Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 1, 2014

3 essential security tasks – have you done them yet?  Bookstores, publishers sue to stop law against “revenge porn”;  Microsoft Announces Windows 10;  Windows 10 in pictures;  Need help? Microsoft Stores offer free tech support, PC tune-ups, malware removal;  Should you be afraid of Facebook’s massive new ad network?  Spotify launches across Canada (finally);  Students Can Get Unlimited Google Drive Storage for Free;  Nightmare iOS 8 bug deletes your entire iCloud;  How to create digital floor plans;  Good2Go App Assesses Sexual Willingness;  Free app makes it easy to score hugs;  Meet Matchstick, Mozilla’s $25 Chromecast competitor;  Microsoft will offer locally hosted cloud services in India;  No-cost Panda Software tops AV-Test’s rankings of antivirus software;  Trust in cloud security at all-time low;  Popcorn Time Finally Comes To iOS.

3 essential security tasks – have you done them yet? – Tomorrow marks a year since we published our ‘3 essential security tasks’, so we thought we’d revisit it to ask if you’ve done them all. If you haven’t, there’s still time!

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Microsoft Announces Windows 10 – This morning at an event in San Francisco, Microsoft announced the next version of its Windows operating system: Windows 10. The company went on to detail that its new operating system will have a tailored user experience between different screen sizes — that’s to say that if you are on a smaller device, you will see a different sort of user interface. The code will run across all device categories: “One product family. One platform. One store.”

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Windows 10 in pictures: A new Start menu puts focus back on the desktop – Multiple desktops and new application views make Windows 10 more PC-friendly.

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How to get Windows 10’s best new features today – A Start Menu, the ability to run Metro apps in desktop windows, and more are coming to Windows 10, but you can get the best features today thanks to some helpful software.

Need help? Microsoft Stores offer free tech support, PC tune-ups, malware removal – If you don’t have a geeky friend handy, PC problems often mean dragging your computer down to the Geek Squad or local PC shop, where you’ll be charged a crazy amount of money to have malware removed or speed up a slowing PC. No more! If you live near a Microsoft Store some of the peskiest PC problems can now be fixed in-person for free. Microsoft’s retail locations recently started offering their Windows-focused answer to Apple’s Genius Bar: the Answer Desk.

Should you be afraid of Facebook’s massive new ad network? – Facebook just launched a potentially massive new ad network called Atlas. According to a headline in The New York Times, Atlas “opens the gates” to Facebook’s “vault of user data.” It sounds like a PR disaster waiting to happen — the kind of thing that’s going to startle local news. It also sounds like Google, the market leader in digital ads, should be very afraid — but should you?

Students Can Get Unlimited Google Drive Storage for Free – Google on Tuesday announced a new version of Drive that is free for students. Described as an “infinitely large, ultra-secure and entirely free bookbag for the 21st century,” the new Drive for Education offering will be available to all Google Apps for Education customers at no charge. It includes unlimited storage (with a 5TB per-file size limit) plus access to the Google Apps Vault for your message archiving needs.

How to create digital floor plans – Looking for an easy way to see how your furniture will look in a different arrangement? How about what to do with an oddly shaped room? Check out the HomeStyler website to make a digital floor plan.

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The 3D view of a floor plan created with HomeStyler.

Spotify launches across Canada (finally) – We’ve seen hints of it before, and now it has finally happened: Spotify has officially launched in Canada, just time for those long winter months spent indoors. The announcement came from the company itself this morning, and includes service across your mobile devices in addition to the Web.

Popcorn Time Finally Comes To iOS – Popcorn Time, the so-called Netflix for pirates, is now on iOS. It’s never been easier to watch pirated movies and TV shows on the iPhone or Android device. Is it illegal? Not really. Shady and not exactly ethical? Sure. Not surprisingly, Apple didn’t give the official nod to this app so Popcorn Time cannot be found in the App Store. That said, it’s still easy to obtain and install the needed software as long as you’re willing to jailbreak your iOS device.

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32 iOS 8 Tips Every Apple Fan Should Know – iOS has a ton of new features and tricks under the hood, things the average user may never notice or care about. But power users of the iPhone—those of us who exploit that pocket computer as a lifeline to the office and home—will benefit highly by mastering them. Apple opened up iOS more to the makers of wearables (via HealthKit) and even to third-party app makers who now have some unprecedented (for Apple) access to the hardware. It all adds up to the best iPhones yet.

Nightmare iOS 8 bug deletes your entire iCloud – The feature causing all the fuss is “Reset All Settings,” which is supposed to change all the system preferences back to system defaults. This shouldn’t have any affect on files, but users are reporting that the device is actually deleting all local iWork documents, a change that is then synced up to the iCloud backup, thus deleting everything across all iOS devices. Oops.

Good2Go App Assesses Sexual Willingness – Available for iOS and Android, the service aims to ensure that both partners explicitly approve of sexual activity before jumping into bed. But the app takes precaution a few steps further, gauging your date’s sobriety level and requiring him or her to verify their identification with a phone number and G2G password (new users can register via the app). There are any number of scenarios that can play out via the Good2Go app, starting with a flat-out “No, thanks,” which immediately shuts down the possibility of hanky panky. The second, “Yes, but we need to talk,” means both parties can discuss boundaries (or lack thereof) ahead of the action. Or, just get on with it by pressing “I’m Good2Go.”

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Path takes laziness to a new level with business messaging – Now a messaging app will call businesses for you and then message you their answers. We’ve reached peak messaging.

Meet Matchstick, Mozilla’s $25 Chromecast competitor – We’ve been hearing whispers for a little while about a Chromecast competitor from Mozilla that was geared towards supporting a fully open source environment, and it looks like the company plan to head to Kickstarter in order to fund this little streaming stick. It’s going to be called Matchstick, and there can be no doubt that the purpose of this stick is to try and sway users away from Google’s Chromecast.

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Silicon Valley’s Newest Dating App Is ‘Tinder Without the Poor People’ – All ‘date a rich person’ services are appalling enough, but today, I present to you a new low: LUXY, the app that is literally being pitched as “Tinder without the poor people.” A press release for LUXY, written by Darren Shuster of Pop Culture Public Relations, is circulating today, and it is both a shining new milestone in the burgeoning pantheon of offensive apps and a fascinating testament to the increasing obliviousness of Silicon Valley. First, I give you the release, in all of its repulsive, bafflingly tone-deaf glory:

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Pushbullet ‘Channels’ Add Custom Notifications on Android, iOS – Channels are essentially a way to plug RSS feeds into Pushbullet so you can get notified of almost any event with rich notifications on iOS or Android. There are several pre-existing channels to subscribe to, or you can make your own. On the server side, a Pushbullet Channel will send out an alert to all subscribed users when a feed updates. For example, if there’s a new Oatmeal cartoon or a new Humble Bundle is posted. The alert shows up in the Android notification shade or iOS Notification Center, depending on your platform of choice. On Android there are action buttons with options to copy or share the link in addition to opening it.

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Cuddle curious? Free app makes it easy to score hugs – Working much like other social GPS-based apps, Cuddlr finds people who want a hug within walking distance and shows their name, picture and cuddle reviews. Make contact with your cuddling partner, then see real-time walking directions to get to each other. If the cuddle is up to your standards, give a thumbs-up. If it’s a bit too intense or sexual, you can report the user. The app even allows for cuddle selfies.

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Keep any application ‘always on top’ in Windows – Want to keep one window as your focus, but the application doesn’t have an option for always on top? Check out this tip on how to use the always on top functionality with any software.

Edit your rooted Android hosts file to block ad servers – If you’re looking for the best way to block ads from reaching your rooted Android device, Jack Wallen shows you how to manually edit your hosts file.

Security:

Free is good: No-cost Panda Software tops AV-Test’s rankings of antivirus software – Antivirus suites are only as good as their latest tests. And in AV-test.org’s latest roundup for July and August, the usual suspects—BitDefender, Kaspersky, McAfee, and Symantec—came out on top. The same holds true for the free options. If you’re a cheapskate, you can download Panda Security’s free cloud antivirus and have a good chance that it will catch everything that the shadowy corners of the Web can throw at it—as it did in AV-test’s own proving ground.

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Cisco, Oracle find dozens of their products affected by Shellshock – Cisco has identified 71 products so far that are exposed to the vulnerability. These products serve various purposes, including network application, service and acceleration; network content and security; network management and provisioning; routing and switching; unified computing; voice and unified communications; video, streaming, TelePresence and transcoding. The number of Cisco products vulnerable to Shellshock and related bugs far exceeds the 38 confirmed not to be vulnerable. The company is reviewing an additional 168 products and hosted services, so the list of vulnerable products is likely to increase.

Trust in cloud security at all-time low: Execs still betting on the cloud – A new report on IT decision makers shows enterprise trust in cloud security at its lowest — yet they’re flocking to use it. OpenStack’s Matt Joyce thinks it’s fair to ask if everyone’s gone nuts.

Malware program targets Hong Kong protesters who use Apple devices – A malware program that targets Hong Kong activists using Apple devices has trademarks of being developed by a nation-state, possibly China, according to a security company. Lacoon Mobile Security of San Francisco wrote on its blog on Tuesday that the malware, called Xsser mRAT, is the “first and most advanced, fully operational Chinese iOS trojan found to date.”

For better privacy, change these iOS 8 settings – Before you sync your iCloud or reinstall your apps, you need to lock down your iPhone or iPad. Here are seven important tweaks (and more) you can set to bolster your privacy.

Trend Micro to share threat information with Interpol – Security software provider Trend Micro will share its threat information analysis with global police agency Interpol for the next three years, in a bid to bridge the gap in information sharing between the public and private sectors.

Company News:

Facebook Is Just an ‘Ad Platform,’ Says CEO of Ad-Free Social Network ‘Ello’ – Ello, an ad-free, invitation-only social network, has been dubbed the “anti-Facebook” after its August launch, but even that characterization might be giving Facebook too much credit, according to Ello’s feisty CEO. “We don’t consider Facebook to be a competitor,” said Paul Budnitz in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “We consider them to be an advertising platform more than a social network.”

Germany orders Google to stop illegal user data processing – As part of an EU-wide crackdown on Google’s data collection practices, Germany has ordered the company to change its user data processing, which is in violation of the country’s laws. Google violates the German Federal Telemedia Act and the Federal Data Protection Act when it collects and combines user data, the Hamburg Commissioner of Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HmbBfDI) said Tuesday.Google was ordered to take the necessary technical and organizational measures to guarantee its users can decide on their own if, and to what extent, their data is used for profiling.

Reddit gets $50 million in funding and will share 10 percent of that with its users – The front page of the internet has a lot more money in the bank, with Reddit confirming $50 million in new funding. More interesting than the amount raised, however, was that investors promised 10 percent of their new equity in the company will be shared with community members, a highly unusual move. While the exact mechanics of how these shares will be distributed to users is not yet clear, lead investor Sam Altman told The Verge that it will most likely use a block chain method similar to the systems used to create and distribute Bitcoin.

eBay And PayPal To Split Into Two Separate Companies – eBay and PayPal are going their separate ways, with the payments company moving out from under the eBay umbrella to form its own, publicly-traded company. The move follows a strategic review conducted by eBay, Inc. and its Board of Directors, and is intended to help both businesses grow faster in their respective markets. The spin-out of PayPal is expected to be complete by the second half of 2015, provided all regulators sign-off on the agreement.

Microsoft will offer locally hosted cloud services in India – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wooed India’s government and banks on Tuesday with an offer to host cloud services including Azure and Office 365 in the country. The Indian government has been pushing organizations to hold data locally, and Nadella’s move could help drive business for the company from federal and state government customers, as well as banks. Microsoft will deliver the cloud services from data centers in three Indian cities by the end of 2015.

Games and Entertainment:

I’m not crazy (but I did buy a $450 HOTAS Warthog joystick) – Review: It’s everything you want in a joystick and throttle—but is it worth the cash?

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2048 and 6 Other Games to Help You Survive the Commute – There are so many games in the App Store and Google Play that it might be difficult to find the perfect match of an addictive, yet quick gameplay. But there are several games that are bound to make time fly by on your daily commute. Just remember to get off at your stop.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: A shadow of its own ambition – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s style, and its very existence, owe a lot to Warner Bros. and its other big licensed gaming series of the past few years: the Batman: Arkham games. Rather than push a license through excessive crunch time to coincide with a new movie, the Arkham model let Warner Bros. put the time into developing a game with an original story that would stand the test of time. The game draws both the evergreen franchise fanatics and those not automatically drawn to the license’s source material.

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Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments review: The definitive Sherlock adventure – The world’s most famous detective is back with a great set of mysteries as Frogwares’ Sherlock Holmes series just keeps getting better.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Survey finds fear, anxiety accompany forced Internet unplugging – It’s fairly common knowledge that Americans have a serious dependency on the Internet. But according to a new report released today by Tata Communications, that dependency is accompanied by some intense psychological and physical repercussions. In its “Connected World II” global survey, Tata Communications found that one in four Americans admit they wouldn’t survive more than five hours without using the Internet in their daily life, and more than half (54 percent) admitted feelings of fear, anger and anxiety when forced to unplug.

Bookstores, publishers sue to stop law against “revenge porn” – “Revenge porn” is a term that’s developed over the last few years to refer to the posting of nude images without the consent of those pictures. After a spate of publicity surrounding some of the bad actors in this business, several states have passed laws outlawing “revenge porn” and applying penalties. Now, a coalition of businesses and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a lawsuit (PDF) challenging the anti-revenge-porn laws. They’ve picked Arizona as their battleground. One of the lead lawyers on the case, Michael Bamberger, told the National Law Journal that Arizona’s law is “probably the most egregious,” because it has no requirement that the images even be malicious, and it could include images taken in a “commercial or public setting.” “This is a supposed revenge-porn statute that does not require revenge,” said Bamberger.

Cops suspect that alleged thieves monitored them with a drone – Pennsylvania authorities suspect that two men accused of stealing mobile phones were monitoring law enforcement. Local media reported Tuesday that when they were arrested last month, one of the two suspects was carrying a camera-equipped drone that police saw flying over the Upper Saucon Township’s police headquarters the day before the arrests.

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76 of 79 deceased NFL players’ brains had evidence of degenerative disease – New data from the United States’ largest repository of human brain samples has shown that an overwhelming majority of NFL players who submitted their brains for analysis after their death suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The Department of Veterans Affairs’ brain repository, based in Massachusetts, found that 76 of 79 former pro players had evidence of the condition, which can be caused by repeated head trauma.

Fascinating gif visualises the patterns of flight – A beautiful gif deconstructs the wing motions of a bat, a goose, a moth, a dragonfly and a hummingbird to reveal the looping patterns therein.

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Latest UK Study Reveals How Children Think Online and the Brands They Trust – The Office of Communications, commonly known as OfCom, the UK communication industry’s regulator and competition authority, recently released a report with Sherbert Research on children’s online behaviour, particularly how they think about and manage online risks and what sources online they trust. The purpose of the study is also to further understand how children display critical thinking online. In doing so, they aim to answer these two questions:

Something to think about:

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

–     William James

Today’s Free Downloads:

WSUS Offline Update 9.4.1 – WSUS Offline Update provides you with a secure way to update your operating system and Microsoft Office applications, creating a locally stored package that contains the latest patches and the most recent security updates. Thereby, you can use the downloaded files in order to perform system updates on any Windows machine in the absence of an Internet connection.

Focusing on functionality rather than looks, the application features a simplistic interface that only comprises a few options dedicated to customizing the downloading operation.

It supports various editions of the Windows operating system, namely Server 2003, XP, Visa, Server 2008, 2008 R2, Server 2012, 7, 8 and 8.1. As for the Office suite, it can download the latest updates for the 2007, 2010 or 2013 editions, in various languages.

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Ann Free Video Converter – Free easy to use and powerful video conversion tool from a leader in modern video compression. Almost all video formats can be converted. Ann Free Video Converter can freely convert all video formats to AVI, IPOD, PSP, MPEG, MOV, WMV, RMVB video files, and extract audio to MP3 files.

Features:

Super fast conversion speed and Video enhancement filters

User-friendly interface that is easy to use

Freely convert all formats to MPEG1/2 DVD,vcd,svcd

Freely convert all formats to PSP, IPOD

Freely convert all formats to mov

Freely convert all video formats to AVI/WMV/RMVB/Divx/Xvid

Convert video formats to popular MP3 audio files

Convert between all popular video formats including AVI, MPEG, WMV, MPEG1/2/4, MP4, DVD, VCD, SVCD, MOV, RM

Option to preview the video in real-time

High speed: Ann Video Converter includes Super Encode and Decode Engine, which is much faster than other encoding engines. It brings you an advanced and high speed converting experience. You do not need to wait hours and hours; it runs 300% – 500% real time speed.

High quality video and audio: All encoders/decoders are built in and video enhancement filters are included

Supports almost all popular format conversions

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US Attorney General latest to roast Apple, Google mobe encryption – Yet another US official has played the “think of the children” card, taking Apple and Google to task for implementing stronger encryption policies in their mobile platforms.

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said that child predators could use the encryption settings in mobile platforms to evade authorities and hide illegal images and content on their devices from law enforcement.

Holder, who didn’t list any companies by name, said that the new encryption policies were “worrisome” for law enforcement. Speaking to a meeting of the Global Alliance Conference Against Child Sexual Abuse Online, Holder stressed the idea of shutting down safe havens for child predators.

“We would hope that technology companies would be willing to work with us to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information in the course of an investigation, such as catching kidnappers and sexual predators,” Holder said.

#HeyASIO: Twitter hits back at new terror laws in Australia – A move to grant Australia’s security agency broad new powers has not scared the internet, with Twitter users mocking the changes mercilessly.

Last night, the Senate passed new laws to grant the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) power to, essentially, monitor the entire country’s internet usage with only one warrant.

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman and barrister Greg Barns has slammed the laws, saying the spy agency could do “an enormous amount under one warrant”.

Australia has no specific laws that protect privacy, so innocent people who may be monitored have “very little by way of redress in legal terms”.

Mr Barns told news.com.au the law had been drafted in “such a shoddy way” as to allow the agency to spy on as many as five million Australians with one warrant.

“Effectively it’s zero for the internet user and 10 for ASIO. We think it’s of enormous concern,” he said. The internet has hit back in its own way, with the hashtag #HeyASIO trending in Australia. (recommended by Mal C.)

Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression? – According to most of the broadsheets, if there is a Conservative government after the next General Election, the European Court of Human Rights will no longer be able to overrule British courts.

Under plans unveiled today at the Conservative Conference, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is expected to state that a future Conservative government will introduce laws ensuring that human rights cases are determined by Britain’s Supreme Court and not judges sitting in Strasbourg.

This is the Conservative response to an agonised cry: “Who will rid me of that troublesome law?” (and replace it with… well, we don’t know yet).

The dangers of this approach can be considered by reference to the DNA database and the case of Marper v UK, which provides a timely example of Mr. Grayling’s policy at work. This case was considered by the House of Lords, which judged that there was no human rights breach if the police indefinitely retained personal data that represented the DNA profile of a data subject – even when the data subject had not been found guilty of an offence.

The House of Lords judgment was overturned unanimously by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in S and Marper v UK; it was a 17-0 victory for Marper. This has resulted in the changes in UK law identified in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and now the DNA database focuses on the guilty.

However, if Mr. Grayling’s proposed policy of preventing appeals to the ECHR were in place, then DNA on the innocent would still be stored on police databases. It is as simple as that.

Hong Kong protesters side step censors with mesh networks – Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’re likely aware of the massive protests taking place in Hong Kong. What you might be less aware of is the effort being put in to keeping afloat despite censorship efforts: the protestors have started using mesh networks to get around attempts to shut them down.

FireChat has been used in some protests in the past, but has seen its first massive-scale use during the Hong Kong protests, with users taking advantage of the service to get around blocked and overloaded networks. It works in much the same way a protest does — every device becomes a little piece of the overall network, and the more devices near each other using it, the stronger the network grows.

The Central region of Hong Kong has remained full despite police attempts to prod the protesters away, including violent measures like tear gas. Umbrellas have had an iconic presence in the protest, earning it the term the Umbrella Revolution. In light of its failed efforts, the Chinese government has taken to censoring media outlets.

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