Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 10, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About The Apple Watch;  iOS 8.2 rolls out bringing improvements and compulsory Apple Watch app;  The Apple Watch Compared To The Competition;  Minecraft update reduces security risks on PCs;  Google Rolls Out Android 5.1 Lollipop;  Samsung opens Milk Music to everyone via the Web;  What happens when a hard drive crashes;  Xiaomi solves Mi 4 malware dustup: device was counterfeit;  Roku vs. Apple TV vs. Chromecast vs. Amazon Fire TV;  New Xbox One bundle includes ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ at no extra cost;  Apple TV price cut to $69, £59 or AU$109;  Apple locks HBO Now for ‘Game of Thrones’;  Apple ResearchKit Turns iPhones Into Medical Diagnostic Devices;  The Best iPhone Games of the Week;  Heavy smartphone use linked to lazy thinkers, low intelligence.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Everything You Need To Know About The Apple Watch – Apple has finally revealed all regarding the Apple Watch, the wrist-based wearable it first introduced last September. Many of the Apple Watch’s particulars were already known, but here, for the first time, is a comprehensive look at what will no doubt become the world’s most popular smartwatch. Pre-orders will begin on April 10th. The device will start shipping on April 24th, and cost anywhere from $349 to $10,000 depending on style.


9 facts you didn’t know you wanted to know about Apple Watch – According to Apple, it’s “everything a watch should be,” including very expensive and owned by models!

The Apple Watch Compared To The Competition – After nearly half a year of suspense, we finally have all the details about the Apple Watch, including when it’ll launch, how much it’ll cost, and what the user experience will be like. That means we can take a step back and look at how it compares to the rest of the smartwatch market. To make this a fair fight, we’ve taken the Apple Watch and put it up against premium smartwatches — other devices made from expensive-feeling metal and glass, with apps that communicate with those on your phone to keep you from spending all of your time staring at your iOS- or Android-powered pocket slate.


Use This Ingenious Trick to Choose the Right Apple Watch Size – It basically costs a dollar to tell which one’s right for you.

iOS 8.2 rolls out bringing improvements and compulsory Apple Watch app – The iOS update, which is detailed below, also brought with it the Apple Watch app to iPhone which cannot be deleted, the app joins an array of compulsory Apple apps that can’t be deleted including Passbook, Tips, Stocks, Weather, Calendar, Clock, FaceTime, Contacts, iBooks, Compass, Maps, Health, Newsstand, Photos, Camera, Notes, Messages, Voice Memos, the iTunes Store, and the App Store.

Google Rolls Out Android 5.1 Lollipop – Google on Monday rolled out some “tasty additions” to its Android Lollipop mobile operating system, adding some new capabilities like multiple-SIM card support. Android 5.1 “improves stability and performance” in phones and tablets running Lollipop, Google Android Platform executive Dave Burke wrote in a blog post. In addition to supporting multiple SIM slots in phones, the 5.1 update adds Device Protection to phones and slates running Lollipop, meaning that “your lost or stolen device will remain locked until you sign in with your Google account—even if someone resets your device to factory settings,” Burke said.

Let Authy handle your Android two-step authentication – For those sites and services that support two-step authentication, having a single tool to handle that would be a boon for many users. That’s exactly what Authy is. With this easy-to-use app, you can enable two-step verification on any service that takes advantage of Google authentication (such as Gmail, Dropbox, Lastpass, and Amazon Web Services). So, if you’re hoping for an easier means for two-step authentication, let’s install Authy and see if it meets that need.


Rocketbook digitizes notes, then erases them in the microwave – Try as we might, some of us cannot substitute writing on paper with writing on a display, no matter how sensitive the device and precise the stylus. Still, digital copies are the best way to store notes, and notebooks that digitize what one writes have been the long-running compromise, giving the best of both worlds. Rocketbook is one example of this, but with a twist: when writing with a specific pen, one can microwave the notebook for 30 seconds to erase the papers, making the same paper notebook reusable.


What happens when a hard drive crashes – We’re all terrified of the day when our hard drive just stops working. Here’s what goes on inside the drive when disaster strikes.

Apple ResearchKit Turns iPhones Into Medical Diagnostic Devices – ResearchKit lets people take tests like saying “ahhh” to detect vocal variations, walking in a line, or tapping in rhythm to test for Parkinson’s Disease. Users will decide how to share their data and Apple won’t see it. And to advance its evolution, ResearchKit will be open source. ResearchKit will be available next month, and the first five tests built with it will become available today. They help people participate in tests for Parkinson’s, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and breast cancer.


Samsung opens Milk Music to everyone via the Web – Samsung is bringing its free Milk Music streaming radio service to more users via the Web as promised in January. Until now, Milk Music has been available as an app only for Samsung’s smartphones, tablets, TVs and smartwatches, but starting Monday it will be available to anyone with a browser. Users will need to create an account on Samsung’s Web site to access the service .

Roku vs. Apple TV vs. Chromecast vs. Amazon Fire TV: Which streamer should you buy? – Which has the most apps? Which has the coolest features? Which one is the best? The most popular media streamers all have their merits, so we’ll help you decide which box is right for you.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Facebook to close FriendFeed in April – A flash from the past is being shut down, Facebook has announced. It’s the now-dated social network FriendFeed, and the number of people still using it are dropping quickly, leaving little incentive for Facebook — which bought it more than a handful of years ago — to keep it around. Those still using the service will have a few more weeks to get any of their data off of it and say their final farewell, with the closure being scheduled to take place on April 9.

Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 CTP 3 Released – Microsoft has released a new Community Technical Preview of Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 and if you want to download the bits, you can find the link after the jump.


Xiaomi solves Mi 4 malware dustup: device was counterfeit – Yesterday, news surfaced that the Xiaomi Mi 4 came preloaded with malware. While we can handle a little bloatware, malware is just — no. Even more subversive than straight-up malware, some of the apps installed were disguised as Google apps. Security company Bluebox, who released the report, even suggested Xiaomi handed their handset off to a third party to get the malware installed, which is about as low as you can get. Now, Xiaomi has their say, and comfortably quashed any thought of malware on their devices.

Minecraft update reduces security risks on PCs – Minecraft is a very popular video game that lets players build just about anything they can dream up using blocks of all sorts of materials. What players can build in the game is only limited by their imagination and patience placing blocks. One of the drawbacks of Minecraft in the past was a potential to leave PCs with security vulnerabilities. These security issues were due to the Java run-anywhere code base that the game required. That particular Java code left PCs vulnerable to security exploits and adware. Those security vulnerabilities have now been reduced thanks to an update that landed over the last few weeks.


A few small steps for man, a giant leap for online security – The online world is vast. Just follow these straightforward tips, which will make it harder for hackers, and keep you secure.

Cyberespionage arsenal could be tied to French intelligence – A collection of computer Trojans that have been used since 2009 to steal data from government agencies, military contractors, media organizations and other companies is tied to cyberespionage malware possibly created by French intelligence agencies. Researchers from several antivirus companies have found links between the malware programs, which they call Babar, Bunny, Casper, Dino, NBot and Tafacalou.

Company News:

Microsoft asks U.S. court to ban Kyocera’s Android phones – Microsoft has asked a court in Seattle to ban Kyocera’s DuraForce, Hydro and Brigadier lines of cellular phones in the U.S., alleging that they infringed seven Microsoft patents. The software giant has in its complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington charged that some Kyocera phone features that come from its use of the Android operating system infringe its patents.

Google hires Twitter’s data guy – Google just hired one of the most important people at Twitter to join their team as Trends Data Editor. Not that Simon Rogers is going to make or break a company like Twitter, but the ability to do what he did for Twitter – and what he’ll be doing for Google – is really, really is an important role. Especially for the public, seeing how events explode in a virtual way, seeing that sort of thing clearly, and easily – that’s what Rogers does.

Intel Unveils First 14nm, Xeon D SoCs – Intel on Monday introduced its 14-nanometer Xeon D family of microserver processors, bringing System-on-a-Chip (SoC) capabilities to the company’s Xeon line of datacenter products for the first time. The first Xeon D products are the quad-core Xeon Processor D-1520, priced at $199, and the eight-core Xeon Processor D-1540, priced at $581. Both new SoCs are available today. Intel said Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Quanta Cloud Technology, Sugon, and Supermicro are among the companies designing microservers based on Xeon D.

Tesla’s China troubles lead to job cuts – Tesla has lofty goals, and it has grown its workforce steadily over the last year or so. Still, the Chinese market has proven problematic for the auto maker, and now those troubles are leading to job cuts. That doesn’t mean Tesla is giving up on the market — to the contrary, this “restructuring” is taking place so that the company can continue to operate there, at least according to the auto maker. It isn’t clear how many jobs are on the chopping block at this point.

Uber, Lyft, Sidecar asked by US lawmakers to use fingerprint checks of drivers – Eight members of the U.S. Congress have asked Uber Technologies, Lyft and Sidecar Technologies to adopt fingerprint-based background checks of their drivers, describing the procedure as “more comprehensive and harder to fake.” The ride-hailing companies have come under increasing pressure to better vet their drivers, particularly in the wake of reports of sexual and other assaults by drivers in some cities.

Games and Entertainment:

Apple TV price cut to $69, £59 or AU$109 – At the Apple Watch event today Tim Cook announced a price cut on the Apple TV box, bringing it down to $69 in the US and £59 in the UK. In Australia it stays the same at AU$109, due to a downturn in the Australian dollar. Since its debut in March 2012 the streaming box has sold for $99 in the US.

Apple locks HBO Now for ‘Game of Thrones’ – Attention cord-cutting “Game of Thrones” fans: If you want to watch the new season of the hit fantasy while it’s new, you better be an Apple fan too. Apple’s exclusive launch of HBO Now will last through the entirety of the new fifth season of “Game of Thrones.” That exclusive lasts three months, HBO said, and because HBO Now’s launch in early April precedes the season premiere April 12, a standard 10-episode season will run its course before owners of Roku, Google’s Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire TV will get a shot at subscribing.

New Xbox One bundle includes ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ at no extra cost – Halo fans who have yet to buy an Xbox One now have a compelling reason to do so: Microsoft is now offering “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” for free as part of a $350 bundle with its newest gaming console. According to a post on the company’s official Xbox Wire website, “The Master Chief Collection” will be available for free with the Xbox One bundle in the U.S. and “most regions where Xbox One is available.” The game will come as a digital download to consumers purchasing the bundle, though no additional details were provided.


GTA Online Heists update details leaked online – GTA Online Heists is a new mode which will officially launch tomorrow as a free update. However, some users have already posted screenshots with several details indicating that they prematurely received the update overnight. These users claim that the download size is a hefty 4.8 GB on the Xbox One but is relatively smaller on the Xbox 360 weighing in at 1.2 GB. The long-awaited add-on includes five new heist missions along with an assortment of weapons, armored cars, costumes and masks. Nine achievements worth 250 gamerscore have also been added, amounting to a total of 1250 gamerscore. The missions include beating a heist without taking damage and spending in-game money on the new cars.


ScreenStick is a stick-on joystick for tablets – Mobile gaming has become a sophisticated hobby over the years, and anyone who enjoys it quickly grows tired of on-screen digital controls. The solution is a mobile gamepad, of which there is no shortage, but they all come with the same design: a clip in which a smartphone or tablet is slid, positioning it above a standard gaming controller. ScreenStick is different, putting physical joysticks on your device’s display using suction cups for a more natural feel when holding the device.


Xbox Live for Windows 10 will be free for online multiplayer gaming – Microsoft is finally bringing Xbox Live to Windows PCs and phones in a meaningful way with Windows 10, and with it comes the possibility of online multiplayer gaming using Microsoft’s gaming service. While Microsoft currently charges Xbox One owners to use online multiplayer gaming, the software maker has no plans to extend that to Windows 10 PCs or phones. Microsoft’s Larry Hryb, otherwise known as Major Nelson, confirmed the plans on Twitter last week in response to concerns over Xbox Live on Windows 10. “Not charging,” says Hryb, “Xbox Live Gold will not be required for online multiplayer gaming using our service on Windows 10 PCs and Phones.”

The Best iPhone Games of the Week – Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

Off Topic (Sort of):

This is the first Apple Watch TV commercial – Apple is starting to air its first TV commercial for the Apple Watch. It features the usual array of floating products set to white backgrounds and mesmerizing music. There’s no voiceover here, you just see “the watch is coming” and the April 24th launch date alongside various features like fitness, mapping, timing, flight tracking, weather, Passbook, and even messaging or calls. The focus is very much on the changing bands throughout the 60-second ad, with a lot of different styles displayed. It’s bold, typically Apple, and you’ll likely see it a lot of times on your TV over the next few weeks.


The Apple Watch Isn’t A Watch, It’s An iPhone Sales Engine – The Apple Watch is not a watch in the same way that the iPhone was not a phone — or at least not what we knew to be a phone at the time. “Watch” is not the device’s primary functionality, just as “phone” was not the iPhone’s primary functionality. iPhone was an honest-to-god computer in your pocket — and Apple Watch is an honest-to-god iPhone on your wrist. But there’s a big caveat: It’s an iPhone on your wrist that requires yet another iPhone in your pocket.

Samsung made a $30,000 high-tech dog house – Apple’s engineers are hard at work on an ultramodern car. Samsung’s? They just finished making a dog house. A really, really fancy dog house. Samsung is sponsoring the world’s biggest dog show, Crufts, this year. They look a bit odd next to a bunch of pet food and pet insurance companies, what with them not really being in a pet-related business. It’s one of the few things they’re not active in, really. To fit in with the likes of Purina and Orijen, Samsung engineers and designers whipped up this insanely modern dog house. It’s packed with technology to pamper the savvy pooch in your life. All that gadgetry comes at a price, of course: roughly $30,000.


We have no self-control: America’s most powerful men explain why they’re scared of email – As two of Congress’ most senior representatives, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain sit on many of the most important committees overseeing the business of the United States government. Which has left observers all the more confused and disturbed that they seem to be doing so without use of arguably the most pervasive and influential written communication application in the world. The solution to vast intrusions into privacy, in the senior lawmakers’ eyes, is seemingly not to protect citizens from those carrying out surveillance but to simply opt out of using technology altogether. And that is far more disturbing that the use of personal email by a former secretary of state.

Solar airplane soars to start first-ever round-the-world trip – The Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Abu Dhabi on the first leg of an attempted 20,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe — an unprecedented journey for a sun-powered craft.


Heavy smartphone use linked to lazy thinkers, low intelligence – The University of Waterloo has carried out a study of 660 people focusing on the cognitive style of participants combined with their smartphone habits. More specifically, they looked at the type of thinkers they are, ranging from very intuitive right through to very analytical. They also looked at verbal and numerical skills. The University stops short of claiming smartphones decrease intelligence, stating further research would be required for that. However, if you consider how many children carry a smartphone around today, it’s not hard to imagine how their ability to learn may be inhibited by the always available alternative brain in their pocket.

Pointing up    Lazy and stupid smartphone users – I don’t know much about. Ignorant, rude and crass smartphone users – I know lots about.

After taking phone giants’ money, these Republicans want to kill net neutrality – More than 30 members of Congress are rallying behind a bill that threatens the new rules introduced by the FCC.

Something to think about:

“Human rights do not stand in the way of security that is universal, durable and inclusive. Human rights are in fact the very key.”

–     Toronto Star

Today’s Free Downloads:

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Anti-terror bill a setback for human rights in Canada – Want to feel more secure? Bill C-51, now being examined by a parliamentary committee in three weeks of truncated hearings, aims to establish criminal offences that infringe free expression, unprecedented intrusive intelligence powers, breathtakingly vast definitions of security, unbridled sharing of information and stunning levels of secrecy; all while doing nothing to enhance review, oversight and accountability of Canada’s national security agencies.

The message is that human rights have to give way to keep terrorism at bay. The relationship between the two is seen as a zero-sum game. More safety means fewer rights. Stronger regard for rights leads to greater insecurity.

It is time to turn that around. Human rights do not stand in the way of security that is universal, durable and inclusive. Human rights are in fact the very key.

Schneier on Security: Attack Attribution and Cyber Conflict – The vigorous debate after the Sony Pictures breach pitted the Obama administration against many of us in the cybersecurity community who didn’t buy Washington’s claim that North Korea was the culprit.

What’s both amazing — and perhaps a bit frightening — about that dispute over who hacked Sony is that it happened in the first place.

But what it highlights is the fact that we’re living in a world where we can’t easily tell the difference between a couple of guys in a basement apartment and the North Korean government with an estimated $10 billion military budget. And that ambiguity has profound implications for how countries will conduct foreign policy in the Internet age.

Immediately After Launching Effort to Scuttle Iran Deal, Senator Tom Cotton to Meet with Defense Contractors – In an open letter organized by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., 47 Senate Republicans today warned the leaders of Iran that any nuclear deal reached with President Barack Obama could expire as soon as he leaves office.

Tomorrow, 24 hours later, Cotton will appear at an “Off the Record and strictly Non-Attribution” event with the National Defense Industrial Association, a lobbying and professional group for defense contractors.

The NDIA is composed of executives from major military businesses such as Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, ManTech International, Boeing, Oshkosh Defense and Booz Allen Hamilton, among other firms.

Cotton strongly advocates higher defense spending and a more aggressive foreign policy. As The New Republic’s David Ramsey noted, “Pick a topic — Syria, Iran, Russia, ISIS, drones, NSA snooping — and Cotton can be found at the hawkish outer edge of the debate…During his senate campaign, he told a tele-townhall that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels joining forces to attack Arkansas was an ‘urgent problem.’”

“Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., 47 Senate Republicans today warned the leaders of Iran that any nuclear deal reached with President Barack Obama could expire as soon as he leaves office.”

Pointing up   Each of the signatories to this letter should be arrested and charged with Treason. 

According to the U.S. legal code, the definition of treason is fairly specific: 

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.



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