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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The offending bottle.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup/Facebook screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

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

Security:

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–       H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Humour:

Q: How cold is it in Canada?

A: In Celsius:

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

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

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

0: water freezes; construction begins on backyard hockey rinks

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

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

-25: Manitobans do up the top button

-35: Ottawans think about digging out their mitts

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

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

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

Source: Favourite Canadian Jokes | WhyGo Canada Travel Guide

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

MyPermissions covers several platforms including:

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

LinkedIn

FourSquare

Instagram

Dropbox

and more!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

In a signing statement Friday, Jindal wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 22, 2015

  1. Larry

    Hi Bill,
    “Watch John Oliver Take on Internet Trolls on Last Week Tonight”
    above link is broke.
    Larry.