Tag Archives: tech

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 2, 2014

Keeping your photos – explicit or not – safe from the cloud;  Top Android apps, August 2014;  Top iOS apps of the month, August 2014;  Best mobile games of August 2014;  Jennifer Lawrence, failed by the Web;  What Are Hackers Thinking?  Firefox now ships with adverts, but don’t panic;  A scan-to-PDF tool for Android that’s worth its weight in data;  IRS calling? Nope. It’s a scam;  Fraudulent Netflix site wants to leave you high and dry;  5 tips on migrating to open-source software;  Tests compare Mac OS X anti-malware products;  The 11 best PC co-op games to play with your friends;  Apple manipulates journalists using anonymous social media accounts;  Which is better: Xbox One or PS4?  September’s Hottest Video Game Releases;  Map: See Every Single Device Connected to the Internet;  Watch yourself! Adult magazine’s guide to sousveillance, or copwatching;  PornHub tells us which operating system comes first with revealing stats.

Keeping your photos – explicit or not – safe from the cloud – This week a leak of explicit celebrity photos has summoned the need for additional security measures. Not just the kind of security measures you take by purchasing “keep me private” apps and the like, but the kind that includes common sense and the flipping of a few key switches in your phone. As it turns out – you CAN take whatever photos you like without having them leaked to the public.

Jennifer Lawrence, failed by the Web – We’ve all been naive to believe that there is any sort of true security on the Web. The case of the mass leaking of naked celebrity pictures is just one example.

(Failed by the Web? B.S. Just another artificial Hollywood construct who is most deserving of a Darwin Award. Hollywood; Actors; Responsibility – Oxymoron.)

Facebook says not to believe the rumors, wants you to trust its Messenger app – You’ve probably read the rumors by now: Facebook’s Messenger app records your movements! Spies on your conversations! Kills baby unicorns! Facebook wants you to know that it’s doing nothing of the sort. In a statement from Peter Martinazzi, a member of the Facebook Messenger development team, the social media company explains that Messenger doesn’t actively listen in or watch you through your phone’s on-board camera and microphone. Instead, it asks to use your camera and microphone so you can make audio chats, or send photos and videos to your friends.

Chrome extension adds bookmarks to right-click menu – The Context Bookmarks extension lets you keep your bookmarks bar hidden but its contents readily available.

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Why in-air gestures failed, and why they’ll soon win – Don’t count out in-the-air gesture technology out yet. It will soon become a mainstream technology that just about everyone will use.

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With Leap Motion’s technology, a user can control a  PC with gestures. Credit: Leap Motion

What Are Hackers Thinking? – When you’re a victim of a malware or phishing campaign, you’re probably asking yourself a series of panicked questions. Why are you being targeted in the first place? What exactly are hackers looking for? Password management company Thycotic decided to tackle these burning questions by going directly to the source. The company conducted a survey of self-identified hackers at Black Hat USA 2014 to understand these cyber masterminds better.

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A scan-to-PDF tool for Android that’s worth its weight in data – There are plenty of scanning apps out there and plenty that do a great job of scanning to PDF. The problem with many of these apps is that they rely heavily on your ability to do a good job of snapping a photo of the image you want to import into a PDF. Snap a crooked shot or one that’s out of perspective, and you’ll wind up sending off a less-than-professional document. That’s all fine and good if you can take perfect shots of your documents every time. But for those times when you can’t, you’ll be glad you have Quick PDF Scanner.

Top Android apps, August 2014 – Here are some of the most interesting apps for the Android operating system we’ve discovered this month.

Top iOS apps of the month, August 2014 – What are some of the most interesting apps for Apple’s iOS operating system we’ve discovered this month?

Internet Archive Uploads 2.4 Million Historical Images to Flickr – If you have a hankering for some old-timey cat pictures, the Internet Archive has you covered. These images are the first batch of what the Internet Archive is calling “The Commons,” a new collection made up photographs from the more than 600 million book pages that the organization has digitally scanned. The pages themselves amount to more than 19 petabytes’ worth of data—with more than 14 million images eventually expected to make their way online.

Firefox now ships with adverts, but don’t panic – Mozilla talked about shipping Firefox with built-in ads, and they’ve arrived. Sponsored Tiles are now active in Firefox Nightly. How, exactly, do Sponsored Tiles change Firefox? Not much at all, really. Sponsored Tiles look exactly like the Discovery Tiles Mozilla has already been offering to you as suggested browsing destinations on the New Tab page. They are, however, clearly marked as being sponsored — just like the targeted ads that occupy the top of every major search engine’s results page.

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Google Glass human emotion detector is by far the creepiest wearable app – You know that old mood ring joke? A husband buys his wife a mood ring and uses the colors to tell whether or not he’s in trouble, and the punch line is when she’s mad, the ring leaves a red mark upside his head? Thanks to Fraunhofer IIS, there’s now a Google Glass app for this experience, complete with a probable smack upside your head or worse should you ever use the app on an unsuspecting person.

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5 tips on migrating to open-source software – Regardless of what Free Open Source Software (FOSS) you need to use, you might not always find it the most natural evolution — especially when you’ve spent the whole of your career using proprietary software. The thing is, a lot of open-source software has matured to the point where it rivals (and sometimes bests) its proprietary counterpart. With that in mind, I wanted to offer up my five best tips for migrating from a closed-software ecosystem to an open one.

Migrate systems from one version of Windows to another with the Zinstall Migration Suite – This tool will allow you to quickly and easily transfer an entire user workspace — including applications, settings, personalization, documents, domain settings, security policies, and data files — from one system to another in a multitude of scenarios. For example, you can migrate from one computer to another, transfer from a physical machine to a virtual machine, perform an in-place upgrade, or simply transfer profiles, settings, and data. In this article, I’ll show you how the Zinstall Migration Suite works. As I do, I’ll use the package to migrate an existing Windows 7 system over to a new Windows 8.1 installation. The Zinstall Migration Suite is an enterprise-level product and, as such, pricing varies.

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WallyHome review: Sniffs out water leaks all over your home – WallyHome is a network of moisture sensors that you can stash all over your home, where they’ll immediately alert you to problems like leaks, mold, or abnormal temperature and humidity levels. After I set up sensors in my bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and even the attic, I could rest easier knowing I’d be notified—and thoroughly. When I simulated a leaky bathroom sink, I got a push notification, an email, and a text message, and WallyHome even followed up with an “all clear” email once I’d cleaned everything up.

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Security:

IRS calling? Nope. It’s a scam – CNET’s Charlie Cooper got a call one day from the IRS — or so the caller claimed. But it was an all too common social-engineering scam. And you could be next.

Fraudulent Netflix site wants to leave you high and dry – Eric Lawrence, creator of the famous Fiddler web debugger, spotted a phishing attack targeting Netflix customers. Readers of this blog may remember a similar one we identified several months ago. This new one is more sophisticated (better graphics, etc) although it does not have the tech support scam element but instead goes after your identity and wallet.

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Find My iPhone exploit patched following celebrity photos leak – In a move that may be related to the recent glut of leaked celebrity photos, Apple has patched a “Find My iPhone” exploit that was detailed shortly before the content pilfering took place. It isn’t yet known whether the two are related, but the timing has many suspicious.

CryptoWall ransomware held over 600,000 computers hostage, encrypted 5B files – A file-encrypting ransomware program called CryptoWall infected over 600,000 computer systems in the past six months and held 5 billion files hostage, earning its creators more than $1 million, researchers found. The threat has been spreading since at least November 2013, but until the first quarter of this year it remained mostly overshadowed by CryptoLocker, another ransomware program that infected over half a million systems from September 2013 through May.

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Rigged industrial software site points to watering hole attack – The rogue code injected into the compromised site loaded a JavaScript file from a remote server that was actually a reconnaissance framework dubbed Scanbox, Blasco said. In addition to collecting basic information like the browser type, computer IP (Internet Protocol) address, operating system and language, this tool uses advanced techniques to detect which security programs are installed on the visitor’s system, he said. According to the AlienVault analysis, Scanbox also tests if the computer uses Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) anti-exploitation tool and enumerates the locally installed versions of Adobe Flash, Microsoft Office, Acrobat Reader and Java — programs that are frequently targeted with Web-based exploits to install malware.

Tests compare Mac OS X anti-malware products – The Mac malware situation is a much lower-pressure one than that on Windows, so many products perform very well. But it’s still worth comparing them, so AV-TEST.org tests 18 products, both free and paid.

Company News:

Apple manipulates journalists using anonymous social media accounts – Apple has long been praised for its PR mastery, but it’s hordes of positive press isn’t a coincidence: the company whips certain journalists to provide good coverage, and even spies on writers.

Intel turns its attention to desktop performance, unveils 8-core Haswell-E processor – Intel took the wraps off its most powerful consumer CPU at the PAX video-game conference in Seattle, WA, today. Intel’s Core i7 High-end Desktop Processor Family, code-named Haswell-E, consists of three unlocked processors that support hyperthreading, DDR4 memory, and Intel’s all-new X99 chipset. The top-of-the-line Core i7-5960X boasts eight cores (16 processor threads), 20MB of cache, and 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes. This $999 processor runs at a base clock frequency of 3.0GHz and torques up to 3.5GHz in turbo mode.

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Windows 8 gains market share as XP drops slightly – The latest data for desktop usage share shows that Windows 8 has gained during the last month while XP has lost nearly one percent, but Windows 7 still remains dominant.

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China gives Microsoft twenty days to respond to antitrust inquiry – Chinese authorities looking into alleged antitrust violations by Microsoft have given the company twenty days to “make a written explanation” to questions and concerns raised by investigators.

Apple tipped to unveil iPhone Wallet next week – On a technological level, we could say that we could see it coming. The iPhone 6 is rumored to tuck an NFC chip inside, the first for the company who has previously been quite cold over the wireless technology. Paired with the Touch ID biometric security and you have pretty much the scaffolding for a payment system that is potentially more secure than what we’ve seen so far.

Alibaba IPO planned for week of Sept. 8, report says – The Chinese e-commerce giant is reportedly set to launch its blockbuster IPO in the U.S. the very same week Apple is expected to bring us the iPhone 6.

Games and Entertainment:

The 11 best PC co-op games to play with your friends – Here we’ve rounded up twelve games that are better in every way to play with friends. Yeah, you could play some of them alone. Sure, you could (if you’re insane) play some of them with random Internet strangers who love to use profanity. But if you pair up with a partner or three you’ll have a much more rewarding experience.

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Divinity: Original Sin

Which is better: Xbox One or PS4? – Few topics in our day-to-day lives, like choosing which game console is superior, turn otherwise civil individuals into aggressive combatants. So now it’s time to look at the evidence and answer the question for ourselves. Nearly ten months after the launch of the next-generation consoles, is the PS4 or Xbox One the better platform?

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

September’s Hottest Video Game Releases – Summer is drawing to a close and with it goes the easygoing mood of the season as the world returns to work and school. Fortunately, just because playtime is over doesn’t mean that gaming time is over, as there are a ton of great game releases in September to help ease the transition to more serious pursuits. In fact, the pace of highly anticipated game releases picks up this month with a wave of promising games that span many consoles and genres.

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Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition revealed, preorders now up – Released in 2000, Icewind Dale takes players once more to the D&D campaign world of Forgotten Realms, this time to the frigid north to fight, what else, evil. But Beamdog has done more than just bring forward the old game to this decade, it has added a ton of new features you won’t find in the original version. The Enhanced Edition, or EE, expands the amount of content considerably. And it’s not just the six expanded quests. The game adds new classes and combinations inherited from Beamdog’s previous work with Balduer’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition.

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10 obscure Steam features that can power up your PC gaming – Let’s cut to the chase: For many people, PC gaming is synonymous with Steam. Valve’s ubiquitous gaming client is both storefront and service, delivering a one-stop shop for buying games, playing and managing those games, and even building out a friends list to chat with while you game. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Steam’s rife with hidden features that can help you get more out of your PC gaming experience—tricks that few people ever touch. Here are some of the most useful.

Off Topic (Sort of):

See Every Single Device Connected to the Internet – The map was created by John Matherly, founder of Shodan, a search engine that probes the Internet’s backend for connections to all sorts of devices from routers to refrigerators. Matherly said it took about five hours to ping every IP address on the Internet and store every positive response. It took another 12 hours to plot the responses on a heat map which glows bright orange in densely connected areas and blue and black in sparsely connected areas.

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John Oliver turns to YouTube to thank, spank commenters – In a YouTube special, the HBO comedian marvels at the commentary he incites. It’s already received some erudite comments.

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You’re overestimating Google’s driverless cars – Never tested in snow or heavy rain, potentially ignoring police, and confused into swerving by crumpled newspaper: Google’s self-driving cars face more than a few lingering problems before they’re truly ready for the road. The search behemoth’s plans to start tests of its control-free “pods” out in public had already collided with California’s DMV, which demanded that at least rudimentary steering and pedals be fitted before they’d be road-legal, but that may only be the start of Google’s headaches.

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PornHub tells us which operating system comes first with revealing stats – As you can imagine, the majority of computers being used to watch internet pornography are Windows machines, sitting at a commanding 85%. Apple’s OS X only makes up about 11% of the desktop porn-watching community, while Linux only makes up a very Linux-like 1.7% of watchers. As for what versions of Windows lords over the porndom, Windows 7 sits atop the moist throne with a staggering 62% of viewers, followed by XP’s 16%, Window 8′s 14%, and Vista’s 6.5% — which is surprising, because people are still actually using Vista. Older versions of Windows, such as NT, ME, 2000, and even 95 and 98 still visit PornHub, but those numbers are relatively meager.

Something to think about:

“There are no whole truths; all truths are half- truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil”.

-     Alfred North Whitehead (1861 – 1947)

Today’s Free Downloads:

QuickSetDNS – QuickSetDNS is a simple tool that allows you to easily change the DNS servers that are used for your Internet connection. You can set the desired DNS servers from the user interface, by choosing from a list of DNS servers that you defined, or from command-line, without displaying any user interface.

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Wireless Network Watcher – Wireless Network Watcher is a small utility that scans your wireless network and displays the list of all computers and devices that are currently connected to your network.

For every computer or device that is connected to your network, the following information is displayed: IP address, MAC address, the company that manufactured the network card, and optionally the computer name.

You can also export the connected devices list into html/xml/csv/text file, or copy the list to the clipboard and then paste into Excel or other spreadsheet application.

Using Wireless Network Watcher

Wireless Network Watcher doesn’t require any installation process or additional dll files. In order to start using it, simply extract the executable file (WNetWatcher.exe) from the zip file, and run it.

If you want, you can also download WNetWatcher with full install/uninstall support (wnetwatcher_setup.exe), so a shortcut for running WNetWatcher will be automatically added into your start menu.

After running WNetWatcher, it automatically locates your wireless adapter, and scans your network. After a few seconds, you should start see the list of computers that are currently connected to your network.

If from some reason, WNetWatcher failed to locate and scan your network, you can try to manually choosing the correct network adapter, by pressing F9 (Advanced Options) and choosing the right network adapter.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft Continues Its Campaign Against A US Warrant Demanding Overseas Data – A search warrant commanding Microsoft to turn over certain customer email data that is currently stored overseas was unfrozen late this week. The company declined to comply.

In a statement, Microsoft said that it “will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal.” This protest act by Microsoft, arguing that domestic warrants should not be able to command access to data stored abroad, has picked up support from other technology companies.

Profits are at risk. Modern technology companies vend cloud-based services to a global user base — if any one country can use domestic warrants to command access to the data of all companies that are headquartered within its borders, regardless of where the information in question is physically stored, no company can protect the data of users who hail from other countries from its own government. That would harm the company’s ability to sell services to those potential international customers.

More to the point, why a United States search warrant would apply to a datacenter in Ireland holding data of a person that may not be a United States citizen is somewhat suspect.

Watch yourself! Adult magazine’s guide to sousveillance, or copwatching – In the grim light of Eric Garner’s death, Michael Brown’s death, and the ensuing protests in Ferguson, New York City, and other cities across America, we at ADULT, the independent magazine I edit, have decided to publish online one of our first print issue’s more memorable pieces: Katie J.M. Baker’s guide to sousveillance, or copwatching. Although memorable seems like the wrong word, the kinds of events that impelled her to write the article never seem to stop happening long enough for her guide to be forgotten.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 29, 2014

The first five apps to install on your new Android device;  6 powerful Google Drive features you’re probably not using;  Here come the cheap devices, Archos introduces $149 Windows 8.1 tablet;  5 reasons a small Windows tablet might be in your future;  Contact Center is speed dial on steroids for iPhone users;  4 steps to a better LinkedIn profile;  Microsoft updates OneDrive apps, everyone is getting new features;  In App takes search deep within your phone’s apps;  Six tips for great summer photos;  Convincing YouTube look-alike fires RIG Exploit Kit;  Google Challenges Amazon For Drone Supremacy; Xbox One September Update now rolling out;  Massive cyber attack on oil and energy industry in Norway;  Feds balk at court’s order to explain no-fly list selection process;  You Can Now Buy a GoPro Camera Harness For Your Dog.

The first five apps to install on your new Android device – You finally purchased that new Android device you’ve had your eye on. Now it stares back at you, waiting for you to give it a task. Where do you go from here? Naturally, that depends upon the intended use of the device. But certain applications will come in handy no matter how you plan to use the device. Here are five tools that should be among the first you install. These applications range in scope, but each offers a solid solution to help you get your work done.

6 powerful Google Drive features you’re probably not using – Google Drive apps are loved for their simplicity and ease of use, but don’t let that fool you. There’s a whole lot of power locked up in these web apps. And while we’d never put the suite on a par with Microsoft Office, there are some impressive features in Docs, Sheets, and Slides that you’ve likely overlooked. We’ve highlighted some of the newest features and hidden gems that can help save you time and anguish and create documents that are sure to impress your professors, colleagues, and most importantly, your boss.

4 steps to a better LinkedIn profile – One of the most important things to remember about LinkedIn is that it’s not strictly a resume. Like Facebook or Twitter, it’s a social profile that has to be maintained. If you’re looking to step up your LinkedIn game, here are four tips for improving your page.

Facebook tries to quell Messenger rumors – Facebook is going on the offensive, trying to do damage control for its Messenger app. The social network is responding to a firestorm of user anger that erupted when it appeared that Facebook was forcing people to load its Messenger app in a veiled attempt to usurp their privacy. Now Facebook is trying to set the record straight.

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Contact Center is speed dial on steroids for iPhone users – For iPhone owners in constant communication with their family or coworkers, Contact Center could help speed up some common tasks.

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Annotate Gmail attachments with Chrome extension – If your workflow involves sending loads of email attachments back and forth, the aptly titled Annotate Attachments in Gmail extension for Chrome can help streamline your operation. After installing the extension and restarting Chrome, the next time you mouse over an attachment in Gmail, you’ll see a button has been added next to the Download and Save to Drive buttons. It opens the attachment via the Annotate Attachments in Gmail extension, which lets you annotate and add comments to the file. The extension supports images and PDF, DOC, XLS, and PPT formats.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

Here come the cheap devices, Archos introduces $149 Windows 8.1 tablet – When Microsoft announced that Windows would be free on devices smaller than 9 inches, it was only a matter of time before entry level competitors started putting their OS on cheap tablets.

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5 reasons a small Windows tablet might be in your future – There are a number of smaller Windows tablets hitting the shelves now from Microsoft OEM partners and more on the horizon. At face value it seems like a late attempt by the Windows ecosystem to get in on the mobile device game. The reality, though, is that Microsoft can still capture a respectable—possibly dominant—stake of the tablet market. I can hear the uproar already, but let’s look at why that might not be so crazy. Here are five reasons a small Windows tablet makes sense, and why you might find yourself owning one very soon.

Microsoft updates OneDrive apps, everyone is getting new features – Microsoft has updated nearly all of its OneDrive apps and depending on the platform that you use, there are OS specific updates that are rolling out now.

Dominate your fantasy football league with these 6 apps – From maximizing the draft to scoping out sleepers and making weekly adjustments, these apps will help you crush your friends this season.

You Can Now Buy a GoPro Camera Harness For Your Dog – GoPro, which makes tiny cameras popular with adventurers and travelers, has launched a new camera mount for dogs called Fetch. The dog harness is adjustable to accommodate dogs of all sizes, and GoPro cameras can be attached in two different locations: on the dog’s back and underneath its chest. With Fetch, you can watch your dog chew its bone close-up or frolic through a dog park.

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Minuum Previews Its Size-Shifting Virtual Keyboard For iOS 8 – Toronto startup Minuum is readying its iOS 8 custom keyboard software, now that Apple has made it possible for developers to create that kind of app. The system-wide Minuum virtual keyboard is nearing completion, just in time for the launch of iOS 8 in September, and its developers are looking for those eager to be among the first to try out the software.

In App takes search deep within your phone’s apps – When you’re searching on your smartphone, one of the avenues search often doesn’t look into is apps. Not searching for apps, but in them. A new iOS app is doing just that, diving into the information we store in our apps to make sense of it all.

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How to set up Raspberry Pi, the little computer you can cook into DIY tech projects – The tiny $35 Raspberry Pi computer doesn’t come from a bakery, but it can power your robot army or other DIY electronics project. Here’s how to install Raspbian and get cooking with Pi.

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Six tips for great summer photos – Summer is the perfect time for capturing memories on camera. Here are some quick tips designed for beginner photographers to get the most out of holiday photos.

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Security:

Convincing YouTube look-alike fires RIG Exploit Kit – The lure of salacious videos is often used to trick people into downloading and running malware. As you will see in this example, the bad guys went through enough trouble to make the page look real, from picking a similar URL to creating a convincing error message.

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(This security risk illustrates perfectly why you should not download any extension/add-on/codec……..  from a site other than the author/developer’s site. Never deviate from this practice.)

JPMorgan hackers altered, deleted bank records, says report – The scope of yesterday’s computer attack against JPMorgan Chase and at least one other bank appears to be much larger than initially reported. In addition to possibly affecting seven financial organizations, instead of two as originally reported, some bank records at JPMorgan were altered and possibly deleted, reported CNN, citing unnamed sources. The source of the attacks is not yet known.

Mozilla accidentally left email addresses, passwords of 97k Bugzilla users out in the open – Email addresses and encrypted passwords of around 97,000 users who tested early builds of the Bugzilla bug tracking software were left exposed for three months following a server migration. This is the second accidental data disclosure incident reported this month that affects one of the projects supported by the Mozilla Foundation.

Massive cyber attack on oil and energy industry in Norway – Image of oil platform courtesy of ShutterstockAs many as 300 oil and energy companies have been targeted by hackers in the largest ever coordinated cyber attack in Norway. The Local reports that 50 companies in the oil sector have already been breached while another 250 are at risk.

Company News:

Google Challenges Amazon For Drone Supremacy – Need a tube of toothpaste, but don’t want to wait? Google wants to drone that to you, the Mountain View-based technology giant announced today. Google follows Amazon in announcing that it is building consumer delivery-facing drone technology. Amazon previously disclosed that it is working to build drones that can deliver small parcels to shoppers. The two companies have differing visions, however. Google’s plan appears slanted towards incredibly quick delivery, perhaps in as little as two minutes, a long profile in The Atlantic indicated. Amazon, instead, is focusing on a timeframe closer to thirty minutes.

Apple Sends Invites for Sept. 9 Event – Apple is widely expected to launch its next-gen iPhones next month. Rumor has it that Cupertino will release a 4.7-inch iPhone, as well as a 5.5-inch phablet for the first time. Though Apple chief Tim Cook has expressed doubts about phablets in the past, there’s no question that phones with larger screens are all the rage at the moment. In some cases, they have eaten into small tablet market share as consumers look to save money and purchase just one device. Whether Apple is finally ready to increase its phone sizes from 3.5 and 4 inches to 4.7 and 5.5 inches will be revealed on Sept. 9.

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Valve hit with legal action in Australia over misleading consumers – Valve, the owner of online gaming platform Steam, is facing legal action in the Federal Court of Australia for misleading Australian customers over refunds, warranties and consumer guarantees. The action relates to Valve’s alleged contravention of the Australian Consumer Law — a range of protections that govern consumer contracts, rights when buying goods and services, and product safety.

Uber expands: “55% of US population” now covered – This week the folks at Uber have suggested that their vision of “UberEverywhere” is coming to fruition. With the addition of 24 new cities with Uber coverage, the company now has service in 205 cities across 45 countries. Uber also suggests that they cover 55% of the United States population.

Nadella plans China trip amid antitrust probe — report – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will visit China next month, according to a report. Nadella, who took over as Microsoft’s chief executive from Steve Ballmer earlier this year, will visit China in late September, Reuters reported Thursday, citing an unnamed person who claims to have knowledge of Nadella’s plans. While it’s not clear whether the reason for his trip is China’s ongoing antitrust probe, it’s a possibility.

Deutsche Telekom could part with T-Mobile for $35 a share – Deutsche Telekom, the majority owner of T-Mobile, wants to unload its stake in the US wireless carrier. But only at the right price. The German carrier is willing to negotiate for the sale of T-Mobile if a bid values the company at $35 per share or more, Bloomberg said Thursday, citing unnamed sources. That price isn’t substantially higher than last month’s offer from French telecom company Iliad to buy a majority stake at $33 a share, which T-Mobile rejected.

Games and Entertainment:

Miegakure lets you use the 4th dimension to solve puzzles – Miegakure isn’t your normal platformer. It’s been in development since at least 2009 — but, when you think about the concept behind it, well, it’s not very hard to see why. The game is about folding dimensional space, slipping between two, three, and four dimensions to circumnavigate obstacles. If you’re feeling a bit confused as to how it all works, developer Marc ten Bosch has created a trailer to explain how slipping into the fourth dimension will enable you to walk “through” walls. Although you don’t actually walk “through” them; when you change dimensions, space itself changes, and the walls change too — giving you options that simply weren’t available before.

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GOG news flash: DRM-free movies, local prices, removing games – Good Old Games has just let out a flood of announcements that changes the face of the video game distribution service, both literally and figuratively. Starting today, GOG will be selling games in four new currencies that players can choose, plus a rather enticing offer when US dollar and local prices don’t match. And quite interestingly, GOG is going beyond selling just games, as it now has a few videos in its catalog. All DRM-Free, of course.

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NFL Sunday Ticket Service Now Available For Windows Phone and Xbox One Users – Microsoft adds the NFL Sunday Ticket service to their Windows Phone 8 and Xbox One platforms. The new service offers live and on-demand services for all 32 NFL teams in addition to other features.

Capcom shows us how good Resident Evil remastered looks – Earlier this month Capcom announced that it had decided to remaster the original Resident Evil game first released in 1996. This update on a classic will be re-released on modern hardware, including the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, and PC. Some may view it as a grab for cash, but the original game is now 18 years old, meaning there’s a lot of gamers out there who’ve never experienced Capcom’s survival horror. Now they can, and with a number of much needed enhancements. So how good will this game look when it is released next year? Capcom is keen to show us and has released a bunch of comparison screenshots.

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Xbox One September Update now rolling out, including new Media Player – Microsoft’s Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb has said that the September Update for the Xbox One is now rolling out, including features such as a new Media Player app, and the ability to boot directly to TV.

ALONE… for iOS and Android Is an Endless Runner You Might Actually Want to Play – Think the endless runner genre of mobile gaming has been done to death? Clearly you have not picked up ALONE, the newest title from developer Laser Dog. Just like Laser Dog’s last game, Puk, ALONE is fast-paced and seriously challenging. There are also no in-app purchases.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Microsoft’s latest patch: What went wrong? – Buggy updates are certainly a problem, but the company’s poor communication is an even bigger cause for concern.

Texas ‘Gaming Academy’ Teaches Gamers to Lead – The first students arrived at the University of Texas at Austin this week to study with veteran game developer Warren Spector in a bid to become the next generation of industry leaders. The Academy promises to give students the ability to deal with the real world challenge of running big teams – maintaining communication, staying organized, keeping the creative vision at the fore – from initial concept to post-ship support, and handling the inevitable crises along the way. Spector also wants to get philosophical, encouraging students to think about games as part of popular culture, and where they might be going next as a commercially driven art form.

Did you know Google’s self-driving cars can’t handle 99% of roads in the US? – Many people have heard that Google’s autonomous cars can “drive anywhere a car can legally drive,” but it can’t drive in snow, heavy rains, see “unmapped” traffic lights or stop signs. In other words, Google’s self-driving cars can handle the “matrix” but it can’t navigate on 99% of the roads in the U.S.

3D-printed vertebra successfully implanted for the first time – Spinal injuries are often life-changing, and the solutions are decidedly archaic, sometimes involving surgical cement and screws. The future is finally upon us, however, and with it comes the first implanted 3D printed vertebra. Using 3D printing, the vertebra is designed to match the patient’s spine.

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Radley Balko on the militarization of America’s police force – On August 9th, 2014 a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. The death of Brown fueled days of unrest in Ferguson. Protestors took to the streets and were met with heavily armed police officers in armored vehicles. It wasn’t long before Ferguson, a town of 21,000, resembled a war zone. This week’s VICE Meets is a conversation about the militarization of America’s police force, with journalist and author of Rise of the Warrior Cop, Radley Balko.

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Something to think about:

“I’ve always followed my father’s advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble.”

-       John Wayne

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ratool (Removable Access Tool) – Removable Access tool is a very simple-to-use portable application that helps an individual or a system administrator control USB storage devices. You can protect your confidential data from being copied by others.

Ratool can disable USB storage access or enable write protection on all USB Flash drives thus prevent data from being modified or deleted.

There are a lot of such tools available on the internet but they are not effective, for example if you use a USB disabler and disable any USB storage/pendrive you can use another tool and enable it again easily, meaning; they actually do not protect your USB ports. If you use Ratool you don’t have to worry about such a situation because other tools can not easily break Ratool’s protection.

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Sandboxie 4.13.3 Beta – Run programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer.

Sandboxie requires neither the disabling nor blocking of functions available to Web sites through the browser. Instead, Sandboxie isolates and quarantines the outcome of whatever the Web site may do to your computer, including the installation of unsolicited software. There is no trade-off of functionality for security: the Web site can use the full range of active content tools, and if it uses these tools maliciously to install software or otherwise make changes in your computer, then these changes can be easily undone.

Sandboxie has originally been designed to increase the security of browsing with Internet Explorer, however it is just as effective with any other browser, and in fact, any other program. Sandboxie wraps a protection layer around the programs it supervises. It is this layer that intercepts and isolates any changes the programs make to the computer. And this layer is impartial to the specific program it wraps.

Sandboxie is a software that allows you isolates and quarantines website.

When you browse the web, changes occur to your computer system. Most of the time these changes are harmless, like recording the addresses of web sites you have visited (and when), so the browser can help you complete a web address that you type in. Whether these changes are harmless or harmful, they do in fact happen to your computer system.

When you use Sandboxie to protect your browsing session, it catches all these changes just as the browser is about to apply them into your computer system. Sandboxie does record these changes on behalf of the browser, but it records them in a special isolated folder, called the sandbox.

The benefit of having a sandbox is that it ensures your ability to get rid of all changes done by the browser, simply by deleting the sandbox folder.

Another useful feature of Sandboxie is the ability to terminate all sandboxed programs at once. As some web sites tend to pop up three new browser windows for each one you close, you can have Sandboxie close all of them with a click of a button.

You may use Sandboxie free of charge for any length of time that you desire. However, if you use Sandboxie for more than 30 days, the software will occasionally remind you to consider paying the registration fee. By doing that, you would show your support for further development and improvement of Sandboxie.

By paying the registration fee of $20 US-dollars you get a life-time registration key to this and and all upcoming versions of the Sandboxie product.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Feds balk at court’s order to explain no-fly list selection process: The US shouldn’t place innocent people on the no-fly list, lawyer says – The Obama administration is fighting a federal judge’s order requiring it to explain why the government places US citizens who haven’t been convicted of any violent crimes on its no-fly database.

The administration is challenging the demand from US District Judge Anthony Trenga, who is presiding over the Virginia federal court case. In asking Trenga to reconsider his August 6 order, the government responded last week: “Defendants request clarification of the purpose of the requested submission so that defendants may respond appropriately.”

Trenga’s decision is among a series of setbacks to the government’s insistence that any serious discussion about the no-fly list—about how people get on or off it—would amount to a national security breach.

A federal judge in June, for example, ruled that the Department of Homeland Security’s method for the public to challenge placement on a no-fly list is unconstitutional. The government was ordered to revise the removal process, which was called “wholly ineffective.” And just last month, a government manual on how the authorities place people on the no-fly database—being a terrorist not required—was leaked and published by The Intercept.

The manual describes how somebody can get on the list, which names thousands of individuals. The government refused to acknowledge (PDF) that the manual was leaked.

Data retention critics alarmed by Australian federal police breach – Civil rights groups, legal bodies and information security experts have expressed renewed concern about the government’s push to store greater amounts of phone and web users’ personal information following revelations that the federal police mistakenly published sensitive information and metadata about ongoing criminal investigations.

Guardian Australia reported on Thursday that the AFP provided documents to the Senate that were published online for several years, accidentally disclosing information about the subjects and focus of criminal investigations and telecommunications interception activities.

The revelations have sparked concerns from Labor and the Greens about the AFP’s handling of sensitive telecommunications data, while the Australian Lawyers Alliance has warned that criminal investigations and trials may have been jeopardised as a result of the disclosure.

The federal government has ramped up its push for a mandatory data retention scheme, which could see a greater amount of phone and web information stored for two years that would then be subject to access by the AFP and other enforcement agencies.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns told Guardian Australia the error could have serious implications for criminal investigations and trials if juries became aware that information was accessible online about an investigation that could prejudice a trial.

“It can impact on a person’s rights if there’s information that is adverse to them which has been published and which ordinarily wouldn’t be published because it would be highly prejudicial to any criminal investigations that might result,” he said.

He said the mistaken disclosure showed why the government’s proposals were a grave risk for personal privacy.

Must We Give Up All Sense of Privacy? – Privacy is dead, right? I mean, that’s all I’ve been hearing over the last year. From Edward Snowden to repeated hacks to claims that the US federal government is accessing personal information, we have nothing in the way of real privacy. No, according to all of the reports surrounding the Web, security, and privacy, the only thing we have going for us is, well, the realization that we’re not actually anonymous at all – either online or in our lives.

One can say what they’d like about the anti-privacy efforts going on across the world. Some say that when we head to the Web, we should expect to lose all privacy and to believe that we have it is following a fool’s errand. Others, however, argue that anonymity is a right and privacy is an expectation, and we should stop at nothing to get both.

Unfortunately, the pessimist in me believes that there’s really no way to achieve that goal. While I’d like to see the governments around the world spend less time allegedly intruding our privacy, I’m a realist. I understand that we’ve come to a place where we can never go back. Like it or not, our privacy is dead. And to believe it’s not is a mistake.

Hillary Clinton wants a global pact on surveillance and data collection – Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a “global compact” on surveillance and the use of collected data, saying the U.S. isn’t the only country that does it and American technology companies are unfairly targeted for the government’s actions.

“The U.S. government doesn’t use information for commercial purposes,” while other countries do, Clinton said.

“We need to make it clear to other countries that our technology companies are not part of our government, and that we have more legal processes than any other country that I’m aware of” covering government requests for information, Clinton said during her appearance at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, a technology conference in San Francisco.

The threat of electronic spying was so great in some countries that when traveling as a U.S. official she couldn’t carry any electronics, she said.

“Every time I went to countries like China or Russia, I mean, we couldn’t take our computers, we couldn’t take our personal devices, we couldn’t take anything off the plane, because they’re so good, they would penetrate them in a minute,” Clinton said. She and her staff removed the batteries and left the devices on their plane.

Though she wants to see an international agreement on the collection and use of data, Clinton acknowledged that would take long and careful effort.

Note: Tech Thoughts Daily Net News will not publish on Labour Day – September 1st.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 28, 2014

15 simple, secret Windows tips and tricks designed to save you time;  10 Firefox add-ons for boosting productivity;  Windows XP ‘Unofficial Service Pack 4′ brings updates to Microsoft’s obsolete OS;  Pulled patch from August now back on Windows Update;  5 apps for making friends in a new city;  Twitter Opens Its Nifty Analytics Dashboard To Everyone;  Zotac’s $199 Zbox Pico mini PC fits in your pocket;  12.9-inch iPad expected early next year;  Google goes public with security audits to ease corporate concerns;  Microsoft Rolls Out Surface Pro 3 To 25 New Markets;  30-Second Tech Trick: Write Better Papers with Google Scholar;  PS4’s Free Game PS Plus trailer run-down for September;  Protect your devices with a $10 ‘USB Condom';  Senator wants all US cops to wear video cameras;  A Gloriously Stupid History of Sex in Video Games. 

15 simple, secret Windows tips and tricks designed to save you time – Nobody wants to waste time endlessly navigating menus. Fear not! Dr. PCWorld has the cure. Take these 15 secret Windows tricks to streamline your computing experience and eradicate little irritations that trip you up throughout the day. You won’t need to call me in the morning.

Windows XP ‘Unofficial Service Pack 4′ brings updates to Microsoft’s obsolete OS – A developer has created a cumulative rollup of updates for Windows XP called ‘Unofficial Service Pack 4′ after Microsoft ended its support for the ageing operating system earlier this year. This is not the first example of the developer community pulling together Microsoft updates into a collective package, and it probably won’t be the last. The lack of Microsoft support for Windows XP means that many users – especially those who cannot afford to buy newer systems – are turning to unofficial sources to get the support that they need to keep their PCs running.

5 apps for making friends in a new city – Making friends is difficult, especially if you’ve just moved to a brand-new city. And you work from home. And you have strange interests. And you sleep unconventional hours. As it turns out, there are several apps for meeting new people and making new friends, whether you’re a newbie in an unfamiliar town or a hermit with no social life. Unfortunately, a lot of these apps don’t actually work.

Microsoft removes 1500 apps from Windows Store, will refund anyone who purchased them – Microsoft has announced their new initiatives to clean up the Windows Store and as part of that process, they have removed 1500 apps that they considered to be misleading.

10 Firefox add-ons for boosting productivity – Distraction is always a click away on the web, but productivity nuts know not to fall prey to the traps. Largely that’s due to a bevy of tech tools that can help keep you on task, while boosting the capabilities of the web browser through some clever engineering. If you’re part of the Firefox faithful, check out these 10 add-ons that can turbo-charge your productivity.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Pulled patch from August now back on Windows Update – Microsoft has fixed and re-released the patch that was pulled from Windows Update after reports of boot issues from users post-installation of the August update earlier in the month.

Zotac’s $199 Zbox Pico mini PC fits in your pocket – Zotac has made some pretty small PCs before, but they’ve gone positively Lilliputian with their latest Zbox model. The Zbox Pico is so small that you can actually unplug it and shove it into your pocket. Volume-wise, this thing’s actually smaller than an Apple TV. It measures just 11.5 x 6.6cm and stands just under 2cm high. There are plenty of external battery packs and portable hard drives with dimensions like those… the difference being, obviously, that the Zbox Pico has a complete x86-compatible PC crammed inside.

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Intel creates world’s smallest 3G modem – The modem is called the XMM 6255, and it’s slightly larger than a one cent coin as you can see below. It’s a 3G modem, power amplifier, and transceiver in one tiny package, setup to be used in 3G smartphones and tablets as well as IoT devices. Intel also claims the all-in-one solution is quite resilient, meaning the radio won’t overheat easily or be susceptible to power spikes.

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How Many People See Your Tweets? Twitter Opens Its Nifty Analytics Dashboard To Everyone – Back in July, Twitter launched a really nifty analytics dashboard. A bit like Google Analytics for tweets, it allows you to gauge the performance of each and every tweet you sent. How many people saw it? How many of those actually clicked your links? There was one catch, though: it was only open to advertisers and verified users. No longer! Now you too can obsess way too hard over the performance of every tweet you send! Hurray!

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SWAT Team Detains Popular Gamer Who Was Live-Streaming ‘Counter-Strike’ – An incredible video showing the apparent swatting of a video game player who operates under the moniker ‘Kootra‘ was published today. Swatting is a prank that involves falsely telling the police of a dangerous situation so that a SWAT — special weapons and tactics (SWAT) — team is deployed in response, erroneously. The police are led to believe that they need to roll out the guns and armor, leaving the intended victim of the prank literally staring down the barrel of the gun. Making the entire situation nearly surreal is the fact that Kootra, whose common name is Jordan Mathewson, was streaming a video game to the Internet when the heavily armed police force entered his location, and detained him.

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12.9-inch iPad expected early next year – Earlier this year, Tim Cook told members of the press that he does about 80% of his work on an iPad. If that’s true, then he’s probably going to get a bit more productive in the next six months: Apple’s expected to unveil a 12.9-inch iPad by early 2015. The latest confirmation was reported to Bloomberg and it follows earlier tips provided to the Wall Street Journal and Korea Times. At this point, it seems like we’re just waiting for the invites to go out.

Dropbox Pro adds security and drops price for 1TB – Cloud storage provider Dropbox has updated its Dropbox Pro service, streamlining storage to a single 1TB plan, and making it easier to secure files and remotely manage content. The tweaks include password-protected shared links, which mean that even if someone else gets access to an URL for a shared file, they’ll still need to have the password you set in the first place.

Sensor-packed Butterfleye camera wants to be the eyes into your home – This smart surveillance camera monitors your home, using video analytics and sensors to decide when to record and when to turn itself off.

Video Games Come of Age as Spectator Sport – This frame grab taken from Twitch.tv shows two gamers competing and a streaming chat, at right, as visitors to the online network watch the two gamers go head to head. Fans watch for the same reasons ancient Romans flocked to the Colosseum: to witness extraordinary displays of agility and skill

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30-Second Tech Trick: Write Better Papers with Google Scholar – Think of it as doing research without the rest of the Internet getting in the way.

Security:

Google goes public with security audits to ease corporate concerns – The tech titan makes available to the public for the first time two independent security audits, as it works to prove its commitment to customer data protection.

Why do we keep relearning the same security lessons again and again? – Two recent vulnerabilities are examples of problems that could have been avoided if we had just applied the lessons already learned in similar contexts.

Protect your devices with a $10 ‘USB Condom’ – The USB Condom is a small and unobtrusive dongle that effectively turns any USB cable into a secure ‘charge-only’ cable to allow safe recharging from untrusted USB ports.

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Retailers warned to act now to protect against Backoff malware – The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council on Wednesday issued a bulletin urging retailers to immediately review their security controls to ensure point-of-sale systems are protected against “Backoff,” a malware tool that was used in the massive data theft at retailer Target last year. The bulletin instructed all covered entities to update their antivirus suites and to change default and staff passwords controlling access to key payment systems and applications.

New malvertising campaign hit visitors of several high-profile sites – Some visitors to several high-profile websites last week were redirected to browser exploits that installed malware on their computers because of malicious advertisements on those sites. The attack affected visitors to Java.com, Deviantart.com, TMZ.com, Photobucket.com, IBTimes.com, eBay.ie, Kapaza.be and TVgids.nl between Aug. 19 and Aug. 22, according to researchers from Dutch security firm Fox-IT. “These websites have not been compromised themselves, but are the victim of malvertising,” the researchers said Wednesday in a blog post. “This means an advertisement provider, providing its services to a small part of a website, serves malicious advertisement aimed at infecting visitors with malware.”

JPMorgan bank could be hackers’ latest victim – The FBI investigates a data breach into one of the world’s largest banks that may have involved malware being deposited on an employee’s personal computer.

Following the underground path of stolen credit card information – There is a thriving digital black market, more sophisticated than many businesses. Learn what happens to the information stored on a credit card that has been stolen.

Company News:

High-Tech Cooler Now Kickstarter’s Most Funded Project Ever – The high-tech “Coolest Cooler,” which hit the crowd-funding site in July, is now the No. 1 highest funded Kickstarter project of all time. With almost $10.4 million in pledges – and 58 hours to go – it has topped the Pebble Smartwatch, which earned $10,266,845 in May 2012. “Thank you forever!” the Portland-based inventor of the Coolest Cooler, Ryan Grepper, said on Kickstarter.

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Microsoft Rolls Out Surface Pro 3 To 25 New Markets – In keeping with prior expectations, Microsoft is currently in the process of rolling out its Surface Pro 3 tablet-hybrid to 25 new markets over the next 24 hours. With the 25 new markets all live, Surface Pro 3 will be available in a total of 28 markets. The rollout of the device has therefore been quite constrained to date. Microsoft also detailed in a post today that the new Surface dock will sell in the new markets, ahead of its general availability in mid-September.

Apple’s iWatch will reportedly make its debut on September 9th – After months of rumors, it looks we will get our first look at what Apple’s been working on for the past couple of years. Apple’s iWatch is rumored to make its debut at an unannounced September event.

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Judge denies Apple’s request for injunction against Samsung – A US judge rules that Apple won’t “suffer irreparable harm” if Samsung continues to sell various older smartphone models that may include patent-infringing components.

Games and Entertainment:

BioShock releases on iOS: 2K Games’ critically acclaimed 2007 first-person shooter has launched for iPhone and iPad – The game, originally released for Windows PC, Mac OS X, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2007, was announced as a mobile port earlier this month. It has been modified with slightly scaled-back graphics so it can run on mobile hardware, as well as touch controls — although it is also compatible with third-party mobile-compatible controllers.

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If you want a Kinect for your Xbox One, you can pick one up for $149 in October – So, if you are an owner of an Xbox One without a Kinect but would still like to purchase one, you will be able to do so starting October 7th for $149.99. The standalone device comes with Dance Central Spotlight, the latest in the dance series from developer Harmonix, which will be available as a digital download.

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Hunger Games: Mockingjay “Rebels” ideal for wallpaper – The publicity campaign for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is in full effect, bringing on viral content with extremely high quality. Most striking thus far has been the collection of massive images provided to the press. What we’ve seen so far includes mainly portraits – beastly, humongous posters of the characters that’ll appear in the film.

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GTA V creators say Lindsay Lohan is attention-seeking with frivolous lawsuit – After Lindsay Lohan took legal action against Rockstar Games, claiming the GTA V character Lacey Jonas is based on her, the company has hit back, saying her lawsuit is purely for “publicity purposes”.

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Lindsay Lohan and Lacey Jonas – not actually the same person

PS4’s Free Game PS Plus trailer run-down for September – Welcome to September – in a few days, but as far as Sony is concerned, right this minute. They’re bringing on a collection of games that’ll be free to download in September just so long as you’ve got a PlayStation Plus account. Signed up and ready to roll?

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A Gloriously Stupid History of Sex in Video Games – When I look back at those naked Lara Croft pictures from 1997, I can’t understand why anyone would bother. They seem like an actual obstacle to jerking off. Thankfully, we’ve gotten a little better at this shit as time’s gone by.

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Illustrations by Stephen Maurice Graham

Off Topic (Sort of):

Crazy CIA spy tech from the 50s, 60s and 70s – Crazy spy gadgets aren’t just limited to Batman and 007. The CIA houses in its museum all kinds of wacky knick-knacks and gizmos, some of which were just too silly for use.

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Man makes concrete castle using 3D printer – Who needs a house when they can have a castle? Enthusiast Andrey Rudenko has 3D printed his own castle out of concrete, and though it isn’t outfitted as a complete home, it would make quite the spectacular man cave or playhouse. The castle was printed 10mm at a time.

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Senator wants all US cops to wear video cameras – Claire McCaskill, the Democratic senator from Missouri, says police departments nationwide should require their officers to wear body cameras in order to qualify for the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding they receive each year. McCaskill’s comments come in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting death of Michael Brown and is one of a myriad of calls in the episode’s aftermath for police officers to wear video cams.

The Times is using typewriter sound effects to “motivate” workers – Those of us working office jobs know how quiet it can get — headphones go on and the subtle clicking of modern keyboards fades away. It would seem such a setup makes for solid productivity, but The Times doesn’t agree. Instead, it is blasting its writers with typewriter sound effects to increase worker output.

Linux Has Run Out of Time – I like Linux and would love to just go all-in with it as the mavens tell me I can do. But I cannot. I use these computers to make a living by writing and podcasting. I also produce photographic art as a hobby. I can’t accomplish any of this with Linux. Yes, I can kind of “get by” but that’s about it. There are a lot of products that I need that will run on WINE, a chunk of code that allows Windows software to run on Linux. It’s not perfect. It takes tweaking, there are all sorts of issues, and, more importantly, what’s the point? If I have to run Windows applications, I want Windows, don’t I?

Five big names that use Linux on the desktop – It’s not just Munich city council that uses Linux on the desktop. A number of household names have also opted for open source. Perhaps the best-known major company to use Linux on the desktop is Google, which provides the Goobuntu OS for staff to use.

Wikipedia wants Congressional staffers to contribute, but bias is a big concern – Should policy wonks write for Wikipedia? The libertarian Cato Institute thinks Congressional staffer expertise could help Wikipedia post more about legislation, but some worry about conflict of interest.

Something to think about:

“When I pass, speak freely of my shortcomings and my flaws. Learn from them, for I’ll have no ego to injure.”

-     Aaron McGruder

Today’s Free Downloads:

CCleaner Standard – CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. This is the standard installer with uninstaller. CCleaner Portable and CCleaner Slim are also available.

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. Install, uninstall and toolbar included.

Features:

Cleans the following:

Internet Explorer

Temporary files, history, cookies, Autocomplete form history, index.dat.

Firefox

Temporary files, history, cookies, download history, form history.

Google Chrome

Temporary files, history, cookies, download history, form history.

Opera

Temporary files, history, cookies.

Safari

Temporary files, history, cookies, form history.

Windows

Recycle Bin, Recent Documents, Temporary files and Log files.

Registry Cleaner

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more… also comes with a comprehensive backup feature.

Third-party applications

Removes temp files and recent file lists (MRUs) from many apps including Media Player, eMule, Google Toolbar, Netscape, Microsoft Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and many more…

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RealVNC Free – VNC is remote access and control software for an unrivalled mix of Windows, Mac, UNIX and Linux computers. With a simple peer-to-peer architecture, no agents or centralized servers are required.

To get started, download VNC to the computer you want to control, install it, and choose a license. Then, download VNC Viewer to the computer you wish to exercise control from. Note if you are connecting over the Internet, you may also need to configure your network.

VNC Free is free for for individual private use.

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F-Secure Rescue CD – If your computer no longer starts due to malware corrupting the operating system, or you suspect the security software has been compromised, you can use the F-Secure Rescue CD to securely boot up the computer and check the programs installed.The Rescue CD can also be used for more advanced repair and data recovery operations.

The Rescue CD contains Knoppix (a derivative of Linux), an operating system that runs completely from the CD and allows access to your computer’s Windows operating system and hard disks.

Note: the Rescue CD cannot scan encrypted disks.

You can also download the Rescue CD updates to a USB drive (minimum 256 MB of free space) using a healthy computer with Internet access. You can use this USB drive to fix a computer that cannot connect to the Internet. Instructions on how to do this are included in the Rescue CD User’s Guide.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The executive order that led to mass spying, as told by NSA alumni: Feds call it “twelve triple three”; whistleblowers says it’s the heart of the problem – One thing sits at the heart of what many consider a surveillance state within the US today.

The problem does not begin with political systems that discourage transparency or technologies that can intercept everyday communications without notice. Like everything else in Washington, there’s a legal basis for what many believe is extreme government overreach—in this case, it’s Executive Order 12333, issued in 1981.

“12333 is used to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US,” whistleblower John Tye, a former State Department official, told Ars recently. “My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.”

The document, known in government circles as “twelve triple three,” gives incredible leeway to intelligence agencies sweeping up vast quantities of Americans’ data. That data ranges from e-mail content to Facebook messages, from Skype chats to practically anything that passes over the Internet on an incidental basis. In other words, EO 12333 protects the tangential collection of Americans’ data even when Americans aren’t specifically targeted—otherwise it would be forbidden under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.

Feds warn first responders of dangerous hacking tool: Google Search – In a restricted intelligence document distributed to police, public safety, and security organizations in July, the Department of Homeland Security warned of a “malicious activity” that could expose secrets and security vulnerabilities in organizations’ information systems. The name of that activity: “Google dorking.”

“Malicious cyber actors are using advanced search techniques, referred to as ‘Google dorking,’ to locate information that organizations may not have intended to be discoverable by the public or to find website vulnerabilities for use in subsequent cyber attacks,” the for-official-use-only Roll Call Release warned. “By searching for specific file types and keywords, malicious cyber actors can locate information such as usernames and passwords, e-mail lists, sensitive documents, bank account details, and website vulnerabilities.”

That’s right, if you’re using advanced operators for search on Google, such as “site:arstechnica.com” or “filetype:xls,” you’re behaving like a “malicious cyber actor.” Some organizations will react to you accessing information they thought was hidden as if you were a cybercriminal, as reporters at Scripps found out last year. Those individuals were accused of “hacking” the website of free cellphone provider TerraCom after discovering sensitive customer data openly accessible from the Internet via a Google search and an “automated “ hacking tool: GNU’s Wget.

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Australia: ASIO chief unfussed by data-retention bypasses – The use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods to bypass mandatory data-retention regimes in Australia will be a challenge, according to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) director-general David Irvine, but metadata is still an invaluable tool for law enforcement.

As part of the Australian government’s proposed mandatory data-retention regime, to be introduced in legislation later this year, telecommunications companies will be required to keep a vast amount of customer “metadata”, including the IP addresses assigned to a customer.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has already acknowledged that VPNs would limit the ability of law enforcement to match up a user’s IP address, and Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm reportedly said that a minister, widely assumed to be Turnbull, had to recently demonstrate to a law-enforcement agency what a VPN is, and how it could mask an IP address.

“He gave them a demonstration on a VPN and said, ‘By my IP address, tell me what you can find out about me now.’ And they had no idea there was such a thing as a VPN. It indicates to me that these people are not well informed enough to make these kinds of decisions,” Leyonhjelm reportedly said.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, Irvine was reluctant to go into the technical detail of the use of VPNs to bypass data-retention regimes, but said that it does present a challenge in the way his organisation uses metadata in investigations.

Leaked paper reveals Australia’s obsessive metadata secrecy – Last Friday, the Australian Attorney-General’s Department sent internet service providers (ISPs) a confidential discussion paper — subsequently leaked to Fairfax Media — that attempts to clarify exactly what metadata they’ll be required to store under the government’s proposed mandatory data-retention scheme. The detailed requirements are presumably designed to feed into the “statutory specification” of metadata that will be included in legislation to be introduced to parliament in coming weeks.

Until now, the only official government description of metadata we’d seen — apart from that breathtakingly confused TV performance by Australia’s favourite Attorney-General Senator George Brandis QC — was the hilariously inadequate one-pager (PDF) that the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) tabled in Senate Estimates on October 15, 2012, after much prodding by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

You might therefore think that the description of the government’s metadata needs in Friday’s document was a recent development.

You’d be wrong.

A confidential document obtained by ZDNet shows that even more detailed descriptions of the government’s data-collection ambitions had been discussed with ISPs as far back as early 2010.

The document, Carrier-Carriage Service Provider Data Set Consultation Paper version 1.0 (PDF), is a 16-page PDF file created on March 9, 2010, at 14:49. Its core sections are similar in structure to the nine-page document obtained by Fairfax Media this week, with the addition of tables of “sample data to further illustrate the expected type of data to be retained for each specific retention requirement from the data set”, discussion questions for industry to answer, and an introductory background section rather than an executive summary.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 27, 2014

Chrome 64-bit browser finally available as a stable version;  HP recalls millions of power cords in US and Canada;  7 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do;  Five ways to improve battery life on Windows;  Where to Sell Your iPhone for the Highest Price;  Take ‘taxers’ to task in Republican video game;  Microsoft to offer the Acer Aspire E 15 for $199, for one day only;  Turn your Google Docs into a published ebook (free);  How to quickly unsubscribe from ‘liked’ Facebook pages;  Simplicam tackles Dropcam with face-detection;  iPhones, iPads connected to Windows PCs are at risk;  Online identity: how safe are you on the internet?  Social Media Is Silencing Personal Opinion;  Destiny is the Future of Gaming: Good or Bad?  Mittens, Not M4s: What Ferguson Police Really Got from the Pentagon’s 1033 Program;  We wanted the web for free – but the price is deep surveillance;  How much difference is there between MP3, CD and 24-bit audio?

Chrome 64-bit browser finally available as a stable version: 64-bit browser claims better stability, performance, and security – The browser’s advantages are speed, security, and stability. Security is enhanced both through enabling new protection systems and making existing protection systems stronger. The 64-bit applications have much more memory available, thereby creating a much larger haystack in which to hide the needles that exploits look for. Google has its own protection systems that similarly try to separate different kinds of data in memory, and 64-bit likewise gives them more space to play with.

HP recalls millions of power cords in US and Canada – During a year rife with recalls (mostly of the automotive sort), HP has been forced to recall more than six million laptop power cords following multiple reports of them overheating and more. The recall is for both the United States and Canada, and covers cords sold from September 2010 up through the summer of 2012.

Microsoft Promises Fix For Surface Pro 3 Overheating Issue – The issue that is causing some Surface Pro 3 devices to restart and tell users that they are overheating is an error, according to Microsoft. The company has promised a fix in short order.

Manage What Happens to Your Online Accounts After You Die – Consider the size of your online presence—your Facebook account, which details your daily life and personal history; your email account, which contains a wealth of your personal and business communications; photos, music and documents you have stored in the cloud; online banking accounts and records; frequent flier miles and more. Will heirs be able to access your accounts to manage your affairs or do you want to prevent them from snooping around in virtual territory you want kept private? Will your accounts simply evaporate over time or will your Facebook page still be up long after you’re gone? While some people don’t care, others find the idea of their digital assets outliving them disconcerting. Creating a digital will helps you determine which accounts survive and which you take to your grave.

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7 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Google announced a few updates for Chromecast at Google I/O earlier this summer – from Android mirroring to options that will make your Chromecast screen more aesthetically pleasing. And while the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

Five ways to improve battery life on Windows – You shouldn’t have to be tethered to your desk to use your laptop. While battery life is improving, it still isn’t perfect. If you’ve got a Windows 8.1 machine, these tips will help you squeeze the most juice of your computer’s battery.

iPhone 6 release could drive the most old iPhone trade-ins ever – As the iPhone 6 launch approaches, more trade-in sites are clamoring for your old iPhone. eBay is leading the charge with the promise of a $100 coupon if you can’t sell yours on the auction site.

Take ‘taxers’ to task in Republican video game – There’s an old truism in politics: If you want to turn out the youth vote, you need to build an odd 8-bit video game to reach them and hope the vaguely Italian and homophonic name of the game’s hero isn’t offensive. Actually, maybe that’s more of a noobism, but it also describes “Giopi: 2014 Mission Majority,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s attempt at reaching out to young voters and procrastinators of all ages. This Super Mario Bros.-style scroller has Giopi (pronounced G-O-P; get it?) the elephant hopping on “taxers” and “mudlsingers” who sarcastically spout the same dozen or so Democratic gaffes (most of which need a little more context to be understood by those who don’t dine on Republican talking points each evening) when you jump on their heads.

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Jump on the taxer and hit the switch to turn the Senate red.

Where to Sell Your iPhone for the Highest Price – If you’re smart, you can ditch your old phone for cash before buying that shiny new iPhone 5S. We list some of your options. But as with all things in life, timing is everything. You’ll likely get a better price for your phone before September 10, since most people aren’t organized and won’t bother trying to sell or trade in until after the launch, upping the supply of older models and consequently decreasing the price you can fetch for yours.

The Art and Craft of Windows Search – Sophisticated Searching – In the first part of this two-part series, we did the groundwork for an efficient search index configuration, and rebuilt and tested the index. Now we’re going to go further than simply typing in words and phrases as search terms, to look at how we can set up and combine search terms and conditions using the Advanced Query Syntax. (Article originally submitted under the title: “On the Synthesis of Search Terms in the Application of the Windows Search Algorithm to the Location of Desired Objects, with Particular Reference to the Precepts of Symbolic Logic Established by Professor Boole”.)   Smile

Microsoft to offer the Acer Aspire E 15 for $199, for one day only – Back-to-school season has started and many of us are looking to grab some great deals for electronics. Thankfully, it seems like Microsoft noticed the trend and decided to offer the Acer Aspire E 15, a Windows 8.1 device with some decent specifications, for $50 off. However, it must be noted that the offer will only be valid for only one day, or while the stocks last. It will be only available via the Microsoft Store site and the device will be available to purchase for $199, instead of the usual $249. For those interested, don’t forget to visit Microsoft Store early on Friday as the demand may turn out to be higher than the supply. Given the specifications for the price, it is hard to complain after all.

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Liberio review: Turn your Google Docs into a published ebook – As self-publishing rises in popularity, startup Liberio can simplify the often tedious process of turning a document into an eBook.

How to quickly unsubscribe from ‘liked’ Facebook pages – Facebook Cleanser can help you scrub your feed clean, but you can accomplish much the same thing in Facebook’s settings.

Google News and Weather: your next key Android app – This week Google has updated the app known as “News & Weather.” This app is built-in with newer Android devices and software builds, and requires that you have Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher – that includes Jelly Bean, KitKat, and Honeycomb too. You’ll also need 2.3MB of space to install it.

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MIX for Android Lets You Create And Save Custom Photo Filters – MIX for Android is the app for you if you often feel like Goldilocks when confronted with the filters in other photo-editing apps. Not only does MIX let you edit photos, but it also allows you to create custom filters, which you can then save to use again. MIX, now available for free on Google Play, is the latest product from Camera360, which has already gained 300 million users with its other apps, including its flagship product Camera360 Ultimate.

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Three ways to use BitTorrent Sync to share your files without the cloud – BitTorrent’s latest version of Sync is so much easier to use. If you haven’t tried it out, now’s a good time. Here are three ways you can use the new app to sync files across your devices.

Simplicam tackles Dropcam with face-detection – Wireless security cameras like Dropcam are shaping up to be an integral part of the smart home experience, and ArcSoft is hoping its Simplicam will carve a niche courtesy of face detection. A compact WiFi camera with a companion cloud-based recording service, Simplicam offers alerts only if a human face is spotted in-frame, rather than just responding to any sort of movement.

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Hands-On With Hyperlapse, Instagram’s New Video Creation App – The app looks dead simple, but is actually doing a lot in the background. When you first open Hyperlapse, you’ll go through a very quick tutorial and are then sent straight into a full-screen camera. The button on the bottom starts and stops recording. Once you have recorded a video, the app gives you a single control over the content: speed. Users can switch from 1x speed (a slower version) all the way up to 12x speed (super fast). But beyond speed, the real draw here is the ability to shoot a steady video on mobile that appears professionally shot.

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Use this $35 card-size computer to build your next robot army – The Raspberry Pi can power that, or a home media center, and much more. Here’s how to install Raspbian and get cooking with Pi.

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The Raspberry Pi B+ with a MicroSD card for scale.

Ars Technica System Guide: August 2014 – For any new readers, the main Ars System Guide is a three-system affair, with the traditional Budget Box, Hot Rod, and God Box addressing three different price points in the market from modest to a little crazy. The main System Guide’s boxes are general-purpose systems with a strong gaming focus, which results in fairly well-rounded machines suitable for most enthusiast use. They also make a solid starting point to spin off into a variety of configurations.

Security:

Your secrets may not be safe with anonymous sharing app Secret – “Share with friends, anonymously,” runs the tagline for smartphone app Secret. But what to do if that anonymity starts to break down, or if the secrets being shared are distinctly unfriendly? The popular but controversial social Android and iOS app is facing new scrutiny of its security and ethics policies this week, with its crackdown on cyberbullying undermined by claims that hackers can uncover people’s posts in the app using nothing more than their email addresses.

Automattic Acquires BruteProtect To Help Keep WordPress Users Safe – WordPress now powers so many websites, it’s no surprise that it’s a favorite target for hackers. To keep its users safe, Automattic – the company behind both WordPress.com and the open-source WordPress project — today announced that it has acquired BruteProtect, a security and management tool for WordPress. The BruteProtect plug-in is currently used on about 110,000 sites, but with this acquisition, WordPress will not only make BruteProtect’s premium service available for free, it will also include it in its Jetpack service. Jetpack allows WordPress users with self-hosted sites to get access to many of the cloud-hosted services that WordPress.com offers its users.

Researchers: iPhones, iPads connected to Windows PCs are at risk – At the USENIX Security Symposium, Georgia Tech researchers show how PC botnets could infect iOS devices to steal passwords.

Online identity: how safe are you on the internet? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: are you sharing too much of your life online? For our Amnesty Teen Takeover, author Bali Rai shares what he learned about our internet habits while writing his book Web of Darkness. Life can be scarier than fiction…

This card skimmer is a frightfully well-crafted fraud machine – Your credit or debit card is pretty darn thin. The slot on the ATM that you slide it into? It’s thin, too, but apparently there’s just enough room in there for a fraudster to slip in this device, steal your card data, and scam you out of your hard-earned cash.

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Amazon’s newly purchased Twitch.tv is offline thanks to a DDOS attack – Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would be buying Twitch.tv for nearly a billion dollars and now the service is being hit with a DDOS attack much like Sony’s online service a few days ago.

Company News:

Silicon Valley tech companies use underpaid black and Latino workers, says report – Silicon Valley technology companies use underpaid black, Latino and immigrant workers as janitors, cooks and security guards, according to a study released Monday. Tech companies have been targeted by civil rights groups, including the Rainbow Push Coalition of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, for not employing enough blacks and Latinos. Following demands from Jackson, some companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook released employee diversity data which showed that their employees in the U.S. were predominantly white followed by Asian.

Comcast tells government that its data caps aren’t actually “data caps” – For the past couple of years, Comcast has been trying to convince journalists and the general public that it doesn’t impose any “data caps” on its Internet service. That’s despite the fact that Comcast in some cities enforces limits on the amount of data customers can use and issues financial penalties for using more than the allotment. Comcast has said this type of billing will probably roll out to its entire national footprint within five years, perhaps alongside a pricier option to buy unlimited data.

Rogers And Shaw Team Up To Launch A Netflix Competitor For Canada Called ‘Shomi’ – Canadian cable giants aren’t just going to watch their audience slip away to streaming services – two of the nation’s biggest providers have joined forces to launch shomi, a new subscription-based service that provides access to shows on-demand, with apps for tablets, phones, web, Xbox 360 and set-top boxes at launch. The shomi service will be available only to Rogers and Shaw Internet or TV subscribers in its beta form, and it’ll be available beginning in November with an $8.99 per month price tag (the same, you’ll note, as Netflix.)

Snapchat valued at $10 billion, has 100 million monthly users – Snapchat is becoming ubiquitous with messaging, and that’s never been more evident than with today’s news of their valuation and user-base. A fresh funding round tells us that those backing Snapchat are doing so at a $10 billion valuation. That’s not just rare air for a messaging app — it’s an exclusive club not many startups can claim to be in.

Amazon’s Fire Phone is a dud, according to research – If you see someone on the street with a Fire Phone, take a picture. According to a new report, those folks are rare, and should be photographed as proof that yes — someone really did buy a Fire Phone. Combining data from comScore and Chitika, we find the Fire Phone may have been a dud, right from the get-go.

Games and Entertainment:

Bolt II Battle Box Titan Z Special Edition gaming PC includes liquid cooling – Digital Storm has introduced a new beast of a gaming machine, the Bolt II Battle Box Titan Z Special Edition. The mouthful title aside, the new computer is a liquid-cooled offering the maker says is designed to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX Battle Box standard. The machine is available now for under $5,000.

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Destiny is the Future of Gaming: Good or Bad? – Destiny, which will launch in around a month, is arguably the most anticipated game launching this year. The title, which is developed by Bungie in partnership with Activision, is being called a “shared-world shooter” and the first of its kind. It’s the game house’s first prominent go at the gaming space after Halo, and will ultimately make or break Bungie as a developer. But Destiny is more than just a game that could make or break a developer. The game is a title that could dramatically alter the course of our beloved industry and send it into a new direction. Destiny is a groundbreaking game that could invite a wide range of new gaming opportunities for developers to exploit.

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Amazon proves it’s serious about gaming with Twitch buy – By dropping nearly a $1 billion to buy video game streaming site Twitch, Amazon is telling gamers that it’s no longer playing around. The move, which includes a price tag of $970 million in cash, may seem odd to the online retailer’s main customers, but it indicates Amazon wants a bigger piece of a multi-billion dollar gaming business. Buying Twitch, a site that live streams people playing games like League of Legends and DOTA 2, lets Amazon tap into the most loyal consumers of games — the hardcore gamers.

Moon Hunters: Where Legend of Zelda meets Gauntlet – Shattered Planet’s Kitfox Games is back for round two, this time exploring the fantastical rather than sci-fi: it has launched a Kickstarter for Moon Hunters, a game for up to four players the developer describes as a “myth-weaving RPG”. Set in an ancient fantasy world, you take the role of a hero: a generic adventurer who is called upon to help out when the Moon goes missing. With the Moon no longer providing its magical influence on the world, monsters begin to rise up, and your quest becomes a battle of life, death, wits, magic, and might.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

How much difference is there between MP3, CD and 24-bit audio? – Debates rage over whether hi-res music is a gimmick. Three Guardian writers put four music formats – and their ears – to the test.

Social Media Is Silencing Personal Opinion – Even In The Offline World – Social media is not living up to its promise of being an online outlet for discussion that mirrors our communications and conversations that take place in the offline world. In fact, people are less willing to discuss important issues on social media, than they are in real life, a new report from Pew Research Center has found. It may seem like an obvious conclusion: of course, people are more hesitant to speak up with a contrary opinion when all their friends, family or colleagues feel differently. But there’s been little research that quantifies just how unwilling people are to take a potentially unpopular stance on outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

How the web lost its way – and its founding principles – When Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web 24 years ago he thought he’d created an egalitarian tool that would share information for the greater good. But it hasn’t quite worked out like that. What went wrong?

15 insanely stupid Apple predictions – The years have not been kind to Apple’s critics. Here are fifteen laughable predictions that show how Apple has been going out of business since 1984.

Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case – A top government cybersecurity official who secretly joined an online pedophile network to swap child sex abuse material and rape fantasies has been convicted. Timothy DeFoggi, 56, is described by the Department of Justice as being the former acting director of cyber security at the US Department of Health and Human Services. He was arrested, charged and brought to trial in Nebraska after the FBI investigated three child abuse websites – and found he had signed up as a member to at least one of them.

Mittens, Not M4s: What Ferguson Police Really Got from the Pentagon’s 1033 Program – VICE News obtained the complete inventory of military leftovers secured since 2007 by the Ferguson Police Department under the Pentagon’s 1033 program—and nothing on the list matched up with the militarized equipment police deployed during the protests.

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Something to think about:

“Failure is the foundation for success, and the means by which it is achieved.”

-      Lao-tzu

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced SystemCare 8 Free Beta 1.0 – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE!

What’s new:

+ Brand New User Interface – Simpler design with supporting maximizing UI.

+ New Theme Customization – Change theme easily with your loved pictures.

+ New Protect Module – Protect your browser homepages, search engine, online surfing and reinforce system.

+ New Plugin/Toolbar Cleaner – Monitor browser toolbars, plugins in real-time to remove the malicious ones to better protect your browsers.

+ New Browser Cleaner – Offer 1-click technique to clean browsing histories and other privacy issues when browsers closed.

+ New IObit Uninstaller 4 – Remove unwanted programs, plugins, toolbars and pre-installed Windows 8 metro applications.

+ New Software Updater – Keep your important software up-to-date.

+ Rebuilt Startup Manager – 1-click method to speed up system boot time and easy management for Startups, Services, Task Schedule.

+ Rebuilt Disk Optiomization – Add SSD (Solid State Disk) optimization and multi disk defragment.

+ Rebuilt Performance Monitor – Monitor your PC performance in real time and boost it with just one click.

+ Privacy Sweep – Add clean for Windows Metro Apps and clean for iTunes.

+ Registry Fix – Add fix for “Windows Services” and enhance scan engine’s scanning speed and stability.

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Hola – Install Hola on your PC, phone or tablet to make your Internet faster, save data costs, and view sites that are otherwise censored in your country.

Bypass Internet censorship

Speed up your web browsing

Save on bandwidth costs

Improve your privacy online

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Graphic: Hola running on my system (Firefox).

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

We wanted the web for free – but the price is deep surveillance – ‘Be careful what you wish for,” runs the adage. “You might just get it.” In the case of the internet, or, at any rate, the world wide web, this is exactly what happened. We wanted exciting services – email, blogging, social networking, image hosting – that were “free”. And we got them. What we also got, but hadn’t bargained for, was deep, intensive and persistent surveillance of everything we do online.

We ought to have known that it would happen. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, after all. Online services cost a bomb to provide: code has to be written (by programmers who have to be paid); servers have to be bought or rented, powered, housed, cooled and maintained; bandwidth has to be paid for; and so on. So there were basically only two business models that could have supported our desires.

One model involved us paying for stuff. But we (or most of us, anyway) proved deeply resistant to this idea. We had the fantasy that everything online should be free, after we’d paid an ISP for a connection to the net. So paying for stuff was a non-starter.

The companies that provided the “free” services therefore had to find another business model. And in the end they found one: it was called advertising or, rather, putting advertisers in touch with the users of “free” services. And it turned out that the only way to do this involved intensive surveillance of everything those users did online.

Which brings us to where we are today, a world in which, as the security guru Bruce Schneier puts it: “The business model of the internet is surveillance. We build systems that spy on people in exchange for services. Corporations call it marketing.”

Canada’s cyberspy agency, csec, hijacks computers worldwide to build their spynet – Glimmers of new information about CSEC, Canada’s version of the NSA, have recently been released through a variety of media sources, which has provided a slightly clearer picture of what Canada’s mysterious cybersurveillance activities actually entail.

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This is how a criminal botnet works, which is very similar to the kinds of botnets CSEC uses. Image via Wikipedia.

The biggest revelation came from an unexpected report in c’t magazin, a German publication, authored by five individuals, including Laura Poitras, one of the few journalists to have met Edward Snowden IRL, and Jacob Applebaum, a hacker-turned-reporter with ties to the TOR foundation.

Their report, entitled “NSA/GCHQ: The HACIENDA Program for Internet Colonization,” focuses not on a Mexican ranch, but rather on a “covert infrastructure” of programs that have been designed to takeover the internet, by locating vulnerable computers around the world that can be hijacked and clandestinely repurposed into spybots for government agencies.

c’t cites leaked slides from the NSA, CSEC, and GCHQ, which are not credited to Edward Snowden’s leaks; this further fuels speculation that there is a second source leaking information from within the spy agencies to the press. A possibility that Snowden himself refuses to address on the record.

One key part of the HACIENDA infrastructure, however, is a Canadian program called LANDMARK, which looks for “ORBS” (Operational Relay Box) that were recently defined by Colin Freeze in the Globe and Mail as “computers [the Five Eyes spy agencies] compromise in third-party countries.” I spoke to Chris Parsons from the Citizen Lab, who explained that these ORBs are quite possibly the property of innocent citizens, and not exclusively intelligence targets.

Pew study warns about ‘spiral of silence’ in US discussion of Edward Snowden’s NSA online surveillance revelations – Americans have been self-censoring their discussions about state surveillance in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, researchers have found.

Approximately 86% of adults were “very” or “somewhat” willing to discuss the findings in person with family, friends or work colleagues or at public meetings, yet only 43% said they would discuss the issues on Facebook.

The Pew Research Centre surveyed 1,801 US adults in August and September 2013, and also found that only 41% of people would be willing to discuss surveillance on Twitter which is a more visible, public medium than Facebook.

Pew’s report, which was published on Tuesday, warns of a “spiral of silence” capable of spreading from the online to the offline world, especially for people who think most of their social networking contacts disagree with their views on a particular topic:

“The typical Facebook user – someone who logs onto the site a few times per day – is half as likely to be willing to have a discussion about the Snowden-NSA issues at a physical public meeting as a non-Facebook user.

Similarly, the typical Twitter user – someone who uses the site a few times per day – is 0.24 times less likely to be willing to share their opinions in the workplace as an internet user who does not use Twitter.”

The report also notes that of the 14% of Americans who were unwilling to discuss the Snowden revelations offline, just 0.3% said they would be willing to join conversations on the topic on social networks instead.

Police called on video game developer over ‘Global Thermonuclear War’ plans – A British games developer’s letting agency called the police after mistaking diagrams of his new game for a planned thermonuclear attack on Washington.

Henry Smith is a software engineer from Bristol working on a game called “Global Thermonuclear War”, which uses Google Maps to simulate an atomic conflict between nations. Smith was planning out the game using whiteboards in his home when his letting agent made a pre-arranged visit.

A few days later, the agent rang, Smith says, and told him that “the person who did the inspection did have some concerns about one thing. There were some … whiteboards? And some … drawings on them?”

Although Smith believed he assuaged the agents’ fears by explaining that the sketches were plans for a game, he received a follow-up email the next week informing him that the matter had been referred to the local police.

“At first I was ridiculously frightened by the whole thing,” he told the Guardian. “When they said they’d told the police I absolutely bricked it. I ran home to check if the police had raided the house or something. It was definitely very frightening to think that the police had a report in their system alleging that I was up to something suspicious involving nuclear warheads. Knowing how the police here deal with suspected terrorists, I was worried they’d do a dawn raid or worse. It was genuinely scary for a while.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 26, 2014

The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google;  5 of the Biggest Facebook Mistakes (and How to Fix Them);  Get a free year of LastPass Premium;  The 10 apps every college student needs to have;  Debit cards get new protections;  $38 Firefox OS smartphone;  Whopper of a Burger King deal: A side of free smartphone;  Getting started with iPhone camera app Camu;  TiVo Releases A $49.99 Over-The-Air DVR For Cord Cutters;  Amazon’s Twitch Acquisition Is Official;  The 16 best one-hand Android games for fun on the go;  Ralph Lauren Unveils Smart Polo Shirt;  Flappy Bird creator updates Swing Copters to make it less impossible;  Australia: Metadata storage wishlist­ revealed;  Screenshots: Use Clonezilla to clone a hard drive.

Report: Consumers concerned about online threats but do little to protect themselves – A new survey from Kaspersky Lab finds most consumers believe banks, online retailers, and payment systems are responsible for safeguarding their financial data.

Debit cards get new protections – Imagine an on/off switch for your debit card. Here’s an early look at what’s going to make using debit a whole lot safer. (recommended by Keith P.)

Get a free year of LastPass Premium – If you’re already using one, great — feel free to skip ahead to the bonus deals below. If not, get ready for a seriously sweet offer: AppSumo is offering a free one-year subscription to LastPass Premium. Regular price: $12. Granted, that’s literally saving you just a buck per month, but I’m hoping it’s enough to encourage people who otherwise balk at the idea of a password manager. Because once you start using this, you’ll wonder how (and why) you ever got along without it.

5 of the Biggest Facebook Mistakes (and How to Fix Them) – With regular introductions of privacy-flouting new features and different sets of etiquette for connecting with colleagues, friends and family, it can be all too easy to make a Facebook misstep that sends the wrong message into the world. Below are five of the most-common Facebook faux pas – and how to avoid them.

The 10 apps every college student needs to have – The life of a high schooler living at home is quite a bit different than that of a college freshman living on his or her own for the first time. The good news is that you can make the transition a lot smoother with some useful digital tools. The apps below will help you with everything from saving money to finding food to getting to class on time.

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Whopper of a Burger King deal: A side of free smartphone – You can’t just roll up into the drive-through lane at your local BK and get a deep-fried Galaxy S3 dropped into your bag next to your Whopper. The offer is available online and it does have some strings attached. The free phone requires a new or upgraded two-year agreement with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. This comes with all the usual rigmarole of signing up with a cell service provider, including possible credit checks, activation fees, early termination fees, and deposits. So your free Burger King smartphone will end up costing you the same as any other free-phone deal.

Screenshots: Use Clonezilla to clone a hard drive – Jesus Vigo takes you step-by-step through the process of cloning your hard drive using Clonezilla, an open-source, Linux-based, OS agnostic solution.

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Three easy ways to separate work and play on the same PC – If you’ve got strict divisions between your work and play identities online, what’s the easiest way to keep the two worlds from colliding? Here are three suggestions.

Facebook to ditch clickbait headlines – Facebook is taking measures to boost quality journalism by reducing the number of clickbait headlines shown in news feeds and making good headlines more visible.

How to keep in touch with people while traveling – Unless you want to go off the grid completely, it’s relatively easy to keep in touch with friends and family when on the road. Of course, there are the obvious solutions, including familiar apps like Facebook and Skype, but you may be interested in tips and tricks making use of other contact solutions.

Microsoft Surface 2’s price slash: Great deal or a waste of your money? – Microsoft just temporarily slashed the prices on all of its Surface 2 Windows 8.1 RT-based tablets by $100, to as low as $349. Is this the deal for you, or one you should avoid? The price cut lasts only from August 24 through August 27, or “while supplies last.” Each customer will be allowed buy up to five of them. This is the second year in a row that Microsoft cut prices for its RT-based Surface2. It did the same thing last year, and there’s some evidence that it gave the device a temporary boost. So is this the deal for you?

Surface Pro 3 bugs keep coming as overheating complaints arise – The Surface Pro 3 is a fantastic device when it’s working properly, but a procession of crippling bugs are keeping many users from enjoying their high-end hardware. Over the past few weeks, users on Microsoft’s support website have complained of overheating in the Surface Pro 3. Fan noise becomes excessively loud, the tablets become too hot to handle, and in some cases the device shuts down completely with a temperature warning.

$38 Firefox OS smartphone – the Spice Fire One Mi-FX1- Priced at approximately $38, the Spice Fire One Mi – FX1 will be targetting first-time smartphone users and those on an extremely limited budget. The specs are nothing to write home about, with the biggest limitations hovering around the low-resolution display and the lack of 3G connectivity, but it does various useful elements such as dual sim functionality, bluetooth, and a front and rear camera.

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TiVo Releases A $49.99 Over-The-Air DVR For Cord Cutters – TiVo today is announcing the release of its TiVo Roamio OTA DVR, a $49.99 device that will give customers who don’t have cable or satellite service. Instead, they will be able to connect the DVR up to an antenna to record shows broadcast on channels available through over-the-air digital signals. The Roamio OTA has 500 GB of storage capacity, which holds up to 75 hours of HD programming. It also has four tuners to allow customers to record multiple programs at once, while also being able to tune in live to one channel. The device is also compatible with the company’s TiVo Stream device for streaming live and pre-recorded videos on other devices.

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For The First Time, More People Will Watch MLB.tv Streams On Devices Than Desktops – On August 26, 2002, Major League Baseball streamed its first live MLB.tv video of a game to the web — a tiny, grainy little player that looks laughable in comparison to today’s HD streams you hold in your palm. This month, 12 years later, the MLB says that it projects that over 51 percent of its monthly live streams will be watched on ‘connected’ and mobile devices in August. It says that this is a first for any live sports video product on the Internet.

Ralph Lauren Unveils Smart Polo Shirt – The new Polo Tech shirt, unveiled Monday morning to coincide with the first day of the U.S. Open, goes beyond the old preppy design you know and love. It’s essentially a compression shirt that has knitted-in sensors that can read biological and physical data, such as heartbeat, respiration, stress level, and energy output, and send this information to your smartphone. Aimed at athletes, the Polo Tech shirt is designed to help “improve general wellness and increase personal fitness,” the luxury lifestyle brand said in a statement.

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Getting started with iPhone camera app Camu – iPhone photographers, take note: there’s a new app vying for your attention. Free app Camu is worth checking out for its slick, easy-to-use interface and small but useful collection of filters and tools.

Security:

Tech Support scammers rip big brand security software with fake warnings – Just when we thought we had seen it all, scammers come out with an elaborate and clever scheme to trick users into calling for bogus tech support. If you are looking to download one of the popular antivirus or anti-malware product on the market, watch out before you click. Fraudsters have set up fake download pages that look incredibly like the authentic ones.

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There is even a fake page for our own Malwarebytes:

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Side-channel android weakness likely on other platforms – Researchers have discovered a weakness in Android that is likely present in other leading operating systems that can be abused and lead to information leakage. While the researchers tested their attack only on Android, they wrote in their paper that the same shared memory mechanism being exploited here is also present in window managers present in Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and iOS.

Sub-domain on SourceForge redirects to Flash Pack Exploit Kit – We have talked about SourceForge before on this blog, in particular when they were associated with bundled software. This time around, we are going to take a look at an infected sub-domain hosted on SourceForge responsible for a drive-by download attack. The first redirection is located within a JavaScript file:

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Secret Service says “Backoff” malware hit 1000 businesses – 6 tips to keep your data safe – It now appears that the string of recent data breaches at US retail establishments was not a coincidence, but rather related attacks using the same malicious software kit. In a security advisory from the US Secret Service dated 22 August 2014, obtained by the New York Times, the government said the malware known as Backoff has struck more than 1000 US companies since October 2013. US-CERT has updated its alert to advise businesses on ways to mitigate Backoff. Naked Security writer and Sophos Senior Security Advisor Chester Wisniewski has some further advice.

Company News:

Amazon’s Twitch Acquisition Is Official – After months of rumors suggesting that Google was prepped to snatch up Twitch, word broke this morning that Amazon had crashed the party and was about to acquire Twitch themselves. Sure enough, the Amazon/Twitch deal is done. Our sources had previously suggested that the deal would close at nearly $1 billion dollars. We’re digging on the final price right this second, but are still hearing that it was very close to $1b. Update: Amazon confirms that the final price was $970M in cash.

Oregon Attorney General sues Oracle for “racketeering activity” – In the aftermath of what was likely the most spectacular failure among state-run Affordable Care Act health exchange site launches, the state of Oregon has filed a lawsuit against Oracle America Inc. over the total failure of the Cover Oregon exchange. “Oracle’s conduct amounts to a pattern of racketeering activity that has cost the State and Cover Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum wrote in a civil complaint filed August 22. The lawsuit seeks over $5.5 billion in damages from Oracle, plus legal fees. The complaint comes after Oracle filed its own lawsuit against the state’s health exchange for failure to pay for services rendered in early August.

WhatsApp hits 600 million monthly active users – In the six months since Facebook announced it was buying the messaging app, the service’s monthly active user base has grown by 150 million.

Games and Entertainment:

The 16 best one-hand Android games for fun on the go – Clenching to the bus rail on your way to work, you don’t have both hands free to finish that Dead Trigger level you started last night. With a few minutes to spare, and one hand free, you need to find some games you can play with the same hand you’re holding your phone with. Your choices aren’t as limited as you might think. You’ll find that most of the titles are designed specifically with the portrait orientation in mind. However, some games are good enough to bend the rules, and you’ll see a couple games sprinkled in that are played in landscape mode.

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Age of Empires: Castle Siege headed to Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 for ‘free’ – Age of Empires is one of the most popular real-time strategy game franchises on the PC and Microsoft has been looking to bring the game to its mobile platforms for quite some time. However, the Age of Empires: World Domination game which was set to launch on all mobile platforms has been delayed till the end of the year but another Age of Empires game, which would be called Age of Empires: Castle Siege, will land on the Windows and Windows Phone stores in September.

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Loyal subscribers to get rewards in The Elder Scrolls Online – With free-to-play massively multiplayer online games being so common now, surviving as a subscription-based MMO is quite difficult. Many previously paid-for online games have made the switch to free-to-play, but Bethesda isn’t prepared to do that with The Elder Scrolls Online, and instead is choosing to reward loyalty. As a thank you for subscribing, Bethesda is introducing a loyalty program that rewards players with in-game items. All you have to do is subscribe for a set period of time.

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Steam Update allows multiple installs at once – Supposing you switch computers often – like if you review PCs for a living – you’ll be glad to know of the latest Steam update. Valve has deemed it important that users be able to install multiple games at once with ease. While you’d have been able to jury-rig this in the past, now it’s much, much easier.

Swing Copters is Out and It’s Hard, Here’s How to Avoid the Fakes – Swing Copters is the second game from .GEARS Studios, the one-man dev house that brought you Flappy Bird. Of course, it also took Flappy Bird away a few months later. Swing Copters will, presumably, not be pulled from app stores, but you might wish it was.

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Flappy Bird creator updates Swing Copters to make it less impossible – You know a video game is really, really difficult when a developer has to push out an update to make it playable.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Jawbone user data shows how Bay Area ‘quake affected users – One of the neat things about wearables are their ability to give you data about your life and habits. Making personal data available and pertinent is why we enjoy wearable tech, but what if it can be used on a broader scale? Jawbone recently shared data about Bay Area users’ sleep patterns to show the effect an earthquake can have on your sleep.

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Spheree lets you watch animated images in full 3D – It’s official: we’re well on the way to a true 3D display. This one, called Spheree, is the work of a team of researchers working together from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, and it’s mesmerising to behold. Like its name suggests, it’s in the shape of a translucent sphere; inside, the viewer can see animations and images that appear to float in the centre; as the viewer moves around, they can see other sides of the object as their perspective changes. And it’s all based on optical illusion.

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Can we please stop talking about the Linux desktop? – Linus Torvalds wants the Linux desktop. Too bad no one else does. This is never going to get any better, so let’s give it up.

Is MSG really all that bad for you? – A new video from the American Chemical Society’s Reactions YouTube page explains that not only is MSG perfectly safe for the vast majority of people but shows how MSG, or, more accurately glutamate, is found in tons of natural, protein-rich foods. Plus, glutamate occurs naturally within our own bodies as we process and metabolize food. The whole monosodium part of MSG is so we can easily sprinkle it in our foods.

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See what it’s like to fly through an aurora in orbit – Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been capturing worldview-altering photos of Earth from space for ye ars now, including some beautiful shots of those dancing lights we know as the aurora borealis (or aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere). Now, the European Space Agency has published a new view for the YouTube generation with the breathtaking time-lapse video below.

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Something to think about:

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.”

-     J. K. Rowling

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ultimate Settings Panel Released – We are pleased to announce the release of our new utility, Ultimate Settings Panel. We have designed it to be an all in one settings solution for a multitude of configuration options in Windows, Office and Configuration Manager. As it is a first release, there may be some bugs in it or some things that may not quite be perfect – the only way we will fix these bugs and add the extras that you want is if you tell us – so please feel free to contact us or use our Disqus system at the bottom of this post. If you have any good ideas for what we can do to this utility in future releases then we will take them on board and add them if possible.

Ultimate Settings Panel is a tab based utility giving you the option of selecting from a wide range of different configuration options as you can see from the screen shots below:

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google – The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.

ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Earlier revelations sourced to the Snowden documents have exposed a multitude of NSA programs for collecting large volumes of communications. The NSA has acknowledged that it shares some of its collected data with domestic agencies like the FBI, but details about the method and scope of its sharing have remained shrouded in secrecy.

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The Landmark file: Inside Canadian cyber-security agency’s ‘target the world’ strategy – When Canadian intelligence officials speak about today’s spying, they can reveal great ambition.

Sometimes they speak of wanting to “master the Internet” or even “target the world” before switching to less evocative terms, such as “computer network operations” or CNO.

When pressed whether this is tantamount to “hacking,” they avoid that word.

“We’ve got some bright young kids,” retired spymaster John Adams once told The Globe in an interview. “Virtually everything – 90 per cent of what they do – is CNO now. It opens it up to where they can literally go out and target the world.”

These previously unpublished remarks from Mr. Adams, chief of Communications Security Establishment Canada from 2005 to 2011, seemed cryptic at the time they were spoken late last year.

Yet they are a little less so now.

Recently released material suggest just how very good CSEC may be getting at its job –– avoiding the capture of Canadian communications even as it steps up its capacity to spy on countries around the world.

The German computer magazine c’t has published what appears to be leaked details about a CSEC endeavour called Landmark. The slides, if genuine, showing how Canadian government “network exploitation analysts” actually do their jobs. The article suggests these details show how the Canadians seek to impose the will of their agency – and allied agencies – on thousands, potentially millions, of computers in “as many non 5-Eyes countries as possible.”

The “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance – the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand – is the club of English-speaking nations whose electronic-eavesdropping agencies agree not spy on each other, while working together to keep tabs on the rest of the world.

Australia: Metadata storage wishlist­ revealed – THE Attorney-General’s Department has drawn up a confidential wishlist of the metadata it wants to capture — including financial records, home and ­internet-protocol addresses and download volumes — as part of the government’s plan to ­impose a data-retention scheme on large telecommunications companies.

Confidential consultations with the companies — including Telstra, Optus and iiNet — commenced late last week with the circulation of a paper that has been obtained by The Australian. It articulates for the first time what type of data the ­Attorney-General’s Department wants telecommunications companies and internet service providers to store.

The paper, prepared for “preliminary discussions”, reveals the companies should retain records that would identify the names and addresses of individual internet and telephone ­account holders as well as information to trace and identify the source of a communication and the device used.

Data including when and where communication services originate and terminate have also been included in the wishlist as well as information that would reveal users’ upload and download volumes.

In a sign the government could be widening its net for what type of data is retained, the paper suggests the scheme should be able to capture “any current or historical ­supplementary identification”, which it says could include “date of birth, financial, billing and payment information, other transactional information, or contact information”.

In a significant win for citizens concerned that the new scheme could be used to track the specific pages visited by internet users, the discussion paper states that web histories will not be captured in the new laws.

“Nothing in this data set ­applies to or requires the retention of destination web address identifiers, such as destination IP ­addresses or URLs,” the paper says. “(This) does not apply to or ­require the retention of destination web-address identifiers, such as destination IP addresses or URLs. This exception is intended to ensure that providers of ­retail and wholesale internet ­access services are not required to engage in session-logging.”

Under the proposal all captured data would be required to be kept by telecommunications companies for a maximum of two years.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 25, 2014

Gmail, other Android apps hacked with 92% success rate;  How to manage your Google location history;  Report: NSA, GCHQ Agents Secretly Helping Tor Patch Bugs;  5 Chrome tricks for power users; Pepper spray gets a camera with The Defender;  Apple Is Replacing Some iPhone 5 Batteries for Free;  8 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Do with Your Smartphone;  Delve into DIY security with these connected cameras;  Want to make Windows 8 feel faster? Shut-off these animations;  Gmail, other Android apps hacked with 92% success rate;  Can Your Home be Hacked? Possibly;  Sprint announces $60 unlimited plan; RunScribe sensor shows how you run;  The best mobile apps for taking notes;  Edward Snowden: Here’s how we take back the Internet.

How to use OpenPGP to encrypt your email messages and files in the cloud – Putting sensitive data in email messages or cloud storage should give you the heebie-jeebies, but a good dose of cryptography can give you peace of mind. Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) or its open-source implementation, OpenPGP, is the gold standard of encryption online, and when used properly, has the potential to thwart even the likes of the NSA.

5 Chrome tricks for power users – Ready to exercise your supreme Chrome skills? Learn how to set your location, easily view cached pages, and more!

Apple Is Replacing Some iPhone 5 Batteries for Free – Some iPhone 5 devices sold between September 2012 and January 2013 have a battery problem leading to a shorter battery life, Apple said Friday. Users experiencing battery issues may have bought one in a series of iPhone 5 devices that were affected by charging problems. Owners of the iPhone 5 who are having issues can input their phone’s serial number on Apple’s page and see if they qualify for a free battery replacement. The replacement is available in the U.S. and China as of Aug. 22, and in other countries as of Aug. 29.

Putting Vine’s new importing and editing tools to the test – Vine’s latest update, which just landed on iOS and will come to Android later, adds some new tools and the long-needed ability to import video shot with other apps. It’s more flexible, but without cluttering up Vine’s minimal interface. I downloaded the new version of Vine onto my iPhone. Here’s what to expect the first time you launch the updated app.

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8 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Do with Your Smartphone – I use my smartphone every day, often in the first few minutes I wake up. It’s not because I’m addicted (ok, maybe I am a little bit addicted) – it’s because my phone is so darn useful. It tells me the weather. It helps me avoid and navigate around traffic jams. It helps me keep in touch with my friends. Of course, you probably know all about that stuff. But your smartphone can do some pretty unusual things that you’ve probably never even considered. Here are some of the most amazing, out-there tasks your smartphone can help you conquer.

How to manage your Google location history – Google really is tracking your every move. As creepy as it sounds, it is actually really easy to turn this off and delete the entire location history from Google’s servers. The company even offers a help page for doing so, with the obligatory caveats about differences for specific devices and versions of Android.

The best mobile apps for taking notes – Whether you’re a student taking notes for class this fall or your workday requires that you take notes in meetings, a handy app that makes it easy to jot things down and organize them can be incredibly useful. Even better, with the right note-taking app, you can access your notes on any device so the notes you took on your tablet are easily accessible on your desktop at work and even your smartphone.

Study shows we don’t do one basic thing with our smartphones – Of all the things we can do with our smartphones, a new study points out we’re not doing the most obvious. You can change the channel on your TV, watch a movie, and even get turn-by-turn directions to just about anywhere. Still, we’re not doing that one thing that can make all that worthwhile, or possibly functional at all. We’re not downloading apps.

How to understand Twitter’s bad new direction – Twitter this week made two small changes that indicate a big shift in direction for everybody’s favorite microblogging service. The first was a two-part change: Twitter started suspending the accounts of users who posted a video showing the execution of an American journalist, and it adopted a new policy and process for handling requests from people who ask to have images of deceased family members removed from Twitter. The second is that Twitter now adds tweets to users’ timelines from people they don’t follow. The posts are selected by Twitter for their popularity. These aren’t just isolated changes, but an entirely new direction for Twitter.

How to keep your Android phone’s screen on longer – This simple tip will allow you to set your Android phone or tablet’s screen timeout, and even prevent it from sleeping while it’s charging.

Google Search for Android now understands multiple languages at once – Google’s search on Android works with up to five languages simultaneously without needing to constantly mess with the settings.

My Smart Home Trolled Me – “Motion near upstairs,” the notification says. That’s upstairs in my apartment, the place I was around 2,800 miles away from; on the other side of the country from, in fact. It’s Saturday morning, I’m away for the weekend, and SmartThings is being terribly helpful in notifying me that one of its motion detectors has spotted something unusual. That’s when I start to panic.

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Delve into DIY security with these connected cameras – DIY security gives you greater flexibility over your connected home, allowing you to setup each gadget as you see fit and avoid subscription-based services that lock you into a contract. Still, the install-yourself systems vary widely. The all-in-one units typically come with a built-in camera while the accessory-based kits tend to offer them a la carte, as an optional add-on after your initial purchase.

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Want to make Windows 8 feel faster? Shut-off these animations – Microsoft’s Windows 8 comes with many performance improvements over that of Windows 7 but it also includes animations that polish up the UI. If you can live without these animations, by turning them off, you can make the OS feel a bit snappier. Sure, it’s mostly a placebo effect seeing that the animations are only there to make transitions a bit smoother, but if you watch the video, you can see how by turning them off, the OS appears to be faster.

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Track Icelandic Bardarbunga volcano’s incredible activity with real-time dashboard – If you want to keep an eye on the activity over in Iceland right now, a fantastic dashboard has been created to give you a ton of data. There’s no guarantee that an eruption event is going to happen, but with what are now hundreds of earthquakes a day — including the single most intense earthquake ever recorded in the area – scientists are not counting anything out.

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China Telecom leaks the iPhone 6 on Weibo – An official image of the upcoming Apple smartphone gets accidentally revealed by the Chinese carrier on China’s version of Twitter.

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How Google Maps led me astray – Google Maps should be the all-knowing geographic assistant that gets me where I need to go. But after some botched navigation on a European vacation, I now have trust issues.

What Microsoft won’t tell you about Windows 7 licensing – If you’re not a lawyer, the subject of Windows licensing can be overwhelmingly confusing. Over many years of studying this stuff, I have learned that Microsoft has buried much of this information in long, dry license agreements and on sites that are available only to partners. Microsoft hasn’t assembled this information in one convenient place, so I decided to do the job myself, gathering details from public and private sources.

(Think you know the license restrictions for your version of Windows? You might be surprised. I run 2 machines with purchased OEM Windows 7 licenses, for example – and, the licenses have extremely restrictive hardware replacement requirements.  These restrictions have been essentially lifted on my Windows 8.1 machine.)

Security:

Gmail, other Android apps hacked with 92% success rate – A group of researchers are claiming they’ve been able to hack Gmail and other services with a 92% success rate. Among those found to be vulnerable to the attack were several apps which house important financial info, as well as personal data. The group is set to release their findings at a cybersecurity conference in San Diego soon.

US warns ‘significant number’ of major businesses hit by Backoff malware – More than 1,000 major enterprise networks and small and medium businesses in the U.S. have been compromised by a recently discovered malware package called “Backoff” and are probably unaware of it, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a cybersecurity alert on Friday.

PlayStation Network Suffers DDOS Attack, Hackers Claim To Have Grounded SOE President’s Plane – PlayStation Network is currently experiencing mass outages for North American users, and the reason behind the downtime is a DDOS attack for which hacker group Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility. Sony says there haven’t been any personal details leaked in the attack, but the rolling outage persists in various locales, some ten hours or more after the attack began.

Can Your Home be Hacked? Possibly – A security researcher looked at the networked device in his home and wondered if hackers could break in. The answer, as it turned out, was yes, and he is just beginning his investigation. The thing is, you don’t need fancy gadgets or high-tech equipment to have a networked home. A typical home has around five devices connected to the local network which aren’t computers, tablets or cellphones. We are talking peripherals, such as smart TVs, printers, game consoles, network storage devices, satellite receivers, and media players, just to name a few. And Jacoby found that he had quite a few of those devices on his network.

Mobile apps could be abused to make expensive phone calls – A security precaution skipped in mobile applications such as Facebook’s Messenger could be abused to make an expensive phone call at a victim’s expense, a developer contends.

Pepper spray gets a camera with The Defender – Press the button at the top of The Defender and point it at the baddie and it snaps a photo, alerts both the cops and a 24-7 monitoring service that a crime is in progress, and subdues the person with pepper spray. Oh, and it blares an alarm. It’s not quite the same as having a lightsaber katana at your side, but it might be the next best thing.

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Breach at US security contractor exposed at least 25,000 workers – USIS, which performs background checks for the Department of Homeland Security, revealed that it was hacked earlier this month. The same company vetted Edward Snowden for the government.

Company News:

Inexpensive Windows PCs hit the market with help from Microsoft – Microsoft is helping hardware makers build low-priced Windows PCs to combat Chromebooks, and the early results of that effort are hitting the market. The first PCs featuring Windows 8.1 With Bing were shown at Computex in June. The cheapest is a Lenovo desktop model that costs $225. Laptops start at $249. Microsoft has promised that laptop prices will fall to $199 with HP’s Stream 14 model, which has not been unveiled — though information about it has leaked out.

Sprint announces $60 unlimited plan to woo you away from your carrier – While Sprint may still be the third largest carrier in the U.S., T-Mobile has been making moves to change that, and is gobbling up users at a rapid pace. In an attempt to regain some sort of relevancy, Sprint has taken a few steps to best T-Mobile, and the latest comes in the form of a new, $60 unlimited plan just two days after it announced its “revamped” family plans.

BlackBerry can pursue contempt of court charge against Ryan Seacrest’s Typo – In a court order on Thursday, a Northern California District Court judge ruled that BlackBerry can pursue a contempt of court charge against Typo, a company co-founded by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and CEO Laurence Hallier, which sells a small physical keyboard that attaches to an iPhone. BlackBerry initially sued Typo in January, claiming that Typo’s keyboards look almost exactly like its own. Indeed, Seacrest told CNN in an interview that the Typo “came to fruition” because he wanted to put what he liked about the BlackBerry into an iPhone.

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Google acquires Gecko Design to help with crazy Google X ‘moon shots’ – Google has acquired Gecko Design, which will become part of the Internet company’s unit developing cutting-edge products like Glass and balloons for Internet access. Terms of the deal, announced Friday, were not disclosed.

Report: Samsung to announce Galaxy Gear 3 next month – Samsung is reportedly about to launch yet another Galaxy Gear smartwatch, this time with a curved display. If you’re keeping score, the Gear 3 would be Samsung’s sixth smartwatch since last September, when the company launched the original Galaxy Gear. Since then, Samsung has launched the Galaxy Gear 2, the Galaxy Gear 2 Neo (which features a slightly different design than the Gear 2 and no camera), the fitness-minded Galaxy Gear Fit and the Android Wear-based Gear Live.

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For The First Time, The Majority Of Opera Software’s Revenue Came From Mobile Ads – Opera Software may be best known for the desktop and mobile web browser of the same name, but it’s increasingly becoming a mobile ad company, as shown in a recent blog post about the company’s second quarter earnings report. Opera says that for the first time, its mobile ad division Opera Mediaworks was its largest source of revenue, accounting for 51 percent of the total.

Games and Entertainment:

Report: Adult women gamers now double the number of under-18 boys – According to the ESA’s measure of 2013 sales, women ages 18 and over now constitute 36 percent of all measured gamers, compared to boys under the age of 18, who represent 17 percent of the total population. This measure shows a further increase from last year’s count of 31 percent to 19 percent (and that 2013 measure only counted boys 17 and younger, meaning the total boost may be even bigger this year). While males still hold the total gamer-population lead at 52 percent, that is a drop from last year’s count of 55 percent, and the survey’s count of “frequent game purchasers” found that men and women split that category neatly in half. The report also notes a giant boost in women gamers over the age of 50, a group that grew 32 percent in 2013.

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Our Favorite Geeky Moments on The Simpsons – Upstart cable channel FXX has acquired the rights to every single episode of The Simpsons, and starting in October, cable customers with FXX will be able to watch episodes on demand via SimpsonsWorld.com and the FXNow apps. But before Simpsons World makes its debut, FXX is currently running a massive marathon of every Simpsons episode ever aired, in order, plus the The Simpsons Movie after episode 400. Things kicked off on Thursday, and will run until Sept. 1 at 12 a.m. ET, which FXX said will be the longest-running marathon in TV history. As you watch this week’s Simpsons marathon, be on the lookout for the episodes featured in our slideshow, where Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge, and Maggie tackle cell phones, gaming, sentient house guests, and more.

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Gallery: Taking a look back at some choice Sierra gaming moments – Sierra was the unquestioned king of PC gaming though the mid-’90s, and the company continued to turn out solid hits even as the decade waned. However, a series of unfortunate events started in 1996 with the company’s sale to CUC International. More restructuring followed, and in 1998 the news broke that Sierra’s parent company—now called Cendant Corporation after a merger with HFS Incorporated—had been falsifying its accounting records to hide hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. As a direct result of these losses, most of the remaining legacy Sierra employees lost their jobs on February 22, 1999, in what came to be know as Chainsaw Monday.

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Swing Copters clones slam Play Store, knock down game’s ranking – Swing Copters, the latest game from Flappy Birds creator Dong Nguyen, has already spawned hundreds of knock-off apps, and Google has been busy purging them from the Play Store. These games were released ahead of the official app, being created on what Nguyen revealed in the game’s teaser video.

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AMD introduces the R9 285, its latest Radeon graphics card – AMD touts the R9 285 as being faster than the Nvidia GTX 760, and says that it “designed it for a single purpose: to play demanding PC games at maximum detail better than any card in its class.” We’ll have to wait and see if AMD’s claims hold up in the real world, though. The Radeon R9 will be available for purchase on September 2nd, and it’ll set you back $249.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

RunScribe sensor shows how you run – Running is the favorite activity for many fitness enthusiasts, and to help show those runners how they run is the runScribe from Scribe Labs. The runScribe is a small sensor that attaches to the back of one’s shoe, gathering data and transforming it into a three-dimensional view of how a person runs. Unlike some other running sensors, the runScribe aims to provide detailed information on how a runner’s foot moves throughout the running cycle, doing so with the use of a 9-axis sensor. This information is fed into the system’s kinematic engine, which pumps out a total of 13 metrics.

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Legalized Marijuana: A Silk database of the legal status of cannabis in every US State – This site was created with Silk, a platform for collections of information. We have collected the available data from Wikipedia, PriceOfWeed and the FBI to create this Silk.

Why Are PC Sales Up And Tablet Sales Down? – When iPads first came out, they were hailed as the undoing of the PC. Finally, a cheap and reliable computing device for the average user instead of the complicated, quirky PC. After a few years of strong growth for iOS and Android tablets and a corresponding decrease in PC sales, the inverse is suddenly true: PC sales are up and tablet sales are “crashing”. What happened?

British man sentenced to nearly three years in prison for movie piracy – On Thursday, 25-year-old Philip Danks was sentenced to 33 months in jail by a Wolverhampton judge for pirating a copy of Fast and Furious 6. Danks bragged that he was the first person in the world to seed the illicit recording, which he recorded from the back of a local cinema in May 2013. His upload was downloaded around 700,000 times. The film’s distributor, Universal Pictures, argued to the judge that Danks’ upload cost the company about £2.5 million. Danks had also sold DVD copies of the movie for £1.50 each. He said his total profit from the scheme was about £1,000.

Four students invented nail polish that detects date rape drugs – Checking to see if your drink has been tampered with is about to get a whole lot more discreet. Thanks to the work of four North Carolina State University undergrads, you’ll soon be able to find out without reaching for a testing tool. That’s because you’ll already have five of them on each hand.

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Biovigil targets hospital handwashing with color-coded badges – Proper hand washing is a simple, yet vitally important task, especially when it comes to doctors and nurses. The occurrence of infections in patients that result after admittance is high, and in a bid to help solve this problem, Biovigil has unveiled a color-coded badge and sensor system that shames doctors that don’t scrub up. The sensor-toting Biovigil system uses traffic-light colors — green, yellow, and red — to shown the frequency that a doctor or nurse washes their hands. It works in conjunction with a badge the worker clips to his or her shirt, which communicates with infrared sensors put in hospital rooms.

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Incredible Ghost boat is perfect Bond villain runabout – It looks like a half-submerged X-Wing, or maybe a Star Trek Shuttle, but it’s actually Ghost, one American start-up’s vision for what an attack helicopter designed for the navy might look like. Mustering 4,000 HP from two engines on the end of powered legs, Ghost promises to whip across the ocean in a supercavitation bubble, avoiding radar and with a silky smooth ride for the crew inside

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Can Big Data Improve Policing and Save Lives? – The nation is being forced to have a conversation about race and policing – again. The recent deaths of unarmed black males at the hands of white police officers are not isolated incidents. The problem is pervasive. A recent Mother Jones article points to four incidents in the past month alone. Police brutality, like rape and child abuse, is not new to society. What is new is our awareness thanks to social media and the cacophony of the 24-hour news cycle. My instincts about technology say that there is another side to this story. Social media can amplify a story and send it around the world faster than we can blink, but what about before an incident happens? Therein lies an opportunity.

Something to think about:

“When you go to buy, use your eyes, not your ears.”

-      Czech Proverb

Today’s Free Downloads:

CPU-Z – CPU-Z is a freeware that gathers information on some of the main devices of your system.

CPU

Name and number.

Core stepping and process.

Package.

Core voltage.

Internal and external clocks, clock multiplier.

Supported instructions sets.

Cache information.

Mainboard 

Vendor, model and revision.

BIOS model and date.

Chipset (northbridge and southbridge) and sensor.

Graphic interface.

Memory 

Frequency and timings.

Module(s) specification using SPD (Serial Presence Detect) : vendor, serial number, timings table.

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DVDVideoSoft Free Studio – Free Studio is a single package which bundles all free software from DVDVideoSoft to work with DVD, video and audio files!

With this free software you can convert video and audio files between different formats and to iPod, PSP, iPhone, BlackBerry and other portable devices; burn and rip DVDs and audio CDs; upload and download videos and music to your computer, iPod, PSP, iPhone and BlackBerry; perform basic editing of audio and video files.

Tools included:

Free YouTube Download

Free YouTube to MP3 Converter

Free YouTube to iPod and PSP Converter

Free YouTube to iPhone Converter

Free YouTube to DVD Converter

Free YouTube Uploader

Free DVD Video Converter

Free Video to DVD Converter

Free Video to Flash Converter

Free 3GP Video converter

Free Video to iPod and PSP Converter

Free Video to iPhone Converter

Free Video to MP3 Converter

Free Video to JPG Converter

Free Audio Converter

Free Audio to Flash Converter

Free DVD Video Burner

Free Disc Burner

Free Audio CD Burner

Free DVD Decrypter

Free Audio CD to MP3 Converter

Free Screen Video Recorder

Free Video Dub

Free Audio Dub

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Report: NSA, GCHQ Agents Secretly Helping Tor Patch Bugs – Tor is a Web tool intended to help you navigate the Web undetected. Government officials have reportedly been using bugs in the system to root out the devious activity of criminals, stop whistleblowers, or just invade your privacy.

But Andrew Lewman, executive director of The Tor Project, believes that some employees at the National Security Agency (NSA) and GCHQ, its U.K. counterpart, are secretly informing Tor about vulnerabilities within its system to prevent their colleagues from using it to spy.

In an interview with BBC News, Lewman said Tor has received bug reports from security agencies on a monthly basis. But he acknowledged that Tor’s security controls make it impossible for him to know exactly who sent the data – or if the NSA and GCHQ are actually behind it. “It’s a hunch,” he told the BBC.

“You have to think about the type of people who would be able to do this and have the expertise and time to read Tor source code from scratch for hours, for weeks, for months and find and elucidate these super-subtle bugs or other things that they probably don’t get to see in most commercial software,” he said. “And the fact that we take a completely anonymous bug report allows them to report to us safely.”

Edward Snowden: Here’s how we take back the Internet – Appearing by telepresence robot, Edward Snowden speaks at TED2014 about surveillance and Internet freedom. The right to data privacy, he suggests, is not a partisan issue, but requires a fundamental rethink of the role of the internet in our lives — and the laws that protect it. “Your rights matter,” he says, “because you never know when you’re going to need them.” Chris Anderson interviews, with special guest Tim Berners-Lee.

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Bush and Obama Spurred Edward Snowden to Spill U.S. Secrets – Before Edward Snowden joined Daniel Ellsberg and Chelsea Manning in the annals of American whistleblowers, he was a young man who witnessed the attacks of September 11, 2001, and enthusiastically volunteered to join the national-security state. Back then, he believed in the wisdom of the War in Iraq, saw the National Security Agency as a force for good, and hoped to serve within the system. Since his first interview with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, we’ve known that he gradually lost faith in the federal government, believed it to be engaged in illegal, immoral acts, and decided to gather and leak some of its secrets.

One of the most comprehensive narratives of what specifically prompted his transition from insider to conscientious objector appears in the recently published interview he granted to James Bamford, author of several books on the NSA. Whether one believes Snowden’s leaks to be salutary or deeply regrettable, it’s useful to understand and grapple with what prompted him to act as he did, especially as the Obama administration works to make future leaks less likely. One method for preventing leaks that hasn’t been discussed: Run a federal government that carries out fewer morally and legally objectionable actions in secret.

4 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 22, 2014

The top 14 hidden features in Windows, iOS, and Android;  How to improve battery life on any mobile device;  The best free Android apps for students;  68 percent of top free Android apps vulnerable to cyberattack;  5 excuses for doing nothing about computer security!  Walmart Slashes iPhone 5c, 5s Prices;  The 6 best tablets for getting work done in 2014;  Browser extension warns you when articles are paid for by advertisers;  Check Out a Real-Time Map of Spotify Listening;  Five free point of sale apps to optimize your business;  Netflix alternatives: These 7 services are the closest you’ll get;  ‘Facebook Drug Task Force’ hoax cranks up the paranoia;  Have a company laptop? Here’s how to keep your browsing private;  Why your brain just can’t handle video games;  Every Simpsons Episode Ever starts today on FXX;  Microsoft has 8 reasons you shouldn’t buy a Chromebook;  8 Email Fails That Will Make You Cringe.

The top 14 hidden features in Windows, iOS, and Android – You may think you’re a high-tech power user who knows all the nooks and crannies of Windows, iOS, and Android, but let’s be realistic: There could be at least a few undocumented (or poorly documented) commands, control panels, and apps that have slipped by you—maybe more than a few. We’ve dived deep into each OS to uncover the best hidden tips and tricks that can make you more productive—or make common tasks easier. Got a favorite undocumented tip to share with readers? Add them in the comments section at the end of the article.

5 excuses for doing nothing about computer security! – Here are five security excuses that we hear a lot, both from individuals and from small businesses. We’ve given you some advice to help you argue back that security really does matter.

Achieving Anonymity Online Remains Difficult Despite Evolving Privacy Tools – Some things are best kept secret. But when it comes to your online activities, can you ever truly conceal your identity? A variety of tools and best practices can help you achieve some level of privacy when surfing the web, but it is nearly impossible to ensure that your online activities remain completely anonymous. Whether you’re intent on evading every government snoop, or just curious about how much information you’re giving out as you visit your favorite sites, it’s important to know just how public your online behavior can be.

How to improve battery life on any mobile device – Poor battery life is a problem that affects all mobile users. Despite which kind of mobile device you prefer, battery life tends to be an issue that we all face. Understanding what is draining your smartphone or tablet will help you squeeze the best possible battery life out of your device.

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Get productive in the new school year with the best free Android apps for students – It’s time to load up your Android phone or tablet with the right apps for getting things done and staying organized. Google Play is stocked with many excellent tools that will free you from having to do every piece of schoolwork on a computer. The following apps will turn you into a taskmaster, with excellent choices for notetaking, editing files, and collaborating with your classmates.

New browser extension warns you when articles are paid for by advertisers – Native advertising and sponsored content is a big trend at news sites these days. A new browser extension helps let you know when what you’re reading is not editorial content.

Walmart Slashes iPhone 5c, 5s Prices – Walmart is offering Apple’s colorful iPhone 5c lineup for less than $1, but before you run to your local Walmart and start buying all the 5c phones you can find, it’s not simple. It’s true, Walmart is indeed selling the iPhone 5c for $0.97. But that super-low price requires a two-year service agreement for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or U.S. Cellular. Previously, the smartphone was selling for $29—a fairly good deal itself, given that the iPhone 5c starts at $99 if you’re buying it directly from Apple (with the same two-year service deal).

The 6 best tablets for getting work done in 2014 – A few years ago, it was easy to scoff at the idea of using tablets for productivity. The hardware was too weak, and the software was too limited, so turning a tablet into a work device made sense only for a few fringe users. While it’s a lot easier now to use tablets for productivity, some are still better for work than others. Here are six tablets that are best-equipped for the job.

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Netflix alternatives: These 7 services are the closest you’ll get – What makes Netflix so worth using is the massive back catalog of movies and TV shows that are offered up in an all-you-can-watch format through just about everything with a screen and an Internet connection. Plus, almost every device has a Netflix app, and those apps are capable of doing some technically impressive things when it comes to making sure you are getting the best possible video on your device. Netflix is not the be-all-end-all in streaming video though, so if you’re looking for an alternative you should be aware of just how many Netflix alternatives exist today.

Check Out a Real-Time Map of Spotify Listening – Ever wonder if someone else in the world is doing the exact same thing you’re doing at this very moment? Like, if you just pressed play on that catchy song “Stolen Dance,” what are the odds that someone else across the globe did too? It’s a pretty trippy thing to think about and now Spotify is giving us a visual of this phenomenon in action. The music streaming service is celebrating the way music unites us all with a new project, dubbed Serendipity, which visualizes simultaneous music listening worldwide.

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Microsoft has 8 reasons you shouldn’t buy a Chromebook – Microsoft thinks the new generation of cheap Windows laptops are superior to Chromebooks. Ok, so that doesn’t shock anyone, but maybe you’d like to know why Microsoft thinks that way. It turns out they’ve posted a helpful little list on their website. No, they don’t resort to those silly Scroogle tactics. It’s a pretty straight up list. While both Windows laptops and Chromebooks let you surf the web and run web-based apps, here’s where Microsoft says Chromebooks fall flat:

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Opera Mini Now Default Browser on Microsoft Feature Phones – Microsoft and Opera inked a licensing deal that will make Opera Mini the default browser on mobile phones based on the Series 30+, Series 40, and Asha platforms. Those already using Nokia’s Xpress browser on these handsets will be encouraged to make the switch to Opera. New devices, meanwhile, will come with Opera Mini pre-installed.

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Vemory Automatically Compiles Video Memories From Your Social Media Photos – Vemory is an app that automatically configures all of your images — not just the ones from your camera roll, but the content you’ve posted to Facebook, Instagram, etc. — to create beautiful videos between 60 seconds and two minutes. But the compelling part of the app is that you can go from having no video compilations to having a dozen or more, all from simply signing up.

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Microsoft’s Windows 9 Unveil Said To Be Coming September 30 – Windows 9 has been leaked, and seems to show a backing away from the aggressively touch-focused Windows 8, with a mini start menu and dropping of the Charms bar, but we’ll get a better look September 30, according to the Verge. The blog reports Microsoft is planning an official unveiling of what’s next for its desktop OS for that date, with a technology preview available for early adopters following quickly after that.

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Google now removing 1 million links per day thanks to DMCAs – Google’s search engine crawls all corners of the web on a daily basis and because it is so massive, there are millions of links that copyright owners would prefer to have removed from the company’s search index. The requests are now coming in so frequently, that every 8 milliseconds Google is receiving a takedown request, compared to one request per six days back in 2008. The information comes from Google’s Transparency Report which indicates that last week alone, 7.8 million links were removed, and as you can see from the graph, the trend is only rising with the spike during the last few days.

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Five free point of sale apps to optimize your business – Running a retail business is no walk in the park; many aspects of the business demand your attention. However, selecting and maintaining a point of sale system shouldn’t be one of them. A simple point of sale system should include some of the basic features, like inventory and register, and run without much intervention. When a point of sale system is free or low-cost, it becomes even more attractive. Here are five free point of sale apps for the web and desktop.

5 Cheap Must-Have Apps for Back to School – Once you’ve picked out a tablet or laptop for your student, it’s time to grab the software that will make it the most useful. We’ve found the best cheap apps and programs to help kids study, work more efficiently and keep up with their assignments.

Security:

Have a company laptop? Here’s how to keep your browsing private – Your employer may let you take a company laptop home, but that doesn’t mean they’re not looking over your shoulder.

Stealing encryption keys through the power of touch – Researchers from Tel Aviv University have demonstrated an attack against the GnuPG encryption software that enables them to retrieve decryption keys by touching exposed metal parts of laptop computers.

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68 percent of top free Android apps vulnerable to cyberattack, researchers claim – After analyzing the 1,000 most-downloaded free Android applications in the Google Play store, the FireEye Mobile Security Team found that a significant portion of them are susceptible to Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attacks. According to a blog post published Thursday, the researchers found that as of July 17, 2014, 674 out of 1,000 contained at least one of three SSL vulnerabilities studied. In other words, 68 percent of the most popular apps could become a pathway for cybercriminals to lift sensitive data.

‘Facebook Drug Task Force’ hoax cranks up the paranoia – Just in time for Facebook’s newly announced “Satire” tag, a satirical news site brings us Facebook’s corporate police force, replete with assault weapons and anti-bomb vehicles, transporting their first two busted users to the nation’s first corporate jail – which is in Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, of course.

US universities at greater risk for security breaches than retail and healthcare: BitSight – A new report says the majority of attacks experienced by higher education institutions come from malware infections, and most universities are ill equipped to prevent and handle such attacks.

Create an IT risk assessment program for SMBs – It’s only a matter of time before most SMBs will experience a compromised IT infrastructure. To minimize the fallout from a data breach, SMBs should begin an IT risk assessment program. (registration required.)

Company News:

Aereo loses appeal to be recognized as cable operator – Aereo’s fight for survival was dealt a setback Thursday when a federal court rejected the streaming television service’s argument that it should be recognized as a cable-TV service.

Xiaomi, Ouya ink deal to bring Android games to China – Ouya, which is trying in earnest to make a home on your living room shelf, has inked a deal with Xiaomi to bring their software to the Chinese market. An agreement between the two was confirmed by Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman and Xiaomi executives. Though not a hardware distribution agreement, the deal will see the Ouya platform on various Xiaomi devices.

Amazon’s latest business move: Shanghai’s free-trade zone – Amazon announced today that it will be coming to the Shanghai free-trade zone soon, something that will potentially boost its sales in China. According to the Internet retailer, a deal has been penned with the related authorities, and it is slated to launch a logistics warehouse to “experiment with financial innovation,” among other things.

Mozilla expands ad experiment to many more Firefox users – The current “directory tile” ad experiment shows only for new Firefox users. A new “enhanced tile” program to launch soon will mean existing users can see some ads, too.

China Telecom to sell unlocked iPhone 6 – China Telecom said it will unlock the next-generation iPhone by supporting the SIM cards of the other two major telecom players in the market.

Games and Entertainment:

Every Simpsons Episode Ever starts today on FXX – Back when FX purchased the rights to the entire Simpsons back-catalog, it was instantly clear what they’d planned to do with it. Show every single episode of The Simpsons in order. The one true Simpsons Marathon begins (or began, depending on when you’re reading this) today at 10:00 AM Eastern Time and runs non-stop through the first of September.

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Shadowgate review: This castle still wants to kill you, 25 years later – Shadowgate is unapologetically retro, bringing the difficulty of the original Shadowgate into 2014 and barely softening the blow in the process. It’s fantastic.

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Temporarily Free games hit PC and Xbox One: Titanfall, Max – It appears to be the dawn of the “temporarily free” games here this summer from both Microsoft’s Xbox One division and EA Games’ Origin group. What you’ll be seeing from Origin first is Titanfall, while the Xbox One program is in beta testing with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.

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Xbox One getting Free Play Day with Gold feature – One of the incentives for subscribing to EA’s new Access service is the ability to play new or pre-release games early for a limited time. Now it looks as though Microsoft is going to introduce a similar feature for gamers who sign up for Xbox Live Gold on the Xbox One.

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The gorgeous computer interfaces of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ – The CG company responsible for the UIs in “Guardians of the Galaxy” has released a showreel highlighting its stunning work.

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Disney goes after Clash of Clans with new Star Wars game – Walt Disney thinks the force is strong with this one. The company unveiled a new strategy game Thursday called Star Wars Commander. The title, which Disney worked on for about 18 months in collaboration with Lucasfilm, mimics the popular Supercell game Clash of Clans, which encourages players to build up armies and towns in an effort to battle one another.

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Why your brain just can’t handle video games – This video from host and writer Anthony Carboni explains the many ways our brains just completely suck at video games. From the 80-millisecond delay between the time we see something onscreen and our brain processes that information, to how our brain uses sensory gating to filter out things that your brain deems unimportant, our brains are hardwired in such a way that we sometimes struggle during periods of intense focus, like when gaming. So the next time you want to curse the game, controller, or other players when you die in a video game, just remember that the problem is probably your brain.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

8 Email Fails That Will Make You Cringe – An embarassing email snafu can happen to anyone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t delight in the digital misfortunes of others. The 40-year history of email has bseen plenty of Email Fails, but here are eight recent mega-mishaps that we’re happy didn’t happen to us.

Android fragmentation charted: 18,796 different devices in use – It seems like each week, we learn of a new Android device coming out. It probably feels that way because it is that way, and a new report only highlights just how bad the issue is. According to Open Signal, there are nearly 20,000 Android devices in the wild, up from almost 12,000 last year. To be clear, I’ll note the actual number is 18,796 devices in 2014, compared to 11,868 this time last year.

Monkey’s selfie cannot be copyrighted, US regulators say – United States copyright regulators are agreeing with Wikipedia’s conclusion that a monkey’s selfie cannot be copyrighted by a nature photographer whose camera was swiped by the ape in the jungle. The animal’s selfie went viral. The US Copyright Office, in a 1,222-page report discussing federal copyright law, said that a “photograph taken by a monkey” is unprotected intellectual property.

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Watch the Red Bull RB8 race in infrared – Modern technology has allowed us to get glimpses of many cool things we wouldn’t ordinarily see, and Red Bull’s new infrared racing video may be near the top of the list. FLIR Thermography, in partnership with Infiniti Red Bull Racing, has used its cameras to capture footage of F1 racers in infrared.

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ISIS terror fanatics invade Diaspora website after Twitter ban – Medieval terror bastards ISIS have moved from Twitter to the non-profit social network Diaspora to spew their cant – and there’s apparently nothing that can be done to stop them.

Analysis of Ferguson tweets shows Twitter’s quick grip on the news – Roughly 146,000 posts related to the shooting were published to Twitter on Saturday, Aug. 9, the day Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, Pew researchers found. MSNBC and Fox did not devote prime-time coverage to the shooting and the surrounding events until Monday, with 21 minutes and 6 minutes of coverage a piece, respectively. CNN began its prime-time coverage on Tuesday, with 24 minutes.

Something to think about:

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

-      Shel Silverstein

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

Using VideoCacheView:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flash Video Files In Temporary Folder

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

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

Playing Video Files Directly From The Cache

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

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GlassWire – 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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System Explorer – 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

image

Screenshot from a personal system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Edward Snowden story to be told at Museum of Sydney – In June 2013, US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked sensational details of global surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.

The Snowden files revealed a number of programs undertaken by the NSA and its UK counterpart GCHQ that enabled those agencies to collect information stored by major US technology companies, as well as intercepting data from the fibre-optic cables which make up the backbone of global phone and internet networks.

The revelations prompted a groundbreaking series of articles and an international debate about national security, individual privacy and the meaning and value of metadata. These subjects have sprung to the very centre of political debate in Australia where, on 3 September, the story of Snowdon’s extraordinary whistleblowing will be shared for the first time on a Sydney stage by one of the key journalists involved.

Guardian journalist Luke Harding, author of The Snowden Files book, will reveal to David Marr his experiences researching and writing about the Edward Snowden case, including some truly bizarre encounters with global intelligence agencies, as well discussing the implications for public interest journalism and free speech. The Guardian and the Washington Post were jointly awarded the 2014 Pulitzer prize for public service for their coverage of the NSA’s activities.

This free event at the Museum of Sydney, co-hosted by Guardian Australia and the Brisbane Writers Festival, will be a fascinating conversation about Snowden and the swirling nexus between public interest, political censorship and national security.

Those TSA scanners were literally only good for seeing you naked – The full-body X-ray scanners only retired last year amid long-standing concerns that they intruded on privacy by showing travelers naked were also riddled with security loopholes, new research claims. The TSA used the Rapiscan Secure 1000 scanner between 2009 and 2013 in airports across the US, but computer scientists have demonstrated that with a little preparation the machine could miss knives, guns, and even explosives from being smuggled onto planes.

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The primary NSA issue isn’t privacy, it’s authority – I celebrate Judge Richard J Leon’s opinion that the government’s mass collection of communications metadata is “almost Orwellian”, and I decry Judge William H Pauley III’s decision that the NSA’s collection is both effective and legally perfectly peachy.

But I worry that the judges, as well as many commentators and Edward Snowden himself, may be debating on the wrong plane. I see some danger in arguing the case as a matter of privacy because I fear that could have serious impact on our concept of knowledge, of what is allowed to be known and thus of freedom of speech. Instead, I think this is an argument about authority – not so much what government (or anyone else) is allowed to know but what government, holding unique powers, is allowed to do with what it knows.

Indeed, the Fourth Amendment, which is often called upon in this argument, is explicitly about controlling authority:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In the search for a legally protected right to privacy in the United States, begun with Brandeis and Warren in 1890, the Fourth Amendment has been interpreted as affording privacy protection as have the First Amendment (freedom of belief) and the Fifth (freedom against self-incrimination). In each case, though, the right is not so much for something – privacy – as against something – namely, government abuse.

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