Monthly Archives: June 2015

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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – June 3, 2015

Tim Cook Delivers Blistering Speech On Encryption, Privacy;  16 cool things to try with the new Google Photos;  Is your PC overheating? Here’s how to tell;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week Were;  The Best IP Cameras for Home Surveillance;  Apple’s HomeKit is here;  Intel unveils ten new chips;  Windows 10 pricing: If you’re not upgrading, it’ll cost up to $199;  Ten tips to help Windows users transition to OS X;  New SOHO router security audit uncovers over 60 flaws in 22 models;  6 Features Disappearing in Windows 10 (and How to Replace Them);  Batteriser is a $2.50 gadget that extends disposable battery life by 800 percent;  Steam now offers video game refunds for ‘any reason’;  Pinterest Unveils Buyable Pins;  New exploit leaves most Macs vulnerable to permanent backdooring;  Supreme Court overturns Facebook threats conviction;  Remote Utilities Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Apple’s Tim Cook Delivers Blistering Speech On Encryption, Privacy – Yesterday evening, Apple CEO Tim Cook was honored for ‘corporate leadership’ during EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington. Cook spoke remotely to the assembled audience on guarding customer privacy, ensuring security and protecting their right to encryption. Cook lost no time in directing comments at companies (obviously, though not explicitly) like Facebook and Google, which rely on advertising to users based on the data they collect from them for a portion, if not a majority, of their income.

“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information,” said Cook. “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

“We don’t think you should ever have to trade it for a service you think is free but actually comes at a very high cost. This is especially true now that we’re storing data about our health, our finances and our homes on our devices,” Cook went on, getting even more explicit when talking about user privacy.

16 cool things to try with the new Google Photos – You’ve seen the first impressions. You’ve tried the app yourself. Now check out some of the awesome advanced features tucked inside the new Google Photos. If so, get ready: Google’s new image service packs some serious power. And if not — well, what are you waiting for? Beyond the basics, here are 16 awesome advanced features tucked inside the new Google Photos. Be warned: Some of these may blow your mind.

Is your PC overheating? Here’s how to tell – An overheated PC can reduce efficiency and wear down components. Here’s how to find out if yours is running too hot.

The Best IP Cameras for Home Surveillance – One of the biggest benefits of a connected home is being able to know what’s going on when you’re not actually there. Whether you’re checking in on your kids, pets, or an exotic jewel collection, a home surveillance camera is a great tool for keeping an eye on things from afar. As you can see in the list below, most of the home surveillance cameras on the market are roughly in the $200 range, but some of them also require an additional fee to store recorded video in the cloud. We break down any extra fees in our reviews, so it’s worth taking a look at each to find out which one fits your budget. Then again, you can’t really put a price on peace of mind.

Batteriser is a $2.50 gadget that extends disposable battery life by 800 percent – A completely new alkaline battery is rated to generate 1.5 volts, but once its output drops below 1.35 or even 1.4 volts, it effectively becomes useless to many devices. The battery’s chemical cocktail is still loaded with juice, but the circuitry in many gadgets (especially more sophisticated ones, like Bluetooth keyboards and bathroom scales) considers the battery dead. This is where Batteriser comes in. It’s essentially a voltage booster that sucks every last drop of useable energy from ostensibly spent batteries. So, instead of using just 20 percent of all the power hidden inside of your Duracells and Energizers, Batteriser makes effective use of the remaining 80 percent.


Pinterest Unveils Buyable Pins, A Way To Purchase Things Directly Within Pinterest – Pinterest unveiled what it’s calling “buyable pins” at an event at its headquarters in San Francisco today. Here’s how it works: Rich Pins — pins which have much more information than a normal link, such as the ingredients for a recipe — will get a new button that allows users to purchase things directly from partners that it’s working for. Users will see prices, be able to select specific types of a product (like the color), and then they can tap the button to buy the product. That item then arrives at the user’s door.

Imgur Introduces Native Ads On The Web And Overhauls Its Android App – There’s lots of news from Imgur, one of the internet’s most popular places for funny images and GIFs, today. The site has officially launched native advertising, and made significant changes to its Android app. Six-year-old Imgur, which was bootstrapped until it raised $40 million last year, is already profitable, but the company revealed last year that it planned to introduce ads to boost monetization.

Instagram Beefs Up Ads With App Install And Buy Buttons, Interest Targeting, API – Instagram is ready to make some serious money. After a year and half of format experiments and basic targeting, Instagram is giving advertisers much more powerful tools. Those include “Shop Now”, “Install Now”, and “Sign up” buttons, interest and demographic targeting, and an API for efficiently managing huge campaigns. Since their launch in October 2013, Instagram’s ads were best for big brands who just wanted you to remember them. Now they’ll work much better for direct marketers who want you to do or buy something.

Netflix is testing showing commercials before and after your videos – Though these ads are just a limited test, they do seem inevitable. At some point, Netflix will either need or desire a new revenue stream, and it’s most likely easier to rely on the sale of ads than the creation of highly desirable original content that’ll draw in new users. Not everything can be as big of a hit as Orange is the New Black or House of Cards. For now, if you’re one of the unlucky few to be in a test market, just use the time to hit the bathroom or to pop into the kitchen to dunk a spoon in the peanut butter jar.

Apple’s HomeKit is here: “Siri, turn on my lights” – Today Apple’s smart home ecosystem HomeKit launches with brands like Elgato, Insteon, Lutron, Ecobee, and iHome. Just ahead of the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2015), HomeKit has launched with partners bringing hardware to the market. It’s been nearly one year* to the day since Apple’s HomeKit system was first revealed at WWDC 2014, and here we’re seeing partners launching products aplenty, some that’ll be carried by Apple Stores, some that will launch independently in stores around the world. Soon you’ll be able to tell Siri to turn your lights on when you enter your home – soon!

Ten tips to help Windows users transition to OS X – The Mac platform now has more users than at any time in its long history — and more and more Windows veterans are making the switch. But moving from Windows to the Mac can be a bit of a challenge. In this article, we’ll offer some helpful tips that will make this transition a bit easier, and help your users get up and running on OS X in no time at all.

Firefox Integrates Pocket, Adds Distraction-Free Reader View – Mozilla’s Firefox now features a full integration with the Pocket read-it-later service for saving text and video. In addition, Reader View now offers users a distraction-free reading mode that’s similar to Apple’s Reader mode in Safari and the functionality of the popular Readability extension and bookmarklets.

Windows 10 pricing: If you’re not upgrading, it’ll cost up to $199 – After confirming the rumored July 29 release date for Windows 10, Microsoft has now confirmed the pricing for its new operating system. As previously announced, upgrades from Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 are free for the first year of availability. Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, and Windows 8/8.1 users will receive Windows 10 Home. Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Windows 8.1 Pro users will receive Windows 10 Pro. Enterprise users get nothing, because upgrading is usually taken care of as part of their license agreement anyway.

Windows 10 Home users may not be able to opt out of Automatic Updates – The language used in the upgrade details for those that qualify for the Windows 10 Home edition appear to suggest that users on that SKU will not be able to opt out of automatic updates.

Microsoft explains what you’ll lose by upgrading to Windows 10 – Microsoft announced today that it will be launching Windows 10 on July 29th, encouraging Windows 7 and 8.1 users to reserve their free upgrade with a notification in their task bar. However, while the company has been busy highlighting all the shiny new features in the upcoming OS, it’s been a bit quieter when it comes to spelling out the limitations — including making updates automatic for Windows 10 Home users.

6 Features Disappearing in Windows 10 (and How to Replace Them) – As noted by Paul Thurott, a number of old (some quite old) features will not make the jump to Windows 10. But that doesn’t mean you have to live without them when you upgrade! Here are some of the items Microsoft will be assassinating in Windows 10—and ways to work around them.

Two reasons your BlackBerry is about to get better in and out of the office – A pair of software updates for all BlackBerry 10 devices bring camera improvements, smarter notification management during meetings, and a new look to Blend.


New SOHO router security audit uncovers over 60 flaws in 22 models – In yet another testament of the awful state of home router security, a group of security researchers uncovered more than 60 vulnerabilities in 22 router models from different vendors, most of which were distributed by ISPs to customers. The flaws, most of which affect more than one router model, could allow attackers to bypass authentication on the devices; inject rogue code into their Web-based management interfaces; trick users into executing rogue actions on their routers when visiting compromised websites; read and write information on USB storage devices attached to the affected routers; reboot the devices, and more.

New exploit leaves most Macs vulnerable to permanent backdooring – The attack, according to a blog post published Friday by well-known OS X security researcher Pedro Vilaca, affects Macs shipped prior to the middle of 2014 that are allowed to go into sleep mode. He found a way to reflash a Mac’s BIOS using functionality contained in userland, which is the part of an operating system where installed applications and drivers are executed. By exploiting vulnerabilities such as those regularly found in Safari and other Web browsers, attackers can install malicious firmware that survives hard drive reformatting and reinstallation of the operating system.

Google wants to ‘put you in control’ of privacy and security with new My Account hub – Google’s says its new ‘My Account’ hub will make it easier for users to protect their data and put them in control, while a new information site will help them understand privacy and security issues.


SourceForge stops bundling ads into software without permission after GIMP fiasco – Code repository SourceForge said Monday it will stop including third-party offers without developers’ consent into projects that are no longer maintained, a practice it briefly tried but was widely criticized. The inclusion of third-party offers is a way for SourceForge to generate revenue, but not one that resonates with its community and its open-source software ethos. SourceForge, once a dominant site, has lost much ground to GitHub in recent years.

Company News:

Yahoo tries legal pirouettes in court, breaks neck – Yahoo, the once-mighty search-engine company, executed some remarkably graceless legal pirouettes as it tried to defend its invasive email scanning practices — scanning of emails not sent by Yahoo Mail customers who had signed off on the terms of service, but the emails of people who had sent email to Yahoo users. All to no avail. Last week (May 26), a federal judge approved a class-action lawsuit against Yahoo. But a review of the arguments that Yahoo tried in court is rather entertaining.

Disconnect.Me Files Antitrust Case Against Google In Europe Over Banned  – As the European Commission turns the heat up on Google over allegations that the company has abused its dominant market position in areas like search and mobile to create an anticompetitive environment for other online businesses, another small startup has joined the chorus of those crying foul. Disconnect Inc. — a B Corporation startup co-founded by ex-Googlers to build software to help Internet users block ads and other third-party services that tracks them or potentially releases malware — has filed an antitrust complaint against Google, claiming the Android giant is abusing its market position by banning Disconnect’s latest Android app, Disconnect Mobile, from the Google Play store.

Intel unveils ten new chips, focuses on graphics – On stage at Computex, Intel unveiled ten new processor models, divided equally between mobile and desktop classes. All of the new chips feature Iris graphics and focus on media performance.

AMD takes aim at the notebook market with new 12-core processors – Announced Wednesday at Computex, AMD’s latest A-Series processors will come in 3 flavors and are designed for serious online streaming and gaming. The 3 variants come packing discrete graphics cores in the form of a Radeon R6 or R7 for better visual performance, and the chips in range will have a total number of either 10 or 12 cores. This translates to a piece of silicon loaded with four x86 processing cores and either six or eight graphics processor unit (GPU) cores. Codenamed Carrizo, the processing cores use the new “Excavator” chips, which are designed for laptops, and pack either a six-core Radeon R6 on the A10-8700P and A8-8600P, or an eight-core Radeon R7 on the FX-8800P to handle graphics.

Intel buys out rival Altera for $16.7 billion – Intel, one of the largest chipmakers around, is buying one of its rivals, Altera. The latter was focused on specialized processors that are increasingly being used alongside traditional servers.

Uber hit with another harassment case in New Delhi – Another sexual harassment case involving Uber has surfaced in New Delhi, where a driver for the ridesharing service has been arrested for allegedly kissing a rider’s hand, then attempting to kiss her on the mouth, at which point she ran away. The driver who has been accused, Vinod Kumar, reportedly has been driving with Uber since May 4, and was arrested following a preliminary probe into the claims. According to an unnamed police official, the driver “is in police custody and” is being questioned about the matter.

Microsoft grabs another mobile app shop, confirms Wunderlist purchase – Microsoft today confirmed that it has acquired Wunderlist’s German developer, notching another small shop with a stable of mobile productivity apps. Rumors of the acquisition circulated Monday, prompted by a report in the Wall Street Journal that claimed a deal had been signed for between $100 million and $200 million. Microsoft and 6Wunderkinder GmbH, headquartered in Berlin, acknowledged the purchase today.

Games and Entertainment:

Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget – What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck? Let us be your guiding light. We’ve tested graphics cards of all shapes, sizes, and price points to nail down exactly what you can expect for your money—from itty-bitty $90 cards to fire-breathing $1000 models to behemoths with not one, but two graphics processors and custom watercooling loops. Graphics cards are expensive. Choosing one can be complicated. But it won’t be after reading this. Let’s dig in.

Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm thunders ahead of E3 – Ever wondered what would happen if Diablo and Tyrael ever clashed? Or if Illidan would be a match against Kerridan? These are the stuff that dreams and fanfiction are made of, but now you can actually make them reality, somewhat. Yes, Blizzard has finally fully unleashed Heroes of the Storm onto the masses, allowing players to finally pit iconic characters from Blizzards many and unrelated IPs against each other in a situation that would never happen otherwise in canon. All for the sweet low price of free.


Watch The Trailer For ‘Henry,’ The Second VR Movie From Oculus Story Studio – Oculus made waves earlier this year when it announced it would be developing its own original film content for consumption on its VR devices – now there’s a second movie coming out of the Oculus Story Studio, directed by Ramiro Lopez Dau, who had a hand in both Brave and Monsters University from Pixar. The thinking behind the short feature was to create essentially VR’s first truly hug-worthy character, according to the creators, and to build an experience that differentiates itself from epic sci-fi and more core gamer themes. Oculus is clearly looking to advertise some of its more mainstream appeal ahead of its consumer device launch next year.


Steam now offers video game refunds for ‘any reason’ – Valve’s online games platform Steam has added a refund policy. According to a newly published page, “you can request a refund for nearly any purchase on Steam — for any reason.” As long as a player has purchased the game within the past 14 days and played less than two hours, they can file a request through Steam’s support system. Valve will return the money within a week through the player’s payment method or, failing that, Steam Wallet.

I’d start playing World of Warcraft again if it looked like this – World of Warcraft’s Elwynn Forest got a massive upgrade from modder Daniel Luchau this week. Sadly, it’s not playable — just a short video showing off what the Unreal Engine 4 is capable of in the hands of a very creative individual with access to the right assets.


Get your caps ready, Fallout 4 is likely on the way – The long-awaited next release of the Fallout series appears to be on the way. A countdown indicates more information will be available tomorrow, and we’re guessing a demo will be shown at E3.

The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week Were – There are two new flicks that made it onto the most-pirated movies list this week: San Andreas Quake and Unfinished Business, starring Jhey Castles and Vince Vaughn, respectively. If you want to learn more about these movies, as well as the eight other films that were popular among pirates, check out the slideshow linked both above and below for more information.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Supreme Court overturns Facebook threats conviction – The Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man for making violent posts on Facebook in a case that tests the boundaries of free speech on the Internet. The conviction of Anthony D. Elonis was based on the idea that Facebook comments about his ex-wife, former co-workers, shooting up a school and harming law enforcement would make a reasonable person feel threatened. In a 7-2 ruling Monday, the court reversed his conviction, stating that the threats weren’t enough to convict.

US Army testing tiny new drones better suited to Batman – We’ve seen an increasing number of tiny drones meant for consumers hitting the market recently, but the PD-100 reportedly can also deliver a clear, real-time video feed and stay aloft for 25 minutes at a stretch. But most important for aspiring superheroes on the go, it also launches from a small box that hooks to a utility belt and stores all data sent from the drone, just in case it should fall into the hands of bad guys. The drone can be piloted with a one-handed video game-like controller or pilot itself to pre-selected points.


The PD-100 is a tiny spy. Prox Dynamics

8 Dumb Tech Predictions From Smart People – It’s a fact that even the smartest people on the planet say some pretty dumb things. Many times the dumb things they say seem smart at the time, but in the end, this is the Internet and nobody really gives a crap about context. So in that spirit, here’s a visual journey through some of the head-scratching words spoken by really smart people in technology and science.


Here’s the Perfectly Logical Reason Airplane Windows Have Holes – If you’re a fan of the window seat, you’ve probably noticed a small hole at the bottom of airplane windows — and wondered why on earth that tiny thing is there. As it turns out, the hole is called a breather hole or a bleed hole, and it serves an important safety function, according to a Slate column by pilot Mark Vanhoenacker.


Stuart Gleave—Getty Images

6.1B Smartphone Users Globally By 2020, Overtaking Basic Fixed Phone Subscriptions – By 2020, we will see a tipping point of sorts, when globally there will be 6.1 smartphone users, finally overtaking the number of fixed line subscriptions. The numbers come from the latest Mobility Report from Ericsson, annual research the telecoms company conducts using data from around 100 carriers globally. Those 6.1 billion smartphone users works out to some 70 percent of the worlds population using smartphones in five years’ time, a measure of just how central these devices are becoming to how we communicate and do much more.

Elon Musk would make the best tech president, says survey – Technically Incorrect: Which tech leader would you like to see as president? Respondents to a survey vote for President Musk.

Something to think about:

“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”

–     Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Remote Utilities Free – Unleash the full power of professional remote control software by installing Remote Utilities across your entire Windows network. Remote Utilities provides built-in tools for easy network deployment. You will be able to administer thousands of remote PCs in minutes.

Active Directory Authentication – Log into Remote Utilities using Active Directory accounts

Built-in MSI configuration tool – Pre-configure the Remote Utilities installer file before distributing it across the network

Built-in Remote Install tool – Use our remote deployment tool to install or upgrade Remote Utilities on all network PCs

No reinstallation after trial – Bulk register your PCs in a network with your license and you are done

Connect using a local IP address or DNS name – Direct connection to your network PCs

Lifetime license and software maintenance contract

Limitations: Free for business use on 10 remote PCs.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

President Obama signs bill curbing NSA powers into law – President Barack Obama has signed the USA Freedom Act bill into law, reinstating the Patriot Act’s controversial Section 215 but curbing some of the NSA’s broad surveillance powers.

The bill was passed by the Senate earlier today following a political standoff. Although the House passed the bill last month, the Senate only was able to pass it one day after the Patriot Act’s provisions expired, following a major debate where several proposed amendments to the Freedom Act were shot down.

The FBI made fake companies so it could fly spy planes over US cities – The FBI has used at least 13 shell companies to conceal a fleet of surveillance planes that recently flew over more than 30 cities in 11 states, according to an Associated Press investigation published today.

According to the AP’s report, the low-flying planes are equipped with video, and operate without a judge’s warrant — although the government says they’re for specific investigations. The AP traced the companies — with names like FVX Research and KQM Aviation — that were used to keep the fleet of at least 50 FBI planes under wraps. Many of the companies’ documents were signed by a “Robert Lindley,” but the government would not confirm to the AP whether that was a government employee.

In November, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the Justice Department had been equipping planes with so-called “dirtboxes,” machines that could scoop up data on cellphones below, which the AP confirms in its report. But the scope and limits of the project are still obscure.

What Those Mysterious FBI Planes Might Be Carrying – Following a Washington Post report last month into the mysterious aircraft circling over the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore, researchers have been finding more and more of these mysterious flights above cities across the US. The planes are mostly single-engine Cessna aircraft, all registered under obviously bogus companies with names like “NG Research,” “KQM Aviation,” and “OBD Leasing.” More than a dozen are registered to P.O. boxes in Bristow, Virginia, a small town with only 29,346 residents. One of the boxes is openly listed as belonging to the Department of Justice, the FBI’s parent agency.

A few months ago, this all sounded like some crackpot conspiracy theory. Now the FBI is acknowledging for the first time that not only is it behind the fake companies flying these planes, but that it usually does so without any judge’s approval, according to an AP report.

The Bureau says the planes are used to support specific ongoing investigations. It also bizarrely claims that its “aviation program is not secret” and that the planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.” Both of those claims are fairly dubious.

US airport screeners missed 95% of weapons, explosives in undercover tests – Transportation Security Administration screeners allowed banned weapons and mock explosives through airport security checkpoints 95 percent of the time, according to the agency’s own undercover testing.

ABC News reported the results on Monday, but Ars could not independently confirm them. According to ABC News, a Homeland Security Inspector General report showed that agents failed to detect weapons and explosives in 67 out of 70 undercover operations. The report said:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was apparently so frustrated by the findings he sought a detailed briefing on them last week at TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, according to sources. US officials insisted changes have already been made at airports to address vulnerabilities identified by the latest tests.

Faced with ban, tech giants stay silent over Russia censorship laws – Russia isn’t exactly the world’s favorite state at the moment.

In between stifling freedom of expression and jailing punk rockers, becoming a haven for homophobia and invading Crimea, it’s now cracking the whip on international companies doing business within its borders.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter face a ban in the country if they do not comply with Russia’s recently ratified media laws. Introduced by the Kremlin and passed into law last year, bloggers with more than a modest following must register with the government. Companies operating in the country must also store citizens’ data in the country to allow the government’s access.

The reason? So the Kremlin can demand that any data that calls for “unsanctioned protests and unrest” can be pulled off the country’s internet, according to Vadim Ampelonsky, a spokesperson for Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor, in a statement to Reuters.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 1, 2015

Hola VPN is selling users’ bandwidth as botnet;  Ten reasons to still consider a basic flip phone;  Alibi – Android app that records the last hour of your life;  7 steps for archiving your files for posterity;  4 essential Google Drive add-ons;  17 Tips to Help You Master Microsoft OneDrive;  The best email app for Android;  The best email app for the iPhone;  Five tips to speed up your Mac;  10 Luxury Father’s Day Gifts for Your Geeky Pop;  Apps to customize your Android smartphone;  Sleeper ransomware “Locker” rises from the dead;  56 Movies and Shows Coming to Netflix in June;  26 Movies and TV Shows Coming to Amazon Instant in June;  5 things you should know about cyber insurance;  Here’s how the Windows 10 reservation app works;  The Patriot Act’s broadest surveillance powers have expired.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

An app that passively records your life so you always have a witness – Alibi is an Android app that records the last hour of your life. So if you’re in a protest, police altercation, or even a dangerous personal situation, you can always have evidence. The ACLU recently developed an app called Mobile Justice, which allows you to record and report any instances of police brutality on the go. It’s been adopted in California, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Oregon. I’m Getting Arrested is an Android app that sends emergency messages to people in your phone. Stop and Frisk Watch is a free app developed by the New York Civil Liberties Union to report unlawful stop and frisk encounters. The SWAT App allows you to record and livestream police encounters, and also informs you of your rights. Similarly, platforms like Periscope and Meerkat allow you to livestream video to see the world in real-time through other people’s eyes.


7 steps for archiving your files for posterity – We really don’t know how long our photos and other digital content will last. But you can increase the odds that your great-grandchildren will enjoy the digital record of your life.

Google’s Project Vault is a security system disguised as a microSD card – The Vault card is essentially a secure computer that protects the personal information of a phone’s owner. For example, it can encrypt, or scramble, chat messages from an app and provide extra levels of authentication, so your device knows that you are you. The card itself has a near-field communication, or NFC, chip for communicating with nearby devices and has 4 gigabytes of storage. It can be recognized by any OS — including Google’s Android software, Windows, and Apple’s OS X — but all the software is being run off the microSD card.


4 essential Google Drive add-ons – Add-ons are a great way to give Google Drive’s productivity suite a little more horsepower. These four offer creative solutions for collaborating, automating document workflow, and mapping data and ideas. Give them a try, and push your productivity to new levels.

17 Tips to Help You Master Microsoft OneDrive – OneDrive really should be a bigger name than it is. But Microsoft isn’t as synonymous with cloud/sync as Dropbox or Google Drive. The latter has the excellent integration of Docs and Sheets for online editing, but OneDrive has something arguably better: full integration with Office Online (formerly Office Web Apps; see what I mean about renaming?). Office Online houses the online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Plus, OneDrive is integrated directly with Windows 8.1—no utility needed. All it takes to access OneDrive is a Microsoft account. The service will sync files between all your Windows and Mac computers, which you can access online via mobile apps and the Web.

Try the Microsoft Hyperlapse beta on Android – Microsoft has released a new app for Android devices that will let you turn any video into a smooth hyperlapse. If you’re interested in creating super-smooth hyperlapse videos on your Android phone, then you’ll want to check out this latest app from Microsoft. But first, you’ll need to perform a bit of setup.


The best email app for Android – If we all have one thing in common, it’s that we hate dealing with email. Whether it’s personal or professional, it’s something we just can’t escape. The best way to deal with email is still at the desktop, but mobile apps are catching up fast. So which ones can help you get the closest to inbox zero nirvana?

The best email app for the iPhone – More than anything, a good email app should be fast. Refreshing your inbox, loading messages — none of these things should take more than a second or two. It should also give you plenty of different ways to deal with the daily email deluge. That means letting you do things like reply, archive, delete, or schedule messages with swipes or taps, while also giving you easy access to other services like calendars and files.

Apps to customize your Android smartphone – Your smartphone doesn’t have to just be functional — there are many apps which can customize your gadget to your satisfaction in a matter of clicks.


Themer is an Android launcher — a kind of skin for your device which allows you to install custom themes.

Ten reasons to still consider a basic flip phone in today’s smartphone world – Summary:Most phones sold by carriers are smartphones, but there are still many reasons that a basic flip phone is still a valid option for many people.

Windows 7 and 8 users are now able to reserve their free copy of Windows 10 – Microsoft has started advertising Windows 10 to Windows 7 and 8 users with a popup that allows the user to reserve their copy of Windows 10 by following the instructions in the prompt.


Here’s how the Windows 10 reservation app works and how to remove it – Microsoft has officially opened up the reservation process for Windows 10 and when the window pops up, here are the steps you will need to complete to reserve your copy of the OS.

Windows 10 OEM pre-orders show up on Newegg, $109 for Home and $149 for Pro – We are quickly approaching the time when Microsoft will have to formally announce the release date and pricing for Windows 10 but Newegg has already opened up pre-orders for the software.

Fedora 22 walk through: The first major Linux distro with GNOME 3.16 – Fedora 22 ships with version 4.0 of the Linux kernel and GNOME 3.16, and Workstation, Server, and Cloud builds. Here’s a first look at the release.


How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide – The world of Linux is ready to welcome you, with a shower of free open-source software you can use on any PC: hundreds of active Linux distributions, and dozens of different desktop environments you could run on them. It’s a far cry from the one-size-fits-all, this-is-just-what-comes-with-your-PC vision of Windows. Everything from software installation to hardware drivers works differently on Linux, though, which can be daunting. Take heart—you don’t even need to install Linux on your PC to get started. Here’s everything you need to know.

Facebook now supports animated GIFs in the Timeline – Facebook users will finally be able to post animated GIFs to their timeline albeit using third-party hosts, as the company has finally enabled the support for these files.

Five tips to speed up your Mac – The only place I like seeing a beach ball is at a beach or in a stadium during a baseball game or concert. The one place I least like to see a beach ball is on my aging MacBook Pro, where the spinning beach ball has become an altogether too familiar a sight. If your Mac has become frustratingly slow, there are a number of ways you can speed it up again. Before you engage in any maintenance, I would urge you to take caution and back up your data.

Amazon’s ‘Kindle for Kids Bundle’ comes just in time for summer – School’s out for summer, which means that children will have a lot more free time, and their parents are going to have to find ways to entertain them. Amazon wants to be your solution to summertime as it introduces the “Kindle for Kids Bundle”. Perfect for rainy days and long car trips, the package includes the latest Kindle, kid-friendly case, and 2 year warranty for $99.00. If purchased separately, parents would be spending about $40 more.

10 Luxury Father’s Day Gifts for Your Geeky Pop – Father’s Day doesn’t get the pomp and circumstance of that other day. And that’s fine. Dads don’t need much. Just a little somethin’-somethin’ to know that their work is appreciated. BUT if you really wanted to, I’m sure that your dad wouldn’t mind if you splurged just a bit. Or, perhaps—if you were so inclined—you could even splurge a whole bunch!


Hola VPN is selling users’ bandwidth as botnet – Free virtual private network (VPN) service Hola, available as a popular Chrome extension, is well-known among users who frequently like to watch videos and TV shows from other countries that location blocked. Sadly, it has just been discovered that owners of the service have actually been selling users’ bandwidth as botnet, or bulk traffic that can be purchased and used in a denial-of-service attack on a website. Hola claims this has always been clear in their terms of service, but users say they have never been made aware of this bandwidth usage.


Sleeper ransomware “Locker” rises from the dead, infects hundreds of PCs – A dormant ransomware similar to Cryptolocker has recently been activated. Dubbed “Locker,” the program encrypts computer files, and asks the victim for 0.1 bitcoin in exchange for the decryption key.


Google wants to make your life the password – Our digital lives are punctuated by an increasing number of PINs, fingerprint scans, and other security hurdles, but an Android project could end all that. The Google ATAP team has been working on a new authentication system, publicly revealed at I/O 2015 this week for the first time, which bypasses explicit codes and biometrics, and instead uses ongoing user-recognition to figure out who you are simply by how you use your phone.

US says it will help Japan defend against cyberattacks – The US government this week announced that it will expand its cybersecurity partnership with Japan, amid growing concerns over potential attacks against military bases and other infrastructure on the island nation. As Reuters reports, both countries are looking to strengthen their ties to counter threats from China and North Korea. A partnership established in 2013 will integrate the missile defense systems of the US and Japan, while giving Japan a greater security role in the region.

The US tried to sabotage North Korea’s nuclear program with targeted malware – In 2010, the United States launched a covert malware campaign aimed at sabotaging North Korea’s nuclear program, according to a new report from Reuters’ Joseph Menn, citing multiple sources familiar with the campaign. The campaign was ultimately unable to breach North Korean systems, but would have been activated when it detected Korean language settings on an appropriately structured industrial system. The program came on the heels of the Stuxnet campaign against Iran that met with much greater success.

China developing ATM with face recognition – A prototype facial recognition technology has been developed by Beijing’s Tsinghua University and Hangzhou-based security company Tzekwan Technology in an aim to help reduce crimes committed using ATMs.

Company News:

Microsoft and Google rise while IBM sinks in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for cloud providers – Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) shows Amazon dominant, Microsoft and Google making progress, and IBM’s service – based on its purchase of SoftLayer – in relative decline…

Amid talk of an initial public offering, SnapChat raises $537.6 million – Already flush, Snapchat just got more cash. After raising $200 million in March, the photo-messaging app has raised an additional $537.6 million, according to government documents released on Friday. Those securities filings suggest that Snapchat might pull in another $112.3 million in funding, bringing its total for this year alone to $850 million. CNBC reported that the latest funding values the company at a whopping $16 billion.

With Android Pay on the way, Google Wallet pivots to focus on personal money transfers – Now in the shadow of Android Pay, Google is rebuilding Wallet’s mobile apps to target the new direction.

Qualcomm partners with Google on Tango phone – While both units remain “developer units”, Google has announced that Project Tango is prepared now as a tablet for the public and as a phone with Qualcomm inside. The Project Tango Developer Kit tablet will be available from the Google Store as early as this afternoon to all buyers. It’ll have the same price as it did for developers most recently (reduced from the original, of course), for a cool $512 USD. This kit will use an NVIDIA K1 processor inside while another phone-sized device is currently in development. This phone-sized device will have Qualcomm’s processor technology running the show.


Google and Levi’s team on Jacquard touch-sensitive clothes – Google’s ATAP team promised to blow our socks off at I/O 2015, and Project Jacquard is how it plans to do that, a new conductive fabric that can track touch. Intended to bring new types of sensing and control to clothes, furnishings, and other areas which might not normally be electronically connected. And, while we’ve seen conductive threads woven through materials before, Project Jacquard goes further than most, including a partnership with one of the biggest names in fashion.

Games and Entertainment:

56 Movies and Shows Coming to Netflix in June – You should be outside enjoying the sun and sand but if you’re surfing your TV instead, here’s what to watch.

26 Movies and TV Shows Coming to Amazon Instant in June – Netflix might be sucking up most of the Internet’s peak traffic, but Amazon Prime Instant video has a nice little collection of movies and TV shows, too. Here are some of the selections arriving in June for your streaming pleasure.

Build a performance gaming PC for $620 – When it comes to gaming PCs, it’s not a case of how fast you want your PC to be, but how fast you want to spend money. Last week I looked at big bucks ways to supercharge your gaming PC. But what if you don’t have thousands of dollars laying about the place? Can you still build a killer gaming PC on a tight budget? Sure you can!


New Need for Speed game will require constant online connection – Now that it has been revealed that a new entry in the Need for Speed game series is coming this year and will act as a “reboot” of the franchise, players have been wondering what they can expect this time around. Publisher EA has recently taken to answering some questions on Twitter, and yesterday stated in one reply that the game will require and internet connection at all time to be played. This sort of thing may sound familiar, as it was a controversial part of Microsoft’s initial announcement of the Xbox One console.

Now more than ever, the Internet belongs to cord-cutters – When I started using the Internet in the 80s it was all text. Then, along came the Web in 1993 and we got images. Oh boy! Today, as Mary Meeker, a partner at venture firm KIeiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), reported in her annual Internet trends report, 64 percent of all consumer Internet traffic is video. Sandvine, a broadband solution provider and analysis firm, has found that video takes up even more than that in the Internet’s peak hours.


Android TV to bolster its app selection with Twitch, HBO Now, and more – As more people cut the cord and turn to streaming services to replace conventional cable networks, the competition between TV service platforms continues to heat up. Android TV, which is a newcomer on the market compared to seniors like Roku, has some things in the works to bring its service to the next level. Google announced at its I/O conference that new apps, including high-profile selections like HBO Now, are going to be coming to Android TV.

Valve accidentally tips Steam Summer Sale start date on Russia’s Facebook equivalent – The Steam Summer Sale will kick off June 11 and last through June 20, assuming a post on Russian social media is correct. It’s sort of a large assumption to make, but the post in question did originate from Valve’s official VKontakte page (Russian Facebook) so this rumor—originally spotted by IGN Russia—does have some credence to it. If true, it means the Steam Summer Sale is revving up quite a bit earlier than normal this time around.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Solar Impulse 2 begins world’s longest flight: Six days, five nights non-stop – Solar Impulse 2, which is attempting the world’s first solar-powered circumnavigation of Earth, has begun the longest leg of its journey: a single, non-stop flight of about 5078 miles (8172km) from China to Hawaii. The plane, and pilot André Borschberg, will be aloft for six days and five nights, with Borschberg attempting to stay awake for much of that time. The solar-powered aircraft, which has a larger wingspan than a 747, began its round-the-world trip in March. It departed from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, headed down the Persian Gulf to Oman, hopped over to India, then Myanmar, and finally into Nanjing in China at the end of April. You can watch the current flight live on the Solar Impulse website. (The website is pretty cool; you should check it out.)


Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace – The New Yorker, in a review of research on this nouveau workplace design, determined that the benefits in building camaraderie simply mask the negative effects on work performance. While employees feel like they’re part of a laid-back, innovative enterprise, the environment ultimately damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.  Furthermore, a sense of privacy boosts job performance, while the opposite can cause feelings of helplessness. In addition to the distractions, my colleagues and I have been more vulnerable to illness. Last flu season took down a succession of my co-workers like dominoes.

Awair monitors your home or office’s air quality – Your home’s air quality might be suffering thanks to the traffic or businesses around you, but you might not realize it. Many of the problems in the air can’t be detected without help until they reach fairly serious levels, and so to prevent them from reaching that point we turn to air monitoring technologies. Fortunately, those technologies have become relatively inexpensive over the years and as such have found their way into homes. Awair is the latest example of this, serving as a stereo-like device (it looks like a stereo, is all) that keep tabs on nasties in the air.


5 things you should know about cyber insurance – As more companies step in to offer insurance coverage against a broad range of cyber losses, we break down five points that organizations should keep in mind as they consider their options.

Something to think about:

“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists of not exceeding the limit.”

–     Elbert Hubbard

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wise Force Deleter 1.01.17 Beta – Wise Force Deleter is a safe and easy to use file unlocker & deleter that will allow you to delete any file that Windows can’t delete.

In Windows, when you try to delete a file, you might see notices or errors like this:

Cannot delete file: Access is denied.

There has been a sharing violation.

The source or destination file may be in use.

The file is in use by another program or user.

Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use.

Wise Force Deleter is designed to fix all the issues above by terminating the processes using the file or removing file-access restrictions that prevent you from deleting a file. With Wise Force Deleter, you can unlock and delete any file without frustration in Windows.

Wise Force Deleter allows you to access it via a context menu. Right after installing it, a new option named “Force Delete” will appear in the context menu. To unlock&delete a locked file, you just need to right click it, select ‘Force Delete’, Wise Force Deleter will be launched. Then you can unlock and delete the file from your Windows system immediately, which is real convenient.

Like all other WiseCleaner products, The interface of Wise Force Deleter is very intuitive. Even a first timer can get the hang of it in seconds. Better yet, it also supports drag and drop, making file-deletion super easy for you.


Copy Handler 1.40 Beta – Copy Handler is a free, open source tool for Microsoft Windows that allows you to manage different copy/move operations for files and folders. You can use it on your own hard drive partition, other storage media (external hard drives, CD/DVD units, flash drives etc.).


full-control over the copy/move process (you can use pause,resume,cancel,restart buttons)

huge amount of options (task queuing, file filters, shutdown after finishing copy process, auto resume, logging, different shell options, adjust buffer size on multiple levels for CD-ROM/HDD/network and so on).

one of the most customizable application from this area: the options section has over 60 detailed areas that can be customized for your needs.

observe detailed information regarding the entire copy/move operation such as: estimated time left, progress, speed etc.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Patriot Act’s broadest surveillance powers have expired – Central portions of the Patriot Act are set to expire at midnight tonight, after a late-night Senate vote failed to extend the provisions. Those portions include Section 215, which applies to business records requests and has been used to justify the bulk collection of American phone and internet records.

Tonight’s session was a second chance for the Senate, after the chamber failed to pass the USA Freedom Act last Friday, putting portions of the legal basis for US surveillance in jeopardy. The Freedom Act passed cloture with 77 votes, and is likely to pass through the Senate later this week, but an ongoing filibuster from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) meant the Senate was unable to pass the bill before the scheduled sunset of Patriot Act powers. Senator Paul has garnered significant publicity for his efforts in delaying the vote, including a remarkable and bizarre PAC ad which appeared to cheer on the filibuster on Friday.

Proposed rule change to expand feds’ legal hacking powers moves forward – A controversial proposed judicial rule change allowing judges to issue warrants to conduct “remote access” against a target computer regardless of its location has been approved by a United States Courts committee, according to the Department of Justice.

Federal agents have been known to use such tactics in past and ongoing cases: a Colorado federal magistrate judge approved sending malware to a suspect’s known e-mail address in 2012. But similar techniques have been rejected by other judges on Fourth Amendment grounds. If this rule revision were to be approved, it would standardize and expand federal agents’ ability to surveil a suspect and to exfiltrate data from a target computer regardless of where it is. (Both the United States Army and the Drug Enforcement Administration are known to have purchased such exploits, most likely zero-days.)

In the United States, federal warrants are issued by judges who serve one of the 94 federal judicial districts and are typically only valid for that particular jurisdiction. Typically those warrants are limited to the district in which they are issued.

Push For Greater State Surveillance Powers Could Have Chilling Effect On U.K. Tech Sector – The U.K. government is lining up a new piece of legislation to expand the state’s digital data capture powers. The incoming bill, the Investigatory Powers Bill, was announced in the Queen’s speech this week. It has not yet been published in draft form so specific details of what is being planned remains unclear, but in recent times the Conservative party has been banging the drum to expand the type and volume of captured comms data. The U.K. Prime Minister has even appeared to suggest that strong encryption should be outlawed.

The Telegraph newspaper this week suggested new powers to be outlined in the Bill will require companies like Google and Facebook to give U.K. intelligence agencies access to the encrypted conversations of suspected terrorists and criminals. That scenario presupposes Internet companies have the ability to access their users’ encrypted messages.

Florida public schools to spy on students’ social media, report says – The more things that technology can do, the more it leaves open the possibility of further good and further not so good being perpetrated.

Please decide, therefore, whether you think it’s good that a school district buys itself software to monitor the social media activity of its students.

This is what the Orange County Public Schools District has chosen to do. As Click Orlando reports, the district announced on Thursday that it has signed up with a service called Snaptrends, which bills itself as “Pioneering Location-Based Social Media Discovery.” It promises to “quickly identify actionable insights.”

One person’s actionable could be another’s reprehensible.


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