US Appeals Court rules warrantless phone location tracking is illegal – A panel of appeals judges has ruled that police must obtain a warrant before collecting cellphone location data, adding further weight to the pro-privacy argument.
Microsoft Refuses U.S. Request to Hand Over Email Stored Abroad – The tech giant said acceding to the U.S. request for an email from a data storage site in Dublin, Ireland would “violate international law and treaties, and reduce the privacy protection of everyone on the planet.”
How to easily root an Android device – Rooting is the Android equivalent of jailbreaking, a means of unlocking the operating system so you can install unapproved (by Google) apps, update the OS, replace the firmware, overclock (or underclock) the processor, customize just about anything, and so on. Thankfully, there’s a new Windows utility that makes rooting a one-click affair: Kingo Android Root. It’s free, and based on my initial tests with a Virgin Mobile Supreme, it works like a charm. (Be sure to check the compatibility list before you proceed, keeping in mind that although the Supreme wasn’t on it, the utility had no problem with it.) Here’s how to get started.
Replacing your laptop with a tablet: must have accessories – The debate about whether a laptop can be adequately replaced with a tablet is a hot one, usually drawing passionate arguments from both sides of the fence. For some it isn’t a viable option, but others who use their laptops for casual browsing, watching videos, and playing simple games increasingly wonder the point of keeping around a laptop when a tablet best suits their needs. For those people, a handful of accessories will take you full circle, enabling your tablet to double as a laptop when necessary.
2014 World Cup: three ways to watch – The 2014 World Cup is upon us, and for those forced to watch from a distance, the options for doing so can be tricky if you don’t have the right cable channels (particularly for the cable-cutters among us). The games, which kick off tomorrow, will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC, but options remain for those who prefer to watch from their Android smartphone or tablet, iPad, or iPhone.
Easy dictation and transcription with Recordense – Jack Wallen takes a look at an audio recording app for Android that includes a web-based transcription tool. It could be exactly what you need to record and transcribe your meetings.
Google Introduces “Google My Business,” A New One-Stop Shop To Help Business Get Found Online – Google announced a suite of tools this morning for business owners, offering them a one-stop shop to update their business information, add photos, read reviews and, of course, use Google+. The service, called “Google My Business,” seems to be aimed at those who have yet to figure out how to “get on Google” so to speak; in fact, there’s a button that even uses that same expression.
3D-printed dress exposes your body as you reveal data – An NYU graduate student explores what it means to expose ourselves online by creating a dress that translates data sharing into real-life exposure.
Microsoft adding highlights, geo-tagging and easier browsing to Photosynth – If you don’t know, Photosynth from Microsoft is a photo sharing website and mobile application that can analyze digital photographs to create a panoramic or three-dimensional image (or snyth) of a setting or location. At the start of the year, Microsoft created a 20 gigapixel panorama of Seattle, with Photosynth used as one of the applications to create the final 360 degree image. Following the initial release in January, the Photosynth team has been working hard to add more features to the application; the latest update to the Technology Preview has arrived.
Audibly Turns Multiple iOS Devices Into A Wireless Surround-Sound System – A team of three young coders has come up with a way to turn your iPhone’s speakers into a wireless surround-sound system, thanks to a mobile app called Audibly. The app, which is perfect for parties or for blasting music when decent speakers aren’t readily available, uses technology found on newer devices (running iOS 7 or higher) in order to sync songs to multiple people’s iPhones or iPads simultaneously, effectively turning them into an ad hoc surround-sound system.
10 awesome improvements in Linux Mint 17 – If the end of XP demonstrated anything, it’s that disruption ensues when an OS reaches end of life. Linux users have long had LTS releases to stave off some of that, but the new Linux Mint 17 offers even more stability. Not only will it be supported until 2019, but it’s also built on a base that was made to last. Linux Mint 17 is a great choice for stability-minded individuals and businesses, in other words. Here’s a close-up look.
Comcast Is Turning The US Into Its Own Private Hotspot – On paper it looks like a win-win: in the next few days, Comcast is quietly turning on public hotspots in its customers’ routers, essentially turning private homes into public hotspots. Comcast customers get free Wi-Fi wherever there is a Comcast box and the company gets to build out a private network to compete with telecoms. Win-win. But here’s the problem: Comcast is essentially using your private residence as a corporate resource. They’re using your electricity. They’re using your Internet connection (although they claim they aren’t) and they’re opening up your private browsing to potential hackers.
Google Releases Official Google I/O App on Android – Google is set to have it’s annual developer conference in a few weeks, and the official app has just hit Google Play. Google I/O is technically for designers and programmers, but just like Apple’s WWDC, it has become a forum for Google to demo new technology and unveil devices. Even if you’re not going, the Google I/O app can help you feel like you’re there.
8 ways you’ll use Apple’s iOS 8 HealthKit every day – Apple’s HealthKit will let developers use your iPhone as a digital health hub. I’ve gathered together a bunch of existing products and solutions to show how these might work with you and HealthKit across a typical day.
Lifefitness products are already iOS-compatible
Insert adventures into GifMill, get animated GIFs – Peak Systems’s GifMill is a quick and easy way to make animated GIFs on your iPhone from video or images, and it’s this week’s Macworld staff pick.
Three plant sensors want to be your garden assistant – These plant sensors can connect your garden to give your plant a voice. We break down their strengths and weaknesses.
Two enterprise-worthy password managers: LastPass and RoboForm – Everyone in your company needs a password manager — and there are lots of great options. But two cross-platform tools rise above the rest, thanks to their excellent support for enterprise networks.
Feedly, Evernote And Others Become Latest Victims Of DDoS Attacks – Who have the DDoS attackers not hit? That’s the question. This morning, RSS reader and feed-syncing platform Feedly is being hit by a distributed denial-of-service attack, where again the criminals are attempting to extort money in return for returning the service to normal operations. And only yesterday, Evernote was a victim of a similar attack. These attacks seem to be increasing in frequency, and now leave a long line of victimized sites in their wake, including Meetup, Basecamp, Vimeo, Bit.ly, SAY Media/TypePad, Namecheap, Plenty of Fish and Moz, to name a few of the more recent victims.
Incapsula’s Report: 2014 DDoS Trends – Botnet Activity is up by 240% – Today we are releasing a DDoS Threat Landscape report which provides several important, and often surprising, facts about DDoS activity in 2013 and the beginning of 2014. When we started working on this report back in January, our goal was to provide a recap of 2013 DDoS trends. However, the offenders had other plans. And so, just as we were preparing for the report to come out, we started encountering new types of DDoS events which were too significant to overlook.
What’s a DDoS attack? Zombies, shopping help explain it all – There has been a lot of news today about DDoS; Feedly went down, and at the time we publish this article, still is. Those types of attacks happen often, and can cause some major headaches. What are they, though? Are you at risk if it happens? We explain DDoS in layman’s terms to help you understand a bit about what’s going on.
Poison PDF pusher released to public: A quick download, a couple of clicks, a naughty URL and you’re in the business of crime – Attacking enterprises just got easier with the development of an idiot-friendly tool that spits out booby-trapped PDFs with a few clicks. The tool weaves existing exploits into PDFs, allowing attacks against Adobe Reader and Acrobat versions 8.x prior to 8.2.1 and 9.x before 9.3.1. Users can insert their own URL pointers into the program, which then spits out an exploited PDF. Microsoft’s free anti-virus had blocked the attack (CVE-2010-0188) in a test and it was likely other platforms would raise flags too. Only unpatched users could be effectively targeted, but given the poor state of patching, that provides a pretty big pool of potential victims.
Watch Dogs video game will inspire more road sign hacks, warns cyber alert – Shortly after the game was released, conservative TV and radio host Glenn Beck announced that Watch Dogs teaches you to hack. “They’re teaching you to hack and then become the ultimate voyeur in other people’s lives, including their bedrooms, by hacking into their phones and everything,” Beck proclaimed. Then he talked about docking your iPad or phone right next to the bed, before adding, “This game is teaching people to hack in to whatever is docked in your bedroom.…We are inviting it into our homes….We are teaching our kids for entertainment purposes.” Beck is no hacker, no gamer for that matter, and likely has no clue about the true state of vulnerable critical infrastructure. But when the Center for Internet Security starts issuing cyber alerts blaming Watch Dogs, then this could be a long, painful journey.
Israel develops wireless-malware-injection-by-smartmobe tool – It’s not the next Daniel Suarez plot; Israeli academics have developed software they say can use your mobile phone to detect electrical impulses, and foist malware to computers physically disconnected from any internet facing network. Ben Gurion University professor Yuval Elovici told The Times of Israel that his team successfully sucked data off an air-gapped machine by implanting malware using the method. He said the attack works up to six metres away from a targeted machine.
Amazon Launching Streaming Music Service As Soon As This Week, Says NYT – E-commerce giant Amazon is planning a streaming music service of its own in order to join the ranks of virtually every other tech company in existence, according to the New York Times. The streaming feature would give Amazon Prime subscribers free access to a library of thousands of songs, sans any advertising. It won’t include new releases, however, and Universal Music Group artists will be left out, according to the report.
Microsoft continues its push in China with two new Lumias landing this summer – The two devices have identical hardware and design but will be heading to different mobile carriers; 636 to Chinia Unicom and 638 to China mobile. Seeing that Microsoft is getting this device on to two carriers in China will certainly help boost the availability of the device and should result in more sales. For Microsoft, they know that China is a critical market for the company and one where they can grow significantly. With two new low-cost devices that will soon be available in the market, we would expect to see the company move quite a few more units over the summer.
Starbucks rolling out wireless charging stations – Starbucks has introduced a new way for its customers to charge up their devices: wireless charging stations. The new offering is rolling out now, having kicked off with the company’s San Francisco stores. If you’re not in that area and want to take advantage of the feature, you might have to wait a while: the roll out is planned over the next three years.
Tizen OS declared ‘dead in the water’ – Days after Samsung introduced a Tizen OS-based smartphone, a UK-based analyst declared the operating system a non-starter, despite its backing by a consortium of heavyweights including Intel, Samsung and LG Electronics. “Is Tizen going anywhere? In a word, no,” wrote Andrew Sheehy, chief analyst for Generator Research in an online research report. To support his view, Sheehy said the OS is five years behind Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS and has the support of only a small cadre of developers compared to the millions writing applications for Android and iOS. “Watching Tizen’s development is like watching a car crash in slow motion,” he wrote.
Expedia to begin accepting Bitcoin for hotel reservations – You can buy electronics and every day goods with Bitcoin. You can order powerful custom PCs with Bitcoin. Heck, you can even pay your satellite TV bill in Bitcoin. But Bitcoin took yet another stride toward mainstream acceptance on Wednesday, as Expedia announced that it would start accepting Bitcoin for hotel reservations, becoming the first major travel agency to embrace the digital currency.
EU starts in-depth probe into Apple’s tax affairs – The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into Apple’s corporate tax affairs on suspicion that the company did not pay its fair share of income taxes.
Games and Entertainment:
Battlefield: Hardline Beta gameplay hands-on – When you dive in head-first to the Beta of Battlefield: Hardline, you expect things to be different from the rest of the Battlefield series. It seems like it would be a big jump to go from fighting in the hairiest of wartime locations to moving in on the city. But it’s not. If you enjoyed Battlefield in the past, DICE and Visceral Games have a treat for you in Hardline, and it tastes delicious.
Sonic the Hedgehog heads for Hollywood with new movie – According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Sonic movie will combine both computer animation and live action, perhaps in a similar style to the hybrid live/animated Smurfs movies, which were also produced by Sony. It will be made in collaboration with Japan’s Marza Animation Planet, part of the Sega Sammy Holdings group.
Hands on with The Witcher 3, an RPG for your ‘Game of Thrones’ withdrawals – It’s like GoT, but with a much bigger budget for monsters. The Witcher 3 gets bloody fast. Here’s our limb-by-limb account.
Hands On With LittleBigPlanet 3 at E3 – LittleBigPlanet 3 for the PlayStation 4 introduces three new characters in addition to series mascot Sackboy, each of which has new gameplay mechanics. I tried LittleBigPlanet 3 at Sony’s booth, where I jumped in the burlap shoes of Toggle, one of the three new characters. He looks like a big, gray Grimace, and can switch between being a beefy, heavy sack and a tiny little beanbag with a tap of the L1 button. The level, “Escape Toggle’s Labyrinth,” was designed specifically to show off Toggle’s powers and the puzzles you can build around them.
Off Topic (Sort of):
The social network bugaboo: being connected isn’t all bad – Social networking is the next great bugaboo, being pegged as the sole source of this generation’s seemingly inevitable (not to mention unfounded) decline into self-obsession and isolation. It has been called a great threat, a facilitator of narcissism. Critics say social networking in its many varied forms will lead to a sort of deconstruction of society, an ironic twist on its social-centric underpinnings. Is it all really so bad, this ever-present reality of social connections in an often solely-digital form?
500K Women Gave Up Their Boob Data To Build This Bra – True&Co, the e-commerce startup that aims to bring us the perfect fitting bra, took data from a million boobs to build its own line of intimates — in an effort to truly support your bust. Using 7 million different data points and gathering information from 500,000+ women for the last two years, the company has identified over 6,000 different types of boobs. Its data scientists then arranged all those different shapes, sizes and angles on a color-coded system they call True Spectrum.
The depressing truth about e-waste: 10 things to know – Where do our cell phones and laptops go to die? Here are 10 things to know about the growing electronic waste problem and how to properly recycle these items.
School cancels reading program rather than promote “hacker culture” – After the Booker T. Washington Public High School in Pensacola, Florida, placed best-selling author and popular Boing Boing blog editor Cory Doctorow’s young adult novel Little Brother on its “One School/One Book” summer reading list, the school’s administration promptly cancelled the school-wide reading program. The school’s principal, Michael J. Roberts, cited reviews that emphasized the novel’s “positive view of questioning authority, lauding ‘hacker culture,’ discussing sex and sexuality in passing” as his motivation for trying to steer students clear of the book. He also said that a parent complained about profanity in the book.
Private firms sue Arkansas for right to collect license plate reader data – Companies sue Utah to halt law that blocks private gathering, use of such data. Two major firms in the license plate reader (LPR) industry have filed a new lawsuit against Arkansas’ governor and attorney general, alleging that their corporate rights have been violated under a new state law banning the private collection of such data.
Samsung unveils a smarter smart fridge (pictures) – You can stream music through the refrigerator’s integrated Pandora app. If your TV supports external devices, you’ll be able to share its broadcast feed with the fridge, too.
5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Air Conditioner – Here’s how to choose the right size A/C unit, and some tips for how to best cool down once you’ve bought one.
Something to think about:
“I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it.”
– Terry Pratchett
Today’s Free Downloads:
3DMark – 3DMark is the latest benchmark from Futuremark designed to measure the performance of computer hardware. This version includes three different tests, each designed for a specific type of hardware ranging from smartphones to high-performance gaming PCs. More tests will be added over time.
This version adds Sky Diver is a new DirectX 11 benchmark test for gaming laptops and mid-range PCs. It’s ideal for testing mainstream graphics cards, mobile GPUs, integrated graphics and other systems that cannot achieve double-digit frame rates in the more demanding Fire Strike test. Together, Sky Diver and Fire Strike let you test the full range of DirectX 11 graphics hardware. Fire Strike is equivalent to testing a system with a modern DirectX 11 game on ultra-high settings. Sky Diver is more like running a game on normal settings.
CCEnhancer 4.0 – CCEnhancer is a small tool which adds support for over 1,000 new programs into the popular program CCleaner. The tool uses the winapp2.ini system built into CCleaner to easily add new rules and definitions for programs. The rules were sourced mainly from the Piriform Support Forum, with several sourced from other places around the internet.
The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program, but is instead downloaded by the program. Simply press ‘Download Latest’ and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Star Wars: The Old Republic is the only massively-multiplayer online game with a Free-to-Play option that puts you at the center of your own story-driven Star Wars saga. Play as a Jedi, a Sith, a Bounty Hunter or as one of many other Star Wars iconic roles and explore an age over three-thousand years before the classic films. Become the hero of your own Star Wars adventure as you choose your path down the Light or Dark side of the Force.
This is a downloader. Expect about a 20 GB download.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
We’re ALL Winston Smith now – and our common enemy is the Big Brother State – The latest thing we’ve all got to worry about in this brave new world of ours is that the young, not having read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, are simply too eager to give up their information and privacy to the tech giants.
Those richer in years have been forewarned by the novel and are thus less likely to get sucked into this Faustian bargain. We greybeards are thus cleverer than the puling youth. Or summat.
The problem with this particular worry is that O’Brien and the Party wanted that information, that privacy to be stripped away, for one reason, and the tech giants want the information for quite another. The two situations simply aren’t comparable. The Telegraph reports:
Young people willingly give up their privacy on Google and Facebook because they have not read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four unlike previous generations, a leading academic has warned. Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at Sheffield University, said that large corporations were hovering up private information and modern generations did not realize it was wrong. He said that older people who had grown up reading George Orwell’s 1984 about ‘Big Brother technology and ‘ authoritarianism’, were in a better position to resist the creeping erosion of privacy.
One way of putting this is that there’s privacy and then there’s privacy. Sure, you can track my web visits if doing so means that I get free searches of the accumulated wisdom of mankind. Or you can track who I link to on Bitchbook and in return I get the free use of the site. That’s one form of privacy and its loss.
Poll Indicates Broad Support For Email Privacy Overhaul – While we argue about how to best curtail the NSA, and precisely what constitutes meaningful reform, a gaping privacy hole remains open regarding our email: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 allows for email that has been stored by a user for more than 180 days to be accessed without a warrant.
No, this issue still isn’t resolved. A new poll shows broad support for reform, unsurprisingly. Polling by Vox Populi Polling shows that in five states, including Georgia, Colorado and New Hampshire, as well as the city of Los Angeles, more than 80 percent in each support changing the law.
That’s a huge margin across ideologically distinct areas.
Sixty-four percent think that the issue of digital privacy is “increasingly important” following the now year-long saga of NSA revelations, and 72 percent indicated that they would be more willing to vote for a candidate who supports reforming the ECPA.
Microsoft challenges US gov’t on international data searches – Microsoft has challenged a ruling that would allow US government authorities to search its overseas facilities.
The company said in a petition filed to the US District Court for Southern New York that it objects to an order that would allow law enforcement to search all Microsoft-owned facilities worldwide.
At the heart of the issue is a warrant granting authorities access to a datacenter facility in Dublin, Ireland. Citing the US Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a magistrate judge ordered Redmond to open its doors to investigators seeking access to emails stored at the facility.
According to Microsoft’s appeal, the government’s order to search the Dublin facility is a violation of Redmond’s right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.
Get a warrant for cell phone location tracking, US appeals court says – A federal appeals court ruled today that the authorities must get a warrant before obtaining a suspect’s mobile-phone location history. It’s a decision squarely at odds with other appellate rulings and one likely to force the Supreme Court’s hand.
The ruling (PDF) from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concerns a Florida man, Quartavious Davis, sentenced to life for a string of robberies. His 2012 conviction rested largely on mobile phone records that pegged his location near six of seven heists.
“The court’s opinion is a resounding defense of the Fourth Amendment’s continuing vitality in the digital age,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who argued the case before the court. “This opinion puts police on notice that when they want to enlist people’s cell phones as tracking devices, they must get a warrant from a judge based on probable cause.”
It’s the first time a US circuit court of appeals has said cell phone location data is constitutionally protected. However, the circuit’s ruling only covers Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.