You Own the Car, But Do You Own Its Software? Survey Confirms Your Digital Security Habits are Bad and You Should Feel Bad; Why use words? Emojis dominate Instagram; Witness’s Live-Streaming App Is A Panic Button For The Smartphone Age; Windows 10 can run reworked Android and iOS apps; The best keyboard for the iphone; The best keyboard for android; Meerkat adds Facebook support; 10 YouTube improvers; Pager Turns Your Facebook Pages Into Full-Fledged Websites; Use these 11 apps to help you explore the outdoors; Web.com vs. GoDaddy: The Choice Is Yours; Wikileaks is once again accepting leaks online; Vulnerability Summary for the Week of April 27, 2015; Microsoft kills Media Center for Windows 10; Facebook massages privacy with anonymous login and more; Is Microsoft’s How Old website storing your photos? Tesla begins selling used cars at discount prices; House Science Committee guts NASA Earth sciences budget; Software bug could cause Boeing 787s to lose control in mid air; Woz: We’ve made machines too important.
Note: As of today, Tech Thoughts Daily Net News will fall back to a three times a week schedule – that is, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
You Own the Car, But Do You Own Its Software? – It’s likely that your next new vehicle will have more lines of code than the Space Shuttle. But even though you buy a car, you probably don’t own all of its software. And in an extreme example, John Deere is claiming that since it owns the software inside, it also owns the tractor. Tractor owners only receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle” since the company retains ownership of the software, the company wrote in a letter to the U.S. Copyright Office. I don’t own a John Deere tractor, but the company’s claim over vehicle ownership via software is likely out in left field and probably won’t fly. But as cars become more software dependent, let’s hope that it stays that way.
Entire broadband industry seeks immediate halt to Title II classification – Four major trade associations representing broadband providers today asked for an immediate halt to the Federal Communications Commission decision to reclassify the providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. One petition for a stay came from two cable groups, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the American Cable Association (ACA). Another petition came from the CTIA Wireless Association on behalf of mobile carriers and USTelecom on behalf of telcos including AT&T and Verizon. AT&T and CenturyLink also signed on to the CTIA/USTelecom petition.
Tom Wheeler accuses Republicans in Congress of trying to cripple FCC – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler told Republicans in Congress yesterday that their proposals to “improve” the FCC’s decision-making process would instead make it nearly impossible to get anything done. Republicans have proposed wiping out the new net neutrality rules and an FCC decision to boost municipal broadband, but yesterday’s hearing focused on changes to prevent future decisions that Republicans don’t like.
Survey Confirms Your Digital Security Habits are Bad and You Should Feel Bad – WinMagic’s survey asked four questions to determine how people handle their privacy. Two of these questions deal with the specific information we put at risk and the devices this information goes through. When asked “Which of the following types of personal information, if any, would be at risk if your personal laptop/desktop computer or mobile device were stolen/lost?” here’s what computer and mobile device owners had to say.
Witness’s Live-Streaming App Is A Panic Button For The Smartphone Age – What if live streaming, like those streams that run today on apps like Periscope or Meerkat, could be used to save lives? Meanwhile, instead of having the stream sent out to the public via social networks like Twitter, only designated contacts you’ve previously configured in the app’s settings are alerted to the incident via phone calls and text messages.
Why use words? Emojis dominate Instagram – If you were to comment on Instagram with actual words and phrases, you’d look out-of-place in a sea of emojis and hashtags. It makes sense that on a platform ruled by images, emoji would be the language of choice. If a picture is worth a thousand words, do emoji carry the same weight in prose? Some would consider the pictorial designs worth a few phrases at best, but a team of Instagram researchers took a look at the way users are writing on Instagram comments and found that the online language is evolving towards emoji.
Huge news: Windows 10 can run reworked Android and iOS apps – iOS and Android developers will be able to port their apps and games directly to Windows universal apps, and Microsoft is enabling this with two new software development kits. On the Android side, Microsoft is enabling developers to use Java and C++ code on Windows 10, and for iOS developers they’ll be able to take advantage of their existing Objective C code. “We want to enable developers to leverage their current code and current skills to start building those Windows applications in the Store, and to be able to extend those applications,” explained Microsoft’s Terry Myerson during an interview with The Verge this morning.
Microsoft kills Media Center for Windows 10 – If you’re a Windows user and Windows Media Center is your media player of choice, there’s bad news coming with the future release of the Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft has confirmed that the software will not be included with, and is in fact incompatible with, Windows 10. While Media Center has been a part of the operating system up until the latest version of 8.1, active development on the software actually ended back in 2009. Speaking to ZDNet during the Build developer conference last week, Microsoft stated that any PCs updating from Windows 7 or 8.1 will lose all Media Center functionality.
The best keyboard for android – What we’re looking for is the best keyboard for everyday use, the one that makes it easier to type on these gigantic slabs of glass. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best keyboard for Android comes from Android’s own backyard.
The best keyboard for the iphone – If you’re looking for the best typing experience on the iPhone, whether that’s with one hand or two, you want SwiftKey. It’s fast and responsive for traditional tap-typing with your thumbs, has a super useful tracing feature for one-thumb use, and has the best word prediction you can get. The word prediction is so good that oftentimes I don’t even need to type any words — SwiftKey already knows what I’m planning to say.
10 YouTube improvers – Now boasting over a billion users worldwide, YouTube has become a place to learn how to do things, break new recording artists, and document social unrest. Whether you want to upload your own video or take greater control over your viewing experience, the following 10 apps and browser add-ons will help you make the most of YouTube.
Web.com vs. GoDaddy: The Choice Is Yours – It doesn’t matter if you have a personal blog or want to start an online store: A vibrant, user-friendly website is necessary for getting found online. With so many platforms promising to turn your website into an Internet sensation, it’s hard to know which one to trust. Some website builders are ideal for do-it-yourself personal sites, while others are better for creating a storefront. If you’re like many website creators, you’ve narrowed it down to the popular choices of Web.com and GoDaddy.com. Here are a few pointers for selecting between these website providers:
Meerkat adds Facebook support as it moves away from Twitter – Meerkat is distancing itself from Twitter. The live-streaming service now works with Facebook, thanks to an update to the iOS app released this weekend. That means that you can now publish Meerkat alerts directly to Facebook, and, more importantly, new users can sign in to Meerkat without a Twitter account — you can now use your Facebook login. The update also introduces address book scanning and matching, so you can instantly build a network of friends on the service just by letting the app take a look at your contacts.
Note: Click on the banner to jump.
After four years of downtime, Wikileaks is once again accepting leaks online – The new submission page has a number of fields where visitors can describe the nature of the leaked material, which groups had access to it, and whether the sources are under any threat from the publication. It also gives leakers a chance to control when the material is leaked, either requesting an immediate publication or mark materials as only to be published after a certain date or a certain event has occurred. “If you have any issues talk to WikiLeaks,” the organization’s Tips for Sources page advises. “We are the global experts in source protection.”
Itching to play MS-DOS games on Twitter? Think again – Ah MS-DOS games on Twitter, we have known you only so briefly. After a bit of excitement over the revelation that you can not only retweet but also play old-school MS-DOS games right from inside a Tweet, it seems that the fun and games are over. At the expense of getting branded as a kill joy, Twitter pulled the plug on the Internet Archives’ latest experiment. That said, it is quite understandable considering it violated Twitter’s rules, but it’s still a downer that one of the easiest ways for a classic game to go viral is now off limits.
Pager Turns Your Facebook Pages Into Full-Fledged Websites – The set-up process is very simple once you have an instance of Pager running. When you start the app, you first log in using your Facebook account. Then you’re presented with a list of your Facebook pages. You pick a page, save and your site is automagically live. Everything is sorted into four categories — About, News, Events and Galleries. The About page is supposed to present all your business’s contact info and opening hours, the news page displays your wall posts, and events and galleries are pretty self-explanatory.
This health-tracking device sniffs your farts – With the CH4 wearable, now on Kickstarter, the quantified-self movement may have just jumped the shark. Or perhaps flatulence truly is a data gold mine.
Samsung releases new app to help people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease – Samsung Electronics Tunisia (SETN), along with the help of the Tunisian Alzheimer’s Association and 3SG BBDO, has launched a new mobile app called “Backup Memory.” The app functions as a memory stimulator for those people who are showing early signs of the said disease. It helps patients become aware of their surroundings by identifying family members and friends who are nearby, and then reminds the patient about his/her relationship with that person and the memories they have had together.
Use these 11 apps to help you explore the outdoors – Even when you’re hiking or camping, you probably still have your smartphone. These 11 apps can help make your outdoor experience even richer.
How fear and self-preservation are driving a cyber arms race – Silicon Valley is pouring more money into Internet security companies than ever before.
Vulnerability Summary for the Week of April 27, 2015 – The US-CERT Cyber Security Bulletin provides a summary of new vulnerabilities that have been recorded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) National Vulnerability Database (NVD) in the past week. The NVD is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) / United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). For modified or updated entries, please visit the NVD, which contains historical vulnerability information.
Mozilla to Limit New Firefox Features to Secure Sites – Mozilla is leading the charge for Web encryption. The Firefox maker on Thursday announced a plan to favor websites that enable HTTPS. “There’s a pretty broad agreement that HTTPS is the way forward,” Richard Barnes, Firefox Security Lead, wrote in a blog post, citing statements of support from IETF, IAB, W3C, and the U.S. Government. Eventually, Mozilla wants to make new Firefox features available to encrypted websites only. Then, it wants to phase out access to certain existing browser features to non-secure sites.
Facebook massages privacy with anonymous login and more – Facebook may be the natural home of over-sharing, but new Facebook Login options mean users now have more granular control over what third-party apps can know about them. Announced at F8 2014, the amended “Log in with Facebook” option will now serve up an “Edit the info you provide” link, where tweaks to exactly what gets passed over from your profile can be made. However, while the new feature may have been a year in the making, it’s not a complete fix for online privacy.
Google patches Password Alert after flaw exposed – Just seven lines of code were used to dupe the anti-phishing tool. Google fixed the problem, but a new flaw has apparently been revealed.
Is Microsoft’s How Old website storing your photos? Maybe – By now nearly every netizen has heard of How Old Do I Look, Microsoft’s facial recognition website that has gone viral over the last few days. Many users have gotten laughs, or been disappointed, over just how inaccurate the guesses are sometimes. But what isn’t being talked about is what’s actually happening to the photos that users upload. While the website has the message “We don’t keep the photo” placed front and center, the language used in the terms of service have hints of a different meaning.
Microsoft is monitoring malicious Android apps to stop them from being ported to Windows – Microsoft made a lot of noise in the developer community this week with its announcement that you can now port Android and iOS apps to Windows with new tools. While these tools, for ethical developers, will save time and allow them to leverage assets on other platforms, it does also raise security concerns too. It’s no secret that malicious apps have found their way into the Google Play store and Microsoft wants to make sure those apps are not brought over to the Windows ecosystem.
Facebook invites everyone inside its Internet.org walled garden – Facebook is fighting back against accusations that its Internet.org initiative is trampling over the principles of net neutrality by giving any company the chance to offer its services for free on the platform. Critics have previously argued that Facebook would use Internet.org to funnel new users into its preferred services, but now the social network says that any company can sign up, so long as it follows certain technical guidelines to keep data consumption to a minimum.
Comcast said to be developing YouTube-like video service – Comcast, the cable and internet service provider/monopoly, may be looking to expand into a new area: the short-form, web-generated video content that YouTube excels at. A new report from The Information says Comcast has been working on an online video service for over a year and a half now, and is planning a nationwide rollout for sometime in the future. The project was put on hold as the now-cancelled Comcast/Time Warner merger was submitted for government review.
Facebook aims to host full news stories, will let publishers keep ad revenue, says report – Hosting stories on the social network — and not just links to outside sites — would cut page-load times for users, encouraging them to stay on Facebook. The benefit for publishers would be more money from ads, says The Wall Street Journal.
Tesla begins selling used cars at discount prices – While news on Tesla has been dominated by their new Powerwall home battery system this last week, the company made a small change to its primary business of automobiles. If you find yourself in the market for one of Tesla’s flagship electric cars, you will now find the option to purchase a used model when shopping on their website. This marks the first time the company has given customers the chance to buy a pre-owned Tesla, and prices can be several thousands less than brand-new models, despite the used ones being no more than 2 and half years old.
Dave Goldberg, SurveyMonkey CEO, Dies Unexpectedly – Silicon Valley and the wider world of technology are mourning the very sudden death of Dave Goldberg, a long time entrepreneur and investor, CEO of SurveyMonkey, husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, father and friend to many. The news was made public earlier today in a Facebook post from his brother Robert.
Games and Entertainment:
Over-The-Air HDTV Makes Xbox One A Near-Perfect Cord-Cutting Console – Microsoft announced support for over-the-air TV broadcasts, including HD content, early in April. I’ve been using the setup since, after enrolling in the Xbox One Preview program and receiving a Mohu Leaf indoor HDTV antenna and a Hauppauge 955Q USB TV tuner to take it for a test ride. The end result is that, for me at least, Xbox One is closer than ever to achieving its vision of being the one device to rule them all when it comes to home entertainment.
Breaking Bad creator teams with Disney for Jack and the Beanstalk movie – Well, here’s an unexpected collaboration. Vince Gilligan, creator of the hugely successful drama series Breaking Bad, is working with Disney to turn Beanstalk into a feature film. Gilligan is responsible for the initial adaptation treatment of the story, which is based on the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, while the full script will be written by Thomas Schnauz. Gilligan’s duties won’t there, however, as he will be producing the movie alongside Mark Johnson, says The Hollywood Reporter.
Male characters in The Sims 4 are getting pregnant due to a bug – The Sims 4 players are reporting that their male characters are getting pregnant without alien interference, causing some hilarious scenes, such as male characters breastfeeding their babies.
Periscope the big winner for Mayweather-Pacquiao pay-per-view dodgers – HBO and Showtime networks charged $100 a pop to see the history-making fight, but netizens used technology — specifically Twitter’s Periscope tool for live broadcasting — to watch the match for free.
Ellen DeGeneres Producing ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ Series for Netflix – Exciting news, Dr. Seuss lovers. Netflix has ordered a brand-new series based on the beloved classic Green Eggs and Ham. Set to be produced by Ellen DeGeneres, the 13-episode series stars a “standoffish inventor” named Guy and the famous Sam-I-Am, who “embark on a cross-country trip that tests the limits of their friendship,” Netflix said. For her part, DeGeneres promised “cutting-edge animation” that has never been done on television before. The only bad news — it’s not coming out until 2018.
Off Topic (Sort of):
Woz: We’ve made machines too important – Speaking in Massachusetts, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says humans lost to the machines 200 years ago and that putting computers in a classroom doesn’t make kids smarter.
Software bug could cause Boeing 787s to lose control in mid air – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a warning about Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, saying that a software glitch in the jets’ systems could suddenly shut all electrical power to the plane mid-flight, causing pilots to lose control. The glitch, which revealed itself in laboratory tests, involves the Dreamliners’ electrical generators falling into a failsafe mode every 248 days, or roughly eight months. After that many days of continuous power usage, all four of the plane’s main generator control units will fail simultaneously. If that happens during a flight or during a takeoff or landing, the results could be disastrous.
GoFundMe pulls crowdfunding page for Baltimore police officers in Freddie Gray case – The Baltimore police union launches an effort to raise money for legal fees, but the fund-raising site says no go. It’s the latest campaign involving alleged police misconduct that’s been shuttered.
Police tweet stoner’s fascinating to-do list – Technically Incorrect: Australian police decide that their Twitter feed is the place to amuse followers after a house search.
Tesla’s Powerwall Could Break America – For $3,000-$3,500, the 10kWh Powerwall can power the average American home for eight hours, according to government energy usage statistics. One unit won’t get you completely off the grid, but it helps even out electrical usage. More importantly, it’s clear that technology will continue to advance and that we’ll have an even better solution within five years or so. This is a problem, because America’s electrical distribution infrastructure is crumbling, and Tesla bringing more solar households online is only going to accelerate the issue.
House Science Committee guts NASA Earth sciences budget – Yesterday, by a party-line vote, Republicans in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved a budget authorization for NASA that would see continued spending on Orion and the Space Launch System but slash the agency’s budget for Earth sciences. This vote follows the committee’s decision to cut the NSF’s geoscience budget and comes after a prominent attack on NASA’s Earth sciences work during a Senate hearing, all of which suggests a concerted campaign against the researchers who, among other things, are telling us that climate change is a reality.
Something to think about:
“The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.
Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress.
We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.”
– Howard Zinn – A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Today’s Free Downloads:
SyMenu – SyMenu allows you to manage portable applications resident on a removable drive. SyMenu can be installed in pen drives, external USB disks, memory cards and even CDs and DVDs.
Moreover SyMenu can automatically link any application residing on host pc. Any linked item (SyItem) can be organized in a hierarchical structure with colorful folders and found with the internal search tool.
You can customize SyMenu, adding links to portable programs, documents, Windows commands, folders and urls. Linked items can reside on the same USB device or even on host since SyMenu supports absolute path (such as C:WindowsExplorer.exe).
Start Search bar: (Windows Vista like) allows to quickly search amongst any SyItem configured on menu;
Windows Start Menu wrapper: SyMenu exposes through Start Search bar every program linked in host PC Windows Start menu too;
Extension Manager: allows to temporarly replace normal Windows extension associations with SyMenu custom extension association;
Autoexec: allows to launch a custom list of SyItems at SyMenu startup or closing.
Execution modes: Run, RunAs, Open folder and Show Properties.
Batch Import: allows to make massive imports of new SyItems.
Limitations: Requires Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0+ installed.
NeoRouter Free – The NeoRouter Free application was designed to help you manage and connect to all your computers from anywhere. It gracefully integrates Remote Access, File Sharing, Virtual Private Network, User and Access Management.
Roaming user profile: You can sign in from any computer using the same account and your profile (including the computer list and your preference) will roam with you.
Fastest connection: NeoRouter can setup direct peer-to-peer (P2P) connection between computers. When direct P2P connection is impossible (e.g. your computer is behind a corporate firewall), NeoRouter relays the network traffic through your own router, while other VPN products relay through a central server geologically located far away and shared by thousands of other users.
Advanced user management and access control: You can create multiple users with different privileges, and grant accesses to a computer or a service individually. For example, you can prevent your gamer friend Bob from accessing the photos you shared with mom.
Add-ons: Add-ons extend NeoRouter and let you perform additional tasks over the virtual network.
Proxy: Proxy support allows you access your virtual network behind proxy servers that support HTTP Proxy, SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 protocols.
Remote wakeup: You can put your computer to standby mode to conserve electricity and NeoRouter can wake up the computer when you actually use it.
Reliability: NeoRouter does not rely on a central server for connectivity, so you do not need to worry about the unexpected server maintenance and downtime.
Run as a windows service: NeoRouter provides this feature for free, while other VPN products charge a fee for this feature.
Unlimited network capacity: There is no limit on how many computers can join the network or how many users can be created.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
German prosecutor to investigate state spy agency’s partnership with the NSA – The German parliament recently revealed that the country’s electronic surveillance agency BND had been helping the NSA spy on European politicians and defense contractors for over a decade. Now Germany’s top public prosecutor will investigate to see if the country’s NSA partnership was violating any laws, Reuters reports.
As part of an ongoing agreement, the BND fed sensitive data to the NSA, including communications between several German and French politicians, as well as defense contractors like Airbus, European Aeronautic Defense, and Space Company. In response to a review of the agreement, the German parliament said it hoped to limit the selector terms used by the NSA in data collection, which would be a small, but still noticeable move toward’s suppressing the NSA’s overreach.
Step two of redacted surveillance guide raises questions about step one – The investigative Freedom of Information Act reporters at MuckRock have obtained thousands of pages of FBI documents related to “Stingrays,” cellphone trackers that are in use by law enforcement around the country but that government agencies refuse to discuss. The only problem with the documents? They’re redacted to near oblivion.
That’s unfortunate for champions of government transparency, but, as the stars break through the dark sky on a clear summer night, or as a Dadaist poem is created with the aid of an unseen hand, so do brief clips of text emerge between redactions.
A document from 2005, called GSM Cellphone Tracking For Dummies (highlighted by Motherboard), lists 10 questions to ask yourself “prior to tracking,” as well as nine steps instructing the user thereafter. The steps are completely redacted, with one odd exception:
Department of Justice will review how it deploys cell phone snooping tech – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is going to pull back the curtain and conduct a formal review of how, when, and why it uses mobile phone surveillance devices, commonly known as stingrays, according to a report Sunday evening from the Wall Street Journal. However, the DOJ has yet to determine exactly when and how this will occur.
Devlin Barrett, the WSJ reporter who broke the story, tweeted that the internal review began before recently-departed Attorney General Eric Holder left office. According to the story, an unnamed DOJ spokesman said that the agency is “examining its policies to ensure they reflect the Department’s continuing commitment to conducting its vital missions while according appropriate respect for privacy and civil liberties.”
Not only can stingrays, or cell-site simulators, be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone as well as information from other innocent phones within the vicinity. For years, federal and local law enforcement have tried to keep their existence a secret while simultaneously upgrading their capabilities.
Protecting Users’ Location Data From An Unconstitutional Search – Location data is highly sensitive. It contains information about where we live, our daily habits and our network of friends. We discover new places to go; avoid traffic on the way there; swipe to meet new friends once we’ve arrived; and even turn up the thermostat before we get home. When data knows this much about us it requires careful protection.
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is likely just weeks away from a major ruling on whether the Fourth Amendment protects a user’s data, and developers need to be prepared for whatever decision comes down.
We live in a climate of heightened government interest in personal data. We need to recognize this, and to design our systems with unavoidable government intrusion in mind. An ACLU records request of 250 police departments nationwide found that “virtually all” respondents said they track cell phone location data maintained by cellular companies, and “only a tiny minority reported consistently obtaining a warrant and demonstrating probable cause to do so.”