Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – June 24, 2016

11 Secret Codes That Unlock Hidden Features on Your Phone;  The end is near: Say goodbye to the Windows 10 free upgrade;  Five Android apps for audiophiles;  Linux recommendations for a novice;  How to speed up a sluggish iPhone;  YouTube ready to put live streaming in the palm of your hand  –  and much more news you need to know.

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The end is near: Say goodbye to the Windows 10 free upgrade – The deadline for a free Windows 10 upgrade is right around the corner. Find out what happens after the offer expires.

Can’t activate Windows 10? Microsoft adds troubleshooter to resolve common complaints – New feature aimed at helping users who are unable to activate their copy of Windows 10 after upgrading their PC.

11 Secret Codes That Unlock Hidden Features on Your Phone – The USSD protocol allows you to access hidden features you didn’t know about right from your smartphone’s dialer.

Linux recommendations for a novice: Trying out Linux Mint, Manjaro, and PCLinuxOS – As recommended in my previous post, I have loaded Linux Mint, Manjaro, and PCLinuxOS on an old Samsung N150 Plus netbook. Here are the results, and a few screenshots.

Five Android apps to help pass the time – When you need to kill a little time between meetings, classes, or when you’re on a break, these five outstanding apps will help make the time fly by.

Five Android apps for audiophiles – If you’re a music lover who demands the best sound possible, you’ll be glad to know there are Android apps ready to meet (or exceed) your needs.

YouTube ready to put live streaming in the palm of your hand – YouTube promises its app will offer live streaming on mobile devices, complete with all the features of regular videos.

Controversial $4 smartphone to start shipping next week – After stirring controversy with its dirt-cheap smartphone earlier this year, Indian company Ringing Bells says it has over 200,000 Freedom 251 units ready for shipping.

Instantly Determine Everyone’s True Feelings With This Text Tone Analyzer – Finally, there’s a way to confirm if your friends are true friends without speaking to them in person. The web site Tone Analyzer uses linguistic analysis to determine the tone in texts and e-mails, reports The DeBrief. You simply type up the message from your e-mails or texts on Tone Analyzer, and the site will create a color-coded breakdown of how much joy, fear, anger or sadness that message contains.

How to speed up a sluggish iPhone – Is your iPhone feeling a bit sluggish? Here’s how to give it a refresh while you wait for the iPhone 7 to land.

More than a thousand WhatsApp calls are made every second – Over 1,100 voice calls are made on WhatsApp a second, totaling up to 100 million calls a day.

How to remove Android apps from the battery optimization list – Android 6.0’s standby mode does wonders for battery life, but the feature may cause some of your apps to not function as you’d like. Learn how to remove those apps from standby mode.

Kodi dives into hardware with a Raspberry Pi 3 case perfect for low-cost HTPCs – Kodi’s new Raspberry Pi case looks like it belongs in the living room and provides a little cooling too.

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BitTorrent Now is a radically different take on traditional media streaming apps – BitTorrent Now lets you stream or buy music, movies, and art on iOS, Android, and Apple TV.

Microsoft’s gift for PC builders: associate Windows 10 licenses with your Microsoft ID – As Microsoft hurtles towards the release of its major Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the company has introduced a tool that’s supposed to help PC owners solve common problems with activating the operating system on their computers.

Microsoft’s pricey Surface Book is getting stomped by the ancient Surface Pro 3 – Microsoft customers have overwhelmingly adopted the Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4, according to new data released by AdDuplex, while the pricier Surface Book garners just a small slice of market share.

Instagram will soon automatically translate foreign languages in-app – Bios, comments and captions will begin to be automatically translated to the user’s native language in the ever-popular app.

Instagram’s latest numbers show how easily it is demolishing Twitter – Instagram’s daily active user base is closing in on Twitter’s number of monthly users, and the gap between the companies continues to widen. Why? Three words: Facebook, Facebook, Facebook.

How to hack the Windows 10 registry to customize hidden system sounds – Microsoft decided to hide certain system sounds from users in Windows 10. A simple Registry file hack can bring them back. Mark Kaelin explains how.

12 YouTube Science Project Your Kids Will Love – Be your own Bill Nye the Science Guy with these crazy YouTube science experiments.

Security:

“Godless” apps, some found in Google Play, root 90% of Android phones – Researchers have detected a family of malicious apps, some that were available in Google Play, that contain malicious code capable of secretly rooting an estimated 90 percent of all Android phones.

GozNym Trojan turns its sight on business accounts at major US banks – A hybrid Trojan program created for financial fraud has started redirecting users of four large U.S. banks to rogue websites in order to hijack their accounts.

The number of corporate users hit by crypto ransomware is skyrocketing – The prevalence of ransomware programs, both those that encrypt data and those that don’t, has exploded over the past two years, with companies being increasingly targeted.

The not-so-cute side of emojis: Potential security, privacy, and bandwidth issues – Those adorable emojis may could lead to serious enterprise headaches. Jack Wallen makes the case for why emojis have no place in the business world.

AWS, Microsoft cloud win US government security approval – Three vendors, including Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, have won a key U.S. government authorization that will allow federal agencies to put highly sensitive data on the cloud-computing services.

Company News:

Netflix CEO says Trump will ‘destroy’ what is great about America – Executives from Netflix, Google and Airbnb throw their support behind the Clinton campaign while attacking Trump’s policies.

Uber not the road to riches, BuzzFeed report finds – An examination of leaked documents and Uber’s own calculations finds that drivers in three major markets are making little more than retail workers.

VW to pay $10.2 billion in diesel emissions scandal, reports AP – Anonymous sources told the AP that Volkswagen has agreed to a $10.2 billion settlement package, compensating owners of its diesel-engined cars for violating emissions standards.

FAA propses more fines against Amazon over alleged shipment violations – On the heels of a recent proposed $350,000 fine against Amazon over the alleged improper shipment of hazardous materials comes another two notices from the FAA: a proposed fine of $78,000 and a proposed fine of $52,000, both likewise over the claimed violations of hazardous materials shipment regulations. The shipping instances took place in 2014, and are said to have involved a total of three cardboard boxes.

BlackBerry slips into the red as revenue drops by a third – It looks as though BlackBerry CEO John Chen will still be in charge long enough to launch another couple of phones — although don’t expect any new flagship models.

Google Fiber buys Webpass to speed up broadband deployment in cities – The purchase of a company that delivers wireless high-speed broadband should help Google Fiber build its 1Gbps network quicker and for less money.

Huawei said to be planning own OS to free itself of Google – It seems that Samsung isn’t the only one thinking of breaking away from its dependence on Android and Google. Insider sources are now claiming that Huawei is also mulling over the possibility of creating its own OS, in the somewhat distant feature, in order to not rely on the crutch of Android. These latest “separatist” sentiments have been prompted by recent talk about Google planning to exert more control not just over its own Nexus devices but OEM devices as well.

Battle lines are drawn: IBM prepares Power9 to take on Intel and ARM – IBM has many goals with its upcoming Power9 chip, and one is to challenge the dominance of Intel’s x86 chips in the data center.

Games and Entertainment:

Steam Summer Sale kicks off with huge discounts on PC games and hardware – The Steam Summer Picnic Sale has all the usual steep game discounts you expect, plus some sweet deals on Steam-related PC hardware.

EVGA GTX 1080 FTW review: The most powerful graphics card in the world, made better – The GeForce GTX 1080 is the most powerful graphics card in the world today, and EVGA’s custom GTX 1080 FTW version makes it better in every way.

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Top 10 Video Game Myths – Sometimes the rumors become more interesting than the games themselves. Join WatchMojo as they count down their top picks for the top 10 myths in video games.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Brexit: what happens when Britain leaves the EU – Voters have voted in favor of Brexit: British exit from the European Union. That means that in the coming months, British and European leaders will begin negotiating the terms of Britain’s departure. Britain’s exit will affect the British economy, immigration policy, and lots more. It will take years for the full consequences to become clear. But here are some of the most important changes we can expect in the coming months.

Donald Trump praises Scotland for voting to leave the EU, but it didn’t – Donald Trump praised the Scottish this morning for “[taking] their country back” in the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. This is despite the fact that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU,.

UK to exit the EU: What are tech firms worried about? – Technology firms operating in the UK identify the biggest challenges facing the IT industry following the British public’s decision to leave the EU.

Bitcoin surges past $650 as Brexit result sends UK Pound tumbling to 30-year low – The global finance markets are slipping on Friday after the UK public voted to leave the EU, but there is one currency that is reveling in the uncertainty of the Brexit result: bitcoin.

PC Nerd Quiz: Builder’s Edition – If you still have a permanent scar on your arm from that cheap case and you can reach into a bucket of loose screws and fish out the right one for a PSU by feel, you’re ready to take our PC Nerd Quiz: Builder’s Edition.

Want to develop an app but have no expertise? Google now has a course for you – Google and Udacity say they can turn you into an Android developer in 165 hours.

Facebook is training employees to avoid political bias – After facing questions about how its widely used trending-topics feature is managed, the social network says it’s going to ensure employees are aware of how political bias can affect their work and the company’s products.

Inside the real ‘Imitation Game’: Bletchley Park in 360 – Go on an immersive VR tour of Britain’s code-breaking headquarters, where Nazi encryption was smashed and computer science leaped into the future.

Sperm self-sabotage to make sure mothers have a bigger influence on DNA – Here’s a fun biological fact: men pass on less DNA to their children than women do. The reason for this has been a long-standing mystery, though a study published today leads us closer to understanding.

Something to think about:

“We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities – not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.”

–     Jimmy Carter

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Senate nixes plan for warrantless FBI searches of internet browsing histories – The US Senate on Wednesday narrowly rejected a proposal that would have expanded the FBI’s surveillance powers, including allowing searches of internet browsing histories without a court order.

The legislation, included as an amendment to a criminal-justice funding bill, would have expanded the types of communications records the FBI could have demanded by submitting national security letters, which don’t require court approval. The proposal would have granted the FBI expanded access to telephone and internet records, including browser histories and email metadata.

The amendment, introduced earlier this week by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) to “track lone wolves” in the wake of the Orlando, Florida, massacre, fell two votes short of the required 60 votes to advance.

But the vote doesn’t mean the measure is dead. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) switched his vote to “no” at the last minute, allowing him to bring it up for reconsideration as early as next week.

Microsoft: Government’s data gag order practices worse than first thought – Microsoft has significantly upped the tally of U.S. government gag orders slapped on demands for customer information, according to court documents filed last week.

In a revised complaint submitted to a Seattle federal court last Friday, Microsoft said that more than half of all government data demands were bound by a secrecy order that prevented the company from telling customers of its cloud-based services that authorities had asked it to hand over their information.

The original complaint — the first round in a lawsuit Microsoft filed in April against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Attorney General Loretta Lynch — had pegged the number of data demands during the past 18 months at 5,624. Of those, 2,576, or 46%, were tagged with secrecy orders that prevented Microsoft from telling customers it had been compelled to give up their information.

The monthly average of data requests accompanied by a gag order during the stretch was 143.

U.S. court rules that FBI can hack into a computer without a warrant – A U.S. court has ruled that the FBI can hack into a computer without a warrant — a move that is troubling privacy advocates.

The criminal case involves a child pornography site, Playpen, that had been accessible through Tor, a browser designed for anonymous web surfing.

The FBI, however, managed to take over the site in 2014, and then tracked down and arrested its members by hacking their computers. This allowed law enforcement to secretly collect their IP addresses.

One of the arrested suspects has argued that the evidence against him had been unlawfully seized. But a  U.S. court in Virginia has ruled in favor of the FBI, according to court documents unsealed on Thursday.

The judge, Henry Morgan, ruled that even though the FBI obtained a warrant to hack into the suspect’s computer, none was needed.

The suspect may have used Tor to keep his browsing anonymous, but his IP address still isn’t private information, the judge wrote in his ruling. This is because the IP address is given out to third parties in order to access the Internet and even the Tor network.

White House warns Congress not to kill net neutrality and cable box rules – The White House has urged Republican lawmakers to give up efforts to strip the Federal Communications Commission of regulatory powers and tens of millions of dollars in budget funding. President Obama’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto the House of Representatives’ budget bill for fiscal 2017 because of these and other provisions.

Republicans use nation’s budget to launch broad attack on FCC regulations.

The Republican budget proposal “includes highly problematic ideological provisions,” like ones that “prevent the Federal Communications Commission from promoting a free and open Internet and encouraging competition in the set-top box market, impacting millions of broadband and cable customers,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement of administration policy yesterday.

The budget plan includes sections delaying or preventing implementation of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which were just upheld by an appeals court despite a lawsuit filed by broadband providers. With the case possibly heading to the Supreme Court, a budget rider would prevent enforcement of net neutrality rules until broadband providers have exhausted all appeals. The budget plan would also prevent the FCC from stopping unjust and unreasonable pricing and data cap practices, regardless of the lawsuit’s outcome.

Protesting these provisions, the White House said:

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