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.

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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:

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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 Skype.com or web.skype.com 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Security:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

Features:

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

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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

Import information from Excel in CSV format

Import information from QIF format (Microsoft Money & Quicken)

Exports

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

Printing

Printing of reports/accounts with inbuilt print preview.

Reporting

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.

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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.

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3 Comments

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

3 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 8, 2015

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: Feds can charge you with obstruction of justice for clearing your browser history

    Another perfect example of how a law can be introduced for a purpose and then be used for another. Clearing his browsing history ffs. The US government just loves locking people up over absolute rubbish don’t they?

    Cheers
    Mal

    • Hey Mal,

      Dead on mate.

      Extreme punishment has long been the order of the day in the U. S. “justice system.” Just this past week this so called justice system released a man from 42 years of solitary confinement. A disgusting perverted system that disproportionately punishes the weak and powerless.

      Had this been China that had done this, you can be sure the U.S. government would have gotten on it’s sanctimonious horse and broadcast suitable condemnation far and wide.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. Very nice n good post i really enjoyed to read this
    thanks to author.