US cops have killed more people in the last month than British police have killed since 1900; If you called anyone overseas from 1992-2013, the DEA probably knew about it; Think Windows’s Built-In Antivirus Will Keep You Safe? You’re Wrong; 3 fast, easy ways to find the perfect animated GIF; Taplet for iOS pulls still images from videos; How to manage your online reputation for free; Spring cleaning: Back up your phone; 7 new hardware technologies you’ll see in Windows 10 PCs; 5 Reasons You Should Buy the Apple Watch; Periscope for iOS update brings simplified blocking; 5 Reasons You Should Not Buy the Apple Watch; iOS 8.3 now available, fixes a ton of bugs and issues; Skype’s real-time translator now speaks Italian and Chinese; Spring cleaning for your Gmail; Your ultimate ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 cheat sheet.
How to manage your online reputation for free – Just a few years ago, much of what we did was soon forgotten. But thanks largely to social media, now we do. Misspelled Tweets, Facebook rants after you’ve had a bad day, and unflattering photos posted by your friends have made it difficult to manage your online reputation, especially when it’s archived for posterity. And it’s not just about keeping a lid on the past or your online mistakes — it’s also about making yourself look confident, capable, and Internet-savvy. There are plenty of companies that will help you clean up, protect and build a professional online rep for a price, but you don’t need that. Here’s how to manage your online reputation all by yourself (for free).
Spring cleaning: Back up your phone – It’s not exactly cleaning per se, but in the spirit of organization, now is a good time to go through your devices and make sure you’re up to date on your backups. After all, what’s the point of diligently backing up your iPhone or Android device, only to find that you’re a few months (and several hundred photos and text messages) behind when you need to do an emergency restore?
7 new hardware technologies you’ll see in Windows 10 PCs – Some new features that make for easier hardware handling are already available, but not yet in Windows PCs, which still make up the vast majority of desktop and laptop machines. For example, Apple’s MacBook and Google’s Chromebook Pixel have set the stage for USB Type C ports and its associated reversible cables to be used in Windows PCs later this year. Meanwhile, the new Windows Hello feature—which will allow users to unlock a Windows 10 device by recognizing a face, iris or fingerprint—could bring 3D cameras and more sensors to PCs.
3 fast, easy ways to find the perfect animated GIF – You need an image that will simultaneously display your encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and wit. But if you’ve never tried diving into the world of the GIF, where do you start? Should you create your own with Photoshop or Gimp? Nah—all you need to do is bookmark some great online repositories and simple tools that make it painless to get your GIF on.
5 Reasons You Should Buy the Apple Watch – The Apple Watch goes on sale soon. Here are 5 reasons you want one.
5 Reasons You Should Not Buy the Apple Watch – The Apple Watch goes on sale soon. Here are 5 reasons you shouldn’t buy one.
Periscope for iOS update brings simplified blocking – Periscope has pushed out a new update for its iOS app, and with it comes some new features, not the least of which is the ability to more easily block viewers while you’re streaming. As expected, the update also brings a few bug fixes in tow, such as that caching issue that was presenting the wrong user profile picture, as well as the problem that prevented some from watching broadcasts that were being heavily watched by others. We’ve the full change log after the jump!
Twitter is dropping the ‘Discover’ tab – Twitter’s Discover tab is gone. Today, the microblogging platform announces they’re retiring Discover, and will be transitioning Trends to the Search page. Trends is also getting a bit of attention in this process, signaling to us Twitter is keen to streamline our experience a bit. With Trends, Twitter will now provide a little context to hashtags you’re not immediately familiar with. The change is coming for both iOS and Android, and via an app update that’s already rolling out to all users.
iOS 8.3 now available, fixes a ton of bugs and issues – Having been in beta for what seems like forever, Apple has released iOS 8.3. In many regards, iOS 8.3 closely mirrors the OS X fixes behind the scenes, with WiFi and Bluetooth fixes inbound. In fact, this update is absolutely ripe with little tweaks and fixes — a pleasant side effect of Apple’s new iOS beta program, no doubt. Much of the ‘fixing’ seems to hit Safari, but Apple has also improved app launching, Messages, and Control Center. the full changelog is below.
Taplet for iOS pulls still images from new or existing videos – Take a video on your iPhone or iPad, and there’s bound to be at least one still image you’d like to extract. Someone made a funny face, or the bat-ball impact is just too cool to pass up. You could feed that video into some sort of expensive desktop software to extract stills, but that’s not fun. Enter Taplet, an app that aims to snatch still images from your videos for you, and let you use them as you please.
OS X Update Brings New Photos App, Diverse Emoji to Mac – Say goodbye to iPhoto and Aperture, Mac users. Because Cupertino’s replacement—simply called Photos—has arrived. Apple on Wednesday released a free software update for users running OS X Yosemite (v10.10.3), which includes the new Photos app first released to developers back in February, and a number of other goodies. That includes more than 300 new, racially diverse Emoji characters that we first got a peek at earlier this year, along with the usual bug fixes.
Skype’s real-time translator now speaks Italian and Chinese – Microsoft has been trialling its Skype Translator software that automatically translates voice calls between people, and it’s getting a language update today. While the initial version only supported English and Spanish, today’s update brings Italian and Chinese (Mandarin). “As you can imagine, Mandarin is a very challenging language to learn, even for Skype Translator,” explains Microsoft’s Yasmin Khan. “With approximately 10,000 characters and multiple tones, this is one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to master, along with Arabic, Japanese, and Korean.”
Facebook launches standalone Messenger for web browsers – There’s now a web browser version of Facebook Messenger to go along with the standalone smartphone apps the company is making everyone use. No, Facebook the website isn’t taking away your ability to chat with friends. After the controversy that surrounded divorcing the two central features on mobile, Facebook is adamant that Messenger isn’t leaving Facebook.com anytime soon. Instead, Messenger for the web — which you’ll find at Messenger.com starting today — focuses solely on simple conversations and leaves the other parts of Facebook that can be distracting to the primary site.
Spring cleaning for your Gmail – Spring cleaning month is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you should stop optimizing the tech in your life. Gmail can be a source of stress if you don’t have a good system in place for responding to email, or the ability to easily locate contact information. Fortunately, these changes are just a few clicks away. Here’s seven tips to make Gmail work at its best for you.
Think Windows’s Built-In Antivirus Will Keep You Safe? You’re Wrong – It’s true that Windows 8 and 8.1 come with antivirus protection built in, but you can’t rely on it to protect you against malware attack. Results from independent labs and our own hands-on tests show that you really need a third-party antivirus utility.
Diving into the Dark Web: Where does your stolen data go? – If your sensitive data is stolen online, where does it go — and who sees it? One security team found out.
Review: Anonabox or InvizBox, which Tor router better anonymizes online life? – These devices are, to varying degrees, effective ways to hide from unwanted attention of all sorts. That is, they’ll work short of a state actor looking to use a giant datacenter dedicated to performing all manner of de-anonymizing attacks by using the Tor takeover conspiracy model of the week, zero-day malware, or people’s own simple mistakes against them. But these routers all follow slightly different approaches. Anonabox is a stunningly hands-off product that has no user interface other than its lengthy Wi-Fi password; InvizBox provides hands-off privacy with the addition of an administrative interface to apply fixes and leverage moderately more complicated Tor capabilities; and PORTAL promises to provide everything—including pluggable protocols for Tor to help it get past the most persistent state-funded nastiness.
Hands on (literally): the two Tor “travel router” contenders, Anonabox (left) and InvizBox (right), are ready to conceal your Internet wanderings. Sean Gallagher.
Pinterest, Yammer scramble to patch login thievery headaches – Pinterest has patched a vulnerability that meant its iPhone app leaked passwords to other surfers on the same network. An earlier version of the Pinterest iOS app fails to validate the server certificate, potentially allowing a suitably positioned attacker on the same network to steal login credentials related to the photo sharing-focused social networking website. The vulnerability might be exploited in an open Wi-Fi environment to run man-in-the-middle attacks using an invalid cert, according to bug finder Han Sahin of Dutch security firm Securify. In response, Pinterest acknowledged the problem and said that it had already developed a fix.
YouTube Confirms Plans For An Ad-Free, Subscription-Based Service – Confirming reports from last fall, YouTube announced today its plans for an ad-free, subscription-based service by way of an email sent out to YouTube Partners. The email details the forthcoming option, which will offer consumers the choice to pay for an “ads-free” version of YouTube for a monthly fee. The additional monetization option requires partners to agree to updated terms on YouTube’s Creator Studio Dashboard, which notes that the changes will go into effect on June 15, 2015.
Report: Google ‘GMeet’ to Revamp the Teleconference – First discovered by Google+ user Florian Kiersch, the Web giant appears to be developing a new teleconferencing solution dubbed GMeet, or Google Meeting. Kiersch managed to nab some screenshots of the new service (pictured), which show that it will let you schedule a new meeting, join one that’s already in progress, and see a schedule of your meetings for that day. Google appears to be testing the service internally at the moment, as Kiersch said it’s only available to people who work at the company. Based on the leaked screenshots, it appears GMeet will be an Android app, but Kiersch said it will also be available on the Web through a Chrome extension.
You can now buy a BMW from Amazon Japan – You can order just about anything from Amazon. Computers, lawnmowers, diapers, wine. On their Japanese site, though, you can even order yourself a brand new BMW. No, not a Matchbox car, an actual BMW that you can drive. By drive, I don’t meant using a remote control. While this particular BMW is, in fact, battery powered, it’s not an RC you can race around inside your house. It’s the BMW i3, the company’s popular compact EV.
Google search might soon hook you up with local home services – Google seems to be trying to get more and more personal, suggesting things that go beyond our digital personas, perhaps not to everyone’s liking. The latest unconfirmed convenience that Google Search users might soon have at their fingertips would be connection to local home service providers, like plumbers, carpenters, and electricians. This would seem to be the next step to Google embracing almost every aspect of our lives, after it started helping us find the best nearby car insurance through Google Compare.
FCC fines AT&T a record $25 million for customer data thefts – The Federal Communications Commission is handing AT&T a $25 million fine, the largest-ever amount for a privacy-related issue, for a series of data breaches that gave out personal information for nearly 280,000 customers and contributed to international trafficking of stolen mobile phones. The breaches occurred during 2013 and 2014 at AT&T call centers in Mexico, Colombia, and the Philippines, all serving customers in the US. AT&T has agreed to a settlement and to making several changes to its security practices.
Zynga CEO Mattrick leaves abruptly, replaced by founder Pincus – Zynga CEO Don Mattrick has abruptly left the company, to be replaced by his predecessor, company founder Mark Pincus, the company announced Wednesday. The company said in a statement ahead of its planned first-quarter conference call in May that Mattrick, who joined after leading the Xbox video game group at Microsoft, is leaving Zynga and its board of directors after less than two years at the helm.
Games and Entertainment:
Your ultimate ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 cheat sheet – With Season 5 of “Game of Thrones” starting Sunday, we’ve created a GIF-filled refresher course on who did what to whom, where and sometimes why. Plus, photo clues and a video recap.
Watch the first trailer for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – Yesterday, Square Enix officially unveiled Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the latest entry in the long-running cyberpunk series. Today you can finally see what the game looks like in action thanks to the very first trailer. Mankind Divided takes place in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution, and once again stars augmented hero Adam Jensen; this time around he’s out hunting other mechanically augmented humans, who have been dubbed terrorists. Eidos Montreal will once again be developing the game, using the studio’s all-new Dawn Engine. No word yet on a release date, but the next chapter in the Deus Ex franchise will be coming to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
New fan-made Star Trek TV show brings back original cast members – Currently, there are two fan-made Star Trek projects nearing release and both of them are vying for the chance to bring Star Trek back to TV. Star Trek: Axanar is a full length feature film about the four-year war with the Klingons that takes place in the Star Trek established canon’s past. Star Trek: Renegades is a fan-made television pilot that takes place 10 years after the events of Star Trek: Voyager.
Xbox One Gets Over-The-Air TV Powers In The U.S. And Canada – Xbox One owners have a new way to get TV on their console: The game machine supports over-the-air TV now for those in the Xbox One Preview program, and in the coming months for everyone else, provided that you also pick up an $80 Hauppauge WinTV-955Q TV tuner and an HDTV antenna. Xbox is also working with Hauppauge to make it even cheaper to get on board, with a $60 tuner panned for availability sometime in the “next few month” and made available across the U.S. and Canada. Provided you get the right kind of HDTV antenna, and are within range of over-the-air broadcast stations, you’ll be able to use the tune and antenna hardware plugged into your Xbox One to get both OneGuide and MiniGuide overlays on the console showing you programming information.
“Game of Hyrule” video makes a gorgeous mix of fantasy – You’re probably tired, maybe even sick, of the numerous renditions of the now iconic Game of Thrones opening sequence. We’ve got Starcraft versions, or one that’s entirely done inside Minecraft’s blocky world. But from time to time, something comes up that’s so brilliant that it does give you goosebumps and shivers down your spine. Especially if it pays homage to a well-loved fantasy world. That’s exactly what video sketch group Megasteakman accomplished when it rendered Zelda’s world of Hyrule into a very short Game of Thrones tour.
Off Topic (Sort of):
US cops have killed more people in the last month than British police have killed since 1900 – A total of 111 people were killed by police in the United States in March of 2015. Since 1900, in the entire United Kingdom, 52 people have been killed by police. Don’t bother adjusting for population differences, or poverty, or mental illness, or anything else. The sheer fact that American police kill TWICE as many people per month as police have killed in the modern history of the United Kingdom is sick, preposterous, and alarming.
Super-light drone mimics a butterfly – Automation and robotics company Festo has designed a super-light drone aircraft that looks and moves like a butterfly, which is rather hypnotic to watch all by itself, but it gets better. You can unleash multiple butterfly drones and they flutter around as an interconnected group. The artificial insects (called eMotionButterflies) rely on a number of technologies to get airborne and stay there. First, there are the light plastic wings. Each one is controlled independently by a tiny servo. This allows the robot to maneuver in the air without any complicated fins of spinning blades. It’s not as precise as a quadrocopter, but it’s certainly more elegant. The hardware controlling the butterfly is also extremely compact.
AIG wins approval to fly drones to help process claims – The FAA gives AIG approval to use unmanned aerial vehicles to examine disaster sites, assess risk and get claims rolling.
Drones to the rescue: How one South African project is using big data to outfox rhino poachers – A project to protect South African rhinos is using crowdfunding to help fund the purchase of drones used to defeat poachers.
U.S. Teens’ Social Media Activity Is Diversifying, Says Pew – Anyone in tech can tell you that Actual Teens are hallowed ground. Where teens’ tastes wander, the industry froths itself into a frenzy attempting to follow. For teens are a bellwether of dollar valuations to come. So what are American Teens keen on right now? A new report by the Pew Research Center delves into the tech that matters to the kids that matter.
Rand Paul sells “NSA spy cam blocker” as presidential bid fundraiser – Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced his intent to run for United States president in 2016 on Tuesday, although the video of the announcement is currently offline due to a copyright claim filed on behalf of the song it used. In the meantime, supporters can access an online store full of Rand-branded merch. There, next to political-support knickknacks like yard signs and bumper stickers, shoppers can find a heretofore uncommon accessory in the political-fundraiser category: a “webcam blocker.” Or, more specifically, an “NSA spy cam blocker,” which retails for $15 and comes with a giant “RAND” logo.
Apple would rather you didn’t queue at its stores for its new products – It’s a familiar sight: Apple unveils a new product, and excited fans flock to its retail stores ahead of launch day, eager to be among the first people to get their hands on the new device. Indeed, it’s a sight that many other companies look upon with jealous eyes, wishing their customers were similarly keen to buy their products – but it seems that Apple isn’t quite as happy about it as one might imagine. In fact, Apple’s head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, would much rather customers place orders for its new devices through the company’s website, rather than turning up at its stores.
NASA anticipates finding evidence of alien life in 10 to 20 years – If you’re hoping humans will discover other living beings in the universe during your lifetime, you might be in luck. Speaking yesterday at a panel in DC, NASA researchers touched on the topic of alien life and finding evidence of such, and what they had to say was largely inspiring: it’ll eventually happen, and the first stages of that likely within the span of the next 20 years. The prospect is exciting, not the least of which is due to the leaps in space travel humans are likely to make in that same time span.
Something to think about:
“The fact that our government collects so much information about us — where we live, our economic status, so many unbelievable little details about our lives — but it doesn’t track its own behaviour when it kills, either justifiably or otherwise, is incomprehensible.”
– D. Brian Burghart
Today’s Free Downloads:
New Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit version is out – Did you know that the majority of new malware is delivered via the web through a process known as a drive-by download attack?
The scenario is quite simple: you browse to a website and malicious code is downloaded to your computer automatically without your knowledge or approval.
Contrary to some beliefs, you do not need to browse to shady websites for this to happen. In fact, all websites are a potential source of infection either because they can get compromised or because they host a malicious advertisement.
Anti-Exploit protection is about being proactive and not giving the bad guys a single chance to compromise your system. Some pieces of malware can be cleaned up more or less easily but other types like ransomware can’t.
Anti-Exploit is the perfect complement to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for a defense in depth in a world where cyber criminals are constantly pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to compromise your machines.
Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit comes in two flavours: The free or the premium version and both can be downloaded here.
Existing users can install the new version on top of the previous one or wait for a program update. More details and change log can be found in our forums here.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
If you called anyone overseas from 1992-2013, the DEA probably knew about it – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), under approval from the top echelons of the Department of Justice, ran a secret, extensive phone metadata bulk collection program for over two decades, amassing billions of records, according to a new report published Tuesday in USA Today.
This database had previously been revealed to a lesser extent earlier this year, but neither its operational details nor its scope had been revealed until now.
For more than two decades, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking, current and former officials involved with the operation said. The targeted countries changed over time but included Canada, Mexico and most of Central and South America.
Federal investigators used the call records to track drug cartels’ distribution networks in the USA, allowing agents to detect previously unknown trafficking rings and money handlers. They also used the records to help rule out foreign ties to the bombing in 1995 of a federal building in Oklahoma City and to identify U.S. suspects in a wide range of other investigations.
As Ars reported in January 2015, the DEA had previously revealed some information about this database in a three-page partially-redacted affidavit that the database was authorized under a particular federal drug trafficking statute. The law allows the government to use “administrative subpoenas” to obtain business records and other “tangible things.”
So, the DEA simply “began ordering telephone companies to turn over lists of all phone calls from the USA to countries where the government determined drug traffickers operated, current and former officials said.”
Phone Surveillance Revelation Should Prompt Reassessment Of NSA Spying – Does evidence of a decades-old surveillance program throw out the case many public officials have made for the modern surveillance state?
Since Edward Snowden first leaked documents about secret National Security Agency (NSA) programs, government officials have defended them in the name of September 11 and national security. Again and again, we heard that these programs were built in the wake of that tragic day to “connect the dots” so no event like that would ever occur again. They addressed issues of national security, not day-to-day policing.
But a new report from USA TODAY suggests that the precursor of this program was implemented almost a decade earlier — fighting drug cartels, not terrorism.
The report says the United States began keeping secret records of billions of Americans’ calls to international numbers in 1992. The program, which the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration led, spanned more than two decades and affected calls to as many as 116 countries, even if the callers were not suspects in crimes.
Google ordered by German authority to change privacy practices – A German data protection authority has ordered Google to change how it handles users’ private data in the country by the end of the year.
The administrative order was issued on Wednesday by the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Johannes Caspar, in order to force Google to comply with German data protection law and give users more control over their data.
The Hamburg data protection commissioner originally issued its order against Google in September last year, but Google decided to oppose it. Its objection was overruled by the authority.
The company is now obliged to make the necessary changes in order to process data of German users on a valid legal basis, Caspar said.
US drug cops taken to court to ensure all dragnet snooping records are destroyed – Campaign group Human Rights Watch is suing Uncle Sam’s anti-drug squads – the US Drug Enforcement Administration and others – after it emerged the g-men were secretly monitoring Americans’ international phone calls.
The activists claim the collection of telephone conversation records is unconstitutional, and causes “irreparable harm” to people. Human Rights Watch is being represented by the EFF, which has previously taken the US government to task over blanket surveillance operations. Together they filed a lawsuit in California on Tuesday against the DEA, the FBI, the US Department of Justice, the US Department of Homeland Security, and the United States of America for good measure.
Human Rights Watch’s general counsel Dinah PoKempner said her organization “works with people who are sometimes in life or death situations, where speaking out can make them a target,” adding: “Whom we communicate with and when is often extraordinarily sensitive – and it’s information that we wouldn’t turn over to the government lightly.”
From the early 1990s, the DEA kept logs on virtually all telephone calls from the US to as many as 116 countries. The agency wanted to track the trafficking of illegal substances, and wound up gathering masses of information on innocent citizens – which is upsetting privacy campaigners.
FBI would rather prosecutors drop cases than disclose stingray details – Not only is the FBI actively attempting to stop the public from knowing about stingrays, it has also forced local law enforcement agencies to stay quiet even in court and during public hearings, too.
An FBI agreement, published for the first time in unredacted form on Tuesday, clearly demonstrates the full extent of the agency’s attempt to quash public disclosure of information about stingrays. The most egregious example of this is language showing that the FBI would rather have a criminal case be dropped to protect secrecy surrounding the stingray.
Relatively little is known about how, exactly, stingrays, known more generically as cell-site simulators, are used by law enforcement agencies nationwide, although new documents have recently been released showing how they have been purchased and used in some limited instances. Worse still, cops have lied to courts about their use. Not only can stingrays be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Typically, police deploy them without first obtaining a search warrant.
The US Gov Can Download the Entire Contents of Your Computer at Border Crossings – Hundreds of thousands of travelers cross US borders every day. And none of them—save the precious few with diplomatic immunity—have any right to privacy, according to Department of Homeland Security documents recently obtained by MuckRock.
The US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Privacy Impact Assessment for the Border Searches of Electronic Devices outlines the finer points of border officials’ authority to search the electronic devices of citizens and non-citizens alike crossing the US border. What becomes clear is that this authority has been broadly interpreted to mean that any device brought into or out of the country is subject to the highest level of scrutiny, even when there is no explicit probable cause.
Based upon little more than the opinion of a single US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer, any device can be searched and its contents read. With approval from a supervisor, the device can be seized, its contents copied in full, or both.
Canada: A welcome warning on privacy rights: Editorial – In the sci-fi thriller Minority Report, advertisers target consumers by scanning their irises as they walk by. The scans are connected to data files of private information so complete that the advertiser can actually address passing pedestrians by name.
We’re not there yet. But Bell Canada’s so-called “Relevant Advertising Program” certainly gives cause for concern. Luckily, it alarmed the privacy commissioner of Canada as well, after he received an unprecedented 170 complaints about the program.
And this week Daniel Therrien issued a welcome report slamming the telecommunications giant for not seeking consent from each of its customers to create personal files that Bell used to help advertisers target them. He also threatened to take Bell to Federal Court if it did not comply with his recommendation.
In all, it was a much-needed shot across the bow of Bell and other companies that might infringe on customers’ privacy rights.
And it worked. After fighting the privacy commissioner for a year on the issue, Bell promised to obtain consent. It claimed it was doing so because it is “dedicated to protecting customer privacy.”
In fact, Bell’s targeted advertising program was downright creepy in how deeply it invaded customer privacy to sell information to third-party advertisers.