Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – July 6, 2015

Steer clear of low-tech hacks: How to keep your information safe;  5 free Wi-Fi tools that help maximize your home network;  14 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know;  Meet the Home Security Camera That Burglars Totally Ignore;  The 10 best Android apps to run on your Chromebook;  How to take dreamy long exposure photos;  The best consumer-grade Wi-Fi extender;  See your own photos through the eyes of Google’s AI;  Surveillance software vendor Hacking Team hacked;  Ransomware Hiding Behind Resumes;  The 10 best PC games of 2015 (so far);  Samsung sued for loading devices with unremovable crapware (in China);  Personal Health In The Digital Age;  Amazon says 20th birthday celebration will be bigger than Black Friday;  GM to offer teen driver tracking to parents;  Why don’t we drive more electric vehicles?  Salient Eye home security alarm mobile app (free);  US government allegedly spied on journalists in Germany;  InternetOff (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Steer clear of low-tech hacks: How to keep your information safe – It doesn’t take a coding genius to steal your Social Security number, but you can be smarter than identity thieves.

5 free Wi-Fi tools that help maximize your home network – Thanks to Wi-Fi every device in your home can easily get online, whether it’s your iPad, desktop PC, the high-definition television in the living room, and maybe even your coffee pot or fridge. But are you getting the most out of your wireless Internet connection? Is it truly as fast as your service provider claims? Are the neighbors screwing up your signal? Do you know how to connect all your various devices together to share files at home? Here are five free Wi-Fi-enhancing tools that can help you answer “yes” to all of those questions.

14 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know – Facebook is a magnet for some of the top engineering talent in the world, so it stands to reason that the company would boast one of the world’s most complex and multi-faceted websites. It rivals many standalone software apps with the sheer amount of personalization, tweaks, and tinkering available to visitors. In fact, there are so many things you can do on Facebook.com that you probably don’t know about them all.

Facebook Tests Features That Make Sharing GIFs In Messenger Easier Than Ever – Facebook really wants you to use GIFs inside Messenger. The company recently unleashed a series of GIF apps from third-parties which work inside Messenger — as part of its Messenger platform initiative — but it is now going beyond that with a series of pilots that bring GIFs right into Messenger without those apps.

Meet the Home Security Camera That Burglars Totally Ignore – For the past eight years, Melanie, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, shared her Chandler, Ariz. home with several roommates. But when she finally got the place to herself this past spring, she felt her newfound privacy came at the cost of security. So, she decided buy a Canary all-in-one home security device, placing it in the bedroom of her 2,000-square-foot house. Here’s the footage from Melanie’s Canary, provided by the company and posted here with Melanie’s permission:

wps_clip_image-6335

The 10 best Android apps to run on your Chromebook – Android and Chrome are better together. Google continues to tie the laces between the two operating systems, giving developers—and adventurous everyday users—the tools to put Android apps on Chrome OS. Be warned: This effort is definitely in the early stages, so if you’re uncomfortable with running into some glitches along the way then it may be best to tread very slowly before trying to turn your Chromebook into a second home for all your Android apps.

How to take dreamy long exposure photos – Long exposure photography is a great technique to play with and lends itself particularly to clouds moving across landscapes, waves crashing onto rocky shores, or busy night-time city streets. It doesn’t even require expensive kit or hours of training to get started. Read through this guide to find out how you can create your own slow shutter masterpieces.

wps_clip_image-2905

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Reddit’s Subreddits Pop Back Online After Brief Protest – That didn’t take long. A sea of protests recently hit the popular social sharing site Reddit, resulting in a number of the more popular subreddits going private—including many of those that new users are subscribed to, by default, when they join the site. However, many of these subreddits are now back online; the protest, it seems, was a bit more of a sneeze than a siege. As of Saturday morning, all of these 50 default subreddits were online. That’s not to say that the small protest wasn’t extraordinarily successful at getting attention, though.

Petition for Pao resignation from Reddit grows to 130K – An online petition calling for the resignation of Ellen Pao, Reddit’s interim CEO, has attracted more than 130,000 signatures, growing rapidly in the past two days since the dismissal of a key administrator at the community-curated news site. The Change.org petition describes a lack of confidence in Pao, who petition organizers accuse of ushering in “a new age of censorship” and worry that she will “run Reddit into the ground.” The petition, which was launched three weeks ago, grew from 16,000 signatures on Friday to more than 130,000 two days later after the alleged firing of Victoria Taylor, one of the social news site’s highest profile administrators.

Browsy Is a Fullscreen, Distraction-Free Browser for iOS – Browsy’s main pitch is it’s fullscreen, distraction-free view. Basically, load up a web page and you’re treated with a great fullscreen view for easy browsing. No URL bar, no buttons, nothing. Beyond that Browsy also has some clever DuckDuckGo integration that adds some Omnibar tricks, and a useful “Keep screen awake” button that comes in handy if you’re reading recipes or how-to guides. It’s not going to replace Safari or Chrome by any means, but it does have its uses if you’re looking for a simpler browser.

The best consumer-grade Wi-Fi extender – After spending a total of 110 hours researching 25 different Wi-Fi extenders (and testing 10 of them), plus analyzing reviews and owner feedback, we found that the $100 Netgear EX6200 is the best Wi-Fi extender for most people right now.  It costs as much as a great router and it shouldn’t be the first thing you try to fix your Wi-Fi range, but it has the best combination of range, speed, flexibility, and physical connections of any extender we tested.

Image reveals BlackBerry’s new Android slider with dual-curved display – BlackBerry’s new handset features a slide-out keyboard, and has apparently been revealed in a leaked image, showing a Galaxy S6 edge-style dual-curved display, and what seems to be stock Android.

wps_clip_image-7392

See your own photos through the eyes of Google’s AI – Last month the trippy so-called “dream” photos created by Google’s Artificial Neural Networks took the Internet by storm, and the response was split down the middle: some found the photos, which include things like a “pig-snail” and random faces, to be fun and creative while others found them creepy. If you’re skewed toward the former group and want to see what your own photos look like through the eyes of AI, you’re in luck. A new tool gives you a peek.

wps_clip_image-5111

Security:

Surveillance software vendor Hacking Team hacked – Italian surveillance software slingers Hacking Team has allegedly been cracked by hackers, who exfiltrated some 400Gbs of data. The plunder has been uploaded to BitTorrent in a monstrous listing of directories, allegedly including audio recordings, emails, and source code. Hacking Team sells the Da Vinci malware surveillance software to law enforcement agencies claiming to only deal with ethical governments. It is marked as an Enemy of the Internet by activist outfit Reporters Without Borders. The trove also allegedly reveals all Hacking Team customers and when they purchased the software. The company is said to count Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Lebanon among its customers.

wps_clip_image-13467

Tasty Spam: Ransomware Hiding Behind Resumes – Criminals are getting creative about getting users to open up malicious file attachments in emails. Cloudmark tells us what warning signs to look for the next time a resume lands in your inbox.

wps_clip_image-26151

China hacks ‘everything that doesn’t move’ says Hilary Clinton – In widely-reported remarks made at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Clinton said China is “ … trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America. Stealing commercial secrets … from defence contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage.” Any aspiring commander in chief needs to sound credible on foreign policy, so Clinton’s remarks are to be expected and are likely intended for a domestic audience as much as they are for Chinese ears. China, of course, says the same about America and can point to the works of one E. Snowden, late of Moscow, when asked for proof about its statements. Clinton’s not backed her remarks with new information, although her status as a former secretary of state gives her comments a little extra weight.

Plex hacker demands Bitcoin ransom for return of data – Video streaming service Plex has reset user passwords after it was breached by a hacker who threatened to release stolen data unless he’s paid a ransom. Someone going by the nickname “Savata” claimed responsibility for the breach and threatened to release the data on torrent networks if a ransom wasn’t paid in bitcoins. Savata asked for 9.5 bitcoins ($2,400) but wrote that the ransom would increase to 14.5 bitcoins if it wasn’t paid by Friday, according to a copy of the message posted on Reddit. “I don’t care who the BTC comes from as long as the payment is made: no data will be released,” Savata wrote.

Presidential hopeful Trump wants to keep this country safe, but can’t even keep your credit card safe – In case you missed it, Donald Trump has thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming presidential race. Apparently, that means he’s far too busy to make sure his hotel chain has adequate network security in place. The Trump Hotel Collection has just reported that their credit card processing system has been breached. Executive VP Eric Trump downplayed the situation, saying “like virtually every other company these days, we have been alerted to potential suspicious credit card activity.” So yeah, it’s no big deal that the credit card you used to secure your $500-per-night hotel room in SoHo may have been snatched by criminals. It’s happening to everyone.

Company News:

Samsung sued for loading devices with unremovable crapware (in China) – ShanghaiDaily reports that in China, Samsung will have some explaining to do about the amount of crapware it ships in its smartphones. The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission has sued Samsung (and Chinese OEM Oppo) for loading up devices with crapware. The commission studied 20 smartphones and said that many pre-installed apps were un-removable and eat into customers’ data plans. The commission specifically calls out the Galaxy Note 3, which had 44 apps installed (stock KitKat with the full Google Play suite ships with 31 apps) and the Oppo Find 7a, which had a whopping 71 apps.

wps_clip_image-6338

Samsung’s app selection from the Galaxy S5.

Startup Sues A Domain Name Owner To Grab A 16-Year-Old URL – Jason Kneen is a programmer and happens to own about a hundred domain names picked up over a sixteen year period. One of those, workbetter.com, he purchased in 1999 and it has been available on his site for years. In late April 2014 a company, OfficeLinks, approached him about buying the domain for use as a URL for their co-working space. It’s a tale old as the Internet: someone has and idea and the URL is taken. The owner and the startup hash out a deal and sometimes those deals fall through. When that happens most startups head back to the drawing board. For OfficeLinks, however, it was straight to the lawyers.

wps_clip_image-13653

Amazon says 20th birthday celebration will be bigger than Black Friday – To celebrate its 20th birthday, Amazon is introducing Prime Day, a “global shopping event” that the retail giant says will offer more deals than Black Friday. The deals will become available at midnight ET on July 15th, but will only be available to Amazon Prime customers in the US, the UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria. Amazon says new deals will be introduced as fast as every ten minutes, and will come from every product category, from clothing to electronics.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 best PC games of 2015 (so far) – I don’t want to blow your mind, but it’s already July. I know. Crazy. And it’s been one hell of a year so far for video games— The Witcher 3! Kerbal Space Program! Grim Effin’ Fandango! Phew. We’re on track already to have one of those years—you know, like 1998. Or 2007. And we haven’t even entered the fall reviews season yet, where we’ll see heavy hitters this year like Fallout 4 and SOMA. So while there’s still time to catch our breath, let’s take a look back at the first six months of 2015—and the best PC games so far this year (in no particular order).

wps_clip_image-25257

Book of Unwritten Tales 2

Nintendo to aim for a “free-to-start” mobile gaming model – By announcing its plans to start a presence on mobile, Nintendo has practically sealed its fate in that part of the market. But, as with many advanced announcement, details of those plans haven’t been fleshed out or, in some cases, might be totally non-existent. Nintendo isn’t divulging much of its plans for the future but, at a recent shareholders’ meeting, CEO Satoru Iwata revealed one aspect of its mobile business plan. It wants to distance itself from the negative image of “free-to-play” and will instead adopt a “free-to-start” business model. In other words, we’re back to the days of demoware.

Play Pong Inside Microsoft Bing – Microsoft is now wading into the black-and-white waters of Pong. If you head over to Bing and search for Pong, you’ll be able to play a very simple version of the game right in your browser. Yes, you’re playing against the computer and, yes, it’s classic Pong—nothing crazy, just paddles and a ball. Still, it’s…fun? The game appears to work in all browsers. The first to five is the winner, but you can always click to play again, and again, and again.

wps_clip_image-29174

Mojang unveils new “Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta” – If you are an avid fan of Microsoft-owned Mojang’s “Minecraft”, you’ll be pleased to hear that the company has announced a new version of the game designed specially for Windows 10 PCs. Aptly named as “Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta”, this game will make its way to the Windows Store on the 29th of July, the same day Windows 10 launches.

wps_clip_image-23782

Netflix’s Lemony Snicket trailer isn’t for the squeamish – Hot on the camp trail of “Wet Hot America Summer,” Netflix is now out with a teaser for its take on “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a young-adult book series that combines dark humor and fantasy elements. The trailer is full of icky critters, from spiders flooding out of a gramophone to a toothy leech creature flailing in a jar. There’s some bug-squishing action and plenty of wriggling worms. It should get fans plenty excited about the new adaptatation.

wps_clip_image-30078

Off Topic (Sort of):

Solar Impulse breaks record for longest sun-powered flight – The 4,000-mile leg — considered one of the most dangerous because there was no immediate landing zone if the plane ran into trouble — set a record for the world’s longest solar-powered flight both in terms of time and distance. It also was the longest solo flight by time. But the landing also furthers Solar Impulse’s larger mission: to legitimize the possibility of zero-fuel airplanes in the future. While there are no plans to bring a solar-powered airplane to the passenger industry anytime soon, the Solar Impulse 2 presents a possible alternative to fuel-guzzling airplanes.

wps_clip_image-29616

Personal Health In The Digital Age – We live in the digital age. You know that already. Two out of three Americans are now smartphone owners, and more than 86 percent of the population is connected online. But while digital has permeated everything from our social lives to how we work and how we shop, it is only starting to touch how we manage health.

GM to offer teen driver tracking to parents – GM has announced that it will be offering a way for parents to track their teens’ driving behavior in order to help cut down on accidents. The new system can be set to track the distance driven, the maximum speed traveled, any over-speed warnings issued during a drive, stability control events, antilock brake events, forward collision alerts and forward-collision braking events (if the vehicle is equipped to offer them).

wps_clip_image-25756

The Teen Driver system will be displayed as a report card on the MyLink telematics system.

Adam Smith was right about that invisible hand, you know – We have a nice little empirical proof that Adam Smith really was right about us all being guided by that invisible hand. Yeah, I know, you’re sooo tired of the free market maniac telling you that governments are all wet and laissez faire is where it should be. Except that’s not something Smith ever said nor is it what he meant by ‘invisible hand’. What he did mean was this from Barry Ritholtz:

wps_clip_image-17666

Remy Martin puts NFC chip in its Cognac to prove they are genuine – How do you tell a fine, authentic cognac from some knockoff in a fake bottle? Right now that requires a keen eye and an interest in cognac, but in the near future it might only require a smartphone with an NFC chip. Premium alcohol maker Rémy Martin has started production of a new “connected” bottle with an NFC tag to guarantee freshness and authenticity. Truly this is the future.

wps_clip_image-26944

See winning National Geographic nature photos snapped by kids – Kids between the ages of 9 and 17 are showing off their camera talents with a collection of pictures capturing crackling light bulbs, swarming ocean life and a curious young sea lion. National Geographic Kids selected 10 winning images taken by youthful photographers to display at the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C. The pictures rotate inside a digital frame and represent a wide spectrum of both natural and man-made subjects.

wps_clip_image-20328

A brightly painted swing ride opens up into the sky like an overgrown flower in this photo taken by 15-year-old Jordana Collins.

Why don’t we drive more electric vehicles? – One of the more challenging jobs the auto industry has right now is explaining to consumers that the future isn’t going to be like the past. We desperately need to reduce vehicle carbon emissions in order to avoid turning the planet into a hellscape, and that means turning to cars with some kind of energy storage other than hydrocarbons we’ve dug up from the ground and then distilled. That’s where people get confused and the message stalls, a problem laid out in a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences.

Something to think about:

“Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.”

–       Hermann Goering ‘On War And The People’

Today’s Free Downloads:

Salient Eye home security alarm mobile app – Salient Eye Turns your spare android smartphone into a motion detector burglar alarm system! The app uses the phone’s camera as a motion-sensor. Your phone will capture photos of intruders moving in front of the camera and will instantly send them to you. Once sufficient evidence has been collected, your phone will also sound a noisy alarm.

With “SalientEye Remote Control” app you can start and stop the Salient Eye without touching the device,it runs on.

You can leave a device with Salient Eye security system installed at the

position you want, connected to charger and no longer touch it.

You can control the alarm from your primary device.

Main features:

Push notifications on motion detection events.

Start/Stop Salient Eye on the other device

Get Current picture from Salient Eye on the other device

Connect as many remotes and as many salient eye devices as you wish.

wps_clip_image-31415

InternetOff  – InternetOff is a free tool that allows you to quickly turn off\on your internet connection from the system tray.

Why it’s needed:

The main and inherent problem with always being online is that you are too connected. Twitter, RSS feeds, YouTube video, answering email or IM message… And again from the start of the list. You only react on those “incoming” things instead of act. When you go offline all those distractions disappear. There’s no Twitter. No chat. No web. Only you and your tasks. Since you cannot consume you have to create so that something happens.

InternetOff allows you to quickly turn off the internet so that you can go offline. When you need the connection, you can enable the internet easily for some period (and it will be automatically turned off) or permanently in just two clicks. Besides the program lets you password protect access to the internet.

wps_clip_image-7203

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US government allegedly spied on journalists in Germany – Evidence that the US government has spied on German officials is sadly commonplace, but now it appears that the Obama administration’s efforts went beyond government officials. Der Spiegel says it has filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutors office wherein it claims its journalists were the victims of a spying campaign, based on documents it has obtained.

At the same time, CNN is also reporting that it has obtained evidence that the US government spied on Der Spiegel. Jake Tapper tells the story of a US official who could have been representing either the CIA or NSA going to the German government’s intelligence coordinator, Günter Heiss, and demanding he do something about a deputy (Hans-Josef Vorbeck) who was supposedly leaking information to the press. In response, Heiss reportedly traveled to Washington to discuss the alleged leaks and his government opened a file about “U.S. protocols of intercepted communications between Vorbeck and journalists.” The incidents took place back in 2011, well before the Snowden leaks revealed the extent of the US government’s spying to the world. Vorbeck was apparently reassigned, though at The Intercept reports the alleged reasoning for the reassignment is only now coming to light.

Canadians Seek to Halt Fair Elections Act, Compare It to Voter Suppression in the US – Young and Indigenous voters could have a harder time casting ballots in Canada’s fall election thanks to the contentious new Fair Elections Act. On Thursday, two groups went to court to ask a judge for an urgent injunction to put the Act on hold.

“The public confidence in the election may hang in the balance,” Steven Shrybman, a lawyer representing the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), told the Ontario Superior Court Thursday afternoon.

The Fair Elections Act, which the applicants compared to voter suppression efforts in the US, removes the ability of electors to use voter information cards they receive through the mail, and could prevent tens of thousands of Canadians from casting ballots in the upcoming Oct. 19 election, Shrybman argued.

“The tenor of all this is basically, we don’t want you to vote,” Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, told VICE outside the court Thursday afternoon. “Our other concern is that fewer people are voting every year.”

Only 39 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 25 voted in the last election, she pointed out.

“This kind of legislation basically says: you’re not welcome, don’t bother. And that’s the big concern—that it’s just anti-democratic,” she argued. “It dissuades people from voting.”

Advertisements

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – July 6, 2015

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

Comments are closed.