Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 27, 2015

Enable or Disable what Google tracks;  Send notes, directions, more to Android phones from a Google search;  Sick of Netflix’s available shows? Use a VPN;  Camio turns your spare phone or tablet into Dropcam;  9 Apple Watch Tips You’ll Need to Know;  Twitter launches ‘Highlights,’ to help users cut through the chaff;  Turn your iPhone or Android smartphone into a satellite phone;  Hackers Hit Tesla Twitter Account, Website;  How gaming can improve our cognitive abilities;  Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating;  Americans Get Their Revenge on Comcast;  Former CIA head’s no-jail sentence for leaking called gross hypocrisy;  Internet Privacy Is The Wrong Conversation;  Twitter launches Highlights;  LinuxLive USB Creator (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Person Finder and Facebook Safety Check provide relief in Nepal Quake – Tragedy struck Nepal as a 7.8-magnitude earthquake caused damage throughout the capital, Kathmandu. The earthquake also triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, endangering climbers. Sadly, Google executive Dan Fredinburg lost his life in the avalanche. To help with the recovery and relief efforts, Google and Facebook are stepping up to the plate, reminding the public of their respective Person Finder and Safety Check features which can be used to check on friends and family from half way around the globe.

Enable or Disable what Google tracks about your online presence – Browser preferences for privacy are all well and good, but Google takes it a step further by saving your online presence online, to enable or disable certain tracking options requires a few steps.

Send notes, directions, more to Android phones from a Google search – Last week, we showed you how to find your Android phone with a simple Google search. Now Google is introducing new features that allow you to push data to your phone through your desktop browser. You can send directions from the web to your phone; just type “send directions” into Google and a drop-down menu should pop up allowing you to “send directions to [your] phone.” Then, Google Maps will automatically open on your phone, and you’ll be ready to navigate away from your desktop.

Sick of Netflix’s available shows? Use a VPN to change your country and see more – There may be some risk, but if you’re interested you can check out the Netflix movie selection in countries around the world.

Camio turns your spare phone or tablet into Dropcam – What if you could get your webcam or a spare iOS or Android device to work like Dropcam? You can do just that with Camio, a cloud-based service that transforms smartphones, tablets and PCs into smart monitoring devices, complete with live streaming, motion detection, alerts, and more. Where it truly shines, however, is in the cloud recording department and the various ways in which it allows you to access your recordings.

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9 Apple Watch Tips You’ll Need to Know – After unboxing the new smartwatch, we linked it up to an iPhone 6, and started exploring. Apple products are usually quite intuitive, and the Apple Watch is no exception, but there is a bit of a learning curve since everything has to be displayed on a tiny screen. Our slideshow features several videos that walk you through the basics of your Apple Watch—from changing the watch face to customizing notifications and setting an alarm. Check them out, and let us know in the comments if there are any other features you’d like to see in action.

Microsoft adds Apple Watch support to Skype for iPhone – The Apple Watch seems to be the next big thing, and a whole slew of apps are falling in line to provide support for the device – this time, another one from Microsoft: Skype for iPhone.

Twitter launches ‘Highlights,’ to help users cut through the chaff – Twitter seems to be taking a cue from Facebook. The company announced on Thursday a feature called Highlights that — like Facebook’s News Feed — is designed to draw on a user’s information to deliver relevant content and keep people from becoming overwhelmed.

Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating – The wait is over. Debian 8.0—“Jessie”—will be released on April 25, after a nearly two-year development cycle for the next release of this long-standing Linux distribution. Microsoft is even throwing Debian a birthday party, complete with cake. Sure, it’s basically just an advertisement for Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform, but it’s still amusing.

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New version of Google Glass coming soon, says Luxottica CEO – The search giant is going forward with its connected-eyewear project, and it has partnered with the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley for the next version.

GeniCan smart garbage can builds your next shopping list – A new smart home appliance has just cropped up, and it aims to make throwing out your kitchen waste a convenience. It’s called GeniCan, and it is a smart device that attaches to the top of your existing kitchen trash can. When an item is thrown away, the GeniCan scans the product and adds it to a growing shopping list for the next time you go shopping. It eliminates the need to write things down on a shopping list, and is joined by a few convenient features like finding coupons for the product (if available), and more.

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Five ways to bump up your Google mobile search ranking – This week Google altered the way it orders search results on phones to give preference to what it terms mobile-friendly websites. The change to Google’s algorithm means sites that haven’t been optimised to be easy to use and view on mobile devices could find themselves bumped down the mobile search rankings. Google offers a tool to allow sites to see if they pass its mobile-friendly test. Sites that fail appear to be falling foul of common gotchas – many of which are fairly simple to rectify. Here’s the approach you should take if you want to pass the test.

Turn your iPhone or Android smartphone into a satellite phone – The modern smartphone is a wonder of modern technology, and in combination with the carrier network can allow you to make calls from the densest urban jungle to Mount Everest. But despite the amazing global coverage of the carrier networks, sometimes it just isn’t enough. This is when you need to rely on satellite coverage. And believe it or not, you can add satellite capability to your existing iPhone or Android smartphone. Yes, that’s right, you no longer need a dedicated satellite phone. What you need is a Thuraya SatSleeve. Just slide on the sleeve, and BINGO! You have a satellite phone. Yes, calls and data are going to cost you an arm and a leg (don’t be surprised if it adds up to several dollars a minute depending on where you want to use your handset).

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Google officially discontinues Nexus 7 tablet – If you’re in the market for an affordable, highly-rated, not-too-big-not-too-small tablet, your chances to buy the Nexus 7 are quickly running out. If you were planning to purchase one from Google directly, then your ship has already sailed. That’s because the company officially discontinued the 7-inch tablet on Friday, and is no longer selling it on the Google Store’s website. You can still find one from other places, but you better act fast.

Security:

Critical HTTPS bug may open 25,000 iOS apps to eavesdropping attacks – At least 25,000 iOS apps available in Apple’s App Store contain a critical vulnerability that may completely cripple HTTPS protections designed to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks that steal or modify sensitive data, security researchers warned. As was the case with a separate HTTPS vulnerability reported earlier this week that affected 1,500 iOS apps, the bug resides in AFNetworking, an open-source code library that allows developers to drop networking capabilities into their iOS and OS X apps. Any app that uses a version of AFNetworking prior to the just-released 2.5.3 may expose data that’s trivial for hackers to monitor or modify, even when it’s protected by the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol.

Google says Chinese Great Cannon shows need to encrypt web – The large DDoS attack on GitHub and Greatfire that occurred over March and April would not have been possible with encrypted web traffic, Google has said.

With ransomware on the rise, cryptographers take it personally – Some of the world’s leading cryptographers are concerned about the increasing number of malicious programs that hold computers and mobile phones to ransom, in many cases by abusing the encryption algorithms they designedd. The security industry is not doing enough and it’s going to get worse, they said

Hackers Hit Tesla Twitter Account, Website – According to numerous reports yesterday, an unknown individual (or individuals) managed to get into the Tesla Twitter account, as well as the Twitter account belonging to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The hijackers claiming responsibility indicated they were known as “ripprgang” and, yes, they even posted a link to their own Twitter account—which isn’t filled with anything interesting, unfortunately, seeing as it has already been suspended as of this article’s writing.

Company News:

Hello?! Nokia Releases Official Statement Denying Reports It Will Return To Mobile – In a (short and somewhat terse) official statement today, Nokia noted “recent news reports claiming the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China.” It went on: “These reports are false, and include comments incorrectly attributed to a Nokia Networks executive. Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.”

Americans Get Their Revenge on Comcast – First AT&T/T-Mobile, then Sprint/T-Mobile, and now Comcast/Time Warner have collapsed. This might also put AT&T/DirecTV in jeopardy. What all of these have in common is that they involved a service that’s essential for participating in the modern economy, and they totally failed to make the case that their mergers would make consumers’ lives better.

BitTorrent confirms layoffs: 40 workers rumored gone – BitTorrent has been putting a lot of work into growing, and it has seemingly been progressing well with its BitTorrent Originals entertainment effort and BitTorrent Sync, among other things. Sources have cropped up to reveal that things may not be going so well behind closed doors, however, and they claim that yesterday the company laid off “dozens” of employees. The move was said to be in an effort to focus on a smaller bunch of products, and to “streamline business operations”.

Microsoft CEO says Office has been downloaded 100 million times on iOS and Android – Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, revealed that Office has been downloaded more than 100 million times on iOS and Android, and reiterated plans to ensure that its products reach “every mobile device.”

Infosys buying digital commerce provider Kallidus in $120 million deal – Also doing business under the moniker Skada, Kallidus comes with a cloud-based digital commerce platform designed to link all of the e-commerce endpoints from the couch to the counter.

Games and Entertainment:

Solitaire Is Coming Back on Windows – The much-loved card game will once again be just a few clicks away when Microsoft’s next OS launches this summer. This means you’ll no longer have to go through the trouble of separately downloading it like you need to do on Windows 8. Microsoft previously admitted that Solitaire, along with Minesweeper and Hearts, have a “devoted following,” but decided not to pre-install them on Windows 8.

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Dungeons 2 review: Almost the Dungeon Keeper 3 you’ve been waiting for – Suffice it to say, Dungeons 2 is better than that pseudo-Dungeon Keeper racket. But that bar couldn’t be lower if the person holding the bar got stabbed in the gut by EA, fell down a conveniently placed flight of stairs into a basement, and then carried the bar six feet further down into a freshly-dug grave. Is Dungeons 2 any good not just in comparison, but on its own? Ah, now that’s the real question.

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Valve’s Launch Of Paid Mods Faces Backlash From Community – PC gaming giant Valve is facing vocal backlash from its community a day after giving developers of game modifications the ability to charge for their work on the Steam platform. Whereas digital stores typically take a fraction of the sales they process — say, Apple’s 30% on app sales an in-app puchases — Valve has decided to take 75% from each sale of paid mods. That amount is then split between Valve and the publisher or developer behind the original game. That split is one of the sticking points emerging as an issue in Reddit threads and posts on the Steam Community, but it’s certainly not the only one, as many understand it’s a prerequisite to get studios interested in letting others profit from the games they make.

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How gaming can improve our cognitive abilities – Adam Gazzaley is building a repertoire of games that could one day help us reduce or even reverse the impact on our cognitive faculties of disorders such as Alzheimer’s, or deficits caused by brain trauma. Gazzaley emphasised that although he is not against using medication for these types of deficits, 50 years of drug research later “and not one case has resulted in a high-level success story.” On top of this, high drug doses needed to target the underlying neural network inevitably have side effects, and treatment is not personalized—doses are often based on anecdotal evidence provided by the patient. It’s clear we need to look elsewhere for answers, at least until drug research finds a better solution or a complementary one.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Internet Privacy Is The Wrong Conversation – The truth is, people will never achieve true privacy and anonymity online. Tracking is not only here to stay, it’s getting more pervasive and sophisticated. The technology now exists to track your movement across the web without even needing cookies. “Canvas fingerprinting” for example, is one of a number of cookie-less browser techniques that allow sites to uniquely identify and track visitors. In addition, Facebook and Google are becoming more savvy about correlating individuals’ activities on multiple devices, getting a single view of a person’s online behavior across their smartphone, laptop and any other devices. Furthermore, as emotional a topic as tracking can be, few people change their online behavior because of it or even bother to read the legalistic-to-the-point-of-unfathomable privacy policies that sites post

The hottest gadgets of 1985 – Summary: It seems like only yesterday for the Gen-X crowd, but it was 30 years ago that some of the most influential innovations in consumer technology were introduced.

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We are cruel. We always have been. The Internet did not make us so – Not that it asked me and not that it needs me and not that I expect it to do anything but mock me for my efforts, but I’m going to defend the Internet. Lately, humanity has been flattering itself that it was better and kinder before the Internet – as though we never slipped anonymous notes through locker doors in high-school hallways that were echo chambers in themselves, as if we never wrote on actual walls. To hear us now, you’d think no one ever ever crank-called late at night, dialled up even before dial-up to offer abuse, stared into other people’s windows through our own twitching curtains.

14 Animals Who Wore Cameras for Your Amusement (and Science) – If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like for a sea turtle swimming gracefully through the blue expanses, an eagle soaring through the mountains, or where your cat travels at night, technology makes it possible. Take a look through our slideshow to learn what it’s like to be a Hawaiin monk seal, a giant squid, and a menagerie of other critters. It will get you in touch with your wild side! Or something.

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Android mascot urinates on Apple in Google Maps Easter Egg – It’s a well-documented fact that Google loves Easter Eggs. However, this one hiding out in Google Maps is a spiteful little jab at Apple. It’s not exactly stealthily hidden for an Easter Egg. While a specific set of coordinates will take you right to the graffiti, you can also just punch up the New Islamabad Airport and head due East. You’ll stumble across it in no time.

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Mom allegedly attacks school official after daughter not allowed cell phone – In April, a Philadelphia school principal stumbled into a filmed contretemps with a parent who demanded that the school give him his daughter’s cell phone back. The school had confiscated it and said it would keep it for some weeks. Now footage from India has emerged, in which a mom is allegedly so upset that her daughter wasn’t allowed to have her cell phone at school that she attacks school director Jyoti Nagrani.

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Feds: 6 died as a result of overdosing from Silk Road-purchased drugs – The head attorney for Silk Road founder and convicted felon Ross Ulbricht has asked the judge that his upcoming sentencing hearing be postponed, according to a Friday court filing. Why does this lawyer, Joshua Dratel, want the date to be pushed back? Because, he argues, the defense needs adequate time to review the government’s latest revelation that six people died as a result of overdosing on drugs they purchased on Silk Road.

Pointing up   FYI – Acetaminophen Deaths: Data compiled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has linked as many as 980 deaths in a year to drugs containing acetaminophen. In addition, FDA reports of death associated with acetaminophen have been increasing faster than those for aspirin, ibuprofen and many other common over-the-counter pain medicines. Data obtained from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 300 people die annually as a result of acetaminophen poisoning.

Something to think about:

“For all of life’s discontents, according to the pharmaceutical industry, there is a drug and you should take it. Then for the side effects of that drug, then there’s another drug, and so on. So we’re all taking more drugs, and more expensive drugs.”

–      Marcia Angell

Today’s Free Downloads:

LinuxLive USB Creator – LiLi USB Creator is a handy, easy to use application designed to enable you to create a bootable Live USB key with a Linux on it.

This software also offers an exclusive option of automatic virtualization to directly run Linux in Windows without any configuration nor installation.

Features:

Free and Open-source

LiLi is a completely free and open-source software for Windows only. It has been built with simplicity in mind and it can be used by anybody. All you have to do is to pick up a Linux in the list and give it a try.

No reboot needed

Are you sick of having to reboot your PC to try Linux ? No need with LiLi. It has a built-in virtualization feature that lets you run your Linux in Windows just out of the box !

Supports many Linux distributions

Wow ! Did you see that never-ending list ? They are almost all there : Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux …

Persistence

Having a Live USB is better than just using a Live CD because you can even save your datas and install softwares. This feature is called persistence (available only on selected Linux).

SmartClean & SmartDownload

SmartClean uninstalls properly any previous Live USB installs and SmartDownload lets you download any supported Linux in 2 clicks automatically selecting the best mirror to download it.SmartClean also lets you clean your USB key in one click.

And a lot more!

Intelligent processing : LiLi works with many Linux, even if they are not officially supported

Hidden install : LiLi hides the Linux install, your key stays clean

File integrity : tells you if your ISO is corrupted

Keeps your data on your USB device (format only if needed)

Intelligent format : can format disks bigger than 32 GB

Auto-Update : automatic updates when new Linux distributions are available

Also works with .IMG files (experimental)

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater – Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater is a a software updater for Adobe’s Flash Player. Flash is one of the key technologies of Web 2.0 – you can find it nearly everywhere. Commonly used technologies are always a main target for malware authors – Flash Player is not different. Adobe frequently releases security updates to fix the latest security vulnerabilities.

However, Flash Player’s out-of-box updater uses long time intervals between update checks. Most endusers do not bother to configure the internal updater – they run outdated Flash Player versions. That is an extremely underestimated security risk!

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater was developed to offer an easy to use application for inexperienced endusers who do not want to bother with updates. It can install updates with no user interaction required and thus keep your system secure without bothering you.

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater offers many features for single- and corporate users like automatical update checks with a custom time interval. Also, it allows corporate users to use a remote configuration and thereby avoid configuring every single client.

Features:

Even works if no Flash Player is installed on the system (offers download)

Works on Windows x86 and x64 (32-bit, 64-bit)

German, English and Spanish (automatically detects the system language)

Can work completely hidden (except notifications when updates are available)

Users can choose to let it start with Windows

Works behind a proxy server and with different administrator credentials (these are encrypted in the configuration file)

an use a global configuration file for network environments

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Former CIA head’s no-jail sentence for leaking called “gross hypocrisy” – Yesterday, former CIA Director David Petraeus was handed two years of probation and a $100,000 fine after agreeing to a plea deal that ends in no jail time for leaking classified information to Paula Broadwell, his biographer and lover.

“I now look forward to moving on with the next phase of my life and continuing to serve our great nation as a private citizen,” Petraeus said outside the federal courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday.

Lower-level government leakers have not, however, been as likely to walk out of a courthouse applauding the US as Petraeus did. Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, called the Petraeus plea deal a “gross hypocrisy.”

“At the same time as Petraeus got off virtually scot-free, the Justice Department has been bringing the hammer down upon other leakers who talk to journalists—sometimes for disclosing information much less sensitive than Petraeus did,” he said.

The Petraeus sentencing came days after the Justice Department demanded (PDF) up to a 24-year-term for Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent who leaked information to a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer about a botched mission to sell nuclear plans to Iran in order to hinder its nuclear-weapons progress.

NSA spied on EU politicians and companies with help from German intelligence – Germany’s intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has been helping the NSA spy on European politicians and companies for years, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel. The NSA has been sending lists of “selectors”—identifying telephone numbers, e-mail and IP addresses—to the BND, which then provides related information that it holds in its surveillance databases. According to the German newspaper Die Zeit, the NSA sent selector lists several times a day, and altogether 800,000 selectors have been requested.

The BND realized as early as 2008 that some of the selectors were not permitted according to its internal rules, or covered by a 2002 US-Germany anti-terrorism “Memorandum of Agreement” on intelligence cooperation. And yet it did nothing to check the NSA’s requests systematically. It was only in the summer of 2013, after Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive NSA and GCHQ surveillance, that the BND finally started an inquiry into all the selectors that had been processed.

According to Der Spiegel, investigators found that the BND had provided information on around 2,000 selectors that were clearly against European and German interests. Not only were European businesses such as the giant aerospace and defense company EADS, best-known as the manufacturer of the Airbus planes, targeted, so were European politicians—including German ones.

The NSA made a coloring book for kids – Last week we met Dunk, the NSA’s captivatingly weird Earth Day mascot, and now it looks like he’s not the only anthropomorphic creature in the NSA family. Dan Raile at Pando Daily went to the RSA security conference last week, and returned with a prize: an NSA-themed coloring book.

The book, America’s CryptoKids: Future Codemakers and Cokebreakers, tells the story of a team of talking animals, who, when they’re not spying on you, spend their time shredding on the guitar and playing friendly games of lacrosse. While also spying on you, of course.

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Austraalia: ACCC warns site-blocking Bill may be used to ‘intimidate’ VPN users – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has warned against rights holders ‘inappropriately’ threatening to block services that grant Australians access to geoblocked services like Hulu and HBO Now.

CIA couldn’t fully use NSA spy program as most analysts didn’t know about it – A newly-released document from the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) own internal watchdog found that the government’s controversial warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program was so secretive that the agency was unable to make “full use” of its capabilities even several years after the September 11 attacks. Initially, only top-level CIA officials were cleared on its use, rather than rank-and-file “CIA analysts and targeting officers.”

The document, a June 2009 report from the CIA Inspector General (IG) was released as part of a trove of 747 pages entitled the “Report on the President’s Surveillance Program” and was published on Friday by The New York Times as the result of victory in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the Department of Justice.

The CIA IG report, like the others, is redacted in many places, but provides some new material as to the specific history, play-by-play and internal evaluations of the program. In 2009, the government had previously published a far shorter unclassified version.

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8 Comments

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

8 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 27, 2015

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re:ACCC warns site-blocking Bill may be used to ‘intimidate’ VPN users

    This new bill has opened a new can of worms. Of course big companies are going to push the envelope, and try and misuse its intent. They just can’t help themselves, because the poor petals are doing it so hard, aren’t they?

    People are entitled to buy, legitamately, what they want, where they want, without the interfence and threats of these parasites, who only give a shit about their bottom line. They make me sick.

    Cheers

    • Hey Mal,

      Interestingly, you noted several months ago, that you saw this coming. Well, here it is – the thin edge of the wedge.

      You’re right to point out our entitlements (most protected by legislation) – but, “it don’t make no difference, man.” These shysters (governments included), couldn’t give a fiddler’s fuck.

      If we believe that “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil” – then, it’s not hard to see that we are immersed in “evil.” Muchos evil!

      Have a super weekend, mate. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

  2. The flash update freeware you review in your article above uses OpenCandy which is a PUP installer. While I’m all for freeware folks getting some extra cash, that installer is invasive and scans your machine, sending all that information home to its maker. There is no way to see or know exactly what all it sends. I would love to see at a least a warning of such used when reviews are given to inform people that their privacy is likely being exploited by this installer

    • Hi jthomas73,

      Couldn’t agree more with your observations on OpenCandy – it’s a scourge. Which is why, the majority of suggested (I do not review these applications) downloads here, are through Major Geeks – based on their upfront disclosure policies.

      I’m surprised to hear from you that Major Geeks is not adhering to their long established policy of notice to users of PUPs. I’ll be in touch with Major Geeks to clarify.

      Thank you for the heads-up.

      Best,

      Bill

      • Mal

        Open Candy sucks – no question about that. I just updated some software on my computer, and Virustotal flagged Open Candy with 8 different engines. I might stress that I didn’t download the software from Major Geeks. Funnily, my onboard AV did not.

        Anyway, I installed the software and just blocked it from connecting to the internet. So any phoning home was stopped in its tracks. But some people probably have their firewalls managing their connections for them, so they probably don’t know something is phoning home.

        Cheers

        • Hey Mal,

          This past week has been “hardware week from hell” around here. Main machine on the fritz – intermittent modem issue (solved) – router then hits the deck (this morning). I’m looking over the shoulder for the next thing! 🙂

          Anyway, all of that meant running with a Win 10 machine and sure enough, on the first AV scan with Malwarebytes – bam – Open Candy. I haven’t installed anything on that machine in more than a year – other than Win 10’s constant updates. Windows Defender btw, just skipped over it quite happily. Gotta love that MBAM.

          Your solution definitely works – but, the average joe wouldn’t know where to begin. And that, is a major problem.

          Best,

          Bill