Monthly Archives: January 2015

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).

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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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 12, 2015

Top 100 Websites of 2014;  Anonymous hits the first target of ‘Operation Charlie Hebdo’;  Free antivirus scanners for Windows PCs;  How to send audio clips via SMS in Android;  Setting up a home router;  Remote access software tools: Be at your desktop when you are away;  Twitter’s new video service is coming;  Intel’s “Compute Stick” is a PC in an HDMI dongle;  iPhone Separation Anxiety Makes You Dumber;  Outlook.com saves files directly to OneDrive;  Microsoft abruptly dumps public Patch Tuesday alerts;  Macs vulnerable to virtually undetectable virus that “can’t be removed”;  Apple changing App Store prices;  The 10 Best Classic PC Games You Can Play Right Now;  SpyShelter Personal Free.

Top 100 Websites of 2014 – We’ll be honest. It’s harder and harder to find cool new websites—the real game-changers, the amazing destinations online that appeal to a broad audience because they’re just so cool. That’s because we’re in a mobile era—it’s hard to compete with apps. Uber doesn’t exactly work as well on your desktop as it does the phone, obviously. But nevertheless, we’ve braved the waters of the World Wide Web once again to find you a collection of 100 sites, new and old, that you should be bookmarking and visiting on a regular basis. As we said, the list is meant to appeal to a broad audience, across all ages and groups and demographics—as long as you’re online regularly, we feel these sites will be useful.

Today’s computers face more attacks than ever – Getting computer infections more often? You’re not alone. Infections from malicious software — harmful code that’s also known as malware and that includes things like computer viruses and worms — are keeping repair specialists like Jaljaa busy, thanks in part to an exponential rise in the types of malware hitting PCs. Malware detections by AV-Test, a company that tests the effectiveness of antivirus software, spiked in 2014 to more than 143 million, up 72 percent from last year, according to a report released Thursday. To put that in perspective: there was more malware found over the last 2 years than in the previous 10 years combined.

Free antivirus scanners for Windows PCs – No one wants malware on their PCs, so antivirus and antimalware scanners are a must, but a quality scanner need not cost the earth. In fact, there are a number of free solutions out there that will help keep your digital empire safe. Here are six top-quality scanners that will help you clean up systems and keep them safe in the future. There are tools here for systems ranging from Windows XP to Windows 8.1.

Windows 7 hits mid-life, but no crisis — yet – Windows 7 will reach the midpoint of its support lifetime this week when it shifts from what Microsoft calls “mainstream” to “extended” support. The world’s most popular personal computer operating system exits mainstream support on Tuesday, Jan. 13. After that, although Microsoft will continue to issue security updates to all users for another five years, it will not add new features to Windows 7, and any non-security fixes — such as reliability and stability updates — will be issued only to organizations that have signed support contracts.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

‘Anonymous’ Member Calls For Revenge On Terrorists For Charlie Hebdo Massacre – Anonymous from around the world have decided to declare war against you, terrorists” a purported member of the hacktivist group said in a video uploaded to YouTube, referring to the killers responsible for the attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Speaking in French on Anonymous’s Belgian channel, the cybervigilante warned terrorists, “We will track all your online activity, we will close your accounts on every social network.”

Anonymous hits the first target of ‘Operation Charlie Hebdo’ – After the recent terrorist attack on France-based satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which globally besmirched the name of Islam, hacking group Anonymous has launched an offensive against Islamic websites promoting extremism in any way. The initiative code-named ‘#OpCharlieHebdo’ seeks to shut down extremist websites through rather unsophisticated but effective DDoS attacks; the same method used by Lizard squad to render Xbox Live and PlayStation Network offline last month. The group carried out its first attack on the afternoon of 10 January on ansar-alhaqq.net; the website was reportedly classified by French newspapers as a ‘Jihadist website’ in 2013.

How to send audio clips via SMS in Android – Have you found yourself in a spot where you need to say more than a text but less than a call? If so, Jack Wallen shows you how to attach a voice recording to an Android Messaging text.

Remote access software tools: How to be at your desktop when you are away from your desk – Want access to your desktop PC when away from your desk? Fear not, here are a handful of apps to help keep you work like you’re in the office when you’re actually away somewhere else.

How your out-of-date, unsexy smartphone can save you money – Wireless providers like AT&T and Verizon are finally offering subscribers an incentive not to upgrade to the latest, greatest phones. Here’s how to take advantage of the change.

iPhone Separation Anxiety Makes You Dumber, Study Finds – Ever feel anxious when you’re not around your iPhone at school or at work? That separation anxiety might be impacting your cognitive abilities, a recent study found. Researchers discovered that iPhone users solving a series of puzzles performed better when they had their iPhones with them, according to a Thursday statement by the University of Missouri. When deprived of their iPhones, the study’s participants experienced significant physical changes — elevated heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety — alongside poorer cognitive performance.

Intel’s “Compute Stick” is a full Windows or Linux PC in an HDMI dongle – The micro USB port used for power, the small power button, and a full-size USB port for use with peripherals or hubs are lined up on the left side of the stick, while a microSD card slot for expansion is on the right side. It will come in two different flavors: a Windows 8.1 version with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage for $149, and a Linux version with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage for around $89. Intel says that Ubuntu will probably be the distribution of choice for the Linux version, though installing an alternate distribution should be just as easy as it is on a regular PC. Both sticks come with a quad-core Bay Trail Atom Z3735F, Bluetooth 4.0, and 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi. They should be available in March.

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Google reportedly preparing real-time voice translation for its Android app – Following a similar release from Microsoft named Skype Translator, Google is reportedly preparing the release of its own real-time voice translation and transcription service.

Outlook.com now allows you to save files directly to OneDrive – If you have an Outlook.com email address, Microsoft is rolling out a new feature that allows you to save attachments directly to OneDrive; not everyone has it yet but hopefully should soon.

Fasetto’s Link wearable solid state drive puts a terabyte on your wrist – The Link carries up to 1TB of storage and serves your files to nearby devices over Wi-Fi. Users will have access to their files through a Web-based client or through native apps for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux. Fasetto promises read-write speeds of 530 Mbps and 470 Mbps, respectively. Oh, and the Link also includes fitness-tracking features—because why not?—and is waterproof up to 15 meters in case want to take your precious files for a dip. I asked to try on the Link myself during CES, but the company wouldn’t let me, citing previous thefts by other attendees.

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Setting up a home router – It might seem like a daunting task to set up a new home router. But it doesn’t have to be if you understand the most common way routers are managed: through the Web interface. The hardest part of using the Web interface is getting to it. Once you have gotten there, the rest, at least most of it, is self-explanatory.

WattUp router can beam wireless power to 12 devices 15 feet away – Your future home might have color-changing E Ink walls, and it may also be totally devoid of wall warts. A new wireless power “router” being shown at CES can charge multiple devices in a 15-foot radius. The two-tone rectangular box you see mounted on the wall up above is a WattUp transmitter from the wireless power people at Energous. WattUp is capable of delivering .25W to 12 devices or 4W to up to four devices (up to five feet away, dropping to 1W at 15 feet) at the same time, and it’s smart about how it does it.

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Twitter’s new video service is coming in the next few weeks – Twitter’s upcoming video service, a potential competitor to industry giant YouTube, is only a few short weeks away – and once launched, will allow users to edit and post lengthy videos.

Security:

Microsoft abruptly dumps public Patch Tuesday alerts – For the first time in a decade, Microsoft today did not give all customers advance warning of next week’s upcoming Patch Tuesday slate. Instead, the company suddenly announced it is dropping the public service and limiting the alerts and information to customers who pay for premium support. The change also applies to the occasional alerts that Microsoft issued when it gave customers a heads-up about an impending emergency patch. ANS will no longer provide public alerts for those “out-of-band” updates. Security professionals torched Microsoft over the change.

Macs vulnerable to virtually undetectable virus that “can’t be removed” – A security researcher has discovered a way to infect Macs with malware virtually undetectable, that ‘can’t be removed,’ and which can be installed using a modified Apple gigabit Ethernet Thunderbolt adapter.

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‘Silk Road Reloaded’ Just Launched on a Network More Secret than Tor – A new anonymous online drug market has emerged, but instead of using the now infamous Tor network, it uses the little known “I2P” alternative. “Silk Road Reload​ed” launched today, and is only accessible by downloading the special I2P software, or by configuring your computer in a certain way to connect to I2P web pages, called ‘eepsites’, and which end in the suffix .i2p.

Avoid Aviator browser if you care about security and privacy, Google warns – On Thursday, WhiteHat Security released its privacy-centric Aviator browser to the open-source community. Available for both Windows and Mac users, the browser is billed as “the Web’s most secure and private browser,” as the “big browsers” are not doing enough to protect user’s sensitive information. However, within hours of the release, Google security engineers publicly revealed a number of dangerous vulnerabilities which contests WhiteHat Security’s claims. The spin-off browser, which is built based on Chromium code, was found to have a severe remote code execution vulnerability as well as a number of other bugs.

Dynamics Inc. aims to improve security on credit cards with e-ink displays – Dynamics Inc. intends to update the credit card by introducing dynamically changing security codes. They will also utilize e-ink displays for the front and back to provide better security.

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Quantum storage breakthrough key to ‘unbreakable’ encryption – A new quantum hard drive jointly developed by researchers in Australia and New Zealand could lead the way to an ‘unbreakable’ worldwide data encryption network.

Inside CryptoWall 2.0: Ransomware, professional edition – In a blog post this week, researchers Andrea Allievi and Earl Carter of Cisco‘s Talos Group presented a full code dissection of CryptoWall 2.0 and found a few surprises, aside from using a number of different, sophisticated features to attack systems and evade detection before it can strike. And while the malware is 32-bit Windows code to ensure the widest reach possible, it can detect when a 64-bit Windows environment is available and switch some of its functionality to run in full 64-bit native mode—ensuring it can do maximum damage on the most recent Windows client and server platforms.

Company News:

Microsoft slams Google for spilling the beans on Windows 8.1 security flaw – Microsoft has heavily criticized Google and the company’s security disclosure policy after the firm publicly revealed a Windows 8.1 security flaw just days before Microsoft planned to issue a patch to kill the bug. In a lengthy blog post, senior director of the Microsoft Security Response Center Chris Betz said that the threat landscape is becoming increasingly complex, and it is time for companies to stand together in response — rather than stand divided when it comes to cybersecurity strategies, such as in vulnerability and threat disclosure, as well as the release of security patches and fixes.

Alibaba to join Microsoft’s fight against pirate software in China – Microsoft and Chinese online commerce giant Alibaba have signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the Chinese firm take measures to help protect Microsoft’s intellectual property in its online stores. Microsoft has long struggled with software piracy in China, with then-CEO Steve Ballmer saying in 2011 that the company was missing something like 95 percent of potential revenue due to lax protection of intellectual property rights.

Twitter looks to expand advertising efforts beyond its own site – The Journal says Twitter plans to “sell ads within streams of tweets on other publishers’ apps and websites.” The idea, according to The Journal, is to “make money from the millions of people who see tweets all over the Web but don’t actually use Twitter.” Twitter, which announced its plans during a presentation this past week at CES, would share a portion of the revenue generated from the ads with the participating sites, according to the report.

Apple changing App Store prices in EU, Canada, Russia and other countries – Apple has announced that prices will soon be changing in the EU, Canada, Russia and other countries App Stores, with the EU, Canada and Norway seeing increases.

Games and Entertainment:

Online-Only Shows You Need to Watch Now – Let’s say it straight out: House of Cards and Orange is the New Black are both fantastic pieces of television. And they have the Golden Globe nominations to prove it. The bottom line? You don’t need a TV to watch quality scripted television. Here are PCMag’s picks for the best Internet “TV” shows currently available.

Microsoft announces Call of Duty tournament, top prize is $1,000,000 – Microsoft and Major League Gaming are teaming up to host and broadcast the largest Call of Duty Championship event in history. The finals, which are scheduled to take place in March, will be hosted in Los Angeles, CA and carries a grand prize of $1,000,000 to the winning team. The prize money is a huge step up from last years $400,000 grand prize and will be competed for using Sledgehammer’s newest Call of Duty Advanced Warfare game.

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The 10 Best Classic PC Games You Can Play Right Now – Earlier this week, the Internet Archive tanked the world’s productivity by re-releasing almost 2,400 classic PC titles, all playable within a web browser. With that many games, you can bet there’s a lot of bad ones, and sadly, some of the best titles don’t work. But these ten favorites not only function, they’re still fun.

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Oregon Trail

Evolve’s questionable bargain: Pre-purchase to avoid the unlock grind – The team behind Evolve announced today that Xbox One players who pre-purchase the game will have instant access to an entire tier of hunters—Parnell, Abe, Caira, and Cabot—as well as the third revealed monster, the Wraith. If you don’t pre-purchase the game, you can unlock all of these characters by gaining experience points through normal play. This instant access will apply to both the Xbox One exclusive open beta next week and to the full release of the game next month.

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Microsoft Studios: Users can now monetize their gameplay footage on YouTube and Twitch – Microsoft has noticed the increase in popularity of videos created using gameplay footage, screenshots, music, and other game content from the company’s titles, so they have announced a new formal policy that will allow people to make and profit from their derivative creative work, although with some caveats. Enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Microsoft will grant them “a personal, non-exclusive, non-sublicenseable, non-transferable, revocable, limited license for you to use and display Game Content and to create derivative works based upon Game Content”.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why Business Must Take The Lead In Protecting The Global Internet – Two very specific threats might well derail the global Internet. One is geopolitics. The other is network vulnerability. It’s time for business to get serious about addressing them both. Business leaders who would never dream of leaving it to others to maintain the key infrastructure of their enterprise are letting others define the Internet of tomorrow. It is a sad and shocking fact that most tech companies are simply free-riders. They benefit from the hard work and investment of a few star players like Facebook. It’s time for more of them to step up to the plate.

Modern forensics solves 700-year-old murder mystery – The contents of the bowels of an Italian medieval warlord have revealed his nefarious cause of death nearly 700 years later.

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Men Who Share Selfies Online Show More Signs of Psychopathy, Study Says – Men who post lots of selfies on social media networks are more likely to show signs of psychopathy, a personality disorder characterized by anti-social behavior, a new study says. The research, which surveyed 800 men ages 18 to 40, also confirmed a common belief that men who share selfies online are more likely to be narcissistic, according to the study, published recently in Personality and Individual Differences. Narcissism and self-objectification were also linked to men who edit their selfies before posting them online.

This is what it might look like if Reading Rainbow hacked a road sign – If the 2007 Boston bomb scare is on the scary end of the public signage troll spectrum, this LA road sign manipulation is on the other. As LA Weekly reported, a Los Angeles transportation spokesperson said a curious message that appeared on one of its LED boards — “Read a fucking book” — was likely the result of an unauthorized intrusion. While I can’t take issue with the message, typical road sign messages include traffic and hazard advisories, not aggressive attempts at building public erudition.

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Pointing up  Couldn’t agree more!

Education plus ideology exaggerates rejection of reality – The researchers looked at two sets of questions about the Iraq War. The first involved the justifications for the war (weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda), as well as the perception of the war outside the US. The second focused on the role of the troop surge in reducing violence within Iraq. At the time the polls were taken, there was a clear reality: no evidence of an active weapons program or links to Al Qaeda; the war was frowned upon overseas; and the surge had successfully reduced violence in the country. On the three issues that were most embarrassing to the Bush administration, Democrats were more likely to get things right, and their accuracy increased as their level of education rose. In contrast, the most and least educated Republicans were equally likely to have things wrong. When it came to the surge, the converse was true. Education increased the chances that Republicans would recognize reality, while the Democratic acceptance of the facts stayed flat even as education levels rose. In fact, among Democrats, the base level of recognition that the surge was a success was so low that it’s not even clear it would have been possible to detect a downward trend.

Something to think about:

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

–     George Orwell

Today’s Free Downloads:

Hardwipe – Hardwipe can be used to permanently erase, or to “hard wipe”, data on disk and portable storage media to prevent personal and sensitive business information from ever being recovered. It can wipe entire drives, wipe files individually, and sanitize unused drive space. It supports right-click context menus within Windows file explorer, or can just be used as a standalone application.

Features:

Easily wipe entire drives and portable devices.

Wipe individual files or clean empty drive space of remanent data.

Right-click within Windows Explorer for Hardwipe commands.

Clear the computer swap-file*.

Wipe the contents of the Recycle Bin*.

Efficient — Hardwipe is fast in comparison other data wiping software.

Intelligent use of disk cache allows your computer to remain responsive during lengthy disk operations.

Automatic computer shutdown when wiping is complete.

Supports all major data wiping schemes, including: GOST R 50739-95, DOD 5220.22-M, Schneier & Gutmann.

Limitations: As of version 4.0.1, 32-bit is no longer supported. Version 3.1.1 is available for 32-bit users. The Portable Edition requires the Professional Upgrade before use.

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SpyShelter Personal Free – You Need the SpyShelter! The Internet is now a vital part of our personal and business lives. With increasing use of online systems, cybercrime also has grown exponentially. Information-stealing software are produced regularly and are used by thieves to steal personal and business information.

One of the most effective ways of stealing information is through a program that can easily be made to capture keystrokes. SpyShelter captures everything that a user is doing- keystrokes, mouseclicks, files opened and closed, sites visited. More sophisticated programs can capture everything a user sees on his screen when performing a screen capture: just the mere opening of a file can allow an information thief to steal your data.

These sophisticated and dangerous programs are called Keylogging programs (e.g. keyloggers, key recorder, keytrappers, key capture programs, etc.) and they are developed continuously all over the world. SpyShelter anti keylogger can protect you against attacks that happen even when you do ordinary computer tasks like: typing into your computer, getting screenshots, opening files, and visiting sites.

The SpyShelter monitors vulnerable and weak spots in your computer system to ensure that even the most advanced keyloggers are shut down even before these can launch a single dangerous attack against your computer. SpyShelter antikeylogger system is fast, efficient, and easy-to-use.

Features:

Webcam Logger protection:

SpyShelter defends you against hackers who would like to seize control of your webcam, even when it is switched off!

Key Logger protection (kernel mode also):

SpyShelter Stop-logger ensures that whatever your type into your computer is protected against dangerous people who steal your data! Whatever you enter into your computer will not leak to malicious parties.

System Defense:

SpyShelter guards your registry, your physical memory (RAM), and other sensitive computer parts and processes so that malicious code cannot be injected to seize control of your PC.

Internet security:

SpyShelter AntiNetworkSpy protactive module prevents dangerous trojans from stealing your private information while important SSL internet transactions. It also blocks HTTP/HTTPS trojans on user level as well as POP,SMTP,FTP, loggers.

Clipboard Logger protection:

SpyShelter shields sensitive data that can be found on you Windows clipboard as a result of copying, cutting, and pasting. This software ensures that these information will not be under malicious monitoring by other people.

Screen Logger protection:

When you take screen-captures, SpyShelter spots suspicious activity that might reveal sensitive data you enter into your computer such as bank account and credit card information.

Anti Sound logger:

SpyShelter unique security module that protects your system against VOIP sound trojan loggers. Can be useful when you use instant messangers for voice calls. This module also protect you against voice logger from your webcam or built-in microphone.

Limitations: 32 bit only. 64 bit requires the premium version.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Europe’s answer to France terror ‘attack on free speech’ is greater Internet censorship – About half of Europe’s member states are pushing for greater online censorship powers in the wake of the terror attacks in France earlier this month.

In a joint statement, interior ministers from 11 European member states — including Germany, Poland, Spain, and the U.K. — expressed condemnation of the attacks, while stressing further cooperation between their law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Members of the European Union, along with a delegation from the U.S. government — including outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder — adopted, among other sentiments, a resolution to create a partnership of major Internet providers to report and remove material associated with extremism.

Australia: Brandis takes the data-retention debate beyond logic – You’ve got to hand it to him. Australia’s favourite Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis QC, is certainly one for efficiency. Last year, he wasted so much time on complicated spin and used car grade salesmanship in his push for mandatory telecommunication data-retention laws. But now, well, just read the words he poured into The Australian on Monday morning.

Brandis has squeezed back his propaganda strategy to the bare essentials, giving it an almost elegant minimalism. A scare story. A reminder that the government is our protector. A repeat of the metadata lie. A reminder that the spooks really, really want that metadata. And a final reassurance about freedom.

“After the Martin Place siege and the atrocities in France, no rational person can dispute that the world — and the free and democratic West in particular — faces a profound threat that is likely to be with us for a long time,” Brandis begins.

Congress revives CISPA, and it may get the White House’s support this time – A prominent congressman has revived a controversial cybersecurity bill that would allow US technology companies and businesses to share private user data with the government.

The bill, formally known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), was re-introduced to the US House of Representatives late Thursday with very few changes from its original text when it was introduced two years ago.

The bill aims to “help businesses proactively prevent attacks by creating a system of voluntary information sharing between the public and private sectors.”

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) cited the recent Sony hack — which authorities claim was carried out by North Korea — as a reason to introduce the legislation, just days after the new congress began. “We must stop dealing with cyber attacks after the fact,” he said in a statement.

Ruppersberger is the only name on the bill so far, after he lost his 2014 co-sponsor of the bill, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), who earlier this year retired from Congress.

New Documents Show Thousands of Unreported Wiretaps by Canadian Cops – Very few law enforcement and government agencies in Canada openly detail the number of times they are legally authorized to eavesdrop on the communications of Canadians, making the true extent of electronic surveillance in Canada incredibly hard to gauge.

But according to documents obtained exclusively by Motherboard, we now know this: at least 6,000 wiretaps and intercepts were authorized per year across all levels of government in Canada as of 2011. The slide deck, obtained via an Access to Information and Privacy Act request, also shows that approximately 12,000 requests for call detail records (CDRs)—a log of numbers dialled—were authorized per year.

It is not clear whether those averages remain consistent today, but it is possible they may be even higher now given the increasing reliance on electronic surveillance in law enforcement investigations.

American Conservatives Are Using the Paris Terror Attacks to Call for More War on Terror – Even as the terrorism drama continues to unfold in Paris, many right-wingers are treating the events of the past few days as confirmation that their warnings about radical Islam were right all along. While Europe deals with its own racial tensions and immigration issues, America’s conservatives have seized on the attacks as an opportunity to reassert their hawkish national security policies and double down on the anti-terror strategies neocons have been pushing since 9/11.

Just days into the new legislative session, Republicans in Congress used the year’s first terror crisis to pillory Obama’s foreign policy, indicating they would try to force his hand on national security issues. “We must use this horrific attack as an opportunity to reevaluate our own national security posture,” South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, a leading neocon, said in a lengthy statement on the attacks. “I fear our intelligence capabilities, those designed to prevent such an attack from taking place on our shores, are quickly eroding,”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 7, 2015

The top 10 Windows and Mac downloads for 2014;  Start here: the best apps for all your new devices;  Pono Player hands-on: believe the hype;  These 6 Apps Will Help You Tell Amazing Stories With Just Your iPhone;  Man tweets ‘joke’ that he hit cyclist, gets fired;  The first things you should do with that new Android phone;  Protecting yourself on social networks;  Microsoft makes its Office for Android tablet preview apps available to all;  How to save a webpage as a PDF or MHT file;  Razer Unveils Its $100 Android-Powered Gaming Console;  AOL halts malicious ads;  Travel safely with your tech;  Over 2,300 MS-DOS games now completely free to play at Internet Archive.

Plus 26 additional newsworthy items:

The top 10 Windows and Mac downloads for 2014 – You, Download.com nation, got more than 630 million apps from our site in 2014. So, what had you downloading in droves? In a word, security — and no surprise, since this year brought Heartbleed and Shellshock; credit card and personal info stolen from Home Depot, Target, and JPMorgan; celebrity iCloud photo hacks; and much more. If you haven’t updated your protection yet, read our take on the best security options for your needs. Many of you found utilities on our site to clean up your computers — another way to sweep for unwanted programs, as well as to free up hard drive space and improve system performance. Read on to see the year’s most-downloaded apps for Windows and Mac, as well as 2014’s most popular newcomers.

Microsoft makes its Office for Android tablet preview apps available to all – The Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint previews for your Android tablet are now available to download from the Google Play store, even if you don’t have an invite.

How much free storage space does your smartphone really have? – The box might say that your smartphone comes with 16 gigabytes, 32 gigabytes or whatever of storage space, but how much actual free storage space will you have on your shiny new smartphone?

Start here: the best apps for all your new devices – This year we’ve picked out some of the very best apps, games, books, and downloads for your new devices. Dig into below for the very best Android apps, Android games, iPhone apps, iPad apps, iOS games, Kindle books, console games, and for your Mac and PC. They’re not the only ones you’ll ever need, but they’re enough to get you started.

Travel safely with your tech: How to prevent theft, loss and snooping on the road – When you travel, a whole fleet of electronics come with you. Smartphone and laptop are a given, but there’s a good chance you’re also toting a tablet, and maybe a cellular hotspot or dedicated GPS. All of them are juicy targets for bad guys. Here’s how to make sure your devices’ travels are just as safe as your own.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10: ISOs of new ‘consumer preview’ January build to be available at launch – Perhaps learning from previous feedback on the update process, Microsoft has listened and will be offering full ISOs alongside the next build update for Windows Insiders. It’s unclear when the next Windows 10 build will be pushed to the fast ring, or if it will in fact be called the ‘consumer preview’ but it’s likely to happen on or around January 21, which is when Microsoft will talk about the consumer features in Windows 10.

These 6 Apps Will Help You Tell Amazing Stories With Just Your iPhone – You’ve just come back from holiday vacation, and you’re looking for an easy way to share your incredible trip with all your friends. Sure, there’s Facebook and Instagram — but these six iPhone apps, recently highlighted by Apple, are purpose-built for the task and create beautiful-looking photo and video stories to boot.

How to save a webpage as a PDF or MHT file – You don’t need to be online to read a webpage. You can save one, with formatting and images, to local storage and read it later offline.

ZTE attacks US prepaid phone market with massive $200 phablet – ZTE sees big promise in the U.S. prepaid handset market, and is releasing a 6-inch smartphone with high-end specs, all for $200 when bought without a contract. The phone has a 6-inch high-definition display, 4G LTE connectivity, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 3200 mAh battery that will last an entire day, according to the company.

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Pono Player hands-on: believe the hype – It’s a true testament to the high-quality audio delivery of the Pono Player that we’re able to suggest that it’s all that it’s cut out to be at a tech convention. We’re at Showstoppers during CES 2015 and it’s loud – not deafeningly loud, but loud enough that it’s not an optimal environment for listening to tunes. This device delivers sound that’s next-level. With a pair of Sennheiser Momentum headphones plugged in, this music player brings a depth to music we simply did not expect. This device isn’t cheap. It’s going on sale on the 12th of January (that’s this next Monday) for $399. It’s also going to require that you purchase albums and individual music tracks direct from Pono. That’s also going to cost you around $25 per album – sometimes a few dollars more.

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Sony’s new Walkman: Impressive sound at an insane price – Sony’s new Walkman the ZX2 is designed to play high quality audio, but at $1,120 it’s not for the casual listener.

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How to install Microsoft fonts in Linux office suites – If you open a Microsoft Office document in LibreOffice or OpenOffice, you’ll need Microsoft’s fonts installed on your Linux system to see the documents as they were intended to look.

Facebook’s WhatsApp tallies 700M monthly active users – One of the world’s most popular mobile messaging services continues growth three months after Facebook acquisition.

Man tweets ‘joke’ that he hit cyclist, gets fired – Technically Incorrect: A UK stockbroker says that his tweet about hitting a cyclist with his car was merely a joke. Twitter users and his employers don’t find it funny.

You don’t need to back up Windows to the cloud – I love cloud-based data backup. It’s easy, automatic, and it stores your data far from your home or office. A single fire or flood can’t destroy both the PC and the backup. But to my mind, backing up Windows itself to the cloud doesn’t make sense. The advantages of online backup disappear when you have to restore Windows as well as your library data.

10 apps to swap – Not happy with your apps? Here are 10 you might want to exchange for another.

The first things you should do with that new Android phone – Tap in to Google’s services and some of the best Play Store options for getting the most out of that new device.

Security:

AOL halts malicious ads served by its advertising platform – AOL.com said Tuesday it has stopped malicious advertisements being served by its advertising platforms after being alerted by a security company. Cyphort, which specializes in detecting malware, found on Dec. 31 malicious ads being served on the U.S. and Canadian versions of the news site Huffington Post. The malicious advertisements redirected users to other websites that attacked their computers and tried to install malware, according to a blog post from Cyphort. Nick Bilogorskiy, [cq] Cyphort’s director of security research, said AOL.com was notified on Saturday and the attacks stopped on Monday. Cyphort’s logs showed the attacks started in late October.

Protecting yourself on social networks – We all love to spend time (some would say waste time) fooling around on Facebook, Twitter, and other services. We also use these sites for serious, professional reasons. But like almost everything else on the Internet, they’re inherently dangerous. Hackers can use social media to discover your private information and to deliver spam or malware. You can be stalked and bullied through social media. It can ruin your reputation, your career, and your life. So you need to protect yourself. Follow these rules and your online social life won’t become anti-social.

Take precautions when using public Wi-Fi networks – When you take your laptop to a library or café, you take a risk. But if you know what you’re doing, you can minimize that risk.

Company News:

FTC Closes Its Yelp Investigation Without Taking Action – One of the biggest and most influential review platforms in the world, Yelp has constantly been hit with claims that it manipulates reviews so its advertisers get higher rankings. This led to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission in early 2014 after 2,045 complaints were filed against the company. Now Yelp says the FTC has closed its investigation into Yelp’s business practices and decided not to take action. This is the second time that the FTC has investigated Yelp’s business practices, with the first one also being closed without any further action.

Motorola will re-enter the Chinese market with a new smartphone, the Moto X Pro – Motorola is going back to the Chinese market in style with the Moto X Pro, a 6-inch smartphone with a Quad HD display, 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805, front-facing stereo speakers, a 13-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 3,220 mAh battery pack. It’s basically the Nexus 6, though it will run pure Android without Google’s location services given that Google many of Google’s services are banned in China.

Report: Verizon may be planning to buy AOL – Verizon may be in the process of acquiring digital media company AOL, the Bloomberg news service has reported. Verizon is interested in AOL’s digital advertising unit, which it could incorporate into the mobile video service offered by its Verizon Wireless subsidiary, anonymous sources familiar with the talks told Bloomberg. As an alternative to an outright acquisition, the two companies may also be considering starting a joint venture that would bring the digital advertising capabilities to Verizon’s cellular network customers, according to the report.

Games and Entertainment:

Razer Unveils Its $100 Android-Powered Gaming Console, Razer Forge TV – The Razer Forge TV is a micro-console, 4×4 inches and selling for $100, and Razer hopes it will give the company three new routes into your living room: as a platform for hardcore PC gaming, for Android gaming, and for Android-based entertainment services via Google Play. The Razer Forge TV is due out in Q1. The Razer Forge TV has all the features you would expect from a gaming console aimed at serious gamers: designed for up to four simultaneous players, it has quad-core processing (Qualcomm Snapdragon 805; Quad-Core Krait 450 CPU – 2.5 GHz per core); a high-end graphics engine (Adreno 420 GPU — which had also made its debut around the last Google I/O); wireless and network connectivity; 16 GB of internal storage and 2 GB of RAM.

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Over 2,300 MS-DOS games now completely free to play at Internet Archive – In 2013, the Internet Archive kicked off a major effort to store and host hundreds of classic video games for free play via your Web browser, and after a late 2014 addition of classic arcade games, the site’s Software Library exploded over the final week of 2014 with its biggest update yet: 2,334 MS-DOS games, all playable through a standard browser. “Some of [the games] will still fall over and die,” longtime IA curator Jason Scott wrote on his personal blog when announcing the new game selection on Monday, but our cursory tests have shown off remarkably functional MS-DOS games in our web browser; they all run via the Em-DOSBOX emulator, an offshoot of the same emulator that powers many antiques sold at archival games sites like GOG.com.

Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition out on PS3 and PS Vita today – The PlayStation Blog has announced that the critically acclaimed first person shooter, Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition will be available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita today.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The Internet of Things now has a gun – TrackingPoint is on hand at CES showing its new 338TP precision-guided firearm (pictured), which “allows even novice shooters to make mile-long shots with greater precision than the most skilled marksmen in the world — even on targets moving 30mph.” Look, I’m not trying to get into a discussion on gun rights or ethics or any of that. That isn’t my point. Right now, the Internet of Things is a technology story, but like all technological advancements it very quickly and necessarily becomes a culture story, a social story, and / or human story. This is just a reminder of the future ahead.

Pointing up   Nice! Putting automated killing – “allows even novice shooters to make mile-long shots with greater precision than the most skilled marksmen in the world — even on targets moving 30mph.” – into the hands of civilians. What could go wrong?

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Pointing up   But hey, American ingenuity has you covered.

Bulletproof baseball hat shields your noggin with casual style – The basic black BulletSafe hat is going for a $99 pledge. The project’s modest $3,500 funding goal has been exceeded to the tune of more than $8,300 with 20 days left to run. While the obvious market for the hat is with police and security professionals, some backers appear to be regular people who are concerned about safety in an increasingly unpredictable world. Another backer plans to wear the hat on the shooting range as an extra measure of protection.

Ford Has Big Plans For Autonomous Cars And The Future Of Driving – At its CES keynote today, Ford announced its Smart Mobility initiative, a set of 25 experiments ranging from big data analytics to a car swap service that let you swap your Mustang in for a minivan for the weekend. The company also talked about its plans for autonomous cars. Ford CEO Mark Fields noted four trends for the auto industry’s future: Increasing urbanization, and its constituent clogging of roads; a growing global middle class; air quality, or what you could call a lack thereof in many parts of the world; and finally, changing consumer sentiment, with shifts in the global economy seeing youths, for example, have different buying patterns than their parents.

FishBit Monitors Your Aquarium Health To Cut Down On Floaters – FishBit allows you to monitor your tank ecosystem, with the user providing info about tank capacity, fish makeup and more. Real-time notifications alert tank owners to problems, and the app allows them to actually take action via the connected power strip to turn on lights and activate other devices to respond to and address those issues.

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Google handled 345 million copyright takedowns in 2014 – Piracy news site TorrentFreak reports that Google removed 75 percent more URLs in 2014 than it did the previous year. Google doesn’t tally up annual totals, but it does release weekly reports on DMCA notices, and TorrentFreak took it upon itself to add up the weekly reports. Most of the takedown requests are honored. Google has a longstanding tradition of supplying DMCA takedown notices to Chilling Effects, a website that archives such requests.

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Google’s transparency report.

Watch Bill Gates drink water from human waste – Apparently it tastes delicious and could revolutionize sanitation in the poorest areas of the world. Gates isn’t one to shy away from good ideas, and his attention has also turned to the Janicki Bioenergy Omniprocessor. This machine takes in large quantities of untreated human waste and turns it into electricity, drinking water, and ash. You can see Bill Gates drinking the water it produces in the video below. A few minutes earlier that water was human waste.

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Something to think about:

“Follow the grain in your own wood.”

–      Howard Thurman

Today’s Free Downloads:

F-Secure Rescue CD – If your computer no longer starts due to malware corrupting the operating system, or you suspect the security software has been compromised, you can use the F-Secure Rescue CD to securely boot up the computer and check the programs installed.The Rescue CD can also be used for more advanced repair and data recovery operations.

The Rescue CD contains Knoppix (a derivative of Linux), an operating system that runs completely from the CD and allows access to your computer’s Windows operating system and hard disks.

Note: the Rescue CD cannot scan encrypted disks.

You can also download the Rescue CD updates to a USB drive (minimum 256 MB of free space) using a healthy computer with Internet access. You can use this USB drive to fix a computer that cannot connect to the Internet. Instructions on how to do this are included in the Rescue CD User’s Guide.

Prospector Lite – Automate your searching on eBay, Half and RSS feeds – one click to replay all your searches, another click to see the items listed since your last update. With Prospector, you can do this and more.

If you’re a power buyer, reseller or collector, Prospector will save you time and help you find the best items.

For long term searching, Prospector lets you:

Organize your searches and customize your results.

Encode your strategies, set up filters, and save everything for easy replay.

Search comprehensively and consistently, every time.

For short term searching, Prospector provides unique tools to help you uncover more items of interest.

Drastically reduce your search time. Find better faster. Prospector makes it easy!

Features:

Save and organize an unlimited number of searches.

Powerful filter options let you cut the noise.

See the search results as you like.

Customizable toolbar for short-term shopping and research.

Comparison shop across your favorite sites.

Automatic searches with email notification.

Add notes and highlighting, archive listings.

Hide items from future views.

Latest Listings feature lets you see the items listed between your search updates.

Extra search tools for casual browsing and discovery.

High productivity Watch lists.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Going postal: Reporter sues government for spying from USPS network – Sharyl Attkisson, the former CBS investigative reporter who published her claims of government intimidation, electronic surveillance, and cyber-attacks in a book last fall, has begun the process of taking the government to court over the hacking of her personal and work computers, as well as her home network.

In the process, Attkisson’s attorneys have begun to reveal the details of forensic investigations by computer security experts. In legal filings against the government, the attorneys disclosed which government agency’s network was the source of at least some of the hacks: the US Postal Service.

In an administrative claim filed on January 5­ under the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act and a complaint filed with the District of Columbia Superior Court, Attkisson’s attorneys gave an initial summary of their accusations against the US Justice Department, which they claim directed the surveillance of Attkisson as part of an ongoing Obama administration campaign against journalists and government employees acting as their confidential sources. Attkisson and her family have named outgoing US Attorney General Eric Holder, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, and “unknown named agents” of the Department of Justice and US Postal Service as defendants in the suit, seeking damages that could total approximately $35 million.

Ex-Microsoft Bug Bounty dev forced to decrypt laptop for Paris airport official – Paris airport security went one step further than simply asking a security expert to power up her laptop – they requested she type in her password to decrypt her hard drive and log into the machine.

Katie Moussouris, chief policy officer at HackerOne, and best known as the woman behind Microsoft’s Bug Bounty Program, was en route back to the US from the CCC hacking conference. She complied with the request in order not to miss her flight.

The computer never left her possession and the security agent never fully explained the request, according to Moussouris, and there’s no question that HackerOne customers’ vulnerability reports were exposed – no exploits were stored on the device.

Nonetheless, the incident at Charles de Gaulle airport has sparked a lively debate among privacy and security advocates. Moussouris has put together a blog post explaining her experience:

With Power of Social Media Growing, Police Now Monitoring and Criminalizing Online Speech – On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive device, and a national ritual of mourning and rage ensued. Prime Minister David Cameron called it a “desperately sad day for our country.” A British teenager, Azhar Ahmed, observed the reaction for two days and then went to Facebook to angrily object that the innocent Afghans killed by British soldiers receive almost no attention from British media. He opined that the UK’s soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty, their deaths deserved, and are therefore going to hell:

The following day, Ahmed was arrested and “charged with a racially aggravated public order offense.” The police spokesman explained that “he didn’t make his point very well and that is why he has landed himself in bother.” The state proceeded to prosecute him, and in October of that year, he was convicted “of sending a grossly offensive communication,” fined and sentenced to 240 hours of community service.

As demonstrators demanded he be imprisoned, the judge who sentenced Ahmed pronounced his opinions “beyond the pale of what’s tolerable in our society,” ruling: “I’m satisfied that the message was grossly offensive.” The Independent‘s Jerome Taylor noted that he “escaped jail partially because he quickly took down his unpleasant posting and tried to apologize to those he offended.” Apparently, heretics may be partially redeemed if they publicly renounce their heresies.

Criminal cases for online political speech are now commonplace in the UK, notorious for its hostility to basic free speech and press rights. As The Independent‘s James Bloodworth reported last week, “around 20,000 people in Britain have been investigated in the past three years for comments made online.”

‘We see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border,’ says Homeland Security – For eight years, the US Border Patrol has been using military Predator drones to keep an eye on the US-Mexico border — but a new report from the Department of Homeland security suggests it may not have been worth the trouble. The report, first dug up by Cyrus Farivar at Ars Technica, takes a skeptical look at the cost of flying the drone missions, and finds no plausible metric to justify the expense.

The Border Patrol had been hoping for an additional $443 million to expand the program, but the report puts that request in serious jeopardy. “We see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border,” said DHS Inspector General John Roth in a statement, “and there is no reason to invest additional taxpayer funds at this time.”

FTC chair worries about IoT privacy in CES speech – US Federal Trade Commission chair Edith Ramirez has used CES 2015 to explore the downside of the Internet of Things (IoT).

“The IoT could improve global health, modernize city infrastructures, and spur global economic growth,” Ramirez said in a speech (PDF) at the gadget-fest, before adding “Connected devices that provide increased convenience and improve health services are also collecting, transmitting, storing, and often sharing vast amounts of consumer data, some of it highly personal, thereby creating a number of privacy risks.”

Ramirez worries that “The introduction of sensors and devices into currently intimate spaces … allows those with access to the data to perform analyses that would not be possible with less rich data sets, providing the ability to make additional sensitive inferences and compile even more detailed profiles of consumer behavior.”

She’s also concerned that data from IoT devices could “be used in ways that are inconsistent with consumers’ expectations or relationship with a company”, such as offering different grades of service and different products to punters based on profiling. Garden-variety p0wnage is also on her mind, especially because of the sensitivity of personal data.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 7, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 6, 2015

7 critical things to do immediately with a new PC;  Three security-boosting steps to perform on every router;  How to set up an HDTV;  Netflix users worry about potential VPN ban;  Microsoft’s Nokia 215 Internet-Ready Phone Is Just $29;  Here’s Everything You Need To Know About 4K TVs;  The $30 Quad-Core MK808B Plus Android TV Stick;  Dish to offer one-month free trial of Sling TV service on Xbox One;  Microsoft goes to Vegas with new ‘Jackpot’ game (free);  Wireless smart bulbs could scare away burglars;  FBI says search warrants not needed to use “stingrays” in public places;  Could Depression Actually Be Nothing More Than an Allergic Reaction? QuickSetDNS (free).

Plus 20 additional newsworthy items:

7 critical things to do immediately with a new PC – So you’ve got a new PC. Awesome! That humble metal box is the key to a wide world of potential. It can help you with everything from juggling your finances to keeping in touch with Grandma to blowing off some steam on, uh, Steam. But a new PC isn’t like a new car; you can’t just turn a key and put the pedal to the metal. Okay, maybe you can—but you shouldn’t. Performing just a few simple activities when you first fire it up can help it be safer, faster, and better poised for the future. Here’s how to set up a new PC the right way, step by step.

Three security-boosting steps to perform on every router – The computer industry has worked hard to make sure that a lot of the gadgets we use are mostly plug-and-play. In other words, you just fire up the device, login and you’re ready to go—no configuration necessary. One device you should never consider “plug-and-play,” however, is your home’s network and wireless router. After the technician leaves your house there are a few important things everyone should do.

How to set up an HDTV – After you follow the instructions for getting the TV on its stand (if it isn’t already), the real setup begins. There are countless settings, options, and potential issues between box and beautiful picture. This how-to guide should help you navigate the waters of TV technology.

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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to set up your new Chromebook the right way – Setting up a new Chromebook is much easier than setting up a PC. Chromebooks don’t require major updates or antivirus software. You start simply by signing in with your Google Account (or creating that account, if you don’t already have one). All that said, Chromebooks have some unique quirks—such as limited offline capabilities, and a wonky method for connecting a printer. Here’s everything you need to know to set up your new Chromebook up the right way—starting with the tools that let you replace the Windows software that just won’t work on a Googley laptop.

Lost your digital stylus? Just write on Lenovo’s new Yoga tablet with a pencil–or a fork – If you’ve ever dabbled in pen-based computing, you’ve probably misplaced your pen. While Toshiba snuck a backup digital stylus into its new Portege, Lenovo’s approach on its updated Yoga Tablet 2 is even easier: just whip out a pencil. Or a pen, or even a fork. The Yoga Tablet 2’s innards are otherwise standard fare for a 8-inch, Windows 8.1 tablet. There’s a quad-core Bay Trail M-based Atom CPU, 2GB of DDR3L, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and a 1920×1080 touchscreen IPS panel. The unit weighs about 1 lbs. and will be available this month for $300.

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Netflix users worry about potential VPN ban – Hollywood is not happy that some people use virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around regional restrictions to access the U.S. version of Netflix. Now Netflix is making users and VPN providers nervous that a large scale VPN ban is in the works. Recently, users have noticed difficulties in getting the Netflix for Android app to work over VPNs and Domain Name System (DNS) services. VPN provider TorGuard also recently spoke with TorrentFreak to say it started receiving complaints about Netflix VPN blocking in December. Those TorGuard problems were apparently short-lived, but the VPN service is concerned that the small scale blocking could be a pilot test before a wider rollout.

Samsung Announces The T1, A Tiny Drive That Can Pack Up To A Terabyte – This afternoon in Las Vegas, Samsung announced a new storage product, the SSD T1, which can store up to a terabyte of content in a device the size of a business card and weighs about an ounce. The SSD T1 also comes in smaller, 256 gigabyte and 500 gigabytes versions. The device will retain for between $179 and $599, depending on how much storage capacity you need. The T1 ships this month.

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Here’s Everything You Need To Know About 4K TVs – Since 3D TV has been declared dead, manufacturers are now pivoting to 4K TV, a new super-high-definition resolution that’s supposed to put your current 1080p set to shame. But 4K (also known as “Ultra HD”) is still a new technology that’s yet to see wide mainstream adoption. Here, we offer a primer on the ins and outs on 4K and how to know whether it’s worth splurging on a new higher-def TV.

The $30 Quad-Core MK808B Plus Android TV Stick: First impressions & Unboxing – The MK808B Plus doesn’t have the most amazing specs, but the price is rock bottom and it makes for a great Chromecast competitor. Check out our first impressions and unboxing of this Android TV stick!

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Microsoft’s Nokia 215 Internet-Ready Phone Is Just $29 – Microsoft will offer a standard Nokia 215 and a dual-SIM version, which the company said is “perfectly suited for first-time mobile phone buyers or as a secondary phone for just about anyone.” The Nokia 215 will come with Facebook and Facebook Messenger pre-installed, and both apps will provide notifications. Microsoft said Twitter is also “easily accessible” but did not elaborate. To surf the Web, Opera Mini Browser and Bing Search are also there, as is MSN Weather and a built-in MP3 player and FM radio. It also sports a flashlight, which Microsoft said will be handy for those in developing regions with limited access to electricity. The phone will also pair with a Bluetooth headset or speaker.

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This is the reversible USB plug of your future – Type C USB 3.1 is spec’d to have speeds up to 10Gbps and can scale down to slower speeds easily if being hooked into older devices. The specifications were finally set in stone back in August, and cables should be entering production soon. The older USB plug that you’ve come to love and hate over the past few decades will surely endure for a long, long time, but at least we have hope for a reversible future.

HP Thinks It Can Take on Google With These Tiny Computers – The HP Pavilion Mini Desktop is the better equipped of the two, packing a 500GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM for $319. It stands 2 inches high, weighs roughly 1.5 pounds and is perfectly proportioned to go head-to-head against other desktop devices in the featherweight class, including the ASUS Chromebox and Mac Mini. The smaller unit, the HP Stream Mini Desktop, will sell for $179 and includes a 32GB hard drive with 2GB of RAM. The Stream Mini Desktop also comes with two years of free access to 200GB of cloud-based storage on Microsoft’ OneDrive to complement that internal storage.

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The Unexpected App Kids Are Using to Share Photos – “They laughed in my face when I asked what they thought about Facebook,” writes Business Insider’s Maya Kosoff in her report Friday on what she learned during the holidays from her younger cousins. “It’s for moms,” they explained. Then a 13-year-old cousin asked Kosoff if she knew about AirDrop. There followed an unsolicited endorsement for a little-known iPhone feature from a key Apple cohort: Schoolchildren with smartphones. Among the kids in her cousins’ New Jersey middle school, Kosoff reports, the most-used app for exchanging images during school hours isn’t Snapchat or Instagram, but AirDrop.

Security:

Take precautions when using public Wi-Fi networks – When you take your laptop to a library or café, you take a risk. But if you know what you’re doing, you can minimize that risk.

Moonpig makes a pig’s ear of security, exposes details of 3.6 million customers – The developer spotting the security vulnerability claims to have warned the greetings card company more than a year ago.

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HTTPS can be set as your super-cookie – A UK consultant has demonstrated how a feature of the secure Web protocol HTTPS can be turned into a tracking feature that is, in the case of some browsers, ineradicable. HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), described in RFC 6797 (here), is a mechanism that helps sites redirect users from the insecure HTTP version to the encrypted HTTPS version. If a user puts http://www.google.com into their browser, it’s HSTS that sends them to https://www.google.com. The problem is, someone thought it might be troublesome if the User Agent – that is, your browser – had to go through a redirect every time a user visited the https: site. So the authors of HSTS created a mechanism for browsers to remember the HSTS policy of sites they’ve visited. That’s what Sam Greenhalgh has identified as a kind of super-cookie, here.

Snooker WPA secrets with this Wi-Fi tool – Crypto geek George Chatzisofroniou has published a WiFi social engineering tool used to steal credentials and credit cards from users of secure wireless networks. The administrator at the University of Greece developed the WiFiPhisher tool which sought out and then replicated WPA-protected networks, sans password. The tool, yours for the taking on GitHub, spits deauthorisation packets at a legitimate access point jamming it and prompting users to inspect available networks. Users will see the malicious network masquerading as their trusted access point.

Apple Patches iCloud Hole That Let Hackers Break Into Anyone’s Account – Apple has patched an iCloud vulnerability that let hackers repeatedly attempt different passwords without the account locking down, making it possible to access any account with enough tries. iCloud has been under scrutiny after several celebrities’ accounts were breached last year. Apple said that hack was a targeted attack, and not the result of a vulnerability in its cloud storage service.

Company News:

Facebook Acquires Wit.ai To Help Its Developers With Speech Recognition And Voice Interfaces – Facebook today acquired Wit.ai, a Y Combinator startup founded 18 months ago to create an API for building voice-activated interfaces. Wit.ai already has 6,000 developers on its platform who have built hundreds of apps. As part of Facebook, Wit.ai could help the company offer voice control development tools alongside its Parse development platform, aid with voice-to-text input for Messenger, improve Facebook’s understanding of the semantic meaning of voice, and create a Facebook app you can navigate through speech.

Intel Shuts Down Russian Developer Forums To Comply With Russia’s ‘Blogger Law’ – Add Intel to the growing list of U.S. tech companies that are changing up some of their policies and business in Russia as a result of the government’s tightening reign on Internet use. Citing Russia’s new “Blogger Law” that was first introduced last year, Intel has shut down all of its popular Russian-language developer forums.

Games and Entertainment:

PS Now subscriptions to offer all-you-can-play access starting at $15/month – Starting January 13, PS4 owners in North America will be able to sign up for a PS Now subscription at $19.99 for one month or $44.99 for three months (A seven-day trial is available for new subscribers as well). A subscription will give players unlimited streaming access to more than 100 PS3 games, including high-profile AAA titles like Batman: Arkham City, Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, and XCom: Enemy Within. A full list of titles currently available on PlayStation Now is available here, but that list doesn’t include many games featured on promotional images and trailers accompanying the subscription announcement.

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Dish to offer one-month free trial of Sling TV service on Xbox One – According to a post on Microsoft’s Xbox Wire website, Sling TV will offer an “exclusive extended free trial for one month at launch.” The Internet-based service comes with 12 channels – ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN – and costs $20 per month with no long-term contract required. Xbox Live users won’t be automatically entered in the trial, however, and will instead have to sign up for the offer. An official release date for the Sling TV service and Xbox One app haven’t been revealed yet, though Dish and Microsoft say they will launch “in the coming weeks.”

The Assassin’s Creed movie is coming December 2016 – The good news: 20th Century Fox’s Assassin’s Creed film is back on track for a theatrical release. The bad news: you’re going to have to wait until the end of next year to see it. Fox said today that the film, based on Ubisoft’s popular video games and starring Michael Fassbender, will arrive in theaters December 21st, 2016. The film was originally scheduled for August 7th this year, but was pushed back late last year.

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Microsoft goes to Vegas with new ‘Jackpot’ game – Microsoft has released a new game to the Windows Store and for those of you who like slot machines and Vegas, this free game will likely make you a happy camper.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Quell is a wearable pain manager that stimulates your brain’s natural opiates – More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and now there’s finally a consumer-grade wearable that’s designed to provide some relief. Announced at CES 2015, and available this spring for about $250, Quell is a wearable that takes time-tested TENS technology to the consumer market. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, a technology that applies a small electrical current to the surface of your skin—in the case of Quell, the electrical leads make contact with your calf, which Quell describes as a “veritable USB port” for plugging into your body’s nervous system.

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The SCiO Handheld Scanner Makes Sure You’re Taking The Right (Prescription) Drugs – Hate it when you accidentally do Pepsi instead of Coke? Not sure if that pill you’re taking is Aspirin or Ibuprofen? Worried that your local pharmacy is slipping you some sort of generic drug instead of the real thing? Well, a new handheld molecular scanning device called SCiO could ensure that the stuff you’re putting in your body is actually stuff you want to ingest.

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Could Depression Actually Be Nothing More Than an Allergic Reaction? – Our understanding and awareness of depression has, thankfully, evolved some way beyond the old-fashioned, “Pull yourself together” response. Most now know that it’s a multi-faceted, shape-shifting, and frequently debilitating condition that transcends race, sex, and creed. But we still don’t know exactly why some become depressed and some don’t. However, new research suggests that, for some people, depression may be caused by something as simple as an allergic reaction. A reaction to inflammation—a product of the body, not the mind.

Wireless smart bulbs could scare away burglars – The technology is based on a framework developed by the AllSeen Alliance, a group formed around IoT technology originally created by Qualcomm, and is a step ahead in building smart homes and enabling home automation. Some vendors have already signed up. For example, security company ADT plans to link up the smart lights to home security systems. When an alarm goes off, the security system will instruct lights to flash red and blue, which could draw attention to the home and scare away the burglar.

Something to think about:

“Count not him among your friends who will retail your privacies to the world.”

–       Publilius Syrus  (~100 BC)

Today’s Free Downloads:

QuickSetDNS – QuickSetDNS is a simple tool that allows you to easily change the DNS servers that are used for your Internet connection. You can set the desired DNS servers from the user interface, by choosing from a list of DNS servers that you defined, or from command-line, without displaying any user interface.

QuickSetDNS doesn’t require any installation process or additional dll files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file – QuickSetDNS.exe

After running QuickSetDNS, the main window allows you to easily choose the desired DNS servers to use on your Internet connection, by using the ‘Set Active DNS’ option (F2). By default, QuickSetDNS provides only one alternative: the public DNS servers of Google – 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4

You can easily add more DNS servers to the list by using the ‘New DNS Server’ option (Ctrl+N).

If the ‘Automatic DNS’ option is selected, then the DNS server information is received from your router automatically, using DHCP.

If you have multiple network adapters, you may need to choose the correct network adapter from the combo-box located just below the toolbar of QuickSetDNS.

7 Sticky Notes – 7 Sticky Notes is designed to mimic the experience of using actual sticky notes to keep notes and track information. If you’re the type of person who typically has yellow post-its all over your desk, then you might enjoy this app.

Pros

Synchronization options: 7 Sticky Notes can sync with a number of popular services that you might want to transfer your information to, such as Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive.

Customization options: This software does a good job of giving you options. You can configure the color, font, and style of all your notes, so that you can create a productive and pleasing desktop environment. The ability to personalize note-taking software is always welcome, as it helps your workspace feel familiar and intuitive.

Excellent online help: At the 7 Sticky Notes website, there is a very comprehensive help page that walks you through every aspect of the software. If you have any questions about the software’s operations or how to use it, you should be able to find the answer there.

Cons

Skeumorphic design: For many years, skeumorphic design, or trying to make electronic versions of real-world items look like their real world equivalents, was very popular. Now, however, modern designers have embraced a flatter, more streamlined look, as seen in the modern Windows 8 interface. The attempts to make the notes look as much like real notes as possible looks outdated in today’s desktop environment.

Bottom Line

If you’re disorganized or constantly jotting down notes in a variety of different places on your computer, 7 Sticky Notes could be the solution you’re looking for. This software provides a perfect electronic corollary to the real-life experience of using sticky notes to stay organized.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Lavabit founder wants to make “dark” e-mail secure by default – Ladar Levison is probably most well-known to Ars readers as the founder of the secure e-mail service Lavabit, which he shut down in mid-2013 in an effort to avoid being forced to comply with a US government demand to turn over users’ e-mails. But his latest project is a lot grander in scope than a single hosted e-mail service: Levison is attempting, with the aid of some fellow crypto-minded developers, to change e-mail at large and build encryption into its fundamental nature.

As one of the members of the Darkmail Technical Alliance, Levison—along with Jon Callas, Mike Janke, and PGP designer Phil Zimmermann—is working on a project collectively referred to as DIME, the Dark Internet Mail Environment. DIME will eventually take the form of a drop-in replacement for existing e-mail servers that will be able to use DMTP (the Dark Mail Transfer Protocol) and DMAP (Dark Mail Access Protocol) to encrypt e-mails by default.

Conceptually, DIME applies multiple layers of encryption to an e-mail to make sure that the actors at each stage of the e-mail’s journey from sender to receiver can only see the information about the e-mail that they need to see. The e-mail’s author and recipient both know who sent the message and where it was bound, but the author’s e-mail server doesn’t—it can only decrypt the part of the message containing the recipient’s e-mail server. The recipient e-mail server knows the destination server and the recipient, but it doesn’t know the sender. So if you arrange the four steps in a line from left to right—author, origin server, destination server, and recipient—each step in the line is only aware of the identity of the entity directly to its left or right.

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Snowden leaks lack context says security studies professor – With the wash-up from December’s Snowden leaks still sloshing around the ‘net, The Register decided to discuss how to interpret the leaked documents with Thomas Rid of King’s College London.

In November, Rid (Professor of Security Studies) and colleague Robert Lee (currently undertaking his PhD at King’s) published a piece looking at the hype surrounding the ongoing Snowden leaks, called OMG Cyber (in the RUSI Journal), a detailed examination of how hype creates bad policy.

Rid has previously told the world that cyber war won’t be a war, and that cyber weapons aren’t that dangerous.

In conversation with Vulture South, Rid said one reason hype takes over is that journalists are prone to ignoring the complex context in which each document leaked by Snowden exists.

It’s more than just the fact that what hits the Internet is often a handful of slides from a 100-page presentation. There’s also the organisational context to consider: documents written by individuals trying to put their work in the best light to their superiors (hoping, perhaps, for a promotion or to protect their project’s budget), there’s an inevitable mismatch between the technical knowledge between the author and the target, and there’s the limitation of PowerPoint as a communications medium.

Pointing up  Total bullshit! The only thing that needs to be understood here is – the American government (along with it’s 5 Eyes partners), operates in an underhanded, unethical, illegal, morally reprehensible, and self-defeating manner.

Supreme Court justice second-guesses decisive vote in gaming free speech case – Back in 2011, the Supreme Court handed down a momentous decision enshrining video games as speech with full First Amendment protections, invalidating a number of attempts by states to ban sales and rentals of violent games to unaccompanied minors. But if one Justice had voted with her personal feelings rather than with her understanding of the law, things might have gone very differently.

Speaking at a forum hosted by Princeton University back in November, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan called Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association the toughest case she’d ever been part of. Kagan responded to an audience question by saying that she is “not usually an agonizer,” but in deciding this case she was “all over the map… Every day I woke up and I thought I would do a different thing or I was in the wrong place.”

FBI says search warrants not needed to use “stingrays” in public places – The Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking the position that court warrants are not required when deploying cell-site simulators in public places. Nicknamed “stingrays,” the devices are decoy cell towers that capture locations and identities of mobile phone users and can intercept calls and texts.

The FBI made its position known during private briefings with staff members of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). In response, the two lawmakers wrote Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson, maintaining they were “concerned about whether the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have adequately considered the privacy interests” of Americans.

According to the letter, which was released last week:

For example, we understand that the FBI’s new policy requires FBI agents to obtain a search warrant whenever a cell-site simulator is used as part of a FBI investigation or operation, unless one of several exceptions apply, including (among others): (1) cases that pose an imminent danger to public safety, (2) cases that involve a fugitive, or (3) cases in which the technology is used in public places or other locations at which the FBI deems there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The letter was prompted in part by a Wall Street Journal report in November that said the Justice Department was deploying small airplanes equipped with cell-site simulators that enabled “investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 5, 2015

Five ways to delete yourself from the Internet;  Are you using the most secure and private web browser?  The 10 Best Apps for Your New Windows Computer;  Call+ app expands free landline calling to 16 countries;  The 10 Best Apps For Your New Mac;  24 Great Free Apps and Tools to Help You Build Strong Habits;  Top 4 tech habits you need to break right now;  New “Strings” app lets you withdraw sent messages, and more;  Your Android device needs these 5 apps;  10 New Year’s resolutions for geeks;  Lizard Squad will help you attack any website, for a fee;  Netflix said to be shutting out international VPN users;  Patch My PC (free).

Plus 35 additional newsworthy items:

24 Great Free Apps and Tools to Help You Build Strong Habits – Habits. Good habits, it seems, are the crucial building blocks of a better, healthier, happier way of life. But where do good habits come from? How do you create them? Fortunately, there are tons of great tools and apps out there that want to lend a hand. Here’s a look at some of the best free tools and apps I could find for building stronger habits.

Five ways to delete yourself from the Internet – Finally ready to get off the grid? It’s not quite as simple as it should be, but here are a few easy-to-follow steps that should at the very least point you in the right direction.

Are you using the most secure and private web browser? – WhiteHat Security originally developed Aviator as the company’s in-house browser, but eventually released Aviator web browser in two flavors, OS X and Windows. It is billed as “the web’s most secure and private browser.” Users simply install the browser and it’s setup to maximize privacy and security safeguards by default. Unlike Chrome or Firefox, you don’t need to get add-ons or extensions to configure privacy and security. Those protections are built into Aviator, but since the browser uses open-source Chromium code, it does support “tens of thousands of extensions.” Do something good for yourself security-and-privacy-wise. If you haven’t tried Aviator yet, then I encourage you to “take flight” and start 2015 right.

The 10 Best Apps for Your New Windows Computer – From kicking back with a crossword to leaning in to an engrossing, international webcam chat — and whether they’re used with the touchscreen or the touchpad — these ten apps help Windows users get the most out of their new PCs.

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The 10 Best Apps For Your New Mac – Got a new Mac for the holidays? Then grab these apps. In the pre-iMac era, Apple computers suffered from a lack programs to choose from, but that’s not the case today. So, whether you just got your first Macbook or you’re upgrading to a Mac Pro, these ten apps will help you get the most out of your new Apple desktop or laptop.

One simple (and free) tool to help keep your Windows PC updated – This small – and free – utility can not only monitor over a hundred common applications for updates, but can also install those for you silently while you work. Applications it is compatible with range from commonly used products such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Adobe Flash Player to more obscure stuff such as ImgBurn and SandBoxie. And just in case that makes you worried about getting a ton of bloatware on your system, if Patch My PC detects any bloatware payload with an update, it silently remove that too. The tool is also portable, meaning that you can pop it onto a USB flash drive and run it on multiple systems. And it can also scan for missing Windows updates.

Call+ app expands free landline calling to 16 countries – About a month ago, an app called Call+ made a pretty tantalizing offer: unlimited free calls to a few countries, with fairly easy ways to earn call time for a bunch of others. If you liked the idea but didn’t need to call anyone in Brazil, China or Mexico, here’s good news: Call+ now gives you free calls to 16 countries. With most countries you can only call landlines for free, but some include mobile numbers. Using the free app, which makes it look as though calls are coming from your existing number, you can reach out and touch the following destinations:

These 5 iPhone Apps Will Make You Wildly More Creative – Sure, your iPhone can send texts, make calls and get the weather. But it can also help you realize your artistic ambitions, too. How? Check out these five apps, all recently highlighted by Apple as ways to be more creative using just your iPhone or iPad.

New Year’s Resolutions for Better Security in 2015 – One common theme with the breaches in 2014 was that basic security failed. JPMorgan Chase was compromised because a server did not have two-factor authentication enabled. Target was breached because a user fell for a phishing attack. We shake our heads over these mistakes, but hindsight is 20/20. We need to make sure we are doing whatever we can to protect ourselves, while at the same time demanding businesses and companies providing services step up and do a better job securing our data. Here is to a safe and secure year ahead!

Top 4 tech habits you need to break right now – It’s a brand new year, so why not start it off right by ditching the shackles of old habits and trying some new things to make your tech life easier? We know that old habits die hard and that’s why we’ve also included links to show you how to handle these common practices

Start the year off right with a clean PC – Unsavory detritus lurks in the vents and crevices of your computer hardware: Hair, dust, cigarette smoke, and pet dander can accumulate in your PC and also in your peripherals, even down between the keys of your keyboard. Some of it’s just gross. However, buildup on fans and other key components can increase the heat stress on your machine, potentially making it unstable and shortening the life of individual parts. That’s no way to start a new year. With thanks to Marco Chiappetta’s detailed rundown on how to clean a dirty PC, we’re adding information on how to clean peripherals as well.

Home networking explained, part 9: Access your home computer remotely – If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that I explained the LAN and WAN ports on a home router in part 1. And now, I need to tell you how you can use this information to remotely access your device at home. For example, if you know how to use Remote Desktop, a built-in feature of Windows, to control a computer in a different room of your home, how about doing that from somewhere away from home, and save yourself from having to pay for similar services such as LogMeIn or GotoMyPC? This post is part of an ongoing series. Check out the related stories for previous installments.

Your Android device needs these 5 apps – Android devices need a kit of essential tools just as much as contractors and tinkerers do. But instead of drills and hammers, they’re apps that are installed and consistently updated so that they’re always ready to use. Five apps in particular are so fundamentally crucial, it’s a surprise they haven’t been rolled into Google’s own suite yet. Best of all, the apps are free to download, so there’s nothing holding you back from these Android enhancers.

How to quickly update Android apps from within the Google Play Store – TechRepublic’s Android specialist Jack Wallen shows you how to quickly update your Android apps from within the Google Play Store.

8 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Google announced a few updates for Chromecast at Google I/O earlier this summer – from Android mirroring to options that will make your Chromecast screen more aesthetically pleasing. And while the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

New “Strings” app lets you withdraw sent messages, and more – A new app has been released that helps you control the messages you send to your friends. It’s also supposed to reduce the instances of you accidentally sending improper messages.

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How to create and distribute an instructional screencast video for free – Teaching somebody to do something on the computer is always tough. Words go a long way, and pictures are a big help, but nothing can beat the simple immediacy of a video. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to make and share an instructional video on your PC. Using easy, free software, you can record and publish a high-quality, annotated instructional video in a matter of minutes. In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to get started right away.

Online hunt for love connections said to peak today – According to experts, January 4 is the No. 1 day in the year for people to go online in search of true love. Match.com insists that 5:52 p.m. PT today will see a positive frenzy of unhappy singles and marrieds leaping to their electronics and praying for a buzz. You’re apparently 15 percent more likely to meet someone special if you online date in January than in any other month.

New D-Link powerline kits promise true gigabit connection speed – D-Link unveils two powerline adapter kits at CES 2015, the DHP-701AV and the DHP-601AV, that could deliver connection speeds of 2,000Mbps and 1,000Mbps, respectively.

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10 New Year’s resolutions for geeks – Summary:It’s the beginning of the year and that means it’s time to write down a set of promises and plans by which we geeks will govern ourselves over the next 12 months. Can you keep all these through the year?

‘Works with Nest’ program gains traction with 15 new smart device integrations – Nest Labs kicked off its ‘Works with Nest’ program just six months ago, announcing partnerships with Mercedes Benz, Whirlpool appliances, and several newer companies, including LED bulb-maker LIFX and fitness tracker Jawbone. Now the company says one in 10 Nest customers are accessing ‘Works with Nest’ connections of one form or another, and that more than 5,000 developers are in different stages of working with Nest to connect their products.

Security:

Gogo Inflight Internet is intentionally issuing fake SSL certificates – For whatever reason, however, Gogo Inflight Internet seems to believe that they are justified in performing a man-in-the-middle attack on their users. Earlier this year, it was revealed through the FCC that Gogo partnered with government officials to produce “capabilities to accommodate law enforcement interests” that go beyond those outlined under federal law. It mentioned how it worked closely with law enforcement and directly baked spyware into their service. If that wasn’t bad enough, based on this revelation, Gogo is now intentionally attacking its user’s browsing sessions to remove any line of defense that a user may have, and based on their history, it cannot be trusted that it is being done for any legitimate reason. If you have used Gogo in the past, it is worth considering that all of your communications, including those over SSL/TLS, have been compromised and that you should consider resetting your passwords– at least on Google. If you intend to use Gogo in the future, do so through the use of Tor or through a secure VPN.

Pointing up   If I were to illustrate a few elementary hacking procedures on your computer, without your permission, that would make me a criminal. On the other hand,  Gogo Inflight Internet does it and hell, it’s just business – right? Arrest these bastards immediately!!! Really – arrest these bastards!!!

Lizard Squad will help you attack any website, for a fee – Lizard Squad has been in the headlines a lot lately, whether it’s been taking down Playstation Network, Xbox Live service, or allegedly aiding the Guardians of Peace’s hack of Sony. With all of the buzz surrounding the rebels without a cause, the group is now looking to cash in on its fame by selling its DDoS Attack Tool. Starting at $6 per month, buyers will be able to enlist Lizard Squad’s services for a singular targeted attack on a website/space. For instance, a $6 fee can be paid to take down a website for 100 seconds. If you want to make a bigger statement, a $130 fee can be paid to take a website down for eight hours. If you wanted to cripple a web entity, a lifetime option exists, ranging from $30 to $500 (likely dependent on complexity and the intended target).

The Real Cybercrime Geography – When Sony Pictures was the target of a recent cyber attack, computer experts were quick to speculate that North Korea was behind the digital infiltration. Things happen quickly in the digital world, and now many experts are doubting the original idea that North Korea walked around inside Sony servers in reprisal for “The Interview.”

US sanctions North Korea over Sony hack and classifies attack evidence: Security researchers doubting Pyongyang’s guilt not privy to FBI data, feds say – The US is lobbing fresh sanctions against North Korea as a response to the cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment even as President Barack Obama’s administration refuses to provide evidence of Pyongyang’s involvement. Pyongyang has denied involvement. On Sunday, it lashed out at the White House.

Study claims that most ‘dark net’ traffic is to child abuse sites – Research, conducted at the University of Portsmouth, reveals that more than 80% of “dark net” internet traffic is generated by visits to websites offering child-abuse material.

Newly published NSA documents show agency could grab all Skype traffic – A National Security Agency document published this week by the German news magazine Der Spiegel from the trove provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shows that the agency had full access to voice, video, text messaging, and file sharing from targeted individuals over Microsoft’s Skype service. The access, mandated by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant, was part of the NSA’s PRISM program and allowed “sustained Skype collection” in real time from specific users identified by their Skype user names.

Kim Dotcom’s Mega to launch anti-spying call and chat service – “Mega will soon release a fully encrypted and browser-based video call and chat service including high-speed file transfers,” the entrepreneur known as Kim Dotcom said in a tweet. Kim Dotcom is positioning the service as a more secure way to chat and collaborate online free of government surveillance or spying, partly by virtue of Mega being based in New Zealand. Kim Dotcom has been teasing the app for some time, though now it appears nearly ready for prime time.

Company News:

Netflix said to be shutting out international VPN users – Due to international laws and different contracts with copyright holders based on country, Netflix’s digital content available for streaming can vary widely depending on your location in the world. It has long been a tactic of international Netflix users to rely on VPNs (virtual private networks) in order to get around the site’s regional locks and access content available in the U.S. Unfortunately for those subscribers, it appears that Netflix is cracking down on some VPN services and keeping their users out of its walled garden.

Twitter is building its own video service; wants to compete with YouTube – Twitter is rolling out new features left and right and it looks like the company has big plans for its video service even going as far as building a direct competitor to Google’s YouTube.

Apple’s 16GB iPhones are a big fat lie, claims iOS 8 storage hog lawsuit – The sueball was lobbed at Cupertino on behalf of owners of 8GB and 16GB iThings. It claims Apple does not do enough to warn people that their new iThing may not hold as much music, apps and video as expected.

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Snapchat’s privacy practices to be monitored for the next 20 years: FTC: No more saying that your secret sexy snaps can’t be saved – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved its final order with Snapchat, compelling the California startup to submit to an independent privacy monitor for 20 years and to not “misrepresent in any manner…the extent to which respondent or its products or services maintain and protect the privacy, security, or confidentiality of any covered information.”

Games and Entertainment:

Music streaming up by 54% in 2014 as digital sales continue decline – New evidence in the form of a report from Nielsen SoundScan has confirmed that 2014 saw a significant shift in the digital music market among U.S. consumers. While the last decade has seen a clear dominance of downloading digital music purchases, last year marked a notable decline in that trend as steaming services maintained their explosive growth. Nielsen’s report notes that digital sales dropped by 9%, to 117.6 million, while online streaming was up by 54% over 2013.

The 20 best games of 2014, as chosen by the Ars brain trust – So after much debate and discussion among the Ars editor brain trust, we’ve come up with this list of 20 games that we feel represent the best and most interesting titles of the year. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of titles with only a top few that really stand out above the rest as true classics. Still, these are the games we think people will look back on and remember when they think about the muddled past 12 months in gaming.

Sony offers discounts and subscription extensions after PSN outage during Christmas – PlayStation Plus members affected by the Christmas outage will receive a five-day extension and a once-off 10% discount in the PlayStation Store as a “thank you” for their patience.

10 Video Games That Were Ahead of Their Time – In this feature, we’ll spotlight 10 games that pushed the world of gaming forward ahead of schedule. Some were commercial successes, some were cult hits, and some were all-out flops. But they all helped predict where gaming would take us in the coming decades, and for that we salute them.

Off Topic (Sort of):

12 Hidden Messages Inside 1990s Tech Commercials – Comparing advertisements across the years is a uniquely poignant window into how society evolves. Think about it. Companies need to evolve their messaging in order to reflect changes in the wants and needs of consumers. Therefore, ads are as useful a milepost of how culture and society evolve over time as movies, music, or literature. Check out some of these retro commercials from the 1990s and see what lessons we learned about the technology of today.

11 Ways Old Journalism Was The Worst – In October of last year, Brookings published an essay by Robert Kaiser entitled “The Bad News About The News,” which was probably well-intentioned, but was also — I’m sorry to say — hilariously bloviated, self-important, and wrongheaded. It did, however, accidentally raise a few quite interesting points.

Mark Zuckerberg Picks Reading for his Personal Challenge, First Book Sells Out – Conspiracy theories aside, Zuckerberg’s personal challenge for 2015 will be—drumroll—reading an entire book every other week. That’s 26 books in all; not too shabby a deal for someone who likely doesn’t have all that much free time. And, no, Zuckerberg won’t likely be picking up the Game of Thrones series to plow through. He plans to place a particular emphasis on books that help him learn about “different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.”

Geek Answers: Why are there 365.25 days in the year? – The easy and unsatisfying reply, but also the most accurate, is a simple non-answer: Why are there 365 days in a year? Because that’s just the way it is. Put differently, there’s no particular logical reason for there to be 365 days as opposed to 340 or 395; Jupiter has more than ten thousand days in its year, while Venus actually has less than one day per year. The “why” of this has to do with the planetary histories of each body, the hows and whys of its formation. The dynamics of a planet’s year and day are dictated eons before life could ever get a chance to arise and observe them.

Ancient Indian aircraft on agenda of major science conference – Indian Vedic myths tell of ancient pilots flying craft around the world and out of this world. But some think the myths were true, and that modern science has it all wrong.

Something to think about:

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to believe.”

–   Laurence J. Peter (1919 – 1988), misquoting Sir Walter Scott

Today’s Free Downloads:

Patch My PC – Patch My PC is a portable and reliable utility designed to check your system against the current version of Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Flash, Mozilla Firefox, Oracle Java, Apple Quicktime, and more!

When started PatchMyPC will scan for outdated software automatically. If software is outdated it will show as Red, if it’s updated it will show as Green, and if it’s not installed it will show as black.

There are also many optional updates that can be installed with PatchMyPC. You can install optional updates by checking the checkbox in the optional software. Optional software should only be installed if you want the software and it’s not currently installed.

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GhostBuster Portable – GhostBuster scans your registry for ghosted devices (hardware no longer connected to the PC) and then removes them with a single mouse click.

This application enumerates all devices, detects ghosted devices and removes them if they match selectable device types and/or device classes.

Ghostbuster does exactly the same when you right click a device in the Windows Device Manager and choose uninstall. The only difference is that GhostBuster does it in bulk for all filtered devices that are ghosted and thus saves a lot of time.

Ghostbuster removes devices by name, class or wildcard so it cannot be used to remove only one of two ghosted devices that share the same name, it will always try to remove all matching ghosted devices.

Limitations: GhostBuster will NOT uninstall active devices and certain device types that are considered to be services, even if they’re ghosted. Requires Microsoft .NET Framework.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canadian ISPs required by law to notify users of illegal downloads – January 1st saw a new law, part of the Copyright Modernization Act, go into effect in Canada that requires internet service providers and website hosts to notify their users when copyright holders have detected illegal downloading. When an ISP now receives a letter of complaint from a copyright holder, they must forward it to the customer tied to the IP address associated with the download, or face fines of up to $10,000. The same applies to VPN (virtual private network) services, who must also record customer logs for a least 6 months.

The law also protects ISPs and website hosts in that they are not required to give over users’ personal information unless a lawsuit begins. But they must keep a 6 month record of who letters were sent to, again in the case of a lawsuit. This is bad for VPN services, as the aspect of anonymity is a key feature, and in order for them to comply, they must keep 6 months’ of access data, something that could be very expensive or difficult for small businesses.

Saudi Arabia’s Morality Police and ‘Ethical Hackers’ Are Targeting Online Pornography – Saudi Arabian authorities recently announced that they have hacked and disabled about 9,000 Twitter accounts associated with the publication of pornographic materials and arrested many of the handles’ owners. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (a.k.a. Haia, the Saudi religious police) organized the sting, sweeping up many Saudis and expats accused of organizing alcohol- and gambling-fueled parties. But in an apparent first for the Kingdom, Haia acknowledged that it did not act alone, instead relying upon a group of “ethical hackers” to access users’ accounts and personal information, leading to physical arrests.

Offshoring Data Won’t Protect It From The NSA – The natural reaction of many citizens, companies and governments is to try to get their data out of the United States and out of the hands of American companies.  The idea is a seductive one, even for Americans.  Offshoring money has been a popular strategy for tax avoidance.  Why not offshore data to a foreign company?

This offshoring of data to avoid surveillance is not just an idle notion.  As a privacy lawyer with experience in the intelligence community and the Obama White House, technology companies have asked me how they might pursue such a strategy.  It turns out that shifting user data abroad or into the hands of foreign companies is a very poor way to combat American surveillance.

If the Supreme Court tackles the NSA in 2015, it’ll be one of these five cases – Roughly a year and a half since the first Snowden disclosures, there’s already been a judicial order to shut down the National Security Agency’s bulk metadata collection program.

The lawsuit filed by Larry Klayman, a veteran conservative activist, would essentially put a stop to unchecked NSA surveillance. And at the start of 2015, he remains the only plaintiff whose case has won when fighting for privacy against the newly understood government monitoring. However, it’s currently a victory in name only—the judicial order in Klayman was stayed pending the government’s appeal.

Klayman v. Obama is only one of a number of notable national security and surveillance-related civil and criminal cases stemming fully or partially from the Snowden documents. In 2014, a handful of these advanced far enough through the legal system that 2015 is likely to be a big year for privacy policy. One or more could even end up before the Supreme Court.

NSA has VPNs in Vulcan death grip—no, really, that’s what they call it – The National Security Agency’s Office of Target Pursuit (OTP) maintains a team of engineers dedicated to cracking the encrypted traffic of virtual private networks (VPNs) and has developed tools that could potentially uncloak the traffic in the majority of VPNs used to secure traffic passing over the Internet today, according to documents published this week by the German news magazine Der Speigel. A slide deck from a presentation by a member of OTP’s VPN Exploitation Team, dated September 13, 2010, details the process the NSA used at that time to attack VPNs—including tools with names drawn from Star Trek and other bits of popular culture.

OTP’s VPN exploit team had members assigned to branches focused on specific regional teams, as well as a “Cross-Target Support Branch” and a custom development team for building specialized VPN exploits. At the regional level, the VPN team representatives acted as liaisons to analysts, providing information on new VPN attacks and gathering requirements for specific targets to be used in developing new ones.

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