Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – July 6, 2015

Steer clear of low-tech hacks: How to keep your information safe;  5 free Wi-Fi tools that help maximize your home network;  14 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know;  Meet the Home Security Camera That Burglars Totally Ignore;  The 10 best Android apps to run on your Chromebook;  How to take dreamy long exposure photos;  The best consumer-grade Wi-Fi extender;  See your own photos through the eyes of Google’s AI;  Surveillance software vendor Hacking Team hacked;  Ransomware Hiding Behind Resumes;  The 10 best PC games of 2015 (so far);  Samsung sued for loading devices with unremovable crapware (in China);  Personal Health In The Digital Age;  Amazon says 20th birthday celebration will be bigger than Black Friday;  GM to offer teen driver tracking to parents;  Why don’t we drive more electric vehicles?  Salient Eye home security alarm mobile app (free);  US government allegedly spied on journalists in Germany;  InternetOff (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Steer clear of low-tech hacks: How to keep your information safe – It doesn’t take a coding genius to steal your Social Security number, but you can be smarter than identity thieves.

5 free Wi-Fi tools that help maximize your home network – Thanks to Wi-Fi every device in your home can easily get online, whether it’s your iPad, desktop PC, the high-definition television in the living room, and maybe even your coffee pot or fridge. But are you getting the most out of your wireless Internet connection? Is it truly as fast as your service provider claims? Are the neighbors screwing up your signal? Do you know how to connect all your various devices together to share files at home? Here are five free Wi-Fi-enhancing tools that can help you answer “yes” to all of those questions.

14 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know – Facebook is a magnet for some of the top engineering talent in the world, so it stands to reason that the company would boast one of the world’s most complex and multi-faceted websites. It rivals many standalone software apps with the sheer amount of personalization, tweaks, and tinkering available to visitors. In fact, there are so many things you can do on Facebook.com that you probably don’t know about them all.

Facebook Tests Features That Make Sharing GIFs In Messenger Easier Than Ever – Facebook really wants you to use GIFs inside Messenger. The company recently unleashed a series of GIF apps from third-parties which work inside Messenger — as part of its Messenger platform initiative — but it is now going beyond that with a series of pilots that bring GIFs right into Messenger without those apps.

Meet the Home Security Camera That Burglars Totally Ignore – For the past eight years, Melanie, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, shared her Chandler, Ariz. home with several roommates. But when she finally got the place to herself this past spring, she felt her newfound privacy came at the cost of security. So, she decided buy a Canary all-in-one home security device, placing it in the bedroom of her 2,000-square-foot house. Here’s the footage from Melanie’s Canary, provided by the company and posted here with Melanie’s permission:

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The 10 best Android apps to run on your Chromebook – Android and Chrome are better together. Google continues to tie the laces between the two operating systems, giving developers—and adventurous everyday users—the tools to put Android apps on Chrome OS. Be warned: This effort is definitely in the early stages, so if you’re uncomfortable with running into some glitches along the way then it may be best to tread very slowly before trying to turn your Chromebook into a second home for all your Android apps.

How to take dreamy long exposure photos – Long exposure photography is a great technique to play with and lends itself particularly to clouds moving across landscapes, waves crashing onto rocky shores, or busy night-time city streets. It doesn’t even require expensive kit or hours of training to get started. Read through this guide to find out how you can create your own slow shutter masterpieces.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Reddit’s Subreddits Pop Back Online After Brief Protest – That didn’t take long. A sea of protests recently hit the popular social sharing site Reddit, resulting in a number of the more popular subreddits going private—including many of those that new users are subscribed to, by default, when they join the site. However, many of these subreddits are now back online; the protest, it seems, was a bit more of a sneeze than a siege. As of Saturday morning, all of these 50 default subreddits were online. That’s not to say that the small protest wasn’t extraordinarily successful at getting attention, though.

Petition for Pao resignation from Reddit grows to 130K – An online petition calling for the resignation of Ellen Pao, Reddit’s interim CEO, has attracted more than 130,000 signatures, growing rapidly in the past two days since the dismissal of a key administrator at the community-curated news site. The Change.org petition describes a lack of confidence in Pao, who petition organizers accuse of ushering in “a new age of censorship” and worry that she will “run Reddit into the ground.” The petition, which was launched three weeks ago, grew from 16,000 signatures on Friday to more than 130,000 two days later after the alleged firing of Victoria Taylor, one of the social news site’s highest profile administrators.

Browsy Is a Fullscreen, Distraction-Free Browser for iOS – Browsy’s main pitch is it’s fullscreen, distraction-free view. Basically, load up a web page and you’re treated with a great fullscreen view for easy browsing. No URL bar, no buttons, nothing. Beyond that Browsy also has some clever DuckDuckGo integration that adds some Omnibar tricks, and a useful “Keep screen awake” button that comes in handy if you’re reading recipes or how-to guides. It’s not going to replace Safari or Chrome by any means, but it does have its uses if you’re looking for a simpler browser.

The best consumer-grade Wi-Fi extender – After spending a total of 110 hours researching 25 different Wi-Fi extenders (and testing 10 of them), plus analyzing reviews and owner feedback, we found that the $100 Netgear EX6200 is the best Wi-Fi extender for most people right now.  It costs as much as a great router and it shouldn’t be the first thing you try to fix your Wi-Fi range, but it has the best combination of range, speed, flexibility, and physical connections of any extender we tested.

Image reveals BlackBerry’s new Android slider with dual-curved display – BlackBerry’s new handset features a slide-out keyboard, and has apparently been revealed in a leaked image, showing a Galaxy S6 edge-style dual-curved display, and what seems to be stock Android.

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See your own photos through the eyes of Google’s AI – Last month the trippy so-called “dream” photos created by Google’s Artificial Neural Networks took the Internet by storm, and the response was split down the middle: some found the photos, which include things like a “pig-snail” and random faces, to be fun and creative while others found them creepy. If you’re skewed toward the former group and want to see what your own photos look like through the eyes of AI, you’re in luck. A new tool gives you a peek.

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Security:

Surveillance software vendor Hacking Team hacked – Italian surveillance software slingers Hacking Team has allegedly been cracked by hackers, who exfiltrated some 400Gbs of data. The plunder has been uploaded to BitTorrent in a monstrous listing of directories, allegedly including audio recordings, emails, and source code. Hacking Team sells the Da Vinci malware surveillance software to law enforcement agencies claiming to only deal with ethical governments. It is marked as an Enemy of the Internet by activist outfit Reporters Without Borders. The trove also allegedly reveals all Hacking Team customers and when they purchased the software. The company is said to count Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Lebanon among its customers.

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Tasty Spam: Ransomware Hiding Behind Resumes – Criminals are getting creative about getting users to open up malicious file attachments in emails. Cloudmark tells us what warning signs to look for the next time a resume lands in your inbox.

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China hacks ‘everything that doesn’t move’ says Hilary Clinton – In widely-reported remarks made at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Clinton said China is “ … trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America. Stealing commercial secrets … from defence contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage.” Any aspiring commander in chief needs to sound credible on foreign policy, so Clinton’s remarks are to be expected and are likely intended for a domestic audience as much as they are for Chinese ears. China, of course, says the same about America and can point to the works of one E. Snowden, late of Moscow, when asked for proof about its statements. Clinton’s not backed her remarks with new information, although her status as a former secretary of state gives her comments a little extra weight.

Plex hacker demands Bitcoin ransom for return of data – Video streaming service Plex has reset user passwords after it was breached by a hacker who threatened to release stolen data unless he’s paid a ransom. Someone going by the nickname “Savata” claimed responsibility for the breach and threatened to release the data on torrent networks if a ransom wasn’t paid in bitcoins. Savata asked for 9.5 bitcoins ($2,400) but wrote that the ransom would increase to 14.5 bitcoins if it wasn’t paid by Friday, according to a copy of the message posted on Reddit. “I don’t care who the BTC comes from as long as the payment is made: no data will be released,” Savata wrote.

Presidential hopeful Trump wants to keep this country safe, but can’t even keep your credit card safe – In case you missed it, Donald Trump has thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming presidential race. Apparently, that means he’s far too busy to make sure his hotel chain has adequate network security in place. The Trump Hotel Collection has just reported that their credit card processing system has been breached. Executive VP Eric Trump downplayed the situation, saying “like virtually every other company these days, we have been alerted to potential suspicious credit card activity.” So yeah, it’s no big deal that the credit card you used to secure your $500-per-night hotel room in SoHo may have been snatched by criminals. It’s happening to everyone.

Company News:

Samsung sued for loading devices with unremovable crapware (in China) – ShanghaiDaily reports that in China, Samsung will have some explaining to do about the amount of crapware it ships in its smartphones. The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission has sued Samsung (and Chinese OEM Oppo) for loading up devices with crapware. The commission studied 20 smartphones and said that many pre-installed apps were un-removable and eat into customers’ data plans. The commission specifically calls out the Galaxy Note 3, which had 44 apps installed (stock KitKat with the full Google Play suite ships with 31 apps) and the Oppo Find 7a, which had a whopping 71 apps.

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Samsung’s app selection from the Galaxy S5.

Startup Sues A Domain Name Owner To Grab A 16-Year-Old URL – Jason Kneen is a programmer and happens to own about a hundred domain names picked up over a sixteen year period. One of those, workbetter.com, he purchased in 1999 and it has been available on his site for years. In late April 2014 a company, OfficeLinks, approached him about buying the domain for use as a URL for their co-working space. It’s a tale old as the Internet: someone has and idea and the URL is taken. The owner and the startup hash out a deal and sometimes those deals fall through. When that happens most startups head back to the drawing board. For OfficeLinks, however, it was straight to the lawyers.

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Amazon says 20th birthday celebration will be bigger than Black Friday – To celebrate its 20th birthday, Amazon is introducing Prime Day, a “global shopping event” that the retail giant says will offer more deals than Black Friday. The deals will become available at midnight ET on July 15th, but will only be available to Amazon Prime customers in the US, the UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria. Amazon says new deals will be introduced as fast as every ten minutes, and will come from every product category, from clothing to electronics.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 best PC games of 2015 (so far) – I don’t want to blow your mind, but it’s already July. I know. Crazy. And it’s been one hell of a year so far for video games— The Witcher 3! Kerbal Space Program! Grim Effin’ Fandango! Phew. We’re on track already to have one of those years—you know, like 1998. Or 2007. And we haven’t even entered the fall reviews season yet, where we’ll see heavy hitters this year like Fallout 4 and SOMA. So while there’s still time to catch our breath, let’s take a look back at the first six months of 2015—and the best PC games so far this year (in no particular order).

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Book of Unwritten Tales 2

Nintendo to aim for a “free-to-start” mobile gaming model – By announcing its plans to start a presence on mobile, Nintendo has practically sealed its fate in that part of the market. But, as with many advanced announcement, details of those plans haven’t been fleshed out or, in some cases, might be totally non-existent. Nintendo isn’t divulging much of its plans for the future but, at a recent shareholders’ meeting, CEO Satoru Iwata revealed one aspect of its mobile business plan. It wants to distance itself from the negative image of “free-to-play” and will instead adopt a “free-to-start” business model. In other words, we’re back to the days of demoware.

Play Pong Inside Microsoft Bing – Microsoft is now wading into the black-and-white waters of Pong. If you head over to Bing and search for Pong, you’ll be able to play a very simple version of the game right in your browser. Yes, you’re playing against the computer and, yes, it’s classic Pong—nothing crazy, just paddles and a ball. Still, it’s…fun? The game appears to work in all browsers. The first to five is the winner, but you can always click to play again, and again, and again.

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Mojang unveils new “Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta” – If you are an avid fan of Microsoft-owned Mojang’s “Minecraft”, you’ll be pleased to hear that the company has announced a new version of the game designed specially for Windows 10 PCs. Aptly named as “Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta”, this game will make its way to the Windows Store on the 29th of July, the same day Windows 10 launches.

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Netflix’s Lemony Snicket trailer isn’t for the squeamish – Hot on the camp trail of “Wet Hot America Summer,” Netflix is now out with a teaser for its take on “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a young-adult book series that combines dark humor and fantasy elements. The trailer is full of icky critters, from spiders flooding out of a gramophone to a toothy leech creature flailing in a jar. There’s some bug-squishing action and plenty of wriggling worms. It should get fans plenty excited about the new adaptatation.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Solar Impulse breaks record for longest sun-powered flight – The 4,000-mile leg — considered one of the most dangerous because there was no immediate landing zone if the plane ran into trouble — set a record for the world’s longest solar-powered flight both in terms of time and distance. It also was the longest solo flight by time. But the landing also furthers Solar Impulse’s larger mission: to legitimize the possibility of zero-fuel airplanes in the future. While there are no plans to bring a solar-powered airplane to the passenger industry anytime soon, the Solar Impulse 2 presents a possible alternative to fuel-guzzling airplanes.

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Personal Health In The Digital Age – We live in the digital age. You know that already. Two out of three Americans are now smartphone owners, and more than 86 percent of the population is connected online. But while digital has permeated everything from our social lives to how we work and how we shop, it is only starting to touch how we manage health.

GM to offer teen driver tracking to parents – GM has announced that it will be offering a way for parents to track their teens’ driving behavior in order to help cut down on accidents. The new system can be set to track the distance driven, the maximum speed traveled, any over-speed warnings issued during a drive, stability control events, antilock brake events, forward collision alerts and forward-collision braking events (if the vehicle is equipped to offer them).

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The Teen Driver system will be displayed as a report card on the MyLink telematics system.

Adam Smith was right about that invisible hand, you know – We have a nice little empirical proof that Adam Smith really was right about us all being guided by that invisible hand. Yeah, I know, you’re sooo tired of the free market maniac telling you that governments are all wet and laissez faire is where it should be. Except that’s not something Smith ever said nor is it what he meant by ‘invisible hand’. What he did mean was this from Barry Ritholtz:

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Remy Martin puts NFC chip in its Cognac to prove they are genuine – How do you tell a fine, authentic cognac from some knockoff in a fake bottle? Right now that requires a keen eye and an interest in cognac, but in the near future it might only require a smartphone with an NFC chip. Premium alcohol maker Rémy Martin has started production of a new “connected” bottle with an NFC tag to guarantee freshness and authenticity. Truly this is the future.

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See winning National Geographic nature photos snapped by kids – Kids between the ages of 9 and 17 are showing off their camera talents with a collection of pictures capturing crackling light bulbs, swarming ocean life and a curious young sea lion. National Geographic Kids selected 10 winning images taken by youthful photographers to display at the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C. The pictures rotate inside a digital frame and represent a wide spectrum of both natural and man-made subjects.

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A brightly painted swing ride opens up into the sky like an overgrown flower in this photo taken by 15-year-old Jordana Collins.

Why don’t we drive more electric vehicles? – One of the more challenging jobs the auto industry has right now is explaining to consumers that the future isn’t going to be like the past. We desperately need to reduce vehicle carbon emissions in order to avoid turning the planet into a hellscape, and that means turning to cars with some kind of energy storage other than hydrocarbons we’ve dug up from the ground and then distilled. That’s where people get confused and the message stalls, a problem laid out in a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences.

Something to think about:

“Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.”

–       Hermann Goering ‘On War And The People’

Today’s Free Downloads:

Salient Eye home security alarm mobile app – Salient Eye Turns your spare android smartphone into a motion detector burglar alarm system! The app uses the phone’s camera as a motion-sensor. Your phone will capture photos of intruders moving in front of the camera and will instantly send them to you. Once sufficient evidence has been collected, your phone will also sound a noisy alarm.

With “SalientEye Remote Control” app you can start and stop the Salient Eye without touching the device,it runs on.

You can leave a device with Salient Eye security system installed at the

position you want, connected to charger and no longer touch it.

You can control the alarm from your primary device.

Main features:

Push notifications on motion detection events.

Start/Stop Salient Eye on the other device

Get Current picture from Salient Eye on the other device

Connect as many remotes and as many salient eye devices as you wish.

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InternetOff  – InternetOff is a free tool that allows you to quickly turn off\on your internet connection from the system tray.

Why it’s needed:

The main and inherent problem with always being online is that you are too connected. Twitter, RSS feeds, YouTube video, answering email or IM message… And again from the start of the list. You only react on those “incoming” things instead of act. When you go offline all those distractions disappear. There’s no Twitter. No chat. No web. Only you and your tasks. Since you cannot consume you have to create so that something happens.

InternetOff allows you to quickly turn off the internet so that you can go offline. When you need the connection, you can enable the internet easily for some period (and it will be automatically turned off) or permanently in just two clicks. Besides the program lets you password protect access to the internet.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US government allegedly spied on journalists in Germany – Evidence that the US government has spied on German officials is sadly commonplace, but now it appears that the Obama administration’s efforts went beyond government officials. Der Spiegel says it has filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutors office wherein it claims its journalists were the victims of a spying campaign, based on documents it has obtained.

At the same time, CNN is also reporting that it has obtained evidence that the US government spied on Der Spiegel. Jake Tapper tells the story of a US official who could have been representing either the CIA or NSA going to the German government’s intelligence coordinator, Günter Heiss, and demanding he do something about a deputy (Hans-Josef Vorbeck) who was supposedly leaking information to the press. In response, Heiss reportedly traveled to Washington to discuss the alleged leaks and his government opened a file about “U.S. protocols of intercepted communications between Vorbeck and journalists.” The incidents took place back in 2011, well before the Snowden leaks revealed the extent of the US government’s spying to the world. Vorbeck was apparently reassigned, though at The Intercept reports the alleged reasoning for the reassignment is only now coming to light.

Canadians Seek to Halt Fair Elections Act, Compare It to Voter Suppression in the US – Young and Indigenous voters could have a harder time casting ballots in Canada’s fall election thanks to the contentious new Fair Elections Act. On Thursday, two groups went to court to ask a judge for an urgent injunction to put the Act on hold.

“The public confidence in the election may hang in the balance,” Steven Shrybman, a lawyer representing the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), told the Ontario Superior Court Thursday afternoon.

The Fair Elections Act, which the applicants compared to voter suppression efforts in the US, removes the ability of electors to use voter information cards they receive through the mail, and could prevent tens of thousands of Canadians from casting ballots in the upcoming Oct. 19 election, Shrybman argued.

“The tenor of all this is basically, we don’t want you to vote,” Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, told VICE outside the court Thursday afternoon. “Our other concern is that fewer people are voting every year.”

Only 39 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 25 voted in the last election, she pointed out.

“This kind of legislation basically says: you’re not welcome, don’t bother. And that’s the big concern—that it’s just anti-democratic,” she argued. “It dissuades people from voting.”

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 3, 2015

6 Secret Tricks For Photographing Fireworks With Your Phone;  Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: Who best fits your video streaming needs?  21 Spotify Tricks That Will Make You a Streaming Samurai;  Chicago adds ‘amusement tax’ to services like Netflix and Hulu;   Hacktivist group possibly compromised hundreds of websites;   Here’s How India Is Getting Serious About Wi-Fi;  Best mobile games of June 2015 (pictures);   Snapchat update gives your finger a rest;  Swappa Price helps you determine how much a device is worth;   6 Must-Know Tricks for Mastering Apple Music ;  7 common iOS problems and how to fix them (pictures);  Which version of Windows 10 is for you? Microsoft’s feature chart will help you decide;  How Ads Follow You from Phone to Desktop to Tablet;  This Chrome Bug Makes It Hard to Tell If You’re on the Real Facebook;  Sources say WB knew Arkham Knight PC was horribly broken;  Fix the Cloud, or Give Up;  AVG LinkScanner (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

6 Secret Tricks For Photographing Fireworks With Your Phone – Firework photography is like the fish that got away. Every summer (or New Year’s Eve), you think you’ve finally mastered your smartphone camera chops to snap a magnificent cascade of falling sparks, only to be left with a camera roll full of blurs. But this year, with just a little advance planning, maybe you’ll finally reel in the big one, whether it’s a golden horsetail, a fiery chrysanthemum, or a sparkling peony. (Those are all firework effects, not fish names.) Here’s how to take great fireworks photos with just your smartphone:

Snapchat update gives your finger a rest – A tweak to the popular messaging app lets you view snaps without having to hold down your finger. It also includes an extra layer of security and new ways to add friends.

6 Must-Know Tricks for Mastering Apple Music – The $9.99-per-month service is trying to beat competitors like Spotify and Google Play Music by cramming in as many features as possible: access to 30 million songs on demand, playlists curated by music experts, algorithmically powered radio stations and a live radio station like the ones you hear on the classic FM dial. All those features add up to make Apple Music an incredibly powerful app, but also one that can be pretty challenging to navigate. Here are five quick tips to make the experience a bit more seamless:

CyanogenMod team shows off Gello, a customizable browser based on Chromium – The newest Android browser project has a lot of security settings, making it ideal for the privacy conscious. Based off open-source Chromium, it’s still a work in progress. And Cyanogen hasn’t shared whether it will only work on devices powered by its operating system variant or if it will end up in the Play Store. The video gives you a pretty good idea, however, of how it will look and perform.

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Not everyone will get Windows 10 on its July 29th release date – It sounds as though Windows Insiders — who are already testing Windows 10 — will be able to receive the update on July 29th. After that, people who have gone through the Windows 10 reservation process will begin to receive the ability to update to the new OS. When the rollout hits them, Windows 10 will download to their computers before they’re presented with the option to update. It actually seems like a smooth and sensible update process, even if it may disappoint some who were hoping to jump in right on day one. Microsoft doesn’t state how long it expects the rollout to take.

Which version of Windows 10 is for you? Microsoft’s feature chart will help you decide – Later this month, Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 and for consumers who want to know the differences between Home and Pro SKUs, the company has released a new chart that will make the decision a bit easier. Posted below is the chart that details the differences between Windows 10 Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education. For the enterprise, there is only one option and the same goes for education, so this chart is most beneficial to the consumer to see if they need the Home or Pro SKU.

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Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 10162 ISOs ahead of release to Slow Ring – Microsoft released build 10162 to the fast ring just yesterday marking the 3rd build in just four days. With the weekend approaching, they have decided to make the ISOs available ahead of the Slow Ring release, which we are expecting to drop next week. If you have been waiting on the ISO’s to perform a clean install, you can download those now.

Swappa Price helps you determine how much a device is worth – A new app from Swappa, a website for buying and selling used smartphones, wants to take the pain out of determining the value of your old smartphones.

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21 Spotify Tricks That Will Make You a Streaming Samurai – Spotify’s a magical, minimalist piece of software that beams all the world’s recorded music (well, nearly all the world’s recorded music) directly to his computer. For free! Of course, users have the option of upgrading to Spotify Premium, which ditches the ads and allows for offline and restriction-free smartphone and tablet listening. Or they can just do what most users do (including a certain baby boomer I know) and rent out their earholes to Spotify’s advertisers for complimentary access. But regardless of how you listen, you may not be taking full advantage of what Spotify has to offer.

7 common iOS problems and how to fix them (pictures) – Let’s face it, our phones aren’t perfect. They can be slow, have trouble powering on, and suffer from terrible battery life. These are some quick fixes for some of the most common problems iPhone and iPad owners face.

GarageBand can now upload songs straight to Apple Music Connect – Apple is trying to make it easier for artists to go from creating a song to getting it in front of fans. It updated GarageBand this week to allow for tracks to be published from the app into Apple Music’s Connect section, a social area that allows artists to post news, photos, and songs.

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Apple Music Is Cheaper Depending on Where You Live – Apple Music may cost about $10 per month in the United States, but that’s not the case everywhere. The music streaming service, which rolls out in more than 100 countries this week, is considerably cheaper in parts of Asia and South America. In India, a subscription will cost about $2 per month, according to Quartz. In Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand, the cost is about $5. These countries also have the group membership subscription, which costs $15 in the U.S., offered at a similar discount.

Skype for Business preview gets meeting broadcasts and more – Microsoft has announced a new Skype for Business technical preview available for Office 365 enterprise users. The preview ushers in a trio of new features, two of which are limited to customers located in the United States. The new Skype Meeting Broadcast is perhaps the most notable change for enterprise users, allowing customers worldwide to broadcast a meeting taking place over Skype for Business to up to 10,000 users across multiple devices.

Microsoft updates Health, support for Golf now rolling out – Microsoft has updated its Health app for Windows Phone users and has added Golf support to the app; the update is rolling out now and should be arriving on your device shortly.

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How to use PPAs to install bleeding-edge software in Ubuntu and Linux Mint – PPAs are a great way for Linux users to install software that’s unavailable in central repositories, but carry some risks you need to be aware of.

There’s even an app for dogs and cats scared of fireworks – Fireworks and other loud noises account for nearly 20% of missing pets, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The ASPCA Pet Safety app shows pet owners ways to search for a lost animal that are tailored to the pet’s personality and where the pet went missing. It also helps an owner create a digital lost pet flyer to share quickly over a user’s social networks. Tips for ensuring a pet’s safety are included, as well as a place to store medical information and other vital stats about a pet. There’s even a field to store a pet’s specific embedded identity chip number for quick reference in an emergency.

Turn multi-page web articles into a single, scrolling page with this extension – Autopagerize is an add-on for Chrome and Firefox that automatically loads the next page as you scroll.

Reddit Moderators Are Locking Up The Site’s Most Popular Pages In Protest – The moderators behind a number of the most popular subreddits on the site — which is known as the front page of internet — have made their communities private, thus shutting them off from the internet, in protest of the departure of a key Reddit staffer and ongoing poor communications.

Security:

How Ads Follow You from Phone to Desktop to Tablet – Advertisers are increasingly using technology that targets users across multiple devices, and it’s working. For advertisers, the process is divine in its own right. Over the past year, companies have substantially and successfully stepped up repeat ad targeting to the same user across home and work computers, smart phones and tablets. With little fanfare, the strategy is fast becoming the new norm.

Media Server Company Plex Hacked – Forum Servers Affected, But Payment Info Safe – Plex, a popular application that lets users organize and stream their media collections across devices, has been hacked. However, the attackers were only able to compromise the servers hosting the company’s forums and blog – not account information or users’ financial data, the latter which Plex says is not stored on its own servers at all. That being said, many Plex users had forum accounts which are linked to their Plex.tv account, which means that both accounts have been compromised as a result of the attack. As a precaution, Plex is blocking those users from accessing their accounts until they complete a password reset.

This Chrome Bug Makes It Hard to Tell If You’re on the Real Facebook – Is the website you’re looking at on your screen really the website you wanted to visit? Thanks to a newly-discovered bug in Google’s Chrome browser, the answer to that question might sometimes be “no.” Security researchers have found a bug in Chrome that allows a website to spoof its address, essentially pretending to be a different web page. Mustafa Al-Bassam, a computer science student at King’s College London and former member of the Anonymous hacking offshoot LulzSec, created a demo to showcase how the bug can be exploited, making a webpage that pretends to be Facebook.com, but isn’t.

LG won’t fix malware slinging bloatware update hole – The the Budapest University of Technology and Economics’ Security Evaluation and Research Laboratory (SEARCH-LAB) says “malicious attackers controlling the network are able to install arbitrary applications” on LG’s Android phones, thanks to a flaw in their software update mechanism. The Lab says the flaw impacts “all Android based LG Smart Phones”, thanks to the “Update Centre” LG installs on its hardware to handle upgrades to the non-standard apps it uses to pollute handsets with bloatware add value in a crowded market. SEARCH-LAB says it informed LG of the flaw in November 2014. LG users can defend themselves by disabling the automatic update feature and only installing updates over trusted WiFi connections.

Harvard Reveals It Had An IT Breach In June Impacting 8 Colleges And Administrations – A seventeenth-century university has become the victim of a twenty-first-century crime. Harvard University on Wednesday announced that on June 19, it discovered a breach in the IT systems of its Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Central Administration, currently impacting eight different schools and administrative organizations at the university. A copy of the memo from Anne Margulies, VP and Harvard’s CIO, announcing the intrusion to one of the groups affected, students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is copied at the end of this post. It was quietly sent out in the evening on July 1 — not “burying the news on a Friday afternoon” time but also not at a peak time, either.

Coordinated attack cuts high-capacity fiber optic internet lines for 11th time this year – The FBI is looking into the latest act of vandalism on fiber optic internet lines in California, which took place earlier this week. For the 11th time this year, vandals gained access to high-capacity fiber optic cables and cut them, causing widespread service outages in the San Francisco area. The FBI is calling this a coordinated attack in which three different cables were severed around the same time. The cables damaged in this attack belonged to Level 3 Communications and Zayo, both of which are Tier 1 network operators. That means they transport large amounts of data across the internet backbone so it can filter down to ISPs and customers. That means the outage affected many other companies and individuals, which is probably exactly what the attackers wanted.

Hacktivist group possibly compromised hundreds of websites – So far the group has published the names of over 450 websites, but claims that it has hacked many more. The alleged victims range from companies to education institutions and government organizations from different countries. Based on its Twitter messages so far, the group’s goal is to demonstrate “how truly deplorable cybersecurity has become” and that Internet security has not improved despite a flood of security technologies and products in recent years. The group published only partial information from the databases that it claims to have compromised, because it wants “to prove that they have indeed been infiltrated and to raise awareness.”

Company News:

PayPal Agrees to Buy Xoom for $890 Million – Xoom, a San Francisco-based online money transfer technology and services company that went public in 2013, is being acquired by PayPal for $25 per share in cash or $890 million. The price represents a 32 percent premium over Xoom’s three-month volume-weighted average price. As stated in a PayPal-issued release about the tie-up, “Acquiring Xoom allows PayPal to offer a broader range of services to our global customer base, increase customer engagement and enter an important and growing adjacent marketplace. Xoom’s presence in 37 countries – in particular, Mexico, India, the Philippines, China and Brazil – will help us accelerate our expansion in these important markets.”

HP officially files to spin off enterprise division – Hewlett-Packard has filed paperwork to register HP Enterprise as an independent company, an official step on the path to splitting itself in two. The paperwork, called a Form 10, was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday and provides a look at how the divisions that will make up HP Enterprise performed financially over the past few years. It shows a business that made a profit of $1.6 billion last year on revenue of $55.1 billion, down from a profit of $2.1 billion on revenue of $57.4 billion in 2013.

Sprint teams up with leading UK retail group Dixons Carphone to open 500 new stores in US – Dixons Carphone is one of the UK’s largest retail groups, as well as being one of Europe’s top retailers of mobile hardware and services, with operations in 11 countries. The group has enjoyed considerable success in the UK with its Carphone Warehouse and Currys PC World retail brands, and it’s now going to be applying some of its knowledge and experience in the hotly-contested US market. Dixons Carphone announced today that it has agreed a partnership with US carrier Sprint, with plans to open hundreds of retail stores.

Facebook starts sharing video ad revenue, but there’s a catch – For the first time ever, Facebook has decided that it will share as much as 55 percent of ad revenue to video creators whose content will have some video ads attached to it. While this seems like a move to encourage more video makers to upload to the social networking site instead of, say, YouTube, the arrangement isn’t as clear cut as it seems. In particular, Facebook’s revenue sharing setup might actually be less favorable to the advertisers that will be the source of that monetary incentive.

Microsoft buries hatchet with Kyocera, ending litigation – Microsoft and Kyocera have put an end to a patent spat that began earlier this year by expanding a patent cross-licensing deal between them. In a tersely worded, four-sentence press release Thursday, the companies said the licensing deal would enable them to use “a broader range of each other’s technologies in their respective products.” Beyond that, the terms were not disclosed.

Games and Entertainment:

Best mobile games of June 2015 (pictures) – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in June 2015.

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The second game by Bastion’s developer Supergiant is filled with beautiful pathos.

Pre-ordering Fallout 4 on Xbox One gets users Fallout 3 too – Back in during all the madness of E3 last month, when developer Bethesda first announced Fallout 4, they also mentioned that those who buy the Xbox One version of the game would get a free downloadable copy of 2008’s Fallout 3. Other details were slim at that time, such as if the deal required the purchase of the limited edition of Fallout 4, or for how long the offer would be available. Bethesda has now cleared the air on things, with a blog post detailing how Xbox One gamers can score the series’ previous entry.

July PlayStation Plus Free Games Lineup Revealed – “Prepare yourselves for a free games lineup the likes of which you’ve (probably) never seen!” Sony’s Ryan Clements wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “We’ve got rocket-powered cars, stealthy goblins, science cats, and even a little dab of arthouse wonder for good measure.” On PlayStation 4, you’ll get four titles, including the multiplayer arcade game Rocket League, fantasy stealth game Styx: Master of Shadows, and puzzler Mousecraft. If that’s not enough, you can also “embark upon an adventure that spans nine lifetimes” with Entwined.

Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: Who best fits your video streaming needs? – Both companies offer ways to watch TV shows free of their original networks, and both have advantages and disadvantages. Obviously you don’t have to choose just one, unless you’re in some kind of weird Saw-style deathtrap and a homicidal maniac is making you, but we thought it would be valuable to put these two streaming media titans up against each other and see who comes out on top. Place your bets and let’s see who wins the hotly contested battle of Netflix vs. Hulu.

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Bing Pong is Microsoft’s own search engine game – At some point Google thought it would be fun to turn its logo into a game, and since then we’ve seen different browser-based games that can be played directly on the search engine’s website. Microsoft has decided to do something similar with its own search engine, but it is starting small: with Pong, which involves just two paddles and a square ball bouncing between them. It is the same as the classic game, and can be found simply by searching for it.

Pluto TV, An Online Video Service Targeting Cord Cutters, Will Stream Hulu – Up-and-coming video streaming service aimed at cord cutters, Pluto.TV, will now be distributing Hulu’s free content, thanks to a new distribution agreement between the two companies. For Pluto TV, the addition means its service will now be able to offer a wider variety of mainstream fare, including popular shows from networks like ABC, NBC, and Fox. The deal was first reported by Variety, which noted that the content will include a variety of current and older shows, like “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Saturday Night Live”; as well as “Seinfeld,” “Star Trek,” “Cheers,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Happy Days,” for example.

After 55 Million Downloads, Dots Gets A Major Upgrade – Dots, the incredibly basic but addicting mobile game created by gaming studio Playdots, is getting its first major upgrade in over a year. Dots now features three new themes: Space, Mod Synth, and Desert. There’s also a custom “Designer” option if users prefer to select their own dot and background color palate. The goal of the game is simple — connect same-colored dots, vertically and horizontally, to rack up as many points as possible while a timer counts down 60 seconds.

Sources say WB knew Arkham Knight PC was horribly broken – The launch of Batman: Arkham Knight was a disaster, at least for PC owners. Now it might be even more of a PR disaster for publisher Warner Bros. Although the company issued an apology to owners and fans after pulling the game out of sales, it seems it might just be a well-worded cover up. Numerous sources, including the games’ testers, are now saying that Warner Bros. was fully aware of the issues that the PC version faced, but decided to ship it at the same time anyway.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Facebook to beam the Internet from the sky using lasers – When your core business is essentially dependent on the Internet, it makes sense that you’d want everyone to have access to the Internet as well. Google has its Project Loon and Facebook has Internet.org. Of course, those are lofty goals, but the question is always “how”. Unlike Google’s balloons, Facebook will be using satellites, drones, and lasers. Yes, lasers. Mark Zuckerberg has just posted online, on his Facebook account no less, a teaser of what’s to come, with lasers being shot from the sky to deliver the Internet, and Facebook, to everyone.

Here’s How India Is Getting Serious About Wi-Fi – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to make sure his country’s population can get fast Internet as soon as possible. In fact, he’s pumping $18 billion into a campaign called “digital week,” which plans to do just that. The move comes after Wi-Fi became available at the iconic Taj Mahal palace for the first time. The plan’s goal is to create over 100 million jobs for Indian citizens.

Chicago adds ‘amusement tax’ to services like Netflix and Hulu – Chicago is about to become a little less welcoming to cord cutters, with the city authorizing an ‘amusement tax’ on online streaming services like Netflix and Pandora. Under this, subscribers are going to be paying a 9-percent tax on their various cloud-based streaming entertainment services, as well as for the ‘privilege’ of playing games online. This is the expansion of the existing amusement tax which was previously applied to things like buying concert tickets, and it will apply to businesses as well.

Firefighters use drone to help rescue stranded rafters – Firefighters in the town of Mechanic Falls, Maine, have successfully used a drone in a river rescue operation. Earlier this week, two young men aged 12 and 18 became stranded on a rock in the middle of some fast-moving rapids, says the local fire department, but only the younger of the pair was equipped with a life jacket. While rescuers began setting up an inflatable dinghy to retrieve the young men, Fire Chief Frank Roma used his DJI Phantom 3 to fly a haul line out to them. The unnamed 18-year-old then used this to pull in a life jacket before the tricky rescue operation began.

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Vinyl records are still riding that big comeback wave, sales up 38% in a year – Who’s leading the charge on all that vinyl? None other than the music industry’s favorite singer-songwriter Taylor Swift with her album 1989, which sold 33,500 LPs. Following behind Swift on the vinyl chart is Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, The Arctic Monkeys’ AM (released in 2013), Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color, and in fifth place, none other than Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, which sold 23,200 copies in 2015. Also interesting is that Nielsen found that digital album sales were flat compared to last year, and digital track sales were down 10.4 percent. Unsurprisingly, CD sales were down 10 percent.

Jimmy Kimmel mocks Apple fanboys’ need to give company money – Technically Incorrect: The talk show host claims to reveal Apple’s latest product. It costs $20 a month. But it’s basically just a donation to Apple.

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18 Striking Photos Taken With an iPhone – In the slideshow, take a gander at the grandeur of what can be captured by a talented photog using the same kind of camera you probably have in your pocket. These are the first place winners in each of the IPPAWARDS’ categories. Get inspired. Take some shots. You might be the next winner.

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Chevrolet adds “Active Phone Cooling” to next-gen vehicles – Chevrolet is the first automotive company to bring “Active Phone Cooling” to vehicles. This is a sort of air conditioner for your phone, made to keep your device cool when you’re using it for high-power-requirement tasks like turn-by-turn directions with online maps, and music streaming. “Innovation doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel,” said Impala engineer Dan Lascu, “Sometimes simplicity offers the most elegant solution to a problem.” The solution in this case is giving the smartphone its own little handy-dandy super-cool compartment where it can rest easy.

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Fix the Cloud, or Give Up – I’ve long had mixed feelings about online subscription services and the cloud in general, especially when its usefulness pales in comparison to workstation-centric computing. OpinionsIf I can buy 5TB of portable hard disk storage for $150, why should I be spending $10 a month for sub-terabyte cloud storage for my backups? Offsite storage safety? Well, I can keep the backup drive in a safe deposit box at the bank, the trunk of the car, at a friend’s house, or in a fireproof safe at home.

Something to think about:

“You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality”

–       Ayn Rand

Today’s Free Downloads:

AVG LinkScanner – Nowadays, there are far more threats out there than plain viruses. You have probably come across the term spyware as well, however, authors of malicious codes and dangerous websites are very innovative, and new kinds of threats emerge quite often, the vast majority of which are on the Internet. Here are some of the most common:

Exploit is a malicious code that takes advantage of a flaw or vulnerability in an operating system, Internet browser, or other essential program.

Social engineering is a common term for various techniques used to trick people into giving away their personal information (passwords, bank account details, credit card numbers etc.). A typical example of social engineering is phishing – an attempt to acquire sensitive personal data by shamming a trustworthy and well-known organization. Usually, the potential victims are contacted by a bulk e-mail asking them to e.g. update their bank account details. In order to do that, they are invited to follow the link provided which then leads to a fake website of the bank.

Scam can be also considered a kind of social engineering; it includes false job offers, or ones that will abuse the workers for illegal activities, summons to withdraw a large sum of money, fraudulent lotteries and the like.

Hoax is a bulk e-mail containing dangerous, alarming or just bothering and useless information. Many of the above threats use hoax e-mail messages to spread.

Finally, malicious websites are ones that deliberately install malicious software on your computer, and hacked sites do just the same, only these are legitimate websites that have been compromised into infecting visitors.

AVG LinkScanner is here to protect you from all these online threats.

AVG LinkScanner is up and running immediately from the moment of installation. All basic settings have been pre-set by the manufacturer, so most of the time you will not have to worry about anything – just let AVG work in the background and protect you without any effort on your part. However, there might be situations where you need to adjust the program settings, or decide what to do with a virus infected file; this help system is here to provide detailed information and assist you with any task.

Get AVG LinkScanner and enhance your online protection!

NetGear Genie – NetGear Genie is a dashboard to manage, monitor and repair your network.

With it you can remotely control all media in your home from your smartphone/tablet with MyMedia, print on any printer from your iPad or iPhone with AirPrint, view all the devices on your network and more.

Easy dashboard to manage, monitor and repair your network

My Media—Find and play music and video files anywhere in your network from your smartphone/tablet

Makes any printer AirPrint® compatible so you can print from an iPad® or iPhone®

Now with EZ Mobile Connect securely connect smartphones and tablets to your home wireless network with the scan of a QR code.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

GCHQ did spy on Amnesty International, secret tribunal admits – The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which provides oversight for UK intelligence services, admitted yesterday that its judgement made on 22 June wrongly failed to declare that Amnesty International had been subject to unlawful surveillance by GCHQ. The IPT revealed this in an e-mail sent to the ten NGO claimants involved in the earlier legal challenge to UK government surveillance. As Amnesty International explained: “Today’s communication makes clear that it was actually Amnesty International Ltd, and not the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) that was spied on in addition to the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.”

The Intercept has obtained a copy of the e-mail sent to the NGOs, which shows that the IPT made the finding that “there had been a breach by virtue of the exceeding of time limits for retention”—the communication files were kept too long. That is, as far as the IPT was concerned, spying on one of the world’s most respected NGOs was not in itself problematic.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, commented: “The revelation that the UK government has been spying on Amnesty International highlights the gross inadequacies in the UK’s surveillance legislation. If they hadn’t stored our communications for longer than they were allowed to by internal guidelines, we would never even have known.” If the records had been destroyed according to the rules, the IPT would have made “no determination” as to whether surveillance had taken place—its standard way of neither confirming nor denying allegations that spying has occurred.

NSA’s spying on UN and others detailed in newly published documents – Imagine you’re a world leader walking into a meeting with the president of the United States. But he already knows everything you’re going to say because his spies hacked into your communications and read your notes before you got there.

That’s not a plot for the latest James Bond flick. It’s straight from the latest published report drawn from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Snowden’s revelations have led to snowballing accusations that the National Security Agency is accessing and reading communications from world leaders. Wednesday’s revelations come on the heels of revelations that the NSA spied on French political leaders, and countries that have been caught up in the agency’s snooping on dignitaries include Mexico, Germany and Colombia.

In a story published Wednesday, The Intercept went into great detail on how far one of the NSA’s spying programs, called X-Keyscore, can reach into the web and find any kind of communication, be it chats, emails or documents.

Kenya to require users of public Wi-Fi to register with government – The head of Kenya’s Communications Authority, Francis Wangusi, announced a new set of regulations on Tuesday aimed at combatting cybercrime in the country. The new rules would require all users of devices with wireless networking capability to register their devices with the Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC)—much in the same way that some US states require registration of assault rifles and sex offenders.

Wi-Fi proxy could thwart cops, spies from finding you – The almost ridiculous extents which government agencies go through to get otherwise private data is sometimes being matched by equally almost ridiculous extents to protect it. Since Tor and VPNs no longer seem to be enough to protect user privacy, for good or for ill, some have taken seemingly drastic countermeasures. Like this Proxyham for example, which combines a Wi-Fi proxy with the concept of a HAM radio. Not only does it let users anonymously connect to Wi-Fi using almost unidentifiable low frequency radio channels, it also lets them connect from about 2.5 miles away.

Proxyham offers privacy protection in both distance and signal frequency. While Proxyham itself connects to a Wi-Fi source in a public spot, the user could be connected half way across town. Spies and law enforcers might be able to locate Proxyham, but that doesn’t mean they will be able to immediately locate the connected user. That last part is even made more difficult by the frequency that Proxyham uses. In particular, it transmits over 900 MHz, which affords not just distance but also masking, as that spectrum is also used by things like two-way radios and cordless phones.

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WikiLeaks: New intelligence briefs show US spied on German leader – On Wednesday, WikiLeaks published two new top-secret National Security Agency briefs that detail American and British espionage conducted against German leaders as they were discussing responses to the Greek economic crisis in 2011.

The organization also published a redacted list of 69 German government telephone numbers that were targeted for snooping. That list includes Oskar Lafontaine, who served as German finance minister from 1998 to 1999, when the German government was still based in Bonn—suggesting that this kind of spying has been going on for over 15 years at least.

As with the recent documents concerning NSA spying against France, WikiLeaks did not explain how it obtained the documents. However, it did share them with Greek, French, and German-language media, which all published them simultaneously on Wednesday evening, Europe time.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 1, 2015

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go?  Australian government bans hundreds of mobile and Web-based games;  How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online This Summer;  Panic Button for Chrome hides your online shenanigans;  VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign;   What to do when your email address sends spam;  Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say;  Rooomy Lets You Decorate Your Room in 3D;  Apple gets around to fixing those 77 security holes in OS X Yosemite;  5 apps to help you save water;  Facebook Messenger’s money feature arrives for all US users;  Pretty Much Everybody Is Binge-watching TV;  Microsoft launches Minecraft in Education;  Net neutrality becomes law in the EU and roaming charges get banned;  Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search;  Report: Surveillance programs may cost US tech over $35 billion and its competitive edge;  Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online This Summer – For kids, summertime is a brief window of freedom they yearn for all school year long. Parents, meanwhile, look at it a little differently. Sure, pool parties, camping trips and sleepovers are full of laughter and fun, but they also provide parents with lots to worry about. But that’s just offline — the Internet, where parents have even less of a view into their children’s activity, can be a troublesome hotspot in the warm school-less months. These five tips can help keep your children safe online in the summertime, even though they really ought to be outside playing anyway.

Pointing up    Be a security warrior – pass on these tips to friends and family with children.

What to do when your email address sends spam – Spam is going out in your name to everyone you know. A few precautions can keep this from happening again.

Panic Button for Chrome hides your online shenanigans – “Quick! The boss is coming shut down that MLB stream!” Too late, you’re caught. Lucky for you, the boss pulled up a chair to watch the game too, but you can’t always count on near misses to get you through your slack-off time at work. That’s why it’s good to know about a great little tool available in the Chrome Web Store called Panic Button from the VPN specialists at HideMyAss. With this handy little extension, all you do is click the red icon and your browser tabs disappear.

Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say – What works—and what doesn’t – Apple Music, the company’s new music streaming service, launches Tuesday. Here are some of the reviews we’ve seen so far:

9 things you should try first with Apple Music (pictures) – Apple Music has arrived — here are some things you should try first.

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How to Stop Apple Music From Automatically Billing You – The first three months are free, but it defaults to auto-renew. But if you end up ditching the service after the trial ends, you should make sure you’re not billed $9.99 under Apple Music’s default automatic renewal. (Remember: anyone with an Apple ID had to link up a valid credit card or other payment option.) Here’s how to make sure you don’t accidentally cost yourself some cash, as WIRED points out:

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go? – So modest are the requirements for Windows 10, you may be able to run it on machines that shipped with Windows Vista eight years ago. But just how low can Windows 10 go when it comes to PC specs? Since Microsoft released the OS for testing last year people have been loading Windows 10 onto hardware dating back to 2003 – eons ago on the PC refresh timescale. Here are the low-end and long-in-the-tooth machines that proved capable of running Windows 10.

How to turn your Windows 10 upgrade files into an ISO disk image – One question I’ve been asked more than any other in recent weeks is whether Microsoft will release Windows 10 in ISO format. No one outside Redmond knows yet, but in the meantime there’s an option: Make your own ISO files. Here’s how. [Updated with product keys for Preview builds 10158 and 10159]

Facebook Is Keeping Closer Tabs on the Videos You Watch – Facebook is always monitoring what you do — and every like, comment, and share is used to help determine the content that shows up in your News Feed. But Zuckerberg and Co. are taking things a step further with their latest update. Now, you don’t even need to like or share a video to signal to the social network that you enjoy this type of content. The company on Monday announced it will begin taking into account more subtle cues — whether you turn up the volume on a video or make it full screen, for instance — to help determine what to show you in News Feed.

Facebook Messenger’s money feature arrives for all US users – We’ve previously detailed Facebook Messenger’s new feature for sending money to friends, but in case you missed it, the feature works as such: you fire up Messenger and find the friend you want to send money to. Tap the “$” icon, enter an amount, and send it away. The person on the receiving end can then accept it and the money will be sent to their bank account. It’s a convenient feature, one that is now available to all US users.

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5 apps to help you save water – According to the US Drought Monitor, 94.6 percent of California is currently facing severe to exceptional drought. Even if you happen to live in a state or country that’s blessed with abundant rainfall, it’s never too early to start conserving water. If you’re not sure where to start, I have good news for you — there are several apps that can help you learn about water conservation, track your water usage, and take steps to cut back on usage.

Gmail’s latest update will add wallpapers and emoji – Dozens of apps are bringing innovation to email, including Google’s Inbox. Meanwhile, Gmail is getting more… wallpapers. Google announced today that Gmail’s latest update will add hundreds of themes and give users new ways to customize them with blur, vignettes, and custom text. The update will also expand Gmail’s weird emoji library, and should roll out in the next couple of days. All we can say is, there better be a taco emoji.

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PayPal tweaks robocall policy again, won’t cold call you with advertising – PayPal has been tinkering with things ever since it was announced that the company would finally split from eBay. The first update that they put together gave both the company and its partners permission to cold call for just about any reason they wanted to. Users were opted in by default, and it looked as though there wasn’t going to be any way for you to opt out. PayPal users weren’t too keen on the change, and it’s not the kind of thing the FCC looks kindly upon. In fact, the Commission was getting ready to put new consumer protections in place. Just two days after the robocall update was spotted, PayPal announced they were backing off. Users would indeed be given the chance to opt out.

Rooomy Lets You Decorate Your Room in 3D – Launching today, Rooomy is an iPad app which lets you turn 2D images of a room into a 3D space. You can also decorate these 3D rooms with over 500 pieces of virtual 3D furniture from popular brands like Design Within Reach and All Modern. Built by Loft-NedSense, a European company listed on the NYSE Euronext, the app is mainly designed to be as a virtual staging solution for the real estate industry. Here is how the service works: Real estate brokers upload photos of rooms for a flat fee of $20 per property. After using in a built-in tool to identify where the walls in the room are, it is turned into a 3D model. Potential buyers can then browse homes for sale within the app, and explore the furnished rooms before scheduling a showing.

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YouTube Brings 60fps Video Streams To Its Android And iOS Apps – Over the last few months, Google’s YouTube launched both 60fps video on the desktop and — later — for live video streams. Starting today, you can also watch the service’s smooth 60fps videos in its iOS and Android apps. Given that these video streams were already available on YouTube’s other main platforms, it was only a matter of time before Google brought this feature to mobile, too. According to a YouTube spokesperson”, 60fps YouTube is now available on the desktop, Apple TV and the PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles.

AppleCare will replace your battery once it drops to 80% of its capacity – Apple will now replace any battery covered by AppleCare+ once it drops below 80 percent of its original capacity, as outlined in refreshed AppleCare+ documents spotted by MacRumors late last week and reported on other sites today. Previously, a battery had to drop to 50 percent of its original capacity to be eligible for replacement under AppleCare+, limiting its helpfulness to all but the heaviest users and those with defective batteries. Macs covered by the standard AppleCare agreement can also have their batteries replaced if they drop below 80 percent of their original capacity, as outlined in a footnote here. AppleCare+ can be added to an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch at purchase or within 60 days of the purchase date.

Security:

VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign – A team of five researchers from universities in London and Rome have identified that 14 of the top commercial virtual private networks in the world leak IP data. “Despite being a known issue, our experimental study reveals that the majority of VPN services suffer from IPv6 traffic leakage,” the authors wrote in the paper A Glance through the VPN Looking Glass: IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijacking in Commercial VPN clients [PDF]. “Our findings confirm the criticality of the current situation: many of these [14] providers leak all, or a critical part of the user traffic in mildly adversarial environments.

Pointing up   For privacy – think Tor Browser Bundle.

Vulnerability In Security Service Lifelock Could Have Exposed Logins And Passwords – A vulnerability discovered by security researchers Eric Taylor and Blake Welsh could turn an innocuous “refer-a-friend” page into an official-looking phishing page. By adding encoded HTML to the end of a basic URL, Taylor and his partner were able to simulate a Lifelock login page that could potentially grab usernames and passwords from unsuspecting users. Lifelock closed the vulnerability, which is called a cross-site scripting attack, after Taylor notified the company. Lifelock has over 3 million customers with revenue of $369.65 million. As of 2010 Lifelock’s CEO Todd Davis has been targeted for identity theft over a dozen times.

Apple gets around to fixing those 77 security holes in OS X Yosemite – The Yosemite 10.10.4 update includes fixes for QuickTime, OpenSSL and ImageIO, along with remote code execution flaws and other exploits that could allow an attacker to obtain elevated privileges or crash applications. The Safari update includes fixes for four vulnerabilities in the WebKit browser engine. An attacker could target the flaws to remotely execute code, steal account information, view WebSQL databases and lift cookie information from a targeted Mac. Users running Yosemite should update their system software to install the security fixes as soon as possible. Those running older versions of OS X can get some of the updates by installing patches for Safari 6, 7 and 8.

Medium replaces passwords with secure email links – Medium, the stylish blogging platform/social writing network, has just announced a big change in the way users sign in to the service. Here’s how it works if you’re not familiar with that process: If you go to Medium and want to sign in, you’ll click a login button and type your email address. Check for a new message from Medium which contains a link that, when click, will take you to your account. That’s it. The links can only be used once, and will expire after 15 minutes.

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Australia’s online bullying monitor starts Wednesday – Children will be able to lodge complaints to e-Safety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon from July 1 to seek to have alleged bullying content pulled down from Facebook and Twitter.

Company News:

Cisco to buy cybersecurity firm OpenDNS in $635m deal – Cisco has announced its intention to purchase threat protection security firm OpenDNS in a deal worth $635 million. Announced on Tuesday, the tech giant said the move will accelerate the development of the Cisco Cloud Delivered Security Portfolio, and OpenDNS will prove a boost to advanced threat protection services for Cisco clients. In addition, the OpenDNS cloud delivered platform will give Cisco better visibility and more insight into the threat landscape. Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will play $635 million in cash and equity awards, as well as “retention-based incentives” for OpenDNS.

Amazon Launches Full Retail Operations In Mexico – Amazon today formally announced its expansion into physical goods sales in Mexico. The company had previously only offered Kindle e-books on its online site which opened for Mexican customers in 2013. Today on Amazon.com.mx, Amazon will introduce a Spanish-language site featuring millions of items including consumer electronics, kitchen and home items, sports equipment, tools, baby, health and personal care products, jewelry, music, books, movies, software and more. The company is also launching its online selling service for Mexican businesses and sellers as well as its Fulfillment by Amazon service.

Uber France executives to go on trial over UberPop – Uber France and two company executives will go on trial in September, French prosecutors announced today, on charges related to its UberPop service. Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s general manager for Western Europe, and Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal were taken into police custody yesterday in Paris, a few days after French taxi unions staged a nationwide strike in protest against UberPop. As AFP reports, the executives and Uber France have been charged with misleading business practices, complicity in operating an illegal taxi service, and illegal treatment of personal data. They will go before a correctional court on September 30th.

Uber Stages Protest At NYC City Hall Against Bill Throttling New Driver Signups – Today Uber staged a protest outside of New York City Hall, where inside members of the City Council Transportation Committee were introducing a bill that would require the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to limit the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses. The law would mean Uber could only add about 200 new drivers to the service in New York over the next year. More specifically, transportation companies would be limited to adding new drivers at a rate that amounts to one percent of the number of drivers are currently on each company’s platform in NYC. This cap would severely limit the growth of transportation companies in NYC, and would be a big win for the taxi industry.

Facebook eyeing next billion users with upcoming Africa office – Facebook is eyeing the future and as such will be launching its first office in Africa, it has been announced. The office will be in a Johannesburg suburb and will be run by Nunu Ntshingila. So far Facebook has about 120 million users in Africa, a small number compared to the more than a billion people who call it home. The social network’s Internet.org and Facebook Lite will play a part in getting users on board.

VMware Agrees To Pay $75.5M To Settle Illegal Pricing Allegations – In a significant settlement that could embolden American employees who witness company misconduct, VMware and government contractor Carahsoft Technology Corporation agreed to pay the $75.5 million today to settle illegal pricing allegations. The Department of Justice accused the companies of violating the Fair Claims Act and overcharging the government, in a case brought in conjunction with a former VMware executive. VMware steadfastly denied any wrong-doing in the case.

Google asks for, and gets, extra time to respond to European antitrust charges – The company had asked for extra time to examine documents provided by the Commission, which has now given it until Aug. 17 to defend itself against charges that it systematically favored its own comparison shopping product over those of competitors. Most Commission staff will be on vacation that month, although someone will be available to receive Google’s response and “the right for Google to be heard will be fully respected,” a Commission official said.

Games and Entertainment:

Australian government bans hundreds of mobile and Web-based games – By now, we’re accustomed to platform holders like Apple refusing to carry games and apps with questionable content on their digital storefronts. We’re less accustomed to national governments stepping in to decide what apps can and can’t be downloaded within their borders. That’s just what Australia is set to do tomorrow, though, as a new pilot program will ban hundreds of mobile titles that have been “refused classification” in the country on platforms like Google Play. Starting July 1, those titles will be effectively banned in Australia, according to an ABC report.

First trailer for Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden movie is all drama – Technically Incorrect: Teasing the new movie “Snowden” with a trailer is no easy task. So the producers merely whet your appetite. The first trailer was released on Tuesday and the drama drips from it.

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Pretty Much Everybody Is Binge-watching TV – A survey released on Tuesday by TiVo finds that 9 out of 10 people are engaging in “binge viewing,” which the digital video recording company defines as watching more than three episodes of a particular TV show in one day. According to TiVo, 92% of respondents to the company’s latest Binge Viewing Survey said they have engaged in the act of television gluttony at some point.

King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember arrives next month – As we’d first talked about in late summer last year, Sierra Entertainment has been revived and its first order of business was bringing back King’s Quest, a title that debuted earlier this year. Now the second installment of the title is upon us, and it is called King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember. This will be the second installment of what will eventually be a five-part series, and it has been announced that it will arrive on July 28.

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Microsoft launches Minecraft in Education for creating dynamic classroom experiences – Microsoft is already using its Minecraft acquisition to the fullest with the HoloLens and now the company has introduced a new program to bring dynamic experiences in the field of education. With this program, Microsoft has collaborated with various schools to introduce students to “Minecraft.” Using the Minecraft in Education forums, teachers can discuss and share their ways of using the game to teach students about various subjects.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Apple Music Is For People With No Clue What To Stream – You’re no DJ. That’s the biggest problem with streaming services. A search box connected to the history of recorded music can be discouraging. You constantly have to know what to play next. That’s why Apple was so smart to make Apple Music all about telling you what to play next. Apple is the king of making complicated technology accessible to the masses. It turned clunky MP3 players into the iPod. It made smartphones understandable with the iPhone. Today it’s done it again with Apple Music by burying search behind a half-dozen ways to find music recommendations.

Science Says People Will Believe in Evolution If They Actually Think About It – University of Kentucky professor and self-proclaimed wine connoisseur Will M. Gervais recently published a research study in Cognition where he tried to get to the bottom of why so many people don’t believe in evolution even after the pope said he was cool with it. As it turns out the folks who don’t believe in evolution are just not really thinking hard enough about it. Gervais’s study claims that the difference stems from two kinds of thinking: people who are prone to think intuitively and rely on immediate gut reactions are more likely to reject evolution. But those of us who “engage in analytical thinking”—a more deliberate, calculated form of cognition—are better able to override our initial intuitive response and understand the facts behind evolution.

Habitat for robo-humanity: robot can build a home in two days – A company out of Perth, Australia has built a robot they claim can build a house in two days. Mark Pivac is the man behind this piece of machinery and founder of Fastbrick Robotics. After 10 years and seven million dollars, the project is finally seeing the light of day. Watching the concept video of how it all works is pretty wild. It shows a giant crane-like arm sending bricks down a chute and placing them directly on top of another, rotating to complete not just the outer wall, but inner structure of the computer generated building as well.

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Net neutrality becomes law in the EU and roaming charges get banned – After long negotiations, EU authorities have finally agreed on a deal that will see the end of roaming charges and the introduction of net neutrality into laws across the Union. But there are caveats.

Sleep with your smartphone in hand? You’re not alone – I confess. My smartphone sits next to my bed on a nightstand while I slumber. I set it to do-not-disturb mode during sleeping hours, but then it comes to life as my alarm clock every morning. Turns out, I’m completely normal. A Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility Report released Monday shows that American adults can’t tear themselves away from their mobile devices, even when fast asleep. When it comes to bedtime, 71 percent of survey respondents say they sleep with or next to their smartphones.

Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search – New research claims that Google is gaming its search results in its own favor to the detriment of competitors. Google has “increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites,” according to the report co-authored by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, Tim Wu and the Yelp Data Science team. And yes, Yelp, which lists reviews of businesses, is a competitor that has cried foul over Google search results in the past.

Something to think about:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

–       William Faulkner Requiem for a Nun

Today’s Free Downloads:

NetworkConnectLog – NetworkConnectLog is a simple utility that repeatedly scans your local area network (Using ARP and Netbios protocols) and add a new log line every time that a new computer or device connects to your network, and when a computer or device disconnects from your network.

After the connect/disconnect log lines are accumulated, you can easily export the log lines to comma-delimited/tab-delimited/html/xml file.

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Second Life – Second Life is a 3D world where everyone you see is a real person and every place you visit is built by people just like you.

Travel with friends to thousands of beautiful and exciting places — all created by the Second Life community.

Millions of people have already joined Second Life. Chat for free using voice or text with folks from around the world who share your passions and interests.

Dress up and design a new 3D you. There are thousands of designer items to explore in our Marketplace where the selection is as endless as your imagination.

Every day there are thousands of new experiences and events created by the Second Life community. Visit the Destination Guide to get a peek at some of the action.

Discover your artistic talents and share them instantly with friends. Take beautiful snapshots, create machinima videos or build something from scratch inside Second Life.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying – A secret US tribunal ruled late Monday that the National Security Agency is free to continue its bulk telephone metadata surveillance program—the same spying that Congress voted to terminate weeks ago.

Congress disavowed the program NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed when passing the USA Freedom Act, which President Barack Obama signed June 2. The act, however, allowed for the program to be extended for six months to allow “for an orderly transition” to a less-invasive telephone metadata spying program.

Lawmakers approve a variation of the phone-records spy program Snowden revealed.

For that to happen, the Obama administration needed the blessing of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court). The government just revealed the order.

In setting aside an appellate court’s ruling that the program was illegal, the FISA Court ruled that “Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specially authorized. For this reason, the Court approves the application (PDF) in this case.”

Report: Surveillance programs may cost US tech over $35 billion and its competitive edge – What long-term effect will the revelations about US mass surveillance disclosed by Edward Snowden two years ago have on the US tech sector?

Through inaction, the US government risks sacrificing the “robust competitiveness of the U.S. tech sector for vague and unconvincing promises of improved national security,” argues the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in a June 2015 report entitled “Beyond the USA Freedom Act: How U.S. Surveillance Still Subverts U.S. Competitiveness.”

The report’s authors, Daniel Castro and Alan McQuinn, raise an issue that ought to make US policymakers and US leaders stop and think:

“When historians write about this period in U.S. history it could very well be that one of the themes will be how the United States lost its global technology leadership to other nations. And clearly one of the factors they would point to is the long-standing privileging of U.S. national security interests over U.S. industrial and commercial interests when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.”

Inaction on reforming mass surveillance and promoting transparency and data security worldwide puts US trade and its technology businesses at risk. In its report, ITIF describes the effect on US companies and the rise of protectionism resulting from the covert mass surveillance scandal.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 29, 2015

Need to lock down your phone? These security apps are some of the best;  12 high tech devices to monitor your kids’ health;  10+ Apple Music tips you’ll use;  Netflix Bigger Than Major Broadcast Networks (Sort of);  6 things to consider when choosing a streaming-music subscription;  41 percent of Americans say people and dinosaurs co-existed;  Passwords 101;  Chevy Will Text You if Your Car Is Stolen;  What to look for in a password manager;  Facebook’s Snapchatty New Photo Uploader Lets You Overlay Text And More;  NFC security: 3 ways to avoid being hacked;  The Tech Industry Is In Denial, But The Bubble Is About To Burst;  Man shoots down neighbor’s hexacopter;  Get the whole history of the Internet at a glance;  WinPatrol (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Need to lock down your phone? These security apps are some of the best – From encrypted instant messengers to secure browsers, these security and privacy apps are some of the very best for protecting your devices.

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Passwords 101 – Passwords guard your most private and sensitive information. Here’s how to make sure they’re strong enough for the job.

What to look for in a password manager – Why use a password manager? Because it’s one of the best apps you can invest in, saving you time and protecting all the accounts you need a password for. A good password manager generates and stores passwords and makes it easy to change them. Many managers offer other features, like filling in your information in online forms. However, not every password manager is worth its weight in code. To be truly useful, a password manager must provide good password generation, industry-standard AES-256 encryption (and ideally two-factor authentication), autofill options, and cross-platform compatibility.

6 things to consider when choosing a streaming-music subscription – By our count, there are at least 11 subscription music services available around the world: Spotify, Rdio, Apple Music, Rhapsody, Google Play Music, Tidal, Xbox Music, Deezer, Napster, Mog and Rara. But despite all the options, they’re all pretty similar — you typically pay around $10 per month for unlimited streaming on the Web, mobile and at home. With a still-growing array of streaming services, it can be tough to decide which one to pick.  Here are the key questions you should ponder before you decide.

What is FLAC? The high-def MP3 explained – CNET explains what FLAC is, as well as where to buy music in the FLAC format, and how to play it on your iPhone, computer, or MP3 player.

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FLAC is a music format that offers true CD quality and is playable on everything from Sonos to iOS. Sarah Tew/CNET

12 high tech devices to monitor your kids’ health – Digital health has been especially disruptive in pediatrics by giving parents and doctors more transparency about their children’s health and habits. Here are 10 examples.

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Find duplicate photos: Two utilities that can help – Duplicate Cleaner and Free Duplicate Photo Finder can both sift through your digital images for identical or similar ones, but there are limitations to the free versions.

10+ Apple Music tips you’ll use – Apple Music is an ecosystem of complementary products and services, spanning a la carte music downloads, music streaming, social and artist to fan contact, radio stations including Beats 1 and both algorithmic and human-curated music recommendations. Some tips:

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Apple Music’s interface seems pretty simple.

iOS 9 Low Power Mode Cuts Performance by 40 Percent – That sounds like a lot on paper, but it might not matter to those who are just using their devices to read email or casually browse the Web. If you’re a mobile gamer, you might be a little less thrilled. We have yet to see the Low Power Mode tested on real-world apps, so it’s unclear just what that kind of a hit would translate to for today’s top titles.

Dutch court wants expert to hunt Facebook’s systems for lost revenge porn data – A Dutch court won’t take Facebook’s word it has deleted data that could identify the person behind a now-deleted pseudonymous account from which a sex tape was posted, and wants the company to allow an independent expert to scour its systems for the missing information.

Facebook’s Snapchatty New Photo Uploader Lets You Overlay Text And More – If putting text, swipeable filters, and re-sizable emoji on photos sounds familiar, it might be because that’s exactly what Snapchat does. Since Facebook’s failed acquisition bid, it’s watched Snapchat grow and grow. Its attempts to clone Snapchat as a whole, Poke and Slingshot, have failed. Meanwhile, Japanese messaging app Line has gotten big on the back of stickers. So Facebook’s simply trying to bake the best of everything else into its own.

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Add overlaid text to Facebook photos with the new uploader

Why you should try the Microsoft Sway presentation app right now – Here’s how it all works. Let’s say you want to communicate about a new business product in a way that has some graphic flare. Of course, you can hire a designer who knows how to build a website in HTML or shoot a video and post it on YouTube. Sway combines these activities into one tool that is so easy to use, it’s almost like making a greeting card using one of those free tools from HP. You add in a few elements — a chart, a video, a headline — and publish.

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Credit: Microsoft

Survey finds 40% of businesses want to adopt Windows 10 in the first year – According to data from a recent survey, a large number of businesses are interested and looking to adopt Windows 10. If this is true, Microsoft could be in for a very big win with the new OS. But the good news doesn’t stop there, as 40% of businesses reportedly want to upgrade to Windows 10 in the first year after launch, with another 33% wanting to jump onboard in the following 12 months.

Add a Rainbow to Your Facebook Profile Photo With One Click – The social network has launched a new tool which lets you add a rainbow filter to your profile photo with a single click. Just head over to Facebook’s new Celebrate Pride page, and you’ll see a preview of your profile photo with the transparent rainbow overlay. If you like how it looks, click the button “use as profile picture” and voila — Facebook will automatically update your profile photo.

Microsoft: Windows 10 phones in the “flagship, high-end segment” are coming to India – Microsoft’s recent focus on lower-end devices has worked well for it in some markets, including India, but the company says it will launch new high-end Windows 10 Mobile handsets there this year.

Security:

NFC security: 3 ways to avoid being hacked – More than a billion phones will be equipped with near-field communications technology in 2015, potentially opening up new vectors for attack.

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Samsung caves and patches its software to re-enable Windows Update – After users discovered what Samsung was up to, the company finally caved and decided to do the right thing and keep its users safe – by re-enabling Windows Update on its devices.

Chevy Will Text You if Your Car Is Stolen – The car maker this week announced a new OnStar feature, dubbed Theft Alarm Notification, which will alert drivers in real-time via text, email, or phone call if their car has been stolen. The service will be available to all eligible OnStar subscribers later this summer, Chevy said. Theft Alarm Notification builds on Chevy’s existing OnStar security features like remote ignition block, which can prevent a stolen car from starting. Chevy said that if a “properly equipped” vehicle is stolen, its OnStar advisors will work with local authorities to pinpoint its location via GPS. In certain models, advisors can even send a signal to slow down a stolen vehicle to help police officers retrieve it, and potentially prevent a high-speed chase.

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Facebook, Kaspersky tag team in social network malware crackdown – The companies are working together to keep users safe from phishing campaigns, data theft and malware infection.

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If malware has been detected on your PC, you will be offered a free download of Kaspersky’s cleaner tool.

Software developers aren’t implementing encryption correctly – Despite a big push over the past few years to use encryption to combat security breaches, lack of expertise among developers and overly complex libraries have led to widespread implementation failures in business applications. The scale of the problem is significant. Cryptographic issues are the second most common type of flaws affecting applications across all industries, according to a report this week by application security firm Veracode.

Company News:

Police start seizing Uber cars in France – The clash between Uber drivers and taxi drivers in France became very serious this week, including everything from blocking transportation routes to the alleged dropped of bricks onto Uber cars from overpasses. Today the nation’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called Uber “arrogant” following his order yesterday for police officers in Paris to seize any UberPOP vehicles that are operating despite the ban. Legal action has also been filed against UberPOP mangers in France.

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Security Firm Sophos Raises $125M In UK IPO, Valuing It At $1.6B – As malicious hacks, data breaches and other forms of cyber crime continue to persist in our networked, Internet-connected world, Sophos, a maker of antivirus software, firewall hardware and other security products for networks, individual users and servers, is going public on the London Stock Exchange. Trading now as Sophos Group plc and using the “SOPH” ticker, the company sold 34.8% of its shares at 225 pence each (or 156,521,740 shares), raising $125 million on a valuation of £1.013 billion ($1.6 billion) — making it the latest tech “unicorn” to come out of the UK.

With the transition to Windows as a service, Microsoft changes up revenue recognition – When Microsoft releases Windows 10 this summer, it will represent a shift in how the company has traditionally sold its OS. From a revenue recognition perspective, Windows will transition from a single point of sale model to a deferred revenue model because Windows 10 will be delivering software updates and features over time. Microsoft released a new PowerPoint deck, which you can find at the link below, which details how the company will adjust its revenue reporting because of this change. The biggest change is that deferred revenue will show up under the Corporate and Other line of the quarterly earnings statement.

Apple starts production of Force Touch enabled iPhones – It seems that Apple has decided to start the production of its expected new smartphones early. Insider sources have revealed that the company has just gotten the ball rolling in making the next iPhones and have also revealed the one major feature that will set it apart from its predecessors. Confirming earlier rumors, these iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, as they are believed to be called, will feature Apple’s fancy new Force Touch feature, bringing pressure sensitivity to a larger screen and to a larger scale of devices.

Games and Entertainment:

Apple says oops, starts returning games with confederate flag – Apple upset many when it began pulling games from the App Store that included depictions of confederate flags, a move that appeared to be an overreaction to the current movement by businesses and state governments to nix the flag. Apps were removed that included the flag for educational or historical reasons, such as historical games that included confederate flags as a necessary part of being accurate. Fortunately this nonsense was short lived, and Apple has reversed some of its bans.

TechSpot: Batman: Arkham Knight Benchmarked, Performance Review – Countless PC gamers, whether Nvidia or AMD users, have expressed anger about Arkham Knight’s performance with reports of constant stuttering ruining gameplay. Here’s our take.

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One more quest: How mobile gaming reshaped online RPGs – Smartphone and tablets have changed the landscape for gaming. For one, it has made a gamer out of those who would have never even imagined playing a PC or console game, much less consider themselves a gamer. But even for those who have already been whiling away hours in front of the TV or the monitor, the culture of mobile has also changed a few things. Take for example the corner of the gaming world known as online RPGs and how the ubiquity of smartphones have somewhat redefined that genre, for better or for worse.

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Zenonia S

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ review: See how this card unleashes Maxwell’s true power – Move over, Titan X. Sit down, Fury X. EVGA’s customized version of the beastly GTX 980 Ti is the most potent single-GPU graphics card that’s ever graced PCWorld’s test bench.

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Details about the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+’s ACX 2.0+ cooling solution.

Netflix Bigger Than Major Broadcast Networks (Sort of) – How much content do people stream online? A lot. How much of that is Netflix? An enormous amount. And how much do people watch Netflix compared to standard TV channels? The answer might surprise you. According to Variety, Netflix gets enough daily eyeballs that, if it were a traditional broadcast network, it would be bigger than Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Tech Industry Is In Denial, But The Bubble Is About To Burst – Euphoric reaction to superstar tech businesses is rampant — so much so that the tech industry is in denial about looming threats. The tech industry is in a bubble, and there are sufficient indicators for those willing to open their eyes. Rearing unicorns, however, is a distracting fascination.

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2016 Audi TT/TTS and Q7 Virtual Cockpit First-Drive – I’m not going to lie, I feel pretty damn lucky to be one of a handful of American press with the privilege of experiencing Audi’s Virtual Cockpit in the new TT/TTS and Q7. The opportunity to drive the TTS around Ascari racetrack was nothing short of exhilarating – especially with Virtual Cockpit getting me ready me for turns far in advance. Then, after experiencing Audi’s technology on the track, Audi invited me over to Verbier, Switzerland to test the all-new 2016 Q7, also equipped with Virtual Cockpit, in the way that most drivers will experience it.

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Two self-driving cars’ near collision ‘taken out of context’ – Recently Reuters said that two self-driving cars from rival companies, Google and Delphi, were involved in a near collision when one of Google’s self-driving cars cut off one of Delphi’s autonomous vehicles. The story went viral quickly, not surprising given some of the fear mongering surrounding cars that can drive themselves. The whole thing was taken out of context, though, says a Delphi spokeswoman. Rather than being as sensational as it sounded, it was simply an example of autonomous vehicles doing exactly what we want them to do.

Flintstone facts? 41 percent of Americans say people and dinosaurs co-existed – “Jurassic World” may have been a documentary as far as millions of Americans are concerned. A recent survey by YouGov — a for-profit research firm that conducts all sorts of online polls — found that 41 percent of those queried think dinosaurs and humans “probably” or “definitely” once co-existed on Earth at the same time. The online poll (PDF) of 1,000 adults was conducted between June 15 and 17 and has a 4.4 percent plus-or-minus margin of error.

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Man shoots down neighbor’s hexacopter in rural drone shotgun battle – While we’ve heard of consumer drones getting in the way of commercial airliners and obstructing firefighting operations, we haven’t heard of many drones being shot out of the sky by a neighbor. But according to one drone pilot, that’s exactly what occurred in Modesto, California on November 28, 2014. That day, Eric Joe skipped Black Friday lines and instead went home to visit his parents. During the afternoon, Joe flew what he described to Ars as a homemade hexacopter drone. His aerial device hovered low and moved slow, logging just three and a half minutes of flight time in total. Then, bang. A loud boom rang out over the neighboring walnut trees.

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This is the drone in question. Eric Joe

Lexus has created a hoverboard – Get ready to turn on your self-lacing Mags because you’re about to go on a ride over 15 years in the making. Lexus has seemingly done the impossible and made actual working hoverboard! Simply called “Slide,” the futuristic levitating device might seem magical to some, but it’s hardcore science that powers the board and keeps it off the ground. According to Lexus’ website, a combination of liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and magnets are used to keep it afloat.

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Get the whole history of the Internet at a glance – From a Russian satellite to the death of Internet Explorer, a new infographic takes you through a succinct timeline of the journey the Web has taken over the last 58 years.

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Tech throws its weight behind same-sex marriage ruling … with rainbows and emojis – Companies are voicing support for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling across social media. Facebook has even released a filter for overlaying a rainbow on profile pictures.

Stephen Colbert mocks Justices (the four who dissented in gay-marriage ruling) – Technically Incorrect: He couldn’t resist. He has a new show to sell. Colbert posts his reaction to the Supreme Court decision within hours of its announcement.

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US geek takes on the wacky world of British technology – A trip to the UK takes CNET writer Amanda Kooser through a world of British tech quirks, full of baffling toilet buttons and an alphabet soup of cellular networks.

Something to think about:

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

–      Ernest Hemingway

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinPatrol – WinPatrol takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without your knowledge. WinPatrol was the pioneer in using a heuristic behavioral approach to detecting attacks and violations of your computing environment. Now, using our “Cloud” technology you can benefit from the experience of other WinPatrol users. WinPatrol continues to be the most powerful system monitor for its small memory footprint.

WinPatrol’s easy tabbed interface allows you to explore deep inside your computer without having to be a computer expert. A one-time investment in WinPatrol PLUS provides a unique experience you won’t find in any other software.

WinPatrol PLUS is a great investment!

One Time fee includes for ALL future WinPatrol versions.

No Hidden or Reoccurring Subscription Fees.

Single License valid on all your personal desktops and laptops!

No Toolbars or other unwanted software

WinPatrol PLUS is quicker and faster.

Upgrade Now with No Additional Download

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Classic Shell 4.2.2 Beta / 4.2.1 – Classic Shell is free software that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it.

The main features are:

Highly customizable start menu with multiple styles and skins

Quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs

Find programs, settings, files and documents

Start button for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer

Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US tech companies still not doing enough to help police and spies, claims UK – US tech companies are not doing enough to help UK police and intelligence agencies by handing over their customers’ data and communications, according to a government expert.

A report by Nigel Sheinwald, the Prime Minister’s ‘special envoy on intelligence and law enforcement data sharing’ said that UK law enforcement still struggles to get access to information it requires.

He said that since September last year, UK law enforcement has worked with the companies on the most urgent requests, particularly in the areas of counter-terrorism and other threat-to-life and child-protection cases and noted: “The companies’ assistance in these cases has improved, showing the value of active engagement with them.”

But he added: “Cooperation remains incomplete, and the companies and governments concerned agree that we need to work on longer term solutions.”

Last year Shienwald was given the job of trying to persuade foreign governments, and US communications companies in particular, to give UK police and intelligence agencies more access to their data, in order to tackle threats to national security or for the “prevention or detection of serious crime.”

Australian telcos face more national security regulation – While the Australian telecommunications industry struggles to meet tight deadlines to comply with the mandatory data-retention scheme, the government has announced another round of national security legislation targeting telecommunications carriers in Australia, this time giving the Attorney-General’s Department greater control, access, and oversight of telecommunications networks.

The draft (PDF) of another amendment to the Telecommunications Act released by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday afternoon outlined plans to introduce the legislation later this year.

The secretary of the department will also be able to issue telcos with a direction to refrain from undertaking certain activity on their networks, after consultation with the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Department of Communications secretary.

The secretary can also write to telcos and force them to hand over information in the format of the secretary’s choosing, or face fines. This information can then be shared with anybody by the secretary, provided it relates to assessing the risk of unauthorised interference with or access to telecommunications networks, or is for “the purposes of security.”

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – June 26, 2015

Take Control of Your Google Privacy;  The best tool for protecting your kids (or employees) from malware and porn;  25 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  Amazon’s latest freebie fest gives away $50 in Android apps and games;  3 Google Drive add-ons that improve collaboration;  Microsoft Office finally comes to Android phones;  Archos $99 PC Stick is latest Windows computer;  A Facebook account is no longer needed for Messenger;  Stream music from your PC to almost any device with this free tool;  6 Secret Tricks You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do;  US claims progress with China over cybersecurity concerns;  Australian ISP admits giving customer phone numbers to websites;  Apple removes Civil War games featuring Confederate flag from App Store;  Xbox Games with Gold for July: ‘Assassin’s Creed IV,’ ‘Gears of War 3′ and more;  Watch Bill Nye explain climate change in 90 seconds using emoji;  France Adopts Extensive Surveillance Law;  Avast! Browser Cleanup (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Take Control of Your Google Privacy – As Google again updates its policy, dig into its new account dashboard and take back what power over privacy you can.

The best tool for protecting your kids (or employees) from malware and porn – I don’t have bad kids. But my kids, perhaps like yours, don’t understand that searching for kitten pictures may not return the results they actually want. They don’t know just how much the pornography industry wants to hook them early. They don’t realize just how creepy people can be when cloaked in apparent anonymity. And so I started trying to help them grow up safely in a world that was trying to force them to grow up way too early. In the process, I’ve discovered a variety of tools that help me to teach my children to be responsible with technology. Perhaps the most promising, and most recent, is the OpenDNS Umbrella service.

25 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 25 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

A Facebook account is no longer needed for Messenger – Facebook wants to squeeze as much growth as it can out of its popular Messenger app, even if that means forgoing Facebook. Previously, people had to sign up for Messenger with their Facebook account. Now, in a few countries, it can be done with just a mobile telephone number. In the U.S., Canada, Peru and Venezuela, users who sign up this way can allow the app to sync with the contacts on their phone so they can easily find people to message. Messenger isn’t turning into an anonymous chat app, though. Along with the phone number, your name and photo are still needed to complete the sign-up process.

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Amazon’s latest freebie fest gives away $50 in Android apps and games – The excellent Monument Valley and smart forecast app Weather Live are yours for the taking from Amazon’s grab bag. About every few months Amazon puts a bunch of paid apps and games on sale. The goal is to get you to check out its alternative Amazon Appstore and get invested in the ecosystem. With a bunch of paid apps and games for free Amazon hopes you’ll buy future apps from them instead of Google Play.

3 Google Drive add-ons that improve collaboration: Hello Sign, Workflows, DocSecrets – Google Docs has matured into the go-to productivity suite for document collaboration, thanks to an abundance of tools that manage what can easily become a messy process. But even with features like revision history, commenting, and real-time chat, there are a few common collaboration requirements Docs doesn’t yet address. Fortunately, these holes can be filled with some key add-ons.

Archos $99 PC Stick is latest Windows computer that fits in your pocket – The French device maker joins Lenovo and Intel in offering a miniature system that connects to your HDTV via HDMI, but its version is cheaper and will ship with Windows 10 pre-installed.

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Stream music from your PC to almost any device with this free tool – Stream What You Hear provides an easy way to stream music from your PC to your phone or TV.

Microsoft Office finally comes to Android phones – Microsoft Office for Android phones is here. At last, Android users can maximize productivity as well as iOS and Windows Phone users. Until now, if Android users had Office 365 they could use Office Mobile, which was pretty basic. With the new apps, Office 365 users still get an advantage. (Otherwise what would be point of the subscription fee?) While the apps are free to all users, the people without 365 accounts will be limited to opening, editing, and saving files. 365 members will have functionality that almost mirrors the full PC versions. For example, subscribers get a button in the Word for Android app that brings up a pop-up tool tray where you can make changes to layout, format, paragraphs, headers, footers and more without ever having to leave the document.

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Ear.IQ customizes your music to better fit the way you hear – Your hearing can be as unique as your fingerprint. The freemium version of Ear.IQ will offer limited calibration tools and a simpler hearing test for audio improvement. In-app purchases will allow users to couple more than one device and add different profiles for different devices, so they can have one profile for headphones and a different one for a car’s sound system. For $19.99, users can get the pro version, which comes with premium calibration tools, unlimited device coupling, and all the in-app purchases included.

Pro tip: Find your lost phone with the help of Google search – If you frequently misplace your phone, Google can easily come to the rescue with a quick search. Jack Wallen shows you how.

Tumblr Launches “Tumblr TV,” A GIF Search Engine With A Full-Screen Viewing Mode – Following the rollout of Tumblr’s GIF search engine earlier this month, the blogging platform is today launching another new feature aimed at helping users discover and share GIFs: Tumblr TV. The addition is a combination of a search and viewing feature for GIFs, which helps you find the animated images housed on Tumblr and then view them in a full-screen mode.

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Bing adds more depth to its homepage with audio effects – Starting today, when you head to Bing, you can also hear the audio from a video showing on the homepage as well. The feature, which you have to turn on by clicking the audio button in the bottom right corner, adds another layer to the homepage to help separate it from the competition.

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6 Secret Tricks You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do – The iPhone always seems to have a new trick up its sleeve. Tucked away in the device’s myriad menus, there’s probably a setting or two you’ve never played with that could make the device even more useful. That’s to say nothing of the numerous gesture-based controls Apple tucks away in its mobile operating system, many of which may not be readily apparent. Chances are you could be typing faster, taking better pictures and noticing more texts with these hidden wonders. Here, we uncover six lesser-known iPhone tricks that you can use every day:

Security:

US claims progress with China over cybersecurity concerns – China told the US it was ready to cooperate on cybersecurity issues. But can the two sides really play nice after years of tension and accusations?

Cisco warns of default SSH keys shipped in three products – Cisco Systems said Thursday it released a patch for three products that shipped with default encryption keys, posing a risk that an attacker with the keys could decrypt data traffic. The products are Cisco’s Web Security Virtual Appliance, Email Security Virtual Appliance and Security Management Virtual Appliance, it said in an advisory. Versions downloaded before Thursday are vulnerable.

Google eavesdropping tool installed on computers without permission – Privacy campaigners and open source developers are up in arms over the secret installing of Google software which is capable of listening in on conversations held in front of a computer. First spotted by open source developers, the Chromium browser – the open source basis for Google’s Chrome – began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users. It was designed to support Chrome’s new “OK, Google” hotword detection – which makes the computer respond when you talk to it – but was installed, and, some users have claimed, it is activated on computers without their permission. (recommended by Bob S.)

Google removes “always listening” code from Chromium – After including closed-source code that enabled Chromium to listen in to a computer’s microphone, Google bowed to backlash and removed it from the open-source browser.

Security researcher casually drops Adobe Reader, Windows critical vulnerability bomb – A Google Project Zero researcher has revealed the existence of 15 vulnerabilities in the software, including critical issues and one exploit which may completely bypass all system defense.

Report Suggests Young People May Abandon Social Media If Privacy Breaches Continue – In a report released this week (oddly) by USA Network, survey data shows that 55 percent of young people would eschew social media entirely “if they could start fresh.” Additionally, if major breaches of their privacy were to continue, 75 percent of young people said they were at least “somewhat likely” to deactivate their personal social media accounts, with 23 percent saying they were “highly likely” to do so. Young Americans’ sense of privacy online has been so violated that most of them believe that it’s safer to store their personal data in a box than in the cloud. Indeed, the survey said that physical filing systems were actually listed as the “most trusted” personal data storage method for young people.

Australian ISP admits giving customer phone numbers to websites – The Australian Internet service provider (ISP), Optus, has been providing the mobile phone numbers of customers to websites they have accessed. Optus has defended the practice, claiming personal details are only provided to trusted partners. “When consumers browse the internet, information about the device they’re using is passed onto website owners in order to optimise websites for those users,” an Optus spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Mashable Australia. “Optus adds our customer’s mobile number to the information in select circumstances where we have a commercial relationship with owners of particular websites. This is only done with trusted partners where user authentication is required.” (recommended by Mal C.)

Java updater dumps Ask toolbar adware, replaces it with Yahoo search – Oracle and Ask may have parted ways, but Java security updates are still seen as good marketing opportunities for search providers looking to increase market share.

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Trojan that hides inside images infects healthcare organizations – According to a recent report from Dell SecureWorks, the Trojan is designed to steal files, information and passwords from infected systems, but has additional modules that extend its functionality. During the Stegoloader infection process, a temporary deployment component downloads a PNG file from the Internet. This is a functional image file, but hidden inside, among its pixels, are small bits of encrypted code that get extracted and are used to reconstruct the Trojan’s main module. Neither the PNG image or the Trojan’s main module are ever saved to disk. Instead, the whole process happens in the computer’s memory and the Trojan is loaded directly into memory as well.

Stolen US government passwords leaked across Web – A CIA-backed startup has discovered login credentials and passwords for 47 US government agencies littered across the Internet — leaving federal agencies potentially at risk of cyberattack. Recorded Future, a Boston-based data mining firm backed by the CIA’s venture capital arm, said in a research report that credentials belonging to 47 US government agencies have been found across 89 unique domains.

Company News:

Google, Microsoft among biggest IT industry lobbyists at European Commission – Google and its lobbyists have had more meetings with European Commission officials than any other company, according to figures published by Transparency International on Wednesday. With 32 meetings logged between December and June, Google’s lobbying is topped only by that of BusinessEurope, whose 67 member companies span the automotive, aviation, chemical, energy, IT and metallurgical industries. Its IT-industry members include Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Oracle and Samsung Electronics. Other prolific corporate lobbyists include General Electric, Airbus, and Microsoft, which had 20 meetings with Commission officials during the period.

Uber And PayPal Extend Payment Partnership, Now In 19 Countries – PayPal teamed up with Uber back in 2013 to offer the U.S. taxi-hailing service’s customers additional payment options. The world has changed a lot in those 18 months — Uber is now present in over 300 cities with China set to soon become its largest market — so, with that in mind, PayPal and Uber have extended their partnership to cover an additional 9 countries worldwide.

Facebook’s latest diversity report shows little change – Facebook has introduced its latest diversity report, which details information on its own workforce. There has been little change over last year, unfortunately, showing mostly the same numbers we saw in summer 2014 — something that doesn’t fit well with the social network’s diversity goals. Facebook reported its initial diversity numbers in 2014, as did many other big name businesses in the industry. Said the social network’s Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams, “Having a diverse workforce is not only the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do for our business.”

Alibaba launches online bank aimed at SMBs, rural customers – As China’s first online-only bank, it has no physical branches, but provides easily accessible loans to as many as 800 million rural residents, according to a report by industry website TMTPOST.com on June 25. Unlike its conventional competitors, the online bank neither deals with cash nor with big clients, but instead focuses on the bottom 80 percent, such as small, mid-, and micro-sized businesses.

Fueled by Snowden and Apple, private search engine DuckDuckGo rapidly grows – The privacy-minded search engine DuckDuckGo announced this week that it has reached a milestone. The Google alternative now serves over 10 million searches per day. (By comparison, Google serves about 4.3 billion per day.) DuckDuckGo works by using both its own Web crawler and data from other search engines, including Yahoo, Bing, and Blekko—not Google. The company claims that it does not log IP addresses or user agents, and it says that “no cookies are used by default.” It also uses default encryption modeled after HTTPS Everywhere.

Games and Entertainment:

Batman: Arkham Knight for PC pulled from Steam and retailers due to bugs – Warner Bros. has pulled the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight from sale due to “performance issues.” While no date was given for when the game might be put back on sale, the publisher is promising to address the wide range of performance issues players are experiencing. Those who have already purchased the game can request a refund from Steam or the retail location where the game was purchased.

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Apple removes Civil War games featuring Confederate flag from App Store – Apple has removed Civil War games from the App Store featuring the Confederate flag, according to a report from Touch Arcade. Ultimate General: Gettysburg and the Civil War games by developer Hunted Cow no longer appear for sale. A statement from a developer of Ultimate General confirms that the studio’s game was removed by Apple. Apple’s decision is likely to draw more controversy. Removing games in which the flag plays a historical role is different than forbidding the sale of the flag itself. And Apple has already acquired a reputation for its ham-fisted curation, banning games from the App Store featuring nudity and political statements.

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Civil War games with educational or historical value won’t be banned, says Apple – In the hours since banning a number of Civil War games portraying the Confederate battle flag, Apple states that the ban only applies to games that use the flag in offensive ways. Historical games won’t suffer the same fate, the company said in a statement sent to TechCrunch: “We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines. We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses.”

Crytek’s powerful CryEngine is the latest gaming engine to embrace Linux – The underlying bones of Linux gaming just keep on getting stronger. Crytek’s CryEngine now supports Linux, and that means support for SteamOS, too. This is just the latest big game engine to support Linux, following in the footsteps of Valve’s Source engine, Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, and Unity 5. It’s easier than ever for developers making games on top of these engines to add support for Linux and SteamOS.

Xbox Games with Gold for July: ‘Assassin’s Creed IV,’ ‘Gears of War 3′ and more – Through July, Xbox One users will be able to download “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” as well as “So Many Me.” The first title needs no introduction, while the second one is an indie puzzle platformer game, “starring Filo and his band of misfit clones as they attempt to save a world threatened by an ancient, malevolent evil”. The title first came out last year on other platforms and it has received mostly positive reviews, though you should note that its availability is a bit weird, being available for Gold members between July 16 and August 15. Over on the Xbox 360, gamers will be able to download or reserve two well known titles: “Plants vs Zombies” and “Gears of War 3.” The former is very much a classic, and it’s the original game that spawned a bunch of other titles afterwards, including an FPS. It’s almost impossible to have missed it, but just in case you did you can now get it for free.

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Comedy Central is hosting a 42-day marathon of The Daily Show – I hope you didn’t have many plans for the month of July. Beginning this Friday, June 26th, Comedy Central will stream every episode of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show ever made. That’s more than 2,000 episodes of pithy political commentary, winding interviews, and hundreds of jokes made at the expense of those in power.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch Bill Nye explain climate change in 90 seconds using emoji – You know things are getting serious on the issue of climate change when even the Pope speaks out and says the problem needs to be addressed. Sadly, that probably still won’t be enough to change some people’s minds, so the more efforts that are taken to educate people, the better. In order to make progress on this, more and more scientists have had to simplify their arguments and explanations. This is where Bill Nye comes in, with his recent explanation in the language everyone understands these days: emoji.

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Bats, crocodiles and explosions — and no, it’s not a Michael Bay film – A YouTuber with access to special-effects software “Bruckheimers” up a BBC nature documentary series with lightsabers, lasers and things that go BOOM.

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French Anti-Uber Protest Turns To Guerrilla Warfare As Cabbies Burn Cars, Attack Uber Drivers – Today’s taxi driver protest is getting out of hand. According to the police, 2,800 taxi drivers are protesting today against UberPOP, the European equivalent of UberX. With UberPOP, everybody can become an Uber driver, and taxi drivers see the service as unfair competition. Yet, this doesn’t really explain why cabbies are now attacking Uber drivers, burning and breaking cars.

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Google’s self-driving pod cars now on California public roads – Google has dispatched its fleet of autonomous cars onto the public roads of California, though the pod-like prototypes won’t be racing human drivers. While the longer-running fleet of converted Toyota and Lexus cars have been keeping up with traffic in the 1m+ miles of test driving they’ve done already, Google has opted to cap the top-speed of its more home-designed cars at just 25mph, which the search giant’s Google X research division says is intended to be “neighborhood-friendly”.

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The future of road rage: Delphi self-driving car survives brush with Google self-driving car – The cars didn’t collide, but the Google car apparently was at fault, putting a dent in the dignity of Google’s self-driving car project.

AI learns how to build Super Mario levels by watching YouTube – Georgia Tech creates a form of artificial intelligence that learns how to build Super Mario Bros. levels by watching gameplay videos. Because computers need lower productivity levels too.

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Artificial intelligence created these Super Mario Bros. levels without any human guidance. So if you’re a video game coder working in the early ’80s, you might want to start looking for another career.

Swimming pool red-eye isn’t from chlorine (It’s from urine) – Technically Incorrect: The US Healthy Swimming Program says that when your eyes go red and stingy in the pool it’s caused by a chemical reaction between chlorine and urine.

Something to think about:

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

–       Henry David Thoreau

Today’s Free Downloads:

Farbar Recovery Scan Tool – Farbar Recovery Scan Tool, or FRST, is a portable application designed to run in normal or safe mode to diagnose malware issues. It is also possible to run FRST in the Windows Recovery Environment in order to diagnose and fix boot issues.

This program will display detailed information about the Windows Registry loading points, services, driver services, Netsvcs entries, known DLLs, drives, and partition specifications. It will also list some important system files that could be patched by malware.

Note: There are both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Farbar Recovery Scan Tool available. Please pick the version that matches your operating system’s bit type. If you don’t know which version matches your system, you may try both of them. Only one of them will run on your system.

Limitations: If you are using Windows XP and have boot issue, the system should boot to the Recovery Environment using a PE Boot CD and then you can run FRST

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Avast! Browser Cleanup – This new tool serves to delete pesky and unwanted toolbars and plug-ins from your browser(s). Simply download and run the Browser Cleanup utility without the need to install anything. Once you run the utility, you will see a list of toolbars and plug-ins and be able to disable them with one simple click.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

France Adopts Extensive Surveillance Law – Oh, irony. Only a day after WikiLeaks revealed that the NSA has been spying on the past three French presidents as well as many French officials, France’s lower house adopted the very controversial surveillance law. According to politicians from all parties, France needs a comprehensive intelligence law following the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Yet, in many ways, this law is even broader than the Patriot Act.

Yesterday’s vote doesn’t come as a surprise as the lower house (Assemblée Nationale) already approved the law once. But the Government wanted to act quickly, and opted for an accelerated process for the upper house vote in order to make sure that the law would be voted before the Summer break.

Compared to the original law, not much changed. In particular, the most controversial part remains, the so-called black boxes. French Internet service providers and hosting companies will have to install a new system in their infrastructure to filter all traffic. An algorithm will detect suspicious activity, like if someone is watching videos related to terrorism, and then record everything you do online.

But it’s unclear whether this proprietary algorithm will also record things that aren’t directly related to terrorism. Nobody knows, except the new institution in charge of this process, which will most certainly work tightly with French intelligence services. Since the first vote, the new amendments tweaked the wording a bit, but the black boxes remain.

U.K. MPs Debate Judicial Authorization For Intercept Warrants – The U.K. parliament is today debating issues around the forthcoming new Investigatory Powers Bill, ahead of a draft bill being introduced this autumn.

“We know that communications data is used in 95 per cent of serious and organized crime investigations handled by the Crown Prosecution Service. Similarly intercept has played a significant role in investigating crime and preventing terrorism. Last year, 2,795 interception warrants were issued. Of these the majority — 68 per cent — were issued for serious crime; 31 per cent for national security; and one per cent a combination of serious crime and national security,” Home Secretary Theresa May told Parliament in a speech opening the debate.

During the debate May was asked whether the government had made a decision on a key recommendation in the recent independent review of surveillance capabilities by QC David Anderson — namely that interception warrants should be signed off by judges, rather than by ministers, as is currently the case. The U.K. is alone among the so-called Five Eyes powers in not having a judicial process for signing off interception warrants.

Proposal to limit anonymous domain registration ignites furor – Privacy advocates are sounding the alarm over a potential policy change that would prevent some people from registering website addresses without revealing their personal information.

ICANN, the regulatory body that oversees domain names, has asked for public comment on whether it should prohibit the private registration of domains which are “associated with commercial activities and which are used for online financial transactions.”

Domain registration companies, privacy advocates and anti-harassment advocates have decried the proposed changes for putting internet users at risk. On the opposite side of the issue, companies like LegitScript and MarkMonitor have argued that the change is necessary to protect consumers from unscrupulous businesses.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – June 24, 2015

How to beef up your browser security;  Google Launches Free, Ad-Supported Version Of Play Music;  How to remove bloatware;  10 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Windows 10;  Gmail enables “unsend” option for all users;  Only on Android: The best apps you’ll only find on Google’s OS;  The Best Tune-Up Utilities of 2015;  Intel’s free remote app lets you control your PC with your Android phone;  Backup basics;  4 news apps that will change everything;  Hackers exploit fresh PC hijack bug in Adobe Flash Player;  SQFT is a Real Estate App to Help Homeowners Slash Broker Commissions;  Apple, Microsoft CEOs Call for End to Racism;  Batman: Arkham Knight for PC is seriously broken;  You Can Now Buy Amazon’s Siri-For-Your-Home;  Hulu will offer its subscribers a discount on Showtime;  PCs, external graphics, is coming soon via Oculink;  Facebook doesn’t need your face to recognize you;  Secure Webcam (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to beef up your browser security – Browsers are your window to the Web, but while you’re looking out, other people may be peeking back at you or breaking in to steal your stuff. Without the right tools, you can’t block intruders — you may not even know they’re there. The good news: browser security tools are simple, and many are free. Read on to find out how to lock down Chrome and Firefox, check for encrypted sites, and practice safer browsing.

Google Launches Free, Ad-Supported Version Of Play Music – Fresh on the heels of the Apple Music launch, Google has just announced that Play Music will now offer a free, ad-supported version of the service to users who don’t want to pay $9.99/month. Play Music is Google’s music streaming service, meant to compete with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, etc. However, unlike the paid version, the free version launched today won’t let users choose their own songs to play on-demand. Instead users will have the option to choose from pre-curated playlists, similar to Pandora or iTunes Radio.

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Gmail enables “unsend” option for all users – On Tuesday, one of the webmail provider’s most interesting Labs options, “undo send,” graduated to official status. With the option, Gmailers get the chance to click an “undo send” link at the top of the screen after clicking “send” on any e-mail message. As with the original Labs version, the option, which now lives in the service’s “general” settings tab, lets users pick a safety timespan between 5-30 seconds.

How to remove bloatware – Bloatware, aka junkware, is software that the PC maker preinstalls on your machine — software you probably don’t want. Bloatware comes in many varieties and levels of malignance, from extra icons cluttering your desktop to resource hogs that slow PC performance to computer-compromising malware. Read on to learn how to rid your PC of this unnecessary and sometimes dangerous baggage.

4 news apps that will change everything – News apps have always failed, but four apps emerged this month that have cracked the code at last

10 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Windows 10 – Windows 10, by all appearances, seems poised for mass adoption, after a lackluster reception for Windows 8. This alternation of popular and unpopular is sort of a pattern for Microsoft operating systems: Vista tanked while Windows 7 killed, for example. Considering Windows 10 embraces devices of every size from smartphones to workstations, covering every aspect of the operating system would be a tall order. So for this selection of tips, we’ll limit the scope to Windows 10 on the desktop, though some suggestions could affect installations on other device sizes.

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Only on Android: The best apps you’ll only find on Google’s OS – Enough about all those iOS exclusives. It’s time to celebrate apps that show off the type of features only possible on Android.

The Best Tune-Up Utilities of 2015 – Quick question: What motivates you to purchase a new PC? If “slow performance” immediately jumps to mind, then please allow me to help you save a few hundred dollars. There’s a very good chance that your lethargic computer could have in it still a second (or third!) life with a relatively inexpensive tool: a PC tune-up utility. A tune-up utility is an application that digs deep into your computer and fixes trouble areas. It performs several functions, including defragmenting your PC’s hard drive, repairing the incredibly problematic Windows registry, and deleting useless and duplicate files.

SQFT is a Real Estate App to Help Homeowners Slash Broker Commissions – After downloading the app and deciding you want to list your home, SQFT walks you through all the steps needed to create a listing. The software will help you include professional photos and features of your home, and even help identify the ideal asking price. SQFT posts your listing to over 450 real estate sites, including Trulia, Zillow, and MLS. The app will then help you schedule showings, respond to offers, and even sign the contract. These features mean that one could use SQFT to buy or sell a home without ever needing an in-person meeting with a real estate agent. By putting owners in charge of the entire process, SQFT aims to cut the industry standard listing fee from six percent to under two percent.

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Instagram wants to be part of the world’s conversations with its new search and explore tools – Trending places will also get their own dedicated part of the explore section, and Instagram’s search feature has been updated to include places in search results in addition to the existing people and tags categories. There’s also a way to search across all three categories at once, with Instagram bringing you the “top” results across the service.

Lenovo unveils the Ideacenter Stick 300: a $130 PC on a stick running Windows – Lenovo is introducing a brand new PC-on-a-stick device, called the Ideacenter Stick 300. The new device is designed to be taken anywhere and can transform almost any display into a Windows computer. Lenovo’s new HDMI dongle is basically a PC in stick, and though we’ve seen this type of devices before, the Ideacenter Stick’s price might make it quite attractive. The device starts at $139 and comes with the following specs:

Intel Baytrail Z3735F CPU

Up to 2GB of RAM

Up to 32GB of storage

Speakers

WiFI 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0

1 x HDMI, 1x Micro USB 2.0, SD card reader

Windows 8.1 with Bing

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When Windows refuses to eject mass storage: 5 ways to safely remove a USB drive – The whole point of external USB-connected storage is that you can easily unplug it, but Windows’s Eject Mass Storage option balks sometimes. Resist the urge to yank out the drive and try one of these solutions instead.

Google is making a medical wristband that tracks your health – Google is working on a medical-grade fitness tracking wristband, according to Bloomberg. Not only will it measure vitals like heart rate, pulse, and skin temperature on a “minute-by-minute” basis, it will also measure external information like sun exposure. The wristband is being developed by Google X, the secretive lab behind projects like Glass, Loon, and the company’s self-driving cars. It won’t be available to general consumers. Instead, Google intends for the device to be used in clinical trials and prescribed to medical patients.

Replace your PC’s heart: How to install a power supply in your computer – Don’t underestimate the importance of your PC’s power source. A good power supply serves as the cornerstone for a low-maintenance and highly reliable computer. But more often than not, boxed, pre-built desktops ship with the cheapest power supplies that meet the criteria of their product warranties. This means that two or three years after buying your computer, you may find yourself with a perfectly functional desktop that one day decides either not to power on or to emit a puff of black smoke.

Intel’s free remote app lets you control your PC with your Android phone – The new Remote Keyboard app is designed for Intel’s NUC and Compute Stick miniature PCs, but should work with any machine running Windows 7 and higher. The app is easy enough to set up. Just download it from the Google Play Store, then install the free host software on your PC. The mobile app automatically detects the host computer, and you can complete the pairing process by scanning a QR code on the computer screen with your phone’s camera. Similar to other smartphone remotes, Intel’s app uses Wi-Fi to communicate between the phone and the PC.

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Backup basics – The rule of thumb for PC backup is simple: just do it. If you’ve ever lost data as a result of a computer crash, you know what a long, expensive process recovery can be. It’s far easier just to restore data from a backup, whether that’s the cloud, network-attached storage, or a USB device. Here’s an overview of your backup options and a step-by-step guide to backing up your Windows PC.

You Can Now Buy Amazon’s Siri-For-Your-Home – Amazon’s Amazon Echo voice-activated, connected home command center is now available for anybody to purchase. The Siri-like device will start shipping July 14. The cylindrical Echo, which responds to voice commands and allows a user to learn the weather, set alarms, and listen to music, had a limited launch in fall 2014. Since then, Amazon has added many new features to the Echo, including compatibility with the music streaming service Pandora, the audiobook service Audible, and more.

Security:

What is malware? – There are currently over 375 million malicious programs out there, with another 390,000 recorded each day, according to AV-Test. In recent months, the number of total malware threats has increased by 13 percent, and mobile malware is growing even faster, with the number of new incidences skyrocketing by 49 percent, according to McAfee (PDF link to report). Don’t ignore the onslaught — get to know your coded enemies and learn how to defeat them.

Hackers exploit fresh PC hijack bug in Adobe Flash Player, the internet’s screen door – Adobe is advising users and administrators to patch its Flash Player after yet another remote-code execution vulnerability was discovered in the plugin. The patch fixes bug CVE-2015-3113, which allows attackers to take control of a system if it opens a malicious Flash file. Miscreants are exploiting the flaw in the wild to hijack PCs, targeting Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and Firefox on Windows XP. Adobe credited researchers at FireEye in spotting and reporting the flaw. Miscreants are apparently spamming out links in emails to websites hosting malicious Flash files that exploit the vulnerability.

Programmers are copying security flaws into your software, researchers warn – Many software developers are cribbing code, and its flaws, that someone else created. And the problem is only getting harder to keep up with.

The government is falling behind on application security – Three out of four applications used by government organizations are not compliant with one of the primary software security policies and most of the flaws found in them never get fixed, according to a report released Tuesday by U.S.-based application security firm Veracode. The report is based on an analysis of more than 200,000 applications over the past 18 months that are used by organizations in various industries. The tests were performed using Veracode’s cloud-based application security testing platform that uses static analysis, dynamic analysis and manual penetration testing techniques.

Polish airline victim to DDoS attack, U.S. planes could be susceptible – A cyber attack grounded a fleet of aircraft in Poland on Sunday. All the planes were part of the Polish national airline, LOT. although the Polish domestic intelligence agency is being stingy with details, they claim the 1,400 passengers who were stranded were never actually in any danger. The flight plan systems that were affected are not used not used during actual flight. Therefore, none of the planes already en route were affected, only those on the ground at Chopin airport in Warsaw.

Google cures Chrome security flaws in fresh update – Tech giant highlights four vulnerabilities spotted by external researchers — one with a $5000 bounty — in notes on the latest update to its Web browser.

Company News:

Apple, Microsoft CEOs Call for End to Racism After Charleston Shooting – In the wake of last week’s shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., that left nine dead, some voices that rarely pipe up on national issues resounded across social media: those of Silicon Valley CEOs. Over the weekend, executives from Salesforce, Apple, Microsoft, and other tech companies took to Twitter to express condolences for the victims’ families. And some took it even further, joining some politicians to call for South Carolina to take down the Confederate flag that flies in the capital.

Samsung teams with Red Hat to build enterprise apps – Red Hat and Samsung will build “enterprise-ready, industry-specific” apps in areas like business intelligence, customer service and inventory management, they announced Tuesday. Companies will be able to deploy the apps on Red Hat’s new mobile application platform, which Red Hat announced separately the same day. The apps will run on Android and other OSes, and they’ll be configurable to work with common back-end systems, the companies said. Red Hat and Samsung will jointly market the apps, focusing initially on the U.S.

Nokia files for EU permission to buy Alcatel-Lucent – The European Commission has set 27 July as D-Day for its decision on the Nokia/Alcatel-Lucent takeover. The €15.6 billion deal, first announced in April, was waved through US approval by the Department of Justice last week.

Verizon Completes Its Acquisition of AOL For $4.4B – Well, that was fast: Verizon has just announced that it has completed its acquisition of AOL, owner of TechCrunch, purchasing all outstanding shares for $50 per share in cash for a total price of $4.4 billion. The sale was originally announced just over a month ago. As Verizon said at the time of the original announcement that it was buying AOL, Tim Armstrong, AOL’s CEO, will continue to lead AOL operations. Now we have a few more details of how the whole operation with merge with Verizon’s. Bob Toohey, president of Verizon Digital Media Services, reporting to Armstrong. Digital Media Services is Verizon’s advertising business.

Tidal fires CEO amid fears of competition from incoming Apple Music – Tidal has just let go of its CEO, Peter Tonstad. As Tonstad was only the interim CEO, it’s natural that his time with Tidal would come to an end. But, Tidal doesn’t have anyone stepping in to take over as CEO, indicating the change is abrupt. Tonstad had only been with Tidal since April when he replaced the previous CEO, Andy Chen. This juggling act of power positions comes as Tidal gets a new competitor on the streaming scene, Apple Music.

Box And IBM Ink Wide-Ranging Cloud Partnership – This evening, Box and IBM announced a partnership that will see their technologies integrated, and their cloud products commingled. As part of the arrangement, Box will also offer its customers the ability to store their data on IBM’s cloud, which will have — I checked with the firm — 46 data centers around the world by the end of the year. The deal has a number of facets, including the integration of Box with IBM’s content management technology, the application of IBM data tools to information stored by Box, use of IBM security tech by Box, and a set of promised mobile applications building on the tech of both firms.

Games and Entertainment:

Batman: Arkham Knight for PC is seriously broken, say AMD and Nvidia users – Reviews for the console version of Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight have been overwhelmingly positive, but PC players aren’t so happy. Users on reddit and Steam are reporting all manner of problems with the game, including stuttering, wildly variable frame rates, and crashes, to name but a few. There are also reports of memory leaks causing the game to spike to over 12GB of memory usage before crashing entirely. In response, Steam users have bombed the game’s profile page with negative reviews. While the performance issues affect both Nvidia and AMD users, including those with high-end cards like the GTX 980 running the latest “Game Ready” drivers, it appears that once again AMD users are suffering the most.

PCs, external graphics, is coming soon via Oculink – Oculink, designed for external PCI Express graphics on notebooks and PCs, could give laptops the graphics punch they need for gaming after hours.

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Hulu will offer its subscribers a discount on Showtime – Hulu is making another big play for cord cutters. It’s partnering with Showtime to offer online subscriptions to the network’s shows, movies, and live video feeds — everything that’s available through its upcoming streaming service — but the subscriptions will be offered at a discount to existing Hulu subscribers. Rather than paying the standard $10.99 per month for online Showtime, Hulu subscribers will only have to pay $8.99 per month (although that’s on top of the existing $7.99 per month for Hulu itself). It’s a small discount, but it certainly adds up month to month and starts to better position Hulu as the hub for streaming TV that it’s always dreamed of being. Appropriately, Showtime’s shows and movies will be accessed through the Hulu app.

This week’s Xbox One and Xbox 360 Deals With Gold revealed – Microsoft has announced the latest round of Xbox One and Xbox 360 games and DLC that Xbox Live Gold members can pick up on the cheap, and it’s a list of games headlined by Wolfenstein and Evolve. You can check out the full list of deals, which are available from now through June 29, below.

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Bethesda Softworks

New Study Shows A Rise In Cord Cutting – 8.2 Percent Ditched Pay TV In 2014, Up 1.3% YoY – There’s been some debate about how many consumers are actually cutting ties with their pay TV providers and replacing them with over-the-top streaming media services – a trend generally referred to as “cord cutting.” But a recent study  indicates that the number of cord cutters in North America is, in fact growing – in 2014, 8.2 percent of former pay TV subscribers surveyed by TiVo subsidiary Digitalsmiths said they ditched their service – an increase of 1.3 percent over the prior year. Meanwhile, a much larger 45.2 percent said they reduced their cable or satellite TV service during the same time frame.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Facebook doesn’t need your face to recognize you – Facebook has developed the next level of facial recognition software that is so clever, it can identify you even if your face is obscured. If you were paranoid about being auto-tagged in pictures before, Facebook’s new recognition capabilities won’t do anything to allay those fears. This new algorithm removes any residual layers of privacy a user would have from photographing themselves from the neck down, or covering their face. The AI behind the development seems human-like its ability to identify a friend from the back of their head.

Consumers Spend 85% Of Time On Smartphones In Apps, But Only 5 Apps See Heavy Use – New research on mobile behavior released today points to the growing struggle that app businesses face in establishing themselves as a must-have download on users’ smartphones. Today’s consumers are spending over 85 percent of their time on their smartphones using native applications, but the majority of their time – 84 percent – is spent using just five non-native apps they’ve installed from the App Store. Those five apps will vary from person to person. For some, their top five could include social media or gaming, while others may spend more time in instant messaging.

Girl gets leg stuck in drain while texting and walking – This is the latest in a series. It’s a series that has no end. It will run permanently on Web channels because there’s something so very human — in a Benny Hill way — about its episodes. Today’s episode comes from Mianyang City, China where a teenage girl was walking down the street and was also, as teens do, texting. As News.com.au in Australia reports, she stepped on a storm drain. There was only one problem. She was quite a skinny girl and her leg slid straight through the bars of the drain. She became wedged.

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News Time/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

11 Jaw-Dropping Solar Flare Images – On Sunday, while you were busy being disappointed by the new season of True Detective, the Sun was cranking out a big ol’ fireball and floating it in our planet’s general direction. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has labeled the storm a G4, the most severe solar storm designation. This is the most active storm of the year so far, and we may not be out of the woods yet. The SWPC has issued a forecast that ejecta from a second solar flare will get tangled up with the Earth on Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

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US Navy paid millions to stay on Windows XP – The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy’s communications and information networks, signed a $9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003. The entire contract could be worth up to $30.8 million and extend into 2017.

Faster computers, coming soon, as graphics chip answers the call to action – New tech used by Apple and Microsoft promises to uncork bottlenecks. That’s great for computer users who want new features, but brings new complications for those who build our software.

eBay has banned all auctions and sales of the Confederate flag – The Confederate flag has seen its last eBay auction. Today the company announced that effective immediately, it’s banning all sales of the divisive flag and “its image.” eBay joins US retailers Walmart and Sears in doing away with the Confederate flag in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Something to think about:

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

–     Oscar Wilde

Today’s Free Downloads:

Secure Webcam – Secure Webcam monitors your active built-in webcam in real-time with a disable button in menu. You can also use the exit button to quit the software application at anytime.

Features:

Check Webcam Function

No PayPal Donations SPAM

Easy To Use

100% FREEWARE

100% Spyware Free

Compatible with Windows 8

Very Lightweight

User Elevation

Newer Interface

Disable any Webcam Hardware – New Feature!

Works with all kinds of HIPS Protection

Icons & Sound Effects

All Software Bugs fixed – New Feature!

Activation Box – New Feature!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA targeted France’s last three presidents for surveillance, says Wikileaks – Wikileaks has published a new cache of secret communications, and the documents come with explosive allegations about US surveillance of French government affairs. According to Wikileaks, the documents are the result of sustained NSA surveillance of the French elected officials, including the country’s last three Presidents. That claim is backed up by an apparent list of NSA targets, including the names and phone numbers of more than fifteen French ministers and advisors, including the president. The dump also includes intercepts from conversations between various French officials, including intelligence summaries.

The source of the documents is still unclear. Notably, the organization has not named prominent NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has expressed support for Wikileaks in the past but disagrees with the group’s full-disclosure policies and has never publicly worked with the group. Some have speculated that there may be other sources leaking NSA documents who have yet to come forward. If these documents do come from a separate source, it would represent the most significant breach of NSA security since the initial Snowden leaks.

Supreme Court declares warrantless searches of hotel registries illegal – The Supreme Court gave a big boost to privacy Monday when it ruled that hotels and motels could refuse law enforcement demands to search their registries without a subpoena or warrant. The justices were reviewing a challenge to a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotels to provide information to law enforcement—including guests’ credit card number, home address, driver’s license details, and vehicle license number—at a moment’s notice. Similar ordinances exist in about a hundred other cities stretching from Atlanta to Seattle.

Los Angeles claimed the ordinance (PDF) was needed to battle gambling, prostitution, and even terrorism, and that guests would be less likely to use hotels and motels for illegal purposes if they knew police could access their information at will.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the 5-4 majority, ruled (PDF) that the Los Angeles ordinance violated the Fourth Amendment and is an illegal “pretext to harass hotel operators and their guests.”

US, UK Intel agencies worked to subvert antivirus tools to aid hacking – Documents from the National Security Agency and the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reveal that the two agencies—and GCHQ in particular—targeted antivirus software developers in an attempt to subvert their tools to assure success in computer network exploitation attacks on intelligence targets. Chief among their targets was Kaspersky Labs, the Russian antivirus software company, according to a report by The Intercept’s Andrew Fishman and First Look Media Director of Security Morgan Marquis-Boire.

Kaspersky has had a high profile in combatting state-sponsored malware and was central in the exposure of a secret NSA-backed hacking group that had been in operation for 14 years. More recently, it was revealed that Kaspersky had come under direct attack recently from an updated version of the Duqu malware—possibly launched by an Israeli-sponsored hacking group. The same malware was found on the networks of locations hosting negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. But the latest Snowden documents show that both the NSA and GCHQ waged a somewhat more subversive battle against Kaspersky—both by attempting to reverse-engineer the company’s antivirus software and leveraging its intelligence-collection operations for their own benefit.

Australia passes controversial anti-piracy web censorship law – A controversial bill to allow websites to be censored has been passed by both houses of the Australian parliament. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 allows companies to go to a Federal Court judge to get overseas sites blocked if their “primary purpose” is facilitating copyright infringement.

Dr Matthew Rimmer, an associate professor at the Australian National University College of Law, points out that there is a lack of definitions within the bill: “What is ‘primary purpose’? There’s no definition. What is ‘facilitation’? Again, there’s no definition.” That’s dangerous, he believes, because it could lead to “collateral damage,” whereby sites that don’t intend to hosting infringing material are blocked because a court might rule they were covered anyway. Moreover, Rimmer told The Sydney Morning Herald that controversial material of the kind released by WikiLeaks is often under copyright, which means that the new law could be used to censor information that was embarrassing, but in the public interest.

The bill passed easily in both houses thanks to bipartisan support from the Liberal and Labor parties: only the Australian Greens put up any fight against it. Bernard Keane explains in an article on Crikey that the main argument for the new law—that it would save Australian jobs—is completely bogus. Claims that film piracy was costing 6100 jobs every year don’t stand up to scrutiny: “If piracy were going to destroy 6000 jobs in the arts sector every year, why is employment in the specific sub-sector that according to the copyright industry is the one directly affected by piracy now 31,000, compared to 24,000 in 2011?” Keane asks.

U.K. Spy Oversight Court Rules GCHQ Acted Unlawfully Again – The U.K.’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the judicial oversight body which handles complaints relating to domestic intelligence agencies, has ruled that GCHQ acted unlawfully in the handling of intercepted communications data in another case brought by civil liberties groups, including Liberty, Privacy International and Amnesty International.

The IPT judged that GCHQ acted unlawfully and breached its own internal policies on interception, examination and retention of emails from two human rights organizations — the Egypt­ian Ini­tia­tive for Per­sonal Rights (EIPR) and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in South Africa — thereby breaching their human rights.

The court ruled only that “error” and “technical” failures led to the spy agency to break its internal interception policies.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 22, 2015

How to disable video autoplay on Twitter;  Chromebooks get integrated Chromecast support;  Customize Android voice commands with MyVoice;  Apple will replace faulty 3TB hard drives;  Facebook’s new photo app won’t launch in Europe;  Samsung makes big trucks transparent in the name of road safety;  Microsoft flip-flops on Windows 10 for Insiders promise;  Get serious about Android anti-theft with Cerberus;  Hackers had access to security clearance data for a year;  The best PC games of E3 2015;  Uber says no guns in cars, changing policy;  Your Bank Should Be More Like Your Waiter And Less Like Your Landlord;  Get any Xbox One game free when you buy an Xbox One;  Louisiana governor vetoes license plate reader bill, citing privacy concerns;  MyPermissions Cleaner for Chrome (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to disable video autoplay on Twitter – Twitter yesterday introduced what it calls “a more streamlined consumption experience” where videos, GIFs and Vines will autoplay as you encounter them on your timeline and across Twitter. This new autoplay feature is enabled by default. And in my case, the Twitter app for iOS was set to autoplay videos whether I was on Wi-Fi or a cellular connection. Thankfully, you can disable autoplay on the desktop and disable it or restrict it to only when you are on a Wi-Fi network on the iOS app.

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Twitter’s Overhaul Will Let You Follow Events Rather Than People – With its CEO on the way out, Twitter is planning big changes this fall to make the social network more accessible to newcomers. In a BuzzFeed profile, company executives detail an upcoming initiative called Project Lightning that will lead to an increased focus on surfacing interesting content around live events.

Customize Android voice commands with MyVoice – The most appealing things about MyVoice is that it only adds to the built-in voice control system, instead of installing a third-party system. This means that the service will be more reliable. And the fact that it can customize commands makes it pretty remarkable. How do you use this fantastic app? It’s simple. Let’s take a look.

Chromebooks get integrated Chromecast support, no browser needed – You’ll still need the Google Cast Extension installed but Google has added Chromecast controls directly into the platform’s system tray for streaming windows or your desktop.

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Apple will replace faulty 3TB hard drives in affected older iMacs – Apple has identified a problem in the hard drives of specific older iMacs. 3TB hard drives for 27-inch Macs that were sold between December 2012 and September 2013 could “fail under certain conditions”. Mac users affected by the problem are eligible for a special replacement program where the faulty hard drive will be switched out for free. This isn’t the first time iMacs have had this kind of problem. In 2011 Apple replaced faulty HDD’s from the manufacturer, Seagate.

Twitter Product Pages Zero in on Shopping – Twitter is getting into the shopping game by tweaking its service to organize content around products. It’s also opening up collections for a few key partners, which will allow those browsing Twitter to check out a number of product recommendations focused on a particular topic.

Facebook’s new photo app won’t launch in Europe because of facial recognition – Earlier this week, Facebook launched Moments, a new photo-sharing app that uses facial recognition technology to dig up forgotten snaps of friends from your camera roll. It’s a neat trick, but not one that Facebook’s European users will be able to try out: the social network has said that Moments won’t launch on the continent due to worries that European regulators will object to its use of facial recognition.

Microsoft flip-flops on Windows 10 for Insiders promise – Microsoft promising a free upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and 8.1 users is definitely a great thing, but it seems that Redmond still can’t its strategy pinned down. It once sent confusing messages regarding Windows 10 updates for those running on non-genuine (read: pirated) copies of the operating system. Now it’s muddling the waters again for their own testers, at first saying the Windows Insiders who have been testing Windows 10 will get the update for free, backtracking on that position, and then ambiguously confirming it again.

Surplus food for the homeless is just an app away – On-demand smartphone apps are known for addressing the whims and desires of the comfortable. It turns out they can also serve the greater good.

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Feeding Forward CEO Komal Ahmad shows off surplus food collected from the Bite Silicon Valley food-tech conference in early June. Leftovers gathered at this event fed more than 4,279 people at eight different shelters and food banks.

Get serious about Android anti-theft with Cerberus – One of the most frequent questions I receive is what to do when a phone is lost or stolen. The short (and simple) answer to that query is to prepare for the eventuality. That means either setting up your device via the Google Device Manager or another, similar type of service. If you don’t take this one (mostly) easy step, you might well find yourself out of luck. With that in mind, I want to introduce you to another anti-theft service, Cerberus. This app/service isn’t free (there’s a one week trial… after that, it’ll cost you 4.99 EUR). Once you take a look at this service, you’ll quickly realize that it’s worth every penny.

Heinz in hot sauce after ketchup bottle’s QR code links to porn site – Technically Incorrect: Heinz allows a domain for a promotion to lapse and who should slip into it instead? Oh, no.

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The offending bottle.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup/Facebook screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Why big open-source projects are fleeing SourceForge’s free software hub – SourceForge is in trouble. The download-hosting site retreated after public outcry, removing the junkware it inserted into downloads of the popular GIMP image editing tool without the developers’ permission. But SourceForge has still lost the trust of the open-source community after the junkware-wrapping scandal—and now more open-source projects are leaving SourceForge for greener pastures like GitHub and FossHub.

Security:

Game-over HTTPS defects in dozens of Android apps expose user passwords – Researchers have unearthed dozens of Android apps in the official Google Play store that expose user passwords because the apps fail to properly implement HTTPS encryption during logins or don’t use it at all. The roster of faulty apps have more than 200 million collective downloads from Google Play and have remained vulnerable even after developers were alerted to the defects. The apps include the official titles from the National Basketball Association, the Match.com dating service, the Safeway supermarket chain, and the PizzaHut restaurant chain. They were uncovered by AppBugs, a developer of a free Android app that spots dangerous apps installed on users’ handsets.

Matchlight finds breaches faster by scouring the dark web for stolen data – Matchlight detects data breaches faster, more accurately, and in a way you might not expect. TechRepublic spoke with Terbium Labs about how Matchlight works.

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Hackers had access to security clearance data for a year – Hackers who breached a database containing highly personal information on government employees with security clearances had access to the system for about a year before being discovered, The Washington Post reported on Friday. The database in question contains applications for security clearances, which ask for information on all aspects of a person’s life including social security numbers, passport numbers, names of former neighbors, and information on family members. It also asks about, over the past seven years, any contact with foreign nationals and problems with drug or alcohol abuse, debts or bankruptcy, imprisonment and run-ins with law enforcement

Company News:

Uber says no guns in cars, changing policy – Uber, the ride-hailing company based in San Francisco, has reworked its legal policies to include a ban on firearm possession by its drivers and passengers. “We seek to ensure that everyone using the Uber digital platform…feels safe and comfortable,” the new policy reads. “Uber and its affiliates therefore prohibit possessing firearms of any kind in a vehicle.” Those found violating the rule may lose access to Uber’s services.

The FCC is slapping AT&T with a $100 million fine for misleading unlimited data customers – The FCC is fining AT&T after an investigation concluded they misled millions of unlimited data customers by throttling their data and failing to adequately notify users of their plan’s limitations.

Apple Says “We Hear You Taylor Swift”, Will Pay Musicians During Free Trial – Apple’s Eddy Cue has just announced that Apple Music will change its plan and pay royalties to artists even during its three-month free trial for users, following Taylor Swift’s public complaint about the policy. She had planned to withhold her hit album ‘1989’ from the service in protest. We’ve learned that Apple made this decision to change its policy today. Apple had planned to offer users a three-month free trial of its upcoming streaming Apple Music service that launches June 30th. However, it had negotiated deals with the major labels to not pay rights holders royalties during these trials and instead pay a tiny bit more in royalty rates afterwards.

Report: Nokia CEO Talks Mobile Comeback – Nokia isn’t done with mobile phones just yet. After selling its handset business to Microsoft last year, the Finnish company is officially looking to make a comeback in the mobile space. But it’s not planning to go at it alone. Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri reportedly told the German website Manager Magazin that his company is looking to find “suitable partners” to help with the effort. Suri’s comments aren’t all that surprising, given that rumors about Nokia’s mobile ambitions have been swirling for months.

Verizon ordered to finish fiber build that it promised but didn’t deliver – New York City officials today ordered Verizon to complete fiber builds that the company was supposed to finish a year ago. If Verizon doesn’t comply, the city can seek financial damages. In a 2008 agreement with New York City, Verizon committed to extend its FiOS network to every household across the five boroughs by June 30, 2014,” said the announcement of an audit released today by the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT). Verizon’s FiOS fiber network delivers Internet, TV, and phone service to areas traditionally served by Verizon’s copper landlines and DSL Internet.

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Apple Store Stops Selling The Original iPad Mini – Apple’s original iPad mini, the only non-Retina iPad still on sale, was quietly removed from Apple’s online store last night, as noted by 9to5Mac. Comparing the iPad section of the store between this morning and yesterday reveals that the first-gen iPad mini has been dropped from the comparison chart, too, leaving the iPad mini 2 and 3, as well as the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 as the current tablet options available to purchase new.

Games and Entertainment:

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is beautiful, brutal, and seriously ambitious – Yes, great video games should be more than just graphical eye candy, but in the case of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, it’s hard to ignore its aesthetic charms. The Dawn engine demo shown at the first annual PC Gaming Show—which included a list of flashy effects like depth of field, global illumination, volumetric lighting, air density, and exquisitely rendered cucumbers—was but a tease for what the actual game looks like in motion. Mankind Divided was easily the best-looking thing I saw at this year’s E3—and in a show filled with graphical heavyweights like Dice’s Star Wars: Battlefront, Sony’s Uncharted 4, and Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, that’s high praise indeed.

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Dark Souls III is faster, weirder, and far more beautiful – I myself am not one really of those converted, barring flirtations with Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne. But after watching Miyazaki play through about 20 minutes of Dark Souls III, I think this might be the point where I jump in. The stage I saw was called Wall of Lodeleth, and its gothic medieval setting is instantly evocative, with ash-covered dragon corpses and jagged spires silhouetted against a hazy sun. The Souls games have never been the most technically accomplished, but stylistically they achieve a lot with a little; combined with Dark Souls III’s smoother performance on Xbox One, it’s the most striking entry in the series to date.

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New trailers: Peanuts, The Leftovers, Kung Fu Panda 3, and more – This was a big week for comedy and animation. It’s a nice change. There are so many serious, dark, and gritty trailers that fill up every other week that it’s good to have a little time away from them. Don’t worry — there’s still some of the dark stuff down below, but for the most part, you’re in for a fun week.

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Get any Xbox One game free when you buy an Xbox One – From June 21 to June 27, anyone buying an Xbox One from participating US retailers will get any game of their choosing for free. The only proviso is that the game must cost $59.99 or less and must be on optical media. This offer even covers the brand new $399 1 terabyte Xbox One that includes a 3.5 mm headset jack on its controller and already comes bundled with Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Sony says it has “no plans” for Xbox One-style backward compatibility on PS4 – Microsoft is enabling Xbox One owners to play their older Xbox 360 games on its latest console, but Sony says it does not intend to offer similar backward compatibility on its PS4.

The best PC games of E3 2015 – Forget Xbox. PlayStation? Pfah. PC gaming is the real cutting-edge of gaming, and here at PCWorld we covered more than fifty titles prepared to grace computer screens. Even crazier, that wasn’t even all of them. Heck, AMD even announced its new flagship Radeon Fury X graphics card at E3 this year. In such a swelling sea of games, it’s good to highlight a chosen few that stood out from the rest. These are the PC games that got us personally excited at E3 2015, in no particular order.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch John Oliver Take on Internet Trolls on Last Week Tonight – John Oliver took on Internet trolls on this week’s Last Week Tonight with the help of some “vintage AOL ads.” The Internet was supposed to change the world, but it has become a place where you can see “glamour shots of cats” and “angora show bunnies” or rickroll your entire audience with a clip of Rick Astley singing “Never Gonna Give You Up” (twice). It’s also become a place to say horrifying things to complete strangers and dabble in revenge porn, according to Oliver.

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Our Favorite Quotes About Technology – We polled the PCMag staff for some of their favorite tech quotes, and these are their top picks.

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Devs Use Minor Updates To Resurrect iOS Apps On The Slide, Study Finds – App updates are a strategic tool used by developers to revive waining interest in their software and spark downloads. That’s one of the conclusions from a study by a group of Italian academics looking at how app developers use updates to attract attention, and how effective this strategy is on Android vs iOS.

California high school installs security system to pinpoint gunfire – A high school in Newark, California, has become the first in the country to install a high-tech system designed to pinpoint the location of gunfire. It’s called ShotSpotter, and it’s already in use across several cities across the US, including New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Oakland, Minneapolis, and more. And that’s what it’s designed for — even wealthy cities like New York have only deployed the system in high-crime precincts that see frequent episodes of gunfire.

In Sweden, blood donors get a text whenever they save a life – Blood donation rates have risen 25 percent among high-income countries, but centers have seen a steep decline in new volunteers. Centers across the world are trying to figure out how to raise awareness about the importance of giving. So, Sweden looked to social media to solve its issue, crafting a system that texts donors, telling them when their blood has been used to help another. The notification system has already been quite effective in spreading a positive message about giving blood. Donors have tweeted images of the SMS messages they’ve received. It starts with a simple “thank you” after donation and then gets pretty personal when a follow-up notification says your blood has been used to help another.

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OneGo Will Offer Unlimited West Coast Flights For $1,500 A Month – Here’s an unusual pricing plan for air travel — instead of paying for each trip, hand over a $1,500 monthly fee and fly as much as you want. So what do you actually get for that $1,500? Unlimited direct flights (economy class) on major airlines like America, Delta, United and Virgin America, plus perks like Gogo WiFi membership and enrollment in TSA Pre for faster security screenings. There are some constraints — the flights have to be booked seven days in advance, and you can’t have more than four open reservations at a time. You can also pay extra for things like last-minute booking, unlimited flight changes and more open reservations.

Samsung makes big trucks transparent in the name of road safety – Back in 2009, Russian design house Art Lebedev introduced the dramatically titled Transparentius concept for improving road safety. It was remarkably simple: put a camera on the front of large, slow-moving trucks and connect it to video displays on the back, thereby informing trailing drivers whether it’s safe to overtake the big rig. That’s the exact same idea that Samsung is now pursuing with a new prototype truck. Making use of its abundance of outdoor displays, the Korean company has stitched together a video wall of four displays at the rear of the truck, which transmits video captured by a wireless camera at the front.

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Your Bank Should Be More Like Your Waiter And Less Like Your Landlord – The financial services industry in America is locked into a business model of exploitation. For far too long, this has gone largely unchecked and unquestioned, even when advances in technology mean it doesn’t have to be so.

Something to think about:

“You can’t help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.”

–       H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Humour:

Q: How cold is it in Canada?

A: In Celsius:

+25: visiting Aussies put on sweaters (if they actually own one)

+20: visiting Floridians ask if somebody could please turn on the heat

+10: you start to see your own breath. Vancouverites begin shivering uncontrollably

0: water freezes; construction begins on backyard hockey rinks

-10: Vancouverites weep with cold; Maritimers put on T-shirts

-15: Manitobans host the last backyard cookout with ice cream for dessert; Maritimers go camping

-25: Manitobans do up the top button

-35: Ottawans think about digging out their mitts

-50: Prairie kids start saying “Cold, eh?” and elect to stay inside for recess

-60: Vancouverites disappear; Montrealers put on overcoats; Yukoners close the bathroom window

-70: Hell freezes over and the Leafs win the Stanley Cup (joking, joking!)

Source: Favourite Canadian Jokes | WhyGo Canada Travel Guide

Today’s Free Downloads:

MyPermissions Cleaner for Chrome – MyPermissions is a free, powerful way to scan, track and control how applications access your personal information online. Know what apps you’ve connected to on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram and more are accessing what data – and approve, remove or report them.

MyPermissions is a watchdog for your cloud accounts. We protect users from unknowingly sharing photos, documents, locations, contacts, emails, or any other sensitive information, and we give them their control back by making it easy for them to approve or revoke what apps access their data, and how.

MyPermissions covers several platforms including:

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

LinkedIn

FourSquare

Instagram

Dropbox

and more!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Louisiana governor vetoes license plate reader bill, citing privacy concerns – In a rare move against the advance of license plate readers, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) has vetoed a plan to acquire the scanners in the Bayou State. It had previously passed both houses of the Louisiana legislature overwhelmingly.

Many law enforcement agencies nationwide use these specialized cameras to scan cars and compare them at incredible speeds to a “hot list” of stolen or wanted vehicles. In some cases, that data is kept for weeks, months, or even years.

In a signing statement Friday, Jindal wrote:

Senate Bill No. 250 would authorize the use of automatic license plate reader camera surveillance programs in various parishes throughout the state. The personal information captured by these cameras, which includes a person’s vehicle location, would be retained in a central database and accessible to not only participating law enforcement agencies but other specified private entities for a period of time regardless of whether or not the system detects that a person is in violation of vehicle insurance requirements. Camera programs such as these that make private information readily available beyond the scope of law enforcement, pose a fundamental risk to personal privacy and create large pools of information belonging to law abiding citizens that unfortunately can be extremely vulnerable to theft or misuse.

For these reasons, I have vetoed Senate Bill No. 250 and hereby return it to the Senate.

Australia: Dallas Buyers Club pirates to be asked about income, disabilities – The letter to be sent to alleged pirates of the film Dallas Buyers Club has been leaked, revealing questions around the pirates’ income and what other titles they have downloaded.

The letter, obtained by Mashable Australia, follows a Federal Court victory by Dallas Buyers Club LLC – the rights holders to the film of the same name – which won a case in April against several ISPs, including iiNet, to obtain the details of 4,726 alleged film pirates.

The win came with a catch however, with Justice Nye Perram ordering that he needed to approve both the draft letter to alleged pirates and telephone script before any action is taken.

If a person denies they are a pirate, that person may be compelled to “deliver up your computer for analysis”, the letter says.

“If you admit that you engaged in piracy and no settlement can be reached, then DBC and Voltage may commence proceedings against you for Copyright Infringement,” the letter reads.

ISP iiNet, the main defendant in the case, has offered free legal advice to people who receive the letter.  (recommended by Mal C.)

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