Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – May 20, 2015

Nearly 1/3 people use Facebook while driving;  How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide;  Majority of Americans “concerned” about NSA domestic surveillance;  In defense of ad-blockers, a vital tool for the privacy conscious;  How to back up and store photos when traveling;  Facebook Messenger video calling now rolling out to all;  Facebook Messenger platform’s next target: games;  13 apps for bettering your mental health;  Five Android-only apps worth a look;  Easily secure your web browsing with TunnelBear’s free Chrome extension;  Screenshots: A preview of Microsoft Windows 10;  Google reprimanded for YouTube Kids app showing inappropriate content;  How to upgrade graphics in a laptop;  Employees choose adult content, app downloads over security;  Process Hacker Portable (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Nearly 1/3 people use Facebook while driving – AT&T commissioned Braun Research poll finds nearly 1 out of every 3 people use Facebook while driving. Driving their automobile. On the road, in the United States, where you live. The study was done by poll, asking 2,067 in the United States aged between 16-65 who use their smartphone at least once a day AND drive at least once a day a number of questions. The least mind-blowing statistic in this study suggests that 62% of all drivers in the United States keep their smartphone within easy reach while driving. This means “in their hand, lap, or cup holder, or on the passenger seat or dash.” The rest is just nuts.

EFF’s Secure Messaging Scoreboard empowers developers and educates users – Most messaging apps are advertised as secure. The Electronic Frontier Foundation decided to verify those claims and then put its findings in a scoreboard. See which apps pass with flying colors.

In defense of ad-blockers, a vital tool for the privacy conscious – Look up. And then to the left and right. And somewhere in-between these words. You’ll see ads scattered all over the place, asking you to “buy this” or “click me,” or — if you’re really lucky — you’ll get one that takes over the entire page. Or you won’t. Millions instead opt to use an ad-blocker, a browser plugin that effectively scrubs every webpage from flashy, garish, and memory-consuming ads.

How to back up and store photos when traveling – Don’t lose your precious photo memories to a misplaced bag or stolen camera. Backing up your photos may seem daunting — especially on vacation — but it’s actually quite simple once you get started. Remember, the point of any backup solution is to ensure that you have multiple copies of your photos in different locations. Just having photos stored on an external hard drive and nowhere else does not make for a reliable backup.

Facebook Messenger video calling now rolling out to all – It’s time to freshen up, comb that hair, exercise that jaw, and maybe bring out the dictionary or translation guide. Facebook Messenger’s new video calling feature, which was announced barely a month ago, is now starting to roll out everywhere and on every platform. Messenger is shaping up to be one distinct and, more importantly, distinguishable product apart from Facebook’s main app, giving users the convenience of expressing themselves better, more immediately, and perhaps more creatively than they could with text, emoji, stickers, or even memes.

wps_clip_image-29824

How to easily secure your web browsing with TunnelBear’s free Chrome extension – Only need VPN-like protection for your browser and not your whole desktop? Check out TunnelBear for Chrome and Chrome OS. We’ve talked about the importance of virtual private networks before. They’re a great tool for protecting your browsing on an open Wi-Fi network or defeating regional restrictions when you need to.

Five Android-only apps worth a look – The mobile ecosystem is filled with wonderful apps that can do nearly anything you need. For the most part, these apps can be found across platforms. But a handful of important apps can be found on just one platform or the other. I wanted to highlight some of the high-quality apps you will find on only Android.

How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide – The world of Linux is ready to welcome you, with a shower of free open-source software you can use on any PC: hundreds of active Linux distributions, and dozens of different desktop environments you could run on them. Everything from software installation to hardware drivers works differently on Linux, though, which can be daunting. Take heart—you don’t even need to install Linux on your PC to get started. Here’s everything you need to know.

wps_clip_image-24524

Fedora Linux with the Gnome Shell desktop.

Screenshots: A preview of Microsoft Windows 10 – Windows 10 is coming and you’d better be prepared for it. Here are a few screenshots to get you started.

wps_clip_image-15854

Microsoft will charge for Windows 10 upgrades after one-year freebie offer lapses – It’s official: If you want to upgrade to Windows 10 without spending a dime, you’ll want to do so in the first year after it launches. Afterwards, it’ll cost money.

How to upgrade graphics in a laptop – Pssst—there’s a secret that few in the PC gaming community know: You actually can upgrade your big-fat gaming laptop’s graphics. But even the few who know it’s possible, believe it to not be worth the time and effort. After all, who wants to scour some obscure forum to find out whether blowing a wad of cash on a GPU from eBay will work? And then there’s the inherent risk of having the used GPU blow up after a month of use. Enter Eurocom, a Canadian laptop vendor that in February began offering one-stop-shop upgrade kits for consumers who want to take the risk of performing the equivalent of open-heart surgery on a laptop.

13 apps for bettering your mental health – May is Mental Health Month, a time to bring more attention to the subject, shed the stigma, and give people the care they deserve. Here are 12 apps trying to do just that.

wps_clip_image-5350

MY3 helps you stay connected when you are having thoughts of suicide.

Free music streaming service MixRadio launches on Android and iOS – Previously available exclusively on Windows Phone, MixRadio today announced its launch on Android and iOS. The company says that it is bringing “the world’s easiest and most personal music streaming experience” to these new platforms. And as part of that expansion, MixRadio is also teaming up with HTC to exclusively provide music updates for BlinkFeed on the manufacturer’s Android handsets.

Microsoft rolls out touch-first Office apps preview for Android phones – Microsoft is making available for Android phones public previews of its promised standalone touch versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The new Office for Android phone preview apps are similar to the touch-first Office apps preview for Windows phones that Microsoft made available to testers last week.

Inkscape: Open-source Illustrator sneaks up – While the bug fixes and performance improvements are welcome news in and of themselves, there are plenty of brand new features in this release. There’s a new Measurements tool that will live update the length of objects and angles as you move the mouse over them. The Text tool has also been significantly improved. The Text tool now defaults to points (pt) though you can change that to pixels, centimetres, inches and others, including the web-centric em. Even better, the em support actually works in this release, which should be a boon for anyone working with graphics destined for responsive websites. This release also features support for font faces beyond bold/italic and improved support for file formats created by other apps. Inkscape now works pretty well with Corel DRAW, EMF, and WMF files and even has support for Microsoft Visio diagrams.

image

Creating illustrations in Inkscape .91

Apple Pay troubleshooting tips and tricks – Apple Pay is one of the newest, most secure payment methods on the block, but sometimes it just doesn’t work with every retailer every time. Here are some tips on how to troubleshoot Apple Pay.

Security:

HTTPS-crippling attack threatens tens of thousands of Web and mail servers – The vulnerability affects an estimated 8.4 percent of the top one million websites and a slightly bigger percentage of mail servers populating the IPv4 address space, the researchers said. The threat stems from a flaw in the transport layer security protocol that websites and mail servers use to establish encrypted connections with end-users. The new attack, which its creators have dubbed Logjam, can be exploited against a subset of servers that support the widely used Diffie-Hellman key exchange, which allows two parties that have never met before to negotiate a secret key even though they’re communicating over an unsecured, public channel.

DDoS attacks are getting worse, as attackers shift tactics and targets – Attackers that harness the power of thousands or millions of devices to flood networks with data are shifting tactics to pack a smaller, but much longer-lasting punch. How these attacks are carried out has also changed. Attackers are increasingly exploiting Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP), a common protocol in most modern networked devices — including routers media servers, webcams, and games consoles. With widely available tools, they can seek out misconfigured and unsecured devices connected to the internet to launch larger, coordinated attacks against their targets. Not only that, the target of these attacks has shifted. Little by little, malicious actors are shifting away from financial gain and making it a far more personal mission.

Enterprise employees choose adult content, app downloads over security – The majority of 1580 survey respondents worldwide said they understood the cybersecurity risks linked to downloading email attachments from unknown senders, viewing adult content, using social media and downloading unapproved applications, but this has not curbed their risk-taking when using corporate systems and mobile gadgets. Across 11 countries, business employees admitted to accessing adult websites at work — a veritable breeding ground of malware and malicious content. A new report from Juniper Networks suggests that data breaches will cost the global economy up to $2 TRILLION by 2019, with the US the most heavy-hit.

Company News:

PayPal ordered to pay $25 million over deceptive practices – PayPal, used by online merchants and shoppers to send and process payments, has just settled a federal lawsuit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over alleged deceptive practices in its “Bill Me Later” program which is now known as PayPal Credit. PayPal will be returning $15 million to customers who lost money due to PayPal’s practices, and a $10 million fine has been levied against PayPal, going towards the CFPB. After the settlement, PayPal will be required to correct its consumer disclosure policies, making them “clearly and prominently” displayed to consumers.

Google reprimanded for YouTube Kids app showing inappropriate content – Google’s recent mobile app, YouTube Kids, a version of the popular video service that curates safe content for young children, has come under fire from two child and consumer advocacy groups claiming that the app is deceiving. The Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a complaint with the FTC, stating that “the app is rife with videos that would not meet anyone’s definition of ‘family friendly.'” The complaint included evidence of video clips that had been found on YouTube Kids that were described as disturbing and/or harmful to young children.

wps_clip_image-1938

Pandora buys music data cruncher Next Big Sound – By taking over a company that figures out the best tactics for music online, the biggest Internet radio service hopes to convince more labels and artists — oh, and advertisers — to join up.

Uber tests taking 30% commission from new drivers – The ride-hailing service is testing a new, tiered fee structure that could cut into part-time drivers’ pay but reward full-time drivers.

Uber threatens legal action against Australian tax office – After last month calling for regulation in Australia to allow it to operate legally, Uber is now considering using legal means to challenge a tax office ruling that requires its drivers to pay GST in line with taxi operators. Earlier today, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) classified Uber as a taxi service, and consequently its 9000 Australian drivers have until August 1 to get an Australian Business Number and register for GST. Uber disagreed with the decision and said its drivers, who typically earn $30,000 a year, should not pay tax on their first dollar earned as it hit out at the ATO.

Games and Entertainment:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC) review impressions: Smoothly slaying monsters – After months of excitement about The Witcher 3, it seemed like it was falling apart in the run-up to launch. All of the reviews that went up last week were conducted on debug PS4 consoles. PC codes, meanwhile, were pushed back time and time again until finally I was told we’d receive code on launch day, probably. And all this from a PC-friendly developer like CD Projekt. When a game’s coming in that hot on PC, we’re right to be worried. Mortal Kombat X, Assassin’s Creed Unity—these are just two recent examples where the PC version came at the last minute and featured huge problems not caught on consoles. So yeah, I was worried about The Witcher 3. For no reason, it turns out.

wps_clip_image-29827

Facebook Messenger platform’s next target: games – We should have seen this coming a mile away. After all, it seems to be the trend with popular instant messengers these days anyway. Facebook is said to be now eying adding the power of games to its Messenger service, leveraging the nascent platform announced barely two months ago. But while the move may sound like a no-brainer in retrospect, Facebook’s motivations might be somewhat different, driven instead by reports that its Messenger Platform as a whole is starting to become a slow-moving flop.

wps_clip_image-2504

Against all odds, the new Wolfenstein games are fantastic – Wolfenstein: The New Order is as brutal and intense as any first-person shooter you’ll ever play, and it’s the most recent entry in a classic series whose stock has considerably fallen. But developer MachineGames used smart storytelling devices to build up a truly evil enemy that you feel no guilt at all in taking on — the game is set in an alternate history where the Nazis won — and the results are surprisingly congruous and emotional.

wps_clip_image-951

Unreleased footage of cancelled Doom 4 shows why they restarted – By now you’ve probably heard all about that new Doom teaser that was released yesterday as a build-up to Bethesda’s full unveiling at E3 next month. But did you know that developers id Software completely restarted the project back in late 2011? Prior to that, they had gotten pretty far on what they were then calling Doom 4, but eventually realized it just didn’t have the “soul” of a Doom game, and needed to be scrapped. A brief, unreleased video of that old version has surfaced today, and it’s pretty clear they made the right call.

wps_clip_image-29413

Popcorn Time gains an in-browser viewing option – Popcorn Time, the so-called “Netflix of piracy”, went from a computer application to a mobile app, and now a new website is offering it as an in-browser option — meaning users are now able to watch pirated movies inside their web browser, perhaps proving the most simple version of the app to become available. The upside to this (for the pirates out there, at least) is that there’s no actual download or installation needed — one just browses, clicks a title, and it starts playing. The movie industry shudders.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Virtual reality could be the most important gimmick ever based on a brain flaw – Researchers working on ways to design computers that operate more like the human brain than like a really, really, really smart drugstore calculator might want to think twice considering some of the things virtual reality is revealing about how human brains actually work – and how they don’t.

wps_clip_image-12253

Appeals court says anti-Muslim YouTube video doesn’t have to come down – A Los Angeles actress had demanded the video’s removal after claiming she was fired from her job and received death threats over her brief stint in the video. Cindy Garcia said she thought she would be in an adventure show but was tricked into performing in a “hateful anti-Islamic production” that sparked worldwide protests. A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the woman last year in a 2-1 vote and ordered Google to remove the video. The court ruled that she controlled the copyright of her five-second stint, in which her dubbed voice asks: “Is your Muhammad a child molester?” Google, the media, and digital rights groups asked the court to rehear the case en banc with 11 judges. The media argued that the original decision “expands the concept of copyright ownership.” The larger panel of the San Francisco-based appeals court agreed Monday in a 10-1 ruling.

LG creates stick-on OLED TV screen less than 1mm thick – LG Display just unveiled a new, ultra-thin television screen that is less than one millimeter thick, at an industry event in its home country, Korea. LG’s current thinnest TV screen is a 55-inch OLED panel that is 4.3 mm thick. So, four of these new screens stacked together are still thinner than LG’s thinnest screen on the market. This new display won’t be available in stores anytime soon. The design revealed in Seoul is a proof-of-concept showing that the technology is possible even though production costs may not be low enough to be practical, yet.

wps_clip_image-13597

FTC sues four cancer charities over $187 million scam – The Federal Trade Commission has accused four cancer charities of defrauding well-meaning donors for over $187 million. Today, the FTC and law enforcement groups from all 50 states have filed a complaint against the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society. The complaint alleges that these four “sham charities” solicited millions in donations by promising to help pay for hospice care, chemotherapy, and other services for cancer patients. But only a fraction of that money actually went to patients. The rest went to company cars, high salaries, and even a Caribbean cruise.

It’s raining spiders in Australia again – Australia’s Southern Tablelands are experiencing an Angel Hair event – a spider migration which covers entire towns in spiderwebs. Thousands of flying spiders falling from the sky, creating an ethereal, other-worldly event the likes of which you’ve only likely ever seen in a dream. Or a nightmare – depending on your preferences. “When I looked up at the sun it was like this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred meters into the sky,” said Goulburn resident Ian Watson. “It was beautiful.”

wps_clip_image-7641

KFC had a food tray that was also a Bluetooth keyboard – Whoever said that fast food does nothing good for you should get ready to eat their words. And some KFC too. The German division of the food chain has unveiling a solution to the problem of typing on your smartphone or tablet with greasy fingers: a thin, flexible Bluetooth keyboard that comes on the tray under your food order. It’s called the KFC Tray Typer, and before you rush out to your nearest fried chicken fast food outlet, know that this has only been shown in Germany, and you can’t really get your hands — greasy or not — on one. Read on for the explanation.

wps_clip_image-13150

9 programming languages and the women who created them – From the dawn of mainframes through today, women have designed and developed programming languages that have had significant, lasting impact on software development.

Something to think about:

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

–      Margaret Atwood

Today’s Free Downloads:

Process Hacker Portable – Process Hacker is a feature-packed tool for manipulating processes and services on your computer.

Process Hacker is an application which helps users to view and manage the processes and their threads, modules and memory from their computers.

Installer version available.

Features:

A simple, customizable tree view with highlighting showing you the processes running on your computer.

Detailed performance graphs.

A complete list of services and full control over them (start, stop, pause, resume and delete).

A list of network connections.

Comprehensive information for all processes: full process performance history, thread listing and stacks with dbghelp symbols, token information, module and mapped file information, virtual memory map, environment variables, handles, …

Full control over all processes1, even processes protected by rootkits or security software. Its kernel-mode driver has unique abilities which allows it to terminate, suspend and resume all processes and threads, including software like IceSword, avast! anti-virus, AVG Antivirus, COMODO Internet Security, etc. (just to name a few).

Find hidden processes and terminate them. Process Hacker detects processes hidden by simple rootkits such as Hacker Defender and FU.

Easy DLL injection and unloading2 – simply right-click a process and select “Inject DLL” to inject and right-click a module and select “Unload” to unload!

Many more features…

wps_clip_image-6161

Secret Disk – Secret Disk can create additional disk on your PC, which can be invisible and locked with a password within one second. You can make your private files and folders invisible and protected.

You don’t need to format your hard disk or make any changes to boot sector. Our program will create new disk automatically very quickly. You can make this disk invisible, including all contents, and protect it with a password. You can store any files and folders on the disk. Secret disk works as usual hard disk and compatible with any other programs which you have installed. You can have more than one secret disk and you can also choose disk letter.

In case of power outage or fatal error of OS Windows your secret disk will be locked and become invisible automatically. It happens automatically because information are stored in the virtual memory. Secret Disk does not encrypt any files, it just limits access to your files (you can use password). Software ties virtual disk to your files. This will provide you enough security to hide your files from any person.

Limitations: Free version limited to a single 5 GB database, no tech support and displays Pro upgrade nag screens.

wps_clip_image-31973

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Majority of Americans “concerned” about NSA domestic surveillance – A new survey shows there is wide support across the political spectrum for ending the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs.

The poll (PDF), commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), showed 84 percent of respondents believed the FBI and other law enforcement agencies should require a warrant to access phone and email records.

Parts of the Patriot Act will sunset this June. But the more egregious spying programs are under a different authority. Lawmakers say they only know a fraction of what they should.

Also, two-thirds of respondents believe the Patriot Act, which the NSA used to authorize the mass bulk collection of Americans’ phone records (which was later struck down by a court), should not be reauthorized in its current form.

Fewer than one-in-five respondents were “not concerned” that the US government was collecting and storing phone records, emails, bank statements, and other communications on them.

The poll is the latest to gather the opinions on Americans’ view of domestic surveillance. Since the Edward Snowden revelations landed almost two years ago, there has been an intense debate across the US about the role and scope of the US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which have shown to have stored and accessed millions of Americans’ personal records and data.

Watch the ACLU and Tea Party’s New Anti-Patriot Act Ad – Just how bad is the Patriot Act? If you guessed “bad enough that the ACLU and Tea Party would join forces to make an ads about how bad it is bad,” then you’d be correct.

Below is “Collect Call,” a new TV spot from the ACLU and the Tea Party Patriots, reminding citizens that because of the Patriot Act, the government can watch you Skype with your favorite soldier, and also listen to your doctor tell you about the results of your latest medical test.

The Patriot Act expires on June 1, and if it dies, so will the NSA’s ability to spy on Americans. This is obviously the desired outcome for both the ACLU, which wants to preserve the civil rights of citizens, as well as the Tea Party apparently, who just generally don’t like the government meddling in their business. Which is why the two groups are airing the ad in Washington, DC, as well as in New Hampshire and Iowa.

wps_clip_image-19857

Tech sector tells Obama encryption backdoors “undermine human rights” – Technology giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft urged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to refrain from supporting any US policy that would require the tech sector to install backdoors into their products so the authorities can access encrypted data.

In a letter (PDF) to Obama, dozens of tech companies, cryptologists, and rights groups said mandatory backdoors—which many authorities in the US government and abroad have been calling for—would weaken cybersecurity as well as “undermine human rights.”

More than undermining every American’s cybersecurity and the nation’s economic security, introducing new vulnerabilities to weaken encrypted products in the US would also undermine human rights and information security around the globe. If American companies maintain the ability to unlock their customers’ data and devices on request, governments other than the United States will demand the same access, and will also be emboldened to demand the same capability from their native companies. The US government, having made the same demands, will have little room to object. The result will be an information environment riddled with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by even the most repressive or dangerous regimes. That’s not a future that the American people or the people of the world deserve.

Tuesday’s letter comes as the White House is in the process of coming up with a position on the issue and in response to a chorus of government officials at home and abroad—including British Prime Minister David Cameron, FBI Director James Comey, and former Attorney General Eric Holder—all calling for backdoors.

Pre-thoughtcrime: Russian think tank app catches protestors before they protest – Issac Asimov’s Harry Seldon used “psycho-history” to predict the future. Tom Cruise used “precogs” in Minority Report. And now a pro-Putin think tank is trying to divine dissident activity by mining social media.

The Center for Research in Legitimacy and Political Protest claims to have developed software that will search Russian social media posts for signs of plans by political opposition to the government to stage unapproved protests or meetings. Described by an Izvestia report as “a system to prevent mass disorder,” the software searches through social media posts once every five minutes to catch hints of “unauthorized actions” and potentially alert law enforcement to prevent them.

Public protests, rallies, marches, and meetings staged without government approval are outlawed in Russia—individuals can be fined up to about $600 (30,000 rubles) for participating in such events or sentenced to 50 hours of community service.

South Korea mandates spyware installation on teenagers’ smartphones – A law requiring the mass installation of spyware on teenagers’ smartphones suggests that the frightening level of population control exercised by its neighbours in “Best Korea” has rubbed off on the Republic’s administrators in Seoul.

The Republic of South Korea’s Communications Commission, a media regulator modeled after the United States’ FCC, now requires telecom companies and parents to ensure a monitoring app is installed whenever anyone under the age of 19 receives a new smartphone.

The measure will only slowly come into force over the next few years as it doesn’t require old smartphones be updated, although AP reports that most schools in South Korea sent out letters to parents encouraging them to install the software anyway.

“It is the same as installing a surveillance camera in teenagers’ smartphones,” Kim Kha Yeun told AP. Kim is a general counsel at Open Net Korea, a non-profit organization that is challenging the regulator’s ordinance to South Korea’s Constitutional Court.

Advertisements

5 Comments

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

5 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – May 20, 2015