Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – May 29, 2015

Protect Your Account With Facebook Security Checkup;  How Bad Bots Are Destroying The Internet;  Google Photos is now available for Android, iOS, and the web;  Windows 10 signoff is slated for mid July; This is Android M: what has changed so far;  Keep an eye on Congress and contact your reps with Countable;  Google Opens Inbox To All;  17 Tricks to Master Microsoft PowerPoint ;  Google I/O 2015 round-up: the main keynote;  Google Play Gets More Family-Friendly;  Here Are the Funniest Error Pages on the Web;  Legal trouble in wearables: Jawbone sues Fitbit;  Google’s new goal: Make everything work together;  Sex disease surge in US state partly blamed on hook-up apps;  Screenshot Captor (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How Bad Bots Are Destroying The Internet – The Internet has been described in many different ways over the years. We don’t use the term “information superhighway” much anymore, but a recent report may make you reconsider where and how you cruise around on it, regardless. That’s because a quarter of the cars on this road with you, dear reader, are being driven by mindless bandits looking to steal anything they can. Now, imagine traveling a road like that in the real world. No thanks, I’d rather walk. Last year was the first time in history that bots outnumbered people on the web. According to research from Distil Networks, almost 60% of 2014’s web traffic consisted of automated bits of code, 23% of which exist to do dirty work for fraudsters and hackers.

Protect Your Account With Facebook Security Checkup – You might not care much about your Facebook security beyond having what you believe to be a fairly hard-to-guess password. And that’s fine; most people probably don’t have much to worry about. But in case you need a friendly reminder, Facebook has launched a new “Security Checkup” feature that should give users a bit more of a helping hand for setting up the various security measures that Facebook uses to keep your data safe.

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The new Google Photos is now available for Android, iOS, and the web – Photos organizes your images using powerful face detection and machine learning, and lets you search for photos by keyword even if the photos aren’t tagged in any way. And an “assistant” feature will back up photos to the cloud as soon as you shoot them, then let you know when it’s OK to delete them and free up space on your device. Google has also built in some clever sharing tools to make it easy to drag a box around a few photos and share them with friends with a couple of clicks. Folks worried about Google having access to more of their data will likely be scared away from the new service. But for everyone else, it’s a powerful solution to a real problem — and now it’s free.

This is Android M: what has changed so far – Google has just released preview images of Android M, so naturally everyone tries to get their hands on the latest and would be greatest Android version, regardless of being in a stable state or not. And although this super early version is not yet in its final state, or even in its semi-final state, it is already showing some promise, some interesting changes, and even some rather strange ones. So buckle up while we take a cursory look at some of those changes in Android M.

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Scan documents and whiteboards with your Android smartphone and Microsoft Office Lens – Microsoft completes the trifecta with the full release of Office Lens for Android joining iOS and Windows Phone products.

Five download utilities that can save you time and trouble– With today’s blazing network speeds and multiple platforms to manage, what tools are the best to have at the ready? I’ve listed five download utilities that might well make your daily download duties hassle free. Let’s check out these utilities and see if any are worth adding to your current line up of networking tools.

The Best Smart Home Automation Hubs of 2015 – Smart home automation hubs are a one-stop solution for unifying your connected gadgets and controlling them from one simple app, instead of many. But not all hubs are created equal; different hubs support different connectivity protocols, so it’s important to look for a hub that supports the devices you use. Bluetooth LE, Lutron ClearConnect, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and ZigBee are all popular ways to connect, so you want a hub that supports as many of these standards as possible. Support for IFTTT (If This Then That) is also useful, as it adds even more ways to configure and trigger your connected devices.

Mozilla appears to abandon Firefox tracking protection initiative: Is privacy protection impossible? – Summary:A hidden feature in the open-source Firefox browser can cut load times for modern web pages nearly in half. So why isn’t this feature easy to find and enable? Blame the well-funded online advertising industry.

Here Are the Funniest Error Pages on the Web – From 2016 presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to social networks like Reddit and Google, here are some of most creative 404 sites.

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Amazon Debuts A $99 Kindle Bundle For Kids Including An E-Reader, Cover And Warranty – The Bundle is being sold for $99, which is a savings of $39.98 if all three items were purchased separately, notes Amazon. The Kindle e-reader is designed for books, meaning it doesn’t support apps and games as with Kindle tablets. The device’s 4 GB of storage can hold thousands of books, and stays charged up to four weeks, based on half an hour of reading per day with wireless off. Parents can buy Kindle books from Amazon, which today offers over 250,000 titles, or they can borrow e-books from their public library to use with the device.

Google Opens Inbox To All, Adds Smart Reminders, Trip Bundles, Undo Send And More – Google today announced that Inbox, the Gmail-based mobile email client the company launched late last year, is now open to all. Until today, you still needed an invitation to use the service, though invites have long been pretty easy to come by. Google says it will also open up Inbox to all Google for Works customers (whose admins enable this feature for them) through the early-adopter program starting today.

Microsoft adds Dolby Digital Plus support to Edge, beats Chrome and Firefox to the punch – Microsoft is bringing Dolby Audio support to Edge that will allow websites to deliver high-quality multi-channel audio and it is the first browser to support Dolby Digital Plus.

Screenshots: Microsoft Edge preview – Microsoft Windows 10 will feature a brand new web browser that is technologically superior to Internet Explorer. Here’s a look at the preview version.

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17 Tricks to Master Microsoft PowerPoint – This collection of tips is all about the vagaries of the powerful PowerPoint software itself. It’s meant for those with a grasp of the basics and beyond who are looking for that extra little goose to get the most out of the program. We hope with these tricks—some of which will, inevitably, have some advice for better presentations and slideshows—help make your next speaking engagement even more persuasive. Note, these tips are specific to PowerPoint 2013, the latest version.

Amazon Prime launches free same-day delivery in 14 cities – Should an Amazon Prime member live in one of 14 qualifying metropolitan areas—including the company’s home base of Seattle, along with the Bay area, New York City, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Boston—they can get free same-day delivery on orders of $35 and up. Be advised: you’ll want to check at Amazon’s zip code search site for your own eligibility if you live in a sprawling region; our test of addresses in the Seattle and Dallas/Fort Worth regions proved scattershot.

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Apple offers official workaround for bug that crashes iPhone Messages – Earlier this week, iPhone users discovered that receiving a small string of text characters over Apple’s iMessage service could crash their phone’s Messages app, effectively blocking them from reading incoming texts. Now, in a support document published on Apple’s site, the company has detailed an official workaround for the problem. The company says iPhone owners who’ve been targeted with the string will need to complete the following steps, using Siri to unlock their Messages app:

SourceForge grabs GIMP for Windows’ account, wraps installer in bundle-pushing adware – SourceForge, the code repository site owned by Slashdot Media, has apparently seized control of the account hosting GIMP for Windows on the service, according to e-mails and discussions amongst members of the GIMP community—locking out GIMP’s lead Windows developer. And now anyone downloading the Windows version of the open source image editing tool from SourceForge gets the software wrapped in an installer replete with advertisements.

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Windows 10 signoff is slated for mid July – Microsoft is targeting the middle of July for a signoff of Windows 10 which means that the OS will be in the hands of OEMs by the end of July, if the roadmap stays on schedule.

Google I/O 2015 round-up: the main keynote – Google focuses on Android, development of Internet of Things, Photos, and virtual reality at this year’s Google I/O developer conference. The conference began with a brief introduction to Android M, Google’s next software for mobile devices. From there, they went on to celebrate their first billion user products and the release of Android Pay. Needless to say, this wasn’t a super Chrome-focused sort of day. This was a day of mobile engagement from the start of this first keynote to the end. All about movement and tiny device software.

Security:

Linux/Moose router malware seems to be targeting Facebook logins – ESET security researchers have issued a paper outlining a new variant of router malware, a worm that is stealing social media auth tokens to “like” pages without the user’s consent.

Security vuln allows Android app tampering through single URL click – A severe security flaw has been discovered within device APIs used to develop Android applications. Apache Cordova, developed by The Apache Software Foundation, is a toolkit of device APIs used by mobile app developers to access native device functions including cameras and accelerometer from JavaScript. The APIs provide a Javascript library to invoke different functions, and when used with Cordova, mobile apps can be built using web technologies such as HTML, CSS and Javascript. The service is compatible with the iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Palm WebOS, Bada, and Symbian platforms. In a security bulletin posted this week, Cordova admitted a “major” security issue has been discovered in the API platform.

Yay for Tor! It’s given us RANSOMWARE-as-a-service – Threat Research head Jim Walter says a virus writer has created a ransomware-as-a-service offering which allows luddite criminals to fleece users. Walter discovered the Tox ransomware on an eponymously named Tor hidden service noting the author required a 30 percent cut of paid Bitcoin ransoms. He says Tox is one of the few turnkey ransomware offerings allowing scumbags to key in custom ransom notes in a web form.

Company News:

Setback for Uber as South Korea Bans Private Taxis – In a largely symbolic move that appears to be aimed directly at Uber’s cheap UberX service, South Korea passed legislation on Friday banning unlicensed drivers from providing taxi services — becoming the first country to institute a nationwide prohibition of the practice.

Wi-Fi chip maker Broadcom to be acquired in a $37-billion deal – Avago Technologies has agreed to buy Broadcom in a deal that will create a networking chip giant with a wide variety of products, including components for the burgeoning Internet of Things sector. It has offered US$37 billion for Broadcom, including $17 billion in cash and equity valued at approximately $20 billion, it said on Thursday. The combined company will offer products for wired and wireless networks.

Amazon plans on selling its own brand of groceries – Amazon wants to completely replace your supermarket. Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that the company plans on selling its own private line of perishable foods, including milk, cereal, and baby food. The move expands on the e-commerce site’s other private label brands, and could help position it as a one-stop shop for all consumers’ deliverable needs.

Alibaba Expands Logistics Network To Power Next-Day Grocery Deliveries In More Chinese Cities – Over the past two years, groceries have become an increasingly important segment for Chinese e-commerce companies. Now Alibaba, which is facing slowing growth despite its leading market position, is ramping up the growth of its countrywide logistics network to power next-day deliveries.

Google Reveals Plan To Get Android Powering Internet Of Things Devices – Today at Google I/O 2015 Google detailed its plan to roll Android into the home and everyday devices. Meet Brillo and Weave. Together, these two software products will power and allow Internet of Things devices. Brillo builds in the ability for device managers and hardware owners to control multiple devices from a centralized software location. Weave is the communication layer that sits between Brillo devices, the cloud and devices like phones or tablets. This allows devices to talk to each other. Since Brillo and Weave are built around Android, it allowed Google to design a new way to set up these devices.

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Legal trouble in wearables: Jawbone sues Fitbit – The intense rivalry in the wearables market has spilled over into court with Jawbone accusing rival Fitbit of “systematically plundering” its employees, trade secrets and intellectual property. In a suit filed in San Francisco against Fitbit and five employees, Jawbone said that beginning this year, Fitbit recruiters contacted about 30 percent of Jawbone’s employees and induced at least five employees to join the company.

Japan remains Google Play’s top country by revenue – App Annie has said the vast majority of revenue on Google Play is made from Japan, the United States, and South Korea

Games and Entertainment:

Twitch no longer allows streaming of Adults Only-rated games – The popular video game streaming service Twitch has announced that it will no longer permit users to stream games that have received the AO, or ‘Adults Only,’ rating from the US’s Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). This change was revealed on Twitch’s official blog, and is part of an update to the service’s rules of conduct. The company says it has a goal of creating “a safe, welcoming, inclusive community platform where everyone can feel comfortable and have fun.”

Google Play Gets More Family-Friendly With Content Ratings, Filtering By Age And Interest – Parents searching Google’s mobile app store will now be able to tap on a new “Family” button indicated with a green, smiley faced star icon in order to find the family-friendly content across apps, games, movies and TV homepages. There’s also a “Children’s Books” button on the Books homepage, where parents can also filter the selection by age range and genre.

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Microsoft is updating the Xbox One controller with a 3.5mm headset port – Microsoft’s Xbox Support site now includes references to a 3.5mm audio port on Xbox One “controllers released after June 2015”, hinting at a revised controller being launched at E3 next month.

Capcom removes Ultra Street Fighter 4 from tournament, blames Sony for bugs – Following the recent news that the release of Ultra Street Fighter IV for the PlayStation 4 has a large number of bugs and glitches, the game’s developer Capcom has said that it will be pulled from the official Street Fighter tournaments, taking place this summer. Among the problems with USF4 reported, including audio issues and animation problems, the most damaging has been input lag, or delays between button presses and in-game movements/actions. As Street Fighter is built on some of the most precise timing mechanisms, lag of this sort would be devastating during a tournament.

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Nintendo’s first true online shooter—Splatoon—is a hot, painted mess – There is absolutely fun to be had in a good Splatoon battle, but the catch here is the future tense. Splatoon reveals more than a few signs of immaturity in the online gaming space, but its worse offense sees Nintendo catching up, unfortunately, with another big gaming trend of late. This is yet another retail launch of an unfinished game. The version of Splatoon we’d like to play—different from the one people are about to spend $60 on—evidently hasn’t been made yet.

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The tech that’s putting women in EA’s FIFA games for the first time – This morning, Electronic Arts announced that this year’s version of its FIFA soccer franchise would be the first ever to include female players. Twelve international women’s teams will be added to the game for FIFA 16 after over 20 years of the games featuring only male players. At a preview event for the game, FIFA Senior Producer Nick Shannon told Ars that the change is “one of the most important additions, in my opinion, we’ve ever made. I’m the father of two daughters who both play soccer, and for them, this is probably the best feature we’ve ever added.”

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‘Game of Thrones’ drives traffic spike for HBO — and dings Netflix – A twice-yearly Internet traffic report provides a peek at how the season premiere of the hit fantasy series boosted viewership of HBO’s online services.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s new goal: Make everything work together – The search giant has found a new purpose in all our lives: Bringing together the various products and services we use to work together as easily as possible.

9 tech companies’ earliest website designs – In many ways, a website serves as most companies’ digital fingerprint. While some corporate websites are merely gateways to buy and learn about new products (e.g., Apple), others may entirely define what a company is (e.g., Facebook). That said, it’s always fun to take a trip back in time and explore what the digital fingerprints of yore looked like. Here are what some of the earliest tech company websites looked like when they first launched.

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Sex disease surge in US state partly blamed on hook-up apps – Authorities undecided on name: Sexual health scare 2.0 or Clap from an App. – Tinder, Grindr and other mobile “hook-up” apps have been blamed for a spike in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the US state of Rhode Island.. From 2013 to 2014, infections of syphilis increased by 79 per cent, gonorrhea cases rose 30 per cent and new HIV diagnosis increased by about a third, according to data from the Rhode Island Department of Health. Hook-up apps may be partially to blame, according to officials, who also noted that other “high risk” behaviours and better medical testing may be also be factors in the rise.

Watch This Drone’s Unfortunate Encounter With a Goose – In a video posted by RTV NH, a media production company in Holland, a goose appears to smash into a drone (potentially on purpose). Thankfully, both the drone and the goose seemingly end the encounter unscathed. In case you were wondering, the bird is an Egyptian Goose, which is known for being territorial. The drone was capturing images of Oudorperpolder, in the city of Alkmaar, according to The Daily Mail.

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Periscope live tour held by The British Museum – Periscope is a livestreaming service, and it can be used for more than piracy and vlogs. Case in point: the British Museum gave a live broadcast of an exhibit earlier today using Periscope, and we can only hope it’ll be doing more of them in the future. This makes it easier than ever to tune into live events from iOS or Android (which is now supported) devices, the same device users can use to broadcast their own events. In the case of The British Museum, Periscope was used to offer an exclusive live guided tour for people scattered around the world.

StereoLabs announces huge hardware breakthrough: Human vision – Summary:Earlier this month, a Bay Area startup called ​StereoLabs quietly introduced the first affordable high definition stereo camera. This is a big deal, and autonomous machines will never be the same. Here’s why.

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Photo Courtesy of StereoLabs

Airbnb Express parody gets into the dark side of home sharing – Comedy troupe Above Average released a promo video for Airbnb Express, which lets you pay to go through other people’s belongings without having to sleep in their beds. Watch the video then be sure to hide your Crocs, bongs and vibrators better the next time you have strangers invading the house for a night.

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How TIME Explained the Way Computers Work – When Alan Turing submitted his paper On Computable Numbers to the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society on this day, May 28, in 1936, he could not have guessed that it would lead not only to the computer as we know it today, but also nearly all of the gadgets and devices that are so crucial a part of our lives. The paper demonstrated that a so-called Turing Machine could perform solvable computations, a proof that is commonly seen as one of the original stepping stones toward the existence of modern computers. Though Turing, who died in 1954, never got to see a smartphone, his paper remains the touchstone behind the technology.

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The Feb. 20, 1978, cover of TIME

Something to think about:

“Contrary to popular belief, I don’t spend a whole lot of time following soccer. But as I have traveled around the world to better understand global development and health, I’ve learned that soccer is truly universal. No matter where I go, that’s what kids are playing. That’s what people are talking about.”

–      Bill Gates

Today’s Free Downloads:

Screenshot Captor – Screenshot Captor was designed for grabbing screenshots with minimal intervention.

Screenshot Captor has great multimon suport and includes a full image explorer with full shell functionality and unsurpassed integration with external tools like graphic editors, watermarkers, etc.

Screenshot Captor also supports unique effects not seen in other capture tools, including the ability to automatically locate and enhance the active window.

Supports tons of image capture methods, including full screen, multimon workspace, arbitrary regions, fixed sized areas, or gdi objects. Suppors gif, png, jpg, tiff and others. Easily embeds user coments in any image type.

Features:

Optimized for taking lots of screenshots with minimal intervention – super efficient workflow.

Smart autonaming of files, and ability to embed textual comments in files; automatic image file versioning – with tons of options for automatically naming the file and inserting comments.

Great multi-monitor support.

Highly configurable to make it work the way you want it to; stays out of your way in the system tray.

Lots of capture modes: Multimon, Desktop, Active Window, Region, Windows Object. Each mode has a hotkey for quick access.

Unique Cool Effects, including automatic active window enhancement (see picture below).

Unsurpassed support for 3rd party user configurable tools, including file browsers and image editors; extend the program to do whatever you need b interfacing it with other programs.

Slimline sidebar file browser provides full shell operations, with special quick MoveTo menu.

Optional automatic image file versioning.

Seamless integration with Unicode Image Maker tool.

Autoscroll capture for windows too big for screen, and windows object capture for menus, toolbars, and buttons.

Deluxe thumbnail maker.

Quick Email sending menu using smtp or mapi (remembers who you sent to so you can send to them again super easy).

Automatically finds boundaries of non-rectangular/themed windows.

Autoscroll capture for windows too big for screen.

Deluxe thumbnail maker.

Quick PostCapture PopUp Dialog.

Quick Screenshot Emailer Menu.

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Windows Firewall Control – Windows Firewall Control is a nifty little application which extends the functionality of the Windows Firewall and provides quick access to the most frequent options of Windows Firewall. It runs in the system tray and allows user to control the native firewall easily without having to waste time by navigating to the specific part of the firewall. This is the best tool to manage the native firewall from Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Features:

Intuitive and easy accessible interface in the system tray.

Full support with standard user accounts. Elevated privileges are required only at installation.

Create temporary rules which are automatically deleted when they expire or on program restart.

Disable the ability of other programs to add Windows Firewall rules.

Multiple and easier ways of creating new rules in Windows Firewall.

Full support of creating, modifying and deleting Window Firewall rules.

Lock feature which can disable the access to the settings of the program and Windows Firewall.

Shell integration into the right click context menu of the executable files.

Search for invalid rules with the possibility to delete them.

Search for executable files through folders and create new rules in seconds.

View recently blocked connections and create new rules from the logs: inbound and outbound.

Choose if you want the program to start at user logon.

Import and export the settings of the program.

Protection to unauthorized uninstallation.

Possibility to restore previous settings at uninstallation.

And many more. Just try it out.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Keep an eye on Congress and contact your reps with Countable – Unless you spend your free time watching hours of C-SPAN, the odds are you aren’t too keenly aware of the inner workings of Congress and instead rely on hysterical headlines from MSNBC, Fox News and other news outlets to keep you informed. With Countable, you can stay better informed of the bills making their way through Congress and cast yea or nay votes to make your voice heard. Countable also lets you see how your representatives have voted and makes it easy to contact them. You can access Countable on the Web or use the Countable iPhone app or Android app.

UN says encryption “necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom” – The United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner released a report Thursday heralding encryption, but it was wishy-washy when it came to government-mandated backdoors to undermine encryption.

The report said:

Encryption and anonymity, and the security concepts behind them, provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age. Such security may be essential for the exercise of other rights, including economic rights, privacy, due process, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and the right to life and bodily integrity.

This isn’t the first time the UN weighed in on the digital age. In 2011, it declared Internet access a human right.

The latest report, by special rapporteur David Kaye, comes amid government calls—from the United States to Europe—for technology companies to provide authorities so-called backdoor access into encrypted apps and services.

Australia: Government wants piracy site-blocking Bill passed in June – Australian Attorney-General George Brandis has told Senate Estimates the Australian government wants its legislation to block piracy sites passed before the end of June.

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7 Comments

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

7 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – May 29, 2015

  1. I agree with the first paragraph. There are sooo many bad bots out there that help people hack into websites. How are those things allowed to keep existing? I did NOT know that they outnumber people though. Makes sense. Thanks for this post!

  2. Securing Facebook.
    For those using Avast Antivirus, under your my.avast.com account, there is already a service that can point out and allow you to fix your Facebook insecurities: