The 10 biggest Edward Snowden leaks; Vodafone: Here’s how (and where) governments are spying on your calls; Perfect tablet typing: The best tips, apps and add-ons; Can your ISP read what you send over Facebook? Malicious advertisements on major websites lead to ransomware; A list of all the Google Now voice commands; Despite half a million complaints, Facebook app now listens in on your surroundings; Catch your mistakes with the help of these five proofreading apps; Encryption for your webmail; Microsoft to release seven security updates next week; 10 top smartphones: 5 for dads and 5 for grads; KeyScrambler (free); The Most Dangerous Website in America Is Also the Easiest to Use.
The 10 biggest Edward Snowden leaks – One year ago, on June 5, 2013, The Washington Post published the first of Edward Snowden’s leaks. Since then, many more revelations have come to light. Here are a look at 10 of the biggest.
Vodafone: Here’s how (and where) governments are spying on your calls – International mobile phone network operator Vodafone has revealed the scale of government surveillance of its customers across the world. The company has published a report covering the 29 countries where it does business, detailing the requests made by various governments for access to data about customer communications. That law enforcement and intelligence agencies request this data is hardly new. But Vodafone said the evolution of communications technology — and the desire of governments to tap into it — has created a tension between citizens’ right to privacy and the state’s need to ensure safety and security. Concerns about widespread surveillance and habitual data harvesting by intelligence agencies have triggered a debate about the scale and legitimacy of such monitoring.
Don’t Believe Sprint’s T-Mobile Merger Lies – Softbank’s chairman Masayoshi Son says that merging Sprint and T-Mobile will improve U.S. broadband access. It won’t. Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, who holds a 70 percent stake in Sprint, is the cheerful, helpful guy who’s appearing at Americans’ elbows promising to lead us to a land of better broadband if we’ll just kill a competitor for him. But he’s counting on us having a short memory, and little critical thinking.
GM app lets you scan a license plate, then text the driver – The prototype app, called DiDi Plate, uses an Android phone’s camera to scan the plate and send it to a cloud ID service. The driver who scanned the plate can then start texting the other driver. In a video demonstrating the product, a male driver uses DiDi Plate to scan and then message a woman driving in front of him. He asks her for a date, which she quickly accepts. In another scenario, a woman’s car is blocked in a parking lot, so she scans the plate of the car that boxed her in and tells the driver to move the vehicle.
Enough with all the apps in my car! say drivers – Drivers are tiring of automakers embedding apps into their cars, the main complaint being that they only want essential apps that work as well as the ones on their smartphones, according to new research. The research, presented by automotive market research firm SBD, was buttressed by the views of people in a focus group that was pulled together at the Telematics Detroit conference here this week.
A list of all the Google Now voice commands – You pick up your phone and say “OK Google”… and then what? Your phone is listening. The microphone icon is pulsing. What do you say to your phone? What can you say to it? Google Now’s voice function has become surprisingly robust over the years. Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands.
10 top smartphones: 5 for dads and 5 for grads – Smartphones make great gifts for tech-minded dads and students achieving their goals. Here are five handsets to consider for each group — including one device that makes an ideal choice for either dad or grad.
Perfect tablet typing: The best tips, apps and add-ons – Despite their popularity, tablets get knocked on productivity—largely because entering data on them is slow and cumbersome. But that doesn’t mean you have to boot up your laptop every time you need to type a lengthy document. From add-on keyboards to alternative on-screen keypads and general screen-typing tips, here’s a host of ways to speed up data entry on your iPad or Android tablet.
Catch your mistakes with the help of these five proofreading apps – Don’t let silly mistakes spoil the impact of your writing. These proofing tools will help you polish your work and eliminate errors.
The Most Dangerous Website in America Is Also the Easiest to Use – Designer Alexander Griffioen has created a weapon of mass delusion. His site, dubbed ShrtURL, lets users input any web address on the Internet and renders a version that can be customized with their own text and images. Thing is, the design, fonts and general style of the page remain identical. The site is making headlines because it was used to create this fake TechCrunch post claiming venture firm Andreesseen Horowitz is buying Y Combinator for $266 billion. The pages created at Shrturl last for 48 hours before expiring. The site has already been used for evil, as the screenshots below show. Use at your own peril.
Tinder takes a page from Snapchat, offering vanishing photos – Although the memory of a bad date can take a lot longer than 24 hours to truly fade, the dating app Tinder has decided that’s plenty of time for its users to share photos with their matches. The company introduced a new feature Thursday called “Moments,” which lets users share photos with their matches that disappear after 24 hours. Tinder is positioning the feature as a way to help people get a better sense of who their matches are, using a model that has proven popular with other apps like Snapchat. It’s available on iOS and Android.
Modio Lets Kids Make 3D Printable Monsters On Their iPads – I’ve seen a lot of design programs ostensibly marketed at kids, but none are as cool as Modio. Created by Hilmar Gunnarsson, an Icelandic entrepreneur, the system allows you to build Lego-like creatures that snap together and can be printed in multiple colors. Why is this so cool? Because each part sticks together like magic and you can change sizes, textures, and even colors on the fly
NASA performs a mind-meld with Angry Birds Space – Space agency partners with game-maker Rovio to sprinkle Beak Impact update with real space facts and information.
Canon opens Irista, a Dropbox for photos – Canon has its head in the cloud with Irista, a new online storage service for saving your photos. Irista — pronounced eye-RIST-ta, I’m reliably informed by a Canon spokesperson — takes on other cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud. Unlike those other services however, it only stores photos. There are no file-size limitations and Irista can automatically sync new snaps to image collections. You can tag photos and search by different criteria including the time or location when a photo was shot, or even the type of lens used.
Microsoft fights back, calls out China on its Windows 8 claims – Microsoft and China have had a stressful relationship recently as the two seem unable to see eye-to-eye over the Windows operating system. With China recently saying that Windows 8 should not be used there due to Microsoft’s connection with the US government, Microsoft is now fighting back and is using social media to combat these claims.
Behind US-China cyberspy tensions: The view from Beijing (Q&A) – American tech firms are caught in the cross-fire between China and the US over cyberespionage. International politics specialist Shen Yi says this storm isn’t likely to blow over soon.
Still reeling from Heartbleed, OpenSSL suffers from crypto bypass flaw – The underlying vulnerability, formally cataloged as CVE-2014-0224, resides in the ChangeCipherSpec processing, according to an overview published Thursday by Lepidum, the software developer that discovered the flaw and reported it privately to OpenSSL. It makes it possible for attackers who can monitor a connection between an end user and server to force weak cryptographic keys on client devices. Attackers can then exploit those keys to decrypt the traffic or even modify the data before sending it to its intended destination.
Encryption for your webmail – Those who want maximum privacy for their email have a tough time using difficult software. Google is attempting to do better with Gmail, but there’s already a decent webmail solution.
Malicious advertisements on major websites lead to ransomware – Malicious advertisements on domains belonging to Disney, Facebook, The Guardian newspaper and others are leading people to malware that encrypts a computer’s files until a ransom is paid, Cisco Systems has found.
Can your ISP read what you send over Facebook? – Your Internet service provider knows an awful lot about you. But when you’re on Facebook, your ISP is the least of your privacy worries.
They’re ba-ack: Browser-sniffing ghosts return to haunt Chrome, IE, Firefox: Privacy threat that allows websites to know what sites you’ve viewed is revived – Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox are vulnerable to easy-to-execute techniques that allow unscrupulous websites to construct detailed histories of sites visitors have previously viewed, an attack that revives a long-standing privacy threat many people thought was fixed.
Aurich Lawson / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Despite half a million complaints, Facebook app now listens in on your surroundings – Facebook has recently updated their mobile app for Android, allowing for the company to record ‘passive noise’ from a smartphones microphone. Although slightly disconcerting at first, Facebook promises that privacy is of the upmost importance and will be respected. The new feature aims to figure out if you’re listening to a particular song or watching a TV Show, which will then appear alongside your Facebook post.
Microsoft to release seven security updates next week – Microsoft has released their advance prenotification for this month’s Patch Tuesday updates. The company will release seven security bulletins and updates. Two of the updates will be for at least one critical vulnerability.
Verizon claims Netflix is driving its customers away, threatens lawsuit – Verizon today demanded that “Netflix immediately cease and desist” its practice of telling customers that Verizon is to blame for network quality problems that affect streaming video. Verizon is worried that these notices will harm its otherwise sparkling reputation and even cause customers to switch Internet service providers. After all, the US Internet market is flush with competition, with every resident able to choose from so many high-quality service providers that there’s no way we could list them all here.
Report: Apple’s arrogance made buying Beats necessary – After Apple recently purchased Beats, new information has come to light on how the company’s incompetent managers, by ignoring the competition, made the acquisition necessary.
Amazon to unveil its smartphone on June 18th – Amazon, the king of online shopping, has been slowly entering the hardware markets over the past few years. With tablets and a set-top box, they are no stranger to perfecting hardware supply chains. So, with an event scheduled for June 18th, Amazon is gearing up to release its smartphone and here is what we know about the device based on previous rumors. The phone is rumored to have 5, yes 5 front facing cameras, can be seen in the image above and there is a camera on the back of the device too. The corner cameras are infrared cameras that can track your face and eyes so that the display can adjust to the location of your eyes to create the best visual effects.
Games and Entertainment:
Twitch Study Challenges Gamer Stereotypes – The old gamer stereotype usually consisted of an antisocial person who spends all day playing games in their rooms or in their parents’ basement. But according to a study from Twitch and LifeCourse Associates, that perception has been thrown out of the window. “The old stereotype of the solitary geek gamer is over,” Neil Howe, the president of LifeCourse Associates and the man behind the term “Millenials,” said in a statement. “It turns out gamers today are more educated, optimistic, socially conscious, and connected to friends and family than non-gamers.”
id Software’s Softdisk games code being released under GPL – id Software has a long history of making games that stems back as far as 1991. Most gamers will only remember the hugely popular releases in the Doom and Quake series, but there were many more, and much older titles that were released before they hit the big time. A number of those games were published by Softdisk — the company where the id Software founders originally met. And those games remain the property of Softdisk, which is now owned by Flat Rock Software. Now it seems, Flat Rock is making the Softdisk code available for id’s classic titles.
The Witcher 3 release detailed with additional gameplay – Today the folks at CD Projekt RED have presented the newest footage and details of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. As with previous releases, this Witcher will be single-player and based in the action role-playing genre. This week’s release also included additional gameplay video. This morning we’ve also been shown the Collector’s Edition of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The Collector’s Edition box you’re seeing here will be available only in pre-order.
Ghostbusters returning to theaters August 29 – For the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, the film will return to “more than 700 movie theaters” on August 29th. This release of the movie will include special events across the United States as well as one massive box set for both the first and the second film.
Capcom E3 lineup unveiled: Dead Rising 3 PC, Ace Attorney – This morning Capcom has revealed at least part of their full lineup for E3 2014, including but not limited to Dead Rising 3 for PC, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (Nintendo 3DS), and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The game Ultra Street Fighter IV will be coming to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC as well.
Microsoft’s Xbox to add 45 new entertainment apps, big Twitter push – Microsoft said Wednesday that 45 new entertainment apps are due on the Xbox One and Xbox 360 platforms this year, including key apps from Twitter, HBO, and Showtime. But there’s no guarantee they’ll arrive anytime soon.
Off Topic (Sort of):
D-Day: 70th anniversary in pictures – Seventy years after the Day of Days, Normandy has shed itself of much of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. Monuments to the heroes of that day, and the many after, tower over the decaying bunkers. Here’s what Omaha and Utah beaches and the American Cemetery look like today.
Five reasons why China is attacking U.S. Tech – China’s blistering attacks on U.S. tech firms is more than quid pro quo over cyberspying charges. It’s a signal of China’s growing confidence in its own technology capabilities. China makes its own computer chips, has the world’s fastest supercomputer, and is on target to surpass the U.S. in R&D spending. It has built its own social media empire for its 600 million Internet users, keeping Facebook and Twitter on the fringes. Lenovo, a company that claims dual headquarters in North Carolina and China, is today the largest PC maker in the world. But China is now engaged in something of a war of words against U.S. tech firms, as it counters American criticism and more of it’s activities, which include the recent indictment of five people from China on cyberspying charges.
SoftBank Pepper emotion-sensing robot headed to retail – SoftBank plans to sell an emotion-sensing humanoid robot, Pepper, in Japan next year, putting the sensor-toting ‘bot into customer services duties in stores from this week. Expected to go on sale from February 2015, Pepper can track the emotions of the humans around it through their expressions and voice tones, and then react accordingly depending on what apps and cloud-data are available.
Fitbit designer: Wearables will help us become ‘more human’ – How will wearable devices integrate into our daily lives? Designer Gadi Amit speaks to CNET about his products like Fitbit and the modular Project Ara smartphone.
Bigwig bond fund manager doesn’t own a cell phone – Bill Gross, who manages one of the world’s largest bond funds at PIMCO, penned a lengthy blog post that was published on his company’s site this month. One would think that with Gross’ big shot job he’d be one of those people constantly tied to his mobile device. But, he’s not. In fact, Gross doesn’t even own a cell phone.
Speeders beware: This cop car’s a race car – UK police force decides the best way to combat speeding is to co-opt an Ariel Atom, which goes from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and is surely the world’s fastest cop car.
Something to think about:
“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
– Abraham Lincoln
Today’s Free Downloads:
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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
NSA: Inside the FIVE-EYED VAMPIRE SQUID of the INTERNET – Everything about the safety of the internet as a common communication medium has been shown to be broken. As with the banking disasters of 2008, the crisis and damage created – not by Snowden and his helpers, but by the unregulated and unrestrained conduct the leaked documents have exposed – will last for years if not decades.
Compounding the problem is the covert network of subornment and control that agencies and collaborators working with the NSA are now revealed to have created in communications and computer security organisations and companies around the globe.
The NSA’s explicit objective is to weaken the security of the entire physical fabric of the net. One of its declared goals is to “shape the worldwide commercial cryptography market to make it more tractable to advanced cryptanalytic capabilities being developed by the NSA”, according to top secret documents provided by Snowden.
Profiling the global machinations of merchant bank Goldman Sachs in Rolling Stone in 2009, journalist Matt Taibbi famously characterized them as operating “everywhere … a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”.
The NSA, with its English-speaking “Five Eyes” partners (the relevant agencies of the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) and a hitherto unknown secret network of corporate and government partners, has been revealed to be a similar creature. The Snowden documents chart communications funnels, taps, probes, “collection systems” and malware “implants” everywhere, jammed into data networks and tapped into cables or onto satellites.
Marc Andreessen: Edward Snowden is a ‘textbook traitor’ – Netscape cofounder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen has said that NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a “textbook traitor,” even though he admits that his peers in Silicon Valley mostly don’t see it that way.
“Obviously he’s a traitor,” Andreessen said in an interview with CNBC. “If you look up in the encyclopedia, ‘traitor’, there’s a picture of Ed Snowden.”
Vulture Annex in San Francisco hasn’t the budget for a set of encyclopedias, so we’ll have to take his word for it.
Andreessen, who got rich when AOL bought Netscape in 1999, has lately spent his time investing in Silicon Valley startups as half of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
But although he has all the earmarks of a Silicon Valley business insider, Andreessen said that he believes he’s among a “distinct minority” in that community, most of whom he thinks would pick “the other designation” for Snowden. (The reason this troglodyte is in the minority is – he couldn’t care less about your human rights. A minor POS whose head is firmly, but comfortably, stuck in his arse. Money – money – money – that’s his driving motivation. Human rights and dignity? Meh!)
Senators question need to rein in NSA surveillance – The U.S. Congress would endanger the nation’s security by passing even watered-down legislation to limit the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of domestic phone records, several U.S. senators said Thursday.
Several members of the Senate Intelligence Committee voiced opposition to the USA Freedom Act, a bill aimed at reining in NSA bulk collection of telephone and other records, even though many civil liberties groups and technology companies have questioned whether the bill would work as its sponsors originally envisioned.
With the USA Freedom Act, Congress is “compromising to please a skeptical and frequently misinformed public” that’s mistakenly worried about NSA surveillance, Senator Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican, said during a hearing on the House bill, taking place one year after the first leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were published.