Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 3, 2015

How to upgrade to Windows 10 without waiting in line;  How to protect your wireless network from Wi-Fi Sense;  25 Apps for the Tech-Savvy Teacher;  How to block a phone number on your Android phone;  7 Router Features You Should Be Using for Better Wi-Fi;  GTA 5 becomes an RPG with this new mod;  Hacker steals Bitdefender customer log-in credentials;  Faster booting, smaller footprint make Windows 10 an easy upgrade for old PCs;  How to do a clean install of Windows 10;  12 Things You Can Replace With a $38 Tablet;  Drawing Lessons From July’s Jeep Hack;  Batch forward emails with Multi Forward for Gmail;  How to use Facebook’s new Security Checkup feature;  1.4m Fiat Chrysler radio hack recall may be tip of iceberg;  Google instant translation app adds 20 new languages;  Game of Thrones S5 downloads arrive early on August 31;  Nvidia Shield Tablets Recalled Over Fire Concerns;  Why India’s IT firms are retraining masses of employees;  U.S. District Judge rules mobile-phone tracking does require a warrant.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to upgrade to Windows 10 without waiting in line – Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade is rolling out to millions of PCs worldwide. 14 million machines are now running Windows 10, but are you still waiting for your upgrade notification? If so, there’s an easy way to avoid the line and download Windows 10 and upgrade straight away.

How to do a clean install of Windows 10 – If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you can install Microsoft’s new Windows 10 OS completely for free. If you choose to follow this method Windows 10 will bring along all of your data, apps and most of your system settings from your older OS. Which can adversely affect performance. This post will show you how to change that and get a clean install of Windows 10 onto your computer. This is possible to do both after you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 and before, when your computer still runs Windows 7 or 8.

Faster booting, smaller footprint make Windows 10 an easy upgrade for old PCs – If you bought an eligible PC in Windows 7’s heyday, you will probably be installing the new OS on five- or six-year-old hardware that has long since been forgotten about by the company that sold it to you. Or maybe you bought something during the post-Chromebook era, where Windows PCs dipped back into netbook territory in their quest for a low price tag. We installed Windows 10 on a few of these kinds of systems to see what you can expect, at least if you’re comparing a clean install to a clean install. Current users of both Windows 7 and Windows 8 should expect to recover a few gigabytes of drive space, a few megabytes of system RAM, and a few precious seconds of boot time.

Windows 10 superguide: Everything you need to know – After months of teasing, testing, and technical previews, Windows 10 is finally here, and it’s one of the best operating systems Microsoft’s ever released. Windows 10 weaves together the best parts of Windows 7 and Windows 8, adds a dash of compelling features, then gives it all away for free to current Windows 7 and 8 users. And yes, the Start menu is back.

25 Apps for the Tech-Savvy Teacher – This collection includes mobile apps that specifically target teachers and school leaders, from grading and taking attendance to simplifying presentations or perfecting their use of the whiteboard. For more, we’d recommend edshelf, an online repository of digital tools for teachers. Until then, dive into our slideshow of the apps you should be downloading to take your teaching to the next level.

This App Shows How Climate Change Is Affecting the World Around You – You’ve heard about what climate change is doing the arctic and to the sea levels around the world. But sometimes it can be hard to understand what’s happening in your own backyard. A new app called Field Notes shows you just that. The free app, manufactured by tech mapping company Esri, is part of a broader effort by the company to put data about people, climate and geography at your fingertips.

How to block a phone number on your Android phone – After about the twentieth time that telemarketer bugs you with an “incredible deal” you’re probably ready to throw your phone out the window. There’s a better way. With just a few steps you can banish that caller from contacting you forever. Here’s how to do it. As a caveat, your specific dialer may look different or have some of the options placed elsewhere depending on which device you have. By and large, however, the process is pretty similar.

7 Router Features You Should Be Using for Better Wi-Fi – Only a few years ago, wireless routers were relatively dumb devices that merely beamed the Web into your home or office and not much more. Now, they offer everything from support for multiple wireless frequencies to mobile-management tools. And forget the painful setup: The best routers boast a much higher level of default intelligence, making it simpler than ever to configure and use more advanced features. Many functions that once required significant networking know-how can now be properly set up with the click of a mouse. With that in mind, here are seven features found in most advanced wireless routers that are well worth the time and effort to configure and use.

Batch forward emails with Multi Forward for Gmail – Need to forward a bunch of emails? This Chrome extension lets you perform such a maneuver with ease and alacrity.

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

12 Things You Can Replace With a $38 Tablet – If you’ve ever operated an iPad, you’ll be fantastically disappointed by the 7Ci. Let us not dwell on what the 7Ci can’t do, let’s consider what it can do! It’s still a flat touch-screen device that can connect to the Internet and run apps—which means it’s not just a tablet, it’s a clock, camera, pedometer, guitar tuner, or just about anything we want it to be. And that’s where things get interesting—we can use this slate to replace all the things in our lives. While you wouldn’t want to waste a $400 iPad as a wall clock, you wouldn’t really think about it for a $38 7Ci. Here are 12 things around the house and office we were able to replace with the 7Ci.

Google instant translation app adds 20 new languages – If you’re heading over to the Czech republic any time soon, you wont have to worry about figuring out which sign says “ladies” or “gentlemen”. Google just added Czech, Slovak, and 18 other languages to their translation app. It really broadens the scope of the program, which started out with the ability to translate to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and of course, English. Though Google boats that a total of 90 languages are supported in the app, only 37 of them are available for picture mode translations.

Security:

How to use Facebook’s new Security Checkup feature – The new feature is in the process of rolling out to all user accounts, but if you visit this webpage you can try to access the new security check feature right now. Otherwise you can wait until you are prompted when you log in on a desktop, don’t worry — eventually you will have access to the feature. The process itself only takes a few minutes of your time, and is well worth it (especially if you use a lot of apps or are in the habit of logging into your account using random computers). As you go through the process, simply click on each section title to view relevant links and information.

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How to protect your wireless network from Wi-Fi Sense – If the recent controversy over Windows 10’s Wi-Fi Sense feature has you concerned about wireless security, good. In this post, I explain why wireless security is as much social as it is technological, and suggest four ways to make your wireless network safer.

New attack on Tor can deanonymize hidden services with surprising accuracy – Computer scientists have devised an attack on the Tor privacy network that in certain cases allows them to deanonymize hidden service websites with 88 percent accuracy. Such hidden services allow people to host websites without end users or anyone else knowing the true IP address of the service. The deanonymization requires the adversary to control the Tor entry point for the computer hosting the hidden service. It also requires the attacker to have previously collected unique network characteristics that can serve as a fingerprint for that particular service. Tor officials say the requirements reduce the effectiveness of the attack. Still, the new research underscores the limits to anonymity on Tor, which journalists, activists, and criminals alike rely on to evade online surveillance and monitoring.

Hacker steals Bitdefender customer log-in credentials, attempts blackmail – A hacker extracted customer log-in credentials from a server owned by Bitdefender that hosted the cloud-based management dashboards for its small and medium-size business clients. The antivirus company confirmed the security breach but said in an emailed statement that the attack affected less than 1 percent of its SMB customers, whose passwords have since been reset. Consumer and enterprise customers were not affected, the company said. The hacker, who uses the online alias DetoxRansome, first bragged about the breach on Twitter Saturday and later messaged Bitdefender threatening to release the company’s “customer base” unless he was paid $15,000.

Globalstar GPS network (allegedly) vulnerable to hackers – Researcher Colby Moore will be presenting findings related to a security issue with the Globalstar satellite network at Black Hat in Las Vegas next week. The researcher found that devices using the Globalstar network reportedly can be fed false data or have their data transmissions intercepted. The type of system Globalstar reportedly uses is “kind of fundamentally broken from the get-go,” according to Moore. That’s not the end of its problems, however.

1.4m Fiat Chrysler radio hack recall may be tip of iceberg – Fiat Chrysler’s hackable infotainment may be the tip of the iceberg, with safety regulators broadening investigations to see if other automakers are at risk. While Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4m Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler vehicles after a flaw in its Uconnect system – potentially allowing hackers to access the dashboard systems while the car is moving – was identified, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now requested further data from infotainment provider Harman Kardon, with an estimated 2.8m systems now under the microscope.

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Drawing Lessons From July’s Jeep Hack – If you were anywhere near the internet in late July, you probably read the news: Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, two security researchers who specialize in hacking cars, figured out how to remotely take control of a Jeep. They didn’t just take control of the vehicle from ten miles away— the hacking duo exploited a software flaw that shut down the Jeep’s engine while Wired’s Andy Greenberg was driving it. On a busy stretch of public highway where cars whizzed by at 60+ miles per hour. Without a shoulder or emergency pull off lane. “THEY DID WHAAAAAAAAT?” most of the internet asked, mouths agape while watching the video proof that this was all possible.

Company News:

Mozilla CEO slams Microsoft over Windows 10 browser defaults – In an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard accuses Microsoft of hobbling users’ browser choices by making Edge the default browser in the next generation of its operating system and called on the tech giant to reverse what he called an “aggressive move to override user choice.” While noting that it was still technically possible to preserve users’ browser settings, Beard charged that the default setting changes have made the option less obvious.

Google defies France over making right to be forgotten global – The search engine has rejected an order by the French data protection watchdog to apply the right to be forgotten to all its domains, including those outside Europe.

Microsoft reportedly investing in Uber at a $50 billion valuation – If it seems like Uber is working on another new round of funding, that is because Uber is always working on another new round of funding. Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that the company has closed a new investment which values it at $50 billion, and also includes Microsoft as a backer. The round gave Uber another $1 billion, putting its total funding at $5 billion. Uber’s endless appetite for cash is driven by its equally ambitious plans for expansion. It is currently active in over 50 countries and 300 cities around the globe. It is hiring drivers and adding cars at a rapid pace in all these territories, while also spending considerable amounts on political lobbying and legal battles with regulators.

Microsoft bests Google in patent case appeal – A federal appeals court has handed Microsoft a win against Google in a long-running lawsuit over patent licensing that was originally filed against Motorola in 2010. A panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling that set a licensing rate for some patents owned by Motorola that was significantly lower than the company had originally asked for.

Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpelès arrested in Japan for alleged fraud – Mt. Gox. That’s a name you probably never imagined, or wished, hearing again after all this time. Good thing that this is more about its CEO Mark Karpelès. Sadly, it might actually still be linked with the scandal that rocked the Bitcoin world early last year. In Japan, Karpelès was arrested on the grounds that he allegedly manipulated the company’s computer systems to add $1 million to his balance, at a time when Mt. Gox has filed for bankruptcy because of its inability to pay back its customers.

Yahoo Will Acquire Fashion Startup Polyvore – In a blog post about the deal, Yahoo’s senior vice president of publisher products Simon Khalaf highlighted “Polyvore’s expertise on community-driven experiences and retailer-supported commerce” and wrote that the deal “will accelerate Yahoo’s digital content growth strategy across the areas of social, mobile and native.” Khalaf also said the Polyvore team will be joining Yahoo and working out of the company’s offices in Sunnyvale, San Francisco and New York, with co-founder and CEO Jess Lee reporting directly to him.

Games and Entertainment:

Nvidia Shield Tablets Recalled Over Fire Concerns – Nvidia is conducting a voluntary recall of its Shield 8-inch tablets sold between July 2014 and 2015. According to the manufacturer, the battery can overheat and pose a fire hazard. Owners of the recalled device should stop using their tablet—except to back up data. Details on how to get a replacement device can be found online.

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Game of Thrones S5 downloads arrive early on August 31 – Game of Thrones stands chief among all shows, at least when you look at how many people are pirating it. That piracy was aided by early leaks of season 5 episodes, and all in all HBO is scrambling to squeeze some pocket change from those Internet rebels. As such, it isn’t surprising HBO has decided to launch the digital downloads for season 5 before it releases the Blu-ray and DVD versions (though the network probably won’t cry if you pre-order them anyway). Downloads start next month.

High-quality movies and TV shows hit HBO, iTunes in August – HBO Now is available on more platforms than ever and it’s bringing Oscar winners “Birdman” and “The Theory of Everything”. Meanwhile, Apple’s bringing home the Bacon (Kevin) in “Cop Car” and other first-run movies.

GTA 5 becomes an RPG with this new mod – Grand Theft Auto V is a huge, sprawling, entertaining action game, but it does not have very many RPG elements. One modder has decided to change that, and is creating a mod that turns GTA V into a role-playing game. User LogicSpawn is working the mod, which is called GTA V: RPG, and the modder’s adding skill trees, looting systems, and a whole bunch of other tweaks to the game. This includes a system of relationships with characters in the game. You’ll be able to talk to and befriend NPCs, who can affect the way the game plays out. You can watch the trailer for the mod below (warning: some strong language).

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Netflix changes ‘Fuller House’ plot to make it less depressing – Netflix, in what may be one of its more misguided reboots, has decided to bring back the 90s family-friendly television show Full House as a continuation of the original series. As we’d previously heard, it will feature some of the original cast, with the then-kids now being the show’s adults going through life’s mild follies and saccharine sweet learning moments. If you paid attention to the original announcement, you probably noticed something important: the storyline sounded really depressing. It seems Netflix noticed too, and it has done something about it.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Man finds iPhone that fell from airplane –  Ben Wilson can be forgiven for thinking his iPhone was gone for good after it fell 9,300 feet (2,835 meters) from a Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft. But the missing phone kept on ticking, not only reporting its location but providing a map so Wilson could find it. “It was by the side of the road south of Jacksboro, under a mesquite tree,” Wilson told the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas. “The donkey pointed out where it was.”

Machine Learning And Human Bias: An Uneasy Pair – Any program designed to predict, manipulate and display racial categories must operationalize them both for internal processing and for human consumption. Machine learning is one of the most effective frameworks for doing so because machine learning programs learn from human-provided examples rather than explicit rules and heuristics.

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Why India’s IT firms are retraining masses of employees – Rolling out new modules to coach employees, re-skilling, and retraining were never alien to India’s IT services firms, which have continually demonstrated their ability to weather the many industry changes. This time around, the training exercises are necessitated by digital technologies but could point to a deeper shift for the $146 billion-in-revenues industry. Earlier this month, India’s largest IT services firm, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), said it would train 100,000 employees — about a third of its workforce — in digital technologies this year alone.

America proves too tough for hitchhiking robot after vandals end cross-country trip – It seems the tough streets of Philadelphia were too much for a friendly little robot from Ontario. All the Hitchbot wanted to do was see the United States. But just two weeks after starting its cross-country journey in Boston, Hitchbot’s trip has come to an unfortunate end. Last night, the cute little robot was vandalized and apparently decapitated in the city of brotherly love. This wasn’t Hitchbot’s first trip, either. Last year the robot successfully travelled across Canada, and in the past it’s made it across Germany and the Netherlands as well. The Americans, it turns out, have proved not quite so friendly to our metallic cousins.

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Something to think about:

“There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.”

–      Napoleon Bonaparte

Today’s Free Downloads:

DETEKT – Detekt is a free tool that scans your Windows computer for traces of FinFisher and Hacking Team RCS, commercial surveillance spyware that has been identified to be also used to target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world.

Please beware that Detekt is a best effort tool. While it may have been effective in previous investigations, it does not provide a conclusive guarantee that your computer is not compromised by the spyware it aims to detect. The tool is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees of any kind.

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Free Gmail Backup – Why backup Gmail?

    Your account can be hacked

    Your account can be disabled

    Email is deleted due to a user error

    Gmail can be a subject to an outage

    Program error can erase some of your content

    The internet connection many be unavailable

    You can overrun Gmail storage quota

    Your account is infected by a virus

Easy installation and configuration – You don’t need to enter any credentials to your Gmail account: instead you simply signing in with google.

Incrementally backup Gmail account – Every time you run backup it downloads only new emails.

Archiving – Save all your emails together with attachements locally and delete them from Gmail account

Full backup history – See the full backup history.

Preview backup messages – You can see backed up email messages in Backup View dialog: read text, view attachments.

Restore selected messages – Select one or several messages to restore them.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

White House will not force FBI to get a warrant for email data – The Obama administration will not force federal agencies to get a warrant to access older emails, despite a growing effort from lawmakers and the public alike to change the law.

As the law stands, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) allows federal agencies to access opened email data older than six months with a subpoena. Anything under the six-month period still requires a warrant. The law has not been updated since it was first enacted in 1986, failing to account for technological developments like limitless online storage.

Following a heavy backlog, the White House responded Tuesday to a 2013 petition, signed by 113,035 people, demanding that federal agencies including the FBI and the IRS “get a warrant” before accessing email content.

In its response, the White House said that although it agrees the law is “outdated” and “should be reformed,” the administration deferred responsibility to Congress for failing to act sooner.

U.S. District Judge rules mobile-phone tracking does require a warrant – In May, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that cops don’t need a warrant to grab carrier cell-phone records. Not quite three months later, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California, ruled police must obtain a search warrant to seize your mobile-phone records.

So, what does this mean? It means that sooner or later the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will have to decide if the cops can track where you’ve been by your phone. Still, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) would argue that Koh’s decision is the more telling one. That’s because, Hanni Fakhoury, EFF Senior Staff Attorney, argued, the Eleventh Circuit was “based on old cases considering analog-era technology and hardly settles the question.”

In Koh’s case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Schenk has argued that cell phone users who are concerned about their privacy could either not carry phones or turn them off.

NSA report shows China hacked 600+ US targets over 5 years – NBC has released a 2014 slide from a secret NSA Threat Operations Center (NTOC) briefing—a map that shows the locations of “every single successful computer intrusion” by Chinese state-sponsored hackers over a five-year period. More than 600 US businesses and institutions were breached during that period.

The slide was provided to NBC by an unnamed “intelligence source,” who said the briefing “highlighted China’s interest in Google and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, and in air traffic control systems… [and] catalogued the documents and data Chinese government hackers have exfiltrated,” the network reported.

The report suggests that the NSA has been tracking Chinese cyber-attacks for years and that its own network surveillance of China gives the agency the ability to correlate those attacks with specific sources. The briefing shown to NBC listed locations for the sources of each of the “exploitations and attacks,” NBC reported.

The leak, coincidentally, comes as the leadership of the NSA and Department of Defense continues to lobby for the creation of a “cyber-deterrent”—a network attack capability that could be used to launch a massive and crippling computer and network attack against any adversary who launched an attack on US networks. In a speech before the Aspen Security Forum last week, NSA Director and US Cyber Command head Admiral Mike Rogers warned, “If we do nothing, then one of the potential unintended consequences of this could be, does this send a signal to other nation states, other groups, other actors that this kind of behavior is OK and that you can do this without generating any kind of response?”

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Federal Court’s data breach decision shows new tilt toward victims, class-action lawsuits – Federal courts historically have been quick to dismiss plaintiff claims of on-going harm when their data is snatched in a breach, but a crack is appearing in that logic that could change how liability is gauged for hacked corporations and fuel class-action lawsuits against those companies.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit began to question the depth of on-going harm to victims by overturning a district court that had tossed a class-action lawsuit against Neiman Marcus over a 2014 data breach. The Court said victims had “standing,” a right to file a lawsuit in federal court, over concerns of on-going problems.

“The court likened the case to a recent data breach involving Adobe, wherein the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California declared that ‘the risk that Plaintiffs’ personal data will be misused by the hackers who breached Adobe’s network is immediate and very real,’ ” lawyers from Ballard Spahr, a national law firm based in Philadelphia, wrote in a review of the ruling.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 31, 2015

Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide;  Can your old PC run Windows 10?  14 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life;  What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security;  New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless;  KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket;  Google Translate app adds 20 more languages;   6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV;  How to do a clean install of Windows 10;  Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide;  Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts;  Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver;  Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles;  Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360;  Man shoots down drone hovering over house;  Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia;  Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show.

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Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide – Security Checkup was designed to walk users through all the security tools available to them, one by one, while asking them which ones they would like on or off. Initial steps include logging out from devices that haven’t been used for Facebook access in awhile as well as email alerts for attempted logins from unfamiliar devices or apps. This is not to be confused with Privacy Checkup, a step-by-step guide published to the platform last September.

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Google Translate app adds 20 more languages – Designed for both iOS and Android, the Google Translate app is adding 20 new languages. You’ll be able to translate to and from English with Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. For Hindi and Thai, you’ll be able to do one-way translations from English.

6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV – Being able to watch the news is one of the biggest reasons people stay tethered to an expensive pay-TV subscription. In a recent Comscore survey, 58 percent of subscribers said the news was important to their viewing habits—more than any other TV category. But nowadays, you don’t need a cable TV package to stay informed. If anything, streaming video is a better way to keep up with the news, offering more choices and broader perspectives compared to the big cable-news networks. And in many cases, you don’t have to pay a dime. Read on for the best ways to watch the round-the-clock news without a big channel bundle.

Cloud storage alternatives: Three ways to sync your own data securely and privately – Cloud storage is convenient, but you can remove any concerns about security or other issues if you do what they do yourself.

Yahoo unveils Livetext, allowing people to text using silent videos – Yahoo on Wednesday unveiled a new video texting app, called Livetext, which the company hopes can revive its relevance for smartphone users. The twist for this service is that the videos don’t have sound. The app will be available for free Thursday on phones running Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems in the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where it’s available now.

Can your old PC run Windows 10? – For a modern operating system with an vast range of capabilities, Windows 10 is an incredibly lean and mean operating system. To find out just how lean though, I decided to install Windows 10 on a few ancient PCs to see how well it runs. The actual experience might surprise you.

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The “Vista Capable” machine

Windows 10 guide to downloading and loading from a USB stick – Today upgrades to Windows 10 begin to be unleashed by Microsoft for all the most modern computers, including yours. Microsoft is releasing this operating system upgrade for free for most users – assuming they’ve got a Windows operating system from the past couple of generations — if you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you should be safe. Today we’re having a peek at how simple it is to load Windows 10 to your computer using a disk image (ISO file) downloaded from Microsoft to a USB stick.

How to do a clean install of Windows 10 – If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you can install Microsoft’s new Windows 10 OS completely for free. If you choose to follow this method Windows 10 will bring along all of your data, apps and most of your system settings from your older OS. Which can adversely affect performance. This post will show you how to change that and get a clean install of Windows 10 onto your computer. This is possible to do both after you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 and before, when your computer still runs Windows 7 or 8.

Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts – Windows 10 is available and as with any OS if you want to get the most out of it you need to know a few keyboard shortcuts. Here are the Windows 10 shortcuts that will make your life easier, both the new entries and old favourites from earlier iterations of the OS.

Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide – Are you seeking a new laptop, hybrid or tablet on which to run Windows 10? We asked the leading PC vendors to identify suitable products in a number of categories.

How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free – Windows 10 brings a lot of good stuff to the table, but it also takes away some key functionality that Windows 7 users might miss. In Windows 10, you have to say goodbye to Windows Media Center and with it, the ability to play DVDs natively. Microsoft said in May it would have a native solution for DVD playback to make up for those who lost it. Originally this app was supposed to show up later in the year, but Microsoft’s solution is already available. In my tests, however, the app doesn’t work perfectly. Luckily, there are other options.

The big three record labels threaten to boycott YouTube, according to reports – According to the New York Post, Universal, Sony and Warner are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with YouTube’s monetization efforts. The labels reportedly feel the site isn’t serious when it comes to monetizing their content. Another gripe stems from how the Google-owned site retains complete control over everything from ad policy to the sales channel. The report says the big three could even go “nuclear,” meaning they could resort to pulling their music catalogs from the site.

Windows 10 ‘Service Release 1′ expected to roll out next month – SR1 will be a maintenance update, focusing on adding polish and stability to the OS, so don’t expect any new features. As more people continue to upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft will gather more telemetry from the OS in action, and will no doubt use that data to help inform development of future maintenance releases. Of course, bug fixes are always welcome, but they’re not terribly exciting. However, as we’ve previously reported, Microsoft is planning a further, larger update to be released this October. This update will focus heavily on improving stability too, but it will also mark the arrival of several key features that the company has already announced.

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

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College is nothing without friends. Here’s 14 ways to find your social footing on and off campus.

Mozilla blasts Microsoft for making it harder to switch to Firefox in Windows 10 – Microsoft has altered Windows 10 so that users have to explicitly set a default app for applications like mail, calendar, or web browsers. The change means the setup installers for Chrome and Firefox can no longer set themselves as the default browser during the install process. Mozilla isn’t happy with this change, and the company is calling on Microsoft to reverse what it calls an “aggressive move to override user choice on Windows 10.”

Microsoft to offer a free 90 day trial of Windows 10 Enterprise – Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most secure OS to date and offers improved security and device management options for large corporations.. In order to entice more corporate customers, Microsoft is now offering up a 90-day trial for Windows 10. Those running Windows 10 Enterprise as an Insider should also be aware that the preview will end on October 1, with notifications of the impending closure starting in September. After that, customers must either register for the 90-day evaluation or purchase the full product to continue using it.

Security:

There’s (Almost) Nothing You Can Do About Stagefright – Move over Heartbleed, there’s a new ominously named digital threat that has the potential to engulf hundreds of millions of people. It’s called Stagefright, and the information security community fears that 950 million Android phones are at risk of succumbing to the exploit. While most Android hacks at least require victims to make some kind of mistake, like getting tricked into downloading malware, the Stagefright vulnerability could already be on nearly a billion Android phones regardless of what users do.

Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles – A security researcher has posted a video on YouTube demonstrating how a device he made can intercept wireless communications to locate, unlock and remotely start GM vehicles that use the OnStar RemoteLink mobile app. Samy Kamkar, who refers to himself as a hacker and whistleblower, posted the video today showing him using a device he calls OwnStar. The device, he said, intercepts communications between GM’s OnStar RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service.

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Samy Kamkar stands next to a Chevy Volt that he used to demonstrate how he could hack into the GM’s OnStar mobile app in order to unlock and start the car. Credit: Samy Kamkar

New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless – Another day, another critical Android vulnerability. This time, it might be slightly less serious than Stagefright but still enough to be worrisome. Popular security Trend Mirco came upon this vulnerability in Android’s mediaserver component that, when given a malformed MKV media file, could render the device unresponsive and completely silent, practically locking out the user from his or her device. The one slight good news is that this exploit requires installing a malicious app or visiting a suspicious website, which, sadly, isn’t that hard to get users to do.

Researchers develop astonishing Web-based attack on a computer’s DRAM – Millions of Web users could be vulnerable to an attack on their computer’s DRAM via the Web, a surprising development that expands on a bug that has increasingly worried computer security experts. It has been known for several years that densely packed memory cells on computers are vulnerable to intentional interference. But a new research paper details how an attack could be conducted over the Web, dramatically increasing the danger to users.

How the way you type can shatter anonymity—even on Tor – Security researchers have refined a long-theoretical profiling technique into a highly practical attack that poses a threat to Tor users and anyone else who wants to shield their identity online. The technique collects user keystrokes as an individual enters usernames, passwords, and other data into a website. After a training session that typically takes less than 10 minutes, the website—or any other site connected to the website—can then determine with a high degree of certainty when the same individual is conducting subsequent online sessions. The profiling works by measuring the minute differences in the way each person presses keys on computer keyboards. Since the pauses between keystrokes and the precise length of time each key is pressed are unique for each person, the profiles act as a sort of digital fingerprint that can betray its owner’s identity.

What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security – Windows 10 has a lot of security features built-in for businesses, but they aren’t all ready out of the box yet.

Company News:

Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver – Uber, at least until autonomous cars dot the landscape, needs drivers. It has already hawked its driving perks at teachers, stay-at-home moms, poor college students, and anyone else who wants extra money and has a decent car. Now the ridesharing company has partnered with Life Reimagined, an AARP non-profit subsidiary, to dangle its driving “partnerships” at the organization’s members. Uber will be making appearances at some Life Reimagined events, among other things, targeting “Americans over 40″.

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Groupon Launches Its Own Food Delivery Business, Groupon To Go – Following its acquisition of food delivery service OrderUp earlier this month, Groupon is today announcing its own nationwide delivery and takeout service, Groupon To Go. The program is initially available in Chicago, where it has been in pilot testing with 500 restaurants since March, but the company says it will expand to other metro regions throughout the year, including Boston and Austin this fall. While there are now a number of on-demand food delivery businesses on the market, a big differentiator for Groupon’s service is that it claims it will save its customers up to 10 percent on every order.

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MasterCard and Samsung extend partnership in Europe for Samsung Pay – Samsung and MasterCard have been working together on Samsung Pay for about a year now. Last year MasterCard announced that it would provide tokenization services for Samsung Pay. These tokenization services allow for secure transactions and a fast connection to banks in the US. Samsung and MasterCard have now announced that they have extended their partnership in Europe.

Huawei is now the third largest vendor of phones, leaving Microsoft behind – Huawei is now the third largest vendor of smartphones if a report from Strategy Analytics is to be believed. The spot, previously held by Microsoft after its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, was taken by Huawei after strong sales of over 30 million devices in 2015, garnering it 7% of the total market. The company was, however, preceded by Samsung and Apple, as the largest and second largest, with 20.5% and 10.9% of the global marketshare, respectively.

AT&T refuses to pay $100 million FCC fine, suggests $16,000 max – AT&T was hit with a massive $100 million fine by the FCC several weeks ago in response to its throttling of unlimited data customers, but now the carrier is asking that decision to be reversed. Even if it cannot get the commission’s verdict set aside, it’s asking that the fine be capped at a much lower amount. What does AT&T think is reasonable? $16,000 max. So, that’s 0.016% of the original fine.

LinkedIn Beats Analyst Estimates With $712M In Q2 Revenue – LinkedIn’s earnings today beat analyst expectations in dramatic fashion, sending the stock up as much as 14 percent in extended trading after it released its second-quarter results. The company reported earnings of 55 cents per share and revenue of $712 million. Analysts estimated that the company would bring in 30 cents per share on $680.3 million in revenue.

Sony Posts $780M Profit On Strong PlayStation And Sensor Businesses – The Japanese firm posted quarterly revenue of $14.5 billion, down a mere 0.1 percent year-on-year. Back in February, the firm announced a major restructure with a focus on entertainment and its financial results reflected that. Sony said that increased business for its music division — which saw income jump 173 year-on-year to $256 million — devices business which sells camera sensors for smartphones — up 164 percent to $244 million — and games division — up 350 percent to $157 million — were the stellar performers.

Games and Entertainment:

Exploding Kittens, the most-funded game in Kickstarter history, is now shipping – Exploding Kittens holds the record for the most backers in Kickstarter history (219,382 — a record is still reportedly holds, at least according to whatkickstarterprojecthasthemostbackers.com). It’s also the #1 most funded game and #4 most funded project of all time with $8.78 million (just above Ouya and just below the original Pebble). The game was scheduled for release in July, and with just one day to go, Exploding Kittens is now shipping.

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Dying Light: The Following expansion pack brings dune buggies – Techland has taken the wraps off its upcoming expansion pack for Dying Light, and it is said to be a big one. Dying Light: The Following will bring with it dune buggies (image after the jump), as well as what are referred to as other “bold game-changers” by the developer. To get an idea of the size of the upcoming expansion, its producer Tymon Smektala said that the new map is as big as all of the game’s previous maps in one, meaning gamers are in for something huge.

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Blizzard teases new World of Warcraft expansion reveal on August 6 – The reveal is set to happen at Gamescom 2015, which runs between August 5-9. Blizzard has given us an exact date and time of August 6 at 9am PDT (noon EST). It forms part of a World of Warcraft special event that is being streamed live from the show in Germany. After that, a World of Warcraft developer chat is set to happen on August 9 at 8am PDT (11am EST) where there will be further discussion about the new expansion.

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Angry Birds 2 Review: riddled with potential and purchases – Today we’re having a peek at the next big release from Rovio, the game called Angry Birds 2. The name is a strange one, coming from a company that’s actually releasing its THIRTEENTH Angry Birds game this week, but it is a return to the basics… in a sense… anyway. No seasons here, no special characters or cross-brand relationships. Just Angry Birds and their popping of Pigs. And a whole lot of extras. Lots of extras. So many extra features that you’re going to get confused at what you’re looking at.

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Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360 – Sony has now sold 25.3 million PS4 since launch and is predicting 16.5 million will sell this financial year. That means by the end of March 2016 there will be 38.8 million of them in homes around the world. As you’d expect, Sony is seeing healthy income from its gaming products, with console, software, and peripheral purchases all contributing to the Game & Network Services division’s $2.365 billion sales total for the quarter. This will be helped further by that new model PS4 that’s cheaper to manufacture.

Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia – Titanfall, the hit mech-based first-person shooter originally released for Xbox and PC last year, is probably the last title you’d expect to go free-to-play, but that’s what’s happening. But don’t expect it to be showing up on your smartphone or tablet, where free-to-play games are a dime-a-dozen. Instead, Titanfall will be getting a special PC release just for the Asian market, where the free-to-play genre is huge, thanks to a partnership between the game’s makers and Japan’s Nexon.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Meet Aquila, Facebook’s unmanned Internet drone – At 140 feet, it has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but carries no passengers—and it’s much lighter too, weighing in at no more than 1,000 pounds. And within the next couple months, Facebook hopes to get its drone off the ground on an inaugural test flight. Named Aquila, the aircraft is the product of more than a year’s work at the social networking giant. Its function is not to drop retail items from the clouds like Amazon’s drones, but to provide Internet access to the hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it in under-served parts of the world. Facebook aims to partner with carriers and other companies to provide connectivity, potentially at a lower cost than typical infrastructure like cell phone towers.

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Smart Sniper Rifle Vulnerable to Hacks – Almost anything with an integrated computer can be hacked—including a smart sniper rifle. Married security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger spent a year hacking a pair of $13,000 TrackingPoint self-aiming rifles. During next week’s Black Hat convention in Las Vegas, the couple will show off techniques that allow an attacker to take control of the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection.

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Dashcam catches off-duty cop threatening to put ‘hole in head’ of driver – Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts driver makes a wrong turn. What happens next, all filmed on his dashcam, has led to an investigation. And yes, it’s now on YouTube.

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Man shoots down drone hovering over house – A Kentucky man thinks it unacceptable when a drone floats over his property. So he shoots it down. Then the drone’s owners come calling.

KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket – These days, fastfood chains are thinking up of unusual and sometimes bizarre marketing stunts to appeal to today’s mobile generation? Remember the Pizza Hut projector box in Hong Kong? Or how about KFC’s Bluetooth keyboard food tray? It seems that the latter is at it again. Its Canadian branch will soon be celebrating its 60th anniversary and to honor that memory, it is going to help their devoted customers make their own memories. How? By turning their boring chicken buckets into instant photo printing machine.

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Ask Cortana anything: Snarky answers to 59 burning questions – Cortana spits out funny responses on topics ranging from Siri to Surface to Steve Ballmer. She makes jokes and explains her Halo-inspired lineage. Here are 59 of the funniest answers we’ve found while goofing around. (Screenshots were taken from Windows Phone 8.1, rather than Windows 10, hence the stark interface.) And remember: Cortana may be one of the standout features of Windows 10, but before long she’ll spread her wings beyond Microsoft’s garden, landing in iOS and Android later this year.

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Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show – The original trio behind popular U.K. TV show Top Gear will be back sooner rather than later as they signed a deal with Amazon. Amazon Prime members in the U.K. will be able to stream the new car show starting in 2016. Prime members in the U.S., Japan, Austria and Germany should get the new show, too, as the company talks about a “global TV deal.”

Something to think about:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

–      Apple Inc.

Today’s Free Downloads:

RoboCrypt – RoboCrypt is an encrypted data backup application for Windows, combining the functionality of freely available utilities to backup data.

The application uses TrueCrypt, freely available to create and utilize encrypted backup files and/or volumes. The application also uses the available utilities from Microsoft (Robocopy, VShadow, and PowerShell) to allow you to backup data and optionally use Microsoft Volume Shadow Services for snapshot backups and PowerShell to send notification emails upon backup completion.

This program has been designed to work with Windows XP/Server 2003/Vista/7/8.x/Server 2008. A help file in PDF format is included to give more details on how the program works.

Below are some key features with RoboCrypt :

Uses TrueCrypt to create an encrypted file or volume backup destination

Uses Microsoft Robocopy with user control over the major data copy functions to backup data

Uses Microsoft VShadow to create Volume Shadow Services snapshots of data to allow for backup of open files (ie. servers)

Uses Microsoft PowerShell to create summary emails that can be sent to notify a system administrator of a completed backup

RoboCrypt can check current data size vs projected data backup size to warn users of data overflow to the encrypted destination

Right-clicking on a folder in Windows Explorer can allow a user to use the RoboCrypt One-Time Backup feature to backup data to a currently defined data set.  This is for a quick backup of critical data if there is not enough time for a full backup

Encryption of saved TrueCrypt passwords and email account username/passwords

File date/time modification functionality will allow the user to define files that should have the dates and times modified to the current date/time to force the file to be backed up with Robocopy

Ability to run a pre-process or post-process around the data backup

Ability to verify backed up data using CRC32, MD5, or SHA-1 methods

Windows Task Scheduler can be used to schedule an automated backup of a system daily, weekly, etc.

Command-line options allow custom icons to be created for automated backups with RoboCrypt.  Command-line options are explained in the included help file.

Multiple language support included by copying and modifying the included English.rlf file (standard text file)

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Germany orders Facebook to let users choose fake names – Facebook’s policy of forcing users to use their real names on the social network has been under fire for some time now from privacy advocates and those in the LGBT community who feel discriminated against. But now a privacy watchdog in Germany has said that is unacceptable in the country, and ordered Facebook to begin allowing users under pseudonyms. The Hamburg data protection authority ruled that the network’s real name policy is in violation of Germany’s privacy laws.

GAO To Congress: Revisit Privacy Concerns Over Facial Recognition Technology – Today, Senator Al Franken announced a new report by the GAO on the use of facial recognition technology. Franken has been on the side of looking into the privacy implications on that type of tech and says today that the report shows that there needs to be a set of federal standards in place before widely adopted.

Franken said in a release:

Over the past several years, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the use of facial recognition technologies, and it has profound implications for consumer privacy. Facial recognition tracks you in the real world—from cameras stationed on street corners and in shopping centers, and through photographs taken by friends and strangers alike. Last year, I asked the government’s independent investigative agency to examine the privacy implications of the commercial use of facial recognition technology.

The newly released report raises serious concerns about how companies are collecting, using, and storing our most sensitive personal information. I believe that all Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, which is why it’s important that, at the very least, the tech industry adopts strong, industry-wide standards for facial recognition technology. But what we really need are federal standards that address facial recognition privacy by enhancing our consumer privacy framework.

Companies like Facebook and Google use face-recognition technology to tag you in photos, for example, but as you could imagine, this technology could be used for nefarious things if it’s in the wrong hands (like The Terminator, with the wrong intentions). This unofficial Glass app was an example of something that got Franken and others riled up.

After publishing secret spy docs, German news site investigated for treason – A well-known German political and tech news website has received (English translation here) a nearly unprecedented letter from the German Federal Public Prosecutor, saying that two of the site’s top editors are being investigated for treason after having published secret government documents earlier this year.

Netzpolitik.org’s two earlier articles (one in February and another in April) detailed the proposed surveillance expansion of social networks by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an intelligence agency.

“We don’t know if we should cry or not,” Markus Beckedahl, the site’s editor-in-chief, told Ars from Berlin. He was specifically named as one of the targets of the investigation, along with Andre Meister, another top editor. A third target, named “Unknown,” was also mentioned in the letter.

Opponents focus on defeating CISA cyberthreat info-sharing bill – Opponents of a U.S. Senate bill intended to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats may have stalled a vote on the legislation. Recent news reports had Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing for a vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) before a four-week summer recess starting Aug. 10, but a spokesman for the Kentucky Republican said Thursday there were no immediate plans for a vote. CISA would give businesses immunity from customer lawsuits when they share information about cyberthreats with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but opponents of the legislation say it would allow businesses to share personal information about customers. DHS could then pass that personal information on to the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, critics say.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 29, 2015

Windows 10 begins its rollout to 190 countries;  Your Complete Guide to Microsoft Windows 10 ;  Windows 10: Nine things you need to know;  3 tips for a hassle-free Windows 10 upgrade;  Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks;  10 things Windows 10 does better than Windows 8;  The Best FREE Antivirus for 2015;  How to lock and unlock your USB ports;  How to really delete a file in Windows;  How to recycle your phone for cash;  Microsoft sinks in antivirus tests, as Avira, Bitdefender hit top scores;  Play GTA V (and anything else) in your browser thanks to Windows tool;   Most Android phones at risk from simple text hack;  PS4 gets a mini keyboard and mouse this November;  Critical vulnerability in Apple App Store, iTunes revealed;  How to lock and unlock your USB ports;  12 Ways Tech Can Land You in Jail… Or Worse.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10 begins its rollout to 190 countries – The day has finally arrived. Microsoft has opened the floodgates and started the ball rolling to bring Windows 10 to desktops, laptops, and tablets everywhere. And by everywhere, we mean a whopping 190 countries. Naturally, Microsoft is in a very celebratory mood, though some might think it’s a bit too early to party. Nonetheless, there is no stopping the latest version of Windows from making or breaking the company’s legacy, setting its tone for the next 10 years or so as Microsoft navigates the waters of a mobile-centric world.

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Your Complete Guide to Microsoft Windows 10 – Microsoft is rolling out Windows 10 beginning at 12 a.m. ET Wednesday morning. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Windows operating system before installing it.

Windows 10: Nine things you need to know – Have burning questions about Microsoft’s operating system? Here are some answers.

3 tips for a hassle-free Windows 10 upgrade – If you’ve got a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC, you’re eligible for a free upgrade, and there’s a lot to love about Windows 10, from new features to under-the-hood tweaks to a much-needed interface revamp. Before you upgrade, however, there some things you can do to make your migration to the next chapter in Windows history as seamless as possible.

8 Windows 10 settings you should change right away – Before you do anything else, change these Windows 10 settings!

10 things Windows 10 does better than Windows 8 – Fixing the Start menu is just the beginning. Windows 10 brings many other good changes, and we show you the best ones here.

Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Windows 10, Microsoft’s back-to-basics re-embracing of the PC, is already brimming with handy new features, and with all the new goodies comes with a legion of new tweaks and tricks—some of which unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Here are some of the most useful Windows 10 tweaks, tricks, and tips we’ve found.

Walmart selling $100 tablet with free Windows 10 upgrade – Windows 10 is the next big thing, and those wanting to try it on a small tablet should check out the Nextbook Flexx 8 for $99.99 at Walmart.

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Download: Windows 10 ISOs – If you need to download Windows 10 ISOs, Microsoft has now opened up the download page and you can find the download links after the jump so that you can begin installing the OS.

Windows 10 alternatives that won’t disappoint – This gallery highlights various OSs that are, for most users, adequate replacements for Windows 10. Many of the options featured here can be used in VirtualBox, if you prefer to give it a spin without dual-booting or formatting your system.

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Google’s Chrome OS

How to lock and unlock your USB ports – External flash and hard drives can be used to deliver malware or steal sensitive files. Here’s how to control who can use them.

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Amazon Prime Music Arrives in the U.K. – More than a year after launching in the U.S., the streaming service is expanding to Britain, where members can access tens of thousands of albums from chart toppers to classic artists.

Next-gen Android One phone launches in India for $176 – The Lava Pixel V1 offers a solid value for the price, combining mid-range hardware with the latest Android software updates from Google.

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Meet the $329 Phone Everyone’s Been Waiting For – OnePlus, a rising smartphone star in China, released a new, top-of-the-line product this morning. It’s a smartphone called the OnePlus 2—an admittedly clever bit of mathematical marketing—and it’s billed as the “2016 Flagship Killer.” Translation: Dear Samsung, Apple, Lenovo, Huawei, and LG: We’re comin’ for ya.

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How to really delete a file in Windows – On modern PCs, a file doesn’t actually go away when you hit the Delete key. The bits on your storage drive that represent that file simply get flipped to a hidden state, and they’re tagged to be written over by other bits later. This requires less time and processing power than scrubbing every deleted file off your hard drive. Gradually, bits from other files overlap the old file and eliminate it. This process could take seconds or weeks, depending on how much you use your drive and what kinds of files you’re putting on it. While Windows doesn’t have a built-in utility to truly delete a file, there are several free third-party tools.

How to recycle your phone for cash – Even if you’re not in the market for a new device, owners of ancient, cracked, and broken electronics that won’t even turn on can still cash in on this promise of recompense. Here are some practical tips about the different ways you can convert your phone into at least a little bit of cash — pointers that typically apply to big-ticket electronics, too, like digital cameras and laptops.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands. The part of the phrase in [brackets] can be replaced with any similar term you choose. If Google Now doesn’t get your spoken commands right, you can correct it by saying “No, I said…” and trying the phrase again.

Security:

Most Android phones at risk from simple text hack, researcher says – The flaw, says researcher Zimperium, exists in the media playback tool built into Android, called Stagefright. Malicious hackers could take advantage of it by sending to an Android device a simple text message that, once received by the smartphone, would give them complete control over the handset and allow them to steal anything on it, such as credit card numbers or personal information.

Google pledges a speedy Stagefright security fix for Nexus devices – That still leaves the vast majority of the Android ecosystem unprotected unless the carriers and manufacturers apply Google’s fix.

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Critical vulnerability in Apple App Store, iTunes revealed – A critical flaw has been discovered in Apple’s App Store and iTunes invoice system which could result in session hijacking and malicious invoice manipulation. Revealed this week by security researcher Benjamin Kunz Mejri from Vulnerability Lab, the persistent injection flaw, deemed critical, is an application-side input validation web vulnerability. In an advisory, the researcher said the vulnerability allows remote attackers to inject malicious script codes into flawed content function and service modules.

The Best Free Antivirus for 2015 – Cybercriminals want your money, just like any other criminals. Installing free antivirus software lets you lock out the bad guys without paying a cent.

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Microsoft sinks in antivirus tests, as Avira, Bitdefender hit top scores – The latest antivirus scores from the Madgeburg, Germany-based testing lab AV-Test ranks Windows Defender as the worst-performing anti-malware app out of the 22 most common consumer products tested. Windows Defender, baked into the latest versions of Windows, scored just 9.5 points out of a total of 18.

How to disable Windows 10’s Wi-Fi Sense password sharing – Windows 10’s new Wi-Fi Sense feature is a powerful tool that takes the headache out of managing Wi-Fi connections on the run. With Wi-Fi Sense enabled, Windows 10 will automatically sign you into open Wi-Fi networks, as well as private networks that your Outlook.com, Skype, and Facebook contacts have logged into—so you won’t have to manually sign into the network when you visit your buddy’s house. As convenient as Wi-Fi Sense is, however, not everyone’s thrilled with it. Windows 10 enables Wi-Fi Sense by default, but you can disable it. Here’s how.

Company News:

Intel, Micron debut 3D XPoint storage technology that’s 1,000 times faster than current SSDs – Intel and Micron today unveiled their all-new memory technology called 3D XPoint (pronounced “cross-point”). This is a new class of memory that can be used both as system memory as well as nonvolatile storage. In other words, 3D XPoint can be used to replace both a computer’s RAM and its solid-state drive (SSD). The companies claim that 3D XPoint is a major breakthrough in memory process technology, the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989. It’s said to be extremely fast and durable, up to a thousand times faster (both in read and write speeds), and it will have higher endurance than existing NAND Flash memory currently being used in SSDs.

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Razer Buys Android-Based Game Console Maker Ouya – Razer purchased Ouya’s software assets, including its content catalog and online retail platform. As part of the deal, Ouya’s technical team and developer relations personnel will be joining Razer. Financial terms of the deal, which closed on June 12, were not disclosed. The acquisition does not include Ouya’s hardware business.

Twitter’s user growth skids to a stop – Twitter has been a slow-growth company for a while. The company on Tuesday warned investors that it’s essentially a no-growth company. “We do not expect to see sustained meaningful growth in [monthly active users] until we start to reach the mass market,” Twitter CFO Anthony Noto told analysts during the company’s second quarter conference call. “We expect that will take a considerable period of time.” Shares plunged more than 11 percent in after-hours trading.

Nokia jumps into virtual reality market with 360-degree Ozo camera – Nokia Technologies plans to return to the consumer market, focusing on virtual reality rather than the cell phones that made it famous. The Finnish company — what was left of the former cell phone giant after Microsoft bought its handset division last year — on Tuesday night unveiled Ozo, a next-generation camera for capturing 360-degree video and audio. Unveiled at an entertainment industry event in Los Angeles, the orb-shaped camera is designed for professional content creators rather than consumers.

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GoDaddy launches in Australia to target small businesses – After using Australia as a pilot market, GoDaddy has formally launched locally and has appointed Tara Commerford as the Australia and New Zealand country manager.

LinkedIn brings back simple, instant contact exports following user outrage – After dabbling with something new and far slower, LinkedIn is once again making it easy to grab a list of your contacts from the social network. This weekend, the company said it is reverting to its previous contact download process, which delivers all the data in CSV format. LinkedIn says it decided to go back to its old ways following user outrage over a new system that took 24 to 72 hours to prepare a download.

Games and Entertainment:

Play GTA V (and anything else) in your browser thanks to Windows tool – If your laptop doesn’t have the muscle to run a game like GTA V at anything approaching acceptable levels of quality, you might not need any beefy hardware in the first place. The developer of an app called Instant Webcam has adapted the underlying tools to make it possible to stream a game to any web browser, and it works “way better than it should.” The program is called jsmpeg-vnc, and it’s available for free and it’s open source.

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Final ‘CoD: Advanced Warfare’ DLC Arrives Aug. 4 – The fourth and final add-on pack for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Reckoning, arrives Aug. 4 on Xbox, with other platforms to follow. The DLC features new maps with the Exo Grapple mechanic for fast-paced multiplayer combat. The intense charts lead players from New Baghdad to South Korea in four very different scenarios:

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King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember review: An old classic gets a terrific new start – It’s a little friendlier and a lot more talkative than the King’s Quest games of yore, but this is an excellent sequel to/re-imagining of a long-dormant classic.

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The Witcher 3’s final free DLC is a New Game Plus mode – Already put 100+ hours into The Witcher 3? Tracked down every question mark on the map, looted every barrel, completed every Witcher Contract? What’s a monster-slayer to do when everything’s already been done? Wipe the map clean and start it all over again, obviously. CD Projekt Red confirmed today that The Witcher 3’s final piece of free DLC will be a New Game Plus (NG+) mode.

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PS4 gets a mini keyboard and mouse this November – Which input method is superior for gaming? If you’re talking about first-person shooters, then the answer is an obvious one: keyboard and mouse wins. I’m sure some gamers out there will argue against that, but the accuracy offered by this combination can’t be matched by thumbsticks on a typical console controller. Now PS4 (and PS3) owners will have the opportunity to experience such control because they are getting the option of a keyboard and mouse setup from Hori. It’s called the Tactical Assault Commander, and consists of a mini keyboard and mouse configuration.

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40 Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in August – If you have doubts about the constant rotation of titles, check out the blog What’s On Netflix Now? which is doing a great job of tracking not only the movies and shows Netflix says are going, but the ones that disappear without warning. (Yes, that means more than 40 are probably leaving the service in August. C’mon, Netflix. Not cool.) This coming month, say good-bye to several Bruce Willis classics.

Off Topic (Sort of):

12 Ways Tech Can Land You in Jail… Or Worse – When we unbox a new gadget or download an app, we often hastily discard or dismiss the accompanying pages of dry documentation and fine print. But those pages may come back to haunt us as a lawsuit if they’re not properly heeded. Here are a few examples of how tweeting, jailbreaking, and even getting spam can put people on a precarious legal ledge that in some cases may cost them their lives.

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Facebook shares its diversity training course with all – Facebook on Tuesday launched a new page called “Managing Unconscious Bias,” which features a training course and several informational videos aimed at improving diversity in the workplace. The training course, which was developed by Facebook, educates would-be employers and job-seekers on the realities of bias in the hiring process. The training was previously provided to Facebook employees.

Nike’s developing an ice hat to keep your head cool – Feel too hot after your summer runs but don’t like pouring water on your head? Nike’s developing an alternative, a yet-unnamed ice hat of sorts that will chill your head more effectively, and without the mess. It’s more of a shrouded helmet than a hat, featuring a large hood-like component with a neck piece and face mesh. It is being developed in conjunction with Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton, and its design goal is to reduce an athlete’s overall body temperature by rapidly cooling down one’s head.

The Distiller App: A Portal to the World of Whiskey – Summertime is here, which means a slower pace of life, less stress and more time for the things we enjoy. Since I enjoy fine whiskey and technology, I came across an appropriate blend (pun intended) of the two in the form of a free mobile app called “Distiller.”

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Image: Distiller

A Visual History of Microsoft Windows – Whether you fiddled with MS DOS in the early days or only just snagged a Windows 8 laptop for the school year, most modern PC users have experienced Windows in one way or another. Before you grab your free Windows 10 update on Wednesday, take a trip down memory lane, and remember what your Windows desktop used to look like.

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E-ink traffic signs debut in Australia – The same technology used on the display of your Amazon Kindle is now appearing in traffic signs in Sydney, Australia. While e-ink may not have the same visual punch as the OLED display on a smartphone, the technology is great for its low power consumption and easy visibility in various lighting conditions. That’s probably the exact reason the Australian Road and Maritime Services (RMS) has gone with e-ink in traffic signs used for special events, which need to be updated frequently and easily seen by drivers.

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Musk, Woz: Let’s Hold Off on the Killer Robots – Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and professor Stephen Hawking are among the 1,000-plus artificial intelligence and robotics researchers who endorsed an open letter warning against the technology. While autonomous weapons make the front line safer for soldiers, they may also lower the threshold for going to battle, and likely result in more human casualties, according to the FLI. “The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting,” the letter said.

Something to think about:

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.”

–     H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Today’s Free Downloads:

PortExpert: CyberSecurity at your finger tips – PortExpert gives you a detailed vision of your personnal computer cybersecurity. It automatically monitors all applications connected to the Internet and give you all the information you might need to identify potential threats to your system.

Features:

Monitor of application using TCP/UDP communications

User-friendly interface

Identifies remote servers (WhoIs service)

Allows to open containing folder of any applications

Allow to easily search for more info online

Automatic identification of related service : FTP, HTTP, HTTPS,…

Capability to show/hide system level processes

Capability to show/hide loopbacks

Time freeze function

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Avast. The world’s #1 antivirus – With more than 230 million users, Avast is the most trusted security & antivirus in the world. You are now just a few clicks away from protecting your PC for free.

Only Avast has Home Network Security – For the first time ever, you can protect your home network devices, such as routers and wireless devices, from hacker attacks.

More exciting features:

Avast Browser Cleanup – Remove annoying browser toolbars or extensions, and restore your hijacked search browser.

Avast Software Updater – Easily update your important software to increase the overall security and condition of your PC.

Avast Remote Assistance – Remote Assistance lets you help or be helped over the Internet.

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is a tool designed help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including; registry errors, file permissions, issues with Internet Explorer, Windows Updates, Windows Firewall and more. Malware and poorly installed programs can modify your default settings resulting in your machine working badly – or worse. With Tweaking.com Windows Repair you can restore Windows original settings fixing many of these problems outright.

Tweaking.com – Windows Repairs section as always been completely free for both personal and business use. We offer a Pro version. adds features like automatic updates, an enhanced drive cleaner, memory cleaner, speed tweaks and more. This allows you to support future development and get something in return!

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including:

Unhide Non System Files

Repair problems with .lnk (Shortcuts)

File Association

WMI

Windows Firewall

Internet Explorer

Windows Installer (MSI)

Hosts File

Policies Set By Infections

Icons

Winsock & DNS Cache

Proxy Settings

Windows Updates

CD/DVD Missing/Not Working

Reset Registry and File Permissions

Register System Files

Remove Temp Files

and more…

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Activists Flood Congress With Faxes to Protest Cybersecurity Bill – Internet activists opposed to a controversial cybersecurity bill are trying to get Congress’ attention the old-fashioned way: by flooding its fax machines.

The nonprofit group Fight For the Future has set up eight phone lines to convert emails and tweets protesting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) into faxes that will be sent to all 100 U.S. senators. Supporters can fax their own messages via FaxBigBrother.com or with the hashtag #faxbigbrother.

NSA will lose access to ‘historical’ phone surveillence data Nov. 29 – The U.S. National Security Agency will lose access to the bulk telephone records data it has collected at the end of November, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced Monday.

Congress voted in June to rein in the NSAs mass collection of U.S. phone metadata, which includes information such as the timing and location of calls. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court then gave the NSA 180 days to wind the program down.

The Director of National Intelligence had been evaluating whether the NSA should maintain access to the historical data it collected after that 180 days is up. It’s now determined that access to that data will cease on Nov. 29.

After that date, the NSA must receive approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA Court, to request the data from phone companies on a case-by-case basis.

Even former heads of NSA, DHS think crypto backdoors are stupid – Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security and a former federal prosecutor, made some surprising remarks last week, coming out strongly against cryptographic backdoors that could be provided to the government upon request.

“I think that it’s a mistake to require companies that are making hardware and software to build a duplicate key or a back door even if you hedge it with the notion that there’s going to be a court order,” he said to the crowd at the Aspen Security Forum.

Obama won’t pardon Snowden, despite petition – U.S. President Barack Obama won’t pardon National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, despite strong public support for it, the White House said Tuesday.

A petition on WhiteHouse.gov calling for Obama to pardon Snowden has nearly 168,000 signatures, but that’s not enough to sway the president, said Lisa Monaco, Obama’s advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism.

Obama has pushed for surveillance reforms “since taking office,” Monaco wrote on the WhiteHouse.gov petition site. “Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” she added.

Monaco’s response to the petition doesn’t mention that nearly all of the surveillance reforms endorsed by the Obama administration were proposed after Snowden began leaking information about NSA surveillance programs in mid-2013.

Groups urge Obama to oppose cyberthreat sharing bills – U.S. President Barack Obama should oppose legislation intended to let businesses share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies because the bill would allow the sharing of too much personal information, a coalition of digital rights groups and security experts said.

The coalition of 39 digital rights and privacy groups and 29 security experts urged Obama to threaten to veto the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a bill that may come to the Senate floor for a vote by early August. CISA would protect from customer lawsuits those businesses that share cyberthreat information.

“CISA fails to protect users’ personal information,” the coalition said in a letter to Obama, sent Monday. “It allows vast amounts of personal data to be shared with the government, even that which is not necessary to identify or respond to a cybersecurity threat.”

The groups compared CISA to the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a cyberthreat sharing bill that the House of Representatives approved in 2013. CISPA failed to become law after Obama threatened to veto it.

Backers of CISA and similar bills say the sharing of cyberthreat information is necessary for businesses and government agencies to respond to ongoing attacks.

WordPress on national security demands: “We wish we could tell you more” – The company behind popular web blogging software WordPress said it has not received a single national security order in two years, according to its latest transparency report.

That’s a decline from the demands it received in the second half of 2013, which Automattic confirmed it received between zero and 249 demands.

The software maker was critical of the government’s rules it was obliged to follow when reporting its figures. Following the Edward Snowden leaks, the Justice Dept. allowed companies to disclose how many national security requests — including gag orders and warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — as a show of good faith. But companies are still obliged to report in numerical ranges, which the software maker — and other firms — have criticized.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 24, 2015

Top 5 security practices in staying safe online: From the experts;  Google patches 43 security flaws in latest Chrome update;  9 fantastic Facebook tips for Android and iOS users;  Media streamer buyers guide: Amazon Fire TV,  Apple’s App Store has 100 apps and games on sale;  Apple TV, Chromecast, Nvidia Shield Android TV & Roku compared;  Windows 10: your questions answered;   PC sticks: Have Windows, will travel;  Make Chrome and Firefox faster with just one click;   Get more from YouTube with the help of these five apps;  Dmail Makes Your Gmail Messages Self-Destruct;  How to create blur-free video on the iPhone;  Google patches 43 security flaws in latest Chrome update;  Advanced spyware for Android now available to script kiddies;  10 free resources to help you learn to code;  CoD Black Ops multiplayer beta coming to Xbox One, PC 26 Aug;  Ashley Madison’s data breach is everyone’s problem;  Watch 112 years of movie aliens in just over three minutes;  Your music taste might reveal how your brain works.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Top 5 security practices in staying safe online: From the experts – Cyberattacks are on the rise and they range from phishing and scams on social media to high-profile assaults against companies. For the average consumer, knowing where to turn and how to keep your digital identity safe can be a minefield of solutions. But what do you truly need to know? In a recent Google research paper, security professionals were asked what the top five ways to stay safe online are, and these are the tips they offered.

Make Chrome and Firefox faster with just one click – If you’re anything like me, you keep a lot of browser tabs open. And unless your PC is a serious powerhouse, that can choke performance across the whole system. The obvious solution? Close some tabs. But that’s no good for me, because I often keep pages open that I need to refer to later in the day. Bookmark them instead? That’s a hassle, and ultimately unnecessary because I don’t need those pages after I’m done with them. The better solution: OneTab. Available for Chrome and Firefox, this extension performs one simple — but essential — task: It shoehorns all your open tabs into a single tab, thereby vastly reducing the amount of memory consumed by the browser.

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Don’t run Chrome or Firefox without OneTab. Seriously. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Media streamer buyers guide: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Nvidia Shield Android TV & Roku compared – Shopping for media-streaming hardware? You’ve come to the right place. This is the definitive guide to choosing precisely the right model for your unique needs.

Apple’s App Store has 100 apps and games on sale – If you’re anything like us, you already have way too many apps on your phone, but that isn’t stopping you from trying new ones. That can get very expensive very quickly, unless it just so happens that the App Store has a “100 Apps and Games” promotion, in which every single app and game on offer is $0.99. But really, when does that ever happen? In case you didn’t get that, the answer is: Right Now. You can get top-rated games like Badland, The Room Two, all the various versions of Angry Birds and Goat Simulator(!), as well as good photo apps like Pixelmator and Faded, all for under $1. We’re not sure how long this promotion is on for, so you might want to act fast.

9 fantastic Facebook tips for Android and iOS users – The Facebook app for Android and iOS has some nifty—and powerful—features up its sleeves. Pick and choose which friends appear in your news feed, save links to interesting articles, post updates without an Internet connection, and more.

PC sticks: Have Windows, will travel – PC sticks are popping up all over. These are tiny devices that are full PCs that can be plugged into any TV or monitor and used securely. We’ve rounded up a few of the top ones for consideration.

Dmail Makes Your Gmail Messages Self-Destruct – Have you ever regretted sending an email, and wished you could take it back? Or maybe you’ve worried about sending confidential information over email – especially after seeing the damage a large-scale email hack can cause, like the one that hit Sony Pictures last year? A new “self-destructing” email service called Dmail aims to eliminate these concerns with the introduction of tool that allows you to better control the messages that are sent over Gmail. With Dmail, you can revoke access to any email at any time, and, in a release arriving soon, you’ll be able to stop recipients from forwarding your message to others, too.

Screenshots: Get more from YouTube with the help of these five apps – As great as YouTube is on its own, however, there are plenty of apps out there that make it even better. Most of the YouTube-oriented apps that are available today are simple downloaders, but there are some other types of apps that provide more unique functionality. This article discusses five such apps.

Apple Just Made Another iOS 9 Beta Available To Anyone – The company has just released iOS 9 Public Beta 2. So what’s new in v2? Bug fixes, mostly. Speed enhancements, too. The most significant “new” thing, though, is the return of Home Sharing — a feature that lets you stream music from your desktop Mac to your iPod/iPhone/iPod over your local network. This feature was quietly dropped in iOS 8.4, but is back in this build. If you’re already in the Public Beta program, just pop into your settings and hit the update button. It should grab the latest build over the air.

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Hello post-PC world: iOS devices sales now match those of Windows computers – As demand for Windows PCs has stagnated, sales of iOS devices have risen; matching sales figures for computers running Microsoft software.

Tips to Get the Most Out of Windows 10’s New Photo App – When Windows 8 launched, it included a Photos app that opened your images by default. The only problem: It could hardly do anything with them. Windows 10 rights a lot of Windows 8’s wrongs, and the Photos app is one noteworthy example. The new Photos app includes image correction and enhancement, as well as organization capabilities. It’s much closer to something like Mac OS X’s Photos app than to Paint. Let’s take a closer look at this capable new part of Windows 10’s toolkit.

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The only remaining barrier to entry for Linux – The Linux that we see now is not the Linux we knew years ago. Linux is just as user friendly as any platform on the market. The biggest difference is that it’s simply not in the eyes of consumers. The ability to purchase a computer preinstalled with an operating system, in and of itself, makes that operating system accessible and useable to the consumer. That’s the only remaining barrier to entry for Linux, and there are plenty of companies set to tear down the walls, preventing the average user from enjoying the reliability, security, and power that is Linux.

How to install Linux on a PC with Secure Boot enabled – Installing Linux isn’t as easy as it used to be, thanks to the Secure Boot requirements enforced by recent versions of Windows.

Pro tip: How to create blur-free video on the iPhone – The iPhone is great at capturing still images and video without lots of moving objects. However, the iPhone’s autofocus will attempt to correctly focus on moving subjects, and it will sometimes focus on the wrong object, causing the video to be out of focus. Sure, you can tap to refocus on the object you want, but once the object moves again, the video or photo will be out of focus again. Let’s take a look at how to use AE/AF Lock feature of the Camera app to lock the focus to a particular subject in your photos and videos, which will keep the exposure and focus correctly set during the entire capturing process.

Meerkat can now livestream video from a GoPro – Today, Meerkat announced that users will be able to livestream videos from their GoPro’s to the apps livestreaming service. Although Meerkat has traditionally been restricted to mobile devices running Android or iOS, Meerkat made the announcement today that the the app will now be able to stream directly from some GoPro cameras. Not all GoPro’s will be supported and the service will initially only be available on the ‘GoPro 3′. In a later update, ‘GoPro 4′ owners will be able to livestream videos to Meerkat.

Windows 10: your questions answered – Find out what’s happening with Media Center, compatibility, dual-booting, XP Mode, and more

Microsoft releases another update for Windows 10 build 10240 – Microsoft has rolled out another update for Windows 10 build 10240, its fourth since that build – which is effectively the ‘RTM’ release of the OS – made its way to Insiders last week.

10 open source storage solutions that might be perfect for your company – The right storage solution is critical for business, but the price tag can put many options out of reach. Luckily, there’s a host of powerful, scalable open source candidates to choose from.

Security:

Advanced spyware for Android now available to script kiddies everywhere – The Android surveillance suite works like a “cluster bomb” that combines multiple attack tools, including the two exploits described above, low-level coding that greatly expands the type of data attackers can gather from infected phones, a higher-level APK installer package, and a command-and-control server infrastructure infected devices can connect to. Once a phone is infected, it may need its firmware to be reflashed to have the backdoor removed.

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Fully patched Internet Explorer for smartphones menaced by whopping 4 code-execution bugs – Researchers at an HP security division have publicly detailed four code-execution vulnerabilities that can be used to hijack end-user smartphones running the latest versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. The disclosures earlier this week came more than six months after researchers from HP-owned TippingPoint first privately reported the bugs to Microsoft security engineers. According to the advisories published here, here, here, and here, Microsoft officials acknowledged the bugs and in each case asked for an extension beyond the four months TippingPoint officials normally wait before publicly disclosing vulnerabilities. All four of the extensions expired Sunday, leading to the public disclosure of the bugs. It remains unclear why Microsoft hasn’t issued fixes.

Google patches 43 security flaws in latest Chrome update – Google has patched 43 security problems, many of them deemed critical, in the latest update to the Chrome browser. On Wednesday, Google pushed Chrome 44 for Windows, Mac and Linux to the stable channel and for public release. As part of the Chrome 44.0.2403.89 update, 43 bugs have been fixed, with many of the bugs submitted by external researchers.

Previous release of Google Chrome had a whooping mix of 43 security flaws.

There, fixed the headline for you.

Bug in latest version of OS X gives attackers unfettered root privileges – The privilege-escalation bug, which was reported in a blog post published Tuesday by security researcher Stefan Esser, is the type of security hole attackers regularly exploit to bypass security protections built into modern operating systems and applications. Hacking Team, the Italian malware-as-a-service provider that catered to governments around the world, recently exploited similar elevation-of-privileges bugs in Microsoft Windows. When combined with a zero-day exploit targeting Adobe’s Flash media player, Hacking Team was able to pierce security protections built into Google Chrome, widely regarded as the Internet’s most secure browser by default.

All WordPress users urged to update after critical flaw found – The latest version of the software, a security update, is WordPress 4.2.3.

Ashley Madison’s data breach is everyone’s problem – Collecting and retaining user data is the norm in modern web businesses, and while it’s usually invisible, the result for Ashley Madison has been catastrophic. In hindsight, we can point to data that should have been anonymized or connections that should have been less accessible, but the biggest problem is deeper and more universal. If services want to offer genuine privacy, they have to break away from those practices, interrogating every element of their service as a potential security problem. Ashley Madison didn’t do that. The service was engineered and arranged like dozens of other modern web sites — and by following those rules, the company made a breach like this inevitable.

Microsoft Targets Revenge Porn With Link Removal Form – Falling in step with various recent industry moves, Microsoft has set up a formal process for removing links to so-called ‘revenge porn’ from its Bing search engine, allowing victims to notify it via a dedicated web form to have access to the content cut off.

Court rules that ‘pocket-dialed’ calls aren’t private – A federal appeals court in Ohio has ruled that a person who accidentally “pocket dials” someone shouldn’t expect any overheard conversation to be considered private.

Company News:

Amazon Spikes 14% After It Reports Surprise Q2 Profit Of $92M, Better-Than-Expected Revenue Of $23.18B – Following the cessation of regular trading today, Amazon announced that it earned $0.19 per share in its second quarter, on revenue of $23.18 billion. The street had expected Amazon to lose $0.14 per share on revenue of $22.39 billion. Following its earnings smash, Amazon is up more than 14 percent after-hours. The company shed more than one percent of its value in regular trading, amid a negative market day. Amazon had estimated that it would have revenue of $20.6 billion to $22.8 billion during the three-month cycle. Quite obviously, Amazon rocked the quarter.

Amazon launches Prime members credit card with 5% cash back – The card itself has no annual fee, but you must remain a Prime member to use it. So there’s sort of an associated fee, but you get a lot more for your $99. Plenty of people pay for Prime even without this store card. The purchase APR is also quite high (25.99%), as is the case with most store cards. Amazon will probably target younger consumers who don’t have the credit history to get favorable traditional credit cards.

Blackberry delves deeper into security with AtHoc purchase – BlackBerry continues to shift its focus from selling mobile phones to securing them—as well as other portable devices, and increasingly connected items that are part of the Internet of things. BlackBerry still sells handsets, but, to judge from the day’s presentations, it clearly sees a brighter future now in enterprise mobile security, where it can best leverage its remaining strengths in the market.

Sony to launch Aerosense drone company with ZMP – With some of their core businesses not doing well, you’d think Sony would want to hunker down and focus its resources on getting those in tip-top shape first. Instead, the Japanese tech giant is spreading its wings, almost literally. Now it is getting into the unmanned aerial vehicles or UAV, more popularly known as drones. In fact, it is partnering with old friend ZMP to start a new company named “Aerosense, Inc.”, to be incorporated in August, to develop and launch the ultimate spy drones.

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Uber facing class action lawsuit in Toronto – Uber is facing a class action lawsuit in Toronto where taxi drivers are seeking both an injunction against the ridesharing service in Ontario and in excess of $400 million CAD in damages. As in other regions, the drivers are pointing toward local regulations and claim Uber is providing illegal transportation on a mass scale. Uber, as expected, has already denounced the claims, but at this point it is still a waiting game to see if a judge will agree to hear the case.

Uber and NYC shake hands and make peace, for now – After a fierce public battle between Uber and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the two sides announced Wednesday that they’ve come to a mutual agreement. De Blasio agreed to temporarily table a bill he proposed, which would limit Uber’s growth. And Uber agreed to provide the city with previously undisclosed data for a comprehensive traffic study. Both sides appear to be content with the deal.

Xiaomi partners with Uber for hand-delivered phones – Uber has partnered with the smart device company Xiaomi to deliver their newest smartphone to new users. Ordering this new device, the Xiaomi Mi Note, will have the same process as ordering an Uber vehicle for pickup. Inside the Uber app, users will tap the “Xiaomi” button and proceed with ordering the new smartphone. Once they’ve ordered the phone successfully, the phone will be delivered to the user “within a few minutes.” This partnership will be paired with an early launch of the phone for Uber customers exclusively.

Sling gets sued over Slingbox desktop ads – The maker of Slingbox and SlingPlayer is facing a lawsuit after inserting advertisements into its desktop software. The lawsuit accuses Sling Media of a “bait and switch,” as customers Mark Heskiaoff and Marc Langenohl purchased their Slingboxes under the impression that the software was ad-free. They’re currently seeking class action status for the lawsuit, filed last week according to Zatz Not Funny.

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Google is giving free patents to startups to fight patent trolls – Google is becoming the Professor Oak of the startup world. It’s planning to give some small companies a pair of starter patents to help them out when it comes to getting off the ground and defending their intellectual property. Google doesn’t appear to be making money off of the program, but it does have an end goal: as a condition of the program, companies receiving Google’s patents will have to join a patent licensing network that’s meant to help Silicon Valley defend against patent trolls — companies that sue over patent infringement without actually making any products. Google says that encouraging smaller companies to get on board with the program “is just something that we think makes great sense.”

Games and Entertainment:

CoD Black Ops multiplayer beta coming to Xbox One, PC 26 Aug – If you’ve been dying to try out the upcoming Call of Duty’s new multiplayer mode but don’t have a PlayStation 4 console, you may not breathe a sigh of relief. As long as you have an Xbox One or at least a PC, that is. Activision has just revealed the schedule of the open beta of Black Ops’ multiplayer mode across all supported platforms. While PS4 gamers will indeed get to taste it earlier, other gamers won’t be far behind, following just seven days later.

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Google Play sale gets you Monument Valley, Hitman Go, and more for cheap – Some of the best games on Android are now really cheap. Google has just launched a summer sale in the Play store, and the deals include some classic mobile titles, including games like Monument Valley, Republique, and Hitman Go. You can even get older titles like Age of Zombies for as little as $0.10, alongside a host of old-school SNK arcade games. Unfortunately, there’s no hub page where you can quickly scan all of the available games, but we’ve listed some of the better deals below; you can also search the store for “play games summer sale” for even more.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming to the PS4 and PC – Rise of the Tomb Raider was snapped up as an Xbox offering, but as it turns out, it will be making its way to other devices as well: namely, the PlayStation 4 and PC. Square Enix announced that it will be available on Steam early next year, and that those on Sony’s gaming console will also get access, but will need to wait more than a year, as it won’t be arriving until 2016’s holiday season. Whether those with a PlayStation 3 will get access wasn’t mentioned, and therefore it isn’t looking likely.

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Xbox One mouse support on the way – Both the Xbox One and PS4 are much closer to standard PC architecture than any previous console generation. While both have support for keyboards, it sounds like the Xbox One will be the first to add computer mice to the equation. At least, that’s what Microsoft’s Xbox chief Phil Spencer has hinted at. Spencer commented that mouse support wasn’t “far away” on Twitter in response to a question about the possibility of Windows games being streamed to a Xbox One console.

Fallout Anthology packs the entire game series into a collectible nuclear bomb – Fallout 4 is almost upon us, but if you want to catch up on the post-apocalypse, Bethesda has just announced a new collection that bundles together the entire series in one package. Called Fallout Anthology, the collection includes five games: Fallout 1-3, along with spin-offs Fallout Tactics and New Vegas. Both Fallout 3 and New Vegas will include the plentiful expansions and add-ons that have come out since their initial launch. These games are all readily available separately on places like Steam, but for collectors the new set will also include a miniature nuclear bomb for storing the games, and it features space so you can add Fallout 4 when it comes out. The anthology will be available September 29th for $49.99 only on PC, while Fallout 4 launches November 10th for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

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‘Gears of War’ remake for Xbox One goes gold, now available for ‘pre-download’ – Microsoft’s “Gears of War: Ultimate Edition” for Xbox One has gone gold, and those who pre-order the game can now download it in advance of its Aug. 25 release to play immediately on launch day

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The official trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is finally here – The first full trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 has arrived, and here it’s all-out war between the Districts and the Capitol. Katniss and the soldiers of District 13 are finally ready to take the fight to President Snow, and there will be blood before the battle ends. Mockingjay Part 2 hits theaters on November 20th.

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Kamcord Update Brings Live Game Streaming To Mobile Devices – Kamcord, the YC-backed company that enables game recording on mobile, is the latest company to jump on the mobile live-streaming bandwagon after it added the feature to its Android and iOS apps.

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eSports league will start policing drug use among gamers – Drug testing athletes is nothing new, and the same sort of policy will soon apply to gamers. Earlier this month, pro Counter-Strike player Kory ‘Semphis’ Friesen admitted to using Adderall, along with others on his then-team Cloud9, during a big tournament. Some consider this cheating, as Adderall, much like Ritalin, can be abused to help improve concentration and focus for anything ranging from studying to playing video games. Adderall use among pro gamers isn’t uncommon, and that’s a problem.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch 112 years of movie aliens in just over three minutes – A new YouTube video from content-curation giant Digg rounds up the aliens that have appeared on-screen from 1902’s Selenites right through to the talking raccoon, living tree, green-skinned Gamora and hulking Drax the Destroyer in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” There are 98 clips in all, fittingly set to Radiohead’s “Subterranean Homesick Alien.”

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10 free resources to help you learn to code – If you’ve recently gotten the bright idea to learn to code, you’re not alone. The facts are that there exist more jobs than talent to fill them in the tech sector, and if you’re willing to dig in and build your skillset and portfolio, you could have a career before long. But where to start? There are many options out there. Some choose to go back to school, some sign up for for-profit bootcamps, others for workshops and seminars. If you’re not ready to commit a ton of time and money just yet, one of these 10 free resources might be just what you need to get started learning to code.

Sen. Al Franken Urges Federal Probe Of Apple Music – Apple’s hefty fees on in-app subscription services are being called into serious question. In a letter addressed to both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, Sen. Al Franken called on federal regulators to look into possible Apple Music antitrust violations in the music streaming market. Franken pointed to a number of non-competitive guidelines that he believes suppress app developers and stifle innovations that benefit the consumer.

TSA agent gets mad at 16-year-old filming dad’s pat down – Technically Incorrect: At New Orleans airport, a cell phone video of a simple pat down causes a Transportation Security Administration officer to call for the police. The YouTube video has already enjoyed more than 410,000 views.

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Man flies through two-meter gap in rock formation with wingsuit – The video was captured with the GoPro HERO2, which was made from 2011 through 2012 when the HERO3 debuted. As you can see in the following video posted on the official GoPro You Tube channel, the feat took more than one try. You can see the miss and Emanuele explaining that he then decided to attempt the fly-through from the other side of the mountain, which resulted in an amazing success.

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Australian online shoppers may soon find everything more expensive – Until now, savvy Australian shoppers that were making their purchases online could skirt the government’s 10% goods and services tax, the equivalent of VAT. That tax was absent for online transactions under A$1000. But now, according to Mashable, the PM alongside regional leaders have reportedly agreed to lower that threshold down to A$20. If this becomes the new law, then users will find themselves instantly paying 10% more for most of their online purchases. But the trouble doesn’t stop there because, as one consumer advocacy group notes, the extra revenue from the tax would be less than the money needed to actually collect the new tax.

Associated Press to publish massive historical video library – Recent history has been memorialized on video, and the Associated Press wants to make sure you and everyone else can watch those videos. As such it is working with British Movietone to upload 550,000 or so videos to YouTube — collectively amounting to more than a million minutes of digitized footage — across two channels. This represents the biggest upload of historical video footage to the video website, and will aid in reliving big moments, studying history, verifying facts, and more.

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Your music taste might reveal how your brain works – Do you like the sweet sounds of Billie Holiday or the hard edge of Metallica? A new study from the University of Cambridge says your choice shows whether you’re an empathetic or systematic thinker.

Untrustworthy faces are more likely to get the death sentence – People who have faces that are judged as less trustworthy are given the death penalty more often than people viewed as trustworthy, according to recent research in the journal Psychological Science. The results “paint a somewhat alarming picture of how systems of legal punishment are vulnerable to the same biases in person perception that afflict everyday individuals,” write John Paul Wilson and Nicholas Rule, the authors of the paper. This study builds on previous research suggesting that people judge the trustworthiness of faces with a high degree of consensus—we more or less agree on which faces count as trustworthy and which don’t.

Something to think about:

“Resolve to edge in a little reading every day, if it is but a single sentence. If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year.”

–       Horace Mann (1796 – 1859)

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

Features:

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

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

no import required – native editing

frame-accurate seeking for many formats

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

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

webcam capture (Linux only)

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

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

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

Blackmagic Design SDI and HDMI for input and preview monitoring

JACK transport sync

deinterlacing

detailed media properties panel

recent files panel

drag-n-drop files from file manager

save and load trimmed clip as MLT XML file

load and play complex MLT XML file as a clip

audio signal level meter

volume control

scrubbing and transport control

flexible UI through dock-able panels

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

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

stream (encode to IP) files and any capture source

batch encoding with job control

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

unlimited undo and redo for playlist edits including a history view

connect to Melted servers over MVCP TCP protocol

control the transport playback of Melted units

edit Melted playlists including suport for undo/redo

OpenGL GPU-based image processing

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

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

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

eye dropper tool to pick neutral color for white balancing

translated to Spanish, French, Czech, and German

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

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

Features:

burn all kinds of discs

audio-CDs with or without gaps between tracks

burn and create ISO files

data verification after burning process

create bootable discs

multi-language interface

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Facebook blocked from challenging search warrants targeting its users – Facebook does not have legal standing to challenge search warrants on behalf of its users, a New York appeals court has ruled in what was the biggest batch of warrants the social-media site said it ever received at one time.

Facebook was served with 381 warrants in 2013 from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. The warrants sought photos, private messages, and other information as part of a wide-ranging disability fraud investigation. As many as 134 people have been accused of disability fraud as part of the ongoing probe.

Facebook objected to handing over the data and challenged it. The site was even threatened with contempt of court over the fight, so it reluctantly coughed up the data. Facebook was allowed to continue the challenge on appeal in a failed bid to set legal precedent for its users.

The company said in a statement it was exploring its legal options:

Canada: Bill C-51 not in keeping with Canada’s international obligations: UN – The United Nations Human Rights Committee is raising concerns about Canada’s new anti-terror legislation, saying it could run afoul of the international covenant on civil and political rights.

The committee says it’s concerned sweeping powers in the law, known as C-51, do not contain enough legal safeguards to protect people’s rights.

The committee says while it appreciates Canada must take steps to protect against terrorism, the government should consider rewriting the law to ensure it complies with the international civil rights agreement.

Problems with C-51 are only part of a list of issues the committee is raising today in releasing a report on how well Canada is meetings its obligations under the civil and political human rights covenant.

Canada: Court strikes down Ottawa’s ‘safe country’ list for refugees – In a major blow to the Harper government, the Federal Court has struck down its so-called safe country list for refugees as unconstitutional.

In a ruling Thursday, the court said Ottawa’s designation by country of origin or DCO discriminates against asylum seekers who come from countries on this list by denying them access to appeals.

It is yet another devastating hit to the Conservative government which recently also lost two cases on constitutional grounds over the ban of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies and on health cuts for refugees.

“This is another Charter loss for the (Stephen) Harper government,” noted Lorne Waldman, president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, a party to the legal challenge against the DCO regime.

The government said it will appeal the decision and ask the court to set it aside while it is under appeal.

Boffins sting spooks with ‘HORNET’ onion router – Five academics have developed a Tor alternative network that can handle up to 93 Gb/s of traffic while maintaining privacy.

The HORNET system is more resistant to passive attacks than existing anonymity networks like Tor and delivers faster node speeds for a “practically unlimited” number of sources.

It is the brainchild of leader researcher Chen Chen of Carnegie Mellon University, together with Daniele Enrico Asoni, David Barrera, and Adrian Perrig of the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, and George Danezis of University College London.

“Unlike other onion routing implementations, HORNET routers do not keep per-flow state or perform computationally expensive operations for data forwarding, allowing the system to scale as new clients are added,” the team wrote in the paper HORNET: High-speed Onion Routing at the Network Layer (PDF).

“HORNET offers payload protection by default, and can defend against some global observation attacks.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 22, 2015

Twitter’s new Safety Center explains how to deal with online abuse;  9 reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 – yet;  Find open hotspots with WifiMapper;  How to Create a Burner Account on Ashley Madison (And Other Sketchy Sites);  The 5 best alternatives to FaceTime for Android;  Google Knows What You Did Last Summer, Now Shows It To You In Google Maps;  Security suites: Choosing the best one for you;  The best free alternatives to Windows 10’s default apps;  15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do;  Google Launches Drive Plug-In For Microsoft Office;  New free tool detects Hacking Team exploits;  Microsoft Issues Emergency Fix for Hacking Team Bug;  New vulnerability lets attackers hijack Chrysler vehicles over the web;  NFL Teases A New Subscription Service For On-Demand Games;  The mobile web sucks;  Robot surgeons kill 144 patients, hurt 1,391, malfunction 8,061 times;  Facebook History Spy (free);  How to ​pass on your phone and data when you power off for good;  Canada: Two rights groups launch Charter challenge of Bill C-51.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Twitter’s new Safety Center explains how to deal with online abuse – Twitter has unveiled a new Safety Center page as the company strives to cut down on abusive behavior on the site. Launched on Monday, the Safety Center page is described as the company’s commitment to “building a safer Twitter.” Organized by different topics, the page points you to tools that you can use to control what others can see about you and report accounts that may violate Twitter’s rules. For example, you can report spam, abuse and other types of violations from a specific tweet or profile.

Find open hotspots with WifiMapper – Using a mobile hotspot means that you’ll have Internet access on your tablet or laptop when you leave home or work. But what if you don’t have signal, or you forget your hotspot on your desk? That’s when you may be looking for an open hotspot out in the wild, and WifiMapper — newly available on Android — is just the app to get the job done. While there are several precautions you’ll want to take before using a public Wi-Fi connection, if you absolutely need to, this app can save you from having to drive around looking for a good connection. The added benefit of comments from Foursquare and other users of the app help you find the right hotspot. Here’s how to get started:

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9 reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 — yet – Windows 10 is just about here — and many users (especially those who have been wrestling with Windows 8) are probably eager to upgrade. But even if you can get it now — the upgrade will be sent first to those who signed up for the Windows Insider beta program and then in “slow waves” to everyone else — you may want to hold off. Here are nine reasons you might want to put off a Windows 10 upgrade.

The 5 best alternatives to FaceTime for Android – FaceTime, iOS’s native video app, is a solid program that has been polished to a shine, and it’s quickly becoming a generic verb like Xerox. You don’t video chat someone, you FaceTime them. With an Android phone, though, you can’t. That’s what’s great about the open marketplace of ideas that is the Google Play store, though. If you need an Android alternative to FaceTime, you have not one, but several, to choose from. We took the leading candidates for a test drive to compare them with each other, taking into account price, reliability, restrictions, and features. Here’s our list of the five best alternatives to FaceTime for Android.

How to Create a Burner Account on Ashley Madison (And Other Sketchy Sites) – The takeaway is this: Don’t do anything on the Internet (like advertise your desire for extramarital hook-ups) that you wouldn’t do IRL. However, for those out there are absolutely compelled to get their sketch on—and, let us reiterate: there is no such thing as 100 percent online security—there are a few steps you can take to mitigate your exposure:

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Google Knows What You Did Last Summer, Now Shows It To You In Google Maps – Social apps like Foursquare / Swarm are more about places you’re at or where you’re going. Today, the Google Maps team launched a feature called “Your Timeline” that is about where you’ve already been. It’s not a social feature, as you’re the only one who sees the information. But… t’s a reminder of how much freaking data Google has on us if we leave all of our defaults on. It’s only available for Android and desktop right now. If you use Google Photos, your pics will appear along with the places you stopped along the way. Here’s a look at the feature:

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Google+ Photos is shutting down on August 1 – After announcing changes to its Google+ platform earlier this year, the search giant has now revealed that its Google+ Photos app will shut down next month, beginning with the Android version.

Google Launches Drive Plug-In For Microsoft Office – Google today launched a new plug-in for Microsoft Office that gives you access to all of your Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents in Google Drive right from Microsoft’s desktop apps. The plug-in also lets you save files directly to Google Drive, so you can then edit them in Google’s online apps, too. The idea here, a Google spokesperson told us, is to continue to make Drive into more of an integrated storage tool for its users.

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Security suites: Choosing the best one for you – These days, security suites do more than protect you from malware — they handle phishing, lost mobile devices and a multitude of other tasks. You need to take into account the types of threats you might encounter based on the way you compute, as well as the specific devices you use, so you can match a suite’s coverage to your specific needs. In order to help you decide which security suite is best for your individual needs, we will be regularly reviewing current suites as they are released.

Twitter removes backgrounds from timeline, moves to tweets – Did your Twitter timeline’s custom wallpaper just disappear on you? No need to panic, there’s nothing really wrong There is no widespread Twitter bug. Actually, yes do panic because since it’s not a bug, it means there’s nothing to be fixed. In a still unexplained move, Twitter removed custom background images and design from your profile and home timeline page. Fear not, it hasn’t completely disappeared into nothingness. You can still see them, but only if you’re viewing individual tweets and nowhere else in the Twitterverse.

Microsoft has added a nifty little feature to Windows 10: screen recording – The function has been tested and works with any app, but only within apps; you can’t record your desktop and need an application open for the screen capture to work. All you have to do is press ‘Windows + G’, which brings up a toolbar that allows you to both take a screenshot or capture video, saving you a bit of money on professional screen capture software like Camtasia. Granted, the Windows 10 implementation is much more barebones than the professional suite but for those who want a simple solution, the free function doesn’t hurt.

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The best free alternatives to Windows 10’s default apps – Windows comes with a number of default apps, which are handy if you need a quick way to open a file but vexing if you’d rather use your preferred apps. Windows 10 has mostly corrected the experience of opening a document or media file, but there are still a number of options that are better than Windows’ preinstalled apps. Here are nine tasks you might want to outsource to other apps, plus a final tip on making them the new defaults.

15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Using Google means an easier online life—from email and online storage to news and digital maps. But the search giant can also take over your TV with the Google Chromecast $29.99 at Amazon, a streaming dongle that is behind only Amazon’s own Fire TV Stick on the company’s list of best-selling electronic devices. 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.

Microsoft has cut $150 off some of its Surface Pro 3 models – Microsoft has settled into a pattern of offering big discounts on its Surface Pro 3 tablets every few weeks, and it’s that time again – several models are now available with $150 off the normal price.

Security:

New free tool detects Hacking Team exploits – Dubbed Milano, the free tool looks for files associated with the recent Hacking Team breach through either a quick or deep system scan. In the tool’s first form, a total of 93 Windows binaries have been analyzed, and 40 files have been highlighted as likely to be used for malicious use. Additional files will be added as the 400GB cache scrutiny continues.

Microsoft Issues Emergency Fix for Hacking Team Bug – The security flaw could allow an attacker to take full control of your system if you open a specially crafted document or visit a booby-trapped webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts, Redmond said in its advisory. The vulnerability is rated Critical—Microsoft’s highest vulnerability severity rating, reserved for flaws that could allow code execution without user interaction—for all supported versions of Windows.

New vulnerability lets attackers hijack Chrysler vehicles over the web – A new vulnerability in the Uconnect system gives attackers frightening remote powers over Chrysler vehicles, revealed in a Wired exclusive report. In a live demo, attackers used the vulnerability to cut out a Jeep Cherokee’s transmission and brakes and, when the car is in reverse, commandeer the steering wheel — all without physical access to the vehicle. “This might be the kind of software bug most likely to kill someone,” said Charlie Miller, one of the researchers behind the exploit. The full vulnerability will be presented next month at Defcon, although the researchers plan to withhold crucial details so that the bug cannot be exploited at scale.

MalwareBytes blocks some torrent sites, citing malware and fraud concerns – It’s no secret that torrent sites can be sketchy, but now MalwareBytes is trying to do something about it by adding several sites to its block list. According to TorrentFreak, MalwareBytes Anti-Malware has tagged Isohunt.to and LimeTorrents.cc as malicious, along with several other smaller sites. Users of the website protection tool in MalwareBytes’ premium service won’t be able to visit these sites without unblocking them first.

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Senate bill proposes cyber security standard for cars – Cars will have to be much better protected against hacking and new privacy standards will govern data collected from vehicles under proposed legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. The Security and Privacy in Your Car Act of 2015 seeks to get a step ahead of what is seen by some as one of the next fronts in hacking: connected vehicles, which are always on the Internet and rely on sophisticated computer control systems.

CVS Photo temporally shut down following credit card hack – It looks like CVS is the latest retailer to be affected by a data breach, as its CVSPhoto.com domain now only shows up with a message advising customers that the independent vendor it uses has been compromised. As a result of the hack, CVS has temporarily taken down its CVS Photo website, and says that during this time it is conducting an investigation into the matter. Customers who used the service with their credit card should be on alert.

FTC accuses ID protection service LifeLock of scamming customers—again – LifeLock, the company that heavily advertises itself on TV and online as an identity theft protection service, came under the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday for allegedly failing customers—again. The agency, in a federal suit filed in LifeLock’s home state of Arizona, accuses the company of failing to notify its customers immediately after their identities were comprised and alleges the company did not implement the same type of identity protection safeguards used by banks. The FTC said LifeLock promised those services to its customers, but did not live up to it.

Company News:

Apple posts another record quarter, with over $1 billion in Apple Watch sales – Apple reported its third quarter earnings today, putting another period of eye-popping profits on the books. Investors were eager to glean any details about how well the new Apple Watch sold, but the bulk of the company’s revenue is still coming from its trifecta of iPhone, iPad, and Mac sales, with digital goods and services a close fourth. Apple generated $49.6 billion in revenue, slightly above analysts’ expectation of $49 billion. It earned a profit of $10.7 billion, trailing its record of $18 billion that it set during the first quarter of this year.

Apple and IBM release 10 new apps, incorporating analytics and iBeacons – The apps use technology like predictive analytics and are for business travelers and mortgage officers, among other professionals.

Microsoft reports big losses in the fourth quarter – Microsoft today reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of its 2015 fiscal year and unsurprisingly, the massive $7.6 billion write down for its Nokia purchase last year tanked any chances of it turning a profit. The write down pushed Microsoft’s losses to $2.1 billion for the quarter. Excluding the write down and related charges, Microsoft’s other businesses earned a profit of $6.4 billion on $22.2 billion in revenue.

Yahoo’s Q2 Manages A Slim Revenue Beat, But Its Per-Share Profit Of $0.16 Disappoints – Today, Yahoo reported its second-quarter financial performance, including $1.04 billion in revenue after discounting for traffic costs (ex-TAC), and earnings per share of $0.16. Revenue sported 15 percent year-over-year growth. The street had expected Yahoo to earn $0.18 per share on revenue of $1.03 billion.

Toshiba’s CEO resigns, amid $1.2 billion financial scandal – Toshiba’s CEO, Hisao Tanaka, alongside other top-level executives, have resigned their positions after it came to light that Toshiba had declared $1.2 billion in false profits over the last six years.

Facebook, others take Samsung’s side in Apple patent case – Apple and Samsung have been fighting a legal battle for a long time now that focuses on Apple alleging that Samsung has violated several of its patents. Samsung now has some industry heavyweights on its side that all have a stake in having Apple lose the court case. Previously the courts ordered Samsung to turn over profits from a few products that the court found infringe on Apple patents.

Games and Entertainment:

NFL Teases A New Subscription Service For On-Demand Games, Will Support Apple TV – The NFL is preparing to launch a new version of its Games Pass service, which will now include the ability to watch games on a wider selection of devices, including the Apple TV. According to information posted on the NFL website, the new Game Pass service will also replace Game Rewind, a paid service that previously offered all 256 NFL regular season games on-demand, after they air on television. Game Rewind will be discontinued on July 31, 2015, the NFL site said, and users will be able to move to the updated Game Pass service instead. The new Game Pass will offer apps for a number of devices, including mobile platforms as well as select connected TV devices like Xbox One, Xbox 360, Apple TV and more.

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Here’s Why Everybody Loves This Bizarre New Soccer Game – It’s like soccer with race cars. That’s the elevator pitch for San Diego studio Psyonix’s Rocket League, a zany ball-punching demolition derby for PC and PlayStation 4. The game arrived without ceremony two weeks ago, but it’s already clinched over 5,000 “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on Steam. It’s now pretty much what everyone’s talking about.

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JustWatch Brings Its Search Engine For Cord Cutters To iOS And Android – JustWatch, a startup that launched earlier this year offering a search engine that helps cord cutters figure out where to watch their favorite programs and movies, is now expanding to mobile. The company has released both iOS and Android applications that help you find where to watch movies and shows, as well as discover new and popular content across a variety of services, including Netflix, Amazon, HBO NOW, Showtime, Hulu, iTunes and many others.

Rising Thunder is a PC-exclusive robot brawler built by Street Fighter talent – Rising Thunder is built for PC and for keyboard inputs. It’s aimed specifically at online multiplayer. It’s free-to-play (supported by cosmetic items). It’s got huge robots fighting other robots. But most importantly, it sounds like Killian and crew are focused on making fighting games more accessible by simplifying inputs. Instead of lengthy, complicated lists of maneuvers—a mainstay of fighting games—you’ll be able to pull off devastating moves with a single button press. That makes the game more about when to use certain moves than inputting the correct commands. In other words, it’s more about the psychological metagame than your finger dexterity.

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PlayStation 4 officially licensed remote launching soon – PDP will soon be launching its own officially licensed media remote for the Sony PlayStation 4. The maker has not officially announced its new remote, but a preorder has gone live on Amazon and some other retailers’ websites, with an availability date starting in October. While officially licensed for the PlayStation 4, the remote can also be used with certain other devices found in an entertainment setup, such as a set top box or the TV itself, depending on its connectivity options.

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Watch the cute full-length trailer for Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’ – The first full-length preview of the upcoming flick gives viewers their first look at an unlikely human-dinosaur friendship in action.

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Dinosaurs, in space! Trailer tours the vast universe of No Man’s Sky – Hello Games releases a gorgeous new trailer for No Man’s Sky, an expansive upcoming video game that lets gamers explore a beautiful, seemingly endless universe.

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Microsoft fails to halt class action lawsuit alleging Xbox 360 design flaw – A US appeals court has again rebuffed Microsoft’s attempts to stop a class action lawsuit against it, which claims that the company sold the Xbox 360 with a known design flaw that ruined users’ discs.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How to ​pass on your phone and data when you power off for good – If you don’t plan ahead for someone to access your smartphone and account data, it could be a serious headache for those close to you. Fortunately there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure the right person gets access to your phone and the right data without compromising your day-to-day security. Here’s how to set up a nearly foolproof system that protects your accounts but lets the right person in should something unfortunate happen.

2015 isn’t over yet, but it’s already breaking heat records – Last year was, at the start of 2015, the hottest year on record. We’re only half way through this year, however, and it is already breaking heat records. If it keeps this up, 2015 will overtake 2014 as the hottest year on record, a song we’re likely to hear more often as climate change continues to worsen. The information comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and the Japan Meteorological Agency, among others. All of them have pointed toward June having been record-smashing hot.

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Self-proclaimed experts talk more BS, study finds – Forget everything you think you know—it may cause you to have an exaggerated sense of knowledge, according to a recent study that looks into the origins of misinformation. Researchers call this psychological phenomenon “overclaiming.” In their study, published in Psychological Science, they found that the more someone thinks they know about a general topic, the more likely they are to claim expertise in the subject. The results of their study have raised questions about how we judge our own sense of knowledge and how this bloated sense of self could be detrimental to a society, where one person can start the spread of misinformation. In order to figure out the reasons behind people’s self-proclaimed expertise, researchers ran a series of tests.

Robot surgeons kill 144 patients, hurt 1,391, malfunction 8,061 times – Surgery on humans using robots has been touted by some as a safer way to get your innards repaired – and now the figures are in for you to judge. A team of university eggheads have counted up the number of medical cockups in America reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2000 to 2013, and found there were 144 deaths during robot-assisted surgery, 1,391 injuries, and 8,061 counts of device malfunctions. If that sounds terrible, consider that 1.7 million robo-operations were carried out between 2007 and 2013. Whether you’re impressed or appalled, the number of errors has the experts mildly concerned, and they want better safety mechanisms.

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See the first EPIC image of our planet from a million miles away – The image was taken on July 6th, with DSCOVR’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, a four-megapixel CCD camera and telescope that bears the acronym EPIC. The camera is centered on Central America, with much of North and South America blanketed in cloud, and the shallow seas around the Caribbean showing up as turquoise streaks in a deeper blue.

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The mobile web sucks – I hate browsing the web on my phone.  Web browsers on phones are terrible. They are an abomination of bad user experience, poor performance, and overall disdain for the open web that kicked off the modern tech revolution. Mobile Safari on my iPhone 6 Plus is a slow, buggy, crashy affair, starved for the phone’s paltry 1GB of memory and unable to rotate from portrait to landscape without suffering an emotional crisis. Chrome on my various Android devices feels entirely outclassed at times, a country mouse lost in the big city, waiting to be mugged by the first remnant ad with a redirect loop and something to prove.

Watch the first Windows 10 ad use adorable babies to push Hello, Cortana, and Edge – It’s a soft approach to a product that Microsoft seems to expect will change the world, if not transform the company. Windows is shown for about seven seconds, with a quick montage of Hello, the Start menu, the Edge browser, and Cortana. Instead of showing how any of the Windows 10 technologies work, however, Microsoft chose to explain how a new generation will grow up with what Windows 10 embodies: touchscreens, the disappearance of passwords (Windows Hello), a digital assistant who talks to you (Cortana), and more.

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Rhinos outfitted with horn cameras, GPS to fight poaching – British nonprofit animal conservation group Protect has come up with a new way to fight poachers, and it involves outfitting rhinos with their own versions of tech wearables. The system relies on three pieces of technology to track and monitor the animals: heart rate monitors under the skin, a GPS transmitter around the neck, and a camera embedded in the horn after a hole is (painlessly) drilled. The technology is called Real-time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device (RAPID), and is already being tested on threatened rhino populations in South Africa.

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India Will Have 500 Million Internet Users By 2017, Says New Report – Inexpensive smartphones and 2G subscriptions are expected to help boost Internet usage rates in India over the next two years, according to a new study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and KPMG. While city dwellers are quickly upgrading to 3G and 4G, slower but more affordable data plans will enable more people to get online.

Something to think about:

“Be entirely tolerant or not at all; follow the good path or the evil one. To stand at the crossroads requires more strength than you possess.”

–     Heinrich Heine (1797 – 1856)

Today’s Free Downloads:

Facebook History Spy – History Spy is the all-in-one software to instantly recover or view Facebook web history from popular web browsers. It helps in recovering or viewing Facebook history from following browsers.

Mozilla Firefox

Internet Explorer

Google

Chrome Google Chrome Canary/SXS

CoolNovo (Chrome variant)

PaleMoon Browser (Firefox variant)

SeaMonkey Browser (Firefox variant)

It automatically detects the right history database file based on the browser and current user configuration. You can also manually specify the different history file or quickly ‘Drag & Drop’ a history file. This is useful when you have to recover the Facebook history for another user or from different system.

You can also export the recovered Facebook history list to HTML/XML/CSV file for offline analysis.

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Avira Rescue System  – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System a linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections.

Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD. You can then use this CD/DVD to boot your computer. The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is updated several times a day so that the most recent security updates are always available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Former Hacking Team supplier stops selling zero-day exploits on ethical grounds – Italian surveillance software maker Hacking Team recently claimed that it hasn’t lost any customers after the massive leak of its internal data two weeks ago. But it has lost at least one business partner: U.S.-based penetration testing specialist and zero-day exploit broker Netragard.

Over the weekend, Netragard announced that it is terminating its long-time running Exploit Acquisition Program (EAP), citing revelations about Hacking Team’s customers as one of the reasons.

Internal email communications recently leaked from Hacking Team revealed that the Milan-based company had a business relationship with Netragard and bought at least one zero-day exploit through its program.

Google slams proposed export controls on security tools – A proposed set of software export controls, including controls on selling hacking software outside the U.S., are “dangerously broad and vague,” Google said Monday.

Google, commenting on rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), said the proposed export controls would hurt the security research community.

A DOC Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) proposal, published in May would require companies planning to export intrusion software, Internet surveillance systems and related technologies to obtain a license before doing so. Exports to Canada would be exempt from the licensing requirement.

The proposed rules “would also hamper our ability to defend ourselves, our users, and make the web safer,” Google’s Neil Martin, an export compliance lawyer, and Tim Willis with the Chrome Security Team, wrote in a blog post. “It would be a disastrous outcome if an export regulation intended to make people more secure resulted in billions[b] of users across the globe becoming persistently less secure.”

Canada: Two rights groups launch Charter challenge of Bill C-51 – Canada’s new terrorism law is being challenged in court by a journalists’ group and a civil rights organization that call it an attack on constitutional freedoms and an “extraordinary inversion” of the role of judges.

The Anti-Terrorism Act, which took effect last month, makes it a crime to promote or advocate terrorism. It also gives Canada’s civilian spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, new powers to disrupt attacks. Until now, CSIS could only collect and analyze information. It will now be able to ask a judge in a secret hearing for a warrant to violate constitutional rights.

The public safety minister came under opposition criticism after a video emerged of a former Ottawa man calling for attacks on Canadians. Steven Blaney says new tools are needed to help stop terrorists.

The Conservative government passed the law, known as Bill C-51, after two deadly attacks in Canada last October, including one in which a gunman was killed in a shootout with guards on Parliament Hill.

The law is expected to be a factor in the upcoming election campaign, with the Conservatives expected to argue that they alone can be trusted to protect Canadians. The New Democrats opposed the law and the Liberals supported it but promised to change it if they become the government.

The terrorism-promotion provisions, and the new powers for CSIS, are among several parts of the law called unconstitutional in a wide-ranging challenge by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

New York judge rules against Facebook in search warrant case – A New York judge ruled Tuesday that Facebook has no legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of search warrants served on its users, highlighting the limits to online companies’ abilities to protect user privacy.

Last year, Facebook appealed a court decision requiring it to hand over data, including photos and private messages, relating to 381 user accounts. The data was sought as part of an investigation by the New York County District Attorney’s office into a disability fraud case.

Other companies including Google and Microsoft filed briefs supporting Facebook’s move, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.

In her decision on Tuesday, Judge Dianne Renwick of the New York State Supreme Court said Facebook has no constitutional or statutory right to challenge a warrant before it’s issued.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – July 20, 2015

Ripping CDs and movies for personal use is once again illegal in UK;  UK government releases plan to jail online pirates for up to 10 years;   Stop pesky HTML5 videos from auto-playing;  These 4 Gadgets Will Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly;  Photos: 9 apps that can help people with disabilities;  Virtual reality for beginners: Everything you need to know to wrap your head around VR;  Pocket for iOS updated with text-to-speech feature;  Save the world using your PC or phone;  Microsoft will support Windows 10 till 2025;  Hacking Attacks on Ashley Madison Could Mean Trouble for Millions of Would-Be Cheaters;  Windows 10 to be sold on USB sticks;  Microsoft to spoofed Skype users: Change your account passwords NOW;  Google might soon help you find anyone from a plumber to a painter;  Amazon Looks to Turn India into Firm’s Biggest Market Outside the U.S.  10 Games Every Xbox One Player Needs;  Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 PCs is now available for everyone;  GoPro captures road rage as alleged victim fights back (and wins);  The Pocket Guide to Fighting with Idiots on the Internet;  Are the Ten Commandments really the basis for our laws?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Ripping CDs and movies for personal use is once again illegal in UK – Today’s ruling quashes the 2014 regulation that made it legal to make personal copies of performances for private use as long as the person doing so has lawfully acquired the content and doesn’t distribute it to anyone else. That regulation allowed people to make backups or play songs or movies in different formats but didn’t allow selling copies or sharing them with family and friends. But the High Court ruled last month that the regulation hadn’t been enacted properly. The personal use exception wasn’t immediately thrown out because other remedies could have been considered, but today’s ruling takes it off the books.

These 4 Gadgets Will Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly – Long promised to be the next big thing, smart home gear hasn’t just arrived, some of it has already departed for the clearance racks and the deal-a-day websites. The problem with a lot of these products? They’re technology for the sake of gadgetry — meaning they do something kind of cool, but that’s about it. For smart home devices to be truly innovative, they must solve a problem facing consumers. One of those problems ripe for solving: Utility bills. Here are four ways smart home devices can give you a better handle on how your home uses energy and water, saving not only money, but also precious resources.

Inbox by Gmail adds some extra smarts to the snooze button – Google’s email app now looks at message content to predict just the right time to pop messages back into your inbox

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Stop pesky HTML5 videos from auto-playing with this helpful Firefox add-on – This nifty add-on helps you silence pesky auto-playing audio and video that you come across on the web–as long it’s not Flash-based.

Intel’s Skylake chips: What you need to know about the next big CPU change – Move over, Broadwell: the sixth generation of Intel Core i-series CPUs are almost here. Here’s how it will — and won’t — affect your PC and Mac buying choices.

Sideclick is back to make streamer remote controls more useful – The $21 attachment adds volume and other television controls to Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Google Nexus Player remotes.

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Meet Voat, the website that wants to be the anti-Reddit – With all the drama surrounding Reddit, from debates over free speech to its messy game of musical chairs among executives, it’s understandable some users might want to leave. Now they’ve found a place to go. It’s called Voat (rhymes with goat), and it says it’s fixed all those things people don’t like about Reddit.

Photos: 9 apps that can help people with disabilities – It’s easy to how powerful a simple technology can be. Here are nine apps to help make day-to-day tasks much easier for people with disabilities.

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HearYouNow is a personal sound amplifier for people trying to listen in specific types of environments, like in a loud restaurant or during a meeting. You can choose to focus on conversations happening near you, or those further away, and it’s easy to replay the last 20 seconds of a conversation. Available for free for iOS.

Pocket for iOS updated with text-to-speech feature – Pocket, the wonderful app that lets users save articles and other content for reading later on, has updated its iOS app with a text to speed feature. With this feature, busy users can have their saved articles read to them while they do other things the same as an audio book. It’s a handy feature, one that makes it easier to work through one’s saved articles while driving to or from work or while doing other things that require your attention to be (mostly) elsewhere.

Virtual reality for beginners: Everything you need to know to wrap your head around VR – Virtual reality has the potential to change the world, but you’ll need to understand the radical new technology before you embrace it.

Save the world using your PC or phone – Volunteer computing is a way for people to get their computers or phones to link up to solve complicated modeling and calculations to aid in research projects. What’s being volunteered is your machine’s spare processing power. When multiple computers are a part of the same project, these separate machines act in concert to serve as a supercomputer.

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SETI@home in action on a Mac. Ariel Nunez/CNET

Microsoft starts the countdown to Windows 10 release with ’10 reasons to upgrade’ – Microsoft has released a new video series to promote Windows 10 that highlights 10 features of the OS and why you should upgrade when it arrives later this month.

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Windows 10 to be sold on … wait for it … USB sticks – Microsoft has confirmed scuttlebutt that had been flying around for a number of weeks now: Windows 10 will be sold on USB Flash drives. Over on Amazon.com, pre-order pages show that the operating system will be available on media other than DVDs. A release date has now been tagged for 30 August with the drive retailing in the US at $119.99 for the Windows 10 Home version and $199.99 for Windows 10 Pro.

Windows 10 — download full version, before release date (RTM build 10240) – Yes, you can get the Windows 10 “RTM” build, right now, for download, even before the release date. Build 10240 is the final, full version. It’s available for update, but you can also get hold of the ISOs (even though Microsoft doesn’t want you to). As before, this is an Insider Program thing only. You did sign up for the program, like I told you, right?

Microsoft will support Windows 10 till 2025 – With the move to Windows a a Service, Microsoft had left some questions unanswered about the support and lifecycle of the OS. The company has now updated its product page to indicate 10 years.

Save your money and download Microsoft’s free eBooks on Windows 10 – Not only is Microsoft giving away it new Windows 10 operating system for Free, the company is also giving away 100’s of Free eBooks covering a wide range of Microsoft technologies-including Windows 10.Let’s take a closer look.

Microsoft Will Release Cortana For Android In “Next Few Weeks” – Following an apparent leak of Cortana for the Android platform, Microsoft released comment indicating that it is in fact testing its digital assistant for the Google platform, and will cut it live in short order. So all that cross-platform talk wasn’t a charade. Expect Cortana to land on Android and, later, iOS.

Security:

0-day attacks exploiting Flash just got harder thanks to new defenses – A string of weaponized attacks targeting Adobe’s Flash media player—including three in the past 10 days—has kept software engineers scrambling to fix the underlying vulnerabilities that make the exploits so dangerous. Fortunately, they have also been busy making structural changes to the way the program interacts with computer operating systems to significantly reduce the damage that can result not only from those specific attacks but entire classes of similar ones. At the moment, the defenses are fully implemented only in the Flash version included in Google Chrome, having made their debut earlier this week. One of the two mitigations is available in other versions of Flash, and the remaining one is expected to be added to other browsers in August.

UCLA’s Health System Was Hacked and Now 4.5 Million People May Have Had Their Personal Data Stolen – The University of California, Los Angeles, announced today that their health system had been hacked sometime in the past ten months, potentially compromising the personal data of 4.5 million people. UCLA Health first noticed the security breach in September 2014, when the system detected “suspicious activity” and the FBI was called in to investigate. At that time, it didn’t appear that hackers posed a threat. Then, in May 2015, the healthcare provider realized hackers had accessed their internal system, which contained privileged information like names, addresses, social security numbers, and medical records that may have been stolen.

Microsoft to spoofed Skype users: Change your account passwords NOW – An unknown number of frustrated Skype customers have been pestered by spoof messages on the Microsoft service for weeks, but the company is yet to close what appears to be a gaping hole in its software. Instead, Redmond has advised Skype users to change their account passwords. But complaints are building up about the lack of communication coming out of the Microsoft camp regarding what seems to be a Skype security flaw. The problem first appeared late last month. One Skype user, posting in a thread that now runs to 22 pages long, said:

Hacking Attacks on Ashley Madison Could Mean Trouble for Millions of Would-Be Cheaters – KrebsOnSecurity — the Internet security blog run by former Washington Post cybercrime reporter Brian Krebs — says the hackers, calling themselves the Impact Team, are demanding that Avid Life Media (ALM), a Canadian company that owns Ashley Madison as well as Established Men (which promises to set successful men up with “young, beautiful women”) to take the two sites down permanently. If ALM doesn’t comply, the hackers say they will continue releasing “all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails,” Krebs reports.

Email Spam Rates Dip Below 50 Percent – Despite what your email inbox might be telling you, overall spam rates have dropped below 50 percent for the first time in 12 years. In June, the rate of unwanted emails reached 49.7 percent—1.8 percent less than the month before, which fell 0.6 percent from the month before that. According to the latest Symantec Intelligence Report, the last time the security firm recorded a similarly low spam rate was in September 2003.

Company News:

Amazon Looks to Turn India into Firm’s Biggest Market Outside the U.S. – Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is planning to invest as much as $5 billion to turn India into its biggest market outside the U.S., the Economic Times newspaper reports. Last year, the online behemoth, which entered India in 2013 with a website that offers a platform for local retailers to sell their goods online, committed itself to investing $2 billion in its Indian operations as it sought to capitalise on the country’s expanding middle class, a significant section of which is going online at a rapid rate.

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Google might soon help you find anyone from a plumber to a painter – It appears Google is about to enter the growing home services market. The search giant has snatched up roughly 20 employees from Homejoy, a startup that focused on pairing house cleaners with apartment-dwellers and homeowners. Google confirmed the hires to our sister site, Recode, just hours after Homejoy announced yesterday that it was closing shop for good at the end of the month. Google has yet to announce any foray into home services, but Buzzfeed reported earlier this year that the company was working on a service that would connect local plumbers, cleaners, painters, and other workers with homeowners.

Apple files patent for targeted ad system that checks what you can afford to buy – I am seeing a lot of praise on social networks recently for the introduction of Apple Pay across Apple’s mobile devices because it’s so convenient not having to take your wallet out to pay, especially if you own the Apple Watch. But Apple having access to your bank account and spending habits has opened up a new way to advertise to individual users: targeted adverts based on what you can afford. Apple has filed a patent that would allow it to enable such a system. Rather than having adverts appear based on your browsing and buying habits, Apple can now track how much cash you have in your bank account, on your credit card, or in pre-paid credit. It can then better select the ad to show you based on whether you can afford what the ad is attempting to sell.

Yahoo Files To Spin Off Its Alibaba Stake As “Aabaco Holdings” – Yahoo is moving forward with plans to spin off its Alibaba assets, as outlined in a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Basically, Yahoo is tossing its Alibaba stock and a minor part of its operations into a new corporate entity. The spinoff will be a public company called Aabaco Holdings, and it will own 384 million shares of Alibaba, which is about 15 percent of the total.

Microsoft is reportedly signing up Foxconn to build Lumia phones in India – After huge cuts to its phone division last week, it seems Microsoft may be planning to outsource at least part of its handset manufacturing, and is said to be close to a deal with Foxconn in India.

T-Mobile reaches settlement with FCC over 911 outages – Back in mid-March, Verizon settled with the FCC over 911 service outages that happened in April of last year. Verizon wasn’t the only wireless carrier that was swept up into some 911 outages, however, and now T-Mobile has followed in the carrier’s footsteps with its own FCC settlement. The big difference, though, is how much it will pay to settle the matter. While Verizon settled for $3.4 million, T-Mobile will be paying $17.5 million to settle the legal matter.

Huawei sales rise 30 percent in H1 2015 – Chinese technology giant Huawei has revealed a 30 percent rise in sales for the half year, with smartphones in the mid- and high-end markets contributing to its continuing high rate of growth.

Games and Entertainment:

10 Games Every Xbox One Player Needs – If you’re ready to discover what the PCMag staff considers the best Xbox One games, click through the slideshow. You can watch video clips of the games in action, and read our pithy words regarding what makes each title one that’s worth owning.

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Sunset Overdrive puts you in the role of a downtrodden garbage collector who works for Fizzco, a corporation that launches an energy drink that ultimately turns its customers into mutants.

Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 PCs is now available for everyone – The impending arrival of Windows 10 is bringing a bunch of welcome new features for Xbox One players. Xbox’s Larry Hryb said in a blog post today that an update rolling out over the next few days will bring players the ability to play Xbox One games on their Windows 10 PCs and tablets by streaming them over their home networks. The feature, which was announced in January, lets players bring games to other rooms of their house without having to move their console. It was previously made available to about 5 million testers of Windows 10.

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Stardock releases Sorcerer King, its new strategy fantasy game – Stardock today announced that Sorcerer King is available now and ready to challenge strategy gamers across the globe. In Sorcerer King players must build a kingdom and raise a force powerful enough to challenge the Sorcerer King who’s all but destroyed their world. Gamers are able to purchase Sorcerer King for $39.99 at http://www.sorcererking.com.

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Judge Approves $60M Settlement in Student-Athlete Video Game Lawsuit – It’s not going to make any student-athletes (or former student-athletes) rich, but a federal judge’s approval of a $60 million settlement as part of a class-action lawsuit filed against the NCAA and Electronic Arts is still fairly monumental. As part of the settlement, any student-athlete on the roster of a Division 1 men’s football or men’s basketball team—whose team was included on any Electronic Arts video game released between May 4, 2003 and September 3, 2014—may file for a claim as part of the settlement. More than 20,000 student-athletes filed for a claim based on the original July 2 deadline. That deadline has since been extended to July 31 for interested parties. The maximum amount that any individual player will be able to earn is $7,200, and they might receive it as early as September (depending how appeals to the settlement go).

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This week in games: Duke Nukem lives, Doom runs inside Doom, and more – Plus: Just Cause 3 turns into a Choose Your Own Adventure and someone’s making a new Warhammer 40,000 action-RPG.

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Android TV, like Google TV, still too ahead of its time – Name five devices that run on Google’s Android TV operating system. If you managed to do that without hurriedly running to a Google search, you are a rare breed. Ask the average user, even someone who is a longtime Android user, and you will probably get a blank stare.

Off Topic (Sort of):

CNN, Fox, other news networks still think we’re all technology idiots – While the endless filler and sometimes mind-numbing commentary that comes with 24-hour news networks provide plenty of subject matter worthy of eye-rolling criticism, it’s hard to find any subject that is approached with a deeper level of maddening condescension and downright idiocy than when a breaking technology-related story unfolds. Watching CNN and others last Wednesday was just the latest example in this continuously absurd area of mainstream journalism.

After Washington Post rolls out HTTPS, its editorial board bemoans encryption debate – Opinion: The national daily displays staggering naivety and hypocrisy in just 530 words.

The Pocket Guide to Fighting with Idiots on the Internet – The rules of the flame war are always changing. The spats of today aren’t at all similar to those our forefathers fought before modems; a changed arena requires a different tact. You can’t approach a fight on Twitter like you would one on the street, though ultimately it pays to be a total prick in both situations. But that shouldn’t be too hard should it, prick face? Let’s begin:

Which of the 11 American nations do you live in? – Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government. Woodard lays out his map in the new book “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.” Here’s how he breaks down the continent:

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Cyber-security’s dirty little secret: It’s not as bad as you think – New research from the Global Commission on Internet Governance has reached a surprising conclusion: cyberspace is actually getting safer. The report [PDF] starts from a simple enough premise: while we are constantly told that incidents of cyberattacks and online security threats are increasing, are they growing relative to the expanding size of the internet? In other words, while 10 homicides in a small town of 1,000 is terrifying, 100 in a city of 10 million would be considered low. The second is still 10 times the first. Having pulled data on the number of domain names from dot-com operator Verisign, volume of online activity from Cisco, and search activity from Google, author Eric Jardine, then mapped a wide variety of cybersecurity issues onto the expanding internet and found that things are actually getting better.

Spotify’s new map shows musical tastes of a thousand cities – Have you ever wondered what other people in your city are listening to? If so, Spotify’s newly created Musical Map will be of particular interest. The map uses Spotify’s glut of data to create playlists based on the listening habits of users across 1,000 cities around the globe. The map presently includes cities in the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia. Clicking on a city will pull up a link to a playlist on Spotify that was created to show what kind of music is popular in the region.

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GoPro captures road rage as alleged victim fights back (and wins) – Technically Incorrect: A video of a motorist getting angry at a motorcyclist depicts an instance of a man getting more than he bargained for. Almost 9 million YouTube viewers have checked it out.

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Are the Ten Commandments really the basis for our laws? – I was thinking about this recently. People seem to accept that our laws are based on the morals of the Old Testament laid out in the Commandments, but as a proper skeptic, I decided to take a look myself. Why not go over the Commandments, said I to myself, and compare them to our actual laws, as well as the Constitution, the legal document framed by the Founding Fathers, and upon which our laws are actually based? So I did.

Something to think about:

“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”

–      Julius Caesar

Today’s Free Downloads:

Yawcam – Yawcam is a shortening for Yet Another WebCAM software, and that’s exactly what it is ;-) More precise Yawcam is a webcam software for windows written in java. The main ideas for Yawcam are to keep it simple and easy to use but to include all the usual features.

Features:

Video streaming

Image snapshots

Built-in webserver

Motion detection

Ftp-upload

Text and image overlays

Password protection

Online announcements for communities

Scheduler for online time

Time lapse movies

Run as a Windows service

Multi languages

Yawcam is freeware. However, if you enjoy using Yawcam and would like to help support its development, please consider making a donation.

Limitations: Requires Sun Java Runtime Environment installed.

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WhoCrashed Free Home Edition – WhoCrashed reveals the drivers responsible for crashing your computer.

Whenever a computer running Windows suddenly reboots without displaying any notice or blue screen of death, the first thing that is often thought about is a hardware failure. In reality, most crashes are caused by malfunctioning device drivers and kernel modules. In case of a kernel error, most computers running Windows do not show a blue screen unless they are configured to do so. Instead these systems suddenly reboot without any notice.

WhoCrashed shows the drivers which have been crashing your computer with a single click. In most cases it can pinpoint the offending drivers which have been causing misery on your computer system in the past. It does post-mortem crashdump analysis and presents all gathered information in a comprehensible way.

Normally, debugging skills and a set of debugging tools are required to do post-mortem crash dump analysis. By using this utility you do not need any debugging skills to be able to find out what drivers are causing trouble to your computer.

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Lastpass  – The Last Password You’ll Have To Remember.

Lastpass is a freeware password manager that will surely make your browsing a lot easier and much more secure.

Generate strong passwords, knowing you’ll only have to remember one.

Log into your favorite websites with just one click

Access and manage your important data from multiple workstations seamlessly

Share logins with your friends and let others share logins with you

The Universal Windows installer installs browser extensions for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. It also allows you to easily create a LastPass account and import your existing passwords. It’s the best way to install LastPass on Windows. The 64 bit installer includes 32 bit IE installer.

Supports Internet Explorer 8+, Firefox 2.0+, Chrome 18+, Safari 5+, Opera 11+.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Hacking Team apparently violated EU rules in sale of spyware to Russian agency – Newly released e-mails from Hacking Team, the now-embattled Italian spyware firm that sold what it claims is lawful intercept software to companies and governments, definitively show that it sold its Remote Control System surveillance software to the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), the successor agency to the KGB.

Officially, Hacking Team sold its wares to a company called “Advanced Monitoring,” whose corporate parent has a license to work with the FSB, as recently as August 28, 2014. That would put the Italian firm in violation of the July 31, 2014 European Union regulation that forbids selling such technology, whether directly or indirectly, to the Russian military.

It also seems odd that Hacking Team would sell on one side of the Atlantic to Western agencies like the US Army while also selling to the FSB. In its most recent human rights report, the United States Department of State refers to Russia as a “highly centralized, increasingly authoritarian political system.”

The report also notes, “There were allegations government officials and others engaged in electronic surveillance without appropriate authorization and entered residences and other premises without warrants.”

Hacking Team still refuses to say exactly when or why its relationship with its Russian customers stopped.

UK.gov will appeal against DRIPA-busting verdict, says minister – The government has announced it will appeal a High Court judgment which has ruled its DRIPA surveillance legislation unlawful.

The High Court judgment, which was delivered this morning, ruled that the “emergency” DRIPA surveillance legislation rushed through Parliament last year is unlawful.

Responding to the High Court verdict, security minister John Hayes declared: “We disagree absolutely with this judgment and will seek an appeal.”

This may be only the second time in history that the High Court has disapplied primary legislation, a fact which Financial Times legal blogger David Allen Green considers of “huge historical significance.”

Hayes stated that metadata, also known as communications data, “is not just crucial in the investigation of serious crime. It is also a fundamental part of investigating other crimes which still have a severe impact, such as stalking and harassment, as well as locating missing people.”

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Home Secretary Theresa May: Every free citizen’s nightmare

UK government releases plan to jail online pirates for up to 10 years – The UK government has launched a consultation paper on plans to increase the maximum sentence for online pirates from two to 10 years of imprisonment.

The proposed changes to the penalty have been outlined in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Intellectual Property Office’s ‘Changes to penalties for online copyright infringement’ paper (PDF). Under the proposal, this could could mean the penalty for infringing on the rights of copyright holders online will be equivalent to offences relating to the copyright infringement of physical goods.

Currently under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, online pirates only can receive a maximum of two years imprisonment whereas the maximum sentence for the infringement of physical goods of 10 years.

The consultation follows recommendations made in the independent review released in March, the ‘Penalty Fair?’ report (PDF), which saw calls from the creative industries to harmonise online and offline copyright infringement offences, as they suggested online offences should be not seen as less serious than its physical counterparts.

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