Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 1, 2015

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go?  Australian government bans hundreds of mobile and Web-based games;  How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online This Summer;  Panic Button for Chrome hides your online shenanigans;  VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign;   What to do when your email address sends spam;  Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say;  Rooomy Lets You Decorate Your Room in 3D;  Apple gets around to fixing those 77 security holes in OS X Yosemite;  5 apps to help you save water;  Facebook Messenger’s money feature arrives for all US users;  Pretty Much Everybody Is Binge-watching TV;  Microsoft launches Minecraft in Education;  Net neutrality becomes law in the EU and roaming charges get banned;  Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search;  Report: Surveillance programs may cost US tech over $35 billion and its competitive edge;  Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online This Summer – For kids, summertime is a brief window of freedom they yearn for all school year long. Parents, meanwhile, look at it a little differently. Sure, pool parties, camping trips and sleepovers are full of laughter and fun, but they also provide parents with lots to worry about. But that’s just offline — the Internet, where parents have even less of a view into their children’s activity, can be a troublesome hotspot in the warm school-less months. These five tips can help keep your children safe online in the summertime, even though they really ought to be outside playing anyway.

Pointing up    Be a security warrior – pass on these tips to friends and family with children.

What to do when your email address sends spam – Spam is going out in your name to everyone you know. A few precautions can keep this from happening again.

Panic Button for Chrome hides your online shenanigans – “Quick! The boss is coming shut down that MLB stream!” Too late, you’re caught. Lucky for you, the boss pulled up a chair to watch the game too, but you can’t always count on near misses to get you through your slack-off time at work. That’s why it’s good to know about a great little tool available in the Chrome Web Store called Panic Button from the VPN specialists at HideMyAss. With this handy little extension, all you do is click the red icon and your browser tabs disappear.

Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say – What works—and what doesn’t – Apple Music, the company’s new music streaming service, launches Tuesday. Here are some of the reviews we’ve seen so far:

9 things you should try first with Apple Music (pictures) – Apple Music has arrived — here are some things you should try first.

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How to Stop Apple Music From Automatically Billing You – The first three months are free, but it defaults to auto-renew. But if you end up ditching the service after the trial ends, you should make sure you’re not billed $9.99 under Apple Music’s default automatic renewal. (Remember: anyone with an Apple ID had to link up a valid credit card or other payment option.) Here’s how to make sure you don’t accidentally cost yourself some cash, as WIRED points out:

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go? – So modest are the requirements for Windows 10, you may be able to run it on machines that shipped with Windows Vista eight years ago. But just how low can Windows 10 go when it comes to PC specs? Since Microsoft released the OS for testing last year people have been loading Windows 10 onto hardware dating back to 2003 – eons ago on the PC refresh timescale. Here are the low-end and long-in-the-tooth machines that proved capable of running Windows 10.

How to turn your Windows 10 upgrade files into an ISO disk image – One question I’ve been asked more than any other in recent weeks is whether Microsoft will release Windows 10 in ISO format. No one outside Redmond knows yet, but in the meantime there’s an option: Make your own ISO files. Here’s how. [Updated with product keys for Preview builds 10158 and 10159]

Facebook Is Keeping Closer Tabs on the Videos You Watch – Facebook is always monitoring what you do — and every like, comment, and share is used to help determine the content that shows up in your News Feed. But Zuckerberg and Co. are taking things a step further with their latest update. Now, you don’t even need to like or share a video to signal to the social network that you enjoy this type of content. The company on Monday announced it will begin taking into account more subtle cues — whether you turn up the volume on a video or make it full screen, for instance — to help determine what to show you in News Feed.

Facebook Messenger’s money feature arrives for all US users – We’ve previously detailed Facebook Messenger’s new feature for sending money to friends, but in case you missed it, the feature works as such: you fire up Messenger and find the friend you want to send money to. Tap the “$” icon, enter an amount, and send it away. The person on the receiving end can then accept it and the money will be sent to their bank account. It’s a convenient feature, one that is now available to all US users.

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5 apps to help you save water – According to the US Drought Monitor, 94.6 percent of California is currently facing severe to exceptional drought. Even if you happen to live in a state or country that’s blessed with abundant rainfall, it’s never too early to start conserving water. If you’re not sure where to start, I have good news for you — there are several apps that can help you learn about water conservation, track your water usage, and take steps to cut back on usage.

Gmail’s latest update will add wallpapers and emoji – Dozens of apps are bringing innovation to email, including Google’s Inbox. Meanwhile, Gmail is getting more… wallpapers. Google announced today that Gmail’s latest update will add hundreds of themes and give users new ways to customize them with blur, vignettes, and custom text. The update will also expand Gmail’s weird emoji library, and should roll out in the next couple of days. All we can say is, there better be a taco emoji.

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PayPal tweaks robocall policy again, won’t cold call you with advertising – PayPal has been tinkering with things ever since it was announced that the company would finally split from eBay. The first update that they put together gave both the company and its partners permission to cold call for just about any reason they wanted to. Users were opted in by default, and it looked as though there wasn’t going to be any way for you to opt out. PayPal users weren’t too keen on the change, and it’s not the kind of thing the FCC looks kindly upon. In fact, the Commission was getting ready to put new consumer protections in place. Just two days after the robocall update was spotted, PayPal announced they were backing off. Users would indeed be given the chance to opt out.

Rooomy Lets You Decorate Your Room in 3D – Launching today, Rooomy is an iPad app which lets you turn 2D images of a room into a 3D space. You can also decorate these 3D rooms with over 500 pieces of virtual 3D furniture from popular brands like Design Within Reach and All Modern. Built by Loft-NedSense, a European company listed on the NYSE Euronext, the app is mainly designed to be as a virtual staging solution for the real estate industry. Here is how the service works: Real estate brokers upload photos of rooms for a flat fee of $20 per property. After using in a built-in tool to identify where the walls in the room are, it is turned into a 3D model. Potential buyers can then browse homes for sale within the app, and explore the furnished rooms before scheduling a showing.

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YouTube Brings 60fps Video Streams To Its Android And iOS Apps – Over the last few months, Google’s YouTube launched both 60fps video on the desktop and — later — for live video streams. Starting today, you can also watch the service’s smooth 60fps videos in its iOS and Android apps. Given that these video streams were already available on YouTube’s other main platforms, it was only a matter of time before Google brought this feature to mobile, too. According to a YouTube spokesperson”, 60fps YouTube is now available on the desktop, Apple TV and the PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles.

AppleCare will replace your battery once it drops to 80% of its capacity – Apple will now replace any battery covered by AppleCare+ once it drops below 80 percent of its original capacity, as outlined in refreshed AppleCare+ documents spotted by MacRumors late last week and reported on other sites today. Previously, a battery had to drop to 50 percent of its original capacity to be eligible for replacement under AppleCare+, limiting its helpfulness to all but the heaviest users and those with defective batteries. Macs covered by the standard AppleCare agreement can also have their batteries replaced if they drop below 80 percent of their original capacity, as outlined in a footnote here. AppleCare+ can be added to an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch at purchase or within 60 days of the purchase date.

Security:

VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign – A team of five researchers from universities in London and Rome have identified that 14 of the top commercial virtual private networks in the world leak IP data. “Despite being a known issue, our experimental study reveals that the majority of VPN services suffer from IPv6 traffic leakage,” the authors wrote in the paper A Glance through the VPN Looking Glass: IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijacking in Commercial VPN clients [PDF]. “Our findings confirm the criticality of the current situation: many of these [14] providers leak all, or a critical part of the user traffic in mildly adversarial environments.

Pointing up   For privacy – think Tor Browser Bundle.

Vulnerability In Security Service Lifelock Could Have Exposed Logins And Passwords – A vulnerability discovered by security researchers Eric Taylor and Blake Welsh could turn an innocuous “refer-a-friend” page into an official-looking phishing page. By adding encoded HTML to the end of a basic URL, Taylor and his partner were able to simulate a Lifelock login page that could potentially grab usernames and passwords from unsuspecting users. Lifelock closed the vulnerability, which is called a cross-site scripting attack, after Taylor notified the company. Lifelock has over 3 million customers with revenue of $369.65 million. As of 2010 Lifelock’s CEO Todd Davis has been targeted for identity theft over a dozen times.

Apple gets around to fixing those 77 security holes in OS X Yosemite – The Yosemite 10.10.4 update includes fixes for QuickTime, OpenSSL and ImageIO, along with remote code execution flaws and other exploits that could allow an attacker to obtain elevated privileges or crash applications. The Safari update includes fixes for four vulnerabilities in the WebKit browser engine. An attacker could target the flaws to remotely execute code, steal account information, view WebSQL databases and lift cookie information from a targeted Mac. Users running Yosemite should update their system software to install the security fixes as soon as possible. Those running older versions of OS X can get some of the updates by installing patches for Safari 6, 7 and 8.

Medium replaces passwords with secure email links – Medium, the stylish blogging platform/social writing network, has just announced a big change in the way users sign in to the service. Here’s how it works if you’re not familiar with that process: If you go to Medium and want to sign in, you’ll click a login button and type your email address. Check for a new message from Medium which contains a link that, when click, will take you to your account. That’s it. The links can only be used once, and will expire after 15 minutes.

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Australia’s online bullying monitor starts Wednesday – Children will be able to lodge complaints to e-Safety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon from July 1 to seek to have alleged bullying content pulled down from Facebook and Twitter.

Company News:

Cisco to buy cybersecurity firm OpenDNS in $635m deal – Cisco has announced its intention to purchase threat protection security firm OpenDNS in a deal worth $635 million. Announced on Tuesday, the tech giant said the move will accelerate the development of the Cisco Cloud Delivered Security Portfolio, and OpenDNS will prove a boost to advanced threat protection services for Cisco clients. In addition, the OpenDNS cloud delivered platform will give Cisco better visibility and more insight into the threat landscape. Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will play $635 million in cash and equity awards, as well as “retention-based incentives” for OpenDNS.

Amazon Launches Full Retail Operations In Mexico – Amazon today formally announced its expansion into physical goods sales in Mexico. The company had previously only offered Kindle e-books on its online site which opened for Mexican customers in 2013. Today on Amazon.com.mx, Amazon will introduce a Spanish-language site featuring millions of items including consumer electronics, kitchen and home items, sports equipment, tools, baby, health and personal care products, jewelry, music, books, movies, software and more. The company is also launching its online selling service for Mexican businesses and sellers as well as its Fulfillment by Amazon service.

Uber France executives to go on trial over UberPop – Uber France and two company executives will go on trial in September, French prosecutors announced today, on charges related to its UberPop service. Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s general manager for Western Europe, and Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal were taken into police custody yesterday in Paris, a few days after French taxi unions staged a nationwide strike in protest against UberPop. As AFP reports, the executives and Uber France have been charged with misleading business practices, complicity in operating an illegal taxi service, and illegal treatment of personal data. They will go before a correctional court on September 30th.

Uber Stages Protest At NYC City Hall Against Bill Throttling New Driver Signups – Today Uber staged a protest outside of New York City Hall, where inside members of the City Council Transportation Committee were introducing a bill that would require the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to limit the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses. The law would mean Uber could only add about 200 new drivers to the service in New York over the next year. More specifically, transportation companies would be limited to adding new drivers at a rate that amounts to one percent of the number of drivers are currently on each company’s platform in NYC. This cap would severely limit the growth of transportation companies in NYC, and would be a big win for the taxi industry.

Facebook eyeing next billion users with upcoming Africa office – Facebook is eyeing the future and as such will be launching its first office in Africa, it has been announced. The office will be in a Johannesburg suburb and will be run by Nunu Ntshingila. So far Facebook has about 120 million users in Africa, a small number compared to the more than a billion people who call it home. The social network’s Internet.org and Facebook Lite will play a part in getting users on board.

VMware Agrees To Pay $75.5M To Settle Illegal Pricing Allegations – In a significant settlement that could embolden American employees who witness company misconduct, VMware and government contractor Carahsoft Technology Corporation agreed to pay the $75.5 million today to settle illegal pricing allegations. The Department of Justice accused the companies of violating the Fair Claims Act and overcharging the government, in a case brought in conjunction with a former VMware executive. VMware steadfastly denied any wrong-doing in the case.

Google asks for, and gets, extra time to respond to European antitrust charges – The company had asked for extra time to examine documents provided by the Commission, which has now given it until Aug. 17 to defend itself against charges that it systematically favored its own comparison shopping product over those of competitors. Most Commission staff will be on vacation that month, although someone will be available to receive Google’s response and “the right for Google to be heard will be fully respected,” a Commission official said.

Games and Entertainment:

Australian government bans hundreds of mobile and Web-based games – By now, we’re accustomed to platform holders like Apple refusing to carry games and apps with questionable content on their digital storefronts. We’re less accustomed to national governments stepping in to decide what apps can and can’t be downloaded within their borders. That’s just what Australia is set to do tomorrow, though, as a new pilot program will ban hundreds of mobile titles that have been “refused classification” in the country on platforms like Google Play. Starting July 1, those titles will be effectively banned in Australia, according to an ABC report.

First trailer for Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden movie is all drama – Technically Incorrect: Teasing the new movie “Snowden” with a trailer is no easy task. So the producers merely whet your appetite. The first trailer was released on Tuesday and the drama drips from it.

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Pretty Much Everybody Is Binge-watching TV – A survey released on Tuesday by TiVo finds that 9 out of 10 people are engaging in “binge viewing,” which the digital video recording company defines as watching more than three episodes of a particular TV show in one day. According to TiVo, 92% of respondents to the company’s latest Binge Viewing Survey said they have engaged in the act of television gluttony at some point.

King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember arrives next month – As we’d first talked about in late summer last year, Sierra Entertainment has been revived and its first order of business was bringing back King’s Quest, a title that debuted earlier this year. Now the second installment of the title is upon us, and it is called King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember. This will be the second installment of what will eventually be a five-part series, and it has been announced that it will arrive on July 28.

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Microsoft launches Minecraft in Education for creating dynamic classroom experiences – Microsoft is already using its Minecraft acquisition to the fullest with the HoloLens and now the company has introduced a new program to bring dynamic experiences in the field of education. With this program, Microsoft has collaborated with various schools to introduce students to “Minecraft.” Using the Minecraft in Education forums, teachers can discuss and share their ways of using the game to teach students about various subjects.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Apple Music Is For People With No Clue What To Stream – You’re no DJ. That’s the biggest problem with streaming services. A search box connected to the history of recorded music can be discouraging. You constantly have to know what to play next. That’s why Apple was so smart to make Apple Music all about telling you what to play next. Apple is the king of making complicated technology accessible to the masses. It turned clunky MP3 players into the iPod. It made smartphones understandable with the iPhone. Today it’s done it again with Apple Music by burying search behind a half-dozen ways to find music recommendations.

Science Says People Will Believe in Evolution If They Actually Think About It – University of Kentucky professor and self-proclaimed wine connoisseur Will M. Gervais recently published a research study in Cognition where he tried to get to the bottom of why so many people don’t believe in evolution even after the pope said he was cool with it. As it turns out the folks who don’t believe in evolution are just not really thinking hard enough about it. Gervais’s study claims that the difference stems from two kinds of thinking: people who are prone to think intuitively and rely on immediate gut reactions are more likely to reject evolution. But those of us who “engage in analytical thinking”—a more deliberate, calculated form of cognition—are better able to override our initial intuitive response and understand the facts behind evolution.

Habitat for robo-humanity: robot can build a home in two days – A company out of Perth, Australia has built a robot they claim can build a house in two days. Mark Pivac is the man behind this piece of machinery and founder of Fastbrick Robotics. After 10 years and seven million dollars, the project is finally seeing the light of day. Watching the concept video of how it all works is pretty wild. It shows a giant crane-like arm sending bricks down a chute and placing them directly on top of another, rotating to complete not just the outer wall, but inner structure of the computer generated building as well.

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Net neutrality becomes law in the EU and roaming charges get banned – After long negotiations, EU authorities have finally agreed on a deal that will see the end of roaming charges and the introduction of net neutrality into laws across the Union. But there are caveats.

Sleep with your smartphone in hand? You’re not alone – I confess. My smartphone sits next to my bed on a nightstand while I slumber. I set it to do-not-disturb mode during sleeping hours, but then it comes to life as my alarm clock every morning. Turns out, I’m completely normal. A Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility Report released Monday shows that American adults can’t tear themselves away from their mobile devices, even when fast asleep. When it comes to bedtime, 71 percent of survey respondents say they sleep with or next to their smartphones.

Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search – New research claims that Google is gaming its search results in its own favor to the detriment of competitors. Google has “increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites,” according to the report co-authored by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, Tim Wu and the Yelp Data Science team. And yes, Yelp, which lists reviews of businesses, is a competitor that has cried foul over Google search results in the past.

Something to think about:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

–       William Faulkner Requiem for a Nun

Today’s Free Downloads:

NetworkConnectLog – NetworkConnectLog is a simple utility that repeatedly scans your local area network (Using ARP and Netbios protocols) and add a new log line every time that a new computer or device connects to your network, and when a computer or device disconnects from your network.

After the connect/disconnect log lines are accumulated, you can easily export the log lines to comma-delimited/tab-delimited/html/xml file.

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Second Life – Second Life is a 3D world where everyone you see is a real person and every place you visit is built by people just like you.

Travel with friends to thousands of beautiful and exciting places — all created by the Second Life community.

Millions of people have already joined Second Life. Chat for free using voice or text with folks from around the world who share your passions and interests.

Dress up and design a new 3D you. There are thousands of designer items to explore in our Marketplace where the selection is as endless as your imagination.

Every day there are thousands of new experiences and events created by the Second Life community. Visit the Destination Guide to get a peek at some of the action.

Discover your artistic talents and share them instantly with friends. Take beautiful snapshots, create machinima videos or build something from scratch inside Second Life.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying – A secret US tribunal ruled late Monday that the National Security Agency is free to continue its bulk telephone metadata surveillance program—the same spying that Congress voted to terminate weeks ago.

Congress disavowed the program NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed when passing the USA Freedom Act, which President Barack Obama signed June 2. The act, however, allowed for the program to be extended for six months to allow “for an orderly transition” to a less-invasive telephone metadata spying program.

Lawmakers approve a variation of the phone-records spy program Snowden revealed.

For that to happen, the Obama administration needed the blessing of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court). The government just revealed the order.

In setting aside an appellate court’s ruling that the program was illegal, the FISA Court ruled that “Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specially authorized. For this reason, the Court approves the application (PDF) in this case.”

Report: Surveillance programs may cost US tech over $35 billion and its competitive edge – What long-term effect will the revelations about US mass surveillance disclosed by Edward Snowden two years ago have on the US tech sector?

Through inaction, the US government risks sacrificing the “robust competitiveness of the U.S. tech sector for vague and unconvincing promises of improved national security,” argues the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in a June 2015 report entitled “Beyond the USA Freedom Act: How U.S. Surveillance Still Subverts U.S. Competitiveness.”

The report’s authors, Daniel Castro and Alan McQuinn, raise an issue that ought to make US policymakers and US leaders stop and think:

“When historians write about this period in U.S. history it could very well be that one of the themes will be how the United States lost its global technology leadership to other nations. And clearly one of the factors they would point to is the long-standing privileging of U.S. national security interests over U.S. industrial and commercial interests when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.”

Inaction on reforming mass surveillance and promoting transparency and data security worldwide puts US trade and its technology businesses at risk. In its report, ITIF describes the effect on US companies and the rise of protectionism resulting from the covert mass surveillance scandal.

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4 Comments

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

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 1, 2015

  1. What to do If Your Email has been Hijacked
    The following video gives you all the steps to fix your and your friends problems when this occurs.