Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – June 5, 2015

FBI: Apple and Google are helping ISIS by offering strong crypto;  US lawmaker: Next, we stop the NSA from weakening encryption;  Which edition of Windows 10 will you get for free?  Periscope’s new map view helps you find broadcasters by location;  10 Chrome and Firefox add-ons that streamline data sharing, storage, and security;  How to run Android apps on your Windows PC with AMIDuOS;  The Best Free Password Managers for 2015;  Don’t panic! How to fix 5 common PC emergencies;  Pro tip: Capture video at a higher frame rate with iPhone 6;  This Is Microsoft’s Big Secret Windows 10 Feature;  YouTube Users Say This Is The ‘Ad of the Decade’;   Five Android net scanning tools for mobile troubleshooting;  Multitask like a pro with these Mac tips;  How to add USB-C support to a Windows PC;  Netflix has four new kids shows inbound;  Yahoo pays NFL to stream regular-season game across globe for free;  Android TV Gets Over 600 New Apps.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Which edition of Windows 10 will you get for free? – Windows 10 will be available in Home and Professional editions, as well as an Enterprise version for big businesses. So which edition of Windows 10 will you get as part of your free upgrade? A reader asked me this question the other day, so I thought it’d be worth a look.

This Is Microsoft’s Big Secret Windows 10 Feature – The new system will be a bold entry into a massive new market. Microsoft announced last November Windows 10 would pack a technology called AllJoyn. An open source framework that encourages devices to be interoperable, AllJoyn was developed by the AllSeen Alliance, a group of more than 150 companies including the likes of Electrolux, Honeywell, LG, and Qualcomm that have banded together to make an open standard for Internet of Things (IoT) devices to speak to each other. This might seem like a load of hokum, but if it works out, AllJoyn integration could be huge not just for Windows users, but for the millions of people who can’t wrap their heads around setting up smart home products.

Yes, you’ll be able to do clean installs of the free Windows 10 upgrade – Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade to most Windows 7 and 8 users for one year after its July 29 launch. This has led, inevitably, to a number of questions about what happens to those who want or need to reinstall their operating system. Microsoft’s Gabe Aul has provided some much-needed clarification on this issue. On Twitter he confirmed that once upgraded, Windows 10 users will be able to perform clean installs of the operating system at any time, even after the one-year free period has ended. Users won’t be required to install Windows 7 or 8 and then re-upgrade, and they won’t need the Windows 7 or 8 product key, with Aul confirming that clean installs from an ISO will be possible.

10 Chrome and Firefox add-ons that streamline data sharing, storage, and security – Share data between devices, test a website’s infrastructure, encrypt data, and more with these cloud-based add-ons for Chrome and Firefox.

How to run Android apps on your Windows PC with AMIDuOS – Want to run your favorite Android apps on your Windows desktop, laptop, tablet or 2-in-1 system? American Megatrends – yes, that same company you’ve been seeing on PC BIOS screens since the 1980s – has a utility for you.

Periscope’s new map view helps you find broadcasters by location – The iOS version of Periscope, Twitter’s livestreaming app, received an update yesterday that brought with it a new map view. The new view lets users browse streams from specific locations around the world, selecting live broadcasts from different areas by zooming in on countries, cities, and towns. Streamers will see their broadcasts appear automatically on the map view if they enable location data sharing in the app. The addition goes some way to fixing Periscope’s biggest problem — namely, that it’s been tricky so far to find streams actually worth watching in the Twitter-owned app.

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Pro tip: Capture video at a higher frame rate with iPhone 6 – With the iPhone 6, Apple decided to let users choose how they wanted their videos to be recorded: either 30 FPS or 60 FPS. Cory Bohon shows you how to change this option and what it all means.

SoundHound’s new voice assistant app might be smarter than Siri – You’re probably familiar with SoundHound as a way to identify songs, but the company’s new app goes far beyond music ID. Hound is a voice search and control app that’s available first on Android. It stresses natural language and conversational interactions. The demo videos of the app in action are, admittedly, very impressive. Maybe it’ll give Google and Siri a run for their money. The app is being launched as an invite-only beta, but if you request access it shouldn’t take long to get in.

Chrome Now Automatically Pauses Flash Content That Isn’t ‘Central’ To A Web Page – Auto-playing Flash content can drain your laptop’s batteries (and, if it’s an auto-playing ad with audio, get on your nerves). Thankfully, Google has now partnered with Adobe to keep Flash on Chrome in check. Starting with today’s release of the latest Chrome desktop Beta, the browser will now automatically pause Flash animations that — in Google’s words — “aren’t central to the webpage.” Ideally, Google will pause the Flash content it thinks isn’t important right now and still let you keep watching that video you actually wanted to see. In case it gets it wrong, you can always click on the wrongly paused content to resume playback.

Facebook Lite Is A Stripped Down Android App For The Developing World – Today, Facebook is launching a bare-bones, low-resolution version of its Android app that works well on crummy networks or outdated phones, and burns much less data than its normal smartphone apps. Facebook Lite is designed specifically for the developing world to help the social network on-board its next billion users. Facebook Lite doesn’t offer data-intensive features like videos or Nearby Friends. But if users are willing to accept that and lower-resolution image thumbnails, they can access Facebook quick, smooth, and cheap from the most remote corners of the planet. You can watch a quick video demo of Facebook Lite below:

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Five Android net scanning tools for mobile troubleshooting – Out of nowhere your network can go five shades of wonky and you are at the other end of your campus–and the only tool you have on hand is your Android device. A network scan is a must and, fortunately, Android can comply. The Android ecosystem offers plenty of tools for network administrators. But which ones you should be using? I’ve dug into the realm of network scanners to find five that could easily wind up as your go-to mobile scanners. Read on and see if any of these particular apps meet your needs.

How to Build Your Own PC – Let’s face it, no one really builds their own desktop PC anymore, right? Wrong, actually. DIY may not be all it used to be, but it’s still a thriving sector of the PC industry, and one that any serious computer user—we mean the type of person who cares more about what a computer can do than how small an envelope it can slide into—should be aware of. Because, if you want the strongest, most adaptable, most upgradeable, and most personal computer you can possibly get, there’s no way around it: You need to build it yourself.

Don’t panic! How to fix 5 common PC emergencies – Your PC may not be as essential to you as your smartphone, but chances are it’s still pretty damn important. So it’s completely understandable if your first reaction is to freeze and freak out when you run into a PC emergency, such as a broken screen, accidentally-deleted important file, or a virus. But panicking is counter-productive, because time is often of the essence. Don’t worry. While you can’t call 9-1-1, here’s what you can do to fix five common PC emergencies.

Microsoft talks about ever smaller Windows 10 PCs, including one inside a power adapter – At its Computex 2015 keynote address Microsoft talked about Windows 10 in many form factors, and showed off two new ultra-small PCs designed for connecting to TVs without being noticable.

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Multitask like a pro with these Mac tips – Knowing your way around your Mac desktop and windows can help you get more work done. Here’s some tips to help you increase your productivity.

How to add USB-C support to a Windows PC – Feel like you are missing out on all the USB-C fun that owners of the new MacBook are having? Here’s how you can add support for the new standard.

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With over 1 million users of Office 2016 preview, Microsoft turns on a few more features – Microsoft has announced that there are over 1 million users of Office 2016 and that they are adding new features to the apps, including improved file sharing and updates to Version History.

iPhone laser dongle makes measuring a snap – The low-power laser works with a camera app to measure distance as well as objects such as wall hangings.

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Apple recalls Beats Pill XL due to fire risk – Apple is voluntarily recalling 222,000 Beats Pill XL speakers following eight reports of batteries overheating and one user who was burned.

Security:

Microsoft provides privacy dashboard ahead of Windows 10 launch – The newly-minted privacy dashboard (included in the Security and Privacy section of Microsoft’s account administration page) gives users links to control data stored for personalizing their experience on Bing, what apps and services use their information, whether Microsoft personalizes ads for them and whether the company can market to them via email. It’s part of a move by the company to unify and simplify most of its service agreements and privacy policies for various products under one document.

The Best Free Password Managers for 2015 – Think remembering dozens of strong, unique passwords is too much trouble? Consider how much trouble you’d have if you lost access to your email account because the password was “password.” With a free password manager, cranking up your security is no trouble at all.

Researcher warns popular gaming plug-in puts millions of web users at risk from data thieves – A researcher is warning that a gaming plug-in installed on over 200 million PCs contains a flaw that could let attackers steal users’ data from websites they’re logged into, such as their Web mail and social networking accounts. The technology in question, from Unity Technologies, is used by hundreds of thousands of developers to create online games and other interactive 3D content. The flaw, which the researcher says hasn’t been patched yet, is located in the Unity Web Player, a plug-in that needs to be installed inside browsers in order to display Unity-based Web apps.

List open ports and listening services – One of the biggest headaches for network administrators is open ports on devices. Unless you manually installed the operating system on every device on your network, ensuring to close down all unessential ports, you run the risk of attack. The ports you should disable will vary by system and may even be dictated by the needs of specialized software (for instance, QuickBooks requires specific ports — determined by release — in order to function). You need to come up with a list of ports that either can or must remain open. Once you have that list, you can set about closing up shop on those machines.

Chinese hackers breach US government, compromise data of millions – Chinese hackers have been blamed for an attack at the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management which may have compromised the data of up to 4 million people in every federal agency.

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.”

Air gaps still a cheap and effective defence for critical networks: Kaspersky – Physically-separate networks aren’t always the rule for industrial networks these days, said Eugene Kaspersky, but they should be.

Company News:

Microsoft opens Transparency Center in Brussels; shows governments its source code – Microsoft is looking to show the EU that its products are secure and that user data is being treated with privacy in mind. To that end the company is opening a Transparency Center in Brussels.

eBay Valet Launches A Clothing Resale Service Focused On High-End Brands – eBay today is expanding its professional selling service known as eBay Valet, where select, pre-approved Bay sellers will handle listing, selling and shipping items on consumers’ behalf in exchange for a split of the sales. The service will now accept high-end clothing, the company says, marking eBay’s desire to compete with a growing number of e-commerce sites and online marketplaces that help consumers sell their high-quality, secondhand fashion items, including apparel and accessories. Today, there are dozens of these services, including sites like The RealReal, ThredUp, Poshmark, Twice, Threadflip, Tradesy, and more.

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Alibaba to invest $194 million in Chinese financial media firm – The alliance aims to help Alibaba expand into financial-information services by taking advantage of the Chinese e-commerce giant’s rich resources in customer data and cloud computing technology.

Designbook, in trademark tussle with Facebook, gets support from governor – Earlier this week, Vermont startup Designbook revealed that it had been approached by lawyers from social-networking giant Facebook, which is pushing it to change its name. Facebook has filed an opposition to the trademark “Designbook” at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Yesterday, Designbook got an unexpected powerful ally: the governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin. Having read about the trademark tiff in news reports, Shumlin wrote a letter (PDF) to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to leave Designbook alone. “I was very concerned to read about Facebook’s unnecessary bullying of a Vermont startup called Designbook,” wrote Shumlin. The letter continues:

F-Secure snaps up security consultation firm nSense – F-Secure has acquired nSense, a Danish company which specializes in security consultation and vulnerability assessment. Announced on Wednesday, the acquisition of nSense is designed to bolster F-Secure’s position in European markets as a “prominent security vendor.” nSense’s expertise lies in security consultation, vulnerability assessment, pen testing and PCI DSS services to financial institutions, service providers and large enterprise firms.

Games and Entertainment:

Android TV Gets Over 600 New Apps To Choose From In The Play Store – Google’s second foray into television, Android TV, has been a bit slow off the starting blocks in some respects – app support was one area where it definitely felt a little threadbare. Now, however, Google is expanding its software catalogue considerably, adding over 600 new apps via a Play Store update today for Android TV devices, including the Nexus Player. The new 600+ apps are also categorized into 20 new collections that help it easy to find specific types of apps like movies, sports, news, multiplayer games and more. The update should be showing up on compatible devices now, and you’ll see the new content in the store navigation area of your device.

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Netflix has four new kids shows inbound – On Wednesday, Netflix announced four new animated series for kids, one of which will be arriving this coming September and the rest later on in 2016. There is Puffin Rock, which is an animated series for preschoolers that will be launching later this year. Joining it in 2016 will be a Netflix Original Series dubbedTarzan and Jane, Luna Petunia, another preschooler series that is inspired by Cirque du Soleils, and, finally, Kulipari: An Army of Frogs.

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Planetside 2 online shooter launches June 23 – Sony had a decent online shooter back in the day called Planetside. This game first landed back when there weren’t many massive online shooters for PC gamers to choose from. If you were a fan of that game Sony has announced that Planetside 2 will be coming to the PS4 on June 23 in Europe and North America. The original Planetside game was for the PC.

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First Gaming Hall of Fame class includes Pong, Tetris, and Mario – The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, has named the first six games to its new World Video Game Hall of Fame. Pong, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Doom, and World of Warcraft were chosen for inclusion by an advisory committee of about two dozen journalists, scholars, and game historians. The goal was to choose games “that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general,” according to a statement from the museum, which also houses the International Center for the History of Electronic Games.

PS4’s Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection confirmed for October release – Only a few hours after gamers caught wind of the announcement via a PlayStation Store slip-up, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection has been confirmed and is scheduled for release on October 9th. The PlayStation 4 game will be a remastered collection of the first three titles in the series that were released on the PS3, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. The announcement also included a trailer for the action-adventure trilogy, which you can check out below.

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Yahoo pays NFL to stream regular-season game across globe for free – The game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, which will take place on October 25 in London, will also air “exclusively” on Yahoo’s Web and app platforms across the globe, with the exception of the teams’ local TV affiliates—meaning that no cable or satellite network, including paid services like DirecTV Sunday Ticket, will air the game. Yahoo will rely on a CBS crew to produce the broadcast, but no further details about the match’s presentation were announced. Also unannounced is whether Yahoo’s streams to other countries will have other languages dubbed over the action.

Off Topic (Sort of):

YouTube Users Say This Is The ‘Ad of the Decade’ – YouTube’s users recently voted for the best advertisements of the past 10 years as part of the online video site’s 10th anniversary celebrations — and there was some fierce (and adorable) competition. While Volkswagen’s “The Force” stole hearts the world over when it debuted during the 2011 Super Bowl, Turkish Airline’s “Kobe vs. Messi: The Selfie Shootout” captured the top title for Ad of the Decade.

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Mad John McAfee: ‘Can you live in a society that is more paranoid than I’m supposed to be?’ – Infosec 2015 John McAfee delivered a surprisingly non-controversial keynote speech to the London Infosec Conference on Wednesday afternoon, lauding the value of privacy. McAfee’s talk was essentially a rant against governments’ security-compromising activities, summed up by his statement: “We cannot allow a fearful government to create weaknesses in the very software we are trying to protect. By putting backdoors in the software, we have given hackers the access we are trying to prevent.”

Teacher suspended after using cellular jammer in class – Anyone who has worked in education since mobile phones and smartphones have become so common knows that it is very hard to keep students off the devices during class. Students have become very adept at using devices without teacher knowledge. A teacher at a high school in Pasco County Florida has found himself in hot water with the district and parents after taking matters into his own hands to stop smartphone use in class.

Google Brings New Street View Imagery To 40 Remote Islands And Underwater Locations – Google launched a new batch of regular and underwater Street View imagery today that lets you swim with humpback whales off the Cook Islands, dive with parrot fish off the coast of Bali, or walk on a beach in American Samoa. In total, the company added more than 40 new Street View locations with this update — one of the biggest releases of new underwater imagery since the company first launched this project in 2012.

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Seven toxic mini-frog species discovered in mountain cloud forests – Seven new species of extra-tiny frog have been discovered in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest and shown in research published this week. The extent of what we know about the miniaturized frog genus Brachycephalus has expanded greatly, suddenly, as this paper shows 5 years of exploration revealing seven new species of the creature. Each of these frogs is very brightly colored, and each has a highly potent neurotoxin in their skin. In other words, though they may look tasty, you should not eat them.

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ATM Industry Association announces Windows 10 migration plan, will skip Windows 8 – The ATM Industry Association has announced that the ATMs running on older Windows versions will be upgraded to Windows 10 when it becomes available as part of its 2020 migration plan.

NASA drone tracking trials tap Verizon towers – NASA and Verizon are working together on air traffic control for drones, aiming to use existing cellphone towers to track and even ground unmanned aircraft. The deal will see the space agency kick off trials at its Ames Research Center in California this summer, focusing on small, low-altitude drones which currently don’t make it onto the radar of traditional air traffic management. The goal is an automated system which would open the skies to drone delivery, something which already has Amazon and Google throwing their money at NASA.

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Gawker Staff Votes To Unionize – Gawker Media’s editorial staff will be joining the Writers Guild of America, East. The efforts to bring the company into the WGAE (a union best known for representing film and television writers) have drawn broader attention because Gawker is now the first online-only media organization to unionize.

Something to think about:

“Take control of your lives. Say ‘I am going to be responsible for myself, at least to some extent. Governments cannot protect you.”

–      John McAfee

Today’s Free Downloads:

Zenmap  – Zenmap is the official Nmap Security Scanner GUI. It is a multi-platform (Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, BSD, etc.) free and open source application which aims to make Nmap easy for beginners to use while providing advanced features for experienced Nmap users. Frequently used scans can be saved as profiles to make them easy to run repeatedly. A command creator allows interactive creation of Nmap command lines. Scan results can be saved and viewed later. Saved scan results can be compared with one another to see how they differ. The results of recent scans are stored in a searchable database.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI: Apple and Google are helping ISIS by offering strong crypto – Apple and Google are helping terrorism by offering users encrypted communications, a senior FBI official has told the House Homeland Security Committee in Congress, and US law enforcement needs to stop them from doing it.

Michael Steinbach, assistant director in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, told Congress that ISIS and other terrorist groups are using commercially available encryption technology to mask their activities, leading law enforcement surveillance to “go dark.”

As far as the FBI is concerned, private companies must “build technological solutions to prevent encryption above all else,” the Washington Post reports Steinbach as saying.

That’s a pretty sharp reverse ferret from the FBI, which four years ago was recommending encryption as a basic security measure. But Steinbach said evildoers are hiding behind US-made technology to mask their actions.

US lawmaker: Next, we stop the NSA from weakening encryption – Hot on the heels of President Barack Obama signing the Freedom Act into law Wednesday, a bipartisan congressional effort is now focusing their efforts on preventing the government from weakening encryption.

An amendment put forward by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY, 4th) to a recent appropriations bill passed by overwhelming majority of 383-43 late in the day Wednesday.

Massie, a strong advocate for privacy and civil liberties, explained on the phone Thursday that his eight-line amendment will prevent the NSA, which remains an encryption expert, from working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to weaken or compromise encryption.

Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, 19th) and Ted Poe (R-TX, 2nd) also threw their weight behind the amendment.

The NSA is still conducting mass surveillance of the US internet to find cyberattacks – The NSA is scanning US web traffic for specific malware signatures, according to new Snowden documents published by The New York Times and ProPublica. Previous documents have shown the NSA and GCHQ collecting data from undersea data cables, but this is the most comprehensive look at how the NSA uses that data to zero in on specific activities or actors on the web.

According to the new documents, the scanning is enabled by broad legal powers, granted by the Department of Justice and FISA court in 2012. An initial Justice Department order (interpreting Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act) authorized the NSA to target data based on specific IP addresses or threat signatures that were linked to foreign nations. In addition to its surveillance operations, the NSA is tasked with defending official US networks from digital intrusions, a task that’s grown increasingly difficult as states like China have grown more sophisticated.

But according to the documents, limiting the scans to foreign states was too restrictive for the NSA. Over the course of 2012, NSA director Keith Alexander lobbied the Justice Department to extend the signature-based scans to malware that hadn’t been linked to state actors, but his efforts were unsuccessful. Still, the agency  Specific malware programs are often reused, even between criminals and governments, so it’s notoriously difficult for researchers to connect a tactic to a specific actor.

Political deleted-tweet archive shuttered by Twitter over “privacy expectation” – The Politwoops website, which launched in 2012 to keep tabs on tweets deleted by known politicians, saw its feed dry up in the middle of May with no announcement. After Gawker reporter J.K. Trotter began investigating the story this week, he got the answer that Politwoops’ founders, the “government transparency” non-profit Sunlight Foundation, hadn’t: Twitter itself revoked the site’s access to Twitter’s API.

“We strongly support Sunlight’s mission of increasing transparency in politics and using civic tech and open data to hold government accountable to constituents,” a Twitter representative told Gawker on Wednesday, “but preserving deleted Tweets violates our developer agreement. Honoring the expectation of user privacy for all accounts is a priority for us, whether the user is anonymous or a member of Congress.”

The last major update to Twitter’s developer agreement came on May 18, three days after Politwoops’ access had been revoked. Twitter had announced changes to the agreement in April, and that announcement revolved largely around the company moving its non-American account data to Irish data centers.

U.K. State Surveillance Powers Challenged Under Human Rights Law – The U.K. government is facing a legal challenge to surveillance legislation that was rushed through parliament last year. At the time the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (now DRIPA) was criticized for granting the government overly broad and draconian powers to retain digital comms data — and for the lack of parliamentary time afforded for proper scrutiny. The bill was given cross-party support, becoming law within just three days after minimal public debate.

A case is being heard in the U.K. High Court today and tomorrow, brought by civil rights campaign group Liberty and two MPs: the Labour Party’s Tom Watson and the Conservative’s David Davis. They are challenging DRIPA on Human Rights grounds — referencing the rights to respect for private and family life, and of protection of personal data.

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