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.”

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