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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Security:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Downloads:

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.

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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!

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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.

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