Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – May 27, 2015

Twitter’s Periscope is now available for Android;  Opera Max now monitors Wi-Fi usage, blocks data-hungry apps;  4 tips for buying a used iPhone;  Smart credit cards are coming – Here’s what you need to know;  Turn your smartphone into a remote control for YouTube on your PC;  Secure your web browsing with TunnelBear’s free Chrome extension;  Cortana is coming to Android and iOS;  Fedora 22: Cloud, desktop and server innovation;  Why SSDs don’t perform;  9 Pocket Tips to Help You Read it Later;  Android ransomware poses as FBI smut warning;  IRS hacked; data stolen from over 100,000 taxpayers;  UPDATED: The 30 Best iPhone Games;  Mad Max Savage Road game trailer;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies;  Steve Jobs and Bill Gates battle in new National Geographic series;  The best time to drink coffee for maximum jolt? Video has answers;  Glary Disk Cleaner (free);  Steve Wozniak: Edward Snowden is ‘a Hero to Me’.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Smart credit cards are coming. Here’s what you need to know – Smart cards want to replace your wallet full of debit and credit cards with one dynamic smart card. Here’s what you need to know.

4 tips for buying a used iPhone – There are three main ways to buy a used iPhone, assuming you don’t have a friend or family member who wants to sell you one on the cheap. You can purchase a certified preowned iPhone from a reputable seller, such as Gazelle; you can bid on a preowned iPhone on an auction site such as eBay; or you can pay cash for a used iPhone from a local seller on a site like Craigslist. No matter which method you choose, follow these four tips to make sure your used iPhone is as awesome and problem-free as a new iPhone.

How to turn your smartphone into a remote control for YouTube on your PC – Whether you’re watching on a PC at the office or at home, you can make it even better by turning your smartphone into a remote control. No, you don’t need a Chromecast or a TV. Just your PC and a smartphone will do. Here’s how it works using an Android smartphone, but it works pretty much the same way on iPhones, too.

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Click the Pair Device tile to get started at YouTube.com/tv.

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.

Twitter’s Periscope is now available for Android – Twitter has officially released the live streaming app Periscope for Android users. The app allows users to broadcast video to users and receive feedback in the form of chat messages.

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Cortana is coming to Android and iOS – Microsoft just announced that a Cortana application is landing on Android and iOS devices to work as a companion to the digital assistant found on Windows 10. Details incoming

Facebook adds restaurant reviews from actual food critics – Following a partnership with news outlets for Instant Articles, Facebook is now integrating restaurant reviews from reputable food publications.

9 Pocket Tips to Help You Read it Later – At launch, Pocket was actually known as Read It Later, before the App Store even existed. But after a 2012 name change, it has evolved into a seriously handy app. It archives whatever you’ve saved so that you can read it offline, which is particularly helpful when you’re on a subway or train with limited service. While Pocket is a simple cross-platform app, there are a few things that can make it that much more enjoyable.

Opera Max now monitors Wi-Fi usage, block data-hungry apps – Opera is a name you might more readily associate with mobile browsers, but in late 2013 it tried to diverge a bit from that core business. Focusing on one of its key strengths, which is compressing Internet data before it arrives on your device, it launched the Opera Max service that brings that feature to cover not just web pages, but more kinds of data. In the latest iteration of its Android app, it brings two new features to the fold: watching Wi-Fi data usage and shutting down obstinate apps.

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Three helpful Word formatting tips for working smarter – These three formatting skills will improve your productivity and make you more efficient when working with Word documents.

Lenovo looks to low-cost laptops with three new models – Just ahead of its Tech World event in Beijing, Lenovo reveals three new low-cost consumer laptops, including the entry-level 14-inch ideapad 100 starting at just $249.

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Fedora 22: Cloud, desktop and server innovation – Summary:Red Hat’s new Fedora Linux comes with a better desktop, but the real improvements are in the cloud and server updates.

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Google’s Internet-connected toys patent sparks privacy concerns, visions of IoT Chucky – Google’s recently published patent for Internet-connected toys, which have microphones, cameras, speakers and motors, have sparked privacy concerns; the ‘creepy’ anthropomorphic devices might look like a doll or teddy bear, but some people believe it belongs ‘in a horror film’ and have visions of an IoT-version of Chucky.

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Credit: Mike Mozart

Why SSDs don’t perform – From their earliest days, people have reported that SSDs were not providing the performance they expected. As SSDs age, for instance, they get slower. Here’s why.

Security:

Android ransomware poses as FBI smut warning – Cybercrooks have launched a new wave of Android ransomware that poses as a pretty convincing FBI-imposed porn-surfing warning. Over 15,000 spam emails, including zipped files, have hit the inboxes of Android users in recent days, according to Romanian security software firm Bitdefender. If activated, the ransomware demands $500 to restore access. Users that try to independently unlock their devices will see the amount increase to $1,500, with payment demanded via Money Pak and PayPal My Cash transfers. The malware poses as an Adobe Flash Player update, a common malware slinging ruse.

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Android ransomware demands $500 to restore access.

IRS hacked; data stolen from over 100,000 taxpayers – Hackers successfully accessed—stole—personal information, including tax return data, from over 100,000 U.S. taxpayers. In a series of attacks that took place from February to mid-May, the hackers utilized the IRS’s “Get Transcript” system to access all of the personal information that would be on a tax return, from birthdays and social security numbers to addresses. The motivation behind the attack is, apparently, an extensive plot to claim fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities. According to the IRS, over $5.8 billion USD in fraudulent refunds were sent out in the year 2013, alone.

Blackhat hack trick wallops popular routers – A cybercrime vigilante known as Kafeine says criminals are hitting thousands of victims with a hacking tool that targets more than 40 router models. The well-known hacker says the novel attacks use cross-site request forgery and exploits against new and old bugs to change router DNS settings. This bypasses the need to target only routers with vulnerable remote services. Kafeine says the most popular routers can be targeted including Netgear, D-Link, and Asus to name a few. The hacker says the attackers’ have set up a dodgy DNS service that doesn’t direct traffic faithfully. Instead, Kafeine says victims are pointed to phishing sites whenever, for example, they attempt to log into internet banking portals. One such dodgy DNS server received up to a million unique hits on 9 May, he says.

Attackers use email spam to infect point-of-sale terminals with new malware – They’re likely counting on some employees misusing such terminals to browse the Web or check their personal email at work.

$19 million Target, MasterCard breach settlement crumbles – A proposed $19 million settlement reached last month between Target Corp. and MasterCard over a 2013 security breach fell apart after not enough banks who had sued the retailer agreed to be part of the deal they said fell short of actual damages, according to MasterCard. The settlement, announced last month, needed agreement by May 20 from 90% of MasterCard issuing banks and credit unions. Those numbers were not met, MasterCard reported. The $19 million was for reimbursement for fraudulent charges and the cost that card issuers suffered in re-issuing cards that had been compromised.

Company News:

Charter buys Time Warner Cable to create America’s second biggest cable provider – Charter Communications is buying Time Warner Cable (TWC) in a deal that values the latter, larger company at $78.7 billion. The two firms will merge together under the newly created parent company New Charter, which will become the second biggest cable provider in the US after Comcast. A separate acquisition by Charter of the smaller cable company Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion means that the new company will soon have 23.9 million customers in 41 states.

Microsoft moves deeper into Android territory, 20 new partners to ship tablets with Office apps – Microsoft has announced today that they have signed up 20 more hardware partners to ship their Android tablets with Office apps pre-installed; this includes LG, Sony, Haier, Positivo and Wortman.

Hyundai becomes first to use Android Auto in production cars – Hyundai today announced it will begin using Android Auto in vehicles this year, making it the first carmaker to enable vehicles to mirror a connected Android smartphone to the car’s dashboard infotainment system. Android Auto is premiering on the 2015 Sonata with navigation capabilities at dealerships nationwide, and will later become available on other Hyundai models, the company said.

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Android Auto enables Google maps navigation.

Oculus acquires 3D mapping company Surreal Vision to turn reality into a video game – Virtual reality company Oculus has acquired Surreal Vision, a UK company whose software can map and recreate the real world in a virtual one. Surreal Vision grew out of its three co-founders’ Ph.D. research at Imperial College London; the team will now move to Oculus’ lab in Redmond, Washington. This is the latest of several acquisitions by Oculus, which was itself purchased by Facebook in March of 2014. After the Facebook buyout, it brought on the design team that helped create the Xbox 360 controller and Kinect, followed by motion-tracking company Nimble VR.

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Apple’s Jony Ive promoted to chief design officer – Jony Ive, the design guru responsible for the minimalist characteristics of several Apple products over the years, has been promoted by the iPhone maker. Ive, who has served as the company’s senior vice president of design for several years, has been named to the newly created position of chief design officer, according to a memo sent to company employees by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Online Publisher Vox Acquires Tech News Site Recode – Online news publisher Vox Media said on Tuesday that it’s acquiring Recode, an influential tech news site, adding to a growing wave of consolidation in the tech media world.

Games and Entertainment:

UPDATED: The 30 Best iPhone Games – From casual match-three games to trivia to intense first-person shooters, our 30 best games for Apple’s iPhone span a range of genres.

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Infinity Blade II

Mad Max Savage Road game trailer: it’s no Fury Road – Cars and monster trucks that tumble and go boom. People beating the hell out of other people. Malformed, and mostly bald, inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic world. A mysterious leading lady slash love interest. And more cars that go boom. That is the gist of the new trailer for the game tie-in to the blockbuster hit Mad Max Fury Road. And the title, Mad Max Savage Road, might be totally appropriate, as this adaptation involves much more gore and violence than the film was willing to show.

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The latest Humble Bundle is for Nintendo fans – The base, pay-what-you-want bundle includes Guacamelee for the Wii U and Woah Dave and Mighty Switch Force on 3DS. Pay more than the average amount, and you can grab games like Steamworld Dig and OlliOlli as well. As with most Humble Bundles, more games will be added partway through the sale, which runs for the next two weeks. And while nothing has been announced just yet, the bundle could also mean more sales for more consoles in the future. “I hope this is the start of something,” Humble Bundle co-founder John Graham tells Polygon. You can grab the games right here.

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Riot rolls out automated, instant bans for League of Legends trolls – League of Legends developer Riot Games is taking new steps to handle problem players more quickly and automatically, introducing a system to identify and ban players engaging in “verbal harassment” as quickly as 15 minutes after the end of a match. Riot explains how the new system works in a post on its Player Behavior blog. After teammates or opponents report a League player for “homophobia, racism, sexism, death threats, and other forms of excessive abuse,” Riot’s automated system will validate those reports, determine whether they’re worthy of punishment, and send a “reform card” that pairs chat log evidence of the behavior with an explanation of the punishment.

The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – There are two new flicks that made it onto the most-pirated movies list this week: Home, starring Rihanna, and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, starring Antonio Banderas. If you want to learn more about these movies, as well as the eight other films that were popular among pirates, check out the slideshow linked both above and below for more information.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates battle in new National Geographic series – The TV channel is launching a show called “American Genius” that’s about bitter rivalries, including the Wright Brothers vs. Curtiss, Colt vs. Wesson and Oppenheimer vs. Heisenberg.

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In May 2007, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates got together for a rare–and amicable–joint appearance at the D5 technology conference.

Over 4 billion people still have no Internet connection – The number of people using the Internet is growing at a steady rate, but 4.2 billion out of 7.4 billion will still be offline by the end of the year. Overall, 35.3 percent of people in developing countries will use the Internet, compared to 82.2 percent in developed countries, according to data from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). People who live in the so-called least developed countries will the worst off by far: In those nations only 9.5 percent will be connected by the end of December.

Largest photo ever is a 46TB image of the Alps – The world’s largest photo keeps getting bigger, and at this point it’s far too big to store on your laptop’s hard drive. The latest image to earn the title is a massive shot of the Alps that took more than two weeks to fully photograph and that takes up an astounding 46TB of space. With an image this big, you can zoom in, and in, and in, up to an incredible level of detail. Zoom all the way out, though, and you’re graced with an unprecedented photograph of the mountains. This latest record-setting image was very much a dedicated effort, requiring a total of 70,000 photographs to assemble.

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You Can Now Buy a Lock of Mozart’s Hair If You Are Rich and Insane – If you love Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and have $20,000 to blow, you can head to Sotheby’s auction house in London this week and bid on a genuine lock of the composer’s hair. The Guardian reports that the ancient gray strands have been passed down through generations of musicians and come inside a gold locket with a note claiming they sprouted from the scalp of one of music’s greatest composers, who died in 1791. If you’re a less-rich-but-equally-insane classical music fan, you can bid on a smaller lock of genuine Beethoven hair that is expected to sell for around $5,000. Also up for auction this week is an invitation to Beethoven’s funeral.

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The best time to drink coffee for maximum jolt? Video has answers – Let the folks at AsapScience open your eyes to a new strategy for consuming your coffee at precisely the right time to boost the buzz.

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Creationist: The Flintstones was an accurate portrayal of Dino-human coexistence – Ken Ham, an Australian young-Earth creationist, says he is on the verge of proving that dinosaurs and humans coexisted only a couple of thousand years ago. According to a report on news.com.au, Ham – along with a Dr David Menton – declared that he will soon publish “world-changing” evidence disproving that dinosaurs were present on the earth over 65 million years ago. “It is understood Mr Ham will claim that a bunch of donated Edmontosaurus bones are only a few thousand years old, based on the fact that they still contain remnants of bone marrow,” the Australian news site said.

Dealing with an infection lowers your IQ for up to 15 years – A new study conducted in Denmark makes the bold claim that infections can lead to a decrease in your cognitive ability severe enough to show up on diagnostic exams like an IQ test. The study consisted of more than 180,000 participants thanks to Denmark’s universal health care system. A little more than a third of the people in the study were diagnosed with a general infection at a Danish hospital between 1977 and 2012. Those who presented with infections showed a slight decline in cognitive ability compared to the average, with the IQ measurements made in 2006-2012. The effect was small — a single infection dropped the IQ of participants by 1.76 points, but those with five infections saw an average reduction in IQ of 9.44 points.

Something to think about:

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

–      Vince Lombardi

Today’s Free Downloads:

Glary Disk Cleaner – Protect your privacy, optimize system performance, and release considerable disk space.

Features:

Intuitive and easy to use interface

Support Ignore List, exclude files which don’t want to be deleted

Professional rapid scanning kernel

Support custom cleaning up temporary files

Clean up history at a glance

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SSuite Office – Gif Animator – An easy to use gif animator and slide show creator. Just load your images into the list, and press create.

All animated files created with Gif Animator are completely compatible with all current web browsers for viewing.

Supports jpg, jpeg, and bmp images.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Steve Wozniak: Edward Snowden is ‘a Hero to Me’ – Steve Wozniak reaffirmed his staunch support for digital privacy in an interview over the weekend in which the Apple co-founder called National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden “a hero.”

Wozniak, who helped build Apple [fortune-stock symbol=”AAPL”] with Steve Jobs before leaving the tech giant in the mid-1980’s, has expressed an affinity for Snowden in the past. Over the weekend, Wozniak reiterated his admiration for Snowden in an interview with ArabianBusiness.com in which the inventor said Snowden “gave up his own life . . . to help the rest of us.”

Wozniak went on to tell the publication more on his feelings about Snowden:

“‘Total hero to me; total hero,’ he gushes. ‘Not necessarily [for] what he exposed, but the fact that he internally came from his own heart, his own belief in the United States Constitution, what democracy and freedom was about. And now a federal judge has said that NSA data collection was unconstitutional.’”

Skype hauled into court after refusing to hand call records to cops – Skype has been called to appear before a court in Belgium after refusing to hand over customer data following a request for assistance in a criminal investigation.

A court in Mechelen near Brussels wanted “data from messages and calls exchanged on Microsoft-owned Skype”, a regulatory requirement that a Belgian telecoms operator would be required to comply with.

The Microsoft-owned firm declined, Reuters reports.

The case turns on the legal question of whether or not a VoIP service such as Skype should be treated as a telecoms operator in Belgium and therefore be subject to the same laws. It’s unclear how serious the alleged crimes under investigation are, much less the identity of the suspect or suspects.

In response to a request for comment, Microsoft outlined its reasons for contesting the case without going into detail on the specifics or the legal arguments it intends to field.

UK porn laws might mean ID checks with the post office – The UK’s plans to introduce mandatory age checks for viewing pornography online could involve verifying users’ identities via third parties such as banks, mobile operators, credit agencies, or even the post office. The country’s Conservative party pledged to introduce such age checks earlier this year, and following their recent re-election, discussions have reportedly begun between the technology industry and the government over ways to implement the checks.

The Digital Policy Alliance (DPA), a nonpartisan body that offers advice on technology policy in the UK, has suggested using “information already on file” to carry out the checks. “Nobody in the UK wants a centralized identity database,” Dr Rachel O’Connell, an expert on online child safety advising the DPA, told The Guardian. “The way around that is that Royal Mail knows who you are, your mobile operator knows who you are.”

O’Connell suggests that users visiting porn sites could choose which organization would verify their ID, with their request and the organization’s reply transmitted through an “anonymizing hub” to protect their identity. A regulator could then block sites that don’t offer age checks, with the Authority for Television on Demand — the body that regulates online video streaming — expected to be given this role.

EU to David Cameron: Leave porn alone! – The UK and its leading Conservative government have been looking for a long time now at ways toblock online pornography, in the name of children’s safety. But it looks like the EU is not at all happy with the country’s approach, which it deems to be against the people’s interests.

A leaked EU document showed that David Cameron’s approach to online pornography – have it banned by default and make people opt in – has not been viewed in positive terms in Brussels. The issue of net neutrality comes up, with the EU reportedly considering making the PM’s plan illegal. Instead, the European officials would opt for a system that allows pornography by default with users, then being able to opt into a deal where the ISP blocks such content. The user would also be able to back out of the agreement with the ISP at any time.

John Carr, a government adviser on online safety and security for children and an executive member on the board of the UK council on Child Internet Safety, was quick to mention that such a proposal from the EU would destroy “a major plank of the UK’s approach to online child protection”.

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

5 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – May 27, 2015

  1. Reblogged this on Tana Daily Telegraph and commented:
    “…Let the folks at AsapScience open your eyes to a new strategy for consuming your coffee at precisely the right time to boost the buzz…” – original author