Monthly Archives: September 2015

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 30, 2015

How to prepare for the nightmare of losing a smartphone;  Microsoft tries to clear the air on Windows 10 privacy furor;  Apple: Here’s how we try to protect your privacy;  Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets: The 4 key ways Sheets beats Excel;  Facebook ‘Entry Price’ Rumor Is a Hoax;  Pro tip: Add website shortcuts to your home screen with Opera; Google releases improved Chromecast for the same $35 price (hands-on);    How to reinstall default apps in Windows 10;  Ransomware: To pay or not to pay;  Google Wants to Take Your Kids on Virtual Field Trips;  Newly found TrueCrypt flaw allows full system compromise;  Google Photos Users Have Already Uploaded 50 Billion Photos And Videos;  How to port bookmarks and favorites to Edge;  Thousands of medical devices are vulnerable to hacking;  140 Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in October;  Microsoft’s Project Spark Goes Free Oct. 5;  New 1 TB Xbox One bundle comes with these three games;  Tinder Irked by Ad Linking App to STDs;  Edward Snowden is now on Twitter.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft tries to clear the air on Windows 10 privacy furor – Executives in Redmond were caught flat-footed after this summer’s Windows 10 launch by charges that the new operating system is spying on customers. Several new statements for consumers and IT pros today aim to explain why those accusations are unfounded.

How to prepare for the nightmare of losing a smartphone – Smartphones can alleviate many burdens for us thanks to the conveniences they provide – which means if they are lost or damaged that can also place a hefty burden upon their owner. In fact, it’s safe to say this could pose a serious problem for many people; not only does a smartphone loss represent a loss of the above-mentioned features, but could represent a financial hardship, expose private data to untrustworthy individuals, or even result in identity theft or fraudulent activity. It happened to me a while back and I survived the experience, though not entirely unscathed. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you reduce the burden of a lost smartphone as much as possible, both before and after the unthinkable occurs.

Facebook went down for the third time this month – At approximately 3:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time, (EDT) the popular social network went down. This is the third time in September that the site has failed. The other incidents, however, lasted for only a few minutes. Downdetector, a Web site that tracks Web site problems, reported a spike in Facebook problems. The DownForEveryoneOrJustMe site also reported that Facebook was dead in the water. Users took to other social networks, such as Twitter and Google+ to vent their frustration. Most of them were taking the failure with a sense of humor.  Others were really annoyed.


Most people took Facebook’s hour long blackout with a sense of humor.

Facebook ‘Entry Price’ Rumor Is a Hoax – By now, most of us have been around the Internet block time or two, and can easily spot a hoax when we see it. So if you saw posts in your Facebook News Feed yesterday claiming that the social network will soon change its privacy policy or charge for service, you probably knew it was bogus. But despite being a common ruse, enough people fell for the latest Facebook hoaxes that the social network itself chimed in to say they’re not real.

Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets: The 4 key ways Sheets beats Excel – The battle lines are drawn. Is either really better? We’ll make this argument easier for you. We took a close, impartial look at both programs (as we did with Microsoft Word and Google Docs), and there actually are certain things Sheets offers that Excel does not, and some things Excel can do that Sheets can’t touch. Which is “best” really depends on what job you need it to do. Here we’ll give you the four reasons Google Sheets users can lord it over Excel users.

Google news: Do you ever get the feeling that Google has taken over the World?   Sad smile

Google Wants to Take Your Kids on Virtual Field Trips – The search giant on Monday announced a new service, called the Expeditions Pioneer Program, that will deliver virtual field trips to students at thousands of schools across the U.S. Starting this school year, Google will deliver to schools Asus smartphones, a tablet for teachers, a router to connect to the Expeditions program if the class doesn’t have a readily available Internet connection, and either Google Cardboard or Mattel View-Masters. Together, the products will put kids into a virtual-reality environment to explore what they’re learning about in class.

Google releases improved Chromecast for the same $35 price (hands-on) – A new Chromecast is here, and it’s still dirt cheap. The latest version of Google’s popular streaming dongle offers a host of improvements, to better allow users to “cast” video, audio, games and other apps from their phones, tablets and computers to their TVs. It’s available today in 17 countries for the same price as the old Chromecast: $35 in the US, £30 in the UK and AU$49 in Australia.


Google Introduces Google Play Music Family Plan, $14.99 For Up To 6 People – Google is expanding its Google Play Music service with a new family plan. The company announced at its big event that families will be able to subscribe to Google Play Music for $14.99. For this price, you get 6 different profiles so that you can get music recommendations that work for your tastes. These plans will be available “later this year.”


Google Photos Users Have Already Uploaded 50 Billion Photos And Videos – Today, Google Photos announced that users have already uploaded 50 billion photos and videos. The product launched about four months ago, being pulled out of Google+ as a standalone product. The team is also announcing three new features. Finally, the whole Google Photos experience will now be available on Chromecast; you can now cast your Google Photos to the device. It customizes your Chromecast experience and gets the random photos of mountains out of the way. You can even cast animated GIFs. It comes out this week on Android and iOS later on.

This is Pixel C: Google’s premium Android 2-in-1 – Google has revealed a high-powered tablet by the name of Pixel C, exemplifying the best in what the Google hardware ecosystem can do. Like the original Chromebook Pixel, this device has a high-definition display and is meant to lead the way for smart devices within its software’s ecosystem, in that case Chrome. In the case of the Pixel C, Google is leading the way with an Android tablet. This tablet works with a magnetically-connecting display that connects to a keyboard below.


Pro tip: Add website shortcuts to your home screen with Opera – It’s time to sing the praises of Opera. Finally! The Android version of Opera has a feature that makes the web browser a worthy contender for your Android device. It allows you to easily create home screen launchers for websites, so that your most-used sites are just a tap away. Of course, there are other features that make this browser a worthy contender. Opera actually has some unique options available, but it’s this newest feature that truly raised my eyebrows.

How to port bookmarks and favorites to Edge – Usually, when you start a new browser, a dialog box asks you if you want to import bookmarks (called favorites in Microsoft browsers) from elsewhere. Edge doesn’t do that. Nor can you import an HTML file containing your bookmarks. But the transfer is actually pretty easy—provided you’re not using Firefox. A transfer from Mozilla’s browser is a bit trickier.

Amazon Flex Is Uber for Package Delivery – Need some extra cash ahead of the holiday shopping season? Amazon has a new gig for you. The company’s Flex on-demand delivery service replaces traditional couriers with everyday people. Earn $18 to $25 per hour simply by delivering packages using your own vehicle and an Android smartphone app. Initially available in Seattle, the program is open seven days a week to fulfill Amazon Prime Now one-hour deliveries. The company urged workers to “be your own boss,” distributing packages as much or as little as you want, when you want. Flex will soon roll out in Manhattan, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Portland. Amazon may extend the types of packages delivered by its non-certified carriers in the future.


Ditch Linux for Windows 10 on your Raspberry Pi with Microsoft’s IoT kit – The $75 (~£50) kit comes comes complete with an SD card preloaded with Windows 10 IoT Core, a Raspberry Pi 2 case, full size 40-pin breadboard, miniature WiFi module, BMP280 environmental sensor, RGB colour sensor, eight channel 10-Bit ADC with SPI interface, and a whole host of different resistors and LEDs. Those who needed Raspberry Pi 2 can pick up a $114.95 (~£70) with one included. A full list of the included components is below.


Microsoft deploys first major server application on Ubuntu Linux – Microsoft’s love affair with Linux continues as the company releases HDInsight, Microsoft’s big data Hadoop-on-Azure service for Ubuntu Linux on its Azure cloud.

Report: YouTube Subscription Service (Finally) Arrives in October – YouTube’s long-awaited subscription service might finally arrive next month. Re/code, citing people with knowledge of YouTube’s plans, reported that the service will cost at least $10 a month and remove all ads from the service’s videos. The free, ad-supported YouTube will remain.

How to reinstall default apps in Windows 10 – Did you go a little crazy uninstalling all of the default apps in Windows 10? Luckily for you, getting them back is as easy as…well, uninstalling them in the first place.


Ransomware: To pay or not to pay – There is no need to tell victims of digital extortion how successful it is. What is needed is a way to help victims respond to the ransom demands.

Apple: Here’s how we try to protect your privacy – Apple is trying to ensure its loyal users that it takes their privacy seriously. In an update to its privacy webpage, the company highlighted several of its products and explained how it uses encryption and other methods to shield your privacy, stating: “We build privacy into everything we make.” Trying to address privacy concerns, the page runs down a list of various Apple products and services, including Apple Pay, iMessage, FaceTime, Apple’s Health and Fitness app, Safari and iCloud.

Novel malware dupes victims with fake blue screen of death – Malware creators are hijacking Microsoft Windows’ infamous BSOD in a fresh malvertising campaign.


Thousands of medical devices are vulnerable to hacking, security researchers say – Thousands of medical devices, including MRI scanners, x-ray machines and drug infusion pumps, are vulnerable to hacking, creating significant health risks for patients, security researchers said this week.

Newly found TrueCrypt flaw allows full system compromise – Windows users who rely on TrueCrypt to encrypt their hard drives have a serious security problem: a researcher has discovered two critical flaws in the program. James Forshaw, a member of Google’s Project Zero team that regularly finds vulnerabilities in widely used software, has recently discovered two vulnerabilities in the driver that TrueCrypt installs on Windows systems. The flaws, which were apparently missed in an earlier independent audit of the TrueCrypt source code, could allow attackers to obtain elevated privileges on a system if they have access to a limited user account.

Company News:

Apple Music, iTunes Movies And iBooks Launches In China – China is already Apple’s largest market for app downloads and the company hopes consumers will be just as eager to try out Apple Music. The streaming music service launched there today, along with iTunes Movies and iBooks. After a three-month trial membership, Apple Music will cost 10 RMB per month, or about $1.60, which means it is the same price as a premium membership on Tencent’s QQ Music. The service will also be available for Android (which holds a 70 percent market share in China) later this fall. Apple Music’s competitors in China already include services from Tencent, Baidu, and Netease, but all face the challenge of convincing listeners who have spent years downloading pirated music that on-demand streaming is a more attractive alternative.

Evernote cutting dozens of jobs, closing three offices – Evernote announced a number of operating cutbacks on Tuesday, just a few months after the productivity software maker saw a shuffle at the top of the executive deck. The Redwood City, Calif.-based company is cutting 47 jobs and closing three of its global offices, although which locations weren’t specified in the announcement. Evernote co-founder Phil Libin stepped down as CEO this past summer, although he remained with the company as executive chairman. Just a few weeks ago, Libin joined venture capital firm General Catalyst as a general partner.

BlackBerry releases first photos of Android-powered Priv phone – In a blog post, the Waterloo, Ontario, smartphone maker released photos of the Priv, which is expected to launch in the fourth quarter. Priv stands for both “privacy and privilege,” according to BlackBerry CEO John Chen, and it’s the company’s first product to run on Google’s Android mobile software. The device underscores a radical departure from BlackBerry’s history of selling products using its own homegrown software. After years of battling Android, the world’s most popular operating system for smartphones and tablets, BlackBerry is embracing what its much larger rival has to offer.


Box powers ahead with new app and services for businesses – Box is looking to punch above its weight in a ring that includes Microsoft and Google, and showed a bulked-up set of new products and services at its BoxWorks conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. Box needs more than just the 11 percent of paying customers that it has now, so appealing to enterprises is critical for the new products. They include a new app for the iPhone, and new capabilities that could make the service more attractive to businesses in particular markets.

Report: Twitter mulling posts with more than 140 characters – Twitter and some of its most enterprising users have found simple ways to get around the service’s major limit of 140 characters per post, whether by enabling full-Tweet embeds, offering username tags within photos, or making it easier to read images loaded with text. But according to a Tuesday report by Re/code, the 140-character wall itself may soon crumble.

Alibaba enters ‘strategic’ agreement with India’s Paytm – China’s Alibaba Group has entered into an agreement with the parent company of India’s payments platform, Paytm, in a bid to boost its footprint into the subcontinent.

Games and Entertainment:

Google’s new Chromecast has a new look, catches up to modern Wi-Fi standards – It might have been the worst-kept secret leading up to today’s Google event — aside from the new Nexus phones, that is — but Google has just announced two new Chromecast devices: a second-generation stick for streaming video, and a Chromecast Audio dongle that adds wireless music-streaming capabilities to any speaker with a 3.5mm auxiliary jack. Like the first Chromecast, which was brought to market in 2013, the new Chromecast for video plugs into the back of a TV set via an HDMI port, and it mirrors, or casts, content from the Chromecast mobile app to TV screens. And like the first one, it costs just $35, making it a less expensive option than any of the streaming devices that Apple, Amazon, or Roku have to offer.


Chromecast audio demo

New 1 TB Xbox One bundle comes with these three games – Microsoft’s week-long Xbox One bundle announcement campaign continues today with the reveal of another 1 TB system. This package, the Xbox One Holiday Bundle, includes a 1 TB system and copies of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Rare Replay, and Ori and the Blind Forest. The bundle will launch in October for $400. Unlike the Rise of the Tomb Raider system, this one does not appear to be exclusive to any retailers. It does not come with a Kinect camera.



Hitman’s new release date is March 11, here’s what will be included at launch – Following its recent delay, Square Enix has confirmed IO Interactive’s latest Hitman title will be released on March 11, and detailed what will be included in the digital launch package. The March 11 release will feature the “initial launch content,” which contains the Paris, Sapienza and Marrakesh locations, together comprising six campaign missions. These will all be replayable through the user-created Contracts missions, which allow players to designate new targets for assassination.

WildStar promises less grind as it goes free-to-play today – It was the most promising MMORPG of 2014. Then it was the most disappointing MMORPG of 2014. And now it’s (maybe) the most promising MMORPG of 2015? I’m talking about WildStar, which as of today is officially free-to-play. It’s the latest (and hopefully the last) MMO to launch with a subscription plan and then make the slow, arduous transition to a friendlier business model. Here’s how it works:


Microsoft’s Project Spark Goes Free Oct. 5 – Microsoft is transitioning Project Spark, which lets players create their own gaming experiences, into a free and open platform. Starting Oct. 5, Redmond will “automatically unlock previously paid downloadable content for new and existing Project Spark users,” the company said in a forum post. “Microsoft will pivot from producing DLC and active feature development to encouraging more user generated content and opening the Project Spark experience.” All players who purchased Project Spark content digitally or via a retail disc, and activated it by product key redemption on or after July 28, will be entitled to Microsoft Store credit. The same goes for folks with a balance of purchased in-game tokens. Credits will be awarded automatically within 30-60 days after Oct. 5.


The Simpsons tipped to finally end within the next 4 years – The Simpsons, the animated comedy that grew from having a small but loyal audience after its 1989 debut, to being the American television icon it is today, may finally have an end date. The show is widely considered to have peaked around season 10, and has been on a steady decline since then, albeit with the occasional highlight. Maybe that’s just what happens after over 25 years on the air? Either way, every fan of the show has wondered at some point when The Simpsons will come to an end, and now one of the show’s creators has given a timeframe.


140 Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in October – The fall is upon us, and with it the ax falls on not 40 (like in August) or even 76 (like in September) but a full 140 titles leaving Netflix this October. Here’s a quick look at the three I feel most deserving of being missed, fellow geeks, but there are many, many more that will be missed. Likewise keep an eye out for real nerd-centric movies taking a powder, including a couple of Star Treks, World War Z, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and the entire single season of Caprica.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Tinder Irked by Ad Linking App to STDs – Mobile-dating service Tinder is not too happy about being included in an ad campaign that suggests it contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Tinder has called on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to take down ads that argue mobile dating apps, including Tinder, could expose users to sexually transmitted diseases. Tinder told the BBC that the ads represent “wholly unsubstantiated accusations” that are an attempt by the AHF to get people to “take an HIV test offered” by the organization. In a press release, AHF referenced a recent Vanity Fair article that portrayed the dating site as a haven for empty hook-ups. That article also prompted backlash from Tinder, which fired off a barrage of late-night tweets in defense of the app. It later apologized for overreacting, though. The AHF plans to continue its campaign. The organization currently has ads in Los Angeles, but says that it will bring them to other major cities, including New York and Miami, in the coming weeks.


We Drove Tesla’s Crazy Fast Model X SUV – I was hoping I might walk away from my short test drive in Tesla’s Model X without the desire to throw down $130,000 I don’t have… Alas. After years of the Model X being seemingly right around the corner, the first few cars are being delivered to drivers tonight. I got to take one for a spin — and yes, I got to stomp the gas pedal.


Smart glove translates sign language into speech, text – Saudi designer Hadeel Ayoub has developed the “SignLanguageGlove”, a so-called smart glove that wirelessly translates sign language as it is signed, doing so into speech or visual letters for those on the receiving end to understand. The idea is that someone who signs to communicate will have trouble doing so if the person with whom they are talking doesn’t read sign language. With the glove, what they sign becomes spoken language, removing the barrier. The sign language will be translated and shuttled to the other person’s mobile device. An array of five sensors in the glove’s fingers detect the finger motions, while an accelerometer tracks the signer’s hands. Ayoub made the accompanying software, which translates the motions into words. There’s also a text-to-speech chip for turning it into spoken communications.


Indian PM Modi visits US tech chiefs in wake of draconian encryption policy debacle – It is a testimony to the immense attractiveness of the Indian market that the leaders of some of the most powerful technology companies in the world rallied around to meet and indulge the leader of a country, one who wanted to effectively handcuff the same companies and the services they offer. Or at least, that’s what events that transpired over the last week or two indicated.

Tim Cook says businesses need to step up where governments don’t – Since taking over from Steve Jobs as CEO, one of the things Tim Cook has brought to Apple is a greater push to address social problems. On Tuesday at the Boxworks conference in San Francisco, Cook said he wants other companies to do the same. Apple has taken a few important steps along that road. Cook said the company’s U.S. operations are running entirely on renewable energy, and Apple is now focused on getting its supply chain to the same point — though that could be a challenge given the scale of its factory operations in China.

Photos: 15 innovative objects that changed daily life – The Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Object Project exhibit showcases everyday items that were revolutionary once upon a time.


11 massive crowdfunding disasters – There’s no denying that crowdfunding has completely changed the way people do business, mostly for the good. For every brilliant idea that makes it to market smoothly, there’s one that runs into trouble. Whether it’s the result of new business owners not understanding the work that goes into producing and fulfilling or just unscrupulous scammers looking to take the money and run, many Kickstarters and Indiegogos end up with very unhappy customers. These 11 crowdfunding campaigns that resulted in nothing but heartbreak.

Something to think about:

“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”

–      Julius Caesar


PaperScan Scanner Software: Free Edition – The Free Edition of PaperScan Scanner Software allows users to benefit for free from the advantages of a universal scanning with post-processing capabilities tool.


Limited batch TWAIN & WIA scanning / import (10 pages).

Save as single page PDF/A, TIFF, JPEG, JPEG 2000, PNG, JBIG2, WEBP.

Post Image Processing: color adjustment, color space conversion, effects, filters, crop and more…

PDF Encryption support (read & write).

Flatbed and document feeder support.

Duplex scanning support.

Dictionary .NET – Dictionary .NET is a tiny and smart multilingual dictionary translating from/to 91 languages …

It integrates Google, Bing and Yandex services without installing and loading anything.

Auto-detect any language > Dictionary > Translate > Search with just One-Click or a Hotkey.

Dictionary .NET – Dictionary .NET is a tiny and smart multilingual dictionary translating from/to 91 languages …

It integrates Google, Bing and Yandex services without installing and loading anything.

Auto-detect any language > Dictionary > Translate > Search with just One-Click or a Hotkey.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Edward Snowden is now on Twitter – NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has joined Twitter, taking over an abandoned account at @Snowden. An accompanying Intercept piece described the move as part of Snowden’s ongoing role as a public figure. Snowden seems to have had help from Twitter HQ in acquiring the abandoned screen name, and the account is already verified. In less than an hour, he accumulated more than 80,000 followers, but as of press time, he is only following a single account: @NSAgov.


Feds say your hard drives are for the government’s keeping – The Justice Department is set to argue Wednesday before a federal appeals court that it may prosecute people for crimes based on evidence obtained from their computers—evidence that was outside the scope of an original probable-cause search warrant.

That’s a big deal in today’s digital age. Society has evolved to the point that many people keep all of their papers and effects co-mingled on their computer hard drives.

The highly nuanced legal dispute initially seems innocent enough. It concerns an accountant’s tax evasion conviction and two-year prison sentence in 2012 that was based on a court-authorized search and imaging of his computer files. Stavros Ganias’ files were copied as part of an Army overbilling investigation into one of his clients. Holding on to the imaged files for nearly three years, Connecticut authorities discovered fresh evidence unrelated to the initial search of the files and got new search warrants to investigate more of the accountant’s mirrored files that were already in the government’s possession. All the while, Ganias had subsequently deleted those files from his hard drives after the government had imaged them, according to court records.

The case asks how long the government can retain somebody’s computer files—files that are unrelated to a court warrant. The accountant’s lawyers said that once the government got what it needed regarding the accountant’s client, the remainder of Ganias’ files should have been purged. Federal prosecutors disagreed and said they retained the imaged files for numerous reasons, including for authentication purposes and to allow “the government to comply with its discovery obligations imposed by the Constitution.”

Who says that Canadians don’t write protest songs about politicians? Blue Rodeo drops anti-Harper tune – Who says that Canadian musicians don’t write protest songs about politicians? Well, the Toronto Star did in an article published Sunday. The article is correct in saying that topically political songs are not common in contemporary Canadian music, yet one of Canada’s most beloved bands released just such a song on Monday.

Blue Rodeo’s new song, titled Stealin’ All My Dreams, minces no words in making a target of Prime Minister Steven Harper.


In a news release, Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy said of himself and bandmate Greg Keelor: “Blue Rodeo does not always speak with one voice. However, we feel collectively that the current administration in Canada has taken us down the wrong path. We do not seem to be the compassionate and environmentally conscious nation we once were. As respectful as we are of the variety of opinions held by our audience, we felt it was time to speak up and add our voice to the conversation.”

The song is available as a free download and has racked up more than 76,000 views on YouTube as of Tuesday afternoon.


Click here.

US defends Safe Harbor, says it never uses “indiscriminate surveillance” – The United States Mission to the European Union has responded to the opinion by the Court of Justice of the European Union’s Advocate General Yves Bot that the current Safe Harbour scheme may be illegal because of NSA spying. It claims that the US “does not and has not engaged in indiscriminate surveillance of anyone, including ordinary European citizens.” As reported by Ars last week, the ability of companies to transfer the personal data of EU citizens to the US is under threat because Bot believes that the Safe Harbour’s privacy safeguards are inadequate. In particular, Bot was concerned about what he called the the “mass, indiscriminate surveillance” of EU citizens under the PRISM programme, which is believed to give the NSA direct access to all personal data held by Facebook and other US companies in their databases.


In a statement issued yesteday, The United States Mission to the European Union—effectively, the US embassy to the EU—desperately tries to refute the Advocate General’s logic. That’s because US companies will be unable to rely on the Safe Harbour framework, and their data transfers across the Atlantic will be illegal under EU law, if the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) follows his arguments, as usually happens. The US Mission writes: “The Advocate General’s opinion notes that it was required to accept the facts as found by the Irish High Court. There was, however, no actual fact-finding in this case; instead, the Irish High Court concluded, on the basis of exhibits to plaintiff’s affidavits that the accuracy of his allegations regarding U.S. intelligence practices ‘is not in dispute.’ But that is simply not the case.”

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 28, 2015

Keeping your kids safe online? Follow these 5 tips;  One in every 14 Americans fell victim to identity theft last year;  Back to basics: The three easiest ways to back up your files;  Five Android apps that prolong your smartphone’s battery life;  How to uninstall default apps in Windows 10;  Eight apps optimized for 3D Touch on your new iPhone 6S;  Turnkey Linux 14: Small business server Linux made easy;  Google Update Promises More Accurate, Faster Voice Search;  13 iPad Apps to Make You a Way Better Cook;  How to make Cortana search with Google instead of Bing in Windows 10;  Here’s the 1 Device Every Road Warrior Needs in Their Kit;  How hackers can access iPhone contacts and photos without a password;  Hackers restore PlayStation TV compatibility;  Use Tinder Or Grindr? This Billboard Suggests Getting Tested For An STD;  Size matters: Are your speakers too big or too small for your room?  Apple is obviously a cult (and Samsung isn’t), says cultural historian;  Is Android a monopoly?  Saudi Arabia came close to buying Hacking Team;  Here are the coolest things you can do with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

British spies cast net to monitor every web surfer, everywhere, leaked documents show – British surveillance center GCHQ monitored network traffic around the world in order to build up a browsing profile for every Internet user, leaked documents show.

Keeping your kids safe online? Follow these 5 tips – It’s a nightmare come true – your (grand)children are sitting at the dinner table or lying around in the living room, vulnerable to unknown threats. Your mind spins as you wonder, what in the world are my children looking at? Are they downloading explicit content, or planning to meet with sexual predators? And most importantly: isn’t our home the one place my kids should be safe?

One in every 14 Americans fell victim to identity theft last year – Almost 18 million people were victims of identity theft in the United States last year, with the majority of crimes targeting credit cards and bank accounts, the Department of Justice said Sunday. The figure represents 7 percent of the U.S. population aged 16 or older and is a rise of 1 million people from 2012, the last year for which the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics published a similar report. The latest report counts instances where a person experienced misuse of a financial or other account — not simply a breach of their personal information. Just over two in every five cases involved a credit card account and just under two in five involved a bank account. About half of all victims first became aware of a problem when they were contacted by a financial institution with a further one in five noticing fraudulent charge in their account.

Pro tip: Easy file encryption on your Chromebook with miniLock – Your files saved on Google Drive are encrypted by default. However, when you you need to send a file to a user, you download (to a specific file format) and then send that file to the user. That file you just sent is unencrypted. So how do you manage to send an encrypted file to a user? You take advantage of a simple Chrome addon called miniLock.  This add on makes file encryption very easy and doesn’t require you to sign up for a service or plan. It’s free and takes all the guesswork out of encryption.

Back to basics: The three easiest ways to back up your files – Creating a backup of your precious and important files is crucial. It minimizes the risk that you’ll lose your tax documents, baby’s pictures and school work in the event of theft, fire or hard drive failure. Backing up files and photos isn’t hard, but with several different ways to go about it, it can be confusing to get started. This guide gives you the basics on the various choices you have to back up your files and the tips to make it easy.


How to uninstall default apps in Windows 10 – Some default apps can be uninstalled easily from the Start menu. To do this, find the default app you want to uninstall in the Start menu, right-click on the app, and choose Uninstall from the drop-down menu that appears. Apps that can be uninstalled this way include Get Started, Get Skype, Get Office, Microsoft Solitaire Collection, Money, News, Phone Companion, Sports, Optional Features, Windows Media Player, and Windows DVD Player. But for other apps — including Calculator, Calendar, Mail, Camera, Maps, Movies & TV, People, Photos, Store, and Weather — you’ll need to use the PowerShell. (Some apps, such as Cortana, Microsoft Edge, and Windows Feedback cannot be uninstalled at all.) Here’s how to do that:

Five Android apps that prolong your smartphone’s battery life – I often spend time exploring battery-saving apps and have become quite fond of a few in particular. Here’s a list of five of my favorite apps for prolonging the life of your Android’s battery. Note that there are a few common settings that overlap across the apps, but in this piece, I’ve tried to highlight some of the features that help separate each app from the pack.

Eight apps optimized for 3D Touch on your new iPhone 6S – So, you’ve got a new iPhone 6S. You’ve turned it on; maybe you’ve restored it from iCloud. You firmly press on the display to try this new, magical, 3D Touch feature (the first time, you probably do it wrong, and your apps wiggle just like they used to). You can “peek” at Mail! Cool. Now what? It’s not just Apple’s native apps that will work with 3D Touch; today a bunch of third-party app makers started rolling out updated versions of their apps that support the feature as well. Below is a list of apps you can reliably use with 3D Touch. Keep in mind, these aren’t the best apps, per se — it’s too soon to tell which ones are actually the most useful. But these will give you an idea of how app makers are thinking about using 3D Touch.

Here are the coolest things you can do with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus – The arrival of the new phones also brings with it a handful of must-try apps that take advantage of the new hardware and software improvements. We’ve broken down all of the steps required to dive head first into the iPhone 6S, organized into three neat categories: apps to download, iOS 9 features to try, and settings that help you stay in control. Let’s dive in!


Adobe debuts Photoshop and Premiere Elements 14 – Just as they do every year, Adobe has announced new versions of its Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements software, their consumer-level photo and video editing applications. Both packages have received brand new tools and features, as well as improvements to the existing set, making editing easier for those not interested in the full-blown professional suite of software. Both Photoshop and Premiere Elements will be released later this year on both Mac and Windows, for $99 each or together for $149.


Google Update Promises More Accurate, Faster Voice Search – The search giant this week said it has built “better neural network acoustic models,” which means your phone should better understand what you’re trying to dictate. “In addition to requiring much lower computational resources, the new models are more accurate, robust to noise, and faster to respond to voice search queries,” the Google Speech Team wrote in a blog post. Google gave voice search a big upgrade in 2012 by adopting something known as Deep Neural Networks (DNNs). But three years is an eternity in tech terms, so this week’s upgrade means better results that are “blazingly fast,” Google said.

How to make Cortana search with Google instead of Bing in Windows 10 – Windows 10’s Cortana uses Bing for web searches by default with no official option to change it, but there are ways to get Cortana to embrace Google.

Turnkey Linux 14: Small business server Linux made easy –  Let’s say you want inexpensive, open-source server applications that are under your control… but you don’t have the tech chops to install Linux server programs from packages, never mind source code. If that’s you, then you need Turnkey Linux. This Linux distribution, based on Debian 8.2 (Jessie), makes it easy for you to install complete, working Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python (LAMP) servers on your own servers, the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud, and soon Linux Docker containers. The key word is “easy.” Turnkey makes it possible for anyone who’s Linux savvy, as opposed to a system administrator, to get over a hundred different Linux server applications up and running.


Turnkey Linux makes setting up Linux server apps easy.

13 iPad Apps to Make You a Way Better Cook – Between the enormous amount of food media in the world—from food bloggers and recipe websites to television shows and glossy magazines—cookbooks, and our tried-and-trued recipe collections, it’s hard to know exactly where to begin to look for recipes, let alone cook from them. And organizing them is a challenge all its own. These apps are doing a lot of heavy lifting. We’re not saying that you should give up on your cookbook shelf, but we are saying that our apps are suddenly the most helpful kitchen companions since our grandmothers (or Julia Child). Here are the 13 cooking apps we find essential in the kitchen and out:

10 enthralling TED Talks sure to mesmerize tech enthusiasts – These inspiring, sometimes frightening presentations detail how technologies from bionics to big data to machine learning will change our world for good or ill — and sooner than you might think.


Use Tinder Or Grindr? This Billboard Suggests Getting Tested For An STD – I’d like to point out that there is no scientific evidence saying that just using the apps Tinder or Grindr will cause an STD. However, what happens after using those apps as partially intended may. The site and AIDS Health Foundation is leveraging the popularity of these dating apps to get the word out about getting yourself checked out for a sexually transmitted disease.

Here’s the 1 Device Every Road Warrior Needs in Their Kit – There’s never been a wireless hotspot that looks as good as the Karma Go, a coaster-sized device that offers pay-as-you-go, never-expires data service. At the same time, it’s never been easier to get connected via your phone or broadband provider’s hotspots without having to carry around yet another gadget. So the question is, does anybody really need one of these things? The Go, which started shipping over the summer, provides high-speed connectivity over Sprint’s 4G LTE network. The hardware costs $149, while data service starts at $14 for 1 GB with discounts for the more data you buy. (1 GB doesn’t get you very far; you’ll probably end up buying more.)


Karma Go

Size matters: Are your speakers too big or too small for your room? – It’s an audiophile conundrum: are your speakers too big for your room, or is your room too small for your speakers?


How hackers can access iPhone contacts and photos without a password – iPhone users have yet another screenlock bypass vulnerability to watch out for, according to a new video demonstration that shows how the bug can be exploited to gain unauthorized access to photos and contacts. The hack reportedly works on iOS version 9.0.1, which Apple released Wednesday, although some people say they are unable to reproduce it. The vulnerability makes it possible for someone who gets even a brief moment with an iPhone to rifle through contacts and photos without entering the password. Here it is in action.


Beware! iOS 9 & iOS 9.0.1 – Security Flaw – Passcode Bypass. Turn Off Siri on Lockscreen to be Safe.

Cookie handling in browsers can break HTTPS security – Man-in-the-middle attackers can inject cookies over HTTP connections in order to extract information from encrypted HTTPS traffic.

US reaches economic cybersecurity agreement with China – Today, President Obama, appearing with Chinese President Xi Jinping, announced that the United States and China had reached an agreement to curb “cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property” between the two countries. Obama, at the announcement, said he had “indicated it has to stop,” and that the two had come to a “common understanding.” According to a statement from the White House, the two countries now “agree that neither country’s government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.”


Win McNamee/Getty Images

Analysis: China-US hacking accord is tall on rhetoric, short on substance – The accord President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Friday—a “common understanding” to curb state-sponsored, corporate cyber espionage toward one another—inches us toward that goal if we assume both sides would uphold their end of the bargain. It’s a momentous first step at a historical stage in which the battlefield is evolving online—from the real world to the virtual world. And it comes as both sides are engaged in finger pointing on the topic and accusing the other of cyber transgressions. But even assuming both sides would follow the pact, the accord is tall on rhetoric and short on substance.

Don’t Panic Over The Rise In Personal Data Theft – Instead of freaking out and retracing our steps, we must take the necessary precautions to save our personal and corporate lives. Perhaps the silver lining in all these attacks is that it has raised awareness among companies and governments, and many countries are considering passing laws that bind service providers to protect user data.

10 weird and wild cutting-edge security threats – When you think of security vulnerabilities, the first thing that likely comes to your mind are flaws in Windows or apps like Adobe Reader that let hackers wreak havoc on your PC. But computers are everywhere these days, and with more computers come more security headaches. Join us as we look at ten hacks and vulnerabilities that take threats to the next level. Somehow, things have gotten even crazier since our last look at shocking security exploits.

Company News:

It’s official: Blackberry’s Android phone—the “Priv”—will launch this year – Blackberry is finally joining Team Android. During the company’s latest earnings report (PDF), the company officially announced it would release an Android phone.

John Chen, Blackberry’s executive chairman and CEO, confirmed the earlier rumors. “Today, I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry’s heritage and core mission of protecting our customers’ privacy,” he said. “Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform.”


Google Announces Plan To Put Wi-Fi In 400 Train Stations Across India – Today, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai shared details on a new plan to bring more Indian residents online. He notes that there’s still over a billion of them in his native country that aren’t connected. The key? India’s train system. And a plan to bring Wi-Fi to its 10 million rail passengers a day. And it’s free (to start). Pichai shared Google’s plans, while sharing his own story about his days using Chennai Central station to get to school.

We’d like to help get these next billion Indians online—so they can access the entire web, and all of its information and opportunity. And not just with any old connection—with fast broadband so they can experience the best of the web. That’s why, today, on the occasion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to our U.S. headquarters, and in line with his Digital India initiative, we announced a new project to provide high-speed public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations across India.


Lyft Moves Customer Support Team To Nashville To Combat High-Priced SF Market – Lyft is building out its new customer service headquarters in Nashville, where overhead such as rent and salaries are cheaper. It will also help Lyft’s east coast support. The ride-sharing startup is asking customer service reps in San Francisco to work out of the capital of country music, instead. The move is part of a growing trend in Silicon Valley to find cheaper space and lower overhead elsewhere. Average office rent in San Francisco nearly doubled from $30 in 2013 to $70 per square foot today. Compare that to the $18-$22 average per square foot rental price in downtown Nashville.

Sprint Fined $1.2M for 911 Outage – If you’re a hard of hearing Sprint customer and you called 911 between March and September 2014, you were probably a little shocked to find that your captioned telephone service didn’t work. The Federal Communications Commission has slapped Sprint with a fairly hefty $1,175,000 fine for the outage, as the system—which basically gives a person captions to read when making a call—is a pretty integral part of the emergency calling process.

Games and Entertainment:

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will only be half a game on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 – Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, set to land on November 6 this year, will be a five platform affair, shipping on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. But Activision today dropped some bad news on the owners of the older consoles who were hoping to enjoy the latest iteration of the cinematic shooter series. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 aren’t going to get the full game. They’ll get the conventional multiplayer game, and the multiplayer zombie mode, but that’s all; the campaign mode, which will support both single player and co-operative multiplayer, won’t be available.


Fully-featured Twitch apps are coming to PlayStation platforms – Twitch announced today at its first ever TwitchCon conference that it’s launching an improved suite of apps for Sony’s PlayStation platforms. PlayStation 4 users have been able to record directly to Twitch’s game-streaming platform using the console’s share features, as well as watch other PS4 content. But there hasn’t yet been an app that lets you watch any Twitch channel regardless of platform and enjoy the full features of the desktop website or mobile app. Twitch is launching its new PS4 app alongside versions for the PlayStation 3, the PlayStation Vita handheld, and the PlayStation TV micro-console this fall.


Hackers restore PlayStation TV compatibility that was blocked by Sony – When we gave our impressions of Sony’s Vita-based PlayStation TV microconsole last year, our biggest complaint was with the tiny unit’s widespread lack of compatibility with existing portable software. Hundreds of games that work just fine on the portable PlayStation Vita just refused to load on a PlayStation TV. Now, some enterprising hackers have apparently gone a long way toward fixing this problem by increasing the PlayStation TV’s software compatibility with a simple hack. The method, as outlined on HackInformer, exploits an error in the PlayStation TV’s e-mail app that lets users write files to the system memory by attaching them as fake images in a message. Using this method and a specially built “whitelist” file, players can unlock the ability to play many (but not all) previously incompatible Vita games and apps on their PlayStation TV.

Mega Man successor Mighty No. 9 gets a February release – The oft-delayed successor to the Mega Man franchise, Mighty No. 9, now has another release date. (One that we hope it sticks to). Developer Comcept and publisher Deep Silver announced today that the game will hit American PS4s, Wii Us, and Xbox Ones next year on February 9th. The rest of the world will be able to enjoy it on February 12th.


‘Oculus Ready’ PCs will be guaranteed to meet virtual reality’s demanding needs – In case you missed it, the minimum specs for the Oculus Rift are:


Nvidia 9800 or AMD 4870 graphics card with 1 GB dedicated RAM

2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU or 2.4 GHz AMD Phenom 9850 Quad Core CPU


While the recommended specs are a bit beefier:

Nvidia GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater

Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater


Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output

Off Topic (Sort of):

Is Android a monopoly? – A report from Bloomberg this morning suggests that US antitrust regulators are looking into whether Google has engaged in anticompetitive practices with its Android operating system. It seems a preposterous question to ask, but might Android constitute an actual monopoly? Google doesn’t make any phones, and it doesn’t force Android on anyone — phone makers choose to ship devices with that software on board. Google also isn’t fully in control of Android, as evidenced by the hundreds of millions of Android smartphones being sold in China without Google’s apps or blessing. Android is famed as the open-source alternative to Apple’s closed iOS, and the two are locked in a healthy and balanced competition in the United States, with Google’s software claiming 59 percent of the market and Apple taking 38 percent. From a consumer perspective, it’s a fair fight with no monopoly in sight.

Apple is obviously a cult (and Samsung isn’t), says cultural historian – The idea that Apple is less a brand and more a religious cult has been around for a while. Not so long ago, Samsung mocked the living bejaysus out of Apple’s cultitude in very funny ads. It built the Galaxy franchise upon that pedestal of mockery. It takes, though, an intellectual to put a deeper stamp of authority on Apple’s cult status. Hosannas, therefore, to Atlas Obscura, which probed the views of NYU professor Erica Robles-Anderson. Robles-Anderson is a cultural historian who, when examining a Manhattan Apple store, declared, “It’s a cult. Right? It’s so obviously a cult.”

Indian Prime Minister Tells Zuckerberg Social Media Creates A New Form Of Diplomacy – Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Mark Zuckerberg that social media can show governments where they’re going wrong, and allow heads of state to connect more personably than ever before. During a townhall Q&A at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, the two leaders talked about the modernization of India and discussed topics from the 40,000 questions and comments submitted by the public. The talk can be watched here. As the world’s largest democracy and a massively lucrative market for tech companies, execs from several tech giants made time to meet with Modi during his visit to Silicon Valley this week, including Google, Apple, and Tesla, as Re/Code reported.


Facebook ‘unfriending’ is workplace bullying, Australia tribunal finds – As reports, Australia’s Fair Work Commission was hearing the case of Rachael Roberts, who worked for a real estate agency in Tasmania. Roberts’ allegation was that Lisa Bird, a sales administrator, and her husband James constantly “belittled and humiliated” her. Roberts claimed almost 20 incidents from her three years with the company. These included being forbidden from changing the temperature on the AC in the office. One of them, though, was deeply heinous: Bird unfriended Roberts on Facebook.

The Future Of Coding Is Here, And It Threatens To Wipe Out Everything In Its Path – APIs — the rules governing how software programs interact with each other — not user interfaces, will upend software for years to come. When Intel CEO Brian Krzanich doubled down on the Internet of Things at the company’s annual Developer Forum in August, he emphasized what many of us have already known — the dawn of a new era in software engineering.


CVS pharmacies in 12 more states will carry drug to treat heroin overdose – The medication, Naloxone, will now be available without a prescription at CVS stores in 12 additional states. Those states include Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. Naloxone is already available over the counter at CVS stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. “Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substance pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin,” Tom Davis, vice president of pharmacy professional practices at CVS, said in a statement. “Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives.”

Dartmouth researcher building a cost-effective supercomputer using smartphones – Solving complex problems requires supercomputers, but most university research centers can’t afford to buy a supercomputer or rent time on one. A physicist wants to change that.

Something to think about:

“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

–     Yogi Berra


RawTherapee – RawTherapee is a cross-platform raw image processing program, released under the GNU General Public License Version 3. It was originally written by Gábor Horváth of Budapest. Rather than being a raster graphics editor such as Photoshop or GIMP, it is specifically aimed at raw photo post-production. And it does it very well – at a minimum, RawTherapee is one of the most powerful raw processing programs available.

High Image Quality

96-bit (floating point) processing engine.

Non-destructive editing.

Get the most details and least artifacts from your raw photos thanks to modern and traditional demosaicing algorithms: AMaZE, DCB, AHD, EAHD, HPHD, IGV, LMMSE, VNG4, Mono and Fast.

Advanced color handling from white balance to HSV (Hue-Saturation-Value) curves, color toning and color management.

Powerful CIE Color Appearance Model 2002 (CIECAM02) module.

Enhanced exposure and tonality tools: tone and Lab curves, highlights and shadows tools, tone mapping (HDR-like effect), etc.

Multiple denoising methods: luminance, chrominance (both rewritten in 2012), impulse (for salt and pepper noise) noise reduction.

Several tools to enhance details: unsharp mask, RL deconvolution, contrast by detail levels.


Multi-threaded algorithms for high performance (RawTherapee can utilize modern processor features, like SSE).

Quick thumbnails load lightning fast and are replaced later with live thumbnails.

Batch processing: convert all the developed images at once without loading the processor while you work.

Copy/paste editing parameters from one file to many other. Partially copying and/or pasting is also possible.

Basic tools immediately at your hands.

Parallel editing of multiple images in separate editor tabs, and/or all at once from the file browser.

An optional secondary display can be used.


Wide variety of supported cameras: almost all DSLRs and even some medium format bodies are supported.

Can load most raw files including 16-, 24- and 32-bit raw HDR DNG images, as well as standard JPEG, PNG (8- and 16-bit) and TIFF (8-, 16- and 32-bit logluv) images.

Can save JPEG, PNG (8- and 16-bit) and TIFF (8- and 16-bit) images.

Advanced control over the algorithms with many fine-tuning parameters and curves.

Can send to GIMP or the editing tool of your choice in one click (16-bit TIFF file).

Command line usage besides the normal graphical interface.

Various layouts: multiple tabs, single tab with filmstrip, vertical tab with filmstrip, dual monitor.

Freedom for Free

RawTherapee is free and open source software, meaning you can use it free of charge, wherever you like on whatever hardware you like, as long as you abide by the copyleft GPLv3 license. Download the source code, modify it, feel free to do what comes to mind. We believe in open software.

It is cross-platform: Linux, Mac, or Windows, be it 32-bit or 64-bit – you pick, we provide.

International: it is available in 25 languages!


Detail windows let you peek at a higher magnification at areas of interest. As this is a HDR DNG image, even the darkest areas show no noise.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

GCHQ tried to track Web visits of “every visible user on Internet” – If you used the World Wide Web anytime after 2007, the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has probably spied on you. That’s the revelation contained in documents published today by The Intercept, which detail a GCHQ operation called “Karma Police”—a program that tracked Web browsing habits of people around the globe in what the agency itself billed as the “world’s biggest” Internet data-mining operation, intended to eventually track “every visible user on the Internet.”

Karma Police—apparently named after the Radiohead song—started as a program to track individuals listening to Internet streaming audio “radio stations” as part of a research project into how radicals might “misuse” Internet radio to spread their messages. Listeners to streams that included Islamic religious content were targeted for more data collection in an effort to identify their Skype and social media accounts. The program gradually grew with its success. According to GCHQ documents, by 2009 the program had stored over 1.1 trillion “events”—Web browsing sessions—in its “Black Hole” database. By 2010, the system was gathering 30 billion records per day of Internet traffic metadata. According to another GCHQ document, that volume grew to 50 billion per day by 2012.

The Karma Police system and its Black Hole database log the IP addresses of individuals visiting Internet sites, as well as the cookies associated with their Web traffic. The users of specific sites can then be profiled by correlating recorded cookies from other sites, such as those used to deliver personalized ads (for instance, the Google “pref” cookie) or site login credentials.


Saudi Arabia came close to buying Hacking Team – The Saudi Arabian government came close to buying control of Italian surveillance software company Hacking Team, notorious for selling its product to undemocratic regimes, according to hacked emails posted by WikiLeaks.

The negotiations were handled by Wafic Said, a Syrian-born businessman based in the U.K. who is a close friend of the Saudi royal family, and also involved Ronald Spogli, a former U.S. ambassador to Italy, who had an indirect investment in Hacking Team.

The deal collapsed in early 2014 after the removal of Prince Bandar bin Sultan as head of the Saudi intelligence service. The former Saudi ambassador to Washington had backed the purchase but it was not supported by his successor.

Saudi Arabia has long had a reputation as a human rights violator and this week it emerged that a Saudi court had confirmed a death sentence on a young man convicted of participating in antigovernment protests inspired by the Arab Spring. Ali al-Nimr has been sentenced to be beheaded and then crucified for crimes he allegedly committed at the age of 17.

Eric Rabe, a spokesman for Hacking Team, said the talks had never been close to completion. Countries such as Saudi Arabia were allies of the West and it was important that they should receive instruments that enabled them to combat crime and terrorism, he said in a telephone interview.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 28, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – September 25, 2015

26 iOS 9 Tips for Apple Fanatics;  How to find free music online: We reveal our 5 favorite sources;  This Is How Many Apps You’re Really Using on Your Smartphone;  Young people think it’s OK to track your lover;  Firefox’s tracker-killing private browsing mode hits beta;  Snowden backs international campaign to outlaw mass surveillance;  Quickly create a VPN with the Hotspot Shield browser extension;  Facebook kicks off 360-degree video;  Firefox Gets Built-In Instant Messaging;  iOS 9 security flaw skips PIN to allow access to photos, contacts;  What’s the best free alternative to Microsoft Office?  Mobile devices are kids’ preferred gaming tools;  Ransomware pushers up their game against small businesses;  Sprint aims to undercut T-Mobile with $1-per-month iPhone deal;  The 16 best one-hand Android games for fun on the go;  Microsoft kills SafeDisc DRM on Windows 7 and 8;  How much are you worth to Facebook? About $48.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Snowden backs international campaign to outlaw mass surveillance – The former US National Security Agency worker who leaked NSA files to the press helped launch a campaign Thursday to pass what’s informally being called the Snowden Treaty. The proposed international agreement would outlaw mass surveillance and protect whistle-blowers like himself. “This is a global problem that affects all of us,” Snowden said via video from Russia to a room filled with reporters and activists. “We have to come forward with proposals to assert what our rights are, traditionally and digitally.” The Snowden Treaty has the potential to vastly change the way governments gather intelligence on their citizens and other countries. But it’s unclear whether such a sweeping regulation on information-gathering could win the support it needs from UN member countries.

Firefox’s tracker-killing private browsing mode hits beta – The latest Firefox Beta builds for PCs (Windows, Mac, and Linux) and Android come packed with a new featured called Tracking Protection. True to its name, Tracking Protection actively blocks third-party tracking. To do this, Tracking Protection prevents any element of a webpage from loading that may have code designed to track your browsing habits. Let’s say you regularly visit a news site that always displays an ad supplied by a third-party advertising company, and those ads always appear to the right of the news articles. With Tracking Protection enabled you may not see the ads if they contain browser cookies designed to follow you across the web.

Young people think it’s OK to track your lover, survey says – Technically Incorrect: An Australian survey of people from 16 to 24 years old suggests the world can’t end too soon. Almost half said tracking their partners using technology is just fine.

This Is How Many Apps You’re Really Using on Your Smartphone – Every other day it feels like there’s a new hot app on the market, but in reality people are plenty comfortable with their old standbys. A new study by comScore reveals that smartphone owners in the U.S. typically only use about three apps frequently. According to the study, the average American devotes about half their app time to a single app. The second-most used app gets about 18% of total app time, and the third most-used one gets 10% of the time. Combined these three programs total 80% of total app time.

Quickly create a VPN with the Hotspot Shield browser extension – Access blocked content and protect yourself at public hotspots with the Hotspot Shield extension for Chrome or Firefox. It’s free, easy and effective. I tried the Chrome extension, and it couldn’t have been easier to use. Hotspot Shield installs a button to the right of Chrome’s URL bar that when clicked provides a toggle switch to enable and disable the extension along with an option to set your virtual location. There are five countries from which to choose: Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the US. You can choose one of the five countries by clicking on its flag or choose the globe to have Hotspot Shield choose for you.


Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

26 iOS 9 Tips for Apple Fanatics – It’s time to upgrade to iOS 9. Here are the top tricks that make it a worthwhile upgrade. For anyone with the latest iPhones, the jump to iOS 9 is worth it. The following tips and tricks will help you make the most of it. Use this knowledge to become an iPhone (and iPad) master.


It’s time to upgrade to iOS 9. Here are the top tricks that make it a worthwhile upgrade.

How to find free music online: We reveal our 5 favorite sources for scoring free tunes – Free music is hard to come by these days. The industry seems obsessed with having us rent music via subscription services instead. Even Apple has done away with its Free on iTunes section (after bringing it back for a few months earlier this year) so it can push its new Apple Music service. But free, legally downloadable music still exists online; you just have to know where to find it. Here are five services that offer free tracks with few strings attached.

What’s the best free alternative to Microsoft Office? – From the Cheapskate: Before you plunk down money for Office 2016, consider whether you can get by with a free suite — or even Microsoft’s free online version!

Facebook kicks off 360-degree video with a Star Wars speeder ride – It’s a first day of fall surprise from Star Wars and Facebook! The latter is unveiling the capability to post 3D video on the site and have it pop up in New Feeds across the world. Videos from GoPro, Vice, Satruday Night Live and more debuted on the site, but it was the Star Wars reveal that stole the show. In a collaboration between Industrial Light and Magic’’ X-Lab and Facebook, users can now click and drag their way through a 360 video that depicts a speeder ride through the new Star Wars planet of Jakku from The Force Awakens. From the point of view of the back of the speeder ridden by Daisy Ridley’’s character Rey in the new Star Wars movie, the 58 second ride takes us past the downed Star Destroyer and around the back past a junk dealer.


Here’s how to get rid of Internet Explorer – You would think that, because Windows 10 comes with Microsoft Edge preinstalled, you’d be able to ditch Internet Explorer. But you’d be wrong. Because Internet Explorer 11 comes preinstalled on Windows 10 — and no, you can’t uninstall it. But you can turn it off. This Control Panel hack works in previous versions of Windows, too. Here’s how to do it:

When your Windows registry gets cluttered, here’s what’s worth doing about it – Your Windows registry may look like a big mess, especially if you install and uninstall a lot of software. But before you clean it, here’s something else to consider.

The new Gear VR will work with any new Samsung phone and cost $99 – The new Gear VR looks a lot like its most recent iteration, with the exception of a redesigned trackpad, which has a D-pad-style cross that could make it easier to feel when you’re in VR. But unlike the previous ones, it’s not being referred to as an “innovator edition.” It’s also half the price of the old Gear VR: $99. Koo says that the new Gear VR will ship in November — before Black Friday — in the US, and will head worldwide shortly after. Part of today’s news is also the amount of new content that’s coming out over the coming months — including Netflix, TiVo, and Twitch.


Mobile devices are kids’ preferred gaming tools – Modern children prefer to play video games on mobile devices, according to a new report from NPD Group. The survey looked at kids ranging in age from 2 to 17, and discovered the PC has been knocked down from its top slot, no longer being the preferred gaming device. More than half of kids surveyed said they play video games on mobile devices regularly, while less than half of those kids reported playing games on a PC. The latter represents a 22 percent decrease over 2013’s report.


Firefox Gets Built-In Instant Messaging – The latest version of the browser, Firefox 41, made its debut this week with a new built-in instant messaging feature, letting you send and receive IMs when you’re in a Hello video call. At this point, the feature is only available on the desktop version for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The feature comes after Mozilla in January officially launched the WebRTC-based Hello video-calling feature, developed in partnership with Spanish telecom giant Telefónica, in Firefox 35. Now, for the first time, Hello includes IM support as well.

Google Keep released to iPhone – Today Google brings one of its lesser-known super-helpful apps “Google Keep” to iPhone. This app has been out for Google’s own Android operating system for many months, just coming to iOS for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch for the first time today. This app will allow you to keep notes, save thoughts with audio, and keep images of odd objects in check in one colorful place. This app is out for free on iOS starting this afternoon and should work on most if not all iOS devices released over the past several years, just so long as they have all their requisite software updates from Apple.


Google is now better at listening to you than ever – Google had already been employing deep neural networks — the same stuff responsible for those freaky distorted pictures — to compute the most likely thing you’re trying to say to your phone, but now it’s evolved its approach and started using recurrent neural networks. The new voice modelling allows Google to account for temporal dependencies, which is to say that it’s now better at analyzing every snippet of audio by referring to the sounds on either side of it. The upshot for users is an even faster, more accurate, and efficient voice search experience. The company even claims it’s more robust to noisy environment. The Google search app for iOS and Android is already using the new improved voice input, which is also present when dictating stuff into Android.

How to make Cortana search with Google instead of Bing in Windows 10 – Windows 10’s Cortana uses Bing for web searches by default with no official option to change it, but there are ways to get Cortana to embrace Google.

Microsoft’s new Invite app makes scheduling meetings on iPhone a breeze – Right now the app is only available for iPhone users in the U.S. and Canada, but Microsoft plans to bring it to Android and Windows Phone soon. The app is emblematic of the Garage’s tactics when it comes to creating and rolling out new products. A team working on a project inside the Garage starts with a hypothesis they want to test, like wanting to see if it’s possible to ease the pain of scheduling meetings. If a project is successful, it could get rolled into one of Microsoft’s larger products, so it’s possible that we could see this capability added into Outlook or another app at some point in the future.


It’s official: North America is out of new IPv4 addresses – North America has finally run out of new addresses based on IPv4, the numbering system that got the Internet where it is today but is running out of space for the coming era of networking.


Security wares like Kaspersky AV can make you more vulnerable to attacks – Antivirus applications and other security software are supposed to make users more secure, but a growing body of research shows that in some cases, they can open people to hacks they otherwise wouldn’t be vulnerable to. The latest example is antivirus and security software from Kaspersky Lab. Tavis Ormandy, a member of Google’s Project Zero vulnerability research team, recently analyzed the widely used programs and quickly found a raft of easy-to-exploit bugs that made it possible to remotely execute malicious code on the underlying computers. Kaspersky has already fixed many of the bugs and is in the process of repairing the remaining ones. In a blog post published Tuesday, he said it’s likely he’s not the only one to know of such game-over vulnerabilities.

iOS 9 security flaw skips PIN to allow access to photos, contacts – While iOS 9 has seen early success, already being installed on 50% of Apple’s devices less than a week after launch, a new potential security flaw has already been discovered. As demonstrated in the video below, the exploit can allow users to bypass an iPhone’s PIN-protected lock screen and get full access to saved photos and contacts. The flaw appears to take advantage of a bug related to using Siri at the lock screen.


Microsoft’s enterprise-grade security is coming to Windows 10 IoT – Microsoft launched a new Preview build for its version of Windows 10 that’s designed to run devices that are part of the Internet of Things, along with a development kit to help users test it out.

OPM revises hack details: 5.6m fingerprints compromised – In early June, the U.S. government revealed that four million federal employees were comprised as the result of a massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management. It has since been suggested the number could be higher, and that the type of data grabbed (supposedly by Chinese hackers) was more extensive than originally reported. Today the OPM made a new update about the hack, revealing the hackers stole a few million more fingerprints than originally believed.

Ransomware pushers up their game against small businesses – The majority of clicks on recent links spreading CryptoWall and TorrentLocker came from small and medium-sized businesses. CryptoWall is one of the most widespread ransomware programs, infecting nearly 625,000 systems between March and August 2014 and many more since then. Researchers estimate that it has earned well over $1 million for its creators. Small and medium-sized companies accounted for over 40 percent of clicks on TorrentLocker-related URLs in June and July. The number exceeds 50 percent when large enterprises are included.

Company News:

UberPOP ride-sharing service faces ban in Brussels – The low-cost service from San Francisco-based Uber lets drivers without a professional license transport customers, who hail them using a smartphone app, in their own cars. A Belgian commercial court on Thursday ruled in favour of cab firm Taxis Verts and ordered UberPop to shut down by October 15. UberX, which requires drivers to have a professional license, will continue to operate. Uber said it will appeal the court’s decision.

Microsoft ditches Bing for Baidu to push Windows 10 in China – Recently, tech companies have been taking major action to gain a foothold in the ripe market that is China, from Apple’s public apology to Google’s rumored censorship. The latest to make somewhat of a concession is Microsoft, though the implications are probably far less unprecedented or disruptive. The company has just announced one its latest major partnership in China, which will help it gain access to potentially hundreds of millions of users. But its deal with Baidu is coming at a small price, one that will see Bing out the door in the region.

Sprint aims to undercut T-Mobile with $1-per-month iPhone deal – On Thursday, Sprint announced a new deal in which customers who trade in their existing iPhone 6 can score a 16-gigabyte iPhone 6S by paying $1 a month or a 16GB iPhone 6s Plus for $5 a month. Available for an unspecificed “limited time only” (no end date has been announced), the new offer is part of Sprint’s iPhone Forever program, which lets new or existing customers eligible for a new phone get the latest iPhone as soon as it rolls out.

Facebook renames oft-criticized free website – So what’s in a name? Apparently a lot to Facebook, which on Thursday renamed its controversial website and app to Free Basics. The social network said the renaming was done to make a clearer distinction between the broader initiative and the website that provides free basic Internet services to underserved parts of the world. The renaming coincides with Facebook’s announcement that the revised platform is up and running.

Games and Entertainment:

The 16 best one-hand Android games for fun on the go – Clenching to the bus rail on your way to work, you don’t have both hands free to finish that Dead Trigger level you started last night. With a few minutes to spare, and one hand free, you need to find some games you can play with the same hand you’re holding your phone with. Your choices aren’t as limited as you might think. You’ll find that most of the titles are designed specifically with the portrait orientation in mind. However, some games are good enough to bend the rules, and you’ll see a couple games sprinkled in that are played in landscape mode.


Official Angry Bird movie trailer debuts – One of the most popular mobile games of the decade is Angry Birds. The game was so popular that it made Rovio, the developer of the game. We have known for a while now that a movie based on the Angry Birds game was in the works. The release date is set for sometime in 2016. I’m sure many have been wondering what the movie would be like and now we know thanks to the release of the first official trailer for the film.


Epic Games demos ‘Bullet Train’ game for Oculus Rift – Epic Games has demonstrated a new video game it has in the works titled “Bullet Train” — it is a VR game designed for the Oculus Rift, and as the name tongue-in-cheek references, it is a shooting game that takes place within a train station. Gamers get off the train in a train station and begin shooting a variety of firearms at various armor-clad baddies. Gameplay video after the jump! The trailer below shows the first look at Bullet Train as played on the Oculus Rift using Oculus Touch controllers. Said Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, “Using the Oculus Touch controller for locomotion, we’ve built a world-scale VR gunfight experience with gameplay that weaves in and out of bullet time. Presenting: Bullet Train.”


E-sports go primetime as TBS preps weekly Counter-Strike: Global Offensive TV show – Competitive gaming has become a wildly popular spectator sport without the help of mainstream TV, but now one network is trying to get in on the action. Starting next year, TBS will launch a new league for e-sports, with telecasts on Friday nights, the Wall Street Journal reports. The competitions will run for 20 weeks a year, starting with Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in the first season. Before each telecast, TBS will show preliminary competitions online, leading up to the Friday night showdowns. Players will compete for prize money, though TBS and partnering talent agency WME/IMG haven’t specified the amount. TBS is also considering drug tests for players, following other e-sports leagues that have grappled with the use of Adderall to boost attention.


Team Fnatic is crowned champions at this year’s ESL One Cologne e-sports event, the world’s largest CS:GO tournament.

Sling TV updates user interface on Xbox One – Dish Network’s Sling TV has a bunch of visual changes up its sleeve, and those changes are arriving first for those on Xbox One. The service announced the new changes today; included among them is a new channel guide and more details than before. Says Sling TV, subscriber feedback directly influenced this newest improvement. As such, the company is wanting more feedback — if you have a Sling TV subscription, you can tweet your feedback at Sling and make your voice known. The new Sling TV for Xbox One, first and foremost, brings better streaming and stability and fixes a bunch of bugs. Beyond that comes an improved user interface — one that includes a refreshed guide that is better able to accommodate the increased number of channels Sling TV offers.


Microsoft kills SafeDisc DRM on Windows 7 and 8 – When Windows 10 arrived, gamers found that some of their favorite older games would no longer fire up. Microsoft, it turned out, had declared both SafeDisc and SecuROM to be security risks. To that end, they made sure neither DRM scheme would function on Windows 10 systems. Now, they’ve decided to extend some of that protection to previous Windows versions, too. Microsoft has pushed a Windows Update to Windows 7 and Windows 8 that cripples SafeDisc. That’s good news from a security standpoint, but what if you feel like firing up some of your classic games that happen to rely on its DRM? Microsoft has provided a workaround. In the notes they provided for update MS15-097, they’ll walk you through the steps that are required to make SafeDisc functional again.


HBO NOW Is 2015’s Top Video Streaming App By Revenue, Study Finds – Video streaming apps that target cord cutters and those who want to watch video on their mobile phones are on the rise. According to new data from app store analytics firm App Annie, apps like the still relatively new HBO NOW, along with Hulu, are dominating the top app store charts by revenue, while others like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, Amazon’s Twitch and more, rank among the top apps by downloads. The findings were based on studies of the streaming video market and related app store rankings for a 12-month period ending July 2015, the firm said.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How much are you worth to Facebook? About $48 – Did you know your Facebook profile is worth more than your Twitter handle? At least, it is in terms of ad revenue. Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 1.5 billion users, stands to make $12.76 in ad revenue off each user worldwide this year and about $48.76 off each user in the United States, according to data from research firm eMarketer.

Trinity portable wind generator keeps you charged on the go – There are many places where it can be hard to keep your gadgets powered up and usable. If you like to spend time in the outdoors, this is the hardest place to get power. There are no outlets on the side of a mountain in Colorado, but you need to be able to keep in contact in case of an emergency. A new device called the Trinity Portable Wind Turbine Power Station can keep you juiced up no matter how far you are from home.


RePhone Lets You Turn Anything Into A Phone – Making a cellphone is easy. You go into a mine, pull up some ore, extract various metals and then add components that you manufacture from other mines. Then you have to get FCC clearance and create lithium ion battery. Finally, you need to write a Snake game. If you can’t do that, try RePhone. The project is actually a tiny circuit board with a SIM slot and an optional screen. It also supports Bluetooth. You’re going to want to get the $49 Kit Create, a tiny watch-like system that includes a little case and all the modules. It’s like getting a tiny unlocked cellphone for under $50.

U.S. drops to 55th in 4G LTE speeds – The average download speed on U.S. 4G networks inched up to 10Mbps (bits per second) in the June-August quarter, according to research company OpenSignal. That was an improvement from 9Mbps in the previous quarter, but the country’s global ranking fell from 43rd as users in other countries enjoyed much larger gains. New Zealand scored the highest average speed in the quarter with 36Mbps, coming up from nowhere in the rankings. But perennial standouts like South Korea and Singapore kept getting faster, too. The average LTE speed in Korea is now 29Mbps (up by 4Mbps), and in Singapore it’s 33Mbps, up by 5Mbps.

Dashcam captures plane calmly merging with rush hour traffic – The footage of the incident, which happened on the evening of September 16, is now reaching viral liftoff on YouTube. And who wouldn’t have reacted just as the driver who filmed it on his dashcam did, with an “Are you kidding me?”


Donald Trump unleashes trademark-fury on critic’s website – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to stop, a website that sells a variety of anti-Trump paraphernalia, including T-shirts and other doodads that have slogans like “Donald is Dumb” and “Stop Trump.” His lawyer has sent a cease-and-desist letter, ordering the website, to stop selling its anti-Trump wares, and hand over the domain name. Washington Post blogger and law prof Eugene Volokh points out that Trump has no case whatsoever. No one will be confused into thinking that the “Stop Trump” website or its gear for sale is authorized by Trump; and even if someone was confused, the trademark confusion and cybersquatting laws both allow for fair use, and criticism is the classic example.


U.N. Says Cyber Violence Is Equivalent to Physical Violence Against Women – Cyber violence is just as damaging to women as physical violence, according to a new U.N. report, which warns women are growing even more vulnerable to cyber violence as more and more regions gain internet access. The report calls itself a “wake-up call” about cyber violence as a systemic concern, especially as technology is spreading across more regions.

BBC video shows animals attacking in slow motion – BBC, as you may know, has a YouTube channel dedicated to videos about the outdoor world (ones posted exclusively online), and it’s called “Earth Unplugged”. On Wednesday, the network published a new video that slows time down, giving us an incredible look at animals as they attack. The video is in slow motion, and includes everything from an alligator punching out of the water to a praying mantis grabbing a cricket.


No sign of safety risks with longterm pot use for chronic pain – The study was conducted in Canada between 2004 and 2008. It followed 431 chronic pain patients for a year in order to assess the rates of adverse events, pulmonary effects, and neurocognitive function. The patients were divided into a group that used cannabis to treat that chronic pain (n=215) as well a control group that didn’t (n=216). A key strength of the work is that it was a prospective study; the participants were chosen before they started the treatment plan. As noted above, there was no difference in adverse effects in the cannabis-using group—in and of itself, that’s quite a useful finding. The study also found no significant change in neurocognitive function between cannabis users and control. That finding contradicts studies on recreational users that have found a negative effect on both attention and memory with longterm cannabis use.

Something to think about:

“First rule of holes. When you find yourself in one, stop digging.”

–    Will Rogers


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Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile – Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile is an advanced Android security app for smartphones & tablets.

It features antivirus, secure web browsing, lost device locator, call and SMS blocking and a mobile security management website.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Boycott tech companies supporting CISA, privacy group urges – Privacy advocates are stepping up their lobbying efforts against the controversial cyber threat information sharing bill currently in Congress after several tech giants indicated their support.

Activist group Fight for the Future criticized Salesforce for supporting legislation which would “grant blanket immunity for American companies to participate in government mass surveillance programs like PRISM, without meaningfully addressing any of the fundamental cyber security problems we face in the U.S.” Accordingly, Fight for the Future said it will abandon the Heroku cloud application platform within the next 90 days and encourages others to follow suit. The letter to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was posted on the site

Man arrested for disparaging police on Facebook settles suit for $35,000 – A Wisconsin man arrested for posting disparaging and profanity laced comments on a local police department’s Facebook page has settled a civil rights lawsuit and is being awarded $35,000.

Thomas G. Smith used the Facebook page of a rural Wisconsin village called Arena to, among other things, label local cops as “fucking racists bastards.”

He was charged criminally in state court on allegations of disorderly conduct and unlawful use of computerized communications. He was sentenced to a year of probation and 25 hours of community service. A state appeals court overturned his conviction last year.

Smith then sued, (PDF) leading to the $35,000 settlement Tuesday of a lawsuit that also accused the police department of deleting his and other critical comments while allowing favorable comments to remain online.

White House considered bypassing encryption with malware disguised as updates – A new report from The Washington Post details some of the latest ideas, including some that already have civil libertarians raising the alarm. The news comes from a draft memo from the president’s encryption working group, which was tasked with finding solutions that would be acceptable to tech companies and law enforcement alike. The result isn’t intended for public consumption, but it shows just how far we might need to go to appease law enforcement’s desire for backdoor access. The paper suggests four main proposals, including a forced backup system and a system triggered by combined consent from multiple parties. Another proposal suggested installing a special encrypted port that only the government would have access to.

The most controversial proposal was one that targeted the automatic software update system. “Virtually all consumer devices include the capability to remotely download and install updates,” the paper observes. It then proposes to “use lawful process to compel providers to use their remote update capability to insert law enforcement software into a targeted device.” It’s particularly ominous because the certificate system that protects those updates has been compromised before, most notably by the US-linked espionage malware known as Flame.

Forcing suspects to reveal phone passwords is unconstitutional, court says – The Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination would be breached if two insider trading suspects were forced to turn over the passcodes of their locked mobile phones to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

“We find, as the SEC is not seeking business records but Defendants’ personal thought processes, Defendants may properly invoke their Fifth Amendment right,” US District Judge Mark Kearney of Pennsylvania wrote.

The decision comes amid a growing global debate about encryption and whether the tech sector should build backdoors into their wares to grant the authorities access to locked devices. Ars reported today that an Obama administration working group “considered four backdoors that tech companies could adopt to allow government investigators to decipher encrypted communications stored on phones of suspected terrorists or criminals.”

Without this capability, the authorities are trying to get suspects to cough up their passwords instead. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the constitutionality of the issue. There’s been a smattering of varying court rulings nationwide on the topic. In 2012, a federal appeals court said that forcing a child-porn suspect to decrypt password-protected hard drives would amount to a Fifth Amendment violation.

Deal allowing tech companies to transfer data between US and EU is invalid – The “Safe Harbour” framework—which is supposed to ensure data transfers from the EU to the US are legal under European data privacy laws—does not satisfy the EU’s Data Protection Directive as a result of the “mass, indiscriminate surveillance” carried out by the NSA. That’s the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) Advocate General Yves Bot, whose views are generally followed by the CJEU when it hands down its final rulings.

The case was sent to the CJEU by the High Court of Ireland, after the Irish data protection authority rejected a complaint from Maximillian Schrems, an Austrian citizen. He had argued that in light of Snowden’s revelations about the NSA, the data he provided to Facebook that was transferred from the company’s Irish subsidiary to the US under the Safe Harbour scheme was not, in fact, adequately protected. The Advocate General Bot agreed with Schrems that the EU-US Safe Harbour system did not meet the requirements of the Data Protection Directive, because of NSA access to EU personal data.

According to the CJEU statement (PDF link), “the access enjoyed by the United States intelligence services to the transferred data constitutes an interference with the right to respect for private life and the right to protection of personal data, which are guaranteed by the [Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU].” Another issue, according to the Advocate General, was “the inability of citizens of the EU to be heard on the question of the surveillance and interception of their data in the United States,” which therefore amounts to “an interference with the right of EU citizens to an effective remedy, protected by the Charter.”

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – September 25, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 23, 2015

14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure;  Five handy tools for dealing with passwords;  For privacy and security, change these iOS 9 settings immediately;  Master Windows processes for better performance;  Gmail Now Lets You Easily Block Annoying Senders;  Amazon Prime Memberships Drop To $67 On Friday Only;  Four free Live Photos alternatives that work on any smartphone;  Use Streak for powerful customer management with Gmail;  Transfer files to your Windows 10 PC with a free tool;  How to install new memory in your PC;  Your Windows 10 troubleshooting and repair toolkit;  The Washington Post will publish all of its stories directly on Facebook;  Critical Flash Player updates patch 23 flaws;  FreedomPop Launches In The UK, Intros Free And $18/Month iPhone-Only Plans In US;  The price of your identity in the Dark Web? No more than a dollar;  Survey: Users love their desktops more than their cheapo tablets;  Star Wars Battlefront Beta Arrives Oct. 17.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure – From encrypted instant messengers to secure browsers and operating systems, these privacy-enhancing apps, extensions, and services can protect you both online and offline.


Tor’s network of bouncing your traffic through multiple relays makes it nearly impossible to track a user’s identity or activity. You can access almost every website anonymously, including “.onion” addresses, which are only accessible while connected to Tor.

Five handy tools for dealing with passwords – Passwords have been around for almost as long as computers have been. Even today, however, there are challenges associated with password use. For example, a user might forget a password or require more granular security than a standard login provides. Whatever the challenge, a number of utilities are available for working with passwords.

For privacy and security, change these iOS 9 settings immediately – Before you do anything on your new iPhone or iPad, you should lock it down. Here are the important tweaks you need to protect your privacy.

Gmail Now Lets You Easily Block Annoying Senders – Here is a small but useful new feature in Gmail that’s launching today: you can now block specific email addresses with two clicks. So whenever you’re getting a lot of email from somebody who is being annoying, you can now easily ban them from your inbox (and after they show remorse, you can unblock them again).


Master Windows processes for better performance – Does your Windows computer seem slow, or does it seem to be running a number of mysterious processes like svchost.exe? If you’ve looked at your list of running processes in the Windows Task Manager (press Ctrl-Shift-Esc on your keyboard and click the Processes tab), you’ve probably seen a lot of things that you don’t recognize. These can eat up system RAM, which can affect functionality, like how many applications and browser tabs you can have open at once. It’s a good idea to check the Processes list regularly for suspicious activity, but if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it can create needless anxiety. So let’s explore what the common processes do and how to manage them correctly.

Amazon Prime Memberships Drop To $67 On Friday Only – Amazon is always looking for ways to boost the numbers of Amazon Prime customers, whether that’s by holding a Black Friday-like “Prime Day” sales event or bundling in subscriptions alongside Amazon hardware, as it attempted with the launch of its own Fire Phone devices. This morning, the online retailer has a new gimmick – its dropping the price for Amazon Prime to just $67 in a one-day sale starting on Friday, September 25th at 12:01 AM ET, and ending at 11:59 PM PT. The company says the sale will last for only 24 hours, as it’s a limited time offer. Typically, Amazon Prime memberships, which also include free, 2-day shipping on over 20 million items, access to the Kindle Lending Library, Prime Music, unlimited photo storage, and more, cost $99.

Four free Live Photos alternatives that work on any smartphone – Jealous of the new Live Photos feature on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus? Check out these alternatives that work on older iPhones, Android and Window Phone devices.

Office 2016 arrives on the PC with an emphasis on teamwork and cloud features – Microsoft has officially started the worldwide rollout of its Office 2016 application suite – the first new version of Office for Windows in almost three years. For the 1.2 billion people who use Office, this latest iteration brings a slew of new features including a greater focus on collaboration and cloud services. Office 2016 – which is available as a standalone package or as part of a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service – will bring new versions of familiar Windows apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook.


Microsoft offers half-price Office to entice users of older versions – Microsoft announced a promotion Tuesday afternoon aimed at getting users of old versions of Office onto its subscription service.

7 Tips for a Killer Social CRM Strategy – Social media should be a core component of your business’s customer relationship management plan, but a successful Social CRM strategy is about more than racking up likes and followers to drive site traffic. Once you’ve gotten the audience, these seven tips will help your business make the most of the tools it’s using and the data it’s gathering, while turning the immediacy of social media into an asset rather than a liability.


Pro tip: Use Streak for powerful customer management with Gmail – There are some Chrome extensions that go a long way to make working with Gmail a far richer and powerful experience. One such extension is Streak. This particular addition to the Chrome browser (and Gmail) turns your Google email client into a powerful CRM tool, ready to help you:

Group emails from customers

Keep track of status, notes, and details of customers

Share with a team

See every email between customers and your team

Schedule email

Streak helps you manage business processes such as sales, hiring, support, and product development … all from within your Gmail inbox.

How to install new memory in your PC – If your PC’s feeling pokey when you have a lot going on, consider upgrading your RAM. A mere 4GB could work if you’re sticking to light tasks and not using Chrome, but 8GB is really the minimum we would recommend for a modern desktop PC. To future-proof your system, 16GB is the best option—the downside being increased cost, of course. Here’s how to do it.

Transfer files to your Windows 10 PC with a free tool – If you get a new Windows 10 PC, how do you move files from your old computer that’s running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7? Microsoft has one answer, a software utility called PC Mover Express, which Microsoft (in partnership with LapLink) is offering for free until August 31, 2016. Ordinarily PC Mover Express costs $30. The utility uses your local network, wired or wireless, to migrate your data over to a new PC, and you don’t have to figure it out on your own if you get stuck. The installer gives you a 1-800 number that you can call 24/7 to get instructions on how to use PC Mover Express, also at no cost. You can tell the app to send you an email or a text message when it has completed the transfer.


FreedomPop Launches In The UK, Intros Free And $18/Month iPhone-Only Plans In US – FreedomPop, the startup that is stirring up the world of mobile carriers with free phone services, is announcing two new advances that will help the company spread its brand to new demographics and new geographies. The company is kicking off the commercial launch of its service outside of the U.S. — in the UK, where CEO and co-founder Stephen Stokols says that 250,000 people have already signed up on a waiting list. And to coincide with Apple’s launch of its new iPhone models, it is unveiling new free and low-cost iPhone plans in the U.S.

Ava Is A Bracelet That Aims To Predict The Most Likely Days For Women To Get Pregnant – Ava, a health tracking bracelet for women collects hormonal and other data in an effort to predict a woman’s period and the days of the month she is most likely to get pregnant. The bracelet works by monitoring slight hormonal changes in a woman’s body that are normally unable for women to see or feel. Ava said it collects over 3 million data points relating to these changes every night and then determines where a woman is in her cycle to predict her most fertile days. It collects this data from 10 different sensors – although it is not clear what those sensors are. The startup would like to reveal that information at a later time.


The White House Joins Periscope And Broadcasts Pope’s Visit – The White House created a Periscope account on Tuesday, just in time for Pope Francis’ trip to the United States. The White House live broadcast Pope Francis stepping off his plane and greeting the Obama family. More than 11,000 viewers tuned into the White House’s inaugural stream. Twitter, which owns Periscope, is hoping to capitalize on coverage of his visit. The company announced three different emoji that can be used to track the pope’s movements in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York.

No need to worry if you missed a Periscope, now you have 24 hours to watch – If you don’t like the “live” nature of live-streaming, Periscope has an update for you that adds Web profiles for all accounts. Instead of checking Twitter to see when someone will be streaming, you can go straight to an individual Periscope user’s link to see if they are currently live-streaming, or if there are any broadcasts you missed that will be available for a 24-hour period. Web profiles are another welcome addition to increase the usability of the app, and Periscope agrees. In the introduction blog post, Periscope wrote, “We think it’s really important for broadcasters to have a home on the web, and today’s launch is just the beginning.”

Your Windows 10 troubleshooting and repair toolkit – If you’re experiencing problems with Windows 10, these are the built-in tools you can use for troubleshooting and repair.


Critical Flash Player updates patch 23 flaws – The updates fix a total of 23 flaws, of which 18 can potentially be exploited to execute malicious code on the underlying systems. Adobe is not aware of any exploits being publicly available for the fixed vulnerabilities. The other flaws could lead to information disclosure, bypassing of the same-origin policy mechanism in browsers and memory leaks. Two of the patches are adding or improving protections against vector length corruptions and malicious content from vulnerable JSONP callback APIs used by JavaScript programs running in browsers.

The price of your identity in the Dark Web? No more than a dollar – If you or your company is a victim of cyberattack, where does this stolen data go, and to what purpose?

XcodeGhost apps haunting iOS App Store more numerous than first reported – Security researchers have both good and bad news about the recently reported outbreak of XcodeGhost apps infecting Apple’s App Store. The bad: The infection was bigger than previously reported and dates back to April. The good: Affected apps are more akin to adware than security-invading malware. On a more positive note, the Appthority researchers found no evidence XcodeGhost-infected apps had the ability to trick users into divulging their credentials for the iCloud or other services. Analyses of infected apps showed they had the following capabilities:

Security firm is buying iOS 9 exploits for $1 million – Zerodium, a startup that bills themselves as the “premium zero-day vulnerability and exploit acquisition program”, are currently running a massive bug bounty program that is offering $1 million to developers who discover critical, exploitable flaws in iOS 9.

HP bulks up security features on enterprise LaserJet printers – HP has rolled out a new suite of secure, enterprise-class LaserJet printers and MFPs that the company said are designed to better protect against malicious attacks. The security lineup is part of HP’s effort to secure printers on enterprise networks with the same technology strongholds used across PCs. The company describes the enterprise IT network as one of the most vulnerable entry points in an organization. Citing a Ponemon Institute, HP claims that 64 percent of IT managers believe their networked printers are likely infected with malware, while 56 percent of enterprise companies ignore printers in their endpoint security strategy. To that end, HP’s range of printers and MFPs incorporate three new proprietary features, with two being rolled out to HP’s older printers via firmware updates.

Company News:

The Washington Post will publish all of its stories directly on Facebook – Facebook’s attempt to absorb the publishing world with Instant Articles started small and slow, but it looks like that’s about to change. Originally reported by Recode, The Washington Post made the surprising announcement today that it will publish “100% of its stories” to Facebook as Instant Articles. Facebook hasn’t opened Instant Articles to all of its users yet, but that’s still a big win for the platform since some publishers have approached it in trepidation; as of June, The New York Times, for example, was only ready to publish about 30 stories a day on Facebook.

Groupon Is Laying Off 1,100 At A Cost Of $35M, Shutters Operations In 7 Countries – Some significant downsizing is underway at Groupon, the daily deals and local-commerce site. The company is today announcing that it will be cutting 1,100 jobs — mostly in its sales (aka “deal factory”) and customer service operations — taking a pre-tax charge of $35 million in the process. As part of the restructure, Groupon is also ceasing operations in several markets internationally: Morocco, Panama, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Thailand and Uruguay will all be closing. The closures come on top of recent exits in Turkey and Greece and a sell-off of a controlling stake in Groupon India to Sequoia (news we first broke in March of this year).

France rejects Google’s appeal against implementing ‘right to be forgotten’ globally – France’s data protection watchdog, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), has rejected Google’s appeal against the global enforcement of the ‘right to be forgotten’ rule. In May this year, the CNIL ordered Google to apply the right to be forgotten rule – which lets people ask search engines to not display certain unflattering links resulting from a search on their name – to its global domain and not just European domains such as or

Instagram is now used by 400 million people each month – Instagram has hit a new milestone: 400 million monthly active users. The stat was announced in a blog post this afternoon, just about 10 months after Instagram first hit 300 million monthly active users. Instagram’s growth from 200 million to 300 million happened in around the same timespan, which means that the service is growing fast, although its growth is not necessarily accelerating. Still, it’s grown to an impressive size. Twitter is currently at 316 million monthly active users, and Pinterest just hit 100 million.

Red Hat tops Q2 expectations, ups annual outlook – The open source purveyor reported a net income of $51 million, or 28 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 47 cents per share on a revenue of $504 million, up 13 percent year-over-year. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 44 cents per share with $494.65 million in revenue. CEO and president Jim Whitehurst touted in prepared remarks that Red Hat became the first open source company to achieve a $2 billion annual run rate in revenue this quarter.

Games and Entertainment:

Star Wars Battlefront Beta Arrives Oct. 17 – Star Wars fans who have been clamoring for a beta version of the upcoming Battlefront game are about to get their wish. Electronic Arts on Monday announced plans to launch Star Wars Battlefront Beta in “early October” on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Origin for PC leading up to game’s official release on Nov. 17. EA called the beta a “technical test,” which will feature several game modes, including Walker Assault on Hoth, a multiplayer battle between Rebels and the Empire supporting up to 40 players (20 versus 20). Walker Assault will also give you the opportunity to play as two of the most iconic Star Wars characters: Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.


Call of Duty: Black Ops III Limited Edition 1TB PS4 launches in November – Sony has introduced a new PlayStation 4 bundle for Call of Duty fans, but with a design that, we suspect, won’t bring the game franchise to the minds of most gamers. It is called the Call of Duty: Black Ops III Limited Edition PlayStation 4 bundle, and it’ll be shipping on November 6. Ahead of that, though, you can pre-order the bundle through Amazon to ensure you’re not left out. Sony introduced the new bundle on Tuesday. This follows the company’s Call of Duty announcement at E3 earlier this summer — that gamers on its platform would get the Black Ops III Beta early access and DLC. If you’re really keen on that, Sony is hoping you’ll nab one of its newly designed consoles as well.


Nvidia’s new laptop GPU is actually a desktop GPU – One of NVIDIA’s best desktop graphics cards is coming to laptops. The GTX 980 — not to be confused with the similarly named mobile GPU, the GTX 980M — will be crammed into an upcoming crop of high-end gaming laptops. NVIDIA promises its new mobile chip and its desktop variant are one and the same in regards to power, providing a 30 percent performance bump above the company’s previous best mobile GPU. That means the latest AAA video games, including Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain and Batman Arkham Knight, should run at max settings on the go. And for future games that will push the system, the GTX 980 laptops will allow for overlocking, memory speed adjustment, and fan control — though only within some restrictions determined by NVIDIA and its OEMs, companies like MSI and ASUS that manufacture the GPUs and the laptops powered by them.

System Shock, the classic 1994 shooter, has been re-released on – The game that influenced Deus Ex, BioShock, and Half-Life gets a special 21st birthday present: System Shock Enhanced Edition, with updated controls and widescreen.


Next Hitman Game Delayed Until March – The next installment of the Hitman franchise won’t be launching this year as expected. Fans were expecting the game to land on Dec. 8 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. But it will now arrive in March 2016, developer IO Interactive announced. “We’re striving to create a series of living, breathing worlds in those locations and we get pretty obsessed about every detail that you’ll experience,” IO Interactive said. “We want to make absolutely sure you all get the best possible experience when you join, so we’ve made the difficult decision to move the initial release date to March 2016.”

wps_clip_image-20726 site gets a refresh, Window 10 beta app now live – Things are rolling for the Xbox One and they are rolling fast, all heading for the grand November update party. Just last Monday, Major Nelson revealed some of the latest and greatest features in the New Xbox One Experience that is rolling out to a select few testers. Now its time for other parts of the Xbox ecosystem to get a revamp. At the top of the list is the website, which now features two new capabilities. On Windows 10 as well, the Xbox app, still in beta, lands on the Microsoft Store. The Xbox website isn’t getting an overhaul in terms of design but it is getting two significant features. For one, now you can access your voice messages directly from the website. This means no more having to wait until you get home to your console just to hear that hopefully important audio snippet from your Xbox Live friends.


Shatner to host ‘Star Trek’ 50th anniversary at first Silicon Valley Comic Con – No comic book or pop culture convention is complete without an appearance from legendary “Star Trek” actor William Shatner. The geek icon will host a special 50th anniversary celebration for “Star Trek” alongside other stars from the acclaimed TV and film series at Silicon Valley Comic Con at the San Jose Convention Center in California between March 18, 2016 and March 20, 2016.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Survey: Users love their desktops more than their cheapo tablets – That bright shining future where they predicted consumers would forsake their fuddy duddy desktops for tablets? Try again. The latest survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index showed consumer satisfaction with tablets plummeted this year by six percent, while desktops held strong. “Weaker customer satisfaction and slowing sales growth suggest that early enthusiasm for tablets has worn off,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder. “As large-screen smartphones become more popular, they’ve made tablets somewhat redundant —caught in between the mobility of a smartphone and the power and functionality of a desktop.”

These Are the First Photos Shot With the iPhone 6s – The iPhone 6s has yet to hit the stores, but TIME asked photographer Benjamin Lowy to take it for a spin around New York ahead of the device’s Sept. 25 release. The results are unexpected, says Lowy, who brought the new phone to Coney Island and on board of one of Fly NYON‘s helicopters above Manhattan. The new iPhones feature improved camera systems. The main rear-facing camera now has a redesigned imaging sensor with 12 megapixels, a 50% boost from the iPhone 6’s eight megapixels. To compensate for the smaller-sized photosites, Apple is using what it calls “deep trench isolation” technology, which introduces lightproof dividers between pixels to prevent light leaks, which usually produce noise and inaccurate colors.


You really do have an aura (but it’s stinky not spiritual) – Humans are indeed surrounded by a mysterious aura, but it’s not the etherial glow that spiritualists claim. Instead, researchers have discovered exactly what surrounds us – and how it can identify us – in our own personal microbial cloud, an unexpected bacterial fingerprint. The study, carried out by a University of Oregon team led by James Meadow, found that while everybody is surrounded by invisible clouds of Streptococcus – usually found in the mouth – along with skin-borne Propionibacterium and Corynebacterium, the exact proportions of each were more personal.

Here’s how to watch Sunday’s Supermoon Eclipse – Some celestial phenomena happen regularly, but infrequently, and you may only get a few chances to see them during your lifetime. A supermoon lunar eclipse is one such event, a time when the moon is both at its closest to the Earth and when it passes into our planet’s shadow, causing a lunar eclipse. The last time this event happened was back in 1982, and if you happened to have missed it (or weren’t born yet), September 27 will be your next shot at witnessing the supermoon event.


The Volkswagen Scandal Shows Why We Need an Apple Car – Apple building a car should put the auto industry on notice; it is time to get serious about electric vehicles.

Tested by AAA: People park worse than self-parking cars – Humans lose out to the machines this time. In tests conducted by the American Automobile Association, self-parking cars did the deed faster and more precisely than human drivers.

Feeling unmotivated or depressed? Here’s how to move forward – It can get lonely being a leader, despite a flurry of activity and dozens of people seeking your advice and assistance. Conflicting and vague objectives, opportunities that never seem to pan out, and significant time invested in activities that don’t generate tangible results can contribute to a feeling of being stuck. In some cases, a simple walk or break from the task at hand may clear your head and provide much-needed focus, while other cases can border on depression, panic, or a general malaise that lasts for months. Here’s how to identify when you’re stuck, and how to begin the process to recovery.

Leaf Is A “Plug N’ Plant” Box To Automatically Grow Pot In Your Home – Marijuana is a sticky subject. Twenty-three states (and D.C) have legalized some form of medical use, but possession, growth and distribution are still illegal in the majority of the United States. However, as is the case with most new industries, slow regulation hasn’t stopped innovation. Leaf, a TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 Battlefield company, is leading the revolution with its automated “Plug N’ Plant” home growing system. Leaf’s device is a 4′ x 2′ box that will fit two plants, which will yield between 4-5 ounces of weed. However, Leaf is much more than just a mini grow house. The system will monitor everything that your plants need to grow, including light, ventilation, nutrient levels and pH of the soil.


Streaming music earns a third of US industry revenue, topping physical sales – The popularity of streaming music has been on the rise for some time now, but today there’s actual numbers backing up its increasing dominance. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has released their mid-year sales report for 2015, and it reveals that for the first time in the US, streaming music has earned more revenue that physical sales.

Broadband is a “core utility” like electricity, White House report says – Broadband Internet service “has steadily shifted from an optional amenity to a core utility” and is now “taking its place alongside water, sewer, and electricity as essential infrastructure for communities,” says a report released by the White House yesterday. The report was written by the Broadband Opportunity Council, which was created by President Obama and is chaired by the heads of the Commerce and Agriculture departments. In an accompanying blog post, the White House touted Obama’s “leadership” in expanding broadband access but said that nearly 51 million Americans still cannot purchase wired broadband with download speeds of at least 25Mbps.

6 Ways to Tell If a Viral Story Is a Hoax – Easy ways to educate yourself amid ever-growing sea of digital media

Something to think about:

“Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.”

–     Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845)


Speccy – Fast, lightweight, advanced system information tool for your PC.

See what’s inside your PC – Speccy is the place to start if you need to know what’s inside your PC. See a quick summary, or dive deeper into every aspect of your PCs hardware so you can make informed upgrade and purchasing decisions.

Detailed Reporting – Speccy gives you detailed information on every piece of hardware in your computer. Save time trawling through your computer for stats like CPU, motherboard, RAM, graphics cards and more. See everything laid out for you in one clean interface.

Proactive problem solving – See real-time temperatures of critical components so you can easily spot problems before they occur.

Save Snapshots – Speccy allows you to save your scan results directly as a snapshot, XML or text file for easy sharing. Handy for making sure your new computer has the right specs, or if tech support need to diagnose an issue with your computer.


Screenshot from a machine I’m working on this morning.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Senate scraps plan demanding Internet companies report terrorist activity – A secretly approved Senate plan requiring e-mail providers, social media sites, and other Internet companies to report online terrorist activity has been scrapped.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) had invoked a procedural hold on the Intelligence Authorization Act until the removal of the provision requiring companies like Twitter and Facebook to report suspicious online activities. The language was secretly and unanimously adopted by the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 24, and now it has been removed, Wyden said.

“Going after terrorist recruitment and activity online is a serious mission that demands a serious response from our law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” Wyden said. “Social media companies aren’t qualified to judge which posts amount to ‘terrorist activity,’ and they shouldn’t be forced against their will to create a Facebook Bureau of Investigations to police their users’ speech.”

Wyden’s move frees up a Senate vote on 2016 funding for the CIA, FBI, and NSA. The House passed funding legislation in June without the terrorist reporting requirement. Ars first reported on the once-secret reporting requirement in July.

ISIS supporters preferred tweeting with Android over iPhone and Blackberry.

Several companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, complained that the reporting provision was vaguely written and would amount to “an impossible compliance problem.”

Outcry forces India to amend legislation that would ban deletion of emails, IMs – A wave of outrage over clauses in a draft of its new National Encryption Policy, which seeks to improve India’s cybersecurity, has led the government to amend the proposed legislation.

The policy draft, written by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, stipulated that mobile users in the country would be legally required to store any encrypted communications on their devices for up to 90 days — and could be punished if they failed to comply.

Almost every Internet-based method of communication uses some level of encryption. This means that deleting messages that are less than three months old from widely used instant messengers, like WhatsApp, Viber and Hike, as well as from e-mail clients such as Gmail, would be illegal.

“All information shall be stored by the concerned [organisations/citizens] entity for 90 days from the date of transaction and made available to Law Enforcement Agencies as and when demanded in line with the provisions of the laws of the country,” the draft read.

However, following public and social media outcry, an amendment was made excluding “mass encryption products” like the above mentioned services from the policy.

US Congress members urged to embrace encrypted apps – Congress members and staff are being urged by a civil rights group to use encrypted smartphone apps such as WhatsApp and Signal rather than traditional cellular networks.

Unlike cellular networks which use weak and outdated encryption, some of the newer apps use strong and modern encryption to protect their customers’ communications, the American Civil Liberties Union has written in a letter Tuesday to officials in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The move is not going to cost a lot. Many members of Congress already have smartphones and the apps like Signal and WhatsApp are free and can be easily downloaded from app stores. Besides, Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage apps are already built into Apple’s iOS mobile operating system and thus are available to every member or staffer with an iPhone, according to ACLU’s letter to Frank J. Larkin, Senate Sergeant at Arms and Paul D. Irving, House Sergeant at Arms.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 21, 2015

AVG says it can sell your browsing data;  How to enable Windows 10’s ‘Hey Cortana’ voice commands;  5 reasons to buy Amazon’s $50 tablet — and one not to;  Apple posts fix for iOS 9 ‘Slide to Upgrade’ bug;  Nasty URL bug brings Google Chrome to a screeching halt;  Tech finds 1.5M US medical records exposed on AWS;  Developer Removes Top Ad-Blocker From App Store;  Transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card;  Installing Linux on a Chromebook: What you need to know;  Mandatory South Korean parental control app is a security nightmare;  Why Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever;  The BBC to launch a streaming service in the U.S.; Microsoft sued over alleged gender discrimination;  Products with Microbeads: why you need to stop using them, now;  25 Habits That Will Make You Smarter;  A sport plane for the masses – if you have $189,000 to spare;  SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

 AVG says it can sell your browsing data in updated privacy policy – AVG has updated its privacy policy’s language, and in the amended document, the security firm admits that it can “make money from [its] free offerings with non-personal data.” These “non-personal” info include your device’s brand, language and apps in use, among other things. The company is adamant that it doesn’t sell anything with identifying information, and the data that it does collect is anonymized and stored without anything that can link it back to you. According to the updated policy, AVG can collect data you yourself provide — plus, it can use cookies to track your searchers and your activities on websites, apps and other products. It can then use those details to “build anonymous data profiles” or create statistical information, which it can then sell.

5 reasons to buy Amazon’s $50 tablet — and one not to – Yesterday, Amazon took the wraps off a $50 tablet, the simply named Fire. As you might expect, I’m a little excited. Admittedly, I haven’t seen or handled the new Fire, so I can’t address the elephant in the room: the screen. (More on that below.) But here are five reasons I think this is something you’ll want, either for yourself or as a gift.


Fifty bucks. Remember when all tablets were $500?

How to enable Windows 10’s ‘Hey Cortana’ voice commands – One of the best parts of Windows 10 is its deep integration with Cortana, Microsoft’s helpful digital assistant. To really make Cortana work for you, however, it helps to have the voice activation feature up and running. That way your next file search, weather check, or command to open an app is just a “Hey, Cortana” away.

Apple posts fix for iOS 9 ‘Slide to Upgrade’ bug – If you’ve upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 9 and it is stuck on the ‘Slide to Upgrade’ screen, this is the fix you’re looking for.

How to delete large attachments to save storage space in Gmail – If you’re pushing the 15GB limit for Gmail and Google Drive, you can save space by using FindBigMail’s service, or by running some simple searches – though you still can’t delete attachments without deleting the emails as well.

Nasty URL bug brings Google Chrome to a screeching halt – Visiting—or merely mousing over a link that contains a specific string of characters—is enough to cause the current release of the Chrome browser to crash. According to VentureBeat, merely appending “%%30%30” to the end of a URL will cause Chrome to hang and crash. The cruelest twist? You don’t even have to open a malformed URL to cause the crash–merely mousing over the link is enough to bring down Chrome. (In other words, don’t add the above string to URLs unless you like cussing at your computer. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

Five to Try: Android Pay starts rolling out, and Spotify amps up your runs – We usually try to throw the spotlight on brand new apps with our weekly Five to Try column, but sometimes massive updates steal the show. It’s actually a little of both with Android Pay: the app itself is a totally new experience, although it’s being released as a rebranded update to the old Google Wallet. In any case, if you’re eager to tap and pay with your phone, it’s the app to get this week.

How to transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card – With a little bit of research and elbow grease, an external graphics setup can transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse for a fraction of the price of a whole new gaming PC.


Installing Linux on a Chromebook: What you need to know – Chromebooks are more powerful than you realize already, but zooming around the web in Google’s browser is just the beginning of what Chromebooks are capable of. Chrome OS is built on top of the Linux kernel, and you can install a full Linux environment alongside Chrome OS on your Chromebook. This gives you access to Steam and over a thousand PC games, Minecraft, Skype, and everything else that runs on desktop Linux.

Microsoft’s Edge browser will soon support Skype calls without a plugin – Skype is a natural fit for ORTC, and sure enough, the Skype team announced Friday that it is working on new versions of Skype for Web and Skype for that take advantage of this new technology. According to the Skype blog, “Skype users will be able to make voice and video calls without needing to install a plug-in on Microsoft Edge” starting sometime later this year. The Skype team says it’s also working on a plugin-free version of Skype for Business for Edge users, though it didn’t say when it expects to have that ready to rock.

Microsoft delivers Windows 10 test Build 10547 to Fast Ring Insiders – Microsoft has rolled out a new Windows 10 test build for PCs, 10547, as well as updates to a number of the built-in Windows 10 apps, for those on the Fast RIng.

Developer Removes Top Ad-Blocker From App Store: It ‘Just Doesn’t Feel Good’ – App developer Marco Arment just pulled his wildly popular ad-blocker, Peace, from the market. Arment said he didn’t feel good about the app, and has pulled it from the Apple’s App Store, announcing the move in a blog post Friday. “I’ve pulled Peace from the App Store. I’m sorry to all of my fans and customers who bought this on my name, expecting it to be supported for longer than two days. It’ll keep working for a long time if you already have it, but with no updates,” he wrote. He’s offering consumers a refund, as well as linking to instructions on how to get one.


Mandatory South Korean parental control app is a security nightmare – Back in April, South Korea required that wireless carriers install parental control apps on kids’ phones to prevent young ones from seeing naughty content. It sounded wise to officials at the time, but it now looks like that cure is worse than the disease. Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab have discovered 26 security holes in Smart Sheriff, the most popular of these mandatory parental apps. The software has weak authentication, sends a lot of data without encryption and relies on servers using outdated, vulnerable code. It wouldn’t be hard for an intruder to hijack the parent’s account, intercept communications or even scoop up the kids’ personal details. The worst part? Some of these vulnerabilities apply on a large scale, so a particularly sinister attacker could compromise hundreds of thousands of phones at once.

Apple’s Chinese App Store Has Come Under a Malware Attack – According to the Wall Street Journal, hackers planted an outwardly normal version of an Apple software called Xcode, used to develop iOS applications, on a Chinese cloud service called Baidu Pan. Developers began using it because it was faster to download than the Xcode software from Apple’s U.S. servers, the CBC reports, citing Palo Alto Networks director of threat intelligence Ryan Olson. However, the Chinese version was fraudulent and “Trojanized.” Olson told CBC that the breach was “a pretty big deal” as it showed that the App Store could be compromised.

VisitorTracker Malware Affects Thousands of WordPress Sites – Bad news for those using WordPress for their corporate or personal websites. According to security firm Sucuri, a not-so-insignificant number of WordPress installations have been compromised by a new “visitorTracker_isMob” piece of malware over the past two weeks. Visitors who attempt to go to these sites are redirected to a new page that probes their system for all kinds of weaknesses. If one is found, said system is compromised, and it only gets worse from there.

Tech finds 1.5M US medical records exposed on AWS – The private health records and private contact information of as many as 1.5 million Americans have been posted to Amazon’s cloud services. Names, addresses, and phone numbers along with biological health information including existing illnesses and current medications were posted in the clear to Amazon servers by insurers using Systema Software. It is unknown how the information was posted while the number of affected patients remains unconfirmed. Kansas’ State Self Insurance Fund, CSAC Excess Insurance Authority, and the Salt Lake County Database are known to be affected. Texan tech Chris Vickery spotted the files on Amazon servers and reported the breach to Systema Software. The company has since warned its affected customers and has kicked off an investigation.

South Korea hit with over 114,000 cyberattacks in 5 years – South Korea may have the fastest Internet speed in the world, but it looks like the country needs to ramp up its security. On Friday it was revealed that South Korea’s government has been hit by more than 110,000 cyberattacks in the past five years.

Why Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever – So far the buzz has mainly been about Windows Hello, which supports face and fingerprint recognition. But Device Guard and Credential Guard are the two standout security features of Windows 10—they protect the core kernel from malware and prevent attackers from remotely taking control of the machine. Device Guard and Credential Guard are intended for business systems and are available only in Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education.

Company News:

Microsoft sued over alleged gender discrimination – The lawsuit comes from former worker Katie Moussouris, who served in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group in Redmond for more than half a decade. According to the lawsuit, Microsoft’s female technology professionals are paid less than their male counterparts, among other issues. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that sexual harassment took place against female workers via the man who was directing the Trustworthy Computing Group in 2008. Allegedly when a company investigation found this to be true, Microsoft allowed this individual to retain his “title and influence,” and simply reassigned him to a different part of the group.

T-Mobile Simple Global expands to all Europe, South America – Unsatisfied with trying to conquer the US, T-Mobile wants to spread its Un-carrier words beyond the country’ borders. Today it announces that its Simple Global scheme, which tries to make the world a smaller place through your smartphone, is expanding to 20 more countries, including all of Europe and all of South America. This means that in 145 countries, eligible subscribers can browse the Web or send SMS at no extra cost than what they would pay while at home, while calls do get charged $0.20 per minute.


AT&T says rogue employees secretly unlocked hundreds of thousands of phones – AT&T said three of its employees secretly installed software on its network so a cellphone unlocking service could surreptitiously funnel hundreds of thousands of requests to its servers to remove software locks on phones. AT&T’s allegations are made in a filing with U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in which it accuses two companies, four people and an unknown software developer or developers, of participating in the audacious scheme. AT&T filed its lawsuit on Sept. 11 but it was first reported by Geekwire on Friday.

Comcast strikes settlement with California over privacy issue – The settlement was announced on Thursday, and is related to claims that Comcast published personal customer data online, including phone numbers, names, and addresses. This is said to have affected “tens of thousands” of Comcast subscribers who had shelled out for an unlisted VOIP service. The settlement amounts to $33 million, with $25 million of that going toward paying legal fees related to the investigation and penalties. The other $8 million will be going to customers who were affected as restitution. All 75,000 or so affected subscribers will get refunds for the payments they made for unlisted service.

Games and Entertainment:

How to use Windows 10’s Game DVR to record videos of your PC gaming– With Windows 10’s Game DVR feature, you can easily record your gaming exploits and share with your Xbox-using friends—all without downloading and installing additional software like Nvidia’s ShadowPlay or OBS. Here’s how to get started.


GameStop refuses to sell console bundles with digital games – These days, when you purchase a new video game console that comes with bundled with one or more games, what’s inside the box is actually a code for redeeming a downloadable digital copy of the game. As it turns out, GameStop, one of the largest video game retailers in the US, doesn’t like this due to the fact that the vast majority of their profits come from trading in and selling of used games. So, the company has recently announced that it will no longer carry bundles with digital games, and only sell those with a physical copy.

The BBC to launch a streaming service in the U.S. – The BBC will launch a paid, on-demand streaming service in the U.S. next year, its head honcho Tony Hall revealed Thursday. It’s a move designed to boost the corporation’s overseas income amid the prospect of a serious reduction in domestic funding. The UK’s public service broadcaster is by no means a newcomer to the streaming game. It has offered an online TV catch-up service called iPlayer in its homeland since late 2007, and until not that long ago, also operated a subscription-based streaming service in more than a dozen markets around the globe. This upcoming venture, however, will be its first foray into the rapidly expanding U.S. streaming-video market.

Off Topic (Sort of):

25 Habits That Will Make You Smarter – Want to expand your mind? A little bit of effort every day goes a long way. In the Quora thread, “What would you do to be a little smarter every single day?”, readers shared the habits they follow to fuel their brains. Here are some simple actions that could help you become a smarter person.

A sport plane for the masses? Fun, sure — if you have $189,000 to spare – Earlier this week, I had a chance to take a flight in a diminutive airplane called the ICON A5. For someone whose air travel has typically meant an economy-class seat on a commercial airliner, sitting in the pilot’s seat of the A5 stoked a mixture of reactions. It was exhilarating, crazy, a little scary and, above all, a lot of fun. At $189,000 for the plane, it would be an extremely expensive hobby.


The ICON A5 sport plane can take off from land or water. Sarah Tew/CNET

Watch these drones build a rope bridge – One of the big selling points of drones is that they can get to areas that aren’t exactly safe or accessible by humans. That’s why watching quadrocopters assembling a rope bridge that’s sturdy enough for a person to walk across is so damned awesome — it immediately calls to mind a real-world use scenario that probably all of us can relate to. The video below was filmed at RTH Zurich Flying Machine Arena in Switzerland, and, according to the YouTube description, aside from the scaffolding on either side of the bridge, the structure is “entirely realized by flying machines.” Every knot and braid in the 7.4 meter (just over 24 feet) bridge was tied by the UAVs using Dyneema rope. As Robohub tells it, the material has a low weight-to-strength ratio that makes it pretty great for aerial construction uses.

Products with Microbeads: why you need to stop using them, now – The dangers of using health and beauty products with microbeads have been explored in a paper published this week in at the ACS. With the American Chemical Society, researchers have (once again) confirmed a number of reasons why microbead products contaminate our shared environment, suggesting then that the inclusion of microbeads in all products be banned immediately. While some bans have begun, much of the world continues to allow the manufacture and distribution of microbeads without regulation.


Volkswagen to recall 500,000 US vehicles because it used software to cheat on emission testing – German automaker Volkswagen has run afoul of US environmental regulators, and it could cost the company big. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a notice to Volkswagen that it broke the law by using software to circumvent emissions testing. The result is a mandatory recall of 500,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from model years 2009-2015. Volkswagen was caught building a so-called “defeat device” into its consumer diesel vehicles including the Jetta, Beetle, Passat, and Audi A3. This is essentially a special software mode that is only triggered when the car detects that it is undergoing official emissions testing. The engine will then be on its best behavior, so to speak.

Something to think about:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” 

–    Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Real Time System Protection – SpyShelter guards your registry, physical memory (RAM) and other sensitive computer parts among with processes, so that malicious code cannot be injected to take control of your PC.

Anti key logger – SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger ensures that whatever you type into your computer, is protected against dangerous people who want to steal your data! With SpyShelter, your personal data will be safe.

Clipboard Protection – SpyShelter shields sensitive data that can be found in your Windows clipboard as a result of copying, cutting, and pasting. Spyshelter ensures that this information will not be maliciously monitored by other people.

64 bit support – SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger is fully compatible with both 32 and 64 bit editions of Windows XP(SP2 and SP3), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

Keystroke Encryption – SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger has an integrated keystroke encryption driver which encrypts your keystrokes while you are browsing the web. This means that even if you allow any malicious application to run on your system, it will only retrieve meaningless random text.

Virus Total uploader – Afraid of viruses? SpyShelter allows you to perform a quick online scan of any suspicious files using over 40 different antiviruses, with just one mouse click!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

You can now find out if GCHQ spied on you – Anyone who has ever wondered how much information GCHQ knows about them can now ask the British intelligence agency directly. GCHQ has to reveal information illegally obtained and shared with the NSA before the end 2014 about citizens of any country. And after revealing what it collected, the information must be permanently deleted.

Privacy International’s “Did GCHQ spy on you?” tool attempts to make it easier for people to get in touch with the spy agency. It was originally launched in February but this earlier version of the tool saw Privacy International make requests on the public’s behalf. As GCHQ was not legally compelled to respond the tool was effectively useless.

“We think that millions of people’s fundamental rights have been violated and that they have a right to know that,” Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International tells WIRED.

The updated tool requires that people make their own request, with GCHQ required to reply to all properly filed requests. All requests will be handled by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, an independent body that deals with complaints made against the UK’s surveillance agencies.

Kim Dotcom finally faces extradition hearing – It’s been three-and-a-half tumultuous years since New Zealand Police raided Kim Dotcom’s mansion in Coatesville, Auckland.

Accused by the FBI of copyright violation, racketeering and money laundering, Dotcom fought a ferocious legal and extralegal campaign to avoid extradition to the United States.

Along the way, he embarrassed the Police, New Zealand spy agency the GCSB, the Prime Minister, disastrously entered the political fray via the Internet Party, released an album of music and appeared in TV ads.

Today, in an Auckland court, he finally faces the hearing he tried so hard to avoid.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – September 18, 2015

Watch TV for free with these 10 Android apps;  Five tips and tricks for finding, sharing, and organizing your Google Drive on Android;  M.2 SSD roundup: Tiny drives deliver huge performance;  9 Ways to Make Your Old iPhone Work Faster and Last Longer;  Troubleshooting and repairing Windows 10 problems;  Before and After iOS 9: What’s Different?  How to switch from iPhone to Android and keep all your stuff;  Apple seduces Android users with switch-to-iOS app;  Overtime Is A Social Network For The Sports Obsessed;  Facebook’s Signal is a news-finding tool for journalists;  Amazon is selling a six-pack of tablets;  Sneaky malware allows online poker players to peek at your cards;  Apple AirDrop flaw leaves users vulnerable to exploit;  Pinterest now has 100 million monthly users;  Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2;  Xbox 360 gets big update with 2GB cloud storage and other new features;  Star Wars Battlefront beta open to all;  Why the Ad-Blocking War Could Hurt All of Us;  Tech Firms Support Bill Expanding Privacy Rights To Non-U.S. Citizens.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Watch TV for free with these 10 Android apps – Thinking of tossing your cable box or ditching your satellite dish? If so, good news: many of your favorite shows are (probably) available for free on your Android phone or tablet. All you need are the right apps. We’ve rounded up 10 free TV apps that offer at least some of their full episodes without verifying a cable or satellite subscription, or requiring any other sort of payment beyond sitting through a few advertisements. Indeed, some of the best apps on our list serve up all their episodes for free, no pay-TV login required. Ready to sit back and start streaming? Let’s get started.

Troubleshooting and repairing Windows 10 problems – Windows 10 has been in wide release for only a few months so far, and as with any version 1.0 release some early adopters are experiencing issues. Here’s Ed Bott’s guide to some time-tested troubleshooting tools and techniques.

Five tips and tricks for finding, sharing, and organizing your Google Drive on Android – Much of what you can go with Drive on your computer, you can also do on Android. Here’s a guide to where all the new and important tools are.

Amazon Trade-In: Fair value for your iPhone or scam? – I mailed in a mint condition iPhone 6 for Amazon credit only to see the value degraded by the online retail giant. And it’s happened more than once and with increasing frequency.

9 Ways to Make Your Old iPhone Work Faster and Last Longer – Do you know the list price of the new iPhone 6s, which is available for pre-order now and officially goes on sale next Thursday? No, it’s not the $199 or $299 you paid when you signed up for your old phone. It’s $649, just for the cheapest 16GB model. If you chafe at the thought of being mugged every two years, which is probably the “new phone day” pace free upgrades have gotten you used to, here are a few things you can do to keep your old phone alive longer—and save you big money in the long run.

Before and After iOS 9: What’s Different? – At a glance, Apple’s latest mobile OS, iOS 9, looks pretty similar to last year’s iOS 8—both still mostly resemble the visually overhauled iOS 7. But Apple loves small tweaks as much as big reinventions. So here are some side-by-side image comparisons of the new OS and its predecessor that show off what has changed.


Home Screen – The two home screens are virtually identical, but take a look at iOS 9’s new built-in apps like Wallet and News (right). These apps replace iOS 8’s Passbook and Newsstand, respectively (left).

Apple iOS 9 Users Quick to Block Ads – A day after Apple released iOS 9, which supports ad-blocking extensions on Safari, apps like Peace, Purify Blocker, and Crystal are shooting up the App Store charts. The $2.99 app Peace, which promises to “dramatically speed up web browsing by blocking most ads and privacy-invading trackers on web pages,” is now the No. 1 paid iPhone and iPad app, pushing Mojang’s ultra-popular Minecraft: Pocket Edition to the runner-up slot.

How to switch from iPhone to Android and keep all your stuff – So you’ve grown tired of Apple’s walled garden of apps and the iron grip it maintains over the iOS platform. Well, the freedom of Android welcomes you with open arms, but don’t forget to bring your data along for the ride! Apple doesn’t make it particularly easy to move your data from iOS to Android—it’s more interested in moving people in the other direction. Still, with just a few tools and some patience, you can be up and running on Android without missing a beat.

Apple seduces Android users with switch-to-iOS app – Move to iOS assists current Android users — those with smartphones or tablets — who switch to an iOS-driven iPhone or iPad by transferring some of the data on the Android device to a new iOS handheld. The app transfers contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, browser bookmarks, email accounts and calendars, according to the Google Play Store description. Other content, such as apps available on both platforms, are placed in a wish list within iTunes.


Aimed at Android switchers, Apple’s ‘Move to iOS’ app transfers some of their data and content to an iPhone or iPad.

M.2 SSD roundup: Tiny drives deliver huge performance – The marriage of PCIe and the SSD has resulted in uber-fast storage for your PC. We compare small-slot AHCI, NVMe, and SATA models. Even if you’re using a desktop, one of these tiny wonders can increase your storage transfer speeds by a factor of four.


Overtime Is A Social Network For The Sports Obsessed – Overtime, a social network for sports fans created by the team behind viral game studio OMGPOP, is launching today to provide a better outlet for fans to create, share and debate all things sports. Amidst a sports media world dominated by network TV, Overtime wants to give all fans the ability to create and consume their favorite sports content in the form of 10-second videos and GIFs. All content is organized by topic into feeds, which can be as broad as “#fails” or as specific as “#usopen.” Using Overtime’s slow motion video highlight tool, you can edit your own videos to create SportsCenter-like highlights of any play.


Microsoft to Shut Down Zune Services (Yes, Zune!) – Remember the Zune? It’s apparently still a thing because Microsoft this week issued a support note warning that it plans to retire Zune services on Nov. 15. First of all, way to stay committed all these years, Zune users. But in less than a month, you’ll no longer be able to stream or download fresh content to your device from the Zune music service. Rest assured that if you’re still using an old-school Zune player, it will work and any MP3 content you own will remain on your device. You’ll also still be able to transfer music to and from your Zune player.

Facebook’s Signal is a news-finding tool for journalists – For many journalists, Twitter remains the go-to source for following along with breaking news and major events in the world in real time. If there’s a major story, you can usually count on tweets being embedded inside the text. But Facebook desperately wants some of that spotlight, and today the company is rolling out a new product that aims to give Instagram and Facebook itself more of a presence in news articles you read every day. It’s called Signal, and Facebook describes it as “a free discovery and curation tool for journalists who want to source, gather, and embed newsworthy content from Facebook and Instagram, across news, culture, entertainment, sports, and more — all in one place.”


Amazon Tempts Parents With A $100 Tablet For Kids – How can any company compete with iPad when it comes to being the preferred tablet for children, thanks to the App Store’s large selection of educational apps and age-appropriate games? Amazon’s strategy, to date, has to make a more affordable tablet for the young ones, complete with kid-friendly software pre-installed, while also eliminating parents’ concerns over hardware damage. And today, along with a slew of new, lower-cost Fire tablets and an upgraded Fire TV, the company also announced an upgraded version of its Fire Kids Edition tablet that now sells for under $100 and comes with an updated kid-proof case.


Amazon is selling a six-pack of tablets and it’s not sure why – Amazon doesn’t know how cheap tablets will be used, but it’s going to throw them out there first and let everyone else come up with the answers later. Turning Android slates into practically a disposable commodity, the online retail behemoth is demonstrating its contentedness with wafer-thin margins by offering a “buy five, get one free” deal on the new Amazon Fire.


AVG’s new privacy policy is uncomfortably honest about tracking users – While anti-virus firm AVG congratulates itself over a new easy-to-read privacy policy, users are up in arms over what that policy spells out. The new policy, which takes effect on October 15, makes clear that AVG will collect non-personal data such as “Browsing and search history, including meta data.” AVG says it collects this data “to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free.”


Seven years of malware linked to Russian state-backed cyber espionage – For the past seven years, a cyber-espionage group operating out of Russia—and apparently at the behest of the Russian government—has conducted a series of malware campaigns targeting governments, political think tanks, and other organizations. In a report issued today, researchers at F-Secure provided an in-depth look at an organization labelled by them as “the Dukes,” which has been active since at least 2008 and has evolved into a methodical developer of “zero-day” attacks, pulling together their own research with the published work of other security firms to provide a more detailed picture of the people behind a long-running family of malware.


Apple AirDrop flaw leaves users vulnerable to exploit – Australian security researcher Mark Dowd from Azimuth Security has demonstrated the existence of a serious issue impacting the AirDrop service which could leave users vulnerable to attack. Speaking to Forbes, Dowd said the attack can take place when a hacker is in range of an AirDrop user. Once exploited, an attacker is able to issue a malware payload via a directory traversal attack — entering the device’s core operating system — before remotely altering configuration files to ensure the exploit still works even if an incoming AirDrop file is rejected by a user.

Kardashian Website Security Issue Exposes Names, Emails Of Over Half A Million Subscribers, Payment Info Safe – Alongside the launch of the Kardashian and Jenner mobile apps, which are now dominating the App Store after seeing hundreds of thousands of downloads apiece in their first days on the market, the celeb sisters also released new websites designed to help them better connect with their fans while offering a more personal look inside their lives. However, one enterprising young developer dug around those websites and immediately found an issue. Due to a misconfiguration, he was able to access the full names and email addresses of over 600,000 users who signed up for Kylie Jenner’s website as well as pull similar user data from the other websites. In addition, the developer said he had the ability to create and destroy users, photos, videos and more, though we understand he didn’t actually take those actions.


New IBM Tool Wants To Bring Shadow IT Under Control – This morning IBM introduced a new tool called IBM Cloud Security Enforcer, whose purpose as you might guess is helping IT to root out unauthorized cloud apps inside organizations. The use of cloud apps outside of IT’s purview has sometimes called Shadow IT because the cloud enables users to provision their own tools. This tends to make IT admins a bit crazy, knowing that people are using apps that they know nothing about. The thinking behind the new tool is that sensitive data could be leaking through these rogue cloud applications, and that the Powers that Be in the enterprise need to get a grip on this, find the ones that people like and block the ones that are the worst security offenders.

Chinese telcos impose harsh rules to push real-name SIM registration – Telecommunication firms in China have unveiled stringent rules regarding unregistered phone numbers to support the country’s crack down on phone scams and harassing text messages.

Sneaky malware allows online poker players to peek at your cards – Online poker malware lets players cheat by getting a peek at cards held by opponents whose machines have been infected. The Trojan, called Win32/Spy.Odlanor, is typically downloaded by victims because it is disguised as installers or resources such as poker databases and poker calculators, according to the ESET WeLiveSecurity blog. “In other cases, it was loaded onto the victim’s system through various poker-related programs … such as Tournament Shark, Poker Calculator Pro, Smart Buddy, Poker Office, and others,” the blog says. Once installed it grabs screenshots of the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker clients, letting the attackers see what cards the victim holds. In order to carry out the scam, the cheaters have to find and join the table at which the infected machine is playing.

Report: New hack lets an attacker bypass password-locked Android home screens – You can protect yourself with a PIN or pattern, but it’s another example of why all manufacturers need to get on board with monthly updates.

Company News:

Amazon names Shopify its preferred Webstore alternative – Amazon is now advising Webstore merchants to migrate their stores to Shopify, the companies announced Thursday. The e-commerce giant first confirmed in March that it would begin shutting down its Webstore e-commerce platform in July, but only now has Amazon provided a direct integration funnel to another platform. As part of the migration, Shopify merchants will also be able to add Amazon’s payment technology to their sites, such as Login and Pay with Amazon, as well as Fulfillment by Amazon. Both companies are also working on a new sales channel that will allow Shopify merchants to list products simultaneously on Shopify and through Selling on Amazon.

Intel Invests $67M Into 8 Chinese Companies, Including Segway Owner Ninebot – Fresh off a $60 million deal with Shanghai-based drone maker Yuneec, Intel is continuing to ramp up its investment in Chinese tech startups after the U.S. firm revealed it has pumped $67 million into eight companies in the country. Each deal isn’t broken out into specific investment size, but Intel said the companies it has backed span a range of verticals, including internet-of-things, smart devices, transportation and big data. There are very obvious synergies with the Intel mothership with each one, as you’d expect. The full list includes:

Microsoft has developed its own Linux. Repeat. Microsoft has developed its own Linux – Sitting down? Nothing in your mouth? Microsoft has developed its own Linux distribution. And Azure runs it to do networking. Redmond’s revealed that it’s built something called Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), describing it as “a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux” and “our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches.” Kamala Subramanian, Redmond’s principal architect for Azure Networking, writes that: “At Microsoft, we believe there are many excellent switch hardware platforms available on the market, with healthy competition between many vendors driving innovation, speed increases, and cost reductions.”

Apple just bought Apple Maps its crystal ball – Apple has quietly snapped up a mapping analytics company, as it strengthens the challenge Apple Maps presents to arch rival Google Maps. The latest acquisition is Mapsense, sources tell Re/code, a San Francisco startup which promises cloud-based visualizations and analytics of geo-data.


Pinterest now has 100 million monthly users – Pinterest has crossed a pretty big line: 100 million monthly users. The site announced its milestone this morning, marking the first time that Pinterest has put a number on the size of its user base. While Pinterest seems to see the full 100 million as active users, it also says that only 70 percent of them pin something each month or click through on an item to learn more about it — which is to say that 30 percent of Pinterest’s users are more passive. Still, it’s a big figure. For comparison, Twitter currently counts 316 million monthly active users. Snapchat hit 100 million this time a year ago, and is now believed to have doubled that.

Games and Entertainment:

Metal Gear Online: Konami reveals all with detailed gameplay demo – Konami has published an in-depth gameplay video that reveals key details about Metal Gear Online, the multiplayer component of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. The 11-minute video, published below, discusses the three different player classes; the scout, the enforcer, and the infiltrator. It also talks through mission types, strategies, and player abilities. Meanwhile, Konami has confirmed that servers for MGO are set to go live on October 6.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 — new character classes demo’d – Still playing Plants vs Zombies? In Garden Warfare 2, some things about the franchise have been tossed around and restructured. At this point the game is a fairly robust 3D FPS far removed from the original 2D games, but the storyline itself has changed, too, with zombies battling against plants rather than the other way around. Today the company announced that the game will include six new character classes, which were shown off in a demo video.


Try (and fail) to land the Space X Falcon 9 with this video game – It really is crazy-hard to land the Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform without completely screwing it up.

The gorgeous follow-up to Braid is coming out in January – The long-awaited follow-up to Braid finally has a release date. Developer Jonathan Blow has revealed that his next game, a puzzle / exploration title called The Witness, will be hitting the PS4 and PC on January 26th. The news was announced via a slick new trailer, which shows off the game’s beautiful world — and it looks quite a bit better than when we checked out the game at E3 last year. The Witness has players exploring a huge, abandoned island, solving puzzles to uncover just what’s going on. Think of it like a modern, open take on Myst. It’s a big departure from the more traditional, side-scrolling Braid, and it’s been in the works for some time — it was first announced way back in 2009.


Pico Cassette is the game cartridge of the mobile age – A tiny device that plugs into your smartphone’s headphone socket may be the next big thing in tiny gaming. What the company called Pico Cassette wants to do is regain some of the joy and fervor that came with buying and loading games in your own home with physical cartridges, doing so here with a device that replicates the look and the feel with a unique accessory. Just don’t say the word “Nintendo,” or your dreams may never come true.


Star Wars Battlefront beta open to all – Publisher Electronic Arts is pledging to provide enough server capacity so that anyone who wants to play the Star Wars Battlefront beta will be able to do so. Mathew Everett, a Battlefront community manager, confirmed on EA’s Star Wars blog that the beta would remain open once it is deployed. He also offered new details about what gameplay modes will be available, but was not able to offer more insight into a release date. He said the beta “will consist of both our offline and online modes, including co-op and split-screen co-op, and it will take place on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and via Origin for PC.”

Xbox 360 gets big update with 2GB cloud storage and other new features – These days most of Microsoft’s gaming focus is on the Xbox One, but today the company proved that it hasn’t forgotten about that console’s predecessor. The Xbox 360 has received a pretty big update that adds a host of new features, led by a bump to 2GB of cloud storage for your game saves. Previously the 360 offered 512MB of cloud space, but now gamers are getting a lot more room for those occasions when they switch between consoles or visit a friend. The added storage is particularly useful since Microsoft is preparing to add backwards compatibility to its Xbox One.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why the Ad-Blocking War Could Hurt All of Us – The Washington Post is now reportedly restricting content for users who block their ads, forcing them to sign up for a newsletter or subscribe to the site instead. Underpinning this is software that can detect whether a user is using an ad blocker from companies such as Sourcepoint. In addition, Apple and Google are now locked in a battle over iOS9’s ability to shut down mobile ads. If this continues, users could eventually find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They will either have to accept extremely annoying ads (which can also sometimes be harmful to computers), clutter up their email box with newsletters, or have to pay for content that was formerly free.

NASA’s newest Pluto photos are breathtaking – Pluto photos continue to be shipped from New Horizon’s flyby completed earlier this year, and today’s are just fantastic. What you’re about to see is a set of photo captured just 15 minutes after the craft’s closest approach to Pluto, centering in on the plains informally known as Sputnik Planum (right) and the informally named Norgay Montes mountains on the left near the Hillary Montes near the skyline in the upper left. This first photo was captured at a distance of 11,000 miles (18,000 kilometers) from Pluto, and the photo shows a scene approximately 780 miles (1,250 kilometers) wide.


Supermoon Eclipse: How and When to see it – A few days back when mentioned that after 33 years we are about to witness another supermoon eclipse. Astronomers professional and amateur alike are looking forward to this rare event and if you want to check it out for yourself, here is when and how you can check it out.


The Web-Tracking Tipping Point – We are witnessing a watershed moment on the Internet — with Apple’s content-blocker announcement, the way we see and understand our users on the web is going to profoundly shift. It doesn’t seem like a very big deal. Adblockers have existed on desktop browsers for years, and products like Google Analytics have still become the industry standard for measuring and monitoring websites. But this is all about to change — individual products and categories will be massively disrupted by a simple technical shift in mobile Safari, and organizations with a web presence will have to adapt or risk being put at a competitive disadvantage.

7 PCs Turned Into Furniture You Might Actually Want – With the sheer abundance and toxicity of electronic waste posing a serious problem for industrialized nations today, some skilled individuals have taken electronic waste recycling to a whole new level, creating one-of-a-kind or limited-run handcrafted furniture out of computer parts. The resulting pieces often serve as functional artworks that honor their original constituent parts. Other times, they astound as weird novelties or conversation pieces. With that in mind, let’s take a look at seven of these interesting computer-fueled instances of electronic upcycling.


Bitcoin an official commodity: US trade commission – Digital currencies have been granted the status of an official commodity by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which said that bitcoin operators must immediately ensure that their companies are legally registered under the applicable trading laws and regulations. The decision, published on Thursday, means transactions made in cryptocurrencies must now comply with CFTC regulations as well as the governing legislation, the Commodity Exchange Act. Under Section 4c of the Act and Part 32 of the regulations, bitcoin operators in the US must now be registered as a Swap Execution Facility or a Designated Contract Market.

Cargo Node folding bicycle is a modern day pack horse – City living means cars, despite all of their upsides, can be more of a burden than a blessing. Parking is expensive; free parking is hard to come by. Gas is expensive. Maintenance is expensive. Traffic is usually terrible. For this reason, many use bicycles and skateboards when possible, but those also, obviously, have their own downsides. Xtracycle and Tern have addressed the biggest issues — lack of cargo capacity — with their new Cargo Node folding cargo bicycle.


Something to think about:

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

–       Ernest Hemingway


VeraCrypt – VeraCrypt picks up from where TrueCrypt left and it adds enhanced security to the algorithms used for system and partitions encryption making it immune to new developments in brute-force attacks.

VeraCrypt also solves many vulnerabilities and security issues found in TrueCrypt. It can load TrueCrypt volume and it offers the possibility to convert TrueCrypt containers and non-system partitions to VeraCrypt format.

This enhanced security adds some delay only to the opening of encrypted partitions without any performance impact to the application use phase. This is acceptable to the legitimate owner but it makes it much more harder for an attacker to gain access to the encrypted data.

NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 180 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. This package doesn’t contain any 3-party software, toolbars, Web browser plugins, or other unwanted surprises. It will not install any software on your system and it will not change your Web browser homepage or other settings on your system.

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.

NirLauncher allows you generate plugin files for BartPE (Launcher -> Generate BartPE Plugin Files), so you can easily use the utilities of NirSoft from a bootable live windows CD.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech Firms Support Bill Expanding Privacy Rights To Non-U.S. Citizens – American tech firms are lining up behind a House bill that would allow non-U.S. citizens to seek records U.S. agencies have collected and pursue legal action when such records are disclosed.

The proposed legislation, known as the Judicial Redress Act, would extend the same rights Americans enjoy under the Privacy Act of 1974 to foreign citizens in select allied nations, primarily in the European Union. The law gives American citizens and permanent residents an avenue to seek their records, correct mistakes in those files and seek redress if an agency misuses their personal information.

The tech community’s support of bill marks the sector’s latest effort to rebuild trust abroad in the wake of Edward Snowden’s disclosures, which revealed many companies were turning over customers’ communications to the U.S. government.

“That degradation of trust has translated into significant negative commercial consequences for U.S. firms, with global consumers choosing technology solutions from other providers,” wrote a group of tech industry groups, including BSA Software Alliance and the Consumer Electronics Association. “Additionally, the revelations have led a number of foreign governments to consider proposals that would impede the borderless nature of the internet – the very characteristic that has permitted the Internet to thrive.”

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook have all voiced support for the legislation. Under the terms of the bill, only citizens’ countries who extend similar rights to Americans to seek legal redress for privacy violations will be eligible.

Encryption puts terrorists beyond the reach of law, says MI5 chief – The use of encryption and secure messaging apps is making it harder for intelligence agencies to track terrorists, the head of MI5 has said.

The director general of the UK security service Andrew Parker warned that new laws are needed to give police and intelligence agencies access to encrypted communications and that tech companies themselves should be more willing to hand over messages that could help catch criminals.

In an interview with the BBC, Parker said: “We all live our lives with our smartphones in our pockets, the terrorists do the same and they are using secure apps and internet communication to try to broadcast their message and to incite and direct terrorism.”

While there has been increasing concern about the mass collection of data by intelligence agencies, Parker said that if MI5 is “to find and stop the people that mean us harm” then it needs to be able to “navigate the internet to find terrorist communication, we need to be able to use datasets so we can join the dots to be able to find and stop the terrorists who mean us harm before they are able to bring plots to fruition.”

SCREW YOU, FEDS! Dozen or more US libraries line up to run Tor exit nodes – A dozen libraries across the US have asked for details on how to host Tor exit nodes following a decision by the small town of Lebanon, New Hampshire, to forego police warnings.

Following a decision by the library’s board of trustees earlier this week to put the exit node back online, the founder of the Library Freedom Project, Alison Macrina, said that she had heard from a number of other libraries interested in hosting tor nodes.

“Between libraries and community leaders around the country, we’ve heard from probably about a dozen who are interested in joining this,” she told Motherboard.

One of those people was present at the board meeting, having driven two hours to attend. As a library trustee at nearby Reading, she revealed that it was going to have its own meeting on the issue next month.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 16, 2015

This Graphic Shows All The Ways Your Car Can Be Hacked;  Primed for pigskin: How to watch NFL football anywhere and on any device;  29 Productivity Apps To Help You Rule The Office;  Millennials putting themselves at risk online: Norton;  3 ways to keep sensitive files encrypted on a flash drive or external hard drive;  Crank Up Your Workout With ‘Spotify Running’ on Android;  Snapchat Starts Charging $0.99 For 3 Replays, Adds Face Effect “Lenses”;  Chrome users can now get Facebook notifications on Android;  Google and the Washington Post lead the charge against the ad blocker blitz;  Five Android time trackers to keep order in your mobile life;  Twitter is being sued for scanning direct messages;  Zuckerberg confirms a form of “dislike” button coming to Facebook;  HP to cut up to 30,000 jobs as it splits into two;  Nvidia GeForce graphics cards now allow faraway friends to play your games;  Need for Speed for PC Delayed Until 2016;  ‘Star Trek’ vs. ‘Star Wars’: Georgia Tech professors weigh in;  Children need teachers to teach them – not computers, says the OECD;  Microsoft signs deal to let NATO check its products for backdoors; – Windows Repair (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

This Graphic Shows All The Ways Your Car Can Be Hacked – The increase in automobiles armed with internet-connected technology has opened the door for hackers looking to get into our cars remotely. As such, Intel, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chips and processors used in computers, has some ideas about the best ways for automakers to safeguard cars against cyber attacks.


3 ways to keep sensitive files encrypted on a flash drive or external hard drive – Files you carry in your pocket can be easily lost or stolen. You can thwart the thieves with these easy techniques for encrypting external storage.

Primed for pigskin: How to watch NFL football anywhere and on any device – Whether you’re a cord cutter or a pay-TV addict, we’ll show you all the ways you can watch this season’s bone-crunching action on screens of any size.


29 Productivity Apps To Help You Rule The Office – It’s no secret that technology has made our lives a lot easier, especially with the advent of smartphones and apps that can track anything from your heartbeat, to the amount of time you waste on Facebook. However, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. So here’s a list of 29 of apps for maximizing your productivity.

Five Android time trackers to keep order in your mobile life – One of the most pressing issues with freelance IT support, one-person shops, or just about any type of client-based business is tracking time. You go out on a run, do a job, and hope you’ve retained reliable records of billable time spent. This is easy if you’re in the office all the time or you have someone watching over you every step of the way. But when you’re on your own, you need a bit of help to maintain order for your business. That’s where time management apps come in to play. Let’s wind the clock, punch in, and see what’s available.

Crank Up Your Workout With ‘Spotify Running’ on Android – Need some motivation to get your butt off the couch and go for a run? Spotify wants to help. Spotify Running offers a number of genre playlist options covering everything from hip hop and electro to pop and classical, as well as some original running compositions. Once you select the type of music you’re in the mood for, just start running and Spotify will detect your tempo — 170 steps per minute, for instance — and deliver a non-stop playlist, customized to your pace.

Chrome users can now get Facebook notifications on Android – Facebook has just revealed that it’s taken advantage of Google’s new feature allowing websites to send push notifications through the Android version of its Chrome browser. This means Facebook users can choose to notifications about updates on the social network directly in the mobile browser, even if the Facebook app isn’t installed on their mobile device. This was the result of collaboration between Google and Facebook, with a goal of developing a new standard for web notifications.

Snapchat Starts Charging $0.99 For 3 Replays, Adds Face Effect “Lenses” – Snapchat is debuting its first in-app purchase. It’s a new way for it to make money by letting users purchase three extra Replays of Snaps they just watched for $0.99. The company is also adding a new feature called lenses that lets users add animated effects to their face. When in Selfie mode, Snapchat will detect their faces, and users can then tap and swipe to add little overlaid graphics that let them puke rainbows, turn into monsters, and more.


‘To read this page, please turn off your ad blocker: Google and the Washington Post lead the charge against the ad blocker blitz – The Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post has become the largest newspaper to refuse to serve readers who filter out advertisments. The Post described it as “a short test” to gauge what users who use blocked blockers will do next. “Often, we run tests like this not in reaction to a problem, but to learn,” said the paper in a statement. Last week, Google also began to nuke the filters used to block preroll ads on its YouTube service. For extra punishment, YouTube viewers using AdBlock Plus had to sit through the full ad, by disabling the ‘Skip Ad’ button.


FLUID Is A Smart Water Meter For Your Home – FLUID simply snaps around the main water pipe in your home. You plug it in, connect it to your Wi-Fi, and download the FLUID app to access real-time reports on your iPhone or Android. Using ultrasonic technology — essentially sending pulses from one ultrasonic transducer to another — the device is able to measure the rate of water flow without cutting into the pipe. What’s even cooler is how FLUID knows exactly where the water is coming from. In the case of a leak, FLUID serves as a disaster prevention tool, alerting you immediately before your basement floods and your water bill spikes to all new heights. With a price tag of $239, or $179 for early bird Kickstarter backers, FLUID will pay for itself in under an hour if you have a burst pipe and in five days if your toilet is running.


Apple Might Finally Let You Delete Those Apps You Never Use – Great news: someday you might finally get to delete stock iPhone apps like Tips and Stocks — someday. Though there’s no timeline on the horizon, Apple CEO Tim Cook told BuzzFeed in a recent interview that at some point in the future, the company will let iPhone owners delete some of these apps.

Zuckerberg confirms a form of “dislike” button coming to Facebook – In recent interviews, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has addressed the social network’s “like” button, which users can use to quickly acknowledge posts or messages—but which also lacks a certain amount of nuance for more sensitive or sad content. As recently as December, Zuckerberg said that he wasn’t interested in a “dislike” button, but a Tuesday “town hall” Q&A saw the cofounder change his tune. “People have asked about the dislike button for many years,” Zuckerberg told a crowd on Tuesday at Facebook’s Menlo Park office (and a livestream crowd at the event’s official site). “We’ve finally heard you, and we’re working on this.”


Millennials putting themselves at risk online: Norton – Norton has revealed that while people under the age of 35 are concerned about their safety online, they are not doing much to secure themselves from being victims of online crime. The nationwide poll of 1,000 Australians, half of which were aged under 35, found that security concerns were very strong among millennials, with 62 percent concerned about their online information not being safe, and 50 percent worried about who can see their information. The study also showed that half were worried about identity theft. Despite these concerns, the research showed that 72 percent of millennials do not have security software, 58 percent are not running regular security updates, 48 percent do not use complex passwords, and as much as 72 percent do not back up their devices regularly.

Attackers slip rogue, backdoored firmware onto Cisco routers – The firmware on at least 14 business routers has been replaced with a backdoored version, researchers from Mandiant found.

Large Malvertising Campaign Goes (Almost) Undetected – In mid August, the actors behind some of the recent malvertising campaigns we documented on this blog before started to come out with several new tricks to fly under the radar and yet expose tens of millions of users to malware. The malvertising campaign we are exposing leveraged several top ad networks, as well as many more smaller ones. Despite its large scope and impact, it ran mostly uninterrupted for almost three weeks, according to telemetry data we were able to mine once we uncovered the scheme.


Microsoft’s ‘anti-malware Device Guard’ in Windows 10: How it works, what you need – Microsoft has published a technical guide to its new Device Guard features in Windows 10 – including how to configure the anti-malware technology, and what hardware you’ll need to use it. We first learned of Device Guard in April at the RSA 2015 conference in San Francisco, and then a month later a little more info was teased out. Back then, it appeared the tech involved sticking critical parts of the operating system into a hardware-protected zone that is fenced off from applications and the rest of the Windows OS.

Company News:

Twitter is being sued for scanning direct messages – Twittter is facing a new proposed class action accusing the company of violating user privacy. The lawsuit says the company has been “systematically intercepting, reading, and altering” direct messages, most likely a reference to Twitter’s long-standing practice of automatically shortening and redirecting any in-message links. While the practice could be used to monitor or redirect any URLs included in a direct message, it’s generally seen as a benign extension of the company’s broader link-shortening systems. In a statement to USA Today, Twitter called the allegations “meritless.”

Russian authority finds Google guilty of antitrust abuses – The antitrust authority opened the case in February following a complaint from Russian search engine Yandex, which also develops mobile apps and runs its own Android app store. Late Monday, the authority said Google had broken Russian law by requiring phone makers to install its own app store, applications and search system on Android phones intended for sale in the Russian Federation, and to place its apps on the devices’ home screen. That requirement had the effect of preventing developers of competing services from having their apps installed by the vendors, the authority said. Under Russian law, Google could face a fine of up to 15 percent of its revenue from selling goods and services in the market where the offense was committed.

HP to cut up to 30,000 jobs as it splits into two – Hewlett-Packard swung back into the black in 2013, maybe poised for “expansion.” HP’s imminent split into two companies—the PCs-and-printers HP Inc, and the enterprise services Hewlett-Packard Enterprise—is going to come at a high cost in both personnel and restructuring, the company told analysts today. Tim Stonsifer, who will be made CFO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise once the split occurs on November 1, has said that there will be some 25-30,000 positions cut of around 300,000 total, with most losses coming from its Enterprise Services division. The cost of the restructuring will be around $2.7 billion, with HP claiming that it will lead to savings of $2.7 billion a year. The cost cuts of the split were previously estimated at around $2 billion a year in Enterprise; another $700 million in savings have been found elsewhere.

IBM boosts connected car data analysis with service launch – IBM has launched a new cloud-based service specializing in connected car data in order to improve real-time services and data analysis. Revealed on Tuesday, the New York-based firm said the new service, IBM’s Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive solution, will assist automakers in turning driver and vehicle data into something tangible and useful in the modern business realm. Data collected from individual sensors — including environment insights, driving patterns and vehicle condition — as well as third-party information, such as traffic conditions and accident alerts, will be sent to the cloud and analyzed for the benefit of drivers and companies. Big Blue says the service can transform data into “actionable insights” for vehicle maintenance, real-time diagnostics on engine trouble and guiding drivers to the most efficient traffic routes.

It’s the year of the Linux desktop, for Dell, in China – For years, the “year of the Linux desktop” was right around the corner: Open-source software would displace Windows (or Window$), and usher in a glorious, peaceful revolution in the computing industry. If Dell is to be believed, that revolution is happening now. Dell’s head of China told The Wall Street Journal that NeoKylin Linux is shipped on 42 percent of the PCs it sells into the country, primarily for the commercial and government PCs that Dell specializes in. Hewlett-Packard also ships NeoKylin-equipped PCs to China, the paper said, but it’s unclear how many they sell with the OS installed.


US mental health agency director hired by Alphabet – The director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas Insel, is joining Alphabet’s Life Sciences, which was spun out from Google X. Starting November 1st, Insel will lead a mental health effort at the company, according to a letter from the NIH. Insel served as director of the National Institute of Mental Health for 13 years. Under his guidance, the NIMH launched initiatives like the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium — a project that looks for links between genetic data and psychiatric illnesses — and the Army STARRS project, which was designed to identify factors that can protect servicemembers’ mental health. Now, he’s headed for Life Sciences, a Google-founded company that works on genetics, cancer, and diabetes — and the first company to fall under the Alphabet umbrella.

Games and Entertainment:

Nvidia GeForce graphics cards now allow faraway friends to play your games – Nvidia graphics card users can now phone a friend to get through a game’s tough spots with the latest GeForce Experience beta. To use GameStream Co-op, the host PC needs an Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 or higher desktop graphics card or a Non-Optimus GeForce GTX 660M laptop card (with Optimus support coming later), a Core i3-2100 or higher CPU, at least 4 GB of RAM, and an 802.11 a/g router with at least 7 Mbps of upstream bandwidth. The guest PC has all the same system requirements minus the graphics card, and needs 7 Mbps of downstream bandwidth. After receiving an invite from the host, the guest can launch the stream using a Google Chrome extension.


Need for Speed for PC Delayed Until 2016 – While Ghost Games’ Need for Speed will hit next-gen consoles this fall, PC players will have to wait a few more months due to community requests for an unlocked frame rate. “To deliver this, we’ve made the decision to move the PC release date to Spring 2016,” Ghost said in a blog post. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release dates, however, remain the same, starting Nov. 3 in North America, before rolling out worldwide on Nov. 5.


This week’s big Xbox One and Xbox 360 Deals With Gold revealed – Microsoft has announced this week’s lineup of Xbox One and Xbox 360 deals, with offers available for titles like Grand Theft Auto V, The Elder Scrolls Online, Trials Fusion, and Darksiders II, among others. The full lineup of deals, divided by platform, is available below. All offers are good through September 21. Deals marked with an asterisk are good for all Xbox Live members.


Rockstar Games

‘Bloodborne: The Old Hunters’ DLC Coming Soon to PS4 – Sony today announced the latest DLC expansion for Bloodborne—The Old Hunters. The $19.99 download will be available to PlayStation 4 owners on Nov. 24. The news comes as Bloodborne reached a milestone 2 million units sold worldwide. With Bloodborne: The Old Hunters, however, players enter a world full of ancient hunters who are trapped in new stages “full of dangers, rewards, and deadly beasts to defeat,” producer Masaaki Yamagiwa wrote in a blog post. Making your way through each level, you’ll find fresh outfits and more weapons, as well as additional magic to added to your arsenal.


‘Star Trek’ vs. ‘Star Wars’: Georgia Tech professors weigh in – The greatest, longest-lasting debate in the science fiction community, whether “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” reigns supreme, continues to rage, this time in academic circles. The latest issue of Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine is all about science fiction (and some science reality, of course), and one ambitious article aims to determine which geeky franchise wins. It pits “Star Wars” fan Sherry Farrugia, the school’s managing director for health research partnerships, against a self-proclaimed master of all things Trekkie, Gary May, engineering professor and dean of the College of Engineering. You can read more of Farrugia’s and May’s arguments, and find out why the panel of Georgia Tech faculty, staff and alumni gave the nod to “Star Wars,” by reading the article in full on the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine web page.

Off Topic (Sort of):

It’s a cloud desktop world: Get over it – Things change. We’re heading back to our past. Over the years several trends came together to undermine the PC. First, broadband fast enough to support software-as-a-service (SaaS) became commonplace. We may not like having only 4 to 6 Mbps on DSL, but that’s fast enough to run text-based apps such as office-suites and e-mail. At the same time, the rise of smartphones and tablets made it clear that, many, perhaps most of us, merely need to read or view data. Creating documents? Spreadsheets? Not so much. Lots of people need just enough of a computer to write short notes or to click radio-buttons.

Appeals court strikes a blow for fair use in long-awaited copyright ruling – The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today issued a ruling that could change the contours of fair use and copyright takedown notices. In an opinion (PDF) published this morning, the three-judge panel found that Universal Music Group’s view of fair use is flawed. The record label must face a trial over whether it wrongfully sent a copyright takedown notice over a 2007 YouTube video of a toddler dancing to a Prince song. That toddler’s mother, Stephanie Lenz, acquired pro bono counsel from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF in turn sued Universal in 2007, saying that its takedown practices violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Here’s how Blue Origin will launch space tours from Florida – This morning’s Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, announced that the space company would launch tourists from a new Florida-based launchpad. This is the first time the company has formally announced a place from whens they will be launching, and the new closest point to when we’ll be able to take a trip to space as everyday common citizens. Blue Origin’s announcement via Bezos this morning places their new launch site at Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral in Florida.


Facebook Agrees To Do More To Help Combat Hate Speech In Germany – In Germany, where thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing conflict in their own country are being offered asylum, Facebook has found itself being pressured by the government to do more to combat hate speech against immigrants. Yesterday the WSJ reported that Facebook has agreed to work with the German Justice Ministry to fight xenophobic and racist messages being posted on its platform. In a statement, Facebook also said it is “striving” to partner with Germany internet safety NGO, FSM, to help “support users” in Germany, as well as “working with expert local input” to do more to tackle hate speech. For its part, the FSM said it welcomes Facebook’s efforts to become a member, with general manager Otto Vollmers adding:” Along with Facebook, we can develop joint solutions to address controversial cases referred to in this sensitive and difficult trade-off.”

Dainese motorcycle airbag jackets aim to protect riders in an accident – If you have ever wondered how exactly a motorcycle racer can take a massive spill at triple digit speeds and then just get up and walk away, it’s the safety gear that allows them to do that. Part of that safety gear for modern racers is an airbag system that inflates at just the right time to protect the rider from serious injury as they hit the ground and slide. A company called Dianese has a new line of airbag jackets coming to market for street riders.


California’s low snowpack truly exceptional – After two winters of extremely low precipitation, California is suffering through a severe drought, one exacerbated by unusually warm weather. The heat influences the drought in part by enhancing evaporation, ensuring that less of the limited precipitation stays in the ground. But it also changes the dynamics of how the precipitation falls. That’s because most of the precipitation comes in winter, and temperatures control whether it falls as rain or snow. Now, researchers have looked into the history of California’s snowpack and found that it’s showing some exceptional behavior as well. It may be the least snow the region has seen in 500 years.


Snowfall in January 2013 (left) compared to the same date in 2014. The drought has only gotten worse since.

Peer inside a crocodile’s mouth without losing your head – National Geographic releases startling footage of Australian crocodiles taking a bite out of some underwater cameras. You’ll say “Ahhhhhhhh!” when you see it.


Children need teachers to teach them – not computers, says the OECD – Walk into any school in term time and you will likely see the kids hard at work on their computers, chatting online, or texting their friends but, according to the OECD, all this technology is not making our kids any smarter. In fact, it says, the evidence suggests it is having the opposite effect. As the OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher, points out in his report, Students, Computers and Learning: Making The Connection, published today, although students who use computers “moderately” at school tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who use computers rarely, “students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics”. It gets worse.

Twitter and Square launch political donations service – The donation service requires politicians to set up an account through Square’s site, which will give them a unique Cashtag that they can tweet to followers.

Something to think about:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

–      Steve Jobs

Downloads: – Windows Repair – – Windows Repair is a tool designed help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including; registry errors, file permissions, issues with Internet Explorer, Windows Updates, Windows Firewall and more. Malware and poorly installed programs can modify your default settings resulting in your machine working badly – or worse. With Windows Repair you can restore Windows original settings fixing many of these problems outright. – Windows Repairs section as always been completely free for both personal and business use. We offer a Pro version. adds features like automatic updates, an enhanced drive cleaner, memory cleaner, speed tweaks and more. This allows you to support future development and get something in return!

Tweaking.Com – Windows Repair has been consistently rated 5 Stars on some of the best tech sites including MajorGeeks, SnapFiles, Softpedia, Bleeping Computer, TechSpot, The Windows Club, Malwaretips, MalwareBytes Forums and many others. It has been spotted in use by customer support of Microsoft, Time Warner, Comcast and many OEM computer manufacturers support to repair problems. – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including:

Unhide Non System Files

Repair problems with .lnk (Shortcuts)

File Association


Windows Firewall

Internet Explorer

Windows Installer (MSI)

Hosts File

Policies Set By Infections


Winsock & DNS Cache

Proxy Settings

Windows Updates

CD/DVD Missing/Not Working

Reset Registry and File Permissions

Register System Files

Remove Temp Files

and more…


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Human Rights Watch demands to know who’s been snooping on it – Civil rights NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has launched a legal challenge to find out if its information was shared between the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The organisation is unhappy that a ruling by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) in February did not reveal the full extent of intelligence sharing.

Human Rights Watch, together with three individuals, has now lodged a new legal challenge.

“Given the mass surveillance capabilities of the NSA and GCHQ, a huge number of people could have been affected by the unlawful spying,” said Human Rights Watch in a statement.

For now, the organisation is focusing on those who handle the most sensitive information. In July it emerged that GCHQ had spied on Amnesty International, so HRW lodged a complaint on behalf of itself, a security research expert, an investigative journalist and a lawyer.

“We are bringing this case because those who work to protect human rights and expose abuses and war crimes depend on confidentiality of communications,” said Dinah PoKempner, HRW general counsel.

Microsoft signs deal to let NATO check its products for backdoors – Microsoft has signed a security agreement with NATO that allows the organisation to vet Microsoft products’ source code for backdoors.

The deal extends Microsoft’s 12-year cybersecurity partnership with the NATO Communications Information (NCI) Agency and marks the Redmond company’s latest Government Security Program (GSP) agreement.

Microsoft struck a similar agreement with the EU in June and opened its second European Transparency Centre in Brussels to offer governments a secure location to review its source code.

According to Microsoft, the agreement means the NCI agency will gain access to technical information and documentation about Microsoft products and services, as well as threat intelligence and product vulnerability information.

Microsoft launched GSP in 2003, and the program has since evolved into a set of resources for government officials offerings controlled access to source code, access to its Transparency Centers, and vulnerability and threat intelligence from the company.

EU’s privacy high priest: Plans big on hyperbole, less clear on specifics – Fresh from preaching about data protection regulation, Europe’s high priest of privacy is planning to take on ethics.

Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), has said that his institution will soon set up an external Ethics Board to “help define a new digital ethics in ways that reinforce the rights and freedoms of individuals”.

Essentially, he doesn’t want human beings reduced to mere “data subjects” – which is all well and good, but not really his job.

Officially, the EDPS is charged with “monitoring the EU administration’s processing of personal data, advising on policies and legislation that affect privacy and cooperating with similar authorities to ensure consistent data protection.”

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 16, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 14, 2015

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New;  Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater;  Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out;  Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models;  How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That;  When your computer reboots itself over and over again;  How to restore ringtones to iPhone;  Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10;  PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US;  Tumblr now has its own fashion line;  The difference between antivirus and anti-malware;  Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack;  This week in games;  How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron;  Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use;  GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots;  6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume;  10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps (free);  FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New – Forget overpriced schools, long days in a crowded classroom, and pitifully poor results. These websites and apps cover myriads of science, art, and technology topics. They will teach you practically anything, from making hummus to building apps in node.js, most of them for free. There is absolutely no excuse for you not to master a new skill, expand your knowledge, or eventually boost your career. You can learn interactively at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. It’s hard to imagine how much easier it can possibly be. Honestly, what are you waiting for?

Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out – The newest Apple TV adds some long-awaited features to a device that hasn’t been updated since 2012, a lifetime in the world of streaming media. While Google’s first connected media platform, Google TV, didn’t catch on, Android has still become a powerhouse for media hubs thanks to the Amazon Fire TV and Android TV devices. Roku was one of the first dedicated media hub brands, and it’s gained in popularity thanks to an easy-to-use interface and hundreds of content channels. There’s also a slew of sticks you can just plug into the back of your HDTV, as well as smart HDTVs with built-in apps. A lot has changed in three years.

How to quickly jump to often-used Windows app subsections in Windows 10’s Start menu – I don’t dive into Windows 10’s Settings app that often, but when I do it’s usually to check two or three things, such as Windows Update or my Wi-Fi settings. An easy way to jump to a particular section of the Settings app is to search for it with Cortana in the taskbar. But if repeatedly typing “Wi-Fi” or “Windows Update” sound tedious, there’s a far easier way to jump to oft-used parts of the Settings app. Instead of searching or navigating the Settings app manually, you can pin sections to the Start menu. This tip isn’t just for the Settings app, however—you can also use it in a limited number of other Windows apps such as Mail and OneNote. For our example here, however, we’ll stick with the Settings app.


Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models – The impedance specification is ignored by most headphone buyers, but it might be one of the most important. Not that anything catastrophic will occur with an impedance mismatch, but you might not get the best sound quality from a headphone with impedance that’s too high or too low for your music player or home amplifier.

5 tips for getting started with Slack – Started as side project for a video game company, Slack quickly moved front and center and took off as word of mouth spread among the tech companies that were using it. One of the company’s mottos is “Be less busy,” and many have heralded Slack as the product that could end reliance on email. If you’re planning on deploying Slack within your organization, here are some pointers to help get you going.

Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater – Turns out, Sony’s “waterproof” Xperia devices might not be so waterproof after all. After talking up the waterproof capabilities of its Xperia devices for years — even running marketing campaigns showing people happily using its devices underwater — Sony now says that they should not be submerged. As XperiaBlog first reported, Sony recently revised its support page on water and dust protection to warn people against taking a swim with their gadgets. “Remember not to use the device underwater,” the site says.

Supporting causes on Facebook is about to get a lot easier – You’re perhaps familiar with the idea of changing your Facebook profile picture to support a specific cause or event: gay marriage, cancer research, your mate’s stag do, and so on. Facebook has noticed the trend and wants to help – the social media behemoth is testing out a new feature that lets you set a temporary profile picture that expires after a set number of hours, days or weeks. The idea is that the picture automatically reverts back to the original profile image without you having to remember to change it – your rainbow-coloured portrait will only appear for as long as it’s relevant, in other words.

When your computer reboots itself over and over again – Something is rotten in the state of your Windows PC. Here’s how to deal with a computer that keeps rebooting.

Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10 – Microsoft will launch Office 2016 for Windows on Sept. 22, and has now detailed how it will deliver updates and upgrades with a cadence and rules similar to Windows 10.


How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That – It’s called EnLighten and it uses a phone’s GPS location and real-time traffic-signal information provided by the municipality to determine when a driver is stopped at a red light. It can then show on the phone’s screen a countdown in seconds of when the light will change and will also sound a chime when the light turns green to remind the driver that it’s time to get going. The iOS and Android apps work in a dozen or so U.S. cities and also have a dual timer for traffic lights with separate left-turn signals. But the EnLighten iPhone app can sync with the dashboard of BMWs with ConnectedDrive and the BMW Apps feature, provided you’re driving in Portland or Eugene, Oregon or Salt Lake City, Utah). It offers extra features, such as timing traffic lights so that you potentially don’t have to stop or even prevent an accident.


How to restore ringtones to iPhone – Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We have the answer. This time we have a reader whose custom-made iPhone ringtone library has seemingly disappeared. But that doesn’t mean those tones are gone for good! Here are the steps you can take to track them down on your Mac, then restore them to your iPhone.


The difference between antivirus and anti-malware – It seems like a simple question, right? What’s the difference between antivirus and anti-malware? But ask a security professional, and he answers as if it’s the riddle of the Sphinx. You just want a simple answer to a simple question. Is that too much to ask? The truth is, the answer to this question is a little complicated. But we’ve broken it down like a lumberjack chopping redwood into mulch. We’ll tell you what viruses and malware are, which types of threats antivirus and anti-malware companies fight, and how they do it. So look no further. The answer…is in the link.

PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US – Before you get all riled up, this isn’t yet another Android vulnerability like Stagefright. This is your run of the mill malware installed through social engineering or carelessness, but one that has far graver ramifications than other ransomware. Discovered by researchers from security company ESET, the Android/Lockerpin.A ransomware goes the extra mile to actually change your device’s PIN code in such a way that trying to reset the PIN will lock the user, and ironically the attacker too, from the device completely, with no recourse other than a factory reset.

Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack – Security research group CynoSure Prime were able to find out the most common passwords that were used on Ashley Madison, a site which helps married people cheat on their partners, which suffered a massive data breach earlier this year when it was targeted by hackers. The list of the 100 most commonly-used passwords was first posted on Ars Technica.

Website hackers hijack Google webmaster tools to prolong infections – Hackers who compromise websites are also increasingly verifying themselves as the owners of those properties in Google’s Search Console. Under certain circumstances this could allow them to remain undetected longer than they otherwise would be, researchers warn.

Company News:

Security company litigates to bar disclosure related to its own flaws – FireEye is a publicly traded security firm that regularly finds and reports vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. But when security researcher Felix Wilhelm found five critical flaws in FireEye’s Malware Protection System, the company went to court to obtain an injunction barring the disclosure of some of the technical details. The move is generating howls of protest among security professionals, who argue that FireEye of all companies should know better than to stifle the free flow of vulnerability information.

Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use – Facebook is riding the wave of mobile adoption in Africa to help meet its goal of connecting businesses with people in emerging markets. Sixty percent of all Internet users in Africa are now active on Facebook and 80 percent of them access the site on mobile devices, according to statistics shared by the social network this week. According to the African Union’s first session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Communication and ICT last week, 84 percent of the continent’s population is covered by mobile networks.

Microsoft buys popular Android lock-screen app maker – Microsoft has added to its stable of Android apps with the acquisition of Double Labs, the makers of the Echo Notification Lockscreen, a popular app on Google’s mobile platform that helps users control the notifications they see.

Tumblr now has its own fashion line – Tumblr now has its own line of clothing featuring an eclectic array of apparel adorned with artwork from ten of the social network’s artists/users. The line isn’t limited to just clothing — there’s a backpack, for example (as well as a kimono); it’s unisex and designed to look the same as the Tumblr collective, at least in spirit. Half a dozen Tumblr users have also been selected to show off the new product line. The new Tumblr wear is said to be in celebration of Tumblr’s 10th New York Fashion Week participation.


Google hires ex-Hyundai America CEO to lead self-driving car project – Google has hired a new CEO for its self-driving car project. John Krafcik, who worked at Ford and was President and CEO of Hyundai’s American operations before joining automotive price-comparison site TrueCar, will take the position in late September. In a statement, the veteran of the automobile industry said that Google’s technology “can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today.” Krafcik has a background in automobile manufacturing, having worked on two “lean production” manifestos during his time at MIT, but a Google spokesperson told Automotive News that his hiring did not indicate the company would start producing cars itself.

Brad Smith will decide privacy policy, IP issues and more as Microsoft’s new president – If you’re interested in Microsoft’s stance on privacy or public policy, Brad Smith is the one to watch. The former general counsel at Microsoft, Smith will also become the company’s chief legal officer.

Etsy to test same-day deliveries as Amazon threat grows – Google offers product deliveries, and is working on expanding them. Amazon does and is doing the same. And then there’s Etsy, the website where all manner of crafts and creativity are offered. The service soon will face steep competition from Amazon, which is reportedly looking to start its own similar crafts marketplace, and in light of that it isn’t surprising Etsy will start testing its own same-day deliveries. The testing will take place in certain regions of New York City, the same place that Amazon and other services are and have been testing same-day and one-hour delivery services. This test is done in partnership with Postmates, and will also include next-day deliveries. Most appropriately, this delivery service will be called “Etsy ASAP”.

Etsy will now help designers find manufacturers – Six months after Etsy completed an IPO that valued it at $3.5 billion, the craft marketplace is expanding. The company is introducing Etsy Manufacturing, a new service that will link Etsy sellers — who often make items by hand — with small manufacturing companies. The operation is designed to help both sellers who’ve found success but have little time to fulfil larger orders, and smaller manufacturers, some of whom have lost business to huge manufacturers in countries where labor is cheaper.

Games and Entertainment:

How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron – We’re not talking about facial recognition devices, police body cams, or other security measures likely zeroing in on fans. Instead, employees from San Jose-based Zebra Technologies had recently finished scanning the NFL uniforms of the 49ers and of their opponents—the Dallas Cowboys. All of a sudden, an on-the-field de facto surveillance society was instantly created when Zebra techies activated nickel-sized Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) chips that were fastened inside players’ shoulder pads. Every movement of every player now could be monitored within an accuracy level of all but a few inches.


Blizzard’s Final Starcraft II Expansion Lands November 10 – In case you were not tuned into the finals of WCS Europe earlier today, Blizzard, a popular gaming company, announced that the final chapter of its Starcraft II will touch down on November 10. The third iteration, called Legacy of the Void, will at once be a computer game, and Blizzard’s statement regarding the long-term viability of Starcraft proper as an esport. Starcraft II’s predecessor, Starcraft, proved a long-lived esports product popular the world around. Its successor has done even better.Regardless, here’s the new film. It’s worth a view.


New Apple TV gets touch remote, Siri voice control, games and an app store, starts at $149, coming in October – The new box, still simply called “Apple TV,” was unveiled at the company’s September 9 event in San Francisco, sharing the stage with a new big-screen iPad and new iPhones. It’s a complete overhaul of the current device, which has been around since 2012. “We believe the future of television is apps,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook when introducing the device. The new Apple TV will be available in two versions: $149 for the 32GB model, and $199 for the 64GB model, and both start shipping to the US and dozens of other countries in October. The current Apple TV box remains on sale at $69. UK and Australian prices for the new model have not yet been announced, but $149 and $199 convert to £95 and £130, or AU$210 and AU$285.


This week in games: Fallout 4 teaches the value of Strength, Ubisoft builds a theme park – It’s a short week, which I guess means nothing at all really happe—Wait, Ubisoft is opening a theme park? And there was a new Fallout 4 video and the first Tribes update in two years? I present your gaming wrap-up for the week of September 7-11.

Off Topic (Sort of):

6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume – To ensure your resume stands out (for the right reasons), there are a few things you’ll want to avoid and some you’ll definitely want to include, says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers’ Ink. “Basically employers want to see where candidates have earned, learned, and contributed.” Whether to include things like an objective statement, list of skills, and education will depend on your level of experience and industry — but here are six simple things you should always include on your resume, no matter what:

What porn site statistics can tell us about the worldwide console wars – First, the obvious disclaimer; YouPorn viewing statistics are not a perfect analogue for console popularity. It’s possible (and maybe even likely) that the userbase for one system or another is more or less likely to use their console to surf for porn. And it says nothing about whether they’re more likely to use the console for, you know, actual games. Still, YouPorn statistics seem to bear some resemblance to overall console popularity worldwide. Overall, YouPorn’s stats show 51% of visits coming from PlayStation, 39% from Xbox, and 10% from Wii systems. That’s decently close to the 50%/29%/20% split for PS4/XB1/Wii U sales in our latest analysis.


GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots – The GoPro line of action cameras, especially when paired with drones, have yielded a massive library of photos and videos that would have been otherwise impossible to take using commercial equipment. But when paired with a weather balloon, things get even more dramatic. In 2013, a group of five students from Arizona did just that and launched the GoPro into the atmosphere. Sadly, they lost track of the camera during after its reentry. Good thing they recovered it two years later in good condition because the footage it had stored is truly a sight to behold.


Australian police get McLaren and Aston Martin supercars – You wouldn’t want to get into a high-speed car chase with one of these bad boys: the NSW Police Harbourside Local Area Command has just added a McLaren 650S and an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante to its official fleet. However, the two supercars aren’t for regular policing, nor will they be a permanent fixture on Sydney’s streets. They have been loaned to the force for just a few weeks by a local dealership, which will cover all the costs of the vehicles except for fuel. Both cars have been given a NSW Police makeover, with blue-and-white decals declaring their law enforcement affiliation. Underneath, the AU$450,000 McLaren 650S is a brilliant, eye-catching yellow, while the $500,000-plus Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is a suave silver. The cars made their police debut on September 12 at the annual Wall to Wall Ride for Remembrance, a day that pays tribute to the sacrifices of officers killed on duty.


The McLaren 650S on loan to the NSW Police. NSW Police Harbourside LAC

The LAPD has a Tesla now – At a press conference today, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced the lease of 160 battery electric vehicles and 128 plug-in hybrids for the city’s vehicle fleet. “Today, we take another step toward becoming the most sustainable city in America,” the mayor told reporters. “This year, Los Angeles will become home to the largest city-owned fleet of pure battery electric vehicles anywhere in the country, and we will save taxpayer dollars along the way.” The city’s fleet already includes 23 electric scooters and three fully electric motorcycles, but this is the first major move into electric cars. The mayor has set ambitious environmental goals for the fleet, requiring that electric vehicles constitute half of the light duty fleet by 2017, and 80 percent of the city’s fleet purchases by 2025.


10 automakers vow to make automatic emergency braking standard – The NHTSA, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have announced that ten auto makers plan to offer automatic emergency braking as a standard feature. This is the latest step major car manufacturers are taking to bring more advanced safety technologies to a larger customer base, something that will eventually lead to such technologies being common on the road and, hopefully, a subsequent decrease in the number of crashes and deaths that happen. The auto makers are comprised of well-known car companies, including Audi, BMW, GM, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Toyota, Tesla, Volvo, and Volkswagen. Furthermore, the IIHS and US Department of Transportation says that other makers of lightweight vehicles and truck manufacturers should also consider making automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard in their vehicles.

Something to think about:

“Fine, go to those Bangalore Infosys centers, but just for the hell of it go three miles aside and go look at the guy living with no toilet, no running water … The world is not flat and PCs are not, in the hierarchy of human needs, in the first five rungs.”

–    Bill GatesThe Financial Times, Nov. 1, 2013


10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps – 10AppsManager is a freeware that will allow you to easily uninstall and reinstall the default, built-in, preinstalled Windows Store apps in Windows 10. While you can always manually uninstall or reinstall the Store apps, the process is not so easy for the preinstalled apps. It is easy to uninstall or reinstall 3rd-party apps, but not the default preinstalled apps. What this tool from our TWC stables does, is automate the process and let you carry out the operations in a click.


WebBrowserPassView – WebBrowserPassView is a password recovery tool that reveals the passwords stored by the following Web browsers: Internet Explorer (Version 4.0 – 11.0), Mozilla Firefox (All Versions), Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. This tool can be used to recover your lost/forgotten password of any Website, including popular Web sites, like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and GMail, as long as the password is stored by your Web Browser.

After retrieving your lost passwords, you can save them into text/html/csv/xml file, by using the ‘Save Selected Items’ option (Ctrl+S).


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs – On a stage in a ballroom in the Walter Washington Convention Center on September 10, the heads of the United States’ intelligence community gathered to talk about the work their agencies perform and the challenges they face—or at least as much as they could in an unclassified environment. But the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency also had one particular mission in mind as they took the stage at the Intelligence & National Security Summit, an industry event largely attended by government officials and contractors: stopping the poisoning of the public debate around their missions, and especially around the issue of encryption, by unreasonable haters.

CIA Director John Brennan suggested that negative public opinion and “misunderstanding” about the US intelligence community is in part “because of people who are trying to undermine” the mission of the NSA, CIA, FBI and other agencies. These people “may be fueled by our adversaries,” he said.

FBI Director James Comey referred to the backlash against his lobbying for backdoors into encrypted communications provided by the technology industry as “venom and deep cynicism” that are making a rational discussion about what could and should be done nearly impossible.


The directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA, NGO, DIA, and NRO stand for a group picture. Sean Gallagher.

Apple, in refusing backdoor access to data, may face fines – This week, The New York Times reported that the Justice Dept. served Apple with a court order in a case “involving guns and drugs,” demanding it provide real-time access to iMessage, Apple’s proprietary service for sending messages between iPhones.

Apple refused — not because it necessarily wanted to, but because it couldn’t comply. The iPhone and iPad maker reportedly told the feds that the service is encrypted, making it impossible for the company let alone the feds to access the data they demanded, unlike phone companies which, under US wiretap laws, are required to comply.

The criminal case is under seal in an unidentified U.S. federal court.

Apple’s defiance comes at a time when the FBI is pushing for access to user data in the wake of the claims that the U.S. government had access to Silicon Valley systems through its PRISM surveillance program. In response to allegations it was complicit in spying on Americans, Apple quelled fears by revealing its iMessage texting and FaceTime calling services were encrypted and unable to be wiretapped, and said even it “cannot decrypt that data.” Around the same time, the company proceeded to offer device encryption, forcing feds to go directly to the suspect in question to get access to some user data.

Plan to shift internet’s control panel away from US government gets tentative thumbs-up – The plan to shift control of the top level of the internet away from the US government to domain name overseer ICANN has been given a tentative thumbs-up by the internet community.

A public comment period on the proposal for the IANA functions contract closed earlier this week with 159 submissions received. Just under half the comments came from individuals, but governments, the technical community, business groups, and civil society all sent in comments.

The vast majority of the comments were supportive of the plan overall, which will hand control over to a new affiliate of the current contract owner, ICANN, and two new groups set up to ensure that the contract is run effectively. In addition, a process to pull the IANA functions was identified as a last resort.

The proposal was pulled together from three different proposals covering the three main technical jobs that are being considered. Despite most commentators agreeing with the proposal, there were significant concerns over key aspects of the plan.

The same five issues were identified repeatedly from stakeholders as diverse as Google, the Internet Society, US Council for International Business (USCIB), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and others:

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – September 11, 2015

How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches;  Android Pay launches today: here’s how to get it;  Microsoft’s new NFL app is ready for kickoff;  Instagram ads are about to get longer, more prominent;  Periscope live streaming app adds landscape video mode;  Install Kali Linux tools on Ubuntu with this easy script;  Camera+, The Third-Party Camera App With 14 Million Users, Goes Free;  Western Digital is selling a 1TB drive kit for the Raspberry Pi;  How to replace your PC’s motherboard;  Don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10? You’ll download it whether you like it or not;  New Android ransomware locks out victims by changing lock screen PIN;  Will Windows 10’s coming security features win over Windows 7 users?  Dell bets on Chinese innovation with $125 billion investment;  20th Century Fox bought National Geographic magazine;  Minecraft update lets Windows 10, iOS, and Android gamers play together;  Here are the games coming to the new Apple TV (pictures);  U.S. Consumers Now Spend More Time In Apps Than Watching TV;  StudioLine Photo Basic 4 (free);  That’s a Tor order: Library gets cop visit for running exit relay in US.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches – Despite the many highlights of Windows 10—Cortana, virtual desktops, windowed Windows Store apps, the revamped Start menu, DirectX 12, among others—there are still some annoyances with the new operating system. Windows 10 can reset your default browser if you upgrade; updates are now mandatory; and behind the scenes, the new OS is a file-sharing machine. Those are just a few of Windows 10’s notable headaches, but the good news is there are fixes for all these problems. Even better? Most are really easy to implement. Let’s dig in.

Don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10? You’ll download it WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT – Redmond was careful to say that these unwanted bits will only be pushed out to people “who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update.” Yet receiving automatic updates is the default setting, and switching it off, of course, means you’ll be endangering your system by not receiving potentially critical security updates. There is a bright side for those worried about their disk space, though. Microsoft told The Reg that it is possible to remove the Windows 10 update files using the Disk Cleanup utility. “Those who remove the Windows 10 upgrade files can still upgrade later,” the spokesperson helpfully said. No word on what you should do if your internet bandwidth is at a premium, though.

Microsoft’s new NFL app is ready for kickoff – Football fans who are users of Windows 10 and the Xbox One can now download the new update to Microsoft’s NFL app, which includes upgraded statistics and other new features.


Android Pay launches today: here’s how to get it – Today Android devices everywhere* will begin to gain access to Android Pay. Just so long as those devices have NFC. *And just so long as they’re inside the United States. Android Pay is a sort of re-branding of Google Wallet, a system where Google’s devices handled your money from a variety of sources, allowing you to pay for items both in the physical world and digitally. Now with systems like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay on the rise, Google has changed the name.


Periscope live streaming app adds landscape video mode – Periscope’s live streams are no longer stuck in portrait orientation. Today the company is unveiling a new landscape mode that works across iOS, Android, and the web and easily lets users shoot and broadcast video in landscape. Creatively, the new feature allows for a wider field of view than you’d get recording in portrait. To be clear, this was technically possible before, but it wasn’t really an official feature and required viewers to watch videos sideways. Now, landscape video will look right regardless of which orientation your phone is in; just rotate it to landscape to take broadcasts fullscreen.

Periscope landscape

Facebook now lets journalists broadcast live video to your News Feed – Celebrities like Dwayne Johnson aren’t the only people allowed to use Facebook’s live streaming app anymore. The company is opening up the future, which works through a standalone app called Mentions, to journalists with verified Facebook profiles and / or pages. Previously, only high-profile public figures like actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, and other “influencers” were permitted to stream live video to users through the Mentions app. Replays are available once the initial live stream is compete, and Facebook also allows comments and likes alongside broadcasts like YouTube and Periscope.


Instagram ads are about to get longer, more prominent – While Instagram isn’t necessarily pushing more ads on its users, advertisers are getting a few new ways to draw in eyeballs. The maximum length of video ads, for instance, is doubling to 30 seconds, encouraging users to gaze for a bit longer as they scroll through an ad in their feed. Photo and video ads may also appear in landscape mode for a more cinematic look. Instagram is also adding a new type of ad called “Marquee,” which sounds like some sort of attention-grabbing header. Instagram describes it as a “premium product that helps drive mass awareness and expanded reach in a short time-frame,” especially for events such as movie premieres.

Fastest ISPs 2015: Canada – Here are the ISPs that provide the best connection speed across Canada’s almost 10 million square kilometers.

Pro tip: Install Kali Linux tools on Ubuntu with this easy script – You’ve heard of Kali Linux, right? If not, what you need to know is that Kali is one of the most powerful penetration testing platforms on the market. It’s a Linux distribution that can be installed and used for free to help you run just about every kind of network test imaginable. But for some, running Kali would be so much easier if it could be integrated with the likes of Ubuntu. Guess what? It can! Thanks to an easy to use script, called Katoolin, you can install any of the Kali Linux tools right on Ubuntu. Let me walk you through the process.

We Tried Apple’s Huge iPad Pro + Tiny iPad mini 4 – The big new iPad is a terrific drawing surface. The little one is what Apple should have released last year.


Camera+, The Third-Party Camera App With 14 Million Users, Goes Free – Tap tap tap, the company behind the popular third-party camera app Camera+, is making its flagship application free today. The app, which has grown over the years to reach 14 million users and $18 million in sales, has capitalized on Apple iPhone users’ demand for an expanded set of photography-related features that take advantage of the high-quality cameras found on their device. But until now, Camera+ has only been available to users as a paid download.


Microsoft confirms Office 2016’s release date: September 22 – Microsoft has confirmed a September 22 release date for Office 2016, alongside plans for monthly feature updates through Office 365. The release date had previously appeared in a leaked image from Microsoft’s employee intranet. In a blog post, Microsoft’s Julie White acknowledged that you “may have heard the rumors” before confirming the official launch date.

Western Digital is selling a 1TB drive kit for the Raspberry Pi – Western Digital supplies a bare 1TB hard drive with a USB 3.0 connector on its backside (likely ripped from one of their externals), a 2A 5V power adapter, and a proprietary cable that lets you hook everything up without having to resort to a USB hub. They even throw in a micro SD card and SD adapter that you can load Raspbian or Windows 10 onto to get your Pi going. The WD PiDrive kit sells for $79.99 in the Western Digital shop, which isn’t a bad deal considering one of their 1TB external USB drives goes for around $65 on its own.

How to replace your PC’s motherboard – Sometimes components fail. Motherboards are no exception. I’ve fried many a motherboard thanks to bad BIOS flashes and failing or flaky power supplies. Things happen, and sometimes those things can irreparably damage your motherboard. But replacing a motherboard is a lot of work. Before you start, you want to make very, very sure that your motherboard is broken. Step one is using one of these handy troubleshooting flow charts to make sure your motherboard is truly the culprit. Assuming your motherboard is confirmed dead, it’s time to consider a replacement.

Tinder Adds a ‘Super Like’ Button to Let Users Show Eagerness – In dating, it’s all about showing that special someone that… well, they’re special. So on Wednesday, dating app Tinder introduced a new honor you can bestow upon a potential match: the “Super Like.”


New Android ransomware locks out victims by changing lock screen PIN – Malicious apps that disable Android phones until owners pay a hefty ransom are growing increasingly malevolent and sophisticated as evidenced by a newly discovered sample that resets device PIN locks, an advance that requires a factory reset. Dubbed Android/Lockerpin.A, the app first tricks inexperienced users into granting it device administrator privileges. To achieve this, it overlays a bogus patch installation window on top of an activation notice. When targets click on the continue button, they really grant the malicious app elevated rights that allow it to make changes to the Android settings. From there, Lockerpin sets or resets the PIN that unlocks the screen lock, effectively requiring users to perform a factory reset to regain control over the device.


Attack code exploiting Android’s critical Stagefright bugs is now public – Attack code that allows hackers to take control of vulnerable Android phones finally went public on Wednesday, as developers at Google, carriers, and handset manufacturers still scrambled to distribute patches to hundreds of millions of end users. The critical flaws, which reside in an Android media library known as libstagefright, give attackers a variety of ways to surreptitiously execute malicious code on unsuspecting owners’ devices. The vulnerabilities were privately reported in April and May and were publicly disclosed only in late July. Google has spent the past four months preparing fixes and distributing them to partners, but those efforts have faced a series of setbacks and limitations.

Excellus healthcare hack puts 10m Americans at risk of identity theft – Health insurance company Excellus said hackers broke into its servers and may have made off with the personal details of 10.5 million people. While the breach is believed to be limited to those in the upstate New York area, the information exposed is extremely sensitive. It includes member names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, mailing addresses, telephone numbers, and member identification numbers. Also at risk are insurance claim and financial account details for the 10.5 million patients in the Excellus and Lifetime Health Care insurance providers in the area.

4 vital elements in a robust healthcare IT security strategy – Your sensitive health information is worth 10 times more to hackers than your credit card on the black market, reported Reuters in 2014. According to a new KPMG cybersecurity report (PDF), 81% of healthcare executives surveyed said that their IT security has been compromised at least once in the past two years. Despite the regulatory and legal consequences of a data breach, the authors of KPMG’s report argued that the healthcare industry is behind others when it comes to cyberattack readiness and security technology capabilities.

Photos of TSA’s Luggage lock master keys have been leaked – The TSA has long dictated certain “blessed” locks that only it could pick. You know, in case they need or want to open your baggage. For national security, of course. The TSA is able to accomplish this thanks to a set of master keys that can open any TSA-certified luggage lock. Thanks in part to a blunder by Washington Post, however, those keys have now leaked all over the Internet, which doesn’t really forget, giving anyone the keys to all such locks. Pun totally intended.


Will Windows 10’s coming security features win over Windows 7 users? – Windows 10 includes a number of new security features that weren’t part of Windows 7, yet so far Microsoft hasn’t been touting them much. Here’s more of some of what’s new and noteworthy.

This Could Be The Year Of The University Hack – While many students think online threats consist only of cyberbullying, joining the university ranks means their threat risk has expanded. The intellectual property and sensitive data housed on university networks, including financial, health, academic and social records, are a data gold mine. And hackers can use this information to take over mobile devices and network accounts, max out credit cards, steal student loans and redirect existing funding to the hacker’s coffers. Gearing up for college isn’t just about buying textbooks and registering for classes anymore. As students plan to head back to school this year, it is important that they understand the rising threat of university network hacks and learn to recognize common attacks. According to Norton’s threat research, the three most frequent attacks against universities include:

Company News:

Dell bets on Chinese innovation with $125 billion investment – Dell plans to invest $125 billion over the next five years in China, betting on the country’s growing economy to provide alternative revenue sources beyond the dwindling PC market. The PC maker’s CEO Michael Dell announced Dell’s new strategy in Shanghai on Thursday. The chief executive said the new “In China, For China” strategy will include an investment of $125 billion over the next five years, $175 billion contributing to imports and exports, and will also “sustain one million jobs through the ecosystem.” Dell said the investment demonstrates the firm’s “long-term commitment to the Chinese market.” China is Dell’s second-largest market outside of the United States, and as PC sales to dwindle, it is critical that other avenues for business growth are explored.

IBM Buys StrongLoop To Add Node.js API Development To Its Cloud Platform – IBM has today made another acquisition to expand its business in cloud services — specifically in the area of enterprise app development. It has acquired StrongLoop, a startup based in San Mateo that builds application development software for enterprises using the open source JavaScript programming language Node.js. This in turn enables enterprises to build mobile and cloud-based apps equipped with APIs to integrate with each other and handle high volumes of data between mobile, web and Internet-of-Things apps. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. StrongLoop had raised $9 million in funding from Shasta and Ignition Partners, including an $8 million round in 2013.

Amazon finally puts out the Fire: Inventory of its failed phone is exhausted – Since last year’s flop, Amazon has been cutting the price of the Fire phone so that just a couple of weeks ago it was down to $130 for a 32GB unlocked model that included a year of free Amazon Prime service, a $99 value. GeekWire received confirmation that Amazon has sold out of its inventory of Fire phones so we shouldn’t see any more price promotions. At the time of the announcement, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos indicated this model was just the first in a line of future mobile phones. Given that Amazon has fired many of the employees from the group working on the Fire phone, it’s not likely we will see Amazon attempt to build another smartphone.

20th Century Fox bought National Geographic magazine – The new company is called National Geographic Partners and joins the National Geographic cable channels with the National Geographic magazines, National Geographic Studios, the company’s digital platforms and social media accounts, books, maps, children’s media, location-based entertainment, archival sales, catalog, licensing and, e-commerce businesses. The Society will keep control of the museum in DC and its related activities.

California: Former Uber driver was an employee – Uber, the app-based ride-hailing service, classifies its drivers as independent contractors, not employees, but this position has been undermined yet again. The California Employment Development Department (EDD), which administers the state’s unemployment insurance benefits program, has determined that a former Uber driver in Southern California was an employee, Reuters reported.

Games and Entertainment:

November Xbox One Update brings Xbox 360 game support – November marks one of the most anticipated updates yet for the Xbox One game console. The big new feature that the update will add to the Xbox One console is the ability to play Xbox 360 video games on the Xbox One at no additional cost. This is a big deal for gamers who have Xbox 360 games left and a dead Xbox 360 console. The update will also bring with it several other updates aimed at making gaming on the Xbox One more social. The New Xbox One Experience will land with the update and is powered by Windows 10. Microsoft says that games will be able to get popular gaming features running 50% faster than before.


Elite: Dangerous comes to Xbox One on October 6 – We’d previously heard Elite: Dangerous was heading to the Xbox One, and now we know when it’ll be arriving: on October 6. The information comes from Frontier Developments’ CEO David Braben, who was kind enough to answer a series of questions posted in an AMA on Reddit. Among the questions was an inquiry about when we’d see the full release for the Xbox One. Turns out there’s only about a month of waiting left.


Capcom’s ‘Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen’ Headed to PC – The new year will bring a new adventure for PC gamers. Capcom’s popular fantasy-action RPG Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen will be available on Windows PCs in January for $30. This has been a long time coming. The original Dragon’s Dogma was released in 2012 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The Dark Arisen expansion arrived on PS3 and Xbox 360 the following year, and now it’s finally making its way to PC.


Here are the games coming to the new Apple TV (pictures) – Apple has announced a new Apple TV, and gaming is going to be a key component of its appeal. Here is a taste of the games you can expect.


Disney Infinity

Minecraft update lets Windows 10, iOS, and Android gamers play together – Minecraft: Pocket Edition version 0.12.1 brings a host of improvments, but the biggest one is cross-platform play for all mobile gamers including the Windows 10 version.

Microsoft will soon invite gamers to test Windows 10 on Xbox One – The all-new Xbox One dashboard, which is powered by Windows 10, will roll out to all owners of the console in November. But before that happens, Microsoft is letting its Xbox Preview Program install the new software early and help mold the final product before it reaches everyone. “Because this is a significant update, we are giving Preview members the opportunity to decide for themselves if and how they want to participate in helping us release the New Xbox One Experience,” the Xbox team wrote today.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Let your old man navigate with Google Dad Directions – Can’t get enough of your old man? Now your pop can tell you corny jokes while he gets you to your destination with Google Dad Directions. At least, that’s the gag in a parody video released Wednesday by comedy group Above Average. In the clip, we see a couple get into their car ready for a night out as a familiar voice asks them where they’re headed. Their car’s navigation system has been replaced with Google Dad Directions, a service that features good old dad telling you how to reach your destination — or not.


Elon Musk: nuking Mars will get humans established sooner – Elon Musk doesn’t just want humans to walk on Mars; he wants them to live there. He’s not the only person who aspires to such a future, and he sees it as a necessity for the survival of the human race. Some efforts are already being made to get human colonies established on the Red Planet, though some are more questionable than others. The key to getting human colonies established on the planet may, it turns out, be a couple thermonuclear bombs.


Rare pink dolphin surfaces again in Louisiana waters – Whatever mental image you have dolphins, set it aside. “Pinky” is unlike any other, and for one very obvious reason: she is entirely pink. The dolphin was first spotted eight years ago as a young calf swimming near her mother in the waters near Louisiana. The man who first saw her reports having seen her hundreds of times over the years, sometimes with other dolphins and sometimes alone. And, now, it is reported that she may be pregnant.


This is why you shouldn’t drive while holding a selfie stick – Technically Incorrect: For reasons best known to himself, a man drives a Jeep while holding a selfie stick out of the window. And then he hits traffic. Really hits traffic.


California governor Jerry Brown vetoes controversial bill on drone restrictions – A California bill that would have forced drones to be flown at a minimum height of 350 feet (107 meters) over private property has been vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in the wake of criticism that it could impact the state’s drone industry and the economy at large.

U.S. Consumers Now Spend More Time In Apps Than Watching TV – Traditional cable TV has already been suffering in recent months, as more consumers are cutting the cord or opting never to sign up in the first place for pricey TV packages filled with channels they don’t want, or have time to watch. But while many are turning to online streaming services like Netflix or Amazon to get their TV fix, Flurry’s report indicates that consumers are also spending their time away from TV doing other things – namely, using apps. According to the company’s data, the average U.S. consumer is now spending 198 minutes per day inside apps compared to 168 minutes on TV.

Something to think about:

“Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference.”

–     Jim ButcherVignette


BitTorrent Sync – With Sync, you never need to upload files to remote servers halfway around the world before sharing. Sync always uses the shortest path between devices. This saves time, especially for massive files, and makes failed uploads a thing of the past.

Fast, intelligent file transfers – Sync skips the cloud and finds the shortest path between devices when transferring data. No Cloud. No uploading to third party servers. Just fast, simple file syncing.

Big files? No problem – Sync can handle files of any size. Easily sync and share folders that contain gigabytes (or terabytes) of data.

Sync between any platform – Keep folders synced between multiple platforms and operating systems. Sync is available for OS X, Windows, Linux, NAS devices and more.

Access files on the go – Access all of your synced files from your iOS, Android or Windows Mobile device. Keep files on your mobile devices backed up by syncing photos, videos, docs, pdfs and more to your desktop or NAS device.


StudioLine Photo Basic 4 – StudioLine Photo Basic 4 contains many of the same functions as StudioLine Photo Classic 4. It supports dual-monitor video cards, and is regularly updated with Smart-Update. StudioLine Photo Basic is the completely free starter package for personal use!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Director of national intelligence: Snowden forced “needed transparency” – In comments after giving the opening plenary presentation of the Intelligence & National Security Summit, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that the disclosures made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden had driven the intelligence community to become more transparent to citizens about how it does business. In response to a question about the impact of Snowden’s disclosures on the intelligence community asked through moderator and former Director of National Intelligence Ambassador John Negroponte, Clapper said, “On one hand, it forced some needed transparency, particularly on programs that had an impact on civil liberties and privacy in this country. If that had been all he had done, I could have tolerated it.”

But, Clapper added, Snowden “exposed so many other things that had nothing to do with” civil liberties and privacy, including information about the US intelligence community’s operations that did tangible damage to operations. “He has [done] untold damage to our collection activities,” Clapper said, asserting that “terrorists have gone to school on what Snowden leaked.” And programs that had a real impact on the security of American forces overseas, including one program in Afghanistan, “which he exposed and Glenn Greenwald wrote about, and the day after he wrote about it, the program was shut down by the government of Afghanistan,” Clapper noted.

That’s a Tor order: Library gets cop visit for running exit relay in US – A New England library is calling off its plan to host a Tor exit node after cops, tipped off by the US Department of Homeland Security, paid a visit.

The Kilton Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire, had been hosting an exit relay on the Tor network since July as part of a pilot program to safeguard citizens’ privacy online.

After meeting with the plod, however, the librarians have taken the box offline over fears it was being used for criminal activity.

Tor – aka The Onion Router – helps cloak people’s identities online by routing their connections through multiple nodes and out to the wider internet via exit relays. It is used by whistleblowers, journalists, activists, crooks and lowlifes. All connections leaving the Tor network go through these exit points, which will inevitably carry a lot of traffic that the Feds will be interested in.

Kilton’s exit node was the pilot for an effort by the Library Freedom Project to equip local libraries in the US with Tor nodes that could be accessed by users in areas where internet traffic is censored and closely monitored.

“This is an idea whose time has come; libraries are our most democratic public spaces, protecting our intellectual freedom, privacy, and unfettered access to information, and Tor Project creates software that allows all people to have these rights on the internet,” the group said of the pilot program.

According to a report by ProPublica, the Department of Homeland Security gave word of the node to police, who then had a meeting with library and city officials. ProPublica claims that the police did not threaten any action against the library, but merely informed them of the possibility that their Tor node could be used for criminal activity.

The library’s board of trustees will vote later this month on whether to bring the node back online.

Handing over emails in an Irish server to the FBI will spark a global free-for-all, warns Microsoft – Microsoft has warned a US appeals court that forcing it to hand over emails stored on a server in Ireland would demolish internet user privacy worldwide in a “global free-for-all”.

At the heart of the matter is a row over whether the Redmond giant should cough up messages held in an Irish data center – messages belonging to someone living in Dublin. US prosecutors chasing a drugs investigation sought a search warrant in the US to access the files, but Microsoft thinks the action should be taking place on Ireland’s soil, where the information is stored.

Microsoft’s lawyer Joshua Rosenkranz told the New York court that if Uncle Sam could order multinational companies in America to give up data in systems in other countries, there’s no reason other nations couldn’t play similar games. Calling it a “matter of national sovereignty,” Rosenkranz added: “We would go crazy if China did it to us.”

The counter from the US government’s lawyers was that withholding the data would let criminals and fraudsters evade American prosecutors by sending their data offshore.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – September 11, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 9, 2015

The essential guide to powerline Ethernet adapters;  These second-screen apps make NFL games even more fun;  When your Windows image backup fails, try this;  Adblock Plus releases its web browser for iOS;  YouTube forces AdBlock users to watch unskippable video ads;  Turn Chrome’s new tab page into a to-do list powerhouse;  The best scanning apps for Android and iPhone;  Selling your old iPhone: Online vs. in-store trade-ins;  Android porn app takes your mugshot, holds your device ransom;  Windows Media Center lives on with unofficial Windows 10 version;  Kaspersky Lab pushes emergency patch for critical vulnerability;  Opera Mini browser for Android gets new data compression tech;  Amazon expected to release $50 6-inch Fire tablet this year;  Airbnb Hosted Nearly 17 Million Guests This Summer;  The FIFA 16 demo is here – this is how you play;  Netflix’s new excuse for no offline playback is even lamer than the last one;  If you’re buying a TV, know these three letters: HDR;  AirConsole turns browsers into a local multiplayer console;  Apple refused to wiretap an iMessage account for the Justice Department.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

It’s football season! These second-screen apps make NFL games even more fun to watch – According to the NFL, 70 percent of fans use a second screen while watching football. It’s easy to understand why: mobile devices—and the apps that run on them—give us easy access to player stats and analysis, provide interactive features to supplement the big-screen experience, and offer a convenient way to communicate with other fans watching the game. We’ve rounded up seven of the best second-screen apps to enhance your football viewing. Take them for a spin when the season kicks off later this week, and we’re sure you’ll be reaching for them along with your remote every Thursday and Sunday until the end of Super Bowl 50.


The essential guide to powerline Ethernet adapters (including 12 hands-on reviews) – This roundup of powerline ethernet adapters is continually updated. It was originally published on January 15, 2015, updated in March and again in June 2015 and now again in early September,. Click here if you would like to read that original story as published in January 2015. This latest iteration contains entirely new reviews of the Extollo LANsocket 1500 and TP-Link TL-PA8030P KIT, plus updated reviews of the D-Link DHP-701AV and the Trendnet TPL-420E2K.


The seven apps you need to tame your email overload – Managing email for most people is an irritating and time-consuming task, but thankfully there’s a host of email apps that make it easier.

When your Windows image backup fails, try this – This has to be one of the worst things that can happen in the digital world. You create a backup and then, when you need it, it doesn’t work. That’s why I recommend making two backups. But let’s see if we can fix the problem at hand.

Adblock Plus releases its web browser for iOS – Makers of the popular ad-blocking software Adblock Plus have launched a stand-alone mobile browser for iOS. The Adblock Browser launched as a beta on Android back in May, but has not been available on Apple’s App Store until now. The company is marketing the software primarily as a way to block ads when browsing webpages online, but says this feature offers a range of other benefits, including protecting users from malware, and saving their battery life and mobile data. Users can block all ads by default or whitelist favorite sites.

Opera Mini browser for Android gets new data compression tech – The latest version for the mobile browser adds a new High compression mode that minimises data expenditure without affecting the page display.

YouTube forces AdBlock users to watch unskippable video ads – Browser extensions that block website advertisements are becoming very common these days and their use is expected to only grow in the next few years. Some websites that survive on advertising have turned to things like tip jars or even politely asking users to turn off their ad-blockers. Google’s YouTube, however, is taking a bit more of a direct approach: users with the AdBlock Plus extension installed are forced to watch video advertisements before the actual content video plays.

Turn Chrome’s new tab page into a to-do list powerhouse – It’s just one program on your PC, but for many of us the browser is the central tool we use for work, play, and communication. That’s why so many people love Google Chrome and its healthy ecosystem of extensions and apps. Today we’re going to look at one way to turn your new tab page into something a little more productive than you’ve got now thanks to Microsoft’s recently acquired to-do list app Wunderlist.

The best scanning apps for Android and iPhone – Never bother with a scanner again. Thanks to high-quality cameras on today’s top smartphones and nifty behind-the-scenes tech, scanning a document or photo with great results is as easy as opening an app and snapping a picture. Here are CNET’s top picks for the best apps to turn your phone into a scanner.


Evernote Scannable in action. Josh Miller/CNET

Twitter for Windows 10 catches up with group messages and other new features – Twitter for Windows has been a perfect example of Microsoft’s app problems; sure, the app exists, but it has fallen far behind Twitter’s smartphone apps in terms of features and functionality. Today, Twitter for Windows is taking a much-needed step forward and adding group messaging, multi-account support, lists, and other improvements.

Selling your old iPhone: Online vs. in-store trade-ins – The latest iPhones are just around the corner, and that means some Apple fans may be looking to sell their old devices. Dozens of websites offer easy trade-in programs for old smartphones. Some retailers also offer customers the option to sell their used devices. Even wireless carriers are making it easy for customers to trade in their iPhones and upgrade to new ones. Which option is right for you? That’s the question I answer in this edition of Ask Maggie.

Raspberry Pi gets its first official touchscreen display – A year after it was first announced, the Raspberry Pi touch display finally launched on Tuesday. The new component means Raspberry Pi hackers can now experiment with an officially sanctioned 7-inch, 800-by-480, 10-point multi-touch LCD display for their Pi projects. The $60 touchscreen does cost more than the Pi itself, but that comes down to component costs. The screen uses a display serial interface (DSI) and digital parallel interface (DPI) that requires a driver board to interface with the Pi. The display also requires its own power connection, which can be shared with the Pi over USB.


How to delete the Windows.old folder from Windows 10 – Did you upgrade your PC to Windows 10? If so, ever wonder what happened to the previous version of the OS? It probably disappeared into the mists of Windows past, right? Wrong. Your old OS didn’t get erased; rather, it’s lingering in a system folder called, aptly enough, Windows.old. And depending on the size of that version, it could be hogging a lot of precious space. First things first: If you think you might want to downgrade from Windows 10 back to the previous version, don’t delete that folder.


Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Windows Media Center lives on with unofficial Windows 10 version – Although Microsoft has officially discontinued its old living room PC software, some users on the My Digital Life forums have apparently patched Windows Media Center to run on Microsoft’s latest operating system. Why this matters: While Microsoft has claimed that hardly anyone uses Windows Media Center anymore, it remains a popular program among hardcore home theater PC users, many of whom are avoiding Windows 10 so they can keep using the living room software. This workaround could let users enjoy the benefits of Windows 10 without giving up Windows Media Center, but we’d still advise against it.


It’s still 2015, and your Windows PC can still be pwned by a webpage – Microsoft has today released patches for 56 security vulnerabilities in its products. People should apply the updates as soon as possible because miscreants are actively exploiting at least two of the holes – and likely more by the time you read this. The September patch batch includes critical fixes for Internet Explorer and Edge, Office, and Windows. Users and administrators are being advised to test and install the updates on the double. Of the 56 vulnerabilities, 14 in Internet Explorer, four in the supposedly super-whizzbang-secure Edge browser, one in Windows’ handling of OpenType fonts, four in Windows’ Journal file handling, and four in Microsoft Office, allow an attacker to remotely execute evil code on a victim’s system. Microsoft’s September bulletins in full:

Android porn app takes your mugshot, holds your device ransom – Bad news, mobile porn viewers! The FBI knows what you’re up to. They’ve taken your mugshot and they’re going to need you to transfer $500 via PayPal before you can do anything with your phone again. No, it’s not part of some crazy government crackdown on Internet porn. It’s a shakedown attempt some enterprising criminals concocted. The idea is simple enough: trick a user into installing an app that disguises itself as a porn video player, sneak a few extra permissions in thinking that they’re so eager to get at the goods that they won’t read them, and then hijack the startup process and hold the infected device for ransom.


Severe external drive vulnerability prompts Seagate to issue emergency patch – Watch out Seagate wireless external hard drive owners—your peripheral may have serious flaws in it that will open your files to malicious attackers. The good news is Seagate has already issued a patch for the problem. The vulnerabilities primarily affect owners of Seagate Wireless Plus Mobile Storage, Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage, and LaCie Fuel devices purchased since October 2014.


Kaspersky Lab pushes emergency patch for critical vulnerability – Kaspersky Lab has released an emergency patch for some of its antivirus products after a security researcher found a critical vulnerability that could allow hackers to compromise computers. The flaw was discovered by vulnerability researcher and Google security engineer Tavis Ormandy, who mentioned it Saturday on Twitter, before sending the bug’s details to Kaspersky.

Researcher demands FireEye pay up for zero-day vulnerabilities or suffer his ‘cold silence’ – A security researcher has demanded that FireEye pay him for several zero-day vulnerabilities he found in the firm’s security products, and he has threatened that he will otherwise remain silent about the bugs’ details.

Company News:

Airbnb Hosted Nearly 17 Million Guests This Summer – Growth is up and to the right for Airbnb. Nearly 17 million people worldwide booked their guest stays with the peer-to-peer lodging platform this summer, according to a new travel report. That’s a whopping 353x’s surge in the last five years – and a far cry from the three guests Airbnb hosted before officially launching in the summer of 2008. Airbnb founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were just trying to figure out a way to pay rent at the time and made a website that advertised $80 to rent an air mattress on the floor of their apartment for a night plus breakfast in the morning. Three people, two guys and a girl, decided to try it out and Airbnb was born.

Facebook Equips Business Pages With Mobile Storefronts For Shopping And Services – Likes ≠ Dollars. Facebook wants Pages to actually earn money for the 45 million small businesses that use them. So today Facebook is upgrading Pages with a tabbed mobile layout that lets them display storefront “Sections” where users can “Shop” for products or view a list of “Services” the business offers. The company is also making calls to action on business Pages, such as “Call Now,” “Send Message” and “Contact Us,” bigger, more colorful and more prominent beneath the cover image. The “Shop” section will include Buy buttons powered by Facebook’s partnership with Shopify so users can check out without leaving the social network. Facebook is also testing Buy buttons that link out to a business’ traditional website.

Netflix to launch in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan – After becoming available in much of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Netflix now looks to expand its reach to Asia. Netflix announced plans to enter four new markets in Asia on Wednesday as the Internet video streaming service continues its global expansion. Netflix will officially become available in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan early next year, the company said.

Amazon Prime Now in Seattle expands to offer meal delivery – Last month, Amazon launched its Prime Now delivery service in its home city, Seattle. The service offered one-hour and two-hour delivery of thousands of items, including things like a nice bottle of wine for dinner or one of its own pieces of hardware. Now, nearly two weeks after the initial launch, Amazon has announced an expansion of its Seattle delivery service, including meal delivery from select local restaurants as part of its offering.


Amazon expected to release $50 6-inch Fire tablet this year – Amazon was one of the first device makers to really put its full weight behind Android as a tablet operating system. The original 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet was released in 2011 at an unheard of $100 price point. However, that proved to be Amazon’s high-point when it comes to Android tablets. Attempts to sell more premium slates have fallen flat, but now the retailer is expected to announce a $50 Android tablet in time for the holidays. This report comes from the Wall Street Journal, which cites the always-reliable “people familiar with the matter.”

Microsoft Confirms Purchase Of Cloud Security Firm Adallom – Microsoft announced this morning that it purchased cloud security firm Adallom. According to sources familiar with the matter, the deal cost the Redmond-based software giant $250 million. That dollar amount is below previously reported figures pegging the value of the purchase north of $300 million.

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix’s new excuse for no offline playback is even lamer than the last one – Apparently you don’t want offline video support after all. And if you had it, you wouldn’t know what to do with it.

The FIFA 16 demo is here – this is how you play – Those anticipating the release of the next big video game based on the world’s most popular sport, soccer (football if you’re outside the US), are in for a treat: the demo for EA Sports’ FIFA 16 should be available later today for the PlayStation 4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. Those in New Zealand can get to downloading now, while those in North America might need to wait until later in the day, with exact times varying based on console and region of the world.


Minecraft 0.12.1 update brings multiplayer cross-platform action – Minecraft fans listen up, a big update is coming and you will love it. With the new update players on both of these versions will be able to play together on a local network. That means you can invite friends over and play with them on the same servers on your Windows 10 PC while they are playing on mobile devices or tablets. Up to five people can play together over Xbox Live and all players will be able to tweak their gear with special effects from enchanting tables. This is the largest update for Pocket Edition ever published. The update brings new touch controls, controller support, and a controller mapping screen.

Get the ‘Witcher 3’ Expansion Pack on Oct. 13 – The expansion pack features more than 10 hours of new adventures as well as “new characters, powerful monsters, unique romance, and a brand new storyline shaped by gamer choices,” the Polish developer said. Players will “step again into the shoes of Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster slayer, this time hired to defeat a ruthless bandit captain, Olgierd von Everec, a man who possesses the power of immortality,” according to CD Projekt RED. The expansion will also feature a new system of Runewords, which are said to “significantly” affect gameplay. Under the new system, each Runeword impacts a different aspect of in-game mechanics, so you’ll have to experiment with various strategies and tactics.


AirConsole turns browsers into a local multiplayer console – Meet AirConsole, the virtual web-based gaming console that turns any browser into a local multiplayer gaming experience and your smartphone into controllers. Things couldn’t get any simpler than this. Simply go to the AirConsole website and get the code to connect as many smartphones as possible. The limit is based on how many simultaneous players a game supports. While you can technically use your smartphone’s web browser to connect to the AirConsole running on your computer or tablet, there are also dedicated mobile apps for both iOS and Android.


Disney’s fantastic cloud movie locker now works with Amazon, Microsoft video apps: Buy once, watch everywhere – Disney Movies Anywhere is what UltraViolet should have been; buy a movie once, and watch it on nearly any device — without needing to download a separate app or video player. It already works across Android and iOS (plus popular digital retailers like Vudu), and today Disney is adding Amazon Video, Microsoft Movies, and TV to the mix. Next week, a Disney Movies Anywhere app will launch for Roku’s set-top boxes and Android TV. So pretty soon it’ll be incredibly simple to watch your Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars films regardless of which device is in your hands or in your living room. Once you’ve linked your Disney account, all of those movies will appear right inside Amazon Video and also Microsoft’s video apps for Windows and Xbox.


Ubisoft to open Malaysia theme park in 2020 – On Monday, Ubisoft announced plans to open a theme park in Malaysia, one that it describes as being “next-generation”. This will give its fans a chance to experience its games as a real-world adventure, the company says, at least if you’re in or near Malaysia. The theme park won’t be opening until 2020, but when it does it’ll offer 10,000 square meters of attractions, rides, shows, and more, all of them featured indoor for all-weather and year-round enjoyment.

Off Topic (Sort of):

LG develops 111-inch double-sided 4K OLED TV – The hottest tech in displays right now is OLED and 4K. Combine the two and you have a fantastic, high resolution at any size TV, but LG has gone a step further by developing a double-sided 4K OLED TV. If that wasn’t enough to impress you, they also made 111-inches big. The massive, unique display is being shown off at IFA Berlin this week. LG achieved the 111-inch size by combining three 65-inch OLED panels while keeping the display just a handful of millimeters thick. A smaller 55-inch double-sided TV was also present with its thickness listed as just 5.3mm.

If you’re buying a TV, know these three letters: HDR – If you’re looking to buy a new TV, prepare to hear a lot about HDR. After bigger screens, and thinner screens, and 3D screens, and curved screens, and 4K screens, HDR is the new flavor of the season in television technology and it’s one worth paying attention to. High dynamic range is probably most familiar to people through the HDR mode on their digital cameras. It’s designed to deliver a picture that has greater details in the shadows and highlights a wider range of colors. HDR in televisions pursues the same goal. The color palette is wider, blacks are deeper and whites are brighter.


MESSE BERLIN – An HDR TV displayed by Panasonic at the IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin on Sept. 4, 2015.

Geeky club sparked Apple’s first computer, gave Woz a ‘eureka’ moment – A 1975 meeting in a Silicon Valley garage inspired the young, shy Steve Wozniak to build the Apple I — and ignite a legacy. Woz tells the tale to CNET.


Here’s How Many People Are Still Rocking the Original iPhone – Apple is expected to announce two new iPhones on Wednesday, an annual update to its most successful product lines. This will mark the ninth year that Apple has introduced a new set of iPhones. The company has sold 10 different variations of the iPhone, from the 2007 original (which launched without the App Store) to last year’s supersized iPhone 6 Plus. In total, Apple has sold more than 700 million iPhones since 2007. But just how many people are using a spiffy new iPhone 6 Plus compared to the older models?


Source: Fiksu Get the data

Space whisky returns to Earth! Here are the taste test results – In 2011, samples of scotch whisky were sent to mature aboard the International Space Station. Now they’re back and sporting a different flavor than their terrestrially mellowed counterparts.


Something to think about:

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

–       John Adams


Dashlane: The password manager, perfected – Keeping track of passwords and making them secure is startlingly simple with Dashlane’s free password manager. Automatically import your passwords from Chrome or any other browser into your secure password vault. Save any missing passwords as you browse. Make a new password right within your browser. Get automatic alerts when websites get breached.

And with our auto-login, you will never have to type any password on any of your devices again. It’s that simple.


DocFetcher – DocFetcher is an Open Source desktop search application: It allows you to search the contents of files on your computer. — You can think of it as Google for your local files. The application runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, and is made available under the Eclipse Public License.

Basic Usage:

The screenshot below shows the main user interface. Queries are entered in the text field at (1). The search results are displayed in the result pane at (2). The preview pane at (3) shows a text-only preview of the file currently selected in the result pane. All matches in the file are highlighted in yellow.

You can filter the results by minimum and/or maximum filesize (4), by file type (5) and by location (6). The buttons at (7) are used for opening the manual, opening the preferences and minimizing the program into the system tray, respectively.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Apple refused to wiretap an iMessage account for the Justice Department – For years, Tim Cook has been telling users that iMessage’s encryption makes it impossible to wiretap — and now, the Justice Department seems to have found out the hard way that he’s right. According to a New York Times report, Apple received a court order from the Justice Department this summer, demanding real-time access to a suspect’s iMessage account. Apple replied that iMessage encryption made the request impossible. The company later handed over iCloud backups of the suspect’s messaging history, but the request for real-time access (akin to a traditional wiretap) remained unfulfilled.

There are still a number of unanswered questions around the report. We don’t know the nature of the court order or the justification for Apple’s refusal, so it’s difficult to assess the legality of either one. Still, federal agencies have been trying and failing to wiretap iMessage accounts for years now, so the central facts of the story are very plausible. In its most recent transparency report, Apple reported more than 250 national security requests, and said 6 percent of law enforcement requests pertained to user account data.

US claim on the world’s servers at a crossroads – The Obama administration on Wednesday will argue to a US appeals court that companies operating in the US must comply with valid warrants for data—even if that data is stored on overseas servers.

Much of the tech sector, from Amazon and Microsoft to Verizon, oppose the US government’s position in the closely watched case. These companies and a slew of others maintain that the enforcement of US law stops at the border. They say the global community is already skittish about trusting US-based tech companies in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. So a ruling siding with the Obama administration would fuel that mistrust, conflict with foreign data protection laws, and place the tech sector at risk of foreign government sanctions, the companies said.

The two-year-old dispute before the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York concerns e-mail stored on Microsoft’s servers in Dublin, Ireland. As part of a drug investigation, US authorities served Microsoft with a warrant demanding access to e-mail on an overseas Microsoft account. Microsoft balked, writing in a court brief that “The government cannot seek and a court cannot issue a warrant allowing federal agents to break down the doors of Microsoft’s Dublin facility.”

Norwegian Pirate Party provides DNS server to bypass new Pirate Bay blockade – Following a court-ordered block of The Pirate Bay and a number of other file-sharing websites in Norway, the Norwegian Pirate Party (Piratpartiet Norge) has now set up free, uncensored DNS servers that anyone can use to bypass the block. While the DNS servers are based in Norway, anyone can use them: if your ISP is blocking access to certain sites via DNS blackholing/blocking, using the Piratpartiet’s DNS servers should enable access.

A few days ago, TorrentFreak reported that the Oslo District Court had sided with several Hollywood studios and domestic Norwegian rights holders in a case that sought to block a number of sites, including The Pirate Bay, Viooz, and ExtraTorrent. The court ordered that the country’s major ISPs, including Telenor, TeliaSonera, NextGenTel, and Altibox, must block the sites.

The Norwegian Pirate Party, as you can probably imagine, isn’t happy with the court-ordered block. In response, it has set up an unblocked DNS server——and a website that shows you how to change your DNS server settings on Windows, Mac, or Linux.


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