Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – August 28, 2015

No, Microsoft is not spying on you with Windows 10;  A Battle Royale Of Digital Assistants: The Big 5;  4 overblown Windows 10 worries;  Free or discounted software licenses, cloud resources for students;  How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches;  Facebook reaches 1-billion users milestone;  How ad blockers can improve your online safety and sanity;  Report: Most ‘Women’ on Ashley Madison Were Actually Fake;  Seven essential mobile apps for students;   Instagram supports landscape & vertical photos;  NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2015/2016 season;  The hidden cost of those ‘free’ gambling apps;  FIFA 16 demo lets you try women’s teams and more;  Pew report: Americans frown upon phone use in social settings;  Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story;  BitTorrent patches flaw;  25 Quotes That Take You Inside Albert Einstein’s Revolutionary Mind.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

No, Microsoft is not spying on you with Windows 10 – The Windows 10 privacy agreement doesn’t mean Microsoft is secretly stealing the data from your hard disk. Where do people come up with these crazy ideas? There is apparently a growing and very vocal population of people who believe that Windows 10 is basically a 1984 telescreen come to life. They are convinced that with Windows 10 Microsoft has built a spying apparatus not seen since the height of the Cold War, scraping up every detail of your life and feeding it back to Redmond for who knows what nefarious purposes. They’re going to need lots of tinfoil. They’re also either wildly misinformed or deliberately agitating. Unless, of course, they’re just crazy, which is entirely possible based on some of what I’ve read.

4 overblown Windows 10 worries – There are a lot of alarms going off about Windows 10’s effect on your security and privacy. We look at the four top concerns to find out whether they’re true or not, and tell you what you can do about them.

How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches – Despite the many highlights of Windows 10—Cortana, virtual desktops, windowed Windows Store apps, the revamped Start menu, DirectX 12, among others—there are still some annoyances with the new operating system. Windows 10 can reset your default browser if you upgrade; updates are now mandatory; and behind the scenes, the new OS is a file-sharing machine. Those are just a few of Windows 10’s notable headaches, but the good news is there are fixes for all these problems. Even better? Most are really easy to implement. Let’s dig in.

Free or discounted software licenses and cloud resources for students and educators – Get ahead of the class by using these offers for free or discounted software licenses and cloud resources available to university students and educators around the world. Many of the biggest names in IT provide free or heavily discounted access to software for students, in the hopes of converting them to paid customers after graduation. Students and educators, check out these available options.

Seven essential mobile apps for students – I’ve cut through the clutter and put together a list of educational apps that have something to offer students in middle school, high school and college. You’ll be able to use them with your Android or Apple device, and often your desktop browser. Some of them are so handy, it almost makes me want to go back to school again. I said “almost.”

A Battle Royale Of Digital Assistants: The Big 5 – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook now all have their own digital assistants that they’ve been pumping tons of cash into. There are lots of smaller companies also looking to break into this space (which I’ll soon look at separately) but these tech titans clearly have the upper hand at the moment. In a lot of ways most of these services struggle in similar areas where the technology isn’t quite where it needs to be, but each of these assistants definitely have their own flavor with some being clearly being better than others.

Chrome is getting more aggressive about silencing autoplay videos – Chrome is getting more aggressive about that least popular web feature: autoplay video. A new post from engineer François Beaufort laid out Chrome’s new approach, which will block playback as long as a given autoplay video is in a background tab. The browser will still load the video as soon as the tab is opened, but it won’t start it until you visit the page itself, hopefully preventing the usual surprise when a late-loading video starts up in the background. Under the new setup, that video won’t play until you click back to the relevant tab.

Instagram stops being a square, supports landscape & vertical photos – Instagram has finally gotten with the times and dropped its requirement that photos be in a square format. The social network has updated both its iOS and Android apps and now allows users to post photos in landscape and vertical orientations, in addition to the classic square. The same size change is applied to videos too. This will likely be a welcome change to Instagram users, who for years already have been taking photos and video on devices with rectangular screens.

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Microsoft Snip lets you quickly annotate and add audio to screenshots – If taking screenshots is part of your job, Microsoft is aiming to make it easier with a new tool called Snip. Available as a free beta, Snip lets you cut out a portion of the screen, annotate it with a drawing tool or voice notes, and then save or share the results. It’s unclear if Microsoft is planning to charge for the app, which was first spotted by The Verge. While Snip is hardly the only screen capture tool for Windows, its simplicity (and the fact that it’s free) makes it worth considering. If you don’t need the more extensive options of tools like Greenshot and PicPick, Snip could be a more efficient option.

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LG’s full-sized tablet keyboard rolls up for easy travel – The latest Bluetooth keyboard for tablets offers full-sized keys and yet rolls up into a stick resembling a big Tootsie Roll. LG makes it and it’s appropriately named the Rolly keyboard. Bluetooth pairing starts immediately once the keyboard is unrolled and LG says it can be paired with two mobile devices via Bluetooth 3.0. That feature can’t be used simultaneously of course; even though you can pair with two devices, the Rolly only works with one at a time.

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How to quickly shut down Windows 10 – It must be a point of pride in Redmond that even after all these years, you still have to click “Start” to shut down your computer. Granted, the Start button is no longer labeled that way, having evolved into a Windows-logo button back in Vista. But that’s still what it’s called, and still how Microsoft refers to it. So even in Windows 10, you have to click “Start” to shut down your PC. Then you click Power, and finally Shut Down. I’ll never understand why Microsoft has steadfastly refused to add a one-click Shut Down button to the desktop. Fortunately, there are faster ways to turn off your computer.

Adobe aims to bring Photoshop to mobile masses with upcoming app – Photoshop is so well known that the product name is synonymous with photo editing. But the software itself is a success only on personal computers, not smartphones or tablets. Photoshop’s maker, Adobe Systems, hopes that will change in October at its Max conference for developers and creative professionals when it introduces a new Photoshop app for editing photos on Apple’s iPhones and iPads initially and Android-powered devices later. The free software, called only Project Rigel for now, is designed to bring a more accessible interface to what can be a dauntingly complex program on PCs.

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Twitch meets Periscope with new streaming app Mirrativ – Move over Periscope, there’s a new live-streaming app vying for our attention. Launching today, Mirrativ (a portmanteau of mirror and narrative) lets you broadcast whatever is happening on the screen of your smartphone or tablet. It combines untethered mobile broadcasting, screen sharing and social interactions into one single app. You can use Mirrativ in beta on Android starting today, with iOS following in the coming weeks.

Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley outs pretty and cheap Obi Worldphones – Just to be clear, it’s Obi Worldphones, not Obi Wan. Terrible pop culture references aside, this news isn’t something you see everyday. John Sculley, who, at one point in time, lead one of the world’s biggest tech companies, has co-founded and announced two new smartphones. While some already point out their rather alluring design, these Obi Worldphones are two things that no iPhone will ever be: Android and affordable. Just because you were the former CEO of Apple doesn’t mean you have to forever drink their Kool-aid, right?

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Microsoft delivers Windows 10 PC build 10532 to Insiders – Windows 10 Build 10532 is available as of August 27 to those in the Fast Ring. In this latest build, Microsoft has improved context menus to give them “a modern look and feel” in the latest test build. The company also has enabled sharing in the Windows Feedback app, so that testers can share feedback via Twitter, Facebook and other channels. Microsoft simultaneously is rolling out test Build 10532 of its Edge browser, which includes new canvas blend modes, pointer lock, asm.js on by default and more.

Security:

How ad blockers can improve your online safety and sanity –  Ad blockers – software or browser extensions that filter all HTML elements that are expected to contain ads – can do more than just hide annoying ads. They can optimize your online experience in multiple ways, including decreasing your risk for encountering malware. We lay out the advantages of using an ad blocker and give you a few recommendations on which ones we like.

Tor security concerns prompt largest dark market to suspend operations – Administrators of Agora, the largest online black marketplace operating on the Tor anonymity network, decided to temporarily suspend the website because of possible attacks based on recent methods of exposing Tor Hidden Services.

BitTorrent patches flaw that could amplify distributed denial-of-service attacks – BitTorrent fixed a vulnerability that would have allowed attackers to hijack BitTorrent applications used by hundreds of millions of users in order to amplify distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The flaw was disclosed earlier this month in a paper presented at the 9th USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies by four researchers from City University London, Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences in Friedberg, Germany and cloud networking firm PLUMgrid.

Report: Most ‘Women’ on Ashley Madison Were Actually Fake – There’s a good chance that most men on Ashley Madison never even had the opportunity to cheat. That’s because most women on the site were actually fake. According to an analysis of the Ashley Madison data dump from Gizmodo, just about 12,000 of the 5.5 million female profiles on the now-infamous adultery site belonged to actual, living breathing women.

Company News:

Facebook reaches 1-billion users milestone – This week Facebook reached a milestone, one that includes 1-billion people having used the social network in a single day. This isn’t an average number – as Mark Zuckerberg said in an announcement today – but it is rather important. Facebook has millions of users log in every day, and billions of people using the social network every month, but here for the first time in the website’s history 1-billion people used Facebook in a single day.

Life360 Acquires Chronos To Add “Quantified Self” Tracking To Its Family Locator App – Life360, the maker of mobile applications for iOS, Android and Windows Phone that help keep families connected, has acquired Chronos Mobile Technologies, a startup behind a number of mobile apps that passively collect data from users’ smartphones in order to highlight trends and connections between various behaviors. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Chronos had closed on a small seed round from Maven Ventures, Draper Associates and Major League Baseball earlier in 2015.

Report: ‘Dozens’ of Amazon Fire Phone Engineers Get the Axe – Lackluster Fire Phone sales have reportedly prompted Amazon to lay off “dozens” of engineers at Lab126, a division of the company that focuses on Amazon’s hardware development, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s unclear exactly how many people were let go since they must sign non-disclosure agreements into order to get severance, the Journal said, but the division employs about 3,000 workers.

CenturyLink to deploy broadband to rural areas in 33 states – Telecom carrier CenturyLink will roll out broadband to 1.2 million U.S. homes and businesses in rural areas, using US $506 million from the Federal Communications Commission. The six-year project, expected to start early next year, covers rural areas in 33 states, including large parts of the Midwest, West and Southeast, in addition to other areas. States included in the deployment include Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Google rejects antitrust charges, digs in for a long fight – Google has responded to European Union regulators’ claims that its search results violate antitrust law, saying its search results are focused on “improving quality” and are not anti-competitive. “Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes,” wrote company general counsel Kent Walker in a Google blog post. “Economic data spanning more than a decade, an array of documents, and statements from complainants all confirm that product search is robustly competitive.” The blog post accompanies Google’s formal legal response that was filed today. European Union antitrust regulators formally charged Google with anticompetitive conduct in April.

Facebook Finally Cracks Down On Video Piracy – Facebook didn’t get to be one of the largest video streamers on the web without making a few enemies. Unfortunately, up to this point, a lot of those enemies were the people actually creating cool video content for the site. Today, Facebook is trying to rectify its poor management of controlling video piracy on its site and appease video creators who have been getting kind of pissed off at the site with a series of new updates.

SoundCloud faces lawsuit over alleged failure to pay royalties – Contentions regarding SoundCloud and the payment of royalties has been long-running, and now the audio streaming service is facing a lawsuit from Performing Rights Society for Music, more commonly referred to as PRS. The entity advised its members recently that it has sought for SoundCloud to “recognize their responsibilities” repeatedly; PRS states SoundCloud requires a license to operate in Europe and the United Kingdom. PRS went further and issued a press statement advising that it has “no choice” in the matter, and that after a half a decade of failed negotiations, it must proceed with a lawsuit.

Amazon Prime’s streaming video service to launch in Japan – With Netflix having already announced that they’re launching in Japan on September 2nd, Amazon has decided it’s not going to wait for its rival to gain a lead in the local market for streaming video services. The US internet shopping giant has announced it will be debuting its Prime Video service in Japan sometime this fall. Like Netflix’s service in the country, it’s still not clear what kind of programs will be available for streaming, however Amazon has promised the lineup will include popular US movies and TV shows, their award-winning originals, plus native Japanese content.

Games and Entertainment:

NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2015/2016 season – It’s getting a little easier to watch pro football online or over-the-air without an expensive cable TV bundle, but you’ll still have to make a few sacrifices.

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FIFA 16 demo lets you try women’s teams and more – Want to try out FIFA 16 before it hit store shelves? You’re in luck, as Electronic Arts has announced that a free demo for the upcoming professional soccer game will arrive starting September 8 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The FIFA 16 demo will let you try out the standard Kick-Off mode, as well as FIFA Ultimate Team Draft, FIFA Trainer, and new skill games. Featured in the demo are 10 high-profile teams from the around the world, as well as two women’s teams–including the World Cup-winning US Women’s National Team.

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EA Sports

The hidden cost of those ‘free’ gambling apps – Some of the most downloaded and highest-grossing video games in leading app stores use casino motifs for their designs, raising questions about the potential dangers of gambling apps.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is taking it to the Max…the IMAX – That’s correct, December 18 returns to a galaxy far, far away will come at you at the largest format possible for over a month, likely at a theater near you. A lot of high-profile movies get the IMAX treatment these days and since those tickets cost more for a premium experience — IMAX screens are an important part of increasing a movie’s box office take. The other gimmick used to convince you to see a film in theaters instead of waiting for it to stream is 3D, though thankfully The Force Awakens will spare us that.

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate ships on PC a month after consoles – Publisher Ubisoft will release Assassin’s Creed Syndicate on PC a month after it launches on consoles, to help ensure the build is shipped without major bugs or glitches. The action adventure title, which follows the story of brother and sister assassins in Victorian London, is scheduled for launch on PC from November 19. That equates to about a month delay from the PS4 and Xbox One release date, which is October 23. Previously, Ubisoft had given the PC build a “Holiday 2015” release target.

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Divinity: Original Sin II preview: An ambitious sequel to one of the biggest, best RPGs of 2014 – When talking about last year’s excellent Divinity: Original Sin, I’m fond of saying, “Imagine the game you’d get if, instead of dying off in the early 2000s, the isometric CRPG genre had kept evolving through 2014.” Now imagine that the same company came back afterward and pitched a sequel twice the scope. That’s Divinity: Original Sin II.

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Watching Is the New Doing – YouTube Gaming makes it a breeze to find and watch an endless supply of gaming livestreams and videos, but it’s a bit rough around the edges.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Psychology Of Insecurity – Why do we keep reading about a litany of breaches? Don’t cyber pros understand they are looking after our most sensitive personal data? Yes they do, but to understand their actions demands a more detailed examination of the psychology of security from the perspective of the security professional. It is time to recognize the psychology of our insecurity. We need a stronger mandate than regulation and the occasional public shaming of a clueless leader of an organization chartered with guarding vital information. We need infrastructure that is secure by design. There is no army of “cyber experts” big enough to pick through the haystack of alerts, trying to find the attack that actually penetrated the enterprise.

Pew report: Americans frown upon phone use in social settings – The widespread presence of mobile devices, namely smartphones, have brought about new issues in regards to etiquette, and though over the years a general shape about proper usage has formed, many still bicker about what is appropriate and what isn’t. Pew Research recently surveyed a bunch of Americans to find out their opinions on smartphone usage in public, and found that while most people are fine with phones being used when a person is in public, only a small percentage think it is okay to use the phone during a social gathering, whether you’re at the restaurant or just talking to someone.

25 Quotes That Take You Inside Albert Einstein’s Revolutionary Mind – In his lifetime, Einstein changed the world, describing the workings of reality better than anyone since Isaac Newton and revealing the capabilities of the atom bomb. In 1999, Time named him Person of the Century. Here are 25 of Einstein’s most telling quotes; each will take you inside the mind of the legend.

Iowa starts testing smartphone-based digital driver’s licenses – Over a year ago, we heard about the state of Iowa’s initiative to develop digital driver’s licenses that could eventually replace the plastic cards used through the US. The digital licenses would feature the same information as the physical versions — photo, address, date of birth, etc. — but be stored on a user’s smartphone. Well, Iowa has now announced that it’s beginning a test program, known as the Mobile Driver License (mDL), for a number of different situations, but limited to employees of the states’ Department of Transportation.

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HandUp, A Startup Focused On The Homeless, Launches Donation Gift Cards For Those Living On SF’s Streets – Since HandUp launched, the site has raised $886,000 so far for homeless people, mostly in San Francisco. On the site, moms are asking for funding for diapers. A veteran named Adam is raising a few thousand dollars for dental work. Another mother named Gladys, who lost both of her sons to unsolved homicides, is raising money to fix the van she lives in. Social workers and case managers at HandUp’s partner organizations make sure that clients are able to get what they asked for. But one of the most commonly requested features from donors was gift cards that people could give out directly on the street to people they pass by every day.

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Should police have the capability to take control of driverless cars? – There have already been plenty of ethical questions asked, like whether a driverless car should decide who lives or who dies during an accident scenario. One question often posed is whether a driverless vehicle could choose to ram a school bus full of kids or sacrifice the driverless vehicle’s occupants during a mishap. Now the Rand Corp. is thinking about how law enforcement officials should deal with driverless cars. A recent study (PDF) by the group ponders whether a cop should have the ability to remotely control a vehicle to pull it over.

Why We Look – We look because it’s there. We humans look towards violence in order to define it, to decide where we must run (or if we should stand and fight). We are fascinated by suffering. There is a cognitive bias towards the terrible. Many complain that there is not enough “happy” news. The problem is that there is happy news all around us, we just don’t notice. A baby smiling or someone offering someone else a spot on the bus doesn’t go viral because most humans experience little kindnesses and forget them. But we don’t forget violence.

Adobe says stop using ‘Photoshop’ as a generic term – When a company’s product so thoroughly corners a market that it becomes well-known even by those who have never used it, the company faces a problem: generic use of that product’s name. You’re likely to hear the term “dumpster” used generically, for example, as it is now a genericized trademark due to its common usage. Other trademarks have suffered the same fate — yo-yo, for example, and aspirin. Adobe doesn’t want its popular photo-editing software Photoshop to suffer the same fate, but it may be too late to stop it.

Something to think about:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”

–   Albert Einstein

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story – The Associated Press filed a lawsuit (PDF) this morning, demanding the FBI hand over information about its use of fake news stories. The case stems from a 2007 incident regarding a bomb threat at a school. The FBI created a fake news story with an Associated Press byline, then e-mailed it to a suspect to plant malware on his computer.

The AP sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI last year seeking documents related to the 2014 sting. It also seeks to know how many times the FBI has used such a ruse since 2000. The FBI responded to the AP saying it could take two years or more to gather the information requested. Unsatisfied with the response, the Associated Press has taken the matter to court.

An Electronic Frontier Foundation FOIA request on a different matter revealed the strategy in 2011, but it wasn’t made public until last year, when privacy researcher Chris Soghoian saw evidence of the operation in the documents and tweeted about it. That spurred both the AP and The Seattle Times to complain vocally about the FBI’s behavior.

“The FBI both misappropriated the trusted name of The Associated Press and created a situation where our credibility could have been undermined on a large scale,” AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser wrote in a letter to then-AG Eric Holder last year.

Germany trades citizens’ metadata for NSA’s top spy software – In order to obtain a copy of the NSA’s main XKeyscore software, whose existence was first revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency agreed to hand over metadata of German citizens it spies on. According to documents seen by the German newspaper Die Zeit, after 18 months of negotiations, the US and Germany signed an agreement in April 2013 that would allow the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamtes für Verfassungsschutz—BfV) to obtain a copy of the NSA’s most important program and to adopt it for the analysis of data gathered in Germany.

This was a lower level of access compared to the non-US “Five Eyes” nations—the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand—which had direct access to the main XKeyscore system. In return for the software, the BfV would “to the maximum extent possible share all data relevant to NSA’s mission.” Interestingly, there is no indication in the Die Zeit story that the latest leak comes from Snowden, which suggests that someone else has made the BfV’s “internal documents” available.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – August 26, 2015

UK surveillance “worse than 1984,” says new UN privacy chief;  Major Android remote-access vulnerability is now being exploited;  How to reclaim your privacy in Windows 10, piece by piece;  Microsoft releases printable Windows 10 key shortcut list;  BitTorrent tracker blocks Windows 10 users;  Microsoft starts public test of Cortana app for Android;  Vysor Puts Your Android Device’s Screen On Your Desktop;  7 Voice-Activated Apps Waiting for Your Command;  Google Calendar is getting much smarter for business users;  Review: Metal Gear Solid 5;  Office 2016’s Windows release tipped for September 22;  How to encrypt and password-protect ZIP files the right way;  Microsoft App Turns Your Phone Into a 3D Scanner;  Until Dawn combines the best of horror films and games on PS4;  50 fascinating facts about Android;  32 killer games for Steam Machines and Linux;  Your guide to geeky TV this fall (pictures).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to reclaim your privacy in Windows 10, piece by piece – Windows 10 has deep cloud hooks and shares a lot of data with Microsoft in order to create a smart, seamless experience across devices. If you prefer to keep some privacy, here’s how to disable all of it.

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BitTorrent tracker blocks Windows 10 users – Windows 10 is quickly gaining fans. Some of them, however, are growing distrustful of Windows 10’s privacy settings. Some BitTorrent sites don’t trust Windows 10 at all. So, at least one BitTorrent tracker, iTS, has blocked Windows 10 users from accessing torrents from their site. Others are considering banning Windows 10 users.

Cheat sheet! Microsoft releases printable Windows 10 key shortcut list – This handy guide lists every Windows key shortcut in Windows 10. It’s ready to print or view offline–and we made it better.

Microsoft starts public test of Cortana app for Android smartphones – Microsoft now lets anyone with an Android phone try out its app that brings the virtual assistant from Windows 10 to a non-Microsoft platform.

Vysor Puts Your Android Device’s Screen On Your Desktop – If you’ve ever wanted to play games or use apps from your phone on your desktop — web versions of messaging apps prove how convenient desktops are — then Vysor is a new service for Android owners that might well be up your alley. Created by Koushik Dutta, the prominent Android developer behind apps like AllCast, it is a Chrome extension that recreates a fully functioning version of your Android screen on your desktop, with mouse support for touch and hotkeys. It’s worth noting that the app is currently in beta — it leaked out via a Reddit thread — and it requires a USB cable for the connection.

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7 Voice-Activated Apps Waiting for Your Command – More than just a gimmick, it’s a helpful, hands-free way to get things done. Whether you want to avoid distraction or are unable to manipulate a touch screen, a voice assistant can be your best friend. Some of the tasks voice-guided apps tackle are really specific (like ordering a pizza), but some can really save you, whether you’re taking a photo or going for a run. These seven examples show that sometimes if you speak up, you get exactly what you ask for.

Facebook’s New Moments App Now Automatically Creates Music Videos From Your Photos – Facebook Moments, the social network’s recently launched photo-sharing app that aims to address the problem of getting friends to send each other the photos they’ve been hoarding on their own phones, is expanding to video. The app received its first major update today since its mid-June debut, and will now automatically create a video of your shared photos which you can customize, personalize and share back to Facebook.

Twitter shutdown of apps for deleted tweets could give politicians new control – By effectively shutting down apps that showed politicians’ deleted tweets, Twitter is giving politicians more control over public speech, and at the cost of transparency, some digital media experts said.

Google Calendar is getting much smarter for business users – Google Apps users are going to start having an easier time managing their calendar. With an update rolling out this week, Google Calendar will begin automatically grabbing events that it detects in Gmail — like flights and hotel or restaurant reservations — and adding an entry for them. Those entries are supposed to stay updated, too, should there be a change in plans or a delay. Google says that basically any ticketed event should be detected.

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Microsoft App Turns Your Phone Into a 3D Scanner – A new Microsoft Research project, dubbed MobileFusion, runs on off-the-shelf mobile phones, using the RGB camera found on most phones to scan objects of varying shape, size, and appearance. Without any added hardware or software, or even an Internet connection, MobileFusion provides real-time feedback during the capture process. “Everything happens on the phone itself,” Pushmeet Kohli, a principal research scientist with Microsoft Research, said in a statement.

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Office 2016’s Windows release tipped for September 22 – The Windows version of Microsoft Office 2016 appears to be less than a month away, according to a leaked internal document. A screenshot from Microsoft’s employee intranet lists a September 22 release date for Office 2016 on Windows, WinFuture.de reports. Microsoft released a Mac version for Office 365 subscribers in July, promising a standalone release in June.

Russia Reverses Ban on Russian Wikipedia After Only a Few Hours – A Russian communications watchdog agency told Internet providers to block access to the popular site’s Russian language material on Monday, after a provincial court ruled Wikipedia’s entry on hashish contained banned information, the Associated Press reports. Recent legislation in Russia has banned sites from carrying information about drugs, suicide and hate, leading critics to accuse authorities of censorship. The communications agency lifted the ban on Russian language Wikipedia after saying the entry had been edited to comply with the court decision. But users noted that the entry for hashish had only adjusted its title.

Intel introduces its smallest socketed form factor yet: the 5×5 – OK, it’s not going to to threaten high end discrete GPUs, but this kind of processor packed into the 5×5 form factor raises the bar on what a small system can do. Hitherto, mini-ITX was arguably the smallest system size that was credible for gaming or heavy workloads such as software development, graphics, and CAD. 5×5 will be able to serve many of those same markets, making it a compelling candidate for set-top-boxes and business workloads that push the limits of what the NUC can handle. Equipped with 35W processors and an M.2 drive, 5×5 systems should come in at around 1.5 inches tall for a total system volume of less than 1 liter. 65W processors and 2.5 inch SATA drives will increase the height, though the system volume should remain significantly smaller than a comparable mini-ITX device.

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Google will upload mailed hard drives, USB drives to cloud for developers – While the vast majority of us common users can get by with cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive by simply uploading files via our local WiFi connection or from our phones, it’s not exactly the same situation for developers with terabytes of data that needs to be migrated to cloud storage in a hurry. Fortunately for them, Google now offers an “Offline Media Import/Export” service that will take mailed in hard drives, USB flash drives, and tapes and upload the data to the cloud, for a fee, of course.

How to encrypt and password-protect ZIP files the right way – You can protect the contents of a ZIP file, but unless you know the trick, you might as well not bother.

Security:

Major Android remote-access vulnerability is now being exploited – TeamViewer’s remote control plug-in, pre-installed by some phone OEMs and phone carriers for support, offers an exploitable backdoor for attackers (and even some legitimate apps) to gain root-level access to devices. Based on anonymized data collected from users of an app designed to check for a newly revealed vulnerability in many Android devices, Check Point discovered that one application in the Google Play store is exploiting the vulnerability to gain a high level of access to the Android OS, bypassing user permissions—and bypassing Google’s security scans of Play applications to do so. Update: A Google spokesperson told Ars that the offending app has been suspended in the Play store.

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TeamViewer’s remote control plug-in, pre-installed by some phone OEMs and phone carriers for support, offers an exploitable backdoor for attackers (and even some legitimate apps) to gain root-level access to devices.

Advertising malware rates have tripled in the last year, according to report – Ad networks have been hit with a string of compromises in recent months, and according to a new report, many of the infections are making it through to consumers. A study published today by Cyphort found that instances of malware served by ad networks more than tripled between June 2014 and February 2015, based on monthly samples taken during the period. Dubbed “malvertising,” the attacks typically sneaking malicious ads onto far-reaching ad networks. The networks deliver those malware-seeded ads to popular websites, which pass them along to a portion of the visitors to the site. The attacks typically infect computers by exploiting vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash, typically triggered as soon as an ad is successfully loaded.

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Facebook ‘Spam King’ Pleads Guilty – When you give yourself the nickname “Spam King” and you get charged with spamming, you really have no option but to plead guilty. And that’s how the situation with Sanford Wallace played out in court this week. Wallace, 47, of Las Vegas pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of fraud and criminal contempt, admitting that he compromised the Facebook accounts of about 500,000 users and used them to send more than 27 million spam messages through the company’s servers in 2008 and 2009, according to Bloomberg. Wallace also admitted that he violated a court order to not access the social network. He was released on bond and is set to be sentenced on Dec. 7 in federal court in San Jose, Calif. He’s facing up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Court rules FTC can prosecute companies over lax online security – The Third Circuit US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission does have the right to prosecute firms who mishandle their customers’ data. Between 2008 and 2009, hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide – which runs hotels under the Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8, and Travelodge brands – suffered three computer intrusions. The hackers stole the personal information and credit card numbers of over 619,000 customers, causing at least $10.6m in thefts. In June 2012, the FTC filed suit against Wyndham, claiming that the firm had “unreasonably and unnecessarily” exposed their customers to risk. Wyndham has fought back in the case, claiming unreasonable government oversight.

Company News:

More Layoffs For Intuit As Company Continues Realignment – We first heard about the layoffs this morning, and Intuit also confirmed the layoffs to TechCrunch. In June, Intuit laid off 399 employees as part of a company realignment. Last week as part of its quarterly earnings, the company said that it would divest several business units, including Demandforce, QuickBase and Quicken. Accompanying layoffs are not uncommon as companies re-orient their strategies to focus on more successful products. Still, Intuit has had a tough run in recent weeks. Following its earnings report last week, the company’s stock fell sharply. Intuit also increased its cash dividend by 20%.

Dell creates new server division for ‘second-tier’ hyperscale customers – Dell has formed a new business unit to go after the “second tier” of hyperscale customers — those with similar needs to those of Google and Facebook but who aren’t quite as massive.

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Intel invests in BlueData, forges big data partnership – Intel said Tuesday that it will invest in BlueData, which makes virtualization technology for big data deployments, and partner with the company. BlueData has a software platform called EPIC that allows enterprises to create Hadoop and Spark clusters in virtual environments. In theory, the combination of virtualization and big data tools should make it easier to deploy within data centers.

Uber and University of Arizona partner in self-driving car effort – Uber dreams of self-driving cars, and over the past year we’ve seen it take steps toward making those dreams reality. The company has already indicated that it is interested in Tesla’s future self-driving car, and it has teamed up with researchers to help develop autonomous driving technologies. Of the latter, Uber has recently expanded its research efforts in a new partnership with the University of Arizona, where it will work with researchers to increase self-driving efforts. In addition, Uber plans to test out autonomous cars in Tucson.

What’s behind smartphone market’s slowing growth? Look to China – Research firm predicts global shipments will rise around 10 percent this year, compared with more than 27 percent in 2014. One reason? Demand for devices in China is falling.

Ashley Madison users report extortion: more lawsuits filed – The damage caused by the Ashley Madison leak is growing, and some former users are reporting that others have attempted to extort them using information contained in the data dumps. Eight individuals residing in the United States have filed lawsuits against the infidelity website, and the service is facing similar legal action from users in Canada. The lawsuits cite a host of reasons for the legal action: violations of privacy, breach of contract, negligence, and more. According to the Associated Press, the U.S. lawsuits have been filed in Texas, California, Minnesota, Tennessee, Missouri, and Georgia. All eight of them are seeking class-action status, and would as such represent about 37 million affected Ashley Madison users.

Games and Entertainment:

Until Dawn combines the best of horror films and games on PS4 – The best horror movie of the year might just be a video game. Though it’s available on the PlayStation 4, and you play it with a controller, Until Dawn is really as much a film as it is a game; borrowing from some of the biggest horror franchises around, like Saw to Evil Dead, it combines the tropes into a terrifying experience that’s both familiar and unique. But it’s that added layer of interactivity — the fact that you actually have some measure of control over the events — that makes Until Dawn something special. It’s a horror movie where you can actually tell those stupid teens what to do, in hopes that they’ll actually survive the night. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up making the same mistakes they would.

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Review: Metal Gear Solid 5 is cliched, confused, and utterly brilliant – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain arrives under so much hype, expectation, and otaku-fever that it’s almost destined to fail. In true Kojima fashion, this is a polarising game, one where the highest of highs is offset with lowest of lows. It distorts much of what has made the third-person stealth action series so revered, replacing the heavily structured levels of old with an open-world setting that allows for a more flexible approach. The series’ latest iteration presents greater opportunities to succeed spectacularly and fail wretchedly. An RPG-like system of unlocking and upgrading weapons requires you think four or five moves ahead, while an AI-controlled “buddy” option provides the kind of obliging assistance that many would consider sacrilege in a game of this type.

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Linux gaming rising: 32 killer games for Steam Machines and Linux – Sure, Valve’s embrace of Linux may have a wee bit to do with advancing the Steam Machine ideal, but any game released for “SteamOS” works just fine on other Linux distros, too. With Valve and its hardware partners recently announcing a full 15 upcoming Steam Machine PCs, here are a slew of killer PC games that’ve recently become Linux natives—including the previous two PCWorld Game of the Year winners.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

YouTube’s answer to Twitch finally launches tomorrow – Just before E3 this year, YouTube announced that it was getting into gaming in a big way, with its own stand-alone video site that would take on Twitch. Called YouTube Gaming, the service was expected to launch some time this summer — and it looks like tomorrow will finally be the day. The service is expected to go live on the web, as well as through mobile apps on both iOS and Android.

Hobbit “Five Armies” Extended Edition release dated with R-rating – The final installment of the “Extended Editions” of The Hobbit trilogy has been revealed this week. The Battle of the Five Armies will include 20 minutes of additional footage for the film itself, then will also include more than 9 hours of special features. This movie will also be rated R – this is different from the theatrical cut of the film which is rated PG-13. This new rating has been pushed to the film by the MPAA for “some violence.” As if there weren’t violence in the film in the first place.

The 50 Best iPad Games – The line between iPad games and iPhone games has become a lot blurrier of late. There have always been games capable of running on both of Apple’s wildly successful iOS devices, and usually with just a single purchase. But as iPhones$199.00 at Verizon get bigger and iPads$376.99 at Amazon get smaller, the differences between their apps are becoming much more arbitrary. The good news is that most of the huge and constantly growing iOS gaming library can be enjoyed on a tablet that doesn’t require a contract to buy at a reasonable price. And that library really is worth checking out.

Your guide to geeky TV this fall (pictures) – Shows with superheroes, zombies, unexplained phenomena and monsters are now so prevalent, you can watch one every night of the week. CNET’s Michael Franco gives his picks.

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Fear the Walking Dead

Xbox One and Xbox 360 Free Games With Gold for September 2015 Revealed – Microsoft has announced September’s free Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles for Xbox Live Gold members. There are two free games each for Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners, including The Deer God, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Battlestations Pacific, and Crysis 3. Take a look at the full schedule below. Even if you don’t have an Xbox 360, it’s probably still worth picking up the last-generation games, as they could one day be made playable on Xbox One through backwards compatibility.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How I broke the internet without even trying – I have to apologise for breaking the internet. Yes, it was me. I’d have made my mea culpa sooner, but I didn’t realise how great a wrong I’d done. It was selfish of me to download ad-blocking software. I thought only of enhancing my own online experience. It never occurred to me that I would be the cause of so much trouble. The first hint that I was doing something wrong came when I visited a website and saw, where ordinarily an advertisement would have popped up, a plea that I consider either unblocking ads or making a contribution. Otherwise, I was told, the free internet was threatened. (recommended by Mal C.)

50 fascinating facts about Android – We’ve assembled 50 pieces of Android trivia for you to enjoy and bust out the next time you’re at a party about mobile operating systems.

Microsoft Offers Free Download Of “Start Me Up” To Celebrate 20 Years Of Windows 95 – Remember Windows 95? I mean, how could you not? Oh, you’re under 30? Yeah, then you probably don’t remember Windows 95. Its launch was a glorious day, it stood for the rise of graphical interfaces that we’ve come to known and love. Its launch also featured The Rolling Stones. Specifically, their song “Start Me Up.” You know, like the “Start” button. So schmart. Today, to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of Windows 95, Microsoft is offering a free download of the song for anyone who cares to download it. If you don’t own the song already, now’s your chance.

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How Linux was born, as told by Linus Torvalds himself – One of the most famous messages in all computing was posted exactly 24 years ago today, on 25 August, 1991:

Hello everybody out there using minix –

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and

professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing

since April, and is starting to get ready.

Many people have read that post by Linus Torvalds in the comp.os.minix newsgroup on Usenet, or at least heard about it. Many more are aware of how that (free) operating system ended up taking over vast swathes of the computing world, and becoming both “big” and “professional.” But what about before that famous moment? What were the key events that led to Linus creating that first public release of Linux?

Stephen Hawking theorizes escaping a black hole – Upon the event horizon of a black hole, suggested leading physicist Stephen Hawking this week, information may not be lost. While all matter is sucked into the hole, prevailing theories that all will be lost – are not quite as solid as they were before Hawking spoke. It was at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm this month that Hawking presented a new idea on how information may be able to escape a black hole – a flat, useless form, but released nonetheless.

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VIDEO: Sony’s Drone Takes Flight – In a video (below), the drone is seen making a vertical lift-off, flying through sunny skies, and landing softly. Due out next year, the drones are expected to carry loads of up to 22 pounds, and fly more than two hours at a maximum speed of 106 mph, according to The Wall Street Journal. But don’t expect to walk into a local Best Buy to pick one up. The devices will not initially be on sale to the general public; the joint company will instead sell them to enterprise customers.

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Cutting-edge 3D printer prints in 10 materials simultaneously – Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artifical Intelligence Laboratory have demonstrated that it’s possible to build a 3D printer that can print in 10 different materials at once in a single print, and they were able to do so for less than $7,000 using off-the-shelf components. Current multimaterial 3D printers are limited to three materials at one time and start at around $150,000.

Something to think about:

“People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”

–      Peter F. Drucker

Downloads:

CurrPorts v2.20 – Monitoring Opened TCP/IP network ports / connections – CurrPorts is network monitoring software that displays the list of all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports on your local computer. For each port in the list, information about the process that opened the port is also displayed, including the process name, full path of the process, version information of the process (product name, file description, and so on), the time that the process was created, and the user that created it.

In addition, CurrPorts allows you to close unwanted TCP connections, kill the process that opened the ports, and save the TCP/UDP ports information to HTML file , XML file, or to tab-delimited text file.

CurrPorts also automatically mark with pink color suspicious TCP/UDP ports owned by unidentified applications (Applications without version information and icons)

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Screenshot from a personal system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK surveillance “worse than 1984,” says new UN privacy chief – The newly appointed UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci, has called the UK’s oversight of surveillance “a rather bad joke at its citizens’ expense,” and said that the situation regarding privacy is “worse” than anything George Orwell imagined in his novel 1984. Speaking to The Guardian, Cannataci said: “at least Winston [a character in Orwell’s 1984] was able to go out in the countryside and go under a tree and expect there wouldn’t be any screen, as it was called. Whereas today there are many parts of the English countryside where there are more cameras than George Orwell could ever have imagined. So the situation in some cases is far worse already.”

Cannataci is also concerned about the routine surveillance carried out by Internet companies as a key part of their business model. “They just went out and created a model where people’s data has become the new currency,” he said. “And unfortunately, the vast bulk of people sign their rights away without knowing or thinking too much about it.”

The mandate of the new post of UN special rapporteur on privacy is broad. Cannataci, who is a professor of law at the University of Malta, and uses neither Facebook nor Twitter, is empowered to review government policies on digital surveillance and the collection of personal data, and to identify activities that harm privacy protection without any compelling justification. He can also give his views on how the private sector should be addressing its human rights responsibilities in this field.

Feds’ cyberbullying reverses cops’ convictions for shooting unarmed people – In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced to six to 65 years in prison in connection to on-the-job deadly shootings of unarmed civilians. But recently, these five officers had their convictions set aside by a federal appeals court. Why? Federal prosecutors’ anonymous online comments posted underneath local news accounts of the officers’ ongoing 2011 trial “contributed to the mob mentality potentially inherent in instantaneous, unbridled, passionate online discourse,” the court said. In light of that, the appellate court found a fair trial wasn’t possible.

The New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week (PDF) that the prosecutors’ behavior, unearthed by the same forensic expert who helped identify the Unabomber, created an “air of bullying” that federal prosecutors were “sworn to respect.”

“Just as a mob protesting outside the courthouse has the potential to intimidate parties and witnesses, so do streams of adverse online comments,” the court ruled 2-1. “The online anonymous postings, whether the product of lone wolf commenters or an informal propaganda campaign, gave the prosecution a tool for public castigation of the defendants that it could not have used against them otherwise, and in so doing deprived them of a fair trial.”

FBI probed SciFi author Ray Bradbury for plot to glum-down America – Among the many things the FBI of the 1950s and 1960s thought was corrupting America’s youth and harbouring communism was, apparently, the science fiction scene.

Documents recently released under freedom of information laws, show the G-men took an interest in one of the era’s leading authors, Ray Bradbury.

Their interest was apparently sparked by Martin Berkeley (Wikipedia), an enthusiastic anti-Communist and testator to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), who told the FBI the author of Fahrenheit 451 was “probably sympathetic with certain pro-Communist elements”.

“He noted that some of Bradbury’s stories have definitely slanted against the United States and its capitalistic form of government”, the report adds.

“Informant observed that Communists have found fertile opportunities for development; for spreading distrust; and lack of confidence in America [sic] institutions in the area of science fiction writing”, the FOI document states.

Another informant complained that Bradbury had “ridiculed” both the US government and the HUAC hearings, and that Bradbury had signed a joint letter from the American Civil Liberties Union in 1953.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 24, 2015

Phone and laptop encryption guide: Protect your stuff and yourself;  Windows 10 churning through data, blowing up usage caps;  5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer;  Microsoft won’t provide full release notes for most Windows 10 updates;  Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it;  Review: 4 powerline kits step in when Wi-Fi fails;  Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results;  This App Snaps A Pic Of Your Friends If They Try To Swipe Through Your Phone’s Photos Uninvited;  Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions;  This Is How You Remove Candy Crush From Windows 10;  Plenty of fish, and exploits too, on dating website;  Android Smart lock: Should you be using it?  How to use two-factor authentication without a phone;  Classic Steve Jobs disses you can put on your next resignation letter;  Target agrees to pay Visa card issuers up to $67 million;  Samsung tipped to be developing 18.4-inch Android tablet;  Testing suggests that not even identical twins can dupe Windows Hello;  Destroy Windows 10 Spying 1.5 Build 300 (free);  Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Phone and laptop encryption guide: Protect your stuff and yourself – The worst thing about having a phone or laptop stolen isn’t necessarily the loss of the physical object itself, though there’s no question that that part sucks. It’s the amount of damage control you have to do afterward. Calling your phone company to get SIMs deactivated, changing all of your account passwords, and maybe even canceling credit cards are all good ideas, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Full-disk or full-device encryption (that is, encrypting everything on your drive, rather than a specific folder or user profile) isn’t yet a default feature across the board, but most of the major desktop and mobile OSes support it in some fashion. In case you’ve never considered it before, here’s what you need to know.

Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it – How much does bloatware slow down your PC? It’s hard to say, but there are some indications that it can have a considerable effect. Microsoft sells a line of what it calls Signature PCs, computers that are free of third-party software. According to the product page, on average, the Signature PCs start up 104% faster, shut down 35% faster and have 28 minutes more battery life than the same laptops with bloatware. In this article I’ll discuss the most common types of bloatware you’ll encounter, how to uninstall it and how to buy bloatware-free PCs. (Note that this article covers only Windows computers, and not Macs or other systems.)

5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer – There’s a lot of power contained within that little glass rectangle you carry around all day. We’ve got eight-core CPUs, multiple gigabytes of RAM, and batteries with thousands of milliampere-hours of capacity, but sometimes the experience doesn’t live up to the hardware’s potential. Things go wrong, settings get screwed up, and apps get greedy for resources. This can render a phone sluggish and kill the battery. That’s certainly a problem, but don’t worry, we can fix it in a few simple steps.

Windows 10 churning through data, blowing up usage caps – For some Windows 10 users, the problems keep coming. Though Windows 10 was free to download, updating the operating system is costing some dearly, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Some have blamed the way the new operating system downloads and installs updates. Prior to Windows 10, users could choose whether or not to install updates, depending on where they were in their billing cycle. But for many who breezed through the setup process, updates install in the background, often without user interaction. Other reports that have trickled in also blame Windows 10’s forced updates.

Microsoft won’t provide full release notes for most Windows 10 updates – What’s in that update? For most Windows 10 patches, Microsoft isn’t telling. As highlighted by ExtremeTech, Microsoft has not provided patch notes for any of the Windows 10 patches it has released so far in an apparent shift in the company’s thinking. Instead of providing specific details about each patch as it has in the past, ExtremeTech notes that the release notes for Windows 10’s cumulative updates released so far merely state, “This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.” Not very helpful, is it?

Review: 4 powerline kits step in when Wi-Fi fails – Are there places in your home or office where your Wi-Fi signal doesn’t reach? You’re not alone. Because of Wi-Fi’s limited range — and old-school building construction techniques like thick plaster, brick or masonry walls — even the best Wi-Fi networks have dead zones. If you have that problem, you have several options. You can start drilling holes in your walls so you can run network cabling. You can try a Wi-Fi range extender (which might help, depending on the strength of your Wi-Fi and the efficiency of the extender). Or you can use a powerline kit, which routes data over your electric cables by piggybacking the data on top of the electrical current’s 60-hertz wave and then extracting the data at the other end.

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Samsung goes after iPhone users with Galaxy test drive promo – Samsung Electronics is offering U.S. iPhone owners the chance to test its latest Galaxy smartphones for 30 days for $1, as it hopes to make a dent in Apple’s dominance of the high end of the market. The promotion lets iPhone owners choose between the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge or the Galaxy S6 edge+ without any obligations with their existing carrier. After the month is up, they can simply return it. Or, if the phone feels right, go ahead and upgrade, Samsung said.

Eight advanced tips for Word headers and footers – Even a novice Word user can display page numbers in a document’s header of footer. The process is fundamental. Advancing beyond the basics is easier than you might think, and you might be surprised how many things you can do with a header or footer! In this article, I’ll highlight eight tips that will move you from basic user to advanced, at least with headers and footers.

This App Snaps A Pic Of Your Friends If They Try To Swipe Through Your Phone’s Photos Uninvited – We’ve pretty much all been there: you hand your phone to a friend to show them a picture. They look at the photo, they chuckle… and then they casually swipe to the next photo in your camera roll like it ain’t no thing. This app slaps their wrist in a mostly harmless way: by snapping a surprise selfie of your friend’s nosy-ass face when they try to swipe to your other pics.

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This Is How You Remove Candy Crush From Windows 10 – Find it just too tempting? Here’s what to do. If right clicking on the app icon in the Start Menu and selecting uninstall doesn’t work, then the website Tech News Today has a handy step-by-step guide to making your computer Candy Crush-free.

Samsung tipped to be developing 18.4-inch Android tablet – While the rumored “iPad Pro” may be getting all the attention recently when it comes to extra-large tablets, Samsung seems to be working on something of their own. A new report says the company is working on a tablet known as codename “Tahoe” with the model number SM-T670, and featuring a huge 18.4-inch screen. SamMobile says its sourced have indicated the Android-powered device will be targeted for use in office, school, and living room environments, instead of as a standard personal tablet.

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Amazon Echo gets SmartThings support – Amazon’s Echo appears ready to learn a new trick: Working with connected smarthome devices through a SmartThings hub. Official SmartThings support hasn’t yet been announced but the SmartThings blog spilled the beans with a post that went live on Thursday and was later removed. ZatzNotFunny spotted the post — which received four comments before being pulled — showing that Amazon Echo integration with the SmartThings products is likely on the way soon. Google’s web cache still has the original post.

Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results – Back in May, Google and Twitter partnered to bring tweets into mobile search results. It was, and is, a pretty big deal for both companies. The relationship is apparently going well, as Google announced in a short update on its original blog post that it’d be including tweets within search results on desktop as well.

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Firefox moves toward cross-browser extensions with Chrome and Opera – Mozilla takes a giant step towards Firefox’s total compatibility with browser extensions from the Chrome and Opera extension ecosystems. The plan is to switch out the extension API used for Firefox with one by the name of WebExtensions. With this API, developers will be able to create extensions that work with multiple browsers at once, bringing Firefox back into the mix where once they were excluded. This is all part of Mozilla’s move toward a more user-friendly browser on all platforms.

Security:

Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions: Founder says the whole thing was just a BIIIIIIIIIIG misunderstanding. Right – Spotify will clarify its position on its wide-reaching terms and conditions. In a post entitled “SORRY”, company founder Daniel Ek said: “We have heard your concerns loud and clear. We are also going to update the new Privacy Policy in the coming weeks.” In the post, Ek paints it as a misunderstanding of what Spotify was trying to do by hoovering up your photos, contacts, voice commands and location, and then sharing that information with advertisers and businesses.

Plenty of fish, and exploits too, on dating website – Recent visitors to Plenty of Fish (pof.com), an online dating website with over 3 million daily active users, had their browsers redirected to exploits that installed malware. The attack was launched through a malicious advertisement that was distributed through a third-party ad network, researchers from security firm Malwarebytes said in a blog post Thursday. The malicious ad pointed to the Nuclear exploit kit, a Web-based attack tool that exploits known vulnerabilities in browsers and popular browser plug-ins like Flash Player, Java, Adobe Reader and Silverlight. If the attack is successful, the tool installs malware programs on users’ computers.

How to use two-factor authentication without a phone – The first time I got locked out of my email account — because I’d ingeniously decided to turn on two-factor authentication — was when I was in Barcelona. Naturally, I was panicking — this was a work trip, and I couldn’t access my work email. But after a few minutes of freaking out, I calmed down, figured out how to circumvent the whole “needs to have a phone” issue, and promptly disabled two-factor authentication on all of my accounts (not that you should do this — you should not, two-factor authentication is an important step in making your accounts secure). Here’s how to use phone-based two-factor authentication when you don’t have a phone.

Android Smart lock: Should you be using it? – Android Smart lock is a handy way to make gaining access to your device easier. But is this at the cost of security? Find out what Jack Wallen thinks about this issue.

Farewell To Flash: What It Means For Digital Video Publishers – It’s been more than five years since Steve Jobs wrote his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” letter citing the high level of energy consumption, lack of performance on mobile and poor security as the reasons his company’s products would not support Adobe Flash technology. Finally, it appears we’re getting closer to the curtain closing on Flash.

China group attacks India with Word exploit, then uses Microsoft’s WMI – A hacking group suspected of operating from China has had success stealing information from mostly Indian targets, often pertaining to border disputes and trade issues, according to FireEye. The gang specializes in sending targeted phishing emails to victims in the hope of gaining wider access to their networks, a practice known as spear phishing, said Bryce Boland, CTO for Asia-Pacific at the security firm. FireEye hasn’t give a name to the group, but has watched it since 2011, Boland said.

Company News:

Target agrees to pay Visa card issuers up to $67 million for 2013 data breach – On Tuesday, Target and Visa confirmed that they had reached a settlement in which Target would pay up to $67 million to Visa card issuers for a security breach in 2013 that left 40 million customer credit card numbers compromised. Visa brokered the deal and will pass the award on to the card issuers that work within its network. The settlement deal is considerably larger than the $19 million settlement that Target reached with MasterCard earlier in the proceedings. That settlement was not approved because MasterCard issuers rejected it for being too low.

Intuit puts venerable Quicken up on the block – The 32-year-old desktop software days are numbered, predict some customers, as Intuit pledges to find ‘reputable buyer’ for personal finance program.

After three-day shutdown, HP now effectively two companies – Hewlett-Packard doesn’t officially become two companies until Nov. 1, but the company has already separated its internal systems and is effectively operating as two businesses. “On August 1, we successfully split the operations and IT systems for the company. This was an incredibly complex process and the team executed very well,” CEO Meg Whitman said on HP’s quarterly earnings call Thursday. HP worked directly with 3,500 of its biggest customers and partners to prepare for the cutover, which involved separating 750 systems that handle 95 percent of its business.

Uber Plans To Go Public In 18-24 Months, According To Leaked Presentation – Uber could become a public company as soon as next year or 2016, according to a leaked document published in a report from Reuters. The news agency gained access to a presentation that Uber is showing to potential investors in China as part of a new funding round for its international business. (UberChina, the entity Uber created in the country, is separately reportedly seeking to raise a billion dollars to battle China-based rival Didi Kuaidi, which recently closed a $2 billion financing round itself.) The document broke out information for Uber China and Uber Inc., and forecasted that the latter — which is present in over 150 countries worldwide — will go public within 18-24 months.

Apple stands by Dre after apology for hurting women – After the rapper became an Apple employee following its $3.3 billion takeover of Beats, attention to his past violence has become the latest barb against the tech industry’s treatment of women.

Apple launches replacement program for faulty iPhone 6 Plus cameras – Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus has the best camera of any iPhone (at least until we get new ones next month), but it’s not completely problem-free. Apple has announced an iSight Camera Replacement Program for iPhone 6 Plus models sold between the phone’s launch in September of 2014 and January of 2015. “A small percentage” of phones sold included a faulty part that could make pictures taken with the rear camera look blurry. The problem doesn’t affect the standard iPhone 6, so the 6 Plus’ optical image stabilization component could be at fault. The front-facing FaceTime camera is also unaffected.

YouTube Opens Studio In Bollywood – YouTube is planning to open a studio for film creators in Mumbai, India, the company said on Wednesday. Launching in partnership with renowned Indian film school Whistling Woods International, the new space will be at the center of Mumbai’s film and television production hub, Filmcity.

Games and Entertainment:

Overwatch and Battleborn: meet the new breed of cooperative first-person shooter games – This year’s Gamescom has been a special treat for fans of multiplayer games. Ubisoft has brought Rainbow Six Siege and the all-new For Honor for gamers to try out in Cologne, while DICE used the show to debut a massive 20-player dogfight mode in Star Wars: Battlefront. Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm has been everywhere too, but it’s another title from the same company that I want to talk about today: Overwatch. It, along with Gearbox Software’s Battleborn, is establishing a new category of team-based shooter games, one where violence and gore are de-emphasized in favor of accessibility and cooperative fun.

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Real life first-person zombie shooter pops up on Chatroulette – Turns out, if you still use Chatroulette, the website that matches you and your webcam up with a random stranger, you may not always be shown someone doing something obscene. You might just get thrown into a real life first person shooter (FPS), with you in control of someone trying fight off zombies. That’s exactly what happened when random users were paired with the British film production crew Realm Pictures, who managed to create a live-action FPS that plays out in real-time right before viewers.

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Nvidia’s GeForce Experience app brings gameplay sharing to PC – When the PlayStation 4 debuted, one of the coolest features about the new hardware was the “Share” feature, which let players stream their gameplay live to another PS4 owner, and even let them take over the controls. Well, Nvidia is bringing that same functionality to PC games with an update to its GeForce Experience app. The software is being updated next month with beta access to the new GameStream Co-op feature, along with a few other tools for recording and broadcasting gameplay footage.

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Fallout 4 could be more successful than Skyrim, says Bethesda – Bethesda has said it believes Fallout 4 could be its most successful game release ever. Fallout 4 launches in November for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Bethesda has also revealed the Fallout Anthology for PC which bundles the first five Fallout games — 1, 2, Tactics, 3, and New Vegas — in a mini-nuke.

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Bethesda Softworks

Metroid spectacularly re-imagined in Unreal Engine 4 – Developer CryZENx brings a fully re-imagined Metroid Prime gameplay environment into existence with Unreal Engine 4. And boy does it look fantastic. What you’re going to see is a project – not an official game made for release. Here you’ll see some of the capabilities of the graphics environment Unreal Engine 4, complete with realistic lighting, shadows, atmosphere, and everything in-between. Just keep reminding yourself that while this isn’t a real game – it could indicate where Metroid could go, someday, maybe.

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‘Millennial Swipe Sim 2015’ Web Game Pokes Fun at Tinder – Is the Tinder obsession a bit too real for some of your friends? Send them a link to this brand-new Web game, and they might feel a little better.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The future of the tablet is the PC – Apple CEO Tim Cook once compared a tablet-laptop combo to mashing up a refrigerator with a toaster. The resulting Frankenstein device would do an equally lousy job of chilling your food and warming it up. That was three years ago. Today, these tablet-laptop hybrids — which blend the mobility and touchscreen friendliness of a tablet with the capabilities of a PC — are on track to becoming the fastest-growing computing category. Shipments of so-called 2-in-1 devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 and the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, for example, are expected to grow almost fivefold this year. That’s thanks in part to attachable or foldable keyboards and more-powerful hardware, such as Intel’s Core M microprocessors, that let slimmer, tabletlike devices hit speeds on par with midrange laptops.

DIY overhead control panel would make NASA proud – At one point in every geek’s life, he or she may have dreamed up of a super sophisticated computer setup that would rival or at least match those of, say, NASA’s mission control rooms or other sci-fi props. For some, wishing might be the extent of that dream. Others, however, try to make that dream a reality, even if they have to do it themselves. That is exactly what smashcuts proudly shared on Reddit and imgur. And the best part? He’s actually sharing how he did it.

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Classic Steve Jobs disses you can put on your next resignation letter – Apple and Pixar honcho Steve Jobs was known not just for his genius products (Hello, Mac, iPod, iPad, iPhone!), but also for his raging put-downs of subordinates and rivals. Why not put some of his molten-lava tongue lashings to good effect during your next job transition?

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“You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog sh!t for frosting.”

Cell phone video shows cop allegedly trying to force driver to buy fund-raising tickets (or else) – The police officer stopped the driver and brandished tickets to a show. “Either you buy these, or I take your car, because it’s unregistered,” the officer said. This, in some movies, would be called an offer you can’t refuse. In this movie, posted to Facebook by someone whose real name (per Facebook’s strict rules) is Rob Stay Faded, the officer continues: “Ten bucks each. Support your police department.” On Friday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the officer in the video, nine-year-veteran Matthew Zagursky, was taken off street patrol and dispossessed of his gun. Zagursky will continue working, pending the results of an Internal Affairs probe, which Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey ordered Friday.

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Need to take down a drone? A munitions company offers firepower – Having grown up in a culture where very few people feel the need for guns (that Europe place), it’s hard to explain to my fellow Americans that it’s, well, possible. Instead, America has always enjoyed a deep fascination for and commitment to weaponry. This therefore fuels the imaginations of those manufacturing the weaponry to ever greater heights. Admire then, please, the wares of Snake River Shooting Products. This company has just released gun shells that it says are perfect for shooting down drones. In a press release, the company describes its wares like this: “The rounds are a 12 gauge 3″ shot shell solution aimed at defending against drone-based privacy concerns and terror!”

Testing suggests that not even identical twins can dupe Windows Hello – Windows Hello, the feature in Windows 10 that lets you use your face as your login password, so to speak, may seem like a mere novelty at first glance, and something that could potentially be readily fooled. Journalist Chris Griffin with The Australian wanted to find out for himself, so he brought in six pairs of identical twins to put Windows Hello to the test. The result? In each of the six cases, Windows Hello kept each twin from logging in as their identical siblings.

Something to think about:

“There are 3 kinds of people in the world . Those that make things happen, those that have things happen to them and the vast majority – those who stand around and wonder WTF happened.”

–     Anonymous

Downloads:

Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 – Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 has been released. This tweaking software adds several new tweaks for the new operating system. Those of you who have upgraded to Windows 10, would definitely want to use it to judiciously tweak your Windows 10 and personalize your computing experience. With judicious tweaking, it can make your system faster, more stable, personal and more secure with just a few mouse clicks.

While you may be able to access all these via the Windows 10 Settings app, the Registry Editor or the Group Policy Editor, Ultimate Windows Tweaker makes things easier for you by offering all useful tweaks from its single UI.

This tweaker is just 495 KB in size and includes over 200 tweaks. Like its predecessors, UWT 4.0 sports a clean minimalistic UI, offering links in the left panel, and tabs on the top, in some categories. Hover over any tweak and helpful tool tips will tell you what the tweak does.

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Destroy Windows 10 Spying 1.5 Build 300 – MajorGeek says: Destroy Windows 10 Spying is a portable app that can block anonymous data being sent, remove apps that can’t be removed the standard way and more. I liked that it can remove some of the Windows default programs that can be removed under Apps & Features, an annoyance I immediately discovered since I prefer to “slim” down windows.

Some of the domains we know send anonymous information back to Microsoft include:

vortex.data.microsoft.com vortex-win.data.microsoft.com telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net oca.telemetry.microsoft.com oca.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net watson.telemetry.microsoft.com watson.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net redir.metaservices.microsoft.com choice.microsoft.com choice.microsoft.com.nsatc.net df.telemetry.microsoft.com reports.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com services.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com sqm.df.telemetry.microsoft.com telemetry.microsoft.com watson.ppe.telemetry.microsoft.com telemetry.appex.bing.net telemetry.urs.microsoft.com telemetry.appex.bing.net:443 settings-sandbox.data.microsoft.com vortex-sandbox.data.microsoft.com survey.watson.microsoft.com watson.live.com watson.microsoft.com statsfe2.ws.microsoft.com corpext.msitadfs.glbdns2.microsoft.com compatexchange.cloudapp.net cs1.wpc.v0cdn.net a-0001.a-msedge.net statsfe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net sls.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net fe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net diagnostics.support.microsoft.com corp.sts.microsoft.com statsfe1.ws.microsoft.com pre.footprintpredict.com i1.services.social.microsoft.com i1.services.social.microsoft.com.nsatc.net feedback.windows.com feedback.microsoft-hohm.com feedback.search.microsoft.com rad.msn.com preview.msn.com ad.doubleclick.net ads.msn.com ads1.msads.net ads1.msn.com a.ads1.msn.com a.ads2.msn.com adnexus.net adnxs.com az361816.vo.msecnd.net az512334.vo.msecnd.net

You can block these yourself manually in your hosts file with 127.0.0.1 if you want. The program allows you to clear or view the hosts file in Notepad.

The program does the same thing but just in case you wanted to see where your information heads to or you wanted to update your hosts file manually. A log file will be left in the folder you run it from.

I took a huge chance and ran this on my clean Windows 10 installation. It did modify the hosts file exactly as promised and did remove the Apps it promised. IObit Uninstaller also spotted Destroy Windows 10 Spying running and removed leftover entries from the uninstall.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA preps quantum-resistant algorithms to head off crypto-apocalypse – The National Security Agency is advising US agencies and businesses to prepare for a time in the not-too-distant future when the cryptography protecting virtually all e-mail, medical and financial records, and online transactions is rendered obsolete by quantum computing.

Quantum computers have capabilities that can lay to ruin all of the public-key cryptographic systems currently in use. These capabilities, which aren’t known to be present in the classical computers of today, include the ability to almost instantly find the prime factors of extremely large numbers, using a method called Shor’s algorithm. Quantum computing is also believed to be capable of tackling other mathematical problems classical computers can’t solve quickly, including computing discrete logarithm mod primes and discrete logs over elliptic curves.

The difficulty of factoring and computing discrete log primes and elliptic curve discrete logs play an essential role in cryptographers’ confidence in RSA, elliptic curve cryptography, and other public-key crypto systems. When implemented correctly, most scientists and cryptographers believe that the crypto can’t be defeated with today’s computers before the end of the universe.

Canadians taking to spying on their spies – As Canadians settle in for the longest general election campaign since 1867, some uncomfortable incidents that had been ignored by commercial media outlets are gaining new exposure.

Allegations that Canadian spooks are spying on protesters have become a hot topic online. The result is that Canada’s online civil liberties movements are starting to gain traction offline, and are threatening to go mainstream.

To understand the events, some background is required. A number of pipeline projects are proposed or undergoing construction to increase the amount of oil that can be sent from Alberta west to the coast of British Columbia via pipeline. Current pipelines are at capacity and shipping the oil to the coast by train is a fantastically dumb idea because the trains keep derailing, causing all manner of havoc.

A veritable who’s who of Canadian protest and civil liberties groups became active in protesting against the pipelines, both online and off. It dragged on for years, and protests are still ongoing.

Information emerged that said one of Canada’s spy agencies – Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – allegedly spied on the protesters and then allegedly illegally shared information about the protesters with the National Energy Board (NEB). NEB is the government entity tasked with overseeing environmentally sensitive projects such as oil pipelines.

The NEB succumbed to industry capture years ago and now blatantly operates as nothing more than an extension of the energy companies themselves.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – August 21, 2015

Run Android apps on Windows 10 PC with AMIDuOS;  The easiest way to wirelessly get videos from your PC to your tablet;  Pro tip: How to speech-to-text in Google Docs;  Google Photos Introduces “Rediscover This Day” To Help You Reminisce;  13 YouTube Tips for True PowerYOUsers;  Popcorn Time users are now getting sued by the movie industry;  Pro tip: How to personalize Windows 10;  Windows 10 upgrade left you low of storage space? Free up gigabytes with a few clicks;  Meet Kali Linux 2.0, a distro built to hammer your security;  Everything you say and do is public: five rules for living with the internet;  How to change Windows 10’s default apps;  10 tips for traveling IT workers;  Yet another Android app security bug: This time everything is affected;  Download this insanely fun GIF making app for iPhone right now;  Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Apple stocks hit the deck;  Uber background checks missed drivers’ criminal records;  Final Fantasy VII Comes To iOS;  Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 review;  10 Surprising Things Technology Will Make Obsolete by 2025.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Run Android apps on Windows 10 PC with AMIDuOS – Want to run your favorite Android apps on your Windows 10 desktop, laptop, tablet or 2-in-1 system? It’s easy with AMIDuOS. Getting up and running is simple. You download and install the utility, and then you’re ready to run Android apps. That’s all there is to it. No configuration, and no messing about. You have a 100 percent native Android operating system running on your Windows 10 PC or tablet (also supports Windows 7 and 8/8.1). As such, you’re getting the full Android experience, which includes multitouch and gesture support for pinch and zoom, a full-featured software keyboard, and even compass and GPS functionality, which allows you to run mapping and navigation apps.

The easiest way to wirelessly get videos from your PC to your tablet – We’ve already talked about how to access files from your PC on your mobile device using file explorer apps on Android. But if that approach felt like too much work, here’s a wireless way that’s even easier—and you won’t need to muck around with USB keys or external hard drives. The difference here is that we won’t be streaming the files; instead, we’ll have to download the files to our tablet first using BitTorrent Sync.

Popcorn Time users are now getting sued by the movie industry – Popcorn Time might be an extremely easy way to watch pirated movies and TV shows for free, but it’s not necessarily safe. The makers of the 2014 Adam Sandler comedy The Cobbler have sued 11 people for copyright infringement, specifically calling out Popcorn Time as their software of choice, TorrentFreak reports. The lawsuit, filed at a federal court in Oregon, are seeking statutory damages of up to $150,000, though it’s likely the defendants will receive settlement offers for considerably less.

Google Photos Introduces “Rediscover This Day” To Help You Reminisce – Google Photos wants to be home to all of your photos (and videos). Whether you have a thumb drive, CD, DVD or undeveloped film laying around, the team wants you to consider uploading them to the service. Why? Because that’s when they can make the “magic” happen. Right now, Google Photos will wade through all of your treasured visuals and turn them into animations and stories or drop effects on them. You get alerted on the web or through the apps via the Assistant. It’s a nice little notification to get that something has been created with zero effort.

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13 YouTube Tips for True PowerYOUsers – The engineers making things run at the Google-owned site have their game locked down. But even within its vast, well-oiled ecosystem, there are features you’ve never even used. Here are 13 little-known tricks and features that even you, o’ veteran of the Internet, need to know.

Pro tip: How to speech-to-text in Google Docs – Sometimes I talk instead of type. I configure speech-to-text software to capture my voice, then just talk. I often end up with a bunch of text to edit. I find talking to be an excellent alternative to typing to capture not yet fully formed ideas. Fortunately, I write with Google Docs, so there are several tools I can use to turn my voice into text.

How to change Windows 10’s default apps – Not feeling the love for Windows 10’s default apps for music playback, web browsing, and so on? You can change them without breaking a sweat.

Automatically log in to your Windows 10 PC – Because Windows 10, like Windows 8, asks you to sign in with a Microsoft account, skipping the log-in screen isn’t as simple as simply deleting your password. Instead, you’ll need to dig into the User Accounts settings to get rid of this extra step. For obvious reasons, you should only disable the log-in screen if you are using a nonshared computer that is unlikely to end up in someone else’s hands (e.g., a desktop).

Pro tip: How to personalize Windows 10 – Just like the previous versions, Microsoft Windows 10 can be personalized for your individual taste. However, the procedures required to change the default look of Windows 10 are a bit different. Here’s a brief tutorial on how to do it.

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Windows 10 upgrade left you low of storage space? Free up gigabytes with a few clicks – Are you finding that your hard drives feel a bit cramped following your Windows 10 upgrade? Here’s how to free up tens of gigabytes of free space with just a few clicks. What’s taking up the additional space on your storage device are the Windows 10 files that were downloaded to your PC before the upgrade, along with the previous operating system your PC was running. On my test systems these files have taken up anything between 12 and 35 gigabytes.

You should download this insanely fun GIF making app for iPhone right now – Giphy Cam couldn’t be much more straightforward. There’s no social network, no feed, no browsing. It’s literally just a camera, some filters, and a bunch of weird borders, backgrounds, and animations that you can add to your recording. Look through and you’ll find GIF standbys — like the falling “Deal With It” shades — and plenty of weirder stuff, like a strange band of cats. There really isn’t anything more to the app. It’s just a camera that lets you save an animation and share it elsewhere. Like here, for instance:

After Years Of Restraint, Facebook Tries Allowing GIFs In Ads And Page Posts – The social network started supporting GIFs in user posts starting in May, but hadn’t allowed businesses to try the hip graphic interchange format all the kids are Tumbling over. If Facebook’s smart, it will take a very aggressive approach to how the News Feed treats these posts in order to preserve the user experience. If they receive even a little negative feedback for being spam or being hidden, they should get banished from the feed. GIFs are the visual equivalent of shouting. You have to really care about the message or you’d prefer they just shut up.

Meet Kali Linux 2.0, a distro built to hammer your security – The latest release of the immensely popular Linux distribution designed for penetration testing, Kali Linux 2.0 launched at DefCon 23 in Las Vegas last week. Kali is the successor to BackTrack, and is a Debian-based Linux distribution that includes hundreds of penetration-testing tools pre-installed and ready to go. Just boot it from a USB drive or live DVD and you’ll have a penetration-testing—or “hacking”—environment with all the tools you might want just waiting for you to fire them up.

Intel’s Compute Sticks stick it to Windows To Go, Chromecast – The Intel Compute Stick (ICS) is perhaps best thought of as the mutant offspring of a Raspberry Pi on steroids and Google Chromecast. The offspring emerges as a tiny computer CPU, RAM and storage on a small motherboard contained within a reasonably well finished case. Protruding from the case is a HDMI male adapter ready to plug into any display boasting its female counterpart. The ICS is a full working PC with Windows 8.1 for Bing a quad core Atom processor Z3735F running at up to 1.83 GHz, 2 GB memory, 32 GB of on-board storage, b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth and a microSD card slot.

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Report: Android-powered BlackBerry Venice coming to all four carriers in November – We have the best evidence yet that the rumored BlackBerry Venice is real and will come to all four major U.S. carriers this fall. Prominent leaker Evan Blass took to Twitter to drop two big hints. The first appears to be promotional material that shows a BlackBerry device running Android and accessing the Google Play Store. The other tease is for BlackBerry’s email app and secure data transfer tool.

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7 truly annoying iOS features, and how to make them stop – Nope, you’re not the only one who’s ever barked “stop it!” to your iPhone or iPad because it was being, well, a little too helpful. Luckily, you can tweak or turn off many of iOS’s most nagging and intrusive features.

10 tips for traveling IT workers – Travel is increasingly a part of the modern IT worker’s life, whether you’re a junior analyst or a CIO. These tips from one IT road warrior will make your trips go more smoothly.

Security:

Everything you say and do is public: five rules for living with the internet – Yesterday hackers made good on a threat, publishing the data belonging to over 30 million accounts from adultery dating website Ashley Madison. The impact this breach could have on millions of marriages — not just of celebrities and politicians but people typically out of the public spotlight — could be historical. While the implications of a data breach like this have been analyzed in the past, the lessons have been largely ignored. Take this moment to consider the five laws of your life online. Like laws of the state, whether or not you choose to learn these laws is irrelevant, as you will be tried by them regardless.

Yet another Android app security bug: This time ‘everything is affected’ – Yet another potentially serious security flaw has been revealed in Android. This time the problem involves the mobile operating system’s ability to run more than one app at once – as opposed to its handling of multimedia messages, which was the crux of a cyber* of vulnerabilities last month. The latest security blunder opens the door to criminals who want to spy on device owners, steal login details, install ransomware, and so on, it is claimed. We’re told the vulnerability can be exploited to show a spoofed user interface, controlled by an attacker, when someone starts an app: the owner will not be aware that they are typing into another program masquerading as a legit application.

Vulnerability in enterprise-managed iOS devices puts business data at risk – A vulnerability in the iOS sandbox for third party applications, like those installed by companies on their employees’ devices, can expose sensitive configuration settings and credentials. The flaw was discovered by researchers from mobile security firm Appthority and impacts apps deployed on iOS devices through mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EEM) products. These products allow administrators to automatically push applications, configuration settings and data access rules to enterprise mobile devices.

China arrests 15,000 for Internet-related crimes – China’s efforts to clean up the Internet have resulted in 15,000 arrests related to cybercrimes, authorities revealed on Tuesday. The country’s Ministry of Public Security has been cracking down on illegal Internet activities, and plans to increase enforcement even more, it said in an online post. The ministry has so far investigated 7,400 Internet crimes, resulting in the large number of arrests. It’s unclear during what period the investigations took place, but the ministry cited a case that went as far back as last December. The alleged crimes include hacking attacks, cyber fraud, and the promotion of gambling.

Now Ashley Madison hackers reveal ‘CEO’s emails and source code’ – Updated Another load of internal files swiped by hackers from Ashley Madison have been leaked online – and they apparently feature the CEO’s emails and the website’s source code. The 18.5GB leak includes, it is claimed, archives of internal company emails, including one folder labeled Noel Biderman – the chief exec of Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s parent. A torrent of the archive was published on the website of Impact Team, the Ashley Madison hackers. “Hey Noel, you can admit it’s real now,” the gang said in a message announcing the second archive.


Ashley Madison hack: A savage wake-up call which is only the beginning – If you’re playing poker, misdirecting other players can sway the game in your favor. In Ashley Madison’s case, calling the bluff of the hacker who broke into the website didn’t work out as well as expected. The resulting witch hunt may kill careers and destroy marriages, but it can serve to remind us all of an important lesson.

In defense of the cheating scumbags caught up in the Ashley Madison hack – You’re probably finishing up your coffee, blasting some music out from your cheap Apple headphones, and strategizing how your day will pan out. Just be thankful you’re not the poor bastard who woke up this morning with a plastic bag full of his underwear thrown in his half-awoken face, as his partner stomped around the bedroom with kids crying in the background. A lot of people today are going to have a very bad day — perhaps a life-changing day. In case you missed it (“How could you?” which is incidentally what thousands of spouses said to their partners this morning), here’s what you need to know.


Flash’s fall from grace continues as Amazon swings ad banhammer – After Apple’s anti-Flash stance on iOS extended to Android and YouTube dumped Flash for HTML5, Flash’s fate for web video was pretty much sealed. Web advertising, however, was an area Flash still dominated, at least for desktops. Now Amazon has made the first move in what may become a trend for advertising platforms. The company says it will no longer accept Flash ads on Amazon.com and the Amazon Advertising Platform beginning Tuesday, September 1.

Company News:

Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Apple stocks hit the deck – Thursday was a rough day on Wall Street for many of the biggest names in the tech industry, as stocks dipped across the board. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 2.06 per cent, and the Nasdaq 100 Index was down 2.8 per cent, on the day Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Apple all saw their share prices dip – wiping $49bn off the five giants’ total market value. According to Bloomberg data, it was their worst day since January 2013.

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Twitter shares have tumbled back to their original IPO price – Twitter’s stock price continues to slide, closing today at the $26 strike price at which it went public. It closed its first day of trading around $45, a mark it has not matched since May of this year. While the company has continued to grow its revenue at a healthy pace, it has struggled to turn a substantial profit and frightened investors with its lack of user growth. CEO Dick Costolo stepped down earlier this year, and has been replaced by co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey. But it’s unclear if Dorsey will stay on as the permanent chief, adding to overall worries about the company’s health.

HP profit slides 13 percent as split nears – Hewlett-Packard has reported another quarter of declining profits and revenue, with its massive corporate split now less than three months away. Revenue for the quarter ended July 31 dropped 8 percent to $25.3 billion, while profit was down 13 percent to $854 million, HP announced Thursday. It’s the sixteenth quarter in a row that HP’s revenue has declined, as the company continues to battle an ongoing shift from PCs to tablets and smartphones, and from on-premise IT equipment to the cloud.

Salesforce.com delivers above Q2 targets, outlook strong – Salesforce.com published better-than-expected second quarter financial results after the bell on Thursday. The tech giant reported non-GAAP earnings of 19 cents per share on a revenue of $1.63 billion, up 24 percent year-over-year (statement). Wall Street was looking for earnings of 18 cents per share with $1.60 billion in revenue. Subscription and support revenues jumped by nearly the same amount on an annual basis to $1.52 billion. Professional services and other revenues totaled $113 million, up 32 percent year-over-year. For the current quarter, Wall Street is looking for non-GAAP earnings of 18 cents per share with $1.68 billion in revenue.

Uber background checks missed drivers’ criminal records, prosecutors say – Amid growing concerns over Uber passengers’ safety, prosecutors in California allege that the background checks the company conducts on drivers failed to weed out 25 drivers with criminal records, including convictions for murder, assault, sex offenses and child abuse. The charges were included in an amended complaint filed Wednesday by the district attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the ride-hailing service’s hometown.

Intuit reports mixed bag on Q4 earnings; divestitures on deck – Intuit published its fourth quarter and full year financial results Thursday after the bell. The tax and accounting software company reported fourth quarter loss of $130 million, and earnings of 5 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings saw a loss of 5 cents per share on revenue of $696 million. Wall Street was expecting a loss of 12 cents per share on revenue of $738.9 million. The company scored a win on earnings, but fell short on revenue. For the full year, the company reported $4.19 billion in revenue. At the end of the fourth quarter, Intuit had about $1.7 billion of cash and investments.

Games and Entertainment:

Final Fantasy VII Comes To iOS – If you were cheesed off when Square Enix launched a mobile version Final Fantasy XIII for gamers in Japan only, then we’ve got some news for you. Final Fantasy VII, a true classic in the series, has now landed on iOS — and it is available for all worldwide. Priced at $15.99, the title requires a whopping 4GB of space on your device (but it will take up 2GB) and supports iPhone 5s or later, gen-3 iPad/iPad mini 2 upwards running iOS 8.

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Telltale’s Back to the Future games coming to PS4, Xbox One – Telltale Games, the makers of some of the very best episodic gaming series, including The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and The Wold Among Us, appears to be about to re-release its hit Back to the Future: The Game on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 consoles. While the developers have yet to officially announce it, the game is already listed on Amazon’s US and Canadian sites, complete with the final boxart. The game has a release date of October 13th, just two months before the original Back to the Future movie’s 30th anniversary.

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Nvidia GameStream Co-Op pipes PC games to your far-flung friends – Not content to simply release its new GeForce GTX 950 graphics cards today, Nvidia is also announcing a new feature called GameStream Co-Op for its GeForce Experience PC software. This will allow GeForce users to stream PC games to other laptops and desktops over the Internet, including fairly low-powered machines that don’t have Nvidia graphics cards inside. The guest PC can then watch the live stream, take over the main controls from the host, or commandeer a second controller for same-screen multiplayer games such as Trine, Portal 2, or Rocket League.

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Nintendo 2DS Price Drops to $99.99 – Looking for a new handheld gaming device on the cheap? Nintendo has you covered. The gaming giant on Thursday announced that its 2DS system is getting a price drop. Beginning Aug. 30, the Nintendo 2DS will be available for $99.99, down from the current suggested retail price of $129.99. Even at the new price, the system will come with a digital version of Mario Kart 7.

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HBO Now Rolls Out For Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick – As of today, you can watch all HBO series, movies and documentaries for $15 per month with either Amazon’s $99 Fire TV setup or the even more affordable Fire TV Stick that retails for $39 bucks. HBO launched Now exclusively with Apple earlier this year, and brought the service to Google Cast and Chromecast just a couple of weeks ago. To be clear, Amazon Fire Tablet owners have had access to HBO Now since July, but expanding to the Fire TV devices will reach a much larger group of “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” enthusiasts.

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Apple TV drops to fourth, behind Amazon’s Fire TV – Sales of the Apple TV, which hasn’t had a significant update in three years, drop behind streaming-TV box players Roku, Google and — for the first time — Amazon.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 review: Bringing more oomph to budget gaming PCs – In the wake of the newly-released $150 AMD Radeon R7 370 (essentially a slightly tweaked, slightly faster version of the older R9 270, which is also still available) Nvidia had to do something to even the score in the crucial, high-volume sub-$200 graphics card market. Meet that something: The $160 Nvidia GeForce GTX 950. This new addition brings some much-needed additional firepower to the sub-$200 GeForce lineup, complementing—but not replacing—the GTX 750 Ti, which will still be sticking around. Will the GTX 950 appeal to people looking to game respectably at 1080p resolution without breaking the bank? Let’s dig in.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

10 Surprising Things Technology Will Make Obsolete by 2025 – Looking outside your window, you could be forgiven for coming down with a case of the future-blahs. On the surface, 2015 doesn’t look anything like the flying car super future we were promised. But the fact of the matter is we’re surrounded by the future. We just don’t GADZOOKS all day long because we’ve watched its slow, incremental development. It’s crazy easy to take our modern miracles for granted. We don’t have a crystal ball, but if eyeing current trends, we can make some educated guesses about how things will go down. Check out our list of 10 common things that might be gone by 2025. To be sure, we may be proven completely wrong on some of these.

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Car Mirrors

9 awesome photos of school computer labs from the 1980s – During the 1980s, public school systems and universities across the United States threw themselves headlong into the PC revolution, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in computer systems, accessories, and software. Tech companies eager for new customers were happy to oblige, and a new educational market was born. Soon it became common for most schools (some of which were perpetually under-funded) to assemble their expensive new computers in one place for group instruction. And thus was born the computer lab. In the slides ahead, we’ll take a trip back in time to visit some of these formational learning grounds of the 1980s.

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Apple Lisas at University of Michigan (1983)

Don’t have time to drink your coffee? Chew it with Go Cubes – Nootrobox — a company that makes “nutrients for your brain” — has come up with a way to turn cold-brew coffee into chewable coffee cubes called Go Cubes. The company launched an Indiegogo campaign seeking $20,000 (about £13,000) to help make the Go Cubes, which it calls “the future of coffee,” a buzzing reality. The Go Cubes come in three flavors — classic drip, mocha and latte — and each bite-size cube contains the equivalent of a half a cup of coffee.

Keep calm and carry on: no asteroid coming, says NASA – A lot of things go viral on the Internet these days, from cat photos to stupid videos to inspiring stories. Sadly, misinformation is just as easily, or even more easily, spread these days thanks to the wide reach of the Net. The most recent scare play on the fears and imagination surrounding a favorite doomsday scenario in recent years, at least before the zombies came. But NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program is reassuring that public that no giant asteroid is coming to destroy a good chunk of the earth any time soon.

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Report: ‘vaping’ is 95% healthier than cigarette smoking – Public Health England (PHE) has made what is claimed to be the first official proclamation of electronic cigarettes’ superiority to regular cigarettes. The findings suggest e-cigarettes are 95 percent less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes. Only nasal sprays, oral products (nicotine gum, etc.), and patches are rated as more safe. Cigars are one level higher than e-cigarettes in terms of danger, followed by pipes, small cigars and, finally, cigarettes. Of course, electronic cigarettes are not without their risks, and from a health standpoint, completely giving up smoking in all forms would be ideal.

Ford patents self-driving “lounge” car – The primary motivation for self-driving cars has mostly been for safety, taking stressful manual processes out of the equation and keeping error-prone humans away from the wheel. But if humans won’t be driving anymore, there won’t be much left for them to do right? Well, why not take advantage of the situation to do a bit of socialization? In a patent for an “Autonomous Vehicle with Reconfigurable Seats”, Ford is suggesting exactly that, with front seats that can be moved to transform the cabin into a more comfortable lounge.

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U.S. senator to push proposal for mandatory drone geofencing – U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is to introduce a proposal that aims to make geofencing of drones mandatory soon, following a number of reports of close shaves between the unmanned aircraft and regular planes. The geofencing of drones would use GPS and other technology to impose geographical limits on their movement.

Something to think about:

“There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.”

–      Plato

Downloads:

OPSWAT Gears – Gears allows you to monitor and manage multiple device types and numerous application types. While most network monitoring solutions utilize Windows Security Center and WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) to provide limited, Windows-only application status information, Gears utilizes OPSWAT’s OESIS Framework, a development toolkit that enables detection, assessment and remediation of Mac OSX and Windows third party applications, to provide much more extensive and detailed information.

Gears provides an increased reassurance of device health via two methods of detecting infections. Gears looks at the history of threats detected by the antivirus products installed on a device, helping you identify threats that either cannot be remediated by the installed antivirus or that the user is repeatedly downloading. In addition, Gears utilizes OPSWAT’s Metascan® technology to scan devices daily for running threats. By using as many as 40 commercial anti-malware engines from vendors like ESET, AVG, Microsoft, Bitdefender, Symantec, F-Secure, Kaspersky, McAfee and others, Gears can identify threats in your network that aren’t detected by the installed antivirus.

Remotely uninstall conflicting antivirus applications, peer to peer (torrent) software and much more to maintain device compliance and performance. If an unwanted application is installed on a machine, Gears enables automatic or manual uninstallation, with no interaction necessary on the endpoint. This feature, which is powered by OPSWAT’s AppRemover technology for uninstalling applications, also extends to global uninstallation of unwanted applications so that you can easily restore compliance across your network. No other network monitoring solution offers this!

Gears provides more visibility into more endpoints and devices on your network and more of the applications installed on those devices than other network monitoring solutions. Easily manage Windows and Mac devices, monitor the status of protection applications such as hard disk encryption, third party patch clients, antivirus, firewall and more, and receive alerts about potentially unwanted or compromising applications like public file sharing.

Once the Gears Client is present on a device, automatic updating will ensure that each device always has the latest version of OPSWAT’s software and can be correctly monitored and managed. You’ll never have to worry about tracking down each device for an update, and the Client will continue to detect new 3rd party software applications released in the market and installed on the device.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Jeb Bush wants “a new arrangement with Silicon Valley” to ease crypto – Jeb Bush, one of the leading Republican presidential candidates, told a national security forum that Washington, DC needs a stronger link to Silicon Valley.

“There’s a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and NSA doing its job,” Bush said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. “I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way.”

Group fights gov’t claim that “essentially all telephone records are relevant.”

The former Florida governor’s statement puts him not only at odds with rival Republican candidates like Rand Paul, but also against a number of government committees and federal judges.

“If you create encryption, it makes it harder for the American government to do its job—while protecting civil liberties—to make sure that evildoers aren’t in our midst,” Bush said in South Carolina at an event sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, according to The Intercept.

Bush claimed that there was “no evidence” that the bulk collection by the National Security Agency violated civil liberties, despite the fact that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and others have done just that.

Ex-Prez Bush, Cheney sued for email, phone spying during Olympics – Ex-US president George W Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and senior law enforcement officials have been named in a class-action lawsuit for authorizing blanket phone, email, and text message surveillance of Utah citizens during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

In 2013 the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI and NSA had done a deal with telco Qwest Communications for blanket surveillance coverage for Salt Lake City during the Winter Olympics. Then-mayor Ross “Rocky” Anderson has now taken up the case and has filed the class action suit.

“This is the first time anyone knows of that a surveillance cone has been placed over a specific geographical area in the United States,” he told The Register on Thursday.

“What was so alarming was that they were reading the contents of the text messages and emails.”

Anderson, who served two consecutive terms as mayor between 2000 and 2008, said he had spoken to a source who had been a very senior staffer in the NSA at the time. He explained how the agency had performed blanket collection of metadata during the event, but that individuals had also been targeted to have their phone calls recorded and emails read.

Warrantless airport laptop search dooms Iran arms sales prosecution – Federal prosecutors asked a federal judge in Washington on Tuesday to dismiss the government’s prosecution of a South Korean businessman accused of illegally selling technology used in aircraft and missiles to Iran.

The move comes three months after a judge ruled that the government unlawfully seized and searched the suspect’s computer at Los Angeles International Airport as Jae Shik Kim was to catch a flight home in 2012. The government decided not to appeal and said it was “unable to continue prosecuting this matter.”

As we previously reported in this case, the authorities who were investigating Kim exercised the border exception rule that allows them “to seize and search goods and people—without court warrants—along the border and at airport international terminals. US District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia noted that the Supreme Court has never directly addressed the issue of warrantless computer searches at an international border crossing, but she ruled the government used Kim’s flight home as an illegal pretext to seize his computer.” Authorities then shipped it 150 miles south to San Diego where the hard drive was copied and examined for weeks.

Google ordered to remove links to stories about ‘right to be forgotten’ request – Google has been ordered to remove links to news articles reporting on the company’s earlier removal of links in response to a “right to be forgotten” request in Europe.

The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office issued the order this week, giving Google 35 days to remove the links. Google has the right to appeal the order to the General Regulatory Chamber.

The order puts a “meta” spin on the controversial right to be forgotten ruling, which lets people request that Google remove links to information about them from its search results on its European sites.

The ruling, issued last year, established a mechanism for people to ask search engines to remove links to information they consider to be irrelevant or not in the public interest, though without removing the actual content from the Web.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – August 19, 2015

Cloud security: 10 things you need to know;  Confide, The Self-Destructing Messenger, Goes Live On Desktop;  Five free encryption apps to help secure your Android device;  Cleaning vs. Protection – Why you shouldn’t rely on malware cleaning;  Five more data recovery tools that could save the day;  33 Gmail Tips That Will Help You Conquer Email;  11 cool back-to-school tech tools;  Who’s upgrading to Windows 10?  Activate GodMode in Windows 10;  Google announces OnHub, a $200 router;  Microsoft issues emergency patch for critical IE bug;  Why you need to turn down your TV’s sharpness control;  Anti-privacy unkillable super-cookies spreading around the world;  Stephen Hawking’s speech software is now available for free;  Windows 10 won’t run some older CD-ROM games;  With Microsoft Sway, your next presentation doesn’t have to suck;  The 10 Best Gaming Monitors of 2015;  Your complete guide to the iOS 9 public beta;  Attackers increasingly abuse insecure routers;  The latest on Trump’s enemies list: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg;  UN demands NSA respect its privacy amid AT&T spying report.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Cleaning vs. Protection – Why you shouldn’t rely on malware cleaning – There’s a big difference between a protected PC and a PC that has been “cleaned”. If you rely on the latter, then you’re just waiting for disaster to strike. After all, you wouldn’t avoid wearing your seatbelt because a doctor can put you back together again, would you? Losing important data and shelling out for expensive consultations are real problems, but inconvenience is just the tip of the malware iceberg.

Cloud security: 10 things you need to know – It seems that every time the cloud is brought up in the enterprise, the conversation to follow is focused on how secure, or not secure, it really is. Some would have you believe the cloud is safer than on-premise, while others contend that it is the least safe place you could store your data. When thinking about cloud security, it’s ultimately up to each individual organization and its leadership to determine if a cloud deployment is the right strategy. However, cloud adoption is growing overall, and it is important to consider how it affects the organization. Here are 10 things you need to know about cloud security.

11 cool back-to-school tech tools – Equip yourself for a successful year with these campus tech tools, including an innovative note-taking pen, a laptop-friendly backpack and a clever space-saving power strip.

Survey highlights Mac vs. PC buying in back to school shopping trends – More than 4,000 shoppers surveyed give you their outlooks on Mac, PC, tablets, and more for Fall semester 2015.

Confide, The Self-Destructing Messenger, Goes Live On Desktop – Confide launched 18 months ago as a mobile app on iOS and Android, offering users the chance to send messages to each other that are only readable a few words at a time. When the user tapped on certain words in the message, they would appear and disappear again as the user’s finger moved across the entire message. Once the user chose to reply or exit out, the message disappeared forever. Now, that same functionality is coming over to the Desktop for both Mac and Windows as a native application.

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Five free encryption apps to help secure your Android device – Do your hats tend to fall into the tinfoil range? Are you afraid there is always somebody watching you? If so, rest assured that the Android ecosystem offers plenty of apps to soothe your paranoia. But which apps are the must-haves? Here are five apps you should immediately install and put to work. They’ll bring you peace in the knowledge that your mobile data is far more secure than those around you.

Five more data recovery tools that could save the day – Maybe it was hardware failure or user error or a malicious attack… but you don’t necessarily have to kiss that data goodbye. Here are some apps that just might get it back for you.

33 Gmail Tips That Will Help You Conquer Email – Gmail has come a long way in 11 years. It’s not perfect and occasionally sends ripples of outrage across its user base. But let’s be honest: with Gmail you get plenty for nothing. As a Web app, Gmail is a work in progress, with Google occasionally adding new functions. The amount of under-the-hood power in Gmail is pretty staggering. That’s what we’re here to delve into: all the tools that lay below the surface of the Gmail inbox.

Hack turns Amazon Dash Buttons into do anything switches – As seen previously, Amazon’s new Dash Buttons are physical equivalents of 1-click checkout options, allowing Amazon Prime members to order common household items with a single press of the WiFi-connected device. But one programmer has come with a fairly simple hack that turns the $5 buttons into something that can track just about any type of data point. In a detailed post on Medium, Edward Benson explains how he turned a Dash Button into a system that collects data on his baby.

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Activate GodMode in Windows 10 – If you’re sick of switching between the Settings menu and the Control Panel, searching for your lost settings, there is a way to access all settings and controls in one place: GodMode. GodMode is a dedicated folder that lets you see all control panels in one place — here, you’ll be able to do everything from adding clocks for different time zones to defragmenting your drives. And it’s a snap to set up.

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Screenshot: GodMode on a Windows 10 personal machine.

Who’s upgrading to Windows 10? – Windows 8.1 users have been half again as likely to upgrade to Windows 10 as their compatriots running Windows 7, data from a Web metrics vendor showed today, confirming expectations about who would upgrade first to Microsoft’s new operating system. The ascension of Windows 10’s usage share has largely come at the expense of Windows 8.1, according to measurements by Irish analytics company StatCounter. Of the combined usage share losses posted by Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 since the last full week before Windows 10’s July 29 launch, 57% has been attributed to Windows 8.1 deserters. Windows 7, meanwhile, contributed 37% of the losses by the last three editions, and Windows 8, 6%.

Microsoft Launches New Windows 10 Build, Vows To Keep Its Early Access Program Alive – Microsoft released a new Windows 10 build to its testing community today, noting in the process that the developers and fans in its ‘Insider’ program will continue to receive builds ahead of the general public. The gist is that after the formal launch of Windows 10 to the public — more on that here — Microsoft remains focused on placing new features and the like into its self-selected testing community. That choice fits with the company’s goal of updating Windows 10 on a chronic basis; if you are going to release consistently, you need testers. So, the Windows Insider program lives on.

With Microsoft Sway, your next presentation doesn’t have to suck – I’m not going to go through the mechanics of how to create a Sway story, but I can say the tool is fairly easy to use, even for an old guy like me. Sway combines features from PowerPoint, Movie Maker, and WordPress, among others, so that a person with limited multimedia skill can put together a storyboard in very little time. If you have an Office 365 subscription, then you already have Sway. If you don’t have Office 365, but you have Windows 10, you can get Sway for free from the Windows Store. Microsoft provides tutorials and examples to get you started, so Sway may be worth a try for your next presentation or report.

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Google announces OnHub, a $200 router focused on simplicity – OnHub’s key selling point really seems to be that it’s easy to set up and painless to troubleshoot. It connects to iOS and Android phones through what looks like a clean and stylish app, which tells owners how many devices are connected to OnHub and what kind of speeds they’re getting. Google says that the router’s circular design should allow it to have better penetration throughout a home (there are 13 antennas inside of it); the router will also automatically detect the best channel to broadcast on and includes support for 802.11ac and 5GHz Wi-Fi.

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Google Launches Standalone Hangouts Site – Need to chat with someone on Hangouts but don’t feel like keeping your Gmail open? Now there’s another way. Google this week launched a standalone Hangouts site where you can chat to your heart’s content right from your browser, without opening Gmail or Google+.

Why you need to turn down your TV’s sharpness control – The problem is that the sharpness control itself doesn’t really do anything to increase detail, and can often obscure that detail behind a mask of artificial-looking enhancement. You should almost always turn it all the way down, especially with high-quality sources like Blu-ray discs, HDTV broadcasts, video games, some HD streaming services, and so on. Here’s why.

Your complete guide to the iOS 9 public beta – The iOS 9 public beta is out, giving iPhone and iDevice users their first taste of Apple’s new operating system and a chance to locate and report bugs before it’s officially released later this year. After initiating a similar program in 2014 with Mac OS X Yosemite, this is the first year that Apple has made iOS betas available to people outside its paid Developer Program. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility and if you’re thinking of jumping in early, here’s what you need to know.

Yelp Wants You to Review the Government – Under a new agreement with Yelp, federal agencies can now claim their existing Yelp pages or launch new ones to respond officially to reviews, according to Luther Lowe, vice president of public policy at Yelp. “It’s exciting because it allows government agencies to take real-time feedback from citizens and act upon it in a way that helps our democracy operate better,” Lowe says.

Security:

Microsoft issues emergency patch for critical IE bug under active exploit – Microsoft has issued an emergency update for its Internet Explorer browser to patch a critical vulnerability attackers are actively exploiting to install malware on targeted computers. CVE-2015-2502, as the remote code-execution flaw is indexed, can be exploited when vulnerable computers visit booby-trapped websites or possibly when they open malicious HTML-based e-mails. The bug involves the way IE stores objects in memory and results in an error that corrupts memory contents. The vulnerability, which is present in all supported versions of IE, carries Microsoft’s top severity of critical for all desktop versions of Windows. The rating is one step lower for server OSes because IE on those versions runs in a restricted mode known as enhanced security configuration.

Another serious vulnerability found in Android’s media processing service – The latest vulnerability in Android’s mediaserver component was discovered by security researchers from antivirus firm Trend Micro and stems from a feature called AudioEffect. The implementation of this feature does not properly check some buffer sizes that are supplied by clients, like media player applications. Therefore it is possible to craft a rogue application without any special permissions that could exploit the flaw to trigger a heap overflow, the Trend Micro researchers said Monday in a blog post.

Anti-privacy unkillable super-cookies spreading around the world – study – At least nine telcos around the world are using so-called super-cookies to secretly monitor citizens’ online behavior, according to a new study. This super-cookie allows ad networks and media publishers to follow people across the internet even if they clear their cookies. It allows the networks to build up profiles on users’ habits, and pitch them targeted advertising, while the telcos take a cut. Access set up a website called Amibeingtracked.com, and monitored visits from 180,000 netizens on their phones. The group found that 15.3 per cent of visitors had the tracking headers installed from cellphone owners in Canada, China, India, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Peru, Spain, the US, and Venezuela.

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Attackers increasingly abuse insecure routers and other home devices for DDoS attacks – Attackers are taking advantage of home routers and other devices that respond to UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) requests over the Internet in order to amplify distributed denial-of-service attacks. A report released Tuesday by cloud services provider Akamai Technologies shows that the number of DDoS attacks is on the rise. During the second quarter of 2015 it increased by 7 percent compared to the previous three months and by 132 percent compared to the same period last year, the company’s data revealed. Overall, attackers launched less powerful attacks, but their duration was longer. Even so, the company saw 12 attacks that exceeded 100Gbps during the second quarter and five that peaked at more than 50 million packets per second.

Ashley Madison hackers appear to have followed through on threat to expose users – The information was first posted on the dark web, before the group behind the attacks — calling itself the Impact Team — announced its release on Reddit earlier this week. A searchable database has been constructed using the information, allowing interested parties to search for people by name or email address, and returning details including their sexual preference, contact details, body type, and fetishes. User passwords are encrypted with the bcrypt algorithm, suggesting that Ashley Madison at least took steps to secure that information while on file, but Robert Graham, CEO of Erratasec, told Wired that “hackers are still likely to be able to ‘crack’ many of these hashes in order to discover the account holder’s original password.”

IRS: Tax breach much worse than originally thought – The cyberattack on U.S. taxpayer data reported by the Internal Revenue Service earlier this year now appears to be much worse than originally thought, the agency announced Monday, with as many as 300,000 citizens now believed to be potential victims.

Company News:

Target pens settlement agreement with Visa over 2013 security breach – The $67 million Target will pay as part of the agreement will help cover the costs that banks were hit with as a result of the security breach. According to the Wall Street Journal, trade groups on behalf of credit unions and some community banks spent in excessive of $350 million having to reissues cards and patch up other troubles that surfaced as a result of the breach, and the Home Depot breach that followed.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Defends His Company After a Scathing New York Times Article – According to CNBC, Bezos said in the memo that the NYT article “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.” The article, published over the weekend by NYT, depicts an exceedingly harsh environment for employees at Amazon, which recently surpassed Walmart to become the world’s most valuable retailer. The story describes Amazon as a “bruising workplace” where employees are routinely mistreated and pitted against one another, all while working long hours.

Google Pushes Android One To Africa – Google is ramping up its Android One affordable smartphone program with a push into Africa. The first Android One smartphone for the region is being made by OEM Infinix, and is launching in Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Morocco today.

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Company pays FCC $750,000 for blocking Wi-Fi hotspots at conventions – A Wi-Fi service provider has agreed to pay the Federal Communications Commission $750,000 for blocking personal mobile hotspots used by convention visitors and exhibitors so they could avoid paying the company’s $80-per-day fee. Smart City Holdings automatically blocked users from using their personal cell phone data plans to establish mobile Wi-Fi networks, according to a statement published Tuesday by FCC officials. After the FCC took action against Smart City Holdings, the company pledged to stop the practice and pay the $750,000 fee to settle the matter. Marriott remains defiant: “We believe that the Opryland’s actions were lawful.” It’s the second enforcement action by the FCC taking aim at the blocking of FCC-approved Wi-Fi connections.

Alibaba setting up cloud datacentre, international HQ in Singapore – Alibaba’s cloud business, Aliyun, has announced plans to set up its international headquarters in Singapore as part of efforts to drive its global expansion. It also confirmed a new datacentre will be established in the city-state slated to launch next month, the company said. With its opening, the site will be the seventh such facility worldwide and second outside of China, after it launched its Silicon Valley site in March. The Singapore facility will provide a range of cloud offerings including relational database, open storage, and security services.

BuzzFeed Confirms $200M Investment From NBCUniversal – If the news sounds a little familiar, that’s because Vox Media announced a similar deal with NBCUniversal last week. At the time, Re/code (now owned by Vox) reported that BuzzFeed had received an investment of the same size, at a valuation of $1.5 billion. As with the Vox deal, BuzzFeed and NBCUniversal say they’ll be looking at possibilities for strategic partnerships.

Stephen Hawking’s speech software is now available for free – Stephen Hawking’s speech system has been released by Intel as open-source code. The company is hoping that developers will tinker with it and expand its application to a wider range of disabilities. The Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT) gives differently abled users the opportunity to use computers with very little movement, and was developed to help Hawking, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) communicate by translating his facial movements into text.

Games and Entertainment:

Windows 10 won’t run some older CD-ROM games, thanks to DRM – At the turn of the century, it was hard to find gamers—or gaming journalists, for that matter—who didn’t despise SecuRom and SafeDisc digital rights management copy protection on some of the top titles of that age. The DRM was accused of causing harware problems and were incredibly invasive on a user’s system. Those DRM mechanisms are gone now, but people still love to pop in their old Grand Theft Auto IV or Spore DRM-laden discs and play a little of these classics. In Windows 10, however, that’s no longer possible: Windows 10 does not allow the SecuRom and SafeDisc DRM schemes to run, which means the games will fail to start.

Microsoft remakes famous Gears of War trailer for upcoming Ultimate Edition – Gears of War was one of the first big exclusive hits for the Xbox 360 when it came out way back in 2006. The game has spawned several sequels, but now Microsoft is going back to pretty up the original. Gears of War Ultimate Edition is headed to the Xbox One later this month, and Microsoft has refreshed that famous 2006 Gears trailer to get people hyped for the remake.

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Wonky Pigeon lets gamers ‘destroy city with poo’ – Getting tired of playing games as a goat, but don’t find ordinary human characters interesting enough? Late last week a new game launched on Steam called Wonky Pigeon, and in it you play as a pigeon who, apparently, is able to channel his dark side (as if pigeons possess anything more). The gamer is tasked with flying above a city and, it appears, a farm of some sort and identifying targets — that is, people who are going about their own business until, out of nowhere, the pigeon unleashes its most foul weapon.

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How Ubuntu’s making it easier for Linux gamers to get the latest graphics drivers – Gaming’s not all about rocking the biggest, beefiest graphics card. Serious PC gamers know it’s important to have the latest graphics drivers from Nvidia or AMD , which can dramatically improve performance with newer games. That holds true on Linux, too—but it hasn’t been as easy to install the latest graphics drivers on Linux as it is on Windows-based systems. Ubuntu is fixing the problem.

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Borderlands 2 running on Ubuntu Linux.

This week’s new Xbox One and Xbox 360 Deals With Gold revealed – Microsoft has announced this week’s lineup of Deals With Gold offers for Xbox One and Xbox 360, with games like Batman: Arkham Knight, Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption, and more on sale. Take a look at the full lineup below. All deals are good through August 24. Those marked with an asterisk do not require an Xbox Live Gold subscription.

Grand Ages: Medieval preview: Economics, warfare, and economic warfare – Buy. Sell. Buy. Sell. Buy. Sell. Upgrade your town. Repeat. Grand Ages: Medieval is hardly going to win our entirely-fictional “Most Visceral Game” award. More than Europa Universalis, more than Total War, more than Civilization, Grand Ages: Medieval is like peering into the guts of an empire instead of sitting above it. Why is an emperor concerned with trade routes? I don’t know. But in this game, that’s life. Grand Ages: Medieval is about slowly building a massive machine out of piecemeal parts, and then tuning those pieces towards perpetual motion—towards self-correction and permanence.

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The 10 Best Gaming Monitors of 2015 – Whether you’re a serious PC gamer or a casual after-hours warrior, your hardware can mean the difference between victory and defeat. To get the most out of the latest first-person shooter (FPS), sports, racing, and other fast-action games, you’ll not only need a gaming PC with a powerful graphics solution, you’ll need a monitor that can display the action without subjecting you to blurred images, flicker, tearing, and other motion artifacts. In this guide we’ll help you choose a display that will give you an edge over your opponents while delivering a smooth, immersive gaming experience. We highlight the factor to consider when choosing a gaming monitor, and give our current favorites.

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Ubisoft: Rainbow Six Siege delayed until December – Ubisoft has announced that, due to gamer feedback, it has delayed the release of Rainbow Six: Siege until December 1 of this year, about a month and a half later than the originally planned release date of October 13. Ubisoft announced the news today in a statement, saying the delayed launch covers all planned regions, and that while it “wasn’t an easy decision”, it is one that is necessary based on the feedback Ubisoft has gotten thus far from gamers.

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High-quality 1080p Xbox One-to-PC streaming now live for all – The hack that unlocked high-quality streaming from the Xbox One to a Windows 10 PC is a hack no longer—Microsoft has pushed it to the world at large as part of its August update. You can now stream games from your Xbox One to Windows 10 devices in HD quality at 1080p and 60 frames per second, Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb said in a blog post on Tuesday. All you’ll need to do is go into the Xbox app in Windows 10, go to Settings > Game Streaming and set the video encoding level to Very High. Enabling this, however, requires both an update to the Xbox One console itself as well as the Windows 10 PC’s Xbox app.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Snowden Graphic Novel is a Dark, Funny Portrait of a Whistleblower – Laura Poitras’s Academy Award-winning documentary Citizenfour showed history being made as Snowden walked reporter Glenn Greenwald through the data. Later this year, Joseph Gordon-Levitt will star in Oliver Stone’s Snowden, a dramatization of the whistleblower’s life. And in a few weeks, you’ll be able to read Snowden, an upcoming illustrated biography by author and editorial cartoonist Ted Rall. Here’s what I thought of this darkly funny look at our ongoing surveillance nightmare.

The latest on Trump’s enemies list: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg – If you’re not for Donald Trump, you’re against him. You’re also likely either a slob, a moron, an idiot or a loser. Please, these are not my epithets. You know where they come from. The Donald, as the Republican presidential hopeful is currently known, has a new enemy to go along with the likes of journalist Megyn Kelly, Sen. John McCain and, oh, all the others. This time it’s Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Behold! The Laptop Butler That Holds Your Drink To Your Laptop – As we approach the New Age, a thousand portents churn on the horizon. Dogs and cats begin living together. A man has found something he mislaid months before in a place he has already looked. And, as was written in days of old, the Laptop Butler would rise to hold our drinks to our laptops. But what is the Laptop Butler? It is a drink holder that attaches to your laptop. Why? So you can put your drink near your laptop and not use up your table space. The creators, Jeffrey A. Taylor and William H. Merritt, envision a world in which the Laptop Butler saves you from unwanted spills.

10 of the weirdest wheeled ways to get around (pictures) – Wheeled personal transportation options, from transforming roller-skate shoes to half-bikes, have never been wackier or more diverse than they are now.

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Post Modern Skateboard has no board.

New earbuds give you super-hearing – Instead of earbuds, which typically deliver music and voice sounds through a wire, and hearing aids, which boost certain frequencies (lost to the elderly who listened to loud music through earbuds in their misspent youths), the new hearables — wearable devices that live in your ears — enable the customization of environmental sound. You can cherry-pick which noises you want to hear better, and which you want silenced. Here’s what you’ll hear.

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Drinkable book has pages that filter water and kill bacteria – We in the developed world take for granted the infrastructure that delivers clean, safe water directly to our homes, something that was an unthinkable luxury until quite recently in human history. In many areas of the world, sources of water are much less regulated, and can contain dangerous levels of bacteria. A researcher from Carnegie Mellon University is working on book to help people make drinking water safer. The book doesn’t just deliver information, though. It also filters water. This project is the brainchild of Dr. Teri Dankovich, currently at Carnegie Mellon, but much of the work for this technology was done at McGill University and the University of Virginia.

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Will Solar Panels Save You Money? Ask Google’s Project Sunroof – Dubbed “Project Sunroof,” Elkin’s program uses high-resolution aerial mapping to help calculate the solar energy potential of local residents’ roofs. Currently being tested in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno, and Boston, Project Sunroof utilizes the same technology in use by Google Earth. Folks living in the initial test areas can visit the Project Sunroof website: Enter your address, and the service will estimate how much you might save by adding solar panels to your house.

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Something to think about:

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

–     Aldous Huxley

Downloads:

Tor – Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.

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Why Anonymity Matters – Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.

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PaperScan Scanner Software – PaperScan Scanner Software is a powerful TWAIN & WIA scanning application centered on one idea: making document acquisition an unparalleled easy task for anyone.

But it also provides advanced features like OCR, annotations or color detection.

Universal Scanning Application

Automatic Color Detection

Import Images and PDF documents

Annotations

Image Adjustments and Enhancements

Various File Formats Saving

Batch Scanning With Separator Sheets Support

Quick-Scan Mode

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UN demands NSA respect its privacy amid AT&T spying report – The United Nations has asked member states to “respect” its privacy amid reports it had been extensively spied on by the US government.

Almost exactly two years after it emerged that the National Security Agency was conducting surveillance on the United Nations, a report published in tandem by The New York Times and ProPublica added new details.

Documents provided by Edward Snowden showed the US government was getting help from AT&T, which supplied the United Nations’ headquarters in New York with internet and phone services.

The report said AT&T’s alleged relationship with the NSA under the “Fairview” program helped the intelligence agency tap into phones, emails, and infiltrate the video-conferencing systems. Earlier reports said UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s talking points to President Barack Obama were were also seen through the Blarney email-grabbing program.

The United Nations, the global governing body for the world’s governments, is examining “how best to respond,” UN spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci told reporters on Monday.

White House Recruits Tech Troops to Serve Government ‘Tour of Duty’ – The American government finally has its own tech army—and it’s looking to recruit.

President Obama signed an executive order on Monday to officialize the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIFs) program, a growing national service initiative that recruits technologically-minded Americans as troops to work alongside federal employees to create products and services for a dozen government agencies.

The executive order, which formally establishes the three-year-old fellowship within the General Services Administration, is the culmination of Obama’s efforts to improve upon the federal government’s outdated IT and web services. So far, the roughly 100 fellows who’ve participated in the competitive service program have tackled issues like the Healthcare.gov meltdown, the Veterans Affairs scandal and police reform.

“Almost every job or career comes to the government, except technology. And when they do come, they’re buried in the IT team,” says U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Megan Smith, who left her job as a Google exec last fall to spearhead the nation’s technology policy.

Smith, the third person and first woman to hold the post, said the idea of tech service “hadn’t occurred to [her]” until she began emailing with former U.S. CTO Todd Park, the fellowship’s founder. “The tech folks haven’t always had a welcome seat at the table,” says Smith, who, like Park, maintains that the federal government can be as good an incubator for innovation as Silicon Valley—with the right people. The program does its own recruiting, but also has an application available on its website.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 17, 2015

AT&T helped NSA spy on millions of Americans’ private calls, emails;   Volkswagen Spent Years Hiding This Huge Security Flaw;  10 Do’s and don’ts for every Android user;  Report claims Kaspersky faked malware to trip up competitors’ products;  10 ways your phone has embarrassed you in public;  Three Windows 10 Start menu tweaks that subtly improve your experience;  Stop the Flash madness – 5 bugs a week;  10 cross-platform messaging apps you shouldn’t overlook;  16 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed;  How to get the most out of your rechargeable batteries;  Sick of Windows spying on you? Go Linux;  Zero-day flaw in Google Admin app allows malicious apps to read its files;  Parrot drones easily taken down or hijacked;  The 10 Best Wireless Speakers of 2015;  The 10 Best HDTVs of 2015;  How to Unlock Higher-Quality Xbox Streaming in Windows 10;  The 15 best Android puzzle games for teasing your brain.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

AT&T helped NSA spy on millions of Americans’ private calls, emails – Newly published documents published Saturday, provided by Edward Snowden in 2013, show the US cellular and telecom giant was in cahoots with the intelligence agency as far back as 1985, a relationship that later intensified following the September 11 terrorist attacks. More than two years after the first document was published by reporters, we’re now venturing into the portion of the documents disclosed by Snowden that are highly likely and previously suspected, but now finally confirmed. The report is long, and there are more than 70 pages to digest. Here some of the snippets from the ProPublica-New York Times report:

Stop the Flash madness – 5 bugs a week – On August 11, 2015 Adobe fixed 34 bugs in their Flash Player software. Many of the bugs enabled a computer to get infected with malicious software simply by viewing a web page. This most recent round of bug fixes comes 28 days after Adobe fixed two other Flash bugs, and 34 days after they fixed 36 bugs. Putting this in perspective, the Flash Player has been updated a dozen times so far this year (below). If you are reading this on August 18th, the odds are that Adobe has found, and not yet fixed, 5 new bugs in the Flash Player. Reading this on August 25th? Chances are you are vulnerable to 10 new Flash bugs. Five bugs a week.

Volkswagen Spent Years Hiding This Huge Security Flaw – First we had a report from a U.S. Senator on the security risks facing new car owners, and then the news that Fiat had recalled 1.4 million cars to address security flaws. And this week a paper is being presented at the USENIX security conference in Washington, D.C., on a security flaw affecting “thousands of cars from a host of manufacturers,” according to a Bloomberg News report. We could have known about these risks for some time, as the paper was actually written two years ago, but car makers like Volkswagen fought in court to keep the information private. According to Bloomberg:

10 Do’s and don’ts for every Android user – There are a lot of choices when it comes to making your Android phone all it can be, and a lot of nuance about which are the “best” choices to make. Everyone has an opinion about the best apps, home screen layouts, launchers, and so on. However, there are some enduring certainties that cannot be avoided. Here are ten “do’s” and “don’ts” for every Android user.

Three Windows 10 Start menu tweaks that subtly improve your experience – Wondering how to logout from the Start menu, improve the look and feel of the Start menu, taskbar, and action center, as well as get the Start screen back? Read on.

How to juggle multiple applications using Task View in Windows 10 – When it comes to managing multiple application windows, one of the most common tasks that you perform in the Windows operating system, Windows 10 really has it all! The new Task View virtual desktop feature makes it easy for you to spread out multiple applications. The enhanced Snap feature provides you with a great way to view and work with multiple applications on the same screen. The Shake and Peek feature, which was introduced in Windows 7 and still exist in Windows 10, allows you to zero in on a single application and quickly hide multiple applications respectively. Let’s take a closer look.

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10 cross-platform messaging apps you shouldn’t overlook – When choosing a messaging app, cloud-synchronized chat logs, contact lists, and settings are important considerations. Read about 10 cross-platform messaging apps worth checking out.

16 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed – Are you snap happy? Then you probably have Instagram on your phone. The supersocial photo-sharing app has 300 million monthly active users, but there’s a lot more to the service than just selecting a filter. Read on for 16 more tips and tricks for Instagram.

Microsoft Drops Another Windows 10 Update – And then there were three. Earlier this week, Microsoft released a new set of updates for Windows 10, the third time it has done so since the operating system formally debuted in late July. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s attempt to build a single operating system that can function on devices of any size, or input variety. As before, the update comes with minimal documentation and explanation.

Sick of Windows spying on you? Go Linux – You can try to turn Windows 10’s data-sharing ways off, but, bad news: Windows 10 will keep sharing some of your data with Microsoft anyway. There is an alternative: Desktop Linux. You can do a lot to keep Windows 10 from blabbing, but you can’t always stop it from talking. Cortana, Windows 10’s voice activated assistant, for example, will share some data with Microsoft, even when it’s disabled. That data includes a persistent computer ID to identify your PC to Microsoft.

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Linux Mint looks like classic Windows, but without any of Windows 10’s privacy leaks.

Why you can’t find your product key after upgrading to Windows 10 – With Windows 10, Microsoft is doing away with the conventional product key for digital installs. You may never have to manage product keys again. When you use the free upgrade to Windows 10 or pay for a digital retail version, you don’t get a product key. Instead, your computer uses what Microsoft calls a digital entitlement.

Report: 50 million devices now run Windows 10 – How well is Windows 10 doing? Microsoft hasn’t said anything yet about how many people are running the new OS, but if figures reported by WinBeta are correct, it’s off to a strong start. According to WinBeta’s sources, Windows 10 is now running on at least 50 million devices (PCs and tablets).

How to get the most out of your rechargeable batteries – Seven tips for getting the best possible life out of the Li-Ion rechargeable batteries inside your smartphone, tablet or notebook.

The 10 Best Wireless Speakers of 2015 – Wireless speakers have exploded in popularity, and nearly every major consumer electronics vendor has a cord-cutting model of some sort. Speakers can vary wildly in size, shape, and even the type of wireless connection they use, but this list will probably have at least one speaker that’s right for you. Before anything else, though, you need to decide how you want to go wireless.

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The 10 Best HDTVs of 2015 – The HDTV market has been changing a lot recently, both in terms of technology and price. New types of screens with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels and Ultra HD (UHD, or 4K) resolutions are popping up everywhere. Big, 50-plus-inch sets that once cost thousands of dollars can be had for around $500. If you want an HDTV, you have more options now than ever. But which one should you buy? Here are the main points to consider when shopping for a new set, as well as the 10 best HDTVs we’ve tested.

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iCloud.com now lets users restore deleted files – With no announcement whatsoever, Apple has just added a new feature to iCloud.com, the browser version of its cloud storage service, that has it rivaling Dropbox just a tad: the ability to restore recently deleted files. Unfortunately, the feature isn’t exactly easy to find, buried in the Advanced Settings menu, so most iCloud users may not even notice it exists. Should they find it though, they’ll be able to restore documents and other files, in addition to recently deleted contacts and calendar entries.

Microsoft sinks in antivirus tests, as Avira, Bitdefender hit top scores – The latest antivirus scores from the Madgeburg, Germany-based testing lab AV-Test ranks Windows Defender as the worst-performing anti-malware app out of the 22 most common consumer products tested. Breaking down that figure, the scores show the app protected against 89 percent of existing widespread malware threats, and 95 percent of new zero-day flaws. The app also scored a paltry score on performance, suggesting it hogs system resources, but scored top marks in user experience, indicating it is easy to use.

Security:

Zero-day flaw in Google Admin app allows malicious apps to read its files – An unpatched vulnerability in the Google Admin application for Android can allow rogue applications to steal credentials that could be used to access Google for Work acccounts. The flaw lies in the way Google Admin processes and loads URLs received from other applications inside a WebView—a simplified browser window.

Mozilla Makes Private Browsing More Private In Firefox, Adds Tracking Protection – Mozilla is testing a new private browsing mode in Firefox that doesn’t just keep no trace of your porn browsing habits on your machine but that also blocks online services that could track you while you’re surfing the web. That’s not unlike what plug-ins like Ghostery and the EFF’s Privacy Badger can do for you, but Firefox now combines that with its own incognito mode. This new experimental feature is now available in the Firefox Developer Edition for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as the Firefox Aurora channel on Android.

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Report claims Kaspersky faked malware to trip up competitors’ products – Two former employees of Kaspersky Lab have accused the malware protection software company of seeding competitors’ products with fake malware signatures intended to make them erroneously label benign files on customers’ computers as malicious. The allegations, made in a report published by Reuters Friday morning, have been strongly denied by a Kaspersky Lab spokesperson. According to Reuters, the “junk” files were tailored to have the same signature as legitimate files, based on the fingerprinting mechanisms of competitors’ products. To do this, the two former employees alleged, Kaspersky assigned employees to reverse-engineer competitors’ products to see how they identified malware and then tailored samples that would match the signatures of common, harmless files.

My browser visited Weather.com and all I got was this lousy malware – Millions of people visiting weather.com, drudgereport.com, wunderground.com, and other popular websites were exposed to attacks that can surreptitiously hijack their computers, thanks to maliciously manipulated ads that exploit vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and other browsing software, researchers said. The malvertising campaign worked by inserting malicious code into ads distributed by AdSpirit.de, a network that delivers ads to Drudge, Wunderground, and other third-party websites, according to a post published Thursday by researchers from security firm Malwarebytes. The ads, in turn, exploited security vulnerabilities in widely used browsers and browser plugins that install malware on end-user computers.

Parrot drones easily taken down or hijacked, researchers demonstrate – In two separate presentations at Def Con in Las Vegas last weekend, security experts demonstrated vulnerabilities in two consumer drones from Parrot. The simplest of the attacks could make Parrot drones, including the company’s Bebop model, fall from the sky with a keystroke. In a live demonstration at Def Con’s Internet of Things Village on August 8, Ryan Satterfield of the security consulting firm Planet Zuda demonstrated a takedown of a Parrot A.R.Drone by exploiting the drone’s built-in Wi-Fi and an open telnet port on the drone’s implementation of the  BusyBox real-time operating system. Connecting to the drone gave him root access to the controller, and he was able to kill the processes controlling flight—causing the drone to drop to the ground.

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Apple squashes serious security bug with update to Mac OS X – Released on Thursday, Mac OS X 10.10.5 resolves scores of holes and technical glitches. But one serious bug in particular was squashed along with the rest. The vulnerability in an environment variable known as DYLD_PRINT_TO_FILE in Apple’s OS X was considered serious because it enables hackers to remotely run a program on a Mac using administrator rights, which opens up wide access to the entire operating system. The vulnerability had already been exploited “in the wild,” or in the real world, according to the Guardian, with at least one adware installer taking advantage of it.

Scan your Android for Certifi-Gate vulnerability – This flaw, dubbed Certifi-Gate, was discovered by Check Point and revealed at Black Hat in Las Vegas. The flaw uses a remote support tool’s security certificate to take total control over an Android device. Unfortunately, the Android platform offers no means of revoking the certificates issued to the vulnerable apps. The only way Certifi-Gate can be fixed is for the makers of the remote support tools to issues patches. This means that you are at the mercy of a third-party, and not all third parties are created equal. But which apps are vulnerable? Here’s the official list from Check Point:

Company News:

News Corp. CEO calls Google thieves (and other things) – News Corp. CEO Robert Thompson isn’t moved by Google’s new Alphabet. As Australia’s mUmbrella reports, in a speech at the Lowy Institute Media Awards, Thompson created his own lexicon of what Google’s Alphabet stands for. He said: “That Google’s newly conceived parent company is to be called Alphabet has itself created a range of delicious permutations: A is for Avarice, B is for Bowdlerize, through to K for Kleptocracy, P for Piracy and Z for Zealotry.” Thompson believes that Google represents a leech on the hard work of those who try to create original content, only to have it purloined by Google’s caring, sharing, Web-controlling ways.

IBM Teams With Canonical To Put Ubuntu Linux On Mainframes – You might not think that ‘Linux’ and ‘mainframe’ belong in the same sentence, but IBM has been putting various flavors of Linux on its mainframe computers for 15 years. Today IBM and Canonical announced that the two companies were teaming up to build one running Ubuntu Linux. The new unit is called the LinuxOne. The announcement comes as part of a broader strategy from IBM designed to drive mainframe usage to a wider audience. This new approach includes a monthly subscription pricing model, deeper involvement with other open source projects, contributing a huge cache of mainframe code to open source and participating in the newly launched Open Mainframe Project.

Court denies Samsung request for rehearing in Apple patent case – A U.S. appeals court has denied Samsung Electronics’ request for a rehearing in a smartphone patent infringement case that awarded rival Apple US$548 million. The case stems from a 2011 patent infringement lawsuit brought by Apple, alleging Samsung infringed on several iPhone patents related to the design and packaging of the smartphone. Fellow tech giants Google, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Facebook backed Samsung’s appeal of the damages.

Apple’s self-driving car plans may have just been outed – Apple’s supposed self-driving electric car efforts may be real — and far enough along for testing, according to a new report from the Guardian. The publication, citing documents it obtained under a public records act request, said Apple has met with officials from the GoMentum Station, a large former Navy weapons station near San Francisco that is being changed into a high-security testing area for self-driving cars.

Court dismisses Dallas Buyers Club’s letters to infringers – The Federal Court has ruled that Dallas Buyers Club cannot send the draft letters presented to court to the almost 5,000 Australian IP addresses that have allegedly breached its copyright by downloading infringing copies of the film.

Games and Entertainment:

How to Unlock Higher-Quality Xbox Streaming in Windows 10 – I’ve been having fun with Windows 10; it’s a pretty easy operating system for Windows enthusiasts to comprehend. For gamers, there’s the added perk of being able to play Xbox One games on your PC, especially if your computer setup is better than your TV. These games aren’t played on your PC. Microsoft just streams whatever you’re doing on your Xbox One to your computer, and any controller inputs are sent back to your console.

The 15 most anticipated PC games of (the rest of) 2015 – It’s August, which means we’re technically two-thirds of the way through the year. But don’t tell that to video games. We’re about to enter the vaunted “fall release cycle,” which means in the next three or four months publishers will release more big-name games than they’ve released since January. Like last year, though, delays have pushed some of the year’s most-anticipated titles back to 2016. But all is not lost. We’ve rounded up fifteen of the most interesting PC games still scheduled to release this fall, from Fallout 4 to SOMA.

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Fallout 4 – Nov. 10

Unreal wants you to mod dinosaur world with the ARK Dev Kit – This week the folks at Studio Wildcard and Epic Games have teamed up with Alienware to encourage creative folks to go wild in dinosaur-land. In the world of ARK, that is, a video game where the ancient world and the modern world mix in an absolutely wild open world environment. To begin, users need to sign up for a free Unreal account and download the ARK Dev Kit – which is no small task due to its size. The ARK Dev Kit is a cool 42GB in size. It’s massive. But it’s worth the wait. Inside you’ll be rolling around in code, aiming to create one of the following: New Maps, New Functionality, New Game Modes.

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The Witcher 3 mod tools: What can we expect? – Ever since the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt back in May, a steady flow of mods have been trickling out for the PC version of the game. However, pretty soon modders will be getting new tools to help make content creation even easier via the introduction of official mod tools by CD Projekt Red. But what can we expect from these tools? I recently got the chance to talk to CD Projekt Red about what The Witcher 3’s mod tools can do and what their plans are for mods in the future.

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The 15 best Android puzzle games for teasing your brain – No mater if you’re into match-three games, word puzzlers, engrossing adventures, or tricky touch-centric affairs, we’ve picked 15 essential Android puzzle games worth tossing on your phone or tablet. Whether you’ve got two minutes or two hours to fill, you’ll find some excellent choices within.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Brilliant GPS navigation system changes to children’s voice near schools – We often drive unconsciously. Our minds drift as our hand-eye coordination pilots our cars automatically. Until, sometimes, it’s too late. So a Scandinavian insurance company — the confidently named If Insurance — came up with an idea that seems blissfully simple, yet potentially very effective. It’s a GPS navigation system with a tiny difference. Whenever you’re driving near schools, day care centers or anywhere where there might be children, the system’s voice switches to that of a child.

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Why Google Became Alphabet, Explained In 120 Seconds – What are the pros and cons of Google reorganizing itself as Alphabet? Well, Larry gets to play with the future, Google can focus on more ambitious projects, and it could help the company retain top talent. But will the independent Alphabet company CEOs get frustrated relying on Larry for resources? Here’s everything you need to know in a quick two minute video.

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How to Get Started With a Fitness Tracker – If you just got your first activity tracker, whether a Fitbit or some other device, you’re about to become aware of your body and fitness level in a whole new light! Fitness trackers bring an awareness to our daily habits and patterns that few other devices can. As a huge proponent of fitness trackers, I personally test and try out as many of them as I can. I remember how it felt to get my first one, and how annoyed I was when I realized after several hours that I hadn’t set it up right! I also know that there are some aspects of fitness trackers you should learn about as soon as possible, because you need to use them for several days before they tell you anything meaningful.

The smartphone battleground of India — and why Xiaomi wants in – India is the world’s fastest growing smartphone market, predicted to overtake the US in just two years. And it’s already becoming one of the most bitterly fought-over pieces of turf in the global smartphone war.

Nerf’s new ‘Rival’ tactical guns are for grown ups, fire at 70MPH – Nerf guns are fun for a moment or two, but the combination of endless dart hunting and lackluster shooting speed/accuracy wears thin quickly. As such, the play rifles have largely been relegated to the realm of children, but that’ll be ending with the maker’s new ‘Rival’ lineup of tactical guns for competitive play. Nerf has been silently working on these new tactical arms for more than four years, and this week graced us all with a behind-the-scenes look at what went into making them. Pre-orders are live, but you’re probably too late: most of them are sold out already.

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Watch as astronauts soar over an Aurora Borealis in the space station – This isn’t your run-of-the-mill snapshot of the Northern Lights. The ten-second clip catches the spectacular moment right as the vibrant greens and violet swirls of light meet the blinding white of the sunrise. The scene, however brief, is otherworldly and reminiscent of fantastic sci-fi visages from the arts. It looks like something out of a Mass Effect cutscene or the psychedelic trip to “The Infinite and Beyond” in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Except this is no piece of fiction: this is real life, and it’s right here near Earth.

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10 ways your phone has embarrassed you in public – Sometimes your smartphone is a life-saver – like when it helps you avoid super awkward situations. But other times it’s not so awesome—like when it rings in the middle of your grandfather’s funeral service, or when your obsession with it causes you to fall into a fountain while texting: Here are 10 times your phone is not on your side. And in public, no less!

Something to think about:

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

–     Mae West

Downloads:

Kingsoft Writer Free 2013 – Kingsoft Writer Free 2013 is a totally free word processor program with the qualities matching Microsoft Word and includes a wide range of easy to use features. It is the best Microsoft Word replacement supporting all the Word file formats including .docx. The easy to use user interface makes Kingsoft Writer an attractive choice of software for complete beginners and even the most advanced users. In addition, it introduced lots of useful functions including a built-in Word to PDF converter, automatic spell check, web layout view, etc.

As a free word processor, Kingsoft Writer is more powerful compared with any other similar software, regardless of interface, operation, or storage format. With Kingsoft Writer, it is easy to create visually stunning documents and manage your files. Using the default format already defined, users can save the editor time from having format each document.

The latest version supports saving file as DOCX format.

Pointing up      I’ve used this free application for years. In fact, this is the application that I used to initially set up the web page you are now reading. The screen capture below is an example of my everyday usage of this super freebie.

WPS Office Free 2014 (which includes Kingsoft Writer Free), is also available.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Leaked NSA documents show AT&T had a ‘highly collaborative’ relationship with spy agency – New documents released by Edward Snowden reveal AT&T was far more than just a willing participant in the National Security Agency’s efforts to snoop on the world’s internet usage. NSA documents say that the agency had a “highly collaborative” relationship with AT&T, and the company is described as having an “extreme willingness to help.”

The new details come from a joint report from The New York Times and ProPublica. The key takeaway is that it appears AT&T was happy to help the NSA. It’s already been documented that the telecom giant, like other service providers, did not try to protect its customers’ privacy or make efforts to restrict the NSA’s reach. But it now seems clear that AT&T went out of its way to accommodate the NSA.

According to the joint report, AT&T installed surveillance equipment — at the NSA’s request — in no fewer than 17 internet hubs across the US. To put that in perspective, it’s said that Verizon, the other major telecom in the US, installed “far fewer” systems at its hubs. The NSA’s payments to AT&T for its cooperation — which were previously revealed to be $10 million in 2013 — are reportedly more than double what the agency paid for the second largest program. It’s likely Verizon was the recipient of the second-largest payments.

In addition, the documents reveal that AT&T provided the NSA with emails sent between foreigners years before Verizon started the practice.

The end of privacy as we know it: 60 Minutes uncovers huge mobile phone security vulnerabilities  – IT’S the dirty little secret that’s facilitating what’s being called the biggest breach of privacy ever.

Government, security agencies and the telecommunications industry will be forced to explain a security hole that allows hackers to listen in to conversations and hijack Australians’ mobile phones after it’s exposed by a 60 Minutes investigation, the program claims.

In an investigation into mobile security spanning three continents, reporter Ross Coulthart believes he has uncovered a security vulnerability that could affect any of us, and there’s nothing being done to stop it.

“What it means is that your smartphone is an open book,” he told news.com.au

“Criminals now have access to these huge security holes to steal your data and listen in to your calls. We know telephone companies know about it, we know security agencies know about it, but nothing is being done.” (recommended by Mal C.)

Harper (and friends – Tony Abbott and David Cameron) are a bigger threat than IS – Conservatives PMs Stephen Harper, Tony Abbott and David Cameron parrot the same message — selling fear to win votes.

The comedian Peter Sellers acting in the role of Inspector Clouseau has always been one of my investigative heroes. So, using Clouseau-like sleuthing skills, I think I have finally figured out what Stephen Harper must have meant in the recent Canadian election debate when he warned of an “international movement” presenting “a very serious menace to this planet, including to this country.”

I respectfully submit the following as evidence:

With the next three statements, made in recent days by separate individuals in three different countries, I ask you this question: What is the common thread?

“It would be absolutely foolish for us not to go after this group before they come after us.”

“This is the threat of our generation, the battle of our generation and the fight that we’re going to have.”

“They’re coming after us. We may not feel we are at war with them, but they are certainly at war with us.”

(Drum roll, please …)

And the answer is … conservative prime ministers!

These were words uttered recently by 1) Stephen Harper, Canada; 2) David Cameron, United Kingdom; and 3) Tony Abbott, Australia.

Their similarities are revealing. What links these three leaders, apart from their common ideology, is a remarkably identical — and extreme — approach to the challenges of today’s Middle East. In fact, there are growing signs that these politicians, all comrades in arms, are quietly working from the same playbook.

After all, the formula is simple: Wildly exaggerate the actual threat. Inflame the rhetoric. Blame Muslims. Brush aside issues of human rights. And strap in — while the votes flow your way. It is a clever way to distract voters from more immediate and genuine threats, such as climate change and the economy.

In my view, if this doesn’t fit the criteria of an “international movement” posing “a very serious menace to this planet,” I don’t know what does.

New York Times: The Closing of the Canadian Mind – THE prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, has called an election for Oct. 19, but he doesn’t want anyone to talk about it.

He has chosen not to participate in the traditional series of debates on national television, confronting his opponents in quieter, less public venues, like the scholarly Munk Debates and CPAC, Canada’s equivalent of CSPAN. His own campaign events were subject to gag orders until a public outcry forced him to rescind the forced silence of his supporters.

Mr. Harper’s campaign for re-election has so far been utterly consistent with the personality trait that has defined his tenure as prime minister: his peculiar hatred for sharing information.

Americans have traditionally looked to Canada as a liberal haven, with gun control, universal health care and good public education.

But the nine and half years of Mr. Harper’s tenure have seen the slow-motion erosion of that reputation for open, responsible government. His stance has been a know-nothing conservatism, applied broadly and effectively. He has consistently limited the capacity of the public to understand what its government is doing, cloaking himself and his Conservative Party in an entitled secrecy, and the country in ignorance.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is worried net neutrality might help the terrorists – In a remarkable feat, internet providers have apparently succeeded in making the net neutrality fight about terrorism. In a newly-published letter delivered to the Federal Communications Commission in May, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) raised concerns that the new net neutrality rules might be used to shield terrorists. In particular, Feinstein was concerned that Dzhokar Tsarnaev had studied bomb-making materials on the internet — specifically, online copies of AQAP’s Inspire magazine — and that many broadband providers had complained to her that net neutrality rules would prevent them from honoring any orders to block that content.

It’s quite a bind, and in the letter, Feinstein entreats FCC chair Tom Wheeler to assure providers that it isn’t true. The senator acknowledges that there are laws against material support for terrorism, and Title II only applies to legal web traffic, but “nonetheless, there is apparently confusion among at least some broadband providers on whether they may take such actions in order to promote national security and law enforcement purposes.”

This argument is nonsense for at least three different reasons.

Will Supreme Court force DHS to divulge secret plan to cut cell service? – The Supreme Court was asked in a petition to force the government to disclose the US clandestine plan to disable cell service during emergencies.

The case concerns Standard Operating Procedure 303. A federal appeals court in May said the government did not have to release its full contents because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the authorities to withhold records if they would “endanger” public safety.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center told the high court’s justices Tuesday that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision created a new “catchall provision that can be used in any case involving records related to domestic and national security programs.” (PDF)

The privacy group had demanded the documents from the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 following the shuttering of cell service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system to quell a protest. The Department of Homeland Security refused to divulge the documents associated with SOP 303, which the appeals court described as a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”

Woman fined for Facebook pic of police car in disabled spot – In the US, citizens have begun to film the police with abandon.

In turn, the police have started to wear bodycams in order to capture what they see.

In Spain, however, a new gagging law has been enacted. It’s titled the Citizens Security Law.

When laws are named this way, you get the feeling that citizens’ security might not be their primary aim.

This law limits what people can post on social networks about, for example protests. It also prevents “the unauthorized use of images of police officers that might jeopardize their or their family’s safety or that of protected facilities or police operations.”

Oddly, this law has just been used to fine a woman who took a photograph of a police car. This particular car was parked (illegally) in a disabled spot.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – August 14, 2015

Even when told not to, Windows 10 just can’t stop talking to Microsoft;  Viral video shows how easily predators lure kids on social media;  You Can Now Run Windows 10 On Your Mac;  Classic Shell and Start10 banish Windows 10 Live Tiles, bring back Windows 7 look;  5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer;  Five easy-to-use apps for comparison shopping;  Amazon Appstore gives away 39 paid apps, including Goat Simulator and Sonic the Hedgehog 2;  Twitter lifts 140 character limit on direct messages;  4 ways to make Evernote smarter and safer;  Lenovo used shady ‘rootkit’ tactic to quietly reinstall unwanted software;  YouTube Live Broadcast revealed: watch out Periscope;  Have an iPhone? Mac? Just about anything else Apple flogs? Patch now;  All the movies you can watch online for free in August;  Fallout 4: New perks, new shooting, and a very familiar feel;  Turn Your TV Into A Huge Smart Touch Display With The $99 Touchjet WAVE;  Microsoft quietly rewrites its activation rules for Windows 10;  The 15 Scariest Things at Black Hat 2015.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Viral video shows how easily predators lure kids on social media – Think your daughter would never get inside a car with a stranger or open the door of your home to someone she just met on Facebook? Think again. YouTuber Coby Persin — a self-described 21-year-old “prankster who looks like Zac Efron” — decided to put those questions to the test with the help of three families, and record the results on video. He created a fake Facebook profile for one 15-year-old “Jason Biazzo” and then, with the parents’ permission, contacted the three unsuspecting teenage girls to see how far they would go to meet their new online contact. Persin’s video is far from a prank, he insists, and his findings are extremely scary. The video, called The Dangers of Social Media (Child Predator Social Experiment), is also attracting attention, garnering more than 17 million views since being uploaded on August 10.

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Even when told not to, Windows 10 just can’t stop talking to Microsoft – Windows 10 uses the Internet a lot to support many of its features. The operating system also sports numerous knobs to twiddle that are supposed to disable most of these features and the potentially privacy-compromising connections that go with them. Unfortunately for privacy advocates, these controls don’t appear to be sufficient to completely prevent the operating system from going online and communicating with Microsoft’s servers.

Microsoft quietly rewrites its activation rules for Windows 10 – With Windows 10, Microsoft has rewritten the rules for how it performs product activation on retail upgrades of Windows, including the free upgrades available for a year beginning on July 29, 2015. The net result is that clean installs will be much easier–but only after you get past the first one. The biggest change of all is that the Windows 10 activation status for a device is stored online. After you successfully activate Windows 10 for the first time, that device will activate automatically in the future, with no product key required. That’s a huge change from previous versions of Windows, which required a product key for every installation. And it’s potentially an unwelcome surprise for anyone who tries to do a clean install of Windows 10 without understanding the new activation landscape.

Classic Shell and Start10 banish Windows 10 Live Tiles, bring back Windows 7 look – While the Windows 10 Start menu brings back some elements from Windows 7, it’s not exactly the same as it used to be. Here are two ways to make the menu more familiar.

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Default Windows 10 Start menu on the left, Start10 on the right.

You Can Now Run Windows 10 On Your Mac – Thanks to the new Boot Camp 6 update, you can now run Windows 10 on your Mac. Boot Camp, a program that allows users of Intel-based Macintosh computers to run the Microsoft Windows XP operating system, was revealed to be updated in a new support document on Apple’s website.

5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer – There’s a lot of power contained within that little glass rectangle you carry around all day. We’ve got eight-core CPUs, multiple gigabytes of RAM, and batteries with thousands of milliampere-hours of capacity, but sometimes the experience doesn’t live up to the hardware’s potential. Things go wrong, settings get screwed up, and apps get greedy for resources. This can render a phone sluggish and kill the battery. That’s certainly a problem, but don’t worry, we can fix it in a few simple steps.

Nextbook 10.1 Windows 2-in-1 for $179 at Walmart – Those looking for a budget-friendly Windows hybrid should check out this one at the local Walmart. An inexpensive Windows 2-in-1 — a laptop that can be also used as a tablet — can be the ideal purchase for the kids. It can also be a good way to get familiar with the latest version of Windows without losing the familiar version on the main PC. Walmart has such a laptop for just $179. The Nextbook 10.1 doesn’t have powerful hardware inside but the specifications aren’t bad for the price. It features a quad-core Intel Atom processor, 1GB of memory, 32GB of storage, and a 10.1-inch display (1280 x 800). It has a claimed battery life of 10 hours, which is quite good for this price range.

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Five easy-to-use apps for comparison shopping – We all shop. There’s no way around it. Sometimes we shop to fill our personal needs and sometimes we shop to take care of our businesses. No matter the reason, you want to shop responsibly and save as much money as you can. Let’s take a look at five great apps that can streamline your shopping chores and help you save money.

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Amazon Appstore gives away 39 paid apps, including Goat Simulator and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – The best kind of back-to-school shopping is the free kind. Amazon has obliged with another fire sale in its Appstore for Android. You know the drill: be sure you’ve installed the Amazon Appstore app on your device, and then head there or to the web portal for the latest freebies. There are some neat titles here, like Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Goat Simulator, and tower defense game Bloons TD 5. The sale is good through August 15, so don’t dally. Here’s the full list, with a link to grab it directly from Amazon:

4 ways to make Evernote smarter and safer – Even if you’ve been regularly using Evernote to capture your notes and ideas, you’ve probably only scratched the surface of what it can do. Here are some features and tricks that can help you take your Evernote expertise to the next level.

Twitter lifts 140 character limit on direct messages, further enhancing DM functionality – There are plenty of services available that allow you to carry out private conversations across platforms. With today’s announcement, Twitter makes it easier to serve as your messaging service. Previously, direct messages were limited to the same 140 character limit as a public Tweet. Starting today, that limit has been lifted to 10,000 characters for direct messages. This should provide more than enough capacity for even the chattiest person.

Google launches “Android Experiments” for your phone, watch, and tablet – This morning Google launched (officially, this time) Android Experiments, a collection of apps for Android smartphones and tablets. Google suggests that these “experiments” celebrate creativity and code on Android – and they’ve got the hand-picked collection credentials to prove it. Every app in the Android Experiments gallery has been chosen by Google specifically because they embody the aim of this project. Google wants developers to “push the limits of what’s possible on phones, tablets, watches, and beyond.”

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Yahoo’s Audio-Free Video Messaging App Livetext Is Now Available Worldwide – If you were intrigued by Livetext, the audio-free video messaging app launched by Yahoo last month, but don’t live in the U.S. or the handful of test markets where it was available, then we have news for you. The app is now live worldwide, which means anyone with an iOS and Android device can get hold of it.

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Periscope Has 10M Registered Users Watching 40 Years Of Video Per Day – Periscope may have just hit the impressive milestone of 10 million registered users after just four months, but what it wants you to focus on is the sheer volume of video content that its users are streaming: nearly 40 years of watch time every day from its iOS and Android apps. The lifetime of content, which amounts to just over 350,000 hours of video streamed per day, doesn’t even include the videos viewed through browsers on periscope.tv, as the service is still looking to track Time Watched on that medium more precisely.

YouTube Live Broadcast revealed: watch out Periscope – If Periscope and Meerkat are to be believed, live-streaming video from your point of view is the new big thing, and so YouTube is getting in on the deal. YouTube Live Broadcast, revealed today as a feature on the new Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+, turns the smartphone camera into a live-streaming platform. That video can be shared privately with just a few contacts, or alternatively beamed out publicly to anybody with access to your YouTube channel.

Turn your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick into a Chromecast (almost) with this $8 app – Google’s Chromecast dongle is the best way to send video from a phone, tablet, or PC to your television, but its lack of a proper remote and TV interface can be a sticking point. But if you have an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, a new app could give you the best of both worlds. It’s called YouMap Cast Receiver, it costs just $8, and it duplicates much of Chromecast’s functionality, including tab mirroring in Chrome and sending video from Cast-supported apps. I’ve tried it, and it works fairly well with a few caveats.

Security:

Lenovo used shady ‘rootkit’ tactic to quietly reinstall unwanted software – Even when users reinstalled a clean version of Windows on some Lenovo devices, the software would still reappear.

Android security on the ropes with one-two punch from researchers – Android security woes got worse on Thursday, with two separate reports of code defects that put millions of end users at risk. The first involves the update Google released last week fixing a flaw that allowed attackers to execute malicious code on an estimated 950 million phones with nothing more than a maliciously crafted text message. Seven days later, security researchers are reporting that the patch, which has been in Google’s possession since April, is so flawed that attackers can exploit the vulnerability anyway.

Have an iPhone? Mac? Just about anything else Apple flogs? Patch now – Apple has issued a huge wad of updates to address dozens of CVE-listed security vulnerabilities in iOS, OS X Yosemite, Safari, and OS X Server. The update includes fixes for security flaws that an attacker could exploit to remotely execute code on one’s shiny belongings. For newer iOS devices, Apple is putting out the iOS 8.4.1 software update. The patch applies to iPhone 4S and later, iPod Touch 5th generation and later, and iPad 2 and later. Among the fixes are patches for four code-signing vulnerabilities in iOS discovered and used by the TaiG Jailbreak Team, a hacking team famous for discovering ways to unlock iOS devices via security exploits. Those flaws would allow unsigned (and potentially unsafe) code to run on iOS hardware.

Microsoft Just Fixed Windows 10’s First Problems – In its monthly round of security fixes, Microsoft has included five bulletins that address Windows 10 issues, and one that covers the new Edge browser included in their newly-launched operating system. These patches include addressing vulnerabilities in the .NET framework that could allow for elevation of privilege (meaning a hacker could potentially make changes only a user with admin rights could make), vulnerabilities in a Microsoft graphics component that could allow remote code execution, and fixing an information disclosure vulnerability.

‘Cyberflashing’ incident ushers in new era of perverts – The modern world is full of funny new terms that speak of situations facilitated by the gadgets we carry around with us. The new word buzzing around is ‘cyberflashing’, and some are saying the first of such incidents has taken place via a lone pervert using AirDrop. Reportedly, the suspect used Apple’s AirDrop to send unsolicited indecent pictures (it is unclear whether they were images of the suspect) to a passenger on a train in London. Police say they have investigated the matter.

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Cisco warns customers about attacks installing rogue firmware on networking gear – Installing rogue firmware on embedded devices has long been a concern for security researchers, and it seems that such attacks have started to gain ground with hackers. In an advisory Tuesday, Cisco Systems warned customers that it is aware of a limited number of cases where attackers have replaced the boot firmware on devices running its IOS operating system. IOS runs on most Cisco routers and switches and provides a complex set of networking tools and features. Attackers used valid administrative credentials in order to replace the ROMMON image on IOS devices, Cisco said.

This card skimmer is so slim it was hidden inside the card slot – You might be able to avoid some card skimmers by checking an ATM for obvious signs of tampering before using it. This one, however, you’d never even notice. It was hiding right inside the machine’s card slot. Experts actually have a special name for this thing — it’s called a shimmer because of its incredibly slim profile. It’s specifically designed for use in ATMs that feature a chip reader, and all a criminal has to do is slide it in through the card slot like he or she was inserting a card to make a withdrawal.

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Researchers reveal electronic car lock hack after 2-year injunction by Volkswagen – In 2012, researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands discovered a security flaw in a common automotive security chip used in theft prevention by Volkswagen, Audi, Fiat, Honda, and Volvo vehicles. But after they disclosed their results to the auto manufacturers—a full nine months before they planned to publish them—the automakers sued to keep them quiet. Today, that suppressed paper is finally being presented at the USENIX security conference in Washington, DC. Entitled “Dismantling Megamos Crypto: Wirelessly Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobilizer,” the paper details how researchers Roel Verdult, Flavio Garcia, and Baris Ege uncovered weaknesses in the cryptography and authentication protocol used in the Megamos RFID transponder used in car immobilizers used in many luxury vehicles. The list of impacted cars includes vehicles from Volkswagen’s Porsche, Audi, Bentley, and Lamborghini brands.

Lax IoT security: Smart TVs and wearables are paving the way for massive privacy breaches – However secure a connected device is when consumers buy it, there’s little guarantee of its safety in the long haul, which is one of the reasons why internet-of-things vendors are being told they need industry guidelines.

Company News:

Lenovo pre-tax income drops 80 percent with 3,200 jobs to go – Despite an increase in its first-quarter revenue, Chinese computing giant Lenovo has seen a significant drop in its profit, and in response will be restructuring its business. For the quarter, revenue improved by 3 percent, to come in at $10.7 billion, but pre-tax income fell 80 percent year on year to be reported at $52 million, with operating profit taking a 67 percent year-on-year cut to $96 million. The company said its numbers were a result of “severe challenges” as it saw significant declines in PC and tablet sales across the world, and faced a slower growth and increased competition in China.

Tinder follows Twitter meltdown with new CEO – This week Tinder was in the news for its epic meltdown, which took place on Twitter in tweet form following a piece about the company in Vanity Fair. The company has left that news behind, though, admitting that it shouldn’t have happened and then quickly shifting focus: the company has given CEO Chris Payne the boot, and will be replacing him with former CEO and co-founder Sean Rad. The reason is said to revolve around Payne not being a good fit for the company, something Payne is said to agree with. As a result, Payne will be leaving and Rad, who stepped down from his position several months ago, will be resuming his former role.

Apple subscription TV service said to face further delay – Web-based TV service won’t debut until at least next year because of a lack of progress in licensing programming, Bloomberg reports.

HTC to cut work force by 15 percent, amid struggling smartphone sales – Struggling HTC is cutting 15 percent of its work force in an attempt to cut costs and revive its ailing smartphone business. The Taiwanese company announced the lay offs on Thursday, after its second quarter earnings took a dive, for a NT$8 billion (US$257 million) loss. HTC declined to mention the exact number of layoffs. But as of March 31, the company had 15,685 employees, according to its most recent annual report. This means a 15 percent reduction could end up cutting 2,300 jobs.

Google gets more time to answer EU charge of abusing search dominance – The European Commission grants the technology giant another two weeks to respond to allegations of using its dominance in search to advance its own services and harm rivals. The EC antitrust investigation began in 2010, and is considering whether Google took advantage of its dominant position in the search market by promoting its own products, such as shopping search, above those of competitors.

Games and Entertainment:

Fallout 4: New perks, new shooting, and a very familiar feel – The more popular a franchise gets, the less room there is to take creative risks and rock the boat. Such is the curse of success. From what I’ve seen Fallout 4 is an apt demonstration of this idea. Its approach is one of enhancing past successes rather than exploring new directions. Perks, shooting, levelling up, and exploration have all been boosted in some way, but only within the predefined boundaries that the audience already understands. This direction is not necessarily good or bad—it all comes down to how much you value iteration over innovation, and of course, how entertaining the thing is in the first place.

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Hateful Eight trailer released: watch Tarantino’s next epic – Up front of this next trailer is Samuel L Jackson, set to light up The Hateful Eight the right way. Eight Strangers. One Deadly Connection. And one of them fellas is not what he says he is. And you’re going to be able to see this film in “glorious” 70mm, Ultra Panavision 70, just like Quentin Tarantino wanted you to. Just so long as the theater you’re going to has the capability of showing you that the way he wanted.

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All the movies you can watch online for free in August – You look like someone who needs to watch many movies about leprechauns who terrorize humans. You’re in luck! Six “Leprechaun” movies arrived on Crackle just for the month of August. In case you are not a leprechaun-phile, some great titles are arriving include “Jerry Maguire,” “District 9,” “Legend of Zorro,” and perhaps the best horror-comedy of all time, “Shaun of the Dead.” Check out the full list below:

Windows 10’s secret Xbox setting makes game streaming look way better – Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 PCs is one of the best features of the new operating system. While Microsoft has a variety of settings that will suit a home network bandwidth, there’s a secret one hidden away that unlocks the full potential of Xbox One streaming. Reddit users have uncovered a way to unlock a “very high quality” setting that streams games with better quality. I’ve tested the setting and there’s a noticeable difference in quality from the regular high quality setting. Games look less blurred and sharper, but the required bandwidth naturally increases.

PlayStation 4 still on top in July, says NPD – Microsoft may have wowed the crowd at Gamescom early this month, and may even have won hearts, but Sony is still winning wallets, at least in July and for now. Market research firm NPD has just given their report on the console gaming market in the US for the past month and Sony is only too happy to share it. That’s because, despite not having new games for the season, both in general and for Sony specifically, the PlayStation 4 still ranked as the top console and its games the top software for July.

Sesame Street gets “exclusive” with HBO – Sesame Street is about to break standards for television shows that’ve been on for 45 seasons. Not that a lot of shows have been on for that long, of course. But here the Sesame Street show is prepared not to go off and fade away, but to grow. Signing a deal with HBO, Sesame Workshop has promised five seasons to HBO with “almost twice as much new content as previous seasons.” This content will be “exclusive” to HBO for nine months after each episode is aired, after which PBS will be allowed to show reruns for free.

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This game will shut itself down when enough players have died – The first-person, multiplayer thriller takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of the year 3000, one where players compete for a mysterious object known as the “light artifact.” As you battle you can, like in most games, die. But each death brings The Flock closer to its ultimate conclusion. Dutch studio Vogelsap has set a counter, and once the in-game death toll reaches 215,358,979, new players won’t be able to purchase the game, and the story for those who are playing will move into the final phase.

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Here Are The Drugs You Can’t Use in Professional Gaming – The Electronic Sports League (ESL) on Wednesday revealed the full list of drugs it will ban for gaming competitions. “As the world’s largest and oldest esports organization, ESL has an ongoing commitment to safeguarding both the integrity of our competitions and that of esports as a whole—we wish to ensure we can provide a fair playing field for all participating players,” Ella McConnell, senior editor of ESLGaming, wrote in a statement. ESL is working with the World Anti-Doping Agency to choose which drugs are prohibited. The current list includes everything from cocaine to steroids to ADHD medication Adderall. Those with legitimate medical reasons for taking Adderall will need proof from a physician.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Eagle joins kangaroo, hawk in sky battle against drones – Most drones are equipped with cameras, and those cameras are excellent at capturing the assaults against the drone and its death spiral out of the sky. Nature itself hasn’t taken kindly to drones on more than one occasion — we’ve seen one drone get taken down by an apparently annoyed kangaroo after a drone wouldn’t stop being nosy, and we’ve seen a hawk swoop down and take a drone out of the sky. The latest video to surface is similar, but this time involves an eagle that decides to engage in a brief sky battle.

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Turn Your TV Into A Huge Smart Touch Display With The $99 Touchjet WAVE – Innovations on the good ol’ family television have moved from 3D to 4K to curved panel over the years. But what all of those evolutions have shared are a heightened price tag for a whole new device. An Indiegogo campaign that launched yesterday is hoping to bring some crazy new functionality to your existing TV by way of a $99 device that adds touch controls and other smart features to your TV. The Touchjet WAVE allows you to control your television with your finger, a stylus or your smartphone, while also letting you download a host of apps directly to your TV.

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ISS pictures are being used to map global light pollution – A project called Cities at Night is using photographs taken by astronauts from the International Space Station to map nightly light pollution in cities across the world. The project started last summer, and requires the mapping of more than 130,000 high-resolution photographs using geo-centric details. This project is looking at the amount of light produced by cities across the entire globe, including the smaller sources of scattered light in addition to the bigger, more obvious points of light pollution.

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11 Jaw-Dropping Miniature Movie Sets – In the good old pre-digital days, if filmmakers wanted to shoot a scene in a fantastic environment they had to get their hands dirty and build it. Good set design could go a long way, but for wide shots a very specific art form was born: the art of the miniature. In this feature, we’ll spotlight 11 awesome movies that featured incredible miniature sets. We’ll also delve into how they were constructed and even what happened to them once filming was over.

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Escape From New York

Zero Latency: The VR revolution begins in Melbourne, Australia – Once confined to realm of science-fiction movies like Walt Disney’s “Tron,” virtual reality has grown into a real-world industry worth an estimated $7 billion. But since the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset appeared on Kickstarter in 2012 and reignited passions for VR, the big question has been when these prototypes and concepts will launch for public consumption. And when we reach commercial launch, will the experience live up to the hype? Zero Latency is one of the first ventures that will put mainstream viability to the test.

The 15 Scariest Things at Black Hat 2015 – Three PCMag analysts attended Black Hat this year, and made it back alive. They brought with them terrifying tales, but also good advice, and the hope that our digital lives can be made safer and more robust through better security. Check out the slideshow to see what made them come back from Vegas wearing tinfoil hats.

Something to think about:

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

–     Henry David Thoreau

Downloads:

SpeedFan – SpeedFan is a program that monitors voltages, fan speeds and temperatures in computers with hardware monitor chips. SpeedFan can even access S.M.A.R.T. info and show hard disk temperatures. SpeedFan supports SCSI disks too. SpeedFan can even change the FSB on some hardware (but this should be considered a bonus feature). SpeedFan can access digital temperature sensors and can change fan speeds accordingly, thus reducing noise. SpeedFan works fine with Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, 2003, XP, Vista, Windows 7, 2008, Windows 8, Windows 10 and Windows Server 2012. It works with Windows 64 bit too.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Twitter sees its largest increase from governments wanting account information – Governmental bodies around the world have an appetite for Twitter account information and are wanting more than ever, with the social network reporting its largest increase in requests for account information in the history of its transparency report.

Twitter said it had experienced a 52 percent increase in requests for account information, and over the six months to the end of June had handled 4,363 requests and produced information in 58 percent of cases. The company said the number of accounts affected by information requests had jumped by 78 percent, to 12,711.

The United States made the highest number of requests, with 2,436 requests impacting 6,324 accounts and an 80 percent success rate, followed by Japan, with 425 requests on 529 accounts and information coughed up 42 percent of the time. Japan overtook previous second-highest requester Turkey, which is now the third-highest, having made 412 requests impacting 670 accounts, all of which were unsuccessful.

Turkey was far and away the country that made the highest number of content removal requests, making 92 percent of the 442 requests Twitter received globally from courts, and 55 percent of all content takedown requests made by government bodies such as police forces. In Turkey from January to June, Twitter withheld 1,667 tweets from 125 accounts.

Reddit Responds After Being Threatened, Banned And Unbanned By The Russian Government – Reddit has had a pretty bizarre last few days in Russia. The entire site was blacklisted and banned yesterday for a number of users in Russia following a clear threat made by Russia’s FCC, the Roskomnadzor, to remove a thread about growing psychedelic mushrooms that had been posted on the site.

Roskomnadzor’s post on Vkontakte (basically the Russian Facebook) read:

Those who have contacts with the [Reddit] administration – ask them to check their email for messages from Roskomnadzor, otherwise… a number of operators may block the entire site.

Late yesterday, it was reported that the site had been blocked in its entirety for many users depending on their ISP, after being placed on a government blacklist. Yet, within hours the site was mysteriously unbanned, leading many users to question what was actually going on.

Canada’s democratic institutions are on trial – When I published Governing from the Centre: The Concentration of  Power in Canadian Politics in 1999, some political aides in Ottawa insisted that I had overstated the case. I hear no one making the argument today, and for good reason. One only needs to look at the pile of e-mails that were made public from the Mike Duffy trial this week to appreciate the extent to which governing from the centre now drives everything in Ottawa, from major policy decisions down to minor management issues, if the centre decides it needs to go there.

Staffers from the Prime Minister’s Office roamed the corridors of the Senate as if it were an extension of their office. Audit reports were regarded as little more than briefing notes to be carefully managed by the centre. What truly matters in government now is the ability to manage the “blame game,” and it seems that only those operating at the centre have the required political clout to dictate how it should be managed. If PMO staffers think that they are free to tell the Senate how it should go about its work, one can only imagine what it must be like for ministers, their staffs and senior public servants whose careers are tied directly to the wishes of the prime minister.

We have created a two-tier system of government in Ottawa, or an upstairs-downstairs to governing. More to the point, governing from the centre has created a fault line in the government where things that matter to the prime minister and his immediate advisers are brought above the line and dealt with quickly and effectively. Only the prime minister and his advisers will decide what belongs above the fault line. It can be anything from a decision to go to war while not consulting the relevant ministers – let alone the cabinet – down to a $90,000 problem considered sufficiently important to generate 450+ pages of e-mails. Under these circumstances, why would anyone other than a career politician want to run for Parliament?

Pointing up     The Harper government is a quasi-criminal government – history will recognize it as having been so.

DOJ calls for encryption balance that includes law enforcement needs – It’s possible for companies to design their encryption systems to allow law enforcement agencies to access customer data with court-ordered warrants while still offering solid security, U.S. Department of Justice officials said.

When DOJ and FBI officials raised recent concerns over end-to-end encryption on Android and iOS mobile phones, some security experts suggested it was difficult or unsafe to build in provider access to encrypted consumer data. But many companies already offer encryption while retaining some access to user information, two senior DOJ officials said Wednesday.

Many email service providers offer encryption but retain access to the content of users’ email to deliver advertising based on keywords in email text, to filter out spam or malware or to enforce terms of service, one DOJ official said on background during a press briefing. Many U.S. companies also encrypt employee mobile phones or laptops, while retaining the ability to access the content on those devices, he added.

Some of the same companies offering end-to-end encryption also retain access to customers’ email in other services, one DOJ official said.

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