Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 1, 2015

Irate Congressman gives cops easy rule: “just follow the damn Constitution”;  Speak up: Android gets more hands-free with additional voice commands;  Facebook change will give you control over data sharing with apps;  Microsoft will try to guess your age using machine learning and a picture;  The Best Security Suites for 2015;   These are your free Games with Gold for May;  Tesla Energy is Elon Musk’s battery system that can power homes, businesses, and the world;  How to silence noisy Chrome tabs with one click;  Steam to get its first adults-only rated game;  Apple Watch Sport costs $85 to manufacture;  6 Reasons to Try Microsoft’s Edge Browser;  How to Bet on the 2015 Kentucky Derby Online;  Test labs out AV vendor for using rival’s engine.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Best Security Suites for 2015 – When you sit down at your computer, security is probably the last thing on your mind. You want to check your email, catch up with friends on social networks, play some games, or maybe buy some goodies online. The problem here is that you actually need security. You have three main choices. You can cross your fingers and hope for the best (good luck with that). You can spend hours scouring the Web for information, researching a collection of separate security utilities that will keep you safe. Or you can check PCMag’s reviews of all-in-one security suites and select one that has the features you need, integrated into a single application. Guess which course I recommend? I’ve rounded up a collection of top-notch suites, varied enough that one should be just right for you.

Facebook change will give you control over data sharing with apps – Users are getting greater choice over what information is shared with websites and apps when they log in using their Facebook ID. A new version of Facebook Login, which begins its wide roll out this week, will present users with a prompt to “Edit the info you provide.” Clicking that will let users grant or deny access to different types of information. The login now also highlights who will see content posted by the app in Facebook, for apps that request the ability to do so.

Speak up: Android gets more hands-free with additional voice commands – Google has continued to evolve its voice commands beyond simple search for some time. The hands-free “OK Google” command has moved from a simple query function to one that can control phone settings, create calendar reminders and launch apps. You can say, for example, “OK Google, open Maps” without touching your phone or tablet, if it supports and is configured for the always listening feature. It’s not just Google’s own apps such as Maps, Search and Chrome that can be opened by voice though; with the most recent version of Android and supported apps, third-party software can be accessed as well.

How to turn on data compression in Chrome on your phone or tablet – Chrome for Android can save you precious mobile data if you turn on its data compression feature. It routes your web browsing through Google’s proxy servers, which will feed you smaller, more compressed images and other bits of data than the traditional route. Google says going through its own pipes is faster, which is always nice if you hit a less-than-stellar Internet connection. Here’s how to turn it on: touch the Menu Button (the three vertical dots) and then touch Settings. Scroll down and select Data Saver and toggle the option to On.

6 Reasons to Try Microsoft’s Edge Browser – Windows 10 Bug ArtInternet Explorer’s more modern and fast successor, previously code-named Project Spartan, is now Edge, and one of its most notable new features is extensions. Edge also maintains Spartan innovations like page markup, reading view, and Cortana integration. It’s also a Universal Windows app, meaning one application runs on PCs, phones, tablets, and whatever other Windows-running devices emerge.

Exploring Windows 10 Build 10074, in pictures – It wouldn’t be a Microsoft Build conference without a, well, new build of Windows 10. Meet Build 10074 of Windows 10, which continues making over the look and feel of Microsoft’s latest operating system. Two new additions stand out in the latest build: the new Start menu, which may include new Windows 7-style Aero Glass effects, and a more full-featured, intelligent Cortana digital assistant. We’ll walk you through all the notable changes in the following slides.

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Windows 10 pricing after first year remains up in the air – Microsoft has bold ambitions for Windows 10: To power 1 billion devices by 2018. To achieve that goal, the company for the first time will let most users update to the new version at no charge for one year after Windows 10’s release, slated for later this summer. After that, however, Microsoft doesn’t know what it will charge customers to upgrade — or how it will deliver upgrades in the future. Joe Belfiore, vice president of operating systems, said Thursday the company’s primary concern is getting the operating system onto a critical mass of devices as quickly as possible. How will people get their hands on Windows 10 after the first year? “I don’t know, ” Belfiore said at a press event during Microsoft’s annual Build developer conference in San Francisco.

Microsoft will try to guess your age using machine learning and a picture – Microsoft has created a new website that takes an old carnival game and attempts to use machine learning to guess your age; you can try it out right now. If you head on over to how-old.net you can upload a picture of your face and the algorithms will attempt to guess your age. When Microsoft built the site, they were only expecting 50 people to use the tool but the webpage ended up attracting over 35,000 users when it was first launched.

How to Bet on the 2015 Kentucky Derby Online – Every spring, a group of very expensive horses with very ridiculous names heads to Louisville, Kentucky to try to earn a lot of money for their already wealthy owners and top stud privileges for themselves. This year marks the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, the main jewel in U.S. thoroughbred horse racing’s annual “Triple Crown.” While some may be content to partake in the julep-soaked, floppy hat-adorned festivities for the fun of it, the real excitement comes from the possibility of winning some cash money.

Google Apps Marketplace apps: Three things every admin should know – When you add a Google Apps Marketplace app to your Google Apps account, you save people time and increase security. People don’t have to remember an additional login–and app access and data are more likely to remain under organizational control. That convenience requires a bit of periodic work by a Google Apps administrator. Here’s how to review your Marketplace apps data access settings, check which apps are used, and discover new Marketplace apps to add.

How to Find a Comic Shop on Free Comic Book Day – Whether you’re a comic book diehard looking to explore a new series, an old school fan looking to get back in the game, or a newbie who wants to get your feet wet with a few print titles after seeing Marvel’s acclaimed Daredevil Netflix series, there’s no better time than Free Comic Book Day. There’s one problem, though: You have to find a comic book shop. The stores aren’t nearly as commonplace as they were in the 1990s, but technology makes locating comic book shops easy. The following tech tools—available on desktops, smartphones, and tablets—will help you locate a store.

Tablet Shipments Continue to Slip – The first quarter of 2015 wasn’t exactly a huge success for the tablet market, according to new figures from IDC. Worldwide tablet shipments suffered a year-over-year decline for a second consecutive quarter from January through March, the research firm said Thursday. Tablet and 2-in-1 device shipments fell to 47.1 million, a 5.9 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago. That comes after the tablet market notably faced its first year-over-year decline in shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014.

How to silence noisy Chrome tabs with one click – For 2015, Google is playing around with the ability to mute noisy tabs with one click. Instead of switching to the tab and scrolling around the page to find the offending video or audio, a new hidden feature lets you silence the noise by clicking on a tab’s speaker icon. Here’s how it works.

Security:

Behold: the drop-dead simple exploit that nukes Google’s Password Alert – Less than 24 hours after Google unveiled a Chrome extension that warns when user account passwords get phished, a security researcher has devised a drop-dead simple exploit that bypasses it.

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Test labs out AV vendor for using rival’s engine – Chinese anti-virus vendor Qihoo 360 has been caught cheating on benchmarking tests by submitting versions running A-V engines from rival Bitdefender. The company has been reprimanded by established testing outfits VirusTotal, Av-Comparatives, and AV-Test which withdrew its 2015 certifications. In a joint statement [PDF] the AV testing outfits say Qihoo “cheated” by turning off its engine and flicking on BitDefender’s, a setting state that is the opposite of what customers receive by default. “According to all test data this would provide a considerably lower level of protection and a higher likelihood of false positives,” the statement says.

Company News:

Europe stays on the offensive with new probe into US tech giants – Google, Amazon, Skype, WhatsApp, and Netflix are all on notice. If the probe is given the go-ahead, it would become the latest example of the EU’s combative attitude towards US tech giants. In recent months, criticism of US companies has intensified both within the EU and from European politicians. In February, Barack Obama responded by accusing the EU of protectionism, arguing that it was attacking US tech companies because it simply “can’t compete.” The EU, meanwhile, argues that the single digital market is about protecting consumers and boosting the digital industries in Europe.

Apple may pay ‘material’ amount of tax back to Ireland – Apple has given investors the heads up that it may be forced to pay a “material” amount of tax back to Ireland if the European Commission finds the company guilty of striking up special tax deals with the Irish government. The tech giant said in its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it may be required to pay up to 10 years’ worth of tax if the European Commission rules against Ireland.

Apple and IBM will give 4 to 5 million iPads to Japanese seniors – IBM and Apple said today that they would be working with Japan Post, the country’s postal service, to deliver four to five million iPads outfitted with IBM software to seniors in Japan by 2020. The initiative will be a part of an existing Japan Post service called Watch Over in which post deliverers check in on senior citizens and report their status to family members for a monthly fee equivalent to about $8.40, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple and IBM will run a pilot program in the second half of this year.

LinkedIn Q1: Revenue beats street but weak outlook sends stocks plunging – The social network for professionals reported a net loss of $43 million, or 34 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 57 cents per share on a revenue of $638 million, up 35 percent year-over-year. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 56 cents per share on revenue of $636 million. As for the outlook for the current quarter, LinkedIn offered revenue guidance far below estimates, in the range of $670 million and $675 million, with projected earnings of 28 cents per share. Analysts had expected earnings per share of 74 cents on revenue of $717.5 million. As a result, LinkedIn’s shares tumbled 25 percent in after market trading.

Grooveshark shuts down after settlement with record companies – The settlement between owners Escape Media and the record companies was made ahead of a jury trial for award of damages.

Games and Entertainment:

These are your free Games with Gold for May – Xbox Live Gold subscribers can get some cool games for free this coming May, thanks to Microsoft’s promotional giveaways. First up, Xbox One users will get be able to download Castle Storm, the definitive edition. This is a fun little game that combines a few genres into one 2D package, and after reviewing it last year, we gave it a strong score. Those of you trying it out might find yourselves reminded of classic platformers, Angry Birds, RPGs and tower defense games. It has a $15.00 ERP but Gold subscribers will be able to get it free starting on the 1st of May. Meanwhile Pool Nation FX will continue to remain free for another month.

Review of Zen Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron pinball – The first thing you’ll notice is that Zen Studios is releasing Age of Ultron as a standalone table for $2.99, whereas the original Avengers table is only available within a 4-pack of tables and costs $10. I’ve always believed that it’s better to release tables individually in order to give customers a choice, so this was nice to see.

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Powerful DirectX 12 game demo points to a way out of Uncanny Valley – The inability to emulate human emotions in CG characters is one aspect that makes them so creepy, but a demo showed off at Build 2015 may point to a way out of the uncanny valley.

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This is a screen grab from Square Enix’s Witch Chapter 0 demo, which simulates crying.

Streaming Xbox One games to a Windows 10 PC is awesome – Ever since Microsoft announced its plans to bring Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 back in January, I’ve been dying to try it. While the Xbox One dashboard has been updated to support the new feature, the Xbox one app for Windows 10 isn’t quite ready yet. At its Build developers conference in San Francisco this week, Microsoft is demonstrating Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 PCs to the public for the first time. I got a chance to try it, and it’s as awesome as I had hoped.

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Steam game devs can now ban you from their game ‘because nobody likes playing with cheaters’ – In a surprise move today, Valve has announced that game developers can now ban Steam gamers if they find players misbehaving or cheating within their games. The initiative, called “Game Ban,” will allow game developers to identify cheaters within their games and then ban them permanently if they wish to do so.

Steam to get its first adults-only rated game – Controversial shooter Hatred will be released for PC via Steam this June, which developer Destructive Creations claims makes it the first game with the Adults Only rating to appear on the digital distribution service. Speaking to Eurogamer, the developer said that the game’s release date of June 1 was chosen so that it would “not interfere with the launch of the biggest game coming out from its native Poland at that time.” Hatred was rated Adults Only in North America by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, meaning that it won’t be coming to consoles without the developer making some changes. All three major console manufacturers–Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo–have a policy that forbids the publishing of Adults Only-rated games on their platforms.

New update for Xbox 360 adds support for larger external hard drives – The Xbox 360 hasn’t been the main focus of gaming news since the Xbox One was released back in 2013. Outside of the monthly Games with Gold promotion, you’ll be hard-pressed to catch many headlines regarding the decade-old console. However, the Xbox 360 has just picked up an update that owners started receiving this morning. Xbox 360 users that opted in to the new preview program have had the chance to experience much of what this update has to offer, which includes:

Off Topic (Sort of):

Tesla Energy is Elon Musk’s battery system that can power homes, businesses, and the world – Tesla has finally taken the wraps off Tesla Energy, its ambitious battery system that can work for homes, businesses, and even utilities. The system breaks down into two separate products: the Powerwall is a home battery system, that comes in a 10 kWh version for $3,500, or a 7 kWh model for $3,000. The unit is about three feet by four feet in size and six inches thick, and comes with integrated heat management and  can fit either on the inside or outside of the wall of your home. The system is connected to the internet — Elon Musk said that the system can be used to create “smart microgrids” — and can be used as a redundancy system, or potentially allow a home to go off the power grid entirely. “The whole thing is a system that just works,” Musk told reporters during a briefing this evening.

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Elon Musk just gave the best tech keynote I’ve ever seen – Here’s what I loved about Musk’s presentation. First of all, it was short, clocking in at about 20 minutes. Musk didn’t waste anybody’s time. He used that time to present a problem of critical importance (eliminating humanity’s use of fossil fuels), explained how it can be addressed, and offered a plausible solution in the form of a new product — one that’s priced within reach of a lot of people and available to order. Amazingly, all of those things are actually pretty rare to see in one show. Tesla’s presentation was inspiring, and Musk wasn’t selling some fancy sci-fi trinket that has the benefit of Star Trek nostalgia. Dude was selling a battery. But aside from all the technical details I enjoyed, what I liked most was Musk’s humble tenor.

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Older folks react to Mortal Kombat X fatalities – Reaction videos are all the rage anymore: we’ve seen videos of kids reacting to old cameras and gaming systems, older folks reacting to Google Glass, and a bunch between. The newest reaction video again goes with the older folks among us, and eschews hardware for a dose of video game fun. Mortal Kombat X, that is. These perhaps unsuspecting gents and ladies are shown the latest installment’s various fatalities, and we all get to enjoy their reactions.

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Apple Watch Sport costs $85 to manufacture, say analysts – You might be interested in buying an Apple Watch (unless you already have). Once you strap that thing on your wrist, you’ll undoubtedly — at some point — wonder how much it costs to make. You spent upwards of $350, but what did Apple spend on parts and such? Curiosity gets the best of us from time to time, and analysts are no different. IHS Technology recently tore the Apple Watch apart, and attempted to find how much it costs to manufacture. Their ‘guess’? $83.70.

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This is how absurd you look taking a call on your Apple Watch – Technically Incorrect: An encounter with a friend is interrupted by his Apple Watch going off. Oh, the silliness.

11 Amazing Images From the Final Days of NASA’s Messenger Probe – Ever since entering Mercury’s orbit on March 18, 2011, Messenger has given project scientists (and by extension, humanity) an unprecedented up-close view of the tiny, rocky planet. But that will all come to an end today when—at precisely 3:26 p.m. ET—Mercury’s surface will receive one more crater when Messenger crashes into the planet’s surface due to a dwindling supply of propellant and the effects of solar gravity. Unfortunately—from a voyeuristic vantage point—the Earth will not get a clear shot of the impact. But space p0rn aficionados, do not despair! Over the past month, the probe has dutifully added to its library of more than 270,000 images with some beautiful close-ups of the planet’s surface. Here we present some of the most inspiring, beautiful, mysterious, and illuminating images from Messenger’s final days.

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Site-blocking legislation targeted at ‘arrogant’ Australian infringers – Rights holders and their advocates have argued that while the site-blocking legislation won’t stop piracy, it will send a message to Australians illicitly downloading with ‘arrogant impunity’.

Something to think about:

“Some days are just bad days, that’s all. You have to experience sadness to know happiness, and I remind myself that not every day is going to be a good day, that’s just the way it is!”

–       Dita Von Teese

Today’s Free Downloads:

AdwCleaner – AdwCleaner is a program that searches for and deletes Adware, Toolbars, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), and browser Hijackers from your computer.

By using AdwCleaner you can easily remove many of these types of programs that intefere with your computers normal operations and get a better user experience particularly while browsing the web.

AdwCleaner specializes in removing:

– Adware: Programs which have been installed that are running unwanted advertisements on your system.

– PUP’s or Potentially Unwanted Program

– Toolbars

– Hijacker Home page, browser and advertisment hijackers.

For help using AdwCleaner check out our Malware removal guides or ask for help in our Majorgeeks Support Forums.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA is so overwhelmed with data, it’s no longer effective, says whistleblower – A former National Security Agency official turned whistleblower has spent almost a decade and a half in civilian life. And he says he’s still “pissed” by what he’s seen leak in the past two years.

In a lunch meeting hosted by Contrast Security founder Jeff Williams on Wednesday, William Binney, a former NSA official who spent more than three decades at the agency, said the US government’s mass surveillance programs have become so engorged with data that they are no longer effective, losing vital intelligence in the fray.

That, he said, can — and has — led to terrorist attacks succeeding.

Binney said that an analyst today can run one simple query across the NSA’s various databases, only to become immediately overloaded with information. With about four billion people — around two-thirds of the world’s population — under the NSA and partner agencies’ watchful eyes, according to his estimates, there is too much data being collected.

“That’s why they couldn’t stop the Boston bombing, or the Paris shootings, because the data was all there,” said Binney. Because the agency isn’t carefully and methodically setting its tools up for smart data collection, that leaves analysts to search for a needle in a haystack.

Irate Congressman gives cops easy rule: “just follow the damn Constitution” – Despite the best efforts of law enforcement to convince a Congressional subcommittee that technology firms actually need to weaken encryption in order to serve the public interest, lawmakers were not having it.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who described himself as a “recovering computer science major,” provided one of the most forceful counter-arguments. (He is just one of four House members with computer science degrees.) Lieu also is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves and served for four years as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

“It is clear to me that creating a pathway for decryption only for good guys is technologically stupid, you just can’t do that,” he said, underscoring that he found Conley’s remarks “offensive.”

He argued:

It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. People like me: privacy advocates. A public does not want a an out of surveillance state. It is the public that is asking for this. Apple and Google didn’t do this because they thought they would make less money. This is a private sector response to government overreach.

Then you make another statement that somehow these companies are not credible because they collect private data. Here’s the difference: Apple and Google don’t have coercive power. District attorneys do, the FBI does, the NSA does, and to me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution.

And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this. Because the NSA, your colleagues, have essentially violated the Fourth Amendment rights of every American citizen for years by seizing all of our phone records, by collecting our Internet traffic, that is now spilling over to other aspects of law enforcement. And if you want to get this fixed, I suggest you write to NSA: the FBI should tell the NSA, stop violating our rights. And then maybe you might have much more of the public on the side of supporting what law enforcement is asking for.

Then let me just conclude by saying I do agree with law enforcement that we live in a dangerous world. And that’s why our founders put in the Constitution of the United States—that’s why they put in the Fourth Amendment. Because they understand that an Orwellian overreaching federal government is one of the most dangerous things that this world can have. I yield back.

Airbus to sue NSA, German spies accused of swiping tech secrets – European aerospace giant Airbus is promising legal action over claims its top blueprints were stolen by German spies and given to America’s intelligence agencies.

“We are aware that as a large company in the sector, we are a target and subject of espionage,” the company said in a statement to the AFP newswire.

“However, in this case we are alarmed because there is concrete suspicion of industrial espionage. We will now file a criminal complaint against persons unknown on suspicion of industrial espionage.”

The threat comes after days of speculation in the German press over reports that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) – the German foreign intelligence agency – has been spying on German and European companies for the Americans since at least 2008.

Report says top US psychologists collaborated with torture program architects – Members of the American Psychological Association, the largest association of psychologists in the United States, “secretly coordinated” with the George W. Bush administration on the CIA’s torture program, according to a new report and emails released today. The report, written by a group of health workers and human rights activists, suggests the APA worked with top government officials to establish ethical guidelines that would allow the program to continue while shielding its architects from legal fallout.

The group behind the report analyzed emails from a now dead behavioral science researcher working with the RAND Corporation and involved in national security organizations. According to the report, the emails show how the association collaborated “with officials from the CIA, White House, and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations that comported with then­ classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program.” Despite the close contact, according to the report, “there is no evidence that any APA official expressed concern over mounting reports of psychologist involvement in detainee abuse during four years of direct email communications with senior members of the US intelligence community.”

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6 Comments

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

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 1, 2015

  1. I like how Microsoft has included Cortana in Windows 10, and also how they combined the old start menu with the new interface.-Thanks for such great tech thoughts 🙂

    • Hi Axal,

      I’m with you on this. Win 10 is fabulous. I split my time between Win 7 and Win 10 on a daily basis, and Win 10 is winning. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

  2. Keith

    Speaking of renewable energy, Apple Corp is really doing a great job. Their US operations are 100% powered by RE and 87% Worldwide. Apple’s goal is 100% total, and they are building a 40 Megawatt solar project in China as a great example to other Chinese businesses. Hopefully this is a growing trend that will make our planet much healthier.

    https://www.apple.com/environment/climate-change/
    https://www.apple.com/environment/renewable-resources/

    • Hi Keith,

      Well said – “Hopefully this is a growing trend that will make our planet much healthier.” I couldn’t agree more.

      Good to hear from you Keith – and thank you for the links.

      Best,

      Bill