10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 It’s free! Feds can read every email you opened last year without a warrant; The Best Free Software for 2015; Facebook and Twitter are growing as news sources, says Pew; When Wi-Fi doesn’t work, try these things first; Witness Launches A Live-Streaming App That’s A Panic Button For The Mobile Age; The ultimate guide to Gmail backup; Google Photos continues to upload your images even after you delete the app; Screenshots: Five rising Linux desktop stars; 3 free tools that transform YouTube into a streaming music service; Microsoft issues 14 security fixes in July’s Patch Tuesday; Once again, Adobe releases emergency Flash patch for Hacking Team 0-days; 6 Shady Regimes That Worked With Hacking Team; SanDisk’s new wireless thumb drive streams HD video to three devices; Skype for Android updated to v5.5; Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents; ACLU to appellate court: Please halt NSA’s resumed bulk data collection.
Feds can read every email you opened last year without a warrant – It’s no longer a surprise that the government is reading your emails. What you might not know is that it can readily read most of your email without a warrant. Any email or social networking message you’ve opened that’s more than six months old can also be accessed by every law enforcement official in government — without needing to get a warrant. That’s because a key provision in a law almost three decades’ old allows this kind of access with a mere subpoena, which doesn’t require a judge. That includes every email or message you opened last year, and earlier. (Anything under that six-month period still requires a warrant, however.)
10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 – Everybody can finally exhale a sigh of relief: Windows 8 is going away, and it’s once again safe to upgrade your PC’s version of Windows. Windows 10 is nearly here, and a major thrust of its design is to be more familiar to users of pre-8 versions of Windows. It’s a chance for everyone who missed out on all the performance and feature advances in Windows 8 and 8.1—and believe it or not there are plenty, many of which are included in this list—to get caught up. Not only that: It’s free!
10. Xbox App
Facebook and Twitter are growing as news sources, says Pew – The Pew Research Center announced today that it had made a discovery: Facebook and Twitter are growing in influence, with more and more users using them as a source of news. This increase isn’t due to a growing user base for the sites, says the study, but rather that existing users are increasingly discovering news stories there. Pew found that 63 percent of users on both Facebook and Twitter said they used the sites to find out about news and current events. These findings are probably particularly heartening for both sites, both of which have been pushing for a greater focus on news lately. Twitter’s “Project Lightning” will focus on providing live coverage and breaking news to everyone, whether they have Twitter accounts or not, while Facebook launched Instant Articles this past May, allowing news organizations to publish directly on the site.
The Best Free Software for 2015 – Software can be expensive if you’re not smart about it. Free programs have been a mainstay of the desktop experience for decades, and the offerings only get more powerful and fascinating each year. As PCs compete with smartphones, it gets even better. Software developers can adopt an ad-based model, donation-ware to keep things afloat, or a shareware/freemium model that charges for extra features. This is our first big look at free desktop software you can download and install (as opposed to just free Web-based apps) since 2012. While a lot has stayed the same, there’s an odious new threat: crapware installers.
Witness Launches A Live-Streaming App That’s A Panic Button For The Mobile Age – You can think of Witness as something like a private version of Twitter’s Periscope, for example, combined with a user safety application designed to quickly alert friends or family if you’re in trouble or are in an uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation where you may need help. But the app also resonated with the Hackathon audience and judges because of its potential to document and record police brutality or other cases where civil disobedience was met with undue force – especially as the app had emerged at time when a number of high-profile incidents of clashes with police had brought attention to these issues.
Google Photos continues to upload your images even after you delete the app – Users of the service discovered that the app continues to upload your images to Google Photos even after it’s been disabled or deleted. Shocked customers found that their photos had shown up online on Google+ and the search giant’s other services, even though they had deleted the app from their phone. Luckily the fix for the problem is simple: go to the phone’s settings and turn off photo backup from there. That’s because Google Photos apparently uses the system’s toggles and options instead of its own app’s. After that photos should stop uploading to the service though you’ll still need to delete the ones that are already in the cloud.
When Wi-Fi doesn’t work, try these things first – Wi-Fi problems could be caused by your computer or your router, or some interaction that’s gone awry. Here’s how to identify and fix the problem.
Skype for Android updated to v5.5: easier sign-ins and more – Today Microsoft pushed an update for its Skype for Android app to the Google Play Store, bringing it up to version 5.5 and adding in some features that will be handy for mobile users. The biggest among the changes is arguably an improvement to signing in from mobile, making it easier for those who insist on logging out to sign back in from their Android smartphone or tablet. The chatting feature will soon be updated, too, and will likewise be a little more convenient once it is.
Screenshots: Five rising Linux desktop stars – Linux is everywhere. It’s on your servers and in your phones, cars, watches, toasters, refrigerators… and desktops. Although fewer users see Linux on their desktops than in their thermostats, even that is on the rise, partly due to the number of high-quality distributions. This new wave of Linux desktop distributions is bringing a confluence of user-friendliness, modern design, and stability to the open source platform. The only problem you might have is figuring out which of the more recent distributions are the true darlings of the moment. Never fear, intrepid readers: I have you covered with the five Linux desktop distributions I feel are the hottest commodities coming out of the open source world.
Elementary OS Freya
Google Drive update adds disable feature to sharing – Google Drive has been updated with additional features that give users optional control over how shared content is used by the recipient. In particular, the update introduces an option that disables one’s ability to print, download, and copy content that has been shared with them by another Google Drive user. While many users likely won’t care either way, those with more sensitive content like businesses will be able to use Drive for sharing content while limiting the other person’s control over it.
3 free tools that transform YouTube into a streaming music service – The popular Chrome extension Streamus disappeared from the Chrome Web Store on Tuesday, July 14. Current users of the extension shouldn’t lose functionality, the extension’s developer Sean Anderson told me, as he intends to keep the Streamus database running. Even if Streamus does stop working, have no fear—there are a number of alternatives for getting your streaming fix on.
10 outstanding open source server tools – If you work with open source servers (such as the world’s most popular web server, Apache), you know a massive number of tools are available to you. They range from security to functionality to monitoring… to just about anything you can imagine. But if you were to compile a single list of tools to include on your open source server farm, what would that list look like? My own list tends to fluctuate on any given day. But almost always, certain tools stay on it. Here are the tools I rely on the most.
The ultimate guide to Gmail backup – Want to make sure you have a local or backup copy of all that mission-critical business and personal history in your Gmail archives? David Gewirtz takes you through an array of options.
You will be able to buy a Windows 10 PC on July 29 – With almost two weeks to go until Windows 10 launches, Microsoft has rectified its statement; which now states that customers will be able to buy pre-installed Windows 10 PCs on launch day after all.
Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents – Are you over-using a few words in everything you write? Here are two tools to help check yourself.
Apple Pay opens its doors in the UK – Apple has finally opened the gates to its nascent mobile payment system in the UK, turning on the Apple Pay switch for more than 250,000 shops across the country as well as several transportation networks. But while the UK comes only in second after Apple’s US launch way back in October last year, this could prove to be a much bigger contactless market than the US. This is thanks to the UK having a substantial head start in preparing for contactless payments and setting up compatible terminals almost everywhere.
Microsoft issues 14 security fixes in July’s Patch Tuesday – In Microsoft’s round of updates for July, the company has issued 14 bulletins fixing dozens of vulnerabilities in many Microsoft products, including Windows and Office. Three of the bulletins — specifically MS15-065 for Internet Explorer, MS15-070 for Microsoft Office, and MS15-077 for Windows — are being actively exploited by hackers, said HP’s Dustin Childs in a tweet. Here’s the rundown of the most critical flaws:
MS kills critical IE 11 bug after exploit was shopped to Hacking Team – Microsoft has killed at least two security bugs linked to the compromised malware developer Hacking Team, including a critical remote-code execution hole that worked against people using the latest version of Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and 8 machines. The IE vulnerability was discovered in an e-mail a security researcher sent to Hacking Team executives, according to a blog post published Tuesday by researchers from security firm Vectra Networks.
Firefox blacklists Flash player due to unpatched 0-day vulnerabilities – There’s some drama going down in the Flash camp. Yesterday, because of two unpatched Hacking Team zero-day vulnerabilities, Mozilla blacklisted Adobe Flash Player 188.8.131.52, meaning Flash was disabled by default in Firefox. This morning, just a few moments ago, Adobe rushed out version 184.108.40.206, plugging the two vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, over at Facebook, the company’s new chief security officer called for Adobe to “announce an end-of-life date for Flash,” so that we can finally “disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem.” And if two Web giants weren’t enough, Google recently announced that the next stable version of Chrome would “intelligently” block auto-playing Flash elements.
Once again, Adobe releases emergency Flash patch for Hacking Team 0-days – Adobe Systems has issued an emergency update for its Flash media player to patch two critical zero-day vulnerabilities that allow attackers to surreptitiously install malware on end-user computers. The two Flash vulnerabilities unearthed this past weekend are in addition to a third one found earlier in the Hacking Team dump, which Adobe patched last week, a few days after it was discovered. All three critical vulnerabilities were present in Flash versions for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. At least one of them was potent enough to pierce the vaunted Google Chrome security sandbox, most likely because it was combined with a separate privilege-escalation exploit for Windows.
How to disable the Adobe Flash browser plug-in – If you really want to keep using Flash, update it immediately. But it might be a better idea to go into your desktop browser settings and shut down this media streaming tool, at least for now. Devices using Google’s Android operating system do not have Flash pre-installed, and of course Apple has long banned Flash from iOS devices, so you only need to tweak your Windows and Mac browsers. Not sure if Flash is installed? Go to Adobe’s Flash Player page and click the Check Now button.
It’s time to kill Flash, says Facebook’s new security chief – In tweets posted over the weekend, Alex Stamos, who joined the social networking giant from Yahoo last week, said the popular web plugin used for videos and games had to go. “It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day,” he said in one tweet. He followed up in another tweet, adding: “Even if 18 months from now, one set date is the only way to disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem at once.” Stamos isn’t the first person to call for the plugin’s end-of-life, nor will he be the last.
Hacking Team spyware rootkit: Even a new HARD DRIVE wouldn’t get rid of it – Hacking Team RCS spyware came pre-loaded with an UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS rootkit to hide itself on infected systems, it has emerged following the recent hacking of the controversial surveillance firm. The stealth infection tactic, which has been revealed through leaked emails arising from last week’s hack, meant that the Remote Control System (RCS) agent stayed on compromised machines even if users formatted their drives – or even swapped disks. Although designed primarily for the Insyde BIOS (a popular laptop BIOS) it might also work on AMI BIOS as well, according to security firm Trend Micro.
Fake Bloomberg news story causes Twitter shares to spike – Twitter’s stock spiked in midday trading Tuesday after a fake Bloomberg news report said the company had received an offer to be acquired for US$31 billion. The story appeared convincing, with a Bloomberg Business logo, but Bloomberg quickly tweeted that it was fake. There were some telltale signs it wasn’t authentic: the URL was businessweek.market rather than businessweek.com, and CEO Dick Costolo’s name was misspelled. That didn’t stop Twitter investors from reacting. The company’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange spiked briefly just before noon Eastern Time, surging about 10 percent from Monday’s close to more than $38 before settling back down as news spread that the report was fake.
Facebook wants to create its own virtual assistant called Moneypenny – It looks like Cortana, Google Now, Siri and Echo might soon have company, as Facebook is reportedly testing out its own virtual assistant, internally called Moneypenny. According to a report from The Information, which cites unnamed sources, Facebook is positioning Moneypenny as a helping tool that lives inside of its popular Messenger platform. From there, users would be able to use the feature to do research and shopping. It will also, apparently, allow you to ask real people for help with those tasks. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of what’s currently known about the service.
Google Eddystone open-source Bluetooth beacons revealed – Google has launched Eddystone, a new open-source Bluetooth LE beacon platform which plays nicely with iOS, Android, and other OSes. Aiming to power a new age of location-based services, as well as give those responsible for managing a flock of Bluetooth beacons the tools to make sure they’re working properly, Eddystone arrives with two main features: telling mobile devices exactly where they are and what’s nearby, and linking a physical location with online data.
Verizon Signs Up VICE To Deliver Original Content For Its Upcoming Mobile Video Service – Verizon announced this morning that it will be adding Vice Media to the list of partners that provide content for the telco’s forthcoming over-the-top video service due out later this year. As a part of the multi-year agreement between the two companies, Vice will produce original domestic and international programming that’s exclusive to Verizon.
reddit loses another prominent female employee as chief engineer quits – On Monday night, reddit’s chief engineer, Bethanye Blount, resigned from her position after less than two months on the job. Blount said she decided to quit because she had lost confidence in the direction of the company.
BlackBerry names former Cisco exec head of sales – BlackBerry said Monday that it has hired Carl Wiese, a former Cisco executive, as its sales lead. Wiese will be in charge of BlackBerry’s sales strategy and bolstering growth. At Cisco, Wiese most recently led the company’s collaboration unit. BlackBerry’s move comes as it tries to transition to a business model that revolves around software. While hardware accounts for the bulk of the company’s revenue, BlackBerry plan is to grow its enterprise mobility business.
Games and Entertainment:
Electronic Arts, Comcast team up to bring game streaming to TVs – How much bigger can the video game industry get? That’s a question at the heart of a new partnership between game maker Electronic Arts and cable giant Comcast. The pair announced on Tuesday a “beta” test period for a new project that enables cable customers to play games through their set-top boxes using smartphones or tablets as controllers. Customers who have an Xfinity X1 set-top box from Comcast can begin playing games by selecting an app called Xfinity Games. Once there, they surf to a website on their mobile device, enter a code, and then select and control video games by swiping and tapping on their device screen while images are displayed on the television set.
SanDisk’s new wireless thumb drive streams HD video to three devices – SanDisk today announced the newest addition to its wireless storage line – the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick. The Connect Wireless Stick ranges in capacity from 16GB to 128GB and in price from $30 to $100. The Connect Wireless Stick is compatible with iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android devices, Windows PCs and Apple computers. It works with iOS version 8.0 or higher, Android 4.2 or higher, Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS 10.6 or higher, and via web browser for other Wi-Fi enabled devices, according to SanDisk.
SanDisk – The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick
TiVo Devices Now Support AirPlay For Streaming Recordings To Apple TV – The new feature is a nice addition for TiVo customers, some of whom complained in the past about the lack of AirPlay functionality – especially given the fact that TiVo has for a long time supported streaming directly to iOS devices via its Roamio DVRs. While obviously, TiVo users could already easily watch their recorded shows and movies on the TV connected to their TiVo DVR, support for AirPlay to Apple TV means users now have the option to streaming their content to other TVs around the home which aren’t hooked up to the DVR.
Apple looking into video and TV streaming, with several deals already underway – It seems that Apple is not satisfied with just streaming music and reports are coming in that deals with several TV networks are already underway, with a launch expected around fall.
Off Topic (Sort of):
6 Shady Regimes That Worked With Hacking Team – “We’re here to help” was the basic message of Hacking Team. The Italian security company markets its software to law enforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide, but has long maintained that it did not sell it to repressive regimes that could use the information to persecute their citizens. Not everyone believed them, including Human Rights Watch and WikiLeaks. After a recent hack, the latter released thousands of emails and other documents that revealed Hacking Team’s dealings with unsavory governments. The documents are rather revealing, but data about these five countries were particularly enlightening. Click through the slideshow for more.
Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency (INSA) monitors and filters websites in the country. “Internet filtering practices in Ethiopia do not appear to be regulated by law, nor subject to any kind of safeguard against improper or disproportionate censorship,” according to Human Rights Watch.
Land Rover software bug causes doors to open on their own – You’re driving along and all is well until you turn and your door swings open — a door you’re sure was firmly shut when you got in the car. Such is a potential problem some Range Rover owners are facing due to a software bug that may cause the doors unlatch on their own. A door opening without warning could distract the driver and cause a wreck, could result in property damage, or could on the extreme end of things cause a passenger who isn’t wearing a seat belt to fall out of the vehicle.
Stop Trying To Make Sense Out Of The Reddit Saga – Why does reddit exist? How does reddit exist? Who are all of these people who participate? Who knows? They’re anonymous. How does something like reddit attract $50 million in funding? I have no idea, and a lot of the people I’ve been speaking to in tech circles over the past week don’t know, either.
Wi-Fi Aware Aims To Connect All Your Devices Instantly – The new technology, called Wi-Fi Aware, is being released by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit trade organization that includes Apple, Microsoft, Intel and hundreds of other tech powerhouses as members. Aware allows Wi-Fi-enabled products to discover and communicate directly with nearby devices, applications or information, without relying on cellular data or an Internet connection. Think of it as a sort of the same thing iBeacons were supposed to do but have yet to provide. Essentially, once you’ve installed an application that leverages Aware, your device will continuously broadcast and receive broadcasts from devices in your vicinity. Users can opt in to let applications both publish availability and subscribe to receive information and connection requests.
UK pilots warn putting devices with lithium batteries in hold baggage is ‘aircraft fire risk’ – The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), the professional association and trade union of UK pilots, has called on airlines to require air travellers to carry devices that run on lithium-based batteries with them in the passenger cabin. The union is issuing this call in order to address what it considers a significant potential safety risk. Lithium batteries used in devices such as phones, tablets, laptops and cameras are highly flammable. When they’re damaged, they can become especially volatile – as BALPA explains, “when they short circuit, [they] have a tendency to burst into high intensity fires, which are difficult to extinguish.”
ProxyHam anonymity project bizarrely destroyed sans explanation – Staying private on the Internet has become a big concern for many and a problem for certain government agencies. The Edward Snowden leaks revealed a trove of data on government spying, and since then companies have moved to further encrypt data and many devices have cropped up promising high security. ProxyHam is one of those devices. The maker described the device as a hardware proxy that could be planted somewhere like your local cafe; it would use radio connections to transmit the signal up to 2.5 miles away, leaving the Internet user safely hidden. Now the project has been cancelled under bizarre circumstances.
A new look at the people erasing themselves from Google Search – With the “right to be forgotten” now firmly established in European law, hundreds of millions of people can now ask to be delisted by Google, effectively erasing themselves from Google Search. A new report from The Guardian digs into who has been using the new feature, using information accidentally revealed in the source code of Google’s recent transparency report. The new data covers the 218,320 requests that were made between May 2014 and March 2015, roughly three-quarters of the total requests, slightly less than half of which (101,461) resulted in a successful delisting. The data has also been published on GitHub, and is open for deeper analysis.
Something to think about:
“Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck”.
– Thomas Jefferson
Today’s Free Downloads:
NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.
NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without need of any installation.
NirLauncher and all the utilities in the package are completely freeware, without any Spyware/Adware/Malware.
NirLauncher package includes variety of tools that you may need for your daily computer use, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…
For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.
When using it from USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into .cfg file on the flash drive.
On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically run the x64 version of the utility, when there is a separated x64 version.
NirLauncher also allows to add more software packages in additional to the main NirSoft package.
ISO Burner – ISO Burner 2 is a simple ISO creator with bootable image support that is quick and easy to use.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
ACLU to appellate court: Please halt NSA’s resumed bulk data collection – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked one of the nation’s top appellate courts to order the National Security Agency to stop its bulk records collection, which resumed in limited form last month as part of the USA Freedom Act.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled in ACLU v. Clapper in May 2015 that the dragnet data collection went beyond the scope of what was authorized by Congress.
“This dragnet surveillance program should never have been launched, and it should certainly be terminated now,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a Tuesday statement. “Not even the government contends anymore that the program has been effective, and the Second Circuit has already concluded that the program is illegal. It’s a needless and unlawful intrusion into the privacy rights of millions of innocent Americans.”
Why was Oscar-winning Snowden documentarian detained 50+ times in US airports? – Laura Poitras gained notoriety as the documentary filmmaker behind the 2014 Oscar-winning movie Citizenfour, a film about the time she and Glenn Greenwald spent with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
What’s less known about Poitras is that from 2006 until 2012, she was stopped at the US border every single time she entered the country. In all, she was stopped on more than 50 occasions. Poitras, who is a US citizen, never got a satisfactory explanation as to why the detentions took place.
Frustrated after years of stonewalling, today Poitras said she’s working with lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation to get answers. The group is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice and two other agencies.
Poitras said she’s filing the suit to support less high-profile people who were subject to the same years of “Kafkaesque harassment” that she was.
“This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy,” she said. “We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted.”
Another U.K. Surveillance Review Calls For Judicial Sign-Off For Intercepts – Another independent report into U.K. government surveillance has concluded interception warrants should require judicial sign-off, rather than being sanctioned by ministers as is the case now.
This follows the publication of the Anderson surveillance review last month which also urged the government to adopt judicial sign-off. The U.K. is alone among the so-called Five Eyes intelligence alliance powers in not having a judicial process for signing off interception warrants.
Late last month Home Secretary Theresa May said the government was considering the Anderson recommendations, and had not yet made a decision on the judicial sign-off point, although in earlier comments (reported in The Guardian) the government appeared to pour cold water on the idea of handing off warrant authorization to judges.
The government has said it is committed to introducing new surveillance legislation, the forthcoming Investigatory Powers Bill, in the current parliament, with a timetable to introduce a draft bill this autumn — with a view to gaining Royal Assent next year before emergency surveillance legislation (DRIPA) expires at the end of 2016.
Authors Guild demands ISPs monitor, filter Internet of pirated goods – The Authors Guild, one of the nation’s top writer’s groups, wants the US Congress to overhaul copyright law and require ISPs to monitor and filter the Internet of pirated materials, including e-books.
The guild, in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee as it mulls changes to copyright law, says the notice-and-takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act favor large corporations like Google over individual writers. The group said that ISPs purge the Internet of infringing content on their own. As the law now stands, ISPs are not legally liable for pirated content, and they get “safe harbor” immunity from infringement allegations as long as they remove infringing content at the owners’ request.
US to begin talks on drone privacy standards – A U.S. government agency will start its third attempt to develop voluntary privacy standards for an emerging area of technology, this time with a series of meetings on drone privacy scheduled to begin Aug. 3.
The U.S. National Telecommunication and Information Administration has already hosted similar discussions on mobile app privacy and facial recognition privacy but with mixed results. Privacy groups pulled out of the facial recognition discussions in June, saying the process wouldn’t lead to enough protections for consumers.
It’s unclear how many privacy and consumer groups will take part in the discussions about drones.
Still, they present several privacy challenges that the NTIA discussions can address, said Angela Simpson, the agency’s deputy assistant secretary for communications and information. President Barack Obama asked the agency earlier this year to host the discussions on privacy, she noted in a blog post.
“From enhancing news gathering, improving agribusiness, providing new delivery models, to providing Internet in remote areas, the possibilities for UAS are staggering,” Simpson wrote, referring to unmanned aircraft systems. “Consumer trust and responsible operation are keys to fully tapping the transformative potential of unmanned aircraft.”
In April, NTIA received more than 50 comments about drone privacy issues from individuals and companies.