Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 2, 2015

Fix Windows 10 issues with FixWin for Windows 10;  Five ways Microsoft plans to get you to upgrade to Windows 10;  10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps;  14 Cool Smartphone Camera Tricks You Should Know;  Talk With Your Colleagues Anonymously, With Blind;  10 Apps to Download on Your New Apple TV Right Now;  Three desktop tools for ultra-private encrypted chats;  18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try;  Leaving Laptops in Hotel Rooms: A Bad Idea;  Apple’s Giant iPad Pro Is Coming on November 11;  Hi-Rez Studios releases 21 years of Tribes games for free;  Amazon To Exit Daily Deals With Closure Of Amazon Local;  Stitch Is A Social Network For Seniors;  Research says your cat might be thinking about killing you? Really?  Nimble Jump is the new Flappy Bird;  How a group of neighbors created their own Internet service;  AIDA64 for Mobile devices (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Five ways Microsoft plans to get you to upgrade to Windows 10 – Microsoft wants Windows 10 on one billion devices by 2018 – and its tactics for hitting that ambitious goal are about to get more aggressive. From next year, Microsoft will be more direct in pushing Windows 7 and 8.1 users to upgrade to its latest OS, in an attempt to bolster the 110 million-strong Windows 10 userbase. Here’s how Microsoft is about to crank up the pressure to make the switch.

Fix Windows 10 issues with FixWin for Windows 10 – Got some Windows 10 related headaches that you’re trying to fix? FixWin for Windows 10 by The Windows Club might be able to help. FixWin 10 is an update to the popular FixWin application that brings with it a raft of Windows 10 specific repair options to the application. Getting started with FixWin 10 is easy – you just download the file, extract it, and you’re ready to go, with no installation required. Here are the common Windows 10 related issues this application can fix:

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps – 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.

14 Cool Smartphone Camera Tricks You Should Know – Right now, people are walking around with super powerful digital cameras in their pockets, allowing them to beam their POV to the rest of the world instantaneously—all super hivemind style, language barriers be damned. That’s kind of amazing if you think about it. For its part, the public has enthusiastically shrugged off any privacy concerns it may have once had and learned to embrace mobile photography. And gadget makers have responded with better and ever more capable digital cameras. Chances are, you’re not even taking advantage of all the cool things your phone’s camera can do. Check out our slideshow for 14 truly amazing (as well as a few ridiculous) smartphone camera tricks.

Pew survey shows 68 percent of US adults now own a smartphone – According to the survey, 68 percent of adults in the United States currently own a smartphone, up from 35 percent four years ago. Meanwhile, 45 percent own some form of tablet, up from three percent in 2010. Pew’s data shows that desktop and laptop ownership has remained more or less flat over the last decade. According to Pew, 73 percent of survey respondents currently own a desktop or laptop, compared to 71 percent in 2004. Traditional PC ownership trended slightly upward until the early part of this decade before tailing off somewhat the last two or three years.

Apple’s Giant iPad Pro Is Coming on November 11, Report Says – Apple is positioning the iPad Pro as the company’s most powerful iOS device yet. It runs on a new processor made by Apple that’s said to be nearly twice as fast as the chip inside the iPad Air 2. The device also works with a new accessory called the Apple Pencil, which is a pressure sensitive stylus Apple made just for its large-sized iPad. Pricing starts at $799 for the entry level model.


iPad Pro featuring a 12.9-inch Retina Display and Apple Pencil

Forget Self-Destructing Messages, Buzz’s New App Offers Self-Destructing Connections – Today, there are a variety of apps to choose from if you just want to privately chat with friends or even place phone calls without having to give out your real phone number – for example, Google Voice, Burner, kik, Viber, Whatsapp and others are popular choices. But these apps aren’t fully private. Users still have to provide a phone number or email when creating an account, or, in some cases, those you chat with can still find you at any time via your permanent user name. A newly launched app called Buzz has a different idea – instead of offering self-destructing messages, Buzz’s focus is on self-destructing connections. That is, the connections you make on Buzz will automatically expire after 72 hours, unless both parties choose to continue chatting.

Google’s ‘Who’s Down’ makes it easier to hang out in person – When you’re not hanging out in Hangouts, Google wants to make it easier to find friends for hanging out in real life via its new “Who’s Down” mobile app. The app, which has been dropped in the Google Play Store, is currently open to those who have an invitation. If it manages to catch on in any significant way, though, it’ll one day be an option for quickly seeing which friends are available for getting together, and which friends aren’t, no typed response necessary.


Talk With Your Colleagues Anonymously, With Blind – Tired of being monitored by your company while wanting to dish with colleagues about said company? Or maybe you’re curious about what people with similar work experience are making at other companies. Blind, a two-year-old app founded in South Korea and newly available in the U.S., may be just the thing for you. Its big idea: bringing anonymity to the workplace so you can “share the real you” with other employees. If you happen to figure out what’s really happening in the upper echelons of the company, so much the better.


How to upgrade from pirated Windows to legitimate Windows 10 – Pirates, Microsoft wants you to come clean. While we wait for the ‘one-click upgrade’ that’s coming soon, here’s how to do it now.

10 Apps to Download on Your New Apple TV Right Now – The 2015 Apple TV is still new, so apps are likely to become even more useful and polished over time. And yet, a significant number of developers have created apps and games specifically designed for the new gadget. Besides the standard cord-cutting apps, here are a few picks from the new App Store that are definitely worth checking out first:

18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try – Regardless of how you feel about it, Google Maps (and its cousin Google Earth) remain powerful and versatile tools—and most of us are only scratching at the surface of what they have to offer. (And we’re just talking about the Web version, the mobile incarnations are a whole other bag of magic.) Here, we present 18 cool things you didn’t know Google Maps could do. Click on through and experience just a little bit of the power of the everyday.


Three desktop tools for ultra-private encrypted chats – Many people like the idea of increasing their privacy with encryption and anonymity tools for sharing files, web browsing and messaging. The trouble is finding tools for the job that aren’t overly complex. Today’s tip will take a look at how easily you can use current privacy tools to chat with your friends in privacy and security.

Leaving Laptops in Hotel Rooms: A Bad Idea – A laptop filled with data? An external HDD filled with even more data? There’s bound to be a phone – possibly two if you spend a lot of time in one location overseas and don’t / can’t switch SIMs in your main one. They probably have a fair bit of info on them, especially if your phone doubles as a camera. A tablet for when you’re on the plane? That isn’t uncommon. The big question is: what do you do with them once you arrive at your destination? Most people tend to keep essentials like phones and cameras in their pocket, but all those other things like the 15″ laptop and the tablet? Into the safe they go. That’s the theory, anyway. The reality is a bit different.

Third arrest made in TalkTalk breach – Police in England made a third arrest in the alleged theft of millions of digital records from communications company TalkTalk, taking a 20-year-old man into custody. Previously a 15-year-old boy from Ireland and a 16-year-old boy from London were arrested in the case. Both of those boys were released on bail. On Sunday (GMT), the 20-year-old was arrested in the county of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands of England, by Metropolitan Police on suspicion of violating the Computer Misuse Act. The other two arrested in the case face the same suspicion under the same offense.

Company News:

Amazon To Exit Daily Deals With Closure Of Amazon Local – Amazon is exiting the daily deals space. According to a message now being displayed on the Amazon Local homepage, the company’s deals platform is closing up shop on December 18, 2015. At that point, Amazon will stop selling deals via the website and in the Amazon Local mobile app. Customers who have already bought deals, however, will still be able to use them, the company notes. The shutdown is not surprising, given the downturn occurring in the once-buzzy daily deals market.


Apple posts huge gains in its $25 billion enterprise business – On the back of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, 2015 was the biggest year in Apple’s history by a huge margin. In fiscal 2015, the company generated $53.4 billion in net income on $233.7 billion in sales. Year-over-year, Apple’s sales and net income jumped 28% and 38%, respectively. That’s big growth and a nice chunk of that came from Apple’s enterprise sales. On the quarterly earnings call with analysts, Tim Cook revealed that enterprise markets contributed around $25 billion to Apple’s bottom line, up 40% from the prior year. That’s outpacing Apple’s overall corporate revenue growth significantly.

Baidu 3Q revenue climbs to $2.8bn, but profits dip to $395m – Baidu has reported a 36 percent increase in its third quarter revenue of 18.38 billion yuan (US$2.89 billion) over the same quarter last year, with mobile now accounting for a bulk of its business. For the quarter ended September 30, 2015, the Chinese search giant saw its mobile search monthly active users grow 26 percent year-on-year to 643 million, while the user base for its mobile maps grew 34 percent to 326 million. Mobile revenue accounted for 54 percent of its total revenue in the third quarter, up from 37 percent in the same quarter last year.

Panasonic bringing light and portable power to those without – The Japanese electronics giant has designed a power system for the electricity-deprived regions of the world, which it intends to ship throughout Asia and Africa by the year’s end.

Games and Entertainment:

The History Of Gaming: An Evolving Community – Since its commercial birth in the 1950s as a technological oddity at a science fair, gaming has blossomed into one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world. The mobile technology boom in recent years has revolutionized the industry and opened the doors to a new generation of gamers. Indeed, gaming has become so integrated with modern popular culture that now even grandmas know what Angry Birds is, and more than 42 percent of Americans are gamers and four out of five U.S. households have a console.


The Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. It  preceded Atari by a few months, which is often mistakenly thought of as the first games console.

Pointing up   Bought this in 1973 at a cost of $275 ($1,520 in 2015 dollars). Crude as it was, I found it incredibly exciting.

Nimble Jump is the new Flappy Bird – The game Nimble Jump is pixely, cute, and entirely addicting. It’s also difficult to play, but extremely enjoyable at the same time. Out for both iOS and Android – the latter released just recently, the former earlier this year, this game is prepared to take on both of the big mobile ecosystems at once. You’ll begin with a character that’s chosen for you, leaping from one wall to the other to avoid saws, then you’ll be given the opportunity to create your own character on a pixel grid. From there, you’ll never stop.


Wild: A game of animal survival that stretches off into infinity – If Sony’s PlayStation 4 lineup is anything to go by, 2016 will be the year games go to infinity. The headline grabber is No Man’s Sky, of course, but for those not keen on space travel, there’s another option that’s also crazily ambitious. Wild is many things—an adventure game, a survival game, a riding on the back of a bear and skidding his bum along the side of a mountain game—and, like No Man’s Sky, it’s a game of infinite exploration. The idea, at least for now, is that players—taking on the role of a shaman—must simply survive. As day turns to night, the world of Wild becomes nasty, and those without shelter or means of protection will succumb to the animals that roam at night.


Hi-Rez Studios releases 21 years of Tribes games for free – To celebrate more than 20 years of games, Hi-Rez Studios has decided to thank fans of the Tribes franchise by releasing the entire back catalog for free. This includes not only the Tribes titles, but the original Earthsiege games as well. What’s more, they have announced that after putting it on hiatus, the studio is back working on Tribes: Ascend. If you want to get your hands on the older Tribes games, hit up All of the games are there, ready to be downloaded with just a couple of clicks.

Warner Bros. Offers More Refunds for Batman: Arkham Knight on PC – Guess what’s still broken, even thought it was supposed to have been fixed up by the time sales resumed again?

Off Topic (Sort of):

5 dead operating systems, and what their ghosts can tell us – We conduct a séance of sorts to call forth the souls of operating systems past—not so we can gaze upon their ghastly interfaces, but to learn from their tragic demises. What happened to OS/2? Why won’t Windows XP users give up? Find the answers here.

The future is the Internet of Things—deal with it – IoT is about to explode, perhaps literally, if privacy and security issues aren’t fixed.


Stitch Is A Social Network For Seniors – The winner of a recent TC Radio Pitch-Off contest, Stitch is a social network designed for those over 50 years old. Headquartered in Australia, the site is designed to help members find friends, romantic companionship, or just new activities to try. Marcie Rogo, cofounder of Stitch, explained that “many older adults have lots of things they want to do, but nobody to do them with. Stitch meets this need with a unique and vibrant social network with the ability to meet other like-minded people through member-driven group activities, travel, and one-on-one companionship”. This means that unlike dating sites, many Stitch members host group events like wine tastings or trivia nights. There are now 20,000 active members, and over 50 actives Stitch communities.

How a group of neighbors created their own Internet service – When you live somewhere with slow and unreliable Internet access, it usually seems like there’s nothing to do but complain. And that’s exactly what residents of Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands in Washington state, were doing in late 2013. Faced with a local ISP that couldn’t provide modern broadband, Orcas Island residents designed their own network and built it themselves. The nonprofit Doe Bay Internet Users Association (DBIUA), founded by Sutton, Brems, and a few friends, now provide Internet service to a portion of the island. It’s a wireless network with radios installed on trees and houses in the Doe Bay portion of Orcas Island. Those radios get signals from radios on top of a water tower, which in turn receive a signal from a microwave tower across the water in Mount Vernon, Washington.


Volvo is testing kangaroo avoidance technology for Australian drivers – Stateside, as large mammals go, deer are probably the single biggest threat to cars traveling the highways. Now, imagine a smaller, “very unpredictable” deer that hops on two legs: that’s the hell of driving in Australia, where some 20,000 kangaroo collisions are said to happen annually. Volvo is trying to tackle the problem using radar and cameras to sense them along the road ahead and automatically brake as necessary. Similar technology already exists for other creatures — including human pedestrians — but ‘roos are trickier. A Volvo engineer quoted in the company’s release puts its best, largely because he references both moose and reindeer: “In Sweden we have done research involving larger, slower moving animals like moose, reindeer and cows which are a serious threat on our roads. Kangaroos are smaller than these animals and their behaviour is more erratic. This is why it’s important that we test and calibrate our technology on real kangaroos in their natural environment,” he says.

volvo kangaroo

Research says your cat might be thinking about killing you? Really? – Last year, a wise anthrozoologist declared that your feline thinks you’re just one big, stupid cat. Earlier this year, researchers in the UK said cats really don’t need their owners at all. And now this. Some have interpreted a study from the Bronx Zoo and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland as saying that your cat might be trying to bump you off. Yes, kill you, eat you, that sort of thing.

UK police to test crime reporting over Skype – Video chat platform/app Skype has long been replacing the way people contact each other, from personal calls across the globe to teleconferencing in business environments. Now it may finally find a place in contacting law enforcement. The police in the UK city of Peterborough have revealed a trial program where crime reports and follow-up interviews can done over Skype. Now, this isn’t for emergency calls to police, like in the event of an attack or serious injury, but rather for those time when an officer would to someone’s home to discuss something less serious.

Something to think about:

“It is well to give when asked but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.”

–     Kahlil Gibran    (1883 – 1931)


AIDA64 for Mobile devices: For users who want to know everything about the innards of their gadgets – To mark the 20th anniversary of AIDA64, FinalWire rolled out 3 new mobile apps this year. With the new apps, users of smartphones, tablets, TV devices and smartwatches, running Android, iOS or Windows Phone can learn everything about both the hardware and the software under the hood. AIDA64 mobile apps have clean user interfaces, optimized for the supported device categories, which makes them easy to handle even for users unfamiliar with the PC editions of the AIDA64 system information tool.

Features of AIDA64 mobile apps include:

CPU and GPU detection

Screen dimensions, pixel density and camera information

Battery level and state monitoring

Wi-Fi and cellular network information

Operating system properties

SoC and device model identification

Memory and storage utilization

Sensor polling

Screen Shots

System Requirements:

AIDA64 for Android: Android 2.1 or later

AIDA64 for iOS: iPhone 4 and iOS7 or later

AIDA64 for Windows Phone: Windows Phone 8.1 or later

AIDA64 for Tizen: Tizen 2.3 or later


AIDA64 for Tizen is available in the Tizen Store, which is only accessible on Tizen devices.

Dual Monitor Tools – Dual Monitor Tools is a software package for Windows users with dual or multiple monitor setups.

All the tools are open source and free, and each tool is independent so you only need to install or run what you want.

Current status:

The latest release of Dual Monitor Tools is 2.1 and is available for downloading from SourceForge.

The major change between this version and the 1.* versions is that the functionality of the old Swap Screen, Dual Launcher, Dual Wallpaper Changer and Dual Snap tools has been integrated into a single tool.

The tools/modules currently available are:

DMT: This is now the main tool in the system with support for multiple modules. It runs in the notification area and double clicking on it’s icon will bring up the options for all of the modules it supports.

DMT Cursor DMT – Cursor: This is a module within DMT which allows you to restrict cursor movement between monitors. You can lock the cursor to the current monitor, or make it sticky so that extra effort is required to move it between monitors or the cursor can be completely free to move between monitors.

DMT Launcher DMT – Launcher: This is a module within DMT which allows you to launch your favourite applications with a few key strokes and to position them at pre-configured positions on any of your monitors. You can also use it to launch your favourite websites and to run any of the functionality provided by the modules in DMT.

DMT Snap DMT – Snap: This is a module within DMT which allows you to take a snapshot of primary monitor and show it on the secondary monitor. Previous snapshots can be viewed, saved to a file or copied to the clipboard.

DMT Swap Screen DMT – Swap Screen: This is a module within DMT which provides hotkeys for performing common operations on the windows on your monitors. This includes operations like moving the active application window to the next monitor or to a pre-configured position, minimising all windows on a single monitor only and rotating the contents of all monitors.

DMT Wallpaper Changer DMT – Wallpaper Changer: This is a module within DMT which changes the wallpaper at regular intervals and/or at start up. Offers similar support for multiple monitors as to that provided by Dual Wallpaper. Images for wallpaper may come from multiple sources.

Dual Wallpaper Dual Wallpaper: Standalone tool that simplifies the process of using existing images as wallpaper on your monitors. You can either specify a different image on each monitor, or spread an image across two or more monitors or if you have enough monitors, a combination of these.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The security community’s reaction as CISA passes US Senate – On Tuesday, the US Senate has passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a legislation that will allow companies to share information about the cyber attacks they suffered with government agencies, without having to worry about getting sued by users for breach of privacy.

Opponents of the bill – both various companies and privacy advocates – worry that CISA will be used by the government to perform surveillance, as it contains no strong protection of US citizens’ privacy rights.

What’s even worse, the EFF says, is that CISA doesn’t address the real cybersecurity problems that caused computer data breaches like Target and the US Office of Personnel Management.

“The bill now moves to a conference committee despite its inability to address problems that caused recent highly publicized computer data breaches, like unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links,” they noted.

Here are some reactions from the security community Help Net Security received about the passing of the bill.

Operation KKK Is Beginning To Unmask Hate Group Members – Operation KKK, an Anonymous-led effort to shut down the Ku Klux Klan, has begun in earnest. The main Twitter account is reporting that many KKK-related sites are down after concerted hacking efforts and that more are to come as they prepare for an action called HoodsOff on November 5.

The Ku Klux Klan is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center and is said to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members. Operation KKK hopes to unmask 1,000 of its prominent members.

“After closely observing so many of you for so very long, we feel confident that applying transparency to your organizational cells is the right, just, appropriate and only course of action,” wrote the representatives of hacker collective Anonymous on Tuesday. “We will carry out our mission in a responsible, effective manner. We appreciate your patience & support for this initiative.”


FBI planes gathered days of video, electronic surveillance over Baltimore – The American Civil Liberties Union has obtained documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations that detail the surveillance flights made by FBI-operated aircraft over Baltimore last May. The flights included both high-resolution optical and infrared surveillance and at least two electronic surveillance flights, though the exact nature of the sensors used on the electronic surveillance flights was redacted from the documents.

The collection of records, which includes flight logs, evidence logs, and an FBI memorandum justifying the flights, was obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act filing on May 6. The aircraft, which were registered to FBI front companies that are used to conceal the identity of the aircraft flown by the FBI’s Special Flight Operations branch, flew day and night missions over the areas where protests were taking place in Baltimore—areas where riots broke out the previous week after the death of Freddy Grey in police custody.

The records show that the FBI not only provided live video intelligence to the Baltimore police, but also collected and saved high-resolution video footage of hundreds of people participating in protests on the streets of Baltimore—footage that may be used in the future to build profiles on those people. The records offer a look inside the FBI’s secret surveillance operations that span the country, carrying not just cameras but electronic sensors such as “dirt boxes” that can track cell phones on the ground and potentially intercept calls.

In the electronic memorandum filed by the FBI, accompanying evidence records from the surveillance, FBI officials described their reasoning for the aerial surveillance:

National U.S. Privacy Laws Are Needed – As the most recent security breaches have taught us around the world, losing one’s privacy also means losing one of humanity’s unique attributes — its secrets. The hack at Ashley Madison taught us that no stored data is secure, no matter how much we think it is or if a service, by it’s very nature, implies it’s providing the highest caliber of security and discretion. The spill of this data has led to, among other things, massive lawsuits, an departing CEO and even suicide. As time will no doubt show us — we’ve lost our humanity.

Somehow we missed privacy from the initial design of the Constitution and amendments thereafter. This “right” to privacy was not endowed to us by our Founding Fathers nor does it make up the conscience of our jurisprudence system of government today.

Legally, privacy is, at best, a regulation or a state-level law focused around data protection. The United States is not alone in having few overarching privacy laws. Many people in the world do not have a legal right to privacy. Even in the best of scenarios, countries only have laws focused around some notional data element — like a right to healthcare or financial privacy.


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