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.
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.
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.
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.
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.