Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – October 5, 2015

10 things taking up way too much space on your phone;  Email and social media blunders that could get you fired … or worse;  Everything you need to know about Google’s $35 streamer;  Windows 10 build 10558 leaked, tons of features await;  Automatically Animate GIFs In Your Google Image Search Results;  11 Ways Apple’s Health App Is Actually Really Useful;  11 Fitness Apps That Are Better Than a Personal Trainer;  The best rugged Bluetooth speakers;  How to properly decommission iOS devices;  Google Chromebooks: The most popular classroom computing device;  The 10 Greatest Android Phones in the Entire Universe;  2015’s biggest data breaches: CVS, Anthem, IRS, and worse;  Google Officially Becomes Alphabet;  Scottrade suffers hack; 4.6M customers notified of breach;  Oculus Rift will cost over $350;  Batman: Arkham Knight back onto Steam in time for Halloween;  Latest Xbox One bundle comes with Fallout 4 and 3;  Brevity: 3 tips for speaking less and saying more;  Drone Regulations: What You Need to Know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 things taking up way too much space on your phone – It doesn’t matter how much storage space your new phone has—or how much additional storage space you add with a microSD card—you somehow always find yourself bumping up against that limit. So what do you do? Go out and buy a $1000 512GB microSD card and try to cram it into your microSD-less Samsung Galaxy Note 5? Or…clean up your dang phone? Let’s go with the latter.

Email and social media blunders that could get you fired … or worse – From Anthony Weiner-style pics to simply hitting the caps-lock key at the wrong time, these communication blunders could cost you big. From the famous to the infamous to the utterly anonymous, sharing too much info digitally is a surefire way to mess up your life. Examples? We’ve got ’em.

Windows 10 build 10558 leaked, tons of features await – This yet to be made official preview contains more than a few new features awaiting desktop users, some of which might be very useful especially for low storage devices. Perhaps the biggest new feature in the upcoming app update will be the ability to install apps in other than the main “C:” drive or partition. This is going to be a life saver for many, especially those on tablets or laptop hybrids. While Microsoft has made considerable efforts to cut down the disk usage of Windows itself, it is no panacea, especially when apps are concerned. Now users will be able to install apps to, say, a permanently attached microSD card. Sadly, this is a global setting instead of a per app basis.


Automatically Animate GIFs In Your Google Image Search Results – Even though I’m a huge Giphy fan, I still use Google Image Search a lot to find fun imagery…especially animated GIFs. The problem with using Google Search for this is that the results aren’t animated. With this Chrome Extension, your world will change. Do a search and blammo…animation station:

687474703a2f2f692e696d6775722e636f6d2f435479416f59472e676966 (2)

Chromecast FAQ: Everything you need to know about Google’s $35 streamer – Unlike every other media streamer, which ships with a remote control for moving through menus, Chromecast uses your phone or tablet as the remote. It’s a far-out concept that you’ll either love or hate. Now that Google has announced a brand-new version of the Chromecast (two Chromecasts, actually, but we’ll focused on the video model), it’s a fine time to go over the nitty-gritty. Here’s what you ought to know if you’re considering a Chromecast for your living room:


Google Chromecast Audio – Google has released the Chromecast Audio, a new variant designed solely to turn your speakers wireless for music streaming. It works just like the Chromecast, and has the same low $35 price tag, but it lacks video output and instead connects via a 3.5mm audio jack (with support for stereo RCA and optical audio). And, just like the original Chromecast, it does exactly what it claims to do, extremely well, and at a very reasonable price.


Google Chromebooks: The most popular classroom computing device – Lost in all the buzz about Google’s new Nexus smartphones and Chromecast devices was that Chromebooks are now schools’ favorite computer device.


Consumer Watchdog Groups Complain Updated YouTube Kids App Still Exposes Children To Deceptive Ads – YouTube announced changes to its kid-friendly YouTube Kids mobile application this week designed to better educate parents on how the app works and the protections it offers, following a number of complaints, including those to the FTC, from consumer watchdog organizations. But the groups today are saying that YouTube hasn’t gone far enough with the updated YouTube Kids app, calling the changes “superficial.” Of particular concern, the organizations feel that the advertising that takes place in the app is still “excessive and deceptive” in nature, and doesn’t meet the same guidelines as the advertising permitted on children’s television programs.

Pro tip: How to properly decommission iOS devices – Upgrading your iOS device? Learn how to properly wipe all personal data from your current device before selling or giving it away to protect it from data loss.

This Is the History and the Future of Tablets – Between Apple’s new iPad Pro, Microsoft’s Surface lineup and Google’s new Pixel C, it’s clear that tech companies aren’t giving up on tablets despite dropping sales. But where did tablets come from? Is there hope for them in hybrid designs that combine the best of tablets with the best of laptops, like the iPad Pro? What will the tablets of the future look like?

11 Ways Apple’s Health App Is Actually Really Useful – That Health feature Apple unleashed on every iPhone that uses iOS 8 is an odd and confusing beast that doesn’t appear to do much on its own — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly useful. The entries below prove that Health is anything but worthless. If you want to explore more, just search in the App Store for apps compatible with the Health app, wait for them to ask permission to sync with it, then open Health and select the “Sources” tab to determine how they send and receive information. Different apps may have different settings, so play around to make sure you’re getting everything you can out of them.

11 Fitness Apps That Are Better Than a Personal Trainer – Tech geekery and fitness have historically gone together like socks and sandals: they just don’t. But conventional wisdom no longer applies now that we’ve all got devices in our pockets. If the apps below are any indication, this geekery can help us get in the best shape of our lives. OK, fine, maybe just slightly better shape than we’re used to. But still. Check out the best apps to give personal trainers a run for their money.

The best rugged Bluetooth speakers – We searched for the top ultra-rugged, splash proof, portable, take anywhere Bluetooth speakers we could find. Here are some Bluetooth speakers that will take what you can throw at them.


The Dreamwave Tremor army rugged outdoor Bluetooth speaker.

Adblock extension begins whitelisting ‘acceptable ads’ – The maker of a competing ad-blocking browser extension has joined up with the new program created by Eyeo, owner of Adblock Plus, under which an independent board will decide which ads are acceptable to be placed on a whitelist. The AdBlock browser extension for Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari—similarly named but independent of Eyeo’s product—claims 40 million users. Its developer  Michael Gundlach said Thursday that he had sold his company, as well. The move came about, he said, because German developer Eyeo had decided to distance itself from management of the acceptable ads program that allowed it to make money from its own ad-blocking browser extensions.


This Is How Most Of The World Uses Twitter – Blah blah blah, Twitter has 316M users or whatever and they’re not growing. Can it grow? Will it grow? Yes, there are a lot of questions that Twitter has to start answering if it wants to get some sort of momentum going with consumers and rebuild trust with its investors. General awareness isn’t Twitter’s problem. Plenty of people who aren’t on Twitter, and may never be on Twitter, know what Twitter is. It’s a place where people squawk. Where news sometimes breaks. And where sports teams talk trash to each other:

Now You Can Do a Google Reverse Image Search From Your Phone – A Web developer by the name of Amit Agarwal has done us all a huge favor and created a wrapper of Google Image Search for mobile devices.


The 10 Greatest Android Phones in the Entire Universe – The greatest thing about Google’s mobile OS: You have your choice of handsets on all the major wireless carriers.

10 ways Microsoft Office 2016 could improve your productivity – Microsoft wants Office 2016 to be the last office productivity suite you will ever need. Here are 10 things you should know about how it plans to make that happen.


2015’s biggest data breaches: CVS, Anthem, IRS, and worse – The chances are your data was leaked this year. In 2014 alone, more than one billion personal records were illegally accessed — including health, financial, email and home address data, and other personal information like Social Security numbers. That’s up more than 54 percent on the year prior, according to Gemalto. This year, there’s no sign of let-up.

Scottrade suffers hack; 4.6M customers notified of breach – Retail brokerage firm Scottrade confirmed Friday it fell victim to a cyberattack two years ago. In a brief statement on its website, the Missouri-based company said it was informed by federal law enforcement of “illegal activity involving our network” that occurred between late-2013 and early-2014. “Although Social Security numbers, email addresses and other sensitive data were contained in the system were accessed, it appears that contact information was the focus of the incident,” the statement read. As many as 4.6 million clients, whose contact information is thought to have been taken, are being notified by the brokerage firm.

Patreon was warned of serious website flaw 5 days before it was hacked – Five days before officials said their donations website was plundered by hackers, researchers at a third-party security firm notified them that a serious programming error could lead to disastrous results. The researchers now believe the vulnerability was the entry point for attackers who went on to publish almost 15 gigabytes’ worth of source code, user password data, and private messages. The inclusion of source code and databases suggests breach was extensive. The error was nothing short of facepalm material.


Detectify: Results of a Shodan search performed on September 11 made it clear Patreon was vulnerable to code-execution attacks.

David Jones online customer details stolen – David Jones has revealed that customer details have been stolen as a result of its website being hacked. In a notice on its website, the Australian department giant said that on September 25 its website was hacked, but assured that no customer credit card information, financial information, or passwords were stolen, as it does not store any credit card information or financial information on its website. It said the only customer details that were stolen were names, email addresses, order details, and mailing addresses.

New Malware Called YiSpecter Is Attacking iOS Devices in China And Taiwan – Once it infects a phone, YiSpecter can install unwanted apps; replacing legitimate apps with ones it has downloaded; force apps to display full-screen advertisements; change bookmarks and default search engines in Safari; and send user information back to its server. It also automatically reappears even after users manually delete it from their iOS devices. Palo Alto Networks says YiSpecter is unusual for iOS malware—at least ones that have been identified so far—because it attacks jailbroken and non-jailbroken iOS devices by misusing private APIs to allow its four components (which are signed with enterprise certificates to appear legitimate) to download and install each other from a centralized server.

T-Mobile customers got hacked: here’s what you should do – This week T-Mobile USA announced that a hacker had gained access to a set of credit applications handled by Experian. This company works for T-Mobile, and approximately 15 million people are at risk of having their personal information leaked at this very moment. If you were a new applicant with T-Mobile requiring a credit check for service or device financing between September 1, 2013 through September 16, 2015, there are a few things you should be doing right now. Grab a glass of water, sit down, be as calm as possible, and execute all the necessaries with authority.

Company News:

Google Officially Becomes Alphabet – According to a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google has “implemented the Alphabet Merger.” That means Google stock has been converted into Alphabet stock (though the stock ticker symbol remains the same), with trading of Alphabet stock expected to begin when the market opens on Monday morning.

Sprint continues decline, plans job cuts and cost cuts of $2.5 billion – Sprint’s place among the big four US wireless carriers continues to be a precarious one, with news reports saying the company now aims to reduce its number of employees and cut between $2 billion and $2.5 billion in costs over the next six months. A memo from Sprint management to staff said there will be a hiring freeze and “job reductions,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Sprint announced days ago that it will skip a major auction of low-band spectrum, a decision that could push the company further behind its rivals.

Report: Apple Prepping Second Spaceship Office in Silicon Valley – The tech giant isn’t even close to completing its 2.8 million square foot “spaceship” campus in Cupertino, but the company has already “sealed a deal” for another piece of massive real estate in the area, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Apple has reportedly contracted with Bay Area development company Landbank Investments LLC for a “curvaceous, 777,000-square-foot project … that’s expected to look like nothing else ever attempted in Silicon Valley.”


Microsoft acquires Havok from Intel – Microsoft has acquired Havok, a game-development technology provider, from Intel for an undisclosed amount. Intel bought Dublin-based Havok, known for its physics engine, in September 2007 for $110 million. Havok has worked with the leading game publishers and developers, including Microsoft Games Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment, Nintendo and others, for 15-plus years. Havok’s physics technology is designed to provide real-time collision-detection in three dimensions.

Walmart’s latest e-commerce push could bring online grocery shopping to the masses – This week, Walmart announced it was significantly expanding its online grocery services and will now offer curbside pickup for groceries ordered online in eight new markets. Walmart already had been testing online grocery with free pickup and/or delivery in San Jose, Denver, Huntsville, Alabama and its home turf of Northwest Arkansas. The new locations include Atlanta, Nashville, Tucson, Colorado Springs, and Charlotte and Fayetteville, North Carolina. The move comes as Walmart’s competitors — namely Amazon and Target — test their own e-commerce grocery initiatives.

Games and Entertainment:

Android TV Adds Showtime, HBO Now – If you have an Android TV-based device, you can now find out what happens next on Homeland, The Leftovers, and The Good Wife with Showtime, HBO Now, and CBS All Access. All three services are available to download on Android TV, as are Disney Movies Anywhere, EPIX, the WWE and UFC channels. They join a growing list of more than 50 apps already available for download, including Sling TV, Crackle, Vevo, Pandora, TED TV, Plex, Netflix, and Hulu.


Ridley Scott: The Martian Is the ‘Ultimate Survival Story’ – Based on the best-selling novel, with a screenplay written by Drew Goddard (World War Z), The Martian features Matt Damon as the wisecracking and brilliant botanist Mark Watney. Watney is left for dead on the Red Planet, after a devastating storm forces his fellow crew members to evacuate and abandon the third Mars mission, Ares III. Damon is supported by Jessica Chastain as Commander Lewis with Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, and Chiwetel Ejiofor playing staff back at NASA headquarters and the Jet Propulsion Lab in California. How does it stack up? PCMag went to the Toronto Film Festival for the gala premiere and interviewed Scott to find out more.


Latest Xbox One bundle comes with Fallout 4 and 3 – Microsoft has spent the last week announcing a new Xbox One console bundle each day in anticipation of the holiday shopping season. Previous packages have games aimed at the more mature gamer, like the Rise of the Tomb Raider bundle, as well as kid- and family-friendly titles like the Lego Movie Videogame set. With the last console bundle being revealed today, Microsoft has wisely gone with one of the year’s most anticipated games: the upcoming Fallout 4. Priced at $399 and available for pre-order starting today, the Xbox One Fallout 4 bundle comes with the new 1TB model Xbox One, the standard, albeit recently refreshed controller with a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 14-day trial of Xbox Live Gold, and, of course, a copy of Fallout 4 via digital download.


Cortana coming to the Xbox One in 2016 – On Friday evening, Microsoft’s Larry Hryb—better known as Major Nelson—took to his blog to make a couple announcements. First, a new update to the Xbox Beta app for Windows 10 is on its way. We’ll get to that in a moment, but the big news is that Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant technology, will make its way to the Xbox in 2016. According to Major Nelson, beta testers will get a chance to try Cortana on their Xbox “later this year” when Microsoft releases it through the Xbox One experience preview program.

Batman: Arkham Knight swoops back onto Steam in time for Halloween – The Caped Crusader is almost done sitting in the penalty box. Warner Bros took to Steam Friday to announce the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight will be back on sale “at the end of October,” four months after it was originally yanked from sale because it was a terrible hackjob of a port.


Oculus Rift will cost over $350 so there are “no compromises,” says founder – The Oculus Rift VR headset will cost more than $350 (~£230), according to company founder Palmer Luckey, putting its price at the very top of early estimates. Earlier this year, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe hinted that a complete Rift system, including a suitably powerful computer, would cost about $1,500 (~£1,000). Obviously, the UK prices are just estimates; electronics tend to be more expensive in Europe than in the US, after various taxes and import levies are figured in.

Off Topic (Sort of):

I Do Not Want Your Stupid App

I do not want your stupid app

I will not use this siloed crap.

I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

I do not want this mobile spam!


Would you like them on your phone?

On your waking home screen shown?

No! And no and no and no!

I do not want your stupid app

I do not want these wares of crap.

Your interstitials make me mad!

My ad blockers will make you sad.

I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

I do not want this mobile spam!



Smart machines are about to run the world: Here’s how to prepare – From self-driving cars to drones to smartphones, artificial intelligence is here. Here’s how to prepare for a future with smart machines at the helm.

Taking a Ride in Google’s Self-Driving Car – When I got a chance to ride in the company’s pod-like self-driving car prototype on the roof of its facility in Mountain View, California earlier this week, it was easy to imagine it being a normal form of personal transportation in the future. Nextcar Bug artThe vehicle, which was fully autonomous—no human driver, steering wheel, or gas and brake pedals—reminded me of a (very slow) carnival ride. Maybe that’s because the Googler who made sure I was safely settled into the vehicle said, “Buckle up, hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, and enjoy the ride!” before shutting the door.


Drone Regulations: What You Need to Know – You bought a drone. And you’re probably chomping at the bit to get the battery charged and take it out for the first test flight. But before you do, you need to be aware of the rules and regulations that the Federal Aviation Adminitration (FAA) has put in place for flying drones in the U.S. And you should also be aware of your rights and the rights of those around you.


Your viral glory of the week: Boxing kangaroos – Technically Incorrect: Almost 2 million people have flocked to Facebook to see an extraordinary video of two kangaroos performing very skilled, kickboxing-style pugilism in the middle of an Australian road.


Brevity: 3 tips for speaking less and saying more – People are inundated with information, and their brains have reached a saturation point. If you want to get someone’s attention, you must be brief, according to Joe McCormack, who spoke at IdeaFestival 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. There are three tendencies that keep most people from being brief:

Blerter aims to disrupt the workplace death toll – Every year, 4500 people die in US workplace accidents. In Australia the number is around 200. In New Zealand it’s between 50 and 70. Globally around 2.5 million are thought to die due to workplace injury or accident each year. The cost is enormous, to businesses and families and, when the loss of a breadwinner forces families into welfare dependency, to government and taxpayers as well. One company is out to change that — to disrupt those ugly numbers and make workplaces safer — through the use of mobile, social and cloud technologies.

Something to think about:

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

–     Stephen King


Prey – Getting your laptop or your phone stolen sucks, but there is something you can do about it. Prey is a lightweight theft protection software that lets you keep an eye over them whether in town or abroad, and helps you recover them if ever lost or stolen.


After installing the software on your laptop, tablet or phone, Prey will sleep silently in the background awaiting your command. Once remotely triggered from your Prey account, your device will gather and deliver detailed evidence back to you, including a picture of who’s using it – often the crucial piece of data that police officers need to take action.


When your data is at stake, bad things can happen. Prey allows you to remotely lock down your devices and delete your stored passwords, to ensure that no one will have access to your private stuff.

Cross platform

Devices connected


Prey works on all major operating systems, so it lets you keep track and trigger actions on all your devices from a single place. Like a universal remote control, but for laptops and mobiles.


When theft happens, time is always against you. That’s why every single thing Prey does is battle-hardened and made to work under the hardest conditions. This also means consuming the least possible amount of battery, always


We should mention that sensitive data is gathered only when you request it, and is for your eyes only ‐ nothing is sent without your permission. You can always check our source code if you want to make sure.


No trials, no gimmicks. You can always upgrade your plan to get better protection.



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

California city mayor relinquishes electronics and passwords to agents at SFO – Stockton, California Mayor Anthony R. Silva attended a recent mayor’s conference in China, but his return trip took a bit longer than usual. At the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) this week, agents with the Department of Homeland Security detained Silva and confiscated his personal cell phone among other electronics. According to comments from the mayor, that may not even be the most alarming part.

“Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property,” Silva told SFGate. “In addition, they were persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices.”

The mayor’s attorney, Mark Reichel, told SFGate that Silva was not allowed to leave the airport without forfeiting his passwords. Reichel was not present for Silva’s interaction with the DHS agents, either. The mayor was told he had “no right for a lawyer to be present” and that being a US citizen did not “entitle me to rights that I probably thought,” according to the paper.

As of Friday, Silva had not yet received his property from the SFO detention. SFGate reports Reichel contacted the US Attorney’s Office in Sacramento, but they would not comment on whether they still had the mayor’s possessions. The paper also reached out to a spokesperson at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but that office also refused comment. (Ars has reached out to the mayor’s office for any new information, and we’ll update this story accordingly if we hear back.)

Forcing suspects to reveal phone passwords is unconstitutional, court says – Authorities demanding access to password-protected devices has become a hot-button issue across the country, highlighted in particular by the federal government’s ongoing battle with Silicon Valley over the lack of crypto backdoors in modern smartphones. At the end of last month, one US District Judge in Pennsylvania ruled that forcing suspects to surrender their passwords was unconstitutional on Fifth Amendment grounds.

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.”

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