Beware of fake “Gmail suspicious login” warnings; Big Brother Business Is Always Watching You; Get discounts on new tech for class; Switchr: Android task switching made easy; The struggle to stop work taking over our lives; Apps to Keep Your Family Organized; More must-have Google Chrome extensions; Mom creates app so that kids can’t ignore her calls; Microsoft pulls security patch after reports of BSOD and system crashes; Microsoft Issues Hotfix for Internet Explorer Slowdowns; Turn Any YouTube Video Into A GIF; British spy agency scanned for vulnerable systems in 32 countries; Supervalu latest major company to fall victim to cyberattack; Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA; EASEUS Todo Backup Free Edition.
The digital fightback: The struggle to stop work taking over our lives – While the working day may nominally be 9am – 5.30pm try to stick to those hours in many companies and you risk being labelled a part-timer. Modern information technology has further blurred the boundaries between work and play, with the advent of email and smartphones meaning we’re rarely out of contact with the office. And even if your boss respects your private time, there’s no guarantee clients will think twice about hauling you away from your family. However, a growing number of organisations are pushing back against the creeping extension of the working day.
Get discounts on new tech for class – Buying new technology for class can really eat into your budget. If you want to have some money left over after you’ve bought the necessities, then it’s time to start shopping the student sales. Whether you’re looking to buy a new laptop, tablet, or even a mini fridge, these are some of the best sites to shop. Check out these deep discounts and exclusive sales for students that can help you find the right gear for the year.
Switchr: Android task switching made easy – Every once in a while, you come across an Android app that makes you wonder why that particular feature, service, or behavior isn’t included in the default build of the platform. One such app is Switchr, which allows you to re-open running apps from an elegant dock. You no longer have to go through the app history and then select the app you want to run. Instead, just swipe from the left and tap the app you want to open. It’s that simple and incredibly handy.
Big Brother Business Is Always Watching You – Whether you like it or not, there are cameras everywhere that are watching you. In retail stores, on the streets, in the office, it doesn’t seem like you can escape them. What do businesses do with all this footage, and what future plans are in store for video surveillance? Video security company Eagle Eye Networks released a recent report that details some of the key trends happening in business use of surveillance systems.
Ferguson, Mo., police agree: Everyone can film us – The ACLU in Missouri meets with authorities to clarify the First Amendment right of anyone to film the police, as long as those filming aren’t obstructive. After incidents in which police officers have been filmed on cell phones performing their duties in a questionable manner, police forces across America have been reinforcing to their officers that the right to film is, indeed, a First Amendment right.
More must-have Google Chrome extensions – The Google Chrome browser is a great web browser, but with the addition of a few extensions, a great browsing experience can be transformed into a superb browsing experience.
Here Are Some Apps to Keep Your Family Organized – Appointments, medications, game schedules, chores — to make a household run smoothly, you need a safe place to store and share information. That’s where apps come in handy. I found apps that fit every family from traditional nuclear families — parents and kids living under one roof — to grown children taking care of parents to divorced parents with joint custody to people who want to track their pet’s care. Plus, there are specialized apps for playdates, carpooling and chores.
Not sure you want to buy a Chromebook this fall? Try out Chrome OS in Windows first – If you’re considering a Chromebook for school, whether a teacher or student, there’s a lot to like, including a relatively low price and fast boot times. In late 2013, Google introduced Windows 8 mode for Chrome for PCs running the latest versions of Windows. Windows 8 mode for Chrome is pretty much the Chrome OS experience, and will give you a good idea about what it’s like to run Chrome OS full-time.
Mom creates app so that kids can’t ignore her calls – Sharon Standifird served in the Gulf War. She’s climbed mountains. So how hard could it be to get her kids to show a little respect? Her teens, you see, tended to do what teens do. So when she called them on their cell phones, their natural instinct was to press “ignore.” What’s a mom to do? Get mad? Or get spectacularly, ingeniously even? She chose the latter. She began to consider what sort of app might get her teens to see the light. The result was Ignore No More. This charming addition to her kids’ phones does something very simple: if the kids don’t pick up mom’s calls, the app locks their phones.
The Premier League has had it up to here with all your soccer Vines – England’s Premier League is a waving a red card at fans who plan on recording goals and posting the six-second clips to Vine. It saw that Twitter accounts like FootballVines have hundreds of thousands of followers. And on the eve of its 2014-15 season, it took the airwaves with a simple message aimed squarely at its fanbase: No more fun of any kind.
If the Premier League has its way, you’ll be seeing fewer posts like these in your Twitter feed.
Microsoft pulls security patch after reports of BSOD and system crashes – A recent Patch Tuesday security update has been pulled by Microsoft after receiving reports from users getting the Blue Screen of Death, after installing the update. According to Microsoft’s support website, the security update had various issues and it could cause Windows not to boot in some cases; the company has stopped distributing the update through Windows Update as well as its website.
Microsoft Issues Hotfix for Internet Explorer Slowdowns – Having some trouble with your Web browser? Specifically, Internet Explorer? If you’ve noticed that your Microsoft browser has felt as if it’s been crawling to a halt lately, then we have some good news for you: Microsoft knows about the issue and has recently issued a hotfix to correct it.
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about podcasting, but were afraid to ask – There is very little stopping you from making your own podcast. If you can speak, you can podcast. Still, many interested in making their own podcast, don’t have the slightest clue where to actually begin. Until now. In our five part series on making a podcast from scratch, we take you from coming up with a basic premise, to recording, to finally delivering something compelling for the entire world to listen to. Below you’ll see links to our first four parts. Look for Part 5 soon.
Moto 360 price prematurely confirmed by Best Buy – It’s fair to say that the Moto 360 is the smartwatch most would-be Android Wear wearers are waiting for, but so far Motorola has been reluctant to confirm exactly how much the circular wearable will cost. Official details will almost certainly come at Motorola’s September 4th event, but a premature product listing at Best Buy may have let the cat out of the bag early.
The trouble with trolls (and how to beat them) – Zelda Williams was driven off of Twitter by a troll or trolls using the names PimpStory and MrGoosebuster. The accounts sent her messages and pictures that are too horrible to relate here. She tweeted to her followers: “Please report @PimpStory @MrGoosebuster. I’m shaking. I can’t. Please.” This event is the trolling crisis in a nutshell. A vulnerable person. A sociopath or two on social media tormenting that person without consequence, totally beyond the reach of everyone (in fact, the pain caused and the attention grabbed rewarded them). Can anything be done about it? The answer is yes. But first let’s understand the new world of online trolling.
Mozilla launches its new $170 dual-core developer phone, the Flame – Mozilla has launched its new developer device for Firefox OS, and it’s not exactly a flagship. Mozilla says that its new ‘Flame’ handset is “a milestone in Firefox OS device releases”, but its spec sheet puts it roughly on par with many new entry-level devices recently announced by manufacturers on other platforms. For $170 USD (€127 EUR / £102 GBP), including worldwide shipping, you’ll get a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of onboard storage (with a microSD slot for cards up to 32GB) and a 4.5-inch FWVGA (854x480px) display. There’s also a 5MP rear camera and 2MP front-camera.
Facebook test puts satire tag next to link titles – There’s always that one Facebook friend – You know who we’re talking about. A link to an Onion article gets posted, and that friend goes off about it, ranting about the satire they’re oblivious to, giving everyone else a private snicker before someone finally points out the nature of the website. Facebook is working on a new tag that could bring these entertaining episodes to an end.
Turn Any YouTube Video Into A GIF By Just Adding “GIF” To The URL – Want to turn something on YouTube into a GIF, but don’t want to futz with downloading third-party apps or digging around for an online converter? Here’s a handy, easy to remember trick: just add “GIF” to the beginning of the URL. After “www.” and before “youtube.com”
Windows 9 preview could materialize as soon as next month – Microsoft could be shipping a preview release of the next major version of Windows—codenamed “Threshold” and expected to be named “Windows 9″—in either late September or early October, according to sources speaking to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. The preview will be widely available to anyone who wants to install it. The final version of the operating system is currently believed to be scheduled for spring 2015.
What’s the optimum number of speakers for your home theater, 1 to 34, and counting – No doubt about it, adding speakers produces superior sound envelopment, but maybe one speaker is all you need.
Supervalu latest major company to fall victim to cyberattack – Supervalu, one of the largest grocery chains in the US, with both company-owned and franchised locations, has fallen victim to a cyberattack, the company announced Friday. Malicious hackers targeted the part of Supervalu’s network that handles credit card transactions and may have stolen credit card information, including expiration dates, actual card numbers, and, potentially, cardholders’ names.
Beware of fake “Gmail suspicious login” warnings – Malicious emails impersonating Gmail Account Services have been spotted hitting inboxes around the world, falsely claiming that the users’ Gmail account has been logged into from an unrecognized device.
Report: British spy agency scanned for vulnerable systems in 32 countries – British intelligence agency GCHQ used port scanning as part of the “Hacienda” program to find vulnerable systems it and other agencies could compromise across at least 27 countries, German news site Heise Online has revealed. The use of so-called port scanning has long been a trusty tool used by hackers to find systems they can potentially access. In top-secret documents published by Heise on Friday, it is revealed that in 2009, GCHQ started using the technology against entire nations.
Who needs hackers? ‘Password1’ opens a third of all biz doors – Hundreds of thousands of hashed corporate passwords have been cracked within minutes by penetration testers using graphics processing units. The 626,718 passwords were harvested during penetration tests over the last two years conducted across corporate America by Trustwave infosec geeks. The firm’s threat intelligence manager Karl Sigler said in a post that half of the plundered passwords were cracked within “the first few minutes”. “We eventually cracked 576,533 or almost 92 percent of the sample within a period of 31 days,” Sigler said.
Australia: Political clash of luddite QCs and tech are a dangerous combination – Australia faces a dangerous conflation of technology-driven surveillance and an almost total lack of technical comprehension from the political class.
Google starts warning users about deceptive downloads – Google has announced a welcome change to its Safe Browsing service: starting next week, Google Chrome will also warn users about attempts to make them download software that can adversely affect their Internet browsing.
Safe Browsing is a web service that is also used by Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari browsers, and warns users about unsafe websites (malware, phishing), attack sites, and alerts webmasters if their sites have been hacked.
Rimini Street did steal Oracle’s intellectual property, judge says – A federal judge has dismissed a defamation claim against Oracle by third-party support vendor Rimini Street, saying Oracle was telling the truth when it accused the company of “massive theft” of its software. Rimini is defending itself against an Oracle suit claiming it stole Oracle’s intellectual property. This week’s ruling is a major setback for the third-party support provider.
Ebay may begin accepting Bitcoin payments via its Braintree platform – Several large and notable companies have started accepting Bitcoin in recent months including Dell, Dish, Expedia, and Overstock. But the crypto-currency may be on the verge of snagging its biggest supporter yet: eBay. The online commerce giant is reportedly in talks with Bitcoin transaction providers to allow Bitcoin payments on eBay-owned payment processor Braintree, according to The Wall Street Journal. Yes, in the coming months you may be able to pay for your Github subscription and Uber rides via Bitcoin.
Google Acquires Image-Recognition Expert Jetpac for Undisclosed Sum – It’s unclear just what Jetpac’s expertise in image-recognition techniques might do at Google, but you can bet the search giant will think of quite a few things.
Xbox Entertainment Studios not quite dead yet – The Hollywood Reporter says that Microsoft is in talks with Warner Bros. to revive its shuttered business for developing original video content.
Games and Entertainment:
There’s Life on Mars in Bungie’s Latest Destiny Trailer – Is it really mid-August already? We’ve less than a month until Destiny lands on September 9 for PlayStation and Xbox platforms like a thermobaric bunker-buster, taking the wind out of everything else’s sails through September’s remainder and possibly beyond. We spent the beta period that just ended exclusively exploring alien-infested ruins on Earth, so the latest trailer should be of more than passing interest as it highlights a very different off-planet locale central to the game’s sprawling mythology, and one we’ve only glimpsed so far: the planet Mars, hundreds of years in our future.
14 games that feel like school – It’s time for school again—bad news for students, and great news for anyone who doesn’t like kids hanging out on their lawn. But who needs to go back to school when you have our PCWorld 2014 Gaming Course Catalog? Learn Astrophysics from Kerbal Space Program! Learn European History from Crusader Kings II! Learn…something… from Frog Fractions! If anyone asks, just say you’re doing homework.
Chemistry 103: Spacechem
EverQuest: The Darkened Sea updates the game that won’t die – EverQuest gamers are getting a new expansion pack, the 21st to have been released for the incredibly long-running online game series, with The Darkened Sea set to go live this October. Confirmed during Sony Online Entertainment’s SOE Live conference this week, the expansion will add a further eight zones to the game among other tweaks.
Girl power: 10 films full of remarkable women, streaming on Netflix – It’s no secret that the movie business has long been a men’s club, but it doesn’t have to be that way. These 10 films, currently streaming on Netflix, show that great things can happen when men and women work together to create more opportunities for women behind the scenes and in front of the camera. And adding some truly interesting female characters never hurts, either. In fact, we found so many performances worth celebrating that there’s a bonus list of 10 more girl-power films at the bottom.
Two ways Silent Hills / P.T gets even scarier – This week we’re having a look at a number of ways in which the Silent Hill trailer released this week becomes more terrifying than it already is. The name “P.T” stands for “Playable Trailer” and was revealed in full just hours after it was first released thanks to one intrepid gamer. The game is beyond scary – no limits, scream-belching horrifying – and it’s not even released as a full title yet.
Off Topic (Sort of):
WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange leaving Ecuador Embassy ‘soon’ – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in London for the past two years, has confirmed he will leave the sanctuary of the Ecuadorian Embassy “soon.”
Richard III bone chemistry reveals royal life of luxury – According to a study performed by the British Geological Survey and researchers at the University of Leicester, the king changed location and diet early in his childhood, and then, when he was crowned king 26 months before his death at the Battle of Bosworth, started eating a richer diet associated with his change in status.
The Renovo Coupe is the new poster child for extreme EV – Forget Tesla. That’s perhaps not the official tagline for Renovo Motors and its striking new electric coupe, but it’s not hard to see the retro racer as a push back against Elon Musk’s polished bid to take EVs mainstream. Unveiled at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Renovo Coupe makes some big claims, too, like 0-60 mph in under 3.4 seconds.
Stunning 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sets $38.1m record – A beautiful Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta has set a new global auction record this week, with the 1962 coupe seeing bidding hit $38.1m. The sale – which eclipses the previous record holder, a Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 racer dating back to 1954, on which the hammer dropped at $29.7m last year – took place in California at Bonhams auction house.
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA – Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has taken to Twitter and labelled Google worse than the NSA. Here’s The Dirty Digger’s missive:
That Murdoch is hardly a paragon of privacy is being pointed out long and loud in replies to the Tweet, which aren’t shy of asking just how The News of the World’s infamous phone-hacking practices give the News Limited supremo a platform from which to criticise anyone else’s position on privacy.
Prototype Plane Ditches Windows for Panoramic Screens – Instead of windows in its rather small primary seating area, the Ixion Windowless Jet uses giant screens that line the left and right walls of the plane’s cabin, as well as its ceiling. In Technicron Design’s renderings, the displays provide a beautiful view of what passengers might otherwise see if those areas were instead covered in glass.
Internet tops cable TV in subscriber numbers for the first time – For the first time in the United States, the largest service providers saw more Internet subscribers than cable TV subscribers. The information comes from the Leichtman Research Group, which says that by the end of this year’s second quarter, there were 49,915,000 total broadband subscribers versus 49,910,000 cable TV subscribers.
Silicon Valley tech execs behaving badly – Acts of arrogance are a time-honored tradition among the Silicon Valley digerati. Tech billionaires and power-crazed chief executives live in their own worlds in which codes of social conduct — even some laws – don’t apply. Or, at least, these execs don’t think they do. It seems almost every day some news breaks about a tech titan acting in a way that leave us shaking our heads. Here is a list of a dozen doozies.
Something to think about:
“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
– Carl Sagan
Today’s Free Downloads:
Windows Tweaker – Windows Tweaker is a free Windows tweaking utility using which you can tweak your Windows 8/7 both x86 and x64 systems are supported. It contains several tweaks grouped into 11 main categories, and access to 38 Windows tools (Device Manager, Registry Editor, DirectX Troubleshooter, Advanced Disk Cleanup, etc) all in a single place.
Has over 100 useful tweaks for your Windows 8/7 which you can’t find available, by default in Windows.
A one-stop place for all your important tweaks bundled in a single place.
Highly reliable and doesn’t affect your system in any way. All the applied tweaks can be safely undone, without leaving any traces (our main focus is reliability).
Small, efficient and easy to use tweaker.
You can enhance your Windows for smooth running, faster performance and lower memory consumption.
What more??? You can even schedule Shutdowns, configure startup programs and hide files/folders with System File privileges very easily.
XBMC – XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. XBMC is available for Linux, OSX, Windows, and the original Xbox. Created in 2003 by a group of like minded programmers, XBMC is a non-profit project run and developed by volunteers located around the world. More than 50 software developers have contributed to XBMC, and 100-plus translators have worked to expand its reach, making it available in more than 30 languages.
While XBMC functions very well as a standard media player application for your computer, it has been designed to be the perfect companion for your HTPC. Supporting an almost endless range of remote controls, and combined with its beautiful interface and powerful skinning engine, XBMC feels very natural to use from the couch and is the ideal solution for your home theater.
Currently XBMC can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. Use your media as-is: XBMC can play CDs and DVDs directly from the disk or image file, almost all popular archive formats from your hard drive, and even files inside ZIP and RAR archives. It will even scan all of your media and automatically create a personalized library complete with box covers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox.
EASEUS Todo Backup Free Edition – EASEUS Todo Backup Free provides several of the key features from EASEUS Todo Backup Workstation to protect your PC.
Users are faced with the essential challenge: the need to secure their PC and important files, such as system, family photos, music, applications, personal data and financial documents. If you lose any files you like or need to go back to an earlier version, don’t worry, you can recover them in time. It is a complete free backup and recovery solution for home users.
System Backup and Recovery
File and Folder Backup
Incremental disk/partition backup
Backup Management to manage the backup tasks and plans
Disk Tools like clone disk, wipe disk
Backup to external hard drive, CD/DVD, NAS for double protection
Schedule backup ongoing indicator to timely notify whether your schedule is ongoing or not.
Backup network shared files
One-click system backup & recovery.
Support dynamic disk – back up and clone dynamic volume.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
Boston PD used facial recognition surveillance during 2013 music festival – During the 2013 Boston Calling music festivals, the Boston police department used a facial recognition surveillance system to keep an eye on those who attended. Thousands of faces were captured, according to Dig Boston, via ten cameras that could perform so-called “intelligent video analysis” in real time.
The story is an interesting one, something that revolves around Dig Boston’s reporters “searching the deep web” and spotting unsecured documents related to the Boston Calling surveillance programs. IBM is said to have worked with law enforcement in providing a facial recognition system that would tag “every person” that attended.
IBM is said to have licensed an Intelligent Operations Center, and at the heart of it all was a system being tested via Boston Calling surveillance that analyzed, in real time, things like faces and bodies, skin color, clothing, traffic patterns, and more. In addition, information nabbed from social networks was integrated in real time and factored into the overall equation.
There is a division between what the Boston PD says about the discovery and what the alleged documents reveal. According to Dig Boston, the docs have photos of police officers watching the IBM system while the music festival took place, but a statement from the department said, “BPD was not part of this initiative. We do not and have not used or possess this type of technology.”
Boston Mayor’s press secretary had different things to say, however, confirming that surveillance was used during the two music festivals, summing it up by saying that ultimately the city didn’t go with the software, because it had “not seen a clear use case for this software that held practical value for the City’s public safety needs.”
Revealed … GCHQ’s incredible hacking tool to sweep net for vulnerabilities: Nmap – For the past five years, British spying nerve-center GCHQ has been port scanning internet-connected computers in 27 countries – in a exhaustive hunt for systems to potentially exploit.
That bombshell comes amid fresh leaks detailing the dragnet surveillance programs operated by the Five Eyes nations: America, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
German publisher Heise reports that the HACIENDA program scans open ports on all public-facing servers to seek out vulnerable systems – a basic reconnaissance strategy adopted by countless hackers and other curious folk.
As well as simple port scans, GCHQ also stashes the banner text sent by some server software to connecting clients, and other data.
Assuming the server is telling the truth, these banners can be useful because they typically declare the version number and name of the software – this is information that can be used to look up exploits for known vulnerabilities in the code. And we all know GCHQ et al love vulnerabilities.
Time to ditch HTTP – govt malware injection kit thrust into spotlight – A new report form the Toronto-based internet watchdog Citizen Lab has shown cases of governments running network injection attacks that can deliver malware via any HTTP web connection.
The dossier looks at two hacking tools created by the Italian firm Hacking Team and the German biz FinFisher that use the injection attack vector. Both firms claim to sell only to government sources, although leaked documents suggest at least one sale to a private security company has taken place.
The attack works if a spy or other miscreant fits a Hacking Team or FinFisher appliance in the telecommunications company used by the target. Once the victim’s IP address is known, the injection server can identify his or her connections to website, intercept the passing unencrypted HTTP stream and insert malicious code into the web page.
This happens without any user interaction at all; the inserted code then exploits vulnerabilities in the victim’s computer – perhaps a Flash plugin or browser zero-day – to infect it with spying malware. Governments tend to stockpile exploits for various devices and operating systems.
Citizen Lab says YouTube and Microsoft Live login pages are heavily targeted.
Report: German spy agency inadvertently eavesdropped on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry – To say that this alleged incident puts German officials in an awkward spot would be quite the understatement, especially considering how, in October of last year, word leaked out that the National Security Agency had spied on 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The key difference, of course, is that BND’s recorded Kerry and Clinton accidentally, while the NSA’s monitoring of world leaders’ calls was, by all accounts, an intentional act.