Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – October 26, 2015

How to Avoid Having Your Posts Show Up in Facebook’s New Public Search;  How Much Data Tracking Is Acceptable in the Car?  The 59 Best Productivity Apps for 2015;  When Facebook Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself;  Amazon’s $50 Fire tablet reviewed: Surprisingly, it doesn’t suck;  10 Linux GUI tools for sysadmins;  11 times you should not be posting to Instagram;  Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast;  Apple being sued over iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature;  Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget;  Tech’s dirtiest little secret: Sometimes we agree to go backward;  Here’s How to Make Your Facebook App Stop Draining Your iPhone Battery;  Halo 5: Guardians Review: A Mediocre Story With Terrific Multiplayer;  UK Internet provider TalkTalk hit by ‘significant, sustained cyberattack’;  The 13 movie-streaming sites you probably don’t know about;  10 amazing microscopic GIFs;  FCC to turn the tables, publish telemarketers’ numbers.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Avoid Having Your Posts Show Up in Facebook’s New Public Search (There’s even a way to undo your past public transgressions) – Facebook is making all of the public posts on the social network easily searchable. The idea is to make it easier for people to follow conversations unfolding in real time, like on Twitter. But, luckily for those who don’t want to have their every thought be a contribution to the public town square, there’s an out. Just follow these steps:

How Much Data Tracking Is Acceptable in the Car? – We know—and mostly accept—that the trade-off for being constantly connected via computers and portable devices is that we’re also constantly being tracked by search engines, social media, and marketers. While there are ways to avoid such tracking, it’s a time-consuming chore for consumers to stay vigilant and keep up with the persistent changes to the privacy policies of websites and apps. As a result, most consumers see protecting online privacy as a mild annoyance and never do much, if anything, about it. But somehow people feel much more sensitive about being tracked when it comes to their cars, even when there’s a financial incentive.

The 59 Best Productivity Apps for 2015 – With the right productivity apps and services at your fingertips, you can increase your efficiency and get more done. People seem obsessed with productivity these days, but few actually think about what it is or what it means. To me, “productivity” is highly personal, but ultimately, it’s about achieving goals. It’s about making the most of your time so that you have time and energy left over to do more.

Your PC stuck in Windows 10 “reschedule or upgrade now” limbo? Here’s a fix – The fix comes in the form on an update to a third-party utility called GWX Control Panel, an excellent utility that has previously allowed users to opt out of and avoid the nags to upgrade to Windows 10.

Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget – What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck? That single, simple sentence cuts to the core of what people on the hunt for a new graphics card are looking for: The most oomph they can afford. Sure, graphics cards are complicated pieces of modern technology, powered by billions of transistors and countless other types of intricate hardware, but people just want to crank the detail settings on Far Cry and just plain play. Answering the question can be a bit trickier than it seems. Raw performance is a big part of it, but factors like noise, the driver experience, and supplemental software all play a role in determining which graphics card to buy, too.


PCWorld’s graphics card testing rig.

When Facebook Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself – Every time you log in to Facebook, every time you click on your News Feed, every time you Like a photo, every time you send anything via Messenger, you add another data point to the galaxy they already have regarding you and your behavior. That, in turn, is a tiny, insignificant dot within their vast universe of information about their billion-plus users. It is probable that Facebook boasts the broadest, deepest, and most comprehensive dataset of human information, interests, and activity ever collected. (Only the NSA knows for sure.) Google probably has more raw data, between Android and searches–but the data they collect is (mostly) much less personal. Of all the Stacks, I think it’s fair to say, Facebook almost certainly knows you best.


CloudReady has a Chrome OS platform ready for your non-chromebook hardware – If you’re looking to get Chrome OS on non-chromebook hardware, Neverware has just the solution for you. Jack Wallen shows you how to get this exciting, Linux-based, operating system up and running.


Back in the world of Chrome OS, only running on standard hardware –  Image: Jack Wallen

10 Linux GUI tools for sysadmins – If you’re a system administrator, it’s reached a point where Linux has become a must-know. This is especially true when you’re working in a larger environment. Many organizations have migrated from Windows, where everything is managed with a point-and-click GUI. Fortunately, Linux has plenty of GUI tools that can help you avoid the command line (although every serious sysadmin should become familiar with the commands). What are some good GUI tools that can simplify your Linux sysadmin tasks? Let’s take a look at 10 of them.

11 times you should not be posting to Instagram – A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. We were catching up, when our food came. It looked delicious. I picked up my fork to dig in, when my friend reached out her arm to stop me. “No!” She practically yelled in my ear. “First, let me Instagram it!” Excuse me? I was so shocked that I just stared at her as she took 48 photos from different angles before lowering her arm and oh-so-generously allowing me to partake in my now slightly-cold meal.


When you’re driving

Twitter Moments, now with a side dish of advertisements – Twitter introduced a new feature call “Moments” on October 6, and now, less than a month later, the service has announced that it will be adding advertisements to Moments. They’ll be called “Promoted Moments”, and they’ll kick off starting tomorrow with ads for the movie Creed. These Promoted Moments are akin to Promoted Tweets, and are the latest way by which Twitter is looking to get advertisers on board with its platform.

Amazon’s $50 Fire tablet reviewed: Surprisingly, it doesn’t suck – Amazon’s new Fire tablet is, remarkably, even cheaper than the competition, and sacrifices little despite its low price. At £50 ($50) it’s one of the cheapest tablets you can buy from a big-brand manufacturer, and it’s perfectly capable and pleasant to use. Oh sure, it’s not exactly what you’d call a looker, the low resolution display is merely adequate, and you won’t be able to run all of your favourite Android apps without a little work thanks to Fire OS, Amazon’s forked version of Android that lacks the Play Store. But if you end up with one of these in your Christmas stocking—and I expect that’s where a lot of these will end up—you should thank Santa, rather than curse him for not bringing you a PS4.


Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast – Of course we had to pit the Surface Book vs. the MacBook Pro. It’s like Ford vs. Chevy, or Coke vs. Pepsi. Each side has its diehard fans, plus others who just want to know which is better. Microsoft claims its new Surface Book is “twice” as fast as its equivalent MacBook Pro. Well, we ran some benchmarks, and hate to say it, but Microsoft lied. The Surface Book isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast. Read on for the details.

BlackBerry’s first Android phone ships November 6th for $699 – The device is being sold in the US, UK, and Canada, with pricing at $699, £559, and CA$899, respectively. In the US and Canada, the device starts shipping November 6th, and in the UK the Priv will ship “starting the week of November 9.” The Priv has a 5.43-inch 1440p AMOLED display with curved edges on the left and right of the screen. Internally, there’s a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a non-removable (and massive) 3410mAh battery. There’s also an 18MP rear camera with OIS and phase detect auto focus, and a 2MP front camera. For a carrier, it looks like you’ll need a GSM provider as Blackberry says the device is “Not compatible on Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular.”


Facebook At Work Signs Up Its Biggest Business Yet: 100,000 Workers At The Royal Bank Of Scotland – After months of pilots, Facebook today is announcing its biggest customer yet: the Royal Bank of Scotland, which plans to have 30,000 workers on its FB@Work network by March of next year, and its entire workforce of 100,000 using the platform by the end of 2016. The deal signals a new phase for Facebook at Work. It demonstrates Facebook’s ambitions to scale this B2B service just as it has its consumer product (which now has 1.5 billion monthly active users on desktop, 1.3 billion on mobile). And it demonstrates how enterprises are taking Facebook’s effort seriously.


Tech’s dirtiest little secret: Sometimes we agree to go backward – The technology world talks incessantly about progress, but even with some of the best products we sacrifice great features in the name of progress. Here’s why, and some big examples.

Here’s How to Make Your Facebook App Stop Draining Your iPhone Battery – Facebook has released an update to the iOS version of its app that should make the social network less of a battery hog. Earlier this month various users pointed out that Facebook’s app was consuming considerably more battery power than most other popular apps, even when it wasn’t actually being used more. The fixed version of the app is available in the App Store now.


12 new malware strains discovered each minute – G DATA researchers discovered a 64.8 percent spike of new malware strains as compared to the first half of 2014. This averages out to 12 new strains per minute. In all, the total number of malware strains this year is expected to be well above the level of 2014, with the U.S., China and France hosting the most malicious and fraudulent websites.


Microsoft doesn’t see Windows 10’s mandatory data collection as a privacy risk – In the run-up to the launch of Windows 10 earlier this year, users noticed that Microsoft’s operating system would be collecting more data on them by default than it had in the past, including information about their location and what they’re typing, and sending it off to Microsoft. Understandably, some folks were concerned about the privacy implications of such a move, especially given disclosures around government surveillance, and the fact that Microsoft previously hadn’t built this kind of data collection into its operating system. Those concerns weren’t helped by Microsoft, which was slow to clarify exactly what it takes from users and how to disable much of that collection.

UK Internet provider TalkTalk hit by ‘significant, sustained cyberattack’ – UK phone and broadband provider TalkTalk may have once again left its customers exposed to hackers. TalkTalk warned its 4 million customers on Thursday that attackers could have gained access to their names, addresses, credit card and bank details, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses and TalkTalk account information. This is the latest chapter in an increasingly familiar story of an sophisticated attacks on companies ranging from Target to Home Depot and Carphone Warehouse. For TalkTalk, it’s the second hack in the past 12 months, following an incident last December. Even when customers aren’t directly affected, they could see costs increase because the severity of attacks can drive up the cost of cybertheft insurance.

Joomla patches serious SQLi flaw – Joomla, a popular content management system, released patches on Thursday for a vulnerability that can allow an attacker to get full administrative access to a website. Joomla versions 3.2 through 3.4.4 are vulnerable, and the latest version is 3.4.5. The SQL injection flaw was found by Asaf Orphani, a researcher with Trustwave’s SpiderLabs, and Netanel Rubin of PerimeterX. SQL injection flaws occur when a backend database executes a malicious query when it shouldn’t. The type of vulnerability is one of the most prevalent ones within web applications.

Valuing A Data Breach Victim – In the relentless world of public breach reporting, there’s a fixation on the number of accounts affected; the higher the number, the larger the impact. But from a victim’s perspective, does it make a difference if your information was included in a breach alongside 10,000 or 50,000,000 others? From a criminal ecosystem perspective, the number of victims per successful breach is largely irrelevant. Apart from the original hackers, where obtaining a million records is more efficient than just a thousand and, consequently, where basic multipliers are at play, the rest of the cybercrime world is oriented toward timeliness and completeness of the stolen data.

Company News:

Bing finally shows a profit – Microsoft said Thursday in its fiscal first quarter earnings call that Bing had achieved profitability. Search contributed more than $1 billion to Microsoft’s first quarter that ended September 30, said Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood. More interestingly, nearly 20 percent of Microsoft’s search revenue in September was driven by Windows 10 devices, executives said. By building Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant powered by Bing, directly into Windows 10, Microsoft is automatically increasing the number of Bing searches.

Apple being sued over iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature – We should have probably seen this coming a mile away, especially considering how people love suing Apple for almost every consumer misstep it makes. The latest class action suit filed against it by William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips on behalf of all other disgruntled iPhone and iPad users relates to the new Wi-Fi Assist feature added and enabled by default on iOS 9. The feature, which silently uses cellular data when Wi-Fi quality is poor, has allegedly caused the plaintiffs more than $5 million in data charges.

Judge: Pintrips Doesn’t Infringe Pinterest Trademarks – A pin, is a pin, is a pin, right? The company Pintrips, which runs a little Web and mobile app that allows you to save flights from travel sites by “pinning” the ones you’re most interested in to a (digital) personal trip board, certainly hopes so. It was sued by Pinterest, the much larger pin-themed social network, back in 2013 for alleged misuse of Pinterest’s trademark. U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, however, ruled in Pintrips’s favor for every issue Pinterest raised. According to him, the act of “pinning” is a pretty universal action anyone can undertake—Pinterest doesn’t own, and can’t own, the concept of pinning one thing to another.

Pandora Loses More Than A Third Of Its Value As It Battles Apple Music For Listeners – Shares of online radio service Pandora tanked about 36 percent on Friday. The sharp decline comes after the company reported a loss of almost $86 million yesterday. The call was the company’s first report on earnings after the June 30 launch of Apple Music, and Friday’s dive shows investors were not pleased with how the Oakland, California, company stacked up against the fledgling streaming service. Pandora’s loss comes as Apple says its music service has gained 6.5 million paid subscribers, and 8.3 million people are still using the free three-month trial.

Toshiba to sell image sensor operations to Sony: Reports – Toshiba is reportedly preparing to sell its image sensor operations to Sony in a deal estimated at around $165 million. The move would mark Toshiba’s effective withdrawal from producing image sensors used for smartphones and other devices, Kyodo News said. The step comes as the Japanese engineering conglomerate attempts to restructure itself after a damaging billion-dollar accounting scandal. The reported deal, estimated around 20 billion yen, could include sales of production facilities in southern Japan and lay-offs of thousands of workers, the Yomiuri Shimbun said. The move could give Sony a firmer position as global leader in image sensors used in smartphones and other camera-equipped electronics, the Nikkei business daily said. Sony is used as a supplier for image sensors in Apple iPhones.

Games and Entertainment:

Halo 5: Guardians Review: A Mediocre Story With Terrific Multiplayer – The games—mostly first-person shooters staged in the 26th century that star a super-soldier battling theocratic aliens—have sold north of 65 million copies. Altogether that makes Halo Microsoft’s second-bestselling video gaming franchise, just shy of phenom Minecraft, which it purchased last November. Halo 5 is also the first new installment for Microsoft’s Xbox One console, which arrived in tandem with Sony’s PlayStation 4 two years ago, but hasn’t kept pace. The game’s forever-visored paragon, the Master Chief, is basically Microsoft’s Mario, and Microsoft needs a win.


Microsoft sets sights on gamers with low-end Surface Book – This new version of the most basic Surface Book laptop, spotted Thursday by TechRadar, adds a separate Nvidia GeForce graphics chip rather than relying on graphics tech integrated directly into the model’s Intel Core i5 processor. Separate graphics chips cost extra but help endow video games with lavish landscapes and snappy performance. Until now, the GeForce option was available only on higher-end Surface Book models. This low-end, gamer-friendly Surface Book, which includes 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, costs $1,699 (£1,100 or AU$2,350). That’s $200 more than the same model without the GeForce chip.

Xbox beta app for Windows 10 gains new social features – On Friday, Microsoft announced a handful of new features for the beta app, including some bolstered social sharing tools. Highlights include a new Facebook friend finder feature that looks through your Facebook friends for any with Xbox Live accounts and lets you add them as  Xbox Live friends. The idea here is to make it easier to find people to play with. All you have to do is go to the app’s settings and link your Facebook account with your Xbox Live account.


Assassin’s Creed Syndicate review: Something old, something new – There’s no denying that Victorian London is a popular video game locale. In fact, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is just the latest of multiple titles set in the period that were released in this year alone. It’s fitting that Syndicate explores such well-worn territory, as many of its gameplay mechanics are borrowed from other games or previous entries in Ubisoft’s flagship series. But while it’s hard to shake the feeling of having seen it all before—of having played it before—the lack of innovation in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is easily forgiven when you’re having so much fun.


The 13 movie-streaming sites you probably don’t know about – Netflix has now become its own verb (we netflixed that last night), and everyone knows about Amazon and Vudu. Even Hulu has become a force to be reckoned with. But those are not the only options for streaming movies and other content. We searched the web for other services that show everything from mainstream releases to off-the-wall material, sometimes without costing a penny. Note: You’ll encounter dozens of shady-but-free sites on the web offering large collections of movies (including films that are still in theaters). The services listed here are all legitimate and legal.

Brave Enough to Watch These 14 Blood Curdling Streams!? – Here are 14 terrifying films you can stream to your TV or device and which will scar your soul for life! (Some picks for wimps too!)


19 questions you might be asking after seeing ‘Steve Jobs’ – You’ve just seen “Steve Jobs”, the new movie about the life and times of Apple’s divisive co-founder. The filmmakers have said the movie is a “painting, rather than a photograph”. So, how much is real and how much is made up? The movie is based on Walter Isaacson’s in-depth Jobs biography and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s meetings with key figures in Jobs’ life. Despite depicting many real people and events, the movie plays fast and loose with the details. Here are answers to some questions you might be left with after watching “Steve Jobs”.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Keep up with the latest in drones: 9 Twitter accounts to follow – As drones become part of business, a host of questions have emerged about where and how they can be used and regulated. Follow these nine Twitter accounts for the latest in drone news.


Photos By Drones –  Image: Twitter

Fallout Beer may be the strangest Fallout 4 tie-in yet – Bethesda has teamed up with Carlsberg UK to create a “light coloured pilsner lager, with a refreshing zesty hoppy taste and a floral aroma.” With so many names to choose from, we can only wonder how they came up with “Fallout Beer” for this Wasteland tie-in product. The beer in Fallout was called “Gamma Gulp” for a couple of games, which would have been a nice throwback. But I guess it’s better than just calling it “beer” as they have in the last couple of games.


A brief history of Popcorn Time, the piracy service everyone’s watching – Most of us think of Netflix when we think of streaming movies and TV shows, but over the past year and a half, a competitor has emerged: one that’s almost as easy to use, doesn’t charge a thing, and — you guessed it — steals everything it streams. That new service is called Popcorn Time, and it’s become known as the “Netflix for pirates.” What’s going on behind the scenes, however, is a lot more complex, not to mention illegal in much of the world. To get all of those movies, Popcorn Time reaches out to groups of people sharing films and TV shows over torrent networks. It then begins to download the video you want to stream and at the same time shares that video with other people. This means when you click play, you’re both downloading pirated content and sharing it with others.


This 11-year-old is selling cryptographically secure passwords for $2 each – We now live in a world where a New York City sixth grader is making money selling strong passwords. Earlier this month, Mira Modi, 11, began a small business at, where she generates six-word Diceware passphrases by hand. Diceware is a well-known decades-old system for coming up with passwords. It involves rolling actual six-sided dice as a way to generate truly random numbers that are matched to a long list of English words. Those words are then combined into a non-sensical string (“ample banal bias delta gist latex”) that exhibits true randomness and is therefore difficult to crack. The trick, though, is that these passphrases prove relatively easy for humans to memorize.


10 amazing microscopic GIFs – No matter how good your eyesight is, you’re missing a lot as you scan the world. There are invisibly small things that can be both fascinating and disturbing, but you can also get a different perspective on the expected and mundane elements of life. So here are 10 GIFs of the world at high magnification.


Face mite – Bad news, everyone. You have face mites.

FCC to turn the tables, publish telemarketers’ numbers – Telemarketers and robocallers aren’t as big of a problem as they used to be, but they’re still around, and they’re still managing to call just as you sit down for dinner. The FCC has served on the front lines in the battle against them, and now it is planning to turn the tables, so to speak, and put telemarketers on the defense. The Commission has revealed plans to publish such spammers’ phone numbers, making it easy to blacklist them. In a report published on Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission revealed it will publish weekly data on telemarketers and robocallers derived via complaints from the public. Among the data will be the number with which the spammer or unsolicited company calls, with the idea being that developers and others can use the data for aiding consumers in blacklisting the numbers.

Prison phone companies fight for right to charge inmates $14 a minute – The Federal Communications Commission is about to face another lawsuit, this time over a vote to cap the prices prisoners pay for phone calls. Yesterday’s vote came after complaints that inmate-calling companies are overcharging prisoners, their families, and attorneys. Saying the price of calls sometimes hits $14 per minute, the FCC has now capped rates at 11¢ per minute. Those are the kinds of prices that the two major inmate calling companies, Global Tel*Link (GTL) and Securus Technologies, want to keep charging. Both vowed to take the FCC to court over the decision.

Something to think about:

“Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions.”

–     Evan Esar     (1899 – 1995), Esar’s Comic Dictionary


Stellarium – Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.

It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.



default catalogue of over 600,000 stars

extra catalogues with more than 210 million stars

asterisms and illustrations of the constellations

constellations for 20+ different cultures

images of nebulae (full Messier catalogue)

realistic Milky Way

very realistic atmosphere, sunrise and sunset

the planets and their satellites


a powerful zoom

time control

multilingual interface

fisheye projection for planetarium domes

spheric mirror projection for your own low-cost dome

all new graphical interface and extensive keyboard control

telescope control


equatorial and azimuthal grids

star twinkling

shooting stars

eclipse simulation

supernovae simulation

skinnable landscapes, now with spheric panorama projection


plugin system adding artifical satellites, ocular simulation, telescope configuration and more

ability to add new solar system objects from online resources…

add your own deep sky objects, landscapes, constellation images, scripts…


OpenedFilesView v1.61 – View opened/locked files in your system (sharing violation issues) – OpenedFilesView displays the list of all opened files on your system. For each opened file, additional information is displayed: handle value, read/write/delete access, file position, the process that opened the file, and more…

Optionally, you can also close one or more opened files, or close the process that opened these files.

This utility is especially useful if you try to delete/move/open a file and you get one of the following error messages:

Cannot delete [filename]: There has been a sharing violation. The source or destination file may be in use.

Cannot delete [filename]: It is being used by another person or program. Close any programs that might be using the file and try again.

When you get one of these error messages, OpenedFilesView will show you which process lock your file. Closing the right process will solve this problem. optionally, you can also release the file by closing the handle from OpenedFilesView utility. However, be aware that after closing a file in this way, the program that opened the file may become unstable, and even crash.

System Requirements: This utility works properly on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003/2008, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10. On 64-bit systems, you have to use the 64-bit version of OpenedFilesView. Older versions of Windows (NT/9x/ME) are not supported. Also, you must have administrative privilege in order to run this utility.

Known Issue: If you try to run the 64-bit verion of this tool directly from a zip file, you may get the following error message:

The application was unable to start correctly (0xc000007b). Click OK to close the application.

In order to solve this issue, you have to manually extract the content of the zip file into a folder, and then run it from there.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA dodges another lawsuit because nobody can prove agency is spying on them – Plaintiffs are having trouble taking down the NSA in court for a simple reason: they can’t prove that the spy agency’s wide-reaching surveillance programs actually targeted them. Judges in several courts — including the Supreme Court — have repeatedly ruled that it is not enough to assume that these programs were highly likely to have caught a certain organization’s data in its dragnet.

The latest case to fall victim to this line of reasoning is a case brought forward by the ACLU, Wikimedia, The Nation, Amnesty International, and a few other organizations. In a court’s ruling, US District Judge TS Ellis III writes that the “plaintiffs’ argument is unpersuasive, as the statistical analysis on which the argument rests is incomplete and riddled with assumptions.” He continues on to note that, without the proper context, it’s unclear whether or not Wikipedia is large enough to have come under the NSA’s policies — despite the fact that it’s one of the largest sites on the internet.

The judge ultimately decided that the case rested on “the subjective fear of surveillance,” noting that the plaintiffs “have not alleged facts that plausibly establish that the NSA is using Upstream surveillance to copy all or substantially all communications passing through those chokepoints.” He added, “In this regard, plaintiffs can only speculate.” Since the 2013 Supreme Court case Clapper v. Amnesty International sided with the NSA on just those same grounds in a 5–4 decision, the US District Court also decided to follow that precedent and dismissed the case.

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