Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 9, 2015

FCC Says It Can’t Stop Websites From Tracking You Online;  PC tech support tell customers to avoid Windows 10;  Guided by voices: Siri vs. Google Now vs. Cortana;  TV tech terms demystified, part two: Display types and technologies;  Black Friday is Nov. 27. Here’s why it doesn’t matter;  Windows Insider builds are downloadable again;  Add a printing service to your Android device;  This Google Maps Update Will Save You During the Holidays;  Yahoo Rolls Out A New, Flickr-Powered Image Search;  Extend your mobile battery life with Windows 10’s Battery Saver;  Hackers say they’ve breached U.S. arrest records database;  Apple wins dismissal of employee bag-search lawsuit;  Periscope adds fast-forward and rewind;  See the new Xbox One Experience in action in these two videos;  See Every James Bond Gadget in One Mind-Blowing Video;  What you need to know about Fallout 4 before its release;  Snapchat now gets over six billion views a day;  14 strange but true facts from the history of high tech;  California Is Winning The Digital Privacy Fight’.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

FCC Says It Can’t Stop Websites From Tracking You Online – It had been asked to make the “Do Not Track” setting in many browsers illegal to ignore. The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it can’t force Internet companies like Google, Facebook and ad providers from tracking users online. The commission had been petitioned by the privacy advocacy group Consumer Watchdog to make the “Do Not Track” setting in many browsers illegal to ignore.

Guided by voices: Siri vs. Google Now vs. Cortana – Digital assistants are increasingly integrated with your OS and apps, and they’ve become more than a way to search Google by voice. However, their skill sets vary, so we decided to interview the three assistants to find out which get the job done best.

PC tech support tell customers to avoid Windows 10 – While Microsoft might be revved up about getting people onto Windows 10 as fast as possible, if you call your PC maker’s tech support line, you might be advised to roll back to older versions. When quizzed as to why customers were being given this advice, the companies stated that while they were committed to Windows 10 – what choice do they really have other than to say that? – the job of tech support is to get people’s PCs up and running again, even if that means rolling the system back to an older version of Windows. And that’s exactly as it should be.

TV tech terms demystified, part two: Display types and technologies – Don’t be befuddled by the alphabet soup of acronyms, spec charts, and feature lists you’ll encounter when shopping for a new TV. This guide series explains it all in plain language.

Staples Black Friday 2015 deals include $299 Apple iPad Mini 4, $374 iPad Air 2 – Office superstore chain Staples has taken matters into its own hands, revealing its Black Friday deals on its website early, rather than be subject to the whims of other sites leaking its sale information. While tablets sales have flattened out, iPads are still a popular gift, and Staples is offering deals on four different models. These include $100 off the 16GB iPad mini 4, which will cost $299, or 25 percent off. The base iPad Air 2 will sell for $374, or $125 off, while the 64GB version gets a $150 price cut to $449. If you don’t mind older hardware, Staples also has specials on the 16GB iPad 2 mini –$239, or $30 off — and the original base iPad Air — $319, or an $80 discount.


Black Friday is Nov. 27. Here’s why it doesn’t matter – Retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy launched their big Black Friday marketing campaigns the minute Halloween came to a close. In other words, no need to set your alarm for 5 a.m. to score a place in line for that heavily discounted big-screen TV. “It isn’t Black Friday. It isn’t even Black Friday weekend or Black Friday week anymore,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, which analyzes retail sales. “This year it’s the whole month. It’s going to be Black November.”

This Google Maps Update Will Save You During the Holidays – Never find yourself in the parking lot of a closed store again this holiday season. Google Maps announced in a blog post that it has added holiday hours to its Map and Search function, so if a store is closed for the holidays in the next seven days, your app will alert you. And if holiday hours aren’t listed, Google will remind you that the hours might not be as advertised. “If you want to find out what’s open as the holiday draws close, just search for a place and if the holiday hours are listed, you’ll see them,” the post wrote.

Extend your mobile battery life with Windows 10’s Battery Saver – Once your battery charge falls below a certain percentage, Battery Saver automatically kicks in and throttles back various mechanisms that draw power, thus extending the battery life. The most noticeable thing Battery Saver does when it kicks in is to immediately dim the screen’s brightness, but it also cuts down operating system and app background activity and prevents push notifications from apps that contain live tiles. If you need to get more out of your battery, you can adjust Battery Saver’s settings. Let’s take a closer look.

Windows Insider builds are downloadable again – Judging by Microsoft’s wording — “You will need to install the Windows 10 Insider Preview build on a device that has been previously activated with Windows 10 or with a Windows 10 product key” — the device doesn’t have to have Windows 10 on it when you install the Insider build on it. The device just needs to have had an activated copy of Windows 10 on it at some time, which would include previous Insider builds. So if you have Windows 10 or used to have an Insider build of the OS on your machine, you should be able to install these new builds, even on a blank drive.

Snapchat now gets over six billion views a day, up three times from this spring – Snapchat has continuously added new features over the past year, and it looks like it is paying off. Snaps and videos in the app are now being viewed over six billion times a day. That’s a massive three times increase from just this past May, when the company told Bloomberg that it was serving two billion views daily. The company confirmed the six billion views figure to The Financial Times in a report published this weekend. To put that number in perspective, Facebook announced just this past week that the social network is handling over eight billion video views each day. Facebook has recently placed extra focus on its video offerings, and that figure represents a two-times increase from April.

Periscope adds fast-forward and rewind to replays on Android and the web – While live-streaming continues to be the heart of Periscope, the Twitter-owned video app is making some new investments in the replay experience for people who missed the original broadcast. The company updated today with one of users’ top requests — the ability to fast-forward and rewind through broadcasts. On Android, long-pressing on a replay with one finger will shrink the broadcast down into miniature and show you a time-stamp; drag your finger back and forth to advance or retreat in time. If you’re on the web, you can simply click any point in the broadcast on the scrubber bar and the broadcast will skip ahead.

Yahoo Rolls Out A New, Flickr-Powered Image Search That Returns Your Own Photos – Yahoo announced today an upgrade to its image search engine which now includes a combination of web results as well as images from its photo-sharing site Flickr, including your own photos. The way the service works is that signed-in users will see desktop search results that offer a combination of Flickr’s top public photos, images from people you follow on Flickr, and a selection of your own images.

Pro tip: Add a printing service to your Android device in a flash – If printing to a non-cloud-ready printer on Android has you confounded, learn how to add a manufacturer-ready print service so you can print to networked printers on your LAN.

Less Than 1 Percent of Android Users Have Marshmallow – Most Android users can only dream of having a taste of Marshmallow. A month after its debut, Google’s latest mobile operating system — Marshmallow — is running on less than 1 percent of Android devices. According to newly released developer stats from Google, Android 6.0 Marshmallow has found its way onto just 0.3 percent of Android handsets so far.


Hackers say they’ve breached U.S. arrest records database – The hacking group Crackas With Attitude, which previously infiltrated the personal email of CIA Director John Brennan, says it has breached a law enforcement portal through which one can access tools for law enforcement and arrest records, among other things. The breach is a serious one, and was accomplished via a vulnerability that hasn’t been detailed. One of the breached systems is a database containing U.S. arrest records.

Touchnote postcard app reveals customer data breach – Touchnote, a fairly popular postcards and greeting cards app, has announced that it suffered a data breach recently. The company made the announcement in a statement this evening, saying hackers made off with customer data, including names, home addresses, and email addresses. An investigation is currently underway; at this point the company is uncertain of how many users were affected. Though the breach was unfortunate, there is a small ray of light: the company says the hackers were only able to take information related to identity, and so no financial details or passwords were stolen.

New Android malware type gets root-level access, almost impossible to remove – If you thought the Android platform was on the verge of getting more secure following this summer’s Stagefright exploit, you thought wrong. The security researchers at Lookout have identified a new type of Android malware that, after disguising itself as a popular app, gains root access to a device and works itself so deep into the operating system that it’s nearly impossible to remove. Users might need to have manufacturers reflash the OS, or just flat-out replace the device, as a factory reset won’t be enough.

TalkTalk reveals 157,000 customers’ data stolen in hack – Following TalkTalk’s disclosure of a major hacking incident two weeks ago, in which it was said that data on all 4 million customers may have been accessed, the UK ISP has finally identified exactly how many people have been affected. Last week it put the estimate at under 1.2 million users, but fortunately the real figure is much less: exactly 156,959 customers. These people have had data including names, phone numbers, and email addresses stolen by those behind the cyberattack.

Company News:

Google acquires Fly Labs to build video editing tools for Google Photos – Google said today it has acquired Fly Labs, maker of four iOS apps for quickly editing video, and will put its team to work on Google Photos. “It’s a perfect match for what we built at Fly Labs, and we’re looking forward to folding our technology into Google Photos,” Fly said in a statement posted to its website. The company will continue to offer its four apps — Clips, Fly, Tempo, and Crop — for the next three months, and Google is giving away what used to be in-app purchases for free during that time. Fly said its apps had been downloaded 3 million times in the past 18 months.

Xiaomi makes big strides in India with 1M handsets sold in Q3 – Depending on which research firm you ask, either Huawei or Xiaomi is the leading smartphone seller in their home base of China. Competition there is fierce but focusing solely on the world’s most populous nation would be a mistake. That’s why Xiaomi is celebrating: A representative from the company on Friday says Xiaomi sold one million handsets in India last quarter. Ex-Googler, Hugo Barra, is the a Global VP at Xiaomi and tweeted the news.


14 smartphone makers to embed Opera Max in their Android devices – Opera has plans to become more that just a web browser, and its just-announced partnership with 14 electronics brands, including Samsung and Xiaomi, represents one of the company’s biggest moves in expansion yet. The partnership will see Opera’s data management app, Opera Max, be pre-installed on smartphones from different brands. The company expects that by 2017, over 100 million handsets will ship with its data-compression technology embedded.

AMD sued over allegedly misleading Bulldozer core count – A class action lawsuit has been filed against chip-maker AMD for allegedly tricking consumers into buying its Bulldozer processors by overstating the number of cores contained in the chips. The suit claims that while Bulldozer was advertised as having eight cores, functionally it actually only had four. AMD’s multi-core Bulldozer chips use a unique design that combines the functions of what would normally be two discrete cores into a single package, which the company calls a module. Each module is identified as two separate cores in Windows, but the cores share a single floating point unit and instruction and execution resources. This is different from Intel’s cores, which feature independent FPUs.

Apple wins dismissal of employee bag-search lawsuit – Judge says the more than 12,000 current and former employees were free to avoid waiting in line by not bringing a bag to work.

Verizon may be looking to shed its enterprise business for $10 billion – Enterprises that use Verizon might find their service provider under new ownership if reports that the carrier wants to get out of the corporate game are true. Verizon Communications is considering a sale of its enterprise assets for as much as $10 billion, according to a Reuters report on Friday. It’s still exploring how to structure a sale, and no deal is imminent, the report said. The enterprise business has its roots in long-distance giant MCI, which Verizon acquired in 2006. It operates a global network and offers services in more than 140 countries. The carrier says 99% of Fortune 500 companies are customers.

Games and Entertainment:

Google: Smarter ads in mobile games will be fun! No, really – You wouldn’t be blamed for rolling your eyes, considering the message comes from a company that makes most of its money off advertising. But Jeff Birnbaum, head of gaming partnerships at Google, says that the smarter ads it has in mind pop up less frequently and lower the likelihood of annoying gamers. Relying on ads for revenue also means a publisher can offer you a complete game, rather than one that constantly nudges you to pay for extra lives or levels.


Trivia Crack is an atypical mobile game that relies on advertising for most of its revenue. Etermax

See the new Xbox One Experience in action in these two videos – Are you ready for the new Xbox One Experience? Its release is only days away, and to tease the new software package, Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb—better known as Major Nelson—published a pair of videos on Friday that show it in action.


The state of 4K gaming: What you need to know, from pricing to performance needs – 4K gaming, limited to extremely well-off gamers in its infancy, is starting to seem more attainable for mainstream players. (Note that for the purposes of this article we’re defining 3840×2160 resolution as 4K.) We’ve seen recent drops in 4K display pricing to semi-affordable levels, and graphics technology has advanced as well. The true state of 4K gaming is more complex than a few price drops, though. Let’s dig into the realities and compromises involved with pixel-packed play on today’s hardware.


What you need to know about Fallout 4 before its release – Hardcore Fallout fans already have the game pre-loaded, and already know exactly how they’ll tackle the wasteland as soon as Fallout 4 launches. Players who are new to the franchise will probably find the game to be a wondrous, yet confusing new world. Jumping into an established game series can be a little disorienting, especially a vast free-roaming experience like Fallout 4. has already explained the important story points of Fallout 1, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, and New Vegas, but here are a few things that new players need to know about Fallout 4 in order to prepare for this fictional apocalypse.


Nintendo Hopes Its $2 Billion Yo-Kai Watch Franchise Can Be the Next Pokémon – Does Nintendo still have what it takes to successfully launch a new all-conquering franchise in the US? We’re about to find out. Released on Friday for the Nintendo 3DS, Yo-Kai Watch is a role-playing game that tasks players with fighting and capturing “yokai,” Pokémon-like creatures that are based on Japanese mythology. Nintendo, the game’s publisher, launched the series in 2013 in Japan, where it spans so many video games, toys, movies, cartoons, and comic books that the game’s developer, a company called Level-5, refers to it as a “cross-media project.”


Image: Nintendo

The Force Awakens Japanese Star Wars trailer reveals new details – This week the second full Star Wars trailer was revealed – in Japan. It would appear that either Japan is simply getting their trailers first (very possible) or JJ Abrams is messing with the lot of us. Either way, here’s what you’re about to see: more lines from the film, more scenes that you’ve never seen before, and a really chilling revelation. Like a rudimentary, sparking, red, and evil lightsaber to the neck of your best buddy, heatedly, terrifyingly. This trailer also has a new bit of music to go with it.


Blizzard’s Overwatch is coming spring 2016 for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 – Blizzard’s upcoming team-based shooter finally has a release window. Overwatch, which recently entered private beta, will be coming to PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 — yes, it’s coming to consoles — in Spring 2016. The company additionally announced an Origins edition of the game which will feature (among other goodies) in-game items for virtually every other title in Blizzard’s library. Though it’s traditionally only dabbled in console development, Blizzard found success porting Diablo 3 to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (and then again when it released the Ultimate Evil Edition for Xbox One and PS4). It was also speculated that Overwatch might become a free-to-play game à la Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. That’s not the case — you can pre-purchase the game for PC now for $59.99.


ESPN, ABC, Disney channels head to Sony’s Playstation Vue cable alternative – Sony is filling some of the biggest holes in its streaming-video service, but the entertainment conglomerate hasn’t said if its subscribers will have to pay extra for the new content.

Off Topic (Sort of):

See Every James Bond Gadget in One Mind-Blowing Video – James Bond is known for his gadgets, and a new video lets you see all of them at once. The YouTube channel Burger Fiction has made a supercut of every awesome gadget built for Bond by Q Branch in 16 minutes and 39 seconds. Totaling 193 gadgets in all, this montage of the 007 technology includes a lot of standard grappling hooks, lasers, rockets and so forth, but there are some true gems like the spike umbrella, the classic car ejection seat and the Aston Martin car fire hose.


14 strange but true facts from the history of high tech – The first mouse. The first university-degreed computer scientist. And possibly, the first stupid password. Technology has its twists and turns—read on for the most fascinating ones we found.


Brewie is a countertop brewery that even novices can use – In the future, at-home beer brewing will be a set-it-and-forget-it cinch, and not the convoluted mess we have always known it to be. That’s the feeling one gets from looking at Brewie, the latest in a series of countertop appliances designed to automate the process of beer crafting. The Hungarian startup behind it claims Brewie is better and more automated than the competition—including the PicoBrew Zymatic home brewery we reviewed back in June .


Credit: Brewie

Chinese robot scores new longest distance walked record – A walking robot equipped with four legs has set a new “longest distance walked” record at 134 kilometers. The record was announced by Guinness World Records this week, which reports the robot was created by a team from China’s College of Automation of Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications. All in all, the robot walked just a touch over 83 miles in 54 hours, beating the last record holder. Guinness World Records requires robots taking on this challenge to walk the distance on a single charge or tank of fuel, which ever is relevant, doing so continuously until it runs out of power. The robot, which is named Xingzhe No. 1, spent 54 hours and 34 minutes walking.


Data, The Speed Of Light And You – We — humanity, that is — created 4.4 zettabytes of data last year. This is expected to rise to 44 zettabytes by 2020. And no, I didn’t make up the word “zettabytes.” For scale, it is estimated that 42 zettabytes could store all human speech ever spoken. One zettabyte is around 250 billion DVDs — almost enough fit the whole Friends series.

How to buy dimmable LED bulbs that won’t hum, flicker or buzz – If you’re shopping for LEDs, there are many options to choose from — and dimmer compatibility only complicates matters. With incandescent bulbs, dimming is simple, since the brightness of a the bulb is directly related to the voltage applied. Adjust the voltage applied by raising or lowering the dimmer and the brightness of the bulb will change accordingly. The same isn’t always true with LEDs, however. If you use an LED bulb with an incandescent dimmer switch, you may find that the bulb:

India launches Imprint-India project – The $150 million project aims to boost original research within India, solve major engineering challenges in the country’s relevant domains, and accelerate the process of sanctioning funds for research work.

Once a drunk tweeter, Adele says her posts must now be approved – Technically Incorrect: The world-famous singer says that she can’t risk offending her 24 million followers, so she has her tweets cleared by others before they go live.

4 Ways to Use Twitter Without Ever Actually Tweeting – Twitter can be scary, but you don’t need to post anything to get something out of it.

Something to think about:

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.”

–     Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)


Grammarly – Grammarly makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to 10 times more mistakes than your word processor.

Eliminates most writing mistakes – Grammarly corrects over 250 types of grammatical mistakes, while also catching contextual spelling errors and poor vocabulary usage.

Works wherever you write online – Grammarly helps you write mistake-free on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and nearly anywhere else you write on the web.

Built by the world’s leading linguists – Grammarly’s powerful algorithms are developed by the world’s leading authorities on linguistic technology.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Europe Sets Out Three-Month Timetable To Seal New Data-Transfer Deal With U.S. – The European Commission has said it hopes to reach a deal with the U.S. on a so-called ‘Safe Harbor 2.0′ agreement on data transfers by January 2016 — laying out a three month timetable to hammer out a new deal on transatlantic data flows.

The fifteen year old Safe Harbor agreement, which had allowed some 4,700 companies to self-certify that they would provide adequate protection of European citizens’ data once it was in the U.S. for processing — was ruled invalid by Europe’s top court early last month, leaving businesses scrambling to figure out how to operate legal data transfers in the meanwhile.

The trigger for the ECJ decision? U.S. intelligence agency mass surveillance programs undermining Europeans’ fundamental data protection rights. Intelligence agency access to data remains the sticking point for agreeing any new Safe Harbor 2.0 deal.

The UK Will Police the Dark Web with a New Task Force – The dark web has established itself as an arena for criminals to sell drugs, peddle stolen data, or host and exchange child pornography. With that in mind, the UK’s signals intelligence agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and its top law enforcement body, the National Crime Agency (NCA), have formed a new unit compromising of officers from both agencies to tackle online crime.

“An NCA and GCHQ co-located Joint Operations Cell (JOC) opens officially today,” an NCA press release published Friday reads. “The unit brings together officers from the two agencies to focus initially on tackling online child sexual exploitation.”

This unit has been in the works for some time. Back at the end of 2014, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the plan for its formation at We Protect Children Online Global Summit. At the time, he said that “The so-called ‘dark-net’ is increasingly used by paedophiles to view sickening images. I want them to hear loud and clear: we are shining a light on the web’s darkest corners; if you are thinking of offending, there will be nowhere for you to hide.” At the summit, it was said that GCHQ’s technical skills would be its contribution to the unit.

California Is Winning The Digital Privacy Fight – Starting in 2016, tech companies can tell law enforcement in California to get a warrant if they want access to digital data.

That’s because California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), a landmark digital privacy law that requires California police to obtain a warrant from a judge before they can access electronic information about people’s identities, where they go, who they know and what they do.

CalECPA protects digital information held by companies, including the content of emails and cloud documents, location information and metadata. The state’s electronic privacy law also means that data on consumers’ computers and mobile devices have the same protection from government snooping as paper files.

The protections provided by CalECPA were badly needed. While technology has advanced, digital privacy laws remain stuck in the digital Dark Ages. This has meant that emails, text messages, location information and all of our digital data have been open to warrantless police surveillance.

Tor Wars: The Signal Awakens – The long arm of the law wants ever more eyes, if you’ll pardon the gruesome metaphor. The UK government recently unveiled an attempt to legalize “draconian state surveillance powers.” US voices keep calling for a mythical “secure golden key” for government access to encrypted messages. Canadian police describe encryption plus legal decisions favoring online privacy as “a deadly combination.”

Meanwhile, in meatspace, cameras are everywhere. An EFF report on the thousands of automated license place cameras out in the wild, “mounted on street poles to capture the plates of passing cars as part of ongoing law enforcement dragnet surveillance programs,” revealed that “more than a hundred ALPR cameras were exposed online, often with totally open Web pages accessible by anyone with a browser.” Another informs us that “mobile biometric technologies are now being deployed more widely and cheaply than ever before—and with less oversight”?

Who here thinks that there will be fewer cameras and less biometric analysis in the future? Who here thinks they won’t be fully internetworked? Who here thinks there will never be sky-eye cameras looking down from law-enforcement drones, watching us all? Anyone? Anyone at all? …Didn’t think so.



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3 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 9, 2015

  1. Pingback: Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 9, 2015 | Mon site officiel / My official website

  2. The Grammar site looked good but I always stay away from any site that makes you enter all your personal information before it lets you see how much it’s going to COST you! In this care its a LOT!