Monthly Archives: June 2015

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 29, 2015

Need to lock down your phone? These security apps are some of the best;  12 high tech devices to monitor your kids’ health;  10+ Apple Music tips you’ll use;  Netflix Bigger Than Major Broadcast Networks (Sort of);  6 things to consider when choosing a streaming-music subscription;  41 percent of Americans say people and dinosaurs co-existed;  Passwords 101;  Chevy Will Text You if Your Car Is Stolen;  What to look for in a password manager;  Facebook’s Snapchatty New Photo Uploader Lets You Overlay Text And More;  NFC security: 3 ways to avoid being hacked;  The Tech Industry Is In Denial, But The Bubble Is About To Burst;  Man shoots down neighbor’s hexacopter;  Get the whole history of the Internet at a glance;  WinPatrol (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Need to lock down your phone? These security apps are some of the best – From encrypted instant messengers to secure browsers, these security and privacy apps are some of the very best for protecting your devices.


Passwords 101 – Passwords guard your most private and sensitive information. Here’s how to make sure they’re strong enough for the job.

What to look for in a password manager – Why use a password manager? Because it’s one of the best apps you can invest in, saving you time and protecting all the accounts you need a password for. A good password manager generates and stores passwords and makes it easy to change them. Many managers offer other features, like filling in your information in online forms. However, not every password manager is worth its weight in code. To be truly useful, a password manager must provide good password generation, industry-standard AES-256 encryption (and ideally two-factor authentication), autofill options, and cross-platform compatibility.

6 things to consider when choosing a streaming-music subscription – By our count, there are at least 11 subscription music services available around the world: Spotify, Rdio, Apple Music, Rhapsody, Google Play Music, Tidal, Xbox Music, Deezer, Napster, Mog and Rara. But despite all the options, they’re all pretty similar — you typically pay around $10 per month for unlimited streaming on the Web, mobile and at home. With a still-growing array of streaming services, it can be tough to decide which one to pick.  Here are the key questions you should ponder before you decide.

What is FLAC? The high-def MP3 explained – CNET explains what FLAC is, as well as where to buy music in the FLAC format, and how to play it on your iPhone, computer, or MP3 player.


FLAC is a music format that offers true CD quality and is playable on everything from Sonos to iOS. Sarah Tew/CNET

12 high tech devices to monitor your kids’ health – Digital health has been especially disruptive in pediatrics by giving parents and doctors more transparency about their children’s health and habits. Here are 10 examples.


Find duplicate photos: Two utilities that can help – Duplicate Cleaner and Free Duplicate Photo Finder can both sift through your digital images for identical or similar ones, but there are limitations to the free versions.

10+ Apple Music tips you’ll use – Apple Music is an ecosystem of complementary products and services, spanning a la carte music downloads, music streaming, social and artist to fan contact, radio stations including Beats 1 and both algorithmic and human-curated music recommendations. Some tips:


Apple Music’s interface seems pretty simple.

iOS 9 Low Power Mode Cuts Performance by 40 Percent – That sounds like a lot on paper, but it might not matter to those who are just using their devices to read email or casually browse the Web. If you’re a mobile gamer, you might be a little less thrilled. We have yet to see the Low Power Mode tested on real-world apps, so it’s unclear just what that kind of a hit would translate to for today’s top titles.

Dutch court wants expert to hunt Facebook’s systems for lost revenge porn data – A Dutch court won’t take Facebook’s word it has deleted data that could identify the person behind a now-deleted pseudonymous account from which a sex tape was posted, and wants the company to allow an independent expert to scour its systems for the missing information.

Facebook’s Snapchatty New Photo Uploader Lets You Overlay Text And More – If putting text, swipeable filters, and re-sizable emoji on photos sounds familiar, it might be because that’s exactly what Snapchat does. Since Facebook’s failed acquisition bid, it’s watched Snapchat grow and grow. Its attempts to clone Snapchat as a whole, Poke and Slingshot, have failed. Meanwhile, Japanese messaging app Line has gotten big on the back of stickers. So Facebook’s simply trying to bake the best of everything else into its own.


Add overlaid text to Facebook photos with the new uploader

Why you should try the Microsoft Sway presentation app right now – Here’s how it all works. Let’s say you want to communicate about a new business product in a way that has some graphic flare. Of course, you can hire a designer who knows how to build a website in HTML or shoot a video and post it on YouTube. Sway combines these activities into one tool that is so easy to use, it’s almost like making a greeting card using one of those free tools from HP. You add in a few elements — a chart, a video, a headline — and publish.


Credit: Microsoft

Survey finds 40% of businesses want to adopt Windows 10 in the first year – According to data from a recent survey, a large number of businesses are interested and looking to adopt Windows 10. If this is true, Microsoft could be in for a very big win with the new OS. But the good news doesn’t stop there, as 40% of businesses reportedly want to upgrade to Windows 10 in the first year after launch, with another 33% wanting to jump onboard in the following 12 months.

Add a Rainbow to Your Facebook Profile Photo With One Click – The social network has launched a new tool which lets you add a rainbow filter to your profile photo with a single click. Just head over to Facebook’s new Celebrate Pride page, and you’ll see a preview of your profile photo with the transparent rainbow overlay. If you like how it looks, click the button “use as profile picture” and voila — Facebook will automatically update your profile photo.

Microsoft: Windows 10 phones in the “flagship, high-end segment” are coming to India – Microsoft’s recent focus on lower-end devices has worked well for it in some markets, including India, but the company says it will launch new high-end Windows 10 Mobile handsets there this year.


NFC security: 3 ways to avoid being hacked – More than a billion phones will be equipped with near-field communications technology in 2015, potentially opening up new vectors for attack.


Samsung caves and patches its software to re-enable Windows Update – After users discovered what Samsung was up to, the company finally caved and decided to do the right thing and keep its users safe – by re-enabling Windows Update on its devices.

Chevy Will Text You if Your Car Is Stolen – The car maker this week announced a new OnStar feature, dubbed Theft Alarm Notification, which will alert drivers in real-time via text, email, or phone call if their car has been stolen. The service will be available to all eligible OnStar subscribers later this summer, Chevy said. Theft Alarm Notification builds on Chevy’s existing OnStar security features like remote ignition block, which can prevent a stolen car from starting. Chevy said that if a “properly equipped” vehicle is stolen, its OnStar advisors will work with local authorities to pinpoint its location via GPS. In certain models, advisors can even send a signal to slow down a stolen vehicle to help police officers retrieve it, and potentially prevent a high-speed chase.


Facebook, Kaspersky tag team in social network malware crackdown – The companies are working together to keep users safe from phishing campaigns, data theft and malware infection.


If malware has been detected on your PC, you will be offered a free download of Kaspersky’s cleaner tool.

Software developers aren’t implementing encryption correctly – Despite a big push over the past few years to use encryption to combat security breaches, lack of expertise among developers and overly complex libraries have led to widespread implementation failures in business applications. The scale of the problem is significant. Cryptographic issues are the second most common type of flaws affecting applications across all industries, according to a report this week by application security firm Veracode.

Company News:

Police start seizing Uber cars in France – The clash between Uber drivers and taxi drivers in France became very serious this week, including everything from blocking transportation routes to the alleged dropped of bricks onto Uber cars from overpasses. Today the nation’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called Uber “arrogant” following his order yesterday for police officers in Paris to seize any UberPOP vehicles that are operating despite the ban. Legal action has also been filed against UberPOP mangers in France.


Security Firm Sophos Raises $125M In UK IPO, Valuing It At $1.6B – As malicious hacks, data breaches and other forms of cyber crime continue to persist in our networked, Internet-connected world, Sophos, a maker of antivirus software, firewall hardware and other security products for networks, individual users and servers, is going public on the London Stock Exchange. Trading now as Sophos Group plc and using the “SOPH” ticker, the company sold 34.8% of its shares at 225 pence each (or 156,521,740 shares), raising $125 million on a valuation of £1.013 billion ($1.6 billion) — making it the latest tech “unicorn” to come out of the UK.

With the transition to Windows as a service, Microsoft changes up revenue recognition – When Microsoft releases Windows 10 this summer, it will represent a shift in how the company has traditionally sold its OS. From a revenue recognition perspective, Windows will transition from a single point of sale model to a deferred revenue model because Windows 10 will be delivering software updates and features over time. Microsoft released a new PowerPoint deck, which you can find at the link below, which details how the company will adjust its revenue reporting because of this change. The biggest change is that deferred revenue will show up under the Corporate and Other line of the quarterly earnings statement.

Apple starts production of Force Touch enabled iPhones – It seems that Apple has decided to start the production of its expected new smartphones early. Insider sources have revealed that the company has just gotten the ball rolling in making the next iPhones and have also revealed the one major feature that will set it apart from its predecessors. Confirming earlier rumors, these iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, as they are believed to be called, will feature Apple’s fancy new Force Touch feature, bringing pressure sensitivity to a larger screen and to a larger scale of devices.

Games and Entertainment:

Apple says oops, starts returning games with confederate flag – Apple upset many when it began pulling games from the App Store that included depictions of confederate flags, a move that appeared to be an overreaction to the current movement by businesses and state governments to nix the flag. Apps were removed that included the flag for educational or historical reasons, such as historical games that included confederate flags as a necessary part of being accurate. Fortunately this nonsense was short lived, and Apple has reversed some of its bans.

TechSpot: Batman: Arkham Knight Benchmarked, Performance Review – Countless PC gamers, whether Nvidia or AMD users, have expressed anger about Arkham Knight’s performance with reports of constant stuttering ruining gameplay. Here’s our take.


One more quest: How mobile gaming reshaped online RPGs – Smartphone and tablets have changed the landscape for gaming. For one, it has made a gamer out of those who would have never even imagined playing a PC or console game, much less consider themselves a gamer. But even for those who have already been whiling away hours in front of the TV or the monitor, the culture of mobile has also changed a few things. Take for example the corner of the gaming world known as online RPGs and how the ubiquity of smartphones have somewhat redefined that genre, for better or for worse.


Zenonia S

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ review: See how this card unleashes Maxwell’s true power – Move over, Titan X. Sit down, Fury X. EVGA’s customized version of the beastly GTX 980 Ti is the most potent single-GPU graphics card that’s ever graced PCWorld’s test bench.


Details about the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+’s ACX 2.0+ cooling solution.

Netflix Bigger Than Major Broadcast Networks (Sort of) – How much content do people stream online? A lot. How much of that is Netflix? An enormous amount. And how much do people watch Netflix compared to standard TV channels? The answer might surprise you. According to Variety, Netflix gets enough daily eyeballs that, if it were a traditional broadcast network, it would be bigger than Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Tech Industry Is In Denial, But The Bubble Is About To Burst – Euphoric reaction to superstar tech businesses is rampant — so much so that the tech industry is in denial about looming threats. The tech industry is in a bubble, and there are sufficient indicators for those willing to open their eyes. Rearing unicorns, however, is a distracting fascination.


2016 Audi TT/TTS and Q7 Virtual Cockpit First-Drive – I’m not going to lie, I feel pretty damn lucky to be one of a handful of American press with the privilege of experiencing Audi’s Virtual Cockpit in the new TT/TTS and Q7. The opportunity to drive the TTS around Ascari racetrack was nothing short of exhilarating – especially with Virtual Cockpit getting me ready me for turns far in advance. Then, after experiencing Audi’s technology on the track, Audi invited me over to Verbier, Switzerland to test the all-new 2016 Q7, also equipped with Virtual Cockpit, in the way that most drivers will experience it.


Two self-driving cars’ near collision ‘taken out of context’ – Recently Reuters said that two self-driving cars from rival companies, Google and Delphi, were involved in a near collision when one of Google’s self-driving cars cut off one of Delphi’s autonomous vehicles. The story went viral quickly, not surprising given some of the fear mongering surrounding cars that can drive themselves. The whole thing was taken out of context, though, says a Delphi spokeswoman. Rather than being as sensational as it sounded, it was simply an example of autonomous vehicles doing exactly what we want them to do.

Flintstone facts? 41 percent of Americans say people and dinosaurs co-existed – “Jurassic World” may have been a documentary as far as millions of Americans are concerned. A recent survey by YouGov — a for-profit research firm that conducts all sorts of online polls — found that 41 percent of those queried think dinosaurs and humans “probably” or “definitely” once co-existed on Earth at the same time. The online poll (PDF) of 1,000 adults was conducted between June 15 and 17 and has a 4.4 percent plus-or-minus margin of error.


Man shoots down neighbor’s hexacopter in rural drone shotgun battle – While we’ve heard of consumer drones getting in the way of commercial airliners and obstructing firefighting operations, we haven’t heard of many drones being shot out of the sky by a neighbor. But according to one drone pilot, that’s exactly what occurred in Modesto, California on November 28, 2014. That day, Eric Joe skipped Black Friday lines and instead went home to visit his parents. During the afternoon, Joe flew what he described to Ars as a homemade hexacopter drone. His aerial device hovered low and moved slow, logging just three and a half minutes of flight time in total. Then, bang. A loud boom rang out over the neighboring walnut trees.


This is the drone in question. Eric Joe

Lexus has created a hoverboard – Get ready to turn on your self-lacing Mags because you’re about to go on a ride over 15 years in the making. Lexus has seemingly done the impossible and made actual working hoverboard! Simply called “Slide,” the futuristic levitating device might seem magical to some, but it’s hardcore science that powers the board and keeps it off the ground. According to Lexus’ website, a combination of liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and magnets are used to keep it afloat.


Get the whole history of the Internet at a glance – From a Russian satellite to the death of Internet Explorer, a new infographic takes you through a succinct timeline of the journey the Web has taken over the last 58 years.


Tech throws its weight behind same-sex marriage ruling … with rainbows and emojis – Companies are voicing support for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling across social media. Facebook has even released a filter for overlaying a rainbow on profile pictures.

Stephen Colbert mocks Justices (the four who dissented in gay-marriage ruling) – Technically Incorrect: He couldn’t resist. He has a new show to sell. Colbert posts his reaction to the Supreme Court decision within hours of its announcement.


US geek takes on the wacky world of British technology – A trip to the UK takes CNET writer Amanda Kooser through a world of British tech quirks, full of baffling toilet buttons and an alphabet soup of cellular networks.

Something to think about:

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

–      Ernest Hemingway

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinPatrol – WinPatrol takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without your knowledge. WinPatrol was the pioneer in using a heuristic behavioral approach to detecting attacks and violations of your computing environment. Now, using our “Cloud” technology you can benefit from the experience of other WinPatrol users. WinPatrol continues to be the most powerful system monitor for its small memory footprint.

WinPatrol’s easy tabbed interface allows you to explore deep inside your computer without having to be a computer expert. A one-time investment in WinPatrol PLUS provides a unique experience you won’t find in any other software.

WinPatrol PLUS is a great investment!

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Classic Shell 4.2.2 Beta / 4.2.1 – Classic Shell is free software that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it.

The main features are:

Highly customizable start menu with multiple styles and skins

Quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs

Find programs, settings, files and documents

Start button for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer

Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US tech companies still not doing enough to help police and spies, claims UK – US tech companies are not doing enough to help UK police and intelligence agencies by handing over their customers’ data and communications, according to a government expert.

A report by Nigel Sheinwald, the Prime Minister’s ‘special envoy on intelligence and law enforcement data sharing’ said that UK law enforcement still struggles to get access to information it requires.

He said that since September last year, UK law enforcement has worked with the companies on the most urgent requests, particularly in the areas of counter-terrorism and other threat-to-life and child-protection cases and noted: “The companies’ assistance in these cases has improved, showing the value of active engagement with them.”

But he added: “Cooperation remains incomplete, and the companies and governments concerned agree that we need to work on longer term solutions.”

Last year Shienwald was given the job of trying to persuade foreign governments, and US communications companies in particular, to give UK police and intelligence agencies more access to their data, in order to tackle threats to national security or for the “prevention or detection of serious crime.”

Australian telcos face more national security regulation – While the Australian telecommunications industry struggles to meet tight deadlines to comply with the mandatory data-retention scheme, the government has announced another round of national security legislation targeting telecommunications carriers in Australia, this time giving the Attorney-General’s Department greater control, access, and oversight of telecommunications networks.

The draft (PDF) of another amendment to the Telecommunications Act released by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday afternoon outlined plans to introduce the legislation later this year.

The secretary of the department will also be able to issue telcos with a direction to refrain from undertaking certain activity on their networks, after consultation with the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Department of Communications secretary.

The secretary can also write to telcos and force them to hand over information in the format of the secretary’s choosing, or face fines. This information can then be shared with anybody by the secretary, provided it relates to assessing the risk of unauthorised interference with or access to telecommunications networks, or is for “the purposes of security.”

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – June 26, 2015

Take Control of Your Google Privacy;  The best tool for protecting your kids (or employees) from malware and porn;  25 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  Amazon’s latest freebie fest gives away $50 in Android apps and games;  3 Google Drive add-ons that improve collaboration;  Microsoft Office finally comes to Android phones;  Archos $99 PC Stick is latest Windows computer;  A Facebook account is no longer needed for Messenger;  Stream music from your PC to almost any device with this free tool;  6 Secret Tricks You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do;  US claims progress with China over cybersecurity concerns;  Australian ISP admits giving customer phone numbers to websites;  Apple removes Civil War games featuring Confederate flag from App Store;  Xbox Games with Gold for July: ‘Assassin’s Creed IV,’ ‘Gears of War 3’ and more;  Watch Bill Nye explain climate change in 90 seconds using emoji;  France Adopts Extensive Surveillance Law;  Avast! Browser Cleanup (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Take Control of Your Google Privacy – As Google again updates its policy, dig into its new account dashboard and take back what power over privacy you can.

The best tool for protecting your kids (or employees) from malware and porn – I don’t have bad kids. But my kids, perhaps like yours, don’t understand that searching for kitten pictures may not return the results they actually want. They don’t know just how much the pornography industry wants to hook them early. They don’t realize just how creepy people can be when cloaked in apparent anonymity. And so I started trying to help them grow up safely in a world that was trying to force them to grow up way too early. In the process, I’ve discovered a variety of tools that help me to teach my children to be responsible with technology. Perhaps the most promising, and most recent, is the OpenDNS Umbrella service.

25 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 25 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

A Facebook account is no longer needed for Messenger – Facebook wants to squeeze as much growth as it can out of its popular Messenger app, even if that means forgoing Facebook. Previously, people had to sign up for Messenger with their Facebook account. Now, in a few countries, it can be done with just a mobile telephone number. In the U.S., Canada, Peru and Venezuela, users who sign up this way can allow the app to sync with the contacts on their phone so they can easily find people to message. Messenger isn’t turning into an anonymous chat app, though. Along with the phone number, your name and photo are still needed to complete the sign-up process.


Amazon’s latest freebie fest gives away $50 in Android apps and games – The excellent Monument Valley and smart forecast app Weather Live are yours for the taking from Amazon’s grab bag. About every few months Amazon puts a bunch of paid apps and games on sale. The goal is to get you to check out its alternative Amazon Appstore and get invested in the ecosystem. With a bunch of paid apps and games for free Amazon hopes you’ll buy future apps from them instead of Google Play.

3 Google Drive add-ons that improve collaboration: Hello Sign, Workflows, DocSecrets – Google Docs has matured into the go-to productivity suite for document collaboration, thanks to an abundance of tools that manage what can easily become a messy process. But even with features like revision history, commenting, and real-time chat, there are a few common collaboration requirements Docs doesn’t yet address. Fortunately, these holes can be filled with some key add-ons.

Archos $99 PC Stick is latest Windows computer that fits in your pocket – The French device maker joins Lenovo and Intel in offering a miniature system that connects to your HDTV via HDMI, but its version is cheaper and will ship with Windows 10 pre-installed.


Stream music from your PC to almost any device with this free tool – Stream What You Hear provides an easy way to stream music from your PC to your phone or TV.

Microsoft Office finally comes to Android phones – Microsoft Office for Android phones is here. At last, Android users can maximize productivity as well as iOS and Windows Phone users. Until now, if Android users had Office 365 they could use Office Mobile, which was pretty basic. With the new apps, Office 365 users still get an advantage. (Otherwise what would be point of the subscription fee?) While the apps are free to all users, the people without 365 accounts will be limited to opening, editing, and saving files. 365 members will have functionality that almost mirrors the full PC versions. For example, subscribers get a button in the Word for Android app that brings up a pop-up tool tray where you can make changes to layout, format, paragraphs, headers, footers and more without ever having to leave the document.


Ear.IQ customizes your music to better fit the way you hear – Your hearing can be as unique as your fingerprint. The freemium version of Ear.IQ will offer limited calibration tools and a simpler hearing test for audio improvement. In-app purchases will allow users to couple more than one device and add different profiles for different devices, so they can have one profile for headphones and a different one for a car’s sound system. For $19.99, users can get the pro version, which comes with premium calibration tools, unlimited device coupling, and all the in-app purchases included.

Pro tip: Find your lost phone with the help of Google search – If you frequently misplace your phone, Google can easily come to the rescue with a quick search. Jack Wallen shows you how.

Tumblr Launches “Tumblr TV,” A GIF Search Engine With A Full-Screen Viewing Mode – Following the rollout of Tumblr’s GIF search engine earlier this month, the blogging platform is today launching another new feature aimed at helping users discover and share GIFs: Tumblr TV. The addition is a combination of a search and viewing feature for GIFs, which helps you find the animated images housed on Tumblr and then view them in a full-screen mode.


Bing adds more depth to its homepage with audio effects – Starting today, when you head to Bing, you can also hear the audio from a video showing on the homepage as well. The feature, which you have to turn on by clicking the audio button in the bottom right corner, adds another layer to the homepage to help separate it from the competition.


6 Secret Tricks You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do – The iPhone always seems to have a new trick up its sleeve. Tucked away in the device’s myriad menus, there’s probably a setting or two you’ve never played with that could make the device even more useful. That’s to say nothing of the numerous gesture-based controls Apple tucks away in its mobile operating system, many of which may not be readily apparent. Chances are you could be typing faster, taking better pictures and noticing more texts with these hidden wonders. Here, we uncover six lesser-known iPhone tricks that you can use every day:


US claims progress with China over cybersecurity concerns – China told the US it was ready to cooperate on cybersecurity issues. But can the two sides really play nice after years of tension and accusations?

Cisco warns of default SSH keys shipped in three products – Cisco Systems said Thursday it released a patch for three products that shipped with default encryption keys, posing a risk that an attacker with the keys could decrypt data traffic. The products are Cisco’s Web Security Virtual Appliance, Email Security Virtual Appliance and Security Management Virtual Appliance, it said in an advisory. Versions downloaded before Thursday are vulnerable.

Google eavesdropping tool installed on computers without permission – Privacy campaigners and open source developers are up in arms over the secret installing of Google software which is capable of listening in on conversations held in front of a computer. First spotted by open source developers, the Chromium browser – the open source basis for Google’s Chrome – began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users. It was designed to support Chrome’s new “OK, Google” hotword detection – which makes the computer respond when you talk to it – but was installed, and, some users have claimed, it is activated on computers without their permission. (recommended by Bob S.)

Google removes “always listening” code from Chromium – After including closed-source code that enabled Chromium to listen in to a computer’s microphone, Google bowed to backlash and removed it from the open-source browser.

Security researcher casually drops Adobe Reader, Windows critical vulnerability bomb – A Google Project Zero researcher has revealed the existence of 15 vulnerabilities in the software, including critical issues and one exploit which may completely bypass all system defense.

Report Suggests Young People May Abandon Social Media If Privacy Breaches Continue – In a report released this week (oddly) by USA Network, survey data shows that 55 percent of young people would eschew social media entirely “if they could start fresh.” Additionally, if major breaches of their privacy were to continue, 75 percent of young people said they were at least “somewhat likely” to deactivate their personal social media accounts, with 23 percent saying they were “highly likely” to do so. Young Americans’ sense of privacy online has been so violated that most of them believe that it’s safer to store their personal data in a box than in the cloud. Indeed, the survey said that physical filing systems were actually listed as the “most trusted” personal data storage method for young people.

Australian ISP admits giving customer phone numbers to websites – The Australian Internet service provider (ISP), Optus, has been providing the mobile phone numbers of customers to websites they have accessed. Optus has defended the practice, claiming personal details are only provided to trusted partners. “When consumers browse the internet, information about the device they’re using is passed onto website owners in order to optimise websites for those users,” an Optus spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Mashable Australia. “Optus adds our customer’s mobile number to the information in select circumstances where we have a commercial relationship with owners of particular websites. This is only done with trusted partners where user authentication is required.” (recommended by Mal C.)

Java updater dumps Ask toolbar adware, replaces it with Yahoo search – Oracle and Ask may have parted ways, but Java security updates are still seen as good marketing opportunities for search providers looking to increase market share.


Trojan that hides inside images infects healthcare organizations – According to a recent report from Dell SecureWorks, the Trojan is designed to steal files, information and passwords from infected systems, but has additional modules that extend its functionality. During the Stegoloader infection process, a temporary deployment component downloads a PNG file from the Internet. This is a functional image file, but hidden inside, among its pixels, are small bits of encrypted code that get extracted and are used to reconstruct the Trojan’s main module. Neither the PNG image or the Trojan’s main module are ever saved to disk. Instead, the whole process happens in the computer’s memory and the Trojan is loaded directly into memory as well.

Stolen US government passwords leaked across Web – A CIA-backed startup has discovered login credentials and passwords for 47 US government agencies littered across the Internet — leaving federal agencies potentially at risk of cyberattack. Recorded Future, a Boston-based data mining firm backed by the CIA’s venture capital arm, said in a research report that credentials belonging to 47 US government agencies have been found across 89 unique domains.

Company News:

Google, Microsoft among biggest IT industry lobbyists at European Commission – Google and its lobbyists have had more meetings with European Commission officials than any other company, according to figures published by Transparency International on Wednesday. With 32 meetings logged between December and June, Google’s lobbying is topped only by that of BusinessEurope, whose 67 member companies span the automotive, aviation, chemical, energy, IT and metallurgical industries. Its IT-industry members include Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Oracle and Samsung Electronics. Other prolific corporate lobbyists include General Electric, Airbus, and Microsoft, which had 20 meetings with Commission officials during the period.

Uber And PayPal Extend Payment Partnership, Now In 19 Countries – PayPal teamed up with Uber back in 2013 to offer the U.S. taxi-hailing service’s customers additional payment options. The world has changed a lot in those 18 months — Uber is now present in over 300 cities with China set to soon become its largest market — so, with that in mind, PayPal and Uber have extended their partnership to cover an additional 9 countries worldwide.

Facebook’s latest diversity report shows little change – Facebook has introduced its latest diversity report, which details information on its own workforce. There has been little change over last year, unfortunately, showing mostly the same numbers we saw in summer 2014 — something that doesn’t fit well with the social network’s diversity goals. Facebook reported its initial diversity numbers in 2014, as did many other big name businesses in the industry. Said the social network’s Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams, “Having a diverse workforce is not only the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do for our business.”

Alibaba launches online bank aimed at SMBs, rural customers – As China’s first online-only bank, it has no physical branches, but provides easily accessible loans to as many as 800 million rural residents, according to a report by industry website on June 25. Unlike its conventional competitors, the online bank neither deals with cash nor with big clients, but instead focuses on the bottom 80 percent, such as small, mid-, and micro-sized businesses.

Fueled by Snowden and Apple, private search engine DuckDuckGo rapidly grows – The privacy-minded search engine DuckDuckGo announced this week that it has reached a milestone. The Google alternative now serves over 10 million searches per day. (By comparison, Google serves about 4.3 billion per day.) DuckDuckGo works by using both its own Web crawler and data from other search engines, including Yahoo, Bing, and Blekko—not Google. The company claims that it does not log IP addresses or user agents, and it says that “no cookies are used by default.” It also uses default encryption modeled after HTTPS Everywhere.

Games and Entertainment:

Batman: Arkham Knight for PC pulled from Steam and retailers due to bugs – Warner Bros. has pulled the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight from sale due to “performance issues.” While no date was given for when the game might be put back on sale, the publisher is promising to address the wide range of performance issues players are experiencing. Those who have already purchased the game can request a refund from Steam or the retail location where the game was purchased.


Apple removes Civil War games featuring Confederate flag from App Store – Apple has removed Civil War games from the App Store featuring the Confederate flag, according to a report from Touch Arcade. Ultimate General: Gettysburg and the Civil War games by developer Hunted Cow no longer appear for sale. A statement from a developer of Ultimate General confirms that the studio’s game was removed by Apple. Apple’s decision is likely to draw more controversy. Removing games in which the flag plays a historical role is different than forbidding the sale of the flag itself. And Apple has already acquired a reputation for its ham-fisted curation, banning games from the App Store featuring nudity and political statements.


Civil War games with educational or historical value won’t be banned, says Apple – In the hours since banning a number of Civil War games portraying the Confederate battle flag, Apple states that the ban only applies to games that use the flag in offensive ways. Historical games won’t suffer the same fate, the company said in a statement sent to TechCrunch: “We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines. We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses.”

Crytek’s powerful CryEngine is the latest gaming engine to embrace Linux – The underlying bones of Linux gaming just keep on getting stronger. Crytek’s CryEngine now supports Linux, and that means support for SteamOS, too. This is just the latest big game engine to support Linux, following in the footsteps of Valve’s Source engine, Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, and Unity 5. It’s easier than ever for developers making games on top of these engines to add support for Linux and SteamOS.

Xbox Games with Gold for July: ‘Assassin’s Creed IV,’ ‘Gears of War 3’ and more – Through July, Xbox One users will be able to download “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” as well as “So Many Me.” The first title needs no introduction, while the second one is an indie puzzle platformer game, “starring Filo and his band of misfit clones as they attempt to save a world threatened by an ancient, malevolent evil”. The title first came out last year on other platforms and it has received mostly positive reviews, though you should note that its availability is a bit weird, being available for Gold members between July 16 and August 15. Over on the Xbox 360, gamers will be able to download or reserve two well known titles: “Plants vs Zombies” and “Gears of War 3.” The former is very much a classic, and it’s the original game that spawned a bunch of other titles afterwards, including an FPS. It’s almost impossible to have missed it, but just in case you did you can now get it for free.


Comedy Central is hosting a 42-day marathon of The Daily Show – I hope you didn’t have many plans for the month of July. Beginning this Friday, June 26th, Comedy Central will stream every episode of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show ever made. That’s more than 2,000 episodes of pithy political commentary, winding interviews, and hundreds of jokes made at the expense of those in power.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch Bill Nye explain climate change in 90 seconds using emoji – You know things are getting serious on the issue of climate change when even the Pope speaks out and says the problem needs to be addressed. Sadly, that probably still won’t be enough to change some people’s minds, so the more efforts that are taken to educate people, the better. In order to make progress on this, more and more scientists have had to simplify their arguments and explanations. This is where Bill Nye comes in, with his recent explanation in the language everyone understands these days: emoji.


Bats, crocodiles and explosions — and no, it’s not a Michael Bay film – A YouTuber with access to special-effects software “Bruckheimers” up a BBC nature documentary series with lightsabers, lasers and things that go BOOM.


French Anti-Uber Protest Turns To Guerrilla Warfare As Cabbies Burn Cars, Attack Uber Drivers – Today’s taxi driver protest is getting out of hand. According to the police, 2,800 taxi drivers are protesting today against UberPOP, the European equivalent of UberX. With UberPOP, everybody can become an Uber driver, and taxi drivers see the service as unfair competition. Yet, this doesn’t really explain why cabbies are now attacking Uber drivers, burning and breaking cars.


Google’s self-driving pod cars now on California public roads – Google has dispatched its fleet of autonomous cars onto the public roads of California, though the pod-like prototypes won’t be racing human drivers. While the longer-running fleet of converted Toyota and Lexus cars have been keeping up with traffic in the 1m+ miles of test driving they’ve done already, Google has opted to cap the top-speed of its more home-designed cars at just 25mph, which the search giant’s Google X research division says is intended to be “neighborhood-friendly”.


The future of road rage: Delphi self-driving car survives brush with Google self-driving car – The cars didn’t collide, but the Google car apparently was at fault, putting a dent in the dignity of Google’s self-driving car project.

AI learns how to build Super Mario levels by watching YouTube – Georgia Tech creates a form of artificial intelligence that learns how to build Super Mario Bros. levels by watching gameplay videos. Because computers need lower productivity levels too.


Artificial intelligence created these Super Mario Bros. levels without any human guidance. So if you’re a video game coder working in the early ’80s, you might want to start looking for another career.

Swimming pool red-eye isn’t from chlorine (It’s from urine) – Technically Incorrect: The US Healthy Swimming Program says that when your eyes go red and stingy in the pool it’s caused by a chemical reaction between chlorine and urine.

Something to think about:

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

–       Henry David Thoreau

Today’s Free Downloads:

Farbar Recovery Scan Tool – Farbar Recovery Scan Tool, or FRST, is a portable application designed to run in normal or safe mode to diagnose malware issues. It is also possible to run FRST in the Windows Recovery Environment in order to diagnose and fix boot issues.

This program will display detailed information about the Windows Registry loading points, services, driver services, Netsvcs entries, known DLLs, drives, and partition specifications. It will also list some important system files that could be patched by malware.

Note: There are both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Farbar Recovery Scan Tool available. Please pick the version that matches your operating system’s bit type. If you don’t know which version matches your system, you may try both of them. Only one of them will run on your system.

Limitations: If you are using Windows XP and have boot issue, the system should boot to the Recovery Environment using a PE Boot CD and then you can run FRST


Avast! Browser Cleanup – This new tool serves to delete pesky and unwanted toolbars and plug-ins from your browser(s). Simply download and run the Browser Cleanup utility without the need to install anything. Once you run the utility, you will see a list of toolbars and plug-ins and be able to disable them with one simple click.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

France Adopts Extensive Surveillance Law – Oh, irony. Only a day after WikiLeaks revealed that the NSA has been spying on the past three French presidents as well as many French officials, France’s lower house adopted the very controversial surveillance law. According to politicians from all parties, France needs a comprehensive intelligence law following the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Yet, in many ways, this law is even broader than the Patriot Act.

Yesterday’s vote doesn’t come as a surprise as the lower house (Assemblée Nationale) already approved the law once. But the Government wanted to act quickly, and opted for an accelerated process for the upper house vote in order to make sure that the law would be voted before the Summer break.

Compared to the original law, not much changed. In particular, the most controversial part remains, the so-called black boxes. French Internet service providers and hosting companies will have to install a new system in their infrastructure to filter all traffic. An algorithm will detect suspicious activity, like if someone is watching videos related to terrorism, and then record everything you do online.

But it’s unclear whether this proprietary algorithm will also record things that aren’t directly related to terrorism. Nobody knows, except the new institution in charge of this process, which will most certainly work tightly with French intelligence services. Since the first vote, the new amendments tweaked the wording a bit, but the black boxes remain.

U.K. MPs Debate Judicial Authorization For Intercept Warrants – The U.K. parliament is today debating issues around the forthcoming new Investigatory Powers Bill, ahead of a draft bill being introduced this autumn.

“We know that communications data is used in 95 per cent of serious and organized crime investigations handled by the Crown Prosecution Service. Similarly intercept has played a significant role in investigating crime and preventing terrorism. Last year, 2,795 interception warrants were issued. Of these the majority — 68 per cent — were issued for serious crime; 31 per cent for national security; and one per cent a combination of serious crime and national security,” Home Secretary Theresa May told Parliament in a speech opening the debate.

During the debate May was asked whether the government had made a decision on a key recommendation in the recent independent review of surveillance capabilities by QC David Anderson — namely that interception warrants should be signed off by judges, rather than by ministers, as is currently the case. The U.K. is alone among the so-called Five Eyes powers in not having a judicial process for signing off interception warrants.

Proposal to limit anonymous domain registration ignites furor – Privacy advocates are sounding the alarm over a potential policy change that would prevent some people from registering website addresses without revealing their personal information.

ICANN, the regulatory body that oversees domain names, has asked for public comment on whether it should prohibit the private registration of domains which are “associated with commercial activities and which are used for online financial transactions.”

Domain registration companies, privacy advocates and anti-harassment advocates have decried the proposed changes for putting internet users at risk. On the opposite side of the issue, companies like LegitScript and MarkMonitor have argued that the change is necessary to protect consumers from unscrupulous businesses.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – June 26, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – June 24, 2015

How to beef up your browser security;  Google Launches Free, Ad-Supported Version Of Play Music;  How to remove bloatware;  10 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Windows 10;  Gmail enables “unsend” option for all users;  Only on Android: The best apps you’ll only find on Google’s OS;  The Best Tune-Up Utilities of 2015;  Intel’s free remote app lets you control your PC with your Android phone;  Backup basics;  4 news apps that will change everything;  Hackers exploit fresh PC hijack bug in Adobe Flash Player;  SQFT is a Real Estate App to Help Homeowners Slash Broker Commissions;  Apple, Microsoft CEOs Call for End to Racism;  Batman: Arkham Knight for PC is seriously broken;  You Can Now Buy Amazon’s Siri-For-Your-Home;  Hulu will offer its subscribers a discount on Showtime;  PCs, external graphics, is coming soon via Oculink;  Facebook doesn’t need your face to recognize you;  Secure Webcam (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to beef up your browser security – Browsers are your window to the Web, but while you’re looking out, other people may be peeking back at you or breaking in to steal your stuff. Without the right tools, you can’t block intruders — you may not even know they’re there. The good news: browser security tools are simple, and many are free. Read on to find out how to lock down Chrome and Firefox, check for encrypted sites, and practice safer browsing.

Google Launches Free, Ad-Supported Version Of Play Music – Fresh on the heels of the Apple Music launch, Google has just announced that Play Music will now offer a free, ad-supported version of the service to users who don’t want to pay $9.99/month. Play Music is Google’s music streaming service, meant to compete with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, etc. However, unlike the paid version, the free version launched today won’t let users choose their own songs to play on-demand. Instead users will have the option to choose from pre-curated playlists, similar to Pandora or iTunes Radio.


Gmail enables “unsend” option for all users – On Tuesday, one of the webmail provider’s most interesting Labs options, “undo send,” graduated to official status. With the option, Gmailers get the chance to click an “undo send” link at the top of the screen after clicking “send” on any e-mail message. As with the original Labs version, the option, which now lives in the service’s “general” settings tab, lets users pick a safety timespan between 5-30 seconds.

How to remove bloatware – Bloatware, aka junkware, is software that the PC maker preinstalls on your machine — software you probably don’t want. Bloatware comes in many varieties and levels of malignance, from extra icons cluttering your desktop to resource hogs that slow PC performance to computer-compromising malware. Read on to learn how to rid your PC of this unnecessary and sometimes dangerous baggage.

4 news apps that will change everything – News apps have always failed, but four apps emerged this month that have cracked the code at last

10 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Windows 10 – Windows 10, by all appearances, seems poised for mass adoption, after a lackluster reception for Windows 8. This alternation of popular and unpopular is sort of a pattern for Microsoft operating systems: Vista tanked while Windows 7 killed, for example. Considering Windows 10 embraces devices of every size from smartphones to workstations, covering every aspect of the operating system would be a tall order. So for this selection of tips, we’ll limit the scope to Windows 10 on the desktop, though some suggestions could affect installations on other device sizes.


Only on Android: The best apps you’ll only find on Google’s OS – Enough about all those iOS exclusives. It’s time to celebrate apps that show off the type of features only possible on Android.

The Best Tune-Up Utilities of 2015 – Quick question: What motivates you to purchase a new PC? If “slow performance” immediately jumps to mind, then please allow me to help you save a few hundred dollars. There’s a very good chance that your lethargic computer could have in it still a second (or third!) life with a relatively inexpensive tool: a PC tune-up utility. A tune-up utility is an application that digs deep into your computer and fixes trouble areas. It performs several functions, including defragmenting your PC’s hard drive, repairing the incredibly problematic Windows registry, and deleting useless and duplicate files.

SQFT is a Real Estate App to Help Homeowners Slash Broker Commissions – After downloading the app and deciding you want to list your home, SQFT walks you through all the steps needed to create a listing. The software will help you include professional photos and features of your home, and even help identify the ideal asking price. SQFT posts your listing to over 450 real estate sites, including Trulia, Zillow, and MLS. The app will then help you schedule showings, respond to offers, and even sign the contract. These features mean that one could use SQFT to buy or sell a home without ever needing an in-person meeting with a real estate agent. By putting owners in charge of the entire process, SQFT aims to cut the industry standard listing fee from six percent to under two percent.


Instagram wants to be part of the world’s conversations with its new search and explore tools – Trending places will also get their own dedicated part of the explore section, and Instagram’s search feature has been updated to include places in search results in addition to the existing people and tags categories. There’s also a way to search across all three categories at once, with Instagram bringing you the “top” results across the service.

Lenovo unveils the Ideacenter Stick 300: a $130 PC on a stick running Windows – Lenovo is introducing a brand new PC-on-a-stick device, called the Ideacenter Stick 300. The new device is designed to be taken anywhere and can transform almost any display into a Windows computer. Lenovo’s new HDMI dongle is basically a PC in stick, and though we’ve seen this type of devices before, the Ideacenter Stick’s price might make it quite attractive. The device starts at $139 and comes with the following specs:

Intel Baytrail Z3735F CPU

Up to 2GB of RAM

Up to 32GB of storage


WiFI 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0

1 x HDMI, 1x Micro USB 2.0, SD card reader

Windows 8.1 with Bing


When Windows refuses to eject mass storage: 5 ways to safely remove a USB drive – The whole point of external USB-connected storage is that you can easily unplug it, but Windows’s Eject Mass Storage option balks sometimes. Resist the urge to yank out the drive and try one of these solutions instead.

Google is making a medical wristband that tracks your health – Google is working on a medical-grade fitness tracking wristband, according to Bloomberg. Not only will it measure vitals like heart rate, pulse, and skin temperature on a “minute-by-minute” basis, it will also measure external information like sun exposure. The wristband is being developed by Google X, the secretive lab behind projects like Glass, Loon, and the company’s self-driving cars. It won’t be available to general consumers. Instead, Google intends for the device to be used in clinical trials and prescribed to medical patients.

Replace your PC’s heart: How to install a power supply in your computer – Don’t underestimate the importance of your PC’s power source. A good power supply serves as the cornerstone for a low-maintenance and highly reliable computer. But more often than not, boxed, pre-built desktops ship with the cheapest power supplies that meet the criteria of their product warranties. This means that two or three years after buying your computer, you may find yourself with a perfectly functional desktop that one day decides either not to power on or to emit a puff of black smoke.

Intel’s free remote app lets you control your PC with your Android phone – The new Remote Keyboard app is designed for Intel’s NUC and Compute Stick miniature PCs, but should work with any machine running Windows 7 and higher. The app is easy enough to set up. Just download it from the Google Play Store, then install the free host software on your PC. The mobile app automatically detects the host computer, and you can complete the pairing process by scanning a QR code on the computer screen with your phone’s camera. Similar to other smartphone remotes, Intel’s app uses Wi-Fi to communicate between the phone and the PC.


Backup basics – The rule of thumb for PC backup is simple: just do it. If you’ve ever lost data as a result of a computer crash, you know what a long, expensive process recovery can be. It’s far easier just to restore data from a backup, whether that’s the cloud, network-attached storage, or a USB device. Here’s an overview of your backup options and a step-by-step guide to backing up your Windows PC.

You Can Now Buy Amazon’s Siri-For-Your-Home – Amazon’s Amazon Echo voice-activated, connected home command center is now available for anybody to purchase. The Siri-like device will start shipping July 14. The cylindrical Echo, which responds to voice commands and allows a user to learn the weather, set alarms, and listen to music, had a limited launch in fall 2014. Since then, Amazon has added many new features to the Echo, including compatibility with the music streaming service Pandora, the audiobook service Audible, and more.


What is malware? – There are currently over 375 million malicious programs out there, with another 390,000 recorded each day, according to AV-Test. In recent months, the number of total malware threats has increased by 13 percent, and mobile malware is growing even faster, with the number of new incidences skyrocketing by 49 percent, according to McAfee (PDF link to report). Don’t ignore the onslaught — get to know your coded enemies and learn how to defeat them.

Hackers exploit fresh PC hijack bug in Adobe Flash Player, the internet’s screen door – Adobe is advising users and administrators to patch its Flash Player after yet another remote-code execution vulnerability was discovered in the plugin. The patch fixes bug CVE-2015-3113, which allows attackers to take control of a system if it opens a malicious Flash file. Miscreants are exploiting the flaw in the wild to hijack PCs, targeting Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and Firefox on Windows XP. Adobe credited researchers at FireEye in spotting and reporting the flaw. Miscreants are apparently spamming out links in emails to websites hosting malicious Flash files that exploit the vulnerability.

Programmers are copying security flaws into your software, researchers warn – Many software developers are cribbing code, and its flaws, that someone else created. And the problem is only getting harder to keep up with.

The government is falling behind on application security – Three out of four applications used by government organizations are not compliant with one of the primary software security policies and most of the flaws found in them never get fixed, according to a report released Tuesday by U.S.-based application security firm Veracode. The report is based on an analysis of more than 200,000 applications over the past 18 months that are used by organizations in various industries. The tests were performed using Veracode’s cloud-based application security testing platform that uses static analysis, dynamic analysis and manual penetration testing techniques.

Polish airline victim to DDoS attack, U.S. planes could be susceptible – A cyber attack grounded a fleet of aircraft in Poland on Sunday. All the planes were part of the Polish national airline, LOT. although the Polish domestic intelligence agency is being stingy with details, they claim the 1,400 passengers who were stranded were never actually in any danger. The flight plan systems that were affected are not used not used during actual flight. Therefore, none of the planes already en route were affected, only those on the ground at Chopin airport in Warsaw.

Google cures Chrome security flaws in fresh update – Tech giant highlights four vulnerabilities spotted by external researchers — one with a $5000 bounty — in notes on the latest update to its Web browser.

Company News:

Apple, Microsoft CEOs Call for End to Racism After Charleston Shooting – In the wake of last week’s shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., that left nine dead, some voices that rarely pipe up on national issues resounded across social media: those of Silicon Valley CEOs. Over the weekend, executives from Salesforce, Apple, Microsoft, and other tech companies took to Twitter to express condolences for the victims’ families. And some took it even further, joining some politicians to call for South Carolina to take down the Confederate flag that flies in the capital.

Samsung teams with Red Hat to build enterprise apps – Red Hat and Samsung will build “enterprise-ready, industry-specific” apps in areas like business intelligence, customer service and inventory management, they announced Tuesday. Companies will be able to deploy the apps on Red Hat’s new mobile application platform, which Red Hat announced separately the same day. The apps will run on Android and other OSes, and they’ll be configurable to work with common back-end systems, the companies said. Red Hat and Samsung will jointly market the apps, focusing initially on the U.S.

Nokia files for EU permission to buy Alcatel-Lucent – The European Commission has set 27 July as D-Day for its decision on the Nokia/Alcatel-Lucent takeover. The €15.6 billion deal, first announced in April, was waved through US approval by the Department of Justice last week.

Verizon Completes Its Acquisition of AOL For $4.4B – Well, that was fast: Verizon has just announced that it has completed its acquisition of AOL, owner of TechCrunch, purchasing all outstanding shares for $50 per share in cash for a total price of $4.4 billion. The sale was originally announced just over a month ago. As Verizon said at the time of the original announcement that it was buying AOL, Tim Armstrong, AOL’s CEO, will continue to lead AOL operations. Now we have a few more details of how the whole operation with merge with Verizon’s. Bob Toohey, president of Verizon Digital Media Services, reporting to Armstrong. Digital Media Services is Verizon’s advertising business.

Tidal fires CEO amid fears of competition from incoming Apple Music – Tidal has just let go of its CEO, Peter Tonstad. As Tonstad was only the interim CEO, it’s natural that his time with Tidal would come to an end. But, Tidal doesn’t have anyone stepping in to take over as CEO, indicating the change is abrupt. Tonstad had only been with Tidal since April when he replaced the previous CEO, Andy Chen. This juggling act of power positions comes as Tidal gets a new competitor on the streaming scene, Apple Music.

Box And IBM Ink Wide-Ranging Cloud Partnership – This evening, Box and IBM announced a partnership that will see their technologies integrated, and their cloud products commingled. As part of the arrangement, Box will also offer its customers the ability to store their data on IBM’s cloud, which will have — I checked with the firm — 46 data centers around the world by the end of the year. The deal has a number of facets, including the integration of Box with IBM’s content management technology, the application of IBM data tools to information stored by Box, use of IBM security tech by Box, and a set of promised mobile applications building on the tech of both firms.

Games and Entertainment:

Batman: Arkham Knight for PC is seriously broken, say AMD and Nvidia users – Reviews for the console version of Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight have been overwhelmingly positive, but PC players aren’t so happy. Users on reddit and Steam are reporting all manner of problems with the game, including stuttering, wildly variable frame rates, and crashes, to name but a few. There are also reports of memory leaks causing the game to spike to over 12GB of memory usage before crashing entirely. In response, Steam users have bombed the game’s profile page with negative reviews. While the performance issues affect both Nvidia and AMD users, including those with high-end cards like the GTX 980 running the latest “Game Ready” drivers, it appears that once again AMD users are suffering the most.

PCs, external graphics, is coming soon via Oculink – Oculink, designed for external PCI Express graphics on notebooks and PCs, could give laptops the graphics punch they need for gaming after hours.


Hulu will offer its subscribers a discount on Showtime – Hulu is making another big play for cord cutters. It’s partnering with Showtime to offer online subscriptions to the network’s shows, movies, and live video feeds — everything that’s available through its upcoming streaming service — but the subscriptions will be offered at a discount to existing Hulu subscribers. Rather than paying the standard $10.99 per month for online Showtime, Hulu subscribers will only have to pay $8.99 per month (although that’s on top of the existing $7.99 per month for Hulu itself). It’s a small discount, but it certainly adds up month to month and starts to better position Hulu as the hub for streaming TV that it’s always dreamed of being. Appropriately, Showtime’s shows and movies will be accessed through the Hulu app.

This week’s Xbox One and Xbox 360 Deals With Gold revealed – Microsoft has announced the latest round of Xbox One and Xbox 360 games and DLC that Xbox Live Gold members can pick up on the cheap, and it’s a list of games headlined by Wolfenstein and Evolve. You can check out the full list of deals, which are available from now through June 29, below.


Bethesda Softworks

New Study Shows A Rise In Cord Cutting – 8.2 Percent Ditched Pay TV In 2014, Up 1.3% YoY – There’s been some debate about how many consumers are actually cutting ties with their pay TV providers and replacing them with over-the-top streaming media services – a trend generally referred to as “cord cutting.” But a recent study  indicates that the number of cord cutters in North America is, in fact growing – in 2014, 8.2 percent of former pay TV subscribers surveyed by TiVo subsidiary Digitalsmiths said they ditched their service – an increase of 1.3 percent over the prior year. Meanwhile, a much larger 45.2 percent said they reduced their cable or satellite TV service during the same time frame.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Facebook doesn’t need your face to recognize you – Facebook has developed the next level of facial recognition software that is so clever, it can identify you even if your face is obscured. If you were paranoid about being auto-tagged in pictures before, Facebook’s new recognition capabilities won’t do anything to allay those fears. This new algorithm removes any residual layers of privacy a user would have from photographing themselves from the neck down, or covering their face. The AI behind the development seems human-like its ability to identify a friend from the back of their head.

Consumers Spend 85% Of Time On Smartphones In Apps, But Only 5 Apps See Heavy Use – New research on mobile behavior released today points to the growing struggle that app businesses face in establishing themselves as a must-have download on users’ smartphones. Today’s consumers are spending over 85 percent of their time on their smartphones using native applications, but the majority of their time – 84 percent – is spent using just five non-native apps they’ve installed from the App Store. Those five apps will vary from person to person. For some, their top five could include social media or gaming, while others may spend more time in instant messaging.

Girl gets leg stuck in drain while texting and walking – This is the latest in a series. It’s a series that has no end. It will run permanently on Web channels because there’s something so very human — in a Benny Hill way — about its episodes. Today’s episode comes from Mianyang City, China where a teenage girl was walking down the street and was also, as teens do, texting. As in Australia reports, she stepped on a storm drain. There was only one problem. She was quite a skinny girl and her leg slid straight through the bars of the drain. She became wedged.


News Time/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

11 Jaw-Dropping Solar Flare Images – On Sunday, while you were busy being disappointed by the new season of True Detective, the Sun was cranking out a big ol’ fireball and floating it in our planet’s general direction. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has labeled the storm a G4, the most severe solar storm designation. This is the most active storm of the year so far, and we may not be out of the woods yet. The SWPC has issued a forecast that ejecta from a second solar flare will get tangled up with the Earth on Wednesday night into Thursday morning.


US Navy paid millions to stay on Windows XP – The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy’s communications and information networks, signed a $9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003. The entire contract could be worth up to $30.8 million and extend into 2017.

Faster computers, coming soon, as graphics chip answers the call to action – New tech used by Apple and Microsoft promises to uncork bottlenecks. That’s great for computer users who want new features, but brings new complications for those who build our software.

eBay has banned all auctions and sales of the Confederate flag – The Confederate flag has seen its last eBay auction. Today the company announced that effective immediately, it’s banning all sales of the divisive flag and “its image.” eBay joins US retailers Walmart and Sears in doing away with the Confederate flag in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Something to think about:

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

–     Oscar Wilde

Today’s Free Downloads:

Secure Webcam – Secure Webcam monitors your active built-in webcam in real-time with a disable button in menu. You can also use the exit button to quit the software application at anytime.


Check Webcam Function

No PayPal Donations SPAM

Easy To Use


100% Spyware Free

Compatible with Windows 8

Very Lightweight

User Elevation

Newer Interface

Disable any Webcam Hardware – New Feature!

Works with all kinds of HIPS Protection

Icons & Sound Effects

All Software Bugs fixed – New Feature!

Activation Box – New Feature!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA targeted France’s last three presidents for surveillance, says Wikileaks – Wikileaks has published a new cache of secret communications, and the documents come with explosive allegations about US surveillance of French government affairs. According to Wikileaks, the documents are the result of sustained NSA surveillance of the French elected officials, including the country’s last three Presidents. That claim is backed up by an apparent list of NSA targets, including the names and phone numbers of more than fifteen French ministers and advisors, including the president. The dump also includes intercepts from conversations between various French officials, including intelligence summaries.

The source of the documents is still unclear. Notably, the organization has not named prominent NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has expressed support for Wikileaks in the past but disagrees with the group’s full-disclosure policies and has never publicly worked with the group. Some have speculated that there may be other sources leaking NSA documents who have yet to come forward. If these documents do come from a separate source, it would represent the most significant breach of NSA security since the initial Snowden leaks.

Supreme Court declares warrantless searches of hotel registries illegal – The Supreme Court gave a big boost to privacy Monday when it ruled that hotels and motels could refuse law enforcement demands to search their registries without a subpoena or warrant. The justices were reviewing a challenge to a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotels to provide information to law enforcement—including guests’ credit card number, home address, driver’s license details, and vehicle license number—at a moment’s notice. Similar ordinances exist in about a hundred other cities stretching from Atlanta to Seattle.

Los Angeles claimed the ordinance (PDF) was needed to battle gambling, prostitution, and even terrorism, and that guests would be less likely to use hotels and motels for illegal purposes if they knew police could access their information at will.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the 5-4 majority, ruled (PDF) that the Los Angeles ordinance violated the Fourth Amendment and is an illegal “pretext to harass hotel operators and their guests.”

US, UK Intel agencies worked to subvert antivirus tools to aid hacking – Documents from the National Security Agency and the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reveal that the two agencies—and GCHQ in particular—targeted antivirus software developers in an attempt to subvert their tools to assure success in computer network exploitation attacks on intelligence targets. Chief among their targets was Kaspersky Labs, the Russian antivirus software company, according to a report by The Intercept’s Andrew Fishman and First Look Media Director of Security Morgan Marquis-Boire.

Kaspersky has had a high profile in combatting state-sponsored malware and was central in the exposure of a secret NSA-backed hacking group that had been in operation for 14 years. More recently, it was revealed that Kaspersky had come under direct attack recently from an updated version of the Duqu malware—possibly launched by an Israeli-sponsored hacking group. The same malware was found on the networks of locations hosting negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. But the latest Snowden documents show that both the NSA and GCHQ waged a somewhat more subversive battle against Kaspersky—both by attempting to reverse-engineer the company’s antivirus software and leveraging its intelligence-collection operations for their own benefit.

Australia passes controversial anti-piracy web censorship law – A controversial bill to allow websites to be censored has been passed by both houses of the Australian parliament. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 allows companies to go to a Federal Court judge to get overseas sites blocked if their “primary purpose” is facilitating copyright infringement.

Dr Matthew Rimmer, an associate professor at the Australian National University College of Law, points out that there is a lack of definitions within the bill: “What is ‘primary purpose’? There’s no definition. What is ‘facilitation’? Again, there’s no definition.” That’s dangerous, he believes, because it could lead to “collateral damage,” whereby sites that don’t intend to hosting infringing material are blocked because a court might rule they were covered anyway. Moreover, Rimmer told The Sydney Morning Herald that controversial material of the kind released by WikiLeaks is often under copyright, which means that the new law could be used to censor information that was embarrassing, but in the public interest.

The bill passed easily in both houses thanks to bipartisan support from the Liberal and Labor parties: only the Australian Greens put up any fight against it. Bernard Keane explains in an article on Crikey that the main argument for the new law—that it would save Australian jobs—is completely bogus. Claims that film piracy was costing 6100 jobs every year don’t stand up to scrutiny: “If piracy were going to destroy 6000 jobs in the arts sector every year, why is employment in the specific sub-sector that according to the copyright industry is the one directly affected by piracy now 31,000, compared to 24,000 in 2011?” Keane asks.

U.K. Spy Oversight Court Rules GCHQ Acted Unlawfully Again – The U.K.’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the judicial oversight body which handles complaints relating to domestic intelligence agencies, has ruled that GCHQ acted unlawfully in the handling of intercepted communications data in another case brought by civil liberties groups, including Liberty, Privacy International and Amnesty International.

The IPT judged that GCHQ acted unlawfully and breached its own internal policies on interception, examination and retention of emails from two human rights organizations — the Egypt­ian Ini­tia­tive for Per­sonal Rights (EIPR) and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in South Africa — thereby breaching their human rights.

The court ruled only that “error” and “technical” failures led to the spy agency to break its internal interception policies.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 22, 2015

How to disable video autoplay on Twitter;  Chromebooks get integrated Chromecast support;  Customize Android voice commands with MyVoice;  Apple will replace faulty 3TB hard drives;  Facebook’s new photo app won’t launch in Europe;  Samsung makes big trucks transparent in the name of road safety;  Microsoft flip-flops on Windows 10 for Insiders promise;  Get serious about Android anti-theft with Cerberus;  Hackers had access to security clearance data for a year;  The best PC games of E3 2015;  Uber says no guns in cars, changing policy;  Your Bank Should Be More Like Your Waiter And Less Like Your Landlord;  Get any Xbox One game free when you buy an Xbox One;  Louisiana governor vetoes license plate reader bill, citing privacy concerns;  MyPermissions Cleaner for Chrome (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to disable video autoplay on Twitter – Twitter yesterday introduced what it calls “a more streamlined consumption experience” where videos, GIFs and Vines will autoplay as you encounter them on your timeline and across Twitter. This new autoplay feature is enabled by default. And in my case, the Twitter app for iOS was set to autoplay videos whether I was on Wi-Fi or a cellular connection. Thankfully, you can disable autoplay on the desktop and disable it or restrict it to only when you are on a Wi-Fi network on the iOS app.


Twitter’s Overhaul Will Let You Follow Events Rather Than People – With its CEO on the way out, Twitter is planning big changes this fall to make the social network more accessible to newcomers. In a BuzzFeed profile, company executives detail an upcoming initiative called Project Lightning that will lead to an increased focus on surfacing interesting content around live events.

Customize Android voice commands with MyVoice – The most appealing things about MyVoice is that it only adds to the built-in voice control system, instead of installing a third-party system. This means that the service will be more reliable. And the fact that it can customize commands makes it pretty remarkable. How do you use this fantastic app? It’s simple. Let’s take a look.

Chromebooks get integrated Chromecast support, no browser needed – You’ll still need the Google Cast Extension installed but Google has added Chromecast controls directly into the platform’s system tray for streaming windows or your desktop.


Apple will replace faulty 3TB hard drives in affected older iMacs – Apple has identified a problem in the hard drives of specific older iMacs. 3TB hard drives for 27-inch Macs that were sold between December 2012 and September 2013 could “fail under certain conditions”. Mac users affected by the problem are eligible for a special replacement program where the faulty hard drive will be switched out for free. This isn’t the first time iMacs have had this kind of problem. In 2011 Apple replaced faulty HDD’s from the manufacturer, Seagate.

Twitter Product Pages Zero in on Shopping – Twitter is getting into the shopping game by tweaking its service to organize content around products. It’s also opening up collections for a few key partners, which will allow those browsing Twitter to check out a number of product recommendations focused on a particular topic.

Facebook’s new photo app won’t launch in Europe because of facial recognition – Earlier this week, Facebook launched Moments, a new photo-sharing app that uses facial recognition technology to dig up forgotten snaps of friends from your camera roll. It’s a neat trick, but not one that Facebook’s European users will be able to try out: the social network has said that Moments won’t launch on the continent due to worries that European regulators will object to its use of facial recognition.

Microsoft flip-flops on Windows 10 for Insiders promise – Microsoft promising a free upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and 8.1 users is definitely a great thing, but it seems that Redmond still can’t its strategy pinned down. It once sent confusing messages regarding Windows 10 updates for those running on non-genuine (read: pirated) copies of the operating system. Now it’s muddling the waters again for their own testers, at first saying the Windows Insiders who have been testing Windows 10 will get the update for free, backtracking on that position, and then ambiguously confirming it again.

Surplus food for the homeless is just an app away – On-demand smartphone apps are known for addressing the whims and desires of the comfortable. It turns out they can also serve the greater good.


Feeding Forward CEO Komal Ahmad shows off surplus food collected from the Bite Silicon Valley food-tech conference in early June. Leftovers gathered at this event fed more than 4,279 people at eight different shelters and food banks.

Get serious about Android anti-theft with Cerberus – One of the most frequent questions I receive is what to do when a phone is lost or stolen. The short (and simple) answer to that query is to prepare for the eventuality. That means either setting up your device via the Google Device Manager or another, similar type of service. If you don’t take this one (mostly) easy step, you might well find yourself out of luck. With that in mind, I want to introduce you to another anti-theft service, Cerberus. This app/service isn’t free (there’s a one week trial… after that, it’ll cost you 4.99 EUR). Once you take a look at this service, you’ll quickly realize that it’s worth every penny.

Heinz in hot sauce after ketchup bottle’s QR code links to porn site – Technically Incorrect: Heinz allows a domain for a promotion to lapse and who should slip into it instead? Oh, no.


The offending bottle.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup/Facebook screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Why big open-source projects are fleeing SourceForge’s free software hub – SourceForge is in trouble. The download-hosting site retreated after public outcry, removing the junkware it inserted into downloads of the popular GIMP image editing tool without the developers’ permission. But SourceForge has still lost the trust of the open-source community after the junkware-wrapping scandal—and now more open-source projects are leaving SourceForge for greener pastures like GitHub and FossHub.


Game-over HTTPS defects in dozens of Android apps expose user passwords – Researchers have unearthed dozens of Android apps in the official Google Play store that expose user passwords because the apps fail to properly implement HTTPS encryption during logins or don’t use it at all. The roster of faulty apps have more than 200 million collective downloads from Google Play and have remained vulnerable even after developers were alerted to the defects. The apps include the official titles from the National Basketball Association, the dating service, the Safeway supermarket chain, and the PizzaHut restaurant chain. They were uncovered by AppBugs, a developer of a free Android app that spots dangerous apps installed on users’ handsets.

Matchlight finds breaches faster by scouring the dark web for stolen data – Matchlight detects data breaches faster, more accurately, and in a way you might not expect. TechRepublic spoke with Terbium Labs about how Matchlight works.


Hackers had access to security clearance data for a year – Hackers who breached a database containing highly personal information on government employees with security clearances had access to the system for about a year before being discovered, The Washington Post reported on Friday. The database in question contains applications for security clearances, which ask for information on all aspects of a person’s life including social security numbers, passport numbers, names of former neighbors, and information on family members. It also asks about, over the past seven years, any contact with foreign nationals and problems with drug or alcohol abuse, debts or bankruptcy, imprisonment and run-ins with law enforcement

Company News:

Uber says no guns in cars, changing policy – Uber, the ride-hailing company based in San Francisco, has reworked its legal policies to include a ban on firearm possession by its drivers and passengers. “We seek to ensure that everyone using the Uber digital platform…feels safe and comfortable,” the new policy reads. “Uber and its affiliates therefore prohibit possessing firearms of any kind in a vehicle.” Those found violating the rule may lose access to Uber’s services.

The FCC is slapping AT&T with a $100 million fine for misleading unlimited data customers – The FCC is fining AT&T after an investigation concluded they misled millions of unlimited data customers by throttling their data and failing to adequately notify users of their plan’s limitations.

Apple Says “We Hear You Taylor Swift”, Will Pay Musicians During Free Trial – Apple’s Eddy Cue has just announced that Apple Music will change its plan and pay royalties to artists even during its three-month free trial for users, following Taylor Swift’s public complaint about the policy. She had planned to withhold her hit album ‘1989’ from the service in protest. We’ve learned that Apple made this decision to change its policy today. Apple had planned to offer users a three-month free trial of its upcoming streaming Apple Music service that launches June 30th. However, it had negotiated deals with the major labels to not pay rights holders royalties during these trials and instead pay a tiny bit more in royalty rates afterwards.

Report: Nokia CEO Talks Mobile Comeback – Nokia isn’t done with mobile phones just yet. After selling its handset business to Microsoft last year, the Finnish company is officially looking to make a comeback in the mobile space. But it’s not planning to go at it alone. Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri reportedly told the German website Manager Magazin that his company is looking to find “suitable partners” to help with the effort. Suri’s comments aren’t all that surprising, given that rumors about Nokia’s mobile ambitions have been swirling for months.

Verizon ordered to finish fiber build that it promised but didn’t deliver – New York City officials today ordered Verizon to complete fiber builds that the company was supposed to finish a year ago. If Verizon doesn’t comply, the city can seek financial damages. In a 2008 agreement with New York City, Verizon committed to extend its FiOS network to every household across the five boroughs by June 30, 2014,” said the announcement of an audit released today by the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT). Verizon’s FiOS fiber network delivers Internet, TV, and phone service to areas traditionally served by Verizon’s copper landlines and DSL Internet.


Apple Store Stops Selling The Original iPad Mini – Apple’s original iPad mini, the only non-Retina iPad still on sale, was quietly removed from Apple’s online store last night, as noted by 9to5Mac. Comparing the iPad section of the store between this morning and yesterday reveals that the first-gen iPad mini has been dropped from the comparison chart, too, leaving the iPad mini 2 and 3, as well as the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 as the current tablet options available to purchase new.

Games and Entertainment:

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is beautiful, brutal, and seriously ambitious – Yes, great video games should be more than just graphical eye candy, but in the case of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, it’s hard to ignore its aesthetic charms. The Dawn engine demo shown at the first annual PC Gaming Show—which included a list of flashy effects like depth of field, global illumination, volumetric lighting, air density, and exquisitely rendered cucumbers—was but a tease for what the actual game looks like in motion. Mankind Divided was easily the best-looking thing I saw at this year’s E3—and in a show filled with graphical heavyweights like Dice’s Star Wars: Battlefront, Sony’s Uncharted 4, and Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, that’s high praise indeed.


Dark Souls III is faster, weirder, and far more beautiful – I myself am not one really of those converted, barring flirtations with Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne. But after watching Miyazaki play through about 20 minutes of Dark Souls III, I think this might be the point where I jump in. The stage I saw was called Wall of Lodeleth, and its gothic medieval setting is instantly evocative, with ash-covered dragon corpses and jagged spires silhouetted against a hazy sun. The Souls games have never been the most technically accomplished, but stylistically they achieve a lot with a little; combined with Dark Souls III’s smoother performance on Xbox One, it’s the most striking entry in the series to date.


New trailers: Peanuts, The Leftovers, Kung Fu Panda 3, and more – This was a big week for comedy and animation. It’s a nice change. There are so many serious, dark, and gritty trailers that fill up every other week that it’s good to have a little time away from them. Don’t worry — there’s still some of the dark stuff down below, but for the most part, you’re in for a fun week.


Get any Xbox One game free when you buy an Xbox One – From June 21 to June 27, anyone buying an Xbox One from participating US retailers will get any game of their choosing for free. The only proviso is that the game must cost $59.99 or less and must be on optical media. This offer even covers the brand new $399 1 terabyte Xbox One that includes a 3.5 mm headset jack on its controller and already comes bundled with Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Sony says it has “no plans” for Xbox One-style backward compatibility on PS4 – Microsoft is enabling Xbox One owners to play their older Xbox 360 games on its latest console, but Sony says it does not intend to offer similar backward compatibility on its PS4.

The best PC games of E3 2015 – Forget Xbox. PlayStation? Pfah. PC gaming is the real cutting-edge of gaming, and here at PCWorld we covered more than fifty titles prepared to grace computer screens. Even crazier, that wasn’t even all of them. Heck, AMD even announced its new flagship Radeon Fury X graphics card at E3 this year. In such a swelling sea of games, it’s good to highlight a chosen few that stood out from the rest. These are the PC games that got us personally excited at E3 2015, in no particular order.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch John Oliver Take on Internet Trolls on Last Week Tonight – John Oliver took on Internet trolls on this week’s Last Week Tonight with the help of some “vintage AOL ads.” The Internet was supposed to change the world, but it has become a place where you can see “glamour shots of cats” and “angora show bunnies” or rickroll your entire audience with a clip of Rick Astley singing “Never Gonna Give You Up” (twice). It’s also become a place to say horrifying things to complete strangers and dabble in revenge porn, according to Oliver.


Our Favorite Quotes About Technology – We polled the PCMag staff for some of their favorite tech quotes, and these are their top picks.


Devs Use Minor Updates To Resurrect iOS Apps On The Slide, Study Finds – App updates are a strategic tool used by developers to revive waining interest in their software and spark downloads. That’s one of the conclusions from a study by a group of Italian academics looking at how app developers use updates to attract attention, and how effective this strategy is on Android vs iOS.

California high school installs security system to pinpoint gunfire – A high school in Newark, California, has become the first in the country to install a high-tech system designed to pinpoint the location of gunfire. It’s called ShotSpotter, and it’s already in use across several cities across the US, including New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Oakland, Minneapolis, and more. And that’s what it’s designed for — even wealthy cities like New York have only deployed the system in high-crime precincts that see frequent episodes of gunfire.

In Sweden, blood donors get a text whenever they save a life – Blood donation rates have risen 25 percent among high-income countries, but centers have seen a steep decline in new volunteers. Centers across the world are trying to figure out how to raise awareness about the importance of giving. So, Sweden looked to social media to solve its issue, crafting a system that texts donors, telling them when their blood has been used to help another. The notification system has already been quite effective in spreading a positive message about giving blood. Donors have tweeted images of the SMS messages they’ve received. It starts with a simple “thank you” after donation and then gets pretty personal when a follow-up notification says your blood has been used to help another.


OneGo Will Offer Unlimited West Coast Flights For $1,500 A Month – Here’s an unusual pricing plan for air travel — instead of paying for each trip, hand over a $1,500 monthly fee and fly as much as you want. So what do you actually get for that $1,500? Unlimited direct flights (economy class) on major airlines like America, Delta, United and Virgin America, plus perks like Gogo WiFi membership and enrollment in TSA Pre for faster security screenings. There are some constraints — the flights have to be booked seven days in advance, and you can’t have more than four open reservations at a time. You can also pay extra for things like last-minute booking, unlimited flight changes and more open reservations.

Samsung makes big trucks transparent in the name of road safety – Back in 2009, Russian design house Art Lebedev introduced the dramatically titled Transparentius concept for improving road safety. It was remarkably simple: put a camera on the front of large, slow-moving trucks and connect it to video displays on the back, thereby informing trailing drivers whether it’s safe to overtake the big rig. That’s the exact same idea that Samsung is now pursuing with a new prototype truck. Making use of its abundance of outdoor displays, the Korean company has stitched together a video wall of four displays at the rear of the truck, which transmits video captured by a wireless camera at the front.


Your Bank Should Be More Like Your Waiter And Less Like Your Landlord – The financial services industry in America is locked into a business model of exploitation. For far too long, this has gone largely unchecked and unquestioned, even when advances in technology mean it doesn’t have to be so.

Something to think about:

“You can’t help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.”

–       H. Norman Schwarzkopf


Q: How cold is it in Canada?

A: In Celsius:

+25: visiting Aussies put on sweaters (if they actually own one)

+20: visiting Floridians ask if somebody could please turn on the heat

+10: you start to see your own breath. Vancouverites begin shivering uncontrollably

0: water freezes; construction begins on backyard hockey rinks

-10: Vancouverites weep with cold; Maritimers put on T-shirts

-15: Manitobans host the last backyard cookout with ice cream for dessert; Maritimers go camping

-25: Manitobans do up the top button

-35: Ottawans think about digging out their mitts

-50: Prairie kids start saying “Cold, eh?” and elect to stay inside for recess

-60: Vancouverites disappear; Montrealers put on overcoats; Yukoners close the bathroom window

-70: Hell freezes over and the Leafs win the Stanley Cup (joking, joking!)

Source: Favourite Canadian Jokes | WhyGo Canada Travel Guide

Today’s Free Downloads:

MyPermissions Cleaner for Chrome – MyPermissions is a free, powerful way to scan, track and control how applications access your personal information online. Know what apps you’ve connected to on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram and more are accessing what data – and approve, remove or report them.

MyPermissions is a watchdog for your cloud accounts. We protect users from unknowingly sharing photos, documents, locations, contacts, emails, or any other sensitive information, and we give them their control back by making it easy for them to approve or revoke what apps access their data, and how.

MyPermissions covers several platforms including:








and more!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Louisiana governor vetoes license plate reader bill, citing privacy concerns – In a rare move against the advance of license plate readers, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) has vetoed a plan to acquire the scanners in the Bayou State. It had previously passed both houses of the Louisiana legislature overwhelmingly.

Many law enforcement agencies nationwide use these specialized cameras to scan cars and compare them at incredible speeds to a “hot list” of stolen or wanted vehicles. In some cases, that data is kept for weeks, months, or even years.

In a signing statement Friday, Jindal wrote:

Senate Bill No. 250 would authorize the use of automatic license plate reader camera surveillance programs in various parishes throughout the state. The personal information captured by these cameras, which includes a person’s vehicle location, would be retained in a central database and accessible to not only participating law enforcement agencies but other specified private entities for a period of time regardless of whether or not the system detects that a person is in violation of vehicle insurance requirements. Camera programs such as these that make private information readily available beyond the scope of law enforcement, pose a fundamental risk to personal privacy and create large pools of information belonging to law abiding citizens that unfortunately can be extremely vulnerable to theft or misuse.

For these reasons, I have vetoed Senate Bill No. 250 and hereby return it to the Senate.

Australia: Dallas Buyers Club pirates to be asked about income, disabilities – The letter to be sent to alleged pirates of the film Dallas Buyers Club has been leaked, revealing questions around the pirates’ income and what other titles they have downloaded.

The letter, obtained by Mashable Australia, follows a Federal Court victory by Dallas Buyers Club LLC – the rights holders to the film of the same name – which won a case in April against several ISPs, including iiNet, to obtain the details of 4,726 alleged film pirates.

The win came with a catch however, with Justice Nye Perram ordering that he needed to approve both the draft letter to alleged pirates and telephone script before any action is taken.

If a person denies they are a pirate, that person may be compelled to “deliver up your computer for analysis”, the letter says.

“If you admit that you engaged in piracy and no settlement can be reached, then DBC and Voltage may commence proceedings against you for Copyright Infringement,” the letter reads.

ISP iiNet, the main defendant in the case, has offered free legal advice to people who receive the letter.  (recommended by Mal C.)


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – June 19, 2015

How to find the secret Start Menu built into Windows 8.1;  Porn mode in your browser isn’t very private;  DuckDuckGrow: Privacy search soars 600%;  YouTube Launches YouTube Newswire;  Facebook testing ‘See First’ feature for News Feed;  Microsoft’s new Edge browser has a password manager;  10 ways to get the most bang for your buck with an Android device; A Chrome Extension That Hijacks Amazon To Let You Buy From Your Local Bookstore;  Skype Translator now supports French and German;  WhatsApp Fails the Transparency Test;  How to change your LastPass password in wake of site hack;  Serious OS X and iOS flaws let hackers steal keychain, 1Password contents;  Samsung to issue security fix for 600 million Galaxy phones;  Sprint stops data throttling, AT&T faces FCC fine;  Fitbit Spikes More Than 50% In IPO Debut;  Snail Games’ W3D gaming smartphone now up for pre-order;  $49 Apple Watch sport band only costs $2.05 to make;  Macrium Reflect FREE Edition.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 ways to get the most bang for your buck with an Android device – Maybe you just purchased your first Android device–or perhaps you’ve had it for a while but you suspect you aren’t getting the most out of it. Either way, you’re in luck: There is so much available in the way of tweaks, apps, options, and configurations that can make your device more powerful and useful. Here are 10 of my favorite tips to help you get the maximum benefit from the Android platform.

YouTube Launches YouTube Newswire, A Channel Featuring Verified Eyewitness Videos – YouTube announced today a trio of initiatives designed to expand the video-sharing site’s role in new media journalism, including eyewitness news. Most notably, the company is launching a service called YouTube Newswire in partnership with social news agency Storyful, which will introduce a curated and verified feed of the day’s most newsworthy events being published to YouTube.


Omelette du fromage: Skype Translator now supports French and German – The Skype Translator app has just become more useful as it now supports near real-time spoken translations in French and German, bringing the total number of supported spoken languages up to six.

10 tips for more efficient printing – It’s 40 years since an article in Business Week predicted that there would, one day, be a PC on every desk, and that this technological revolution would lead to the “paperless office”. Well, they got the PC bit right, but the paperless office is still something of a pipe dream. Reducing printing costs remains a challenge for businesses of all sizes, but there are a number of simple guidelines that can help you to make more efficient use of your office printer.

DuckDuckGrow: Privacy search soars 600% after Snowden dumps – Privacy-first search aggregator DuckDuckDuckGo has grown a whopping 600 percent since NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden began revealing the extent of the US spying apparatus. The search engine uses sites including Wikipedia, Yandex, Yahoo!, Bing and Yummly and offers users bare-bones search results without the personalisation and tracking wizardry which powers Google. Chief executive officer Gabriel Weinberg told CNBC it crunches some three billion searches a year. “We’ve grown 600 percent since the surveillance revelations two years ago,” Weinberg says. “It’s really a myth that you need to track people to make money in search. “People want transparency and they want control, and unfortunately they are usually getting neither today.”

How to find the secret Start Menu built into Windows 8.1 – Yes, it’s true. You can add a Start menu–of sorts–to the Windows 8.1 taskbar without installing a third-party program. All of the code is built into Windows itself. You just have to know the trick that makes it appear.


8 Celeb and Character Voices You Can Get on Your GPS – Using celebrity/character voices in navigation systems goes back almost a decade, and features some of the biggest names in the world. Check out the slideshow for our collection of the greatest and geekiest. Most are still available for purchase (or free), particularly if you have a compatible Garmin or TomTom navigation system (check compatibility before you buy). How this hasn’t become a thing for Google and Apple Maps on phones yet, I don’t know. Maybe Drake can record one for Apple soon.

Bookindy Is A Chrome Extension That Hijacks Amazon To Let You Buy From Your Local Bookstore – Amazon quickly established itself as an online bookstore behemoth, before expanding into almost every facet of our e-commerce lives. But, for all that convenience, we pay a heavy price, not least with the erosion of the high street. Enter Bookindy, a clever new web app that aims to help your local independent bookstore fight back.


Facebook testing ‘See First’ feature for News Feed – Facebook, it seems, is testing more than one feature this week. Following screenshots showing a “Suggested Topics” feature that is apparently in testing to help users come up with things to talk about, another feature has surfaced: it is called ‘See First’, and it lends some control over how a user sees his or her news feed. In this case, See First is exactly what it sounds like — a way to mark what you want to see first, such as statuses posted by people you care about rather than that person you met briefly at a convention a few years back.

Former Googler fights adblockers with adblocker blocker – All of us adblocking people are nibbling away at the revenues of ad-driven companies, and it’s adding up to a huge bite. PageFair, a company that works with publishers to measure the cost of adblocking and to help them come up with non-annoying, less intrusive ads that can be whitelisted by the adblockers, estimates that Google would have made $6.6 billion more than it did last year if it weren’t for adblockers. Somebody formerly at Google – a somebody who was close to the enormous sucking sound of lost revenues – has decided to fight back. Ben Barokas, the former general manager of marketplace development at Google, is the adblock blocker guy.

Discover the Weird Things We Search for on Revamped Google Trends – Explore minute-by-minute data related to the more than 100 billion searches that take place on Google every month. When you visit the new site, you’ll see a ranked, real-time listing of trending stories that are poplar across Google at the moment. To determine this, Google looks at what people are searching, as well as trends from YouTube and Google News.


Your smartphone could have serious security flaws – This is turning out to be the week you learned your smartphone apps can be exploited by hackers. Three separate research groups revealed app security flaws that could turn Apple and Samsung devices into cyberintruders’ playthings — allowing them to take control of your phones’ cameras, microphones and GPS while stealing all your personal information and listening to your phone calls. The only good news is that the attacks would have to be aimed at specific phones, and attackers are unlikely to target everyday people. The really, really bad news? German researchers last month found flaws that could affect every phone. That’s right: there’s a vulnerability for everyone.

WhatsApp Fails the Transparency Test – By now, many of us are resigned to the idea that true privacy online is an illusion. But that doesn’t mean you should be unaware of who has your information and what they’re doing with it. To help keep you apprised, the Electronic Frontier Foundation today released its latest Who Has Your Back report, which looks at how much information top tech companies are handing over to the feds, and how they keep users informed about their activity.

Serious OS X and iOS flaws let hackers steal keychain, 1Password contents – Researchers have uncovered huge holes in the application sandboxes protecting Apple’s OS X and iOS operating systems, a discovery that allows them to create apps that pilfer iCloud, Gmail, and banking passwords and can also siphon data from 1Password, Evernote, and other apps. The malicious proof-of-concept apps were approved by the Apple Store, which requires all qualifying submissions to treat every other app as untrusted. Despite the supposed vetting by Apple engineers, the researchers’ apps were able to bypass sandboxing protections that are supposed to prevent one app from accessing the credentials, contacts, and other resources belonging to another app. Like Linux, Android, Windows, and most other mainstream OSes, OS X and iOS strictly limit app access for the purpose of protecting them against malware. The success of the researchers’ cross-app resource access—or XARA—attacks, raises troubling doubts about those assurances on the widely used Apple platforms.


How to change your LastPass password in wake of site hack – To protect and access all your passwords, LastPass requires you to set up a single master password. But what if someone obtains that master password? Though the master passwords themselves are secured with a high level of encryption and were untouched in the data breach, the hackers gained access to the clues, or reminders, used to remember those passwords. As such, the right clue could help a hacker potentially guess your master password, especially if you’ve used one that’s particularly easy to guess.

Samsung to issue security fix for 600 million Galaxy phones – Samsung will “in the coming days” fix a security flaw that could allow hackers to remotely attack and access data on Galaxy smartphones. It comes just two days after security researchers revealed that the SwiftKey keyboard, which comes pre-installed on as many as 600 million Samsung Galaxy smartphones, was vulnerable to attack. The flaw, discovered by NowSecure, could allow hackers to access the device, eavesdrop on phone calls, and install malicious apps.

Canada government websites, email systems hit by ‘ongoing’ cyberattack – Canada, widely seen as one of the nicest countries on earth, was hit by an “ongoing” cyberattack on Wednesday, according to government officials. The news of Wednesday’s cyberattack comes just days after members of the country’s House of Commons were told to be on guard amid warnings that its staff had been “targeted” for cyberattacks. Hacktivist collective Anonymous reportedly took credit for the cyberattack in a video published online shortly after the news broke, citing the country’s recent passing of new anti-terror legislation. There’s no immediate way to verify the video, however.

Microsoft’s new Edge browser has a password manager, here’s how it works – Microsoft’s new browser, Edge, has a password manager. While we could not access it during the last public release of Windows 10, it is now working in build 10147 and has several features too.

Microsoft’s site dedicated to fighting US surveillance just got hacked – Microsoft’s website dedicated to fighting the US government on matters of policy and surveillance has been hacked. The site, which was launched in mid-2013 months after the Edward Snowden revelations were first published, soon became a platform for Microsoft’s corporate views on government surveillance and a new case dedicated to fighting an international search warrant. But the site appears to have been modified around 9:15pm ET on Wednesday, and remains affected at the time of publication. It’s not clear who is behind the attack.

Most SAP HANA installs poppable with default keys, hacker says – ERPScan technology boss Alexander Polyakov says default security settings are exposing passwords and root keys in SAP HANA to external attackers. Attackers can use universal default keys to decrypt encrypted passwords used by the in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system. Polyakov says administrators are not bothering to change the keys which protects the hdbuserstore secure user storage facility that contains account passwords and keys for savepoints. “People think that SAP HANA, as an in-memory database, doesn’t store any sensitive data on hard drive [but] some data is actually stored on the disk,” Polyakov says. “Once you get access to this file (hdbuserstore) and decrypt it with the static master key, which is the same on every installation, you have system user passwords and disk encryption keys. After that, you can get access to all data.

Porn mode in your browser isn’t very private – Browser privacy? You’re doing it wrong, says DuckDuckGo CEO Gabe Weinberg. According to him, the private browsing mode in your browser doesn’t work how you think it does. Private browsing mode (or “porn mode”) isn’t really all that private, he says — and he’s right. Generally speaking, flipping the private switch in your browser (whether it’s Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer) just makes sure that tracks aren’t left behind on the computer you’re using. Your roommate, spouse, or kids can’t just sit down and see what you’ve been up to, but loads of other people can – your ISP, for example. Also: the sites you visit and the ad networks serving you ads. So, what really goes on when you open a private browsing session in your browser?

After 10 years, reddit will finally be HTTPS-only – After working 9 months to update their code and webpages in preparation, reddit has finally made the leap to become HTTPS-only, and will begin encrypting all traffic on June 29th.

US Government Begins Outreach To Office Of Personnel Management Hack Victims – The US Office of Personnel Management is beginning to reach out to victims of last week’s extensive and unprecedented hack of its records. According to documents seen by TechCrunch, the OPM is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security’s US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) to identify the extent of the damage done by the hackers.

Company News:

Sprint stops data throttling, AT&T faces FCC fine – Could times be changing for throttling? Following the FCC’s new Net neutrality rules, Sprint halts the practice, and AT&T faces a $100 million fine for being unclear on how it throttled some customers.

Fitbit Spikes More Than 50% In IPO Debut – Fitbit went public this morning, soaring more than 50 percent at one moment. The wearables firm priced its equity at $20 per share. Early trading saw the shares crest the $30 mark. At the time of writing, Fitibit is currently trading for $29.60, a 48 percent gain. Regardless, the company is having the sort of debut that most startups dream of. It’s worth keeping in mind that Fitbit originally proposed a $14 to $16 share price for its flotation. As such, it’s even further ahead than some perhaps expected.

It’s official: Nokia-branded smartphones are coming in 2016 – Despite Nokia’s recent claim that it has “no plans” to return to the phone business, its CEO now says that new Nokia handsets are coming in 2016, when an existing agreement with Microsoft expires.

Intel Capital launches $125 million Diversity Fund for women and minorities – As part of its Diversity in Technology Initiative, Intel Capital has launched a $125 million fund to invest in startups founded by female and minority entrepreneurs. Here’s why it matters.

US Judge dismisses Sony’s attempt to halt legal action brought by ex-employees – A US Judge has ruled against Sony’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former employees, who are arguing that Sony failed to prevent their personal details falling into the hands of hackers.

Samsung wants court to review damages in patent fight with Apple – Samsung Electronics has asked that a full bench of an appeals court should review a damages award in a long-standing patent infringement dispute with arch-rival Apple. Apple sued Samsung in 2011 alleging that Samsung phones infringed on several iPhone patents. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California awarded Apple damages of $930 million after a jury found that Samsung infringed Apple’s design and utility patents and diluted its trade dresses, which relate to the overall look and packaging of a product.

Alibaba and Foxconn join SoftBank to invest millions in robotic industry – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced on June 18 its 145 yen ($118 million) investment in SoftBank Robotics Holdings (SBRH), a company that was previously owned by SoftBank and recently launched “Pepper”, the world’s first robot of emotional capability, as reported by China Daily on Thursday. After the investment, Alibaba will hold 20 percent of SBRH’s shares, while Taiwanese technology company Foxconn owns another 20 percent, and SoftBank owns the remaining 60 percent.

Google, Microsoft, Mozilla team up for WebAssembly binary format for the web – In a bid to lower parsing time for web applications, a W3C community group has created a new compilation target for web browsers.

Games and Entertainment:

Fallout Shelter overtakes Candy Crush Saga as the third most popular iOS game – Bethesda unveiled Fallout Shelter for iOS devices at E3, and data shows that within three days, it has become the third most downloaded game, ahead of Candy Crush Saga.


Best games of E3 2015 (pictures) – Check out our favorite games from E3 2015, presented here in alphabetical order.

Watch Snake sneak his way through 40 minutes of Metal Gear Solid V – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is shaping up to be an absolutely huge game, so it’s only right that E3 has produced a similarly huge video demonstration of the game in action. The 40-minute clip walks us through the game’s menus, showing music, gear, companion, and base customization options, before deploying player character Snake (AKA Big Boss) on the ground in northern Afghanistan.


Snail Games’ W3D gaming smartphone now up for pre-order – Archos may have, at least for now, given up on its mobile device gaming handheld mashup, but someone is taking up the cause. At CES early this year, Snail Games, a popular name in the mobile gaming world (Age of Wushu, Taichi Panda, Heroes of Gaia) showed off its own take on this niche device form factor. Called the W3D, the device is practically a tablet enclosed in a handheld frame, with a bit of 3DS gimmick on top. And now the W3D is available for pre-order, exclusively on Amazon.


Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is beautiful, brutal, and seriously ambitious – Yes, great video games should be more than just graphical eye candy, but in the case of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, it’s hard to ignore its aesthetic charms. The Dawn engine demo shown at the first annual PC Gaming Show—which included a list of flashy effects like depth of field, global illumination, volumetric lighting, air density, and exquisitely rendered cucumbers—was but a tease for what the actual game looks like in motion. Mankind Divided was easily the best-looking thing I saw at this year’s E3—and in a show filled with graphical heavyweights like Dice’s Star Wars: Battlefront, Sony’s Uncharted 4, and Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, that’s high praise indeed.


Off Topic (Sort of):

FCC votes to subsidize broadband for low-income households and limit spammy phone calls – The Federal Communications Commission approved two important proposals this morning. The first is an overhaul to its Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone service for low-income Americans and should soon also be able to subsidize high-speed internet, furthering the commission’s goal of seeing access spread across the country. The second is an update to the commission’s robocall rules that will allow service providers to use robocall blocking software to stop spammy calls from reaching their customers. The robocall rules go into effect immediately; the Lifeline overhaul will now be opened up for a comment period before being revised and likely entered into law.

Watch Boeing’s vertical Dreamliner take-off from the captain’s chair – At the Paris Air Show, Boeing’s 787-9 Dreamliner performed the spectacular feat of a vertical take-off. It turns out that Boeing wasn’t just filming the flight from the runway. The cockpit was decked out with cameras and Boeing has assembled the footage to take you on a wild ride. Thanks to an innovative “choose your view” feature that YouTube started testing earlier this year, Boeing has released a “multi-view flying display” that lets you toggle between angles of the same scene without missing a beat.


$49 Apple Watch sport band only costs $2.05 to make – You might think this is a nondescript, cheap replacement watch band, but you’d be wrong. It’s an official Apple Watch band, and there’s one major difference: its gigantic profit margin. According to IHS, each basic Apple Watch band like this one costs about $2.05 to produce. That certainly seems believable given that it’s a small slab of silicone with an even smaller amount of metal in it. Apple’s retail price on this thing: $49. That’s a gross profit margin of nearly 96%.


Secret Service agent who stole $820K from Silk Road pleads guilty – The Silk Road saga had a stunning coda in April, when two of the federal agents who investigated the site were charged with stealing from it as well. One of those two agents has now reached a plea deal with prosecutors. Shaun Bridges, a computer expert for the US Secret Service, is accused of stealing $820,000 in bitcoins from various drug dealers on the site. “Mr. Bridges has regretted his actions from the very beginning,” Bridges’ lawyer told Bloomberg News. “His decision to plead guilty reflects his complete acceptance of responsibility and is another step towards rehabilitation.”

Zuckerberg donates $5M to scholarship fund for undocumented immigrants – Facebook CEO calls the donation an “investment” in 400 undocumented students in the San Francisco Bay Area.

News site held liable for hateful comments, prompting free-speech concerns – The ruling involving an Estonian news site has prompted concern that it undermines EU rules protecting online intermediaries.

US Treasury says a woman will appear on $10 bills in 2020 – For the first time in more than 120 years, a woman is set to appear on US paper currency. The Treasury announced late last night that a portrait of a woman would appear on $10 bills to be introduced in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the vote. The actual person to appear on the bill has yet to be decided, with the Treasury inviting the public to use #TheNew10 hashtag to discuss the redesign and suggest prominent women for inclusion. Whoever is chosen will reportedly share space with current $10 bill incumbent Alexander Hamilton.

Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.

Backup & Restore Features

File Backup

Create a single backup file of one or more folders on your hard disk

Incremental and Differential backups.

Include and exclude filter ensures that you only backup relevant files.

Browse the backup file as a virtual FAT32 hard drive in Windows Explorer.

Files in use by Windows (such as Outlook .pst files) are backed up even when locked!

Multiple compression levels.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD)

Optionally exclude system and hidden files.

Supports Incremental and Differential backups.

Password protect backups to prevent unauthorized access.

Restore specific files or the entire backup.

Restore to any location.

Disk Imaging

Create a single backup file of a complete hard disk

Create a single backup file of one or many partitions

Incremental and differential images

Restore a partition to a different type. e.g. a logical partition can be restored as a bootable primary partition

Resize the restored partition. A hard disk upgrade can easily be performed by increasing the partition to fill the new disk.

Track 0 (The Master Boot Record) is saved with all backups.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD).

Disk image can be created whilst Windows is in use. A special driver ensures that the disk image represents an exact point in time and will not be affected by disk access that may occur during the backup process.

Verify images. Images (Backup files) can be separately verified or automatically verified before restore.

System files such as ‘pagefile.sys’ and ‘hiberfil.sys’ are not included in the image. This reduces the final backup file size.

Three compression levels can be selected to optimize between file size and speed.

Password protect images to prevent unauthorized access.

AES 256 bit encryption for ultimate security.

Set image filenames automatically.

Linux based rescue CD

Bart PE rescue CD plug-in

Windows PE 2.1 rescue CD with Windows boot menu.

Save your backup definitions as XML files and execute them with a single click from your desktop.

Includes VBScript integration and a VBScript generator for unparalleled control of the backup process.

Scheduling Features

Schedule daily, weekly or monthly.

Unattended completion.

Automatic incremental / differential images.

Automatic disk space management for local / remote hard drives.

Full logging of all backup operations. HTML log reports are generated and can be viewed using Reflect’s built in browser.

Limitations: See change info or Author’s link for limitations. This is an installer. Full download will be over 200 MB.


Spotify – Spotify is a new way to listen to music. Any track you like, any time you like. Just search for it in Spotify, then play it. Any artist, any album, any genre – all available instantly. With Spotify, there are no limits to the amount of music you could listen to. Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it.

All the music, all the time

Think of Spotify as your new music collection. Your library. Only this time your collection is vast: over 13 million tracks and counting. You can create as many playlists as you like from this collection – just drag and drop the tracks you want.

And because the music plays live, there’s no need to wait for downloads and no big dent in your hard drive. You can listen at any time, no matter where you are. Through your computer or your mobile phone.

Music to share

Thanks to Spotify, it’s now easier than ever to share music. You’re free to share everything you listen to on Spotify with your friends – tracks, playlists, the lot.

Just send them a link to a track or playlist and they can listen instantly. If you like, you can also collaborate on shared playlists. Social music made simple.

Thank you for the music

Having instant access to all this music is a wonderful thing, but what about the artists and musicians who make it?

We’re big believers in rewarding their creativity. That’s why we came up with a way to fairly compensate them for the music featured on Spotify. If they stop, the music stops. To us, its a no-brainer.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Even former NSA chief thinks USA Freedom Act was a pointless change – The former director of the National Security Agency isn’t particularly concerned about the loss of the government’s bulk metadata collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

As Gen. Michael Hayden pointed out in an interview at a Wall Street Journal conference on Monday, the only change that has happened is that data has moved to being held by phone companies, and the government can get it under a court order.

Hayden said:

If somebody would come up to me and say, “Look, Hayden, here’s the thing: This Snowden thing is going to be a nightmare for you guys for about two years. And when we get all done with it, what you’re going to be required to do is that little 215 program about American telephony metadata—and by the way, you can still have access to it, but you got to go to the court and get access to it from the companies, rather than keep it to yourself”—I go: “And this is it after two years? Cool!”

The NSA and the intelligence community as a whole still have many other technical and legal tools at their disposal, including the little-understood Executive Order 12333, among others.

Australian agencies accessing metadata more than ever before – A long-awaited report into Australian government agencies accessing telecommunications data has revealed a 1.2 percent jump in authorisations for data in the last financial year.

A total of 77 Australian state and federal agencies accessed the telecommunications data of citizens 334,658 times in the 2013-14 financial year, the government has revealed.

The details came in the annual report of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (PDF) that lists the interceptions and access to stored telecommunications data made by government agencies each financial year.

Of the 334,658 authorisations, the government stated that 324,260 of these were made to enforce criminal law. It has painted this figure as an improvement on the total 330,798 authorisations made in the previous financial year, as it was only a growth of 1.2 percent, compared to the 9.8 percent growth between 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Journalist appeals lawsuit to force cops to give up info on stingray use – After losing in court six months ago, Arizona-based reporter Beau Hodai filed an appeal earlier this week in an effort to force the City of Tucson and the Tucson Police Department to disclose records pertaining to their use of cell-site simulators.

Commonly referred to as “stingrays,” cell site simulators can be used to determine a person’s 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 along with information from other phones within range of the stingray.

For years, federal and local law enforcement have tried to keep the existence of stingrays a secret while simultaneously upgrading their capabilities. Over the last year, as stingrays and stingray use have come under scrutiny, new information about the secretive devices has been revealed.

FBI aerial surveillance revelations prompt backlash from US lawmakers – Revelations that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was operating a secret fleet of small aircraft spying on the public below has prompted a backlash of sorts.

Lawmakers in the US Senate introduced legislation Wednesday that would require federal authorities to get a probable-cause warrant from a judge to surveil the public from above with manned aircraft or drones.

Proposals to expand Americans’ cloud privacy rights have gone nowhere.

“Americans’ privacy rights don’t stop at the treetops,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said of his proposal.

The Protecting Individuals from Mass Aerial Surveillance Act (PDF), also sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), comes two weeks after the Associated Press “traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas.” What’s more, the FBI obscured the planes’ ownership through fake companies.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – June 17, 2015

10 Apps That Will Help You Survive the Summer;  Portal Lets You Quickly Transfer Big Files From PC To Phone;  Use Skype straight from the web–beta goes worldwide;  Facebook launches Moments: Makes privately sharing photos quick and easy;  Twitter’s auto-playing videos have arrived;  Cinnamon 2.6 – a Linux desktop for Windows XP refugees;  23 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  Box Integrates Into Office Online;  8 Cool Tricks for Google Hangouts;  There’s finally an official Raspberry Pi case;  The 5 Best Modern Video Game Remakes;  BitTorrent Shoot shares media across mobile devices in a snap;  FAQ: How Microsoft will update Windows 10;  Hack of cloud-based LastPass exposes hashed master passwords;  Teen shot dead after using app to track lost cell phone;  Retailers want to be able to scan your face without your permission;  How to use enterprise Wi-Fi security in SMBs;  Google Play Prepaid Vouchers Are Now Available In India;  33 must-see PC games revealed at E3 2015;  Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation;  RAMDisk (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

LastPass hack reinforces importance of using multi-factor authentication – Everything that’s important to you online depends on your willingness to use multifactor authentication. If you’re not sure what that means or how to do it, read this article right now.

Facebook launches Moments: Makes privately sharing photos quick and easy – As the summer kicks in gear, people are capturing moments with their smartphone cameras. With the new Moments app you can now quickly and easily share your memories with family and friends.


(Image: Facebook)

Use Skype straight from the web–beta goes worldwide – Skype just became easier to access, around the world. As an alternative to downloading the Skype app or program, users can turn to their browsers for their communication needs using Skype for Web (beta). The web version isn’t just for checking instant messages. It’s designed to provide the same video and phone calls associated with the full app. As we noted when the beta first launched stateside, users will still have to install a plug-in before initially using the site, but that seems to be only a small hurdle.


10 Apps That Will Help You Survive the Summer – Use your smartphone to help you and your family make the most of the season.

Portal Lets You Quickly Transfer Big Files From PC To Phone – Pushbullet, the company that makes a handy utility that moves notifications, links and files between devices, is out today with a new app called Portal, which focuses on file transfer alone. Launching first on Android where it’s able to more deeply integrate with the OS, Portal is designed to make it easier to move files – even large files – between your computer and your Android phone. To get started, you first download the Portal app from Google Play, then visit Using the Android app, you’ll then scan a QR code that displays on the website in order to connect the two devices. Afterward, you simply drag a file to your web browser and it’s transferred to your phone.

BitTorrent Shoot shares media across mobile devices in a snap – BitTorrent has released a new app to share byte-heavy content like long videos and batches of photos between various mobile devices without ever having to make a detour at the cloud. Just like all things BitTorrent, this app is all about preserving your privacy. Content will go directly between mobile devices, bypassing the cloud entirely to keep anything shared beyond the reach of prying eyes (or a police warrant). The interface is incredibly simple. Choose to send files from your mobile device and Shoot creates a convenient QR code, granting recipients access with a quick scan. The service will run users a one-time fee of $1.99. BitTorrent is letting people try Shoot before they buy it. You can send three batches of photos or videos before buying Shoot. Receivers never have to pay for the service; they simply need the app installed on their mobile device.


Twitter’s auto-playing videos have arrived – The auto-playing video. It’s okay if you don’t like it. Others feel the same way, so you’re not alone. The problem is that despite the large number of people who detest videos that start playing without permission, social networks are launching them anyway. Twitter’s auto-playing videos are now upon us, at least if you’re using iOS of the web (if you’re not, your day of reckoning is inbound). Twitter announced the feature’s arrival in a statement today, calling it a “new standard for viewability.”

Microsoft will finally make all Bing searches encrypted by default this summer – Microsoft has announced that starting this summer, all searches on Bing will be encrypted which will give users another layer of protection on the web but they are a bit late to the party.

Cinnamon 2.6 – a Linux desktop for Windows XP refugees – Cinnamon is best known as one of the two default desktops for Linux Mint, which is fast approaching its next major update. Mint 17.2 will include the brand new Cinnamon 2.6, just released, when delivered later this year. So far, so standard – only Cinnamon is no longer just a Linux Mint desktop. Cinnamon is now available directly as part of Debian 8 and Fedora 22. Naturally, Cinnamon will work with many other distros as well, but its inclusion in the default installers for big names such as Debian and Fedora marks a turning point for Cinnamon: this really is no longer just an “alternative” desktop for a single distro.


Multiple panels, individually configured, in the new Cinnamon

23 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 23 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

How to create an insane multiple monitor setup with three, four, or more displays – The more displays your computer has, the better—but there are considerations to keep in mind as you move into extreme multi-monitor setups for enhanced productivity and gaming.

There’s finally an official Raspberry Pi case – Ever since the Raspberry Pi went on sale, people have been whipping up amazing little cases for them. Now, three years after the Model A was born, they’re finally making an official case. A sort of plastic Pi crust, if you will. How much does the official Pi case sell for? It’s every bit as big a bargain as the tiny computer it’s meant to protect. They’re going for £7 from the Foundation’s swag shop, which is just under $10 at today’s exchange rate. You’ll be able to order them from Raspberry Pi distribution partners around the globe soon, too.


Box Integrates Into Office Online As The Cloud Company’s Bromance With Microsoft Continues – Box has integrated into Microsoft’s Office Online product, burrowing the enterprise file storage and sharing company deeper into the latter firm’s cloud productivity offering. Previously, Box integrated into Microsoft’s Office 365 product.  The integration allows users to open files from Box into Office Online, and have changes made to the document, or spreadsheet sync back to Box. Also coming later is a ‘share’ feature that will mimic how Box currently manages the function.

8 Cool Tricks for Google Hangouts You (Probably) Didn’t Know Existed – While mobile is most certainly what Google’s devs have in mind for Hangout’s future, let’s not neglect some of the cool things you can do in the desktop version right now. Check out our list of little-known treasures. There are definitely some cool things you didn’t know about.


4) Video Chat

Google Play Prepaid Vouchers Are Now Available In India For Users Without Credit Cards – India is one of Android’s fastest-growing markets, but its extremely low credit card penetration rate is a challenge for Google as it goes after sweet, sweet app revenue. The tech giant is taking steps to make it easier for people to purchase from Google Play, however, and the latest is the launch of prepaid voucher cards. Google Play’s prepaid vouchers can be used to purchase any kind of digital content in the store, including apps, movies, and books.

Google yanks Chrome’s new visual bookmarks manager – Chrome will roll back to the older, tree-style version of the bookmarks manager. Google says it is not giving up and will continue to search for ways to improve Chrome’s native bookmark experience. For anyone who likes the new bookmark manager, Google will keep it as an extension in the Chrome Web Store.

FAQ: How Microsoft will update Windows 10 – Although Microsoft remains tight-lipped about some of the details of how it plans to keep Windows 10 up to date, enough information has surfaced for a fairly clear picture of the process.


Hack of cloud-based LastPass exposes hashed master passwords – LastPass officials warned Monday that attackers have compromised servers that run the company’s password management service and made off with cryptographically protected passwords and other sensitive user data. It was the second breach notification regarding the service in the past four years. In all, the unknown attackers obtained hashed user passwords, cryptographic salts, password reminders, and e-mail addresses, LastPass CEO Joe Siegrist wrote in a blog post. It emphasized that there was no evidence the attackers were able to open cryptographically locked user vaults where plain-text passwords are stored. That’s because the master passwords that unlock those vaults were protected using an extremely slow hashing mechanism that requires large amounts of computing power to work.

Pointing up   For years I’ve cautioned against the use of password managers – easy, convenient, and decidedly unsafe.

The following are 2 past articles on this issue.

Should You Forget About Password Safes and Write Down Your Passwords?

Be Safe – Write Down Your Passwords

SwiftKey hack can remotely take over Samsung mobile devices – Android users on Samsung mobile devices could be vulnerable to a new type of security hack. The security flaw was discovered by Ryan Welton from NowSecure. He detailed his findings at the Blackhat Security Summit in London. The hackable exploit arises from the pre-installed SwiftKey keyboard. As Swiftkey searches for updates to its language packs over unencrypted lines, via plain text, it is susceptible to malicious security apps from any spoofed proxy server. Using this as a keyhole, Welton could scale up the attack to basically take over a vulnerable mobile device while the user remains unaware. The bug affects over 600 million Samsung users, including those using the Galaxy S6.

Teen shot dead after using app to track lost cell phone – A Canadian teen leaves his phone in a cab. He tracks it down to three men in a car. They allegedly refused to give him the phone back. He is then shot dead. Just as you have to be careful when meeting people who might be selling phones on Craigslist, you have to gauge the situation if you choose to trace your lost or stolen phone. If there’s the remotest potential of danger, call the police.

Retailers want to be able to scan your face without your permission – After more than a year of discussions, all nine privacy advocates have stormed out of a government-organized “multi-stakeholder process” to sort out details around the best practices for facial recognition technology. The sticking point was that corporations apparently refused to concede that there was any scenario during which a person’s consent to scan their face was needed.

As the privacy group wrote in a statement released late Monday evening:

At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they’ve never heard of are tracking their every movement—and identifying them by name—using facial recognition technology. Unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain agreement even with that basic, specific premise. The position that companies never need to ask permission to use biometric identification is at odds with consumer expectations, current industry practices, as well as existing state law.

How to use enterprise Wi-Fi security in SMBs – No matter what size your business, using WPA2 security is a good first step to protecting your Wi-Fi network. Don’t blow it by using the standard’s not-so-secure PSK mode.

Chinese snoops try tracking VPN users with fiendish JSONP trickery – Snoops are exploiting vulnerabilities in China’s most frequented websites to target individuals accessing web content which state censors have deemed hostile. The whole multi-stage attack relies on a JavaScript-related vulnerability, known as JSONP, first publicised in 2013. Privacy is compromised when surfers browse sensitive websites while logged into another mainstream website, even in a different tab or window. The upshot is that Chinese surfers who visit Baidu, for example, at the same time as visiting targeted non-government organisation, Uyghur and Islamic websites are exposing their surfing habits even if they are using a VPN. The snooping has been going on since at least October 2013, with the most recent attack discovered only a few days ago, reports security tools firm AlienVault.

Company News:

Amazon Uber-for-Prime crowd delivery rumored – Amazon is developing an “Uber for deliveries” known internally as On My Way, insiders say, hoping to bypass traditional methods with citizen couriers. The project would see Amazon build a footprint in physical stores, though only to temporarily gather order boxes so that a network of contract staff could pick them up and deliver them to customers. The goal, it’s said, is to trim Amazon’s growing costs related to getting orders to shoppers, as well as alleviating bottlenecks at high-demand periods such as Christmas.

Microsoft Opens A Branded Store On Indian E-Commerce Platform Snapdeal – Microsoft has launched its own branded store on Snapdeal, one of India’s top e-commerce sites, as it aims to grow its share of the country’s fast-growing mobile market. Microsoft already sells product via Amazon India, but its store on Snapdeal will be much like a mirror of its own site, complete with “exclusive products [and] offers.”

Apple Taps MobileIron To Help It Deploy iPad Apps Into The Enterprise – Apple is working with mobile device management shop MobileIron to help deploy applications into the enterprise. The collaborative effort is part of a larger enterprise push by Apple that has it working with IBM and a number of other firms that sell products into the enterprise.

Amazon to call on US Congress for fewer drone restrictions – Amazon on Wednesday will call on the U.S. Congress to embrace automated drone flights and come up with a set of simple, nationwide regulations that will allow its proposed Prime Air service to get off the ground. The company is one of several that is lobbying U.S. lawmakers hard to accept looser regulations for drone flights than those proposed recently by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Games and Entertainment:

33 must-see PC games revealed at E3 2015 – Between all the console talk and publishers rushing to reveal their hot new games ahead of the E3 press crunch, the annual “Day Zero” press conferences held by gaming’s biggest publishers before E3’s doors officially open don’t hold quite as much luster as they used to. But don’t let that dissuade you! Day Zero is chock full of info about the biggest games barreling down the pipeline in the coming months, and now that all the major consoles pack AMD hardware, the vast majority of those blockbusters are destined to grace PCs, too—even if publishers typically only hype up the console versions at E3. From Fallout 4 to Doom to Star Wars Battlefront—and plenty more in between—here are the big-name games you can expect to play on your computer soon.


Super Mario Maker Will Let You Build Your Own Mario Levels This September – Nintendo is letting players take control of its Mario platform game building tools with Super Mario Maker, and now we know when it’ll be available: September 11, 2015. The “game” allows people to create their own levels in either Super Mario Bros 8-bit graphics, or more modern 3D style (albeit with the same mechanics underneath), and then play them instantly.


National Geographic and Morgan Freeman helm ‘The Story of God’ TV series – National Geographic’s newest undertaking is a world away from its coverage of the animal kingdom. In partnership with Revelations Entertainment, its latest project is The Story of God. The series will be on air next year on The National Geographic Channel, and will see a global release in 171 countries in 45 different languages. Lending heavenly narration skills to the series is Morgan Freeman. At this time, it’s unclear whether he will be present in voice or figure as well. Either way, attaching his name was a smart move on Nat Geo’s part.

The 5 Best Modern Video Game Remakes – With a Final Fantasy VII remake coming, we look at other franchises that got the console treatment. Perhaps no game has more fans waiting for a remake than the legendary Final Fantasy VII from 1997. And they got their wish last night, when Square Enix announced it will be completely remaking it, starting with a PlayStation 4 version. To celebrate, let’s look back a few of the best video game remakes from the last couple of decades. If FFVII turns out half as good as these, fans will rejoice.


With a Final Fantasy VII remake coming, we look at other franchises that got the console treatment.

New Xbox One dashboard puts Cortana on call – All your base is belong to Cortana! Whether it be your smartphone, your tablet, or your PC, Microsoft’s personal assistant is there to serve your every voiced need. And now, she’s on the Xbox One too! Microsoft has just demoed the latest dashboard experience and it showed off the new and improved interface. While things are arguably better for hunting down friends and remembering what game you last played, one of the most interesting new features is probably one that you hardly expected: Cortana.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Stat nerds and reality clash in Donald Trump candidacy – Technically Incorrect: The boffins declare that the “Celebrity Apprentice” host is the worst presidential candidate since data was collected. Trump insists he’s the greatest.

Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation – A Columbia University team of researchers have created what is said to be the first ever engine that is driven by evaporation. The engine, in this case, is small and made of plastic and able to power LED lights and similar mild tasks when exposed to a plain puddle of water. The engine is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough, and it could in the future prove to be an inexpensive and effective way to generate useable amounts of energy from commonly found bodies of water.


Get excited for next month’s Pluto flyby with this beautiful teaser – The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in 2006, and is currently hurtling toward Pluto at more than 35,000mph (nearly 60,000 km/h). It’s set to pass the giant ball of rock and ice on July 14th, and when it does it will give us the first real glimpse ever seen of the former planet. In anticipation of that historic moment, the National Space Society commissioned this beautiful video teaser (conveniently called New Horizons) by the man behind Wanderers, the space-themed short film that went viral late last year. Where Wanderers was all about the places our species might someday go, New Horizons is all about paying homage to the exploration we’ve already accomplished at a distance.


The creation of the modern laptop – An in-depth look at lithium-ion batteries, industrial design, Moore’s law, and more. Pick up your laptop. Actually, scratch that—read this paragraph first, then pick up your laptop. You are holding one of the most advanced machines ever built in the history of humanity. It is the result of trillions of hours of R&D over tens of thousands of years. It contains so many advanced components that there isn’t a single person on the planet who knows how to make the entire thing from scratch. It is perhaps surprising to think of your laptop as the pinnacle of human endeavour, but that doesn’t make it any less true: we are living in the information age, after all, and our tool for working with that information is the computer.

This Range Rover Prototype Can Be Driven With A Smartphone App – There are remote control cars and then there are Remote Control Cars. This is the latter of the two. Range Rover UK developed a prototype system that allows a Range Rover Sport to be controlled remotely through a smartphone app. And not just the door locks. The vehicle can be driven from the app.


Self-awareness (probably) isn’t unique to humans – You’ve likely heard it said that humans are distinguished by their self-awareness, but researchers are saying that such statements might be bull. According to recent research, humans likely aren’t the only creatures on this planet to possess self-awareness, with some animals possessing at least a primitive level of awareness of self. The key is mental simulation of an environment and the need for at least a low level of self awareness to do that, and signs that some animals are capable of such environmental simulation.


The future of the Apple Watch: Three big questions – While the Apple Watch has generated tons of interest and become the world’s best-selling smartwatch, it’s still facing big questions in the long term. Here are the three biggest.

Something to think about:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

–      Leonardo da Vinci

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced SystemCare 8 Free – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE!

RAMDisk – RAMDisk is Freeware (up to 4GB disk size). It creates a virtual RAM drive, or block of memory, which your computer treats as if it were a disk drive. By storing files and programs into memory, you can speed up internet load times and disk-to-disk activities, accelerate databases and reduce compile times. Save and load features allow RAMDisk to appear as persistent storage, even through reboots.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden’s lawyer slams Times story claiming leaks ‘betrayed’ British spies – A Sunday Times article stating that British spies had been “betrayed” to Russian and Chinese intelligence services as a result of Edward Snowden’s mass-surveillance revelations to the press is “utter nonsense,” claims the whistleblower’s lawyer.

Robert Tibbo could not be more straightforward. “There was no possibility of interception. Zero,” says the Canadian lawyer from Montreal who has represented Edward Snowden in Hong Kong since June of 2013. That was when the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor leaked classified documents on America’s mass surveillance programs to members of the press. Mr. Tibbo’s client came under pressure after British sources revealed last weekend that spies were pulled out of operations because China and Russia have cracked Mr. Snowden’s files.

“He left this place [Hong Kong] with no data on him”, Mr. Tibbo claimed in a telephone interview from Hong Kong on Monday. He was one of the only two people, along with solicitor Jonathan Man, who had any knowledge of Mr. Snowden’s whereabouts in the city at the time. In an interview Mr. Tibbo was with Mr. Snowden when the whistleblower left Hong Kong for Russia.

“There was no data in a cloud. He passed the data on to the journalists and that was it. Any actual copy he had with him was destroyed [before he left Hong Kong], precisely to avoid it from being seized or intercepted. I was a witness to all of that. “The Sunday Times, a British newspaper owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, published a story last weekend claiming that Britain was forced to “pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries” as a result of China and Russia having cracked the “top secret cache of files stolen” by Edward Snowden. The article cited only anonymous sources identified as coming from Downing Street, the Home Office and security services.

The Sunday Times sends DMCA notice to critics of Snowden hacking story – The Sunday Times dropped a bombshell this weekend, reporting that the top secret files leaked by Edward Snowden have been obtained by the Russian and Chinese governments. The story claimed Western intelligence agencies were “forced into rescue operations” to mitigate the damage, and one UK government source claimed that Snowden had “blood on his hands.”

It would be a major blow to Snowden and the journalists who worked with him—if it were true. But the bold claims started falling apart shortly after it was published this weekend. The story is behind a paywall but available elsewhere. It’s based entirely on anonymous British officials and contains some glaring inaccuracies.

Snowden confidante Glenn Greenwald immediately attacked it as “journalism at its worst.” Greenwald is a predictable critic, to be sure, but Times reporter Tom Harper was later questioned about his story on CNN and admitted he’s been unable to check out any of the far-reaching claims told to him by government sources. The reporter answered one question after another with some version of “I don’t know,” admitting he has no idea how any “hack” took place, how or when any foreign governments got the files, or if the files were encrypted at all. Harper simply maintained that the Snowden hacking story was the “official position of the British government.”

This morning, lawyers at Times Newspapers took a step to limit Greenwald’s criticism, sending a notice telling The Intercept that Greenwald’s story, which included a low-res image of the Times’ front page, violates their copyright. The Intercept quickly published the takedown notice, and on Twitter Greenwald made clear that his publication won’t be deleting his copy of the Times’ “humiliating headline.”


EFF, ACLU appeal license plate reader case to California Supreme Court – Two privacy activist groups formally appealed on Tuesday to the California Supreme Court, in their attempt to compel two Southern California law enforcement agencies to release one week’s worth of license plate reader data.

In May 2013, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) had sued the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to gain access to the data as a way to better understand this surveillance technology. The groups lost in 2014 at the lower court level and last month at the appellate court.

Both agencies, like many others nationwide, use license plate readers (LPRs, or ALPRs) to scan cars and compare them at incredible speeds to a “hot list” of stolen or wanted vehicles. In some cases, that data is kept for weeks, months, or even years. Handing over such a large volume of records by a California law enforcement agency is not without precedent.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 15, 2015

Net neutrality rules go into effect: what happens now;  Create dynamic 3D animated avatars with your smartphone;  How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide;  Windows 10: The only major OS still trying to squeeze a buck from consumers;  Google’s Free App of the Week Promo Focuses on Kids;  Consumer group says Apple’s iPads are slower than a Surface Pro 3 or a $150 Android tablet;  Five unusual Android launchers to spruce up your phone;  How to take better photos in low light;  The latest joy: Selfies with police officers giving you a ticket;  How MajorGeeks Protects You and Why We Do What We Do;  Even with a VPN, open Wi-Fi exposes users;  Staying safe on public Wi-Fi;  This Tech Stock Is Up 4200% in Less Than 2 Months;  Playing games on the PC is making a comeback;  7 Steam Summer Sale Tips Every Gamer Should Know;  Online-Only Shows You Need to Watch Now;  Twitter tells us in which state people hate their jobs the most.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Net neutrality rules go into effect: what happens now – The rules prohibit broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Internet traffic and from charging website owners and providers of Web-based services for prioritized traffic. The rules also reclassify broadband from a lightly regulated information service to a more heavily regulated telecom-style service, although the FCC voted to exempt broadband providers from many of those common-carrier rules. Here are four things to watch for as the rules go into effect and the lawsuits go forward:

Texas teacher fired for ‘black segregation’ Facebook post about McKinney video – An elementary-school teacher goes on Facebook to declare “blacks are the problem.” She is the second educator this week to be removed from her job for a Facebook posting.

Consumer group says Apple’s iPads are slower than a Surface Pro 3 or a $150 Android tablet – A consumer group conducted a tablet performance test in which Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 was 20% faster than the iPad Air 2, and the iPad mini 3 was beaten by a supermarket’s low-cost Android tablet.

Chrome Should Soon Be Easier On Your Mac’s Battery – Chrome already got a new feature that can disable crappy Flash ads and win you back some battery cycles, but there’s more in the pipeline. Per senior Chrome engineer Peter Kasting outlining future steps on Google+, we’re going to see changes to the way Chrome handles rendering of background tabs (i.e., the ones you aren’t immediately looking at), and eking out some minor but important gains in the CPU efficiency of searching with Google. There’s a lot more going on, most of which is designed to help Chrome match or approach CPU efficiency found in Safari.

Hidden Chrome on Android features will improve your mobile browsing – Chrome has a lot of hidden features, some of which take a bit more digging to find. Jack Wallen highlights four such features that will help improve your Chrome on Android experience.

Create dynamic 3D animated avatars with your smartphone – The researchers report that this technology “facilitates a range of new applications in computer animation and consumer-level online communication based on personalized avatars.” Indeed, imagine going into one of BioWare’s or Bethesda’s character creators and having the ability to upload your 3D face. No longer would gamers spend hours fine-tuning their avatar. The researchers were even able to show how an actor could manipulate multiple 3D facial renders in real-time.

The latest joy: Selfies with police officers giving you a ticket – In Sri Lanka, there’s a curious new selfie trend, one the world shouldn’t miss. And police say they like it.


The selfie that apparently started it all. Dhada Selfie/Facebook screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Windows 10: The only major OS still trying to squeeze a buck from consumers – Putting a monetary obstacle in the way of people who want to jump to Windows 10 hampers Microsoft’s vision for a service-centric, cloud-connected future for Windows. Consumers also love getting stuff for free.

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. It’s a far cry from the one-size-fits-all, this-is-just-what-comes-with-your-PC vision of Windows. 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.


Linux Mint’s system settings.

Google’s Free App of the Week Promo Focuses on Kids – According to reports, Google’s new free app giveaway is limited to a weekly timeframe—or “free app of the week,” if you prefer the traditional phrasing. And it’s not just any ol’ Android app that’s getting the special, cheaper treatment. The free app of the week promotion only seems to apply to apps within Google’s recently launched Family section of the Google Play store—at least, right now. It’s unclear whether Google will be branching the promotion out to additional categories, or whether this free app release promotion is just timed to take advantage of the new Family section’s launch.

Five unusual Android launchers to spruce up your phone – One of the benefits of Android’s openness is that many of its parts can be replaced by third party apps and services. One of those parts is the homescree and app launcher, the very first piece of software the user meets when using their smartphone. After the lock screen, of course. You might have heard of launchers like Nova, Apex, Go, or even Google’s own Google Now, but here are five more that you won’t usually read about in the news unless they have a major update or release.


The seven “Prime Directives” of repairing and upgrading tech – Over the years I’ve built up a set of rules that I keep in mind when fixing things. I call them the “Prime Directives,” not because I’m a huge Star Trek fan, but because they’re important, and bad things tend to happen when I violate them.

Twitter Serving Up Ads Based on the Apps You Install – The tool “enables app advertisers to reach users based on the categories of apps they have installed on their device, or in which we think they have interest,” Twitter product manager Deepak Rao wrote in a blog post. “One of the biggest priorities for mobile app marketers is to reach the people who are most likely to use and love their apps. Today’s launch is the next step in our journey to help these advertisers connect with the right customers on Twitter – while providing users with the most relevant and useful ad content.” As Re/code noted, Twitter first announced plans for this in November, and is rolling it out now.

How to take better photos in low light – Low-light photography doesn’t always mean taking photos at night. There are plenty of situations where your eyes may be able to adjust to lower light easily, such as in a restaurant, but your camera has trouble seeing as well as you do. Wherever you may be, taking images in low light doesn’t have to be tricky. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making photos in challenging lighting conditions.


The original image on the left lost a lot of detail in the shadows. By shooting raw, you can recover much of this lost detail with a simple slider and end up with the photo on the right. Lexy Savvides/CNET

Facebook’s SSD findings: Failure, fatigue and the data center – ​SSDs revolutionized data storage, even though we know little about how well they work. Now researchers at Facebook and Carnegie-Mellon share millions of hours of SSD experience


How MajorGeeks Protects You and Why We Do What We Do – There have been some articles written lately about download sites and we’d like to take a minute to respond to some of what we have been reading. Sites like HowToGeek wrote an article here that was actually very kind to MajorGeeks considering what and who we are up against. So, let us fill you in on how things work differently at MajorGeeks.

Pointing up    MajorGeeks has been my recommended download site for many years precisely because of the issues raised in this article.

US officials reveal second massive hack: security clearance forms grabbed – The recent hack of government data, at least according to those who know of the matter, is far worse than previously revealed. At least 4 million people were comprised, it was originally reported, but a recent letter to the OPM indicated that every single federal employee might have had some data stolen, including former federal workers. Now a second hack has been disclosed by sources, and it is said to have involved the theft of data related to intelligence employees and military personnel.

Even with a VPN, open Wi-Fi exposes users – By now, any sentient IT person knows the perils of open Wi-Fi. Those free connections in cafes and hotels don’t encrypt network traffic, so others on the network can read your traffic and possibly hijack your sessions. But one of the main solutions to this problem has a hole in it that isn’t widely appreciated. This gap in coverage may only be a matter of seconds, but that’s enough to expose valuable information like logon credentials. Try running a network monitoring tool like Microsoft’s TCPView for Windows or Little Snitch for Mac before you establish your Internet connection and see what happens in those first few seconds. The information may be protected by encryption, but it can carry details about your system configuration that could be used to identify it—or provide clues for an attacker.

Staying safe on public Wi-Fi – Stuck without a data connection on the road? Free public Wi-Fi is one of those little luxuries that can make travelling easier, but you do need to exercise caution in how you use it. Here are some tips on what to look out for when using public Wi-Fi, whether you use a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

US Navy is looking to buy zero-day and other exploits online – It’s no secret that security researchers and cyber criminals often buy and sell exploits online. Researchers usually sell their findings back to companies in bug-bounty programs, while criminals usually sell their knowledge to other criminals who can then exploit the unpatched vulnerability. But there’s also a third kind of exploit buyer out there, and that’s governments, who use these exploits for their own cyber-attacks. That’s seemingly the case here, where the US Navy actually posted an ad saying they were buying exploits found in popular software.

Company News:

This Tech Stock Is Up 4200% in Less Than 2 Months – The stock of a Chinese technology company has risen just over 4,200% since it went public just 56 days ago. The amazing run, Bloomberg notes, is equivalent to the past 11 years of gains in Apple’s shares. It also gives the company, Beijing Baofeng Technology Co., an almost unbelievable valuation of 715 times earnings. That’s 46 times Apple’s P/E of 15. Janus Capital’s Bill Gross, a legendary bond investor, recently said that the technology-heavy Shenzhen market, where Beijing Baofeng is listed, would be a great trade for short-sellers, who bet that shares will go down.

Rough sailing ahead for Twitter after CEO’s departure – Can Twitter finally give Wall Street what it wants now that its embattled CEO Dick Costolo is stepping aside after months of disappointing investors? While tech’s other heavy hitters, including Facebook — with nearly a billion more users than Twitter — and Google, constantly tinker to improve their products, Twitter ‘s momentum has stalled, some analysts believe.

After years of silence, Amazon releases first transparency report – Despite it being known best for its online retail business, its cloud services power millions of apps, sites, and services around the world. But the news couldn’t come soon enough. Amazon is the last major technology company in the Fortune 500 to disclose how many times governments have come knocking on its door, demanding customer and user data. Amazon, known by insiders for being notoriously secretive, was at no point under a legal obligation to report its numbers, but had faced mounting pressure in the face of transparency reports becoming an industry norm. Schmidt said the report, which covers the six months starting January 1 and ending May 31, will be released biannually.

By the numbers:

Amazon received 813 subpoenas, of which it fully complied with 66 percent;

Amazon received 35 search warrants, of which it fully complied with just over half;

Out of the other 13 other court orders it received, Amazon fully complied with just four;

Amazon received 132 foreign requests, of which it fully complied with 82 percent;

Amazon complied with the one removal orders (like user data) it received

Amazon disclosed that it had received between zero and 249 national security requests, such as a court order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Alibaba to launch Netflix-like streaming service in China – Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba has announced its plans to create its own media streaming platform. Alibaba will be calling the new platform TBO, Tmall Box Office. TBO will run licensed domestic content from China was well as foreign content. The service even has plans to create its own in-house programs, as Netflix did with House of Cards. Competition is heating up as Chinese companies are in a bit of a spending war with each other, trying to gain market share in the emerging market of media streaming technology.

This Country Is Logging Almost 1M Uber Trips Per Day – Uber has expanded rapidly in recent years, but like many tech companies, its main focus in the years to come will be China, according to a leaked letter from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to investors. Uber is available in 11 Chinese cities, which cover about 14 million people who are taking almost 1 million trips per day.

Uber to invest over $1B in China, expand to 50 more cities – In a letter to investors, CEO Travis Kalanick calls the ride-hailing service’s growth in the country “remarkable and unprecedented.”

With payroll in arrears, online antivirus seller shuts doors – The sudden shutdown of a computer tech support call center has left some of its employees wondering if they will be paid. EZ Tech Support, based in Portland, Oregon, took calls from people who had advertising software installed on their computers that warned of possible security and performance problems. The programs implored people to call the company’s number, which was displayed amid warnings.

Amazon to have select Prime items shipped from merchants – If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you may find many more items eligible for the service’s free two-day shipping option in the near future. That’s because the internet retailing giant is testing a program that has Prime items shipped directly from the independent merchants selling who sell them. Normally, only items sold directly by Amazon, or merchants’ items that are stored in Amazon’s warehouses, are eligible for the Prime two-day shipping option. This change benefit both customers and sellers.

Games and Entertainment:

Playing games on the PC is making a comeback – Video game consoles have long dominated the video game industry, offering a seemingly cheaper and more consistent experience. But not for long.

7 Steam Summer Sale Tips Every Gamer Should Know – It’s that time of year again. The Steam Summer Sale is back, and that means more than a week of constantly reloading the Steam store to see what games you can pick up for a few bucks each. It’s easy to go nuts during the sale, so here are some tips on how to get the most during the event.


Look out, Twitch! YouTube Gaming is coming this summer – Launching this summer in the US and UK, will be a portal just for games—bascially the “Twitch” portion of YouTube. There will be game pages for “over 25,000” titles showing info about the games and a list of streamers playing them. There will also be channel pages for streaming personalities and companies. Searches from will be sectioned off from the rest of the site, too—YouTube’s blog post (which we received an advance copy of) says that “typing ‘call’ will show you Call of Duty and not Call Me Maybe.” And of course, there’s also chat.


Fallout 4, Dishonored 2, Doom—Bethesda opens up with both barrels – We knew in advance that we’d be hearing more about Fallout 4 and Doom from Bethesda at their “E3 showcase” Sunday evening, but the best laid plans of mice and mutants gang aft agley—a brief technical mix-up the day before also told us that we’d be getting a look at Dishonored 2 as well. But there didn’t need to be any surprises—those three AAA games themselves were enough to warm any gamer’s heart. Especially if you like Fallout.


Watch all the new footage of Doom from E3 – E3 2015 got off to a chainsaw-intensive start Sunday when Bethesda showed tons of footage from Doom, its forthcoming sequel to the genre-defining franchise. We took a long look of the single-player campaign that showed off many of the game’s best-loved weapons, including the shotgun, the rocket launcher, and (of course) the chainsaw. We also saw a glimpse of the multi-player campaign, which players will be able to mod heavily using a new tool called Snapmap. Check it out:


The new Fallout mobile game, Fallout Shelter, is available right now – The creators of Fallout 4 have released a new mobile game associated with the Fallout franchise. In Fallout Shelter, you make your own nuclear shelter, or vault. As the overseer of said vault, you will then need to maintain the underground base, keeping your residents happy. The game has a 2D-animation look playing off the Pip-Boy characters of the Fallout series. The game looks like a cross between SimTower and the base management system in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The game is free on iOS tonight. It won’t have paywall timers and won’t require an internet connection to play.

Online-Only Shows You Need to Watch Now – Netflix isn’t alone in creating great TV that doesn’t require rabbit ears, cable (beyond the modem), or hell, even an actual TV. Streaming video has quickly become a natural setting for scripted drama and comedy. With Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Yahoo Screen, and more, you can watch at your own pace, or binge watch all at once.  The bottom line? You don’t need a TV to watch quality scripted television.

Off Topic (Sort of):

In the Future, Employees Won’t Exist – Contract work is becoming the new normal. Consider Uber: The ride-sharing startup has 160,000 contractors, but just 2,000 employees. That’s an astonishing ratio of 80 to 1. And when it comes to a focus on contract labor, Uber isn’t alone. Handy, Eaze and Luxe are just a few of the latest entrants into the “1099 Economy.” Though they get the most attention, it’s not just on-demand companies that employ significant contract workforces. Microsoft has nearly two-thirds as many contractors as full-time employees. Four trends are converging to make contracting more attractive for both employers and workers, and reshaping how businesses and employees look at the traditional full-time model.

Twitter tells us in which state people hate their jobs the most – Technically Incorrect: An analysis of an entire year’s tweets shows that there’s a geographical split between those who say they like their work and those who say they don’t.

Parrot unveils 13 new minidrones, including a drone-powered boat – Drones aren’t always huge and hugely expensive. Parrot has been selling a line of minidrones for the last few years, and today it has revealed 13 new ones. That’s not 13 individual types of drone, but 13 “versions” of three different types. There are new flying and rolling drones, as well as one that takes to the waves for the first time.


1980s Amiga has been running the AC and heat in 19 schools for 30 years – The Grand Rapids Public School district took a big step into the future back in the 1980s when it used money from an energy bond to purchase a Commodore Amiga computer. The Amiga, which replaced a computer the size of a refrigerator, was set up to control heat and air conditioning at the district’s 19 schools. It has been doing that job tirelessly for the last 30 years. How long do you think you could keep a modern laptop working? Four or five years? Maybe? The Amiga uses an unusual 1200-bit modem and a wireless radio signal to communicate with the 19 buildings.


Talk techie to me: RealDoll wants to make sex dolls that move, chat – RealDoll is reportedly working with robotics experts to make a more lifelike and unintentionally creepier love doll. Hopefully it won’t dump you for the Roomba.


Something to think about:

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”

–      Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:


MajorGeek says: We don’t really need a review here. If you’re a tech, you know what this tool does and it’s already in your toolbox. For the rest of you, Roguekiller is a popular, effective tool to remove some stubborn malware but be warned; you better know what you’re doing. While a lot of more well-known tools will simply scan and delete for you, this tool will show you everything it finds that is a possible problem. You need to know what to remove and what not to remove. In the second screenshot below you will see where it found 7 potential PUP’s on a clean install of Windows 7. If someone told you to download this and you’re not a knowledgeable computer tech, run. Run as fast as you can and get a new ‘friend’. A program like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware would serve you better. I’m not knocking RogueKiller, it’s excellent; in the right hands. If you don’t believe me, simply read the comments below.

RogueKiller is an anti-malware program written in C++ and able to detect and remove generic malwares and some advanced threats such as rootkits, rogues, worms…

Based on generic ways to find malwares by their behaviour (heuristics), on classic anti-malware analysis (signature finding) and on undocumented hacks, RogueKiller can find/remove most of the basic malwares (rogues, trojans, …) and some advanced threats like ZeroAccess or TDSS that behave more like rootkits.

Here’s a little summary of what RogueKiller is able to do:

Kill malicious processes

Stop malicious services

Unload malicious DLLs from processes

Find/Kill malicious hidden processes

Find and remove malicious autostart entries, including :

1: Registry keys (RUN/RUNONCE, …)

2: Tasks Scheduler (1.0/2.0)

3: Startup folders

Find and remove registry hijacks, including :

1: Shell / Load entries

2: Extension association hijacks

3: DLL hijacks

4: Many, many others …

Read / Fix DNS Hijacks (DNS Fix button)

Read / Fix Proxy Hijacks (Proxy Fix button)

Read / Fix Hosts Hijacks (Hosts Fix button)

Restore shortcuts / files hidden by rogues of type “Fake HDD“

Read / Fix malicious Master Boot Record (MBR), even hidden behind rootkit

List / Fix SSDT – Shadow SSDT – IRP Hooks (Even with inline hooks)

Find and restore system files patched / faked by a rootkit


Audio Switcher – Easily switch between ANY sound device on your Windows PC with this incredibly small and lightweight application. Using this application allows you to switch output OR input sound devices at the click of a button, or the press of a key.


Change Windows Default Audio devices without opening Control Panel

Full Global Hot Key support which allows you to change the default audio device with the press of a key

Favorite Devices – Only your “favorite” devices will show up in the Tray Icon Menu.

Quick switch: Click on the notification icon once and it will cycle through your favorited devices! Great if you have two devices you switch between often.

Settings support for closing to tray, starting minimized to tray and running at start up (using a registry key)

Optional: Periodically check for updates


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Russia and China cracked Snowden’s files, identified U.S., UK spies – Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies have reportedly decrypted files of former U.S. National Security Agency contractor and leaker Edward Snowden, and have identified British and U.S. secret agents.

MI6, the U.K.’s secret intelligence service, has withdrawn agents from overseas operations in hostile countries, according to a report in the Sunday Times of London, citing U.K. government officials and Western intelligence agencies.

The report contains some apparently contradictory information. Although The Sunday Times quoted a U.K. Home Office official saying that Snowden has “blood on his hands,” it also quoted a government source saying that there was no sign that agents have been hurt.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s aides, however, confirmed that Snowden’s files are in the hands of Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies, according to the report.

Pointing up    It’s barely conceivable – just enough to shore up the convictions of the poorly informed. Just remember; liars lie. And, both the U. S. and the U. K. have proven to be A+++ liars in this matter.  Who would publicly admit that their very own ultra/ultra – secret/secret – futuristic/futuristic – encrypted/encrypted – impossible to break/impossible to break – encryption system is worthless?

More right wing extremist nonsense parroted by a mainstream media which continues to fail massively in it’s primary function – as it has for years.

Right to be forgotten applies to all Google domains, rules French privacy authority – Google must respect the European Union’s ‘right to be forgotten’ court ruling on all its sites, not just those it says target EU countries, the French data protection authority has ruled, giving the company 15 days to comply.

The French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) ordered Google to remove the affected search results on all its domains, including, or face a fine of up to €300,000 (about $337,000). So far, Google has only removed such results from those of its sites it says target EU users, including or French residents need only click the “Use” link on the homepage to have access to unfiltered search results.

The dispute began over a year ago, when the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) gave people the right to request removal of search results for queries including their names, if the results are inadequate or irrelevant.

This means that E.U. residents who want to remove a search result displayed on a search of their name can ask a search engine to delist it. The search engine must review the request and grant it if the proper conditions are met. If the search engine does not comply, they can lodge a complaint with their local data protection authority.

Germany drops investigation into claims the NSA tapped Angela Merkel’s phone – The German government has dropped a formal investigation into allegations that the NSA had been tapping chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for several years. German federal prosecutor Harald Range said in a statement on Friday there was insufficient evidence to continue the investigation, The New York Times reports.

Back in 2013, German newspaper Der Spiegel ran a report claiming the US had been monitoring Merkel’s phone since 2002, based on internal NSA documents it had obtained. The White House responded by assuring Merkel she was no longer being monitored, but the report suggested the surveillance had gone on for more than a decade.

Range noted that while the NSA documents did contain a phone number that could be traced back to Merkel, there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest there had been an “authentic” order from the NSA to tap the phone. He also said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Merkel’s phone had actually been tapped.

What The U.K. Surveillance Powers Review Says On Encryption And Hacking – An independent review of U.K. surveillance powers conducted by QC David Anderson published its findings this week. Among its recommendations the report calls for judges to sign off interception warrants, and for a new law to govern surveillance powers — replacing the problematic patchwork of outdated and amended legislation that currently exists with stricter and more coherent oversight.

The report also supports continued use of “bulk data collection” (aka mass surveillance) by U.K. intelligence agencies — so long as “strict additional safeguards” oversee its usage and minimize privacy impacts.

Anderson writes:

…if the acceptable use of vast state powers is to be guaranteed, it cannot simply be by reference to the probity of its servants, the ingenuity of its enemies or current technical limitations on what it can do. Firm limits must also be written into law: not merely safeguards, but red lines that may not be crossed.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 15, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – June 12, 2015

25 Android Apps Put to the Security Test;  Fake mobile phone towers discovered in London;  Which Android phone to get? Google has a tool for that;  This is how much time you’re spending on smartphone apps;  ‘Your PC may be infected!’ Inside the shady world of antivirus telemarketing;  U.K. Review Backs Mass Surveillance But Wants Judges To Sign Warrants;  Apple Says These Are the Best Apps of the Year;   Android TV hidden gems: The 10 best hard-to-find apps;  Surfing the Web On Your iPhone Is About to Get Way Better;  Twitter’s mobile app now supports landscape video recording;  Twitter adds sharing block lists to help limit harassment;  Vintage Ask toolbar is malware – and we’ll kill Jeeves, says Microsoft;  These are the first Oculus Rift games;  German parliament may need to replace all software and hardware after hack;  Court refuses to block the FCC’s net neutrality rules;  Teen discovers new planet 1,000 light years away;  Microsoft Hyperlapse Pro Preview (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The dangers of Android malware may be exaggerated, but you should still play it safe – Not everyone agrees that Android malware seriously threatens security. But taking precautions is still a good idea.

25 Android Apps Put to the Security Test – Sure there are plenty of great apps, but there plenty of dangerous ones, too. That’s why most antivirus software providers, having already faced the massive challenge of dealing with PC malware, also provide security software designed specifically for the protecting the little green robot that lives in your phone or tablet. Every few months independent testing labs AV-Test releases a report on the state of Android security software. While the institute’s latest findings aren’t quite as optimistic as they’ve been in the past, they still contain plenty of good news.


Which Android phone to get? Google has a tool for that – Diversity is both a boon and a bane in Android. On the one hand, it means that buyers can choose from their manufacturer of choice, features of preference, or unique style. On the other hand, it also exhibits the so-called “irony of choice”, almost paralyzing some from choosing among dozens of options. Although Google has probably been long aware of the situation, now it is taking a more active approach. It has just launched a new “Which Phone” web tool that can help narrow down the choices based on your use cases.


This is how much time you’re spending on smartphone apps – You’re devoting a whole lot of time to smartphone apps, and it’s likely more for play than work. At least that’s what recent statistics suggest. The amount of time people spend each month on smartphone apps was nearly 37 1/2 hours in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to market research firm Nielsen. That represented a 63 percent jump over the same period two years ago. It’s the latest illustration of just how much time people are spending on their smartphones.

Apple Says These Are the Best Apps of the Year – Apple announced the winners of this year’s Apple Design Awards this week at its 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). 12 apps for iOS and Mac ranging from the old-school hopper game Crossy Road to the slick stock trading app Robinhood were recognized for design, creativity, function and personality, according to a statement from Apple. Two of the honorees were student winners: jump-O, a minimalist puzzle game for iPhone and iPad, and Elementary Minute, a quiz game for iPhone and Apple Watch.

Twitter Gets Serious About Messaging, Will Remove DM Character Limit – Beginning in July, DMs will no longer carry the 140 character limit Twitter enforces for its public posts. Direct Message character limit removal probably makes a lot of sense to anyone who uses the feature regularly. Brevity is key in the public-facing stream of Twitter itself, since that’s the whole point of the “micro-blogging” platform. But in private, it just means you often have to break up longer thoughts over multiple messages, and doing so can actually be really annoying.

Twitter’s mobile app now supports landscape video recording – Praise the heavens, mobile video shooters, Twitter has finally gotten with the times and lets you record videos in landscape orientation from within their iOS and Android apps. When Twitter first made in-app video recording available earlier this year, it used square formatting, made popular by social apps Vine and Instagram. Twitter makes it easy to shoot video in the new orientation, just hold your phone like normal, rotate it 90 degrees to the right or left, and start recording!


Twitter adds sharing block lists to help limit harassment – Microblogging service hopes the ability to block multiple accounts at once will help curb abuse and harassment on the platform.


Skype’s modern Windows app is dead, long live Skype for Windows desktop – Microsoft-owned Skype has announced today that it will be merging its two Windows apps into a single offering by retiring the touch-based, Modern UI version, and instead moving forward with the traditional desktop app. The touch-friendly Skype app was made for Windows 8 devices, while Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs have always continued to use the desktop app. In anticipation of the debut of Windows 10, the modern Skype app will no longer work beginning July 7th, and users will need to switch to the desktop version.

Reddit Bans Five Harassing Subreddits, Its Trolls Respond Exactly As You’d Expect – Reddit, the hugely popular online community know as the ‘front page of the internet’, has dropped the hammer on five groups on its site judged to be in violation of its policy against harassing users.

The final version of Oculus Rift is coming soon (pictures) – After years of prototypes and updates, Oculus Rift is ready to debut a final version that anyone can buy in 2016.


10 do’s and don’ts for successful podcasting – Whether you’re in the process of planning a new podcast or you’re already producing episodes, there are (as you might expect) a number of do’s and don’ts to consider. Although these are not hard and fast rules, they will make the entire process (from creation to publication) easier, more productive, and more enjoyable.

Surfing the Web On Your iPhone Is About to Get Way Better – The next version of Apple’s iPhone software will allow adblocking on the device’s Safari browser, according to Apple’s iOS developer library. It’s the first time Apple’s mobile browser will allow adblocking extensions, which over 100 million people already use on their desktops, Nieman Lab reports.


Hackers stole Social Security numbers, personal data from every single federal employee – Last week, Chinese hackers were pinned for a large-scale attack which compromised the personal information of millions of current and former government employees. The breach targeted the Office of Personnel Management, and incited outrage from security firms and public officials over the lack of security surrounding the incident. Now, the country’s largest federal employee union, the AFGE, has claimed in an internal letter that the Social Security numbers and personal information of every single federal employee – 2.1 million people – have been compromised. Additionally, the AFGE claims Social Security numbers and personal information of 2 million federal retirees have been similarly compromised.

Report: Hack of government employee records discovered by product demo – An OPM statement on the attack said that the agency discovered the breach as it had “undertaken an aggressive effort to update its cybersecurity posture.” And a DHS spokesperson told Ars that “interagency partners” were helping the OPM improve its network monitoring “through which OPM detected new malicious activity affecting its information technology systems and data in April 2015.” Those statements may not be entirely accurate. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the breach was indeed discovered in April. But according to sources who spoke to the WSJ’s Damian Paletta and Siobhan Hughes, it was in fact discovered during a sales demonstration of a network forensics software package called CyFIR by its developer, CyTech Services. “CyTech, trying to show OPM how its cybersecurity product worked, ran a diagnostics study on OPM’s network and discovered malware was embedded on the network,” Paletta and Hughes reported.

Vintage Ask toolbar is malware – and we’ll kill Jeeves, says Microsoft – Older versions of the Ask toolbar, the bane of many a computer user over the years, has been declared persona non grata by Microsoft, and Redmond says its security software will now kill it on sight. In a June 11 update to its Malware Protection Center site, Microsoft states that older versions of the toolbar, which set itself up as a browser’s homepage and redirected all searches through Ask’s engine, now contravene Redmond’s policies. The latest build is fine, but older Ask toolbars will be hunted down and deleted.


‘Your PC may be infected!’ Inside the shady world of antivirus telemarketing – Consumer antivirus software has become a highly competitive business, in part because data breaches are in the news almost every week, and people feel a need to protect themselves. It’s also a huge market, with an estimated $4.9 billion in annual sales, according to Gartner. That’s drawn all types of players, some of whom specialize more in affiliate marketing than in security.


Agents at EZ Tech Support had a job to do: upsell hapless consumers who thought they had a computer virus.

Security Firm Kaspersky Hacked – In an ironic twist of fate, security firm Kaspersky on Wednesday announced that it was hacked. “The bad news is that we discovered an advanced attack on our own internal networks,” the company’s chairman and CEO, Eugene Kaspersky, wrote in a blog post. “It was complex, stealthy, it exploited several zero-day vulnerabilities, and we’re quite confident that there’s a nation state behind it. We’ve called it Duqu 2.0.”

German parliament may need to replace all software and hardware after hack – Some parliamentarians are refusing help from German intelligence services, a report said.

Company News:

Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo Chooses To Step Down, Jack Dorsey Named Interim CEO, Shares Up 3% – After years of user growth struggles, Twitter just announced that its CEO Dick Costolo will be stepping down July 1st, though he’ll remain on the board. Twitter co-founder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey will be the interim CEO. A conference call with investors has been set for 2:15pm PST today to discuss the situation.

eBay, PayPal asked to explain robocall policies – The soon-to-be-split eBay and PayPal need to answer for changes they’re making to their user agreements, according to the New York state attorney general’s office. Those modifications would allow eBay and PayPal to use “autodialed or prerecorded calls or text messages” to contact their users. The communication could be used to collect debts, seek opinions or answers to surveys, or offer promotions. eBay’s new policy will take effect on Monday; PayPal will implement its changes on July 1.

BlackBerry might adopt Android for its next handset – According to new reports, BlackBerry might be looking to adopt Android for one of its next handsets. This could prove a good move and help showcase the company’s focus on enterprise device management.

BMW and Chinese tech giant Baidu are launching a self-driving car this year – As Google edges closer to the dream of self-driving cars, Chinese search giant Baidu is trying to beat it to the finish line. The Chinese company — which has been working on self-driving vehicles for the past few years — first announced it had entered a partnership with BMW in 2014. It seems that collaboration has already paid off: this week, Baidu senior vice president Wang Jin said that his company would launch of a new self-driving car with the German car manufacturer before the end of the year.

Uber launches iPhone game to attract new drivers – ‘UberDrive’ teaches players to navigate the streets of San Francisco and recruits them to drive for the company

Games and Entertainment:

Retail video game industry suffered abysmal sales slump in May – May marked another dark spot for the US retail video game industry. Sales of game software on discs resumed a downward spiral, falling 25 percent year over year to $212.3 million and dampening the few brief moments in the last six months when software sales were up year over year thanks to a popular new game release, according to industry watcher the NPD Group. Hardware sales, after months and months of keeping the retail industry afloat, fell 18 percent to $153.6 million due to a continued steep drop-off in sales of older gaming consoles, like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

These are the first Oculus Rift games – The Oculus Rift is coming, and now we finally know some of the very first virtual reality games we’ll be able to play on it. At a press conference today, Oculus unveiled the final consumer version of its VR headset, as well as some of the initial games that will be playable when it finally launches. Some we already knew about, some are new, but all look potentially very exciting. The list includes games like sci-fi flight sim Eve Valkyrie, atmospheric RPG Chronos, and Edge of Nowhere, an arctic survival game from Insomniac Games, the studio behind Ratchet & Clank and Resistance.


Android TV hidden gems: The 10 best hard-to-find apps – Last week, Android TV went from a platform bereft of apps to a platform lousy with them. With devices like the Nexus Player and the Nvidia Shield Android TV, you can now venture beyond Google’s curated selection and browse the entire catalog of more than 600 apps. This newfound openness for Android TV, however, is a mixed blessing. While the full catalog has some great apps throughout, finding them involves sifting through a lot of junk. To spare you the trouble, I’ve dug deep into the Android TV app store to find these 10 hidden gems:

Everything We Love (and Hate) About The Witcher 3 After 160 Hours –  This is a lightly edited dialogue between TIME’s games critic Matt Peckham and assistant managing editor Matt Vella about playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The conversation took place over email over the period of several days.


Steam’s holding a ‘monster’ summer sale until June 21st – Steam’s annual summer sale is a time-honored tradition at this point, and this year’s iteration is particularly monstrous. Users can take advantage of daily rotating deals and flash sales that switch up every 12 hours until June 21st, meaning there’ll be plenty of opportunities to find steals even if nothing seems especially purchase-worthy on your first click-through. The sale’s kicking off with deals on games like the Tales from the Borderlands series, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and Grand Theft Auto V. There’s also a gamified component to the sale: by playing the accompanying Monster Summer Game, users across the Steam community can work together to unlock even more deals.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Teen discovers new planet 1,000 light years away – Technically Incorrect: A 15 years old, a British school-kid finds something out there that no one had noticed before. How? By studying data.

Report: Airbus transport crash caused by “wipe” of critical engine control data – Reuters reported additional details today provided by individuals familiar with the investigation into the crash, stating that a critical part of the configuration data in three of the aircraft’s four ECUs—a file storing torque calibration parameters for each engine—was somehow “accidentally wiped” when the software was being installed. As a result, three of the aircraft’s engines automatically shut down in flight. Citing a safety document shown to Reuters, Tim Hepher reported that the pilot of the A400M would not have gotten an alert about the missing data until the aircraft was already at an altitude of 400 feet.


A protoype of the Airbus A400M at the 2010 Farnborough Airshow. MilborneOne

Samsung unveils a transparent OLED TV, hides another one in a mirror – Soon, you’ll be able to mount a Samsung TV in your home without sacrificing valuable wall space that you could be using for shelves to show off your Amiibo collection (since you could hang it right over a picture window if you wanted to). Samsung claims their see-through OLED display is four times more transparent than competitors’ LCD-baesd designs. It’s also got a broader color gamut, higher contrast ratio, faster refresh rate (just 1ms), and uses much less power.


See a diver high-five (high-fin?) a massive great white shark – A diver in the waters off the coast of Guadalupe Island gets out of the cage and exchanges a friendly slap with a massive shark that could easily eat your face.


Court refuses to block the FCC’s net neutrality rules – In April, soon after the FCC passed strong net neutrality rules, the broadband industry sued to stop them. But, at least for now, the rules are safe: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has denied a request for a stay that would have temporarily halted the rules. Industry groups had hoped — quixotically — that a judge would prevent the rules from being implemented until the lawsuits were finished, but the rules will now officially come into effect tomorrow. Still, even as the lawsuits unfold, Republicans in Congress have been pushing legislation to stop the FCC. Most recently, the GOP has attempted to add a provision to a funding bill that would stop the commission from enforcing the rules. (This still requires the approval of both the House and Senate, as well as President Obama, who has supported the FCC’s rules.)

Something to think about:

Beyond Facebook:

Presently, I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles.

Everyday I go down the street and tell every passerby what I have eaten, how I feel, what I did the night before, and what I will do after.

I give them pictures of my friends, my family, my dog, and me gardening and spending time in my pool. 

I also listen to their conversations and tell them that I love them.

It works.

I already have 3 people following me – 2 police officers and a psychiatrist.

Thanks Joan   Smile

Today’s Free Downloads:

Windows 10 UX Pack 4.0 – Experience Windows 10 without modifying system files. Also you can read about the upcoming Windows 10 in our preview: 7 Plus 8 Equals 10.

Windows 10 UX Pack will give you Windows 10 UI improvements such as theme and some Windows 10 features without touching system files at all so it won’t have such risk to harm your system at all. In this package, you’ll have Windows 10 inspired themes and applications to make your system resembles Windows 10 as much as possible without modifying system files.


Instantly dress up Windows 7/8/8.1 to upcoming Windows 10 in one minute

Seamless installation and uninstallation giving user’s confidence and security in system

Easily configurable in single click with intelligence Metro UI design

UxStyle memory patching

Windows 10 Modern, Glass or Metro theme

Instant cursors, wallpaper/logon screen customization

Start Orb rebuilt from original resources with authentic orb from Windows 10 resources

Virtual Desktop from Microsoft

Revived start menu with Metro support

Metro UI desktop emulation with pre-configured gadgets

Aero’s auto-colorization feature

And much more

Limitations: Requires Microsoft .NET Framework


Unreal Engine 4.8 – Unreal Engine 4 is now available to everyone for free, and all future updates will be free! You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. When you ship a game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. It’s a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed.

Unreal Engine technology powers hundreds of games as well as real-time 3D films, training simulations, visualizations and more. Over the past 15 years, thousands of individuals and teams and have built careers and companies around skills developed using the engine.


Microsoft Hyperlapse Pro Preview – Microsoft Hyperlapse is a new technology that creates smooth and stabilized time lapses from first-person videos. Want to show your friends what you saw on that 12-mile hike you took last weekend or let them experience how it felt to fly down the mountain on your recent ski trip? With Microsoft Hyperlapse, you can time lapse those experiences, distilling them into easily consumable, enjoyable experiences.


Hyperlapse Pro Preview can take video from any camera and create a time lapse with a smoothly moving camera.

It works especially well with wide field of view action camera videos, such as GoPro.

Supports different speed up factors from 2x to 25x.

Hyperlapses can be output at different resolutions and framerates.

Takes advantage of multi-core CPUs and high-end GPUs for better processing speeds.

A step-by-step user interface makes it easier than ever to create hyperlpases.

Limitations: 64-Bit Only


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

U.K. Review Backs Mass Surveillance But Wants Judges To Sign Warrants – A long-awaited independent review of U.K. government surveillance capabilities, conducted by QC David Anderson and published today, has recommended that interception warrants should be signed off by the judiciary, rather than government ministers.

And while the review generally supports U.K. intelligence agencies having bulk interception and data retention (aka mass surveillance) capabilities — which stands in contrast to the U.S. Senate’s recent rowing back on this front in the USA Freedom Act — Anderson stresses these powers should be “subject to strict additional safeguards”, such as having judges sign off interception warrants.

The review recommends a new body, called the Independent Surveillance and Intelligence Commission (ISIC), be set up to judicially authorize all interception warrants.

Other safeguards recommended in the report are tighter definitions of the purposes for which data is sought — with Anderson specifying it should be “defined by operations or mission purposes” (as opposed to fishing expeditions); and the introduction of a new form of “bulk warrant” to limit the acquisition of data captured via mass surveillance to comms metadata.

Fake mobile phone towers discovered in London: Stingrays come to the UK – It has been suspected for some time that stingrays are being used in the UK: back in 2011, The Guardian ran a story to this effect, but the Metropolitan Police refused to comment. A 2014 article in The Times gave details about what is believed to be the legal framework that regulates their use.

As a post from Privacy International explained, following The Times’ report, “when someone is targeted by an IMSI Catcher, it is considered a ‘property interference’ under the Police Act 1997 Part III … a ‘property interference’ is designed to regulate the placing of bugs and breaking into someone’s home, not mobile phone interception.” This approach allows the use of IMSI catcher devices to be bundled up with other kinds of bugging in official reports, which means it is impossible to know exactly how many times they have been deployed.

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests about IMSI catchers, submitted by Privacy International and Sky News, were all refused. Asked by Sky News about the IMSI catchers discovered in London, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, would only say: “We’re not going to talk about it, because the only people who benefit are the other side, and I see no reason in giving away that sort of thing.” That’s the standard reply for all kinds of surveillance, but is as unsatisfactory here as it is elsewhere.

Belgian data retention law axed by constitutional court – A Belgian law requiring telecommunications operators and ISPs to store customer metadata for police investigations was axed by the Constitutional Court of Belgium on Thursday because it violates fundamental privacy rights.

Under the law, customer metadata such as call logs as well as location and Internet data had to be stored for one year for law enforcement to use when investigating serious crimes and terrorism.

The law went into effect in 2013 and was based on the now defunct EU Data Retention Directive that was invalidated by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) last year, also because it violated fundamental privacy rights.

The Belgian law was challenged by the League for Human Rights and the Order of French-speaking and German-speaking Lawyers shortly after it was introduced. They wanted the law annulled, arguing it was unconstitutional and violated European human rights.

If hackers can spy on you all then so should we – US Senator logic – CISA info-sharing bill tacked onto military funding paperwork – Following the cyber-attack during which dossiers on four million US government employees were stolen from Uncle Sam’s servers, staggering out of the smoldering blast crater is Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). And he’s not happy.

In his soot-covered hand is a copy of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), and this week, he angrily stapled it to another proposed law. Because that’s how people get things done in Washington.

The CISA legislation was written to allow technology companies to share information about their customers with the Feds for the purposes of national security and online threats, in exchange for partial legal immunity from citizens upset about this data handover. Critics say it’s a license to spy, whereas supporters say it will thwart the cyber-boogeymen.

CISA was due to be debated in the Senate later this year, but Burr has now added it as an amendment to the larger National Defense Authorization Act, which is primarily focused on military funding.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – June 10, 2015

Social Media presence will be monitored by the UK Government;  Apple iOS 9 beta 1 is available to download now;  Use your TV as a computer monitor: Everything you need to know;  2015 Father’s Day tech and gadgets gift guide;  Hurt By Fed Hack? Here’s Help;  Instagram is launching a redesigned website;  Skype will soon include built-in Translator; VMware unleashes Linux on the (virtual) desktop; 5 steps to keep your smart home from being hacked;  Apple’s WWDC Keynote In 90 Seconds;  Snapchat makes logging in more secure;  Cybercriminals increasingly target point of sales systems;  Facebook Bluetooth beacons released free for small businesses;  India’s mounting e-waste woes;  Birth month may correlate to some diseases;  Clonezilla (free);  Facebook’s Messenger Platform Gets Its First Game;  Destiny’s $40 expansion, The Taken King, leaks;  US tech giants to “far exceed” $35 billion loss in NSA fallout.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Social Media presence will be monitored by the UK Government – While some countries are making efforts to censor online users on their blogs and social media accounts, others seem more than happy to let you express freely, so that they can monitor you more easily than ever. Metro reports that the U.K. government has recently granted a contract to five companies that will monitor every post you make on Twitter, Facebook, or your personal blog, and provide the data to the Whitehall in real time, using filters that they provide, such as keywords and topics. A Cabinet Office spokeswoman told the Independent that they are looking to “monitor digital, social and traditional media so we understand what people are saying, identify their concerns and shape policies accordingly,” if this sounds strange, then you should definitely read about the U.K. Facebook Warriors.

Hurt By Fed Hack? Here’s Help – If a data breach exposes the one password you use over and over, its effects could reach far beyond the breached website. Dashlane has a pair of offers to help federal employees contain the problems caused by last week’s breach.


5 steps to keep your smart home from being hacked – Security researchers needed just 5 to 20 minutes to hack most smart-home devices. Learn how to keep real hackers at bay with these five strategies.

Six Google Photos quirks and how to work around them – Google Photos is one of the best new products the Mountain View company has rolled out in some time. It has a great interface, some nice navigation tricks, and smart search so you can look up images by places or the objects in them. Though like any new product, it comes with its own set of quirks and features that aren’t obvious at first glance. If you are all-in with Google Photos, or just curious about whether it should serve as the home for all your memories, read on to see everything that we’ve dug up. These tips will solve a few of the service’s shortcomings.

Apple’s new Android app promises a seamless transition from Android to iOS 9 – Apple has introduced an Android app called “Move to iOS,” which transfers everything from contacts to photos from Android device to iOS device to make the transition as simple as possible.


Apple iOS 9 beta 1 is available to download now – iOS 9 brings a range of improvements to Apple’s mobile OS, including better multitasking, new search features and more – and the first beta release is now available for you to try on your device.


Microsoft’s Skype app for Windows will soon include built-in Translator support – After launching an open beta of its Skype Translator app last month, Microsoft has said that it will be adding the real-time translation feature into its Skype Windows desktop app later this summer.


Instagram is launching a redesigned website with bigger photos – Instagram’s website is about to look much nicer. It’s introducing a new web design on desktop and mobile this week that cleans up the page and makes photos much bigger than they are now. Most noticeable is the change to profile pages on the desktop, which will begin displaying three large images in each row, rather than the five smaller images it displays right now. The grid of cover images is gone at the top, and it’s also doing away with a lot of the borders and rounded edges and getting on board with circular profile pics — basically, it’s playing catch up to Instagram’s app, but it looks like a great, if overdue, update.


VMware unleashes Linux on the (virtual) desktop – VMware’s released Horizon 6 for Linux, thereby making it possible to deliver virtual Linux desktops. “VMware Horizon 6 for Linux opens up a whole new world of possibilities for VDI including higher education engineering classes, offshore development, high-end 3D workstations, and customers looking to replace Windows desktops outright,” Virtzilla gushes. If you chose to go down this road and buy thin clients, the company adds, you might save 60 per cent of operational and capital costs.

Windows 10: The votes poured in for these 10 features, and Microsoft delivered – Last October, we looked at the list of Windows 10 features that Microsoft’s users were demanding. And you know what? Since then, some of them have been added to Windows 10.

Use your TV as a computer monitor: Everything you need to know – Will that big, sexy screen look as good on your desk as it does in your living room? Let’s dig into the specifics of using an HDTV with your PC.

2015 Father’s Day tech and gadgets gift guide – A gift guide to help you buy gadgets for dads who enjoy their gaming, mobile devices, fishing, photography and more.


It’s 2015 and hackers can hijack your Windows PC if you watch a web video – IE, Media Player, Office, and more, fixed in this month’s security patch batch. This month’s bundle includes eight security bulletins, two rated “critical” and six rated “important.” Users and administrators are advised to test (if necessary) and install the updates as soon as possible to prevent attacks. Adobe is also releasing a scheduled security update. Their patch addresses 13 CVE-listed vulnerabilities in Flash Player for Windows, OS X and Linux systems. The update is being listed as a top priority for all three platforms. Users running AIR Desktop Runtime, AIR SDK and AIR for Android should also update, though those are considered to be a lower risk.

Beware Flash Malware, Ransomware Attacks – Adobe Flash malware attacks are on the rise, according to McAfee Labs, which reported a 317 percent surge in the first quarter. Attackers’ attention appears to have been diverted from Java and Microsoft Silverlight to un-patched Flash vulnerabilities.

Cybercriminals increasingly target point of sales systems – The data breach landscape could look very different in the future with the increased adoption of chip-enabled payment cards in North America—but for now point-of-sale systems account for the majority of breaches there, compared to a tiny minority in other regions of the world. Hacked point-of-sale (PoS) terminals were responsible for 65 percent of the data compromises investigated by security firm Trustwave last year in North America, compared to only 10 percent in Europe, Middle East and Africa and 11 percent in the Asia and Pacific region. Worldwide, the company investigated 574 breaches, half of them in the U.S.

Apple to require 6-digit passcodes on newer iPhones, iPads under iOS 9 – As part of its iOS 9 announcement on Monday, Apple revealed that all newer iDevices equipped with TouchID and running the newer version of the operating system will be required to upgrade from a four-digit to a six-digit passcode. According to Apple (and math), this will vastly expand the effort required to crack a four-digit passcode. Instead of 10,000 possible combinations, newer iOS devices will soon have one million. This change affects the iPhone 5S, 6, 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 3.

Snapchat makes logging in more secure with two-factor authentication – Snapchat’s making it a bit easier to keep your account (and all the snaps contained within) secure. The app’s most recent update on Android and iOS adds the ability to enable two-factor authentication. Once switched on inside the settings menu, login verification requires that you enter a 6-digit code upon signing in from any device you haven’t used before. Snapchat will text this temporary code to the phone number linked with your account, a popular security move that should substantially lessen the odds of someone hijacking or otherwise gaining unauthorized access to your account.

Company News:

Apple’s WWDC Keynote In 90 Seconds – Apple had a lot to announce at its Worldwide Developer Conference this morning, and it was easy to miss big news as it happened during the two-hour-plus keynote. We’ve summed it up right here, with links to our coverage if you want to know more.


Antitrust probe targets Apple Music and music labels – An antitrust probe is underway from the attorneys general of Connecticut and New York that is looking into whether Apple’s negotiations for its Apple Music service with music labels included any violations. Apple recently introduced the service at its WWDC 2015 keynote, and according to sources the company was still in negotiations with the music labels down to the wire. The investigation is looking into whether there was any pressure from Apple toward the music labels, or if those labels conspired with each other and/or Apple to back out of supporting other competing services — particularly freemium ones like Spotify.

Facebook Bluetooth beacons released free for small businesses – Facebook for Business has revealed their next play in the small (and potentially large) business world – free bluetooth beacons. Facebook Bluetooth beacons send information to smartphones and tablets that come in range with them. Inside Facebook, users will see “place tips,” including greetings and links to pages for locations they’re exploring. At launch, Facebook Bluetooth beacons work only with iPhones – Android will just have to wait until the Facebook for Android app is ready to roll. Users will need an iPhone 4S or later with Bluetooth turned on to work with Facebook’s bluetooth beacons.

Facebook Messenger On Android Hits 1…Billion…Downloads – Only two companies have apps with over 1 billion Google Play downloads, and the other is Google. Today Facebook proved just how big a business replacing SMS can be, as its leader David Marcus announced Messenger has now been downloaded over 1 billion times on Android. It joins Facebook and WhatsApp, and Google’s Gmail, YouTube, Search, and Maps in this very exclusive club. Messenger’s strategy of layering modern mobile sharing features over a speedy texting app has paid off, and it looks like Facebook’s just getting started. With VOIP, video calling, stickers, voice clips, peer-to-peer payments, location, and a whole platform of third-party content creation apps, Messenger wants to own every way you communicate. And it partially is for well over 600 million users.

HP to pay $100 million to shareholders following doomed Autonomy deal – The money will go into a settlement fund used to compensate shareholders who purchased HP stock between August 19, 2011 and November 20, 2012.

Founder Jack Ma Lays Out Alibaba’s US Strategy – Founder and executive chairman Jack Ma said there’s a big opportunity for Alibaba in the United States: “Alibaba was founded in China, but it was created for the world.” Ma spoke today at The Economic Club of New York, and he made similar points in a new op-ed for The Wall Street Journal (paywall). He said that as Alibaba has grown, and especially after it had the largest IPO over, he’s been constantly asked when Alibaba is coming to the U.S.: “When are you going to compete with Amazon? When are you going to compete with eBay?”

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft revives Work & Play Bundle with Netflix and Xbox freebies – To make a good deal even better, Microsoft is reviving its Work & Play Bundle yet again. This time users that pick up the bundle can expect a Netflix subscription and a Microsoft gift card.

Destiny’s $40 expansion, The Taken King, leaks before E3 reveal – Destiny’s first two expansions — The Dark Below and House of Wolves — have their flaws, the most glaring of which is that “expansion” is too kind a word for the amount of content provided. Both are good enough, and House of Wolves notably added many quality-of-life improvements, but the upcoming expansion has long been rumored to add a massive amount of new content, whereas the first two expansions did not. If a pre-E3 leak is to be believed, the upcoming expansion will be called The Taken King, and be worth its seemingly high asking price of $40.

Force lightning

Call of Duty: Black Ops III is coming to PS3 and Xbox 360, too – Call of Duty fans don’t have to upgrade their consoles just yet. Publisher Activision has announced that the latest game in the series, Black Ops III, will be coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; the game was originally announced only for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC. While series mainstay Treyarch is still developing the game for newer consoles, two studios — Beenox and Mercenary Technology — will be handling the 360 / PS3 port.


Hands-on with Metal Gear Solid V: Stealth infiltration and cardboard research – The hour-and-a-half we had to try out Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at a recent press event seemed like a laughably short introduction for a game in this franchise. That demo wouldn’t even cover some of the longer cut scenes in previous Metal Gear Solid games, after all. But this isn’t your standard Metal Gear Solid game. The near-final build we played at Konami’s Los Angeles campus recently is structured less as one epic, sprawling story, and more as a series of largely disconnected missions. Each mission is structured almost like a standalone episode in a TV show, complete with a three-act structure and opening and closing credits.


Running out in the open like this is a good way to get shot. Just saying.

Facebook’s Messenger Platform Gets Its First Game – Facebook Messenger’s quest to own all the ways you connect with friends is now expanding to games. Today I spotted “Doodle Draw Game” in the Messenger platform app list, and Facebook says this is the first true game available since the platform launched in April.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Birth month may correlate to some diseases (bad news, October) – Columbia University scientists find correlations between certain birth months and the risk of contracting 55 diseases. Because birthdays aren’t depressing enough on their own.


US House votes to ban Internet access taxes permanently – By voice vote on Tuesday, the House agreed to pass the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would prohibit states from taxing Internet access and from levying any new taxes that target Internet services but have no offline equivalent. The bill would prohibit taxes on bandwidth or email, for example. Congress has passed temporary moratoriums since 1998, and the current moratorium is set to expire Oct. 1. The House action sends the bill to the Senate. Some senators have resisted calls for a permanent tax moratorium in recent years.

New Pizza Hut boxes transform into smartphone movie projectors – Pizza Hut is taking “dinner and a movie” to a whole new level in Hong Kong with the Blockbuster Box. Thanks to a specially designed pizza table (that little plastic disc with legs that keeps the lid from touching your pie), this limited-edition box can be turned into a projector for your smartphone. How’s it all work? Well, instead of the usual opaque pizza table, this one comes with a lens. Once you’ve removed the pizza, simply punch a hole in the designated area, pop the lens in, put your phone in the box, and start the big screen experience at home. The lens basically reflects the images playing on your phone and tosses them up on the nearest wall. You’ll want to keep the room as dark and quiet as possible, though to see and hear the movie.


India’s mounting e-waste woes – The country’s smartphone boom has only just begun, which means an urgent game plan to tackle e-waste needs to be formulated in order to prevent a full-blown environmental disaster in the future. The good news is there’s money to be made here.


Critics say that a new study linking creativity and mental illness is lacking – Genetic variations that can collectively increase a person’s risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can also be used to predict creativity, according to a new study published in Nature Neuroscience. The study’s researchers claim that this is the strongest argument yet for shared roots linking psychosis and creativity. But the correlation found in this particular study isn’t very strong, some researchers argue. And without a proper definition for creativity, arguing that such a link exists could do more harm than good.

Mercedes-Benz takes on Tesla with its own home battery – Tesla saw ample success with its home batteries, so much so that you’re going to have to wait quite a while to get one yourself. It’s not the only company getting into that market, though, and we’ve known for a few days that Mercedes-Benz was planning to challenge the company. Today Daimler dropped some details on that plan, and officially began taking registrations from interested parties. The home batteries will be branded as Mercedes-Benz offerings, but whether the company will experience the same demand levels as Tesla is yet to be seen.


People Love Watching Online Video, Even on Tiny Screens – In a study published by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), 36 percent of respondents said they watch five-minute or longer videos daily on their smartphones. While some folks find it difficult to stare at a 5-inch display for extended periods of time, others—like viewers in Turkey, Finland, China, Russia, and Singapore—are willing, if not eager. Chinese users, in fact, are most inclined to watch films and full-length TV shows on a mobile screen.

Japanese government wants fully-functioning toilets in elevators – When earthquakes strike Japan, elevator passengers are often trapped with no way to relieve themselves, which is why the toilet industry wants to figure out flushable toilets in elevators. While it’s a great idea, some surely wish it happened sooner.

Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:

RawTherapee – Photo editing application aimed at unprocessed images from digital cameras (RAW format), featuring a wide array of tweaks and filters.

High Image Quality

96-bit (floating point) processing engine.

Non-destructive editing.

Get the most details and least artifacts from your raw photos thanks to modern and traditional demosaicing algorithms: AMaZE, DCB, AHD, EAHD, HPHD, IGV, LMMSE, VNG4, Mono and Fast.

Advanced color handling from white balance to HSV (Hue-Saturation-Value) curves, color toning and color management.

Powerful CIE Color Appearance Model 2002 (CIECAM02) module.

Enhanced exposure and tonality tools: tone and Lab curves, highlights and shadows tools, tone mapping (HDR-like effect), etc.

Multiple denoising methods: luminance, chrominance (both rewritten in 2012), impulse (for salt and pepper noise) noise reduction.

Several tools to enhance details: unsharp mask, RL deconvolution, contrast by detail levels.


Multi-threaded algorithms for high performance (RawTherapee can utilize modern processor features, like SSE).

Quick thumbnails load lightning fast and are replaced later with live thumbnails.

Batch processing: convert all the developed images at once without loading the processor while you work.

Copy/paste editing parameters from one file to many other. Partially copying and/or pasting is also possible.

Basic tools immediately at your hands.

Parallel editing of multiple images in separate editor tabs, and/or all at once from the file browser.

An optional secondary display can be used.


Wide variety of supported cameras: almost all DSLRs and even some medium format bodies are supported.

Can load most raw files including 16-, 24- and 32-bit raw HDR DNG images, as well as standard JPEG, PNG (8- and 16-bit) and TIFF (8-, 16- and 32-bit logluv) images.

Can save JPEG, PNG (8- and 16-bit) and TIFF (8- and 16-bit) images.

Advanced control over the algorithms with many fine-tuning parameters and curves.

Can send to GIMP or the editing tool of your choice in one click (16-bit TIFF file).

Command line usage besides the normal graphical interface.

Various layouts: multiple tabs, single tab with filmstrip, vertical tab with filmstrip, dual monitor.

Freedom for Free

RawTherapee is free and open source software, meaning you can use it free of charge, wherever you like on whatever hardware you like, as long as you abide by the copyleft GPLv3 license. Download the source code, modify it, feel free to do what comes to mind. We believe in open software.

It is cross-platform: Linux, Mac, or Windows, be it 32-bit or 64-bit – you pick, we provide.

International: it is available in 25 languages!


Clonezilla – Clonezilla is an Open Source partition and disk imaging/cloning program similar to True Image or Norton Ghost.

It helps you to do system deployment, bare metal backup and recovery. Clonezilla live is suitable for single machine backup and restore. While Clonezilla SE is for massive deployment, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the harddisk. This increases the clone efficiency. With some high-end hardware in a 42-node cluster, a multicast restoring at rate 8 GB/min was reported.


Free (GPL) Software.

Filesystem supported: (1) ext2, ext3, ext4, reiserfs, reiser4, xfs, jfs, btrfs of GNU/Linux, (2) FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS of MS Windows, (3) HFS+ of Mac OS, (4) UFS of FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, (5) minix of Minix, and (6) VMFS3 and VMFS5 of VMWare ESX. Therefore you can clone GNU/Linux, MS windows, Intel-based Mac OS, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Minix and VMWare ESX, no matter it’s 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x86-64) OS. For these file systems, only used blocks in partition are saved and restored. For unsupported file system, sector-to-sector copy is done by dd in Clonezilla.

LVM2 (LVM version 1 is not) under GNU/Linux is supported.

Boot loader, including grub (version 1 and version 2) and syslinux, could be reinstalled.

Both MBR and GPT partition format of hard drive are supported. Clonezilla live also can be booted on a BIOS or uEFI machine.

Unattended mode is supported. Almost all steps can be done via commands and options. You can also use a lot of boot parameters to customize your own imaging and cloning.

One image restoring to multiple local devices is supported.

Multicast is supported in Clonezilla SE, which is suitable for massively clone. You can also remotely use it to save or restore a bunch of computers if PXE and Wake-on-LAN are supported in your clients.

The image file can be on local disk, ssh server, samba server, or NFS server.

Based on Partclone (default), Partimage (optional), ntfsclone (optional), or dd to image or clone a partition. However, Clonezilla, containing some other programs, can save and restore not only partitions, but also a whole disk.

By using another free software drbl-winroll, which is also developed by us, the hostname, group, and SID of cloned MS windows machine can be automatically changed.

Limitations: Clonezilla offers multiple packages for different processors (i686, 586, AMD64, Intel 54) but this download works on most modern computers. They also offer zip downloads for thumb drives. These can be downloaded by clicking on the author link above.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US tech giants to “far exceed” $35 billion loss in NSA fallout – Silicon Valley is expected to take a harsher beating over claims it was working with US intelligence agencies

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) said in a new report Tuesday that the tech industry will likely “far exceed” the group’s initial estimate of losing up to $35 billion. The group’s reason is in part because little has been done to address global concerns two years after leaks revealed the PRISM surveillance program.

ITIF, a non-profit group with a focus on tech issues, said that matters were compounded by politicians failing to adopt new laws reining in government surveillance, which “sacrifices robust competitiveness of the US tech sector for vague and unconvincing promises of improved national security,” said report authors Daniel Castro and Alan McQuinn.

But in reality, the figures could be incalculable.

Justice Department plotting to resume NSA bulk phone records collection – About an hour after the White House said President Barack Obama had signed legislation ending the National Security Agency’s bulk telephone collection program, the Justice Department told a secret court that the controversial spy program Edward Snowden disclosed could continue under the law.

That’s according to a Justice Department memo (PDF)—released Monday—to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court), which has authorized the snooping program 49 times in six-month intervals.

The memo notes that Congress did indeed end the bulk telephone metadata program with the passage of the USA Freedom Act and the president’s signature on June 2. But the act also allowed for the program to be extended for six months to allow “for an orderly transition” to a less-invasive telephone metadata spying program.

Tech giants gang up on Obama over encryption key demands – A pair of technology industry pressure groups have sent a letter to President Obama asking his administration to back off demands that companies give government agencies the ability to decrypt all user data.

In the letter [PDF], the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) ask the President to curb the NSA from demanding that companies hand over decryption keys or require them to otherwise weaken their encryption.

“We are opposed to any policy actions or measures that would undermine encryption as an available and effective tool,” the groups write. “Encryption is an essential asset of the global digital infrastructure, enabling security and confidentiality for transactions as well as assurances to individuals that their communications are private and information is protected.”

In addition to President Obama, the letter CCs US Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Between them, the two cosigning groups count as members some of the largest companies in the tech and finance industries. Represented by ITIC are Apple, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Samsung, SAP, Twitter, VMware, and Yahoo!, among others.

Feds want to unmask internet commenters writing about the Silk Road trial judge – Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht has already been sentenced to life in prison, but the fallout from the trial continues: the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York now wants to know the identities of people anonymously commenting on the judge in the trial.

A grand jury subpoena, obtained by Ken White of the law blog Popehat, demands that libertarian news magazine Reason hand over “any and all identifying information” about certain commenters posting on an article published May 31st, “Silk Road Trial: Read Ross Ulbricht’s Haunting Sentencing Letter to Judge.”

The comments are vile. One suggests “[it’s] judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.” Another says, “I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.” But the subpoena cites a law against “interstate threats” as the reason for demanding the information, which the Supreme Court very recently decided must include real intent.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 8, 2015

The Online Privacy Lie Is Unraveling;  How to speed up Chrome on Android;  Desert island tech: What you need when you’re off the grid;  3 mobile games that help you get things done;  How to stop autoplaying HTML5 videos;  3 Staggering Figures About Apple That Tell You Everything;  9 useful PowerShell tools;  This Wearable Will Judge Your Sexual Performance;  Windows 10: Nine things you need to know;  Videoconferencing do’s and don’ts (with video);  Hacker turns toy into tool that can open garage doors in seconds;  Netflix continues European expansion with three more countries;  Final Fantasy Tactics now available from Google Play;  When Windows 10 arrives, will your files and apps survive?  Yahoo axes Maps, Pipes, other services;  A History Of The World In Clickbait Headlines;  Money Manager Ex (free);  Feds can charge you with obstruction of justice for clearing your browser history.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Online Privacy Lie Is Unraveling – A new report into U.S. consumers’ attitude to the collection of personal data has highlighted the disconnect between commercial claims that web users are happy to trade privacy in exchange for ‘benefits’ like discounts. On the contrary, it asserts that a large majority of web users are not at all happy, but rather feel powerless to stop their data being harvested and used by marketers. The report authors’ argue it’s this sense of resignation that is resulting in data tradeoffs taking place — rather than consumers performing careful cost-benefit analysis to weigh up the pros and cons of giving up their data (as marketers try to claim). They also found that where consumers were most informed about marketing practices they were also more likely to be resigned to not being able to do anything to prevent their data being harvested.

Desert island tech: What you need when you’re off the grid – Some of us like to go off the grid periodically to get away from things, while others find themselves forced off the grid as a result of flooding, fire, or some other misfortune. No matter what the reason, I find having the right gear with you can make all the difference.


How to stop autoplaying HTML5 videos – Just when you thought you were safe from autoplay videos, you now have to block them in HTML5 as well as Flash. Here’s how–but sorry, there’s no solution for Explorer.

Easily switch audio devices on Windows – If you’re watching a movie that’s playing through your speakers, and then decide to switch to your headset, the process of changing devices feels a bit clunky on Windows. As an alternative, the Audio Switch 2.0 app gives you a fast way to select an audio device. Here’s how to use it:


Nicole Cozma/CNET

How to speed up Chrome on Android – If you’re a heavy browser user on the Android platform, chances are that you’re using Chrome. When you first started using that browser, it was probably pretty zippy–but as time wore on, the browser slowed a bit until its performance degradation was noticeable. Or maybe, from your initial usage, Chrome never seemed fast enough. No matter your case, I have a few tips that will help you speed up the Chrome browser on Android. None of these tips will require the installation of third-party software, and they’re do-able by any level of user. Let’s get to it!

Microsoft opens Skype for Web beta to all in U.S., U.K. – On June 5, Microsoft expanded the Skype for Web beta to include anyone in the U.S. or U.K. interested in trying out the Skype for Web beta. Microsoft will broaden the pool of testers to include those in other countries “in the next few weeks,” said officials in today’s blog post. Those interested can go to or and sign in and connect to Skype for Web.Skype for Web alleviates the need to download the Skype app before conferencing and/or instant-messaging others.

This Wearable Will Judge Your Sexual Performance – Described as a “sexual activity tracker, interactive sex-coach, and couples’ vibrator,” the tulip-shaped device is worn on the base of the penis, and features sensors on the inside that monitor your body movements during sex. This information is sent to the Lovely mobile app, which then suggests new positions you might want to try next time you’re in the mood. It will also tell you how many calories you burned during sex along with your “top speed,” duration, and force. The data is stored in a daily log so you can track your sexual prowess over time. Check it out in the (mostly) SFW video below.


Windows 10: Nine things you need to know – Windows 8 has had a bit of a tumultuous run, something Microsoft is hoping to turn around with Windows 10. I’ve spent the last eight months running the Windows Technical Preview on desktops, laptops and tablets, watching it evolve from interesting concept to the my primary operating system. The release date is scarcely a month away, but there’s still quite a bit of ground to cover before Windows 10 is ready for primetime. If you’re new to the party and have questions, we’ve got some answers on the latest step for Windows.

When Windows 10 arrives, will your files and apps survive? – Windows 10 marks Microsoft’s big push to get itself back on course after the miscues of Windows 8, so every little thing counts — including getting the installation correct right off the bat. Not all software upgrades go smoothly, however. Compatibility problems sometimes rear up, especially when you upgrade from one operating system to another. Certain hardware may be not compatible. Certain software programs may not be supported or may need to be updated or reinstalled. How will you know if the hardware and software you run in Windows 7 or 8.1 will still work after the upgrade? Microsoft can help you determine if and how your PC or tablet will handle the move to Windows 10.


How to turn your Windows 10 upgrade files into an ISO disk image – One question I’ve been asked more than any other in recent weeks is whether Microsoft will release Windows 10 in ISO format. No one outside Redmond knows yet, but in the meantime there’s an option: Make your own ISO files. Here’s how.

9 useful PowerShell tools – In this slideshow, I will highlight 9 resources for immersing yourself in the PowerShell world. Whether you’re writing scripts, working in a DevOps-oriented environment or administering software from vendors other than Microsoft using PowerShell, there is something for everyone in this group of resources. And best of all — they are all free, save for one excellent paid product. What are you waiting for? Let’s dive in.

Videoconferencing do’s and don’ts (with video!) – Whether you’re an on-site presenter or distant participant, here’s how to do a remote meeting right.


Tumblr Adds New GIF Search Capabilities – Looking for that perfect GIF to really accentuate your Tumblr post? A new addition to the site will help you find the perfect animated image.


Hacker turns toy into tool that can open garage doors in seconds – Owners of fixed-code garage door openers might want to consider upgrading them because a researcher has developed a technique that guesses the numbers in seconds. To showcase the new attack, which he dubbed Open Sesame, security researcher Samy Kamkar reprogrammed a children’s toy designed for short-distance texting called Radica Girl Tech IM-me because it has all the needed wireless components and because “it’s pink,” his favorite color.


China Calls Accusations of Links to Hacking ‘Irresponsible’ – China said Friday that any allegations that it was involved in breaking into U.S. government computers are irresponsible. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing that Beijing hopes the U.S. would be “less suspicious and stop making any unverified allegations, but show more trust and participate more in cooperation.” U.S. officials say China-based hackers are suspected of breaking into the computer networks of the U.S. government personnel office and stealing identifying information of at least 4 million federal workers.

Continued Hacking Highlights U.S-Chinese Cyberwar Worries – The latest massive computer hack suggests the Chinese had it right: it may be time for the U.S. to build a great wall to protect its data and that of 320 million Americans. That’s why the U.S. secretly expanded the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program to root out hackers in 2012. But, as a rash of recent data breaches makes clear, the hackers retain the upper hand.

Company News:

3 Staggering Figures About Apple That Tell You Everything – Apple is a behemoth, a tech industry giant with a market cap larger than many national economies. It has changed the way we listen to music and the way we communicate with one another. With the Apple Watch, it seems to be on its way to changing the way we tell time, pay for goods and exercise. Here are three numbers that really tell you what you need to know about where Apple is in 2015:

Netflix continues European expansion with three more countries – After addingsix more countries in Europe last year, Netflix has announced that it is now headed towards Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Outside of Europe, the popular streaming service was recently launched in Australia and New Zealand as well. The newly announced countries will be offered the original Netflix shows in addition to movies, specials, and other localized content at launch. The service will be accessible from all Internet connected TVs, tablets, smartphones, and gaming consoles when it launches in October.

Yahoo axes Maps, Pipes, other services as it narrows focus – Yahoo says it has a clear focus on search, communications, and digital content, and to keep that focus some older services must go.

Firefox OS in flux as Mozilla loses technology chief to startup – Andreas Gal, co-founder of Mozilla’s mobile OS project, joins others from the project in a startup to link new devices to the Net. It’s part of big changes coming to Firefox OS.

iHeartRadio notches 70 million registered users – iHeartRadio, the online arm of the traditional radio giant formerly known as Clear Channel, said Friday it hit 70 million people who have registered to listen to digital stations. The growth reflects both the growing popularity of streaming music generally as well as iHeartRadio’s promotional advantage of being attached to the country’s biggest terrestrial radio company, iHeartMedia, that also operates a high profile concert series of the same name.

Games and Entertainment:

3 mobile games that help you get things done – Let’s face it: some of the tasks we do every day are pretty mundane. Maybe even downright boring. Yet, we still have to do them. Whether it’s checking email and making sure we’ve responded to all of the appropriate messages, or remembering to write that daily report every single day, there’s a lot of stuff do to. But staying motivated to complete even the most tedious of tasks doesn’t have to be a chore in itself. Here are three apps that make it downright fun.

Final Fantasy Tactics now available from Google Play – The game Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is now available for download from the Google Play Store. The game was launched by Square Enix on Thursday, and it is rated “E” for Everyone. Says the maker, this was the series’ first tactical RPG, and it was released back in 1997. The game then made another appearance after being released — again — in 2007 for the PSP, garnering itself a larger fan base. Now mobile users can enjoy it, too.


Xbox One with new controller and more storage appears on Amazon – According to a new posting on Amazon, you’ll soon be able to pick up an Xbox One with 1TB of storage and a new controller that features a standard 3.5mm headset jack. Bundled with a digital version of The Master Chief Collection, the refreshed console was listed for $400, though unsurprisingly, most of the details have since been pulled from the Amazon listing. Microsoft previously revealed the new controller in a support article, saying that the newer version would be released after June. Meanwhile, a 1TB version of the console was previously released as part of a limited edition Call of Duty bundle.

Portal Pinball review: This is a triumph, huge success! – If you’re a fan of the Portal series, playing this table will bring back great memories and put a smile on your face. The gameplay is fun, and while most of the shots are ramps (which gets a little repetitive), the charm of the characters and the way Zen Studios integrated the whole thing into the table makes the entire experience a great one. Portal Pinball is available on all major platforms except the Wii U, although we suspect it will be available there soon. Zen Studios also recommends purchasing the table on PS3 or Vita first, so you can import it to the PS4, or the Xbox 360 so you can import it to the Xbox One since the price is $2.99 regardless of the initial platform.


Valve debuts Alienware’s Steam Machine, starts at $449 and arrives in October / November – Remember the Steam Machine? After months of rumors, Valve revealed at CES 2014 that they would be partnering with numerous PC manufacturers to build a gaming PC with a controller. While news swirled that the console would arrive sometime in 2014, Valve delayed the console launch until 2015 to improve on the unique controller. Fortunately, Valve has announced that the first official Steam Machine created by Alienware will be available during the upcoming holiday season.


This week in games: Our first look at Bard’s Tale IV, Battleborn, Soma, and more – Plus Spike Lee is directing NBA 2k16’s MyCareer mode and he swears it’ll be better than Oldboy. Actually, he didn’t really say that. This is gaming news for the week of June 1.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Death And Life Of Truth In The Internet Age – The internet still remains our best hope for building a brighter, more truthful future. However, we truly(!) need to change our thinking on what the truth is and how it can be used. Verification alone will never uncover all the facts of our world, so instead, we must be willing to live in an era when the facts can suddenly change on us without resorting to cynicism.

Google begins publicly reporting self-driving car accidents – Google is beginning to publicly detail its driverless car accidents in light of heightened concern about their safety following reports that they’ve already been in several collisions. Accidents will be detailed on a monthly basis as part of a new report that Google is starting to release on the project’s progress. In its first report, for the month of May, Google also details all prior accidents that the vehicles have gotten into. None of which, Google says, were its car’s fault.

NHTSA tech will prevent drunk drivers from starting cars – No one will argue that driving under the influence is an irrational thing to do, but once you’re in that situation, all rationality is clearly thrown out the window. This causes around 10,000 people to lose their lives each year. So when you aren’t in a condition to make that decision not to drive, your car might make that decision for you. That is what the US Department of Transportation’s National HIghway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed, showing technology that could stop cars from even starting when the driver is drunk.


A History Of The World In Clickbait Headlines – You Won’t Believe How Accurate And Illuminating It Is.


Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s Shocking New Method For Losing Ten Pounds In One Second (Aristocrats Hate Him).

Google search reveals Indian prime minister among ‘top 10 criminals’ – Technically Incorrect: Search for “Top 10 Criminals” and you’ll find Indian leader Narendra Modi, as well as George W Bush. Are machines not as clever as we think?

Something to think about:

“Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.”

–      Groucho Marx

Today’s Free Downloads:

Eusing Launcher – Organize all your desktop icons and set them up in any way you want, and arrange them according to your wishes and needs.

If you are a Windows user and have a lot of icons placed on the desktop, it may be really difficult to find a certain icon and manage all of them. There is a better way of organizing all your icons on the desktop, using a powerful launcher.

Eusing Launcher organizes all the desktop icons in the shape of a circle, allowing you to easily and quickly find any desired icon.


Easily organize all your icons and set them up in any way you want

Offers you the easiest & fastest way to access any program or Windows feature

Quick access to your Windows system directories and Windows accessories

Enable you to organize your work space

Just drag and drop shortcut or program to add

Use the hot key to bring Eusing Launcher to the top

Use the hot key to switch desktop between Eusing Launcher and Windows Desktop

Keyboard shortcuts can help you save time

Fully customizable for the maximum number of icons, the opacity level and size of the shape

Backup the program’s settings and the list of icons

Program can be minimized to tray or just stay hidden


Money Manager Ex – Money Manager Ex is a free, open-source, cross-platform, easy-to-use personal finance software. It primarily helps organize one’s finances and keeps track of where, when and how the money goes. It is also a great tool to get a bird’s eye view of your financial worth.

Money Manager includes all the basic features that 90% of users would want to see in a personal finance application. The design goals are to concentrate on simplicity and user-friendliness – something one can use everyday.

Manage Multiple Accounts

Create and maintain an electronic checkbook – Checking, Savings, Credit Card or Loans, Stock Investment Accounts, Assets

Checking, Savings, Credit Card or Loan Accounts

Manage income and expense transactions within these accounts

Create your own categories and organize these transactions to track where your money comes or goes.

Manage money transfers between accounts

Mark transactions as reconciled, unreconciled or void to track them against your bank statements

Manage Payees

Stock/Bonds/Mutual Fund Accounts

Track your shares, bonds and related investments

Track the gain/loss for each investment

Update current share price

General Account Features

Ability to handle multiple currency across accounts

Internationalization of currency formatting

Unicode support for all data storage

Track closed Accounts

Setup accounts as favorite accounts

Track your Bills and Deposits- Create bills & deposits to be reminded of your upcoming bills and deposits so you never miss a payment or deposit

Account Summary Views and Navigation- An easy to use tree view navigator to navigate across accounts and summarized views of your accounts, upcoming bills & deposits and income vs. expenses

Budgeting- Setup budgets for a calendar year and see how you are doing over time.

Importing, Exporting and Printing- Ability to import, export and print your account information


Import information from Excel in CSV format

Import information from QIF format (Microsoft Money & Quicken)


Export information from any account to Excel (Comma Separated Value -.CSV) format


Printing of reports/accounts with inbuilt print preview.


View your spending/expenses in a wide variety of ways.

View spending by category over a date range for specific or all accounts

View spending on a single category over time

View income vs expenses

View spending by payee

View expenses and how you are doing on a budget.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Feds can charge you with obstruction of justice for clearing your browser history – In the early 2000s, former US Congressmen Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Michael Oxley (R-OH) crafted a bill that would put pressure on corporations to comply with federal prosecutors during investigations. It was largely a response to 2001’s Enron scandal, when the energy company was able to hide billions of dollars in debt due to corporate loopholes and a little creative accounting. The bill, known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.

Since then, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has subtly provided the legal groundwork for prosecuting people for something like deleting their browser history. One such case is that of Khairullozhon Matanov, a 24-year-old former cab driver who ate dinner with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev the night of the Boston Marathon bombings. Federal prosecutors have charged Matanov under Sarbanes-Oxley for destroying evidence, The Nation reports.

Don’t expect Congress to make major changes to NSA surveillance – After the U.S. Congress approved what critics have called modest limits on the National Security Agency’s collection of domestic telephone records, many lawmakers may be reluctant to further change the government’s surveillance programs.

The Senate this week passed the USA Freedom Act, which aims to end the NSA’s mass collection of domestic phone records, and President Barack Obama signed the bill hours later.

After that action, expect Republican leaders in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to resist further calls for surveillance reform. That resistance is at odds with many rank-and-file lawmakers, including many House Republicans, who want to further limit NSA programs brought to light by former agency contractor Edward Snowden.

County sheriff warrantlessly used stingray 500+ times, claims to have no records – The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD), the largest law enforcement agency in California’s capital region, has operated a stingray at least 500 times without a warrant in the last decade. But if you asked SCSD directly, even recently they wouldn’t give you a definite figure.

As part of an ongoing investigation into stingray use nationwide, Ars filed a public records request with the SCSD this year. And at the end of April, the SCSD responded. The department claimed that “no responsive documents exist,” essentially saying that there are no records detailing how many times its stingray has been used.

That seemed a bit odd because in 2013, local Sacramento television station News 10 obtained a Homeland Security grant application written by the SCSD. The proposal aimed to upgrade the department’s stingray capabilities, and as part of its justification, the SCSD claimed to know how successful its device has been:

Through the use of existing (yet soon to be antiquated) equipment the Sacramento County Sheriff Department has assisted more than 26 local, State and Federal agencies with more than 500 successful criminal investigations and apprehensions of violent offenders.


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