, Mailpile integrates PGP as part of its core, letting users transparently send encrypted e-mails to each other without having to go through much of the unfriendly complexity required to properly send and receive encrypted mail. In fact, the heavy focus on encryption is one of Mailpile’s biggest selling points—your mail still transits through Gmail or Yahoo or whatever public mail service you use, but the more of it that’s encrypted at the endpoints, the more difficult it is for an outsider to snoop on it.

Boxer: An efficient, yet simple, email client for Android – If you’re looking for a better email client on your Android device, Jack Wallen has just the tool for you. Boxer will make mobile email an efficient and simple task.

How to start blogging with Microsoft Word – Blogging with Microsoft Word lets you use the richly featured word processor to circumvent many of the underpowered, sometimes unfriendly aspects of browser-based interfaces used by platforms like WordPress or Blogger. We’ll show you several ways to write and publish blog posts directly from Word, using the tools and shortcuts you already know. While the this tutorial is written for Word 2013, the necessary features are available in all versions starting from Word 2007.

Google launches Android One, bringing India $105 smartphones – Today, Google is launching “Android One” in India, an effort to get high-quality, cheap smartphones into the hands of people in developing countries. Google provides a reference design to OEMs, which then build devices to Google’s spec. The devices run stock Android, and Google provides all the updates—you can think of it as a non-flagship version of the Nexus program.

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India’s Best Budget Smartphones – The Android wars have just begun and Google’s new Android Ones will soon go head-to-head against the dominant models in the marketplace. Which means it’s a great time to see who the best of the budget breed in India currently are and what the new Ones will have to do to wrest customers away from them

Five new iOS apps to improve your job performance – From tuning up your brain to enabling on-the-fly sketches and annotations, these apps will help you do your job more effectively.

Apple Lets You Preserve Your Musical Taste With A U2 Album Removal Tool – Removing the Songs of Innocence album is as easy as following a link, and then logging in to your iTunes store account. Once you’ve completed those two steps, a message lets you know it’s gone, though you’ll have to delete the actual tracks from your devices if you managed to download them.

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How Many Times A Day Do You Check Your Phone? Checky Will Tell You – This very basic app simply shows you how many times per day you’ve checked your phone, and maps out where that usage occurred. Effectively, the app serves as an advertisement for Calm’s flagship application by introducing the concept of technology addiction and behavioral change. The app is also a literal ad for Calm, too, as it serves up an ad at the bottom of the screen pointing to the meditation app, which recently raised an additional $578,000 in new funding.

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Comcast calls rumor that it disconnects Tor users “wildly inaccurate” – Comcast has lately found itself issuing public apologies on a somewhat regular basis as subscribers share tales of horrible customer service. But the latest accusation leveled against Comcast—that it is threatening to disconnect customers who use the anonymity-providing Tor browser—hasn’t been backed by convincing evidence that it’s happening. And Comcast dismisses the rumor as “wildly inaccurate.”

DisplayPort 1.3 details announced – A update to the DisplayPort standard was announced today. DisplayPort 1.3 will allow bandwidth up to 32.4 Gbits/second and connections to much higher resolution displays and multi-monitor setups.

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Apple Pay is as safe as your selfies, says PayPal ad – In a newspaper ad reacting to Apple’s new payment system, PayPal suggests it’s not secure. And, well, PayPal is.

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PayPal is America. Or at least so this ad seems to imply. And this America doesn’t trust Apple.

Security:

Most mobile apps will fail standard security tests, Gartner says – Seventy-five percent of mobile apps will fail the most basic of security tests next year, predicts market researcher Gartner. The market researcher said Sunday that in 2015, the majority of mobile applications — whether in the Android, iOS or Windows Phone ecosystems — will not have basic business-acceptable security protocols in place.

Prevent identity theft with this interactive site – Choice Loans, a financial lending service based in the UK, has put together a site that can help. It’s an interactive guide to various types of identity fraud, complete with 16 things you can do to detect or respond to them. The site covers a broad swath of risks. It shares detailed information about computer viruses and malware, con artists and fraud, credit card fraud, online shopping, card skimming, card-not-present fraud, stolen credit or debit cards, mail theft, man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, cell phone scams, online password theft, passport fraud, pharming, phishing scams, pyramid schemes, shoulder surfing, and more.

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Watch Out! This Suspicious Android App WIll Cost You $365 a Year – How much would you expect to pay for an Android security app? No, don’t say anything, because I’ll tell you that $30 a year is about the maximum. Trust me, it’s my job to know these things. But for ten times that amount, you can let a shifty app sorta-kinda-not-really keep your phone safe! Blue Coat Security shows us what’s under the hood of Armor for Android, and it’s not pretty.

Hacker exploits printer Web interface to install, run Doom – On Friday, a hacker presenting at the 44CON Information Security Conference in London picked at the vulnerability of Web-accessible devices and demonstrated how to run unsigned code on a Canon printer via its default Web interface. After describing the device’s encryption as “doomed,” Context Information Security consultant Michael Jordon made his point by installing and running the first-person shooting classic Doom on a stock Canon Pixma MG6450. Sure enough, the printer’s tiny menu screen can render a choppy and discolored but playable version of id Software’s 1993 hit, the result of Jordon discovering that Pixma printers’ Web interfaces didn’t require any authentication to access.

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HarperCollins now uses invisible watermarks to combat ebook piracy – Battling piracy has proven difficult, but that hasn’t yet stopped companies from trying, and as such it isn’t surprising that a couple publishers have turned to a new option in an effort to pinpoint where, exactly, ebook uploads are surfacing from. Using Digimarc technology, the publishers’ ebooks will be tagged with an invisible — and traceable — watermark.

Company News:

Microsoft Buys Minecraft Developer Mojang for $2.5 Billion – Mojang is the developer of the wildly popular block-based game Minecraft. The game has grown far beyond its modest beginnings, and that has made it a target for acquisition–even Microsoft has been snooping around. The rumors started showing up late last week, but earlier today Mojang announced that Microsoft has indeed purchased the company for a whopping $2.5 billion.

Alibaba raises price range of massive IPO due to demand – With its IPO already expected to be record-breaking in the US, the Chinese company will price its stock even higher. That could translate to $25 billion.

Microsoft Confirms Its Windows Event Will Take Place On September 30th – Microsoft today confirmed its correctly rumored Windows event that will take place on September 30 in San Francisco. The event is widely expected to include a release of the technical preview of Windows 9, the successor to the controversial Windows 8.x operating system that was released in 2012, along with the Surface line of tablets.

Netflix launches in France, faces legal, cultural hurdles – Netflix has just launched in France, but it might be getting a cold shoulder. Because of its pride and focus on its local film and TV productions, both French industry players and lawmakers are looking into how they make the video-streaming giant play by the country’s rules and give due important to French and European content.

Apple Sells 4M iPhone 6 And 6 Plus Pre-Orders In Opening 24 Hours – That’s twice the number of pre-orders achieved in 24 hours by the iPhone 5 back in 2012, which managed two million pre-orders in its initial day of pre-sales. Apple didn’t publicly release pre-order numbers for the initial day of iPhone 5s and 5c sales last year, but estimates pegged them at somewhere around 2.2 million according to some analyst projections.

Google wants to test-fly drones in New Mexico – Google has requested the ability to flight-test their Titan drones from the FCC, which they previously announced would fall under the auspice of Project Loon. In a letter to the FCC, Google said “These systems may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation. The STA [Special Temporary Authority] is needed for demonstration and testing of [REDACTED] in a carefully controlled environment.”

IBM cuts pay by 10% for workers picked for training – Salary cut draws employee ire; management calls it a ‘co-investment in training’.

Games and Entertainment:

Resident Evil Revelations 2 detailed in trailer – The first full-length trailer has arrived for the game Resident Evil Revelations 2. This game will be rolling out with elements from Resident Evil 2, but will move on from that storyline to a new island entirely. This version will star Resident Evil 2’s Claire Redfield and Barry Burton’s daughter Moira. This game will be unveiled in early 2015, according to Capcom, and will NOT be a replacement for Resident Evil 7. Instead it’s more like an offshoot of the series. Resident Evil Revelations 2 will be coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC.

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‘Minecraft’ creator Notch says selling Mojang to Microsoft was about keeping his sanity – Markus “Notch” Persson, creator of “Minecraft,” has penned a post on his blog saying the decision to sell his studio to Microsoft wasn’t about the money, but about keeping his sanity.

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Malware is being spread on Twitch that empties your Steam wallet, armory, and inventory – Been spending a lot of time on Twitch watching those wacky fish searching for Pokemon in the tall grass or nailing each other with Hadoukens in Street Fighter? You may be putting yourself in harm’s way. There’s a nasty piece of malware being spread to Twitch users that can clean out your Steam account. Users are being duped into thinking that a harmless-looking contest entry will reward them with awesome in-game upgrades on Steam. Instead of putting anything in to you Steam inventory, however, Eskimo immediately sets to work cleaning out your entire digital locker.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

A teenager created an $80 breath-to-speech device that costs 100x less than the competition – Specialized computer systems that allow people with movement and speech impairments like ALS or Parkinson’s to speak usually cost thousands of dollars. However, a 16 year-old student from India has created a device that accomplishes the same basic task as these $7,000-10,000 computers for only $80. Arsh Shah Dilbagi calls his invention the TALK because, well, that’s what it lets you do.

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The FCC Has Received More Than 3 Million Comments Concerning Net Neutrality – The FCC has received more than 3 million comments concerning the current net neutrality notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). That figure is dramatically higher than the previously reported 1.5 million figure that was released last week. 3 million comments deep, the public has said its piece. What the FCC will do with the collected public opinion isn’t clear.

8 truths and myths of driverless cars – For decades, humans have dreamed of driverless vehicles. From the Jetsons to Minority Report, we’ve gotten a certain idea of how those cars should function and how the world could be if they existed. Driverless cars, however, aren’t science fiction. That said, we took a look at some of the common misconceptions about driverless cars, along with truths that are good to keep in mind.

MIT researchers take cheetah robot out for a run without a leash – MIT researchers have released a video of a robot they’re calling “cheetah” making its way across campus. An earlier robot that was also called cheetah was part of a DARPA/Boston Dynamics (now owned by Google) collaboration that was notable for its speed. The MIT version is notable for ditching the tethers that supplied power to it—it goes for runs using on-board battery power and control logic.

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Rosetta’s comet landing site chosen, harpoons will deploy November 11 – The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced the precise location on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that its Philae lander aboard the Rosetta probe will attempt to touch down. The team says site J on the comet’s “head” region won out because it’s scientifically interesting and less risky than the alternatives. The action is currently scheduled to begin on November 11th. Yes, they sent Rosetta to P67 to do more than take amazing selfies.

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Philadelphia Is Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession – The City of Brotherly Love is decriminalizing marijuana possession and public consumption, ending a drug policy that has disproportionately targeted African Americans and Latinos in Philadelphia for decades. After a long summer of negotiations between Mayor Michael Nutter and supporters of Councilman James Kenney’s decriminalization bill, the mayor agreed to sign the legalization measure, which will take effect October 20. Support from Philly cops, African American community organizations, and black media outlets helped forge the decriminalization law that passed 13-3 through the city council — a margin that would have overridden a potential mayoral veto.

Modder turns Xbox One into Xbook One laptop – Modder Ed Jarick describes himself as a “self-taught engineer,” and has a history of turning Xbox 360s into “laptops.” Now, with the advent of a new console generation he’s gone and given an Xbox One the portable treatment. Though to call this thing portable is a bit of a misnomer, maybe. The Xbook One is less a laptop and more an Xbox bolted onto a ship anchor. The device uses the innards of an Xbox One, some fans, 3D-printed parts, and an enormous 22″ 1080p LCD monitor.

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Aquaponic Garden gives new life to an aquarium – The AquaSprouts Aquarium Aquaponic Garden is an indoor garden that is a self-contained ecosystem. You feed the fish, the fish-waste feeds the plants and you eat what is grown from the garden. It’s a win-win-win. The Kickstarter project is designed to work with a standard 10-gallon aquarium. It consists of three main components: legs, a grow bed and a light bar (that need not be installed for those with sufficient lighting). A reward level is also available that includes a glass aquarium.

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Something to think about:

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

-   Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder – Auslogics Duplicate File Finder will find and remove duplicate files so you won’t experience lack of free disk space!

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder has the MD5 search engine which allows you to find duplicate files by content, regardless other match criteria. It would be helpful, for example, when two identical mp3 tracks or video files have different names. Give Auslogics Duplicate File Finder a try to see what it’s really capable of!

Features:

Improve computer performance by deleting duplicate files

Identical files not only waste your hard disk space, but also may cause system slowdowns. By deleting duplicate files you can reduce time needed to defragment your hard drives and minimize time used by antivirus to scan your computer.

Sort and organize your media collections

Media files collections, such as music, video, images and photos, often become the primary source of identical files. If you have a music collection of several hundreds or even thousands mp3-files, you may want to sort them by deleting identical tracks.

With Auslogics Duplicate File Finder you can organize your media files and increase free disk space needed to enlarge your collection.

Find duplicate files by content!

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder has the MD5 search engine which allows the program to search for duplicate files by content, regardless of other match criteria. It would be helpful, for example, when two identical mp3 tracks or video files have different names.

CDBurnerXP – CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. This is the installer version, CDBurnerXP Portable can be downloaded here.

It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multilanguage interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. It does not include adware or similar malicious components.

Features:

burn all kinds of discs

audio-CDs with or without gaps between tracks

burn and create ISO files

data verification after burning process

create bootable discs

multi-language interface

bin/nrg → ISO converter, simple cover printing and much more!

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NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.

Features:

NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without need of any installation.

NirLauncher and all the utilities in the package are completely freeware, without any Spyware/Adware/Malware.

NirLauncher package includes variety of tools that you may need for your daily computer use, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When using it from USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically run the x64 version of the utility, when there is a separated x64 version.

NirLauncher also allows to add more software packages in additional to the main NirSoft package.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Questions for New Zealand on Mass Surveillance – Yesterday, we revealed details at The Intercept about the New Zealand government’s secret plan to access data from the country’s main internet cable. The government has since denied that the project was ever completed — but its statements in the past 24 hours have raised more questions that they have answered and deserve some closer scrutiny.

The surveillance project we revealed — named Speargun — was listed as “underway” in classified documents from New Zealand’s GCSB spy agency in March 2012. In early 2013, an NSA document listed the first phase of the project as having been achieved. It noted that the second phase — which would entail inserting covert “metadata probes” — was scheduled to begin later the same year following the passing of a new surveillance law. That law was approved in August 2013.

While publicly New Zealand government officials were reassuring the public that the new law would not lead to an expansion of powers, behind closed doors GCSB was preparing to install its metadata probes — which would have constituted the biggest expansion of GCSB’s surveillance reach in decades.

In response to our story, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (pictured above) has said that the Speargun project was not finalized. What he claims is that the project was instead eventually replaced by a narrower initiative. In a radio interview on Monday morning, Key described this as a toned down version of what he called “mass cyber protection.” What’s now in place, he said, is a “bespoke functionality which an individual company or agency could deploy,” apparently to mitigate cyber attacks.

In a bid to prove this, Key declassified documents later on Monday (after we published our story) that outlined a project called Cortex. Key seemed to think — or perhaps hope — that these documents would kill off any concerns and put the controversy to a swift end. But they fail to address a number of crucial issues — critics have already dismissed them as a “red herring” — and in fact only seem to cloud matters further.

Wikileaks Releases German Spyware That Governments Used To Hack Journalists And Dissidents – As part of its ongoing Spyfiles series of posts, Wikileaks has released the back and front-end systems used by multiple governments to spy on journalists, dissidents, and others. The files appear to be weaponized Windows malware although the software, called FinFisher, also works on OS X.

From the post:

FinFisher (formerly part of the UK based Gamma Group International until late 2013) is a German company that produces and sells computer intrusion systems, software exploits and remote monitoring systems that are capable of intercepting communications and data from OS X, Windows and Linux computers as well as Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices. FinFisher first came to public attention in December 2011 when WikiLeaks published documents detailing their products and business in the first SpyFiles release.

Three back-end programs route and manage traffic which is sent to FinSpy Master, a collection program. The system can steal keystrokes, Skype conversations, and even watch you via your webcam.

While there is no definitive proof that any one organization is using the software, a list of FinFisher customers leaked as well shows us that Pakistan, Estonia, and Italy (among others) have bought the service.

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange hopes the malware will allow researchers to pinpoint and destroy the command and control structure in the wild and help prevent the software from infecting new users.

Julian Assange on Snowden, disliking Google, and his “inevitable” freedom – It would be too much to say that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange feels optimistic. He’s been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for more than two years now, with cameras and police—”a £3 million surveillance operation,” he calls it—just meters away.

“There’s a sense of inevitability now,” Assange said when we asked if his situation might change.

Assange: “The situation is clarifying politically and legally.”

Ars: “I just want to be clear on this point—are you saying you’re hopeful you’ll be free soon?”

Assange: “I wouldn’t say hopeful. I would say it’s inevitable. It’s inevitable that we will win the diplomatic standoff we’re in now.”

It’s getting late in London, where Assange is doing a barrage of press interviews on the eve his new book, When Google Met Wikileaks (it goes on sale in the US later this week). We called at the agreed upon time, and a man who didn’t identify himself answered the number, which was for a London cell phone. He said call back in five minutes, and only then was the phone finally handed to Assange.

We’re supposed to focus on the book. But first, we want to know what life trapped in the embassy involves—where does he eat, sleep, do laundry? What is the room he’s was in now like?

Australia: Can Snowden finally kill the ‘harmless metadata’ myth? – “Metadata is extraordinarily intrusive. As an analyst, I would prefer to be looking at metadata than looking at content, because it’s quicker and easier, and it doesn’t lie.”

In just two sentences, Edward Snowden nailed the hypocrisy — or perhaps it’s really just stupidity — at the heart of the Australian government’s efforts to sell a mandatory data-retention scheme.

Snowden was appearing via a video link at the Moment of Truth event in New Zealand on Monday night. He was speaking to ardent fans — he scored a standing ovation laced with the tribal whooping of “Yeah!” and “Woo!” before he’d even begun — so he had an easy run. But he also spoke with a clarity that’s hard to argue against.

“If I’m listening to your phone call, you can try to talk around things, you can use code words. But if I’m looking at your metadata, I know which number called which number. I know which computer talked to which computer. And yeah, that [capability to access metadata] exists comprehensively for all the Five Eyes analysts,” Snowden said.

The signals intelligence agencies of all Five Eyes nations — the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand — have access to the NSA’s XKeyscore, a federated search system that deals in metadata captured from the NSA’s interception of international fibre links, as well as other sources.

XKeyscore also searches the last three to five days of content data, Snowden said, and that archive is growing — but that’s another story.

Snowden isn’t the first person to point out that metadata can be more revealing than content. Far from it.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 15, 2014

Use Google’s new panel in security settings to keep your account safe;  WhatsApp will soon support voice calling;  Five reasons why you shouldn’t buy a smartwatch yet;  5 Wearables More Interesting Than the Apple Watch;  Places Is A Sharing Platform That Puts Privacy First;  Best 10 smartphones for holiday buying season;  Leaked Clips Show Windows 9 In Action;  Windows 9 leaks: How to get its best new features today;  We’ve got a $35 Firefox OS phone; what do you want to know?  New malware spreads over Twitch chat;  Firefox sneaks out an “inbetweener” update;  Apple Pay gives Apple 0.15% of your purchase;  Games Review Round-Up – September 2014;  Seed Is Creating A Truly Idiot-Proof Internet Of Things;  USB Image Tool (free);  The War on Drug Tests;  Civil liberties are too important to be left to the technologists.

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

WhatsApp will soon support voice calling – First spotted by the folks at NDTV Gadgets, an iOS permissions alert is the one that revealed the upcoming feature. If you haven’t given WhatsApp access to your microphone the app will notify you by saying “WhatsApp requires microphone access to send Voice Messages, record Videos with sounds, make and receive Voice Calls”. The feature seems to already be coded inside the app but it’s not yet functional.

Facebook Tests Disappearing Posts Feature – The option, which is being offered to a small subset of users, allows them to set posts to delete anytime from 1 hour to 7 days after they are initially published, The Next Web reports. Facebook has released many features to select groups of users in the past before deciding to either roll them out larger or go back to the drawing board. Though Facebook hasn’t publicly revealed what the tool actually looks like, some users have taken to Twitter to share screenshots.

Five reasons why you shouldn’t buy a smartwatch yet – With the long anticipated release of Apple Watch this past week, the company behind it put a lot of coal in the engine of the wearable train. For a solid year, the world hemmed and hawed about smartwatches, waiting to see what Apple would do. Now that they’re officially in the mix, here are a few reasons to sit this early-adopter’s segment out — at least for a year.

5 Wearables More Interesting Than the Apple Watch – There are plenty of reasons Apple Watch will be a winner, both in early 2015 when it’s released and it future generations of the product, when I think it will have more steam. But there’s something slightly disappointing about this device at the same time. It’s not very futuristic. Consider these five wearables that go beyond the wrist.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to make webmail your default email in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera – When you click an email address your browser is handing off responsibility for a special kind of link, called mailto, to a desktop program. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In most modern Windows browsers you can turn a webmail account into your default email program. The only drawback is that setting a webmail service as your default is not system wide, meaning you have to set your preferred mail service as the default in each separate browser you use.

Best 10 smartphones for holiday buying season – Matthew Miller’s updated list includes the best Android and Windows handsets now available, as well as — surprise! — a new iPhone.

Places Is A Sharing Platform That Puts Privacy First – Places is a privacy-centric startup that’s building a secure Dropbox-style platform for file sharing and messaging — but one that has end-to-end, client-side encryption built in. It’s currently launched in early alpha and is inviting people to sign up for a forthcoming beta at Joinplaces.com. (The alpha is also open to Windows and Mac OS users.) Another twist is it’s also seeking to disrupt the server-client architecture of existing sharing platforms by enabling users to host their own content. With Places, the user’s content can be stored and served from their own Mac, PC or Linux machine.

Leaked Clips Show Windows 9 In Action – Around two weeks out from the purported release date of the technical preview of Windows 9, videos of the upcoming operating system have hit the Internet. German site WinFuture has released a mess of screenshots and videos of the upcoming code over the past few days, to our benefit. A number of clips are up for watching, detailing how Windows 9 will handle multiple desktops, the return of the Start Menu, and more.

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Windows 9: Storage Sense is coming too – This feature, which was first made available in Windows Phone 8.1, allows you to easily manage your internal and external (microSD) storage. The feature makes it simple to understand what is filling up your space such as apps, games, videos etc. Simply put, it’s a total storage management solution in one app and it looks like it is coming to Windows 9 too.

Windows 9 leaks: How to get its best new features today – The Windows “Threshold” update rumored for April 2015? Windows 9, which is rumored to be announced in Technical Preview form in early October? No one knows. But you don’t have to wait to get those killer features. With the first universal apps hitting the various Windows Stores this week, here’s how to bring a Start menu, windowed Metro apps, and virtual desktops to Windows 8.1 today.

Verizon Tips a La Carte Internet TV Service in 2015 – Verizon is looking to roll out its Internet TV service by mid-2015, with an offering that will allow viewers to pick and choose the channels they want.

New ‘Cosmos’ browser surfs the net by TXT alone – While the number of mobile phones in the world continues to rise, most of the networks are yet to experience the joys of fast downloads – and in many places, the mobile network is the main contact with the outside world, since fixed networks haven’t been built. Enter the Cosmos Browser project: a bit of code that lets users browse the Web using just text messages. TXT messages can carry 140 characters, at eight bytes a character, which is 1,120 bytes per message. Multiply that by three-TXTs-per-second Cosmos consumes and we get a bitrate of 3.36 Kbps. Or about 50 per cent faster than the 2400 baud modems that kicked off consumer internet use in the West.

We’ve got a $35 Firefox OS phone; what do you want to know? – For $35, you get a spec list from six or seven years ago: a 3.5-inch 480×320 LCD, 1GHz Spreadtrum SC6821 SoC, 128MB of RAM, 46MB of internal storage, a 2MP rear camera, and a 1250mAh battery. There’s no 3G, GPS, front-facing camera, or camera flash, but at least you get Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and EDGE data. There’s also a MicroSD slot (mandatory for taking pictures), dual SIM slots, and, oh yeah, it runs Firefox OS.

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Skype version for broadcasters released to manufacturers – A special version of Skype designed for professional TV broadcasts reached another milestone with its release to manufacturers and the signing of three hardware partners. Skype TX, announced in April, combines hardware and software, and was created to let Skype video calls be integrated into a professional studio broadcast production.

How to install new fonts on the Android platform – If you’re looking for more customization on your Android device, let Jack Wallen show you how to add new fonts to help personalize or brand your Android smartphone.

Security:

Firefox sneaks out an “inbetweener” update, with security improvements rather than fixes – Usually, if everything goes according to plan, Firefox updates appear every six weeks. But if needs must, Mozilla delivers in-between updates, too, and that’s what has happened here, bumping Firefox from version 32.0 to 32.0.1.

Tasty Spam: Phishing Isn’t Just About Your Money – When we talk about phishing, we tend to focus on financial fraud, such as the fake bank websites and ecommerce portals. The attackers are looking for ways to steal our credit card numbers and online banking credentials. Cloudmark reminds us in this month’s Tasty Spam that phishing can target non-financial accounts, as well. The theft of celebrity photos from iCloud is a perfect example of attackers going after non-essential accounts and the kind of damage that could be inflicted. Cloudmark shared some types of phishing attempts against non-financial accounts which may be landing in your inbox right now.

Turning the tables on “Windows Support” scammers by compromising their PCs – Matt Weeks is one of the developers who contributes code to the open source Metasploit Project, a sprawling and continually updated security framework that functions as a repository for software vulnerabilities and is frequently used as a Swiss Army Knife for penetration testing. Weeks has published a long report on his site detailing how he was able to reverse-engineer the encrypted communications protocol used by Ammyy Admin, one of the most popular remote control apps used by tech support scammers, and then use that knowledge to ferret out a vulnerability in the Ammyy Admin application.

New malware spreads over Twitch chat, targets Steam accounts – If you use gaming video streaming site Twitch, you’ll want to be careful what you click on. A new piece of malware spread through Twitch’s chat feature will attempt to bleed your Steam account dry, according to security software maker F-Secure. The malware spreads through messages posted to Twitch chat that try to entice users into entering a weekly raffle. Click on the link, and a Java program will open up a phony raffle entry form. Once you fill out and submit the form (which, according to F-Secure, doesn’t actually get sent anywhere), the malware goes to work.

Company News:

Apple Pay gives Apple 0.15% of your purchase – Yesterday, we told you about Apple’s plans to monetize Apple Pay. By taking a small cut of the transaction fee a bank charges a merchant, Apple stands to make a large chunk of change. Now we get further details on just what kind of deals Apple may have struck with various institutions, and how much they really might be raking in.

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HP Russia guilty of government bribery using “secret slush fund” – An HP subsidiary, HP Russia, pleaded guilty to bribing Russian companies in order to score a technology contract worth millions, US prosecutors said. The company has agreed to pay a $58.77 million fine in a prosecution brought by San Francisco federal prosecutors asserting the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which applies to US companies and their subsidiaries abroad.

Google acquires online survey specialist Polar – Google has acquired Polar, a company that specializes in online polls that allows its customers to get “instant opinions on anything.” The deal was announced on Polar’s website and Dave Bresbis, vice president of engineering for Google+, welcomed the addition of Polar’s staff to his team in a Google+ post. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ericsson buys Fabrix Systems for $95M to help put TV on any screen – The acquisition is intended to help service providers deliver what Ericsson calls TV Anywhere, for viewing on multiple devices with high-quality and relevant content for each user. Cable operators, telecommunications carriers and other service providers are seeing rapid growth in video streaming and want to reach consumers on multiple screens. That content increasingly is hosted in cloud data centers and delivered via Internet Protocol networks.

Oracle acquires media storage company Front Porch Digital – Oracle will likely pitch its database, content management tools and analytics packages to Front Porch customers such as A&E Television, BBC, Discovery and Nascar.

Games and Entertainment:

Games Review Round-Up – September 2014 – Each week we post a review round-up and news of the latest games on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and on the PC. This week we have first impressions of Destiny and a review of Infamous: First Light.

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New Xbox 360 Holiday Bundles Announced – The first bundle is the “Xbox 360 500 GB Holiday Value Bundle” which will go on sale for $249. The pack will include copies of the ever popular Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, you also get a month of Xbox Live Gold to play online with. Next up is the “Xbox 360 Special Edition Blue Bundle” which includes everything from the above bundle along with an arctic blue console and controller and retails for the same price of $249, but will only be available at Walmart in America. Finally there is the “Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Bundle” which comes with Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports and Forza Horizon. It also has one month of free Xbox Live access and retails for $249.

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GTA V arrives November 18 on PS4 and Xbox One, PC gamers left waiting until January – In a press release Rockstar has confirmed that GTA V will launch for PS4 and Xbox one on November 18. However, if you’ve been waiting to play the game on PC, then stop looking forward to spending your Christmas roaming around Los Santos. Rockstar isn’t releasing the PC version until January 27 next year.

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RollerCoaster Tycoon World preview: The ride never ends – I write some weird sentences in this industry. Here’s one: It’s 2014, and Atari is working on a RollerCoaster Tycoon sequel. I got an in-depth (but hands-off) look at the game recently, and here’s what I noticed.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Seed Is Creating A Truly Idiot-Proof Internet Of Things – In the vast panoply of potential home networking protocols, there are only a few worth worrying about. Wi-Fi works well but it can go down and ZigBee and the like are sparsely supported. But Bluetooth Smart is local, secure, and easy to use. And that’s what Seed Labs is using to connect our lamps, our blinds, and even our tea kettles. This Polish startup has built a small chip – about as big as a postage stamp and twice as thick as one – that can go into any appliance. Chip-enabled devices will then show up automatically on phones that are compatible with Bluetooth Smart, allowing you to control lights, put the kettle on for tea, or drop the shutters. It’s a B2B play that could revolutionize how we think about home networking and control.

Putting Smartphone Zombies In Their Place – City planners are charged with designing cities for residents, from developing spaces for popular activities to balancing the needs of different constituencies. For planners in Chongqing, China, one of those constituencies are people absorbed in their smartphones, who have come into conflict with another group, often called human beings. So the city has done the obvious thing when two groups clash: you build special sidewalks to separate them from each other.

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Anita Sarkeesian shares the most radical thing you can do to support women online – Anyone looking to support women suffering from harassment online has a surprisingly simple place to start, says Anita Sarkeesian, founder of the web video series Feminist Frequency. “One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences,” Sarkeesian told the audience today at XOXO Festival in Portland. It’s radical in part because of misinformation campaigns organized against high-profile women that accuse them of making up the threats against them — and it’s an issue that Sarkeesian has recent experience dealing with.

Most Americans Don’t Want Internet ‘Fast Lanes,’ Poll Finds – A particularly timely finding, as the public comment period for Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rule on net neutrality draws to a close. Two-thirds of Americans don’t like the idea of big web companies paying Internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver their content more quickly via so-called “fast lanes” on the Internet, according to a recent poll.

Colorado High Schooler Invents Smart Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint – Colorado has a history with gun violence so it’s only appropriate that 17-year-old Kai Kloepfer, a high school student from Boulder, would want to apply biometric user authentication to firearms. Kloepfer just won the $50,000 Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge for his smart gun prototype. The gun works by creating a user ID and locking in the fingerprint of each user allowed to use the gun. The gun will only unlock with the unique fingerprint of those who have already permission to access the gun. The clearly brainy teen tells me he has an interest in information security. According to him, all user data is kept right on the gun and nothing is uploaded anywhere else so it would be pretty hard to hack. This potentially makes it ideal for military use as well.

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The War on Drug Tests – Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in two states, and for medical use in 23. So why can employers still fire you if you test positive for weed on a drug test?

Something to think about:

“I don’t like the fact that someone I don’t know … can pick up, if they’re a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property.”

-      Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Today’s Free Downloads:

HandBrake 0.10 Beta 4 – Convert from many common multimedia file formats, including unprotected DVD or BluRay sources to a handful of modern output file formats.

Features:

Multi-platform, Multi-threaded Video Transcoder

Video Encoding to several popular formats (H.264, Mpeg-4, Mpeg-2, Theora)

File Formats (MP4 and MKV)

Audio Encoding (and passthru) – AAC, MP3, FLAC, AC3, DTS, DTSHD etc

Subtitle Support (SRT, SSA, VOBSub, Closed Captions)

Filters (DeInterlace, DeTelecine, Deblocking, Cropping, Scaling)

Chapters

Presets for common use-cases

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

Features:

create image files of USB flash drives

restore images of USB flash drives

compressed image file format

show USB device information

manage favorite USB images

command line utility

USB Image Tool works with any device, that implements the USB Mass Storage protocol. This includes flash drives, card readers and a lot of other devices, like digicams, cell phones and mobile music players.

USB Image Tool supports the globull secure mobile work environment.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Civil liberties are too important to be left to the technologists – A revolution is afoot in privacy regulation. In an assortment of white papers and articles, business leaders—including Microsoft—and scholars argue that instead of regulating privacy through limiting the collection of data, we should focus on how the information is used. It’s called “use regulation,” and this seemingly obscure issue has tremendous implications for civil liberties and our society. Ultimately, it can help determine how much power companies and governments have.

You are probably familiar with privacy laws that regulate the collection of data—for example, the military’s famous “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue.” When you interview for a job, the employer should not ask you about your religion, your plans to have children, or whether you are married. There’s also the national movement to “ban the box” to stop collection of arrest and old conviction data on job applications.

In a use-regulation world, companies may collect any data they wish but would be banned from certain uses of the data. In U.S. law, a good example of use regulation comes from credit reporting. Your credit report can be used only for credit decisions, employment screening, and renting an apartment. Or consider your physician: Her professional norms encourage expansive data collection, but she can use medical records only to advance patient care.

Bans on data collection are powerful tools to prevent institutions from using certain knowledge in their decision-making. But advocates of use regulations have some compelling points: Collection rules are too narrow by themselves. They ignore the real-life problem that we just click away our rights for the newest free service. And, increasingly, technologies gather data with no realistic opportunity to give notice to the individual at all. Some of these technologies can be used to infer knowledge about the very issues collection limitations attempt to protect. For instance, consider the Target Corporation’s ability to infer that a shopper was pregnant when she went from buying scented to unscented lotion. Use regulations shift the pressure away from notice and choice, making a more universal set of rules for data.

(Civil liberties are too important to be left to the technologists? Seriously?

Much to our disillusionment, we’re acutely aware that civil liberties are too important to be left to the bloody political class!)

Snowden: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Isn’t Telling the Truth About Mass Surveillance – Like many nations around the world, New Zealand over the last year has engaged in a serious and intense debate about government surveillance. The nation’s prime minister, John Key of the National Party, has denied that New Zealand’s spy agency GCSB engages in mass surveillance, mostly as a means of convincing the country to enact a new law vesting the agency with greater powers. This week, as a national election approaches, Key repeated those denials in anticipation of a report in The Intercept today exposing the Key government’s actions in implementing a system to record citizens’ metadata.

Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched.

At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called “XKEYSCORE.” It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic. I know this because it was my full-time job in Hawaii, where I worked every day in an NSA facility with a top secret clearance.

The prime minister’s claim to the public, that “there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance” is false. The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks.

Australia: NSW Police use hacking software to spy on computers and smartphones: WikiLeaks data – NSW Police are using sophisticated hacking software to spy on smartphones and computers during criminal investigations, according to documents published by WikiLeaks on Monday.

FinFisher, also known as FinSpy, is surveillance software sold by German company Gamma International. The software is typically used by intelligence and policing agencies to break into computers and mobiles and can secretly log keystrokes and take screenshots.

It can also remotely capture Skype and instant messenger conversations and take control of computer microphones and web cameras to listen in.

The documents show NSW Police purchased approximately $2.5 million worth of licences for the software, starting in September 2011. They reveal the agency has held nine licences for FinSpy, FinFly, FinIntrusion, FinSpy Mobile and FinFireWire over the past three years.

NSW Police is named as the only Australian agency among many around the world to have spent a collective $72 million on the software. NSW Police did not deny the spyware’s use. (recommended by Mal C.)

The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies – “Fuck!” That is the word that comes to the mind of Christian Steffen, the CEO of German satellite communications company Stellar PCS. He is looking at classified documents laying out the scope of something called Treasure Map, a top secret NSA program. Steffen’s firm provides internet access to remote portions of the globe via satellite, and what he is looking at tells him that the company, and some of its customers, have been penetrated by the U.S. National Security Agency and British spy agency GCHQ.

Stellar’s visibly shaken chief engineer, reviewing the same documents, shares his boss’ reaction. “The intelligence services could use this data to shut down the internet in entire African countries that are provided access via our satellite connections,” he says.

Treasure Map is a vast NSA campaign to map the global internet. The program doesn’t just seek to chart data flows in large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. Rather, it seeks to identify and locate every single device that is connected to the internet somewhere in the world—every smartphone, tablet, and computer—”anywhere, all the time,” according to NSA documents. Its internal logo depicts a skull superimposed onto a compass, the eyeholes glowing demonic red.

The breathtaking mission is described in a document from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden provided to The Intercept and Der Spiegel. Treasure Map’s goal is to create an “interactive map of the global internet” in “almost real time.” Employees of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance—England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—can install and use the program on their own computers. It evokes a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird’s eye view of the planet’s digital arteries.

Senator demands US courts recover 10 years of online public records – The head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee is urging the federal bureaucracy to restore a decade’s worth of electronic court documents that were deleted last month from online viewing because of an upgrade to a computer database known as PACER.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) said the removal of the thousands of cases from online review is essentially erasing history.

“Wholesale removal of thousands of cases from PACER, particularly from four of our federal courts of appeals, will severely limit access to information not only for legal practitioners, but also for legal scholars, historians, journalists, and private litigants for whom PACER has become the go-to source for most court filings,” Leahy wrote Friday to US District Judge John D. Bates, the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO).

The letter, obtained by The Washington Post, blasted the Aug. 10 decision commencing “without any warning to the public, and without prior notification or consultation with Congress.” The letter said that “Given the potential impact of the AO’s recent decision, I urge the AO take immediate steps to restore access to these documents.”

Justice Sotomayor says technology could lead to “Orwellian world” – Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor says that without proper privacy safeguards, the advancement of technology could lead to a world like the one portrayed in “1984” by George Orwell.

Speaking to Oklahoma City University faculty and students, the justice said Thursday that technology has allowed devices to “listen to your conversations from miles away and through your walls.” She added: “We are in that brave new world, and we are capable of being in that Orwellian world, too.”

The President Obama appointee also discussed the lack of privacy standards concerning drones.

There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that’s happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom. Because people think that it should be protected just against government intrusion, but I don’t like the fact that someone I don’t know…can pick up, if they’re a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property.

The justice’s remarks about drones comes as California is close to joining 10 other states requiring the police to get a court warrant to surveil with a drone. Those states include Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. California’s bill is pending, awaiting action from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Swedish ISP urges European Commission to end ‘illegal data retention’ – Swedish law requiring network operators to retain communications metadata continues to breach European Union rules, according to Swedish ISP Bahnhof, which has asked the European Commission to intervene.

Together with the 5th of July Foundation, a Swedish organization that aims to protect online rights, Bahnhof sent an official complaint to the Commission. They want the Commission to initiate proceedings against the Swedish government “for blatantly ignoring” a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), they said in a news release.

The EU’s Data Retention Directive had previously required telecommunications and Internet service providers to retain their customer’s location and traffic metadata for investigatory purposes, but in May the CJEU invalidated the directive because it seriously interferes with fundamental privacy rights.

Bahnhof stopped retaining customer data and deleted all its records a few days after the ruling. It did so with the permission of the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS), which said at the time that ISPs could stop collecting data and delete records without consequence. After analyzing the verdict, the authority concluded that there would probably be “big problems” if it tried to enforce the Swedish data retention law that is still in place.

However, in mid-August the PTS ordered Bahnhof to start retaining data again, Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung said. The PTS has made a 180-degree turn in policy by ordering Bahnhof—and Tele2, which also stopped retaining data for a while—to resume doing so.

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