Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 16, 2015

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out;  Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier;  Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop;  If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid;  Five commands Mac admins should know;  March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win;  Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption;  Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking;  PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP;  10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects;  Steam hits 1,000 Linux games;  Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans;  Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features;  Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits;  Smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid – Lenovo may have publicly buried bloatware, but it’s anything but dead. After the company’s Superfish scandal, we shopped Best Buy and found it alive and well on major vendors’ PC offerings. A little research should save you from the worst of it, though. Here’s what we learned.

What’s your pa$$word? Secure your organization by securing your accounts – The topic of password security has been spoken about continually for the past two decades. However, passwords continue to be a problem for almost every organization, and “password” and “qwerty” are still among the most common passwords in the world. Let’s go through seven basic facts about authentication and see if your accounts are as secure as they should be.

Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier – Sprint really, really wants you to ditch your current carrier and switch over to its network. And it’s prepared to pay a hefty price for your business. The company on Friday announced it will reimburse all of the costs to switch, including any early termination fees and remaining payments on your current plan, “no matter what is owed.” This means if you still owe money on your iPhone installment plan, Sprint will pay it — along with any fees you incur for breaking your contract.

Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop – Google has finally announced the long awaited Android 5.1 update after its not-so-secret debut on Android One devices in the Philippines. This new build of Lollipop is rolling out to Nexus devices right now, but what’s in it? The official changelog was severely lacking in detail, but now that it’s hitting devices we can see all the tweaks to this version of Android. Let’s check it out.

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out – Free is always good. But when free equates to helpful and/or productive, free is outstanding. If you spend enough time on the Google Play Store, you will eventually come across apps that fit that category ─ free apps that actually improve your daily life in some way. But trudging through the muck and mire of the free games, shopping apps, and other (countless) apps that do nothing more than take up precious storage space can take a lot of time. That’s where I come in. I’ve spent plenty of time digging through the Google Play Store to come up with a list of solid free apps — all of which are must-haves in one way or another — that everyone should give a try. What are these apps? Let’s find out.

You can buy two of these Windows tablets for less than the price of Windows – How much did you pay for your last PC? I’m willing to bet it was a lot more than $48, which is how much this new Windows tablet will set you back. This is the Ployer MOMO7W, and yes, you really could buy two of them for less than the price of a copy of Windows 8.1. A full version is going for about $101 on Amazon right now. That’s insane, right? A Windows PC for less than half that price? How is that even possible?

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March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win NCAA tournament – March Madness? Not really. Microsoft’s Bing took the sane route and picked undefeated Kentucky to win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, topping Duke in the title game. The real news, however, is that Microsoft’s Bracket Builder tool went live Sunday night. After crunching what it said were more than 9.2 quintillion combinations, Bing has picked a winner for every game in the tournament—and it will even handily export the bracket to the NCAA’s own tournament pool for you to compete against celebrities and other players.

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Facebook’s updated community standards explain what it will ban – The updated policy reiterates Facebook’s stance against harassment, but provides “more guidance on policies related to self-injury, dangerous organizations, bullying and harassment, criminal activity, sexual violence and exploitation, nudity, hate speech, and violence and graphic content.” Facebook again stressed that its policies weren’t being radically altered. “While some of this guidance is new, it is consistent with how we’ve applied our standards in the past.”

New mobile app Graphiti can add style to pictures, websites – A new app for the iPhone lets you perform street art directly on pictures and live websites, then share the results with friends, with no worry of getting arrested for vandalism.

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Windows 10 to support peer-to-peer downloading of apps and updates – Peer-to-peer downloads will be optional, and if enabled they will support two modes: systems will be able to either retrieve updates from other machines on the same local network, or from both the local network and PCs on the Internet. It’s not immediately clear what technology is used for the peer-to-peer patching.

Pro tip: Five commands Mac admins should know – Mac admins are responsible for a great deal of equipment maintenance and end-user requests. Jesus Vigo goes over five commands admins can use to work smarter, not harder.

The master list of Google Easter eggs worth checking out (pictures) – Google tries hard to maintain a sense of humor through surprises tucked throughout its Web properties. Here are all the best Easter eggs you need to check out.

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YouTube Now Supports 360-Degree Videos – It’s not quite as immersive as some of the virtual-reality projects attracting investors, but YouTube’s addition of support for 360-degree videos could initially reach a broader audience. Out of the gate, YouTube’s new videos look pretty great even if you haven’t strapped a VR headset to your face.

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The Internet is for (Virtual Reality) porn…? – There’s a lot of excitement about virtual reality, but could the first breakout application be VR porn? At SXSW, it’s thought that porn will become a multi-billion dollar application within a year.

Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking – Right now, as you kick back on your couch and daydream about your next smart home upgrade, you may not realize it, but you’re awash in data. From Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats to Bluetooth-accessible door locks to Z-Wave-connected alarm sensors to Zigbee-networked lightbulbs, there could be an array or wireless signals criss-crossing your house. Why do we need so many different technologies that essentially do the same thing?

Security:

New ransomware is sleazing around the internet owning gamers – Heads up, PC gamers. There’s a new strain of cryptographic malware called TeslaCrypt sleazing around the internet that wants to get it grubby little claws on your save files. It works the same way that CryptoLocker does: it snoops through the contents of your hard drive until it finds the files it’s after. Once they’re located, they’re taken hostage using strong encryption. The list of affected games is already pretty big: most Valve, EA, and Bethesda titles, WoW, League of Legends, Call of Duty, Diablo, StarCraft, and Day Z are all marked. Not even your Minecraft files are safe, for crying out loud. This digital vermin even goes after Steam, RPG Maker, Unity, and Unreal Engine files!

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Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption – Security and privacy are becoming more and more important as we transmit much more than just words via email. Yahoo is developing two new technologies to protect your data and create security solutions. Soon, any sensitive data that you send using email, from business documents to personal information, can be kept secure using an advanced end-to-end (e2e) encryption plugin for Yahoo Mail. And, if you forget your password, Yahoo has come up with a new solution for that as well. Yahoo is calling their new password retrieval system On-demand passwords.

BlackBerry announces SecuTablet, a modified Galaxy Tab S – While it may have the outward appearance of a standard Galaxy Tab S, this tablet is not meant for everyday consumers, and it’s $2,380 price tag makes that clear. The SecuTablet is built with a purpose of preventing sensitive data from leaking to the wild, and does so with voice and data encryption from a built-in Secusmart Security Card. But that doesn’t mean the tablet will be a boring, work-software-only kind of device. Typical entertainment and social apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter can be installed on the SecuTablet without worry of security compromises. This is where IBM’s software comes in, keeping secured apps and data isolated from personal items, including potentially malicious apps.

Company News:

Intel: PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP – Summary:The company’s recent results suggest a slowdown in firms leaving the ancient OS behind and upgrading to new systems. Why won’t they update?

Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features By Limiting Social Graph Access – Talk about timing: Twitter confirms they’ve bought Meerkat-competitor Periscope, and but a few hours later Twitter makes a move that kills off a few Meerkat features. Much of Meerkat’s success and draw lays in its tight integration with Twitter — something that many have noted could be an issue moving forward, be it that Twitter decides to get into live video themselves. Which, of course, they’ve just done. And now Twitter has begun to cut off off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social graph.

Facebook Buys And Shuts Down Shopping Site TheFind To Boost Commerce In Ads – Facebook today announced it has acquired personalized shopping search engine TheFind to help improve its commerce ads. TheFind had raised $26 million from Lightspeed and Redpoint since getting off the ground around 2005, but will now be shut down. Some, but not all, members of the team are joining Facebook.

Google wants Firefox users to set it as their default search engine – Google has started embedding a two-inch pop-up on searches made through the Firefox Web browser to combat Yahoo! being set as its default option.

Games and Entertainment:

The Greatest Gaming Tournaments in the World – “E-sports” is the term that has been coined to describe this new world of competitive gaming, and the stakes are high. Some tournaments have prize payouts into the six figures, and major stadiums get packed to the rafters with people watching the action. If you want to get involved in the tournament scene, the following list will help you get started. It runs down the biggest events around the globe and what competitors do to get the right to play there. Some are open to everyone, while others are the finish line for brackets that run for months beforehand.

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Steam hits 1,000 Linux games days after Valve’s big Steam Machine reveal – Steam’s love affair with Linux continues, and the infatuation is paying off in spades for Linux gamers. At the moment, there are 1005 games that support Linux and SteamOS on Steam. That’s out of 4817 total games for all platforms on Steam, or 20.8% of all the games on Steam. And that’s just games—not DLC items, software, demos, or trailers. But, if you expand the search to include everything, there’s 1856 items in the Linux + SteamOS category.

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‘Seinfeld’ streaming deal reportedly worth over $100 million could be nearing completion – According to the Wall Street Journal, multiple players are bidding for the rights to the sitcom. Naturally, Amazon and Hulu are strong contenders with Yahoo also throwing its hat into the ring. Netflix is noticeably absent from the list of top contenders with sources stating that they are not interested in the rights to Seinfeld. Netflix is most likely passing on the show having just acquired “Friends” last year for a hefty undisclosed sum. While there is no firm pricing for Seinfeld’s 180 episode, sources state that the contract could be worth north of $500,000 per episode.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects – The Raspberry Pi’s very existence can be chalked up to creativity. Ebon Upton and the Raspberry Pi Foundation created the $35 mini-PC to inspire students to learn computer science and enable tinkerers to dream up wild projects without breaking the bank. And they have! In honor of Pi Day—March 14, or 3/14—and the recent release of the Raspberry Pi 2, we’re basking in 10 of the most creative, surprising, and downright interesting Raspberry Pi creations crafted since the micro-PC’s launch. Even better, most of the creators share full details on how to replicate these crazy innovative projects in your own home. Let’s dig in!

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# 3 –  Picrowave: Why bother owning a traditional microwave when you can swap out some innards and create your very own Pi-powered food nuker? Developer Nathan Broadbent took his microwave apart, redesigned the touchpad, and added some new functions like voice control, a barcode scanner to access an online database of cooking times, a web-based interface for remote access, and auto-tweets for when the timer is done.

Take an incredible drone flight through the world’s biggest cave – Equipped with a DJI Phantom 2, a Canon 6D and a GoPro Hero 4 Black, photographer Ryan Deboodt has produced some stunning footage of Hang Sơn Đoòng, the world’s biggest cave.

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This Guy Turned A Quadcopter Into A Star Wars Speeder Bike And It’s Amazing – Okay, this is the last quadcopter-to-“Star Wars Universe”-thing we (or at least I) will post, I promise. BUT SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT THIS THING. It is perfection. About 30 seconds into the video, I actually stood up and whooped.

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Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans – A poll by Reuters/Ipsos has found that more than 69% of Americans surveyed had no desire to buy the Apple Watch and 46% of those had heard nothing about Apple’s latest product. Polls show 3 percent (or 10 percent or 30 percent) will buy Apple Watch – Technically Incorrect: Now that Apple has presented its watch, the largest question emerges: how many people will buy it. Can anyone know?

UK safety tests show smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones – Transportation safety agencies have long said that using a handheld device such as a smartphone is a dangerous distraction to drivers. You pay less attention to the road, and reaction times are greatly slowed. But what about the continually growing presence of wearables like smartwatches? Surely they must be much less distracting than a phone, and with their heavy reliance on voice controls, they should be about as distracting as standard timepieces, right? Well, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) says just the opposite.

Cuba has allowed the launch of the country’s first free, public Wi-Fi – Cuba is taking small steps to loosen its grip on internet access in the country. Recently, a cultural center in Havana began rolling out access to free, public Wi-Fi — the first of its kind in Cuba. The country currently prioritizes its limited bandwidth for schools and businesses, but this is the first time the Cuban government has allowed a free, public Wi-Fi hub, AP reports. The cultural center is run by the Cuban visual artist Kcho, who has ties to the state government.

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(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fixing “Videogames” – Videogames are taking over the world. Videogames are bigger than movies, books, music, cars, mobile phones and sandwiches. Videogames are diverse, wonderful, causes for celebration. Videogames are art. Videogames are the tipping point of a 21st century revolution. Videogames aren’t some corner obsessive activity on the fringes of culture. Videogames make all the money. Videogames are going to win. And yet games don’t seem to be taking over the world. Games struggle to gain a wider acceptance equivalent to their footprint.

Something to think about:

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Pointing up   Thanks Delenn13

Today’s Free Downloads:

VideoCacheView – After watching a video in a Web site, you may want to save the video file into your local disk for playing it offline in the future. If the video file is stored in your browser’s cache, this utility can help you to extract the video file from the cache and save it for watching it in the future.

It automatically scans the entire cache of Internet Explorer and Mozilla-based Web browsers (Including Firefox) and finds all video files that are currently stored in it. It allows you to easily copy the cached video files into another folder for playing/watching them in the future. If you have a movie player that is configured to play flv files, it also allows you to play the video directly from your browser’s cache.

Using VideoCacheView

VideoCacheView doesn’t require any installation process or additional DLL files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file (VideoCacheView.exe)

After running VideoCacheView, it scan the cache folders of your Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers, as well as the temporary folder of Windows. Wait 5 – 30 seconds until the scanning process is finished, and the main window of VideoCacheView should display all the video files that are currently in cache.

After the video list is displayed, you can use one of the following options, assuming that the video files are stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = Yes):

Play Selected File: Allows you to play the video file directly from the cache, assuming that you have a video player that is configured to play .flv files.

Copy Selected Files To: Allows to copy the video files from the cache into another folder, so you will be able to play them in the future.

If you have a video file that is not stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = No), you can use the ‘Open Download URL In Browser’ option (F8) in order to download the video file. You can also use the ‘Copy Download URLs’ option (Ctrl+U) to copy the download URLs to the clipboard, and then use then in your browser or in other download software.

Be aware that some Web sites may not allow you to download a video file in this way.

Flash Video Files In Temporary Folder

Each time that a Web browser plays a Flash video file, the .flv file is saved into the temporary folder of Windows. Normally, you cannot copy this temporary file to another folder, because the flash player locks the file exclusively. Also the file is automatically deleted when you close the Web browser.

Starting from version 1.10, VideoCacheView displays the flash files in the temporary folder, and allows you to copy them into another folder. VideoCacheView can handle temporary flash files created by Internet Explorer, Mozilla/Firefox, Opera Web browser. Be aware that you must wait until the browser finish to download them. otherwise, the copied files will be corrupted.

Playing Video Files Directly From The Cache

Most Web sites today use Flash video files (.flv extension) for playing video inside the Web page.

VideoCacheView doesn’t provide a build-in video player, but if you already have a video player that is configured to play .flv files, VideoCacheView will be able to use it for playing the video files directly from the Web browser’s cache.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden at FutureFest: Mass Spying Isn’t Going To Stop the Next Terror Attack – It may come as a surprise, but Edward Snowden has defended spying as necessary; he just wants surveillance to have real oversight—and not to be conducted against all of us.

In a video interview broadcast at FutureFest in London, Snowden said it’s important to see that, “some of these programmes do serve purposes, so we see where to draw the line”.

And key to that is understanding the true purpose of mass surveillance: The targets aren’t terrorists, and it’s never stopped a terrorist attack. The attackers in the Charlie Hedbo, Canadian Parliament, and Australian shootings were all known to their governments, he noted. “They’re not going to stop the next attacks either,” he said. “Because they’re not public safety programs. They’re spying programmes.”

However, he noted that “they’re extremely valuable in terms of spying.” Spying has benefits, he said, giving governments information on everything from trade negotiations to foreign militaries. “Some of these things are valuable, and you want to retain these… but you have to have this debate in the public,” he said.

Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits – Despite the fact that no federal license plate legislation has been proposed, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has sent a pre-emptive letter to top Congressional lawmakers, warning them against any future restrictions of automated license plate readers. The IACP claims to be the “world’s oldest and largest association of law enforcement executives.”

As the letter, which was published last week, states:

We are deeply concerned about efforts to portray automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology as a national real-time tracking capability for law enforcement. The fact is that this technology and the data it generates is not used to track people in real time. ALPR is used every day to generate investigative leads that help law enforcement solve murders, rapes, and serial property crimes, recover abducted children, detect drug and human trafficking rings, find stolen vehicles, apprehend violent criminal alien fugitives, and support terrorism investigations.

Sarah Guy, a spokeswoman for the IACP, told Ars that current state and local restrictions have made the police lobby group concerned at the federal level.

The cameras scan at an extremely high rate, usually around 60 plates per second. Law enforcement policies vary widely concerning how long that information can be retained. Different agencies keep that data anywhere from a few weeks to indefinitely. Some cities have even mounted such cameras at their city borders, monitoring who comes in and out.

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Oakland Police Department

The Orwellian re-branding of “mass surveillance” as merely “bulk collection” – Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.

This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’s white-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection of billions of electronic communications events every day.

The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents long ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.

NYPD caught red-handed sanitizing police brutality Wikipedia entries: “Garner raised both his arms in the air” changed to “flailed his arms about.” – IP addresses linked to the New York Police Department’s computer network have been used to sanitize Wikipedia entries about cases of police brutality.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen nefarious alterations to Wikipedia entries, and it won’t be the last. But the disclosure of NYPD’s entries by Capital New York come as the Justice Department announced a national initiative for “building community trust and justice” with the nation’s policing agencies.

As many as 85 IP addresses connected to 1 Police Plaza altered entries for some of the most high-profile police abuse cases, including those for victims Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo, Capital New York said. Edits have also been made to other entries covering NYPD scandals, its stop-and-frisk program, and the department leadership.

One of the most brazen alterations concerned Eric Garner, who was killed by police last year during an arrest that was captured on video by an onlooker. The mobile phone video went viral, prompting widespread protests and a grand jury investigation. On December 3, the Staten Island grand jury agreed not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection to Garner’s death, despite the medical examiner ruling it a homicide. The same day as the grand jury announcement, the “Death of Eric Garner” page on Wikipedia was altered from IP addresses traced to 1 Police Plaza. Those alterations can be seen here and here.

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