Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 10, 2015

Want to be totally secure on the Internet? Good luck;  Windows 10’s privacy policy is the new normal;  You Can Shut Off Win 10’s Data Collection, But Should You?  Ten Tips and Tricks for Windows 10;  Back to school 2015: Student tech deals and discounts;  Two backups are better than one–if you do them right;  Here’s Why Email Puts You in a Nasty Mood;  How to install Windows 10 on your PC;  How to uninstall Windows 10 and go back to Windows 7 or 8;  Scan PCs for Security Problems? Nope, Scan the Users;  UK-Based Carphone Warehouse Hack Could Affect Up To 2.4M Customers;  Here are some of the best games for Android right now (pictures);  Are connected cars worth the risk?  Free Course: Hack yourself first (before the bad guys do);  Rand Paul And Chris Christie Spar Over NSA Surveillance;  These Companies Have the Best (And Worst) Privacy Policies.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Want to be totally secure on the Internet? Good luck – When it comes to being safe from hackers, we could all take steps to do better, myself included. Less than a month into my new job covering cybersecurity, my personal site was hacked because I had failed to update some forgotten software for two years. It was a glaring hole with an easy fix, but it got me thinking: What does it take to be completely secure? What would I need to do that I wouldn’t have to in order to never worry about hackers again? Is being completely secure even possible?

Windows 10’s privacy policy is the new normal – Windows 10, in normal usage and typical configurations, will send quite a lot of information to Microsoft. Windows 8, in normal usage and typical configurations, will also send quite a lot of information to Microsoft. On the other side of the fence, OS X, in normal usage and typical configurations, will send some information to Apple. It’s hard to imagine a modern day operating system that doesn’t do this, at least to some extent.

You Can Shut Off Win 10’s Data Collection, But Should You? – You can opt out of many of the parts of Windows 10 that give Microsoft a way to collect data, but doing so disables some of the operating system’s best new features. You could run a PC without a Microsoft account (something you can’t do on an Apple Mac or Google Chrome OS computer), for example, but then you wouldn’t get syncing with OneDrive or access to the Windows Store of apps. To use a Windows 10 PC without a Microsoft ID, you can use what the OS calls a “local account.” You can make that change in the Settings app’s Accounts page.

EFF launches Privacy Badger 1.0 browser extension – The EFF has launched a new browser extension that is designed to stop data collection via cookies and other hidden trackers when you surf the web. The new browser extension is called Privacy Badger 1.0 and it aims to keep you from being spied on as you surf the web. Privacy Badger has been available in alpha and beta forms for a while. Privacy Badger 1.0 will detect cookies and other techniques used to track you that results in you seeing ads while you surf the web that reflect web searches you made in the past. It works along with the Do Not Track policy announced by the EFF recently.

These Companies Have the Best (And Worst) Privacy Policies – In an effort to assess, exalt and shame some of the world’s leading tech companies for how they’ve presented privacy information to millions of users, TIME reached out to the Center for Plain Language. We asked the Center’s experts to judge and rank the privacy policies of seven tech companies that most consumers know. They did this on several levels, assessing everything from design and tone to how many words writers tried to pack into each sentence. They also examined the more subjective “spirit” of their policies. Does the policy, for instance, make it easy for people to limit the ways in which the company collects their personal information? Or are instructions about opting out obscured in the policy’s hinterlands with no hyperlinks?

Ten Tips and Tricks for Windows 10 – So Windows 10 has been out for more than a week and, if you were in any way immersed in Microsoft or Windows news, you probably are already aware of how it fared. Maybe you even read our hands-on after spending a week with the latest version of the most popular, or even unpopular operating system in the world. But if you’re just receiving the update now and are about to embark on the journey for yourself, what are the tools you need to bring? Where are the pit stops you need to make? Here are our top ten favorites.

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12 obscure new Windows 10 features that eliminate everyday hassles – The amount of new goodies in Windows 10 is almost mind-boggling. Even if you’ve read PCWorld’s insanely detailed Windows 10 review, our look at Windows 10’s best new features, and our mammoth guides to the operating system’s best tips and tricks and hidden features, you still haven’t seen everything Microsoft has to throw at you. Case in point: These 10 awesome new Windows 10 features that fly under the radar. Between these and virtual desktop support, Windows 10 renders a decent chunk of our list of free PC programs that ease headaches obsolete. Let’s dig in.

Windows 10 cumulative update causes ‘reboot loop’ havoc for some users – Microsoft’s first cumulative update for Windows 10 – KB3081424 – is causing havoc for some users. How do I know this? Because I spent a good part of my Sunday morning dealing with it, that’s how.

Back to school 2015: Student tech deals and discounts – Going to college doesn’t have to be expensive thanks to the range of deals offered by companies including Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.

5 handy Google Maps tips to make your commute or business trip easier – Google Maps could easily become one of your most faithful mobile tools… if you make use of a few lesser-known features. Jack Wallen shows you how.

Two backups are better than one–if you do them right – Backing up twice provides more protection than backing up once–but only if you don’t make the same mistakes twice.

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Five to Try: Microsoft Translator hits phones and watches, and Accomplish gets to-do tasks done – Games aside, this week’s top new Android apps are handy tools designed to help in very different ways. Microsoft Translator is a useful option for translating phrases between languages, and it one-ups Google’s option with Android Wear support. Meanwhile, Accomplish is designed to make sure your everyday to-do list tasks are actually worked into your schedule, while Genius saves you the hassle of searching through wonky song lyrics online. Scratch that off the to-do list, then!

BitTorrent Bleep update improves offline message security – In addition to its Sync 2.0 service, BitTorrent also has an offline messaging app called Bleep that allows users to, says the company, “chat privately. srsly.” Unlike other messaging apps, Bleep works straight from user-to-user, no in-between cloud storage to be seen. The benefit of this is security — as BitTorrent says, you don’t have to worry about the online data related to your account being hacked as there is no cloud. The security isn’t perfect, however, and so BitTorrent has pushed out an update.

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High barrier to entry? Busting this and 6 more myths about Linux – Jack Wallen finishes up his “barrier to entry” series for the Linux operating system by busting a few remaining myths surrounding the platform.

Ubuntu phone goes global, but you’ll get slow speeds in the US – After a long wait, Ubuntu phones became a reality this year. But now Linux fans outside of Europe and China will be able to try out the newcomer OS for the very first time. Spanish smartphone maker BQ has announced that it is now shipping its Aquarius E5 Ubuntu smartphone across the world. The E5 Ubuntu Edition has a fairly barebones set of specifications that matches its affordable €199.90 price tag. It has a 5-inch, 720 x 1280 display that’d be more at home on a top-tier smartphone from a few years ago. There’s also 1GB of RAM, 16GB of memory (thankfully upgradable thanks to its microSD card slot), and a 1.7GHz, quad-core Mediatek chip.

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How to install Windows 10 on your PC – You’ve read the review, pored through the tips and how-tos, and have waited breathlessly for the day that you can download Windows 10. So how do you do it, exactly? We’ve got you covered.

How to uninstall Windows 10 and go back to Windows 7 or 8 – To make life easier on Windows 7 and 8.1 converts, Microsoft will allow you to rollback your Windows 10 installation to the previous operating system for 30 days post-upgrade. Don’t worry—if you want to come back later, you can still take advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade for the next year. Keep in mind that downgrading to your older OS requires that you still have your Windows.old folder at C:\Windows.old. If you typically delete that after upgrading, or you’ve done a post-upgrade clean install of Windows 10, you’re out of luck.

Skylake Review: Intel’s 6th-gen CPU arrives with nice presents for gamers and enthusiasts – If you came into this review expecting Skylake to be “40 percent faster” than its predecessor in all things, like the rumors said, you’re already set up for disappointment. Well, don’t be. Skylake is indeed faster than Haswell, but despite the “tock” label, it’s still just an evolutionary step forward. Skylake isn’t just about the CPU, though—it’s an entire platform, and that’s where this 6th-gen part moves us forward.

FREE COURSE: Hack yourself first (before the bad guys do) – If you can’t think like a hacker, it’s difficult to defend against them. Such is the premise of this free, nine-part online course, presented by Computerworld and training company Pluralsight, about how to go on the cyber-offensive by using some of the same techniques and tools the bad guys do. (registration required)

Security:

Scan PCs for Security Problems? Nope, Scan the Users – To build a car, you need thousands of nuts, bolts, screws, and other components. Which of these is the most dangerous? According to an old joke, it’s the nut behind the wheel. The very best security system in the world will fail if a fast-talking stranger convinces you to turn it off. Penetration testers and security analysts scan for system vulnerabilities, and very effectively, too. Laura Bell, founder and lead consultant at SafeStack, explained to Black Hat attendees that we need to test the human side of security as well.

UK-Based Carphone Warehouse Hack Could Affect Up To 2.4M Customers – Today, UK-based mobile retailer Carphone Warehouse shared with its customers that it had been the subject of a “sophisticated” cyber attack, potentially laying bare the personal details of 2.4M of its customers. If that wasn’t bad enough, credit card information for upwards of 90,000 of those customers might be running out and about, too. The company found out about the attack last week, which affected its arm that runs the sites: OneStopPhoneShop.com, e2save.com and Mobiles.co.uk. The names, addresses and worst of all, bank details, “may” have been accessed. Which means it was, especially since the “attack” “may” have lasted for nearly two weeks.

Here’s How Hackers Steal Fingerprints From Your Phone – Fingerprint scans, retina prints, and even heart signatures are touted as security silver bullets. Hackers can guess your password, but they can’t guess your fingerprints, right? Not exactly. FireEye’s senior staff research scientist, Tao Wei, and fellow researcher Yulong Zhang took the stage at Black Hat in Las Vegtas to show all the ways they found to defeat fingerprint scanners on mobile phones.

Hacking For Cause: Today’s Growing Cyber Security Trend – What do the following data-breach headlines from the past year have in common? The Sony Pictures hack: Everything we know so far; Anonymous hackers release emails ordering bear cubs be killed; Hackers threaten to release names from adultery website … Connecting the dots yet?

Company News:

Apple’s App Store Saw $1.7B in Billings And Broke Customer Records In July – Perhaps to counter concerns over iPhone sales and China, Apple this week released numbers related to the App Store’s growth that demonstrate the very real impact China is having on its app ecosystem and developer community. The company said that, in July, it had its largest number of transacting customers with over $1.7 billion in billings. In addition, the same month broke records for China, too, which also saw the largest number of transacting customers, Apple said. To date, the company has paid out $33 billion to App Store developers, it said – $8 billion of which was in 2015 alone. For comparison’s sake, just over a year ago, Apple said it had paid $20 billion to developers.

Microsoft will let shareholders nominate board members – Microsoft added a provision to its bylaws Friday that allowed shareholders with a significant stake in the company to directly nominate up to two candidates to its board of directors. With the change, Microsoft will allow consortiums of up to 20 shareholders, who have owned a combined 3 percent stake in Microsoft for the past three years, to put forward nominations for up to 2 candidates or 20 percent of the board, whichever is larger. Functionally, that means a very small number of people and institutional investors have the power to nominate board members through the process.

Nuance beats Q3 expectations on strong healthcare revenue – Nuance released its third quarter earnings report Thursday after the bell. The voice recognition software giant posted a net loss of $39.4 million, or 13 cents per share (statement). Wall Street was expecting earnings of 28 cents per share on revenue of $480.36 million. While Nuance’s results are in line with expectations, the company still blamed currency fluctuations — a common scapegoat in earnings misses this year — for stifling revenue growth. Nuance said that if Q3 2014 currency rates were applied to the same quarter this year, revenue would have been approximately $17 million higher.

Games and Entertainment:

Here are some of the best games for Android right now (pictures) – Have some time to kill and an Android phone or tablet? Check out a few of our favorite Android games.

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Dungeon Hunter 5

X-wings, pirates and a generic Lara: Gamescom 2015 – Missed all the news, announcements and hype that’s been pouring out of Gamescom over the last few days? Worry not, as we carve a path through the hype to bring you all the stories that matter from the Germany-based games show.

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Battleborn is the best game of Gamescom 2015 – Battleborn is a team-based first-person shooter developed by the deranged minds behind the Borderlands series. It plays very much like Borderlands, which makes it an immediate pick-up-and-frag experience, but it has a great deal of extra depth and variety. The cast of 25 heroes starts with a conventional rifle-wielding soldier — his name’s Oscar Mike and he was the one I played my way through the Gamescom level with — but quickly expands to include characters you wouldn’t expect to find in an FPS, such as the katana-wielding Rath and the “unhinged chaos witch” Orendi.

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Microsoft’s NFL partnership enters next generation with new apps – With the start of the U.S. professional football season around the corner, Microsoft unveiled the new tech it’s going to be providing coaches and fans this season as part of its ongoing partnership with the National Football League. Fans get an updated NFL app for the Xbox One and Windows 10 that provides them with video content, stats, replays and fantasy football information about their favorite teams, while coaches and players will be using new Surface Pro 3 tablets that help them strategize on the sidelines.

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Dark Souls 3: The return of the king – In Bloodborne, the faster speed replaced Dark Souls’ shield: why block when you can dodge? While Dark Souls 3 won’t be doing away with shields, the raised tempo does encourage you to use it less and instead wield a second weapon in your off hand or equip a single, larger weapon that requires the use of both hands. It also reduces the quantity of excuses you can use for when you die. And yeah, you’ll still die. A lot. This is the hardest Dark Souls yet. Extra speed doesn’t equate to reduced challenge. Weapons and certain attacks have been modified to fit that increased sense of alacrity too. While I only handled a few of the game’s tools at Gamescom—and there’s no guarantee that they won’t be altered before launch—there’s definitely more focus on being ballsier during combat.

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Alienware Alpha consolized gaming PC for $400 – So, what are the specs like for this mini gaming rig? It sports a dual-core 2.9GHz Intel Core i3-4130T CPU, a discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M+ graphics card with 2GB of GDDR5, 4GB of DDR3L RAM (1600MHz), a 500GB hard drive, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi support. It also comes with a wireless Xbox 360 controller and a USB receiver. Combine those with Alienware’s custom 10-foot interface, and this is just like a real console experience — the only major difference here is the Alpha can do way more. At its core, this is still just a PC running Windows.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Are connected cars worth the risk? – The standard response from security pros is simple: get better at maintaining your software. Cars are connected to the wild and woolly internet now, so manufacturers need to get better at finding and patching bugs. Automatic updates mean cars have to be even more connected, so that a car company’s security team can remotely patch security holes as quickly as attackers find them. Once you’re plugged in, the logic goes, you have to plug in all the way. But why connect cars to the internet at all? Why not give up your Wi-Fi hotspot in exchange for not having to worry about getting totaled by a software vulnerability? Maybe the risks of the connected car now outweigh the benefits. Why are we so committed to the connected car?

NASA Tools Let You Take a Virtual Trek Across Mars – Experts say that NASA will be ready to send human explorers to Mars by the 2030s, but let’s face it—the chances of you visiting the martian planet in your lifetime are pretty slim. Fortunately, you don’t need a space shuttle or special training to explore Mars—you can now do it from the comfort of home. NASA this week released two new online tools that “open the mysterious terrain of the Red Planet to a new generation of explorers, inviting the public to help with its journey to Mars.”

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Cops filmed behaving badly say pot shop’s camera illegally recorded raid – Did you hear the one about the cops not wanting to use a store’s surveillance tape to help solve a crime? Who could blame these Santa Ana cops? Video shows them smashing surveillance cameras, badmouthing a woman in a wheelchair, and perhaps even munching on marijuana-infused products after they stormed a medical marijuana shop in Southern California, which was being investigated for allegedly operating unlawfully in the city.

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Thermos Smart Lid bottle tracks your drinking habit – The bottle also has a capacity-sensing tube that keep tabs on the water’s temperature — never again do you have to taste the water to see if it is warm. The bottle has a 24oz capacity, uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone, and has a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. The bottle will cost $59.99 USD when it launches.

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Here’s Why Email Puts You in a Nasty Mood – Your alarm goes off, you roll over, grab your phone, and flicker your eyes open. You squint in the glow of the blue and it begins: You’re scrolling through notifications, emails, texts. It’s already been shown that emailing after business hours can be psychologically damaging, but new research published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology confirms what you probably know in your gut to be true: workers who are expected to be available even when they aren’t at work experience an elevated stress response.

10 embarrassingly lazy things you do with your phone – Face it: Your smartphone is an enabler. Thanks to your handy little always-connected pocket device, you now no longer have to do anything that requires any effort , whether that’s interacting with other human beings or getting out of bed to turn off the lights. In fact, you’ve almost reached the heady heights of those fat future blob humans in WALL-E (goals, right?). Here are 10 super lazy—er, super-efficient—things you do with your phone (even if you won’t admit it).

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Text your roommate

Predator or prey? The eyes tell all, say scientists – Staring into the eyes of a wild animal might seem like an invitation to make you a meal, but new research suggests pupil shape is enough to reassure you or not. A team at UC Berkeley discovered that the ecological niche within which an animal sits – whether it hunts or is hunted, and when and how that hunt takes place – is a strong predictor of the pupil shape of that animal. The study saw vision scientist Martin Banks, who is a professor of optometry at UC Berkeley, collaborate with Durham University in the UK, investigating whether earlier theories around slitted eyes and circular pupils were indeed connected with feeding habits. In contrast, species with vertical slit pupils are more likely to ambush prey rather than chase it, and be active both day and night.

Something to think about:

Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”

–     Jack Canfield

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Major psychological association bans cooperation with CIA following torture scandal – The American Psychological Association made a nearly unanimous decision today to bar psychologists from participating in national security interrogations, The New York Times reports. The decision was a response to an independent report that came out last month, detailing how top APA officials and psychiatrists participated in the CIA’s torture program during the Bush administration.

The APA’s council of representatives voted on the measure at the organization’s convention in Toronto. The one dissenting vote came from Col. Larry James, who used to be the top Army intelligence psychologist at Guantánamo Bay, according to Democracy Now. The convention was the APA’s first since the release of the “Hoffman Report,” an independent review conducted by Chicago lawyer David Hoffman looking at the organization’s role in the US enhanced interrogation program. The report showed how the APA secretly worked with the Department of Defense, the CIA, and the White House to come up with ethical guidelines that would allow the torture program to continue without legal fallout.

Rand Paul And Chris Christie Spar Over NSA Surveillance – The exchange really highlighted what advocates for reigning in NSA spying are up against, and if the applause from the crowd was anything to go off of, it’s a depressingly uphill battle.

Fortunately, at least, last night’s exchange should keep the conversation going.

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Apple, Google should give FBI every last drop of user information, says ex-HP CEO and wannabe US prez Carly Fiorina – Former HP CEO and current presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina says Apple and Google should just hand user information over to government investigators.

Speaking Thursday at the Republican party’s presidential debates, Fiorina said companies should be more willing to cooperate with requests from federal investigators to produce customer information.

“I do not believe that we need to wholesale destroy every American citizen’s privacy in order to go after those that we know are suspect or are – are already a problem,” Fiorina told the debate moderator.

“But yes, there is more collaboration required between private sector companies and the public sector.”

Later in the debate, when asked specifically if Apple and Google should give the FBI unfettered access to their systems, Fiorina responded, “I absolutely would call on them to collaborate and cooperate, yes.”

Both Apple and Google have drawn the ire of government investigators by resisting efforts to decrypt and hand over personal information.

Australia: Telco national security law passage planned for spring – The Australian government has announced its intention to both introduce and pass the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Bill during the spring sitting of parliament, a law that would require telecommunications companies to increase network protection and allow government agencies to intervene for the purpose of protecting national security.

The government announced at the end of June its intention to amend the Telecommunications Act with additional national security-related measures. Under the proposed changes (PDF), released by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis on June 26, telcos “must do their best” to protect their networks against unauthorised access, or risk facing fines.

The Bill provides the secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, in consultation with the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the secretary of the Department of Communications, with the power to force carriers to provide information and refrain from undertaking certain activities on their networks, with the threat of fines to ensure compliance.

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