Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – October 19, 2015

9 reasons why users still struggle with online security;  Five portable antivirus and antimalware tools to carry with you at all times;  10 (mostly free) must-have Windows 10 apps for power users;  13 phone behaviors that are totally inappropriate in the workplace;  11 Reasons to Stop Looking at Your Phone;  Turning a crappy old Windows PC into a full-fledged Chromebook;  How to disable Windows 10 Start menu ads;  20 New Ways Facebook Is Eating The Internet;  Google removes Chrome’s instant voice search;  How to build a PC: A step-by-step, comprehensive guide;  Get the Android Marshmallow Quick Start Guide free;  Flash’s latest critical vulnerability has been patched;  Malicious adware’s latest trick is replacing your whole browser;  Court rules Uber’s app legal in London;  Court rules that Google book scanning is fair use;  Online ad industry, battling ad blockers, admits it messed up;  Alan Turing: The man behind the myth;  5 Thought Experiments That Will Melt Your Brain;  CyberLink PhotoDirector 5 (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

9 reasons why users still struggle with online security – When it comes to online security, experts and users don’t always agree on the most effective ways to stay safe, according to a new report from Google. The company surveyed 294 users and 231 security experts (participants who worked five or more years in computer security) to better understand the differences and why they exist. Here’s what they found.

Five portable antivirus and antimalware tools to carry with you at all times – Let’s face it: One of the primary Windows admin tasks is keeping machines free of infection. It’s inevitable. End users will open files, install cutesy apps, and go to sites they shouldn’t go to. When they do these things, their machines get infected. When their machines get infected, you could wind up fighting a losing battle—unless you have the right tools. But sometimes the antivirus tools installed on the machine just aren’t enough. When that time comes, you’ll be glad you have one (or more) tools on your USB drive to help you out. I’ve found five such tools that could certainly get you out of a serious pinch. All these tools are portable and work like champs.

13 phone behaviors that are totally inappropriate in the workplace – You might work in a casual, trendy, millennial-laden office where hoodies and Birkenstocks are the definition of business casual, but that doesn’t mean you should add your boss on Snapchat. Even the “cool” offices have to decide who (and who not) to promote, so you can be sure somebody is taking note of how often you text during meetings. Here are 13 breaches of smartphone workplace etiquette that could end up costing you your job:

10 (mostly free) must-have Windows 10 apps for power users – Apps not only make using your Windows 10 device easier by giving you better ways to do the things you want to do, they can also make the experience a lot more fun. While there are plenty of built-in apps on Windows 10 devices, there’s a whole host of free or almost-fee apps that are guaranteed to make you more productive. These essentials tools will allow you to work with, share and annotate documents; back up your important data; organize and personalize your desktop; work with photos and text, and socialize and stay in touch with coworkers, friends and family.


How to disable Windows 10 Start menu ads – The latest “Fast Ring” Windows 10 build features ads in the Start menu. If you’re not into such things polluting your Start menu, here’s how you can make them go away.

If you forget your Windows admin password, try this – That Windows admin password is pretty important. If you lose track of it, though, all is not lost. You just have to wiggle in through the virtual back door.

Turning a crappy old Windows PC into a full-fledged Chromebook with CloudReady – CloudReady is a fork, of sorts, of Chromium OS, the open source code that Chrome OS is based on, and it promises to turn old PC hardware into nearly fully functional Chromebooks, complete with the features of Chrome OS’ management console. It’s not the first distribution of Chromium OS aimed at regular old PC hardware, but it certainly appears to be the best supported, and it’s actually being tested against hardware that real schools and businesses buy. Cloudready is primarily aimed at those schools and businesses, but, as of earlier this month, individuals can take it for a spin for free. We installed it on an old Dell Latitude E6410 to see what it was like and to talk about what a real Chromebook gives you that CloudReady doesn’t.


Dell’s old Latitude E6410 becomes a modern Chromebook. Andrew Cunningham

How to build a PC: A step-by-step, comprehensive guide – Want to build a huge, hulking full tower PC with unrivaled top-of-the-line hardware? Go for it! (If you can convince your significant other to OK the expense, that is.) Or maybe you prefer a smaller PC you can tuck under your desk or next to your home entertainment center? That’s possible too, and you can customize your itty-bitty rig with no-compromise components or aim for a more affordable small-form-factor system that’s still capable of playing games just fine. When you’re building your own PC, the choice is yours.


The raw components may look like a mess, but turning them into a neat, clean build doesn’t take much extra time at all.

11 Reasons to Stop Looking at Your Phone – The science is in. Spending too much time staring down at your phone can inflict very real physical, social, and intellectual damage.

Get the Android Marshmallow Quick Start Guide free from the Play Store – Google just published its Quick Start Guide, a free eBook that anyone can grab from Google Play. The 62-page guide details the new features in Marshmallow, such as Google Now On Tap. It also has standard advice about how to connect your Google services, share content, and the latest accessibility features. You’ll need to have the Google Play Books app to read it on your phone or tablet.

20 New Ways Facebook Is Eating The Internet – Facebook never, ever, ever wants you to leave. That’s why it’s replicating features from other apps and pulling content like videos and news articles inside its app. The more time you spend on Facebook, the more it accomplishes its “open and connected” mission, and the more money it makes by showing you ads. Here’s 20 new ways it’s assimilating the Internet, in GIFs and photos.

Not always listening: Google removes Chrome’s instant voice search – One of the most useful hands free features in Google’s Chrome browser is gone: You’ll have to hit a button to do an “OK Google” voice search.

Facebook fixing the app that drains your iPhone’s battery – Assuming you’re an iPhone user who uses Facebook, chances are you’ve had some relatively sizable battery drain going on. The app has been discovered to be a large drain on iPhone users’ batteries, particularly those that are using iOS 9 as of this month. Reports from several sources suggest that Facebook’s app isn’t becoming inactive properly, thereby continuing to drain the device of power as it would when called upon to be active as normal. According to Facebook, this battery drain problem should be resolved soon.

iPhone 6S, 6S Plus land in fast-growing India market – Apple’s new iPhones will now battle for consumers in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone region. Starting Friday, the iPhone 6S is available in India with a starting price of 62,000 rupees ($955). The iPhone 6S Plus starts at 72,000 rupees ($1,109). The new iPhones kicked off with a midnight sale at an Apple Store in Mumbai. A late Thursday tweet by Apple CEO Tim Cook thanked “all our customers in India who queued at midnight for the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus!”


Malicious adware’s latest trick is replacing your whole browser – On Friday, infosec celebrity Swift on Security pointed out a new piece of adware called the “eFast Browser.” It does the kind of malicious crap that we’ve all seen quite often over the years: throwing pop-up and pop-under ads on your screen, putting other ads into your web pages, pushing you towards other websites with more malware, and (of course) tracking your movements on the web so that nefarious marketers can send more crap your way. But what’s nefariously intriguing about this software is that it isn’t trying to hijack your current browser, it’s straight-up replacing it. According to PCrisk, eFast and its ilk try to get on your computer by burrowing themselves into the installers for free software from dubious sources on the web. It should be relatively easy to avoid installing it and, fortunately, should also be relatively easy to uninstall if you’ve found it on your computer.

Report: Dow Jones suffered second, more serious hack – On October 9, Dow Jones revealed that it had been hacked and data belonging to about 3500 customers had been compromised as a result. According to a new report, a Russian hacking collective has breached Dow Jones in what appears to be a separate attack; the information comes from unnamed sources “familiar with the matter.” The hackers’ intent was to steal data for trading purposes, according to the sources. Three federal agencies are reportedly investigating the matter.

Flash’s latest critical vulnerability has been patched – Yesterday, Adobe issued a new security bulletin warning of a new vulnerability in Flash, this one affecting the latest version of the plugin. The vulnerability left Flash open to exploits through which hackers could gain access to a machine, or that could cause the computer to crash. As with some other recent Flash vulnerabilities, the issue affected Linux, Windows, and Mac users, spreading the risk all around.

Company News:

Appeals court rules that Google book scanning is fair use – It’s legal to scan books—even if you don’t own the copyright—the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit held today. The Authors’ Guild sued Google, saying that serving up search results from scanned books infringes on publishers’ copyrights, even though the search giant shows only restricted snippets of the work. The authors’ group said that Google’s book search isn’t transformative, that the snippets provide an illegal free substitute for their work, and that Google Books infringes their “derivative rights” in revenue they could gain from a “licensed search” market.

Court rules Uber’s app legal in London – London’s High Court ruled Friday that Uber’s app is not a fare meter and therefore does not break the law, a significant victory for the ride-hailing service facing legal challenges around the globe. Uber has long argued its GPS-reliant app isn’t the same thing as a “taximeter” that black cabs use to dictate the cost of a journey based on distance and wait time. Only licensed black cab and minicab drivers are permitted to use the meters to calculate fares in Britain’s capital.

University of Wisconsin-Madison wins $234 million from Apple in patent suit – A jury has decided that Apple must pay the University of Wisconsin-Madison $234 million for infringing one of its patents, Reuters reports. The final figure is much lower than the maximum damages set for the trial, and also lower than the $400 million the university had asked for, but it’s still one of the largest sums Apple has been ordered to pay in a patent trial. Apple is a big target for patent lawsuits, but cases are volatile and can drag on for many years through appeals. Earlier this year, for example, Apple lost a $532.9 million judgement to a patent licensing company, but the award was later voided. Even when Apple wins, its awards are not guaranteed. The company’s high-profile case against Samsung still isn’t over; in May, a federal court downsized Apple’s $930 million victory.

Steve Ballmer says he’s made investment in Twitter – The former Microsoft CEO opens a new, verified Twitter account and reveals he’s acquired a 4 percent ownership stake in the microblogging company. This would make him the third biggest investor in Twitter, with a greater stake than new Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who owns around 3 percent. The San Francisco-based microblogging company’s biggest shareholder is co-founder Evan Williams, who owns around 6.8 percent.

Tinder Owner Match Group Files To Go Public – Match Group, a spinoff of IAC that owns properties like Tinder and OKCupid, has filed to go public. The Dallas-based company is reporting trailing twelve months revenue of $1 billion ending June 30 this year, and revenue of $483.9 million for the first half of 2015. It had net earnings of $49 million in the first half of 2015, and trailing 12 month net earnings of $177.5 million. In 2014, it generated $888.3 million in revenue and $148.4 million in net earnings — so the company isn’t necessarily growing that quickly. The company says it has 59 million monthly active users, and about 4.7 million paid members, using its dating products as of the end of the third quarter this year.

Adobe to undo Lightroom change after customer wrath – It’s rare for major software companies to perform such abrupt U-turns, but Adobe decided to heed the advice of customers who didn’t like a significant new alteration.

Games and Entertainment:

Watch: Live-Action Fallout 4 Trailer – In preparation for next month’s launch of Fallout 4, Bethesda has released a live-action game trailer. With elements of the original computer-animated preview released in June, the new clip features a real Pip-Boy (personal information processor) wearing a Vault 111 jumpsuit, and his German Shepherd sidekick. In a post-apocalyptic world darkened by nuclear war, the pair wander a ravaged Boston, where survivors face angry zombies, armored soldiers, and the occasional android.


‘Minecraft: Story Mode’ Arrives on iOS, Android – Episode One of the new adventure game, dubbed The Order of the Stone, is now available for all platforms except Wii U. That includes PC, Mac, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, and iOS. Mojang says the Wii U version is coming at some point “later on.” Set in the world of Minecraft, Story Mode “is like a playable television show based on your favorite game, where YOU are the star, and your choices and actions decide how the story is told,” according to the game’s description.


Yoshi’s Woolly World reviewed: A warm, woolly platforming hug – Don’t let the cutesy visuals deceive you: Yoshi’s Woolly World is as challenging a platformer as anything to have come from Nintendo. This is a game that unashamedly plays on nostalgia, almost tricking you into thinking that maybe, just maybe, there’s not a lot new to see or do within its delightfully bright and fluffy world. And sure, some occasionally obtuse level design and frustrating checkpoints mean that it doesn’t quite reach the glorious heights of its genre-defining forebears. But even with its problems, Yoshi’s Woolly World is so cute, and so mechanically refined—in that way only Nintendo platformers can be—that it’s so very hard not to be taken in by its charms.


Tales from the Borderlands: Finale shown off in trailer – In a trailer released today, Telltale Games showed off Tales from the Borderlands – Finale: The Vault of the Traveler, the final installment of its game series. The game won’t be arriving for download until October 20, at which point it will drop for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, Mac OS X, and PC. The next day, October 21, it will be released for the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. Finally, on October 22, the game will be released for Android and iOS, covering the gamut of gaming devices.


Revisiting ‘Pirates of Silicon Valley’, the original Steve Jobs movie – This 1999 TV movie about the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft starred Noah Wyle as Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall as a calculating Bill Gates. Does it hold up today?


Noah Wyle is an uncanny Steve Jobs (left) and Anthony Michael Hall is a steely Bill Gates in 1999’s “Pirates of Silicon Valley”. Turner Network Television.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Online ad industry, battling ad blockers, admits it messed up – After years of stuffing Web pages with ads, Web surfers are increasingly blocking them with free tools. The Internet Advertising Bureau is calling for better practices to stop alienating Web users. From one perspective, it could be argued that the online advertising industry is getting what it deserves. After years of having Web pages stuffed with ads, surfers are increasingly blocking them with free tools. The other perspective is that ads, like them or not, pay people to create content, which other people like on the Web. Since finding paying subscribers is hard, ads are a key source of online revenue for publishers. In a frank post on Thursday, a senior executive of the largest online advertising trade group admitted that the surge in online ads over the years—and the accompanying performance issues—have alienated many.

Amazing shot of pollen-covered honeybee eye wins Nikon competition – The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition lets us see the world up close. This year’s winner turned his lens on the eye of a honeybee.


US government will reportedly require all drone purchases to be registered – The US government plans to make it a mandatory requirement that all drone purchases, including those made by consumers, be formally registered. NBC News reports that the Department of Transportation will announce the new plan on Monday, with hopes to have this drone registry implemented by the holidays, when drones will likely prove a popular gift. The Obama administration and DoT have yet to announce any such press conference for Monday.

Scoot Unleashes New Four-Wheeler Quad Cars On San Francisco Streets – Scoot, the San Francisco-based electric scooter ride share network, has teamed up with Nissan to create a four-wheeled two-seater enclosed vehicle onto the streets of San Francisco. Starting today, Scoot members have the option to rent one of these adorable little cars to get them anywhere in the 7×7. Known as the Scoot Quad, this is an all-electric vehicle that you can turn on with the push of your smartphone. Just 10 of these little vehicles are ready to hit the road – a paltry amount compared to the 400 some odd scooters in the network.


Usher releases an interactive video on Tidal targeting police brutality – In an effort to show the stark realities of police brutality, Usher has created a visual experience called “Don’t Look Away” that details multiple high-profile incidents of police abuse against minorities in recent years. Centered around Usher’s new single “Chains” featuring Nas and Bibi Bourelly, the video uses your webcam to automatically stop playing if you look away or switch tabs that show the details of the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, and others.


This cheap camera can see details the naked eye can’t – A team of researchers from both the University of Washington and Microsoft Research have managed to build a camera capable of hyperspectral imaging, or photography that can capture parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that humans can’t see with the naked eye, such as near-infrared light. This kind of technology isn’t new, but to find it in a camera means it’s going to be very, very expensive. But the researchers have managed to build it as a smartphone accessory that costs no more than $50.


Alan Turing: The man behind the myth – The nephew of Second World War codebreaker and father of computer science Alan Turing on what he discovered about his uncle when writing a new biography.

5 Thought Experiments That Will Melt Your Brain – Thought experiments help scientists find which questions they should be asking, even if they don’t yet have the tools to answer them. Many thought experiments delve into things like advanced physics principals (Schrödinger’s famous cat, for example), but there are also several which don’t require a PhD. Here are five mostly math-free thought experiments to melt your brain just a little (some of which science has caught up with, some of which still prompt debate). They may be fun to opine on, but keep in mind that these bits of rhetorical whimsy may have very real ramifications should science ever catch up.

Something to think about:

“A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.”

–    Mark Twain


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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How Much of Your Data Is Microsoft Sharing With the Feds? – What type of data is Microsoft handing over—or refusing to hand over—to law enforcement and the feds? Check it out for yourself on Redmond’s new Transparency Hub.

There you’ll find law enforcement requests, national security orders, and content removal demands; it currently has data covering the first six months of 2015.

Based on its analysis, the company said little has changed in the number of requests for customer data since the second half of last year: The total number of law enforcement requests grew from 31,002 to 35,228. But only 3 percent of those resulted in the disclosure of content.

“Microsoft does not disclose customer content without a court order or warrant,” the tech titan said, adding that the volume of requests rejected for not meeting legal requirements doubled to 4,383.

For the first time, Microsoft is publishing its content removal requests—most of which involve the removal of links from its Bing search engine.


Germany will make telcos share customer data with the police – Even as the European Union attempts to tighten privacy laws, law-enforcement interests have won a battle in Germany: A new law forces communications service providers there to once again make data about their customers’ communications available to police.

On Friday morning, the German parliament approved a law requiring ISPs and mobile and fixed telecommunications operators to retain communications metadata for up to ten weeks.

The country has had an on-again, off-again affair with telecommunications data retention, first introducing a law requiring it in 2008 to comply with a European Union directive.

The German Federal Constitutional Court overturned that law in March 2010 after finding it conflicted with Germany’s privacy laws, prompting the European Commission to take the country to court in May 2012 to enforce the directive.

Google, Facebook and peers criticize CISA bill ahead of Senate consideration – A trade group representing Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other tech and communications companies has come down heavily against the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, a controversial bill in the U.S. that is intended to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats with the government.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association claims that the mechanism CISA prescribes for the sharing of cyberthreat information does not adequately protect users’ privacy or put an appropriate limit on the permissible uses of information shared with the government.

The bill, in addition, “authorizes entities to employ network defense measures that might cause collateral harm to the systems of innocent third parties,” the CCIA said in a blog post Thursday.

CISA, which would give businesses immunity from customer lawsuits when they share cyberthreat data with the government, is due for consideration by the U.S. Senate in the coming weeks.

Critics of the bill are concerned that the provisions of the bill could be used by companies to hand over customers’ personal data to government intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency. Cyberthreat information-sharing may not have prevented several recent attacks on government agencies, according to experts.

A personal note:

If you are a Canadian, like me, please get out and vote today in the most important election in generations. It’s time to put a stop to the “Lost Decade” forced on this country by the criminal gang who refer to themselves as the Harper Government.


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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – October 19, 2015

  1. I think it’s crazy how much the police are getting involved. The internet just keeps expanding and new technology is making it harder to follow someone’s tracks.