Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 17, 2015

The Best Antivirus for 2015;  25 browser add-ons for an easier, hassle-free web experience;  How to disable the Adobe Flash browser plug-in;  6 gotta-know sound settings for Android and iOS;  Facebook tests buy button on Pages;  Microsoft releases new license terms for Windows 10;  Twitter Unveils New Dashboard;  Get Your Prescription Meds Delivered On-Demand;  New iPod Touch offers a cheap entry-level iOS device;  Stop others from copying, printing shared Google Drive files;  Oracle fixes zero-day Java flaw and over 190 other vulnerabilities;  LogDog Is A Mobile App That Helps Protect Your Online Accounts From Being Hacked;  Netflix Hits Record High — Again;  Intel profit falls as PC slump continues;  Angry Birds 2 is coming on July 30th;  Alternative is the question, Linux is the answer;  10 Mobile Games to Keep Your Mind Sharp;  Buy a PS4 or Xbox One, Get $100 Gift Card;  A gamer’s guide to online security.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Best Antivirus for 2015 – When your computer seems sluggish, do you blame your antivirus? That was famously the case in the past, but these days installing antivirus protection can effectively speed up your computer. That’s because the best antivirus products do their job more efficiently than the antivirus built into Windows. Which one is best for you? We’ll help you decide.


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.

25 browser add-ons for an easier, hassle-free web experience – Using your PC for desktop software like Microsoft Office and Photoshop is nice, but the cold, hard fact is that most of the time our PCs are just glorified browser launchers. So much of what goes on in our lives these days lives on the web, whether it’s our social networks, email, financial dealings, or simply catching up on the day’s news. That’s why it pays to trick out your browser with extensions that make it easier to live online. Here’s a look at 25 browser add-ons and extensions that will make your browsing experience smoother, easier, and far less problematic.

6 gotta-know sound settings for Android and iOS – Clicking the volume rocker isn’t the only way to control the sound on your Android phone or iPhone. You can make key taps “click,” assign different ringtones to your favorite contacts, tweak your equalizer levels, and more.

Microsoft releases new license terms for Windows 10: Biggest surprise? No gotchas – Microsoft has consistently said that its new “Windows as a service” model doesn’t change the basic licensing terms for Windows. Based on these documents, that’s still true. In fact, the new license agreement is simpler and written more clearly than any similar document I’ve reviewed in 20 years of examining Windows license agreements. There are a few noteworthy changes, which I’ll outline in this post, but every one of those changes has previously been disclosed. Like I said: No surprises.

New iPod Touch offers a cheap entry-level iOS device for the enterprise – While many might consider Apple’s iPod Touch to be a kid’s toy, the inexpensive, Wi-Fi-only device with no cellular data capabilities could be the perfect product for businesses looking to roll out custom iPhone apps to their employees. With the cheapest iPhones costing around $500, the ability to pick up an iPod Touch (starting at $200 for a 16 GB model) makes for some interesting possibilities. Here are the details on the new model.


Image: Apple

Twitter Unveils New Dashboard To Help Users Monitor Their Data – Twitter just released a new dashboard to help users keep an eye out on how their data is being accessed by third-party apps and other services. The dashboard, available in settings, allows users to review their log-in history and see devices that they are currently connected on. Users are also able to see the activity of apps that they have allowed access to their account.

Facebook tests buy button on Pages to help small businesses sell you stuff – If it seems like every social network wants you to buy more stuff, well, you’re not completely off-base. Now those efforts are moving beyond ads into actual buy buttons, with Pinterest and Twitter piloting efforts to let you buy items straight from your main feed. Facebook is putting its own spin on the shoppable social network by turning Facebook Pages into their own storefronts.


Facebook is already using buy buttons in your News Feed, but its new initiative is a little different.

Stop others from copying, printing shared Google Drive files – Google Drive allows you to easily share documents, spreadsheets or media files with friends or coworkers. However, the list of options for how you share something has always been a bit too brief, only including the abilities to view or edit. Now there’s two new options for locking down your files, and here’s how to use them:

10 new keyboard shortcuts in Windows 10 – A couple of Windows 10’s new features, such as Snap Assist (OK, not really new, but improved) and virtual desktops are useful — and even more useful when you use them with keyboard shortcuts. Here are 10 keyboard shortcuts you’ll need to learn if you want to be able to navigate Windows 10 with ease:

Seven must-read Windows 10 deployment tips for net admins – System requirements, driver compatibility, and update branches are just some of the factors to consider prior to a Windows 10 deploy.

Get Your Prescription Meds Delivered On-Demand With Zipdrug – Just launched in NYC, Zipdrug is a on-demand prescription drug delivery service that will bring you your meds with the tap of a button. The first time users boot up the app they are prompted to enter the pharmacy where their prescription has been sent by their doctor, as well as payment and insurance information. The company then dispatches messengers to pick up your medicine, all of which have been through a background check, drug screening, and a HIPAA awareness course. All pharmacy payments are handled by Zipdrugs, so your card is just charged the cost of the medications after insurance deductions, plus a $10 delivery fee.


Alternative is the question, Linux is the answer – Jack Wallen has seen a huge rise in the amount of a single question coming into his inbox. Those asking the question will surprise you… the answer will not.


Workplace social and email disruption costs US companies $300 billion – Sapience has created a “Big Brother” like technology to monitor, help and show employees how to use their time more effectively in the workplace.

Reddit’s new content policy: bullies and more prohibited – Reddit promised that changes were coming, and now those changes are here. In a post today, the site’s back-again CEO Steve Huffman detailed some additional content restrictions the company is considering, and though they aren’t too restrictive they will spell the end to a variety of subreddits — some obscure, others well-known. Talking about illegal activities, for example, is still okay but posting illegal things is not. Bullying subreddits, too, are on the chopping block.


Windows 10 updates to be automatic and mandatory for Home users – Windows Update can’t be readily disabled in Windows 10 Home, and the license terms that all users must agree to allow Microsoft to install updates automatically. The Insider Preview releases of Windows 10 didn’t include any way to prevent Windows Update from downloading and installing updates, but it wasn’t clear if this was just some quirk of the previews, or the long-term plan; Microsoft’s previews often have special rules for things like providing automated feedback and hooking up online services, and so this could have been part of that. While inevitably someone will figure out how to disable Windows Update and block the updates, for the most part this change means that home users of Windows 10 are always going to be running both the most secure version, and the version with the most features.

Dozens of phone apps with 300M downloads vulnerable to password cracking – Smartphone apps from Walmart, CNN, ESPN, and dozens of other organizations put user accounts at risk of compromise because they allow attackers to make an unlimited number of login attempts, according to recently published research. Until last September, Apple’s iCloud service failed to limit the number of login attempts to that service, a shortcoming that may have contributed to last year’s mass celebrity hack and nude photo thefts.

Chrome Will Soon Show More “Safe Browsing” Malware Warnings Than Ever Before – Depending on your surfing habits, chances are you’ve come across a warning in Chrome that tells you that it’s probably safer not to proceed to whatever site you wanted to look at. That’s Google’s Safe Browsing technology at work, and over the next few weeks, the company plans to roll out a number of improvements to this service. This means you’ll see more Safe Browsing warnings than ever before, simply because Google has become better at finding sites that harbor malware, unwanted software and phishing attacks.


LogDog Is A Mobile App That Helps Protect Your Online Accounts From Being Hacked – By some estimates as many as 1 in 4 people claim to have had one of their online accounts hacked, something that Israeli startup LogDog is on a mission to help stop. It offers a mobile app (currently Android, with iOS to follow soon) that promises to monitor an array of online accounts for suspicious login or attempted login activity. It does this, in part, by building a profile of your usual log in parameters, such as sign-in locations, times, and device types, and then alerts you of any suspicious activity. It’s then up to you whether or not to change the password for that particular account, ignore the attempt or, in the case of a false-positive, tell LogDog that it was in fact you.

Oracle fixes zero-day Java flaw and over 190 other vulnerabilities – Go ahead and update Java — or disable it if you don’t remember the last time you actually used it on the Web. Oracle’s latest patch, released Tuesday, fixes 25 vulnerabilities in the aging platform, including one that’s already being exploited in attacks. In addition to Java, Oracle also updated a wide range of other products, fixing a total of 193 vulnerabilities, 44 stemming from third-party components.

Verizon launches managed security service – Verizon’s enterprise unit said it has launched a managed security service aimed at businesses of all sizes. Today, the service is delivered via an appliance with a cloud offering on deck.

Company News:

YouTube and mobile ads drove strong revenue growth for Google last quarter – Google just released its financials for Q2 2015, the first such release the company is making under the guidance of new CFO Ruth Porat. The company made revenues of $17.7 billion, an 11 percent year-over-year increase. While Google’s still growing, things have slowed a bit since last year, though — in Q2 2014, the company increased revenue 22 percent over the previous year. As usual, advertising is what is making Google money; total advertising revenue of $16 billion was also up 11 percent over the prior year, but Google’s small “other revenues” category grew 17 percent over Q2 2014.

Netflix Hits Record High — Again – After reporting strong subscription growth and better-than-expected second-quarter profit, Netflix went on a tear today, spiking around 18 percent in regular trading. The company is also up after hours. It’s been a very busy week for Netflix, which managed an earlier record high ahead of its stock split and earnings. Off the back of that, Netflix cut its shares into sevenths, lowering its price to the roughly $100 mark. Then it rocked the earnings report and took flight. Netflix ended the day worth $49.51 billion, or roughly as much as Uber.


Intel profit falls as PC slump continues – Intel’s revenue and profit both dropped last quarter as people held off on buying new PCs ahead of the Windows 10 launch later this year. Revenue from Intel’s Client Computing Group, which sells processors for desktops, laptops and smartphones, fell 14 percent from this time last year to $7.5 billion, the chip maker said Wednesday. Its Data Center Group, which makes the Xeon server processors, performed better, but not well enough to offset the ongoing slump in the PC industry. Intel’s total revenue for the quarter ended June 27 was $13.2 billion, down 5 percent from a year earlier. Net income was $2.7 billion, down 3 percent.

Huawei granted approval to make handsets in India: Report – Huawei Technologies has recently been granted a key approval from the Indian government that paves way for the Chinese telecom giant to make handsets in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for phones.

Huawei injects AU$30m into Sydney training centre – Huawei will be opening a training and development centre in Sydney to educate staff, customers, and students on its latest technologies.

Toshiba overstated profits, CEO and board members might have to resign – A Reuters report claims that Toshiba overstated profits for the past six years to the tune of 170 billion yen – or $1.37 billion. A third party probe into the accounts of the multinational have revealed these and more write-downs over the past six years and will result in as much as $2.4-3.2 billion in fines. The government is also investigating whether top officials were involved and is expected to publicize its findings in the next week. If proven guilty, as many as half the members of the board, including Vice President Norio Sasaki, may be sacked. Regardless of the decision, CEO Hisao Tanaka will likely be forced to step down in the wake of the scandal.

Jolla signs up India’s Intex as first Sailfish OS licensee – Jolla, the Finnish developer of an Android alternative, has signed Indian smartphone vendor Intex Technologies as the first licensee for its Sailfish OS. The company also announced Thursday at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai that its new Sailfish OS 2.0 is now available for licensing with a scalable 4G LTE reference platform. Jolla is talking to a number of potential partners but the first licensee so far is Intex, which will aim to make an affordable phone at a price around rupees 10,000 (US$158), company spokesman Juhani Lassila said Thursday.

BitTorrent teams with Onehub for ‘hybrid’ enterprise file-sharing service – BitTorrent has long billed its Sync file-sharing service as a peer-to-peer alternative to cloud storage, but on Wednesday the company announced it’s working with Onehub on a new, combined offering for large businesses. Onehub Sync integrates BitTorrent Sync into Onehub’s online file-storage service through what the two companies call a hybrid, peer-to-peer+one approach. The result combines the benefits of syncing directly between peers with using Onehub as a “persistent peer” that’s always available in the cloud.

European Commission opens antitrust investigations against Qualcomm—again – The European Commission has opened two formal antitrust investigations against the US company Qualcomm concerning possible “abusive behaviour” in the field of baseband chipsets used in consumer electronic devices. The first investigation will examine whether the company abused its dominant market position by offering financial incentives to customers on the condition that they buy baseband chipsets exclusively, or almost exclusively, from Qualcomm. The second will explore whether it used “predatory pricing”—that is, charged prices below costs in order to drive competitors from the market.

Games and Entertainment:

A gamer’s guide to online security – Trend Micro has a handy security checklist for gamers, including tips that are useful for any online account, like not sharing your passwords and not giving account info to phishers. But here are four especially important security tips for gamers: protecting your primary email address, signing up for two-factor authentication, guarding your credit card info, and avoiding links to fake websites.

10 Mobile Games to Keep Your Mind Sharp – If you’re going to be staring at your screen, why not do something that could maybe make you smarter? You don’t learn anything from Flappy Bird except new ways to combine profanity. Numerous researchers have been exploring the possibility of using “gamification” to make learning and training easier, and the fruits of their labors are all over the App Store. Check out the slideshow for 10 games that will get that old gray matter pumping and amp up your mental abilities.


Eidetic – Eidetic is a fascinating app that uses some interesting mental principles to help you remember anything. Using “spaced repetition,” the app asks you to select a piece of information that you want to store, then interrupts you at irregular intervals to quiz you on it.

Angry Birds 2 is coming on July 30th – Finnish game developer Rovio has just announced that there’s an Angry Birds 2 in the works, and that it’s coming very soon: the game is set to launch on July 30th for unspecified mobile devices. Aside from the date, though, we don’t have very much information on the game. Rovio says that it will be “the mother of all sequels,” but there are no gameplay details, screenshots, or teaser trailers to get excited about. The one piece of promotional art shows a familiar cast of birds.


‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ for PC Borked Until September – If you were expecting a two-day patch, or even a two-week patch, then you’re going to be disappointed. Unlike some other botched PC game releases—here’s looking at you, Mortal Kombat X—fixing up the disastrous launch of Arkham Knight looks like it might be a multi-month affair. The game debuted on June 23 and, according to some leaked documents obtained by Kotaku, it’s possible that the game won’t be fixed on the PC until September at the earliest.


HBO Now moves beyond Apple, arrives on Android and Amazon devices – Three months ago, HBO made its programming available to consumers without a cable subscription, selling a streaming service called HBO Now on Apple devices. Today the exclusivity with Apple expired, rolling out to anyone with an Android phone or tablet or an Amazon Fire tablet. The price remains the same, at $14.99 a month, and HBO says users should expect it to soon be available across all the devices you can use for HBO Go, including Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV.

Goat Simulator arrives on PlayStation next month – Coffee Stain Studios has announced that its Goat Simulator, the fun game where people play as goats, will be arriving on Sony’s gaming consoles soon. Mark South of developer Double Eleven made the announcement today, saying that after collaborating with the studio the game will be launching for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 on August 11. The PlayStation versions of Goat Similar are going to be special, however, including a bit of extra fun that other versions haven’t had.

Showtime streaming explained: What you get, and how you can get it – Following the footsteps of rival HBO, Showtime now offers a standalone service with no pay-TV subscription required. Here’s what you need to know.


Buy a PS4 or Xbox One, Get $100 Gift Card – For just $399.99, you can grab a PS4 with a copy of The Last of Us Remastered. And once you receive your $100 gift card, you can use it to get Batman: Arkham Knight and inFamous: Second Son at no additional cost. Prefer Microsoft’s platform? Right now, you can get an Xbox One with a copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection for $349.99. With your included gift card, you can also nab The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Sunset Overdrive to boot.

Gears of War 3 now free on Xbox Live – Now that it’s July 16, new Xbox One and Xbox 360 games are available for free on Xbox Live as part of Microsoft’s Games With Gold promotion. Xbox One owners can pick up the puzzle-platformer So Many Me (normally $15), while Xbox 360 users can download a free copy of Epic Games’ 2011 sci-fi shooter Gears of War 3 (normally $20). An Xbox Live Gold subscription is required to get the free games.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cop stops woman for allegedly using cell phone, ends up saving her life – Technically Incorrect: A cop believes a driver is talking on her phone. When he pulls her over, she’s clutching her throat because she’s choking on food.


State of the art: $20,000, 1 megapixel. This is what digital cameras were like in 1995 – Flash back to 20 years ago, when photography was just entering the digital realm. This episode of CNET Central from the summer of 1995 features the “B-2 Stealth Bomber” of digital cameras, a Fuji X/Nikon hybrid. Roughly the size of a volleyball, this camera packed 1.3 megapixels and a removable 131 MB card capable of storing 70 images, all for $20,000 or (equivalent to $31,000 in 2015).

wps_clip_image-8082 Welcomes AncestryHealth To The Family – launched in the early 80’s and went public in 2009. It is now the largest genealogical database in the world, holding more than 16 billion family history records from all over the world and more than 70 million user created family trees. The company saw an opportunity in consumer genetic testing similar to 23andMe three years ago and launched AncestryDNA as a subsidiary of Ancestry’s patented algorithm began matching users to relatives as well as DNA matches to ancestors as far back as the 1700’s. The company is now taking those family connections a step further with the introduction of generational health information.


Lack of sleep makes it harder to read people’s faces – Did you ever have one of those days at work when you thought everyone was out to get you? It may have had nothing to do with the weak coffee from the break room or your delusional mind. Your brain just probably needed a nap. A new study out of the University of California at Berkeley suggests that sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to recognize facial cues that indicate another person’s emotions and reactions, researchers said in a statement this week. A paper about their study was published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience.


Having trouble reading these faces? Then get some sleep!

Gert Germeraad/Wikimedia

Something to think about:

If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable. - Louis D. Brandeis

Today’s Free Downloads:

BCUninstaller – BCUninstaller (or “Bulk Crap Uninstaller”) is a free program uninstaller. It is focused on removing large amounts of applications at once, in a small amount of time.

Uninstall any number of programs at once

Quiet (unattended) uninstall of many programs

Intelligent ordering of uninstallers in large tasks

Detection and clean up of leftovers after uninstalling applications

Uninstall lists (automatically select uninstallers from the list, can be edited in a text editor)

Advanced grouping and sorting

Filtering and searching

Editing tools and visibility of protected and invalid entries

Fully portable, requires Net 3.5 which is installed on all Windows 7 machines

Automatic error reporting and updating

And many more time-saving features…


Ginger – Ginger Proofreader, the first product to be released based on the NLP platform, is a free spelling and grammar checker, intended for both speakers of English as their mother tongue, and English as a second language (ESL). Ginger Proofreader checks and corrects spelling mistakes, misused words, and corrects grammar mistakes, based on the context of the full sentence. Even when a word is spelled correctly, Ginger Proofreader checks grammar to see whether it makes sense in the sentence, and offers alternatives to the word.

Ginger Proofreader can also be used seamlessly by users writing documents, presentations, and emails, in MS-Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, IE, Firefox, and Chrome, enabling them to correct words in the sentence with a single click.


Ginger Proofreader is integrated with MS Office ® and with all major browsers

Contextual grammar and spell checking

Ginger Proofreader identifies and marks both spelling and grammar mistakes while considering their context

Corrects as you type or scans entire documents

Audacity – Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder. The interface is translated into many languages.

You can use Audacity to:

Record live audio.

Record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine.

Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.

Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files.

Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.

Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

And more!

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Why government-mandated encryption backdoors are bad for US businesses – A group of 11 computer scientists and encryption experts breathed a little easier in January 2015 when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) proposed the retirement of six Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), including FIPS-185. The 11 experts were instrumental in this standard’s demise.

More commonly known as the Clipper Chip, FIPS-185 is an encryption implementation created by the NSA that included a backdoor to allow electronic surveillance by law-enforcement agencies. Soon after FIPS-185 was announced in 1997, the 11 experts coauthored a report detailing the issues and lack of transparency with FIPS-185 (PDF). “The deployment of key-recovery-based encryption infrastructures to meet law enforcement’s stated specifications will result in substantial sacrifices in security and greatly increased costs to the end user.”

Abbott appoints new spy overseer – Former Federal Court Justice Margaret Stone will soon be responsible for overseeing Australia’s peak security intelligence agencies, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Thursday.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) oversees the work conducted by six spy agencies in Australia: The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO), Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), and Office of National Assessments (ONA).

While much of the work of these organisations — such as the metadata accessed by ASIO — remains a secret, IGIS is responsible for ensuring that these agencies are acting legally within government guidelines and with respect for human rights.

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