Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 3, 2015

How to upgrade to Windows 10 without waiting in line;  How to protect your wireless network from Wi-Fi Sense;  25 Apps for the Tech-Savvy Teacher;  How to block a phone number on your Android phone;  7 Router Features You Should Be Using for Better Wi-Fi;  GTA 5 becomes an RPG with this new mod;  Hacker steals Bitdefender customer log-in credentials;  Faster booting, smaller footprint make Windows 10 an easy upgrade for old PCs;  How to do a clean install of Windows 10;  12 Things You Can Replace With a $38 Tablet;  Drawing Lessons From July’s Jeep Hack;  Batch forward emails with Multi Forward for Gmail;  How to use Facebook’s new Security Checkup feature;  1.4m Fiat Chrysler radio hack recall may be tip of iceberg;  Google instant translation app adds 20 new languages;  Game of Thrones S5 downloads arrive early on August 31;  Nvidia Shield Tablets Recalled Over Fire Concerns;  Why India’s IT firms are retraining masses of employees;  U.S. District Judge rules mobile-phone tracking does require a warrant.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to upgrade to Windows 10 without waiting in line – Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade is rolling out to millions of PCs worldwide. 14 million machines are now running Windows 10, but are you still waiting for your upgrade notification? If so, there’s an easy way to avoid the line and download Windows 10 and upgrade straight away.

How to do a clean install of Windows 10 – If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you can install Microsoft’s new Windows 10 OS completely for free. If you choose to follow this method Windows 10 will bring along all of your data, apps and most of your system settings from your older OS. Which can adversely affect performance. This post will show you how to change that and get a clean install of Windows 10 onto your computer. This is possible to do both after you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 and before, when your computer still runs Windows 7 or 8.

Faster booting, smaller footprint make Windows 10 an easy upgrade for old PCs – If you bought an eligible PC in Windows 7’s heyday, you will probably be installing the new OS on five- or six-year-old hardware that has long since been forgotten about by the company that sold it to you. Or maybe you bought something during the post-Chromebook era, where Windows PCs dipped back into netbook territory in their quest for a low price tag. We installed Windows 10 on a few of these kinds of systems to see what you can expect, at least if you’re comparing a clean install to a clean install. Current users of both Windows 7 and Windows 8 should expect to recover a few gigabytes of drive space, a few megabytes of system RAM, and a few precious seconds of boot time.

Windows 10 superguide: Everything you need to know – After months of teasing, testing, and technical previews, Windows 10 is finally here, and it’s one of the best operating systems Microsoft’s ever released. Windows 10 weaves together the best parts of Windows 7 and Windows 8, adds a dash of compelling features, then gives it all away for free to current Windows 7 and 8 users. And yes, the Start menu is back.

25 Apps for the Tech-Savvy Teacher – This collection includes mobile apps that specifically target teachers and school leaders, from grading and taking attendance to simplifying presentations or perfecting their use of the whiteboard. For more, we’d recommend edshelf, an online repository of digital tools for teachers. Until then, dive into our slideshow of the apps you should be downloading to take your teaching to the next level.

This App Shows How Climate Change Is Affecting the World Around You – You’ve heard about what climate change is doing the arctic and to the sea levels around the world. But sometimes it can be hard to understand what’s happening in your own backyard. A new app called Field Notes shows you just that. The free app, manufactured by tech mapping company Esri, is part of a broader effort by the company to put data about people, climate and geography at your fingertips.

How to block a phone number on your Android phone – After about the twentieth time that telemarketer bugs you with an “incredible deal” you’re probably ready to throw your phone out the window. There’s a better way. With just a few steps you can banish that caller from contacting you forever. Here’s how to do it. As a caveat, your specific dialer may look different or have some of the options placed elsewhere depending on which device you have. By and large, however, the process is pretty similar.

7 Router Features You Should Be Using for Better Wi-Fi – Only a few years ago, wireless routers were relatively dumb devices that merely beamed the Web into your home or office and not much more. Now, they offer everything from support for multiple wireless frequencies to mobile-management tools. And forget the painful setup: The best routers boast a much higher level of default intelligence, making it simpler than ever to configure and use more advanced features. Many functions that once required significant networking know-how can now be properly set up with the click of a mouse. With that in mind, here are seven features found in most advanced wireless routers that are well worth the time and effort to configure and use.

Batch forward emails with Multi Forward for Gmail – Need to forward a bunch of emails? This Chrome extension lets you perform such a maneuver with ease and alacrity.


Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

12 Things You Can Replace With a $38 Tablet – If you’ve ever operated an iPad, you’ll be fantastically disappointed by the 7Ci. Let us not dwell on what the 7Ci can’t do, let’s consider what it can do! It’s still a flat touch-screen device that can connect to the Internet and run apps—which means it’s not just a tablet, it’s a clock, camera, pedometer, guitar tuner, or just about anything we want it to be. And that’s where things get interesting—we can use this slate to replace all the things in our lives. While you wouldn’t want to waste a $400 iPad as a wall clock, you wouldn’t really think about it for a $38 7Ci. Here are 12 things around the house and office we were able to replace with the 7Ci.

Google instant translation app adds 20 new languages – If you’re heading over to the Czech republic any time soon, you wont have to worry about figuring out which sign says “ladies” or “gentlemen”. Google just added Czech, Slovak, and 18 other languages to their translation app. It really broadens the scope of the program, which started out with the ability to translate to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and of course, English. Though Google boats that a total of 90 languages are supported in the app, only 37 of them are available for picture mode translations.


How to use Facebook’s new Security Checkup feature – The new feature is in the process of rolling out to all user accounts, but if you visit this webpage you can try to access the new security check feature right now. Otherwise you can wait until you are prompted when you log in on a desktop, don’t worry — eventually you will have access to the feature. The process itself only takes a few minutes of your time, and is well worth it (especially if you use a lot of apps or are in the habit of logging into your account using random computers). As you go through the process, simply click on each section title to view relevant links and information.


How to protect your wireless network from Wi-Fi Sense – If the recent controversy over Windows 10’s Wi-Fi Sense feature has you concerned about wireless security, good. In this post, I explain why wireless security is as much social as it is technological, and suggest four ways to make your wireless network safer.

New attack on Tor can deanonymize hidden services with surprising accuracy – Computer scientists have devised an attack on the Tor privacy network that in certain cases allows them to deanonymize hidden service websites with 88 percent accuracy. Such hidden services allow people to host websites without end users or anyone else knowing the true IP address of the service. The deanonymization requires the adversary to control the Tor entry point for the computer hosting the hidden service. It also requires the attacker to have previously collected unique network characteristics that can serve as a fingerprint for that particular service. Tor officials say the requirements reduce the effectiveness of the attack. Still, the new research underscores the limits to anonymity on Tor, which journalists, activists, and criminals alike rely on to evade online surveillance and monitoring.

Hacker steals Bitdefender customer log-in credentials, attempts blackmail – A hacker extracted customer log-in credentials from a server owned by Bitdefender that hosted the cloud-based management dashboards for its small and medium-size business clients. The antivirus company confirmed the security breach but said in an emailed statement that the attack affected less than 1 percent of its SMB customers, whose passwords have since been reset. Consumer and enterprise customers were not affected, the company said. The hacker, who uses the online alias DetoxRansome, first bragged about the breach on Twitter Saturday and later messaged Bitdefender threatening to release the company’s “customer base” unless he was paid $15,000.

Globalstar GPS network (allegedly) vulnerable to hackers – Researcher Colby Moore will be presenting findings related to a security issue with the Globalstar satellite network at Black Hat in Las Vegas next week. The researcher found that devices using the Globalstar network reportedly can be fed false data or have their data transmissions intercepted. The type of system Globalstar reportedly uses is “kind of fundamentally broken from the get-go,” according to Moore. That’s not the end of its problems, however.

1.4m Fiat Chrysler radio hack recall may be tip of iceberg – Fiat Chrysler’s hackable infotainment may be the tip of the iceberg, with safety regulators broadening investigations to see if other automakers are at risk. While Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4m Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler vehicles after a flaw in its Uconnect system – potentially allowing hackers to access the dashboard systems while the car is moving – was identified, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now requested further data from infotainment provider Harman Kardon, with an estimated 2.8m systems now under the microscope.


Drawing Lessons From July’s Jeep Hack – If you were anywhere near the internet in late July, you probably read the news: Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, two security researchers who specialize in hacking cars, figured out how to remotely take control of a Jeep. They didn’t just take control of the vehicle from ten miles away— the hacking duo exploited a software flaw that shut down the Jeep’s engine while Wired’s Andy Greenberg was driving it. On a busy stretch of public highway where cars whizzed by at 60+ miles per hour. Without a shoulder or emergency pull off lane. “THEY DID WHAAAAAAAAT?” most of the internet asked, mouths agape while watching the video proof that this was all possible.

Company News:

Mozilla CEO slams Microsoft over Windows 10 browser defaults – In an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard accuses Microsoft of hobbling users’ browser choices by making Edge the default browser in the next generation of its operating system and called on the tech giant to reverse what he called an “aggressive move to override user choice.” While noting that it was still technically possible to preserve users’ browser settings, Beard charged that the default setting changes have made the option less obvious.

Google defies France over making right to be forgotten global – The search engine has rejected an order by the French data protection watchdog to apply the right to be forgotten to all its domains, including those outside Europe.

Microsoft reportedly investing in Uber at a $50 billion valuation – If it seems like Uber is working on another new round of funding, that is because Uber is always working on another new round of funding. Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that the company has closed a new investment which values it at $50 billion, and also includes Microsoft as a backer. The round gave Uber another $1 billion, putting its total funding at $5 billion. Uber’s endless appetite for cash is driven by its equally ambitious plans for expansion. It is currently active in over 50 countries and 300 cities around the globe. It is hiring drivers and adding cars at a rapid pace in all these territories, while also spending considerable amounts on political lobbying and legal battles with regulators.

Microsoft bests Google in patent case appeal – A federal appeals court has handed Microsoft a win against Google in a long-running lawsuit over patent licensing that was originally filed against Motorola in 2010. A panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling that set a licensing rate for some patents owned by Motorola that was significantly lower than the company had originally asked for.

Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpelès arrested in Japan for alleged fraud – Mt. Gox. That’s a name you probably never imagined, or wished, hearing again after all this time. Good thing that this is more about its CEO Mark Karpelès. Sadly, it might actually still be linked with the scandal that rocked the Bitcoin world early last year. In Japan, Karpelès was arrested on the grounds that he allegedly manipulated the company’s computer systems to add $1 million to his balance, at a time when Mt. Gox has filed for bankruptcy because of its inability to pay back its customers.

Yahoo Will Acquire Fashion Startup Polyvore – In a blog post about the deal, Yahoo’s senior vice president of publisher products Simon Khalaf highlighted “Polyvore’s expertise on community-driven experiences and retailer-supported commerce” and wrote that the deal “will accelerate Yahoo’s digital content growth strategy across the areas of social, mobile and native.” Khalaf also said the Polyvore team will be joining Yahoo and working out of the company’s offices in Sunnyvale, San Francisco and New York, with co-founder and CEO Jess Lee reporting directly to him.

Games and Entertainment:

Nvidia Shield Tablets Recalled Over Fire Concerns – Nvidia is conducting a voluntary recall of its Shield 8-inch tablets sold between July 2014 and 2015. According to the manufacturer, the battery can overheat and pose a fire hazard. Owners of the recalled device should stop using their tablet—except to back up data. Details on how to get a replacement device can be found online.


Game of Thrones S5 downloads arrive early on August 31 – Game of Thrones stands chief among all shows, at least when you look at how many people are pirating it. That piracy was aided by early leaks of season 5 episodes, and all in all HBO is scrambling to squeeze some pocket change from those Internet rebels. As such, it isn’t surprising HBO has decided to launch the digital downloads for season 5 before it releases the Blu-ray and DVD versions (though the network probably won’t cry if you pre-order them anyway). Downloads start next month.

High-quality movies and TV shows hit HBO, iTunes in August – HBO Now is available on more platforms than ever and it’s bringing Oscar winners “Birdman” and “The Theory of Everything”. Meanwhile, Apple’s bringing home the Bacon (Kevin) in “Cop Car” and other first-run movies.

GTA 5 becomes an RPG with this new mod – Grand Theft Auto V is a huge, sprawling, entertaining action game, but it does not have very many RPG elements. One modder has decided to change that, and is creating a mod that turns GTA V into a role-playing game. User LogicSpawn is working the mod, which is called GTA V: RPG, and the modder’s adding skill trees, looting systems, and a whole bunch of other tweaks to the game. This includes a system of relationships with characters in the game. You’ll be able to talk to and befriend NPCs, who can affect the way the game plays out. You can watch the trailer for the mod below (warning: some strong language).


Netflix changes ‘Fuller House’ plot to make it less depressing – Netflix, in what may be one of its more misguided reboots, has decided to bring back the 90s family-friendly television show Full House as a continuation of the original series. As we’d previously heard, it will feature some of the original cast, with the then-kids now being the show’s adults going through life’s mild follies and saccharine sweet learning moments. If you paid attention to the original announcement, you probably noticed something important: the storyline sounded really depressing. It seems Netflix noticed too, and it has done something about it.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Man finds iPhone that fell from airplane –  Ben Wilson can be forgiven for thinking his iPhone was gone for good after it fell 9,300 feet (2,835 meters) from a Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft. But the missing phone kept on ticking, not only reporting its location but providing a map so Wilson could find it. “It was by the side of the road south of Jacksboro, under a mesquite tree,” Wilson told the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas. “The donkey pointed out where it was.”

Machine Learning And Human Bias: An Uneasy Pair – Any program designed to predict, manipulate and display racial categories must operationalize them both for internal processing and for human consumption. Machine learning is one of the most effective frameworks for doing so because machine learning programs learn from human-provided examples rather than explicit rules and heuristics.


Why India’s IT firms are retraining masses of employees – Rolling out new modules to coach employees, re-skilling, and retraining were never alien to India’s IT services firms, which have continually demonstrated their ability to weather the many industry changes. This time around, the training exercises are necessitated by digital technologies but could point to a deeper shift for the $146 billion-in-revenues industry. Earlier this month, India’s largest IT services firm, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), said it would train 100,000 employees — about a third of its workforce — in digital technologies this year alone.

America proves too tough for hitchhiking robot after vandals end cross-country trip – It seems the tough streets of Philadelphia were too much for a friendly little robot from Ontario. All the Hitchbot wanted to do was see the United States. But just two weeks after starting its cross-country journey in Boston, Hitchbot’s trip has come to an unfortunate end. Last night, the cute little robot was vandalized and apparently decapitated in the city of brotherly love. This wasn’t Hitchbot’s first trip, either. Last year the robot successfully travelled across Canada, and in the past it’s made it across Germany and the Netherlands as well. The Americans, it turns out, have proved not quite so friendly to our metallic cousins.


Something to think about:

“There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.”

–      Napoleon Bonaparte

Today’s Free Downloads:

DETEKT – Detekt is a free tool that scans your Windows computer for traces of FinFisher and Hacking Team RCS, commercial surveillance spyware that has been identified to be also used to target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world.

Please beware that Detekt is a best effort tool. While it may have been effective in previous investigations, it does not provide a conclusive guarantee that your computer is not compromised by the spyware it aims to detect. The tool is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees of any kind.


Free Gmail Backup – Why backup Gmail?

    Your account can be hacked

    Your account can be disabled

    Email is deleted due to a user error

    Gmail can be a subject to an outage

    Program error can erase some of your content

    The internet connection many be unavailable

    You can overrun Gmail storage quota

    Your account is infected by a virus

Easy installation and configuration – You don’t need to enter any credentials to your Gmail account: instead you simply signing in with google.

Incrementally backup Gmail account – Every time you run backup it downloads only new emails.

Archiving – Save all your emails together with attachements locally and delete them from Gmail account

Full backup history – See the full backup history.

Preview backup messages – You can see backed up email messages in Backup View dialog: read text, view attachments.

Restore selected messages – Select one or several messages to restore them.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

White House will not force FBI to get a warrant for email data – The Obama administration will not force federal agencies to get a warrant to access older emails, despite a growing effort from lawmakers and the public alike to change the law.

As the law stands, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) allows federal agencies to access opened email data older than six months with a subpoena. Anything under the six-month period still requires a warrant. The law has not been updated since it was first enacted in 1986, failing to account for technological developments like limitless online storage.

Following a heavy backlog, the White House responded Tuesday to a 2013 petition, signed by 113,035 people, demanding that federal agencies including the FBI and the IRS “get a warrant” before accessing email content.

In its response, the White House said that although it agrees the law is “outdated” and “should be reformed,” the administration deferred responsibility to Congress for failing to act sooner.

U.S. District Judge rules mobile-phone tracking does require a warrant – In May, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that cops don’t need a warrant to grab carrier cell-phone records. Not quite three months later, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California, ruled police must obtain a search warrant to seize your mobile-phone records.

So, what does this mean? It means that sooner or later the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will have to decide if the cops can track where you’ve been by your phone. Still, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) would argue that Koh’s decision is the more telling one. That’s because, Hanni Fakhoury, EFF Senior Staff Attorney, argued, the Eleventh Circuit was “based on old cases considering analog-era technology and hardly settles the question.”

In Koh’s case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Schenk has argued that cell phone users who are concerned about their privacy could either not carry phones or turn them off.

NSA report shows China hacked 600+ US targets over 5 years – NBC has released a 2014 slide from a secret NSA Threat Operations Center (NTOC) briefing—a map that shows the locations of “every single successful computer intrusion” by Chinese state-sponsored hackers over a five-year period. More than 600 US businesses and institutions were breached during that period.

The slide was provided to NBC by an unnamed “intelligence source,” who said the briefing “highlighted China’s interest in Google and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, and in air traffic control systems… [and] catalogued the documents and data Chinese government hackers have exfiltrated,” the network reported.

The report suggests that the NSA has been tracking Chinese cyber-attacks for years and that its own network surveillance of China gives the agency the ability to correlate those attacks with specific sources. The briefing shown to NBC listed locations for the sources of each of the “exploitations and attacks,” NBC reported.

The leak, coincidentally, comes as the leadership of the NSA and Department of Defense continues to lobby for the creation of a “cyber-deterrent”—a network attack capability that could be used to launch a massive and crippling computer and network attack against any adversary who launched an attack on US networks. In a speech before the Aspen Security Forum last week, NSA Director and US Cyber Command head Admiral Mike Rogers warned, “If we do nothing, then one of the potential unintended consequences of this could be, does this send a signal to other nation states, other groups, other actors that this kind of behavior is OK and that you can do this without generating any kind of response?”


Federal Court’s data breach decision shows new tilt toward victims, class-action lawsuits – Federal courts historically have been quick to dismiss plaintiff claims of on-going harm when their data is snatched in a breach, but a crack is appearing in that logic that could change how liability is gauged for hacked corporations and fuel class-action lawsuits against those companies.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit began to question the depth of on-going harm to victims by overturning a district court that had tossed a class-action lawsuit against Neiman Marcus over a 2014 data breach. The Court said victims had “standing,” a right to file a lawsuit in federal court, over concerns of on-going problems.

“The court likened the case to a recent data breach involving Adobe, wherein the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California declared that ‘the risk that Plaintiffs’ personal data will be misused by the hackers who breached Adobe’s network is immediate and very real,’ ” lawyers from Ballard Spahr, a national law firm based in Philadelphia, wrote in a review of the ruling.

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