Monthly Archives: January 2015

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 21, 2015

6 Tech Issues Obama’s State of the Union Pledged to Tackle;  5 Surefire Signs That Craigslist Ad is Fake;  NFL Super Bowl XLIX will be live streamed for free;  5 iPhone Apps You Just Can’t Miss This Week;  Doctors Rate the 100 Best Health Apps;  Sharebox3D Lets You Share 3D Printers With Friends, Family;  A Mac tech support handbook;  Field Trip: the Google map app you never knew you wanted;  10 Android Apps Actually Worth Paying For;  The 15 best Chromebook keyboard shortcuts;  How to restore File Explorer to your taskbar;  HealthCare.gov sends personal data to Twitter, Yahoo and Google;  RogueKiller (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

6 Tech Issues Obama’s State of the Union Pledged to Tackle – President Obama’s Tuesday State of the Union address was not as tech-heavy as in years past, but the tech community was not completely left out. Obama spent much of last week discussing tech-related issues, from municipal broadband to international coordination on cyber threats. Here’s what the president said tonight about the open Internet, surveillance, combating hackers, and more.

 Surefire Signs That Craigslist Ad is Fake – If the Internet is like the Wild West, Craigslist is one of its most lawless saloons. How do you know what is fake, and what is real anymore online? Fortunately, when it comes to Craigslist, there are several helpful signs to help you figure it out.

Obama privacy plan has two audiences, and could fail both – If history and initial reaction are any gauge, privacy advancements will have to come from somewhere besides the Oval Office or Congress. Obama’s proposals just don’t present much new from his previous plans. Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in his blog with regards to a new federal data breach law that “many of these proposals are old ideas from the administration’s May 2011 Cybersecurity legislative proposal and should be viewed skeptically.”

DEA settles fake Facebook profile lawsuit without admitting wrongdoing – The woman, who at the time went under the name Sondra Prince, eventually was sentenced to probation and six months of home confinement. The DEA created a phony Facebook profile in her name and maintained it for at least three months in 2010 in a bid to nab other suspects connected to an alleged drug ring. At one point in the litigation, the government said the counterfeit account was for “legitimate law enforcement purposes.”

Doctors Rate the 100 Best Health Apps – What health apps do doctors actually recommend? That’s what a new report from telehealth platform HealthTap sought to uncover, in categories from weight loss and women’s health to heart health and aerobics. The report used doctors’ recommendations from HealthTap to rank the top 100 health apps, separately for Android and iOS, as well as find the top apps in 30 specific health categories. According to the company, it is the first and only comprehensive ranking of health apps based on the professional recommendations by independent, leading U.S. doctors.

NFL Super Bowl XLIX will be live streamed for free – Cord-cutters will be able to watch this year’s entire Super Bowl via a live stream hosted by NBC. Those in the United States will be able to watch the Super Bowl via web browser on their PC, tablet or mobile phone. Web and tablet streaming will be free to all as a special promotional push to promote NBC’s TV Everywhere service, but in order to enjoy it on a smartphone, devices must be subscribed to Verizon Wireless, which has an exclusive agreement for live streaming NFL games on mobile devices.

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5 iPhone Apps You Just Can’t Miss This Week – It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found five apps actually worth downloading.

Every Khan Academy course is now available on the iPad for the first time – Two technology trends are inescapable: people want to do everything online, and they want to do those things on a mobile device. Education and learning are no exception — online universities and other teaching aids have proliferated in the last decade, and tablets like the iPad have often been lauded as highly useful (albeit expensive) teaching tools. Not-for-profit organization Khan Academy has the first part of that equation down — it was started in 2008 to provide learning tools, videos, and exercises to anyone who wanted them, for free.

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10 Android Apps Actually Worth Paying For – It’s not like apps are that expensive—very rarely do they go north of the $5 mark. And consider that these apps are, in many cases, so much more useful than the software of the PC era that would regularly cost $40 and $50. Really, when you think about it, apps—truly worthwhile apps—are some of the best bargains available. The alternative is barf-inducing mobile ads or sly freemium models that prey on the ignorant. Everybody wins when you are willing to shell out a little for the apps you use every day. Here we present 10 apps available for download in Google Play that are completely worth the tiny cost of entry.

The 15 best Chromebook keyboard shortcuts for faster productivity – Chrome has a few of Windows’s old reliable tricks, and then it has even more. Learn its tricks and fly through your apps and browser tabs like a pro.

How to restore File Explorer to your taskbar – Much as I’m not a fan of Windows 8, I do appreciate the by-default availability of File Explorer right where I can get at it. Ah, but what happens if Explorer goes missing? That happened to me not long ago, for reasons I can’t explain. (My snide explanation: because Windows!) A bit of Web research revealed I’m not alone in experiencing this mysterious disappearance.

A Mac tech support handbook – I’ve put together an essential foundation document for Mac users who may sometimes try to help support friends and family. In this report you’ll learn: The three ‘R’s’; Essential startup keys; Using Disk Utility; 6+ utilities you should install; How to create a bootable USB drive; Recommended kit; Further reading.

Facebook News Feed changes could prevent you from looking foolish – Facebook is more than just a social network. For many, it’s their primary source of news content, making their news feed much more than updates from family and friends. Sometimes, you come across content that appears real, but it’s quickly recognized as a ‘hoax’ story. In their ongoing attempt to end the clickbait, Facebook is now allowing us to report hoax posts. Facebook’s algorithm also takes into account how many delete the post, which will drive the ‘hoax’ down in the distribution rankings.

Field Trip: the Google map app you never knew you wanted – Field Trip has been around now for a while – have you heard of it? It’s a Niantic Labs project at Google, one that aims to bring you automatic suggestions for places to visit near where you’re physically standing at any given moment. While it may be included with the basic build of Android at some time in the future, for now you’re still going to have to download it. Field Trip has gotten a large bump in aesthetic beauty and in ease in use. It’s simple now, and ready to roll on your Android smartphone immediately.

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Mouse Box hides a wireless PC inside a mouse – This is Mouse Box, and as you can tell from the pair of USB 3.0 ports on the front of the render it’s not just another input device. There’s an entire PC hidden beneath that inconspicuous-looking shell. The Mouse Box team has opted for a quad-core ARM processor clocked at 1.4GHz to power the system. 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity will come as standard, as will 128GB of internal storage.

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Sharebox3D Lets You Share 3D Printers With Friends, Family, Enemies – The folks behind Sharebot, a simple 3D printer, have taken to Indiegogo to introduce Sharebox3D, a system for sharing 3D printers with remote users. The app, which works on smartphones and tablets, allows you to choose a model and print it just as you would print a document on a 2D printer. The app lets you store model files (STLs) and slice them on the fly, turning them into models that a 3D printer can then print. When connected to a compatible printer you can also activate prints and monitor them as they happen via webcam and notifications.

Seek XR thermal smartphone camera brings optical zoom – This past September, Seek Thermal introduced its Seek camera for smartphones, which gives the handsets the ability to look at the world around them based on its heat levels. Keeping in step with its biggest competitor, FLIR ONE, Seek has now introduced a new updated thermal camera called the Seek XR, and with it comes a boost in functionality via the inclusion of optical zoom. This increases the camera’s usefulness for those who, for example, use the camera for spotting wildlife at night rather than just scanning a wall for water pipes.

 

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Pointing up   I can’t image how this tool could be used to invade privacy. I just don’t have the imagination for it, I guess.   Smile

Here’s how much those ‘free’ Windows licenses actually cost – It’s no secret that Microsoft is practically giving Windows 8.1 licenses away to tablet vendors, but now we know exactly how much the company makes.

After death threats, Gamergate target starts group to fight online harassment – Zoe Quinn, a game developer harassed by the Gamergate movement, has co-founded an organization aimed at combatting online abuse and helping victims. The organization offers counseling to victims and proactively warns potential targets of abuse. Crash Override Network, which launched on Friday, also helps victims rebuild their online presence and works with law enforcement and media outlets to reduce attackers’ effectiveness. The group didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Six tips for fitting Word content on a single page – You’ve probably spent a lot of time perfecting the formats you use in your Word documents, so changing those to force content to fit on a single page is often counter-productive. Instead, try these simple tips to force overflowing content onto a single page. Start by applying the tips in order — proceed down the list, only if needed. You’ll seldom use more than one or two of these tips in the same document. Being familiar with the possibilities is the key to getting the right results every time.

Security:

HealthCare.gov sends personal data to Twitter, Yahoo and Google – Information entered into the U.S. government’s health insurance website is being passed to companies such as Twitter, Yahoo and Google, according to a report from the Associated Press. The data includes zip codes, income levels and information about whether people smoke or are pregnant, which users share on HealthCare.gov to get an estimate on the cost of an insurance plan. The AP’s findings were confirmed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which conducted its own tests on Tuesday, said Cooper Quintin, an EFF staff technologist, in a phone interview.

This List Of 2014’s Worst Passwords, Including ‘123456,’ Is Embarrassing – The year 2014, in many respects, was all about digital security. It wasn’t just tech pundits or early adopters who were victimized – Snapchat, Target, and Sony Entertainment all showed us that no one is immune. And don’t get me started on the NSA. It’s our responsibility as internet explorers to protect ourselves. But according to SplashData’s yearly list of the worst passwords on the internet (as compiled by more than 3 million leaked passwords from 2014), we are kind of lazy about the whole “digital security” thing. At least when it comes to properly locking the gates with a strong password. Seriously. Just take a look at the full list:

Pointing up   Give me a break – analyzing password frequency in this manner means zilch. An analysis in which passwords are correlated to the type of account they represent, would have more value. This article is meaningless without this data.

Does it really matter if my password to post on my friendly lunatic fringe newspaper is 12345? What does matter, is the strength and complexity of those passwords used to protect financial and personal data accounts.

Google and more join pledge to protect student data – Both Khan Academy and Google, as well as thirteen others, have joined the growing list of companies pledging to protect students’ privacy. President Obama spoke about the pledge last week, and before doing so several companies including Apple and Microsoft had signed. A total of 75 companies had signed last week, and Google and Amazon were both criticized for not doing so. On Monday, 15 new companies — including Khan Academy and Google — jumped aboard. This follows the administration’s increased push for data security.

This tool makes it easier for thieves to empty bank accounts – Called FraudFox VM, the software is a special version of Windows with a heavily modified version of the Firefox browser that runs on VMware’s Workstation for Windows or VMware Fusion on OSX. It’s for sale on Evolution, the successor to the Silk Road online contraband market, for 1.8 bitcoins, which is about $390. What FraudFox aims to do is make it faster and easier to change a browser’s fingerprint to one that matches that of the victim whose account they’re going to exploit, or simply mix up their own digital crumbs when browsing. It’s not a new tool per se, and more advanced cybercriminals may already know the techniques, but FraudFox consolidates the functions.

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Wireless device in two million cars wide open to hacking – An electronic dongle used to connect to the onboard diagnostic systems of more than two million cars and trucks contains few defenses against hacking, an omission that makes them vulnerable to wireless attacks that take control of a vehicle, according to published reports. US-based Progressive Insurance said it has used the SnapShot device in more than two million vehicles since 2008. The dongle tracks users’ driving to help determine if they qualify for lower rates. According to security researcher Corey Thuen, it performs no validation or signing of firmware updates, has no secure boot mechanism, no cellular communications authentication, and uses no secure communications protocols.

Company News:

Viacom and ESPN fined for using emergency alert tones to advertise movie – Viacom and ESPN must pay $1.4 million to the government as punishment for airing a movie commercial that misused Emergency Alert System (EAS) warning tones. The commercial for the 2013 film Olympus Has Fallen (see video below) used actual emergency alert tones along with messages such as “This is not a test” and “This is not a drill.” The Federal Communications Commission prohibits transmission of actual or simulated EAS tones except during real emergencies or authorized tests.

Dish found not to infringe Fox’s copyright by letting users stream programs – A federal court in California has ruled that Dish Network did not infringe the copyright of Fox Broadcasting by offering users services for skipping ads and streaming live or recorded programming over the Internet to their computers and mobile devices. Referring to a Supreme Court ruling on Aereo, a now defunct service which streamed broadcast television programming to subscribers, Judge Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that Aereo neither owned the copyright to the broadcast works nor held a license from the copyright owners to perform those works publicly.

Microsoft has acquired Equivio – Microsoft has announced its acquisition of Equivio, a known text analysis company. Equivio is widely used by U.S. federal agencies and hundreds of law firms, corporations and other organizations. Furthermore, it is also generally accepted as an important eDiscovery tool which allows Equivio customers to find relevant data from a large database, sort and compile this data, isolate it and help them to efficiently identify the documents they need.

Petition: Time Warner Cable mistreats customers, shouldn’t merge with Comcast – Time Warner Cable (TWC) has mistreated its customers for decades and should face a wide-ranging investigation as part of its proposed merger with Comcast, a new complaint to the Federal Communications Commission says. Telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick of New Networks Institute, who recently petitioned the FCC to investigate Verizon for perjury, is now taking aim at TWC’s billing practices and customer service.

Netflix Beats The Street In Q4 By Adding 4.3M New Streaming Subscribers Worldwide – The company reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.35 per share on revenues of $1.48 billion during the final three months of the year. That compares to Wall Street’s earnings forecast of 45 cents a share on revenue of $1.48 billion. Revenues were up from $1.18 billion a year ago, while earnings were up from 79 cents per share. For the full year, Netflix reported earnings of $4.32 per share on revenues of $5.5 billion. That compares to $1.85 per share in earnings and revenues of $4.4 billion in fiscal 2013.

Games and Entertainment:

Watch the best of The Hobbit trilogy in this 4-hour recut – A group of merry men bring along a naive hobbit and travel for long spans of time in a quest for treasure. Whether we’re speaking broadly about The Hobbit or cynically about Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit film trilogy is intentionally open for interpretation. In either case, one superfan did the time-crunched world a favor by condensing the three films (An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of Five Armies) into one four-and-a-half-hour supercut. I have a soft spot for fan recuts. But anyway, back to The Hobbit recut. This “good parts” (re)creation has been uploaded the world wide web via torrents (which we’re not linking). Dear anonymous Tolkien editor: kudos and thank you.

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Borderlands is finally coming to PS4 and Xbox One – Today 2K Games announced the new Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, which will bundle Borderlands 2 and the recently launched Pre-Sequel, along with all of their DLC add-ons, into one package for PS4 and Xbox One. The whole thing will cost you $59.99, a pretty nice discount compared to buying everything individually.

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Microsoft dates three exclusive Xbox downloadable games – Microsoft has revealed release dates for three upcoming exclusive downloadable games for its Xbox consoles, with each title slated for release within three months. Following these original games, Microsoft plans to bring a remake of “State of Decay,” a popular open-world zombie action game for the Xbox 360, to Xbox One on April 28. The re-release, officially called the “Year-One Survival Edition,” will come with all the original game’s content as well as both of its expansions. As Microsoft revealed in August, the remake will also improve the game’s visuals, with new animations and a 1080p resolution.

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Plex Arrives On PS4 And PS3 In The U.S And Canada Today – Plex on PlayStation gives you access to all the TVs and movies you have stored on your primary Plex server, and allows you to pick up where you left off on other platforms, as well as see your On Deck queue and of course have a look at ratings, summaries, cast information and more for all your stored media. The one limitation is that at launch, Plex on PlayStation consoles is available only to Plex Pass subscribers, with a rollout to non-paying Plex users planned for later (with a one-time purchase price for the app itself).

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Two Xbox designers are blowing up Kickstarter with Exploding Kittens – A new card game designed by two Xbox folks and Matthew Inman from the Oatmeal is taking Kickstarter by storm. Called Exploding Kittens it raised its funding goal in less that 20 minutes.

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Steam broadcasting is here for everyone; Twitch beware – The latest version of Steam, available to everyone, is bringing the new broadcasting feature to all players. Those wanting to try it out can hit the “check for update” button right now. While the previous version of broadcasting was available in the beta client, the latest update to Steam which was released last night brings broadcasting to everyone. To try it out all you have to do is update Steam, find a friend that’s online and playing something, right click and select “Watch Game”. If your friend accepts you’ll start seeing his or her gameplay.

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Netflix adds The Interview on Jan 24; Pushes original content – Netflix will add controversial Sony Pictures movie The Interview to its virtual shelves on January 24th, it’s confirmed, while the streaming media firm’s first original feature film will debut on August 26th. The Seth Rogen and James Franco movie made a sudden appearance on pay-per-view at Christmas, but will be bundled in with an active Netflix subscription for US and Canadian users from this Saturday, the company announced today.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 simple gadgets that empower women around the world – An overwhelming amount of data shows empowering women leads to stronger, healthier, smarter communities. Technology is spreading faster than ever and empowering people around the world, but women have much less access to it than men. And simple technology that allows women safer circumstances, more power, and healthier food and water can make all the difference. Here are 10 simple gadgets that transform the way women live and work around the globe.

This striking short video will rekindle your love affair with the moon – It might be only eight minutes long, but a new European Space Agency video takes you all the way from the moon’s “cataclysm” to its future.

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UK’s best-selling newspaper ends 40-year practice of topless Page 3 models – British tabloid The Sun has quietly discontinued one of the most controversial so-called traditions of UK journalism: the Page 3 feature, which has published photos of topless models on the inside page of the “family newspaper” since 1970. Although the newspaper has not acknowledged the change, The Times reported that it understood that last Friday’s edition of The Sun was “the last that will carry an image of a glamour model with bare breasts on that page.” A spokesman for the paper, which has a circulation of just under 2 million and is the UK’s best-selling daily, tweeted that page three would be “in the same place it’s always been — between page 2 and 4.”

Facebook supports 4.5 million jobs worldwide, social network says – A Facebook-commissioned study says the world’s largest social network is making a tsunami-sized splash on the global economy. According to the study, conducted by Deloitte, Facebook added $227 billion to the global economy and helped to support 4.5 million jobs around the world in 2014. Released on Tuesday, the study says that $100 billion of the economic impact affects the US, where Facebook also helped to support more than 1 million jobs. It lists the UK as the second-biggest benefactor of Facebook in 2014, receiving $11 billion in economic impact and 154,000 Facebook-supported jobs.

Something to think about:

“A runners creed: I will win; if I cannot win, I shall be second; if I cannot be second, I shall be third; if I cannot place at all, I shall still do my best.”

–     Ken Doherty

Today’s Free Downloads:

RogueKiller – RogueKiller is an anti-malware program written in C++ and able to detect and remove generic malwares and some advanced threats such as rootkits, rogues, worms…

Based on generic ways to find malwares by their behaviour (heuristics), on classic anti-malware analysis (signature finding) and on undocumented hacks, RogueKiller can find/remove most of the basic malwares (rogues, trojans, …) and some advanced threats like ZeroAccess or TDSS that behave more like rootkits.

Here’s a little summary of what RogueKiller is able to do:

Kill malicious processes

Stop malicious services

Unload malicious DLLs from processes

Find/Kill malicious hidden processes

Find and remove malicious autostart entries, including :

1: Registry keys (RUN/RUNONCE, …)

2: Tasks Scheduler (1.0/2.0)

3: Startup folders

Find and remove registry hijacks, including :

1: Shell / Load entries

2: Extension association hijacks

3: DLL hijacks

4: Many, many others …

Read / Fix DNS Hijacks (DNS Fix button)

Read / Fix Proxy Hijacks (Proxy Fix button)

Read / Fix Hosts Hijacks (Hosts Fix button)

Restore shortcuts / files hidden by rogues of type “Fake HDD“

Read / Fix malicious Master Boot Record (MBR), even hidden behind rootkit

List / Fix SSDT – Shadow SSDT – IRP Hooks (Even with inline hooks)

Find and restore system files patched / faked by a rootkit

MajorGeek says: We don’t really need a review here. If you’re a tech, you know what this tool does and it’s already in your toolbox. For the rest of you, Roguekiller is a popular, effective tool to remove some stubborn malware but be warned; you better know what you’re doing. While a lot of more well-known tools will simply scan and delete for you, this tool will show you everything it finds that is a possible problem. You need to know what to remove and what not to remove.

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Screen shot from a personal system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama’s cyber proposals sound good, but erode information security – The State of the Union address President Obama delivers tonight will include a slate of cyber proposals crafted to sound like timely government protections in an era beset by villainous hackers.

They would in theory help the government and private sector share hack data more effectively; increase penalties for the most troubling forms of hacking; and require better notification of people when their personal data has been stolen.

But if you cut through the spin, it turns out that the steps Obama is proposing would likely erode, rather than strengthen, information security for citizens and computer experts trying to protect them. Consider:

There’s plenty of sharing of data on cyber threats already and no reason to think that the Sony Pictures hack or any of the other major recent cyber attacks could have been averted with more. What Obama is proposing would, by contrast, give companies that have terrible security practices a pass in the form of liability protection from regulatory or civil action based on the information they disclose, while potentially allowing widespread distribution of personal data that should be private.

The increased penalties for hacking Obama is proposing could punish people who have only briefly rubbed shoulders with hackers as full-fledged members of a criminal enterprise, and criminalize “white-hat” hacking.

And Obama’s federal standards for when companies have to report that customers’ data has been stolen would actually overturn tougher standards in many states.

“There’s nothing that he would propose that would do anything to actually improve cybersecurity,” says Chris Soghoian, the principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. “That’s a problem.”

Increased gov spy powers are NOT the way to stay safe against terrorism – As various unsavoury characters scrabble to grab the limelight after the Charlie Hebdo mass murders in Paris, the British government is using the atrocities to justify yet more intrusive snooping powers to use against ordinary people.

The Home Secretary told Parliament that because the French authorities might have used communications data, Brits should roll over and accept her Snoopers’ Charter.

May said:

It is too soon to say for certain, but it is highly probable that communications data were used in the Paris attacks to locate the suspects and establish the links between the two attacks. Quite simply, if we want the police and the security services to protect the public and save lives, they need this capability.

But the Home Sec fails to make a clear case for legalising the domestic spying activities of GCHQ – which, lest we forget, is actively aided and abetted by the ex-Cable & Wireless division of Vodafone.

She doesn’t stop at raising a theoretical question as if it was proven fact. May wants the entire country to believe that it’s impossible to investigate and prosecute crime without the ability to snoop on each and every one of us, without prior suspicion, and to retrospectively rifle through our digital communication history in the hope of finding something to pin on you. Everyone’s guilty of something, after all.

Obama talks cybersecurity, but Federal IT system breaches increasing – President Barack Obama urged Congress and the American public to embrace cyber security legislation during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA, was unveiled by Obama a week ago and is controversial because it allows companies to share cyber threat information with the Department of Homeland Security—data that might include their customers’ private information.

New research out earlier Tuesday from George Mason University, however, calls into question how effective Obama’s proposal would be. That’s because the federal government’s IT professionals as a whole have “a poor track record in maintaining good cybersecurity and information-sharing practices.” What’s more, the federal bureaucracy “systematically” fails to meet its own federal cybersecurity standards despite billions of dollars in funding.

The RCMP Spent $1.6 Million to Run an Unconstitutional Spying Program – Canada’s federal police continued to snoop on Canadians’ cellphones and computers for at least a month after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, new documents prove.

Financial records obtained by VICE through the Access to Information Act show the extent to which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) used federal legislation to obtain information on Canadians from all major phone companies without warrants. Instead, police paid small fees for each of these requests.

The Supreme Court ruled that practise illegal in its June 13, 2014, decision on R. v. Spencer, writing that police need judicial authorization before making those sorts of requests.

However, the records show Telus and Bell both continued to fork over Canadians’ information even after that decision was handed down.

Illinois law allows schools to demand students’ Facebook passwords – Illinois can’t seem ever to decide whether it’s the home of midwestern niceness or of the most draconian humans this side of Moscow.

One of the state’s newest laws, for example, may have goodness at its heart. However, it may have something else in various of its extremities.

The law, which came into effect on January 1, is designed to curb cyberbullying, but it also could encourage schools to pry into students’ personal lives.

KTVI-TV reported that the law was already making some parents deeply uncomfortable. That’s because one of its stipulations is troubling.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 21, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 20, 2015

iPhone users: How your government spies on you;  The essential guide to buying a HomePlug Ethernet adapter;  You Asked: What Is Bluetooth?  How to set Windows desktop items as public or private;  Five handy apps for booking a ride;  9 moviemaking apps;  Evernote apps: Hands-on with its handiest homegrown tools;  Fedora 21 review: Linux’s sprawliest distro finds a new focus;  Has The Antivirus Industry Gone Mad?!  Here’s How To Go Completely Paperless This Year;  Adventure Time Game Wizard: DIY game building;  Obama backs Cameron’s fight against encryption;  Security problems need to be made public: Linus Torvalds.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

People are increasingly worried about privacy and lax legal protections – In 11 of the 12 countries surveyed as part of a report published by Microsoft on Monday, respondents said that technology’s effect on privacy was mostly negative. Most concerned were people in Japan and France, where 68 percent of the respondents thought technology has had a mostly negative impact on privacy. A majority want better legal protections and say the rights of Internet users should be governed by local laws irrespective of where companies are based.

iPhone users: How your government spies on you – The iPhone is by far the most secure device around. But please don’t be complacent, as criminals, governments and criminal governments work really hard to subvert device security, no back door required. Now Der Spiegel has revealed additional techniques in its latest leak from Edward Snowden, a GCHQ document called “iPhone target analysis and exploitation with unique device identifiers.” This shows agencies have been using device UDID numbers to help them keep track of individuals who may have hit their surveillance lists. These surveillance lists seem rather extensive: In 2012, activist hackers from AntiSec published 1,000,001 UDIDs, saying these were extracted from a list of 12 million UDID numbers they had stolen from the FBI.

You Asked: What Is Bluetooth? – Bluetooth is a radio signal engineered to jump around between 42 different channels, hundreds of times per second, making it less likely it would interfere with Wi-Fi networks or cordless phones. In addition, that frequency-hopping also helps to make Bluetooth connections very secure. On top of that, the technology has government-grade encryption baked into it, making it nearly impossible to hack.

The essential guide to buying a HomePlug Ethernet adapter (including 6 hands-on reviews) – Wi-Fi may be the most popular networking technology, but sometimes even the fastest wireless connection just doesn’t hack it. Perhaps the signal can’t get to the farthest reaches of your home or office, or maybe there are so many wireless networks competing for limited bandwidth that the Netflix movie you’re streaming keeps freezing or stuttering. Ethernet is still the gold standard for wired networks, but few people have the cabling built into their walls, and even fewer are willing to tear up their walls to install it. Fortunately, you probably already have all the infrastructure you need to set up a wired network: The electrical circuitry in most homes and small offices can do the job. All you need to set up a power-line network are small adapters that plug into any wall outlet and connect via a cable to the Ethernet port of a network device.

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Five handy apps for booking a ride – You don’t have to unleash an earsplitting whistle to hail a cab. These smartphone apps offer a simple (and quieter) way to arrange a ride. Before we get started, I want to pass along one bit of advice: It’s a good idea to check the geographic service area prior to downloading an app. Many of the apps that are available work only in specific countries or specific cities.

How to set Windows desktop items as public or private – Desktop sharing and privacy is actually pretty simple, but it’s not well known. Unless you know the trick, you can’t control which items will appear only on your desktop, and which will appear on everyone’s desktop. The shortcuts and other files that show up on the desktop do so because they’re in a Desktop folder. (And yes, shortcuts are files—small files that point to other files.) But your PC has more than one Desktop folder, and therein lies the trick of creating public and private desktop shortcuts.

How dating app Grindr makes it easy to stalk 5 million gay men – Mobile dating apps have revolutionized the pursuit of love and sex by allowing people not only to find like-minded mates but to identify those who are literally right next door, or even in the same bar, at any given time. That convenience is a double-edge sword, warn researchers. To prove their point, they exploited weaknesses in Grindr, a dating app with more than five million monthly users, to identify users and construct detailed histories of their movements. As a result, geographic locations of Grindr users in the US and most other places can be tracked down to the very park bench where they happen to be having lunch or bar where they’re drinking and monitored almost continuously, according to research scheduled to be presented Saturday at the Shmoocon security conference in Washington, DC. Grindr officials declined to comment for this post beyond what they said in posts here and here published more than four months ago.

Evernote apps: Hands-on with its handiest homegrown tools – Evernote is a note taker, a Web clipper, and most recently, a collaboration tool. Evernote also offers a handful of apps that tack extra talents onto the cloud service. We’ll delve into the raft of third-party Evernote apps in future columns, but for now, let’s look at the home-grown offerings, starting with one that’s just for photos.

The pplkpr App Wants To Tell You Which Friends Are Better To Hang With – Don’t know how you feel about someone in your life? By pairing a heart rate monitor with the pplkpr iOS app, you could soon find out. The app pairs up with any Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor to track your physical response around certain people in your life. Biofeedback from those devices log reactions such as joy, anger, sadness, and then uploads what it determines to be those emotional reactions to the app. pplkpr then decides if certain people stress you out or help calm you down and suggests un-friending, avoiding or blocking negative people. It can also delete contacts it determines to be bad for you.

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9 moviemaking apps – Do you picture yourself as an iPhone filmmaker, an Android auteur? In awards season, we sit back and critique other people’s films, and if those Golden Globes and Oscar nominees have inspired or irritated you — or if you simply want to level up from shooting home videos — take a shot at making your own movie. We’ve scouted nine affordable, time-saving, feature-rich apps to help you script, storyboard, shoot, and edit.

Fedora 21 review: Linux’s sprawliest distro finds a new focus – Like most Linux distros, Fedora is a massive, sprawling project. Frankly, it’s sprawl-y to the point that it has felt unfocused and a bit lost at times. Just what is Fedora? The distro has served as a kind of showcase for GNOME 3 ever since GNOME 3 hit the beta stage. So Fedora in theory is meant to target everyday users, but at the same time the project pours tremendous energy into building developer tools like DevAssistant. Does that make Fedora a developer distro? A newbie-friendly GNOME showcase? A server distro? An obscure robotics distro? Today, the answer to all the above questions is “yes.” And the way to make sense of it all is what Fedora calls Fedora.Next.

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GNOME’s Software app in Fedora 21.

How to teach contact names and relationships to Siri and Google Now – Help Google Now and Siri sift through your contacts faster by by assigning special names and relationships to your most important or frequent contacts.

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Facebook to add voice transcription to Messenger – Facebook has announced that it is trying out its voice to text product in Messenger with selected users before rolling it out across the platform.

Here’s How To Go Completely Paperless This Year – The first month of 2015 is quickly coming to a close, but if you’ve already tossed aside your New Year’s resolution of cutting back on paper, it’s not to late to grab it before it flies away. In fact, the time has never been better: your first bills of the year are starting to trickle in, and tax time is just about to begin. These five tech-fueled tips can help you to organize your statements, wrangle your receipts, and electronically file your personal documents, so you can cut paper out of your daily routine, now and forever.

Security:

Oracle E-Business suite wide open to database attack – Clear some time in you diary and drink an extra coffee, sysadmins: a top hacker has warned that Oracle will tomorrow patch a horror bug that needs urgent attention. Datacom TSS hacker David Litchfield told The Reg he has reported to Oracle that versions of its E-Business suite contain a “major” misconfiguration flaw that allowed anyone to fully compromise the database server. Litchfield told The Reg that the hole is a “real doozy” that could not be explained by Oracle. “The technical details are that the PUBLIC role has been granted the INDEX privilege on the DUAL table owned by SYS,” Litchfield told Vulture South.

Has The Antivirus Industry Gone Mad?! – We have seen a concerning trend that is about to spiral out of control: Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) are further on the rise. What’s even more concerning is how they are spreading. After big vendors as Oracle (Java) and Microsoft (Bing and Skype) started bundling, now antivirus vendors have joined the game. We did research on some of the most popular PUP practices among the freeware antivirus vendors, and the results are quite disturbing. PUPs want to get on your computer to make money off of you First, lets quickly recap what PUPs are and why they’re spreading like wildfire.

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Two big bugs in VLC media player’s core library – A Turkish hacker has revealed two zero-day vulnerabilities in library code used by the popular VLC media player and others. The data execution prevention (CVE-2014-9597) and write access (CVE-2014-9598) violation vulnerabilities could lead to arbitrary code execution, researcher Veysel Hatas said in a post. “VLC Media Player contains a flaw that is triggered as user-supplied input is not properly sanitised when handling a specially crafted FLV” or M2V file, Hatas said. “This may allow a context-dependent attacker to corrupt memory and potentially execute arbitrary code.” He said both were high severity holes. Version 2.2.0-rc2, available to testers, is not vulnerable, according to the VLC project’s bug tracker.

Microsoft Outlook Hacked In China, New Report Finds – Only a few weeks after Google’s Gmail service was blocked in China, a new report from online censorship monitoring organization GreatFire.org released this morning states that Microsoft’s email system Outlook was recently subjected to a “man-in-the-middle” attack in China. This is a form of eavesdropping where the attacker inserts himself in between the victims’ connections, relaying messages between them while the victims’ continue believe they have a secure, private connection. Meanwhile, the attacker is able to read all the content they’re sharing. The attack continued for a about a day, and has since stopped, the report states.

U.S. Hacked North Korea Before North Korea Hacked U.S. – Ever wonder why President Obama so quickly and sure-footedly accused North Korea of hacking into Sony servers? Turns out, the United States had actually hacked into North Korean computer networks back in 2010, giving the government more confidence in their determination of the situation. This begs the question: why wasn’t the NSA able to prevent the Sony hack altogether?

NSA: We’re in YOUR BOTNET – The NSA quietly commandeered a botnet targeting US Defence agencies to attack other victims including Chinese and Vietnamese dissidents, Snowden documents reveal. The “Boxingrumble” botnet was detected targeting the Defence Department’s Nonsecure Internet Protocol Router Network prompting NSA bods to redirect the attack to a server operated by the Tailored Access Operations unit. A DNS spoofing attack tricked the botnet into treating the spies as trusted command and control agents. The NSA then used the bot’s hooks into other victims to foist its own custom malware.

Company News:

How much does Microsoft make from PC makers with Windows 8.1? – Microsoft is making Windows 8.1 available to its PC partners for anywhere from ‘zero dollars’ to $15 per copy, according to recently disclosed OEM licensing information.

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Amazon is going to produce its own movies and release them in theaters – On Monday Amazon said it would begin to produce and acquire feature films for theatrical release that it would then stream on Amazon Prime four to eight weeks after the theatrical debut. Amazon said its goal was to cut down the 39 to 52 weeks it usually takes for theatrical releases to make it to streaming services. Amazon, for its own part, said it planned to produce 12 movies a year. The new model will challenge not only the entertainment industry, whose customers have grown to expect long windows between a movie’s release and its availability on other mediums, but also its own competitors in the content streaming space. Netflix is the most well-known streaming service that also produces its own original content.

Google said close to $1bn SpaceX investment – Google is reportedly near to splashing a considerable amount of cash on SpaceX, Elon Musk’s ambitious space exploration company, as part of a funding round that would value the company at more than $10bn. SpaceX has already begun running unmanned resupply missions to the International Space Station, and is currently testing reusable rocket technology that could potentially slash the cost of putting people, satellites, and other cargo into orbit, or even further beyond, such as a manned mission to Mars that Musk continues to promise. According to insiders, with Google’s own space plans stumbling, the next best thing is a slice of SpaceX.

Twitter Confirms Acquisition Of India’s Missed Call Marketing Platform ZipDial – Last week TechCrunch reported Twitter was in final talks to acquire ZipDial for between $30 million and $40 million, and today the company announced the deal has closed. ZipDial allows people to call a special phone number for a business, hang up before they incur a charge, and then receive a phone call or SMS with information about the business. This “missed call” marketing platform allows people to access content for free, which is especially useful in the developing world where many can’t afford data plans.

Uber woos European cities with the promise of 50,000 new jobs in 2015 – Uber Technologies has promised 50,000 new jobs in Europe from its service in 2015 alone, in an overture to get more cities on the continent to approve its ride-hailing service. “We want to make 2015 the year where we establish a new partnership with EU cities,” Uber CEO and cofounder Travis Kalanick said at the DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference in Munich on Sunday. Kalanick said his company could take 400,000 cars off the road this year, and reduce congestion and emissions in Europe, by expanding its ride-sharing service, UberPool, and by efficient routing of cars.

Chinese LTE boosts ZTE to nearly double yearly profit – Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE has increased its total profit by 98 percent while only bumping up its revenue by 8 percent.

Games and Entertainment:

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell gameplay first impressions – Review time is nearly upon us, but we got the game a bit later than expected. Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is a game we’re going to give a little bit more time to than the less-than-a-day we’ve had with it thus far – but for now, here’s some gameplay to skewer your eyeballs with. This game takes what we knew about the game it jumps off from: Saints Row IV, and drops it all into a pit of despair. You had super powers in Saints Row IV, now you’ve got what amounts to magic. This game is decidedly more metal.

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Hatred gets Adults Only rating, making console, Steam release unlikely – The rating was disclosed by one of the game’s developers on its official forum, which expressed surprise that the title did not get the more lenient Mature (M) rating, writing “Well, I’m not quite convinced why Hatred got AO rating while it lacks any sexual content, but it’s still some kind of achievement to have the second game in history getting AO rating for violence and harsh language only.” Hatred is in fact the third game to receive an AO rating for violence alone, with both Thrill Kill and Manhunt 2 also receiving that evaluation. Thrill Kill, however, had its release cancelled after Electronic Arts bought its publisher and objected to its content. The rating is similarly problematic for games that see boxed retail sales; major retailers like Walmart, Gamestop, and Target refuse to stock AO games.

Face-Stabbing and Cop-Killing: Inside 2015’s Most Controversial Video Game – Destructive Creations’ Hatred has drawn plenty of criticism for the fact that its main character, a big hairy man, seems intent on killing innocent civilians for no particular reason.

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PS4 Remote Play Shines On The Xperia Z3 With The DualShock 4 Game Control Mount – The PlayStation 4 is a platform that keeps giving, thanks to frequent software updates from Sony. Remote Play for Xperia mobile devices is one such gift, and it works very well on the Xperia Z3, Sony’s latest flagship smartphone. The Remote Play app is available now via the Google Play Store for compatible Xperia devices, and anyone who as both one of those and a PS4 at home should grab it.

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Adventure Time Game Wizard: DIY game building made super simple – This week the folks at Cartoon Network are bringing some heat to the mobile gaming worlds of both iOS and Android. They’re bringing a game by the name of Adventure Time Game Wizard – working with the Adventure Time cartoon series as a theme and the old-school side-scrolling skeleton of the original Mario Bros as innards. Here we’re finding just about the easiest-to-work-with platform for creating game levels we’ve ever seen. With the added bonus of Adventure Time, of course – that only makes things more slap-happy!

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AI Mario listens and learns from voice commands – A team of German researchers built a brain for Mario, allowing him to feel happiness, fear, curiosity, and hunger.

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Rockstar offers free game with GTA V pre-order on PC – For GTA V, we were expecting it to arrive for PC on January 27, but last week Rockstar pushed the release date back to March 24. With the wait to play now extended by several weeks, Rockstar is keen to grab as many pre-orders as possible, so it is offering a deal if you order the game direct this month. If you visit the Rockstar Warehouse online store and pre-order the game (at full RRP I should add) by February 1st, Rockstar will throw in $1.3 million of in-game credit split between GTA V ($500,000) and GTA Online ($800,000). On top of that you’ll get to select a free digital download game from a selection of 11 titles.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Security problems need to be made public: Linus Torvalds – Summary:The creator of the Linux kernel and Git has said that security issues should be publicly disclosed, not swept under the rug where vendors can leave them unsolved for years.

Courts Ill-Equipped To Police Cyber Threats And Cyberbullying In The Anonymous Age – Hardly a week goes by without another story of cyber threats against our public institutions or cyberbullying against our youth, often with significant costs to businesses, public service providers or innocent young victims. The surprising fact is that the majority of cyber threats are perpetrated by adolescent boys, while cyberbullying is perpetrated by groups of two or more adolescent or pre-adolescent girls. While the more extreme cyber threats and cyberbully stories make the headlines, the costs to businesses, public facilities and youth often go unaccounted for. These stories demonstrate the need for more informed and remedial measures by our legislatures and judicial system.

The Chinese have 3-D printed an entire mansion, and it looks awesome – While 3-D printing buildings is not exactly new, the Chinese at Winsun have taken it to a whole new level by making two large constructions that are almost entirely 3-D printed.

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Psychiatric illnesses have more in common than we thought — which could be good news for treatment – Schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder have more in common than previously thought. Not only are they linked through shared genes, the genetic mutations associated with them also work together to govern immunity, brain signaling, and genome function later in life, according to a Nature Neuroscience study. The new finding may mean that only one drug will be required to treat all these disorders in the future. This is the first study to show the genetic overlap between psychiatric disorders leads to meaningful paths for treatment, says Peter Holmans, a biostatistician at King’s College London and a co-author the study. Essentially, it translates the genetic information into a roadmap for drug discovery.

Selfie photobomb causes international incident at Miss Universe – Technically Incorrect: The contestants are gathered in Miami for Miss Universe. Israel and Lebanon are still at war. This is not the time for modern diplomacy. Can a selfie cause an international incident? Yes, it can.

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The offending image, as posted to Instagram by Miss Israel. Doron Matalon/Instagram screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

10 good reasons why working remotely makes sense – Remote work, flextime, career sabbaticals, and zero-hours contracts are all types of flexible work. But it’s remote work that’s disrupting the traditional tech industry 9-to-5 grind. Here’s why.

Something to think about:

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”

–    Martin Luther King Jr.

Today’s Free Downloads:

ChrisPC Win Experience Index – ChrisPC Win Experience Index is the free tool that lets you rate your computer and check again the Windows Experience Index on your Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 installation, giving you the possibility to view the CPU, RAM, HDD scores or re-run the Windows benchmark tests.

You wonder what gaming or graphical processing power unleashes your PC/Laptop hardware? Just get the Windows indexing scores calculated by Windows using ChrisPC Win Experience Index.

Get back Windows Experience Index on your Windows 8.1 installation!

You want to have the latest Windows version 8.1 and also to be able to check your Windows Experience Index ?

From now on is quite simple, just install ChrisPC Win Experience Index software and you will get back the Windows interface that you are already familiar from Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Totally convenient, ChrisPC Win Experience Index runs on any Windows version on 32 or 64 bits, but aims to be used mainly for Windows 8.1.

ChrisPC Win Experience Index has many key features like:

– Brings back the Windows Experience Index to Windows 8.1.

– Rate your computer on Windows 8.1 with 1 click.

– Fast access to Windows Experience Index scores on Windows 7, 8, 8.1.

– See your computer ratings for CPU, Memory, Storage Disk, Graphics, Gaming.

– Re-run assessments with a single click on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

– Simple and intuitive interface.

The Windows Experience Index measures the capability of your computer’s hardware and software configuration and expresses this measurement as a number called a base score. A higher base score generally means that your computer will perform better and faster than a computer with a lower base score, especially when performing more advanced and resource-intensive tasks.

When you’re shopping for a new PC, the Windows Experience Index can help you find the model that suits your needs. Scoring a PC you already own can help pinpoint slower components worth upgrading.

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Firefox Environment Backup Extension (FEBE) – FEBE allows you to quickly and easily backup your Firefox extensions. In fact, it goes beyond just backing up — It will actually rebuild your extensions individually into installable .xpi files. Now you can easily synchronize your office and home browsers.

FEBE backs up and restores your extensions, themes, and (optionally) your bookmarks, preferences, cookies. and much more.

Backup as little or as much of your Firefox environment as you wish. Perform backups on demand or schedule daily, weekly, or monthly unattended runs. Sequential backups can be stored in timestamped directories so you can restore back as far as you like.

You may specify “User-defined” items to have FEBE backup Thunderbird, Greasemonkey scripts, or virtually any data on your computer – Firefox related or not.

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NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.

Features:

NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without need of any installation.

NirLauncher and all the utilities in the package are completely freeware, without any Spyware/Adware/Malware.

NirLauncher package includes variety of tools that you may need for your daily computer use, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When using it from USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically run the x64 version of the utility, when there is a separated x64 version.

NirLauncher also allows to add more software packages in additional to the main NirSoft package.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New radar lets law enforcement peek into homes – Privacy is a growing concern for many as technology — and the snooping it enables — continues to grow. It’s no surprise, then, that concerns have been raised about a new radar technology that provides law enforcement agencies with the ability to “see” through the walls of one’s home from the outside — something sensitive enough to pick up breathing and motion, and to identify the approximate location of anyone inside. Police have been silently acquiring and utilizing the technology for more than two years, spurring complaints. The use of the technology entered public awareness last month when a legal case in Denver included the revelation that law enforcement had employed the technology sans a search warrant.

Obama backs Cameron’s fight against encryption – Flip-flopping somewhat on his earlier stance against putting backdoors in software, US President Barack Obama took UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s side in telling tech companies to give government agencies access to encrypted devices and communication. Of course, all in the aid of the fight against terrorism and in the interests of national security. The calls from the world’s top government leaders came after two recent incidents that are directly related or being linked to encryption: the hacking of Sony computers last year and the shooting at newspaper Charlie Hebdo this month.

Pointing up    Are you one of the countless shepple who are satisfied with the  2+2=5 political dogma, pushed out by these two perpetual war advocates – a political dogma that has replaced common sense in their shadow world?

The two most dangerous men in the world collaborate, yet again, on their ever expanding schemes to deprive the masses of their few remaining privacy rights, and you sit there –right there – on your arse!

Satisfied, are you, in handing over what little is left of your democracy to your children and grandchildren?

You should be ashamed that you don’t take a forceful and active role in protecting the rights, freedoms and obligations, your forebearers sacrificed to establish, expand, and preserve.

Get off your arse and advocate for change!! What the hell is wrong with you?

Ex-CIA Officer John Kiriakou Speaks – John Kiriakou is the only CIA employee to go to prison in connection with the agency’s torture program. Not because he tortured anyone, but because he revealed information on torture to a reporter.

Kiriakou is the Central Intelligence Agency officer who told ABC News in 2007 that the CIA waterboarded suspected al-Qaeda prisoners after the September 11 attacks, namely Abu Zubaydah, thought to be a key al Qaeda official. Although he felt at the time that waterboarding probably saved lives, Kiriakou nevertheless came to view the practice as torture and later claimed he unwittingly understated how many times Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding.

In January 2012, Kiriakou was charged by the Justice Department for allegedly and repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists. The Justice Department accused Kiriakou of disclosing the identity of a CIA officer involved in Zubaydah’s capture to a freelance reporter. The reporter did not publicly reveal the official’s name, but his name did appear on a website in October 2012. Kiriakou also allegedly provided New York Times reporter Scott Shane information on CIA employee Deuce Martinez, who was involved in Zubaydah’s capture and interrogation.

After agreeing to a plea deal in October 2012, Kiriakou was sentenced in January 2013 to 30 months in prison. That sentence made him the second CIA employee ever to be locked up under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which bars the release of the name of a covert agent; the first was Sharon Scranage, who in 1985 pled guilty to disclosing the identities of intelligence agents in Ghana after giving classified information to a Ghanaian, reportedly her lover.

Kiriakou is is scheduled for early transfer out of federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania on February 3. In a wide-ranging phone interview with The Intercept, Kiriakou, 50, shared his thoughts on the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation techniques, on his incarceration, and on his future after prison.

Feds operated yet another secret metadata database until 2013 – In a new court filing, the Department of Justice revealed that it kept a secret database of telephone metadata—with one party in the United States and another abroad—that ended in 2013.

The three-page partially-redacted affidavit from a top Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) official, which was filed Thursday, explained that the database was authorized under a particular federal drug trafficking statute. The law allows the government to use “administrative subpoenas” to obtain business records and other “tangible things.” The affidavit does not specify which countries records were included, but specifically does mention Iran.

This database program appears to be wholly separate from the National Security Agency’s metadata program revealed by Edward Snowden, but it targets similar materials and is collected by a different agency. The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported Friday that this newly-revealed program began in the 1990s and was shut down in August 2013.

How the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Apparatus Is Being Turned on Protesters – Activists organizing protests against police brutality in New York are marking Martin Luther King Day with a march beginning in Harlem. Some attendees might be surprised along the way to encounter officers in blue jackets with the words “NYPD Counter Terrorism” emblazoned on the back. But Linda Sarsour, a prominent Muslim-American activist and member of the anti-police brutality group Justice League NYC, one of the sponsors of the march, is almost used to it by now.

As head of the Arab American Association of New York, Sarsour has been a leader in the fight against police misconduct. Much of her energy has gone into speaking out against the NYPD’s expansive spying program that since 9/11 has targeted Muslims and activists. She’s part of a broad coalition trying to change policies ranging from surveillance to ” broken windows” policing, the philosophy that going after minor offenses will deter serious crime.

“When I see counterterrorism folks amongst protesters, it sends me a message that I’m the enemy, and that they are trying to keep other New Yorkers safe from those protesting for their civil rights,” said Sarsour. “It vilifies the people who are being peaceful and asking for something they should already have, asking for things like ending of police brutality.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 19, 2015

The Best Free Google Chrome Extensions;  Your PC needs these 22 free, excellent programs;  Easily enlarge images on the Web without clicking;  12 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know;  Survey says security products waste our time;  No excuses: Apps to get you in shape in no time;  Online hacking services are becoming more popular;  These Will Be the Hottest Xbox One Games of 2015;  These are the top-selling games of 2014;  US, UK agree to closer collaboration on cyberwarfare;  Glary Utilities 5.17 (free);  The Justice Department kept a secret record of all calls in and out of US;  Turkey threatens Twitter.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Best Free Google Chrome Extensions – Chrome—now in version 39!—remains a four-star tour de force for Web surfing, with full HTML5 support and speedy JavaScript performance. And, like Firefox before it, it’s got support for extensions that just make it even better. Its library of extras, found at the Chrome Web Store, more than rival what Firefox has had for years. In addition, the store has add-ons to provide quick access to just about every Web app imaginable. Rather than having you stumble blindly through the store to find the best add-ons, we’ve compiled a list of 90 you should consider.

Your new PC needs these 22 free, excellent programs – More than a mere blank slate, a new PC is a fresh opportunity—a collection of components that, with the right software installed, could accomplish anything from balancing your household budget to helping to cure cancer. Yes, stocking your PC is an intensely personal task. Even still, some programs are so helpful, so handy, so useful across the board that we heartily recommend them to everybody. These are the programs you want to install on a new PC first.

Easily enlarge images on the Web without clicking – On social media, the larger version of an image is usually just a click away. However, if you’re shopping on a site like Amazon, once you click it’s easy to get distracted by other recommended products. It’s similar to what happens if you read Wikipedia and get wrapped up in vaguely connected topics. As an alternative to clicking each image, check out the Imagus for your Chrome or Firefox Web browser. You can easily see the enlarged version of each image without a single click.

You can encrypt your hard drive, but the protection may not be worth the hassle – A single encrypted folder is good enough for most people, but a completely encrypted drive provides the strongest protection. Windows can leave bits of encrypted files in places like the swap file. A thief or fence wouldn’t take the time to find them, but a sufficiently skilled, motivated, and well-funded hacker might. But that level of security comes at a cost.

12 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know – Facebook is a magnet for some of the top engineering talent in the world, so it stands to reason that the company would boast one of the world’s most complex and multi-faceted websites. It rivals many standalone software apps with the sheer amount of personalization, tweaks, and tinkering available to visitors. In fact, there are so many things you can do on Facebook.com that you probably don’t know about them all. So, take a look at our slideshow and awaken your inner power user social super star who is just waiting to break out!

Microsoft releases Skype 4.0 along with free group video calling for Samsung Smart TVs – Microsoft has announced a new version of Skype for TVs, so if you happen to be the owner of a Samsung Smart TV, things just got better. The two companies have been working together to bring a better experience to the app for Samsung’s HU9000 line of Ultra HD curved Smart TVs (2014), which have a built-in video camera. The new version brings improvements to video compression and support for full HD (1080p) video calls, as long as you have an internet connection of at least 1Mbps symmetrical bandwidth. For group video calling, the team recommends at least 2Mbps download and 512Kbps upload.

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Hands-on with Neil Young’s Pono music player – Detecting the supposed higher quality of sound in the new music player and companion music store can be a mind-twisting experience.

No excuses: Apps to get you in shape in no time – The hot new fitness trend is getting in a workout in a short amount of time, from as little as seven minutes. These apps can help you fit in a workout anytime, anywhere with a bit of guidance, coaching and motivation. Often, you’ll only need your body and a bit of space for the exercises. So drop the excuses, pick up your phone, and take a few minutes to get your heart pumping.

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7 Minute Workout – Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Does Microsoft offer the best Android Office suite? (Android Office app showdown) – Microsoft recently expanded the availability of its Office preview for Android tablets so it is appropriate to take another look at how you can perform word processing, work with spreadsheets, and create slideshows on Android tablets.

IRS opens Free File portal for e-filing of tax returns, but only for those of modest means – E-filing federal tax returns is free for people whose needs are simple. Get all the details here–and easy access to a variety of free tax software from top providers.

Security:

Survey says security products waste our time – For anyone who has freaked out when an antivirus alert popped up on their screen and spent time researching it only to find out it was a false alarm, a recent survey will hit home. A survey of information-technology professionals published on Friday found that the average large organization has to sift through nearly 17,000 malware alerts each week to find the 19 percent that are considered reliable. The efforts at triage waste employees’ time—to the tune of a total estimated annual productivity loss of $1.3 million per organization. In the end, security professionals only have time to investigate four percent of the warnings, according to the survey conducted by the market researcher Ponemon Institute.

UK teen arrested for PlayStation, Xbox hackings over Christmas – Friday saw the arrest of an 18-year-old man in the UK for his involvement in the hackings that took down both the PlayStation and Xbox online gaming networks for several days last month starting on Christmas. The incident saw a number of headlines after the holiday, as gamers were unable to get online for an increasingly frustrating period of time, and hacking group Lizard Squad claimed responsibility. The unnamed teen was arrested by police near the city of Liverpool on suspicion of not only hacking, but also “swatting.”

US, UK agree to closer collaboration on cyberwarfare – The countries’ intelligence agencies will work together and conduct cyberwar games later this year to test the security of financial institutions.

Online hacking services are becoming more popular – A couple weeks after news was reported that the hacking group “Lizard Squad” had released an online stress testing service or DDoS tool, another hacking website has appeared in the news. Enter, “Hacker’s List”. Hacker’s List appears to match hackers with people looking to retrieve forgotten passwords, take down unwanted personal photos online, and gain access to company databases – among other things. In less than three months of operation, over 500 hacking listings had been put out for bids on the site with hackers competing for the individual jobs All of this is done anonymously, with the site’s operator collecting a fee on each completed assignment. The site offers to hold a customer’s payment in escrow until the job is done.

NY Post, UPI Twitter hacks see Pope announcing WWIII – Friday afternoon saw the Twitter accounts of both the New York Post and United Press International (UPI) hacked and announcing that China had fired a missile on a U.S. ship, along with the Pope declaring the incident the start of World War III. The compromised accounts of the two news agencies posted tweets about a Federal Reserve emergency meeting and other banking matters. Fortunately the agencies quickly realized their social network accounts had gone awry, and took back control.

Flawed Verizon My FiOS mobile app exposed email accounts – Verizon fixed a serious vulnerability in its My FiOS mobile application that allowed unfettered access to email accounts, according to a developer who found the problem. Randy Westergren, a senior software developer with XDA Developers, looked at the Android version of My FiOS, which is used for account management, email and scheduling video recordings.

Company News:

Apple opening five new China stores over five weeks – The company, which started its retail-store foray in China in 2008, plans to build up the number of locations there over the next two years.

Virgin, Qualcomm Want to Deploy 648 Internet Satellites – The Virgin Group and Qualcomm will invest in OneWeb, Ltd., a venture from former Googler Greg Wyler that plans to build, launch, and operate low-Earth-orbit satellites that will provide Web access to areas of the globe that are currently without service. Eventually, OneWeb wants to deploy 648 micro satellites that will provide a “constellation” of Internet access surrounding the Earth.

Elon Musk is building 700 satellites for worldwide internet connectivity – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg are superstars in the conversations that touch on today’s entrepreneurs in the world of computing and internet advancements. Now we can safely add Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, to that list with his newest endeavor to connect the entire world to the internet. A $10 billion project to launch 700 satellites into space is currently underway. Confirmed at a SpaceX convention in Seattle yesterday, Musk told Bloomberg Business that his agenda to connect the world is true, and even sees stretching his space internet system all the way to Mars. The space-driven internet service could bring service to even the most isolated parts of the world.

Amazon got likely illegal tax deal in just two weeks, EU Commission says – Luxembourg needed just 11 working days to approve a probably illegal tax deal allowing Amazon.com to allocate a large part of its European Union profits to one of its companies that does not have to pay tax, the European Commission said. The Commission’s preliminary investigation showed that Amazon received illegal state aid, gaining an unfair economic advantage over other companies by paying less tax. In the document, the Commission explains how Amazon set up a structure of several companies to avoid paying corporate taxes in the EU.

This Is How Xiaomi Keeps The Cost Of Its Smartphones So Low – Xiaomi’s combination of well-spec’ed phones and low price tags drove the company to over 60 million sales last year. That progress saw it replace Samsung as China’s top-selling smartphone company and become the world’s third top selling phone maker in the process.

Google reportedly in talks to buy mobile-payments company Softcard – The Internet giant could be hoping to take another stab at going head-to-head with Apple, Amazon, PayPal, Square and a slew of other tech giants looking to grab a slice of the payments pie.

Games and Entertainment:

These are the top-selling games of 2014 – With 2015 brings another exciting year in gaming. Although there are sure to be some surprises introduced this year, there are already a couple games that are garnering quite a bit of attention for 2015. But before we move on, let’s not forget to revisit the top ten games of the year for 2014. Without further ado, here are your top 10 games for 2014:

Dota 2 now has over 10 million players – Valve surprised the gaming world last year by hosting the most lucrative e-sports tournament in history, with a prize pool of more than $10 million, and now it has the player base to match it. More than 10 million people now play Dota 2 (at the time of this writing, exactly 10,313,855 players), making it one of the most popular online games in the world. Within its genre, Dota 2 is only surpassed by the insanely successful League of Legends, which at this time last year had around 67 million people logging in each month.

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These Will Be the Hottest Xbox One Games of 2015 – Here’s a look at the year’s 10 most anticipated games for Microsoft’s Xbox One console, excluding rumored 2015 projects with as yet indeterminate timeframes (hello Crackdown, Gears of War, Scalebound and Phantom Dust!)

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Neil deGrasse Tyson shares meaning of life with 6-year-old, nails it – It’s an impossible question to answer — unless you’re Neil deGrasse Tyson. Watch the famed astrophysicist take on a young boy’s loaded query, and knock it out of the park.

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China opens door for full foreign ownership of e-commerce companies – New Chinese reforms allow foreign investors 100 percent ownership of their e-commerce companies in Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone.

Dolfi “washing device” uses ultrasonic tech to clean clothes – The Dolfi is being bid as a next generation washing device, and with it users are able to clean their clothes in the sink or just about any area that can hold water and clothing. Detergent is mixed in with the water and dirty clothes, then the Dolfi is plugged in and placed in the water. Once turned on, Dolfi will glow blue and use ultrasound to create microscopic jets of water, essentially, which clean dirt and stains out of the fabric. The idea itself isn’t new, with similar methods being used to clean things like jewelry, but it hasn’t commonly been available for clothes washing purposes.

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Ice fishing with fireworks gets explosive results – Before you decide to take up the sport of extreme ice fishing for yourself, know this is probably very illegal (and just plain stupid) where you live anyway. Plus, we haven’t seen too many restaurants serving exploded fish, and we can’t imagine that’d be a delight to eat.

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This real-life mech suit only costs one million dollars – Giant robots are like the bald eagles of Japan, a big source of national pride, but for too long they’ve been confined to fiction like manga and anime. Realizing that the future is now, Japanese robotics company Suidobashi Heavy Industry has finally made our Gundam dreams a reality with Kuratas, a functioning mech suit you can buy on Amazon right now for just one million dollars.

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Fight between science and creationism continues at ESPN – Technically Incorrect: After an ESPN baseball writer tweets his creationist views, he is suspended. This week, basketball color commentator Bill Walton tries to persuade play-by-plan man Dave Pasch about science. Pasch is unimpressed.

Something to think about:

“There are three types of people: sheep, wolves and guard dogs. Only the last category has honor.”

–      American Sniper

Today’s Free Downloads:

Glary Utilities 5.17 – Glary Utilities is a smart and reliable application that offers numerous powerful and easy-to-use system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC.

It allows you to clean common system junk files, as well as invalid registry entries and Internet traces. You can manage and delete browser add-ons, analyze disk space usage and find duplicate files.

You can also view and manage installed shell extensions, encrypt your files from unauthorized access and use, split large files into smaller manageable files and then rejoin them.

Furthermore, Glary Utilities includes the options to optimize memory, find, fix, or remove broken Windows shortcuts, manage the programs that start at Windows startup and uninstall software. Other features include secure file deletion, an Empty Folder finder and more.

All Glary Utilities tools can be accessed through an eye-pleasing and totally simplistic interface.

Features:

Disk Cleaner – Removes junk data from your disks and recovers disk space

Registry Cleaner – Scans and cleans up your registry to improve your system’s performance.

Shortcuts Fixer – Corrects the errors in your startmenu & desktop shortcuts

Uninstall Manager – Uninstalls programs completely that you don’t need any more

Startup Manager – Manages programs which run automatically on startup

Memory Optimizer – Monitors and optimizes free memory in the background

Context Menu Manager – Manages the context-menu entries for files, folders…

Tracks Eraser – Erases all the traces,evidences,cookies,internet history and more

File Shredder – Erases files permanently so that no one can recover them

Internet Explorer Assistant – Manages Internet Explorer Add-ons and restores hijacked settings

File Encrypter and Decrypter – Protects your files from unauthorized access and use.

Disk Analysis – Shows you the disk space usage of your files and folders

Duplicate Files Finder – Searches for space-wasting and error producing duplicate files

Empty Folders Finder – Finds and removes empty folders in your windows

File Splitter and Joiner – Splits large files into smaller manageable files, and then rejoin them.

Process Manager – Monitors programs that run on your PC and stop spyware and Trojans.

Windows Standard Tools – Provides direct access to the useful windows default functions.

Right Click Enhancer – A control panel for your right click menu on windows. Add most used applications and folder shortcuts in your right click menu. Manage these right click shortcuts by creating right click sub menus and putting them into these sub menus. Easily remove or disable right click menu entries added by other applications. Save valuable time by using right click tweaks that provides easy to use quick operations directly in your right click. Save time in copy paste operations by adding new folder shortcuts in send to menu. Add new file types into New menu to ease the operation of creating new files. Add templates files to new menu so you can get preformatted files upon creating new files and start working on it in less time.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Justice Department kept a secret record of all calls in and out of US – The Department of Justice was keeping a detailed record of American calls long before more recent NSA programs, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. The database is referred to in a court filing obtained by the Journal as part of a larger Iranian exporting case, incidentally revealing a decades-long program that captured phone records for every call in and out of the United States. The program began in the 90s, continuing until it was shut down in August of 2013 amid reports of DEA phone record collection. While the program was hinted at in earlier reports, this is the first time it has been publicly acknowledged by the government.

The Hypocrisy of U.S. Cyber Policy – The breakneck growth in internet usage over the past two decades has forced policymakers to confront a host of challenges, from how to regulate the sharing economy to who owns the infrastructure behind the “tubes” themselves. While tempers have flared on a number of these issues, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to policymakers. The transformation of our society has been so complete and rapid, we simply can’t expect the rebuilding of our laws to be a simple proposition.

Yet, when it comes to national security and cyber policy, the United States is risking not just a few years of confusing policies that make life difficult albeit manageable, but possible destruction of the very essence of what makes the internet such a vital resource in the first place.

At the core of this dilemma is our vision for the internet. Is the internet an open space, a site for commerce and creativity that is lightly regulated, non-militarized, and universal around the world? Or does it become a tool of power, a weapon that can be wielded against other nations and groups with impunity?

The Government Retreats — a Bit — in Its Assault on Press Freedom – On Monday, federal prosecutors announced they would not call reporter James Risen to testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced (but did not publish) revisions to the policy governing when the Department of Justice can seek to question journalists or obtain information from media organizations about their sources. Maybe the Obama Administration has finally realized how important a role a free press plays in our democracy.

The Justice Department is finally making it harder for police to seize property – Today, Attorney General Eric Holder took a major step towards dismantling the drug war. As reported by The Washington Post, Holder is making major changes to the federal asset seizure program, barring federal sanction of local seizures of a suspect’s property unless it poses an immediate risk to public safety. Police can still seize guns and explosives, but the widespread seizure of cash and vehicles is no longer licensed by federal law, cutting off a legal avenue that has flooded billion of dollars into state and local police departments since 2008. Some local seizures will still be allowed under state and local laws, but the federal Equitable Sharing program, by far the most generous and simplest forfeiture path, will now be officially closed.

Asset forfeiture has been a controversial aspect of the drug war, allowing property be seized without a search warrant and forcing suspects to prove their innocence in order to retrieve it. The system led to perverse incentives for many police departments, including a Florida town of less than 3,000 people that pulled in millions of dollars a year by luring in out-of-state drug buyers for phony deals. A Washington Post investigation in September found police had made cash seizures of more than $2 billion since 2001.

Turkey threatens Twitter to censor nation’s newspaper account – It seems like it wasn’t that long ago when the Turkish government was trying to make the social network services Twitter and YouTube illegal in the country for not playing along with their censorship requirements. Oh, wait, that’s because it was less than a year ago. Well, Turkey is as at it again, this time threatening Twitter that it outright ban the site (again) if it doesn’t censor the account belonging to a left-wing, opposition newspaper.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 19, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 16, 2015

Five reasons you may want to consider prepaid mobile;  Study: Social Media Users Aren’t More Stressed Out;  13 iOS Apps Worth Buying;  Google Glass sales suspended;  Traveling? Here are 5 ways to stay connected (anywhere!);  Three money apps for tracking, organizing and reporting your finances;  Researchers take a bite out of malware;  BlackBerry offers Classic deal to India consumers;  Verizon to critics: Stop calling us a monopoly;  How to protect yourself against Verizon’s mobile tracking;  Hotline Miami 2 blocked from sale in Australia over implied rape scene;  Hotline Miami 2 developer to censored Australians: “Just pirate it”;  PC prices will stay low this year, Intel says;  OSForensics (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Five reasons you may want to consider prepaid mobile – As new prepaid plans become more and more ambitious, customers are starting to wonder if they should think about what life might be like on the other side of a contract. Prepaid has a hollow ring for many, as they tend to see it as a second-run alternative to a ‘proper’ plan and service. If that’s your thinking, we’ve got a few reasons you should reconsider prepaid for your next smartphone. You never know, reading this article might actually save you some money!

13 iOS Apps Worth Buying – Why should you put down good money for something when a cheaper version of it may exist? As with anything, there’s quality, which when we’re talking apps often means features. A paid app will offer things like the absence of ads, offline access, and syncing across devices. Sometimes an app takes the place of what used to be handled by a device, say a GPS or a radio. And finally, there’s that category of app that so few can resist: games.

Peerio hands-on: This secure messaging suite packs dead simple end-to-end encryption – The brain behind Cryptocat and miniLock is back with yet another tool designed to make your day-to-day life more secure. Peerio, Nadim Kobeissi’s latest creation, is a cloud-based, end-to-end encrypted communications suite that lets you send messages and share files as easily as you use Gmail or Skype’s IM tool. For now Peerio is free, but the company does plan to add paid features in the future, such as expanded storage, according to Wired. Users currently receive 1.3GB of free storage space.

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Study: Social Media Users Aren’t More Stressed Out – The Pew Research Center surveyed 1,801 people about how much stress they feel based on a scale that assesses how much people consider their lives to be uncontrollable, unpredictable or overloaded. Despite growing concern over “digital stress,” the survey found that Internet, social media and cellphone users did not have higher stress levels than less tech-inclined participants. On top of that, women who use a lot of social media report being less stressed overall.

Smile   Ironically, what stresses me out about this issue is, the constant  flow of contradictory “studies”. Am I, or aren’t I, stressed out?

Traveling? Here are 5 ways to stay connected (anywhere!) – When you’re traveling, connectivity can be important. When you least expect it, a data connection becomes crucial, often leaving you teetering on what happens next on your trip. Everything from directions to planning — even work — can depend on access to the Internet. But how will you know if you can get Internet? Where is it offered? Rather than fly blind when you’re in a strange locale, we’ve got some handy tips for making sure you’re connected every time you leave home, regardless of where you go.

Three money apps for tracking, organizing and reporting your finances – Between budgets and taxes, it’s time to get organized. These apps will help you track, categorize, and report your finances, saving some annoying steps along the way.

Outlook.com adds Save to OneDrive – Users of Outlook.com for emails have a new feature that they will appreciate that promises to make saving those attachments you receive much easier. The new feature is called Save to OneDrive and it makes saving attachments to your OneDrive account a single click proposition. The new feature is rolling out to customers worldwide this week.

Google Glass sales suspended – Sales of Google’s pricey eyewear have been suspended for an indeterminate amount of time, the company says, following poor sales figures and reviews – but future versions will still be developed. Google says despite the rocky parts of its launch, they will do their best to continue developing and supporting the Glass technology.

Google’s futuristic Ara phone to be sold in Puerto Rico – The Ara phone and its interchangeable pieces are set for a test run, Google Classroom lets students turn in homework with an app, and Facebook wants to be part of your workplace.

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MintBox Mini crams a Linux computer into a tiny, fanless box – Inside the MintBox Mini you’ll find an AMD A4-6400T processor, a chip aimed at tablets and based on the company’s Mullins architecture. It features integrated Radeon R3 graphics and supports dual monitors via a pair of HDMI ports. There’s also a wired gigabit Ethernet port, three USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, and a micro SD slot to expand storage capacity beyond the system’s 64GB SSD. 4GB of RAM should provide plenty of headroom for your Linux apps, and the newest MintBox also offers integrated 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi in case you’ll be setting it up beyond the reach of a LAN cable. The diminutive MintBox Mini is set to launch some time in the second quarter of 2015. It’ll be priced at $295 (a portion of proceeds go back into the Linux Mint project) and comes with an impressive five-year warranty.

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Rdio Brings Its Global Music Streaming Service To India – Rdio’s arrival in India has been expected for some time since it acquired domestic streaming company Dhingana for an undisclosed price back in early 2014. Dhingana, which had over 10 million users at its peak, lost key deals with record labels, but Rdio’s entry is a different story since it comes with a vast library of 32 million songs, both international and India. Rdio CEO Anthony Bay was keen to stress that the service will be an international-domestic hybrid in India.

BlackBerry offers Classic deal to India consumers – In an attempt to boost sales for its Classic smartphone, BlackBerry is taking it to India. The new Classic is now available through the online store Snapdeal at a price tag of 31,990 Indian Rupees (roughly $518), the Times of India reported. Swapdeal and BlackBerry will try to drum up sales by offering a buyback bonus of up to 4,500 Rupees to the first 1,000 people who trade in their BlackBerry Bold phones for a Classic.

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The 15 function-key strokes everyone should know to zip around Microsoft Office – Despite Microsoft Office’s evolution toward menu-driven shortcuts, it’s worth remembering those funky Fn keys still serve a purpose. As part of key combos in Word, Excel, and Outlook, they make it easier and faster to perform commonly used commands. Here are 15 of the most essential function-key strokes. Once you get the hang of two-fisted input using the mouse and keyboard shortcuts, you’ll find yourself shaving hours off your projects.

Windows Insider ToS to be updated, automatically opted in if you install the next build – Microsoft has sent out an email saying that they will be updating the Terms of Service for the Windows Insider program and by installing the next release, you automatically accept the new terms.

Microsoft to webcast next week’s Windows 10 keynote – Microsoft today reminded Windows enthusiasts that it will live stream the keynote from next week’s Windows 10 consumer-oriented event. The keynote will begin at 9 a.m. PT, noon ET (5 p.m. GMT) on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash. Headquarters. Dubbing the event — or at least the keynote — as “Windows 10: The Next Chapter,” Microsoft put up a page where people can access the webcast next week.

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New Intel graphics driver adds 4K video support, Chrome video acceleration and more – Intel has released a new graphics driver package that promises to boost 4K video playback and playing videos using Chrome. It also is the first driver to support the 5th-generation Intel Core chips, known as Broadwell. Version 15.36.14.4080 is important for just about everyone, because it impacts both the 4th-gen Core chips, known as Haswell, and the new 5th-gen Core chips, including the new Core M. (You can download the 32-bit version from Intel’s site, as well as the 64-bit version.) Windows 7, Windows 8.0, and Windows 8.1 are all supported.

Pointing up   Not many of us, I suspect, bother updating chipset drivers (perhaps thinking that it’s a difficult process) – but, it’s quite the reverse; it’s dead easy. How easy? Checkout this Intel page. Updating chipset drivers can lead to system improvement – and, they’re free.

Security:

Researchers take a bite out of malware – The antimalware industry’s holy grail is automatically detecting never-before-seen malware, remove the offending code, and restore any affected software to an undamaged state. Considering current antimalware offerings, the industry has a way to go. A team comprising members from the University of Utah and Raytheon BBN Technologies may have moved antimalware research significantly closer to the industry’s goal. Their software suite: A3 (Advanced Adaptive Applications) “adaptively defends” computers, in particular servers, running the Linux operating system.

Pointing up   If you question whether we’ll ever get malware under control – I think you may well be encouraged by this bit of news.

Google squashes widespread AdSense malvertising attack – Google has stopped a widespread malicious advertising attack that bounced Web surfers to dodgy sites hawking weight loss and skin care products. When displayed, the malicious advertisements automatically redirected a person’s browser to bogus websites. The attacks persisted since mid-December, spiking last Friday before Google apparently eliminated the malicious advertisements over the weekend, Sinegubko wrote. The problem generated a large number of questions and comments on Google’s AdSense help forum.

This ad company is using Verizon’s unstoppable supercookies to track you – A company that correlates data about users across different websites to share with marketers is using unique IDs inserted by Verizon into mobile Web traffic to recreate tracking cookies that have been deleted by users. Jonathan Mayer, a computer scientist at Stanford University, discovered that one advertising company called Turn, which tracks users across the Web when they visit major sites including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, BlueKai, AppNexus, Walmart and WebMD, uses the Verizon UIDH to respawn its own tracking cookies.

How to protect yourself against Verizon’s mobile tracking – The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a list of tools that can block online advertising companies from collecting web browsing data in ways that privacy advocates contend are deceptive. There are several tools, however, that can block Web trackers such as Turn, wrote Peter Eckersley, technology projects editor for the EFF. Applications such as AdAway, AdBlock, AdBlock Plus and Disconnect Pro will all halt Turn from receiving data.

Marriott gives up on blocking guests from using personal Wi-Fi hotspots – Marriott’s plan to block guests from using personal Wi-Fi hotspots in its hotels was always a pretty terrible idea. And after getting a ton of pushback from travelers and being dealt a fine by the FCC, it’s finally abandoning the whole thing. A spokesperson recently told Inc, “Marriott International listens to its customers, and we will not block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at any of our managed hotels.”

Microsoft fumes, Google discloses another Windows security flaw – Summary:Four days after Google’s Project Zero team disclosed an unpatched security bug in Windows, and drew rebuke from Redmond, another bug has exceeded Google’s deadline and been made public.

Company News:

Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe employee-poaching settlement rings in at $415 million – The second attempt at a settlement between Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe for a four-year-old lawsuit over alleged employee hiring practices now has a price. In a filing today, the plaintiffs in the case said the recently-met settlement is valued at $415 million, which is $90.5 million more than an earlier deal that was rejected by US District Court Judge Lucy Koh. And more importantly, it’s above the $380 million Koh said the accused companies would need to agree to before she’d approve it.

PC prices will stay low this year, Intel says – Capable, lightweight laptops are available these days for less than $200, and those prices are likely to stick around or even fall slightly this year, Intel says. PC shipments are expected stabilize this year, and average prices for desktops and laptops may decline a little, said Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO, during a conference call Thursday to discuss the company’s earnings. Thin-and-light laptops are delivering more bang for the buck than in previous years, and well-built, fully functional Chrome OS and Windows laptops are available for $199 or less, Krzanich said.

Verizon to critics: Stop calling us a monopoly – Verizon today said it is “dispelling the myth” that it is a monopoly, responding to claims from Netflix and others that Verizon and other broadband providers have too much market power in the territories they operate in. But Verizon’s FiOS fiber-to-the-home service is competing against cable, and Verizon wants everyone to remember that.

RadioShack to file for bankruptcy next month – report – Ailing electronics retailer RadioShack is teetering ever closer to insolvency, reports claim, with a potential bankruptcy filing to come as soon as next month. Although RadioShack has not said that it plans to file for bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reports that Salus Capital Partners has already offered it $500m in financing to underwrite its operations should it choose to do so. The iconic US electronics chain is believed to be preparing to file for protection under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code, which would allow it to remain in business while it works with the court to restructure its debt.

Games and Entertainment:

The New Mortal Kombat X Trailer Is Full of Blood and Brains – There’s a new trailer out for the upcoming Mortal Kombat X game, and it is not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach). The trailer is more extensive than the first, released in June. While that one was just a teaser, this one’s intended to show players what real battle is going to look like. It features a preview of one of the uniquely gruesome “fatalities” that made the franchise famous. Be warned: Kano gets his head cut off and his brains spill out, all in state-of-the-art graphics.

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Hotline Miami 2 blocked from sale in Australia over implied rape scene – In a report on the decision, the Australian Classification Board website cites a National Classification Code rule barring classification for games that “depict, express, or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence, or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency, and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.”

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A shot from the controversial scene that earned Hotline Miami 2 a classification denial in Australia.

Hotline Miami 2 developer to censored Australians: “Just pirate it” – Following the Australian Classification Board’s recent decision to refuse classification to Hotline Miami 2, effectively barring the game from sale in the country, designer Jonatan Söderström has a piece of advice for people affected by the decision: “Just pirate it!” Söderström’s suggestion came in response to an e-mail from a concerned Hotline Miami fan, who asked if there was a way for him to obtain and pay for the game given the board’s decision. “If it ends up being not released in Australia, just pirate it after release,” Söderström wrote in reply. “No need to send us any money, just enjoy the game!”

For video game industry, 2014 couldn’t escape slumping game sales – Looking back on 2014, the video game industry can say it succeeded and it failed. New hardware has flown off store shelves, into more players’ hands and at a faster rate than last-generation devices nearly a decade ago. But players still aren’t buying enough games. The holiday season, an opportunity for game makers to rebound, proved that not even the biggest companies with the most highly anticipated franchises could entice consumers to spend their money on new titles.

Total War: Attila preview: Total, brutal, unrelenting war – Despite the foreboding name, for years I’ve played every entry in the Total War series in much the same way I play its strategy game cousin Civilization. I putter around for fifty or so turns creating an empire—making sure my citizens are happy, investing in various cultural milestones, and just all-around building something where these entirely fictional people go “Oh wow, did you hear about that city? I wish I lived there instead of this miserable hellhole on the other side of the map.” Not in Total War: Attila. This game gives no quarter. More than any other entry in the series, Total War: Attila is about…well, waging total war.

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Xbox One Goes Back Down To $349 – Back in November, Microsoft dropped the price of the Xbox One down to $349 as part of a “promotion” (read: market test) through the holidays. It did great! Hell, it managed to outsell the PS4 for once, ending Sony’s long running streak as top seller. Then it did it again in December! Then came the New Year. Right as the ball dropped, Microsoft bumped the price back up to $399. Seems that move didn’t play out too well; just two weeks later, in what might be the shortest-lived console price increase ever, Microsoft has just announced they’re cutting the price back down to $349 starting tomorrow, January 16.

Nintendo 3DS XL coming to the US in February – Nintendo of America made the announcement of its 3DS XL, the company’s newest portable gaming device, at the company’s Nintendo Direct presentation today. The 3DS XL is Nintendo’s long-awaited 3DS device meant for markets outside of Japan and will go on sale on February 13 for $199. Since Microsoft doesn’t have a dedicated Xbox portable, Nintendo’s only real competition sits with Sony, leaving an opportunity for Nintendo to finally differentiate itself in the most recent generation of gaming devices.

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The Simpsons are coming to Minecraft on Xbox next month – Microsoft is preparing to bring The Simpsons to life in Minecraft next month. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie will all be available as part of a downloadable skin pack in late February, alongside 19 other characters from the hit TV series. “We have an active community of more than 14 million die-hard Minecraft fans on Xbox Live enjoying the wide range of downloadable content on Xbox, and they have been clamoring for us to bring Simpsons characters to the game,” says Xbox chief Phil Spencer.

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Moving the Steam folder on Linux is causing users’ entire file systems to be deleted – Use Steam on Linux? then it’s a good idea to back up everything you own (and then unmount your external storage) before attempting to debug or move the Steam folder… or you might lose everything.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cities cheer Obama’s push for municipal broadband – Dozens of U.S. cities are cheering President Obama’s proposal this week for the Federal Communications Commission to allow municipalities to provide their own Internet broadband services even in states that have banned such services. “Obama’s doing just what we have been advocating,” said Rick Usher, assistant city manager for Kansas City, Mo., in an interview. “It follows what we’ve been advocating for repeal of these state laws and measures that prevent broadband partnerships for cities.”

The ultimate iPhone 6 drop test… from space – We’ve seen iDevices dropped from planes and stuck in molten lava, but the below video of an iPhone 6 descending from the edge of space seems to be about as far as gravity’s effects can be pushed, short of tossing an iPad into a black hole. As usual, the effort is part of a campaign to sell us something. This time it’s Urban Armor Gear’s composite iPhone case, which protected the silver iPhone 6 in question as it rose from the English countryside with the help of a balloon and a flight rig with two GoPro cameras, GPS and a backup phone. The phone ascended over 100,000 feet to the stratosphere before the balloon ruptured and the device began to fall.

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This robot can convincingly forge letters in your handwriting – Email and IM might be efficient ways to communicate, but they can feel a bit cold and lifeless. Thankfully there’s a new breed of robots out there who are working (rather ironically) to re-humanize things. The service costs $499, and gives you an hour to work with one of Bond’s handwriting experts in their New York City HQ. You’ll need to get yourself there, too, which could make it quite an expensive little experiment depending on where you live. The cheaper option only requires you to fill out a special form and scan it back.

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People Still Log Into MySpace..to Find ‘Throwback’ Pics – How many people do you think visit MySpace on a regular basis? You might be surprised to hear that the number hovers around 50 million, according to Viant CEO Tim Vanderhook, who owns Specific Media, which purchased MySpace for $35 million in 2011. So, what’s keeping MySpace alive? Vanderhook wasn’t super-specific about what people are doing on the site, but he did note that it enjoys a fairly active user base among those aged 17-25—mostly those interested in music and entertainment. Additionally, since MySpace used to be a pretty big deal, the site tends to get a lot of older accounts logging back in on Thursdays. Presumably, they’re finding older photos to use for the popular “Throwback Thursday” thing on other social networks.

Chilling bodycam footage shows the other side of policing – Footage of police officers behaving imperfectly has emerged more than once now that almost everyone has a cell phone. It makes for news. It keeps people on their guard for what might happen. It feeds into people’s need for justice. Yet, there’s another side to policing. It’s one where officers are out every day, never entirely knowing whether a situation might turn in an awful direction, never knowing whether an individual who seems calm might suddenly not be.

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Who’s to blame for the Net neutrality mess? Look to Verizon – Verizon fought hard to overturn 2010 rules governing Internet access. But it now faces the possibility that the FCC will impose even stricter regulations than the ones it had thrown out.

Something to think about:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

–      Alvin Toffler

Today’s Free Downloads:

DocFetcher – DocFetcher is an Open Source desktop search application: It allows you to search the contents of files on your computer. You can think of it as Google for your local files. The application runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, and is made available under the Eclipse Public License.

Supported Document Formats:

Microsoft Office (doc, xls, ppt)

Microsoft Office 2007 and newer (docx, xlsx, pptx, docm, xlsm, pptm)

Microsoft Outlook (pst)

OpenOffice.org (odt, ods, odg, odp, ott, ots, otg, otp)

Portable Document Format (pdf)

EPUB (epub)

HTML (html, xhtml, …)

TXT and other plain text formats (customizable)

Rich Text Format (rtf)

AbiWord (abw, abw.gz, zabw)

Microsoft Compiled HTML Help (chm)

MP3 Metadata (mp3)

FLAC Metadata (flac)

JPEG Exif Metadata (jpg, jpeg)

Microsoft Visio (vsd)

Scalable Vector Graphics (svg)

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NetBalancer Free – Browse and do any internet activity comfortably even when your download manager or torrent client downloads huge files from internet – just lower their network priority with NetBalancer.

You can use NetBalancer to set download/upload transfer rate priority for any applications and monitor their internet traffic.

Applications with a higher network priority will gain more traffic bandwidth than those with a lower one.

Currently supported priorities are:

High priority

Normal priority

Low priority

Block traffic

Ignore traffic

Limit traffic

Set download and upload speed limits for a process

Show all system processes with their in and out network traffic speed

Show current connection for any process

Show downloaded and uploaded traffic for any process since NetBlancer’s start

View overall system traffic as a graph

Show last 15 seconds traffic in system tray

Fine tune priorities (see Level Severity setting).

Limitations: The unregistered version is limited to a maximum of 3 process priorities/limits and 3 rules at a time. Since version 6.1 all other limits have been removed.

OSForensics – Discover relevant forensic evidence faster. Find files quickly. Search within Files. Search for Emails. Recover Deleted Files. Uncover Recent Activity. Collect System Information. View Active Memory. Extract Logins and Passwords.

Find files quickly – OSForensics™ allows you to search for files many times faster than the search functionality in Windows.

Results can be analyzed in the form of a file listing, a Thumbnail View, or a Timeline View which allows you to determine where significant file change activity has occurred.

Search within Files – If the basic file search functionality is not enough, OSForensics can also create an index of the files on a hard disk. This allows for lightning fast searches for text contained inside the documents. Powered by the technology behind Wrensoft’s acclaimed Zoom Search Engine.

Search for Emails – An additional feature of being able to search within files is the ability to search email archives. The indexing process can open and read most popular email file formats (including pst) and identify the individual messages.

This allows for a fast text content search of any emails found on a system.

Recover Deleted Files – After a file has been deleted, even once removed from the recycling bin, it often still exists until another new file takes its place on the hard drive. OSForensics can track down this ghost file data and attempt to restore it back to useable state on the hard drive.

Uncover Recent Activity – Find out what users have been up to. OSForensics can uncover the user actions performed recently on the system, including but not limited to:

Opened Documents

Web Browsing History

Connected USB Devices

Connected Network Shares

Collect System Information – Find out what’s inside the computer. Detailed information about the hardware a system is running on:

CPU type and number of CPUs

Amount and type of RAM

Installed Hard Drives

Connected USB devices

and much more. Powered by Passmark’s SysInfo DLL.

View Active Memory – Look directly at what is currently in the systems main memory. Attempt to uncover passwords and other sensitive information that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Select from a list of active processes on the system to inspect. OSF can also dump their memory to a file on disk for later inspection.

Extract Logins and Passwords – Recover usernames and passwords from recently accessed

websites in common web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Opera.

Limitations: There is a Free edition of the software and a Professional edition for commercial and government use. The professional version is $499.00.

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Screen shot from a personal machine.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CIA exonerates CIA of all wrongdoing in Senate hacking probe – A review panel has tossed aside accusations that the US Central Intelligence Agency hacked into computers used by Senate aides investigating the torture of terror suspects, saying the CIA did nothing wrong.

The CIA has been criticized by several lawmakers – in particular, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – for allegedly infiltrating government computers to erase damning documents involved in a Congressional probe of the agency’s torture policies.

An earlier internal CIA review revealed evidence of “significant CIA wrongdoing,” Feinstein said in March 2014, and she demanded an apology from CIA Director John Brennan – which she eventually received, albeit only months later.

But when the agency released the results of its latest review on Tuesday, its investigators concluded that the CIA had nothing to apologize for, AFP reports. Although there had been some “inappropriate access” to Senate staffers’ “work product,” the review found, no laws had been broken and no wrongdoing had taken place.

With crypto in UK crosshairs, secret US report says it’s vital – As UK Prime Minister David Cameron forges ahead with a campaign pledge to ban encrypted messaging apps unless his government is given backdoors, that country’s Guardian newspaper has aired a secret US report warning that government and private computers were at risk because cryptographic protections aren’t being implemented fast enough.

The 2009 document, from the US National Intelligence Council, said encryption was the “best defense” for protecting private data, according to an article published Thursday by the newspaper. Airing of the five-year forecast came the same day Cameron embarked on a US trip to convince President Obama to place pressure on Apple, Google, and Facebook to curtail their rollout of stronger encryption technologies in e-mail and messaging communications. According to Thursday’s report:

Part of the cache given to the Guardian by Snowden, the paper was published in 2009 and gives a five-year forecast on the “global cyber threat to the US information infrastructure”. It covers communications, commercial and financial networks, and government and critical infrastructure systems. It was shared with GCHQ and made available to the agency’s staff through its intranet.

UK to seek Obama’s help in accessing user data from US firms – To share or not to share? That’s one of the issues UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama will address when they meet Friday, according to a report.

Cameron and Obama will discuss the UK’s desire to access user data from US-based tech companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to aid in its law enforcement strategy, The Guardian reported, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the anticipated discussions.

According to those sources, Cameron will demand that US companies store data on users and make it accessible to UK intelligence agencies to keep the country’s citizens “safe.” That accessibility would involve a new legal framework that has yet to be worked out. One government source told the Guardian that while sites like Facebook and Twitter do cooperate to some degree, the UK would like to see that cooperation increased.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 15, 2015

5 Apps You Just Can’t Miss This Week;  Friends? Family? Nah, Facebook Knows You Best;  The 7 Biggest Lies You’ve Been Told About Hacking;  Google’s Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, or Roku’s Streaming Stick?  Pro tip: Respond to calls with text messages in iOS;  Google Classroom app now available for Android, iOS;  How to stop autoplay videos;  Facebook Unveils Facebook At Work;  Google Drive update brings new look, features;  How to find your Wi-Fi password in Windows 8.1;  SnoopSnitch – Surveillance Detection for Android Phones;  Google Translate can now interpret signs and conversations in real time;  How to Save Your Voicemails Forever;  3 Ways Facebook Might Just Save Your Life Someday;  McAfee Raptor – real-time behavior detection technology (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New report: DHS is a mess of cybersecurity incompetence – A large, embarrassing, and alarming Federal oversight report has found major problems and grave shortcomings with DHS cybersecurity programs and practices across the board.

75% of writers in free countries self-censor due to fears of mass surveillance – There’s a worldwide war on free speech. Despite 1.5 million who marched under the banner of free expression in France, 54 people have been arrested for online comments. The UK wants encryption outlawed and backdoors in apps to be mandatory. CISPA is back in the US. 75% of journalists in democratic countries already self-censor due to fears of mass surveillance.

5 Apps You Just Can’t Miss This Week – It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found five apps actually worth downloading.

Tested: One Streaming Stick to Rule Them All – What should you buy: Google’s Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, or Roku’s Streaming Stick? Here’s how they stack up.

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Pro tip: Respond to calls with text messages in iOS – Have you ever been in the middle of a call, only to be interrupted by another call coming in? It can be annoying, especially as the other caller hears the “buzz” of the iPhone silent ringer. Sure, you could enable Do Not Disturb mode before making your first call, but why not do something a little more reactive instead? Let’s take a look at how to set this up so that you can easily send a message with one tap to a caller to let them know if you’re busy or on another call.

Google Classroom app now available for Android, iOS – For a long time, teachers tried to manage smartphone usage in class, trying their best to make sure kids weren’t screwing around instead of learning. Now, educators have a reason to let kids stare at screens, as the Google Classroom app is now available on the Play Store. The app will let students and teachers stay on track, digitally. Homework assignments, future work deadlines, and assignment collection are all part of the app’s feature list. The app is free for anyone with a Google Apps for Education account.

How to stop autoplay videos – You open a webpage and start reading. But after a few seconds, you hear someone talking. A video has started automatically without your permission. Here’s how to keep this annoyance from happening.

AllCast for iOS streams all your media to your TV – Previously an Android-only app, AllCast can connect to a wide variety of devices and stream from local and cloud-based storage alike.

Google Drive update for Mac, PC brings new look, features – Google Drive might be the best cloud storage solution there is. It’s available anywhere, securely tucks your files away, and is free to use. For mobile, it’s amazing. For the desktop, Drive is fairly utilitarian, but that’s about to change. Today, Google is announcing a few changes to Drive for PC and Mac, which will give users more control and a new menu. The new-look drop-down menu provides updates on uploads, and even gives you access to recently synced items.

Facebook Unveils Facebook At Work, Lets Businesses Create Their Own Social Networks – About six months ago, we reported that Facebook was working on a new product aimed squarely at the enterprise market under the working title, “FB@Work.” Now that product is officially coming to light: today the company is launching new iOS and Android apps called “Facebook At Work,” along with a version of Facebook at Work accessible via its main website, which will let businesses create their own social networks amongst their employees that are built to look and act like Facebook itself.

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Google Maps for Android and iOS updated – Google Maps has been updated for both Android and iOS, bringing users both new features and improvements. This takes iOS users up to version 4.2.0 (the version varies for Android users), and while there are a couple similarities between the two updates, both give users different new features on their respective platforms. The most notable new feature for iOS users is the ability to see weather for cities around the globe; Android users, meanwhile, can see their contacts when they’re searching for addresses in Maps.

How to find your Wi-Fi password in Windows 8.1 – A forgotten Wi-Fi password isn’t a problem for me and my omniscient laptop, but it is a problem for, say, my brother, who needs the password if he wants to jump on the network with his Japanese iPhone. My mom is hunting for the Post-it, but prospects are lookin’ bleak. Luckily, there’s an easy way to reverse-lookup your Wi-Fi password on a computer that already technically knows it. Here’s how to find saved network passwords in Windows 8.1:

Google Translate can now interpret signs and conversations in real time – The new feature lets you point your phone’s camera at a sign or any other text and have it translated into another language, which will appear live on the screen in a sort of augmented reality. The update isn’t live yet — so we can’t say how effective Word Lens is inside of Translate — but Google’s GIF of the new feature makes it look seriously impressive and like a tool you’ll want to have when traveling.

Microsoft Squeezes Windows Phone To $81 With Entry Level Lumia 435, $93 With Lumia 532 – Microsoft has announced two new Lumia smartphones running its Windows Phone 8.1 mobile OS, both focused on beefing up the portfolio at the lower end and expanding the platform’s appeal in emerging markets to try to compete with budget Androids. Specs for the 3G Lumia 435 include a 4 inch 800 x 480 LCD display, a 1.2GHz dual-core chip, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a 2MP rear camera. So it’s certainly going to be a budget experience. The Lumia 532 has the same display and form factor but its innards are beefed up to a quad-core 1.2 GHz chip. And its rear camera is 5MP. Microsoft touts built in Skype integration, noting its a front-facing camera supports video calls.

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Samsung Z1 smartphone: powered by Tizen, destined for India – Samsung has taken the wraps off its new Tizen-powered smartphone, the Z1. This relatively modest smartphone is the first running Tizen that will be offered to users in India, and it will be bringing with it things like regional entertainment apps and a simplified UI. The handset is tailored to certain needs found in emerging markets, including elements that help keep data use to a minimum. The handset is available as of today for INR 5,700 (about $92 USD).

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Google Brings The Account Switcher To The Stable Version Of Chrome – Many people are satisfied with just one Google account, but not all – especially in a world where many work and enterprise accounts are handled via Google, people often find the need to switch among two or more. Back in August, Chrome’s Beta releases started to incorporate an Account Switcher that allows users to easily change which account they use to manage their browser’s bookmarks, tabs, history and more. It’s also great for shared computers, and for letting guests browse without risking potential embarrassment on either side, and now it’s rolling out to the stable version of Chrome on the desktop.

TextBlade fits a QWERTY keyboard in 8 smart multitouch keys – TextBlade is composed of four pieces, all of which snap together into a small block for storage and transport. There’s a stand, a spacebar, and two keyboard halves with the buttons. The spacebar and the two parts of the keyboard connect magnetically and tether to your phone or tablet over Bluetooth 4.0. Each of the eight keys has several letters, symbols, and modifiers on it. Each time you press a letter, the entire key depresses, but TextBlade uses multitouch technology to keep track of which letter your finger was on when the button activated. So it knows the difference between W and X, even though they both trigger the same physical switch when pressed.

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Why you might still want an optical drive – Optical drives, that can read and write CDs, DVDs, and sometimes Blu-ray discs, have been an important part of the PC universe for a long time. But there’s less and less need for them. PC manufacturers have good reasons not to include the drives. Unlike CPUs and SSDs, optical drives can’t shrink much. They therefore add bulk to laptops, and nobody wants a bulky laptop. But in my opinion, they shouldn’t disappear entirely.

Why 2015 is the year of Linux on the everything-but-desktop – For a moment, I felt like Linux wasn’t very present. Then it hit me: everything was running Linux! Panasonic smart TVs will run Mozilla’s Firefox OS, and that’s based on Linux. All those Android game consoles, like Razer’s Forge TV that can stream games from your PC, use a Linux kernel. Samsung’s shift to Tizen for their smart TVs means those TVs were running Linux. LG’s smartwatch running Open webOS is based on Linux. TVs with Opera TV, Android TV, and practically every other platform were Linux-based. Every little Android device runs on top of Linux.

How to Save Your Voicemails Forever – Most phones don’t make that as easy as it ought to be. Apple’s iPhone will back up voicemails to your computer along with everything else, but they’re stored in a funky file format that’s not easily played by most software. Most Android phones, meanwhile, store your voicemails on off-site servers. So what should you do if you’ve got a voicemail that’s really worth saving? The solution involves some free software and an affordable purchase, but it’s doable. Here’s how:

Security:

The 7 Biggest Lies You’ve Been Told About Hacking – As a citizen of the 21st century, it’s increasingly important to arm yourself with some basic facts about hacking, cybersecurity, and the real threats they pose, as well as those they don’t. With that in mind, here are seven common misconceptions you might have about hacking.

Surveillance Detection for Android Phones – SnoopSnitch is an app for Android devices that analyses your mobile radio traffic to tell if someone is listening in on your phone conversations or tracking your location. Unlike standard antivirus apps, which are designed to combat software intrusions or steal personal info, SnoopSnitch picks up on things like fake mobile base stations or SS7 exploits. As such, it’s probably ideally suited to evading surveillance from local government agencies. The app was written by German outfit Security Research Labs, and is available for free on the Play Store. Unfortunately, you’ll need a rooted Android device running a Qualcomm chipset to take advantage.

Adobe patches remote code execution and keylogging flaws in Flash Player – Adobe Systems fixed nine vulnerabilities in Flash Player that could allow attackers to record users’ keystrokes or take complete control of their computers. The updates, Flash Player 16.0.0.257 for Windows and Mac and Flash Player 11.2.202.429 for Linux, address seven remote code execution vulnerabilities, an information disclosure flaw that can be exploited to capture keystrokes and a lower-risk file validation issue.

Ham-fisted phishing attack seeks LinkedIn logins – The emails warn potential victims of “irregular activities” on their account and say a compulsory security update is required. The emails include an HTML attachment that purports to be a form for performing the update. The HTML file is actually a copy of LinkedIn’s website and login page, wrote Satnam Narang, senior security response manager with Symantec, in a blog post. But the website code in the file has been modified, so if a user logs in, their account credentials are sent to the attackers.

U.S. government lurked on Silk Road for over a year – In a New York federal court, the prosecution begins its case against the alledged mastermind of the Silk Road underground marketplace.

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Company News:

Snapchat charging top dollar for ad space – Snapchat has already given way to advertising, with the service letting loose their vanishing ads to unwitting users late last year. The ads show up under the ‘recents’ tab for both iOS and Android, with the obvious goal being clicks from users and returned revenue for Snapchat. Ads don’t just show up, though; they’re carefully seeded, with proprietary content often cajoled from an advertising partner. A new report suggests Snapchat is taking a hard-line stance on ad space, demanding — not asking — for $750,000 per run.

GoPro Taps Vislink To Offer Live HD Broadcasting – The companies have been working together to build a small live transmitter that can be attached to GoPro Hero4 cameras, taking the professional use of the GoPro camera line to a whole new level. Thus far, professional athletes and television networks alike use GoPro to cover a wide swath of sporting events. But to capture in HD, GoPro has always limited users to onboard recording, meaning that the footage could only be used in post-production. With this partnership, GoPro is putting its cameras in the ring with highly expensive professional equipment.

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Scroogled no more: Microsoft’s anti-Google campaign slinks away for good – Microsoft’s sleazy ad campaign against Google is no more, as the “Scroogled” website has quietly vanished. As Winbeta points out, Scroogled.com now redirects to a new site called Why Microsoft. Instead of just bashing Google, the site tries to point out advantages of Microsoft enterprise services over competitors, including Google, Amazon and Cisco.

Games and Entertainment:

This huge, beautiful sci-fi RPG is coming to the Wii U – The sci-fi role playing game is the follow-up to Xenoblade Chronicles, a cult classic for the Wii (which itself is getting a remake for the New Nintendo 3DS XL). It takes place in a massive open-world unlike anything on Nintendo’s home console; it’s filled with startling landscapes and epic-sized monsters. You can also ride around in crazy mechs. Unfortunately, it’s unclear just when you’ll be able to venture into that world and explore — Xenoblade Chronicles X has no specific release date, but is expected to launch in 2015.

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The 10 Best Gaming Keyboards – If you’re a gamer, you take your choice of keyboard seriously. We’ve rounded up the 10 best keyboards you can buy, along with a brief guide to help you find the keyboard that’s right for you. When your keyboard doubles as your game controller, it’s more than just a tool for typing. It is to the gamer what the katana is to a samurai (or cyborg ninja). It becomes more than a typing tool—the keyboard becomes a weapon, an extension of yourself, your interface with the digital world. For anyone that cares about PC gaming, it pays to know what makes a keyboard great, what differentiates one from another, and what’s on the market today.

The Interview is coming to Blu-ray and DVD on February 17th – It was only a matter of weeks ago when Sony Pictures Entertainment sheepishly admitted it had no plans to release The Interview after suffering a massive data breach — reportedly at the hands of North Korea. It’s pretty incredible how much has changed since then. We’ve seen the Seth Rogen / James Franco comedy make its way through a limited theatrical run, pushed out to every video-on-demand service known to man, and now we’ll be getting a physical media release to close it all out. Today, Sony Pictures announced that The Interview will come to Blu-ray and DVD on February 17th.

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Nintendo does the unthinkable, makes Pokemon Shuffle free-to-play – Nintendo has announced Pokemon Shuffle, which is basically a match-3 puzzle game using the ever-popular Pokemon name and characters. You won’t be paying anything to play this game even though Nintendo could get away with selling it on a cart. Instead, it’s a free download from the 3DS eShop. Check out the trailer:

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VH1 Classic to run the ‘longest-ever’ TV marathon with 19 days of Saturday Night Live – FXX set the record for longest TV marathon ever last year with a week and a half straight of The Simpsons, but VH1 Classic is about to top it. The network is preparing to run episodes of Saturday Night Live for 19 days straight, starting with the most recent seasons and running back toward its first episodes. That means the network won’t make it through SNL’s complete history — for better or for worse — and is instead going to be selectively showing its best moments. Even so, VH1 says that this will still make for the longest-ever TV marathon dedicated to a single series.

Off Topic (Sort of):

MemoryMirror: trying on clothes using a smart mirror – Our future will involve “trying on” clothing at stores without removing a single garment, something achieved through the use of smart mirrors. MemoMi’s MemoryMirror has given us a glimpse (pun intended) of this future, allowing customers to stand in front of it and see their digital visage in the reflection adorned with outfits other than the one they’re wearing. It’s simple, fast, and is (soon) coming to a store near you, assuming you live near a certain Neiman Marcus department store in California.

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Retailers use new tech to track you in stores — and in dressing rooms – Smart shelves know what products you touch, shopping carts come loaded with tablets, and dressing room mirrors track what you try on and ask for your phone number. The National Retail Federation’s annual trade show reveals how tech changes the way we shop.

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What’s the biggest factor determining the sound of your music: Recording, mixing or mastering? – The Audiophiliac interviews mastering engineer Dave McNair about who should get most of the credit for great sounding recordings, and his answer may surprise you.

Obama Calls On The FCC To Clear The Way For Community Broadband – Municipal broadband is a rapidly heating battleground among the president, his administration, and Congressional and FCC Republicans. Should all cities and communities be free to build municipal broadband networks to serve their citizens? The issue is perhaps surprisingly contentious. In a speech this morning, President Obama called for a full-court press against rules that bar communities from constructing their own Internet networks:

Rapere: The drone that hunts other drones – A team of commercial drone developers are creating a drone whose sole purpose is to seek, intercept and destroy other drones. When activated, the drone will seek out other drones using an array of 12 low-res 90 fps cameras, hover above them and drop a piece of rope, which will tangle in the target drone’s rotors, felling it from the sky. It is able to tell the difference between a bird and a drone, the team said.

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Friends? Family? Nah, Facebook Knows You Best – Be careful what you “like” on Facebook: Innocuous clicks on Minecraft, the Bible, and Harley Davidson could say more about your personality than you think. Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University found that computers can more accurately assess someone’s personality than family or lifelong friends.

3 Ways Facebook Might Just Save Your Life Someday – Facebook is still in its early days of experimenting with ways to leverage its scale to serve as a safety platform. But if the motivation behind putting Amber Alerts on Facebook is that information spread via the site has helped bring missing children back home before, then we should expect Facebook to launch even more ways to help the public — some of which might just save your life someday. Here are some possibilities:

Something to think about:

“If you weren’t “Je suis Charlie” before the events of last week in Paris, it doesn’t count now.”

–   Rex MurphyCanadian commentator and author

Today’s Free Downloads:

McAfee Raptor – McAfee Raptor is a real-time behavior detection technology that monitors suspicious activity on an endpoint. Raptor leverages machine learning and automated, behavioral-based classification in the cloud to detect zero-day malware in real time.

The Raptor icon is displayed in your system tray. wps5518.tmp

Once installed, Raptor monitors and detects files exhibiting malicious behaviors on the endpoint.

Click Clean to remove malicious executables and its traces from your system.

Note: If you wish to remove the malicious files a later point of time, click Dismiss.

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FoxyProxy Standard – FoxyProxy is a Firefox extension which automatically switches an internet connection across one or more proxy servers based on URL patterns. Put simply, FoxyProxy automates the manual process of editing Firefox’s Connection Settings dialog. Proxy server switching occurs based on the loading URL and the switching rules you define.

Animated icons show you when a proxy is in use. Advanced logging shows you which proxies were used and when. QuickAdd makes it a snap to create new URL patterns on-the-fly. FoxyProxy is fully compatible with Portable Firefox, has better support for PAC files than Firefox itself, and is translated into more than 34 languages.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

David Cameron: I’m off to the US to get my bro Barack to ban crypto – report – UK Prime Minister David Cameron is hoping to gain the support of US President Barack Obama in his campaign-year crusade to outlaw encrypted communications his spies can’t break, sources claim.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Conservative Cameron would like to see left-leaning Obama publicly criticize major US internet companies like Facebook and Google, many of which have made strong encryption the default on their online services.

The President hasn’t taken a public position on the issue so far, but several prominent federal law enforcement officials have given internet firms lashings over their use of encryption tech, which they claim undermines national security interests.

Last September, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey went as far as to describe encrypted communications as “something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

According to the WSJ’s sources, Cameron plans to try to nudge Obama “in the direction of what the FBI has said about this.”

Don’t use Charlie Hebdo to justify Big Brother data-slurp – Data protection MEP – The European Parliament’s data protection supremo says calls from national leaders to monitor all airline passengers are “playing into terrorists’ hands”.

German MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, who heads the Parliament’s overhaul of EU data protection laws, described the plans for mass storage of PNR (passenger name record) data as Orwellian.

“EU home affairs ministers are demanding Big Brother measures entailing blanket data retention without justification,” he said. “This approach is a distraction from the actual measures needed to deal with security and terrorist threats and provides a false sense of security for citizens, at the expense of their civil liberties.”

According to Albrecht, the scheme is actually illegal, as the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled last April that the mass storage of private data, without specific grounds or time limit, is contrary to the EU charter of fundamental rights.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 14, 2015

Facebook brings Amber Alerts to news feeds;  Actually, Windows 7 is still supported for another 5 years;  How to Make Your Android Battery Last Longer;  Tor Browser Bundle (free);  UK PM makes Apple CEO Tim Cook a global privacy champ;  HP Stream 11 Review;  Five free Android apps for tracking your time;  Verizon Vehicle turns your old ride into a connected car;  Patch Tuesday included one “critical” and seven “important” patches;  New “Skeleton Key” malware allows bypassing of passwords;  Adobe patches critical Flash security vulnerabilities;  A $10 USB charger with built-in wireless keylogger means more security headaches;  Google enters domain hosting business;  Cord-cutting trends and predictions for 2015;  Cops charged after police body cams capture them killing homeless man;  Obama revives call for immunity to companies sharing threat data;  Advanced SystemCare 8 Free.

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Cory Doctorow – What David Cameron just proposed would endanger every Briton and destroy the IT industry – David Cameron says there should be no “means of communication” which “we cannot read” — and no doubt many in his party will agree with him, politically. But if they understood the technology, they would be shocked to their boots.

UK PM makes Apple CEO Tim Cook a global privacy champ – Cameron’s fighting talk puts Apple’s Tim Cook in the firing line, transforming the human rights-supporting CEO into a poster child for privacy in a frightened age. Experts are already warning Britain’s unpopular PM that his proposals are unworkable, saying he is “living in cloud cuckoo land.” Independent computer security expert Graham Cluley told The Guardian: “It’s crazy. Cameron is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that this is a sensible idea, and no it wouldn’t be possible to implement properly.” Experts condemn the plans as “idiocy,” “ill thought out” and “scary” and warn they undermine consumer security, the tech industry and British business.

Pointing up   Cameron, is a “walking/talking poster child” for the notion that intelligent people (I assume that he’s bright), are equally at a loss for common sense as the rest of us. Truth is – this man (just like his compatriots who are tasked with high level technology decision making), is a techno-moron. That in itself should scare the hell out of you – no matter the country you live in.

Under the hood of I2P, the Tor alternative that reloaded Silk Road – On the surface, I2P (which originally was an acronym for “Invisible Internet Project”) is similar in many ways to the Tor Project’s anonymizing service. Like Tor, I2P encapsulates and anonymizes communications over the Internet, passing Web requests and other communications through a series of proxies to conceal the location and identity of the user. Like Tor, I2P also allows for the configuration of websites within the network that are concealed from the Internet at large. Called “eepsites,” these equivalents to Tor’s hidden services can only be reached by using the anonymizing network or a portal site that connects to the I2P proxy network. But there are some significant differences between Tor and I2P beneath the surface, from the technologies they are based on to how the networks are implemented.

Tor Browser Bundle – Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.

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Facebook brings Amber Alerts to news feeds to boost child safety – Through the new arrangement, NCMEC will be able to post Amber Alerts in the news feeds of Facebook users who are within range of a search area. The alerts will include key information on the missing children, including photographs and physical descriptions, as well as descriptions of the alleged abductors.

How to Make Your Android Battery Last Longer – Along with the usual battery-drainers — Wi-Fi, GPS and video streaming — Android phones come with some unique energy gluttons, such as live-updating home screen widgets. However, Android phones let you fine tune how your battery is used to a level not possible with iPhones. Here the key ways you can extend your Android phone’s battery life without having to change the way you use the phone (too much).

Actually, Windows 7 is still supported for another 5 years – Contrary to headlines you may have read today, Microsoft isn’t dropping support for Windows 7 today. The operating system is still supported and will continue to receive security updates for at least another five years. Today is the last day of Windows 7’s “mainstream support” period, with the operating system now entering “extended support.” But the implications of this for most of us are negligible.

Microsoft BUILD 2015 registration opens January 22 – Microsoft has announced that registration for BUILD 2015 will open on January 22nd which is one day after their Windows 10 event that takes place in Redmond, Washington.

Five free Android apps for tracking your time – If you’re an independent contractor or a small shop in need of an easy method of keeping tabs of work-related time, your tablet or smartphone and a free app might be all you need to ensure you’re billable time is up to date and ready for invoicing. Of course, not all time-tracking apps are created equal, but there are plenty of apps in the Google Play Store that offer all the features you need — and in some cases, more than you need. But which apps are best suited for the job? I tested a lot of them to find five I consider to be at the top of the list. Let’s dig in and see if any of my picks will suit your purposes.

Firefox Hello eases video chat by emphasizing permalinks over logins – In Firefox 35, users can assign a name to each conversation, and then return to it at any time from the Hello menu. So if you’re chatting with grandma, she can always reach you through that same link instead of having to create a separate link every time. In case someone’s taking a while to jump in on the video chat, starting a conversation now opens a separate window that shows you in the camera view. You can now navigate away from that window, and Firefox will alert you when the other person gets online. And while you don’t have to log in to use the service, signing in with a Firefox account lets you create a contacts list of other Firefox users. The latest update gives the option to import contacts straight from Google.

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HP Stream 11 Review: When entry-level computing isn’t so bad – With Chromebooks slowly gaining popularity for their ease of use and low price, Microsoft and HP both need entry-level Windows machines to take Google head-on, and to make sure that their premium products and services are not overrun by free options from Google. The HP Stream is one of the most interesting such devices to be launched recently – but is it any good? And how does Windows run on these low-end specs?

Verizon Vehicle turns your old ride into a connected car – Verizon Vehicle includes a variety of features: roadside assistance, automatic notification if your car is suspected to be in an accident, a vehicle locator (so you can’t get lost in a parking lot), stolen vehicle tracking, an SOS button for emergencies, and car diagnostics, among other things. Many (if not most) of these features are available from a modern car’s built-in systems, but Verizon’s targeting a potentially huge market: older cars with tech-savvy drivers. Sales kick off around April 10th, with availability in brick-and-mortar retailers expected toward the end of the year. The service will run $14.99 a month (hardware included) for the first vehicle and $12.99 for each additional one.

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Visual Studio Community 2013 is now available as part of Github Student Developer Pack – Student or not, you may be one of those who want to learn programming but cannot afford the high cost of the tools required. GitHub Developer Pack has you covered, and now includes Visual Studio 2013.

President Obama presses for high-speed Internet for rural Americans – President Barack Obama wants more Americans to have access to affordable broadband, no matter where they live. The president will deliver that message Wednesday from Cedar Falls, Iowa, according to Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council and an assistant to the president on economic policy. Zients on Tuesday discussed the president’s initiatives, including incentives to build out the needed infrastructure, coalitions of universities and municipalities to promote broadband, and an effort to eliminate laws that stifle competition.

Security:

Patch Tuesday included one “critical” and seven “important” patches, IE dodges the bullet – It’s that “time of the month” for Windows where patches get applied to plug vulnerabilities found in the OS. This time around eight were delivered and none affecting Internet Explorer.

Adobe patches critical Flash security vulnerabilities – Adobe patches nine vulnerabilities — four of which are considered “critical” — in order to protect against hackers who could exploit the bug to take control of an affected system.

New “Skeleton Key” malware allows bypassing of passwords – Dell SecureWorks has discovered a new piece of malware dubbed “Skeleton Key” which allows would-be attackers to completely bypass Active Directory passwords and login to any account within a domain. Interestingly, Skeleton Key does not actually install itself on the filesystem. Instead, it’s an in-memory patch of Active Directory which makes detection even more difficult. Even worse, this access is not logged and is completely silent and, as a result, extremely undetectable. Identifying the malware using traditional network monitoring also does not work due to the fact that Skeleton Key does not generate any network traffic. It’s not all doom and gloom though. The good news is that, in its current form, the malware does not survive a system reboot.

AMD plugs firmware holes that allowed command injection – Chip maker AMD has patched holes across its firmware lines that could allow hackers to inject malware. Czech programmer Rudolf Marek reported the holes in the Trinity, Richland, Kaveri, and Kabini silicon series ahead of a disclosure at the Chaos Communications Congress. AMD’s System Management Unit (SMU) firmware code within x86 processors did not run adequate checks prior to execution, allowing Marek to inject his own commands. Marek told attendees to ask their mainboard vendors to push the fixed AGESA to BIOSes. “Tell your vendors for a fixed AGESA (AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture),” Marek said during the talk aimed at encouraging more of the low-level security analysis. “This is the only way to push vendors to update BIOSes for older platforms.”

A $10 USB charger with built-in wireless keylogger means more security headaches – Think that keeping hackers out of your digital fortress is already hard work, or that that BYOD is a security timebomb waiting to blow up in your face? Well, here’s something new for you to worry about – a $10 USB charger that features a built-in wireless keylogger.

Corel software vulnerabilities let attackers execute malicious code on your PC – The vulnerable products are CorelDRAW X7, Corel Photo-Paint X7, Corel PaintShop Pro X7, CorelCAD 2014, Corel Painter 2015, Corel PDF Fusion, Corel VideoStudio PRO X7 and Corel FastFlick, the Core Security researchers said in an advisory published Monday. Other versions might be affected too, but they haven’t been checked, they said.

Company News:

Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe agree to settlement in employee-poaching lawsuit – Four of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, including Google and Apple, have agreed to a new settlement deal in an antitrust lawsuit over alleged agreements the firms had not to poach each others’ employees. Adobe, Intel, Google, and Apple reached an agreement on Tuesday four years after the lawsuit, which accused the companies of limiting job mobility, was brought against them by workers in the tech sector. The full cost of the new settlement has not yet been revealed, but in court documents seen last year, judge Koh said that a new settlement would have to total at least $380 million. The companies involved in the case have yet to comment on the agreement, but Reuters says a court filing to be published “imminently” will offer a detailed explanation of the new settlement.

Apple camera patent takes aim at GoPro’s market – The Apple Watch is coming in a few short months, but a new patent granted to Apple details it may work with more than an iPhone. The patent awarded to Apple is for a sports camera that can be mounted, much like a GoPro. The patent also tells us the camera will work underwater, and can be controlled remotely via a smartwatch. The camera patent includes another patent Apple has, which they purchased from Kodak in 2013. News of the patent sent GoPro investors scurrying.

Google enters domain hosting business with Google Domains – Currently only available to users in the US, Google is offering to host domain names from $12 a year, which will vary based on the top-level domain that users choose. According to Google, Domains will help users find, buy, transfer, and manage domains and directly connect with website builders including Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix. As part of signing up, features that will be made available to users include email forwarding, the ability to customise sub-domains, and access to management tools. Users will also be provided with private registration at no additional cost, Google said.

Tinder taps ephemeral messaging market with Tappy acquisition – It’s likely that Tappy’s expertise will be used to expand Tinder Moments, an update to the dating app released last June that lets users broadcast photos to matches. Using Moments, users can draw on their photos and add captions and filters — all in the hope that an extra flash of social media peacocking will attract the right date. Tappy’s engineers could expand this functionality (perhaps adding direct photo messaging) and maybe even help Tinder take its relationship with its users up a level — from dating app to social media messenger.

Apple and Ericsson in court over LTE wireless patent royalties – It’s been a while since we have seen a major lawsuit between major technology firms, but we have a new one today. Apple has filed suit against Ericsson over LTE patents that Apple claims aren’t essential to industry cellular standards. Apple alleges that Ericsson is demanding excessive royalties for the patents in question.

Sony reportedly open to sale of mobile, TV divisions – Among all the turmoil you’ve read regarding Sony recently, a larger narrative is taking place. The company’s ability to turn a solid profit has come under scrutiny the past few years, which prompted them to sell their VAIO brand. According to a new report, Sony is also entertaining a similar move for TV and mobile. They’re entertaining the sale of just about every segment they do business in, according to sources. That could spell trouble for Sony’s various arms, or signal a rebirth.

Games and Entertainment:

Rockstar Delays GTA V for PC Launch Until March – Lame news, PC gamers. Rockstar on Tuesday announced it needs a few extra weeks to finish up the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V. The PC version was originally scheduled to come out on Jan. 27 — more than a year and a half after the game’s original release. Now, Rockstar has pushed the launch back another two months — until March 24.

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Dying Light preview: Zombies are even more stomach-churning in virtual reality – I just spent the last twenty minutes or so playing Dying Light in virtual reality—alternately creeping through darkened streets attempting to avoid the walking dead and then sprinting terrified across rooftops trying to escape the throng behind me. I’m a little sweaty. I’m a little nauseous. And I’m a lot excited.

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Cord-cutting trends and predictions for 2015 – In 2014, pay-TV subscriptions recorded their first full year of decline, and studies show that more people are abandoning cable or never getting it in the first place. The shift to streaming has put pressure on TV networks such as HBO and Showtime, who are finally seeing the light and making plans to offer standalone online video services. Sony even announced a streaming-only TV service, and while it may not be cheaper than cable, it will do away with cable’s most unsavory practices. So what can we expect in 2015? Here are my predictions.

World of Warcraft may be going free-to-play – For over a decade, Blizzard’s epic fantasy adventure World of Warcraft has utterly dominated the MMORPG landscape. With over 12 million subscribers at its peak in 2010, it’s not even a competition. But while the cash it’s raked in from monthly subscriptions is enough to rival the economies of small countries, long-term growth can also be as important as short-term profits, and it looks like the next step for World of Warcraft might be growing into the world of free-to-play. The rumor first appeared after dataminers combed through the upcoming Patch 6.1 and found files referring to a new “Veteran Edition.”

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The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – Let us know what you think about the movies on our most-bootlegged film list. If you’ve seen those flicks and think they’re worth watching by any means possible, share your opinions in the comment section below. We’d love to hear them! If you have strong thoughts about piracy, on either side of the equation, let us know that, too. And remember, watching bootleg streams and Torrents is illegal, folks.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bloke in Belgium tries to trademark Je Suis Charlie slogan – An, er, enterprising individual has attempted to register the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” as a trademark in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The Benelux Trademarks Office told El Reg on Tuesday that it had received an application in Dutch to register the slogan just one day after the staff of Charlie Hebdo were murdered in an extremist attack last Wednesday. Many have been quick to condemn the attempt to cash in on the atrocity, although this is not the first such attempt, as T-shirts bearing the slogan were for sale in Paris just days afterwards.

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Local Motors 3D prints a car at the Detroit Motor Show – Local Motors is pioneering a 3D-printing technology in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory that squeezes carbon-reinforced ABS plastic through an ink-jet like nozzle so, bit-by-bit, an entire car chassis can be created. The carbon fiber gives the plastic a lot more strength. The company’s Strati concept took about 44 hours to be printed and consists of about 1,100 pounds of plastic, which costs about $5 per pound. The car’s battery has a range of between 40 miles and 60 miles depending on the driving conditions. Before the cars hit the street, they will have to pass safety crash tests.

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4 Reasons You’re Not Sleeping (and What You Can Do About Them) – Unfortunately, getting good sleep is a struggle many of us face, and it’s not entirely a modern dilemma. Yes, blinking cell phones, bright alarm clocks, and dinging computers are relatively new in human history and may make the bedroom less relaxing and more taxing, but other factors can interfere with your sleep pattern, too. This month, get serious about getting more shut-eye. Here are some real solutions to the most common sleep obstacles.

Watch This Crazy Swedish Cartoon Meant To Teach Kids About Their Bodies – This video from a Swedish kids’ show is meant to teach children about their body parts. You won’t be able to get the tune out of your brain, and you won’t be able to un-see it, but it’s totally worth it.

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Everyone’s Angry About a Swedish Music Video Featuring Penises and Vaginas – Some people are obviously concerned about little kids being exposed to genitals, but others complained that the video promoted restrictive gender norms and transphobia.

Cops charged after police body cams capture them killing homeless man – Two Albuquerque, New Mexico police officers were charged Monday with suspicion of murder after cop body cams filmed them killing a knife-wielding homeless man who was camping in nearby city hills. James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man, died in March after he was shot by a shotgun, bombarded with shots of nonlethal bean bags and was the target of flash-bang grenades following an hours-long standoff with police. The police said they were dealing with Boyd because he was breaking the law by camping in the Sandia Mountains above the city.

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This is just one of 40 shootings, 27 of them fatal, by police officers in Albuquerque since 2010.

Pointing up    Unbelievable – a Brazilian death squad in America! Let’s see some old fashioned Western frontier justice that Americans seem to rave about. Hang each and every one of these bastards from the nearest tree!

Je Suis James Boyd!

A website called PuppySwap has an idea for you: Just trade your grown dog in for another puppy! – There are swap services for everything from housing to Lego sets, why not pets? Sounds great, right? No, I didn’t think so either. And it’s likely that most people who visit PuppySwap.ca won’t be too fond of the idea either — and that’s exactly the point. PuppySwap.ca is an ironic website launched by the Toronto Humane Society to bring to light the fact that each year thousands of dogs are turned over to shelters by people who simply weren’t in for the long haul.

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Something to think about:

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

–        George Orwell

Pointing up  This observation is especially applicable to the Cops charged after police body cams capture them killing homeless man report. A clear cut case of murder which will be defended by those who support brutality at every level.

Today’s Free Downloads:

Prey – Prey lets you keep track of your phone or laptop at all times, and will help you find it if it ever gets lost or stolen. It’s lightweight, open source software, and free for anyone to use. And it just works.

How it works:

Basically you install a tiny agent in your PC or phone, which silently waits for a remote signal to wake up and work its magic.

This signal is sent either from the Internet or through an SMS message, and allows you to gather information regarding the device’s location, hardware and network status, and optionally trigger specific actions on it. Next

Features:

100% geolocation aware – Prey uses either the device’s GPS or the nearest WiFi hotspots to triangulate and grab a fix on its location. It’s shockingly accurate.

Wifi autoconnect – If enabled, Prey will attempt to hook onto to the nearest open WiFi hotspot when no Internet connection is found.

Light as a feather – Prey has very few dependencies and doesn’t even leave a memory footprint until activated. We care as much as you do.

Know your enemy – Take a picture of the thief with your laptop’s webcam so you know what he looks like and where he’s hiding. Powerful evidence.

Watch their movements – Grab a screenshot of the active session — if you’re lucky you may catch the guy logged into his email or Facebook account!

Keep your data safe – Hide your Outlook or Thunderbird data and optionally remove your stored passwords, so no one will be able to look into your stuff.

No unauthorized access – Fully lock down your PC, making it unusable unless a specific password is entered. The guy won’t be able to do a thing!

Scan your hardware – Get a complete list of your PC’s CPU, motherboard, RAM, and BIOS information. Works great when used with Active Mode.

Full auto updater – Prey can check its current version and automagically fetch and update itself, so you don’t need to manually reinstall each time.

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Advanced SystemCare 8 Free – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dianne Feinstein, Strong Advocate of Leak Prosecutions, Demands Immunity For David Petraeus – This generous mentality of mercy, forgiveness and understanding – like Obama’s decree that we Look Forward, Not Backward to justify immunity for American torturers – is reserved only for political officials, Generals, telecoms, banks and oligarchs who reside above and beyond the rule of law.

David Petraeus, the person who Feinstein said has “suffered enough,” was hired last year by the $73 billion investment fund KKR to be Chairman of its newly created KKR Global Institute, on top of the $220,000/year pension he receives from the U.S. Army and the teaching position he holds at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Let us all pause for a moment to lament the deep suffering of this man, and the grave injustice of inflicting any further deprivation upon him.

Obama revives call for immunity to companies sharing threat data – Dusting off a 2011 to-do list, U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to propose legislation to protect companies sharing computer threat data with the government from prosecution, according to reports.

In 2011, Obama had recommended legislation that would provide for companies to voluntarily share cybersecurity information with the federal government and had proposed offering them immunity when sharing cybersecurity information with the Department of Homeland Security.

“At the same time, the proposal mandates robust privacy oversight to ensure that the voluntarily shared information does not impinge on individual privacy and civil liberties,” according to a brief circulated by the White House at the time. But Congress did not pass this and some other cybersecurity proposals outlined in 2011.

The hack in November of Sony Pictures and earlier breaches of the point-of-sale systems of retail giants like Home Depot and Target have however brought in a new sense of urgency to the measures.

DOJ report sheds light on FBI’s role in overseeing NSA’s PRISM surveillance – A declassified Justice Department report shows that the FBI conducts oversight on the NSA’s PRISM email surveillance program. Since 2009, the FBI has been ‘retaining copies of unprocessed communication gathered without a warrant to analyze for its own purposes.’ Regarding surveillance, Attorney General Holder spoke about monitoring homegrown terrorists and prosecuting former CIA Director Petraeus for pillow talk.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 13, 2015

UK’s David Cameron wants to kill Snapchat;  Five ways to lower your smartphone data consumption;  Windows 7 support: What happens on January 13, 2015?  A list of all the Google Now voice commands;  8 handy iOS tips you’ll use;  The best Android apps for skiers and winter sports fans;  Android Malware Looks Safe, Steals Your Photos and Messages;  Instagram fixes flaw that let people see your private photos;  The Windows 10 vs. Chrome OS battle;  App Store now has sub-section just for kids’ games;  Google Translate app updated;  Call of Duty makes first trip to China with launch of public beta;  Paragon Backup & Recovery Free.

UK’s David Cameron wants to kill Snapchat — because TERRORISTS – After an unsuccessful attempt to annul the Law of Gravity, UK prime minister David Cameron is now trying something easy, something he believes he can accomplish: Pass a law banning all apps and messaging services that use end-to-end encryption. That sounds doable, right? Because no one will continue to use Tor, anonymous proxies, PGP, custom encryption algorithms or the dark net after David Cameron passes his new legislation.

Pointing up   In other places, in other times – this man would have been seen as part of the lunatic fringe. What a clueless wanker!

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Cameron: I just don’t get it.

UK declares war on privacy under the facade of “national security” – Great Britain just isn’t that great anymore. An astounding erosion of my home country’s fundamental civil liberties and freedoms has made it difficult to envision one day returning home.

Five ways to lower your smartphone data consumption – Even if your plan is “unlimited,” there’s almost always an asterisk. After you burn through the first couple gigabytes, your high-speed connection throttles back to something closer to dial-up. (Talk about horrors!) And if you’re with a pay-as-you-go service like Ting, unchecked data consumption could leave you in a higher-priced tier when the bill comes due. Here are five of the biggest data hogs you want to avoid (or at least reduce) when there’s no Wi-Fi available:

Windows 7 support: What happens on January 13, 2015? – January 13 is the date when Microsoft’s mainstream support for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 ends. Here’s what this means, and doesn’t.

8 handy iOS tips you’ll use – In a small tribute to the eight years since Apple introduced its “Widescreen iPod with touch controls,” otherwise known as the iPhone, I’ve assembled 8 handy iOS tips for iDevice users.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – 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. The part of the phrase in [brackets] can be replaced with any similar term you choose. If Google Now doesn’t get your spoken commands right, you can correct it by saying “No, I said…” and trying the phrase again.

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The best Android apps for skiers and winter sports fans – If you’re headed for a day of skiing or other winter sports it pays to know the details beyond just what a general forecast provides. Android has plenty of good weather apps, but you’ll want more specific winter weather details to make for a more enjoyable day on the slopes. Whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, or just some winter-themed fun in the mountains, grab these apps to make sure your next adventure starts off on the right foot.

Google Translate app update said to make speech-to-text even easier – Google’s translation app will be updated so it can recognize any popular spoken language and automatically translate it into text, according to a report in The New York Times. Available in the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store, the Google Translate app offers spoken and written translation among 90 languages. You can translate using speech, handwriting and even a camera. Sounds impressive already. So what improvements could be in in the works?

The Windows 10 vs. Chrome OS battle means it’s a great year to buy a PC – Consumers will benefit from the competition: Cheaper Windows machines will try to keep people from straying to Chromebooks, and people who skipped Windows 8 will have a new crop of Windows 10 machines waiting for them.

Microsoft Spartan: One browser for all versions of Windows 10 – We have learned a bit more about how Spartan will work and what features the browser will include when it launches with Windows 10, ahead of the announcement later this month.

Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop app now lets you access a home PC from your iPhone – Once the app’s downloaded, you just install an accompanying Remote Desktop app in your Chrome browser and from that point on you can access your home PC or Mac from pretty much anywhere: Android, iOS, the desktop Chrome browser, and Chromebooks can all get you there in a pinch. The Android app is pretty well reviewed with an average of 4.4 stars among users — so hopefully the iOS counterpart meets that reputation. How responsive and lag-free the overall experience is will likely hinge on the strength of your data signal, but it’s free, so Chrome Remote Desktop might be worth a try over costlier options like LogMeIn.

80% Of All Online Adults Now Own A Smartphone, Less Than 10% Use Wearables – If people are looking to Apple and its new smartwatch to kickstart wider consumer interest in wearable computing gadgets, the maker of the iPhone will have a lot of work ahead of it. New research out from the GlobalWebIndex indicates that in a survey of 170,000 adult internet users across 32 markets, only 9% report having a smartwatch, and 7% said they owned smart wristbands. In contrast, among online adults, 80% now own a smartphone. The proportion of smartphone ownership has reached a new high, but it has not yet overtaken legacy ownership and usage of PCs, which is currently at 91% of all online adults.

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PayPal Credit Expansion Now Lets Merchants Set Terms, Including Option For Interest-Free Payments – Last July, PayPal rebranded its Bill Me Later service as “PayPal Credit,” as a part of the company’s efforts to bring its credit products “more to the center of PayPal.” Today, as promised earlier, PayPal Credit is expanding its support for monthly payments with an option for retailers that allows them to decide on the number of months and interest rates that work best for their customers. Retailers will also be able to choose to interest-free credit options for the first time, for their customers shopping online. With the upgraded PayPal Credit feature, customers will be able to divide larger purchases into smaller ones – allowing online shoppers to pay via PayPal when they may have otherwise turned to their credit cards.

Security:

Android Malware Looks Safe, Steals Your Photos and Messages – If you have an Android phone, you probably use it for everything. It’s your phone, your camera, and the best way to keep up with friends and family on the myriad of social networks at your disposal. This week, Malwarebytes tipped us off to a nasty app called PhoneSpy that takes advantage of our trusting relationship with our phones to harvest the most personal of information. This isn’t about leaking data to advertisers or SMS scams, this is about attackers stealing your photos, reading your messages, and tracking your location.

After throwing Microsoft under the bus, Google won’t patch flaw affecting nearly 1bn users – Last month, Google released details of a Windows flaw after being asked by Microsoft to wait two days for Patch Tuesday. A new report says Google won’t patch a flaw affecting nearly 1 billion users.

Hackers Flood Crayola Facebook Page With NSFW Images – Crayola apologized to fans on Sunday after hackers infiltrated the company’s Facebook page and flooded it with racy, lewd and bizarre posts. “Our sincere apologies to our Facebook community for the inappropriate and offensive posts you may have seen here today,” the crayon-maker wrote on its recently scrubbed Facebook page. The images ranged from sexual innuendos to pornographic cartoons, including one image that imagined what Disney cartoons might look like “If Disney Was for Adults.”

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The US Central Command Twitter account has been hacked – Central Command has already confirmed that the attack had no operational impact, describing it as “a case of cybervandalism.” Twitter worked directly with the Pentagon in resolving the hack, according to a statement, and the government is also taking measures to prevent future breaches. The General Services Administration has already ordered more than 800 federal managers to update their security settings.

Surprise! North Korea’s official news site delivers malware, too – A security researcher examining the website of North Korea’s official news service, the Korean Central News Agency, has discovered that the site delivers more than just the latest photo spread of Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong Un inspecting mushroom farms. There’s a little extra surprise hidden in the site’s code—malware. The news site appears to double as a way for North Korea to deliver a “watering hole” attack against individuals who want to keep tabs on the “activities” of the DPRK’s dear leader.

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Instagram fixes flaw that let people see your private photos – Instagram’s approach to privacy is nothing like the piecemeal strategy used by parent company Facebook. On the photo-sharing service, your privacy settings are limited to public and private—or at least that’s what we thought. Instagram just fixed a bug that let people see your private photos if they had once been public.

Company News:

AMD’s chip chief departs, as do other key execs – AMD chip chief John Byrne has left the company, accompanying AMD’s chief strategy officer and its chief marketing officer out the door, according to the company. No matter the rationale, it’s difficult not to see this as a cut at the heart of AMD. Success in the game console market aside, AMD has struggled, and most now consider AMD’s chips to be low-cost, value-oriented chips. The company’s strength remains its graphics business. This isn’t a deathblow by any stretch; AMD will live and die by its products. But it also needs as much help as it can to market and sell those products, and its partners will surely wonder what’s going on.

Spotify Now Has 15M Paying Users, 60M Overall Active Subscribers – Spotify, the music streaming service that is tipped to be soon in line for an IPO, has today announced that it now has 15 million paying users, and 60 million subscribers overall. To put this into some context, two months ago, the company said it had 12.5 million paying users out of 50 million subscribers. Both numbers indicate that Spotify is not moving the needle yet on its proportion of paying users — it’s holding steady at 25%, but nor is it dropping as the service grows. There are other signs that Spotify may be gearing up for a public listing. We’ve heard, anecdotally, that Spotify is quietly recruiting people that could help take the company through an IPO.

Capital One buys Level Money, an excellent spending tracker – Level, an elegant but slow-growing app for tracking your spending, has been acquired by Capital One, the companies said today. The app, which was a favorite of ours when it launched in 2013, monitors your purchases and tells you how much you can spend each day without overdrawing your account. Capital One, which started as a credit-card company but has growing ambitions as a bank, says Level will help it build products geared toward a younger generation. (The deal price was not disclosed.)

Citrix buys Sanbolic to virtualize storage for VDI, app delivery – Citrix Systems acquired storage virtualization vendor Sanbolic in a move that could make it easier for Citrix users to use applications and virtual desktops spread across data centers and clouds. Sanbolic sells software that lets enterprises treat the capacity in most types of storage infrastructure as a single virtual system that understands the needs of each application. Those capabilities play into Citrix’s mission of efficiently delivering virtual desktops to users and making applications fast and always available.

Games and Entertainment:

Call of Duty makes first trip to China with launch of public beta – The first-person-shooter franchise Call of Duty has set every sales record one can image for gaming. But for all its success, Call of Duty has been absent from the world’s most populous country — until now. Call of Duty Online, a free-to-play version of the first-person shooter, has officially launched in China on an open public beta, publisher Activision announced Monday. The game, specifically designed for China, is being released in partnership with Internet conglomerate Tencent Holdings, which is based there.

Amazon and Netflix snag Golden Globe awards as web shows ascend – Kevin Spacey wins actor accolades for House of Cards, while Jeffrey Tambor helps Amazon’s Transparent take a pair of awards.

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Faving Fantasy: Choose your own adventure on Twitter – Developer Terence Eden has written a text-based adventure game and launched it on social networking platform Twitter. Eden’s game is set up a little differently: rather than taking place in a single Twitter account, each option you can choose has its very own Twitter account, taking you through a thrilling chase as you flee from terrifying, undefined monsters.

Ultraflix wants to become the Netflix of the 4K generation – Ultraflix is busy licensing as much 4K content as it can for streaming rental, and even will convert old films in return for the 4K rights.

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App Store now has sub-section just for kids’ games – To better serve both parents and kids who want to find games in the App Store, Apple in now talking up their sub-category under the ‘Kids’ section. ‘Games for Kids’ features content for youngsters under 11, which is broken out further into age groups under that threshold. There are games for kids 5 and under, 6-8, and older kids aged 9-11. The sub-section for gaming also includes a free book aimed at familiarizing parents with content for kids, and outlines best practices for using those apps together.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Vibrating bike grips deliver ‘handy’ directions – Simply put the grips on your handlebars, launch the accompanying app to set up the notifications you want and enter your destination in your favorite mapping app. Then, put your phone away and the grips will guide you to the selected address. The right one vibrates when you need to turn right, the left one when you need to go left. The vibrations build in intensity as you near your turn. You can also set the grips to deliver customized notifications regarding road construction and other hazards you might encounter. Right now, there are still plenty of early-bird SmrtGrips left, so you can snag a pair for $59 (about £39, AU$72). After they’re gone, the price climbs to $64 and then $69 — both bargains off the expected retail price of $119 (about £78, AU$146). Shipping costs $10 for the US, $20 for Canada and $25 (about £17, AU$30) for other destinations. The campaign is seeking to raise $50,000 and ends March 12. Devices are expected to begin shipping in August.

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SmrtGrips are easy to install and easy to use. Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

Fox News expert’s mistake leads to hilarious Twitter rebuttal – Technically Incorrect: Appearing on Fox News, terror expert Steve Emerson claims that the UK’s second-biggest city, Birmingham, is a place non-Muslims dare not enter. This is severely untrue, as Twitter wittily explains.

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Disney Beachbot draws in the sand – This cute little robot looks like a turtle with a big orange shell and it is designed to do something fun at the beach. The Beachbot is designed to draw large scale art in the sand as it rolls around under its own power. The robot was designed by a team from ETH Zurich and the Zurich division of Disney Research.

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The 8080 chip at 40: What’s next for the mighty microprocessor? – It came out in 1974 and was the basis of the MITS Altair 8800, for which two guys named Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote BASIC, and millions of people began to realize that they, too, could have their very own, personal, computer. Now, some 40 years after the debut of the Intel 8080 microprocessor, the industry can point to direct descendants of the chip that are astronomically more powerful (see sidebar, below). So what’s in store for the next four decades?

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Something to think about:

A worldwide survey of writers affiliated with PEN shows a significant level of self-censoring. From the press release:

The report’s revelations, based on a survey of nearly 800 writers worldwide, are alarming. Concern about surveillance is now nearly as high among writers living in democracies (75%) as among those living in non-democracies (80%). The levels of self-censorship reported by writers living in democratic countries are approaching the levels reported by writers living in authoritarian or semi-democratic countries. And writers around the world think that mass surveillance has significantly damaged U.S. credibility as a global champion of free expression for the long term..

Today’s Free Downloads:

AlomWare Reset – Is your PC running sluggish but you hate rebooting because of the time it takes? Perhaps you hate closing all applications after a long work session, or before playing a game to ensure a smoother experience? Or maybe you just want to quickly close all windows and clear some tracks for privacy (like the clipboard and recent document history) before letting someone else use your computer.

Why wait for your PC to reboot? Quickly reset in 10 seconds instead! Often your PC doesn’t need a reboot to get that “fresh” feeling, but just needs all running apps closed and some key settings reset and/or cleared.

Rebooting helps, but the question then is: how can I reboot faster? Well, what if you could “reboot” and clear some privacy with just one click in around 10 seconds? AlomWare Reset works by quickly closing all applications and windows, clearing the clipboard and recent document lists, killing non-system processes, freeing memory, and defaulting other settings to their clean booted-like state.

The following will be performed upon reset:

All visible applications closed

All other open windows closed

All non-system processes ended

Memory of all running processes is freed

Clipboard data cleared

Recent document lists are cleared for privacy

PC remains running (woohoo!)

NumLock key is turned on (if currently off)

Startup apps are relaunched if not running

All sleeping drives are woken

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Paragon Backup & Recovery Free – Paragon Backup & Recovery 14 Free (64-bit) creates full or partial backups of data or entire discs, on schedule or demand. More importantly, it addresses one of the two biggest obstacles keeping many Windows users from backing up their systems: cost. We tried the 64-bit version; a 32-bit download is also available.

Pros

It’s free: Paragon’s free recovery tool has the essential capabilities of its premium backup solutions, but with fewer options.

It’s easy: The other obstacle to effective backups is usage: You can’t rescue your system from a backup that doesn’t exist. Too many users find backups confusing, but Paragon’s Virtual Disc Wizard walks you through each step.

Recovery drive: The Recovery Media Builder creates bootable USB drives or ISO files that can help you boot a sick PC and run a backup.

Cons

User Manual: Clicking User Manual tells you to go the product’s home page (no link) and download it yourself. A text Help file is included with the program files.

Go pro: Now that you’re considering backup software, take time to be sure you don’t need more than Paragon Backup & Recovery Free has to offer. Premium backup tools (like Paragon Backup & Recovery Home) cost much less than pro service or, worse, a new computer.

Bottom Line

No more excuses: Paragon Backup & Recovery 14 Free can back up and restore your Windows PC when things go drastically wrong — but only if you run it before you need it! That’s the other obstacle, and only you can address it.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

European Ministers Call For Increased Digital Surveillance After Paris Terror Attacks – And so it begins again; the customary fingerpointing at the Internet as a platform for fueling extremist hatred in the wake of the latest terrorist outrages in Europe — accompanied, in certain corners of the political arena, by calls for greater powers of digital surveillance to preemptively thwart acts of terror.

In a joint statement put out yesterday, the justice and interior ministers of 12 European countries — including the U.K., France and Germany — express concern at “the increasingly frequent use of the Internet to fuel hatred and violence and signal our determination to ensure that the Internet is not abused to this end”.

They also call for major ISPs to partner with governments to enable “swift reporting of material that aims to incite hatred and terror and the condition of its removing, where appropriate/possible”.

UK government could ban encrypted communications with new surveillance powers – Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, is calling for new surveillance powers in the wake of the recent shootings in Paris. Speaking at a public event in the UK this morning, Cameron outlined the government’s stance on secure communications that can’t be read by police or government agencies. “In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which […] we cannot read?” he asked, comparing letters and phone conversations to encrypted communications used online, adding that “we must not” allow a means of communication where individuals can communicate in secret over the internet.

Cameron’s comments call into question whether the UK government would seek to limit popular services like WhatsApp or Apple’s iMessage, both of which encrypt communications to prevent snooping. The Independent notes that such services could be banned or limited under future surveillance powers. While David Cameron’s government has controversially attempted to block all online porn by default, and even reportedly ordered the destruction of hard drives at The Guardian newspaper following leaked details of government snooping, Cameron defended the call for additional intrusive powers. “We have a better system for safe guarding this very intrusive power than probably any other country I can think of,” he said, noting that the monitoring doesn’t take place unless the Home Secretary “personally signs a warrant.”

Obama calls for new consumer, student, and energy data privacy laws – President Barack Obama is set to announce new legislation that aims to protect consumer privacy and student privacy and offer enhanced protection of home energy usage data, among other things. (Some of the new suggested policies were first put forth in 2012.)

According to a White House Fact Sheet published Monday, the president will re-introduce the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act, which would establish a federal standard. At present, nearly all US states and territories have some similar form of notification but the conditions under which that law is triggered and how long businesses have varies. Under the new proposed federal standard, companies would have 30 days to notify their customers after they discover a breach.

The president is also putting forth a new “Student Privacy Act,” which would require that data collected on students “is used only for educational purposes.” This proposed federal legislation, the White House notes, is modeled on California’s legislation, which was enacted in September 2014.

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