Tim Cook Delivers Blistering Speech On Encryption, Privacy; 16 cool things to try with the new Google Photos; Is your PC overheating? Here’s how to tell; The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week Were; The Best IP Cameras for Home Surveillance; Apple’s HomeKit is here; Intel unveils ten new chips; Windows 10 pricing: If you’re not upgrading, it’ll cost up to $199; Ten tips to help Windows users transition to OS X; New SOHO router security audit uncovers over 60 flaws in 22 models; 6 Features Disappearing in Windows 10 (and How to Replace Them); Batteriser is a $2.50 gadget that extends disposable battery life by 800 percent; Steam now offers video game refunds for ‘any reason’; Pinterest Unveils Buyable Pins; New exploit leaves most Macs vulnerable to permanent backdooring; Supreme Court overturns Facebook threats conviction; Remote Utilities Free.
Apple’s Tim Cook Delivers Blistering Speech On Encryption, Privacy – Yesterday evening, Apple CEO Tim Cook was honored for ‘corporate leadership’ during EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington. Cook spoke remotely to the assembled audience on guarding customer privacy, ensuring security and protecting their right to encryption. Cook lost no time in directing comments at companies (obviously, though not explicitly) like Facebook and Google, which rely on advertising to users based on the data they collect from them for a portion, if not a majority, of their income.
“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information,” said Cook. “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
“We don’t think you should ever have to trade it for a service you think is free but actually comes at a very high cost. This is especially true now that we’re storing data about our health, our finances and our homes on our devices,” Cook went on, getting even more explicit when talking about user privacy.
16 cool things to try with the new Google Photos – You’ve seen the first impressions. You’ve tried the app yourself. Now check out some of the awesome advanced features tucked inside the new Google Photos. If so, get ready: Google’s new image service packs some serious power. And if not — well, what are you waiting for? Beyond the basics, here are 16 awesome advanced features tucked inside the new Google Photos. Be warned: Some of these may blow your mind.
Is your PC overheating? Here’s how to tell – An overheated PC can reduce efficiency and wear down components. Here’s how to find out if yours is running too hot.
The Best IP Cameras for Home Surveillance – One of the biggest benefits of a connected home is being able to know what’s going on when you’re not actually there. Whether you’re checking in on your kids, pets, or an exotic jewel collection, a home surveillance camera is a great tool for keeping an eye on things from afar. As you can see in the list below, most of the home surveillance cameras on the market are roughly in the $200 range, but some of them also require an additional fee to store recorded video in the cloud. We break down any extra fees in our reviews, so it’s worth taking a look at each to find out which one fits your budget. Then again, you can’t really put a price on peace of mind.
Batteriser is a $2.50 gadget that extends disposable battery life by 800 percent – A completely new alkaline battery is rated to generate 1.5 volts, but once its output drops below 1.35 or even 1.4 volts, it effectively becomes useless to many devices. The battery’s chemical cocktail is still loaded with juice, but the circuitry in many gadgets (especially more sophisticated ones, like Bluetooth keyboards and bathroom scales) considers the battery dead. This is where Batteriser comes in. It’s essentially a voltage booster that sucks every last drop of useable energy from ostensibly spent batteries. So, instead of using just 20 percent of all the power hidden inside of your Duracells and Energizers, Batteriser makes effective use of the remaining 80 percent.
Pinterest Unveils Buyable Pins, A Way To Purchase Things Directly Within Pinterest – Pinterest unveiled what it’s calling “buyable pins” at an event at its headquarters in San Francisco today. Here’s how it works: Rich Pins — pins which have much more information than a normal link, such as the ingredients for a recipe — will get a new button that allows users to purchase things directly from partners that it’s working for. Users will see prices, be able to select specific types of a product (like the color), and then they can tap the button to buy the product. That item then arrives at the user’s door.
Imgur Introduces Native Ads On The Web And Overhauls Its Android App – There’s lots of news from Imgur, one of the internet’s most popular places for funny images and GIFs, today. The site has officially launched native advertising, and made significant changes to its Android app. Six-year-old Imgur, which was bootstrapped until it raised $40 million last year, is already profitable, but the company revealed last year that it planned to introduce ads to boost monetization.
Instagram Beefs Up Ads With App Install And Buy Buttons, Interest Targeting, API – Instagram is ready to make some serious money. After a year and half of format experiments and basic targeting, Instagram is giving advertisers much more powerful tools. Those include “Shop Now”, “Install Now”, and “Sign up” buttons, interest and demographic targeting, and an API for efficiently managing huge campaigns. Since their launch in October 2013, Instagram’s ads were best for big brands who just wanted you to remember them. Now they’ll work much better for direct marketers who want you to do or buy something.
Netflix is testing showing commercials before and after your videos – Though these ads are just a limited test, they do seem inevitable. At some point, Netflix will either need or desire a new revenue stream, and it’s most likely easier to rely on the sale of ads than the creation of highly desirable original content that’ll draw in new users. Not everything can be as big of a hit as Orange is the New Black or House of Cards. For now, if you’re one of the unlucky few to be in a test market, just use the time to hit the bathroom or to pop into the kitchen to dunk a spoon in the peanut butter jar.
Apple’s HomeKit is here: “Siri, turn on my lights” – Today Apple’s smart home ecosystem HomeKit launches with brands like Elgato, Insteon, Lutron, Ecobee, and iHome. Just ahead of the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2015), HomeKit has launched with partners bringing hardware to the market. It’s been nearly one year* to the day since Apple’s HomeKit system was first revealed at WWDC 2014, and here we’re seeing partners launching products aplenty, some that’ll be carried by Apple Stores, some that will launch independently in stores around the world. Soon you’ll be able to tell Siri to turn your lights on when you enter your home – soon!
Ten tips to help Windows users transition to OS X – The Mac platform now has more users than at any time in its long history — and more and more Windows veterans are making the switch. But moving from Windows to the Mac can be a bit of a challenge. In this article, we’ll offer some helpful tips that will make this transition a bit easier, and help your users get up and running on OS X in no time at all.
Firefox Integrates Pocket, Adds Distraction-Free Reader View – Mozilla’s Firefox now features a full integration with the Pocket read-it-later service for saving text and video. In addition, Reader View now offers users a distraction-free reading mode that’s similar to Apple’s Reader mode in Safari and the functionality of the popular Readability extension and bookmarklets.
Windows 10 pricing: If you’re not upgrading, it’ll cost up to $199 – After confirming the rumored July 29 release date for Windows 10, Microsoft has now confirmed the pricing for its new operating system. As previously announced, upgrades from Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 are free for the first year of availability. Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, and Windows 8/8.1 users will receive Windows 10 Home. Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Windows 8.1 Pro users will receive Windows 10 Pro. Enterprise users get nothing, because upgrading is usually taken care of as part of their license agreement anyway.
Windows 10 Home users may not be able to opt out of Automatic Updates – The language used in the upgrade details for those that qualify for the Windows 10 Home edition appear to suggest that users on that SKU will not be able to opt out of automatic updates.
Microsoft explains what you’ll lose by upgrading to Windows 10 – Microsoft announced today that it will be launching Windows 10 on July 29th, encouraging Windows 7 and 8.1 users to reserve their free upgrade with a notification in their task bar. However, while the company has been busy highlighting all the shiny new features in the upcoming OS, it’s been a bit quieter when it comes to spelling out the limitations — including making updates automatic for Windows 10 Home users.
6 Features Disappearing in Windows 10 (and How to Replace Them) – As noted by Paul Thurott, a number of old (some quite old) features will not make the jump to Windows 10. But that doesn’t mean you have to live without them when you upgrade! Here are some of the items Microsoft will be assassinating in Windows 10—and ways to work around them.
Two reasons your BlackBerry is about to get better in and out of the office – A pair of software updates for all BlackBerry 10 devices bring camera improvements, smarter notification management during meetings, and a new look to Blend.
New SOHO router security audit uncovers over 60 flaws in 22 models – In yet another testament of the awful state of home router security, a group of security researchers uncovered more than 60 vulnerabilities in 22 router models from different vendors, most of which were distributed by ISPs to customers. The flaws, most of which affect more than one router model, could allow attackers to bypass authentication on the devices; inject rogue code into their Web-based management interfaces; trick users into executing rogue actions on their routers when visiting compromised websites; read and write information on USB storage devices attached to the affected routers; reboot the devices, and more.
New exploit leaves most Macs vulnerable to permanent backdooring – The attack, according to a blog post published Friday by well-known OS X security researcher Pedro Vilaca, affects Macs shipped prior to the middle of 2014 that are allowed to go into sleep mode. He found a way to reflash a Mac’s BIOS using functionality contained in userland, which is the part of an operating system where installed applications and drivers are executed. By exploiting vulnerabilities such as those regularly found in Safari and other Web browsers, attackers can install malicious firmware that survives hard drive reformatting and reinstallation of the operating system.
Google wants to ‘put you in control’ of privacy and security with new My Account hub – Google’s says its new ‘My Account’ hub will make it easier for users to protect their data and put them in control, while a new information site will help them understand privacy and security issues.
SourceForge stops bundling ads into software without permission after GIMP fiasco – Code repository SourceForge said Monday it will stop including third-party offers without developers’ consent into projects that are no longer maintained, a practice it briefly tried but was widely criticized. The inclusion of third-party offers is a way for SourceForge to generate revenue, but not one that resonates with its community and its open-source software ethos. SourceForge, once a dominant site, has lost much ground to GitHub in recent years.
Yahoo tries legal pirouettes in court, breaks neck – Yahoo, the once-mighty search-engine company, executed some remarkably graceless legal pirouettes as it tried to defend its invasive email scanning practices — scanning of emails not sent by Yahoo Mail customers who had signed off on the terms of service, but the emails of people who had sent email to Yahoo users. All to no avail. Last week (May 26), a federal judge approved a class-action lawsuit against Yahoo. But a review of the arguments that Yahoo tried in court is rather entertaining.
Disconnect.Me Files Antitrust Case Against Google In Europe Over Banned – As the European Commission turns the heat up on Google over allegations that the company has abused its dominant market position in areas like search and mobile to create an anticompetitive environment for other online businesses, another small startup has joined the chorus of those crying foul. Disconnect Inc. — a B Corporation startup co-founded by ex-Googlers to build software to help Internet users block ads and other third-party services that tracks them or potentially releases malware — has filed an antitrust complaint against Google, claiming the Android giant is abusing its market position by banning Disconnect’s latest Android app, Disconnect Mobile, from the Google Play store.
Intel unveils ten new chips, focuses on graphics – On stage at Computex, Intel unveiled ten new processor models, divided equally between mobile and desktop classes. All of the new chips feature Iris graphics and focus on media performance.
AMD takes aim at the notebook market with new 12-core processors – Announced Wednesday at Computex, AMD’s latest A-Series processors will come in 3 flavors and are designed for serious online streaming and gaming. The 3 variants come packing discrete graphics cores in the form of a Radeon R6 or R7 for better visual performance, and the chips in range will have a total number of either 10 or 12 cores. This translates to a piece of silicon loaded with four x86 processing cores and either six or eight graphics processor unit (GPU) cores. Codenamed Carrizo, the processing cores use the new “Excavator” chips, which are designed for laptops, and pack either a six-core Radeon R6 on the A10-8700P and A8-8600P, or an eight-core Radeon R7 on the FX-8800P to handle graphics.
Intel buys out rival Altera for $16.7 billion – Intel, one of the largest chipmakers around, is buying one of its rivals, Altera. The latter was focused on specialized processors that are increasingly being used alongside traditional servers.
Uber hit with another harassment case in New Delhi – Another sexual harassment case involving Uber has surfaced in New Delhi, where a driver for the ridesharing service has been arrested for allegedly kissing a rider’s hand, then attempting to kiss her on the mouth, at which point she ran away. The driver who has been accused, Vinod Kumar, reportedly has been driving with Uber since May 4, and was arrested following a preliminary probe into the claims. According to an unnamed police official, the driver “is in police custody and” is being questioned about the matter.
Microsoft grabs another mobile app shop, confirms Wunderlist purchase – Microsoft today confirmed that it has acquired Wunderlist’s German developer, notching another small shop with a stable of mobile productivity apps. Rumors of the acquisition circulated Monday, prompted by a report in the Wall Street Journal that claimed a deal had been signed for between $100 million and $200 million. Microsoft and 6Wunderkinder GmbH, headquartered in Berlin, acknowledged the purchase today.
Games and Entertainment:
Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget – What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck? Let us be your guiding light. We’ve tested graphics cards of all shapes, sizes, and price points to nail down exactly what you can expect for your money—from itty-bitty $90 cards to fire-breathing $1000 models to behemoths with not one, but two graphics processors and custom watercooling loops. Graphics cards are expensive. Choosing one can be complicated. But it won’t be after reading this. Let’s dig in.
Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm thunders ahead of E3 – Ever wondered what would happen if Diablo and Tyrael ever clashed? Or if Illidan would be a match against Kerridan? These are the stuff that dreams and fanfiction are made of, but now you can actually make them reality, somewhat. Yes, Blizzard has finally fully unleashed Heroes of the Storm onto the masses, allowing players to finally pit iconic characters from Blizzards many and unrelated IPs against each other in a situation that would never happen otherwise in canon. All for the sweet low price of free.
Watch The Trailer For ‘Henry,’ The Second VR Movie From Oculus Story Studio – Oculus made waves earlier this year when it announced it would be developing its own original film content for consumption on its VR devices – now there’s a second movie coming out of the Oculus Story Studio, directed by Ramiro Lopez Dau, who had a hand in both Brave and Monsters University from Pixar. The thinking behind the short feature was to create essentially VR’s first truly hug-worthy character, according to the creators, and to build an experience that differentiates itself from epic sci-fi and more core gamer themes. Oculus is clearly looking to advertise some of its more mainstream appeal ahead of its consumer device launch next year.
Steam now offers video game refunds for ‘any reason’ – Valve’s online games platform Steam has added a refund policy. According to a newly published page, “you can request a refund for nearly any purchase on Steam — for any reason.” As long as a player has purchased the game within the past 14 days and played less than two hours, they can file a request through Steam’s support system. Valve will return the money within a week through the player’s payment method or, failing that, Steam Wallet.
I’d start playing World of Warcraft again if it looked like this – World of Warcraft’s Elwynn Forest got a massive upgrade from modder Daniel Luchau this week. Sadly, it’s not playable — just a short video showing off what the Unreal Engine 4 is capable of in the hands of a very creative individual with access to the right assets.
Get your caps ready, Fallout 4 is likely on the way – The long-awaited next release of the Fallout series appears to be on the way. A countdown indicates more information will be available tomorrow, and we’re guessing a demo will be shown at E3.
The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week Were – There are two new flicks that made it onto the most-pirated movies list this week: San Andreas Quake and Unfinished Business, starring Jhey Castles and Vince Vaughn, respectively. If you want to learn more about these movies, as well as the eight other films that were popular among pirates, check out the slideshow linked both above and below for more information.
Off Topic (Sort of):
Supreme Court overturns Facebook threats conviction – The Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man for making violent posts on Facebook in a case that tests the boundaries of free speech on the Internet. The conviction of Anthony D. Elonis was based on the idea that Facebook comments about his ex-wife, former co-workers, shooting up a school and harming law enforcement would make a reasonable person feel threatened. In a 7-2 ruling Monday, the court reversed his conviction, stating that the threats weren’t enough to convict.
US Army testing tiny new drones better suited to Batman – We’ve seen an increasing number of tiny drones meant for consumers hitting the market recently, but the PD-100 reportedly can also deliver a clear, real-time video feed and stay aloft for 25 minutes at a stretch. But most important for aspiring superheroes on the go, it also launches from a small box that hooks to a utility belt and stores all data sent from the drone, just in case it should fall into the hands of bad guys. The drone can be piloted with a one-handed video game-like controller or pilot itself to pre-selected points.
The PD-100 is a tiny spy. Prox Dynamics
8 Dumb Tech Predictions From Smart People – It’s a fact that even the smartest people on the planet say some pretty dumb things. Many times the dumb things they say seem smart at the time, but in the end, this is the Internet and nobody really gives a crap about context. So in that spirit, here’s a visual journey through some of the head-scratching words spoken by really smart people in technology and science.
Here’s the Perfectly Logical Reason Airplane Windows Have Holes – If you’re a fan of the window seat, you’ve probably noticed a small hole at the bottom of airplane windows — and wondered why on earth that tiny thing is there. As it turns out, the hole is called a breather hole or a bleed hole, and it serves an important safety function, according to a Slate column by pilot Mark Vanhoenacker.
Stuart Gleave—Getty Images
6.1B Smartphone Users Globally By 2020, Overtaking Basic Fixed Phone Subscriptions – By 2020, we will see a tipping point of sorts, when globally there will be 6.1 smartphone users, finally overtaking the number of fixed line subscriptions. The numbers come from the latest Mobility Report from Ericsson, annual research the telecoms company conducts using data from around 100 carriers globally. Those 6.1 billion smartphone users works out to some 70 percent of the worlds population using smartphones in five years’ time, a measure of just how central these devices are becoming to how we communicate and do much more.
Elon Musk would make the best tech president, says survey – Technically Incorrect: Which tech leader would you like to see as president? Respondents to a survey vote for President Musk.
Something to think about:
“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”
– Mark Twain
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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
President Obama signs bill curbing NSA powers into law – President Barack Obama has signed the USA Freedom Act bill into law, reinstating the Patriot Act’s controversial Section 215 but curbing some of the NSA’s broad surveillance powers.
The bill was passed by the Senate earlier today following a political standoff. Although the House passed the bill last month, the Senate only was able to pass it one day after the Patriot Act’s provisions expired, following a major debate where several proposed amendments to the Freedom Act were shot down.
The FBI made fake companies so it could fly spy planes over US cities – The FBI has used at least 13 shell companies to conceal a fleet of surveillance planes that recently flew over more than 30 cities in 11 states, according to an Associated Press investigation published today.
According to the AP’s report, the low-flying planes are equipped with video, and operate without a judge’s warrant — although the government says they’re for specific investigations. The AP traced the companies — with names like FVX Research and KQM Aviation — that were used to keep the fleet of at least 50 FBI planes under wraps. Many of the companies’ documents were signed by a “Robert Lindley,” but the government would not confirm to the AP whether that was a government employee.
In November, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the Justice Department had been equipping planes with so-called “dirtboxes,” machines that could scoop up data on cellphones below, which the AP confirms in its report. But the scope and limits of the project are still obscure.
What Those Mysterious FBI Planes Might Be Carrying – Following a Washington Post report last month into the mysterious aircraft circling over the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore, researchers have been finding more and more of these mysterious flights above cities across the US. The planes are mostly single-engine Cessna aircraft, all registered under obviously bogus companies with names like “NG Research,” “KQM Aviation,” and “OBD Leasing.” More than a dozen are registered to P.O. boxes in Bristow, Virginia, a small town with only 29,346 residents. One of the boxes is openly listed as belonging to the Department of Justice, the FBI’s parent agency.
A few months ago, this all sounded like some crackpot conspiracy theory. Now the FBI is acknowledging for the first time that not only is it behind the fake companies flying these planes, but that it usually does so without any judge’s approval, according to an AP report.
The Bureau says the planes are used to support specific ongoing investigations. It also bizarrely claims that its “aviation program is not secret” and that the planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.” Both of those claims are fairly dubious.
US airport screeners missed 95% of weapons, explosives in undercover tests – Transportation Security Administration screeners allowed banned weapons and mock explosives through airport security checkpoints 95 percent of the time, according to the agency’s own undercover testing.
ABC News reported the results on Monday, but Ars could not independently confirm them. According to ABC News, a Homeland Security Inspector General report showed that agents failed to detect weapons and explosives in 67 out of 70 undercover operations. The report said:
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was apparently so frustrated by the findings he sought a detailed briefing on them last week at TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, according to sources. US officials insisted changes have already been made at airports to address vulnerabilities identified by the latest tests.
Faced with ban, tech giants stay silent over Russia censorship laws – Russia isn’t exactly the world’s favorite state at the moment.
In between stifling freedom of expression and jailing punk rockers, becoming a haven for homophobia and invading Crimea, it’s now cracking the whip on international companies doing business within its borders.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter face a ban in the country if they do not comply with Russia’s recently ratified media laws. Introduced by the Kremlin and passed into law last year, bloggers with more than a modest following must register with the government. Companies operating in the country must also store citizens’ data in the country to allow the government’s access.
The reason? So the Kremlin can demand that any data that calls for “unsanctioned protests and unrest” can be pulled off the country’s internet, according to Vadim Ampelonsky, a spokesperson for Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor, in a statement to Reuters.