Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 2, 2015

Microsoft slips user-tracking tools into Windows 7, 8;  $15 PC makes the Raspberry Pi look expensive;  The Best Free Antivirus for 2015;  Instagram updates private photo messaging to be more like Snapchat;  How to liquid-cool your graphics card in 20 minutes;  LinkedIn rolls out revamped messaging service;  Wikipedia bans 381 user accounts for dishonest editing;  Intel Skylake: All the speeds, feeds, and prices, and which one is right for you;  Create a recovery drive for your Chromebook;  Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 to have built-in anti-malware feature;  Intel’s new Compute Stick packs 6th Gen Core M into dongle;  Pandora To Celebrate 10th Anniversary With Day Of Ad-Free Listening;  5 Sneaky Tips for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain;  New protein creates slow melting luxury ice cream;  Star Wars Battlefront beta coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC in October;  CBS will stream two regular season NFL games for free this year;  NSA bulk call records collection extended for last time;  54-propeller superdrone lifts off with a person inside;  Avast Browser Cleanup (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft slips user-tracking tools into Windows 7, 8 amidst Windows 10 privacy storm – Windows 10 is a deliciously good operating system, all things considered, but its abundant user-tracking has prompted many privacy-minded individuals to stay pat with older versions of Windows. Now, Microsoft’s providing those concerned individuals a reason to upgrade. No, the company’s not walking back its privacy-encroaching features. Instead, Microsoft’s quietly rolling out updates that bake new tracking tools into Windows 7 and Windows 8. Yes, really.

The Best Free Antivirus for 2015 – Free antivirus utilities do everything their commercial cousins do, and the best free ones do it better than many for-pay competitors. We’ve rounded up a collection of totally free antivirus products that should serve you well.


Oncam aims to revolutionise group video calling with new app – The Los Angeles, CA based Oncam app claims to be the first-of-its-kind, Wi-Fi free, group video calling app with broadcast built in. You can group video chat with up to six people while unlimited persons watch — a virtual “Meet the team” event. Oncam enables three types of live mobile communication: Private group video calls, live public group video calls, and drop-Ins. Private calls are limited to an invited guest list, while public calls are open to an unlimited amount of viewers that can participate via text. A video call can be scheduled in advance through push notifications to a caller’s Oncam followers. It is designed so that you can take advantage of free Wi-Fi or use your cell data plan to make calls to your network. You can host live public group video calls, which are viewable to all Oncam users – just like Google Hangouts on air.



Instagram updates private photo messaging to be more like Snapchat – On Tuesday, Instagram updated its in-app messaging feature, Instagram Direct, so that you could reply to a private photo message using a selfie or video taken on the spot. Direct messages are now also threaded so you can continue conversations and view the messaging history between you and your friends. In addition, Instagram Direct now lets you share a public Instagram photo directly with a friend.


Create a recovery drive for your Chromebook – As reliable as Chromebooks are, life happens. When things go awry, you’ll want to be able to get back up and running quickly. Naturally, your data is already safe and secure on your Google Drive (that’s part of the beauty of working with a Chromebook). But if your device starts misbehaving, and a powerwash isn’t doing the trick, or you decide to try installing Linux on that hardware and opt to go back, you’ll need a recovery drive to return it to a usable state. Fortunately, the Chrome OS developers have made this process incredibly simple. Let me walk you through the process.

Intel Skylake: All the speeds, feeds, and prices, and which one is right for you – We can’t test everything at PCWorld, but what we can do is provide a handy scorecard of the Skylake chips Intel is launching Tuesday at the IFA show in Berlin. We’ve already told you why Skylake is a “sixth-generation CPU”, what you need to know about Skylake, and even an early review of the i7-6700K, one of the high-end desktop Skylake chips Intel will ship this fall.

$15 PC makes the Raspberry Pi look expensive – The Raspberry Pi is an amazing little dev board, and it’s one of the best tech bargains around. But there’s a new alternative: one that costs less than half as much but still packs a ton of computing power.


Kinsa’s New Smart Ear Thermometer Will Tell You What To Do When You’re Sick – Kinsa, the maker of a smart thermometer that tracks the spread of illness, has today announced their second product in the form of the Kinsa in-ear thermometer. Unlike the first thermometer, which was a standard (though smart) stick thermometer, the new in-ear thermometer is completely wireless, and connects to the smartphone app via Bluetooth. The Kinsa portfolio of thermometers work like this:


Trusted Lets Parents Book Vetted Babysitters At The Last Minute – Trusted is launching a new service for parents in search of high-quality babysitters — particularly parents who need to find someone ASAP. CEO Anand Iyer compared the startup’s approach to the recently launched senior care service Honor. When you’re looking for a babysitters, Trusted lets you browse the available providers and book them from within the mobile app — you can schedule a session for the next week, the next day or even the same day. The company performs background checks on all of its babysitters and makes sure they’re CPR certified. In contrast to many of on-demand services, Trusted makes its child care providers actual employees, rather than contractors.

LinkedIn rolls out revamped messaging service with GIFs, emojis – LinkedIn’s social network has become a mainstay recruiting tool and the de facto platform for professionals, but the company’s messaging service never really caught on with users. So in hopes of turning things around, LinkedIn has completely overhauled its messaging service, giving it a cleaner, chat-like design and compatibility with ever-popular emojis, stickers and GIFs. The messaging service was also retooled to provide push and email notifications.

Intel’s new Compute Stick packs 6th Gen Core M into dongle – Intel’s Compute Stick was the surprise PC of CES 2015, a full computer packed into a TV dongle, and now it’s getting a new 6th-gen Core upgrade. Announced today, the new Intel Core M Compute Stick keeps the basic premise of its predecessor – essentially a headless laptop intended to plug straight into an HDTV or monitor – but gives it a Skylake performance boost for serious work and entertainment. The 4.5W 6th-generation Core M processor Intel is using is the same as will be powering some of the new breed of ultrabooks. That means support for things like 4K video playback, which should make the Compute Stick a better multimedia hub, not to mention a fair platform for some low-intensity gaming. The new chips have native H.265 transcoding, which will allow small-form-factor PCs to send 4K video in more bandwidth-sensitive ways to mobile devices.

How to liquid-cool your graphics card in 20 minutes – Closed-loop liquid cooling can be yours for cheap, but read this first to make sure you and your GPU are up for it.


Water cooling can tame even the Radeon R9 290 card.

Ex-Android and HTC employees launch Robin, a “cloud-first” smartphone – It’s not often a new Android OEM comes along, but today a company called “Nextbit” is taking the wraps off of its first ever phone: the Robin. The Robin is a high-end phone launching on Kickstarter for $349 (with discounts for early birds), but the real draw of the Nextbit Robin—according to the company—is the phone’s “cloud-first” software.


A studio is suing Popcorn Time users for illegally downloading a Pierce Brosnan movie – Popcorn Time, the Netflix-like streaming service that delivers pirated movies to users, has battled legal difficulties since it launched, and the pile of complaints leveled against it just got a little bit bigger. Indie studio Millennium Films and its affiliate Nu Image filed a lawsuit against Popcorn Time users in Oregon today, claiming they were responsible for more than 10,000 illegal downloads of the 2015 assassin movie Survivor, which starred Pierce Brosnan and Milla Jovovich. The studio argues Popcorn Time is no different than walking into a store and stealing a DVD.

Mozilla Relaunches Its Thimble Online Code Editor For Teaching HTML, CSS And JavaScript – Back in 2012, Mozilla launched Thimble, an online code editor for teaching the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Over time, though, things got pretty quiet around the project as other browser-based code editors like Brackets and full online IDEs like Nitrous took center stage. Today, however, Mozilla relaunched Thimble with a major redesign and a slew of new features.


Wikipedia bans 381 user accounts for dishonest editing – Editors of the English version of Wikipedia have blocked 381 user accounts for editing articles on the online encyclopedia despite being secretly paid to do so by various interests. The editors also deleted 210 articles created by the accounts. Most of these were generally promotional in nature and were related to businesses, people in business or artists. The articles had biased information, unattributed material and potential copyright violations, the Wikimedia Foundation that runs Wikipedia said in a blog post Monday. The foundation said it believed the edits were made by one coordinated group because of their similarity.


Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 to have built-in anti-malware feature – If the events of the recent months are any indication, malware on mobile devices, especially Android, is on the rise. As more users store important, sometimes private, data on their mobile devices, the temptation for hackers grow stronger, and so does the need for stronger security measures. Leveraging the unique position of being one the lowest level of the platform stack, Qualcomm is advertising the new Smart Protect feature on its upcoming Snapdragon 820 chip which provides real-time detection of malware that OEMs and security software makers can use to enhance their products.

After a quarter million iPhones hacked, a reminder ‘jailbreaking’ devices still not safe – For years, iPhone owners stripped their devices of Apple’s security settings, allowing the handsets to work overseas or run apps the company didn’t approve. Many users thought the practice, known as “jailbreaking,” was harmless. But it frustrated Apple, which said it left the devices vulnerable to hackers. Now, it turns out more than 225,000 of those phones have been hacked, according to cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks this week. Each was a jailbroken device, the firm added, supporting Apple’s years-long warnings.

Russian-speaking hackers breach 97 websites, many of them dating ones – Russian-speaking hackers have breached 97 websites, mostly dating-related, and stolen login credentials, putting hundreds of thousands of users at risk. Many of the websites are niche dating ones similar to Ashley Madison, according to a list compiled by Hold Security, a Wisconsin-based company that specializes in analyzing data breaches. A few are job-related sites. Batches of stolen information were found on a server by the company’s analysts, said Alex Holden, Hold Security’s founder and CTO. The server, for some reason, was not password protected, allowing analysis of its contents, he said.

Your brand new phone could still have malware – Security company G Data has identified more than 20 mobile phones that have malware installed despite being marketed as new, according to a research report. And it doesn’t appear the infection is occurring during manufacturing. “Somebody is unlocking the phone and putting the malware on there and relocking the phone,” said Andy Hayter, security evangelist for G Data. Many of the suspect phones are sold in Asia and Europe through third parties or middleman and aren’t coming directly from the manufacturers, Hayter said.

Company News:

Judge Lets Drivers’ Class Action Lawsuit Against Uber Go Forward – The lawsuit could set a precedent that reshapes some of the world’s most promising young companies.

Google, Netflix, Amazon team for one video format to rule them all – This week the Alliance for Open Media was launched in hopes of bringing a single open format to video streaming services worldwide. This single format would be adoptable by all, and given the members of the alliance that’ve announced their allegiance so far, this Alliance is going to be adopted by the biggest of the big. Founding members of the Alliance include Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix. If there were a group of technology leaders able to make this format happen, it’s this one.


Pandora To Celebrate 10th Anniversary With Day Of Ad-Free Listening – Our beloved Pandora is 10 years old this month. The music company has endured ups and downs but is set to celebrate that milestone anniversary on the 9th. It’s quite impressive. What started as the human genome project has become something much bigger, connecting artists to listeners 24/7. To give back, Pandora has announced “Listener Love Day,” a day of ad-free streaming for all US users. It starts at midnight ET on Wednesday September 9th and runs for 24 hours. Additionally the company has created a “mixtape” of the favorite songs over the years based on the thumbs up they’ve received on the service.

Apple and Cisco hook up for new enterprise partnership – A new partnership between Apple and Cisco should improve the experience for iOS users on crowded Cisco networks and deliver increased integration between Apple users and Cisco’s popular communication platforms. A little more than a year ago, Apple and IBM announced a new, wide-ranging global partnership that has resulted in the development of dozens of new, vertical-specific apps and enterprise integration services. Though neither IBM nor Apple have been particularly forthcoming with specifics about its partnership, the two companies have been fairly productive in developing new platforms and apps for its customers.

Microsoft and VMware cozy up, forgoing past rivalry – Microsoft’s new, more collaborative approach to the computing industry was on display at VMware’s annual conference in San Francisco Tuesday, when executives from both companies shared the stage to talk about new device management features in Windows 10.

Games and Entertainment:

Star Wars Battlefront beta coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC in October – Star Wars Battlefront, the much-anticipated shooter from Battlefield studio DICE, is getting a beta. EA announced on Tuesday that the beta will be held in “early October” for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. As part of the beta, you’ll get to try out Battlefront’s massive-scale 40-player mode, Walker Assault, on the Hoth map. The special Hero characters Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker will also be available to unlock. Check out the image below for a snapshot of what to expect. In addition, the beta will let you try out a Survival Mission on Tatooine where you’ll play as Rebels and must push back advancing Imperial forces.


Best mobile games of August 2015 (pictures) – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in August 2015.


Stylish stealth puzzler and noir adventure Calvino Noir puts you in the role of several actors in a play about revolution in 1930s Europe, inspired by Blade Runner.

CBS will stream two regular season NFL games for free this year – CBS has announced that it will livestream two upcoming regular season NFL games for the first time in 2015, for free and without the need for authentication, a subscription, or a cable provider. The move expands CBS’ online coverage of the sport, as the network will also stream four playoff games and the Super Bowl itself, live on its website, and on devices including Xbox One, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku players. The games in question will take place between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins on October 4th, and between the Carolina Panthers and the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. CBS isn’t the only source offering a regular season game for free — Yahoo has also agreed a deal with the NFL to stream an October 25th game between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars online

Black Ops III pre-orders include Nuk3town multiplayer map – The next game in the Call of Duty franchise is Black Ops III set to launch on November 6. This game will certainly sell in droves with CoD being one of the most popular multiplayer shooters in the world. Black Ops III is set in the future with combat taking place in 2065 and features refreshed gameplay and a new momentum-based chained movement system to make for more exciting close quarters combat than fans have had in past generations.


Deadpool game arrives for Xbox One, PS4 in November – Xbox One and PlayStation 4 gamers will be getting the Deadpool game that was released back in June 2013, and it’ll be available starting November 17. This will be an adaption of that aforementioned game, and will be priced at $49.99 USD for both next-gen gaming consoles. GameStop made the official announcement on its Twitter page earlier today, and already has both games up for pre-order on its website.


5 Sneaky Tips for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Whereas past Metal Gear games had players sneaking through tightly designed levels in industrial warehouses or foreign jungles, The Phantom Pain gives Snake two huge regions to explore: Afghanistan and Angola. Metal Gear has never featured gameplay quite like this before, so here are some tips to help you stay out of sight and in control.

No connection? No Amazon device? Prime Video says no problem – Being member of Amazon Prime now means your movie won’t stop just because your mobile connection does. Prime members in the US, UK, Germany and Austria can now download movies and TV shows to mobile devices even if they’re using Apple iPhones and iPads or phones running on Google’s Android software, Amazon said Tuesday. The online retail giant previously allowed people who have a Fire tablet — part of the company’s own line of devices — to watch offline.

LG updates older smart TVs with webOS 2.0 features for free – After being stung by the stillborn Google TV promise a few years back, LG decided to go with its own platform instead. Acquiring webOS from HP, which the latter acquired from Palm, LG has put webOS on most if not all of its smart TVs and at least one smartwatch. Continuing its show of support and dedication to its exclusive platform, LG is rolling out a free upgrade to its older webOS 1.0 smart TVs, bringing in some of the features of webOS 2.0 to the screen.

Off Topic (Sort of):

54-propeller superdrone lifts off with a person inside – I’ve looked at little quadcopter drones and thought, “Gosh, if I could just shrink down to mouse size, that would be a lot of fun to ride around on.” YouTube user gasturbine101 apparently looked at a drone and thought, “I could harness the power of a million drones and use them as my personal flying chariot.” And he did, except it took just 54 propellers to get the job done. The Swarm is a manned superdrone, so named because it looks like a herd of little drones all strapped together to make one big flying machine. There’s a seat at the center for the operator to sit and control the device.


Video captures Texas cops shooting man with raised hands – A Texas broadcaster has published video captured from a viewer’s mobile phone that shows San Antonio police shoot and kill a man with his hands up. The video, published Monday, shows deputies shoot 41-year-old Gilbert Flores outside a house where police were responding to a domestic disturbance call. “He put his hands in the air and then he had his hands up for a few seconds and the cops shot him twice,” Michael Thomas, the man who filmed the video, told CNN.


Ride This One-Wheeled Gyro Skate They Call A “Hoverboard” – The mad scientist who started Hoverboard Technologies calls his vehicle an “earned experience.” That means it’s hard to ride. Despite the name, this hoverboard* doesn’t levitate. Instead, it uses gyroscopes like a Segway to help you balance with your feet on either side of one giant rollerblade-style wheel in the center.

Hover Gif

The music of bronze-age Celts revealed through 3D printing – Primitive music may not have been so primitive after all, as discovered by an archaeologist and Ph.D. candidate at the Australian National University College of Asia-Pacific. Billy Ó Foghlú, who believed that the bronze- and iron-age musical horns found in Ireland must have had mouthpieces, has 3D printed an object that vastly improves the sound of the instruments. His research has been published in the ancient Celtic culture journal Emania.

New protein creates slow melting luxury ice cream – Summer’s dialing down in some places, but the hot days aren’t behind us (in fact, they’re becoming something of a problem), and that means there’ll probably be another rapidly melting ice cream cone in your immediately future. Melted ice cream is a disappointment, as you likely know — you can pretend it’s a milkshake all you want, but deep down inside you know it’s a poor excuse. Future generation may not be able to sympathize with this issue, though, as researchers have recently discovered a protein that slows down how quickly ice cream melts.


Something to think about:

“Taint’t worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes.”

–     Sarah Orne Jewett (1849 – 1909), The Country of the Pointed Firs, 1896


Avast Browser Cleanup – Get your browser back in shape! The brand-new Avast Browser Cleanup removes dangerous extensions and toolbars or fix hijacked searches. And it’s free! More than 200 million browsers cleaned so far.

Don’t let them fool you – Intrusive extensions often install themselves alongside otherwise legitimate programs. The chances are high that you don’t even notice.

Get rid of bad add-ons – Based on the huge amounts of data we process, we can easily determine if your browser is in danger.

Restore safe search settings – Some intrusive apps manipulate your search providers and even search results – and you may have no clue about it.

HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure. Encrypt the web: Install HTTPS Everywhere today.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA bulk call records collection extended for last time – The U.S. National Security Agency’s controversial program for the bulk collection of domestic phone call records has been granted extension for the last time, according to documents released.

Under an order  by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the NSA is now allowed to continue collecting the data for a three-month period until Nov. 28. The permission was extended in June to Aug. 28.

The collection of phone records metadata, which did not include collection of information on the content of conversations, is one of many large-scale surveillance schemes of the NSA that were disclosed by former agency contractor, Edward Snowden. The disclosures led to demands for the reform of government surveillance to protect people’s privacy.

U.S. President Barack Obama approved as law in June the USA Freedom Act, legislation that reins in the program by leaving the phone records database in the hands of the telecommunications operators, while allowing only a targeted search of the data by the NSA for investigations.

While some provisions of the Act took effect immediately upon enactment, the ban on bulk collection of call records allowed for a 180-day transition of the program.

China intensifies Internet censorship ahead of military parade – As China prepares to celebrate a new national holiday, the country has been tightening its grip over the Internet by squelching online rumors, and cracking down on tools that can circumvent its censorship.

On Sunday, China’s Ministry of Public Security said it punished 197 people for allegedly spreading misinformation over local social media and messaging services.

The rumors covered controversial topics including the financial woes of the Shanghai stock market and the recent explosion in the Chinese city of Tianjin. One rumor, for instance, claimed that more than 1,300 people had died in the blast at Tianjin, when the official toll puts the figure at over 140.

The suspects involved deliberately attempted to mislead the public and create panic, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

The crackdown comes as the country is about to celebrate a new holiday on Sept. 3, which will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II. In Beijing, the government will be holding a large military parade.


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

9 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 2, 2015

  1. The best free Antivirus ???
    I like the recommendation “Since they are free, try several”. I can just see the average computer user installing several and then wondering what just killed their computer…. Never run more than one resident AV at a time. Always totally remove your current AV before you try something new.
    This means download all the needed tools to do the changeover, go off line, remove your current AV, install the new one, reboot and go back on line.

    • Hi Bob,

      If it weren’t for tech articles such as that one, where would guys like you and I get our laughs from? 🙂

      Solid advice, as usual, in your comment – particularly “This means download all the needed tools to do the changeover.”

      BTW, currently running Avast in Win 10 Home and Win 10 Pro – both solid performers.

      Seems Avast recently placed me on their press release list. Was that you’re doing – huh? huh? 🙂

      Trust all is well down your way.



      • Agree with you on the laughs part. 🙂
        Your Name and Blog has been passed on to some of the people I deal with at Avast. I’ve also shared any of your excellent articles on their support forum.
        All is fine. I’ll be doing a webinar for the folks at the Westchester PC Users Group ( tonight. The topic will be “Security Is Everyone’s Business.”
        I prefer to do my presentations in person but, that’s not always possible and a webinar is the next best thing to being there.
        Have a great day. I’m already waiting for tomorrow mornings addition of your newsletter.


  2. As a library as though, there are a lot information , realy thanks